Monthly Archives: February 2005

Paris Hilton Hacked, Unlucky People

The big news this week was that Paris Hilton’s T-Mobile Sidekick got hacked and her entire address book, notes, and mobile pics got posted to the Net. If you want to see them, here is a site with her pictures (how could I not post a site with the real deal on it…? Check it out before the FBI take it down).
It did get me thinking about unlucky people and/or people who just attract trouble.
Certainly, Paris Hilton is probably one of the most luckiest people in the world: heiress to the Hilton fortune, TV star, supermodel.
But somehow, she also attracts trouble as well, like when her home porno video got posted to the Net (sorry no link here, but I would definitely try the new Yahoo! Video Search and search on ‘paris hilton’). She’s beautiful, a superstar, but yet the world enjoys making sure she gets it stuck to her as many times as possible.
What is it about people that make them so unlucky to get put in these silly situations?
I think about people around me that I’ve met through my life. Some of them seem to walk through life falling into success like magnets attracting iron. They always find the right job, win the lottery, find the perfect spouse, have the perfect life.
Others seem to have nothing but negativity follow them, and you need to take pity when you hear about their lives: lost my job, boy/girlfriend dumped me, just got into car accident, family trouble, etc. etc.
Now I don’t mean to say that lucky people don’t have negative things happen to them. I truly believe it’s the upbeat/positive attitude at which you face life that somehow generates some sort of ‘energy field’ that repels negativity. In some cases, their attitude allows them to avoid the negative situations, or creates forethought to prevent negative situations. Sometimes, negative things still happen to them, but it’s their attitude which makes it much more bearable than for those who have a personality which dwells on the negativity, or indecision makes it hard to get out of it, or the apparent lack of resources and help creates an impossible situation (I say ‘apparent’ because I believe there are always resources to be found; you just need to look…).
So I’ll stick my neck out here and say that lucky people are ‘lucky’ partly due to divine chance, but also a lot of those odds are thrown in their favor by deliberate action on their parts with a huge does of the right upbeat, positive attitude towards life.
As in gambling, you always want to play the game with the best odds. Why throw your money away on the games with the worst odds? Stack chance in your favor with skill. You can do the same with your life and become a more ‘luckier’ person.
And don’t buy a T-Mobile sidekick and take naked pictures of yourself with it.


Since last August, I’ve been a regular visitor to San Jose Airport. Every week I travel to LA to see my daughter and have a pretty regular routine down now.
As I frequent airports, some thoughts come to mind:
Love online check-in!
Printing out the Southwest boarding pass is sooooo cool. I am guaranteed an A boarding line spot if I do it hours before I leave for the airport.
Getting on a Southwest flight is like getting in a taxi.
Not sure if this is good, but nowadays it seems no different than hailing a taxi and going on an hour drive. Is this good or bad…?
Love self-service check-in!
American Airlines started doing this and I think it’s great. It speeds things up so much faster, even if you have luggage. They’ll just come over and put the luggage tag on for you.
Hate long lines.
Who doesn’t?
Airports are becoming a meeting place for me.
Hanging out at the airports has meant actually seeing people I wouldn’t have normally seen. I have bumped into old Yahoo! acquaintances and my old aikido teachers as well.
I keep thinking about the design of interiors of airports. They aren’t really optimized for personal interaction. At the gate, it’s just rows of seats. What about creating a pattern of seating and tables so that people can meet and interact and feel more comfortable than just being lined up for 2 hours? How about more facilities for comfortable meeting – maybe they should take some cues from the executive/first class lounges. If you’ve ever been in there, they are great for just this kind of thing. Move some of those couches outside and you’ll have an airport that you’ll want to be in, not just a place to get out of as soon as possible.
The world is getting smaller. There are more business travelers than ever as businesses connect on a global scale. So many people spend so much time in airports now it is staggering. A bit of comfort and consideration for the new jet-setting community would be nice.
Food sucks on planes, and also sucks in airports.
Can we have better food than Burger King at SJC? My favorite meals now are the barbecue chicken chopped salad at California Pizza Kitchen and fish burrito sans tortillas at this Mexican place down near gate A1.
Kind of sad in a way too when I met a few friends at LAX last week and they asked me what the best food was at LAX, and I directed them to the Mexican place there and the fish tacos were great. Somehow knowing the best places to eat at an airport isn’t the same as knowing the best restaurants to go to in Manhattan….
I don’t like getting squeezed by the airlines.
This last trip I brought my Ritchey Breakaway on board a Southwest flight. This bike is made to be packed away in a suitcase sized case for the very purpose of avoiding extra fees. But the Southwest people told me that it was oversized, and upon measuring it, it exceeded the height+length+width limitation of 62″. They didn’t charge me but they could have charged me an extra 20 bucks for this. In a few short months, they are changing the free weight limitation from 70 lbs. to 50 lbs. for checked luggage. Geez. If you’re taking a long trip like me, it’s hard to not put a lot of stuff in your suitcase, and especially going to a place like New Zealand where I brought some climbing gear and my snorkeling equipment.
We keep getting squeezed by the airlines. On a flight I booked on American Airlines from SJC to JFK, you need to purchase on-board meals in coach. Oh like I WANT TO SPEND MONEY ON CRAPPY FOOD. I eat it because it’s included, but now I need to pay for it?
Pretty soon they’ll be measuring humans. They’ll pack so many seats into a plane that you’ll need to be measured before you can board. Have you ever flown Pleasant Hawaiian Hoildays from SFO to Hawaii? That is the epitome of feeling like a cattle car. And the screaming kids don’t help either….
Then, you’ll be weighed along with your suitcase. Gotta optimize fuel. So you pay by the pound. Hmmm…maybe there are some health benefits to this for the society at large – encourage overweight people to lose weight to save money on flights….hmmm…
So as the amenties on airlines disappears, will airports transform to comfortable, inviting places to be in? Unfortunately, I think the chances are slim.

Who is your Mary Poppins?

Last night, I watched the 40th Anniversary Version of Mary Poppins on DVD. I hadn’t watched it in years but bought it thinking that my daughter would like it.
As we watched the video, I became very aware of the premise of the story and the transformation of the father and how it was similar to the great changes going on in my life.
Mary Poppins was a huge change agent in life of the Banks’ family.
Prior to her showing up, the father was a serious man, attempting to build up his self-worth and importance by gaining more wealth and prestige at his bank. He never had any time to spend with his children, but only focused on what they did wrong or why they were bad. He never laughed or told jokes as it was simply not proper to do so.
The children would always want their father’s love, but yet never seemed to break through his demeanor.
His solution to this was to bring in a continual stream of nannies, whose strict British training was deemed the answer but yet the children would continually foil their attempts at “training” them.
In comes Mary Poppins.
By bringing the children on whimsical, magical adventures which ultimately involved the father, she manages to show the entire family that the world has so much more to offer beyond just the money, prestige, and prim and proper behavior that was so desired before.
The father resists change and attempts to remove the agent of change, Mary Poppins. But to no avail, the agent of change has already influenced the father and by the end of the movie he has transformed his entire being into a more positive soul, valuing no more just money and prestige but rather becoming a more loving, caring, and more carefree person who is able to enjoy life with his family and to fully be a loving father to his children.
This mirrors the great change I feel I am going through now. My life is now an open book, ready to be completely rewritten. The forces of change are upon me and I have let go of the past to be taken where those forces shall carry me. Perhaps there is an analogy to the adventures on the rooftops of London, or the leap into the chalk drawing on the sidewalk – experiences of that sort which are entertaining and yet so filled with meaning, reflection, and ultimately resulting in transformation.
I search for those experiences now.
Is there a Mary Poppins in your life?

Botox for your Sweetheart

This last weekend I was walking around Westfield Valley Fair Mall in San Jose and noticed a lot of hearts floating around. I realized that Valentine’s Day was coming up, and I completely spaced on that fact.
But one thing did catch my eye.
There was a sign in front of a store that said, “$175 Botox for your Sweetheart”. I looked up and saw that it was the NUVO Laser Skin Treatment Center.
Hmmm…I have to say that this really takes the cake.
Now I am a traditional guy. I buy roses, take women to dinner, maybe some jewelry here and there. Get a little romantic, a kiss or hug. You know, the normal stuff.
I just don’t know what would possess someone to buy their sweetheart a Botox injection for Valentine’s Day.
What exactly does that say?
“Honey, I love you but I would love you more if we smoothed out all those ugly wrinkles.”
“I love you just the way you are, well, maybe if we fixed a few things…”
“Instead of a romantic dinner, how about we go down to the laser skin parlor and get stuck with some needles?”
What is this world coming to? I think this promotion just moved up the charts in my Top Obnoxious Ads for 2005 list.

My Daughter’s Pony Tails: A Lesson in Humility (Futility?)

So it was in the morning a few weeks back, and I’m getting her ready for school. I naively ask, “So how would you like to do your hair?” She answers, “I want two pony tails, Daddy.”
“Uh oh…,” I thought. Two things roll quickly through my mind:
1. That was dumb. I just walked right into that one!
2. I’ve never done pony tails before in my life!
When you look around at other kids, or at some grown-up women, you see them occasionally with pony tails. You usually see one on women, one or two on little girls, and sometimes three on the truly abused typically-Asian little girls with the third sticking straight up. How cute…hahaha geez.
I looked on and there was no Pony Tails for Dummies. Man I was sunk! And I ain’t no dummy!
I knew how pony tails should end up. But only had snatches of theory and observation on how to get there. Surely one just grabs a handful of hair and ties it off?
Well I wish it were that easy. You need to make sure that the hair when grabbed looks neat so the part must be right, and the hair must lay down in nice rows (versus looking a bit random). It must also end up in the right position on the head, whether high or low and if there are two, they must be symmetrical. Also, they must be really tight against the head; no extraneous hair bunching up between the tie off and the scalp.
Tying off the pony tail(s) is also tough. You need to hold the hair with one hand while manipulating a rubber band or scrunchy or other type of elastic ring and loop it at least 3 times around the hair. It’s hard to do that and keep the hair the same as when you first grab the handful.
But, I am getting better at it. A traditionally female thing being mastered by a male. I am glad it is NOT a lesson in futility but actually a lesson in humility that even the simplest things in life take lots of time to master.

Money = More = Better?

In the January 17, 2005 issue of Time magazine, there is a great article on happiness and how money affects happiness. It talks about how people constantly search or yearn for more money, but yet it brings us more anxiety than happiness. They found this out through polls taken on society; while trends in earning and spending since World War II climb dramatically, the graph on happiness is totally flat. In fact, charting depression shows a steep rise despite our quest for happiness through more cash. Somewhere along the line, we’ve gone haywire.
I was in such a gameplan. At least I wasn’t greedy and focused on acquiring more and more wealth, but certainly I exhibited many characteristics of Money=More=Better. I went from a 1800 sq ft house to a 3400 sq ft house. I owned 4 cars. I constantly bought more books and CDs. Every year I turned over my technology like computers and gadgets.
So what was the result of all this? An incredibly cluttered house filled to the brim with junk. Piles of books with no time to read them. A room full of PCs and Macs that have nowhere to go. Closets full of clothes I don’t wear.
Am I more happy? Don’t think so.
In fact as I acquired wealth, I discovered many things.
First, you gotta manage your wealth. Wow, what a host of headaches that produces. Finding the right financial manager that isn’t out to get your money is really tough. There are so many unscrupulous people out there who are ready to take whatever you got and make tons of money off of you. And don’t even care if you make any percentage points or not.
Second, paying taxes really sucks. Because you have wealth, filling out your tax form becomes almost impossible. So you hire yet another person to help you there.
Third, What do I do with all this crap that I collected? No place to put them or store them, no time to get rid of them. Oh and by the way, just how DO you get rid of them? Sell them on ebay? Oops got no time for that. Truck them down to Goodwill? Chuck them in the trash? Oh, wait, don’t want to pollute the environment by watching old PC boards leak noxious chemicals into the environment. Now what? Got time to drive your crap all over the city, dropping them off one by one to the extra special places for each type of thing? Good luck.
Fourth, a 3400 sq ft house for one person? Totally unmanageable. I came to this realization when I got an apartment in LA. Two bedrooms, two baths, living room, kitchen. Took me 30 min to clean up and make it look great. Months later, I still haven’t made a dent in 3400 sq ft of crap.
Where did we ever get on this kick of wanting the next bigger thing? I know my parents always dreamed of having a bigger house. Why is this? More wealth? Is real estate such a great investment? I just read some articles about how over-valued some markets are. Doesn’t seem like the perfect solution to wealth. But also, there comes with the frustration and added responsibility of maintaining a bigger house. Some people have hired huge staffs just to manage a 5000 or 10000 sq ft house! Geez we’re now a corporation and constantly in negative cash flow to pay for all our help!
So I’ve learned that money does enable many things. So it’s great for that. It provides for things that you would not otherwise have, like security and the future. If done right, it frees up time for the better things in life. If done right….
But I’m totally on a frustration reduction kick. More stuff does not necessarily equate to more happiness. In fact it seems to increase frustration more than happiness. So whatever I do must reduce frustration. It is the next big benchmark in my life. Whether it’s cleaning up or mass simplification, I’m running 1000 MPH towards it.