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

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 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 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


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.)

2 Very Cute 3D Animation Movies

The quote “你好嗎,警察?” has been stuck in my head for over a week, but didn’t feel like it deserved it’s own post. Wonder if anyone else can immediately pick up which movie it’s from.

How to Train Your Dragon Poster I mentioned VonLobster and I went to see How to Train Your Dragon last weekend. We were originally planning to catch the 3D showing, but shopping ran a bit late and it was a good thing the 2D showing started 20 minutes later than the 3D showing. I’ve been hearing very good things about this movie and was excited to see it. And it did not disappoint!

How to Train Your Dragon is about a young Viking boy named Hiccup trying to prove himself to be a real Viking. The step into Viking manhood is to capture and kill your first dragon. However being weak and scrawny has put him at a disadvantage against the rest of the kids his age, always requiring others to save his butt. But Hiccup is an inventor and he builds a contraption that helps him captured a Night Fury, a dragon that flies so fast, no one has ever seen one or lived to tell so. The story continues on with the journey of how Hiccup develops a bond with Toothless (name he gave to the dragon). This is very much a coming of age story, yet also a story about how misunderstandings between 2 groups has led to conflict.

When I first saw the trailer, I wasn’t too impressed with Toothless as he looked nothing like a dragon that I’d imagine. However, after watching the movie, and how he moves and acts, I fell in love. He’s just so adorable and cute! When he regurgitated the fish to share with Hiccup, the first thing that popped into my head was sushi!

The story was very well told, much better than I had expected from Dreamworks. Usually good storytelling like this is what I expect from Pixar. The overall soundtrack also fitted really well with the movie. The animation was just spectacular. When Hiccup and Astrid flew on Toothless through the mountains and over the ocean, it was just breathtaking. I rated this 5/5 on Netflix.

You’ve been warned… Reading anything between the spoilers tag may spoil the movie for you.

I thought the little romantic side story was a bit rushed, but I also felt it added a nice touch to the story. One of the reasons Hiccup wanted to capture/kill his own dragon was for the ladies, and who can blame him. I also love the fact that Toothless played a big part of getting Astrid to fall for him. It just reinforces the bond that Hiccup and Toothless share.

One thing I never did quite get was why there was only 1 Night Fury. How do they create more Night Furys? I want to see some baby Night Furys!

Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror Poster I saw ホッタラケの島 〜遥と魔法の鏡〜 (Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror) while eating dinner last night. I first saw the trailer on Apple’s Japanese trailer site and thought it looked rather fun. This is a Japanese 3D animation if you haven’t guessed from the poster and the title of the movie. I’m generally not a big fan of Japanese 3D animation. I tend to like 2D Japanese anime more since I find 3D animation limits the style of art. However, this movie mixes both 2D drawings with 3D animation. The beautiful background and sceneries were mostly drawn in 2D, while the characters and the world were done in 3D. The 3D animation itself wasn’t shabby either. Whoever created the world did an amazing job as it was just so imaginative and fun! I understand that not everyone here understands Japanese, so here’s the trailer with English subtitles.

This is very much a kids movie. It’s about a girl named Haruka who lost her mom when she was really young. One of the things that Haruka said she’d always treasure was a mirror given to her by her mom. However like most things we treasure, we eventually forget about them. Story has it that when you forget about something, these foxes come and take it away. And that’s how we meet Teo, a fox that accidentally leads Haruka into his world, built with things that humans have forgotten about. The journey begins where Haruka decides to find the mirror her mom had given her.

So what makes this movie cute? COTTON! Cotton is a stuff animal (lamb I think) that Haruka had forgotten and abandoned awhile back. Most of my childhood stuff animals were donated by my mom, and it was so sad to see them leave. Did you ever wished your stuff animal was alive and can move and do everything your imagination said it could? Well, Cotton can!

cotton takes off his hat cotton upside down cotton sleeping cotton climbs up teo cotton sitting on bucket cotton on horse

I definitely shed some tears at different parts of the movie. The story was very well told and I enjoyed the movie a lot. Unfortunately Netflix doesn’t have this movie in their listing yet, but if they did, I would’ve given it 4/5 stars.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-04-18

  • spent $163 on clothes today at Costco. Changing my wardrobe from L to M isn't going to be cheap. #
  • saw How to Train Your Dragon today and it was awesome! I want my own Toothless! 😀 #
  • Sometimes I'm not sure if I'm laughing at how funny How I Met Your Mother is, or at myself. #
  • While getting rid of some old t-shirts (since I got some new replacements), I found my stock-pile of college pants and they fit me again! #
  • Costco Deal of The Day: 15lbs Kobe-style Prime Rib for $299 + free ship: #
  • Booo. How To Train Your Dragon soundtrack isn't available on @Zune Store #
  • @ryandjohnson Overclocked CPU? Synching to wrong time server? in reply to ryandjohnson #
  • @ryandjohnson You might bet interested in this: ForScore sheet music viewer for iPad misses cutoff – via @arstechnica #
  • Sigh… another $50 spent on clothing. I did find a jacket I liked. 🙂 #
  • Handling Money Could Bring Pain Relief: #
  • @aChrisSmith What does the 'A' stand for? in reply to aChrisSmith #
  • @hjo3 Your post office stays open late! in reply to hjo3 #
  • @hjo3 Hmmm, maybe. I remember for college applications, several of my friends drove to the airport because the post office there was 24/7 in reply to hjo3 #
  • Unintended Entendres – (via @notalwaysright) #
  • Interesting, I just got an email from @netflix saying if I activate Netflix on my Wii console, I get 10% off next month. #
  • was planning to work late tonight, but looks like I'll be crossing the bridge at 6:30pm. WSDOT map shows all black so far. #
  • @abhijeet80 True. I guess my next month of bluray access is complimentary. 🙂 in reply to abhijeet80 #
  • Sigh… I have to work this weekend. Guess I should get some sleep. #
  • Hmmm, I think my scale broke. For the past week (including yesterday) I was between 145-146lbs. Today I'm 142.6lbs. I lost 2.5lbs overnight. #
  • @krunk4ever Plus I really need a new belt. Haha. I wonder if Costco sells belts. in reply to krunk4ever #
  • @jmcw @aChrisSmith Now #2 😀 in reply to aChrisSmith #

New Clothes!

Vonlobster and I went to Bellevue Square today to do some shopping, before dinner and How to Train Your Dragon. I was introduced to The Rail in Nordstrom, apparently the clothing section for young adult males. Unfortunately I didn’t really see anything I particularly liked. Also, I personally have an internal sense on how much I would ever pay for a particular article of clothing, and typically malls/brand new clothing stores (when not on sale) are far beyond what I’d pay. Of course if I urgently need say a tie for a dinner event the next day, price isn’t much of a concern anymore. Clothes just don’t excite me. I can see how clothing can make me look nice, but even if I dawn upon a full suit like how Barney does in How I Met Your Mother, it’s not like I’ll be checking myself out constantly. That’s a different story with electronics, gadgets, and toys. If I really like something, I buy it immediately, regardless of the price.

I was also quite surprised that Vonlobster was the 1st person to noticed my new shoes, new shoes I’ve been wearing since Wednesday. I guess people may have noticed, but just didn’t tell me. People did comment on my button-up shirt though.

new shoesnew button up shirt

The above were on sale for $20 each shipped.

As I tweeted earlier, I spent $163 at Costco on just clothing, probably a small # for you veteran clothing shoppers, but probably the most I’ve ever spent on clothing in a single transaction. Right now I’m trying to convert my wardrobe tops from L(arge) to M(edium). I got myself several Kirkland Signature dress shirts, several Calvin Klein t-shirts, and several Hathaway polos. The Calvin Klein t-shirts were really nice and soft. I especially liked the Hathaway polos, even though I’ve never heard of them and couldn’t really find much information on them. The really only thing I found about Hathaway was an article featured in a 2007 Costco Connection. There were also some really nice PGA Tour polos too, but the only sizes they had were L, XL, and XXL. They also had some really nice Under Armour polos, but cost twice as much ($30 Under Armour vs $15 Hathaway), so I decided to stick with Hathaway and was pleasantly surprised by how nice they were.

While getting rid of some old t-shirts (some I had since college) to make room for my new clothing, I found my old stockpile of pants I wore back in college and they fit me again! Sweet! That means I can hold off on buying new pants. Though I am at the last hole on my belt, so it looks like I might need to invest in a new one.

One thing I’m working on right now is trying to find a jacket. I’m not quite sure what I’m looking for yet. The thing is I don’t wear jackets all that often, and if I do, it’s usually something very thin/lightweight. A blazer isn’t an everyday thing and I’m not into leather jackets either. I do have several sports/track jacket, but they don’t particular go well with the new clothes I’ve purchased. Oh well, not in any particular rush here. Summer’s around the corner so I have till next Winter to find a new jacket.