Sometimes I Think

Most times I don't. This is a blog where I document the infrequent, glorious times that I think.



Thermolon Sucks

Posted at 2015 February 19 11:19 pm

Remember those pans I bought back then? Probably not because I might not have written about them. Anyway, I bought Thermolon pans after researching a whole bunch on non-stick coatings (see previous post below called "Pans"). They seemed to fit the bill, but not too long after using the pans, they started to stick. Probably about a month, and these Thermolon pans started sticking. Now it's really bad. Really bad. It's same or worse than stainless steel heated improperly. I'll probably go with the Teflon ones again and replace like once a year.

Feed the Sheep

Posted at 2014 November 13 12:43 am

Marketing is very powerful. Yeezus (Kanye West's album) and Interstellar (the movie) are proofs. As shitty as Yeezus is, it's getting really good reviews because of how much marketing is put behind it. Same goes for Interstellar. The science stuff in that movie don't really make sense, yet people don't think about it. They think it's amazing because of Christoper Nolan's track record, and marketing will selectively choose good reviews to use to promote the movie. So, be wary of marketing!

Think for yourself and come up with your own opinions!

Internet Stupidity

Posted at 2014 August 17 03:41 pm

I was looking into frying pans, particularly at ones that use Thermolon non-stick coating. Since I don't want to use ones with Teflon, which breaks down at high temperatures and releases toxic fumes, I researched the safety of Thermolon. All over the internet, people were talking about how Thermolon uses nanotechnology and contains silicone, which is also toxic. There were also people saying things like "UPDATE: Thermolon doesn't use nanotechnology according to someone who emailed them." Dozens and dozens of web pages had this kind of information (sad how I looked through all of them). Frustrated at the lack of solid evidence and second-hand information, I looked up their patent in the US patent website. Turns out they're using silicon not silicone. And, the size of the particles in the powder that's used in the process is on the order of micrometers, not nanometers. So, I feel safer about this technology, but without seeing any conclusive research, I can only tentatively declare that Thermolon is safe.

Anyway, check your facts people!

Monks

Posted at 2014 May 29 11:03 pm

I was talking to my grandparents at dinner, and they were talking about some relative who is now bald. That made me think of why monks have dots on their heads, so I asked them. The answer to that is unimportant, but the other things they said were. They said that the monks of today are not like the ones we imagine - kind, wise vegetarians who don't drink alcohol, don't have sex, and live a peaceful life. In China at least, there are monks who range from the kind that we do imagine to one who does drink alcohol, have sex, and behave in every way just like most people, with the exception of being bald. I ask, "Why would they be considered monks?" My grandparents don't know. They just know that there are plenty of these "monks" in China, and they've also heard about these kind of "monks" in Japan. My grandpa said that when he was young, anyone could be a monk, but they did have to abide by these restrictions. A murderer could be forgiven by becoming a monk. He said that for the rich temples were more selective though, people had to pay to become a monk, and then of course abide by the restrictions. Temples relied not on donations for money - they had lots of land and property, and the rent would sustain them.

Anyway, this prompted me to think, what is the future of organization, of culture if even highly religious monks can trend toward carelessness? I think I hear every generation complain that the youngsters are more careless than those "back then". I kind of agree. People today as a whole are less hard working than those of my grandparents' generation, or so it appears to me. People today are definitely less conservative, be it sexually, behaviorally, etc., compared to say, the Victorian period. Science states that matter trends toward entropy. Will society end in chaos? I considered that, but I think that the order oscillates. From order, society turns into chaos, and after chaos there's a big rebuilding to create order again, over and over. The Romans went on a conquering spree, and the empire was built bigger and bigger, but it eventually dissolved. Big world wars happened, but then that ended in peace. Each time, we become more organized, but the chaos that follows becomes bigger than the last time, like an unstable system (referring to control theory).

Man vs. Machine

Posted at 2014 May 19 02:09 pm

The war between man and machine is a silent one. It's nothing like the wars from science fiction, where robots and machines are trying to exterminate humans or use them as energy sources or whatever. There's definitely a war brewing between man and machine, and I think it's an economic one. Automation, software, electronics - all embodied inside machines - are replacing many of the jobs people used to do. This is whittling out the middle, as skilled workers are creating more of these machines, and those who are unskilled end up doing more of the kind of labor that doesn't pay very well. Technology in general though has made society better. But, we can't let the machines push more and more people lower in the economy. Stifling technological progression is definitely a bad idea. I don't know that there's a clear cut solution, but I think better education for everyone will help keep the machines in check.

Ego Depletion

Posted at 2014 April 01 11:06 pm

I first heard about the ego depletion theory in South America when I met the two Singaporeans. They were intense. One morning, one of them got right up and did pushups. I don't remember how it was brought up, but one of them brought up ego depletion theory (they were both psychology students). Anyway, until now, I hadn't read anything on that. Kind of surprising something lingered in my mind for two years.

Two days ago I read an article about it here. The psychology studies that it references are baffling. I find it intriguing that something intangible, willpower, can be "measured", if you will, to be finite. The drain of willpower is definitely something I can feel, but what drains it and how much is drained is not so simple. Seeing willpower proven to be finite (although replenishable through rest and other means), I've resolved to do meaningful and difficult things in the morning right before I leave for work (just 30 minutes though, but it's enough).

Sell Me This Pen

Posted at 2014 February 15 08:26 pm

"Sell me this pen."

Brad takes the pen, and asks, "Why don't you do me a favor? Why don't you write your name on that napkin for me?"

"I don't have a pen."

This is the scene that I remember most from The Wolf of Wall Street. I didn't really like the movie; it wasn't bad, but I don't think it was very good. Definitely very long and had probably too much detail. Anyway, this dialog was genius. The best way to sell is to identify the customer's demand, to make the customer want the product. For this situation, Brad knows the need the customer has and brings up the situation so that the customer realizes that need. Once the customer realizes the need, the purchase naturally follows. The important part of starting a business is to identify the need, and this really is the hardest part. The stuff later, like engineering, marketing, administration, is really not that difficult and risky compared to identifying the need. 

Tools, Technologies, Techniques

Posted at 2014 February 13 08:33 pm

I believe topics in the tech world can be described as tools, technologies, and techniques. For example, let's take web development. Some tools are RubyMine, Bootstrap, Github, etc. Technologies are asynchronous I/O, Ruby programming language, and many more technologies. Techniques are harder to describe, but for example, web apps talking to different APIs, all organized in a specific architecture. When I talk tech, the most interesting discussions are in techniques, then technologies (not a terrible amount less interesting than techniques though), and finally tools.

I'd like to expand this to conversations in general though, and I'm not sure how I'd categorize, but I think I might say historical, conceptual, and philosophical. Historical is the least interesting, albeit the most common. "What'd you do this weekend?" "I went out and ate some really good seafood!" There's usually nothing very deep about historical events. 

Conceptual things I find much more interesting. An example of a conceptual conversation might be a discussion about snowboarding. It's not about something that happened in time, not something you can pinpoint. With concepts, there are opinions about what's good and bad, about techniques, about all sorts of things. 

Philosophical discussions are the most interesting, such as the idea of reincarnation. There are so many things to discuss in philosophical questions that it leads to many other questions.

But, whether we're talking about the three Ts or its analog applied to conversations, it's important to talk about each kind. Variety is the spice of life. Although philosophical discussions are the most interesting, one can't only talk philosophy. 

Reincarnation

Posted at 2014 February 08 08:00 pm

Let's assume that reincarnation is real. When something dies, it then turns into something else and has no memory of its past. Given these premises, would you want to remember your past life?

At first, I thought no, of course not. Memories of the people I loved, or maybe not people if I was something like a reptile previously, would be too hard to bear. It would be emotionally difficult. But, I also think it would be good to remember because if I was something else before, like a reptile, I'd be grateful and happy that my current life I am better and experience more. We humans have a pretty rich experience. On the flipside, what about those who had better lives before? It wouldn't be good to know how good you had it before. In all cases though, there are lessons learned, and some of these lessons can be translated in different lives. For example, sharing is a skill learned that helps in survival, regardless (mostly) of what thing you are, and if I remember and know that lesson from my previous life, I'd be better off in my current life.

Anyway, it's clear that there's not a clear right or wrong answer to the question. Very apparently, I do not know whether I'd like to remember my past life or not. In any case, it's a good question to discuss with friends to see what they think.

Well...

Posted at 2014 February 05 11:56 pm

It was true, they did give me the voucher for a roundtrip flight for two people and two nights of accommodation. But, I'm pretty sure this wasn't a prize, rather the company (called Vacation International Resorts) probably bought a list off Ski Dazzle and called a bunch of people. It turns out there are dumb restrictions on it like required to leave Monday - Wednesday departing from 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. and arriving back from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. (essentially leaving 1 day for travel). Guy on the phone told me I can use it any time - what a liar. I don't know if I'll even end up using this. 

Anyway, I wasn't angry that the presentation took up 2 hours of my time because it was kind of interesting seeing people use every sales tactic in the book. The guy first brought Zoe and me to a large room and said a whole bunch of small talk to try to establish rapport. He gave me "upgrades" from what the person on the phone promised me from 3 destinations to 5 destinations, although it was a fake upgrade because the guy lied in the first place. The flier they gave at the end was printed, so it was obvious the phone guy lied. Anyway, after trying to establish rapport, he brought us into a room along with 3 other couples, and another guy gave his schpiel about timeshares. During this, the salesmen were also in there to say 'yeah' to things the presenter said so that it gave the place a positive vibe. Also positioned it so that salesmen sat next to the person who brought the other spouse/significant other there, probably to help soften the person up. Once the presentation was done, salesmen brought us back out to explain more. He told us how great the timeshare is but never mentioned the price, until the end. It was $26,000 initial cost and then $1000-ish every year.

One question he asked was, "If I gave you this, would you like it?" I responded yes. This made me think, it's a great question. If you ask target customers this, you'd sort of find out if customers perceive value in your product. It then becomes an issue of finding the proper price.

They knew I had disposable money, so that just meant that they would want to properly price it for me. The guy immediately told the manager come over to talk to us. He used the price slashing trick to make us feel like it's a great deal. As he explained, he saw that I was not going to be sold and called the sales guy over again to soften us up. After I pointed out that I go on international trips and don't do hotels, he gave us our "prize" and showed us to the door.

Winner!

Posted at 2014 February 04 09:37 pm

I got a call during work today saying that I won a prize from Ski Dazzle. I'm pretty excited. They said it's for 3 days 2 nights hotel and round trip flight for two people to one of 3 places - San Francisco, Phoenix, or Las Vegas. Whether this is real or not, I'm not sure. The catch is that I have to go to an hour and a half presentation in order to get the prize. Says the prize was given by sponsor, and that's what sponsor wants. Anyway, I scheduled the presentation for tomorrow, so we'll see what happens. I don't intend to buy anything.

Smitty

Posted at 2014 January 12 09:31 pm

Today was going to be an excellent powder day - too bad that the road was closed just 10 km from Stevens Pass. A woman turning around said that it'll be two hours before they reopen, so we turned around too. We pulled over to ask some others who were pulled over. They said that yesterday the ski resort didn't have enough parking, so people parked on the street and got a bunch of tickets. Today it was a combination of that and road closure. Later when I had a cell phone signal again in the car, I saw on WSDOT that the highway was closed without estimated time of reopening. Tough luck, we woke up so early and drove so far.

Anyway, the cool thing today was seeing the movie The Secret Life of Walter Smitty. The movie itself wasn't that good (wasn't bad, but wasn't particularly good), as there were some very illogical parts in the plot. But, the theme of the movie totally resonated with me. The movie was about a person who had a drab life and then ended up exploring a bunch of places and experiencing some really cool things, all because he sought to fulfill an idea. Not particularly thought provoking of a post, but I write because this triggered a strong feeling inside me that I remember from my solo travel in South America. Good times. 

Eyelashes

Posted at 2013 December 09 09:55 pm

This morning after I brushed my teeth, I saw a bit of eyelash in the corner of my right eye, the corner closest to my nose. It's pretty common; I don't know how, but an eyelash will end up in my eye sometimes. Since this eyelash was in the corner of my eye behind my eyelid, I couldn't use the typical method of filling my eye up with tear and then blinking it out. I cleaned my hands and then started gently swiping at it with my finger. As I swiped, more of it got exposed, and when I fully exposed it, it turned out to be REALLY FREAKING BIG! This was long and thick. Normally, I'm afraid to touch my eye with my bare finger, but this time, I couldn't worry about that because this gigantic, horrendous thing was in my eye. I was trying to reorient it carefully with my finger, but in a lucky turn of events, it stuck to my finger, due to is massive size, and I was able to pull it out. This thing must have been composed of 15-20 eyelashes, and I even saw a small strand of hair! It was all glued together in translucent whitish film, which must have been an amalgamation of tears and dust, and probably other stuff. Gross. I'm glad I was able to get this out.

I wonder what other weird stuff is inside me that I can't see. Actually, I don't want to wonder. Ignorance is bliss.

Pans

Posted at 2013 October 27 02:03 pm

I've wondered about what pans to buy for a long time, and now I've done research on it. I was at first concerned about the scratched non-stick pans I've used.

Scratching the non-stick pans will increase the chances of ingesting tiny, tiny bits of the Teflon. I've read that Teflon coatings found on non-stick pans will release toxins at 240 degrees Celsius, and Teflon is poisonous. Note that the whole pan doesn't need to be at 240 degrees for the Teflon to release toxins. A bowl of water starts steaming even though it's not at 100 degrees because there are some water molecules that have reached that temperature even though the majority of the water molecules have not. The same concept can be applied for the Teflon coating. So, make sure to not use metal cookware on the Teflon coated pans, and don't use high heat on them. The Teflon coating also deteriorates from use, and then it becomes even more prudent to replace them. 

As you may know, stainless steel is completely safe and does not have any toxins to release. Basically, if you don't want stainless steel pans to stick, use them at low heat or properly heat it. My experience is that stainless steel pans still stick because once the proper temperature is reached, and I put food on, the pan's temperature drops because it hasn't stored enough heat. This means the food starts sticking a little bit. For this reason, heavier pans are desirable because they will store enough heat so that food doesn't stick. Downside: heavy pans are really unwieldy. Here's a nice article about how to properly heat a stainless steel pan so that food doesn't stick to it: http://www.houseboateats.com/2009/12/on-properly-heating-your-pan.html

Alternative non-stick pans are nanoceramic coatings. While ceramic is not toxic, safety is still unproven. The way the ceramic is applied is using nanoparticles, and this field is still quite unknown. There is currently not a way to detect if/how the nanoparticles are leaching. Particles can come off, end up in food, and go into our bodies. Because of the size, these particles can go undetected by the immune system and not get cleaned up. Nanoparticles' reactivity with cells is unknown as well. On the note of ceramics, you should probably avoid the colorful ceramic knives that are all the rage. There was a study that found brands that leached toxic metals because of its ceramic glaze: http://www.jpost.com/Health-and-Science/Ministry-investigating-carcinogenic-kitchenware

I brought home a thermal imager from my work place to look at the heating characteristics (images to come later). What I found is that a gas stove heats the pan evenly, and electric stoves with the swirly heating elements heat unevenly. This insight did not require a $15,000 thermal imager to gain, but the images are so cool! Uneven heating is bad because certain parts of the pan will deteriorate faster than others, and the part that's heated more may be the first part to break down and release toxins. Also, food heats up unevenly (duh).

From my experience, I would recommend a Teflon coated pan for most people, but it should be replaced depending on usage. They perform well and are safe, provided they're replaced before the coating starts breaking down. Stainless steel pans are definitely the best health/safety bet, but these pans tend to stick even when properly heated (my pan doesn't hold enough heat and cools down, perhaps there are nicer pans out there). They then become a mess for cleaning. In short, use stainless steel if you're cooking anything high heat, and you can use Teflon coated pan for everything else. Ceramic is a no-go until more scientific research is done.

If you care to read further, there was a NY Times article about finding a good non-Teflon pan: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/07/dining/07pans.html?pagewanted=all

Sick

Posted at 2013 October 17 12:32 pm

Yesterday, I felt really tired and kind of sick during work. Today, the sick feeling got stronger, so I didn't go to work. I didn't have a fever, but I was fatigued and didn't want to work. We'll see how long it takes to get over this sickness. My brother probably gave me his virus. Or, it could have been the Chinese food I had the day before yesterday (dinner was for grandpa's birthday) that got me sick.

Ideas Galore

Posted at 2013 October 09 09:43 pm

I've been thinking about a lifestyle business. Previously, I'd been stuck on the idea that any business venture should be big (my "go big or go home" philosophy at work). Now that the lifestyle business is within my realm of consideration, I am beginning to see a world of different business opportunities I've never thought of or noticed before. Business opportunities include beer brewing, craft lip balms, niche hobby e-store, Asian clothing online retail, and many others. Of course, none of them are ventures I would consider embarking on, but the new way I'm thinking is surprising to me. I surprise me! Indeed, sometimes I think.

Burt's Mother

Posted at 2013 October 07 09:26 pm

I blame her. That's because I'm a root cause kind of guy. 

It's been several months since I started using Burt's Bees beeswax lip balm that my friend gave me as part of a birthday present. It's a great lip balm because it keeps my lips from drying up and doesn't feel mushy nor goopy like some other lip balms I've used. Oddly, I've developed an allergic reaction to Burt's Bees, although I didn't know it before. My lips started getting dry, red, swollen, and burny. I thought it was an infection at first, but after a week of using the antibiotic ointment the doctor prescribed, my lips felt better.  Yesterday morning, the morning after finishing the antibiotic ointment regimen, I woke up and smeared some Burt's Bees onto my lips, went over to my friend's place to watch the Seahawks, and two hours later - sausage lips. Something inside Burt's Bees triggered an allergic reaction in my lips, and I suspect it's the peppermint oil I so dislike (I think the peppermint oil conditions people to associate the soothing effects of lip balm to Burt's Bees - I don't like the idea that I'm being conditioned).

If Burt's mother didn't have Burt, he wouldn't have invented Burt's Bees, and I wouldn't have gotten this allergic reaction. Curse you Burt's mother!