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Canada's future...guaranteed 4 wasted years...much like the past 5. [Jun. 12th, 2011|07:58 am]
Source of evil
I post this some time after the federal election which to no surprise the Conservatives have won. The only real surprise was they were given a majority government which they truly don't deserve. Essentially what Canadians have voted for was for less transparency, more corruption, more waste, more military interventions and more tax cuts for the corporations. It certainly couldn't be for the way the federal government handled the economy, they did a rather poor job handling the problems. The only reason things did not end up like they did in the United States...had nothing to do with this government, it was the Chretien government and Paul Martin's insistence on keeping strict regulations on the banks which the Conservatives almost removed, give them 1 more year before the crisis and we would have had to do bailouts of our own. The job situation, again its still awful yes its fine if you want minimum wage...but who can live in minimum wage? Getting the first bloody job is hard enough, a second one is even more difficult. Its no good being in the white collar sector, most of the middle class jobs in this area are being outsourced to India particularly programmers. Blue collar is just as hopeless, new investment into manufacturing in the government's sorry excuse for a budget is pretty much non-existent. You can't count on this government to even spend its money wisely, apparently the deficit is not a worry. Then again few governments in Canada have managed our money properly in recent years.

Government spending in the new budget mainly confirms what I've said in the last post. The corporate tax rate in Canada will be 15.5%, every person on minimum wage will pay a lot more in deductions than that rate, this doesn't even include GST & PST or HST in some cases. Worse is a person on minimum wage is unable to afford accountants to find loopholes for them to further decrease their deductions, a corporation has a whole department of accountants to sometimes effectively eliminate all their taxes. During Canada's boom period, corporate tax rates were near I believe 23%. This 15.5% doesn't guarantee jobs, heck all it guarantees is a company's profit margins are increased. No matter how the conservatives try to spin this, Canada's labour rates are never going to compare to any developing country and therefore the lowering of corporate tax rates is pointless as an exercise to create jobs. This idea may work if all corporations operated like Google which actively gives out pay raises very often every single time it has a successful project to pretty much every single employee. Most corporations however operate on lean and mean structuring which means cutting and thinning everything that isn't at the board of director's level. The way most corporations operate, if they can hire 20 off-shore India employees for the price of say 2 Canadian employees that's the more cost effective method. Even if the Canadian is more educated, skilled and experienced it wouldn't matter they'd just cut down to 10 off-shore employees, hope for success and if given claim cost savings. If it fails, they will effectively spin this and say the Canadian employees would have lost more money or worse...get the Canadian employees to clean up failure and still claim success.

I was unhappy about the state of the country before the election, I'm even less happy the government has been guaranteed 4 more years instead of having their feet held to the fire under a minority government. Being a visible minority, the outlook is bleak if I actually intended to be a "leader" or hope to be even near the top of the corporate ladder. The only CEOs in Canada who aren't the stereotypical white man are those who built their company ground up. Now that would be fine if he performed exceptionally well and is truly worth it due to their history in the company. Most CEOs unfortunately aren't promoted to that level within the company, they're often hired outside the company. Even in my own company, that situation isn't any different. Most visible minorities are in the middle level of the company, the upper levels that's decreased to just one guy. Maybe visible minorities can't seem to play stupid office politics which is why this is the state of things, but when your company promotes because your capable of saying BS then you clearly don't promote based on qualifications.

Every time I post my resume to any Hong Kong site I'm given a whole slew of jobs available. I even got a very fast response to my rather unfinished resume. Due to the fact that Hong Kong is a service economy, outsourcing is not an issue because very few things in Hong Kong can be outsourced and whatever can be has been rather cemented with favourable economic conditions. I still like the idea that as a normal person the government doesn't take my money for anything I buy so long as its not a luxury product. I can't even complain that the government doesn't provide much service because I have used their services for my ID card and...frankly its significantly more robust than any service I have been provided by the Canadian government. I also like the idea that Hong Kong people fight for their bonuses, any time a corporation prints its earnings and fails to give even a sliver of that when its good to its lower level employees gets ridicule. Its mainstream news when corporations fail to pay when things get good after asking for sacrifice. In Canada this apparently should happen, we should all get squeezed and be thankful to earn less than before...even if your standard of living has increased. Heck the Café de Coral's CEO wanted to cut pay for lunch breaks when the HK minimum wage was increased, there was a major backlash and they backed down. Café de Coral doesn't even have a union and it managed to get this result. Most corporations find a sneaky way to avoid paying extra...cutting hours is generally what happens...yes my hours have been cut...come to think of it I don't get paid for lunch and I have to lose an hour.

Still, there's only one more thing left here. I do want to see if I can turn my lack of a love life around. If that fails, that's ok because it allows me to leave easily and I would've gained some badly needed experience here. If it succeeds...things might be a bit more complicated but I have chosen very carefully this time and the world of technology might help.
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Next Hong Kong visit planned for sometime in November... [Feb. 21st, 2011|02:55 pm]
Source of evil
I don't feel like starting another blog since I have this one and another one on blogger.com and that's full of my car reviews(updated significantly more than this one I might add). Anyways my family is planning another visit to Hong Kong sometime in November since my dad went last year in November and said Hong Kong is even better during that season. Unlike the last two trips my plan for this November trip isn't vacationing...its a job search. I'm pretty sick of applying for jobs and not getting even a response saying they're even looking at my resume. The economic situation in this country is absolutely horrible, the government says jobs have been created...but they fail to mention many of these jobs are all part time and very low pay. My cousins in the financial industry are working really hard but getting very little out of it, their job requires an education...mine actually doesn't and their pay is as pathetic as mine. I have a lot less qualms about leaving things behind as well. The only things I'd leave behind is much of my family(I still have some in HK), some friends and my car. I don't care for much else here.

As I mentioned before my job pays poorly, I don't get much benefits out of it either. If I didn't have my parents supporting me, I can't even afford to live on this job. The hours are long(pretty much 11 hours each day) and every day I'm so physically tired I have a sleeping schedule much like my 89 year old grandfather. Its why I'm less bothered about possible long hours on a Hong Kong work schedule...I already do it here anyways. I've been checking my pay stubs and I was shocked that counting all deductions I have a higher rate of loss than a corporation now that this federal government lowered it. If I work overtime I'd lose far more money to the government which pisses me off. Its like punishing you for making nothing and attempting to escape the bottom tier of the pay scale, its awful. Bonuses...my first year I did get some but now I get zero, if the company makes profit I certainly don't see a penny from it. Out of curiosity I wanted to see how much I'd get paid if my only qualification was having a driving license...we'll for certain I'd get keep more of the money but even more scary is I'd get paid more as well converted back to Canadian dollars. I don't even care if I work Saturdays...again I already do that.

My argument for leaving Canada is getting stronger that now my dad fully agrees there isn't much left for me in Canada. Post secondary education hasn't got me anywhere, not to mention I specialize in manufacturing...something that's decreasing everyday in this country. I don't mind working in the service sector, surprisingly I've done rather well at serving Hong Kong Chinese customers I can only assume they don't have much trust in non Chinese even though they can tell I'm a CBC. My mom still doesn't like the idea of me leaving but I think she understands I don't have much to lose since my situation is rubbish here. Hopefully 2011 is my final year in this country.
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The dangers that occured during the G20 and now linger after... [Aug. 2nd, 2010|09:31 pm]
Source of evil
Normally I don't talk about civil liberties because I thought they would always be protected and that the only time they'll ever be taken away is under severe circumstances. Since the G20 I no longer trust the ability of any level of government in Canada to truly safeguard our rights. The federal government is very busy in the process of politicizing the entire government, even StatsCan isn't safe...an organization which is not partisan. What the Conservative government has done to our government institutions is take direct control instead of allowing them to operate independently. All government agencies are supposed to be accountable to its citizens, but under Steven Harper this is no longer the case they're only accountable to the Prime Minister's Office. This is a dangerous sign, while I don't suspect Stephen Harper is going to rule Canada like a dictator, he's unfortunately paving the way so that someone with bad intentions could rule like so. The Canadian Senate is no longer capable of stopping such grabs of power because Harper being a hypocrite has decided to ignore his pledge to make an elected senate to instead keeping the appointment system to benefit himself. Don't think I forgot about the War Measures Act, its legislation that provides the federal government with extraordinary powers and is capable of violating a lot of our civil liberties, fortunately Pierre Trudeau only used this to combat domestic terrorism and lifted it quickly after the FLQ surrendered.

The conservative ideology is about limiting government and empowering individual citizens, but what I see here is an increase in government powers and control. Much like how liberal intentions often are stopped cold due to economic realities, unfortunately with conservatives power corrupts and will never relinquish this power. Its a lie, much like how the far left with its ambitious agenda believe they can balance budgets, yet ignores how projected costs are just that projected, they're very capable of ballooning to ridiculous proportions. I hope everyone understands that politicians do lie for their own benefit. Not even Obama is impervious to this. In all honestly he's been a lot more honest in what he does, but his administration still is surprisingly even worse than George W. Bush when it comes to illegal detainment and spying. Something Obama bashed when he was in the Senate yet as a President hasn't lived up to what a Senator Obama wished would be done. I sense Barack Obama might be defeated if he doesn't actually commit himself to being a strong leader. Being a strong leader is not about who has the military budget but rather one who is able to accomplish legislative feats with little or no changes to his ideal vision of the country. In this sense, George W. Bush is a stronger leader you may hate his policies, I know I do, but he's very effective in getting them with mostly no changes.

Brings me back to this country, my worries about civil liberties came as a result of what the Ontario government under Dalton McGuinty accomplished. A secret law that allowed law enforcement to detain all citizens in a vaguely specified dimension of the G20 zone. No news coverage, no debate, and not even a warning. Under this law, if the Toronto Police rightly or wrongly believed you were in a specific zone you're arrested, no questions asked. This is inexcusable! Such loss of civil liberties must be made public, if we really had an evil Prime Minister all dissenters would be arrested with no warning. The increased federal government control and a provincial government with the ability to pass dangerous laws instantly is a scary scenario that has happened already. What scares me the most is, citizens here are not up in arms about this. I'm pretty angry about this, alas this country is too complacent. Things like this make me feel more eager to leave. All Canada has to do to allow a single group of people become supreme leaders of the country is to enact something like the Patriot Act meaning illegal wiretapping for both internet and phone use and we'll see "1984" happen right in this country, the beginning of a police state.
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The thought of moving... [Jun. 6th, 2010|11:49 pm]
Source of evil
Holy smokes its been months since I've used LJ. As the subject title indicates, I'm starting to have serious thoughts about moving. Ever since I gained a Hong Kong ID card and how much I liked the way Hong Kong is as a place is ever growing. I honestly don't think I have a future in Canada, the job market here is terrible its so depressing that the best advice I ever get here is dump a whole lot of resumes to hundreds of companies. Well after doing so, all I got was responses from head hunter agencies offering jobs that are even less suitable for me. Keep in mind Ontario's unemployment rate is 10% and nearing 11%, on a good year its 6.7%. Also note all the new jobs are mostly part time...a the majority of those getting these...once worked full time. This is obviously discouraging and makes me less likely to waste my time with resumes when it appears nobody reads resumes no matter how highly qualified I am for certain jobs. As of late I've been getting really bored as well, obviously I'm tired after working but when I'm not working...I don't know what to do, I have no motivation. Yes I love to drive...but to where? There aren't any real enjoyable roads here in this mostly grid system.

I'm well aware of Hong Kong's flaws, primarily how housing eats a big portion of your income. Space is not as plentiful as it is here, although aside from Gunpla boxes I believe a custom made desk for the TV and game consoles along with a custom made computer desk reduces my need for space. Custom made shelves would also make it easier to store Gunpla. Then there is the heat, but you can make the same argument that Canada is too cold and sometimes its bloody cold. Even my relatives in Hong Kong say working there is tough...yet I don't think I could feel more tired about work than I do now. Hong Kong however has quite a lot of positives in its favour, everything I've ever been interested in can be bought in Hong Kong. The food is very familiar to me. The unemployment rate in Hong Kong is around 3.5% and this is considered bad unlike here where such a number is a dream. The transportation system in Hong Kong is one of the most efficient in the world where all of Hong Kong can be traveled at a reasonable price. Hong Kong nightlife is the most alive time during the city, during the mornings is when not a lot of businesses open meaning so long as I don't have to work nights I may have a social life. I even like the environment there, I rarely notice the air quality and nothing in Hong Kong causes my allergies to go off unlike here where I'm crippled in spring and sometimes fall. There are a few other personal items that attract me to Hong Kong not worth mentioning.

My parents thought I was joking about this, until they realized I'm actually serious about it. I'm not religious but its one of those callings, something is telling me my future is there. I realize I will be leaving a few important things behind like my parents and the car I love but its something I'm willing to do. I've never really lived on my own, funny enough of all the places to live alone Hong Kong is one of the easier places since someone is willing to any service so long as you pay them. I do find it strange I'm the first amongst my canadian born cousins to obtain a HK ID card even the ones who travel there a lot.
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Most certainly the final post of 2009... [Dec. 28th, 2009|11:57 pm]
Source of evil
As one might notice I haven't posted a bloody thing since...May. Lately I've been very tired and have been working to such an extent that most of my days have been: wake up, eat, go to work, work, go home, eat, 1 hour of TV/Internet, sleep due to exhaustion. Having a life outside of work seems incredibly difficult these days.

Anyway down to what I'm posting. Since my trip to Asia, it has given me a fantastic insight on how a more different culture and city operate. Going to the US as a trip often doesn't make me think its better or worse than Canada mostly down to how very similar the lifestyle of both countries are. Since seeing HK and Tokyo particularly...I'm starting to wonder whether Canada is such a good place to live anymore.

Politically this country is very dumb, its less democratic than the United States and has worse freedom of the press than the UK where this at least compensates slightly for the house of lords. I do not approve of how this federal government operates but then again I don't have a very high opinion of the provincial and municipal governments either. Starting with the feds, I may have liberal preferences when it comes to social matters but financially I'm a fiscal conservative and this Conservative government has done neither. It failed to understand that expanding on military operations means requiring more funding usually through taxes. Instead of leaving GST at 7% they cut it down to 5%, this leaves no room for financial mishaps now with 2008's financial crisis they complain about deficit. How stupid can they be? As a result of their incompetence they want to hack and slash government services and programs. The federal finance minister is the exact same finance minister who ran Mike Harris' "common sense revolution". Ontario has never recovered due to that government's lack of long term vision, it was a quick way to kill the deficit but the result is a stupider province(education cuts), a less mobile province(transportation cuts), long wait times(health care cuts) and to top it off sell a very profitable asset for very little money...the 407 toll highway. In the end this approach failed and they hit deficit again. The finances of this country is doomed with this sort of very dumb leadership, add Harper's anti-China foreign policy and we fail to inject this country with money from the only one that can afford to do so. I may not like almost anything George W. Bush has done, but even he had sense to see China as a much needed business partner. I could go on and on about the wrongs the Conservative government are doing but I'll get very bored because there's just too much.

On the provincial level things aren't that much better. One of the primary reasons Ontario has been a big loser is the Liberal government's failing to show leadership in the country. McGuinty often does very minor and ultimately insignificant things to present an image he's not totally hopeless. Unfortunately this government has been very poor at running its crown corporations properly. The OLG has seen a spectacular failure of oversight into how its run and how mind numbingly wasteful it is. Just an example, for one of their lotteries they offered a luxury car as a prize...unfortunately they offered a Mercedes Benz B-class which is made in Germany. Considering the the Lexus RX and the Lincoln MKX are made in this province...as a crown corporation it certainly is doing its best to help Germany's economy. E-health is another failure, much of the failure came from hiring expensive consultants who wasted taxpayer's money on expensive lunches and perplexing items like very cheap office supplies. Despite firing the people who run this government run company, E-health is nowhere close to achieving its objectives of creating digital health records. Another annoying item was the auto bailouts, while I understood saving GM since the town of Oshawa would be devastated without that company I didn't understand in bailing out Chrysler. Brampton does not rely on the auto industry as a city, Windsor is a university town very close to Michigan. They had money to bail out these two auto companies and failing to check abuses in crown corporations...but they don't seem to have enough money to invest in the province's aging infrastructure. Sadly this Liberal government has the same idea as the stupid feds, sell government assets to offset the deficit. Problem is, despite Harris' hack and slash of the province the Ontario government still has 3 extremely profitable crown corporations the LCBO, OLG and Hydro One. Losing OLG despite how badly run is profitable and critically recession proof. Losing the LCBO means handing a monopoly over to a corporation which is the best thing they can ask for, no competition means no incentive to sell items at an affordable price, this asset is also recession proof. Losing Hydro One means the government will lose its ability to cap hydro prices when times are hard, its not recession proof but wields more political capital than the other two. Its unbelievable how these politicians all act the same.

Municipal affairs...are even more depressing. While I don't live directly in Toronto this means my town actually has money...but that's not a good thing. I see lots of waste and lately even worse traffic planning. If I went about Toronto's government...I said I was liberal on social issues...I can't stand how corrupt and incompetent the left wing Toronto city council is. They're very wasteful with money and they always blame the two upper levels of government whenever Toronto runs out of money...which is all the time. Even worse, the social programs the city initiates do nothing to make the city a better place overall, in essence its failed to progress...at all. My parents came in the 60s, back then Toronto was actually a world class city but as my dad said...not much has changed since then. If I came from Hong Kong to Toronto right now, I'd think Toronto was an ancient dump and thanks to the garbage strike of 2009...it actually was.

It boils down to one thing. This country has been essentially crippled due to politics. If we continue to have politicians who fail to see the long term effects of their policies, fail to wisely manage taxpayer's money and most of all fail to just lead. Canada will fail to advance and in all honesty decline as a power. My dad mentioned that Hong Kong has truly come a long way since he last visited in the early 80s. Being born in the mid 80s, looking back...very very little has actually changed in this country. The most revolutionary things were done in the 60s and 70s, that was health care and the bill of rights. When I read about how the Hong Kong government did things, I was really astonished that they can manage to accomplish so much and plan for the future while taking much less tax money than Canada demands. There was always a infrastructure project either in the works or ready to start. I understand it is a government and something will be wasted somewhere, but considering the HK government's reaction to SARS and H1N1, they used it as an opportunity to not only clean up the city's image but also reduce unemployment. Canada's response to SARS...was botched, no other way to put it, had SARS been very serious Canada would not survive. With H1N1...while it didn't catch Canada off guard, the fact the virus managed to get in and how slow all governments were to react meant they failed to prevent a worst case scenario. While some may see the HK government overreacting to H1N1, its clear their intention was not to repeat SARS and if H1N1 was extremely dangerous that HK took enough action to ensure the worst case scenario didn't happen and minimal damage would be done regardless of the strength of the virus.

I've never had a desire to leave as much as I do now. When my mom finally gets her documents to HK Immigration and thus allowing at least me to obtain an ID card and work in HK...whether I should actually move. My dad agrees with me about the state of Canada and seems genuinely planning on moving when he becomes a senior citizen. This may depend on the state of the Canadian economy, if I still can't get an acceptable living wage I don't have much of a choice. Ontario's unemployment is near 10% and the governments here believe 6.5% is a great number. In contrast to Hong Kong where they're upset with 3.5% unemployment and Japan has enjoyed 2% unemployment for several years.
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My trip to Asia...mainly Hong Kong, Beijing and Toyko [May. 30th, 2009|05:17 pm]
Source of evil
I finally got the sort of trip I wanted to do for the longest time, have a trip to Hong Kong and Japan. I went from May 5 to May 24 since my parents couldn't get any plane tickets for May 4. Air Canada apparently wanted to fill planes for Hong Kong desperately that they lowered their fares to bargain rates. Before I took this trip, I didn't think I want to leave Canada since this country despite its major flaws is one of the better ones. I don't think staying here is in my best interest anymore.

After I arrived in Hong Kong after a 15 hour plane flight the very first thing in Hong Kong I noticed is the humidity. The next thing I noticed was how well designed the airport is and how quickly things are done. Passing through immigration services was surprisingly quick and luggage was recovered within minutes. Already a contrast, Canadian immigration often asks silly questions and the luggage pick up at Pearson...its so slow! Even the food at the airport is good. Next thing was how to get to our hotel...the hotel airport shuttle person seemed to be on lunch, one thing about Hong Kong is there's so much competition some one will take your customers. We'll we got a good offer for a minivan taxi and went that way instead, since the drivers prefer you call them directly instead of a company this turned out to be great since we needed his services at least another 5 times since we booked 2 tours out of Hong Kong.

I was impressed by the service sector in Hong Kong, you can literally find competition for anything in specific areas thus you see price wars everywhere. I was also surprised at how helpful Hong Kong people are, if I listened strictly to my mother I'd get the impression they're not helpful. Even when my cantonese failed I didn't get the same reception I've got in Canada when I screw up some english sentence. Sanitation has become a big issue in Hong Kong, its much cleaner than Toronto since there's a lot of emphasis on cleanliness of anything that there's a lot of cleaners. The thing I realized is this is a government job designed specifically to make the city a better place...the governments in Toronto seems to dumb(or too cheap or maybe both) to realize this.

The next thing impressive was the subway system, the Octopus cards are great and convenient plus its cheaper than using TTC since its charged by distance and few trips cost more than even 12 HKD(less than $2 CAD). The Octopus card can be used on nearly all public transit vehicles including ferry boats. There's a lot of taxis in the Kowloon area and considering how expensive taxis are in Toronto...HK's taxis are relatively cheap. Walking is often enough to get to most of your destinations making traveling around in HK the cheapest place for transport ever unless you own a car.

Food like most chinese restaurants vary in price. There's the very cheap to the very expensive so no real change. One notable restaurant is the Australian Dairy Co. in Jordon...I've never had my food handed out as fast as this. Breakfast was ready in 30 seconds after order...incredible...no fast food place in Canada works this quickly. The food was very fast, its good and cheap...I couldn't believe it. Why would anybody go to McDonalds here?

The hotel we chose was BP International, its a pretty nice hotel but the rooms are quite small. We chose it primarily because of the rate, location and by a recommendation. All in all I really liked Hong Kong...it would be perfect if it wasn't so hot and the air quality is not like Canada. At least there's no worries about snow.

Now for Beijing...unlike Hong Kong International Airport I wasn't as impressed by Beijing's. This terminal was not air conditioned and also unlike Hong Kong theres much more stricter H1N1 papers to fill in(let me put it this way...if your a pig farmer...say goodbye to your vacation). Just for H1N1 service at Beijing's airport was slow. Design of the airport isn't very good either, if you wanted to go to McDees...its literally put aside in a hallway far away from anything and the airport offers no seats. As we got outside of the airport I noticed the terrible air quality made worse with the heat that day. True China tried to get rid of this bad air quality, you can see sections of land with artificially planted trees(I say this because they all are symmetrically spaced and all the same size).

Beijing's roads...oh boy...they're full of bad drivers along with some lax rules about merging. I must be honest, Toronto drivers looked very skilled versus Beijing's. Anywhere in the city there's always a horn going off every few seconds. Drivers must not be too concerned about hitting anything since there's always jaywalkers and idiot bikers everywhere.

The people there...this is one of the few places where the youth are better than their elders. There's a lot of rude people most of them are the 40+ age range. Those people spit, are obnoxiously loud, push people around and don't have much care for hygiene, basically they're gross. The youth have a better understanding of hygiene and are less likely to do any of the things their more rude elders do. Still...in Beijing babies don't wear diapers...so their solution is to have their kids wear pants that are slit open, you figure out that image...I've seen too much of it.

The food...in most cases it was terrible. I don't know why but this was the second worst chinese food I've had. Only a few items were done well, others not done well at all. The worst was in the United States where they hired totally incompetent cooks(not cooking chicken is very dangerous!). I expected much better food...total difference from having great breakfasts in Hong Kong. The hotel we stayed at was very good...so if you wanted a good meal...eating a good breakfast is a priority.

The best thing about Beijing is really the historic landmarks and sight seeing. The architecture is incredible considering computers weren't available and how solid several of these buildings are. Yes I climbed the Great Wall...I must admit it wasn't easy since the steps have uneven heights meaning a lot were very difficult to just step on as a short man. I also almost gave up realizing I'm still kind of fat and out of shape, I did make it though so I'm not as fat and out of shape as others. In the end I saw what I wanted from Beijing meaning there isn't much reason to return, I didn't buy anything here.

Lastly Tokyo, when we arrived at Haneda Airport I was surprised at how old looking the international terminal looked from the outside. Inside was however much nicer and didn't match the way it looked outside. Japan has a picky H1N1 form, I had to say yes that I was in Canada in the past 10 days because I left at that time 9 days ago(why this random number?) and that I had contact with people in Canada for the past 10 days. In the end they informed the hotel we would be staying at and we had to take our own temperature...a minor nuisance.

Well...Tokyo is so far the most beautiful place in terms of just the ordinary scenery I've ever been to. Passing by all the buildings...very few look like they missed out on their maintenance schedule since they all look clean with little graffiti to be seen anywhere. Clearly the Japanese put the environment on some form of a priority here unlike...Toronto where people throw crap all over the place and never clean it, disgusting. Even the washrooms, there's no paper other than toilet paper, the hand dryers there were powerful and often better than paper. This is not only good for the environment but reduces the need to take out more garbage. I was impressed by Tokyo's beauty, it puts Toronto to serious shame.

The people in Tokyo are unlike any place I've been, where literally everybody seemed to be polite and not in any rush. I was also shocked at the honesty of many of the shopkeepers willing to tell you any problems or issues. My dad had to look for a specific Nikon piece for my uncle's friend in HK and each person did their best to help us. Eventually we got the part...much cheaper than expected. I bought a few used games...the quality even these are in was surprising...near new condition. Few of the games I buy used in Canada or the US come in nearly as good condition ie. the manual's missing, the case looked like its seen wildlife, etc.

Now the food, I must say all of the food items that came from Japan were excellent. I'm certain that there is an attempt to convince the population that Japanese items are better. All the fruit that comes from Japan tastes good, produce and heck even the instant noodles. If everything I bought here had a grown in Canada or made in Canada label tasted or worked brilliantly...why would I buy any foreign product? Oh I almost forgot about the vending machines...let me just say...I didn't think corn soup from a vending machine would be good. Most vending machines in Canada hold aged drinks and candy.

I've taken Japan's famed JR system...its definitely easy to use. The entry system seems to be optimized for quick usage while at the same time preventing abuses in the system. All the trains appear to run exactly as scheduled and the trains in Tokyo are truly generations ahead of the TTC's. The only real problem I see with using the JR system...its expensive. Really short trips are at minimum 190 yen, it took me 620 yen to go from Chiba to Akihabara. Hong Kong's system is the most cost effective but the JR is clearly the nicest.

Tokyo would be a very nice place to live, pity Japanese immigration is not exactly immigrant friendly. Hong Kong immigration on the other hand...since my parents are Hong Kong citizens gaining residence and citizenship is significantly easier in fact I'm attempting to gain my smart card. This will certainly not be the last time I go to Hong Kong and if its cost effective I'd make a return visit to Japan.
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My general thoughts about the state of the auto industry... [Mar. 25th, 2009|09:13 pm]
Source of evil
Since I've now driven even more cars than before I've got a good indication of how most of the automakers are doing. You can tell how they're doing just by the cars they're making, the nicer the car the more likely they're going to do well and on the reverse the more awful the car is the less likely they'll survive. So here's how I think they've shaped up so far.

GM: They can survive...if they continue the trend they're proceeding. The Malibu, CTS, Acadia are very good cars that drive well and have good interior design. Cars like the Cobalt, HHR and Impala need to have their quality moved up to the level of the better 3. As for the Daewoo models like the Aveo, Optra and Epica...scrap them...they're junk and help the perception GM makes low quality vehicle.

Ford: They're improving drastically. Every single Ford since the improved 2008 Taurus has had major overhauls to the interior. The early Focus had a nasty interior, the new 2008+ one is actually very inviting and pleasant. No wonder why Ford actually has money...now if they bring Ford of Europe's driving dynamics to their American lineup, if Ford needs convincing...the Mazda 3's sales success is all they need as proof.

Chrysler: They're headed for doom. The vast majority of these suffer from very cheap, unappealing interiors. The PT hasn't been updated since 2001 so the PT's fad popularity died meaning they ruined a potential cash cow. Other cars like the 300 need updating. The Caliber, Compass, Patriot, Sebring, Avenger and Durango are horrible, they need to be scrapped. Even their last cash cow the Caravan has been downgraded...the older 2007 one is better equipped and better designed...sadly. I don't think this company has much chance to survive, bail out money will just delay the inevitable.

Toyota: Quality has gone down. Plastics quality in particular are very poor in newer Toyotas. Fuel efficiency, ergonomics and so far reliability still seem to be intact. A company once known for its commitment to quality seems to have fallen. Most of their product lineup is very bland giving buyers little reason to quickly buy any of them. They better be careful not to continue this trend of cost cutting or they will be in Chrysler territory.

Honda: I don't see much issue with Honda since they're up to date with their interiors unlike Toyota while having the same items that make Toyota such a strong brand. I think Honda has a good chance of going up.

Nissan: So far the Nissans are actually quite decent so long as they're not made in Mexico. The Versas and Sentras are some of the worst built vehicles I've come across. The US made Altima on the other hand is an excellent vehicle with no build quality problems I've seen.

Mazda: This is a company I see doing very well. Every single one I've driven had a lasting impression making me want to drive them again and again. Driving dynamics are very important and Mazda seems to be the ace as this. Quality seems to be pretty good particularly the cars from Japan.

Mitsubishi: This company sort of is like a poor man's Mazda. They got either decent or good driving dynamics...not quite like Mazda. The reason I say poor man's Mazda is...the interiors in all their cars are bad. They're very cheap looking and in the case of the Galant...trim pieces look out of place. If they could design a nicer higher quality interior they may not need that impressive warranty to convince buyers.

Hyundai: Things are looking very good for this company. I must say they surprised me, their best cars unlike many other companies are their newest cars. A 2009 Sonata is much better than a 2008 despite looking almost the same on the outside. Everything on these cars have improved, I'm actually looking forward to what this company can do.

Kia: They're always a step behind Hyundai since they are owned by them(after all why would Hyundai ruin their own brand for Kia?) so they're not that good right now.

Volkswagen: I haven't changed much about my thoughts about this company. They're selling overpriced mediocre cars. If you think buying "Germany engineering" is worth nearly $4000-5000 more than the equivalent car...I don't know what to say...I hate being ripped off. Even their "City" brand cars are rip offs, the City Jetta is the same price as a new Corolla but is poorly equipped and outdated(its a previous Jetta model). For a company that calls itself "the people's car" you need to be some well off people. Until they stop with the rip offs they'll not be better value than American or Japanese cars.

Volvo: Their future is uncertain. They make good cars these days, but with Ford ready to give them up to the highest bidder...they might no longer make good cars. You can tell Ford of Europe's influence in the C30 and S40, they drive nicely after all.

Anyways that's my take. I think that's all the mainstream brands. It would be nice if I've driven the luxury brands to know if you're paying Audi, Merc or BMW the extra wads of cash for something worthwhile unlike VW.
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My first post of 2009...and also half a year... [Jan. 11th, 2009|11:37 pm]
Source of evil
Ever since working at Ecars my leisure time is certainly down drastically. Working from 7:30am to 6:00pm doing mostly physical work tires me out quite quickly. I have fallen asleep much earlier than I actually wanted to like say 9:30pm, only a few times where I didn't actually want to have some shut eye. The good news however is I actually made money allowing me to buy things that I couldn't have before. I would have never been able to afford fixing nearly anything on my car without a source of income. Basically 2008's accomplishments were, finding a job and fixing my car. I also never thought I would drive this many types of cars so soon, of course I had to drive some truly awful ones but fortunately there are good ones. Much better than 2007 of being unemployed and accomplishing nothing worthwhile.

This year, because of all the money I save(according to some I save too much) I believe it is time for me to finally go to Hong Kong while visiting Japan and China for perhaps the longest vacation in a long time. Apparently me deciding to stay home again when my parents wanted to go to New York for the nth time convinced them to save the vacation time and money for something more worthy. Nothing against New York, I'm just bored of doing the same sort of vacation and not really getting much out of it now that I got everything I need from that city.

Depending how much money we spend on the vacation depends on what I'll spend it on later. I'm hoping I'll have enough for a 2nd car. Also when the economy gets better, the next item will be to get a better paying job that I will still like. I do not understand those who suffer doing a job they hate, when such a job becomes unbearable to me I look for any excuse to no longer work. If I stay at ecars, because minimum wage will increase in March 31, 2009 at least I can say I get a pay raise.

Hopefully the year 2009 will be better than the year 2008. For many the last moments of 2008 really sucked, fortunately for me it was for the most part better than I expected.
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The Cressida's back...well its been back a while ago... [Aug. 16th, 2008|10:01 pm]
Source of evil
I sent my car to the body shop in July 7, 2008 early in the morning. At work I managed to catch a black Mazda 6 being cleaned in the back with no reservations, the bonus is that the car had been detailed rather recently meaning it didn't have pet hair or some other disgusting stuff people leave in rentals. I could have taken a Mazda 3 that day too...but that car was somewhat dirty.

My Cressida was finally done in July 25, 2008 with no more visible exterior rust on any of the body panels. I was very happy with the job done that day. The next day on the drive to work, one of the chrome trim on top of the windshield just had enough and came loose and was bent from the speed. It appeared the corner chrome pieces had given up so the shop replaced all three pieces at the top. The parts all come from Toyota directly so it took a while for them to arrive, I only recently had them put back on. The last remaining piece to acquire is the chrome trim piece on the trunk of the car, this piece was lost years ago and seemed to be a piece several Cressidas of this generation lose.

I've now driven more than 60 different cars, I still think my elderly 1986 Cressida is the best car I've driven of this 60. Although despite my major preference for RWD and AWD...I've once again been lured to the 7th generation Celica(2000-2005). I honestly believe its the styling since I thought it was the best looking Celica in a long time. Reading several reviews many including Jeremy Clarkson's own review say it was fun, Clarkson of course criticized the FWD but in the end gave it 4 out of 5. Its the only FWD car I'm at all considering, for some reason I don't like the idea of owning a common car and love the fact my car and car choices are exclusive. I'm trying to see whether I might be able to acquire a 2003-2005 Celica GT with the D package, basically I get keyless, sun roof, etc. and I liked the face lifted version which is why I didn't say 2000-2002, plus the year 2000 GT has brakes that aren't made for any car which is not good for the future. The big question is whether I go manual or automatic, going manual will drop the prices and make a car like this much more fun but I don't know how to drive stick. Automatic is the safer choice and familiar choice, but it doesn't seem right for a car like this.
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It is time... [Jul. 6th, 2008|09:46 pm]
Source of evil
I've waited for quite a long time for this ever since I started to like my Cressida. My Cressida will undergo body repairs to clean up all the rust and I've acquired the trim pieces I needed to replace. Sadly a few things have increased the cost of fixing the car. The first thing was my car was hit by an asshole hit and runner with either a SUV or Van who thought I wouldn't notice. That crash is a $150 set back because the corner trim piece is smashed while the bumper needs to be repaired. Nobody will tear their car apart for such a tiny trim piece so I had to waste $100 for a small piece because of some asshole's mistake. The next set back is hail damage, my car had to take a major beating from golf ball sized hail. I heard the hail was strong enough to kill dogs, and this set me back another $800. My car actually has surprisingly taken less hail damage, most of my co-workers would have to pay quite a few thousand just to clear the hail damage. I will be dropping the car off Tuesday morning, its supposed to take about 2 weeks.

As for what I'm going to do, I'll be renting a car for the majority of the time my car is in the shop. I asked my boss to hold me a Mazda, as I posted before I'm hoping its the 6, but the 3 is also ok. Since Monday I haven't seen a Mazda 6 get returned, so I'm hoping some will return this Monday.
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