I have, as long as I can remember, always loved cats.  I like animals of all sorts, but felines are certainly my favorite out of the bunch.  Perhaps it's because much of my behavior is like theirs, so I feel a connection.  Last night I ran into a plump kitty lounging around outside on my walk home.  Being the first time that I had come across a cat and I wasn't headed anywhere or with anyone, I decided to stop to pet it.  I couldn't tell if it was a boy or a girl, but it certainly enjoyed my stroking and scratching.  I was reaching out pretty far, so I tried to shift to move closer, but that scared it a few feet away.  I considered trying to approach it again, but it takes some time for cats to trust you, so I decided that was enough for the night and headed back.  As I made my way back to Marylin's, I thought of my beloved cats and how sad I am to not have them anymore.

The first cat I ever had got some sort of disease and had up to 90% of her lungs filling up with fluid before we found out and put her down.  That was the first time my dad and I cried together.  Actually, that's the only time I can remember.  The second one we got had the longest life of them all and got sick recently, dying just on or past Christmas day 2008.  He was in China and my parents and I were in Cancun for the break.  I wish he could have held out for my dad to get back to him.  Then the third one we had just disappeared one day almost six years ago.  My mom is convinced that the coyotes or owls in the neighborhood caught him.  He was always a rambunctious one, so I wouldn't be surprised if he ventured too far.  We'll never really know what happened to him, but I can always hope that someone took him in and he's happily squeezing himself into their sinks for his naps now.

This is Jerriey, our second kitty, curled up on my favorite blanket.


Lately cats have been on my mind a lot because one of Panda and my friends got herself a little kitten that was found on site for a Habitat for Humanity project.  That reminded me of the three other times I have come across cats that I really wanted to adopt.  First was a little black kitten we found at a club in the Echo Park area.  It was my first day on site for the filming of Wristcutters: A Love Story and this little guy was found hanging out in the back area where the crew hung out as we waited through shots.  I named her Echo (I think the club was named that too) and gave her a lot of attention.  In fact, I even managed to convince the club owner to adopt her, since I couldn't.  Next was a pair of kittens, brought to us on Wilshire Boulevard.  Katana and I were just walking along in Westwood when this kid comes running up to us and asks if we'd like to adopt kittens.  We looked at each other with those yearning eyes.  In our hearts, we really wanted to.  In our minds, we knew we couldn't.  So, we only glimpsed the kittens he held in his hands, swaddled in his clothing before we sadly had to say no.  We watched as he ran down Westwood Boulevard and talked about how we could make it work.  Then, in the spur of a moment, we decided to go with our hearts and take them.  We went after the boy, but didn't know where he had gone.  I looked to my left and noticed a pet store, so we went in.  The boy had just handed over the pair and when we tried to take them now, the store owner said she'd have to take them in for various shots and clean them up before we could come back to adopt them.  Sigh.  In the weeks after, we thought long and hard about how we could do this, even thinking we'd name them Boba and Udon (one was black and one was grey).  Unfortunately, practicality won out in the end and we never did go back for them.  Finally, the third came when I was volunteering at a cat home.  A tiny grey kitten was confined in a box with a plastic facing so we could see.  She was held there because she was still being treated after being rescued from Hurricane Katrina and, consequently she was named Katrina.  I loved that little cat from the seconds we got to spend with her before turning our attention to the cats we could interact with.  Just the way she cocked her head when she looked at us was adorable enough for me to want her.  Unfortunately, I was still in school at the time and my dad had left the country, so it was just my mom taking care of the one cat we still had.  But I wanted a kitten to raise myself.

Our friend's new kitten, isn't she precious?!

This is a dream I've held for years and years, ever since I got to carry little Jerriey home from the shelter, so cute and loveable.  He spent the whole time purring, which is what won me over.  I have mentioned this desire many a time and though he started off first not comfortable with the idea, he is now more open to it.  Granted, we had to have a whole hullabaloo of a... discussion over it, but he's willing to consider it at least.  To me, having a cat is almost more important than having kids.  Not only are they nice to cuddle up with, their purring is good for your health.  They are very independent and don't require much attention or care, which is how I live my life.  They train very easily, from going to use the litter box when nature calls to coming to eat dinner with the banging out a plate.  I also like to crawl into small spaces and squeeze myself into strange positions to sleep.  And come on, there's a reason we call it the "catwalk" - they're beautiful and graceful creatures!  Cats are highly misunderstood animals.  People take their independence for aloofness, much as they do with me.  And I think that is why I defend and adore them so much.  I'm misunderstood too.

Well, my dream of owning a cat is still very far off, sadly.  I have to wait until I'm settled enough to keep one with me.  I have to make sure I have the funds to buy all the food, litter, and catsitting services I would need to take care of it.  Thankfully, they love very simple little toys, so just a little catnip and some string or crumpled newspaper can do the trick.  Once I feel like I have the resources and capabilities to finally care for a cat of my own, I hope Panda will be ready to have one too (or maybe more).  He doesn't even need to do a thing.  I'll buy everything, scoop the kitty litter, feed them, play with them, and arrange for their care when/if we are away.  All he has to do is let me have one.  For now, he has agreed to catsit our friend's kitten if she ever needs us to and we will go visit her after I get back.  I hope he likes that experience so he'll be willing to have one of our own.

Back in high school Katana and I would joke about how we'd grow old and have properties next to each other, each with certain natural formations that we want (like a waterfall for me), and we'd both have houses full of cats.  (This was back when we imagined ourselves as old maids, never having been able to truly settle down.  I guess it could still work with men in our lives, as long as they allowed all the cats.)  At night, we'd both go out and sit on our rocking chairs on our porches to enjoy the nightfall, either knitting or petting a cat.  We'd have our houses close enough that we could see each other, but our property large enough for ponds and creeks and forests and whatnot.  I think it'd be great if we do end up that way.  Yup, we have all the makings of becoming crazy cat ladies.

 
 

This is the first time that I did not post my entry prior to going to bed, since I began posting every day.  I like to get it out of the way earlier in the wee hours of the day so when I get busy/distracted later on, I won't have to worry and I would still have the entire rest of the day to do it.  However, yesterday when I got back last night, a wave of exhaustion just took over me and I curled up on the bed with my body pillow.  It was so warm and cozy and Panda was taking a nap on his end, so I just drifted off.  The next thing I knew, I was waking up to find my computer turned off.  Disoriented, I deliriously turned my computer back on to find Panda again, but fell asleep again soon after.  I can't recall if I ever did sign back on again or what happened from there, but I didn't wake up again until the morning, as a storm was rolling in.

I'm not sure why I was so tired - perhaps it's a combination of lack of sleep, long days, and not enough nutrition.  I don't feel like I have been overworked or underfed though, so I really don't know.  In fact, there are times where I am doing background reading and research that feels like my typical internet activity.  It has made me want to get more into social media or business psychology consulting, since I love to read article upon article about those topics.  So that's all well and good, but I guess sometimes everything in your life just catches up with you and your body shuts down.  I think all the things that were bearing down on me just caught up with me.  I've been getting a lot of intense piercing pains and headaches this past month; I've never suffered through this kind of cranial pain before.  It's not quite a migraine - the symptoms for that are far more intense - but it's definitely not a pleasant experience.  I don't know why I get them or what I can do about them (I'm not one to take painkillers unless I'm desperate, which happens like once every few months).

Emotionally I have been rather drained as of late.  I don't know if I'll ever be able to recover from being away from Panda.  I don't miss him any less now than I did before.  I spend a lot of time wanting to go back just to see him, but at the same time I really value my time and experience here.  Still, it's hard to get up and go out on the weekends when I can stay online and talk to him.  I don't know why it's so hard for me.  It also hasn't been easy to find my own way here.  I've been trying to do more things on my own, which is good, but I'm doing it all alone.  There isn't really anyone for me to hang out with or spend time with.  Not that I dislike anyone here, but I'm used to a lot of different social groups, all with different interests and preferences for activities.

And of course, there's always the feeling that I don't have a home to go to and crash at.  There is no space here that is exclusively mine, which is something I'm not used to.  It's the exact opposite of how I grew up - with rooms to myself for most of the day and often the whole house to myself as my parents traveled around.  Even in college, when I shared my room with another girl, half of that room was mine.  I could do whatever I wanted and often had time alone in the room.  Plus, I could always go home home on the weekends.  So maybe it's just caged bird syndrome that's got me down.  It seems that I need to stop viewing myself so much as an outsider and guest here.  It's hard to break away from that though, since most people I speak to outside of the office don't seem to be able to understand me.  I feel so out of place when I'm not in the office or just alone and it's a bit disheartening.

Marylin and I talked recently about how I don't really interact with her parents, which is mostly why I still feel like a guest here.  I'm used to holing up in my room all day, doing my own things, so it doesn't even occur to me to go out to the living room to talk to them, or something along those lines.  I've tried to greet them here and there, but I tend to be quiet when I do that and it gets lost in Marylin's own greeting and consequent chatting with them.  So, I just keep walking and go to the room to give them time together.  After all, they hardly get to see each other, much less talk and hang out.  But it seems that my policy of "stay out of their way" is just alienating me and making them... not quite uncomfortable, but you get the idea.  It doesn't help that I am hugely awkward with parents (or anyone I view in an authoritative position).  It took me a good 10-12 years to get myself to even be able to look them in the eye.

So, I need to work on putting myself out there more, even if it terrifies me.  I just don't like to stand there awkwardly and not know what to do or say.  Before I left, my mom told me to offer to help with household chores, but that is taken care of the maid, so the most I do is clear the table after eating.  Starfish advised that I just ask them how their days were and I don't know if I'm just not seeing opportunities to, but I feel like I haven't really had a chance to say anything to them.  Either they're watching TV or they're not around.  Marylin's mom will pop in on the weekends to offer me food, but by the time I go out to eat it, she's retreated to her room or is out already.  There was one time she left it on the bed for me, so I just ate it in the room.  I usually don't even see her dad around, but for when he's watching a game or tournament.

And maybe it's just me, but if I'm watching something, I don't want to be disturbed.  On the weekends when Marylin's going through her CSI Supreme Sunday fix, she tends to switch channels during commercials, which is something I never do.  If I'm watching something, I'm focused on it and I don't want to miss out on any of it.  If it's streaming live and I can't pause it, I don't do anything to disrupt that.  When it comes down to it, I just don't know how to handle those situations.  When is it appropriate to say something?  What should I say?  How do I know if they're talking just because they don't want to be rude or if they actually don't mind?  Sigh, I hate being awkward with older generations.  I'm not a "bring her home" type of friend.  I can't even call them by their first names - the first time I called someone other than my peer by their first name was when I was 19.  Why am I so stiff?

Maybe this chronic exhaustion is due to too much processing for my brain.  From the work I'm doing and all that I'm learning to the struggles I'm undergoing, it's a lot to handle.  I worry a lot because I think and analyze a lot.  I don't like to share any of my stress though, so I'm hard-pressed to find an outlet.  I don't like to complain and I don't like to ask for help.  Meanwhile, Marylin will let out a sigh or talk about her frustrations with some of the work she's trying to deal with.  Since I'm not used to expressions like that, it stresses me out to hear and see that too, especially when she taps her fingers impatiently.  For some reason, just hearing that speeds up my heart rate and makes me more anxious.  I tend to notice small details like that, which then makes things that aren't a big deal out to be much bigger than usual.  I am a people-pleaser, but it seems that my approach in keeping to myself is not pleasing at all.  Then there are all the things I miss and want to do when I get back, but I'm trying to make myself focus on being here now and doing new exciting things.  It's hard to be here and focused when my heart is not with me.  Whoever knew I could be such a homebody?

Gosh, I've got a lot to work on.

 
 

Since there's all this talk about the swine flu and worries if it possibly spreading to epidemic proportions, I thought it was appropriate to address this idea of viral spread.  After all, the concept of viral marketing is based in how things spread like diseases.  You can have widespread influence without having to be a hot shot nowadays, much like one little mutant germ multiplying can cause havoc.  The tools on the internet allow you to share with complete strangers, so now it's all about how you work the system to get your ideas out.  Play your numbers right and you can go far.

I don't know if it's just my interest or if grassroots marketing really is as hot a topic as I think it is.  I personally believe it is a powerful way to get your message across, but it certainly does come with its downside.  So let's explore the pros and cons of this type of marketing strategy.  Traditionally, marketing has been all about reach through huge audiences via mass media - newspapers, magazines, television ads.  With the advent of "social media" or what have you, individuals are empowered to connect with each other on a scale never possible before.  Along with this comes a lot of unforeseen opportunities.

First of all, social media has a much lower upfront cost as compared to established media.  However, the trade-off is a lot more time spent to maintain it - after all, it's all about creating and sustaining conversations and relationships.  You can spend a lot of money on a marketing campaign or you can spend a lot of time building your brand and reputation via social media.

Secondly, social media has a far reach.  It basically operates on the word of mouth spread that can function much like compound interest, multiplying in power over time (or in this case, people).  Everyone's got their own personal and professional networks that they can tap into.  Then each of those people in turn have others who they know outside of the original person's network, people they can tell the news to and continue with this branching out.  Much like a tree, one original trunk can yield so many more branches!

Similarly, being able to get to so many people and gain this level of visibility is one of the main benefits.  And this can all be done with little planning in terms of marketing strategy.  In fact, it can't really be controlled.  Instead, this acts as a sort of quality control, ensuring that the product, service, or information must be good and valid for it to get the kind of spread it wants.  Of course, there will always be those bad apples that get through, the spam of the social media world, but the value of viral spread far outweighs the drawbacks of those and smart consumers can easily spot and filter out the useless stuff.

Yet, because it is nearly impossible to control what people choose to say or do, especially with a certain level of anonymity in nearly all sites, it can be dangerous tool too.  When people hide behind a facade, they get bolder with their actions and do some harmful things.  It's hard enough to track who did it, much less prosecute them for misbehavior.  The difficulty in regulation can breach upon a lot of rights yet also be defended by the freedom of speech.  This is definitely something that the lawmakers of each country should be looking at, to protect people from abuse of the system.

Finally, everything that goes up at any point, even if only for a few seconds, may leave a permanent mark.  Between tracking and the immediate spread of sensational news, even if you slip just once, it's hard to ensure that that won't be following you for a long time to come.  Even things sent in private or confidentially can be leaked, so tread carefully in everything you do.  Things in digital form can be permanent in ways that you never want.

Social media can be a robust medium for grassroots marketing, if used carefully and well.  There's a lot to explore still and I'm sure people's mindsets will change along with this new way of reaching out to them.  Now it's a matter of keeping up with the new forms of media, but also not forgetting about some of the old methods.  A good mixture can be achieved and it will vary depending on the aim, industry, and target audience.  Nonetheless, social media is sure to be a key new part to a revamped recipe.  It offers the personalized attention that people have been lacking!

 
 

A week or two ago, my EZLink card (which is your ticket to public transportation in Singapore) stopped working, for no rhyme or reason.  Thankfully, I had another one that was given to me in my welcome package from the Work Holiday Programme pass I'm here on.  I've been using that ever since and a few days ago I decided it was time to take care of the malfunctioning one.  First I went to the service booth, telling the guy that my card wasn't scanning.  He scanned it, looked at it curiously, scanned his own card, and handed it back to me telling me he couldn't read it.  I should have known that this was going to set the tone for a frustrating experience.  Obviously he was not paying attention to me, far too used to working like a zombie, just topping cards up for people.

Well, now that I had finally caught his attention, he informed me that only the ticketing office took care of the cards themselves.  Ok, fine.  I headed over to that line and told the lady in the window the same thing.  Apparently this happens rather frequently, judging by the stack of cards they had accumulated already.  I was handed a form and told that I would have to wait three weeks to get a check in the mail.  Wait, what?!  I expected a quick and easy transfer to a new card (or the one that I am using now).  Why waste the time and effort of mailing a check to me?  I don't even have a bank account to deposit it in!  When I complained of the inefficiencies of it, they just gave me a number to call.  Great.

Well, now I'm at this point where it's not even worth the money to call them up to wait around to talk to someone who can't even do anything.  This is my major problem with all organizations that have problems like this.  You can never reach someone who can actually do something about it!  I've tried this before and just got led on a wild goosechase of transfers that never actually brought me to anyone in charge enough to be able to set the gears in motion.  Meanwhile, I was difficult to these poor people who have to answer customer service calls, wasting my time and their time while probably putting them in a bad mood.  Part of my desire to be someone with power and influence is really just to be able to actually contact the right person in this scenario, because upsetting me would be very bad for business, so they'd take care of it.  I'd just like to be successful and respected enough to make a difference in these situations.

Apparently this new card (they're switching systems or something) is too new and they don't have a way to transfer the existing balance.  I find it irresponsible for them to change if they're not ready to do such a basic service.  Either you do enough beta testing to be able to make transfers or ensure the cards won't malfunction!  I did absolutely nothing to tamper with the card, yet I get punished with having to spend my time trying to get a new one (that they were going to make me pay for!) AND waiting for nearly a month before getting my money back.  If time is money, what kind of compensation am I getting for this inconvenience of waiting so long?  They should at least give me a new card with a fresh balance of say, $5 or something simple like that.  Now that would be great customer service.

Instead, I'm left here fuming at them, yet helpless to do anything.  I can't exactly stop taking public transport around the city and I'm certainly not about to pay the higher fees for individual fares rather than use an EZLink card.  However, I'm not at all pleased with this level of service and I really wish I could call them up and actually have them listen to me.  But more than likely, I will just listen to elevator music for half an hour, get transferred around a few times, and then ultimately end up getting a voicemail from someone who won't bother to reply.  A lot of our security in life is feeling like we have a certain level of control.  First over ourselves and our lives, but next over the things that happen to us.  In this case, there was absolutely nothing I could have done and nothing I can do to prevent this.  So why do I get the short end of the stick?

I'm sure that soon enough I'll have forgotten all about this particular situation, but I will be left with a sense of a loss of power from large organizations.  I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I never dreamed of growing my business into a huge corporation.  Perhaps that is because I dislike what large conglomerates are like.  I promise myself I will never let something in my hands get to that point.  I'll find a way to fix all the problems and make the small voices heard.

 
 

I've been feeling a huge lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in my life recently, which exaggerates my continued languor.  I don't know if it's because of my diet that I feel so tired or if because I feel so listless that I'm not bothering to eat well.  I guess both things kind of perpetuate each other, leaving me drained and nutrient-deprived.  Ok, it's not that bad, but I do feel like my energy level has not been up to par with my old self.  Fruits and salads were so much more accessible back in the dining halls!  I know people tend to eat terribly when it's a buffet, but I really did enjoy having a salad bar and baskets of fruits laying around.

I've been trying to convince myself to get back into the good old days, when a workout was routine and expected, but it's hard when I don't even have sneakers.  I also have this "need" to only work out when I can shower afterward, but I tend to feel like working out when I'm showering.  I hate to take too many showers in a day (why waste the water?), so I need to time it just right.  Perhaps this is why I prefer to do static exercises that don't produce as much sweat as cardio would.  I've been telling myself to set aside half an hour each afternoon/evening to do some simple strength exercises, but somehow the time always flies by and next thing I know, it's time for dinner.

I found a series of short videos online through the UCLA Rec Center, which leads me through some quick and simple "at your desk" exercises that can counteract the effects of sitting too long (something I am very much guilty of).  I did them once and it felt good, but I wasn't able to remember to keep doing it.  Am I going to need to set an alarm to remind myself?  After all, it's only 15 minutes - plenty short to fit into my schedule!  I always fare so much better when I have a set regimen, coach, and team to work out with.  This whole self-motivation thing is hard to do when you keep convincing yourself that your personal well-being can be pushed aside for higher priority things.  But, as many of the contestants in The Biggest Loser said, much of the reason they got so overweight was because they neglected to take care of themselves.

I have spent time reading books and articles for personal enrichment.  I play games here and there to destress and work my critical thinking and motor skills.  Yet, I do nothing for my physical health, in terms of strength, endurance, overall fitness.  So I think it's time to get back into that mindset that everyone starts the year with and revamp my life.  I need to tone my core, I want to work on my triceps, and I should slim down ever so slightly.  Starfish brought in a machine that measures your BMI and fat percentage, which we all tried one night.  My BMI has always been within the normal range, nothing exciting, but my fat percentage is a tad on the high end.  That doesn't come as too much of a surprise - I have very thick thighs that have quite a layer of fat on them and my belly's got its fair share as well.

I really wish I could swim to work out, but I didn't bring my cap, googles, or competitve suits.  Can you imagine me doing the fly in a bikini?  Especially one that has this strange flap that hangs down halfway to my bellybutton.  Let's not even talk about how silly that would look or how easily a "wardrobe malfunction" could occur.  I was thinking that if the pool is deep enough, I could try just doing some exercises treading water.  Now I've just got to convince myself it's worth it to look like a fool in a family style pool and get to it.

I want to try to do that on the weekends (or any nights that I manage to get back around dinnertime).  Days that I don't get to do that I should be doing some basic dryland exercises.  There's so much you can do with just your body and gravity, as I was telling Lorrie the other day, when he was asking me about how to burn away belly flab.  I still remember a lot from my years of training, but it's no use if I don't do it.  Pretty soon, I'll start to forget everything I once knew, except that I once knew it.  Sometimes I get really nostalgic for those days when I used to compete and train with a goal in mind.  Always a better run, a longer jump, a faster swim, or more endurance.

I must motivate myself to work out again.

 
 

I miss the amenities of home - being able to go and buy my own food, make my own food, come and go as I please, and just feel in charge of my life.  I had a dream the other night that my grandma was living here; I was elated to discover this because it meant I could move in with her and take care of myself again.  Staying at Marylin's is something I wouldn't say that I'm struggling with per se, but I certainly am having some trouble with it.  There's a sense of freedom in being responsible for taking care of myself.  I'm used to doing most household chores myself and now and it's weird to have food cooked for me, my clothes washed for me, and my things cleaned for me.  It makes me feel too much like a guest.

Today was refreshing because I took it upon myself to wash some items, but I still feel strange whenever I'm in the kitchen, so I'm certainly not about to pull out a pan to cook myself something.  Instead, I bought myself some salad and fruit to eat, but since I spend most of my time at the office, I'm keeping them there.  My eating habits don't match up with any traditional method or what people tend to do (however many meals a day) - I like to snack throughout the day and have one or two larger meals, but mostly just be munching every hour.  That's a lot harder to do when the food is offered up and then it's expected to be cleared away after a certain period.

I also like to wander around outside or drive around, which is not exactly an option for me here.  I suppose I could always go downstairs for a stroll or a swim (I wonder if I need a special key for entry?), but I feel bad making someone open the door for me whenever I get back.  It's difficult to find a good balance between doing what I want to and also not getting in the way or being an inconvenience.  I tend to think everything I do is disruptive except for staying in the room, out of everyone's way.  And so that is what I do for pretty much 90% of the time that I am here.

It's an unfortunate combination of factors working here.  For one, it's not worth it to move to my own place - I'd end up paying to be here and I don't want to dig into my savings (or my parents' generosity).  Yet, staying with her poses a myriad of conundrums.  I'm very grateful that Marylin and her family have so generously taken me in, but I feel like I have to tiptoe around everything.  I don't want to use too much of their resources.  I feel guilty every time her mom so kindly buys me lunch that is ready for me when I wake up on the weekends.  I feel awkward asking their maid to do anything, so I try to do it myself, but then I feel like I'm breaching her territory.  I try to stay away from the living room in case that makes them feel like they can't use that space.  I don't talk to her parents very much because I don't want to disturb them.

All these things are nobody's fault, but just unfortunate byproducts of the situation.  I'd much rather be on the other end, offering my home and resources to others.  In fact, I often imagine how things could be when I get back and after we've found a way to get Marylin over there too (and possibly others!).  Of course, everything else I miss about home doesn't help things either.  I've been getting a lot of invites to events occurring on campus and I wish I could be there to attend, as an alumna now.  This weekend is the Festival of Books and it will be the second year that Livescribe has a booth there.  Last year I was there, working the booth as a campus rep, so I wish them another successful weekend!

I'm going to compile a list of all the things I want/should do in Singapore (and maybe nearby countries, if I can make it) and start figuring out when I'll have time to get around to doing them all.  That'll help get me out of the house, see more of Singapore, and keep me entertained.  I shouldn't spend my weekends lying around all day, drinking water incessantly and doing who knows what online.  Sometimes I amaze myself with how I distract myself.  I hope that before I know it, I'll be headed home (though a bit nostalgic and sad to be leaving here).

 
 

Disclaimer:  I have a strong bias towards PCs, so Mac-lovers may not like what I say.

Before I started to work here, Marylin warned me that I was entering Mac territory and would likely have to convert.  Dismayed, I tried to keep an open mind about it, but ultimately did not want to make the switch.  Thankfully, I have been able to use my HP Pavilion with few problems.  The only thing that stands out is my inability to connect to the company network to access shared files.  Other than that, I find that my PC is perfectly fine and usually outperforms those little Macs.  Unfortunately, my colleagues are far too enamored with Macs to appreciate it.  Recently, it seems like a lot more of the differences have become apparent to me.

First, let me go through the three experiences I had lately regarding the two different operating systems.  It started when I was retrieving some information off a website to store in our database for reference.  I thought I should use a Mac because it's linked to the shared drive, so I could download directly to that.  However, I quickly lost patience using the clumsy mouse pad and decided to get it all done on my PC and then transfer it over via a thumb drive.  I found some articles that were embedded in the site, so they needed to be copy-pasted and then converted to a PDF.  When I did that on the Mac, all formatting was lost and I had to go through to change everything.  After switching over to my PC, I discovered that a quick copy-paste would yield basically a screenshot of what was on the site, all formatting preserved nearly perfectly.  It was a breeze making the PDFs that way.

The next time I came across an issue was at a meeting, where Macs don't have the right plug to connect to a projector, so we had to use my computer to present a PowerPoint to the clients.  Macs need this converter thing, which is such a hassle to remember to bring along.  Finally, later that same day I was compiling a list that I wanted to store in a database, where I could tag each item with keywords to cross-reference them according to the various categories they fit under.  I was looking into using Access to accomplish this, which would have been fine and dandy, except Macs can't read those files.  So now we've got to look for a paid program or I'm going to have to painstakingly figure out how to make it work out decently on Excel.

Now my main reasons for preferring PCs have always been:
1. The right click!  So much functionality has been lost from not having that.  I really can't live without it.  Granted, it seems that Apple has finally caught on are adding that in now.
2. The toolbar is at the top of my open box, no matter where that box is.  Why does it have to be the very top, no matter what program is open and where it is on the screen?  What if my window is open at the bottom right?  Then I have to travel all the way to the opposite corner to get to the "Finder" thing just to use the menu options.
3. Double-clicking that expands to full screen.  I am used to it expanding to full screen, not shrinking!  How do you even expand on a Mac, is it that teeny little green button?d
4. The buttons along the bottom of the screen to show all the programs I have open and one button to press to go to the desktop.  I often forget what is even still open on a Mac, and can someone please tell me if there's any order to how the little screens appear when you sweep to one of those corners that shows all the open windows?  I don't like accidentally moving my mouse to a corner and BAM everything disappears, or everything appears when I don't want it to!
5. The backspace AND delete options.  Backspace removes characters to the left and delete removes characters to the right of the cursor.  Delete on a Mac does what backspace does on a PC.  So what on a Mac does what the delete does on a PC, pray tell?

And for HPs, I love the little remote that I get to allow me to control PowerPoints, movies, my music, or any other form of media from up to 10 feet away.  Then I am no longer tied down to where my laptop is sitting (like when it's tied to the cable connecting it to the projector), so I am free to walk around as I present something, sit further away to watch a show, or dance around to my music, changing it as I want to hear a new song.

Another thing is that I like my mouse sensitivity set at very high.  I don't know if it's just because none of the Mac users I know like to make their mouse move faster, but I don't have the patience to wait for the mouse to casually make its way across the screen.  In this new age of efficiency, that is just too slow.  I like a very sensitive touchpad.  And can someone explain to me why there's an "apple" button and a control button?  Everything done with the apple button can pretty much be done with a control on a PC, so what in the world is the control for?  Is it trying to make up for the previously lacking right-click?  Maybe this is just something I'd get with time using it, but it seems superfluous to me.

A friend once told me that Macs are designed to be very childish and simple.  That's very true.  Sometimes they are so simple it doesn't make sense.  (Like the Finder example above - it's very easy to always expect the toolbar in the same spot, no matter what, but it is also inefficient in many cases.)  Everything in their design is about simplicity and plainness.  Just one simple color, no designs.  Just one touch pad, nothing else.  Just a few small slits for USBs and CDs.  Oh, speaking of which, there are hardly enough USB ports!  With a wireless mouse and a thumb drive plugged in, they're already maxed out!  What if I want to plug in just one more thing?  Now maybe it's just my computer and not all PCs have three slots, but I'm comparing what I have to what I've seen of Macs (the new silver ones with the glass screen).

Even their logo is childish and simple.  For 22 years it was the apple shape we all know, but shaded in rainbow colors.  A very simple design and all those colors is rather reminiscent of crayons.  After it was revamped to be the new version that could be blown up without looking tacky, it's now no more than a silhouette.  Yes, it looks sleeker, but it is still very basic.  And that is great for them - it costs much less to print just one color, the logo is easily recognizable, and it can readily be duplicated.

What I do like about Macs are the scrolling option if you use two fingers, as well as the expand or shrink option if you move your two fingers further away from or closer to each other.  They also tend to be the quietest, though if I keep my laptop parallel to the ground and off of soft surfaces, it doesn't complain either.  The new glass screens are quite nice as well, leaving less room for dust to get in cracks and giving a nicely smooth texture.  And I do agree that Macs tend to be better for creative work though, in terms of design and whatnot.

My one gripe about my laptops are that they are dead heavy.  I have that one coming though, since I prefer to get the ones with wide screens and this one also has a reserve battery power that gives me extra oomph.  My shoulders pay the price of that decision, but ultimately I don't mind.

The sleek designs of Macs are much of what makes them appealing, but a lot of functionality is lost through that.  I guess that's why they sell/don't sell.  Some of the population is out for aesthetics over usability.  Most of the population is looking for functionality.  And I am one of those individuals who would not pay exorbitant amounts for looks.  But hey, to each his own, I guess.

 
 

Today, Panda and I discussed our future living situation and it's a good thing that's far down the road!  Though everything else we differ in opinion on can be compromised more readily (like the cat I really want I can "adopt" by going to a local shelter to volunteer with the cats there), where to live is something that is much harder to agree on.  Though I think I would like to end up living in LA, I also can't imagine not finally getting around to living in a few of the places I've been thinking about: Houston, Denver, somewhere in England again...  I've never lived in any city for longer than 4 years and I can't stand thinking about being caged up to one city for the rest of my life.  I move a lot, I experience a lot, and I change a lot.  Ironically though, even though I'm used to change, I don't like the change of having no more change.  Change is what I'm used to and that is what I'm comfortable with.  I like a new kind of scenery, a purging of my life here and there, and plenty of chances to learn from a wide demographic!

On the other hand, Panda is born and bred Californian.  Not only has he never left the country, he's hardly left the state.  He knows LA and he loves LA.  It's hard for him to imagine living anywhere else, ever.  He grew up with the same people pretty much in the same school district his entire life.  He hasn't moved since he was just an infant (other than going to college).  Even the college he chose is close to home and right in the middle of LA.  He's comfortable in that city and doesn't want to leave.  Though he's willing to take trips to visit places around the world, he's just not interested in settling down anywhere else, for any length of time.  His life has been stable, consistent, and reliable.  So why would he want to take a chance and change all that?  It's far easier to keep on doing what he's doing and get a job in the area, raise a family there, and grow old there.  Very predictable.

I have known this about him and it has worried me a bit as I imagined our future together.  It's good that we still have time to change ourselves and perhaps change our minds, but what if we don't?  How do you reconcile two opposite demands?  Just vacationing is not good enough for me.  I want to immerse myself in a new place, which can only be done with lots of time.  So, I was thinking, maybe I could spend a few months of each year in another city and switch the city every few years.  However, I don't like being away from him and I certainly would not want to start a family like that.  Panda suggested that we can try to have two houses, one in the greater Los Angeles area, and one in whatever other city I'm interested in.  That's a good idea in theory, but when would he have the time to join me there?  Being an engineer, I'm sure his work days will be long and hard and the vacation time will be minimal.

Then I was thinking, maybe the company he works for would have offices in the places I'm interested in, so he can request a transfer for a year or two.  After a few of those, we could end up in LA again and settle down then.  Of course, that is banking a lot on the possibility of an office where I want to go and available space.  The type of work I'm doing now seems to (and hopefully is) propelling me towards a life of entrepreneurism and various ventures, which would make my schedule more flexible.  So perhaps I could just wait until he finds a good position and then we relocate.  Granted, this is assuming he'd be willing to go through all that trouble for a couple of years.

As a kid, I got sent on a lot of camps and trips, from annual summer visits to China to swim camps and boot camps (no, I was not a bad child, it was for my JROTC unit and I elected to go).  I like being exposed to different things all the time.  From my upbringing, I tend to get bored of things easily, unless it is always making me see and do things in a different way.  I am afraid that that is going to happen with LA.  I just need some time away, to get out all the dreams I've had before I can feel good about settling down in one place.  Unfortunately, that "time away" can take anywhere from 5-15 years.  Who really knows how things will turn out?  I'm trying not to worry about it right now, since it's still far away, as are deeper commitments with each other.  But, here I am, just about seven and a half weeks into my time in Singapore and I can't stand a day without him.  And much as I appreciate my experience here, I dream of the day that I get to hold his hand again.  How could I ever leave him in LA again and again for years?

For me, when it gets to the point where I know a city inside and out, it loses a lot of its appeal.  It is no longer mysterious, no longer exciting, but suddenly a solved puzzle.  But for him, Los Angeles is his home.  Literally and figuratively.  He's familiar with its areas, its weather, its people.  He knows just where to go to get the food he wants to eat or the things he needs to buy.  At the same time, Los Angeles is a sprawling metropolis with so much to explore and see!  From the famous landmarks to visit to the beautiful places to see, it offers up a whole bunch of options.  I can totally see him staying there forever and never getting bored.  I admit, there is still plenty for me to go see and do, but I've hit up most of the important areas (multiple times) and I'm ready to try something new in a few years.  I still want to go back and establish something there first, but after that... who knows.

As for now, we'll both just have to see if we can break out of the barriers we grew up learning and find some sort of a compromise down the road.

 
 

I'm not one to really delve into politics, but what I've been hearing/reading about President Obama over the past few months has been all about his forward-thinking and modernness in terms of his campaign.  He's definitely breaking boundaries with his approach and I'd like to delve into how social media is impacting his presidency.  To start off with, he is the first Generation X president, bringing an entirely new philosophy as compared to the Baby Boomers.  As such, he has embraced a lot of social media outlets and is really quite on top of things - no longer do we have the outdated leader of the past.  It's really refreshing to finally see the leader of our country making himself available to the masses in the way that he does, from having a Twitter account to keep people abreast of things (although that has definitely dwindled) to posting videos so the masses can listen to his speeches.  Now that's what transparency is all about.

I like that the image and expectations of what a president is can be changed with him.  After all, he is all about change!  And it certainly is past due for the states to revamp our national leader's role in interacting with his contituents.  We should no longer expect frumpy old white men hiding behind their desk in the Oval Office, but men (hopefully women, soon) of all backgrounds with doors thrown open and information shared.  Granted, there will be plenty we will not know due to the sensitivity of the information, but at least this allows us as a nation to have a better idea of what is going on.  People never really have a very good idea of what the presidency entails, so if President Obama and his staff can update his blog, Twitter, facebook, and other suck accounts, we can feel like this man is actually doing something for this nation.  There is great potential here to reach out to the United States as a person and not a figure or a title.

I would like to see him reminding people of why we celebrate certain holidays as they come along, to encourage the community to understand what all those days off are for.  I would like to see updates on his social media accounts, telling us when he's traveling to another country to meet their leader for talks, or an ambassador is visiting him to talk.  I would like to see him bringing attention to the importance of also voting in your local elections.  I would like to see him talking about all the issues he's looking at, from the ongoing war to environmental issues to educational problems, and the like.  Most of all, I want to see him involving the people, engaging the people, and continuing to reach out to each of us, as individuals.  That's what I think a great leader would do.

I've got high hopes for this man and what he can do not only for the country, but also the presidency.

 
 

On the way to work this morning, I had the unfortunate experience of standing next to a guy with his music blasting into his ears.  I don't know what it is about people out there, but they all seem to need their music played at exorbitant volumes.  It's completely unnecessary and rather harmful too, yet they either don't know or don't care and go on with their deafening habits.  It has long been proven that prolonged exposure to loud noises is damaging to our ears.  Is it just that people have not gotten the memo?  Besides the point that is it deafening, literally, it's also disruptive and inconsiderate to the people around, most who just want a peaceful start to their day.  For those who are trying to drown out ambient noise, get those noise-canceling headphones or learn how to focus on the sound right by your ears, rather than the ones slipping through!

Perhaps it is because of my background studying psychology, which in turn includes biology and physiology, that creates a bias in my knowledge about this subject.  But surely any lay man who goes from an extremely loud environment to a quiet one can tell that the ringing in their ears is not a good thing.  Note to the wise: ringing ears means auditory damage!  You are killing off nerves in those ears!  Now a bit of exposure here and there is hardly noticeable, but when you're subjecting yourself to that for hours each week, it will result in permanent damage that cannot be reversed.  So are these people just looking to incapacitate themselves this way?  This will always be a mystery to me.  Do people think they're somehow "cool" by doing this?  Maybe it's just me, but I find it an annoying and rude behavior.

Listening to music loudly is often used as a means to ignore the rest of the world.  After all, if your eyes are averted and your ears are plugged, how do we get your attention?  This is a phenomenon you'll find common on college campuses are students bustle around campus, rushing to get places.  The main thoroughfare through UCLA, Bruinwalk, is abound with students ignoring each other and the people frantically trying to give them fliers as they pass by.  It's notorious amongst all students that earphones in means everyone out.  Sure, sometimes you need to focus on yourself and where you're headed or what you need to do, but really, do you need to act like you're the only one left on the planet?  Playing music at a reasonable level allows you to filter through things that you don't want to hear, but also catch important ones like someone chasing after you, calling your name.  Since when did we become so antisocial?

I have always listened to my music at a level that is just enough to hear, but not enough to drown out what is going on around me.  I like to be aware of my surroundings and if I can't hear the sirens approaching that I should give way to or the people behind me who are excusing themselves while trying to dodge me to get off the train, I'm far more likely to be a nuisance and get in the way.  So what do you say?  How about turning down the volume a little and not shutting yourself off in your own world, oblivious to your surroundings.  We as humans are not meant to function that way.  That is why we are social and why we form societies.  So, next time you have the urge to blast your music at the max volume, turn it down halfway and allow yourself time to enjoy the world you're in.