Monday, January 31, 2011

Chinese "Justice"

New York Times
Chinese Man Who Bragged of Privilege Gets Six Years

SHANGHAI — A Chinese court on Sunday sentenced a 23-year-old man to six years in prison for killing one young woman and injuring another in a drunken-driving accident that drew public outrage in China.

The case became a sensation because witnesses said the suspect, Li Qiming, had tried to flee the scene of the accident in October and evade responsibility by stressing that he was the son of a senior police official.

His words — “Sue me if you dare. My father is Li Gang!” — quickly became a cynical catchphrase to describe various forms of corruption in China and a symbol of the growing divide between the elite and the underprivileged.

Meanwhile, some guy that avoids toll road fees by using military plates gets life in prison (original verdict overturned and case is on hold). Six years seems kind of lenient for driving while intoxicated, killing one pedestrian and injuring another, and attempting to flee scene of accident. I think being Li Gang's son was useful after all.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chinese Top Gun

Literally...

Ministry of Tofu
Xinwen lianbo, or News Broadcast, on China Central Television, comes under fire again for its report of an air force training exercise on January 23. In the newscast, the way a target was hit by the air-to-air missile fired by a J-10 fighter aircraft and exploded looks almost identical to a cinema scene from the Hollywood film Top Gun.

A net user who went by the name “刘毅” (Liu Yi) pointed out that the jet that the J-10 “hit” is an F-5, a US fighter jet. In Top Gun, what the leading actor Tom Cruise pilots an F-14 to bring down is exactly an F-5. Looking at the screenshots juxtaposition, one cannot fail to find that even flame, smoke and the way the splinters fly look the same.

It's pretty obvious from the screencaps that CCTV blatantly stole video clips from Top Gun.

I guess the question is why? Did the air force actually shoot missiles and did they hit anything? Was there no footage... unlike the "stealth" J-20 with photos and videos galore? Even if they did hit something during the exercise, I'm 100% positive it's not a F-5 fighter. Could they just pay Taiwan for an animated footage?!

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Latest from NMA.tv

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Spring Festival Train Tickets



OK, it's not that bad. The picture is from Guangzhou in 2008 when snowstorms forced lots of cancellations. However, my friend in Beijing said she drove her friend to the West Beijing train station to buy tickets for [can't remember where... somewhere west] and it was a complete zoo. After waiting for hours and hours, they were told that the tickets were sold out. Her friend is under a lot of pressure from in-laws to make the trip back to her husband's hometown so the grandparents can see the grandchildren. I suggested that the CCP should decree that Chinese New Year will be celebrated 4 times per year and you're assigned to one of the quarterly dates based on your national ID number. What's a communist dictatorship good for if you can mandate stuff like this?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year

Wow... I think Liu Xiaobo is going to have some new cellmates.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Greed

I found out something at work that is really obscene and I am both disgusted and disappointed. Yet I can't bring myself to quit... and give up my unvested RSU's.

Ugh, I feel like such a sell-out... :(

More Crazy China Driving

I just spoke to Sindy, my friend in China. She had to host a ski party for her clients this weekend at a resort near Badaling, about 2 hours outside of Beijing. Most of them went by minibus from PLA Hospital 301 but she had to pick up someone at the airport. On the way to the resort, she missed the exit by ~50m. She then stopped her car and drove in reverse back to the exit. Since the shoulder was blocked, she did this in one of the driving lanes! Aiya! The client was too scared to ride so he got out to watch for traffic and walked back to the exit.

I keep telling her to just go to the next exit then figure out a detour. It's way too risky to stop on the highway just to save a few miles of extra driving. Sigh...

Maybe only half the drivers are really bad in China. The other have need to drive really well to avoid the crazy half. Since California accepts driver licenses issued by any jurisdiction, I agreed to let Sindy drive on her next trip here... now I'm having second thoughts.

Friday, January 21, 2011

East to West - Casting Crowns


East to West - Casting Crowns

Chorus 1:
Jesus can You show me just how
Far the east is from the west
'Cause I can't bear to see the man I've been
Come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
'Cause You know just how
Far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other

Verse 1:
Here I am Lord and I'm drowning
In Your sea of forgetfulness
The chains of yesterday surround me
I yearn for peace and rest
I don't want to end up where You found me
And it echoes in my mind
Keeps me awake tonight

Verse 2:
I know You've cast my sin as far as
The east is from the west
And I stand before You now
As though I've never sinned
But today I feel like I'm just one mistake away
From You leaving me this way

Verse 3:
I start the day the war begins
Endless reminding of my sin
Time and time again
Your truth is drowned out by the storm I'm in
Today I feel like I'm just one mistake away
From Your leaving me this way

Bridge:
I know You've washed me white
Turned my darkness into light
I need Your peace to get me through
Get me through this night
I can't live by what I feel
But by the truth Your word reveals
I'm not holding on to You
But You're holding on to me
You're holding on to me

Chorus 2:
Jesus You know just how far
The east is from the west
'Cause I can't bear to see the man I've been
Come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
'Cause You know just how far
The east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other

Ending:
One scarred hand to the other
From one scarred hand to the other

Fire Fall Down - Hillsong United


Fire Fall Down - Hillsong United

Verse 1:
You bought my life with the blood
That You shed on the cross
When You died for the sins of men
And You let out a cry crucified
Now alive in me

Verse 2:
These hands are Yours
Teach them to serve
As You please and I'll reach out
Desperate to see all the greatness of God
May my soul rest assured in You

Pre-Chorus:
I'll never be the same
No I'll never be the same

Chorus:
'Cause I know that You're alive
You came to fix my broken life
And I sing to glorify
Your holy name Jesus Christ

Verse 3:
You've changed it all
You broke down the wall
When I spoke and confessed
In You I'm blessed
Now I walk in the light
In victorious sight of You

Bridge:
Your fire fall down
Fire fall down
On us we pray
As we seek
Your fire fall down
Fire fall down
On us we pray
As we seek

Ending:
Show me Your heart
Show me Your way
Show me Your glory
Show me Your heart
Show me Your way
Show me Your glory

Consuming Fire - Tim Hughes


Consuming Fire - Tim Hughes

Verse 1:
There must be more than this
O breath of God come breathe within
There must be more than this
Spirit of God we wait for You
Fill us anew, we pray
Fill us anew, we pray

Chorus:
Consuming Fire, fan into flame
A passion for Your name
Spirit of God, fall in this place
Lord, have Your way, Lord, have Your way with us

Verse 2:
Come like a rushing wind
Clothe us in power from on high
Now set the captives free
Leave us abandoned to Your praise
Lord, let Your glory fall
Lord, let Your glory fall

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Guest List for State Dinner for China’s Hu Jintao

Wall Street Journal

Who makes up these lists? Do they just invite random Chinese people? WHY WASN'T I INVITED?! :)

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How come Michelle Kwan doesn't get to bring a date?

Chinese Human Rights

I hate it when they write/say this:
China has made remarkable economic progress in recent years. Tens upon tens of millions of Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty. Today the majority of Chinese enjoy living standards that would have seemed impossible 30 years ago.

China's citizens also have many more freedoms than they once did, to choose where they work, who they marry, to communicate over the internet and to travel abroad. President Hu is saying this change will continue.

30 year ago is 1981, 5 years after the end of the Cultural Revolution. Of course China is "better" now in comparison because Chinese society was almost destroyed 30 years ago and 100% of the blame goes to Mao and the CCP. The proper comparison would be to look at different countries and societies in 1949... what has the CCP done in the past 60 years? They don't get a pass on human rights today just because they f*cked up the country from 1950-1980. All the Asian countries were messed up after WWII; why can't we compare Chinese human rights to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, etc?

The second paragraph in the quote is super lame too. Are we to celebrate that Chinese people can "choose where they work, who they marry" today?! Why was that right even taken away in the first place? It's like a slave saying he's grateful that his owner is only beating him every other day now... way better than when he was beaten everyday. Ugh.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

You Are Good - Israel & New Breed


You Are Good - Israel & New Breed

I've been helping out at CrossPointe (CCCSB's English ministry) for a few month now, playing guitar and bass, and running sound. This week, Uriah picked an Israel Houghton song for worship. I've play a few of his songs at NewSong NOC but always on bass. However, I'm playing guitar this Sunday and I can't seem to get the gospel beat down.

The original chords are also a bit problematic but I figured out how to simplify them using a cut capo. At least I'm not singing... otherwise I'll probably mess up even more.

Embedded MP3s... 4shared.com

Hmm, if I can steal code from tumblr and embed their MP3 player in Blogger, could I do the same with my 4shared account?


니까짓게 - Sistar
tumblr audio player with 4shared MP3 file

Since the tumblr audio player is pretty ugly and has no UI other than a play button, I tried to find another Flash audio player to embed.


니까짓게 - Sistar
Google audio player with 4shared MP3 file

It all seems to work but this is my 2nd attempt. I tried earlier to embed another MP3 on 4shared using the Google player and it couldn't load the MP3 file. Strange.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Embedded MP3s... One More Try

In my never ending quest to embed MP3 audio files into Blogger, I've stolen HTML code from my tumblr blog and pasted it below:


Crazy For You - Nana Tanimura 谷村奈南

It looks like the code works but the only drawback is that I have to upload the MP3 file to tumblr, and they only let you upload one audio file per day.

==========

Hmm... the song skips a bit every so often, yet appears to play fine on the tumblr site. Can't tell whether it's a buffering problem or if it doesn't like my unauthorized embedding/linking to another blog site.

Here's another song I uploaded to tumblr a few weeks ago:


니까짓게 - Sistar

==========

Arg! This song skips too. It must be something with tumblr to keep people from using their server and bandwidth for blog posts on a competing site. :)

BTW, this is post #1600 according to Blogger's dashboard.

Crazy for You - Nana Tanimura 谷村奈南


Crazy for You - Nana Tanimura 谷村奈南


More images from Google search

Her bio says she just graduated from law school. Do singers make more than lawyers?

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Oops, it looks like it was an undergraduate degree in the College of Law at Aoyama Gakuin University. I don't think I've seen an undergraduate law degree here in the US; I thought you need a graduate degree (Juris Doctor) to be a practicing lawyer.

Anyway, I hope she keeps singing instead of practicing law since they don't make many videos of lawyers in action.

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Internet proves me wrong again...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Welcome Hu?

Ministry of Tofu
Chinese President Hu Jintao is about to visit the United States later this month. Meanwhile, Chinese consulates and student associations in U.S. universities are gathering steam to mobilize students’ interest. Multiple Chinese student associations based in and near Washington D.C. and Chicago have issued notices saying that those who register with the welcoming event on the streets can get allowances ranging from $20 to $80 and their food and travel cost reimbursed.

Despite the fact that Hu Jintao gave the directive himself last April that the protocols of diplomatic trips by Chinese leaders need reforms and that organizing large crowds of Chinese expats and students at an airport should not be required, the embassy and the consulates have started a new bout of marshaling.

Eh? It was "required" before for overseas Chinese people to "welcome" visiting leaders to their country? Heck, I'll go see Hu and wave a flag for $80.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Toll Road Life Sentence Update

Here is a more in depth article from Global Times.
A national scandal over a farmer who was sentenced to life in prison for evading millions of yuan in toll fees took a dramatic twist over the weekend.

The farmer, who had been convicted of faking military car plates in order to evade the fees, saw the ruling overturned by the Higher People's Court in Henan Province when it determined there was not enough evidence to convict him.

The announcement came amid a heated public debate over the severity of the punishment and a day after dramatic scenes that saw the man's younger brother turn himself in to police, asserting that the licenses had been purchased from local military personnel.

Shi Jianfeng, 43, from Yuzhou, Henan, had been sentenced by the Pingdingshan Intermediate People's Court in mid-December to life in prison for driving two of his trucks along the Zhengzhou-Yaoshan highway 2,361 times from May 2008 to January 2009, evading more than 3.68 million yuan ($557,800) in fees, as the vehicles had military plates.

Being a finance guy, the numbers still don't make sense to me. Assuming that both trucks were driven each day, then the average was ~4.4 trip per day per truck, with a toll fee of ~US$236 per trip. In addition, the driver had to pay 1.2 million RMB plus 5000 RMB per month to the police/military. What is he hauling that he can afford such hefty fees?

Even the article's numbers don't make sense.
The toll fee is 0.11 yuan per kilometer for ordinary trucks, according to Jin Yuwei from the Henan Highway Department.

But if found to be overloaded, the toll fee could be up to 15 times that of an empty truck, Jin said, saying a truck with 70 tons of cargo would have to pay about 2,700 yuan to travel 100 kilometers on the highway.

For 100 km trip, the toll fee should be 100 km x 0.11 yuan per km = 11 yuan. Even at 15x for an overloaded truck, the fee is 165 yuan... where did they get the 2700 yuan number? RMB2700 is ~$403. The most expensive toll (5 to 6 axle truck) for the 241 toll road in Orange County is ~$23 for a 40 km trip which scales to ~$60 for 100 km. However, the weight limit for a single vehicle in California is 80,000 lbs or ~40 tons... but still, a $400 toll fee for a 60 mile trip seems ridiculous. Somebody is getting ripped off.

Anyway, I've spent waaaaay too much time on this. It looks like there will be a retrial; hopefully they put the toll road "robber barons" and the military police that "sold" the plates on trial too.

Toll Road Life Sentence

Whew, I'm glad I have a transponder... wouldn't want to risk life in prison for not paying toll road fees.

BBC News
Shi Junfeng said he - and not his elder brother - had put military number plates on the vehicles to evade tolls of 3.7m yuan (£350,000;$560,000).

The case caused an outcry in China, with many questioning the harsh sentence given to Shi Jianfeng.

The court in Henan province had already ordered a retrial.

Shi Jianfeng had been found guilty last week of evading the fees over a nine-month period while delivering sand and gravel in two trucks. The court ruled he had used military number plates, meaning the vehicles could avoid paying road tolls.

He was sentenced to life in prison, a fine of 2m yuan and the loss of his political rights. He also had his illegal earnings confiscated.

So many questions...

1. How can he have racked up that much toll fees in 9 months? Even in two trucks, that's $280k per truck or ~$1000 per day. How can you possibly incur that much toll road fees? The Airport Expressway in Beijing is ~20km long and costs RMB10. If we use that rate, then $1000 converts to about 13,400km... per day!

2. I've always said that the justice system in China is messed up but this is ridiculous. People get months in jail for vehicular manslaughter yet avoiding toll road fees deserves life in prison? Maybe the police/prosecutor made up the crazy toll fee amount so he would be "eligible" for life imprisonment?

3. Maybe they're punishing him for using fake military plates. I've heard many stories about cars with military plates abusing all sorts of traffic laws. I can understand waiving fees if they need to move military assets over toll roads but why does every private car with military plates above the law?

This is so wrong in so many levels... even for China.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Trend - Piggy Dolls

Whoa... I thought their group name was kinda weird.


Trend - Piggy Dolls

It kind of reminds me of the group Big Mama (also Korean) though they seem um... larger. You know if they aren't thin and don't look like models, they gotta sing really really well.

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On second thought, why do they need to have names like Piggy Dolls and Big Mama? Other girl groups have relative normal names like Secret, Rainbow, Heart and Mind (which unfortunately abbreviates to HAM), etc. Do they think that if they don't mention they're "large" in the group name, people will wonder if they know they're fat? Strange...

Friday, January 14, 2011

China to Air Pro-China Ad in U.S. During Hu Visit

Wall Street Journal
China’s State Council Information Office, or SCIO, confirmed to China Real Time yesterday that it has hired a local advertising agency, Shanghai Lintas Advertising, to produce a commercial to be aired in the U.S. ahead of President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington, D.C. next week as part of a broad effort to soften China’s image abroad.

The commercial– “part of our annual working plan,” said an SCIO employee familiar with the effort–is supposed to depict Chinese people from different walks of life, including famous public figures like NBA player Yao Ming. The spot will air in the U.S. first, during Mr. Hu’s visit, followed by Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. It will also be available on the Internet, according to a report on government Web portal China.org.cn.

Efforts to improve its global image are part of China’s latest five-year plan, which calls on the government to “promote vigorous development and prosperity of socialist culture and the soft power of national culture,” in part by improving “external propaganda work and culture exchange, to innovate the ‘Going Out’ strategy for cultural industry and to enhance the international competitiveness and influence of Chinese culture.”

The CCP doesn't get it. The problem is not just PR but the CCP itself... I think the apt expression here is "putting lipstick on a pig."

You can see their strategy of equating Chinese culture/history to socialism but it's simply a lie. We keep hearing about the 5000 years of Chinese history but PRC is only 60 years old. My guess is that most Westerners have no issues with the Chinese "people" but rather the oppressive policies of the CCP.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Car Mileage

I got gas for the new car on the way home from work. The manual didn't "require" super unleaded gas but it was highly recommended so I paid $3.519/gallon at the Mobil/Exxon down the street.

For the first tank of gas, the trip computer said I drove ~35mph on average and calculated my overall fuel efficiency at ~24.6 miles per gallon... not bad for a 3.5L V6 rated at 290HP. I think slightly more than 1/2 the miles were highway miles so I don't know if the CVT is better on gas mileage than the ol'5-speed auto transmission in the Z.

Half The Sky Orphan Update

I renewed my support for an Half the Sky orphan for another year ($600) and they sent me an update on him.



I knew from the beginning that he was missing part of his right arm (右前臂缺如) but these are the first photo where it's plainly visible. Poor kid. :(



This is the text of the update:
发杨模仿能力很不错,教他喊“爸爸、妈妈”他会立即叫出来,我用手摸摸他的
小脸,他也会伸出他的小手来摸摸我的脸,我亲亲他的脸,他也会立即转过头来亲
亲我的脸。他喜欢到祖祖室去和小朋友们一起玩耍,他看见有他喜欢的玩具,他会
从性的小朋友们手里抢下来,玩高兴了,他会笑出声来。

发杨能慢慢的爬行了,我手拿着玩具,在前面逗他,他用正常的手向前爬动,用
另一只残缺的手撑在地板上,慢慢的向前爬着,这样来回的爬。

发杨能扶着床栏站立一会儿了,我抱着发杨时,他会双脚弯曲,踩着我的肩膀往
上爬,我对他说,会摔跤的,他看了看我,咯咯咯的笑。

发杨的活动量也大了,喜欢来回的爬动,看见椅子放在靠墙边,他也会去攀爬。

Monday, January 10, 2011

MP3 CD Player

My new car has a 6 CD changer that plays MP3 files. I burned ~70 songs on a CD-R and tried it out this morning. First, the car stereo does not display CJK characters so there were a lot of blank spaces. Next, the player only recognized 15 songs; it gave me an error message (forgot what it said) for the rest.

I looked in the manual and the MP3 file specs seem fine: 8kHz-48kHz and 8kbps-320kbps + VBR. Then I read the fine print under CD format:
Files saved using the Live File System component (on a Windows Vista operating system-based computer) are not supported.

Dang it. Doesn't anything work with Vista?!

Airline Tickets

Dang it. My parents need to fly up to Portland next week and tickets are only $69/each way. I check my itinerary for early next month and it's still $69/each way; I booked for $104/each way last week.

I guess I shouldn't complain. I thought $104 was a good price already. It's always the comparison shopping that gets me.

Beijing License Plate

Sindy told me about this earlier. My first thought was to have her enter the lottery for me. I'll probably never drive in Beijing much less buy a car, but if I "win" the license lottery, I can definitely sell it to someone else. Leon had the exact same thought.

Beijing News (translation from Danwei)

Beijing introduces cap on new car registration

To alleviate urban traffic congestion, Beijing started a cap-and-lottery issuance system intended to curb automobile growth.

According to the new policy, starting on December 24th, Beijing will issue 240,000 new car license plates until the end of 2011. The plates will be allocated by a lottery system. Eligible applicants include Beijing residents, non-Beijing residents who have lived here for at least five year and paid tax, foreigners and companies. However, car owners are banned from applying for another license unless they sell or scrap their old vehicles.

Prior to announcement of the policy, Beijing had seen an eruption in car sales due to buyers' fear that they might not be able to get a license. Yesterday, the last day before the limit taking effect, over 9,000 units of vehicles were sold in Beijing, making the total number of automobiles exceed 4.8 million.

Dang... I'm not eligible. :)

Mao's Great Famine



I bought this book (hardcover!) from Amazon last week. I originally found out about a Chinese-only book on the subject (it's being translated) and an Amazon search led me to this book by Frank Dikötter.

My 3 regular readers already know what I think about Mao and the CCP (not good), but just reading the preface of this book make me depressed. 40+ million people dead... that's more than the current population of Canada and Hong Kong combined! It's sad that the political system in China is so corrupt and rotten that they can't openly discuss history. The only "lesson" the CCP wants to study is how to stay in power.

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Here's a review from The Guardian.

Frank Dikötter has written a masterly book that should be read not just by anybody interested in modern Chinese history but also by anybody concerned with the way in which a simple idea propagated by an autocratic national leader can lead a country to disaster, in this case to a degree that beggars the imagination.

The basic narrative of the great famine that hit the People's Republic around 1960 has been known outside China at least since Jasper Becker's groundbreaking 1996 account, Hungry Ghosts. Its claims were doubted by those who could not accept the sheer monstrous scale of the calamity visited on the Chinese people as a result of the Great Leap Forward launched by Mao in 1958 to propel China into the ranks of major industrial nations. But now Dikötter's painstaking research in newly opened local archives makes all too credible his estimate that the death toll reached 45 million people.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Lena Park CD


Cover Me Vol. 1 - Lena Park

Uriah gave me a copy of her sister's latest CD. :)

Tracks:
1 You Mean Everything To Me
2 Everything Everything! (Reprise)
3 편지 할께요
4 P.S. I Love You
5 몽중인
6 나의 하루 (Live)
7 Vincent
8 바람에 지는 꽃 (Live)


2009 Korea Times Music Festival


You Raise Me Up - Lena Park + Jessica (SNSD)

Segway Tour

A friend from church bought some tickets for a Segway Tour of Long Beach through Groupon (how come I only get spa and massage offers?) so yesterday afternoon, we headed to The Pike. The 4 of us were joined by 3 other people and the tour lasted ~2 hours. BTW, I'm a bit sick & tired of the entire "The XXX" trend, such as THE Block, THE Spectrum, THE District, THE Grove, etc. It just feels pretentious and now overused... maybe I should rename Random Thoughts to THE Blog!


None of us have ever ridden a Segway. When I first got on, it was kind of wobbly and I couldn't keep it stationary. However, after a few minutes, it became more natural and actually quite easy to control. When riding the Segway, you're considered a pedestrian so we had to stay on the sidewalks, though I heard you can't ride these on THE Strand in Hermosa/Manhattan.


Crossing over Queensway Bridge on the way to Queen Mary/Spruce Goose (oops, moved to Oregon)


In front of Hotel Maya on the other side of the bridge


Steering arm and control module on the Segway i2


Looking across the Los Angeles river channel(?) back towards downtown Long Beach


The Queen Mary


Short 5 minute break. If you don't lean the Segway on something, it tends to roll forward and fall over.


Rainbow Harbor light house (it doesn't really work)


Long Beach Shoreline Marina


Rainbow Lagoon Park by the Hyatt Regency

Friday, January 7, 2011

More Food Please!

OK, this is kind of trivial but it's lunch time...

There is one food station in the cafeteria that serves Chinese/Indian food. Usually the server behind the counter is an Indian (looking) guy. He is super stingy with the servings. For Chinese food days, I would usually get some of the tofu item (it's laid out like Panda Express) and normally I would get 2 or 3 pieces of tofu. Lame. Occasionally, there's a white guy serving and he piles on the food. Sometimes, when the servers are doing something in the kitchen, the old Chinese guy cooking has to serve; he's somewhat in the middle on serving size.

Today it was the white guy behind the counter so I have lots to eat for lunch.

New Car

I finally got rid of the 350Z and picked up a 2011 Nissan Maxima. Ironically, it has the exact same engine (VQ35DE) but it puts out a few more horsepower. However, since it as a CVT (continuously variable transmission), I'm not sure how much reaches the front wheels. Yeah, it's FWD but that wasn't too important.



I financed it for now to get a $500 rebate. I'll probably pay off the loan in a few months. The finance manager tried really really hard to get me to buy extras that would have cost $4500. Eventually he came down to $1550 for a 4 year extension on the warranty. I was seriously considering it but the fact he kept calling it a 7 year warranty instead of +4 years really bothered me. That plus I wasn't too happy about the trade in value I got on the Z but there was a bunch of small things I had to fix before selling it myself. Oh well, it's only money.

==========

I mostly enjoyed driving the Z most of the time but occasionally it felt like it was still Shirley's car. I was leaning towards buying a G35 coupe way back in 2004 but we ended up buying the Z. Now all I have to do is get rid of the 4Runner (wedding gift).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Not Another Computer?!

My dad's Dell E1705 notebook computer is having problems. It has two internal fans and one of them has been semi-busted for a year now, making all sorts of noise. I think he was just going to ignore it but now it's giving me svchost errors. I'm not sure of the exact problem but he installs lots of apps to watch Chinese videos... some of those apps come from China so I'm worried he may have a virus/worm/etc.

Since the computer is "out of warranty", I decided to buy him a new one. Initially I was going to give him my Asus netbook and replace it with a Mac Air. However, I use the netbook to travel and to remote access my computer at work; I don't think it's possible with a Mac right now. After searching around, I decided to get him a Dell 2305, which is an all-in-one desktop, kinda like a iMac.



It comes with an AMD processor, 3GB of RAM, 320GB hard drive, and a built-in 23" monitor... probably enough to last him for awhile. The only issue will be that it runs Windows 7 instead of XP. I'll probably have to spend this weekend helping him move all his files from the E1705 to the new computer. I originally bought the huge Dell laptop as my primary/game PC. Maybe I'll install SC2 on it to see how fast it runs.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

MRI Wait Times

There has been a lot of discussion equating ObamaCare with socialized medicine in Canada. I found this research article about wait times for medical care in Canada. Specifically on page 12, there is a table (chart 7) listing wait times for diagnostic tests by province. In 2010, the wait time to get an MRI in Ontario is 7.0 weeks or ~50 days. If you were in British Columbia, then the wait is a staggering 16 weeks. Insane.

I had a torn calf muscle back in 2008 and for a week, I was lying in bed in excruciating pain. When I finally got to see my primary physician, he sent me to the Hoag Hospital ER and they were able to do two MRI scans that afternoon. Sure it cost my insurance ~$5000 but I was diagnosed and on my way to recovery. If I was still living in Mississauga, would that mean I had to wait almost two months for the diagnosis? How is that possible? With a leg brace and physical therapy, I was almost back to 100% after 7 weeks.

Of course this is only one anecdote but it happens to be personal. I have a job and pretty good health insurance. I don't think I want to give it up for GovernmentCare.

Food Fight

IIRC, our cafeteria at work used to serve Chinese food once a week while Indian food was available the other 4 days. When we switched to Sodexo, that food station started serving Chinese food on Tuesdays/Thursdays, with Indian food the other 3 days.

I just checked the menu online and it seems for 2011, they switched to Chinese on M/W/F and Indian on Tu/Th. Not sure if someone complained... but the largest ethnicity onsite seems to be Chinese.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chinese Disasters, Politics, and Propaganda

Xinhua published an article showing photos from natural disasters that struck China in 2010. In the intro, there are several "interesting" paragraphs. Who writes this crap?

Xinhua
2010年,华夏大地经历了“冰火两重天”的考验。

春季,我国云南、广西、贵州、四川等西南省区遭受百年一遇的特大旱灾。持续的干旱使农作物大面积绝收,近千座小型水库、近万座小池塘干涸,2088万人饮水告急……

然而,人们没有想到的是,大旱之后还紧随着奔袭而来的暴雨和洪水,转眼间山村变“孤岛”,满眼尽是“泽国”。从珠江到长江,自淮河至辽河,全国共437条河流发生超警以上洪水。此次洪灾覆盖范围之广、持续时间之长、灾害损失之重、人员伤亡之多、社会影响之大均为1998年以来之最。

面对严重的自然灾害,在党和政府的有力领导下,全国人民紧急动员、风雨同舟,以惊人的勇气和力量,夺取了一次次防汛抗旱斗争的重大胜利,谱写了一曲曲感天动地的英雄壮歌。

专家指出,我国可能正在进入一个自然灾害频发的时期。一系列的自然灾害启示我们,必须坚持科学发展,保护我们赖以生存的环境,才能实现人与自然的和谐相处。

Fauna from chinaSMACK translates the last two paragraphs as:
Facing severe natural disasters, under the Party and the government’s strong leadership, the entire country’s citizens urgently mobilized, sticking together through thick and thin, with amazing courage and strength, and seized major victories again and again in the fight against floods and droughts, composing song after song of earth-moving heroic songs.

Experts point out that our country may be entering a period where natural disasters will frequently occur. A string of natural disasters teaches us that we must uphold scientific development and protect the environment from which we depend upon for our survival in order to achieve harmony between man and nature.

Really? I want to hear some of these "heroic" songs. Maybe they have them in the KTV bars already.

LA County Museum of Natural History

I went to the LAMNH across from USC with my sister and family last week. I don't remember coming here before even though I lived in LA for 25+ years and attended USC for ~4 years. After visiting the Natural History Museum in Washington DC (for free), I wasn't too impressed with the LA version and it's admission fee of $9/person.


Front door facing the LA Coliseum


There were a few dinosaur skeletons in the main entry. The full dinosaur display won't be ready until mid-2011.


What I didn't like about the LAMNH are the old scenic displays found in several halls. These look like they were set up a long time ago and don't convey much information. I think the newer displays incorporate much more interactivity and are more interesting.


Nieces standing under a stuffed(?) polar bear


Pets are not allowed but this was a hearing dog. I'm not sure how that works... the dog listens for noises and alerts the owner? I wonder what types of noise the dog responds to?


There were several tables with items (bones, fossils, shells, etc.) that kids can pick up and inspect. Here Addie has some type of antler and pretending to use it as a comb.


There was a strange fish displayed on the wall. We had to ask a worker/volunteer about it. It turned out that it's a deep sea fish and several have been found washed up on local beaches. There was a preserved one downstairs in a display case. Weird.
Update: it's an oarfish


Skeleton of a fin whale on display. The room was pretty cool... it was dimly lit and the fin whale skeleton was the only thing on display. There was a powered sub-woofer playing low rumbling noises that added to the atmosphere.

We stayed for about 3 hours, including watching two dinosaur "discovery" presentations where you "imagined" going back in time to learn about dinosaurs. It was kinda goofy but good for kids. They also had a guy wearing dinosaur "costumes" and he/she was actually really good, especially acting as a t-rex.

Monday, January 3, 2011

姐妹 - 張惠妹


姐妹 - 張惠妹

This appears to be a New Year celebration concert in Taipei. Her dress is kinda goofy looking.

Newport home sells for near-record price

OC Register
The beachfront Portabello Estate in Corona del Mar reportedly has been sold at or near the highest price ever tendered for an Orange County home..

Public records show that the contemporary, two-level estate once valued as high as $75 million sold privately on Oct. 20.

The price has been reported variously at $34.1 million to just under $40 million.

According to the buyer, the transaction includes both land and cash with a total value of just over $34.1 million — the third-highest amount ever paid for an Orange County home.



I don't have anything to add other than that Henry Samueli lives next door (left in photo) to this 22,000 square feet house. I went on a boat ride with some BRCM people many years ago (the boat owner let me drive/pilot his ~50 foot yacht) and we "parked" right offshore to look at this house.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Geography FAIL

video
(CBS didn't allow embedding on the video so I had to download it then upload directly to Blogger)

Three clues that it's not Hong Kong...

1. It clearly says "台北101" at the beginning of the video.
2. The reporter is speaking Mandarin instead of Cantonese.
3. Hong Kong skyline at night looks like this:

니까짓게 - Sistar (MV with English subtitles)

OK, last post on Sistar... lyrics are much different than what I imagined.


니까짓게 - Sistar