Can stand vs. Cannot stand

In China, I can stand...
  • Lack of personal space - this is the number 1 thing you'll notice in China. In the West, your personal space is basically beyond arms length. In China, it's your shoulder length. Thank God HK is considered in between.
  • Spitting - I've mastered the skill to know when and where the spit is coming from... and ignore it. Trust me, these people have spit in public for decades and they won't miss their target - the ground. Your shoes will be fine, don't worry. Just ignore it.
  • Smoking - most of Chinese men are going to die of lung cancer. I am sure of this. While I do miss the nice clean air in HK and US clubs, it really doesn't bother me that much. And somehow, they don't blow the smoke at you. I'm still perplexed.
  • Drinking games - I'm not sure why the Chinese insist you must get piss drunk to prove that they are good hosts. Since I can act drunk, along with my bright red face, I've been able to duck the most ridiculous drinking games
  • Pushing - see lack of personal space. A side product is where everybody just pushes you all the time when you are lining up (if there is such a thing as a line... most of the time its a mob). I'm not ashamed that I've landed a few special elbows to the groin to those who push me. And my suitcase serves as a good divider in taxi lines. They hit my suitcase with the legs, and I turn around and push the suitcase right up their calves. It'll hurt.
  • Speaking loud - Apparently, they understand "Shut the fuck up"... or maybe it's just my angry tone with a finger on my lips.
  • Squat toilets - no problemo. I can hold it.
  • Attitude - most service industry people don't care about you. All you have to do is yell at them and curse. It works. (Loving the big city, eh? I've been reassured that away from Shanghai, it's much better)
  • Inefficiency - I guess coming from Hong Kong, we can never be satisfied. Luckily, I lived in Chicago and brought expectations to a new low. You see, it's all relative!
Only one thing I cannot stand in China:
One more, actually:


Life after Lost

I finished the ridiculously good season 4 (I do not like the Hurley episodes) of Lost... and am at a loss afterwards. What do I do in my very little spare time at night?

Considering that DVDs are $5 a piece, maybe I'll just buy all the sitcoms. Imagine that.

By the way, I had a very interesting insight today... in China:
  • $ double stroke is US dollar
  • $ single stroke is Hong Kong dollar
  • ¥ double stroke is Japanese Yen

  • ¥ single stroke is Chinese Yuen, or Renmenbi, or RMB

Upon knowing this, my analyst asked why the Japanese copied the Chinese symbol... (um, no dear, the Chinese copied the Japanese symbol.) anyway, not quite a LTFU (lunch time follow up, for those of you who aren't from AG - Analysis Group, for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about)... but I dug in to these symbols of currency:
So the Americans copied from the Spaniards, and the Japanese copied from the Europeans... although the name yen comes from a Chinese character meaning round.

That's enough learning for the morning.


Mother of all cliff hangers...

My god Lost season 3 just ended on a ridiculously good cliff hanger. I've tolerated the show through its first 2 seasons because of the Momento similarities and the generally okay plots. But Season 3 has just turned the whole show around. Wow.

Anyway, I wanted to make a quick comparison on why I like Lost much better than other conspiracy dramas such as 24, Prison Break, and Heroes (Note: I'm still in love with Law & Order, CSI, and other gruesome detective shows).
  • 24 was novel for the 1st season. Real time TV! Who would have thought. Anyway, by season 2 the side plots and general stupidity among CTU agents, government bureaucracy, and bad guys was just too much to overcome. At the end of season 2, when President Palmer was poisoned through a handshake (Note to bad guys: there are much better ways to assassinate a president if you are that good at it already), I lost interest.
  • Prison Break. First season was phenomenal. I did wonder outloud though: once they break out, there wouldn't be a season 2 or 3... and of course the producers had it in for us: we'll put them in another prison! Season 2 (the escaping act) deteriated quickly as all the characters started to drop like flies. Season 3... I won't dignify it with more than a sentence. Ops, I almost did.
  • Heroes. Save the cheer leader, save the world. Great plot to bring different fractions of the story together and having the audience put the plot together for them and keep everybody's attention. Season 2 was a downer due to the strike, so I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt in season 3.
However... in the mean time, Lost Season 4!!!


Taking pictures of a crowd

Taking pictures of a crowd is a test of patience and luck. As a photographer, you are waiting for a moment so you can "capture the moment." For a picture that is filled with heads, you may look for unity: everyone focused in one direction. You may look for uniqueness: I still remember the picture of a lone German fan (in yellow, or white) in a sea of red shirt Korean fans during the 2002 World Cup.

In this picture, I find the diversity in anticipation.

And yet to have this picture taken the way it is taken, you need things to fall in place. You need the two people in blue (they do stand out, don't they!?) to look back for their friend. You need the ladies in frnt to be lookng for something in the bag. You need that bored looking man in dark grey. You need the little girl in red who is loosing patience. You need all the folks on the left to all be in anticipation.

And that is life. Sometimes things just fall in place. All you have to do is click. So click whenever you can.


What is this...?

Well, I saw this attached to my analyst's phone. Quite normal right? Female sign with headphones, perhaps...?

Except that when it first caught my eye, this is what I saw:

So, what is this?
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Services in China

Restaurant services in Shanghai are notoriously bad. Most of the time it's a matter of attitude. And then there's this:

Josekin: May I have a glass of warm water?
Waitress: I'm sorry, sir, we only serve bottled mineral water.
Josekin: Not warm, right?
Waitress: No.
Josekin: Do you serve anything warm?
Waitress: Green tea or red tea.
Josekin: I'll have green tea then.

About 10 seconds into me sipping my nice and warm green tea did I realize... didn't she use warm water to make the green tea (RMB 38, by the way)!?

Stupid Josekin? Stupid waitress? Or smart business?


Trade off analysis

I'm a huge fan of The Sports Guy. Despite his decline as a writer since he joined ESPN, I always read his articles religiously. Thanks to Google Reader, I'm extremely updated on his articles... as opposed to checking into ESPN every 10 minutes to see if The SG posted a new article. Ah, the good times.

Anyway, this morning I saw that SG put up a whooping TWO articles! The first one was on home field disadvantage... which should really be the home field betting bias given the lack of advantage that home field really has. The home team is overly favored, not that the field is useless. Whatever, he's a journalist, I'm an economist. Anyway, back to my trade off analysis.

Damn I digress too much.

I've never delayed reading SG articles... except that I was watching Lost Season 2 this morning. The show was getting good, and I did the very unexpected: I stopped reading the article!! And let me tell you, it was quite a struggle.

The problem with the SG is that his articles are usually constantly good while a TV show like Lost has ups and downs. When the cliffhangers are good, it makes Lost so irresistible! Of course, as I turned my attention to Lost... my mind would wander back to the article. Perhaps I should finish the article before I watch the TV show. It's going to take only 5 minutes...

So I went back to my laptop and started reading... except that I was completely distracted. Back to Lost.

Literally, this went on for 2 minutes before I realized the obvious solution... play the DVD (by the way, RMB 5 per DVD, RMB 30 for the whole 4 seasons of Lost!) and take my laptop with me. This will work.

Not. I ended up watching 2 full episodes (the cliffhanger was too much for me to press the stop button) before I turned my head to the laptop to read the article.

Oh, dilemmas in life.


Different perspectives

Dug up an old picture and really liked it. It seems like the girl in dark (AL) has a bit of a photofront (i.e. she's reacting to a camera being pointed at her)... nonetheless, I like this picture quite a bit.
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Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is indeed quite photogenic from all sorts of angles. I remember seeing it for the first time about 10 years ago when I visited NYC with FK. We took a ferry tour that went under several bridges. Only the Brooklyn Bridge caught my eye (and the Statue of Liberty). On this visit, PNGF took me to the Brooklyn side and we walked back to Manhattan.

Lots of patterns to play around during this nice day out on the bridge. I think I took about 100 pictures before distilling it down to about 8 to 10. I especially like the last one.

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Signs from New York

Wall street, what have you done...???

How would you read this?

In Obama, we trust?

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Meet THE Brand in China: Me & City

Several weeks ago when I arrived in Shanghai for my new case (yes, I've moved on to skin care from telecom), I was surprised to see Wentworth Miller of Prison Break to be plastered all over the city, starting from being on EVERY SINGLE in-cab TV. In the biggest shopping street in Shanghai were his posters everywhere.

There was a big launch of the brand Me & City that was hosted by Mr. Miller sometime in October, and the buzz apparently lingered until now (and possibly beyond), hence all the advertisements.

There was only one problem: I've never heard of Me & City! It sounded like an old European brand that's trying to revive itself or something. Or a very new US brand.

Luckily, there's Google! Ops, I forgot, this is China. Google isn't very good in China. Luckily, there's Baidu! Ah yes, a much better search result.

Turns out, Me & City is a "high end" brand for a local Chinese apparel retail company, which of course is called Meters Bonwe... don't laugh... I actually think this may work.

I mean it'll definitely work in China. But the brass at Meters Bonwe must have a much larger view for M&C. Their "mass brand" uses Taiwanese singer Jay Chou as their spokesperson. Upgrading to Wentworth Miller is a whole new ball game that has eyes on exporting the brand abroad more than on preying on the Chinese middle class with overpriced over designed products.

I took a quick look at the store and the products. Not a bad selection but quite expensive for China... if I never did any research, I would have thought it's a foreign brand with a good local twist. Price wise it's similar to Esprit and slightly lower than Zara.

Not bad, not bad.

A Chinese brand that may compete with the likes of Esprit and Mango? I'm excited already. (Though I wouldn't buy from it)
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You win, and then?

Obama wins as expected. Now what? For Obama's tireless supporters, I hope they find something to fill their lives. For Joe the Regular, I'm definitely looking forward to a new presidency that will act competently. That's all I ask: competent.

Obviously Obama is a fresh force with a nice and clean resume for the White House. It doesn't seem like he is just another politician (that's you, Hilary). It seems that he will bring about change. After all, that's been his campaign for the last 2 years! It seems that he can bridge differences. It seems that... all this is very Utopian and idealistic.

Many people interview very well; only a fraction of those people will actually do the job well.

Many couples have a galmorous and perfect wedding; only a fraction of them will have the long lasting perfect marriage

Mr. Obama, people say you've ran the perfect campaign with the perfect events (e.g. financial crisis, lame duck president, Sarah Palin) going in you favor. People say your speeches are among the best (his speech at Chicago was very good and almost moved me to some tears). People say you are the agent of change. People say you will bring perspective and humility to the White House. It is now your chance to do it.

"Yes we can"? "Yes we did"? All this will be bullshit if you don't "yes here goes".


Bad Blogger and Election Day!

*Note: you MUST read to the end and click on the link... it will put the smile on your busy day

I am a bad blogger. Last post was on October 19th!

Since then, I could have shared...
  1. Beautiful pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge... I actually think my photography has improved a little bit for whatever reason. I've been more patient in preparing my camera for the photo instead of snapping away
  2. The end of my 7-month telecommunication case
  3. The my half day beach time (sigh)
  4. Attending a recruiting session as a recruiter or (welcome, former IB recruits!)
  5. Attending a recruiting session for Chicago GSB (welcome, laid off bankers!)
  6. Finishing the ironic book "Damn it feels good to be a banker"

Anyway, I was watching US elections on CNN in Shanghai and just heard the following:

  • Commentator X: Let me share with you what we know for sure based on our projections
  • Commentator 1: As you can see, McCain is leading Obama in by votes...
  • Commentator 2: These numbers mean nothing since only a very small number of votes have been counted...
  • Commentator Y: We've just beamed in from Chicago. What you are seeing here is the hologram of ... this is the first time on cable television....

(Josekin: so... do you know for sure? or are you projecting? Did you just report for 5 minutes something that doesn't even matter? why do I care about a Hologram?)

By the way, the analysis on early results on Indiana was excellent. They went into the State, looked at county by county votes and compared it to the 2004 election, showing that some of the key Democrat counties have not been counted, that Obama is actually winning some counties that were previously Republican, and that he's only losing by a few percentage points in counties where John Kerry lost by a landslide four years ago. Therefore, Obama is doing quite well in Indiana. Now THAT is what I call a good analysis.

(I know you don't care... but I'd vote for Obama. As PNGF aptly put, President Palin just sounds like a real disaster. My precinct is in Mass and my vote doesn't really change anything. Um... or does it matter...!? This is HILARIOUS!)


Top 10... not quite... movies

10 - Indiana Jones: I swear, typing about this makes me feel dumb. On the bright side, I didn't pay a dime for the movie (on flight) and it did give me some sleep. Why Steven Spielberg let his name be used in connection with this movie is beyond me. Not recommended.

9 - Body of Lies: Sure, it's sexy when you say Russel Crowe and Leonardo Dicaprio together. But if you fly them back and forth between 10 cities in the world and flash the new city's name for less than a second and expect the audience to follow everything, you're dreaming. Oh, and Russel Crowe gained about 100 pounds from his Gladiator days. Not so good for Mrs. Crowe. Not recommended.

8 - Hulk: Look, I'm a huge huge huge Edward Norton fan. But I can't stand him doing movies like these: slightly soulless (half empty) with some slight action (half full). Like it or not, The Hulk is about action. Perhaps Norton is the right man to play the conflicted Banner... if only Banner never turned green and kept being emotional. We can have a movie about that and Norton can truly shine. By the way, Tim Roth is awesome, and whoever is playing General Ross sucks. Not recommended.

7 - Fracture: Anthony Hopkins is creep as usual. The movie is completely predictable. I'll even spoint it for you: I immediately noticed the gun problem. And it takes a phone to remind you of that, Mr Big Shot Lawyer and Detective!? I even had the double jeapardy (I miss you, Ashley Judd, you need to stop going to Kentucky games and start making half naked movies) angle figured out once the wife died in the hospital. Yet... entertaining. Slightly recommended.

6 - Cars: Predictable cartoon where hot shot race car is lost in the middle of nowhere and befriends a bunch of losers... finally realizing there's more to racing in life and that his friends aren't losers. Realizes something bigger in life. Yadiyadiya. Slightly recommended.

5 - Hancock: First thing to clear up... this isn't a movie about Superheros. It's about destiny. Now if you have that expectation, maybe you might slightly enjoy the movie. You will, however, enjoy Charlize Theron. Anyway, back to the movie. It's quite ironic that when the Superheros get together, they slowly lose their powers. For all the other pairs, they chose to stay together, grow old, and die. That is the power of destiny to them. To Will Smith, he chooses the career of being a Superhero. And with that he has to stay away from his destiny... sad really. By the way, Mr. Director, why even have a felon in the movie? It serves absolutely no purpose. Make it into a struggle between love and protecting the world... oh, I forgot, this is Hollywood and you always need a villain. Slightly recommended.

4 - Connected: this is a Chinese movie that's a remake of the Western Cellular. Not a bad movie at alll and kept me entertained most of the time. Kidnapped lady makes one last call to random man who must save her. Cliche, but it worked. I just wish people were smarter and use the police more rather than doing it all by themselves. (Sorry, I sometimes forget that I'm watching a movie) Slightly recommended.

3 - Iron Man: Robert Downing Jr!? I admit that was my first reaction. Then I watched it on my way to NYC and I thought he was the perfect prick to play the role! Thoroughly entertainly and kept me at the edge of my seat for 2 solid hours on the flight. (Oh, and he makes a strange appearance at the end of The Hulk...) More fight scenes please! Recommended for all the explosions and the very cool Iron Man outfit.

2 - Blood Diamond: Sadly, what I remember from this movie is the Mummy is playing a role that is not the mummy! Anyway, a fine performance for all involved despite DiCaprio's horrible horrible African accent. He must have practiced it many times, cus it was very annoying. Who knows, many they do speak like that. What I sincerely hope is that people take the fictional scenes in this movie and think seriously about what their vanity (in this case, for diamonds) has driven others (Sierra Leone warlords) to do. There's so much evil in Africa: wars, ethnic cleansing, child soldiers, slavery (ironic, ain't it), poverty. And the world looks around and is still in search for those big diamonds. Recommended.

1 - Kite Runner: there are many things you can learn from Kite Runner, one of the best movies I've seen this year (After Dark Knight, discussed first here, then here). Don't ever abandon friend. Don't be ashamed of who you are. Don't be ashamed of who your friends are. Don't give those who are ashamed of you or your friend anything to work with. You can't change them, but don't give them more reasons to be ashamed of you.

James, dad, and I had a mini discussion on why he went into Afganistan to save the child. (A) Guilt from his childhood days for not saving his friend. (B) Guilt from his father's actions. (C) Realizing how his father's and the general's condesending looks on him were exactly the ones that he cast (unsuspectingly) onto his friend.

I say (C). A person always reacts more strongly when he or she is subjected to the same prejudice and then will realize that it is wrong.


I apologize

To the Red Sox.

I actually switched off the ESPN browser in the top of the 7th inning when Paps gave up the 2-run single. Then something magical happened. The Red Sox roared all the way back to win the game on JD Drew (JD DREW!) ground rule double that scored Youk. Besides the game, the Sox also won the crucial momentum that they've been lacking all series.

Too bad I'm off to Shanghai Sunday morning and won't have the chance to enjoy Game 6.


Think you've seen it all!?

You'd think you've seen everything already... but then there's Sarah Palin as a potential Vice President!! I have to admit... I first saw the SNL skit and thought it was really funny but probably just more joke than reality. Then I saw the real thing (take your pick here - nothing taken out of context). MY GOD IT'S THE SAME SKIT!

I wonder how many foreign leaders are praying for a McCain win and heart attack? (Putin is probably practicing sky diving into Alaska and debating Palin) I've never been a big fan of Republicans, but I did have a lot of respect for McCain for putting his brain in front of "ideology". Seems like his brain was misplaced when he picked Palin. Two things need to happen: either Obama wins or Palin drops herself from the ticket.

In sports: competing for the World Series... DEVIL RAYS!? I'm telling you, this world is not the same anymore.

As the $700B failed in the House last Saturday, this is me on a junk trip.


Beautiful Sanya, Ugly Markets

Bain retreats to beautiful beaches of Sanya for the weekend! I must say I didn't have any expectations for the "Hawaii of China". Like many other popular Chinese tourist spots, it usually is overrun with people, poluted, and with squat toilets (I have a really funny squat toilet story that I can't share... sigh). Not at all. We stayed at the brand new Hilton (room situation could have been better) and the entire facility was beautiful and actually quite nicely designed.
Twas good for Detox 2.0 (1.0 was pretty good too). I even took out a sail boat.
Anyway, here are some pictures.

While we frolicked in Sanya, the Financial Markets rallied behind a massive $700B bailout plan by the US govt. I'm still reading up to understand what is going on. Anyway, I wanted to share the following articles that are quite good.

The last few days in Hong Kong we find a bunch of investors crying foul over CDOs they bought from banks that had Lehman as one of the gaurantors. Why didn't the government regulate these financial products? I was lied to! The bank didn't explain the risks! The government should have regulated this shit! I want my money back!

One guy said it best: I can't read. The bank told me these were safe investments with good returns. So I just signed on the dotted line.

Signed away his life savings. As a rule, if you don't read, try not to invest in something that is 20x the risk free returns without knowing the risks.

Why do I have to bail out greedy people?


Uh huh, you feel this way too?

On my way to work... (pardon the fuzziness, was on a bus)
That's the feeling when I finally gave in to Google and paid $20 for 10GB storage on Picasa. Arg. I've been fighting it (irrationally) since a few months ago by limiting my uploads and deleting pictures from before.
Fuk Tat!
So with my new space for storage, I've uploaded pictures from the Hong Kong harbour, around Hong Kong, hiking in Sai Kung, and a Hangzhou getaway.


False advertising

It's been a while since I posted. Must say I've been busy lately (not to mention the financial market shock waves...).

Anyway, PNGF was in town a week ago and on our "last meal" in Hong Kong was a visit to IFC's I-Scream. Understand that Hong Kong does not have Cold Stone, so I-Scream Gelato's offering of mixing ice-cream and fresh ingredients was extremely tempting.

(OpenRice of Hong Kong is the equivalent of Citysearch, though the spin is more for Chinese clients... I hear WOM is with a western twist, but their coverage is limited and requires a membership... I have too many passwords to remember, WOM folks... anyway... I digress as usual)

OpenRice's comments are generally positive with some really nice pictures of their ice cream. Here's what we experienced...

First is the tempting advertisement. Choco Nuts, yummy! PNGF and I forgot to think about why the chocolate gelato looks... um... too purple.

Anyway, I won't dignify these with words. The making process...

heh heh. (Sh)It wasn't bad at all. A bit sweet. But we couldn't stop laughing as the man made the the mixed ice cream.


7 Years...

Today, I was walking in Central earlier tonight when I suddenly realized it was 911. I lose track of time these days since I'm so busy at work. It got me thinking... apparently 911 doesn't mean much in Hong Kong.

What does 911 mean to the world?
  • Democrats & Republicans: The day Bush started being a real president, for better or worse
  • World leaders: The day Bush starting being a real president, for worse
  • USA: The day people got to know Osama Bin Ladin
  • UK: The day we became US's bitch in war
  • Afghanistan: The day that is the start of the end of Taliban
  • Iraq: The day Saddam started digging his hole
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Travelers: The day airport security became serious business
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • so on and so forth


Shopping in Hong Kong

Random links: ought to have been a banker... Tibet monastery reopens (finally - with spies, of course)... and the Aussies mimed during the Olympics too (Don't get confused... I'm not justifying the Chinese replacing the poor little girl cus she wasn't good looking enough - the Aussies did it for the sake of the event... the Chinese... I don't know what they were thinking)

Anyway, PNGF is in town and naturally, we go shopping.
  • Target: mobile phone that can browse Internet
  • Shops: all are fair game
Well, apparently, what they call a "Shopping Paradise" is not really. We spend half the day walking around Hong Kong and this is what transpired:
  1. Fortress (Central): okay, so with my expertise in cell phones (laugh), I recommended the HTC Diamond, LG KS20, Samsung F488, Nokia E-66 and E-71. PNGF put all of them in her hand and ruled out LG KS20 immediately. Can we try browsing Internet please? NOPE. Is there any phone we can try? NOPE. Jeez.
  2. 1010 Shop (Central): Nobody really helped us... Can I try some phones and brwose the Internet? You can try the Diamond over here. Is there one that can use English? Over there. It's not working... The Chinese one can work. Can you change the language menu? NOPE. Anyway, I got to the browser and tried to use the touch screen to type in Couldn't do it. PNGF is not liking it.
  3. Elements (Kowloon): Hong Kong's hottest mall is also the biggest disappointment. A poorly design mall that felt more like a chamber than a nice stroll among stores. The five elements (Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, Earth) hosted different types of store and blah blah blah. Frankly, bad mall with no reliable map to tell you where you are and what else there is. Given the success of other malls (Times Square, IFC), I can't believe a mall designer won't use an open space to show case shops on differnet floors and also create a sense of openness. And of course the two electronic stores that were there were completely useless (Fortress and Broadway). PNGF was able to test the F488 at Fortress a little bit. Saleperson had no idea how to type English though (nor teach us).
  4. Nokia (Causeway Bay): Back in shopping mecca Causeway Bay, we finally were able to browse the Internet on an E-66 and E-71. Took the staff a while to change the phone to English and also activate the Internet though. Staff was very helpful and we got very good attention and was finally able to test browsing on a phone. PNGF liked the QWERTY keyboard very much. E-71 it is for now. She still wants to try a touch screen...
  5. Fortress: This is truly frustrating. Can we try the F488? Here you go. Oh, can you switch the menu to English? No, this is my personal phone. PNGF: Forget it.
  6. Broadway: Again, there's only a demo for F488, and nobody can use it in English. The other phones didn't have any demo. Josekin: that's why Broadway will never be #1. I meant to say that about Fortress too... but they are #1 for no good reason.
  7. Chung Yuen: The salesperson with a mask was very helpful. He showed us two Sony Ericssons (which I knew weren't very good) and had a good demo on how we can browse Internet. The only problem is that we need to use a keypad to enter the alphabets and it's slow. Oh, and the masked man was also very helpful in answering all our other questions about other handsets. No demo, but at least the answers are helpful. PNGF has narrowed it way down: HTC Diamond and Nokia E71.
  8. 1010 Shop: SAM KWOK. Mr. Kwok was extremely helpful. We asked for a Diamond demo (We've only gotten a very unhelpful one in Central), and Mr. Kwok took one out. He showed us how to play with it, let PNGF handle it (I like the wow factor on this phone, she says), and answered all the little questions we had (like how do I find out about the weather in New York). Um, we got greedy... can we try the Blackberry Pearl and Bold too? Mr. Kwok: no problem. My colleague will assist you. 5 minutes later, PNGF decided the HTC Diamond was for her and I decided the Blackberry Bold will be my next phone. Finally, the shopping odyssey ended.
Lessons, as always: LET THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE IT. And if it's good, they'll be sold in a second (okay, a few minutes).


Sigh of relief...

Someone asked me why I have "sigh of relief" in my status on Facebook, MSN, and GTalk... let's see:
  • The summer program ended well despite the typhoon
  • I finally got the vacation I wanted (yeah, only 2 days to Thailand, but I'll take anything)... see this piece on what counts as vacation
  • The Beijing Olympics seems to have ended without any major problems (!!!)
By the way, I really like Jim Caple's coverage of the game. Here's one on the Chinese gymnist age scandal. Here's one on Beijing's final grade. I'll share with you the last sentence:
  • "Sometimes, especially at the Olympics, it's best to suspend the cynicism."



I have to say, their commercials during the Olympics are really really well made.

This is a commercial from Hong Kong that features some of Hong Kong athletes (yeah, we import them from China in case you wonder) and some Chinese athletes. Here's a similar one from China.

The commercials actually really remind me of Nike commercials that were showed by JWT's Tom Doctoroff while I was still in business school (god I miss school). Family. Group. Nobody is more special than others. We're all in this together.

Good job, Adidas.


Talk about pressure...

Some serious business before the good stuff. Roland Martin articles have always impressed me. This one is no different.

Go-Karting is about the only I did that is ever so slightly related to the Olympics in the last few weeks... twas fun.

In my last post, I sort of mentioned the stress I was under... well, talking about pressure: how about the pressure Chinese 110M hurdler Liu Xiang was under? Dude couldn't even walk straight and he still wanted to participate in the games! Unfortunately, you still have some ultra conservative nationalists (i.e. "internet forums" where you can be anonymous and speak irresponsibly) in China who have self righteously claim that Liu has betrayed the country by not running until his legs break in half.

Although... if Liu insisted on running and limped the last 80 meters before collapsing when he crosses the finish line... he would ironically become the BIGGEST sports icon in this Olympics, going way beyond Phelps (Wow, did you see that guy swim). Imagine the headline: "Defending 110M hurdler champion Liu limps to finish line on half a leg for his country and 1.3 billion Chinese; career in doubt". Okay, so that's a long and stupid headline... but just imagine.

I love controversies. Poor girl whose missing front teeth landed her on the sidelines so prettier girl can be shown to the world. Underaged gymnists? And I'm not sure if this story was being funny or being critical?

Go China! Am looking forward to the Closing Ceremony already. I hope no adult diapers were involved (read my links!).


Detox in Shanghai

Normally, you wouldn't associated detox with Shanghai... Yet, that's what happened in my last training session with my class of consultants.

Until now (on KA802, a.k.a. The best timed flight from Shanghai to HK... Yet I digress), I still haven't quite figured it out. Part of it was our bosses "coming clean" and telling us what I've suspected all along: consulting is a tough business that's not cut out for everyone. Part of it was knowing that I wasn't alone. Part of it was the one day trip to a place that woulc cut me off from work entirely.

And then I listened to Queen's Under Pressure: Its a terror of knowing what this world is about. Watching some good friend screaming LET ME OUT.

How fitting. And I figured it out. I think.

Oh, by the way, the essentials of a detox session is quite simple. Food. Friends. Buddha. Here goes:

And of course this an interesting scene during our retreat in Hangzhou (not posed)... that's 2 people on Texas Holdem and 1 on Brick Breaker:


Get Smart Movie Review!

Talk about a brainless and funny movie. I present to you Get Smart. That guy from 40 year old virgin has really made it big. He's really hilarious. He's not the Jim Carrie type of exaggerating facial expressions and forced humor; it's much more subtle. In fact, it's almost as if he were trying to be intentionally not funny, only everything turns out to be unintentionally funny. I'm not sure if I make sense at all.

Anyway, a good 1.5 hours of good hard laughs. Particularly funny was the dialog on "are you from control." I couldn't stop laughing at his expression. PNGF likes the staple scene. She's kind of juvi like that.

Highly recommended especially for a night where you want to completely shut down common sense and just laugh your ass off.



Well well well... I'd say there were four moments in my life where I remember watching non-stop TV coverage of an event: the June 4th incident at Tiananmen Square, the 911 attach on WTC, the 512 earthquake in China, and then the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Great blog post from Salgar, by the way. Bob Costas, I don't know if it's you, but it certainly sounds like you. You suck.

Interesting input from the Freakonomics blog on the gold medal situation. (Shame on the slight on Chinese and their anti-doping tactics... how about looking in the mirror and inspect American sprinters?) Go China!

On to the mania:
  • I'm not ashamed to admit that I watched the Cycling roadrace. Do you know what a pelaton is? (Also, I don't want to see another slow-mo cycle crash.)
  • Congrats to the Chinese lady who won gold in women's air pistol. But what about the Russian and Georgian runner-ups? Stop war!
  • You could really be injured in badminton...
  • Michael Phelps cannot be stopped... 5 races, 5 gold, 5 world records
  • Speaking of world records, have you read about the technology doping? Apparently the pool is deeper and the lanes are wider to reduce water drag... and of course the now famous "shark swim suit"...
  • Whoa, the Chinese men's basketball team is leading the Dream Team for half the first quarter... they were happy to lose by 31.
  • Diving is fun... cus I feel like I can be judge
  • Are those gymnasts 18 or 12? I can't tell...
  • My colleague, upon walking into the cafeteria playing a weightlifting competition: which country is that guy from? Me respond: I think this is a women's event... Colleague: Oh......


Olympic Ceremony

Wow. I watched the opening ceremonies of Atlanta (I covered it as a reporter!), Sydney, Athens, and now Beijing. The Beijing one tops them all by far, and, frankly, may never be topped given how expensive it is rumored to be (USD $40B!? Really!? Sometimes you just have to laugh at the media...) and how little economic benefit there is from hosting the Olympics (all rent extracted, low overall long term returns).

Anyway, what a spectacular way to start! Also, huge huge huge props to Zhang Yimou, architect of the ceremonies, whom I dismissed as one who can handle the big scene and big screen. My bad. You did well. Pad on the back. You make me proud to be Chinese.

On to the games... (Two golds so far for China, plus a bronze for Tai... um... Chinese Taipei)


Need better logic

On the eve of the Olympics... by the way, I'm so excite about the whole event. I'm feeling extremely patriotic right now. I'm bleeding red. And, uh, I just hope nothing is fucked up.

Reporting from Beijing, CNN has this breaking news: "U.S. President George W. Bush cut the ribbon Friday on the massive new U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China, and said societies that allow free expression tend to be more prosperous."

"Tend to be!?"

The logic used here doesn't dictate the consequences of "societies that don't allow free expression." You know, like Brunei, Saudi Arabia, UAE (Dubai), Singapore, and, uh, Sudan, etc. And you could probably argue the Chinese (both govt and people) would say, well, we've achieved prosperity without your American cowboy democracy slogan.

In other words, have a backbone and speak louder, GW!

By the way, I was trying to re-trace some old links that might have measured prosperity and freedom of expression. No such thing, but it got me back to all time great "super time-suck" sites: Freakonomics (Hey, it was posted on my birthday, great present!), Baby Name Wizard, and the mind bottling Gapminder.


Did The Joker Win?

Well, apparently, the Chinese government is going to play some Lucius Fox.

There was some debate on my last post as to who was the victor in The Dark Knight. I still contend that it is The Joker. Let's evaluate from his major victims:
  • Bank robbers: Listening to The Joker's instructions to kill each other off, all were motivated by greed. Score one for The Joker.
  • Black mob boss: Token black guy had to die somehow. One of his cronies probably killed his buddies to work for The Joker. Fear ruled. Score another for The Joker.
  • Judge and Police Commissioner: They were unafraid of The Joker and die for it. Lady Justice stood up despite not prevailing. Score one for Batman.
  • Edison Chan: Just kidding. He's the security guard in Hong Kong (1 second cameo with Morgan Freeman) who once broke all hell loose. The Joker would have scored here.
  • SWOT team transporting Harvey: "This is not what I signed up for" sums up their cowardice... though they did try to complete the mission. No winner here.
  • Rachel: Sweet girl working as prosecutor sacrificed because Batman thought Harvey, the righteous prosecutor, was worth saving more. Never gave in though. Score one for Batman
  • Lau: money laundering business man gets burned alive on a pile of money. How's that for irony. No winner here since Batman would have done the same.
  • Harvey Dent/Two-face: Poor Harvey was so betrayed by his so-called colleagues that he turned the other cheek and ignored the law and order that he fiercely defended some 30 minutes ago in the movie. Score one for The Joker.
  • Batman, Alfred, Lucius: Score three for Batman.
So if you're keeping score, it's The Joker 4, Batman 4! It's a tied game (with some Jokerish rigging)!

Which brings me to... dun dun dun dun

Ferry of good people: the good citizens of Gothem voted ~400 to ~100 to blow up the criminals and save themselves. Score one for The Joker.

Oh, only they didn't pull the trigger! Why not, you ask? Because they were too hypocritical to do so. Their image of "good citizens of Gothem" would be tarnished. When it was an anonymous vote, good man wasn't afraid to show some evil (to save self, nonetheless, and I do have some sympathy here). When it was public display of evil, the good man was too hypocritical to actually do it (no sympathy here, sorry). You can't do it in public but you can vote behind a mask? Score two for The Joker.

And that is why The Joker won: 7 to 4...


Red Sox fans...

I wonder about oversea Red Sox fans... a similar study on HK people when Man U and Liverpool play would be quite interesting.

It's typhoon day in Hong Kong and we're all "working from home." Whatever that means. Anyway, me being me, I of course was quite oblivious to the typhoon fact. Out on the streets, the buses have stopped and there was very little transportation around. Taxis were the only ones. $200, said one, for my usual $35 trip. I was so amused that I swore at the driver! Eventually I was able to get another cab for $55, of which Bain is paying for anyway.

I hate it when free market works.


Red Cliff vs. Batman & Joker

Before I go into the biggest Chinese and English movies of the summer, let me just say that Sunday is not a good day for sushi. Of course I know this already, yet I still did it. Inagiku, only known as one of the best in town, was disappointing. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt due to the day for now.

On to the movies.

Red Cliff - I know its difficult to put spectacular history onto the movie screen, so John Woo has indeed done an admirable job. Nonetheless, it didn't satisfy me. Too much dialog that's more cheesy than insightful. The battles were spectacular but cliche. Way too long for its own good. The last 30 minutes were just too much of a drag to keep the movie crisp and efficient. Oh, and there's a part II to this part I, where the main battle is going to take place. I'm still looking forward to it. Final score: slightly recommended only because I love the history too much.

Batman - wow. Where do I even start. It's been a while since Hollywood came out with a Blockbuster that actually stimulated thinking (No Country for Old Men and Michael Clayton don't count as a Blockbuster; Juno and Little Miss Sunshine were indies)... anyway, I suspect you all know which part of Dark Knight I want to highlight.That's right, Prisoner's Dilemma! the Joker puts normal good citizens on one ship and criminals on the other. They are each given a bomb trigger to blow up the other ship. If neither pulls the trigger, the Joker pulls both. While our friend Batman determines that people are good when neither ship pulls the trigger... it is actually the exact opposite. Both wanted to pull the trigger: the good guys didn't because none of them wanted to bear the reputation of the person pulling the trigger; the bad guys just knew that the Joker wouldn't spare either ship so pulling the trigger had no point. Couple that with the depressing end for Harvey two face, The Dark Knight is an intense and dark and slightly depressing movie.

The morale of the movie is that you need Batman, an outlaw who performs justice while disregarding rules and laws, and that the Harvey Dents of the world, those who insist on doing everything the right way while performing justice, cannot persist. And the movie might be right. How's that for depressing.

Highly highly recommended. Oh, and I haven't even talked about the possibility of a postmortem Oscar award for the great performance of Heath Ledger as The Joker. Oh, and don't forget Christopher Nolan, the director who was also behind the great Momento. You know what, I'm going to watch it on Imax...


Patience and discipline

About 10 hours after sitting down, I finally walked out of the Grand Lisboa poker room. Some highlights:
  • Starting from $2000, after a few small pots, I was up to about $4000... including a J-5 full house that beat a 10-5 full house when the 10-5-5 flop was followed with a J on the turn.
  • Ops, I'm back at about $1000 after my K-K was met with A-A. A semi bluff when the flop showed a J didn't work. It made him think though.
  • Top pair top kicker lost to trips. I need to re-buy. $3000 more.
  • It's been 2 hours since my re-buy... and I'm not going anywhere with the cards I've been dealt
  • Finally, some decent cards netted some decent pots... current stack at $8000
  • Ops, holding top pair with a low kicker, I folded the best hand when my opponent made a big re-raise with a low pair... at about $5000 (breakeven)
  • Phew... different opponent who has been catching cards all night folded his pocket 10s against my pocket 5s (flop was 7-7-3)
  • A few big pots against some players who didn't know what they were doing got me to $9000 again
Well well... the key is to be patient and pick your battles. I'm glad I did this though as it was a good test of my skills under unfamiliar settings.

GSBer alert 2

Hm... after I clicked "Ignore" to the FB friend request a few weeks back... she's back for more! I get another alert, to which I clicked "Ignore" again.

I think PowerYogi is behind all this V V friend requests... save me please.


Facebook, why do you do this?

Hmmm... interesting phenomenon. So, last night, on Facebook, I decided to make certain things more private... such as my relationship status, religious views, what gender I am interested in, what kind of contacts I want to meet, etc. So this is what FB decides to do... it shows the following on the bulleting board (to all my friends and network):
  1. "Josekin edited Looking For and Interested In in his profile."
  2. "Josekin edited Hometown and Religious Views in his profile."
  3. "Josekin is no longer listed as in a relationship."
#1 and #2 are quite clear. I changed certain elements in my profile. #3 just left me scratching my head.

First of all, while "no longer listed" is correct (that's what I wanted), it shows a broken heart symbol beside the message. Hmmm.. why would one be heart broken when all he or she wants is more privacy...?

Second, during the edit process, Facebook tells me that I have to leave "Status" blank in order to not show the listing.

Third... I forgot just now. Needless to say, I immediately hear from PNGF that I've created the biggest annoyance on Earth, whereby Facebook fanatics are asking her on FB or calling her to ask what's happened. I received one message (and now I know who actually uses FB too much, haha). More needless to say, "Josekin is listed as in a relationship" now.

Anyway, is this how low Facebook has sunk? It's becoming a gossip column where it creates these fictional rumors so its users can further connect on it. Apparently, this has happened to my friend who de-listed that she is married, then had friends calling her to find out when she had a divorce...

How can I complain to FB? I can't find an opinion link.


5 year anniversay of this blog...!

Well, not quite... it's been five years since I discovered both photography and writing to be powerful channels to release emotions.

My current mode:

Life is:


Protest Slogan...

It goes "Fight inflation; increase salary"... for the employees of Watson's (think Poland Spring in Hong Kong). It seems that they do deserve a salary raise, as their commission rates (commission makes up 66% of their salary) were frozen for the past 8 years. Oh wait... but the price has gone up, so their pay has gone up too... hmmm... anyway. Back to the slogan.

"Fight inflation; increase salary"

Um... simple transfer pricing tells me that increasing your salary will most likely add to the inflation of society.


Getting ready for Olympics...

Well, as some of you may know, the Chinese are getting ready for the Beijing Olympics. No, really, they are. There's an Olympic in Beijing this year. Big event.

Among the drastic measures taken to make sure the Olympics go "smoothly"... the Chinese have decided:
  • Tighten visa signing process (unlike our friendly Aussies 8 years ago, who relaxed the visa signing into a pure online process - by the way, they beat Beijing for the 2000 Olympics
  • Halt all construction work in and around Beijing... since a few months ago
  • Halt some factory production... or move those factories away from Beijing
And my personal favorite:
  • Allow odd number plate cars to drive on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday while even number plate cars can drive on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Besides emission problems, there's also a problem of people smoking and also a lack of personal space. So I also suggest the following:
  • For people with Chinese IDs that end in odd numbers, you may only leave home on MWF. While you can leave home on those days, you may not smoke on those days. You can smoke, at home, TThuS. The reverse is true for those with Chinese IDs that end in even numbers
  • By the way, the story behind the Chinese ID is fascinating. It has 18 digits and is a code that contains just about all the information about you...
I'm not done with suggestions:
  • Any male should not be allowed to leave their homes on MWF. They are allowed to smoke only on weekends
  • Any female should not be allowed to leave their homes on TTh (Sat is okay because there are less females in China's population). They are not allowed to smoke in order to protect the infants.
Ah, a much improved China.


3:11am dilemma

It's been a while since I experienced a time stamp entry. This seems to be a good time to have one.

Tuesday night
21:00 - Manager is heading back home; she wants the slides by 0600 the next day. No problemo. She's had a few tough days and needs the rest tonight. Nothing she can do anyway before we give her the most updated version.
23:59 - well, no one said consulting was easy. Nonetheless, the second/third night pass midnight is always alarming (first time in a year... not bad, I guess). On the bright side, progress is good and all the presentations are coming together quite well

Wednesday morning
1:30 - only two consultants left... RK left after completing her slides as AW and myself are going through the slides just once more to make sure they are error free and good to go for a Thursday meeting
2:30 - I'm the only one left. I'm also waiting for a slide from an analyst. Let's hope that comes in time.
2:42 - Yes. My slides are complete now. Combining the outputs from all parties into one...
2:58 - Checking one last time
3:06 - Checking one one more more last last time time
3:11 - Apparently, the "Send" button on Outlook means send happiness through veins and send brain to sleep; My manager would be pleased.

Just as I thought the night was over and I'm good to go... within 10 seconds of my email leaving the Outbox, the Inbox flashes... the partner on the case sends a new version of the slides: we are to use her version as the master version and all edits should be done on her version!

I mean, good God, I've never felt so defeated as I completed a task!

Except for one small problem: there's no attachment! Holy Bain, what should I do!? Ah, the dilemma I face:
  1. Scenario 1: Do I pretend that I didn't receive the email? Or ask for the attachment after I get home? The work can be done the next morning, I suppose.
  2. Scenario 2: Do I recognize that it is 3:11am and that any instructions at this hour should be simply deferred and then acknowledged the following morning (and doing it)?
  3. Scenario 3: Do I alert her to the fact that there is no attachment? I foresee several iterations of this:
  • Scenario A: partner does not receive my alert in time. Consequences similar to 1 or 2.
  • Scenario B: actual file sent to me. I follow scenario 2.
  • Scenario C: actual file sent to me. I consolidate all versions of the file and send the final result to my manager before 0600
3:12 - Honestly, I thought about all the above scenarios at 3:11am. I considered all the options. My heart had hoped for Scenario 3A, where I do what a good employee should do but not have to do the work (heh heh). Of course...

04:11 - exactly one hour after the double whammy (well, to be exact, it's a single whammy), I sent out the final consolidated version.

It wasn't funny at 3:11am then. But it is now. =) And it makes for a great blog entry. What would you do...?


GSBers alert...

She found me. VV found me on Facebook!!


TV Programming

Well, one thing is for certain: I desperately miss ESPN.

There's no much TV going on for people like me. There the TVB (oh, only 90% of the market share) that caters to viewers who demand a brainless experience. I'm not saying that they are brainless; they just want a brainless viewing because their jobs have been so stressful. At least that's my theory. Stupid and dumb soap operas that make no sense and always involves a love triangle rule the TVB channel.

Yet I digress...

On the English version of TVB, there are some US TV like CSI and 24 (and the sad sad sad Prison Break season that should never have been made)... and then there is this at 2am. I just got home from work and I just want to relax before getting into bed.

What do I find on TV? "How to masturbate an elephant" It's a program about helping endangered animals reproduce. The captivating title kept me watching for about 15 minutes. And then the visual feed from the tube that was poking in the Great White Rhino's vagina in search for an egg so that an extraction of it may help save the species (that was a long phrase) lost me. It really did. I just don't think I need to be watching Rhino vagina at 2am.




Just caught a Chinese movie on TV about a cancer patient rediscovering life through the person who is organizing her funeral. The funeral person of course is suffering from cancer himself, and succumbs to it while encouraging the other cancer patient to live on herself.

Cliche, but very good. I like the simplicity of the movie. Highly recommended.


Kung Fu Panda...

Well, it was exactly what I expected. Good fun times all around. Since it was a company event, each of our seats was filled with a hot dog, a set of nachos, pop corn, AND coke. As a firm believer in spending for value, I've almost never eaten at the theaters (even though that's where they make most of their profit).

Apparently, it's very difficult to watch a movie and handle all the food at the same time. And pop corn taste real bad after you're full.

Yet I digress... the movie: the story of the underdog overcoming himself never gets old. Don't expect anything outside of family fun. Brainless humor. I like. Recommended.

One thing I really miss about the USA: two fers. Hong Kong has assigned seats.


Um... it's 8:11am

Oh great... after covering the (lack of) take off of the plane... they're having live coverage of one plane parking at the gate. It's the flight arriving in Taiwan! Awesome! From Guangzhou to Taipei! Oh, the pilot stuck his thumb out from the cockpit! He's so satisfied with the flight! Oh my god, he is smiling!!!!!!!! (Emphasis added) The flight number is CI1957.

(Awkward silence)

Damn, this is good: the CEO of the company is flew the flight (huh!?)!!!!!!!! Oh, and there are two more flights arriving at different airports. Where's the SPLIT SCREEN!? The pilot (is that the CEO? I'm beaming with questions again) is coming out now. The passengers are coming out. They look sleepy (commentator comment - I kid you not). That's because they had to wake up at 4am to catch the flight. Some of them are tourists (really!?).

By the way, it is the CEO flying the plane. And I have to shower and get ready to work. What's happening in the rest of the world...?

Hong Kong news coverage

It's 8am in Hong Kong... when I wake up, I usually turn on the TV and watch the news.

Apparently, today is the first day where there will be direct flights between Taiwan and China. So when I turn on the TV, Channel 1 has a shot at a plane taxiing the tarmac. The commentator explains that this plane is going to so and so place, and that this is the first time there are non-holiday direct flights, blah blah blah... and "we are waiting for the flight to take off..."

5 minutes later, the camera is STILL ON THE PLANE! The commentator is running out of things to say. Most of the time I'm just staring at the plane moving a little with no sound. She's made a few sparse comments... I mean, what model is it? how many people are on it? who's the pilot? how much is the seat? is fuel expensive? how's the safety record? I'm beaming with questions.

Finally, and thankfully, after another minute (yup, that's 6 minutes with the camera on the freaking plane... who knows how many minutes they spent before I turned on the the TV), she finally commented that "the plane has not taken off..." and returned to regular news.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Hong Kong media!


Summer Movie Season

Not a good start for the summer season. Somehow I've missed Ed Norton's (Only my favorite actor of my life time) Hulk. Sigh.

The Sparrow: From a pure artistic viewpoint, this is a pretty good movie. A good combination of music and scenes taken from the streets of Hong Kong. However, the script was weak and I watched two hours of non-sense. Like I said, at least it was artistic. (Just not two hours of it) Verdict: not very recommended.

Wanted: Hands down the dumbest movie I've seen this year. Since when do studios stop making movies for people who are 25 to 40? There was Atonement for a mature audience. Then there's this piece of shit for young males. Apparently the tag line is "Choose your destiny." (Same as the deep and somewhat disturbing No Country for Old Men). The last line, I think, is "what the fuck have you done lately." To Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie, I ask the same question "WTFHYDL"... to those who are thinking of seeing this movie, I say "choose your destiny." Verdict: Do not see.

You know what, I'll even give you the picture of a pretty naked Jolie so you won't waste your money... I couldn't find a picture that had her butt as well. I think this is the studio's ploy to make sure you buy a $70 ticket (HKD, lads, HKD) to see her butt.

21: Standard Hollywood. I really have nothing to add besides that I was watching it with friends I met in Outward Bound. One of them mentioned that she reads my blog. Thank you very much, vanity. Anyway, it was nice to make friends via these unconventional methods. Um. 21. Yes. What? I forgot. It was a decent movie. Why did Morphius not hit the 21 kid in slow mo? I keep waiting for him to draw a sword and start doing Matrix things. Verdict: sure, go see it, why not...


Weekend in Hong Kong

Before I talk about the weekend, this link will absolutely blow your mind. I think it's going to be the next generation of consultant presentations.

One of the greatest advantages that Hong Kong has as a city is the contrast between East and West... oh, that's so cliche. How about modern and nature. When you think Hong Kong, you think buildings. You think neon lights. You think clubs and karaokes.

Here's my weekend:

Saturday, on my way to the office to pick up some documents
From my seat, I can see the busy harbour, keeping HK as the #1 (or 2?) busiest port in the world
Sunday: I'm off to Sai Kung to hike some marvelous hills; Here's the South China Sea.

(By the way, don't hike the route when webs are formed across the path: there's a good chance that the rest of the hike will be going through vegetation and sliding down steep slopes with no real visible road. Not good times.)

Hong Kong, where crazy city meets serene nature.


Celtics win!

I know I know, I'm a bit late on the eventual Celtics post. Boston sports fans have been truly spoiled by the recent (super) success of the Red Sox and Patriots. And now the Celtics!

Curt Schilling (Red Sox! Sadly, he might be retiring...) stirred up quite a controversy after Game 2 by "talking about" Kobe's tendency to yell at his teammates after mistakes and his teammates non-responsiveness towards their best teammate. Which got me thinking: what makes the best leader? Though Schilling caveats his own observation by saying that he doesn't play the sport and maybe basketball is like that, he clearly has taken a shot at Kobe. Allow me to take another.

What happens when a teammate makes a mistake on his or her task?

Option 1: Critique, tighten control, do it yourself, minimize mistake, move on
Option 2: Critique, seek common solution, give another opportunity, tighten observation

Kobe seems to choose option 1. In fact, many people choose option 1. Why? Minimize mistakes cus asses are on the line. What's the downside? The teammate has all of it. Well, he or she did make the mistake in the first place, so maybe he (screw the he or she) deserves it. Nonetheless, that's bad for the teammate and bad for the team in the future. Can he still be trusted? Will he ever do stuff that is even slightly important? Will the team be able to leverage this resource?

I say no when you choose option 1. Disagree? Ask Sasha and Lamar.


When this happens... you're getting old

Thanks for all the well wishes around the world. I was surprised twice in the past week by surprise parties (if you can call them that).

Despite my prediction that Facebook won't be able... it still remains the number one medium for wishing me happy birthday. Sadly, FB didn't benefit from it...

Anyway, this happened on my birthday when I got back home. I'll let you make judgments.

Haha! You can also guess the solution.


Chris Mihm plays

Man, the moment I mentioned Chris Mihm... he actually played THREE minutes in the NBA finals!! (??) THREE MINUTES! That's like subbing me for the boys who mop the floor and have to be quick enough to vacate the premise when a fast break comes the other way. And I'm not even fast enough for those... I'm truly perplexed by the Zen Master.

And then I get this from PNGF: "hey, mihm is playing!" She now knows 6 players on the Lakers, plus the coach.

Oh, and she knows Pierce, Kevin, Posey, and that guy who was in a movie with Denzel. However, she doesn't know Paul, Garnett, James, and Ray Allen.

A friend of mine messaged me the other day: you've been blogging a lot lately! Well... I've always wanted to blog more since I have many silly thoughts. I just don't have time or I don't gather my silly thoughts in one place. Will try and improve for sure.

Let me remind myself blog about Facebook and birthdays next time... next time.


Celtics!! (and a movie)

PNGF is a Lakers "fan" (She was able to name one player on the Lakers. Chris Mihm. Go figure. Just kidding, she knew Kobe... and also knew Phil Jackson), so it's been a frosty relationship the last week or so. I watched Game 2 in its entirety and worked a bit of sweat as the Lakers came back from 24 points down to fall just short. Phew.

Game 4 saw the Celtics fall behind by 24 early. Unfortunately, I couldn't watch the game as I was at work. I did, however, watch one play as I went to lunch. Ray Allen driving right past Sasha (whatever his last name is) and putting in a lay up that was so easy I might have been able to do it. I think Pau Gasol's finger nail might have gotten in the way though, so kudos to him. What a joke. How did that Laker defense get anywhere in the playoffs!?

Celtics are up 3-1 and need just one more win. Go Celtics!

More frosty relationships. Despite PNGF's horrible review, I decided to give The Vantage a try. This is one of those movies where the preview was so good that it really drove me to see it. With my rock bottom expectations, it actually wasn't that bad. We spent the first hour watching the same story 3 to 4 times, almost deciding to cut the TV feed before the 5th (4th?) loop of the same story gave us a twist that was pretty good. I enjoyed it to the end... and almost forgot that the movie bore us for an hour before turning somewhat exciting. Note to producers and directors: you're not Momento. You cannot play the time line trick unless it is all exciting all the time. Slightly recommended.