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!

Perry’s Birthday Celebration

Here’s my full set of pictures: Perry’s Birthday Celebration 2010. I believe Valerie also took some.

We celebrated Perry’s birthday today. We had dinner at Red Robin’s. By the time we got back to my place, I had realized I had forgotten to asked the waitress to take our picture, oh well.

At the end of dinner, Perry busted out his free Cold Stone coupon asking if anyone else was interested in getting ice cream. Sarah had secretly ordered a birthday cake for him and had planned for me to pick it up. Somehow it was suggested Perry could get his ice cream to go and save for later. No, no no, that was a bad idea. I was trying to decide what to do. Should I reveal we already have a Cold Stone cake for him? While Perry was about to order something, I tapped him on his back and said you should save the coupon for later. Perry goes, oh… I had wanted to pick up the cake in private and surprised him later, but it was too late now. I asked for the cake and Perry figured out it was Sarah who got it for him. Originally the cake was supposed to say “Happy Birthday Old Man” (it even says that on the order form), but it appears they just wrote “Happy Birthday Perry”.

We got back to my place. A couple decided to play a round of Settlers, while the rest of us busted out on Rock Band:

settlers rock band

Someone also busted out PGR3 sometime along the way. From what I hear, Chris dominated.

Here’s some other pictures I thought turned out pretty neat:

Phillip enjoying onion rings Valerie and Perry rock band PGR3 shrimp tempura hmmmm ying ying and valerie perry pointing

The ice cream cake from Cold Stone was really good. (Thanks Sarah!) It was a chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, but also had pineapple and coconut. Mmmmm. Unfortunately I realized last minute that I didn’t have candles, so Perry had to pretend to blow out imaginary candles. You can check out the video on Facebook: Happy Birthday Perry!

Perry's birthday cake Perry blowing out imaginary candles Perry cutting the cake A slice of the delicious cake

We had several extra slices that Perry was going to take home. Unfortunately my freezer was out of space, so it stayed in my fridge. By the time we left, this was what it looked like:

melted ice cream cake

We ended the night night with some 4 vs 4 Halo 3 (Perry, Sathana, Valerie, Chris vs Toland, Phillip, Saran, Tom – unfortunately Ying Ying couldn’t participate) . The teams were actually quite even and we found the winning factor to be which team was using the big screen TV. Playing 4 player Halo on a 24″ LCD just isn’t good enough.

My Pony Tail

For those who haven’t seen my pony tail, here it is:

pony tailpony tail

Xyon mentioned that I didn’t have any pictures of me with really short hair. I didn’t find one of me that was right after a haircut, but I did find the following on Facebook, which is one of the shortest that I could find. The picture following it is when it’s gotten very long (or as Xyon calls it Chia Pet mode):

short hairspiky hair

Somehow Picasa was able to dig up this random photo in my AIM logs. I can’t believe how skinny I used to be. And who’s that pretty girl standing next to me? (-_^x)

skinny during college

Time for New Hair Style?

As Xyon noted, before I decided to grow out my hair, I had a pattern of cutting my hair very short, then grow out like a Chia Pet. I guess one time I got too lazy and went beyond the Chia Pet phase and now I have long hair.

For the past few months, I’ve been thinking about cutting my hair short again. Cari and Steve first gave me an interesting idea back during Christmas break as they mentioned a friend of theirs recently donated their long hair. Then earlier this year, both Shanna and Angel also donated their hair. I think my hair is long enough for donation (read somewhere that it should be at least 10″). Growing my hair long merely became an experiment at some point. It’s become more of a hassle recently. The hassle I can deal with, but I was curious what other people think. Should I keep my hair long or cut it short?

I was trying to look for pictures of me progressing from short hair to long hair, but it turns out when you’re the photographer, you don’t really have too many pictures of yourself (or at least I don’t). I also haven’t been taking as many pictures as I did when I was back in high school/college. I did come up with this set: Face Shots. I’m sad to say that most of these pictures were taken by Bernabe at Jan Lyk’s Halloween party.

face shotface shotface shotface shotface shotface shotface shotface shotface shotface shotface shotface shotface shotface shotface shotface shot

face shotface shotface shotface shot

face shotface shot

face shot

Original pictures are also posted up at Random Toland Pictures.

I should probably get more side profile shots of me sporting my pony tail. Maybe I’ll do that later. So what do you guys think? Should I keep my long hair, switch back to short hair, or go for a completely new style?

What should I do with my hair?

View Results

Side note: While exercising on my elliptical the other day, I saw my shadow and thought… I could totally cosplay as Kenshin if I just died my hair red and bought myself a male hakama. Looking at this picture, it looks like I have a long way before I can have hair like that:

Throttle Module Malfunction

So late last week on my way into work, my engine light came on, and it scared the bejesus out of me. I pulled off into a side road and tried turning my car off and back on. Nope, engine light is still on. Reading the manual, it said I should drive moderately and get my car checked out as soon as possible. The car didn’t feel any different while driving, but I decided I’d have the service center take a look when I went in to get my timing belt replaced. However on Friday, the light suddenly turned off and I thought oh well, no longer need to rush.

On Monday morning, the light suddenly came back on and this time I was definitely feeling something was wrong with my car. It would rev a lot higher before switching to a higher gear. After I got into work, I started calling up AAA approved service centers that had Microsoft Prime discounts and asked them for a quote for my timing belt + water pump replacement. Most of them told me they’d call me back with a quote. Only 2 gave me a quote immediately. I decided I wanted the car looked at the same day and ended up going with Autohaus Vick, the cheaper one at $434 – 10% off.

I took my car in and told them that I’d also like them to take a look at why the engine light is on and described the issue I noticed this morning. They said they’d take a look and let me know what’s wrong.

I got a call in the afternoon and was told my engine’s throttle module had malfunction and needed to be replaced. Apparently this part is only carried by the dealer and costs $375. Ouch! Given I didn’t want to experience the weird revving issue and wanted my car fixed as soon as possible, I told them to go ahead and fix it too, but made sure that I could get my car back the same day. They told me they would be able to fix it by 4pm.

4pm comes around and I don’t receive a call. I called them up and they told me it’s taking them a bit longer than expected, and I most likely won’t get my car back until tomorrow morning. They agreed to give me a rental car for the night. Thanks to Chad for dropping me off. I ended up getting a Ford Focus at Hertz. Car was actually rather nice. Definitely had more toys in it than my Honda Civic.

I called them this morning and my car is ready. I had also previously asked them if they could take a look my suspension and what it’ll cost to fix/replace it. Apparently my left outer CV boot was leaking as well as my right rear shock. What does it mean to be leaking? Do shocks have liquid in them? Anyway, they quoted me ~$250 to replace it (which is $250 cheaper than the Honda Service Center). Probably going to let them fix it sometime later this month.

I also inquired about the throttle module and why it would malfunction. He said the throttle module is the computer that controls how fast the car goes and when to change gears and so on. That would explain why I was seeing the gear/revving issue. As to why it went bad, it’s electronics. Maybe it got too hot/cold?

So I’ve been driving my car around for a bit today and maybe the engine hasn’t gotten used to the new timing belt, or maybe it’s the new throttle module, but it feels my car is a bit less responsive. Hopefully I’ll get used to it soon enough.

Goal #1: Get Fit

This morning my physical therapist asked if I lost weight and indeed I have. It’s always nice when someone notices.

As some of you may already know, I had 3 goals to accomplish this year. You can call them new year resolutions if you’d like. I mentioned I would talk more about my 1st goal, which is to get fit. In order to work towards that abstract goal, I needed to set some measurable targets. I had come up with 2:

  • Get into the normal range for my BMI. At my height of 5’5″, that meant a weight of 150lbs to reach a BMI of 25.
  • Grow a 6-pack of abs (or 4, or 2, just not 1 giant round tummy)

I started out this year with a maximum weight of 168lbs, which puts my BMI at 28 (inside the overweight range). I remained around 163-165lbs for quite awhile until the middle of February when everything in my world got turned upside down. If you followed me on twitter, you would’ve seen my tweet about hitting 149.4lbs this morning, putting my BMI at 24.9 and into the normal range. Milestone 1 reached!

Not quite sure how long it’ll take to reach milestone 2. My stomach is already starting to get flat, and depending on how I flex my body, I can start seeing muscles in my abdominal area. Hopefully not too long. Did I mention that medium sized t-shirts fit me again? It also appears I need to wear a belt now, or else my pants start falling.


As for my exercise regiment, I would say most of the weight-loss was due to running on the elliptical. I run 2 miles on it everyday which comes out to about ~45 minutes, which is perfect for a TV episode or 2 anime episodes. If a Netflix movie comes in, I watch that instead. Update: One thing I forgot to mention is that my elliptical claims I burn ~850 calories at the end of each session. Not entirely sure how accurate that is.

I’ve also been doing weight training every other day. I would do it everyday, but Xyon tells me my muscles need to rest for like 40 hours between rigorous exercises. My workout includes sit-ups, crunches, push-ups, pull-ups, curls, and a series of other weight lifting exercises I do not know the names of. I’m not exactly sure what doing sit-ups on an exercise ball is called, but I’ve gone up to 2 sets of 50. Recently I added a 10lb weight to that since losing weight has made doing those a lot easier.

Of course once in awhile I do miss a day of exercising, but I try my best not to. If I had to guess, I would say I miss about 1 day every 2 weeks.


I haven’t really changed what I eat (food is just too awesome to give up), but I have changed my eating habit, which I think came out from laziness. For lunch on most days, I usually have cereal, Special K to be exact. I discovered Special K sometime near the end of last year and loved it, though recently it’s gotten a bit boring. I’ve gone through 6 or 7 Costco twin packs since the beginning of this year. I guess I can attribute it to the fact that I’m too lazy to walk down to the cafeteria for food. It’s a good thing work provides milk, bowls, and spoons. 🙂

Another thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve been eating smaller portions, but not on purpose. Sticking any more food into my stomach would hurt. Maybe my stomach shrank?

Time for a New Car?

With the recent issues found in my current car, my dad’s been suggesting that I might want to purchase a new car instead of investing $1k into repairing a car which currently has a ~$6k resale value. Plus he says the sales tax would definitely help me with taxes for the year 2010 and if I purchase a hybrid, I may even save more.

That got me start thinking about getting a new car. I’ve had my current 2001 Honda Civic EX since high school and it’s still going great, still giving me ~28MPG, but it’ll turn 10 years old this Thanksgiving. Kelley’s Blue Book says I can trade-in my car for ~$6000. However, a bunch of stuff is going on right now in my life and I haven’t really even decided what type of car I want yet.

After speaking with Derek, I decided I’d probably fix up Civic for now and somewhere down 2010, purchase a new car. As for fixing my Civic, instead of going to the dealer, I’ll be getting quotes from other auto shops around town. @rothgar gave a really good suggestion about checking out AAA certified auto shops. There also appears to be a good list on Microsoft Prime.

So Derek and I were brainstorming ideas of what my next car should be. I decided I’d be willing to spend between $30-50k (funny that I actually have just over that in liquid assets). On an unrelated note, Dad also said I should probably open a HELOC and start borrowing money to accrue interest for 2010 tax purposes.

I’ve always been a big fan of the BMW M3 since vonlobster introduced it to me back in college, but that might be out of my price range. Derek also says that the M3 is a harsh ride where you can feel every acceleration, corner turn, roaring engine, etc., and wasn’t sure if I’d be a fan of that. He also suggested if I was interested in an M3, to purchased it used would be his recommendation, like what he did.

I was initially thinking of a BMW or an Audi, but Derek’s been scaring me with high maintenance costs for BMW and Audi cars (i.e. oil change for the M3 is $250 because it uses special motor oil). The Audi A4 and A5 are looking beautiful. Derek also suggested that I may be interested in the BMW 335 or 135, which look sweet also.

I may also consider getting an Acura or Lexus. For some reason none of the current Acura car line-up looks that great. Maybe I just don’t like the way the front looks. On the Lexus side, the IS looks really nice.

Probably need to get together with Derek someday to talk more about cars.

Update: The more and more I compare, I’m starting to really dig the Audi A4.