Saturday, January 10, 2004

Thursday Night

I worked my ass off like I had never worked before at any of my previous jobs. It almost felt like I was back at Stanford again taking some monstrous CS class that was about to push me beyond the edge of sanity.

At 6:00 Phil called me to see if I wanted to have a quick dinner with him. Eager to take a break from all that programming, I went with him to dinner. We wandered a few blocks in midtown and settled on TGI Fridays. We regretted that decision the moment we saw the ridiculous prices. The people sitting around us gave us weird looks after hearing our loud guffaws. How can one not laugh at the absurdity of a $14 chicken sandwich at a TGI Fridays? Or a $14 BBQ chicken salad? Or $3 glass of ice tea? It must be the midtown luxury tax.

After wolfing down our food and having a few hearty laughs, we rushed back to the company and started working again.

8:30: I left for the PAC-10 alumni happy hour, which was being held at Cibar from 7 to 10 near Union Square. I would not have known about it had Maribel, who's the Stanford NYC alum activity coordinator and who also happens to work at my company, not sent out an email a day earlier and then reminded me again.

9:00: I arrived at Cibar and started looking for any recognizable face that would introduce me to his/her friends, who would then introduce me to their friends, and so on. In other words, I was trying to hunt down that elusive "in" person that would open up the party to me. No luck. No such luck at all. Maribel was nowhere to be found. All I saw were strangers looking like they were having a great time socializing with each other. I roamed from the entrance all the way to the end of the bar and still couldn't find a single person that I had ever met in my entire life.

I ordered a beer, which set me back $8. (Note to self: find something to do at night in Manhattan other than blowing money in bars). I sipped my Bass and bid my time, hoping Maribel, or Ghazelle (the cute class of 2000 Persian girl working at the UN that I had met at the last PAC 10 happy hour), or Josh (a guy from my class that I had also met at the last happy hour) would show up. They never did. Maybe they did show up but left before I arrived.

Normally, I don't have problems talking to people. I'm usually pretty social and can strike up a conversation with anyone on every conceivable topic, from theocracy in Iran with Ghazelle to investment bank recruiting with Maribel to photography with Josh. But I can't just walk up to a group of total strangers who seem to be in their own little world and start talking. That would just be too weird for me.

9:30: after wandering around the bar a few more times in vain, I tried to finish my beer so I could leave. All of a sudden, the cute Asian girl standing next to me, who was engaged in what seemed like an exciting conversation with her girlfriend and another guy, lifted up her shirt and showed off her purrty perky breasts.

I almost dropped my beer.

Her girlfriend and the other dude started laughing and exclaimed, "You really have fucking great breasts!" So I hanged around for 5 more minutes just out of curiosity. Then I decided to leave because, let's face it, what could I have added to that conversation? "Nice tits!"? Besides, the unexpected nudie show, though only so brief, somewhat made up for my shitty night, so I was pretty content to go.

10:15: after wasting some time in Circuit City looking at a bunch of digital cameras, and then remembering my new year's resolution to not waste money on gadgets, I went to the Virgin Megastore next door to check out the huge sale. I ended up buying Bjork's "Vespertine" album for $10 and then went home. I can't believe I waited so long to get this hauntingly beautiful album. Bjork's voice is just out of this world, sounding heart-achingly fragile at one moment and then morphing into a blast of pure energy the next.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004


Recently, there have been way too many strangers visiting my blog because of "Blacks on blondes" search engine hits. Stop it people!!

Bush in 30 Seconds

I just checked out the 15 finalists for's "Bush in 30 Seconds" ad competition. Some of these ads are pretty clever and well done. I cast my vote for WHAT ARE WE TEACHING OUR CHILDREN?" because it's so darn funny and tragic at the same time. The polygraph and the desktop ads are also persuasive.

Ridiculous Cellphone Offer

After seeing this offer, I think I should have waited a little longer before switching to T-Mobile from AT&T.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

A Letter

Dear T-Mobile Customer Relations,

On September 21, 2003, I purchased a Samsung X105 phone and also signed up for the “T-Mobile Get More 600 Nationwide Minute Plan with Unlimited Nights” as a first time subscriber at As a result of the poor reception I was getting with the X105 phone, which I thought was caused by the phone, I contacted to exchange the X105 for a Sony/Ericsson T610 instead. A customer service representative from Amazon instructed me to order the T610 from the website WITHOUT a T-Mobile plan since I had activated the plan earlier when I purchased the Samsung phone. I asked him if this would jeopardize the $100 rebate on the T610 phone because my invoice for the new phone would not show that I had activated a plan with the phone. He subsequently transferred me to a T-Mobile customer service representative, who assured me that T-Mobile would honor the rebate as long as I didn’t send in the rebate for the X105.

I ordered the T610 and then returned the X105 to Amazon without any problems. Because I had given out my new number to family and friends already, I decided to keep the old SIM card from the X105.

A couple of weeks ago, when I was filling out the rebate form for the T610, I decided to call the T-Mobile rebate center (877-311-8853) just to confirm that the rebate would go through. A rebate representative told me that my rebate would NOT be approved because I should have activated the T610 phone with a new account instead of keeping the old account that I had gotten with the X105. After I repeated to him what the other T-Mobile representative had told me earlier in September, he apologized and said that the other representative should have informed me of this technicality. In any case, he said I wouldn’t be eligible for the rebate and suggested that I talk to a regular T-Mobile representative about getting a $100 service credit instead.

After I spent 30 minutes being on hold and explaining my situation to another T-Mobile representative, he apologized profusely and transferred me to his supervisor. Despite her repeated apologies, the supervisor refused to give me the service credit, even after acknowledging the first CSR’s oversight. When I offered to go through the hassles of opening a new account and getting a new number, she told me I would still need to keep the current account and pay for it as well, a remedy I find entirely unacceptable, which is why I’m writing to you in hope of rectifying my problem.

I bought the phone and signed up for the service almost 4 months ago in good faith, with the expectation of receiving the $100 rebate that was promised to me. Now I find myself out of $100 because of a technicality that a representative from your company had neglected to inform me.

T-Mobile’s reputation for providing the best customer service was one of the main reasons that I chose your service. However, this whole rebate experience has completely changed my opinion of your company, an opinion that I will not hesitate to share with all my friends and family members. I will also not forget the hours that I have wasted fighting for the money that I am entitled to in the first place when it’s time to make a decision on whether I should renew my service contract eight months from now.

Thank you very much for having the patience to read through my excruciatingly detailed letter. It certainly was a chore to write :) I hope to hear from you soon.

What Kind of Asian are You?

While cleaning up my desktop, I came across this thing that BK sent to me a few months back.

Monday, January 05, 2004

New Year's Resolutions

1.) Spending lockdown: My credit card bill for the last 2 months totaled almost $2000!! Granted, half of that was spent on airplane tickets to MN (for Christmas) and CA (for MLK weekend), as well as dinners with Dad when he came to visit for Thanksgiving. Then there are the cable, cell phone and utilities bills that pile up every month. I think the most effective way to minimize my bills is to avoid getting any new expensive tech gadgets this year, unless I can get them at a super discount of course.

2.) Be more productive in my spare time: It's been a year and a half after college graduation, yet I still feel like I have no direction in life. After reading millionaire Mind, a fascinating book written by a marketing professor who compiled responses from responses to detailed questionnaires sent to almost 800 millionaires, I feel a renewed sense of urgency. A rekindled competitive spirit.

I need to devote more time every day to doing something that will either make me rich and successful or happy and fulfilled, or both. This means reading more books, learning about investing, communicating with my relatives more often, doing more fun things with friends. Anything but sitting on my ass at home watching TV, although I plan to continue enjoying HBO since "It's Not TV" after all.

I will set aside at least one hour each day for activities that will be either professionally or socially productive.

BTW, I highly recommend millionaire Mind, which contained some quite interesting facts and advice. For instance, the 733 millionaires were asked to rate 30 success factors. Here are the first 5:

1. Being honest with all people.
2. Being well disciplined
3. Getting along with people
4. Having a supportive spouse
5. Working harder than most people

"Having a high IQ/superior intellect"? Number 21 on the list, below "being physically fit." Most of the millionaires surveyed in this book consider themselves of possessing average intelligence. Some even did poorly and/or flunked out of college. The author has a 900 club for millionaires who scored below 900 on their SAT.

"Graduating near/at top of my class"? Dead last on the list.

Another lesson I learned from the book is that the best boss I can have is me. I can't and shouldn't be content with a 9-to-5 job that can be taken away from me at any time by cheaper bodies in India or China. I need to seek out new opportunities and capitalize on them.

Last but not least, I will only be successful if I really love what I do, which currently isn't the case.

3.) Work out: I really need to get off my lazy ass and start working out every day. Although joining a health club will entail yet another monthly bill, the money spent will be well worth it. I wonder if I can pull off waking up an extra hour early every morning to work out so my mind will be more alert and focused for the workday ahead. Of course, this would require going to bed BEFORE 1 AM every day, WAY BEFORE.

4.) More volunteering: It always feels good to do good. Because my Big Brother program has not been going well (I have only seen my little brother once since October), I need to find more volunteering opportunities. Last night at dinner Caroline suggested a few websites to check out for more information.

5.) National Lampoon's European Vacation: Last summer I finally conquered the Great Wall, as well as some really nasty public bathrooms. This summer or late spring I want to go on a little backpacking adventure through Europe and visit as many cities as I can, from Athens to Rome. BK? Tolu? Fan? Srini?

6.) Eat more fruits and vegetables.

7.) Annotate and publish the remainder of my China pics online before Sachin posts his India pictures.