Saturday, January 31, 2009

Web Cam

I finally broke down a purchased a web cam for the laptop, not that I have any uses for it. I wish I did. Maybe getting the camera will be the kick in the butt to find some. I also signed up for Skype and Windows Live. I tried to download Google Video and Audio chat but have failed so far.

Skype is really cool and I have wanted to use it for sometime so if you are a Skype user let me know because right now I do not have any contacts on Skype. The best thing about Skype is your can do a video call to anywhere in the world with another person using Skype and the call is free. My co-worker Henry has a son in Europe and they are using it, each video call is free.

The web cam got me thinking about communicating online. The beauty of email and messaging online is one can really speak their mind and not have to worry about actions or reactions. Having a webcam kind of eliminates that animosity.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy New Year

Considering it has the world's largest population, it is not surprising China is most known for its Chinese New Year, with it lavish celebrations and fireworks. However it is really the Lunar New Year which is celebrated by many Vietnamese, Koreans or any culture following the moon instead of the Roman calander.

In Korea, "sol-nal" is a time to sweep away the misfortunes of the previous year and look forward to new endeavors.

On New Year's Eve, people place straw shovels, sieves or rakes on their doors and walls to protect their families from any evil spirits arriving with the new year. The New Year's day ceremonies begin in the morning with the donning of formal dress (hanbok) by family members. The first component of the day's activities is the rite of charye, or the honoring of the past four generations of ancestors. Food and drink (the exact form of which varies according to regional and family traditions) are offered on a ritual table (charye sang).

It is traditional in Korea to thoroughly clean your house. Continuing the theme of renewal, only new clothes are worn on New Year's Day.

Family members wish each other prosperity and good fortune. Then they exchange gifts. Children receive lucky money, candy and fruit from the elders.

Children kneel and bow to their ancestors and elders.
After this act of reverence is completed, it is time to pay one's respects to the living elders of the family (saebae. This takes the form of younger family members bowing deeply to the elders, first to the grandparents, then the parents, then the uncles and aunts. The bow is accompanied by the New Year's greeting "Sae-hae boke mahn-he pah-du-sae-oh." Usually, the elders give something to the people offering saebae: food, money, drink or something similar. In the old days, these rituals would have been performed door to door, but in today's Korea, family is quite spread out, so Sol-nal offers a family a good excuse to travel back home.

Michelle tells me this is the worst time to travel. Since the majority of younger people live in Seoul and travel to country. A trip that normally may take 3 hours will take 10 hours.

Finally, it is time to sit down to the traditional breakfast, a meal which almost always includes ttok-guk. Ttok-guk is a thick beef broth with thinly sliced rice cakes that have been topped with green onions and other colorful garnishes. Some people eat ttok-guk mandu guk instead, which is ttok-guk with mandu dumplings. Tradition dictates that this food must be eaten in order to turn one year older. This is very important as Korean age is calculated on the New Year. Everyone becomes one year older on New Year's Day.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Feeling Good

I am feeling pretty good. At 38 I can run 6 1/2 miles at a 7:38 pace...and that is taking into account San Francisco's hills.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wifi Idea

Many of you have grown tired of my business ideas...ideas that never get off the ground but eventually hit it big for somebody else. Can you say 'cupcakes?" Here is an idea I know is going to be a big technological hit, if only I knew who to talk to to get it done. Know anybody?

Close range quick Wifi downloads. Here is the concept: You are in the grocery store and you see that butternut squash but you have no idea how to prepare it or have a recipe for it. Not to fear, you have your Wifi enabled mobile device handy. At the store display for butternut squash there is a transimitter of some kind allowing you to download recipes for that butternut squash. The download only works when you are near the squash and this transmitter. Elsewhere there are downloads in the meat department pertaining to that rack of lamb. Or, you can access all this information only when you are in the store and not at such close range.

Another application would be a trade shows or events. You visit a booth and want more information. Just download it right there.

I find it similar to POS advertising; the candy, magazines and gift cards you see at checkout counters. Instant and easy access at the moment you are thinking about it. What do you think?

I shouldn't look...I shouldn't look...Oh SH**T

I know the market has been in a freefall. I know the Dow is below 8500. I see the individual stock prices at 52 week lows. I see the unemployment numbers. I know my investiments are being drained but I tried to avoid thinking about it. Like many I figured I would just ride it out. Heck, I don't need the money now and I can not really get my hands on it for well over 30 years anyway.

On a daily basis the economic crisis has not really hit home for me; I am no where near retirement, I don't own a home or have a mortgage and I am fortunate to have a high paying job. Heck, I was even considering this a prime time to buy and invest more. Today changed that. Today brought it all into perspective. Today I have new found sympathy for those less fortunate than me and those nearing retirement. Today I did what I had been avoiding. For various reasons I had to check by retirement and 401k account, an act I had been purposely avoiding for months. I shouldn't have...but I couldn't avoid it any longer.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama Pride

I watched with pride Barack Obama being inaugurated as our 44th President. I have great hope and dreams right alongside his. It seems everybody has such high expectations. I want people to realize he is only the President and not the Messiah (if there is such a person). One man is not going to save us. I don't care who that man is. Not only is Barack Obama not going to save are going to have to save Barack Obama. It is up to each and every one of us to make this country great. He can lead the way. He can set the pace. He can lift up our spirits. But it will be up to us to get the work done. And don't think for a second whatever little you CAN do won't matter. It does.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Skiing Marching Band

If you think it is hard to ski, try skiing while playing a musical instrument. It is strange to see and hear somebody play the trombone or flute skiing along side them coming down a mountain but that is what happened while Michelle and I were at Kirkwood. The Cal Marching Band was there. Here is video of them not skiing but still playing at the bottom of a run.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Only in Canada

Here are a few of the only in Canada photos.

San Francisco has the Cable Car - Vancouver has the AquaBus

A handful of totem poles.

One of the hundreds of 'polar bears' daring enough to jump in the bay on New Year's Day as part of Vancouver's Polar Bear Swim. No, neither of us joined them. We thought about it and even went looking for some swimwear but wouldn't you know, the stores don't sell swimsuits in wintertime. And for good reason.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Street Eats

I love street food. Talk to me about food long enough and I will somehow work street food into the conversation. Canada does not seem to be a street food city. Maybe the freezing cold and snow has something to do with it. I only saw the usual boring hot dog stand and the seasonal roasted chestnuts. But it does have one appetizing street meal I love. The JapaDog. A Japanese-style hot dog has gained media attention and the palette of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. It is not surprising for Vancouver to have this since the population is one-third Asian. For the most part it looks like your normal hotdog stand and you can order a normal hotdog...but why would you when you can try one of these -

The Terimayo is the most popular. An all-beef dog, grilled and topped with nori (seaweed), grilled onions, teriyaki sauce, and wasabi mayo.

The Miso Mayo, a turkey dog topped with sesame sauce, wasabi mayo, and kaiware (daikon radish sprouts).

The Oroshi, a pork sausage topped with daikon oroshi (grated radish), scallions, and soy sauce. The Asian ingredients had the flavor effect you would expect and mixed perfectly with the smoky pork sausage.

Instead of ketchup you can add Wasabi Mayo. Delicious.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Snow in Canada

Yes, one should not be surprised by snow in Canada but this year's snow levels in the Vancouver area were rare. Perfect for our visit.

Back from Canada

Michelle and I are back from Canada and our delayed honeymoon. Tons of snow, as expected in Canada.

A few of the unexpected include:
1. Condom vending machines in the 'washrooms' at Vancouver Airport - where are you going to use it?
2. Canadians are still under the spell of Bryan Adams and go crazy for him
3. There really is no truly 'Canadian Food' like BBQ is to America or pizza is to Italy or Kimchee is to Korea.

Some of the expected but still surprised:
1. Canadians are very polite - twice somebody gave me change on the bus because the machines don't take bills (why is that?!)
2. You want polite, the bus driver waited at a stop so a passenger could run into a McDonald's to get coffee
3. Canandian TV is really bad. Words can not explain, you just have to watch. Plus, most of the news focuses on the Canadians infatuation with the U.S.

Humming along in SF

This has to be one of the few places you will see a hummingbird in winter. Snapped outside the living room window.

Atheists Advertising

This is brilliant. Atheists with an ad campaign. Too bad Agnostics didn't think of this first so the 'probably' could be removed.