Blowing Whistles

I wrote the following (redacted) letter a couple of weeks ago after seeing something happen to my coworker. In the beginning, I was specific with my complaints and signed the letter with my own name. Later, I chose to anonymize the letter in order to protect certain people on the team (recall that I am a lowly associate who should not be embarrassing people higher up than me). In the end, after discussing the issue with those people higher up than me and out of respect for them, I elected not to send the letter. For the version below, I chose to sign it with my own name after all. It would seem that sometimes, things aren’t that black or white…

April 16, 2015

Dear Mr. Regional Head of IT,

I am a contingent employee currently working on one of the IT teams here in the Hong Kong office. I am writing to ask for your help.

This evening as I was preparing to close up shop, I received a phone call from one of the newer members of our team. When I heard him on the phone, I immediately knew that something was wrong. Normally a cheerful guy, his voice was now quiet and shaking. I asked him what was wrong, and he asked me to join him on the 41st floor (even though he was actually on the 42nd; it was obvious he was shaken up).

When I went up and met him in the lobby, his lower jaw was shaking and his eyes were watery. He explained to me that he had been interacting with the impacted user and then another user stepped in. When he mentioned the name of this second user, I immediately knew what had happened.

I first encountered this user last year, also when I was relatively new. The thing I remember most from the encounter is that she threatened me with the loss of my job. Afterwards, when I told my teammates what had happened, they nodded with affirmation after I revealed the user’s name. It would seem that this user was already known for being difficult as well as verbally abusive.

At the X’mas Luncheon last year, I remember you saying that all employees, whether full time or contingent, deserve to be treated professionally, and that if we ever had any problems we could come to you for help. I hope I didn’t take you too literally, because I am asking for your help now. I have no problem with and am understanding of one-time, irregular outbursts from users who can be under a lot of stress, but this woman has shown a consistent pattern of berating and verbally abusing IT staff, and it has to stop.

When I told my colleagues that I planned to write you, they pleaded with me not to. They even said that I could lose my job for breaching protocol. And actually, if I had not remembered what you said in your speech, I probably would not be writing you now. But as a man of my word, I believe you to be the same. I believe that even if you don’t handle this matter personally, if you make the request, something effective will be done. Nobody should have to go through at work what my teammate went through tonight or what I went through 7 months ago.

Because I am acting of my own accord, and due to the sensitive nature of this issue, I have not named names and have written you anonymously. Nevertheless, it would not be difficult to identify who I am and I am prepared to accept any and all consequences of writing you this letter. I have already informed my managers and they are aware of what’s happened, so all you have to do is make the call. Thank you very much for your valuable time.

Best regards,
Jonathan Young

Every Little Step

I woke up this morning with two songs in my head: Every Little Step by Bobby Brown, and Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang by Dr. Dre. The latter I can understand because I recently wanted to hear this song but it wasn’t on my phone and I had reminded myself to transfer it. The former, on the other hand, came completely out of the blue. I just woke up and heard the song in my head.

In 1989, this song came out right around the time we first landed in San Francisco to live with my aunt and cousins. I remember being 10 years old at my aunt’s house, finishing the last few months of 6th grade, transitioning to life as an American originally from HK.

When I hear this song I think about my cousin and spending those first months at my aunt’s house. I remember my first day of school in a new town in a new country, telling a guy named Cheng Wu that I was from Hong Kong, and then him telling me that he was from Hong Kong, too (he wasn’t, but I believed him). Another guy named David Hamilton made funny noises (“wu ki”) that sounded like Chinese. I came from a sheltered life of international schools and high tea where cuss words were strictly prohibited, and now I was thrown into an inner city school where the kids grow up so much faster.

Soon it was summer vacation and our cousins would take us to do American things like going to the movies. We’d go to the New Mission and Tower theaters in our hood, and when my other cousin was in town he’d drive us to Tanforan to watch multi-features. I remember watching Road House at New Mission, He Man at Tower. (Looking at Wikipedia now, it would appear that this movie came out in 1987. Not sure how I was able to watch it at Tower in or after 1989.) At night we’d play baseball and basketball with the Mexican kids in the schoolyard at Hawthorne. All the while, music would be playing on the radio or on mix tapes.

As a child I’d listen to music my parents would listen to. The Platters, Marmalade, Alan Tam, Kenji Sawada. I enjoyed their work, but it wasn’t until we moved to San Francisco that I discovered music that I could identify with. It wasn’t just my cousins, but all the kids in my school, who would have their radios tuned to 106.1 KMEL, and later on Wild 107.7 (I may have listened to KSOL as well, but I don’t remember it at all). Now this was the cool stuff, stuff that you could move to. My cousin would do dance moves while listening to Bobby Brown, and I’d try my best to imitate (and fail miserably, and still do!).

In the heat of the summer, in the bright sunlight, we just hang out as kids do, with all the time in the world. It’s summer vacation, man. This is what I see every time I hear this song.

Pork Ribs

For Sunday Dinner I decided to try my hand at some pork ribs I bought from Wellcome. I cut up some potatoes, cilantro, and onion, then mixed in a bowl with olive oil and some lemon juice.

Potatoes with Cilantro and Lemon Juice

Potato bed

Next up, I spread the mixture into a rectangular pan and put the ribs into the bowl, using them to sop up any leftover cilantro and oil. Since I’d already used lemon juice and we had some lemon pepper, I rubbed some all over the ribs before placing them on the bed of potatoes.

Ribs - Ready to be Cooked

Ready to be cooked

Of course, all this time I had the electric oven preheating at 120˚C/250˚F. I read an article online about roasting ribs on low heat, and recently my coworker did a beef roast on low heat also, so I wanted to give it a try. After cooking for about 2 hours, I raised the temp hoping to get some fat to sizzle and some meat to brown, and once that happened I took the whole thing out to rest. Here’s how it turned out:

Ribs - Ready to Eat

Ready to eat

Unfortunately the meat was a little dry and the potatoes were barely cooked. Reading the recipe in the link now, I realize that I neglected to cover the pan. Oops! That’s why both the meat and the potatoes didn’t cook right. If covered there would have been a steam effect going on to actually cook the potatoes while retaining moisture in the meat. I then could have finished it off uncovered like in the recipe.

Taste-wise, it’s hard to really mess up pork and it was fine with the lemon pepper, though I probably wouldn’t do it again. I’d probably use extra olive oil, lemon juice, and cilantro because the potatoes worked really well, the highlight of this accident. Will just need to make sure they cook right next time. My excuse is that I’m getting old and I don’t cook much anymore, so that when I finally do cook I forget little details that I used to know like the back of my hand. haha. Enjoy life and eat good food.

Tiger Beer

Tiger Beer

Tiger Beer – April 20, 2015

Tonight’s selection is Tiger Beer from Singapore. I’d never even heard of this brand until recently, and even then I thought it was Indian (you know, like Bengal tiger) because we were eating in an Indian restaurant when I saw it. I saw a few other new-to-me brands at Circle K tonight. Looks like they might be switching it up. Happy 4/20!

Tiger Beer – 2x500ml for $19.50.