Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Run For Your Life

It looks like this Koda Kumi video was shot in LA. Then why does the girl say, "We've been already at your house!" at 44 seconds into the video? Can't they find somebody that speaks English in LA?!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Trumpet Fanfare

Tonight was the first concert at the IVC Performing Arts Center. First on the program was a trumpet fanfare piece for about 50 trumpets. One trumpet can be plenty loud; 50+ trumpets is ridiculous. I'm not sure how it sounded overall since I was standing with 10+ trumpet players playing the same part; there were 5 parts in total. The group ranged from high school students to retirees to professional musicians. We were told to instruct any audience sitting directly in front of us to cover their ears.

Backstage before the performance. The conductor was about to take a picture with his cell phone before I handed him my camera.

The Performing Arts Center. What a lovely shade of red.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Late for church

I was running a bit late this morning. We were supposed to meet at 7:20am but I didn't leave the apartment until 7:00am. I was driving the Z at about 95mph on the 55 freeway when a(n?) Acrua TL blows by me. I thought, "Wow! That guy must be really late for church!" I didn't want to drive >100mph so I lost him by the time I got to the 57 freeway.

It turns out it was our keyboard player.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

LEGO Mindstorms NXT

The mail room delivered my Christmas gift today. I quickly went home and opened the box, install the software on my Mac, and tried to build the demo machine. This is different from the LEGO blocks I had when growing up. I just had a box of blocks that I built random things with. Nowadays, LEGO pieces are all pretty unique and there are long instructions for each build. Actually, the instruction booklets are very similar to those from another Scandinavian company, one that sells a lot of cheap furniture.

This was what I started with in the Start Here! box. The goal is to build a three wheeled vehicle and run a demo program in the NXT controller, which is a 32-bit ARM7 microprocessor.

After about 30 minutes, I completed this. At least I think I completed it since there were three pieces left. Arg! It's exactly like putting together IKEA furniture. It did work though. Taking it apart afterwards is about as difficult as putting it together. A lot of the connector parts were very small yet fit very tightly.

Here are the remaining pieces in the kit along with 4 physical sensors (touch, sound, light, and ultrasound/distance). I haven't tried out the software yet but it seemed to install fine on my Mac. I'm using my Mac since there is Bluetooth connectivity in the NXT controller unit an only my Mac has a Bluetooth module (from CSR though).

Wind Symphony Rehearsal

Irvine Valley College cancelled classes yesterday due to the wildfires but we still had to attend rehearsal. Grand opening concert for the new performing arts center is next Tuesday and I don't think we're 100% ready, especially me. We have another rehearsal this Saturday to go over the physical transition between the choir and the wind symphony. Then there's one more rehearsal Monday night with 50 trumpets for a trumpet fanfare piece.

We did get to rehearse in the new hall however. The actual main stage is a lot smaller than I thought it would be. The building itself is pretty big, much bigger than the Irvine Barclay Theater but there are a lot more rooms at the side and back. The wind symphony barely fits onstage and there are very few seats in the audience. The rehearsal was three hours long; when I got back to my car in the parking lot, there was a new layer of ash.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

SoCal Fires

Our CEO sent out an email about the fires this afternoon. The fire got within a block of our San Diego (Rancho Bernardo) office and our old campus in Irvine, occupied by Blizzard now, was also threatened. In addition, several employee's houses were burnt to the ground.

I took some pictures yesterday morning from work. You can see where the smoke started to block out the blue sky. By yesterday evening, the whole sky was filled with smoke. The fire situation is a bit better in Orange County today but a lot worse in Los Angeles and San Diego counties.

Looking NE from the parking lot

Looking W from the parking lot

Looking W from 4th floor conference room. You can barely see a Southwest jet landing at John Wayne airport from the south. Usually they land from the north but the Santa Ana winds were blowing towards the ocean.

Looking N from another 4th floor conference room

Easy come... Easy go

All the gains in Broadcom stock in the past few weeks got wiped out in a couple hours. It's times like these when I don't like working in corporate finance, i.e., subject to trading blackout periods.

With ~600M shares outstanding, that's more than $3B that got wiped off our market cap.


Arg! It got worse today (10/24/07 11:05am). Now we're trading at ~$33, down almost $10 from the high yesterday.

Fire: NASA Satellite Image

NASA satellites continue to capture remarkable new images of the wildfires raging in Southern California. At least 14 massive fires are reported to have scorched about 425 square miles from north of Los Angeles to southeast of San Diego.

These latest images, captured by NASA satellites on the afternoon of October 22, show the thick, billowing smoke coming off the numerous large fires and spreading over the Pacific Ocean. Fire activity is outlined in red.

Dry, drought-stricken vegetation and Santa Ana winds, which can reach hurricane speeds, have contributed to the devastating effect of these blazes. The National Interagency Fire Center reports that the Santa Ana winds are expected to continue through Wednesday.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Christmas Gift

I just bought this for myself for Christmas... $250 from

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Earth, Wind and Fire

No, not the music group. Today has been a bad weather day. The Santa Ana winds started picking up around noon. Everything was fine this morning but by the 2nd service, the wind started blowing over the tents we set up for church. There was a lot of dust in the air and everything was a bit hazy... kind of reminded me of Chengdu.

Due to the wind and dry weather, there are several fires burning. The news is showing a large fire in Canyon Country which is around Santa Clarita. I also heard from someone at church that two out of three border crossings with Mexico was closed due to fire; it took him 5 hours to get across. Finally, there is a fire north of Irvine that's burned 3,800 acres. This is actually quite close to home and the air is thick with smoke and ash. The wind is supposed to continue until Tuesday.

The weird thing with Santa Ana winds is that it will gust up to 60 miles/hour in a narrow corridor. We get some of it in Costa Mesa but it actually follows the 5 freeway in a northwest direction. I talked to Leon earlier tonight and there has been no wind in Torrance.

Friday, October 19, 2007

USC MBA Interviews

Out of the 15 resumes we received, the list was narrowed down to 8 and I ended interviewing all of them yesterday. Out of the 8, I decided to call 3 of them back for 2nd round interviews where they will talk with 6 more people. I've been doing this for about 3-4 years now and it still is hard to choose candidates. I've been asked to go back to USC for three more events. It's a long drive from Irvine but I get $40 in mileage reimbursement each time... :)

While I was in school, I used to hate my classmates that would have multiple offers already, yet still interview with the same companies that I signed up for, effectively blocking me (and others) out of job offers. Of course, I didn't interview that well; I probably did all the things I tell people not to do when they interview. We knew that during an interview, it's not what you know but how you interact with the recruiter. At the time, I thought that was lame. Give me a computer and I'll show you the Excel models I built! Boy, was I stupid.

I often joke with my interview buddy, another senior finance manager with a MBA from USC, that we probably would not get any jobs at Broadcom if we interviewed today.

Clinton Fundraising

First Norman Hsu, now this:

Los Angeles Times article
NEW YORK -- Something remarkable happened at 44 Henry St., a grimy Chinatown tenement with peeling walls. It also happened nearby at a dimly lighted apartment building with trash bins clustered by the front door.

And again not too far away, at 88 E. Broadway beneath the Manhattan bridge, where vendors chatter in Mandarin and Fujianese as they hawk rubber sandals and bargain-basement clothes.

All three locations, along with scores of others scattered throughout some of the poorest Chinese neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, have been swept by an extraordinary impulse to shower money on one particular presidential candidate -- Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Dishwashers, waiters and others whose jobs and dilapidated home addresses seem to make them unpromising targets for political fundraisers are pouring $1,000 and $2,000 contributions into Clinton's campaign treasury. In April, a single fundraiser in an area long known for its gritty urban poverty yielded a whopping $380,000. When Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) ran for president in 2004, he received $24,000 from Chinatown.

Poor Chinese immigrants don't give money to politicians. Something is fishy...

Money. Every two weeks I get mugged on my paycheck by politicians. This progressive tax rate stuff does not make any sense to me. Fine, I'll pay more taxes if I make more money but why should I pay a larger percentage as my salary increases? Why not a progressive sales tax? Pay 5% tax on your burger, 10% tax on a computer, and 20% tax on a car. How stupid would that be yet that's what we do on payroll taxes.

As I keep telling Leon, "Quick, send your kids to public school. I'm paying for somebody else's kids to go to school with my state taxes; may as well be your kids."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Long day tomorrow...

I'm interviewing 8 MBA students tomorrow at USC. My interview partner just called to cancel so I'll have to do all 8 by myself. I had originally planned to have him do the last three in the afternoon so I can call in to a meeting at work. I guess I won't be able to attend the exciting allocations meeting. :)

Each interview is 45 minutes so that's 6 hours total; maybe I can cut each one short and take short naps in between. I'll probably be so tired by the end that I won't even hear what the candidate says. Never interview last on the schedule!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fantasy Football - Week 6

I'm in a strange situation where I'm rooting against one of my players, Plaxico Burress on the Giants. He is on my team in a league that I've already won for this week but on the opposing team in two other leagues. I'm leading by a very slim margin in those two leagues. If he doesn't play, then I'm 3-0 this week; if he does play, them I'll probably be 1-2.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Somewhere in China...

My parents are on a tour in China with a group from Canada. They sent me their itinerary a few weeks ago but they didn't call me or my sister before leaving. There was no answer when we both tried calling their house on Monday; later I figured out that the dates on the itinerary are local dates so they actually left on Sunday.

Anyhow, I called their hotel in Chengdu this morning and managed to get a room number. Of course, it was the wrong room but at least I reached someone in their tour group. Maybe I'll try again when they get to their next hotel; there are 13 hotel on the itinerary.

They should be heading to Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝) today. I hope they're flying there since it's a 10 hour bus ride.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

More Church

Today was a crazy day at church. I was scheduled to play bass so I showed up at 7:30am. There's always a chance that the staff at Wilshire Theater won't show up Sunday morning and it happened today. In addition, there is a production of Julius Caesar that's ongoing so there is a huge set blocking half the stage and the sound board/inputs are all messed up. It took us until 9:15am to finish setting up; we didn't get a chance to run through any of the songs.

What's worse, someone stole one of the 18" drivers out of our left subwoofer. They didn't take the entire subwoofer; they removed the grill, unscrewed one of the speaker cones, and replaced the grill! Like we weren't going to notice a 18" hole in the subwoofer. Since low frequency sound waves are omnidirectional, I don't think any can tell the difference between 3 and 4 18" speakers. Anyway, now I need to go source a replacement.

Monday, October 1, 2007


I went to church yesterday and did nothing. Usually I'm helping with the sound board or playing bass but I had a break this week. It's a different feeling to go and have no responsibilities.