Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It can't possibly be JUNE!

I guess I'll just pretend like my last post wasn't FIVE months ago and keep on. Hahaha.

So much going on, not sure where to even begin. The photo above is from a hike in April, I think it was. The monthly hike with Jenny, that time to Big Santa Anita Canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains. It was starting to get warm so hiking by the creek definitely helped.

A funny thing happened on this hike. I've done this hike before but I guess it was much later in the summer or even in early fall, so there wasn't this much water in the creeks. Some parts were nearly or actually impossible to cross without endangering ourselves. There was one part of the creek that was difficult to cross. We saw some guys jumping rocks so I thought I'll just follow them. I don't know if I didn't see correctly which rocks they were jumping or the guy I saw had much longer legs than me, but I tried to jump some rocks and didn't quite make it, so I slid one leg into the creek. And, because I had to bend forward to catch myself on the rock so I didn't completely fall into the creek, both my water bottles fell out of my pack's side pockets and floated down the creek. I was going to just let them go but a really nice guy leapt across some rocks and logs toward the middle of the creek to retrieve them! There sure are some nice people on those trails.

In other news, I'll be getting a new boss in July. I realized that this is actually the first time in my professional career that a direct-report boss departed, so I'll be working for someone I didn't interview with. It should be interesting.

Kind of a sign of the times, I guess - as soon as the new boss was announced, many staff went online and looked him up on LinkedIn and Google. It's a C-level position so the guy's definitely got some online history and presence. I haven't read any of it but the office is abuzz. Nothing scandalous or scary, apparently. I think some people are getting a bit nervous just because of the change.

Hopefully I'll be able to post more frequently, though I'm sure not nearly as much as in November. Maybe my goal should be once a week for now. We'll see!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Happy 2012!

A belated happy new year! I had some special projects I was working on at year-end so I didn't quite have the energy to keep this blog updated. One project was making this new year's feast, "osechi ryouri". Each of the dishes have special meaning, like wishing for prosperity, happiness, good health, etc. It was really interesting to learn about the history and significance of each dish, how some vary from region to region in Japan, and the naming of each. Some are very punny :)

Work's been quite stressful lately so I haven't been able to keep up with news and politics and all. Hopefully I'll be able to have more to write about soon.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Soup Weather and a Freaknomics #Fail

Happy holidays, to those who are celebrating. I'm having a wonderfully relaxing weekend.

Lately I've been making up a lot of "recipes" (they're not all that involved, really) to use up various ingredients in the pantry and fridge and stuff that intrigue me at the farmers market. Now that it's gotten cold, I crave soup. So I took some kale from the farmers market, went to the backyard and picked the last of the tomatoes on the wilted vines (this was a couple of weeks ago), boiled it all with some tofu and seasoned with Hawaiian salt and presto, a warm hearty soup. I liked the earthiness of the kale, the silkiness of the tofu and sourness of the tomatoes, with the very lightly-seasoned broth.

Today's Reading
I'm finally finding the energy and will to pick up and finish some of the many books around the house. I've re-started "Super Freakonomics" and am enjoying it very much, as I knew I would. This one I got autographed by Stephen Dubner, too, after I heard him speak at an IT Finance conference last year. I was so excited to meet him! He was as geeky as I'd imagined, hahaha.

Anyway, I'm still about halfway through but wanted to jot down some thoughts about one of the chapters, the one about prostitution. While the main premise and analysis of the declining wages of prostitutes and factors affecting supply and demand was all very geeky and interesting ("pimpact"! hahaha!), I was a little perturbed with one assertion.

While discussing the wage disparity between men and women, even (or especially) highly educated women such as lawyers, doctors, etc., the authors cited a study of more than 2,000 male and female MBAs from the University of Chicago that concluded "while gender discrimination may be a minor contributor to the male-female wage differential, it is desire - or the lack thereof - that accounts for most of the wage gap." (Bertrand, Goldin, Katz).

So then the authors went on to say that "The big issue seems to be that many women, even those with MBAs, love kids."

Ummmm, excuse me? That's the best you could do??

First of all, I have a problem with the study's conclusion. How can "desire" alone be cited as a primary cause of the gender wage gap? What about all the factors that led up to the development of desire or lack of desire in men and women?

And, I have to say, I was quite disappointed to see the authors use the "women love kids" argument. I don't have anything against women who leave the workforce to raise their children. But isn't there also social stigma - why must women choose between one or the other? Why are women the ones primarily expected to take time off to care for children - even just days off to pick up sick kids, etc.?

One of the factors affecting the promotability and success at work is the number of days spent at work, and one statistic that is cited is the number of days women take off versus men. If women forgo time with their kids to prioritize work, they are "heartless" and a "bad mother". But if men do the same thing, it's acceptable as a "breadwinner" thing to do. And so if women exhibit the desire to advance and are demonized, what choice do they have but to step back?

Why don't men take the same amount of time off as women to take care of their children? Do men really love their children less than their mothers do? I highly doubt that. But instead, I think we've been conditioned to accept that the father is supposed to be the breadwinner and provide for the family, so his work can't be interrupted to stay home with a sick child, or his business trips can't be scheduled around the kids' field trips, while the mother's work is less important and thus she is expected to either flex her schedule up or down or, if work isn't that flexible, quit her job (or find another, lower paying job).

I know I am generalizing, too, but I'm disappointed that some of my favorite economists/authors took this easy out. Let's hope other chapters and arguments are better.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pipe [Organ] Dreams

Well, I feel so much better now. So, onward and forward. A couple of weeks ago, a church in Venice was putting on a free concert by an organist, showcasing the pipe organ at the church. I'd never heard a pipe organ in person so I was quite intrigued.

The pipe organ itself was located at the back of the church, so that when people sat on the pews and looked forward, the pipe organ was in the back and upstairs so you couldn't see the organist at all.

But not to worry, the event organizers had put up a screen up in the front of the chapel, showing a video feed of the organist playing, so that not only do you hear the music, you can see how the organist is creating it.

This was truly amazing. I loved the sound of the pipe organ, producing an enormous range of sound and volume, and the pipes distributed the music throughout the chapel so that I really felt like I was being enveloped by sound.

I guess I never really thought about or saw an organ, but I never realized that there were keys to be played by the performer's feet! It's like an entire keyboard at your feet. At times, the performer was playing a different melody on each hand, AND FEET! It was really mind-bogglingly impressive.

This was a great start to the holiday music season.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sour Cream and Chocolate Chip Cake and Another Bad Day

I had bought some sour cream a while back to use in a cake but then seemed to have lost the recipe. Then I sort of forgot about the sour cream until I realize it was expired. By a little. So I quickly searched for a recipe, found one that also used up some leftover chocolate chips, and voila. This recipe called for mixing the chocolate chips with cinnamon before layering into the cake batter. Pretty interesting flavors.

I hate to sound like a complainer and I know I should just let all this stuff roll off of me and move on but I just feel so down, I'm hoping writing it down will help a bit. Better here than Facebook, fewer (or no) audience means I won't sound so pathetic in public. I do feel like this blog is like a diary now.

Anyway, the day started off a bit inauspiciously when I left the house 2 minutes late and missed the bus by a hair. It drove by me as I was waiting for the light to turn so I can cross the street and get to the bus stop.

Then it went like this:
  • Already behind in work, got tasked with another strategic initiative that'll take a lot of thinking and time
  • Continued to deal with underperforming staff
  • Was getting ready to leave work, got held up by a very talkative staff person who doesn't seem to take to social cues
  • A friend seems to have written me off
  • Instead of leaving work 10 minutes early as planned, left right at 5pm, only to realize in the stairwell that I left my iPod on my desk, had to run back to retrieve
  • 2-hour drive from Santa Monica to Beverly Hills en route to Burbank, only to change course and head directly to Hollywood because I was running out of time to meet my friend
  • Another 1 hour drive to Hollywood, only to be less than a mile from my destination (Pantages Theater) to get turned away due to a street closure, got directed away from Hollywood and Vine
  • Gave up, texted friend and told her to go in without me, which meant I completely missed seeing "Wicked", a show for which we had season tickets (and a show that I LOVE and was looking forward to seeing tonight)
  • Wanted to eat something good but couldn't focus enough to figure out what I wanted to eat and where to go, so just decided to eat at home
  • Decided to make side trip to grocery store, encountered traffic even though it was after 8 pm and going opposite normal traffic patterns
  • UCLA men's soccer lost in the semi-finals
There were some highlights in the day:
  • Hallway caroling at work was fun (although I seemed to have gotten shushed for being out of tune)
  • UCLA women's volleyball swept defending champs Penn State to avance to the Elite Eight (although Penn State was ranked only #8)
Tomorrow can only be better. I just wish I felt better equipped to deal with it all. I know part of it is biological/hormonal (that time of the month) but I just feel like I don't have it in me to deal with all this right now. I just want to curl up and not wake up. But then I think of people I know who deal with so much more (family, children, parents, work, health etc.) and I feel like such a loser for letting all this get me down.

I know I'm in a phase where I feel so down that I'm prone to being overly dramatic and seeing everything in a negative light. But it's so hard to snap out of it, even though I know logically that's what makes the most sense.

Well, writing has certainly helped a bit. Hopefully sleep will help as well.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bus-Riding Cookies

To get in the holiday baking mood, I started trying out recipes I had cut out from a while back, since I need to use up some of the supplies. I tried the "Nibby Whole Wheat Sables" recipe I cut out from LA Times a few years ago. I also found a small jar of cacao nibs at Surfa's shortly after I cut out the recipe, so it seemed like providence.
The cookies turned out fine but so that I won't have to take a separate bag on the bus, I put the cookies into one plastic zip bag and laid it out on top of my papers and other stuff in my messenger bag. This is what I found once I got to work.

Oops. So, I've learned my lesson and will take cookies in a separate bag, even if it means I can't keep my hands in my pocket. I'm wearing gloves anyway. Not that I got any complaints. The cookies and crumbs were all gone within a few hours. People at work are so forgiving.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Off to Anne's World

NaBloPoMo is DONE! Wow, I can't believe I finally did it. And I must say, it wasn't bad. It was getting kind of tough the last week or so. Truth be told, I was getting a little tired of it around the 26th or so. But I'm really glad I did it, now I know I can write.

I'd like to say I'll continue posting daily but I'm not sure I can this month. I need to start working on my holiday baking and also have some personal business to take care of. I definitely want to keep writing, though, so I'll still post periodically, I'm sure.
Back in elementary school, I fell completely in love with the PBS mini-series version of "Anne of Green Gables."

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I finally started watching this DVD set, which I had bought some years back. Oh my gosh, this brought back so many memories.
I think I was in the 7th grade or so when I saw this on PBS. My friend and I totally fell in love, and we watched every episode and talked about each episode on the phone and in school for days on end.

I love how young and imaginative Anne is in the beginning, and so friendly and joyful, despite the hardships she's lived through already. It's a really good lesson to learn, to see th beauty in life and to keep a cheerful outlook. I also love the flair for drama, of course.

And I chuckled at the interactions between Marilla and Anne. Marilla is so no-nonsense and Anne is so whimsical, yet they have so much in common. I love how Marilla finds Anne's antics humorous.

And of course Matthew is just too sweet. I used to dream of puffed sleeve dresses like Anne. In fact, I remember how much I used to want to do up my hair like Anne in her teaching days. It just looked so effortless and beautiful, and so sophisticated.

I would like to go to Prince Edward Island one day. I know Green Gables has been totally made into a tourist trap but it still looks lovely. The scenery, like when Anne and Matthew rode under the trees of cascading leaves, or when Anne and Diana would walk in fields of flowing tall grass that streched for seemingly miles on end - it all looked so gorgeous that I got choked up.

I can't wait to watch the sequels in this DVD set.