Monday, December 31, 2007

Special Day of the Year

As part of my split of personality, on the one hand, I think that I’m no different than many folks in the society, cos I may have my own background, thinking or hobbies, I’m just a regular folk that easily ease in this complex society. On the other hand, I think that I’m very different from most folks, I’m not like most of them, I’m unique and don’t hesitate to go against what many others believe. One of the example is that, I don’t particularly fond of the idea of doing certain things on certain days of the year just because many others are doing it. However, those things are not something I’ve never done before. Maybe, cos I’m getting old, for many of those things, I’ve feeling of ‘been there, done that’. So, those things are just not appeal to me.

That’s why I won’t be keen on going out tonight to see the night scene across the Victoria Harbor, or going to Time Square in Causeway Bay to do so-called ‘Countdown’. Come on, I’d been the real Time Square in NYC on News Year Eve in 1999, how cool was that? So, I won’t even bother to the ‘rip-off/copycat’ even at the Time Square here locally.

To be sarcastic or else, I just don’t see what is the difference before and after midnight tonight?...Nothing! Why people need year end resolution? What they need to recollect what did they do wrong in past year and try to make changes starting January 1? For me, I can and SHOULD do that everyday. For me, all these are just simply excuses, try to make something out of nothing. I may be considered by others as ‘bored’ or ‘anti-social’ because of these. Nonetheless, if things are being looked at in an objective and logical way, I don’t think there is anything wrong with my opinion.

The most ridiculous thing that some local folks ‘created’ is the 'countdown' on Christmas Eve few days ago. Come on, I think it only happens here, cos it makes no sense at all. Christmas is ‘supposed’ to be the birthday of Jesus Christ. Whether he really borne on December 25 2007 years ago is debatable, but why should there be a countdown for that? Birth of Jesus is not like a rocket ready to take off! When some folks that I met on that day mentioned that I simply ridiculed that idea of joining any stupid countdown.

I think that what I said is kinda ‘anti-festival’ in some senses, but that’s not totally true. I respect certain traditions of festival. Just don’t create something out of nothing.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Dreams




Everybody has his/her opinion about dreams. Certainly, I’m not talking about day-dreaming or those so call dreams which are hopes indeed. I’m talking about those subconscious vivid experience while we are in deep sleeping mode.

I love dreams and I dream often in sleep, though I can’t recall 99% of them. But I do know that I’ve dreamed when I wake up in the morning, just base on those 1% residue of dreams. If I didn’t dream the night before, I’ll have a feeling that time passed very fast all through the night, and I will feel the lack of sleep. The feeling is like you flip through a blank book from cover to bottom in a flesh. There is nothing to hold your attention throughout the whole process.

When I was very young, I had a thought: it will be great if I can control my dream. Cos, people say that we sleep one third of our life. When we sleep, we dream. So, logically, if we can totally control our dream, it means we can totally control one third of our life. We can control what we do, what are the consequences and how we feel. How cool is that? We would be so free in our dream, cos dream world is our world. We can do whatever we want and we won’t suffer any bad consequence of it. Cos, logic or karma just don’t apply in dreams. If we can really do that, I don’t think anyone will want to wake up! Come to think of it, it is a pretty funny idea!

I’ve many memorable dreams, though most of them I’m not gonna to share with the world. Many people including I believe that dreams mean something. So, there are folks called ‘dream interpreter’ who can tell you what they means. Like it is good to have nightmare….got kill in dream means something good will happen in real life…..etc. I don’t care too much about that, cos to me, they are largely bullshit. But, there are 3 particular aspects about my dreaming experience are quite interesting:

1. How new folks show up in my dream – this is not new to me, but I experience that again recently. As I just changed job, I start meeting new coworkers, after about 3 weeks into my new job, I start to see my new co-workers in my dream. That happened to me before when I began a new phase of my livelihood, like going to college, and changing job.

2. Location of my dream changes – I remember when I was in the States, I start to have dream with backdrop there. The funny thing was that I started to dream in English. As least that was the language that I spoke to my then new friends in my dreams.

3. Illogical combination of people in my dreams – Certainly, things that happened in my dreams are already illogical, even though some of them deem to be some sort ‘realistic’. However, I just have folks showed up in my dreams that are no way logical to have interaction with each other in real life. Like have friends in Hong Kong mixed with friends in the U.S., folks that I know in the past meet with historical figures and folks in showbiz. That’s just not logical. Also, the ‘me’ in my dreams sometimes swap between being first person and third person, somewhat like switching from watching a movie to being in a video game. That’s also quite weird!

I wonder if other people have same experience as mine.

Expectation and Emotion


Recently, this thought came to my mind, when I was taking a shower….there are 2 sources of emotion drivers throughout our life.

The first one is from inside. It is largely biological. Like you feel pain, tired, sleepy, etc. Those things make you crampy or upset. Or simply emotional due to fluctuation in hormone level as a result of some physical activities.

The second one is from outside. Namely, what happen outside that affect how we feel. That is usually because we have already established certain expectation as a result of years of experience of either observing others or in person of what leads to what among things.

For example, when we won a prize in lottery, we felt like we get something out of nothing. Virtually, no effort had been made other than just showing up in the right place or bought a cheap ticket. However, what we won had value. We could use it ourselves, or gave it to others which could generate some returns of favor. Therefore, having gain something ended up making us feel good, as it can generate great consequence that we will benefit one way or the other. Therefore, next time when we won a prize, we will feel good immediately, even though the consequence of using the prize has not yet begun.

As experiences are being accumulated everyday, unless we suffer from memory loss. It is very hard to change a person’s expectation in perceptions. The older we are, the harder to change. Somehow, this becomes a building block of our characters.

However, there are so few people will get a grip of the fact that just because XXX happens externally doesn’t mean that we must feel YYY. The relationship between XXX and YYY can be de-linked, especially, when YYY is something negative. Unlike mathematics, double negativity doesn’t generate positivity in human emotion. That’s why when I read that ‘We may not be able to change what happens around us, but we can choose to react”, I felt like a light bulb is flashing inside my head. It sounds so simply and logical, how come I’ve never thought of that?!....I’m sure it is not something new, it must be first cited thousand years ago by some wise philosophers. However, so few people that I know have ever mentioned that it is something we can do to make us feel better, which can lead to positive actions and consequence for us as well as others around us.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

New job

I've started working for a new employer last monday. Time just flies in this place. 12+hr-day is a norm. Well, getting to know who is who and what they do, etc is something that I need to learn quick. Before I join this company, people were asking me where I was going, I was saying "I'm hopping from an oven to a fireplace". I was semi-joking about that. In fact, what I said is really.... true!
I can describe that I'm working as a fireman now. I'm leading a small team to fight fire everyday, hour by hour, there are fire building everywhere. However, one of my job that my boss really want me to do is to install 'extinguishers' and teach people the 'safety rules'. It's hard to do that when I'm firefighter by the hours. Well, I've not giving up hope yet, cos, I've yet to really begin what I suppose to do. It is still mission possible to me. However, I can say that this place is burning chaotically!
Anyway, after long hours of firefighting everyday, bring home with fatigue is really challenging. So far, on the homefront, things are still being taken care of largely. Thank God for that!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Interesting Painting



See how many of them do you know?
I saw this pic on 'www.littleoslo.com'

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Personal Mobile History



Comparing with most folks in Hong Kong, I think I’m way below average in terms of switching new mobile phone. Most folks changed there mobile annually, and I used to have some colleagues who change their mobile like every 3-4 months. To recount my old mobiles, I think this new one is my 7th. My very first mobile is a Motorola bulky mobile with a thick battery, it was a flip phone that back in 1996-97. My second one is also a Motorola Startec, it was considered to be very small back in 1999. Then, the next one is an Ericsson, not Sony-Ericsson, flip phone, it was gift from my dad back in 1999-2002. Then, I purchase my first Nokia 8250. I used that for few years as it was durable and actually I’m not a heavy caller and I don’t really do much with my phone anyway. After few years amazingly as phones are upgraded, I hadn’t temped to get a new one until 2006, when I bought a Toshiba T30, it was thin of only 9.9mm thick. Unfortunately, it was broken due to a ‘violent’ incident. So, I sold that to a street vendor for $400 and use my wife’s old Nokia phone until last weekend. I bought a new mobile phone last weekend, a Samsung Anycall L768.

I did some research to find out what is available now and finally select this one. It has most of the functions that I need and I join the 3G plan that come with this phone to access news and videos. I think I will enjoy this one when I start my new job next week.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People



Lately, I’ve been quite stressful due to couple of events. Firstly, my two-months-old son was emitted to hospital due to a sudden fever around midnight last week. Thank God, he is ok for now and he has to go through one more invasive testing to check if he has the problem of urine backflow which could be serious download if it remains untreated. That makes my wife very stressful and it flows back to me. Secondly, my wife is worrying about going back to work after more than 10 weeks of maternity leave. Similar to first event, her stress flows back to me. Thirdly, I’m about to start in a new company next week. It is always nice to have a new start in some sense. However, it is a stressful thing to start, knowing that the situation there is by no mean easy. That position, I would say is a quite ‘hostile’ position with some many unknowns. Though, I got inside briefing of the situation, knowing that is one thing, being there is another. I do put some pressure on myself to succeed in the new job there. I feel like I’ve something to prove to myself.

The stress above is substantial, and I don’t think I’m fully prepared to handle all of them when the timings of the above are so intertwined. However, while I’ve tried to do some soul-searching on how to handle all that stress, I spent few hours of reading in those few days that I was spending with my son in hospital. In between of feeding, diaper-changing, and cuddling my son, I found time to pick up a book that I bought years ago but never went through more than the first 50 pages. The book is “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. I’ve not gone through the whole book yet, but by ready the first 3 habits, I think that I’ve seen some light out of my current situation. At the age, in these days, I don’t get much advice or heads-up from other folks much. There are certainly some lessons or wisdom that I used to know but forgot as they have not been called into practice. However, this book does help me to refresh certain wisdom that would be useful to me now.

Quoted from Wiki, the seven habits can be summarized as follow:

1. Be Pro-active. Here, Covey emphasizes the original sense of the term "proactive" as coined by Victor Frankl. You can either be proactive or reactive when it comes to how you act about certain things. Being "proactive" means taking responsibility for everything in life. When you're reactive, you blame other people and circumstances for obstacles or problems. Initiative, and taking action will then follow. Covey shows how man is different from other animals in that he has self-consciousness. He has the ability to detach himself and observe his own self, think about his thoughts. He goes on to say how this attribute enables him. It gives him the power not to be affected by his circumstances. Covey talks about 'Stimulus and Response'. Between Stimulus and Response, we have the power to choose the response.

2. Begin with the End In Mind. This chapter is about setting long-term goals based on "true-north principles." Covey recommends to formulate a "personal mission statement" to document one's perception of one's own purpose in life. He sees visualization as an important tool to develop this. He also deals with organizational mission statements, which he claims to be more effective if developed and supported by all members of an organization, rather than being prescribed.

3. Put First Things First. Here, Covey describes a framework for prioritizing work that is aimed at long-term goals, at the expense of tasks that appear to be urgent, but are in fact less important. Delegation is presented as an important part of time management. Successful delegation, according to Covey, focuses on results and benchmarks that are to be agreed in advance, rather than on prescribing detailed work plans.

4. Think Win/Win describes an attitude whereby mutually beneficial solutions are sought, that satisfy the needs of oneself as well as others, or, in the case of a conflict, both parties involved.

5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Covey warns that giving out advice before having empathetically understood a person and their situation will likely result in that advice being rejected. Thoroughly listening to another person's concerns instead of reading out your own autobiography is purported to increase the chance of establishing a working communication.

6. Synergize describes a way of working in teams. Apply effective problem solving. Apply collaborative decision making. Value differences. Build on divergent strengths. Leverage creative collaboration. Embrace and leverage innovation. It is put forth that, when this is pursued as a habit, the result of the teamwork will exceed the sum of what each of the members could have achieved on their own. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

7. Sharpen the saw focuses on balanced self-renewal. Regaining what Covey calls "production capability" by engaging in carefully selected recreational activities.

I think that the idea of “Between Stimulus and Response, we have the power to choose the response’ is very useful for me to deal with stress. I have to rely more on my logical side to handle this. I think that it can help keep my EQ level to handle all the incoming ‘waves’ from allover.

Also, ‘visualization’ is something I used to practice, so I think I will use it again especially in setting goals in my new job.

‘Put First Things First’ is going to be a big challenge to me as I really ‘buy’ this concept, but it is certainly something easy to understand but hard to practice. I think I will try to do that, if not practicing well, as least I need to keep this concept in mind all the time. Otherwise, I think I will be swarmed in my new job, as well as at home.

For all the rest, I’ve not completed my reading yet and I doubt that I will have much time to do that anytime soon. Nonetheless, I’m glad to read that book which has stimulated my mind which is something that is long overdue.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Crossroad

When I'm approaching the crossroad in my life, I often have a feeling of uneasiness. A crossroad means the current path is ending and the new one is coming up. Sometimes, I've the opportunity to choose which way to go. Once I selected, though I rarely regret the choice that I made, I can't help feeling excited, nervous, and uncertain about what's gonna happen on the new path that I choose. Like who am I gonna encounter, all the goods and bads that come with it....
I think I do have quite a few large changes in my life this year, certainly nothing is bigger than being a dad for the first time. However, moving to a new apartment, hiring a housemaid, and an upcoming career move did have effect on my daily life. There is only so much I can plan, planning can only scetch the outlook of things, a lot of the time, the worst and the best things I have prepared for just don't happen. On the other hand, sometimes I find that the attitude of 'take it easy' to see how things go....are just excuses of being lazy to plan and prepare. Anyhow, nothing is perfect....

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

6 degrees in Auto-industry

Find this interesting graph illustrating the relationships of major automobile companies in the world.

Imagination



When I was a kid, just like many others, I loved to imagine things. Like if I’ve superpowers, what will I do. If I got stuck on an island (like Tom Hanks in Castaway), what will I do, etc. As I grow older, just like many others, I imagine less and less. Nonetheless, I think I still have ‘kid at heart’, so I still do imagine once in a while. Lately, I wondered the following ‘what if’ situation that I find it quite interesting:

What if….I can go back in time to see certain things…what do I want to see?

Certainly, as I’m older, I would self-impose certain conditions as follow:

1. I’ll not interfere with historical facts from their happenings.
2. I can safely return to nowadays without any injury.
3. I’ll only be observer there and others will not be able to notice my presence.

So, with the conditions set, I will list the following 10 things that I want to see (not in particular order):

1. The resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ
2. The moving of the last stone to build the Pyramid of Gaza
3. A tour of the tomb of the first emperor of China
4. A glimpse of T-Rex in hunting of preys
5. The first hour at the site of the Roswell UFO crash
6. When Moses crossed the Red Sea
7. How the Easter Island statues were raised
8. The last day of the Maya civilization
9. A tour of the Atlantis if it really existed
10. See my granddad, my grandmom, my dad and my mom when they were young.

Wonder what others would choose if they have the choices.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Questions as answer




















As a logic person, I like things to be precise and concise. Yes, sometimes ambiguity is fine. However, in order not to mislead other people. I like to give straight and honest answers to questions. Nonetheless, I often like to criticize the ‘quality’ of questions especially those so called ‘general’ questions, which usually deserve ‘general' answers.

For example, you will say ‘fine’ when people ask you ‘how’s going?’ Actually, what is so ‘fine’ about? What exactly you are trying to ask me?

I find that answering general questions are wasting of time. That’s why sometimes I will answer those questions with questions like:


What exactly do you wanna know?
What is your definition of xxx?

Sometimes, it sounds rude to some people. Well, on the contrary, I would quite appreciate if they could answer my questions back. Cos, I find that means they really want to know something about me or care my opinion. It is just they’re kinda lazy to compose a precise question initially but make an effort to correct that.

I also care how other people define certain terms which are ‘commonly’ known, but it could be subjected to different interpretation.

For example, ‘Do you love your country?’ It is a very common question you see in the media nowadays. For me, I will definitely answer the questioner with these questions:


‘What is his/her definition of ‘love’ in the context of the question?’
‘Does ‘love’ refer to a feeling internally within my mind or it refer to some specific actions that I will take to demonstrate the feeling?’

For the latter, what kind of actions can be classified as love for your country?
Also, I will ask, ‘what do you mean by ‘country’ in this question?’
Is that means the ‘ruling regime’? the ‘history +/- culture +/- people +/- geographic region’?


I think all these questions are valid questions to be clarified before a more accurate answer can be given. I wish to know more people think along my way of thinking, cos I think this days many people in our society do not think critically and they happen to be those have access to make ‘noise’ in the media. That’s sad and appalling.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

EQ on problem solving

People do get frustrated in life from time to time. They may face real difficulties and don’t know how to handle them, or they get upset due to a series of hiccups from different aspects which could happen separately in sequence in short period of time or together at the same time. Or just they get upset for no particular reason.

Anyway, as every problem is different, so does their solutions. I’m not trying to tell anyone how to solve their problems. But, many people have to go through some emotional ups and downs before they can begin to work out the solution to their problems. I think that there are always some ways to deal with those negative emotions like frustration, anger, and sadness. Some people relies on drugs, religious practices, sports, music, foods, sleep, bathing, spa, reading, chatting with others, even shopping, or a combination of the above to deal with their emotions. I did try some of them before (certainly not drugs), sometimes they work, many times they don’t. But I’ve a method that work for me quite often -

My method is to take a walk on my own and talk to myself. Namely, I will take a walk slowly, anytime of the day is fine, better to be in an open area where I can see the nature, like by the seaside, or in rural area where there are trees. Walking in shopping mall or on busy street is certainly not recommended. I find it better to be alone so I don't need to deal with others. Also, I prefer that place to be as less crowded as possible. So, it won’t be so weird when people see me talking to myself. Certainly, it is better nowadays because others will think that you must be talking to your hand-free. Anyway, I talk to myself as if I have split personalities. On the one hand, the ‘wounded’ me would tell my other self what the problems are, how much they hurts and how upset I am. On the other hand, my other self will play the therapist and comfort my wounded self. Telling him not to worry, everything will be ok, trying to look at the silver-lining of things, there will be light in the tunnel, reminding myself some past experience that the worst that I had thought didn’t materialize, there are always alternatives, people will understand, and just take things one step at a time....Also, the stronger self will telling my wounded self to pick up myself, there are always someone worst than me, remind myself about them who I read in the news or books in the past, telling myself there is a supreme being in the universe that will look after things, there is Karma, and God is fair, but God has not responsibility to tell everybody how fair HE is or sometimes we are just not intelligent enough to understand how fair HE is….etc.

Usually, after an hour, I would feel much better and regain a calmed mind. Then, I will get a cold drink or take a shower, I would be ready to sit down to start to map out the practical solutions to my problems. Don’t know if it will work for anyone, but for me, it works.

Suicide

Recently, there are news about some people couldn’t handle problem and commit suicide. Some of them even took the lives of other innocent people like their kids with them. That’s so tragic and sad!

I think that the act of committing suicide is all triggered in our head. Yes, there are real issues in reality, like you owe heavy debts, you are sick, you lost your love ones, you failed in exams, you are fired from job, you are scolded and humiliated in public, etc. However, there is always someone worse off in the world than you. There are always alternatives to killing yourself, which in most cases, is such a horrendous and selfish act that I personally find it disgusting. Regardless where you will go after you kill yourself, what you left behind for the livings, particularly those that love and care about you will suffer. You may have just transferred your burdens to them or create new one for them. It is so unfair to them, regardless how much you told you love them when you were alive. I think it is the second worst punishment to your love ones behind you killed them yourselves. Besides some special cases in recorded history, in which some folks sacrificed their lives for some noble or higher value or for saving others, suicide is a horrible act. That’s why some countries treat suicide as a crime, also most ‘normal’ religions do not condole suicide. A life is fragile but strong, it is cheap but valuable. This statement sounds contradictory, but they are true. So, if someone you love kills him/herself, in most cases I would suggest you to start ‘unloving’ him/her immediately and ‘forgetting’ about him/her. Usually, that’s exactly against the wish of the dead and I think that’s what they deserve.

Confusion and mix-up

Not telling the whole truth is not equal to intentional lying. For example, the whole story is 1,2,3,4,5. When someone ask you to tell them the story and you only tell them that there are 1,2 and 3 in the story. When they find out that 4 and 5 are in the story, then they say that you lied to them. But, the fact is, you didn’t. 1,2 and 3 are indeed in the story, you just didn’t tell them that 4 and 5 are in the story too. Maybe, it is because you forget to tell them Or you didn’t tell because they didn’t ask if 4 or 5 are in the story Or you just tell them part of it and didn’t tell the whole thing because they didn’t ask for the WHOLE story to be told. On the other hand, if you told them the story is 1,2,6,7. Then, you did LIE to them, cos 6 and 7 are never part of the true story. Whether you intend or not by telling them that 6 and 7 are in the story, you did lie. See the difference? That’s when many people got these two situation mixed up.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

History of Religion

I found this very cool flesh in http://www.littleoslo.com/ Just wanna share with you all. It is originally located here: http://www.mapsofwar.com/ind/history-of-religion.html

"How has the geography of religion evolved over the centuries, and where has it sparked wars? Our map gives us a brief history of the world's most well-known religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Selected periods of inter-religious bloodshed are also highlighted. Want to see 5,000 years of religion in 90 seconds? Ready, Set, Go! "

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Public Apology


In spite of my sleepless nights with my baby, I still try my best to keep up with news. Knowing what's going on in the world is very important to me. Recently, many famous people in Hong Kong, especially those in politics are making apology for one thing or the other. Most of them are about what they said the day before or years ago. I don't know how sincere they are, cos I believe that most of the words that coming out of their mouths that they later apologize for coming from their heart. Yes, they are that ignorant about history or arrogant of their power. They apologize now are simply trying to mend the damages that they did and try to get back on their quest for further fame, power, and money.

For Westerners, make public apology is nothing to be ashamed of and somethings that do translate to be something positive. Especially they are public figures that depends on public support. Clinton did that, and countless many celebrities did that. However, for Chinese to make similar apologies, regardless their intention, I think that it is an advancement after all. Cos, saving face has long been more important than many thing else in Chinese community. 'I'm sorry!' is not something you hear common. Cite my family as an example, I've never heard my dad saying he is sorry for anything. Certainly, my dad is no saint and we know that he made mistakes. I think we heard him using some poor excuses to explain his mistakes rather than saying sorry. To make him be quiet about that is already an victory in our eyes or the best he would do. It is not much different in the large Chinese community in that scene. Politicians use obscene excuses to cover their mistakes and tried to lay low. Trying to use 'time' to 'wash out' their mistakes, saying sorry is easy, it takes seconds, but they won't do it. That's why I really admire westerners' willingness to apologize. They have no bad feeling to say 'I'm sorry' when they make mistakes. They don't mind to say 'I'm sorry' to their kids, to their colleagues, to the public, to foreigners, or even to offspring of victims for wrongdoings that their parents or grandparents had done. Like the German prime minister (I forgot his name) who knee down on both of his knees on the commemorated graveyard of Jewish victims when he first visited Israel. The news report describe that he said something I think is very moving and great as a leader, or as a man. I can't recall the exact words, but the meaning is that he kneel down on behalf of his nation to apologize for the crime that his nation caused in WWII, but when he stood up, that translated to a revival of the moral of his nation or something like that. It takes a lot of gut for a leader to do that. That makes me think if I'm the Emperor of Japan, I will probably do similar things to end all bad feelings once for all for what Japan did in WWII.

Anyway, I think making public apology is a good thing in Chinese community and I hope people up North will learn to do that as soon as possible.

Friday, October 12, 2007

English Baby Name


Long before the birth of our baby, my wife Cora and I had discussion about baby naming. Actually, we didn't put much effort until almost the end of her pregnancy. About his English name, I did check some websites to see what're available. There are few names that I like, such as Damien, Jeremy, or Ethan, etc. However, Cora neither like their pronnounciation or has some bad associations to some folks that she doesn't like. So, she basically plays as an eliminator of my suggestions. At the end, we come up with few names, but we decide that we are not going to officially input that on his birth certificate. Instead, we let him to make his own naming decision when he gets older. By the time that he is eleven, he can request to put a name that he likes on his child ID or later on his adult ID. That reminds me about my case, my parents didn't give me any English name, and I picked Joel myself when I was in high school. I'm glad that I've the choice to choose and I think my baby will be happy to have that too.

Nonetheless, we will still use his English name if it is requested by his school in future. Up to this point, you might ask what name does we pick? Actually, three names were come up: Samuel, Isaac, and Matthew. We will call him by one of them, but he may pick something entirely different when he gets older. We will see.....

Daily life adjustment

My baby is almost one month old. My life is still in transition stage. Cos, our 'hated (that's gotta be another separate story later)' hired baby-mom care provider is still in the house till end of next week and my wife won’t be back to work till late Nov. So, how we are going to adjust our daily routine around our baby has not been finalized yet. It is still a challenge. Currently, my wife is doing most of babysitting/caring. Certainly, our Indonesian maid is actually doing more, like bottle-feeding, diaper-changing, bottle/clothes-washing. I only do one set of bottle-feeding in the evening and do some baby-cuddling myself before I go to bed. My wife and the maid wake up in the middle of the night for the baby and I sleep through because I can sleep in noise and I have to work. Nonetheless, I do take turn to let my wife sleep more on Fri and Sat nights.

My baby changes everyday, he got his first scratch on his face (under his left eye) few days ago as a result of his sharp fingernails. Gloves are hard to keep them on and he is still learning to control his arm movement. He also got his first pimple yesterday. I don’t know where does that come from, definitely has nothing to do with fried foods, that’s for sure. He is above 9 lbs already. Getting heavier by day, but he is still naughty to be fed, don’t wanna finish his bottles and wasting milk powder which is expensive, cos we are feeding him Japanese brand. I think milk powder and diapers are the highest cost for now, but that’s not much we can do about it. We want him to be fed well and he gotta piss and pooh pooh when he has to.

We don’t watch much TV at home, except news or shows before or after that. Not much music either, other than Mozart which is played less often than we did when he was still in my wife’s womb. The only thing that I’m still able to do is using internet, and watch Youtube sometimes, to catch up with the latest episode of "Heroes". That’s all.

We are still working on managing our living routine better and hopefully things will get better.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Hands

Hands, mine and my baby's. He is in my hand....for a long time to come. Yes, time flies, but not that fast, especially the sleepless nights. Changing diapers, feeding and cuddling. Though we both are exhausted, it is worthy.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What is important?


After my baby is borned, my life is changed completely. I'm responsible of his well-being. I'm upset when I make mistake, especially related to him. What used to important to me before becomes negligible. I know what's important to me now. However, I'm still in a mist whenever I consider what, when and how the right things should be done. I'm still searching and learning through trials and errors. Hopefully, I can avoid as much mistakes as possible. I should stop rumbling and get my butt moving. Get something done...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Busy busy busy


The birth of my son really turns my life upside down. I've so much to learn, it is exciting and tiring. The out of focus picture kinda reflect my focus of life now - he is there in front of me and I've the responsibility to take care of him. I was exhausted on the first day and it is only the first day! There are still so much to be done. He doesn't have a Chinese name yet. Though an English name is set for now but I still don't wanna announce it until I'm really ready. He is a Virgo, so it is gonna be a challenge to be deal with. He is kinda look like me more that my wife. He has long limbs which is unlike me. Anyway, there is so much to talk about.....
Well, I think I won't have much time to update my blog in near future. If I do, it's gonna be brief. Cos, I just have some much else related to him that I've to take care of. Certainly, I can't and won't ignore my wife too! I gotta have her to work with me to support him rather than I support both of them because of my ignorance and neglect. It is hard, but I gotta do it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Breaking news!

Today, I'm prouded to inform the world that I'm a new dad of a 7 lb 8 ounces baby boy. Thanks Cora and Dr. Anne Fang for their joined effort today. Also, I would like to thank the Supreme Being up there for all HIS blessings for the whole process. More details will be shared asap!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Health and Wealth

Recently, I came across a very thoughtful statement in one of the blogs (I forgot which one) that I read regularly. Nonetheless, it is very true. I can’t quote, but paraphrase as:

You trade your health for material wealth when you are young,
you trade your material wealth for health when you got old.


Something that definitely gets me think…….

9/11 Personal Recollection

Six years ago today, I was at chatting with Cora on the phone in the evening at home as usual. Suddenly, my sister Allison called me on a separate line and told me to turn on the TV. I didn’t take what she said seriously and thought that it must be some music program on TV that my sister thought that I would be interested. So, I simply said: ‘ok, ok, I will check that out later…’ Then, around 11pm, I turned the TV on, ‘Holy Sxxx!’ New York was under attack! And the the Pentagon, etc…. I was hooked to the tube till 2 a.m. and can’t stop checking the news the next morning, days and weeks after…. Though, I don’t personally know anyone who died on that day (thank God), my college roommate, Fernando, who is visual-impaired, was on the way to work by subway that morning, and was grabbed by other folks to walk across Brooklyn Bridge later to go home to meet his wife. He was very emotional and hugged his wife when they met. I found out all of this later certainly. For many folks, particular those who had been in the U.S., been in NYC, or folks like me who lived there for a long time and know people there. That’s day that you will never forget.

Whenever tragedy hit, regardless it’s as huge as 9/11 or something personal, they are key drivers of change. For those who vanish, they just gone…..for those who remain…usually they no longer stay the same. Their concept of what is important could change, they would no longer take things for grant. When they think differently, their actions reflect. Then, the consequences of they actions will follow. Collectively, it could lead to major shift in community if the event hit many.

Friday, September 7, 2007

ipod Touch







Finally, it is out! Now, I've an ipod 'Classic', the last generation of it. I was hoping to get a replacement or improvement of my ipod experience before the Macworld announcement yesterday. I was a bit disappointed. Cos, what I really want is a combo of the latest ipod Classic and ipod Touch! I want the multi-touch feature and a large capacity. Come to think of it, I think Apple is really smart this time. They tease folks like me that yes, we know that you want large capacity, we give you at least 80GB or 160GB ipod Classic, you want iphone but don't want to bother with phone contract, hey, we give you ipod Touch. But, if you want both! Ha, you gotta wait.....or if you can't wait.....then....why don't you just hop in our store and let us fulfill you need partially at the moment. Then, someone who can't stand the lust of the current ipod Classic and ipod Touch may just open his wallet and 'ka-ching' there! Thank you very much!
I do really want a higher capacity ipod, I have more than 50GB of songs (not exact but definitely more than 30GB that my current ipod can hold)! Certainly, it is NOT out of needs to bring my music collection with me all the time, but I just don't want to spend the time to drag and exchange songs between iTunes and ipod all the time. Addition is fine for me, unlike podcast which I can delete them once I've listened to them. But for songs, sometimes I do have the urge to listen to some songs for no particular reason....Maybe, I hear a name, I saw a picture, or just out of deja vu! Then, I can't listen to that tune and have to go home to get the song that I own, that's kinda frustrating at times.
Multi-touch is attractive feature, just a fun way to interface with your machine. I don't have an iphone yet, so it is fine for the moment. Like a guy who live in Siberia all his life, he doesn't mind to continue his life without tasting sashimi or mango. It is fine with him....Similarly, without Wi-Fi or web browser on-the-go is fine with me for the moment. But, damn, Steve Jobs just a god! Apple can just make something geeks love to own!
I think I can hold on my impulse to get neither one of them at this moment. I'm a patient guy, I hope I can get my money worthy next year at this time.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Morphing 1

Just found out an interesting website http://www.morphthing.com/ and when you play with it, these are what you got:

Alan Lau + David Beckham:

Tom Cruise + Brad Pitt:

Then,....morph all 4 guys together:

Cool huh!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Facebook

I was first invited by a college friend of mine from the States, George, to join Facebook few months ago. He said that it might be a better to keep in touch with each other. Though, I’ve not heard from him since then. I began to use Facebook since then. I do find it is a great tool to look for old acquintences, especially folks that I’ve not seen for long time. Lately, my friends at work are using that as well, as it is getting very popular here. They started to add those third parties tools in the website, like some useful tools like instant messenger, or sticky notes, etc. Also, some silly tools like graffiti wall, sending drinks/coffee/candy/or for God sake a sea creature to your tank, back and forth among all friends. Well, it could be fun some times.

Regarding this tool, I only have two hopes:
Facebook is here to stay and become dominant in the social networking in internet for years to come, unlike Friendster and the others. So, I won’t need to register again to another new tool again in future.
My company won’t block the access of Facebook, so I can continue to use it.

www.facebook.com Amen!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Map to Infinity!




Superpower


I’ve been interested in ‘Heroes’- the TV show since I knew its existence and had been waiting for that to be shown in Hong Kong for months. Finally, it started to be on TV here a month ago and I’ve become a fan of this show. Since I was a kid, like most others, I’ve been fascinated by people with superpowers. That’s actually the basis of many myths and comic books/TV. When I was young, I was keen to admire or worship those with the greatest power, to see them defeat the villains and the evils. However, as I grow older, as an audience wise, I find it more interesting to view the story as a whole, rather than just the superpower itself. As Uncle Ben told Peter Parker - the greater power you have, it comes with greater responsibility. I think it is more interesting to see people not just have superpowers, but also have faults. That’s why I like the movies of Spiderman and X-men very much. Because they also portrait the human side of heroes and villains. They are not much different from us indeed, they are like us, except they have superpower.

As of matter of fact, with the busy life that I’m having right now, don’t think that I’ve much time watching TV. Besides news program, ‘Heroes’ is the only show that I’m following right now. In ‘Heroes’, there are many characters, I’m still in a stage of getting to know them. Sometimes, like before I fall into sleep, I always try to think about crazy things or imagine things to get relax. One night of this week, I was thinking whose Heroes’ power do I want to have in real life. I think I will want the one from the cop, the power to read mind. I think it is not because I like this the most, but because it comes with the least cons. If I’m Hiro the Japanese guy that can bend time/space, it is great and I will get really rich, but I think I will get old when everybody is frozen in time. It is not good in the long run. If I’m Clarie, the unbreakable cheerleader with instant body regenerating ability, it is great, but I don’t try to get myself hurt anyway. Also, if people find that out, I will become a guinea pig to be study and I don’t want that. The worst is that I may continue to age, but not die at all. That’s a scary thought that everybody you know will die but you stay alive forever. I think I will go crazy. If I have the powers of other characters like if I can fly!? Or go through physical objects! Or paint the future, or have split personality …..nah…..all of them will make me become a guinea pig. So….that’s why I think the mind-reading power is the best, cos it is the power that I can hide from rest. Though I may not able to suppress it, i.e. I will hear people thinking about bad things all the time, or knowing people are lying to me. However, I can choose what subsequent actions I will take or not take. Also, I think it will still be very useful in many careers, like being a psychiatrist, a detective, a lawyer, even as a salesperson. There could be many interest scenarios with that power……..ha ha….I think that I’m just thinking too much this time! Kinda out of my mind! ......

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Illusions
















These are my favorite pictures of captioned title.

Life lessons (tipbits)

We learn somehow as time goes by. These are some of the things that I learn in that last few years:

* Keeping silence on something is not equal to lying. Often, not saying anything is not intentional. It is not an excuse, but a truth.

* Take it easy can be quite difficult, particularly if the people around you don’t want to.

* Don’t speak just for the sake of it. Make sure your target audiences listen and more importantly, they understand.

* If you want someone to help, give them room. If you are confused and need help, you don’t need to confuse the helper, so he/she understands how confuse you are.

* Concern can generate precaution, worries only generate bad mood.

* It is nice to let the people that you want to share your worries know what do you expect from them after listening to your story. If you just want them to listen, don’t tell them afterwards that they don’t care or worse..not listening, because they do listen. However, if you want them to help, make sure you think about their suggestions and follow up with some actions. Otherwise, problems will reoccur over and over again. Audience will not be interested to listen to the same story again and again.

* If things in the world are perceived in colors, many of them are in the middle of a spectrum. i.e. they are in grey. Black and white exist, but they are extremes and rare. Black is the darkest grey, and white is the lightest grey. The reflection of shinning black is white. White is black in complete darkness. Visually, spray water on a yin-yang symbol in Chinese ink before it dries…it is pretty much how I see the world.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Housemaid

I went to the agency to pick up my housemaid from Indonesia last evening. I think her arrival is definitely a new mini-chapter of my life. For Cora and I, it is a challenge. Cora usually needs more time to adapt to new changes. Living with a stranger is definitely something she has to cope with, especially during her maternity leave. She will have to handle the maid most of the day. She has to find a way to get use to it…as soon as possible. For her the day-to-day changes should not be too different, at least it won’t have too many changes to the things at home from her perspective. Things that are being done by me now will be done by the maid. She doesn’t need to do them anyway. Hopefully, things will work out quickly that it won’t put additional stress on her, cos she has to physically and mentally prepare for the delivery. Also, possible post-birth depression is something that I’m concern about. Just cross my fingers for now.

For me, I’m a boss of someone at home. It is a big change for me. Ha, I'm not Cora's boss and vice versa. Anyway, if things work out, I can finally free up some times to do other things which are still most likely not mine, but Cora’s or ours, i.e. taking care our BB.

Well, my initial impression of our housemaid is nothing special. It’s gonna take time to really know how she is. I think I've the patience needed to guide her. Hopefully, she will pick up her tasks without breaking too many things or causing too many irreversible damages. However, I think the trickiest part is about the issue of ‘trust’. I don’t trust her now and I don’t know/think if I will ever trust her like a member of my family, which is something simply ideal. The way I see is trying to reach a mutual ‘comfort zone’ that serve our respective interests. I think/hope I can think in her shoes to see how I should treat her and know better about her interests other than the obvious – i.e. $$$. Well, I’ve heard enough bad things about terrible housemaids in the news. God forbid, hopefully ours will be a ‘reasonable’ one. We will never know until she goes bad. Just cross my fingers for now again.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Compromise between East and West


Welcome to Beijing Olympics 2008!

Future


‘Future’ is always unknown. Once it is known, it is ‘present’ or ‘past’.

‘Future’ is bright because the ‘present’ is good. So, with the law of Karma, ‘Future’ should have good results. ‘Future’ is bleak for vice versa reasons.

‘Future’ nurtures insurance industry, gambling industry, stock markets, etc. With ‘Future’, those industries have no reason to exist.

‘Future’ gives us the reason to get up everyday. We want our future to be good, so we work hard now.

It is because ‘future’ can be changed, that’s why we are busy in the present.

Some folks kill themselves, because they think they have ‘no future’.
We don’t know the exact Karma of death for the spirit of the dead person.
When he/she is alive, he/she didn’t know what will happen after death neither.
His/her suicide is based on his/her assumption that the unknown afterdeath must be better than the relatively known future in the living world if he/she stay alive to face it.
I find that just not logical and silly.
Cos, his/her death just unfairly leaves his/her burdens and consequences to the livings: the friends and family.
What a selfish way to treat friends and family! I think they should simply forget this person.

There is no such thing as ‘no future’. It simply means the future is bleak and unpleasant.

If there is really ‘no future’, it is the end of our world.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Ratatouille


I went to see Ratatouille with Cora last Friday evening. Both of us enjoy this movie very much. I think this movie the best movie that I've seen in this year in terms of 'everything' - story, visual, and the flow of the script. Though Transformers was impressive, Spiderman 3 was ambitious, I think this movie balanced everything very well and I would rank this movie behind Toy Story 2 as the best Pixar movie so far. I think the most impressive technique of this movie is the lighting. It create a very real and attactive scenary of Paris as well as in the kitchen itself. The characters are likable too.

As always, there are messages behind this kind of Hollywood animation. For this movie, the main theme is that 'Everybody can be a cook!'. Actually, it means 'Everybody can do anything as long as he/she has a heart and ability to'. It is very American. Also, it touchs on the issue of discrimination as well: Just because you are a rat and people (even your dad) has perception what a rat is supposed to be, if you disagree and you can standup to against the stereotype and be what you want to be. The movie plays that very well. This message is very thoughtful and 'American' as well. I like this movie so much and definitely I will get the DVD when it comes out and enjoy this movie again in future.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Read and Think

Lao Tzu has said (correct me if I'm wrong that he didn't) that:
If a person only read and doesn't think, it is wasteful, but....
if a person only think and doesn't read, he is dangerous!

When I think of it, it is very interesting and true. Books, media, writings by others are all either facts or 'digested' knowledge from the others in their context. If a person doesn't 'digest' them to become wisdom, a person's knowledge base may growth, but he/she will not be able to 'use' the knowledge wisely, so it is a waste.

However, if a person only dream about what he/she desires and carry them out without understanding their implications to the others and the world or even just to themselves, that person can do a lot of harm.

I don't think I'm the latter one, but I think I really need more time to 'digest' in today's environment with such massive amount of information bombarding me via internet and other media. I think I need some quiet moments to think about things.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Transformers


I went to see Transformers last Saturdsay nite. What a movie experience. The visual effect of this movie is just unbelievable. Once I saw it, I think that any robot animation that I used to see when I was a kid, can be made into 'real' movies with real actors. Can you imagine Gundam or Macross to be made into something like Transformers? It gotta be so cool.
Well, I think that actors are so so in the movie, except Shia LeBeouf, who really owns the movie. He kinda remind me of Will Smith in his early days.
Though you can criticize all you want about the story and acting, hey...robots are what I come to see and they are simply awesome! This movie definitely worth seeing in cinema and got to be a testing DVD for sound effect when it comes out. Sequel gots to be in the can and it's gonna be 'gigantic' when it comes out.....predictably in 3 years which is the normal sequel cycle in Hollywood. Probably, we will see a 3D version of it as well!
Anyway, I enjoy it very much and can't believe that it has not released an imax version of it.
Well, that's about it. I am looking forward to see the last movie that I'm gonna see this summer - Ratatouille, probably next week or two.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Emotions

What make us human is 'Emotion', without that we are not even animals, we are dead (if we don't move or breathe) or robots. In Chinese, we depict emotions into four main areas (Happiness, Anger, Sadness, and Joy), though I can't exactly tell the difference between Happiness and Joy. Anyway, I think that these emotions have great impact to us. That's what drives us to do the best and the worst things that we are capable of.

Certainly, other than the four emotions above, there are more, like fear, jealousy, bitterness, etc. We often express or have a cocktail of them in occasions and have visible traits. Like some people will be overjoy with tears. As we human beings can something that animals can't - to pretend and fake our emotion that what is shown to the outside may not be the same as how a person feels internally. That's why some people have poker's face. Some folks don't 'bend' in torture.

Emotions are psychological as well as physiological/biological. When we got beaten, we feel physical pain, that could drive our anger and sadness, then we may strike back as revenge. But how the physiological/biological and psychological aspects of emotion linked together is not necessarily predictable or logical like science. Same action strikes two persons can produce different emotions, two persons with same emotions may produce different responses. That's what things some complicated. It is not necessary at a higher/abstract level of philosophy, but a result of such unique combination of factors that just make things so difficult for people to understand or comprehend. I guess what drive emotions and actions of a person also relate to the education, personal experience, and intelligence of that person other than his/her biological makeup. Certainly, some people will even inject the factors of astrology and karma. I'm not gonna go into that here, though believe they do play some parts in it more or less. As almost no 2 persons are the same, so the cocktail of emotions and actions are unique for each person in the world. That's why there are always someone not laughing in watching comedies and not getting scared in horrors.

As emotion can be considered as a double-edged sword, I sometimes will try to change mine into a knife rather. Take the advantage of it, and stay away from the destructive side of it. It is easy to say, but hard to do and impossible to do consistently all the time. Why? we always have a 'saying' (or excuse) that 'we are only human!' What I mean trying to take advantage to it is that I think there are few ways that can be tried:
1. Try not to produce 'negative' emotion, which may cause 'negative' actions.
2. Try to stop 'negative' emotion from causing any actions.
3. Try to convert the energy of 'negative' emotion into 'positive' actions.
4. Make sure the energy of 'positive' emotion will produce 'positive' actions.

Regardless which of the above you try to do, it is about how a battle between your 'heart' and your 'brain' - how to use your logical side to control or manage your emotion, i.e. Emotion Management. An expansion of 'Anger Management' it is. I think it is something can be taught, but whether a person can do it or not is no guarantee. He/she can certainly try and practice in daily lives. Regardless, I think it is something worth trying and is a good thing to people around you, especially by those less selfish people.

Enough said for now!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Politican's Bullshits

I found the following interesting article in newspaper today:

蔡子強﹕政客廢話寶鑑 (明報) 07月 26日 星期四 05:10AM
【明報專訊】作者為﹕中文大學政治與行政學系高級導師

夏日炎炎,假期氣氛濃厚,今期且輕鬆一下,講講政客最喜歡講的廢話。
書展中,書籍《愛情神話》以西方名畫作封面,遭影視處指是淫褻而一度被勸喻,惹來輿論嘩然。影視處長鄭美施急急補鑊,面對傳媒時說:「唔可以話前線員工有錯……但有改善的空間。」
大家都聽得人仰馬翻,我們又一次見識了什麼是官腔、廢話。其實處長說這番話時真正的意思是:「我知我們錯了,但又唔好意思『認衰』,唔該畀次機會,至多擔保下次唔會。」
只要大家在政壇日久,便會發現類似的廢話多的是,實在應該輯錄成書,好讓那些政壇、傳媒新秀先補補課。
“Expert”——那些knows more and more about less and less的人。還有,當官員說「我們要先聽聽專家的意見」,又或者「more research needs to be done」,就是當政府感到一籌莫展,唔知點應付的時候,搬出來令人覺得政府做緊的擋箭牌。
“This is a hypothetical question”——即係話我唔想答,因為這是答會對我不利的問題。
“I am glad you asked me that”——傻仔,呢條問題其實我一早預,答案亦早已準備好,而家正好畀個機會我借題發揮。(順帶一提,如果你問唔問題,他就會說:「Yes, but the important thing to understand is....然後照把上述準備好的,照講一次。」)
“I hear what you are saying, but....”——除了「but」以後的說話之外,前面幾隻字全屬廢話。
“Inappropriate”——政客或律師為了逃避法律責任而套用的「溫吞」字眼。例如,你說某位議員當眾豎起中指是「不恰當」的行為,比起說這是無恥、下流、賤格……被人告的風險要細得多。
“Investment”——即係spending咁解,例如we are investing in schools.
“Mistake”——記住永遠要用past tense及passive voice,例如mistakes were made,千祈唔好講I made mistakes,更加不可以講I am making mistakes﹗
“Monitor”——官員說We will monitor this issue,即係除了睇電視、看報紙之外,他們什麼也不會做。
“Move on”——我們要向前看,即係唔該忘記我們以前做過的衰,拜託大家再次投我們一票,再畀我們「滾」多次。
“Source close to”——即是政府某位高官的新聞官,而且他(其實十個有九個係女人,應該用「她」)想「點」大家,所以唔好意思出真名,於是吹風前,特地補上一句「off the record」。
“Spin Doctor”——相等於「廢話吹水學」的博士學位(Doctorate in Bullshit, BsD)。
“我唔想咁講”——其實即係:我好想咁講。
“我唔係呢個意思”——其實即係:我正正係呢個意思。
“現在未係適當時候,到時機成熟,我一定會「第一」時間通知大家”——咁即係「第三」、「第四」時間……
“個人意見”——當民建聯 說那是馬力 的個人意見時,意思就是該黨打算與他劃清界線,千祈唔好拖埋佢落水。
如果想學識講更多的廢話,可以買這一本自嘲為「厚顏無恥、荒謬可笑、專門靠『點』、毫無誠意」的小書:Nick Webb著,《The Dictionary of Bullshit》。

Monday, July 23, 2007

New Beginning

I don't know about the others, but in my life so far. I've been given several chances to start certain things semi or all over again. Today is another new beginning, in terms of job wise. Well, I'm still working for the same employer under the same department. However, I'll begin to work on a new project. It is a challenge, but I think this was a difficult decision to make about a week ago. However, once I weighted in the options in front of me from different point of view...how it will play out in my career, how it will fit my personal life, the personnels that I need to deal with, etc. There are certainly pros and cons in options. I think.....and hope that the decision that I make is the correct one.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Dealing with Changes

My motto “Only Change is forever: 變幻才是永恆” is something I truly believe. What I mean change, it doesn’t always mean something unpredictable. There are changes that are expected, such as Karma – Cause and Effect. If you didn’t something wrong, it is expected that there will be negative effects on others. When they find out it is because of you, then you should expect some consequences, like being scolded, beaten, sued, punished, revenged, fined, etc. Also, things don’t go only one way, tides do turn. We Cantonese describe that in a ‘dramatic’, funny but true way of “一嗒沙糖一嗒屎”. Literally means: “one mouth of sugar, one mouth of shit”. Even if things are going well now, shit can happen next. That’s so true! Why I’m saying this now, cos I feel that changes are about to come up. Whether that is sugar or shit, that’s really depends on how I see and deal with them. For example, having a newborn is supposed to be a joy, but if I’m not careful with him, prepare myself and learn continuously, or I don’t look at and accept everything that come with him in a positive way, then I will feel bad about that, and I can really see ‘shit’ on my hands.

I remember Sun Tzu said something like 90% of a battle is won on preparation. I don’t think I’m well-prepared (not mentally, but actual works) in the upcoming changes in my life. That makes me a bit uneasy every time I think about them. However, I’m still in battle with my nature of procrastination, so….I’m still working on it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Made in China

During my days in the U.S., I paid quite a bit of attention on how the American viewed China, the country, and Chinese, the people. Certainly, there is so many aspects that I can elaborate about this topic and mostly likely I will do that in future when the times come.

Anyway, the latest news about problem of Chinese products really got me thinking. There have been talks about how western media ‘demonizes’ China in the last couple of years. I think it is true to some extent. For example in the States, I think the mass media really has tremendous effect on the image of China and Chinese in the American society.
To be honest, it is sadly to say that I feel somewhat pity for how narrow-minded many typical Americans are. They have the best technology in the world, telecommunication is so convenient, the libraries there are great, their publishing industry is absolutely the best in the world, you can find pretty much all sort of publications about any obscure subjects that you can imagine. Nonetheless, most typical American still only know things about their neighborhoods, their own states, or the country at most. For the rest of the world, hmmm….I think that they really don’t know much. Therefore, I perceive that what they really know about the world is pretty much from what they see in the media, particularly from news and from the foreign products that they bought. So, that makes the bias media very power in tilting how their audiences see the world according to the private agenda of the media. That’s also the reason why half of American supported Bush in his Iraqi crusade in the first place. Media can distort facts to become fictions, and can convert lies to become truth.

Anyway, go back to case of China. When I was in the States, I didn’t hear much about China in the news except in two types of situation. First, when the President or some senior officials met the Chinese leaders in some conferences or when some senators criticizing China’s policies. Second, when there is something bad happens there, like earthquakes, floods, riots, etc. That’s a bit different from U.S. allies, like Japan, you would see some news about new product creations being shown in evening news. With years of watching TV there, the negative issues about China are accumulating. Just cite a typical case about some cross table interviews among politicians/scholars on the topic of China, the string of issues at the tip of their tongues about China keep growing as time goes by: Tibet/Dalai Lama, one-child policy, Tianamen Square, arms to rogue states, military threat to Taiwan, treatment of political dissidents, religious freedom, trade deficits, currency control, etc. The list keeps on and on.

Nonetheless, my feeling is that the latest problem about tainted pet food, toothpaste, and other food/daily products from China is very different from the list above which are actually just ‘terms’ that are largely irrelevant in the public. They happen far away or in the past, or kinda ‘abstract’. But this time, the tainted products are really related to the day-to-day life of regular American. It is much worse than the so-called job loss to China issue. Cos, first of all, the job loss to China is debatable and questionable:
Manufacturing jobs are lost, but other jobs are created.
Those jobs are also lost to many other countries, including Mexico, Brazil, Vietnam, etc.
Shift of manufacturing to low cost countries benefits the American business and American public in many ways.

But, tainted foods affect everyone, and people (including pets) do die because of them. The value of life in China is no equal to life in the States. So, I think this case is really serious. People in China and in Hong Kong have been suffering from tainted foods for few years (at least they have been disclosed in the media). Improvements in control in China have been lackluster so far. I think with the broad international complaint of Chinese products this time, things are gonna be different. I don’t think this is simply a public relation nightmare that can be fixed by stupid retaliation or hard-line trash talk by some stiff spokesperson in Beijing. More effective control got to be in place to ensure the products are safe for the LONG TERM. Cos, reputation is easy to be destroy, but very hard to re-establish. Think about how long Japanese companies took to change American’s image of ‘Make in Japan’ in the 1960-70s. This time, I would say it is worst than that. Cos, China simply makes so many stuff. ‘Made in China’ is found everywhere. I would say it is gonna take a decade or more for China in this case.

However, at the end of the day, it will be good for everybody, people in China and Hong Kong will be beneficiaries as well. By then, products that ‘Made in China’ will likely to have same status as those ‘Made in Japan’, or ‘Made in Korea’ today. Like most things in the world, they always go in cycle: if they don’t get worse, they won’t get better!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Making Decision

Making decision is a science as well as an art. We have been trained since we were kids to make all kind of decisions. At the beginning, decisions were made for us, no question was asked. When we were a bit older, we were given the right to make decision, then our decisions will finally be made if they are the same as the those who gave us the right. If no, our decision didn’t matter. As we grew a bit more, we could finally make decisions on small matters, like what to wear today, what toys to play, but large decisions were still made by parents, like where to go to school.

After so many years of making decisions, there got to be mistakes. However, I think the most important thing that I learned and be able to carry out most of the time is that I don’t regret over the decision that I made. Cos, simply suffering from the unpleasant results of wrong decision is bad enough. They could be reactions from others, some kind of financial or physical losses, etc. When you close your eyes before bedtime, or whenever you have a moment to be alone to reflect/think about what decision you have made, and you had to feel really bad and regret over the decision. That’s something hard to live with, unless you are also very good in forget. It is not like a movie that you will be given a second chance in life to redeem what you did wrong before to make yourself feel better next time. Therefore, learning to live with bad decision is very important, that is an art.

I think I’m a logical person that most of the major decisions that I made are based on logic rather than emotion. Although, I’m not scientific or detail-oriented enough to ‘measure’ or ‘weight’ factors in decision-making. However, I often, even sketch down the pros and cons of each factor that I’ve to consider in my decision making process. Also, I will try to give myself enough time to think about them, let them to ‘sit’ for a while and to be looked at from third person’s point of view…in order to get a calm and objective view before making the final decisions. It sounds great, well at least it works for me, but this method sometimes will still be pounding my heart before I actually make the decision know to the people who need know them.

Lately, I’ve made a decision in my workplace for myself which also affect that of the others. I made it and I think that …..as long as my decision is true to my heart. I will not regret over it even if somehow the cons of my decision really show. (I don’t know how exactly it will play out yet at this moment). However, I will try to comfort myself that….based on my experience that the best/worst scenarios that I would predict in my analysis would not come true 90% of the times. Hopefully, things play out themselves in a manageable manner this time.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Evolution of my hobby - Music Listening

Listening to music has been my interest since I was a kid. When I was in my junior high, I spent most of my pocket money on 2 things: comic books/music magazines and pre-recorded cassette tapes. I love music since my early age: theme songs from TV series, cantopops from Sam Hui, Alan Tam and Leslie Cheung, foreign pops from Michael Jackson, Madonna, British bands, etc. When I was young and poor, I really cherish the 'bullets' that I had in my pocket, so I had to choose this cassette over that cassette whenever I found there are multiple targets in record store. LP was more expensive and took too much space. It was difficult to hide that from my parents, cos I didn't want them to know how much I spent on this kind of hobby which is not financially approved. As I had a very large urge and drive to possess all the music that I like, so I spent a lot of time to acquire them, especially when I began to be able to afford them after I began to work. I remember that when I was still a student, I spent a lot of time to copy CDs to cassettes or cassettes to cassettes to create my favorite collection. When I began to work, I went to CD shopping like crazy, because I think that CD sounds better, more durable, and it is something that I will enjoy with repeat listening. So, I spent a lot of time to track down the CDs contain music that I used to own in cassettes when I was a kid. As a result, my CD collection grew non-stop. As time goes by, my taste of music was getting so broad that, I could say that, other than opera and country, I listened to almost all genres of music and possess at least one of two CDs in most genres. Certainly, for my favorite musicians and artists, I own like dozens of their albums, also include some CD singles and compilations. Well, I did enjoy owning those CDs and listening to them. Whenever I discovered some great CDs from some musicians that were new to me either from friends or by I, I would be very excited, especially when I was alone during my days in the States. I don’t know exactly how many CDs do I own, during my few previous house-moving, my heaviest items are my boxes of CDs. I guess I've own over 700 CDs.

However, 2 changes have tremendous impact on my hobby in the last 2 years.

The first one is getting married. Even before Cora and I got married, we had spent so much time to prepare this and that. Certainly, when we were together go out, dining, movie-going, shopping, etc. I couldn't listen to music. When I got home, I do have other interest like surfing internet, reading news, listening to radio, watching movies, etc. They took away my time of listening to music. Then, I got married and living with Cora. We don't have similar music taste and there are other priorities between us, so I don't really play much of my music collection at home......

The second change began with my Ipod. Thanks to Cora, she gave me an Ipod per my request as my birthday gift more than 1 year ago. It is a 5G 30GB Ipod. I love it so much; I spent a lot of my time loading my CDs in Itune and load them on my Ipod. Well, you might think that I would listen to more music........Ha.....it is not exactly true.....cos there is something very attractive.....called 'podcast'...after I discover podcast, I have been download them every week, podcast from NPR, Businessweek, CNET, CMM, RTHK, National Geographic, etc. They are my favorites. So, with the limited time that I listen to my Ipod (mostly to/from home/office), I listen to podcast 80% of the time. So, music just become for filling in scrap time, like....if my podcasts are 8 minutes long each, and I only have 2 minutes left between last podcast to my office, then I will switch to 'shuffle' to play a song to fill the time gap….

So, what happen to my current feeling/attitude about music. There are 2 aspects:

First, I collect digital format of music file like crazy if you know what I mean. There are so many 'generous' people in the world that like to 'offer' and 'share' with the rest. I love to be a beneficiary of their generosity. As this format is different from CD, since it is so easy to get, I do admit that I don't cherish the music as much as I was in the old days. As a result, my collection of music in my hard drive counts in thousands, total size in tens of GB! Honestly, I really don't know how many of them I've ever listened to before....

Secondly; I almost stop buying CDs, except in rare occasions. I used to buy like 50+ Cds a year in the States, now I may only buy 5 at most in a year, only those that I couldn't find 'anywhere'. So, finally the growth of my CD collection finally halts.

As the aftermath of this, now I began to feel the 'pain' of owning so many CDs, especially since my latest apartment move. Sometimes, I told myself, 'IF' I know there is something called 'Ipod' back then, I wouldn't spend so much money on CDs, now they don't worth much and it is waste to throw them away. Considering that, moving them and storing them is a pain (when you need space for other things, like baby stuff), and I don't have much time to listen to them anyway. So, I try to comfort myself that 'maybe' I can share my CDs with my son in future when he discovers what a collection his dad has. He may cherish them as treasure. However, come to think of it, he may disses his dad's CD as antique and with the way technology goes, MP3 is the way to go now, God knows what new format will come up when he grows older. So, I can only think that my CD collection is part of my youth and good old days. Hopefully, I will continue to have space to store them, and someday they will be become valuable somehow.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Home-cooking : Pan Fried Meat Pie

In the past weekend, I went on grocery shopping on Sunday to prepare dishes for the working week. Usually, the dishes that I prepare are quite simple, firstly it is because I don’t have much time in both preparation in the weekend, and secondly I don’t want to spend too much time when I actually cook the food during the week. Therefore, there is a limit on what I can buy in the market. The raw ingredients that I bought must have some sort of ‘staying power’, i.e. they are able to stay relatively fresh in the frig after few days. As a result, many of my dishes will include eggs, tomato, pork, and some veggies that must be dry, so I can wrap them in newspaper and store in my frig. I usually have to put off from buying something like fresh tofu, fish, or foods that have to be consumed on the same day except for dinner on Sundays.

Since I was a little bit free in the past weekend, and both Cora and I are a little tired of what I’ve been cooking all these weeks, so I was trying to explore what new dishes that I can cook. Certainly, because of the nutrient needs that Cora has, I try to stay away something that requires too much seasoning and oily. As I flip through the cookbooks on the shelf, Cora suggested me to cook a meat pie from a newspaper clipping, which was saved by us from time to time. Of course, I say yes, because I also like meat pie myself.

The recipe of this ‘Mushroom, Corn, Pork and Fish Meat Pie’ is as follow:
¾ lb of minced pork
¾ lb of minced fish meat (could be any type)
1 stalk of fresh corn
8-10 piece of dry takashi mushroom
12 table spoon of chopped green onion
Salt and white pepper (amount depends on your preference)

Wash and put those mushrooms in a bowl of cold water for 1 or 2 hours to soften the texture, then cut the stem and chop them in small piece (about the ¼ or ½ the size of a key on a typical keyboard).
Boil some water in a pot, put the mushroom and the chopped corn in it and cooked them for 2-3 minutes. Drains the water and cool them down for later usage.
Mix the minced pork and fish meat together, in a bowl by using a fork. Add salt and pepper.
Then, add the mushroom, corn and green onion and mix them as well. Once they are mixed, keep the bowl in the frig for 10 minutes.

Actually, that’s all. When I got home from work, I took the bowl out and scoop the mixed meat out, put on a plate and press it into the shape of a pie. Then, heat up the pan with ‘medium fire’, add some olive oil and put the pie in it. Let it fry for few minutes and turn it upside down. Make sure both sides are a little bit burned. Then, pick it up and put on the plate. It can be served with some soya sauce, or hot sauce if needed. We just keep it like that and serve with rice and boiled veggies. Then, that’s it. It is done:




Certainly, because of my skill, the pies were broken into pieces, but the taste was good. Cora and I like it so much that she even told her mom to cook it for herself.

Best Video - Changing Wardrobe

This video never stops being amazing, these performers got to be 'Living National Treasure' of the U.S.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My Favorite Albums (Western)

In some other people’s blogs, I’ve come across something like ‘Desert Island Albums’ or similar names which are really about the favorite albums of the bloggers who claims that if they are trapped in desert or on remote island for the rest of life, they would love to bring those CDs with them….I just wonder where the hell you get the power (AC/DC) to listen to those CDs anyway after batteries are dry up…

Certainly, in these days and age, people are downloading individual songs like crazy. However, artists still release albums as CDs are not yet dead. I think albums still have its place in music, as artists usually consider an album as a project, especially those concept albums that many western musicians produce. To me they are like a nice salad, with different taste and texture, but somehow with a theme that linked together and the music flow smoothly throughout the albums. It is very much unlike many (but not all) local Hong Kong ‘so-called’ artists who only release album by tossing a mix of songs together, but they are ‘no-salad’, just imagine a salad bowl with spoiled fish, uncooked chicken, with watermelon, lots of pepper, and dumped all shits together….they just make you sick.

Anyway, it is actually very difficult for me to choose (out of 700-800 Western CDs that I own), the following are my favorite CDs (not in any order) of Western music (certainly, I will share my choices of other music in future):

Achtung Baby – U2
I didn’t really like it very much at the beginning, but ‘One’ is really my all time favorite song from U2. ‘Love is blindness’ is tragically good’. ‘Until The End Of The World’ and ‘Mysterious Ways’ continue the band’s guitar riff tradition. Though the band has many good songs in their other albums, but ‘One’ really wins me over.
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:wpfyxq95ldde

No Angel – Dido
I started listen to Dido even before she became famous. I used to listen to her brother’s group – Faithless, and like their music quite a lot. Then, I checked out the guest vocal of their albums and found Dido. I bought that CD in 1999 and love it upon the first listening. Almost all songs in the album are good. Actually, I like this CD more than her follow up album ‘Life for Rent’ which is more or less an imitation of the first one, but not as good.
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=&sql=10:w9fuxqtkldfe

Space Between Us – Craig Armstrong
I get to know this musician through Massive Attack. In their CD – ‘Protection’, Craig Armstrong played few songs and I like them a lot. He is particularly good in mixing sound of string instruments and down-tempo electronics which create musical atmosphere that fit in many film noirs. I think that’s the reason why he did quite a few movie soundtracks. There are only 2 tracks in ‘Space Between Us’that contain vocal and both of them are great: ‘This Love’ with Elizabeth Fraser from the disbanded group – Cocteau Twins is absolutely stunning! And the other lesser known song ‘Let’s go out tonight’ by a man’s voice is also very charming. This album is very ‘moody’, I would think.
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=&sql=10:axfexqljldje

Kind of Blue – Mile Davis
I bought this CD just because of the name of Miles Davis who I then knew not much except that he is supposed to be one of the greatest Jazz artists of all time. I didn’t listen to this CD very often except in few occasions when Cora was in my home (before we got married), She doesn’t share much of my broad taste of music, and she is not much into song with vocal neither. So, music CDs became the natural choices. She found many classical or new age music ‘sleepy’, and I was surprisingly found out that she was ok with this Mile Davis CD. Actually, I began to listen to this CD more in later days and strangely like to put this on when I’m mopping the floor. That’s weird, but hey I like it, that’s all that matter.
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:3ifrxqegld0e

So Far... The Best of Sinead O'Connor – Sinead O’Connor
Sinead O'Connor is one of my favorite singers; because of her, I began my interest in Irish music and musicians. Actually, the first live concert that I paid to see when I was in the States was her concert. Her voice and the emotion that she put in her songs is simply captivating. I like most of her songs, so I’m a bit greedy to pick one of her compilation as a favorite, but most of the songs in the album are very good. My favorite got to be ‘You Made Me The Thief Of Your Heart’ written by Bono from U2. Actually, I own the CD single of this song with different versions. Other songs like ‘Don't Cry For Me Argentina’, ‘Troy’, ‘Success Has Made A Failure Of Our Home’ and ‘Fire On Babylon’ are all wicked good.
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:wpfpxqrjldde

Dummy – Portishead
This album was release in 1994, but I didn’t know this group until 1997 when I borrowed Portishead’s second CD from Nelson Rocha, a colleague of mine. At first, I thought this band’s music was weird, but I remember I really fell in love with their music during a rainy evening when I was listening to their songs and was driving by myself in Harvard Square trying to find a parking space. I paid a lot of attention to the music, combining with the environment and atmosphere at that time; somehow I found that combination of environment and my feeling….so memorable. I couldn’t explain exactly how…but the mood and everything is just…..deep. Then, I began to find out more about this band afterwards and everyone on the web saying that their first album: Dummy is even better. Then, I bought it and listen to it….WOW, it is an amazing CD, the sound is sooo…..unique, Beth Gibbon’s voice is so eerie and sad which make the songs so depressingly good. Most songs in Dummy are great, particularly ‘Roads’, it is one of my all-time favorite song. Others like ‘Wandering Star’, ‘It’s a fire’, ‘Sour Time’, ‘Glory Box’…..just perfect. I don’t need to skip any song on this CD.
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=&sql=10:hifixqthldde

Stars: The Best of the Cranberries, 1992-2002 – the Cranberries
Out of the favorite CDs that I mentioned here, this one.….I actually don’t own. Then, how come I claim that this is my favorite? It is because I love the Cranberries very much. I own ALL of their albums and this one is a compilation of their best songs, so I choose this one instead. I like them so much so that actually, I have seen their concert….twice!: one in Boston and one in Hong Kong. I first heard of the Cranberries…..nope not from Faye Wong’s Chinese cover version of ‘Dream’, but from my friend Edward who happened to have their first CD. Certainly, I began to like them, who just happen to be another Irish band. Dolories’voice is powerful, considering her small physique. My favorites are ‘Zombie’, ‘Ridiculous Thoughts’, ‘Just My Imagination’, ‘Promise’, ‘Salvation’, etc.
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:fifixq8aldae

Absolute Garbage – Garbage
Similar to the Cranberries, I also don’t own this compilation, but I own most of their albums. When I was in the States, though I didn’t go to as many concerts as I wanted to, Garbage’s concert in Rhode Island got to be my all time favorite concert. While standing all the way in the concert to watch the band playing in a club during a cold winter night, I had a great time there with Nelson, his g-f (forgot her name), Helen, and Kathleen. People were moshing, jumping and raising their hands, etc. So natural hight! Lead singer, Shirley Manson’s voice was simply powerful. I still vividly remember her skin was actually very silky like 10 feet away from me. I remember how much I enjoy the gig that they play most of their hit songs in their first and second albums. My favorites from this band are ‘Only when it rains’, ‘Milk’, ‘Push it’, ‘#1 Crush’, and ‘You look so fine’, etc.
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:fnfrxzr5ldte

Eden – Sarah Brightman
Sarah Brightman was introduced to me by my friend Nelson Tam. The first CD that I owned from Sarah is ‘Dive’. She is the first soprano that I know, with such a wonderful voice, how can I resist. Also, I think that her CDs really well-meshed her opera training voice and electronics synthesizer programming together, very good crossovers of classical singing and pop. I own quite a few of her CDs, but Eden is my favorite. Songs that I like include ‘Dust In The Wind’, ‘Deliver Me’, ‘Il Mio Cuore Va (My Heart Will Go On, From 'Titanic')’, ‘Scene D'Amour’, and ‘Only An Ocean Away’.
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=&sql=10:anfoxqejldfe

Big Calm – Morcheeba
I get to know Morcheeba when I was very into the trip-hop music when I was in the States. I think this CD was introduced by my friend Helen who was also into this type of music at that time. There were many so called trip-hop groups, like Massive Attack, Portishead, Mono, etc. But, in terms of trip-hop album that I listened to most often, besides Dummy, it got to be this one. It is not as dark as Dummy, but the voice of the female lead of Morcheeba is so sultry that it just makes you feel soothing when you listen to her songs. My favorite songs are ‘Part of the Process’, ‘The music that we hear’, ‘Blindford’, etc.
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=&sql=10:kxfyxqljldae

Certainly, these 10 albums are by no mean the only ones that I like, there are #11, 12, 13, etc that I would really love to recommend to anyone who seriously like music. Maybe, I will talk about that more in future. Enough said for today.