Yu Darvish to Texas Rangers

Yu Darvish, one of Japan’s best pitchers is coming to Dallas to play for The Texas Rangers. I have always been a casual fan of baseball. I love going to the games, however it gets kind of hard for me to follow every game. Coming from Houston, where I had to endure through a disastrous Astro’s season, maybe having a team with a decent record will help me stay in the game. I was watching the heartbreaking loss in The World Series last season for the Rangers. That’s why the news of getting a new decent pitcher is very welcome news.

I did watch the press conference for when Yu Darvish came to Texas. Considering Yu’s contract is about 60 million dollars, I suppose he would be fine with living just about anywhere. I thought the parts where they ask him about Texas BBQ/Steak were kind of funny.

Tim’s Exercise Routine

Well it is another year and another time for me to make the resolution to not be so fat. During college I used to do a regular exercise routine with a friend. He made up the routine but I just followed along. I can’t take too muc

Monday – Cardio (10 minute warm-up, 30 minute zone), Abs (Three sets of 12 situps, crunches alternating, six sets overall)

Tuesday – 10 minute cardio warmup, Arm weight training. Bench presses and machine workout

Wednesday – Cardio (10 minute warm-up, 30 minute zone), Abs (Three sets of 12 situps, crunches alternating, six sets overall)

Thursday – 10 minute cardio warmup, Legs weight training. Squats, machine workout

Friday – Cardio (10 minute warm-up, 30 minute zone), Abs (Three sets of 12 situps, crunches alternating, six sets overall)

Saturday – 10 minute cardio warmup, Back and shoulder weight training.

Sunday – Break

Of course I reserve the right to switch around the week depending on the schedule. Let’s see how long I can keep this workout going. This combined with a sane diet should help me lose weight.

Japanese Vocab List

In an effort to study more Japanese, I have been keeping a cache of vocab words that I learn from various movies/shows. I hope to pass the JLPT 2 this year, so I think learning a little over a long period of time is a good way to prepare.  Here is a batch of words that I have learned recently.

干渉 ・ かんしょう ・ Interference
現在 ・ げんざい ・ Currently At This Time
文句 ・ もんく ・ Complaint
流れ星 ・ ながれぼし ・ Falling Star
掃滅 ・ そうめつ ・ Annihilated
大統領 ・ だいとうりょう ・ President
副大統領 ・ ふくだいとうりょう ・ Vice President
当たり前です ・ あたりまえです ・ Naturally/Of Course
準備 ・ じゅんび ・ Preparations
耳寄りな ・ みみよりな ・ Welcome News
情報 ・ じょうほう ・ Information/News
訴える ・ うったえる ・ To Sue
用件 ・ ようけん ・ Business/Stuff To Do
責任 ・ せきにん ・ Responsibility
急に ・ きゅうに ・ Rapidly

製品 ・ せいひん ・ Manufactured Goods
産業 ・ さんぎょう ・ Industry
農業 ・ のうぎょう ・ Agriculture
盛ん ・ さかん ・ Thriving
主な ・ おもな ・ Main
苦労 ・ くろう ・ Troubles/Hardships
目立つ ・ めだつ ・ To stand out
派手な ・ はでな ・ Gawdy/Loud Looking
伝染 ・ でんせん ・ Contagious
評判 ・ ひょうばん ・ Fame/Reputation
苦情 ・ くじょう ・ Complaint/Troubles
流行 ・ りゅうこう ・ Fad/Craze
会場 ・ かいじょう ・ Assembly Hall
拍手 ・ はくしゅ ・ Clapping of Hands
転ぶ ・ ころぶ ・ To Fall Over
足元 ・ あしもと ・ Under one’s feet
失業 ・ しつぎょう ・ Unemployment
引退 ・ いんたい ・ Retire
弱点 ・ じゃくてん ・ Weak Point
克服 ・ こくふく ・ Overcome/conquest

Interesting thing I found out, 流行 can be used to say that something is going around. For example, when the swine flu was going around people said 「新型インフルエンザが流行しています。」

New Hobbies

The new year is a time to pick up new hobbies and start fresh. This past year was really a mixed roller coaster. I switched from a company where I wasn’t being treated well to a company that I really enjoy working for. In the process I moved from Houston to Dallas. I intend to write a little bit more about the parallels between Houston and Dallas later, but I thought I would start out the new year by getting into a few new hobbies.

Photography

Depending on how the profit sharing bonus turns out at work, I was considering buying a digital SLR camera. More specifically, I was thinking of picking up a Canon EOS Rebel T3i.  Obviously with a $600 price tag this is a bit of a commitment.  I would most likely follow up on it with a non-credit class or read a tutorial online in completeness. As a side effect, getting into photography would force me out of the house more. There are only so many pictures that I can take of my apartment or cat. I would most likely go to state parks or even take an excursion to parks in California or Colorado. My parents live in Tucson Arizona which has some amazing scenery. It is also not too far away from The Grand Canyon where I could take some really nice pictures.

Hobbyist Programming

I’ve been always wanting to get into programming in my spare time. Sometimes it is a little hard to muster up the will power after I program all day at work. I have been reading more and more into Python and by extension Django. I have a background in Java so it is very interesting learning a more “script” oriented language like Python. The more and more I work with Python the more I am seeing its advantages over Java. On the one hand, Java is a lot more enterprise friendly. It has Oracle behind it, has an established code base, and compares a lot to languages like C/C++. Python on the other hand seems to have more of a hobbyist following.  One thing that is quite amazing about Python compared to Java is how easy it is to interact with SQL databases. There is no pain with mucking around with XML files like in Hibernate; Django simply takes care of all that for you. I will most likely write a post about Python vs. Java after I get into it more.

Foreign Language

I still intend to keep up my hobby of learning foreign languages. I have come too far with Japanese at this point to simply quit learning. A few times a month I will meet with various Japanese speaking friends and try to keep my speaking skills sharp. Needless to say they have deteriorated a little bit compared to when I was in Japan or at Texas Tech and taking regular classes. I have started to learn Chinese as well. Career-wise, I think this is one of the most useful languages to know. Tech companies are investing tons of resources into China and having the language would be a good weapon to have in my armory.


Other Christmas Gifts

Apart from the Christmas gifts that I bought with Christmas money, I also received quite of a few traditional wrapped gifts from my mom.

Fancy Mint Chocolates – These were gone within 15 minutes of opening.

Kitchen Towels/Pot Holder – You can never have enough of these.

Kitten Calendar – I always get a calendar from my parents every year. My parents, like me, like cats.

Ralph Lauren Rugby ShirtThese shirts are pricey, but they are worth it. I really do like Ralph Lauren quality shirts and tend to make them last a while

Starbucks Coffee MugsI got one of these from my parents and one from my boss’s family. I need to get around to buying a coffee maker so I can start putting something other than milk/juice in these.

I also got nice cards from a bunch of friends. I have a bunch of friends overseas so it is always interesting to see the type of cards that I get.

Christmas Gifts

Every Christmas I will get some money from my parents and relatives that I like to spend to get myself something nice. When I was younger Christmas and birthdays were the only time that I would officially get disposable income to spend on myself. Since I have a big boy job now this has changed quite a bit, however I still like to buy myself gifts during the holidays.This year I did all of my shopping at Microcenter.

The first thing I bought was a 23″ ASUS LED-LCD monitor. I had been making do with the 20″ Acer that I had ever since junior year of college, but I finally convinced myself to upgrade to a bigger size. This set me back about $200. I actually took in my old 20″ Acer to work so I could have  a dual monitor setup. It’s funny how much dual monitors are necessities for a software engineer.

Dual Monitors at Work

The next thing I bought were computer speakers. This was somewhat of an impulse buy. I didn’t do much research on the different type of speakers. I ended up buying a pair of 2.1 Genius PC speakers for about $60 at Microcenter. Could I have spent $200 to get a pair of speakers that go loud enough to deafen my cat? Yes. Do I need them? No. I honestly had just used headphones up until this point. In college, I had always been self conscious of playing music too loud and disturbing roommates. Living alone has its advantages.

New Monitor and Speakers

January TV Preview

I watch a good deal of TV. I have never been much of a power reader and TV is a nice way for me to kick back and relax without having to worry about the time. I thought I would spend a little time ironing out the shows I plan to watch on a regular basis.

Spartacus: Vengeance
This is like the Caligula of TV series. It airs on a premium channel (Starz) so they can make the series without holding anything back. There is tons of violence, blood, sex, and plot twists in the way. The main actor that stared as Spartacus in the first two seasons passed away due to cancer. It will be interesting to see how the replacement does.

 

Californication
This series is really one of my guilty pleasures. I hope this new season is good. The wife/girlfriend and daughter were by far the most annoying characters in the previous seasons. The end of the last season suggested that they will be out of the picture. If this is the case I look forward to seeing Hank and Charlie’s exploits.

 

House
There are some series (such as Heroes) that I think should end after a few seasons for the sake of the story. House isn’t one of them. House is like the Rambo movies; as long as new ones are still being made I will watch them.  I hope this new season has more Wilson/House antics.

Working Schedules – Strict vs. Relaxed

Now that I have been working at Texas Instruments about four months  I can start to draw some accurate comparisons towards my former employer, Texas Memory Systems.  One of the biggest differences I have noticed is the difference in working schedule policy (the times you are required to be in the office, work, etc).

First let me start with my previous employer, Texas Memory Systems. They are considerably smaller than Texas Instruments (the entire company consists of 100ish employees).  TMS was extremely strict with what times that you had to come in and be at the office. Everyone was allowed to choose their own schedule from a set of predefined time sets.  Since I am more productive in the morning, I chose a 7:30am – 4:00pm “shift” with a 30 minute lunch. The management apparently monitored employees’ working habits like hawks and would take disciplinary actions if there were any violations. Furthermore, what made this system stressful was the existence of many computer monitors mounted throughout the office with a list of everyone who has clocked in for the day and the times they had clocked in and out. This was particularly stressful for me in that I was in the minority of people that liked to come in early and leave early. Whenever I clocked out, I would get dirty looks from some people like I was slacking off (when in reality I had come in two hours before them). On top of that, from time to time there were executive “mandates” that required employees to work a certain number of hours a week (I remember once where employees were required to work minimum 48 hours a week). I hold the strong belief that more working hours by no means equals more productivity. The first couple of 48 hour weeks might result in a disproportionate increase in productivity, but  this effect quickly diminishes.

Pros Cons
A good way to weed out slacking employees that might only work 25 hours a week otherwise Inflexible for employees with kids/families that may have to work erratic schedules
No hunting around for someone when they are not actually in the office Ruins one of the major benefits of being a salaried employee (feels like you work at McDonald’s)
Fosters a more “routine” working environment Inflexible for those times where you might have to stay at home to wait for maintenance man, delivery, etc.
If you come in early, you still feel guilty clocking out early even though you will work the same amount of time than those that came in late

My current employer, Texas Instruments (at least the group that I am in) is a lot more relaxed with working schedules. It is typically what you would expect out of the standard salaried engineering position. Everyone is expected to work at least forty hours a week.  There is no rule about when you have to be in the office vs. working from home, nor is there any system to track the exact number of hours that one employee works every week. Pretty much it boils down to, “get your work done”. If you are doing that then you will have no problems working at least forty hours a week.

Pros Cons
Places more trust in the employees and feels like a real salaried engineering position Potential for abuse by less trustworthy employees
Complete flexibility. Ability to work from home when needed without taking sick/vacation Makes it hard to meet with people that frequently work from home
No feeling guilty about coming in early and leaving work early Can lead to a more irregular working regiment where you work at odd hours during the night
Your working schedule is not plastered up on the walls publically for everyone to gawk at

In the end I would say that I prefer TI’s system more. If management hires quality employees that they can trust then there is no need to worry about abuse. To me, if there are people that abuse the system, then they shouldn’t have been hired in the first place. In the long run I think that these people go away as the quality of their work is usually impacted by how little they work.

Delfrisco’s Grille

On Monday I went to a new steakhouse in town called Delfrisco’s Grille with some of my Japanese-savvy friends. Let’s face it; opening up a steakhouse in Texas is tough. Texans love their steaks and they know how to cook them.

Was the food good? Yes. Was the quality/price on par with places like Pappa’s Steakhouse? Sure. Would I rather go to Central Market, buy a huge steak and six-pack of St. Arnold’s, and cook the steak on a grill in my apartment? Definitely. Don’t get me wrong; it was really nice to go out and talk with everyone. I did realize that my Japanese speaking ability has somewhat been lagging recently, however I can’t really justify going out and spending $40+ per head on a meal on a regular basis. Who knows, maybe I am still in poor college student mode.

Afterwards we went to a pretty nice and low-key bar called Breadwinners to catch the tail end of the Fiesta Bowl. It was a nice night to cap off a very relaxing vacation.


Delfrisco's Grille

 

Migration to WordPress

So after a long and good run on Blogger I have decided to migrate my blog to WordPress. I am starting to get into web development and have really made an effort to maintain my local slice of web space that I rent out from the shared host.

I have nothing bad to say about Blogger. For the period of time I used Blogger it was awesome. When I lived in Japan I simply wanted something to throw up travel experiences  without having to worry about any web administration issues. Now that I am a working man I can afford a steady web host and don’t mind maintaining.

WordPress was easy to install and the interface really seems clean. You might notice that I am using the default WordPress theme. This will not change. I really like this theme and refuse to change it “just because it looks like all the others”.

I think blogging is a good way to relieve stress. I will put it as one of my New Year’s Resolutions to blog more and get my mind out there. Until next time!