Archive for November, 2004

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

– Ba3 – Hold, Grasp

把戲 – Ba3 Xi4 – Hold Trick — Juggle

Recognize that? It’s Eric Graham’s world famous Juggler demo, for the Amiga. (Only Amiga Makes It Possible™) A reasonable animated GIF of this was one of those things that HAD TO exist, but didn’t, so I created it. Actually it was easy starting from Ernie Wright’s AVI version. Unfortunately converting to a GIF limits it to a paltry 256 colors, falling far short of the orignal’s 4,096 color Hold-And-Modify glory.

My conscience forces me to mention that also plays an important role in Chinese grammar, but I’m not going to explain it to you. Instead I’m going to blast you with this 28 page PDF that contains passages like these:

In Mandarin Chinese, there is a construction sometimes referred to as simply the ba construction. It is one of the most famous constructions in the grammar of Chinese and has attracted the attention of almost every linguist interested in the grammar of Chinese. However, it has also consistently eluded a satisfactory analysis. [...] It would be impossible, within the limits of this work, to do justice to the complexity of this construction and the rich, endless literature on this topic if we aim for a comprehensive presentation of the properties, problems and past analyses and a detailed and extensive review of the published works. In order to at least provide an understanding of the complexities, we will, therefore, …

Have fun.

Date: November 29th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– Leng4 – Stupefied, Dumbstruck, Blank Stare

This word is my reaction to the question: “So what’s the word of the day?”

Date: November 28th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– Shu4 – Lenient, Benevolent, Reciprocity

Is there a single word which can serve as a rule of practice for your whole life? According to Confucius, yes! And that word is , which serves as shorthand for the Golden Rule: What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.

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

– Ni2 – Nun

尼姑 – Ni2 Gu1 – Nun is the name of what Jenny’s mom ended up with in the last game of 麻將 – Ma2 Jiang1 — Mahjong tonight. She had eight pairs and one triplet. Apparently it’s like a royal straight flush or something. The rules I can find online call this a 八對半 Ba1 Dui4 Ban4 – Eight Pair Half — Eight and a half pairs.

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

– Tuo2 – Camel

駱駝 – Luo4 Tuo5 – Camel

This is another of those ones where (I thought) to say camel you have to say these two words together and they don’t mean anything seperately. But jeph says they do! Apparently means “white horse with black mane”. I wonder how many of the other words that I think don’t mean anything, except when used with one other word, actually mean something on their own.

Also 駝背 – Two2 Bei4 – Camel Back means Hunchback.

Date: November 25th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
4 msgs

– Luo4 – Camel

My Dad recieved a Chinese “chop” as a gift a long time ago, which supposedly had “Minutillo” phonetically translated into Chinese. The words chosen were also supposed to represent his personality. I pulled it out today, and found the ink that came with it (still wet! magic Chinese ink!) and made a stamp, to take home and translate. Here is what it says:

明德駱 – Ming2 De2 Luo4 – Bright Virtuous Camel

Date: November 24th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
2 msgs

– Ban1 – Kind, Sort

十八般武藝 – Shi2 Ba1 Ban1 Wu3 Yi4 – Eighteen Kind Martial Art — 18 Legendary Weapons of China

I just can’t believe that there isn’t a site that lists the 18 legendary weapons used in this movie! How can this be! First no Katamari Damacy lyrics, and now this. Luckily, the names of each of the weapons flashes up on the screen as they are used…

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

– Xiang1 – Fragrant, Incense

香煙 – Xiang1 Yan1 – Fragrant Smoke – Cigarette

Tonight’s movie: Coffee and Cigarettes, which Jenny and I have unanimously pronounced “MILDLY ENTERTAINING”.

Date: November 22nd, 2004
Cate: Geekism
1 msg

FoF related program activities

MagpieRSS 0.7 has been released! Magpie is the RSS library FoF is based on. Mainly this release includes the unfortunate code that you need to deal with XML character encodings in PHP. FoF has included a version of this code for a while, but I’m glad that it’s now in the main-line Magpie.

reBlog 1.0 has been released! reBlog is a system based on FoF for reading feeds and very easily (in one click) “re-blogging”, or posting to your own weblog, the items you find interesting. It looks like for this release Eyebeam’s teamed up with some designers to spruce up FoF’s famously, uh, “utilitarian” interface.

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

– Zhuang1 – Village

莊子 – Zhuang1 Zi5 – Zhuang Zi

Zhuang Zi is the guy who couldn’t figure out if he was Zhuang Zi dreaming he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuang Zi. He also had a famous argument with another philosopher, “Hui Zi”. Zhuang Zi saw some fish swimming and mentioned to Hui Zi how happy the fish were. Hui Zi, sensing a possible philosophical duel, said “You aren’t a fish… how do you know if they are happy?” Zhuang Zi thought quickly and came back with this crushing blow: “How do YOU know that I don’t know that THEY are happy if YOU aren’t ME!?!?”

On our trip they told us that this exchange happened at the Happy Fish Pavilion at Yu Yuan garden in Shanghai, but apparently that pavilion is only supposed to REMIND you of this and is not where this historic argument actually took place.

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

– Hu2 – (a surname)

胡同 – Hu2 Tong2 – Hutong

The “hutongs” are the small streets of Beijing that criss-cross residential areas made up of small, old houses. The word “hutong” was derived from a Mongolian word meaning “well”.

The hutongs have recently become a popular tourist destination, possibly just in time to save them from destruction.

Date: November 20th, 2004
Cate: Otherwhere

China: Day 2

Pictures from day 2 in China are now up. It was a free day, and Chris acted as our “local guide”. We took the Beijing subway, and saw the Lama Temple, a nice quiet residential neighborhood, the Bell Tower, and Beihai park. To see my descriptions of each picture, start from the first photo and keep hitting “next in set”.

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

– He2 – And, Together, Peace, Harmony

Somebody who doesn’t have an excellent command of Chinese could easily confuse 永和 – Yong3 He2 – Perpetual Peace — Yong He, the district of Taipei known for its controversial soybean milk and sandwich lady with 雍和 – Yong1 He2 – Harmonious Peace — Yong He, the famous Lama Temple in Beijing.

Of course, I would never have that problem.

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

– Mian4 – Face, Aspect, Side, Surface

埋伏 – Mai2 Fu2 – Bury Hide — Ambush

Tonight’s movie: 十面埋伏 – Shi2 Mian4 Mai2 Fu2 – Ten Side Ambush — House of Flying Daggers. Another one of these very colorful, slow, cinematic, action/love movies where people fight up in bamboo trees and make long speeches as they die, like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Hero. Except not as good.

Date: November 18th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Zi4 – Stain

Have any water stains on your ceiling? Want to be able to sleep ever again? Then definitely don’t watch Dark Water. Or wait until next year, and then don’t watch the inevitable American remake.

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

– Ju2 – Orange

橘子 – Ju2 Zi5 – Orange (the fruit)

And just like in English, an orange is orange:

橘色 – Ju2 Se4 – Orange Color

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

– Ban4 – Companion, Partner

伴唱 – Ban4 Chang4 – Companion Sing — Vocal Accompaniment

伴唱機 – Ban4 Chang4 Ji1 – Companion Sing Machine — (Vocal) Mixer

卡拉OK伴唱機 – Ka3 La1 O K Ban4 Chang4 Ji1 – Karaoke Mixer

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

– Jian1 – Fry

煎餅Jian1 Bing3 – Fried Pancake

One of many types of street food in Beijing.

Date: November 14th, 2004
Cate: Otherwhere
4 msgs

China photos at flickr!

I’ve started posting pictures from our trip to flickr. I’m still getting used to their system, so they way I’ve arranged the photos might change. For now I’ve created one set, China – Day 1 – Beijing arrival.

If you’ve never heard of flickr before, it’s yet another online photo posting/sharing thing. Those sites are a dime a dozen, right? Flickr is different. I think it does for photos what Gmail did for email. They have a reasonably useful free service, and a practically unlimited “pro” service, which I signed up for after messing around for just a few minutes. I’ve been listening to the little kids on the internet rave about flickr for a long time now, and it turns out they were right!

The one problem is that you can’t order prints, but they’re working on that. But they aren’t greedy with the photos like some of those other sites. Want to print one of my photos? You can just download the full resolution originals and print away! Try that with Ofoto. They are also super geeky, with an open API and tons of other options. You can even associate a license with all your pictures. I’ve chosen this one.

Date: November 14th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– Shan3 – Glimpse, Flash

閃電 – Shan3 Dian4 – Flash Electricity — Lightning

I wonder what lightning was called before they knew that it was made of electricity? OR MAYBE THEY KNEW THE WHOLE TIME?!?!?

閃爍 – Shan3 Shuo4 – Flash Shine — Flicker (flickr)

Date: November 13th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
4 msgs

– Chang2 – Often, Ordinary, Common, Permanent

非常 – Fei1 Chang2 – Not Common — Unusual, Extremely, Very

Tonight we watched this movie, 三更 2 – San1 Geng1 2. 三 means Three, and I really don’t know what 更 means in this context. But I do know that in English, the movie is called Three… Extremes. And it was 非常 bad.

Date: November 12th, 2004
Cate: Regular
4 msgs

How many barbers are there in the United States?

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Barbers, cosmetologists, and other personal appearance workers held about 754,000 jobs in 2002. Of these, barbers, hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists held 651,000 jobs; manicurists and pedicurists, 51,000; skin care specialists, 25,000; and shampooers, 25,000.

Most of these workers are employed in beauty salons or barber shops, but they are also found in nail salons, department stores, nursing and other residential care homes, and drug and cosmetics stores. Nearly every town has a barbershop or beauty salon, but employment in this occupation is concentrated in the most populous cities and States.

Almost half of all barbers, cosmetologists, and other personal appearance workers are self-employed. Many own their own salon, but a growing number lease booth space or a chair from the salon’s owner.

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

– Lue4 – Survey, Approximate, Plan, Omit, Invade, Strategy

戰略 – Zhan4 Lue4 – Fight Plan — Strategy

戰術 – Zhan4 Shu4 – Fight Technique — Tactics

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

– Gu3 – Drum, Rouse

太鼓 – Tai4 Gu3 – Large Drum — Taiko drum

Yay! It’s another word of the day inspired by a Japanese video game: 太鼓の達人Taiko no Tatsujin / Taiko Drum Master. It’s the game I first played in Japan two years ago, it’s finally out here, and Walde gave it to Toto for his birthday, which means I get to play it! But the game was actually sort of disappointing.

The taiko drum controller just doesn’t seem to work as well as the bongo drums that come with Donkey Konga: you have to hit the drums really hard, and even then it frequently misses hits. Also, one of the best things I remember about the arcade version of the game is the music. For the US release, they’ve replaced all the great Japanese-flavored songs with mediocre (in comparison) American pop and rock songs. You do get a taste of the original music on some of the menus and the in-between screens. Couldn’t they have left in at least a few original tracks? As much as I like the game’s style, I think of the two drumming games now available here, Donkey Konga wins.

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

– Shi3 – History

史紀 – Shi3 Ji4 – History Record — Records of the Grand Historian

Date: November 9th, 2004
Cate: Video Games
11 msgs

Lazyweb: Katamari Damacy translated lyrics?

Why is it that I can’t find a copy of the lyrics of all the songs in Katamari Damacy translated into English? I’m actually quite surprised that this hasn’t already been done! Lazyweb: consider this a formal request.

I have found a FAQ (the first one) with romaji versions of the lyrics, and some sites with Japanese lyrics: at 2chan, search the page for NAMCO, and also at Cube Media. But no English! Will this stand? I think not.

Date: November 9th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Xing4 – Fortunate, Lucky

In China, our tour guide was handing out luggage tags. Each one had a number.

“Here’s your tag, you’re number…. uh oh… I can change this one for you.”

“Why? What’s wrong?”

“It’s number 13.”

“Oh no, it’s fine, I don’t care about that. Hey, I bet if I were Chinese, you’d make sure I don’t get the number 4, huh.”

“Actually 4 is a lucky number now.”


“Yes. Do you know about music? Do, Re, Mi, Fa? The fourth one is Fa, which is a lucky word. So four is a lucky number.”

“Wow, I’ve never heard of that. Do all Chinese know about this now?”

“Yes… well, there may be some who don’t know yet.”

So I’m doing my part to get the word out. Hear ye, hear ye! 4 is no longer unlucky! It’s actually LUCKY now!

You’re welcome.

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

– Kuai4 – Piece, Chunk, Lump, Clump, measure word for money

每日一字 returns! With a word inspired by a Japanese video game?

塊魂 – Kuai1 Hun2 – Clump Spirit — Katamari Damacy

This is one of those games you hear about from Japan, which sounds REALLY COOL (like a subway simulator or a restaurant management game) but you know they will never bring out in the US. Except this time they did! And they didn’t water it down like they did to poor Taiko no Tatsujin. Premise: The Lord of All Cosmos was having fun one day and destroyed all the stars in the sky. Later, he felt bad about it. You, the prince, must restore them by rolling up giant balls of junk from the planet Earth and sending them into space which become new stars. You start out at a tiny size, rolling up paperclips, thumbtacks, and pieces of candy, and as your katamari increases in size you can pick up bigger and bigger things: mice, books, cats, shoes, food, bushes, people, cars… eventually even airplanes, buildings, stadiums… I’m not sure what the limit is.

Katamari Damacy’s official site has an even better description. The game has a very unique style, as you can see from the official site, and also has really good music, which you can get a taste of at music (for robots).

If you have a PS2, I suggest you buy this game right now and start rolling up a nice healthy katamari.