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on pop culture

Pop culture check:

Movies
X-Men 3
Superman Returns
Mission Impossible 3
Clerks II
The Ugly
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Man with the Movie Camera
The Full Monty
The Elephant Man
13 Conversations About One Thing
Punch-Drunk Love
Mulholland Drive
24 Hour Party People
21 Grams
The Ice Storm
About a Boy
Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War
sex, lies, and videotape


Books
Finished Reading
Tom Wolfe - The Bonfire of the Vanities
John Allen Paulos - A Mathematician Plays the Stock Market
Hermann Hesse - Journey to the East
Dan Brown - The Da Vinci Code

Currently Reading
Paul Graham - Hackers and Painters


Music
Best of Bootie 2005
KT Tunstall - Eye to the Telescope
Giant Drag - Hearts and Unicorns
Beleza Tropical: Brazil Classics 1
Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
Love is All - 9 Times That Same Song
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! - s/t
Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
Andy Votel - Music To Watch Girls Cry
Andrew Bird - Weather Systems
Oneida - The Wedding
Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil - Tropicalia 2
Gonzales - Solo Piano
Cat Power - The Greatest
Rosie Thomas - When We Were Small
Rosie Thomas - If Songs Could Be Held
The Doves - The Last Broadcast
The Microphones - The Glow, pt. 2
Simian - Chemistry Is What We Are
Simian - We Are Your Friends
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on returning (to lj)

Hmm, I haven't posted an update here in ... 9 months, wow. I also don't think I've kept up with my friends entries in about two months or so, though I am trying to go back through and read what I've missed.

Anyway, it never seems like there's much to write about anymore, unfortunately. I've moved into a much nicer apartment, one with hardwood floors, one that doesn't shake when buses drive by. It's on the 19th floor and has a nice view of the sewage-polluted Ala Wai canal and (presumably not sewage-polluted) golf course. Perhaps pics later.

I recently purchased a Roomba, one of those little robotic vacuum cleaners. It is like having a puppy around, you track where it is by the sound, and scurry over in a panicked oh-my-god-i-hope-he's-not-chewing-on-an-extension-cord when you hear strange noises.

In other news, I haven't been going surfing quite as much. I guess the whole fighting-for-a-wave thing got tiring, and I guess I just don't feel like courting confrontation in my down time. It's not the most relaxing thing for me, wondering when I will get into my next shouting match.

In its place, I joined the local gym and have been working out about 4-5 times a week. It's not quite like the super chic gym in Seattle, but it gets the job done. In typical meathead-wannabe fashion, I now choke down protein shakes and try to eat 3000 calories a day in order to gain weight with my hyper metabolism.

Took my first sick day ever today. I went to work, did my pre-market routine and just felt horrible, so I left. Some Sudafed, two naps, and Beverly Hills Ninja later, I am feeling a bit better.

Looking forward to visiting iwillcutyou in Seattle in a few weeks, who is apparently destroying his townhouse in order to save it. I think it's been a year since I took time off for a vacation.

The only web site you need: Cute Overload
  • Current Mood
    sick
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on consumption

Test, test, one two three one two three... is this thing on?

Pop Culture Check

Movies
Monster
Versus
The Conversation
Paper Moon
Touch of Evil
The Constant Gardener
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Dumplings
Mirrormask
Saw II

Music
Ladytron - Witching Hour
The Magic Numbers - s/t
Franz Ferdinand - s/t
Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better
Iron & Wine - Woman King
The Kinks - The Ultimate Collection
The Kinks - The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society
Elliott Smith - From a Basement on the Hill
The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan
Sleater-Kinney - The Woods
Rosie Thomas
Junior Senior - D-D-Don't Stop The Beat
The Delgados - Peloton
The White Stripes - Elephant
My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
Supercar - Answer
The Arcade Fire - Funeral
Kill Bill, Vol. 2 Soundtrack
Simon & Garfunkel - Live from New York City, 1967
Janis Joplin - Anthology
Janis Joplin - Greatest Hits
Andrew Bird - The Mysterious Production of Eggs
Annie - Anniemal
Cornelius - First Question Award
Cornelius - 69/96

Books
Finished Reading
Nassim Nicholas Taleb - Fooled by Randomness
Jack D. Schwager - Market Wizards
Edwin Lefevre - Reminiscences of a Stock Operator
Haruki Murakami - Kafka on the Shore

Currently Reading
Jonathan Lethem - Men and Cartoons
Banana Yoshimoto - Lizard
Thomas Friedman - The Lexus and the Olive Tree

On the Queue
Ha Jin - Waiting
John Irving - A Prayer for Owen Meany
Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale
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on charitable donations

I’m not sure if it’s liberal guilt, or the fact that I consider my job to have almost no socially redemptive qualities, or a combination of the two, but I’m considering making it a policy to donate a certain percentage of my gross income to various charities. I have a feeling that the rich Europeans that are funding our company are not doing anything particularly worthwhile with the profits that we are generating on their behalf. Perhaps this is partly inspired by jenly, who is out volunteering in Africa while I am selfishly sitting out here in Hawaii worrying about my career.

I’ve thought about this for a few weeks now, and have come up with a few initial ground rules for the policy, if I were to go ahead with it.

1) No donating to the universities I attended nor the private high school I attended. Those institutions have enough money, imho, and I don’t feel that they necessarily contribute to a social good in a fundamental sense.

2) No donating to exclusively political groups. Perhaps out of disillusionment with the political process in this country, I’m not sure of the efficacy of supporting narrowly focused political organizations. I don’t consider myself a single issue voter. Perhaps a journal entry on my political beliefs is in order in the near future.

3) No donating to organizations that cater exclusively on behalf of the interests of a single racial or ethnic group. This is probably under the second rule, but I thought it should be explicitly stated. I’m not averse to donating to organizations that will cater to a particular group of people because of the geographical location in which they operate, but I am averse to organizations that have been set up to exclusively serve the interests of a single group.

After some initial research, the organizations that have made the short list thus far:
Doctors Without Borders
International Committee of the Red Cross
The U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea
U.N. World Food Program
U.N. Children’s Fund - UNICEF
Human Rights Watch
Amnesty International

Missing is an organization I'd like to find that benefits Hawaii residents.

I have to admit, however, that part of me is worried that this is just idealistic folly, and I could potentially be hurting my financial future if I were to donate too much instead of saving the money away. Well, there isn’t exactly a time limit or deadline to decide these things, so I suppose I can think about this for a bit longer.
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on a mish mash of things

Long time no update. Working a job seems to drain away time, funny that. Working Japan hours doesn't really help all that much either.

Finally managed to sell my old Toyota to a nice old Japanese woman and her son who is probably my age, finishing up his master's degree at the University of Hawaii. I went pretty easy on the bargaining, mainly because I just wanted to get rid of the damn thing, and my asking price was set pretty high.

Finally bought my own surfboard, a 9'2" Hap Jacobs. Bright yellow. It's a pain in the ass to get in and out of my apartment with it, but it sure beats the heck out of renting every time I go.

I've noticed that I get yelled at when surfing now, when I break any one of the many rules of surfing etiquette. This never happened before I had my own board, but I suppose now that I am no longer on a rental, I'm supposed to know these things. Still, it's frustrating to see the tourists on their rental boards not catching any flak for their behavior and getting to sit closer to the break. Oh well, one must pay the dues when entering any subculture I suppose.

Our little startup officially launched this past week, which meant it was shit-hitting-the-fan week for me. A few late nights here and there with system hiccups, but all in all it went okay.

None of the above could possibly have been even remotely interesting for anyone. Do I only have interesting things to say when I'm bitterly complaining about something? That's a scary thought.

Pop Culture Check:
Books
Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans : The Best of McSweeney's, Humor Category
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs : A Low Culture Manifesto
CAPITAL IDEAS: THE IMPROBABLE ORIGINS OF MODERN WALL STREET
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on my mini, surfing

Long time no update. I still read everyone’s entries, but comment even less than I used to, and I don’t seem to have the energy to sit down and make as many updates as I probably should.

Mini
I suppose the biggest development in the past month is that I got a new Mini Cooper. Well, I should say that I leased one. I was a bit worried about the haggling and the negotiations that I would have to go through with the car salesman, but it really wasn’t that bad. By doing a little homework beforehand to find out which bogus fees you can negotiate down (i.e. all of them) you can come in with the upper hand. I was also in a position where my car was perfectly fine and I could easily walk out the door, which also helped. I eventually negotiated down to agreeable terms, but long story short, a Japanese couple bought the car I wanted while I was waiting for the paycheck I was going to use for the down payment. I had to settle for a different red one with more packages and options, which ended up not being so much more expensive because the salesman just plugged in the same terms we had settled on previously.



I really love this car. I’m not a huge fan of driving, but this handles like a souped up go kart and it’s a blast to drive around.

Selling my car
I decided not to go with the dealer trade-in offer for my Camry because it was ridiculously low. Most people simply let the dealer completely screw them out of hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the trade-in, simply because they don’t want to spend the time and effort to sell their own car. It’s understandable if you have a really pressing schedule, but the dollars mean enough to me to go through the hassle. Besides, I figure I will learn a lot by doing this myself. Negotiating for a car was definitely a learning experience. I placed a classified ad about a week ago, getting around 1 call a day. Hopefully I’ll get it sold by the end of this month.

Surfing
This past week was Golden Week, a string of random Japanese holidays. Basically the entire country shuts down for a week, and judging by the looks of Waikiki, comes to Hawaii. I basically spent my vacation catching up on reading and surfing. I’m still renting a board every time I go, but I’ve moved down to a 9 foot board. I think next time I’ll try out an 8 footer* and see how I do on that.

My tax return arrived in the mail the other day, and instead of prudently putting the money away, I immediately thought about buying my own surfboard.

Pop culture check:
Music
Beck – Guero
Fiona Apple – Extraordinary Machine
Andrew Bird – A Nervous Tic Motion Of The Head To The Left

Books
Recently finished:
America (The Book)
McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories
Michael Lewis - Moneyball

Currently reading:
Jack D. Schwager - Market Wizards : Interviews with Top Traders

On the queue:
Haruki Murakami - Kafka on the Shore
Thomas Friedman – The Lexus and the Olive Tree

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*= FYI shorter boards are harder to surf on, as it’s harder to balance and paddle. Shorter boards, however, are more maneuverable. Longboards (8’ and above) are better for catching smaller waves.
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on recommended reading

Recommended reads:

* The Comics Curmudgeon: Snarky critical commentary on the comic strips.

* Spamusement: Comics based on spam email subjects.

* Lifehacker: Random useful things.

* Query Letters I Love: Rejected movie proposals.

I went ahead and joined Netflix when I learned that they had a distribution center in Honolulu. Their site helpfully states that "Most customers add 6-10 movies to their Rental Queue during their first visit." I added 160 movies on my first visit. Interestingly enough, the first movie I received was Cinemania, a documentary about obsessive compulsives who spend every day of their lives watching movies in New York City.

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In other news, I've been going surfing for the past month or so, in lieu of taking flying lessons. Renting a board costs $8 a day, as opposed to the $160 / hr. an airplane + instructor would cost. Even though I've been going once or twice a week for a while now, I'm still quite bad at it, catching waves more by chance than skill. Still, there's something about it that seems to have really hooked me.
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on music

via exitmusicblue:

1. What is the total amount of music files on your computer?
31.1 GB, although only half of that is what I consider my actual music collection. The other half is just stuff lying around that I've been meaning to listen to, but haven't yet had the chance.

2. The CD you last bought?
The Polyphonic Spree - Together We're Heavy

3. What was the last song you listened to before reading this message?
The Books - Be Good To Them Always

4. Write down five songs that you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.
* Eels - Beautiful Freak
* Eels - Jeannie's Diary
* Cibo Matto - Stone
* Lou Reed - Perfect Day
* Elliott Smith - Miss Misery

5. Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
I don't think three people read my journal.
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on flying

So I finally had my flying lesson on Saturday. Last Saturday, it was cloudy and rainy and so the lesson was cancelled, but this weekend the weather was sunny and only slightly cloudy, basically perfect.

I got to fly a 2000 Cessna 172P, a small plane that holds 4 people. The plane had two sets of controls, like a driver's ed car, so if anything went wrong the instructor could override whatever stupid thing I was about to do. After walking me through the pre-flight checklist and inspecting the airplane to make sure nothing was wrong, we climbed in and started the engine. From here there was setting of instruments and getting clearance from the control tower for takeoff, which the instructor all handled. He had me taxi the airplane, using the rudder and brake pedals to steer the plane. I'm terrible at this, as I apparently have no coordination with my feet. It felt like when you first learn to drive, where you are overcompensating and the movements you make are too strong. After weaving drunkenly through the lane a bit, I managed to sort of line up the nose of the airplane with the center line, and we waited for final clearance from the tower.

Takeoff itself was relatively easy, I just had to point the nose down the runway and let the throttle go, and then eventually ease back on the control stick when the instructor said so. After a sharp bank right after takeoff, we headed over Pearl Harbor towards the mountains. The view was pretty amazing from up there, but I was too busy trying to keep the airplane level to really enjoy it too much. You definitely can feel every pocket of turbulance in a little airplane like that. Anyway, after that I made a few turns, we headed back towards the airport after what seemed like only a few minutes. Maneuvering in the air was actually a little easier, or maybe it's just harder to notice how bad it is in the air. It seemed like my banks at first were either too small or too big, but I think by the end I had started to get the hang of it a little bit.

After that I got to line up the airplane with the runway, cut the throttle and handle the flaps so that the nose of the airplane was basically pointed at the runway. To me, it seemed like were barrelling right towards the ground and that we would just plow right into it, but my instructor was totally calm, so I tried not to worry. After the ground seemed altogether too close, the instructor takes over and maneuvers the airplane so that we're hovering right over the runway, like it's the easiest thing in the world.

Driving home in my car seemed particularly banal after that.

Anyway, I am wondering what I should do. The first lesson is really cheap, which is why I was able to afford it. The actual lessons and the ground school kit which I would have to buy are quite expensive, and definitely not really in the budget at the moment. I was even considering taking out a loan to pay for it, but that's probably not the most prudent option, especially when I could probably wait and save for a few months. The problem is that they recommend going three times a week for lessons. They do offer lessons in the morning, so I could conceivably wake up and get an hour of training in before work twice a week, and then go once on the weekend in the afternoon. That all adds up pretty quickly. 35 hours is the minimum before you can earn the private pilot certificate, and then more training for the instrumentation certificate (so you can fly in clouds and at night) and the multi-engine certificate (to fly larger planes). Well, I guess I'll figure it out later. At the moment I have to concentrate on surviving until my next paycheck arrives.

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I'd recommend checking out The Kleptones - From Detroit To J.A.
  • Current Music
    The Kleptones - From Detroit To J.A.
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on the bookshelf

Bookshelf Check

Recently completed:
How I Became Stupid - the plot seemed to reflect my own transition in life.
Ugly Americans - a glamorized version of my industry.

Recently purchased:
Bringing Down the House
The Tipping Point - because I'm two years late for everything. yes, i know the author already has a new book out.
McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories - I liked McSweeney's better when you didn't recognize the name of half the contributors.

I have this sick desire to read the DaVinci Code, but every time I get close, I stop myself. I mean, I know it's trash, and I'm going to buy hard-cover, illustrated trash?