Bad Vibrations

sunlight through clouds Finally got around to fixing my Honda Civic’s brake rotors. If you’ve sat in my car in the past few years, you’ve probably noticed that it tends to vibrate whenever I use the brakes. And recently (as in the past year) it’s been making screeching noises whenever I use them, and it’s only gotten louder. The last time I took it into Bellevue Honda for a recall issue, they told me the vibration/noise issue was due to bad suspensions and would cost over ~$750 to fix. When I took my car into Autohaus Vick when my engine light turned on, they told me the issue was because my brake rotor had bent/morphed, which made a lot more sense. To fix that, they told me it would cost ~$350. They told me I still had 40% of my brake pads left and I should come back when I wanted to get them replaced and they can fix it then.

I finally decided that I didn’t want to deal with these vibrations and screeching noises anymore and took it in to get my brake rotors and pads replaced. After prime discount and sales tax, it came out to be $368. The ride is definitely a lot smoother and quieter now. And I’m no longer afraid to use the brakes!

All in all, I think it’s time for a new car.

Health Screening Numbers

Sushi Garden, Vancouver BC

Spicy salmon sashimi at Sushi Garden, Vancouver BC - AWESOMELY DELICIOUS!

Got my health screening numbers today. Apparently my numbers look excellent according to the health consultant.

Body Fat: 15.9% (Recommended: 10 – 20)
BMI: 22.3 (Normal Weight: 18.5 – 24.9)
Total Cholesterol: 153 (Desirable: < 200)
HDL: Cholesterol: 69 (Exceptional: ≥ 60)
LDL Cholesterol: 74 (Optimal: < 100)
Triglycerides: 52 (Normal: < 150)
Glucose: 89 (Normal: < 99)
Blood Pressure: 115 / 64 (Normal: < 120 / < 80)

Looks like the last time I posted #s were back in 2007. Most #s look pretty much the same, though I significantly brought down my body fat and BMI. My HDL cholesterol also jumped up quite a bit. I presume that’s good. Haha.

It’s also interesting to see how some of the desirable/normal ranges have shifted.

I wonder if the reason I didn’t get my #s for 2008 and 2009 was because I was too lazy (my general way of living) or if I was afraid to know the results given that was when I sort of let myself go. Haha. I want to say it’s because I’m lazy, but now I’m not so sure.

Along the way, I also got my flu shot. Derek finally convinced me, even though he doesn’t get them on his own. Haha. Let’s see if I get a slight fever this time as I usually do with flu shots. ;p

The Egg

I first read this story on Digg which posted it as a screenshot of 4chan, but here’s the original source: The Egg by Andy Weir. A very short story, but very deep and thought provoking and definitely worth the 5-10 minutes reading it.

When I was a kid, I had a belief that reality was merely an immersive experience that beings from a higher place (i.e. angels) were partaking. In fact, my belief was that I was the only “real” thing in my reality and everyone else existed only to make my world complete. When we died, we would wake up inside a contraption (which back then really just involved some sort of goggles) and be able to select a new experience (sort of like choosing a new movie). Next to me would be other “angels” enjoying their own virtual reality. I was small back then, so definitely not as thought out as “The Egg”, but this story triggered that memory.

Something else the story reminded me of was why humans are trying to achieve the hand of god (aka the divine move) in games such as Chess or Go. Here are 2 dialogs from Hikaru no Go I’d like to share:

Kuwabara: Sakamaki-san, did you know that Go is a two player game?
Sakamaki: Of course I know that.
Kuwabara: No, you don’t. You can’t play Go by yourself.
Sakamaki: I said, I know that.
Kuwabara: You need two people. A masterful game cannot happen with just one genius. Right, Sakamaki-san? You need two people with equal genius. Two. When you have two, you can finally take a step towards the divine move.

Hikaru: Then the god of Go must be quite lonely. There’s nobody on the same level as he is, after all.
Uncle: Maybe that’s why the god of Go is teaching men how to play and devote themselves to Go. To raise a player who can play equally against him.
Akira: Does that mean Go players of the past and present are all improving together through friendly rivalry?
Uncle: That’s right! With each person affecting the other.
Akira: Sounds like a plan that will take a million years.

Insights

Insights Lego Blocks So work provided an Insights Discovery training session today. It required me to wake up around 8am, which was exceedingly difficult. However, the session was really interesting and rather revealing. They were scarily accurate on their analysis of me based on just 25 questions. I also finally found out where everyone was getting those 4 colored Lego blocks.

Before I continue, here’s some background on the 4 types of energies:

  • Cool Blue: Cautious, Precise, Deliberate, Questioning, Formal
  • Earth Green: Collaborative, Encouraging, Mentoring, Patient, Relaxed
  • Sunshine Yellow: Enthusiastic, Sociable, Dynamic, Demonstrative, Persuasive
  • Fiery Red: Purposeful, Determined, Strong-willed, Competitive, Demanding

The above is just a small set of adjectives that described that particular energy. Each energy actually covers a lot more. All energies have strengths and weakness. Like anything, too much of a particular trait makes it a weakness. The training session was not only to inform us of what type of energies we utilize/prefer, but how to effectively communicate with others depending on their energy. That’s why there’s those 4 colored Lego blocks on my desk now and now I know to look for the 4 colored Lego blocks on others’ desks.

We did an interesting exercise where we had an energy circle taped to our back and had our colleagues rate where they think we are in the circle. Interestingly, 6 out of 9 people rated me as in between Cool Blue and Earth Green.

According to my report, these are my energy split:

  • Cool Blue: 59%
  • Earth Green: 86%
  • Sunshine Yellow: 52%
  • Fiery Red: 11%

Earth Green is definitely my dominant/primary energy as peace/harmony is something I valued highly. I didn’t realize my cool blue and sunshine yellow energy were that close. And it’s laughable that I have any fiery red energy.

There was a 2.5 pages which provided an overview of what type of person I am and it was accurate to the point that it was scary. Here are some statements I thought I shared:

  • He is patient, flexible and usually easy to get along with, having little personal desire to dominate and control others.
  • He will make an effort to remember names and birthdays and make his office or home a pleasant place in which to work.
  • He tends to not show his private feelings, yet experiences a strong internal personal reaction to many situations and events.
  • His strong sense of personal values may make him reserved around strangers whose values he feels may conflict with his own.
  • He tends to take the things he does well for granted and usually underrates and understates himself.
  • He may have a tendency to repress anger.
  • Intent on keeping a low profile, he is quiet and reserved, especially around strangers.
  • Building harmony, understanding and common acceptance is a life-long assignment for him.
  • In conflict, he will listen to all sides before forming a conclusion and supporting a particular view.
  • He will be deeply committed whenever he chooses to undertake a role or task.

These were some that I didn’t realize, but thinking about past experiences, it makes sense:

  • His natural introversion does not prevent him from making critical and incisive comments with conviction and presence.
  • He seeks to unite all parties in a controversy and can readily see the validity of alternative points of view.
  • His quiet demeanor often allows him to get agreement to his alternative solutions.

If you disagree with any of the statements I’ve selected, please do tell. I’d be really interested in finding out what others think of me that do not match my view of myself.

The report contains a bunch of other interesting data like my possible strengths and weaknesses, do’s and don’ts on effectively communicating with me, and lots of other interesting data. Not everything stated really applies to me, but I didn’t even expect this much out of just 25 questions. I wonder if companies actually use these profiles to hire or even fire people.

One thing on the report that scares me is that it says he has a strong sense of duty and faithfulness, but little desire to impress or influence others. The statement is pretty true, but one of the things that Microsoft values highly is impact and influence. My lead has also reiterated that several times. Haha…

Adjusting to Short Hair

Thanks to everyone’s compliments about my new hair. Most people at work were surprised about my new short hair. A few were actually shocked. Chad keeps reminding me everyday I’m now the short-hair version of myself. I do have to apologize to Vittorio as we were both sporting long hair and now he feels betrayed. I’m sorry.

It’s been a few days since I got short hair and I’ve been getting used to it. There are definitely a lot of benefits for having short hair.

  • I no longer have to use a comb!
  • I use 75% less shampoo and conditioner, which probably means my Costco-sized shampoo and conditioner will last over a year.
  • My hair dries pretty much immediately after a shower. With long hair and without using the blow dryer, it would usually take an hour.
  • I no longer have to clean out the long hair from the shower or pull it out of my Roomba.

The disadvantages I can think of:

  • No more long hair for girls to play with. For some reason they really liked to braid my hair.
  • I can no longer use the excuse that it’s mine if someone finds a strand of long hair on me.

One freaky thing I never really told anyone is that since I haven’t had a haircut for over 2 years, after a shower, my hair would drape across the front of my face, and I would look like that girl from Ringu (The Ring).

I do have to style my hair in the morning (I explain why later), but it’s not too bad. I have had this small tub of Garnier Fructis Style Fiber Gum Putty for awhile (I presume from the days when I still had short hair) and it’s working great with my new haircut. Styling my hair takes about 30 seconds every morning:

  • Wet hair
  • Scoop small amount of putty into hand
  • Rub hands together
  • Run hands through hair and mold into shape I want
  • Wash hands

One thing that sucks is that after I wash the putty off, it looks like I have a broom-head. It looks okay when it’s still wet, but once I dry it off, it all sticks straight up, like what Xyon would call Chia Pet mode. And when your hair is 1.5″ long, it sort of looks like a broom. My sister imagined I would look like a Dragon Ball character, but I think it’s more like Vash from Trigun or Chou from Rurouni Kenshin (though they both sport the broom-head much better than I do):

Trigun - Vash Rurouni Kenshin - Chou

Maybe the key is to dye it blond and wear red clothing.

New Hair Cut

toland with fauxhawk

Looking at my pictures, I’m not sure if I’d recognized myself. As you can see, I no longer have long hair. The 2+ year experiment has come to an end and while it was a bit sad to see my long hair go away, it was also time for a change. Why I decided to grow out my hair doesn’t really have that interesting of a back story. It was my nature to be lazy and one time I just didn’t get a haircut for a really long time, and before I knew it, my hair was several inches long. I had always contemplated the idea of growing out my hair and what better chance than now. And there you have it, the reason I had long hair was because I was too lazy to get a haircut.

So several weeks ago, I had a poll up asking what people thought I should do with my hair. Most people thought I should go with a new style or go short. There were a few that told me that I looked better with long hair and it gave me character. In the end, I decided it was a time for a change and decided to go with short hair. With summer also being just around the corner, short hair made perfect sense. Also by cutting my hair short, I can donate it to Locks of Love. Locks of Love requires donated hair to be 10″ long and when I measured my hair, I had close to 12″.

The plan was to get the haricut before Xyon’s wedding in late May, but with out project shipping not too long ago and a couple busy weekends, I finally found some time this weekend. So this past Friday, I made an appointment at Gene Juarez, the expensive salon that is supposed to be awesome. I asked about hair donation and they told me they did it. My appointment was at 3:45pm (allowing me to sleep in on Sunday).

So I had no idea what style I really wanted. The plan was to ask my stylist for suggestions and pick what I liked. But just in case I didn’t like my stylist’s suggestions, I wanted a back-up plan. Several people had recommended that I get a fauxhawk, but I didn’t really like the few fauxhawk pictures I saw. I was browsing through different hairstyles at Cool Men’s Hairstyles Pictures, trying to see which style I liked. I landed on Chris Pine’s page and really liked the 1st picture. It was simple, classy, and looked easy to maintain. Apparently that’s considered a fauxhawk, but a very small one. I guess I do like the fauxhawk then, but just a tiny one.

Sunday comes and I go for my appointment at 3:45pm. My stylist was going to be Jaden, but she was running a bit late. Then even a bit later. Every 10 minutes or so, the receptionist would come to me and apologize and asked if I wanted something to drink. I told her I was in no hurry and didn’t mind waiting. Around 4:15pm, the receptionist comes again and is very apologetic, saying my stylist should be ready soon and that my haircut would be 1/2 off. I believe my reply was “Awesome!”

Before continuing with the story, I just want to say how awesome Jaden (my stylist) was. I’ve gotten many haircuts before, but never had this much fun. The experience was simply amazing! So with that said, let’s continue with the story.

After getting seated, she asked what I was looking for today. I told her I had planned to cut my hair short and wanted to donate my hair. She wasn’t that familiar with the hair donation and found someone else who knew and she came back with with a form, a plastic baggy, and rubber bands. She tied my hair into 4 pony tails. Apparently my hair length was now 12-14″ long, more than enough to be donated. Before cutting them, she asked if I was ready. I go yep. *snip* *snip* *snip* *snip* There went 2+ years of hair growing. It was a bit sad, but a welcomed change. My head felt immediately lighter.

She asked me what style I was looking for. I said I wasn’t really sure, but I wanted something short and would like to hear her recommendations for me. She grabbed out a men’s hair styling book and flipped through a couple pages. Like my sister she also thought the fauxhawk would look good on me and that sold me. I mentioned I didn’t really want something too long in the middle, but a mini fauxhawk would be perfect and she understood completely. Half way through the haircut with the sides trimmed, I took this picture:

midway through haircut

Jaden said I should’ve taken a picture when I had the 4 ponytails. I should’ve, but now it’s too late. Unfortunately I don’t think there’ll be a next time.

The haircut was very relaxing. You know how sometimes when you get a haircut, the barber/stylist would be pulling and yanking your hair, sometimes to the point it hurts? This time I didn’t feel anything. It was as if snips of my hair were just dropping to the floor.

The conversations were even more awesome. I don’t know how barbers and stylists do it, but they can just get me to tell them anything. Or maybe it was because she was very pretty. Besides the normal chit chat of mother’s day, what I do, where I’m from, what I did this weekend, etc., we talked about tons of neat stuff. We talked about family and turns out we’re both the oldest of our siblings and how there were advantages and disadvantages to that. We then talked about how there’s nothing to do on the east side past like 10pm and would have to go into downtown Seattle. She did recommend a bar called Twisted and told me to avoid Pearl at all cost. Funny thing is it turns out she hates beer also. We also talked about where I’m living, why I chose there, and if I have pets. I did find out she lives in Seattle and has a fat chihuahua. We even got into if I was seeing any one, which led into the discussion of girl issues I had recently. She also kept telling me she was having so much fun cutting my hair, as this is the second time she’s got to cut someone’s long hair into very short.

I was extremely happy with the final outcome and will definitely be coming back. When paying, I wasn’t quite sure how much I should tip stylists, but going with the rule of thumb I use for restaurants, I tipped 20% of the original price. I hope that wasn’t too little.

Stress Relieving Lotion?

Aveeno Stress Relief Lotion I received a sample bottle of Aveeno’s moisturizing lotion today. Apparently lotions now come in “Stress Relief” varieties, as it “calms and relaxes”. Maybe it’s just me, but I found it amusing. Would’ve been nice if I had received this several weeks ago.

I wonder how it works… Is it like those caffeine soap bars where you absorb some sort of anti-stress medication through your skin?

More info: Aveeno Stress Relief Moisturizing Lotion

Anyway, I believe I have a 2-hour episode of 24 to watch. Ciao!