Read these 2 really interesting articles on The Economist:

I originally thought these articles were about China’s one-child policy. It does touch upon that and the policy definitely exacerbates the issue. However, the abnormally higher male-borns to female-borns ratio is also seen in economically-rich and developed countries such as South Korea and Taiwan. The main reason attributed is the “son preference” of many eastern cultures: the fact that the son is seen as continuing your legacy and the daughter is seen as given away when she’s married.

As a Hindu saying puts it, “Raising a daughter is like watering your neighbours’ garden.”

Another interesting note mentioned is that it’s not the one-child policy but rather the relaxation of it that is causing this abnormal upsurge of male-borns in China. Their example uses Guangdong (where my parents are from and apparently China’s most populous province, something I didn’t know). Their ratio is 120 boys to 100 girls, while the natural average is closer to 103-106. However, they did a comparison of ratios between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-borns:

  • 1st born: 108 boys to 100 girls
  • 2nd born: 146 boys to 100 girls
  • 3rd born: 167 boys to 100 girls

唔該 vs 多謝

So I was taught the difference between 唔該 (m goi) vs 多謝 (do ze) today. Both of these are used in Cantonese dialog and hardly used in text.

Both of these mean thank you and personally I’ve always used them interchangeably, but was taught the difference between them today. Apparently if money is ever involved, you should use 多謝. 唔該 is usually reserved for something small, like assistance provided. I asked if there’s ever a situation where you can use 唔該, but not 多謝. They agreed that 多謝 can be typically used wherever 唔該 is accepted, but not the other way around. So when I said 唔該 after getting treated to dinner, it was used incorrectly. I should have used 多謝.

I asked them how to write 唔該, since my Cantonese dialog to text is weak. Usually I ask my father these questions. Like the other day, I asked him how to write poke a hole. In text/Mandarin (the Chinese I learnt), it’s completely different. I forget why I asked him how to write poke a hole, but it’s 篤個窿 (duk go lung). Speaking of which, CantoDict is an awesome Cantonese Dictionary if you’re ever interested in learning Cantonese.

After seeing the kanji, I began breaking the word apart. First, 多謝 means many thanks. 唔 means not and 該 means should. In other words, 唔該 means you shouldn’t have, which I guess can be interpreted as thank you. I’ve been using this phrase for who knows how long and it’s the first time I realized the meaning. Chinese is so fun sometimes!

Update: Thanks to superekin for providing an extra point of view. He said to think of 唔該 as どうも (doumo) and 多謝 as ありがとうございます (arigatougozaimasu).

Wrong Restroom and $500 of Repairs Required for My Car

Today I went to get my Honda Civic serviced. There was a recall noticed and they needed to replace my airbag. I actually received this notice some time last year, just never really got around to acting on it. Anyway, the service was going to take 4 hours, so I decided to drop by Factoria mall and hang around there. Turns out there’s really not much to do there or I just suck at shopping.

I got Jamba Juice for lunch; went to Big 5 and purchased some knee pads; even went to Target and purchased some workout gloves (I was getting blisters from lifting weights). With that all said and done, I had only spent an hour so far. 3 more to kill.

Anyway, when I was about to leave the main Factoria mall and try other stores on that street, I needed to use the restroom. Found the restrooms on their map and went for it. I was sure I saw the men’s sign before entering the restroom, but once opening the door I noticed something strange. There were only stalls, no urinals. I stepped back outside and looked at the sign again. Turns out I entered the women’s restroom. %$#@! Good thing no one was around or outside the stalls. I quickly left and went further down and found the men’s restroom.

I walked around some more. Turns out they were selling girl scout cookies in front of QFC, so I purchased 2 boxes of thin mints. I felt bad that I didn’t have $8 and needed them to break a $50, but all in all, I now have 2 boxes of thin mints in my freezer.

Anyway, walking around aimlessly for 1 more hour, I explored all of Factoria and found many stores/restaurants I never knew existed. But even then I still had 2 hours to kill. I thought next time this happens I should bring a laptop and find a coffee shop. I found a plaza across from Factoria that had 2 Star Bucks, literally ~10 stores apart. I would’ve expected that in a major downtown city, but Factoria? I ended up playing games on my cell phone to kill another hour.

For the last hour, hoping they would be done early as I’ve got to be somewhere later tonight, I walked back and sat in the customer lounge. My car was ready around 1:45pm, but there was some bad news. Apparently they found tears in my suspension as well as tears in some boot. Cost to fix is ~$500. He also suggested with my car’s age, I should probably consider getting my timing belt replaced (usually every 7 years or 110,000 miles, whichever comes first; my car is 10 years old, but has less than 70k miles on it). He said that would cost around $500-700 depending on the package I select. I scheduled an appointment for Tuesday to get all this stuff done.

Renewing My Passport

My passport expired awhile back, and I’ve been meaning to get it renewed. Turns out if you meet certain requirements, you can renew your passport over the mail.

  • At least 16 years old when you got your last passport issued – Turns out I was 16 and change
  • Within 15 years since you got your last passport issued – It’s only been a little over 10 years. I did find it weird that unlike driver’s license which expire on your birthday, passport’s actually expire from when they’re issued.
  • a couple other requirements which I met

I needed to get some passport photos. Xyon had mentioned that he got his from Kinkos. I started searching and calling the Kinkos around me. The one in Factoria apparently doesn’t do passport photos, but the one in downtown Bellevue did. It also turns out that location is open 24 hours. Another interesting fact is that FedEx is apparently dropping the Kinkos brand. Both the website and the automated phone system say “Formerly FedEx Kinkos now known as FedEx Office”. The passport photos were a bit more expensive than I had anticipated ($13 for 2), but saves me the hassle from taking my own and having to get them to the correct size.

Since I got up at 11am on Saturday (it’s surprising how much more time there is on a weekend when you wake up early), I finished my shopping and stuff around noon. Since I was in the neighborhood, I wanted to see if Chad was up for lunch. Turns out I don’t have Chad’s cell number. Haha, oh well, missed opportunity. That issue has since be remedied.

The cost for renewal was $75 and they only accepted checks and money orders. Had to bust out my checkbook. It’s been so long since I wrote a check.

It sucks that I have to send in my expired passport for this renewal. It has so many cool stamps! I contemplated on stating I lost it or that the passport is damaged, but I think it required me to fill out another form or having to go apply in person.

I guess I haven’t really changed that much in 10 years, though I definitely looked a lot more nerdier back then ;p

old passport photo new passport photo

It’s Friday and I’m Sad

Just a few weeks ago, I was content with life. Things couldn’t have gone much better. But humans are greedy and when once you realized there’s an emptiness, there’s no going back. I’ve been trying to find something to fill that emptiness, but have not had much luck. It’s Friday and I’m sad.

Have you realized how colorless the world can be sometimes? How TV shows and movies you usually enjoy seem boring? How time moves ever so slowly? How exercising doesn’t seem to make you tired anymore? How 5 minutes into video game and you just want to shut off your console? The only thing that seems to make me feel anything anymore is rewatching my favorite movies and animes, ones that pack a lot of emotional punch. I have to say The Twelve Kingdoms and Rurouni Kenshin has kept me sane for the past week, but even those are slowly losing their power.

Update: I don’t know how mom’s do it, but my day (or night) is 100x brighter. Thank you. 🙂

Snowboarding at Snoqualmie Summit

I’ve always told people to not visit me during winter as there’s nothing to do here besides sit in and watch TV, but I can now tell you that with Snoqaulmie Summit only 40 mins away, if you enjoy snowboarding and skiing, it’s definitely something worth considering.

I was invited to go snowboarding with some colleagues of mine earlier this week. I haven’t had a chance this season to go snowboarding and was very excited. I couldn’t find my previous pair of snowboarding pants (think I left it back at my parents’ place), so I had to go to Rei to purchase a new pair. Snowboarding pants are so expensive! Even the one I got that was on “clearance” was $80. Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve, waited for a deal online, but I really needed this snowboarding trip.

I got everything ready last night:

  • jacket
  • pants
  • gloves
  • beanie
  • sunglasses

I went to bed early (10pm – if you know me you should start really worrying). I wasn’t feeling well and even declined to go out with some coworkers for dinner last night. My head was hurting (been wanting to bash it all day to stop the pain – banging it slightly against my desk didn’t help much). Anyway I also wanted to get enough sleep for tomorrow’s activity since we were leaving at 8am, which meant I had to get up at 7am. Apparently the sand man decided not to pay me a visit last night until it was ~4am. I realized whenever I try to fall asleep, the sound and thumps of my heart beating prevented me to catch any shuteye. I tried to sleep on a different bed, try sleeping in front of the TV, all failed attempts. Eventually I gave up and who knows when I really fell asleep, but I woke up to my alarm blaring at 7am.

I drove over to Rafael’s house as we were going to carpool. We reached the Snoqualmie Summit about 8:50am (park opens at 9am). Rented my stuff and did a couple runs, then met up with Andrew, Jessica, Jaideep, and Pallavi. Apparently I was the only one snowboarding and everyone else was skiing.

Today was HOT! I mean the sun was blaring and even with just a t-shirt + jacket, I was sweating the lie crazy. After several runs, Andrew, Rafael and I went back to the car to dump off some clothes. I was planning to just wear my t-shirt, but then noticed my lift ticket was attached to my jacket. Arggggh. I did take off the beanie. Afterwards I decided to snowboard with my jacket unzipped to catch the breeze, which turned out to be a great idea.

I tried to follow Dave’s (my carving instructor from last year) instructions, managed to go down half the hill with only 1 foot forward, then fell pretty bad. Knee first, followed by 2 flips. After attempting it several more times, and falling forward (not as bad as my 1st fall), I decided that I definitely need knee pads before trying to continue learning to carve. I have no issues falling on my butt, as there’s cushion there, but falling on your knees and wrists hurts really bad, especially after a few falls. Afterwards, I’ve just been seeing how far I can go down the hill without slowing down and changing direction.

Another thing I noticed is that my legs don’t get as tired anymore. Previously I would have to apply a lot of pressure to stop or slow down, but now it’s like stepping on the brakes in my car (okay I may have exaggerated a bit there). I wonder if I’m just getting better or maybe all that exercise on the elliptical has helped.

Rafael had to leave early and given that I also “hoped” to have plans tonight, I left with him around 2pm. Time sure flies when you’re having fun. For the first time this week, my mind was clear and I was actually enjoying myself.

Toland posing with snowboard at Snoqualmie Summit

I’ve applied Bengay to all my sore spots. Hopefully it won’t be too bad tomorrow. 🙂

Speaking of which, while applying Bengay, I remember a newbie mistake I made a long time ago. Never apply Bengay close to your private area. oooooh! It BURNS!


If you’re wondering why I’m up, at work, and posting a blog entry for the 1st time in so long, it’s because for the 1st time in ages, I wasn’t able to fall asleep. I went to bed at 4am, twisted and turned for 3 hours and finally gave up. I woke up, watched the latest episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, scanned through some old favorite movie clips, took a shower, and headed to work. %$#@! I forgot to turn off my alarm clock, which is set for 10am cause I had a PT appointment at 11.

Anyway, there are several reasons I can think of that may be the cause of this.

I was using the elliptical pretty much before going to bed. I’ve occasionally exercised right before bed, and never really had this issue. If anything, exercise would make me more tired. Though throughout the night, I did feel pain in my calves. Did I overwork my legs w/o knowing it? I also dropped below 160lbs for the 1st time in 6 months. I clocked in this morning at 158.6lbs.

I drank a full bottle of Lipton diet citrus green tea during exercise (so right before bed). I believe it has caffeine, but tea has never really caused me to be unable to fall asleep. It did cause me to use the bathroom twice in the middle of the night. Though I’m pretty sure if I fell asleep, that trip could’ve waited till morning.

I was hungry? I highly doubt this as I was stuff tonight with food, but my stomach was growling non-stop. Maybe I ate something bad, but my stomach isn’t really hurting, just growling, but not feeling hungry? What the %$#@ does that mean?

Nervousness. I met … for the first time tonight. Well 2nd time, but 1st time I got her name. %$#@! I’m going to screw this up.

Downy Pudding

So I was doing laundry this past weekend and when I went to pour Downy liquid fabric softener into my Downy ball, it had clumped together and came out in thick lumps, like pudding. Obviously something was wrong, I tried shaking it and tried pouring again, but didn’t seem do to anything. I was thinking about adding water to dilute it, but after reading the back, it said to never to dilute it with water.

Not knowing what happened or how to fix this (I still had about ~25% of the bottle left), I shot Downy customer support a email. Meanwhile, I opened a new bottle I had picked up from Costco.

Today I got an email reply:

Thanks for contacting Downy.

Our goal is to produce high quality Downy products that consistently delight our consumers and I’m sorry this wasn’t your experience, as it was thick. When storing the Downy April Fresh it can become thick or lumpy when exposed to extreme temperatures (either hot or cold). If it was frozen, it will appear much thicker (gel-like) and won’t return to normal consistency on its own. Best suggestion for storing the product is to store it at room temperature – in a cool, dry place and use it within one year. Please be assured I’m sharing your comments with the rest of our team.

Since your satisfaction means a great deal to us, I’m sending a replacement coupon by postal mail. You should receive my letter within the next 2-3 weeks.

Thanks again for writing.

Downy Team

Thinking back, the last time I did laundry before seeing this was probably mid December, right before I left for vacation. I did leave my thermostat at 50F, but maybe it got really cold? It probably has also been over a year since I started using that bottle of Downy liquid fabric softener. Living alone and doing laundry every 3 weeks means detergents lasts for quite a long time. Maybe Downy has an expiration date.

Anyway, it’s awesome they’re sending me a replacement coupon.

No, I did not try to eat Downy Pudding, but I did check to see if it was flammable. Unfortunately not. Would’ve been fun. ;p

Roadtrip from Texas to California

I visited my younger brother in Texas and then the whole family took a road trip from Texas back to LA. Just wanted to talk about this before I forget all the tiny details.

If you may have noticed, I recently updated my Facebook profile picture. I decided it was time since I’ve gotten fatter since then + now I have longer hair. I also switched to contacts, but wearing sunglasses doesn’t really show that. One thing you might not have noticed is that what I’m snowboarding on isn’t snow, but sand. These are the sand dunes at White Sands, New Mexico.

Anyway, let’s start from the beginning. My brother is currently working at Schlumberger (pronounced schlum-ber-jay). If you’ve heard of it, you’ll know how big it is. If not, you can easily do a search. Anyway, we hung out in Laredo, TX for a few days and you might’ve read about my experience with getting drunk.

Our next stop was San Antonio where we checked out the River Walk (very beautiful during the Christmas season). We also went up the Tower of the Americas and checked out the city. Apparently San Antonio is like the 7th largest city in the USA. We also visited the Alamo and got a refresh in Texan history. On the day we left, we checked out the Japanese Tea Garden which was very beautiful.

I took this really neat picture of a stork and turtle ignoring each other, as if they were giving each other the silent treatment.

Next, we went to Austin and my brother showed us the state capital building. It’s funny how I’ve never been to either New York’s, California’s, nor Washington’s capital, but I’ve now been to Texas’ capital. Apparently there’s also a bridge where tons of bats would come flying out from underneath when dusk hits, but we we weren’t in the right season for that, as the bats have migrated.

Next, we went to Carlsbad, New Mexico to check out the Carlsbad Caverns. The cave was really big and very pretty. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. My brother made me take this picture because it reminded him of *cough*:

Our next stop was White Sands where they had these really cool sand dunes right next to a missile testing site. They had sleds you can rent for $10 which we found ridiculously expensive, given that the entrance fee per person was only $3. Good thinking on my brother’s part as he busted out his snowboard:

I also drew a Krunk on top of one of the dunes (not really that great of a picture since I couldn’t get a good angle):

We were originally planning to check out Phoenix, Arizona, but decided we didn’t really know much about the city and no one had anything particular they wanted to see, so we only stopped in for dinner and continued our drive home.