Saturday, April 29, 2006

Goodbye, house

I went back to the house in Brea again today to unlock the door for the buyer's appraiser. The appraisal only took 10 minutes but I was there for several hours since I was doing laundry as well. While waiting, I went and bought some stuff at Home Depot and washed the 4Runner. I think this is the last time I will check up on the house and do laundry (I just need to dispose of Kevin's mattress somehow). My parents are coming next week and then we're headed off to Taiwan. Hopefully escrow will close before I get back.

I sat for about 10 minutes in the empty room we used as an office. I remember spending an entire weekend plus a few nights just to paint the walls of the office and the guest room when we first bought the house. Now the room looks the same as it did three years ago except the carpet is blue instead of green. As I sat there, I felt a deep sadness... it's as if we never lived there. The only evidence that someone lived there are the indentations in the carpet from our furniture.

Sometimes I feel the past 6+ years was nothing but a dream. I would now occasionally wake up in the morning confused, wondering where I was [strange apartment] or whether I was really married for so long. Maybe this "life" now is a dream and I'll wake up any minute now...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

New Hire

Yay! The USC undergrad candidate that we offered my financial analyst position to accepted today. I think six of us interviewed each candidate (three senior directors and three senior managers) and most of us ranked her as #1. The only downside is that she won't be able to start until August 7th. Maybe I can give projects to one of the incoming MBA interns this summer until my new employee arrives.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

1990 Eta Kappa Nu Survey Results

I found this gem as I continue to unpack all my stuff at the apartment. At UCLA, I think I barely qualified for Eta Kappa Nu (Electrical Engineering Honor Society) one quarter so I quickly joined. I found the results of a survey we conducted in Winter of 1990 (n = 200+ upper division EE students). Some of the questions (and answers) were pretty funny.

7. Have you ever told a technical joke?
Yes 54%; No 46%
[OK, I got one. A passenger jet was flying in from Warsaw to New York. As it was coming in for a landing, the pilot said, "If you look out the window, you can see the Statue of Liberty." All the passengers rushed over to look causing the plane to flip and crash. The moral of the story? Keep your poles off the right half plane. Ha ha! Get it? Get it? I didn't the first time I heard it.]

11. What is your ethnic origin?
Caucasian 21.9%; Asian 63.5%; African 1.0%; Latino: 8.3%; Other 5.3%
[Maybe we should have had sub-categories (i.e., Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, etc.)]

20. Have yo ever tried to construct anything MacGyver has built?
Yes 6.5%; No 93.5%

27a. Do you plan to pursue a higher degree after graduation?
Yes 91.3%; No 8.7%

29. Would you prefer to marry another engineer?
Yes 10.9%; No 89.1%
[Good thing that Yes number is low; I don't thing there are enough female electrical engineers.]

31. Do you own or have you ever owned a Radio Shack mini-electronics laboratory kit?
Yes 31.8%; No 68.2%

32. Do you own any engineering laboratory equipment? (you may mark more than one)
oscilloscope 7.5%; curve tracer 2.5%; signal generator 6.0%
soldering iron 33.5%; multimeter 25.5%; power supply 16.0%

I never owned a Radio Shack mini-electronics laboratory kit. Maybe that's why I'm in finance now instead of engineering. BTW, I'm still not quite sure what a curve tracer is used for (something to do with transisters); I can't believe undergrad students owning one.

Tektronix 576 Curve Tracer ($2,500 used!)

Sauna Concert

Since the concert was outdoors, the City of Irvine set up a huge tent for the musicians and the audience in the city hall plaza. The only problem was that the rainstorm was over by Sunday morning and it was sunny this afternoon. The tent has a clear plastic roof which let the sunlight in then trapped the hot air inside. During practice, it felt like we were playing in a sauna... or outside in Singapore (only not as hot nor humid).

Hot air... trapped!

Luckily the orchestra played first and by the time we were on stage, the city hall building blocked most of the sun. The mayor of Irvine showed up and all the chairs in the audience was filled by 4pm. I thought the concert went well. I didn't play too many wrong notes but I was pretty tired at the end and missed a couple high notes.

Orchestra on-stage

Next concert is on May 3rd at the Irvine Barclay Theater.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Free Concert

I'm playing trumpet in the IVC Wind Symphony

Sold (maybe)

We accepted an offer on our house last week and hopefully we can sign escrow papers next week. The house has been on the market for almost two months but the offer was fairly close to our listing price. I still have some stuff inside the house I need to donate, give away, or toss in the trash.

Once the house is sold, it will be easier to close this chapter of my life and move on.

Wannabe Musician

So Tascam finally released a FW-1082 driver for Intel Macs and I just got a version of Cubase LE that works with the latest OS X.

Tascam FW-1082

I installed the new software and connected the FireWire cable to the Mac instead of the PC and everything worked! I still can't get the MIDI keyboard to work on the PC so now I don't have to worry about that anymore; everything is connected to the Mac Mini.

I attached a Shure BG3.0 microphone and my guitar to two inputs and recorded myself playing and singing. The Tascam/Cubase setup has either 24 audio channels or 8 audio/8 MIDI channels as default; maybe I'll add a bass track and importing some drum loops from GarageBand. I was surprised that everything worked on the first try although I sounded pretty bad. I'll try inserting a reverb effect on the vocals and EQ-ing both channels to see if I sound any better. I guess I'll need to stick with the finance thing as my day job for now. :)

For some reason, I can only get two inputs to work. I think I still need to upgrade the RAM from 512MB to 1GB which should also help everything run faster. I still need to try out boot camp to see if the 1.62 GHz Core Duo CPU runs Windows faster than the 1.6GHz Pentium M in my Dell D-410. Maybe I need to go to 2GB... you can never have too much memory.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Monday, April 10, 2006

Liar or Incompetent

Skilling Tells Enron Jury He's 'Innocent'

He repeated what he said twice before congressional panels in 2002, that Enron was "in very good condition in the middle of August (2001) when I left."

His lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli, asked if he had any clue that Enron would flame out in scandal less than four months later.

"Not in my wildest dreams, no. It's almost inconceivable now what happened," the ex-CEO said.

"Would you have left if you thought the company was going to experience the events that later transpired?" Petrocelli asked.

"No," Skilling replied matter-of-factly.


There is no way that a CEO would not know about something as big as the Enron collapse four months before it happened. He's either lying or incompetent as CEO. Skilling must have seen what was coming and jumped ship.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

100k Miles

I just noticed that the 4Runner has reached 100,000 miles on the odometer. It must have happened this Tuesday, probably when I was driving home in the rain.

We bought the SUV new in Aug-99, right after we got back from our honeymoon. It was a wedding gift from Shirley's parents (I think we just paid the sales tax) so I think it's the right time to replace it with something else. It took us 6 1/2 years to drive 100,000 miles. I've been getting pretty regular oil changes and service so it still runs pretty good. The only things broken are the power antenna and the 6-CD changer. I wonder if I need to fix that if I want to trade it in?

Wednesday, April 5, 2006


It's raining again; I don't remember it raining this much in SoCal. It's times like this that living in an apartment sucks. At least the walkpaths were not all flooded like last week.

I just got home from work. I was planning on going back to the house to put away the trash bins but it was too late to drive an hour round-trip. I'm still short-staffed and work is piling up since it's quarter end. I spent all afternoon and evening struggling with an Access database that I create last summer to calculate third-party royalty payments. I guess when you step back, the whole process is quite meaningless. We pay millions of dollars in royalties each quarter which we use in part to make millions more. I know all this impacts people's lives, including mine since I get a paycheck, but it just seems so detached from actually accomplishing anything of significance.

Maybe I'm just depressed now that I have no goals in life. It's been five or six weeks since I moved here and I still haven't put stuff away. It's just easier to step over stuff than to plan on where to store everything. I was going to look at some work stuff but I think I'll eat some ice cream and go to sleep.

The ogura (red bean) ice cream is really good; not so sure about the green tea one

Sigh... the rain is starting up again, this time with thunder. I hope my BBQ outside on the patio doesn't rust.


Oh, I got a coupon for a free Jamba Juice smoothie in the mail today. It was addressed to resident. Something unexpected and good for once.

Monday, April 3, 2006

UCLA Losing

UCLA is sucking right now, down 63-49 with 3:31 left to go.

I'm going to blame Leon for the loss.

Churchgoers Live Longer

I think it must be the exercise I get from moving heavy sound equipment every week at church.


Churchgoers Live Longer

Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Managing Editor
Mon Apr 3, 1:04 PM ET

There are many things you can do to increase your life expectancy: exercise, eat well, take your medication and ... go to church.

A new study finds people who attend religious services weekly live longer. Specifically, the research looked at how many years are added to life expectancy based on:

Regular physical exercise: 3.0-to-5.1 years
Proven therapeutic regimens: 2.1-to-3.7 years
Regular religious attendance: 1.8-to-3.1 years

Saturday, April 1, 2006


UCLA won again... and once again, I missed the game. I was checking the score on my Treo every two minutes though. This means I definitely have to miss watching the final game on Monday so UCLA can win.


Since I'm on the unofficial USC finance recruiting team, I've been getting a lot of resumes. The problem with getting 38 resumes at once and having to choose interview candidates is that most resumes, especially undergraduate ones, are poorly written and don't tell you much (I got a resume that had "sending faxes" as a job description). One of the things I've been doing is googling the resumes to find out more info. Sometimes that leads to class projects online or dean's lists and most times I get no hits, but other times it leads to Xanga or Blogspot sites. Well, one of my searches (and subsequent browsing) led me to a candidate's ex-boyfriend's Xanga site and he was able to track me down (I deleted his comment in the previous post because it had her name).

The main question is what to do with any information, either good or bad, you find on the Internet. I know you're not supposed to ask questions like age, marital status, religion, and other stuff during an interview but the candidate can offer the info themselves. One of our MBA interns this summer put on her resume that she was the starring actress in a Bollywood movie; of course I had to check that out. However, most people are not expecting future (or even current) employers to read their personal blog even though it's a public forum.

I guess the lesson is that you're not as private/anonymous as you think you are online. I'll need to remember to shut down this site (and my old Xanga account) if I start looking for another job, although there is a famous architect with the same name and he gets all the hits. :)


I've decided. After my parents leave in June from their visit, I'm going to trade in both cars and get an Infiniti FX35. The 4Runner was a wedding gift from the in-laws and the 350Z will always be Shirley's car.

I think I'll end up getting the blue one since the other color options are essentially white, gold, silver, gray, and black. The two cool colors (Autumn Copper and Beryllium) I really like cost an extra $4k.

I don't like the way Infiniti structures the option packages though. It appears that they're all interlinked so if you want one option, you have to get a whole bunch of other stuff that you may not want. I thought about getting the sports package ($1950) with the 20" pimpin' wheels but that requires the hands-free package ($600) which requires the touring package ($1300). I don't get it, why do I need to get a Bluetooth phone and a sunroof in order to upgrade suspension/wheels/tires? I'll probably end up only getting the towing hitch ($600) so I can carry my bike rack that I hardly use but have nowhere to store since I moved to the apartment. I think I can get the FX35 for less than $40k before trade-in.

In addition to the 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet, my boss also bought a Mercedes-Benz ML500. I got to drive that around the block too and it feels more like a luxury sedan than a SUV. He thinks that I should get one as well. I'm not sure if I want to spend the extra money for a V8 but the ML350 may be an option, althought the option choices are even more confusing than the Infiniti, and leather seats are not standard. I was also considering the Acura MDX but unless they come out with a new model for 2007, the MDX exterior looks kinda dated and boring. Finally, the Lexus RX350 models make you choose one of two $4k+ option packages so effectively raising the base price to about $44k. I still need to go and test drive all these SUVs too.

Sad Song

Everywhere I look I still see your face,
Each time I listen I can hear your voice;
At night I dream of how we used to be,
But each morning I wake,
I can't remember you...