Saturday, December 31, 2005

A summary of 2005

I'm sitting here at the sports bar at the MGM casino in Vegas. I'm updating my blog through my BlackBerry. Yup I love technology. My friends are still playing poker but it seems that I still haven't climed out of my bad luck streak. I'm not here to make money anyways and the relatively small amount that I lose is worth the entertainment value. I'm not afraid to admit it could be my game. I average playing once every 2 months these days rather than daily (when I used to play small stakes through the web or at friends houses once or twice a week) which I was doing last year. Poker has taken a back seat to all of my new hobbies and interests. I still enjoy the game though.

This was a pretty spontaneous trip to Vegas. I didn't make any new years plans. Then ran into a Stan at Sam woo's of all places while shoping at 99 ranch. He said he was on his way to Vegas the next day and invited me to crash at his friend's house. A place I was thinking of going to anyway but had probably would have passed on because the prices of the rooms at Vegas was a little outrageous even at the no name casinos.

Still about 3 hours till the countdown at the strip. It has started to rain here and looking at the rain clouds it could be a lot more than drizzle. Hopefully the fireworks will still happen and i'll be able to experience the chaos I've been told to expect.

So anyways I always reflect on the the past year hoping to take away the lessons I've learned so that the next year could be better than the next.

First, after reading the new year resolutions I made last year, I'm reading through and it looks like it didn't really have the affect that I was looking for. So there won't be a reward for keeping my resolutions. The first one, "get to work on time". We all know how this went. I can't say that punctuality was the highlight of my performance at work this year. Number two. Sleep earlier. Nope. I would give myself a big fat F on this one. 3. Eat healthier. I would give mysled a B on this one. Did prett well. Could have done better. 4. Keep room cleaner. I would give myself a B+ on this one. I did a lot better on keeping everything much cleaner. In my opinion I've been exceptionally clean in the common areas of the house ever since I've moved to Eric's house. My room could use some work. But considering how small my room is now and there isn't much to clean. I also have no choice but to keep it clean so I have walking space. 5. Save money by eating out less. I'll give myself a C on this one. I have been good that I never spend money on fast food or eating out alone, but I have been eating out at work almost everyday for a good portion of the year. 6. Keep on going to the gym 3-5 times a week. I can give myself an A+ on this one. It wasn't easy because there definitely we're some days where all I could think about was skipping on the gym but I made it there 99+% of the times. Definitely worth the A+. Aside from the last one, I can say that the fact that these were resolutions to begin with didn't affect much of anything. So why didn't it work? That is a complex answer that everyone with failed resolutions should think deep abou but I'll admit I'm going to approach resolutions a lot diffently next year and have a lot better understanding of why it didn't work and have a completely different approach for how I can make my life better by improving on these types of things that people call resolutions. All resolutions are are things one can change about them selves to make their lives better, but there is usually no strategy behind it. I'm not going to even call them resolutions. I just know the things I can do to make myself better and focus on changing them. Not really gonna list them like last year. Except the part about sleeping on time and getting up early and being productive in the mornings. I've realized that its the primer of everything anyone wants when it comes to being successful with life in general. I wish I had realized how absolutely important it was than anything I've ever tried to control in my life. That is all I'm going to say about it. Its important enough that I don't even need to make it a resolution. I should just be doing it. Other than that, for everything else, I know what I want and I'm going to be pursueing it by putting in 100%. I don't need it to be a resolution to find a reason to be proactive about it.

As for the analysis of everything I remember for the first half of the year, there isn't too much to mention. I'm sure I had my hobbies. I'm sure a lot of them positively affected my life like all the knowledge and things I've gained by doing the Abs Diet for example. At the start of the second half of the year I had to finally move out of beautiful La Jolla. Counting living on campus, I was lucky to live there for almost 9 years. I drive through sometimes running errands and can't help but appreciate how good the upkeep is, how everything is less than 15 miles away, how short my commute was to work, and how much I miss living there. I moved into Eric's house and although it is in the center of Mira Mesa where it takes at least 10 minutes to get to any major freeway in any direction you go, living there has been nothing but good. Always fun to have new roommates if you get lucky finding good people to live with.

Late August I met up with Cherie after having first met her exactly 2 months before while having some drinks with friends of friends. When everything seemed to click she was unfortunately leaving for Taiwan in a day, but that didn't stop us from getting to know eachother. All I can say is that its been a refreshing experience meeting someone like her. I look forward to getting to know her better by keeping up with daily emails and on my second trip to Taiwan in late Feb.

There is a lot to look forward to in 2006. Let's hope its a great year. For anyone who actually still comes to read my blog, happy new year everybody!

Friday, December 16, 2005

A wise decision by the apprentice.

A good number of people boo's when Randal said he should not be hiring Rebecca that night, and my first impression was, "wow, didn't expect that. i thought he'd be more generous." Because that would have not been my gut reaction. Thinking it through, it was absolutely the best decision. Donald put him in a lose/lose situation. He gave him the choice of (A) a tie. He is so much more accomplished academically and in the corporate world, yet, if he says he should hire rebecca, it would pretty much be a tie, and he would be acknowledging that Rebecca is in the same class as him, or that he himself is only as good as a 23 year old journalist. A very accomplished one, but definitely not in the same league. And every time Donald Trump had to introduce the winners of last year's apprentice, he'd always have to acknowledge them both. And that would definitely take the lime light away from Randal, who shouldn't be mistaken that he was the one who actually won. The other choice (B) was to look like a greedy backstabbing bastard. But people who understand business and competition should see that Randal has made the right decision, and if Rebecca would have won, and agrees that Randal should be hired, then it would have been a decision that showed the lack of experience in both competition and business. My impression of Rebecca was never that great anyway. She is definitely one of the most foolishly loyal people I've seen, but she was never more than anyone who can sound compelling by raising her voice when she's put on the spot, and nothing more.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Back in the US

Its a place where I can pay $8 for a lunch, and not be satisfied.
A place where people drive over 45mph, and are driving too fast to avoid any crazy people cutting into your lane.
A place where you're used to driving 20 miles for a bite to eat.
A place where just about every theather has stadium seating.
A place that doesn't sell guava, cherrymoya, or passion fruit.
A place where you can walk with your friend and not have 3 people cut you off every 30 seconds.
A place where you have to make your own watermelon juice.
A place where you can use 5 large paper towels to wipe your hands during lunch and throw them into our oversized trash cans.
A place where a cab ride costs you $20 to just get around.
A place where you don't have to worry about dodging scooters on the sidewalk.
A place where you have to leave 7.75-8.25% tax and then tip the waiter 15-18%.
A place where you have room to walk straight on the sidewalk.
A place where Tea Time (aka Afternoon tea) has no meaning.
A place where people care about getting sued so they don't have marble floors on wet ground on the streets.
A place where you can't buy tea boiled eggs at 7-Eleven, but you can find a bottle of Pinesol and a mop there.
A place where you can fall flat on your back onto your matress and not worry about breaking your back.
A place where if something is really stinky, it immediately goes in the garbage.
A place where if you opened up a coffee shop and decided to base your logo off the starbucks logo and be blatant about it, you'd immediately get sued.
A place where fresh means refridgerated and packaged, not bleeding and left exposed out in the open.
A place where all the street signs are lit and have font big enough to read.
A place where the police actually have important roles other than directing traffic.
A place where you don't need a police officer to tell you its ok to go when the light turns green.
A place where if your biggest local competitor moves in next to you, it actually helps business.
A place where you can read all the signs and speak to everyone in English!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Taipei 101

The building is truly a gem. It has the stylings of the old chinese architecture while having the latest and greatest when it comes to technical aspects of a skyscraper. Yet, when you go to the rest rooms, they don't have the paper toilet seat covers (w/splash guard). I wonder who forgot to think of that one. Although I can't remember if I've found one here. The last time it was available to me was on the plane flight over here. While on the subjects of toilets, today was my first encounter with the squat toilets. at least that's what they looked like. I had no idea how to use one, but luckily one out of the 4 stalls had a regular toilet. so I was safe. This happened at the Danshui MRT station.

So tomorrow is my last day here. I have roughly 24 hours left here. It feels like all I did here is the local stuff, but now that I think back, I have done a lot of the touristy stuff. I've gone to Danshui twice now, and been to the top of Taipei 101, and probably have gone to every night market in Taipei. Probably the only 2 places I wanted to go to but didn't have time to this time was the National Palace Museum and maybe checked out Beitou. I'll be back here in less than 3 months anyway. I'll probably be delaying that trip a week longer as well. We're thinking of going to Hong Kong for a few days flying out of Taiwan during that trip.

Today was an interesting day. We met one of Cherie's aunts, and an uncle who is an archintect, and he was telling us about all the buildings he was working on (five star hotels, 40 story buildings and such). Which was very cool.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

There will definitely be things I'll miss when I leave here

other than the obivous, I really like walking around and just being able to pick up some fresh watermelon juice, or something on a stick for about a dollar. i think part of why everything is so much cheaper here is because they are forced to be so much competitive driving the prices down for the consumers. i don't think most of the street vendors need to worry about a business license. either the police just look the other way, or the police will show up, and all the carts know to just hide away untill they are gone. and also, there probably isn't anything like how you can pay the city money so that similar shops selling similar items (like what starbucks does to coffee shops that want to open close by) can't open next door. in the US, when a bottle of water costs $3, or a hotdog costs $4.50, even though i'm thirsty or hungry, i'll likely pass. When a hotdog and some fresh fruit juice costs $1 on the other hand, its a deal you cannot pass up.

The temperatures here fell really low here all of a sudden yesterday. so we went and got a heater, and some gloves to keep warm. Went to a night market yesterday to eat some stinky tofu that Elena preferred (Cherie likes the one near by where she first stayed at when she got here). This one was less stinky, and the sauce was a lot more spicy. I think i like the less stinky one better. After that, we went to the GongGuan area because cherie wanted a jacket, and we got some red bean soup with black seasame mochi for dessert. today, we went to all you can eat hot pot before Cherie headed off to class.

Sunday, December 4, 2005

There must be a better way

it probably has a lot to do with the number of mopeds on the streets but mopeds are required to ride on the crosswalk to get up onto the sidewalk so they can park there. isn't there something really wrong with that? i don't think you can even ride your bicycle on the sidewalks without someone pointing out to you that you can't do that in the US. along with that, there are some crazy drivers here. pretty much, the lines on the road are suggestions. i've been on a bus where the 4 left lanes with buses on each lanes are all making left turns at once, and they just all somehow manage to squeeze into 2 lanes before completing the left turn. oh yeah, the horn is different used differently here. like you are pretty much required to honk if you're passing by someone pulling out or parking, and you want to make sure they know you're coming. yeah, you'd probably piss off a lot of people if you did that all the time in the US.

i've been riding the bus a lot, but yesterday was the first time i was in a car. cherie's cousin jimmy was driving a small light car, so at least i knew a quick evasive maneuver was possible if we needed to. he drove pretty agressive, but also picked up that he was a good driver so i didn't really fear for my life. but it was everything i pretty much imagined it to be. it was kinda fun actually. so we drove to the top of this mountain and got this amazing view of taipei. slightly under us, there was a place called "The Top". It was one of the coolest places I've been to just relax and have some drinks and appetizers. You get a lounge/ottoman type chair and you get the same awesome view of taipei while shipping drinks. unfortunately it started raining. but we got in this canopy, and it was still cool.

cherie has school this week, so i'll have to work around her schedule for the remainder of the trip.

Friday, December 2, 2005

Taipei, the real land of opportunity

just the sheer number of stores, and seeing a 7-11 and a bank on every block tells me that this town is been booming for quite a while now. considering how much cheaper the cost of living here is, i'm assuming starting a business here is so much easier here than in the US.

i delayed my return flight so i will be returning to the us on december 11th.

had a mos burger today for lunch. it was like having yoshinoya beef bowl in burger form. we went to this japanese market that was really cool. they had the largest selection of pocky sticks i've ever seen. they had that and an impressive collection of everything else you'd find in a super market. i'd love a place like that back in the states.

i tried stinky tofu finally, and it definitely was edible this time. i can't say i'm a big fan of it just yet, but it tasted more like the korean fried marinated tofu you can even get at costco these days. the sourness in the koreaqn version comes from vinegar, the sourness of the stinky tofu comes from the fermentation. after that, we went to 2 differnt night markets, and i actually did some shopping. tomorrow, we're going to Dansui with one of cherie's cousins. cherie has never been there either so it should be fun.