Thursday, August 31, 2006

Younger than what you think

Hoho.... I met a Staples customer at the Granville Island Market @ UBC Marketplace, and chatted with him about the new laptop bag that he purchased. Then, the question popped out - where do you live? Okay, so I said, "I'm living on campus just back there at the University Apartments, but I'll be moving to Totem Park soon."

Guess his response:

"Are you an advisor?"

In my head, I'm thinking, what?! Me? I'm first year man!

"No, actually, I'm first year, gonna do science..."

Hoho, I seem older than I really am, so I'm younger than what you think. Then again, I'll be one year older than the rest in my class.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Today was an efficient day, I'd say. Not to bad, not too good. Scored two ESP sales, managed to do one transfer, sold a computer (that's one of the ESPs), and helped lots of customers get what they wanted.

I found that the secret is to take things at your own pace. Much the way Katie does it - no rush, no fluster, no stress. Just take it at your own pace.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Another tiring day

Right, I wonder if I'll be able to get past a week that lasts like this week.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Okay, so things have been cleared up between me and Uncle Ken. I called him to apologize, and we thrashed things out. All cleared.

One thing I realized is that man cannot blame inanimate objects for whatever happens, for man's problems stem from man's nature. Inanimate objects merely provide the trigger, but we, having free will and choice (if it isn't an illusion), have the cognitive ability to choose not to interact with the inanimate object. So never blame the computer if anything happened to the computer. In fact, never blame anybody. Focus on solving the problem, and identifying why the problem occured, but never blame anybody. Just investigate it, solve it, and move on. Lesson learned, let's move on.

Moving on...


I've learned a few lessons from this incident where I agreed to help Uncle Ken. Here they are.

1. Never agree to help without thinking.
When I spoke to Zhang Yi over MSN, his advice was this - listen carefully to what God says to your ear. Indeed, taken from that point of view, one must reflect over whether or not one has the capability to help others or not. Recklessly agreeing can only bring upon disaster for yourself.

When I took Uncle Ken's printer, I told him I could sell it, so he thought he could get rid of something that he didn't need that was in his house. But I agreed without thinking. It hasn't been sold all this while, because I haven't had time to put a picture of it on the web. Now, I have to disappoint him by giving him the printer back while I move out of my place into Totem Park.

I lost Uncle Ken's receipt, and now I can't find it back. This is really biting my head, for I had agreed to take his receipt to help him with the mail-in rebate, and so I have responsibility over it. But no, I lost it. Hence, I know for one thing, keep important documents to yourself, and give others only copies. I should (1) never had agreed to take his receipt and (2) not lost it, since I already took it.

3. If pressed in a corner for help, say no.
When Uncle Ken brought in his UPC barcode and receipt to mail out, he really put me in a spot. I was at work, dealing with customers, and he was asking me for a personal favor. Additionally, I had other customers in line waiting for my attention. Now, I'm no owner of a Staples store, and neither am I in a position of power, so for me to be dealing with personal things like that is wrong. It is wrong. But rather than take a step back and think clearly about what I'd be getting into, I said "yes" straight away. Ended up, I mailed his stuff 4 days late. Thankfully, it was still within the time bracket allowed for him to get back his rebate, but I'm not risking doing such stuff again.

Then again, when I go to Owl Drugs, if he needs to tend to a customer, I'll let him go, and keep myself entertained on the side. Or else, I'd try to help out - dusted the products a few times too.

4. Say "no" to minute things, for things that you know that they can do.
Mailing out a rebate form? Man, it can't get too inconvenient. I wonder why I even agreed to it. All I had to do was to give him the UPC barcode, and he could do it, but he wanted me to do it. I feel so dumb agreeing to that request which, in the end, I dragged for 4 whole days.

Overall, I'm actually quite mad, not at Uncle Ken, but at myself, for being an idiot in agreeing to minute, small things that he asked me to do, and for agreeing to help him out without considering the consequences for myself. Thinking back, there are many questions to ask oneself:

(a) Are you capable enough to help?
(b) More importantly, are you dedicated enough to help?
(c) Most importantly, do you have the time to help him thoroughly?

If the answer to any of these questions are no, say a prayer, and move on. It's useless to help a person if you can't follow the assistance through. Oh, and don't forget, tell that person nicely that you can't help, so you don't disappoint him in the future.

What's wrong with me?


And so I've been doing that. Well, okay, not 3 times daily in a disciplined manner, but rather at very frequent and random times, I discover something new about myself. Here's the latest.

I've been getting very easily irritated. Perhaps cocky as well. A renewed sense of confidence that came from working at Staples has suddenly bloated and exploded within my head. Suddenly, I feel like I'm not the old person I was.

When people came to me for help, I'd help, without thinking or asking for returns or favors. Then, I degenerated to a state where I constantly thought about favors, even though I don't ask for them. Now, I blatantly refuse to help people. Leon comes asking me for help looking for a room, and my immediate thought is, why me? I'm not searching for one... Uncle Ken comes and calls me every 2 or 3 days with some new computer problem, just because I said "free tech service for buying it from me". Yeah, hell man, I said free, but not necessarily at your beck and call. Even paid service works at the convenience of the technician.

[Heck. I hate dependency. Man must learn to stand on his own feet, while still trusting something higher to work things out.]

Yet here's the paradox - once I put myself in their shoes, it seems all so natural to react like that. Leon would need, desperately, a room, for his once-trustworty landlord has thrown him out; for him, he must move out by Oct 1, no later. Uncle Ken detests failure the way I detest dependency, and so would rather have everybody do things for him rather than he do things on his own.

[No, no, you're getting torn away from your principles. Dependency is not a good thing. Cut it.]

Then again, I helped Lulu with Xuyue today. Perhaps I was happier to help her, in a sense, because I know she's at the minimum not the kind who'll cling to a dependable person. She'll give people space, the way she herself needs space. (At least that's my own preliminary analysis; I don't know her well.) I was glad that she made it on time too, rather than drag her feet and be late. Exceeded my expectations for a person. She would match well with Xuyue, for he needs some disciplining on that part. (XD hope he doesn't see this entry...) I guess I was alright doing this deed for it was convenient - I had control over when, how and where I could help.

No, no, it's settled. I'm sticking to my guns - I detest dependency, and I'd rather people give me space to breathe, for I need space. Likewise, I'd give you space to breathe too, for I'd not cling on to you like shrink-wrap. Everybody should learn how to, at the minimum, stand on their own feet and take care of themselves.

And, like I've learned from BSG and from Steve Jobs, trust something higher to connect the dots for you.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Wireless Set Free

Browsing from Starbucks is a very new experience to me. Never did I realize how fun it'd be.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Despair and Misery

Looking back at photos of myself when I was younger, I notice something.


Smiles always permeate photos. It's a natural reaction towards things that we know can be kept for a long time - we want to retain happy memories, not sad ones. Especially with the advent of photography, we know that we want to keep happy things to view, not sad things. It's just human.

But when I looked at photos of myself when young, it seemed as if everybody in the photos were all happy to be around me. It seems, from the faintest of my memories, that those were the good times. (Yes, this is me sounding as if I'm a retiree speaking...) Times when we could shamelessly hug our parents and squeeze them without suffocating them, when we could smile with two missing front teeth and nobody would poke fun. It contrasts very starkly to what I'm seeing nowadays.

As a nineteen year old teenager, I realize I'm becoming more and more sensitive to problems that occur in the world. It's a process of discovery, indeed. I see families in situations worse than mine. Some are separated from their parents, others have two living parents but are torn between them two being separated. At least I know with certainty that I'll never see my dad again, for he's no longer alive, but others have mothers and fathers alive, but cannot see them. Is that not a bigger torment than what I've gone through?

In a sense, having one less parent has been a liberation too. I am thankful for meeting up with other people willing to take over at least part of a paternal role in my life, people like Uncle Poh Bin. And others, for being willing to communicate with me and do things with me, people like Junning, Zhang Yi and Zhiming; they have been friends, good friends so far, even though they are at least 7 years older than me. I have another buddy who jokes with me the worst kind of jokes you'd ever hear - Guo Jing. But still, none replace the fatherly role that's left.

I spoke to Uncle Poh Bin two nights ago. He told me about his eldest brother, who is actually his closest sibling. Of 11 brothers and sisters, he and his eldest brother happened to share the same bed when they were younger, so they developed a special bond. 6 years apart, the elder one would always give him advice, one-on-one, just like the way Uncle Poh Bin does for me. I'm nobody to him, except the fact that I kept forgetting to turn off the lights when I stayed at his place (which is what he remembers me for), yet he is willing to dispense his life's experience to me whenever he deems it relevant to my life. (Just in that same conversation, he talked about many things, of which I remembered to (1) Invest in property whenever I have spare cash, and (2) Always keep an eye out for the sensitive spots of other people.)

Anyways, that was a digression. (I just needed an outlet to remember it properly.) Despair and misery surround me in this world; is there light? Is there a light that can shine a path through for us as a human race? Despair and misery - twin themes that sum up one of the truths of existence - suffering. I see broken families, I see stressed colleagues, I see lonely souls, I see needy people manifesting their needs negatively... How I wish there was a way out for the world.

How I wish.

Dream on.

'You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says

This is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Long Shift 1

Alright, so I finally managed to get through my very first long shift at Staples. It wasn't bad, just that there was a major sales drought from the time I started all the way till I ended. I learned how to do cashier stuff, basic stuff like ringing products through the till and getting cash in. It was like DQ all over again. Then, I managed one sale, that helped us exceed our sales target by $400 for the day, topping it off at $19,400-odd. Felt good.

Tired. Feel like I need some good rest.

Tomorrow's recording day.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

President's Entrance Scholarship

Okay, you're finally in. Thankfully.

It took them a long time to list it out.

Ups and Downs

I fully comprehend the meaning of why people say that there are ups and downs in life. Over the past week, I've gone through mini-cycles of ups and downs. Very, very accurate.

But they don't affect where my direction is. That's the most important. I'm clear about who I am, where I come from, and where I'm going. That's most important.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Vroom Vroom Varun

I did my test this morning. 92.6%, bringing up my average for Philosophy to 87.5%. Just have to continue this trend and everything will be okay wrt my average.

Today, Varun did 10 ESP sales. 10. Yes, not more, not less, 10 of them. I'm still wondering how the heck he managed to do that. On the other hand, I managed to convince one customer to get printer ink + ESP + paper, so I hope that amounts to a perfect sale. Gee, 3 perfect sales all on printers.

I found out that my Asian Studies class average is only 69. I can't believe it. How can it only be 69? That's too low... Well, whatever it is, I did get a good mark on it - 91 - so it shows I must be doing something right.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Named twice, for effect. I managed to make two ESPs, and one perfect sale, of which one of the ESPs were with the perfect sales. Yay!!

Not to mention, one of the sales was on a laptop. I felt great after finally selling one at the end of the day. Undoubtedly, it was a reprive from the monotony of the day so far.

Hence, explains my trip to Starbucks for a Tangerine Frappucino this time round.

Gimme a break man...

I realized that I need a considerable amount of breathing space. Some time to interact freely with others, or to meditate silently (otherwise known as daydreaming or stoning) rather than letting my mind continually run.

Some classmates in Philosophy, see that I can answer their questions... then they questioning me like they do the prof. What's more, one question comes after another, asking questions that so obviously refer back to previous sections in the notes or previous lectures, it gets on my nerves. Then, without giving me any break to rest my mind, the lecture starts, or I have to go off to work.

Can't people have some consideration? Gimme a break.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

What I Did And What Happened To Me Today

I'm tired from soccer, work, and the morning service at UC, so I'm gonna keep this brief.
  1. Went to UC for morning service. Made it just in time. After everything, I asked Junning to play what he learned from his friend at St. John's College, to see how much progress he made. Then I attempted to play Flight of the Bumblebee at a regular pace. Made it once, then fingers slacked off.
  2. Rushed to work to make it at 12pm. Quickly got in my work clothing, and onto the floor.
  3. Sold one PC, monitor and a pack of DVDs to a lady who wanted to buy one. She eventually selected a higher-end model, rather than a lower-end model, after I listed out the advantages of keeping your computer future-proof. Oh, and not to mention, one ESP scored.
  4. With Aaron and Brett's help, I sold an Epson photo printer to a guy who came with his family. Coz it was a demo model, Aaron gave it to him at $99.95, plus the ESP at $9.99. (Scored another here.) Had to hunt high and low for half of the AC adaptor (-_-")... Eventually grabbed one from the Tech room instead.
  5. Introduced a couple to the world of digital photography. I gave them a run-down of what to look out for when buying a camera, wrote it all down, and gave it to them. I also introduced the ESP to them, to highlight to them the peace of mind they would get if they bought a camera at Staples. They commended me in front of Aaron! Yay!
  6. Introduced another couple to the world of internet communication. They came in wanting a microphone, but I eventually managed to get them to take a look at webcams instead. Then we had a long, long talk about Singapore. I really wondered how it got that far. Hahaha...
  7. Dashed home after work, to get my laundry out. Then I folded the colored clothing first, and decided to quickly dash to UHill to play soccer. They were almost finished playing, but for my sake, 7 others decided to play on. (So nice of them.) So 4 on 4, I didn't score a goal (too tight to play), but this time, I managed to do a fake on the opposing defender. Perfected it this time. But alas, we let in two goals, so we had to go topless playing for the rest of the 20 odd minutes. Hahahaha...
In conlcusion:
  • 1 piece played well
  • 2 sales
  • 2 ESPs
  • 4 great conversations
  • 1 superb soccer fake.
In short, another good day.

Friday, August 11, 2006

What a way to end the week!


87.5% for Asian Studies Paper
First, I went with my ASIA 101 001 front row gang to pick up our papers. Rohini offered to drive us all there rather than walk... well, I'm not surprised that she drove her car from her place to the bus loop in the first place, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that we all got a ride in the end too. So we went to the Asian Studies building, and after making our way down, I realized that I didn't bring my identification; rather, I had left it in my backpack, which was in the trunk of the car. So I went back to the car and opened the trunk, and got my wallet. Then, I brought back everything to the Asian Studies office.

Sounds rather mundane, right? Well, yeah, it is mundane, till I saw the score - 17.5/20. I jumped! I never expected anything so good out of that essay. Especially since I had only done 4 days of work on it - compared to at least 9 days of work on my first one - I didn't expect anything above an 80%, but here I came out with 87.5%! Well, unexpected as it was, I had to face my next lesson, which was Philosophy.

Perfect Sale at Staples
After Philosophy class, I went to work at Staples, where I immediately resumed training under Stephen. He's a great trainer, and has always been willing to help me whenever I needed it. A number of times I was stuck in the middle of a sales, I immediately double-checked any information I had against him, and queried him when I couldn't handle a customer's queries. And today, he was of great help.

A lady came in asking for a printer, and spotted the one she wanted on the shelf. It was a deal - $109.92 for a Samsung monochrome laser printer, with $30 off after rebate. And to top things off, she also asked for printer paper and a USB cable. That immediately made it close to a "perfect sale" - where we sell an item and at least 4 add-ons (in this case, printers I figure get 3 add-ons, since they're tougher to sell 4 as compared to 3). Then, I brought up the Extended Service Plan - the ESP - which Staples sells to extend the manufacturer's warranty. And boy, was this the toughest to sell. I encountered difficulty mainly because she objected because of the price -- "Student, don't have the extra $20 for the ESP." But really, if anything happens to the printer and you're not covered by the ESP, you'd likely be paying $70 to $80 for shipping and handling to get the printer mailed to Samsung, and on top of that, there'd be repair fees too. In other words, $20 for an ESP would be a massively great investment. But I couldn't convince her - only Steve could. He chipped in, and managed to convince her to buy it, but he gave me the credit for it! Man, I wonder how often one meets a superior like that.

Then, after convincing her about the ESP, Steve showed me all the paperwork for home delivery, and even filled it all up for me and faxed it to IDEAL (our shipping company). Then, he brought my sales receipt to the manager, and mentioned in front of him that I did a perfect sale! Waa... so great man...

After that, I met these two graduate students coming in to look for laptops. Both of them are from India, and both are doing their MBAs. Vijay and Abajeet. I'm going to remember their faces and names properly, because I want to be there when they come in on Sunday or Monday to complete their laptop purchases along with all the software and accessories that they need.

91% for Asian Studies
And so to wrap it all up, I scored a 91% for my Asian Studies overall, which means I have an overall grade of A+! YAY! First time I ever scored an A+ in so many years. Considerably, this is quite a success for me. Hahahaha... I'm over the moon now...

[On a side note, I'm typing this entry out while being locked out of my apartment. I'm just at the door, unable to get in, yet able to access the wireless network I set up. What an ironic way to end the day.]

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Day 2 at Staples

I finally had a chance to get onto the ground and try out my skills at selling computers.

Today, things started off well. I started in the ePK room, where I finished off the last two courses on my list. Obviously, I was very eager to start working on the ground, rather than be cooped up in the room for 4 hours straight. So I achieved my goal this time round, starting on the floor after just 1/2 hour into my shift.

I was assigned to Stephen (Steve), who is the Consultant for the Computer Department. He brought me through all there is to know in the Computer Dept, from laptops to desktops to routers to multi-function printers to shredders to speakers to... everything. Hahaha... basically everything in the computer department.

Halfway through training... well, essentially all the way through training, we got cut off because of customer requests for help. At one point, an old lady came in asking for a pair of headphones, complaining that her old ones were too troublesome to put on. She asked for a pair of earbud headphones, for her sound amplificaiton device. After 20 minutes of trying, she eventually found the one she wanted.

Here's the catch - she spoke only Mandarin. So I had to handle the sale, translating for Steve. But the best part is, I managed to convince her that this pair of headphones she was looking at was the best solution that she'd need. Hence, yes, after 20 minutes of speaking in Mandarin, she bought it.

I then went back to Steve, who continued training for me. But later, he was interrupted for some matters at the counter, and so I decided to go to the laptops area to look for other customers to help. There was this guy who wanted a deal on a laptop (Indian --> think Russel Peters =P), and I immediately brought his attention to the deals on laptops. Then, I started asking him things like what he wants to do with his laptop, and what he feels would be a good price range, how many years he intends to use the computer etc. I told him a good laptop over $1200 would last him well into 5 years, but anything under $800 would likely be just a temporary 2-year or max 3-year laptop. (That is why I want so badly to get a MacBook =P) Then, I proceeded to find the best specs that he'd need - most of them on deals run AMD processors, but he wanted Intel. 1GB RAM, 80GB Hard Disk or so, and a sizeable integrated graphics memory. Not to mention 1.7 GHz minimum. He seemed sold, but he wanted to place an order through the Dept of Chemical and Biological Engineering... which from what I learned today, can't be done. Nonetheless, he said he'd go back and think about it, and I encouraged him to come back another day when he decided.

The second customer I serviced was from China, who is going to be here for only 6 months. Originally, he wanted a Palm PDA with a keyboard, but after discussing with him, I found that the price was not what he expected for a PDA. So we turned our attention to the laptops. Again, I referred him to the deals, and he, like the other customer, wanted an Intel-based laptop, not an AMD laptop, though for different reasons (he was concerned about heat; the previous one was concerned about compatibility). This time, we found the deals weren't enough for him, so we turned our attention to other laptops on the shelf, including some by Sony, Toshiba etc. They were sub-1000, although most had prices very close to $1000. I introduced him to different models, different makes, helped him keep his options open (admittedly because I myself didn't know what I was doing... Hahahahaha...) and basically brought him through the models I felt were the best. I guess because I wasn't very familiar with the products, I still had lots of guesswork to do. Hopefully, over the next few days, I become more familiar, and I'll be able to spend more time zooming in on what the customer really needs, rather than jumping and hopping between computers.

Whatever it was, he was the last customer that I serviced today, and I managed to bring in the Extended Service Plan (ESP) for him. (He even took down notes on the ESP card; that'll probably remind him to get one.) I told him the days I'm in the store - Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday - and told him, next time he comes, he could look for me and I'd re-confirm what he wanted, and we could wrap it all up for him. (Pity, I didn't bring in accessories he might need, like a laptop bag and lock... two very essential items on campus.)

Today was a good work day. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep on balancing all my activities together well. (Darned, I just realized that on Sunday, I might not be able to play soccer... coz of work... gee... then again, work ends at 5pm, so I might well be able to join them in soccer later.) The real challenge comes when I start school in September.

Bring it on.

Comments from Lucas

To quote his blog:

Now - if you comment on this entry,

1. I'll respond with something random about you
2. I'll challenge you to try something
3. I'll pick a colour that I associate with you
4. I'll tell you something I like about you
5. I'll tell you my first/clearest memory of you
6. I'll tell you what animal you remind me of
7. I'll ask you something I’ve always wanted to ask you

So here are his responses:

1) Your use of English is downright impeccable. Seriously.
2) Come back and visit us in the next year or so? Haha!
3) Red - maybe something to do with Wushu, I don't know.
4) You have a habit of facing and beating down the odds. It's cool.
5) First, at debate training. Clearest, when you told me you were leaving.
6) I'm not exactly sure how to place you as an animal. Wereboar? =P
7) Any regrets going back to Canada?

And here are mine:

1. Seriously?! Man, I'm starting to have doubts about my own ability.
2. I'll see, I might be able to. I'll remember to give you a call if I ever make it back there.
3. Hm. Red's a nice color. =P
4. Thanks for the compliment... though, I'm not sure how you arrived at that conclusion. Care to share?
5. Same here, first at debate training. But the clearest for me is when we were at the NKF Charitas Debate Championships, when you passed me your Bible when it was my turn to debate. When did I tell you I was leaving?
6. Somehow, I associate you with a laughing hyena... I'm not sure why...
7. No regrets, for North America is where I'll be developing my career and future.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I Hate Rain

Vancouver's weather today: 17 degrees, light rain shower.

I come home from shopping with Jason with my head wet. I hate rain.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Today At Staples

I guess it's an easier start, with the system not wanting to make things too difficult for newbies. I started by doing training on a computer, where they had web courses specially designed for Staples' employees. So I spent 3 hours in front of a computer, chionging through 6 or 7 different courses. No, I just checked... it's 8 courses. Man, and he thought I only went through 6. Whoops! Hahaha... so much for efficiency.

Well, whatever, I'm going to go and study now.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Soccer today

Another great game. Of course, the feeling 'great' is a relative term, as things only get better in the second half.

The first half was abysmal. Kept missing passes, then I never got the ball passed after that. I remember trying to head some balls; rather I was knocked left right and center. Then, tackling went bad too; I didn't manage to get the balls either. So the first half of the match went with me being overshadowed by other, better strikers.

I even had an opportune moment, which I totally blew away! It was a pass from Leon, who immediately shouted, "Eric, SCORE!" Well, I wanted to, and I raised my leg and shot, only for it to go inches wide. (!!! - that shows my feelings then...) I'm like DAMN IT...

However, things became much better after the second half. A little rest, a little water, and a little more energy came back to the game. We start the second half with much "ho-oa" at first, and the pace kept up. The tempo increased, and more goals and shots on goal were taking place. More pressure kept on the opposing team. It felt good.

Then, I managed to score one! This was similar to my missed goal from the last time. I had the ball passed in from Leon. And then I took it, and saw: nobody in front except the goalie. Opportune moment. I took a mad dash, and all I remember was having players from all sides calling for the ball but I was ignoring them. The goalie didn't want to come up and tackle me (I think he's being nice though, coz I had complained to him that I wanted to score at least one...) and I pressed on. Then, with a flick of the ball, I shot, and he stuck his foot out. It just went over the knee (the waist is the maximum height allowed for goals to be counted). YEAH!

3 other opportunities, and here's description of one of them. I was standing in front of the goal, menacingly awaiting the ball to come crossing in from the right. And yes, my fellow striker was about to cross in to the center. I stuck my foot out -- and it went inches wide again! DARNED! I could have scored a second just by sticking my foot out at the right angle. Hahaha... well, it was a good attack.

I remember trying some antics. I saw the ball curling in, and I raised my leg up, attempting to do a back kick in the air, but saw it fly in the wrong direction. Well, I'm not going to do that again... hahaha... (until I've mastered it! XD)

Ah well, it all ended when I had a cramp. I was tackling a defender, managed to get the ball away from him, but then I was forced to dribble it to the side. He came up, tackled the ball away from me, but I tried to get it back, only to fail and fall onto the ground with a cramp in my right calf. So they helped me to ease the pain off, but the game effectively stopped at that moment. I limped off, well not exactly in pain, but in some miniscule form of agony. (Ms. Heng would mark that as "poor expression"...)

Whatever it was, it all felt great. Fair play, good play, goals scored. Kudos to the other strikers to did their part.


Friday, August 04, 2006


No, it's not "八八" implying "Bye Bye", but it's my mark for Linguistics. Insane man! After that bad feeling in the finals, I must have scored 84 marks in it to get the final of 88. (Yeah, that's after calculations...)

Well, whatever it is, a good start to a good year. Get an A now... and get an A+ for the rest of the year.

Where The Hell Is Matt?

Inspirational, in its own very unique way.

Photos and Memories

I discovered this while doing something quite mundane. Ok, here's the background:

UBC's Housing website has this option to let me upload my photo, for any of my roommates to see. Well, I don't have one, but I thought I'd just upload a photo just for fun. Turns out, they have a criteria - 200KB max size, and must have passport photo dimensions. I decided to browse through my Picasa collection to see whether I had one...

I started scrolling downards, from 2006 to 2005 to 2004... I realized that the events which give me the most number of memories were those events that I had the most number of photos. Doing a quick count...
  • Bowen Island trip - 2006 - 328 photos, but only a handful taken by me.
  • HCJC Astronomy Workshop for Primary Schools - 2004 - 64 photos, hardly any taken by me, but I organized the event.
  • Track and Field Meet - 2003 - 165 photos, all taken by me.
  • ChemComm 03 - 2003 - 82+101+7+5+18+5+2+83+33 photos, taken by the whole team.
  • 4B Teacher's Day Performance - 2003 - 122 photos, taken by me and others in the class.
  • CNY Photography Competition - 2003 - 54 photos, all taken by me.
  • Duck Race CIP - 2002 - 99 photos, all taken by me.
These events I have the strongest and fondest memories for. Perhaps it's because I had an important stake in them too - Track and Field was my life in Sec 2 thru to 4, for I had asked for the role of training up the basics of the juniors on the team. ChemComm 03 was the competition not just that I earned best speaker, but it was also the year I mastered the pronunciation of "metaphenyline diamine and isopthaloyl chloride to form polymetaphenylineisopthale amide" (heck, I don't even know the spelling anymore...). Duck Race, I was heavliy invovled with the Throwers. HCJC Astro Camp, I organized it with Jonny and Jerlene. Teacher's Day, I helpd Lee lead some parts for the singing, and got really involved in it. Good memories.

Then there are stuff I can't really remember. Graduation. Sec 4 Prom (which thoroughly convinced me never to go for any more proms). Founders Day. Science Summer School (I lost all the photos in J2... except for Yiwen's ones). Music Of The Night. 7B stuff. I just didn't have an inspired role in those events. Blame it on me being the cynic. Or is it that I didn't have enough photos?

Perhaps I'm a person rooted in visual memory. Photos are important to me, just as long as I'm not in them. Yes, that's me - photophobic visual person.

Totem Park Room Assignment

Right, so I've learned that I'll be moving into Totem Park, Salish House Room no. 546. That probably means moving luggage not only TO Totem Park, but also UP the floors till level 5. Hmm... that won't be bad, actually, since the 5th level would probably be more quiet (because it's more detatched from the ground). Oh well, whatever it is, I'm gonna need help moving, so I'm gonna start asking...

Thursday, August 03, 2006


OMG! There's somebody in class who actually doesn't know what in the world the theory of evolution is!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


It's fun, really. Just that... the setup is quite dry. Very, very technical. OK, back to class now...

Sarabande, Claudine, The Flight of the Bumblebee

3 songs now, 3 songs that I'm learning, each getting better by the day. (Save for Claudine, which seems to be hovering at more or less the same standard.)

The Flight of the Bumblebee seemed to be the best. I can now go (through the first 2 pages) at a tempo of 110 rather than 70. The actual tempo is 144. I'm inching my way there. Now, to master the 3rd, 4th and 5th pages too.

Sarabande ranks second in terms of progress. I've managed to get the song in my head before, and it is an easy piece to play to start with. I merely managed to refine my own ending to the song, which I feel adds a nice after-ring to it.

Claudine... well, I've long mastered it. Now it's about adding in the mood, the feel, the ups and downs, the highs and lows. PAWN IT. =P

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Dealing with Troublemaking Bullies

To quote the bottom of the article:

I lived by three rules as a teacher: 1) Use humor to deal with tough situations; 2) don't ever let a student know they have gotten to you; and, 3) don't run to the vice principal - handle your own discipline problems.

On Friday, I held the mike at an assembly. I was hyping an upcoming basketball game. Because their classroom is so far away, shop-class students arrive late to assemblies and usually enter quietly from a door on the side of the gym. This day was different. During my pep talk, in a clear effort to be disruptive, Big Josh burst through the door like a wrecking ball. He just so happened to be wearing a garish, red shop-class apron.

All eyes were on him. He had gotten his laugh.

Then it happened. Without premeditation, I yelled, "Heyyyyyyy Kool-Aid."

It was Dave Chappelle funny. Laughter thundered through the gym. KO'd in the first round. Immediately, Big Josh was dead, and "Kool-Aid" rose from his ashes. For the rest of the year kids would yell, "Hey Kool-Aid" when they encountered Josh. After the assembly, somehow students saw him as more human, more accessible, more like everyone else.

During lunch I posted a new sign with a slightly adjusted message: "Leave all excess baggage (and Kool-Aid) at the door." It hung intact for the rest of the year.