Saturday, February 28, 2009

Train Ride

Living on the West Coast, there's not much opportunity to take the train for travel. I have taken Metrolink to work before but that's only ~30 minutes. I don't think I've been on a long train ride ever. Since cities are so far apart, everyone either drives for short trips or fly for longer trips. I did check with Amtrak for trains from Los Angeles to Portland, The entire trip takes ~30 hours and the fare is ~$100 for a single seat; for an additional $200, you can get a roomette that seats up to 2 people. So if I'm traveling with someone, it costs ~$200/person (one-way) for sleeper seats. I think it takes so long to travel the ~900 miles because there are 22 stops from Los Angeles Union Station to Portland.

Looking online, I found some train schedules for China. Specifically, train number T8 which departs Chengdu and arrives in Beijing after ~25 hours; total distance traveled is ~2000 km or about 1200 miles. Fares for the soft sleeper (4 to a room) is ~$100. A flight back to Chengdu from Beijing only takes <3 hours and costs $150. That sounds like an interesting trip and a good way to see the Chinese countryside. Maybe I'll plan that into my next trip to China.

I'll need to make sure that I have a reserved seat.


I found this website where they try to match up people learning new languages with native speakers. In your profile, you select what languages you are learning as well as any languages with native- speaker fluency. You can then search the database for members who can help you learn and vice versa. In addition, you need to have a Skype account since the goal is to match up with a partner and practice over voice chat. I signed up and my profile says I'm learning Korean. In return, I claim native-speaker fluency in Mandarin(!) and English. Searching the database, I noticed the largest group are Mandarin speakers looking to learn English.

Anyway, early this morning at 5am, I got a Skype call from someone with a Korean name. I checked Mixxer and it's someone that just created a profile on the website. I'm a bit wary about calling him back since my Korean is so lame (hello, thank you, goodbye) that we'll probably have to speak English the whole time. Hmm, I hope he's looking to learn English and not Mandarin. I was going to put that I need to practice Mandarin but I should probably just talk to my parents or Leon for that.

Tibetan monk 'shot' while on fire

Chinese communist government efficiency in action... if someone wants to set themselves on fire, let's just shoot them to speed things up. I wonder if they put out the fire after shooting the protester.

BBC News (and Leon)
A Tibetan monk has been shot after setting fire to himself during a protest at Beijing's rule, reports say.

The incident happened in the Tibetan-populated town of Aba in southwest China's Sichuan province during a gathering of more than 1,000 monks.

The monk, named Tapey, is said to have shouted slogans and waved a Tibetan flag, then doused himself with petrol and set himself alight.

Campaign groups said witnesses then saw Chinese police shoot the man.

I am saddened by the news. Governments and dynasties come and go. The more hard-line and dictatorial it is, the more violent the eventual transition.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Food and Drink Chengdu

I found a blog that posts about food places in Chengdu. In the past, I either have lunch at an expensive restaurant courtesy of one of our vendors or at some hole-in-the-wall with PMI people. Since the kitchen is set up at the new factory, lunch has been at work in the cafeteria. For dinner, we usually just find some local place. I really want to try some different places but I don't eat spicy (too much) so that limits my choices.

Post #888

The previous post was #888 on this blog. The number 8 is supposed to be lucky for Chinese people; I guess it didn't work out that way for the people in the story.

Another 100 or so K-pop songs and I'm at 1000 posts!

Chinese set themselves on fire

BBC News
Three people have set themselves on fire in the Chinese capital, Beijing, state media says.

The group were in a car at a busy intersection in a shopping area near Tiananmen Square when they set themselves alight.

Police said the men had come to the capital with "personal grievances".

There have been a number of self-immolation incidents in Beijing in recent years. Most involve petitioners angry with the government.

The article doesn't say why these people are protesting but chances are high that it involves corruption or abuse at the local government level. They must be desperate or crazy to consider self-immolation. China has a lot of people so there are probably a lot that need mental health services. However, since the rule of law is capricious and less than 1% of petitioners are actually heard (usually they just detain the petitioners and send them back home), I can understand the desperation. Petitioning the government in Beijing (if you can actually get there) is regarded as a last resort.
Since the suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989, Tiananmen Square has become a known venue for protest and its traffic is closely watched by the police.

Normally, soldiers are placed inside the square with fire extinguishers by their feet - in order to stop any intruders from setting themselves on fire, our correspondent adds.

Wow. I did see lot of cameras in Tiananmen Square but no solders or police with fire extinguishers. I wish they would address the root cause of issues (corrupt officials and police abuse) instead of just focusing on putting out fires (literally) and preventing protests/saving face. It's so lame that local officials are rewarded for blocking petitioners from reaching Beijing versus actually solving problems.

Tiananmen Square cameras: 大哥 is watching...

Just A Feeling

This is old school K-pop by S.E.S, probably the first famous all-girl Korean group. I think this is the first K-pop song I heard. Somehow I downloaded a copy of S.E.S's fifth album and this was the first track. I'm going to try and memorize the lyrics for noraebang.
Just A Feeling

Just a feeling 느낀 그대로 말해
Think about it 주저하지 마
Just be waiting 이젠 준비가 됐어
너를 내게 줘 내가 갖겠어

처음부터 다 날 보여줄 순 없지
신비스런 분위기로 Oh yeah
호기심을 자극하는 것도 괜찮아
궁금해 미칠 것만큼
결국 너는 내게 오게 될 거야
원한다면 내길 걸어도 좋아
한 걸음씩 조금 더 네게로 다가가
널 차지하고 말 거야

Just a feeling 느낀 그대로 말해
Think about it 주저하지 마
Just be waiting 이젠 준비가 됐어
너를 내게 줘 내가 갖겠어

Just a feeling
Think about it
이런 나도 맘이 편한 게 아냐
혹시라도 네가 돌아설까 봐
그만 내게 말해줘
나를 사랑한다고 기다리고 있잖아

Just a feeling 느낀 그대로 말해
Think about it 주저하지 마
Just be waiting 이젠 준비가 됐어
너를 내게 줘 내가 갖겠어

Just a feeling 오직 너만을 원하는 나의
Think about it 주저하지 마
Just be waiting 이젠 준비가 됐어
너를 내게 줘 내가 갖겠어
Just a feeling
That's what I can show you

Music Video

SNSD live performance


Dang it. I transcribed the lyrics from the SNSD video and it's missing an entire verse. Sigh... there are more "words" to this song than I thought, probably too many for me to memorize for noraebang. Maybe I'll stick to English songs.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Internet Problems

Strange... I can't seem to connect to any websites on either my PC or my Mac. However, I am still able to connect and make calls on Skype. I think the DNS server that Time Warner uses is offline so I can only connect to web servers using IP addresses. Right now I'm connected to the VPN at work using my PC which has the IP addresses. The VPN software on my Mac only has URL names so it's not working. Skype must also store IP addresses since Windows Live Messenger is not working.

I was bidding on something on eBay when my connection died. I hope I didn't get outbid at the last second.

Sound Equipment Geek

A lot of K-pop groups performed at the Incheon show, including SNSD (Girls' Generation). Looking at the video, I noticed they were using the newest Shure UHF-R wireless handheld transmitters with Beta 87 microphones. We have the previous UHF system at NewSong and the stuff is crazy expensive. One UHF-R/Beta 87 transmitter/receiver set is ~$3,600 list. Even if you buy it online, it still costs almost $3,000. Since there are 9 members in SNSD, the microphones costs ~$25k. If they also use wireless in-ear monitors (IEM), then it's another $2,000 per set for the Shure PSM700. I don't know prices for lighting equipment but for just for sound, it probably takes several hundred thousands of dollars of equipment for each concert/show.

Also, I notice that when they're promoting their singles, these K-pop groups are performing almost every day. There are three large TV networks and each has a weekly music performance show (SBS Inkigayo, KBS Music Bank, MBC Music Core). They're also on radio programs, variety shows, and other performances. It's no wonder you read artists collapsing from exhaustion during performances in Korean news media.


In response to the comment, here are some SNSD concert performance video snapshots:

Everyone has a wireless microphone

Close-up shot of the microphone. You can tell from the antenna at the base of the handheld transmitter and the shape/color of the mic head that it's a Shure UHF-R + Beta 87 A/C.

If you look closely, the girl in the back (Taeyeon) has in-ear headsets on (they look like Shure E3's). You can also see the wireless IEM receivers in their back pockets. It does appear that not all of them have IEM's. Depending on the stage setup, sometimes I don't use them if I can hear everything through the house speakers, or just use one ear so I can hear my own bass amp.

What else would I be looking at if not the sound equipment? :)

How, Part II

Since the last post was me whining about taxes again, here's more K-pop.

I finished typing the lyrics to 어쩌다 (How) by the Brown Eyed Girls song from a live performance. The subtitled lyrics were done with a large font so it was easy to read.

어쩌다 어쩌다 어쩌다
널 사랑하게 됐는지 내가 왜 이 꼴이 됐는지
어쩌다 어쩌다 어쩌다
내 맘 다 타버렸는지 내가 이런 바보였는지

이거 참 이럴 줄은 몰랐어
오늘도 난 지쳐 너만 기다리다
너 때문에 눈물 쏙 뺀 여자들
그 중의 하나가 되기는 싫었어

너를 바라보다 아차 싶었어
다잡았던 내 맘 놓치고 말았어
그런 나를 부르면 Oh My Honey
일분일초 만에 네 앞에 있는 나

너무 멋진 멋진 그대
널 바라보면 어질어질해
너무 나쁜 나쁜 그대
다 모르는 척 웃고만 있네 (Baby)

어쩌다 어쩌다 어쩌다
널 사랑하게 됐는지 내가 왜 이 꼴이 됐는지
어쩌다 어쩌다 어쩌다
내 맘 다 타버렸는지 내가 이런 바보였는지

아무렇지 않은 적해도 네게는 다 보이겠지 난
유명했어 까칠 도도 이런 내가 변해 너로 인해
고로 나를 도로 돌려놔 줘 나를 봐줘 Red Alert
너와 있으면 왜 이럴까 심장이 벚어

끝이 뻔히 보이는 께임이야
나를 모두 말려 네 말만 나오면
그래도 난 어쩔 수가 없잖아
너만 생각하면 입가엔 미소만

하루 하루 고민소민 해봐도
어의 속을 몰라 깜깜한 밤이야
나만 보고 말해줘 Oh My Darling
지겹지도 않니 그 많은 여자들

너무 멋진 멋진 그대
널 바라볼 뗀 어질어질해 우
너무 나쁜 나쁜 그대
하루라도 더 보고 싶은데 (Baby)

어쩌다 어쩌다 어쩌다
널 사랑하게 됐는지 내가 왜 이 꼴이 됐는지
어쩌다 어쩌다 어쩌다
내 맘 다 타버렸는지 내가 이런 바보였는지

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.ME 내가 널 더 좋아하지만
You don't be nasty 미치갰어 나의 마음이
커커커커 커 져가네 난 워워워워 워쩔까 Ye
오로지 그대에 반했죠 사랑한다고 내게 말해줘
Yo! Let's go

어쩌다 어쩌다 어쩌다
그렇게 넌 태어났는지 내 맘을 다 뺏어갔는지
어쩌다 어쩌다 어쩌다
내 눈앞에 아타났느지 사갈하게 만들었는지

Here's the performance on YouTube

I think this was an outdoor concert. The concert was in Incheon and it's cold in Korea in the winter. Usually one or two of them wear shorts and short skirts, especially Son Ga In (손가인), the first girl to sing at 0:33; she has nice legs. :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bail Me Out Too!

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): School bus driver and mother of two, Minta Garcia got the letter every homeowner dreads, your mortgage is in jeopardy of going into foreclosure.

MINTA GARCIA, DISTRESSED HOMEOWNER: We're going to be losing the house. We're going to lose everything.

ACOSTA (on camera): You think you're going to lose everything?


ACOSTA (voice-over): Her message to the president...

GARCIA: Stop with the foreclosure.

ACOSTA (on camera): Stop the foreclosures?

GARCIA: Yes. Right now, because if people are losing houses, losing jobs, what are we going to do?


ACOSTA: Like countless other Americans, Garcia admits she and her husband bought more house than they could afford, but she says the lender made the purchase all too easy. Now her mortgage is worth more than her house.

(on camera): How much was the house when you bought it?

GARCIA: Eight hundred.

ACOSTA: Eight hundred thousand dollars?. And how much is the house worth?

GARCIA: Right now, it's like $675,000 on the market.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Foreclosure experts say America's home buying culture must change the president's plan to work.

PHILLIP ROBINSON, FORECLOSURE ATTORNEY: We lived in a culture in the last ten years where mortgage originators said that you could use your house as a credit card to pay off your cars, to pay your credit card bills. Well, that doesn't exist anymore.

Wow. I think I make more than a bus driver and I can't afford an $800k house. What is wrong with renting and apartment? Does this woman think she is entitled to a $800k house? Sorry, I have no sympathy for her; I want a house with a huge kitchen and a granite countertop too.

They probably took out an ARM where they can barely afford the initial low payments but fully expecting to refinance when the monthly payments start increasing. This only works if the value of your house keeps rising. If it drops as your mortgage payments start increasing beyond your ability to pay, you can't refinance the full amount of the current loan, and the Ponzi scheme crashes. At least she admits that she made a mistake but quickly blames someone else and asks for a handout. As if the bank held a gun to her head and made her buy a house she can't afford. I'm down almost 40% on my investment account... is Obama going to bail me out too? I probably won't even get an useful tax deduction out of it.

There is absolutely no reason to stop the foreclosure; they gambled and lost the house, which they should not have bought in the first place. If her family is going to become homeless because she lost her job, then I agree that the government should provide some kind of short-term assistance. However, it pisses me off greatly that she wants the government to force other people to pay so she can stay in her huge house. She needs to sell all the stuff in her house that she can't afford either and go rent an apartment. Consider it a life lesson: don't let other people talk you into buying things you can't afford, especially if they're working on commission.

Facebook MouseHunt

Elim sent me an invitation to MouseHunt a few weeks ago and now I'm up at 4:30am checking my trap. Basically, you build a mousetrap with different components and check back every so often to see if you caught something. You can also trigger a "hunt" every 15 minutes which includes your friends that are also logged in to Facebook. I have it running on my 2nd computer at work. I read somewhere that >60% of the users come back and check their page daily. They must generate a lot of advertising dollars.

I got up to pee. I didn't get up just to check my trap. No, really.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wealth Redistribution

Here we go... I need to get married and buy a house to get some tax deductions by 2011.

Washington Post
Obama also seeks to increase tax collections, mainly by making good on his promise to eliminate some of the temporary tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003. While the budget would keep the breaks that benefit middle-income families, it would eliminate them for wealthy taxpayers, defined as families earning more than $250,000 a year. Those tax breaks would be permitted to expire on schedule in 2011. That means the top tax rate would rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, the tax on capital gains would jump to 20 percent from 15 percent for wealthy filers and the tax on estates worth more than $3.5 million would be maintained at the current rate of 45 percent.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ingram Micro

I took this picture on Monday, December 29th in the morning as my flight was landing at John Wayne Airport; I was flying in from Portland after visiting my sister. The white buildings in the middle of the photo surrounded by parking lots are the 1600 and 1610 buildings of Ingram Micro. The 1700 building is to the right. I worked there for about 5 years after business school.

The parking lot is fairly empty because they forced people to take vacation during that week to save on expenses for Q4. Otherwise, the parking lot would be pretty full at 10:30am.

Cheer Up! (Way To Go!)

1st song in the video. I had to steal the first two lines from another website. They usually display song title and artist at the beginning of the song so no lyrics.
힘 내

힘을내라고 말해줄래
그 눈을 반짝여 날 일으켜줄래
사람들은 모두 원하지
더 빨리 더 많이
난 평범한 소녀인 걸

바람은 자유로운데
모으겠어 다들 어디론지

하지만 힘을내 이만큼 왔잖아
이것쯤은 정말 별 거 이냐
세상을 뒤집자
도무지 알 수 없는 것뿐인
복잡한 이 지구가 재밌는 그 이유는 하나
Yes it's you

사랑한다고 말해줄래
지친 널 감싸고 함께 웃어줄래
사람들은 모두 원하지
더 빨리 더 많이
난 평범한 소녀인 걸

하늘은 저리도 파란데
모으겠어 아들 어디론가

하지만 힘을내 이만큼 왔잖아
이것쯤은 정말 별 거 이냐
세상을 뒤집자
도무지 알 수 없는 것뿐인
복잡한 이 지구가 재밌는 그 이유는 하나
바로 나

I like just the way you are
You set me free, set me free my boy
네가 나타난 뒤 (I've been changed)
모든 게 달라졌어
이제부터 다시 시작해

좋았어 힘을내 이만큼 왔잖아
이것쯤은 정말 별 거 이냐
세상을 뒤집혔어
도무지 알 수 없는 것뿐인
복잡한 이 지구가 재밌는
그 이유는 하나
Yes it's you, ready for your love
도무지 알 수 없는 것뿐인
복잡한 이 지구가 재밌는 그 이유는 하나
바로 나

Singing live on a radio show

Gee - Robot Version

Awesome! That's putting your robot research grant money to use... meeting SNSD girls. :)

At 1:55 into the video, as the red robot is doing a head spin, the screen caption says 헤드 스핀! I think that's just the English words "head spin" written out phonetically in Hangul, kinda like 호텔 캘리포니아 for Hotel California. They also say 로봇 for robot (or lobot in Engrish); I wonder if that means anything to a Korean person that has never seen a robot before. In Chinese, robot translates to 機器人 which literally means machine (機器) man (人). I guess it's all the same in the end since a Korean dictionary defines 로봇 as 인조인간 which means synthetic human. It's just interesting that a new "word" is created in Korean.


Partially off-topic... we went to eat Korean BBQ last night in Torrance. As we were leaving the restaurant, they were playing "Gee" on the stereo. Sometimes at Mitsuwa (Japanese supermarket), I would recognize J-pop songs playing over the PA system (they like Koda Kumi).

Old Friends

I drove up to Torrance Saturday night to have dinner and tea/dessert with some old friends from CCCSB. Many many years ago, we used to have an English Bible Study group that met at Paul/Cathy's house and some of us met up tonight. I haven't seen some of them for a couple of years and it was good to catch up. I'm usually doing nothing on weekends anyway...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Like Being Hit By A Bullet

Another new song by Baek Ji Young from her 7th album. That's Chan Ho Park at the end of the video (MLB pitcher). He was in Korea filming an episode of 1N2D. Some of the other people on the 1N2D show yelled out, "Baek Ji Young's skin is like milk!" and made her laugh at 2:40.
총 맞은 것처럼

총 맞은 것처럼 정신이 너무 없어
웃음만 나와서 그냥 웃었어 그냥 웃었어 그냥

허탈하게 웃으며 하나만 묻자 했어
우리 왜 헤어져 어떻게 헤어져
어떻게 헤어져 어떻게

구멍 난 가슴에 우리 추억이 흘러 넘쳐
잡아보려 해도 가슴을 막아도
손가락 사이로 빠져나가
심장이 멈춰도 이렇게 아플 갓 같진 않아
어떻게 좀 해줘 날 좀 치료해줘
이러다 내 가슴 다 망가져
구멍 난 가슴이

일어서는 널 따라 무작정 쫓아갔어
도망치듯 걷는 어의 뒤에서
어의 뒤에서 소리쳤어
구멍 난 가슴에 우리 추억이 흘러 넘쳐
잡아보려 해도 가슴을 막아도
손가락 사이로 빠져나가
심장이 멈춰도 이렇게 아플 갓 같진 않아
어떻게 좀 해줘 날 좀 치료해줘
이러다 내 가슴 다 망가져

총 맞은 것처럼 정말 가슴이 너무 아파
이렇게 아픈데 이렇게 아픈데
살 수가 있다는 게 이상해
어떻게 너를 잊어 내가 그런 건
나는 몰라 몰라
가슴이 뻥 뚫려 채울 수 없어서
죽을 만큼 아프기만 해
총 맞은 것처럼


Some photos of Europe from a trip back during the summer of 1999. They were taken with a film camera; I scanned these in this morning.

Tower Bridge (not London Bridge)

Big Ben. It was raining the whole day so I'm not sure how the sky came out so nice in the photo.

Buckingham Palace. We arrived just after the royal family moved to Windsor Castle so we were able to tour the palace.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

The glass pyramid at The Louvre

Monet's garden. This is a real photo, not a postcard.

Gladiator! Gladiator! Gladiator!

St. Peter's Square in Rome Vatican City

Florence skyline. There are no tall buildings except for the Duomo.

I scanned in only the scenery shots and left out all the photos with people.

USA become Third World Country

ABC News
Acorn Breaks into Home

Some community activists could face criminal charges after breaking into a home in Southeast Baltimore.

Police were at the home Thursday night looking for fingerprints and other evidence.

The activists who staged the break-in belong to the Association of Community Organizations For Reform Now or ACORN.

After snapping a lock with bolt cutters, ACORN member Louis Beverly told supporters "this is our house now."

ACORN staged the demonstration to protest the foreclosure crisis sweeping the nation.

The home in the 300 block of Ellwood Avenue used to be owned by Donna Hanks. She lost this home in September, after owning it since 2001. When things got tough she struggled to make her payments. Her mortgage? $1995 a month. Her income? $2200. Donna's story is one that ACORN is taking a stand against.

"We feel that it was unjust, we feel as though she was strong armed robbed, we feel that Wells Fargo could have modified her loan and that is what we are asking for right now," says Beverly.

Acorn chapters across the country are staging similar scenes to drive their point home. They want state governments to enact moratoriums on foreclosures until this crisis can be worked out.

ACORN says that they will move Donna Hanks back in despite the fact that she no longer owns the house. During the taping of this story a man by the name of William Lane told ABC2 News that he owns the house currently--and plans to sue Acorn.

Unbelievable. I know it's probably a publicity stunt but nevertheless, I hope they throw his ass in jail for a long time. This is why I hated the "stimulus" package (other than the fact that ACORN gets $billions); what ever happened to personal responsibility? I'm fine with my tax dollars going into actual projects that will stimulate the economy but a lot of the package just gives money to stupid/greedy people. Also, why is "owning" a house a right? I'm still living in an apartment and now I have to pay for other people's mortgages? If you bought a house that you can't afford on an ARM, you gambled and lost. Stop whining and go rent an apartment like the rest of us.

This story doesn't even make sense. If she bought the house in 2001, I'm pretty certain that it's worth more now than when she bought it. She probably got greedy and refinanced with an adjustable rate mortgage while pulling out equity. A $2000/month mortgage assuming 30-year fixed rate of 5.0% is a $375k loan. On, there are 5000+ houses listed for sale in Baltimore at an average of $140k. Even if her house lost half it's value, it's still <$300k (on average). Something doesn't add up.

When I owned a house, I refinanced several times but always with a 30-year fixed loan. I know that by going with an ARM, I could have saved on payments at the beginning. Since we sold the house after 3 years, an ARM loan probably would have been better in hindsight. However, a fixed rate loan means a fixed mortgage payment. To take out a mortgage where the monthly payment can increase to equal ~100% of your take home pay is just irresponsible.

As for ACORN, they're nothing but a bunch of crooks and thugs working for the Democratic Party. I exaggerate (a little), but if the USA is turning into Zimbabwe, I'm going to Newport Coast to break-in & squat in a $10M home and say, "this is our house now."

Give You Lips

Since I posted the video, I may as well type up the lyrics. Why are there two English words in the middle of the song? No Korean words for "forget today?"
입술을 주고

벌써 입술을 주고

너잖아 이러면 안 되잖아
우린 사랑하면 안돼 너와 나는
알잖아 이런 건 나쁘잖아
너는 내 친구와 사귀고 있잖아
말론 안 된다고 달래보려 해도
내 맘 이미 흔들리는 걸
날 갖고 노는 지 말 같지 않은 지
화를 내보려 해도

벌써 입술을 주고 네 손을 꼰 잡고
네 눈길에 취해 네게 기데
다시 술잔을 들고 기억을 지우고
이 순간에 취해 친굴 잊고
벌써 입술을 주고 (고 고 고 다 주고)
네 손을 꼰 잡고 (꼭 꼭 꼭 널 잡고)
벌써 입술을 주고 (고 고 고 다 주고)
네 손을 꼰 잡고 (꼭 꼭 꼭 널 잡고)

왜 이래 내가 미쳐서 이래
정말 사람들이 알면 큰일 아게
Forget Today 오늘은 다 잊을래
우리 내일부터 다시 친구해
잘못된 거잖아 날 유혹하지 마
몸과 맘이 따로 노는걸
날 만지는 네가 너의 그 손길이
이미 나는 좋은 걸

벌써 입술을 주고 네 손을 꼰 잡고
네 눈길에 취해 네게 기데
다시 술잔을 들고 기억을 지우고
이 순간에 취해 친굴 잊고
벌써 입술을 주고 (고 고 고 다 주고)
네 손을 꼰 잡고 (꼭 꼭 꼭 널 잡고)
벌써 입술을 주고 (고 고 고 다 주고)
네 손을 꼰 잡고 (꼭 꼭 꼭 널 잡고)

울면서 키스를 하고
다시 또 너를 밀치고
바보 같은 되풀이로
자꾸만 내가 망가져

벌써 입술을 주고 네 손을 꼰 잡고
네 눈길에 취해 네게 기데
다시 술잔을 들고 기억을 지우고
이 순간에 취해 친굴 잊고
벌써 입술을 주고 네 손을 꼰 잡고
네 눈길에 취해 네게 기데
다시 술잔을 들고 기억을 지우고
이 순간에 취해 친굴 잊고
벌써 입술을 주고

Wireless Mic Problems

Ah, this is turning into an all K-pop blog. :)

This is Baek Ji Young (백지영) performing 입술을 주고 (Give You Lips). She has a great voice.

The problem starts right away. You can hear loud popping noises from her lavalier microphone. I'm pretty sure she can hear it too since she's wearing in-ear monitors. This goes on for about half-a-minute until a crew member runs up and hands her a handheld mic at 0:31. From hands-on experience, my guess is that the battery in the wireless transmitter pack ran out. It uses 2 AA batteries and even with alkalines, the battery life is only a few hours. There were several occasions when I had to run on-stage at NewSong to hand the speaker our wireless handheld. I'm stingy with batteries so sometimes I try to squeeze in another service using the existing set already in the wireless transmitter for the lavalier mic. There is a battery level meter on the transmitter's LCD display but it's not that accurate. With so many performers, I don't know how they coordinate all the mic levels and monitor mixes... can't imagine how many batteries they must go through. Hopefully they're using rechargeable batteries, otherwise Al Gore is going to be pissed.

I still can't believe she's coming to LA to do a concert while I'm in China. I have all seven of her albums. :(

Friday, February 20, 2009

Girls' Generation, Completed

Actually, there wasn't too much new lyrics after what I typed in earlier; most of the stuff was repeated. I took the lyrics off a performance on Music Star on Dec. 29, 2007. The singing was pretty bad. Out of the 9 group members, only 4 or 5 are really good vocalists... all of them were pretty off-key during this performance.

난 아직 어리다고 말하던 얄미운 욕심쟁이가
오늘은 웬일인지 사랑해 하며 키스해 주었네

얼굴은 빨개지고 놀란 눈은 커다래지고
떨리는 내 입술은 파란 빛깔 파도 같아

너무 놀라버린 나는 아무 말도 하지 못하고
화를 낼까 웃어버릴까 생각하다가

어리다고 놀리지 말아요 수줍어서 말도 못하고
어리다고 놀리지 말아요 스쳐가는 얘기뿐인걸

난 아직 어리다고 말하던 얄미운 욕심쟁이가
오늘은 웬일인지 사랑해 하며 키스해 주었네

너무 놀라버린 나는 아무 말도 하지 못하고
화를 낼까 웃어버릴까 생각하다가

어리다고 놀리지 말아요 수줍어서 말도 못하고
어리다고 놀리지 말아요 스쳐가는 얘기뿐인걸

조금은 서툰 그런 모습도
어쩜 그댄 내 맘을 흔들어 놓는지
Oh 바보 같지만 나도 모르겠어
그저 이맘이 가는 그대로

어리다고 놀리지 말아요 Oh 날 모르잖아요
어리다고 놀리지 말아요

어리다고 놀리지 말아요 수줍어서 말도 못하고
어리다고 놀리지 말아요 스쳐가는 얘기뿐인걸 (2x)

어리다고 놀리지 말아요

First song sounds lip-synched; second song obviously is not. The audience didn't seem too thrilled. :)

Costco Shopping

I went to Costco after work to buy TurboTax. I forgot whether I had a coupon so I didn't end up buying it. However, I spent >$100 on other stuff that I wasn't even planning on buying. I think this is pretty common for me and Costco trips.

I spent $15 on these cable organization things. I usually don't care about neatness and stuff but there are a few things that bother me a lot:

1. There can be only one space after a period.
2. The width of all columns in an Excel sheet have to be an integer.
3. Excess cable needs to be wrapped/zip-tied neatly.

The cable organizers look like gray breasts. A rubber cap flips open so you can wrap cables and cords then flips back to cover it. Awesome!

I also bought some NiMH rechargeable batteries. I have two wireless keyboards and 4 wireless mouses (mice?) that burns through a lot of AA batteries. I could have bought 48 AA batteries for $11 but ended up spending $28 on 8 AA/2 AAA plus charger. This will offset some of my 4Runner's carbon footprint. :)


Cable situation under my desk...

and behind my Mac (hmm, I need to dust more often)

Thursday, February 19, 2009


This song is long... this is only the first 1/3. There are also two fairly long raps by Miryo (2nd from left) with way too many words.


어쩌다 어쩌다 어쩌다
널 사랑하게 됐는지
내가 왜 이 꼴 이 됐는지
어쩌다 어쩌다 어쩌다
내 맘 다 타버렸는지
내가 이런 바보였는지

이거 참 이럴 줄은 몰랐어
오늘도 난 지쳐 너만 기다리다
너 때문에 눈물 쏙 뺀 여자들
그 중에 하나가 되기는 싫었어

너를 바라보다 아차 싶었어
다잡았던 내 맘 놓치고 말았어
그런 나를 부르면 Oh My Honey
일분일초 만에 네 앞에 있는 나

너무 멋진 멋진 그대
널 바라보면 어질어질해
너무 나쁜 나쁜 그대
다 모르는 척 웃고만 있네

This is a song by the group Brown Eyed Girls. I embedded the MV in a previous post. I'm still noticing that the lyrics subtitles are different on each performance video which is pretty strange. Doesn't their management company provide the correct lyrics to TV stations before each performance?

New (used) Computer

I've been using an old Dell Latitude D410 at work for the past 4 years and it was giving me a lot of problems. When my analyst quit on Friday, I was able to snag her computer as a replacement. It's a newer Dell Latitude D820 so it should be faster though it's much heavier. I used to drag the D410 everywhere but now I take my Sony Vaio on personal trips so I can leave the large notebook computer at work.

Old computer:
Dell Latitude D410
Pentium M - 1.86GHz
LCD - 1024 x 768

New computer:
Dell Latitude D820
Core2 T7200 - 2.0GHz
LCD - 1920 x 1200

IT didn't give back my Apple sticker so I have to find another one to stick on my new computer.

Another Tax Increase

The Sacramento Bee
The deal comes at a time when California was headed for fiscal calamity, already unable to pay all its bills and on the precipice today of suspending 374 construction projects that were valued at $5.58 billion and could have affected more than 90,000 jobs statewide.

As part of Maldonado's agreement, lawmakers approved measures asking voters to approve constitutional amendments to establish an open primary system and ban legislative pay increases during deficit years. But legislative leaders refused to grant him his proposal to eliminate legislative pay altogether when the budget is late.

Leaders also agreed to Maldonado's demand to eliminate the 12-cent additional gas tax, which was estimated to bring in $2.1 billion through June 2010, and up to a 5 percent surcharge on income tax liability. The money will be replaced with a 0.25 percent increase in the state income tax rate, federal stimulus dollars and more than $600 million in line-item vetoes.

Screwed again. Since I live close to work, I only drive about 6,000 miles per year. At 18 mpg, the 12-cent per gallon tax works out to be ~$40. A 0.25% increase in state income tax is going to cost me a lot more than $40. Even more important than the actual dollars, I don't have any control over income taxes (unless I quit my job). With consumption taxes, at least I have the option to alter my behavior in response to the tax increase, such as drive less or buy a more fuel efficient car.

Pretty Girl

OK, one more. This was a bit easier than the previous song since half the lyrics is bad English.
Pretty Girl

If you wanna pretty every wanna pretty
안된다는 맘은 no no no no
If you wanna pretty every wanna pretty
어디서나 당당하게 걷기

나와 맞는 옷에 또 받쳐주는 말투
센스있는 포즈 그냥 되지를 않죠
생활 상식은 기본 시사 상식은 선택
다 끊임 없는 노력이죠

Girl! Pretty girl! Pretty girl!
조금도 망설일 것 없죠
난 Beautiful girl!
Beautiful girl! Beautiful! ye ye ye ye
Girl! Pretty girl! Pretty girl!
그냥 되진 않는거죠
난 Beautiful girl! Beautiful!
ye ye ye ye C'mon beautiful girl!

마음은 예쁘게 표정은 산뜻하게
하루를 시작하면서 잊지 말아야 하죠
두 눈을 깜박이며 살짝 미소 지으면
이젠 모든게 완벽하죠

Once again, there are several words that Google Translate can't figure out (산뜻하게). If I use the other translator, it converts all the Hangul but none of it makes any sense. Maybe there's slang words that are not official/common. I'm also noticing that it makes a huge difference to the translation program where you put spaces between the symbol blocks. Since I really don't understand any Korean, and all this is just a pattern matching exercise, I'm not sure if what I've typed means anything.

One of the singers in KARA is Nicole Jung who is on Star Golden Bell right now. Again, she's on SGB because she grew up in America and her Korean is not that good. If so, why is the English so bad (though catchy) in this song?!

If you wanna pretty, every wanna pretty...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Girls' Generation

That's only the first half of the song.

난 아직 어리다고 말하던 얄미운 욕심쟁이가
오늘은 웬일인지 사랑해 하며 키스해 주었네

얼굴은 빨개지고 놀란 눈은 커다래지고
떨리는 내 입술은 파란 빛깔 파도 같아

너무 놀라버린 나는 아무 말도 하지 못하고
화를 낼까 웃어버릴까 생각하다가

어리다고 놀리지 말아요 수줍어서 말도 못하고
어리다고 놀리지 말아요 스쳐가는 얘기뿐인걸

I checked a couple of performance videos (I have more than one!) and the lyrics are slightly different on each version. Google Translate was also having problems with a few phrases. I tried a different translator and got this for the fourth "paragraph" above:
That is young, does not tease stops shily,
also not to be able that is young,
will not tease and to graze will be only a talk and will hang

Sigh... at least they're pretty to look at.

The Future of America

Crap! I have to depend on these people for Social Security when I retire?!

New York Times
Nearly two-thirds of the students surveyed said that if they explained to a professor that they were trying hard, that should be taken into account in their grade.

Jason Greenwood, a senior kinesiology major at the University of Maryland echoed that view.

“I think putting in a lot of effort should merit a high grade,” Mr. Greenwood said. “What else is there really than the effort that you put in?”

“If you put in all the effort you have and get a C, what is the point?” he added. “If someone goes to every class and reads every chapter in the book and does everything the teacher asks of them and more, then they should be getting an A like their effort deserves. If your maximum effort can only be average in a teacher’s mind, then something is wrong.”

The article also mentions that "a third of students surveyed said that they expected B’s just for attending lectures, and 40 percent said they deserved a B for completing the required reading."

Is this a recent phenomenon? I studied engineering in undergrad. Our grades were usually what we got on the midterm and final. Since it was mainly science/engineering classes, typically there was a right answer to questions. If you didn't get the right answer, you don't get any points (or just partial credit). I tried really hard in most cases and ended up with a B+ GPA. I didn't expect a B grade just for showing up. Maybe things work differently for "fuzzy" majors in college.

I'm not sure where the mentality that you should get an 'A' if you put in a lot of effort comes from. It's not like that in the real world. At work, I make a lot of slides for our CFO. I can try as hard as I want but if the slide are not ready for the meeting, or if the numbers are all wrong, I won't have a job for long. Likewise, I fly to Asia every few months. I don't care if the Boeing engineer tried really hard or not... I want them to get it right.

I'm a Coward!

The attorney general of the United States thinks I'm a coward. Most of my co-workers are Asian, I attend an Asian-American church, and almost all my relatives are Chinese.

Newsweek Article
Attorney General Eric Holder described the United States Wednesday as a nation of cowards on matters of race, saying most Americans avoid discussing awkward racial issues.

In a speech to Justice Department employees marking Black History Month, Holder said the workplace is largely integrated but Americans still self-segregate on the weekends and in their private lives.

"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards," said Holder, nation's first black attorney general.

What a pompous jackass. Wait... his wife is black. I'll bet most of his friends in college were black. Is he a coward too? He doesn't mention how I can earn my badge of courage. Do I just need to talk about "racial issues" or do I have to agree with Al Sharpton and MALDEF/La Raza?

I think Mr. Holder needs to focus on his new job and not worry about who I hang out with on weekends.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hangul and Google Translate

I've been wanting to learn Korean for awhile but none of the local community colleges offer a Korean language class; it's always Chinese and Japanese. I have a book, a dictionary, and about 100 episodes of "Let's Speak Korean!" but never got too far. My original goal was to learn Korean so I can watch K-drama or listen to K-pop and recognize some words but I still can't understand anything (except 사랑해). Now my goal is to learn to read just enough Hangul so I can sing a Korean song next time we go to 노래방 (Korean karaoke).

One of the things I'm doing is learning to type Hangul on my computer. Right now I'm using my Mac and the 2-Set Korean input method which is the same as using a Korean keyboard. The keys are arranged in some order that has nothing to do with how it sounds and the English keycap. There is a Romaja input method that tries to match the Hangul sound with English (ㅂ is 'B' and ㅈ is 'J') but I'm going for the whole native experience. For practice, I'm transcribing song lyrics from music videos. I have to read each syllabic block, figure out the components, and find the right keys on the keyboard. Fun! I think it's helping a bit.

First song I'm going to try is 너를 사랑해. Not sure who originally sang it but I have a version by S.E.S and Seeya. Just for kicks, I fed the chorus through Google Translate. I see a lot of Engrish in China and on websites, probably due to blind use of machine translators, but it's a good way to check my Hangul typing. The initial result was gibberish due to a few typos. :)

너를 사랑해 나의 마음이
너를 생각할수록
나는 행복해 다른 누구도
난 부럽지 않아

I love you my heart
Thinking of you, the more
I'm happy anyone
I do not envy

Since Asian languages are somewhat related, I also tried Korean to Chinese translation:

Not sure if that's better or worse since my Chinese reading skills are pretty bad. At least Traditional Chinese was an option; I'm even worse with Simplified Chinese. Hmm, I think this is a love song.

Learning Hangul is also nominally useful at a Korean restaurant. I was able to sound out a few dishes at lunch last week until I found one I recognized.
너를 사랑해

너를 사랑해 나의 마음이
너를 생각할수록
나는 행복해 다른 누구도
난 부럽지 않아

맑은 유리창으로
햇살이 나를 반기는 이 느낌
믿을 수가 없어져 오 예
너무도 내게 소중함을
느낄 수 있도록 해준 너

긴 밤이 오래될수록
아침이 더디 올수록 그리워
우리 둘이 영원히 함께
같은 공간 손에
아픔이 많더라도 괜찮아


오렌지의 향기로
살며시 미소짓는 너의 웃음이
모든 걸 다 잊게 해
오 예 사랑해
지금 기적보다 놀라운
날들이 온 거야

나에겐 지금 너보다
너에겐 지금 너보다
소중한 다른 사람 없다면 함께
영원히 같은 집에
서로 얼굴을 보며 살아가


내 곁에 있고 싶어


Don't Get On The Wrong Bus

"Death Car" mobile execution unit

USA Today Article
The country that executed more than four times as many convicts as the rest of the world combined last year is slowly phasing out public executions by firing squad in favor of lethal injections. Unlike the United States and Singapore, the only two other countries where death is administered by injection, China metes out capital punishment from specially equipped "death vans" that shuttle from town to town.

Makers of the death vans say the vehicles and injections are a civilized alternative to the firing squad, ending the life of the condemned more quickly, clinically and safely. The switch from gunshots to injections is a sign that China "promotes human rights now," says Kang Zhongwen, who designed the Jinguan Automobile death van in which "Devil" Zhang took his final ride.

When do I get my $4,000?

Miley Cyrus has said she meant no offense by a gesture that some have construed as insensitive to Asians — but one woman isn't buying the pop star's story, and she thinks Cyrus should pay.

TMZ reports that the Los Angeles woman, Lucie J. Kim, has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of all Asian Pacific Islanders living in Los Angeles County. And she's seeking quite a payout: $4 billion.

In the controversial photo, Cyrus, 16, is shown sitting on her boyfriend Justin Gaston’s lap surrounded by a group of friends all making a stereotypical gesture by pulling their eyes into a slanted position. The gesture is commonly thought to be offensive to Asian Pacific Americans.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Star Golden Bell

Star Golden Bell is a Korean variety show on KBS. Basically, the show has 3 MC's and 20 celebrity guests that play games to win money for charity. As with many Korean TV shows, I would need to wait until someone translated and subtitled the episodes before watching. For SGB, KBS has been broadcasting recent episodes with English subtitles. I found a site that has several episodes uploaded to Google Video.

One of the segment on the show is called "Level with Me" where a guest MC would give clues and the celebrity guests would try to guess the word/phrase/movie title. For a long time, they had an 11 year old kid give clues from a child's perspective. More recently, they have Nicole Jung of KARA as the clue giver. What makes this funny is that she was born in Korea but grew up in the U.S. and did not go back to Korea until recently. Therefore, her Korean language skills and understanding of recent Korean culture is a bit lacking.

In this episode, one of the guests is Park Jaebeom of 2PM. He is in the same situation as Nicole, having moved to Korea recently from an English speaking country (not sure which one). The game starts around 13 minutes into the video and continues at the beginning of the next video. Funny stuff.

Sometime when both Leon and I are in China, we would speak Mandarin to each other for the benefit of other people in the room. I think we would do a lot worse if we had to play this game with Chinese proverbs.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

JeepSpeed Update

Randy sent a few photos of our roll cage being built. Once this is done, we need to get seats, suspension, shocks, fuel cell, and a bunch of other things. I think the goal now is to try and enter a race either in July or September. In the meantime, we're going to organize some trips to Barstow to drive the course in either my 4Runner or Randy's Tundra.

This was last weekend in Arizona. The jeep that rolled used to belong to Randy's old team before they sold it. This was only 4 miles into a ~300 mile race (only 2 laps for JeepSpeed/3 laps for other faster classes).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Goodbye, Siriwan


I'm sad... today was the last day for my (one and only) financial analyst. She has been working for me for the past 18 months. Her next job will be back in Thailand working for her family business.

She pretty much spent the day cleaning out her office and email. It's weird that someone that you worked so closely with is gone and you (probably) won't ever see them again. Her replacement is moving into the empty office space next Tuesday and life goes on.

Good luck with everything you do in the future

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Dang it. Both elevators in my building at work are out-of-order... on a Sunday. Strange, they were working fine late Friday night. I can't imagine them getting too much use on Saturday.

Old Computer

I was digging around my closet and found my old laptop computer from b-school. It's a Gateway 2000 Colorbook, one of the first cheap color portable computers. Gateway still has the specs on it's website even thought it's 15+ years old. It has a 486SX running at 25MHz, 4MB of RAM, and a 80MB HDD. My Sony (Intel T8100) has a 3MB L2 cache.

Made in Japan! My Sony notebook and Mac mini are both made in China.

As you can see, it still works! Of course the onboard battery is long dead so it doesn't know the current time/date. The main battery is also dead and won't recharge. I bought it around the end of 1993 and used it until graduation. It still has Windows 3.1 plus a real old version of Office (Word 6.0, Excel 5.0, and PowerPoint 4.0). I also managed to squeeze PageMaker 5.0 and Eten (Chinese input) on the tiny hard drive. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. I don't think I can give it away since it doesn't have network support so you can't go online... it doesn't even have a CD-ROM drive so I have to install programs using floppy disks.

I have 3 or 4 more unused computers in my closet. Maybe I can start a series of posts on all my old computers. Too bad I tossed my Apple II+, Mac Plus, and Mac IIsi. Once I went to b-school, unfortunately it's been all WinTel until I bought my Mac mini.

Bugatti Type 57S

BBC News Article
A classic Bugatti car, which gathered dust in a Tyneside garage for half a century, has been sold for 3.4m euros (£3m) at an auction in Paris.

Bonhams had listed lot 17403 as a "motoring icon" with an engine that has not been fired up for 50 years.

Relatives of reclusive Newcastle doctor Harold Carr found the 1937 Type 57S Atalante in a garage after he died.

It was originally owned by Earl Howe - first president of the British Racing Drivers' Club. Just 17 were built.

The only Bugatti model I've heard about was the Veyron from a few years ago. I thought that car was crazy expensive at ~€1M. This one is a bit more at €3.4M which is about $4.35M, and from the video, it does not look like it has been touched since they found it. You can easily spend millions more on restoration; maybe we'll see it auctioned again for even more money once it's been restored.


Oops, they were originally looking for £6M which is almost $9M. Blame it on the global economic downturn.

The Type 57S has a 3.3L engine rated at 135hp@5000RPM. From the article, top speed is 130mph. Is that fast for a car from the 1930's?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Another Reason I Hate My Apartment, Part 78

I got home late last night after happy hour/work and found that there was 2-3 inches of water on all the walkways in my apartment complex. I had to detour 3 time to find my way back to my apartment without getting my feet wet.

I also found out that my BBQ on the balcony is now illegal or outside code or something. The city of Costa Mesa now only allows 1 pound canisters of propane on balconies. I think that's the camping stove size; those won't fuel my 4 burner BBQ.

Democrat Model of Government

I've been having a long discussion with Anonymous in one of the comment threads (though I suspect it's someone from work) about the stimulus package and taxes. Here's my (vastly) simplified explanation of how Democrats were elected:

- 3 voters: one working and two are not
- take 2/3 of wages from the working person and give 1/2 to each of the non-working person
- 2 politicians: one promises tax cuts and the other promises more "social justice" by taxing the "rich"
- hold an election
- Democrat wins with 2 votes to 1

Of course, the politicians are also voters and there are a lot of non-economical issues in the last election (e.g., pure Bush-hatred). But since voters vastly outnumber politicians and the poor (or those receiving entitlements) outnumbering the rich (people who pay most of the taxes), I believe my point is valid. Add to the mix some super-rich people feeling guilty about their wealth (who may not even pay taxes) and hustlers convincing the poor that their entitlements are a right, I don't see how Republicans ever got elected in the first place. I guess the split is closer to 50/50 than the 33/67 portrayed above.

Model also falls apart if the one working person decided to pack up and retire to China or Thailand in a few years.


Arg! I just had a dream last night. I was arguing with someone at church about illegal immigration and taxes; not sure who "won" since I woke up before it was over. Maybe I should just shut up, bend over, and take it (higher taxes) in order to save my sanity. A Republican/Libertarian vote in California is next to useless.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Must be winter if it's raining in Southern California.

View outside my window at work. At least the hill will be more green next week.

Too bad my dead orchid plant is inside... :(

1st Option: Do Nothing

An important lesson I learned in b-school (mainly in business ethics class) was that in every situation, you can always do nothing. It may not be the best option, but you should always consider it.

Washington Times
President Obama's economic recovery package will actually hurt the economy more in the long run than if he were to do nothing, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.

CBO, the official scorekeepers for legislation, said the House and Senate bills will help in the short term but result in so much government debt that within a few years they would crowd out private investment, actually leading to a lower Gross Domestic Product over the next 10 years than if the government had done nothing.

I repeat myself: If you voted for Obama/Democrats, you should pay more taxes. If you want this Hope'n'Change BS, then step up instead of forcing others to pay for your pet projects.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Brown Eyed Girls

Brown Eyed Girls - 어쩌다

Heh. Another all girl K-pop group. I would pay money to see them in concert.
Official Website

Brown Eyed Girls - 너에게 속았다


I've never been a huge "fan" of anything. Sure I like music, movies, and sports, but nowhere near what you see at concerts and sporting events. Even when my favorite K-pop artist come to town, I'm too cheap/lazy to move my China trip so I can to see them.

So imagine my surprise when I found an "anti" site solely dedicated to dissing someone, in this case, SNSD. From looking at the site, their goal is disbanding the 9-girl group. Even though I'm not that enthusiastic about entertainers, I can understand fanboys/fangirls who are huge fans of a particular singer/actor. However, it must take a special kind of jackass to spend their time being an anti-fan. The material on the site are pretty immature, with graffiti on photos and mocking subtitles on MV's. I'm not even sure what is their motivation... bad music? Fake image? There are lots of stuff I don't like (gangsta rap, heavy metal, country music) but all you have to do is not listen to it.

This anti-fan phenomenon seems to be very prevalent in South Korea. The entertainment scene also is quite different than in the US. A lot of music/movie stars appear on variety shows and most have personal homepages (usually on Cyworld). Things they say and do are instantly available on the Internet for fans and haters. If a celebrity does anything remotely controversial, they would get thousands of angry emails, often prompting apologies from the celebrity or their management company. There are even reports that anti-fan comments contributed to celebrity suicides in South Korea (which in itself is a huge issue - Korea has the highest suicide rate of OECD countries).

At first, I thought the anti-site was another hoax but I think they're serious; you can never underestimate the stupidity of things you find on the Internet, and come across people you would never ever want to meet in real life. Never has the phrase "Get a life!" been so appropriate.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Airfare Madness

International airfare just don't make sense. I was checking out how much it costs to travel to Jeju Island in Korea. It's one of the few places (that you want to go) which does not require a visa for PRC passport holders. Anyway, for a hypothetical week-long trip from 3/1 to 3/8, here are some roundtrip airfare as found on Vayama.
LAX (Los Angeles)-NRT (Tokyo)-LAX = $535 + $291 taxes/fees (Singapore Airlines)

LAX-YVR (Vancouver)-HKG (Hong Kong)-YVR-LAX = $543 + $156 taxes/fees (Air Canada)

JFK (New York)-NRT-SIN (Singapore)-NRT-JFK = $620 + $508 taxes/fees (Japan Airlines)

HKG-ICN (Seoul Incheon)-CJU (Jeju Island)-GMP (Seoul Gimpo)-HKG = $1050 + $62 taxes/fees (Korean Airlines/Asiana Airlines)

HKG-TPE (Taipei)-HKG = $434 + $59 taxes/fees (Cathay Pacific)

CTU (Chengdu)-CAN (Guangzhou)-BKK (Bangkok)-CAN-CTU = $471 + $134 taxes/fees (China Southern)

CTU-PVG (Shanghai)-CJU-PVG-CTU = $1149 + $233 taxes/fees (China Eastern)

How can it cost ~$1382 to fly from Chengdu to Jeju Island (3h 40m total) yet only $1128 to go from New York to Singapore (~21 hours)? Is there just too much competition on trans-Pacific routes?

Another crazy example. If I wanted to fly from Chengdu to Seoul (one-way), I have two options:
Chengdu to Shanghai to Seoul = $618 + $124 taxes/fees (China Eastern)

Chengdu to Beijing to Los Angeles to Tokyo to Seoul = $857 + $240 taxes/fees (Air China/American AIrlines)

I spend a little more, rack up lots of miles, and I get to visit Los Angeles along the way. Of course, I probably won't be able to get a visa for the US. Maybe they just want everyone to take the train in Asia.


Hmm, I just looked up my itinerary for my LAX-CTU trip on Vayama. The price online is ~$25 cheaper than what I purchased from Cathay Pacific directly. What's more weird is that the fare is higher ($892 vs. $861) but the taxes are much lower ($169 vs. $225). Is it because there are Hong Kong sales taxes when buying tickets from Cathay Pacific directly?


Nevermind. I just checked Cathay Pacific's website and they dropped the taxes/fees down to $157. I guess I need to email them to find out why my tickets cost more. They probably dropped the fuel surcharge right after I bought my tickets.