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Category Archives: Blogs

  • America Is Overrun With Bathrooms
    An ode to the North American bathroom. Interesting to think about the cultural impact of this because you don’t really realize it is an issue.

    You might think that we have already reached Peak Bathroom. But the super-rich have other ideas. Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported on a Bel Air, California, home that listed for $49.9 million. It featured eight bedrooms—and 20 bathrooms. By any rational assessment, this is a ludicrous use of money, space, and plumbing. But the U.S. housing market is rarely restrained by rationality. Indeed, the share of houses with 10 or more bathrooms has doubled in the past decade. It would seem that the richest 0.01 percent of Americans are spending down their fortunes in an arms race for toilets.

  • This Boy From Mumbai Became the World’s Unlikeliest Crossword King
    Crossword King is hyperbole, but it is true that crosswords are actually deeply rooted in culture and hard for non-Americans to break into (also I never realized Crosswords were so firmly rooted in the US).

    “I would say he is very rare,” Will Shortz, the legendary crossword editor at The New York Times and director of the annual crossword tournament, wrote in an email. Shortz confirmed that, with the exception of American-born expats, and puzzlers who were born elsewhere but raised in the U.S. or Canada, no other non-North American has ever had a puzzle published in the Times.

    “It is difficult for a non-American to make – or even solve – American crosswords, because they’re so full of American culture,” Shortz says. “You would have to understand American life and society and English as Americans speak it in order to master our puzzles.”

  • How Fast Food Reveals Secrets of the Economy
    Economists use food as a measure of how the country is doing? Surprise, surprise.

    In 1980, a New Yorker called Eric Bram noticed that the price of a slice of pizza had matched the cost of a subway ride in the city for nearly 20 years. More recently, commentators have noticed that as the cost of pizza goes up, transit fares often follow. In 2014, data scientist Jared Lander investigated the principle and found that it remains in place. Why is this so? Nobody knows.

  • Doing Western students’ homework is big business in Kenya
    It’s easy to read about the effective of buying essays for students, but have you ever wondered what the business is like for those writing the essays?

    Two years ago, Philemon bought an account for $800 — about 80,000 Kenyan shillings. The account was well-established with more than 200 completed homework assignments and a high rating. The account gives Philemon a better chance at bidding on more expensive, highly rated or more rigorous homework assignments, and allows him to subcontract out the work.

  • How Under Armour Lost Its Edge
    I never connected with the Under Amour brand. Somehow it just didn’t seem cool to me. Now, even knowing that they were technical-focused, it hasn’t change my opinion on them.

    From its early days, Under Armour made its mark as a tech-focused sports apparel company. It didn’t just make clothes for athletes; it made clothes that aimed to improve their performance. Beginning with its first product, a T-shirt that wicked away sweat, Under Armour redefined the category, from its HeatGear and ColdGear fabrics in the late 1990s to, more recently, sleepwear intended to help athletes recover from a big game.


We were deep in LEGO this month. Not sure why as we didn’t receive any lego kits over Christmas. I guess it was a mix of having a lot of time, having sorted the lego blocks so it was easier to make things, and me playing the LEGO Legacy Heroes game. I’ve also gotten a bit bored of the Disney game – I’ve played it for about 18 months so I guess that is the lifetime of these types of games.

We had some winter-esque snowfall through the month. I thought the snow would stay around and cover the ground until fall but we had a couple of days that was near 0°C, so the snow evaporated/melted away. In November, the weather people predicted a cold/snowy winter. In December, they updated their prediction to be a mild one. I don’t know what it ended up actually being.

I didn’t do any work travel this month, so it’s been almost three months! I was supposed to have travel at the beginning of February but that got cancelled due to Coronavirus and other reasons. The plans to travel messed up our Chinese New Year plans as I was supposed to fly out on the second Saturday. We ended up doing our CNY stuff on the last Saturday of January which was small and done with quickly.


  • The Cosmic Crisp apple is not the future
    Following up on my previous post about the new technological advance in apples – an actual food review of the Cosmic Crisp. Now I wonder if I am obsessed enough to actually seek one out at a US grocery store?

    The most curious trait of the Cosmic Crisp is the sound it produces upon taking a bite. It is the platonic ideal of a crunchy apple; Foley artists supposedly record bites of other fruits, like bell peppers and onion, to imitate an apple crunch in film, and indeed, the Cosmic Crisp’s crunch sounds ripped from a sound library.

  • https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/27/arts/american-dream-mall-opening.html
    Another aspiration article about the US, this one talks about the new American Dream mall in New Jersey. It might be a destination on a road trip in the future!

    After 15 years in development, the project’s attractions are finally lighting up one by one, connected by networks of vast, unfilled corridors. In addition to Big Snow, there is a National Hockey League-sized ice rink, a Nickelodeon Universe theme park, and a dusting of retail: a Big Snow ski shop, an IT’SUGAR candy department store and a Whoopi Goldberg-themed pop-up shop selling her collections of ugly holiday sweaters and chic tunics. Teased future reveals include a DreamWorks water park, a Legoland, a Vice-branded “Munchies” food hall, a KidZania play land featuring a full commercial airliner and a field hopping with live rabbits.

  • The Secret Travel Club That’s Been Everywhere
    All those stories about the first explorers to the North Pole or Everest, well they belonged to this club which has a clubhouse in NYC. It sounds like a place that you see in the movies (like Hellboy).

    Its illustrious list of current, historical and honourary members includes Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, who first summited Mt Everest; aviator Charles Lindbergh, who made the first solo transatlantic airplane flight in 1927; Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl who sailed his hand-built balsawood raft, the Kon-Tiki, from Peru to Polynesia; famed pilot Amelia Earhart who disappeared in the Pacific; Apollo astronauts, including Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, the first men on the Moon; record-breaking deep-sea diver Sylvia Earle; British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey, who discovered 15 new species of animal; Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos; Titanic film director and deep-sea explorer James Cameron; and primatologist Dame Jane Goodall, considered the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees. The list is mind-boggling.

  • Why the French Don’t Show Excitement
    Originally I thought this story was from an American viewpoint, but now I see that it is British. I wonder if it is just a jab at both the US and the French at being too excited or too apathetic?

    “I used to judge Americans because I thought they were always too ecstatic, always having disproportionate reactions,” he told me years later, though now, he added, “I feel like I have two worlds in my head, one in French and one in English. I feel like the English world is a lot more fun than the French one.”

  • Uber’s Secret Restaurant Empire
    I’ve thought about this many times, that restaurants should just stop offering sit downs and just focus on pure food delivery. Looks like I’m late because this was already discussed in 2018.

    Brooklyn Burger Factory is located in the kitchen of Gerizim Cafe & Ice Cream, a small establishment on Ralph Avenue. There used to be only a couple of unspectacular burgers on the menu at Gerizim Cafe, and only about one a day sold, according to co-owner Joel Farmer.

    But the data team at Uber Eats perceived a demand for gourmet burgers in the area, and they approached Farmer about the possibility of expanding the selection. Farmer liked the idea; most of the raw ingredients were already on hand. The Brooklyn Burger Factory has been such a success—it’s now selling as many as 75 burgers a day, with revenue 28 times that of Gerizim Cafe—that Farmer is changing the name of the entire operation.


I’ll be honest, the only reason I watched Exit was because I knew about it beforehand. And the only reason I knew about it was that it starred YoonA from Girls Generation. Exit is about a useless Millennial son whose hobby is climbing. Coincidentally, there is a disaster and his skill saves him. His friend from his climbing group also ends up at the same place that he is in when disaster strikes so they get to work together.

This movie is pretty bad. I guess it is either a comedy or a frank look at Korean families and their culture. Either way, there is a lot of cringe worthy moments. Both leads were also bad at portraying their roles. The only thing that saves the movie from being turned off were the climbing scenes. Even though you knew the outcome would be OK, you were still hanging on by your fingertips to see what would happen. I guess this is like the award winning Free Solo except told through a fictional story.

I would skip this one, two out of five stars.


I think The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was a show from the 70s or 80s that I was never familiar with. Nevertheless, it held the most interest to me from the other movies that were available on my flight.

The story is about a US spy who ends up working together with a Russian spy in order to save the world. Naturally, this happened during the cold war (JFK was president) and it was a case of your enemy’s enemy being your friend. Surprisingly, that concept was still fresh. I felt the movie was pretty stylish. It didn’t have any fancy gadgets like Bond. It wasn’t cheesy like Austin Powers. And each culture played up their stereotypes (US superpower was apparently charisma and Russian was brute force). Like the newish Kingsmen series, this movie had its own special style that was entertaining.

Henry Cavil played the US agent, a similar role to what he did in Mission Impossible: Fallout. Except this time he was the shorter guy. Still can’t stop thinking of Superman when I see him. I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel but this movie was released in 2015 so that seems unlikely now. Three out of five stars.


I remember wanting to watch V for Vendetta when it came out, but somehow missed it. This was in 2006, and way before kids, so that couldn’t be an excuse. In any case, the movie’s message is still true and relevant today.

I liked how the the plot is a mix of current day Britain, a nod to 1984, and Shakespearean – I believe the source material was this way already. Even though I liked the movie, it is just an entertaining movie and didn’t really change my world outlook (I guess too much 1984 and Fahrenheit 451). What did surprise me is that Natalie Portman is ageless. She looks the same in this as she does in Vox Lux – 13 year difference! The movie though is only 3 out of 5 stars.


December was full of not-blogging. Usually I put aside some time to write my “end of year” blogs but I didn’t feel very enthusiastic about it this year – I just did the places I stayed (it was easy) and top music (I still care about this) ones. Maybe I will do the year end recap at some point in January.

We also skipped out on a lot of Christmas activities this year because we went down to Nashville over the holidays. In fact, now that I am writing this blog after our trip; I don’t really recall what happened earlier in December.

I do know that we did all of our gift buying and prep in the few weeks beforehand. Most of the gift giving is actually for the kids’ teachers. The kids themselves don’t receive that many gifts anymore. In fact this year, we made them wait until we came back from our trip to open their presents (to their chagrin).

Weather wasn’t too bad after a horrendous November. But again, my memory could be tinted from the t-shirt weather of Nashville!


  1. 사계 (Four Seasons) – 태연 (Taeyeon)
    Usually, the Taeyeon song is at the top of my list because of her singing, but this song is catchy by itself!

  2. Boyfriend – Ariana Grande & Social House
    Not an Ariana Grande fan, but this song is the best duet of the year, with interesting melodies and singing.

  3. Blinding Lights – The Weeknd
    I started watching Stranger Things and this song seems like it should be part of that soundtrack. The Weeknd moves from his Michael Jackson-inspired 80s sound to New Wave-esque electronic. I like it! and I don’t think it’s just because it’s a late entry in the year.

  4. Higher Love – Kygo & Whitney Houston
    I guess how you should think of this song is that it is a remix of an old Whitney Houston song. I’ve never been interested in Kygo’s other music, so it’s really the sample that gets the attention from me.

  5. Memories – Maroon 5
    This year, I really tried to like artists like Lauv and Troye Sivan, and I can just say that I don’t really like their style of music. This song seems to be in the same style but sung by Adam Levine. Maybe I just don’t like the sound of the other artists.

  6. 블루밍 (Blueming) – 아이유 (IU)
    This title track from her EP is much different than all of the other tracks. It is straight up Pop, and feels like a stylistic successor to last year’s single Bbi Bbi (although it won’t be as long lasting). Also, what is a “Blueming”?

  7. 챈슬러 (Angel) – Chancellor ft 태연 (Taeyeon)
    This year, I was a lot less interested in KPop. I guess the phase is over. In any other year, if I found this song, I would say that it is a niceslow jam, but this year I only listened to it because of the feature.

  8. Senorita – Shawn Mendes & Camilla Cabello
    This is probably my kids’ favorite song of the year. It’s not bad of a duet, but is not as great as Ariana Grande’s.

  9. Don’t Start Now – Dua Lipa
    Between this and her Calvin Harris track from a few years back, looks like Dua Lipa’s niche are dance tracks. I’m fine with that. This is a solid hit but nothing that can elevate it to a higher tier.

  10. 춘천가는 기차 (A Train to Chuncheon) – 태연 (Taeyeon)
    New remake of an old song I never heard of, with some electronic tinges. Another notch in Taeyeon’s discography but nothing to get too excited about.

  11. Sucker – Jonas Brothers
    At the beginning of the year, there weren’t a lot of songs so this was the top pick for its catchy hook. But the song is really just the hook and once you’ve heard it enough times, it…sucks.


Here is the annual tradition of where I spent my nights in 2019:

  • Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Las Vegas, NV, USA
  • San Jose, CA, USA
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Orlando, FL, USA
  • Somewhere in the oceans around The Bahamas
  • Nashville, TN, USA

Shortest list since I’ve been keeping track. Mostly due to fewer vacations/road trips and less diversity in work travel.

Here’s the full list: 2006 (10), 2007 (8), 2008 (13), 2009 (10), 2010 (15), 2011 (18), 2012 (8), 2013 (10), 2014 (5), 2015 (14), 2016 (11), 2017 (13), 2018 (9)


We bought a new car! Our old car was bought in 2007, so 12 years ago, and has over 200k KM on it. That’s actually not a lot considering there were many years during its lifetime where we didn’t drive it to work. Anyways, the transmission was dying so it was time for a new one.

It started snowing early in November this year. At least I thought it was early, but the news broadcast reminded me that it actually snowed in October last year. The first snow was just a sprinkling and melted during the day. But the week after that, we had a real storm with 15cm dumped on us. We had to hurry to rake all the leaves before they were covered by the snow! Then there was a week of warmish weather, and we are back to leaves being blown around in the wind with no snow at all on the ground.

I played a lot of Hearthstone with Battlegrounds being released. Actually I played it for about 2 weeks non-stop, then just kinda stopped as there was no more variety. I also started a new LEGO gatcha game, which may take the place of the Disney game I am playing (almost finished collecting everything worthwhile).


  • Meet the Chinatown Matchmaker Whose Memory Puts Your Dating Algorithm to Shame
    The title is hyperbole but the link is an interesting story of how human matchmaking is still alive and well nowadays in America.

    This mother, like many others, is motivated by the fear of wan hun, meaning “late marriage,” or “delayed marriage,” describing people who aren’t married by their early twenties. To avoid wan hun, parents come to Lee, hoping that she can find someone who’s able to meet all their requirements quickly. If too much time passes, they may lower their standards for height, age, or attractiveness of a match, sometimes even settling on the last requirement they’ll give up: wealth.

  • Living Full-Time in a Toyota Tacoma
    Not something I would do, but interesting to hear how you can convert a truck into a home.

    The fridge draws its power from a Goal Zero battery, which runs on three pliable 100-watt solar panels that are attached to the roof. On the left side of the fridge is my propane tank, sitting on its side, which can be turned on and off quickly. I can fill it from this position, too, so it never needs to be fully removed. On the right side of the fridge is the water jug, which is sufficient for about a week or so. This back-seat build took me two long days, with a good bit of help from my dad and friends.

  • Meet the Kim Kardashian of the 1890s
    A historical story (who knows the accuracy) of someone who cashed in on a scandel to fame and fortune.

    It wasn’t just the salacious nature of the entertainment that caused a sensation. The public was dying to know how the smart set partied when they thought no one was looking. As the trial got underway The New York Daily Tribune declared much of the testimony unprintable. The Sun had less scruples, printing full transcripts daily of the most interesting and outrageous testimony. The tale of Seeley’s dinner and Little Egypt’s dance made it far beyond New York with accounts printed in papers across the Unites States and even in Europe.

    Little Egypt was called to testify on the fourth day of the trial. As she entered the courtroom “[t]he degenerates sighed with disappointment,” reported The Sun. “In the place of the beautiful young woman they had conjured up in their minds, there appeared – but it wouldn’t be a proper thing to criticize the lady’s personal appearance; that is, the part of it for which she is not to blame.” The New York Journal estimated that four hundred spectators filled the courtroom to hear her story. She and her maid were the only women in the room. Days earlier two women “who looked old enough to know better,” according to The Sun, had tried to attend and were ultimately pressured to leave.

  • The Global Fertility Crash
    Birth rates are low on average, and Bloomberg asks four different women around the world why their society is not having more kids.

    “The first day back from the trip, I found the company put out a recruitment notice online with the same title and job description as mine. My health was unstable during my pregnancy, so I applied for sick leave. The company agreed, but then the human resources supervisor asked me to submit previous medical records for sick leaves, including those that I already took. I didn’t keep the records, as that was the first time they brought up such demands. Days later they sent an email informing me they would suspend my salary because I failed to provide the required documents.

    “By that time, I was roughly three months pregnant. It was so hard to believe a company that I worked so diligently for would treat me this way, so I filed an arbitration suit seeking compensation for my overtime work since joining the company. Right after that, the company shut me out, suspending my work email and removing me from a work communication group, but they never dismissed me officially. By the time I wanted to quit the job, human resources refused to proceed unless I agreed not to ‘claim any fees or hurt the company’s reputation.’ I refused, so they wouldn’t let me take my belongings and refused to issue a resignation certificate, a required document in China’s job market.

  • The Name Change Dilemma
    A story about the thoughtprocess for whether this writer should change her name or not upon marriage.

    When I call my mom now, I’m surprised to hear her say: “If I had to do it all again, I’d keep my name.” All the women in Tony’s family seem to have changed their names, including his little sister and his little brother’s wife. His best friends are planning their wedding and they have already arranged to switch their dog’s name. He was her dog first, but the pup is going to take his last name when his mother does. Apparently, that’s a thing.

    I respond to my own ambivalence by surveying my friends. The married ones have all kept their own names, except for my friend Kate. Kate is a writer, and she was also my first friend to have kids. Like our original plan, she uses her maiden name in her bylines and her married name in her professional life.

    “Isn’t it confusing to have two identities?” I asked her.

    “No, it’s actually kind of nice,” she said. “It’s almost like an easy way to keep two distinct parts of my life separate.”


Hearthstone announced a new mode of gameplay at Blizzconn this year called Battlegrounds. I’m glad they announced something new, because while dungeon runs are still challenging and good for time killing, it wasn’t novel or interesting – you can only go so crazy in the powerlevel of the treasures.

Battlegrounds is an autochess clone. From a business perspective, it makes sense for Hearthstone to add a mode that is the same as the game that they are losing players too. I’ve tried playing autochess before, but the learning curve investment was just to steep. However, I watched a bunch of people stream Battlegrounds (trying to get an early access drop for it) and it seems pretty straightforward. In fact, I’ve watched so much Battlegrounds that I feel bored with the mode already. I’ll see what happens when the mode is launched live today, maybe it is different when you’re actually playing.


  • ‘Taaaake onnn meee!’ The unkillable, oh-so-profitable afterlife of a-ha’s ’80s classic
    I love this song but I have to admit it is an amazing hook and classic video. But a-ha is also a victim of their own success.

    “What’s more interesting,” Daniel muses, “is the ‘philosophical’ revenue the song has generated. A-ha is still big all over the world. I saw them play an arena in Chile three years ago. If not for that song, they wouldn’t have sold any albums, and there’s no 30 years of touring. That one song has probably generated hundreds of millions of dollars.”

    The winding saga of “Take on Me” illustrates both the randomness of having a hit and the degree to which it requires timing and calculation. “‘Take on Me’ is a proven flop, three times over,” says Harket. “It’s also a proven hit. There’s a lot to learn from that.”

    At the peak of a-ha’s ambivalence toward “Take on Me” (Harket can’t recall precisely when), they stopped playing it live.

  • Masterpiece Theatre
    This is a story about a master forger of famous artists (e.g., Picasso). He’s been caught and has written his own book, so I guess this is an attempt at an unbiased view of his life. It is also an interesting perspective about the value of art and “originals”

    Jansen goes even further: If fakes are as good as the real thing, aren’t they worth celebrating? “When a musician reproduces a sonata of Bach, one applauds him. Me, I reproduce a sonata of Picasso and I am placed under arrest,” he lamented to the CBC in 2008.

  • The Death of Hollywood’s Middle Class
    A look at how the OTT video explosion has affected the people behind the scenes (writers & etc)

    “If I was on a [network show like] Community, I would have been paid as a series regular,” Becker says. “But they didn’t make me a series regular, they made me a recurring guest star and paid me a daily rate. If I’d been number five on an NBC show, I’d be making $30,000 a week, but I was making $980 a week [at Netflix]. By the time you pay out taxes, your manager, agent, and lawyer, I was walking away with like $200.”

  • A history of modern capitalism from the perspective of the straw.
    This article starts off strong linking America’s disposable-first culture with the straw, and explaining how plastic straws came to be. But it kind of tapers off without making a point

    While functionally, paper and plastic straws might have seemed the same, to the keen observer who is the narrator of Nicholson Baker’s dazzling 1988 novel, The Mezzanine, the plastic and paper straw were not interchangeable. Paper did not float. Plastic did: “How could the straw engineers have made so elementary a mistake, designing a straw that weighed less than the sugar-water in which it was intended to stand? Madness!”

    Baker’s narrator wonders why the big fast-food chains like McDonald’s didn’t pressure the straw engineers into fixing this weighting mistake. “[The chains] must have had whole departments dedicated to exacting concessions from Sweetheart and Marcal,” Baker writes.

    But there was a problem: lids, which had come into vogue. Plastic straws could push through the little + slits in the cap. Paper ones could not. The restaurant chains committed fully to plastic straws.

  • Facing unbearable heat, Qatar has begun to air-condition the outdoors
    Trying to air condition the outside sounds stupid, but that’s really what Qatar is trying to do. It’s kind of like putting lights outside at night so you can see where you are going.

    Recently, the luxury French department store Galeries Lafayette opened in a shopping mall that features stylish air-conditioning grates in the broad cobblestone walkways outside. Each of the vents, about 1 by 6 feet, has a decorative design. Many of them hug the outside of buildings, cooling off window shoppers looking at expensive fashions. Though nearly deserted in the heat, by 5 p.m. some people begin to emerge to sit outside places like Cafe Pouchkine.


October saw several events:

  • Apollo’s Birthday – we combined it with Thanksgiving at home this year
  • Election – we did advance voting and beat the rush
  • Started soccer classes – all three kids are going, although 1 hr is a bit long for Katana
  • Samsung Developer conference – I was down in San Jose for a couple of days
  • Hallowe’en – We did some stuff the Saturday before, the day of, and also went to Wonderland earlier in the month

Fall arrived this month. The leaves were a nice variety of colors throughout the month, and our backyard is pretty full of them now (gotta rake next month).

Hockey season started and the Leafs are pretty mediocre. I started playing a gatcha hockey game, but it wasn’t very deep so stopped that as well.


Another Godzilla movie, I thought I had seen the previous ones, but a quick read on Wikipedia indicated I hadn’t. Anyways, no prior knowledge was needed. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters is about big giant monsters fighting (kind of like the Pacific Rim series).

In this one, all of the old Titans are awakened but it turns out their leader is an alien. It is up to Godzilla to fix the problem. Humans are confused, but eventually they realize Godzilla is on their side. For once, the bad guy story is interesting and complex; although ultimately the true villain is Godzilla’s nemesis rather than humans.

Like the previous movie I saw, the ending of this seemed to be setting up for continuation of the series, seemingly King Kong vs Godzilla. Unfortunately only a three out of five stars film.


Kingdom is a movie about historic China, but the strange thing is that it is a Japanese movie. They speak Japanese thoughout the movie, and all the actors are Japanese. I’m used to historical films from China so I was curious what the Japanese take will be like , and also why they would make a movie about Chinese history without mentioning Japan at all.

The story is set in the Qin dynasty, and is about two slave boys who dream of being the greatest general in the world. They spend their time swordfighting after they’ve done their chores, and eventually become quite proficient. A chance encounter causes (only) one of them to enter the royal court, but his death causes the other to go on the journey that this movie is about.

Apparently, the story is from a manga, so a lot of the fighting and rhythm of the action feels like it came out of a comic (e.g., it is not real at all). And I had a real feeling that this movie was a setup for a video game/movie series. Each of the generals and other main characters felt like they were being introduced; and each had a single, unique ultimate move. There are factions, each with different attributes, and a grand quest to set out on. I’ve never read about the “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” series, and I’ll do that later when I have more time; but I can’t help but wonder whether this is the first chapter of that.

There was a distinct non-Chinese flavour about the movie, but it was enjoyable and I want to see more in this style, within the same universe. Four out of five stars.


Last Spider-Man movie in the MCU! Well, we shall see. Far From Home happens after Endgame and it starts off with some reflection on the events (no real spoilers though, I think this movie may have come out before Endgame?). In any case, there are no more Avengers and Spider-man is one of the higher profile heroes left.

But this movie feels like a teenage movie. It follows Peter Parker on a high school trip to Europe. In practice, it is a lot better written and appropriate for adults than Detective Pikachu. I am not even biased towards Spider-Man like I am the X-Men. The first half of the movie was pretty good and fun. In fact, it felt like it was parodying itself. Nick Fury was delivering canned lines and everyone was riffing off that. The circumstances around the school trip was ridiculous. But I thought all of this was in good taste.

It started getting a bit slow after the plot twist but still enjoyable. Strangely, I think the biggest appeal of this movie is the development of the characters and relationships; the action is just eye candy. Also, I felt it was a bit forced to visit so many European cities. But nonetheless I think this was a quality movie, four out of five stars.


Living in Canada, I think we’re pretty lucky to take Air Canada. Recently I had to fly on United metal and the experience is not great.

First, I was a bit confused by how their inflight entertainment system worked. They have a partnership with DIRECTV and everything was organized into channels rather than a VOD service. If you missed the start of a movie, well it’s like catching a movie playing on TV. Not having the control to watch when you want seems backwards in this day and age.

The flight attendants also seem different. They say the same courtesy words but there’s a hint of haughty attitude. AC agents are not all great, but they seem to be more laid back.

AC also spends money in a better way in their lounge. I don’t drink but I notice the magazines. AC has a wide selection of Canadian magazines that you can take with you. The United lounge only has copies of their own magazine.

Also, the AC Signature Lounge dining service at YYZ is amazing. I’ve never been to a Polaris lounge but the Signature Lounge seems without peer at least in North America.


I don’t have a strong desire to see Detective Pikachu but I thought it would be interesting to leverage all the knowledge I learned from my kids in understanding this movie. Even from the previews, it was amazing to see Pokemon in the real world! Also, unlike Dark Phoenix, the CG was done well and made it feel like the Pokemon belonged in the world (maybe we’re just used to what they look like).

Much like Zootopia, the best thing about this movie is how they created the world. I like the idea where all the animals have been replaced by pokemon (although the balance is wrong as you don’t see that many animals in the city normally). And this idea isn’t a stretch because we live in the world of Pokemon Go where pokemon coexist in the world as long as you look through a screen.

The story itself is not that great. I had a little bit of struggle trying to decide whether the film is for kids, or adults who were kids when pokemon came out. I guess the right audience is a young teen. I hope this movie spawns a series where we can explore the world more, but hope that future movies are written for older audiences. Four out of five stars due to establishing the world and the promise of seeing more pokemon in movies


Well it’s been a long time since MIB was in theaters. I guess they brought it back for the retro crowd. The original was an action comedy with Will Smith’s banter and Tommy Lee Jones being the straight man. MIB International doesn’t fall very far from the original. It has the same setup but updated to the new century – Tessa Thompson plays the straight woman to Chris Hemsworth. Side note: I can’t picture him as anyone but Thor, so it felt like Thor joined the MIB.

The same futuristic view of the world and aliens blending in is still there. Kind of how all Star Wars movies feel like the same movie with different characters and setup, this is how this movie felt like. Not a terrible thing since I haven’t seen MIB in many, many years. A fun three out of five movie.


The school year started early this year, with Labour day on the 2nd of September. The school routine is actually easier this year as all three kids are at the same school, but it was still something that I had to get used to because the timing is different now (as Katana is in daycare and not actual school).

We have a good routine now, and I tried avoid travel this month to prevent further complications. It didn’t work out as I had a last minute trip to the Bay area at the end of the month. It was a short trip though, so served as practice/trial for the drop off routine when I am away.

Extracurriculars eventually started this month. This year, we tried to put them in more year-long programs so we didn’t have to change schedules every term.

Hockey also came back (preseasons at least). To celebrate, I started playing some more hockey-based video games.


This movie was supposed to be a clunker based on reviews, but I didn’t think Dark Phoenix was that bad. The film delivered a lot of fan service where you got to see a lot of the characters do their trademark talents. And really, that’s all I expected out of this movie. I saw past all the stuff that doesn’t make sense, like how they can run around in space (and I think they were self aware, including a scene where they duct tape a helmet on). There was also a lot of CG which could’ve been a reason why reviewers disliked it. Hard to film a phoenix in real life though.

I did have a little problem because I saw the films out of order. When Jean and the team appeared for the first time, I thought back to my recent viewings and didn’t remember how they got together. They definitely were not the First Class. Jean was also familiar (not Famke Janssen) and I guess I remember from her cameo in Days of Future Past or Age of Apocalypse.

The story was a little different from the Dark Phoenix origin that I remembered so that was a little fresh. But I think my X-Men bias pushes this to a three star out of five.


  • What Ever Happened To Waterbeds?
    I’m old enough to know about them, but not old enough to have owned one. Maybe I tried one in a store at some point. But now, I know why they aren’t popular anymore.

    Here’s the thing about waterbeds, though: They were high maintenance. Installing one meant running a hose into your bedroom and filling the mattress up with hundreds of gallons of H2O—a precarious process that held the potential for a water-soaked bedroom. Waterbeds were also really, really heavy. In addition to the filled mattress, the frame—which had to support all that water weight—could be a back-breaker. When the mattress needed to be drained, an electric pump or some other nifty siphoning tricks were required. Waterbeds could also spring leaks (as Edward Scissorhands showed), which could be patched but, again, added to the cost and hassle.

  • The married couples in Hong Kong who live apart
    Housing is so expensive in HK that married couples often live separately, with their parents. Apparently 1 in 10 couples are in this situation!

    Lok, 31, lives with her parents in North Point, in Hong Kong Island’s Eastern District. It is more than an hour away from the island of Tsing Yi, where 35-year-old Chau lives with his parents. Their three-year-old daughter, Yu, spends Monday to Thursday with Lok and the weekend at Chau’s. They can’t move in together in one of their family homes, Lok says, because the bedroom space is simply too small for two adults and a child.

  • Physics Explains Why Time Passes Faster As You Age
    It’s not just psychological, time actually does past faster when you’re older.

    time as we experience it represents perceived changes in mental stimuli. It’s related to what we see. As physical mental-image processing time and the rapidity of images we take in changes, so does our perception of time. And in some sense, each of us has our own “mind time” unrelated to the passing of hours, days, and years on clocks and calendars, which is affected by the amount of rest we get and other factors.

  • Here Comes the Bride. And the Bride. And the Bride. Mass Weddings Boom in Lebanon.
    The western world is focused on individualism and nothing more so then a wedding. It’s about THE couple. But in other cultures, it’s beneficial to “the state” as well as the participants to have group weddings.

    Ali Ala’ideen, a groom whose hair was slicked back like Elvis’s, said that he and his new wife could not afford a honeymoon, but that he was grateful to be married.

    “If it wasn’t a group wedding,” he said, “we wouldn’t have been able.”

  • How I Learned to Cycle Like a Dutchman
    The story of how cycling works in the Netherlands. When bikes rule the road, things are different.

    For cyclists used to being second-class citizens, watching bikes navigate the Netherlands is revelatory. It’s not just that Dutch train stations all house massive underground bicycle garages, with thousands of bicycles, or fietsen, locked up on tiered racks. It’s not just that every busy street has a handsome bike lane, paved in dark-red brick. It’s that on Dutch streets, bikes rule the road. They take priority in design and traffic flow. Traffic circles are laid out so that cyclists need never stop for cars. Busy intersections often have overpasses or underpasses, so that cyclists never have to slow down.

    Most important, drivers look out for cyclists, cede the right of way, and are rarely surprised by them. After all, nearly all those drivers are cyclists themselves.


  • Why did we wait so long for the bicycle?
    Interesting discussion of some factors that may have delayed the invention of a bicycle

    Horses were a common and accepted mode of transportation at the time. They could deal with all kinds of roads. They could carry heavy loads. Who then needs a bicycle? In this connection, it has been claimed that the bicycle was invented in response to food shortages due to the “Year without a Summer”, an 1816 weather event caused by the volcanic explosion of Mt. Tambora the year earlier, which darkened skies and lowered temperatures in many parts of the world. The agricultural crisis caused horses as well as people to starve, which led to some horses being slaughtered for food, and made the remaining ones more expensive to feed. This could have motivated the search for alternatives.

  • How a Single Pair of Sneakers Explains the Booming Billion-Dollar Sneaker Resale Industry
    I used to go to sports card stores and look at their displays of valuable cards to see what I couldn’t afford and what my collection could potentially be worth. I guess the new generation looks at sneakers instead.

    The inspection merely starts with the smell test. Zac rotates the shoebox and inspects it for the smallest details. If the shoes are tightly crammed in the box, they’re likely fake; if Nike’s trademark orange is lighter than usual, they’re likely fake; if the zeroes listing out the shoe’s code look wonky, they’re likely fake; if the wrong text in the shoe’s description is bolded, they’re likely fake; if the wrapping paper inside the box rips too easily, they’re likely fake. From there, Zac goes further down the rabbit hole, to the shoes themselves, which take inspiration from the classic Air Jordan 3: the craggy “Elephant”-printed pattern should actually cut into the grey leather, the perforations on the white toebox should all line up to form a series of increasingly smaller “U” shapes, the eyelets should be spaced evenly. Zac has touched so many shoes he knows what the leather should feel like, and while the tongue on this Dunk is yellowing, it’s a natural yellow, not “like a piss-yellow,” he says, which would suggest fraud.

  • Why Are There Palm Trees in Los Angeles?
    I’m sure you identify LA with palm trees just like I do, but they are not native to the state! It was a conscious move to line the LA streets with them, and there’s a lot more interesting stuff about palm tree in general.

    One way is that they’re outrageously easy to move around: they don’t have elaborate root systems like oak trees, but instead a dense yet small root ball. This can be pretty easily dug up and transported, then planted, and palms are not particular about where they are, as long as they have sun and water. To make things easier for developers, palms, being more like grasses than trees, don’t demonstrate all that much difference between individuals; one Mexican fan palm is pretty much like the next. And if you’re a developer, consistency and ease of transportation is a fantastic combination: you can line the streets with them, or plant one on each side of an entrance!

  • Ninja-Proof Seats
    Psychology Today has a lot of interesting articles that explain new concepts or classifications. The only problem is that each really only require a paragraph so the remainder of the article or issue is fluff or ads. This article introduces the concept of prospect and refuge when it comes to picking a seat.

    The term “ninja-proof seat” may be used primarily by those fluent in Python and JavaScript, but you will find people who are adamant about their need for one in any office you go to. This is because they provide what geographer Jay Appleton called refuge and prospect.

  • 9 questions about the Hong Kong protests you were too embarrassed to ask
    A couple of insights about the background of the current HK protests

    It’s also important to note that a key date is coming up: October 1, 2019, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It’s a bad look to crush a popular movement if you’re trying to celebrate the greatness of your country.

    On the other hand, it doesn’t look good to have an entire city spending weeks leading up to your anniversary challenging your authority and risking their safety for democracy. Some analysts and protesters think China might want to go ahead and intervene before the October 1 date; others think China may show restraint as the world watches.


While back to school sales started in July, we didn’t really do much until August. The kids have most of what they need already, they don’t need new clothes and we have a ton of stationary supplies. We ended up just buying them some new backpacks and lunchboxes.

The weather in August let up a bit, there was a week and a bit where it wasn’t too hot and we could actually spend time outdoors. Lots of summer thunderstorms though. By the end of the month, it was TOO cold. We could no longer wear shorts everyday and could have needed a jacket in the morning. Boy that switched quickly.

I played a bit more Hearthstone this month as there was a new expansion, and I started winding back some of my Disney Heroes playing – I’ve been playing a year and it’s starting to lose the novelty (just endless levelling again). Instead of looking for new mobile games, I am trying out DS emulation. Tired of micropayments and the game design that funds it.