An accurate description of this movie would be...

Moulin Rouge meets Kill Bill.

Wondering what movie it is? If you've seen it, you're probably nodding your head right now. If you haven't, I wouldn't recommend it.

The movie is none other than Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd, featuring Johnny Depp as the very creepy barber doing very bloody shaves (and Borat doing Borat things...). As usual, Tim Burton sets are a pleasure to watch, even though they are sometimes a bit crazy. I'm not the biggest fan although I do appreciate the hard work behind the scenes (pardon the pun).

Bottom line... if you have to use Kill Bill to describe a movie, and you have to mix it with a musical, the results are difficult to appreciate.

By the way, revenge isn't that sweet. You can't change the past. Accepting is the best way.

Patriots Game

The reader should note that I've actually watched the record Patriots Steelers game while in a Shanghai hotel. Even though I knew the Pats would crush the Steelers (My manager is a Steelers fan... I hope she doesn't read this blog... heh heh), I still watched the game until 2 in the morning. At least they skipped all the time outs. =)

Anyway, Pats are 16-0 in the regular season! Even though that's an amazing achievement... what's more important is the next three games.

I feel like a Yankee fan. Even though the Pats were down by 12 points in the second half, I was never worried. Sigh. Nah, why sigh? Yeah, a bit of cockiness is nice.

Tomorrow, the Knicks host the Bulls. Man I miss ESPN and sports in the USA.


4 movies in 48 hours...

Only because I flew. (There's a fifth movie too - The Warlords - but it ain't within those crucial 48 hours...)

United business and United first were good experiences. Shouldn't they be great though?

Anyway, I saw three movies on the flight: Superbad, Resurrecting the Champ, and Stardust. The first day in New York, I saw I am Legend with PNGF.

Superbad - things I learn from the inflight entertainment magazine - Seth Rogen started writing the script when he was 13. THIRTEEN! The man is a genius. Wondering who he is? He's the fat guy from 40 year old virgin... or the guy from Knocked Up. The great thing about him is that he doesn't even have to try to be funny. Nothing like Jim Carrey. Rogen is just his usual self and the script (written by him) does everything funny. Superbad is a hilarious movie and I'm glad they didn't make any cuts for the airline version. At least given what I saw I don't think there were any cuts. I was actually wondering if any kids were watching. Thankfully not. I can't explain how funny the movie was... it's just very juvenile and very funny. Highly recommended.

Resurrecting the Champ - Josh Hartnett and Samuel Jackson give adequate performances in this movie about a falling sports reporter finding light and then finding out life. The usual Hollywood shit, really. I'll point to one part of the movie when the reporter told his son that he is good friends with John Elway and he son was so proud of daddy. This was, of course, a lie and that daddy said it only to make his son happy. The movie tried to make a neutral judgment on such lies. Why bother? All of us lie a little bit, mixing in some truth (he did meet Elway before) and folklore to please our friends and family. I don't think one needs to justify it. Recommended if you have time, and especially if you are a fan of Samuel Jackson. By the way, the female lead was the girl from Cold Case, though I never really placed her...

Stardust - A Claire Danes sighting! Not quite recommended. Ops, I leaped into consultant mode with Answer First. This was okay. Robert De Niro had a short cameo - as usual, he gives a half ass job for roles he don't really care about. Oh, and a Michelle Pfeiffer sighting! Interesting to see how aging actresses play an ugly woman role. Did I say not quite recommended?

I am Legend - This Will Smith special reminds me of Mission Impossible 2.0 and 3.0 - all movies that just show off the lead actor but offer nothing more. Will Smith gives a great performance as the sole survivor in New York City. Even though the movie sucked, he does portray the loneliness very well. However, that's about it. It's kind of eerie to see a deserted NYC while in NYC. The movie was basically Dawn of the Dead... zombies running amok in the city. Nothing special really; not recommended.

The Warlords - (Why isn't there a Chinese IMDB!?) A very grim movie by a grim director. Peter Chan Ho San has made a career out of small budget movies that touch on basic human love and some tear jerking. He doesn't disappoint even this was a depressing war movie. The depiction of realities of war was similar to that in Cold Mountain - very bloody, very real, very depressing. With all the turmoil around the globe, it makes one think of how small one person really is despite their own imaginations that they are greater than everybody else combined (Thank you, Bush). We all are subjects of reality. Reality, unfortunately, is not a subject for us.


Slap me please

While I'm on corporate bashing... I'm currently waiting for a standby seat to New York City for United. The seat is basically free... a buddy pass from a friend at United puts me at the bottom of the United customer ladder. Even those who used miles have a higher status on standby.

I lined up at Premier to start with, and was told that I should line up at Economy because I'm using a buddy pass.

So just let me make this clear... I've been a loyal customer to United for more than 10 years and it doesn't count anymore just because I'm using a free ticket. Thanks for the slap in the face, UA.

(Then again, I am flying business and first to NY... I love you, United, I love you).


Google Blogger, you suck...

I never understood why Picasa web album has space limits. If you can give me 6GB in email space, you can give me more in picture space. It's not that difficult.

Anyway, I'm about to give the Blogger team a lashing. It all, however, started with the incompetent Picasa web. I'm almost at the limit, so I cleared some space by deleting some pictures from the "Josekin's Blog" album.

Turns out doing that deletes pictures in my blog as well!!!!

And of course there is no warning.

I hate you, Blogger and Picasa Web Album team. At least give me a warning.


Habitat for Humanity Hungary - Merry Christmas

This is what brings a BIG BIG smile to my face. In fact, it is the best Christmas card I have ever received.

Dear Josekin,

The holiday season is soon going to start and I would like to thank you for being a part of Habitat for Humanity Hungary's life in 2007.  

As a small gift, I am attaching a drawing by Reka Pap from Csurgo. Reka is 9 years old. Her parents, her sister and her moved into their new Habitat home in 2006. The drawing is called: "Christmas in our New Home."

Thanks to the help and dedication of many people like you, 19 Hungarian families will celebrate Christmas in their new homes that they built or renovated with Habitat for Humanity Hungary in 2007. Next year, we hope to serve 77 families, thereby doubling the number of families served in our New Construction program and serving six times as many families in our Repairs&Renovations program as last year.  

Our Christmas Newsletter is available at the below link. Please take a look at it to see how your contribution this year was put to work to change the life of Hungarian families in need:  

I wish you and your loved ones Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year on behalf of Habitat for Humanity Hungary and all Habitat families in Hungary.

God bless,  



Josekin Lam



Finally. Movies...

Look, I haven't been in the theaters since Michael Clayton and Lust, Caution... highly unusual. I blame my travel schedule, which somehow had me going on 8 flights in 14 days.

Anyway, after my sweet upgrade for two nights, the third night I was moved to a smaller suite. A suite with one room, who knew!? With that suite comes... free DVDs!

Fantastic Four - put it this way... if it weren't for Jessica Alba... hold on... let me take a breathe... Jessica Alba... hmmm... If it weren't for Jessica Alba, this movie would be quite a piece of crap. My recommendation: watch Dark Angel.

墨攻 - awesome adaptation of a Japanese comic. Andy Lau delivers a solid performance as usual while the pan-Asian cast (this is a standard now... make a movie with one Japanese, one Korean, one Taiwanese, one Mainland Chinese, one Hong Konger, and you have a golder egg that can be shipped to all those countries) is solid with the exception of the Chinese actress who, while pretty, seemed quite out of place. Anyway, the movie is about the ideology to defend the weak from the aggressive in numerous wars vs. helping the aggressive achieve unification and therefore less wars in the future. Sounds familiar, huh? Recommended.


Here's why I don't like Hong Kong...

Well, Ms. Iris Cheng seems to think that having more than 30 pairs of shoes is the definition of happiness. This HSBC ad is completely tasteless on so many levels:
  • Presumably, Ms Cheng from Quarry Bay has more than 30 pairs of shoes. Thanks for remind all the girls with less than 30 pairs (99% of the population, no!?) they are living an inferior life.
  • Iris, if you are repeating your footwear pattern every week, and your only aspiration with your savings with HSBC is to quadruple the number of your shoes, you have some serious issues.
  • What about Mr. and Mrs. Cheng? Your daughter sounds like a materialistic bitch who thinks 30 pairs is the minimum to be cool. A bit ashamed, I hope? Oh, wait, maybe you taught her that.
  • And please don't forget Mr. Cheng-to be, who is now on red alert. Don't even bring up the in-laws...
  • I'm going on a limp here to say that most members in the Iris Friend Circle (IFC) are happy with their shoe situation by HSBC definition. They now may leap into the "repeat in a season" competition. I'm not sure if this is tasteless or not.
Luckily, there are those outside of the IFC and are blissfully unaware of the HSBC ad. Let's hope they either don't see the ad, or see it and ignore it, or be just slightly ticked off like me. Bless those who see the ad and develop a new aspiration to fill the shoe racks - they'll need all the help they can get.

On the flip side, Hong Kong has a pretty nice airport. Woo hoo!


Sweetest Upgrade!

The day wasn't smooth at all. I've come to realize working away from the team is extremely inefficient. Despite what technology can do for us, we still need to see the face in order to work closely together. The tone can be interpreted many different ways and, more often than not, does not represent what the speaker intended.

Back to my story. I'm working inefficiently from Hong Kong with my team in Shanghai. Eventually, did get things done and rushed to the airport. I knew I mis-timed it and so I missed my flight. The next one was an hour and a half later. I got off the stand by list and cursed myself for timing everything so tight.

Naturally, when I landed, I realized that I didn't have enough Taiwanese dollars to take the cab to the hotel! There was an ATM at the airport... except that it didn't work with my card. Both machines at both ends of the terminal didn't spit out cash. At least I got a good work out walking from one end to the other (most consultants work out by running from the terminal entrance to the gate area).

Oh well... I got on the cab (By the way, the Taipei airport cab line is very difficult to figure out. Some sort of union has some sort of rules for some sort of drivers and destinations. I'm still figuring... yet I digress) and asked the driver to get me to an ATM in Taipei so I can pay him afterwards.

By the time I got to the Grand Hyatt, it was almost 11pm. The following conversation took place...

Receptionist: Mr. Lam, our hotel is full. Would you mind being upgraded to the diplomatic suite?
Lam: Of course... as long as I don't have to pay for it!
Receptionist (without prompt): You may never want to live in our regular rooms any more...

Well then. Without further ado:

The study

The living room

The living room 2

The kitchen

The bedroom
The bathroom (steam room and jacuzzi)

Unfortunately, one of the most important invention in human history still looks that same as the regular peasants... so I won't honor it with a picture.


It's the toilet, man... what did you think it was? While you're at it... imagine this world without toilets!? I think it's slightly worse than "world without TV remotes."

Oh... while you are wondering how long this post is going to be... no worries. I feel obliged to tell you what goes on in a diplomatic suite, which, by the way, is only about USD1000 a night. Yup, it's one of those weird things you do: you get something nice and you want to measure it in dollars, even though it came to you free of charge. Why are we so materialistic!?

When I woke up the next day to ponder my good fortunes, I noticed that a bottle of whiskey is opened already. While I didn't pay much attention to it during the day, it immediately came to my attention at night... hmm... maybe it's complimentary. Thanks to my colleagues who have flocked over, I placed a call to the front desk:

Lam: Hi... I noticed an opened whiskey bottle in the room...
Front desk: Oh, I'm sorry. We'll get a new one for you right away.
Lam (like a child who just did something wrong): Um... so we can drink from the open bottle, right?
Front desk: We'll send someone up right away.

(5 minutes later)
Someone: Don't worry, sir, you can still drink from the open bottle. They don't go bad.
(Well, that's not why I called...)
Lam: So... all this (pointing to racks of liquor) is... free?
Someone: Yes, sir.

Woohoo. We drank away. I know I know, I sound like an immature child given a new toy. Then again, I feel like you need to know these things... including the sweet sound system in the room: two awesome B&O system (one in the living room and another in the bathroom). Made me want to get them... badly.

Okay, enough with the high life. I feel dirty.


I must have done something right...

I'm staying in the Taipei Grand Hyatt Diplomatic Suite... not sure if that means President's Suite... but I went into the "hotel room" and got lost. Took me a while to find the bedroom.

More on this later... I'm too psyched about it. As of now, I love consulting.

It'll happen... eventually

Last Saturday, I flew to Beijing. Earlier today, I flew from Beijing to Shanghai - by the way, we sat on the tarmac for almost doubt the flight time due to the snow. Two days later, I will fly from Shanghai to Hong Kong. Three days later, I will fly from Hong Kong to Taipei.

Yup, flying more means more things like this happens.

Anyway, last Thursday I traveled back to Hong Kong with a colleague of mine. We both tried to work in the taxi: I gave up after 15 minutes; he lasted half way before almost throwing up... which made me think about "it'll happen eventually":
  • Throws up in the cab while working on laptop
  • Drops laptop while placing laptop on check in counter
  • Burs lap while creating blank slides
  • Drops laptop while placing laptop on handle bar of luggage
  • Develop tendinitis due to carrying opened laptop on the lid
  • Drops laptop with laptop on lap and waking up from an unexpected nap
  • Leave laptop in the magazine pocket in the plane
  • Drops laptop when (Chinese taxi) driver swerves to pass other swerving Chinese taxis
  • Leave laptop in security scanner
And I'll freely admit that I've thought about the beauty of having a Crackberry about 1,325 times this past week.

Naturally, I'm writing this blog because I narrowly missed my (first time!) flight to Taipei. Next flight is an hour out. Sorry, I wish it was more dramatic like my Bain Boston trip. Maybe next time... not.


Finally, I can do a visa commercial...

34-inch high pants: $170 (Thank you, SS, for the inspiration)

Bad shirt: $60
Black glasses: $38
Tape, name label: free
Dressing up as a nerd for the company Xmas party and walking around Central (think Wall Street meets Times Square) in nerd outfit: priceless

Footnote: All figures in HKD.

Note: diligent readers have noticed that I put "No #1" while it should have been #2. Well, that's what the sign says. I'm just the messenger.


No #1

In Beijing right now. Went to a bar with an old friend and used the bathroom there. It's a Chinese old school squat toilet... smelled like shit but acceptably - acceptably only - clean. On the wall is a sign:
  • In Chinese: "请勿大便"
  • In English: "Don't shit here"
  • Also in English: "Please do not #1 here"
  • Also in English at the very bottom: "If you need to shit, please get a doggy bag"
Why are bathrooms such an adventure for me!?

Thank you for smoking

Great movie. I haven't watch a smart movie in a while, and "Thank you for smoking" absolutely blew me away. When the movie started with the smoking advocate (the guy from Erin Brocovich, I think) pointing towards a teenage cancer patient saying "it's in our best interest to have him stay alive and keep smoking," I knew this was going to be good.

The famous Mark Twain quote "Lies, damn lies, and statistics" should ring true with the movie. The irony that our society now so focused on whether an argument is true is really not that focused on the truth is appalling. Our "hero" in the movie professes that he only makes fact-based statements because "that way, I'm never wrong" and doesn't worry about why he is making those statements.

In other words, answer my way no matter what your question or argument is. Sad as that sounds, it is how most people engage in quarrels.

Highly recommended movie.

In other news, several of my friends have watched Blood Diamond and then denounced diamonds and resorted to other types of rings. Some data on De Beers/Tiffany/etc sales pre- and post Blood Diamond would be awesome. Anyway, several of my friends (all ladies) have indicated that they refuse to watch Blood Diamond...

If you believe a frictional movie, sure, stop buying diamonds as a protest. Better yet, go to Africa to make your protests. If you think it is indeed frictional, it wouldn't hurt to watch it either (that's me). And of course there are those who are afraid that the movie is a fact and so refuse to see it. How does that address the truth??? I'm just saying.


Difficult to overcome...

The Patriots are difficult to overcome: two words, Tom Brady.

The Red Sox are difficult to overcome: if Johan Santana signs.

The Celtics are difficult to overcome: KG, PP, RA... my god.

My curiosity was too much to overcome: it's not an eagle, it's a black kite. My random finds are also difficult to overcome: on the list of Hong Kong birds is the great tit.

My conclusions are difficult to overcome: Facebook will eventual fall; I got this message "xxx has added you as a Top Friend. Your popularity is going up! Click here to see just how popular you are now :)" Woohoo! My popularity is going up!

Workaholic-ism is difficult to overcome: as fresh MBA grads, I feel more complete and accomplished when I become very busy and finish my work at 1am. Not so much when I leave at 7pm.

Things I should overcome but can't: TV at night... blogging at even later night...



Like I said before, I don't care much for the elections in Hong Kong... predictably, the democratic party won this battle. Anyway, here's what I've observed throughout the days leading up to the election. I'll let you pass judgment.
  • The slogan for the democratic candidate is "vote with your conscious." As far as I can tell, her agenda has something to do bringing democracy to Hong Kong, something she has labeled "real democracy" while labeling others' methods "fake"
  • The slogan for the main rival, pro-China of course, has something to do with... actually, I'm not sure, because she never really talks about her views on policies... she's busy defending herself from a past mis-step in policy making.
  • The slogan for a pro-democracy newspaper is "Report happiness, report sadness, and report fairness." The same newspaper issued a special edition on election day urging people to vote for the pro-democracy.
  • "Dire election situation" is a similar tactic used by both sides to urge people to vote. This is suppose to bring out "supporters" to vote for their respective party.
You'll pardon me if I can't take this election too seriously. These are the headlines of various newspapers in Hong Kong
  • pro-democracy paper: Democratic party candidate celebrates decisive win
  • pro-democracy paper: Democratic party candidate wins by xx,xxx votes
  • pro-democracy paper: Democratic party candidate wins by landslide
  • pro-China paper: Pro-China candidate loses by a little
  • pro-China paper: Pro-China candidate wins support from voters
  • pro-China paper: Subway merger goes smoothly
Man, just thinking about this makes me sad.

Hong Kong Green

When tourists think of Hong Kong, they think neon lights and crazy crowds. Little do people know that Hong Kong is actually 60% green. Virtually all the mountains are designated parks and protected from construction.

I've hiked a few times, but not quite enough. Here's hoping that I can increase the frequency. There's the Wilson trail (50km) and the Trail Walker (100km), both I would love to try at some point.

Here are some pictures from the very easy (too) trail of Parkview to TaiTam to Quarry Bay.

The TaiTam Reservoir

I got lucky to get this amazing shot of an eagle (okay, it's probably too small for an eagle...)
Like the contrast

Hong Kong is green


Let's play

I don't know how it took me so long before I got a Wii. Now wonder Sony and Microsoft are running for cover. The Wii easily supplants all my old game consoles as my favorite. And I don't even have real games!

Two weeks ago, my colleagues and I were having dinner and decided that we should get a Wii and then play it at my home. Done and done. Next thing we know, we're still going strong at 2am.

Here's a video of boxing. So far, I've done all the sports, FIFA, NBA, some cooking game (don't ask), and some cheesy medical procedure game.