Archive for July, 2003

Date: July 31st, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Ao1 – Concave

Yes, really! means concave! And that’s not all. Guess how you write convex?

– Tu1 – Convex (although I have to point out that technically, the character is not convex)

I swear I’m not making this up! I only looked this up because our new house has a 凹洞 – Ao1 Dong4 – Concave Hole — Pit in the backyard.

Jenny also tells me that you can describe a bumpy road as 凹凸不平 – Ao1 Tu1 Bu4 Ping2 – Concave Convex Not Flat!

Date: July 31st, 2003
Cate: Regular
8 msgs

Always Be Closing

Done! We own the house! Pictures later at

Date: July 31st, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Fan1 – Flip

翻船 – Fan1 Chuan2 – Flip Boat — Capsize

Another word of the day stolen from Yvonne.

Date: July 29th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– He2 – Union, Agreement, Join

合金 – He2 Jin1 – Join Metal — Alloy

聯合國 – United Join Country – Lian2 He2 Guo2 — United Nations

符合標準 – Fu2 He2 Biao1 Zhun3 – Standards Compliant

合作 – He2 Zuo4 – Cooperate, Collaborate

Yvonne is studying for her TOEFL so I asked her what her word for today is. “Cooperative” she said. So I stole it!

Date: July 28th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
6 msgs

– Pian4 – Deceive, Cheat

騙人 – Pian4 Ren2 – Lying

騙子 – Pian4 Zi5 – Liar, Cheater

Today’s word of the day comes from Jenny:

The horrible insurance lady cheated us; she gave us a really low rate, then when we decided to use her service, she quickly jacked up the price knowing that it’s too late for us to make the switch! The legendary bait and switch!

Date: July 28th, 2003
Cate: Regular
15 msgs


You know how you always read those whimsical news reports about this bookie or that bookie giving whatever odds on Saddam being alive, or aliens touching down, or Michael and Latoya Jackson being the same person? It turns out that Uncle Sam wants to be that bookie, and base national policy on how the bets are going. The thinking goes, gamblers aren’t stupid. If lots of them are betting that Saddam is dead, then he’s probably dead. They prove that this (what they call “market based”) method works with this helpful graphic:

See how the “Market Method” arrow hits right at the center? You can’t lose!

Here’s the page at DARPA about the project: FutureMap

And here’s a news story about it. Apparently this idea has already secured $3 million in funding from the House, but is having trouble in the Senate.

Now before you tell me that this is somehow different from taking bets and making odds, read this summary of an earlier version of this project (search for Electronic Market-Based Decision Support):

Typically, the market maker issues a basket of contracts covering a set of events that is mutually exclusive and exhaustive. Market participants trade the issued contracts freely, buying and selling individual contracts through an electronic market. When the outcome is known, the market maker pays off only the winning contracts; before the outcome is known, the prices reflect market opinion of the probability of each outcome.

Date: July 28th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
2 msgs

– Gang3 – Harbor

香港 – Xiang1 Gang3 – Fragrant Harbor — Hong Kong
(and strangely, Athlete’s Foot is 香港腳 – Xiang Gang3 Jiao3 – Hong Kong Foot)

香腸 – Xiang Chang2 – Fragrant Intestine — Sausage

香蕉 – Xiang1 Jiao1 – Banana

香菜 – Xiang1 Cai4 – Fragrant Vegetable — Parsley

香草 – Xiang1 Cao3 – Fragrant Grass — Herb

香水 – Xiang1 Shui3 – Fragrant Water — Perfume

They all sound nice, right? Now get a load of this:

香肉 – Xiang1 Rou4 – Fragrant Meat — DOG MEAT

Date: July 27th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Gao1 – Tall, High

高爾夫 – Gao1 Er3 Fu1 – Golf

迷你高爾夫 – Mi2 Ni3 Gao1 Er3 Fu1 – Miniature Golf

Date: July 26th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– Fa1 – Give Out

has other meanings too.

發財 – Fa1 Cai2 – Give Out Wealth — Become Rich.

On New Year, right after saying 新年快樂, you might say 恭喜發財 – Gong1 Xi3 Fa1 Cai2 which literally means “Congratulations on becoming rich!” but really I think is just a general good wish of prosperity.

Because – Ba1 – Eight sounds like , it is considered a lucky number. Many Chinese people try to work this number in wherever they can. For instance, if you keep your eyes peeled, you’ll see 8 appear frequently in the phone numbers of Chinese restaurants. This is no accident!

For 8-luckiness-extremists, there’s this: Real US dollar bills, with serial numbers that begin with 8888, for $5.95 each. ( is an official US government site. it used to be at And they sell very well! One guy bought 44,000 of them. Which means he paid $261,800 for $44,000, plus luck.

It’s somewhat strange that he bought 44,000 since 4 is the most UNLUCKY number. – Si4 – Four sounds like – Si3 – Die. This number is so dangerous that many hospitals in Chinese speaking countries don’t have fourth floors.

Amazingly, incredibly, the power of this superstition is so great that Chinese and Japanese (who also find 4 unlucky, for the same reason) heart patients were found more likely to die on the 4th of the month than any other day.

Date: July 24th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Pen1 – Spray

噴嚏 – Pen1 Ti4 – Sneeze (noun)

打噴嚏Da3 Pen1 Ti4 – Sneeze (verb)

Date: July 24th, 2003
Cate: Regular
6 msgs

Not an animated GIF

Date: July 23rd, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Ke2 – Cough

Disease week continues, at Chinese Word of the Day. Today we have 咳嗽 – Ke2 Sou5 – Cough.

Judy was here yesterday and was making fun of my sickness, saying I probably have “The SARS”. But then she said it couldn’t be, since I haven’t been around anybody from an infected area. I pointed to Yvonne, who was standing right behind her. Zing!

(And for those of you who worry about such things, I’m just kidding, I don’t have the SARS. I had a cold. It’s almost gone now.)

Date: July 22nd, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Jiu1 – Chirp

The sound a sneeze makes: 哈啾 – Ha1 Jiu1!

(did you notice that most of the onomatopoeia and phonetic words have in them?)

Date: July 22nd, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
3 msgs

– Gan3 – Feel, Sense

– Mao4 – Brave, Rash

And for some reason I don’t understand, these two combine to say 感冒 – Gan3 Mao4 – Cold (the sickness).

Date: July 20th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Yu4 – Region, Territory, Domain

域名 – Yu4 Ming2 – Domain Name. An example domain name is FEEDONFEEDS.COM.

Date: July 20th, 2003
Cate: Geekism
2 msgs


I’ve been seeing Bloglines in my logs for a while now. Because of this LM post, I finally went over and signed up. It’s pretty good! It’s got folders, OPML import/export, and bookmarking of items. The notifier is an excellent idea. But, there’s no “download source” link. It doesn’t have per item mark as read, or mark as unread. And it threatens to add advertisements in the future.

I really have to redouble my efforts to get FoF 0.2 out. And I should do something about the requirement that you have to download and install FoF on a server to use it…

Date: July 19th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– Ye1 – (this word is meaningless!)

has a few archaic meanings, but nowadays it is a meaningless word that is just used in some names for its sound. One example is 耶穌 – Ye1 Su1 – Jesus. Another is 耶魯 – Ye1 Lu3 – Yale.

Now isn’t this funny. The in Jesus means “revive”. I wonder if they did that on purpose?

And here’s another one! The in Yale can mean “stupid”! Now I know they didn’t do that on purpose. Unless maybe the first person to transliterate it was from a rival school or something. It’s also a surname, which I’ve mentioned before.

We went to Yale today, Yvonne wanted to take a look around the campus. It just so happened that a tour group was leaving right as we walked by the visitor center, so we tagged along.

A card catalog at one of their million libraries.

This isn’t at Yale. This was in 台南 – Tai2 Nan2 – Tainan. See the papers strewn around his feet? He’s 魁星Kui2 Xing1God of Test Taking (and literature, and travel, and students). If you come and leave a piece of paper with the date and location of your test, and maybe burn some incense, he’ll help you get a good grade.

It turns out Yale has a God of Test Taking too! The tour guide told us that if you rub this guy’s foot, you’ll get good grades on your tests. You can see from the discoloration of his boot that the Yalies take their gods just as seriously as the people in Taiwan.

Date: July 19th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Wu1 – Sorcery

巫婆 – Wu1 Po2 – Sorcery Grandmother — Witch

男巫 – Nan2 Wu1 – Man Sorcery — Wizard

Today’s word of the day brought to you by:


(Here’s a little side note, before Joe shows up and says this himself. The name of the movie in Japanese is 魔女の宅急便 – Majo no Takkyuubin – Witch’s Delivery Service. The word for witch in Japanese is 魔女, which uses the same I mentioned the other day. (And which you should really know by now, even though it’s never been officially word of the day.))

Date: July 17th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– La4 – Spicy

酸辣湯 – Suan1 La4 Tang1 – Sour Spicy Soup — Hot And Sour Soup

麻辣豆腐 – Ma2 La4 Dou4 Fu5 – Tingly Spicy Soybean Curd — Spicy Tofu

has another connotation. 辣妹 – La4 Mei4 – Spicy Little Sister — Hot Chick.

(today’s word of the day brought to you by 三喵)

Date: July 17th, 2003
Cate: Geekism
4 msgs

AOL Journals

Looks like AOL Journals are now live. Here’s one.

The posts at this Journal so far:

  • Hello world
  • Pictures of my dog
  • More pictures of my dog
  • Left wing politics
  • Link to Megnut

In short, it appears that AOL webloggers are just like regular webloggers.

There are some technical problems: You have to have an AOL ID to post comments! Crazy proprietary author links. The HTML and CSS looks and feels creaky. No trackback. (whistle…) But, there are some things that are really right: Good permalinks. RSS. Reasonable archives. And I love the old school touch of including a guestbook.

(found by dangerousmeta!)

Date: July 17th, 2003
Cate: Geekism
2 msgs


I wonder if this works?

Date: July 17th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Sui2 – Follow, Accompany, Comply With

便 – Bian4 – Convenient, Casual, Informal

隨便 – Sui2 Bian4 – As You Like, It Doesn’t Matter

Today’s Word of the Day comes to you via Yvonne. I asked her what it should be and she said “隨便”.

Date: July 16th, 2003
Cate: Geekism

Tired: Mouse. Wired: Salad Tongs!

In the future, all computers will work this way. More at Surface Drawing.

(via Signal vs. Noise)

Date: July 16th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
11 msgs

– Zhen1 – Needle

– Jiu3 – Moxibustion (more) (more)

針灸 – Zhen1 Jiu3 – Accupuncture

Accupuncture is called 針灸 but neither Jenny nor Yvonne knew what meant, so I looked it up. I guess over the years the focus shifted to the part of 針灸. But, is still practiced. When I told Jenny what moxibustion was, she said “oooooooohhhh” and said her Uncle, who does “regular accupuncture”, does that too.

Date: July 16th, 2003
Cate: Geekism

Netscape is over

I was wondering if this was coming when I saw The Mozilla Foundation posted today. “The Mozilla Foundation is a new non-profit organization that will serve as the home for” And here it is: AOL has laid off everybody that was working on Mozilla.

This CNet article seems to be trying to put a good spin on it. But the rumors and evidence around the Net say that the Netscape and Mozilla teams within AOL no longer exist, and if Mozilla is to survive, it’s going to be as a 100% volunteer and donation based organization. It’s not clear to me how likely that is to work.

My impression has been that while Mozilla gets lots of community help, the driving force behind it was still people in nice offices in Mountain View, writing code and having meetings, and getting paid to do it. For instance, look at most of the email addresses of the module owners: they are or If the news today is accurate, they’re all gone. The $2 million AOL is giving as seed money to The Mozilla Foundation won’t hire more than a handful of them, and not for very long.

Date: July 14th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Mo2 – Devil

惡魔 – E4 Mo2 – Evil Devil — Demon

魔術 – Mo2 Shu4 – Devil Techinique — Magic

Date: July 14th, 2003
Cate: Otherwhere


The very interesting story of an American’s trip to North Korea, along with plenty of pictures: Journey into Kimland

(found in the secret nooks and crannies of

Date: July 14th, 2003
Cate: Meta

messy-78 hits the big time

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer today on the disappearance of the weblogger:

What happened? Just as we were getting to know him — and even like him — Ted disappeared from our lives, without so much as an explanation, or a farewell post. We feel so … empty.

Hey, wait a second! We don’t even know Ted’s last name. Come to think of it, he deftly avoided giving his e-mail address, instead offering a feedback form and explaining that he didn’t want to attract spam. And his posts seemed almost too real. As a different weblogger who noticed Ted’s weblog observed, the tone of his writing was “not 100% human.”

Me, two weeks ago, on the weblogger:

I wonder how long this will keep going? The tone of “Ted”’s writing is not 100% human, but it’s still interesting to me for the technical details. So far I learned that they use Perl and Mason.

Date: July 13th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Yi2 – Happy

怡芳 – Yi2 Fang1 – Happy Fragrant — Yvonne!

She’s finally here from Taiwan, to stay with us for a little while before school starts.

Date: July 13th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Yin4 – Stamp, Seal, Mark, Print

印度 – Yin4 Du4 – India

We had 印度菜 – Yin4 Du4 Cai4 – Indian Food at Darbar India tonight, which we think is the best Indian restaurant in Connecticut.

I also found out while searching for the restaurant what “darbar” means.

Date: July 12th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– Di2 – A Surname

狄龍 – Di2 Long2 –

Ti Lung (this is how his name is normally spelled) in Iron Chain Assassin, also known as Iron Chain Fighter or The Convict Killer.

The Chinese name of this movie is 插翅難飛 – Cha1 Chi4 Nan2 Fei1. It literally means “Insert Wing, Hard to Fly”. It’s an expression that means something like you’re in such bad trouble, that even if you stick wings on your back, you still won’t be able to fly away.

Ti Lung was also in Iron Fingers of Death, also known as Shaolin Prince, or in Chinese, 少林傳人 – Shao3 Lin2 Chuan2 Ren2 – Shaolin Legacy, which is easily in the top 12 Kung Fu movies EVER. Iron Chain Assassin is great too.

During junior high, before the scourge of the infomercial destroyed late night TV, random local channels and the USA network used to fill the wee hours of the morning with KUNG FU. I taped everything they showed, and built up a pretty good library of movies. To this day, lurking in those stacks of tapes, are movies I’ve never seen. Iron Chain Assassin is one that I had seen back then, but didn’t pay much attention to. I recently dusted off the tape (no coke on this one) and watched it again, and let me tell you, it’s really really good.

Actually there’s another funny story there. Since I’m so stupid, I would sometimes cut off the ends of movies. The tape would run out, or the time on the VCR would be off. Iron Fingers of Death was one where the ending was cut off, about halfway though the big fight at the end where the Two Princes reunite to battle the Ninth Prince. They were fighting him, while his minions were carrying him around on a big chair. The Princes are starting to win, but then the chair suddenly folds up and becomes a weapon, startling them. They look at each other for a second, and then charge back in… and the tape ends! It took literally YEARS of searching video stores across the entire stupid state (this was before the internet) to finally find and rent a copy. One video store had the case for it, but the movie was never in. I went back there week after week, and finally asked the guy what’s up with that movie, is it really popular, or what. He said no, somebody rented it and never brought it back. Nice of him to leave the case out on the shelf, huh. He promised to order another copy of it, but he never did. The store eventually went out of business. I finally found it for rent someplace else, after only having the truncated version for something like 5 years. The ending was really great!

Another movie that I famously cut off was Invincible Obsessed Fighter, but the ending of that one, when it was finally recovered, was really strange and disappointing. The consensus is that the cut off version is actually better. “He’s now an orphan, and…”

Date: July 11th, 2003
Cate: Regular
3 msgs

Prodigious Tedium

My latest stupid project at work is INVENTORY MANAGEMENT. We’ve got some ridiculously expensive inventory database thing and I have to see if I can summon the massive technology required to actually put inventory data in it, using a Palm equipped with a barcode scanner. The Palm showed up today and I am currently on a SCANNING FRENZY. I frequently aim the laser directly into peoples eyes and then say “BEEP”. I also pretend I’m Spock (or Data) and scan for life signs. What’s that little song Data sang? Scanning for life signs, scanning for life signs, I love scanning for life signs. I couldn’t quite remember, so I went to Google and typed in something absolutely meaningless and guaranteed not to find anything good like “data life forms song” and guess what I got as the first result???!?!?!

Data’s lifeforms song

And then in typical mind-blowing internet fashion, here’s the SECOND result. Inspired by that song, some guy wrote a Dr. Seuss version of a typical star trek episode:

One Lifeform, Two Lifeforms. Red Lifeforms, Blue Lifeforms:

Captain, sir, my scanners show
Several life forms down below.
Sir, these life forms are in trouble.
Beam them up, sir, on the double.

Data, we can’t beam them here!
The Prime Directive’s very clear.
Worf! Take Riker, Crusher too!
Go down and see what you can do!!

Data, your emotion chip
Has turned you into one big drip.
Where did all your logic go?
“Beam them up from down below???”

Mr. Worf, I’ve heard enough.
Being an Android’s very tough.
Now get a move on, please just go
To the planet. Make it so.

Date: July 11th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Mei2 – Have Not

Earlier I mentioned a way to ask questions using . In sentences with the verb – You3 – Have, you use instead.

你會不會寫? – Ni3 Hui4 Bu4 Hui4 Xie3? – Do you know how to write?
你有沒有筆? – Ni3 You3 Mei2 You3 Bi3? – Do you have a pen?

Date: July 10th, 2003
Cate: Geekism
3 msgs


I’m thinking of switching licenses for the next version of Feed on Feeds. 0.0 and 0.1 have already been released as GPL, but for 0.2 the Creative Commons Non-Commercial Share-Alike is pretty close to what I think I want.

It would mean you can download FoF and use it for yourself, or set it up for all your friends. You can modify the code all you want. You can redistribute FoF with your changes, or as is, but you must include the source code. However, if you want to set up a commercial Feed on Feeds service, or integrate Feed on Feeds with a commercial web site, you have to get my permission first.

This may be too restrictive. I still need to think about it more. Are there other licenses out there that I should be looking at? I want something like GPL but also talks about providing a hosted service. What I want to avoid is somebody taking FoF, changing it around or renaming it, and charging people for access to it without sharing their changes or mentioning the fact that you can download it for free.


Date: July 9th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Xing1 – Heavenly Body, Small Amount

星期 – Xing1 Qi1 – Week

You also name each weekday with 星期 and an offset.

星期一 – Xing1 Qi1 Yi1 – Week(day) One — Monday

星期六 – Xing1 Qi1 Liu4 – Week(day) Six — Saturday (Jenny sometimes sings a cute song about “星期六”)

Sunday is a special case, 星期天 – Xing1 Qi1 Tian1. means Heaven, Day, Sky.

is also used in the names of lots of stars, planets, and other random stuff in the sky. Here’s the entire solar system:

太陽 – Tai4 Yang2 – Too Bright (this is the Yang of Yin and Yang) — Sun
水星 – Shui3 Xing1 – Water Planet — Mercury
金星 – Jin1 Xing1 – Gold Planet — Venus
地球 – Di4 Qiu2 – Ground Ball — Earth
月亮 – Yue4 Liang4 – Moon Bright — The Moon
火星 – Huo3 Xing1 – Fire Planet — Mars
木星 – Mu4 Xing1 – Wood Planet — Jupiter
土星 – Tu3 Xing1 – Earth (dirt) Planet — Saturn
天王星 – Tian1 Wang2 Xing1 – Heaven King Planet — Uranus
海王星 – Hai3 Wang2 Xing1 – Sea King Planet — Neptune
冥王星 – Ming2 Wang2 Xing1 – Hell King Planet — Pluto

For more words, try my dictionary.

Date: July 9th, 2003
Cate: Otherwhere
5 msgs

All Japan Disguise Grand Prix

This impossibly cool video appeared at Metafilter today. It is from a Japanese TV show called, as best as I can translate, (Joe, maybe you will see this and help?), All Japan Disguise Grand Prix. When we were in Japan, we saw that show on TV! It is the best show ever. Teams of people, I’m pretty sure they’re all amateurs, go on and perform various amazing skits and stunts that must have been painstakingly crafted and practiced for months. They mostly employ some sort of trick or gimmick or costume or optical illusion, it’s kind of hard to explain. Some are more artsy, some are very abstract, and some are just plain weird. Here’s the one that won the episode we saw. Does that give you a better idea of what it’s like?

There was another one we saw where they set up a bowling alley, with people as bowling pins. A guy bowled himself down the alley (he started as a regular person standing up, but as he went through the bowling motion he very smoothly pulled a black sheet over himself and rolled up in a ball and rolled down the alley) and struck the “pins”. They flew everywhere in a very natural motion. Then, they “paused” and “rewound” the action. The people acted out the pins flying back into place, and the guy rolled himself back up the alley, unfolding from a ball position, back to standing up. They did it again forwards and backwards a few times at different speeds, and with some freeze-frames, but always exactly the same. There were little flourishes like one of the pins flying away, and one last pin staying standing and another pin spinning on the ground to knock it over. All acted out by people in costumes.

As far as I can tell, Japanese TV is about 10,000 times better than ours. TV in Taiwan was mostly lame, except of course for PUPPET KUNG FU.

Date: July 8th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– Zhou4 – Universe, Eternity

The full way to say it is 宇宙 – Yu3 Zhou4 – Universe

Date: July 8th, 2003
Cate: Regular
2 msgs

Impending genetically manipulated fish doom roundup!

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Their weird glowing green color makes them look like they’ve been swimming in a nuclear plant’s spent fuel pond.

But the zebra fish on sale in Taipei shops have an even stranger background: They’re the latest in genetically modified fish, and their bodies contain DNA from jellyfish, which makes them shimmer in the dark.

Shopkeepers call them “Night Pearls.” Some have nicknamed them “Frankenfish.” Their makers at the Taipei-based Taikong Corp. use the less catchy name of “TK-1″ and say they are the world’s first genetically engineered fluorescent fish.

I’m glad to see Taiwan leading the way to the future. But I’m surprised the article is missing one important detail, especially considering the fish are available in Taiwan: How do they taste?

Date: July 8th, 2003
Cate: Regular

Impending robot doom roundup!


“Oh Steve,” you’re thinking, “this does not spell our impending robot-inflicted doom. It’s just a helpful robotic astronaut. So what if they made it look just like Boba Fett? What harm could it cause us? It doesn’t even have legs! It doesn’t have, for instance, an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, or the M240G Medium Machine Gun, or a 9 mm Uzi, or an Anti-Personnel/Obstacle Breaching System (APOBS)”


It looks like something out of Robocop, a mini tank-treaded terror bristling with so many cannon and guns that only a Hollywood screenwriter could have dreamed it up.

It’s designed to be RoboMarine technically the Gladiator Tactical Unmanned Ground Vehicle and proponents say it would have come in handy in trouble spots ranging from Somalia, Kosovo and Bosnia to Afghanistan and Iraq.

As unmanned aerial vehicles like the Predator continue to chalk up successes, with more than 10 UAVs utilized in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Marine Corps expects to be the first service to field a robot for crowd control.

The Gladiator is loaded with all sorts of gadgets and weaponry, including day and night cameras, a chemical detection system, Light Vehicle Obscuration Smoke System, and is mounted with either M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, the M240G Medium Machine Gun, 9 mm Uzi or an Anti-Personnel/Obstacle Breaching System (APOBS).