Friday, October 31, 2003

So I did the complete makover thing today. After lunch I rode down Liberty Street to a barber shop and got a haircut. To quote the barber "That's a lot of hair!" I think it's haircut season; even Dr Lee showed up on Wednesday evening with a nice trim. It was twelve dollars for the haircut, a little much, I think?

As the second stage of my makeover, I picked up the new pair of glasses I bought last week. They're much smaller than my current pair, so I'm still getting used to having a narrower field of vision. Ahh, the concessions we make for fashion.

So I look very different than I did yesterday. I'll try to post a picture for the fam. Overall, I think it's a positive change. Dina told me I look studious.

Via Little Yellow Different, Anarchy In The PRC: Beijing punk comes to San Francisco:

When Xiao Rong started China's seminal punk band Brain Failure, he was a teenager. That was years ago, when nobody had ever seen anything like the mohawk and the studded-leather belt Xiao sported around Beijing. Living on American fast food and pirated CDs, Xiao was one of the first Chinese youth to write punk lyrics with a blatantly political message.


While in the United States, Hang on the Box will play with seminal Japanese girl punks Shonen Knife at the Knitting Factory in New York on Oct. 26.

My reply to Ernie's post.

On Display in Italy: Classroom Crosses, and a Raw Nerve:

Ms. Berardi, who said that she seldom attends church, was referring to the cross as a visual motif throughout Italy, and she kept repeating herself.

"It's always been there," she said. "It's how we were taught. It's the way it's always been."

The gist of the article is that Italy is debating the result a court case, similar to our pledge-of-allegiance case, which ruled that the Catholic cross hanging in a classroom had to be taken down. The article doesn't explain the legal reasoning, but I assume it's a similar separation of church and state rationale. When I was in elementary school in Spain, there was no cross on the wall in the classroom (only a picture of SSMM the king and queen), but we did say the Hail Mary every morning before class started. My teacher for those years was a very conservative Spanish woman. So I can understand where the lady quoted above is coming from.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Pictures of my weekend in Wheaton in my dad's .Mac photo albums.

I cannot put into words how hungry some pictures of food make me feel.

Julie and I have this reciprocal thing going where I worship her for being a literary goddess and having a deep understanding of the Japanese language (about where I wish I was in Chinese), and she insists that I have good taste in music. Since I learned from Just a Gwailo that women think self-deferential guys won't go to bat for them, I'll affirm that I spent a lot of time in high school and at Caltech keeping up with indie music and such, such that you could say I have a rather "developed" taste for music. Anyhow, my point is that in the post referenced above, Julie mentions listening to KCRW online, which reminds me to mention that I've been listening to some online radio too.

  • KPCC is Southern California's premiere public radio station. I'm a member!
  • Groove Radio was on the air in LA for a few months back in the late 90's, but its much-applauded DJ-less model proved to be less than profitable. Luckily, for fans of electronic dance music Groove Radio took to the internet and is still available in streaming mp3 format.

Totally unrelated, a buncha kids from the CCS went out to dinner tonight after class. Went to a place called "Sabor Latino" on State Street, next to Totoro (where I had lunch today with Miranda Brown and Lenore). I had two tacos, an enchilada, and a bottle of sidra. The big surprise was that our server was an honest-to-goodness Spaniard, from Seville, with the good ol' Southern Spanish accent. Nostalgic!

All that, and if you have a fast connection then you should download and listen to the mix on Construct Chris's livejournal. I can't stop listening to it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Last Friday after Chinese class I biked to the Ann Arbor Amtrak station, which can be reached by going north on State Street, and turning left at the T-stop. It's a ten minute ride or so. I had payed for my ticket online, so it was just a matter of walking up to the window, stating my name and showing an ID, to pick up the ida-y-vuelta (is there a good way to say that in English?) ticket to Chicago and back. The train was just a couple of minutes late, and the ride there was pretty uneventful. I sat next to a lady who was visiting her daughter in Chicago; we spent a while talking about her visit to China a few years ago, and about her Catholic upbringing and misguided hostility by Protestants towards Catholics. I got some reading done, and I napped for a while too. Napping is good

After four or five hours, the train arrived at Chicago's Union Station, from which it was a hop, skip, and a jump away to Ogilvie Station. Three dollars bought a Metrarail ticket on the Geneva line to College Avenue, the closest station to Wheaton College, where my sister Laurel is a freshman this year.

This weekend was Parent Weekend at the college, so that afforded me the chance to hang with my sister and my mom, who was visiting from Southern California. On Friday night we went out for pizza at a nice place, and to the Wheaton student talent show. Saturday morning I slept in (feels good!) and went to a football game where... my sister was a cheerleader! Yes, my valedictorian sister is a cheerleader. For those of you who don't know Laurel, she's this super-all-around girl, even more Renaissance than I can claim to be. In high school she was school mascot, Bible study leader, dance team president, straight-A valedictorian, and popular (the very words of a kid I tutored). All that, and she followed her convictions and chose to attend Wheaton College, probably the top institution of Christian higher education in the United States. You gotta respect someone like that.

After the football game, we went out to a Vietnamese noodle shop for pho, a treat I haven't been able to find here in Ann Arbor. While my mom and sister went to a concert of the Music Conservatory, I stayed back in the dorm and did Lieberthal reading. That night I stayed up late playing games with my sister and her friends, and slept in a room in the guys' wing of Fischer dorm.

On a tangent to the narrative, I discovered a reason why freshman at Wheaton tend not to go on dates, beyond what my sister told me. See, while Wheaton as a Christian college places a high priority on healthy guy-girl relationships and the topic of marriage/engagement comes up a lot, my sister claimed that freshman tend not to date because they are warned that dating in their busy first year can ruin their academic life. Well, I found another more convincing reason. As I lounged in the men's wing of Fischer before going to bed, the fellows who were hosting me dressed out in very embarrassing clothing (tight pink shirts, underwear outside their pants, &c). I found out that they were going to IHOP to crash their roommate's date! How awful.

Sunday morning we ate breakfast together in the dining hall, then my mom and sister left for church while I walked to the train station. Overall, I really enjoyed the trip. My mom is so encouraging, is great for catching me up on the family gossip, and showered me with birthday presents. It was nice seeing my sister, the same old self-depecrating but over-achieving Laurel, getting along with her crazy roommate and enjoying her physics class!

I could keep writing, about how I got caught by a policeman crossing the tracks while the bars were down, or how the train leaving Chicago was almost two hours late, or how I got a grip of reading done on the train, or how it rained on me as I biked home from the station. But enough for tonight.

Walk into class.
Sit down. Doh.
Stand up. Take off coat.
Sit down.

Stand up.
Put on backpack.
Walk towards the door. Oops.
Walk back to seat.
Take off backback.
Put on coat. Put on backpack.
Walk to next class.

Walk into class.
Sit down. Darn.
Stand up.
Take off coat, then sit down.

Stand up.
Reach for backp...coat!
Put on coat, then backpack.
Ah, victory!

Monday, October 27, 2003

Back from Wheaton, but not quite ready to write all about it. In the meantime, dig this track by two hippest of the hip (now on Freeshell for a limited time):

  • Talvin Singh [Bjork With Tricky] - Enjoy (Beats Mix by Talvin Singh)

Friday, October 24, 2003

How disappointing it must be when your language is rejected from inclusion in Unicode. (via Hixie)

In class last week James Lee recommended checking out Labyrinth Books for cheap books. I just visited it today, and it really is worth a glance, particularly the Sale Annex. Not only is the selection of books superb, prices range from 30% down to 5% of the cover price (for example, Louis Putterman's Continuity & Change in China's Rural Development: Collective & Reform Eras in Perspective is $75 on Amazon, and remaindered for $4.98 on Labyrinth). Try a simple search for China.

Ooh, Arthur Waley's Monkey for five bucks.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Via (an Ann Arbor collaborative weblog), creating a 3 layer multicolour stencil.

On Freeshell, The Movementality Coalition - Lost Souls:

Korea says I'm not Korean enough,
American says I'm not white enough.
Tryin' to live though these years that I'm fightin' off,
Unveil my insides through what I'm writin' up,
Korean natives wanna fight me because of my citizenship,
America neglects me 'cause the color of my skin,
Shit, I'm homeless and I'm soulless
Tryin' to find solace before it happens, that's all this is.

Big ups to A.W. Rousseau.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Helena is trying to figure out the relationship between economic growth and reductions in povery, so I thought that the New York Times' Sizzling Economy Revitalizes India might prove interesting. Disappointingly, it paints a rosy pictures and devotes a single paragraph to the topic:

Of course, truisms about what holds India back have not disappeared. The shortfalls in infrastructure, particularly power and education, are staggering. Twenty-six percent of Indians still live in poverty, and data suggest inequality is widening even as the poverty rate falls. Overall employment is essentially stagnating.

Somehow, "inequality" just doesn't carry the negative connotation of "poverty", so a sentence like data suggests inequality is widening even as the povery rate falls seems lacking in logical sense. I can see that inequality has the potential to give rise to repression and abuses of power, but it's not the immediate threat to life that poverty is. Does that make sense?

It's an exciting article about a burgeoning country. Still, it doesn't quite have China's charm for me.

In the Shadow of the Han by Charles Holcombe:

Great family control over the selection process insured that membership in this exclusive group became more and more a hereditary prerogative.

Another questionable use of insured, as opposed to ensured.

New vocabulary:

One who acts without moral restraint; a dissolute person.
One who defies established religious precepts; a freethinker.
A payment or profit received in addition to a regular wage or salary, especially a benefit expected as one's due.
A tip; a gratuity.
Something claimed as an exclusive right: "Politics was the perquisite of the upper class." (Richard B. Sewall.)
The branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being.

Chih Tun had waaaay too much free time. I, on the other hand, do not.

Because it needs the Google-boost, the Evangelical Christian Academy (ECA) in Madrid, Spain is where I did eighth and ninth grades.

From McSweeney's Lists:

A C T U A L   A C A D E M I C
J O U R N A L S   W H I C H
C O U L D   B E   B R O A D W A Y
S H O W S   I F   T H E Y
H A D   E X C L A M A T I O N
P O I N T S   A D D E D !

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Oh wow, so a ticket to the Michigan-Illinois football game fell into my lap last night (thanks Micah--the other Micah!). It was great, attendance was 110,231 people but the stadium has a cozy feel and the players didn't look microscopic so the game was easy to follow. The marching band was great, but the best part of the game was the fans. The spirit was infectious! There were cheers, waves and booing at the officials, all part of a good game.

A couple of things I neglected to write about. I saw Lost In Translation last weekend with Dan. The movie was great, and it was a privilege to listen to Dan's insightful comments on the movie. A separate event: this Friday instead of the usual conversation at the School of Social Work Building, Helena and I went over to our language exchange partners' apartment and we had a delicious lunch! Fish in brown sauce, julienned potato and carrot in a light red sauce, browned onion and pork, and my favorite: fried egg with (boiled? very soft, at least) sweet red pepper. Delish! That night, after Access, a bunch of Impact folks went out to the Pizza House for a snack. It was very busy, very loud; tried to have a nice conversation with Andri but it was hard to hear each other. That, and I'm still learning to make conversation. Slowly and very painfully learning.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Yesterday after a four-hour study session for the Lieberthal mid-term, I grabbed a couple of books off my shelf to blow off some steam. What books? Two elementary school textbooks that I picked up in Beijing in 2001, the first called ±­½±§ (I Love The Chinese Communist Party), and the second called ­½±§ (China Has A Communist Party). The first book includes patriotic songs about events in Chinese modern history, and it's easy to read because the characters carry pinyin superscripts. The second book is meant for older readers: it is longer and has no pinyin. But the story is accompanied by a couple of cartoon characters who make insightful comments like the following:

In the typical picture of Marx, he has a huge bushy bears so this one is particularly funny:
This "big-bearded guy" is Karl Marx!
¬¦½¹´ª,¬ª§! One small book changed the whole world; Marx was so great!
··¯²¯! Father Deng is the best at "seeking truth from facts" !
º¾,¸±¬ºº¾½ª._ The spirit of steelworker Wang Jinxi will always encourage us to work diligently in order to build up the motherland.

There are just too many good ones to write here... more later!

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Shirley asked, so I gave her a big ol' chunk of my mind.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Via Keith Devens,'s A Refactoring Example, by Michael Schwern. See, perl can be readable.

I'm rolling on the floor laughing, because somebody posted a review on the German version of under my email address. The date is Dezember 1997, which would place me in Pasadena, where the reviewer claims to be from. But I would never commit the Net faux pas of posting in ALL CAPS.

On second thought, maybe that is a review I wrote that was reposted by somebody else. Anyhow, it's neat that I've had the same e-mail address for 6 years now.

Smoking is such a turn-off.

Becoming an Avid Reader in Chinese.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Ever since a couple of awkward experiences in college, I've been reluctant to invite people to concerts for fear that they would dislike the music. But tonight I was disappointed in myself because Vienna Teng rocked The Ark here in Ann Arbor, and I was there alone!

Not only is she an incredibly talented piano player, she has a very moving voice. In a way, that's a little scary because most of her songs are sad songs, so you spend a good deal of time two inches away from tears. Still it was a satisfying feeling and her light remarks between songs were friendly, though disarming (did they compound the effect?!). At one point, she was talking about the road trips her family used to take and how her Taiwanese parents would always play American folk music: Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, John Denver... which is extremely cool because we are near the same age and my parents are also big on Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and George Winston--whose music, coincidentally, hers resembled but with Joni's voice. So I was moved to nostalgia when she covered John Denver's Annie's Song, a song out of my own past.

For one song, she taught the chorus to the audience for us to sing along, after which she complimented us on our singing. Much better than pretentious LA audiences, she said. I wonder, have I been in Ann Arbor long enough to laugh at jokes like that? In any case, the next time Ms Teng rolls through town, I'm definitely inviting a friend.

Speaking of which, Shonen Knife will be in Detroit on Halloween. Then again, they were one of those awkward experiences...

  • The Far-East Movement
  • Kangel the Femcee
  • The Jupitersciples
  • Technish
  • If only these crews could rule the world: Korean/Korean-American beatboxing, lyricism, break-dancing, graffiti and turntablism.

    President George W. Bush would be the leader of the b-boys crew; Prime Minister Tony Blair would head Infinite Flow; President Vladimir Putin, Gambler; President Hu Jintao, Obowang. President Jacques Chirac would be at the helm of Rivers. Oh yeah, we need music, like a mighty chorus from the lovers of peace. This calls for the United Nations' secretary-general, Kofi Anan, as a sharp needle, DJ Needle, that is. Battle lines drawn . . . let's rock.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Actually, Arianna Huffington only got 0.6 percent of the vote.

In California I was an avid listener of public radio. In fact, last year since I finally had a steady income, I became a member of KPCC. Well lo and behold, I find out that I can listen to KPCC over the internet. I should renew my membership, then.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

In my weakness for following Asian-American trends, I ordered The Movementality, a compilation of tracks by Asian-American hip-hop groups, a few from the LA area. Sweet stuff. I'll stick one one of the more political tracks on freeshell: DYP the Goldynchild - 35 Years.

Japan is defeated/ resources depleted
Korea once united/ is suddenly divided
at the 38th parallel/ a nation is torn
Out of trauma and death/ our country was born

Just got back from a dumpling party at 邓老师's house. She has been our Chinese teacher so far this year--the usual teacher gets back from China this weekend. Her house is in a very nice neighborhood north of North Campus (a very long bike ride!). The three kids were pretty cute, especially the youngest. They tried to help out making dumplings but all the pi, dumpling skins, that they rolled were sorta thick and not really round. They gave it a good try though, and I'm sure our amateurish folding job didn't help. 邓老师's husband made the filling, a mixture of pork, greens, egg and very fresh shrimp, probably the highligh of the dumplings. About eight people showed up, we chatted for a long time and sang children's karaoke songs with the kids. Fun!

ECON 601. Microeconomic Theory I:

This is the first required microeconomic theory course for doctoral students, studying single agent decision-making by individuals, consumers, firms. Both ordinal and cardinal theories are developed. Students are expected to be comfortable with multi-variable calculus including optimization as well as to follow and replicate simple proofs involving basic algebra and logic. Students emerge desiring but as yet unable to scale ice cliffs with their bare hands.

I'm somewhat of a grammar Nazi, so it bugged me when I was reading a description of the Econ PhD program here at UMich:

This requirement is intended to insure that students are well versed in the particular research techniques that they will use in writing their dissertations. [emphasis mine]

I always thought there was a difference between the word "ensure" and the word "insure", in that "insure" was used strictly in the sense of guaranteeing something through insurance, while "ensure" is based on a method, or somebody's word. But I've seen these two words used in the same context by different sources. So the question is, is there a difference in the meanings of the two? Is "insure" the same as ensure, only with the added meaning tacked on?

I favor the use of "ensure" in my everyday writing. Then again, this doesn't say much because besides being strict about usage I'm also somewhat of a grammar contrarian: for example, I tend to use the 'se' form of the imperfect subjunctive tense in Spanish which, although functionally equivalent, is less common then the 'ra' form. But regarding the "ensure, insure" matter, the first result of a Google search seems to agree with me:

> > >to me "insure" means "to cover with
> > >insurance" while "ensure" means "to make damned sure of it."
> >
> > Second the motion.
> >
> > "Assure" has a different meaning altogether for me. "Assure," is a verb
> >meaning one person essentially consoles another. "I assure you the arm can
> >be reattached" is different than "I ensure you the arm can be reattached."
> At the risk of a "Me too" posting, me too. I agree wholeheartedly on these
> three word meanings. None are synonomous with the others.

But Bartleby assures me that they are, for the most part, interchangeable.

Americans frequently prefer insure when it comes actually to writing or buying insurance policies, whereas both insure and ensure have the generic sense of making certain of outcomes, as in Our careful planning will insure [ensure] our success.

There are certain times when I regret being a prescriptive linguist. Mostly when I'm wrong.

I'm not planning on going anywhere this vacation weekend, and I've still got a very full schedule. Yesterday after Chinese class I raced home, showered, and made a trip over the the grocery store to restock on food and cooking supplies. Back home, I pulled out the recipe cards that Annie made me for Christmas a couple years ago and I whipped up a couple batches of yogurt muffins; I even put little drops of raspberry jelly on the peach muffins. Biked back to campus for language exchange Friday, where I asked them to be guinea pigs and try out my muffins. They turned out delicious, thank goodness. At four o'clock, I got a ride to Burns Park where the Center for Chinese Studies was having a picnic for all students and staff. James Lee and Albert Park both came, plus Miranda Brown, and lots of other people I haven't met. Spent most of the time talking with Dan, Helena and another girl (whose name starts with L; blasted long-term memory!). Dwight's mom complimented my muffins; in fact, they were half-gone by the end of the party, quite a success I'd say. Walked back with Helena and chatted along the way.

Biked home and got my stuff ready, because last night was Impact Sleepover Night. After the Access bible study, we all met up at the MedSci building and the guys piled into several cars for the trip to Yung's house in Canton--the girls went to Joyce's house. Yung has a beautiful home in a new neighborhood, plush white carpets, a big widescreen TV, and fabulous kitchen with the biggest oven I've ever seen. We watched a Hong Kong movie (The Duel, not recommended), during which I fell asleep. It's OK though, I think everybody was tired and we all pretty much fell asleep right afterwards. In the morning we got up early and some guys went to Krogers across the street and picked up donuts, fruit, bagels, cereal, juice, sausage and eggs. I stayed home with John and we cleaned the place to a wicked shine. By the time breakfast was ready, the girls were pulling into the driveway and we all sat down for breakfast and conversation. Afterwards, we split up into two groups, one to go shopping at a big mall and one to go home. I've gotta do laundry and run back for some more groceries, and I've got a dinner commitment tonight so I couldn't stay. What a fun group.

Oh, and the trees are turning all sorts of dazzling colors. Mom, you should be jealous.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

A previous tenant left a bottle of Pantene shampoo in the bathroom pantry, which I've comandeered. I feel very extravagant.

Two new songs:

  1. Gilbert and Sullivan - Pirates of Penzance - The Very Model.mp3
  2. Zeebra, Sphere of Influence, Nick Wiz - Culture Universal.mp3

Friday, October 10, 2003


500 g of flour
10 g of salt
200 ml of water
1 liter of oil
  1. Put the flour, salt and water in a bowl. Mix them together, kneading repeatedly until it is glossy and smooth. Try stretching out the dough until it doesn't tear. Put the dough back on the counter. Roll it out into single long pice of 60 cm by grasping it with one hand on each end and rolling it 20 to 30 times. Then put the dough on the counter, cut it into pieces, sprinkle flour over the pieces, stretch them again and repeat, cutting the pieces into more pieces and sprinkling more flour.
  2. Stick a piece into a pot of boiling oil and fry just long enough that it turns golden brown.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

How was your day? I actually switched up my schedule and came home after Chinese class to write my CCS paper. It's something I don't normally do, be at home during the middle of the day. And it was actually nice. My room has a big window that lets in plenty of light, so the atmosphere was sunny. I made myself lunch -- two burritos, sliced apple, and a glass of peach Kool-aid -- and I tapped out the paper on my computer, a machine on which I generally don't tend to get much work done. An added bonus was that the weather has returned to a more temperate state, which meant I could open up the window and door for a pleasant cross-breeze. It was heavenly.

Recently I've rediscovered one life's small pleasures: a well-made bed. I've taken to making my bed each morning after I take a shower, and it delights me immensely to return from school and find such a carefully made quilt-topped bed that I can toss my stuff onto. And getting into bed at night just feels right when I pull back the covers. It feels like somebody is taking good care of me.

During and after CCS 501 today Helena was trying to convince us that the government should apply an equal standard for length of schooling to the entire state of China, including poor provinces where schooling is currently virtually non-existant. It's a shame that we don't know as much as we could about how a schooling system is established and built up; I'm pretty sure there are some practical constraints that would severely inhibit the propogation of a mature school system to the entire country. Unfortunately I can't be sure. However, I do agree with her in principle that the rural poor shouldn't be treated like second-rate citizens and that a full nine-year public education should be made available to them free of charge, if this is the way it is done in urban areas, or the fees set in such a way that they will be in proportion to the average income in poor areas to avoid the regressive-tax phenomenon. But like I said, the only cost-effective way I see this happening is through, say, boarding schools that accomodate children from a wide rural area, and I don't think the rural poor, who tend to be farmers, would consent to sending their children away for long periods of time. I have the feeling it would take some other novel method to overcome this type of rural cultural biases in order to implement the nine year standard across the entire range of geographies and income-groups in China.

Oh, and I added 大饥荒 (great famine) to my list of Chinese political phrases. Turns out 大跃进 (Greap Leap Forward) was already there. (If you're using Mozilla, mouse over the characters to see the pinyin.)

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

In the process of clarifying the previous post, I whipped up a script to output a string that is a valid value for the datetime attribute of the HTML <ins> tag.

Nature news:

  • Chalk up another road-kill victim: a possum, couple doors down.
  • Ladybugs are invading our house. They must be migrating.

He smokes, alone.

She goes out, alone.

They're in the mood for love.

(I should probably clarify: the DVD came in the mail today)

Woo! I inspire.

The two bagels left went bad, and my lettuce went bad. What am I doing wrong?

Regexps across coding environments.

I cut off all of the external logo tags that were on my Timbuk2 bag. Sweet.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

For the record, I got emacs' PSGML set up on my UMich account. Maybe I should write up a HOW-TO.

I had an awful day today, and it was all my own darn fault. Will not stay up that late again.

Tomorrow will be better, so I'm looking to the future. Trip to the grocery store, pre-CCS501 study party in the library. And this weekend? Monday and Tuesday off for fall break!

I bought a ticket to see Vienna Teng at the Ark in Ann Arbor next Monday.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Pybliographer: bibliography software for linux.

Got the late night munchies? Access to a phone? Located in Ann Arbor, MI? Scanned Ann Arbor take-out menus, courtesy of

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Late to bed, late to rise. Oatmeal for breakfast, with brown sugar and currants. Up to Palmer Field for the H-Games, which are the church olympics. Played Ultimate afterwards with some random people who invited us. Bi-bim-pop for dinner, purposely overly hot-sauced. An hour passed on the computer at the Fishbowl. Center for Chinese Studies Film Series showed Blush. It's 10 PM.

I ordered my ticket to see Shonen Knife at the Magic Stick on Halloween. And Vienna Teng is playing at the Ark two Mondays from now. I'll add that to

Saturday, October 04, 2003

I mentioned Ann Arbor stencil art before. Pictures exist, but they don't reflect the variety of stencil art around campus.

I'm exploring Friendster, it's crazy! I looked up Matt from Caltech, then spidered out to all of my Caltech friends. Of the first two I checked, I'm already connected to them through other lines of friendship, and I only have five (mainly BOHS) friends right now. Crazy! Here's for the record:

  • You -> Amy -> Kerry -> Josh -> Joseph
  • You -> Mayor Fon -> Tommy -> Sean
  • You -> Mayor Fon -> Tommy -> Sean -> Serge
  • You -> Mayor Fon -> Kenny -> Ada -> Viet
  • You -> Mayor Fon -> Mary -> Judy -> kevin
  • You -> Amy -> Thomas -> Jennifer -> Neil
  • You -> Aaron -> Shawn [Fanning] -> Travis -> Eugene
  • You -> Mayor Fon -> Joyan -> Tony -> Jason
  • You -> Mayor Fon -> Kenny -> Ada

Apparently this is Fon's fault for having way too many friends.

Nice full day today: Chinese class in the morning was OK, but lots of homework for this weekend. Spent an hour in the Fishbowl doing research for my PS 691 essay topic, then off to Lieberthal's brown bag lunch. I caught him at the end with a question: what are your sources? Generally, he said he prefers to read the Chinese press because stuff gets lost in translation, but he also spends a lot of time talking with Chinese officials and people of influence. My language exchange partners said that Lieberthal (Li Kairu) is pretty well-known in China, at least in the government. I drew the conclusions that direct conversation and interviews are a vastly underrated source of information, and that I really need to learn Chinese so I can read the news in the original language, not in its New York Times reincarnation. One blessing that being a grad student afford me is access to the FBIS, the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, a service by the US government that translates the text of daily broadcasts, government statements, and select news stories from non-English sources around the world. Unfortunately, copyright issues forbid me from posting excerpts from the articles. (some government sites are scary.)

After lunch, finished up my paper topic proposal and turned it in, then met with Helena and our language partners, GWD and LXM, two government officials from Western China who are here studying administration. Topics ranged from the structure of provincial government in China, to how American students find a job after college, to the dangers of credit card debt.

I spent pretty much the rest of the day chatting with Helena. When language time finished, we outwaited the rain inside the Social Work Building, then hopped over to the Coffee Beanery for hot apple cider. When 7 PM was approaching, I took off to Access, which is starting a series of classes on different topics: I decided on the systematic theology class, which went over bibliology today. Unfortunately I didn't get to ask the questions I had. Basically, I have problems with fanatical and totalitarian insistence on the inerrancy of the Bible.

After Access, I flew back to the State Theater for the 9:45 showing of American Splendor. People were supposed to show up, but only it ended up being only Helena and me. That's OK! We went out to Starbucks afterwards for hot chocolate, and talked till very late at night. Helena is a charming girl, with some fascinating things to say. She has experience in the few things I can talk semi-authoritatively about (China, teaching), so it was a great conversation.

Now, time for an episode of Meteor Garden and off to bed. Gotta get up and pack lunches tomorrow morning!

Friday, October 03, 2003

I took my scarf and gloves to school today to wear on the way home. The main point was to keep my hands from freezing stiff. It worked. Now I just need to figure out how to keep my nose from getting frostbitten.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

In Access last Friday, pastor Seth reminded us that in being Christians we should praise God in everything we do. Even getting enough sleep is praise to God. I needed that reminder.

Food adventures:

  • Picked up a bundle of green onions at Krogers last week. It's getting so cold around here that I feel like an ice cube every night after I bike back from campus. The most appetizing snack I can think then is a piping hot bowl of instant ramen/udon. And let me tell you, fresh green onion make a world of difference. Fragrant, crisp, with a slight edge.
  • Coming back from bible study tonight I passed by the coffee shop kitty corner from the School of Social Work. I remembered that they sell bags of day-old bagels, so I stopped by and picked one up, four bagels for $1.59 total. I just happened to have some cream cheese in the fridge--hooray for planning ahead--so I forwent noodles tonight and had an herb bagel with cheese. Maybe I don't eat enough bagels to tell the difference, but it tasted very fresh.

Today Prof Park laughed and told me I should become an economist. That's it, I'm taking econometrics, and his Development in China class next semester.