Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I'm actually not sure what this is about but it's SNSD and it's cute. It's some kind of advertising for a brand named Miero. The parent company is Hyundai Pharm ... I think it's supposed to be some kind of health/beauty drink. I need to have my Korean ex-coworker check out the website and tell me what's going on. She happens to be in Korea right now... maybe I should email her to bring some back.

There's one for each of the nine girls. Soshified subtitled a couple of them:

Yuri! She reminds me of a co-worker (not the Korean one mentioned above).

Jessica! She doesn't remind me of anyone. :)

What's chamchamcham (참참참)? From the videos it appears to be some kind of game and these are the pre-recorded responses that's shown depending on whether you win/lose the game. I went on the website but couldn't find any games but it's all in Korean so I may have missed it.

Credit Card Fraud

Some scumbag managed to steal my credit card number and charged $200 at a Walmart in Missouri today. I got a call from my credit card company, checking on a few transactions. Actually there was another $200+ transaction at another Walmart that didn't go through yet. The bank assured me that I wouldn't be responsible for the two charges but I still feel violated nevertheless. I'm not sure where they got my number from since most of my transactions are local and pretty regular (PeiWei!). The only one-off transaction recently is to refill my laundry card; I think the company is somewhere in the Midwest. Otherwise someone managed to hack into an online retailer's transaction database... I buy a lot of stuff from Amazon. Anyway, they canceled my credit card and I will get a replacement in a few days. Until then, I'm back to using cash.

Monday, September 28, 2009

No divorce during China holiday

BBC News
Marriage officials will work hard to process wedings, but not divorces

Couples in China's biggest provincial municipality will not be allowed to divorce during celebrations of 60 years of communist rule.

But weddings will go ahead in Chongqing during the eight-day holiday beginning on Thursday, according to China Daily.

Officers at marriage registration centres said they could not cope with the high demand for weddings and also issue divorces.

Seven out of 10 districts told the newspaper they would not process them.

"We will be working voluntarily during the holiday to issue marriage certificates but we will not be making any divorce appointments," officer Wang, who is in charge of the Marriage and Adoption Registration Centre in Yuzhong district in central Chongqing city, told the China Daily.

The communist government also said in order to promote a harmonious celebration, family disputes are not allowed during the week-long holiday. Any couples arguing or children misbehaving will be punished with 4 years of hard labor (劳动教养), just like the good old days during the Cultural Revolution.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ducks 5 - Kings 4

I got some free pre-season Ducks tickets from work for tonight's game versus the LA Kings. Since it's pre-season, the tickets are together; usually free Ducks tickets from work are singles. Leon was supposed to bring two kids along but the 6-year old decided not to come at the last minute so it was only the three of us.

We got there pretty early at around 4pm, an hour before the game. Parking was an expensive $15 but I was too lazy to park off-site... more money for Henry I guess. It turned out that there was a kids thing at the back so we went there for about 30 minutes. The turnout was pretty good for a pre-season game... I'd estimate that the arena was about 2/3 full. Since it was dinner time, we got some food at the concession stands. It wasn't cheap but not as bad as I thought after the expensive parking.

There were a couple of huge inflatable balloon things, a bounce house, and some other events. It was pretty hot out and bottled water was selling for $4, though the guy selling it was kind of apologetic about the price.

Ducks girls up close. I sneaked in a picture while they were posing for someone else. :)

Darci getting a Ducks temporary tattoo from a nice lady.

They also let kids wear some pads and shoot hockey pucks at them. For Darci, they slowed down the puck but for some of the older kids, the pucks were flying in pretty fast. I think they should have also provided cups for boys.

I think this was the final pre-season game. There were 3 goals (Ducks 2 - Kings 1) scored withing the first 5 minutes of the first period.

Testing out the 10x zoom on my Panasonic DMC-TZ3. These weren't the same girls outside earlier. Our seats were in row R of section 404, pretty close to the back wall. I've sat here for all the "free" games so far.

At one point, Ducks were down two skaters but they managed to kill off this 5-on-3 penalty.

There were some pretty good hits... one of the panels was knocked crooked so they had to fix it.

During the first intermission(?), the had two people inside plastic balls race around the center circle. I think the winner (and their section) got free ticket to the OC Auto Show. I didn't even know there was an auto show in Orange County.

Since Darci had a short attention span, we left the game after the first period. There was nobody in the parking lot and I got out immediately. Very different from the Angels game (across the 55 freeway) on Wednesday. I saw someone from my building (at work) inside the Honda Center. She also brought her toddler and I saw them leaving after the first period as well. I had to check the score when I got home since it was still 2-1 when we left.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sichuan Dining

They brought this dish out during one of the business dinners I attended in Chengdu earlier this month. There were red peppers, green peppers, ginger, and green onion. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to eat for this dish... so I didn't. The green stuff at the back was kind of like mochi and it was pretty good.

Array of drinks at the same dinner. Left to right: red wine, some juice like drink, and baijiu (白酒). The baijiu they poured was about 52% alcohol... it tasted horrible.

Ladies making wontons at the shop downstairs from my friend's apartment. I ordered a medium this time and still it was >20 wontons for ¥5. The cheap homey food was much better than the expensive restaurant food for me.

Sparco Garage Sale

I went with Randy this morning to Sparco's Garage Sale in Irvine. Sparco makes racing accessories and we were looking for seats for our JeepSpeed truck (yeah, we're still building it). Not knowing how many people would be there, we ageed to go stand in line at 7:30am; the sale was from 9am to 3pm. We were about #15 in line and the turnout was pretty good. We met an old guy who does road racing now but used to race off-road. He told us Baja stories for about an hour... definitely cool.

The line outside. This was when we left after about an hour of browsing around inside.

Most of the floorspace was taken up by racing seats. We were looking for their Evo 2 model which are more suitable for off-road racing and a bit wider to fit our large butts. Unfortunately, they didn't have anything we wanted. Sparco also makes racing suits and helmets but we left empty handed. I already have a fireproof racing suit and they didn't have helmets with forced-air ventilation ports.

Since Sparco made racing stuff, there were lots of fancy rides parked outside. This is probably the most exotic. It's an Ariel Atom made by a British company. Stock engine is a 2.0L Honda VTEC with 245hp and it's supposed to do 0-60mph in about 2.7 seconds... that's faster than Steve's Tesla Roadster I rode in last month. I think it can beat motorcycles. However, it's an expensive toy though: base price is $65k (specs).

There were some more cars parked on the lawn. This was a Lexus IS with lots of carbon fiber but not sure what's under the hood.

There were also a couple of WRX's and Evo's. This one looked the most race-ready with lots of buttons behind the "paddle shifter" looking things.

WRX. The front lip/fin was really low to the ground. They were pushing it up the driveway on to the lawn and we heard a loud scraping sound. I do this to my Z sometimes if I'm not careful parking.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Yankees 3, Angels 2

Instead of working, our group within finance went to a baseball game at Angels Stadium. I still call them the Anaheim Angels but they're officially The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim... I think. Our seats were in section 404 and cost $24. It turned out to be a pretty good game with some exciting moments, though the Angels lost. The biggest downside was the weather: it was something like 97°F. Good thing it's not humid here like in Asia. We ended up hiding in section 505 since it was in the shade. Almost everyone from our group (FP&A, G&A, and Financial Systems) showed up and we all got official company caps (in black, which would have made our heads hotter).

I brought along my Sony DSLR and the zoom lens.

I went home to change into shorts before going to the game. I arrived during the top of the 2nd inning. The stadium was only 1/2 full. This was taken with the smaller lens at 18mm.

Close up with the zoom lens at 300mm.

It's lonely in the outfield, and probably quite a few degrees hotter than in the stands/shade. This was the widest view with the zoom lens at 70mm.

One of my co-workers was watching the game and knitting at the same time. Good thing we were sitting too far out and up for foul balls.

Somebody moving a trailer home on the 57 freeway.

It was crazy hot today and people were avoiding seats in the sun.

I can't imaging eating sticky cotton candy while hot and sticky from the heat.

A-rod came up in the top of the 9th to pinch hit. He hit a chopper to the 1st baseman for a double play that ended the top of the inning. The Yankees still won though.

By the end of the game, our seats were in the shadows but we were too lazy to move. Too bad they shot a t-shirt to our section during the 7th inning stretch. I didn't think the puny air canon would reach that high.

Traffic on the way out of the parking lot. It took me over 45 minutes to get out of the lot and on to Orangewood. In China, the "lane" on the left would be full of cars. I only heard one person use their horn during the entire time. In China, I would be deafened by the cacophony of horns. I'm still debating whether it would have taken more time or less time to get out of the lot if everyone drove Chinese-taxi-style.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Use the Force, Luke!

I saw this news article today and sent it to a few friends.

Tesco has been accused of religious discrimination after the company ordered the founder of a Jedi religion to remove his hood or leave a branch of the supermarket in north Wales.

Daniel Jones, founder of the religion inspired by the Star Wars films, says he was humiliated and victimised for his beliefs following the incident at a Tesco store in Bangor.

The 23-year-old, who founded the International Church of Jediism, which has 500,000 followers worldwide, was told the hood flouted store rules.

But the grocery empire struck back, claiming that the three best known Jedi Knights in the Star Wars movies – Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker – all appeared in public without their hoods. Jones, from Holyhead, who is known by the Jedi name Morda Hehol, said his religion dictated that he should wear the hood in public places and is considering legal action against the chain.

"It states in our Jedi doctrination that I can wear headwear. It just covers the back of my head," he said.

"You have a choice of wearing headwear in your home or at work but you have to wear a cover for your head when you are in public."

Sam wrote back and said it reminded him of a skit with Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog. It was actually done by the Late Night with Conan O'Brien during the premier of The Attack of the Clones (the worst out of the three prequel movies).

@9:00 into the video:
Triumph: What substance was Han Solo frozen in?
All: Carbonite!
Triumph: No, no, I'm sorry, I'm very sorry. The correct answer is, "Who gives a @#$%!"

Oba Mao

A shop assistant folds a shirt bearing an image of U.S. President Barack Obama's face imprinted over that of China's late leader Mao Zedong, at a shop in the popular tourist area of Houhai in central Beijing September 21, 2009. The shop has sold thousands of products bearing the "Oba Mao" design since stocks arrived just over a month ago, the shop owner said.
Reuters Pictures

Dang it. I was in Houhai a few weeks ago. I would have bought one if I saw it, though I would also paint a big circle with a slash through it in red.

Google Satellite Images

Google Maps/Earth finally has updated hi-res images of the West High-Tech Zone in Chengdu. I cut a view out of Google Earth and you can see PMI's new building (bottom right). We're surrounded by huge buildings. Up the street, you can see Intel's assembly plant in Chengdu along with a SMIC fab.

Zoomed in view. The new building is the little white one. I'm not sure what they're building on the lot to the west. Last I heard it was some kind of conference center but construction has been halted for over a year. The huge gray building south of us makes cables and wires (I think) and the building to the NE (across the creek) is a Motorola software development office.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Laundromat Parking Lot

I went to the local laundromat again today to wash my bedding. Since I was also washing my regular clothes in the apartment laundry room, it was 2 hours of loading/unloading cloths and driving back and forth.

Anyway, in the parking lot this afternoon was a brand new Ferrari. I don't know if he (I say the guy) was there to do laundry or if he owned the laundry. Maybe he was there to visit some of the other businesses in the strip mall. There was also a new Mercedes-Benz (E class?) and they (family of 3) were in the laundromat. It looked like they were doing all their laundry, not just special items like me. Maybe they spent all their money on the car.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chinese Dissidents Committed to Mental Hospitals

I blogged about this last December. Last Friday, PBS NewsHour broadcast a video segment on this topic. Here's the video:

SHANNON VAN SANT: Qin Xinan is a long way from home. He has traveled from Wuhan, 700 miles away in central China, to Beijing, where he stays in this one-room shack. Every morning, he goes to government offices, pleading for help.

QIN XINAN, petitioner: I strongly ask Hu Jintao and the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee to punish corruption. Save Chinese people, ordinary people, the weak in society. Save China.

I'm not only standing on my own ground. I speak for thousands of people who get persecuted as mentally ill patients.

SHANNON VAN SANT: A former officer in the People's Liberation Army, Qin has been forcibly hospitalized six times, accused of being mentally ill. He says he's not the only one with grievances who's been treated that way.

QIN XINAN: The first time the diagnosis was acute stress disorder. The second time was paranoid schizophrenia. The third time, just like all the other petitioners, doctors diagnosed me with paranoid psychosis.

A former officer in the PLA no less. This is a different China now. Communist ideology is just a cover for corrupt officials looking for personal wealth... how ironic.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

K-pop and Crazy Antis

One of the popular K-pop boy bands out right now is 2PM, managed by JYPE. I don't really listen to their music, but have seen them on variety shows (Star Golden Bell). Their leader, Jaebeom, is a Korean-American from Seattle and evidently he wrote some stuff on his MySpace page about not liking Korea. I can understand this since there's a lot of stuff I hate about China since I've been traveling to Chengdu (there's a lot I like too), and I bitch about it here. However, the stuff Jaebeom posted was from 2005, while he was still a teenage trainee at JYPE. In Korea, K-pop is like politics here in the US: if you make any small mistakes, people are ready to jump all over you. Antis petitioned to have him thrown out of the group 2PM, and some even said he should commit suicide. This is not funny of course, since pressure from crazy netizens have contributed to several suicides of Korean celebrities. The latest news is that Jaebeom quit 2PM and flew back to Seattle to be with his family.

To me, the celebrity antis in Korea are like the fenqing in China. They hide behind their anonymous avatars and say things that are way over-the-top, stuff they would be too scared to say to someone in real life. They also represent a tiny minority of public opinion but since they're loud and obnoxious, they get the most attention. I think Jaebeom should have apologized (he did) and continued with his music career in Korea. Maybe he'll be back later.

In other news, there's another K-pop girl band called f(x) that just debuted. Since I'm an ex-engineer, my first thought was function?!... I think it's supposed to be "effects" or something. This new group has 5 girls and is managed by SM Entertainment, same as SNSD. The interesting thing (to me anyway) is that 2 of the girls are Chinese, including the leader, Victoria Song. She's actually from Qingdao, China and attended Beijing Dance Academy. Since she's the oldest, SM made her the group leader. Hmm, I wonder how good is her Korean. The other Chinese member is the rapper, Amber Liu, from Canoga Park so she is probably learning Korean too. Another member, Krystal Jung, was born in San Francisco and is the younger sister of Jessica from SNSD. They're actually pretty talented, judging from their first few performances.

Victoria is the one on the left

My Korean friend Sunny thinks Lee Soo Man is evil but he's an evil genius when it comes to K-pop.

LA chA TA - Music Core (Sept 5, 2009)

She's really good. Even the English is pretty decent though she's native Korean.

Counterfeit RMB

I read online that counterfeiters are producing more ¥50 and ¥20 bills. I've kind of gotten used to people checking out my ¥100 bills that I just got from the Bank of China but now I have to worry about smaller bills.

I did get a counterfeit ¥50 bill once, or at least my friend though so. We were buying some bike locks and getting a key made from a locksmith. I think the total was ¥30 so I gave him a ¥100 bill. After showing my friend the change, she freaked out and dragged me back to the locksmith. She said the ¥50 was fake and was going to call the police unless he gave us smaller bills. He did so without comment so maybe the ¥50 was fake.

What do you do with a fake bill? I think in China, you try to pass it off to the next guy quietly. If you bring it to a bank, they'll probably detain you and confiscate your "money" as evidence.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Top Ten Cities in China with the Most Beautiful Women

Woohoo! Chengdu is #3!

China Hush (translation)
Original post in Chinese
3. Chengdu | 成都

Pure as the eye solution
Score: 93

Because of the moist and nutritious soil of Dujiangyan (都江堰), City of Chengdu appeared in this small plain, a gentle and rich, prosperous land. Chengdu girls are particularly good looking.

Chengdu girls have delicate and white skin and they do not seem to like the heavy make-up. Whether she is a working class, or a school girl, they are mostly light on the make-ups, but the natural beauty is truly amazing. Chengdu girls are like the city, vaguely reveals a faint, lazy, leisure scent. Their beauty is like a soft kitten.

Maybe the only drawback of Chengdu girls is that they are not very tall. But it can also be a good thing if you appreciate the petite style. Therefore, if you want to have a romantic story, it is best to find a girlfriend in Chengdu. No wonder that foreign men in Chengdu all have the same sigh “Married too early”.

Jane Zhang is also from Chengdu

Kung-Fu Panda

OK, not really. I think they were more playing than fighting. The video was ~500MB so I had to upload it to YouTube instead of directly to Blogger.

Swine Flu in China

BBC News
China's health minister says the nation is facing a grim situation as it tries to contain a rapid surge in swine flu.

Chen Zhu said a vaccination programme would start this week, prioritising those taking part in events to celebrate National Day on 1 October.


Mr Chen says priority will be given to young students aged between five and 19, vulnerable groups such as those with respiratory diseases and pregnant women, and front-line public service personnel.

But he also revealed that the vaccination programme would start with those performing in the National Day Parade.

There are at least 200,000 official participants, plus thousands of security police.

According to the BBC's China analyst, Shirong Chen, they have been pushed to the front of the queue not just because it is a huge public event that carries national pride, but because all the top leaders and dignitaries will be in Beijing.

The authorities cannot afford the political risk of any infection there, our correspondent says.

So there will not be much vaccine left for others on the priority list for now.

Sigh... you can always cancel or scale back the 60th anniversary propaganda show but that will be political suicide for anyone that suggests it. Maybe they should hand out 200,000 surgical masks instead and let pregnant women and the elderly get the vaccines.

There were quite a few people on my CX flights last week wearing masks. I thought the consensus was that masks, especially the surgical ones, are only useful for preventing the wearer from infecting others. Almost all the public workers I saw at Beijing airport were wearing the same flimsy masks too. I'm 100% sure all these people were not watching out for other people's health... that's not the Chinese way.

I did buy a few N95 respirator masks for our trip to China last week but that was more for the smog and air pollution. Those masks are slightly more effective than the surgical masks against flu viruses but are harder to breathe through. The air quality in Beijing was okay so we didn't use them.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chengdu Tricycle Ride

30 second clip of our very unsafe tricycle ride through the streets of Chengdu. It was electric and got going pretty quick; too bad there's no matching suspension. Half-way through the clip, we rode/drove by a girl sitting on a stool talking on the phone with her legs wide open. Sorry... reflex.

China Family Trip - More Chengdu Pictures

Some more vacation pictures:

Advertising Burberry fragrance outside Pacific Department Store on Chunxi Road.

My dad's friend's relatives came to meet us for lunch on Sunday. They brought us to a Chengdu cuisine place which means lots of little dishes... kind of like dim sum but you get your own plate/bowl. This dish had some tofu (good), some rabbit meat (ok), and duck tongue (not ok). Do ducks have tongues? Is that why they talk funny?

I think each of us got ~25 dishes. There were eight of us so it was a lot of dishes to wash for somebody in the back.

Street fruit vendors. They all seem to have the same fruits: apple, pear, rambutan, and dragon fruit.

The Haiyatt Garden Hotel (no, not Hyatt) is located above a Japanese department store chain (Isetan) in the pedestrian shopping area. In the afternoon, it gets harder and harder to hail a taxi. Whenever one would show up, lots of people would run up to fight it. Being a capitalist country, these guys on scooters would come and offer rides to people waiting, usually at a higher price than the taxi fare. Here, the guy on the black scooter is trying to fit a cello between his legs while the other scooter has a passenger with a violin... train wreck waiting to happen. Fortunately, the two girls were able to hail a taxi so this whole operation was aborted.

I was sitting in a coffee house with my dad for about 3 hours so I took a lot of pictures of the scooter "taxi" brigade.

After the (huge, 17 passenger) van picked up my parents, sister, and Rebecca to take them to the airport, my friend and I walked around the Chunxi Road shopping area for awhile. Here she is eating some type of internal organ (heart?) on a stick.

After watching people fight for a taxi the entire afternoon, I found myself in the same predicament. My friend also bought a piece of luggage so we were carrying it while looking for a taxi. The scooters looked really unsafe but we were tired of walking so we ended up on a electric tricycle. Very unsafe.

The guy charged us ¥15 for a ¥5 taxi ride. Oh well. I got a couple of videos out of it though. Very unsafe.

Macau (I think) from the air

China Family Trip - Pandas!

Bronze(?) statue at the park entrance

It just rained the night before so it was really humid. There were a lot of bamboo growing in the park and we felt like we were in some kind of rain forest.

A lot of exhibits were closed so we didn't see anything for the first 3o minutes. Finally... a panda.

More pandas. We saw four individuals at the adult giant panda enclosure.

The panda on the left was taking a nap for a long time. The panda in the middle was eating bamboo then climbed up to nap too. The third panda (on the right) was the troublemaker. The three of them ended up playfighting for about 15 minutes. I will upload a video later; not sure if there's enough bandwidth on my free HKIA wireless connection.

I'm the dragon warrior!

A lot of people showed up. We stood next to a couple of white guys... Americans by their English and commentary (on the video).

Round 2. The panda in the middle was trying to continue his/her nap when the other two came back to harass him/her again.

There was also a pond (Swan Lake) in the park. There were a lot of koi fish.

Black swans