Decrease of Negative Percentage

It’s been awhile since I had an official blog post and I’ve been meaning to blog about my new Zune HD and my new contacts and maybe even purchases I made on Black Friday, but life’s been busy.

Also I hurt my shoulder from lifting weights, which puts a dud in doing any arm related exercises (meaning no push ups, no pull ups, etc.) Though after several physical therapy sessions, I have to say my shoulder’s doing much better. Well, it doesn’t hurt anymore when I turn my head.

I’ll end this blog post with a letter I received from Allied Waste Services (my garbage collection service):

Dear Residential Customer,

Effective January 1, 2010, the rates for recycling, yard debris, and garbage collection services will decrease approximately -1.85% to -2.07% depending on your level of garbage service. A typical residential customer will pay $17.28 per month for 32 gallon toter service in 2010, a decrease of -1.98% over the current rate of $17.63. This decrease covers normal inflationary operating costs experienced in the provision of service. Inflation in the Seattle Metropolitan area was -0.7% between June 2008 and June 2009.


I believe I’m on the 20 gallon toter service where I’m paying ~$14.xx / month. Anyway, I think their letter template was never tested with a decrease in pricing as you’ll notice they say decrease of a negative percentage throughout the letter. In fact, what they really mean is a decrease of a positive percentage OR an increase of a negative percentage. Decrease of a negative percentage like a double negative, just negates the change.

Can Carol Be A Male Name?

So as I was watching the new Where The Wild Things Are HD clips, I noticed the main monster was named Carol. I’m pretty sure the monster’s a guy, so that prompted me to wonder if Carol can be a guy’s name also. When I was playing Tales of Vesperia, the little brat was named Karol, which also got me wondering.

After discussing with Ungsunghero, I arrived at this Wikipedia page: Carl (name). Apparently there’s a whole slew of names that derive off of Carl (i.e. Charles). Apparently Carol is a male name in Romanian and a female name in English. Karol is a male name in Polish/Slovak.

Ungsunghero then brought up the question why Peg is short for Margaret. This was the first time I heard of that and asked if Peg Bundy’s real name is Margaret. Apparently her mom calls her Margaret. I countered with if it’s really that much off compared to Dick == Richard. Looking up in Wikipedia, there’s a whole slew of diminutive form for Margaret (i.e. Maggie, Madge, Marge, Meg, Megan, Rita, Daisy, Greta, Gretchen, Magee, Marg, Meggie and Peggy).

When I showed this to Ungsunghero, Daisy being in that list blew his mind. After searching a bit, I found this page: Why is Peggy the nickname for Margaret? In it, it explains how Daisy came about:

Regarding the question about how Peggy derived from Margaret, you showed some astonishment that Daisy derived from Margaret. It is, in fact, the origin of the name. La marguerite is French for daisy. Daisy historically (until this century) has been a common diminutive of Margaret, and in the fifteenth century Marguerite d’Anjou, wife of England’s Henry VI, used the daisy as her personal symbol.

Following how names come about is always fun and interesting.

I ♥ Kirkland Signature

I ♥ Kirkland Signature!

From this month’s Costco Connection:

With Kirkland Signature, Costco can:

  • Develop popular items with wide appeal to expand sales volume
  • Control the quality of the product
  • Drive down prices on national brands
  • Control the packaging
  • Achieve pallet efficiencies.

– Jim Sinegal, Costco CEO

The working rule followed by Costco buyers is that all Kirkland Signature products must be equal to or better than the national brands, and must offer a savings to our members.” – Dick DiCerchi, Costco COO

In the traditional marketplace, brands are build over the years with expensive advertising campaigns built around cornerstone produts. In contrast, the Kirkland Signature brand has grown by this formula: Offer high-quality products at great prices, and let the members decide. – Tim Talevich

Weird Dream…

Had the weirdest dream last night and can’t believe I still remember this bit.

I believe I was back in LA, hanging out with Darryl and friends. I forget what happened before, but we ended up going to get dessert at some place called Chocolate Pink and I thought to myself, “Oooh, they have one in LA too!” After going in, I was a bit disappointed as it was nothing like Chocolate Pink in Atlanta, Georgia. I now forget what it reminded me of, but it was definitely a different style of dessert shop. Anyway, we sat there, chilled, hung out, drank boba, and tried samples. Before leaving, I decided to pick up something for my mom.

Upon leaving, we find that Darryl’s car had been broken into (window shattered). The next part isn’t quite logical as it turns out my wallet and phone had fallen out of my pocket in his car, and the thief that broke in must’ve saw it. Doesn’t quite explain how I paid my bill at the dessert shop.

Anyway, a bunch of stuff runs through my head. Feeling bad I caused Darryl’s car to be broken into; having to cancel my credit cards; trying to remember how much cash I had in my wallet; remember that I have a emergency $100 bill stuck in there somewhere; having to call Microsoft notifying I lost my smart card; etc.

I don’t quite remember what happened afterwards, but when I woke up, I went to make sure my wallet was still there. I wonder what to make of this dream…

Speaking of dessert, you’ve got to try out the ice cream at Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream if you’re ever in Seattle. The night we went, we actually waited in line for about 40 minutes or so, but it was super yummy. I presume the Capital Hill location would be larger and faster.

Trip to Atlanta, GA

So this labor day weekend, I finally went to visit Liam and Denise in Atlanta, GA. I’ve been meaning to visit them for years, but just never really got my act together. However, I decided I really needed a break from work and labor day turned out to be a good weekend to visit them.

My flight was at 7am, which meant I had to leave for the airport at 5am, my usual bed time. The trip was pretty smooth, but I had a hard time falling asleep. The ATL airport was HUGE. It literally took 30 minutes after landing to get to the gate. Even on the way back, it took about the same time after departing the gate to lift off. Compare this to the 5 minute from landing to gate in SEATAC. I don’t even remember LAX being that long. I later found out that ATL airport is one of the largest if not the largest airport in the United States. According to Wikipedia, it was ranked the busiest airport in the world.

After exiting the security gates, I finally met Liam and Denise. First day in Atlanta was pretty much settling down and checking out the city. They have this really neat condo with a rather great view. They took me to an awesome dessert place called Chocolate Pink which had awesome cakes and pastries. Apparently the chocolate is the awesome part, not so much the pink. ;p

Saturday, we want to check out the Georgia Aquarium, known as the largest aquarium in the world. It was pretty awesome. One of their tanks is as long as a football field (from end zone to end zone). They had some giant whale sharks which were really cool. I love sitting in the dimly light room in front of the giant glass display. It’s just so calm and soothing.

I didn’t really plan my trip to coincide with Dragon*Con 2009, but it just happened that way, and it was something else we checked out. We decided Sunday would be the best day to go. On previous nights, we worked on our costumes. Denise came up with the idea of dressing as MNU (Multi-National United) employees from District 9. I personally haven’t seen the movie yet, but was planning on it. I think our costumes turned out great in the end:

dragon-con 2009 - district 9 - mnu cosplay 1dragon-con 2009 - district 9 - mnu cosplay 2dragon-con 2009 - district 9 - mnu cosplay 3
(Photos courtesy of Denise)

At Dragon*Con, I got to hear Leonard Nimoy speak. Bill Shatner even showed up at the latter half of the panel. Later, there was a Q&A with Patrick Stewart. Hearing that guy speak is always a treat. It was very similar to An Evening with Kevin Smith, but way too short. Then I got to check out some really cool cosplays and ended my night at the Mad Scientist party where they were playing music via Tesla coils, while having someone stuck inside a Faraday cage. It was really neat!


[Please visit blog post to view streaming video]

I apologize as I didn’t take that many photos, but whatever I took can be found at my Dragon*Con 2009 PhotoSleeve album.

On my last day, we had lunch at Chick-fil-A. Apparently Chick-fil-A is pronounced with a long A instead of a short A. I’ve heard of Chick-fil-(long A) before and always thought it was spelled Chick-Fillet and was different from Chick-Fila. Then they took me to Stone Mountain where we checked out some plantation, hung out on the top of the mountain, and played some mini golf. Before my flight, they took me to a barbecue joint, which is a must to complete my Georgia experience. I’ve got to say, the barbecue was excellent.

I got to try grits for the first time, and it was pretty good. I also learnt 2 new veggies on my trip: okras and collared greens.

The flight home was pretty uneventful. Wasn’t sleepy, so I caught up on some anime. Though when the flight attendant was going over the safety instructions, I heard, “No smacking is allowed on this flight. … Tampering with the smoke detector in the lavatory is a federal offense…” I’m not sure if I misheard or if that was a Southern accent, but I found it amusing.

Car Trouble – Dead Battery

Wow, it’s been awhile since my last real blog post.

So on Friday, I hit into some car problems. As you may have guessed from the title, I had a dead battery. It was a rather interesting ordeal and I definitely had a very unexpected day.

As I was leaving for work around noon, my car would not start. When I try to start the ignition, it would flutter/click a lot. I’ve experienced dead car batteries before and know the sound they make when you try to start your ignition. It sounds like it’s trying to start, drag on, but would finally die and retry. This was a very different sound, but I really had nothing else to go on. The radio/lights still worked, but that doesn’t really mean anything. I had a car battery jump starter, but unfortunately it had been sitting in my garage for some time and was fully drained and needed to be recharged. While it was recharging, the thought of using AAA popped into my head. I wasn’t sure if they covered jump starting cars, but if they did, it’ll probably be faster for them to come and jump start my car than to wait to for my jump starter to recharge. And if it’s not the battery, I could probably have them tow my car to a servicing center.

I looked on the website and it did indeed have this service. I pulled out my AAA card and noticed it expired on 2/28/2009. Thinking to myself, “Crap, did I forget to pay? Did my credit card on file expire?” I checked my account status online and it appears that I am still an active member. I guess I must’ve misplaced my newest card. Conveniently, I was able to submit the request online and it said it’ll take about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, I had a meeting at 2pm which I sort of needed to attend. I sent an email to work notifying them of my car problems and was hoping I’d still be able to make it in time, but worse case, I’ll probably call into the meeting from home.

I tried to start up my car a few more times to see maybe if I’d get lucky. That’s when I noticed the flashing green key on my dashboard. I looked up the manual and it said that the flashing green key meant the immobilizer system was activated. To quickly explain the immobilizer system, Honda and other car manufactures are putting computer chips into the keys, so only a legit key can start the car. I thought maybe I damaged the key chip in some way, ran up stairs to get my 2nd set of car keys, but that didn’t start the car either. I even tried the valet key (key that can start the car, but can’t open the trunk), but no luck. I decided to call Bellevue Honda, but while I was on hold waiting for a service tech, my AAA guy showed up.

Apparently I got sent a giant tow truck (one with those flat beds where the whole car goes onto the back). I’m surprised he actually managed to weave his way through my complex. I mentioned that it might not be a dead battery as the starting sound was weird and may actually need to be towed to a servicing center. He said, let’s give it a shot first and pulled out a super long jumper cables and connected one end to his giant tow truck and the other end to my car battery. I turned the key and VROOOOM, my engine roared. So it was indeed a dead battery. My only explanation for the flashing green key/immobilizer system is that the immobilizer system needs electricity to verify the computer chip and when there wasn’t enough to start the engine, it presumed I had a bad key and stopped it short before even trying to start the engine, creating the clicking/fluttering noises I heard.

The tow truck guy told me to leave the car running for 30 minutes before turning it off so it can charge my battery. I asked him if I could drive it and he said that’d be even better. I thank him and he left. After he left, the thought of tipping him popped into my head. Since this was my first time dealing with AAA for car related issues, I’m not sure if I was actually suppose to tip in that situation or not. But oh well, it was too late to do anything anymore.

I left for work pretty much soon after. I took along my car jump starter (75% charged at this point) with me just in case. I phoned Jan Lyk to let him know that I’ll be a bit late to the meeting and was wondering if he could take point until I got there.

So yada yada yada… no it’s not the end of the story quite yet.

Anand (my former lead) was having his moving to a new team party and I got out of my meeting a bit late, so I missed the car pooling. When I got to my car and tried to start it, I encountered the same issue this morning. I pull out my jump starter and barely managed to jump start the car in the parking garage. The question now was do I go to the farewell party or do I go to Sears (where I bought the car battery from) and have it looked at. After some contemplation, I decided to get the car battery looked at first and if there was still time, I’d join the party.

I got to Sears and parked. I thought about leaving my engine running, but thought worse case scenario, Sears auto center probably can jump start it for me. I was then told to drive my car into the Sears auto servicing center. It took a few tries to get my car started again and the tech started diagnosing the battery. Since I wasn’t originally planning to have my battery replaced this morning, I didn’t have my Sears battery receipt on me. I only hoped they still had me in their system. The tech told me my battery was completely dead, but the alternator was working fine, so I began the process of getting the battery replaced.

I knew I only had my battery for 2-3 years and they were able to find me in their system. Apparently I had it for 3 years and 2 months, 2 months over the free replacement warranty period. I was now on the pro-rated warranty period which reduced the battery price from $90 to $30. Still good I guess, though I was really shocked that their best battery (DieHard Gold series) would die so quickly. The battery replacement would take about 45 minutes and I went into Sears to watch Ratatouille in the mean time.

When it was done, it was already close to 6pm and too late to join the party. I went back to work since I had to leave around 7:15 to meet some friends for dinner and games.

All in all, as I mentioned earlier, it was definitely an interesting and unexpected day.

Major Fail for Virgin America Today

My first experience with Virgin America has been riddled with problems (Flight VX796 – SEA to LAX). I can’t really blame them since these were technical difficulties. The plane that was suppose to fly in from San Francisco had a hydrolic pump failure. My flight was supposed to leave at 8:55pm. I got there at 8:15pm, only to find that it had been delayed to 11:30pm. Unsure if I read the time correctly, I went up to their counter and confirmed that there was indeed a problem and it was then they told me that there was problem with the plane, but it was now leaving (at 8:25pm) and should arrive around 11pm.

I walked past the security check point and noticed that my new gate was now S8. Apparently SeaTac airport has a north and south terminal which aren’t connected to the main terminal and requires taking a train/subway to. I get to S8 and no one’s at the gate. I look at the big board again and now there’s no gate associated to my flight.

My only choice appears to return back to the main terminal. So I take the train/subway back and go to A6 (gate noted on my boarding pass). Apparently that’s where all the disgruntled customers have begun to gather. I went to the counter and asked for an update on the status and if was possible to move to a different flight. They told me they don’t have any more flights to LAX today and all their competitors’ flights are already full. The apologized again. They were however giving out meal vouchers ($10) which was a nice gesture.

Virgin American 4 Hour Delay At this point in time, another lady at the counter got off the phone with operations. Apparently the plane that was about to take off earlier was called back again for maintenance. The current take off time appeared to be ~9:45pm and our take off time was postponed to 12:20am.

Sigh… I get my meal voucher and ended up going to Star Bucks for a mocha frappaucino + chocolate chip loaf cake. I wasn’t really hungry + my mom was saving food for me at home.

I contemplated on paying $8 for wireless internet at SeaTac. In the end I decided it wasn’t worth it. It was a good thing that I had put Google in offline reading mode (via Google Gears) before I left work, so now I had all my RSS feeds which I hadn’t had time to read in the past few days to pass some time with.

However without an internet connection, the only things I really could read were news articles and text, since images/video/links won’t be able to load. It’d be nice if Google Reader would download all images too when it’s going into offline mode.

Anyway, I quickly ran out of things to read, and I started doodling on my Tablet. I haven’t installed any drawing programs since I installed Win7 RC, so Paint was my only option. I’ve got to say that the new Paint for Win7 is much superior to the XP version . Maybe Vista already has this, but I haven’t really ever tried it on Vista. The brush feature was definitely a nice add on. Here’s a few of the doodles I did:

BaitFishingBoutBooger 1Booger 2SceneryPeaceNinjaMarioHelloFluffySunny Turtle

One feedback I have for MS Paint is that if I use my eraser (back end of tablet pen), it should switch to erasing automatically.

While I in the middle of doodling, there was another announcement with “good” news and “bad” news. Of course they gave the good news first and told us they had acquired another plane. The bad news was it was just landing in SF and but would take off as soon as possible. The new expected departure time was once again pushed back, this time to 12:50am. I started to feel really bad for my parents who were going to come pick me up. Initially I was supposed to arrive around 11:30pm. Now I’m arriving about 3:30am.

Some time later, there was another announcement. Apparently we’d be compensated. I believe it was a $50 credit for a future flight and details would be sent to us at a later date. A much better gesture than the $10 meal voucher, but still doesn’t make the experience much better.

The plane finally arrives and we board around 1:00am and we soon take off. Upon boarding the plane, it was like a dance club, with neon purple lighting. Pretty cool atmosphere. I love their safety video and found it to be very fun. I wonder why Jet Blue doesn’t use their LCDs to show their safety presentation. Or do they? I forget.

I’ve been playing with their Red (interactive system). TV selection is pretty limited. I believe Jet Blue had more TV channels. They do have premium TV and movie channels, which cost $8. I started browsing their music selection and was surprised they had a Mandarin Pop station, a Cantonese Pop station, and a Japanese Pop station. Wonder why they didn’t have a Korean Pop station.

Besides a free drink, everything else on board costs money. Apparently there’s no snack provided. Jet Blue beats them in this aspect. I love Jet Blue’s selection of snacks to choose from. They also have on-board wifi access, however to access it would cost $10.

The plane finally landed at 3:40am and reached the gate at 3:45am. However, we would be stuck on the plane for another 20 minutes. Apparently the jet bridge was malfunctioning and they couldn’t get it to attach to the plane door. They soon announced that it was a “serious” issue and were contemplating plan B which involved searching for another gate to park (hopefully one with a working jet bridge). Soon they announced plan C which was to bring one of those giant stairs and have people walk down. At this point, people started saying, “Just deploy the slides and we’ll slide the !@#$ down.”

Somehow, they managed to get the jet bridge to finally start working again and we get off the plane a little past 4am. I finally exited the terminal and met my parents.

This whole ordeal was a nightmare which took over 7 hours to complete.

Quarterlife Crisis

Interesting article (via @rianjs): Welcome to Your Quarterlife Crisis


This phenomenon, known as the “Quarterlife Crisis,” is as ubiquitous as it is intangible. Unrelenting indecision, isolation, confusion and anxiety about working, relationships and direction is reported by people in their mid-twenties to early thirties who are usually urban, middle class and well-educated; those who should be able to capitalize on their youth, unparalleled freedom and free-for-all individuation. They can’t make any decisions, because they don’t know what they want, and they don’t know what they want because they don’t know who they are, and they don’t know who they are because they’re allowed to be anyone they want.

I’m not saying that I’m in “Quarterlife Crisis” mode. I just found it very interesting that by having more options makes live so much more complicated, creating a generation of indecisive people.

4 Day Weekend

First, I wanted to thank Andrew’s parents again for treating us to an awesome dinner at Tavolàta. If what they told me is true and they do in fact still read my blog, they’ll see this.

Now onto the topic at hand. For the past month, our whole team has been working crazy hours trying to get Geneva products to beta 2 ship quality. And the task at hand was completed last Friday (4/24).

This Friday (5/1) is our move day (we’re moving from the 5th floor to the 4th floor), just regular office shuffling that happens once or twice a year. The move apparently starts around noon, “inconveniently” just about when I usually get into the office.

So my lead is giving everyone a day off for the extra hours we’ve put in. Initially I was given Thursday (yesterday) off, but I wanted to wrap some stuff up this week and decided to take the following Monday off. So tomorrow might be a semi-work day depending if I get access to my computers. And of course I have the next Monday off.

Given the late notice, I thought about flying back home. But I’m going to be there in June for my sister’s graduation, so didn’t really feel that was worth it. Oh well.

But wait! It gets better! 2 days next week are “morale” days.

On Wednesday, we’re having our ship party at some fancy hotel. On Thursday, we’re going to watch Star Trek at the Bellevue Squares IMAX (I didn’t even realize there was an IMAX there).

So yep… things look great this coming week. 🙂

Nimrod – Hunter or Idiot?

I was checking out the new Armored HD trailer and noticed it was directed by Nimród Antal. I thought that was an unfortunate name to have since nimrod is a slang for idiot.

However, it turns out it’s real definition means hunter and is derived from the biblical figure, who was a great hunter and descendant of Noah: Nimrod.

Wondering how a great hunter would become the slang for idiot, I decided to dig a bit deeper.

According to The American Heritage Dictionary, nimrod being a slang for idiot probably started during a conversation between Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd in an episode of Looney Toons:

ETYMOLOGY: […] probably from the phrase “poor little Nimrod,” used by the cartoon character Bugs Bunny to mock the hapless hunter Elmer Fudd.

As someone on Urban Dictionary puts it:

Warner Brothers’ Looney Toons cartoons were not written for children, but for literate adults, and often contained literary references children would not understand. Younger generations, mostly illiterate, and having little or no Bible knowledge not gleaned from their moronic parents and half-wit talk radio hosts, probably misunderstood the comment as being a general insult describing the slow-witted Fudd.

Elmer Fudd vs Bugs Bunny So there you have it. When Looney Tunes was trying to say “poor little hunter”, viewers not knowing what “nimrod” really meant, tried to use context and derive the meaning of nimrod, and came out with “poor little idiot”, leading up today’s slang.