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Batman... and sex trafficking Mar. 26th, 2016 @ 04:24 pm
If you haven't watched the new Batman vs. Superman movie yet, please beware that there are SPOILERS BELOW. Nothing significant in regards to the plot though, but I'll try not to let too much out.




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I enjoyed the movie overall, although it's not without its criticisms. However, there's one scene that stands out to me amongst the rest.

At Gotham, you have two police officers coming onto the scene at what appears to be a desolate building. The atmosphere is dark and kinda spooky. The officers discover a group of young women inside a caged room. Interestingly enough, the door to the cage is open. Even though the officers try to reassure the women that they're safe and are free to go, the women are too terrified to come out and even go so far as to close the cage's door back on themselves.

One woman speaks in another language, "It saved us."

Not understanding her, the officers are confused. But she was referring to The Batman who saved them.

I find it fascinating that the women are both thankful yet terrified of their savior at the same time. It's totally understandable because their time as victims of sex trafficking is now over; yet one of the themes of The Batman is that he's supposed to be scary others (even though his intention is to strike fear in the hearts of criminals only).

Anyways, one of the officers goes upstairs to investigate, for the sounds of a tortured man are coming from there. He finds a guy chained to the wall, shirtless with the image of a Bat having been iron-branded onto his chest. That is definitely dark, but considering that The Batman had been fighing crime for 20 years by the time of this movie, it's understandable how jaded and angry he has become over time. He won't kill criminals, but he'll make them suffer. In this case, it's a man who was a sex trafficker.


While watching this scene, in the back of my mind, I was reminded of the novel Batman: The Uiltimate Evil.  Written in 1995, it tells a story of how Batman takes on the dark world of human sex trafficking.... children, in particular, which is meant to be "the Ultimate Evil". The novel changes The Batman's background a little bit -- his mother, Martha Wayne, was actually a secret investigator of child sex abuse and child prostitution, which led to her being murdered along with her husband Thomas in order to stop the investigation.
After the novel, there's a non-fiction essay about about child prostitution.

Batman Ultimate Evil.jpg



I remember being pretty mesmerized by the book (which I gave to Jeanna, since human trafficking awareness is a cause she deeply cares about.. and she liked Batman growing up). It made you wish that there truly were a Batman to fight such an injustice in this world. The story also ended with a brief but somber message:

The Batman is a Myth.
The Ultimate Evil is not.

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Tags:

the best weekend in a long time Jan. 20th, 2016 @ 09:12 pm
In the days preceding Labor Day weekend, 2015, Darren and I were chatting on the phone. We asked each other what we were doing for the long weekend... nothing really, was the mutual response. We reminisced about the good 'ol college times, and how it'd be cool to hang out again. Then, the convo ended with Darren coming up north. He said he didn't mind making the drive up, so that was really cool of him.

He arrived late Fri night. It was his 1st time at my townhouse. We chatted for a few hours and caught up. He said he really wanted to visit the Googleplex. Other than it being the all-famous "Big G", Darren is simply just really into Google. I thought about John H. and asked him if he could give us a tour of the G-plex. He said sure. He also asked if we were down for checking out a Lebanese food festival in downtown Redwood City. Both Darren and I were open to it since we've never been to one before. So we stopped by there for 1-2 hours, and got some schwarma. It was the first time I had that. I was always curious what schwarma would taste like after watching Avengers in 2012. It was tasty.






Afterward, we finally went to the G-plex. I called up Aaron, who works with G-security and has weekend shifts. Aaron was kind enough to let us in their Ops center (their version of NASA Mission Control). That was cool. I was surprised they let us in, even with Aaron as our escort (alas, we couldn't take any pics though). But overall, it was fun checking out the G-plex. John took me and Darren to his office, and we played some video games there for a few hours. We also got to see Google's museum and its famous "bakery statues".




That Sat night, we went to the dive bar right across from my townhouse. The bar literally is a 30-second walk. And it was my 1st time going there in since I moved in the townhouse 2 years ago!  We drank some beer, and played some pool. So we had a cool time, low-key and all.

Then we went back to my place and watched Moneyball. Darren has become somewhat of a baseball fan lately, and that's the only baseball DVD I have in my collection haha.




The next day, I remembered that my cousin Viki was flying over in SF for a brief layover. Darren and I picked up the Cathay Pacific flight attendant and we had shabu shabu for lunch. Then we went to Target at Viki's request, and sat outside one of SF's many mom-&-pop coffee shops, just people-watching. So it was cool seeing one of my cousins from HK for the first time in a long time. And my thanks to Darren for doing all the driving.


My cousin's spikey weapons... I mean, shoes...


Finally, on Labor Day, Darren and I went to get some dim sum food for lunch. Cooking Papa wasn't served dim sum style, but was dim sum nonetheless. Darren said it was the "best dim sum" he's ever had haha. He even took a restaurant's pamphlet with him.




==================

That weekend was the best weekend I had in a long time. Got to see my cousin from HK, meet up with Aaron (always a pleasure), and had a blast hanging with Darren & John. Even though we were 3 single guys, just kicking the shit... wth, man, it was awesome. I wish every weekend was like that. 
Current Mood: goodgood

" She's SO FAT! " Sep. 20th, 2015 @ 12:28 am

Ok, so those weren't her exact words. But that would've been the general opinion of where she came from.

Out of respect for her privacy, I won't say who she is. But she comes from Hong Kong and was visiting San Francisco for a day.

Darren was also up here for the Labor Day weekend, and we went up to SF to meet her. During the afternoon, the three of us were lounging around in front of a coffee shop and doing some people-watching. (Not something I normally do, but I have friends who like doing that.)

Somehow, the conversation turned towards girls/ladies/women walking by. And our "visitor" would say that this girl or that woman would be considered fat in Hong Kong.  And me & Darren -- both heterosexual guys with a thing for girls -- were like, "What?? No way, she's NOT fat. She's has a hot bod!"

I told her straight up:  "It's nice if a girl has some meat on her bones. It gives her curves. Curves are sexy."

Darren agreed. (If any females reading this think that sounds superficial... hey, we're guys. But read on. =P )

However, our "visitor" begged to differ. Well... she didn't *disagree*, per se, but she reitirated the sentiment that it was different cultures, Hong Kong and America. Which is true.

Here in the States, I know another girl who worries about her appearance whenever she visits Hong Kong because she'd be considered fat there. And another lady I know commented that the female clothing sold in Hong Kong are so small that she'd had a hard time shopping for clothes that fit her there.

As for our "visitor", a couple of years ago, she said she worried about getting fat. And I'm thinking, "Dude, if you get any skinnier, you'll be anorexic."  Even now, I think she's skinny. Not skinny-to-the-bones, but yeah, I wouldn't want her to get any skinnier, that's for sure. I told her, "You're NOT FAT."  I'd like to think she appreciated that.

But she is right. It's a culture thing between HK and the USA.  If the everyday common folk in the former were to see the obsese folks in the latter, HKers would be mortified. And their "Plus size"
for females would be considered our "normal size" here in the USA... if even that.



Is this considered "obese"?
( Source )


I wouldn't be surprised if some people in Hong Kong would think this picture of American actress Brenda Koo as fat. Me... I think she looks good.

( Source )


Same with this pic of Ellen Wong, another Asian actress. Maybe not *all* folks in Hong Kong would think she's chubby (hence, perhaps unattractive), but some might. I'd take her out to dinner.

( Source )
One of my gal pals who's originally from China aknowledges this sentiment -- back home, she might be considered on the fatter side of the spectrum although here in the States, probably not so much.

Oh well. I guess it all comes down to beauty being in the eye of the beholder... and different cultures.

=================================================================================================================================


Here's another personal anecdote, somewhat related, but with absolutely NO SCIENCE to back it up.


Several years ago, I visited Hong Kong. And for some reason, at that time, the girls there looked fatter. Which IMO, was a *good* thing. I thought, "Hey, the girls look like they have more meat on them. That's pretty HOT!"  I didn't know what caused this change.

Then my cousins told me about this new food spot that was hot shit. Hong Kong is known for its food, both restaurants-wise and its street markets. My cousins insisted that they take me to the new food business that seemed like everyone was raving about. Indeed, when we got there, lines were forming out onto the sidewalk. I blinked at the business sign.

File:Krispy Kreme on Sai Yeung Choi St. South, HK.JPG
( Source )


KRISPY KREME? You've gotta be kidding me.

But man, that place was buzzing. I've never seen a Krispy Kreme in USA as crowded as this one. And this particiular KK was no less busy than the thousands of other food places in Hong Kong.

Is THAT why it seemed like the girls in Hong Kong were fatter? Because of American donuts?

Fast forward a few years later. I returned to HK. It seemed like the girls there were SKINNY again, just like how they were before. What's up with that?

Then I found out that Krispy Kreme CLOSED. It just lost its appeal as the new fab in town.

Again, I have no numbers or hard data to back this up in regards to a possible correlation between Krispy Kreme donuts in Hong Kong vs the body physiques of the local girls there. These were just my observations.


Maybe I should do a study on that.

Current Mood: amusedamused

my first crime scene Jul. 10th, 2015 @ 12:33 am
DISCLAIMER:  there's some descriptions of gore ahead. Don't read on if that seems unsettling.


( Source )

It's been almost a week.

I think it's safe to talk about this now. Patient confidentiality is important for first responders, but considering how Kaitie told me that it was on the news a few days ago, it pretty much went public.

It was at the Reggae Festival on July 4th. San Jose's Santa Clara Fairgrounds. I've been there numerous times along with my fellow Red Cross volunteers. There were several of us there last Saturday thankfully, because Reggae turned out to be a very busy day. For one thing, it was my first time I ever had to splint a suspected broken ankle. Before, my only experience in immobilizing broken limbs was in training.

But the real major happening came after dark.

I was about to patch up this kid's cut-up elbow when one of the event staff rushed up to our aid station. A guy was down right outside the festival's entrance. It was a physical assault. Either he got his head busted into the ground, or he got hit with some hard object. So another RC volunteer and I went to tend to him. I got there first. He was laying in fetal position on his left side, and there was a dark puddle forming around his head.

I've never seen so much blood before in my life.

There wasn't just blood but thick goblets of blood. I didn't see any brain matter but in the darkness, I suspected that there may have been.

After shaking off the initial shock, I got down on my knees and started assessing my patient. Despite the pool of blood right there, I could hear the military-esqe instructors from my EMT school screaming: "AIRWAY! AIRWAY! AIRWAYYYY!!"    Meaning, if this guy wasn't breathing, then it wouldn't matter how much blood he lost; he'd be a goner. In any case, I looked up to the Sheriff officer and told him to call 9-1-1, which was already done, thank God.

My patient didn't have trouble breathing and was responsive.... to a point. The guy remembered his name and was talking... but when I was communicating with my partner, my patient would think I was talking to him. I'd say to my partner, "We gotta roll him on his back."   Then my patient would completely lay flat on his stomach, face down into the ground... and his own pool of blood.

"I'm on my back now."

And when I told my partner to put on some gloves, my patient brought up his hands, "Here, you can give me some gloves now."

Clearly, my patient wasn't all together. Whether that'd be from his head wound, alcohol in his system (which wouldn't surprise me), or both, my patient was trying to be helpful but actually wasn't. Anyways, it was dark and I had a hard time locating his head wound in attempts to apply bandaged pressure on it to stop the bleeding.

Soon you heard the sirens coming up, which was a great relief. It was hard to treat this guy given the circumstances, so I welcomed the help. But it wasn't going to be the kind of help I envisioned.

Since my patient was on his stomach and had a busted head, first responder training dictated that you roll him over onto his back, slowly and methodically. And as a TEAM. Well, the two paramedics that just came on scene didn't do any of that. Before I could speak up, they just rolled him on his back like a rag doll. I was like, "WTF? You're PARAMEDICS. Much higher trained than me. And you may have just made his condition worse."

We got the patient onto the paramedics' backboard and adjusted his position on it. Thankfully, THAT was done a little more properly, at least according to my training. But everything that happened afterward wasn't pleasant. The patient eventually became hostile and combative, and everyone was trying to pin him down. Even one of the sheriff's guards had to join in. A few times, the patient sat straight up from the backboard which he wasn't supposed to do. He just kept fighting us. I tried to be the voice of reason since I was the one positioned at his head, since I have a gentle nature like that, and everyone else there was screaming at him. But nothing helped.

Eventually, more personnel were on the scene. Firefighters got there, and I just let them take over in bandaging the patient's head. He was ultimately restrained to the backboard. And I do mean in restraints. He kept fighting to break free even as he was loaded onto the ambulance.

Two of the patient's friends arrived but there wasn't anything they could do. It was a couple. The guy tried to calm his buddy down to no avail. The girl was just sad & dismayed.

When all was said and done, with the patient being transported, you could see the blood already drying up on the ground. It was literally a crime scene, minus the chalk you'd see for a corpse's outline.

My partner advised me that on my drive home, I'd take it extra easy on the road as adrenaline would probably be rushing through my system. I kept that in mind, although I didn't really drive any differently.

Right away, I washed my uniform twice as I was kneeling in someone else's pool of blood. Then I washed the washing machine itself.


==============================


I texted Kaitie what happened. Later on, she heard on the news about a guy suffering a concussion and broken nose, and there was an investigation about it being a possible hate crime on Caucasians.

Both of my team leads, Peg and Matthew, were kind in asking me and my partner how we were doing. We're both fine with no nightmares although I find myself replaying the events in my head as a "debrief" -- what went well, what didn't, etc.

For what DIDN'T went well, I'd have to say it was:

- We rushed onto the scene, when the #1 thing first responders are reminded of is SCENE SAFETY. If the scene's still dangerous, then we shouldn't rush head first into that. But truthfully, the area was already secured by the Sheriff personnel and other event guards.

- Maybe I should have been more aggressive towards my patient, as everyone else was. I just felt sorry for the guy. I honestly think that the paramedics could've been more professional in their treatment of him, and that may have caused him to become belligerent. But once he was like that, everyone there had good reason to become more aggressive when trying to restrain him.

- When the firefighters came, I just simply let them took over the medical treatment. Looking back, I feel like I should've stuck with them and helped out, although technically when higher-trained personnel arrive, you let them take care of things. But now I felt like it would've been better of me had I stayed in the game. I guess I just felt worn out by that time and that there was enough professional first responders there to handle things for me to take a step back. It was quite a crowd by then.


And there are other minor things. But overall, nothing to be ashamed about.


But that was a crazy night -- my first serious trauma case. And my first crime scene.
Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted

impressing a girl? Jun. 17th, 2015 @ 12:04 am
After a 5K in Santa Cruz, Miranda and I were catching up over lunch. She's helped me realized something about myself when it comes to dating. Honestly, I probably knew about it earlier, but only at a subconscious level during previous convos with Deb. Now, however, it's definitely come to light.


Miranda asked me, "Do you go out of your way to impress girls?"


Case in point: a few months ago, I was pursuing for a few months and took her to her first Warriors game, something she's been wanting to see for a while at the time. Now, yours truly doesn't really follow sports that much, although I usually don't say no when going to live games -- of any sport -- because hey, they're fun. Seeing a game live is a cool experience, especially if you don't do it on a regular basis. They're entertaining and when I go, I enjoy them.

But nevertheless, I don't feverently follow sports. This is despite Stacy's advice that I should b/c "girls like that". And she could be right, IDK.

Anyways, I digress. I thought about what Miranda's question, about me going out of my way to spend time with a girl I like, doing what she likes. Even if I'm not all that interested in that particular activity. Then I told her, "No, it's not really about impressing her."

At least, when *I* think about a guy impressing a girl, it's in a different context. It's usually when a guy tries to display how buff he is. Or intentionally exhibit his talent(s) for singing, dancing, mixing drinks, being social, etc. Or bringing up his flashy car. Basically, showing off. Others may find this debatable but that's initially what crosses my mind when I hear about a guy trying to impress a girl.

For me however, when I'm doing a particular activity with a girl that she usually likes to do, it's not because I'm trying to impress her. It's because I want to spend time with her. And if it's doing something she enjoys, then all the better. Throughout that, there's the hope that she and I will grow closer together.

Now, of course, someone's going to say, "Eventually, she will have to meet you half way." Meaning, eventually, she should want to spend time with you by doing things the guy is interested in as well (assuming she's even interested in him to begin with). I agree. But in this game of dating, usually it's the guy who has to do the pursuing. And that includes him doing things she likes.  

In addition to spending time with her, I also look at it another way.

As I grow older, I try to become more well-rounded. And that includes being more open-minded. Be open to trying new things that I haven't given much thought about before. Don't get me wrong, I'll always cherish my video games, DVDs, being a geek, etc. But I've realized that it really doesn't hurt to do things that I've never done before. You only have one life to live. So why not? You may end up liking that new activity. Darren took me to an archery range recently. I didn't fall in love with it or anything, but it was fun and I hope to do it again soon. Be like Hawkeye! (see? Geeky.)

And when it comes to girls, they usually like going hiking, doing runs, traveling, trying new places to eat, etc.  I can't say I call those activities as passions of mine (yet), but I like to expand my horizons, in addition to the hobbies I already have.

So that's what I was doing when I took my date to her first Warriors game. When we went hiking to naturey spots I've never been to before. To checking out new eat-outs in SF. She may not realize this. And even if she does, she may not even care or appreciate it b/c she's no longer interested in me. But I have no regrets.

And in a way, I guess you could call all that as me trying to impress her. If the definition of impressing a girl is me wanting to show her that I like her, and I'm willing to do things that she likes (whether they be new or old) because I want to spend time with her and grow closer to her in the process... then sure.


That's what I told Miranda. 
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Other entries
» meowgical
That's what the wedding invitation said. As soon as I read that, I thought:  "Now, that has to be Annie."

Then again, I wouldn't be too surprised if Eric thought that up too because he's like that -- goofy. Funny. Likes to be silly and joke around a lot.

And that's why they make such a good match.

I'm sure all the other wedding recipients would agree.

=============================================================

When they started to have run-in's at UC Merced -- even before their dating began -- Eric and I didn't know her name yet. So we gave her a nickname.

I'd ask, "How's IT Girl?"

And then one of my best friends from UCI would voice his thoughts about the gal who would ultimately become his wife. Of course, he didn't know that yet but you could tell he was into her. And I do remember his journey as he got to know her better. One of the tidbits was that she's easily scared by movies.

"That's no big deal," I'd assure him. "There are tons of scary movies out there."

"Like Spider-Man," Eric specified.

The first Tobey Maguire movie? Maybe it was because of the Green Goblin. Then again, that witch from the Wizard of Oz still creeps me out to this day. Sowhoamitojudge.

But hey, it was one of those things that Eric loves about Annie to this day, I'm sure.

=============================================================

Fast forward to today.

As one of Eric's groomsmen, I got to know his other friends in due time. First, it was through our two Bachelor Party-ish get-togethers. They're all childhood buddies of Eric's.

Minh is very composed and mild-mannered. A pleasant guy to know and to be around.

CJ and Alex... I'm just gonna clump these two fellas together. They're both hilarious, if you don't mind the typical guys' sense of humor. And I swear, they know what the other is thinking. Don't turn your back on them (I mean that in a fun way). One of them screwed around with my movie seat when we went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron. But they were civil yet still funny when the day of the rehearsal came.

The rehearsal itself went smooth. Got to meet the bridesmaids (and the other two Eric's -- one of them, a bridesmaid's husband; and the other, the Bride's own brother), and see Eric's fam again. We all went through the motions at the Sainte Claire Hotel, which is pretty fancy-schmancy. After that was the rehearsal dinner at Milpitas's Mayflower, a Chinese restaurant I haven't been to in years. As expected, there were several dishes that stuffed everyone pretty good. I had concerns about fitting into the tux the next day, but never turn down free food. Both bros of the Bride & Groom made touching toasts. Good on Eric H. and Calvin, respectively.

On the Big Day itself... things started out rather calmly enough. At least for the groomsmen. We congregated in our assigned room, took it easy, ate lunch, and went over last minute details under Eric's directions. And I have to hand it to the Groom -- he pretty much had everything down. Dotted every i, crossed ever t. It's not surprising b/c he's usually always on top of things. So today was no different. Why spend $ on a wedding planner when you don't need to? He got this.





The hour ticked closer. As the guests started to fill in, the wedding party performed their respective duties assigned by the Bride & Groom. Yours truly was involved in helping folks put up their Polaroid pics onto a picture frame. This was in lieu of a wedding book, which was a pretty neat idea. A lot of "signatures" were up hanging there by night's end. They all turned out really well, which was a relief because there were initial concerns about how to operate the relatively bulky cameras (right, CJ?). I was thinking of doing a silly gangster pic with the groosmen like what Steven/Ted/I did back at another Oct wedding but the ceremony was right upon us.



( ripped from Annie )


The ceremony itself went off without a hitch! I'm sure everyone in the bridal party, groosman and bridesmaid alike, were thinking: "Man, I wish I could see the couple instead of the back of their heads". (Later on, Alex remarked: "I could only stare at the plant! ")  Felt my phone silently vibrate in my pocket during said ceremony... sorry, Darren, I had to ignore ya and listen to the Officiant speak. The Officiant was funny ("You may kiss the bride once I step out of the way for the photographs"), and no groomsman tripped on the bridesmaids' dresses on the way out! Sweet.

It was cool to see my bud James again, except this time it was in the context of him getting his professional groove on -- snapping wedding pics over and over again, as so many Asian families are so fond of doing.




Then came the reception. The groomsmen were debating how to make their "grand entrance" and just settled for the robot dance, then breaking into their free-for-all styles. I feel like the bridesmaids were a little more graceful in their entrances, but oh well -- guys be guys, right?

Subsequently was just hours of eating and fun. A few times, our table (main culprit: Eric H's gf Cathy) initiated the klanking of the glasses with silverware -- an ol' Chinese tradition of having the couple kiss. Naturally, they were reluctant to at first... I can still see their faces now -- "This isn't a Chinese style wedding!!"

Calvin and his other half Hannah put on a superb acoustic performance for everyone. It makes yours truly really want to pick up guitar now (dammit, Marty McFly, see what you started). Bridesmaids Nicole and Rachel showed more grace when they took the mic and spoke about their friend Annie. Mentions of felines were not left undone.   >^.^<

The "Shoe Game" came along shortly after. Earlier in the days before the wedding, the bridal party came up with Qs to ask the couple in front of the audience... questions, at the behest of the Groom, were meant to be funny but not inappropriate (sorry, Alex). I rushed to the hotel staff and asked them to make copies of the Qs at the last minute, so each groomsman and bridesmaid would have their own to read off of. The idea was to read the Qs in order but alas, it wasn't meant to be. (CJ whispered at one point: "What question do I ask next??")  In a way, that made it more fun IMO. Regardless, the eight of us -- Nicole, Calvin, Hannah, CJ, Alex, Rachel, Angela, and myself -- were able to get all the Qs asked in the game and some even came up with a few of their own. You could tell a few times, both Eric + Annie were kinda stumped and actually thinking pretty hard about what was being asked of them. =D

The last scene of the night that sticks out was when Eric did a line dance with his Mama Bear to Chinese music. I took a video since I had a front row seat. Check out how they conquered the dance floor here.

And then there was the "dance train" that took form later on that night as well. Can't forget that. But the highlight was always seeing the newly wedded luvbirds get it on.



Once the clock hit 2300 hours, it was up to the wedding party and friends to help wrap up. You could tell everyone was tired, but it was a good kind of tired. Eric had an exhausted but happy look on his face of how smoothly everything went. And Annie was no Bridezilla seemed happy, so that's never a bad sign. They and some others crashed at the hotel. Others, including myself, opted to drive home into the night. I wasn't a DUI, but was worried about someone else who was. Thankfully though, they had a lift home.


=============================================================


So once again, here's to the techiest saavy couple I know!  Everyone, past and present, are very happy for ya.

Including your cats, Hui Hui & Ya Ya.


» playing tour guide... sort of
Last summer, Hitomi and her friends came from Japan to visit California. Out of all them, I only knew Hitomi and she arrived a night *later* than her friends did. So that meant Hideki, Itoyama, Nagatani, Kaori and her daughter Haruka flew into SFO and had to get to their Airbnb apartment on their own.

To my knowledge, it was their first time to the States, so that got me a little worried initially getting around on their own. I decided to meet them at SFO so I could make sure they got to their rental pad safely. Driving around San Francisco at night can be confusing, even a little dangerous, for foreigners. Hell, *I* get confused as hell when I'm driving arounf SF sometimes. Imagine what it'd be like for out-of-towners.

It wasn't easy, however. There was the little issue of me trying to get off work early and driving to Millbrae all the way from Fremont in the middle of rush hour. My idea was to BART from Millbrae to SFO, help them get their rental car, drive them to their pad, walk to the nearest BART station, and BART on back to Millbrae.

But let's just say that I haven't ever BARTed over to SFO, so I was unfamiliar with the airport layout with that section. Thus, finding Hitomi's friends was a bear. When I finally did, they were already trying to get their rental. Of course, there was some paperwork issue, as Hideki and Nagatani found out. I tried to use my elementary Japanese to communicate with them, and they with me with their limited English. The car rental guy was able to get it figured out, thankfully. And it turned out that you can PICK whatever vehicle you wanted at the airport. I didn't know that, and my new Japanese friends sure didn't. I tried to find the biggest minivan I could to accommodate all six of us, including their luggages. And man, getting their luggage to fit in with everyone was like playing Tetris -- you gotta get all the pieces to fit together. O_o

By the time we departed SFO, it was already dark out. I found the apartment building where their Airbnb pad was, but it was a closed off building. Hitomi's friends couldn't get ahold of their contact, so I started calling & texting him. No answer. I had to do a little recon to make sure we were at the right place. I left everyone waiting in the mini-van and told them to lock it; San Francisco at night is the not the safest place to be, especially for foreigners. We weren't in the Tenderloin District or anything, but if someone were to get mugged out in the dark streets of SF, I rather it'd be me than my newly acquainted Japanese tourists.

The Airbnb owner finally got in touch with me. I had to expalin to him who I was, of course, and what I was doing there. After we got the new arrivals settled in, they insisted on treating me out for dinner. Went to Osha Thai restaurant. Hey, it was nice of them to do that.




(from Kaori)


===================

The next night, it was HItomi's turn to arrive in SFO. Again, I made the trip up there, and offered to pick her up and drive her to the Air B&B apartment. I figured it'd be easier than making
Hideki do it. Despite him having an international driver's license, he'd have plenty of time of driving around the Bay area in the coming days. He was just settling in and getting familiar with SF, so why confuse him more?

It was nice to catch up with Hitomi again. Haven't seen her in a few years.


===================

The following Saturday was tricky though. Hideki really wanted to check out an Oakland A's baseball game and I wasn't available to be his escort. I wasn't too surprised at his request because I've heard of baseball being a very popular sport in Japan. Unfortunately, I was already committed to volunteering for the Red Cross which would basically last all day. But I didn't want Hideki going into Oakland on his own, even if it was during the day. So I called Greg S., who also knows Hitomi. Greg, as usual, was his awesome self, saying that he'll drop off and pick up Hikedi from the game. Mind you, this was no small request and it was relatively last minute -- a night or two before. So Greg, Hitomi, and I planned it in such a way that Hideki could communite with Greg through Facebook messenger (since Hideki has no US cell phone). And it'd be a gorup convo over FB so Hitomi and I would constantly be in-the-know.

Complicated and elaborate, I know. But it worked.




Hideki made it to the A's game! (from Hideki)

===================

The rest of their trip was more or less uneventful. They were able to get around on their own, and checked out the Google and Facebook campus (or at least, entrances), as well as Stanford campus. Later, I took them to Stanford Shopping Center because:  1) what should tourists do? shop!; and 2) there isn't much else to do in Palo Alto except eat... at least where international tourists are concerned. Where else in Palo would I take them that's internationally reknowned? Other than Stanford campus. Oh wait, there's nothing like that.

Around dinner time, my Japanese friends wanted to go to a steakhouse for dinner. Which makes sense -- steak in Japan I hear is harder to come by than here in the States. So we went to Fleming's at Stanford. Unfortunately, A LOT OF CONSTRUCTION was going on at the mall at that time, and Fleming's had a new location in the mall. So I took Hitomi and her friends around a looooong @$$ walk just to find the damn place. It was confusing as hell and I felt stupid. Talk about blind leading the blind....




( Source )


As usual, Hitomi and her friends paid for my dinner. They ordered FIVE pieces of steaks, all different (ie. prime, rib-eye, etc). And 2 different bottles of wine. They asked me to make the recommendations on what to eat & drink even though yours truly is hardly a wine connesseur. But yeah, five pieces of steak! That's a lot of meat and ain't cheap. We all ate family style though, which was unusual for me at a steakhouse but oh well, it worked for them. (Japanese folks don't eat nearly as much as Americans do when it comes to an individual scale.) In any case, everything was finished. Not surprisngly, the bill was hefty but they graciously paid for it.

===================

They were scheduled to leave on a Sunday morning. Again, I offered to go to SF and drive them to SFO because I wasn't sure if it would be clear to them on where to drop off their rental car, and all that. Then I'd BART from SFO to back to the City, where I walked to my parked car and drive back home. It wasn't much trouble given how early it was.

Anyways, that's my story on trying to be "tour guide" more or less. My deepest thanks to Greg again for stepping in for me.

And here's the gang.




» a sibling moment
April 10th was National Sibling Day. It made me think that even though my older sis and I don't spend all that much time together, we did have a nice sibling moment recently, albeit a relatively somber one.



Every year around Easters, it's Chinese tradition to go to your ancestors' graves and pay respect to them. It's nothing too elaborate -- drive over to the cemetery, put flowers at their grave or urn, and bow down 3 times.

My family and relatives did just that a few weekends ago. It was my youngest nephew's first time going, although he had no idea what was going on given that he's still an infant. As for my 3 year old nephew, he probably had some idea. My sis told him, "This is mommy's Pau Pau and Gung Gung" (maternal grandma & grandpa in Cantonese). So that's always cute.

Then it hit me:  wow, my Pau Pau has been dead for 11 years. I still remember her passing away from a hemorraghic stroke as if it were yesterday. Fortunately, she didn't suffer too long but she was unconscious when we said good-bye to her.

Back to the "sibling moment"...

After the rest of our family and relatives were walking away from Pau Pau's urn, my sister and I briefly stood there in silence. We couldn't believe that so much time has gone by since Pau Pau (whom was in almost every way a nanny to us while growing up) left us. It made us consciously miss her again.

Anyways, I know this all sounds kinda sappy. But hey, the nature of family can be like that.

Here's to my sis.   =)

» age discrimination for hiring: the older you are...

( Source )

A few years ago, I was talking with Chris and Krystal about which age group was having the most difficulties in getting hired in the midst/aftermath of the Recession. I heard and thought it was the older folks. But one of them said younger people actually have it harder especially if they're straight out of college. A big reason why is b/c a lot of these kids don't have any work experience right after graduating and less people already in the workforce are looking to retire. So that's a one-way bottleneck for a lot of incoming people wanting to get hired, but less people going out. Very competitive for kids. (Sounds like a lot of nurses I know.)

Chris & Krys are two of the smartest people I know. So it'd be hard for me to argue with them, unless it's something Star Trek related. (And Krys may be on par with me on that one too.)

Nevertheless, I'm not entirely sure younger folks have it easier. I spoke with my dad about this subject. He was in the semi-conductor industry for 20-something years, and it's a pretty cutthroat industry. Not to mention that he was a VP for several years before retiring. So my papa bear definitely has that mindset of a business executive. I asked him, "If you had a position open, would you choose a younger, inexperienced candidate, or an older, more experienced one?"

He told me straight up -- the younger one.

Why?

Because younger people are easier to mold. Meaning, they're easier to mentor and shape them into the worker you want them to be. A thine-own-image kind of thing, I suppose.

Ok, that makes sense. But I've read online from reputedly older folks who have complained about not getting jobs b/c they were passed over by some kid who was a generation or two younger than they. And I can see why they were a little bitter:  "I have so much more experience than these kids!"

Now, I heard of a stereotype that older folks just want to do things the way they're used to at work, and aren't willing to learn anything new or different. I don't know how true that is. But if it is, then I guess that falls under the reasoning of why younger candidates are preferred... because they're easier to mold. They know less, so they're willing to learn more. (On the other hand, I also heard of kids coming in on a job all green but acting like they know everything.)

Another reason I hear why older people are turned down is because of all their years of experience, companies are worried that they have to pay them at a higher salary than they would for a college grad. In other words, older people are more expensive to hire. Or another reason: "You're over-qualified. We're worried that you'll stay with us only for a short while and will find a job somewhere else."

Finally, I heard a lot of accounts about how so many older workers had the rug swept up from them due to the Great Recession:  they were all set to retire with established finances, but then the Crash of 2007 just wiped out a lot of their finances. And for those who got laid off but who weren't old enough to retire, that was another blow. So what do they do? They have to take community college classes on subjects to help re-start their careers. Or even have a new change in careers entirely. That's hard at any age, but it's probably more difficult when in you're 40s or 50s.

And I did read numerous accounts of older adults getting so desperate to find a permanent, stable job, that they're willing to take lower pay cuts than what they're used to. But still, they don't get hired. Obviously, there could be more factors at play here. But that's what I remember reading.

A co-worker of mine is leaving the company soon. In a way, I see him as my mentor. He's in his 50s, I'm in my 30s. He told me he likes how I'm easy to mold and keep an open mind to learning new things. He did mention my youth because to him, I'm a "kid".

Then again, sometimes I can't help but wonder:  if I make it to my 40s/50s -- heck, even 60s b/c my generation probably can't retire by then -- will there be another Crash like the one of 2007? Or 1987? Or even 1929? (The year the Great Depression began for those whom don't know US history.)  If it does, will I be laid off before retirement age and will I have a hard time getting hired like older peope do today?

Scary thought.

» an example of confidence?
So for those who know me pretty well or have read my blog -- I'm not exactly sure who's in my audience, but if you are, I thank you even if you do judge me from behind your computer screens -- they won't be too surprised when I say I could boost my self-confidence. Especially when it comes to dating the opposite gender. This is not to say I'm spineless like I used to be way back when but hey, you can always do more to improve yourself. So I try to keep that balanced outlook: you've done better, but keep doing better.

But yeah, there have been several times where my confidence could've helped me break out of my shell. A good buddy, Steve, is one guy I think about when it comes to this matter. He may be a little further on the other end of the spectrum from where I see myself -- be a little more of a jerk and gals will be more attracted to you. Nevertheless, no one can deny that he's successful in that regard.

Then I think back to one time when I actually exuded a lot of confidence. Ironically, however, it was totally unintentional.

A few years ago, Krystal and I went paintballing. Anyone who has played the sport know it goes a lot like this:  when the paintballs start flying, a lot of people tend to just bunch up and stay where they're at, with their heads low. Well, that's an understandable reaction but.... the whole point of the sport is to shoot the other team before they shoot you. And that means you can't keep hiding. In fact, you have to keep moving FORWARD towards the other team and engage them. It's risky but that's what it takes to win the game. And that actually involves some team strategy and coordination.

So whenever I see others bunching up like sitting ducks.... I start getting bossy. I run over to the seemingly helpless "flock" and start giving out directions ("You two go to that structure over there! You follow me! And you stay here and cover us!"). Maybe it's b/c I'm a military buff and that mentality shows during paintballing. But after the game when everything has calmed down, I'd think, "Yeesh, I was barking orders left and right back there. Sorry about that."  The adrenaline fades and my sensitivity would come out again.

But I remember Krystal saying, "No, I like that."  

Now, Krystal can be more aggressive than other girls but she's still a girl. And I wasn't looking to impress her or anything. And yes, paintball is somewhat of an extreme example if you're looking to impress girls. But that backs the realization that in "tough" situations, a girl likes it when a guy takes charge. Actually, this applies not just in tough circumstances but in general. Miranda mentioned that to me recently, the whole "manliness" factor. Of course, there are other factors that makes a guy attractive -- ambitions, financial stability, having a sense of humor, being flirty. That's quite a laundry list right there.


However, I digress:  I just find it funny that when I DIDN'T INTEND on being bossy/authoritative/confident/manly, or to sum it up, confident -- I totally was, and a girl liked that.


Maybe I should spend more $ and go paintballing then. =P  
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