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Jeju Samdasoo – drinking water from Korea

As a person who regularly drink water, when I relocated to Korea on work assignment, drinking water was one of the first things I did. I like to drink water myself and my favorite brand is easily Smartwater by Glaceau. I’ve noticed that I like the light clean taste of water, unlike Evian or Fiji Water, which is usually more bodied. Aquafinas or Dasanis are awful, too tappy-tasting to me and I think even its bottle cap smells awful. Never will I buy their bottle. Though back at home in California, I use tap water filtered with Brita. Tastes pretty good to me.

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Yet another iPad review

Though there are tens of thousands of iPad reviews already, I still feel like writing one and will be brief at that. Well, first all, iPad is unlike anything I’ve used before. Why? simply the hardware form factor of it. Every other device has a keyboard, so my brain was wired to using keyboards and to type in a rapid manner. Not on this iPad, my mind actually slowed down, altered the way I would normally compute. Okay, I just need to touch on the screen, swipe/tap something. Pause, absorb information in (combination of reading and scanning—basically looking for key points in each paragraph, from top to bottom). Then I move on to the next thing, whatever that holds my interests. As a webmaster for Google, I also looked at some of webpages and see how these look on the iPad. They all look clean, structural, thanks to a defined styleguide that we have developed over the years. e.g. https://chrome.google.com/extensions – plenty of whitespace, blue hyperlinks, one clear to action blue button, and page speed.

I had a VC chat with my parents recently and was showing them the iPad. My dad isn’t exactly very technical person but he grasped the concept of it right away. He likes to read comics, so I was showing different comics right on my iPad, also showed USA Today, which my dad subscribes to. Then I showed books and magazines to my mom. All within swipes and taps. The most important part of this is space. There are countless books, magazines around in my parents’ house and we’d have to haul them around, and re-organize again. There is none of that with my iPad.

Now, my mom’s thinking abt getting Kindle (says iPad is a bit too much for her), so she can read all the Danielle Steele’s books. But my dad will keep his USA Today subscriptions.

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Movie review: The Graduate

Thought I’d write a short movie review on The Graduate, acted by the young Dustin Hoffman.

The movie was made in 1967 and at the time, Dustin Hoffman was 30 years old but he acted like he’s 21 years old in the movie. For some reason, it also reminds me of another movie, Risky Business, with Tom Cruise, basically thinking abt what you wanna do after you’re done with college and a degree in your hand. While watching this movie, I had to remind myself that this was made in 1967, so the society was quite different back then, and clearly, everyone’s enjoying a rich, materialistic life in Los Angeles and the population was booming. Benjamin Braddock, main character, had his little red roadster revving around.

I’m thinking how I’d like to define this movie and one thing that strikes me is twenty-something syndrome. It’s that gap when you finish college and you need to decide what you want to do, often a situation enlarged if you’re trying to find a job. Benjamin was having that kind of syndrome as he ponders himself to his own thoughts, and his parents are zealous of his past accomplishments and prompting him to go to a graduate school. I’d say that the whole strength of this movie comes from Dustin Hoffman with his acting and have us bought in the story of the movie, though it gets pretty wacky.

The whole movie starts to kick off as one wife of a wealthy family named Mrs. Robinson (beautifully acted by Anne Bancroft) seduces Benjamin, which we learn that he’s a virgin, and well, he spends that entire summer doing pretty much one thing, other than driving his roadster and making himself well-known at the hotel.

As things start to get old, Benjamin realizes he cannot just keep doing this forever till he is persuaded by his parents to take out the daughter of the same family. Not really interested to do that but he was told by Mrs. Robinson that he cannot take her own daughter out (that, I’m not sure why but she probably knew he’d be enamored with her daughter if they went out.) Rather than discouraged, the competitive spirit kicks in Ben’s and he takes her daughter out. Ofc, he falls in love with her but things gets quite ugly when the daughter learns that he’s slept with her mother, now the holder of this slang, cougar. Things fall apart and the daughter resorts to study at University of Berkeley away from Los Angeles.

Back in that twenty-something syndrome mode, Ben thinks about what he wants to do, then he realizes he wanted to marry her and will do whatever it takes including driving back and forth between Los Angeles and Berkeley. In the end, his red roadster finally breaks down, and Ben is willing to use his sprints and energy to prevent the daughter from marrying another guy.

That twenty-something syndrome thing he was having in the beginning? Nah, that’s gone and happily married to a beautiful dirty blonde wholesome girl from Los Angeles, and an experienced one.

-nathan

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The New Sidekick LX

The new Sidekick LX is coming out on May 13th, though you can get on one sooner if you’re already a T-Mobile customer.

The pic here:

Before I share my opinion on this, one guy named Vic couldn’t have said it any better:

The sidekick found its humble beginnings in the deaf/hard-of-hearing world, and it has always been a text-based communication champ. You will not find a device that is easier to use for IM, rapid-fire email.

I had a Sidekick 2 a month after it came out and it served its purpose well. Contacting my friends through IM was my only option as using the cell phone is just plain fruitless. Consider that the “sidekick” plan was quite a bit cheaper than the blackberry plans as well as unlimited data plans. If this continues to be the case, it will continue to be the champion of instant text-based communication simply because of its physical format.

Even my Palm Treo 650 and Blackberry Curve cannot match the IM superiority of the sidekick, and it is something I sorely miss at times. Unfortunately, with the physical format being superior, the software and hardware has since the 3rd sidekick lagged one step behind in intuitive nature. We’ll see if Microsoft can change things around for the better.

That’s right. Out of all devices I’ve owned, I’ve yet come across a device that is more friendly typing than Sidekick does. Admittedly, I got caught up in the marketing hype and got on the iPhone’s bandwagon. While iPhone is nonetheless a great device, it’s definitely not designed for speed thumb-typing. You have to cautiously press on virtual keys and there is a certain lag between letters for them to appear correctly on the screen. There is almost no lag on Sidekick and I can type as fast as I could—purely from my muscle memory. The word I would use to describe Sidekick is the functionality. Research has shown that less than 5% people who purchased apps on their iPhone only play it more than 3 times. Pure entertainment and a waste of a few dollars—much to both Apple and developers’ profits. The new Sidekick has a GPS, 3G, tight integration with Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. A ping of a SMS or email is all you need to initiate a data transmission to your favorite app for communication. The best feature may be its screen resolution at 854 x 480 in a landscape mode in addition to its unbeatable form factor. iPhone’s screen is only 480×320. Nothing delights my eyes more than the highest pixel resolution available. Since it is a keyboard-based and isn’t a touch screen, it has handy keyboard shortcuts that get you straight to the selected app in one single action.

On May 13th, you and I have a hot date.

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The Namesake movie review

I just did something today that I have never done before. That was to attend a movie screening. Thanks to a cool girl I met recently, her name is Ally Burguieres. She works as a movie critic for her school newspaper at Georgetown University, so she gets to go to movie screenings and for free! Guess where the movie screenings were at? None other than the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) building in Washington DC, the sorry organization I’ve been leeching off from on my Linux server. The irony was that it was free too but in a different sense. The only difference was that I cannot put the movie on pause for my bathroom breaks.

Out of all movies that are out there, the movie turns to be “The Namesake” about an Indian boy who has an identity crisis with his name that is not even Indian.

Before I even start, I have this firm belief that if you are deaf and unable to hear what characters are saying and that there are no subtitles, there is absolutely no reason to go to movie theaters. You’d be clueless as to what the movie is talking about and you can slowly feel your ten dollars being drained away unless you think cool special effects justify the ticket purchase, which some of my friends did with Star Wars movies. It’s almost as same as buying a glossy hard-covered book with blank pages. When you finally do get out, your understanding of the movie isn’t that much better than you step into the theater before. “Light saber fights were so awesome!” “Um, why did Anakin turn into Darth Vader?” “Uh, no idea.”

But she gently informed me that this movie, the Namesake, might have some subtitles since it follows an immigrant family from India, settling into the city that is the most diverse city in America and home to millions of immigrants, New York City. In spite of that, the family moved during the 1970s and they were among the first group to migrate from India so the husband and the wife only had each other to support, then they had a son which they named Gogol. They spoke Hindu, thus, some English subtitles were shown.

The name, Gogol, is a Russian name taken from a short story author, Nikolai Gogol. It is his book that has miraculously stayed in the father’s bloody hands after he survived a devastating train accident which left him in a full cast and unable to move for a few weeks. After having recovered, they left India to live in New York City with his wife and soon thereafter, they have a first-born son and they decide to name him Gogol after the Russian author, to remind how lucky and blessed their life are and to be holding a healthy baby. Obviously they did not think about the social effects that the name may bring to the boy and his life.

Sloppily dressed in a navy baseball shirt with a number 83 on his chest, Gogol, acted by Kal Penn who was made famous from the movie, “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.”, shows what it takes to be an American. He dates a white girl, plays loud metal songs, rebels against his parents, smokes a joint and of course, hates his own name. Even his sister is equally American, spraying colors in her hair, sporting both bright and dark lip colors, and wearing fishnets on her legs. Later in the movie, it would have to take someone’s death in the family to finally realize what does it mean to be an Indian and sheds a baseball shirt with a white saree.

Kal Penn tries his best to portray as an Indian-American but his limpy body prevents him from looking like an All-American guy and resembles nothing like those model bodies in Abercrombie & Fitch cover magazines. Even in a few nude scenes, his body actually reminds me of Gandhi’s. Sad to say, Kal Penn’s fate, to me, may be already and forever sealed as a slacking college Indian whiz who smoke marijuana joints.

The movie takes us through different phases of life that we all may have experienced at some point of our life. It is a movie that reminds us that we aren’t the only ones experiencing life’s struggles and that all the immigrants who came to America, from the pilgrims to Englishmen to Germans to Italians to Irishes to Chineses to Purples and lately, Indians all experienced same things when they arrive at a new land with little of what they have. The movie moves mostly in a chronological order with a few flashbacks linking to the name of Gogol and ends with a feeling that is touching and that life shall go on.

Although the movie title says “the Namesake”, it doesn’t necessarily revolve around the name but we can see how the story is developed behind the name and how they resolve together to overcome obstacles they face in life—unknowns, hardship, death, infidelity, and family/cultural values.

If you found yourself covered in blood, barely able to move but you see this book that spells “Gogol” that stares directly into your eyes, you cannot help but bound to feel that you are meant to survive, to live and with that, you damn better live your life with a purpose. That’s exactly what the father did and in the end, the son finally understands and was able to accept his name, Gogol, for the reminder of what it is.

When she and I got out of the theater, I thought to myself, hey, that wasn’t too bad, with its limited subtitles and my lack of ability to hear but I could understand the movie and managed to make some reflections of my own.

What’s so cool is that I get to see a movie that hasn’t been released in theaters nationwide and free too!

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“Open Water” DVD review

Abiding by this tip to make your blog a worthy time to read, here’s my movie review for Open Water DVD.

For about the first time in my life, my parents actually watched a movie before I did. I often would be the first one to say “Did you see that movie?” to my parents or vice versa and I would always reply “Yes, I’ve already watched that.” Sometimes my parents would get frustrated that I’d already watch the movie and lose some family quality time. Anyways, my parents suggested me to watch this movie and they said very good movie. So, I decided to take their suggestion after all. I thought it was going to be some kind of “Jaws” movie, from the look of the cover. But it never was one, far from that and wasn’t even done professionally. What do you call that movie with high-quality film? Panavision? Open Water movie was shot with a DV camera with only four people mostly. Two characters (husband and wife), director and his assistant, apparently. That’s what I learned from reading one of the reviews on the www. It was like a documentary movie but wasn’t shot this way, like you would see in the 9/11 Fahrenheit movie.

I guess I’m a little lazy to tell you the whole story as you can find all about it on other sites but I do want to make this point so that you can appreciate the movie somewhat a little more. At the end of the movie, I wasn’t even happy with the movie and thought I wasted a good five bucks that I rented at the blockbuster. (Yes, I haven’t jumped on the bandwagon to subscribe monthly yet). Before I reacted too harshly, I decided to read some members’ reviews around in the www to get a better understanding of the movie somewhat. That’s how I learned that this movie actually took two years and was shot with only four people. Two in front of camera and the other two in the back. What sets this movie apart from the Jaws movie was they interacted with REAL living flesh sharks. They weren’t fake or made up with CGI or have any kind of special effects. I suppose that’s what made this movie a bit special, if you will. Also, I think Americans aren’t used to this kind of movie that is too realistic and doesn’t have a happy ending. So, when you watch this movie, please keep in mind that it’s a documentary movie (meaning no awesome special effects like Jaws or CGI effects like the Perfect storm), was shot with real live sharks, and the constant up-and-down shots (like the Blair Witch project) to make you feel like you are in the sea with the actors. All in all, it’s no Oscars-award winning movie but it does teach you a lesson. Be SURE that you’re known to your tour guide and that they know you’re here so they won’t forget if you get missing. :-)

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Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy

Since I’ve started working at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and getting steady paychecks, I’ve gotten become conscious of my cash flow. I want to be more financially responsible and grow my wealth. So I went to the Barnes and Noble bookstore and browsed through aisles. Found this bestseller and bought it. Man, I really learned a lot from this book—-common sense, advice, and wisdom make up the most part of this book. The book explains that being rich and being wealthy are not the same thing. It’s “Income vs. Consumption.” You may be earning more than 100k (only 5% of all Americans earn more than 100k) but you spend on a lot of things (consumption), such as 60 inch tv, fancy house, 2 or 3 different luxury cars, pool, and so on. These prevents you from becoming wealthy. You may look “rich” to your peers but inside, you’re really not.

The book has a formula of how wealthy you should be. (I left my book at home so I’ll look up the formula again) The big key to become wealthy is to “live below your means”. That means don’t overspend your income earning and try to have the widest margin between spending and saving as much as you can. The less you spend, the more you can save. Then your money begin to accumulate and build wealth. That’s all there is to it. But we are in the capitalism world and we’re surrounded by marketing—billboards, tv commercials, even competition with your peers who just bought a brand-new car or a big screen tv.

It also talks about Offense and Defense. We have to defend ourselves from those marketing pitfalls. Offense is accumulating wealth while defending against spending on items. I learned more about taxes and why people are always trying to avoid paying taxes. I realize that the government really takes a big chunk of your money (approx. every 30 cents of a dollar goes to the government), so the best you can do is to minimize your income taxes.

To do that, start investing in tax-deferred accounts such as 401k, TSP (Thrift Savings Plan for those who work for the Federal), IRA (Individual Retirement Account). Your paychecks will be deducted first before tax is charged. I plan to invest in these accounts as soon as I build up my savings account first (for emergency).

Finally, if you’re 25 years old or less, like I am, USE YOUR AGE AS YOUR ADVANTAGE because the younger you are, the more you are able to accumulate your wealth over time. So that’s what I’m gonna do. Start investing early and live below my means. That’d be a struggle for sure and takes some time to become used to it. My goal to be financially independent before I become 50. :-)

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