Do people like, still blog?

Category Archives: Blogs

I used to follow a blog about an English call girl which was named this, and I wonder if this old movie was the source of the name. This movie is about a young wife in the 60s (movie was made in 1967) who moonlights (daylights?) as a call girl. It’s not really raunchy but more of a look at what French society was like back then – gender stereotypes and retro cars abound.

The movie also reminded me of how slow movies were back then. Unlike The Godfather though, Belle De Jour wasn’t able to set the mood to make the slow scenes feel immersive. The plot was also a bit weird as it pushed character development by introducing different Johns, before events force the final scene. While it made sense, the way that it was told felt disjointed. Interesting to watch but not fun, two out of five stars.


  • The Titanic Was On Fire For Days Before The Iceberg Hit
    Might just be a crazy theory, but a fire could have contributed to a sinking of the Titanic. What’s most fascinating about this story (and a rabbit hole in itself) is that a coal fire is almost impossible to put out (and how does burning the coal in a furnace help??)

    An example of the difficulties with a coal fire would be the coal fire in Centralia, Pennsylvania. This fire broke out in a mine in the Northeast United States and has proven impossible to put out. How impossible you ask? It’s been burning since May 27, 1962.
    Yes, I’m being totally serious, it’s been burning for 56 years.

    Despite numerous efforts to deal with the fire, nothing has been able to stop it. It’s estimated that some sections where the fire is burning are about 1000 degrees Fahrenheit and put up lethal gas clouds of carbon monoxide. Eventually, the federal government gave up trying to put out the fire and just bought all the land from the inhabitants, who moved. Centralia is now a tourist attraction, where visitors come to see the smoke and abandoned buildings.

  • How Premium Mediocre Fashion Conquered the World
    Short article but totally agree with it. Hate people wearing those Gucci shoes.

    On Lyst.com, the fashion shopping aggregator, plastic sandals by Givenchy and Gucci routinely top the most sought after product category.

    Premium mediocre in fashion is not a new phenomenon. During the ‘80s some Parisian couturiers licensed their name to mass market manufacturers. All of a sudden office workers could buy fifty-dollar Pierre Cardin button-up shirts. What followed was brand dilution and the perception that those names were no longer associated with luxury.

  • Technology, Ranked
    This, in practice, seems like a good idea. But it felt like it was written by a snarky teenager with an over emphasis on 21st century changes. Also, I don’t think a paragraph on each idea gives it enough justice, I guess we need a book about most important inventions of all time.

    57. Radar

    Radar literally won the war for the Allies in World War II. I mean, that’s the story we’re told. And it’s nearly true. So, um, thanks radar? Otherwise we might be living in an alternate reality world where a Nazi sympathizer was in the White House. What a nightmare.

  • Singapore’s ‘kiasu’ culture makes FOMO look like child’s play
    I wouldn’t say that kiasu is like FOMO, but it’s more like ‘not giving others an advantage’. Also, I think it’s more of a Chinese thing than a Singaporian thing.

    Giant, a local supermarket chain, ran a contest in 2017 to determine which neighborhood was the most kiasu. The winner, an eastern town called Tampines, impressed with a high percentages of residents admitting to excessively pressing the crosswalk button.

    They also fessed up in large numbers to reserving tables at busy coffee shops with a tissue packet or umbrella rather than more considerately ordering their food first and then finding a place to sit — a widespread practice known in Singlish as chope (You can also chope a parking space by having someone stand in it).

    Giant reportedly rewarded Tampines residents with free drinks, ice cream and more tissue packets for choping.

  • “Down The Rabbit Hole I Go”: How A Young Woman Followed Two Hackers’ Lies To Her Death
    A long story about how in today’s day and age, con men can be young and hackers. There’s more than the story here, but I guess it’s hard to distill the truth from all the crazy lies.

    As it turned out, Mir Islam posed a flight risk. Only two months after getting out of prison, he left the US in violation of the terms of his release. Islam slipped past immigration by claiming to be someone else: his younger brother, who is confusingly also named Mir Islam, and presenting that Mir Islam’s Bangladeshi passport as his own. According to Philippine government records, the older Mir Islam, posing as his younger brother, arrived in the country on July 24, 2018.


Another movie that has been hanging on my “to watch on a flight” list, and survived until I actually had time to watch it; given its longevity, I thought that Bleeding Steel must be a masterpiece with a lot of views amongst flyers. I mean, it has to be good if the synopsis is that Jackie Chan fights a bunch of bionic bad guys, right?

As you can expect, it was a bit weird. It wasn’t a serious movie but whatever attempt at incorporating HK cinema humor got lost in translation somewhere. Instead, what they did bring was the B-level villains from Chinese period films into a production that was like The Adventurers – a Chinese film set in the Western world. The majority of the film takes place in Australia and the language was fluid – I didn’t keep track of how often they switched between Mandarin and English, but I did notice the accented English from the Chinese actors.

I’m not sure that this movie would play well with theatre-goers as the only thing it has going for it is Jackie Chan (and isn’t his brand of comedic Kung Fu fighting getting tiresome?) Two out of five stars for me


Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a Mission Impossible, or a Tom Cruise movie. This movie has been sitting in the inflight entertainment for awhile and there was always something a little better to watch. Finally, I ran out of movies and ended up watching Mission: Impossible – Fallout (how are you even supposed to write the name as it has two modifiers).

While there haven’t been as many MI movies, I would guess that this is the American version of the Bond movies. Where Bond has his gadgets, MI seems more gritty and athletic – the most memorable scene I have from all MI movies is the second one where Cruise is climbing a cliff. But, that difference has never made the MI movies that much more fun to me.

I was pleasantly surprised by how this film turned out. It started off pretty clichéd and I thought it was going to be a snore (give up and try another movie). And then Superman (Henry Cavil but it felt like the same characterization) showed up. But as we got into it, the story improved a lot. I forgot that one key element of the MI series is the espionage and double crosses – it’s like mini Ocean’s 11 throughout. I’m sure the scenarios don’t make sense under scrutiny but when you’re watching the movie, it’s fun. Even though it ran significantly over 2 hours, the plot felt pretty tight.

This MI also drew elements from previous movies. Seems like that is something that it shares with the Bond series. At least with Bond, there have been 10s of movies to refer to, so this is a little premature for MI. But then maybe this is the movie version of the greatest hits album, and if they don’t make a retrospective movie now, the actors will get too old.

All in all, a surprisingly good action film from a movie franchise that I’ve long forgotten. Three out of five stars.


I’m a late adopter to OTT video (still no Netflix account & etc) and it has only been recently that I started using the CBC app to watch shows on my TV. And soon after I started, it went through a rebranding to be called Gem.

Now Gem is a weird name for video streaming, but I can understand why they might want to call it that. Gem makes it seem like the service is rare and valuable; plus it is quick to say. But I just can’t relate to it well.

Nevertheless, it is decent and useful. There is a lot of content and I wish there was some way to favorite so that I could build up a playlist and come back to it later. Best thing is that it’s free (although I suppose I pay taxes).


Oops, bad start to the new year as I forgot to write my recap for January. That’s surprising as a lot of stuff happened in January and it actually felt like two months. The new year started uneventful as was the rest of Christmas vacation (Apollo had a couple of play dates). Then the next week, I few to Las Vegas for CES.

Now that I’ve been to CES a few times, I realize it’s more of a sales conference than anything else. It’s not that fun for me and it is just another place I have to do work. The travel is also very hectic because there are a ton of people who are flying down for the same things and the flights are packed, everyone has status etc.

After coming back home, we started our winter term activities on the weekends. This year, Apollo and Jovian are going to different programs so Pauline and I take them to different places on the weekends.

This month was also a “typical winter” with lots of snow. After a couple of snowfalls, the snowbanks around our driveway quickly grew taller than the kids. The snowfall was followed by extreme cold as a Polar vortex descended on most of Canada. For Toronto, temperatures during the day was in the -15°C to -20°C range (before windchill) and night times were into the -30°Cs.

In this month, I also found a way to “break” the Star Trek game that I’m playing. Usually when I’m able to figure out a way to accelerate the progress through the game like this, my enjoyment will fizzle out (apparently doing something challenging is more fun). I’m still trying to hold on to the game by not abusing my power but it might be time to move on soon.


I had to take an Air Canada Route flight. Since it is a low cost carrier, they don’t have inflight entertainment and I had to bring my own tablet. Of course, their wifi entertainment didn’t work so I resorted to watching some stuff from my own devices. I didn’t have a selection, so I settled on Jobs – the biography of Steve Jobs from 2013.

Although I have a passing interest in watching his bio, I wasn’t enthusiastic about it. I guess that tainted my perception of the film a bit. Secondly, I felt they tried to summarize his life and pack it into a movie by weaving a bunch of key points into a short narrative. Especially in the beginning, every scene had some important element or aspect of his life, in addition to the main plot that was unfolding. The rhythm just felt off.

As the film progressed in to Apple being successful, I started to wonder how authentic this story was. In researching on IMDB, there were a lot of liberties taken to make it “Hollywood” but I think it was still fairly true to the spirit. I also found out that there was another Jobs bio released 2 years later called Steve Jobs! That feels a little wasteful.

I think Ashton Kutcher did a great job portraying Jobs – I even liked how he practiced a specific walk (which I didn’t know he had until the movie). However, it was still not that interesting movie for me – 2 out of 5 stars.


Unlike years past, we didn’t make a lot of progress on Christmas shopping before December this year because we were busy with the house. That meant we had to fit it all into December. The gifts for teachers & etc were easy since it’s pretty much the same every year (and we can plan for it) but everyone else was a lot harder. Eventually we got it done, but lots of gift cards and Amazon for most things. One thing I noticed this year was a distinct lack of Christmas cards. I guess everyone finally made the shift (sorry Hallmark).

I made one last trip to Korea in December, and had to fly around in a circuitous fashion, so luckily that gave me enough miles to bump into the 75k threshold. There’s not much change between the previous tier and this one though.

To give everyone a change to visit our new house, we hosted a few times over the holidays. Necessary evil but it’s all done now!

We didn’t do much Boxing Day shopping as there wasn’t anything we needed (closets are full). There are still a couple of things we need to fill out our house but they aren’t a rush. We did end up buying an aquarium and some fish, so those our the first pets in our new house.


Welcome to my 2018 year in review, aka a winding tour of 20 thoughts about this year. Here we go!

(1) It’s been 10 years since I got married and six years since we’ve had our first child. We’re on our third place to live now. That’s pretty solid into adult life and adult responsibilities. I’m technically in the leading edge of Millennials and still feel I connect with that generation. But do I really?

(2) It’s been 13 years since I graduated from undergrad. Most of my peers have been in industry for that long too. While I think there is title inflation, a lot of us are at senior levels at companies – not just senior engineer/developer (which you seemed to jump up to with only a few years of experience) but management level. That’s another change that just creeps up on you.

(3) Like last year, I haven’t been using my core skills at work. I guess building new skills is important, and there’s still a lot of that this year. The most fun and useful one though is deal making – I wouldn’t want to do the front line negotiations, but it’s challenging to theorize.

(4) I applied that skill this year as we bought a new house a moved. (5) The deal making wasn’t bad, but it was a tough experiences to move. You know, I used to move every 4 months, from school back home or to a Coop placement. I never liked it, but it was manageable. Now there’s just a lot of stuff and it’s hard to go through the process. Just like when we moved into our old townhouse, there are a bunch of empty rooms and the house feels empty. However, as with the townhouse, I think it’s going to fill out as a matter of time.

(6) I hardly ever chat with other people (friends). It’s something most people do, and it’s so easy now with our phones. It’s just not something I want to do. I guess you could say it’s a hobby (people chatting with others) and it’s not one of mine. (7) I don’t have a lot of hobbies, but I always wanted to have one esoteric one. Everyone is interested in the same thing (photography, travel, etc). Well I found a unique one (and it’s something that I’m truly interested in, and not just saying it) – genealogy. I spent a lot of time this year researching my family tree and trying to map it out. It’s hard because eventually it leads into China and I don’t have the ability to search there. But I’ve made good progress in the US.

(8) When I was younger, I had a hobby of watching movies. But ever since we had kids, I have hardly watched any movies. There’s no chance to go to the movie theatre, and we don’t subscribe to Netflix. It’s not something I miss though – from the expensive tickets/concessions to chasing the new media rabbit. Except, this is not true anymore. I actually have watched a lot of movies this year (~30) and while most of them are on the plane, they still count.

(9) Time shifting movies like that is an evolution of my new life. This year I have felt that my time management has changed. I’ve always prided myself in preparation and having enough time to do things properly, but this year there were numerous times (daily or weekly) where I felt rushed. I guess one reason is because I am trying to hold onto priorities that shouldn’t be that important anymore (stuff from days before we had kids), and the other reason is just that there is more stuff going on at once now.

(10) Another thing that continues to be missing is having time to myself, to reflect and think. Not having a commute really affects this, and shower time is just not long enough. However, all the flight time is helpful because it gives me time to do this. For example, every year I have difficulty writing this year end blog, because I sit in front of my computer and can’t think of all the changes in the year. However, for this year’s blog, I actually conceived all the ideas and points on the plane (trying to sleep) and then edit it/fleshed it out on the computer. I need to find more cases where I can time shift like this.

(11) Flying has also changed for me. I have status on Air Canada now so I always get to board early. Sometimes I don’t even have to deal with the riff-raff so flying isn’t a hectic experience. There’s also this feeling of luxury in our new home now because there is a lot more space. However, it’s this strange balance between being the same that we always were (still the same clothes, furniture, cars, etc) and suddenly having luxury things in a few target areas. Not sure if this is faux-luxury, or upbringing holding us back.

(12) I’m a single child so my parents are my responsibility. As I get older my parents do too, and every cold or sickness becomes a worry. I know they don’t want to be a burden for me but that doesn’t alleviate the actual burden.

(13) On the flip side is our children. When I look over the pictures of this year, I see that Katana grew a lot. She’s almost 2 now, can romp about, and kind of express what she wants. That also means that she’s on the cusp of being a little kid like her brothers, and losing the baby cuteness. That is an inevitable outcome that I was struggling with all year – that this is going to be the last baby until we’re grandparents.

(14) Jovian is always the younger brother, but he has grown and is a big boy himself. Sometimes I see him and think he is Apollo due to his size. This year, I also became more familiar with his friends & etc, which means he is finally exuding some of himself into the family (instead of just piggy backing on Apollo’s friends).

(15) Strangely though, I don’t feel that Apollo has grown. He definitely has, especially when I look at his class pictures and all those kids are no longer your cute little kids. But in my mind, he’s still a little boy.

(16) Another year worth of gaming under my belt. This year, I continued to play Star Trek Timelines, started Disney Heroes in the summer, and stopped playing Hearthstone as much. Spending a little of money, but not a lot (maybe $100 total). Gaming is not a emphasis but it is ever-present.

(17) Another thing I’ve prided myself on is eating healthy when at home, so that I can eat crappy (fast food, etc) when I’m out (both in the city or traveling). I don’t think this is true anymore, I end up eating lots of junk food at home too.

(18) I found various instances throughout the year where I wished that I would revive my Twitter account. I just had one liners that I wanted to shout out at the world. In the end, I always ended up holding back because I didn’t want those random musing tied to my digital identity. I toyed with the idea of only tweeting hockey stuff, but even then didn’t end up going through with the idea

(19) This year’s Maple Leafs are good. Not promising, but actually good. They should challenge for the Cup in the playoffs (and if they flame out, it will be disappointing). I watched a bunch of games on TV and for some reason, Apollo is really interested in hockey this year too.

(20) This year ended optimistically because of our move. We needed to move, a bit because we were running out of space, and a bit because it was necessary for our plan in the next few years. The plan of when to move wasn’t concrete, but now that it is done, I am glad. The newness (to us) of the place means life is fresh and exciting (rather than being extremely challenging if everything had changed).

Being in a larger, detached house also helps validate the inflection point of 2017. Now it is about the home and family, rather than starting a family – something we’ll continue in 2019.


Spent nights in fewer places this year than the previous ones (only 9). Somehow never ended up going to Dallas for work this year, and didn’t head out to Erie/Grove City for shopping (moving during that time).

  • Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Las Vegas, NV, USA
  • Manhattan, NY, USA
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Carlsbad, CA, USA
  • Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • Ottawa, ON, Canada
  • Rochester, NY, USA
  • San Francisco, CA, USA

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),


My main impression this year was that there was a distinct lack of interesting new songs. For new music, I continued to listen to the radio but dialed back a lot on KPop. It wasn’t productive for me to keep paying attention to blogs to find out about new KPop. I also took a long break from radio in the middle of the year because the kids started listening to (the same) kid albums over and over. We attained a balance in the last quarter of the year so I had a chance to catch up (not that I missed much, if anything).

Due to this, here is an shorter list for 2018 – I think this list could have been cut before 10:

  1. New Rules – Dua Lipa
    This might have come out at the end of 2017, but it got in my ahead and I bought her self titled album this year. Catchy pop but I can only remember its chorus. I also have a weird mashup version of this that Pentaonix did with an Aaliyah song!
  2. Solo – Clean Bandit ft Demi Lovato
    If I had listened to the radio more in the summer, I think this would have been the song of the summer for me. But, because I didn’t listen to it that much; maybe I think this song is better than it actually is.
  3. Stay – 태연 (Taeyeon)
    Best Taeyeon song of the year. I like the uplifting style and the imagery of the video. Wish she released more ballads this year, but this is a pop song in the vein of Rain so I think it will remain in my rotation for awhile. I think this is the song that I should have been.
  4. Done For MeCharlie Puth ft Kehlani
    Charlie Puth released his new album this year, but first two singles were played in 2017 (Attention and How Long). I was waiting forever for this album since I enjoyed those singles as well as his first album. His second album has a high overall quality, but not many singles after this third one.
  5. 삐삐 (Bbibbi) – 아이유 (IU)
    IU’s songs are always so self reflective, and this is in a similar vein where she addresses her social media haters. That’s just one aspect of her marketing though. She’s really just a typical pop idol, fashioned in a particular way for her fans. This song is catchy, the video is stylistic, the dance is fun; but in a few years it will just be like her other pop hits (see: Good Day, You & I). And more generally, lost in a forest of pop.
  6. Something New – 태연 (Taeyeon)
    Not a fan of this video and I don’t think this song is in a style that will give it a lot of lifetime listening. I think they fit Taeyeon into this song for sales and awards, rather than writing a song to fit her.
  7. 몰랐니 (Lil’ Touch) – 소녀시대-Oh!GG
    I see this song as an attempt for SNSD to stay relevant. 3 more of their group have left (Tiffany, Soo Young, Seohyun) and so this “sub group” is an excuse to release something with the remaining 5 members. I guess you could say the song is an evolution because it’s not bubblegum pop but a little more progressive (reminds me of a jungle). However, the video just feels old – the band members are now pushing 30, which is ancient in the pop world. Their release this year was a single (not even an EP), and they have all had solo albums (except Sunny?). I can’t imagine the group will have another comeback next year.
  8. 다른사람을 사랑하고 있어 (I’m In Love With Someone Else) – 수지 (Suzy)
    I enjoyed Suzy’s previous EP (Yes? No?) and really tried to like her most recent EP. After listening to it several times, this ballad is the only one that stuck.
  9. Call Out My Name – The Weeknd
    The Weeknd released a surprise EP this year, which wasn’t great but paid some fan service if you like his style of music (which I do). Call Out My Name was the single, but I don’t think it was the strongest track on the EP.
  10. In My Feelings – Drake
    This song would be otherwise forgettable if it weren’t for the fact that Jovian loves this song. We end up playing it over and over while he tries to dance to it. He doesn’t care about the dance challenge, he just makes his own moves. Also, for the longest time, I thought this song had “Kiki” in the title…
  11. Calvin Harris ft Sam Smith – Promises
    Last minute entry. Sounds good and…promising after hearing it on the radio.
  12. I Got You – Bebe Rexha
    I actually saw Bebe Rexha perform at an iHeartRadio concert at CES at the start of the year. Prior to that concert, I did some research to see if I would like her music – and I didn’t. This song came back on my radar because I heard a cover of it (forgot by who). I looked up this original and it actually isn’t as good! Oh well, I think this is a decent song even if I never heard it on the radio.
  13. Lost In Japan – Shawn Mendes (Zedd Remix)
    Radio only played the Zedd remix so I had no idea what the original sounds like. The situation posed by this song is a bit ridiculous and watching the video for the first time, it looks like it’s trying to emulate Lost in Translation.
  14. Calvin Harris ft Dua Lipa – One Kiss
    This song benefited from New Rules and caught my attention because Dua Lipa sang on it. I guess it would be popular in the clubs.
  15. No Tears Left To Cry – Arianna Grande
    Never listened to a lot of Arianna Grande, as her songs haven’t piqued my interest. This one did mildly due to the lack of quality songs this year, so I wouldn’t call it an achievement.
  16. God Is A Woman – Arianna Grande
    As I was writing this list, I remembered this song…it’s memorable for 2018 (see above).

It’s kind of telling that this year, my most favorite song might have been released in 2017!


I had to watch Ant-Man and the Wasp because it looks like these characters and their environment will be very important in Avengers: Endgame. Before seeing that trailer, I wasn’t really interested in this movie because I always thought that Ant-Man/Giant-Man/Wasp were dumb heroes (definitely B or C-List). In fact, I totally forgot that there was an Ant-Man movie and this was a sequel!

I thought the casting was interesting – I hadn’t seen Michelle Pfeiffer in any movies for awhile. She’s still quite recognizable (on the other hand Evangeline Lilly hasn’t aged well). The rest of the movie and story are forgettable – for some reason, I found the comedy and comedic set pieces to be pretty lame (maybe they reflect how the Scott Lang character is more lame than other cooler superheroes). I just wanted to learn more about the quantum zone and know all the characters/tech when they appear later.

If not for the Avengers connection, this movie could be a straight-to-video release. Two out of five stars, partly because the movie sucks, partly because the hero sucks.


Will You Be There? is a Korean time paradox movie where an older man travels 30 years into the past to visit his younger self and a regret in his life. As you can expect, there are butterfly effects of his actions that change the outcome, and that leads to subsequent visits in order to shape his present so that he has his desired outcome without changing other things that are important to him.

I enjoy experience this type of concept because there are always things in life that you wish you did better or differently. While we don’t have any mystical way to travel back and retcon out past, it’s therapeutic to imagine. The movie version is a fairy tale and you can just as well create a horror film from the concept. But I believe the director wanted to tell a satisfying story without pushing the boundaries of thought. That leaves this idea as a three out of five film.


I came into this movie thinking that this was the reboot of the Jurassic Park that I had watched when I was a kid. I remember seeing a lot of Jurassic World toys this summer, which I supposed tied-in with this update. So I was surprised when I was watching Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom that this was actually a sequel of another movie. Oops. Nevertheless, I hadn’t seen dinosaurs hunting humans for awhile so this was new to me.

Steven Spielberg is tied to this project, but I was pretty disappointed with the result. The pacing and dialogue was cheesy – not in a way that dumbs it down for little kids watching (why would they want to watching scary dino hunt scenes I’m not sure) but just not well written. Honestly, you’re watching this movie for dinosaurs and not the cast or story. There’s a dino-trainer aspect in this movie, and for a minute I thought I would be watching Rampage again, unfortunately without The Rock, it wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining. Also, I can’t stop wondering why Star Lord is chasing dinosaurs.

With this, I’ve had my dino fix for awhile. I would give this movie two out of five stars.


  • Uber Is Headed for a Crash
    Some very good reasons why Uber will fail.

    But, but, but — you may say — Uber has established a large business in cities over the world. Yes, it’s easy to get a lot of traffic by selling at a discount. Uber is subsidizing ride costs. Across all its businesses, Uber was providing services at only roughly 74 percent of their cost in its last quarter. Uber was selling its services at only roughly 64 percent of their cost in 2017, with a GAAP profit margin of negative 57 percent. As a reference point, in its worst four quarters, Amazon lost $1.4 billion on $2.8 billion in sales, for a negative margin of 50 percent. Amazon reacted by firing over 15 percent of its workers.

  • High score, low pay: why the gig economy loves gamification
    Along the same vein, here’s a look at a Lyft driver and a discussion at what drives them to drive more.

    But one week, after completing what felt like a million rides, I opened my feedback summary to discover that my rating had plummeted from a 4.91 (“Awesome”) to a 4.79 (“OK”), without comment. Stunned, I combed through my ride history trying to recall any unusual interactions or disgruntled passengers. Nothing. What happened? What did I do? I felt sick to my stomach.

    Because driver ratings are calculated using your last 100 passenger reviews, one logical solution is to crowd out the old, bad ratings with new, presumably better ratings as fast as humanly possible. And that is exactly what I did.

  • Marvel Icon Stan Lee Leaves a Legacy as Complex as His Superheroes
    With the death of Stan Lee, the tributes are coming out. Here’s one that is not so flattering of him. I heard Stan Lee talk last year and he was a very entertaining and engaging speaker. I thought that that was a skill that he picked up as he got older (and out of the direct work of creating superheroes). But I guess that has been a talent of his since day 1.

    Yet Kirby’s legacy and Lee’s proved to be inextricable. Marvel fans noticed a creative malaise after Kirby defected, a period that coincided with Lee stepping back from Marvel’s creative fare and moving to California to establish what would eventually become, after many fits, starts, and incarnations, Marvel Studios. Kirby fans reading the Fourth World noticed that despite Kirby’s unparalleled visuals and creations, his dialogue and characterization just weren’t up to par with Kirby’s Lee-scripted Marvel work. Kirby ended up returning to Marvel in 1975 for a half-hearted reunion.

  • What the Hell Happened to Darius Miles?
    I don’t know who Darius Miles is and I don’t know what happened to him. So I thought this article was going to be a self-written essay about how he lost all of his money. But no, it’s a somewhat behind the scenes report of his short career in the NBA and what happened after he left. Oh well, there’s 20 minutes lost

    I knew I was speeding. So I pull over, and I roll the window down, and I’m reaching over into the glove compartment to get my papers ….

    … Then I hear this voice. Big, booming voice.

    “WHERE YOU G’WAN, BOY?”

    I’m like, Damn, they got the sergeant on me or something?

    I turn to look out the window, and I can’t even see this dude’s face he’s so big. All I see is his chest.

    “I SAID WHERE YOU G’WAN BOY?”

    Then he bends down and looks in the window.

    Big, dumbass grin on his face.

    It’s Shaq.

    I’m like, “Yo! I’m going to practice! You made me late!”

    He don’t miss a beat. He taps side of my truck, turns around and says, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll pay your fine. Just holler at me.”

    I’m looking in the rearview mirror, like, How the hell …

    Shaq’s got one of those old-school police lights that you put on the hood of your car like you see on C.O.P.S.

    He gets in, laughing his ass off, waving at me.

  • The Triple Jeopardy of a Chinese Math Prodigy

    I’m not sure I should feel sorry for this guy. He tried to rip off the company where he worked at (the article doesn’t propose any alternate rationale for his actions), and the company pursued him relentlessly from using their IP.

    Appearing without a lawyer and clutching a plastic bag full of documents, Xu cut a pitiful figure. “The defendant has already been punished once,” he told the judge, undercounting by one. “It is excessive to punish him again.” He disputed whether the trading strategies were really as valuable, years later, as the hedge fund claimed.

    While the courts processed the cases against him, Xu was granted bail. He walked out of Harmondsworth Detention Centre this March 16, three years and seven months after he was first incarcerated. His first act as a free man was to order a family bucket from Kentucky Fried Chicken. The same day, Allen & Overy wrote to British immigration authorities asking them to take “all necessary steps” to keep Xu in the country.


After watching Crazy Rich Asians, this felt like the opposite movement in film. Chinese films have been trying to break into Hollywood forever, but this movie felt like a different strategy. Instead of converting or accommodating a movie for Hollywood, The Adventurers is a film that is fluid and presents itself without explanation. The movie is set entirely in France, half of it is in English (all the “local” French people speak English instead of French) and Chinese people inexplicably are woven into the French population (winery owner, insurance agent, etc). The language goes back and forth – which is OK for me to understand, but could be disconcerting for someone who only understands one. Also, as you can expect, everyone has an accent. Andy Lau does ok, maybe he wants to follow Jackie Chan and Chow Yun Fat.

The story centers around a thief, his final heist and redemption in the eyes of his loved one. As with most Cantonese films, it’s not going to win any awards with its script (although has your typical HK humor). You watch this like a Bond film: car chases, gadgets and action sequences. It is pretty engaging until we get to the plot twist where it then makes no sense. The ending explains how it happens, but not the why – which is the big question and confusion for me when the plot twist happened.

Oh well, I enjoyed this HK cinema situated in some random place in the world. Three out of five stars.


I have been exposed to a lot of press about this movie and the underlying themes of what it represents for the Chinese dispora in North America. I don’t know if it is going to be a one-off or lead to a strong sub-culture of Chinese-American films. That’s a topic for someplace other than my blog. But I can tell you what I think about the movie without the pretense that this is a potential society-altering film.

How I see this film is that it takes a culture and brings it to a wider audience, much like the way a Marvel film might bring comics to the mainstream audience. I am versed in the Marvel universe and Chinese culture, and in Crazy Rich Asians I felt like I was beaten over the head about Asian family obligations vs American independence. I think some more subtlety or sophistication in this theme would have helped.

I also thought the film started out slow. When watching the parts with older Chinese folks, I wanted to hear it in Chinese. Also the gratuitous extravagance was grating and the comedy wasn’t funny. I thought that the movie would end up being a 2 out of 5 for me. Fortunately the movie got a lot better once they moved on to real human issues and began dealing with the relationship. That’s the kind of writing that I expect from a movie plot these days.

While cliche, the ending played out satisfying and didn’t feel cheesy. Crazy Rich Asians didn’t have to be stocked with Asian actors to be popular, it stands on its own as a decent movie. Three out of five stars.


November was the first month we spent in our new home and things are finally settling in. We still have a bunch of boxes to unpack but all the day-to-day things are sorted and organized. We also did a bunch of home improvement things (fixed stuff and bought some furniture here and there) but it’s safe to say that the Home Depot trips are dying down. We also dealt with a lot of garbage and recycling – each week there were 5+ bags waiting for the waste disposal people!

We had the first snowfall of winter in the middle of the month – it was a pretty big one too (5-10 cm). That kind of freaked everyone out as they expected a heavy winter. But since then, we’ve only had a few dustings. Temperatures dropped below freezing in the middle of month too and haven’t really recovered.

For work, I flew down to SF for the Samsung Developer Conference. I ended up doing part of a talk there. Nothing too exciting but one more thing to put on my LinkedIn profile. We didn’t go anywhere for Black Friday – it was too difficult to plan with our house up in the air, and we wanted to leave that long weekend available in case we had to take care of anything around the house. Turns out we didn’t so we just went around Canadian stores and bought various deals.


  • Life and death on a superyacht
    The story of how billionaires have super yachts that may employ hundreds of people (I guess they are floating mansions). Sometimes the workers die, but are the billionaires criminally responsible? Even if they are not , then should be morally responsible?

    By the time Robin, Will’s mother Judith and his sister Rosanna, now 37, arrived in Monaco to join the search, the yacht had left. “The captain said: ‘Don’t worry, we threw some flowers over the side and gave his belongings to the police,’” Rosanna says, fighting back tears as she describes “the worst days of our lives”. “I couldn’t comprehend that the boat had gone before Will was found and before we got there,” she says. “How could they just leave a family to deal with the death of one of their crew, and the police and paperwork and everything? I can’t believe that if something goes wrong – if someone dies – they can just raise the anchor and leave.”

  • The Legend of Nintendo
    A high level look at the philosophy of Nintendo. They’ve been around since 1889!

    In the fall of 2012, the company was in one of its periodic slumps. It had just released the Wii U, the sequel to the phenomenally popular six-year-old Wii. The console featured HD graphics and a touchscreen controller, but from the start it felt off-kilter. The branding, for one thing. Wii U sounded so much like Wii, critics said, that it came across as a minor upgrade rather than an enthralling advance. Compelling games were slow to arrive, and sales were sluggish.

    When things click for Nintendo, a new console triggers a slew of good fortune. The metronomic release of exclusive, tantalizing titles draws gamers to buy the console, which in turn increases sales. Then the console achieves critical mass among hardcore fans, and other companies scramble to adapt their most popular titles for Nintendo’s system. Third-party games from major and independent publishers attract new console buyers. Marketers seeking licenses—for apparel, cereal, children’s toothpaste—rush in, desperate to capitalize on the delirium. The resulting surge of revenue pumps up Nintendo’s profits and replenishes its R&D coffers to start the process anew.

  • How Fortnite Captured Teens’ Hearts and Minds
    Fortnite is really big now, but I haven’t played it yet. So it is useful to see what the game is about, why there is so much hype, and how teens are actually playing it.

    He saw on his find-your-friends bar that a bunch of schoolmates were playing, so he FaceTimed one who goes by ism64. They teamed up and hit Lucky Landing. Gizzard Lizard wore an earbud under a set of earphones, so that he could talk with ism64 while listening for the sound of approaching enemies. From a distance, it appeared that he was talking to himself: “Let’s just build. Watch out, you’re gonna be trapped under my ramp. I’m hitting this John Wick. Oh my God, he just pumped me. Come revive me. Build around me and come revive me. Wait, can I have that chug jug? Thank you.”

    I’d been struck, watching Gizzard Lizard’s games for a few days, by how the spirit of collaboration, amid the urgency of mission and threat, seemed to bring out something approaching gentleness. He and his friends did favors for one another, watched one another’s backs, offered encouragement. This was something that I hadn’t seen much of, say, down at the rink. One could argue that the old arcade, with the ever-present threat of bullying and harassment and the challenge of claiming dibs, exposed a kid to the world—it’s character-building!—but there was something to be said for such a refuge, even if it did involve assault rifles and grenades.

  • The man who has eaten at more than 7,300 Chinese restaurants, but can’t use chopsticks and doesn’t care for food
    Well I’m not one the chastise another for OCD data tracking, but I guess it is a bit weird to visit thousands of Chinese restaurants without knowing Chinese. The actual number of restaurants (maybe 120 a year) and not going to one more than once* is not too crazy.

    “In 1978, people in LA started talking about this great new Hong Kong-style restaurant that had opened up in San Francisco,” Chan says. “It was called Kam Lok. People from LA would fly up there just to eat. My wife and I flew up in the morning, ate there for lunch, ate there for dinner, then flew back in the evening. It was so much better than anything we’d had here.”

    Two years later, Chan made his first trip to Hong Kong.

    “We saw all these restaurants selling seafood. It was something we’d never seen before,” he says. “Then, we came back to LA and, six months later, all of these seafood places started opening up. Within two or three years in LA’s China­town, San Francisco’s Chinatown, New York’s Chinatown, every new Chinese restaurant had seafood, or ocean, or something like that in its name.”

  • A Company Built on a Bluff
    I thought I had read another article about the history of Vice but I can’t find it now. This one gets into more details about how it’s essentially a company of scams, which a lot of reputable companies have invested money into. Unfortunately, they’re not delivering on that optimism.

    According to multiple employees who worked at Vice at the time, Smith went to the architecture firm across the hall from Vice’s Williamsburg office and asked how much it would cost to get them to move out ASAP. Vice’s 50 employees then worked around the clock for several days setting up the new space to look like it had been Vice’s all along. Vice constructed a glass-enclosed conference room to host the Intel meeting, and late one night, an employee answered a buzz at the door to find a plumber who’d come to install a fancy Japanese toilet.

    On the morning of the Intel meeting, Vice employees were instructed to get to the office early, to bring friends with laptops to circulate in and out of the new space, and to “be yourselves, but 40 percent less yourselves,” which meant looking like the hip 20-somethings they were but in a way that wouldn’t scare off a marketing executive. A few employees put on a photo shoot in a ground-floor studio as the Intel executives walked by. “Shane’s strategy was, ‘I’m not gonna tell them we own the studio, but I’m not gonna tell them we don’t,’ ” one former employee says. That night, Smith took the marketers to dinner, then to a bar where Vice employees had been told to assemble for a party. When Smith arrived, just ahead of the Intel employees, he walked up behind multiple Vice employees and whispered into their ears, “Dance.”


After Dr Strange’s appearance in Infinity War, I wanted to see what the movie version of his origin story would be like. Although, I may have read his backstory in the past, I don’t really remember it so I didn’t have much to reference against. The movie version seemed relatively believable though.

I think Dr Strange is a little different than other Marvel films. While the other superheros have physical skills, Dr Strange’s powers are mystical so it’s not easy to predict what he can and can’t do. It’s like magic, but different than what Thor/Loki uses. That elevates the usual rote Marvel fare into unknown territory. Some of the fights are really intense because the world becomes an Escher playground when in the mirror dimension.

There was some Astral plane stuff too which was interesting to see how they would represent that in a movie setting. And of course, there was a big infinity stone preview – although I watched the movies in the wrong order so it wasn’t that surprising. The post credit scene was just a preview of Thor: Ragnarok. I guess this movie is a 3 out of 5 stars too.


It’s been many years since I watched The Incredibles, and I hardly remember the story. However the characters are relevant because of the marketing campaign for The Incredibles II (plus I was at Disney) as well as the fact that I have been playing a Disney game that includes the heroes.

That’s probably why I was surprised when Elastigirl had a Southern drawl to her character – I didn’t remember that at all! Violet also looked a lot droopier than I expected. I guess her cartoon in the game was photoshopped. Aside from that, I’m not too sure what to think of the movie. It didn’t feel like a kid film (except that no one died) and they certainly dealt with a lot of adult themes. I guess I can relate to the daddy daycare, but that just felt like comedic relief and killing time (it was great that Jack Jack had a variety of cool superpowers, but he didn’t do anything with it!)

I did like the retro, silver-age theme (although I don’t remember if the first was set in that time frame too). Overall, this just felt like a normal superhero movie wrapped in a Pixar skin. It didn’t feel special but I suppose it wasn’t bad. 3 out of 5 stars.


This October was very busy because we had to move. We bought a new house in September so it we had been starting to pack, but October was when things really got busy as we had to finalize the packing, close on the new house and actually move in! Plus there was Apollo’s birthday, Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en.

For Apollo’s birthday, we had our usual family gatherings and then went to Wonderland for the day with a couple of friends. It was rainy so they didn’t get to wear their costumes, but they were still able to trick or treat. We didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving this year as our house was filled with boxes and it would be difficult to prepare and have a large meal.

The closing of the house went OK, although not smoothly. I took 2 days off to see this through, but lost a day due to a banking snafu. Prior to closing, we also had to run around for last minute paperwork due to another banking issue. Not sure who to blame between the bank, our lawyer and us, because there are a lot of steps in the process and I’m not sure who is responsible for the communication.

Anyways, the house closed. We started moving some stuff over and cleaned it up. We had a week, and then moved the remainder on the last Friday of the month (furniture, books, etc). I guess by the end of the month we were setup as we had to eat, work and sleep in the new house.

We didn’t do a lot of Hallowe’en activities. Aside from Wonderland earlier in the month, we did one community trick or treat on the weekend prior and then went to an indoor party on the day of. Maybe next year we will have time to decorate our house and give out candy.


I’m a fan of heist movies, it stimulates my how-things-work mentality. And I’ve always liked the style of the Ocean’s series of movies. This one is not set in a casino (and apparently Danny Ocean is dead so I must have missed a movie). It in fact follows his sister, who has recently been freed from her incarceration (for suprise, surprise, fraud). Upon getting out, she has a new plan for a masterful heist.

This time, there are only 8 people in the crew; and the twist is that they are all female. Some of the old friends show up, but they’re not pivotal in the heist. The casting is a little bit odd, with Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett as the stars, and a cast of cultural icons du jour (Rihanna as a hacker?? And Awkwafina as a thief with quick hands). No superstars, but I guess the draw was the plot itself.

A second thing that was different was that after showing the con (which, would you believe, was successful); they showed the aftermath – who took the fall and how they got away with it. That was interesting, but I wonder if it was just filler material. The movie was already short (finished in one leg of flight to NYC) so there wasn’t a lot of substance.

Overall, can’t complain – it was fun and what you expect from these types of movies. Ocean’s 8 gets a 3 out of 5.


School started back up in September, but the kids are not old enough that it is a huge deal (having to buy a lot of new binders or other supplies). For the first time in his life, Apollo went to the same school as the previous year (although the entrances & etc are different now that he is not in kindergarten anymore). Jovian switched to a “new” school too, but it’s not really new as he has been there many times while dropping Apollo off in the morning. All-in-all, things went pretty smoothly and we got into the routine pretty easily.

No extra curricular activities have started yet so weekends are still fairly free. Went to a farm, safari (zoo) and slept in to take advantage of that this month. Went on a quick trip to NYC for work but no other travel otherwise. We actually spent a lot of time packing and organizing the house after the kids went to bed so not a lot of time to do any other things.


When browsing the selection of World movies on the flight, I find that a lot of Japanese movies are relationship movies (not comedic like their Western counterparts). I suspected that The Lies She Loved might be too, but then it turned out to a couple of different things.

The movie starts by showing an “older” relationship. Usually movies are about teens or 20-somethings? This movie is about established people with stable jobs. Quickly though, the boyfriend suffers an accident and the girlfriend is left with a mystery. Apparently, the person she knew didn’t exist (in government records)! The movie then becomes a mystery film, trying to figure out who the boyfriend is.

I liked the mystery portion of the film as trying to figure out a person’s roots or history is something I am interested in. Trying to figure the boyfriend’s past also tied into a recent article I read about how DNA tests may tell you more than you want to know. Eventually they solve the mystery and ended the most interesting part of the movie.

There’s a lot of build up in this film and I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. How does the café girl tie into things? How are they going to wrap up the PI wife’s story line? Why did the boyfriend decide to hide his identity? Unfortunately, the director either doesn’t answer the questions or does it in a simplistic way. I guess I was fooled by the mystery part of the film and thought that there would be more surprises towards the end of the film. That would have earned this movie a four, but unfortunately the last 30 minutes bring it back to a 3 out of 5.