Monday, March 31, 2008

Doomsday Fears Spark Lawsuit

MSNBC Cosmic Log Article


The builders of the world's biggest particle collider are being sued in federal court over fears that the experiment might create globe-gobbling black holes or never-before-seen strains of matter that would destroy the planet.

Representatives at Fermilab in Illinois and at Europe's CERN laboratory, two of the defendants in the case, say there's no chance that the Large Hadron Collider would cause such cosmic catastrophes. Nevertheless, they're bracing to defend themselves in the courtroom as well as the court of public opinion.

I want a mini-black hole. It would make a perfect trash disposal.

Episode 118

This is more addicting than Korean dramas, though I'm finding myself fast-forwarding through episodes more often. The story-telling is slowing down and there are a lot more flashbacks. This probably lets them reuse previously animated scenes and to drag out the storyline.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Episode 60

Arg! There are 220 episodes...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Naruto



I'm hooked! Watched episodes 1-19 (~20 minutes each) on veoh.com until 6am this morning.

Taking Christ out of Christianity

Globe and Mail Article
That triumphal barnburner of an Easter hymn, Jesus Christ Has Risen Today – Hallelujah, this morning will rock the walls of Toronto's West Hill United Church as it will in most Christian churches across the country.

But at West Hill on the faith's holiest day, it will be done with a huge difference. The words “Jesus Christ” will be excised from what the congregation sings and replaced with “Glorious hope.

Thus, it will be hope that is declared to be resurrected – an expression of renewal of optimism and the human spirit – but not Jesus, contrary to Christianity's central tenet about the return to life on Easter morning of the crucified divine son of God.

Generally speaking, no divine anybody makes an appearance in West Hill's Sunday service liturgy.

I really don't get it. Why do they bother to call themselves Christians? They can believe whatever they want but to be a Christian means you are a follower of Jesus Christ. If they don't believe that he is God, they should drop the facade.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More Engrish


In case you recycled something by accident, you can unrecycle it.

Earthquake!


More info from USGS

I thought I felt something. It was a magnitude 3.1 earthquake but since the epicenter was only 3 miles away, it felt pretty big, though not big enough to get my ass off the couch and under a doorway or something.

Digital Cable

I'm not sure how the cable system (Time Warner) works at my apartment. I've only paid for cable modem service but ever since I got the LCD TV with a digital tuner, I've been getting a few stations, including HD. Occasionally, I would let the TV auto-search for channels to see what it can find. On Monday, it came back with a lot more stuff, including analog channels and a whole bunch of pay channels like HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime. Weird. Anyway, it's all gone today so I'm back to my limited, but free, channel lineup. What I really want is the Food Channel and maybe G4TV.

2007 Performance Review

Just got my review today: no promotion (wasn't expecting one), average salary increase, plus a few stock options and RSUs. Maybe I've hit a ceiling and it's time to move on.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

China wants its troops to guard Olympic torch in Australia

News.com.au story
CHINA has told Australia its army should oversee the local leg of the Olympic torch relay amid mounting security concerns.

Chinese officials have asked Australian Federal Police to hand over security to its own forces to ensure protests do not mar the relay when it lands in Australia next month.

The move – which has been rebuffed by the AFP – comes as Beijing reels from an embarrassing relay launch in Greece when human rights activists hijacked the event.

China has responded by radically cutting back its relay legs in cities where it expects more trouble, police sources told The Advertiser.

The U.S. city of San Francisco, with a large expatriate Chinese community and Paris – headquarters of Reporters Sans Frontieres, the group behind the Athens protests – have had their legs of the torch relay cut.

Can you picture it? The People's Liberation Army beating up Australian protesters, in Australia?! Also, does China get to use the torch relay as a political tool? Taiwan is already out; by cutting San Francisco and Paris, the only "Western" city to see the torch is London (and Canberra, maybe).

Speedometer Error

The speedometer in my Z is off by a couple of clicks. Last weekend while driving on the freeway, I noticed that while the speedometer read 80 mph, the GPS was reading between 77-78 mph. Also, Irvine police parked a radar trailer inside our work parking lot for the past two weeks and it reads about 2 mph slower than the speedometer.

There are both an analog and a digital speedometer in the Z. At least they give the same wrong reading. That means when I thought I was driving at 100 mph to get to church, I was only going ~97...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hot Weather

It's only the end of March and the temperature outside is ~30ºC already. I feel the urge to turn on the air conditioner.

Fly Me To The Moon


Album: Live In Paris - Diana Krall


Album: Fly Me To The Moon - Frank Sinatra


OST: Neon Genesis Evangelion


Album: Beautiful World/Kiss & Cry - Utada Hikaru

Friday, March 21, 2008

BMW Films - Star

BMW produced a series of short-films in 2001/2002 as Internet ads. Evidently they were really popular but I just found out about them yesterday on Veoh.com. The films star Clive Owen as The Driver, kind of like The Transporter, and has other big name actors and directors. The video below is Star; it's directed by Guy Ritchie and stars Madonna (no link: we all know who she is).
The Driver is chosen by a spoiled and shallow celebrity to drive her to a venue. Unbeknownst to her, her manager has actually hired the Driver to teach the celebrity a lesson. Pretending to escape her pursuing bodyguards, the Driver recklessly drives through the city, tossing the hapless celebrity all around the backseat. They arrive at the venue, where she is thrown out of the car and photographed by paparazzi in an embarrassing end on the red carpet.

video

I wish I would have seen these earlier. Now I feel like going out and buying a BMW M5... almost. :)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Korean Musical Festival

Aiya, the Korean Musical Festival at the Hollywood Bowl is going to be on May 17th this year. So far, they have some pretty big names performing: Fly to the Sky, SG Wannabe, Wonder Girls, Lee Hyori. Only problem is that I'm probably leaving for Chengdu that night. Oh well... :(


Look like Lee Hyori was at the 2006 concert too

Random Pics of Hong Kong Int'l Airport

















Wednesday, March 19, 2008

More K-pop


한번 더, OK? - CSJH The Grace


Talk Play Love - Anyband


Tell Me - Wonder Girls [live performance]

Uploading Audio Files to Xanga

I started blogging on Xanga five years ago but switched to Blogger because at the time, Blogger let you upload pictures easily. Xanga only lets you link to pictures already uploaded on the web. One thing that's missing from Blogger though is the ability to upload audio files. I just found out that Xanga lets you do a lot more stuff now, including upload audio files that can be embedded elsewhere... woo hoo!

Love Love Love - Epik High (featuring Yoongjin)
[live performance with Younha]

I'll keep blogging here for my 3 readers but will start uploading songs I like to Xanga. If I can access my Xanga page from behind the Great Firewall of China™, which is blocking Blogger, maybe I'll switch back completely.

Tibet "News"

I talked to my friend in Chengdu again about the news from Tibet. She said she heard about the police lockdown in south and west Chengdu. She also said that they were told not to go out at night because they could be attacked or robbed by the local Tibetan population in Chengdu. I told her that was ridiculous but she seemed reluctant to talk more about it. The news out of Tibet has been portrayed as Tibetans rioting to destroy Chinese businesses and all Tibetans in China have been vilified. Of course, there's no mention of the police shooting monks/civilians nor any news about Tibetan deaths. Essentially it's the same lies that the Chinese government is telling everyone but since there's no other news source in China, the domestic population doesn't know otherwise.

I wonder how many people work for the propaganda department in the communist government. Are they all in on the lies? I assume they're all party members. What motivates them to do this day after day? Ideology? Power? Money? Fear?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tibet & Chengdu

Tibetan Neighborhood In Southwest China City Near Lockdown

CHENGDU, China (AFP)--Police on Monday cordoned off the main Tibetan neighborhood in southwest China's Chengdu city, amid citizen reports of a disturbance.

The main avenue and side streets were shut to traffic, while several buses of riot police were parked along the road, an AFP reporter said. The street remained open to pedestrians and cyclists.

Officers, some with sub-machine guns, patrolled the area on foot or cruised in cars and motorcycles, checking anyone trying to drive out of the neighborhood.

Store owners along the avenue near Chengdu's Wuhouci, a Chinese temple, said a disturbance had occurred on Sunday night, but none could provide an eyewitness testimony.

"There was a little revolt last night. The Tibetans turned over an ATM machine and a car," a security guard told AFP, unable to provide further details.

"This is all related to the riots in Tibet because this is a predominantly Tibetan neighborhood," he said.

He was referring to deadly protests that broke out last week in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa against Chinese rule in the Himalayan region, prompting a massive security crackdown there.

China said Monday Tibetan rioters killed 13 people in the Lhasa protests, while insisting it didn't use deadly force in response.

But The India-based Tibetan parliament-in-exile said hundreds of Tibetans had died in the unrest in Lhasa and elsewhere.

A store owner of a mobile phone shop in Chengdu also said there had been a " disturbance on Sunday, but it was over now." She had no further details.

Many locals denied any knowledge of why hundreds of police had been deployed to the primarily Tibetan neighborhood, which occupies several square blocks.

Another resident said the police presence had been much heavier early Monday morning.

A patrolman refused to answer questions, only saying he wasn't sure what had happened. An official at Chengdu police reached by telephone declined to comment.

I usually don't see any police presence in Chengdu when I visit. I asked my friend over there and she hasn't seen anything in the news about the protest/riot in Lhasa. Of course, she doesn't know anything about the Tiananmen Square Massacre either.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day


Wow, it's got to be fake... like a Chappelle's Show skit or somethin' (although there is a NBC 15 in Mobile)

Mahaloha - Yuna Ito

video

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hiking Trip

I went on a hiking trip with a couple of co-workers this morning. I haven't hiked since the NewSong trip to the California Poppy Reserve almost three years ago so I was worried if my hiking boots still fit. I left my only pair of sneakers in China so all I had at home were dress shoes and sandles. We met up at Steve & Sunny's house and ended up at the Laguna Canyon Wilderness Park near the 73 freeway and Laguna Canyon Road.

We took a trail that went around the entire wilderness area and it took a little over two hours. The first part of the trail was a pretty steep climb so I was already tired when we got to the top of the ridge. The trail then flattened out, then looped back to the parking lot. We were worried that it would rain this morning but the weather was pretty nice, though it got a bit cold when the wind picked up.

Near the end of the hike, we were unsure of how to get back to the car; all we had was a hand-drawn trail map. I pulled out my GPS receiver (Garmin nüvi 650) but all it showed was a car in the middle of a large green area. Not sure if I can get topographical maps for a car navigation device.


View from Steve & Sunny's garage in Laguna Beach


James and Rosemary Nix Nature Center


Ear muffs!


Strange spiky fruit


Blue skies


Hiking/biking trail


Cactus


City view


"Mount Rushmore"


Wild flowers + bee in upper right

Thursday, March 13, 2008

New Used Bass

I found an ad for a bass on Craigslist. It's a 5-string Ibanez SR505 with active pickups. I'm going tomorrow to pay and pick it up. The only time I tried to play a 5-string bass, I got all confused and kept messing up... ok, I mess up all the time on my 4-string bass too.


Picture from the ad

Ducks vs. Canucks

I went to another Ducks game last night with Leon and Fred. This time, the free tickets I got were far apart so we got bumped a couple of times trying to sit together. The Ducks came out and scored 4 quick goals so it was 4-1 after the first period and that was the final score. I was able to look across the ice at Henry's luxury box but was too far to recognize anyone.

I talked a little bit with a guy sitting next to me. He was on vacation from Vancouver with his family and decided to watch a game. They were the only Canucks fan in our whole section. He asked me if it was normal to have so many empty seats. I said "Sure!" then we left after the 2nd period to beat traffic... :)


View from our seats in section 431, row N. I had some tickets in row A but they were in different 400 sections.


Girls in lowrider pants shoveling snow. I think I can skate well enough to do this job.


We didn't see any fights... this was just a shoving match


5 on 3 Power Play

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Fossil Watch

Several years ago, Shirley gave me a Fossil chronograph watch. Sometime last year, the watch band broke so I've not been wearing it for about a year. This morning, I took the watch in to the Fossil store at South Coast Plaza to see if they can fix it. To my surprise, they found a pin that fits the wristband, fixed it, and also changed out the dead battery... all for free!

On the downside, I just saw an auction for the exact same watch on eBay; starting bid = $9.99.

Car Keys

A couple of cousins and their friends are here in Los Angeles from Toronto. They're going on a cruise to Mexico and decided to come a few days early to go to Disneyland, etc. Cousin Helen and her son is staying with me and I let her borrow my 4Runner.

Early tonight, I get a frantic phone call from her; she lost my car keys. Also on the same keychain was my house key, a key to the bike rack, and the community gate key to my apartment complex. I can make copies of most of the keys and probably get another gate key from the apartment office (not sure how much it will cost though). The only problem is the remote fob... I probably have to go to a Toyota dealer to get a replacement.

Anyway, since she drove to my other cousin's hotel to carpool today, I had to drive up to LAX to give her the spare set of keys. They're leaving for the cruise ship tomorrow so I have to drive them to San Pedro... lots of driving this weekend. :(

==========

Update: Whew, they found my keys in my cousin's friend's luggage... strange. However, they've already boarded the cruise ship so they'll need to take it back to Canada with them at the end of the cruise and give it to my parents to bring back to LA in April. Convoluted. At least I won't have to spend $100+ on a new remote fob. The apartment manager also gave me a new gate key for free!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Walk the Walk on Emissions


Do as we say, not as we do.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sexual Harassment Training

California law mandates sexual harassment training for managers every two years. While I was in China, I got an email from our legal department that I'm due for another session. Last time, I attended a class on-site and it was a complete waste of time. This time, it's computer based and I'm expecting it to be another complete waste of time.

The program is 247 slides long and there is a timer on each page preventing you from click ahead before the alloted time (52 seconds for the excerpt below). Sigh... it doesn't take me that long to read a paragraph; I guess they're serious about it taking two hours. :(
What is workplace harassment? In simple terms, it's inappropriate conduct based on a legally protected characteristic that's serious enough that it violates the law.

Under federal law, the legally protected characteristics are sex or gender (including pregnancy); race, color, national origin or ancestry; religion; age (over 40); and mental or physical disability. In California, the protected characteristics also include sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, and medical condition.

Later we'll take a closer look at how the law defines workplace harassment. While it's important that you understand harassment laws, you should also understand that your job is not to figure out whether inappropriate conduct actually violates the law, but rather to deal with it before it can.

So in California, if a guy thinks he's a woman, I can't make fun of him at work?!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Jet Lag

It's 5:11am and I'm wide awake. Shouldn't have slept all day yesterday... :(

Blogger Virus Spam

Sigh... I have to turn on comment word verification again due to spam. Before it was just kinda irritating; now the comment spam sends you to fake virus scan sites and hijacks your browser. How do I know it's fake? It was "scanning" Windows XP system files on my Mac.

Military Service, China Style

In China, there is a mandatory one-week military training for all college students during their first year of school. My friend was unfortunate enough to be there before Christmas and took some pictures.


Up early in the morning. There were over 3000 students from just one university (UESTC in Chengdu).


All college students means all students, including girls. Somehow they don't look ready for military duty. They had to pay for their own costumes uniforms too. Taiwan is in no danger if they send these kids to "reunify" One China.


Tear gas demonstration. The funny thing was that once they fired the canister round, the wind shifted and blew the tear gas back towards where all the students were seated.

I'm not sure what the whole point of the exercise. There's no way these students are prepared for anything after only 7 days. There was a lot of standing around watching demonstrations and everyone brought their cell phones and cameras. Since university students are still considered an elite group, maybe it's a way for the communist government to enforce some hardship (only one shower allowed the entire week and no meat at meals), like the good old days during the Cultural Revolution.

Chengdu Trip #4 - Food Pics

Chinese people like to eat so I've been taking pictures of food and food related stuff...


Curry Chicken at a department store cafe. Chinese people don't like white meat so it was mostly thigh meat with a lot of bones. Not too good. The reddish brown stuff at the lower left is the ubiquitous "Szechuan" preserved vegetable that comes with every meal and is available worldwide. I get mine at 99 Ranch Market in Irvine.


Packaged chicken feet... yum, not!


More spicy hot pot ingredients: pig blood cake, beef, and Japanese soft tofu (very weird texture). The dipping sauce was a bowl of oil in which you add minced garlic and cilantro. This is quite different from what I'm used to and made the meal very greasy.


Sushi cart in Wenshu Temple. Since Chengdu is 1000 miles from the ocean, you gotta wonder if the seafood is fresh.


Bowl of spicy rice noodles with pig intestines (RMB4.5)


Liver... not sure from which animal


Strange mushroom and other fungi


Peppers!


"Fresh" seafood... one of the fish is dead and floating upside-down


Dinner on HKG-LAX Cathay flight: tilapia


Breakfast on HKG-LAX flight: pork with rice rolls (they were out of the omelet by the time they got to the back of the bus)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Chengdu Trip #4 - Home

Finally home after two weeks. I've pretty much been up for the past 30 hours traveling from Chengdu back to Costa Mesa. Once again, the worst part of the trip is coming back through US Immigrations in the Bradley terminal. I think we were in line for close to an hour though my turn with the USCIS agent only took 5 seconds. It has never taken me more than 5 minutes to clear Hong Kong immigration as a visitor.


Sunset over the Pacific


Packed... like sardines


My first stop driving back from Leon's house