Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!

I hope 2006 will be a better year than 2005.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


More pictures from Taiwan. My flight back to LA was at midnight but I had to check out of the hotel at noon so I had about 10 hours to wander around Taipei. I got on the MRT without a destination in mind and decided to get off at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall station. We used to live fairly close to the hall (just two MRT stations away--of course this was way before they built the MRT in Taipei) and I remember my dad bringing me here several times.

National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
(with Taipei 101 in the background)

Sun Yat-sen

After walking around Ximen, I stopped by the CKS Memorial Hall. Even though CKS died before we left Taiwan, I don't think this hall was built until later. I do remember my dad bringing me to see his body though. I think we got in the short line because my dad was in the military.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Chiang Kai-shek

Taipei Apartment

This is a picture I took during my last trip to Taiwan of the apartment we used to lived in. I think we move there soon after I was born until we emigrated to Canada in 1977. I don't remember having security bars covering the balcony nor the garage doors downstairs. Actually, the street was pretty empty before, no cars nor scooters. Everything also seemed much bigger before instead of the cramped feeling I get walking down the street.

I also remember there was a park right next to our apartment. Back then, there was a concrete "ring" where kids roller-skated. The roller skates were all metal and clamped on to your shoe, not like the rollerblades today with fancy ABEC 9 bearings. I also remember wiping out quite often on those crappy roller skates, scraping my knee on the rough concrete. Here is what the park looks like today.

Friday, December 23, 2005

House Problems

Our house is only 10 years old but now is in need of repairs. We had to shut down the water heater yesterday because it was leaking badly. The bottom of the tank was all rusted and it was making weird noises. My dad checked with Home Depot and they charged $300 for installation and a 50 gallon water heater costs about $350-$420. I guess my mom called around and one of her friends knows a handyman so this Chinese guy is coming to the house to take a look. Hopefully I can get it fixed for around $500.

The furnace is also having problems again. This has been a constant problem since we bought the house. When the fan kicks in, about 50% of the time the furnace won't ignite so cold air blows out the air vents. They charge $75 to come out and take a look; hopefully it's a small problem and won't cost me a fortune.


Arg! Just found out that the furnace will cost $428 and the water heater will cost $650. I guess I need to fix everything if I'm going to sell the house.


Sigh, more problems. The leak has caused mold/mildew to grow on some of the walls inside the garage (at least it's not inside the house). I had a wooden cabinet in the garage sitting against the wall and the bottom is rotted out too. I'm going to have to check my homeowner's insurance since it seems like they have to rip out some drywall to repair the damage.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Weekend Activities

This past Saturday night we went to a Kings game at the Staples Center to celebrate my brother-in-law's birthday. His b-day was actually in November but there were a limited number of Family Nights (4 tix, hotdogs, sodas, plus parking) so we chose this game against the Phoenix Coyotes. With so many NHL teams moving around, I didn't realize that the Coyotes were the old Winnipeg Jets.

The game was pretty good although Wayne Gretzky didn't show up as coach of the Coyotes due to some family issues. Kings ended up winning the game 4-1. The funniest part of the game was hearing everyone at the game yelling at the Kings to "shoot the puck" during their many power plays, including two 5-on-3 situations. It seemed no one wanted to take a shot.

Picture of the ice from our seats (the camera in the Treo is pretty lame)


This past Friday night was the Ops Christmas party at the St. Regis in Dana Point. It was a pretty large event since there are about 200+ Ops people in Irvine and they also invited some Finance people. I guess this was an important event; many people left work at noon to get hair/makeup/nails done. I brought my one suit to work and changed before leaving for the party. Overall, the food was mediocre (especially the steak) but the entertainment was pretty good. Actually, the apptizers they served out in the hallway was better than the dinner itself. I carpooled to the party so we ended up leaving at around 11:30pm but I heard that people were drinking and dancing until 1:30am.

One thing that still amazes me is the quantity of alcohol consumed at these events. We had several Finance events this year with open bar and it was no different. I can understand a social drink or two but some people at the Ops party were totally drunk. Do people usually drink this much or is it because the company is paying for these overpriced drinks? Also, drinking and partying with friends is different than seeing your co-workers drunk and out-of-control. Anyhow, we've paid about $64,000 for the party already... not sure what the total tab will be after adding up the bar tab.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Citizenship Oath Ceremony

Here are some photos from my U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony at the LA Convention Center on December 9th. The letter told me to be there at 8am so I had to leave the house at 6am so I wouldn't be late. The line was huge and it took about 1.5 hours to get everyone seated. The actual "swearing" part took 3 minutes but we had to listen to people speak, watch a video message from President Bush, and some other stuff. It also took about an hour to exit the room since we had to line up to get our citizenship certificate. As soon as you walk in the door, they take your green card. Since I turned in my citizenship certificate to get a U.S. Passport, I have no proof that I'm here legally. I was planning to visit Vancouver during our Portland trip but I have no documents to get me back into the U.S. I guess can always risk using my Canadian Passport to get back.

Rows and rows of chairs (4,071 people took the oath that day)

They gave us little plastic flags to wave

Monday, December 5, 2005

Ski Boots

I went to SkiDazzle at the LA Convention Center on Saturday and picked up a pair of Salomon Performa 7 ski boots for $169 (I found the picture on eBay). I'm sure these are not the latest model; the list price was $425 and I've seen them online for $299. Hopefully there will be good snow this year.


Picture of the actual boots

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Thai Taxi

View from a taxi in Bangkok

The Circle of Life

I went to the USC MBA Career Resource Center this morning to interview 2nd year MBA students for job openings at our company. 11 years ago, I was in the same situation except I was the one looking for a job as a student. The business school has since moved to a newer building but the process of meeting people one-on-one for an interview remains the same. Most of the CRC staff are different too but I did meet Jean, the receptionist from back in 1995; she is now the budgeting person for CRC and she recognized me right away. I guess it's true that as you get older, time seems to be move faster. It doesn't feel like 10 years has gone by since I graduated from USC.

We had 12 interviews scheduled today at USC. I took the morning six while my manager came during lunch to interview the remining six. Meanwhile, another colleague was at UCLA interviews MBA candidates as well. After driving almost 2 hours to get to USC, it was hard to concentrate on the interview process. I usually have a few questions in mind but I encourage the candidate to treat the interview as more of a conversation. All the interviews went pretty well; the 12 people were weeded from about 30 resumes that were submitted. However, I had to quickly scribble notes between interviews in case I start forgetting who said what.