Saturday, August 19, 2006

Boxing


I'm not in very good physical condition. I try to swim every day (or so), and I'm sure that is better than nothing, but I think it is too easy to be lazy in the pool. I can just splash from one end to the other without really getting my heart rate up.

Here's a sarcastic little clip I made almost exactly two years ago about my workout routine:



I used to ride a bike as my main form of transportation, but then I quit my job, and suddenly I had nowhere to go. I don't really go out to the pubs anymore, either. Almost all my friends have left, so I've no one to visit. There is just no reason to get on my bike now days. I guess I am not really into bike riding as an end in itself, but only as a mode of transportation. As soon as I had nowhere to go anymore, I stopped riding.

But I digress...

I was talking about how I'm not in very good shape. This is in large part because I drink too much beer all the time. It is also because I find it almost impossible to maintain a fitness regimen for more than a few days at a time. I want to be in good shape, but who's going to do the work?

Well, I recently took the plunge and committed myself to a fitness regime. In addition to my swimming, I've signed up for boxing lessons.

Yes. Boxing.

I know that for those of you who know me it will be hard to believe. I think that there are only three people alive who have ever actually seen me in a fight, and I think that involved more word play than fisticuffs.

All of that is irrelevent, anyway. I'm not in this to kick Marc Issac's ass (he's the guy I had the fight with in 7th grade--I didn't want to fight him, but he was being really antagonistic towards me, and all my friends--well, there were only a few to begin with--told me I had to fight him. So we fought. Neither really landed a punch. It ended. Massive embarassment ensued. We made up senior year, I think).

So, the fighting part of the whole boxing thing is coincidental. I just need someone to crack the whip over my ass and make me sweat a couple times per week. I could have joined an aerobics class (fag), or a yoga class (hippie fag), but instead I decided to take the most masochistic route and don the gloves.

I have now had two classes. I want to die. My entire body feels like it is full of tiny shards of broken glass. In addtion to my physical agony, I know that if I ever had to fight anyone, I would lose. I look like a string puppet guided by a drunk dyslexic when I try to throw combinations. To be honest, I look that way when I just try to thow a single punch. My arms go the wrong way, while my legs go an even wronger way. I can't breathe after two minutes jumping rope, and when the medicine ball lands on my stomach, it is with a combination of a squish and a thud, and then it proceeds to sink towards my spine. I have never sweated so much in my life. When I'm done with the class, it is as if I went swimming in my clothes. Even two hours after the lesson is over my pours are squirting out liquid like I was shot with a cartoon machine gun.

Today coach made me do terrible things with dumbells. It is likely that tomorrow I won't be able to move my arms. He didn't even tell me that I would eat lightning and crap thunder.

Good thing I went bowling last night, because it's going to be a while before I will be able to even lift a bowling ball again.

To give you an idea of the place I take my class, here's a little video of another class in the same gym (this is only the warm-up part of the workout, so no punches are thrown):

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hotel Grandeur, Macau



When in Macau, Jessica and I stayed at the Hotel Grandeur (its name will be changed soon to something really corporate sounding that I can't remember). It was nice. I don't know how many stars, but I liked it better (except for the lack of a view) than the big fancy place we stayed at in Kenting.

Macau


I went on a trip to Macau with my girlfriend, Jessica, last week. It was really great. Right now I'm too tired to describe it, but here is a link to some of our photos of the trip: Macau Photos.

You can also see a couple videos by following the link to You Tube.

When I get my notes and things organized (and when I get a few nights of decent sleep), I'll post some details about the trip.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Mahjong, Ma Zhong, Ma Jong???



No matter how you spell it, it comes up fun time for the whole family.

After four years in Taiwan I finally played mazhong (I choose the spelling closest to the pinyin system I learned) for the first time. It is basically like gin rummy or other card games where you have to pick up something at the start of your turn, and discard something at the end. A big difference is you play with tiles instead of cards. There are groupings of tiles that are analogous to suites in a deck of cards, but not on a one-to-one basis. There is also money involved, but I got pretty confused as to why I lost every round but only had to pay out one time, whereas other players won a couple of rounds but had to pay out multiple times. Chalk that confusion up to the beer, I guess.

Anyway, it was fun and I hope to play again and maybe I'll try to explain more about it in this godforsaken blog.

I FIXED IT!!!


Remember before how I was whining about how I can't use Firefox to watch any videos on YouTube? Well, it has been driving me crazy (short trip) ever since my friend Bernie--who, by the way, has a wonderful blog called "Snirkles"--told me that he uses Firefox and has not had any problems with watching videos on YouTube.

He was basically telling me that it was MY problem (an "m.p."), not Firefox's problem (an "f.p.").

I went nuts and uninstalled and reinstalled Java, Flash, and Firefox three or four times each. I changed every possible setting. I uninstalled any and all extensions for Firefox. Still couldn't watch the vids.

Then, tonight, I was searching for an answer online. Unfortunately, I have very limited understanding of technical things, so most of what I read makes no sense at all. Still, I had narrowed things down to something called "chrome." Now, I still don't know what "chrome" is, but my Java console was giving me the message that something was wrong with this chrome business, and furthermore, this something that was wrong was related to something called "flashblock."

Ding!

I recalled that back in the misty recesses of history I had once installed an extension called Flashblock. Its purpose is to stop all Flash animations from executing until you give the go ahead (thereby speeding up your browsing experience). Well, I had found it an annoying extension, so I uninstalled it long, long ago. Since then I've uninstalled Firefox a number of times, re-installed Mozilla, uninstalled Mozilla, installed Opera, uninstalled Opera, re-installed Firefox, and uninstalled all of the extensions for Firefox.

Live and learn. It seems that, like so many programs that end up on our computers these days, Flashblock never really gets fully uninstalled unless you go in and manually delete certain lines of code in certain files. In fact, Firefox is the same way. It might seem gone, but if you uninstall it and then re-install it, you'll find that all your bookmarks and other settings are right back where they were when you uninstalled.

Well, I'm no programmer, so I just went in and started deleting stuff. I knew that what I was doing could cause me some serious trouble, but god damn it, I was ready to toss the whole machine out the window. Macintosh was looking better and better to me every minute.

Anyway, after I deleted some files I restarted Firefox and went to YouTube and now I can see videos again.

Praise Him!

Spam


I have a question about SPAM (the unwanted email type, not the edible type):

Why do I keep getting it?

Yahoo and Gmail both boast about how they are agressively going after spammers and doing their utmost to eliminate spam from the internet. Despite all of this, I get about twenty spam messages per day in my Yahoo account and about ten per day in my Gmail account (which I have only used once or twice). And the thing that really bugs me is that they are all coming from about three or four sources. Sure the names are different, but the subject lines are the same. Further still, I have been getting the same spam emails from the same spammers for about three years.

Can't someone track these creeps down and take away their computers or something? I mean, they seem to be leaving a clear enough trail.

I know, both Yahoo and Gmail filter most of them out into a special folder, and I can just delete them any time I want, but they are still there, and I know they are, and it drives me crazy.

Maybe for me it is a short trip.

Still, I am tired of being told that my order is ready for shipment, or that my home loan application has been approved, or that I can save 80% on various misspelled pharmaceuticals. Please. The last thing I need is Viagra--don't I have enough trouble without, you know, that? I also do not want to "check it out" or to "shoot like a film star" or "increase my volume by 500%" (well, actually that might not be so bad).

The one that really gets me, and I've been getting it in various forms for at least five years, is the one from some high-ranking bank official in some african country who wants me to help him get some money out of the country. I will have to allow him to access my bank account, of course, but after that I am guaranteed to receive a huge some of money tax free. This goes beyond spam and actually enters the realm of fraud.

Now, as preposterous as these claims and sales pitches are, the spammers wouldn't send them if someone didn't respond. I don't know who to hate worse: the spammers or those people who are stupid enough to fall for their scams.

Or maybe I've got it all wrong... I mean the "hate" thing. Maybe I'll start responding to each unsolicited email I get with "I love you."

Nah.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

One of My Little Bastards

I was just going through a bunch of old mail and cards and stuff, and I came across one from a student I had last summer named Kevin. He was one of the worst behaved kids I've ever had to deal with, and to make matters worse, his mom put him in summer school both morning and night for two months. It was supposed to be a one month program, either morning OR evening, but I assume that he was such a terror that his mom put him in full time just to get him out of the house.

At the end of summer, he gave me a gift. It was a bag of those fancy Pepperidge Farm cookies, but he had obviously kicked and stomped the package all the way to school, as the cookies inside had been reduced to dust. Accompanying the cookie dust was a St. Patrick's Day card (dated August 25, 2005) with a note from Kevin himself (I wish I had a scanner so I post a picture of it as well):

Thank you Mike for teaching me so many English. from: Kevin


At least he acknowledged how many English I taught him.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Golf, and How I'm Not Good at It

There used to be a Putt Putt golf course on Lake City Way, right across the street from the Italian Spaghetti House. I think it was on 98th or something. Anyway, I went there a few times. I don't really remember it very well, but I know I went there at least one time with my next-door neighbor Erick Jones (yes, the "ck" is correct--he was quite proud of the fact that he had both consonants in his name). I also remember being there once and hearing the theme song to "Welcome Back Kotter" over the p.a. system.

I was never very good at putt putt (aka miniture golf). This fact has never bothered me much.

My first exprience with real golf was just a couple years ago--long after the Putt Putt course had turned into a Royal Fork, then a King's Table, then who knows what. My friend Brent Felt got himself married, and all the guys went and played golf the morning after the bachelor party. I spent most of the time driving the cart, but at one point someone put a driver in my hand and I took a swing. The club hit the ground about a foot behind the ball, skipped up and smacked the ball from a weird angle, sending it off into the bushes a few feet to the side of the tee. I gave up and got back behind the wheel.

It has been a few years since then, and I've not touched a club, or even thought about it. Yesterday, however, my friend, Ben, asked if I wanted to get some beers and go out to a driving range near Nan Liao (a town on the coast). So we got some beers and went out there.

I sucked.

Well, to be fair, I sucked really bad at first, but then sucked a little less later. This was with an iron. It wasn't until later that we switched to drivers, and then my sucking reached its zenith.

I was having real trouble getting the ball in the air. I got off a few nice shots, but for the most part I was hitting grounders down the first base line. Then, just when I was feeling like I'd got the swing under control, I smacked a ball nice and square, but the head of the club broke off and sailed out thirty yards or so into the range. They had to make everyone stop hitting balls so that I could run out and grab the head of the club. I brought the broken club into the pro shop (from where I borrowed it) and they took it back and neglected to offer me a new club.

At least they didn't ban me.

I'm sticking to bowling from now on.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

What's Up With MY Firefox?


So, after my last post, my friend Bernie commented and said that he uses Firefox and can see videos on You Tube with no problem. This piqued my interest in what the problem might be, so I went into the options in Firefox and made sure that Javascript was enabled. Then I downloaded the latest Flash player. Then I rebooted.

Nothing. Still no videos.

So I uninstalled Flash, uninstalled Firefox, and uninstalled Java. Then I downloaded new versions of all three, and checked to make sure all the settings were as required.

Nothing. Still no videos.

I read a few things online, and tried going into the Java controls to enable applet tag support for Mozilla and Netscape, but I got a message saying I couldn't do that. Seems you have to have Mozilla installed, not Firefox.

So I uninstalled Firefox again and installed Mozilla. Then I enabled applet tag support for Mozilla.

Nothing. Still no videos.

Now, if other people are watching videos on You Tube using Firefox (as my so-called friend claims he is doing), then I should be able to as well. And it shouldn't be this difficult to do so.

There must be something wrong with my computer, some setting deep inside the bloated Microsoft code that is keeping me from achieving my goal.

If anyone has a clue what I can do to fix this, let me know before I toss the whole damned machine out the window and buy an abacus.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Mozilla Problems

I usually use Mozilla's Firefox web browser because, well, Microsoft is evil. Unfortunately, Firefox doesn't do well with You Tube videos, so if you want to see the vids on my blog, or on my You Tube page, you'll have to use Internet Explorer or something else besides Firefox.

This is too bad, because Firefox is otherwise a really cool browser. You can even add an extension that will block all of the advertisements. That way you don't have to wait for all those useless pictures and flash animations to download just so you can read your email.

Anyway--use alternate browsers when you can, but Internet Explorer when you have to. That's my opinion.

My Girlfriend Cooks


Did I mention that my girlfriend is an excellent cook?

Someone pinch me.

She also likes to take pictures of every meal we make and eat. You can see the pictures of some of these meals on my yahoo photos page.

Here are a couple clips of her cooking a splendid seafood dinner:




I'm in charge of the blender:



I also do fairly well with eggs:



Even though I spent almost a year in Spain, she makes a better tortilla:



She makes good Chinese food, too, including many kinds of dumplings:



She bakes:



Makes doughnuts:



And she is smoking hot. And I love her.

Bloggity Blog Blog

Blog blog blog.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Cluster Map

I put a really cool thing on this blog. It is a cluster map. Scroll around and you'll find it. It's a tiny map of the world with little red dots that show up when someone looks at my blog. I can see that people all over the U.S. have looked at my blog (including Kodiak--that's my sis), some people in South Africa, of course Taiwan, Spain (I know one of them is Nedra), I think the Netherlands, England, India, and I think Canada, but the dot is right on the border so it's hard to tell.

Anyway, if you look at my blog (which you would have to be doing to be reading this), look for the cluster map and see if you can see yourself. Stick your head out the window and wave.