Is That Honda Yours?

One thing I forgot to mention that happened on Saturday was while I was paying for parking, a meter attendant walked up to us and asked, “Is that Honda yours?” It’s a good to know that the Seattle meter attendants are at least reasonable. Turns out the term “meter maid” is actually derogatory.

Why bring up this story? I had recently read this letter on Digg: Australians Are Good At Disputing Parking Tickets and found the situation rather amusing.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to dispute the above-mentioned “infringement” notice, which was presented to me at 8:26am on March 11th 2010, approximately 30-40 seconds after I pulled into the car space in La Trobe Street.

Firstly, allow me to congratulate the officer involved, who’s application to his job is something we can all learn from. How’s this for dedication: I park my car at approximately 8:25am. I get out of my car & walk around to the boot, where my briefcase is. I dig into my briefcase & come up with the $8.00 required to pay for my 2 hours of parking. I close the boot & start walking towards the ticket machine (which is right next to my car), when at precisely 8:26am old mate gives me a puzzled look, asks me “where did you come from?” and proceeds to tell me I’ve been written up & given a ticket.

Seriously, I’ve gotta hand it to him – this guy’s a genius. Somehow he knew I fully intended to comply with the regulations and pay for my parking, so he did what any good parking officer would do – he wrote me a ticket before I even had the chance to walk the 8 steps to the machine to & pay for one. Officer 355 must get a raise, no questions asked. If the City of Melbourne had more officers that demonstrated this type of innovation, imagine the revenue that could be raised! We might even be able to afford – I don’t know, some police? Another giant wheel near Docklands? More parking officers!?

I accept full responsibility for not getting from my car to the ticket machine in time. The 30-40 seconds I let lapse between parking and finding my $8.00 was clearly my fault. Can you please advise me what the threshold is for time lapsed before purchasing a ticket? In the interim, I will commence winding down my window as I pull in and throwing my coins at the ticket machine in the hope that some find their way into the coin slot – if I can then get a passer-by to hit the button for me, this should enable me to have the ticket before I get out of my car.

Or you could waive the ticket. Please check the officer’s notes & do so – this is bullshit.

Yours in disbelief etc,

(name deleted)

(Text copied from Pantless Ponderings)

Speaking of which, has anyone figured out where all the free parking days come from?

free parking days

  • Third Monday of January: Martin Luther King Jr.?
  • Third Monday of February?
  • Last Monday of May: Memorial Day?
  • First Monday of September: Labor Day?
  • November 11?

How To Cook A Wolf

As I mentioned previously, Denise had came up for a workshop in Seattle for her graduate program. She was free on Saturday, so VonLobster and I hung out with her. I was glad Saturday turned out to be such a nice day.

We took her to the Seattle Center and checked out the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum. It was VonLobster’s and my first time there too. It was interesting. It was fun to see Denise and VonLobster jamming on a real guitar.

Afterwards, we headed down to Olympic Sculpture Park. Part of the park was closed because a wedding was going on. The ceremony was held in the Gates Amphitheater:

Gates Amphitheater
(Source)

It was so BEAUTIFUL! Chairs were placed along the stairs. The building (completely in glass) you see in the back was where the reception was being held. What you can’t see from the picture is immediately to the right is the lake. The scenery was just breathtaking. Did I mention it was so beautiful?

We walked around downtown a bit more and the topic of dessert came up. Denise decided that she wanted cupcakes and apparently the best cupcakes in the Seattle area is Trophy Cupcakes. We dropped by the one in Wallingford. Denise got the Chocolate Hazelnut Peanut Butter Chocolate, VonLobster picked the Carrot Walnut, and I chose the Vanilla Chocolate. We decided to save these till after dinner, so not to spoil our appetite.

trophy cupcakes

VonLobster introduced us to the restaurant called How To Cook A Wolf. The name of the restaurant was so cool, that I decided to use that as the title of this blog post. Their menu was also very unique and apparently it changes often. Everything on it just sounds so good!

Here’s what we ordered and shared:

  • Treviso (Cauliflower, Orange, Pine Nut, Anchovy Dressing)
  • Quail (Garbanzo Bean, Asparagus, Saffron Aioli)
  • Skate (Brown Butter, Caper, Lemon)
  • Rigatoni (Spicy Sausage, Tomato, Marjoram)
  • Casarecce (Bacon, Onion, Black Pepper)

It was so delicious and now has become one of my favorite restaurants in the Seattle area.

VonLobster had mistaken me for becoming a wine-enthusiast due to my recent Facebook status update of being carded for buying wine. Unfortunately I had to disappoint him. Some time later, the discussion of getting a girl’s number a bar came up, and the fact was, I had previously gotten a number from a girl at a bar. I then realized I never told anyone of what happened in Texas. For those that recall my tweets:

Got either drunk /typsy for the first time in my life. Must’ve drank 5x tonight more than I’ve ever drank ever. Dunno how my brother does it. That’s 3x Long Islands + 3x Starf*ckers + 1 shot of Pitron Tequila + 1 shot of hypnotic. Surprised I can still type.

(Source, Source)

And there’s a good reason why the story is still under wraps, but we were in good company, and I told them what happened. No, I will not discuss what happened on this blog as it was rather embarrassing and a night I would very much want to forget. I must not have been drunk enough as I remember pretty much every detail. VonLobster was jealous. Throughout college, many have tried to get me drunk and never quite succeeded. One night in Texas and everything just goes out the window. I guess my brother has something to be proud of.

Kickin' it at how to cook a wolf

After dinner, we hopped across the street into the game store and we learnt to play Piece ‘o Cake. It was actually very interesting and fun, but since it was our first time playing, no one really figured out the strategies until later in the game. Our scores ended being pretty close, but VonLobster was ultimately the winner.

We went back to VonLobster’s place and played South Park – Let’s Go Tower Defense Play. The game is REALLY fun in co-op mode. I had purchased the game several weeks ago, but since I’ve been really busy, I haven’t gotten a chance to play yet. It’s funny how both VonLobster and I have unopened Xbox 360 games just sitting around. Before we knew it, it was past midnight already. We enjoyed our cupcakes. I would have to say VonLobster’s choice of Carrot Walnut was excellent. We decided to call it a night after those Jackovasaurs kept dominating us.

Due to complications with her hotel, Denise decided to stay over at my place for the night. Before calling it a night, I introduced her to “How I Met Your Mother” and she enjoyed it. I dropped her at the airport earlier today. All in all I had a great time. I presume the others did too. 🙂

As Long As I Exercise, I Can Eat Anything I Want

I had a pretty awesome weekend. I finally had a weekend I could relax. ChewyDenise came to Seattle for a workshop, so we got to hang out. I’ll talk about that in a separate blog post.

For the 1st time since college, I’ve dropped below 140lbs. My scale read 139.6lbs this morning. I’m excited and scared at the same time. I appear to stick at a certain weight (within a pound) for most of the week, and then suddenly drop 3lbs overnight. My eating habit has also been changing. I don’t think I’m becoming anorexic, as I still love eating. But I’ve noticed I’m eating less and less these days, not that I ate that much previously. I think I’ve dropped to VonLobster’s level of eating.

With my busy work schedule these past few weeks, I’m ashamed to admit I’ve been skipping out on weight training, but at least I’ve continued with the elliptical. I was surprised I was still able to do 8 pull-ups the other day.

Here’s a picture of me when I first started working at Microsoft (July 2005):

profile picture

I believe I was ~135lbs back then.

I’ve mentioned my motto to several friends before:

As long as I exercise, I can eat anything I want.

The funny thing is the 1st time I mentioned this, my friends “claimed” I said As long as I exercise, I can do anything I want. If I recall correctly, Chad’s response was, “Does that include murder?” Ah, my friends. ;p

So there you have it. My motto. Eating delicious food is one of my favorite things to do and I find it very sad to see people giving up tasty food because of health reasons. The day I’m told I can’t eat this or that anymore, is the day I’ll seriously consider if it’s worth living anymore. I’m not on a diet, but my body (or shrinking stomach) seems to be limiting what I eat. Therefore it makes even more sense to eat more of the good stuff, since I can only eat so much (e.g. cheesecake for dinner instead of the entrée).

On a somewhat-related topic, Xyon had mentioned that Costco sells mozzarella sticks. Mmmmmm. Unfortunately the last 2 times I went, they’ve been sold out. I did end up buying these vegetable spring rolls which comes with deep fry instructions. Haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but they look tasty from the box. Plus what deep fried food isn’t tasty?

Since we’re on the topic of Costco, there’s 2 things I wanted to also mention. It looks like my Costco is carrying this new product called Santa Cruz Organic Sparkling Lemonade. Being a big fan of lemonade, I just had to give it a try. And it did not disappoint.

Santa Cruz Organic Sparkling Lemonade

Another thing I don’t quite get is dress sock sizes. Costco carries 2 brands of dress socks: Kirkland Signature and Gold Toes. They only have 1 sizing: Shoe Size: 6-12.5 / Sock Size: 10-13. I thought cool, my shoe size of 8 falls into that range, but when I tried it on, it’s a lot bigger than I had expected. The sock feels very loose and if I pull it very tight, the heel of the sock doesn’t align with my heel. Is this normal?

Locking Down Facebook

evil facebook For the past few weeks, I’ve been slowly locking down Facebook, altering privacy settings, removing data I once thought it was fun to share, and removing applications which I no longer use. If I could, I would delete my Facebook account altogether, but I’ve become dependent on it to keep in touch with friends who I would never keep in contact with otherwise.

You may also noticed I’ve been using Twitter a lot less this past week. Initially I thought of using Twitter to post random crap which I used to post on my blog. Now that I think about it, do I really care about random people reading my crap, which ends up as spam on my friends’ feeds. I also thought about making my Twitter account protected, but then what’s the point of Twitter since a protected account serves basically the same function as Facebook. Plus Facebook gives you more characters and control! I’ll still be using Twitter to promote my HD-Trailers.net website (hdtrailers), but that’s really the only benefit of Twitter that I see at this point. I guess the one good thing that came out of Twitter so far is that I met some new friends.

Friend Lists

One thing new about Facebook that I found out recently is that you can create friend lists. Friend lists are especially useful when you want to post something to share with your friends, that you might not exactly want your boss or co-workers to know. Mashable has a pretty good tutorial on how to create such a list: HOW TO: Create Friend Lists on Facebook. Now when you post new things on Facebook, you’ll notice the little lock icon near the bottom right of the input area, and that lets you control who gets to see what you’re about to post.

Privacy

Privacy settings are one of the newer things that Facebook has added (due to backlash from the community) and I have to say they’ve done a pretty good job. I’d like more control, but for what they have, it’s not bad. To get access to your privacy settings, near the upper-right corner, click on Account, followed by Privacy Settings.

Profile Information
facebook profile privacy

The first on the list is your profile. Here you control who gets to see what on your information tab. Back to the previous topic of friend lists, you can now even restrict particular info to just a specific group of friends, which I found useful.

Another useful tool Facebook provides is the ability to preview your profile in the eyes of a random stranger or friend. The button to do so is near the upper right corner.

Contact Information
facebook contact privacy

Similarly this page allows you to control who gets to see the different ways they can contact you (via phone, email, IM, etc.) Also, I know pixelization isn’t the best way to hide my email, but if you can figure out my email address(es) from that screenshot, kudos to you!

Applications and Websites

I’m actually not sure what Activity on Applications and Games Dashboards refers to, so I’ve restricted to just a small set of friends for now. The Instant Personalization is definitely new as I did not see it several days ago. I’m guessing this is part of their Open Graph feature they’ve just announced. I’ve decided to uncheck it until I fully understand what it does.

One particular interesting setting in this section is the What your friends can share about you. From the title, it sounds a bit harmless, but you have to understand that it’s what your friends share about you to websites and applications, and most of the time, they’re not informed what information they’re sharing about you. I’ve decided to uncheck everything on this page:
facebook friends share settings

Applications

I’ve always disliked the fact that I had to reveal all my personal info and give up friends’ data when I wanted to use an application. Why does a game like Farmville need to know my birthday or where I live? So over the past week, I’ve gone and removed all the applications which I no longer use and the ones I decided I could live without. ReadWriteWeb has a good tutorial on how to remove applications: How to Delete Facebook Applications (and Why You Should)

facebook authorized apps

Axis of Awesome – 4 Chords

Awhile ago, I had posted about Pachelbel’s Rant where Rob Paravonian identified lots of modern day pop music using the same notes as Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Yesterday on Digg, I had found another musical comedian group that did something similar, titled Axis of Awesome – 4 Chord Song

What got me wondering is if the 4 chords they played actually mapped into any of the 8 notes that the cello repeats for Canon in D. For those who haven’t seen Pachelbel’s Rant, you should:

About 1:18 into Pachelbel’s Rant is where Paravonian starts listing the 8 notes he plays over and over again. I tried to compare that with the 4 chords that Benny (Chicken Little) plays at about 0:30 into the Axis of Awesome video. The 1st 4 notes that Paravonian plays do sound a bit similar, but they don’t seem to quite match up. There were definitely a few songs that were played in both Pachelbel’s Rant and the 4 Chord Song:

  • U2 – Without or Without You
  • Natalie Imbruglia – Torn
  • Beatles – Let It Be

After speaking with Xyon, it turns out not all songs really play the same notes, but is using what is called chord progression (shifting scales as I learnt in piano). Here’s an interesting article he linked me to: Writing Better Songs: Analyzing Pachelbell’s Canon in D / Basketcase

Now I have some new songs to add to my music collection!

Update: Thanks to Tekman for providing some additional data:

Canon in D is: 1, 5, 6m, 3m, 4, 1, 4, 5 (D, A, Bm, F#m, G, D, G, A)
Their four chords were: 1, 5, 6m, 4 (D, A, Bm, G)

Also, the Australian guys cheated a lot. Theirs is essentially one of the foundational cadences of western music that is in almost every song ever. And they just used the tiny parts of the songs that were similar. Though, for example, since 4 is very much like 2m, they just fudged it. (Again, in Canon in D, G is very much like Em.)