I had to take an Air Canada Route flight. Since it is a low cost carrier, they don’t have inflight entertainment and I had to bring my own tablet. Of course, their wifi entertainment didn’t work so I resorted to watching some stuff from my own devices. I didn’t have a selection, so I settled on Jobs – the biography of Steve Jobs from 2013.
Although I have a passing interest in watching his bio, I wasn’t enthusiastic about it. I guess that tainted my perception of the film a bit. Secondly, I felt they tried to summarize his life and pack it into a movie by weaving a bunch of key points into a short narrative. Especially in the beginning, every scene had some important element or aspect of his life, in addition to the main plot that was unfolding. The rhythm just felt off.
As the film progressed in to Apple being successful, I started to wonder how authentic this story was. In researching on IMDB, there were a lot of liberties taken to make it “Hollywood” but I think it was still fairly true to the spirit. I also found out that there was another Jobs bio released 2 years later called Steve Jobs! That feels a little wasteful.
I think Ashton Kutcher did a great job portraying Jobs – I even liked how he practiced a specific walk (which I didn’t know he had until the movie). However, it was still not that interesting movie for me – 2 out of 5 stars.
Unlike years past, we didn’t make a lot of progress on Christmas shopping before December this year because we were busy with the house. That meant we had to fit it all into December. The gifts for teachers & etc were easy since it’s pretty much the same every year (and we can plan for it) but everyone else was a lot harder. Eventually we got it done, but lots of gift cards and Amazon for most things. One thing I noticed this year was a distinct lack of Christmas cards. I guess everyone finally made the shift (sorry Hallmark).
I made one last trip to Korea in December, and had to fly around in a circuitous fashion, so luckily that gave me enough miles to bump into the 75k threshold. There’s not much change between the previous tier and this one though.
To give everyone a change to visit our new house, we hosted a few times over the holidays. Necessary evil but it’s all done now!
We didn’t do much Boxing Day shopping as there wasn’t anything we needed (closets are full). There are still a couple of things we need to fill out our house but they aren’t a rush. We did end up buying an aquarium and some fish, so those our the first pets in our new house.
Welcome to my 2018 year in review, aka a winding tour of 20 thoughts about this year. Here we go!
(1) It’s been 10 years since I got married and six years since we’ve had our first child. We’re on our third place to live now. That’s pretty solid into adult life and adult responsibilities. I’m technically in the leading edge of Millennials and still feel I connect with that generation. But do I really?
(2) It’s been 13 years since I graduated from undergrad. Most of my peers have been in industry for that long too. While I think there is title inflation, a lot of us are at senior levels at companies – not just senior engineer/developer (which you seemed to jump up to with only a few years of experience) but management level. That’s another change that just creeps up on you.
(3) Like last year, I haven’t been using my core skills at work. I guess building new skills is important, and there’s still a lot of that this year. The most fun and useful one though is deal making – I wouldn’t want to do the front line negotiations, but it’s challenging to theorize.
(4) I applied that skill this year as we bought a new house a moved. (5) The deal making wasn’t bad, but it was a tough experiences to move. You know, I used to move every 4 months, from school back home or to a Coop placement. I never liked it, but it was manageable. Now there’s just a lot of stuff and it’s hard to go through the process. Just like when we moved into our old townhouse, there are a bunch of empty rooms and the house feels empty. However, as with the townhouse, I think it’s going to fill out as a matter of time.
(6) I hardly ever chat with other people (friends). It’s something most people do, and it’s so easy now with our phones. It’s just not something I want to do. I guess you could say it’s a hobby (people chatting with others) and it’s not one of mine. (7) I don’t have a lot of hobbies, but I always wanted to have one esoteric one. Everyone is interested in the same thing (photography, travel, etc). Well I found a unique one (and it’s something that I’m truly interested in, and not just saying it) – genealogy. I spent a lot of time this year researching my family tree and trying to map it out. It’s hard because eventually it leads into China and I don’t have the ability to search there. But I’ve made good progress in the US.
(8) When I was younger, I had a hobby of watching movies. But ever since we had kids, I have hardly watched any movies. There’s no chance to go to the movie theatre, and we don’t subscribe to Netflix. It’s not something I miss though – from the expensive tickets/concessions to chasing the new media rabbit. Except, this is not true anymore. I actually have watched a lot of movies this year (~30) and while most of them are on the plane, they still count.
(9) Time shifting movies like that is an evolution of my new life. This year I have felt that my time management has changed. I’ve always prided myself in preparation and having enough time to do things properly, but this year there were numerous times (daily or weekly) where I felt rushed. I guess one reason is because I am trying to hold onto priorities that shouldn’t be that important anymore (stuff from days before we had kids), and the other reason is just that there is more stuff going on at once now.
(10) Another thing that continues to be missing is having time to myself, to reflect and think. Not having a commute really affects this, and shower time is just not long enough. However, all the flight time is helpful because it gives me time to do this. For example, every year I have difficulty writing this year end blog, because I sit in front of my computer and can’t think of all the changes in the year. However, for this year’s blog, I actually conceived all the ideas and points on the plane (trying to sleep) and then edit it/fleshed it out on the computer. I need to find more cases where I can time shift like this.
(11) Flying has also changed for me. I have status on Air Canada now so I always get to board early. Sometimes I don’t even have to deal with the riff-raff so flying isn’t a hectic experience. There’s also this feeling of luxury in our new home now because there is a lot more space. However, it’s this strange balance between being the same that we always were (still the same clothes, furniture, cars, etc) and suddenly having luxury things in a few target areas. Not sure if this is faux-luxury, or upbringing holding us back.
(12) I’m a single child so my parents are my responsibility. As I get older my parents do too, and every cold or sickness becomes a worry. I know they don’t want to be a burden for me but that doesn’t alleviate the actual burden.
(13) On the flip side is our children. When I look over the pictures of this year, I see that Katana grew a lot. She’s almost 2 now, can romp about, and kind of express what she wants. That also means that she’s on the cusp of being a little kid like her brothers, and losing the baby cuteness. That is an inevitable outcome that I was struggling with all year – that this is going to be the last baby until we’re grandparents.
(14) Jovian is always the younger brother, but he has grown and is a big boy himself. Sometimes I see him and think he is Apollo due to his size. This year, I also became more familiar with his friends & etc, which means he is finally exuding some of himself into the family (instead of just piggy backing on Apollo’s friends).
(15) Strangely though, I don’t feel that Apollo has grown. He definitely has, especially when I look at his class pictures and all those kids are no longer your cute little kids. But in my mind, he’s still a little boy.
(16) Another year worth of gaming under my belt. This year, I continued to play Star Trek Timelines, started Disney Heroes in the summer, and stopped playing Hearthstone as much. Spending a little of money, but not a lot (maybe $100 total). Gaming is not a emphasis but it is ever-present.
(17) Another thing I’ve prided myself on is eating healthy when at home, so that I can eat crappy (fast food, etc) when I’m out (both in the city or traveling). I don’t think this is true anymore, I end up eating lots of junk food at home too.
(18) I found various instances throughout the year where I wished that I would revive my Twitter account. I just had one liners that I wanted to shout out at the world. In the end, I always ended up holding back because I didn’t want those random musing tied to my digital identity. I toyed with the idea of only tweeting hockey stuff, but even then didn’t end up going through with the idea
(19) This year’s Maple Leafs are good. Not promising, but actually good. They should challenge for the Cup in the playoffs (and if they flame out, it will be disappointing). I watched a bunch of games on TV and for some reason, Apollo is really interested in hockey this year too.
(20) This year ended optimistically because of our move. We needed to move, a bit because we were running out of space, and a bit because it was necessary for our plan in the next few years. The plan of when to move wasn’t concrete, but now that it is done, I am glad. The newness (to us) of the place means life is fresh and exciting (rather than being extremely challenging if everything had changed).
Being in a larger, detached house also helps validate the inflection point of 2017. Now it is about the home and family, rather than starting a family – something we’ll continue in 2019.
Spent nights in fewer places this year than the previous ones (only 9). Somehow never ended up going to Dallas for work this year, and didn’t head out to Erie/Grove City for shopping (moving during that time).
- Toronto, ON, Canada
- Las Vegas, NV, USA
- Manhattan, NY, USA
- Seoul, South Korea
- Carlsbad, CA, USA
- Los Angeles, CA, USA
- Ottawa, ON, Canada
- Rochester, NY, USA
- San Francisco, CA, USA
My main impression this year was that there was a distinct lack of interesting new songs. For new music, I continued to listen to the radio but dialed back a lot on KPop. It wasn’t productive for me to keep paying attention to blogs to find out about new KPop. I also took a long break from radio in the middle of the year because the kids started listening to (the same) kid albums over and over. We attained a balance in the last quarter of the year so I had a chance to catch up (not that I missed much, if anything).
Due to this, here is an shorter list for 2018 – I think this list could have been cut before 10:
- New Rules – Dua Lipa
This might have come out at the end of 2017, but it got in my ahead and I bought her self titled album this year. Catchy pop but I can only remember its chorus. I also have a weird mashup version of this that Pentaonix did with an Aaliyah song!
- Solo – Clean Bandit ft Demi Lovato
If I had listened to the radio more in the summer, I think this would have been the song of the summer for me. But, because I didn’t listen to it that much; maybe I think this song is better than it actually is.
- Stay – 태연 (Taeyeon)
Best Taeyeon song of the year. I like the uplifting style and the imagery of the video. Wish she released more ballads this year, but this is a pop song in the vein of Rain so I think it will remain in my rotation for awhile. I think this is the song that I should have been.
- Done For MeCharlie Puth ft Kehlani
Charlie Puth released his new album this year, but first two singles were played in 2017 (Attention and How Long). I was waiting forever for this album since I enjoyed those singles as well as his first album. His second album has a high overall quality, but not many singles after this third one.
- 삐삐 (Bbibbi) – 아이유 (IU)
IU’s songs are always so self reflective, and this is in a similar vein where she addresses her social media haters. That’s just one aspect of her marketing though. She’s really just a typical pop idol, fashioned in a particular way for her fans. This song is catchy, the video is stylistic, the dance is fun; but in a few years it will just be like her other pop hits (see: Good Day, You & I). And more generally, lost in a forest of pop.
- Something New – 태연 (Taeyeon)
Not a fan of this video and I don’t think this song is in a style that will give it a lot of lifetime listening. I think they fit Taeyeon into this song for sales and awards, rather than writing a song to fit her.
- 몰랐니 (Lil’ Touch) – 소녀시대-Oh!GG
I see this song as an attempt for SNSD to stay relevant. 3 more of their group have left (Tiffany, Soo Young, Seohyun) and so this “sub group” is an excuse to release something with the remaining 5 members. I guess you could say the song is an evolution because it’s not bubblegum pop but a little more progressive (reminds me of a jungle). However, the video just feels old – the band members are now pushing 30, which is ancient in the pop world. Their release this year was a single (not even an EP), and they have all had solo albums (except Sunny?). I can’t imagine the group will have another comeback next year.
- 다른사람을 사랑하고 있어 (I’m In Love With Someone Else) – 수지 (Suzy)
I enjoyed Suzy’s previous EP (Yes? No?) and really tried to like her most recent EP. After listening to it several times, this ballad is the only one that stuck.
- Call Out My Name – The Weeknd
The Weeknd released a surprise EP this year, which wasn’t great but paid some fan service if you like his style of music (which I do). Call Out My Name was the single, but I don’t think it was the strongest track on the EP.
- In My Feelings – Drake
This song would be otherwise forgettable if it weren’t for the fact that Jovian loves this song. We end up playing it over and over while he tries to dance to it. He doesn’t care about the dance challenge, he just makes his own moves. Also, for the longest time, I thought this song had “Kiki” in the title…
- Calvin Harris ft Sam Smith – Promises
Last minute entry. Sounds good and…promising after hearing it on the radio.
- I Got You – Bebe Rexha
I actually saw Bebe Rexha perform at an iHeartRadio concert at CES at the start of the year. Prior to that concert, I did some research to see if I would like her music – and I didn’t. This song came back on my radar because I heard a cover of it (forgot by who). I looked up this original and it actually isn’t as good! Oh well, I think this is a decent song even if I never heard it on the radio.
- Lost In Japan – Shawn Mendes (Zedd Remix)
Radio only played the Zedd remix so I had no idea what the original sounds like. The situation posed by this song is a bit ridiculous and watching the video for the first time, it looks like it’s trying to emulate Lost in Translation.
- Calvin Harris ft Dua Lipa – One Kiss
This song benefited from New Rules and caught my attention because Dua Lipa sang on it. I guess it would be popular in the clubs.
- No Tears Left To Cry – Arianna Grande
Never listened to a lot of Arianna Grande, as her songs haven’t piqued my interest. This one did mildly due to the lack of quality songs this year, so I wouldn’t call it an achievement.
- God Is A Woman – Arianna Grande
As I was writing this list, I remembered this song…it’s memorable for 2018 (see above).
It’s kind of telling that this year, my most favorite song might have been released in 2017!
I had to watch Ant-Man and the Wasp because it looks like these characters and their environment will be very important in Avengers: Endgame. Before seeing that trailer, I wasn’t really interested in this movie because I always thought that Ant-Man/Giant-Man/Wasp were dumb heroes (definitely B or C-List). In fact, I totally forgot that there was an Ant-Man movie and this was a sequel!
I thought the casting was interesting – I hadn’t seen Michelle Pfeiffer in any movies for awhile. She’s still quite recognizable (on the other hand Evangeline Lilly hasn’t aged well). The rest of the movie and story are forgettable – for some reason, I found the comedy and comedic set pieces to be pretty lame (maybe they reflect how the Scott Lang character is more lame than other cooler superheroes). I just wanted to learn more about the quantum zone and know all the characters/tech when they appear later.
If not for the Avengers connection, this movie could be a straight-to-video release. Two out of five stars, partly because the movie sucks, partly because the hero sucks.
Will You Be There? is a Korean time paradox movie where an older man travels 30 years into the past to visit his younger self and a regret in his life. As you can expect, there are butterfly effects of his actions that change the outcome, and that leads to subsequent visits in order to shape his present so that he has his desired outcome without changing other things that are important to him.
I enjoy experience this type of concept because there are always things in life that you wish you did better or differently. While we don’t have any mystical way to travel back and retcon out past, it’s therapeutic to imagine. The movie version is a fairy tale and you can just as well create a horror film from the concept. But I believe the director wanted to tell a satisfying story without pushing the boundaries of thought. That leaves this idea as a three out of five film.
I came into this movie thinking that this was the reboot of the Jurassic Park that I had watched when I was a kid. I remember seeing a lot of Jurassic World toys this summer, which I supposed tied-in with this update. So I was surprised when I was watching Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom that this was actually a sequel of another movie. Oops. Nevertheless, I hadn’t seen dinosaurs hunting humans for awhile so this was new to me.
Steven Spielberg is tied to this project, but I was pretty disappointed with the result. The pacing and dialogue was cheesy – not in a way that dumbs it down for little kids watching (why would they want to watching scary dino hunt scenes I’m not sure) but just not well written. Honestly, you’re watching this movie for dinosaurs and not the cast or story. There’s a dino-trainer aspect in this movie, and for a minute I thought I would be watching Rampage again, unfortunately without The Rock, it wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining. Also, I can’t stop wondering why Star Lord is chasing dinosaurs.
With this, I’ve had my dino fix for awhile. I would give this movie two out of five stars.
- Uber Is Headed for a Crash
Some very good reasons why Uber will fail.
But, but, but — you may say — Uber has established a large business in cities over the world. Yes, it’s easy to get a lot of traffic by selling at a discount. Uber is subsidizing ride costs. Across all its businesses, Uber was providing services at only roughly 74 percent of their cost in its last quarter. Uber was selling its services at only roughly 64 percent of their cost in 2017, with a GAAP profit margin of negative 57 percent. As a reference point, in its worst four quarters, Amazon lost $1.4 billion on $2.8 billion in sales, for a negative margin of 50 percent. Amazon reacted by firing over 15 percent of its workers.
- High score, low pay: why the gig economy loves gamification
Along the same vein, here’s a look at a Lyft driver and a discussion at what drives them to drive more.
But one week, after completing what felt like a million rides, I opened my feedback summary to discover that my rating had plummeted from a 4.91 (“Awesome”) to a 4.79 (“OK”), without comment. Stunned, I combed through my ride history trying to recall any unusual interactions or disgruntled passengers. Nothing. What happened? What did I do? I felt sick to my stomach.
Because driver ratings are calculated using your last 100 passenger reviews, one logical solution is to crowd out the old, bad ratings with new, presumably better ratings as fast as humanly possible. And that is exactly what I did.
- Marvel Icon Stan Lee Leaves a Legacy as Complex as His Superheroes
With the death of Stan Lee, the tributes are coming out. Here’s one that is not so flattering of him. I heard Stan Lee talk last year and he was a very entertaining and engaging speaker. I thought that that was a skill that he picked up as he got older (and out of the direct work of creating superheroes). But I guess that has been a talent of his since day 1.
Yet Kirby’s legacy and Lee’s proved to be inextricable. Marvel fans noticed a creative malaise after Kirby defected, a period that coincided with Lee stepping back from Marvel’s creative fare and moving to California to establish what would eventually become, after many fits, starts, and incarnations, Marvel Studios. Kirby fans reading the Fourth World noticed that despite Kirby’s unparalleled visuals and creations, his dialogue and characterization just weren’t up to par with Kirby’s Lee-scripted Marvel work. Kirby ended up returning to Marvel in 1975 for a half-hearted reunion.
- What the Hell Happened to Darius Miles?
I don’t know who Darius Miles is and I don’t know what happened to him. So I thought this article was going to be a self-written essay about how he lost all of his money. But no, it’s a somewhat behind the scenes report of his short career in the NBA and what happened after he left. Oh well, there’s 20 minutes lost
I knew I was speeding. So I pull over, and I roll the window down, and I’m reaching over into the glove compartment to get my papers ….
… Then I hear this voice. Big, booming voice.
“WHERE YOU G’WAN, BOY?”
I’m like, Damn, they got the sergeant on me or something?
I turn to look out the window, and I can’t even see this dude’s face he’s so big. All I see is his chest.
“I SAID WHERE YOU G’WAN BOY?”
Then he bends down and looks in the window.
Big, dumbass grin on his face.
I’m like, “Yo! I’m going to practice! You made me late!”
He don’t miss a beat. He taps side of my truck, turns around and says, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll pay your fine. Just holler at me.”
I’m looking in the rearview mirror, like, How the hell …
Shaq’s got one of those old-school police lights that you put on the hood of your car like you see on C.O.P.S.
He gets in, laughing his ass off, waving at me.
- The Triple Jeopardy of a Chinese Math Prodigy
I’m not sure I should feel sorry for this guy. He tried to rip off the company where he worked at (the article doesn’t propose any alternate rationale for his actions), and the company pursued him relentlessly from using their IP.
Appearing without a lawyer and clutching a plastic bag full of documents, Xu cut a pitiful figure. “The defendant has already been punished once,” he told the judge, undercounting by one. “It is excessive to punish him again.” He disputed whether the trading strategies were really as valuable, years later, as the hedge fund claimed.
While the courts processed the cases against him, Xu was granted bail. He walked out of Harmondsworth Detention Centre this March 16, three years and seven months after he was first incarcerated. His first act as a free man was to order a family bucket from Kentucky Fried Chicken. The same day, Allen & Overy wrote to British immigration authorities asking them to take “all necessary steps” to keep Xu in the country.
After watching Crazy Rich Asians, this felt like the opposite movement in film. Chinese films have been trying to break into Hollywood forever, but this movie felt like a different strategy. Instead of converting or accommodating a movie for Hollywood, The Adventurers is a film that is fluid and presents itself without explanation. The movie is set entirely in France, half of it is in English (all the “local” French people speak English instead of French) and Chinese people inexplicably are woven into the French population (winery owner, insurance agent, etc). The language goes back and forth – which is OK for me to understand, but could be disconcerting for someone who only understands one. Also, as you can expect, everyone has an accent. Andy Lau does ok, maybe he wants to follow Jackie Chan and Chow Yun Fat.
The story centers around a thief, his final heist and redemption in the eyes of his loved one. As with most Cantonese films, it’s not going to win any awards with its script (although has your typical HK humor). You watch this like a Bond film: car chases, gadgets and action sequences. It is pretty engaging until we get to the plot twist where it then makes no sense. The ending explains how it happens, but not the why – which is the big question and confusion for me when the plot twist happened.
Oh well, I enjoyed this HK cinema situated in some random place in the world. Three out of five stars.