Categories
General

Let’s talk watches

TSo, a lot of people might know me as the guy who geeks out about laptops, computers, electronics, guitars and such. But some people might not know that I’m also a geek about watches as well. I’ve always liked mechanical watches, in particular, because I’m at heart an engineer and the engineering that goes into something so small and precise is quite fascinating.

I like established Swiss and Japanese brands of course, but I care more about the style of the watch itself. I don’t like sporty looking watches, or chronographs, or watches with too much going on in them. Some complications I do like are date (a must have IMO), day (nice to have), moonphase (looks cool and nice to have), heartbeat (looks cool and nice to have), dual time zone functionality (useful for travelers), tourbillion (useless but looks very cool). I think those are all great looking or useful complications.

After doing a lot of research I can separate different watch brands into the following tiers:

Really cheap (<$100)
Timex
Casio
Swatch
Seiko 5

Mainstream / Affordable ($100-$1000)
Seiko
Citizen
Bulova
Shinola
Orient
Victorinox
Tissot
Hamilton
Longines
Raymond Weil
[Misc Fashion brands] like Michael Kors, Fossil, Diesel etc

Entry level luxury ($1000-$5000)
Tag Heuer
Oris
Frederique Constant
Grand Seiko
Bremont
Baume & Mercier
Sinn
Mido
Rado
Tutima
Maurice Lacroix
Montblanc
Junghans
Nomos
Tudor
Eterna
Stowa

Mid level luxury ($5000-$10k)
Rolex
Omega
Cartier
Breitling
Hublot
Chopard
Zenith
Ulysse Nardin
Universal Geneve
Bell&Ross
Jaeger LeCoultre
Girard Perregaux
Glashutte Original
Piaget
IWC
Panerai

High level luxury ($10k+)
Patek Phillipe
Vacheron Constantin
Audermars Piguet
Breguet
Blancpain
Richard Mille
FP Journe
Jaquet Droz
A lange & Sohne

So because I am not the type of guy to buy something *super* expensive (my dream car actually is only a Genesis G80 which is entry level luxury car), the watches that I go for are also just ‘entry level’ luxury brands.

My previous daily driver dress watch was an affordable Orient Sun and Moon ($300~)

Orient Sun and Moon
Orient Sun and Moon

It was a solid mechanical watch, and Orient is well known for making really good value mechanical watches for the price, and also producing their own movements in house which is impressive.

However, since I just recently got myself a couple ring for my girlfriend (>$1k), I thought it appropriate to up the watches that I wore as well. I went for two luxury watches this time, because both of these watches serve different purposes. My budget was $5k for both watches put together. I liked watches with ‘simple’ looking complications and having a very clean style. After doing a lot of research I settled on these two:

Oris Greenwich Mean Time
Oris Greenwich Mean Time

The Oris Limited Edition Greenwich Meantime ($2000) is a nice watch to use both as a daily driver sporty looking watch, and as a travel watch. I especially liked the subdial showing a second time zone. Since I travel between Korea/Canada/US very often its useful to have this feature. Also note the steel bracelet and date window and power reserve complication here. Oris makes great quality mechanical watches so this is the one I picked.

Frederique Constant Classic Moonphase
Frederique Constant Classic Moonphase

The second watch I picked as a dress watch, is the Frederique Constant Classic Moonphase ($2700). This one was more expensive due to the watch being an in house movement by FC themselves. I looked at a bunch of other cheaper options but I just couldn’t get over how beautiful this watch was. Rose gold plating (I know, not real rose gold but cmon look at the price), beautiful subdial for the date, moonphase complication and alligator strap just won me over. FC are also known for making great value mechanical watches especially when they use their own in house movements and not outsourced ETA movements.

So yeah my total cost came to $4700, which was just under my $5k budget. I know this seems pretty expensive still but I think of it this way – a good quality mechanical swiss watch can actually last several lifetimes. I can pass it down to my kids in the future. When you think about how much I spent on electronics, laptops and guitars, then $4700 doesn’t actually seem as much as you think. Anyways, I’m happy with these two watches and hopefully they will last me many years to come.

Smartwatches over $200:

  1. Apple Watch ($200)
  2. Motorola Moto 360 ($350)
  3. Pebble Time Steel ($250)
  4. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 ($200)

Traditional watches over $200:

  1. Oris GMT ($2000)
  2. Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase ($1300)
  3. Junghans Meister Calendar ($1500)
  4. Hamilton Ventura Elvis80 ($800)
  5. Seiko Presage Cocktail Time ($600)
  6. Nomos Tetra ($1500)

Other watches (worth less than $200)

  1. Seiko Kinetic ($150)
  2. Seiko 5 ($50)
  3. Fossil Abacus ($70)
  4. Casio Databank ($50)

Categories
General

New Job and uncertain future…

Well, as a lot of my friends know now, I was laid off a month ago at my previous company Walmart Labs, and I’ve spent the last 2 weeks doing a lot of hectic interviewing. I enjoyed doing interviewing and coding exercises when I was young but now I am kind of annoyed of having to do them over and over. And companies judge you a lot based on how well you do on those, based on arbitrary parameters. I did get to learn a lot more ReactJS and Angular 2 / TypeScript and did get to compare the two a little. Its interesting that JS, once a language that was thought to be a ‘kiddie’ programming language, now can be considered more closer to Java than ever now, as we have ES6 and TypeScript and classes / static functions / constructors / type checking all coming into play now.

So after interviewing with a bunch of companies, I’ve settled on a small-medium sized company based in downtown SF called Spigit, which is an innovation management company. Part of the reason I chose them is because 1) they are in downtown SF and I hate commuting 2) the people and work environment reminds me of Switchfly the first company I worked at which is a good thing 3) they will work with Angular 2 which I did enjoy learning and feel its not a steep a learning curve as ReactJS.

Other than that, life is boring. I got homesick a lot when I was living in Korea, and now that I’ve been back for 2 months, I’ve missed Korea a lot too. I only have one good friend Ethan here, and we usually hang out at least once a week. My other good friend Tony moved down to Redwood City so its hard to see him, and my other good friend Patrick is pretty hard to get a hold of these days as well. So yeah its been hard making friends, and I find myself more and more missing my life back in 2011-2014. Those were the days when I could go to meetups, meet a lot of cool people, there were a lot of Korean international students back then, and I liked working at my company. That’s part of the reason why I chose this company is because it reminds me of my old one – but I know that times have changed, and the Meetups are definitely not the same as before and there’s definitely not as many Koreans in the city as before.

I used to meet Koreans a lot on the conversation exchange websites – now I am lucky to see even one new Korean on that website I haven’t seen before. I think its a combination of Trump’s anti-immigration policies + cost of living in SF going up that has driven away alot of international students.

I have pretty much given up hope of meeting the right girl now. I failed to bring a girl back from Korea – and now there’s 0% chance of meeting a Korean girl here that would be interested in me. Its hard to meet ANY Korean here, let a lone a cute girl who’s interested in me. And SF might be the worst place ever to meet a girl – not only is SF getting more and more gentrified – which means more engineers come here which are mostly men – but any decent looking girl who comes here automatically gets bombed / spammed by guys as soon as she comes here! There’s absolutely NO chance of meeting anyone on a dating site because almost guy here is on there and any cute girls get their inbox spammed after a few days – its not uncommon to see some Korean or Chinese girls with their inbox too full to even message on OKC! My friend’s current gf (who is Chinese so she doesn’t usually wear makeup or dress up that much) gets hit on constantly at her work and guys constantly compliment her and want to take her out and buy her stuff. And that’s without her putting that much time into her appearance! Imagine if the typical makeup / short-skirt wearing Korean girl comes here what would happen? I fear they might get stalked and/or raped.. I’ve had stories of some of my Korean friends going back to Korea and still being contacted by guys that they met in America a year before. Combine this with the fact that most girls in SF don’t pay attention to their appearance + are super feminist = you get tons of desperate horny guys here salivating for traditional Asian girls.

Adding onto those woes, my plan of going to Vancouver has been thwarted by my company suddenly letting me go – and remote jobs are really hard to find so my new plan is to stay with my new company for a year – I am a contractor now after all – and save up money to buy a place in Vancouver so I can move there in the future.

I also have some travel plans this year. First of all I should go to Vancouver next week so that I can renew my TN Visa with my new company (fingers crossed Trump won’t make any changes with the TN visa), then I will definitely go back to Korea sometime in the summer.
I have three girls who *might* be interested in me back in Korea – one of them is emotionally unstable, one of them is married and has an abusive controlling husband so I’m trying to convince her to divorce her husband, and the other one doesn’t speak english well and has never been to US or Canada before and doesn’t want to quit her job in Korea. So yeah -pretty grim choices I think, but I’m definitely more desperate now than before and really regret being as picky as I was back in 2015.
Finally – I want to go back to Canada and visit Toronto and Winnipeg again to meet my Korean/Chinese friends as well as my brother. Hoping to go sometime in the fall.

Right now, pretty depressing relationship-wise and trying to save up money..

Well, I started working again just 1 week ago, and as ever it feels so tiring commuting to the office everyday and working at a smaller company –
the demands are higher, that’s for sure, and I can’t coast like I did at Walmart anymore.

I had hoped that working at Spigit would bring me back to my glory days working at Switchfly, 2011-2013 where I had the best time of my life both
with cool coworkers and with meeting cool friends at language exchange meetup after work everyday.
But times change, and those days are gone now. Meetups aren’t the same anymore. SF became way more gentrified now, there’s way more guys here than girls, and very few Korean students are here compared to before. Yeah, I’m working at a small tech company downtown again, but everything else has changed.

All my friends went back to Korea or Taiwan or Japan. One of my best friends in SF moved down to Redwood City and he works in Mountain View so I can’t see him that often anymore. I only have one good friend left in SF now and I hang out with him so much that I feel like I really need
to get away and have another friend to hang out with cause hanging out too much with just one guy isn’t good for me. I need some variety.

In Korea I was homesick about SF, but mostly homesick about going back to working a normal schedule again and not having to sleep in the daytime and live like a vampire anymore. In Korea, it was terrible for my health. Everyday I woke up at 5pm or 6pm, then went to some meetup, met some people
I probably never talk to more than once or twice, go home, I would eat fast food or instant ramen or pasta or rice at 12am and then start work at 2am, then eat again at 5am then sleep at 10am. I maintained this schedule for TWO freaking years. And never went to the doctor or hospital because I was afraid of my Korean ability and also did not have health insurance. As you can imagine, it took a toll on my health. I am definitely not as healthy as I was back in 2014.

But I knew that as lonely as I was living in Korea like a vampire, living in SF was just as lonely. It’s soul-less here. I feel like since I started working my life has become totally robotic. Every day, wake up, go to work, eat, finish work, then meet my friend for gaming or eating. On weekends its the same, gaming or eating with my one friend. And he has a gf so its not THAT bad for him, but for me its far worse since I know I have NO chance to meet a girl here this year.

When me and my friend went to Vancouver we saw a place where there was an even ratio between guys and girls, a place where Koreans actually stayed long term to work, etc. SF is different. There’s way more males here than females due to a concentration of engineers. It’s like in China, where guys outnumber girls and as you expect that kind of ratio favors women way more, making SF a much better place for girls than for guys. Whether for pricing reasons or visa difficulties or Trump or everything, there’s almost no Koreans that stay in San Francisco long term. Almost every Korean here is a student or a traveler. I hosted several Koreans and other Asians at my house as a Couchsurfing host much as I did in 2014 since I enjoyed meeting new people, but sooner or later they eventually leave since they are temporary, and once again I become lonely. There’s very few options for me anymore other than to just tough it out this year and save money to go to Vancouver next year or year after. There’s no way I can move back to Canada right now since the American dollar is so strong and I can earn literally double what I can make in Canada.

I also don’t think I’ll ever move back to Korea again. And unfortunately for Korean girls, most Korean girls that I like either have a bf already, or live/work in Korea, and don’t want to move abroad or are not interested in me or all three. Since they are so conservative especially compared to Chinese, Koreans usually stay within their own country and date their own race. This makes it very difficult for a foreigner like me. Working in Korea is so hard and most Koreans are incredibly busy due to how much they have to work, and they make very little money on top of that. So there’s pretty much no point to try to work in Korea if I can get an American job.

I can try to find a remote job again, but then I would have to risk the time difference problem and thus my health again, which I don’t want to do. What if I was a freelancer and could work my own hours in Korea? Well, that would be better, but there’s still a fundamental problem… in Korea most girls meet guys through blind dating. In Korea I never had many friends that would introduce me to girls. The main reason I believe (since I can speak Korean fairly ok for conversation) is because I couldn’t stay in Korea long term, and eventually I would go back to Canada or US. And that will always hold true. I don’t think I would ever live in Korea long term… its very difficult for me to do so since I don’t have a house or family there. And since Koreans are so conversative about moving or living abroad, basically this narrows my chances to women who: 1) I can meet either at meetup or online 2) keeps in contact with me (very difficult since in my experience 90% of girls I meet online and meetup eventually stop contacting me or become too busy or get a bf) 3) speaks decent enough English to live abroad 4) has a desire to take a risk and live abroad particularly in Vancouver/SF 5) is open minded enough and has parents that are open minded enough to date foreigners 6) has good compatibility with my interests 7) is cute/slim/feminine enough for me (most Korean girls satisfy this but just putting it out there) 8) Is interested in me enough to start a long term relationship with me
As you can imagine it is VERY difficult to find a girl that meets all those requirements, even in Korea during the 2 years I was there it was very difficult to find a girl who can satisfy all that. That’s why even if I could find a remote job, I don’t think I would live in Korea again… there’s too many challenges still meeting the right girl there. That’s why Vancouver or even Toronto are far better places for me since I wouldn’t have to change my schedule around, I eventually will have to move back there anyway since I only have a US work visa and not a green card, the Koreans there are not as busy as they are in their home country, and the Korean girls there are already “pre-filtered” in a sense (they already have a desire to live abroad since they are already there, and probably have a desire to meet foreigners as well). Of course, the downside is I would still have to find the “right” girl but I think my chances are as good as it can get if I move back to Canada. It’s not like I had good chances getting girls to like me in Korea, their home country anyways.

On a positive side note.. I did a brief overview of all my UMPC collection / gadgets! here they are:

Categories
General

My background and what Korea means to me

This is probably going to be my most personal blog post in quite a bit. I’m going to explain why I am the way I am, and what made the way I am today. People who know me, know me to be a shy, quiet person, with very strong opinions on some subjects, and a love of Korean culture.
Let me give you a bit about my background… (btw I’m not worried about privacy here).

I was born in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China in 1988, the year of the dragon. I’m not full Chinese – my mother is Manchu, and my dad is full Han Chinese, thus I consider myself a “mix” even though Manchu’s look like Chinese and speak Mandarin Chinese.
My hometown is Manchuria, an area invaded by the Japanese during WWII around the same time they occupied Korea.

When I was four years old, in 1992, China was still very poor, and only started to become more capitalist. My family was poor, and we immigrated to Canada to seek a better life. My dad was already there attending Queen’s University, so we settled in Kingston, ON at first.

After my dad graduated, we moved to Orillia, ON, a small city in central Ontario about 2 hours north of Toronto (why my parents chose to move there remains a mystery to me). Even there, my dad had to work long hours to make ends meet for our family (my brother was born in Orillia). We started out in a small apartment, and then gradually saved up enough money to purchase our own home.

I grew up in Orillia, Canada
I grew up in Orillia, Canada

I lived in Orillia for 12 years, until I was 18. Orillia is a small, quiet waterfront city of 30,000 people, and there were no Asian people there, so it was always hard for me to make friends. Being shy and introverted, I was always a loner with a few close group of friends in elementary and high school. I tried to fit in more in high school by playing on the local football team and hockey teams, but it just wasn’t meant for me. An anecdote of just how shy I was back then; I would often hide in the bathrooms before classes started just so I wouldn’t have to mingle with students in the hallway. I hated making small talk (and still do) with people.

Plus, high school was too easy. My high school life consisted of: playing guitar, playing Magic cards, and playing video games. My mom often tried to hide my guitar and my computer away from me and forced me to study math books instead, thinking that I didn’t do any homework (I actually finished all my homework in class). During high school, I worked several menial jobs like being a dishwasher, cashier, YMCA supervisor, skating arena cleaner, waiter, etc. It was tedious but it taught me the value of money. I had only a small group of friends in high school, all white (no Asian kids in my city), and all male (I was terrible with girls back then).

When I was 18, I decided to move to the big city in Canada, which was Toronto, to attend university at the University of Toronto, the biggest and most prestigious university in Canada. I majored in Computer Science because I had been designing websites and hacking games a lot in my high school days, and it was a natural fit.

In my first year, I stayed at a dorm roomed with a Korean roommate. He introduced me to Korean culture and to Korean church where I attended for a year and made some Korean friends. This was my first introduction to Korea. After only half a semester, I moved out to live with my dad. My parents you see, work in different places. For some odd reason my parents chose to stay in the small city of Orillia, and my Mom works there, but my Dad has a job in Toronto, and thus my Mom essentially lives by herself during the weekdays, and my Dad commutes back and forth between Orillia and Toronto (a 1.5hr drive) every weekend. They have been doing this for the past 15 years, and they are too secure in their jobs to think about moving. Anyways, since my Dad owns a place in Toronto, I mostly lived there during my university years.

University College was my resident college
University College was my resident college

UofT is one of the top schools in computer science, but it was absolutely brutal in marking assignments. How good a lecture was completely depended on the professor teaching it, and some courses I passed based on luck and last minute classmate help only. Even though I felt more at home with more Asians (UofT is roughly 40% Asian), every night I had to study in the library or in the computer lab to finish programming assignments, and thus had no spare time to socialize.

In addition, I was still quite introverted and it was still hard for me to make friends outside of my computer science classmates. One incident happening during university which changed my personality forever. I met a girl in my FLC (first year learning community) which was quite helpful to me to make friends in freshman year given my shy personality. Basically all my friends in Toronto I met during frosh week and my time in FLC. Anyways, that girl was friendly at first, but then after a few months she started getting really annoyed with me for some reason, and I had no idea why, and ultimately my pestering caused her to become quite rude and hostile to me. She was ultimately a bitch, but at the time I was a pretty innocent guy, so it changed my views on how people react to me. From then on, I didn’t care as much about the reactions people have towards me, whereas before I was trying to make everyone happy with me. I never did reconcile with that girl, but its fine because it taught me a lesson. Life isn’t all roses.

I originally wanted to do a double major in commerce and computer science (this was also when I did Commerce Toastmasters which improved my public speaking), but ended up doing a double major in Economics when some of the CS courses became way too unforgiving. I was quite good at Economics and my 80s/90s in those courses helped bring up my GPA. During this time I worked as a caller for the UofT Alumni and some co-op jobs to help pay for my tuition. Also, I took a full semester of Chinese and practiced on QQ and made some Chinese friends on there in order to raise my Chinese level back up from years of growing up in a non Chinese environment.

After I took a great internship opportunity (called PEY) for engineers and worked for the Canadian government for one year, I realized that I had to move to the United States in order to escape the cold boredom of Canada and also the high taxes and low wages. I became more politically conservative and also started investing in stocks around this time. And Silicon Valley was where I wanted to be. So I applied for a bunch of California jobs before I graduated.

Luckily, one company gave me an offer! If it wasn’t for them, I would have been in Taiwan on an AIESEC internship (AIESEC was another club I joined in my last year of university). So I ended up in the heart of San Francisco, where I’ve always wanted to be. This was one of the highlights of my life as I could finally tell my family I was going to be making good salary, especially since my dad didn’t think I was going to amount to anything, as my parents didn’t have high expectations for me (my brother was always the favorite), but I proved them wrong. Why did my father always look down on me? Especially since my Dad was also a programmer, and I had been doing websites since I was 12 proved that I had engineer blood in me, you would think he would have had more trust in me.

My office was beside the Transamerica Pyramid
My office was beside the Transamerica Pyramid

I was the youngest engineer in the company I joined, so I only had one other friend who was slightly older than me but still Chinese American, but we got along well due to our similar personalities and interests. He remains a good friend to this day.

San Francisco had much better weather, much better technology, and even more diverse people than Toronto, but it was no easier for me to make friends. People here were just too quirky for me, and I found myself wanting to be more and more Asian, towards my roots. Although I had some Chinese friends in university, here in SF, there were more Koreans than Chinese, so most of my friends ended up being Korean. And I really accepted Korean culture, since my college roommate was Korean, I had attended Korean church with him before, and Korea is very close to my birthplace in Manchuria.

I had also found that I enjoyed Korean food more than Chinese food, and that I was more attracted to Korean girls than Chinese girls. This must be some kind of genetic thing, as I can’t really explain it. When I went to Korea last year, the culture was completely different, everyone was more conformist and hung out in groups, it was more about being together than being individual kind of thinking, and I felt much more at ease, like I belonged more there.

Seoul's massive metropolis was completely different than America
Seoul’s massive metropolis was completely different than America

So where to next? It seems that my thinking has become more and more Asian, and less and less American, so it seems inevitable that my next step be to move to Korea (where most of my friends are) and live there a year or two, just to confirm my suspicions that where I belonged all along was… back where I came from. But this isn’t easy, as I didn’t want to be an English teacher, nor do I want to work as an engineer in Korea for long hours and low salary. But I hope that there is a way I can be happy and find what I’m looking for over there. I’m 26 years old now, and it’s about time I finally find a place to settle down.

Busking in Hongdae
Busking in Hongdae
Hiking up In-wang mountain
Hiking up In-wang mountain
Gangnam nightscape
Gangnam nightscape
At Lotte World
At Lotte World

To be sure about my love for Korea, here’s a video I recorded while in Seoul for submission to the 3 minute Korea video contest:

httpv://youtu.be/mkA6p2vV0nY

…and some good news!! My Korean language learning website has been converted to WordPress mainly because of WP’s built in sorting/searching functionality and support for plugins for SEO and Facebook commenting. Check it out here: http://tmk.blueisme.com