Friday, November 14, 2008

Hong Kong pics










A night view of Hong Kong from Kowloon Bay. We took a few shots and this was the best one...













Hong Kong from up on the hillside

A couple Korea Pics
















This was at a small art studio in the Insadong area of Seoul












Flora was very excited about this bowl of ice cream mixed with kiwi, oranges, bananas, marshmallow type things ice and chocolate. When I ate it I thought it was just about the best dessert I have ever had.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Playing Piano in Seoul

I met up with Ella Kim in downtown Seoul right next to the capital. I was running late and my Korean cellphone was a bit unreliable, so Ella still didn't believe I was coming until I saw her. And when I saw her I was happy since she was laughing (partly because she couldn't believe I was there having made so many jokes about Korean food, language and culture while interning at the U.N) and she also had some Dunkin Donuts and I had not had breakfast yet!!

Dunkin Donuts are ubiquitous in Korea-- as are 7-elevens and many different food chains and street vendors. Food is definitely one of the most enjoyable parts of being in Korea...if you have been previously initiated to KOREAN CUISINE. This photo was a large set of Piano Keys we found along some back alleyway clustered with all kinds of shops, bars, restaurants and tons of fluorescent lights. Some kid took the photo... Koreans are nice.

Downtown Seoul....filmed by Ella Kim

This was the first video we shot. It came out ok, a bit rough.

video

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oops! And that was 2008

I notice nobody ever comments on my political analysis blog entries. I supposed they are right on and no comment is needed, or maybe not.

Its not too early to define 2008 as the oops! year. Only that the people saying oops! are the well educated, established and self assured experts, and they were wrong in very conspicuous and highly visible ways. I offer just a few political and economic evidences of this that were heavily consequential:

1) Hillary Clinton with all of her political experience and highly paid consultants completely missed the mark by underestimating the Iowa caucuses as playing an pivotal role in the primary elections. She said in one interview essentially: "I don't put too much emphasis on Iowa...who knows who goes to the caucuses". Obama won by a huge margin and the rest is history.

2) The Romney campaign consisted of many people who previously worked on the Bush campaign. They assumed it was still in style to launch attack ads and underestimated the changes in the Republican and general American demographics. They were wrong.

3) I really find it almost appalling that people blame Greenspan so quickly. They loved the guy for 25+ years through 4 administrations, then times turn rough after turning over the mantle at the Fed and people blame him for their problems. But it is significant that he admitted mistakes and took some blame for his free market ideologies he unflinchingly supported for years setting the stage for the financial crisis to occur.

4) Lehman Brothers specialized in working with high net worth individuals and was known in the right circles and time and time again claimed everything was fine with there company as the marketplace got worse. Their headquarters stood defiantly just north of Times Square in Manhattan, it's a dark building in a way emitting an elite sort of invincibility. And yet no amount of CEO spin talk could cover up bad assets.

The very people whose job was to know the political and financial world the best made huge miscalculations. Many forces at play affected these and other decisions. Some of this is at least in part a general shift away from the traditional experts. The experts are wrong or the times and changing along with the culture, politics, technology and demographics.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Presidential Seperation


It was never more apparrent than at last night Presidential Debate how separated from the masses these two senators have become. They obviously had very different lives and mingled with starkly different crowds than the people in the room. But to me it was comical how often they could hardly feign condescending to relat to the people in the room.


With McCain incessent 'my friends' blurted out multiple times (often in the same sentence) to approximate himself to the crowd. Or Obama's afterthought comment stating he and McCain are two people who will be largely unaffected by this or any economic turmoil.


They seemed like two extremely self focus senators who either didn't know how long a minute was or couldn't figure out what the red light signaling them to stop meant as they blurted out the convoluted and often very unrealistic economic plans and packages. (Which I am sure their economic advisors spent days drilling them and dumbing down for them to understand). I mean McCain suggested Warren Buffet for Secretary of Treasury, when he A) Wouldn't do it and B) is advising Obama....


They seemed less comfortable in this atmosphere than ever and more accustomed to tony fundraisers with the rich and powerful-- and both seemed to look forward to a time when that type of social environment would compose most of their social life and encounters like this would be mostly in the past.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A time of Crisis

I remember in 2004 I was signing up for a checking account in California while I was working at summer job. I was returning
to school in a couple months so I really pay too much attention to the banking officer's push for me to try to
qualify for a special 0% interest loan for 24 months. But as I said no a couple different times and she piled
on incentives they had for young people to their first home I was struck by the oddness of the whole situation.

I was 22, working out of state, returning to school and leaving the state in 2 months, and my initial deposit
to open the account was not even large amount. She enthusiastically presented to me this program for getting
people 'like me' into a house. I had Economics with a former VP from the Federal Reserve who described in some
detail how the Fed sets rates and they fluctuate over time. Interest rates and Inflation was at an all time low
in 2004, but I knew all that wouldn't last much longer.

From this and other experiences it was obvious the level of aggressiveness exerted upon customers who probably didn't
understand the fundamental forces which affect the true cost and value over time was risky at best and illegal
at worst. It took 4-5 years for some of the effects of these loans to come to fruition.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hong Kong Vignettes





Seriously if people took pictures quicker my eyes wouldn't be closed, it was so bright and eyes are really sensitive









This is an awesome view of Victoria Harbor up on the Hill--- Tons of tourists---and the view is awesome.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sunny Daze


I got in my car today and put in an Sunny Day Real Estate pink album. The music brought back so many memoriesof being 15 and listening to the lead singer Jeremy Engicks unimitatible voice and melodic layering of guitar, bassand drums. I cranked up my car stereo. The pink album was their second album but the first of theirs I heard. I found out about them from someone in an internet chatroom. It took me morea than a few listens to get into it, the soundis more distant and less accessible along with the instruments and voice being much quieter than their other recordings. But as I listened to the tracks in my car it was nostalgia mixed with euphoria knowing that music could still express those same feelings it once did.

The band broke up right after this record and the lead singer Jeremy became a born again Christian. The bandreunited to do a couple more albums before pursuing other projects. They had a small but very dedicated groupof fans all over the country. Sadly they have been widely credited to have been a prime influence to emo music,even in this wikipedia article here their genre is listed as emo...ridiculous. This is something the band has denied or been clueless of. There music is so much deeper and involved than the emo trash I've heard.

This will be my favorite of theirs, and it reminded me of how much sounds shape you over time. I went to a JeremyEngick concert summer 2007 with my friend Brock Judkins, he played a bunch of new stuff and some old stuff, itall had the same passion as before.

Check em out--- the new band Paramore has been doing a bunch of covers from Sunny Day, they sound pretty good with a girl singer

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hong Kong Pictures


A view from the Buddhist temple on Lantau island in Hong Kong















Causeway Bay--the epicenter of coolness in Hong Kong.

Korean Pictures


Downtown Seoul the financial district. Ella took this picture and told me this river was new to the city.






















Ella knows the best Korean in town--- This was near the historic place called Insadong.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

4th of July

Four visits to SFO in 6 months is something-- I am very much over Pier 39 and the Wharf and all that area. But I like the weather and generally coastal feel of the area. The fireworks were a bit underwhelming since they were about 50% blocked by fog which mixed with the smoke. I stayed in San Mateo which was the first time down that way--nice area.

On the flight back I sat next to a Virgin America pilot who lives in Scottsdale-- He lived in Taiwan when he was 18-30 studying martial and working as video DJ in the early 90's when video DJ's actually meant something-- and he had huge dreadlocks-- We talked about the airline industry of course and there plans for growth and rumors and speculation about other airlines. Virgin America could be strong airline if it makes it past this oil crisis.

Also I noticed no one really comments on my political analysis and commentary posts, which are sometimes drawn out and wordy---but still

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

prediction come true

So I don't come out say this stuff too often (atleast I'd like to think that). But sometime in January/early February it was my opinion that presidential candidates based on the east coast (Guiliani, Romney, Clinton, Edwards) were having and would continue to have a tougher time connecting with people west of Virginia and East of California (generally speaking). Candidates like Obama and McCain seemed to have more success in these areas.

I based this off of looking at the results of Presidential elections for the past 50 years, taking a look at the home state of each candidate. This is mostly an extension of the whole red state blue state concept but looking to the past its not a new concept or atleast it shouldn't be. Both Bush's came from Texas and Clinton came from Arkansas, Reagan California, Carter Georgia. So a candidate from New York or Massachussettes... well its been a while since this was successful. Massachussettes vs. and inner state like Texas has lost since JFK (Kerry 2004, Dukakis 1988), so it seemed far fetched for New York or Mass to prevail against an inner state.

It was late afternoon when I remembered explaining this to a co-worker, I am glad I remembered.

cool comments

Just read through recent comments people have posted. They were mostly interesting and had some sort of insight to the post such as a connection with the location, or their view on future of x topic.

babycakes

On the flight back from Fresno/Yosemite as we landed the guy sitting next me opened his cell and I couldn't help but notice the person he was calling on his speed dial was "babycakes" I was and still am curious of whether that was a: wife, girlfriend, daugter or who knows what else...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Satur-DAY in New York

You can do a lot in a day-- but taking the red-eye into New York from Phoenix arriving around 6am, I mostly napped and hung out at my friend Alberto's apt. in Queens (15 min from JFK) until the afternoon. Then went to Union Square, checked out some stores, made a few purchases, got some food at a Spanish Food Restaurant with my friend Vanessa and Alberto (ate clam, lobster,oyster, shrimp, and chicken all cooked fresh in one dish) and then went up to Times Square to catch a cruise around Manhattan Harbor-- then got some food around midnight at ESPN zone in Time Square.

Balmy weather and mostly overcast day. But I saw a bunch of people I hadn't seen in a while. In retrospect it was really interesting seeing the place and people where you once lived and then to come back and see the same people in a totally new perspective-- in a way they are the same-- but your different. I had that experience a couple of times, moving to Denver then back to Seattle, going to College for a while and coming back, going to Brazil for a mission for 2 years and coming back. They all share that unique feeling that blends the past with the present.

Flew back sunday.---oh and I apologize for no photo on this post-- the 3-4 i took weren't very good and definitely not worth a thousand words...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Another S.F vid--Golden Gate Park-Japanese Tea Garden

video

Never been to Golden Gate Park before- its like a newer, cleaner and more botanically diverse Central Park. Wish I had some more good pictures to show. From the BART you have to take the N train-- so you ride with real san franciscans, not too easy to get to, but so worth it.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Grand Canyon- South Rim to North Rim: 11.5 hours

video

The Grand Canyon was incredible--It is enormous, quite the sight. This video was taken near the end. The total hike was 17 miles and we did it in 11.5 hours, which is actually really good time. At the restaurant after the hike a lady came up to our table and asked me if my name was Greg? I asked her "Do you want it to be?" She then laughed and said I looked just like somebody she knew (probably not very well), and thought I looked just like him. I then proceeded to explain that people have told me stuff like that about a dozen times in my life. I guess I just have an easily replicable face and physique, for better or worse... As the older lady left and all five of us at the table were laughing, she said she doesn't do stuff like that to pick up guys... True Story! It made the night for some people

Thursday, May 22, 2008

No Habla Espanol at Food City

There is a chain of Grocery Stores here in Phoenix called Food City which caters primarily to people who speak spanish. They have a variety of Mexican foods and most products are labeled in Spanish as well as English. Most people there speak spanish- however I heard a commercial on the radio featuring the fact that they don't only speak spanish. So I finished my ultimate frisbee practice and didn't want to drive to Trader Joes so I stopped at Food City, I got some cheap grapes and strawberries and some Coconut Ice Cream (hecho en Mexico!).

Whenever I'm in a predominantly spanish speaking area or store, I use what spanish I know to communicate. So I did the same as I arrived in the checkout lane asking "esta cerrado?" (is it closed?) when I got closer she asked "How are You?" in perfect English, I responded "just fine", more than a little bummed that she didn't want to speak spanish with me. For me that's half the fun of places like that, but oh well.

Monday, May 5, 2008

LIPO-sUTAHTion

I was in Utah over the weekend for an ultimate frisbee tournament. I reserved an economy rental car to pickup at the airport on orbitz for about $15, but when I got there all they had left was a red dodge minivan. The minivan actually had some pickup to it which was nice on the freeway.
But really what I found most interesting while I was on the freeway in my red dodge minivan was the amount of Billboards around Salt Lake advertising various forms of lip-suction service. I guess liposuction is what is in utah?-- (or maybe it is what is out in Utah...)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Letters from Iwo Jima




I saw this movie last weekend, I had heard about it when it came out and wanted to see it, and I finally did. It's a very intense movie in many ways and deals with a very harsh battle towards the end of WW II. It is all in the Japanese perspective of the battle. I really like when war type movies are able to portray what it was like for the individual during the battle. While watching is at times rather depressing I wouldn't say the movie is a downer, the english dubbing is done rather well.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Harvard Style Update

I really don't have much to post here---Since I wrote last I went to Boston and visited the Harvard Business School (HBS). I went to Boston for a day last year and blogged about it, I think Boston is pretty cool town, especially for going to school. HBS has a very nice campus with nice buildings that are well maintained-- and with the most billions of dollars of any business school, it should. So many leaders in Business and Government have gone to Harvard (I can think of atleast 4 presidents)

I am pretty big fan of the Case Method in which students read a case about some type of business problem for each class and come prepared to discuss and argue what the protagonist should do given the information outlined in the case and any other research or theories each student can come up with. I was in a last semester class of 2nd year students, so most of their ideas were well developed and articulated with a high degree of fluency.

I also had lunch at the Kennedy School of Government- They are dealing with issues related to students taking jobs in the private sector which is contrary to the school established mission which is educate leaders to go into public service. Not sure where I stand on that issue, but I do believe the person who assumes the heaviest individual debt should have a say in what career path they ultimately choose. Tuition is around 30k per year, and international students need to have 60k per year

...And the clam chowder is good in Boston...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

feeling 15

Listening to the Silversun Pickups in my ipod makes reminds me most of that feeling of being a teenager listening to alt-rock in the 90's. But the music has this sort of fresh feel to it that seems to set it apart from so much other music.

Friday, March 28, 2008

finally finished it

I got a book called Team of Rivals-- about the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln- for Christmas. I just barely finished it. Written for more of a broad audience (ex: no footnotes on the pages) in a very comprehendable voice. It focused on the inside story of Washington D.C and more specifically the inner workings of Lincoln's cabinet during the Civil War.

Nearly everyone in Lincoln's cabinet was very intelligent, had studied law and had experienced tremendous amount of loss during their lifetime. The author paints Lincoln almost as a miracle worker in getting the most out of the people he appointed to assist him in cabinet positions.

On the final page it summarized Lincoln's ambition to achieve based on his disbelief in an afterlife and his desire to accomplish something his fellow men could remember him by.

Although it generally doesn't go very deep, there is a lot of information there to really digest and internalize to understand the timeframe and thought process of the President and Cabinet. It really makes life in Washington seem pretty swell.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Gelato, Panini and Rome









From top: 1) Colesseum, 2) Fresh Gelato closeup, 3) Inside the enourmous St. Peter's Basilica, 4) Trevi Fountain

video



St. Peter's Basilica-- very very large.




video



This place is where the Roman Senate and Government



headquarters was located, Ceasar was cremated around here.



Also it was all underground until the 1930's, when Mussolini used



dynamite to excavate it to what it looked like at the time of Christ.



Monday, March 3, 2008

Oahu

My favorite comment I overheard in Hawaii was while I was down by Waikiki, it went like this:
Woman: "No, I like Hawaii"
Man: "uh huh"
woman: "I would just like to change the people of Hawaii..."

Unfortunately I didn't catch the rest. But here a couple videos from last Saturday in Oahu:


video

These are what they use to practice with for when they twirl fire. I had it for a little while, it was pretty fun while a bit frustrating to balance the stick on your thumbs just right.

video

Sunset Beach-- Great for surfing, the sand pebbles were huge and so soft.

Viral comments

Alot of the comments I get to my posts lately appear to Spam or possibly some other type of virus. I thought the strange looking letters you type in to make a comment would prevent that.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Not shy to be unshy

I have seen a lot of people labeled as shy. Some of these people who had just had a unpositive encounter will be protected later by friends or aquaintences by simply stating that "that person is shy" as an excuse for there ungracious or even somewhat rude behavior. While I believe many people are shy, I also believe that people often mislabel people as shy who simply don't like talking to people in general or more specifically don't like or want to converse with or associate with certain people. Maybe even this consistent behavior has led to people to lose social prowess they may have otherwise had, had they been interested in meeting people.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Obaminator


So Obama has been recieving a bit of criticism for 'borrowing' some words and ideas in his speeches, most notably from the current Gov. of Mass. Deval Patrick with whome Obama openly admits they exhange ideas and phrases.


But here is another phrase which has been central to his message lately and I believe I have the approximate source. He stated recently "the problem that we face in America today is not the lack of good ideas. It's that Washington has become a place where good ideas go to die." reference here. Now one year ago I was talking with a roomate about the Univ. of Chicago where Obama was a lecturer (I will let you check Wikipedia). My roomate said that his friend who attended school there said that people at the Univ. of Chicago called it "the place where fun goes to die". Of course the Univ. of Chicago and Obama are not the first places or people to have this statement attributed to them, but I found it very interesting given Obama's time at Univ. of Chicago, and especially with the claims from the Clinton campaign that he is borrowing ideas.


Really politicians in my opinion, very rarely 'create' ideas, they are more often the messengers who synthesize and communicate most effictively a certain message to the right audiences, and that is really what makes all the difference.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

San Francisco

I just shot both of these yesterday in San Francisco at the Martin Luther King Waterfall (right by the Museum of Modern Art) and at Fisherman's Wharf with Alcatraz in the background. I noticed the video angle isn't very good in one of the videos. I could blame the person who shot the video however I did watch them film it so I could have taken more notice of this.

video

video

Saturday, February 9, 2008

AntiAntiBiotics

So for a long time I really didn't get very sick. I would feel a little sick a few times a year for about a day or two, that's it. Then two years ago right after the bird flu scare started I got really sick for 7-8+ days. Since then when I get sick it lasts 4-5+ days, although it doesn't happen very often.
So I have learned with Anti-Biotics that the more people use them the more the strand of the bacteria is strengthened. So theoretically over time the bacteria that causes you to get sick with the flu will make you more sick for a longer period of time than it did before.
So I don't have much to base this off of, but I think Antibiotics have been overused, and right now I am anti antibiotics.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Costa Rica-worth the sunburns (for now)

For about 7+ years I have really wanted to go to Costa Rica, I don't even know completely why. Starting a couple of years ago I would take a picture of myself on my cellphone in the greenhouse and would tell people it was a picture from a recent trip to Costa Rica-hoping that the greenery with convince them for atleast a minute or two. It usually didn't work, but now I have pictures and multiple witnesses. Its quite a paradisically beautiful country with volcanos, rainforests, misty mountains and sunny beaches.


Here is photographic overview of my trip:


















This is from the canopy tours, a few hundred feet in the air-- spectacular view of so many trees/plants.


















Arenal Volcano- still an active Volcano with flowing lava and usually cloudy on top















I like this picture because it shows some of the natural beauty of Costa Rica. There were so many moments where we just sort of stood in awe at something like this.













The first beach at Manuel Antonio Park. We did some body surfing and built sand castles here. Mine was the strongest, if maybe not the best looking.




















This is in some deep rainforest, I think we were going for the hanging from vines Tarzan look.


Below: We did a rather intense short hike to get to this beach, which we actually left right after this picture, because we wanted something with more sand. From left to right: Me, Fiorella, Maria, Laren.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

2008=Bad Election for Bigots

I am thinking one plausible reason that candidates this election season tried for a long time to play clean campaigns was to avoid as much as possible any criticism and bigotry associated with each candidates respective race, gender, religous or ethnic background.

On the Democratic side you have Hillary and Barack. A strongly racist or bigoted person would most likely have a difficulty voting for a woman or African American. John Edwards although probably not viable at this point for president (V.P perhaps?) made it clear on many occasions in 2007 that if a certain voter would vote for him based solely on the fact that they would not vote for a woman or an african american that he did not want their vote. And so amongst the top three democratic candidates, there is no clear candidate for people with strong bigoted or racist views.

The republican side have a bit more to offer towards people with bigoted or racist views but not much. It's interesting with Romney how on one side people may be prejudiced against his religion because they don't see it as Christian, while others have claimed the religion is racist based on their own interpretration of church policy prior to 1978. You also have Rudy Guiliani who was particularly welcoming of any person (legal or illegal) who would work in New York City, many people with bigoted view may take serious issue with this. McCain and Huckabee also rather soft on illegal immigration and support what many in the anti-illegal immigration movement see as a rather easy path to citizenship.

McCain and Huckabee have sharpened up there stances and given greater emphasize to ''securing the border'', from a certain angle this could be an indirect way to offer appease bigoted voters as illegal immigration has become an issue at the forefront in surprising places like New Hamphsire and South Carolina where immigrant populations from Mexico are small but growing rapidly.

Guiliani comes of from a Italian Roman Catholic and McCain from Scotch-Irish descent (according to his website). In many parts of the country it may surprise people the strong prejudices and animosities which existed in the past towards people of these respective groups. Things are different now than they were then, which may be a sort of omen for what the election could like in another 4,8,16 or 32 years?

Either way with peoples views as they are today there may be no real clear candidate for the bigoted vote to flock to.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Some books I read last year (featuring mini reviews!)

These are some of the best books I read last year. I didn't get to nearly all the books I wanted to. But I did get to read several especially good books. (note: I have blogged previously about some of these, so I keep it brief here).
Perhaps since we are still sort of in the season I could rate these books as library card or amazon card worthy?






Freakonomics- Read it mostly on the subway. Easy to grasp and a fast read. It includes quite a bit of economic and social commentary that is good fuel for thought and conversation. I conversed with I think 5+ people about what the books states about the relationship between Roe V. Wade and crime. The book seems to be part of modern econ-political mantra these days.










Rats- Like the first book its a freaky title, but if you've lived in New York (or many other cities) you have probably experienced what led this author to write this book, seeing rats in all over alleys and subways. In interesting fashion this book describes the history of the struggle and clash cities have fought with our crawling fury little foes. Its mostly interesting, occacionally gross and like good non-fiction good come away with some off the wall facts that come in handy when you are talking about, say poison gasses used in Korea in World War II, seriously it happened to me.
P.S--I lived in NY less than a short block from where the author observed rats for a year as part of his research, crazy huh.






The Brother Karamazov- This is 900 pages of some of the deepest stuff I have ever touched. First 100 pages were not too captivating but it really had me soon after. It follows a pattern of story-philosophy-story-more philosophy/social commentary-story. The author explores some of the deepest human struggles with questions about religion, government, law and social mores. Very deep, very fascinating and worth the unending paragraphs and words that fill up the entire page.











Icon- This books takes you through the ride that is the life of Steve Jobs. Intertwined heavily is his life with the respective lives of the companies he helped build (Apple, Next, Pixar) and later reinvent. Not too techie and written so anybody interested in Apple, Business, Entreprenuerism or even just entertainment would really enjoy it. Insightful and motivating







The Innovator's Dilemma- This book is just over 10 years old now, and is still higihly regarded as an authority on why most companies (not just tech companies) succeed for a time and then fail. Not all of the companies discussed (in Harvard Business School's very Case Study Method style of course!) are equally interesting, but the business insights reading this gave me were invaluable. It seems like my few years of business study and experience were sort of pieced together as I read this (Hooray now I can strategize with the corporate Big Whigs), and it just might for you too... Maybe thats a sappy endorsement.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

scrabbled

word to the wise-- Be cautious when playing scrabble with people who A) don't read much, or B) have weak vocabularies.
Most of this can be solved with a really good dictionary, or with dictionary.com -- Even so, the game can turn painful as some people realize there is more than about 500 words included in the English language.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Opportunities

sometimes when an opportunity is over its like when a door is slammed shut, much to the shock to everyone present. There are other times when we see opportunity slowly fade away, like a gradual colored sunset.
Additionally its usually impossible to discover what additional opportunities were averted by not choosing the initial opportunity.