Wednesday, December 31, 2008

YCQ #13 / New Years' Resolution

Since my time has expired this month, and my life has clearly been too boring to have anything to comment about, we now have what I know you all have actually been most hoping for: an all new episode of the Yellow Card Question Show!


To make your life a little easier, I am also choosing your New Year's resolution for you. And today's theme song is also your New Year's resolution: Wear Sunscreen.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for. With great gravity and ceremony, magnetism and antimony, I spin the stack and flip the wheel:

There were lots of good places to play when I was a kid. Wild grassy fields, big branchy trees, a lake for swimming and canoeing, clay hillsides and dirt drainage ditches. When I was living in this house:

there was a valley just off to the left there that had lots of entertainment. There was a small patch of jungle (including bird-of-paradise flowers, termites and cowkillers, porcupines, ...) and grassy little hill that we frequently had campouts on. I remember one summer (I think it must have been 1988) my friends and I must have camped out there several times in just a few weeks, and we got mad at our sisters when they did too, because they were copy-catting us. (A clear violation of childhood etiquette.) We also played a lot of tag and hide-and-seek games in that yard, and the bushes around the edge of the yard (gone now) were just the right height for jumping over. And when the wind was blowing good, you could stand at the edge of the hill and lean really far into it, especially if you tied a sheet to your ankles and grabbed the other two corners with your hands.

When we lived in this house:

we were a lot closer to the lake, and the neighbors had a canoe we could borrow. I spent a lot of time out in that canoe during the summertime. For some reason I can't articulate, it was particularly fun to be out when it was windy or rainy. That ditch in the foreground was also great for building a dirt city. Me and the neighbor kids made quite a town carved into the side of that ditch, with roads for matchbox cars, little lawns made of moss, and a couple high-rise buildings made of fresh mud. The brush and palm trees along the lake had parrots and cranes, boas and iguanas, and an occasional fox. In the lake we caught cool fish (mostly for the fish tank, since the largest ones were dogfish and piranhas, which generally had worms) and sometimes turtles. In the old days, there was a giant mango tree right in front of the house that was pretty good for climbing, and there was an even better one up the hill on the left.

There were so many different good places to play in those days, I think the best I can do is say that the whole area was my favorite.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A wedding like no other

On April Fools' Day 2007, I wrote a post about suddenly falling in love and getting hitched with a woman I met in a bar. I thought it was a pretty preposterous story considering I was the protagonist, but ultimately the joke was on me. Sometime in the prior month I had in fact met a woman at a bar, we did suddenly fall in love, and we are now married.

Our first impressions of each other were admittedly not great. I was cultivating my nerdy, girl-repellent look at that time, and when we were first introduced, her first words were "Do you wanna teach some English classes?", a line every native English speaker in China grows tired of hearing. But we ended up spending a couple days of our May holiday together, and I quickly realized I rather liked her. Besides her frankness and ease with strangers, she was pretty cute, clearly intelligent, culturally experienced, and unlike any woman I've known. It turned out all my friends already knew her, and everyone who knew her liked her. It took a little bit longer for her to figure out that I was a likeable guy, but before long we were spending all our free time together.

I delayed my planned return to the States as long as possible, but trying hard to not follow in the footsteps of my Fool's Day alter ego who quit school, and not quite able to believe she really liked me that much, I went back to school in California, with a visit scheduled for my winter break. It turned out she actually was as stuck on me as I was on her, and by the time winter break came, we were making marriage plans.

Marriage plans are a little complicated when the partners have lives on separate continents. It's taking a while, and still isn't done. It won't be official until after her visa process finishes, which looks now like it will be a few months more. But last month my parents came to visit, and we celebrated with her friends and family here, in a wedding sui generis, including scenic mountain views, fireworks, dancing, a bonfire, and lots of super people all having fun together.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Joining the tea trade

My career as an English tutor isn't quite lucrative enough to support my extravagant lifestyle, so I sold out last week and joined the tea trade. The early 20th century tea trade, that is. In my career as assistant to a conniving British tea merchant, my main duty is telling the enemy that my boss is not available, but I also act as his intelligence officer, tea taster (haha), and muscle (haha). And I have to remember not to blink too much. Here I am with our driver.

That is the car in the background. We are not sure if it was made from scraps or if it fell through a warp hole.

This is me with one of the enemy bosses. Before he joined the tea business, he was Stephen Chow's "Uncle Tat".

BTW, this post is not late or pre-dated. I wrote it in 1913, and post-dated it for your sakes.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wandering around China

I'm here on a tourist visa that says I can only be in the country for 60 days at a time, so we planned a trip to the northeast, thinking we would hop over the border into Russia or bib over to South Korea. (North Korea is a whole lot closer, but a little harder to get a border stamp.) But after we had bought plane tickets and told people we were coming, we realized that Russian visas can only be obtained in your home country, and the plane/boat to Korea is more expensive than the plane/train to Hong Kong, so we took a few days in Hong Kong first. One country, two systems, but it still counts as exiting the country.
We got there on the last day of a typhoon, so it rained a lot the first day, but was really clear after. We spent one night in Kowloon, one night at a hostel an hour's walk from the road along the sea, and after going back to the main island to get a clear view from the top, we went back across the border just before midnight, during the opening ceremony of the olympics.
Our plane back from Shenzhen was delayed, so we only had 5 hours back in Jinhua before starting off again. We visited Angie's friends and family in Dalian, Dandong, Changchun and Yanji, before returning home.

The photo albums are in picasa instead of the usual flickr. Let me know how well that works.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

YCQ #12

Welcome, welcome! The month of July (or was it June?) has sped past, and it is indeed time for a new episode of The Yellow Card Question! The theme song of the day is from 二十分可乐 (something like "20-minute humor"), a TV show produced by the local TV station, all in Jinhua dialect, with a lot of references to local culture and places. If you use Windows with IE and ActiveX, you can watch all 117 episodes online.

So! On with the show! For your entertainment today, we will have a bit of a twist -- I will pull the yellow card with my left hand! That's right, I am ambidextrous (or ambi-sinister?), capable of equally clumsy movements with my right and left hands. So, here we go -- wait for it -- the yellow card question!

How about that folks?!

Well, my main purpose in life is to keep my audience entertained. Or at least that's what a couple friends have told me recently. How am I doing?

Monday, June 30, 2008

YCQ #11 / January: Linguistics in Song

Today I have a special treat for you listeners. It's time for a yellow card question, but instead of our usual theme song, we have a podcast in production since January 2007. That's right, like finely aged wine, very moldy cheese, or those dirty socks that got lost behind the dresser, this podcast is of the finest caliber producible by dusty musty forgotten dark corners.

Launch it in a separate player, or just open the mp3
Billy Joel - If I only had the words
Leonor Dely - Para todo hay un signo
Tito Gomez - Aunque no lo digas
Los Amigos Invisibles - Gerundio
Los Aterciopelados - Complemento
Rouge Rouge - Attention
Pablo Mayor - Dobladillo a la lengua
Miriam Makeba - The Click Song
Blackalicious - Alphabet Aerobics
Gilberto Gil - Lingua do Pê
K-G, Sideshow, Musah and Neno - Analyze
John Benjamin Band - More Science

And now, while that plays in the background, let's get on with the show! The one and only yellow card question of the hour, pulled from this perfectly normal deck of electronic cards -- there's no computer special effects here, folks -- well, not very special anyway -- I mean, it's just like a really short python script that picks a random element from an xml file full of questions, and formats it in a yellow-background div element floating in the center of the page, pretty kludgey, really. The text is generally formatted badly, because there's an extra space for some reason in places where there is a line break in the original printed cards, but the actual line breaks in the electronic version is just dependent on html formatting. For example, take a look at this one:

In the printed card, there was a line break between "make" and "the", and so you can see here a little extra space between those words. And then we end up with "place" on a line all by itself. It really loses the poetry of the question. So I would like to make the world a better place by fixing the yellow card script to make the formatting a bit prettier. If I could do that, my life would be complete. I've heard it said that there are other issues in the world, riots, flooding, earthquakes, drought, fires, more flooding, violence of diverse kinds, and even diseased kittens dying slowly. But I can't change the world or rescue every kitten, so I gotta take small steps with what I've got.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Angie's Meme Response

In response to Carroll

The closest bookish thing was actually a magazine with an ad on page 123.

"Dior, luxury white, shiny as diamonds."

The second thing was a Japanese comic book.

The book w/ at least 123 pages on it is: American Legal English. (I'm reading it now). Topic: Manslaughter -_-
next 3 sentences are: 
1. A homicide that would otherwise be second-degree murder may be reduced to voluntary manslaughter if it was committed in response to adequate provocation, sometimes referred to as killing in the 'heat of passion'.
2. In general, four requirements must be met: 
3. (1). The provocation must be reasonable(judged by the standard of the reaction of an objective, reasonable person, not a subjective standard that relates to the actor). 

And she tags jeorgesmith.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

YCQ #10: Om

Good evening, my children. The time has come once again, that special time when we stop to meditate on the omissions of the past and the looming shadow of deadlines to come. Today we celebrate this time of the month by the ritual of the yellow card question, when I reach into that fabled stack of digital question cards, and enlighten you with random bits of wisdom.

The theme song of the hour is 轮回 (Reincarnation) by 盛噶仁波切 (Singa Rinpoche), a Tibetan lama and living Buddha.1 Calm your mind by listening to him chant.

I don't understand the lyrics, but I think there was more to that song than a mantra. How am I ever going to reach enlightenment when they make such complicated poems for meditation?

Okay, so now that our minds are at one with the universe, it's time for the yellow card!

And the teacher replied to the student, "Tweet tweet!"

1. Did you know Steven Seagal is a living Buddha too?

Monday, March 31, 2008

YCQ #9

It's the end of another month, and I haven't had anything to say. So guess what that means! It's that time again folks: It's the Yellow Card Question Show!

For today's theme song, we are going to borrow one from another show: Chibi Maruko Chan, aka 櫻桃小丸子, aka ماروكو الصغيرة, aka 마루코는 아홉살, etc. Choose your language and start the music playing: Japanese, German, Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic, Korean. I'm sure there are Bahasa and Tagalog versions out there and perhaps some others, but I can't be bothered to find them at the moment. You'll just have to cope with these options.

So what now? What we've all been waiting for -- let's have a question! Do your happy dances for a moment while I spin the wheel, roll the die, shuffle the deck, and blow on the tea leaves.

Hmm. This question was meant for Chinese students who have three to five roommates in their dorm rooms. It doesn't quite make sense to ask it of myself, but then who said these questions had to make sense.

Well, the simple answer is that I would go crazy. I don't have much furniture in my room, but I don't have much floor space either. I have just my one bedroll on the floor, various items of furniture and boxes along the walls, and a section of bare floor that I like to be able to walk on. I don't like walking on strangers, or friends for that matter. I suppose that if my "roommates" included those sleeping in my living room, than I would perhaps go a little less crazy, but there's not much out there to sleep on either. This silly building doesn't even have places to put hammock hooks! With no bunk beds, no hammocks, and shortage of couches, I just don't think there is any way 6 more people could live here, unless they slept in shifts. That might work. Both my current roommate and I do tend to alternate hours awake. For example, I sometimes sleep 7 PM to 9 PM and 2 AM to 8 AM, and my roomie might sleep 9 PM to 1 AM and 6 AM to noon. But still, a general increase in the average level of insanity would be unavoidable.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Humpty Lives Again

My compy is well beyond the warranty period, and even beyond the age of the recall on the defective video processor soldering of that era. So a couple weeks ago when Humpty's video wigged out for the second time in his distinguished career, I figured that was the end. I was being forced by fate to buy a new computer. Oh well.

But then I found a company online that was reportedly able to repair such problems for $50 plus shipping. They only want the logic board though, so I disassembled Humpty (using instructions printed off the internet) and sent it in. And this week it came back to me!

Then I had to reassemble it. From this:
Before assembly

To this:
After assembly

It worked! (Yay!) And I even had a dozen screws left over!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's almost February

of 2008. And I haven't said anything for far too long. But I have been having a fairly uneventful life, with little worth commenting on. I mean besides finishing my first quarter in the new program, seeing my sister for the first time in two years, meeting her fiance, going to their wedding, doing Christmas with the whole family, flying across the ocean to see my sweetie, getting engaged, coming back to school late, getting a bad stomach flu, then having my compy die on me, and having an impromptu whole family reunion last weekend, there hasn't been much happening with me. And most of my readers already know about those things anyway.

P.S. You may have noticed that I've moved this blog to my own domain. I'm also now running a proxified version ( so friends in China can see it without a proxy setup. (Yay!)