Archive for September, 2004

Date: September 30th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– Wu3 – Five

Today Java came out. All the insanity of Sun’s version number scheme is captured in that one URL: is it Java 5? Or is it Java 2? Or is it Java 1.5.0? It’s all three!

My dictionary also has this character: – Xi3 – Increase Five Fold. I immediately searched for simliar characters meaning 4X and 3X, but didn’t find any. Strange?

Date: September 29th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
2 msgs

– Wu1 – Sound Of Crying or Sobbing

Exactly one year ago, somebody named Brookmeow left a comment on a word of the day (the comment says “strange, but interesting”). Today, this same person left another strange comment. At first I thought 喵咪嗚 – Miao1 Mi1 Wu1 might be the sound of a cat purring, but Jenny and Susan both think it’s the sound of a cat crying!

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

– Shuai1 – Throw Down, Fall

摔角 – Shuai1 Jiao3 – Wrestling

Tonight’s movie, The Foul King, was just like Office Space. It starts out with a guy who always shows up late to work for a bank, and who faces a bad performance review. But instead of making him come in on weekends, the guy’s boss (who looks exactly like Lumberg) puts him in headlocks all the time.

And then instead of getting hypnotized into not taking his job seriously any more, the guy takes pro wrestling lessons, so he can get out of those headlocks. He is taught by the old great wrestler and master of dirty tricks ULTRA TIGER MASK, and becomes the ultimate cheating wrestler.

And from there it is really nothing like Office Space or any other movie I or anybody else has ever seen.

Date: September 26th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Dang3 – Party (political)

民主黨 – Min2 Zhu3 Dang3 – People Own Party — Democratic Party

共和黨 – Gong4 He2 Dang3 – Collective Harmony Party — Repulican Party

Sharena asked me who I’m going to vote for, John Kerry or George W. Bush. I said John Kerry. She made a surprised, disgusted noise and said that at school, she voted for George W. Bush, along with the majority of her classmates. I got back at her by telling her that the election isn’t until November 2nd and I don’t think her vote counted.

Then she asked me who I’m going to vote for for mayor, and named the two candidates in her town. I explained to her that since we live in different towns, we have different mayors, so I don’t get to vote for the same people she does. She immediately asked who is running in my town. I was forced to admit that I didn’t know.

Later she asked me what it’s called when a pig does karate. I didn’t know that either. Answer: pork chop.

Date: September 26th, 2004
Cate: Geekism
2 msgs

Neal Gafter has a blog

Neal Gafter has a blog! Created as a response to Bruce Eckel? Or to me?

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

– Gu4 – Look After, Attend To

奶奶 – Nai3 Nai5 – Grandmother thinks that we should have just two kids so they can 照顧 – Zhao4 Gu4 – Look After us when we get old. She had eight and it was no problem, so just two should be fine. She tells this to Jenny or I almost every time she sees us. In fact, this is one of the few things that is so important that she tries to cross the language barrier to tell me directly.

As the saying goes, 養兒防老 – Yang3 Er2 Fang2 Lao3 – Raise Children Prevent Old.

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

– Ju2 – Chrysanthemum

菊花 – Ju2 Hua1 – Chrysanthemum

The 43rd Annual Chrysanthemum Festival! Sadly, we’ve already missed the crowning of Miss Mum 2004, but I’m sure there will be plenty of other activities with tenuous relationships to Chrysanthemums tomorrow.

Date: September 25th, 2004
Cate: Meta
4 msgs

Impossible-grade service

Rememeber my iBook災難? Here’s a timeline of what happened with that:

Friday: Problem occurred.

Saturday: Called Apple. Described problem. Hesitantly suggested that it might be the iBook logic board issue. They instantly agreed! They didn’t even ask me to try to reinstall Windows or anything. They said they’d ship me a box, which I’d use to return the computer, then they’d fix it in about 14 days and ship it back, unless they have to wait for parts. Entire call took about 10 minutes.

Monday: Box shipped, just like he said.

Tuesday: Box arrived! Put computer in box. Called shipping company. Left computer in box in door.

Wednesday: Shipper picked up box.

Thursday: Computer arrived at Apple. Problem replicated. Entered repair. Completed repair. Entered testing. Completed testing! Repair complete! Computer shipped back to me? Is that right?

Friday: Indeed, computer arrived back home, was found to be in good working order, and as a bonus, they even replaced the case, which had a small crack!

Total cost to me: $FREE.

Date: September 24th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Jie2 – Triumph, Quick

Karen (the one who just got married) made us all a spicy 捷克 – Jie2 Ke4 – Czech goulash. It was GEEEEEEEEEEE (which means “good”).

Date: September 23rd, 2004
Cate: Regular
1 msg

Aaron at Stanford

Aaron Swartz is at Stanford now, and is posting his experiences day by day (and by night). They include gems like this:

Slightly tired of trying to meet new people like I’m told, I decide to sit alone at one table, in front of another empty table. I convince myself that I am not being anti-social but trying to attract the type of geniuses who are borderline autistic. The gambit doesn’t work, everyone walks past me to sit at the empty table. Maybe no one at Stanford is borderline autistic.

And this:

Yet, out of my desire to serve you, I decided to try to further investigate by attending a gathering known as a “party”.


Inside the party, the clear focus was on the dancing. Teenagers moving their bodies in bizarre and vaguely rhythmic positions in close proximity to one another. I’d seen the practice frequently enough on TV, so on one level I knew what to expect, but on another it was wholly bizarre. It was like watching brownian motion or a complex screensaver, it’s completely meaningless and random but it’s also complicated enough that you don’t look away.

By the way, somebody in the area should totally go over there and help him out with his filing cabinet.

I take the morning off to go shopping. I buy a filing cabinet and get it as far as the door to the dorm before I realize I have no way of getting it up the stairs to my room. I know I should ask someone to help, but my disorder, which I have recently diagnosed as a surfeit of empathy, prevents me from imposing. The file cabinet now sits quietly outside. Apparently no one can figure out how to steal it yet.

I actually would be surprised if somebody hasn’t shown up already.

Date: September 23rd, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
5 msgs

– Fu4 – Tutor

I finally took James’s advice and watched My Tutor Friend. The review I linked to there said it’s about 20 minutes too long. I disagree! It was about 110 minutes too long. Completely lame. Couldn’t wait for it to be over. Even worse than Windstruck.

We even stopped it in the middle to try CSI: Lt. Dan (also lame, but hey, it’s got Lt. Dan (didja know Lt. Dan has his own band? and it’s called Lt. Dan Band? neither did I!). But I forced Jenny to go back to the movie later, much to both of our regrets.

Date: September 21st, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Liu2 – Kill, (a surname)

Today we watched 劉家良 – Liu2 Gu1 Liang2 – Lau Kar-Leung’s first movie, 神打 – Shen2 Da3 – Spirit Strike — Spiritual Boxer. It starts with Chen Kuan Tai and Ti Lung performing some crazy kung fu demonstration for the Empress. Chen Kuan Tai and Ti Lung are awesome right? So this movie should be great too, right? Wrong. They’re never seen again!

I should mention that is also John Liu’s surname.

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

– Bei4 – Times, Multiple, Double

I found a page I liked the other day about how fast things grow when doublings are involved, which used the famous example of the Emperor and the chess board, as well as example I haven’t heard of, involving noodles. I can’t seem to find any Chinese-language references for either of these stories though.

Date: September 20th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– Zang4- Tibet, Storehouse

西藏 – Xi1 Zang4 – Tibet

We tried a Tibetan restaurant today, Little Tibet in Middletown. The food was only fine, nothing very memorable. In fact, the most memorable thing was the very uncomfortable chairs.

As for Tibet itself, it’s another one of those troublesome parts of China, like Taiwan. Luckily for us, the Chinese government has provided plenty of information setting the record straight.

Date: September 18th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
5 msgs

– Fu2 – Obey, Serve, Take Medicine, Clothing

客戶服務 – Ke4 Hu4 Fu2 Wu4 – Customer Service

I called Apple, and they agree that my iBook 災難 is probably a result of the infamous 邏輯板 problem. So they’re shipping me a box, which I will put the iBook into, then the shipper will come back and pick up the box and send it back to Apple. From there it should take about 14 days to fix, and then they’ll ship it back to me. All three shippingses are overnight so the iBook should be back in time for the trip! And since this is some sort of known design flaw, it’s all free.

I made a backup of all my data using this highly sophisticated method:

step 1) plug in iPod
step 2) drag home directory to iPod
step 3) there is no step 3

There’s NEVER a step 3 with Apple stuff.

Date: September 18th, 2004
Cate: Geekism
1 msg


From the latest NTK:

VIEWGLOB is a little GTK+ window that sits near your xterm, and listens to you tapping away on bash or zsh. When you “cd” to a new directory, it shows you the content listing of that directory. [...] As the author Stephen Bach says, “no longer will you compulsively ls after every cd”.

I made the exact same thing, for the exact same reason (the “ls compulsion”) back in 1997 at Pratt & Whitney. Mine was super low-tech: the auto-ls window was just a cmdtool that started up, wrote its PID to a file, and then went into an infinite loop waiting for a signal. Then I used an alias to override my cd command to do the cd, write the path of the new current dir to a file, read the PID file, and use that to send a signal to the auto-ls window. The auto-ls window would wake up, read the path, execute ls, and then wait again. Sure, this new-fangled VIEWGLOB has more features, but my solution was written in about one one thousandth of the number of lines of code of VIEWGLOB’s Makefile.

I also hacked my .XDefaults files and whatever those other files were called so that my windows didn’t have any borders or widgets around the edges. You could only move, resize, or close them if you knew the obscure key combinations. Yeah… I was just EVER SO COOL back then.

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

– Luo2 – Patrol

邏輯 – Luo2 Ji5 – Logic

邏輯板 – Luo2 Ji5 Ban3 – Logic Board (found here, as well as some other technical terms)

Yesterday’s disaster might not be as bad as I thought: apparently iBooks have this well known logic board failure, which sounds exactly like what I have. If so, it appears that Apple will be willing to fix it for free! Including shipping costs! I’ll try my luck at the Apple Store tomorrow….

Date: September 17th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
4 msgs

– Nan4 – Disaster

Another 災難 – Zai1 Nan4 – Disaster!! My iBook is BROKEN! I was using it and the screen suddenly went all funny, lines and random noise instead of my desktop. It came and went a few times as my panic increased, and then it stuck that way. I had to force it to shut down. Then it wouldn’t boot up again! NOOOOOO! Grasping at straws, I did the PRAM zorch thing. Then it finally booted back up. Thinking problem solved, I picked it up off the desk to go back to the couch to write word of the day (which was going to be about the movie we saw at the Film Fest, Conduct Zero (which was good!)) and the display went all funny again! I put it back down and it came back. Some experimentation revealed that just squeezing the case a slight bit at a certain point makes it happen, and after a while it becomes permanent. Not good!

I suppose the thing to do is manage to get it to boot up, and then don’t touch it while making a backup somehow (doesn’t seem like burning CDs will work… maybe back up to Jenny’s iPod?) of all my important stuff. Then send it off to Apple. But I especially need the computer right now, for our trip to China, which is less than a month away!


Date: September 16th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– Zhou1 – Circuit, All Around, Help, A Surname, Week

There are three ways to say “Week” in Chinese:

星期 – Xing1 Qi1 – Star Cycle — Week
禮拜 – Li3 Bai4 – Ceremony Pray — Week
– Zhou1 – Week

You can find out why this is, why it’s controversial, and the answers to every other question you could possibly think of related to the naming of days and weeks (backed up by reams of links and references) at the amazing Days of the Week in Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese.


Date: September 15th, 2004
Cate: Geekism

FoF used to automate Waxy-worship [via] links metaaggregator (aggregates all the [via] links from here) by 90% Crud.

(recursive via)

Date: September 15th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– Tiao4 – Jump, Beat, Pulse, Skip Over

Having finally finished Vice City, now I’m ing my way through Mario Sunshine (Mario Sunshine cosplayers). It’s hard! And somewhat frustrating. But I can’t let Linda be better at Mario than me, so I must carry on.

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

– Zai3 – Young Animal

牛仔 – Niu2 Zai3 – Cowboy

Tonight’s movie: Tears of the Black Tiger, a Thai Western. Very cool! Just like a “real” western, except the cactuses are replaced by palm trees, buffalo by water buffalo, and dusty old train stations by ornate pagodas. And sometimes the cowboys go to buddhist temples. But they still have boots, and cowboy hats. And machine guns… oh, and sometimes, rocket launchers. The whole movie was done with a really stylized, almost comic book approach. And it was very, very, pink.

But the litanty of “impossible” movies doesn’t stop there. Thai Western not impossible enough? How bout an Italian movie about Chinese Pirates…. Chinese WOMAN Pirates! It’s called Cantado Dietro i Paraventi (Dancing Behind the Screen?). I haven’t seen it, but how can it not be good?

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

– Luo2 – Radish

蘿蔔 – Luo2 Bo2 – Radish-ish things

糖蘿蔔 – Tang2 Luo2 Bo2 – Sugar Radish — Beet

青蘿蔔 – Qing1 Luo2 Bo2 – Blue-Green Radish — Turnip

白蘿蔔 – Bai2 Luo2 Bo2 – White Radish — Daikon Radish

歐洲蘿蔔 – Ou1 Zhou1 Luo2 Bo2 – Europe Contienent Radish — Parsnip

紅蘿蔔 – Hong2 Luo2 Bo2 – Red Radish — Carrot (why? they aren’t red, and they aren’t radishes! carrots and radishes aren’t even in the same family!)

And astoundingly, 小胡蘿蔔 – Xiao3 Hong2 Luo2 Bo2 – Little Red Radish — Radish

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

– Chuan2 – Pass, Transmit

Tonight: Widescreen, subtitled version of 少林傳人 – Shao3 Lin2 Chuan2 Ren2 – Shaolin Legacy (or Shaolin Heir?) AKA Iron Fingers of Death AKA Shaolin Prince AoccasionalyKA Death Mask of the Ninja. The video was really well restored, and being widescreen I got to see special way-over-to-the-side content I’ve been missing from the TV version. Also, the subtitles made a bit more sense in several parts than the dubbed version ever did. The “three dumb monks” actually have names that mean “Doesn’t Understand” “Doesn’t Know” and “Doesn’t Care”, and many of the lines of dialog make a lot more sense knowing this.

Another intersting fact is what was called the “18 Buddha Attack” in the dubbed version is actually called the “18 Lohan Matrix” which possibly is now even cooler (I like matrices).

Date: September 11th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Lan2 – Orchid

Tonight’s movie: Knife in the Water, Roman Polanski’s first movie, made in 波蘭 – Bo1 Lan2 – Poland in 1962. I thought it was pretty good, Jenny didn’t.

Somhow I think Walde would like this movie.

Date: September 9th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
6 msgs

– Wang3 – Net, Web

網球 – Wang3 Qiu2 – Net Ball — Tennis

We’re watching Roddick vs. J. Johansson at the US Open. Great match! Somehow Jenny got me into watching tennis now.

There have been a few controversial calls during the open so far. They will be changing the rules in the future, to allow players to challenge calls and allow the chair umpire access to instant replays. How do I know? Jenny wrote in and told them to.

Date: September 8th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
3 msgs

– Zhua1 – Scratch, Grasp, Sieze

– Shou3 – Hand + – Zhua3 – Claw =

We’re at Susan’s (Su-香 (Su-xiang1)? Su-髒 (Su-zang1)? Su-咸 (Su-xian2)?) place, and Jenny is afraid that Susan’s super-gentle cats (Scooter and Mo, above, Scooter’s the big fluffy one) are going to…. 抓他 – Zhua3 Ta1 – Scratch Her!

Date: September 7th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Tuan2 – Circular, Round, Unite, Group

Outpost 團聚 – Tuan2 Ju4 – Unite Gather — Reunion! Caught up on who’s doing what, where, and with whom. Almost all Outposters have moved on to MLB, WW, GE, or ING.

Date: September 6th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
2 msgs

– Ka3 – Check, Stop, Block, Card

I’m 卡住了 – Ka3 Zhu4 Le5 – Block Stopped — Stuck in GTA3:VC! I’ve bought all the properties I can find, and finished every available mission. Nothing happens. What am I missing? I’ve even gone over the map that came with the game, and made sure I’ve been to every named location. The last thing I did was take the gun dealer guy to the hospital after he blew himself up making boomshine.

You also use to say 卡通 – Ka3 Tong1 – Cartoon, which is important to know.

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

– Xuan1 – Declare, Announce

Which is cooler music for a newlywed couple to be 宣布 – Xuan1 Bu4 – Announced with? Samba Mario Medley, or Battle Without Honor or Humanity?

Date: September 5th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
2 msgs

– Qian1 – Signature

The People’s Republic of China has granted Jenny and I both 簽證 – Qian1 Zheng4 – Sign Certificate — Visas to enter the country, even though our passports already contain visas for the upstart, splittist, renegade, self-styled “country” known to some as the Republic of China, but more properly called simply Taiwan Province.

Date: September 3rd, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Shen3 – Aunt (wife of father’s younger brother)

胖叔 and 嬸嬸 – Shen3 Shen5 – Aunt are here visiting, with their daughter Brenda. We played some badminton and had an absolutely perfect summer meal of grilled chicken, potato salad, beans, and dangerously sweet corn on the cob. I also found out from 胖叔’s friend that this house is an absolute Feng Shui disaster, and we’ve only exacerbated things by removing the swimming pool and planting those trees.

Date: September 3rd, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Zuo4 – Do, Make, Regard As

作弊 – Zuo4 Bi4 – Make Fraud — Cheat

I’m still playing GTA3:VC, and have found a really cool way to cheat. Just do every mission with the helicopter, and you’re practically unstoppable! Need to steal a briefcase at the airport, and then escape down the airport road, while being chased by cops and cars with guys with machine guns? Just use the helicopter! Get the case, quickly take care of all the cops in the immediate area with the flamethrower, and fly to freedom. Need to sneak into a building to get access to a balcony so you can take pictures of Senator Shrub with a porn star? But are you worried about escaping with that 5-star wanted level you’re going to get, and the million P.I.G. agents that will be rushing up the stairs? Just land on the roof with the helicopter! Get the shots easily, and then fly home unmolested. And my finest achievement: need to jump from rooftop to rooftop on a motorcycle for some stupid reason? Just grab a chopper, and briefly touch down at each of the goal points. Piece of cake!

Date: September 2nd, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Dao1 – Knife

新獨臂刀 – Xin1 Du2 Bi4 Dao1 – New One Arm Sword – The New One Armed Swordsman – not as good as the original two. But that’s not all for single-armed swordplay action: there’s apparently a One Armed SwordsMEN where the original One-Armed Swordsman has to team up with the “New” one. And then there’s Zatoichi Meets The One Armed Swordsman, where the one-armed Chinese king of swordsmanship meets his blind, Japanese counterpart.