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.


This is how you do it

It being analyzing a media report. This article highlights the importance of being educated and informed before you jump to conclusions. I understand it is human nature to gather as little information as possible to make the right decision (I'm sorry, I meant it is consultant nature). The key word being right. And sometimes, you just need to dig a little deeper.

Poor Hilary (by the way, I'm excited about Obama, though slightly worried. His experience reminds me of GW's experience when he ran for his first term) can't win. I think she heard the question multiple times and then decided to be prudent and added "as far as I know". This is like my boss asking me if I'm sure the growth is 10%.

Boss: Is the growth 10%?
Me: Yes, it is. I validated it with industry experts, competitive interviews, and third party data source.
Boss: So you are sure it is 10%?
Me: Yes.
Boss: There's no way it isn't 10%? Can it be 12%?
Me: as far as I can tell from all the research, yes, it is 10%

(The above is a fictional conversation, please continue to hire consultants)

Be informed before you pass judgment.


做人不能太... 没有主张

Well, vanity (my favorite sin according to the devil!) takes over on June 4th. My post a while ago somehow got picked up by some website on the "media revolution" mission on Western media. Fascinating stuff. Here we go again.

It's been 19 years since a child in Hong Kong wrote a Chinese essay on how sad he was to know about tanks crushing students in Beijing and received the highest marks in his class (maybe even historically - maybe) for his writing. I wish I kept that essay somewhere.

What ever happened to the June Forth Incident? To Tibetan Riots? To Beijing Olympics? Well, the Earthquake happened. Poor Pro-Tibet supporters all scatter for cover as the Chinese free media machines wakes up to show the world how bad Sichuan is and how normal compassionate people ought to help the suffering Chinese. Pro-China advocates sigh as they use the earthquake as shield against pro-democratic protests. Beijing sighs as the spotlight switches. No, this may not all be politically correct. But you and I know it's the objective truth that happened.

Me? After 19 years, I'd like to take a moment to remember those who perished or forever scared in Tiananmen Square.


While I was in Korea, I actually saw the Kyung Lah piece on the one-child policy on CNN again. Offended again, I wondered why she didn't report on the "extra" sadness that some children have due to the "one-parent" policy. Thankfully, on the same day, I read this objective report on human rights.

做人不能太... 没有主张. Reading media news these days takes a certain art and objectivity because the articles lack them (art and objectivity).

Take the Sharon Stone debacle. Stone wondered if the earthquake was karma. Despite her apology and explanation, I believe she used karma as a proxy for "revenge" despite karma being a Buddhist term that explains the circle of life (Go see Andy Lau's 大只佬 if you are interested, highly recommended movie). Was it wrong?
  • Super yes, especially when Dior takes her commercial dollars away.
  • Yes, since anyone would be accused to be un-American (thanks, Bushie!) if they thought 911 was karma
  • No, since this was just a politically incorrect personal opinion
  • Super no, why can't I say what's on my mind
Does Stone deserve all the extreme angry responses? I say only if you are ignorant. The enemy is ignorance, not fear. Nowadays, I find it especially true. If you read the transcripts and really learn about the context and situation, you can find a humble Sharon Stone trying to make the point that "you ought to be nice to people, even when they are not nice to you." Her example, Earthquake = Karma, is horrible but nonetheless reflected a portion of her opinion. Anyway, she's entitled to her opinion, me thinks.
Read news, take it with a grain of salt, read different perspectives, be educated, and then, maybe, maybe form an opinion. Don't be ignorant.

And now, allow me to remember victims of man-made and nature-made tragedies. Of the world.




With traveling to Korea comes movies on the airplane... I chose to watch movies that I would never pay for:

National Treasure 1 & 2: well, it was entertaining. That's about it. Nic Cage was actually kind of convincing. Amazing up and down career he has had so far! Recommended if you have a lot of free time in your hands AND if you want to learn a little bit of trivial history AND if you like to see some PG-13 action and explosions.

Rambo: not that I remember anything from Rambo 1 to 3... but this one was quite atrocious. I did, however, enjoy the awkward conversations between Rambo and the missionaries...

Rambo: Leave.
Missionary: Do you have a purpose in life?
Rambo: Leave.
Missionary: But you must have a purpose in life!
Rambo: Leave.
Missionary: But the purpose in life is the most important purpose in life!
Rambo: Leave.

(Note: I made up the last two lines)

Or the all important "do you want to die for nothing or die for something" dialog... (Jack Bauer, how I missed you in Korea!)

Think Saving Private Ryan... except that you reply the first 10 minutes of the movie over and over and over for 2 hours. It's great. Trust me. Not recommended unless you like to see blood splattering and limbs flying everywhere.


Traveling in Kimchi Country

Sadly, Kimchi is not a very photogenic food. Oh well. I have other pictures to share. And the travel site will be updated in due time...

PNGF and I spent a whole week in South Korea touring the current capital (Seoul) and the ancient capital (Gyeongju). Here are some summary statistics:
  • Number of palaces visited: 3
  • Number of temples visited: 3
  • Number of ancient tombs visited: Many many
  • Number of traditional ceremonies to celebrate the King's birthday: 1 (1 per year)
  • Percentage of UNESCO World Heritage sites visited: ~90% (we skipped a castle near Seoul and that's about it)
  • Number of North Koreans encountered: 6
  • Number of North Koreans spoken to: Zero
  • Number of South Korean soldiers encountered: ~8
  • Number of South Korean soldiers who smiled: Zero
  • Number of empty cabbies that drove past us in disgust: Many many
  • Number of hours spent of subway per day: 2
  • Percentage of people watching TV on their mobiles on the subway: ~20%...!!
  • Number of Korean restaurants frequented: All the time
  • Number of Korean restaurants with kimchi: all
  • Number of Korean restaurants with more than 10 dishes to order: none
  • Number of Italian restaurants frequented: 1 (Reminder: considering that PNGF doesn't like Italian, this is a huge breakthrough - more on this later)
  • Number of Thai restaurants frequented: 1
  • Number of Korean restaurants that masked itself as a Japanese restaurant: 1
  • Number of man purses observed: Too traumatized to count
  • Number of Nikon D3 cameras observed: Too envious to count
Since working as a consultant, I can only talk bullet points and frameworks now. Key learning:
  • Recommend to visit for 5 days with 2 days outside of Seoul
  • If Korean food is your thing (it is mine), recommend to extend trip to 8-10 days
  • If you speak Korean, 2 weeks would do you good.
  • If you don't like spicy food, recommend to reduce stay to 2-3 days in Seoul
  • Palace 1 is the same as palace 2 is the same as palace 3; All are same as Chinese/Japanese palaces
  • Take a cab before 12am or after 2am (this is not negotiable)
Oh, pictures:

Main building in Changdeokgung, Korea's best preserved palace - if you're visiting one palace only (I recommend that), this is the one to go to
Gyeongbokgun, the most famous palace is so because it is the first, holds ceremonies on the day we visited; it does have something the other palaces don't have: change of guards

Changgyeonggung is worth a visit, mostly because it is attached to an ancient temple
DMZ is well worth a visit: use the USO tour as they have military personnel as your tour guides; here's one North Korea... he looked at us with binoculars sometimes
In Gyeongju, Korea's ancient capital, the Bulguksa temple is the site to visit
Anapji is the summer palace for the Silla kingdom... many sites are open till 10pm with good lighting
The gate to Seokguram Grotto, which was very difficult to get to but not all that impressive. Also, no pictures allowed of the Grotto... they should make it no flash.

Korean food - love the side dishes...!