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The plan is going as scheduled.
You see, I pretend to be their friend.....and then I shoot you!
Lately I've been obsessed with cooking, and not of the "recipe on the back of the Betty Crocker box" variety. I'm talking high quality, professional-inspired dishes with fresh ingredients.

I think it all started after watching Food Inc. And if you haven't seen it, I do recommend it. Yes, it is your typical, annoying "corporations are evil" documentary, but the basic message is true: thanks to government subsidies of crops like corn, the food industry could make mass quantities of high calorie, unhealthy, processed food "products", which they could sell at a much lower cost than healthier alternatives. And if you're in a low income bracket, you're more inclined to buy the former (like a frozen pizza for $1) than the latter (like a bunch of broccoli for $2.50), hence the reason why obesity has been linked with socio-economic status. In other words, we simply don't spend enough on food.

I've thus changed my food philosophy such that I now basically eat food, and not food products. To that end, I've cut most processed food from my diet. There are exceptions (I'm NEVER giving up Diet Coke), but if for example I want salt & vinegar chips, I have to make it from scratch or I'm not eating it at all. I've also made fresh vegetables a mainstay in all my meals, and got rid of refined carbs entirely.

I haven't yet jumped on the organic food bandwagon, and I still buy a lot of frozen meat (like chicken breasts or shrimp), but I'm doing this transition in stages. I certainly understand the benefits of eating grass fed beef vs. corn fed beef, but at the moment it's not feasible for me to get all-organic meat.

This new craze of mine is not so much a conscious effort for me to eat healthy food as much as it is a statement of how much I LOVE food. So if you're thinking I've stopped eating bacon, think again. (In fact, I just ordered an ice cream maker with the full intention of christening it by making bacon ice cream.) I just think that as a society we've been relying too much on efficiency in our eating habits: we want food that's cheap and quick. But while efficiency is good in a business sense, it's bad for your health and even worse in a gustatory sense. For example, do you ever see a chef on the Food Network or Top Chef make spaghetti by opening a jar of Ragu and pouring it on pasta? My point exactly.
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For all those interested in my travels, I've started a new blog. Check it out.


I envision this as a slightly different take from the run-of-the-mill travel blog. While there will certainly be travel photos and commentaries of places I've visited, a huge portion of it will be dedicated to the frequent flier programs, points accumulation techniques, etc. that subsidize my travels. I plan on eventually writing every thing I know in terms of travel in this blog, so if you're ever wondered how I frequently fly in first class on the cheapest tickets, just keep checking back.

I'm not "abandoning" Livejournal entirely; to me LJ is just not a good venue for the type of blog I'm wanting to write at the moment. I'll be keeping mundane/real life entries here. And if you're on my friends list, I'm still reading your entries.
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Over the years I've realized that you could judge the quality of a gym by the music that's playing. As a general rule, if the place plays techno music or hip hop, the gym is very likely going to be full of cardio kweens, squat rack curlers, chicken-legged bodybuilders, and muscle "isolation" machines. They would also tend to have silly rules, like "no chalk" or "no olympic lifting". The rec center at my school (which I do frequent) and 24 Hour Fatness are prime examples. If on the other hand, the place is playing classic rock, hard rock, or metal, you're more likely to find equipment absent in the former, like kettlebells, rubber weights, and olympic lifting platforms; plus, the people who go to these gyms also tend to be more experienced. These places are generally grungier than the former, but at least you could be assured that the patrons are more likely to know the basics of gym etiquette, like not to curl in the squat rack.

Nowadays, the above is moot, since I only listen to the music playing on my IPod. I only listen to "inspirational" music while exercising, and by "inspirational", I mean that either the lyrics or tempo inspire you to work hard or take things to the next level. I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro last year, and during the final 8-hour hike up to the summit, I had my IPod playing the soundtrack to Rocky IV in a non-stop loop. (In fact, I screamed "Drago!" at the summit, much to the confusion of our guide.) Needless to say, Rocky IV is always on heavy rotation whenever I'm working out.

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Other random stuff that's in my workout rotation:
-Journey's "Greatest Hits"
-The soundtrack to the old 1984 Transformers movie. There's something about Vince DiCola's music that's quite inspiring (he also did Rocky IV)
-"You're the Best" from the Karate Kid soundtrack. Only this song because the rest of the soundtrack sucks.
-Some random stuff from Bon Jovi, like "Livin' on a Prayer" and "It's My Life"

I'm not embarrassed by any of this.
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Ten Top Trivia Tips about Bacon!

  1. The canonical hours of the Christian church are matins, lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, bacon and compline.
  2. About 100 people choke to death on bacon each year.
  3. The National Heart Foundation recommends eating bacon at least three times a week.
  4. During severe windstorms, bacon may sway several feet to either side.
  5. The air around bacon is superheated to about five times the temperature of the sun!
  6. You should always open bacon at least an hour before drinking it!
  7. Bacon has four noses.
  8. Bacon is incapable of sleep!
  9. Bacon is the traditional gift for a couple on their third wedding anniversary.
  10. Plato believed that the souls of melancholy people would be reincarnated into bacon.
I am interested in - do tell me about

I especially agree with #3, and #9.
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This, my friends, is the only reason I'm buying a Sony PSP.

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The 2008 End-of-the-year questionnaire:

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
It was a pretty eventful year overall:
-Visited the Taj Mahal
-Partied at a billionaire's mansion and rode in a Bentley
-Flew international first class on an airline other than United
-Had a job interview in an airport lounge (in Frankfurt airport)
-Sang karaoke with the vice president of the Japanese branch of a large multi-national company (Video Proof)
-Stood atop one of the Seven Summits (Photo proof)
-Sat in an underwater cage surrounded by great white sharks
-Ate springbok, warthog, crocodile, kudu, mopani worm
-Bungee jumped, twice, from the highest bridge one could legally do so (Photo Proof, Video Proof)
-Ate marijuana
-Won a sweepstakes (nothing major though, just an 8GB Zune from Pepsi Points)

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On the spot, and doing all the math in your head, how would you answer these questions?

1. How many checked bags pass through San Francisco International Airport in an average day?
2. Estimate the size of the market for hair coloring in Canada.
3. How many pharmacies are there in the US?

Imagine answering these questions during a job interview.  The interviewer doesn't care if the answer is right.   You're evaluated on your thought process and not your ability to randomly guess. 

Here"s how I would answer themCollapse )

If you're looking into a career in management consulting, like I am, you have to be prepared for a stringent interview process.  Interviews usually last for 3 or more rounds.  Besides the standard behavioral interviews you find in most professions, you'll probably have one or more rounds of "case interviews".  These would include off-the-wall questions like the ones above, or questions like the ones at the end of this entry, which cover a hypothetical business case and would require you to find solutions.  There's no one right answer; the interviewer is just being tested on his/her ability to analyze a business scenario, the ability to think (under pressure and time constraints), and the ability to articulate answers clearly and in an organized manner.  Since you don't know what kind of business case you would be getting, you basically have to prepare for anything.  And I'll be frank, it's intimidating.

(Reportedly, many interviewers would also use this opportunity to test the candidate's poise and ability to take criticism.  They'd do this by either giving the candidate the silent treatment or berating the candidate's answer.)

Of course, the questions above are just the basics; they merely test the interviewee's thought process. The real case interview questions are like the ones below:

1. Our client has developed an over-the-counter weight-loss pill that burns bodyfat if taken on a daily basis. It has also been approved by the FDA. Estimate the size of the US market and tell me how you would price these pills.

2. Our client, Delta Airlines, has a fortress hub in Cincinnati. They just found out that Southwest airlines will begin flying into Cincinnati, where they will offer low airfares and potentially threaten Delta's market share. What should Delta do?

3. Our client, a clothing retailer, has faced a decline in profits last year despite achieving record sales.  What's going on, and what do you recommend they do?

4. Our client is a medium-sized diaper manufacturer that currently uses antiquated business software solutions. It wants to upgrade its software to a packaged type, such as Oracle, SAP, or JD Edwards. How would you go about recommending which product would best suit their needs?

You'd usually be given about 30 minutes to answer these kind of cases, and you're expected to ask relevant questions and get more information from the interviewer before making your decision.  For the record, in a recent interview, I had to answer a case question very similar to the one underlined.  How would you answer them?
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A friend of mine is doing his Masters thesis on the marketing of video games. Basically he's conducting a cultural market analysis on Japanese and American game preferences, using assumptions based on Geert Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions Theory.


If you register and complete the survey, you will be entered in a drawing to win a $50 gift card from GameStop. Also, if any of you post on gaming forums, feel free to spread the link.

Thanks in advance.
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I just purchased a plane ticket to Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania.  Getting there from Cape Town will not be an easy matter; I have to connect in Johannesburg, South Africa and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and I even have to overnight in Dar es Salaam on the way back.  But it will be well worth it, because I will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in August.  At 5895 meters (19,341 feet), it is the highest point in all of Africa and it is the highest mountain in the world that one can climb without technical equipment. 

August 15-24, such a nice way to wrap up my time in this wonderful continent. 

I'm doing the strenuous Machame route aka the "whiskey" route, which is said to be one of the most beautiful hikes up the mountain.  I'm also taking an extra day in the mountain for acclimatisation.  The success of reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro, regardless of the route, is not 100%, and I'm not going to be that statistic.  My physical and mental training has already begun. 

Now to go to a 4th of July celebration at one of the American cafes here in Cape Town, followed by my usual regimen of clubbing and dancing the night away.  And it's a Friday, so there's no "I have to work tomorrow!" excuses that I never use here anyway. ;)  God, I love this place!


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The Bloukrans Bridge is an arch shaped bridge located in the Tsitsikamma National Park region of South Africa, some 400 or so km east of Cape Town.  The structure overlooks a massive gorge, and stands about 216 meters (some 708 ft or so) above the Bloukrans River; it is the highest and largest bridge in all of Africa and the third highest in the world.  It is also the highest bridge from which one could legally bungee jump, and I am pleased to say that I have done exactly this over the weekend.

(If we're Facebook friends, feel free to view the video I had just uploaded.)

More ravings about my South Africa experienceCollapse )

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