Archive for May, 2004

Date: May 30th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Wa1 – Frog

Have you not heard of the 井底之蛙 – Jing3 Di3 Zhi1 Wa1 – frog that lived in a shallow well?

(from The Writings of Chuang Tzu)

Date: May 30th, 2004
Cate: Regular
2 msgs

HYPNOTOAD

Date: May 30th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Wo4 – Fertile, Rich, Irrigate

安迪沃霍爾 – An1 Di2 Wo4 Huo4 Er3 – Andy Warhol

Date: May 29th, 2004
Cate: Regular
4 msgs

Tree

Date: May 29th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Pao2 – Gown

Weddings coming up. That means Jenny gets to do her favorite thing: shopping for dresses. Girls like shopping, right? Oh wait, I forgot. She hates it, hates it forever! I keep telling her to take the easy way out and pull her trusty 旗袍 – Qi2 Pao2 – Banner Gown — Qi Pao out of the closet, but she won’t have any of that.

Date: May 27th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Gou1 – Hook

The best kung fu weapon has to be the 鉤子 – Gou1 Zi5 – Hooks! I love the hooks! There’s a little bit of hook use in the fight scene linked from over here.

The only weapon that might possibly be better is the Iron Hand. “Prince, if you are able to overcome my Iron Hand, then you are ready for combat.”

Date: May 27th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
2 msgs

– Tu4 – Rabbit

This 兔子 – Tu4 Zi5 – Rabbit, which I have named “Rabbit Rabbit”, occasionally visits our back yard. Here he is peacefully eating some clovers:

I like Rabbit Rabbit, and look forward to his visits. And Jenny hates him! She’s planted some tomatoes and doesn’t want Rabbit Rabbit getting too comfortable eating what he can find in our yard. So right after that picture was taken, she went out and chased him away.

Poor Rabbit Rabbit.

Date: May 25th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Ji4 – Register, Record, Remember

According to this site, the world 記錄 – Ji4 Lu4 – Record for Minesweeper on Expert level is a mind-blowing 43 seconds! Take a look at the video, it’s pretty amazing. Jenny’s stuck at 99 seconds. I don’t think I could even finish an Expert board.

Date: May 25th, 2004
Cate: Geekism

WordPress Logging Hinters

I’ve been hacking on WordPress a bit to customize it for my needs, and I thought I’d share a few things I’ve “discovered”. These may be obvious to you, but they took me a while to figure out.

Logging

I’ve never figured out a good way to do logging from PHP. Sometimes you can get some insight into what’s going on by printing out some comments to the outgoing HTML that a view source will then reveal. But that doesn’t work in all cases: What if there’s something funny going on in the processing of a new post? There’s no place to print to! Actually, there is. Use STDERR!

$stderr = fopen('php://stderr', 'w');
fwrite($stderr,"Logging statement: value is $value\n");
fclose($stderr);

On my host, this works. There is a directory where the output from STDERR is captured. I can post a story, then look in the logfile and see what happened. It helped me debug this quite easily.

wpdb SAVEQUERIES

WordPress has the built in ability to log all the SQL queries executed while building your page, which I happened to notice while looking at the ‘wpdb’ class. Here’s how you can use it:

Step 1: Add define('SAVEQUERIES', true); to your wp-config.php. This will cause all queries run by the wpdb to be appended to an array that you can get at later.
Step 2: Print out the queries somehow. I’m printing them out in an HTML comment at the end of my main template, like this:

foreach ($wpdb->savedqueries as $q)
{
$q = trim(ereg_replace("[[:space:]]+", " ", $q));
echo "$q\n\n";
}

Now I (and you) can see exactly what queries are being executed, which may help answer some questions about what’s going on in the guts of WP.

Date: May 25th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Wen2 – Mosquito

Either I’m immune to 蚊子 – Wen2 Zi5 – Mosquito bites, or they don’t bite me. Jenny and I went to the same cookout and she’s scratching like crazy, but I’m not. Her explanation: “I just have sweeter blood”.

Date: May 23rd, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Men4 – Depressed

The character itself is depressing: Heart (心) behind doors (門).

Date: May 22nd, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Wan3 – Bowl, Cup

Because 我好討厭洗碗, like I’ve said before, we finally are getting a 洗碗機 – Xi3 Wan3 Ji1 – Wash Bowl Machine — Dishwasher.

Date: May 22nd, 2004
Cate: Meta
8 msgs

WordPress!

I’ve upgraded to WordPress! Expect breakage, and assume it’s all my fault! Migrating two years of b2 hacks isn’t that easy. Well, the migrating is easy, thanks to the new plugin system, it’s just that remembering where all the hacks are is a bit difficult.

Just now I’ve thrown the big switch to put WP into production, and I think all the major stuff is working. I’ve got a kung fu movie to watch, then I’ll come back and fix the rest.

Date: May 22nd, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Shan4 – Good, Friendly

In The Legend of the Sacred Stone, the evil ghostly demon bad guys are called, if you translate literallly, 非善類 – Fei1 Shan4 Lei4 – Not Good Kind. When we first saw the movie I thought it was so cool that the bad guys were called “The Not Good Kind” that I repeated it over and over to Jenny and it became one of our catch phrases. DSL isn’t working? Not good kind! Your sisters are having a fight? Not good kind! Sorry, I have to stay late at work tonight. Hey! Not good kind!

About The Not Good Kind in English and Chinese.

From the Taiwanese version of the movie, I learned that “The Not Good Kind” are “Not To Be Messed With”. The movie opens with one set of puppets who are reallly good at kung fu teaming up to beat this one other puppet who is really really really good at kung fu. Then the “Not Good Kind” show up and completely tear ALL the puppets apart, with puppet blood shooting everywhere (yes, puppets bleed). They speak in these altered, raspy, scary voices and can burrow underground and fly and assume human form and are generally really menacing. When they show up, puppets die. Even the strange name “Not Good Kind” sort of added to their evil mystique.

Not Good Kind Wallpaper!

Today we finally watched the subtitled version of the movie that I picked up recently, and guess what: “The Not Good Kind” are actually the COMIC RELIEF! As scary as they are during the fight scenes, all their lines, spoken in those scary demonic voices, are jokes and puns and other gags. They are actually clumsy and stupid. Everything else in the movie is dead serious except for The Not Good Kind. And they aren’t even The Not Good Kind: the subtitles call them the much less menacing “THE UNFRIENDLY”.

This changes EVERYTHING! Not good kind!

Date: May 20th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Wu2 – Without, Not

Welcome to FINGER DAY!

拇指 – Mu3 Zhi3 – Thumb
食指 – Shi2 Zhi3 – Food Finger — Index Finger
中指 – Zhong1 Zhi3 – Middle Finger
無名指 – Wu2 Ming2 Zhi3 – Without Name Finger — Ring Finger
小指 – Xiao3 Zhi3 — Little Finger — Pinky

That’s right, “ring finger” is “FINGER WITH NO NAME”. How cool is that?

Date: May 19th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Shao1 – Burn, Bake, Roast

發燒 – Fa1 Shao1 – Give Out Burn — Have a Fever

I suddenly got sick. I think I have a fever. 討厭!

Date: May 18th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– Shuo4 – Large

I am now a 碩士 – Shuo4 Shi4 – Large Scholar — Master!

Dear Mr. Minutillo:

This is to certify that you have successfully fulfilled requirements for the Master of Science degree in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on May 15, 2004.

Date: May 17th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Shuai4 – Commander, Handsome

A Chinese American Princess apparently thinks that my word of the day department is ! Check her linkblog, on the left hand side. She also likes lomo photos and food.

Date: May 16th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Zhi3 – Finger, Point

They aren’t fingernails, they’re 指甲 – Zhi3 Jia5 – Finger Armor!

Date: May 16th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Jing1 – Startle, Alarm, Frighten

驚喜 – Jing1 Xi3 – Frighten Enjoy — Pleasant Surprise

Super awesome day today! Jenny, Walde and I went to New York with a special guest star: Joe of Joe vs. Japan fame! His site, sadly, has been taken over by domain sqatters. But in meatspace he still exists, and plans to go back to Japan as soon as he can to continue studying whatever obscure sub-sub-type of Japanese Buddhist sculpture he studies.

First: Ninth Avenue International Food Festival! It wasn’t quite as good as we’d hoped, it was mostly just a regular old New York street fair with gyros, funnel bread, kabobs, expensive lemonade, cheap irregular clothes, gimmicky informercial type items, and socks. There were a few more “real” restaurants that set up stands than the usual street fair, but not really enough for it to be worth trudging down all 20 blocks.

Second: GODZILLA! The original from 1954! Never before seen in the US! Remastered and retranslated! A pretty serious and dark movie, not like some of the later silly Godzilla movies. And seeing the first one is a perfect preparation for GODZILLA: FINAL WARS, the last Godzilla movie, which will come out at the end of this year.

Third: Sobaya! I got the “Zaru Soba”, just like in Japan. Plenty of Irasshaimases and Arigato gozaimashitas there, which along with the food brought back nice memories of our trip.

AND THEN, 驚喜 BONUS ITEM: At Kim’s Video, while Walde and Joe were looking through the obscure Japanese movies, I had a sudden thought: “This, of all places, seems to be where I’d have the highest chance of finding a subtitled version of Legend of the Sacred Stone“. Immediately Joe said “You mean this?” and pulled it right off the shelf. Subtitled! With the original Taiwanese language track! AMAZING! I’ve been searching the Internet for a subtitled version of this for the past 3 years, and could never find one. Now I’ll finally know what those puppets are fighting over.

Date: May 15th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– He4 – Brown

Jenny’s always taught me that brown is 咖啡色 – Ka1 Fei1 Se4 – Coffee Color, which has caused me to wonder for all these years: what did they call it before they knew about coffee? Mystery solved! I found these two other words for brown:

褐色 – He4 Se4 – Brown

棕色 – Zong1 Se4 – Brown

Date: May 14th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Ju4 – Assemble, Gathering

聚會 – Ju4 Hui4 – Assemble Meeting — Gathering

According to Jenny, you can’t say party? Is she sure? 聚會, which is a gathering or a get-together is the closest you can get. There’s also 晚會 – Wan3 Hui4 – Evening Meeting, but I guess that sounds too formal, according to her. Then there’s 聯歡會 – Lian2 Huan1 Hui4 – Connect Joyful Meeting which is an expression she’s never heard, so who knows what the connotation is. You can also say it phonetically as Pai4 Dui4 but that would be cheating.

UPDATE: I no longer consider 派對 – Pai4 Dui4 – Party cheating, after I found this site: Partyman & Sunshiny’s Sweet Party!

Date: May 13th, 2004
Cate: Regular
9 msgs

THE SIMPSONS ARE GOING TO SAN FRANCISCO!

OK, the bookings are all set: Jenny and I will be staying at a purple hotel in San Francisco from June 27th to July 2nd. I’ll be at some dorky conference, while Jenny will be having fun. I won’t have much free time, just half a day when we get there Sunday, and then each night. Any suggestions? What makes the “DON’T MISS” list?

Date: May 13th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Lou2 – Building, Floor

紅樓夢 – Hong2 Lou2 Meng4 – Red Floor Dream — Dream of the Red Chamber

Tonight: Dream of the Red Chamber: THE MOTION PICTURE. Walde and Jenny both liked it, I thought it was a little boring. The movie version cut out all the supernatural stuff and was basically a Romeo and Juliet type story, with one difference: these star crossed lovers needed no poison or daggers to die! The sheer force of will was enough in one case, and in the other, a simple walk straight up to heaven worked nicely.

Date: May 12th, 2004
Cate: Geekism
4 msgs

Cyan logo! Free!

Today’s word of the day is Geek, because I have had this story of geekism on my mind. Where I work, we are geeks, mostly. One of the geeky things we do is come up with “code names” for each project we work on. There’s actually a good reason for this: marketing will change the actual name of the product 10 times while you develop and test it, and then after you pass the point where the name can not possibly be changed, 10 more times. Then in the next version they’ll rename it more. To escape this cycle of pain, we use code names, which need never change. The product name is set at manufacturing time by some configuration file, but all the internal documentation and source code refers to the code name.

The second level of geekism here is that we name all our projects after colors. (everybody needs a theme, for instance Intel uses rivers and towns in the Pacific Northwest) Previous projects have been Gunmetal, Daffodil and Magenta. Current projects include Quicksilver and Cyan. Coming up soon will be Canary. Some purists out there are now thinking “WELL SOME OF THOSE ARE HARDLY COLORS.” …You need to learn to think outside the box.

The THIRD level of geekism is that we create silly logos for each codename that we use on internal documentation and sometimes tchotchkes. For the project I’m working on, Cyan, the details of which are unimportant, but I can assure you are incredibly boring, I created the perfect logo. I sent it out in an email. I got lots of responses. They all hated it! Not enough “Zing”, one email actually dared to say. People began to do Google image searches and send back alternatives nicked from the web “How about this one?” “OOooooo I like that one!” “Hey, this one has a funky font!” “Look at this funny album cover I found.” And so on, and so on.

We ended up using one of those other logos, leaving mine consigned to the dustbin of history (along with 22,700 other things, according to Google). But because of pride in my fine logo-geneering skills, stubbornness, or maybe plain stupidity, I decided: This will not stand. I’m not going to let my fine logo go to waste just because the people I work with (to a man: even the art designer guy) can’t appreciate it. So I’m working the other end of the lazy-web: Post the lazy-web response now, and when the lazy-web request comes in, the answer will be waiting here.

So here it is. Need a logo for your project/product/company/clothing line/floor wax/dessert topping? Is it called Cyan? USE THIS ONE! IT’S FREE! (note: logo makes more sense if your previous project/product/company/clothing line/floor wax/dessert topping was called Magenta)

Disappointed? Now you know how the people I work with feel. Every day.

Date: May 12th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Sha3 – Stupid, Foolish

傻瓜 – Sha3 Gua1 – Stupid Melon — Foolish, Silly

傻瓜 is also why Sagwa the Cat is called that. It’s a cute way to call somebody silly or stupid.

傻子 – Sha3 Zi5 – Idiot, Fool, and according to this page and others, Geek

Date: May 11th, 2004
Cate: Video Games

DONKEY KONGA!

Remember this? Nintendo announced that it’s coming out in the US this year! Set your count down clocks for September 27th…

Date: May 11th, 2004
Cate: Video Games
1 msg

Nintendo DS

So there it is! USA Today has the story. Two screens, one touch sensitive, but you need a stylus? Backwards compatible with all GB games, and has built in Bluetooth for networked play (no more stupid wires).

And for the purposes of comparison, here’s Donkey Kong Game & Watch, a single-game Nintendo system from the early 80’s:

Date: May 11th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
2 msgs

– Jiu4 – Old

舊金山 – Jiu4 Jin1 Shan1 – Old Gold Mountain — San Francisco

I don’t know why San Francisco is called “Old Gold Mountain”. And I don’t know if there’s a “Gold Mountain” or “New Gold Mountain”, either. I do know that San Francisco is where JavaOne is going to be, and I know that I’ll be there.

A saying: 喜新厭舊 – Xi3 Xin1 Yan4 Jiu4 – Like New, Hate Old. This is something you say about people when they’re interested in some new friend and bored with the old.

Date: May 10th, 2004
Cate: Geekism

Official Google Blog

First post: pretty good, human voice, posted by an actual person

Second post: not so much (although the possibility of working for Google in Japan is, as they say, wicked cool)

Date: May 10th, 2004
Cate: Regular
2 msgs

State IQ numbers: Real or hoax?

Certain sites have characterized the below table as a “hoax”. I am curious whether or not the numbers are “real” for some definition of that word. I found this copy of the exact same table, posted on Usenet by Robert Calvert in 2002:

Average IQ by State

From the groups he posted it to (rec.org.mensa, sci.anthropology, alt.politics.british, alt.fan.rush-limbaugh) it’s quite possible that it was a troll, just trying to stir up controversy. Somebody else has contacted him in the past few days, but he still hasn’t said where he got the data from. He did hint that “If you’re exceptionally intelligent, I guarantee you that the
source for my data will absolutely blow you away. :-)”.

Right now my fake-or-real-ometer is starting to swing over to the “fake” direction.

Date: May 10th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Chou2 – Plan, Tally, Chip

The best laid plans of mice and men… are usually about equal.

Date: May 9th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
2 msgs

– Bi4 – Avoid, Evade

避免 – Bi4 Mian3 – Avoid

One of the movie theaters around here was randomly playing this Indian movie, Main Hoon Na (which means I’m Here Now, if the subtitles were in sync with the songs), so we went to see it. It was a good old fashioned three hour long action/romance/musical/comedy/drama movie. So far I’ve seen just two Indian movies: Lagaan and this one, and they’re both exhausting, but really good. So why is the word of the day “avoid”? One of the characters used “Avoid!” as a catch phrase… sort of shorthand for a similar concept to “don’t go there”.

(unrelated: how to know you are coming home way too late: the next day’s newspaper has already arrived.)

Date: May 8th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Shi4 – Serve, Attendant

In Japanese, this one means samurai.

The Last Samurai wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be, although it was still pretty cliche and predictable. But who cares what I think? What would a samurai think about the movie and its depiction of the Meiji Restoration?

Date: May 6th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Tian2 – Field

Get it? An irrigated field. And it seems fitting that due to some cosmic coincidence this character is at decimal code point 30000.

Date: May 6th, 2004
Cate: Regular
14 msgs

Voting for Bush and Extreme Stupidity: Highly Correlated!

In the latest entry in my ongoing “things that are correlated with extreme stupidity” department, I give you this data, compiled by The American Assembler: A simple list of states, sorted by their average IQ, and colored by who they voted for in 2000.

(via MeFi)

Date: May 6th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Zhi4 – Record

日誌 – Ri4 Zhi4 – Day Record — Journal

Today I read some of the “morning journal” that Sharena keeps at school. There was a striking similarity to my “word of the day” section! If you looked at them both and matched up the dates, you’d see that we’re thinking the same thing many days, about playgrounds and gerbils and dinosaurs and hiking and museums and video games and visits to various aunts and uncles and cousins.

And, just like me, it’s clear that sometimes nothing’s going on and she can’t think of anything to write. She solves that problem by just writing about how great her teacher is. On those days she always gets a “10″.

Date: May 4th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Shi4 – City, Market

For some reason I started playing SimCity again. I have a city of about 1.3 million people, a highway, a reasonable subway system, every improvement they’ve asked for, low crime, high aura… but it’s not growing. I think the problem is that all the polluting industries have moved out, but the high-tech ones are not moving in. I see a few research labs and software studios, but lots more abandoned buildings (which I bulldoze, but they come back). My population’s education quotient is in the 140’s and I think I’ve set all the ordinances right, but still nothing.

Date: May 4th, 2004
Cate: Geekism

Year of the Tiger

June 28th 2004: Steve Jobs introduces Mac OS X 10.4, known as “Tiger”.

ALSO ON JUNE 28th: Sun introduces Java 1.5, also known as “Tiger”.

Date: May 4th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
2 msgs

– Jian4 – Warship

艦長 – Jian4 Zhang3 – Warship Chief — Captain

Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise