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I watched Mad Max because I remembered that Charlize Theron was supposed to play a villainess in this film. However, after watching the movie, I think I might have gotten a little confused between her movies. She is bad in the sense that she is a rebel against the established leader but she is actually one of the protagonists of the movie.

Her goal is to try and free a couple of “breeders” (woman slaves) from the grasp of the same evil leader. He is joined, by who I assume is Mad Max. I’ve never consumed any other media about Mad Max so I’m not sure of any of his (or the universe’s) backstory. However, it all seems crazy and non-sensical. Like, how do the people survive if there is no or so little water? What do they eat? How are they so impulsive and carefree about death (especially the leaders)? I suppose the universe is a caricature but this feels off now that there have been so many comic book movies that are grounded in reality.

Overall, I didn’t enjoy my introduction to the Mad Max universe, I didn’t get it and it just wasn’t an interesting universe to watch. Sure if you like car crashes, explosions, and scantily-clad woman in the desert/mud, there might be some appeal, but for me this is a 2 out of 5 star movie.


In terms of TCG/CCGs, I’m a Johnny-type. So I play Hearthstone for two reasons:

  1. To finish quests, get gold, and collect the cards
  2. Johnny-mode – to win in weird circumstances

That’s why for me, I like playing the Heroic mode and the Dungeon mode. However, one thing that is holding me back is that it takes a long time to play Heroic (lots of deck tweaking).

It would be great if the Hearthstone single player modes can be played offline. I’m happy to spend my time on a plane clicking and playing by myself. But it’s too bad that it still requires a network connection to play (I understand why they would want a network connection…)


I’m about four months too late (The Witchwood is about to be released), but I’m nearing the completion of the “single player mode” for Kobolds and Catacombs. Unlike past adventures and expansions, you don’t have to play any heroic bosses, but rather there is a unique single player mode in KnC. In this mode, you have a rogue-like experience where you start with a few cards in your deck, then build up your deck as you beat the bosses. You also get special treasures until finally you face off on boss #8. The goal is to beat the (random) bosses with all 9 classes.

I’m not there yet, but I only have 2 more classes left (Druid & Priest, although not tackling them in any specific order). I enjoy this mode and actually played a lot of it when this expansion came out. It took awhile before I mastered the mechanic and started clearing the classes, and there is still no perfect/repeatable solution (hence no blogs on each individual class). There’s a lot of RNG involved in getting the right treasures to build a deck that has OP combos – and then some more RNG to pull it off against the final boss.

Overall though, I find it much more fun than fighting heroic bosses. One reason is because the challenge is in piloting the deck, not in creating the deck. There’s a lot of back and forth that you have to do to tweak a deck to fight the heroic bosses and that takes away from gameplay. With this dungeon mode, you just keep making choices and playing!


The Last Jedi seemed to pick up immediately where The Force Awakens ends, although my memory is a bit hazy since Rogue One happened in the middle of the two movies. David is still running from the Goliath and Luke Skywalker has some part to play in the whole thing. While I felt a need to watch this movie, I guess I wasn’t excited about knowing more about the universe. Thinking back, this was probably my feeling when I watched the prequel movies (guess who’s not a Star Wars nut).

The one thing I was interested in seeing resolved in this movie was how they would write Carrie Fisher out, or what parts did they use CG to film/post-process after she died. I never found out the answer to that question. What I did realize though, was that these Star Wars movie are the opposite of Pixar movies – I felt like an adult watching a kid movie. There were so many scenes where I felt I was being bludgeoned by plot explanations (Dameron learned his lesson). I can only explain it as being a movie being targeted towards young adults, as I thought the movie industry was moving to plots that required the audience to make inferences.

The one thing that I liked about this movie is that it seemed to move away from the light vs dark cliche, and the formulaic good vs bad story arch that seemed to govern the entire series. The loose ends weren’t tied up when the movie finished (there is still one more movie of course), but I do wonder if it’s going to return to light vs dark or end up a different way.

The Last Jedi had all the visual cues of a Star Wars movie (weird aliens and worlds), but it just wasn’t inspiring. It wasn’t bad though so I can’t give it less than a 3 out of 5 stars.


The sequel to Blade Runner is my most anticipated movie in the last few years. I even gave up the chance to watch it on several flights because I wouldn’t finish it in one sitting (it’s almost 3 hours long). I was looking forward to this sequel because of oh so many reasons: 1) I enjoyed the original book by Philip K. Dick, 2) The original movie evoked a technological future and imagery that was appealing, 3) Denis Villeneuve was directing and his work on The Arrival was top notch, and 4) The teaser trailer was tingling and portended good things for the full film.

So with those high expectations, I watched the movie and I think it rated 4 out of 5. However, I don’t think it lived up to my hype. I gave it a 4 because my general criteria is that if the movie is interesting enough to be thought provoking, it deserves a 4. BL2049 is one of those movies that I can imagine English class dissecting in the future. The idea of ‘What is life/sentience?’ is a theme throughout. We already know about the human and replicant divide, but now there are also holograms/AI.

However, it was also disappointing because the mood was too overwhelming. I think the story could be told in 2 hours, except Villeneuve went a little overboard in establishing the tone of the world with minimal dialogue. The story itself is moderately interesting with a little twist but the pacing is too slow.

Finally, watching this movie ended up being depressing. Instead of evoking and inspiring a technological future, it suggested that the future is bleak and dystopian, even in LA proper (I guess all the good stuff is in the outer colonies). Las Vegas is completely bombed out as well. Maybe that was the goal but if so, it just doesn’t leave a good feeling – and in fact the future world of Ghost in the Shell felt more interesting (even if the movie sucked). So an unhappy 4 out of 5 here.


This was a hectic month as my travel schedule for March (and April) kept changing. In the end, I did 2 work trips (NYC for 2 days, and MV for 2 days) with March Break in the middle. Aside from that, the weekends were also not routine since the beginning of the month saw the end to the previous season’s classes, then there were a couple of weekends around March break that were empty, and the end of the month saw next season’s programmes start.

The weather was in between Winter and Spring. Warmed up, but not warm enough for Spring. I thought we would have another snow storm this year, but maybe that’ll happen in April (or May). The Daylight Saving Time change passed by smoothly since it happened right before March Break and there was a schedule change anyways. Apollo was in camp that week, but had a later start than his usual school.

Easter happened early this year, at the end of the month. Also finished up my taxes this month. Lots of little things happened but nothing seems to have left an impression.


Growing up, I enjoyed reading more about the Justice League of America than the Avengers, even though I liked the Marvel universe more. But with movies, the quality and quantity is so skewed towards the Avengers, that it is hard to put together a coherent feeling about Justice League. I approached the first JLA film with some trepidation since I don’t know if it was going to be great like WW, or OK like Batman v Superman, or just disinterested like the Superman movies. What spurred me to watch it was that it was a short film (although I still had to split it across two flights).

I haven’t watched any of the DC TV series so I don’t know if characters like the Flash translated through, or whether it is a new backstory. Being the first film, there had to be some time devoted to creating the characters and the team. I am fine how that happened, and like Spider-man in Captain America: Civil War, it’s actually a good teaser for their solo films. But once the team was together, their nemesis and mission seemed lame. Steppenwolf is at most a B-list villain and his character, minions and plan seemed cartoon-y. I guess they didn’t have the time to put together a stronger villain or nefarious scheme.

Justice League is a 3 out of 5 movie. There are some good things about the DC movie empire but there’s also a lot of boring stuff. This movie didn’t stink and I would be interested in seeing what the JLA tackles next (a real bad guy please).


The one thing that caught my attention with Star Trek Discovery, even from the first episode, were the credits at the start of the show. Instead of showing the universe or the ship, the credits rely on an artistic rendering. There’s also various shots of scientific models and diagrams. In a way, this is what a James Bond title credits might look like if James Bond was all about scientific discovery. I like this a lot, and it is also a stark contrast to the universe, ship, and feeling of the series.


Last time on my blog, I talked about how I felt about the other Trek series, and wondered how Star Trek Discovery compares to them.

It is difficult to compare, but as with all things I think there needs to be a frame of reference. TV has changed a lot since Enterprise (what was that, 10-15 years ago?). While I don’t follow other shows, from casual reading it sounds like current shows have much better story writing, production quality and overall drama. I haven’t watched Game of Thrones, and have only heard about the sex and death in the show. But I guess that Discovery is a lot like Star Trek of Thrones.

While there are still scifi/tech elements, and everyone is wearing a uniform. There’s a lot more death. Also I feel the camera angles are a lot more intimate (vs TNG where you see the characters in the scene, as well as a large portion of the room/starship). Discovery needs to be this way to survive, but it’s not the Trek that I grew up with.

There are also a lot of dramatic swells in the plot. Sure, all Trek episodes have moments of conflict where the protaganists have to do something heroic. But on Discovery, it seems like every episode is the climatic scene at the end of a movie. While it’s exciting now, I think it’s too much too often and sets up an expectation that they can’t possible keep up with.


February is usually the coldest month of the winter, and this year I thought it would be especially bad – the weather folks have been saying that this winter would be a tough one. Remember, winter started early and strong so it seemed like February would be extra rough.

Of course, it turned out February was pretty mild. Even the groundhog was fooled. About halfway through the month, the temperatures decided they had enough and fluttered around 0°C. It got even warmer towards the end of the month with highs in the teens (that’s the positive teens). I suspect that winter’s not done. We’ll probably get a snowstorm in April or May.

Chinese New Year synced up with Family Day this year so that was a weekend of busy-ness. It was actually like a mini-Christmas with all the family gatherings. We also did a lot of activities during that weekend to celebrate both Family Day and the New Year (Joyride, CNY at ROM, and Auto Show). CNY actually lasted 3 weeks with events the week before Family Day and some school stuff the week after. Earlier in the month, I had an almost-day trip to NYC for work. Aside from that, the month went by pretty quickly without any major events.


I’ve been doing a slow watch of the newest Star Trek series. I’ve actually been pretty exposed to the series because of the game that I play, there are a lot of product/character tie-ins to the series. However, since I don’t have a regular TV diet, I’ve been saving the episodes for plane rides (when there’s no inflight entertainment).

The first couple of episodes I watched were great. It is definitely not the same Trek as TNG, DS9, VOY or even ENT. I watched every episode of Enterprise, even though I don’t remember much from it anymore. I was lukewarm on it – I didn’t like the characters that much and the story arcs seemed a bit silly (temporal war, Xindi, etc). I also watched a lot (maybe all) of Voyager and DS9. Voyager seems to get a lot of bad reviews on the internet, but I actually have the opposite opinion of the masses. I felt like the episodes were faithful to the style of TNG and that the crew complement was decent (although not as interesting as TNG). I didn’t like the addition of 7of9 onto the show, but apparently many thought the story was a lot better after she came on board. DS9 I actually didn’t like as much, and I never really got into it until the Dominion war was in full swing. Upon reflection, it sounds like DS9 is a deep series that would be much better on a repeat watching. Finally TNG is the benchmark that I measure other Treks, so in order for me to like Discovery, it has to measure up in some ways to TNG.

But does it? To be continued…


Thor: Ragnarok is actually the first Thor movie I’ve seen. The earlier ones told his story so it doesn’t seem necessary to watch (not that I was avoiding them, I just never had a chance to see them), but the most recent one seemed to be necessary in the tune-up to the Infinity Gauntlet.

I was pleasantly surprised at the film. It’s written in a similar style as Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – where the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously and cracks jokes throughout the dialog. But while GG2 jokes seemed to be forced, the ones in this movie didn’t seem like they were. Maybe it’s because the lines were delivered with an Asgardian accent. Similarly, the serious, character development scenes seemed to be more believable.

I quite enjoyed this movie and it wasn’t simply because I went in with no expectations; now was it because of the comedy. It just felt like it was written and acted really well. The portrays of the supporting characters were top notch, Cate Blanchett as Hela, Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster, even Korg of the Warbound. It knew it was a fun Blockbuster but worked within it to surprise the viewer. Between this and Wonder Woman, that’s two recent super hero films that have been great. Thor gets 4 out of 5 stars.


January passed quickly…on this blog. I actually did some work travel this month but it was on a Rouge flight (to Vegas for CES) so there were no movies/inflight entertainment.

January was a juxtaposition in terms of the weather. Half the time it was deep winter (snow and -10°C), and then the other half was mild and almost spring weather. All the snow melted away and I saw people riding their bikes. We had a respite from the winter coughing and colds over the Christmas break, but by the middle of the month, they had returned (guess it took a week to incubate after returning to school).

Katana is standing by herself now and can walk with a walker. She’s on the cusp of walking by herself. This month I spent some time watching Star Trek Discovery, and playing Hearthstone Dungeon runs. Otherwise it was a quiet and normal month.


  • The Myth of Drug Expiration Dates
    We throw out a lot of medicine and it always feels like a waste. Not sure this article is conclusive though, even if the government is doing it (not throwing stuff out)

    Gerona and Cantrell, a pharmacist and toxicologist, knew that the term “expiration date” was a misnomer. The dates on drug labels are simply the point up to which the Food and Drug Administration and pharmaceutical companies guarantee their effectiveness, typically at two or three years. But the dates don’t necessarily mean they’re ineffective immediately after they “expire” — just that there’s no incentive for drugmakers to study whether they could still be usable.

  • Inside the All-Consuming World of Paw Patrol
    Wow, Paw Patrol has hit the big time! I’m blogging about it. I thought this article would be more in depth about the business around it, but it does have some interesting information.

    In 2013, designers at Spin Master came up with a few prototype toys—one of them was a house that could transform into a truck—and took them to various preschool-TV-show creators. It was Bob the Builder’s Keith Chapman who came up with the concept for Paw Patrol. The development of original characters is much more lucrative than the licensing of other companies’ ideas. After Chapman conceived of the Paw Patrol franchise, Spin Master tapped Toronto animators at Guru Studio to produce it. By August 2013, it was on TVO in Canada and Nickelodeon in the US. I asked Ronnen Harary, Spin Master co-founder and co-CEO, which came first when they were conceiving new episodes: merchandise or storylines. He said, “Producing toys for kids is an art form, and writing and animating TV shows for kids is an art form. We’ve been able to mix those two forms together. It’s a very difficult thing to do because they’re different disciplines, but by mixing them together, you can have a potentially richer TV show.”

  • Parking for Gold
    This article reminds me of another farcical article I had read recently (although I guess it wasn’t in my pocket queue) about the Microsoft Office olympics. But this one is for valets. Because I’m less skilled a valet-ing, I don’t connect with it as much (or get all of the inside jokes); but it doesn’t make it sound less crazy.

    Next up was Precision Parking, the photogenic centerpiece of the games. Valets must sprint to a car—in this case, a black Toyota Camry—leap inside, and roar out of the parking spot. There is no speed limit. Athletes then weave through 10 orange cones, park the car, put it in reverse, and do the whole thing all over again, backwards. Before the event began, there was a small controversy: Most valets had practiced on six cones, they said, not 10. Some walked the course in open disbelief, as if faced with driving the Nürburgring.

  • Deliverance From 27,000 Feet
    Another article about dying on Mount Everest. No matter how many stories I read, I’m still amazed at the people who attempt such a feat.

    “I cannot stop thinking about the money spent to retrieve his body,” Debasish Ghosh said. “If we had spent the money earlier, if we had helped Goutam when he was alive, so that he could find a better agency, or buy more oxygen or make better preparations, could he have survived? Would he be home now, alive? Did we contribute to his death because we didn’t help him until now?”

  • The Last of the Iron Lungs
    Interesting short article about Iron Lungs, which were mostly used to help Polio victims in the 1950s. There’s still 3 in operation in the US but no company still supports them.

    Some polio survivors were only partially impaired or got better. For instance, Mia Farrow only had to spend eight months in an iron lung when she was nine, before going on to become a famous actress and polio advocate. And golfer Jack Nicklaus had symptoms for two weeks as a child, but as an adult only had sore joints.

    But many polio victims have breathing difficulties for the rest of their lives, or have issues later in life when overworked neurons burn out, a condition called post-polio syndrome. “I breathe 20 percent of what you breathe with every breath,” Lillard explained to me. “You still have the neurons that work the muscles that you breathe with.”


They warned that this winter would be snowy and they weren’t lying. The last few years we haven’t had a White Christmas, but there was a lot of snow dumped on us this December. We had a couple of snowstorms that promised 5-10cm and 15-20cm, but we saw about 5cm each time. Still, they happened during morning rush hour so it was messy. There was a couple of warm days between them so all the snow melted, but I think we’re going to have snow on the ground for the rest of the winter now. The temperatures are also quite low, reaching -10°C in the day time on several days. All in all, it feels like the middle of February instead of December.

We did our Christmas shopping in December this year, but we didn’t go into the malls at all. A lot of Amazon and other online shopping, as well as Toys R Us for the kids. It wasn’t too hectic in fact, which is great. The kids still ended up with a lot of gifts from various family and friends so I need to shift around the toys (donate some old ones). I didn’t do any Boxing Day shopping. There’s nothing I need to buy and even the clothes stores that I usually buy (online) from (e.g., BR/Gap/Old Navy, A&F, etc) I had scoped out during the Christmas shopping time frame and there wasn’t anything I wanted.

I haven’t travelled in awhile (for work). The last time was in the beginning of November, so it was pretty calm this month. The usual Christmas dinners happened as well as the end of year recaps and clean ups. Here’s to another 12 months of recap blogs in 2018!


This year saw the birth of our third child, a girl named Katana. She arrived in March and has grown past most of the trying and smelly baby stuff. Now she’s crawling and can kind of defend herself and/or steal toys from her brothers. Her looks and development are similar to when Apollo was a baby but in a more girly way (might be the clothes).

The boys play with her sometimes, but they are mostly occupied with themselves as they are now best friends. They play and fight together all the time while we tend to the baby or do other household things. In the beginning of the year, it was all about Paw Patrol (carry over from the year before), but now Apollo has moved on to Pokémon while Jovian loves playing with cars (both Lightning McQueen and the general variety).

With three kids now, we are probably done family building (never say never…). Our house is packed with miscellaneous stuff that a family with kids will have (like toys, random outdoor/sports equipment, etc) and there is a never ending process of churn as the kids grow out of items (clothes, toys) that need to be donated/thrown out, and new stuff comes in (either through gifts or purchases). We can manage for another year or two at our current place without any major changes.

We had one big trip with all 3 kids this year (to Japan) and a bunch of short trips. We managed to travel light on these trips, even though there are always a bunch of items that we have to bring (baby carrier, snacks, emergency diapers, etc). Most of our trips involved museums or theme parks and vacation planning now involves finding activities for the kids, and then slotting in places to eat around that. It’s an evolution of how we travel, and I don’t mind it that much as it keeps everyone happy.

This year I played 3 different games. On mobile, I continued to play Star Trek Timelines and while it is starting to get a little boring, I don’t see myself stopping soon (also I spent about $100 in IAP on it across the year). On desktop, I still play Hearthstone. However, I’m straining under the expansion release schedule (3x a year), and so I’ve dialed back on trying to collect cards in it. In the first half of the year, I also played Heroes of the Storm frequently (a couple of times a week). But then I went on vacation and didn’t keep up with the new heroes release/changes in game play so I just dropped it.

Like Twitter in previous years, I noticed that I spent less time reading social feeds this year. This year’s casualty was Facebook. I used to check it several times a day but now I might even go through a day without opening the app. I think a big reason for this is because the News Feed has too much stuff that I don’t care about (maybe an acquaintance liked something and it showed up on my feed). Toward the end of the year, I am feeling the same thing about Instagram (especially because they inserted a big recommended photos/videos section into the feed).

I had similar amounts of work travel this year as last year, except for a big break between Feb – Jun where I hardly did any traveling due to Katana’s birth. A change this year was that I consolidated my flights and loyalty plans and used Air Canada as much as possible (previously I flew whatever was available and collected United points). Even though I missed a couple of Korea trips, I made it to Altitude 35k for the first time, so next year I will have status with Air Canada! One of the reasons for work travel was to go to a bunch of conferences. I attended 4 this year, including CES and Google I/O (first time at both). I also went to the Samsung Developer Conference (first time) and FITC (which was local in Toronto).

I don’t think I did any development this year at work, although I still did technical stuff (product-related work, management and a little housekeeping here and there). My career is also in a transition stage as this is the second year where I have been mostly removed from writing code. This year I spent time on other disciplines like design and strategy, but I guess I need to decide which direction I should go for the next rung of the career ladder soon.

Our “old” friends (e.g., pre-kid friends) have started to collect enough kids now that we are finally having kid-based gatherings. That’s good news for us since we have common topics and can hang out with them again (instead of passing on clubbing or karaoke). Still waiting and wondering on a couple of friends as to whether they will have kids now.

Every year when I write my yearly recap, I have difficulty weaving the thoughts and points into a story. Is the recap supposed to itemize the major things that happen this year? Or is it more about the mindset? The way I look at it is if I come back in 10 years and read the recap, will I have a good sense of how I was feeling in this year? That’s difficult to capture because who knows what ends up being important.

I’ve given this some thought over the last month, and I suspect that what will be important is that 2017 will be seen as an inflection point year. If we backtrack 5 years or so, I knew we were about to have kids so there was a plan on how that would work out (budgeting etc). Now we have 3 kids and, especially because the older two are school age, I believe that my life will be changing so that it is more routine (on a macro level, on a micro level it will probably be chaotic) and household oriented. So while 2016 felt like a waffling continuation of the previous stage of my life, I think 2017 is the end and 2018 will be the start of a different way of living. Interestingly enough, what this was an independent thought, it reminded me of my previous blog about age milestones. So we shall see what the next group of years will be like.


Another year, another bunch of trips:

  • Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Las Vegas, NV, USA
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Dallas, TX, USA
  • Sunnyvale, CA, USA
  • Boston, MA, USA
  • Rochester, NY, USA
  • Manhattan, NY, USA
  • Osaka, Japan
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • San Francisco, CA, USA
  • Erie, PA, USA
  • Grove City, PA, USA

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),


This year I started getting tired of KPop. The music started sounding the same so I didn’t stay up to date with it that much, nor did we listen to it much in the car. Instead, we went back to listening to top40 radio. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds, and there were some good songs in the first half the year. The last quarter of the year, surprisingly, was a clunker where most of the new songs were pretty bad.

One interesting thing about the list this year is that all the songs are pretty close together. If I had to rank them, it might go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and then a 10 way tie for #6.

  1. Charlie Puth – Attention

    Ever since I discovered Charlie Puth, I’ve paid attention to his singles. His style of music currently lines up with the pop music I want to hear. Attention was released around April, and I’ve been waiting for his second album to be released, but apparently it won’t hit the streets till 2018! He released a second single towards the end of the year which is decent, but not as great as Attention. This song has a great hook and it is #1 because this is the style of pop I love listening to.

  2. 종현 (Jonghyun) ft 태연 (Taeyeon) – Lonely

    Taeyeon and Jonghyun had a good duet a couple of years ago, and this one is a continuation of that partnership. The song is decent and finally we get a Taeyeon ballad! It was tough ranking this song at #2, but what made it better than the rest is because this is a piano ballad and Taeyeon’s singing.

  3. 볼빨간사춘기 (Bolppalgan Puberty) – 나만 안되는 연애 (Hard To Love)

    Bolppalgan Puberty (now goes by Bolppalgan4 which is slightly easier to remember I suppose) was a chance discovery this year, and I’m glad I found them. This is the first song I heard by them and it instantly caught my attention because of the sound of the lead singer. They’re not your typical KPop (in fact I don’t even find them attractive) but the entire album is great (although not to the calibre of the two songs here or Freesia).

  4. 볼빨간사춘기 (Bolppalgan Puberty) – 우주를 줄게 (Galaxy)

    Like Taeyeon’s Why and Starlight, both this song and Hard To Love are really hard to separate in terms of greatness. They are quite different in style as Galaxy is more upbeat and Hard To Love is a ballad and more soulful; but I don’t think Galaxy will have as much longevity and impact because it is not a ballad, and yet isn’t dance-y enough. That is not to take away from how good this song is still though – this track was the 2017 song of the year at the Korean Music Awards (not fan voted).

  5. Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean, Migios – Slide

    It’s tragic that there was no video for this song but I wonder if it’s because the label didn’t want to make one or one of the artists didn’t? This song played for a little while on the radio and then went away, and it’s too bad. The beat is catchy, Frank Ocean sings well and makes me want to listen to more of his music, and Migios has a great hook. This an Passionfruit were two standout Hip Hop tracks for me this year, when I don’t enjoy listening to Hip Hop.

  6. Julia Michaels – Issues

    I have a feeling Julia Michaels is going to be a one-hit wonder, and she’ll go back to writing great songs for other artists. This song works because there is a movement in pop to a stripped down sound, and this is a great example of that style.

  7. Drake – Passionfruit

    Well, it looks like this song doesn’t have a video, and there are no performances or etc on YouTube. I guess Drake has a (not a) thing for posting things online, as the last video on his channel is Hotline Bling. So you’ll have to live with this cover. There are very few Drake songs I like because I don’t like the way he raps or the instrumentation in his songs. Passionfruit is an exception because of the driving beat and I guess because his singing is less soulful.

  8. Bruno Mars – Versace On The Dancefloor

    Bruno Mars has three great hits on his latest album, and unfortunately this is the one that didn’t get a lot of radio play. I wouldn’t say this is the best, as all three tracks had their merits. However, Versace On The Dancefloor is another recent song that channels the 80s/Michael Jackson era (see The Weeknd). If this song saw as much play as I Feel It Coming, it might be just as popular. It is a worthy ballad.

  9. 수지 (Suzy) – 취향 (Les Préférences)

    Suzy released an EP but this wasn’t the single. However, I discovered this song when I listened to her problems for that EP – and it’s actually better than everything else on the EP (or more fitting to the style of music I like).

  10. 태연 (Taeyeon) – I Got Love

    Taeyeon release an album, and then a month later released a deluxe version. Fortunately, I waited until the deluxe edition is out to buy. I’m not a fan of the genre of music that is on the album – not a lot of ballads, but a bunch of throwaway dance and easy rock songs. This song is one of singles and has a catchy and unique beat. Like Versace On The Dancefloor, the video is too distracting and takes away from the song.

  11. IU ft G-Dragon – Palette

    IU released two albums this year. One was a sequel to her remake album (more remakes) and one had original material. Palette was the single off of the latter. Both albums were OK, as I am a fan of her songs. Nothing was as super-catchy as 23. The live promo choreography of this song is unique in that it uses 80s style – the generation I grew up in is finally retro!

  12. Calvin Harris, Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, Big Sean – Feels

    Crazy all-star cast for this song which is kind of a departure for everyone. But I guess they banked that this would be a hit single – and it certainly feels like it. Katy Perry is unrecognizable until I heard mention of her name in the credits. Pharrell sounds typical. Big Sean has a retro beat for his rap that sounds like it was C+P from a Puff Daddy era song. And Calvin Harris. I’m not sure what he gets credit for? I guess for pulling everyone together.

  13. 소녀시대 (Girls Generation) – All Night

    The last (?) Girls Generation album came out this year and it was a clunker. All of the songs were unremarkable and forgettable except for this one, which has a great stuttering hook. With 3 members not signed to a contract, everyone approaching their 30s, and basically every member having a try at a solo career. I think this is it for SNSD and it sub-units.

  14. Bruno Mars – That’s What I Like

    This song and 24K Magic are prototypical Bruno Mars songs/hits. It’s catchy, and a great pop song. Nothing much to say except the formula works for him.

  15. Niall Horan – Slow Hands

    I’m not a big fan of Niall, 1D, or any of the other members’s songs. But Niall had a good song with This Town and this one is even better. Great pop song, but probably will be forever stuck in 2017.

  16. Ed Sheeran – Shape Of You

    Song came out early in 2017 (I think it was part of last year’s Grammy’s) and I’m kind of tired of listening to it (I even blogged about it). But it should remain a top Ed Sheeran song in my books.

  17. Taylor Swift – Ready For It

    I think Taylor Swift is the top female singer in pop today but I’m not a huge fan of her. She had a couple of releases this year and the last one is the best. However, I feel like she released half of this song previously as Wildest Dream. This was the one song in the last part of the year that I liked.

  18. 윤아 (Yoona) – 바람이 불면 (When The Wind Blows)

    With SNSD breaking up on hiatus, I think Yoona’s angle is to start a solo career in China. She had a Chinese EP last year and this song was a dual Mandarin/Korean release. I think she’s an underrated singer and if she gets a decent and fitting song, then it’ll do well. This song is not a hitmaker, but it is OK and she carries it fine. In fact, this song kind of reminds me of Taeyeon’s 11:11.


It’s been two years and a bit so it was time for a new phone. Although my OPT was showing it’s age, it wasn’t pressing that I update. The usual problems had starting occurring; most notably the beginning loss of battery life, and slowness (especially since I use my S8+ half the time while travelling). But there hasn’t been much hardware advancement that required me to upgrade.

While choosing a phone to upgrade too, I looked around a bit but settled on the 5T. While it has gotten a lot of excellent reviews (great phone for price), what made me buy it is that it is the only major phone on the market that has dual SIM support and community (if I ever need it). I think the only other option was a Huawei which is difficult to buy. I looked at a lot of flagship phones (S8, Pixel2, Essential, etc) and even if they were great, their lack of dual SIM eliminated them as choices.

One advantage of the 5T over the OPT is that both SIMs can be active – meaning you can call out or receive calls on both SIMs at once (on 3G). This was a problem I had previously so I’m glad that it is fixed. Everything else that is relatively important is good enough (camera, Android OS, hardware, etc).

One thing that irks me (although not a fault with OnePlus) is that while the new phone has a NFC, I can’t use Android Pay because I OEM unlocked the bootloader.


As I’m writing my Top Music of 2017 blog, I realize it might be interesting to see how rankings change over time. For me, top music should be an indication of longevity – how will I still like the song after a few years. So here’s the list from 2005 (12 years ago):

  1. Annie – Heartbeat
  2. Gwen Stefani – Cool
  3. Feist – Inside & Out
  4. Coldplay – Speed Of Sound
  5. Sum 41 – Pieces
  6. New Order – Krafty
  7. Franz Ferdinand – The Fallen
  8. Kelly Clarkson – Since U Been Gone
  9. Sufjan Stevens – John Wayne Gacy Jr
  10. Jimmy Eat World – Work
  11. Kathleen Edwards – Back To Me
  12. The Decemberists – Sixteen Military Wives
  13. The Bravery – An Honest Mistake
  14. Gorillaz – Feel Good Inc
  15. Imogen Heap – Hide & Seek
  16. Embrace – Gravity
  17. Tegan & Sara – Speak Slow
  18. Kylie Minogue – I Believe In You

In my re-ranking, I have an arbitrary cut-off where I don’t think a song should be on the list (kind of a 3.5 star line on iTunes). And then I just re-ranked everything based on how I like the song now. Also I didn’t add any new songs since I don’t remember what came out in 2005.

  1. Feist – Inside & Out
  2. Annie – Heartbeat
  3. Kylie Minogue – I Believe In You
  4. Kelly Clarkson – Since U Been Gone
  5. Gorillaz – Feel Good Inc
  6. Imogen Heap – Hide & Seek
  7. Gwen Stefani – Cool
  8. Sum 41 – Pieces
  9. Jimmy Eat World – Work
  10. New Order – Krafty
  11. Embrace – Gravity
  12. Tegan & Sara – Speak Slow
  13. Kathleen Edwards – Back To Me

So 5 songs have dropped of the list, and I think there’s a couple of clear tiers. Songs 1 – 4 are still great, 5 – 7 are decent, and 8+ fill out the catalogue.


I started November with a quick trip to Dallas. Dallas is a difficult destination to get to from Toronto because there’s only a couple of non-stop flights each day, and most of them don’t really fit with working hours – meaning I have to spend an extra day or night there. In any case, it was a pure work trip where I was just at the hotel or the office. That was good because it was 30°C+ there (new November record for them).

After that, the main thing on my mind was trying to get organized for Christmas seeing as December is usually full with events. We also planned to go to the US during American Thanksgiving to take advantage of Black Friday, so we had to plan that as well. We ended up driving to Pittsburgh to visit the Children’s Museum and Carnegie Science Center (both free due to reciprocal admission). We did stop for some shopping but didn’t really do a lot or take advantage of Black Friday deals.

The weather has been surprisingly cold for November. There was some snow and the kids had to wear snowpants to school for a couple of days. Aside from that, it was the usual classes and what not during the month.


Transformers: The Last Knight beings with an over-the-top sequence where the Knights of the Round Table (what? did I click the wrong movie on the flight?) are in a historical and one-sided battle against barbarians (they are losing), only to be saved at the last minute by Merlin and his (Transformer) dragon. What? #2.

That’s followed quickly and abruptly by a ludicrous storyline about some tough pre-teens who sneak into a Transformers DMZ/refugee zone only to find that there are actual robots who will kill all trespassers. I guess they don’t read the internet (What? #3). But that’s ok! Another pre-teen, who has been living on her own in this bombed out city (lots of food supplies I guess. What? #4) saves them against a couple of highly engineered, precision killing machines. Almost. Because the main star has to makes his grand appearance – Marky Mark. Having picked this movie on a whim, this was off to a terrible start and it was only 10 minutes in.

It doesn’t get any better. This is a stupid movie. The plot is a madlib of events and dialogue. It feels like there are cuts to certain dialogue scenes just to appease certain demographics. Characters do stuff but there’s no logic or reason why they are taking certain actions – and I don’t think it’s because I didn’t see the previous movies.

This movie has allusions to the very first (cartoon) Transformers movie, but even with that, Anthony Hopkins playing with a British accent, robots, or you name it; it still sucks. I didn’t get to see the last act of this movie, and I don’t feel like I missed much. I bet the heroes will win, but I’m not invested or curious in the outcome at all. I can’t understate how badly put together this movie is and given that I have very low expectations of a summer blockbusters, it should be telling that I can resoundly say that this is a one out of five movie.


I don’t remember why I got this movie, but it was the only movie that my phone could play on my flight (note to self, download an app like VLC so I can watch encoded video). I flew a lot between September and October and saw everything I wanted to watch from Air Canada’s inflight entertainment system so had a chance to work on my personal backlog (it’s been so long that I don’t remember why they exist).

Julie & Julia is actually two stories in one. There is a story about the famous cook Julia Childs (who I knew nothing about), how she got into cooking and how she ended writing her pivotal book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Then there is the current day story (set in 2002) where a Millennial New Yorker cooks every recipe in said book.

Both stories are kind of interesting. The first story is a time piece that shows off Paris in the 50s. Originally, I thought I would find the movie really annoying because Childs has these mannerisms which are grating. However, I got used to it as the story progressed and realized that Meryl Streep was doing a great job portraying the character and personality. The current day story was also really interesting. It’s set almost 15 years ago but it’s about Millennials hitting their 30s (was the term Millennials even coined back then?), and features this new technology called blogging! It was nostalgic to take a look back at the basic HTML render of Blogger and Salon, and the issues that bloggers faced about being narcissistic. On the other hand, this movie is really dated (people were still using flip phones!). This movie might end up being a complete period piece soon!

This is more of a chick flick but surprisingly I enjoyed it. Three out of five stars.


October was a very busy but exciting month. As you might recall, I ended September with a trip to Korea for work. When October started, I flew out again along with the rest of our family to Japan for vacation. This meant that I had a ping pong trip where I was in Asia, back home for two days, then in Asia again (well I didn’t plan it that way, but when we booked vacation I didn’t know I had to goto Korea yet).

Our trip to Japan was our big family vacation for this year. Fortunately we didn’t have to take our vacation in the summer this year, and could choose a more convenient time to go. We decided to go and celebrate Apollo’s birthday abroad in addition to our vacation – and ended up at Disneyland on the actual day (we had planned to go a day earlier, but rain forced us to delay it). We also did lots of Japan-y stuff that you might expect, and introduced all 3 kids to the culture (previously, only Apollo had been there).

After we came back. I had a few more days, and then flew out to San Francisco for a conference. Counting from September, I was basically away from home for 4 weeks. After that trip, I finally had some time at home but it wasn’t very calm because we basically had to catch up and plan for everything that we couldn’t do while we were traveling. Most importantly, Hallowe’en was quickly approaching.

We missed one weekend which had a lot of Hallowe’en stuff, and was only able to do some things on the last weekend of October. We wanted to go to Camp Spooky at Wonderland, but the day we planned to go ended up being rained out, and we went to Brick Or Treat at Legoland instead (wasn’t overly decorated for Hallowe’en). That meant our Wonderland seasons pass expired with a whimper (we didn’t use it past August) but we ended up buying a Legoland pass for the next year. At the end of the month, we had five memberships going on at the same time – that seems like a bit too much!


The only reason I watched Incendies is because it was directed by Denis Villeneuve. I enjoyed Arrival and am anticipating Blade Runner 2049 (which is out, but I won’t get to watch until it appears on flights). In truth, this film is a test to see whether I think he is a cut above or just hyped and lucky on previous films.

The film is about a pair of French-speaking twins who live in Canada, who, upon their mother’s death, have to deliver letters to their (long lost) father and (previously unknown) brother. They go on a journey to the Middle East to complete their mission and to learn about their mother’s history. It turns out that her mother lived through and took part in a civil war before coming to Canada.

The story was compelling to me because I didn’t have a lot of background on middle east countries and the fighting that happened in the last half of the 20th century. The film is rated R so the events that occur are graphic and abrupt. The mystery of the father and brother is also interesting and the ending that wraps up the mother’s will is unexpected.

The problem is that I think the source material of the film is very good. The film is based off a theatre play, but on further research, Villeneuve rewrote all of the dialog. So it’s difficult for me to determine whether how much the film making makes the story better. I guess I’ll have to watch more films by Villeneuve to find out. The rating for this movie is also a bit borderline. The topic is new to me, which makes the film better, but I don’t think it’s something I would want to watch multiple times. However, I’ll be generous and give it a four out of five stars.