July 30, 2007

Projekt Revolution Tour with Linkin Park

Last weekend, I went to see the Projekt Revolution concert with some of my friends from Google. The concert started at noon and didn't end till 11:00 at night. It's a tour that featured 10 different bands playing all day long. The main attractions to the crowd is Linkin Park and the Chemical Romance.

If you have been reading my blog, you should know that I am a big Linkin Park fan. That's why I was so excited to see them perform live! I ended up getting to the concert at around 3:30p.m. after stopping by Google to get some snacks with my friends. Linkin Park came on stage at 8:40p.m. and the atmosphere of the concert was surreal. Everyone was so hyped up to see them! You can click on the link above to see the pictures and two videos I took during the concert.

The funniest thing was that I happened to run into an ex-colleague of mine. She visited me in Hong Kong in June and I didn't tell her that I was back in the States to sell my car. When I was on my way to get a beer, I heard someone with a familiar voice yelling out my name. She was pretty drunk when she spotted me. I felt really bad, like being caught cheating on my wife or something, so I ended up buying a round of drinks for everyone. It was actually very comforting to run into her and see that she's been doing very well at her new job.

Overall, it was a great day. I got to hang out with some of my buddies at Google. It's too bad that we couldn't stay for the encore because my driver wanted to get out of the parking lot earlier than the rest of the crowd! But it didn't really matter because I had a great night!

July 26, 2007

Rooney's Concert

Pictures Taken from the Rooney's Concert at the Slim's in San Francisco, CA.

July 22, 2007

Lavender Picking at Los Gatos Farm, California

Last time when I was driving on Hwy 17-S to Santa Cruz, I saw a sign on the side of the highway saying that you can cut your own lavender. Lavender is very popular in Hong Kong and people usually pay a lot just to get a small bag of it. A lot of people in Hong Kong even take guided tours to Japan to see the lavender farm. I love lavender a lot because it does have a very relaxing smell.

Anyway, two weekends ago, I ended up forcing my friend to go with me. He said it was the gayest thing he has ever done. When he called his wife on the phone that he was cutting lavender with me, his wife was laughing out loud. The farm only opens to the public on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:00p.m. for people to cut lavender. They charge US$7 for a big bouquet of lavender. The lady told us to hang them upside down in a cool dry area for a week or so. The lavender flowers will then fall off and you can collect them in a small bag and put it in the bathroom or so.

You can check out more about the Los Gatos Farm at They also have horses that you can ride.

July 18, 2007

July 14, 2007

Chelsea vs. Club America

Last Sunday, I went to see the Disneyland Cup Invitation Match at the Stanford Stadium featuring Club America (A Mexican Soccer Team) and Chelsea F.C. It's the first time I have been back to the Stanford Stadium after its renovation last year. The stadium is definitely a lot nicer than before.

Because of the long line waiting to get in the parking lot, we were 20 minutes late by the time the 1st half started. Chelsea got most of the action during the match but both teams seemed to be running around very slow. I guess it's a pre-season exhibition match for Chelsea so they didn't want to put all of their effort in the match. Anyway, it's not so bad that I got to see a top notch English Premier League football team for only US$45. It would be impossible for me to scout a ticket at that price in Hong Kong without waiting hours outside the ticket box office.

July 13, 2007

A Night of Bowling

Tonight, I went to have dinner with some of my high school friends and their spouses at a restaurant in my neighborhood. Since I had been mentioning about bowling for a while, they finally agreed to go bowling with me! We ended up going to the AMF Moonlite Bowl in Santa Clara.

Well, as some of you know, one of the things I want to do before I turn 30 is to improve my bowling skills. Unfortunately, I seemed to be doing badly tonight. I didn't even score a game over 100! We played two games and Sunny ended up beating up in the 1st game. Alex's wife, Jez, was way too generous to let all of us beat her so that her hubby could buy us a round of drinks! In the second game, she completely turned around and did a lot better. She also discovered that if you use a 6lb ball, you can bowl over and over again. The sensor at the end of the aisle has a problem detecting a ball weighing so little. Therefore, if you slowly roll your ball forward the lane, you can keep knocking down the pins over and over again! What a great way to cheat!

Anyway, I seriously need to spend more time at the bowling alley if I want to be any good.

July 12, 2007

Cary Brothers Concert

One of things I am hoping to do during my time in the States is to attend as many live concerts as possible. Christina and I went to see Cary Brothers in the city last night. Before the concert, we ended up eating at a Mediterranean Restaurant nearby. You can click on the picture above to see how excited she looked with all the dishes.

Mother and Mother and Carina Round opened for Cary Brothers. The show was really long and Cary Brothers didn't come to the stage till 10:40 or so. By the time the concert is over, it's almost 12:00 midnight.

It was a very fun night at the concert, especially I got to listen to Cary Brothers performed live. One of the openers, Carina Round, turns out to be amazingly good. Of course, it certainly helps that she has the beauty and a sexy British accent.

You can check out the most recent Cary Brothers's album at and more information about Carina Round at

July 11, 2007

Macys's Customer Service

I have had one of the best shopping experience I had at the Macys in Valley Fair today. I was browsing the men's department and had my eye on a pair of Ralph Lauren swimming trunks. I saw the sign saying that it's 50% off. I was excited to try it on and ended up getting it. When I took it at the check-out counter, it rang up at the original price. I told the store assistant that I got it from the discount rack at the RL counter.

Instead of just brushing me off and saying that the item was placed on the wrong rack, he actually went to the rack with me and saw the 50% off sign right next to it. He said he would give me the 50% discount even though the sign was probably put at the wrong place. He took the sign off from the rack and walked back to the check-out counter with me.

I thought he would just proceed with taking 50% off the original price. Instead, he took an extra $10 off for the inconvenience. When he rang up the item again, I showed him that the price on the tag ($44.99) was different from the one shown in his system ($54.99). You can guess the end of the story.... I ended up getting that pair of RL swimming trunks for around $12!

That's what I call good customer service! Instead of just following what's in the computer system, the store assistant actually rectified the error on spot by removing the 50% sign from the rack and honored the discount.

I will definitely be going back to that Macy's store in the future. Customer Support Phone Number

One of the greatest things I learned during my time at Google is writing good customer support emails. I think the seeming boring task is actual quick an important part of any Internet B-to-C or B-to-B business because most of the transactions happen online and through exchange of emails.

I have one of the worst customer support experience I have had while I was in the process of ordering a new Memory Stick Pro Duo for my Sony digital camera from As usual, I was searching for a good deal on and found that there was a promotion of 2 Lexar 1GB MS for $15.99. Customers with new Google checkout account can even take an additional $10 dollars off. However, when I read the descriptions on the page, I realize that the pictures shown on it do not reflect the descriptions of the item. The pictures shown a MS Pro 1GB but the description states that it's MS PRO DUO 1GB. Anyone with a Sony product knows that they have had so many MS products now that it's confusing which one you exactly need for your Sony products.

I know for certain that I need a MS PRO DUO (the shorter kind) but not the MS PRO. Therefore, I wrote an email to asking for clarification to make sure that I am buying MS Pro DUO but not MS Pro. I exchanged emails from them 4 times but the response I got each time was not even close to any possible answer to my question.

"Please refer to for details."
"We cannot provide further descriptions of the product you ask."

One customer support email is even a direct copy of the product descriptions they have on the website.

Finally, I got a very brief email from today regarding my questions:

"Hello Antony,

Thank you for contacting

This is in reference to your email regarding your email.

Our Customer Support Department is available via telephone 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Our toll-free phone number is 1-800-800-0800 (Press Option #3).

Please contact us with any further questions you may have. Your satisfaction is important to us.

Sincerely, Customer Service"

I removed the Customer Service Associate's name so that he won't get penalized for his reply.

Now, next time if you buy anything from and are confused with their descriptions, you should try giving them a call instead of exchanging emails with them.

Anyway, I gave up on and decided to order it from instead. I also want to thank Paolo and many TAs at Google, who taught me how to write proper customer service emails.

Paola, hope you get well very soon!

July 08, 2007

Rachel and Justice Farewell Lunch

Today, I took Victor, Rachel, and Justice for lunch because they are moving to Ohio on Monday. It's very sad for me to see Justice go because I missed him so much when I was back in Hong Kong. When I moved back to Hong Kong at the end of April, I thought that I won't see him again for a long time. However, because of the problem with my vehicle registration, I decided to fly back to San Francisco to sort it out. Luckily enough, the ticket I bought in April was actually an open ticket valid for 6 months. Therefore, I was able to fly back without having the need to buy an expensive ticket during the summer peak travel season.

We went to the P.F. Chang in Sunnyvale for lunch. It actually turned out to be one of the best dinning experience I have had in the States. After we were sat at our table, we waited for a while but no waiter showed up to serve us and take our order. I asked another waitress who walked by and she said she had no idea. Instead of trying to help locate a waitress to serve us, she just walked away. That's BAD customer service experience. She should have told the manager or the host to figure out who should be serving our table. You don't want any disgruntled customer sitting there for minutes.

Finally, our waiter came and he aplogized repeatedly for his tardiness. We could tell that he just got pulled by the manager at the last minute to serve us. He took our order immediately but served all of our drinks except Justice's Sprite. We ended up waiting for another 5 minutes or so before it arrived. The manager came to our table and apologized for the delay in servicing us. He even came back to check on us a few times during our meal to make sure that we were okay with the service. I could tell he was trying to win his customers back. I think he is one of the best mangers I have ever seen because he actually serves a a model and shows other waiters how they should treat their customers. Instead of simplying asking Waiter A or Waitress B to help us, he actually came to our table and made sure that everything was in order throughout the entire meal.

To our surprise, when we asked for our check, the waiter brought over two orders of eggroll bananas with conconut ice-cream as complimentary desserts for us. I thought I would only see this top-notch service at a 5-star hotel. I was very impressed by the manager and we ended up giving a 20% tip. The dessert was so tasty that I would definitely go back and order it next time.

Props to the Asian manager at P.F. Chang in Sunnyvale. If I ever had a restaurant, I would hire you immediatley.

Surfing.......I am in the water!

To act on the 12 action items that I want to do before I turn 30 in October, I decided to give surfing a try. I went to to search for surfing instructors in the San Francisco Bay Area. After corresponding with a few potential coaches, I picked one is able to provide me with a wet suit and a surfing board. He charges me $45/hr, which is a reasonable market rate.

On Saturday, I was still having the muscle pain from the ice-skating the night before. When I was up in the morning, I felt so exhausted that I thought about not going to the lesson. However, Victor's wife, Rachel, told me that I should go regardless of my tiredness. Otherwise, I would end up staying in the bed for the entire day and felt miserable afterwards.

Therefore, shortly after 1:30 p.m., I changed into my swimmer trunks, put on my sandals and sunglasses and started driving to Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica. I got there at about 2:40p.m. and was waiting outside the Taco Bell at the beach for my coach to show up.

My coach, Michael, showed up at around 3:15p.m. or so and the first thing I realized was that he was much younger than me! After feeling so incapable last night at the ice-skating ring, I am having the exact same experience all over again! People younger than me are much better than I am at all types of athletic activities. I guess I really studied and got sheltered too much by my parents when I was in Hong Kong. Now, I am about to turn 30 and behaving like a person who has a mid-life crisis. For me, I ain't looking for a young trophy wife or a Porsche. It's a list of things that I should have learned when I was little!

First, I was so clumsy when I tried to put on my wetsuit. I actually got it wrong the 1st time and I saw that Michael was about to burst out laughing. I guess he had never seen a real "beginner" in his life before. After changing into the wetsuit, I started carrying the long board and walking to the beach with my coach. Guess what, the board was a lot heavier than I expected! I guess I am just way too weak!

Michael showed me some of the basics such as paddling, getting on the board, standing up etc. As you can imagine, it's even a challenge for me to get on the board when the waves are hitting right at my face, let alone standing up and actually doing the surf.

For almost 90 minutes, I just remember being in the water a lot because basically I got knocked over by any wave. It didn't help that the waves were really large that afternoon and the water was freezing cold! Michael thought that I would be ready to ride some big waves. I ended up got sucked into the water and drank quite a few gallons of sea water. Finally, I told him that I should just practice how to get on the board and paddle to the waves first before attempting to stand on the board.

My coach did demonstrate once for me to ride the waves. From what I can tell, he is very good at surfing. I guess I would say anything who can ride any wave as a good surfer. Anyway, I am going to try it again in the next few weeks in Santa Cruz. Hopefully, the waves will be smaller and the temperature will be higher there.

July 07, 2007

My Butt Hurts - Ice-Skating


Last night, after my multiple pleas, Victor agreed to go ice-skating with me at the Cupertino Ice Center. Victor, Rachel, and little Justice had no idea what they were getting into. They were about to see the oldest person on earth to learn ice-skating!

We got the ice-skating center and we started skating or for me...falling on the ice. Justice actually picked up ice-skating faster than me. I guess it didn't hurt that much for him to fall. If you click on the album above, you can see pictures of me falling badly. At one point, I basically fell and sat on my butt. I felt that my pelvic bones and spine were about to shatter into pieces. It was so painful! We saw a little kid age 3-4 with a helmet on in the ice-skating ring. He is such a good ice-skater but the only problem he has is that he doesn't know how to stop. Therefore, whenever he wants to stop, he just let go and allows himself to smash again the wall. Gee...that would have hurt really bad if I were him. Of course, he didn't get hurt and I could tell that he was happy doing that all night long.

After 45 minutes to an hour, I was able to start gliding around the ice-skating ring without holding the wall. I ended up doing it twice before the end of the night. Don't laugh at me for being so stupid because it's much harder to pick up a new activity or learn something different when you get older. We have all the preconceptions about getting hurt etc. Before we actually do it, we have 10000 things going in our head like how stupid we would look. However, for little Justice, it's all about having a good time and enjoying some time with his uncle....that's me!!!!

July 05, 2007

Napa Valley Wine Tasting

Since I happened to be back in the Bay Area on July 4, I ended up going to Napa with my friends. I haven't been to wasting tasting for a good few years and I remember every time I went, I ended up being the designated driver, i.e. I wasn't able to drive much at all. It's good that my friend decided to do the driving this time so that I could fully enjoy the experience.

It was bloody hot in Napa on July 4. The temperate was over 100F. You could feel that the hot wind blowing on your face like a fan of fire. We ended up going to about 4 wineries to do the tasting and visited St. Helena Olive Oil Showroom. It was so hot that we ended up getting iced cold drinks rather than bottles of Olive Oil from there. After the trip to the Napa, we drove back to the city to celebrate Hilda's birthday in Chinatown. It's was a great dinner since I got to eat my favorite seafood: salt and pepper crabs!

Happy Birthday, Hilda. Wish you all the best in the coming year. Make sure that I will be an uncle in the next 12 months.

July 04, 2007

USPS Cancelled International Surface Mail

I have a hard time believing that USPS has stopped the International Surface Mail service and discontinued International Air Parcel Post since May 14. 2007. Though I understand that USPS has to increase the postal rates for various services in order to stay in business. However, I am appalled by the fact that they decided to do without the International Surface Mail and Air Parcel Post (for packages over 4lbs), two of the most economical way of shipping heavy items to foreign countries.

I have used USPS International Surface Mail and International Air Parcel Post countless times during my stay in the States. Now, it is impossible for International students or expats to find a cheap way to ship their books and belongings back to their home countries. I have been doing some search about the effect on the cancellation online and found that the booksellers and publishers are the most affected industries. Because of the weight of each book, it becomes prohibitively expensive to ship any book overseas.

This is the explanation given by the USPS:

"What international products would be eliminated?
  • Product realignment provides more reliable and economical international shipping options with improved service for customers. The product simplification will eliminate:
    Products that are no longer cost effective, lack market demand or are redundant in USPS product offering.

  • Economy (surface) products such as Parcel Post, Letter Post, Publishers’ Periodicals, Books and Sheet Music, and M-bags.

  • Aerogrammes and Recorded Delivery service"

You can check out the details at:

There are several petitions that you can sign online.
One of them is

July 03, 2007

"A Mighty Heart" and Nouvelle Vauge - In a Manner of Speaking

Over the weekend, I got a chance to see a movie called "A Mighty Heart", which is an adaptation from the book written by Mariane Pearl, the wife of Daniel Pearl. Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and killed in Pakistan in 2002. The movie more like a docu-dram which illustrates the disappearance, the investigation, and the subsequent discovery of the death of Daniel Pearl. Angelina Jolie did a fantastic job in portraying Mariane Pearl in the movie, without exaggerating the trauma that Mariane endured during the disappearance and the subsequent death of her beloved husband. It is particularly welcoming to know that movie does not take any political side. It merely states the entire incident of Daniel's disappearance and the internal turmoil that Mariane experienced during that period of time.

Daniel Pearl happened to be a graduate of Stanford University, where I did my graduate studies in Sociology. I remember hearing a lot about his death at Stanford during my time there but I didn't put much time to figure out the story behind his death. If you want to read more about Daniel Pearl's life, I'd suggest that you check out his entry in wikipedia.

When the end credits were showing on the screen, my attention was completely grabbed by the song "In a manner of Love" by Nouvelle Vague. It's such a beautiful song that I couldn't help but downloaded the entire album by Nouvelle Vauge. Click on the name of the song and it will redirect you to the song in YouTube.

By the way, I did a very stupid thing by searching the video shot by the terrorists showing the death of Daniel Pearl. The movie referred to the video a lot so I was intrigued by what actually was shown on it. I should have never done that because I ended up feeling so troubling that I couldn't fall asleep!

July 02, 2007

Simpsons Kwik-E-Mart

Pictures from the actual 'Simpsons' Kwik-E-Mart store in Mountain View, CA.

7-Eleven turns into Kwik-E-Mart

I was reading news online this morning and am excited to learn that twelve 7-Eleven stores have turned into Kwik-E-Marts from Simpsons. I think it's one of the best marketing campaigns I have seen for movies in recent years.

They actually changed the names of those 7-Eleven stores into Kwik-E-Mark and stocked each re-decorated store with products you can see in Simposons. You can get the famous Squishee, Buzz Cola, Pink Donuts, KrustyO's Cereal, even a Radioactive Man Comic Book! You can check out the list of Simpsons-inspired products at

This marketing campaign actually transforms your day-to-day shopping experience into a special one that you feel that you are actually living in the same town as the Simposons in Springfield, IL. Most movie-related marketing campaigns only have movie-inspired products for sale in supermarkets or some lucky draw for you to win some special limited edition products. Therefore, cognitively, it's impossible for a shopper to fully immerse themselves in the a pseudo experience and feel the urge to see the movie and buy the products. I am sure the sales of those Simpsons-inspired products will be excellent. Trust me, you will see them showing up on eBay very soon!