Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy 2007!

To all the readers of my blog, wish you a happy and prosperous new year! My little suggestion as of what to do at year end:
  • Think about what you did in this year
  • Find out whether you're heading towards your dream (if you don't have one, think about what you want in your life! It's never too late to come up with a dream, even at your seventy's)
  • Write down what you're going to do in 2007 to approach you dream and actually begin doing it now!
As a old Chinese saying says

    "A thousand-mile trip begins at with a single step."

Make your first step today!

Eason Imitating Aaron Kwok, Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung & Alan Tam

I think many of you should have seen this video before but since Tina said that she hasn't seen it yet so I'm posting it here. If you don't know about any famous Hong Kong male singer like Jacky Cheung and Alan Tam you won't find this interesting. Eason was just imitating those male singers in this video :P (Before watching this video, I didn't know that his voice can be so much like Jacky's!)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Buying Gifts

My girlfriend and I were pretty busy buying Christmas gifts these days. We actually went to the mall many times because we didn't expect that some people would give us Christmas gifts so we had to buy them gifts in return. After all, it's pretty embarrassing just to receive gifts from others.

We actually had a hard time figuring out what to buy for our friends. There're certain merchandise that are not good gifts such as clothes, pants, shoes, etc. They're just too personal. Some stuff are pretty practical, like toilet paper, detergent, milk, etc. But they're commodities, weird to give those as gifts. Besides, since we're not that rich, we've to limit our budget. And the gifts better be approximately equal in values: it's pretty embarrassing for a so-so friend to find out you give an iPod to your good buddy while he only gets a $10 Starbucks gift card.

At the end, we just bought a bunch of gift cards from some popular retailers. This actually serves all our three concerns:
  • They're not too personal; our friends can buy anything they want (well, anything from those retailers)
  • Very easy to control the budget
  • Exactly equal in values
As a matter of fact, I think it'll be most efficient just to give cash out, since they really can use them to buy anything they want without being limited to certain stores. It's just like Chinese adults giving children red pockets with cash inside during Chinese New Year. But it's so awkward giving out cash as gifts. Do you know any person who gives cash out? I don't personally know any, so I better follow the crowd :P

And I think to myself: why do we want to give gifts to others? I'm sure people have different reasons for doing this: thank the people who have helped them, show some people that they care about them, bribe the people who can help them in the future. Or they just send gifts out because it's Christmas and everybody is doing that. I don't know, but I think there's one simple thing we want to see: people feel happy after receiving the gifts.

To feel happy after receiving the gift, I think you've to like the gift that you receive. You'd say that the thoughtfulness of the person who gives the gift deserves appreciation also. Yup, I agree about that. This applies if the person giving the gift is not doing so because of tradition or the hope of getting something in return, which is probably 80% of the cases I'd say? If your case is one of those 80% I just mentioned, you probably want to make sure that the people whom you send gifts to actually like the gift you send, otherwise it's just a waste of your time and money and the gift receiver's time. (since s/he has to think about where to put or get rid of your "gift")

But how do we know what gift people like? That's the tough part. Sometimes I don't even know what gifts I'd like to receive, let alone the ones others would like to have. People in developed countries are blessed. If you're talking about basic necessities, people have them already. The stuff that people don't have are usually luxurious, like a S55 Mercedes or, hmmm, a house. (For those who don't live in LA, a house is pretty luxurious here) I don't know any friend who's rich enough to give these stuff as gifts. (if you know any introduce to me man!) So, you've a budget and you've to buy something people like/don't have. For me, figuring this out is more difficult than figuring Math puzzle like this.

To avoid hassles like this, I really think we should stop giving gifts because of tradition. Don't give gifts to people whom you don't really know. This just forces them to spend their time to think about what gifts to give you so that they don't feel that they owe you something. "Well, you mentioned about gift card right?" Yeah, but if we all give gift cards to each other, that is, exchanging them, isn't that sort of similar to exchanging cash? That's silly man.

If you buy your best friend a gift, he knows that he's not obligated to buy you something in return. You feel happy just by knowing that he really likes your gift, not by getting something back. And if you really give gifts to others for the purpose of getting something in return, hmmm, I think that's okay, since you already assume that those people know what you want, correct? Otherwise, you'd have to tell them "Hey I give you this gift so you better give me that in return." I don't think anyone would do that :P

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Indian Thriller

You guys have probably seen this Indian Thriller video but I still think that it's very hilarious when I see it again. Compare it with Michael's original Thriller and you'll notice that Indian guy made lots of similar moves that Michael did :P

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

We all do what makes us happy :P

Around two weeks ago a friend asked me if I want to join their Christmas party. Knowing that I may want to join another group's (let's call it group A) activity, I told her that I would let her know later. Last week I confirmed that I'll join group A's activity, so I let her know that I can't go to their Christmas party. She told me that she was pretty frustrated since people only go to their gathering if they really have nothing to do. I didn't expect that she would tell me her true feelings and felt pretty guilty about that (-_____- )

You may ask me, "How come you don't go to her Christmas party? After all, she was the one who asked you first, shouldn't you appreciate that she took the initiative to invite you?" Boy, I got what you're saying. Let me confess: I think that it's more fun to hang out with group A than her group. As a matter of fact, her group is a Christian church. I've to say that I respect Christianity and actually agree with a good deal of morals from the Bible. However, because of these morals, many things that I'd consider funny isn't really appropriate in the church. They like to talk about the meanings of life and reflect on what you do in your daily lives. Don't get me wrong, this is very good and meaningful (I'm not being sarcastic, I mean it!) . It's just that after a whole week of hard work, I'd like to loosen up and do something fun. If you know me good enough, like my girlfriend does (hahaha), you'd know that I like stupid stuff such as these two extraordinarily intelligent dudes.

Everyone of us values different things. Workaholics can work 30 hours a day 8 days a week. Young kids are obsessed with their new game console. A teen girl in love can talk on the phone overnight without sleeping (You know who you're). An old man would enjoy so much bringing his grandson to the Disneyland Park. A Ph.D. student spend the entire Christmas-to-New-Year holiday weeks in the lab, since, holiday basically is no different from a regular weekday to him.

And the list goes on.

It's just impractical to assume that other people value the same stuff you do. I'm not sure if this makes sense to evolutionists or Christians but basically we just do stuff that makes us happy.

Yeah, it's that simple. That sounds pretty selfish huh? Yeah, it does, but this is how human beings (or organism?) function. "Wait, some people like helping others, you can't say that they're selfish, right?" Well, don't you agree that they feel happy after they help someone? I say they do, guaranteed or your money back. "I help a blind person crossing the street and I feel so unhappy and sad and want to beat someone up now." Can you imagine that? No way. "Okay, how about going to school? I bet most kids don't like going to school." Yeah you're right. But you know what, their parents make them go to school. If they don't listen, they may not get Wii as a Christmas present. We're not that short-sighted. If we see happiness in the future, we're willing to be unhappy for a while so as to be happy later on. Yeah sometimes we do stuff to prevent us from being unhappy also, like giving all your money to an armed robber because you'd got killed otherwise. It's pretty unpleasant to got killed, right? :P

My argument may be wrong for people who're out of their minds. Yeah, those people who're crazy. That being said, I still think that my argument is still somehow right as I think that crazy people are still doing something they want to do, and doing something you want to do makes you happy. Although ethnically unforgivable, a crazy serial killer who killed all his co-workers might feel happy after committing such a horrible crime.

Hmmmm so what do I want to say... Oh yeah, basically, understand and respect people's choices. That's no right or wrong on what you do as long as you don't hurt other people. To make your life happier, you should hang around with people who more or less share the same values as you do. We all know that one feels happier if someone feels happy about the same thing as he does. That's why your husband/wife's values better be 90% the same as yours or you should expect a divorce years later.

Next time a girl rejects your invitation for a date out and doesn't make any counter offer, you know that some other guy makes her happier than you do. Take it easy and move on :P

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Fido Puzzle

Not sure how many of you guys are interested in Math but if you're an engineer like me you may be interested in the Fido Puzzle. How did Fido figure out what number you pick? This is actually not that difficult and if you figure it out you can tell your dream girl that you can read her mind hehehe (Of course, your dream girl better not be an engineering/Math major :P)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Tall platform shoes

I remember back in the 90's, tall platform shoes like this one was very trendy in Hong Kong. Almost every girl was wearing some variant of tall platform shoes. My honest opinion? I think that they were very ugly. I do like girls wearing high-heeled shoes because they enhance the curly characteristic of their legs. However, those tall platform shoes actually destroy this curliness because of the thick platform in the front portion of the shoes. Besides, those shoes could hurt their ankles very badly if they accidentally twisted their feet.

Dance Dance Revolution

When I went back to Hong Kong in 1999, Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) was extremely popular. No matter where you went, you would hear the song "Butterfly", which was the most popular DDR song then. After I came back to LA, I started to play it and fell in love with it. In 2000, I went back to Hong Kong again. I was expecting that I need to wait a long line before I could play a game but I didn't! Just one year later, no one was playing DDR anymore. Instead, lots of people were playing new music games like DrumMania and Dance Maniax. Were they a lot more fun than DDR? I don't think so. The basic idea of all those game was the same. You just need to follow the music and make some body movements.

Doing what others are doing

Why this phenomenon? Because those stuff were trendy. Yes, only because they were trendy and all their friends were doing the same thing. Being trendy is an important culture in many cities/countries in Asia, such as Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. The peer pressure is so great that if you're being not trendy, people would think that you're weird. Personally, I hate this kind of thoughts pretty much. Why?

Why I dislike trendiness

First of all, it is so damn boring. How will you feel if every song you listen to is pop because it's trendy? How about seeing movies that are all comedies because comedies are very trendy this year? I bet you'll feel bored after seeing 100 comedies, not matter how funny there are.

Second, people who like to be trendy don't have the ability to think independently. "Oh, famous_female_star is carrying an LV bag, since she's a fashion icon, let's follow her!" And suddenly all the women on the street are carrying LV bags, whether they were made in China or made in France. Hey, famous_female_star looks good with an LV bag, but are you famous_female_star? Think about it, famous_female_star is very pretty, so basically she looks good with any handbag she carries!

Third, pursuing trendiness makes you shallow. There are many human traits worth paying attention to: conscientiousness, honesty, kindness, politeness, thoughtfulness, sense of humor, to count a few. Judging a person by his/her appearance is just not fair and it makes you miss some good people. This point is so obvious that I don't think I need to say much about it.

The irony of being trendy

I think that most people who pursue trendiness somehow want to appear special or different from regular people. They want to show people how cool they look. Ironically, by getting all the trendy stuff, they end up looking just more or less the same as the trendy people, which is the majority of the crowd, and in this case, that straight A's nerdy Computer Science student with a pair of thick oily glasses actually stands out from the crowd :P

Respecting different values and cultures

A friend of mine said that he likes one aspect of the US culture and I have the same feeling. No one wouldn't say that iPod is very popular in the US nowadays. However, no one would think that you're weird because you don't have an iPod. I guess this is because of the great variety of races and ethnic groups here so everyone learns to respect other people's cultures and life styles.

Yeah, I still play DDR everyday, though it is an 8-year old game. I still love it and I think it's a good workout.

Yeah, I still like Hey Jude although it was written more than 38 years ago.

Yeah, I still don't have an iPod.

"Get lost man, you're so 20th century." Oh thank you, I take that as a compliment :)

Note: I do have an iPod now :P

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Hey Jude by Eason Chan

Eason Chan, my favorite Hong Kong male singer, sang the song "Hey Jude" in this video. I have listened to many Cantonese songs from Eason but this is the first time I listen to an English song sung by him and I think he did pretty well! What do you think?

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Dilbert Quotes

I got the following quotes from a friend and they're pretty old but I think they're still funny when I read them again. Have a laugh :)

1. "As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken next Wednesday and employees will receive their cards in two weeks". (This was the winning quote from Fred Dales at Microsoft Corp. in Redmond.)

2. "What I need is a list of specific unknown problems we will encounter". (Lykes Lines Shipping)

3. "E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It should be used only for company business". (Accounting manager,Electric Boat Company)

4. "This project is so important, we can't let things that are more important interfere with it". (Advertising/Marketing manager, United Parcel Service)

5. "Doing it right is no excuse for not meeting the schedule".

(This one sounds like something coming out from the mouth of a marketing guy who thinks that Java and JavaScript are similar stuff)

6. "No one will believe you solved this problem in one day! We've been working on it for months. Now, go act busy for a few weeks and I'll let you know when it's time to tell them". (R&D supervisor, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing/3M Corp.)

7. "My Boss spent the entire weekend retyping a 25-page proposal that only needed corrections. She claims the disk I gave her was damaged and she couldn't edit it. The disk I gave her was write-protected". (CIO of Dell Computers)

8. Quote from the Boss: "Teamwork is a lot of people doing what I say". (Marketing executive, Citrix Corporation)

(Although my previous boss didn't say it, I think this is exactly what he thinks)

9. My sister passed away and her funeral was scheduled for Monday. When I told my Boss, he said she died on purpose so that I would have to miss work on the busiest day of the year. He then asked if we could change her burial to Friday. He said, "That would be better for me". (Shipping executive, FTD Florists)

10. "We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with the employees". Switching supervisor, AT&T Long Lines Division)

11. We recently received a memo from senior management saying: "This is to inform you that a memo will be issued today regarding the memo mentioned above". (Microsoft, Legal Affairs Division)

(I can't believe there really was a memo like that in Microsoft!)

12. One day my Boss asked me to submit a status report to him concerning a project I was working on. I asked him if tomorrow would be soon enough. He said, "If I wanted it tomorrow, I would have waited until tomorrow to ask for it!" (New business manager, Hallmark Greeting Cards.)

(This sounds real and it shows that lots of bosses are dumbasses)

13. As director of communications, I was asked to prepare a memo reviewing our company's training programs and materials. In the body of the memo in one of the sentences I mentioned the "pedagogical approach" used by one of the training manuals. The day after I routed the memo to the executive committee, I was called into the HR director's office, and told that the executive vice president wanted me out of the building by lunch. When I asked why, I was told that she wouldn't stand for perverts (pedophiles?) memo, with her demand that I be fired - and the word "pedagogical" circled in red. The HR manager was fairly reasonable, and once he looked the word up in his dictionary and made a copy of the definition to send back to her, he told me not to worry. He would take care of it. Two days later, a memo to the entire staff came out directing us that no words which could not be found in the local Sunday newspaper could be used in company memos. A month later, I resigned. In accordance with company policy, I created my resignation memo by pasting words together from the Sunday paper. (Taco Bell Corporation)

Sunday, December 3, 2006

x % Tips = Nonsense

Last Friday I had dinner with my friends at Dai Kei Sushi & Shabu in San Gabriel. The food was okay, not very fresh. Sauce was so-so. The service of the waitress who gave us the food and drink was nothing special either. Actually, there is something special: she never smiled to us once. When the bill came, it costed us around $15 per person.

Shabu Shabu is a rip-off

To me, this was pretty much a rip-off because I don't see any big investment to do a Japanese shabu-shabu hot pot place. One huge difference between a hot pot place and regular restaurant is that for a hot pot place you don't really need a chef and all the assistant chefs. What they need to make sure are the freshness of the food and the tastiness of the sauce. Yeah they need some guy to slice the meat but that shouldn't cost much. And it costed $15 a person. If I go to a Hong Kong cafe with my girlfriend, $15 can bring us drinks, soup and two dishes of food and the food is so much that we can take it home and have the left-over for another meal.

10% tips = standard

Anyways, this isn't what I want to talk about today. Hmmm oh yeah, we ended up paying six bucks as tips for that hot pot dinner since the bill amount was around $60, so 10% for tips. I didn't really feel that they deserved six dollars of tips but paying tips of at least 10% of the bill amount is like the de facto rule so we paid anyways.

Then we headed to a drink place called "Little Cat Feed Fish" literally. (Sorry, can't find its presence of the web) I like that place pretty much since it is quiet and not as crowded as Tea Station during the weekends. It is really a turn-off if you're with a bunch of friends at Saturday night and you need a place to hang out but then you find that you need to wait 45 minutes to get a table for 8 people. Besides, the service of "Little Cat" is pretty good, at least the waiter/waitress there will smile at us. As expensive as the drinks could be, the bill was like $15 and we ended up paying $2 for tips, which was more than 10% already.

People from "Little Cat Feed Fish" had to serve us almost the whole night and only got $2 for tips while that non-smiling waitress at the shabu-shabu place got $6.

Something is wrong here, isn't it? People who provides better service get less tips than those people who don't respect their job.

Alright, let's think about why we pay tips in the first place. We pay tips to the server because we think that they are doing a great job in providing the service and deserve some extra rewards. If you agree with that definition, any tips or gratuity that is mandatory is ultimate bullshit.

Mandatory tips are bullshit

Let me sidetrack a little bit...

To any servicing industry: don't insult your customer's intelligence. If you want to charge your customer a few bucks more, call it extra charge and let me know in advance, don't beautify it as mandatory gratuity or the likes. Besides, charging mandatory tips only makes your business less competitive. Why? If your waiters and waitresses get 18% tips for party of eight anyways, there's no incentive for them to do a better job and you lose your customer and close down your business. Good for you!

x% tips is nonsense

How is service quality related to some x % of the bill amount? Absolutely nothing. The bill amount is decided by how expensive the product/service is, not the service quality. No matter how excellent or horrible the service is, you still have to pay that $5.95 plus tax for that dish of your favorite fried rice you order. "How did this x % tips rule become the standard then?" I really don't know. This rule just doesn't make sense and if you know which idiot came up with this please let me know.

"So how should we pay tips then?" As I said two paragraphs above, we pay tips if the servers do a good job on providing the service. Well, let's be more specific for the restaurant industry. I think that we should pay tips according to two things:

1. Service quality
2. Number of dish/drink ordered

In general, the more food/drink you order, the more work the server has to do: give you the drinks, hand you extra pieces of lemon of your ice tea, grab the A1 sauce for your steak, etc. If a person doesn't order anything, the waiter doesn't really need to serve him. And, if waiter John gives the same service quality as waiter Peter does but waiter John is serving a huge party, of course John deserves more for tips.

But how do you translate those two factors into actual tips amount? Hmmm I think a simple way is just to rate the overall service quality as "Excellent", "Satisfactory" or "Bad", and think to yourself how much you will pay if you visit the restaurant alone and order one dish/drink, then multiply that number by the number of dish/drink your whole party order.

Is that simple enough? I don't know, but if you've better idea on how to pay tips, you're more than welcome to leave me a comment! :)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mark and Brian

During my long drive to UCLA on the 10 slowway (freeway? I don't feel free driving at 5 mph) every morning, I listen to the Mark and Brian radio program.

Since I am not a native speaker, I don't really understand many of their jokes. However, I know they are damn funny since one time a guy called them and said that he had to pull over and laugh for quite a while before he could resume driving after he listened to their joke.

I think this one with Brian imitating Michael Jackson is pretty funny, especially when he said "Whu Who" Ha Ha Ha. Enjoy :)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Do you really see the reality?

Like most software engineers, I don't really do enough exercises in my daily lives. So, I force myself to take a 30-minute walk on the UCLA campus every day after lunch.

After taking a few walks, I start to realize that the UCLA campus is actually pretty beautiful. The most beautiful part of the campus is the area from Wilson Plaza, up the Janss Steps all the way to Dickson Court.

"How come I never realize there is such a beautiful place at UCLA before?" I thought to myself.

I spent around four years at UCLA to get my degrees. During that period, I'm pretty sure that I've walked by that area a few hundreds times. However, not a single time did I have this feeling. As an engineering student, my life was just about going to classes, taking notes, looking for a good library to study, doing homework, studying in groups, etc.

Wilson Plaza was just part of my way to go to north campus from Boelter Hall.

People walk faster than me

One thing I notice from my lunch walk is that I walk slower than almost any student, including those who are shorter than me. Since my legs are longer than theirs, they must be walking at a faster pace in order to get ahead of me.

Why are they walking so fast? Of course, you only have around 10 minutes to walk from one building to another building between classes, possibly one in the south campus and one in the north campus. Do they care about how beautiful the lawn by which they pass is? I don't think so. Not even other students who pass by, unless one get bumped into a cute UCLA girl, which is pretty unlikely around the engineering buildings :P

Seeing something that doesn't exist

Our minds play a big role in how we perceive the world. In the book Sophie's World, I remember Alberto told Sophie that when a person looks for a friend in a restaurant and that friend hasn't arrived yet, what he actually sees is "Oh, my friend isn't there". He doesn't really "see" the waiters and other customers. He sees something that doesn't exist!

Perception has great influence

Talking in a philosophical way (don't yawn yet), we never really know the reality. Except the moment right after we were born, every one has some kind of memory and experience. Our memory, experience, emotions all influence how the world appears to us. Because of that, there are so many misunderstandings among people.

Three "versions" of McDonald's

To Peter, this McDonald's at the corner of the intersection is just a place where he has lunch at when his wife doesn't have time to prepare food for him. He would rush to finish the combo meal so that he has time to take a 15 minute nap before getting back to work. He can barely remember the faces of the cashiers there, thought he sees them every week.

To Mary, this McDonald's is the place where she always hanged out at with her boyfriend in her high school junior year. Now, as a successful lawyer, she doesn't really go to any fast food restaurant anymore, but she can't help smiling when she recalls that her ex-boyfriend always asked for three creamers for her coffee, which was exactly how much she wanted.

To John, this McDonald's is the first time he had a birthday party in a restaurant. His dad was awful at singing but he sang "Happy Birthday" to him in such a loud voice that every other customer could hear it. The customers were laughing at his dad while he broke into tears. His dad passed away three years ago. However, that day was like yesterday when he visits this McDonald's again.

Put yourself into others' shoes

Next time you have an argument with your beloved one, your family or your friends, try to put yourself into their shoes. When you do that, you may start to find out why their reactions to certain thing are so irrational. You may start to understand why they made such a stupid decision, to your mind.

If we hate each other because we don't understand, not because we did something bad, isn't that sad? Everybody has a story, go explore it :)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

How to Do What You Love

The following links to a very good article from Paul Graham about how to do what you love

How to Do What You Love

I think this is a very good follow-up on my previous post. Enjoy :)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Happy at work?

After I got my master degree from UCLA in 2004, the only thing in my mind is to look for a full-time job. If you are a foreign student, you would understand how difficult it is to even get an interview when you don't have much work experience. Most of the companies will just trash your resume if they know that your need sponsorship to work in the US.

As desperate as I could be, I finally got a job at a software company that turned out to be the most horrible working experience I have ever had in my life. Actually, I'm pretty confident that I will not have a worse experience in the future, since they were just extraordinary.

I remember on my first day of work, I was told by my boss to modify a little part of their software and it has to be done by the next day. Their software was written in a unknown variant BASIC called dL4 BASIC. I had never touched any kind of BASIC before, not to mention that piece of crap. So, I just tried by best and I think luckily I got it finished, not sure if it was the next day though. I felt that something was not right and later on realized that it was the beginning of my nightmare there.

The boss there was as toxic as you can imagine. Every day after he came into the office, he would check whether you were grooving on something every hour. The back of my chair faced the corridor so there was no way I could tell that he was standing right behind me and looking at my work. Besides, when he was mad (and he got mad easily), he would actually cuss at his employees. (Could you imagine your boss cussing at you??) He was impatient and conceited. The pay sucked. The computers were crappy (Pentium II) and there was not even an inkjet printer there. He actually got a printer that printed monospace character on papers with two columns of holes on the sides. (You know what I'm talking about right?) And the damn code, can you imagine that they got variables named "a1" or "b2"? I actually thought that his ex-programmers revenged on him by writing code that only compilers can understand.

Very soon, I realized why he told me that his employees kept leaving the company, and apparently he had no idea that why it was happening. I didn't expect that I would be even more desperate in looking for a job after I got a job, and as soon as I got an offer, I quited without even giving them a two-week notice. (Well I did have bad time in that new job also, maybe I will talk about that in another post)

I always thought that high salary should be the first thing people look for when they are trying to get a job. Now when I think about that experience, I can assure you that I will not work for such a toxic company even they pay me 200K a year. Well, yeah maybe you can work for them for a little while and then quited later on for the purpose of getting a high pay for a few months, but what's the point of doing that? The reason we value money so much is that it can satisfy most of our material needs, which ultimately leads to happiness. If you hate your job, is that worth the high salary?

If you need to sleep 8 hours a day, you got 16 hours left. Half of that is spent at work, and in the remaining 8 hours, maybe you spend 2 hours in the traffic, 1 hour for lunch, 1 hour for dinner, 1 hour for breakfast, brushing teeth, shaving, changing and shower, 1 hour on listening to your girlfriend's/wife's complains, and you got 2 hours left (to watch TV?). And weekends you probably need to do some housework, laundry, go to the bank, deal with some bills, go to supermarket, go get the car fixed, go shopping with your girlfriend/wife, etc. I don't see there's much time left for which you can really do something you like to do. If you are unhappy in that 8-hour period at work every day, most of your life before retirement is miserable. What good do all the greens do then?

Thinking about that, job satisfaction is really important. If you got a toxic boss like I did, or your job is boring like hell, go get a new job and work on something that amuses you every day. Life shouldn't be painful :P

Saturday, November 11, 2006


As I mentioned in the previous post, I am going to write an article about what I think the word professional should mean. I think it is worth some time to talk about it since this term is so abused that one can accuse another person as unprofessional without giving any reason these days. Looking up the definition of professional on, it gives the following definitions:

1. Of, relating to, engaged in, or suitable for a profession: lawyers, doctors, and other professional people.

2. Conforming to the standards of a profession: professional behavior.

3. Engaging in a given activity as a source of livelihood or as a career: a professional writer.

4. Performed by persons receiving pay: professional football.

5. Having or showing great skill; expert: a professional repair job.

Let us skip definitions 2 and 4 and talk about the other three definitions in the following. Definition 2 is pretty vague as the "standards" of a profession can be anything and definition 4 is actually describing some activity, not a person.

Definition 1 basically describes someone who works in a certain profession for a living. But what does profession mean? says that it is "An occupation, such as law, medicine, or engineering, that requires considerable training and specialized study." According to this definition, any job that does not require considerable training and specialized study is not a profession. Well, there are jobs like that, such as being a janitor or an office assistant. You do need to be trained somehow to perform as a janitor or an office assistant, but I guess most people would agree that one does not need considerable amount of training to do that. Following that logic, some people can never be professional, no matter how well they perform on their jobs, since their jobs by definition are not professions!

Definition 3 is pretty easy: if you gets paid by working as a XXX, then you are a professional XXX. This can coexist with definition 1 in the sense that if you work as a lawyer but you don't get paid, you are not a professional lawyer.

Definition 5 is probably the most common concept in most people's minds: to be an expert in what you are doing.

Now, my turn to say what I think about these definitions.

I am sick of definition 1. Although it doesn't say it directly, it does imply that some jobs are more superior than some other jobs. So, some jobs, like doctors and lawyers, deserve to be referred to as "professions" and others do not. Since I was small, I always hold a strong belief, which is an old Chinese saying:

There is no difference in dignity among all careers

No matter what a person does for a living, as long as s/he does not violate the laws and contribute to society in some way, s/he deserves respect. Trying to refer some careers as "professions" and some other careers as "jobs" seems to be a result of some "professionals" trying to please their own egos.

Definition 3 is common enough but I disagree with it. Those doctors who help the poor in developing countries without getting paid are still professional. To my mind, they are even more professional than the ones who get paid.

Definition 5 is right, you got to be good at what you are doing. That is kind of like one's responsibility, even we are not talking about the meaning of professional.

My definition of professional is simple enough:

1. To be good at what you are doing.
2. Respect what you are doing.

The first point is just definition 5 above, so it does not need any explanation. The second point, however, is ignored by lots of people.

Have you ever scheduled to see a doctor and you actually got to see the doctor at the time of your appointment? If you do, I am surprised, because, as far as I can remember, I have never been able to see a doctor at the time of an appointment in my whole life. (In Hong Kong it is a First In First Out system, so there is no appointment) Waiting for at least an hour in the doctor's office is pretty usual to me. If they can't make the time of the appointments, what is the point of setting up the appointments in the first place? To torture the patients and waste their time? Or they are just not competent enough to make "rough" estimate of the time it takes to see each patient? (By "rough" I mean +/- 15 minutes, I can live with that) To respect what you are doing, you got to respect your customers, if you have any. I don't feel that my time is respected at all in this case. Are the doctors professional in this case? Ah, I don't think so.

To respect what you are doing, not only do you need to respect your customers, you also have to respect your coworkers, your boss and take responsibility in whatever you are doing. Besides, take pride in what you are doing. I worked in a few Hong Kong cafes before, got minimum pay plus a little tips and got yelled by the boss all the times, so what? I take pride in that. If you look down on your own job, how do you expect other people to not look down on you? If may not like your job since it is boring or the pay sucks or the boss is a dumbass, but there is absolutely no reason that you should be ashamed of it.

Are your professional? :)

Monday, November 6, 2006

"Sir, would you like to make a donation?"

I guess most of you have had experience being asked to make a donation in some public place like restaurants and schools. Usually, those people hold a donation box and a poster that shows some starving children in some developing country. Most of the time they get rejected by the potential donors but they are persistent enough to go around the whole restaurant to ask every single customer. Did I ever donate any money to them? No Way.

Why? First of all, 9 out of 10 times I have never heard of the charity organizations that they are representing. Even I do know the organization, say, Red Cross, there is no way for me to find out if they are authentic.

"Hey this is my Red Cross employee ID."

Hey, how do I know that your ID is authentic? Not to mention the fact that I have never seen a Red Cross employee ID, even I have seen one, your ID can just be a fake one that looks very similar to the real one. Honestly, it is very difficult for one to prove that s/he is an authentic representative of some organization in a short time. If it is a person holding ID and working in a well-publicized charity event held by well-known organization, I would believe that s/he is authentic, but usually it is not the case.

If I am not sure if my money will fall into good hands or not, I will not donate even a buck. Why don't I just write a check to American Red Cross and mail it to them or donate through their website if I want to help the poor? Not to say that there is no chance that some malicious Red Cross internal employees can steal my money that way but it is quite unlikely. Because of that, I would rather give a buck or two to a beggar who holds a sign saying "Need a Beer" at the freeway entrance than a mysterious good-looking person claiming to be a representative from Red Cross. At least I know the beggar will probably use my money to buy a beer in the first case.

Talking about people at the freeway entrances, those people who sell oranges, peanuts, cherries and flowers at those places really deserve your help to my mind. Their oranges are probably not better than those from Fresh & Easy, but they try to earn themselves a living instead of getting welfare and/or foodstamp from the government and contribute nothing to society. If they get only $2 for a bag of 20 oranges, you can imagine how little they make in a day. Yet, they are willing to wait at freeway entrances while exposed to direct sunlight all day long and surrounded by polluted air from the vehicles.

If you are one of those people selling stuff at freeway entrances or exits, please take cares and watch out for dangerous drivers for your own safety...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Tech Support for Soup of the Day

Got this joke from some mailing list, enjoy :)

Patron: Waiter!

Waiter: Hi, my name is Bill, and I'll be your Support. What seems to be the problem?

Patron: There's a fly in my soup!

Waiter: Try again, maybe the fly won't be there this time.

Patron: No, it's still there.

Waiter: Maybe it's the way you're using the soup. Try eating it with a fork instead.

Patron: Even when I use the fork, the fly is still there.

Waiter: Maybe the soup is incompatible with the bowl. What kind of bowl are you using?

Patron: A SOUP bowl!

Waiter: Hmmm, that should work. Maybe it's a configuration problem. How was the bowl set up?

Patron: You brought it to me on a saucer. What has that to do with the fly in my soup?!

Waiter: Can you remember everything you did before you noticed the fly in your soup?

Patron: I sat down and ordered the Soup of the Day!

Waiter: Have you considered upgrading to the latest Soup of the Day?

Patron: You have more than one Soup of the Day each day??

Waiter: Yes, the Soup of the Day is changed every hour.

Patron: Well, what is the Soup of the Day now?

Waiter: The current Soup of the Day is tomato.

Patron: Fine. Bring me the tomato soup, and the check. I'm running late now.

[waiter leaves and returns with another bowl of soup and the check]

Waiter: Here you are, Sir. The soup and your check.

Patron: This is potato soup.

Waiter: Yes, the tomato soup wasn't ready yet.

Patron: Well, I'm so hungry now, I'll eat anything.

[waiter leaves.]

Patron: Waiter! There's a gnat in my soup!

The check:

Soup of the Day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $5.00
Upgrade to newer Soup of the Day. . . . . $2.50
Access to support . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $1.00

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The phone is ringing, go get it now!

I was reading an article today and it talked about how people would put aside whatever they doing to answer a phone call and it was so interesting, so I decide to write something about it.

Telephone is perhaps one of the greatest inventions in the human history. It let people from across the globe to talk to each other almost instantly. Since some time after it is invented, however, for some reason people get into a way to think that whenever a phone starts ringing, s/he has to answer it as soon as possible, as long as their hands are free (Oh well, we got handset now but you still need to use your hand to turn the handset on, I guess?)

Try to think about it, among all the tools that facilitate communications, including your vocal cords, mail, phone, fax, email and instant messenger, phone is given as much attention as a real person who stands in front of you. Oh, actually, that is not right. Phone quite often has a higher priority than a real person. I have had meetings with my previous boss that were interrupted every five minutes since he had to pick up phone calls. When he was talking on the phone, I had to wait and do nothing there but at the same time I dared not to leave since I was not dismissed yet. And finally when he finished the call, he already forgot where we were and I had to explain to him again. And the damn phone rang again. Basically, we are always ignoring a person because of another person for no good reason. Oh there is a reason: the phone is so annoying that you want it to stop ringing even one more second. This is kind of stupid, isn't it?

When I think about it now, I understand why I got so pissed off when my friend didn't answer my phone call. We are all so used to getting instant attention when we call somebody because phone call is so spoiled to receive attention right away since don't know how long ago. Ironically, though we expect people to answer our phone call immediately, we also get pissed if your friend keeps talking on the phone and ignore us. Not to mention being out on a date with a girl, even if a guy friend keeps talking on the phone when we are having lunch or something, I will get pretty upset about it. I would think "Dammit, if you like talking to some other person more than me, go home and talk all night long and don't waste my time."

Actually, you don't really do it in front of your boss, do you? "Hey I am having a meeting with my boss now I will call you back." You would say that in 3 seconds and hang up. Why would you think that you boss deserves more respect than your friends? "He is the one who pays me you dumbass." Yeah, I almost forget about that.

Anyways, next time you are meeting your friend and your cell phone starts ringing with that cutie ring tone, please

• answer the phone call and politely tell the caller that you are with you friends and you will call them back later on (and remember that), or

• if it is a call from your crush and you definitely have to talk to him/her for more than 10 minutes, dismiss you friend. Life is short!

Friday, October 20, 2006

遇見了你 (Meeting You)

遇見了你 讓生命美好
我看見繁華的春天  愛情如陽光閃耀 我給你我的愛

離開了我 你默默低頭 
我看見往事如雲煙 愛情沉重的憂愁

那依舊溫暖的笑容啊 那不再提起的永恆
那曾經完整的美夢啊 此時此刻 

終於你離開了 帶走我給你的愛
帶走我的幸福 飛到了天邊 到另一個世界 留下我的傷

終於你離開了我 愛到最深處不該怨憂 是對自己的承諾
只是她 不曾了解我
可是她 我還愛她

終於你離開了 帶走我給你的愛
帶走我的幸福 飛到了天邊 到另一個世界 

終於你離開我 帶走我給你的愛
帶走我的幸福 飛到了天邊 到另一個世界 

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My favorite posts

I started this blog in 2006 and have been writing posts regularly since then. The following is a list of my favorite posts created through out the years. Hope that you like them too :)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

First Post

I decide to try using blogger to see if it is user friendly enough so that I can update my blog more frequently than the Friendster's one. Hopefully it will work out :)