Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kitty Criminal

When I'm tired, the stupidest things make me laugh. And today, I was obviously tired.

Gidget is a kitten owned by one of my receptionists and she came to work today. She is a great kitty but she became overstimulated and bit her owner in the face.

I think it was an accident. Nevertheless, the receptionist wasn't happy and Gidget was in complete lockdown for half an hour.

This is the closest thing to a kitty mugshot that I've seen.

Poor kitty! Don't bite the person that feeds you!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Have Bikes, Will Travel

More good news!

With a very kind donation from a person in Japan, I was able to send Savong more money for some lucky kids in his Cambodian orphanage.

The money was earmarked for three bikes. The same day that Savong received the money, he took the kids to the store.

With the money, they bought three bikes and an air pump.

It's amazing how easy this was. Money from Japan to California to buy bikes for kids in Cambodia. Technology is useful sometimes.

I think the hardest part was trying to find parking in a crowded strip mall where the Western Union outlet was.

Thanks again to Anneke, my email friend from Japan and her generous gift.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Not your mama's yoga class

I’ve been a little bored with my workout routines lately. Ten minute warm-up, thirty minutes of playing with the machines. Then it’s done. A couple of times a week when I’m not too tired from work. Week after week. My body stopped responding months ago and now my mind was stopping too.

It was time to shake things up. Try something a little different. Make my mind and body work a little harder. I didn’t know how I was going to accomplish this until I came across something on the internet that looked, um, a little interesting.


Don’t the words sound like they should be yelled from a cliff, high across a desert canyon so that they are echoed in the distance?

I had taken one yoga class a couple of weeks ago when I was up visiting my brother’s family in Fremont. That was my first class and it seemed easy enough. A couple of body positions. Soothing music. Some breathing. The helpful instructor came around and gave me some gentle hints. It was like exercising in a spa. I felt a little girly doing it but there were other guys there who appeared to be taking the exercises seriously so I felt like I should do the same. At the end of the hour, I felt more limber, rejuvenated, a little euphoric. Yoga was something that I wanted to do again.

Power Yoga, according to the description, was yoga like a workout. I scoffed at how hard it could be. After all, there were no manly weights involved and I was sure that it was just a matter of moving your body from one position to another. Kinda like Tai Chi and if eighty year old Chinese women could do it …

The class was this past Sunday. Because I’m neurotic and self-conscious and don’t have any friends who are crazy enough to do the shit that I do, I didn’t know whether I was going to the class right up until five minutes before it began. I tried to talk myself out of going; it was too expensive, the class was probably cancelled, I was tired, I was going to be the only guy present … Strangely enough, it never occurred to me that you should have some yoga experience before trying Power Yoga. I’m never very rational in situations like this. I sucked up all my desires to run in the opposite direction and made a determined path to the front door of the studio.

As soon as I walked in, I was met by a younger guy sitting at a desk. I’d like to say that he greeted me warmly but he didn’t. He looked up and acted as if I had just interrupted something terribly important, which as I found out later, was a game of computer solitaire. I told him that I wanted to know more about the class that was starting shortly. He paused dramatically as if to emphasize that he was soon going to be gracing me with his voice. Then he told me that it was a yoga class and acted like this was sufficient information. At this point, I had several options. 1) Thank him and leave. This was, in retrospect, what I should have done. 2) Smirk and tell him that it was a good thing he told me it was yoga because I was trying to find Big Boy’s Family Restaurant. 3) Punch him in his smug face. Or 4) Stumble my way through more questions while letting him look at me like an idiot and then sign up for three consecutive classes.

Of course I chose option number 4.

He emphasized that this was not yoga for beginners. I told him that I was under a different impression because the class was indeed called Yoga101. He clarified it by saying that it was a beginning class but not for beginners. At that point, I gave him my damn money and figured that I had come this far, I had to find out what was going to happen next.

The yoga area was small, bare. More like a dance studio. There was no soothing Indian music. No tapestries covering the walls. No incense burning in the corner. It seemed like it was all business here. No joking around. I heard RuPaul’s line echo in my ear, “You better work.” There were three other people; one guy and two women. Nobody spoke to each other. Friendly, I thought. Glad I came here to make some new friends! I laid down my mat and started to do some stretching exercises, a little worried about what was about to happen.

The instructor appeared and didn’t make an introduction. He didn’t ask us how we were or how our day was going. He didn’t address us by name. He allowed us to do some deep breathing exercises and then he launched into the movements. Those goddamn movements. Stretching and pulling and reaching and squatting and diving and all the while trying to keep everything in sync with the deep breathing. I felt like telling the instructor that I could either do the movements or do the breathing but not both at the same time. It wouldn’t have mattered. He didn’t care. This was boot camp, baby. This was power yoga. Better shape up or ship out.

I snuck at peek at my watch. Half an hour had passed. I was seriously wondering what I had gotten myself into. My muscles were giving out and whenever I tried to do the goddamn warrior pose, my thigh muscles shook like a jackhammer. Sweat was dripping down my face and I was starting to forget the sequence to the more complex moves. I looked over at the other students. They were doing amazingly well. No signs of pain. No fear in their eyes. No twitching muscles or low-level groans. Even worse, they were taking everything so seriously. I wanted someone to fart, to giggle, to break the military atmosphere. They were experts, I thought. Professionals. Professionals taking a beginning class. Then I figured it out. This was an introduction to power yoga for those already good at yoga. I was a yoga newbie and in this class, I was trying to run before I could walk.

I was sooooooo thankful when he announced the last pose. The corpse pose, which I thought was very appropriate. Basically, you lie there and act dead which, at that point, was extremely easy for me. Five minutes later, the instructor announced that the class was over. The torture had lasted an hour and a half. I packed up my stuff, put on my shoes and grabbed my keys. The instructor was waiting by the door and I thanked him as I passed. I thought briefly about passing by without saying anything but that may have given him the impression that he had won. The drill sergeant had planned to crush another soul. I wasn’t going to give him that pleasure.

I’ve prepaid for two more lessons. Do I go back? Do I spend next Sunday hiking instead? Or maybe reading a book? Or even sleeping? Hmmmmm, sleeping …

I have a feeling I’ll do a repeat performance. I don’t give up that easily. I did look ridiculous and stupid but there were no witnesses who cared and 48 hours later, I did feel better. No gain without pain, they say.

I never knew this could be applied to yoga.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Email from Savong

I'd like to pass along the email I just received from Savong who runs the English language school in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

They just updated his website and you can view it at

He has more information about the orphanage that he is running.

Hi Phil,
It's always good to hear from you.

The main things I would like as:
I need budget to purchase food for them daily $20
I need $3 daily for four children to state school
I need $150 for purchasing three bicycles for children riding to school
I need $100 for hiring a cook monthly
I need $80 for hiring accounter monthly
I need to purchase a motorbike for orphanage
These costs are to need at the moment for the orphanage. this orphanage's called "Bakong Orphanage" because it's close to temples area like:
Preah Ko temple
Lolie temple
Bakong temple
At the moment the orphanage has 14 people,one toilet,a bathroom,four rooms and one pump. And it's in Thnol Trong Village,Bakong Commune,Bakong District,Siem Reap Province,Cambodia.

This orphanage doesn't have any sponsors yet. If your friends can be sponsor for the orphanage,it'll be better and we can support many orphans and poor families.

If I had much fund I'll be going down counstrysides and collecting orphans and poor people ,this is my dream.

If you could visit Cambodia again it'll be making me happy and I want to see you again. If you're sure in coming here,please you let me know .

And if you have any querie, please you don't hesitate in asking me .

Much respect and admire to you

Hoping to hear from you soon


If there is anyone who can help him out, please let me know.



Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Toilets in Cambodia

I still haven't forgotten about Cambodia.

My friend, Savong, doesn't seem to have enough on his hands as a director of his English language school so he decided to build an orphanage.

If you've ever been to Cambodia, you quickly realize that there are children everywhere. It is estimated that over half of the population is less than 18 years of age and I'm sure many of these kids don't have parents. Somehow they manage to survive on their own.

Or maybe they don't.

Savong's orphanage can give some kids a chance. I wanted to find out how I could contribute so Savong told me that, although the building to house the kids was quite adequate, they were still missing bathrooms. I told him I would see what I could do.

With money, things can apparently get done quite quickly. After I sent Savong some money donated by my friend Eddie, they started construction on the project right away.

Here are the pics from the beginning right up to the finished project.

This sign just cracks me up.

I told Eddie that he now has a building named in honor of him. The building is a toilet in Cambodia but it's still a building!!

I'm very proud that I was a part of this and I want to thank Eddie (as well as my other friends and relatives) for all the contributions. I realize that a couple hundred dollars is a lot of money for many people in the United States but in Cambodia, it can literally change lives.

All in a day's work

Well, that new photoshop book HAS been a real killer of my time.

I've spent most of today tweaking my photos and Dusty has been looking at me like I've been ignoring him, which I have.

Just so you don't think I'm an animal abuser, I did take him to the park today. Someone asked me what type of dog he was and I replied, "a one eyed Pekingese". The guy looked at me as if he were pondering what type of crazy person would breed one eyed dogs. I didn't clarify. I was grumpy and thinking about photoshop.

Anyhoo, this is my masterpiece for today. I have no idea how I did it but in the end, I liked the effect.

I'm off to fix more photos. I'll post more later ...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Split Phil

I bought a new photoshop book yesterday and I'm learning some pretty cool stuff.

Like how to chop my face into pieces and place drop shadows.

It's a lot of fun and I'm sure it will kill hours of my free time.

I better go eat. It has been a long day and I think I'm hypoglycemic.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Watchmen: Nudity and Nihilism

I try to go out to see a movie at least once a week. I probably would go out more often but it’s nearly $13 a pop and like most people, I like the idea of saving money by working the Netflix queue.

But last night I was excited because I had some time off to see Watchmen. It’s a big special effects pic that boasted a pretty cool trailer and some good reviews. It is based on a comic book series created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons between 1986 and 1987. I wasn’t aware of the comic book series but I figured that the movie would give me everything I needed to know about the backstory.

I sat down in my comfy $12.50 seat. The trailers were pretty good. The Hangover is coming soon. I read the script a couple of months ago and loved it. Can’t wait.

And then IT started.

Fifteen minutes into Watchmen, I wanted to leave. The tone was dark (in the Batman Gotham City style) but there were no sympathetic characters, the plot was confusing, the acting was painful (Malin Akerman should get an automatic Razzie for this one) and there were long stretches of overwritten dialogue and voice-overs which were completely pointless.

And to top it off, a naked blue guy was walking around. And when I say naked, I mean NAKED. Apparently when Dr. Osterman got locked inside some sort of whooziwatsits radiation contraption, he was blown apart and then (lucky him!) he was somehow able to recreate himself. I suppose when you have those sort of powers, you are not going to reform yourself into an overweight ugly old man. Yep, he did what most guys would do; he made himself into a well-endowed muscle hunk that glows blue and has no sense of shame.

Why was this guy walking around naked? Shouldn't there have been a law against that??? Ethereal blue beings must wear at least a codpiece when they are talking to other people. Something like that.

Nobody even mentioned his nudity. I expected someone to at least say, “Dude, we know you’re well hung and you’re proud of your meat but for the love of decency, there might be children walking around!”

I feel sorry for all the teenage boys who went home and sadly compared themselves to that glowing 12 inch dong. As you might have guessed, that piece of anatomy was a little distracting.

The other disturbing aspect of this film was the misogyny. I am usually very tolerant of graphic images but did this film really need to show a pregnant lady getting shot in cold blood and a very violent rape scene? It’s a good thing I wasn’t eating popcorn. I might have upchucked the whole bucket.

Half way through the movie, I was red-faced angry and wondered if it was still possible to get my money back.

Against my better judgment, I stayed. Part of me wanted to see how bad it could get and part of me hoped that the conclusion might at least have some decent special effects. As it turned out, it got even worse and the conclusion had a let’s-destroy-New York City blast that seemed very familiar thanks to other nihilistic movies.

What a train wreck. Or a hot mess, as my coworker likes to put it.

Some movies should have a warning.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Family time

This past week, I did the family thing and visited my brother's family up in Fremont, California.

My brother wasn't there because he was running around Asia on a business trip but I had a lot of fun far away doing, um, stuff.

I played on the Wii fit. It told me my (metabolic?) age was 48. Wii fit, therefore, sucks.

I attended spin, step and yoga classes. I don't usually attend classes at the gym but my sister-in-law can be very convincing.

I don't recommend the step classes. There was a lot of arm flailing and spinning around while trying to step up and down on a small platform . It required a certain amount of coordination which most guys simply don't have.

I watched Son of Rambow. A gem of a British film about two kids who try to make a film about Rambo's offspring. Check it out.

And I got to ride in my bro's Smart Car. It's like being in a pretty cool golf cart. Apparently these vehicles have good crash test ratings but I wouldn't feel very safe in them riding on the California highways.

And I had a lot of fun photographing my niece. I love photography and she loved posing so it was quite a good match, dontchathink?

I spent a lot of time potty training the new pet in the family, Teddy Bear. He is a very cute little Yorkie Poo who likes the convenience of an indoor toilet.

It was hard to get mad at him. He loves everyone and just wants to please.

I even got a chance to go to the local veterinarian undercover while he got a vaccine.

I gave the clinic a B+. The technician didn't ask for restraint while Teddy was getting his shot, he moved, she let go for a brief second and the syringe and the needle were just hanging there in his back. Not exactly a smooth move but she did manage to get all the contents of the syringe under his skin.

At our clinic, we have someone restraining the pet while he/she is getting a vaccine unless the pet is very calm. And we definitely don't let the owners restrain just in case they don't do a very good job and the pet moves which, in a worst case scenario, could cause the tech or vet to vaccinate the owner.

Yep, it has happened. And owners are really not happy if they get vaccinated against dog diseases.

Here is the incontinent little puppy.

Getting dirty in the fountain ...

Could be another Marley in the making!