From the gas price in Chicago to real estate investment

This week I was in Chicago. It had been 24 years since the last time I visited the city in 1994. How time passed by! While the city may have gone through some changes, what drew my attention was the gas price.

The current gas price in Chicago was $3.37 per gallon. If compared to Hong Kong, it was not that bad. However when compared to my last visit here in 1994, it was high. In 1994, the gas price was about $1.11 per gallon. So it was like a 3 times increase! And I talked to a driver of Lyft, who was an immigrant from Brazil.  She said the current minimum wage in Chicago was $12 per hour. And the minimum wage in 1994 was $4.25. So it was almost a 3 times increase as well. Talk about inflation!

And I started thinking whether investing in real estate was a good hedge against inflation. According to the United States Census Bureau, the median and average sales prices of new homes sold in the United States in July this year are $328,700 and $394,300 respectively. During the same period in 1994, the median and average sales prices were $124,400 and $144,400. The increases are 2.64 times for the median sales price and 2.73 times for the average one. It seems like the housing has been catching up with inflation. Maybe investing in real estate is a safe choice to safeguard one against inflation.


  1. Chicago gas price 1994:
  2. Chicago minimum wage: 1994 and 2018
  3. Median and Average Sales Prices of New Homes Sold in United States (historical data)






First time to Guam

The past weekend I had a brief getaway with families and friends attending a wedding ceremony at the heavenly Guam, a US island to the west of Pacific Ocean, somewhere between the Philippines and Hawaii. As you can imagine, like Hawaii, Guam is known for its beautiful weather, tropical beaches and an indigenous culture.   Please do expect occasional showers, though.


As we made our booking separately and had different preferences, the gang was not staying in the same hotel.  We were staying in:

They are all nice and beautiful.

Mobility on the island is easy and convenient.  We were glad that we rented a car that made shopping easy, and allowed us to survive from the occasional yet heavy rain showers.


In fact, as we’d decided to rent a car before our trip, we started researching which car rental companies had their counters inside the airport. But we could not find too much information about it.  I thus purposely took some photos while I was there and would like to share them here.  They have Hertz, Budget, Avis, National, Nissan and Dollar Rent-a-Car counters plus some others located inside the terminal.

At night we saw a nice performance with brisky music played with the guitar and ukulele. I enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere and nice songs sung by a sonorous voice.










A Day in Harvard

Finally I got a chance to visit Harvard last June.  It was an amazing day!

Did you know?

  • Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, established in 1636.
  • Their motto is Veritas (Latin for “truth”)
  • They have an income of US$5 billion in Fiscal Year 2017 (with Expenses of US$4.5 billion)
  • Harvard has the largest endowment among any academic institutions (US$37.1 billion in Fiscal Year 2017)
  • Harvard has 48 Nobel Laureates, 32 heads of state, 48 Pulitzer Prize winners

I stayed at Sheraton Boston Hotel this time.




  • 哈佛大學建於一六三六年,是美國歷史最悠久的高等學府

  • 校訓是「真理」(拉丁文︰Veritas)

  • 二零一七年度的收入為五十億美金,開支為四十五億美金

  • 哈佛的捐贈基金高達三百七十一億美元,冠絕所有高等學府

  • 哈佛畢業生有四十八個諾貝爾獎得主,三十二個國家元首和四十八個普立茲獎得主


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

This says a lot about people’s subjective perceptions. And it doesn’t only happen in scenic beauty, but also in music, food, smell and so on. Everyone is different and they have their own takes on good food and good music. My “sweet” is different from your “sweet” and my “soft” may be a bit “rough” to you. Is there a way to transfer subjective feelings directly to others apart from communicating in words?

I was making a presentation in US with a theme crafted with the above illustration.  In addition to using questionnaire and a rating system, I think it is important to allow the others to be immersed in the same environment in acquiring the specific information you need. My speech is to introduce a mobile app that enables users to create their own ideal soundscapes while experimenting with different sources of sound. This differs from the traditional approach of surveying the public through a soundwalk. Can a survey transfer to the mind of the soundscape designer the respondent’s specific ideas of “a good soundscape”, “vague music” and “pleasant experience”? The designers with their own personal perceptions will read the words in their own ways. After all they are reading words rather than minds.

I related the idea of soundscape designing to creating recipes and making food. I put French fries in my presentation not only to draw attention, but also to explain the idea of subjectivity. The icon of fries is a feature in the app too.

Do you think the fries connect my audience to me and the app?

情人眼裏出西施 — 主觀性對聲景評價的影響