Monday, November 5, 2007

Public Service Announcement

On October 31, the Bay Area experienced a 5.6 magnitude earthquake. Though only 10 or so kilometers from our house, we experienced little damage but lots of shaking and rattling. This got me off my butt to start preparing a little more for natural disasters. My work gave us a earthquake preparedness kit with food and first aid.
What we were missing was a fire safe records box. We got a 1.2 cubic feet one from Costco that is SentrySafe brand - water, fire and security (they also have models for media protection). Couldn't figure out the fingerprint lock though - always errored out when scanning in our fingers.

Now the trick is figuring out what to put in the safe. Good thing JPL on AllFinancialMatters gave us a checklist.
So for all of you procrastinators out there, not more excuses - get a safe deposit box, and be safe!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nobelaureate Gore?

There's been a lot of speculation lately that Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States, may recieve the Nobel Peace Prize.
My first reaction - are you serious?!?!?

Sure, he might have raised awareness for global warming through his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." But I don't see the statistics of people actually changing their behavior after watching the movie. If anything, it just confirmed what people already knew and affirmed those who already advocated for "greener" lifestyles.

I'd rather the Nobel Peace Prize go to someone who has made a more direct impact to humanity.

Update: Sigh, he did win. What's next Nobel Peace Prize for Angelina Jolie's humanitarian work? I guess the only positive is that maybe this news will spread the news of global warming even more.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

How Close Should We Get?

After visiting Sydney Australia, I have a better appreciation for the native wildlife that live there including Koalas, Wallabies, Tasmanian Devils, and Wombats. Part of this new found enthusiasm was because we were able to get up close and personal and pet the Koalas at Featherdale Wildlife Park just outside Sydney. Within Sydney, it is illegal to pet the animals and they are lobbying to have all touching of animals banned. Some say this is for the protection of the animals from human diseases or being irritated. Others say the ban is to protect humans from the animals (Koalas are known to get vicious when woken up from their naps).

This was also a controversial subject when Steve Irwin "The Crocodile Hunter" would get up close and personal with the animals in filming his documentaries. His life was ended when he was stabbed in the chest by a stingray. To me, if an animal is tame enough for picture shoots at the zoo, visitors should at least be allowed to pet them. It's obvious when they're cranky because they'll move away from people so you make sure they're on frequent rotations for shifts. I think once you've been able to make a connection with not only sight, but also touch, you'll want to make sure that these animals are preserved for future generations (though in some parts of the world, they're not in danger of extinction).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What Do You Make?

Do I really want to know how much money other people make? claims that they have the salary information for over 200,000+ positions throughout the country. "Danwei" is the Chinese term for organization.

On the one hand, if I was job hunting, this may be a useful tool to help negotiate my new salary. This tool could also give me leverage if I found out that I was severely underpaid and want to ask for a raise.

On the otherhand, if I was severely underpaid and wasn't in the market for a new job, this might make me feel the injustice of being unfairly compensated and motivate me to start job searching. However, it doesn't account for whether the person who was paid more has been in the industry longer or possesses certain skills that warrant the higher salary.

All in all - transparency of information should level the playing field and give more power back to the employees.

I'm just glad that I'm neither job hunting nor underpaid.

Another company,, also give company salary data, but it's on a subscription basis. At $9.95 per month, I'd rather just stay ignorant and happy with what I already have.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Chinese Irish

Growing up, my teachers called me "Maureen" because they couldn't pronounce my Chinese name. I didn't think it was strange until Jr. High when someone told me that Maureen was an Irish name.

Last week, I returned from a business trip to Dublin where I ventured out to city center and experienced my unofficial heritage for the first time.
The Temple Bar area was just as I imagined it with Guinness signs everywhere and cobblestone roads. On Grafton Street, the shops were mostly the same as you would find in any big city with the exception of Butlers Chocolates.

The ironic part of the entire trip was when my coworker suggested that we have Mongolian BBQ for dinner in Dublin. I suppose that is better than the traditional meal of potatoes and beef stew of some sort. At over 25 Euros for a decent meal, I would still prefer the cheap eats in the Bay Area where less than 5 Euros would buy you a full Chinese dinner and then some for leftovers.

  • As for my name, I've long since dropped the nickname Maureen, but people still call me "Mo".
  • Monday, August 20, 2007

    The Big Three Four

    My husband loves surprises (planning them - that is). Every year for my birthday, he tries to top the last with a fun activity planned even though I would be happy just going out to a nice dinner. Since his birthday is just one month after mine, it sure sets a high bar!
    This year, my birthday fell on a weekday. When I came home, he had already started dinner and the dining table was laid out with a printed menu that he created restaurant style.
    I thought that the "Evening Activities" section was a nice touch. Knowing that I probably would choose the Ratatouille video game (the movie was too cute), he had gone to the video store to rent it out the previous day.

    My birthday surprise was extended to the weekend, when he packed up gear, bought rowing gloves, and took us for a twilight kyaking trip to Sausalito on the Richardson bay with SeaTrek. The pictures below are a before, during and aftershot (with our instructors). We were able to row close to sea lions and where the houseboats docked along the bay. Overall, it was one of the best birthday ever!

    Saturday, August 18, 2007

    Emotional Intelligence

    Which would you rather have, high IQ or high EQ? Daniel Goleman suggests that high IQ will only get you so far and that it's high EQ that distinguishes us in the workplace - measuring our self-awareness, self-confidence, and self-control. He cites the famous marshmallow experiment where kids are given one piece of marshmallow and are told that they can get two if they just wait to eat the first until the researcher returns after running errands. Only a third of the kids can actually hold out that long - delayed gratification.

    At a recent talk at the Silicon Valley high tech firm I work at, Daniel Goleman came to speak and pointed out that our firm typically hires employees who typically have a small range of very high IQs but a wide range of EQs. Therefore, to suceed, it's those with the high EQ that matter. However, I disagree, at tech companies, those who are rewarded are the ones who can build and demonstrate immediate results. Those that maintain, sustain and scale are typically not in highly visible roles. To that extent, delayed gratificationi is not as valued. So does high EQ really matter for these companies? May only to the extent that it's related to Social Intelligence - how we interact with others. This is the topic of Daniel Goleman's latest book - which I'm eager to start.