Tons of reviews...

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead: look beyond the plot (Brothers conspire to rob parent’s jewelry shop turns horribly wrong) and you will find some very fine acting by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawk, and the lawyer boss from Erin Brocovich. The story is pieced together using a time line approach, jumping to different times with perspectives from different characters. Sorry, Mr. Director, this isn’t going to work for a predictable piece. Momento remains unscathed. Needless to say, not recommended.

Atonement: The best revelation is that, for better or worse, I am not a “mature audience” yet, as this film is meant for. Too long, too slow, too boring. Not even Keira Knightly kept me interested (her coming out of the fountain barely clothed notwithstanding). Not recommended.

Charlie Wilson’s War: As SW put it nicely, “this is such a typical American movie.” Tom Hanks plays a congressman with slight character flaws (women and booze, can we blame him?) but finds a conscious while visiting a refugee camp. As a result, he funds the Afghan people with enough weapons to beat the Russians, only to find the funding dry up when it comes to building a school in Afghan. Philip Seymour Hoffman (again!) stars again with some excellent dialogs with Tom Hanks. You gotta love it when two great actors are having fun together. There’s a certain chemistry that cannot be replaced. The same thing can’t be said of Julia Roberts, who plays some Texas woman fighting for the Afghan cause. A character that should have been, in consultant talk, rationalized. Recommended only if you understand some US politics to appreciate the humor.

Joe’s Stone Crab
I had no idea that the “Key Lime” in Key Lime Pie meant lemons from the Florida Keys. Had I known, I would have ordered them from Joe’s Stone Crab, which claims to have the best in town. Their stone crabs are the other draw, and they were delicious. Get the jumbo size ones cus they have the best meat. Get one order for two people so you don’t get sick of crab meat after three big claws. Here's a picture for 2 orders (yes, that's too many claws, we got all crabbed out)

Crepeville (can't find it... maybe it's called Crepevine...)
I miss brunch (American brunch) so much that anything can satisfy me. This particular establishment near the San Francisco airport (thanks to AA and CX ineptitude) rose to the occasion. Salmon crepe was great... more importantly, there's a hot chocolate that taste like chocolate, not water! What a concept! Yummy brunch.

H One (new review site in HK... problem is it doesn't give a rating)
Pretty decent meal at the IFC. Duck breast were tender and just dry enough to be well complimented by tangerine orange. Excellent appetizer. The main dish was a prawn dish with naan. I love naan. No pictures for the tiramisu-coffee ice cream combination though, since it wasn’t pretty and, frankly, wasn’t very good.


Bain Train

Did I ever mention that the MBA was like a dream? Well, it seems like I'm finally waking up from the dream. Waking me up? None other than "Training in Miami"...!

Allow me to explain. Training is not taken lightly at Bain. The fact that they flew us all the way to Miami for a week and put us all up at the very expensive Intercontinental (Completely and utterly overrated... some might call it piss poor) shows their commitment to training. We worked for six days straight, usually past dinner. Anyway, with serious training comes serious thoughts.

Many would argue that working for the big banks (sorry, Bear Stearns) and consulting firms is like a continuation of the MBA. Your peers are fellow MBAs from similar programs. The life is sort of un-real with all the money and travel straight out of school. Everybody is smart and you always feel dumb. Speaking of this feeling, a PhD friend of mine tells me that Stanford has sessions to settle the new PhDs down since they always feel dumb among their peers. Point is, you feel dumb when you hang around smart people. Yet I digress: back to the parallels.

Bain training is sort of like brining you back to the MBA. Lots of learning in a very low risk environment. And yet, you are constantly reminded that these are the tools that you will need to be able to do well at Bain. Some may be left behind if the tools are not learned and performance is not good. Clearly, it's not an MBA anymore. This is serious business. The real world has always been harsher than the dream world.


I'm a spoiled brat...

Or is it too much to:
  • Have no mechanical errors on a plane?
  • Have more than one staff handle over a dozen people who missed the connecting flight due to the mechanical error?
  • Have a dedicated staff to handle your best customers so they don't have to fight in a crowd to get ahead in line?
  • Give everybody the same vouchers instead of some people getting hotel AND meal vouchers and others (me, that is) getting only a hotel one because others didn't ask?
  • Release the luggage when people miss their connection flights? You know, just so they can change clothes and maybe brush their teeth?
  • Make sure the luggage stuck in storage is on the next flight?
  • Make sure the luggage is on the flight after you promised the customer that it would be on the flight?
  • Not blame something else (weather, other airline, other department) and admit some guilt?
That's all a loyal customer asks, really. Or am I a spoiled brat?

Arg, I'm so angry, I can't even blog about Bain training in Miami.


Other signs...

Well, insofar as traveling goes, Asia indeed has a much better value proposition. I was a bit unfair to the USA in my last top 10 list. Here are some signs that you are in the USA:

10. waitresses calling you honey
9. great beer collection
8. flip flops
7. bikinis
6. blue skies... oh wait, since I thought this, Miami has been cloudy... WTF!?

By the way, BIG BIG BIG kudos to the new Cathay inflight entertainment. Basically, it's an on-Demand system with a 12-inch screen. The movies weren't top-notch, but did include two academy-worthy movies, Juno and No Country for Old Men. There were also episodes of CSI: New York, Heroes, etc.

I watched No Country for Old Men. Very violent. Intense throughout. Excellent movie... though I can't really pinpoint why. There was a vague point about making choices in life, as opposed to life making choices. It was one of those things that was crystal clear during the movie, getting murky towards the end, and Tommy Lee's last speech just confused everything. (The only thing I do remember is the gas station bet) Couple of thoughts:
  • I won't flip the coin unless you tell me the W and L. I can run multiple models in my head to determine whether there is an expected positive return.
  • I will flip only if the terms can be measured. Life, for example, cannot be measured.
  • Don't talk to strangers (laugh)
Also watched 6 episodes of Heroes Season 2. Not nearly as good as Season 1, where there was actually a theme! Note to the networks: you can't just slam random stories around and expect the viewers to tightly follow the plot and guess what the story line is going to be. I have to be "very interested" for it to work. And I'm not.

Breakfast time. Hopefully Miami will have some sunshine today.

You are back in the USA when...?

Top ten signs that you are back in the USA (from a traveling consultant's point of view):

10. You find extra time to blog since the lines are so freaking long AND slow
9. Strangers talk to you at strange times
8. Screaming flight attendants
7. Overrated expensive hotel rooms
6. No complimentary water... or complimentary anything on flights
5. Lines for economy class are longer than that for business class
4. You feel quite fit, especially when eating at the airport food court
3. Butt cracks... back hair... arg...
2. "Take off your shoes please and put them in the X-ray"
1. Instead of elbowing for the arm rest, an Asian special, it's spilling fat over to take possession of an arm rest



Today, someone spoke about the Google Bomb... apparently its something that scams Google to rank its website higher. Anyway, just to test the case, I typed in Josekin (yeah, search yourself in Google... bet you've never done that!) to see what would happen. My home page and blog came up on top... and then this happened:

Yeah, I'm a bit disturbed. Maybe if you all click on this, it might become the top site, over the real Josekin.

Anyway, I watched Juno last week with YT. Remember the ridiculously good Little Miss Sunshine? (Not much of a review) Juno is the less dark version of Little Miss Sunshine. A very depressing topic (teen pregnancy) is used to reflect what could be great things in life. I know nothing about the regular American family, but I imagine it being quite close to Juno's family. Humorous parents (great supporting act from the editor in Spiderman and the woman from West Wing) dealing with crisis like nothing is a big deal... I mean, it is a big deal, but they just don't act it in front of their daughter. The entire family's dry humor is just hilarious. Ellen Page does a courageous job of playing Juno. I don't think a teenager can really deal with pregnancy with the calmness she displayed, but I guess that was needed to make the movie work. The gorgeous Jennifer Garner does an okay job as a desperate mother-wannabe. I didn't feel that the role fit her.

One of the themes of the movie, like the one in Little Miss Sunshine, is to love a person for exactly who they are. There is no need to fake and become someone (something?) else to please others. Just be yourself. If he/she doesn't like that real you, then why bother? Unfortunately, reality is that we all try to please. That "real me" can sometimes be quite scary!

Well, what to do... I'm sure we all aspire to be the "real me" and not worry about how others view us all the time. Some of us can do that a bit more than others (oh, thick skin and dumb brains can help), but we all slip a little bit sometimes. Anyway, back to the movie: highly recommended.


How we hiked 50 km

Well, I did advertise that our team of 4 is hiking the 50km Hong Kong trail. (We're still accepting pledges, by the way) Here it is... step by step! Oh, and thank god for digital photography.

8:25am, Start of the Hong Kong trail - The Peak (Left to right: John, Kwun, Heng, me)
11:38am, ~19km, stretching to loosen tight muscles (So far, moving at 6km/hr... on the easiest part of the Hong Kong trail)
3:42, 30km, John is the last to arrive at this check point... revised speed: 4.2km/hr (lunch and a big break included)
3:44, 30km, requisite group photo
4:02, 30km, requisite medical attention (same spot, revised speed:4km/hr)
6:46, 41km, last check point. We're hiking on empty gas. Speed: 4.04km/hr
7:09, 41km, hiking in the dark takes a lot of focus and energy (especially without a light!)
9:48, 50km, we're done! Final speed is 3.75km/hr

We're still tallying the pledges... it'll probably be a $5,000 (HKD) donation to Green Power. Thanks for all the support and enjoy the pictures.