Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Great Ideas come in a great while

One day while at work, when I used to work. I got some client artwork from Ihop Pancakes. It included a company logo. I digitally played around with the letters of the logo and made it say "Hip Hop" restaurants as opposed to Ihop Restaurants. So I refine the logo until I make a killer parody design and I think this will make a great like novelty shirt. But first I look up on Google to see if nothing like it is made or if an actually Hip Hop restaurant exists. It doesn't appear to be. I actually upload the design to a website where they make t-shirts to order. I worry about giving the design up that easily to a company that takes a big piece of the pie. Plus I worried about their quality and copyrights, etc. So I don't do anything with the design and I put the whole thing in the back of my mind on what to do with it. Years later, someone else (unrelated to me) has the same idea and actually makes a t-shirt. See pic. Lesson learned? No. It is a cool idea but I still wouldn't have done anything with it. It may be the fifty dollar idea but not the million dollar idea. Well, unless Justin Timberlake or someone started wearing this shirt. Boy, it sure helps that this design guy has babes to wear his shirts. Anyways, my design looked just like this one but I made it years ago. Oh well, figure your own lesson to the story.

Brown people get burned.

The temperature has been hitting our summer's highest. We spontaneously decided to drive to Santa Cruz Beach. We are lucky to live about a half hour away from the ocean. All we pack are like beach towels and baby stuff. We plan to buy everything else we need. Because that's how we roll. So we're at the beach, we got a great spot in the sun a few feet from the waves. The air is so cool, we're not even bothered by the beating sun. Since I am a brown dude, of course I don't use sunscreen. I've never had to use it in my life. Well, the next day I notice I am a little red. And I actually sting when I lean back on a chair or put on a shirt. And within the next few days I notice I itch and I peel. See pics. Yes, brown people do get burned. I should mention I haven't been in the sun a long while so I probably was senisitve due to being yellow. NAAAASTY, huh? So brown people, this summer, break out the lotion - you may need it.

Panini Press Sandwich Maker

I recently got a sandwich press as a birthday gift. Why, you say? Well I actually wanted one. If you watch enough of the Food Network like I do, you'll often see a lot of their tv programs about Paninis, grilling and pressing sandwiches. From Cuban to Italian - everyone seems to have their take on the sandwich. I wanted something different than the typical American sandwich, so therefore my birthday wish. Sure, I tried the SnackMaster by ToastMaster, but it became BoringMaster. It seems like it does the same thing but the ToastMaster we had was old and wasn't heating evenly. The edges would burn while the centers weren't even toasted. Well, now I am a happy camper. I probably have eaten a toasted sandwich probably everyday since I got it (I have a late night snack habit).

The picture shows a banana, chocolate syrup, peanut butter, and strawberry jam pressed sandwich. All toasted up with a little sugared butter crust. No I don't eat those often.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Acupuncture Session 5?

Final part of my 5 part blog of life with Acupuncture. This comes late, reason explained later. I forgot to write down my notes for this last session. Ain't I a great reporter? I'll try to break it down from what I can remember and if not, I'll make up something. First off, I got pains Western Medicine couldn't help me with so I sought out alternative medicine via this Acupuncture School. Read previous posts to get the full jisto.

I saw the very first intern doctor I had here in the waiting room. He asked how I was doing and motioned the shoulder, so I was impressed he actually remembered me from 5 weeks ago. Maybe it's the herbs he probably takes or maybe the classes at the school study my medical files. The same intern doc (older guy) that I've been seeing took my vitals, even blood pressure too, then we went straight to therapy. I undressed and got on my side. I had about 2 extra needles in the back, none on the knees, 1 in the head. The supervising teacher did that one. All were pretty gentle. Wow, I was really hoping something miraculous would happen so I could say "Ha, ha western medicine". But really I feel no great change in myself. Maybe worse. All I got was a lot of anxiety, anticipating the pain of needles. I can humor myself and think my dry skin is slowly getting better, but I still got neck and shoulder pains when I sleep on them. If anything, they recover pretty fast once I get up. But I can't say if it was Acupuncture affecting it. But you know it is really hard to say if the pain I felt 5 weeks ago is as intense as it is now. So results are inconclusive. Luckily I had this blog to reread and when I really do think about it, I have been feeling better. Here is where the delay in this Part 5 occurs. I decided to extend my Acupuncture sessions with another 5. Why? Well I really want it to help me and I think 5 sessions wasn't enough to change anything. So I signed up for 5 more sessions. This time I have been proactive on the healing. Before I kinda let the Acupuncture do its thing and document it straight on the Acupuncture like a blind study with no variables. But you know, you can't do that. Believe it or not, before I used to accept the therapy, go home and sit on my ass and bitch and moan if I wasn't better but now I totally try to exercise, think positive, try to figure out if I can sleep in a different position to avoid pain, etc. I realize now, I really gotta work with the acupuncture to heal myself. Anyways, I am coming to my 10th session. Do I have a judgement on Acupuncture? Well the daily pain that started this quest in my neck, shoulder and chest is gone or goes away quick. And really, I've only been proactive on working with it recently so I think overall Acupuncture has worked for me. Stay tuned for updates.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Acupuncture Session 4

Part 4 of my 5 part investigation in to the world of Acupuncture. Brief intro, I got ailments that Western Medicine wasn't handling so I thought I'd try an alternative. I paid for 5 sessions at an Acupuncture School and after that I get a re-exam. Let's see what happens if anything in this bloggy diary of the details. Please read the earlier parts of the series to get the gist of it all.

My fourth session starts as usual, seeing an intern for questions and vitals. This time I get 2 interns. One observing the other, I guess. The main intern Doctor is the guy I think I had last week. The observing intern speaks english with no accent. I almost thought he looked like he could be Mexican but then he spoke Chinese to the main intern doc, so I don't know. The main doc dude looked a lot shorter in the reflection of the picture frame where I think I saw him last week. He was poking needles in me from behind so I didn't really see him. He asks me how I'm doing. I tell him, "The same". I say I still have some pains. Both intern docs look at my tongue and each doc takes a pulse off each of my hands. Kinda weird. I guess so they can compare results. The main intern Doc actually redoes my pulse then uses his watch to time something.Unusual because this is the first time here that I've seen a pulse done with a watch. Normally I thought they checked pressure and strength of the pulse, not the beat count.

I'm next led to a therapy room, they leave and I take off with my outer clothes. Same routine as last, I lay on my side, face to wall. This exam room doesn't have a picture frame or anything I can get reflections off of. So when the docs return, I know both interns and the supervising doc are there. But as they start needling me, I have no idea who does what. An intern could probably even leave the room without me knowing. They all work quick as a team, dabbing alcohol, fingering the accupuncture points, and speaking low in Chinese. I close my eyes most of the time and try to distract myself from the needle poking. They put 2 more needles in me than last week into my back. So 8 total in my back along the spine. I don't think they did my shoulders. 2 in my knees. And 1 needle in the top of my head. The Supervising doc does that one and thankfully she is gentle. I can't tell you how the feeling is of the anticipation and the actual pain of a needle being flicked in to you. I guess you have to just experience it yourself. And when it goes in pretty painless, I can breathe out in relief. The docs left and I was in the heat lamp for a while. I'm checked on frequently. My right shoulder is very uncomfortable with all my weight on it. I try to adjust and want to move my legs too, but I don't want to upset the needles. I notice they shake when I move. Doesn't seem like a good thing. And maybe I'm nuts but the needles seem to heat up in the heat lamp and I can really feel them, like hot pokers. When the main intern doc comes back, he gives me my most thorough massage that I've been given here. Seems kinda inaccurate though because I am still on my side and how much is he getting my right shoulder, because it seems kinda crammed at that angle. He shakes around my shoulders and pats my back area in like a circular pattern all through a heated towel. I like it, I think it loosens my back up. My session is over and I put my clothes on and take off.

I wonder what after effects I may feel through the rest of the day. Tiredness and soreness seem to be common for me. But this time I get none of that. I just feel normally like I do any other time. I definitely was tired and sore the first few sessions, but with this week and last week probably less. I keep an open mind that Acupuncture will do something for me and help me, but today's effects are nil. Next week, if all goes well, is my conclusion and final thoughts.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Acupuncture Session 3

Continuing my 5 part insider's look at the world of Acupuncture. Briefly, I got pains and problems too numerous to mention. Decided to give Acupuncture a shot, ha ha. Get it. I paid for 5 treatments at a local Acupuncture school, after that I get an exam of the results. This bloggy diary of my five sessions hopes to give you everything I see and feel. See previous parts of this story to get the total jist.

Pains of the week. I still get stiff in the neck when I lay on it. My left leg flared up on Wednesday, means it hurts when I walk on it. And my right shoulder hurts when I put weight on it (sleeping on my side).

I make it to this week's appointment, sit in the waiting room and worry if I'll get another hard handed newbie or gentle touch intern like I had the first time. It turns out the Supervising Acupuncturist Teacher takes me in for the exam. She does the vitals: tongue and pulse. I ask about the dampness in my tongue and she says, "It is getting better, There is less coating on the tongue". For whatever reason she doesn't do my blood pressure. I always felt that was a Western medicine thing anyway.

We go to the therapy room and she wants to have me lie on my side to make it easy for me because she feels I am always dizzy during treatments. I correct her and say I only got dizzy last time but that was only when I had the pressure points in my hand injected. I told her I ate more this time (treatments burn the body's energy). She says she will not do my hands again because they are sensitive. She leaves. I get naked, meaning take off outer wear. I lay on my side on the treatment table with a towel, face to the wall. The Sup Doc is back and I see in the glass reflection of the pressure points chart,a short man hurriedly come in too. She describes to the guy what is going on in Chinese and kinda shows him the points with her fingers. He gets the needles together and this all happens in seconds. I brace myself and get pricked in the back along my spine. The Sup Doc tells me she will put a needle in my head to allieviate my neck pain and says it will be sensitive. Once again, no time to react. She (Doc) is applying alchohol swab to the top of my head (direct middle, center). It basically feels like my hair is getting all the alcohol but I'm sure the swab touches my skin a bit. I tense up my muscles and she pokes my head gently. It is not bad but maybe I am distracted because at the same time, the intern guy is finishing his pokes with 6 needles in my back. He is not gentle either! I try to relax. The doc comes back around to my legs and does my knees. My first knee is painlessly pricked. The second knee is sandwiched between the table and my other knee so a hard position to get to. I will gladly move it out a bit for her but nah, before I can ask, she tries at that angle anyway and it hurt a bit. Not as much as the intern dude. When I say hurt, I mean pinch. Pain is gone once needle is in correctly. Sometimes the needles go in too deep. I think I teared during one of the intern's hits and I actually cried out an ouch. Overall I was feeling okay when they were done. Heat lamp went on at the lowest setting because I was burning up the last time. The doctors leave me. I calm myself down as I lay, breathed in and breathed out. Intern guy checks on me a few times, I can't understand the dude very well. I lay and rest as I rewrite this blog in my head trying not to forget the details. The Sup doc comes back and gives me a massage threw a warm towel. Basically she gives me a quick cycle of shaking my shoulders and back area around. She gives that area hard pats too with the palm of her hand I think. The Sup doc then uses 2 fingers and goes up and down the sides of my spine a few times hitting accupressure points, pretty fast. I hope her aim is good. She totally pinches her finger in my left hip too. My guess is it is for my left hip pain. Shes says that she is done and that I can get dressed.

I leave the medical clinic feeling refreshed whether that is psychological or because I am relieved it is over? I even feel that I am walking with a straighter posture. Feeling positive and full of energy, I start to pick up the pace and want to run to my car. Then I feel my shoulder pound and ache as I run about three steps and I think, nope, maybe I don't feel so good. I look at my watch and I was probably in treatment for like an hour and a half laying on my right shoulder. All my body weight pressing down on it. Ouch. I anticipate what after effects I should expect today. Will I be sore as hell or no effect? I don't even feel dizzy like my second treatment. I even go a little shopping before I head home. When I get home, I babysit and supervise the kids naptime. It's there that it hits me. I am really tired. I don't think I am normally tired like this during the day. The kids wake up as Nich gets back from the grocery but I want to nap too. Nich doesn't want me to sleep. And I didn't mean to, but I fall asleep sitting in the recliner and am out cold for like 30 minutes. I don't even hear the kids playing around me. I can conclude that the Acupuncture treatment put out my body but I also thought maybe my body was tired from going to San Francisco (see my WonderCon blog) and walking around.

I should mention that I have dry, patchy skin on my knees and elbows that the first intern told me was due to stress. And since that condition started a year ago, I'd believe I've been down with a lot of stress within the last year. The reason I don't mention this condition in the blogs earlier is because my goal with the Acupuncture is to relieve my joint pains. The skin thing is a bonus if they can cure it. Normally I have dry scabs that stay and grow bigger if I try to peel them myself. Anyways I notice that the dry patches are peeling off on their own which means they may heal up. I know this because Western medicine prescribed me this steroid cream that I had to use daily giving me those results. The peeling / healing results are not fast as the cream, but maybe my body is slowly healing itself.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

WonderCon 2005 SF

In case you don't know... WonderCon is the big Comic Book, Toy, Anime, SciFi, Costuming Geek Event of Northern California. I know, I've been going for years. My friends invited me this year and last. I've been off and on with mainstream comics since the mid 90's but have always tried to keep up with what's new, at least in the indie comic scene. And a big part in keeping up with comics is going to comic book conventions.

So we take a BART train from Fremont to the event at Moscone Convention Center in downtown San Francisco. It is a rainy day as we emerge from the escalator out of the train station on Powell Street. A brisk walk for a few blocks takes us to the Moscone Center. It is about 11am so the big entrance lines have already went in and we casually hop in the registration line to get our entrance badges. WIth badges firmly pinned, we make it down the stairs and into the main lecture room. The plan is to stake out some good seats and hold them all dayl. It is pretty empty with programmming to begin in about an hour and a half. We get to like the third row of the middle section. We sprawl all our bags and jackets along the seats to look like we live here and stake our claim. We all agree to take shifts on the holding seats. So the non-seat holders can peruse the dealer's room or take a bathroom break. Why? Because in reality, you may have a Star Wars event where this room will be jam packed. You never know. Between exchanging shifts, I am off and on between the dealer's room and the lecture hall. And between that I grab a quick bite to eat at Mel's Dinner which is a block down the street. I get a big ol' cheeseburger. Yum! I skip the Joss Whedon 1:00 lecture for the dealers room. Yes, the almighty dealer's room. Stuff upon stuff. Same stuff as all conventions: bootleg DVD of rare tv or movies, Hong Kong DVDs, Anime Toys, Superhero toys, Vintage comics, comics people are trying to get rid of, original art, etc. I like looking at the stuff but not necessarily interested in buying. I can appreciate the craft in a tiny futuristic motorcycle DragonBall toy from Japan. There is a autograph alley in the dealer's room where you could've met celebs like Richard Hatch or Margot Kidder. Front center of the dealer's room was the industry big wig tables which I couldn't get near because of all the people, so I can't tell you who was there. I did see the demos of City of Heroes video game. There is an artist alley where you can meet the big wig industry artists to the self publishing creators. And within Artists Alley is Adult Models Avenue (that's the name I gave it). Who's to say they are not artists? I skip by this area, nothing to do with the models, it's the creepy hairy drooling men in this aisle that scare me.

The first lecture I catch is 2:00pm with Kevin Smith of Clerks, Mallrats fame. Lines were so long to even get through the door. I had to sneak in through a side door and convince the volunteer guard I already had a seat waiting. Kevin Smith gets onstage. He is full of personality and cusses a lot but the crowd seems to love it. I guess he is the ultimate hero fanboy for all geeks. The guy is a comic collector and Star Wars fan. Makes a few independent films, gets famous and then gets to write comic books and write superhero screenplays. Smith answers audience questions right away, interacts well with the fans and seemingly can make up the weirdest stories on the spot. He talked about writing the screenplay for Superman and the Green Hornet. Most questions wanted inside info like about the Superman movie and next Star Wars movie, but Kevin didn't give anything up. His movie bro, Jason Mewes makes a surprise appearance too.

330-430pm.The next speaker was Julian McMahon promoting the Fantastic Four movie. He plays on FX's Nip and Tuck, but will play Dr. Doom in the FF movie. I downloaded a pic of the crew from the web a while ago and I didn't think they looked believable. BUt seeing the trailer, I am all over that movie. It looks awesome! Even though they changed the origin of the Fantastic Four completely, I understand they have to dum down or make it more acceptable to a mainstream audience. McMahon was funny and charmed the crowd. I'm not sure he really read the Fantastic Four books like he said, but I'm sure all the actors tell us they've read the comics.

430-500pm. Next presentation had superproducer, Joel Silver and ex-24 star, Elisa Cuthbert presenting a preview for new horror flick, House of Wax. Paris Hilton was a no show for this event. I would've loved to see her, though my friends didn't care for her celebutante status. Well the movie preview showed Paris isn't much of an actress, but I thought the movie looked pretty good. During audience questions, Cuthbert admitted that she was asked to participate in future episodes of 24 but didn't reveal anything else. Another guy in the audience even admited he was a fan of hers since she was in Canada with her Nico the Unicorn movie. What? What? You know Elisa got on her celly to call security for that stalker. No, him not me.

500-530pm. The star of Batman Begins, Christian Bale takes the stage. He is the same actor who dropped his weight to like 97 lbs. for a movie role. A six minute Batman preview is shown. Security guards with binoculars watch the audience for video recording because of the absolute exclusivity of the footage. Bale admits to a much darker movie closer to the feel of the Miller Batman, I guess. In other words, more of a vengeful vigilante. Interestingly, he took to Batman as the character's real personality and Bruce Wayne was like the mask he used in public.

My friends sit and stay for the Star Wars presentation along with probably 90% of the WonderCon attendees. I, on the otherhand, use this to my advantage to take over the dealer's room. Nah, I just want to check out all the junk for sale within the last hour of the Con. So I pace up and down the aisles to whatever catches my eye. Hmmm. 5 books for $20 or everything $1. Good prices but lousy books. Everything has been cherry picked, I'm sure. I end up getting a copy of Super7 magazine with Godzilla on the cover. Inside has some good art. Then I get 3 back issues of DRAW! Magazine. This is one my favorite mags. It offers tips on shading, coloring, perspective, etc. Always a different focus and guest artist for each issue. Well, it is getting late and people are being kicked out of the dealer's room. Goodbye, Wondercon. Hello train ride home.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Tips on Shoplifting 2

Nich had the kids with her at play group so I had nothing to do on a late morning Friday. I go to Tower (Records). As I was about to walk into the store, I see an older guy, graying beard with a heavy type ski jacket go in ahead of me. Nothing particularly special about the guy. I got a lot of time to kill so I figure I will hang out and look at EVERYTHNG+ books, magazines, toys, etc. As I was looking at the dumb stuff in the clearance box. I noticed the bearded guy had a 2 way radio go off and he talked to someone in Spanish. Nothing weird about that, I figure the guy works down the street and someone is looking for him. Work is a common usage I know with 2way radios. I look at all the action figures along the toy racks along the store's walls. I see the bearded guy walk by. He has a pack of blank CDs. There are really not a lot of people in the store. I go over to the listening areas to hear some new music CDs. I see beard guy carrying no items now. Weird. Stands out to me because: A) 2 way radio B) Carrying items, then not carrying items. I think the guy is security. 2way radios were common security use when I was working at an amusement park. I remember this undercover security guy used to hold his radio in a small plastic store bag. This bearded guy just keeps it in the pocket of his heavy jacket. Also I know Tower has undercover security, one time I saw a guy that appeared to be shopping and a Tower employee was talking to him like he knew him, plus that guy had a radio too. Dead giveaway dude. So I am at a listening station and bearded guy is like 2 racks away from me standing reading a magazine. Reading a magazine in the middle of CD aisles. Pretty random spot to read a magazine. The guy never looks at me though. I listen to 3 CDs. It takes a long time to find the hit song and hear the chorus and figure out if the album is good, but that guy is still there at the same rack reading and never looking at me. I wonder if I am a target because my back is facing the employees at the register and my body is against the listening booth. Guess I can unwrap a CD and put in my pants this way. I mean, I don't know, why else is that beard guy sweating me. Well I am bored with listening to CDs. I figure I'll look at magazines next. But then I think I should go somewhere else to see if the guy follows me. I said whatever and went to magazines anyways. I am a magazine design nut so I like to look at every magazine at every section. I start at the beginning on the left side then lo and behold bearded guy is at the magazines, middle of the racks. Of course now he is holding a music CD. I notice employees walk by him and not say anything so I figure these Tower employees are smart, not reacting to the guy. Eventually I get to the middle of the magazine racks about the same time more people are looking at magazines. As I walk past the supposed guard, he looks at me as I pass by. I was into some music magazine and finished when I look up and noticed all the other shoppers were gone. Even the guard dude. So I put the mag away and get ready to leave and notice an Asian dude was kinda standing behind me reading a magazine, wearing a thick ski type jacket. I am out of there!

Lee's Sandwiches, Vietnamese Sandwiches

They have about 50 Lee's Sandwiches shops around the United States. They have all seemed to spring up within the last year. Like one grand opening a month. The difference with this chain than like Subway is Lee's serves Vietnamese sandwiches. My friend Erik and I used to get this type of sandwich downtown decades ago for like .75 cents to a dollar each. Sometimes buy one get one free too. Thing was the meat was a mystery. Sometimes it was white loaf or super fatty unidentified ham type. Especially since you don't ask, they just gave you whatever. But every sandwich would have fresh baked french bread, fresh vegetables and pate. Very unique. And most of all very cheap eats. This Lee's chain has gotten smart since those days. All the meats are pretty much identified catering to non vietnamese and this chain caters even more so with typical turkey & cheese american type sandwiches on the menu also. Sure you can still get an avocado shake here too so don't get me wrong, it is a American friendly Vietnamese eating. Since finding out they built a shop by my house. I go like every week. Gone is the pate on the grilled chicken sandwich ($2) and the bread is not toasted warm and crispy before each order like I was used to. But otherwise a great, inexpensive sandwich. They have eggrolls and fried bananas in the heated glass case too. And I've noticed if you go to a different location they may have other totally different fried things. This last time I went, I thought I'd be adventurous and get the Combination sandwich ($2.50) which looks like the classic I used to get years ago. Surprisingly it had pate. Wasn't flavorful though. The meat was a red fatty, rubbery slice with pepper corns in it. The meat not was generous, just enough to taste in each bite. But why was it .50 cents more than the chicken? Maybe pate boosts the price. Not too disgusting but I was hoping for combination of different meats. Yeah, maybe it was. Overall Lee's is a great tasting adventure to me.

Acupuncture Session 2

Continuing my 5 part expose on the Acupuncture industry. Briefly I have ailments and I paid for 5 treatments at a local Acupuncture school. Let's see the results through this bloggy diary of my five sessions. See previous parts of this story to get the total jist.

My second visit begins with a new intern doctor to my surprise. I'm like, what happened to the other guy? No biggie I figure, he just reads my chart and continues the pin poking. But we go to the examination room and and asks why I am here. I briefly explain my shoulder, back and neck ailments and ask him politely to look at the chart. Because I feel like I just went through all that medical life history stuff already. Intern doc looks at the chart and I get this "oh, okay" response. He then takes my vital signs like from my first visit: blood pressure, pulse and tongue check. I ask how my blood pressure compared to last week and it is way better. I was borderline high level before. I think it is because I am always nervous with medical appointments and I felt better this second time. Doc takes my pulse and if you read part 1, I am still curious about my dampness condition and I ask about the dampness and how it is detected. He says he can tell by the pressure he applies and the strength of the pulse I give that shows normalness, below normalness or dampness.

I am then taken to a therapy room, different room, probably a little smaller than last time. I let the intern know that I can't lay flat comfortably in my condition so I let him know I'll use the room's chair. He sets it up next to the massage table and it leaves no room to walk around the chair. So if you were to come in the room, the chair pretty much blocks you from getting into the rest of the room. He says to take off my clothes, I know the routine, and he leaves the room. I do it and sit in the chair. I notice a new poster on the wall and it is a closeup of an ear diagram detailing points of the ear that respond to seemingly every health condition: like congested nose and headache. I don't have enough time to study it but there were at least 50 points in the ear for every ailment. The diagram was so crowded with names, points and lines that I thought I was looking at war map surrounding the Yangtze River. Anyways the intern doctor comes in and squeezes past me around the chair to get the needles and get started. He like swabs my whole back at one time instead of swabbing each area before each puncture. Right then and there I hit fear with comparing the first intern I had. That guy was great, nice and gentle. Not to mention there was no supervising doctor this time around. I kinda thought it'd be rude to ask why. Maybe, I wondered if this intern was good enough to be doing it by himself. He was fast and got down to it. He didn't have to feel around for the pressure point too much. It seemed he found it then pricked me. This guy's touch actually hurt more and I winced and said ouch to myself alot. While the first intern guy I had did a fast flick of the needle, I can feel the new guy like hammering it in me. Like tap, tap, tap, in. So it wasn't as quick, nice and easy as I liked. Intern doc even pushed the needles in too far and you can feel him pull the needle back out a little when it happened. So he does my neck, back and shoulders. The knees, the intern tells me, increases blood circulation. He finishes my knees and I can't believe I survived. Then Intern Doc says he is gonna apply to a sensitive area, I wince. And he says he will apply needles to the side of my hands (sensitive because the skin is thinner there), to ease the pain in my back. I have no time to react and he positions my hand into a fist, knuckles up, on my knee and shoots the needle in. Actually was quick and painless. Then he hurriedly squeezes, because of the tight chair position, past my legs to the other knee, all needles bob and weave on me. Doc positions my hand and shoots. Oh man, the needle goes in deep. It was like I felt the needle puncture through artery, muscle and bone. I was like "ahhhhh, ahhhh, ahhhh". And the doc quickly pulled the needle back a little. Weird ass feeling but I calmed down and it was okay. I've kinda seen how it is done now. I was too scared to look my first time. The tiny hair thin needle (not really hair thin looking as I've seen it described) actually comes in a clear plastic tube a little shorter than the needle. Next to the needle in the tube is like a long green colored stopper, maybe made of fabric. The tube is placed on top of the pressure point, then the doctor pulls the green fabric stopper out of the tube. The needle is then loose inside the tube. With the top of the handle top needle exposed at the top of the clear plastic tube, the doctor flicks the needle into the skin. Pretty ingenious, huh. I originally thought the doctor held the needle with 2 fingers and smacked them in like a short distance game of darts.

So all the needles are in and the doctor spins the neck of the heat lamp to my back, turns it on, and leaves the room. All of a sudden I can actually feel a upward flushing of like heat rise up from my fists through my arms and into my head. Aw man, I don't know what I am feeling. Light headedness, headache, dizzy, I don't know how to describe it all. The heat is cooking me. I feel like throwing up but not being able to throw up. I'm like how long can I last like this, should I pull the needles out, call out for help. I was kinda scared. I instantly felt I was gonna crap in my pants. I held it in. In the back of all this pain, I'm like, this acupuncture stuff really works. I mean there is no doubt. How can the guy needle my hand and I instantly feel a flushing heat take over my body. Was this psychological I thought? Maybe I was worrying and causing myself to panic more. SO I tryed to breathe in and out slowly like "Tai Chi" and calm down but I could not. I bent forward away from the heat lamp. I was like burning up and I wanted to go to the bathroom. My body was outta control. I knew there was no way I could last the normal 30 minute treatment sitting there. It was probably 2 minutes total that elapsed, but felt like an eternity when The intern and the supervising doctor come in. They ask how it was going. I was like "I'm dizzy, lightheaded, headachey". The intern took the hand needles out and massaged my hand and said "how's that?" "The same", I said, and the intern took out all the needles. Same feeling. The super said I took to the treatment really well and asked if I ate breakfast and I said " a little". She said I should be on a full stomach because my body needs to draw a lot of energy from the body. Oh, now she tells me. Last visit she told me I shoulda ate breakfast, but I was too nervous and not hungry. The Sup tells the intern to give me a back rub and she surprisingly remembered I can lie on my side okay and instructed me to do that until I felt better. Intern doc does a quick shoulder & back rub through a warm towel. Typically I'm all down for a massage to my aches but I am in no mood to appreciate it. I just want to lay down and when they leave the room, I did. I just dropped myself on the bed, arm hanging off the side, most of my boxers peeking out under the towel. Man, I didn't care. I was slowly feeling better as I laid there still in disbelief of the effects of Acupuncture. My arm kept falling off the table so I know I was dozing off a little. The intern checked on me and I said I was getting better. The next time he checked in I said I was good and was gonna dress up, but layed there for a minute more. I just felt kinda weird laying there on a massage table, half sleeping with no clothes on. So I got dressed and left. My head still having a slight spin that continued through the afternoon. I remember the Supervising Doctor saying the treatment would still work since the needles were in for a short amount of time. I kept thinking I didn't get my moneys worth but I couldn't handle the full session. I was hoping maybe I'd get the aches and the sweats through the day like last treatment. But as I write this I feel no lingering effects of the therapy. My conclusion is the longer the better on the therapy. I don't know if I can handle the same thing happening next week. Maybe I'll try to last a little longer, knowing now I won't die. I will definitely eat something more. Maybe bring a bottled juice too.

Tips on Shoplifting Part 1

Nich, me and the kids went to the mall. Ate in the food court then went to a store that shall remain nameless. We get 2 shopping carts, one for each kid to sit in, the guard smiles at us as we go by. I'm always suspicious of security guards. I put the kid's diaper bag in my cart along with the styrofoam carton of mall food leftovers. We proceed to do our shopping, roving around for face cleanser. "Uh, do you need another toothbrush?""Can I get cookies?" "Hey, I need shades to replace the ones I broke". I want shades too. I lost my shades in Vegas when I went down in September. Probably left 'em in the rent a car or my dad kept them and lied to me. The styles suck in this store unless you wanna pay like $20 or $15. That may be cheap to some people, but I go through shades like nobody's business. Lenses crack, pop, frames break, bullet holes or yeah, they get lost. So I don't like to spend a lot on shades. I find a decent pair and throw it in my cart. We get to the cash register and throw everything on the conveyor belt. The kids are nuts as usual for candy or something. I pay for the items. Nich tries to get the bags. I zoom ahead to keep my kid distracted. I look at the receipt briefly to see how much I am charged for my shades. I've learned the hard way to always check the receipt before you leave the store or you'll be hating yourself if you have to drive back for a mispriced item. Anyways I can't find my shades on the receipt and I think to myself I don't remember putting it on the conveyor belt. My eyes dart down to the bottom of the cart for a brief second. Then my brain registers, I know what happened. The diaper bag fell on top of the shades, I didn't see them in the cart and they weren't scanned. We cart up to the guard at the store door and I figure I'd show him my receipt where he can catch the shades in the cart and we can inoccently say "oh, we forgot to put it in the scanner". No harm done. I'm sure it happens all the time, that's why he's there. I cart up the the guard, raise the recipt up to him with my hand, but he doesn't want to see my receipt and says I can go. I'm like alright free shades! Then we come up to the exit door and the shoplift detectors. I'm like, "oh crap, is it gonna beep?" We are in the no excuses range. We are dead meat! Really no time to think. Nich doesn't know whats going on and goes through. Sensors beep as the tip of my cart hits the sensor. I stop and turn around confused because I am. The guard runs over and says "was it your cart?" I say yeah, "Do you want to check the bag?", and I start to open it up and he goes no since my cart only has a diaper bag, he says it is probably a cell phone or something we are carrying. He sees the store bags are in Nich's cart that didn't beep and the guard lets us go through. As we leave the store we talk about where we parked the car and I whisper to Nich that my shades weren't on the receipt then I say they were under the diaper bag. "Let's get the car quick!" Sure I found a price discrepancy on the face cleanser compared to the price on the shelf but I'm not saying it justifies anything. I am not proud of keeping the shades but somehow I do wish I got the higher priced model.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Acupuncture Session 1

I have started Acupuncture therapy. It will be my first time. I have paid for 5 sessions. After that I will get an examination to check the progress. So I thought this would be a great time to blog diary the 5 sessions and maybe account for if the stuff really works, doesn't work or what effect it has on me.

I have been getting some pains lately in the neck and shoulder. They may stem from worsening of some of my many uncurable medical conditions that I do not want to get into right now. But anyways, I felt maybe now is time to call on "Alternative Medicine" for help. I found an acupuncture school off Google that was local and had a clinic. Reason being, I wanted to try acupuncture but not necessarilly pay full acupuncture prices. I tried reading about acupuncture on the net and felt it could help my conditions. I made an appointment but was really scared about the needles. I mean as much as people are gonna say it don't hurt but with a mild sting - it is hard to get over the feeling that someone is gonna stick multiple needles in your body.

I met up with my intern doctor in a little office. He is originally a pharmacist from Taiwan. Let me say he spoke English well but found it hard to explain some things so I will try to describe what I think he meant. We talked about what my problem was and my medical history. And he said he thought acupuncture can help. I believe the goal of Acupuncture therapy is to stimulate neurons and promote the body's self-healing system, at least that's the message I get from the intern. He took my blood pressure, pulse and looked at my tongue. The pulse was done on both of my hands, but you'd think all he needed was one. And I asked what can be seen from the tongue. Because to me they would look all the same. He said he noticed a dampness to my tongue and a purple color and teeth bites that indicated pain of some sort. When he mentioned "teeth marks", I thought man, there must be something to acupuncture. He was dead on to something. Because I always bite my tongue. Especially when I sleep on my side and my tongue hangs down between my teeth. I was under the impression from him that I bit my tongue because of underlying pain within me, but I thought I did it because of a slight overbite? He said that my tongue corroborated the dampness that he also felt in my pulse. He then asked if my urine was yellow or clear. I said yellow. Is it supposed to be yellow? I ask what can be seen in the urine? Of course, the answer he sayd is "dampness". I asked what is dampness? Why is it bad? He tried to use the analogy of a jungle with many damp leaves, that pile and pile and being compressed through time creates fossil fuels. The damper the leaf, the more it will lead to fuel. Bottom line, that I get is, there is hotness (unwellness) within dampness.

After the examination, I am led to a treatment room. My intern doctor tells me he is going to confer with the lead doctor and have her supervise treatment. So I am told to take off my shirt and jeans and I wait. Of course I take off my shoes and looking at the diagram of the human body's acupuncture points - it looks like my feet could be involved so I take off my socks too. Hey, maybe in Acupuncture the foot controls the pain in the neck? After waiting a while, the intern doctor and the supervising doctor come in. The Super finishes asking me a few more questions. She has been a doctor in China for about 8 years and 6 years in the U.S. Lying down wasn't good for me so I sat in a regular wooden chair. I get a towel for my lap. The therapy begins with a swab of alcohol to the neck, then the intern guy would feel around the area he's gonna inject with his finger while he was talking to me. I think he was trying to sike me out. Then all of a sudden, he flicks the back of the needle in me (I'm guessing that's how he does it). It kinda feels like someone flicks their finger hard against you, smacking you with the fingernail... a quick sting. Kinda slow process, because the same routine, swabbing, feeling around, etc. occurs before each puncture. All in all, I get 6 needles down my neck and spine, 1 on each shoulder (2), then 4 (2 on each leg) below my knee on the outer side and above the knee on my inner side. The needles didn't hurt at all. It is mostly fear that bothered me. They say I need to leave them there for 20 - 30 minutes. They turn a heat lamp on my neck and they leave me and I wait, I stare at the walls, look at the diagram on the wall with the pressure points. I notice there is a pressure point behind the bozacks. Kinda scared about that one. My arms hurt resting on the wooden arm rests and I fidget a little until I see needles on my knees vibrating from my motion. Between the exam and the therapy time, the school is closing so I feel I only waited a quick 20 minutes before the Super comes back in. She pulls out all the needles in like 3 seconds. Yikes. She has a bottle of rose oil for my backside. Strong ass smelling stuff. She doesn't just massage and work it into my shoulders like you'd guess - no, more like splat the oil on and smear it in real quick and its bye bye. I remark how it smells like roses and citrus and shes like "nope, think again". She holds the bottle to my nose and I say "Ah, licorice?". She laughs, in a wrong, "it is made of stuff you never heard of" way. She left & I got my clothes on.

I was feeling good when I left the clinic. Uplifted and full or energy for whatever reason, maybe it was the pungant rose oil smell that intoxicated me and followed me wherever I went. About an hour or two later, my back was kinda stinging like I was beat up. I was tired and napped with my kids. Later on through the evening I really felt tired, sore, slow and sluggish. I crashed to bed early at 10:00pm. But I wasn't sleepy and laid down all achey. I thought about the acupuncture therapy I endured through the day. Tossed and turned for an hour before I finally fell asleep. I concluded that the acupuncture gave my body a physical workout without the workout. I really began to feel that acupuncture really did do something to my body. Those seemingly random placed needles actually activated something in my body. I mean I was tired, sore and sweaty all through the night. But maybe I am normally sweaty. When I woke up the next day, I did not want to get up. I was wondering how I was gonna make it through the day. I can't get up, bend down, I can barely carry my kids out of their cribs. Taking aspirin is what I normally would do but I think it would be counterproductive to my acupuncture therapy. I instead got up with my kids and wondered if I would have to call Nich at work to help me out. But as I suspected I felt a little better as the morning rolled on.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Year in Review

Ah.. the year in review. Well I guess it can be summed up as a lot happened and a lot didn't happen but I guess that's like every year. This was my first year as a fulltime stay at home dad. Maybe this is cliche but taking care of 2 kids has been a lot of work but very rewarding. I have really grown to feel a lot of love for them. When I first had these kids it was like "ugh babies", what do I do, when can I sleep? But now I feel that they actually want to learn, play and be with me. They will be two years old soon and they are growing fast. Watching over the twins all day has taken a lot of patience. I used to be mad when they would get into things like getting a pen from the table. Now I take the stance that it is not their fault and I should've had the pen put away. They also sap all my energy and that is my excuse for not doing blogs on a regular basis. Sometimes the days would be long, especially when they or I were sick. But a day care dad has to work no matter the condition. In general the days have gone by fast and I always look forward to their nap as my break. And sometimes I take a nap too. A lot of my nights consisted of being on the computer or life drainings from the tv.

I was luckily enough this year to have a lot of freelance illustrations from HP to keep me busy along with an Identity and business card design for a relative's financial company startup. I did all the freelance stuff through the night. I can't believe I made it through some of those jobs. I seem to do my best work under pressure. I learned a lot with the multiple illustrations and because of time deadline, with each job I had to work smarter to be faster. I miss being a fulltime paid creative and those jobs were the only thing keeping me sharp. I still read a lot of design magazines for inspriation and draw as much as I can but nothing takes the place of actually focusing on a job on the daily. Yes, my friend Erik has been encouraging me with a sketchbook exchange that we swap back and forth keeping us competitive on a creative level. I've done some good stuff that I wouldn't have done just sitting at home staring at a blank sketchbook.

THANK YOUS. I would like to thank Google for putting my name up on the search engines. I had a great run for my online store with a big sale coming in at the beginning of the year. I think it was for a last minute Christmas gift. Sales became frequent after that like one a month and I did it with virtually no advertising. Of course when I updated my web, I forgot to put in the code that the web crawlers search for and I did notice my store sales go down through the end of the year. Sometimes I wonder if my customer base's demand is smaller than the supply. I do plan on hyping my store a bit more in the future or retiring it fully to focus on art. Or maybe I'll sell to a totally different market with something else.

WEB. My other source of income is from my favorite website, Ebay. I don't remember selling anything for big bucks this year like I have in the past. But I don't think I tried to. My mission was sell stuff I got on the cheap and try to flip it back on Ebay for like 3 times my cost. I was pretty successful on some things but it's usually a give and take situation. I probably broke even in the end, because some things didn't sell or sold low. I had an idea to sell rare music CDs but they were hard to find. Duh. I guess that's what makes them rare. I had a strategy focusing on a certain niche with a search list too. But it is always hit or miss, I gave up on that idea.

TECHNOLOGY. Big hi-tech purchases I made this year was the DVD recorder, laptop, and digital camera (which technically Nichole and I got for each other as an Xmas gift). The SONY T1 digital camera is awesome. Small, compact design with great quality pictures. Sure I can pick out little things that could be better with the camera, but I have no problems with SONY, the company. They rock computers, electronics, video games. Man, I think it was them that popularized the VCR if they didn't invent it. All I need to say is WALKMAN. I heard someone say the 5 megapixel Fuji camera is better because it has more features. Hello, that is Microsoft's argument. Microsoft says their software is better because they have more features. But the features have to be something we need and use and that work. SONY has not failed me. Aspire Digital is another story. The Aspire Digital DVD recorder has given me headaches but I guess it works. Their DVD recorder is like an old PC trying to play a new game. Sometimes it works, most times it don't and sometimes it struggles and I can't figure out why. My laptop computer was from Cyberpower, kinda like a boutique shop which makes machines for gamers. My laptop was custom built, got great power at a great price but it took almost a month to get it. If you order from them, always check the status when they build it, normally takes a week. Mine originally had a hard drive problem when it was built then they ran out of the processor I needed and delayed it more. I don't hate them I was so excited to get my laptop, it turned in to a bummer waiting and waiting for it and I wanted to work on my zine.

MUSIC. Two musicians who impressed me most this year were: Kanye West and MF Doom. I bought every mix CD of Kanye West plus his live show in Amsterdam. He is awesome. Some of his rhymes about his family and his mother have actually brought tears to my eyes. MF Doom on the other hand has taken the indie/underground world by storm. His rhymes, samples and beats are unorthodox and not about the chains and bling. His latest album's theme is food. I just got the latest Vanessa Carlton CD at the end of the year. It has slowly grown on me. I loved the last album.

RESTAURANTS. The best restaurant I've been to this year has gotta be E & O Trading with locations in San Francisco and San Jose. We got a gift certificate from friends. Everybody recommends the fried corn fritters. I had a review of it in my blog earlier this year. The restaurant is like American? / Asian fusion with Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian and Indian influences. I think Aloha Restaurant in Milpitas is second on my fave list. I love their menu and I probably drove out of my way about 4 times within the last 3 months to eat there. I usually get the bento box to go for $7.95. It is a sampling of various dishes on the menu.

DVD. On the DVD front, there are so many DVDs I wanted to see. I got 4 seasons worth of FOX's The Family Guy for Christmas. I can't tell you how many times I laughed out loud at the crazy situations that go on. I'm into disk 2, season 1 and I think the show has gotten funnier. I would almost call them a lewd Simpsons. Their jokes are not explicit but very suggestive. I got a great price on the Terrahawks box set. Gerry Anderson of Space 1999 and Thunderbirds fame produced this show in the early 80's. It was Andersons last fully scifi puppeted shows. I watched a few episodes with my friend Jeff. The show is aimed at kids but I gotta say the show is entertaining and I got a few laughs from the characters.

BUSINESSES of the year. Of course if you know me, I am Mister Ebay. But I bought a lot of CDs and books and the digital camera from Amazon.com. For being online and automated, I get good service and they have a great return policy with free shipping on items over $25 (from them not their partners). Great prices too for new and used and you can listen to song samples of CDs. Ebay seller Ebuys77 sold me some phat retro looking Adidas and service was so smooth. I got confirm emails letting me know status of bids, payments, shipping, etc. Sure it was all computer automated but it was more than I get from some online places. I bought the Terrahawks DVD set and some design books from Hamiltonbooks.com. Their prices are low on used books and they have a pretty big art / design book selection at least until I started shopping there. Ha ha.

ZINE. A great thing I did this year was a ZINE. I did zines before but there were learning experiences. I don't even have any original pages from those old zines. The San Jose Museum of Art was having a show on ZINES. I procrastinated on the deadline big time confusing show date with due date. That's not good. So basically I had a week to throw it all together and luckily it was in San Jose that I could drop it at the door beyond the due date to the curator. I had fun, interviewed cool people and learned a lot. Like try not to go to Kinkos. I spent about $100 renting their computer, making master print outs, and then making copies to make the five zines for submission. My laptop would not print through their computer so I had to rent theirs. Long hours wasted. Long story but no customer help from them. I found the employees to all have an elitist attitude. My feeling is they think they are too good to help and everybody who comes in is stupid. The guy even told me my computer probably had a virus. Uh, I got my laptop brand new like 2 days ago and it printed fine at home. I had to download their driver and XP said it did not support it and warned me, but what else could I do but lad it. Kinkos has old drivers and no customer service. Bottom line of the whole experience was I had my work in a Museum. Not to mention the opening party was all that with hi end food and drinks. I hope to do another zine and upgrade the quality. I will try my best to skip Kinkos and probably buy a laser printer and maybe a copier too.

MOVIES. Between having a free moment to do something without the kids, I've only been able to see 3 movies in the theatre this year. They are Daredevil, Big Fish, and The Incredibles. All the movies were great especially the Incredibles. I can't wait to see the Daredevil DVD director's version.

MEMORY. My wife's grandfather passed away last year. We had a lot of family outings and Sunday night dinners with him. Tony was the most kindest, generous man I ever met. I think about him and the trips or special occasions that we spent and really it feels weird now that he is gone.

BOOKS. I can't think of a book offhand that I got this year worth mentioning other than the new Barry Mcgee book was nice and so was the debut book by Neckface. All I can tell you is if you buy a computer book at Fry's Electronics with a rebate, you can only use one rebate per publisher. I bought 3 computer books (of the same publisher) just to look at since they would technically all be free with rebate but then after submitting, I get 2 postcards in the mail that say something like "reached maximum of rebate". What gets me is Fry's advertisement mentions all these free books with rebate, but that is if you only buy one, and you had to get the rebate form by buying the book to even probably read that "one per" clause. But oh well, live and learn I say. I am very cautious with rebates now. Something to watch out for.

ART. I bought some art this year, luckily nothing too pricey. The main 3 I can think of are framed piece by Andrew Schultz, little wooden piece by Ezra Li Eisemont, and painted paper bag by David Choe. Maybe I will put pics of them on my website some day.

RESOLUTIONS for 2005. I hope to exercise more this year. Ain't saying much compared to what I did this year but I did swim a lot in the summer and I did stretching and lite warm ups everyday. Yes, I say warm up but never a full work out of anything. I also want to clean out the garage this year. You can barely walk inside of there - wall to wall stuff, but I know where everything is. Look out for my online garage sale coming soon. I hope to be more regular on the blogging but so far not good. I am thinking about keeping my blogs on my artchemist site for the future. Keeping the blogs at home seems to be a trend I noticed.