Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sandy Adventures Park

Its great that there are more ways to encourage adults to participate and enjoy the outdoors. Recently, I went to a place in the Washington DC Metro area called Sandy Adventures Park. Basically, there is ziplining and obstacle courses all up to 50 feet in the trees.






Highly recommended and is a different experience from a typical day spent with friends.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jamie Oliver Teaching Americans about Healthy Eating

I find it sad that Americans do not want to do anything about their health and obesity. Jamie Oliver went around showing American children what eggs, carrots, etc. were and the children were clueless in what these objects were. Its become sad that Americans have been eating only processed food like chicken nuggets and fish sticks. French fries constitute the vegetable intake for many Americans these days.

Do vegetable really taste that bad? I don't think so. Maybe its just the way Americans cook their vegetables.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Frustrated at Traffic

For those who get pissed off at being in an hour of traffic, take a look at traffic near Beijing recently.

Thousands of vehicles were bogged down Monday in a more than 100-kilometre (62-mile) traffic jam leading to Beijing that has lasted nine days and highlights China's growing road congestion woes. The Beijing-Tibet expressway slowed to a crawl on August 14 due to a spike in traffic by cargo-bearing heavy trucks heading to the capital, and compounded by road maintenance work that began five days later, the Global Times said.

It was said that the traffic would last until mid September. However, I'm sure that the government would do something about this. The road is a major artery for shipping goods and road construction seemed to bring traffic to a standstill. People took advantage of the traffic by selling food for higher prices.



This brings a new meaning to traffic.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

China surpasses Japan to become second largest Economy

It was recently reported that China passed Japan to become the second largest economy in the world, right behind the USA. However, a better measure of the wealth of a nation is the per capita GDP. In terms of its per capita GDP, China ($6,600) is poorer than Poland ($14,000) and nowhere near Japan ($33,000). In fact, China is in about the same place as El Salvador, when its economy is considered in the light of per capita GDP.

Having lived there, the local citizens really do not care considering their lives have not really improved that much. Granted, the infrastructure is better than most countries especially in the large cities but the quality of life still is not very good. Because of the costs of living in cities such as Shanghai, many people spend their free time sleeping or watching tv, instead of pursuing other interests such as sports, photography, etc.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

LG Rumor Touch by Virgin Mobile Review

After using the phone for 2 months, I think the phone is great considering the value and functionality. Just a few gripes with the phone but considering I pay $25 a month for 300 minutes  (no freebies) and unlimited web and texting, I can't complain. This phone/plan is obviously not for those who spend a lot of time on their phones downloading mobile applications. Note this is my second phone but Virgin Mobile sent me a new one. The first phone's screen wouldn't turn on anymore for some reason.

Issues with the phone:
1. When using the media player, all other functions cannot be used unless the media player is closed.
2. I haven't taken a lot of photos with my camera yet but for some reason I can zoom with the camcorder but not the camera.
3. The email + IM program closes after a while and only occasionally informs you when a new message has arrived.
4. Emails with attachments cannot be downloaded.
5. Youtube access is spotty.

I usually just use the phone to make phone calls, text and occasionally IM + email so this phone is sufficient enough for me. I use the web to surf if I'm bored but that is usually a rare situation. There is also Google Maps on this so I use it as a GPS from time to time.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Global warming

There was a tornado in the DC Metro area with some pretty impressive lightning storm. Rivers were flowing in the highway and this was nothing compared to what has been seen in the Gansu province of China and Pakistan. We need to step up the initiative to save the environment. Otherwise, we'll all be underwater from the ice caps melting.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Verizon Never Fails to Amaze

Yes with their poor customer service. Since the company is so silo-ed, I keep getting transferred between departments to resolve issues.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

LG Rumor Touch by Virgin Mobile

I decided to go with a Virgin Mobile smartphone with touch screen. The service is cheap at only $25 a month and it gives unlimited web and data. The catch is there is only 300 minutes of talk during the month. I don't normally use the phone often so this is ok.

The other catch is that I can't really download many apps to the phone. I have the basic email/chat program which has a few kinks here and there but its serviceable. It has a web browser and google maps. THen there is the regular stuff most smart phones come preloaded such as calendar, contacts, texting, camera and mp3 player with a memory slot.

I've used it for a month now and although I wish I could download new fonts to it such as adding Chinese font capabilities, I can't really complain for $25 a month. It beats the costs of the Sprint Evo and the Verizon Pro Touch 2 which would have been $200+ with a 2 year contract of about $100 a month with tax. The Virgin Mobile Plans are not with a contract and the phone was roughly $150. I think its a good deal.

If you're wondering about service? Its basically using Sprint's network so if Sprint works in your neighborhood, this should work too.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Genetic food

The Food and Drug Administration is seriously considering whether to approve the first genetically engineered animal that people would eat — salmon that can grow at twice the normal rate. Is this supposed to be good for people?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cellphone costs

For the past 5 months I was using a pay as you go dumbphone, waiting for the new phones to come out. I saw the Incredible come out for Verizon and the latest launch of the Evo by Sprint. Both of them have awesome technical specifications. I even tried out the HTC Pro Touch 2 before I got pissed off at Verizon and just returned it. All the phones seem to have horrible battery life. I suppose I am still used to not charging my phone for 5 days. These phones need to be charged at least a couple of times a day. I guess the solar bookbags are going to be in higher demand now so that phones can be charged on the go, although they probably wouldn't be able to charge the phone at a rate faster than its usage.

Although all these phones are really nice, I still found that paying all these plans require about $100 a month (data plan + talking + taxes). Maybe its a bit of sticker shock since my plans have always been about $40 including taxes. Would I really be spending that much time on a cellphone and do I really need to be that connected to the internet? Probably not. I spend about 10 hours a day in front of a pc already.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Boycotting BP is not the right target

I know I have been saying that I will not fill up at BP anymore because of the Gulf disaster. However, they aren't the appropriate target we should inflict are anger on. We should really be upset at the government for passing lax regulations under the pressure of lobbyists and the donors who helped them raised their campaign funds.

Boycotting BP will not really affect their bottom line since today, BP owns only about 100 of the 900 or so gas stations bearing its name. The rest are operated by independent business owners. Such a boycott would hurt the individual owners. And really, we do not have many more choices. ExxonMobil is also one of the nation's biggest polluters in the world and Chevron has been denying responsibility for its role in an environmental catastrophe in the Amazon.

Obama has rightly suspended offshore lease sales, but he continues to promote a deeply counterproductive energy policy — on Thursday, during a news conference discussing the administration's response to the spill, he touted a Senate climate bill that would provide massive financial incentives to states that open their coasts to drilling, thus making a repeat of the spill more likely. Those provisions have to go. It's in Washington, not London, where protesters should make their voices heard. Sprint Evo

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Olympics 2012 Mascots

Have you seen the new mascots that were just unveiled by London for 2012? One looks like a maxi pad and both of them look like penises... The photo below are the two mascots for the Special Olympics and the regular Olympics. They were unveiled in front of a rainbow too.. the universal sign for gay...
Cellphone Sprint Evo

Saturday, May 15, 2010

School Killings

Recently, there has been a trend of people killing elementary school children in China with knives. It has been suggested that this is due to the social unrest with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Also, with politicians and government officials using their power to take advantage of the civilians, these killers seem to be turning to people who cannot defend themselves to get the attention of the government. Recently, Wenjia Bao has responded so maybe this method seems to have gotten the attention of the officials. Whether anything is done is another story though.

In the US and other countries, these kinds of killings seem to be more brutal because the violence is started with a gun. Because of this, they seem to get more press than the killings of schoolchildren in China. It could also be that China tries to repress such news from leaking out of China.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Networking

Being in China, it seems to me that local Chinese white-collared workers are almost stuck with their careers once they begin it. When I say that, I mean that it seems difficult to go from a job in finance to a job in marketing. Although there are many skills that can be transferable, it just seems to be something that is very rare. In the States, I always see people move from accounting to marketing or from project manager to sales but not the case in China.

At first glance, people may think that it is due to the fact that China has too many people and companies would rather hire someone with the perfect skill set but in reality, China has a shortage of skilled people and sometimes may need to hire outside the perfect person. I think a big reason that the people in the US are able to change career paths is due to their openness to network with other people. The Chinese do not network as much.

It may be strange to think that considering that guanxi (relationships) is so important in China. However, there are not really networking events that local Chinese people participate in. When I was there, there would be many universities setting up mixers and also having seminars, mostly for people to network and find jobs. However, this concept is new to the local Chinese. They do have job fairs but these are insanely over crowded and you may only have 5-10 minutes to speak to the recruiter in which you barely have a chance to make an impression. They mainly ask, can you speak English, do you know how to do x, y and z. It seems to me that at these recruiting events, they are also looking for the perfect candidates. Maybe its because companies in China do not want to spend the time training. I didn't get much of a training when I went there so its a possibility.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Booger eating

According to Austrian lung specialist Dr. Friedrich Bischinger, picking your nose and eating what you find is one of the best (and most inexpensive) ways of staying healthy. The doc goes on to say that people who pick their noses with their fingers were healthier, happier and probably better in-tune with their bodies. "With the finger you can get to places you just can't reach with a handkerchief, keeping your nose far cleaner," adds Dr. Bischinger. "Modern medicine is constantly trying to do the same thing through far more complicated methods, people who pick their nose and eat it get a natural boost to their immune system for free."

I'm not really here to take sides on the matter. I'm here rather to show that there is, in fact, another side to the issue which rarely anyone thinks actually exists. But since our nose hairs or nasal cilia trap dirt, germs and other junk which then form snot, wouldn't this be similar to eating dust and dirt? Anyway, for those who get sick often, this activity is inexpensive and I suppose it couldn't hurt to try. Happy picking.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Where has the service gone?

Considering that the United States is supposed to be known as a service country, it has some of the worst customer service when it comes to telecommunications companies. Granted, when I was in China, the customer service was not great either with China Telecom. Maybe telecommunicaton companies all over the world have horrible service since they know users only have a couple of choices. Its more of choosing the less of all evils I suppose.

I purchased a Verizon cellphone that was to be of global use. When I received it, I popped in my China Mobile simcard and the phone kept complaining. I called Verizon and the customer service representative said that in order for the feature to work, it would need to be active with Verizon for 60 days. I told them, where in the world did it say this on the website. She said in a condescending tone that if I called an agent, she would have told you. I replied, "that is a very specific question to ask and I doubt that an agent would readily even know that or even provide me with that information without asking." She basically said there is nothing she could do even when I asked to be transferred to her supervisor.

Essentially, a rule is a rule. It really didn't matter that we've been using Verizon at home for the past 10 years (more on this story later). In response, I said, well I'm going to return the phone then since I have 30 days. Her attitude was of indifference and she said, you can send it back in the box you received it in. I sent an email to them hoping that they would change their stance and unlock it for me but I got the same response. I even got a nice voice message from a representative saying that its written in the customer agreement. However, I looked and it is of course ambiguous language that basically allows them to do whatever they want. Fine print: we reserve the right to do what we want.

Fast forward to the day I am going to cancel the phone and the customer service representative says she is surprised because we could have asked the credit department to unlock the phone for you after doing a credit check. I already had enough of their shannanigans so I just cancelled the phone on the spot and mailed the phone back. A couple of days later, the loyalty department calls me to ask why I cancelled. Of course she is deeply sorry and that is probably embedded into their scripts on every other line. But she did offer free or discounted phones and I replied, isn't that what you can find on the website? Sensing that I was not too happy, I think she pulled out her final card and said we can also give you three months of service free.

Of course I couldn't make the decision right there on the spot, but its nice to know I can get three free months of service from Verizon now. This all could have been avoided if they just simply treated me nicely on customer service and unlocked my phone. Honestly, I do not understand the issue since I was already going to pay for Verizon service. Now they may either be out $300 due to free service or potentially 24 months of service that I could have been paying for.

It seems that the departments at Verizon are silo-ed and just work as different companies. This is not a surprise to me as I've gone to many different companies to see their operations and it really amazes me that many are still in business. For instance, the company will pay several millions of dollars and then find that a department pays a good chunk of change to undo what was originally done. Sprint Evo 4g

Monday, May 3, 2010

Signs in China

Similar to the Beijing Olympics, there was an exercise in China to ensure that signs in Shanghai made sense in English. I still remember going to the bank and seeing the sign for the Cash Recycling Machine and being confused because most people there actually do call it the ATM. I did not find the more insulting signs such as the "fatso" size for a extra large that someone did tell me about. However, I did on many accounts find signs that I read and just stared at cluelessly because I had no idea what it meant. Luckily for me, I was able to read the Chinese and make some sense of it.

One of the signs seen in Shanghai above, would have gotten a say what??

With China placing such a deep emphasis on saving face, they are trying to get rid of all these signs that are either hard to understand or are just plain funny. They do not want to lose face by getting laughed at. However, I enjoy seeing these signs. It just lets me know that I'm either not in America or I'm in a Chinatown.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Virginia Gold Cup

I went to the Virginia Gold Cup yesterday which is sort of like Virginia's version of the Kentucky Derby but with horse racing around some grassy track and also a special jack russell race. For anyone who has ever been there, its really not to see the racing but to be seen. Its people watching and the girls getting glammed up for a day in the sun and drinking. People tailgate and just having fun with their friends. It was a fun day but I don't really get why its such a big event. Its has a very country club feel to it, meaning its a very white thing to do.

To picture it, think of the Pretty Woman scene where Julia Roberts goes to the horse event and gets hit on by Jason Alexander. The event was entertaining and I did have fun seeing all the weird things some of the guys wore and the tight dresses that the girls wore. I even got to watch two of the races.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Suburbanization

Suburbization is a term used to describe the growth of areas on the fringes of major cities. I do believe this is only an American phenomenon because I had a difficult time trying to describe what suburbs are in Chinese. Suburbs are one of the many causes of the increase in urban sprawl. Many residents of metropolitan areas no longer live and work within the central urban area, choosing instead to live in satellite communities called suburbs and commute to work via automobile or mass transit. 

I am currently in one of the suburbs near Washington D.C. and I'll have to say that I prefer cities a lot more since people do have the choice to not drive and just walk. I do like driving but I only drive in NYC because I don't live in an area where public transportation is convenient. I think it is nice to look at a photo and know that is where I live. In the suburbs, I do not really have the choice due to the lack of sidewalks and all the shopping plazas.

There really is not a sense of character, history or culture associated with the suburbs. In fact, if someone was dropped into several suburbs, he/she would not be able to differentiate one from the other or even tell where they were. There are no buildings that are unique or special in architecture. I suppose a person could figure out that they are in one of the 18 states that has the Piggly Wiggly if they happened to see one..

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Going back in time

One of the great things about the US is that we can do a lot of things extremely quickly due to the web and phone. If I wanted to cancel a bank account or stop my CD from rolling over again, I could do that from the phone or the web. When I was in China, some of the things that were required did not make sense.

For instance, I had to cancel internet services on behalf of my girlfriend. The telecommunications company does not allow you to cancel by phone or web so it must be done in person. In order to cancel the service, you need to bring your identification card. However, if you are canceling on behalf of someone, you need to bring their identification plus yours. For me that would mean, bringing my passport. I assume that they are afraid that someone would want to cancel internet on behalf of someone else for a malicious reason. I do not know why someone want to or would have the time to do that considering that some of the lines take a couple of hours (everything is paper so it takes forever). Anyway, I only had her ID and not mine. The customer service representative would not let me cancel the internet service without my passport. I showed her all the other ID that I had but since they did not recognize things like my drivers license, etc it did not matter. They said there was nothing she could do without an ID.

I turned around and asked the person behind me in line if I could use her ID. She handed it over to me and voila, internet cancelled. Such pain!! Experiences like that just make you appreciate how easy it is to take care of things in the United States.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Television Series

I've been watching Chuck recently and its actually a pretty funny show. Chuck centers around Chuck Bartowski, an "average computer-whiz-next-door," who receives an encoded e-mail from an old college friend now working in the CIA; the message embeds the only remaining copy of the world's greatest spy secrets into Chuck's brain.

I was thinking that such shows would not exist in China due to the fact that it is given a comedic way of depicting a government agency. In China, there aren't any ways to depict the government that are allowed even if they are truthful. In fact, one of the television series that I watched called "Dwelling Narrowness" (if you want the name in Chinese, let me know), where they couldn't even use the city of Shanghai since they were afraid that someone in the government would feel that it was portraying someone in the government. "Dwelling Narrowness" is about the story of people trying to purchase a home in Shanghai and struggling due to the huge price increases of housing and what the development companies would do for the corrupt officials.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

First day of spring

It was a beautiful day for the first day of spring in 2010 and it seemed like there were a lot of New Yorkers out to enjoy the sun. A couple of friends and I drove to Bear Mountain to do some hiking and enjoy some fresh air. Its unfortunate that a lot of New Yorkers do not do activities like that more often considering the mountains are not that far away. Maybe its all the tolls that we have to pay but some places are only about an hour away in NY.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Birth rates dropping in many countries

In many countries like Korea, Taiwan, China, Singapore and the United States, the fertility rates have dropped. China had the one child policy but many couples in big cities have implemented their own no-child policy.  Governments in Taiwan, Korea and Singapore have been urging people to have more children. Singapore has passed legislation to rewards the Chinese to have kids. Many people point to the cost of having a baby for reasons not to have one. Nowadays, many couples have dual incomes and feel that they will decide to have a baby only when they earn enough to sustain their current living standards. The younger generation have grown accustomed to spending their money traveling to different countries, eating at fancy restaurants and buying fancy clothes. Unfortunately, the more one earns and/or saves, the higher living standards rise as well. In addition, some couples do not want to lose the freedoms of enjoying their life traveling and playing which may need to be sacrificed when raising children.

Parents in the past generation were able to raise two to three children while only on a single income. Has the cost of living increased so much that couples today are unable to raise the children? Granted things have become more expensive but its mostly because the parents have made things more expensive. Parents want to get the most expensive toys and newest things to raise their children. However, is it really necessary? Children before played with hula hoops and played tag in the park. Maybe babies are just that much expensive because the parents make it that way. Granted, it is probably extremely difficult not to want the best for your children.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Spoiled children in China

I wonder what will happen to the future of China considering what the one child policy has done to how the children are treated. Since the late 1970s, large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai implemented the one child policy in response to concerns about the social and economic consequences of continued rapid population growth. However, this has caused the birth of the little emperor or empress of many families. With one child whom the parents and grandparents put their hopes and dreams on, they end up spoiling the kid. Part of this is due to the schooling system in China. Since schools are extremely competitive, children end up studying the entire day there without any time for other activities that American children have to luxury of participating in.

Kids in the United States grow up playing soccer, basketball, throwing paper airplanes, chores, etc. and as a result have many different hobbies when they grow up. On the contrary, the children in China only study. Their prime responsibility is to do well in school since the school system is so rigorous. Due to this, the grandparents and the parents end up doing everything for the little emperor/empress. Simple chores that American kids are usually required to do such as washing dishes, laundry, mowing the lawn are not performed by Chinese. As a result, many have grown up not knowing how to cook, clean the house, etc. Because of this, I wonder what will happen after the parents are gone and the emperors who are married to the empresses have to fend for themselves and also raise their child.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Clipping finger nails

When I was in China, it was normal to see or hear people clipping their finger nails in public on the bus or even at work. I am sure that Americans do this as well but I believe most people in the US find this extremely unhygienic, especially since sometimes these finger nails go flying off like a piece of shrapnel. Finger nails are usually not known to be exactly clean since dirt usually gets caught under them. Aside from the occasional broken nail or hang nail, I do not think clipping finger nails should be done in public. I'm not sure if this is considered to be one of the "rules" here such as standing in line though. Do others feel the same way?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Medical Privacy

Going to the doctors in China is quite strange only because there really is no sense of privacy. Essentially, it feels like being on line at the DMV in the US where everyone can hear and see whats going on. For instance, if you wanted to get your skin checked out due to some allergic reaction, there would be many other patients waiting on line in the same room so everyone there would see what was going on.

This is unlike the United States where you get your own little tiny room to wait in before they perform the check up. The doctors even ask if it is okay if the nurse can be in the same room as well.

It reminds me of how there is no privacy in China. I remember watching a Chinese movie (I don't remember the name of it) where a boy had his mail opened by his parents and he complained that there was no privacy. They just laughed.

Friday, February 26, 2010

When will the snow end...

This snow storm is insane. There is about 3 feet of snow and its heavy snow since its wet snow coming down. Apparently, the snow is coming down until Sunday. That is 4 straight days of snow.

The snow system started in New Jersey, went through NYC and out to Long Island. Then decided to come back to New Jersey and do a round trip. I guess the storm just doesn't want to leave any part uncovered.


I hear there is another snow system coming in next weekend.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Banks attempting to force Greece to default

Bets by some of the same banks that helped Greece shroud its mounting debts may actually now be pushing the nation closer to the brink of financial ruin.

Echoing the kind of trades that nearly toppled the American International Group, the increasingly popular insurance against the risk of a Greek default is making it harder for Athens to raise the money it needs to pay its bills, according to traders and money managers.These contracts, known as credit-default swaps, effectively let banks and hedge funds wager on the financial equivalent of a four-alarm fire: a default by a company or, in the case of Greece, an entire country. If Greece reneges on its debts, traders who own these swaps stand to profit.

As Greece’s financial condition has worsened, undermining the euro, the role of Goldman Sachs and other major banks in masking the true extent of the country’s problems has drawn criticism from European leaders. But even before that issue became apparent, a little-known company backed by Goldman, JP Morgan Chase
and about a dozen other banks had created an index that enabled market players to bet on whether Greece and other European nations would go bust. 

Its things like this that give bankers a bad reputation. It seems that they are attempting to force an entire country to go bankrupt in order to profit. With the global economy still struggling to recover, a country that defaults would delay any global recovery. It seems that the bankers are only looking out for themselves and trying to put bonuses into their pockets again. This time, at the expense of another country. 

I do not know what happened with the bailout since it seemed that 2 weeks ago, Germany agreed to help with. It seems that it is under question again.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Iphone apps removed from the Apple Apps store

In continuation of my last point, Apple has started banning many applications, like the Wobble Iboob, for its iPhone that feature sexually suggestive material, including photos of women in bikinis and lingerie, a move that came as an abrupt surprise to developers who had been profiting from such programs. Guess it just goes to show that when you piggyback off another platform to make money, you are at the mercy of their policies. It can be a good way to make money but one never knows when a policy could change that good flow of income. Facebook application creators often face this as Facebook is constantly changing their layout.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wobble Iboob

I am still amazed by the creativity over some of the applications that people make. Since Facebook and the Iphone became a hot commodity, there have been many applications created or accessories for them. This has been a huge market for some people of untapped revenue.

I came across an application that I found pretty creativity. Its quite useless and is just for entertainment's sake called the Wobble Iboob. I think the name of the application tells you what it does.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Feeling lonely?

The Shanghai marriage market takes place on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from about noon to three. It is found just inside gate 5 of People’s Square Park, 75 Nanjing Xi Lu., across from the Grand Theater.

At the marriage market, parents, with or without their children’s consent, arrange meetings, dates and potential matches for their kids. Some children, often too busy working to devote time to meeting a soul mate, accept their parents' help. But its not easy even for a parent, and many also employ matchmakers. In addition, many Shanghainese women are extremely picky about the men they would date. Stereotypes say that they are usually very strong-minded,  stubborn and materialistic. Due to Shanghai being one of the richest cities in China, it has been often said that Shanghainese women require that the men own an apartment and a car before even considering them. With the latest housing boom, housing costs are extremely high and many men cannot afford a place to purchase. Thus, reducing their opportunities to find true love and marriage. It's quite unfortunate for many of these men.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Curling the Olympic event

I suppose I can understand why curling is an Olympic event this year since the events are in Vancouver. However, how did curling get into the Olympics in the first place. I cannot believe they took softball out of the Olympics in 2012 but curling is considered an event.

To me, it seems like a bar game on ice. Most people know this game as shuffleboard. These games will be played for 12 days during the Olympics. Thats 12 out of the 14 total days which the Olympics happen. How much athletic fitness do you really have to be in to participate in this event. I hear that one of the competitors is 5 months pregnant. I can't imagine any other event where someone could be 5 months pregnant and competing.

For those that do not know about curling, I've posted a video for your education. Notice how the lady says its similar to darts. We might as well add that into the Olympics.

Cure for sex addiction

The term "sexual addiction" is used to describe the behavior of a person who has an unusually intense sex drive or an obsession with sex. Sex and the thought of sex tend to dominate the sex addict's thinking, making it difficult to work or engage in healthy personal relationships.

Treatment of sexual addiction focuses on controlling the addictive behavior and helping the person develop a healthy sexuality. Treatment includes education about healthy sexuality, individual counseling, and marital and/or family therapy. Support groups and 12 step recovery programs for people with sexual addictions (like Sex Addicts Anonymous) also are available. In some cases, medications used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder may be used to curb the compulsive nature of the sex addiction. 

With so many public figures lately accused of being sex addicts, Tiger Woods and Steve Phillips being some of them, I am curious about how effective these counselings to "cure" sex addiction. This seems to be the only addictions where you do not stop cold turkey. Gambling, drug, alcohol addictions all require you to stay away from these vices. However, for sex, you are actually encouraged to have it but only in a healthy manner. I wonder what kind of treatment that they are giving to Tiger Woods now to cure his problem.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

High speed rails

In a car driven culture like the United States, will a high speed rail be profitable enough to not become defunct? Amtrak lost money on 41 of its 45 train lines in 2008. I hope Obama knows what he is talking about with his endeavor to build these throughout the country. I am assuming his proposal is to reduce our dependence on cars and buses for transportation and the possibility of oil prices spiking as this natural resource becomes depleted.

If oil becomes more expensive and low-carbon technologies are given a push because of concerns about global warming, we would be able to see an increase in travel via trains especially since flying seems to be becoming more of a hassle. China has been purchasing these high speed trains as they are rapidly expanding their train system to make travel more accessible within the country. China is about the same size as the United States too.
China, Europe and Japan have been using high speed rails for years so it is possible that this can be used as a preferred method of travel.  I think the biggest problem is due to our city layouts. Not too many cities within the United States are pedestrian friendly or public transportation friendly. Have you tried taking public transportation in Los Angeles? Its pretty awful, mostly because not enough people use it. And many cities do not have taxi cabs just roaming the streets like NYC.

In China, the Chinese are not as reliant on cars as Americans are and most cities do have their fair share of taxis for cheap prices. In Europe, the cities are extremely pedestrian friendly and the train stations are usually located in convenient places. In addition their cities have public transportation making it easy to get around. Japan also has a good public transportation system outside Toyko if you can understand Japanese.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Safety for sports

I may not know much about the sport of luging but when I saw the course with its metal pylons, I thought to myself, did anyone not think of putting padding on them before the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili. Only after someone died did they decide to put some padding on them. For a sport that is as dangerous as it looks, with lugers speeding at over 80 mph on a piece of metal, one may have figured to perform some safety checks and reduce any risks of injuries.

Its unfortunate that simple things like padding is not put on walls where people may crash into. This occurred when Aaron Rowand of the Philadelphia Phillies dove into the wall to catch a flyball and broke his nose. The wall was pure metal. Luckily, padding was put on afterwards. I am guessing that the designers felt that the padding took away from the aesthetics of the overall look of the baseball field.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bait and Switch

In retail sales, a bait and switch is a form of fraud in which the party putting forth the fraud lures in customers by advertising a product or service at an unprofitably low price, then reveals to potential customers that the advertised good is not available but that a substitute is. 

For some reason, this rule does not apply to real estate. Agents can show on a beautiful home on their realty website for a affordable or cheaper price in order to entice potential buyers to contact them. However, usually what will happen is that the home will be "just sold". This was a common occurrence in China and it also happens in the United States. It just goes to show that if there are no laws to prevent something, people will attempt to take advantage of it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Undeveloped countries and their garbage habits

As with every developing nation, they will go through their troubles to regulate pollution. Since there are many uneducated people in these nations, they do not know the ramifications of dumping garbage. I have seen this in Peru, Cambodia, India and China. In other developed countries such as Australia, Germany, England, Japan, garbage on the ground is hardly seen. The United States, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. It might be the cause of too many uneducated immigrants or just uneducated people.

When I was in China, I would often see people throw trash on the ground to their hearts' content. I talked to some Chinese friends about this, they replied that sooner or later street cleaners would pick up the garbage. “Besides,” they joked, “it gives the street cleaners something to do and a job.” 

That is true that under-appreciated and underpaid cleaners do eventually pick up the trash. I have seen them at work. Rain or shine, every morning they get up very early, often before 5:00 am, and pick up seemingly tons of trash and sweep the streets. Often before 7:00 am, when most people are just waking up, the streets are already clean. Nevertheless, my friends’ logic is flawed. 

If I were to arbitrarily throw trash on the floor in the home of a friend, it would be a sign of disrespect, and that friend would most deservedly give me a tongue-lashing or even show me the door, and rightfully so. In the same way, throwing trash on public ground is also very disrespectful, because public property is owned by all of society, not just by one person. In addition, littering makes an area look trashy and dirty. Sometimes it can even make a place smelly. A trashy, dirty, and smelly environment is not a harmonious and well-off one.  

I have witnessed the following situation on buses: Some people throw some garbage on the ground, and the ticket seller admonishes them, telling them to open the window and throw the trash outside! So I guess the trash bags that often hang near the doors of the buses are just for decoration.

I have also seen car drivers when driving, open their windows and throw empty cups or garbage outside. Why not just keep the trash in your car and dispose of it later? Most of the time when you buy some food or drink, it comes with a bag. Use the bag to store your garbage until you can properly dispose of it.. I have also seen people open the doors of their restaurants and just throw out dirty napkins. Basically, the thinking is as long as its not in my house, its not my problem.

When you throw something you want onto the ground, you are behaving like a baby or a spoiled brat. That is what a baby does: throw things it doesn’t want onto the ground. Because it doesn’t know any better. Now spoiled brats just do whatever they want, whether they know better or not. When they don’t want something, they just throw it on the ground, and let others do the work. Now I am sure that most of the people who litter in China are neither a baby nor a spoiled brat. So why act like one? 

Recent reports have shown that the waterways of China are extremely polluted. Regardless of the number of people picking up trash, some of the trash will end up in the waterways. The government should attempt to enforce those who just throw trash on the ground to keep it clean. Besides, China is all about having face and impressing foreigners. The World Expo is around the corner. With all the foreigners coming into Shanghai, they should start "teaching" the citizens not to throw trash on the ground.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Welcome to fascism

Mussolini  said that fascism was "rule by corporations". It seems that the United States is headed towards that direction as well. The Supreme Court struck down some key provisions of landmark campaign finance legislation in a move experts agree paves the way for more corporate money to enter the political system.

In a 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the Court's majority threw out sections of the legislation that bans corporations and labor unions from funding some political advertisements. Corporations and unions may fund those communications out of their general treasuries, overturning earlier rulings that had divided individual and corporate expenditures into different categories. The politicians are already basically making decisions on behalf of these huge corporations who give them huge donations and now they are not limiting the amounts that can be contributed. With that it seems like our country will be run with the interests of the corporations. and possibly a country heading towards fascism.

Shown in the right we have some "warning signs". Notice how we already have some of the "early warning signs of fascism". Corporate power is protected and obsession with national security. The citizens of the United States need to take back the government and make our opinions heard to our congressmen so they are acting for the people instead of allowing corporations to run the country.

Saints are going to Disney World

Congratulations to the Saints in winning the Super Bowl. The team that has never won a Super Bowl just added one to its history. It is a storybook ending considering that New Orleans has not had much to cheer about since Hurricane Katrina. The victory gives the people some excitement and pride for their own city.

Even in misery and sadness, sports is an important way of keeping spirits up. Professional baseball lifted spirits after 9-11 as well helping us temporarily forget reality. It gave people a sense of normalcy.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Its the end of the world as we know it

I remember seeing this little sketch back in 2003 but I still find it hilarious. Also, I find it funny that they put a Japanese flag when they mention China. I don't know if it was on purpose but I'm sure a lot of the Chinese would be pissed off since they hate Japan after the whole Nanjing incident.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

China the place to go for opportunity?

Jim Rogers recently said, “In 1807, if you were smart you went to Paris. In 1907, if you were smart, you went to New York. And, in 2007, if you were smart you went to China.”

It used to be that the US was called the land of opportunity. However, with the US in such a huge deficit and still trying to recover after the financial wreck arrived, opportunities may be in China. However, I think before that happens, the income of the Chinese people needs to increase either through an increase in the valuation of the RMB or the actual salaries that they receive.

I only say that because many people from China still try to come to the United States in their hopes of striking it big. These people are able to live off a meager salary in the States and still have money leftover to send back to China. Many people here would think $200 USD to $300 USD is a drop in the bucket but in China that would be about 1400 to 2000 RMB which could be used to fully sustain an entire family in the 2nd tier cities of China. Also, the living standards are much higher in the United States since the laws to protect against dumping and ruining the air quality is much more stringent here which may be the reason why many Chinese citizens still want to migrate to the States.

I doubt that salaries in China would increase quickly enough since many companies would be unwilling to raise the salaries. This would affect the bottom lines of the companies. However, salaries in 1st tier cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou) will probably see increases in salaries more quickly as living standards are much high compared. Other cities would most likely have to wait much longer to see increases in salaries.

The Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington has estimated that the yuan is undervalued by about 30 percent against all world currencies and about 40 percent against the dollar. I'm not sure when that would occur though since the Chinese government is trying to hold the existing exchange rates in order to A) allow China to have a price advantage in the manufacturing area B) recoup the loan that it provided to the US. It seems that if the Chinese government allowed the RMB to attain a value based on the predicted market rates of the Peterson Institute, China would lose the pricing advantage and it would lose a lot of money due to the money it lent to the United States. In doing so, this would cause internal issues for the billions of people in its country as many manufacturing plants would probably close causing hundreds of riots. Riots have already occurred due to the global recession which closed many plants in 2009.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Groundhog's Day

After enduring this frigid winter, we put our hopes that the groundhog would predict that spring would be arriving. As tradition says in Western cultures, if a groundhog sees its shadow, it will become spooked and head back into its hole; thus giving us a prediction of 6 more weeks of winter. On the other hand, if there is no shadow, it will mean that spring is arriving. Unfortunately, he saw his shadow and we will have more cold weather. He also predicted 10 more years of deficit for the US. :(

Euro in trouble?

There have been rumors that the Euro was going to take over the US Dollar as the global currency. However, with the entire issues that Greece is going through, I'm not sure if it can be dependable as a global currency. I think this squashes any ideas of people wanting one world currency or even seeing an Asia currency.

Even though the euro is wondrously convenient for travelers and international businesses, there's one catch: Fiscal discipline is up to each participating country, and Greece has not been disciplined. It is running a deficit of nearly 13 percent of total output, more than four times the nominal limit for countries using the euro. Its national debt is almost double the permitted limit. With its credit rating sharply downgraded, Greece must pay a stiff premium to finance that deficit. Since the Euro is shared across countries, Greece does not have the control to print more currency as it wishes, which is what other countries such as what occurs in the U.S. and China. Also other countries such as Germany seem to be ignoring Greece and acting as if it is not their problem.

If there is one world currency or an Asian currency, we would most likely have many issues similar to what is mentioned. From a world economic standpoint, I hope that this all gets resolved since another economic fiasco would cause a huge effect on the world economy.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's been so coooold here in NY.....

that my pecker fell off...

Yes, it has been that cold. The last week it has felt like 10 degrees F. Normally, it usually only feels cold because of the wind but right now its just cold. Wind or not! Maybe I do need that snookie after all.

I hope everyone stays bundled up. Its brutal outside. On the bright side, its supposed to warm up a bit by the end of the week here in NY.

It is also almost Groundhog's Day in 2 days. Let's see what it has to say... not that it really means anything.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tattoos that big of a deal?

I was going through some photos of Li Na since she did not seem so muscular looking during the Beijing Olympics. I came across this photo where someone had to show that Li Na had a tattoo. Now this is probably the most unflattering photo that they could find with her returning a ball. Couldn't they find another photo to illustrate that she had a tattoo instead of using this one? Yeah, WTF.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Lobbyists affecting legislation

Many people have indicated that Obama's speech sounded like a broken record with promises he made during his campaign. I cannot say I would put a lot of blame on him as a lot of the decision making is at the congressional side. With all the lobbyists from the healthcare industry and the banking industry making campaign donations, no wonder it takes forever for any of bills to be passed. The only things that seem to be easy to pass are laws to wiretap terrorists or anything against terrorists. The reason for that is probably because terrorists do not have lobbyists.

If terrorists threw campaign money at these politicians, maybe even those kinds of laws would be difficult to pass. (Note: That was a sarcastic statement.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Machu Picchu flooded

Since most of the attention is on Haiti and rightfully so, considering the number of people the earthquake has effected, I wanted to bring attention about the flooding occurring in Machu Picchu these past couple of days. Having been there and seeing the beauty of the Incan ruins I hope nothing detrimental happens so that people in the future can enjoy the structures built hundreds of years ago.

From CNN: Peruvian officials said they plan to evacuate between 800 and 1,000 more tourists trapped near the famous Inca ruins at Machu Picchu. Heavy rains unleashed mudslides that have cut off roads and blocked a rail line, trapping many in the area.Authorities have estimated that 10,000 people have been affected by the rain and 2,000 homes were ruined in and around Machu Picchu. News reports said at least seven people have died in the region. Trade and Tourism Minister Martin Perez said 595 tourists were evacuated by helicopter Wednesday. He said he hopes to get more out of the area Thursday. See more.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Banks and their responsibilities


Obama indicated that there should be a tax on the banks that benefited from the TARP program after the whole public outcry when it was announced that the employees would be receiving huge bonuses. This might not be a popular post for bankers since a lot of them have indicated that the help was paid back with interest and that they did not need the money in the first place. However, the country could not afford another collapse of another financial institution, especially after the falls of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers.

Obama in providing this TARP bailout (with minimal interest) to the banks was an attempt to trigger the U.S. economy. He was hoping for the banks to provide loans to smaller businesses and resuscitate the job market, creating a trickle down effect. In turn though, the banks took this money and loaned it to other big businesses who then repaid off their other loans which were at higher interest rate and gave it right back to the banks. The banks earned the difference in interest and not wanting to be restrained by the terms from TARP, paid it back to the government. Consequently, they earned the differences in the interest rates and it was a win-win situation for the banks and the big businesses who are able to show off their pretty financial statements now.

Who are the losers? Everyone else and small businesses who are unable to get any financing. What Obama said during the State of the Union address has some reasoning though and was very direct. Banks should help out the country if they are able to offer big bonuses. Let's hope that the banks do not get creative and start transferring their profits to other countries with lower tax rates in order to make their financial statements prettier. Some may say this looks like communism in the making but maybe in this economic recession, we all need to band together to help each other and improve the state of the country.

State system for sports



I've been watching the Australian Open and for first time since Michael Chang, Asians being very competitive in the sport. Li Na and Zhang Jie from China are both in the semi-finals. These athletes are all products of China's state-sponsored sport system. I have heard from people that China is cheating by basically producing these stars.


The government began to emphasize sport as a form of nationalism; a way for citizens to bring global honor to their country. Thus, it created state-sponsored athletic facilities in which both males and females trained from an early age to become competitive athletes.

After Beijing won the right to host the 2008 Olympics, the country's State General Administration of Sports unveiled a Cabinet-approved policy called "Winning pride at the Olympics." The program built on China's long-standing "Gold-medal strategy" of targeting sports that offer the most Olympic golds because of different weight classes or race lengths such as weight lifting, fencing and canoeing. It didn't matter that most Chinese knew nothing of these sports. The point was to accumulate gold medals. China targeted  women's sports since facilities and resources are usually given to men in other countries. As a result, women's sports, which tend to receive less funding in the West, received a cash infusion. Around the same time, the nation's athletics czars started the "119 project," which aimed for success in the few remaining disciplines in which the country was still weak.

This philosophy of equal access for male and female athletes throughout modern Chinese sport history contrasts with the struggle of American female athletes to receive the same treatment and recognition as their male counterparts. Historically, sport in the U.S. has been seen as an inherently masculine pursuit and consequently women have not been able to participate in sport the same way as men. For example, though women have participated in each Olympiad since 1900, it took decades for American women to be permitted to compete in Olympic sports other than those deemed “socially acceptable” such as archery and tennis. These sports are slowly becoming more acceptable for American women to compete in and unlike China, American women do have the choice of free will to select a sport they enjoy.

It is obvious that China and the United States have vastly different sports systems in place. The Chinese government controls the access to and training of elite athletes throughout the country. The United States, on the other hand, allows athletes to self-select their sport of choice and to fund their own participation. While each country obviously operates a very different sport system, the question that arises for many is whether or not one system is better than the other. Many sensibilities would say that the United States system of free choice is the better of the two. However, the other side could be argued as well. China continues to produce highly competitive athletes and many of these athletes come from impoverished families in distant villages who would probably have lived a struggling life. Instead they have the opportunity to become famous stars and reap the financial benefits of it. Consequently, without knowing where these athletes come from and the conditions they lived in, it is difficult to criticize the Chinese system. I am sure some of the impoverished families in the United States would be grateful that their children be given the same opportunities.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Smaller Appetite, Larger Portions


Since I've come back to the States, I feel my eating appetite has shrunk. I guess I am just used to the food portions in Asia now or the food is just better there. It could be a mix of both I suppose. Restaurant portions are huge in the States compared to Asia, mostly due to the cost of labor and the price of food.

In Asia, food is cheap but so is labor. As a result and incomes are generally lower, so prices are kept lower. In the States, food is cheap but labor is expensive. As a result, restaurant owners in a strategy to get more revenue charge a higher price for the dish but give a generous serving of food to give the illusion to the customer that they are getting a good deal. This could be contributing to the number of heavy set Americans that are around. That and the combination that many suburbs are tied to the car culture and have to drive around everywhere. Even if they decided to walk, the communities are not too friendly to pedestrians since sidewalks do not exist.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Twitter for slackers

We see how technology has changed how people can slack off.
  • Students are now using cellphones and texting/instant messaging each other answers during exams as opposed to writing answers on the bottom of their shoe or copying from the person next to you;
  • Looking up essays/blogs online and using it as a homework assignment instead of threatening to beat up the geek to do your homework;
  • Instant messaging at work to look busy instead of chatting on the phone.
I came across this Dilbert cartoon and found it rather amusing that fully illustrates this.

Don't lick random things

Everyone knows not to lick a metal pole on a cold winter day. Well, if you do not, then do some research before doing so. My friend told me yesterday that he was eating ice cream and saw some on his pants. So he used his finger to wipe it off and licked it off. Turns out it was bird crap..... Gag!

So warning, don't randomly start licking things that are on your or other people's clothes for that matter. It reminded me of the scene in the movie, The Sweetest Thing, when Selma Blair brought a dress with a semen stain on it to the dry cleaners and the person at the dry cleaner was trying to figure out what the stain was in order to better clean it. He ended up licking it. Double gag!!

Infomercials

Usually when I am jetlagged in the States, I wake up at odd hours and once in a while I will flip on the tv and watch those infomercials. I don't know if anyone has ever bought something from them but most of them are scams. They all usually follow this type of format:
  1. Creating a problem that you never knew existed - i.e. Don't you hate it when you're cold and pull a blanket over yourself but wish you still had use of your hands?
  2. Showing you the product and having it solve your problems
  3. Then they offer the product for only a couple of easy payments of a low amount. Along with this they try to convince you to purchase and call them immediately by throwing in something free for the same amount - i.e. 3 easy payments of $19.95 and if you call now, we will also give you xyz for free.
Apparently, this format triggers something in your head called dopamine and causes people to buy on impulse. This dopamine usually goes away after 6-7 minutes so wait before buying on impulse. Also, most of these products do not really work too well so do your research before buying.

I especially like this product on the left, the Snookie. It comes with a free bottle of vodka. So you can snuggle up in your blanket and still be an alcoholic without exposing your arms to the cold winter air. Drink straight out of the bottle!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Freedom of speech



Its great to live in the United States and not worry about being thrown in prison for writing an article saying that Obama sucks. We can offer our opinions without living in fear and hiding like in many communist countries or dictatorships.

I would also like to clarify that living in China is not as bad as people may believe it is. People living their everyday lives will most likely not have their daily routines effected at all. The people go to work or start their own businesses, eat and drink merrily, buy property, rent apartments and so on. Foreigners would most likely only notice that certain popular websites are blocked such as Facebook, Blogspot, Twitter and Youtube are blocked. However, this can easily be bypassed through VPN service.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Too many bags!


I'm not talking about designer bags because I know all you women out there will say that they can never have too many bags. The bags I will speak about are plastic bags from the super markets, book stores, etc. I am sure many of you have over a ton of these bags and cannot seem to reduce them. Mostly these bags are probably used as garbage bags throughout your home.

I believe a couple of months ago, NY tried to pass a law to charge a 5 cent tax on plastic bags. I do not recall seeing anything in the news about this being passed but I think we should all try to do our part and either reuse our bags or use cloth bags when going to the supermarket. This has already been a common practice in the San Francisco Bay Area for a bit where environmentalists are all over the place. Even in Shanghai, they are attempting to become greener and have passed a law that forces supermarkets to charge a fee for plastic bags. It is quite common to see cloth bags being used or given out by clothing stores so that people could reuse them and at the same time help them advertise.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dirty Jobs

I know this video is a bit old but China blocks Youtube so I was unable to see it. Anyway, if you think your job is not a lot of fun. Check out sheep docking with Mike Rowe, especially at 35 seconds. I'm sure you are glad you do not have this job. :)

Wedding season is coming


Some people I know are going through wedding planning again. One of my friends does wedding photography (www.perfectphotovideo.com) and another does wedding invitation designs (www.hapaculture.com) so I thought I'd give them a plug and help them get the word out.

This post is going to be about weddings in China. Basically, weddings in China are just a big dinner. No dance, not much entertainment (cheesy if it is) or anything like that. There is a stage, where the groom and bride stand to get announced, do the normal cake cutting and speeches. However, it is drastically different when it comes to meals. We all know about how Chinese banquets are and the meals are family style. However, one thing I don't get is when you get a slice of the wedding cake, its just one huge slice for the table and everyone just takes their fork and takes some to put on their plate. Now I do not know why sharing other dishes like the fish, vegetable, etc. and eating it family style does not seem gross but sharing a slice of cake does.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Avatar or Pochahantas

As I mentioned before, I saw the Avatar movie. When I saw the movie, I had thoughts of Pochahantas. Some people thought it was similar to the Dances with Wolves story. Both are similar. Below is the Pochahantas storyline except it had been converted to the storyline for Avatar.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Still think people in China are poor?

Most people have the perception that things in China are cheap since the people there are poor. Well that is true for the majority of the land. However, they have the most number of millionaires (in US) in the world and seem to be buying property around the world, similar to when the Japanese started buying up real estate in the 80s.

I saw Avatar in 3D yesterday for $15 a ticket which many would consider to be a steep price already. However, ticket sales in Shanghai for the same show are going for 200 RMB (equivalent to almost $30 USD). In fact, it seems like it is impossible to get tickets as people have been waiting overnight to get tickets. Keep in mind that this is winter and that temperatures were hovering around 20 degrees F. Scalpers have been drooling with some tickets selling for 1000 RMB per ticket (thats almost $150 USD per ticket). Below is a screenshot of Taobao.com with 3 tickets for 3000 RMB.



Here's a video of the line just so that you can get a better idea.



It isn't just these tickets that are more expensive than what they would cost here. Nike sneakers, BMW/Porsche/Mercedes, Tiffany's and anything that is of luxury brand is usually up to two to three times the prices that would be sold if the prices were converted from RMB to USD. For example a Mercedes SLK would cost around $45K USD without any options, but same car would go for approximately $120K USD. No wonder so many people from China want to come to the United States.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Interesting stories from Shanghai

All the action starts when I leave the country. This amusing news occurred somewhere in the vicinity of where I lived. I am not entirely sure where but it was in the same district of Shanghai. This article is not only amusing but so are the comments. Apparently, the man was depressed and jumped out with his lover but survived after landing on "her."

Shanghai Man Lands on Lover, Survives Suicide Jump

Below is another article but I think it is for publicity. There is a video in the link for you to watch. I'll write another post about how high maintenance some Shanghainese women are and their "requirements" for marriage.

Shanghai girl forces boy to buy a car

Wash your hands with toilet water


The US keeps promoting a greener earth to other countries. One of those ways may be to save water. A low-flow toilet kit, or a dual flush toilet are great ways to reduce your water consumption, but here’s another toilet mod that will help you save some water, and give your guests something to talk about. This has been in Japan for quite some time now and even though I find that the Japanese are very wasteful with the amount of packaging it uses, they do find ways to save in other areas.

The toilet lid sink takes water that would normally go straight down into your toilet and first routes it through the sink spout at the top so you can wash your hands after you flush.  That may sound gross, but let me clarify.  When you flush the toilet, the waste goes down the drain and then the clean water from your reservoir tank refills the bowl.  With the sink add-on, the clean water from the reservoir first goes through the sink and then goes down into the bowl.  This extra step won’t reduce the amount of water your toilet is flushing but it will allow you to use that water twice, cutting out the use of your sink all together after taking care of business. I have not seen this in the US yet but with water becoming more scarce, it could be something that we should look into.

Genetically Engineered People?

 Until recently, China had the tallest man, Bao Xishun at 7 ft 9, and the shortest man, He Pingping at 2 ft 5 who was made famous taking a picture with the woman with the longest legs, in the world. The tallest man is now Sultan Kosen standing at 8 ft 1. I sometimes wonder if China does some kind of experiments to create things like that the tallest and shortest.

Look at Yao Ming. There is already a conspiracy theory that Yao Ming was an experiment led by the Chinese government in an attempt to dominate in all the Olympic events. The boy's parents, after all, were retired basketball stars whose marriage the year before Yao was born had made them the tallest couple in China. So imposing was their size that ever since childhood, the two had been known simply as Da Yao and Da Fang—Big Yao and Big Fang. Still, the medical staff surely had never seen a newborn quite like this: the enormous legs, the broad, squarish cranium, the hands and feet so fully formed that they seemed to belong to a three-year-old. At more than 5 kg, he was nearly double the size of the average Chinese newborn. The name his parents gave him, from a Chinese character that unifies the sun and the moon, was Ming, meaning bright.

Rumor has it that this conspiracy started over two generations ago, when Chairman Mao Zedong exhorted his followers to funnel the nation's most genetically gifted youngsters into the emerging communist sports machine. Two generations of Yao Ming's forebears had been singled out by the government for their hulking physiques, and his mother and father had both been drafted into the sports system.Wang Chongguang, a retired Shanghai coach was quoted as saying, "We had been looking forward to the arrival of Yao Ming for three generations."

It would not surprise me if the tallest man on earth would again be someone from China.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

You say pot-ae-to I say pot-ah-to

Different parts of the world have different words for the same thing. Just look at the different ways Americans say soda throughout the country: soda, pop, soda pop and my favorite, coke. Yes coke. If you go to some southern states and ask for coke, they will ask you what kind!


One of my former coworkers coworkers who grew up in China was sharing a story with me about this as well. She moved to the States in her early adolescent years before mobile phones, computers and the internet were popular. It was when she went back to China and she explained that she also had a hard time due to the different terminology that either became prevalent after she had left the country or is used with different terms in the U.S. Basically, she wanted to install internet in her apartment and the customer service representative asked her what plan she wanted. However, the word for plan or package in Chinese is 套餐 or tao can. Now this is commonly used in restaurants since 餐 means meal. Together it means combo meal. She was confused and excited at the same time. Confused because she was wondering why an internet plan would give a free meal and excited because she would also get a free meal.

This was later all settled with a lot of explanation but its funny how even knowing the language can sometimes be difficult if they grow up in a different part of the world or region.

Undeveloped Haiti continues to suffer


It is always devastating when such a huge earthquake hits and destroys buildings. However for a country that is underdeveloped and has a lack of infrastructure already, it is even harsher. It seems like the latest estimation is 50,000 dead. Based from the pictures I have seen, the city of Port-au-Price has been almost completely demolished. With no equipment to dig through the rubble, it seems that even more people will die as they are buried awaiting for help and equipment to arrive. Currently, people are using their bare hands to dig through the collapsed buildings.

Aside from the earthquake of 8.0 magnitude, it seems Haiti has not have had any breaks lately. Aside from their political instability, they have had many environmental concerns. Most of their land has gone through soil erosion. Before its independence, Haiti exported more wealth to France than the combined total of France's other overseas dominions. The value of its exports even exceeded that from the North American colonies to England. It is in this past that Haiti's land degradation has its roots. Haiti is located on the western third of the island of Hispaniola. Although 50% of the country's land surface produces agricultural crops, only about 10% is suitable for irrigation and mechanized farming. Much of Haiti's agriculture takes place on steep slopes where, each year, farmers abandon about 15,000 acres of land to erosion. In addition, they were hit with a huge hurricanes in 2004 and 2008 that further stripped 98% of its forest cover due to deforestation and caused flooding throughout the country.

Please help out and donate some money to help the cause. Be careful of any scams as in this world it is unfortunate that people will take advantage of a the sympathy from people. Some of the places to donate are as follows:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Google Pulling Out of China?


I realized that so far my posts seem to be anti-america so I wanted to write a post to indicate that its not all bad in the U.S. of A. There are great things such as freedom of speech which still is an issue in certain countries such as China. Upon coming across this article in the NY Times, Google’s Threat Echoed Everywhere, Except China, I applaud that Google is trying to follow the scope of its mission statement: to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Google was heavily criticized for appeasing the Chinese government's demands to filter out any news that may be seen as making China look bad (since the Chinese are very adamant on not losing face) or possibly instigating any revolution. After Google endured a cyber attack in which originated in China and believes that the purpose of the attack was aimed at certain Chinese human rights activists, Google claimed that it may leave China. This includes the Chinese search engine as well. In fact, the news of a potential exit was also hidden to the Chinese people. Hopefully with such a stand in free speech and with no censorship, this will open the eyes of the Chinese government when it loses a huge multinational company and along with that the jobs that many local Chinese citizens benefited from.

Hopefully I will be able to return to China after writing this post. Good thing I am back in the United States now.

Bank CEOs: Sorry for risky behavior, bad decisions

I love how the bank executives on Wall Street are claiming that regret their risky actions and bad decisions that put this country in the bad situation it is in but still defend that they should get their bonuses. It seems like just empty words to me. It is similar to when Bernard Madoff was sent to jail after tricking people out of billions of dollars but stated, "I cannot adequately express how sorry I am, I am here today to accept responsibility for my crimes." I bet he wasn't sorry when he was collecting all that money. I guess these people are only sorry after they get caught and causing the millions of other people much hardship.

Taken from Yahoo News - Sorry for risky behavior
Wall Street executives said Wednesday they underestimated the severity of the 2008 financial crisis and apologized for risky behavior and poor decisions. They also defended their bonus and compensation practices to a skeptical commission investigating what caused the collapse.

Maybe if they were really sorry, they'd give the bonuses to the government as a way of saying thanks for not going out of business like Lehman Brothers.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

To be a Landlord or a Tenant


I find it strange that the United States laws protect the financially irresponsible. Look at the housing crisis and all the bailouts that the government is providing. Granted I understand that if they did not do this, the economy would go further into a tailspin but it seems that the financially responsible people get the short end of the stick. While we did not purchase the 2 bedroom apartment because we felt we could not afford it, others purchased homes that were beyond their financial means. Due to the crisis, the government has delayed foreclosures, etc.

I digress though and wanted to write about how the tenants in the United States seem to be able to get away with not paying rent. I have heard many of my friends who have had tenants who refuse to pay the rent for a couple of months. However, the law does not allow them to just get evicted. Instead, it requires that the landlord and the tenant go to court in order to get a date to evict them. Usually, this seems to be the customary practice and even so, the courts usually allow the tenants another 3-5 months to find a place, forcing the landlord to eat the years worth in rent.

China does the opposite in which the landlords get the preferential treatment. In fact, it is customary for them to receive 3 months of rent upfront plus the security deposit. In the event that the tenant is unable to pay, it is just a simple action of calling the police to evict them.

Being a landlord in the U.S., I would have to perform my due diligence on the tenant before renting it out. I am sure most landlords do this but unfortunately there is always the possibility of a tenant not paying and not much protection for the landlord.