I have figured out a difference of working in small company v.s. big company. I was working in a small 25 person company before. Sometimes I came into the office and saw a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. I loaded all dishes in the the disk washer, added detergent, and then turned on the machine to clean them.
Now I am working in a big company. Today I came in and saw some toilet paper left in the sink. I said "gross, when will the janitor clean this up?"
I was doing a vanity search of myself on Google. My profile appears on a whole bunch of social network and websites. One entry looks suspicious though. I appear on what looks kind of like a news website, for some critical comment I have made against Falun Gong sometime ago. Crap, poor judgment of me to offend a religious group. Told you to keep your big mouth shut on the net. Now they are going to want my head.
This is a piece with me in it. They have done a brief search on my background, lifted a picture from my website, and paraphrased my criticism, though not very coherently. Who is www.facts.org.cn? My first impression says it is yet another Falun Gong media. They have whole bunch of low quality, pseudo journalistic websites. They were mad at me for saying unflattering things about them. It takes a while for me to see this website is perhaps a critic of them instead. Without my knowledge, they pickup a comment I have made sometime ago and portray it as a voice against Falun Gong. The website is ambivalent and low quality though. I am not pleased that I appear there.
TL;DR My original comment: Fei Tian Academy is an art school setup up by Falun Gong backers. I don't have a problem with that. I just urge them to be upfront with their religious affiliation while they are aggressively recruiting children. The comment can still be found on socketsite.com.
A great ending is more than a conclusion of the stories. It elevates the entire experience, distinguishes good movies from great, and leaves us with an impression that last. Here are a few endings that really resonate with me. (SPOILER ALERT) While I am not going into very specific details, these are great movies and I recommend you to watch them first.
Another Woman (1988) Gena Rowlands plays the successful and well respected professor. Her self-esteem was crumbling as she accidentally learned of the lifetime of flaws she has committed and was disturbed by people's judgment on her. It would have been a depressing movie. But the ending has redeemed everything. Reading the book written by her best friend Larry, she realized that despite her imperfections, he was the one true believer of her. Recalling the scene in the book of their walk in the Central Park, it left her in a state of pensiveness.
The Descendants (2011) Its ending is the most uneventful. There were the three of them sitting on the couch watching TV. Then it ended. Certainly what matters is the story that preceded this, the trauma of crumbling marriage, dying wife, and alienated kids.
How is this ending moving? If only you have gone through storms as turbulent as theirs in your life, then you will understand the feeling of respite that it portrays. It was great to huddle in front of TV.
Some Like It Hot (1959) "Nobody's perfect", the tagline is so memorable that it was engraved on writer director Billy Wilder's tombstone. The duo Joe and Jerry were so desperate to hide from a gang, they disguised as women and joined an all women band to run away. When in Florida, the woman that was Jerry has attracted an old millionaire suitor Osgood. He tried to pick her up with ceaseless persistence.
Failed in every mean to fend off Osgood's advance, in the final scene, Jerry took off his wig to reveal he was actually a man. For this Osgood easily dismissed with the line, "Well, nobody's perfect".
Billy Wilder's scripts were so great because they often have double meaning. While we laugh our butt off for the absurdity of Osgood's radical acceptance, there is an aftertaste that left us thinking how judgmental we are toward other people. Is Osgood a fool? Or perhaps he is a model we can learn from?
25 years after I graduated from New Asia college, the biggest gift the school has bestowed to me is perhaps the school anthem. Written by our late founder Ch'ien Mu, the two phrases still stay with me anytime I face difficulty.
Here is my attempt to translate them into English.
In trying time I strive
In destitution my passion blooms
I've finally watched Babette's Feast nearly 30 years after it was first released. It was surprising satisfying. For the most part, it looks like another Scandinavian period movie. Then it comes the final part. In this isolated rural coastal community in Denmark, a congregation of aging followers led a life of austerity. One day Babette has won a lottery by surprise. On the occasion of the founding pastor's hundredth birthday, Babette proposed to cook the congregation a French dinner, paid for by her own fund of course.
I am not really a foodie. I was not exactly salivating upon seeing the sumptuous dinner. What moved me so much is the overwhelming generosity of Babette. She put all her heart and soul into the feast, creating such perfection that is truly a work of art. It was an altruistic gift. The folks were so satisfied that they have even became more amenable to each other. It was the drama of generosity that makes this movie special.
We have finished building Hang Hang's Titanic model. I did most of the assembly and detail works. Hang Hang helped on painting. Good thing he has learned to color within lines. Now this becomes his favorite toy. He loves to manipulate it and sink it at various angles. You may wonder whether it is a good idea to gives a five year old a model as detailed and as delicate as this? I think I know the answer. Let's enjoy it while it last.
This is the first model I built since I was a teenager. I think I am a much better craftsman now. It reminds me how clueless I was applying glue back then. Now I can control the right amount of glue much better so that it bonds but do not squeeze out badly. My presbyopia is terrible though. I have to take off my glass and hold the object in front of my face for any detail work.
Next time when visiting the observation tower at De Young Museum, don't miss the Ruth Asawa sculptures showing in the elevator lobby. Both the observation tower and the sculptures can be seen for free. I have rushed by so many times without playing attention and missed them. Just noticed how amazing they are, especially when they interact with the shadows on the wall.
This was one of those day when I have some free time. Already spending too much time in front of computer, I really wanted to get out. How about taking a tour around the city? I can just hop on a Muni bus and let it slowly take me to visit little known neighborhoods, to see part of the city that's seldom seen, and on bus routes I have never taken? This will be an exercise of patience, a meditation on a meandering course if you will. Move over 49 miles drive, I am going to make this all on our unassuming buses, all for as little as $4.50.
A sleek modern bus pulled into the stop. My first leg of the trip started outside of the Golden Gate Park. I boarded this clean an uncrowded coach with large windows looking out to a bright sunny day. "Twenty First Avenue", the automated system announced the next stop. Perhaps this was a holiday, there wasn't anyone waiting at the stop. The bus passed without stopping. "Twenty Third Avenue", the next stop was announced. Again the bus didn't stop. "Twenty Fifth Avenue", still we passed. The announcement kept rolling, and the bus kept flying through. This was unreal! Muni was unstoppable!
The pickup became more frequent after we traveled down the Sunset Boulevard. A big guy in gray hoodie got on board. Next stop it picked up a middle age couple carrying a shopping bag on wheels. An older woman talking on the phone came next.
Regular Muni riders have probably all shared rides some with strange people. Today was no exception. No, this person was not the threatening mental type you might have met. She was super friendly. She greeted everyone as she got board. She greeted the driver, the passengers sitting in front, the passengers in the middle, and the passengers in the back. Then she sat down. Then she talked to herself. Then she greeted everyone again. Then she talked to herself some more.
We have soon came to the Paris Street, followed by Lisbon, Madrid, Naples and so on. It is the little known neighborhood of Excelsior with streets named after great European cities. This forgotten corner of San Francisco is surprisingly pleasant. On the tree lined street, families were walking around. The big hoodie guy got off. Then a woman carrying a baby girl came on. The old woman was still talking on the phone. The baby girl was close to drowsing off. Sit tight, the big bus is going to rock you to sleep.
The bus flew through the John McLaren Park, the best park in San Francisco that I have never been to. It is a large patch of forested hill top with scenic view of the city.
As we arrived in the San Bruno Avenue, the last two passengers, myself and the woman on the phone, were finally getting off. With no one on board, I worried the bus driver will become bored. My concern turned out to be unfounded. Three new passengers quickly climbed on the bus to take our place for the remaining part of the journey. (45 minutes trip)
My connection bus showed up right away. Too soon! I gave the bus a pass and opted to walk this neighborhood a bit. San Bruno Avenue was lively this morning. People were coming to shop and to its cafes and restaurants. A large crowd waited outside a dim sum restaurant. Whatever it's Yelp rating may be, this place must be good.
9-San Bruno is a friendly bus. A lady found a mother and son she knows on board and greeted them heartily. Another mother with a stroller has caught the attention of a shaved head guy with piercing. They began to have a conversation. The old lady sitting next joined in. The driver got some love too. A guy came up on the bus to give her a hug. They chatted a little before he jumped off.
Usually it makes my blood boil to see this. As the driver is having some leisure talk on the job, the bus is going to miss one or more traffic light cycle, wasting the passengers' time. But this was a holiday. So I didn't mind waiting a little bit. After the first buddy has left, the bus kept idling at the stop while the driver kept chatting with a second buddy outside. I was patient. But this was clocking a few minutes already and people were wondering how much longer this is going to be. Finally the cause of the delay was revealed. The first buddy came back with a bottle drink for the driver he bought from the store. Now that the drink was taken care of we could finally resume our trip.
I met another weird guy in this bus. He was talking and gesturing to himself. His sanity seemed intact though. Turned out he was enjoying himself listening to rap music. He kept spitting out bust after bust of toneless words, which I found not so entertaining. Peace has returned after he bounced off the bus happily.
9-San Bruno continued on the great Market Street. Usually a bustling boulevard, Market Street was a very quiet in the holiday season today. I became the last passenger to get off near the Ferry Building. (38 minutes trip)
From Chinatown, I hopped on to the line 45 trolley for the next leg. A slow coach, 45 took its time to make meticulous and exacting move at every stop and every maneuver through Chinatown.
Soon it began to climb the steep hill. Here in Russian Hill we found the old San Francisco, the hilly neighborhood, the ornate apartment buildings, the Art Deco facade. The San Francisco that we saw in the movie "Vertigo" where James Stewart roamed 60 years ago looks remarkably similar today. Over the crest, the trolley rolled back down to Van Ness Avenue below.
Here I have encountered the third strange person in the trip. This one was a real lunatic. He suddenly came in front of the bus, shouting and pointing his finger at us very aggressively. I was so glad he was not inside the bus. This was so absurd that the driver took off and laugh him away.
As if to show my loyalty to Muni, me and another passenger were again the last to get off this bus. (15 minutes trip)
28 zoomed quickly through Lombard and then onto the the Doyle Drive. This is the most scenic Muni trip hands down, with Golden Gate Bridge in full view.
This was also the first time today we ran into heavy traffic. First there was bridge traffic. But the worst was at the Golden Gate Bridge viewing area. The small parking lot was overwhelmed by long line of tourist cars. The bus horned repeatedly trying to push away the cars to reach the designated bus stop with little progress. Everyone was stuck and nobody was getting anywhere. This place badly need some traffic management. Next time when you are on the 19th Avenue waiting for the 28 and it takes forever to come, it might be tied up in this parking lot here.
I made a stop over for Golden Gate Bridge. The sky was blue and the air was clear, just the perfect setting for the bay and bridge view. It never gets tired even I have seen it a hundred times. I waited for next bus to continue my trip.
For the first time today, the bus was full. It resembled my typical commute, a bus so packed that people can hardly move. Except this bus did not really resemble a typical commute. Look carefully, people were reading maps and guidebooks. They were speaking in foreign languages. It was a bus full of international tourists, Chinese, Japanese, Europeans. I chatted with a group of girls on their school break and turned out they came from as far as Yemen. Everybody loves San Francisco. Perhaps some were doing a round San Francisco tour by Muni just like me?
The bus sped pass Presidio, heading back to Marina where I first came from. I have boarded the wrong bus! How could this happen? It turned out I was tricked. At the Golden Gate Bridge stop, buses going to opposite direction both pick up from the same spot. Look before you leap! I got off as soon as I can after Doyle Drive, spun across to the other side of Lombard St. The correct Daly City bound bus met me there right at that moment. Problem solved! It was almost as simple as turning back on a subway.
So it was the most scenic ride on Muni take two, the full view of Golden Gate Bridge again showing in the front window. The gridlock had a take two also, the same slogging and horn blaring one more time. Traffic I hate you.
We went through the MacArthur Tunnel, downed the hill to the tree lined Park Presidio boulevard, swept the curve across the Golden Gate Park. After a total of 1 hour 25 minutes on 28, including 12 minutes going in wrong direction, I have returned home. It was one glorious day around San Francisco by Muni.
We have just passed the winter solstice of this year, Tuesday December 22nd. On this day, it has the shortest day and longest night of the year. I always look forward to the winter solstice. Because this mark the shortest day of the year. From this day on, everyday there will be more daylight and I will become more cheerful.
Hang Hang's number one obsession was volcano. He wants to read about all things volcano. And he talks about it all the time. Every details of disastrous eruption scenarios he talks about them repeatedly. Volcano is almost the only topic he draw, a coned shape mountain with some fume coming out of the top.
An old man with dropped head was crossing a street. He held the leash to a poodle walking a few feet in front of him. He was proceeding excruciating slow in the cross walk. I watched him through the large window of a cafe. My first instinct is I feel concerned about his safety. What if some careless driver come by, fail to see him, and hit him or his dog? But next something comes into my mind. I have seen this scene before. This is the scene from Krzysztof Kieślowski's Three Colors trilogy.
I want to say thanks my late mom. She has always wanted the best for me, worked hardest to keep us comfortable, picked us the best pieces from the dinner plate, and comforted me when I was sick in bed. After I am grown, she would be the shameless endorser of me, a true believer like no others.
China's controversial has officially ended finally. Still it is unlikely to see its birthrate, which has already fallen dramatically like other developed East Asian countries, to significantly rebound. Its repercussion in population aging will become apparent in the coming decades.
Conzelman Road must be the most exhilarating ride from San Francisco. It takes a long climb to the top of the hill past the Golden Gate Bridge. Then a steep and winding downhill run toward Point Bonita light house.
Beside the Ikea bed, I also have a great hack for the 6 outlet wall plug. IKea sell these adaptor that converts a typical two outlet socket into six for cheap. The problem? It only fits three prong socket. If you live in an old house with only two prong socket you are out of luck. The solution? Just use a hacksaw to cut off the two grounding prong.
I have made another trip to the Point Reyes lighthouse with Ian. It is an incredible place to appreciate the enormity of land and water, see some wildlife, and for some moment, enjoy a complete tranquility when even the sound of wind and wave have subsided.
I have seen a few great movies over a number of months. What is common among them? They all tell story about young people. They all evoke romantic view and sweet memory. And they are all wonderful stories that linger in my mind long after the movie ends.
This is the Ikea Fjellse bed frame. For as low as $50, you get a solid wood bed frame. The catch is it is also the ugliest bed frame I can find. What design is it to have a few big holes in the back? I think they do this deliberately to push people to buy their more expensive bed.
While I was washing Hang Hang in the bath tub, he used his hand trying to slash the water. He asked "Why can't you break the water?" What a Dao-ish question? How inquisitive this young mind to raise this intriguing question about our physical world? Why can't you break the water?