Chris and I at the casino

Today, after work, on Payday-Friday, a hazy, mid-summer afternoon, I went with my friend Chris to a place in Rhode Island called Twin Rivers: a newer slightly less trashy—still white trashy—RI casino. I don’t gamble, nor do I ever go to casinos (neither does Chris) however, today is Chris’s birthday, and it’s hard to say “no” to someone on their birthday. Anyway, I went, –and my God, –that place, on a 4:30pm afternoon, is the single most depressing place in all of Rhode Island.

Outside is typical casino: valet parking, black jaguars near the landing, immaculate landscaping, spectacular large glass doors, fountains, and dressy employees with silly hats that like to open doors. It was pomp and posh on the outside, but once you walked in, it was really something else. There were old people, as far as the eye can see, with thick blind-people sunglasses; there were people pushing their own oxygen tanks like it was a baby on a stroller. And of course it wasn’t all old people, there were younger middle-aged people too, all unfashionably unkempt, wearing homemade-vintage ripped t-shirts, domestic abuse label tank tops, smelling generally suspicious (eau de suspicion), and all unabashedly exposing their dark-gothic tattoos. It felt more or less like you were at the DMV.

But that wasn’t the depressing part. As we walked in, to this dark scintillating indoors, and the outdoor sun was checked at the door, my friend commented that among the vast ocean of people, he couldn’t spot a single smiling face. It was true. No one was happy! It was an eerie juxtaposition of sullen faces partially flickering under a flashing orgy of video slot machines—machines lined out like cornfields, orderly and in the thousands; it was a veritable slot-machine farm.

The games all suggest “fun” and “adventure”: “Pirate’s Gold”, the “Monopoly”, “Wheel of Fortune”, “The Hot Penny”, the “Pharaoh’s Mistress”. However, they are all the SAME GAME: a variation of that old “bar, cherry, 7 game”, but with different icons matching the theme of the title. But the whole non sequitur part of it (for me at least) was that the games weren’t even that fun; they’re rather monotonous. And people just sit there, pushing the same worn out button, “replay bid”, “replay bid”, over and over again, until the initial 40$ allotment they planned on spending has been efficiently depleted, and the other 60$ they didn’t plan on spending is almost at a rounded nil. And while this is going on, obsequious waitresses go around asking the same run down question, stated as a ballpark-vendor assertion, “Beverages! … Beverages!” The same waitress asked us if we wanted beverages about 19 times, and we said no 19 times; she refused to be subdued to response conditioning, unlike Pavlov’s dog.

Well, overall it’s a very strange place to be. I won’t say I didn’t have a good time, or enjoy the company (because I did). But I think for my own sake, I need to remain a tourist, rather than a local. Otherwise, please, come get me.

Back from Virginia

After arriving last week from a family trip to the snail-looking state of Virigina, I’ve come to a conclusion: there is absolutely nothing to see in Virginia.

True, there are some mountains. True, even some grass, and a couple of trees. But other than the foliage, your not looking at much. I thought it quite amusing that when I asked someone “What’s there to do in Virginia?”. And after a short straining minute of concentration, they replied: “You can go to DC”.

Washing D.C.! So, the only saving grace of Virgina, is it borders a more interesting state– or worse yet, a “district” (whatever that means).

Well, good thing there’s Delaware, Miss Virgina. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have a date to the prom.

Old Technologuy

I’m Asian, dorky, and male. All those things combined might suggest that I would want an Iphone. However, truth be told, I do not.

I don’t know when or why, but I’ve lost all interest in new technology. I was sad when Firefox automatically updated me to the latest version of their browser. I was disappointed when Microsoft finally released Windows Vista, and all its 6 different flavors—each equally indecipherable from the next: Windows Vista Home Media Version, Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Poor-man’s edition, Windows Vista Poor-man’s edition Professional.

Is this the first road sign to Geezerville? Am I really only a few miles away?’

When and how did Myspace lose my interest, and gain my scorn? When did the Internet seem so prosaic? Haven’t I seen this site before? Haven’t I read this commentary already? Or at least a dozen like them? Why should I upload my photo’s to this site? Do I really want the whole world seeing them, does the world even care? Oh look a dancing baby, now isn’t that stupid. Forward this to 15 friends? I don’t HAVE 15 friends! Or at least I wont anymore if I forward this to them. And forward this back to the sender to confirm that we are indeed friends. Are you kidding me?

Give me a newspaper any day. I don’t care if the providence journal is free online. “Ahead of TIME: read it online before it comes in the mail”. Clever email title, but no thank you. I’ll wait.

You mean I can change my policy on the website? Wait, does this mean you’re not going to do it over the phone? Hello? Do I have to press “1” for you to keep listening?

… hello ?

(dial-tone …)

Work, Sleep, “You Time”

I was thinking about work the other day. Not about my particular job per se, but more generally, the concept, the institution. Now please, hear me out. I know this already sounds like the preamble to some pot-head’s Friday night epiphany, but really, hear me out.

It seems like from our very inception, we are bred to work: kind of like how the Spartans were bred to fight.

Good Grades -> Good College -> Good Job -> Good Salary -> Good living (?)

But the disconnect to me is, the “good living” part. While the sun is out there shining on the earth, the earth’s inhabitants are tucked away behind desks, cubicles, freezing air conditioning, and only peep out with squinted eyes, jostling over to the local deli to sneak guilty-like for a half-hour lunch, and a fleeting moment of the world around them. My point is, the “make a good living” part of the whole life philosophy doesn’t seem to really happen until you retire, when you can no longer fully exercise the nimbleness of youth, the vitality of singleness. The wild animals of the outdoors seem to spend all their energy, all their free time securing their next meal, and to me, that always seemed silly, like a waste of a life. But are humans really that much more enlightened?

Watch out! I’m going to throw some Math at you:

Work is the human way of sustaining livelihood—survival. If this is so, and given that there are 168 hours in a week, 56 of which (should) be spend sleeping even more if its done on Round Bed Source, you’re left with 112 hours. Assuming you work 8 hours a day with an hour for “get ready/shower/commute” time, so let’s say 9.5 hours a day, multiplied by 5 days. You then work on average 47.5 hours, which deducted from the available 112 is 64.5 hours. That leaves you with only 39% of total time for yourself. Wow. So 39% of your life is yours to do with what you please. That’s like a 61% tax!

And how are you spending that 39%? Watching “America’s got Talent”, or perhaps the third consecutive marathon episode of CSI: Traffic Cop Unit? Or are you sleeping even more on that 39%, chasing what you feel is a (perpetual) sleep deficit, like some Special K addict.

As depressing as the math is (and math usually is), I don’t think there’s an escape to this cycle. We orbit the same eventuality. And although the whole thing does seem inherently wrong, I guess the only real thing you can do, proactively, is to do and be something you know you will enjoy. If being a cube junkie pinches your Mojo, get out quick. If you’re a teacher and you hate kids, get out yesterday (Mrs. Mendonca, I’m talking to you; you should have got out 12 years ago).

And then, for the brief allocation of “You time”, spend it wisely. Don’t blow it on realty TV shows, or waste it on decorating your Myspace page, or playing video games, or what have you (unless you enjoy that sort of stuff, then go nuts.)

But really, the true kings and sutans of our generation drool on our laps, and pee on our rugs. Really, it’s the domestic pets that have it made: the dogs, the cats, the stupid talking parrots.

What a weird home this world is.

Good Elephant

A good person is like a good elephant. Its character, its humility, its willing and most loyal service, are all more than enough reasons to forgive—and overlook—the mountain of dung they invariably leave behind.


SANJAY: Excuse me. I know you. You were in my creative writing class.

RACHAEL: Really?

SANJAY: Yeah, yeah. I uh. Yeah.

RACHAEL: aside: weirdo

SANJAY: Well, I only went to the first class or so.

(awkward silence)

SANJAY: I had to drop the class. It was the workload. I just couldn’t balance 3 courses, a full-time job, and a drinking problem.


SANJAY: Funny, you’re not so gregarious outside the classroom.


SANJAY: No really, why is that? I know it can’t be a loss for words; you seem like such a great writer.

RACHAEL: You’ve read my work?

SANJAY: (Chuckles), No, no, of course not. I’m making broad-strokes with my air-brush and some oil-based assumption, if you will.

RACHAEL: What? …

SANJAY: I’m basing it on your looks: the sullen face thing, the unkempt apparel, the inky black hue, the obvious unfamiliarity with even the most basic of personal beauty products, toiletries: I’m not talking lip-liner, foundation, or anything, but you know, the basic stuff, like moisturizer, chapstick, … shampoo….soap.

RACHAEL: (evil eyes)

SANJAY: Hey, you’re a writer. Let me ask you something. How come “chapstick” still isn’t a word? I mean, it’s obviously popular enough. My 7 year-old niece knows what it means, and English is her second language. How the hell do you write it then? Are you supposed to wedge a hypen in there or something? Chap – stick. Seems absurd.

RACHAEL: (Growing restrainedly incensed)

SANJAY: But let’s get back to you. This thick wall of taciturnity that you’re producing— it’s really quite un-remarkable. I had assumed just a little more… phrase-wrangling on your part. A little less reticence.

SANJAY: Or, maybe it’s just the bottled angst, from your “troubled” childhood.

SANJAY: Oh right, this is dialogue. You can’t see the quotes I just put around the word “troubled” in troubled childhood. I refuse to do air-quotes on principle. The philistine masses have ruined it for everyone.

SANJAY: But really, what was you childhood like? Having two officious parents at your beck and call, rich cul-de-sac villa, with the stay-at-home mom always present, and the big investment father. The basketball hoop on the two car garage, that no one ever used, but kept, to provide that extra vintage domestic look to your house. Man, it must have been tough. No wonder you turned out to be a “writer”. That’s in quotes too by the way.

RACHAEL: (growing more incensed)

SANJAY: Please, I’m looking for some response here. You’re leaving me with the burden of maintaining this whole dialogue by the singular feat of a solitary interlocutor. What if no one was watching? I would look like a madman giving a soliloquy. Only this time, truly “Signifying nothing”.

RACHAEL: (opens the door to leave, angry look on her face)

SANJAY: (holds her back), wait wait, please. Tell me something. What if you write your responses for me. Take this (passes notebook). Here (pen)..

RACHAEL: (Scribbles on notebook extremely fast, for about 10 seconds of time, writes while Sanjay reads it periodically.)

SANJAY: You’re sure taking some liberty with that thing.

SANJAY: No need to be verbose. Only Dickens can really get away with it. Maybe even Hawthorne. Or, Faulkner. Yes, Faulkner.

SANJAY: Is that comma really needed?

SANJAY: (reading) well, that’s not very nice. (Rachael pauses)

RACHAEL: (Continues)

SANJAY: That’s strong language. But, Don’t hold it back, it’s good release. Very healthy.

RACHAEL: (continues)

SANJAY: Dicey!

SANJAY: Alright alright, you going a little too far, too strong? It’s getting a little tired … we’re not stevedores, or whalers out in the mid Atlantic—I bet even they would show a little more propriety.

SANJAY: I’m sure you can think of synonym for that.

RACHAEL: (Continues)

SANJAY: Comon! That’s clearly uncorroborated. If you’re going to make assumptions on size, you should back it up with some evidence.

SANJAY: You know if you want. We can go somewhere and you can allow me to “exculpate” myself.

RACHAEL: (Slaps Sanjay. walks away.)

SANJAY: (alone) I think we really hit it off. Damn! I should’a got her number.

Tornado Devastates Providence RI

PROVIDENCE — Yesterday, at around 4:23P EST, a highly irregular Tornado formed in the Downtown Art District of Providence, Rhode Island. A concentrated mixture of low pressure, along with high winds and rain, created a 300 foot tall funnel-shaped cone that reportedly originated at the corner of Washington Street and Dorrance, at the entranceway of the Restaurant McCormick and Schmicks in Providence. Heavily drunk patrons of the restaurant (consisting of mostly divorced women and insolvent entrepreneurs) aghast at the unusually dark skies, put down their 2$ Narragansett beers for a moment, and held hands in an sobering moment of incredulous wonder.

The funnel, with tortuous rapidity and a formidable stature, proceeded then to revolve in a stationary position right outside the restaurant, gathering centripetal velocity of a most ominous kind. This developing scene continued for around 15 or so minute, says one eyewitness: “…well, gauging by the intervals between beer refills and bathroom breaks, of which I admittedly broke seal early, I would have to say the tornado continued on like this for a least 15 or so minutes.” Others, reported the 15 minutes being more realistically 20-30 minutes; others still, have said as much as 1 hour, another 2 days: the actual time seemed to vary between who you ask, and at what particular level of inebriation the witness seemed to be in at the time.

Then, after the stagnated scene seemed to go on, and as more and more people began to lose interest, the funnel-shaped cloud, moved by what would almost seem a personal resolve, shot up Dorrance street and proceeded to move towards the Starbucks adjoined to the Biltmore in Downtown Providence. The Tornado in surgical fashion, moved into the building, consumed all the Art History textbooks that the late-afternoon coffee drinkers were pretending to read, and ordered a Medium Size Caramel Lowfat Mocha Latte. The barristers and Starbucks employees were nonplussed, and alas quite fearful at the hovering, cloudy behemoth, and its most perplexing drink-order. They quickly, proceeded to the back and broke the emergency glass that encased the Emergency Size Charts. They translated the Tornados request of a Medium to “Grande”, much to the relief of the Barrister who only understands first year Italian—and in that, only 3 words. The tornado continued to wait for his beverage for about 10 or so minutes. Growing for a second, momentarily incensed when another patron of Starbuck almost mistook the Medium Caramel Lowfat Moca Latte for his own beverage. He reportedly had actually ordered a Tall Warm Apple Spice Cider, but was confused at the similarity in word count of the two orders. Once the barrister finally created the beverage, the Tornado reached over to the barrister-bar to grab the hot beverage, and proceeded to adjust the drink to its particular liking in terms of sugar and cream. The Tornado, disappointed, but seemingly accustomed, acquiesced to the plea of the Starbuck employee that Heavy Soy Milk and Sugar-in-the-Raw were the only condiments available at the moment, despite the obvious global ubiquity of regular sugar and bovine milk.

The Tornado then proceeded to the door, a revolving-door, as it were, and proceeded in haste, to the recently constructed Providence Place Mall. Again, in seemingly surgical precision, and again, in what seemed almost personal motivation, went into the mall, as people screamed and parted like the Red Sea in Moses’ time. The tornado entered into the second floor, proceeded to the escalator, of which, he waited with patience until it arrived on floor 1. People on the escalator behind the tornado were a bit irritated at the refusal of the Tornado to walk down the moving escalator to expedite its arrival to the first floor. Finally, after arriving on the first floor, the tornado with blinding rapidity, gliding past the Banana Republic, went into J Crew and consumed the entire Men’s Summer Lineup of clothing. Most witnesses regarded, that the J Crew store didn’t look any different then before the Tornado entered. One employee was tragically consumed by the Tornado for her unabated resolve to “offer assistance” to the Tornado. After exiting J Crew, the Tornado went straight into the newly opened Apple Store, completely razing the foundations of the little enclosure, and devastating all the Apple/Mac products, including iPod Nanos, Mac Minis, the overpriced Mac Books. And then in a strange maneuver, squirted onto, with heavy frothy liquid—what seemed like spit—a large poster entitled “The Greener Apple”. The whole store was subsequently destroyed, and unfortunately, all the customers and employees were swept along with the Tornado.

The razing of the Apple Store opened an enormous gash on the side of the Providence Place Mall. The Tornado left the mall through this opening, and in one last bit of surgical—yet disastrous—intent, the Tornado proceeded down Dorrance street in Providence, took a left over at Pine, overturning vehicles parked on the left side of the road, and proceeded into the familiar late night college (and high-school alum losers) establishment known warmly in Providence as Mcfaddens. The Tornado blasted through the back entrance of the door, refused to pay the (exorbitant) cover charge, resisted the advances of some highly intoxicated, dirty and scantly-clad, 24 year-old girls, and in most unusual fashion, proceeded to consume and sweep away all the men in the establishment wearing Pink Shirts— and any men that refused to button the last three top buttons of their shirts.

This is where the tornado, and its heavy winds, and force began to enervate. The Tornado broke through the side of the establishment, and started to dissipate through the air. After taking one last disgusted look at the aquamarine color of the new “Iway” bridge connecting I195 and 95 (set to open in 2010). The Tornado disappeared into the air, much in the same way it came to being.

Damages are still being assessed by local and state officials at the moment. Fortunately, the Apple Store’s losses were minimum, since cost of merchandise is actually only a 4th of the products retail value; thanks to low labor cost and exploitation of Shaghigh students. More on the Tornado of 2007 will be reported upon the gathering of further information.

*this is all an elaborate joke—if that isn’t immediately obvious. All facts are fabrications or just simply uncorroborated. Except for Mcfaddens being a high-school alum loser hangout, that one’s true.


“ain’t” it grand

ain’t it beautiful,
ain’t it grand,
using ‘ain’t’,
despite teacher’s reprimand.

ain’t, ain’t, ain’t
ain’t you,
ain’t me,
basking in impunity.

red-ink white out,
papers do decay,
no more indelible stains,
that ain’t be washed-away.

ain’t gonna do it,
ain’t gonna follow traffic sane,
when we got here an empty,
break-down lane.

Moving Anthills

What good is good advice and sage suggestions? What real good are the quips, the puns, and the familiar sayings? They’re uncovered everywhere, serendipitously present, over-present; they’re unsought out, and truly random in occurrence. Over and over, you hear them, and nod affirmatively. Predictable responses: “wow, so true, so right on!”.

What good do they really do?

There is such a giant gaping leap between hearing good advice, and living good advice, that the one is almost entirely different than the other. It really only takes just a starting push on the playground swing, a turn of the propeller, and it is the difference between moving, and standing still.

ISBN-10 to ISBN-13 Converter Tool

Listen to this text

I work with a lot of textbook inventories at work, and we had a recent issue with the new ISBN13 standard. The internet had no really good tools out there so I created my own little one.

Unfortunately, it is only really useful for a very small group of people—but useful nonetheless. It is an ISBN10 to ISBN13 conversion tool. As you most likely don’t know, the standard for ISBN numbers have changed. They are no longer 10 digits, they are actually 13 digits (whoa!). Now, all the old ISBN10 numbers need to be retro-converted to ISBN13 numbers—which is a fairly simply process, but requires a little algorithm.So, reaching into the interminable wellspring of my largess, I created a free online tool that will do the conversion for people, for free. You may ask, “aren’t there already online tools that could do this?” To this, silly question, I reply, “Of course!” The Internet has made it such that every good idea you come up, someone else has already thought of it, implemented it, and Google has already allocated funds to buy it.

However, in this special case, I defer to the “mine is better” clause. Most of the tools I saw online can only do one number at a time; mine can do a whole slew of them!

Hopefully, “someone” will find this useful.

Here’s the Link! FREE BATCH ISBN-10 to ISBN-13 Online Converter Tool.