Thursday, January 31, 2008

MarieBelle Chocolate



We ordered some chocolate from MarieBelle several years ago. I think we only got the 4 piece box (plus some hot chocolate) which cost $12 or $3/piece. Shirley chopped up each one so we only ate 1/4 of a piece at a time; even then it was $0.75 for a tiny piece. The chocolate pieces looked really nice but I don't remember them tasting very different. The blue/brown box was really nice though.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Blizzards hit China


(AP Photo/Color China Photo) CHINA OUT
Chinese passengers with umbrellas wait for their trains amid rain at the square outside the railway station in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong province, late Sunday, Jan. 27, 2008. Hundreds of police and soldiers were trying to control swelling crowds Monday at a train station in southern China, where about 200,000 travelers were stranded by blizzards and ice storms that have created a transportation crisis during the nation's busiest travel time of the year.

Wow! I hope the airports are not that crowded when I go there in three weeks... :(

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sunrise


View of the San Bernardino mountains from John Wayne Airport at ~7:15am

American Airlines Screws Up Again

I'm beginning to think that I'm accumulating miles with the wrong airlines. I just got a call that my flight from SNA to SJC has been cancelled. The flight was scheduled to depart at 6:45am which is less than 7 hours from now. They automatically booked me on the next flight departing at 8:20am... the problem is that I'm meeting Leon at 8:30am in San Jose. After speaking to an agent, who was less than helpful, I was transferred to another agent, but ended up booking a seat on a Southwest Airlines flight. I really don't like the Southwest cattle call boarding "system" but at least they have a flight, for now. I was also counting on my AAdvantage Platinum thingy to get me through security faster but now I have to get in the long line with the unwashed masses... :)

I really think that American Airlines cancelled the flight because they did not fill enough seats. The 2nd agent told me that they got a call from a mechanic that there was something wrong with the plane and they could not find a replacement plane. It appears that they were able to move everyone to the later flight since there are still empty seats.

Out of my 5 flights with American Airlines so far:
- one was delayed by ~30 minutes
- one was delayed by ~1.5 hours
- one was delayed by ~3.5 hours
- one was cancelled less than 7 hours before departure

Maybe I should cancel my returning flight from San Jose with AA and come back on Southwest.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Prosecutors Name Broadcom Co-Founders

Yahoo! Finance
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- Federal prosecutors on Thursday identified Broadcom Corp. co-founders Henry T. Nicholas III and Henry Samueli as "unindicted potential co-conspirators" in an investigation into the illegal backdating of stock options.

The revelation came as former human resources executive Nancy Tullos pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of justice as part of the probe. Tullos struck a deal with prosecutors late last year and agreed to the plea in exchange for her cooperation in the case.

Hmm, I'm not sure what it means to be an "unindicted potential co-conspirator" and why they released their names. If you don't have enough to indict, then don't mention names. Maybe this was meant to put more pressure on Henry and Nick through bad PR.

Later, Nayebi wrote Tullos and Broadcom's shareholder services department, angry that his hire date was listed as May 28, 1999 -- making his stock options $7.37 more expensive per share than the May 25 hire date, the documents state.

Nayebi wrote that he and a high-level executive, who was revealed Thursday to be Nicholas, had an agreement that the options would be granted on May 25 with the lower exercise price, according to court documents.

Broadcom's shareholder services department wrote him back, saying they would not change his hire date, but Tullos intervened, the documents state.

Tullos later learned that Broadcom's options committee granted the engineer 120,000 options on the more advantageous date of May 25. The total difference in price for those shares between the two dates was more than $880,000.

This Nayebi guy is no longer at Broadcom (he was only here for 20 months) but let's do the math. At Broadcom, you vest 1/4 of your initial stock options after one year. Broadcom's stock price on 5/25/1999 was $88.37 ($95.75 on 5/28/99). Assuming he sold all vested option one year later on 5/28/2000, the stock price was $233. However, since there was a 2:1 stock split in February, his option price would be $44.185 and he would have 240,000 options. Multiplying the stock price gain by 60,000 options, it comes out to $11.3M, pre-tax. If he got lucky and sold at the high of ~$274 in August, then it would have been ~$17M.

Sigh... none of this really applies to me since I vested underwater and I couldn't exercise options until 3 years after I was hired.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Teriyaki Sauce



Younha & Epik High

video
비밀번호 486 - Younha
Love Love Love - Epik High

K-pop has the goofiest background dancers. Check out the guy at 3:08 to 3:15 in the video. There is also a lot of lip-syncing in K-pop performances but since they're singing each other's songs, it's all live (Younha forgets some lyrics at 3:20).

Younha is only 19 years old and she has already released 9 singles plus an album in Japan and 2 albums in Korea. She also sings in English... very talented.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Cooking Rice

I can't understand why our cafeteria can't cook steamed rice properly. It's not like they're cooking it over a stove top... they have a huge rice cooker! For some reason, the rice is often semi-cooked so it's hard and crunchy, not fluffy like steamed rice is supposed to be.

I used to cook rice for my old church in Lomita. We would use 4 extra large rice cookers to cook rice for 100+ people and it always came out perfect.

MacBook Air

Wow. I want one.



Counting my work computer and two old laptops sitting in my closet, I have six computers at home. I'll need to get rid of one (or more) before/if I get this.

Jazz Improvisation Class

I didn't know we were supposed to bring our musical instruments to the first class so the instructor made me sing. As part of the class today, he made everyone play (or sing in my case) "solos" using the blues scale in Bb concert. It's much easier playing than trying to sing and hit the right notes in the scale.

I still haven't decided which instrument to use. Bringing the trumpet would be the easiest but it's harder to play and you can't play chords. I would prefer to bring the bass but not sure what to do about amplification. All my equipment is heavy and bulky.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Amazing Race

This used to be one of my favorite shows when I had cable TV. Shirley and I thought about applying to the show. I'm pretty good with maps and directions while she can probably get strangers to help us. Oh well...

I just happened to tune in while flipping channels and the "race" is in Taipei. There are only four teams left and they're supposed to:

- find a tea house and drink a cup of hot tea
- the directions at the bottom of the teacup says to find a clown at a night market
- either light 20 paper hot air balloons or walk up and down a path with sharp rocks barefoot
- go to the pit-stop at CKS Memorial Hall

The team in the lead is a father/daughter couple and they're Chinese! I think that's a huge advantage even though a lot of people in Taipei speak some English. Interestingly, the rock path for the challenge is in Youth Park. When my parents and I went to Taiwan in 2006, we stayed in an apartment across the street from Youth Park. I just heard someone tell one of the teams to take the MRT to Youth Park instead of a taxi since there's traffic. I think that team is screwed since there are no MRT stations close to Youth Park. When we stayed there, we had to take the bus or hail a taxi to get anywhere.

They also still referred to the pit stop location as CKS Memorial Hall instead of the new name, whatever it is. I guess the show was taped last year, before the name change.

Fly - Epik High

video

Epik High - One of the rappers, Tablo (the "thug" in the video), has a Bachelor's degree and Master's degree in English Literature/Creative Writing from Stanford. I wonder if that helped him write lyrics in Korean.

Are there that many Cadillacs in Korea or is it product placement?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Taiwanese = Chinese

My 2nd greatest pet peeve are people who—when asked if they're Chinese—say, "No, I'm Taiwanese." Unless you're from one of the native aboriginal groups, you're ancestors are probably Han Chinese from Guangdong or Fujian province. It's not the Taiwan part that bothers me (I was born there too), but the "not Chinese" comment.

This doesn't mean I support the One-China policy crap. Why would people choose Communism unless they're the ones in power? I actually think that Taiwan should be an independent country, similar to Singapore, which is ~75% Chinese.

BTW, Chen Shui-bian is an idiot.
President Chen Shui-bian said the re-dedicated monument symbolised "opening the door to democracy".

While a 10m-high (33ft) bronze statue of Chiang remains in place its guard of honour has been removed.

Records of victims and milestones on the road to democracy now ring the statue, along with about 300 kites.

"We have turned a hall that was originally a temple at which to worship an authoritarian dictator into a place for Taiwan people to reflect, study and explore the freedoms of democracy and human rights," Mr Chen told a crowd of invited guests.

That is just so wrong, like renaming CKS airport. CKS was no saint but if the Nationalist government did not retreat to Taiwan after WWII, I have no doubt that Taiwan would be a part of PRC today, and the "Taiwanese" people would have had to live through the Cultural Revolution and all that other crazy Mao sh*t.

Friday, January 11, 2008

JACOB & Company Royal Watch

I'm not a big watch guy but this seems kind of excessive:


71.36 ct. total diamond weight (all D - Flawless)

Maybe our CEO can afford it with his bonus...

CEO Bonus

Our CEO is going to get a $325,000 bonus for 2007 while the stock prices has dropped from $32.47 to $26.14 or -20% during the same year.

China blogger beaten to death

CNN Article
(CNN) -- Authorities have fired an official in central China after city inspectors beat to death a man who filmed their confrontation with villagers, China's Xinhua news agency reports.

The killing has sparked outrage in China, with thousands expressing outrage in Chinese Internet chat rooms, often the only outlet for public criticism of the government.

The incident has also alarmed advocates of press freedom, who say municipal authorities had no right to attack a man for simply filming them.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Extreme Drunk Driving

The Smoking Gun Article
JANUARY 10--In what may be the most extreme drunk driving case ever, an Oregon woman was arrested last month with a .72 blood alcohol level--nine times the state's legal limit. Terri Comer, 42, was arrested after she was discovered unconscious in her car, which sheriff's deputies found running and in a snow bank on a highway in Klamath County at 11:30 AM on December 28.

Wow! 0.72 BAC. I tried some BAC calculators online and she would have needed to drink 10 martinis within an hour to get close to 0.72. Most sites also say that anything >0.40 BAC may cause death. I hope she gets help.

Chungking Mansions



I bought the DVD for Chungking Express recently. It is a 1994 HK movie directed by Wong Kar-wai and starts Tony Leung, Faye Wong, and Takeshi Kaneshiro. Last night, as I was ripping the DVD to my iPod, I found out that the "Chunking" part of the title referred to Chunking Mansions in Hong Kong. In the movie, they shot many scenes inside the building but I don't think there were any external shots. When I saw a picture of the building on Wikipedia (above), I thought it looked familiar. It turns out that the hotel we stayed at in 2005, Holiday Inn Golden MIle, was right next door to Chunking Mansions on Nathan Road. I remember as we were walking back to our hotel each night, there would be lots of people hanging around on the sidewalk outside the MTR station, our hotel, and especially Chunking Mansions; it was probably much cooler outside than inside the building. Since we were in Hong Kong, I expected to see mostly Chinese people but surprisingly, most of them looked like they were from SE Asia, India, or Africa, and there were some white people too. From the WIki article, there seems to be lots of cheap "hotel" rooms in Chunking Mansions. We paid ~HK$4,000 for 3 nights, or about US$160/night, at the Holiday Inn. If you look closely at the picture above (not sure when it was taken), you can get rooms from HK$100-300/night or something on the 3rd floor for HK$68/hour!


Building outside our window, opposite side from Chunking Mansions. Looks about the same. I've always wondered why they don't put in central A/C since the summers are crazy hot/humid in Hong Kong and everyone puts in a window/wall A/C unit anyway.

Oh, if anyone wants to see the movie, I can let you borrow the DVD or give you the 715MB AVI file. The only audio available is Mandarin Chinese but it has both traditional Chinese and English subtitles.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

FLY Greener

Cathay Pacific just launched their FLY Greener project that offers passengers the option of buying carbon offsets for their flight. To find out how much, there is a carbon emissions calculator. The calculator does not have Chengdu as a destination so I put in Los Angeles to Hong Kong. For a round trip in economy class, ~2 tonnes of CO2 is emitted; since Chengdu is a bit farther than Hong Kong, the entire trip probably works out to ~2.2 tonnes. To offset this, I can either pay ~HKD150/~USD20 or use 4000 Asia Miles.

I'm all for saving energy but I'm skeptical about carbon offset schemes. I read another article that lots of carbon offset projects are either not implemented, not effective, or just scams... kind of like Al Gore's offsets for his huge house that ended up going to an investment fund that he runs.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Doraemon



A friend in China told me about TVKoo which allows you to watch "TV Channels" online. It's mostly Chinese language news and TV shows; I think it streams from Chengdu. One of the channels is showing cartoon episodes of Doraemon dubbed in Chinese (from CTS in Taiwan). It was originally a Japanese manga that ran from 1969 to 1996. I remember reading the Chinese translated version while growing up in Taiwan (a long time ago). I've been watching the channel on-and-off for about two weeks and I haven't seen any repeat episodes yet; each one is only 5 to 10 minutes. Evidently there are over a thousand episode, not sure if they're all digitized on some server in China.

My friend mostly watches a variety show from Taiwan and WWE. I had to explain that WWE wrestling is not a "real" sport but staged entertainment.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

New Neighbors

Someone moved in downstairs today; the apartment was empty for about two months. It's the first night and they already have loud rock music blasting away. I can hear it from everywhere in my apartment. I guess I won't be shy about practicing my bass then.

NCAA Men's Basketball Rankings

I haven't been following UCLA basketball this season so I'm surprised that they're still ranked pretty high. I'm used to UCLA starting off well then choking mid-season in football and basketball. In fact, there are 5 Pac-10 teams ranked in the AP Top 25 right now (Dec 31).

Washington State #4
UCLA #5
Arizona #21
USC #22
Stanford #24

Not sure why USC is even ranked with a 9-3 record.

==========

Uh-oh, USC lost to Cal this week. So much for their top 25 ranking.

Oil Change + Stuff

I brought my 4Runner in for an oil change after nearly 10k miles. Even thought I got there right at 8am, the dealer (South Coast Toyota in Costa Mesa) told me it would be almost three hours. After about an hour, I get the dreaded "uh, there's more stuff to fix" phone call. The big problem is that a seal is busted on the rear axle and oil is leaking on to the rear brakes. Since a different Toyota dealer told me the same thing 10k miles ago, I figure I'd better fix it this time. In addition, the timing belt has never been changed and I don't think I've ever changed the transmission fluid. All together, the $30 oil changed is now a $900 repair. However, I have about 114k miles on the 4Runner and it still drives really well so I want to keep it for another 100k miles.

==========

Final damage = $1,301

Ease of Doing Business

I stumbled across this website from The World Bank Group that ranks 178 countries on how easy it is to do business there. Not surprisingly, the United States is ranked near the top at #3 and Canada is ranked #7. Out of Chinese-majority countries, Singapore is ranked #1, Hong Kong is #4, Taiwan is #50, and China is #83. To calculate the rankings, they factor in 10 subcategories... pretty interesting stuff.

Since I've been traveling to China and helping out with PMI, I was interested China's ranking. The worst areas were:

• Starting a Business: #135 (US = #4)
• Dealing with Licenses: #175 (US = #24)
• Paying Taxes: #168 (US = #76)

For Dealing with Licenses, the study compared building a warehouse in New York City vs. in Shanghai. In the US, there are 19 procedures which take 40 days to complete. In China, there are 37 procedures and it takes almost an entire year. For taxes, I think the entire country has to file monthly taxes on the 10th or the 11th. PMI's bookkeeper tells me that she has to work like crazy during the 1st week of each month just to get everything done.

I think the only thing in China's favor is the 1.3 billion people that need work, though I hear that Vietnam, Cambodia, and even India has cheaper labor. China's government needs to address all these impediments to doing business before they lose their competitive advantage from lower labor costs.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Thai Snacks

My coworker went back to Thailand during the holidays and brought some snacks back for me. Not sure what is in each one since all the writing is in Thai but they look good. :)



The dates on the package on the left look like expiration dates. I checked the year and it turns out that the "50" = 2550 = 2007, so I have a few month to eat it, whatever "it " is.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Sick

Sigh... I called in sick on the first work day of 2008. I think I got sick Sunday morning at church. The Campus Theater at Fullerton College was freezing that morning. I had a large jacket with me but I took it off since it looked weird playing bass with it on. During the worship set, it felt like they turned on the A/C since there was a cold wind blowing too.