Plain old Chinese internet radio is so old and busted. Jenny’s new thing is this station that plays Chinese and Taiwanese pop songs from the 80’s and 90’s. It’s pretty much the best thing ever! Here’s one of the songs we just heard:
Archive for category Otherwhere
They threatened to send me several times before, but I just printed out my boarding pass so I guess this time is real. I am going to Bangalore, or is it Bengaluru… well really ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು in the language I’m more familiar with as a way to make funny little faces.
I’ll be there for Independence Day, then two weeks of work. I’m not sure what to do with my weekends, I’m told I should see the Palace of Mysore (or is that Mysuru?) but have few other ideas. Maybe they’ll have some suggestions when I get there!
The National Air and Space Museum has two locations: the main one on the National Mall, and another with some bigger stuff called the Udvar-Hazy Center. We went to the main branch some years ago, but — ahh — never uploaded the pictures? Bad blogger! Bad! Anyway, on a recent trip to visit one of Jenny’s highschool friends (ObPlug: visit Woodlands Restaurant! Try the Pani Puri!) we hit the other branch. Since it’s the National Air and Space museum the stuff you see is the Real Deal™. Like, they don’t just have some random test Gemini capsule, they have Gemini 7. And they don’t just have some random B-29, they have the Enola Gay. And of course, the main attraction for me, the Space Shuttle Enterprise.
And then once I get back from that, I get to start on the new new new new thing which will be, by the time it’s finished, the newest thing EVER.
For Jenny’s Dad’s 60th birthday, the whole family took a trip out West! We stayed 7 days, on a tour bus whenever there was sunlight, and in different hotels each night. The bus travelled counter-clockwise around Wyoming and its bordering states, hitting as many destinations as humanly possible: Denver, Crazy Horse Memorial, Mt. Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, Yellowstone, The Grand Tetons, Salt Lake City, Arches National Park… probably several more I’m forgetting. Look at the pictures.
On the first day, when the tour guide told us that we would be receiving a 5 AM wake up call to get going the next morning, I demanded to know whose crazy idea the trip was. On the last day, after doing an incredible sunset hike in Arches National Park, we were making plans to go back.
Sharena is making a mockery of the lion dance and eventually her great grandfather can’t take it any more.
We have arrived in Taiwan and in typical Taiwanese fashion we found that Jenny’s relatives actually rented a TOUR BUS to pick us up from the airport. It brought us to her Uncle’s place (only saw one bing lang girl on the way) where every relative ever had gathered for food and drink. They finally let us go and now they’ve distributed us out to houses with spare rooms for sleeping. We have big plans to get up early tomorrow and get breakfast and check out the area, but I’m pretty sure we owe like 2 or 3 night’s sleep at this point so we’ll see what actually happens.
Tomorrow is a day of relative rest (other than the inevitable banquet-grade dinner) and then the next day we start a 5 day bus trip around the island, to some places we’ve been before, and some we haven’t.
We’ve got trips! And this time they’re for reals.
This weekend: Palo Alto! I’ve been casually talking to somebody out there for a while, and now that our conversations are getting more serious (O(lg n) and the like) we’ve decided to meet up in person and see where things lead.
End of February: Taiwan, again! This time with all of them, plus ALL their kids, which will definitely be either fun or “fun”. Hoping for mostly the former.
Nice to see that ancient Chinese scholars had the same sense of humor as modern stand-up hacks:
Those who speak do not know, those who know are silent,
I heard this saying from the old gentleman.
If the old gentleman was one who knew the way,
Why did he feel able to write five thousand words?
We’ll be going back to Taiwan this year, in April! Highlights will be Jenny’s grandfather’s ∞th birthday (and other family type functions), a visit to Sandwich Lady, and going up to the top of the Taipei 101 while it still holds on to the “tallest” title. (The last time I saw the 101 it looked like this!)
Update: no we aren’t! more like TaiWRONG 2008!
Random information for Vietmanese food seekers in Montreal:
- For some reason, “Pho” is called “Tonkinese Soup” here.
- There is another soupish dish that called “Mytho” which is ubiquitous and very good. Maybe named after the place Mỹ Tho? Anyway, it was pretty much like this, minus the quail eggs. I had it with the broth on the side and was recommended (twice!) to put some sweet vinegar on top which turned out to be a very good idea.
- Our favorite Vietmanese restaurant here is Cafe Saigon in “Le Village”. Like the review says, “so out it’s in”.
A free lifetime subscription to messy-78 to the first person to guess where we are now!
So here we are in Colorado, with a rental car that is sure to make somebody jealous.
In other news, did I mention that we’re going on vacation to Colorado?
We went to the finals of the Pilot Pen tennis tournament yesterday. It was fun, even though we didn’t get to see any really good matches. In the women’s final, Svetlana Kuznetsova lost the first set to Ágnes Szávay, and then just as it was getting interesting Szávay had to give up because of an injury. Too bad.
James Blake beat his friend Mardy Fish in straight sets. We were sitting right next to one of the few Fish fans in the crowd which made the match a little more exciting. “COME ON FISH! SHAKE IT OFF!!!!”
We even hung around to see the women’s doubles championship match, which was a complete blowout: somehow the world’s top women’s doubles team lost 6-1 6-2! On the winning team was Sania Mirza, originally from India, who had attracted a respectable number of Indian fans who we watched filming and taking pictures of her somewhat obsessively and quickly scurring to try to get autographs after the game.
Just out of curiosity I checked today to see how much it would cost us to see the US Open. Tickets for seats at the finals as good as the ones we had are around FIVE THOUSAND BUCKS! Yowza!!! Jenny would like to see Federer play a whole lot… but not that much.
Today: Brookhaven National Lab! During the summer they give tours on Sundays and they saved the best for last: RELATIVISITC HEAVY ION COLLIDER!!!! What is that? Well, just like the name, it takes heavy ions (gold, specifically) and collides them…. relativistically! See the tiny circle in the middle of this map? Zoom in and take a closer look, that’s RHIC.
There were way, way more people out there than I had imagined! Who knew particle physics drew the crowds. They split the tours up into different groups, and first we took this bus and listened to this Actual Research Scientist™ describe a few of the buildings on the BNL campus and the basics of the RHIC experiments. Our first stop was the PHENIX experiment.
This is, if I’m not mistaken Stefen Bathe, (more publications here) standing in front of the PHENIX detector. He’s explaining the experiment, which among other things is creating a Quark-gluon plasma, and fielding questions from other people on the tour (can this be used to generate energy? no. how loud are the collisions? silent. what practical benefit will this research have? possibly none. how do you turn it on? a team of scientists and engineers go in that control room over there and work for a few weeks. are you sure it’s completely silent? well, the air conditioners do make some noise).
PHENIX has lots of interesting stuff on its website, including this Java applet that lets you visualize the results of collisions (although one of the scientists seemed to imply that these visualizations are for PR purposes only and she really is only interested in crunching the raw data – “I’ve never looked at one of my collisions, actually”). Also, here are a series of games where you can try to run the collider yourself. If you get a high enough score, the results of your experiements enable time travel.
We spent a little more time at the STAR experiment. The goal of this experiement is… exactly the same as PHENIX! The two teams are in competition and are trying to beat each other to results, and also create the same findings with two different methods.
Here’s one of STAR’s gigantic detectors. I’m not sure but this may be part of the FORWARD TIME PROJECTION CHAMBER, which sounds really cool.
We also got to see the control room for STAR. It was full of racks of computers, which of course drew my interest. By the way if I’m not mistaken this is STAR’s entire CVS repository: here’s a commit somebody made just a few days ago. I guess this is the real stuff. Also, STAR: the weblog. Subscribed!
Science runs on Linux!
OK, also sometimes on Solaris. And Love.
A chilling sign. Toto asked the obvious question: “What do you think happened to Dennis?!?!?!” By the way, RHIC is the collider that was in the news a few years ago… remember BIG BANG MACHINE COULD DESTROY EARTH? The article stated that some crazy scientists were doing an expierment that could bring about the destruction of the Earth, or possibly even the ENTIRE UNIVERSE! I asked about this and yes, it was RHIC. I then asked if any of these events have occurred and was assured that no, they have not. I didn’t ask the obvious follow-up question involving the anthropomorphic principle and the many-worlds hypothesis. Here’s the report the lab issued: RHIC Speculative Disaster Scenarios.
I did resist the urge to try to turn it on myself.
I’m guessing that a magnet crash would be…. bad?
More serious looking stuff. I love switches behind doors, which is why I was never any good at Steel Battalion. That self-destruct switch was irresistable. (by the way, don’t bother with that IP address – it’s not pingable and a traceroute dies somewhere inside es.net.)
Posted in the control room.
The final stop on the tour took us into the accelerator tunnel. This tunnel contains two “pipes”, one with particles moving clockwise around the RHIC, the other counterclockwise. At six positions around the ring these pipes cross over, so that collisions (at 99.995% the speed of light!) are possible. At this point of the tour we got an extremely enthusiastic and technical description of exactly how the superconducting magnets guide the beam, and the various safety systems that keep the collider from destroying itself if anything goes wrong.
All in all, it was a great trip and completely worth the two hour drive out to long island. And the icing on the cake was that Jenny got to cross another resaurant off her TODO list, Momofuku. Nano-review: good!
1) Who could possibly resist buying this after seeing it in the vending machine?
2) Nice to see they’ve finally captured Gamera.
3) No explanation.
We made it, flight was fine, car was fine, hotel is actually NOT fine! Some sort of screwup with the bookings has effectively “bumped” us from our room tomorrow night. Tonight they put is some really fancy room we clearly don’t deserve: the room has a name instead of a number. They offered to put us up for free tomorrow night in some other hotel (nice) and then ship us back here again for the rest of our stay (a bit of a pain). I’m asking them instead to just put us in the other hotel for the rest of the time. We’ll see what happens.
I officially decide that word of the day is on vacation, by the way. Fresh words starting again on Monday!
This is the lady that we followed to the best Dim Sum in Chicago! Jenny, Cassi and I got off the L at Chinatown, figuring that we’d walk around randomly until we saw a busy looking Dim Sum restaurant. She got off the L too, and happened to go the same way as us. A few blocks later, she asked an old man something in Cantonese. None of us speak Cantonese, but we did pick up one thing: Yam Cha! The old man started pointing in the opposite direction down the street, and was apparently giving directions. We quickly huddled and figured that if anybody knew where the best Dim Sum would be, it would be an old man on the street, and decided to follow the lady.
We tried to keep our distance, but still keep her in view. After a few blocks she made a turn and walked for a while, then stopped and asked somebody for directions again. Apparently she went the wrong way, because they pointed her backwards right towards us! As she turned, you can imagine the slapstick routine we put on, walking in circles while whistling and trying to act like nothing is going on while we waited for her to pass and start stalking again. This time she knew where she was going and led us straight to Phoenix. I don’t think she ever picked up on the fact that we were following her, even when Jenny went outside to steal this picture of her (I didn’t have the guts to do that).
And by future, I mean later this month: Robots to offer warm welcome at Japan’s World Expo
NAGAKUTE, Japan (AFP) – Japan will welcome the millions of guests at the World Exposition opening this month with hosts trained to greet them in their language, entertain their children and perform rap music with them.
The gracious hosts are robots. [...]
The robot may refuse to answer to sensitive questions for “privacy reasons,” making an X with her arms and bowing.
She also has a sense of irony. When asked if she is a robot, she says, “Y.e.s, I. a.m. a. r.o.b.o.t” in a disconnected voice and moves about clumsily. A moment later, she says “Just kidding” and starts a natural flow of movements.
I found Robin Hunicke’s Tokyo Game Show 2004 pictures today. They’re great! It looks like her experience there was almost exactly like mine. I started looking through the rest of her pictures, and saw that she was in Tokyo in 2003 as well. Scrolling down the page a bit, I found something amazing… pictures of insane ripped tights dancing girl! We saw her too, when we went to Tokyo in 2002! I wonder who long she’s been there, doing her insane dance? Is she some sort of Shibuya fixture? We came upon her partway through her routine. She was throwing herself around, jumping in random directions and crashing into the ground. The pictures only begin to convey her self-destructive energy. Eventually, she collapsed in a pile. We watched a little longer, and she got up, and we noticed she was bleeding pretty badly from her knees. She bandaged herself up, then left quietly.
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”.
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.
Hey! The Shangri-La “Golden Flower” hotel in 西安 (Xi1 An1 – Western Peace) has free, open wireless! Network name: “Shangri-La”. And it’s fast! Faster than the wired connection at the New Century hotel in Beijing, anyway. The only (minor) problem is that emperical evidence indicates that both connections are subject to the “great firewall of China”.
For some reason I really get a kick out of this Chinese version of “Walk the Dinosaur” (you know, that old song, “open the door, get on the floor, everybody walk the dinosaur”) by 張善為 (Zhang Shan Wei): Listen (real media) – Lyrics (Chinese) – Listen to the rest of the album, he also has a version of “Kung Fu Fighting” – Buy the whole album
Here’s a rough translation of the chorus, words in italics are sung in English:
1 2 3 4 first turn, turn head! 5 6 7 8 start to dinosaur!
Relax your butt, get ready to twist! Pretend you have the tail of dinosaur!
Clear your throat, stand up straight! Breathe fire to the sky dinosaur!
One more two more, the whole world together! We are all cute dinosaur!
Dutch woman Deborah Boer models the ‘Jewel Eye’ in her hometown Driebergen, the Netherlands April 7, 2004. The ‘Jewel Eye’ piece is latest trend in body fashion and is implanted underneath the cornea of the eye. REUTERS/Michael Kooren