Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Getting Lucky

A friend of mine is really big into astrology. Funny since she is in university to study forensics. Anyways, having my year, month, day, and hour of birth, here is my fortune:

I will be successful in either entertainment or coffee or other fire-based businesses (whatever that means). I will be pretty rich and I will most likely get married when I'm 40. My wife will be from the year of the dog which would make her either 23 or 35. You can guess which one I'm shooting for. I'm also going to be a very nice boss and that I should be careful not to let people take advantage of my goodwill. And I'll be living for a long time.

All in all, pretty good news. I'm not a very superstitious person, but every little bit of luck helps. Yay me.

Can You Hear Me Now?

A few weeks ago, I went to Pacific Coffee down by the Avenue of the Stars. It's a touristy area, but for some reason, the coffee shop isn't packed like everywhere else in HK so I go there pretty often to study. After a while, I got up to use the free internet they had over there to check my mail. I took my cell phone with me because I was expecting a call and because petty theft is pretty rampant, especially in these tourist traps. Anyways, I placed my phone next to the keyboard and was checking my mail when I heard a huge crash. I peaked around a corner and saw an old lady lying on her back in front of the ladies' room with her arms, legs, and cain flailing like a beetle turned on its back. As LifeAlert's "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up" ran through my mind, I rushed over there to help her. For your reference, little old ladies are very difficult to pick up from the ground. They are fragile enough so that you can't pull them up by their arms for fear they will tear off like wings on a fly. And you can't pick them up from the back because they are heavier than they appear. Anyways, some others who I am guessing are family members rushed over and in a blur of Chinese said thank you and they'd handle it...at least I'm pretty sure that is what they said. In any case, it's obvious they have more experience picking up fallen little old ladies.

Seeing that everything was good, I went to the computer to log off and then found a seat. I reached for my phone to see if anyone called and my hand found...nothing. My phone was gone. I checked my pockets, around the table and chairs, around the computer I was using. Nothing. I found a pay phone and called the number. The phone was disconnected. It all became clear. I got jacked. What I don't understand is why. It was honestly the cheapest and most insignificant phone you can find and could probably be bought from the change you find inside your couch. Anyways, I was still pissed about it. It's the principle of it all. It must've gotten jacked while I was helping the old lady. Anyways, the moral of the story is don't help little old ladies.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Mini Bus

Mini Buses are a Godsend. They go everywhere you need to go, but faster and cheaper. It took me awhile to get used to them, mostly because I had no idea where they went, but little by little, as I got used to the routes, I don't like to take anything but.

There are two types: The ones with the green color roof have fixed routes and stops. You can use an octopus card, but they don't give change if you pay by cash. The ones with the red don't have any fixed stops. You can pay by cash and get change, but you can't use your octopus card. My only beef is that seating is usually limited to 16, but the number of buses that pass by usually make this a non-issue.

History in a nutshell, courtesy of Wikipedia: During the '67 HK riots, public transportation workers went on strike and all bus and tram services were suspended. From the woodworks came regular money-minded citizens who decided to take out their mini-vans and provided rides to the people for a small fee. Thus, the mini-bus was born. They were even awarded public transportation status and licensing as thanks from the gov't. I'm guessing that a lot of mass transit officials are kicking themselves over this one.

To get an idea of what a mini bus is like, take Disneyland and strip it of all safety measures and equipment. Replace any costly materials with shoddy ones and have it built by a blind man using nothing but masking tape and nails. Yet somehow, these buses go FAST and traffic lights and signs become mere suggestions. With all the bobbing and weaving in traffic, the mini bus is the Ali of public transportation.

Korean Pride

I took a trip to Korea on business and on one of my off days I decided to catch a performance of some traditional music and dance. The place I went to was geared towards tourists, but it was close so I didn't mind. The stage was showing signs of wear and the LED translations on one of the backdrops was a bit distracting, but after all is said and done, it was a great show. Myself, as well as the riot of Japanese granny tourists had a fantastic time. Especially the 오고무, 농악, and 판굿 performances. Good stuff. I'm also a closet fan of 판소리. The only thing that kinda irked me was the choreography of the 소고춤 was a little too similar to the dance sequence in the Japanese film, 座頭市.

It really was refreshing to see this. It always seems to me that Korea is desperately seeking attention and recognition for everything, mostly undeservedly. There seems to be this ingrained and illogical need for Koreans to compare themselves to everyone else, their neighbors, their friends, other countries, etc. and to be seen superior. It is like a global game of king of the hill, but only the Koreans are playing it. I guess this in of itself could be considered part of the culture, but not one I would be particularly proud of. 파전 suddenly becomes Korean pizza, everything in Japan was invented by Koreans, and Hines Ward suddenly becomes the symbol of Korean superiority despite the fact that Koreans never gave a shit about biracial Koreans and looked down on us as dirty. Mixed Koreans were never seen as Korean until one wins the Superbowl (of course after the VT shootings, there was a deluge of articles distancing 조승희 from his Korean heritage by talking about how he lived in the states for a long time and he was part of the 1.46795 generation and was more American than Korean as if that kinda thing could be measured). But I digress.

After seeing the show, it was the first time in a long time that I felt proud of my Korean heritage. THIS is what Korean culture and tradition is all about. It was pure and unadulterated and, most of all, it was Korean with no regard for anyone else's opinions. It was like an unspoken message: "This is us. Take it or leave it." Good stuff and I was filled with pride and smiling all day and the next.

For a really great show, you should check out the 국립국악원. 김덕수 rocks it out.

Rough Waters

Wow. Lots of stuff going on. Let's see.....I came within about an inch of quitting my job. It was a salary dispute where the amount that was promised was not the same amount that was deposited. Something I definitely wasn't going to let slide since I transferred to HK for them. Anyways, I don't think anyone was out to shaft me, but I do think it was a matter of somebody not paying attention and not paying attention is just bad business. For some reason, after I brought this to everyone's attention, the general consensus was that I would just accept their refusal since I wouldn't dare risk my job. I think I surprised some people when I gave the ultimatum to keep their word or I would walk. I really enjoy the work I'm doing and I think the mission of the company is great, but there is no reason to stay with a company that doesn't keep its word, regardless of whether or not it was intentional. Anyways, no one wanted to take responsibility for this and kept pushing me to someone else until I was talking to the President. Honestly speaking, it should never have gotten that far. This was a simple issue that could have been handled by one of the mid-level managers. Unfortunately, I think one of the biggest problems with the company is everyone is afraid of taking responsibility and won't do anything unless someone higher up tells them to. Costly in a business where timing is everything. Anyways, I made a proposal with some conditions that I thought would work out for both me and the company. The president was cool with it and things are back to normal. Very quick, very simple. But again, this should have been taken care of at a lower level, but no one made any proposal or even an attempt to compromise. What was funny was that the initial negotiations regarding compensation before my transfer to HK were handled in English, but after I started making noise about the salary discrepancies, suddenly, it seemed that everyone forgot English. Funny since I do that all the time. Anyways, moral of the story is always get it in writing.