Monday, April 30, 2012

Permanent Campaign

POTUS CFOTUS = Chief Fundraiser of the United States

Daily Mail
Barack Obama has already held more re-election fundraising events than every elected president since Richard Nixon combined, according to figures to be published in a new book.

Obama is also the only president in the past 35 years to visit every electoral battleground state in his first year of office.
The figures, contained a in a new book called The Rise of the President’s Permanent Campaign by Brendan J. Doherty, due to be published by University Press of Kansas in July, give statistical backing to the notion that Obama is more preoccupied with being re-elected than any other commander-in-chief of modern times.

Doherty, who has compiled statistics about presidential travel and fundraising going back to President Jimmy Carter in 1977, found that Obama had held 104 fundraisers by March 6th this year, compared to 94 held by Presidents Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Snr, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush combined.

I guess the upside is that while he's out campaigning, he's not raising taxes or redistributing wealth. At this point, I don't even care who will be the Republican nominee; I'm voting for him/her/it over Obama, though my vote won't even matter on the crazy Left Coast.

KMF 10 Summary

I just got home from KMF 10 after carpooling back to work then dropping my friend off at his house. Even though I went with more people this year, it wasn't as good as KMF 7 nor KMF8. I had thought that since this was the 10th KMF concert, they would plan ahead and book more performers. I'm a huge fan of Lena Park and Brown Eyed Girls so at least I got to see them live.

My seat this year was not as good as before so photos suck a bit; I should have waited until the final week to buy tickets as lots of people were disappointed in the lineup and offered up much better seats at the same price that I paid ($70 for section F1). I also haven't figured out how to shoot at night with my new DSLR and the girl in front of me waving "thunder sticks" (what dumbass decided to hand those things out at a concert) kept messing up the camera's auto-focus. :(

Leon and I met a couple of friends at my work and we carpooled together. The first thing we saw was a MBLAQ fan group group photo. We would end up hearing them (and thousands of teenage girls) screaming & yelling all night.

Banner near security checkpoint. I'm not sure how effective they were but an old white guy checked my backpack twice (it only contained a jacket and my DSLR camera). Leon was carrying all the food.

Hollywood Bowl before the concert. We got there around 5pm and had time to eat almost all the food I bought from Mituswa and SMart (Korean market in Torrance).

Kim Tae Woo singing the Korean national anthem. The kids in the back sang Star Bangled Banner right before him.

MCs for the concert: Narsha from Brown Eyed Girls and Son Ho Young from G.O.D. He was the MC at KMF 7 as well. My Korean friend Sunny said he was a terrible MC... kept saying the most stupid things and repeating himself over-and-over.

The first performer was a group called Arirang. It turned out they're from China and all their songs were in Chinese, but I couldn't understand what they were singing anyway.

The ubiquitous and irritating "thunder sticks" that everyone had. I thought those were only used to distract visiting teams from making free throws.

Lee Yong. Sunny knew some of his songs from the 80's while she was in middle/high school. He said that he's been performing for 31 years and this was the largest audience and the loudest welcome. He was okay.

Woohoo! Lena Park! After MBLAQ and Brown Eyed Girls, I think she was the next most popular performer. I know her younger sister from church. She was going to try to take us to see Lena after the concert but she got sick and never made it to Hollywood Bowl. :(

Vincent - Lena Park

Bobby Kim. He did a couple of solo songs then brought a couple more guys + backup dancers on stage. I think together they're called Buga Kingz. I really hate it when people use "z" in place of "s" to seem cool or something.

Every KMF I've been to has a live band performance and this year it was Love & Peace. Once again, Sunny said she's heard of their songs before. The lead singer was an old guy... they were also just OK, though their lead guitarist was pretty good.


After intermission, the first performer was Kim Kyung Ho. He was definitely a heavy rocker, very different from all the other performers. During his songs, he would swing his head around with hair flying everywhere... it was pretty cool!

The main event... for me anyway... Brown Eyed Girls! They did two songs from their newest album Sixth Sense. Miryo spoke a lot of English and they finished with Abracadabra (of course!).

Abracadabra - Brown Eyed Girls

Narsha... pretty

Next up was an old guy, Nam Jin. Sunny said this was for the grandpas in the audience. Didn't like his songs... they did sound a lot like old Chinese songs though.

Light sticks. Red ones were from Verizon.

MBLAQ. I don't know any of their songs but they were sure popular with the teenage girls, who seemed to be screaming during their entire set. I don't get it. Are you there to hear/see them perform? One of the members, Lee Joon, was on Season 2 of Star Golden Bell... the rest I don't know too well.

The final performers were members of G.O.D. First up was Kim Tae Woo.

Love Rain - Kim Tae Woo

Followed by Son Ho Young. It seems like he performs at KMF almost every year. His profile says he was born in New Jersey... his English was pretty bad though.

All 4 members of G.O.D.

Sigh... once again, I was not too impressed with the lineup, except for Lena Park and Brown Eyed Girls. I think I'm also still upset that I missed seeing Sistar last year. It's going to take a lot of girl groups to get me to go next year. :)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Upgrading SSD

When I purchased my build-to-order desktop PC, they were giving out free 30GB Kingston SSDs. I thought I could speed up my computer by using the SSD as the primary boot disk and buying a large conventional HDD (2TB) to store programs and data. 30GB should be enough for just Windows 7, right? Right?

I soon found out that 30 GB was not enough. Even though I installed everything I could (whenever I was given the option) on the secondary drive, I found myself running out of room on the 30GB SSD. For the past month, I've been averaging ~1GB free. Windows 7 seems to eat up free space each time there's an update, which seems like every week. I finally admitted the problem and bought a 120GB SSD from Crucial/Amazon for ~$140. I looked through the documentation online and it looked like an easy upgrade. After all, I was just copying data from one disk to another... how hard can it be?

I thought the SSD came with a data transfer kit (USB to SATA cable + software) but when the packaged arrived, it only had the disk drive... no cable, no software. I cracked open the computer case and could not find any free SATA connectors. I ended up unplugging my DVD-ROM and attached the new SSD drive. Anyway, it took a few tries and a lot of Googling but I managed to clone the original 30GB boot disk. I initially used a free program, EASEUS Partition Manager, but it created 3 partitions and the main partition was not aligned for a SSD. I read some more and tried a different software called Clonezilla which involved creating a boot CD and lots of restarts. It managed to clone the original SSD but left a 90GB unallocated partition which I fixed with Windows Disk Management. It wasn't too hard but the whole process took me ~3 hours. In the midst of all this, I got fed up and ordered the $20 cable/software kit that I thought I was getting; hopefully I can cancel that order with Amazon.

Since I have a small case, there's not much room. I haven't figured out how to remove the original SSD drive so the new one will just have to hang outside the case for now.

Woohoo, C: drive is no longer red! It took Windows 7 only one reboot to suck up another 3GB. When I was fixing the partition size, it said that there was 92GB free. Right after reboot, it said there was only 89GB free. There's probably a % disk size process in the background or something. Sigh... hopefully this will last longer than 12 months.

Sindy and KMF

It just occurred to me that two years ago, I went to KMF 8 with Leon right after my blind date with Sindy. At the time, I thought about taking her to the concert but thought it would be kinda weird... hanging out with someone you don't know that well for 6 hours while not understanding anything being said around you.

Last year, when all my favorite K-pop artists (Sistar, Secret, IU, Baek Ji Young) at KMF 9, I was in Beijing visiting Sindy after a business trip to Singapore.

This year for KMF 10, it's me and Leon again. :( Oh well, at least I'll get to see Brown Eyed Girls and maybe get to meet Lena Park in person after the concert.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Tablo and Psychotic Netizens

I saw a link to this article on a friend's Facebook page. It recounts the story about crazy Koreans cyberstalking Daniel Lee, aka Tablo from Epik High. Just last week I watched a recent episode of Strong Heart on YouTube and Tablo referred to this dark period of his life, though I didn't know the full back story until I read the article.

But then, at the height of the group’s fame, the comments sections of articles about Epik High started filling up with anonymous messages accusing Lee of lying about his Stanford diploma. In May 2010 an antifan club formed and quickly attracted tens of thousands of members who accused him of stealing someone’s identity, dodging the draft, and faking passports, diplomas, and transcripts. The accusations were accompanied by supposed evidence supplied by the online masses, who also produced slick YouTube attack videos. It was a full-fledged backlash.

By that summer, Lee’s alleged fraud had become one of Korea’s top news items. Death threats streamed in, and Lee found himself accosted by angry people on the street. Since his face was so recognizable, he became a virtual prisoner in his Seoul apartment. In a matter of weeks, he went from being one of the most beloved figures in the country to one of the most reviled.

Crazy sh*t. I'm not a big hip-hop fan but I like Epik High and Tablo; I actually bought their Epilogue album on iTunes. I think I have a soft spot for Westernized Asians going back to their home country to try and make a living (e.g., Tiffany and Jessica from SNSD, Nicole from KARA, etc). After traveling through China with Leon as PMI's acting CFO, I can relate the the challenges of looking like a local but not really understanding what's going on 100%.

Anyway, after reading the article, I blame the asshole cousin. Even though he insists he is not jealous, his comments show that he is totally narcissistic, and bitter that his younger cousin is more successful. Whatever happened to "blood is thicker than water?" Your family is supposed to stick by you... but I guess since they know you so well, when your family turns on you, it's many times worse then coming from a stranger. Tablo fans should "human flesh search" (Chinese Netizen term) his cousin, Seungmin Cho... just kidding.

Run (from Epilogue) - Epik High


Commentary from Fever's End, Tablo's solo album released after the events in the Wired article

Ferrari? No, I Drive A Porsche

The ugly one no less...

The son of a disgraced Chinese leader Bo Xilai received three traffic tickets while driving a Porsche in the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Bo Guagua, son of the ousted Communist Party chief at the center of a widening corruption scandal, had earlier this week sought to downplay his allegedly lavish lifestyle as a student at Harvard University.
The 24-year-old notably denied reports that he drove a Ferrari.

But the Journal, citing police records, said he was driving a black Porsche when he was cited for allegedly running stop signs in December 2010 and May 2011 -- once at 2:20 am -- and for speeding in February 2011.

The newspaper identified the car as a 2011 Porsche Panamera registered to someone at his address in Cambridge, Massachusetts, saying the car sells for around $80,000.

Aww, did mommy's law firm money buy him the Porsche too? Looks like he thinks he has military plates on his Porsche. Three tickets in six months... how many points does it take to have your license suspended in Massachusetts anyway?

This brings up another random thought about justice in China:

- Chen Guangchen: become a lawyer; defend peasants from forced abortion and sterilization; gets arrested, tortured, and put in indefinite house arrest surrounded by thugs; six-year old daughter forced to stay home and watch parents being beaten

- Gu Kailai: become a lawyer; use princeling status and husband's guanxi to amass corrupt fortune; live a life of privilege and luxury while husband arrests, tortures, and executes business and political rivals; sends son to expensive private schools in UK and US, along with expensive condos and sports cars

Embarrassing. Makes me want to tell people I'm Taiwanese instead of Chinese... almost.

Fake Panchen Lama Speaks

WSJ China Realtime Report
When Gyaltsen Norbu, the youth selected by Beijing as the second-highest leader in Tibetan Buddhism, made an appearance at the Labrang Monastery in northwest China last year, foreigners were warned to get out of town and armed guards roamed the streets. On Thursday, though, the 22-year-old Panchen Lama — dismissed as an interloper by many Tibetans — gave a very public, and relatively uneventful, keynote speech before hundreds of monks, nuns and scholars in Hong Kong.

In his first appearance outside the Chinese mainland, a crimson-clad Norbu bowed before a relic said to be a 2,500-year-old vestige of the skull of Buddha and read a prepared speech. Buddhist teachings are the “sweet dew that ends human suffering and is a way to promote world peace,” said Norbu, who also inveighed against the corrupting influence of greed and “materialist technology.”

Wow... sometimes even I'm shocked at the naked hypocrisy of the CCP. It's not enough that a bunch of atheist thugs "disappeared" the chosen Panchen Lama and his entire family, and replaced him with a shanzai version. Now they have him going around parroting the party line about corruption and greed. Crazy.

The whole reason this guy "is" the Panchen Lama is because of CCP's greed and hunger for power. China is occupying Tibet simply to enrich the communist party and to keep the fenqing/nationalists in check. All that talk about serfdom and freeing the Tibetans from oppression is total crap. From his name (Gyaltsen Norbu), I'm guessing he is Tibetan... really, how does he sleep at night knowing he's betraying his religion and contributing to the destruction of his culture? And for what? A pat on the head from Hu Jingtao? So he can live in relative luxury while speaking out against it? Ugh, he's no better than Bo Xilai... disgusting.

Gyaltsen Norbu = Judas Iscariot

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


So if the blackout lasted twice as long and I owned a Nissan Leaf, I wouldn't be able to drive to work the next day. Umm... okay.

Southern California Edison Baseline

I posted something about electricity sticker shock a few years ago when I first moved into our house. It all has to do with their usage baseline scam. Now that Edison forced a smart meter on us, the pricing scam is more evident.

Back when I was still living in an one-bedroom apartment, my monthly usage baseline was over 600 KWH. This is important because usage within baseline is only ~13 cents per KWH. When my parents moved in to an adjacent one-bedroom apartment, together we could use 1200+ KWH per month at the lowest rate. However, once we moved into our current house, the usage baseline drops to <300 KWH. So instead of paying ~13 cents, I'm forced to pay double. We are using less electricity than before (for both apartments) but we're paying more.

My parents are in Canada for the past few days and since I'm staying in Torrance during the week, there is no one at home. With the smart meter installed, I can go online and view hourly usage data. Here is the chart for April 23rd:

The only items on in the house should be two refrigerators, two computers (with one in sleep mode), and some minor stuff (cable modem, router, cordless phones, alarm clocks, etc). I downloaded the numerical data and it adds up to 12.08 KWH. I looked at historical usage and this is probably the lowest daily usage ever. Our baseline is now 267 KWH per month so just keeping our food fresh and streaming videos online puts us over baseline. So when you hear people say electricity is only 13 cents per KWH in Southern California, they're either ignorant or liars.

Since I live in a house, I expect Obama to say that I'm still not "paying my fair share." He probably wants me to pay more so everyone living in an apartment can have free electricity and vote for him.


After looking at Edison's rate scam structure, it also discourages me to buy an electric car. If I opt for a combined plan, there are only two tiers with the second tier being much more than the regular residential plan. I can remain on the current rate plan, but since I'm in already in tier 4, I'll end up paying 30 cents per KWH to charge an electric car. The best option is to get another meter and charge after 9pm, but some houses can't support another meter, and you probably have to spend thousands of dollars on wiring upgrades. That rate is 12 cents per KWH.

Let's try the math again for a Nissan Leaf. EPA tests gives an average range of 73 miles for its 24 KWH battery pack, which works out to ~4 cents per mile. A comparable gasoline car (Nissan Versa) can get ~30 MPG, which works out to ~14 cents per mile. Assume we save 10 cents per mile, it will take 250,000 miles to make up the difference between the Leaf ($35,000 + $2000? for 2nd meter + charger) and the Versa ($12,000). Can I even drive a Leaf for that long? The battery warranty is only for 100,000 miles. Even if I drive 25k miles per year, that's a 10 year payback period. Do I want to drive a clown car for 10 years?!

If we count in the $7500 federal tax credit, then the payback mileage drops to 175,000 miles, still way above the battery warranty. OTOH, if I can't install a 2nd electricity meter and have to pay 30 cents per KWH, then the cost differential drops to ~4 cents per mile, then the payback is 437,500 miles, even with the tax credit.

Monday, April 23, 2012

What Is There in the Darkroom?

I saw this YouTube video while flipping through Flipboard on my iPad:

The idea is to use your DSLR in manual mode, set the aperture at f/5.6, and take a series of four 1 second exposure shots of the "static" on your screen.

Here is my result:

The results are not as good as shown in the related YouTube video where they "reveal" the hidden images. I played the original video on a 21" Acer LCD display; maybe it's better on an old CRT. Still... it's pretty cool.

I also found this website today about HDR photography. There are some pretty stunning photos but all post-processed using the magic of Photoshop. I read through the tutorials and I want to try out some of the techniques, even though my Sony a55 only takes 3 shots (some cameras take 9 shots) when using the auto exposure brackets. However, it does have an Auto-HDR feature which uses the camera to combine the 3 exposures into one and avoids Photoshop altogether.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Final Fantasy XIII

Ugh, finally finished the main story line for FF XIII (defeating Orphan). The save file says the total play time was 052:59:42.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Traffic Signals

I left for work at 8:00am this morning and it took me 25 minutes to drive ~8 miles on Crenshaw Blvd. Sure there is a lot of local rush hour traffic but almost every traffic signal at a major intersection was red. Here is a list of all the traffic signals on Crenshaw and whether it was red or green on my drive this morning:

Crenshaw Blvd. Northbound:
235th St* - green
Sepulveda Blvd* - red
SCROC/Robinson Honda - green
Plaze Del Amo - red
Carson St* - red
El Dorado St - green
Torrance Blvd* - red
Maricopa St - red
208th St - green
Del Amo Blvd - red
190th* - red
405S on/off ramp - green
182nd* - green
Artesia Blvd* - red
Cherry/166th St* - red
Redondo Beach Blvd* - red
El Camino College - green
Manhattan Beach Blvd* - green
154th St - red
Marine Ave* - red
147th St - green
Rosecrans Ave* - red
135th St* - red
El Segundo Blvd* - red
Jack Northrop Ave - green

Whew. I was jotting down all the green signals on my iPad and had to verify the traffic signals using Google Maps Street View. Anyway, there are definitely more red lights (15/25 = 60%) than green lights (10/15 = 40%). However, if you look at major cross-streets (defined by a yellow road on Google Maps), the ratio is much worse with 11/14 = 79% red lights and only 3/14 = 21% green lights. Why? If there was no control, you would expect a 50/50 chance of getting a green light at major intersections, since Crenshaw is a major street. Assuming that major streets have a longer green duration than minor streets, I should expect more green lights than red over the entire trip (4/11 reds on non-major intersections).

Hmm. I thought cities timed traffic signals on major streets during rush hour to ease traffic flow. From my "experiment" this morning, it doesn't seem like there's much coordination. I drove through three cities (Torrance, Gardena, and Hawthorne) and they all seemed to not have any traffic light management. Of course this is only one (detailed) observation but from anecdotal experience, I notice that I hit a lot of red lights on my local commute both ways. It almost seems like there is coordination/conspiracy(!) to slow traffic... a lot of the red lights are full duration too, i.e., just turned from yellow to red as I approached the intersection. Seriously, I think I could save 10 minutes on my commute if there was some traffic flow coordination.

Maybe I'll start taking Prairie or Western in the future, even though it adds 2 miles to the drive distance.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

KMF 10 Non-Update

Strange... only 10 days before the concert and still very few idol groups are confirmed. The only true idol group so far is MBLAQ. Even though I'm a huge Brown Eyed Girls fan, they're not really your typical girl band. I think they did a great job last year on the lineup so many people are disappointed this year.

Lots of tickets for sale on the KMF Facebook page. People are dumping their tickets at cost, including lots of Garden and Terrace boxes.

Splashtop Streamer Uninstall

When I bought the refurbished ASUS TF101, it came with a software call Splashtop Streamer that allows you to remotely control your PC. Since I returned the defective unit, I have no need for the software. However, it keeps asking me to update itself and the only options are "OK" or "wait 7 days" when the irritating dialog box pops up again. I tried to uninstall it and there is no entry in Control Panel > Programs and Features. I searched online and found this under Splashtop's support site:
Hi all,

If you can't find the uninstaller from Windows Control Panel/ Add/Remove application, you can download our latest Streamer v1.7.0.4 from this link, then double click it to launch, there should be uninstall option to be taken. If there's no uninstall option enabled, please try to complete the whole installation, then re-execute this isntaller again.

Splashtop Inc.

Wow, who thought that was a good idea?! Any software that doesn't allow you to uninstall it is a POS. Now I have to install more crappy software just to get rid of existing crappy software. Oh joy.

Bo Guagua

Bo Guagua, a 24-year-old descendant of Chinese Communist royalty, seemed destined to one day become a rich and powerful businessman in an economy that in his lifetime would become the world's largest.

His pedigree, elite schooling, easy confidence and connections left those who knew him in no doubt he would pursue a business career and amass a fortune.

That was until a British expatriate, Neil Heywood, died last November in a hotel in a huge city in western China, a world away from the clipped lawns and hushed libraries of Harvard University where Bo was studying. The story now looks certain to ruin his family and upend his ambitions.

People are no longer sure of young Bo's fate: return to his family in China, seek asylum in the United States, or other options.

"Now he is an orphan," a source close to Bo's family said.

I have zero sympathy... none whatsoever. Harsh... yes. Life is full of risks and rewards. I take few risks so my rewards (if any) are small. Bo's family decided to play in the world's largest mafia and up until this year, have been richly rewarded. The article mentions that asylum in the US may be an option. Why? His "endangered" status in China is purely a result of his family's actions: his father tortured, jailed, and even executed hundreds to thousands of people in Chongqing and his mother used guanxi to steal millions (maybe even billions) of dollars. Why show any mercy to someone who was in line to perpetuate injustice and reap the rewards of oppression and corruption?

From the article, Guagua acted like a typical red princling asshole:
Harvard classmates and others who know Bo from China and Oxford say he is not the quiet type: He likes socializing and has at times neglected his studies, much to his parents' displeasure. He has also shown a fondness for luxury cars, once chauffeuring an American girl, the daughter of a diplomat, around Beijing in a Ferrari.

While at Balliol College, Oxford, from 2007, Bo Guagua gained a reputation as a party boy. He was "rusticated" - effectively suspended - for 12 months for academic reasons, said a source familiar with his Oxford days. Some Chinese diplomats even visited the university, northwest of London, to check on his progress, the source added.

Send him back to China and let the mafia deal with their own.

Solyndra Bonuses

For a start-up competing with China on cost, Solyndra paid pretty high salaries. Back in February, a bankruptcy judge approved $370k of bonuses for 20 employees. As a taxpayer, I think it's a total scam, but what's another $0.4M on top of $535M?

Business Week
Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Solyndra LLC, the failed solar-panel maker that got $535 million in government loan guarantees before filing for bankruptcy, won court approval to pay some of its remaining workers as much as $368,500 in bonuses.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary Walrath granted the company approval to pay the bonuses to 20 employees if they can achieve certain milestones during the bankruptcy case.

I saw a link to the actual court documents and Exhibit A lists the 20 employees' title, bonus, base salary, and last salary increase. Here is a sample (remember that Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in August 2011):

- Sr. Manager, Manufacturing Eng, $159k, 11/7/2011
- Sr. Manager, Manufacturing Eng, $162k, 11/7/2011
- Sr. Director, Prod Line Main, $206k, 11/7/2011
- Sr. Director, Finance, $191k, 11/7/2011
- Director of FP and A, $150k, 9/13/2010
- Sr. Director, Corp Controller, $189k, 11/7/2011
- Senior Accountant, $114k, 12/5/2011

Since Solyndra was a "Silicon Valley" start-up, I assume that stock options were a large part of the total compensation package. Wikipedia says Solyndra has ~1100 employees; if that's true, then those salaries are really high. My current company has almost 1800 employees and their Director of FP&A makes more than our Director of FP&A (me!). Actually, all the salaries are way above what we pay, and above what was typical at Broadcom for similar titles. I thought huge salaries and bonuses only come when your business is successful. Also, most of the people on the list received pay raises after the bankruptcy. Seriously, WTF?

Maybe this is the business model... start a company, make pretty PowerPoint slides, get VC and government money, live large, file bankruptcy when cash runs out, and repeat. Leon, we're doing it wrong!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Reuters Photo and Caption

This was the photo on a NY Post story about the Secret Service sex scandal:

The caption read:
Prostitutes walk a street of Cartagena, Colombia, as heads of state meet in the city for the Americas Summit. Headlines from this weekend's gathering have focused on an embarrassing scandal involving prostitutes and members of President Obama's security detail.

I didn't read the story yet but the first random thought that came to mind was, "Did they ask the women if they were prostitutes?" If not, how would they know? Do they look like prostitutes? It would suck if the women were just on a night out and got mislabeled as hookers by some photojournalists.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

777 x7

I went to Imperial Hill again before work and took some more pictures. There was a lot more people today versus last Sunday. Usually I see a lot of small planes but today, there were lots of Boeing 777s.


United Airlines with Star Alliance livery

American Airlines

El Al... this is the first time I saw an El Al plane in person

Air China

Malaysian Airlines

Air New Zealand

Actually, I was hoping to see this paint job... I'm planning a trip to Asia this fall and flying EVA Air to Taipei is one of my options!

Luxury Pens

I saw this pen online:

It's a fountain pen made by Namiki, who also owns the Pilot brand. I've heard of Montblanc and Waterman but I've never seen a Namiki pen, maybe because the list price of the pen above is $15k. Probably sell a lot of these in China.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Telephone Spam

I've gotten 4 calls this morning from telemarketers. Since I forward my personal cell to my work cell during weekdays, I'm not sure which number they called. I try to be a courteous person, saying "excuse me" and "thank you" often. However, I've decided that I would simply hang up the next time I get a spam call.

BTW, these are the numbers for just this morning:
9:32am 425-658-8994
12:17pm 916-596-6160
12:24pm 425-390-8126
12:29pm 310-253-6363


3:41pm 616-971-0252


Ugh, another one this morning (Monday) at 7:30am from the first number above. I've added all these phone numbers to a contact labelled Spam; next is to change to ringtone so I can ignore it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

More Imperial Hill

Since I had to stop by work this afternoon (Sunday), I decided to go to Imperial Hill in El Segundo to look at planes for awhile. I brought my Sony a55 + the Tamron 75-300mm zoom lens. The lens is not all that great; at full zoom, it can only shoot down to f/5.6. Still, I think it's a wider than my 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 lens that costs ~3x as much.

None of the photos are all that exciting or even new. Here are some of the better ones:

British Airways 747 - I saw this take off as soon as I got out of my car.

Quickly followed by this Polar Air 747. It's a cargo freighter and by the new paingjob, it looks like Polar was recently acquired by DHL.

Since Terminal 1 is on the other side of the airport, hardly any Southwest flights use the south runway.

The Southwest flight was quickly followed by an U.S. Airways flight which also typically land on the north runways.

Smoggy wide-angle view of LAX

This plane landed on the other side of the airport and taxied over to the south side. I couldn't tell what it was from far away but through the camera, I saw the SkyTeam markings. It wasn't until I review the photo that I saw the small China Southern markings.

Take off next to LAX control tower

There sure are a lot of Alaska Airlines flights in/out of LAX

Air France Boeing 777

Lufthansa (or as Leon calls them, Luftwaffe) Airbus A340

China: 112th out of 156

China is the 112th happiest country on earth, out of 156. This is according to the World Happiness Report (PDF), published by Columbia University for a UN Conference. For comparison, Denmark is #1, Canada is #5, USA is #11, and Taiwan is ~#47. Now, regardless of whether you believe the methodology of measuring happiness, this is news. When Pew published its report in 2008 claiming that 86% of Chinese people were "Satisfied with country direction" (#1 out of 24 countries polled BTW), it was trumpeted by the CCP and their apologists as proof that Communism was superior to democracy. Nevermind that Pew only polled urban dwellers in a few cities.

Anyway, now when a report shows China is not Disneyland, it is banned.
The United Nation’s recently-released World Happiness Report has listed mainland China as the 112th happiest country out of 156. Many websites re-posted the report which was initially released by

From the State Council Information Office:
Regarding “UN Releasing World Happiness Report, China Ranked 112,” all websites are not to re-post the report. All existing posts are subject to removal.

国新办:联合国首发全球幸福指数报告 中国内地排112
国新办:《联合国首发全球幸福指数报告 中国内地排112》网站不转载此条新闻,已转载的删除。

This is the modus operandi of CCP propaganda. Instead of more speech to promote their POV, they simply censure and ban articles/news that show China in an unfavorable light. Sure, no government likes to highlight its own problems but in the US, freedom of press pretty much guarantees that all points of view are out there, from MSNBC to Fox News.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

KMF10 Tickets

I bought 4 tickets today from the Korea Times website. They only charged $10 fee for the entire order... much cheaper than Ticketmaster. Since I'm going with Sunny & Steve + one more guest, I didn't want to risk waiting until the very last day to see if I can get Terrace tickets cheap. Our seats are in section F1 which is probably near the middle of Hollywood Bowl.

Per the official website, these are performers that I recognize:

- G.O.D.
- Brown Eyed Girls
- Bobby Kim
- and of course, Lena Park

Judging from the lineup last three years, I think (hopefully) they will add one or two more girl groups and maybe one boy band. Although Ailee just debuted in Korea, it would be awesome to have the Jersey girl perform at KMF10.

Friday, April 6, 2012

iPhone Camera Zoom

I was standing on Imperial Hill on Wednesday waiting to pick up Leon; he was coming in from Munich on a Lufthansa flight. I didn't have my real camera so I had to use my iPhone.

Using Camera+ app, here is 1.0x (no zoom):

The A340 is the big white plane in the center. The EXIF data says 3.85mm (wide!) at f/2.8. I then zoomed in all the way (6.0x) and here's the result:

Weird. It almost looks like I added a film grain effect. The EXIF data is the same as above so it's definitely a digital zoom; there are no moving parts in the lens assembly.

Photo of approximately the same area using my Sony A55 (240mm at f/6.3).