Back to boring everyday living again…

These days trying to save up as much money as I can to help purchase a place in Vancouver hopefully next year.. ideally I want to 1) get my mortgage down to $200k 2) leverage my current SF home to get a home equity loan of at least $310k and 3) save up at least $60k this year in cash.
I want to take advantage of the US dollar strength because $310k + $60k = $370k which equals roughly $500k CAD which is just enough to get a decent 1 bedroom condo in a decent location in Vancouver. Of course, I want to purchase a home back in Canada for several reasons.

One is that the US is not particularly friendly to immigrants and especially so since Trump took office, and I get harassed every time I go across the border, since I am not a green card holder, and the TN visa is not a dual intent visa which means I cannot apply for a green card on that visa. Furthermore, recent changes to the H1B, the only dual intent working visa, have made it more difficult for programmers / software engineers to obtain. This means that my time in the US is likely limited.
Two is that Canada is the place that I want to start a family and retire anyways. I have often said before after all my travels, is that America is the best place for working due to the high salary and low taxes and low cost of goods; China and Europe are the best places to travel due to all the history and natural beauty; Korea is the best place for nightlife and having fun; and Canada is the best place to start a family and actually live, since it has a combination of European and American culture, the tuition fees are lower, the healthcare costs are lower etc. And Vancouver is unique as the warmest city in Canada as well as being on the lovely West Coast, and having lots of Koreans (Long term workers not just students) there doesn’t hurt my future plans either.
Three is I want to finally be able to purchase my own place with my own money. I always felt like my SF home is kind of my parents home, since they helped out with 40% of the cash. I want to finally purchase a place all with my own cash and call it my own.

So I’m trying to save a lot of money, but of course this being myself I do buy some things still… among the things I purchased recently is the Milkman Amp 1 Watt Plus model. This is a Class A Tube Amplifier that was handmade in San Francisco so I thought I might support a local shop here. But don’t I already have a Class A hand-wired tube amp? Yes I do, the Swart Atomic Jr. But this one has more wattage (10W vs 5W), 12″ Alnico Blue speaker (vs the 8″ Ceramic in the Swart), built in attenuator (goes from 0.5W to 10W) and is better for traveling due to the tubes being covered (the Swart has uncovered tubes which makes it risky to travel with it, despite being lighter).

It definitely has more headroom than the Swart does. I’ve also finalized my pedal board! My pedalboard contains 10 pedals. I’ve gone through tens of different pedals in my career, and I’ve finally settled on this configuration (for now): (from first to last in the chain)
BBE Wah -> Boss Waza Tuner -> Dunlop EP101 Preamp -> Wampler Euphoria -> RambleFX Marvel Drive -> Keeley Magnetic Echo -> Xotic SP Compressor -> BBE Sonic Stomp Mini -> Hermida Reverb -> Boss RC3 Looper
Retired my Maxon TBO9 (served me well) and the Keeley Oxblood Germanium (might use as backup to the Euphoria), and had to get the Hermida Reverb due to the Milkman amp not having onboard reverb. It was a compromise I had to make, the bigger Half Pint model had onboard reverb, but it was also 5lbs heavier.

And I want to get rid of my Gretsch White Penguin and Traynor Amps, even though the Gretsch is a great guitar, it has intonation problems, and is still a bit heavy for my tastes. It’s definitely the best looking out of all my guitars though. So ideally I want to keep the custom Partscaster that I built (Fender Telecaster Thinline ’72 deluxe with Filtertron/WRH pickups) as my main jazz/blues guitar, with the Fender Stratocaster doing rock and blues as well, and the Martin OMJM as my acoustic doing mostly pop tunes.

I’m doing a lot of jazz guitar these days. I love it! Playing a lot of Larry Carlton and George Benson these days. And I also love that John Mayer’s new album (Search for Everything) has great funky jazz-type riffs like ‘Moving on and Getting over’ and ‘Still feel like your man’. That man is a genius. Best album for me since Battle Studies (Continuum obviously still everyone’s favorite). Here is my ranking of John Mayer albums btw (from best to worst) as well as my favorite songs from each album.

1. Continuum (blues/pop masterpiece) – Best song: Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
2. Room for Squares (great acoustic pop) – Best song: St. Patrick’s Day
3. Try! (his best guitar album, great blues/rock songs) – Best song: Gravity
4. Battle Studies (more great guitar-pop) – Best song: Friends, Lovers or Nothing
5. The Search for Everything (blends all his previous styles + adds funk/jazz) – Best song: Moving on and getting over
6. Born and Raised (acoustic-folk pop) – Best song: Walt Grace’s Submarine Test 1967
7. Inside Wants Out (like Room for Squares but more raw) – Best song: Victoria
8. Heavier Things (some songs are great, others not so much) – Best song: New Deep
9. Paradise Valley (not many songs I liked from this album) – Best song: Who you love

In other news I’ve also been playing games with my friend, being bored a lot at home these days makes you do that. We still play Far Cry 4 a lot despite it being a 3 year old game just because of how amazing the co-op experience is. I think I have like 30 videos on Youtube of our play sessions together. I even made my own map and published it!

Other games I’ve been playing are the fantastic JRPGs Persona 5 and Yakuza 0. I’ve loved both these series (wayyy more interesting than Final Fantasy XV for me) so that’s no surprise. Also finished Root Letter (it was alright, but the ending was unsatisfying), and both Blazblue Central Fiction (love that series) and Steins Gate 0 (also love that series as well). Also bought Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Mass Effect: Andromeda mainly because both of them have co-op but both of them were letdowns for me. And of course still playing Hearthstone, which just released a new expansion (Journey to UnGoro).

Also looking forward to: Fire Emblem Echoes (3DS).. Akiba’s Beat (Vita).. Agents of Mayhem (PS4).. Quake Champions (PC).. Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)

And that’s the state of my life right now.. everyday work, go home and play games, and save money. Boring existence. When’s my next trip to Korea?

Disney, Movies/Music preferences, Korean drinking games

You know, I’ve had this blog since Feb 2009 and I still haven’t wrote about a topic that always comes up in those interview-style introduction meetings I have whenever I meet a stranger; what’s your favorite movies/music? Yeah, its a really boring topic cause everyone asks it, but surprisingly I haven’t posted this on my blog yet.

I’ve been kind of on a Disney marathon these days; I’m really into the older hand drawn Disney animations and prefer them to the CGI ones. My first Disney film was Oliver and Company:

Very underrated movie. I would say my top Disney films are in order:
1. Emperor’s New Groove
2. Hercules
3. Oliver and Company
4. Wreck it Ralph
5. Big Hero 6

You’ll notice no Pixar films on here; I like Toy Story 3 the best but they don’t compare to these 5. Surprisingly I would put Wreck it Ralph and Big Hero over any Pixar film. The only film from the “Disney Renaissance” I listed is Hercules, since I loved that film as a kid. I’ve never been the type of person to like “mainstream” stuff so there’s no surprise here. No Frozen, no Lion King, etc.

As for other films here they are in order:
1. Rush Hour 2 (watched this like 20 times with my brother)
2. Office Space (watched 20 times as well)
3. Airplane!
4. Harold and Kumar go to White Castle
5. Grandma’s Boy

You’ll note these are all comedy movies; I have a strong preference for light hearted movies and dislike Horror because they are the opposite. I watched Groundhog Day three days in a row with different people a few weeks ago just cause it a movie I could watch over and over again. My favorite Action movie is probably X-men First Class believe it or not. And for Sci-fi the clear one being The Matrix. Favorite drama movie is Shanghai Kiss (its an indie movie). Again, I like blockbusters like Inception, Avengers, Titanic etc too but I’m judging movies based on how often I rewatch them. And clearly, the ones I listed I watched the most.

As for musical tastes, I like everything, and my youtube clearly shows that influence. I play songs from every genre. I started with Blues and Rock when I first started playing guitar in 2005. Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Cream, Pink Floyd, Guns N Roses were big influences. Then moved on to pop-rock led by John Mayer (still my favorite artist) in 2006. In 2008, I started playing piano a bit with my friend and was very influenced by classical music a la Chopin and Liszt. I also started getting alot into Taiwanese pop like Jay Chou and Wang lee hom at the time. Then in 2012, I got very influenced by pop thanks to a renewed interest in The Beatles, and bought an Acoustic guitar and started playing alot of pop songs. I also got very interested in Korean pop like Wondergirls and Girls Generation at the time. Then last year I was influenced by Jazz (Larry Carlton) and deep blues (Michael Bloomfield). So my musical interests are very diverse.

Here’s my favorite and most influenced artists by the date I started listening to them:
2002: Linkin Park, Blink 182
2005: Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton
2006: John Mayer, Stevie Ray Vaughan
2008: Chopin, Liszt, Jay Chou, Wang lee hom
2012: The Beatles, Wondergirls, Girls Generation
2013: Bruno mars, 90s pop
2014: Larry Carlton, Michael Bloomfield

As you can see, very diverse.

Now, a different topic…
Koreans love drinking games. I remember one house party in Incheon I went to in 2013 where me and my Korean friends drank until 6am. We played board games for drinking. My Korean ex-gf introduced me to some Korean drinking games back in 2012;
-Baskin Robbins 31, where each player names 1,2 or 3 numbers sequentially until they get to 31 and the person who says 31 has to drink.
-007 where a player points a finger at another person says 0, that person says 0 and points to another person and that person says 7 and says Bang! to another person and the people beside that person has to raise their hands up else they drink.
-Soju drinking game using Soju bottle cap. Every Soju bottle cap has a part that can be twisted, and each person takes turns flicking the twisted part of the cap until it comes off, then that person (or the people beside that person depending on which rules) has to drink. There’s also a number thats inside the cap. Each person takes turns guessing that number and the person who saw it has to say ‘high or low’ and the person who gets it right has to drink (or the people beside that person depending on which rules).
-the hand rhythm game.. I don’t how to really name this one, but each player has to do a series of movements in rhythm, first put their hands on their lap, second they clap their hands, third they make a thumbs up with their left thumb, fourth they make a thumbs up with their right thumb. The player who starts does these movements in rhythm then the last 2 movements (third and fourth) they say ‘player name’ on the third beat, and a number (1-4) on the fourth beat, then that player has to immediately keep the rhythm by saying their name 1-4 times. The number has to match the beat, so if its 1, then the player just has to say their name on the fourth beat. But if its 4, then that player has to say their name on beats one to four. This is hard to explain and maybe I’ll do a video sometime showing foreigners how to do this.
-The image game is a very popular one. Each person holds up five fingers on their hand. And then someone starts by saying an observation that applies to people in the group and whoever its true for has to put down a finger. So for example, if there were 5 people in the group and 3 were wearing glasses, the person would say ‘who here is wearing glasses’ and 3 of the people in the group has to put a finger down. Then it goes on to the next person. Whoever has no fingers up has to drink.

Me and my friend invented a game back in elementary school that can be played anywhere without requiring any object. It can be applied to all competitive situations and can be used for drinking as well. Its a game of knowledge, rather than physical skill. I personally like it since I read Wiki articles a lot and have a good breadth of knowledge. The rules are:
-A person picks a category. An example could be countries, states, colors, capitals, presidents, famous scientists, video games, programming languages etc I’ve even played this with the topic of Dinosaurs before.
-Then each person has to take turns naming one of the things in the category
-Each person has 30 seconds to think of something
-If a person names something wrong, or goes beyond the time limit or something that was already said before, they lose (or have to drink)

Its easy to play, and it tests a players knowledge rather than relying on pure skill. Try it out sometime with your friends next time you go to a bar or lounge!

Why I hate the Hangover part 2

Today is going to be another one of those days where I hate on Hollywood for making horrible movies. And the Hangover part 2 is one of them. Why do I hate it? Here are the reasons (contains spoilers):

1) It’s not funny

Why is this guy such a douche bag?
Why is this guy such a douche bag?

If the Hangover was supposed to be a comedy movie, then why isn’t it funny? Is it funny to cut off someone’s finger? Is it funny to put a bunch of random animals together in one scene? Is it funny to be shot by Russians? What about Alan? Why does he have to be such a dickhead in the movie? And having sex with a transgender is funny? This is just one of those movies which has pure stupidity and 12 year old humor in it. It’s not worth your time.

2) Racial stereotyping of Asians

Is this guy representative of Asian males?
Is this guy representative of Asian males?

One of the things that really offends me about this movie is that it has an obnoxious effeminate Asian guy in it, playing somewhat of a role. He was in the original Hangover too. Who does this character appeal to? White college kids? Who at Warner Bros decided to put an ugly obnoxious Asian guy with a heavy accent in there? Is that supposed to be funny? I mean, god forbid Hollywood actually decide to cast a handsome Asian guy with no accent, because according to them, they don’t exist. And what about the Asian girl in the movie? The one that Stu (the main character who is coincidentally white) is marrying? How come she is good looking and has no accent? Hmm so yeah, lets have double standards for Asian guys and Asian girls in a film… what a joke.

3) It’s unrealistic

Do you want this guy to marry your daughter?
Do you want this guy to marry your daughter?

Yeah, so the plot involves the ‘wolf pack’ going around Bangkok trying to find Stu’s wife’s lost brother Teddy. When they finally find him, his finger has been cut off (thanks to the gang), and Stu and the rest of the gang ‘borrow’ a boat to crash into the island where Stu’s family is staying. However despite all that, and her family not liking Stu, after one crap line about how he loves her, all is forgiven, and he is allowed to marry his wife with good blessings. How stupid is that? Is it realistic that after all the trouble Stu and his friends have caused, including causing Teddy’s finger to be cut off, that her traditional Asian parents will allow Stu to marry her without saying anything? What a bunch of BS. And not to mention, even on the drunkest of nights you wouldn’t do what these guys did. Its not even possible to do all that in the span of one night. Another reason why you shouldn’t take this film seriously.

So that’s why I hate the Hangover part 2. One of the worst movies ever (it represents everything wrong with Hollywood), and I hate the fact that it made a lot of money. Maybe that’s why Warner Bros keeps making them. Maybe stupidity, Asian stereotypes and unrealistic plot makes for a good draw at the box office. Oh Bruce Lee, if only you knew that 40 years later, Asian stereotypes have only gotten worse.

In other news, I had my cell phone stolen last weekend. I was getting on the bus in Japan town and this black dude comes out of nowhere, takes my phone out of my front pocket and takes off. I was too surprised to react much. Definitely a shock to me. Good thing he didn’t erase my data (my phone auto logs in). Now I’m without a phone, and AT&T is going to charge me $500 for termination of contract + new phone + new 2 year contract. Geez. And iPhone 4S vs Samsung Galaxy S2? Hmm not sure yet, but if I’m going to get a tablet someday, I want my phone and my tablet to have different OS. So either Galaxy S2 + iPad or iPhone + Galaxy Tab. I don’t know yet. But I do want to develop some Android apps for tablet (given there aren’t that many Android tablet apps yet).

I also recorded a jam of New Deep a few days ago. I used a Boss RC-2 Looper and created my own backing music, and then added some drum beats in, and improvised on top of that. Enjoy.