Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Good Riddance

LA Times
City crews were busy surveying the damage to the park surrounding City Hall, and erecting fences and concrete barriers around the block, hours after police evicted hundreds of Occupy L.A. protesters.

At 7 a.m., dozens of tents were still on the City Hall south lawn, collapsed and surrounded by the debris and belongings that were abruptly abandoned in the wake of the raid -- books, luggage, mattresses, folding chairs, miniature chalkboards, canned goods and jars of instant coffee. Not far from a newly installed security fence, static interspersed with music came from a small portable radio.

Peter Sanders, a spokesman for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said it would take eight to 10 hours to clean up the South Lawn.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wind Advisary

I heard on the news this morning that there will be very high winds this Thursday and Friday.
Currently the watch covers Los Angeles and Ventura county mountain areas. A high wind watch is a precursor to an actual advisory or warning. Because of the potential magnitude of this event, Southern California travelers should be attentive to and monitor the developing situation. Extreme atmospheric pressure differences resulting in winds as high as 70 mph. or more are a good possibility from Thursday morning Dec. 1st through late Friday, Dec. 2nd.

70 mph?! Not driving the SUV to work. Normally we get these Santa Ana winds during fall season though not typically 70 mph. These winds typically blow from east to west (towards the ocean), maybe flights at LAX will have to land in reverse flow again.


Looks like all the wind activity is north of the San Bernardino mountains... not much down in the populated areas.

Korean Airlines to Las Vegas

I saw a tweet that Sistar was returning to Korea from Las Vegas on KE006. It looks like Korean Airlines has three direct flights per week from Seoul/Inchon to Las Vegas. I thought all the Asians are gambling in Macau now.

Friday, November 25, 2011

TwitCasting K-pop

Since I traveled to Canada yesterday, I was unable to attend the K-pop Masters concert in Vegas tonight. I did find a link to someone livecasting the event on TwitCasting. He/she is offline right now, trying to conserve battery so they can cast Brown Eyed Girls. I just "watched" GN.A perform Top Girl; the audio was pretty good though the video was really bad, probably due to slow upload bandwidth.

Amazing technology...


I brought my new camera with me to Toronto and I took some plane photos (surprise!) at places other than LAX. It took 13 hours to get to Toronto (door-to-door) on Wednesday and about the same to get back today.

John Wayne Airport (SNA)

N835UA - United Airlines Airbus A-319

N530UA - United Airlines Boeing 757-200

N23721 - United Airlines Boeing 737-700

N125MX - Evektor Aerotechnik Sportstar Max (?)

N714CB - Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700

Chicago O'Hare Airport (ORD)

Connecting tunnel in Terminal 1 to reach 2nd set of United gates. This was oddly familiar though I can't remember transiting in ORD on United before. I practically never fly on United but because of flights on other Star Alliance carriers (Air Canada/All Nippon Airways), I had enough miles to get to Toronto on Wednesday.

N76504 - Continental Airlines Boeing 737-800 (this one hasn't been painted with "United" yet)

N199UA - United Airlines Boeing 747-400 (just landed from Hong Kong)

N983CA - United Express Canadair Regional Jet CRJ-200

N951TW - American Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-83

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Naked Travel

Sort of. I'm at John Wayne Airport traveling to Toronto via San Francisco. This is the first time in many years (10?) that I'm not carrying a computer. Instead, I only have my iPad, which I'm using to post this (free wifi at JWA). Since this is a short trip (1 day, 2 nights), I won't be doing any work anyway. It is much harder to type on a touchscreen though... and I can't post any photos from my DSLR since there is no SD card reader.


It appears that I'm on an Airbus A319 for both legs of my flight. For some reason I thought I was on a CJR-700 from SNA to SFO.


Dang it. My flight is delayed 90 minutes. Good thing I have a ~3 hour layover in SFO. Hopefully my next flight won't be delayed too. Hmm, what to do for 2 hours in JWA...

Friday, November 18, 2011

2011 Billboard K-pop Masters Concert

Next Friday in Vegas... both Sistar and Brown Eyed Girls. I really want to go.

Official Website

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tesla Model S

On a tour of several satellite buildings at work this afternoon, we walked through the Tesla Design Center that is right behind our main building. In the main building space, there were several full sized clay models being sculpted. I thought the Model S was finalized so I wasn't sure what they were working on. In the other area of the building, there was a beta version of the Model S Signature (not sure what that means). It had a California manufacturer's plate and the Tesla guy said they drive it to PR events. The huge center console display was pretty cool but I wasn't too impressed with the two jump seats in the back. It's a "seven" seat car like Bret's Porsche 911 is a "four" seat car.

No photos... though there are many on the Internet already.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Who is Chen Guangcheng 陳光誠

From Seeing Red in China

Please read... it will only take a few minutes.

Part 1 - A celebration of life on his 40th birthday
Part 2 - Fighting forced abortion and his trial
Part 3 - From a small prison to a big prison

From Part 2:
Confinement, Escape, Kidnapping, Beating, Imprisonment, Isolation

Beginning August 11, 2005, Chen Guangcheng and his wife were confined in their home and watched by dozens of people scattered around the area. In the night of August 25, Chen Guangcheng managed to slip out in the dark, shake off guards running after him, and eventually arrive in Beijing, but not without taking detours through Shanghai and Nanjing.

In the afternoon of September 6, 2005, six men who claimed to be Public Security officers, without showing any ID or legal documents, seized Chen Guangcheng and took him away in a Santana sedan (license plate 鲁B13237) in front of three witnesses, including a Chinese lawyer and Philip Pan of Washington Post.

Badly beaten in the car, that night he was taken back to Yinan County to a hotel room. On the morning of September 7, Liu Jie (刘杰), the head of Linyi Public Security Bureau paid him a visit. “It is enough to give you a five-year sentence just for being interviewed by Washington Post. Another interview, you’ll get ten years!” He then suggested that Chen Guangcheng withdraw from exposing the abuses. Chen refused.

After a 26-hour hunger strike, he was sent home, but was under close watch and not allowed to leave. In the following days his telephone was disconnected, computer removed, and cell phone signal disrupted. No outsiders were allowed to go into his house. He was completely cut off from the outside world.

From this time to early 2006, rights lawyers and other friends and activists, mostly from Beijing, visited Linyi hoping to meet Chen Guangcheng, but were beaten and turned away. Villagers who protested Chen’s confinement or who tried to help the visitors were repeatedly beaten and detained. More international media outlets reported what was happening in Dong Shi Gu, and human rights organizations called for his release. Chen Guangcheng himself was beaten several times, as was his wife.

On March 11, 2006, Chen Guangcheng and two others were arrested. By then he had already been under house arrest for 197 days.

On June 11, 90 days after Chen Guangcheng was held incommunicado without authorization, his wife received a notice of criminal detention issued by Yinan County Public Security Bureau for allegedly “gathering crowds to obstruct traffic” and “destruction of property.”

By then his wife had written letters to Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, Chinese President and Prime Minister respectively, and UN Secretary General Annan, pleading for justice. After Chen Guangcheng was formally detained, she wrote to Deng Pufang, the son of Deng Xiaoping and Chairman of China’s Disabled Persons’ Federation.

To publicize Chen Guangcheng’s case, lawyers, scholars and friends in Beijing planned a press conference on June 16, and Chen’s mother and son were to attend. But the press conference had to be cancelled, because every single organizer had been called on, followed or confined by authorities in Beijing that day. Most shockingly, Cheng Guangcheng’s mother and his toddler son were kidnapped outside Teng Biao’s apartment building by ten unidentified men and spirited away in a van without a license plate. They were brought back to Yinan to the home of one of Chen Guangcheng’s brothers.

Chen’s lawyers were allowed to meet with him in the Yinan detention center. They were later prevented by thugs from visiting Yuan Weijing, Chen’s wife, to discuss the case. While in his hotel room, Li Jinsong (李劲松), one of Chen’s defense lawyers, received telephone threats from an unidentified man. “Have you lived enough? Have you?” The man menaced repeatedly.

In Beijing, national security personnel called on the lawyers and activists; while in Linyi, Chen Guangcheng’s lawyers were followed, threatened, beaten on the street by unidentified thugs, had their camera smashed and their cars overturned.

Friday, November 11, 2011

LAX Reverse Flow

I went out to lunch today and saw that the planes taking-off and landing at LAX were going the other way, i.e, headed east. Normally due to wind direction, runways 24/25 are used (east to west) instead of 6/7. Too bad I don't have my camera (waiting for a new camera backpack) today; it would be interesting to see landings at Imperial Hill and take-offs at In'n'Out.

I looked online and could not find any real-time notifications on when (and why) this happens. It seems to be a pretty rare event.

I guess I can "watch" the planes land on FlightAware and tell which direction they're headed.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday Traffic

Dang it. I thought I could go home a bit earlier and have dinner at a "normal" time... i.e., before 9pm. However, looking at Google Maps traffic, there seems to be more red than green on the map. I guess I'll hang out here for another hour to see if traffic improves. Thursday night appears to be the worst traffic night for my ride home.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

21 and Over

From the director of The Hangover and The Hangover Part II, 21 and Over is another stereotypical "buddy" comedy movie. Here is the description from Variety magazine:
Miles Teller ("Footloose"), Justin Chon ("The Twilight Saga"), Skylar Astin ("Taking Woodstock") and Sarah Wright ("The House Bunny") star in the pic, which follows two childhood friends who drag their straight-arrow buddy out to celebrate his 21st birthday the night before an important medical school interview, in an evening of debauchery that spirals out of control. But when one beer leads to another, the evening spirals into a wild misadventure of debauchery that none of them will ever forget.

Yawn... sound terribly boring. Anyway, the interesting (to me anyway) part of this story is that they're filming part of the movie in Linyi, China. Looking at the brief blurb above, I don't see how a scene in China fits into the story, but who says crappy movies need a logical plot. More importantly, Linyi has been in the news lately due to Chen Guangchen. From Wikipedia:
Chen Guangcheng (born November 12, 1971) is a blind civil rights activist in the People's Republic of China who drew international attention to human rights issues in rural areas. He was placed under house arrest from September 2005 to March 2006 after talking to Time magazine about the forced abortion cases he investigated in Linyi Prefecture, Shandong Province. Authorities formally arrested him in June 2006 for destruction of property and assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic. During his trial, Chen's lawyers were forbidden access to the court, leaving him without a proper defender. On August 24, 2006, Chen was sentenced to four years and three months for "damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic."

Chen was released from prison on September 8, 2010 after serving his full sentence, but remains under "ruanjin" or soft detention at his home in Dongshigu. Chen and his wife were reportedly beaten shortly after a human rights group released a video of their home under intense police surveillance on February 9, 2011.

I'm not sure what the movie producers were thinking. Chen Guangcheng's story is not small local news; it has been featured on TIME, BBC, New York Times (often), NPR, and lots of other "Western" media. Relativity Media for its part, seems to be quite happy with the Chinese arrangement:
Joining Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman (The Fighter) and Todd Lieberman (The Fighter), are producers on the film, Andy Yan of SAIF and Hugo Shong of IDG. The Relativity and Sky Land production is being made in association with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Produced (Limitless). In addition to previous footage shot in Seattle, Washington, filming locations include Linyi, a city in the south of Shandong province. Principal photography on scenes in China began shooting in Linyi on October 26, 2011.

Party Secretary of Linyi Municipal Committee of the Chinese Party of Communism (CPC), Zhang Shajun, whose position is directly above the Mayor, said “Linyi is a beautiful city and we welcome international filmmakers to come to Linyi to make beautiful worldwide films, and particularly welcome my good friend Ryan Kavanaugh and his great company Relativity to be shooting in our historic city. We promise to provide the best service possible in order to help make the movie successful worldwide.”

This will mark the first of many projects that Relativity plans to shoot and do post-production work on in China.

Keeping lots of thugs around to intimidate and beat up visitors to an entire village is costly. I read that there are up to 300 "guards" and they get paid ~RMB 100 per day. With other expenses, that's probably RMB 1M per month. I don't know whether a small city like Linyi has that kind of discretionary budget but some cash from a "Hollywood" movie production company will sure come in handy. Just wondering how well the movie will do once it's linked to illegal detention and torture of a blind human rights lawyer. Probably not good.

From Charlie Custer at ChinaGeeks:
So, what should you do? I’m no expert, but let me help you weigh the options here. You can either piss off the American media and whatever percentage of your audience chooses to pay attention, or you can piss off some government leaders who are giving you a great deal on shooting your hilarious movie so long as you keep quiet about how they’re using your money to hold a blind man hostage.

Personally, I’d say leave Linyi. Like, tomorrow. Or hey, even today! It certainly seems like the moral choice, and I don’t understand why you’d want to shoot an American buddy comedy in China anyway (well, except for because of this).

We know you’re aware of the issue (see image). And while I understand the “no comment” response — you probably need some time to get your ducks in a row — please be aware that people are not just going to forget about this if you choose to do nothing. People haven’t forgotten about Chen and his family, and even though they’re beaten and robbed, people keep trying to visit him. Relativity Media needs to seriously consider which side of that equation it wants to be on.

Because maybe it’s just my sense of humor, but holding an innocent blind man and his family in their house, beating and robbing well-intentioned net users trying to visit him, and then lying about it to the world does not sound like a great premise for a hilarious buddy comedy. And every day you’re in Linyi shooting 21 and Over, you’re funding that, too, whether you want to be or not.

Do the right thing here.

I uploaded a photo to a few days ago. They have lots of great photos of just about every airplane. I found out after uploading that all photo submissions are moderated which keeps out the crappy or mundane shots... I have lots of those. :)

My photo is still stuck in the moderation queue. It's probably the most unique shot I have so hopefully it gets posted.

Singapore Airlines A-380 landing at LAX

How to say nothing in 500 words or less...

Global Times, one of the many English "news" sites run by the Chinese communist government, has an article regarding the terrible air quality in Beijing/China. Instead of talking about the real issues: dangerous levels of air pollutants and improper monitoring standards, it talks about politics.
Since the problem cannot be solved quickly, a consensus is needed. The government should play a key role. Local governments usually leave the impression of "playing down bad news" among the public, which makes many people exaggerate the gap between their feelings with the government's figures.

It is probably the same reason why the monitoring standard of the US Embassy is emphasized by netizens. That means local governments need to establish absolute authority over monitoring pollution without concealing information. If they are defeated by foreign embassies in this regard, they will lose more than just authority in monitoring air quality.

Heh, how is the CCP going to accomplish this?! Their entire political system is based on concealing information from the public.


I guess I've been lucky though. Each time I've been to Beijing, the weather has be either mostly clear, very windy, or raining. I have not experience anything close to "crazy bad" air, though a mysterious "fog" did roll in during the afternoon on our visit to the Olympic Park in 2008.