Friday, December 31, 2010

Sistar Photo

From Twitter... they must have won some kind of award.

Hyolyn (the one holding the award) has a pretty good voice.

4Runner Fixed

I picked up my 4Runner earlier today. I had brought it in two weeks ago and the diagnosis were bad U-joints. Well, the vibration got really bad a few days ago while we were in Torrance. I managed to get the car home, driving 50 mph on the freeway, and dropped it off yesterday at my new mechanic's shop. He was able to get new U-joints without having to buy a new driveshaft so the final bill was ~$450, including the initial diagnosis cost. I just drove it home and it seemed fine. He showed me the old U-joints that lasted ~135,000 miles. The roller bearings were all shot so the joints did not rotate freely thus causing the vibration.

Next project: fix/replace the inside wheelwell cover on the Z.

If anyone is looking for a good mechanic in OC, I recommend Andy.

Socal Motorworks

808 W. Angus Ave Suite B
Orange, CA 92868

Dance K-pop Style 2010

LOL! Canadians...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

華麗的冒險 - 魏如昀

華麗的冒險 - 魏如昀

I think her English name is Queen Wei and she's a finalist on an "American Idol"-like TV shows in Taiwan. The song is originally by Cheer Chen (陳綺貞).


Here's the original MV:

華麗的冒險 - 陳綺貞

니까짓게 - Sistar

New song by Sistar... I think the title translates to "How Dare You" but Google Translate barfed all over this one.

니까짓게 - Sistar

I think they're my new favorite K-pop group... this week. The one wearing shorts is Bora, who did a faceplant during a performance in the rain.

Blog Comment Troll, Part 2

Wait, there's more! Safely hidden behind Internet anonymity, the personal insults continue...
Anonymous said...

Okay, let me try to explain this internet thing to you. I googled "Newsong noc service times." Your blog pops up. This means that whenever someone puts in Newsong noc or something akin to it, your blog goes up as a result. This means that random people who know nothing about what occurred with the lead pastor, such as myself, find out about this terrible happenstance with no other context. This means you are publishing exceedingly personal information about a person and his family without regard to its effect and it appears you do so because you are, at worst, a vengeful, attention-hungry jerk or, at best, an irresponsible, immature, ignorant and thoughtless little child. So, though you received this e-mail because apparently you were in the CAM and part of the Newsong family, you are hereafter distributing it to people not in CAM and not in Newsong. The question then is why do you continue to post this blog and continue to spread privately-obtained information on your blog? Would you be as happy if someone were publicizing your privately-executed sins to the world?
Dec 29, 2010 9:37:00 PM

How do you argue with willful ignorance? Remember, I posted one paragraph saying that something happened at NewSong NOC, the senior pastor stepped down, and I wish he reconciles with his family. This comment troll has wasted a lot of his/her and my time on imaginary issues. I'm not really pissed at the troll anymore; obviously Internet anonymity and likely some personal emotional issues have brought out the worst in this commenter.

Original post + comments: NewSong NOC Scandal?

Amazingly, after three long and insult laden comments, the anonymous troll has not asked me to do anything. It's all been about how terrible a person I am and how I must be hiding sins. Weird...


Ironically, all these comments and posts will probably move this non-issue up on the Google search results. I'm surprised that my one insignificant post comes up so high on a Google search for Newsong NOC (#8 and the first non-official NewSong hit).

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Blog Comment Troll

I guess at point, every blog gets its share of spammers and trolls. I get a lot of spam comments already but this week I got my first troll. I was going to ignore it but he/she is very persistent... and both extremely rude and insulting. As my three readers know, I stopped attending NewSong NOC about two years ago. Last summer (2009) I got some emails from Pastor Peter Park and other CAM (Creative Arts Ministry) members about Brian Kim stepping down as senior pastor. I made a short post about that fact, and hoped he reconciles with his family.

Post: NewSong NOC Scandal?

18 months later, an anonymous commenter, who freely admits not knowing anything about NewSong (he/she didn't even know the service times), reads my blog post. Instead of finding out actual facts (not sure why it's even interesting to outsiders), he/she decides to make up their own context, and leaves a couple long comments laced with wild unsubstantiated assumptions and personal insults towards me.

Here's what I wrote:
I just found out that the lead pastor is stepping down because he "violated his marriage vows." I'm not sure what that means exactly and I don't have more details. He is married and has two young children. I hope it's not a Mark Sanford type meltdown and things work out between him and his family.

And here's the comment thread so far:
Anonymous said...
I have to wonder why you've posted this on your blog and why you've let this "scandal" remain here. In the context in which you've posted it, it sounds like you're some vengeful jerk who was mad at the topic of the sermon so you've decided to ravage this guy and his family. Real classy. What would be just as interesting and rightfully yours to publish would be the stuff you do at your computer late at night when you think you're all alone and no one will find out about it. Or any of your other sins you so assiduously keep hidden on this fabulous blog of yours.
Dec 26, 2010 5:32:00 PM

Anonymous said...
Yes, I'm not a member of Newsong NOC or of Newsong Irvine, so I don't know who you are. I genuinely wish I did, so I could talk with you in person. Do you see how the leadership of Newsong did it? They told the members of NOC and Irvine; they did it, I assume, respectfully and not in some gossipy, trashy fashion such as you've done here. I googled service times for Newsong NOC and stumbled upon your incendiary crap. Unfortunately. Hey, buddy, quit crying about my comments. You published it, deal with the consequences of your actions. Zero facts, indeed. You've provided me with everything I need to conclude you're an immature kid looking to be noticed. I'm fascinated by your self-confession that your 14+ hours working the sound system somehow makes you like a super-special Christian. The good news is despite this blog, despite your desperate desire for regard and attention, despite your incredible smallness, our God is bigger. Taking you to task on this is my personal mission. I'll try to find out who you are from the NewSong people and hopefully we will chat in person.
Dec 29, 2010 7:15:00 PM

Sigh... zero facts and a whole lot of baseless accusations. Now I have my own stalker who's "personal mission" is to harass me on my blog. Great.

We'll see at the end of all this whether my troll is mature and responsible enough to apologize for all those insults hurled my way. I'm not going to hold my breath...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Little Fat Sheep

We went to a hot pot place in Hacienda Heights for dinner. I think I've been there once before but they moved to a new location within the same shopping plaza. It's more of a Taiwanese style hot pot place so it's different from restaurants in Chengdu.

Since there were 5 + 2 of us, we ordered two separate pots. This is the half/half pot with original and spicy soups.

My parents and I just got the regular soup base. The spicy soup base is also different from what we had in Chengdu, which is more of a spicy oil than soup.

We ordered only one serving of each ingredient and shared it across both pots.

The soup base has some Chinese medicine stuff in it but was pretty good. We managed to finished almost all the food we ordered. The total bill came out to ~$120; in Chengdu, four of us had hot pot for dinner and it only cost ~$20.

Religious Persecution... in China

AP News
Benedict's traditional holiday speech highlighted the tensions between Beijing and the Vatican and the dangers facing minority Christians in Iraq, where militants have used violent attacks to try to drive them out of the country.

"May the birth of the savior strengthen the spirit of faith, patience and courage of the faithful of the church in mainland China, that they may not lose heart through the limitations imposed on their freedom of religion and conscience but, persevering in fidelity to Christ and his church, may keep alive the flame of hope," Benedict prayed.

In recent weeks, tensions have flared anew between the Vatican and Beijing over the Chinese government's defiance of the pope's authority to name bishops and its insistence that prelates loyal to Rome promote China's state-backed church.

Chinese church officials did not immediately comment late Saturday on the pope's homily.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Last Christmas - Foxxi misQ

Thursday, December 23, 2010

833+ Million Cell Phones?

This article suggests that there are over 833 million cell phone subscribers in China.
November saw the net addition of 8.86 mln new mobile subscribers. China Mobile (NYSE: CHL; 0941.HK) added 4.62 mln new mobile subscribers, pushing the operator's total mobile user base to 579.64 mln, of which a total of 18.84 mln subscribers used China Mobile's TD-SCDMA terminals during the month.

China Unicom (NYSE: CHU; 0762.HK; 600050.SH) added 0.6 mln new GSM subscribers, bringing its total GSM user base to 152.75 mln, and added 1.12 mln subscribers to its WCDMA 3G network, for a total of 12.78 mln WCDMA users.

China Telecom (NYSE: CHA; 0728.HK) added 2.51 mln CDMA subs, taking its total to 88.02 mln.

China Mobile = 579.64M
China Unicom = 152.75M + 12.78M
China Telecom = 88.02M

Does that number seem high? That would mean everyone in cities (622 million urban residents) and ~20% of the rest (732 million rural residents) has a cell phone number. I hope they're not just counting the available SIM cards out there. Also, I wonder how they come up with the ~400 million Internet users in China. From news reports, it looks like a survey. How accurate is that compared to every other inflated statistic coming out of China?
The survey, based on a count of residents who said they used the Internet in the past six months, found 29 percent of China's 1.3 billion people are now net users.

우린 친구가 될 수 없어

There are a lot of girls in K-pop named Lisa so I don't know if she has released other songs before. This one is pretty good.

우린 친구가 될 수 없어 - Lisa with Brian

Brian is Brian Joo from Fly To The Sky. I think he was born in the US. Another music show translated the song title as "We Can't Be Friends".

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Culture of Violence

BBC News
In China earlier this year a spate of violent attacks by intruders who targeted schoolchildren shocked the country.

China's response was to step up security around schools.

But one academic in Shanghai believes the attacks may have been a symptom of a more serious issue.

The upheaval of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 70s, he says, could have created a generation who see violence as the only answer to their problems.

If he is right it could be that as that generation hits middle age, and many of them start to feel left behind in China's rapidly changing society, they are hitting out.

Can this explain why everyone is so rude in China?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Boryeong Mud Festival

Way To Go + Etude + Genie - SNSD

More K-pop performance in the rain. I think Seohyun loses a shoe around the 9:00 minute mark. Good thing none of them got a faceplant like Bora.


Sigh... they should stop holding concerts in the rain, or at least keep the stage dry. I read that she (Bora) broke her thumb during the fall.

She came back and finished the song though.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gran Turismo 5 B-Spec

I bought Gran Turismo 5 for my PS3 and just playing the game. One "feature" is B-Spec mode where you "manage" the race instead of actually driving the car. For GT5, you basically tell your driver to speed up/slow down/maintain speed/pass... that's it. It's very similar to the B-Spec mode in GT4 but you only had one driver. In GT5, I think you can have a whole team of drivers and change during the race.

Only problem? There is no fast-forward like in GT4. For long races, such as the 24 hours of Le Mans, you used to be able to fast forward and finish the race in ~8 hours. Well, no more. For long races, you need to keep your PS3 on, wasting electricity. Who decided to leave that option out of GT5? Stupid...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Unhappy Meals

LA Times
A Sacramento mother and the Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a lawsuit Wednesday against McDonald's Corp., alleging that its practice of giving toys with children's meals is deceptive to children.

The organization had been threatening to sue McDonald's since last summer, claiming that the Happy Meals toys constitute a method of circumventing parental control and teach children unhealthy eating. The complaint, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, also accuses the company of false advertising.

The lawsuit alleges that "McDonald's exploits very young California children and harms their health by advertising unhealthy Happy Meals with toys directly to them" and that "children 8 years old and younger do not have the cognitive skills and the developmental maturity to understand the persuasive intent of marketing and advertising."

In a call with reporters, Monet Parham, a Sacramento mother of two, said she was bringing the case because of the constant requests for McDonald's Happy Meals.

That's lame. I haven't enjoyed a Happy Meal from McDonald's for a long time but I remember eating them as a kid growing up in Canada (I don't think there were McDonald's in Taiwan in the 70's). I think this kind of stuff should be left up to the parents.

It's interesting that they brought the lawsuit to a San Francisco suit even though the woman lives in Sacramento. The city of SF just banned Happy Meals; hopefully the courts are more sane than the kooky SF Board of Supervisors.

Second, the LA Time does a poor job of fact checking. "Sacramento mom" sounds awfully suspicious... let's see, what else is in Sacramento? Turns out the woman works for the California Department of Public Health as an advocate for Network for a Healthy California. That doesn't mean she can't file a lawsuit but now we can see the politics behind it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Beijing Suicide

I just talked to my friend in Beijing; she's already up (3:30am) since she just got a call for an emergency surgery scheduled at 6:30am. She now has to go to the office to grab some stents then run to the hospital, all in -5°C weather. Since Thursday is her "no car day", she can drive to work but has to take a taxi or the subway to get to the hospital. The "no car" time runs from 7am through 8pm.

She also had an emergency surgery last night. Unfortunately, after 5 hours in the OR, the patient died. She said the patient was a 35 year old female and pretty looking; she tried to commit suicide by stabbing herself because she found out her husband was having an affair. The stent was used to try and repair a blood vessel but the surgeon was ultimately unsuccessful in saving her life. My friend said that the patient kept staring at her during the surgery, until she finally passed away. Ugh... I don't think I can handle that job.

This is not uncommon. She gets quite a few emergency calls for surgery due to attempted suicides... almost always female patients whose husbands are having affairs. Sigh... they need more mental health and counseling resources in China.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Starcraft 2 Multiplayer

I installed the retail version (i.e., non-pirated) of SC2 on my (slow) computer and tried a multiplayer game in beginner mode. It's a lot harder than it looks on replays. I'm not very good at multi-tasking and sat around doing nothing for a good portion of the game. My opponent ended up loading like a million marines and flooded my base using dropships. Afterward, I looked at my stats and realized that he had almost 2x the units I had.

Maybe I'm too old for this... :(

More Car Problems

Sigh... I'm getting a weird noise and vibration on the 4Runner. I took it in to a repair shop today and they said it was the u-joints. Evidently this is pretty common for older 4Runners. Depending on whether Toyota can find the right parts, it will cost me $82 to $612 just for u-joints plus drive shaft. I don't think I need a new drive shaft but supposedly they come in a set. :(

Since my sister is coming to town tomorrow, I'll need to drive it a bit more so it probably won't get fixed until the last week of December. If they're still going to Vegas, then they probably need to take my parent's Camry.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

350Z Wheel Well Cover

It looks like that blown tire I ran over will cost me even more. I just noticed that the inner wheel well cover on my Z is gone again. I lost it once when I got a flat on the front right tire on the 5 freeway. It cost me ~$200 to replace. I guess the impact of the blow tire last week knocked it off again. The plastic tubing connecting to the windshield wiper reservoir is exposed again... crap.

Leading Worship

I played guitar for the English service at CCCSB this morning. It's the first time in ~10 years that I played guitar for worship. During a quick rehearsal in the morning, I broke the G (3rd) string on my Taylor; I had just changed the strings about a month ago. Luckily, the English pastor had some old strings and I replaced it in time. It was a weird feeling since I led worship at the same church for many years.

My ex-mother-in-law still attends the same church. I think she's trying to avoid me but I said hi to her anyway.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

New Blog Platform

Someone at NewSong NOC asked about different blogging platforms and tumblr got a lot of recommendations. I started with Xanga and moved to Blogger but I'm always open to new stuff. I'm going to try out tumblr and see if it's better at handling audio/video posts than Blogger. The other big blog platform is WordPress... I already have a WP account but have not done anything with it.

If anyone cares, here's my tumblr test site -


Hmm, the tumblr site seems really really slow...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Blown Tire and Stupid Drivers

I hit a blown tire driving home tonight. It not that big of a deal if I was driving the 4Runner but I was driving the Z today and it felt like I hit a rock. After I got home, I saw a huge black mark on my front air dam... not sure if it's rubber from the tire or if the paint job got rubbed off.

At first I thought it was another truck tire. However, as I got close to my exit on the toll road, I saw a car stopped in the right lane. All along the toll road, I was noticing a lot of debris being kicked up on my car. Well, it appears that this car, an older model Lexus LS, had blown it's front left tire, probably the one that I ran into 10 miles ago. The wheel was on its bare rims and I could tell that it's been scraping the road surface for miles. The car itself was smoking like crazy, probably due to the heat of driving on its rims. Crazy... and stupid.

Empty Chair

Thursday, December 9, 2010

News Blackout

New York Times
Chinese censors apparently began blocking the news Web sites of CNN, the BBC and the Norwegian broadcaster NRK from appearing in China on Thursday, a day before the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is to be held in Oslo to honor Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned dissident.


China has not said that it is intentionally blocking the news Web sites of the broadcasters, but Chinese censors regularly black out some portions of CNN and BBC television broadcasts when delicate political topics are covered. This happens even though CNN, BBC and other international television channels are largely limited to five-star hotels and luxury apartments that cater to foreigners.

In recent weeks, CNN and BBC television broadcasts have repeatedly gone dark in China during news segments about the Nobel Prize’s being awarded to Mr. Liu, only to reappear after the segment is completed.


Asked whether Chinese censors were blocking foreign Web sites that carried news about the Nobel award, Ms. Jiang said: “I am not aware of the problems you mentioned about those Web sites. But I can tell you that the Internet is open in China, and is regulated in accordance with law.”

A spokesman at CNN, a division of Time-Warner, confirmed that CNN’s Web site did appear to be blocked in China.

The British broadcaster BBC said on its own Web site that its news site was apparently being blocked in China.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Invincible Youth Canceled

Oh well... all things must come to an end sometime. I've actually watched every episode since the pilot back in October 2009. I just read that they filmed the last episode this week in Korea and the show will be canceled due to low ratings. The beginning of the end was probably when Sunny, Yuri, and Hyeona left the show during the summer.

Photo from Hara's Twitter feed

That's two canceled shows from KBS that I record frequently. :(

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Orange Caramel Single

Cute... but sounds a lot like their last song though.

A-ing - Orange Caramel [Music Core 20101120]

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chinese Censorship

During dinner with Sindy's extended family, I asked her if she knows about the Nobel Peace Prize. She said she did and even knew that Obama won it last year. I asked her if she knew who won this year. She did not, and was surprised when I told her a Chinese guy won the prize. She asked around the room and no one else knew except her cousin's husband. He works for Adobe and they get their Internet through a VPN connection via Japan so it's uncensored.

These were all college educated people living in the capital city of the 2nd largest economy in the world. From my conversations, it seems that they really don't understand multi-party democracy, (relatively) corruption-free capitalism, multiculturalism, and political dissension at all. Sad...

Monday, November 29, 2010

2010 Beijing Trip, Home

Yawn... I had to go to work today after arriving at LAX last night so I'm really tired. In addition, I scheduled a root canal for this morning so I was at the dentist office bright and early at 9am... or 1am Beijing time.

The rest of my Beijing trip was pretty uneventful after the ski trip. Here are some more photos:

Sindy had to go to a surgery Friday morning so I slept in again at the hotel. It didn't take too long so she came back to the hotel around 11:30am. For lunch, I decided that I would cook the spaghetti that we bought on Tuesday at her parents' apartment. Their kitchen was really small and they didn't have too many pots. Anyway, the pasta is cooking on the left, I had already heated the canned sauce (Hunt's spaghetti sauce with Italian sausage), and I'm heating up the garlic bread on the right. Originally, they could not find a can opener but her father eventually found a "Swiss" army knife which had a tool that opened cans very slowly. I think it turned out okay for canned sauce; I would have preferred to cook the sauce from scratch but that would have taken too long.

After lunch, Sindy went to get her hair styled at the salon downstairs. It was a really small place but it was packed with chairs and there were about 10 hairdressers (mostly guys) standing around. Her "regular" guy was off that day so some random guy was working on her hair. It took about 20 minutes to style with a brush and hairdryer, and he finished up with some gel and hairspray. Total cost: RMB15 or ~$2.25.

For dinner, we went to a Korean BBQ place with her extended family. I'd met everyone already the last time I was in Beijing. Before dinner, we checked out her cousin and his wife's new apartment. I think they bought it in 2008 for ~RMB750k and they said it was worth almost 2 million RMB now. It was a one bedroom apartment out by West 4th Ring Road.

As usual, they ordered too much food. I think for 9 people, the total bill was ~RMB600 or about $10/person. This was not including the bottle of wine and moutai (~RMB1000) that her uncle brought from home. I think everyone was full but they ordered a few bowls of cold noodles 냉면 and stone pot rice 돌솥비빔밥.

After dinner, we went to a KTV place in the same shopping mall. The place was really crowded so we were only able to get a small sized room. It got really warm since we packed all 9 of us in there (no additional girls). I think we sang for ~3 hours and left a bit after midnight. The lobby was still packed with people waiting for a room. Crazy.

The next day, we were planning to go to Tianjin by high-speed train. I was going to visit John and Jenn but they went to Japan for the week. However, since I didn't get back to the hotel until after 1am, we got up late and decided not to go. Instead, we took a trip to Ikea. I read an article in the LA Times about the Beijing Ikea before and had always wanted to see how it compares with the huge Ikea in Costa Mesa. It took us forever to find a parking spot so I was expecting the worst. This is the entry/lobby and the store was laid out the same way as all other Ikea stores I've been to.

It was crowded. There's probably 10x the amount of people compared to the Ikea stores in LA.

Swedish meatballs! I never had them here in the US so I don't know how they compare. We got 10 and only ate 9 of them.

Almost every seating/sleeping display was covered with people Here you see 5 people on one bed, with two people laying down. It's hard to visualize the furniture in your house with all the Chinese people in the way. I'm not sure why everyone was sitting around so much... are they tired? The LA Times article said people went to Ikea to escape the summer heat but this is wintertime and it was pretty cold outside.

The cafeteria was packed full of people. They were serving more than Swedish meatballs; there were some Chinese dishes and other Western food such as spaghetti(!) w/meat sauce and steaks. We just got some meatballs for a snack and had to wait for a table.

Lots of meatballs. They were just okay. Sindy also got some strange spicy cold noodles; I think she said it was a Chengdu dish. I don't think I've ever seen it all the times I was in Chengdu.

What she really wanted was the RMB3 hot dog, which was sold next to the checkout area. It was not too good (for me anyway). We also got some RMB1 soft serve cones. While walking around, she picked up some minor kitchen items. We had these in the large yellow Ikea shopping bag. Not knowing the checkout process, I put the bag on the conveyor belt. Typically in the US, the cashier would probably ask you nicely to take the items out and put the bag in a bin in front of the conveyor... perhaps he/she would even do it for you. However, this is China so you get Chinese customer service. The cashier basically threw the bag at me and rudely yelled at me to take the stuff out of the bag. WTF? Up until that point, I could have been at an Ikea in the US... except for the thousands of Chinese people in the store. Sindy also asked her politely if she could use her credit card to pay for the 3 items. This same cashier gave her an annoyed look and pointed at the card reader. Sheesh... if this was in the US, I think I easily could have her fired. If that person worked for me in any type of customer service role, I would have fired her.

For dinner, we went to a Sogo department store near my hotel. The original plan was to go to a steakhouse but we ended up at the food court. Like most food courts, you have to purchase a meal card and deposit some money. When you're done, you have to line up again to turn in the card and get a refund on any money that's left on the card... pain-in-the-ass. Not learning my lesson, I got a bowl of noodles with BBQ pork and it was just as bad as the bowl I got at Vancouver Airport. Very disappointed.

Sindy bought some cold noodles and a bowl of something. It was not that good either but better that my bowl of crappy noodles.

The next and last morning in Beijing, I was woken up by what sounded like war but turned out to be fireworks celebrating a wedding... twice. It was really really loud. I packed, went to Sindy's parents' apartment to pick up more stuff to bring back to the US, and had more homemade dumplings for lunch. Her dad made 100+ dumplings and wanted me to take some back to the US. Hmm, raw meat... yeah, that would be easy to bring across the border.

My flight was delayed about an hour when I checked in online. When I got to the airport, the display board didn't show the delay... panic! Turned out the display board was not updated. We ended up having some mechanical issues which delayed us for another hour at the gate. This was my flight: AC030 from PEK to YVR on a Boeing 767-300.

I ended up having ~30 minutes to connect to my YVR to LAX flight but I posted about that already. This was sunset at ~5pm as we were coming in to LAX.

At every other airport outside US, even at places like Chengdu and Sanya (Hainan Island), they have free luggage carts available. At LAX, you have to pay $4 (except for Bradley). I saw puzzled looks on foreign visitors' faces as they try to unsuccessfully grab a cart from the stack.

As I was waiting for my check luggage, this girl walked by wearing a pageant ribbon with "Marissa" written on the back, which I assumed was her name.

Intrigued, I tried to get a front shot from across the room at max zoom. The sash read "Miss South Col...something"... don't know if she was coming back from somewhere or attending a pageant in LA.

Leslie Nielsen

RIP - I found out that Leslie Nielsen died when I got back from China (it wasn't on the news there). He was in a few of my favorite movies (Airplane! and The Naked Gun) and also had the best movie quote ever:
I am serious. And don't call me Shirley.


Yup, OJ Simpson was in The Naked Gun. I wonder if he still receives royalties each time it's shown... and whether that money goes to the Goldman family.

No Mo' SGB

It appears that Star Golden Bell (Korean variety show) is no more. It has been replaced with something called Oh! My School. The first subtitled episode is on tonight on KBS World so I'll record it and see how it is... it's supposed to have a similar format and guests as Star Golden Bell.

Wealth Rationing

That's what these "scientists" are basically proposing...

Telegraph UK

Global warming is now such a serious threat to mankind that climate change experts are calling for Second World War-style rationing in rich countries to bring down carbon emissions.


In one paper Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said the only way to reduce global emissions enough, while allowing the poor nations to continue to grow, is to halt economic growth in the rich world over the next twenty years.

This would mean a drastic change in lifestyles for many people in countries like Britain as everyone will have to buy less ‘carbon intensive’ goods and services such as long haul flights and fuel hungry cars.

Prof Anderson admitted it “would not be easy” to persuade people to reduce their consumption of goods.

He said politicians should consider a rationing system similar to the one introduced during the last “time of crisis” in the 1930s and 40s.

This could mean a limit on electricity so people are forced to turn the heating down, turn off the lights and replace old electrical goods like huge fridges with more efficient models. Food that has travelled from abroad may be limited and goods that require a lot of energy to manufacture.

What a bunch of hypocrites. How big was the "carbon footprint" for this Cancun boondoggle? I just increased the thermostat program in our house by ~4 degrees since my mom was complaining that it was too cold. Should I tell her to freeze because some guy who probably flew in on a private jet and staying in a 5-star resort in Cancun said we should?!

BTW, the 1930s and 40s were not a good time for Chinese people. No frigging way "climate change" is a crisis comparable to WWII.

Qantas A380s

BBC News
A Qantas A380 passenger jet has taken off in its first flight since one of the planes suffered an engine explosion earlier this month, officials said.

The A380 is travelling from Sydney to Singapore, and then London, three weeks after the Australian airline grounded its flights following the incident.

Qantas says the aircraft have undergone extensive work and are safe to fly.

I had a window seat on my flight from LAX to YVR last Saturday and we taxied right next to where Qantas parked their A380s. I didn't get a photo but I saw three grounded A380s with their engine covers removed. That's a lot of hardware depreciating on the ground.

Photo of A380 at LAX from August

Sunday, November 28, 2010

2010 Beijing Trip, Vancouver Again

Wow, US Dept of Homeland Security is a PITA. Transiting in Vancouver on the way to Beijing was really easy. All I had to do was go through Canadian customs and since I was not staying, they didn't really care. On the way back, I had to go through several checkpoints to get to my connecting flight to LAX. At least I'm "in" the US now and don't have to go through the Bradley arrival nightmare.

After landing, you hand all your documents to some guy who checks that you do have a transiting flight to the US. Then you have to go through security again. We just got off the plane and have not been outside the secured area. It's as if DHS doesn't believe that security is as good as TSA or something. After security, you wait in a room until someone calls you to look at a photo of you luggage. Once that happens, you then clear US Immigrations, then hand your blue form in to one more person. That's six people... I think this is probably part of Obama's economic stimulus plan.

Since I had to check in my bag, I only have my backpack with me. I now see how much crap people try to carry-on with them. While walking to my LAX flight, some guy from China (I saw his passport) cuts me off and nearly runs me over with his 4(!) pieces of carry-on luggage (roller, computer bag, and what looks like two trash bags). He seemed to be in a big hurry, asking everyone how far to his next gate/flight. At the security line, it took him forever to get all his crap onto the conveyor and even then, he still didn't remove his wallet and belt, and proceeds to set off the metal detector. Now he just showed up at the same gate as me... if his seat is near mine and he takes up all the tiny luggage space on the Embraer plane, I'm gonna be really pissed.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Ugh, my TV has been tuned to CCTV-9 the entire morning; CCTV-9 is the English channel from China's state TV network. Right now there's a political talk show call Dialogue and the host is a total ass. The topic was supposed to be about perceptions of China internationally but he keeps harping about how the US is the cause of everything bad in the world. When his guests try to give a more balanced view, he cuts them off and then puts words in their mouths. He even blames the slow economic development in Africa on the global economic crisis "caused" by the US. It's just one loaded question after another to his guests.

Why? Who is the target of all this English CCP propaganda? CCTV (and Xinhua) are not really seen as trustworthy news sources both inside and outside of China. Surely no one in the Western world watches CCTV-9 for news analysis. Is it targeted towards foreigners inside China? Also, I'm bothered by the Chinglish accents of most anchors/reporters. I don't expect everyone in China to speak English well but if you want to run an English language TV station, at least get people who can pronounce words properly.

2010 Beijing Trip, Endovascular Grafts

Yesterday, I basically stayed in my hotel room the entire day. Sindy came by in the afternoon but immediately got a call about a surgery scheduled for this morning. For each surgery sponsored by her company (more on that later), she has to go back to work and pick up products. In this case, after talking to the surgeon, she decided to bring 4 stents to the OR this morning.

There were two stents in each plastic box; the boxes came up to about my chin. Sindy said they charge ~RMB100k per stent so we were carrying about US$60k of product with us around Beijing.

I went with her by taxi back to work last night ~7pm since it was her no-car day (based on license plate number) in Beijing. Traffic was pretty bad as usual on the 2nd Ring Road and it took us about 45 minutes to go ~10 miles. After picking up the package, we went back to her parents' house via subway. Her office (Huapu Garden building) is right next to Dongsishitiao (东四十条) subway station. The subway was pretty crowded as well since people were still getting off work but it was faster than going by car. I felt a bit weird carrying $60k of medical devices through the subway but Sindy said one time she carried a box with 20 stents or ~$300k of product. Good thing the boxes are printed in English so most people won't know what's inside.

Why are we carrying medical devices around Beijing at night? The medical system here works a lot different from the US. In this case, Sindy's company are sole sales reps for Cook Medical's (US company) endovascular grafts. When there's a surgery scheduled, the patient actually pays her company for the entire surgery. Her company then pays the OR surgeon who then pays the medical support staff and hospital for their services. Therefore, if the patient do not pay for the surgery for some reason, Sindy's company takes the hit. After paying the surgeon (officially and under-the-table), product cost to Cook, and other sales and marketing expenses, the owners make ~RMB10k per surgery.


Jovi, the Japanese fusion restaurant we ate at on Monday is very near Sindy's office. They have 2 Beijing locations currently and plan to open 13 more. Judging by the low number of diners when we were there, I'm not sure short skirts will draw enough business over the long run.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

2010 Beijing Trip, Skiing

That's right, skiing in Beijing. We actually tried to go on a three day trip to Jilin, which is northeast of Beijing. There they have real mountains and ski resorts but it's too early in the season so we settled for indoor skiing. Sindy found discounted tickets (RMB168 per person including ski rentals) online so off we went.

The ski place is right outside of Beijing but still about an hour's drive away. Sindy didn't know how to get there so we took a bus. It was really windy and cold in the morning so we decided to drive to the bus terminal at Dongzhimen Station instead of taking the subway. This is the route map for bus line 915 express. The fare for the entire route was only RMB10 but since we had a transit card (I bought one a few years ago), it was only RMB4.

Bus 915 runs quite often and wasn't too full. Sindy says it fills up on Friday as all the workers from the surrounding rural area goes home for the weekend.

We had to transfer to a minibus somewhere on the outskirts of Beijing (beyond the 6th Ring Road) to get to the ski area. We told the ticket girl which stop we wanted to go and she deducted the amount from our transit card using a hand scanner.

The bus let us off at a stop near the ski resort; not sure why they didn't let us off at the front door since there was nothing else around. We had to walk ~10 minutes to get there... good thing we weren't carrying skis. You can see the two "runs" at the back of the building. I read somewhere that the longer slope is 260m long and the bunny slope is only 150m.

When we got there, there were only ~10 cars in the parking lot. Once you check in and pay, they give you a badge encoded with your payment information. The first station you come to is for lockers. You can change into your ski clothes (available for rent), put your shoes in the locker, and put on a pair of slippers. Next is ski boot rental, followed by ski rental. I had to check my running shoes to get the right size; they use European sizes in China (my US size 12 = EUR 45.5). I was a bit worried when they just gave us our skis with asking all the questions I'm used to hear (height, weight, ability) so they can adjust the bindings. They also gave me really short skis; I guess they don't want people to go too fast since the runs are so short.

They tried to mimic the look and feel of an Alpine ski lodge, I guess.

Looking up the larger slope. They didn't have real chair lifts but something equivalent to a t-bar lift. I have never used one of these before so it took a few tries before I figured out what to do. The downside is that you don't get to sit and after awhile, your legs get really sore from standing while being pulled uphill.

The top section of the longer run is slightly steeper than the bottom but still not too bad. Probably rates a low blue square in difficulty. The snow was hard packed since it's man made (obviously). The one problem with being indoors was the lighting was uneven; it was hard to tell if there were bumps or ice in the darker sections. On my second run down, I wiped out and smacked the back of my head pretty hard. My neck is all sore now... this is probably what it feels like to get whiplash in a car accident.

Sindy has been skiing a few times but never took lessons. I tried teaching her in Chinese but wasn't making much progress. We decided to get her a real instructor; they only charged RMB150 per hour. At the end of the hour, she was snowplowing well down the bunny slope.

Bunny slope. Instead of the "t-bar" type lift, there was a conveyor belt lift that brought you up slowly.

Basket where you deposit your slippers after putting on your ski boots. We left ~3pm (our whole day ticket was good until 6pm) and the place was more crowded. When we got there at 11am, there were only <10 pairs of slippers in the basket.

After skiing for ~3 hours, we had to walk back to the bus station, wait for the small minibus, which was packed with people, then transfer to line 915 back to Dongzhimen. There was a lot of traffic so we didn't get to Sindy's car until 5pm. Even then, it took her another hour to drive to my hotel and drop me off. I was so tired from skiing, the bump on the head, and jet lag that I crashed (after a shower) for 3 hours. She then came back to pick me up for dinner at her parents' house. I feel bad since I wasn't too hungry and her parents waited until 9:30pm for us to eat.

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It's now about 4pm on Thursday afternoon. Sindy had to go to work this morning so I've been in the hotel room blogging. I finally went down to breakfast at the hotel and the food was lame... even worse than Jinghu hotel in Chengdu. And what's the deal with warm OJ?!

2010 Beijing Trip, Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving! It's Thursday morning in Beijing and everything useful on the Internet is still blocked by the GFW of China. I finally got out my SecurID dongle and logged into the company VPN so I can check Facebook and post some blog entries.

I arrived in Bejing on Sunday afternoon after a 12 hour flight from Vancouver. Air Canada uses a Boeing 767 on it's YVR-PEK route and the plane is much smaller than other Transpacific flights I've taken in the past. The seating arrangement in economy is 2-3-2 vs. 3-4-3 in 747's and 777's. The flight wasn't too full and I managed to get the inside three seats on row 24 by myself. Even then, it was hard for me to sleep and I ended up watching several movies (finally saw Inception and some Japanese samurai movie). The in-flight food was awful too... much worse than what you get on Cathay Pacific.

Air Canada has a pretty cool touch screen entertainment system. One hour down, 11 more to go.

Mood lighting. Business class was lit with reddish lighting.

My friend in Beijing, Sindy, picked me up from the airport and promptly got lost on the Airport Expressway. She drives okay but likes to stop in the middle of the road to read signs or call friends for directions when she is lost. It's a bit disconcerting when she stops in the right lane (not shoulder) of a 3-lane highway and pulls out her cell phone. Anyway, we managed to find our way to her parents' house to have dinner. The entire time, their TV was tuned to CCTV-5, which is the national sports channel, and it was non-stop Asian Games coverage. As expected, the games are dominated by China, South Korea, and Japan, with China taking the most medals. After dinner, she drove me to my hotel, which is only a few blocks away, and I checked in.

View outside my hotel room (8th floor of Rishengchang Hotel, looking west)

Hotel room. I found the hotel online and reserved it through This is the "business" class room which is ~45 m2 vs. the cheapest room at ~25 m2. After fees and stuff, the room costs RMB450 per night. I think if I just walked in from the street, it would have been ~RMB100 more.

A lot of hotel have a big glass window between the bathroom and the bedroom. Not sure why... maybe it's so you can keep an eye on unfamiliar female visitors.

The next day (Monday), I went back to Sindy's parents' house for lunch. This time, her father made some beef pastries and we also had some porridge. Sindy had some coupons for cheap movie tickets and we went to see Harry Potter 7. Thankfully, it was in English with Chinese subtitles so I could (mostly) follow what was happening. The reviews haven't been all that good and I could see why. The entire movie felt like a setup for the next movie even though this was the last book in the series. I don't remember the story in the book being all that confusing. For dinner, Sindy brought me to a place called Jovi, which was a Japanese restaurant. The menu prices were pretty high but they had a RMB138 all-you-can-eat special. Basically you can order whatever you want on the menu for few hours. The food was just so-so but the restaurant is supposedly know for short skirts. All the female waitresses had the same uniform which had short flared skirts and they all wore thigh high black stockings. This was so-so too...

Dinner at Jovi. The decor was pretty modern but so were the prices. RMB138 is ~$20. I didn't get any pictures of the waitresses.

Sindy was ordering a lot of items but she said that everything was really small. We ended up getting too much stuff and left several items uneaten when we left.

Since my Tianjin friend (John Chen) and his family went to Japan this week, I really don't have anything planned in Beijing. Without anything to do, Sindy and I went to a new shopping mall next to her parents' apartment. They said it was opened a few months ago but there were still a lot of unopened stores. It had six floors of shops and restaurants along with a multiplex movie theater. We walked around for an hour and the only thing I bought was a ping pong paddle. Since it was right next to a Carrefour, we did some snacks shopping for Wednesday's ski(!) trip. Carrefour is a French market chain, similar to Wal-Mart in China. I was still pretty tired jet lag so I went back to the hotel right after dinner (we ate in the shopping mall).

Papa John's pizza. I was surprised to see it in a new mall in Beijing since they're not that common in the US. I haven't tried pizza in China yet.

Storefront with lots of inflatable pools for babies to swim. Most people don't have bathtubs in their apartment. Sindy's parents have a showlet (toilet + shower in one).

It was ~3pm when we got there and the place was pretty deserted. The one store I wanted to visit (electronics) was still closed. There was a large H&M clothing store on the first floor. I've never heard of the brand until I found out my cousin works for them in Beijing.

Kobe fan

All the escalators were placed randomly around a central opening that spans the entire six floors. It takes forever to go up and down though.

Subways. There were lots of these too. Still no In-N-Out anywhere to be found yet...

We sat in a coffee shop for awhile. Around 5pm, a lot of the restaurants had employee pep talks outside. I've never worked in a restaurant... do they do this in the US too?

We ate dinner in a Chinese "fast food" place: kung pao chicken bowl and mapo tofu bowl. It was not too good and I didn't have any appetite in the first place.

This post is getting too long... I'll put pictures from the "ski trip" on the next post.