Hiking in 2 days...

Wow, we're actually doing this! The 50Km hike around Hong Kong to support Green Power (much better than Green Peace in my idealogical map!) is going to be exciting and fun.

(By the way, please support us by making a pledge here!)

Here's the start of the trail:

We'll be taking pictures along the 50km hike... pledge to support us!


Holy... my life just might change...

I can read my blog post via Google Reader on The Crackeric (that's right, I just named it)! Wow, this might really have a large impact on my life. Did you know I subscribe to about 60 different RSS feeds of different blogs and websites? This means I can read SG articles on the run. SG ARTICLES! ON THE RUN!

I think this might have a bigger impact than "my boss can locate me at any given moment via email." (And you think I'm kidding!?)

(Also important to note: I will read this post on The Crackeric later tonight when I am having a foot massage!)

On Crack...

That's right, I finally got my first blackberry. A partner warned us that it is life changing. We'll see.

In fact, one of the main reason that I am writing this post is because I want to see if the post will show up in Google Reader.

I've moved into my new home for 2 weeks now; today is the first day that I took a non-cab public transportation from the office to the new home. I don't know why this is important to disclose.

Let's see if the Crackberry picks up the new blog post...


Some news...

I moved from the bustling Wan Chai to the more quiet Kennedy Town. The new place is a bit... uh... cozy (Marge Simplson style) but the sofa is nice. It can recline electronically. That's all I ask for all my next homes: electronically reclining sofas.

Speaking of the new home, the most amazing part was actually the move. I had about 30 boxes that needed to be moved. A mover came, carried everything from home to truck, truck to new home, drove... all for a mere USD $38! I paid him $60.

Back in Hong Kong, long time TV star Lydia Shum died after some devastating battles with cancer. She's affectionately known as "Fat Fat" and "Happy Fruit." Nowadays, it will be impossible for someone who is fat and not pretty to be successful in the entertainment industry. This loss will be sorely missed.

On the other hand, Edison Chan is back in Hong Kong and apologized to basically everybody. No sign of our culprit technician though. Shouldn't he be the one who needs to apologize (and be charged)?


Awards Ceremony for Indecent Photos...

Oscars will go on as usual thanks to the settlement reached by the Writer's Guild. Unfortunately, writers like myself (laugh...) don't get compensated at all. Nonetheless, I held my own award ceremony - by the way, this refers to the very indecent pictures of some top Hong Kong stars surfacing on the Internet, and the subsequent fallout where stars have fallen, people were arrested, police were embarrassed, media had a fieldweek, etc etc. If you have no idea what I am talking about, I guess Google can help you:

The "OJ Simpson" Award for getting away with murder: The same computer repairman. Why is nobody blaming this guy!? Didn't he steal? Why is Edison et al under the microscope for having sex? Would you rather deal with the Edisons, 阿娇s, Cecilia Cheungs, Bobos of the world, or a dishonest person who might steal from you any time? (and hey, if Edison is the one who leaked the pictures, we'll just substitute his name here. I have a strong feeling that isn't the case)

The "Not Guilty" award to the not so innocent but truly not guilty: Everybody, Edison included, who appeared in the indecent pictures. What did they do wrong? Nothing at all! Why are we condemning them?
The "Guilty" award to the people claiming innocence but quite guilty: Internet Citizens of Hong Kong, you shouldn't be judging Edison's character when you are passing around his private files around. If any, you are almost as guilty as the person who first stole it. In fact, one of the biggest lessons here is, as my friend said, Internet Citizens have thought of themselves as a media source, yet lack the (western, anyway) media ethics. Each one of them has become a Next Magazine and also self righteous about it!
The "Accomplice" award to the true accomplice of the whole incident: Media. You have targeted 阿娇 for being fake. You have targeted the HK Police for selective prosecution. You have targeted Edison for his lifestyle. You have ripped all the fake masks. Yet you fail to rip the true culprit the technician. Oh, I understand, ripping the technician doesn't sell newspapers, right? Okay then.

The "Supply and Demand" Award for a working commercial world: HK citizens and HK media. Hey, I want to see naked pictures. Oh, here, we'll publish it for you! Morals be damned. Public interest rules.

The "Apple Daily" Award for "报不平" (reporting the unfair - that's their slogan...): Apple Daily, who have self-righteously put the indecent picture incidence on their headlines for a whole week. Meanwhile, the world is happening.

The "Roger Clemens" Award for blaming everybody but himself: The so called Hong Kong Internet Citizen. Oh, so peeking at private photos is doing the right thing? And the Hong Kong Police trying to stop the spread is not? And people having sex in the bedroom is not?

The "Isiah Thomas" Award for this is going to end very badly: Bobo Chan. The only difference is that I feel very bad for Bobo, and not at all for Isiah.

The "Marion Jones" Award for lying and lying and lying, and finally admitting the truth: 阿娇.

The "Dick Chaney" Award for being incompetent but safe from trouble because the other people are even more incompetent: all the other ladies were spared the embarassment because the leads were so popular.

The "Michael Jackson" Award for needing plastic surgery: Congrats, Edison, you have multiple targets on your neck now. And that's if you are lucky. There are a few who would take your private parts away... before they go for the neck. Good luck, brother.

The "彭定康是千古罪人" Award for the true culprit: The computer repairman who stole all the information.

The "Jack Bauer" Award for saying trust me many many times: Edison, you win again. Also related is the "Prison Break" Award for trusting those that shouldn't be trusted: All the ladies involved.

The "Paris Hilton" Award for using sex tapes as a publicity stint: The Hong Kong Police. People in public office should either have very ambiguous things to say. I'm just saying.

The "What did I do to deserve this" Award for what did I do to deserve this: Twins' Ah Sa who will probably have to go solo... which means her lack of singing talent can no longer be hidden through a duet. A close second is Emperor Studios, who stand to lose a lot of money if Twins goes down. A close third is the poor Hong Kong Police, who have done everything to bring justice to those responsible, yet get chastised every bit of the way.

The "George W. Bush" Award for person who needs a lesson in public speaking: 黄福全, one of the higher ups in the Hong Kong Police force. His speech about "if you have 正野 and share with your friends, that is okay!" is priceless and should be course material.

The "Martin Lee" Award for being misquoted by leftists and then skewered by the leftists: Hong Kong Police Commissioner 邓竟成, who read out the law on distributing indecent pictures and was quoted only the part of "owning them might be illegal." Instead of leftists, those who misquote him are our democratic media. Hurray for "democratic" media who care about public interest.

The "Britney Spears" Award for the fallen star: 阿娇. She's (or the studio that desperately needs her dollars?) already plotting a come back...

The "Mariah Carrie" Aware for reviving a career: TBD. Personally, I don't think any of them have much of a chance. The public has judged.

The "Faye Wong" Award for I don't fucking care about what you fucking care: This hasn't emerged yet, but I have a strong feeling that Cheng Pak Chi is going to win this award. If she doesn't win, it will be the aforementioned 黄福全.

The "玉女掌门人" Award for ignorance: To all the people who think Twins are actually 玉女. Seriously, you believed them?


My favorite picture in 2007...

It's been a while since I posted new pictures in Picasa. Last time I uploaded pictures was Csurgo Hungary. I now have more than 10 new albums, mostly from Hong Kong (including temples of Wong Dai Sin and Po Lin... and also food at various restaurants and several hikes), but also some from Macao, Taipei, and New York. Anyway, enjoy the pictures, including an album with my favorite pictures.

The above is my favorite picture from 2007. There are of course better pictures... but I liked this one in particular because I spent a long time to get this "perfect" shot. Without a tripod, I relied on a boken sign post to have a stable stand for my camera. Then I had to wait for the right time to hit the shutter since I wanted to see both the head lights and tail lights trail in the picture. I must have took about 50 pictures before finally getting a few that seemed okay.

It's been a month and a half since 2008, and I haven't even taken one picture that I liked. Sigh.

Some links to share:
  • EXCELLENT quick tutor on photo composition. Though I am not a pro, this is exactly what I do when I have a camera in my hands.
  • While I'm blogging, this is an interesting take on Roger Clemens.
  • I'm not the only one who is abandoning United; I am slowly squeezing what's left of my miles and then not using United anymore. Yay!
  • Here's a Chinese article addressing the naked pictures in Hong Kong.
  • I'm endorsing Obama in the race, only because his chief economist has a brain.


Chinese Movies disappoint (again)

Happy Chinese New Year! 恭喜發財! 身體健康! etc etc. Someone wished me 橫財就手... I guess that's something good.

I watched two Chinese movies during Chinese New Year. I've decided I need to be more selective when it comes to Chinese movies and not cut them any slack anymore.

"CJ7" is the newest Steven Chow (of "Shaolin Soccer" and "Kung Fu" fame) installation. It is a well made family movie but not suitable for mature (yup, that me) audience. The Steven Chow humor was lacking and I came away quite disappointed. Anyway, recommended for families. Not recommended for Steven Chow fans.

All you need to know about the movie "Kung Fu Dunk" is the following conversation.

Me: Do you want to watch Juno?
Movie Buddy (MB): Sounds good. Friday night?
Me: Friday... hmm... I'm watching Kung Fu Dunk. Please don't judge me...
MB: Oh. (Silence) Okay. Uh-huh.

Well, I guess I deserve the results. This might be the dumbest movie I've seen in years. Sure, Knocked Up was dumb; but it was also damn funny. KFD wasn't even funny (I laughed out once on a commend about mixing wine).

What was truly disturbing was an interview with the director that I saw later on TV - he said he spent a long time thinking about this movie. Really? A movie that relies on special effects involving our hero taking many dunks and then winning the championship takes a long time to think up? Hmmmm. One critic commented that Jay Chow's "acting" is maturing. As far as I can tell, he still has only one emotion (think Dazed and Confused) which he occasionally compliments with a smile. Real mature. Jay, please stick with rapping. You ain't no Marky Mark.

Tonight, I will go see Kite Runner. I'm pretty sure I won't be disappointed. Juno will be on later in the month, I believe.


Only in Hong Kong...

I saw a Ferrari parked on the side of a busy street. And then another Ferrari not far away. And then a Porsche (okay, it was "only" a Carrera) on another street in a few minutes.

Only in Hong Kong do you have people who are rich enough to shell out dough for fancy cars and too cheap to pay for fancy parking. I mean, seriously, aren't you a bit worried that your nice little race car would be scratched in an accident? Can you pay for valet parking (and I do apologize if those parked cars ARE a result of valet parking - if I were the driver, I'd be furious now)? Too much? Park underground and you can annoyingly take up two spots so no other car will even try to squeeze in. I have hundreds of solutions that won't cost you more than HKD200. All to insure damage against the 1M+ cars.

Why so cheap?

Cynical as I am, I believe it's because these guys (or gals) bought the race car because of the price tag. The car is to say I can afford a car, not that I have taste in cars. In this small city of 6 million, I guess people are desperate to stand out from the crowd. Guess what, you succeed: you stand out as a moron putting your lovely car in harms way.



Which is the headline?

So... what happened in Tuesday?
  1. The winter storm in China has subsided and millions of migrant workers (they travel from inner states to prosperous states like Guangzhou for work) will be able to go home to enjoy Chinese New Year with their families. Electricity is restored in several key provinces and families who have gone a whole week without electricity are finally getting light and hot water back.
  2. The US economy is in a full recession with the newest service industry report out indicating a reduction that hasn't happened in years. European markets pummel on news of more sub-prime losses for European banks.
  3. Reporter Cheng Cheong was surprisingly released from prison. Cheng has been convicted of espionage by China and has been in prison for a year and a half now. He has been the focus of human rights groups in Hong Kong and his release is seen as both a victor for these groups and one for the Chinese justice system (!?).
  4. More X-rated photos of a Hong Kong entertainer (Edison Chan) and his various "engagements" with girls, including four girls who are fellow entertainers surface on the Internet. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Police has arrested a computer technician accused of stealing those pictures while fixing the computer. The Police have been under fire for coming down hard on people who have posted those raucous on Internet discussion boards. Edison has been in exile in US and all the girls have been out of sight since the pictures first surfaced 10 days ago.
All TV stations are running with 1 as the headline and 3, 2, and 4 next (in that order).

All newspapers are running with 4 as their headlines. (This includes the Apple Daily, which calls itself the newspaper of truth; also the newspaper which ran an extra in the afternoon to urge people to vote for the pro-democratic candidate Anson Chan)

I'm sad that this is happening in Hong Kong. The TV media seems to have gotten it right. The newspapers, not so much. I read one piece and I felt that it came straight out of a Internet chat room. And they call themselves journalists.


Wing Squad lives on...

The Wing Squad rules... again
32 hours of flight time to spend 30 quality hours in SFO. This warrants a time stamp entry:

1130 - shit, I forgot to bring my driver's license...
1200 - printed out all work-related material... ready to head to airport
1300 - phew, got on the earlier flight to SFO
1310 - enjoying business class lounge - the noodles are surprisingly good! (dessert was a downer)
1420 - snooze
1630 - oh, we took off already? Work...
1631 - Bourne Supremacy is more interesting than work
1745 - Work
2030 - Snooze
2230 - just lost all respect for Clive Owens. I watched the ending of a pretty stupid movie that ended with him holding bullets in between his fingers and using the fire place to heat the bullets and fire them into the bad guy (lost respect for him too - the guy in Sideways)
2300 - Snooze

0100 - just lost some respect for Nicole Kidman and the new 007. They were also involved in a pretty dumb ending with some extraterrestrial virus invading human bodies

Saturday (time difference... I arrive before I depart... it's confusing to me too)
0926 - arrive in SFO
1135 - PNGF arrive in SFO
1230 - Priceline won't let PNGF drive since I had put down my own name (and I forgot my license)
1300 - PNGF friend to the rescue!
1500 - Brunch, no matter what time, is always appreciated
1600 - Snooze
1900 - God I miss ESPN
2100 - Dinner at NOLA - Skirt steak was great
2315 - Beer and foosball; got my ass kicked by WL

0130 - Back to the hotel to snooze
0930 - Wake up
0931 - God I miss ESPN
1130 - Bagel for breakfast
1230 - Shopping in Palo Alto
1245 - Find out that there's nothing to shop in Palo Alto
1320 - Shopping in Stanford Shopping Center
1445 - The Wing Squad assembles
1500 - Superbowl Kickoff!
1530 - Wing Squad mission accomplished...
1930 - Heartbreak loss
2030 - Goodbye to Wing Squad members
2100 - Goodbye to PNGF
2130 - Hello to American airport security!
2200 - Download work emails

0005 - Back in the air again...
0030 - Work
0330 - Done with work... why do movies on Cathay Pacific suck?
0530 - Okay, I just watched Minority Report, which was the best movie playing. Man. Snooze.
1345 - Good sleep. Oh, they're showing Armageddon as well...
1430 - Always laughed when Armageddon ends. This time is no different. Let's send drillers to outer space. Awesome idea!

Tuesday (damn that time difference)
0645 - Stores already open in the airport: that's a good sign of capitalism. Back in Hong Kong (already)!

I have a rule of not putting food pictures that are deceiving. This is not.

This isn't deceiving either. It's chocolate mousse, not ice cream! (Nothing like that in Loire Valley though)

More thoughts on Superbowl later.


Bain terms...

Couple of new terms I love, courtesy of Bain parter PH (a.k.a. person who explained at-cause... not sure if that was his invention):
  • Bain Jujitsu - something you don't like? that's fine. right back at you: think of how to fix it!
  • Virtual Baby - parents can leave at 8pm because they have to attend to their baby at home; what's your virtual baby at 8pm?
(Random note: bloggers are in danger! Yet I digress.)

Back to virtual baby: I started writing the below on Jan 1st... then kept it on the shelf. Oh well. Jan was a low productivity month in terms of blogging. It's a comment I posted in response to a friends blog:
  • "If you can't find satisfaction from work, it is indeed difficult to zero in on those non-work, non-sleep time and find a lot of happiness. 敬業樂業 is difficult to do. I believe this is one course the GSB, or any MBA program, didn't teach. For two years, I lived a life that was unrealistically fun and fulfilling and focused on changing careers. Now that I have succeeded, I find it hard to refocus on the new career and find fun and fulfillment from it."
Hold on... I need to understand my own English. Okay, let's move on.

The virtual baby idea ties nicely to the comment. In an ideal world, you make your living by doing something you absolutely love. That is, however, not always the case. If you can't find satisfaction from work, then you have to find satisfaction from life - i.e. the virtual baby.

What's yours?

I think mine is in travel and photography. (Not a good excuse to tell my team that I have to leave at 8pm though!!!) Will continue to develop these.

While I'm on work, Mark Cuban has some wisdom (!) on effort, sweat equity, and his passion for what he does for a living. Mark is obviously a very lucky person. Or was he so determined that he made his own luck?

Last note:

I'm off to San Francisco to watch the Superbowl (On TV, with college buddies) for the weekend. 32 hours of airplane for 30 hours of madness with friends and PNGF. The Wing Squad (2007) lives on. And to think in 2006 that the Wing Squad was over!

Mother Tongue education failing...!?

On the radio today... turns out the Education Department has been following the progress of students from schools using Chinese as the medium of education and comparing them to ones that attend schools using English as the language medium. That's great... finally someone can prove that mother tongue education is the way to go (I wrote this as my final project for my first college English class... I was very convincing back then).

Instead, the Chinese University commissioned study found that students in Chinese high schools have 50% less chance on getting into Universities! Among the core reasons is all Universities mandate a minimum of "D" score in the English public exam.

Conclusion 1: Chinese schools need to improve in English.
Conclusion 2: Universities have an unreasonable barrier to entry.

Let the consultant go to work: could it be that only the best students get into English schools and therefore have a higher chance of getting into University!? Oh wait... that's how the schools were divided in the first place! Good schools stayed English and bad ones were converted to Chinese to improve the student overall experience in other subjects (as opposed to struggling in every subject taught in English). Of course you'll find a difference in "college conversion"...

Let the consultant go to work again: "D" is a pretty low score for any subject. Universities teach in English. I don't see any unreasonable barriers.


What they say...

"I feel so defeated" from someone who decided to head back to the US for a significant other. Ah, but you win in other areas!

"I can't tell all in a blog that bears my name" from a good friend who still blogs. You don't have to. Don't feel pressured!

"I didn't realize being an MBA switches your responsibility from doing the work to making sure others are doing the work." Better believe it! If only every MBA were that lucky...

"Life sucks..." as my friend drinks his fifth beer. Can't be that bad if you're on your fifth beer...

"Honeymoon? I can't even handle the wedding!" there are many weddings this year... this was one of the best complaints I've heard.