Friday workday ended with a one-on-one with my boss, who said he wants me to be more pro-active, and become some sort of account manager for the customers who have the crappiest of our products. Stupid idea. Very stupid. If I wanted to do that I would have become a sales engineer. I'll have to talk to him about it again when it isn't 7 pm on a Friday and just nodding my head and smiling was the best way to get home before midnight.
He also told me that the trip to Portland which I had volunteered for is really to Roseburg, which I thought was nice because it meant I might be able to visit friends in Ashland on the way up, since the closest airport I knew which had major flights was Medford, nextdoor to Ashland. But looking at plane schedules and maps this weekend, it looks like it's closer to Portland, and if I fly into Portland, I may as well drive up to Seattle and see my folks.
Saturday there was a package waiting for me at the apartment office, so I picked it up on my way to Caltrain. I got there 20 minutes early, which gave me plenty of time to pay for parking and get a train ticket, and completely forget the DVDs which were on the front seat of the car which were my main reason for making a lunch date with Carolyn N, the head of Friends of Thailand. On the DVD were photos from my last trip to Thailand, and a couple of episodes of "Far Flung Floyd", where he cooks dishes in Bangkok and northern Thailand. Floyd is a Brit who goes around the world in black dress slacks, white shirt and black bow tie, and incongruously demonstrates recipes of the place he is visiting, using the same equipment the locals use. He also intersperses a bit about the local culture and traditions, and usually has a guest local cook or maybe just a local ex-patriate who speaks English. It's very very funny for people who have lived where he is visiting, because he gets big chunks of "facts" wrong, while doing a stellar job of cooking like a native. It's also funny to see how sometimes when he gives locals a portion to taste they love it and say so, and sometimes they hate it and tell him they love it.
Anyhow, we had a great lunch at Cha-Am restaurant on Folsom between 3rd and 4th, not to be confused with Cha-Am Express on Fourth between Folsom and Howard. We both speak Thai well enough to chat a little with the wait staff, and I discovered that a phrase which used to be cute and clever is now downright rude and pornographic. In 1975 I was able to use this phrase to good advantage with anyone, but now Nice Girls blush and run away when I use it. The phrase sounds like "Jeep Poo-ying". Poo-ying means woman or women, and in 1975 "Jeep"" meant "flirt". I think now it may mean "fuck". At any rate, it is now no longer clever and cute for me to say I speak Thai "well enough to jeep poo-ying". Much more polite to use Carolyn's phrase "I speak about as good as a small child".
After lunch, I walked to Chinatown (I needed the exercise) in search of a wok to replace the one which de-cured itself last week. I'd had it for about 20 years, time for a new one. Also wanted a flat-bottom one, since the electric range doesn't work well with the round-bottomed one, even with the cooking ring. Found a 14-inch flat-bottom steel wok at The Wokshop for about $20, and also bought a pair of bamboo shovel-spoons. While I was on Grant Ave, I also bought a couple of silk pillow covers, and a jade pendant which will eventually be a birthday present for my jaded younger sister. She says she doesn't want a sapphire. She has green eyes and a redhead's complexion, so jade looks better on her, I have to admit.
After Chinatown, I walked for about an hour, trying to decide if I wanted to go to a massage parlor, but all the ones I passed had drug dealers, serial killers and other locals hanging out nearby, so I decided to keep walking. It was bitterly cold and very windy, I'm amazed I did not catch cold. Must be the vitamin C.
Got back to CalTrain in time to see the 5 o'clock train pulling out. No problem I'll wait at Starbuck's. No such luck, they close at 5. But the Safeway on the corner has a Starbuck's corner, so I got a hazelnut mocha and took it back to the station waiting room. The only free seat was next to a very sexy oriental woman wearing designer shades and calf-high white leather boots with block toes. Normally I like to sit across from such people, because you can't really people-watch the people sitting next to you. So I start reading my book, when she answers a cell phone call in Thai. It was a very short call, and when she was done I asked in Thai if she was from Thailand. She answered in Thai that she was, and then did the usual double-take when she realized I had spoken to her in Thai. To her credit, she didn't do the also-usual "say what?" We had a nice chat until it was time to get on the train - turns out she is working in Kirkland, WA, which is spitting distance from Microsoft, and is visiting friends in San Jose for a couple of months. She has been in the US for a year or two, so I got to tell her about the floods and crazy weather they were having last November. We determined it isn't global warming, it's global craziness. After putting our heads together we decided that instead of Thailand having three seasons: rainy, cold and hot, it now had a single season which we would call "guess", or "the crazy season". She saw the wok in my shopping bag and asked if I had bought it for my Thai wife. I told her that I was single, and I cooked Thai food sometimes, and needed to replace my rusty old wok. She asked if I liked Thai sweets, and we talked about those for a while - they do some interesting things with sticky rice, sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk and various fruits and beans.
We got on different cars because she had some phone calls to make. I didn't get her name, but gave her my card, and I think as she got on the train she said she would call me and we could get together for Thai sweets.
Got home around 8, had dinner and popped a DVD of The Aristocrats into the player. This is not a move to watch while you are eating. So I put dinner aside for 15 minutes, and decided that the movie wasn't nearly as interesting as the hype, and after 5 minutes of hearing three or four variations on the joke, there's really nothing left to watch. For those of you who are not familiar with this film, it is a "documentary" about a joke which apparently every working comic in the known universe has told at least once in their careers, usually backstage and usually to other comedians. I had never heard this joke before, and have to say it just isn't funny. The premise is funny, but the language and culture has changed and robbed the punch line of its shock value.
So I popped that out of the player and replaced it with The Fantastic Four. Nice light sci-fi/comic book entertainment. A little too much time was devoted to the background of how the F4 and Dr. Doom got their powers, but there were some very good special effects, and the ending left them open for a sequel, which I kind of hope they do not do, because the cast was mediocre, except for Michael Chiklis who played Ben Grimm, a.k.a. The Thing. He did a great job as Monster With A Heart, even when he was in human form. Jessica Alba would have been great eye candy if we got to see more skin, but they kept making her invisible before she took her clothes off. Ditto Maria Menounos, former James Bond girl, who is overdressed in all her scenes as the sexy nurse/skier.
Started Sunday's adventures with a noon appointment to meet a Chinese woman whose ad I had answered. It had been placed by a male relative, and he said she did not speak much English, but he could translate. I got there, and she said she was from Taiwan, and only spoke a tiny bit of English, and then inexplicably she said she spoke Thai. Amazing. Her cousin left when it was clear we didn't need a translator anymore.
Turns out "Tracy" (not her real name) was born in northern Thailand, Mae Sai on the Burmese border in Chiang Mai province, he mom is Thai her dad is Chinese, and they moved to Taiwan when she was 10, so Thai is her first language. She has been in the US for 3 weeks, and this was the first time she had been able to speak Thai. All her cousin's friends were Chinese or English-speakers.
We had a good chat for about an hour and a half, and will probably get together again, if she has a chance before her visa runs out.
Did lots of surgical shopping Sunday. First on the list was feather pillows and a bolster, the ones at WalMart are not up to par, so I headed south on El Camino, where I remembered there being a couple of linen/bedding stores between Mountain View and Santa Clara. They are now an empty shell and an old country mercantile store. Oh well. Ended up at Mervyn's in Santa Clara, where they had exactly what I was looking for, on sale, for half the WalMart price.
There's an Albertson's in that shopping center, and I got a couple of the things on my list there. And a couple more at Walgreen's next door. Took those goodies home, looked at my white board and saw I still had a little more shopping to do, but first did some laundry, napped a bit, and had dinner.
Finally opened up the Superbowl broadcast on TiVo and watched the commercials. There were a couple of good ones, but not enough to really make the effort worthwhile. Budweiser had a couple of cute ones featuring their Clydesdales, which made me wonder if beautiful horses should always make me think of beer. I think they have done a serious disservice to horses that way.
Called the parental units, and then went to Starbuck's for an hour, and read a few chapters in Bird by Bird.It was a bit difficult to concentrate, because at the table next to me was a convention of maybe 8 Russian teenagers, being very loud and playing some game which involved their cell phones and a lot of key-jangling and high-5-ing. Afterwards walked across the parking lot to Long's for the last of my surgical shopping strikes.
Time for bed.