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November 10, 2006
"No Parking, your car will be towed"

Our new head of manufacturing introduced himself, by telling a story how he went to Dunkin Donuts, parked where he shouldn't have, and got his car towed. Amidst a general feeling of paranoia. Just hearing this story wasn't very encouraging.

Of course I blew it way out of proportion, implying things which are almost certainly untrue. I would seriously like to think it was an honest mistake, he didn't see the sign, was unfamiliar with the rules and was unfortunately punished for his actions. I'm sure that there's a lot deeper story behind it, he may not even have been going there for coffee, all of which don't implicate the perpetrator of culpability for this violation.

However: this is how I interpreted it.

The facts are as follows:
He went to go get coffee and saw the sign.
He saw the sign... read the sign... understood what it said... but chose to park there anyways.
Somehow at that moment his coffee and donut was more important than the rules.

Then the jump, which is a stretch and blowing it out of proportion.

Is the singular pursuit of one's goals justify being in direct violation the rules.

Even though the rules were spelled out clearly in block letters in front of him, he still believed that they do not apply to him. He's so arrogant and incosiderate that he thinks somehow above the law, that the rules don't apply to him.

The purpose of a coproation is to provide profit for it's shareholders. However this is not license to violate the laws of the land. The pursuit of profit is not a bad thing, however it becomes greed when it is in blatant disregard for basic fundamental legal or ethical principals.

This is the reason why so many technology companies are involved in this options pricing investigation. This is why our CEO resigned. Because somehow they thought they were above the law. Somehow, the laws didn't apply to them.

Blatant disregard for rules and laws, and the feeling that you're above it and aren't subject to it, is not a way to inspire confidence with those who will work under you.

"first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye"

I'm not even going to pretend that my statements are not hypocritical, because they are. I've violated many a traffic or parking law in my time, and am as guilty as any. Dunkin Donuts makes good coffee, the parking lots can be exceptionally crowded. Thus for me to condemn this man for this one fault, is the proverbial speck in his eye, versus the plank in my own.

Yet starting off by making light of what might be a minor violation wasn't reassuring. Surely mistakes are inevitable. To the new leader, I would urge him to be better. I understand someone needs to make hard decisions, and unpleasant things may have to be done.

We work in an industry governed by laws. Our success is dependant upon our ability to follow them. Our technology is based upon our understanding of the physical laws, Our innovations are protected by patent laws. Our markets are protected the laws of fair commerce. Contract laws are what enable our customers engage in business with us.

We should honor our contracts, with those outside our organization as well as the contracts we make amongst ourselves. The agreements we make as employees, and as the corporation makes to us. These are the absolute. Disdain for even the smallest rules, even if you can conscientiously object to it, can undermine the sense of security and trust, essential for the success of the entire company.

Parking where you're not supposted to isn't unethical, we all do it. Just make sure it doesn't extend too far past that.

Posted by justin at 10:56 PM
August 16, 2006
Powdered eggs, and cat

I didn't write this, I've just been eating too many reconstitued powdered eggs for breakfast recently. Combined with the toasted bagels, and the cheese, and two strips of bacon, it does make a decent meal, from the "continental buffet breakfast that the hotel serves. And well, compared to the either warmed up pancakes, or french toast, which they've been serving, with the sausage, might be nominally more healthy.

Anyhow, might be a good resposne for going to the gym so much recently

Powdered eggs, and cat

Many years ago, when I was a college student and therefore a pauper I signed up for surplus commodities to make ends meet. The supplies consisted of stuff like canned meat, beans, flour, canned milk and (....insert drum roll...) foil-lined paper packets of powdered eggs.

One night, after a long day of classes followed by a worse than usual stint of waiting tables, I arrived home absolutely bone-weary to find my apartment kitchen covered in a powdered egg snowstorm. . I followed the pawprint trail to the living room and found my calico cat, Kid, also coated in egg powder. She'd managed to clean one paw and about two inches of her face before being defeated by the increasingly gluey stuff. She sat there, tongue out, thoroughly disgusted, and utterly unable to manage another lick.

Her distress did not translate to eagerness for the bath that followed. One shredded shower curtain, followed by vacuuming the rug and double mopping the kitchen and bathroom, I again had a relatively clean apartment and cat, and was hoping to finally get some rest.

Powdered eggs did not sit well on the kitty digestion, however. Over the next few hours she would repeatedly leap up, stare wildly at the air behind her then launch into a mad tear around the apartment in an attempt to escape sulfurous trail of toxic fumes she had just emitted. Finally, she gave up and lay with her head under the bed one one side of the dust ruffle, her butt on the other. This afforded her delicate nose some protection, but did nothing for mine.

Posted by justin at 07:49 PM
November 08, 2005

Is it karma?...
A co-worker once told me while on a business trip, why he's a Buddhist. I wouldn't have figured him to be a particularly religious fellow. But after having dinner with him, I realized I had been changed.

I learned that his faith, might provide a lot more comfort than the promises, and reassurances of of my own faith. The word often rings hollow.
   I ask, but nothing is given.
   I seek, but nothing is found.
   I knock, but nothing is opened.

From his stories, I put together that his family once lived a somewhat comfortable life, but after the fall of Saigon, they lost just about everything, amidst the suffering, he chose to flee as a boat person. During his escape he saw pirates board his boat, and kill one of the passengers, randomly, senselessly and without cause that he could see, simply because they found that the man had a hundred dollars.

Huddled up, a refugee, he could do nothing, perhaps he was going to die as well.

      How do you reconcile God's justice in that?
      Would you have stood up in the boat and said "This is wrong!" What good would it have done?
      How does your heart not cry out, why does it not scream because of your own powerlessness?
      With that image seared into your consciousness;
         How do you put something like that behind you to start a new life?

The Buddhist answer is that ... it's karma.

Karma is as much as knowing that there's justice for the things you've done in this life as much as knowing that it's justice for the things that you've done in a previous life, and justice for things you've done in a future life. Knowing that it might not be possible to seek out justice when you are powerless. The cycle of death and rebirth, provides reassurance that there is justice.

Karma carries over from a previous life, and it carries forward into lives to live, it may be frightening to know that you've got to face justice for all the wickedness of past and future lives which you've got no control over; but it's also reassuring, because there is a reason for everything, as much as there is suffering and wickedness; there is a way out. Buddhism is challenging, that there is call to do good in the world, to live humbly, knowing that desire, and suffering are inexplicably intertwined.

Posted by justin at 07:12 PM
September 13, 2005
Racism Still exists

For all my friends who don't think it exists anymore, I beg to differ. Recent events have torn back the veil to say this it still does exist, and that it cannot be swept under the rug, and you can't pretend that it doesn't exist because you don't see it in the community in which you live in.

I could take the cheap tack that, anyone who lives in a state that is over 98% white, doesn't know a bit about racism or multiethnicity. Being culturally sensitive means more than apreciating ethnic food. A world without racism, is not a lilly white suburb in the mountains, with a temple on a hill, and people in white robes, being happily married for eternity.

Yes, there have been great strides made towards making people more sensitive to issues of race. Realators won't steer you to particular neighborhoods, based on how you look. But alas, racism still exists, although it's far more subtle and nefarious. The issue at hand is why there is such a disparity in results the way this country looks with regards to race and poverty.

Recently, some of the more colorful Africian-American Politicians and entertainers, may have overstepped the boundries, and started the finger pointing a little early. I suppose it's only natural for us to blame the President.

Mistakes were made which exposed the inadequate planning for such a catastrophe. And a lot of mistakes were made. Ultimatley the buck does stop with him. He is the commander-in-chief, created this behemoth known as the department of homeland security, that doesn't know a thing about really protecting our homeland.

Our president didn't chose his cabinet based on race, but he certainly doesn't pick it based on talent either. Too much was based on cronism and loyalty. As the director of the agency suppsedly in charge inadequately demonstrated. Claiming that the reason why things got so out of hand was because they hadn't expected a calamity of such proportions.

The strength of a civil socity, isn't it's ability to plan for individuals or familes in the case of a disaster. Our leaders did a great job of telling people to evacuate.

Sure one can escape to the hillsides, and mountains, with their generators, deep water wells, and food stocks for a year, while the rest of society and civilization crumbles around them.

The stregnth of civil society lies in it's ability to help the poor and the neediest. While the rest of the city fled, what was left was the poor, the weak, the sick, and the infirm.

That's where things broke down. We became animals, struggling to survive. The images of looters and those finding food. The sqaild conditions which remained. the disaster exposed the inability of our leaders to maintain CIVIL society. And reinforced that we are still a nation divided just as much by race, as well as an economic divide based on means.

Sadly, so it's happened. Tragedies all. A terrorist strike in New York, a Hurricane which crippled New Orlenes, what next? It's been said that the next major catastrophe is going to happen in Los Angeles. An earthquake, which strikes without warning, or worse.

God save us.

Posted by justin at 12:59 PM
July 12, 2005
The Irony of the 'new' Las Vegas

I went at the end of June, with my family. With the opening of the Wynn hotel, it gives new meaning to the phrase of "Thou Shalt not try to make a name for thyself greater than mine."
- Bright Lights, casinos, neon.
- Word Series of Poker at the Rio, "The Real World" suite at the Palms - check
- Fastest growing city, suburban sprawl, hoover dam. Check...
- Las Vegas still city of sin, and excess... Check...

But I would add to it the manipulation of today's marketers, and the vast computing power to figure out to the exact detail, how to do things.
The way that a theme park has a way of sucking money from it's patrons, in a thousand ways, at a hundred different levels, from;
The tour bus junkets coming from retirement homes.
- Slot junkies, oxygen piped piped into the maze like casino.
Families making their summer trips.
- Mcdonalds, and hot dogs, pool with a waterslide.
- A roadside motel, converted to a full vegas resort (the Excalibur)
Couples thinking they deserve a little luxury on their vacations.
Middle income people really wanting to eat, drink, and be entertained.
and be treated and pampered like royalty.
And the high rollers.

Sure, go see all the movies about Las Vegas:
"Casino", "Leaving Las Vegas", "Oceans 11",
"National Lampoons Vegas Vacation", "Showgirls":
Like everything theres some truth to it all. It all still exists, but it's a business unto itself now, not just a front for the ilicit dealings.

But there's a deep irony to the place as well, "it's fake, and almost illusionary, but looking at the real roots, is still quite sad"
For example, why some of the casinos aren't doing so well post Sept 11th.
The Alladin - who want's to go to a casino, modeled after the Middle East.
Paris - ditto with France.

And lastly.
The Mandalay Bay -
The real Mandalay is deep inland in Burma, or Myanmar. A country run under military control, which rivals only North Korea in how backwards and isolationist it is.

Posted by justin at 04:10 PM
November 09, 2004
The blog is back on Xanga

Untill I can figure out how to go around the spammers.. Sigh.

Posted by justin at 04:57 PM
November 04, 2004
A simple question.

They had a blood drive at my company yesterday. So I thought I'd go over and donate. Unfortunatley I was the last person there, and I started reading their exclusion questionaire. There's a question "Please list the countries, you've visited in the past 12 months" For me that was kind of hard, as it included China, Korea, Malaysia, and Singapore, plus the airport in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

I ended up giving the aid a whole geography lesson to see if I'm a disqualified from a Malaria prone, SARS prone, Bird Flu, Mad Cow, or other communicable disease harboring locale. Luckily after all that I passed. So I got my cookies and juice after all.

Posted by justin at 04:55 PM
October 25, 2004
Indigo Som's Chinese Restaurant Search

There's somthing a little odd about this project. Not quite Racist, and well interesting. So it gets a remark and a trackback.

In short it's a telling of how Chinese-American food has permeated the American landscape, completely changing and removing itself from the Cantonese peasant food, becoming American unto itself. Fortune cookies? Sesame Chicken, Egg rolls, crab rangoons. All chinese food, but only found in America.

In a sense it can be a significant topic. Probably more significant than the person at my church who's going to write a dissertation about Caucasian guy / Asian woman relationships and the cultural strugges they're going through. Although that's a fair topic, there's somthing both very personal, and rather disturbing about the topic. As it seems too much like a guide for white guys to date exotic orientals.

And anyways, food is a culturally open topic to discuss, in fact it's one of the first places where we experience other cultures, and one of the last things to dissapear as a culture assimilates.

Posted by justin at 05:29 PM
September 30, 2004

I've started updating pages on the main site. Including putting all the stuff together on one page.

The Malaysian Journey trip is here.

Posted by justin at 10:57 PM
September 29, 2004
Traveling again.

I guess I should update a bit.

And if you're lazy - There's photos here

Yes I'm still thinking about Shanghai, even though one of my good friends who I think is still planning on moving there, they decided to cancel at least part of their exploratory trip this year.

I happen to be sitting in our office in Subang Jaya, Malaysia. Yeah, outside of Kuala lumpur. This is a pretty plain, but still exciting suburb. It's post industrial, there's a lot of big buildings which they started construction, but the developer ran out of money and couldn't finish, so it's like an odd shell. And given the tropical heat, well it's either simply dirt, or somthing's rotting on what's left of the shell. When there's overgrown trees that look pretty big, 3 or 4 metres tall. Construction might have stopped quite a while ago.

But this is a good microcosm for what things might be like. I like it in the fact that there's five colleges here. A vibrant church that reminds me of what things were like in the early days when I was in Boston. Although multicultural, it might not be, mostly Chinese though.

Let's see there's some photos, and some more photos. So well I guess I'm sort of enjoying my time out here, trying to get some work done.

What I like about this place.
Food, people are friendly, laundry can be done cheap... And it's a change of pace. But I miss home... Dreadfully.

Posted by justin at 11:30 PM