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Random thoughts

Friday, March 31, 2006

Uno!

Cecile and David invited us for a round of card games last night. I had assumed that we were going to play poker or Hearts or something, but we ended up playing Uno, a pretty entertaining card game that I know I've played before - I couldn't remember any of the rules though, so we had to play a couple of refresher rounds just to get everyone up to speed.

Cut to after the games - I was the "Uno queen" of the night! Woohoo! I know that sounds kind of gay, but whatever! I actually won - me, who can't seem to win at any card game, even 52-pickup! Haha!

Now I'm even more psyched to get Marc's place all fixed up, so that we can have ultimate game nights. I want to bring on the heavy stuff - Cranium, Taboo (which Cecile had in French, and of course there was no way I was going to play that), etc., etc. Any other game suggestions are welcome!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Since we're on the subject...

During my lunchbreak today, I was browsing the Yahoo! news website, and I came across this article:

================================
IKEA billionaire founder proud to be frugal at 80
By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, ranked 4th richest man in the world, drives a 15-year-old car and always flies economy class, in part to inspire his 90,000 employees worldwide to see the virtue of frugality.

The billionaire Swede, who turns 80 on March 30, explained his legendary habits during a rare television interview in Switzerland, his adoptive home for nearly 30 years.

His fortune was recently estimated at $28 billion by Forbes magazine -- trailing only Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, U.S. investor Warren Buffett and Mexican industrialist Carlos Slim.

"People say I am cheap and I don't mind if they do. But I am very proud to follow the rules of our company," Kamprad told French-language Swiss Broadcasting Corporation.

Asked to confirm he drove an old Volvo, he said: "She is nearly new, just 15 years old, or something like that."

Interviewer Darius Rochebin teased that Ikea employees were always told to write on both sides of the paper.

"Why not? If there is such a thing as good leadership, it is to give a good example. I have to do so for all the Ikea employees," Kamprad retorted.

"Everything we earn we need as a reserve. We have to still develop the IKEA group. We need many billions of Swiss francs (dollars) to take on China or Russia," he added.

Ikea is the world's biggest furniture retailer, with 202 stores in 32 countries. Known for its inexpensive self-assembly furniture, the family-owned business claims its hefty catalog is the most widely read publication after the Bible.

SMALL-TOWN SWEDE

After flirting with neo-Nazism after World War Two -- for which he has apologized --the small-town Swede set up shop in his garden shed, selling watches, pens and Christmas cards.

"I bought seeds for the garden and had great success with it, going around to all the houses in my village. After that year I could buy myself my first bicycle," Kamprad recalled.

When Sweden's Social Democrat government launched the "Million Homes Project" in the 1950s, he saw an opportunity and got into the furniture business.

He stumbled upon the "flat-pack" idea in 1956 when an employee took the legs off a table to fit it into a customer's car. It saves a fortune in transport, storage and sales space.

"Our idea is to serve everybody, including people with little money. We have to keep costs down," he said.

His home in the Swiss village of Epalinges near Lausanne above scenic Lake Geneva is mainly decorated with Ikea furniture, apart from a few family pieces.

In keeping with Swedish tradition, Kamprad said he prepares and brings glogg, or hot wine, to "good neighbors" at Christmas along with his three sons.

Last week he made a donation of 500,000 swiss francs ($379,900) to the Lausanne cantonal art school, where his son studied.

"I'm not afraid of turning 80 and I have lots of things to do. I don't have time for dying," Kamprad said.

($1=1.316 Swiss Franc)

================================

I always have such great awe and respect for people who strive to live simply even when they're swimming in millions of dollars - or, in this case, Swiss Francs. You go, Ingvar!

Hectic Weekend and Days Ahead

After a long morning at the salon (a post for another time!), I drove my grandmother and aunt to Orange County to visit relatives. I thought it was going to be a pretty tame afternoon but after sharing a meal, my aunt suddenly suggested going to the vacation home of the family we were visiting. So we piled into their van and drove to Pechanga, across which the house was located. We toured the new house for a few minutes, then went on to the casino where my grandmother and her sister-in-law tried their luck for about an hour.

I was exhausted from driving (it took us almost 2 hours to get to Orange County from West LA), and casinos are not really my thing, so I was aching to go home and relax. We finally drove back to LA and got home close to 9pm. I was tired but I didn't want to stay home, so as soon as we got home, I just freshened up and was out the door again.

On Sunday after mass, Marc and I drove to Ikea to pick out more furniture for his new place. I think we got there at around 12:30pm, had lunch, but didn't start driving back until after four. Yikes! We get so preoccupied with all the furniture in Ikea that we just don't notice how the time is flying by.

When we got back, Marc wanted to kick back and relax for a little bit, but I was so psyched with all the boxes and the things we had to unwrap and put together, so a couple of hours later, we had a new bookcase and a table assembled. The chairs were a little tricky so we decided to stop after semi-completing two of them.

We decided on some sushi at Kaiten in 3rd St, then caught the evening showing of The Inside Man. It was a very entertaining, cleverly plotted and written film, similar in wittiness to Ocean's Eleven. People may say that some parts were played down too much, but all in all, it was still a great movie. Denzel Washington seems to always pick the good ones.

My grandmother and aunt have gone to Chicago, and it's much quieter at home. But we're going to be selling the place soon, so I need to start packing little by little every night. I foresee a busy spring and early summer for me and Uncle Monching. Moving, yet again. I'm looking forward to finding and living in a new place, but dreading the process.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Honda Fit

I know the cop told me, "Next time don't buy a Honda," but it might be hard to resist this when it finally comes out. Is this my next car? I really should hold off, especially when I'm about to get into some serious investing. It's definitely really cute though, and it's a four-door, which is my top-priority feature now, since I've been driving my two-door for over four years now and I've realized how inconvenient it is.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Painting

We're finally done! Last Sunday, Marc and I (with the help of Charlie as well) finally finished the paint job at his new apartment. It took almost the afternoon but it was well worth the sacrifice because now the apartment looks clean and bright, and we can start looking for furniture, which is my favorite part. We actually spent part of our Saturday visit with Angela wandering around Ikea. It's a lot of fun to shop with people who get as excited about a piece of furniture as I do. It's like having a doll house for grown-ups. :)

It won't be long before I do all this decorating for myself as well. Pretty soon I'll have a place I can call at least 1/3 my own, and I can't wait. I already have a list of things I want to get, and some ideas on how to decorate my future room. I can't wait!

Friday, March 17, 2006

In The Orange Zone

It's either because I'm losing my Christmas pounds, or my long hours at the rock gym are finally paying off -- I've finished two orange problems in a week's time at the gym. No going home and coming back another day to try them, I simply had to back off for a few minutes, and I finally sent them, fair and square, with a nod to Tad's 3-second top-off rule.

I suppose two problems in one week is not much. I've completed easier ones, but it's the orange ones that count now, since that's the hardest that I've done. I can do most blues. I can do all greens, yellows and pinks. So I think I've come a long way. It takes time for me too because I don't just want to send the problem - I like being graceful when I climb, so if it requires a throw or a lunge that would feel awkward, I just stop and try to think of another way to do it. It's my obsession, I guess.

My next project is to be able to do the wood climb on the arch, something that has always scared the hell out of me. I get nervous and unsure when I start going vertical, upside-down, but I think I'm close to overcoming it. I've been able to go 3/4 of the way on the wood problem; a little more persistence, and I hope to finally finish it.

Monday, March 13, 2006

On A Roll

Just a week after seeing one of the Wayans brothers, I walked into the climbing gym this past Saturday and immediately recognized a tall woman climbing in the easier top-rope area. I called out to Charlie and asked him if he knew that there was a famous person in there. And of course he didn't. Good old Charlie! Apparently, he had shut them down a few minutes before because Rosario didn't seem to know how to belay. Then he gave them a few quick pointers.

She was climbing with two guys, and I didn't even recognize either of them. One was a gym regular, according to Charlie, and the other one was Rosario's boyfriend, the infamous Jason Lewis. I had no idea who he was. One of the two said hi to me when we passed each other once, and I spent a mere millisecond saying hi back. It was probably a good thing, not knowing who they were. I'm sure they appreciated that. And I wasn't about to fawn over Rosario Dawson. Haha!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Bastards!

My iPod's gone.
My work laptop is gone.

Two or three nights ago, my car got broken into inside a locked garage and they took my iPod that I had left in the center compartment. Then they proceeded to pick the lock of the closet we had in the same garage, and they took my laptop. I didn't realize it until the afternoon of the next day. I started crying when I found out. My iPod! The one I was so proud to get because I got so lucky with it. I'm mentally kicking and screaming right now.

Damn those $^$%&#$RT% thieves!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Random Thoughts from the Oscars

In no particular order....

1. Best Picture, Crash? Where did that come from? I thought the movie was really good though, so no complaints here. I was just expecting Brokeback Mountain to win. Other people were not so happy though, as I soon found out when I was standing outside our building. There was an elderly woman with her husband loudly expressing so much disgust over this upset. I had to bite my lip to keep from disagreeing.

2. Zhang Ziyi is very pretty. And I wonder how thin she really is if, on camera, her arms look like twigs.

3. I wonder if the person sitting to the left of Charlize saw anything that night.

4. George Clooney is so goshdarn charming and has aged so well. Even though he could be my dad....

5. Reese Witherspoon has really come along way. Remember Sweet Home Alabama? Eep! I thought she was going to forget to mention Ryan Philippe and her kids, but thank God she didn't! I could see Ryan giving a subtle nod as if to say, "Good girl, you remembered."

6. What the hell were those hiphop guys saying on stage? I felt like I had to tape their speech and replay it and have someone translate it for me.

7. Nice gown, J. Lo!

8. As always, seeing Jack Nicholson's impish smile always makes me smile.

9. I don't know about Jon Stewart hosting the Oscars. I really wish Billy Crystal would agree to do the Oscars next year again... and the next... and the next. Whoopi Goldberg did a good job too, when she hosted the show a few years back. Hmm. Was that the Oscars? Or Golden Globes? I can't be sure.

10. I wonder if Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger can still look each other in the eye after making that movie. :D

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Getty Villa

Here are the pictures from our visit to the Getty Villa in Malibu, CA. Besides the most interesting Roman, Etruscan and Greek antiquities, it boasted beautiful fountains and gardens that were so relaxing to just walk around in.
My parents in front of the Getty Villa

The Getty Villa's great fountain

My dad and me in one of the little inlets in the garden.

A shot of one the hallways flanking the garden. This is my favorite shot.