Friday, December 28, 2007

Lost in Translation

During my trip to Toronto, we went to a Chinese restaurant to have dim sum for lunch. There was a menu/sign over a BBQ take-out window inside the restaurant:



My Chinese is not that great but I'm pretty sure the last item is translated wrong. I think it should say pig intestines instead of pork uteri. Not that either one is appealing to me...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Paris loses out: Hilton fortune pledged to charity

Reuters Article
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. hotel heiress Paris Hilton's potential inheritance dramatically diminished after her grandfather Barron Hilton announced plans on Wednesday to donate 97 percent of his $2.3 billion (1.16 billion pounds) fortune to charity.

3% of $2.3B is still ~$69M. If there are a lot of Hilton heirs, maybe Paris will need to get a real job like the rest of us.

American Airlines Delays

Even though I just got Platinum status for AAdvantage this year, I've never actually flown American Airlines before. The bulk of my miles are from Cathay Pacific (LAX-HKG-CTU) and some from Alaska Airlines (SNA-PDX).

Anyhow, I went to Canada to visit my parents for Christmas. Since I'm flying out of SNA, there are no direct flights to Toronto. Out of the 4 flights I was on (2 each way), 3 were delayed for a total of over 4 hours. On the way back tonight, the flight from Toronto to Chicago didn't pull up to the gate until after the original departure time. By the time we got going, the plane needed to be de-iced which took 15 minutes. Next we needed to get a landing slot time from Chicago and that took another 15 minutes. Originally the flight was scheduled for 4:30pm but we didn't get off the ground until almost 6:00pm. I could have taken the next scheduled flight to Chicago at 5:30pm and got there earlier.

I was getting nervous sitting on the plane since my layover was only 90 minutes and we had used up all that time with delays in Toronto. It didn't help that I was on a tiny plane (Embraer ERJ145) and the window seat got really really cold during the flight. Somehow, the pilot got us to Chicago 30 minutes early though I only had <25 minutes to run across terminal 3. It turned out that the Chicago-Santa Ana flight was late boarding so I didn't miss my flight... I didn't get my 1st class upgrade though :(

I've been flying to Asia quite a bit in the past 2 years on Cathay Pacific, Singapore, Thai Airways, and EVA Air. Other than the lost luggage in August, I have not had any issues. Flying domestic on United, American, and Alaska, I run into flight delays and cancellations all the time. Also, all the female flight attendants on the Asian airlines are uniformly young and cute. The same cannot be said of domestic airlines.


American Eagle Embraer ERJ145

Monday, December 24, 2007

YouTube Copyright Infringement

"This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Asia Plus Broadcasting Limited"

Woohoo, got my first YouTube copyright infringement notice for an A-Mei video pulled off a DVD I bought in Taiwan last year. I think only 3 or 4 people viewed the video. I'm surprised that someone in Asia (probably) spent time reporting me to YouTube. The flash video format used by YouTube is crappy so I'm pretty sure the likely financial impact of all this is = $0.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

All-you-can-eat Hot Pot

For dinner, my parents took us to an all-you-can-eat hot pot place where you get your own mini-pot to cook your food. I think the name of the place is I Cook Buffet, somewhere way out in Markham (45 minute drive from Oakville). In Los Angeles, we have all-you-can-eat hot pot places in Monterey Park but you share a pot with your "friends"; I usually get sick afterwards. :(


Each person gets their own pot. You can choose the type of soup stock you want, from simple chicken broth to more exotic and spicy choices. All of us got chicken broth.


There were probably >50 items in a large refrigerator against the wall. Top shelf were different types of seafood "balls" such as lobster, shrimp, cuttlefish, pork (I know pork is not seafood), etc. The middle shelf had tofu type stuff and there was mostly vegetables on the bottom. The brown cubes near the bottom right are blood jelly, right next to the ox tripe.


More choices... there were different types of thinly sliced meat (beef, pork, lamb, chicken) and fresh seafood (shrimps, mussel). They even had luncheon meat, though I've never seen anyone put that into their hot-pot.


Most import part of eating hot-pot is the dipping sauce. Here is one-half of the sauce mixing station. I'm not that adventurous; I usually just mix soy sauce and sesame oil with some cilantro and minced garlic. Other people mix in a raw egg along with all kinds of chili (notice the chili oil container is almost empty).

I think the price is CDN$15 per person which is comparable to most seafood buffets. I like the fact that you get your own pot so no one contaminates the soup with blood jelly or something gross.

White Christmas!


Backyard of my parent's house in Oakville this morning

Vending Machines

I saw a couple of vending machines in DFW airport selling expensive electronics items. It's probably common elsewhere but I've never seen them before.


Motorola kiosk selling phones and Bluetooth headsets


iPod vending machine

I didn't check prices but if it's like airport food, it's probably really expensive. I read somewhere that in Japan, you can buy adult magazines and pre-worn woman's underwear from vending machines.

Friday, December 21, 2007

SNA to DFW to YYZ

Total trip took about 13+ hours from the taxi ride to John Wayne at 5:45am (Pacific Time) to arriving at my parent's house in Oakville at 10:00pm (Eastern Time). In between, there was a two hour delay at Dallas/Fort Worth, about an hour delay waiting for luggage at Toronto, and 30 minutes waiting for our rental car at Avis.

John Wayne was surprisingly busy this morning. The road inside the airport was packed; it took 5 minutes to drive from the parking lot entrance to the terminal. I did manage to bypass the long check-in line since I had elite status with American Airlines. I think the airlines must be making money since every flight I've been on lately has been fully booked (LAX to HKG, SNA to PDX, etc.)

I met up with my sister, Rebecca, and Addison in Dallas. Our flight was supposed to leave at 2:00pm but we didn't get off the ground until close to 4:30pm. I did find out that if a flight is late by more than 2 hours, the flight plan gets canceled. This meant we had to sit an extra 15 minutes on the runway as they filed a new flight plan with Toronto air traffic control. Don't they have computers or something to automate this?

Finally, it took us forever to get out of Toronto Airport. Clearing customs was easy but then we waited about an hour for our luggage. The conveyor must have started and stopped about 3 or 4 times before the luggage appeared. I guess I should be glad we made it at all since it's Christmas travel season. Walking around DFW airport, there seemed to be people on standby on almost every flight.

If I was flying to Hong Kong, I would still be on the plane after 13 hours. :(


Flight delay... the 3:10PM later changed to 3:45PM


Some clowns at DFW airport


Brrr... these Canadians must be crazy to live in a place like this

Fast DSL?

I'm hanging out at my parent's house for Christmas. First thing I noticed is that they have a new DSL modem/gateway from 2Wire. I just checked the connection speed (www.dslreports.com) to New York and it was ~5Mbits. I thought DSL speed was a lot slower than cable modem; I guess that's not the case anymore. I get about ~10Mbits but that's the fastest cable modem service Time Warner offers.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

New A-Mei Music Video


如果你 也 {聽說}

I bought this CD (Star) in Chengdu last month for RMB40 (~$5.40) in a supermarket. It looked real—there was a hologram EMI sticker—but those can be faked too.

突然發現站了好久 不知道要往哪走
還不想回家的我 再多人陪只會更寂寞
許多話題關於我 就連我也有聽過
我的快樂要被認可 委屈卻沒有人訴說
夜把心洋蔥般剝落 拿掉防衛剩下什麼
為什麼脆弱時候 想你更多

如果你也聽說 有沒有想過我
像普通舊朋友 還是你依然會心疼我
好多好多的話想對你說 懸著一顆心沒著落
要怎麼附和 捨不得 又無可奈何

如果你也聽說 會不會相信我
對流言會附和 還是你知道我還是我
跌跌撞撞才明白了許多 懂我的人就你一個
想到你想起我 胸口依然溫熱

許多話題關於我 就連我也有聽過
我想我寧可都沉默 其實反而顯得做作
夜把心洋蔥般剝落 拿掉防衛剩下什麼
為什麼脆弱時候 想你更多

如果你也聽說 有沒有想過我
像普通舊朋友 還是你依然會心疼我
好多好多的話想對你說 懸著一顆心沒著落
要怎麼附和 捨不得 又無可奈何

如果你也聽說 會不會相信我
對流言會附和 還是你知道我還是我
跌跌撞撞才明白了許多 懂我的人就你一個
想到你想起我 胸口依然溫熱

如果你也聽說 有沒有想過我
像普通舊朋友 還是你依然會心疼我
跌跌撞撞才明白了許多 懂我的人就你一個
想到你想起我 胸口依然溫熱
如果你想起我 你會想到什麼

Diablo II

I've been playing Diablo II again. I bought the game a long time ago to play online with Elim, a friend from CCCSB.


Normally the screen looks like this...


For some reason, the screen went crazy a few days ago. I've never seen this before... I thought it was a sign that I was playing too much. :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fantasy Football Playoffs

I have both Tom Brady and Tony Romo on my fantasy league. For the regular season, Brady carried me to first place with an 11-3 record. However, both of them choked this week and just like that, I'm out of the playoffs. At least I doubled my money by winning my division.

In the other money league, I placed 7th out of 14.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Career Development

One of my co-workers just turned in his letter of resignation after working 7 years at Broadcom. We have a very similar background: born in Taiwan, ex-engineer, USC MBA, finance, NewSong Church. I think it's due a combination of burning out during the past few months and lack of confidence with the new finance management. I've had similar thoughts except my current job is not that hard so no burn-out yet.

During his time off, he expressed interest in a mission trip to China so I hooked him up with PESI. It's the same organization that coordinate my 2-week teaching trip to Beijing back in 1997.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Siblings

Growing up in Taiwan and the West, you take certain things for granted, like having siblings. I had this conversation in China:

Them - I'm going to visit my older sister (姐姐) in Shanghai and hang out with my younger sister (妹妹). Also, my brother (弟弟) just had a baby.

Me - Oh, how many siblings do you have?

Them - [pause] Uh, none.

Me - But you just said sister/brother...

Them - I meant cousins. No one has actual brothers and sisters, unless you're from a rich family and can afford the fine.

I had completely forgotten about the "One Child Policy" which was implemented in 1979. It may have looked good on paper, but has resulted in forced abortions and sterilization in some areas. In the cities, if you have money, you can either pay a fine for additional children or bribe local officials. Also, since we're talking about Chinese people, if you can only have one child, you'd better make sure it's a boy. In some places, the boy/girl ratio is as high as 140:100. It's going to be harder and harder for them to find wives when they grow up. Good thing there are not a lot of white guys in China, unlike UCLA. :)

Another problem is that an entire generation in China has grown up without experiencing the sibling relationship. Almost everyone I know has siblings and I can't imagine growing up without my sister and extended family. Following the policy, the next generation in China won't even have uncles/aunts and cousins.

[snip]

Monday, December 10, 2007

One Tire

Stopped by America's Tire this morning and they said I only need to replace one tire. Even after 20k miles, the treads are still good on the other front tire. Total cost for the one tire is ~$200. That's a lot cheaper than replacing both rear tires last time. Now I have to find someone to deal with the busted bumper/air dam.

Special Christmas Song

video

Special song from church this morning; singers are Caroline Park and Michael Washington. I took the video with my digital camera during 2nd service. The sound recording is not that great, although you can read the text from the projector screen. It was really quite good live.

==========

Welcome NOC CAMers. Sorry for the poor audio/video quality. I only had my digital still camera with me. This version also has gone through 2 conversions to reduce size and change format. I have the original QuickTime MOV file (115MB) if anyone is interested. The quality is not much better though...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Misc Treo Pics


Breakfast at Jinghu Hotel in Chengdu... at least we didn't have to pay extra for it. During August, in 95 degree weather, when I needed a cold beverage, the soybean milk was really hot. This time in November, where it's only 50 degrees outside, the soybean milk was barely lukewarm. Sigh.


Christmas tree on the executive floor at work


Another 350 Z on the freeway. Not sure why it has an ugly flat black paint job. It also has huge rear tires but has the stock skinny ones up front. Maybe it's still work in progress.

Violin Recital

This afternoon, I helped out at a coworker's son's violin recital. Her husband went out and bought a digital mixer with built in HDD and some nice microphones just for this. I probably could have put together a system with unused equipment at church. I helped him set up the two microphones and sound check the trim levels.



It was just him and an accompanist on piano. I think it was his first recital so it was pretty good (some intonation and rhythm issues). He had two huge music stands with pages and pages of sheet music taped together. I thought soloists had to memorize their music for recitals?

The worst part was that I am still a bit jet-lagged. I had to get up this morning at 6am for NewSong sound and ended up dealing with a flat tire (see below). The recital didn't start until 3pm and I was having problems staying awake. Since I was sitting near the front, I didn't want people to see me close my eyes for too long, or even worse, nod off and slam my head into the mixing board.

Another Flat Tire

The front right tire on the Z went flat this morning while I was driving on the I-5. By the time I pulled off the freeway in Santa Ana, the tire had come off the rim and was smoking.



These are the 2nd set of front tires on the Z. The original set were replaced when Nissan had to admit to an alignment problem which wore out the front tires prematurely. Since there's almost 20k miles on this set, I should replace both front tires: Bridgestone Potenza RE040 225/50/P17. Last time I had to replace both rear tires, it ended up costing over $500.



Even worse, I think the flopping tire ripped off a plastic shield on the inside of the fender, exposing a fluid reservoir and some wires. The bottom edge of the airdam is flayed so I should replace that as well... probably end up costing me another $800. The car is fun to drive but not cheap to maintain. :(

Irvine Sunset


From work parking lot at ~5:20pm

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Engrish

Saw this at a Chinese supermarket in Chengdu (it's a plastic cup)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Bacon!

Speaking of food, I just had 3 slices of crispy bacon plus scrambled eggs and hash browns from the cafeteria. Despite all the Chinese food I had last week, sometimes you just need to get some bacon.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sichuan Food

Just about every dish I've eaten in Chengdu is spicy. Not just a bit spicy for flavor but burn your tongue off spicy.


In Chengdu, as in most Asian cities I've been to, the streets are lined with small eateries. This one only had eight tables. For RMB27, we had three dishes + a bucket of rice.

Stock Option Backdating

Wow!
November 30 2007: 6:59 PM EST

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- A former executive at chip-maker Broadcom will plead guilty to obstruction of justice and cooperate in a federal probe of company stock option grants, the U.S. attorney's office said Friday.

Former Vice President of Human Resources Nancy Tullos, 56, was charged with instructing a subordinate to delete an e-mail that contained evidence of stock-option backdating by Broadcom senior executives and board members.

The plea agreement and details about the charge were filed Friday in U.S. District Court.

Tullos was scheduled for arraignment on Monday, but her sentencing is not expected soon. She could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

10 years! I wonder how long Nick will go to jail if found guilty.

Paid Lounge

Unlike Leon, I don't have enough miles to get into Cathay's lounge in Hong Kong. Since I have a ~6 hour layover, I decided to use the pay lounge so I don't hurt my back sitting in the cheap gate seats. It costs HK$350 for 5 hours of lounge use, including a 2 hour nap or 15 minute massage; I went with the nap which is scheduled to begin in 20 minutes. It's pretty similar to the Cathay business class lounge with couches and a buffet, including a noodle bar. I was going to take the train to Central Hong Kong (HK$100 each way) but figured I couldn't get up to Victoria Peak and back to the airport in time.


From 2005. One of these days I'll get a clear picture of HK from Victoria Peak.