Trying to Improve Word Count

In my attempt to be a faux author, I’d tried to improve my word count. However, regardless of what I did, there seemed to be a boundary there that I just could not break through. Back in the heyday (few months ago), I could pushed for up to 3000 words in a day and went up to 5K before. But gone are those days. Today, I had the entire day dedicated to writing, but as usual, found myself fooling around. In the end, I only managed around 2500 words. Not too bad, but not good either. I could probably crank out a thousand word in an hour if I feel up to it. So, 2.5K is not a very efficient output for a whole day’s work.

Typically, I would blame it on the weather. I like the weather here, warm and sunny but it just gets too hot sometimes. I do not have an AC in my room. Had been trying to save up for a portable AC but kept on putting off the purchase. I’m also easily distracted. A five minute internet break would often turned into 2 hours web surfing and Facebook. I had been limiting my usage but that only made me want to hang around the web longer. Still training myself on this part. My self discipline is seriously lacking.

I’d read Rachel Aaron’s blog about how she increased her word count to 10K a day. I had been trying to take a lesson or two out of it, but could not stick to them. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll take her idea more seriously. Maybe tomorrow will be my first ever 10K day?

I really do like her books. Quirky and funny. Check it out yourself.

Legend of Eli Monpress. (Book1-3)

Spirit War (Book 4)

Seeking New Creative Direction

It appeared that I had neglected this blog for so long. Mainly, I found my life screeching to a halt, uneventful and mundane. So, I had nothing much to report.

Also, my work life had practically taken over my life. I’m excited for the responsibility yet disheartened from the fact that I had to spend so much time for it.

This hindered what I had been trying to do for the past free months – writing novels. By my count of the files in the computer, I’d started around 12 novels but most never found themselves past Chapter 5 or so of the first draft.

Work often found its way into my mind and after certain time gap, I found myself losing interest in the novel and moved on to a new title.

Hopefully, the story that I’m writing could sustain myself until completion. I’m at Chapter 3 right now but I could foresee huge workload in the office. I was wondering, will it be worth it for me to resign to concentrate on the novels for a while. At least it will make me happier in the short run.

If I ever did finished the novel and edit, stay tune for an announcement of it’s publication.

Merry Christmas

Seasons Greetings to All!

I’d been feeling the holidays, stuffing myself and going through the different ways spice up this Christmas. Here’s one of my favorite.

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through Wall Street,
Not a guru was stirring, ‘mongst the trading elite.
The stocks were all laid on the exchange floor with care,
In hopes that a bull market soon would be there.

The brokers were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of stock gains danced in their heads.
Readers in ‘kerchiefs, and I in my cap,
We all settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the Street there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the marble of the NYSE,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to the powers that be.
When, what with my wondering eyes should I spy,
But a mischievous stockbroker yelling, “Sell!” and, “Buy!”

With his sly little grin, he looked quite like trouble,
I knew in a moment it must be a bubble.
More rapid than eagles his stock picks they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Groupon! Now, Zynga! Pandora and LinkedIn!
Someday maybe Facebook for money to be sinked in!
To the top of the market! To the top of the Wall!
Now buy them up! Buy them up! Buy them up all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to IPOs the troubled stocks flew,
Into portfolios of junk bonds and ETFs too.

Just then, in a twinkling, I heard in the dark,
People shouting and drumming in Zucotti Park.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney a Stock Market Santa did bound!

He was dressed all in red, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes weren’t tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of optimism he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
He started to share his good will and cheer,
Predicting a happy and healthy new year!

“The stocks will go up, with very few laggards,
You’ll probably land a few dozen ten-baggers!
Diversify, study, and keep your course steady,
Within a few years, retirement funds will be ready!”

His prediction was sweeter than fresh maple syrup,
No hard landing in China! Forget about Europe!
I was so filled with cheer I was nearly immobile,
We could recoup our losses from trusting MF Global!

He spoke these few words, then went straight to his work,
And picked all the winners, then turned with a jerk.
Laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, to his sidekicks, the elves,
“Here’s to happy portfolios in 2012!”

Let’s sing-a-long.

Dell Customer Service

I had been away from the blogging scene for some time. It wasn’t because I was particularly busy, but my laptop was sent to repair at the Dell Depot Center. A little story about this current laptop of mine. I bought it last December after I  had accidentally spilled ramen onto desktop replacement Asus at that time. It was a heartbreaking moment for me because the Asus was relatively new, didn’t offer me any hint of problem at all and expensive because I wanted upgraded gizmos on it. Then, I bought this Dell because I felt that it was a good deal. Dell laptops have pretty good specifications at lower pricing.

A little after a month of purchase, the sound suddenly stop coming out from the laptop. That’s odd, I wonder. So, I began tinkering with it for a while and reinstall a new audio driver which solved the problem. Everything was well and I was quite satisfy with the laptop. It lasted me through classes and everything. A few months after the first audio malfunction, it happened again. This time, I redo the whole procedure and the sound was back on again. Then, just around three weeks later, the audio finally died. The symptoms are just the same, there’s no sound coming out of the speakers although the computer system is indicating that all is fine. I tried reinstalling the driver but it did not work this time. Frustrated, I seek technical support from Dell. They have a nifty little trick that allows their technicians to diagnose the computer system by allowing them to take control of the computer. I like how they use this technology especially to help out those that are tech illiterate. The technician decided that it might be a hardware problem and send me a box to bring it back to their Depot Center.

Now, there’s a little problem with this. Apparently, the operator forgets to include my apartment number, which cause the delivery to fail each time. Only on the third delivery did the box manage to reach me although I repeated my address to them each time the box did not reach me. So, the box was sent there with expected delivery back to me in 13-15 days. After waiting for more than a week, I was starting to get worry because I ‘m planning to leave the country and want a computer by my side. I called the customer service asking them to ship my laptop back. Turns out, they did not do any repairs on the laptop. I asked for it back and they did promptly return my laptop, although that was also a day later than when I expected it.

The problem with the laptop? Turns out that Dell technicians diagnosed it as a liquid spill problem on the motherboard. It was not covered in the standard warranty and they would charge me  a lot just to replace the motherboard. Now, remember the case with my previous laptop? I was traumatized by that spilled that I would not leave any liquid for long nearby this Dell. So, how did some liquid make its way into the motherboard when I make sure that there are no liquids in its surrounding. I am dissatisfy with the answer they gave me. If there was indeed liquid spilled, why was it that only the audio in my laptop was gone, and not the rest of the system, like my previous Asus. I’m planning to send it out for another repair shop when I’m overseas and let them check out my computer. If it turns out that it could be repaired, there’ll be hell. Well, no. Just that I’ll probably won’t buy from Dell again.

Cost and Benefit Analysis of Life Decisions

One of my regrets to date was not continuing my Mandarin studies during my childhood. The environment then is not conducive for progression. While I know enough Chinese to get through with everyday life, I harbored some hint of envy when my friends could read out those poems of ancient Chinese philosophers. Surprisingly, I was adept at hiding my inept mastery to a level that people assumed that I’m educated from a Chinese literate school until I revealed otherwise. Still, it is always better to be truly fluent at any language than to just scratch its surface. The benefits of being able to speak and write in Mandarin nowadays seemed so much larger than it was a decade ago, with the attraction that China had now.

On the other hand, I’m swaying away from my decision to go to graduate school. Using US graduate education cost (that might appeals to me, ie a MBA etc) as a basis, I find the price tag of $100,000 not to be worth it. Although I might bite my own words in the next few years, is the additional $100,000 student debt be worth the degree? It will take some time for the graduate to repay the debt and it’s evident that there is a higher education bubble going on right now. The US government been pushing credits for its citizens to attend college and college tuition are rising as well.

Right now, looking at the prospect of losing 2 years of wage to attend graduate school and the further year(s) of wage lost to repay student loans, it is unlikely for me to opt for graduate studies unless I received any scholarship or sponsorship to cover my studies. I suggest learning a new skill as a better solution to overcome the additional degree advantage. It’s quicker to learn and often allow quick adaptation to in demand skills the market needed.

Dissappearing and Reappearing

I had been neglecting this journal for quite some time. An initial plan for renovating this domain into something more lost its steam. I will start the ball rolling again with another story on my flight experiences.

My recent flight from Detroit to Kota Kinabalu involved transiting over several terminals. I tried to purchase my tickets with minimal transiting time to cut down on the idle time, often with different airlines.

The first start of the leg began on a shaky ground when I checked in my luggage and the airline refused to perform behind the door luggage transit so that I can cut off the waiting time to retrieve the luggage and checked them in again, due to company policy.

I was still fine with it despite my repeated failed attempts to convince the officers otherwise. Then the worse happened when a sudden thunderstorm developed minutes before I board my flight. I was still hoping I made it in time to board my international flight to Hong Kong in Los Angeles.

I arrived in LAX minutes after the check in counter closed. Running to the luggage claim, I tried seeking an airline officer to inform my flight that my previous flight was delayed but alas, he lost the number for my intended airline and cannot make that call.

I retrieved my luggage and ran all the way from the domestic terminal to the international terminal (not an easy feat with two heavy bags) and promptly convinced the nice lady at the counter to check in my (very late) luggage.

I hurried through the customs and straight into the plane. As I sat down on my seat, dripping wet with sweat, I told the friendly Caucasian next to me that less than an hour ago, I was still in another plane about to reach LA.

Angel on Ice

Saw her performance live on tv, simply splendid. I tried to search for her performance on Youtube but those with with better quality are often took down due to copyright claims. Here’s one that I found – Kim Yuna, Bond girl – angel on ice!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bml9L6pWM-o]

Update: She just won the gold in Olympics!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQE-v_zwo6k]

Inspirations

It’s often the small talks that lets me know the person behind the name.

To the professor who earned his MBA to escape drafting for the Vietnam War, taking a two-year graduate course and finishing it in a year. Working three jobs at the same time to support his education and yet, graduate first in his class. To the same professor who went on to study law and conquered the corporate world with a list of extensions behind his name. During his course of work, rise and received recognition of the highest honors in his almost three decade out there in the field. To the professor who missed out on a couple more titles to his name because he wrote the qualification exam questions himself and felt it unethical if he took his own exams to receive the titles. That and many more, to one of the many professors and friends that inspire me of the unbound limits of human achievement and what they went through to achieve it.

And a quick shout out to another professor who worked 7 days a week, regardless of weekends and national holidays. The one who constantly reminded me not to take disastrous short cuts in life. You inspired me to be hardworking and put the greatest of effort into my passion, if possible.

Chinese New Year 2010

Happy Chinese Year to all my friends and readers (if there are any). May you find joy and prosperity in the Year of the Tiger. It may appeared that I had been abandoning this journal for the time, but truthfully I had a pile of backlogged post that I think will not see the light of publishing.

I will be cooking for New Year dinner tomorrow but amidst the tight schedule I have recently, I’m not into the celebratory mood yet. So, hopefully things will go well. Now, back to cleaning up my room thoroughly before the new year arrives.

edit: I also just watched the Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010 opening ceremony. Of course, my support is for Kim Yuna as well as UofM students, Charlie White and Meryl Davis for gold in ice dancing.

Too Soon, Too Fast

It’s that time of the year again. I’m registering courses for next semester. However, things did not go as smoothly as I anticipated this time. I found that right now, during my second year here, I had accumulated enough credits to be considered a senior.

I always had been aware that I had a lot of credits, but not the undesirable side effects of having a senior standing. It prevented me from taking courses reserved for students up to junior standing. It’s a shame because some courses are necessary for my major.

Well, I will just have to meet up with my adviser on how to handle such situations.