Saturday, March 31, 2007

張靚穎 Concert

I just got back from Jane Zhang's concert at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. The concert was great; she has an awesome voice and she's pretty cute as well. However, we probably had the worst seat in the house. The sound and lighting people set up their equipment in the middle of the orchestra section and our seats were in the row right behind them. We tried grabbing empty seats elsewhere but got bumped twice and we ended back in our original seats. The auditorium was not designed for a rock/pop concert format and they had nowhere to put the mixing board.

There was a live band on stage but they only played for the English songs. All the music for the Chinese songs were played from a CD. I think one of the sound guys was responsible for playing the right CD track and recording the concert on a CD recorder. He played the wrong CD track once (he played a song she already sang) and they had to stop and start again with the right song. Pretty funny... if you're not the sound guy. :)

Outside the auditorium before the concert... lots of people from Mainland China.

Sound equipment (and boba milk tea) which we got to see all night.

Banner on stage. She's really into dolphins. Not sure what the bottom row of Chinese characters say.

First outfit.

Second outfit. She took two breaks and we thought she was going to change again, like a Chinese wedding, but she came out for the third set with the same clothes.

I also recorded video for 4 songs with my camera. The video quality is crap since the place was so dark but the sound was really loud so it recorded okay. Each file is ~100MB so I need to figure out how to paste/share the video files.


Update: My first upload to YouTube

Loving You: the song with all the high notes.

Chinese K-TV

Last Sunday, my parents and I met with their friend for lunch; she was the realtor that sold my house in Brea last year. After lunch, we went to visit her son's home in Walnut. He had some crazy K-TV system that had 18,000 songs stored and we ended up singing Chinese songs. I was surprised by how many songs I recognize just from listening to my dad practice at home all these years. I even tried to sing one but couldn't read the characters fast enough; a couple of people had to help read out the lyrics before I could sing them. :(

This was the song I was trying to sing. The original arrangement on the CD is mainly guitar... maybe I can figure out the chords and accompany myself. I have the chords to another C-pop song (愛相隨 by 周華健) so I'm practicing that one too.

解脫 by 張惠妹

愛是不夜城 回憶像星辰
熱淚越沸騰 我越感覺有點冷
變了心的人 越想越傷人
枯坐到清晨 陽光替房間開了燈

想 若結局一樣又何苦再想
傷 若讓人成長

解脫 是肯承認這是個錯
你有自由走 我有自由好好過

解脫 是懂擦乾淚看以後
這世界遼闊 我總會實現一個夢


Jane Zhang

Official website

Jane (or Liangying) Zhang [張靚穎] was the 2nd runner-up in the 2005 Super Girl competition (~American Idol in China). I've never heard of her before but I'm spending $100 to see her in concert tonight in Pasadena. Leon called me earlier this week to see if I wanted to go; I didn't know he was into C-pop. Maybe his Mandarin is better than I thought. Actually, Jane Zhang sings a lot of English songs (3 out of 10 songs on her 1st album is in English) so I should understand some lyrics. For $100 tickets, she better not be lip-syncing.

That's a pretty nice Shure wireless mic she's using... very similar to the ones we use at NewSong.

Infernal Affairs

I just downloaded and watched Infernal Affairs, a Hong Kong movie from 2002. Shirley actually had all three movies (IA2 and IA3) on her Mac several years ago but with Chinese subtitles (the dialog is in Cantonese). This time I also downloaded English subtitles so I could follow the plot.

The movie was really good; it pretty much won every award for both the Hong Kong Film Awards and Golden Horse Awards that year. Infernal Affairs was remade into The Departed last year by Martin Scorsese and it won four Oscars. I wonder how many American moviegoers knew they were watching a remade Chinese movie.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Portland Airport

PDX airport has free wireless LAN access, which give me something to do while waiting for my flight to board. I've been on a lot of flights between Orange County and Portland during the past year and each flight has been completely booked. Not sure if airlines are running less flights to fill up planes but I used to have the entire row by myself.

Well, at least I'm flying to SNA instead of LAX... I hate LAX.


Hmm, the flight wasn't as full as it appeared from the waiting room. The seat next to me was empty and there were several other empty seats. It did turn out to be a Disneyland express flight; there were lots of families with kids going there this weekend. Wait until they see the $70 ticket price.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Baby Pics

I'm here in Portland with my parents visiting my sister, Rebecca, and their new baby. Addison was born on May March 15th in the afternoon, weighing 6 lbs 5 oz and she was 20 inches long. I had also just bought a Sony A100 digital SLR for my dad so there are lots of pictures.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Halftime score: UCLA 20 - Indiana 13. I thought football season was over...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Broadcom Names Veteran Executive Eric Brandt as Chief Financial Officer

IRVINE, Calif., March 14, 2007 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX News Network/ -- Broadcom Corporation (Nasdaq: BRCM), a global leader in semiconductors for wired and wireless communications, today announced that veteran financial executive Eric K. Brandt will join the company later this month as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

Death and Taxes

I hired a tax accountant this year and I just sent all my documents to him. I bought TurboTax to do my parent's taxes so I thought I would try to see what my taxes will be if I did it myself. After dropping in numbers for about 30 minutes, the result is that I owe ~$11k for federal taxes and ~$5k in state taxes. Yup, in addition to all the taxes I paid on my paychecks and stock option exercises, I have to pay ~$16k more. I knew being single and living in an apartment is bad but this is crazy. I even have to pay $1,500 of AMT taxes... I thought that was for millionaires. Sigh, I feel like I just got robbed. :(

Sh*t! I hope I really screwed up in TurboTax and my tax accountant can lower that $16k tax bill. Any politician trying to raise taxes will definitely not get my vote.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bipolar Disorder

Woman says she bought car under influence of bipolar disorder, sues dealer

Associated Press

TROY, Mich. — She went in for an oil change, but came out with a brand-new car.

Now a Michigan woman is suing the auto dealer, saying it took advantage of her bipolar disorder to sell her the $32,000 vehicle.

Amy Berner tells the Detroit News she suffers from "impulsivity and difficulty in decision-making,'' and the dealer used that to get her to sign a $444 per month lease for a Mazda CX-9.

Berner says she had gone to the dealer for an oil change for her car, which she had bought just six months earlier.

Berner's husband says the dealer agreed to take the car back if it got a doctor's letter detailing Berner's condition. He says the letter was sent, but the dealer delivered the CX-9 anyway, and left the keys in the mailbox.

Suburban Imports of Troy says it can't comment on the suit because it hasn't received any legal papers yet.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


I just found out this week that my one and only staff's OPT visa will run out in June and she won't be able to get a H-1B visa until October. This means that she will be off our payroll in mid-June and need to leave the country by mid-August. Sigh... our only option is to put her on LOA or try to get a work permit in another country. As part of this process, I found out how much it costs for U.S. immigration the legal way.

If we decide to hire a foreign student out of school, they get a one year training work permit (OPT), then they need to get a H-1B visa. The H-1B visa costs around $5,000 and is good for three years; after three years, you can renew for another three years for about the same cost. After the second H-1B visa runs out, you can keep renewing one year at a time as long as you have a pending green card (permanent resident card) application.

If you want to work long-term in the U.S. (i.e., longer than seven years after graduation), then you need to either apply for a green card or marry a U.S. citizen*. The green card application takes 4-6 years, costs about $8,000 and is not guaranteed. The company has to prove that we've tried to recruit locally and the employee is irreplaceable. Well, no one is irreplaceable, especially in finance. Last time I posted a financial analyst opening in, I got 30+ resumes sent to me... all pretty lame though.

Anyhow, if you add up both parallel application processes for H-1B's and the green card, toss in some lawyers, it comes out to about $25,000. Our company is pretty generous since we pay for the whole thing, including legal fees, and HR says that 98% of H-1B visa holders apply for a green card. I know a lot of people that have gone through or are still stuck in this process and they had to pay for everything themselves. I got my green card along with my parents when we moved to the U.S.; I think our immigration application took over seven years while we lived in Canada. The naturalization process I went through in 2005 cost me ~$500 and took almost the entire year. My dad's naturalization application is stuck in limbo for the past two years pending some FBI screw-up.

I guess the major problem I have with this is fairness. On one hand, the government restricts the number of H-1B visas each year and charges an exorbitant fee, and also make the legal immigration process as difficult and expensive as possible. On the other hand, if you break the law and sneak across the border or overstay your visa, people trip over themselves to give you free stuff (healthcare, education, even a green card). I have co-workers that paid a lot of money to attend CSU Fullerton as a legal foreign student and out-of-state friends that also paid a lot to attend UCLA.

Meanwhile, I end up paying 40%+ in taxes so politicians can spend other people's money on "social justice", especially here in the People's Republic of California. If people want to feel better about themselves by helping those "less fortunate", then they should pay extra taxes. I'm already paying thousands of dollars to educate someone else's kids (Leon!).

Sigh... I can't believe I'm up at 4:30am bitching about this.

*BTW, I'm single again and have dual American/Canadian citizenship so take your pick... :)