Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category
Happy 2011! I am spending Christmas break at home in Los Angeles. Life here is good. The weather isn’t the only reason; in fact, we had a miserable freak week before Christmas of record-setting, non-stop rain. But the sun’s out now, and every time I go outside jogging in shorts in the heart of winter, I feel like I’m cheating Mother Nature and can’t help but grin. The killer combo of the weather, the food, and the lifestyle here are why I love L.A. so much!
Today I want to share a New Year’s Eve (NYE) fireworks viewing tradition that I started a few years ago. I am perpetually annoyed by how at midnight the Los Angeles TV networks show nothing but recordings of the New York City Times Square countdown. How about some love for the live West Coast celebrations? Or acknowledging the rest of the world?
So after 2008 New Year’s Eve, I decided to do something about it. I scoured the Internet for high quality videos of NYE fireworks from around the world. Although HD recordings of TV coverage were ideal, they were hard to find so I also looked through amateur live recordings on Youtube/Vimeo, some of which were quite excellent. I downloaded my favorites and then held a viewing party, playing the videos on a 60″ HDTV using my PlayStation 3 as a phenomenal media player.
The viewing was a success and I’ve been doing it every year since. This year was the biggest viewing yet with 8 cities in total. I’m sharing my 2011 playlist below for all the other fireworks enthusiasts around the world!
Taiwan is the land of the mega-mall, with over a dozen in Taipei alone. On Thursday, Uni-Hankyu opened yet another new mall in the trendy Xinyi district of Taipei. The highlight of the grand opening was undoubtedly Taiwan’s first UNIQLO store. This Japanese casualwear retailer is popular the world over and Taiwanese buyers showed up in the thousands with wallets open, on a weekday no less!
The line was an estimated 3,000 people long, not only at start of business hours but continually throughout the day (and night!) as eager shoppers replenished the line. The wait to go in the store hovered around 4 hours. This may go down in Taiwanese lore as U-Day, signifying not only the arrival of UNIQLO to Taiwan shores but also the Upturn of the economy as consumer confidence builds into actual spending power.
The only USA UNIQLO store opened 2004 in New York City. When will Los Angeles get some love? I hate waiting in lines myself, but seeing mega line-ups might as well be erotic material for me. Lots of visuals for your pleasure follow.
Whew, the past two weeks have been crazy! What started as just a funny story I wanted to share with my brother and friends shockingly went global. When the flood of visitors first hit, I panicked as my site was mercilessly trampled. It took me over 10 minutes just to log into my FTP server. Triple that to upload WP Super Cache, a band-aid solution I hoped would ease the traffic stress. Luckily it seemed to work fairly well.
The floodgates have opened…
Now that the frenzy has mostly died down, here’s some miscellaneous notes on the whole adventure.
– Social media networks are so powerful. Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit — these and others were the engines spear-heading the madness. Out of these four, the only one I use is Twitter. Hilariously enough, my original tweet about the story was unnoticed. But boy, every time a power user tweeted a link to my site, the retweets were incessant.
– I was contacted by writers from newspaper organizations and magazines who wanted to publish articles about the story. They all requested phone interviews. I was actually considering entertaining the first interview offer I received. But as my article truly went viral and some people were misinterpreting what I thought was a fairly clear-cut story, I realized how easily words could be twisted. Suddenly the wild spontaneous realm of the phone interview, where I didn’t have a lot of time to shape my responses, was much less enticing. I rejected all the phone interview offers. Nobody was interested in an e-mail interview or Q&A.
– A major tech blog was interested in the exclusive rights to re-publish my story in full on their site. I didn’t realize a practice like this even existed. I declined the offer.
– I received a few dozen e-mails from writers for big-time websites, not to request interviews, but just to pat me on the back for a well-written story or to ask a question or two for curiosity’s sake. I definitely appreciate the gesture.
If you haven’t guessed already, I am fascinated by all the attention my site got in the past two weeks. Let’s face it, this is just a tiny personal blog that exists quietly in a corner of the Internet, known to only a very small few.
But surprisingly, the crazy traffic rush wore out its welcome fairly quickly. Want to know the biggest lesson I’ve learned from this experience? All these visitors and big-time traffic numbers mean nothing to me if they’re just people who click-through once and never return again. To my regular readers, thanks for sticking with me and I hope whatever attracted you to Protocol Snow in the first place keeps you coming back. To the new readers who like my content, some who have e-mailed saying you would never have discovered my site if it wasn’t for the iPad story, welcome!
Spring is here at last! With spring comes not only pleasant weather and girls in shorts, but also tons of jealousy-inducing blog posts about cherry blossom season in Japan. I subscribe to lots of Japan blogs and it seems everybody’s having a great time with the sakura flowers and hanami parties. A couple of my life goals: to experience Chinese New Year in Taiwan and to attend hanami parties in Ueno Park, Tokyo.
But even we in the USA can have our fun. Washington D.C., of course, has its famous Cherry Blossom Festival. And I’ve even discovered a random neighborhood close to my apartment that harbors a secret: a small street lined with cherry blossom trees!
A Taiwanese singer/actor named 阿Ben (Ah Ben) recently went on a variety show where the topic of the day was “name brand vs. no brand clothing”. He was head-to-toe in Bape merchandise and brought along some pieces of his collection to show the audience. There’s a lot of fans who will no doubt be interested in watching this so I will be supplying a general translation of what they talked about. Thanks to DJ-Shareen for bringing this to my attention.
On a side note, as a fluent Mandarin speaker, I’ve been asked why I watch so many Japanese and Korean TV dramas and no Mandarin-language shows. From my experience, there are only two types of Chinese and Taiwanese dramas — 1) poorly acted modern-day dramas featuring the latest hot singers or models who have no business making a show and 2) epics set in various dynasties of China’s long history, which have legitimate actors but uninteresting subject matter. I would love to be proven wrong though, so if you have a favorite Mandarin drama I should look into, let me know!
On my flight home to Los Angeles, I was lucky enough to ride a plane that was equipped with the in-flight Wi-Fi service Southwest is beta-testing. The Wi-Fi is switched on upon reaching cruising altitude at 30,000 feet, and then the fun begins. This was my connecting flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles, so I only had about half an hour to test out the service. Screencaps below with some basic speed tests. Overall I was impressed (click on pictures for larger images).
So with this flurry of blog posts in the past few days, it’s time for me to take a break. I have less than 5 months until I take the USMLE Step 1 exam, possibly the most important test of my medical career. As I mentioned a while back, I will be taking a blogging break until then so I have one less thing to distract me. I will, however, still be visiting my usual sites so don’t be surprised if I stop by and drop a comment (I can’t study all day after all).
My schedule for the next half year or so: finish the 2nd year of med school strong, prepare for the test in early June, attend my brother’s graduation at Harvard, come back to school for hospital orientation, and then a vacation at an undecided location. Take care, and see you in the summer!
I had planned to post about the Toto Washlet a few weeks ago when I returned to my Los Angeles home. These washlets aren’t that common in the U.S. and are probably best known as those “crazy Japanese toilets that spray water at your butt”. They’re everywhere in Japan restrooms, of course, but they’re also fairly common in Taiwan and I’m sure in other Asian countries. My uncle has had these toilets in his Taiwan house for a few years, which was an inspiration for my family to install them.
As school starts to get more intense and with the ultimate exam (USMLE Step 1) waiting in June, free time is hard to come by.
Oh who am I kidding, I still manage to keep up with my favorite TV shows (Top Gear, Top Chef, 30 Rock, and The Office) and do plenty of Internet browsing. But updating this blog has become secondary, as evident from the progressively lengthening time between posts. I have a few drafts that I’ll post this Christmas break, but I’m considering taking a blogging break for the first half of 2009, when I really have to get serious about studying for that test. I feel it’s a courtesy to announce a blogging break because otherwise readers might think the blog is dead if there hasn’t been any updates for a couple months. Nothing definitive for now, but I’ll see after the New Year and will make a separate post in the future about that.
Anyway, I was taking a break from studying for my Friday test (last one in 2008!) and came across a few links:
Iron Chef: Battle Souplantation
Maybe it’s because I’ve been studying too much, but I thought this idea was hilarious. Souplantation is a hearty buffet restaurant that specializes in salads and soups and is one of my favorite comfort restaurants. The food blogger who wrote this dined there with a friend and challenged her to make custom dishes with the available food.
I eat at Souplantation pretty much every time I go back home because it’s cheap and pretty tasty. This challenge brought back memories of a past Souplantation experience after my brother had his jaw surgery. When you eat at Souplantation, you start at the beginning of a long and winding food bar and make your way to the end where the cash registers are. My brother wasn’t able to chew anything, but he came with us to eat anyway to drink soup.
Of course, since he couldn’t eat anything, he was pushing an empty plate along the food bar, which I found very amusing. While getting bored waiting in line, I started taking vegetables and making a smiley face on his empty plate with the ingredients, the face getting more complex as we proceeded along the bar. I don’t remember if my brother was annoyed or not since he couldn’t eat, but the people waiting behind us were giggling.
My favorite model, Jessica Michibata, has recently published her first photobook. She updated her blog today with photos of a meet-and-greet session in Shinjuku with autographed copies of the book. I’m thinking about picking up a copy, though no U.S. retailer is carrying it last I checked. With the yen so strong these days, it’ll be pretty costly if I have to import it. Autographed copies have already appeared on Yahoo Japan Auctions though. Hrm…
Encore opening coverage
The opening of a new casino in Las Vegas is always exciting, though in this case Encore is just an expansion of Wynn Las Vegas. Still, I’m keeping an eye on this site, which will bring coverage from a couple of Vegas veterans as opening night approaches in two weeks. Since I’m a Los Angeles native, Las Vegas has always been a quick and easy vacation destination, a mere three hour drive away. I probably won’t be going to Vegas this Christmas, but late 2009 is definitely a possibility. Several new properties are scheduled to open by then for me to check out.
Alright, back to studying. After my test on Friday, I’m going home!
UPDATE: I can’t express enough how much I love Top Gear. If you haven’t seen it before, today’s episode is a good place to start because it has it all: super fast cars, entertaining and informative segments, laughs aplenty and gorgeous cinematography. Then go back and check previous episodes because they’re all good. This episode particularly sparkles.