Narcissus' Echo

Thoughts, tears, rants, ruminations, hopes, fears, love(s), and prayers of just another being passing through this wracked sphere...

My Photo

A round peg in a world of square holes...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Tea and typos

More on my tea saga (for new readers, I had 15 boxes in my pantry, or was it 14? 16? hmm...): I bought more tea (3 more boxes). Now I have decaffeinated green tea as well. The best of both worlds: drinking green tea, and yet still able to go sleep right after. Talk about having your cake and eating it too. Next on my list would be decaffeinated Earl Grey. Man, cookies and tea at 11 PM, and still being able to hit the sack thereafter. I suppose I'm spoiled. Spoiled. Spoiled.

I returned home on Wed at 8:30 PM, expecting to shower, a quick dinner (a can of Campbell's Chunky Soup & toasted sourdough. Moderate amount of salt, low fat. Highly recommended), and sleep for 6 hours, speed read for 3 hours upon waking, when my housemate asked me if I could "proof-read" his paper revision.

Man, I should have known better. He played Final Fantasy on the Playstation for the next 2 hours before working on his paper (did I mention that I wanted to sleep?). I told him I would only read final drafts and I am not going to fix typos or missing words. When I got his paper, it was so filled with errors that it was 2:30 AM before I was done with it. Argh. Then again, I guess I'm a perfectionist. I wasn't going to let him walk away without having done my best job on his paper.

Experiences like these make me empathize with the draconian grading policies of my professors in the past (e.g. one misspelling, or missing word, or duplicate word, or punctuation error, and the highest possible grade is a "D). I am beginning to see the rationale behind it. To hand up a carelessly written / proof-read paper is disrespectful not only to the reader, but to the writer as well. In my (pompous, anal-retentive, pedantic) opinion, one should possess more dignity than that; it is extremely self-denigrating to hand in a poorly-written paper. It is akin to a declaration, "The quality of my thoughts is not worth the observance of the form in which they should be presented in, ergo here's absolute crap, presented in all its crappy form." While I am a sloppy dresser 99% of the time, I am extremely anal about form and presentation in the letters. The two exist in different worlds: one rots in the grave with the wearer, while the other practically exists for eternity, beyond the life of its creator (if he/she is good enough to be published, that is).

As if poor adherence to proper form in academic papers isn't bad enough, the government of a certain "Disneyland-with-a-death-penalty" is considering replacing Singlish with rap and hip-hop in the classroom, in an effort to root out the former. This is akin to stopping blood loss with a contaminated bandage: exchanging one problem with another; exchanging local flavor for blind mimicry. It comes across as an extremely short-sighted stop-gap solution. As "flawed" as the former is, at least it possesses authenticity (this is coming from someone who detests Singlish, so that's saying a lot), while the embrace of the latter is simply a crude exercise in pop-culture mimicry. How is Ebonics superior to Singlish? Just because one is imported from the Northern Hemisphere? Then again, it can be argued that one of the tenets of education is mimicry. If so, then it becomes a point of contention which form is more deserving of mirroring--or, aping (pun intended).

Don't try this at home now.

In case anyone is wondering what happened to Jar Jar Binks:

Thursday, May 19, 2005

with company & in style...

Whatever you take away from this poem, enjoy:


Who does not love the Titanic?
If they sold passage tomorrow for that same crossing,
who would not buy?

To go down . . . We all go down, mostly
alone. But with crowds of people, friends, servants,
well fed, with music, with lights! Ah!

And the world, shocked, mourns, as it ought to do
and almost never does. There will be books and movies
to remind our grandchildren who we were
and how we died, and give them a good cry.

Not so bad, after all. The cold
water is anaesthetic and very quick.
The cries on all sides must be a comfort.

We all go: only a few, first-class.

(David R. Slavitt, b. 1935)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

still tired

I am really tired today. Been finding it harder to breathe. I have no cough or mucus or sore-throat though (knockwood). Caffeine has definitely stopped working. Don't mind me, today I will just serve up rehashed crap as I have deadlines, deadlines, deadlines:

Fly the friendly skies to a tropical island paradise!
Have friendly, gorgeous stewardess serve you organically-grown pink slime . Come to Hawaii: the land of new experiences!

ACIDWAR: last night, tony and I decided to stop off on the way to the party to get some beer
ACIDWAR: we come out of the shop a few minutes later and there's a parking guy writing a ticket
ACIDWAR: tony goes up to him and asks him what the ticket's for, parking guy explains that the car is parked in a no standing zone
ACIDWAR: tony starts abusing him and tells him to cram it up his ass, so the guy writes a ticket for abusing him
ACIDWAR: so tony gets up him even more, and every time he says something the guy writes another ticket
ACIDWAR: 14 tickets later, the guy gives up and walks off
DENDYH0: ...
ACIDWAR: and we both PISS ourselves laughing as we walk back to tony's car around the corner, leaving some poor bastard with 14 parking fines :D

The Japanese really know how to have fun. Paper, Scissors, Stone, with the loser of each round subjected to a bucket of hot molten wax? Sizzling!


I'm tired, tired, tired, tired, tired. Coffee isn't helping. Laundry needs to be done, but hasn't. More deadlines. With raccoon eyes, I look a wreck today. Tired, tired, tired.

While parsing through blogs, I discovered this little bit of interesting trivia:
A 21-year-old undergraduate from Kent State took on Microsoft and won . Now isn't that heartwarming? (I can't remember whose blog I took this link from. Just remind me in the comments section and I will give you due credit. Thanks!)

It makes me feel about as good as a one-man business operating in the garage taking on Monster Cable and winning (with a little help from the audiophile community).

For the uninitiated, Monster Cable holds the copyright to ANYTHING in the commercial world with the word, "Monster." Yes, that's right. If Tampax were to sell something called, "Monster Tampon," tomorrow, it would get sued by Monster Cable. Don't believe me? Scroll to the bottom of the job site, What do you see? "For patrons of Monster Cable " That was part of the undisclosed settlement with Monster Cable. Remember "Monsters, Inc."? Disney got sued and they paid up as well. "Monster Ball" with Halle Berry? Yep, they got sued too. Here's a list of lawsuits in which Monster Cable is either the plaintiff or the defendant.

Aside from the warm, fuzzy feeling one gets when the underdog wins, I enjoy such stories because it gives a boost to the belief (however idealistic) that some things are worth fighting for--and sometimes, just sometimes, one might just win. (Note: this does not apply in a certain city-island-state-Disneyland-with-a-death-penalty-and-invitations-to-tea.)

Enjoy the pictures.
With snowpack in the Sierras being at 180%, coupled with the unusually warm Spring, we get these:

Another look:

The last time I seen something like that was the aftermath of the El Nino many, many years ago. Don't bother rushing there. Much of Yosemite valley is flooded and the roads to the park are closed.

Bah! Humbug!

All this recent talk about the supposed pain of a Brazilian wax . Oh, "it hurts like nothing you can imagine..." Blah blah blah...

Tell you what, I will go for the full works of the male version (nuts included), and you go through what I went through, ok?

Now, imagine an 18 gauge needle, being inserted UNDER your patella (kneecap) to inject cortisone.

Here are some file pictures to give you an approximate idea of the procedure:

Most of the needle is hidden (the goal is to inject the cortisone UNDER the kneecap, remember?)

More information on this link .

Mind you, I had this procedure performed on both knees, one after the other.

Now, what was that about Brazilian waxes hurting "like nothing you can imagine" again?

My offer still stands. Care to trade places?
Besides, summer's almost here, and, with my trunks, I do not want to look like a Wookie down there...

Anyone for tennis?

Monday, May 16, 2005

IKEA, caffeine, and words of wisdom

Chanced upon this utterly hilarious and blasphemous dig at IKEA and THE MAN,

which got me thinking, is it part of company policy to decorate the interior of all IKEA stores alike? I swear, when I am inside IKEA, I cannot tell if I am inside the IKEA in Oakland, East Palo Alto, or Bukit Merah. It is unnerving. If you fall asleep in any of the IKEAs, you could come out driving on the wrong side of the road...

I have a serious problem with caffeine and stimulants. I have 2 lbs of instant coffee, 2 lbs of ground coffee, 14 boxes of tea, 2 types of ginseng (sliced or diced), medical-grade glucose, in my pantry. It is a love-hate relationship. Without caffeine, I won't be able to do half the things I normally do. Ever tried an espresso train? Go to your favorite cafe, ask the barrista to give you 6 shots of espresso, each in its own paper cup. Line up the cups, and without pausing to breathe, pop each shot down your throat. Now go forth and conquer the world, champ. (NB: it is inadvisable to attempt this before engaging in work of a delicate nature. E.g. bomb disposal, breaking up with your Amazonian/athlete GF who is 10 inches taller than you and outweighs you by 80 lbs, etc.)

Eve's words of wisdom, "you don't have to justify your love for her," really stuck in my head. Like one of those annoying songs that just won't go away, I see the wisdom in her advice, but I just can't find a place to apply it to. It is like having torn off more scotch tape than you need, and you wander about the apartment looking for something to stick, somewhere to use it. Hmm... (Sorry, I'm too old for "Kick Me" signs on the backs of my housemates.)

So she tells me who she is referring to in her words of wisdom (duh! Silly me). I guess that's true. I definitely will need to go out and get some better clothes before that one dinner though. *Gasp!* "Ben buying new clothes? Where are the 4 horsemen?" Aww... Whatever dude. Shut up before I bitchslap you back into the Tang dynasty. *smirk*

Seriously though, once you cross the line, you can't go back. And I guess I am terrified about that. And no, I'm not being a little bitch about it. *Deflects all accusations of misogyny here in my use of the epithet* The reason why I am worried is because I do not want to lose her friendship if I get rebuffed or if things don't work out. It is the rare few who are able to move on and return to the prior friendship once they know that their good friend is romantically interested in them. Then again, the alternative is to sit on the sidelines going, "What if? What if?" for the rest of my life. (Ok, not so dramatic: until I forget her. Happy?) I don't want to be the Mr. Stevens of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel, The Remains of the Day, and be left with nothing but the satisfaction of having clung to an intangible form of social proprietary and decorum at the end of the day. Such matters are at once easier and yet more difficult if you are good friends to begin with, I'd suppose. You have more to lose if things do not work out.

To use a car analogy for you knuckleheads out there, it is the difference between ADDING a modification, and PERFORMING one. Let's say, you decide to modify your engine by... putting an aluminum billet oil cap? *BUZZ!* Wrong answer! That's RICE-ING an engine, not modifying. *BITCHSLAP!* *CRACKS HEAD WITH 4' LONG BREAKER BAR*

Try again!

OK, so you modify an engine by putting on a lightweight pulley. You find that you don't like it, because the reduced inertia increases your launch time from a standstill. So, you put the original back on. You lose a few hours of labor and 1 cc. of Loctite. No biggie.

Now, compare that with modifying an engine by port-matching your intake manifold with your throttle body. You, the brave and/or stupid and/or cheapass backyard mechanic decides to DIY with a dremel. Now, you found that you screwed up, and the performance is worse. You can't just JB Weld back the missing parts. You need a new intake manifold. In some cars, the fuel rail needs to come out before the intake manifold can be replaced. Enjoy!

Trying to get romantic with your good/best friend is like that, IMHO. Of course, the value of the relationship is immeasurably more than a new intake manifold and x hours of labor. This is beginning to sound like a continuation of the "platonic friends" thread... hmm.

You know, life would be so much easier if I was just one of those regular "guys who are dogs," who are only concerned with getting into the pants of the next available conscious female in their age range +/- 10 years. But, noooo... instead I desire a mental, spiritual, and emotional connection. Since I am obviously not gay, my only other option is priesthood. Hmm... No, I'm not jesting. I thought long and hard about it some years back. It is a long path though. 9 years before ordination, and a lifetime of celibacy... And with such naughty pictures on blogs these days. It just gets harder and harder. (Anyone misreading the preceding sentence will be thrice-damned to Hell forever: commandments of Father Ben).

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Long legs, and postal workers from hell

It is interesting that Eve brought up the issue of bermudas. Luckily for her, I do not think bermudas (or shorts, for that matter) suit me. I have rather long legs. How long? Well, my measured inseam is 34 inches (86.5 cm). Berms often look like shorts on me, and shorts look like swimming trunks, and swimming trunks look like... let's not go there.

Here's a little bit of real-life humor that took place at the local post office when I was mailing out some fancy cards:

CLERK: Why are these envelopes so thick? [Clenches her fist and proceeds to pound each envelope flat] *BAM!* *BAM!* *BAM!*

BEN: Umm... WHAT are you doing?

CLERK: You might be charged 60 cents a piece if they are too thick. Let me see if I can make them thinner. *BAM!* *BAM!* *BAM!*

BEN: There are two envelopes inside each envelope and they are EMBOSSED. I will gladly pay the extra difference per envelope. Please stop doing that.

CLERK: You sure? I could be saving you money here. *BAM!* *BAM!* *BAM!*

BEN: Yes, I am absolutely sure. Stop! Stop! Stop! I PAID to have them embossed. You are flattening them!

CLERK: Oops! Too late. It's all done. See? I saved you money. [Smiles] Now, is there anything else I can help you with today? Do you need any stamps? Phone cards?

BEN: *mutter* *mutter*

6 PM, and I haven't started on 1/2 the work slated for today. I don't think I can make it to mass tonite. Even if some sort of miracle happens, and I complete the work within the next 2 hours, I still do not have fresh presentable clothes to attend (See, Eve? I do dress up occasionally). Kinda bummed about that. Today is Pentecost too. But work needs to be done. I have to get my priorities right.

I am really pissed off by Newsweek . Their poor standards of journalism have resulted in much damage and loss of life . I wonder where are the howls of outrage and protests from the liberals? Somehow, they are strangely quiet. (Are they all getting stoned on pot and celebrating the prospect of more troop deaths?) Instead, they seem to be more outraged by President Vicente Fox's comment . Talk about screwed up priorities. No wonder this country is going to hell in a handbasket.

So I ate my own words and decided to go for practice and mass instead. And boy, was I glad I went. The songs were rather difficult tonight: with the majority of them in Latin or Spanish, but they were all beautiful. One of them was "Ubi Caritas." Ubi caritas, deus ibi est... (live in charity and God will live in you).

Something funny happened tonight. You see, there is this gentleman by the name of Greg, who is in charge of the entire music ensemble. Besides syncing those playing the instruments with the choir, he conducts the latter, as well as sing the male lead alto. Anyways, following the usual practice, we sing "Alleluia" while the presiding priest for the night, Father Locatelli (who is also the president of the university), takes this sprig of leaves to sprinkle holy water on the laity, blessing them. When he passed Greg, standing there on the podium conducting, he intentionally doused Greg's head with so much water, half of his head was drenched and dripping.

We could see Father Locatelli snickering as he continued on his way. (For those not in the know, the president of our university has a reputation as a prankster). With the microphones right before us, it took a supreme effort of willpower not to laugh or let it affect our singing as Greg struggled to maintain composure and look through the streams of water running down his face. To steal a word from MasterCard: priceless.

Scraped my Supra against the sidewall of the carport as I pulled in. @^*&!!! $$$!!! Oh well...

(Yes, Eve. I found some fresh presentable clothes, if you must know...)