" /> Shanghai Yummy: December 2002 Archives

« November 2002 | Main | January 2003 »

December 31, 2002

Year in Review

Most other people talk about their social lives, work, friends, family, etc. in these "year in review" entries, but I'm not going to do that except to say "this year was a transition year, there were ups and downs and all arounds. I'm still here. Yay!"

Instead, the important stuff:
2002 Flight Miles: 112,774
2002 Flight Time: 242 hours, 53 min
2002 Flight Segments: 43
2002 Delays: 6
2002 Delay Time: 29 hours, 5 min

For the first time since I started keeping records, all my flights were on one airline, United. And I came in more than $1100 under budget. Woo!

PGP Signed Entry

December 25, 2002

Ret it slow, ret it slow, ret it slow...

I have to say the best part about spending Christmas overseas is the music. Whereas my ears find the inescapable assault of holiday music in all public places offensively mind-numbing in the States, there is a certain amusement to hearing all the holiday standards in Engrish.

It is certain that I will soon grow tired of this, but hopefully not before I get on that plane taking me over the ocean.

PGP Signed Entry

December 23, 2002

Narita Nirvana

On my layover in Narita, Japan, last night, I discovered a new top reason to make the stop in Japan on the way to other Asian destinations:

The United International First Class Lounge has those ultra-sexy massage chairs.

'nuff said.

PGP Signed Entry

December 18, 2002


I've known this for a long time, but I haven't had any affirmation of it since the last time I was in school: I can't study worth shit.

Basically, my rule of thumb is: the less I study for an exam, the better I end up doing.

I'm one of these people who just has to learn it right the first time around. And if I've learned it right, then it's not going anywhere. I don't need to remind myself of it because it will still be there. If I haven't learned it right in the course of doing the reading or work the first time around, then no amount of cramming is going to save my ass.

So when I have the confidence that I know it all, I don't bother studying and I do fine. If I don't feel like I already know it all, then I obviously don't so I try to study. But it doesn't work. If I try to study for stuff that I already know, I end up boring myself to death and falling asleep. I hate exams. What a stupid way to measure someone.

PGP Signed Entry

December 14, 2002


I don't really believe too much in movie reviews because, frankly, I've found that like almost all other aspects of life, my preferences in movies are quite unlike what most reviewers and society in general seem to think I should like.

I have, therefore, no qualms whatsoever with disagreeing with a seemingly large number of negative reviews of Star Trek: Nemesis, the latest (last?) of the new generation movies. I thought this movie was excellent. There is one main reason for that, which you can read about if if continue reading. There will be spoilers in what is to come.

This movie was, up until the last scene with Data, an "OK" movie by all accounts. Its elevation from "OK" movie to one of the best I've seen took place in a span of about five seconds. In those five seconds, Data acknowledges the shocked captain, puts the emergency transporter on him, and says "goodbye" as Captain Picard vanishes into the safety of the ether. Seconds later, Data is killed in a moment of self-sacrifice.

No fifteen minute soliloquy, no stupid five minute scene where he calls home to say goodbye, no ridiculous one-liner as he presses the button, blah blah blah.

It felt right. I mean, for the first time I can remember in a major studio movie, the death scene of a major character amidst battle was exactly how it should be. Sudden, shocking, and over before you had time to react. Only later do you think about what transpired.

That one scene made this movie excellent.

PGP Signed Entry

December 13, 2002


Actually, you know what it's really about?

Taking responsibility for your own actions.

The whole speeding thing is just an isolated case of this greater ill of society. If you can't handle the consequences of your actions, then maybe you should just not take those actions instead of trying to hide behind someone else.

PGP Signed Entry

December 10, 2002

More on Traffic

I've decided that the worst form of leeching, infestation dirt-bag scummery is the losers out there who don't have the balls to speed on their own so they wait for someone else to pass them and then tailgate them. You pathetic low-life cowards. Die. Just die.

PGP Signed Entry

December 7, 2002

Viva Viva Viva!

Vegas baby. There is no equal, anywhere.

Spent a great weekend with a couple of friends in Sin City. Here are the high- and low- lights, along with some tips for all you hardcore gamblers out there. Hopefully this will save some of you a lot of shoe leather. Most of this info is current as of November 30, but we all know that Vegas casinos are a constantly changing lot so your mileage may vary.

First of all, avoid the "Single Deck, Blackjack pays 6-5" tables like the Bubonic Plague. If you're in Vegas to do some gambling and not to just give all your money to the casino, please heed this advice. You've probably heard that single deck blackjack gives you better odds. This is true, all other things being equal. However, by throwing in the BJ pays 6-5 (as opposed to 3-2 like normal tables), this ups the house advantage by 1.39%. When you consider that most blackjack, when played with perfect execution of the basic strategy, is around 0.5%, you are pretty much getting suckered if you play at one of these tables. I can't tell you how rampant these tables are all over the Strip now, and how many people I saw getting suckered. By the way, the link to the basic strategy above goes to a website called thewizardofodds.com, which is extremely good for you stats/probability people, and also an invaluable reference on the many games you'll find a casino.

Okay, that being said, the other somewhat frustrating thing was the lack of tables with favorable rules. We weren't really asking for all that much: just a standard shoe game, with 6-8 decks, dealer stands on soft 17. The dealer stands on soft 17 part was the hard part. We probably walked 2 miles the first day looking for a table where the dealer stands on soft 17. Here are the casinos I remember hitting in our quest: Caesar's Palace, Mirage, Venetian, Flamingo, Harrah's, Casino Royale, Bally's, Paris, Aladdin, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay. The only places that I remember for sure having dealer stands on soft 17 were Aladdin and Bellagio. Mirage and Mandalay might have had it, but I can't recall. Everywhere else was dealer hits soft 17. Now remember: the casinos change all the time, so this information could be outdated. Also, I probably did not look at every single table in the house at all the places, so there might have been some tables I just didn't see. And third, I didn't venture into any high roller rooms, which tend to have more favorable rules, but I didn't feel like dropping that kind of cash.

Now on the one hand, it's kind of frustrating to have to do so much legwork just to find good tables. But on the other hand, I realize that by suckering the vast majority of people into playing less favorable rules, the casinos make more money and are able to make my experience that much more enjoyable while in theory, over the long run, I should have paid less than the average for it. So I guess the shoe leather is the price I pay. Hopefully my writing this helps someone out there so they don't have to make the same long trek we did.

Other observations made on this trip: the male virgin at the craps table myth was again true, with the three of us each dropping at least $100 in 10 minutes the first time we approached a craps table at the Flamingo (one of us had never played). But we made that up and then some later that night at Paris, which ended up being the only session I walked away net positive for the weekend. Also, I broke one of the cardinal rules: leave when you say you're going to leave. At the last session before we left, I said I would leave the table if I went up $500. Lo and behold, my luck was golden and within an hour or so I was indeed up more than $500. Instead of leaving, though, I stayed. And the gambling gods punished my lack of conviction by hammering me down. I lost probably 20 out of the next 23 hands. It was not pretty.

We did Vegas in true style, that is, skipping the daylight hours entirely. The first night, we were up 24 hours straight, and went to bed just as the sun was coming up. Woke up about as it was starting down, and by the time we got cleaned up and ready to hit the Strip, it was gone. Would have done the same the second night if we didn't have to check out of the hotel.

What we didn't do was see any shows, hit the strip joints, drink (too much, anyway), get married... so all in all a wholesome, clean time was had by all.

PGP Signed Entry