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! :)