Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Rockies 12 - Angels 4

I went to an Angels game last night. The entire stadium pretty much cleared out by the 7th inning stretch.

We had pretty good seats and they were free!

The Rockies scored runs almost every inning. The Angels managed to score another run (solo HR) but needed a lot more.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Chinese Movies

I don't usually watch that many movies but recently, I've watched a lot of Chinese movies, including several on the plane during the Taiwan trip last month. I've noticed that the quality of the English subtitles is very inconsistent. Since I like to watch foreign movies with their original soundtrack, I have problems with some Hong Kong movies that are in Cantonese and have terrible English subtitles. For those movies, I have to switch the audio to Mandarin so I can figure out what they're talking about.

Initial D (2005): I saw this on a plane but I forget which trip. It's adapted from a popular manga in Japan about street racing and drifting.

Needing You (2000): Starring Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng. Cute and funny love story. Really good.

Love on a Diet (2001): Also starring Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng. They get dressed up in fat suits throughout the movie. I liked it but thought the transformation from fat to thin for Sammi Cheng was a bit unrealistic, kind of like those "before" and "after" pictures showing complete different people.

Yesterday Once More (2004): Yet another movie with Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng. This one is not as good as the previous two movies.

All About Love (2005): This movie was kind of weird. It involved a heart transplant, identical looking characters (both played by Andy Lau), and a lot of flashbacks. Saw this one on the plane from LAX to Taipei; it made me cry.

Everlasting Regret (2005): Watched this on the way over to Taipei as well. Not sure what it was all about. Kind of reminds me of 2046, another movie I didn't get.

Chungking Express (1994): This is an older movie but it had a lot of big stars: Brigitte Lin, Tony Leung, Faye Wong, and Takeshi Kaneshiro. There wasn't really a plot to the story but rather it shows the lives of two cops and their relationships. It reminded me of Milennium Mambo with Shu Qi but much better.

It Had to Be You (2005): A typical Hong Kong romantic comedy where both the main characters are the third person in a relationship. The movie itself was mediocre but it had one of the saddest lines in a movie, IMHO. In one scene, a coworker's wife—they all worked at the same Italian restaurant—of many years just passed away and while reminiscing he says, 我娶她 因為我不能沒有她 (I married her because I can't live without her)... :(

Reviews and information on all these movies and more are at

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bugles Across America

The wind symphony director at IVC sent out an email about a shortage of buglers and a link to this website. Evidently, there are not enough people to play Taps at military funerals as 1,500 veterans die each day across America. In the past, they would play a CD/boombox at the funeral. More recently, the military came up with a $500 electronic bugle which is a real bugle with an insert that plays a recording of Taps. The "performer" would hold the electronic bugle to his lips, press a button, and pretend to play. That seems kinda cheesy, especially for a military funeral. In response, Tom Day founded Bugles Across America and signed up over 1,500 volunteers.

I'm thinking of volunteering... the website said that you can play a bugle or a trumpet/cornet so I don't even need to buy another instrument. There are only 24 notes in Taps and only four pitches so it should be easy to memorize.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

USA vs. Ghana

I need to get up at 7am tomorrow morning for the USA/Ghana game. The Italy/Czech Republic game is also on at the same time and Italy needs to beat Czech Republic for USA to advance... where they (USA) will meet Brazil!

Again, no cable yet so I'm watching either Univision or TeleFutura on UHF.

The Sweatiest Cities in America

If you ever need to fill a swimming pool with sweat, and you need to do it in a hurry, you might enlist the entire population of Phoenix, Ariz., home to the sweatiest people in the nation.

Phoenix adult residents sweat so much that the city's perspiration could fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in less than three hours.

For the second year in a row, Phoenix has earned the dubious honor of topping the Top-100 Sweatiest Cities list, a ranking of the nation's heaviest sweaters during the summer months as determined by researchers at Procter and Gamble.

During a typical summer day in 2005, an average Phoenix adult secreted 26 ounces of sweat per hour while walking outdoors. Phoenix's average high temperature during the summer months—June, July, and August—for 2005 was 93.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

93.3 degrees Fahrenheit is not that hot. It was about 33 degress Celsius (91.4°F) in Taipei... at 9pm in May! Add high humidity, which is all of SE Asia, there's no comparison to the suffering... unless maybe you live in Miami.

Combining heat and humidity produces a statistic called the heat index, which measures how hot it really feels. Gooch also put together a list of the top 10 most uncomfortable cities based on heat index. From the top: Miami, Corpus Christi; Orlando; Phoenix; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Houston; San Antonio; New Orleans; Tampa; and Fort Meyers, Fla.

My mom is from Kuching, Malaysia, which is near Singapore. It's pretty much hot and humid all year round and taking three showers a day is not uncommon. At least we have cooler seasons in the U.S.

Monday, June 19, 2006

June 19th

Today used to be one of those dreaded "I need to find a gift" days; June 20th is Shirley's birthday. I'm not very good at buying gifts, especially gifts for special days. If there is a practical need though, then I'm pretty proficient at getting stuff. I once bought Shirley either a printer or computer speakers for her birthday. Even though she needed it, I don't think she was too happy. I learned my lesson though; next year I bought her a silver/diamond bracelet (although she left it behind).

I think it's because I don't like getting gifts that much as I usually get things I don't really want. I agonize over what to give as gifts since I'm always afraid that person won't like the gift. That's why cash or gift cards are so much more convienent, although nothings says "I love you" like writing a check... :)

Anyway, June 19th will become just another day in the calendar, same as February 13th, July 30th, and December 24th.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


The power went out in my apartment about 30 minutes ago. The entire apartment complex is out; I haven't walked around outside to see how far the blackout extends. I'm posting from my notebook computer and I have both the cable modem/wireless router plugged into a UPS battery. There's not much to do here without electricity. I can't watch TV, play PS2, or even microwave something to eat. So far, I've also avoided opening the fridge trying to keep the cold air in. Blackouts are pretty rare in Southern California now but I remember the days of Enron and rolling blackouts several years ago. Sometimes I wonder if the electricity will ever come back on or is this the end of civilization as we know it. Since I have an electric stove, I'm counting on my gas BBQ as backup!

There seems to be a lot of helicopter traffic. Maybe I'll go out and walk around the building since both my cars are inside the gated area and the gates don't work without electricity. I remember being trapped in Shirley's underground parking garage at her West LA apartment last year. I'm not sure why I was there during a weekday but I was stuck for about an hour inside the automatic gate that wouldn't open. They were just about to manually detach the gate from the electric motor when the power came back on.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

World Cup

I've been following the 2006 World Cup in Germany, partially because I spent $20 to join a pool (currently in 1st place!), but also since I played for my school team in junior high school. I wasn't really good at it; I think not enough people signed up or something. At the beginning of the season, I didn't have soccer cleats so I was slipping and falling all the time. I think my uncle Charles bought me a pair of cleats later on. I did buy an illustrated book on how to play soccer, like looking at diagrams of free kicks helped me play better.

I still don't have cable in my apartment but I did buy a cheap VHF/UHF antenna this weekend. The signal for ABC comes in pretty well but they don't show that many games (most of the games are on ESPN/ESPN2). However, every game is shown live on one of the many Spanish language TV stations. I got up at 6am this morning to watch the Korea vs. Togo match. I also watched part of the USA vs. Czech Republic match; I don't think the US will make it to the 2nd round.

2nd goal in USA vs. Czech Republic match

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Hurricane Season Again

The 2006 Atlantic hurricane season is here as the first named storm (Alberto) heads for Florida. On our Taiwan trip last month, we met a family from Florida during the Island Tour. They told us that the roof of their house was damaged by a hurricane several years ago although nothing much happened during the crazy season last year (Katrina & Rita). During our trip, we saw road and building damage from high waves caused by a typhoon that was off the western coast of Taiwan.

This year, one of the hurricane names will be Tony if they get that far.

Mississauga in the News

Canadian Authorities Arrest 17 Suspects on Terror Charges

Canadian authorities decided to move quickly against a suspected homegrown terror ring and head off any attack on Ontario targets after undercover Mounties delivered bomb-making materials in a sting operation, according to a news report Sunday.

The Toronto Star said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police itself delivered the three tons of ammonium nitrate that authorities reported Saturday had been acquired by a group of Muslims apparently inspired by Al Qaeda.

Evidently, at least six of the suspects arrested were from Mississauga. Mississauga is the next city directly west of Metro Toronto and is where Pearson International Airport (YYZ) is actually located. I lived in Mississauga for almost 8 years and the most exciting thing that happened was the train derailment in 1979. Our family was part of the 218,000 people that had to be evacuated when a freight train derailed and exploded. Maybe these Muslim terrorists want to recreate the explosions.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Koda Kumi - WIND

Here are Japanese lyrics to the video I posted below:

風に向かって 走るんだ
どんな 辛いこと あっても
明るい未来が そこにあるから

季節が変わる 時計が回る
流した汗も 白い吐息もどこかへ
夢は夢って 諦めかけた
諦めたって 何も変わらない

例えば 糸がほどけたとしても
心でいつも つながってたいよ
そんなの 当たり前のことだから


The character for wind (風) shows up a lot although hence the title of the song. They also have an English translation (there are a lot of J-Pop lyrics at the website):

I’ll run, facing the wind,
no matter how painful things are
Because there’s a brighter future there,
I’m able to picture the things I want to obtain
So I take one more step foward
towards happiness

Seasons keep changing, the clock keeps turning
Nothing can stop the time from flowing
Sweat trickles down my body, my sigh white with cold
A dream is just a dream, I said, starting to give up
Whenever I feel like that, I say I’ll quit,
but in reality, nothing changes

Just imagine, a thread becoming unwound
In my heart, I’ll always try to wind it up again
And even though it all sounds so logical
it’s not enough for me to just make an oath


Pretty cool lyrics (if the translation is correct), especially the line "One day, I’ll learn to love myself more and more and perhaps I’ll find a complete new me." However, the lyrics don't help explain the music video with its wacky inventions and the huge dog.

Golf Classes

I signed up for a beginner golf class at Irvine Valley College this summer. The class is three days a week from 7:30am to 9:20am at Oak Creek Gokf Club (does the Irvine Company own everything in Irvine?!). The class itself was really cheap since it's only 0.5 units but I'm not sure how much green fees will be. I also may need to get some golf clubs. I have a 3 wood, 7 wood, and pitching wedge from Leon so maybe I just need to get a putter.

I also bought Real World Golf for the PS2 so I can play at home. :)

New Houses in Irvine/Tustin

My parents and I went to check out some new houses yesterday in Irvine/Tustin. They're starting to build on the site of the old Tustin Marine Corp Air Station near Jamboree & Barranca. It's another one of those master planned communities that's popular in South Orange County, especially in Irvine: NorthPark, Woodbury, Turtle Ridge, etc. This one is called Columbus and it just opened in June with 15+ communities planned. Since there is only me now, I was going to check out their smaller townhouses but they only had model homes for three communities, all larger than what I was looking for. We went through one called Kensington Court which were large townhouses. The smallest plan, which is actually the one I like most, starts at $750k... for a 2,125 square feet townhouse! Add to that a 1.75% property tax and $350/month association fee, I'm not sure if it's a good deal. Anyway, the salesperson said that they had two Residence 1 units available which is surprising since you usually have to take a number for new houses. Maybe the real estate market is slowing down; good thing our house in Brea just sold.

Family room/kitchen

Living room

The townhouses are pretty nice but seem kind of expensive. I ran some numbers on a mortgage calculator and I have to drop a huge downpayment to afford a $750k house. I saw a lot of young couples checking out the model homes. How can they afford it unless they're both working in high-paying professional jobs? Maybe I'll stay in my apartment a bit longer.

Saturday, June 3, 2006


Even though there are small, family-owned stores on every street in Taiwan, there are also huge hypermarkets that sell everything from groceries and clothing to scooters and automobiles. During our 2nd week in Taiwan, my niece (I think she's actually the same age as me) and her family brought us to one in Taipei. I'm not even sure what the name of the store was but it was right next to a Costco and a Carrefour, a French chain of hypermarkets that are popular in Taiwan but I have not seen any here in the U.S. We do however, have a lot of Costco stores.

All seven of us piled into their Mitsubishi Lancer and we went grocery shopping. I took some pictures with the Treo:

Restaurant on the first floor of the store. I didn't fly 14+ hours to eat California Cuisine. What is California cuisine anyway?

Hey you, no frolicking!

Durian... lots of durian. You can smell the durian as soon as you walked into the store even though they were on the 4th floor.

Liver? Intestines? Lung? Looks like all three!

Mmm... salmon and frogs

We had dinner at Kiki Restaurant on XinYi Road (信義路). The dishes were pretty good but a bit small. That's pork in the front and tofu in the back. They had the best braised string bean dish I ever tasted although it was really really spicy. Dinner for 7 came out to about NT$1500 including 11(!) bowls of rice for 5 adults/2 kids.

My niece's boy Darryl. She is originally from Malaysia and currently teaches English in Taipei so her kids speak some English although with a Singaporean accent.

The store also had a music section. My parents bought a 20-disc Karaoke VCD package and I bought this CD+DVD by Koda Kumi for NT$350. I really like this song but have no idea on the lyrics and the video is pretty weird. The DVD that came with the CD is region 3 and it's been a pain trying to rip videos to my iPod.