31 August 2007

Tiger Would Do The Same

18 August 2007


"Three days, fifty hours, one hundred episodes," my Son muttered when I asked him "Naruto again?" Son was referring to the marathon that Cartoon Networks had going for Naruto fans. Up to recently, I had thought of the anime series as "that cartoon show with the kid who looks like a cat," because the main character, Naruto Uzumaki, has what appears to be whiskers on his cheeks. Of course, Son had been watching the show more intently and words like jitsu, chunin, hokage, and chakra flowed out of his mouth with ease. He sure knew what the words mean, or at least in what context to use them. I realized that I haven't watched much TV with him lately. I think I used to watch many Japanese animes with him, on VCDs and translated into Cantonese. Maybe I wasn't as busy with work back then. It's nice when I can quip jokes related to his favorite shows or act out with him scenes from the shows.

To catch up with Naruto, I recently spent a few hours watching the marathon with Son. It's actually quite an interesting story. Naruto appears to have whiskers perhaps because his father, the Fourth Hokage, sealed the spirit of a Nine-Tailed Fox demon in him, at least that's what I think. Most of the fighting in the show involve magic, not the typical ninja martial arts. I detected some resemblance to Harry Potter, as one of evil character was able to put himself into various bodily shell to make him harder to eradicate.

I supplemented the info gaps with Wikipedia and library books. I tried to get Son to read more and watch less by borrowing a Naruto graphic novel for him. He didn't read much but I ended up reading the whole book myself.

Perhaps subconsciously I tried to do for my son what my father did for me. To get me know more Chinese, for years my father got me my weekly supply of Oriental Heroes graphic novels. The book series was actually called 龍虎門, which is nothing close to Oriental Heroes, just something that's lost in translation. Reading 龍虎門 helped me learn a lot of Chinese. Although the story is mostly understood just by looking at the pictures, there are times knowing the key words help, so I actually looked them up in Chinese-English dictionaries.

In case you are curious, here are the meanings of the Japanese words I mentioned:
  • jitsu - magical art
  • chunin - some kind of exams ninjas take to advance to the next level
  • hokage - village leader
  • chakra - perhaps what the Chinese call qi (氣), some kind of internal energy that when properly channeled, can come outside as a ball of energy... hey it's a fantasy cartoon, don't forget.

16 August 2007


Call me Going-Ga-Ga-Over-Google if you will, I just love Google, not least of which are the gadgets that can be easily added to a homepage or blog. I recently convinced my sister to update her Blogger template and now she can easily add things to her blog's sidebar. The old way of mucking with the innards of the HTML code is very difficult and introduces plenty of room for errors.

I just updated my sidebar to have a poll. Tell me what you want to write more about! I don't know what my adoring fans, all four of them, enjoy reading if I don't have their feedback.

Seriously, don't take it too seriously. Blog writing is something to be done with one's heart in it, at least for me. I usually sit down with a topic already planned out. Mind you, I don't have every sentences thought ahead. I try not to do too much web-surfing checking for details. Such action usually derails my train of thought. Writing "some guy did this and that" suffices, but looking up the guy's exact name may cost me precious minutes and makes me veer in another direction.

So, I write whatever on my mind at the time, or whatever I already planned to. It must be something I feel strongly about, or something I enjoy doing tremendously. Something to gush over, to rant and rave about. I am a quiet person in life but when it comes to writing I like to make a splash out of it.

08 August 2007


I have a colleague who is based in India. He recently wrote that the weather there had been bad, that transportation will be affected so he would be working from home. The scenario matched the general belief that India, for all its computer talents, is hampered by an inadequate infrastructure. Ironically, a few days later, New York City was hit by a rain storm and its mass transportation also came to a grinding halt. I wish some people would stop calling New York the greatest city in the world. Its subway system is horribly below par. The public announcement system is a horrible joke. I seriously hope no terrorist attacks will ever happen inside the subway tunnel. If it happens, hapless riders will be "guided" by announcement like "{grumble} {grumble} {blah} {bleah} to the exit {aarggh} ..." My cartoon at right is about some dumb terrorists breaking the P.A. system, something that I believe is already broken. It doesn't help that the speaker sometimes have some heavy Brooklyn or some other accent. I am all for computerized announcements. When I first started riding the PATH trains, I thought its P.A. was decent, but lately it has deteriorated as well. Maybe the same computer that wired the NYC P.A. is now in charge of the PATH also.

07 August 2007

M.A. B.S. ?

Call me a skeptic if you would, but the more I read about Market America the more it stinks. Multi-level Marketing (MLM), pyramid scheme, Charles Ponzi story, Amway, the list goes on and on. I've got to read more and find out more about all these scams. So far, I've come across


I'm sure there are others. My wife's attitude seems to be, "Well, let's try it out and see what happens." I wonder how much money she already spent. If it's in the thousands of dollars, that is a steep price to find out if something works or not. It's like, "Let's eat dirt and find out if it really tastes awful." She knows making money is through recruiting more people, but she doesn't seem to see any problems with that. I wonder how one would tell the future suckers. "Uh, you joined under me for x dollars then work your ass off to get two suckers under you then you can live a comfortable life." Of course that's just me, cannot tell lies so easily. These scams usually tell you that you can do the work in your spare time, but for me spare time means the hour or two I have on the computer. The commute is long, there's a child to take care of, hours of sleep to have to be in good health.

As someone wrote in one of the links above, just because the business has been around for years doesn't mean it's a good business. Enron was all well and good until the sh!t hit the fan...

Speaking of scam, every now and then my AdSense would have links to some gaudy web site claiming one can make thousands of dollars from blogging. Sadly, Googling about the chap all ended at web sites that rants about how great the system is, or advertises other similar "product". The "product" in this case I think is the book. At $50 or so, it seems expensive. I think that's how the thousands of dollars are made. Anyone found out otherwise about these blogging scam?

05 August 2007

Home From Greensboro

After another long bus ride, I'm home again. The entire trip spanned five days, but about one and a half days were spent on the bus. Win some, lose some. At least with the bus, I was able to nap off and on and didn't have to constantly keep an eye on the road. I did have an inner fear occasionally when the bus crossed some bridge...

For the first full vacation day, I took my son to Downtown Greensboro. After a visit to the Children's Museum, there wasn't much else to do. Most of Downtown even closed down at 3 p.m. or 4 p.m., so after an early dinner, we headed back to the hotel for some pool time.

I was worried of what to do for the second day. Luckily, I came across an advertisement for the Friendly Center in the Relocation Guide magazine. Normally, when on vacation I abhor the idea of spending any time in a shopping mall, but in this case it was necessary to visit the mall. Sprawled over a wide outdoor area, the Friendly Center had Chuck E. Cheese's, Barnes & Noble bookstore, a movie theater, and McDonald's, plus the usual myriad of stores carrying women's clothes, shoes, jewelries, etc. A good time was had by me and my son. We had Chuck E. Cheese's all to ourselves for about an hour then the crowd started pouring in. After spending $10's worth of tokens, we walked over to the movie theater but it was too early. We doubled back to visit B&N, but alas there were no Mac magazines worth buying. I am a sucker for the British magazines if the cover CD/DVD has worthy free software, usually older version of some commercial app. Instead, J got yet another Thomas the Tank Engine toy. Finally, at the theater we saw Underdog. Afterward, we re-visited Chuck E. Cheese's and spent yet another $20 on tokens. Finally, we had lunch at Mickey D where J had some exercise in the playground area. Again, we took the taxi back to the hotel for some rest time. We wanted to go swimming in the hotel's tiny pool again, but it rained so we waited it out. For dinner, we walked to the nearest main road's buffet restaurant.

On the third day, it was Celebration Station for mini-golf and more indoor arcade games. I much prefer Chuck E. Cheese's All-Game-1-Token policy. Games at Celebration Stations all require different number of tokens, thus introduced an unwelcome break in the flow of enjoyment. Lunch took a long time to come, but I suppose that's the price you pay for having lunch when there was another party going on. Another taxi ride to another movie theater near the hotel to see Ratatouille. What a concept - rats, stinking sewer rats, cooking in a fancy French restaurant. Yuck! After the movie, J obediently walked back to the hotel with me. I've noticed that in the Greensboro area the taxi meter started at $1.80, so we probably saved at least $2 for that walk. It was good exercise after sitting in the dark at the movie theater. Yet another trip to the tiny pool, followed by a visit to the nearby Best Buy, and finally we took the taxi to the Sheraton Hotel to meet up with Mommy. While waiting for Wife to have a final meeting with her Market America cohorts, I plunked down $10 to use the Internet. Before the 'Net time expired, Wife was done with the meeting so we had to leave.

The trip home was less eventful than the trip out. We left the hotel together and spent a little time at Market America's Headquarter, just the outside as the line to get inside was long. Last stop in the area was the Coliseum again, this time to see the trade show. Expecting something the size of PC Expo, I was disappointed by the small size of the show. No revolutionary products here, just some household detergents here, some diet formulas there, telephony, vitamin supplements...

For the first half of the bus ride home, it was like watching infomercials on TV. Different people ranted about how great M.A. had been for them, how they joined and enjoyed the work. The whole thing is just too one-sided. I need to know more about M.A. from a third party. I think it boils down to being just a second job, with no benefits, so it's still work. Before making any money, it seems we have to take many training sessions and attend many conventions. I cannot help but think of it as some kind of pyramid scheme, where you have to drag more people in to push you up. Let's see what happens in a few years with the Wife.

02 August 2007

Hello from Greensboro, NC

I'm having a mini-vacation in Greensboro, North Carolina. My wife has been enlisted by Market America and just in time for the annual convention in Greensboro. While she goes about with her convention, I figured I would explore Downtown Greensboro with my son.

The vacation started out on a bad note as I had insomnia the night before and slept so soundly and didn't hear the alarm at 4:30 a.m. Or perhaps the alarm was too low. We were supposed to be in Flushing at 6 a.m. but instead we woke up at 6 a.m., thanks to Mother. Of course, Mother would repeatedly chided me until I finally made it out the door at 6:20. Good thing I packed everything the night before, else there would be no way I could pack properly in the heat of battle. The only thing I didn't bring was info about Greensboro. While I couldn't sleep, I got up and copied-and-pasted some info from the web into my Palm Desktop and thought I would sync the next morning. Alas, I barely had time to grab the luggage to storm out the door. Luckily, we still made it to the bus, which left at 7:30. I had to trust my car to a girlfriend of someone in the Market America group to park in her driveway, but that was the best arrangement for the circumstance.

It took about 11 hours to get the Sheraton where Wife and her cohorts got their M.A. tickets. Alas, we were not going to stay there, but rather at some tiny hotel five minute's bus ride away. Choices of dinner weren't abundant and we settled for Papa John's Pizza while others bought Chinese takeouts to take back to the hotel. Having insufficient sleep, my anemic condition set in for the second half of the day and I was glad to turn in for the night early, around 10:30.

In the morning, I tagged along with the Wife et al to get to the Coliseum. There was a sign that said Downtown was 2 miles away. If it was just me, I probably would have made the hike. With my son, I took a taxi that happened to drop off some convention-goers. We got off in Downtown's Children's Museum for $9, including tip. J had a great time in the Museum. It had interactive scenes like supermarket, house under construction, restaurant, etc. In the afternoon, we went to the Depot, the transportation hub of Greensoboro. I expected something like NYC's Grand Central Terminal, with shops and such all over, but the Depot is really just a transportation hub. I read about the Carolina Model Railroaders, supposedly a place where one can see model trains. Alas, after the walk in the heat, the Railroaders was closed. We went to the City Center Park to walk under the arch of shooting water to cool off, then went into the Culture Center. It was rather quiet, too. Too hot to walk around, we went to the Central Library, just across from the Children's Museum. I wouldn't mind paying for Internet access at some cafe, but none was to be found and the Library gives it out free. By the way, hanging out with my son having not much to do is still better than waiting for the ladies to eventually ending their shopping spree...

Son is already bored after an hour playing on the computer. Some local kid hang out with him and they seemed to have a good time playing Curious George on the PC. I had to sshhh them a few times.

Wandering the street of Greensboro with my son, I couldn't help think about the movie Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith. Of course, my "plight" is nothing compared to Smith's character in the movie, with no home to live and a tough job to cling on.

Dinner is supposed to be at the best buffet place in the city. I'll have to catch a taxi back to the convention center to meet the gang. The taxi driver had wisely given him his business card and told me to ask for his number, #20, so most likely I'll call him then.