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.

video

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.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Apple Products in past 30 years


Die Hard 4.0 and Computer Animation Movies

Cora and I went to see Die Hard 4.0 (aka Live Free or Die Hard in the U.S.). I was kinda surprise that Cora like this movie more than I had expected. Originally, I was planning to go alone and she would go to salon to have a haircut, but we decided to go together as we planned our schedule for the weekend.

The movie was good, I think it is intense and entertaining. Bruce Willis delivers this time. Though, I like to see him to have someone that can counterweight his presence in the movie like in the last one with Sam Jackson. The cyberwhiz kid Justin Long is alright, Maggie Q’s role is too one dimensional, the villain, I forgot his name is kinda weak. The action is pretty good. I would say that Die Hard is one of favorite movie francise, even the one deemed by many as the worst – the Die Hard 2, I still like it somehow. I think the Die Hard formula will never die, cos it is really about one man face the evil and overcome barriers for the sake of saving others. This theme is as old as human history go, that’s why this kind of movie works and I like most of them, though the background/actors are different, like Stallone’s Cliffhanger, the First Blood, Arnold’s Predator, Keanu Reeves’ Speed, etc.

As Cora’s belly is getting larger and larger, I doubt we will go to see any more movies in the coming times, except the rat animation from Pixar that I promise to take her. In case we can go, I will buy the DVD when it comes out anyway, cos I collect all Pixar movies. Even if I see it, I will still buy it. I like Pixar’s movies, besides the animation is great, I think most of them have great stories, kinda like modern folklore that adults and kids can enjoy. So far, my top favorite is still Toy Story 2, and then it is probably Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. The weakest one is Cars. I own Ice Age and Ice Age 2: The meltdown. Very disappointed to both, except the silent character which chase the nut. Other than that, it’s kinda a waste of money. I also own Shrek and Shrek 2, I like them both, but I’m not sure about Shrek 3, cos I think it is really weak and there is almost no story to it, perhaps it was directed by a Hong Kong guy who input so much Hong Kong type humor in it. It was funny, but it lacks of depth, the theme was so shallow that it is not very well develop and compelling. If it puts more time to develop the character of Arthur, and its bonding with Shrek, then it should be better. Also, the Prince Charming and the villains are too stupid, simply annoying. In the last few years, there are getting more and more computer generated animation movies available, I’ve not seen all of them, cos as the volume increase so does the fluctuation of their quality, particularly in their script. As I got the Madagascar, I’m kinda lost the interest in most animation with ‘a group of animals from a zoo, or from a backyard, or from a swamp’. Cos, I think they are so overdone, not creative enough.
Anyway, I hope I will continue to enjoy these CG animation years to come, and I’m sure I will see these movies over and over again with my kid in future.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Starting My Blog

I don’t know why I pick this as my topic today. Considering its name, come to think of it, it should be the very first blog. However, I think that it is more appropriate for me to write this now, cos I’ve written few blogs already, and I think I have a more accurate feeling as a reflection of my blogging experience.

I love to surf the web, particularly on other peoples’ blogs in the last few months. Probably that’s the reason why I start my own blog. I always feel like I have something to say. Certainly, I talk to my wife, but sometimes, that’s just not enough for some reasons. Though I guess my blog has rarely visited by anyone yet, I don’t really care much! Cos, I just want to have a place to ‘pour my thoughts’ out and store it somewhere. Even if nobody will ever read them, I think someday when I look back and read my own blog, I will certainly get my own satisfaction. I think this blog is primary for me, not me only, but it serves as a gateway to show the ‘partially opened secret garden’ of my mind.

As I grow older, I think I’m more mellow that before. Like most people, I used to be very critical on matters. However, nowadays, I do try to look at the same things from different points of view beside mine. So, I may still be critical on certain matters, but I will look at things more objectively and to be more analytical. I think that’s analytical method that I adopt currently. I think it takes more time but is deemed to be more useful for me. I feel that this method is more complete.

I wish I could write my blogs in Chinese sometimes. I did try to learn typing Chinese few months ago. I’m not able to motivate myself to practice. So, I can only use writing pad or use 九方中文 (http://www.q9tech.com/b5/product/q9/q9chi/q9chi.php3) to input Chinese characters, but they are just not very efficient for me to write long paragraphs particularly when I don’t have much time to write my blogs most days. Nonetheless, I will still try to use Chinese to write something when the time is right….But hey, for folks who can’t read Chinese, reading my blog should not be a problem!

Actually, language is just one of the method to communicate, I will continue to use photos or pictures and probably set up some links to music and insert audio/video files in my blog in future.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Real Estate of Hong Kong

I’m no expert in the captioned topic by any mean. Just being a regular folk on the street that read news sometimes. Yesterday, I read news that 2 exclusive apartments at the top of a new skyrise at Kowloon MTR station (a subway station) is targeting to be sold at a jaw-dropping price of HK$40,000 per sq. ft. (roughly US$5,200), it just kinda insane! Actually, I can see that building from both of my home and my office (this week), cos it is located at the edge of the Victoria Harbor. It composes of 2 buildings with 70+ floors at least. I don’t know the English name of that building yet, but in Chinese, it is called (天璽Tin Sai), 璽 is the Royal Stamp from Emperor, so the name of the buildings literally means: The Royal Stamp from the Heaven. Considering that the price they are charging, the name kinda fits the bill.

Nonetheless, I think it is just the greed of local real estate developers that is driving the market. However, come to think of it, they can’t be blamed as there are people insane enough to pay that price for a piece of this kind of man-made ‘la-la land’ up in the sky. I guess the potential buyers must be those ‘newly-rich’ mainlanders from China. Cos, those really rich local tycoons won’t be fooled by this kind of deals. They prefer to buy independent houses or mansions in the mid-level/peak/south side of Hong Kong Island. Well, as some economic experts have cited that Hong Kong is now a 20-80 society, the rich 20 %( or 10%) are getting richer, and the rest are getting poorer. The local real estate market simply reflects that.

Some of my coworkers asked me why I rent instead of purchase an apartment. I think there are a lot of reasons for that. One of them is that I don’t think the high price of real estate in Hong Kong is justified in the long run. I think Hong Kong’s economy has already peaked before 1997. The quality of current local political leaders with their limited and narrowed vision, their hesitations in making decisions, their cozy relationships with tycoons, etc, I’m not very confident in Hong Kong’s economy in the long run (in terms of decades). In addition, Hong Kong’s population is getting older, the newly immigrants are mostly less-educated and poorer, and the current speed of development in Shenzhen, next door in Mainland China, etc, I think that the price of apartment here may still rise in the short run, but it will not go on forever. So, spending a fortune on an expensive apartment (though those that I can afford to buy are not expensive one) and got stuck for years are not a commitment that I choose to take on. I feel more comfortable to have my money in other forms (like stocks, funds, fixed deposits, cash) than an apartment. Also, consider that current quality of new apartments, which is high in concept and style, but low in quality and usage, even if I’m going to buy an apartment, I think I would prefer those older apartments (>10 years old) in the secondary market than the new ones.

To people who are not living in Hong Kong, many new real estates have TV ads that just amazing in the way that, without viewing the last 2 seconds of it, you would not know they are selling apartments (cos, they usually will put the name of the place and maybe a far away night view of the building at the end of the ad). Otherwise, all you find the ads are anything but apartments, like beautiful young Caucasian women, couture, gowns, horse-riding, scenes of landscape of countryside somewhere in Europe, castles, ballroom dancing, Caucasian butlers, which are ALL ‘absent’ in the tiny apartments (versus the feeling that you may get from the ads) in their buildings or view from the windows outside of those apartments. I wonder who are the genius creating those ads and who are the wise guys/gals accepting them. Do those ads really work? Has anyone been inspired by them and really buy those apartments after view those ads? I really wonder……

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Accidental Encounter

Few days ago, I read in the news that Beijing has donated a wax statue of the late Deng Xiao Ping (I opine that he is the most important Chinese leader in Modern Chinese History in this century) to Hong Kong and it is now displayed in a shopping mall next to my office. So, at lunch today, I hopped over there after running some errands and took 2 pictures of the statue as follow:


However, when I left the mall and went back to my office building, I saw a bunch of camera crews with reporters downstairs. So, out of my usual nosiness and curiosity, I checked that out and find that one of my favorite singers – Jacky Cheung was being interviewed by TVB after a function apparently related of the upcoming Olympics. So, I only took a picture and got the out of there.

Monday, July 2, 2007

A view from my apartment


Just happen to take a picture from the window of my apartment. The right hand side is a reflection from a glass wall of a hotel with is across the street. The right hand side is the Victoria Habour. Nice sunset!

Movie Selection

I went to see Shrek the Third last evening with Cora. It was ok, I think the Shrek 2 is better. But I did enjoy it.

I love movies, though I’ve not seen as many as I used because of my densely packed schedules. I still love to see movies whenever it is possible. Of course, I’ve to be quite selective these days in order to cherish the precious time that I have. When I was in the States, including cinema and videos, I saw more than 40 movies a year, that didn’t even include Hong Kong movies when it was still worth watching. I saw movies of all kind, from ‘old’ classic to blockbusters, from Art film, foreign film (movie in French/Japanese), to Hollywood movies. Including sci-fi, horror, drama, action, cheesy comedy, etc, it depends on my mood most of the time, particularly for foreign art films and old classics. Cos, if I don’t have patience, I couldn’t enjoy them or even finish them. Casablanca is an example, I borrowed that movie twice before and couldn’t pass the first 10 minutes each time, because I was tired and it bored me to sleep. So, even though that movie is supposed to be a classic and everyone keeps saying how great it is. I’m sorry that I’ve yet to be able to finish watching it once. I also remember the movie ‘Raise the Red Lantern’ by Gong Li. It was supposed to be a great art film from China at the time, however, the pace of the movie was so slow that…I remember I’ve to fast forward the view just to see a women walking from far away with a lantern in her hand to come closer to the camera for the movie to proceed. That’s why ‘mood’ is important in watching those movies.

Nonetheless, the reason I love movies is because it just provides people a window to escape reality, especially when the reality is boring or sad. Certainly, the special effect, the fantasy, and eye-candies are enticing and appealing eyeballs. In terms of watching movie experience, I think that I can cite a few that is kinda memorable in terms of the ‘feeling’ that they created after watching it:-

Rambo – I remember I saw that when I was in high school. It was the first Hollywood movie that I went to see by myself. I remembered that I felt so ‘pumped up’ after watching it that I felt like I could pick a fight while I was walking my way home.

Godfather I, II & III – I remember I saw all 3 videos in a row over night in a snowy winter when I was in the States. I was looking of job after graduation and I didn’t have much money to spend on entertainment, so I borrowed a lot of classics from local library at that time. I saw part I in the afternoon and part II and part III at night. After I turned off the light and closed my eyes to go to bed. I could hear the Godfather theme in my head playing over and over; also I saw the mansions from Italy in my head as well that night.

Blair Witch Project – what a phenomenon! The movie was full of ‘shit’ and ‘fuck’ in dialog and it was boring – just a few grudging kidults got lost in the woods. Only worthy seeing was the last few minutes of the movie. Overall, the camera movement gave me a headache so bad that I’ve closed my eyes few times to keep my orientation. I remember my friend Helen and her roommates need to lean their head to the back panels of the seat in front because they were dizzy.

Matrix Revolution – it was the first IMAX movie that I saw during my long business trip to Singapore when I was in my ex-company. The screen was huge – like 5 floors and the movie of course were phenomenal! Especially during the screens when the robots were shooting the hell of each other. However, the spore on the face of each actor/actress were so visible that it made them look bad, particularly for Lawrence Fishburne who has so many pimple leftovers from his younger days (I guess) and the large gap between his front teeth that IMAX made him look so ugly that you want him (as a good guy in the movie) to die!

Schrinder’s List – An excellent film about the Holocaust. I saw that on a Christmas morning in the States. Usually on that day, most families are celebrating and staying at home. I was a bit lonely that year, so I just went to movie and saw that. I remember that there was a scene in the movie about the smoke coming up from chimney which signaled some Jews were tricked to take shower but got poison with gases instead. As the movie was in black and white and the smoke was up against a grey sky. I remember I left the cinema and drove home and saw some smoke coming out the chimney of some folk’s houses (it was winter and people that burnt woods in-house to keep warm). Somehow, I link scenes, one from the movie and one in reality, together, kinda strange and coincident.

Well, that’s all for movie this time. Certainly, I will talk about movies more in future.