Friday, June 30, 2006

Canada Quiz

I saw this in the Seattle Post (yes, I still skim over both Seattle paper's websites): a Canada Quiz. I love taking these sorts of things.

I got hammered and scored a pitiful 11/20 (55%). Ouch. Some of those questions were hard!! I missed 2, 4, 8, 10, 11, 15, 17, 19, 20.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I recently got a letter from the Woodbridge Lakes Homeowners Association that said "a drive through inspection was recently completed in our community and we noted that there are several areas where the grass is dead. You are being requested to replace these areas with new sod."

Good to know the HOA is out patrolling the neighborhood. Out of curiosity I paid extra attention as I drove through my neighborhood on the way to/from work and I don't think my lawn is in extra bad shape or anything. It was pretty dry for weeks. However, I do have a dead spot of grass by the side of the driveway. I think a sprinkler head must be broken so I'll look into that.

Dead Spot

Anyway, over the long weekend I'll dig up this dead area and replace with some sod (grass plugs as Home Depot calls them). The letter is vague but then I bet they send the same one out to anybody who they want to warn about lawn maintenance.

The city of Lake Mary only allows us to water the lawn twice a week, so one good thing about the summer rainy season is the extra water lawns get. A nice lawn looks great but at the same time I'm not sure it is worth pouring a ton of water into here. I wonder if the water supply is divided into reclaimed water (suitable for vegetation but not consumption) and higher quality drinking-grade water.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Update on Dad

My Dad went in for an examination, and the result was: condition is treatable with medication. No surgery needed - great news!! He needs to rest and Mom has to watch for any swelling, since that indicates blood is leaking of the artery they entered for the exam. Looks like he'll be fine, and the trip to China is on. :)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Asian Character Misuse

I found an interesting website/blog: Hanzi Smatter, dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters in Western culture. I spent some time learning Japanese, and many of the charcters are shared. I only recognize a handful, but you don't need to know anything to understand this site.

The author critiques various misuses that include incorrect drawings (strokes left out), characters misaligned (rotated sideways, upside down), unknown characters (apparently invented)... but the worst ones are bad translations, and many of those involve tattoos (!!).

Examples include:

But the truly outrageous, horrifying, and sad ones are all the people who get messed up Asian character tattoos. Examples are all over the site - just browse the archives from the beginning.

An earlier post summarizes some key issues:

The problem is NOT that people are getting characters tattooed on them; it's that people who don't understand the characters are getting characters tattooed on them by other people who don't understand the characters. It is equivalent of “blind leading blind”. To those of us who do, it's a cause for mirth and head-shaking.


A kanji is the cheapest thing that you can get at the tattoo parlor. For the most part they require no thought and are chosen on impulse right before getting tattooed. Most of the people who get these tattoos don’t care what it is; they just want to be "cool".

An example of an innocuous tale is this one of a woman who bought her sister a tattoo even though neither knew what it meant. People do this?!

I can't stop browsing this site; it is fascinating. I guess the lesson here is if you are getting a foreign language tattoo, have a friend who is trusted and fluent in the language to vet it for you beforehand!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Office Space

Ingrid, our administrative assistant, came by with a tantalizing offer: a private office!

Ever since I moved to Florida, I've had an office mate - Matt. We get along well, neither of us is particularly loud or anything, and our corner office has two walls of windows. My view is west: trees, parking lot, and I4. On clear days my westerly view can see launches from the Kennedy Space Center. Matt's view is north: mostly of a leafy tree and a bridge.

Anyway, the offer is that due to some upcoming office shuffling, we could both move into a private INTERIOR office. That's the hangup, I really like the natural light and the view. And so does Matt. So we told Ingrid we'd rather stay.

A few weeks ago my boss told me he'd like to get our group closer together. So the conspiracy theory is we'll be forced to move anyway, possibly because a manager covets our office with the awesome windows. Due to seniority, window offices go to long term employees and managers. I've been here about four years, a small amount compared to some of the people who have been here through two or three corporate acquisitions!

In the meantime we'll attempt to stay and see what happens.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


After juggling around many possible vacations, it looks like a trip to China is now the most likely. My parents found a trip that visits mostly China and also Thailand, scheduled for the last two weeks of September. I had to wait to clear it with my boss, and after a bit of consulting with schedules, it was deemed OK. That's how it always is - I'm not sure there ever is a 100% perfect time to go on a long vacation, except immediately after finishing a product release. But the trick there is that dates tend to move slightly so if you need to plan a few months ahead...

Anyway, the major stops on the itinerary are: Shanghai, Giangyin, Yangchow, Nanking, Hangchow, Chugiachiao, Bangkok, and Pattaya. No stop in Beijing or Xian, but this actually good for me personally since sometime I plan to take the REI Treasures of China trip which does visit in those two cities. This trip is contingent on Dad's health - if he is up for it we'll go, otherwise if he can't then I don't want to go either. Mom and I checked with the travel agent and she assured us we can back out of the trip and get our deposit back in this case.

So if I do the China trip in 2006, then perhaps I can do the Prague-Budapest bike trip in 2007, which leaves the Treasures of China trip for 2008. I've got a tentative big trip planned out for quite some time!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

CTFS #1 2006

Today while my friends in the Pacific Northwest are racing (Francesca and Jen at Issaquah; Eve in BC), I am too. It was plenty warm at this morning's olympic distance event, but not as hot as the Florida half was.

Before the start of the event, I saw a very fit looking woman in a race outfit labeled "Gollnick". I thought to myself "wow I wonder if that is Heather Gollnick, Ironman pro. She lives in Florida so maybe it is..." I went over and stood next to her, glancing sideways, trying to decide if she looked like the race photos I've seen. When she looked over, I asked "Hi, are you Heather Gollnick?" and she smiled really big and said yes, and took my my hand while asking my name. I replied and we shook hands and chatted about events. She said she was racing age group today and was in the area doing some hill training for Ironman Coeur D'Alene (an event she won in 2003). She wished me a good race before I had to leave for my wave start. I am so bummed I didn't have my camera with me!

Oh yeah, the race. It went well. I did a 36:59 swim, a 1:29:32 bike, and a 57:44 run for a total of 3:10:54 including transitions.

I was happy with the swim. I didn't forget to leave my bike jersey, thus saving me an untold amount of drag I had to deal with at my last race. The bike went well also, traveling over a few of the same roads as the Florida Half. That means yes, there were a few short, decent hills, and lots of minor rollers. By the time I started the run, I was feeling the heat and humidity, but managed to keep cool and even pick up my pace midway through the second lap.

This will sound whiny, but I am convinced the bike course is long. April's oly had the same layout, and my bike computer measure 25.8 miles, exactly 1 extra mile over 40K. This time the turnaround at one of the out-and-backs was a little earlier, and I thought "aha - they figured out the bike course was long!" But back in transition my computer read 25.3 miles - still a half-mile too long. That is better, but we need another 1/4 mile adjustment (so that for the out-and-back we'll get the correct 1/2 mile shorter course). I am sure it isn't my bike computer, because at the Florida half it measured 56.0 miles exactly.

This is race 1 in a series of 4, and I hope the course stays the same. I'd like to compare my time at the end of the season, after I get back to some regular swim and bike training.

P.S. Heather wound up winning the event, coming in 1st place for women. I bet she held back too, since this is a warmup race for CdA.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


This afternoon on the way back from lunch, I spotted a snake in my driveway. Ah yes, more Floridian wildlife. Although Washington does have snakes, I never saw one in my years of living there.

The snake was wedged up against my garage door, so I detoured to the end of my driveway rather than walk to the driver's side door. The snake was small so it was probably a juvenile rather than an adult. We eyed each other for a few seconds, the snake's tongue flicking in and out a few times, before it moved away, slithering across my front yard and into my neighbors bushes. They are having a swimming pool put in so perhaps the large crater dug into their backyard disturbed the snake? I'm just guessing.

I found a pretty cool website on Florida Snakes, which has very handy identification key. The snake I saw was solid black, and after using the identification system I have determined that I either saw a Southern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor priapus) or an Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon Corais Couperi). I am happy to see both snakes are "Harmless (non venemous)"!

I think it was an Eastern Indigo Snake because I don't remember any white on the underside of the head - it was solid black the entire way. On the other hand the comments for the racer say "most likely to be seen by Floridians. It inhabits both rural and urban habitats and is frequently seen in residential areas during the daytime."

The racer comments also say "does not make a good pet because it never gets over its nervous disposition." I can assure you having a pet snake has never entered into my mind!

After searching a bit I found the fear of snakes is ophidiophobia, which should make people who love snakes ophidiophiles. Let's just say I am not in the former category, and definitely not in the latter one.