Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sistar - So Cool Choreography

Oops. This has been out on Starship's YouTube channel for months. I forgot to post the link here.

Hopefully they will show up at KMF10 this April.

Miryo (BEG) Solo

Miryo is the rapper from Brown Eyed Girls. She's the last one of the four to release a solo album.

Dirty - Miryo

Girls' Generation on David Letterman

Got an email tip from Sweden(!) that SNSD will be performing on Letterman tonight. I wonder if they are going to talk to Dave... I hope the old pervert doesn't say or do anything embarrassing. I'll post (or link to) a video later.


Here's a link to YouTube. Since they were at the very end and the Letterman show runs for 62 minutes, my 1 hour DVD recording cut off the last bit of their performance... :(

It was only one song and they sang in English. I guess the Letterman show is a big deal but I hope they didn't fly all the way from Korea just to do one song.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Resumes and Cover Letters

Last month I received an email from my manager that was originally addressed to our CEO and included a resume. The resume was quite good for someone two years out of undergrad but I thought the email/cover letter was a bit too much. I'm no HR person but I've read hundreds (maybe over a thousand) of cover letters. Basically he said that he was "dedicated to finding a career in manned spaceflight" and that this was his "dream company". Anyway, my manager talked to him on the phone and I think we offered him a position last week. I just saw an email reply that turned down our offer. Supposedly a friend approached him with some other opportunity recently so he's going to pass on our "budding" finance organization, whatever that means.

The only reason I posted this was his cover letter sounded like he would kill his own mother to work here. Oh well, he's only 24 so there's lots of time to explore options. Maybe his next cover letter won't be filled with so many super-duper words.

State of the Union Lies

I didn't listen to the State of the Union speech because like most political speeches, it would be full of lies and a total waste of time. However, I read some comments on the Internet and had to check for myself:
But in return, we need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes.

Tax reform should follow the Buffett Rule. If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes. And my Republican friend Tom Coburn is right: Washington should stop subsidizing millionaires. In fact, if you’re earning a million dollars a year, you shouldn’t get special tax subsidies or deductions. On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn’t go up. You’re the ones struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages. You’re the ones who need relief.

Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.

What is fair? Taxes pay for government services. The ultimate "fairness" is to pay for what you use, i.e., usage fees instead of indiscriminate taxes. Small example: abolish taxes for national parks and increase the entrance fee to cover costs. Big example: have parents pay for the children's schooling costs instead of taxing all their childless neighbors. I'm not suggesting that these are good/bad ideas... of course, there is a role for government (national defense, public safety, etc) but there needs to be a robust discussion on how much is too much. Obama equates fairness as at least 30% if you make >$1M. Why 30%? Does 30% of everyone's life depend on the federal government? Why not make everyone pay 30%? We know half of America pays almost no federal income taxes. How is that fair?

The last part of the quote is a complete lie. Obama is confounding tax dollars paid and average tax rate on purpose, unless he is trying to tell us that the amount on line 61 of Warren Buffet's 1040 form is less than the amount found on his secretary's tax return. I read that Buffet paid ~17% on his taxes while supposedly his secretary paid ~36%. Since the median taxpayer paid only 12.8%, and the top marginal tax rate is only 35%, common sense suggests something is wrong. Buffet and his secretary should release their taxes since Obama is using them for political purposes.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

More Taxes

Luckily I went through some piles of old mail at home and found a tax bill from the City of Orange. They want $58 for a business license. I made $0 from my "home business"... yet the City of Orange feels entitles to some more of my money for providing nothing whatsoever in return.

For the next local election, I'm voting against all City of Orange incumbents.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Working Late

Dang it. It's 11pm and I'm still at work. I have a forecast due at 3pm tomorrow and the new tool we got is a PITA. As part of our Microsoft Dynamics AX implementation, we got Forecaster 7.0. I've been trying to set it up all week and have spent the last few days trying to load historical data plus new data. Sigh... next to SAP, it's got to be the most user process unfriendly software I've used. :(

Making Stuff Up

As my three readers know, I don't like Obama. I like him even less (if that's possible) after receiving one of my W2's in the mail yesterday. Let's just say I could have bought a house in many parts of the US with the amount of federal taxes that was withheld, and my tax guy thinks I have to pay more on April 15th.

Anyway, no matter how much Obama acts like a wannabe socialist, he's nothing compared with Mao. Actually, no one can compare with Mao when it comes to mass murder... except maybe Stalin. Back on topic, I saw a webpage that pointed me to this at the Academy of Marxism/Chinese Academy of Social Sciences:


Supposedly this is a translation of a speech by Obama where he praises Mao on foreign policy and defense. If you put the text through Google Translate, you get this gibberish:
What is diplomacy? diplomacy is domestic, both of which are not two different things, not the other words, a country nationals to make their own masters of the country, this desire is the root of democracy at the same time, major policies, rise and fall of every man's duty. the strength of people's sense of political responsibility, will determine the appropriate extent, the strength of the country's foreign in this sense, foreign affairs do not that it? there was Mao Zedong's politicians, is History will say good or bad.
  How not been abroad as a statesman, he won a landslide in China's support in the diplomatic field, he makes the presence of China in the world with a sense of very Zhuo. There was a time, Mao Zedong without fear confrontation with the United States and along the way we are. Can be seen, the ruling party in their own country to obtain unequivocal support, national responsibility to the world, in some cases to defend the country, for the country's future, to pay a little at the price, a country with such a force, diplomacy will have a fundamental strength. State power in the people, the people's power is the power of diplomacy, is the most basic principles of diplomacy. This is my deepest thoughts and feelings of Mao Zedong's diplomatic areas.

What is the "Academy of Marxism" and why are they making up sh*t like this? This is so easy to disprove. Are Chinese netizens so lazy or brainwashed that they won't search for the original quote, if it exists? This is terribly inept propaganda... somebody needs to be fired or at least lose their ernai privileges.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lena Park Calendar

Freebie! Even though I missed Lena Park's concert in Pasadena, her sister was kind enough to give me some free stuff. In addition to the calendar, I got 2 women's medium t-shirts. Those will probably go to Sunny and Christine, who are now huge Lena fans due to I Am A Singer.

Cover + autograph


Does this mean people in Korea get Monday and Tuesday off for ChineseLunar New Year? I talked to Sindy last night and they get the whole week off in China.

Missing Check

Sigh... I wrote a check today to pay the trash bill and found that there is a check missing in the sequence. I looked in Quicken and online but couldn't find/remember what happened to check #13xx. I hope I didn't write a large check to someone. :(

Mitt Romney's Tax Return

Mitt Romney's 2010 tax returns can be found at his campaign website. The important number, AGI, is $21.6M and it's all from interest/dividends/capital gains. I think I heard on the news that their effective tax rate is ~15% whereas I'm paying about 31%, same as Newt Gingrich.

This is okay with me. I think there is a good reason to have a lower capital gains tax rate since the investor already paid taxes to acquire the "capital" and the company generating "gains" on that capital is being taxed too. What I have a problem with is Obama's class-warfare crap, and the fact that Romney's tax return is 203 pages long.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Refurbished Electronics

Since you can never have enough electronics, I bought a refurbished Asus Transformer tablet running Android 3.2. My thought was that I would configure it so my mom or dad can watch videos in their bedroom. Since Android supports Adobe Flash, there won't be as many problems with missing videos.

The unit arrived in a plain box. When I say plain, I mean no instructions and no documentation. WTF? It's supposed to have a 90 day warranty but there's nothing on paper. Great. After I unpacked it and plugged it in, I find that the battery won't charge. The battery was at 0% so it shut itself off after 3 minutes. I tried different USB power adapters to verify each component and everything seems to work. Then suddenly the unit decided to charge and got to ~81% before stopping. I can transfer files to/from my PC so the cable works. The power adapter will charge my iPad so the unit itself must be busted. It has stopped charging again and the battery is now down to 15%. If I unplug it, a warning message pops up telling me to plug it back in... but when I do, the charge indicator does not change and it continues to discharge. Strange.

Sigh... it looks like I will need to call Tiger Direct to return then item. Such a hassle... I'm not buying anything from Asus ever again.


Spoke with Asus Tech Support and determined that the battery was busted in the tablet. The rep wanted me to send the unit in for repair. I told him that I only had it for 3 days and I'm not sending it in for repair. Fortunately Tiger Direct agreed to refund me the purchase so I have to make a trip to UPS and send the unit back.

Now I need to decide if I still want to buy the same unit (probably not) or try something else.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Dang it. Now how am I supposed to retrieve files that I uploaded? If you do a WHOIS lookup on the domain name, this is what comes back:
Megaupload Limited
P.O. Box 28410
Gloucester Road Post Office
Wan Chai, Hong Kong 00000

Are their servers based in the US? How can the DOJ shut down a foreign site... or it is only blocked in the US?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Phobos-Grunt is a Russian space probe that was supposed to return samples from Phobos, one of the moons of Mars. However, it got stuck in LEO back in November and crashed in the Pacific Ocean (off Chile) on January 15th. I think a failed rocket engine burn prevented the probe to leave Earth orbit. Our CEO sent a link to a website that tracked the mission in great detail. Reading through the article, it's pretty clear that even though Russia is no longer a communist country, the poor management practices is still very much alive.
January 9

In an interview to the Izvestiya daily published on January 9, the head of the Russian space agency, Vladimir Popovkin finally admitted a number of critical flaws in the organization and design of the Phobos-Grunt mission, about which observers had warned all along and which the agency had vehemently denied in the past and attempted to punish the few journalists who had exposed these problems. At the same time, Popovkin defended the fateful decision to launch the spacecraft, portraying the current leadership of the agency as a hostage of bad decisions in the past.

"Phobos-Grunt was developed and built under conditions of limited funding, which predetermined risky technical decisions and made the whole mission problematic," Popovkin said, "We became hostages of these decisions, since we had been bound by agreements with the European Space Agency (ESA), whose instruments were onboard, and with Chinese colleagues, whose satellite we had committed to carry to Mars. In addition, the spacecraft was under construction for a very long time and warranties and operational lifetimes of many components were approaching their limits. If we missed the 2011 launch window for the flight to Mars, we simply had to throw away the spacecraft and write off five billion rubles of investments (into the project)."

It should be noted that numerous officials involved in the Phobos-Grunt project contradict Popovkin's statements about lack of funding for the project, at least in the past several years. Also, the most problematic part of the project and a likely culprit in its ultimate demise -- the flight control system, BKU -- was a result of engineering and management incompetence rather than funding. Finally, it is unlikely that agreements with ESA would prevent the delay of the mission from 2011, if the real status of the project was honestly communicated to international partners. Numerous international participants in the project repeatedly said that Russian space officials had assured them in the readiness of the spacecraft for launch in 2011. It is also obvious that replacing some out-of-warranty components would have been a much better decision than launching a doomed mission.

Yet, Popovkin went even further and repeated a really bizarre accusation which had been previously made by at least one high-ranking Russian military officer about the possible sabotage of the Phobos-Grunt mission by foreign powers, hence by the United States. "Today there is no clarity, why the propulsion unit onboard Phobos-Grunt failed to start, Popovkin told Izvestiya, "It is also unclear, why our satellites often have failures at the time when they fly out of range (of Russian ground control) where we don't see the vehicle and do not receive telemetry from it. There is no wish to accuse anybody, but today there are very powerful means of influence on spacecraft and the possibility of their use can not be excluded."

Huh? He thinks the US sabotaged the mission? That sounds a lot like China's Foreign Ministry... any protests or other dissent in China is caused by foreigners trying to overthrow the government.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Rented Room

To save time, money, and grief, I rented a room from a church friend in Torrance. He bought a house a few months ago and decided to rent out his guest room to me. Since I'm keeping my house in Orange, I'm not bringing too much stuff here, and will probably go home mid-week to get mail and maybe food.

Coincidentally, he lives on the same street as Shirley's mom so I'm pretty familiar with the neighborhood.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Chef Hung

Andy, Connie and I went to Diamond Plaza for dinner and we ended up at Chef Hung. It is a Taiwanese beef noodle place next to 85°C Cafe/Bakery. When we walked in at 5:30pm, the place was probably 75% full but there was no host/hostess. A bunch of customers, including us, stood around for 5 minutes before anyone came to seat us (actually hand out numbers). In the meantime, there was a verbal altercation between these two older fobby Chinese guys and one younger maybe-ABC guy about who was next in line. The younger guy was actually pretty rude; he ended up sitting next to us and was moody and rude to the waiter as well.

Anyway, I got the "famous" beef noodles. It was okay... nothing spectacular. The menus and place-mats made sure you know that "Chef Hung" won many beef noodle awards but I think my mom's version is better. Another issue was the prices. Maybe the rent is expensive in Diamond Plaza because the bowls of noodle weren't cheap. My medium sized bowl was ~$10. We ordered drinks and a few side dishes in addition to a main item; the bill came out to ~$50. If I had to give it a Yelp rating (forgot to do it while I was there), I'd give it 3.5 stars. Taking prices into consideration, I would probably drop it down to 2.5 stars.

There was a motorized bowl of noodles at the entrance of the restaurant. It was pretty cool... too bad there was no employees to seat us.

My $10 bowl of noodles. In addition to the bigger chunks of beef, they also had thin strips, kind of like the meat you get in a beef bowl at Yoshinoya. I've never seen this before, even in Taiwan.

Nothing to do with Chef Hung but upstairs in the plaza, there was a photo-sticker place. Not one machine but an entire store packed with machines. I took some of these kind of photos with Shirley a long long time ago.


In contrast, $20/person got us AYCE Korean BBQ at Gen, near Newport and Main in Tustin. Mmm... I was not hungry for 24 hours afterwards.

Battery Life

I think the new battery in the iPhone 3G is working. After charging, I left it on standby for about a day and then played a couple of videos. The old iPhone doesn't give battery remaining % but it looks like there's about 25% left. I think that's good enough for my nieces.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Do Not Remove

It was only a few years ago that I was the only Apple person in my family. Recently however, my sister has taken a bite and now has two Apple computers, two Apple TV's, two iPhone 4's and an iPhone 3G that my nieces use like an iPod Touch. Anyway, the old iPhone 3G's battery is starting to fail so I brought it back home to replace the battery. How hard can it be?

Well, if you're not a nimble 13-year old farm girl from China working at Foxconn in Shenzhen, it's pretty hard. I did manage to swap out the 3.7V Li-ion polymer battery but it took awhile. Two electrical engineering degrees were not enough to overcome old age and very small screws and connectors.

Why yes, I did take photos:

Working iPhone 3G with battery replacement kit ($6.31 from Amazon). Note the time = 9:38pm.

Remove bottom two screws and remove LCD display. The "case cracking tool" was useless. I ended up using a suction cup to lift up the cover/display. Next disconnect connectors 1, 2, and 3, which were conveniently labelled.

Remove 7 tiny tiny screws. One was under the "Do not remove" sticker. Oh well... it's out of warranty anyway.

After removing the screws, disconnect connectors 4, 5, 6, also conveniently labelled, and unnumbered connector for the camera. Remove motherboard and finally see battery.

The battery was held down by double-sided tape. Remove old battery and replace with new battery. Connect and screw everything back. Look it still works. Again, note the time = 10:30pm. Took me almost an hour to do everything.

Final test: see if Land Before Time (Sydnie's favorite movie) still plays. Check!

Couple of thoughts. I've owned many Apple products from an old Apple II+ to a Mac Plus to a Mac mini plus several iPod/iPad/iPhones, and everything has been sealed up tight at the factory. Most product needed special tools to open the case, and you can't change the battery in mobile devices. My Samsung GalaxyS has a back cover and a battery change takes only 10 seconds, not close to an hour with the iPhone. Totally lame.

I am also lucky that I wasn't born in rural China. I would totally suck working at Foxconn assembling iPod/iPad/iPhones, unlike this factory girl:

iPhone girl

Seriously, if I had to do this 12 hours a day, six days a week, for $0.50/hour, I'd probably want to jump off a building too.

Occupy Portland

Chapman Square

I took this during my Christmas trip to Portland. Like most other OWS related protests, this one came to nothing as well... other than a total waste of time and money, and a closure of public spaces.


Withdrawal Symptoms

I've been working crazy hours for the past few days to try and complete a new report for the CEO. The meeting was scheduled for today at 11:30am and I was still making changes at 11:20am. Another finance director and I finally walked downstairs to the CEO's office and found that the meeting was cancelled. Evidently his schedule backed up and there was no time to reschedule today. Since I've been stressed out about the report for weeks (possible strike two!), it felt like I was coming off a drug high or something.

Other than the added risk of driving home at 1am while trying to stay awake, I'm okay with it. As a mentor said to me at the beginning of my finance career, "at least you got paid for doing it." Hmm... or was that just Tim after a long night of making slides at IM.

Urban Decay

One of the issues with working so far from home is that I have to get gas all the time, or at least every 5 days. After work today, I stopped at a Shell gas station on Vermont and El Segundo. About halfway through my fill-up, I was approached by man with a bucket and squeegee who offered to wash my window. I politely declined. Interestingly, he gave me a confused look, as if everyone else accepted his offer (he was cleaning someone else's windshield previously). Was I supposed to say "okay"?

I was next approached by a anorexic woman with really bad teeth who asked if I wanted "movies"? Huh? I was unclear if she was offering to sell me DVD's (5 RMB?) or asking if I wanted a date to go to a movie theater. Obviously I was uninterested in both and just wanted to get out of there.

On my way home (70 minute commute on a Friday evening), I though about the experience. First, the gas station was pretty run down. There was an odor that's prevalent in poor neighborhoods, a combination of grease, sweat, and urine. The pumps were dirty too. There was also a lot of "extra" traffic with cars pulling in, not to buy gas but to shop(?) at the mini-mart. Strange.

At USC, I was approached all the time by homeless/poor asking for money. Since my work is basically in the same neighborhood (South Central LA), it's kind of expected. I'm just surprised that the Shell station allowed someone to basically camp out and solicit every customer. Probably the owners don't care.

Avoid Ghetto

I can see how this feature would be useful, although entire neighborhoods would be "no walk zones" around my work.

CBS Seattle
Microsoft has been granted a patent for its “avoid ghetto” feature for GPS devices.

A GPS device is used to find shortcuts and avoid traffic, but Microsoft’s patent states that a route can be plotted for pedestrians to avoid an “unsafe neighborhood or being in an open area that is subject to harsh temperatures.”

Created for mobile phones, the technology uses the latest crime statistics and weather data and includes them when calculating a route.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Price Discrimination

I saw this on my cousin's FB page so I checked online at Target's website:

White doll = $9.99

African American doll = $5.99

I don't think this is a big deal. The two dolls look identical (other than fabric color) so the manufacturing cost should be the same. There's no reason for Target to discount one over the other unless 1) there is no demand for the 2nd doll or 2) the manufacturer offered the 2nd doll at a lower price... probably reason #1. Although, the FB post was a photo taken at a retail store. Does Target have uniform pricing across all stores and online?

BTW, I checked and didn't see a yellow Asian doll. Also, notice the 1st doll just said White while the 2nd one was specifically labelled African American. Is there no politically correct term for White? Caucasian? European American? What if you're from South Africa (like Charize Theron)... what doll do you buy?

(South) African American


This blog only has one post. The author basically give all the reasons not to go to China. I've thought about this often and I agree. Even though I speak Mandarin pretty fluently (so does millions of Chinese people) and have a MBA degree (probably so does millions of Chinese people), I really don't have any competitive advantages (I'm not white) in looking for a job in China. Sure I can teach English but that does not pay very well, and most Western companies don't care if you speak English with an accent... money talks.
The reality is that the majority of foreigners coming to China fail – they do not get lucky and they leave with very little to show for their time. At the end of the day, foreigners in China are constantly swimming upstream, working much harder than s/he would in the west and accomplishing less. Communication will be harder, even assuming that one is fluent in Chinese. Unlike the US, where immigrants can succeed mightily, opening their own business in many cases, China is not an immigration driven society. It is not very open to foreigners and even hostile to their success. This goes for all non-Chinese people: China is equally as uninterested in a white girl or African American guy who just graduated from Harvard Business School, Yale Law, or the like. Even people with the best degrees who come here to make their fortune will often end up simply studying Chinese language at some university in Beijing.

The author does mention that his target audience is young people. If your company sends you to China with an expat package, then life is good. Otherwise you can try starting your own company in China... but unless you're well connected or willing to payoff everyone, that's not an easy option. Right, Leon?

Not Irvine

I just got home from work (1:45am); I had to stay late to work on a project... CEO wants to know what every person is doing by week. Only problem is that we have ~1600 employees. Anyway, I walked out of the building at ~1am and our parking lot is across a major street. While waiting for the signal to change, I was approached by a homeless (so they claim) couple. The woman was white and the guy was Hispanic, and he had a puppy (pit bull) inside his jacket. They wanted to sell me the dog for $300 so they can get a place to stay. Huh? Sensing my confusion and lack of interest, they asked for some change instead. To avoid potential complications, I gave them the change I had in my pocket, hoping that the iPad2 I was holding didn't attract too much attention.

Sigh... definitely not in Irvine anymore.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Qualcomm is funding a $10M X PRIZE for developing a medical tricorder (from Star Trek) that can diagnose a set of 15 diseases.
The Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE is a $10 million global competition to stimulate innovation and integration of precision diagnostic technologies, making reliable health diagnoses available directly to "health consumers" in their homes.

The dire need for improvements in health and healthcare in the U.S. has captured the attention of government, industry, and private citizens for years. But a viable solution has yet evaded one of the most technologically advanced, educated and prosperous nations on the globe. Integrated diagnostic technology, once available on a consumer mobile device that is easy to use, will allow individuals to incorporate health knowledge and decision-making into their daily lives.

Advances in fields such as artificial intelligence, wireless sensing, imaging diagnostics, lab-on-a-chip, and molecular biology will enable better choices in when, where, and how individuals receive care, thus making healthcare more convenient, affordable, and accessible. The winner will be the team whose technology most accurately diagnoses a set of diseases independent of a healthcare professional or facility, and that provides the best consumer user experience with their device.

I guess that's cool but why Qualcomm? They're a communications chip (and IP) company. $10M is pocket change for them but I'm sure they're banking on some sort of financial return. Does the final winner ($7M prize) get to keep their IP or does Qualcomm have a claim? Qualcomm got into a IP licensing dispute with Broadcom that took years to litigate but ended up having to pay Broadcom ~$800M.


Another thought... what if the diagnosis is wrong and the consumer makes a medical decision based on the incorrect information? I'm assuming that the tricorder/device is not going to dispense medication and you will need to go to a real doctor for diagnosis/treatment. However, doctors/hospitals have medical malpractice insurance; will the eventual hardware/software companies willing to take the legal risks?

One of the goals of the X PRIZE is "facilitate necessary partnerships and regulatory pathways required for this major transformation." I guess that means finding people in government to change existing medical liability laws. Qualcomm better start a fund now to fight the inevitable legal battles with ATLA (American Trial Lawyers Association).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

More Beijing "Fog"

AFP (via Google)
More than 150 flights to and from Beijing were cancelled or delayed on Tuesday as a thick cloud of acrid smog shrouded the city, with US figures saying the pollution was so bad it was off the scale.

The national meteorological centre said the Chinese capital had been hit by thick fog that reduced visibility to as little as 200 metres (650 feet) in some parts of the city, while official data judged air quality to be "good".

But the US embassy, which has its own pollution measuring system, said on its Twitter feed that the concentration of the smallest, most dangerous particles in the air was "beyond index" for most of the morning.


Authorities in Beijing said last month they had met their target of "blue sky" days for 2011, with 274 days of "grade one or two" air quality compared with 252 days in 2010.

But the state-run China Daily has said that if PM2.5 were used as China's main standard, only 20 percent of Chinese cities would be rated as having satisfactory air quality, against the current 80 percent.

In my limited China travel, I've experienced worse air pollution in Chengdu. Each time I go, the entire city smells like smoke. I think it's only due to good luck that I haven't experienced crazy bad air in Beijing.

Asia Society has a site (Room With A View) that has daily photos of the Beijing sky.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bank Hold

Chase (and WaMu before it) seems to hold deposits at random. I deposited a check a couple of weeks ago and Chase put a 7 day hold on it. I just got a letter today saying that they're extending the hold for another week. When I talked to the CSR, the reason they gave me over the phone was different than what was in the letter. While the check is on hold, I can't transfer the money out to a higher interest account so I was stuck getting 0.1% or something.

The lame thing is that I deposited the same check amount (and same payer) in September without any problems. That deposit was to my checking account. This time I deposited to my savings account which had lots of transactions with dollar amounts larger than this check (I had to sell my employee options when I quit Broadcom). I guess this is the way it is with big banks. I'm probably more of a hassle for them since I never bounce checks and don't use any of their other services... no fees.

The CSR put me on hold for 10 minutes and came back to tell me they cleared the hold. At least the check didn't bounce.


Now I find out that the check went through on the day I made the deposit (Dec 30) but Chase wanted to hold it until Jan 11.

Excel Monster

I have created an Excel file that has 175,635 rows of data. It contains all the clock in/out data for work orders for the past six months. Now I'll need to do a VLOOKUP to assign a project code to each transaction. Maybe it's time to take it into Access or something.


VLOOKUP takes about 2 minutes to refresh. Definitely need to do something different.

What do magpies and bears have in common?

They mourned Kim Jong-il's death. I want random animals to mourn me when I die.

The passing of North Korean strongman Kim Jong-il has been marked by plunging temperatures, mourning bears and now, according to North Korean state media, by flocks of magpies.

Kim, who died in December aged 69 years after 17 years running the world's most reclusive state, was reputed to be able to control the weather, as well as to have scored a miraculous 38 under par round of golf.

"At around 17:30 on December 19, 2011, hundreds of magpies appeared from nowhere and hovered over a statue of President Kim Il Sung on Changdok School campus in Mangyongdae District, clattering as if they were telling him the sad news," state news agency KCNA reported on Monday.


KCNA reported last week that a family of bears who usually hibernate through the fierce Korean winter had been seen lamenting Kim Jong-il's death.

"The bears, believed to be a mother and cubs, were staying on the road, crying woefully," it said.

Mythmaking for Kim Jong-un, believed to be in his late 20s, has already started. He is portrayed as the spitting image of his grandfather and has been dubbed the "genius of geniuses" in military affairs despite having no known military experience.

Mythmaking... first time I've heard of that word.

GPS Battle 2.0

On the way to work this morning, I turned on navigation apps on both smartphones:

- iPhone 4: Waze (also available on Android)
- GalaxyS/Vibrant: Google Navigation

Initially, both said that the drive would be ~1 hour from home to work. However, the two routes were different. Waze wanted me to take 22-405-110 while Google Nav said 22-5-605(?)-105. Before I left the house, I checked traffic on Google Maps and the best route looked like 22-405-605-91-110 instead. BTW, you never want to be on the 5 freeway between 91 and 605 at any time, both directions, especially during rush hour.

Anyway, when I ignored the 5 freeway exit and continued on 22 freeway, Google Navigation started rerouting. However, instead of telling me to continue on 22 west, it wanted me to exit, go back on 22 east, and take 5 north. It did this at each exit (Haster, Brookhurst, Euclid, etc) and the ETA grew longer and longer. Even worse, when I finally got on the 605 freeway, Google Nav told me to then take 91 east. East?! The ETA at the time was 1 hour and 10 minutes, but when I took 91 west instead, it rerouted again (correctly this time) and the ETA dropped to 35 minutes. Weird... it's okay today since I know the way to work but a bit scary if I have to rely on it when I'm lost.

Both these apps are free; Google Nav came with Google Maps on Android and Waze was a free download but has ads (sometimes). Next time I'll bring along an old Garmin nav unit and my mom's new Magellan standalone nav to see if any of them agree.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

UCLA Basketball

When I was at UCLA, I think I attended almost every home basketball game. During my freshman year, both Reggie Miller and Pooh Richardson was on the team coached by Walt Hazzard, but they only made it to the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament. After Reggie Miller graduated, the team did not make the playoffs in the following year and Walt Hazzard was replaced with Jim Harrick. They did better under Harrick, finally winning the Championship in 1994-1995.

Anyway, after graduation, I watched a few games on TV but never attended another game live until last night. Tim gave me a ticket (thanks Tim!) to the UCLA vs. ASU game at Honda Center. I didn't know that Pauley Pavilion was under construction/renovation this season, and UCLA home games are being played at both the Sports Arena (USC now plays at the Galen Center) and Honda Center.

Our seats were in a general admission area in the 400-sections at both ends. It was a bit confusing since the tickets only said section GA1.

UCLA was down by a lot during the beginning but caught up by half-time to take a 3 point lead.

During half-time, they had three students go down and try to make 4 shots within 30 seconds to win prizes. The first guy only made the layup, and second guy made the free throw (underhand style). The third student was a girl and she hit the 3-pointer at the very last second. I did this before at Pauley Pavilion as a student and I bricked the layup. Back then, there was no timer... any missed shot would disqualify you. I did get a six-pack of Coke which I passed around to my friends. That was quickly confiscated since we weren't allowed to have food/drinks. It was quite embarassing.

It must take a lot of effort to transport everyone (team, coaches, cheerleaders, band, students) to LA/Anaheim for each home game. Cheerleaders still look the same as before though their uniforms look skimpier.

The second half was a blowout by UCLA. I think there was a 10 minute stretch that ASU didn't score any points. The final score was 75-58 but could have been higher as UCLA missed a lot of free-throws.

Four "home" games will be held this season at Honda Center. I wonder if Henry is a UCLA basketball fan (his box looked like it was dark last night) and how much he charges UCLA for each game.

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Favorite Korean TV Show

No, not Invincible Youth 2, even though Bora (Sistar) is on the show. I watched the first 2 episodes and didn't enjoy it as much as season 1. Instead, I've been watching a show called Running Man. It started as a survival competition show where they lock the cast in a location (mall, stadium, museum, etc) and they perform different missions to get out before dawn. Over time, the show has added more types of challenges and variety. It's pretty popular in South Korea and I think they're on episode 76 already.

L-R: Lee Kwangsoo, Kim Jongkook, Yoo Jaesuk, Song Jihyo, Ji Sukjin, Ha-ha, Gary

Workplace Harassment...

... training.

Nothing better than 2 hours of online harassment training on a Friday evening. I have to do these every two years.

Current hypothetical scenario to evaluate:
Listen, there's something I've been meaning to talk to you about. It's kind of embarrassing....

Um, every Monday I get this e-mail--actually, everyone in our group gets it--from Matthew. It's his way of reminding us all to check out his blog. He calls it something like "Naked Man in a Big Town."

First time, I did check it out. But what he's writing there is actually pretty disturbing. The whole thing's basically a laundry list of all the women he's, um, "been with," and well... let's just say there's waaay too much information. Major over-sharing violation. He's even posted some photos!

Some of his posts are actually about women who work here. Not sure what they think, but if I were them, I'd be mortified.

Of course, I never went back to his site, but every Monday there's that stupid e-mail reminder about his blog. It's really kinda gross.

In my opinion, someone needs to deal with this.

Ha ha... photos?! I'd fire the the guy; that's some serious lack of common sense and good judgement. Needless to say, I don't send e-mail to my staff pointing them to this blog. Don't want them to know that I'm an "effective weapon of Satan" and all. Seriously, this is why I don't want staff. Since the org structure at Broadcom was pretty flat, I only had at most three people to deal with. I only have one now but about to get another one in two weeks. My sister has 70+ people reporting to her... I can't imagine dealing with HR issues for that many people.


BTW, the correct answer is "contact HR or senior management" in all cases.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

KMF 10

Korea Times Music Festival will be held on April 28th (2012). Tickets go on sale on January 21st but no artist details yet.

I missed the concert last year (Baek Ji Young, Sistar, Secret) due to a business/personal trip to Singapore/Beijing. I doubt I will be traveling this year (different job/no Chinese GF) so maybe I can attend the concert.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Communism ≠ Chinese Culture

New York Times
President Hu Jintao has said that China must strengthen its cultural production to defend against the West’s assault on the country’s culture and ideology, according to an essay in a Communist Party policy magazine published this week. The publication of Mr. Hu’s words signaled that a new major policy initiative announced last October would continue well into 2012.

The essay, which was signed by Mr. Hu and based on a speech he gave in October, drew a sharp line between the cultures of the West and China and effectively said the two sides were engaged in an escalating war. It was published in Seeking Truth, a magazine that evolved from a publication founded by Mao as a platform for establishing Communist Party principles.

“We must clearly see that international hostile forces are intensifying the strategic plot of westernizing and dividing China, and ideological and cultural fields are the focal areas of their long-term infiltration,” Mr. Hu said, according to a translation by Reuters.

“We should deeply understand the seriousness and complexity of the ideological struggle, always sound the alarms and remain vigilant, and take forceful measures to be on guard and respond,” he added.

Hu Jintao is full of crap. There is nothing "Western" or anti-Chinese with wanting a political voice and to be able to choose your own government. China has a long history and only the last 60 years has it been ruled by the CCP mafia. Culture changes and adapts; socialism and Marxism is also "foreign" to China yet the CCP constantly equates communism with being Chinese.
“The overall strength of Chinese culture and its international influence is not commensurate with China’s international status,” Mr. Hu said in his essay, according to another translation.

“The international culture of the West is strong while we are weak,” he added.

People aren't stupid. The culture/entertainment industry is global and very competitive. Why would I spend money on propaganda BS when there are thousands of other choices? Movies and singers from Hong Kong and Taiwan do quite well internationally. The problem is not Chinese culture but rather with censorship of creativity. Hu Jintao knows this... which makes his comments even more disingenuous and disgusting.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year

There was no traffic on the way to work this morning since most people had the day off. Normally when a holiday falls on a Saturday/Sunday, you get the closest Friday/Monday off. Not us. I think it's because we got "extra" days off for Christmas.

The 42 mile drive took about 40 minutes. I set the cruise control at ~75 mph and zoned out... twice. For a few minutes on the 5 freeway and again on the 91 freeway, I found myself suddenly wondering where I was, and unable to remember the past few miles. I wasn't tired or anything... I had some K-pop on the stereo and was thinking about some random stuff. Scary.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

K-pop Girls

Run The World - Beyonce [2011 SBS Gayo Daejun]

I read that some Korean netizens complained that this segment was too slutty or something. They're crazy... I think it's awesome. BTW, Fei is Chinese... the rest are Korean.

I wonder if they know when the lyrics say "Who run this motha?" that there's an implied word afterwards?

Chinese Laundromat

I've been playing L.A. Noire recently. The game is set in Los Angeles during the late 40's and you play a police detective solving crimes. The game is really good. It is published by Rockstar Games, the same company that did Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption.

The one thing I did notice was that there are a lot of stereotypes. I'm not sure if that's how society was like 60 years ago but almost all the male characters are wife-beaters and many of the white characters are totally racist. One of the cases/storyline also brought me to a laundromat (Superior Laundry) and the owner is Chinese. Sigh...

The Story

The Story is a radio program produced by American Public Radio. I hear it a lot on KPCC when I drive home from work. On Friday, the topic was 2011: A Year Of Protest. The rest of the show was okay but when they did the segment on OWS, I found myself swearing at the retard they interviewed (about 2/3rd the way through). He has a college degree but is unemployed, and has been sleeping in a tent at the protest. During the interview, it came out that he studied German Studies in college and has ~$120k of outstanding loans. Unsurprisingly, he has been unable to find a regular job. The interviewer (Dick Gordon) gave him a few opportunities to take some responsibility for his predicament but the "protester" never did. Instead, he blamed everyone and everything but himself, and of course he wants the government to "fix" things.

Call me heartless or whatever, but I have zero sympathy. The guy said he went to college because you were "supposed" to, and he went to a liberal arts college to find himself. That's all fine and good but I'll bet he never worked part-time and was probably drunk the entire time. His 4 (or 5) year party ended with $120k of debt and an useless degree. The responsible thing to do is to admit he screwed up, get whatever job he can to repay the loan, then move on with his life. Instead, he joins OWS and wants to continue to live on other people's hard work. The OWS people are living in a fantasy. They're protesting against a system that made it possible for them to sit around and do nothing for a few months. Imagine if they tried to pull that stunt in China. If you look at their actual "governance", with all the retarded working groups and the human megaphone (I hate that too), there is zero chance that any of them can manage anything except talk.