Saturday, May 8, 2010

No. 0059 - Wi-Fi Mothers

When I was traveling through China about a month ago, I overheard something that caught my attention: a mother turned to her young son, about 8 or 9 years old, and asked if he needed to go pee. My first thought was, "This boy is walking and talking and everything." I wasn't bright or gifted or anything but I can vaguely remember that when I was 8 or 9, I KNEW when I needed to go pee and didn't need any reminders. My second thought was, "How come this reminds me so much of my own mother?" I can't remember any particular recent incident but I'm sure my mother has uttered those words even in my adult age (I'm sure she said something like this the last time she visited me here in Boston). Sad, I know, but then there is something that is worth discussing here.

You see, for as annoying and embarrassing as these pee reminders may be, more often than not they hit it dead on (at least with me), as if there is this mysterious connection between children and their mothers. It is almost like there is this full bars Wi-Fi connection. This is something that neither needs to be invented or manufactured: it is inherent! Isn't that scary? What's even scarier is that this connection is not password-protected, so she can tap in anytime she wants. If there are anything that needs to be invented, it is on stuff that can regulate this connection for privacy's sake. Something like "Norton Anti-Mom" or "Mother Firewall."

Bladder urges are just one of the many things that a mother has access to via this WiFi connection, I'm afraid. With my mother, I don't know how but she can even hack past my "shared folders" in this "network connection." I've experienced 3 major breakups in my life, and 2 out of 3 times, she called it dead on within 6-7 days of the occurrence without my saying anything at all. My mother usually works long hours so we hardly have any chances to talk on the phone. We exchange short emails and gchat occasionally, but conversations there rarely gets deep enough to talk about girls. At first I thought maybe Facebook had something to do with it, but I think I do a pretty good job of keeping my profile neutral. I like to reason with empirical evidence and I think 2 out of 3 times is pretty good: that's better than a 50% chance. In fact, she probably missed incident #1 only because I jumped the gun and told her, so I may have stolen her thunder there.

Also, another thing I've learned about a mother's Wi-Fi connection is that it not only works on her own sons but also on "across son's network." When I was still in college, I always hung out at my church's Institute of Religion between classes. When I was there, I usually did a variety of things: do homework, attend classes, play pool, talk with people, general goof off stuff. One day, a senior sister missionary there (Sis. Peterson for those who remember) came up to me and said, "You can't play the piano today because they are doing something to the carpet in the room." That comment blew my mind: How did she know that I wanted to play the piano? I do not play regularly but instead on an impulse (in fact I don't think I ever decided to play more than 5 mins before I decided that I wanted to), so I don't think it was a pattern recognition on her part. I asked her how she knew that I wanted to go play then, and she said it has something to do with my making popcorn at the microwave. I was like, "What?! That made no sense!"

Considering this is Mother's Day, this one is for you Mom. I know I don't say it enough, but I love you (but you would know this already since you have this transcontinental Wi-Fi connection on me). Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, April 2, 2010

No. 0058 - Flushable Microwave

I hate cleaning microwaves. Our hands and arms are not good with cleaning rectangular internal spaces, especially at the height they are typically situated which is either counter top or slightly above eye level. Even if you don't mind twisting your arm and wrist to reach inside a box, the stains are harder than most to clean. Debris usually have hardened by the time you get to them which would require more effort on your part to remove. Even after you have cleaned it, it only takes one bowl of curry to bring you back to square one. That is why I'm obsessed about using a plastic cover thing to prevent any food eruption debris from getting on the inside walls of my microwave. But even then, my cover has such low profile that the roof of the cover would dip inside my food as things are being nuked. As a result, the cover would melt a little bit.

At first I thought, wouldn't it just be easier if the inside of the microwave has a spherical shape instead of a rectangular shape. At least that may be easier on the wrist when people go clean it with a sponge. But the greater idea came as my friends and I were discussing this over dinner. What if the microwave is flushable?! Awesome! Put whatever nasty gooey food you have in your microwave. Cook it for hours if you so wish so half of the content ends up on the inside walls of the microwave. So while the food is still fresh and liquidy on the wall, just close the door and push on a lever (or a plumb bob on a rope for the real old school style flusher) and swish goes the debris. How awesome is that?!

*Note: this invention was a collaborative effort of Raj, Jenny, Jacqueline and myself. I give credit where credit is due.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

No. 0057 - Smooth Braking Assistance

I few weeks ago, I was returning back to Hong Kong from a remote village in China as I found myself on a bus ride that have inspired this invention. In fact, I was mentally writing this as I was stuck in this "less than ideal" situation. Let me explain.

It has been 3 days since I've been visiting the more remote parts of China. Though I had a great trip in the Kaiping county seeking out my ancestors, I was ready to head back home to Hong Kong. I was tired, out of fresh laundry and was ready to head back to civilization. However, what stood between me and Hong Kong was this 4 hour bus ride. Since it was the end of a weekend, a lot of people were trying to head down as well. Needless to say, the bus was packed. The bus trip started out fine and we were cutting through traffic like a hot knife through a stick of butter. However, my joyride ended about 2 hours later when I woke up to a dead stop. Traffic Jam!! I'm typically pretty optimistic about traffic jams but this one is an absolute doozy. What made this even worse is that I've realize the bus driver can't drive for the life of him. He doesn't seem to know how to ease the gas and brake pedals. He would gun it for 3 inches to come to a screeching halt. He guns it enough that you would feel the pressure in the back of your seat and he would brake enough that you would lean forward. Imagine this for the following 3 hours of your life. It was miserable.

It is now 7pm and already 1 hour behind schedule. Still stuck in the traffic jam and I was starting to get a bit hungary 'cause it was dinner time. Out of no where I smelled this cheese like smell which triggered me to crave lasagna (I've been away from the states for almost 2 weeks at this point and I was pretty sick of Chinese food). But right at that moment, in the cabin of this quiet bus, I heard this noise that send chills down my spine, it sounded like this "uuururrrrghhhg, uuururrrghhg, rrrurrghurhg!". That wasn't cheese!! Someone is blowing chunks on the bus because the bus driver doesn't know how to ease the stupid brakes!! Then it became clear unto me as I see Grandma two rows up has been emptying her box of tissue to her family members (plural) on the left and right and handing out plastic bags. I thought "Grandma, THANK YOU for carrying random plastic bags with you!!!". Then it all clicked for me, "I thought I've been hearing some kid coughing in the back of the bus for the past hour but the coughing sound didn't quite follow through . . . oh my goodness, I hope there is a grandma back there too handing out plastic bags".

The smell is absolutely overwhelming at this point of the trip and I still got 2-3 hrs ahead of me. I thought about getting up to get my earbuds so I can at least mask out the barfing chorus in the background but I didn't want to stand up; I was afraid what I was going to see. It was just then I heard this toddler in the back said "I need to go poop". Now if I was in the US, I wouldn't have feared but China don't exactly uphold the same cleanliness standards. Once again, I've been visiting China for 2 weeks, I've "seen" things. I was hesterical by now. I actually laughed out loud. I thought this is one of those situations that can not possibly get any worse. Actually, now that I think back, the guy next to me probably had it worse - barfy passengers, pooping kids and a crazy guy that is laughing for no reason (Dude, if you are reading this, I'm not crazy). I looked back at my mother who sits behind me, she chuckled and threw a jacket over her head.

As I reflect on this experience, I can't blame the people for barfing. No body in their right mind would ever want to vomit for the heck of it. I can't blame the kid for having No. 2 urges, nature calls happen. Can't blame the traffic, it's the weekend. But the driver, the driver's foot is to blame. Only if he would know how to ease, all this would have been averted.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

No. 0056 - 3D Clone Brush

Clone brush is the greatest Photoshop tool ever! For those who are not familiar with clone brush, here goes the crash course. Once you have selected the clone brush tool in Photoshop, you can point your target at any part of the picture and while holding down Alt, left click so the program would register where you want to start copying from. Then, point your pointer somewhere else in the picture and mouse left click. Now you will see your original registered image location showing up in your current target location. Move your mouse around and you will see portion of your image from your original location showing up in your current location; essentially copying and pasting within the same picture.

Typically this tool is used for covering blemishes in a photo such as dust, specks, hairs and other common photography noises in a picture. Great for cover pimples on people's faces or even an open fly. Personally, what's even funnier is giving people third arms or Chinese eyes (good times!).

Then I thought, wouldn't it be cool to have a 3D clone brush? Say you are at dinner and you are still hungry after your portion. Just take out your clone brush and target your sibling's pork chop and eureka! More pork chop for you! Is someone annoying the heck out of you at work from talking too much? Target your co-work's face and clone away their mouth! (This maybe a problem when you decide to give them a mouth back because technically, he or she would never get their original mouth back, maybe this 3D clone blush should have an option to clone from a 2D picture as well). Need an extra hand to do some thing? Want to learn how to fly with wings? Want to have jet engines sticking out of your shoulders? . . . . you get the idea.