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Showing posts from December, 2011

A New Year Card for You!

Dear [insert name here],

Ho ho ho! It's the end of 2011, and what a year it’s been!  So many wonderful things, so many terrible things, and another kitty in my life, oh my! And it comes with a meng! I hope your year has been as exciting as mine, and I hope this holiday season brings you joy and merriment. Let me share some of the highlights from 2011.

January opened with More of the Same -- same job, same living situation, same gloomy winter. Thankfully, I escaped half of February and March by being tossed into a political battle in Bangladesh. What?! I was so ticked that I wrote a pointed email that netted me a raise when I got back. Bonus!

One drunken afternoon in April, I texted a friend of a friend who I always secretly fancied. He responded enthusiastically. We watched a movie, had brunch, and he even took me to the symphony. Then we went all smoochy-smoochy. He asked to become Boyfriend in May. Magnanimously, I said yes.

Big Sister #1 got married in June! It was beyond spec…

Movie Review: Two Girls One Tattoo

Both women pictured above are the main reason to watch either version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, based on Stieg Larsson's posthumously published crime thriller trilogy. Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara play Lisbeth Salander, the badass antisocial near-genius hacker who helps a journalist solve a mystery of a missing girl, and more!

The journalist is played by Michael Nyqvist in the Swedish version and by James Bond Daniel Craig in the US version that I saw last night. The plot is straightforward: a wealthy man hires a disgraced journalist to find his niece who's been missing for 40 years. The journalist then teams up with the hacker who did a background check on him for the rich dude. Together, they bring justice to all the land. Or something like that. Also, there is rape. Ugh.

Both films are shot in Sweden...and that's the end of the glaring similarities. Director David Fincher, who brought us Se7en (yay!) and Fight Club (double yay!), kicks as much ass as Lisbeth …

Leaders and Fat Cells

Good leaders know their people's strengths and deploy them accordingly to accomplish goals. Great leaders care about their people, fight tooth and nail to get everyone through the storm, and win.

Here I introduce a great leader: Captain Fatcell, commander of all my fat cells:


Unlike the other fat cells in my body, cells that are unformed and loutish, Captain Fatcell is jacked. He's dressed for combat, he's got black gloves and combat boots, and is transported throughout my blood stream on the bodies of squashed undisciplined fat cells.

Once upon a time, Captain Fatcell was but an ordinary white fat cell residing in the subcutaneous layer of my cheeks, or possibly my thighs, pick one. Like all normal fat cells, he had a small nucleus, some cytoplasm, and a big ol' droplet of fat that made up 85% of his volume.

One day, as he was undergoing a routine lipolysis and preparing to go into gluconeogenesis, he encountered something that mutated his cellular structure. Scienti…

Kreesmas

Last night I discovered the joy of Just Dance 3. But first, because I know it's important to you, dear reader, let me run down my Christmas Day meals:

Breakfast: chicken biryani and pinakbet washed down with about a gallon of coffee.
Lunch: Duck (from Tokai restaurant). Mama had Lexus rolls.
Dinner: Holy Lord, let's not talk about that. I will only say that there was Pinoy spaghetti.
We went to a party with Mama's Philly barkada. I like these parties -- the people are hilarious, the food is good, and there's always something fun to do, like karaoke or, like last night, Just Dance 3, a dance game on the XBox Kinect. I danced my little heart out to "Party Rock Anthem," "Pump It," "I'm so Excited," "Price Tag," and who knows what else. Up to four players can go at a time, and our horrible dancing was compounded by the small space. We kept accidentally smacking each other as we energetically pumped our arms and wiggled our hips.

Death by Breakfast

Yesterday we began to methodically attack the chicharon (deep fried pork yum yum) that Mama apparently bought in bulk. After months of healthy living in Boston, I sat down after breakfast and felt my blood pressure go up and up and up. All I needed to complete the experience was some whiskey and tobacco, and then perhaps a shovel and a coffin.

This Christmas Eve morning, Mama prepped a salad and a vegetable-heavy dish (sinigang) to counteract the oily fatty heart attack that is our main meal. It was glorious. According to my math, I will live another 10 years if the pork doesn't kill me first.

That sound you're hearing isn't the sound of Christmas bells -- it's my arteries going CLANG! CLANG! CLANG!

Merry Christmas! HO HO HO!!!

Pre-Christmas Chatter -- with pictures!

Part 1: The Nova Scotia Tree...in Boston


Every year since 1917, the city of Halifax in Nova Scotia sends Boston a giant Christmas tree as thanks for being first responders in the Halifax Explosion. In that last year of WWI, a Belgian relief vessel and a French munitions carrier collided in Halifax Harbor. The carrier had a bunch of TNT, benzol, and other things that go boom. The explosion caused a tsunami wave that flooded the city. Fires quickly spread. Then a blizzard hit...for a week. It was a clusterf*ck. Local troops sent help immediately, as did the stalwart people of Massachusetts, who presumably used steamers and whales to get there as fast as they did.

To thank Massachusetts for the medical supplies, food, clothing, building equipment, workers, and for the New England Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins, Nova Scotia began the tree tradition. We get this 46-foot bad boy for free:

You're welcome, Halifax!
Part 2: How the Grinch Stole the Show
Boston actor Jerry Kissel tot…

Receiving: 2, Giving: 0

Should an employee give the boss a present? Does that count as sucking up? Or is it a nice gesture? What is the protocol?

As I pondered these earth-shattering questions, my boss called me into her office and handed me an enormous gift bag weighted down with goodies. Excellent! The question had been answered for me: bosses give their underlings presents! It underscores the neopatrimonialism inherent in certain corporate structures whereby the managerial entity secures loyalty and productivity through a sporadic material reward system. Or, my boss is nice and I'm not.

My lameness was further compounded when my preggers coworker gave me a little bag as "a small token." I opened it up and marveled at her thoughtfulness -- she remembered the single conversation we had where I gushed about Kiehl's lotion and lip balm.

I love my job.

Tech Woes

The above conversation happened this weekend. My issue was that the MacBook Pro is such a powerful machine, ideal for creating HD videos and drawing stunning images and haxx0ring and other high-tech fun. I mostly use it for email, web browsing, and watching the occasional YouTube, TV show, or movie. It doesn't seem like the best use for such an impressive machine. It seems like a waste!

#firstworldproblems

That is why!I pledge!To fully use! Its 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM! I have no idea what that means, but I think it's something about how solid the performance is and how pretty the images on the screen are! Yes, that must be it!

I was going to segue into a thoughtful discourse about the dilemmas of the human condition within a technology-driven society, but I'm too lazy proposals don't write themselves. So instead, I shall unveil...

NICOLE'S  NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS - TECH VERSION (PRE-ALPHA)
In…

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes: a Game of Shadows (2011)

What a ride! Sherlock Holmes: a Game of Shadows has Robert Downey Jr. channeling the more manic aspects of the popular fictional detective, with Jude Law back as the capable and sometimes comedic Dr. Watson. The stakes are higher this time -- a mastermind is manipulating European nations towards all-out war, and "the collapse of Western civilization" is sure to result if he is not stopped! "No pressure," Holmes says flippantly.

The fight scenes, mind games, and cool 1890's weaponry stand out in this sequel. The villain also shines. Jared Harris plays Professor Moriarty as a cool, evil man; or, as Holmes puts it, a morally insane narcissist. Oh, snap! Moriarty, Holmes' archenemy in the short story, outwits Holmes so many times that the outcome of their game is always in doubt. In 1893's "The Final Solution," Moriarty is written as Holmes' intellectual equal, which director Guy Ritchie shows to spectacular effect in a tense scene toward the…

The Return of the Cilia: a Former Smoker's Tale

Once upon a time, in a land far away called Vermont, stood a palace called Middlebury College. The very best and brightest children who did not get into their first choice university went to Middlebury for four years to be trained in many arts: writing, languages, filmmaking, painting, lacrosse, but mostly investment banking.

However, not everyone who went to Middlebury were sons and daughters of privilege. These peasants were called "international students." They came from far and wide, and were as different as could be. The South Asians liked to dance and eat and study computer science, economics, or biology. The Eastern Europeans drank too much coffee, sold weed, and scowled at everyone else. The Latin Americans attracted many admirers with their sexy accents and sexier dance moves.

The one thing that united these young intellectuals (hah!) was smoking. Together, they would huddle in the cold and draw comfort from the 4,000+ chemicals in their cigarettes. As a community,…

Nothing to Envy (2009)

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea is a hair-raising peek into the sorrows of North Korea. To write this book, Barbara Demick, Beijiing bureau chief of the L.A. Times, spent five years in Seoul and also did a controlled visit to North Korea. She tells the stories of a handful of North Korean defectors. I have handily summarized below their stories and relevant major themes:

Person Theme Mi-ran: Born to a family classified in the lowest rung of society because of her father's South Korean background. Was Jun-sang's girl for many, many years. Became elementary school teacher despite bad family background. Watched students die of starvation during the famine of the mid-nineties. Defected with family in 1998.The weight of history: After Japan's defeat in WWII, the US decreed the 38th parallel as the dividing line between the communist North Korea and capitalist South Korea. In 1950, North Korea invaded, leading to the Korean War. Ordinary citizens either fled north or…

'tis Ever the Season

falalalalaaa, lalalalaaaa~

My Filipino social conditioning dictates that the Christmas season starts in October and ends around January.  Meanwhile, Boyfriend ranted against the commercial bombardment that began here in November. He believed that Christmas programming should start only after Thanksgiving.

It's a bit hard to explain that I was raised in a culture that celebrates everything at the drop of a hat. What? The volcanic explosion that ejected 10 billion metric tons of magma didn't kill us? Party time!!! Say again? We kicked out a corrupt dictator and the military was on our side and nobody got hurt? Bust out those folding tables, we are roasting a pig and eating it!!! Eh? Our politicians are corrupt beyond redemption and an unconscionable number of people are living in abject poverty? Well, tomorrow is another day and maybe it'll be better than today! Hand me a party hat and that fresh coconut, I'm thirsty!

My old coworkers at BOOBS marveled at my unflagging …

Noodles for the Winter

In the days of long ago, in uncharted regions of the universe, lived a legend...the legend of Noodletron, Defender of the Hungryverse! (cue Voltron theme)

"Finishing move: LASER NOODLES!"
Hur hur hur. Speaking of lulz, my girl Shanana once laughed at me when I declared, "I need noodles for the winter!" I was mildly puzzled at her amusement, because I was being serious. In Japan, noodle stands dot the streets and a giant bowl costs ¥500 ($5). The first time I tried it I noted that the bowl was bigger than my head, so I thought I couldn't finish my ramen, but I ended up slurping all the noodles down like Jabba the Hutt consuming something small and squeaky with a tail. They were delicious, filling, and the best thing to eat during Japan's relatively mild winter. Thus, the concept of Noodles for the Winter was born.

Porter Square Exchange has a few noodle stands, and I attest their authenticity because the stalls are run by actual Japanese people. There's …

Harvard Shame

More like Harvard Fail. As in, I had an Epic Fail while I was at Harvard. But not when I was a student there. Nay, my life as a an MA candidate was uneventful, and I did indeed receive the coveted, oversized Latin diploma that I proudly keep in its giant red envelope under my cat's scratch lounge. Clearly, the sight of Sheba sharpening her claws in a cute little rhythm on the cardboard will deter diploma thieves. But I digress.

"What's that? You want this diploma under my scratch lounge? Come and get it!"
A couple of years ago, I was invited to come back to campus and be part of a panel about careers that my old program, Regional Studies, was running. I was totally stoked but pretended to not care. I'd just come back from a summer stint in Bangladesh, and I figured I'd chat casually about what I do. As a result, I - DID - NOT - PREPARE. What a HUGE mistake!!!

The big day came, and I scooted excitedly to the CGIS (Center for Government and International Studie…

Watch Out for Obsessive People

Personal experience has taught me that video games increase hand-eye coordination, self-confidence, and analytic skills. Thanks to years of gaming, I can throw with accuracy (e.g. rolled-up socks near my cat to get her off my work clothes), maintain excellent posture (boobs out, chin up, neck immobile), and coolly analyze whether or not purchase items ("Will this help me save the world? No? Then the money stays in the wallet, thank you.").

Did I study Japanese just so I can play Japanese RPGs (role playing games) in Japanese? Did I study abroad in Japan just so I can buy original Japanese-language GameBoy games? Did I buy an obscene amount of video game soundtracks during my Japanese adventure in Kyoto? No, those are just rumors. Also, have I used "Japanese" enough in one paragraph? I didn't think so. Japanese.

You see, I am a gamer. A special gamer. I'm a connoisseur of classic Final Fantasy games, meaning FFI through FFVI, none of that 3D CGI cut scene c…

Brain Fart Announcements

Brain Fart #1 brought to you by incessant "Win a Free iPad 2" ads, most recently on the company intranet:

Why can't I win anything? I never win anything! How come I can't get a free iPad 2?

My oldest sister has won a TV, a DVD player, a rainbow with matching unicorn, and the way she's going, she'll probably win a hybrid sports car at her office holiday party!

Why not meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?

Edit, 12/08/2011: Apparently, she also won a vacuum cleaner and a washing machine. She won one of those items in a national department store drawing! WHAT. Sure, God, no playing favorites, huh? (sulk) And my other sister won pizza in a raffle draw, but she claims that doesn't count because it was rigged. Divine rigging versus human rigging: the difference is that one gets you awesome electronics that last for years, and the other is consumed within five minutes.
Brain Fart #2 brought to you by obnoxious jewelry ads on TV:

Pfffffft. Real women wear this ring:


An Aes Sedai rin…

How to: Make Your Own External Hard Drive

Once upon a time, a princess and a frog prince went to the Micro Center to buy an external hard drive, to keep the holy MacBook Pro files backed up via Time Machine. But the prince, who ruled the kingdom of Do-It-Yourself and the duchy of You-Can-Get-That-For-Less, advised the princess to forget about paying $129.99+ for 500GB, and make her own external hard drive. So the princess, next in line to the throne of Okay-Honey-Whatever-You-Say, bought an enclosure.

You will need:

a hard drive* ($59.99, now $99.99 because of the flooding in Thailand, home of hard drives)screwdriver3.5" SATA to USB 2.0 enclosure ($15.99 on sale!)
*Boyfriend would like to make it known that he donated the hard drive, meaning I paid $0.**
**Note to self: do not blog while Boyfriend is peering over shoulder.

Step 1:  Insert the hard drive into the enclosure. Remember when you were a kid and had the game where you put the square blocks into the square holes and the round blocks into the round holes? Same thin…

Fleeeaaaadom!!!

Bug bites suck. They're itchy. They hint that you are dugyot. And because people react differently to bug bites, it's hard to figure out which bad boy did it, so figuring out the right solution becomes complicated.

I first noticed a bite on my right forearm on Monday. The next day I saw another one near my elbow. Yesterday I was irritably scratching a third one on my upper arm when it hit me: some tiny creature is feasting upon my delectable freesia-scented blood! Over fish tacos at Papagayo, I revealed my bug love marks, because I'm classy that way. Crispy, polite young woman that she is, said nothing, but Boyfriend instantly scooted as far away as his chair allowed. (Please note that I refused to watch Contagion with him because he would never touch me again.) He tried to use his iPhone to convince me that I had bed bugs, but ha ha ha, the signal is crappy where I work, so there! Besides, Crispy pointed out that bed bugs leave linear marks, and my bites were quite some …