I only know how to go too far


Mighty: The Awesome Korean Card Game

Mighty was played here

Mighty was played here

My dear friend Daniel Chun taught me an awesome Korean card game called “Mighty” when I was a student at UCLA years ago. Recently I taught Mighty to my 8-year old twins and they loved playing it with us. While Mighty is best when there are five players, you can also play with just four or even three. I’m recording the rules as I had learned from Dan here so anybody can pick up Mighty and enjoy.

Quick History

According to Dan, Mighty was invented by a bunch of really smart students from Seoul University way back when.  Guess they were all experts of the game of bridge but as everybody knows… Oppas love to drink. And bridge is you know… not very Gangnam.  So I guess they wanted to add some awesomeness to the traditional bridge game so Mighty was born.

The full Mighty game is played by five players using the standard 52-card deck plus one joker.  The four-person Mighty game uses 43 cards instead of 53 by getting rid of the deuces, the fours, and the two red threes.

Special Cards

There are only 3 special cards in the game of Mighty.  They are the Mighty, the Joker, and the Joker Caller.

  • Mighty aka the most powerful card in the game. It beats all other cards and always wins the trick (or round). It can come out at any time and the mighty always wins.  Usually the ace of spades is the mighty unless spades are the trump suit.  In that case, the ace of clubs aka the other black ace becomes the mighty.
  • Joker aka the second most powerful card in the game. The joker always wins the trick save for the following three exceptions
    1. If the mighty is played in the same trick as the joker, the joker loses to the mighty.  Remember that the mighty always wins. No questions asked
    2. When the joker is played in the first or the last trick, the joker has no power and always loses.  So use the joker wisely after the first but before the last trick
    3. When the joker caller leads a trick and calls out the joker, whoever holding the joker must play the joker and the joker loses all powers and always loses.  So don’t get called out, y’o joker! The only exception to this exception is that if the joker holder also has the mighty in which case she may choose to play the mighty and win the trick
  • Joker caller aka the nemesis of the joker. If you lead the trick with the joker caller, you have the option of calling out the joker and render it powerless.  Awesome!  But just like the joker, the joker caller loses its power when it is played in the first or the last trick also aka you can’t call out the joker with the joker caller during the first and the last tricks. Typically the three of clubs is the joker caller. But when the winning bid is a clubs contract, the three of spades aka the other black three becomes the joker caller.

One interesting characteristic of the joker is that it has no suit.  Because of that, the joker can come out at any time.  And if you begin the trick with the Joker, you have to specify the suit you want and the others have to follow your suit.


Each player is dealt 10 cards with three hole cards set aside face-down for the contract winner aka the highest bidder. That’s 53 cards in total. The dealing starts with the friend from the last game (or the contract winner if no friend was called upon) and continues clockwise around the table. What do I mean by friend? Read on! If this is the first game, a random person is chosen to be dealt first.


After the cards are dealt, each player will have 10 cards in his or her hands. The standard contract bridge bidding starts with the person who was dealt first and continues clockwise. The minimum bid starts at 3-clubs which means you (and your partner) are expected to win 3 out of 10 tricks with clubs being your trump suit. Another example, a 8-hearts contract means you (and your partner) are expected to win 8 out of 10 tricks with hearts being the trump suit. The order of suits from low to high is clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades, and no-trump. The contract is won when all the other players have passed on their chance to bid. The contract winner gets to take the 3 hole cards into his hand but must put back three cards that she deems least desirable before start of play.

One extra note about bidding is that once the contract is won, the winner can still “up” the contract by raising it higher.  One reason may be to get more points.  Another reason may be to get to a more favorable trump suit.  You may raise the contract before viewing the hold cards by upping one level, e.g. from a 7-heart to a 8-heart or a 8 clubs to a 8 no-trump.  In any case, raising the contract after viewing the hole cards require two levels, e.g, from a 7-heart to a 9-clubs or a 8 clubs to a 9 no-trump.


Before the bidding is complete, any player can declare re-shuffle if  she has a really bad hand.  The definition of a bad hand is that her hand must all be lower than a 2-ten hand.

Calling Your Friend

Unlike the standard contract bridge game, in Mighty your partner is not predetermined.  Before the start of play, the contract winner calls out “the friend” (aka partner but we don’t use that old-fashioned term in Mighty) by announcing a card that she needs.  The player who holds such card is “the friend” and becomes the partner of the contract.  Together they must beat the contract to win the game.  The friend is not allowed to identify himself or herself until after the friend card is played.  If the contract winner feels adventurous, she can elect to call “no friend”.  In such case, she will be playing against all the other players at the table in this game.  The mystery of the friend and the buried hole cards add an extra dimension of variability that makes Mighty much more enjoyable and fun than the standard old-fashioned bridge.

The Play

After the contract is determined and the friend is called out (but not identified), the contract winner starts the first trick.  However, the first card played must not be a trump card (unless of course if all you have are trump cards).  So it is kind of dangerous because you always have the chance of getting trumped during your first trick (unless of course if you lead with the mighty!) The winner of the first trick begins the second trick and so on and so forth until all ten tricks are played.  Standard bridge rules apply here with the exception of the 3 special cards mentioned above.


Scoring is pretty easy.  I’ll illustrate it by examples.  Let’s start with the contract of a 7-spade bid.  And the contract winner (aka the caller) and his friend have won 8 out of 10 tricks.  That’s one more trick than the 7-spade contract calls for.  The score then would be 7*10 + 1*5 = 75 points for the caller and 37.5 points for the friend.  The friend always takes home half the score, positive or negative.  Another example, say the contract is 8-diamond and the caller and his friend have taken all 10 tricks.  The caller would get 8*10 + 2*5 = 90 points while the friend gets 45 points.  But let’s say the caller and his friend loses on a 7-hearts bid by capturing only 6 tricks.  That would be -7*10 = -70 points for the caller and -35 points for the friend.  Had they only captured 5 tricks, that would be -7*10 – 1*5 = -75 points for the caller for being down 2 and -37.5 for the friend.

So far so good?  Now the funky part.  For no trump suit, everything is doubled.  And if the caller calls no friend, that’s doubled too.  And if you call a 10-bid, that’s another double.  So the maximum score in one game is the ultimate 10-no-trump-no-friend bid.  Quick.  What’s the pointage?  Yeap, that’s 800 points if you win and -800 points if you lose.  (Fine, you actually can lose more than 800 points if you are down 2 or more but we just cap it at -800 points.  Don’t ask me why!)

Anyways, Dan and us guys would often get together and hang out near the Kerchoff Coffee House on the UCLA campus and play Mighty well into the night.  We’d usually declare a winner and start again when somebody reached 1000 points.  But you can make up your own way to enjoy.


Wanna learn some Korean?  When you call Mighty your friend, you say “mah-fu”.  When you call Joker your friend, you say “joe-fu”.  When you call no friend, you say “no-fu”.  That’s about it, my friends.  Happy Mighty!!


Diablo III, let me go!

Doctor Jademan Wong

Jademan Wong the Tanking Witch Doctor

Yes, I have been inactive in my blog for a while now.  But it was not entirely unexpected. I mean I did warn you in my one of my previous posts 133 days ago that Diablo III might just come and sweep me away. And that it did. And then some! During my journey to dark places such as Fields of Misery, Dahlgur Oasis, Stonefort, and Silver Spire, a lot of things have apparently transpired in the so-called real world. Something about a big international sports event that happens only once every four years even the Queen attended. Also something about a fat Korean dude dancing on YouTube. And last but not least, Obama lost the re-election. Or did he? But then again, who cares? Because they killed Deckard Cain, man! It’s Deckard Caaaaaaaaaain, man! I’m still mourning for the guy. Rest in peace, Cain the Elder. You have surely rocked my world!

But seriously, I do so hope to slowly come back to reality and start blogging regularly as soon as possible. I mean my Witch Doctor Jademan Wong has only about another 76 paragon levels to go. No big deal, y’all! #InnerPeace

Social Networking

me: Yeah, I tried this wine last week and it just blew me away and guess how much I paid…
friend #1: $29.99 no tax no shipping. Saw your tweet. Sweet!

me: Dude, this Caesar salad I just had for lunch at Mixt Greens was so delicious…
friend #2: No, you didn’t. You checked into the McDonald’s around the corner on foursquare. And you supersized your fries!

me: Oh, I just came back from Shanghai yesterday. And there was this BEAUTIFUL temple that was just…
friend #3: I know. I saw your pictures on flickr. Awesome. Can’t believe flickr is accessible from behind the Great Firewall though…

me: Remember that a-hole Joe who used to work with us from years ago. The guy who couldn’t even tell the difference between ls and cd?  I just ran into him the other day and guess where he works now?
friend #4: Technically he doesn’t have to work anymore.  He joined LinkedIn after you got him fired and they went IPO.  I also saw on Pinterest that he’s buying an island in the Bahamas and got an evite to his house-warming in Atherton…

me: Honey, I enjoyed this movie very much.
Honey: Liar! Why did you write “Kill me now!” on your Facebook status then!?

me: Wow, this is amazing. My friends know me so well! I’ve got to blog about this.
friend #5: So you’re done playing Diablo 3 then?

Diablo III, here I come!

Yeah, baby!

Thanks to DLAM who built this awesome PC for me, now I am finally ready for Diablo III!

Some cool specs

  • Intel Core i7 3770 CPU at 3.4GHz
    • Can you say Ivy Bridge, byatch?
  • 16GB Mushkin Enhanced Redline DDR3 SDRAM
    • DDR3 1600 @ 7-7-7-24, baby!
  • ASUS GTX570 DirectCU II graphics card
    • This beast takes up more space than my CPU, memory, and disk drives combined!
  • ASUS MAXIMUS V GENE Z77 mother board
    • This mobo is one mean mofo. Can you say over-clocking?
  • SanDisk Extreme SSD 240GB
    • Don’t worry, I’ve got another 2TB internal drive for all my private video files. LOL!
  • Cooler Master HAF 922 Mid Tower Case
    • This tower glows in diablo red, man!
  • Cooler Master RSA00-AMBAJ3-US Power Supply
    • Maxes out at 1.2 kilowatts!!

So if I ever become inactive on this blog, you will know why. Look for me on Battle.net, baby!

July Rhapsody (A Song)

From the movie July Rhapsody (男人四十) comes one of my favorite Chinese songs.  Enjoy.

作曲: 彭妮
填詞: 潘源良

繁忙的工作 加一把勁來過渡
無聊的交際 祇管把笑容製造
回家 打開一副電腦
模擬找到 模擬傾訴 模擬很好
從來不知道 怎麼竟各行各路
從前的一套 今天仔細仍照做
夜深 粉紫色這外套
模擬起舞 模擬擁抱 模擬得到

仍然明知許多女伴 一轉身會遇到
為何感到 這不算最好
明明從新掌握去做 我總可以做到
為何今晚我不懂如何 告別煩惱

浮華掌聲裡 祇想一個人讚慕
從難關出發 心境可向誰透露
是否 悲歡早有定數
何時得到 何時失去 誰能猜到

Cold War (A Poem)

Are you listening to me!?

Are you happy or are you sad?
Are you tired or are you mad?
Why didn’t you sleep well?
I couldn’t tell

Where were you this morning?
We’re constantly out of sync
You have stopped moving
I don’t know what to think

Did you like my gifts?
My pictures, my letters?
Silence is golden
But words feel better

I took this photo in Qi Bao, Shanghai. I’m not sure if the couple were actually having a fight but that’s the interpretation I’m going to stick with and hence this poem.


With thousands of years of history, modern China presents many situations of contrast for the photographer in me. Please enjoy three of my recent photos from Shanghai.

Modern vs. Rustic

Within the shadows of the rising skyscrapers in Shanghai, you can still find a few roosters here and there oblivious to the incredible economic boom that has been happening all over China.

History vs. Trend

Claudia Schiffer or inner peace? How about both? In Shanghai you can go from a bustling modern shopping mall to a serene thousand-year-old temple just by crossing the street.

West vs. East

The top five best selling books inside the Great Walmart of China are an eclectic mix of Western and Chinese classics and modern writings.

    1. Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson (translated)
    2. Sam Walton: Made In America by Sam Walton and John Huey (translated)
    3. Confidence and Hope: Interviews with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao edited by Xinhua News Agency
    4. Journey to the West by Wu Chengen; Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Antonius (translated); Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia by Baltasar Gracián (translated)
    5. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay (translated)

Terrible Souvenir for Korean Guys

That’s 75% of all Korean dramas right there!

If you pay attention to the third tea mug from the right in the front row at the top, it says “不要迷恋姐 姐夫会揍你” which translates roughly to “don’t fall in love with your own sister because your brother-in-law will beat the crap out of you”. Well. First of all, this statement is so obvious to me that it is just the sort of thing that I don’t expect anybody would need a reminder for. Which begs the question of its very existence. Then I remember my recent favorite K-drama Bad Boy in which the main character falls in love with his very own sister who is freaking freaking freaking hot! Perhaps this is communist China’s way of making fun of the democratic South Korean men who are so very cursed with beautiful beautiful beautiful sisters. Perhaps not. But either way, don’t get this tea mug for your Korean friends or they shall be your friends no more.

This blog post concludes the trio of photos I took of this awesome store “火柴天堂” aka “Heaven of Matches” in Qi Bao, Shanghai, China.  Here are the first post and the second post of the trilogy.  Thanks for reading.

Impossible is Nothing says Bin Laden

A new Adidas spokesperson?

Okay, since when did Osama join the likes of David Beckham, Lionel Messi, Tracey McGrady, Kevin Garnett, etc. in Adidas’s “Impossible is Nothing” advertising campaign? LOL! (If you are confused, click on the image to get the original so you can see what Bin Laden says.)

I saw these awesome cigarette cases in the same “Heaven of Matches” store that I mentioned in my previous blog post as well as my next one. Too bad I don’t smoke. Otherwise, I would have bought a few of these. I probably should have!  But they are a little pricey at 35 rmb (about $6 USD) a piece.  🙂

Forbidden Acts in a Chinese Public Restroom

Modern China has arrived!

I simply couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that face towel hanging from the ceiling of this fascinating store during my recent trip to Shanghai, China. I had to take a picture of it immediately so I can share it with everybody on my blog later. (Okay, you’re right. Initially I was actually just aiming to shoot the pretty girl inside.) Anyway, so is this stuff okay to sell inside the Great Wall? If so, we are one step closer to freedom of speech in China, baby! Next stop: porn!

Some background info on the store. The name Huo Chai Tian Tang aka “火柴天堂” translates to “Heaven of Matches”. It may be a reference to the classic Danish story “The Little Match Girl”. The store is located in Qi Bao aka “七宝” aka “Seven Treasures”, a thousand-year-old ancient town which is now a part of Shanghai. I have posted two more pictures from the same store here and there.  Enjoy!

Whyever (A Poem)

What when where who why and how
Whatever century we are in now
Whenever a place we may go
Wherever we find someone to say hello
Whoever you may ask the following question
Why is whyever never in any conversation?
However hard you shall try
You will never ever know why
What when where who why and how
Cacao to whyever. Cacao!

I Don’t Have a Teenie Weenie!

Teenie Weenie

No, mom, I don’t want to have a teenie weenie!

I saw this store during my recent trip to Shanghai inside a high-end shopping mall.  Thought it was just way too funny not to share.  LOL!

Learn and Keep on Living!

詩雅, 請再好好過日子!

I saw a random news report on a TV monitor in a bus during my vacation in Shanghai, China last couple of weeks.  I mean there are LCD screens everywhere in Shanghai these days.  Malls, restaurants, buses, taxis, elevators, even bathrooms!  Anyway I saw this really cute girl crying at a press conference on TV looking really really sad.  I had no idea who she was or where she came from or what she had done.  Anyways, that sad face stuck in my mind so I googled after I came back from my vakay and found her music videos on YouTube!  Here’s my favorite and here’s another good one.  (Remember there’s no Google, Youtube, WordPress, Facebook, and my dear new employer Twitter behind the Great Firewall!!  Argh!!)

Turns out she’s a young singer from Hong Kong namd Shiga Lin (連詩雅).  And what happened was somebody had leaked a few embarrassing photos she took with one of her ex-boyfriends when she was sixteen and madly in love.  In other words, she didn’t do anything wrong.  I mean who doesn’t have embarrassing photos!?!?  (Attention all my ex’es: don’t worry.  Yours are safe!!)  Now that she’s done her sentence but apparently committed no crime.  I’m gonna give her a plug on my ultra popular blog and my vast social network!  Here’s a list of her videos on YouTube and Youku.

Shiga, you now have a new fan in me!  You go girl!  Be true!  Be strong!  Be alright!

It’s Good-bye Again…

Seal Slough of San Mateo

I started this blog on WordPress (my first post) after a job opportunity took me back to the beautiful city of San Mateo.  But now it looks like yet another job change will take me back to San Francisco.  It is definitely a bittersweet decision for me personally because I do feel very connected to this tiny city.  It is gorgeous, clean, and very safe.  Lots of good eats everywhere.  Many of the people that I have met while working in San Mateo are special to me.  Some more special than others of course.  You know who you are.

I will miss working with you, antagonizing you, making you laugh, making you dance, drinking with you, solving tough problems together with you, working super late with you, working super early with you, making fun of you, being made fun of, challenging you, being challenged, shooting you, being shot at, and last but not least taking walks with you.

Good-bye and take care!

Free Will is Really Free!

Actual recent IM chat

(01:46:49 AM) bryce: i gotta write up a blog post
(01:47:24 AM) Joyce: about what?
(01:47:31 AM) bryce: free will
(01:47:46 AM) Joyce: what made you decide to write about that?
(01:47:58 AM) bryce: well, obviously!!!
(01:48:16 AM) Joyce: lol

If you had listened to the Radiolab broadcast called No Special Now (or related ones like Choice or Is Free Will Really Free?), you would have learned that free will often times seems like an illusion.  In other words, your brain is merely fooling you into thinking that you had made a decision to call Sarah while in fact that decision has already been made for you even before her beautiful face entered your conscious thought.  This idea was pioneered by Harvard professor of psychology Daniel Wegner.  So in other words, you’re not really in control even though your brain tells you that you are.  I disagree.

Well, here’s why.  Just because it’s NOT your brain that came up with the idea to tell you to call the princess of your dreams doesn’t mean it’s not free will.  Guys know what I’m talking about.  Obviously it’s your little bro telling your brain to tell you to call Sarah!  But that’s still your little bro, bro!  It’s still you!  That little bro ain’t somebody else’s little bro.  Or the devil’s, right?  Hello!  You wit’ me!?  Who says free will has to live inside your brain, bro!?  It don’t!  Free will lives inside of you!  And any body part in you should be able to step up and tell you what to do!!  That’s still free will, my friends!  Free your mind, bro!

Just to make sure you understand what I’m talking about.  Your little bro is your heart.

Listen to your heart!


Leave the Lights On (A Song by Meiko)

We’re in the dark. It’s getting late
I really should go. He’s waiting for me
We both know it’s not what it seems
We both know what’s between the sheets

 I know that it’s a secret and that I gotta keep it
 But I want the lights on. Yeah I want the lights on
 And I don’t wanna run away anymore
 Leave the lights on. Leave the lights on. Leave the lights on

What would they say? What would they do?
Would it be trouble if they knew?
I’m trying hard to make you see
All that you are is all that I need

Let it out. Let it out. Let it out
Let it out. Let it out. Let it out

** Here is the equally beautiful acoustic version. Simply wonderful.

The Three of Us (A Poem by Starlee Kine)

  • This poem below is from my favorite favorite This American Life story. You can listen to my favorite story here for free. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.  Here is the link to the song itself.
  • The photo below is used without permission from its owner Noah Webb. You can check out his website full of great photographs and inspiration here.

I loved you and you loved her
So I sort of loved her cause I love everything you love
And then she stopped, stopped loving you
And glory hallelujah! Somehow you start loving me
I don’t know why I love you
I just do. I really do
And it doesn’t do me any good. In fact it does me bad
Cause you’re oh so gone and I’m oh so sad

I love you and you love me
And you sort of told me that you love me more than her
And then you stopped, stopped loving me
And lord, won’t you take me? You picked right up loving her
I don’t know why I love you
I just do. I really do
And it doesn’t do me any good. In fact it does me bad
Cause you’re oh so gone and I’m oh so sad

Pronoun trouble again
Instead of him and I is her and him
I need a way back in
If we share, it could be her and him and me!

Now it’s just the three of us
The names may have changed but the sorry facts remain the same
She loves you and I love you
I’m okay with second best. Just love her more and love me less
I don’t know why I love you
I just do. I really do
And it doesn’t do me any good. In fact it does me bad
Cause you’re oh. so. gone. And I’m oh. so. sad
Cause you’re oh. so. gone. And I’m oh. so. sad

Teleportation Equals Death to True Love

Transporter Star Trek

Beam me up!

Here is a true conundrum to all of us nerds who are also capable of romantic endeavors aka matters of the heart not just of the mind (or brain if you are so neurologically inclined). Imagine the not-too-distant future where teleportation is just another commonplace green technology to rid us of our dependence on fossil fuel, much like the electric car. Yay! Beam me up, Scotty! Or Geordi if you belong to my generation. But in any case, don’t you realize that if teleportation were indeed possible, that would imply that we could clone people!? I’m talking about the technological prowess to break down and transport all necessary information right down to the atomic/molecular level and re-ensemble all of it to teleport me from Chinatown in San Francisco to Koreatown in Los Angeles. Yay! Beam me up now!

You see? If we can do that, what’s to prevent us from sending the same information to Seoul, Korea at the same time? Man, I could be paying a visit to two different room bangs in two different cities simultaneously! The physics of cloning is now clear! Cool!

Not so cool! Because that would really mess things up. Biologically, that means I would live forever because I could just keep replicating my transported self over and over again. However, this conundrum is not relevant at this time. A later blog post perhaps? What’s really upsetting to us romantic nerds is that cloning is a direct assault to the holy concept of “The One” aka “True Love”. By definition, “True Love” is one-and-only (c.f. how to find true love) so how can we have two of me if I’m your “The One”. Right, girl? Baby, I can explain… Please don’t run away… Hey, where you going!?

See the conundrum!? But wait! Maybe we can’t really transport anything perfectly because there is that problem of quantum coherence (look it up!) Maybe it’s not really the same old me that shows up in K-town!? I swear I feel like a different person in K-town but that’s a different story. Anyway, if the teleported me isn’t me, that would mean that we’re not technically teleporting! So what do I give up: scientific fantasy or romantic fantasy?

Discuss! 🙂

P.S. I Love You (A Poem)

P.S. I Love You

Do you remember this '維他汽水' commercial from 1983?

Please don’t push me
I’d like to be left alone
I’m not here to make friends
I just want to go home
I might smile or laugh a lot
But that doesn’t mean I’m friendly
To You
To me you seem too nice
I have no choice but to cut you off cold
The more gifts you give
The more distance I’ll keep
Don’t think I’m bad or anything
I live by God’s good word
So please don’t tell me your name because I’ll forget everything

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