Saturday, April 03, 2004

Letter from Iraq

The old Saddam bills above were sent to me as souvenirs by Jocelynn, who's currently deployed with the 1st Marines Division in northern Iraq. She wrote, "It's not so bad here except for the daily mortar rounds that hit our compound. Thank goodness that I've been lucky that I still have all my body parts; moreover, that I'm still alive. Hehe." She's also been "taking mad pictures like I'm a tourist out here" and promised to post all of them online when she returns.

Lastly: "I've been bathing in untreated, nonpotable water. We have a 'shower-at-your-risk' policy enforced. I mean the water looks clean. It's not dark or muddy; it's clear. It's just it stinks a little bit. I heard the water is drawn straight from the Euphrates River, untreated, unfiltered."

It's a good thing to see so much of her letter focusing on the more mundane aspects of her life, like photo-taking and showering, as opposed to horrifying and unpleasant things. I guess the less exciting it is for her, the better off she will be.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Hip Hop Questions

While flipping through my 500 cable channels, I came across yet another one of those rap videos with an obvious fixation on butts, which is totally understandable. However, I've never understood why it's necessary for some hip hop honeys to "make your booty touch the ground!" or "make your booty clap!" Suggestions?

Neighborhood Watch

Check out FundRace 2004, a great site which allows you to see your neighbor's political donations. Pretty fascinating stuff. Based on my neighbor search, there seems to be a good number of Bush supporters living near me, most of whom pitched in $2000 maximum allowable contributions. Hmm, I wonder if I have any closet Republican friends :)

While putting in random names, I came across this. I'm pretty surprised that a cashier would be able to contribute $1000. Interesting.

The Power of Ten

I think I saw a video clip similiar to this in Physics 42 my sophomore year, but it is still pretty cool.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Girls and Technology...

A couple of weeks back, my sister told me she and her husband got a new digital camcorder. As a techie I of course had to ask her for the lowdown on the specs.
"What brand is it?" I asked.
"It's a Sony, I think," she said.
"Which model? Is it a MiniDV camcorder? How much did you get it for?" I flooded her with more questions.
"I have no idea, "she sounded somewhat flustered and unsure.

That exchange of futility totally reminded me of that time in Serra when Mike and I went to check out Rita's bad ass computer system, which included a sweet 17" LCD (this was before LCDs were as common as they are now) and those Altec Lansing speakers with the really cool design.
"Wow, that's a pretty big subwoofer, " Mike exclaimed.
"Is that what it is?" Rita sounded confused.
Apparently, she didn't know what the big, black box under her desk was even though she had had her computer system for a few months already.

Now, my sister and Rita are two of the smartest people I know. Rita can kick my ass at CS problem sets and got into Harvard Law (I will savor for all eternity the smug look on my face when I say, "According to my friend, who went to Harvard Law...") while my sister attended the School of Pharmacy at the University of Michigan. But they, like most of the women I know, probably have absolutely no interest in the nitty, gritty details of electronics and gadgets. It's just really baffling to me because women obviously enjoy their iPods and digicams as much as us guys, and yet most of them don't really care much about the specs that distinguish the truly awesome, must-have toys from the soon-to-be paperweights. I have asked girls who OWN and USE their digicams such simple questions as "What's the resolution?" And I have seen the glazed look in their eyes.

On the other hand, I went to a flea market with Caroline yesterday and she spent a good 15 minutes at the cosmetics table picking out tubes, flasks, and glasses of "stuff." I took one glance at all the labels on the table and gave up trying to understand the purpose of each "thing." I mean, what the hell is a foundation? Or an eye liner? How and why does one "line" one's eyes? Do our pores really get that clogged up and need to be cleansed that often? Don't even get me started on the SPF indices on lipsticks! I was having nightmarish flashbacks of the time I got completely lost in Sephora while trying to buy some cosmetics as presents for my mom's friends in China (longggg story). The bewildered expression on my face probably resembled that of a caveman who was just shot out of a wormhole into the 21st century.

"Excuse me, I need help selecting some skin lotion for my mom's friend, " I asked the saleswoman.
"Ok, how old is she? What is her complexion like? Does she have any kind of allergies...." She peppered me with a stream of questions.
"[Gulp]," I replied.

However, my cluelessness stems from the fact that I never had to use any of this cosmetic stuff. I am a man and most of us men get soap from Safeway, not cucumber melon moisturizing body wash from Crabtree and Evelyn. I never even thought of getting scented candles for my place before Caroline suggested it. After all, I associated candles with power outages.

Since girls derive as much benefit as us guys out of all these electronic gadgets, why then aren't they as interested in the details as us? Of course, I'm making a huge generalization, but I think there is still an obvious difference between men and women. What gives?