Friday, February 29, 2008

The Apprentice Season 1 Episode 2

Create a marketting campaign for the Marquis Jet Card working with the Donnie Deutsch marketting agency.

Things people did right:
Listened to directions. They were told to swing for the fences, and the winning team created an edgy campaign.

Things people did wrong, and what could have been done instead:

  • They chose to not meet with the executives. This is a double mistake. The executives will feel disrespected. And another thing is that the executives are the judges. If you were the executive and there are 2 equal products from 2 different teams, and one team came to meet with you, who would win? Of course the ones that chose to meet with the execs. Also, meeting with the execs can only be good because they will tell you what they are kinda wanting, and what they definitely don't want. You might have the greatest idea, but if its something they don't want because maybe they already have that part covered, than you are just wasting your time. Always meet with the execs. If you really don't think meeting with them is important at all, appoint 1 or 2 people to be liasons and to keep the execs happy.

  • Never present with a shitty PowerPoint presentation. The font was hard to read. And the pie chart was the ugliest pie chart I've ever seen. It didn't fit in. It was the wrong color, the circle was elipse (because people don't know how to how to resize with the correct aspect ratio). It would have been better to cut out the pie chart because it was so bad and tacky no matter what information they were trying to present.

  • Played it safe. Especially when they were told not to play it safe. Donnie Deutsch already has tons of people working for him that are capable of making quality campaigns. The reason that he said to swing for the fences is that maybe if a team of bright individuals swung for the fences, maybe, just maybe they might introduce an amazing idea they haven't thought about. And if they are blown away, they may even use it. The reason why they didn't want or need anything safe is that people at Donny Deutsch can knock that kind of stuff out in no time, and always have something better than a campaign made by a group of people (some amateurs) who don't do this on a regular basis. What is safe? A picture of a business executive with a briefcase stepping off a plane with a smile on his face, shaking someone's hand. You couldn't be more cliche than that. And that is exactly what the men did.

  • Don't bring people into the boardroom to back you up. No one is safe in the boardroom. And the fact that you bring them in might make them turn against you. Your survival comes first, and everything else comes second.

  • Always have an answer when choosing to bring people in to to the boardroom. When Donald is asking you questions like "Why did you bring him in?" he doesn't want to hear, "I had to bring 2, and since I couldn't pick a second one, I chose one at random." If you say, "I can't think of 2, so I'll just bring one." he'll give you a hard time about it because he'll say, "Isn't that stupid? Mathematically, if you bring in someone else, its always in your favor." He's being a hard ass, and he wants to see you defending your choices. Even if you don't have a good reason, just make sure you have a reason, have a solid answer ready because he will ask you to see how well you stand behind your decisions.
What I would have done as the project leader.
My campaign would be based on the two words: Privledge & Power. And how someone with privledge and power still wants a Marquis Jet card.

Picture 1. A ultrawide angle shot of a stewardess that is holding a tray with a dozen Marquis Jet Cards, like she was selling pop corn on a private jet. And you would see the backside of chair of someone of royalty (maybe wearing a crown, or mabye a pope hat), that is raising his hand at the stewardess saying that he wants a Marquis Jet Card.

Picture 2:. A open pink doughnut box, but in this box, there is a baker's dozen of Marquis Jets. And that the person buying this baker's doezen of Marquis Jets is going to pay with his Marquis Jet Card.

Picture 1 will say that this is the card that people with privledge wants to carry around. Picture 2 will say with this card, you have the power to purchase anything.

The video presentation will be to reenforce these two key ideas.

Take-away lessons:
Always meet with the executives. Listen to what they are asking for. When Donny said to swing for the fences, and that failure is not an option, these were the most important things he could have said. They wanted the teams to give it their best shot to blow Donny Deutsch away. Failure was not an option because you can't fail a task that was going to be judged subjectively, and to Donny its not going to matter to him which team is slightly better than the other. He was giving them a shot to come up with something extraordinary.

The Apprentice Season 1 Episode 1

Sell lemonade

Things people did right:

  • Country Time Lemonade. Great idea. Mixes instantly, tastes great, perfect for this task.
Things people did wrong, and what could have been done instead:

  • Omarosa tries to gather the female team together in the suite by yelling out "ladies, ladies, ladies!" out of nowhere when everyone is busy shmoozing. A better way to have done it would have been to take 5 minutes and talk to all other female contestants individually by interjecting into the conversation and say, "Hi sorry to interrupt. By the way I'm Omarosa. I just found a note from Donald Trump and its something we need to meet as a group ASAP. I'm trying to gather everyone for a huddle in 5 minutes. Is that good with you? Great."

  • No styrofoam cups. Does anything look good in a styrofoam cup? No. It actually decreases the value of the product. I would have stopped by one of those supply stores for restaurants and gotten clear plastic cups with tops and straws. When you're thirsty and you see a cup with ice and lemonade, it is very appealing compared to some mystery juice in a styrofoam cup.
What I would have done as project manager:
Location is key. I would have picked the location where there is the most foot traffic. This information would be provided by someone on my team who knows New York and where there is the most foot traffic at certain time of day. The less shade there is in that location, the better.

The pitch in the morning would be "Get your breakfast lemonade. Get your vitamins, and healthy boost of energy this morning on your way to work."
The pitch after the morning would be "For today only we are selling organic lemonade. It will be the best tasting lemonade you'll ever have. Don't miss your chance to try it."

At a hot day, lemonade with ice, will taste like the best lemonade you've over had. To be legit, I would buy a single organic lemon and make sure at least a drop made it into every gallon of lemonade produced.

At this stage in the game, one of the things we have is a lot of team members. And there will be strong sales people, and other people will just be like bad at it. I'll pull the people who are not bad in sales and pull them to the front of the table to make it seem like at least there are some people in line for the lemonade. This creates some interest and trust that the lemonade must be worth a consideration. The people that are good in sales, I'll let them loose so they can sell their asses off.

Take-away lessons:
In the boardroom, David said he would not have been a good leader in this task because sales is not his forte. With that one sentence, he sealed his fate. Of course, a huge requirement of the apprentice is not just some leadership, but top notch leadership skills. You should be able to lead any task. Also in business you have to know sales. As bad as Sam was, David just said he does not have a absolute requirement, and he was fired. For a guy with a PhD, MD, and "high IQ", he was very stupid in the boardroom. Its like coming into a porn audition, and during the briefing, you say "I'm here for the job, but I don't have a penis. Is that going to be a problem?"

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Apprentice Pre Season 1

Why do you want to be "the" apprentice?
Here is the evolution of this answer as I've become more business savvy.
5 years ago, I would have thought, "Wow, 6 figure salary ($250k) a year, for one year guaranteed. That sounds like an awesome paying job. And I'm sure if you did your job well, they would keep you at that salary.
1 year ago, I was thinking, "Why woud you ever want to work for someone else if you had good leadership and business skills? The fact that you want to work for someone else as an apprentice tells me that these people are followers. You are immediately saying, "I want to work for someone else." A real leader would never apply for this position.
Today, I realize now that the real prize is working closely with the top business executives and Donald Trump. By working with them, you learn how they do business, how they manage and lead people, and that is the true prize. The $250k is just icing on the cake. The reason that the job is only a year long is that after a year, a true leader would always want to be the president and ceo of his company. It is of no benefit to either party to make the job any longer than 1 year.

Should you step up as the project leader of the first task?
Hell no. Its ballsy, reckless, and risky. If you win, you make a good impression on DT, but the risks are too high. I would not come all this way to flip a coin. And it immediately tells me that you have no idea of leadership. One of the principals of leadership is you first gotta touch people's hearts, before you ask for a hand. Before the beginning of the first task, it is not enough time to even scratch the surface with everyone. Imagine the last time you tried to give orders to people who did not buy into you or your vision. I bet it was awkward and ineffective. It is naive to assume that these A type personalities will all say "OK, he's the project manager, I'm going to fully trust in his vision wholeheartedly, and execute my role at the best of my ability so we can win this project as a team." The people you haven't connected with might be thinking "I'm going to get this loser fired by screwing him up because I don't like his face." Who knows what type of interesting personalities are lying in wake. These interesting personalities will root themselves out of the game, or if you had more time, you can get them on your side, and there will be less to worry about this stuff. The more time you have to connect with your time before you can step up the better. But step up before people starts thinking you're just flying under the radar.

The gameplan for your first day on the show. First, come with a team name in mind. Think of a good one, have a solid definition on what the name means, and sell it to the group. The name I would chose is "Evil Empire Solutions". You got that right. All of this Magna, Synergy, Arrow, Hydra, Protege, all start sounding the same after 7 seasons. You need a name that stands out. The working name will be "Double E Solutions" that will be given to the businesses we interact with, but for DT and the rest of the contestants, we will be the Evil Empire Solutions. If people buy it, great. I love the name. If they don't, no big deal. We'll decide on a name, and move on.

The second gameplan for your first day and the rest of the stay on the show is to bond and build rapport with the other contestants. Get to know people on your team first, then people in the other team. Because you will eventually have to team up with the members of the other team. The better they know and trust in you, the better. Definitely for the first day is to get to know as many contestants as much as possible. Do not even waste a second.

Lastly, I would drink at most one beer or one glass of wine per night, finishing it will be unnecessary. You don't want to be the weirdo toasting with a glass of milk or OJ, at the end of the night, but you don't want it to affect your performance. Always be ready to go any minute. Always keep in the back of your mind that DT can call you to the boardroom at 3am when everyone else's hangover is just setting in.

Celebrating the 100

Right now, the #1 show, currently being aired, for me is the Apprentice. Other shows I watch are not aired for one reason or another (nip tuck just ended, house and csi haven't put out shows because of the WGA strike, and Top Chef and the ultimate fighter will be returning shortly). So really, I only have one show to watch for the entire week. It sucks but I have plenty to keep me busy.

The Apprentice for me is more than a show. There are always practical things you can learn from it whether its about business, leadership, sales, or people skills. No matter how bad the episode, I can always draw out something I can gain from it. If it is something I already know, at least hearing it again might just be the one ounce of reinforcement that I needed to hear to start implementing it.

So to exercise my brain and to celebrate the 100th episode of the Apprentice, I plan on watching at least an episode a day, for the next 100 days (or until I run out of episodes) and analyze:

  • Things people did right.

  • Things people did wrong, and how they should have done it.

  • What I would have done as the project manager.

  • And point out things I can take away from the episode.
Coincidentally, this is my 100th post which has no relation what-so-ever. It is just pure coincidence. But I thought it was cool anyway to point out.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Stage 6 is closing

YouTube has a solid control of "video sharing", not because the quality of videos are great, but its because of the exposure you get from such a huge number of users.

Stage 6 came in late in the game, and really offered the videos with an unlimited improvement of quality. Unfortunately, what it became was a divx sharing network (mainly copyrighted movies, tv shows, and even video clips). It definitely would have become a leader for that type of content. Unfortunately, its not legal, and it also created a problem with capacity and bandwidth. Who creates HD content? Not everyday users shooting video on their cell phones and pocket cams.

Divx itself is an awesome codec, and superior to flash video in almost every way. Unfortunately, with the level of efficiency you would expect less space required for video storage, but on the contrary, people were uploading 350-700MB copyrighted videos.

But who really screwed up? The founders of Stage 6. Stage 6 had a lot of potential, but I have the feeling they did not take it as seriously as they should have. First, put a 100MB limit. This would discourage people putting up shows and movies.

The UI seemed amateurish. It was very innovative, and I really loved most of it, but there were a couple of fundamentally wrong things that needed better decision. One being is the pain in the ass log on system. C'mon. A site that discourages people from logging on by making it a pain? You need to be able to sell this number to advertisers. Tell the advertisers, I have this number of male and female users at this age range, and their interests are ... But nope. They did not care. They could have secured some advertising, but yet again, their business savvyness was very lacking. I don't think it was their expertise or priority.

I found some crucial bugs, one with video resolution, and the other with the object embed links. I emailed them how to fix it easily. Basically their object embed links that were automatically generated were broken, and I told them how to fix it. You want people to post stage6 videos to forums and blogs (free advertising??), but they pretty much prevented people from posting videos by not fixing this bug. You can fix the links yourself, but I don't think most people was expecting to do that. Knowing how to fix it, I still would not bother unless I really had to. With my love of Stage 6, how many stage 6 videos did I post on my blog, and how many youtube videos have I posted here? I like point and click convienience as much as the next guy. This just tells me that their business plan did not exist.

I saw their message saying they really tried to keep stage 6 alive by selling it or spinning it off into a business. If they really knew how to sell it, I would have to make the assumption, because of what I noticed mentioned above, that their focus on what they were selling was wrong. It is great technology and great content but that is the interest of the users, not the buyers of business. It also seemed like a good percentage of users were crying for an option to make stage 6 a paid service and they'd be happy to pay. I got the feeling that they assumed not to even try this even though I'm sure it crossed their mind. So they pretty much gave up without even trying.

Here is what I would have done:

  • Keep users logged in using cookies and sessions to track registered users who have logged in before, like YouTube.

  • Fix the damn embeded links generation.

  • Push for registration, but don't force it. YouTube does it by requiring you to register to watch mature content which might be something like someone breaking their leg, or some extreme political activisim. Its the right amount of incentive to register without pushing users away. It is the brilliant yet subtle way YouTube does things that make them successful.

  • Put some intelligence in gathering better demographic information from registered users. Track some patterns on what the users like to watch so you can do some targetted advertising. This is google territory.

  • Create premium accounts for paying members. Obviously people were willing to pay. Whether it would be to upload content, or watch content at HD, or download the file, or have more priority when downloading, they had a lot of options. They did not even try. Again, it is infinitely better to say, yeah, we got 10,000 users out of 1 million who are paying $5 a month, rather than telling your buyers, "I'm not sure if people are willing to pay. We never tried."

  • Hire a marketting and sales team to sell ads. When you show your buyers you already have made some money, even if it is a little, it is infinitely better than saying "no, we haven't made any money yet, but you can probably sell advertising if that's what you might want to do."

  • Brainstorm how potential buyers could benefit from the technology, content, and demographics, and sell a projected outcome. The above needed to be done before you can take this step.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

sous-vide vs confit

sous-vide, you vacuum pack all your ingredients and put it in a water bath at a specific temperature for a specific amount of time.

confit, you rely on the meat to have fat (a lot of fat), so that when you cook the meat, the fat renders into a liquid, it will be immersed in its own fat for a set amount of time. The temperature doesn't need be precisely held or be cooked in a vacuum sealed bag that sous-vide requires, and can be cooked in an oven.

you can use the sous-vide method to make something confit, as long as the meat is very fatty like duck, but you cannot use confit method to make sous-vide anything

sous-vide, and safe food handling

First things first. I've gathered this information by researching the web. I'm not an expert on this subject by any means and I suspect I'm not entirely correct on some of these points, but here is the information that I've gathered.
E. coli or salmonella needs to exist first for you to get e. coli or salmonella poisoning. It doesn't spontaneously generate. Just because you eat chicken that did not reach 165 degrees is not going to give you salmonella. If there is e. coli or salmonella contaimnation, it would make it on the news, and then the meat would be recalled.

I understand that people usually do cook chicken to 165 degrees, but not beef. Hasn't it occured to you that the restaurant needed to cook beef to at least 145 to kill e. coli, yet you ordered your steak medim rare, and you know medium rare means it hasn't come above 125.

So what is really happening here is, the restaurant is taking a calculated risk that, if e. coli outbreak were to be discovered, they would be informed before it is served to their customers. Whenever you order an egg sunny-side up, you are taking a calculated risk. And people who bbq and cook anything at home below medium well are also taking calculated risks.

First lets talk about conventional cooking, not sous-vide cooking. Conventional cooking relies on a specific temperature, where if the core/center of the meat reaches a certain temp, the e. coli and salmonella is killed because it only needs to stay at that temp for a second or two.

e. coli is killed at 145 degrees F (65 celsius)
salmonella is killed at 165 degrees (73-74 celsius)

e. coli can cause serious and life threatening complications.
salmonella is usually not life threatening and most people recover from it without treatment after 4-7 days.

General cooking guide (conventional cooking), center/thickest part of the meat needs to reach
meat: 145 (10 degrees higher for ground meats)
seafood: 145
poultry: 165-175

With sous-vide, you can rely on lower temperatures provided they hold that temperature for a longer time.

You can effectively kill e. coli at a lower temperature than 145 degrees if you hold that temp for a longer period of time. The draw back is that its an exponential curve. So techinically, the sous-vide method has the potential to provide safer food that is cooked at lower temperatures. For example if you cook poultry at 165, and you hold it for 2 seconds kills the same amount of bacteria that you would kill at 145 degrees by holding that temp for 3 minutes, and you would do the same if you cooked at 130 degrees for 1.5 hours. I think at 125 we're talking 6-8 hours, and 120 is like 3 days. For more information, you can check out

There is one catch with sous-vide. On top of the risk of salmonella and e. coli, there is an added risk of botulism. The technique of killing botulism in vacuumed environments is not as crafted and researched like e. coli and salmonella. But to prevent it, you can follow these steps.

  • Don't prepare the food, and freeze it for more than 30 days.

  • Safely handle your food during preparation.

  • Don't let the meat sit in the non frozen section for more than 2 days before preparation.

  • Never let parishable ingredients or any meat sit out during prepartion.

  • Avoid cross contamination.

  • Freeze immediately after preparation.

  • Pasteurize ingredients whenever possible.

  • Store your food below 1 degree Celsius (and don't let it come above 1 C unless you are going to prepare it.)

At the moment, I'm more interested in preparing good food with the sous-vide method, not preparing packaged food days or weeks ahead.Which means I'll be preparing fresh ingredients, vacuum sealing it, and putting it in a water bath right away. So there is no concern there. I'm planning on cooking my chicken to 165 no problem. As for e. coli, steak is never good cooked more than medium rare so I'm going to take a calculated risk by buying from a good source, and relying on myself to not buy or cook funny looking meat.

Friday, February 22, 2008

How to eat oreo cookies

Food Saver: $125
A Box of Oreo Cookies from Costco: $7
A carton of 2% Reduced Fat Milk: $3

Getting to experience a taste of perfection? Priceless.

Here is a video of me showing how I like to eat my oreos. A vacuum sealer is required.

As the air is sucked out of the oreo, you can see the bubbles come to the top. When I push the button to return the pressure to normal, air along with more milk is pulled into the oreo. This creates a dual-action-milk-absorption that leads to yummy goodness.

It works best with low fat milk as thick milk, aka whole fat, is generally bad for oreo dunking. I would not recommend skim milk, even though skim milk absorbs the best, skim milk tastes terrible.

After you've tried it once, you'll be convinced this is superior than any dunk method, and won't mind going through the trouble.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

sous-vide update

I bought a Food Saver and a digital candy themometer which has .1 resolution in degrees fahrenheit or celsius. the best thing of all, it was only $25, and it seems like its very accurate and sensitive. The .1 degree is sensitivity is key because you can add about 1/8 cup of water into a heated water bath, you know exactly how to steer the ship. With normal digital thermometers that only offer 1 degree of resolution (115 degrees instead of something like 115.7 degrees), I would find it most difficult to get the temp just right. You wouldn't know if it was going up or down in temperature until you need to make some drastic adjustments. With the 6 qt stock pot I've already had, I've got a really awesome setup for relatively cheap, rather than spending a few hundred dollars or even a thousand. When I turn the stove to almost its lowest setting, I know I can control the temp and hold it to any temperature I desire. Its perfect. More on that later. Food Saver was pricey but it is a good model from costco, came with 3 canisters, and its definitely a lot better deal than buying it elsewhere.

I've tried few recipes.

Salmon at 114 degrees for 20 minutes. Probably best salmon I've ever had. literally, the weight of the work was enough to sink into the salmon.

Top Sirloin for 95 minutes at 130 degrees. Marinated then grilled before sous-vide'ing. It looked amazing when I cut into it, but it may just been the cut of the meat (USDA choice from costco) but I may have been expecting too much. Maybe I'll try 125 next time.

Tilapia at 125 degrees for 40 minutes. I didn't think it turned out good at all. It was a combination of things. I forgot to put the butter in the bag so I can poach it in butter, and I could have done without the dry mustard, enough though there wasn't much in there. The temp would have been too high. It felt like it was too tough, and chewy. I'll try 118 degrees for half the time next time.

One last word about the FoodSavers. The different models of FoodSavers is all marketting BS. Basically, the only difference is a little bit of manual controls. The 2 features missing on the cheaper models that look identical are buttons that control vacuum only without a sealing finish at the end, and a canister button. This button lets you control how much air is sucked out. And the other feature is the canister button which is "suck all the air, and don't seal" when the hose is attached. Surprisingly, the model they have at costco is not on the website. Its the same model as the most expensive one, except it has one less speed setting. Speed of what? Speed of the sucking. Yeah, utterly useless, and definitely not worth spending extra $105 ($85 + $25 for the canisters that come in the Costco pack). So Costco is definitely the place to get a FoodSaver, and supposedly the bags are about 40% cheaper at Costco also.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

sous-vide, Top Chef 4, and the CIA

Interesting wiki of the day:

Whenever Hung from Top Chef 3 used this technique, the level of praise from the judges was unreal. Reading up on the technique, I really want to try it. Doesn't really look hard. It might take some equipment like a vacuum sealer, and 2 digital thermometers, but I think I can do without the expensive immersion circulators at least for a while with the sacrifice of some precision.

Hung was from the Culinary Institute of America. When people (Anthony Bourdain) heard that, they immediately thought he was over-qualified. Here is a classically trained chef against mostly self-taught, but still successful chefs.

Top Chef Season 4 seems to be very different. It looks like there are 4-5 contestants that are from the CIA, and majority of the rest from other culinary/cooking schools. And maybe 2-3 self-taught cooks.

Are we going to see an all out sous-vide fest (influence from Hung, but mostly due to CIA's influence) on Top Chef 4?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Seafood Asparagus Risotto

Frozen Mixed Seafood (Trader Joes)
Cherry Tomatoes (Any ripe tomato would do)
Parsley (For garnish only)
Parmesean Cheese
Arborio Rice (Up to 8oz per person)
White Wine (Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay)
Fresh Unsalted Butter
White Onion
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Chicken Broth (Veg broth OK)

Chop asparagus into 1 inch pieces
Dice onions
Dice tomatoes
Finely chop parsley
Chop butter into cubes

Heat up extra virgin olive oil in a large pan.
Bring chicken broth to a simmer.
Cook onions in oil until they are translucent. No need to carmelize or brown them.
Add rice. Toast rice.
Add 1/4 of white wine for every 8oz of rice.
After rice absorbs all the liquid, add 1/4 cup of chicken broth for every 8-16oz of rice. Mix. Repeat 8 times.
Throw in frozen seasfood and asparagus into remaining chicken broth.
Add 2 tbsp of butter for every 8 oz of rice.
Add 1/2 tbsp of parmesean cheese for every 8 oz of rice. Mix and taste to see that the rice is all the way cooked through.
Add salt & pepper to taste.
Plate and garnish with diced tomatoes and chopped parsley. Serve with white wine.

Things to improve for next time:
To keep with the texture of the dish, more of the stem of asparagus should be dicarded. I would not use at least the first 2 inches of the asparagus from the stem as it is too hard to be mixed in with the risotto.
When buying chicken broth, buy a box of chicken broth for every 16 oz of arborio rice.
When buying arborio rice, buy the smaller grains if you had the choice. smaller is easier to took and will come out less heavy.

iPod Touch 32GB

There are rumors going around that the 32GB iPod Touch will be $399 relatively soon. I had originally said put at least 32GB on this thing and I'll consider buying it.

Over the weekend, I managed to encode all 180 episodes of seinfeld and put it on my iPod. Seinfeld is the perfect show for short viewings while standing in line because you don't need to be engaged from the story from start to end to enjoy it. I can say as long as I have my iPod, I'll never be bored in line or in a waiting room ever again.

The resolution on the iPod Touch is exactly double the 5G iPod, so you need more space per episode. I've realized 32GB is not going to be enough for me to consider buying it. I know we are still at the beginning of using SSD to replace hard drives and apple likes to be the pioneers at implementing technology, but apple needs to understand that bigger screen should mean more storage, not less.

What would make perfect sense to me is if apple thickened up the iPod touch to twice the thickness and put the 160gb harddisk in there. The iPod classic on the other hand will be better used as an audio player where switching back quickly between songs, longer battery life, smaller device, and less space (like 16-32GB) would make whole lot of sense. The iPod touch is a big device, so there is no need to make it that thin as the case you'll be buying for it will double the thickness anyway. Apple got it backwards. C'mon apple, stop jerking us around. Give me the 160GB thicker iPod touch with the spinning harddisk. In 3-4 years when the SSD technology can give me a 256GB SSD for the same money and then it'll be a good way to save some battery and make it slimmer.

If I had my own garden

I would grow:

Passion Fruit

I saw some cherimoyas at Vons the other day, and not only the quality as poor, but it was astronomically expensive.

Passion Fruit glaze is one of the most heavenly glazes on earth and could take an average dessert and make it extraordinary.

If I could, I would love to eat guacamole and salsa on a daily basis.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

With only half an ass, you'd just topple over

In the animal kingdom, even dogs play fight to prepare for real life situations where fighting may be necessary.

I learned an interesting lesson about a week ago. A friend was back in town from Taiwan, and it happened to be close to her birthday. The night before, we had decided we were going to eat at Old Town San Diego. And I thought we had decided on a place, which wasn't true. No time was set, and we just left it at that.

It was around 4:30PM or so, and we still hadn't even come up with a time. I thought it would work in everyone's favor, especially with such a large group, if we had some general guidance on when to meet. I had a restaurant in mind, but unfortunately I didn't know the name of the place. I wasn't looking to lead the group, just guide them a bit. I figure I help set the time and the general place, we'd eat at the restaurant that everyone kinda had in mind or at least seen at one time. My backup plan was Casa de Bandini or we could let the group figure out the rest when we got there. But thinking back, that was just not right on so many levels. Its bad planning for one, and bad leadership.

That's where I could have done better. Even without finding out the name of the place, I learned that a lot of the places had shut down. After learning that piece of information, I thought I'd chance it and hope that the restaurant hadn't closed. And my backup was Casa de Bandini, which was a very successful restaurant. I had assumed that there was no way that one could have been closed. Knowing where both the restaruants were, I didn't bother calling them to see if they were still open. The restaruant without a name usually accomodated large parties without reservations on the weekdays no problem, so I thought we were ok with the plan. But surely, its not a failproof plan by any means.

When I got in the car, I had learned that Casa de Bandini had closed, so there went my backup plan. And I got a call saying that the restaurant could not be found. So I asked the group that was already there to find a restaurant, but it wasn't really a task that I should be assigning when I should have at the very least another restaurant in mind.

Another critical error was that I had gotten there late when I should have been the first one there. When I finally got there, sure enough the restaurant with no name was closed, and we had no decision restaurant or reservations.

And I'm making it sound like the night was a total disaster, which isn't true. We had found a suitable place to eat at by 7:45 (the plan was to meet at Old Town at 7:30), and it was an enjoyable night for everyone. It was hardly a failure because it was amongst friends, and the depth of the task (finding a place to eat) wasn't really much of a task. But definitely I felt I did a pretty poor job on many levels.

First was my level of involvement that I thought I was putting myself into. I thought I guide/lead the group by planning just enough to get the ball rolling, and we'd figure out the rest. What happened was people had put more responsibilities on me, than I thought I was putting on myself. And really, that is a default assumption to make by other people. When I know that someone else is planning something, my mind switches off from planning anything because its already been planned, and all I need to do is show up. So the lesson to take here is, if you're going to plan/take charge/lead, you can't half ass it. Either plan the whole thing out, or don't step up at all.

#2, Have a failproof plan. I was wrong to assume that the restaurant would be open, and that no reservations would be fine, especially having learned that there were a lot of closures. If you don't know the name of the place, find it, or decide on somewhere else. I could have killed 2 birds with 1 stone here by making reservations.

#3, Be the first one there. I should have been there before anyone, even if it meant I had to drive alone. This would also be good for providing people directions, where to park etc.

If the restaurant with no name was open, then the night would have seemed like it went off without a hitch, or if I just said yes to Fandango's because I had eaten there before and it was fine. But then I would have missed out on the learning experience. Of course these are all things that make obvious sense, but until you've learned from mistakes, you may not be pushed to implement them. You may get away with arriving in time with everyone else, until that one day, you realize you can have saved youself from disaster if you had gotten there before everyone else. I've learned to not only plan better birthday dinners, but I can take lessons here to be better in critical business event planning.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Here is my prediction of the presidential election

I don't usually bother with elections or politics but if I had to guess the turnout, here is what's going to happen.

Hiliary or Obama will win the popular vote by a wide wide margin. Something like 60% to 40% over the republicanss. But somehow, the republicans will win the presidential election. Because our voting system, although is much better than the voting system in Mexico, Africa, and IRAQ, it is still a sham. And the news headlines will light up about the apparent flaw in our voting system and how it needs change. All the while our republican president rules over us for the next 4-8 years.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Analog TV braodcast being shut off Feb 2009

I think this is terrible news for people in LA. Analog TV in LA and I'm sure most cities in United States actually works. Living in San Diego, this is a total blessing. For the 11+ years I've lived here, Analog TV has never worked. At best you would get OK reception for 2 channels, and 3 channels for an elaborate Antenna setup. The good thing is Analog TV is getting cancelled in replacement of Digital TV which actually works, and works well in San Diego. It finally seems like there isn't some massive conspiracy from the cable companies trying to keep no-monthly-service TV impossible for customers.

Now if only we can get rid of nasty 720p and 1080i, and just have everything at 1080p, it would be great.