Boast about the past

Old man loves to boast about their past, telling stories about their gold days.  Pat’s dad used to serve in the army, he always tell us his army stories.  He is very proud of he won the first place in the army shooting competition.  Unfortunately he last the trophy or medal or whatever certificate, so he couldn’t show us the prove.  Every time when he told me that story, I intuitively assume he is just boasting like other old men.  I think Pat also secretly doubt how trust worthy the story is.

Today I bring him to the shooting range to have some father-in-law, son-in-law bonding.  The last time he had touched a rifle was 40 years ago.  His skill is a bit rusty at first, but he regain it fairly quickly.  Provided that he haven’t fire a single shot for many years, his marksmanship is actually very good.  He can put all ten rounds into the black circle, something that I can only archive on a good day.  Now I have no doubt that he had won the shooting competition.  Taking into account he has age quite a lot, I am pretty sure he shots better than I do when he was young.  He looks so proud when he show the target sheet to Pat after we got home.  I guess he must be very happy today.  Not only that he enjoy shooting, he also proved his past glory.

I guess shooting is like riding a bicycle, once you learn the skill, you will never forget.

Immunization

It is wise to take immunization and vaccines before traveling to third world countries.  Those places are so poor in hygiene that have many deadly diseases.  I just visited the travel clinic today before my trip to India.  I guess India is not a very healthy place, I have to take 7 different vaccines, Tetanus, Diptheria, Polio, Hypatitis A/B, Typhoid and Dukoral.  My arm is sore and numbed for having poked by 3 needles.  The vaccination is not cheap, I have to pay almost $300 just for the vaccines.  The most expensive one vaccine is for Malaria, one pill per day for the whole trip and the pill is $5 a piece.  Actually, there are cheaper vaccine for Malaria, just that the expensive one has least unpleasant side effects.  Luck that the company is paying for it.

There is a parsimonious manager in my company.  He is so cheap that when he book air ticket, he will take a transfer instead of direct flight to save $100 for the company.  I wonder when he travel to India, which Malaria vaccine did he get.  I bet he would take the cheap one over the expensive one.  If he suffer from the side effects, like nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, insomnia, would he regret not spending the company’s money?

Sardine

We have heavy snow fall last night, the streets are covered with snow this morning and the road condition is pretty bad.  Many people left their cars at home and take the sky train to work.  I have to go to downtown this morning, so I am one of the crowd in the sky train station.  The sky train rail is covered with snow, which the computer auto pilot system cannot handle, so for the first time, I see sky train drivers.  The single seat at the front of the train is indeed the driver’s seat.  There is a hidden control panel under the windshield.  Since the train service is limited and more than usual train riders, the station is full of people waiting to get on the train.  The trains are so full that I can only manage to squeeze myself into the 3rd train.  I feel like I am in a can of sardine fish.  On a normal day, the train is not totally packed even on the rush hours.  People can still move around quite easily.  Last time I feel like a sardine was riding the HK MTR, I never thought the sky train can also be this full.

Indian Visa

Everyone traveling to India need to apply for a visa.  India is famous for their bureaucracy, so the apply for a visa needs to fill out many forms.  First I have to get two Indian passport size photo, which is difference size than a Canadian passport.  Then I have to get two letters of reference, one from my company and one from the company I am visiting.  I also have to fill out a from provide detail information on my trip, answering irrelevant questions, such as how much I make.  I feel that is an invade of privacy, want the Indian government wants my salary for?  On what ground that they think my salary is related the nature of my travel?   At last, I have to fill in the real application from, which ask not only my information, but also my parent’s information.  How can where my dad was born be related to my trip?

India always boast their success in outsourcing in the high tech industry.  They claim they will be one of the major economy power in the world.  If they really want to go global, they really have to reform their traveling policy.  They have to be more welcome to the foreigners.  We go to you place to spend money, why you set up so many hurdles not letting me come?  I can understand why USA have a tight visa policy, because they have the problem of illegal immigrants.  No one wants to immigrate to India.  I am pretty sure everyone travel to India for work wants to go home as soon as possible.  They don’t have to worry about we will be staying in India illegally.  Why can’t they just grant us visa free entry to save everyone’s trouble?

Honey Moon Planning

Honey moon is the most important part of getting marry.  The wedding day is more an event for family and friends, and for the formality and paper works.  The honey moon is the enjoying experience for the newly wed couple.  I am assigned the task of planning our honey moon.

Pat want to have the real papal blessing from the Pope, Rome has to be in the itinerary.  Yes, it is the real papal blessing from the Pope, face to face, not just a phony piece of paper.  We know at least two couples got the real papal blessing, we just have to go through the paper work with the Church.  I want to relax in the honey moon, so no back packing style city hopping.  Package guided tour is out of question, since it won’t work with our papal blessing schedule.  With so many constraints, I come up with a perfect itinerary.

Fly to Rome, stay there for a few days, then take Mediterranean cruise.  We will let the ship take us to visit different cities.  I already narrow my decisions down to two choices.  A 7 nights Royal Caribbean cruise or a 10 nights Celebrity cruise.  Both are round trip cruise boarding from Rome, so the traveling is minimal.  Since the ship return to Rome on 5a.m., we can go straight to the airport and catch the 12:30p.m. return flight to Vancouver.  The question is should I trade 2 extra days in Rome with visiting 3 more ports.

Hit and run

Today I have a mysterious hit and run.  I was driving on the Sea to Sky Highway coming back from Whistler.  The road condition was pretty bad, it was snowing and the road is icy.  I drove slowly and very careful.   There was a pickup truck in front of me suddenly put on its brake, probably because the car in front of him also break.  I brake at once, but the ABS is not working.  I couldn’t turn either, the wheels has no tracking.  My car is slowly hitting the back of the pickup truck, slide to the side of the road and have half of the front buried in the snow.  The airbag is not deployed and we have 3 or 4 seconds to prepare for the impact.  Very luck, we were not hit by cars fellowing us, so no one in the car is hurt.  The first car following us somehow has very fast reaction, they manage to cut to the left and pass us.  The car fellowing turned sideway and pull over ditching into the snow.  There were quite a few cars ditched into the snow behind us.

It’s in snowing, it’s dark and it’s on the highway.  We remember the safety tips, stay in car, call the insurance company, call the tow truck company and wait for help.  I can see a few cars stopped about 50 meters ahead of us.  Probably they can’t break and have some collisions.  I would expect the driver of the pickup truck come over to get my driver license, but no one ever come by.  The police came but they ignore us and go straight to the cars stopping in the front.  They didn’t come back to ask us anything either.  When the tow truck finally came, the pickup truck is already gone.  I hit someone and he ran away, I guess it is still a hit and run.

I don’t know  what is going on.  I definitely hit someone, the front of my car is damaged.  The fend flew away, the hood and a side panel is deformed.  The pickup truck seems didn’t realize he was hit.  The good thing is that no one reports the collision to ICBC and make a claim, I can keep the same safety status.  We have speculated a few theories why the pickup truck ran away.  One possibility is the pickup is so strong that there is virtually no damage to its back.  Another possibility is the driver had alcohol, so he want to get away before the police come.  The most probably but hard to believe scenario is like this.  When our tow truck drive away, we do see a car have similar damage in the front as my car.  Remember the car following us who manage to dodge us?  I think they rear end the pickup as well.  The pickup couldn’t tell two hits from one hit, so just copy down the driver license of the other driver.

After many hours of troubles, my car finally arrived at the body shop.  I hope my car is repairable.  It would be a lot of headache if my car is totaled.  I would have to shell out extra money to buy a new car.

Booking my flight to India

This afternoon, I was booking my flight to India.  There are not many airlines flying direct to Bangalore.  I am not adventure enough to take an internal flight inside India, so my options are limited.

The most straight forward path is taking Air Canada/Lufthansa, making a transfer in Frankfurt.  The connection time is perfect, not much time is wasted in the airport.  The itinerary looks great except it is flying via Europe.  India is exactly 12 time zones away from Vancouver, so flying west should be the same as flying east.

Only Singapore airline have direct flight to Bangalore.  Somehow, the travel booking websites somehow couldn’t route the flight via Singapore.  They always route it through Europe.  I have to print out Singapore airline’s flight schedule and try to work out the connect flights myself.  Singapore airline only flies 3 days a week form Vancouver to Singapore, so I can’t leave on Friday as planned.  The flight arriving at 11p.m and the daily flight from Singapore to Bangalore is at 10p.m.  The timing of the connect flight is not looking good.  I can also fly to San Francisco first, then to HK, then to Singapore and catch the direct flight to Bangalore.  It will be 3 stops compare to 1 stop taking Lufthansa, not very desirable either.

At the end, I book with Lufthansa to save the trouble.  For the 2nd trip, maybe I will stop by HK and try the SFO route of Singapore airline.  Too bad that HK has no direct flight to Bangalore, yet.  Dragonair will have daily flight to Bangalore starting May 1.  Taking Cathy Pacific and Dragonair, stop over in HK would be the best flight itinerary.

Big endian vs little endian

The endian is one of the most confusing concept in computer design. I remember it took me so long to remember their difference in year 1 computer course and then I forget which one is which shortly.  The endian answers the question what is the proper byte order inside the computer, to be more specify, which bit should travel first. The big endian thinks the most significant bit should go first, while the little endian believe the least significant bit should go first.

The term big endian and little endian is coined by David Cohen in his legendary paper On Holy Wars and a Plea for Peace. The terms are originated from Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. In the tale, there are two countries Lilliput and Blefuscu go on war for what is the right way to break an egg, on the big end or on the little end. They are big endian for the former one and little endian for the latter one. In the tale, Swift is satirizing the holy wars between religions with the egg war. Which end to break the egg is such a silly question that people should eat their egg any way they like. However if two computers want to communicate, they have to share the same endian. So, it is some sort of holy war in the computer world, and either side is not going to give up easily.

The little endian have their idea coming from daily language, such as English. We write characters from left to right, start with the first character, second character and so on. Thus, they think it is natural to send the least significant bit first. The big endian are inspired by the mathematicians. In maths, we write from left to right begins with the most significant digit. Each camp has its merits and has been rallying troops for the endian war.  The paper was published in 1981, almost a quarter century ago. Today, the computer world is still split along the line of endian with different protocols, architectures on each camp.  This give us lots of headache when we are building chips to bridge different protocols.

It seems the endian war will never end. As Cohen said, agreement upon an order is more important than the order agree upon. Shall we toss a coin?

寶貝計劃

Rob-B-hood 以前成年的電影﹐拍出來總是像倒模一樣﹐套套差不多﹐看多了也覺得悶。今次「寶貝計劃」狀態大勇﹐給人耳目一新的感覺。可愛趣緻的嬰兒誰不愛看﹐想出把嬰兒和動作電影﹐兩樣不干相的東西加來坐的這個編劇應記一功。電影有老中青三代男演員﹐許冠文﹐成龍﹐古天樂﹐不過最搶鏡的還是那個嬰兒﹐他才是這套戲的真正男主角。

故事是說三個神偷做世界﹐偷不到錢卻偷了個嬰兒。成龍和古天樂變湊仔公﹐鬧出笑話一大堆。原本打算是嬰兒換錢﹐不過兩個男人又拾不得。最後壞人要搶嬰兒﹐於是大打一場大團員結局。主線的劇本一般﹐犯了港產片於理不合的毛病。不過細節處理得出色﹐有讓人噴飯的笑話﹐有緊張刺激的動作﹐也有感動窩心的場面。

兩個大男人給嬰身弄得手足無措﹐又要餵奶又要換片很好笑﹐雖然有點似抄西片Pacifier。開場電梯飛身教嬰兒﹐中場嬰兒車大戰運款車﹐這兩場的動作設計巧妙生鬼。成龍抱著嬰兒入賭場那一幕最有真情﹐不想教壞嬰兒只好自己戒賭。古天樂湊仔湊上癮﹐由不負責任的男人﹐變成負責任的爸爸也很妙。

這套戲有很多地方好看﹐最悶的反而是成龍那些招牌動作場面。最後的冰窖大戰施得太長﹐不停騷成龍的猴子戲功夫。其實他這些招式耍了二十多年﹐觀眾早已看膩了。拍電影與學習一樣不進則退﹐成龍大哥怎可以靠食老本﹐不停重覆他那些動作招式呢﹖

終於寫完了所有影評﹐還清了在飛機上看的電影債。下個月我要出差飛長途機﹐恐怕又會一口氣看很多套電影﹐又要晚晚筆耕寫影評了。

美女食神

Beaty Chef 荷里活的爛片也有三斤釘﹐但始終是大製作靚特技﹐尚餘不少觀賞價值。香港爛片則糙製濫造﹐內容無聊低俗﹐免費下載也嫌浪費硬碟空間﹐更不要說浪費時間看。看後完想寫點評論﹐除了盡情地狂罵勁踩外﹐基本上沒有什麼好寫。

王晶導演早己是爛片的代名詞﹐這套「美女食神」又怎會例外。那一期興美女廚房﹐於是他便開部話題電影湊熱鬧﹐順便騙騙無知觀眾口袋的錢。總票房好像只有百多萬﹐證明香港的觀眾眼睛還是雪亮的。故事內容不詳細說了﹐八成抄周星馳那套食神﹐不過當然畫虎不成反類犬。電影找來一班電視明星演出。李克勤唱歌好聽﹐但做戲真的不敢恭維﹐好像自「浪族闊少爺」以來﹐演技從來沒有進步過。余詩曼是無記視后﹐不過她把拍肥皂劇那套拿來拍電影﹐表情跨張虛假﹐用來拍歡樂今宵的搞笑劇就差不多。其他的演員全是大綠葉﹐表出功多藝熟﹐可惜劇本白痴胡鬧所限﹐完全沒有發揮機會。戲中最過癮倒是周中師傳﹐比美女廚房時更抵死。

大慨我給荷里活的爛片寵壞了﹐看完「美女食神」才知什麼叫低處未算低。若果不是坐長途機百無聊賴﹐我絕對不可能與這套電影拉上關係。原本打算看來接觸香港流行文化﹐看看現在香港興什麼樣的電影。不過電影沒有觀票不流行﹐並不能代表香港流行文化。除了李余二人的死忠粉絲外﹐我倒好奇有什麼人會購票入戲院看這套戲﹐不知道他們是什麼心態入場呢。