Thursday, December 29, 2005

If I wasn't picking up Mom and Annie at the airport in a few hours, I'd be at the Shanghai Webloggers December Meetup. Annie's flight has been delayed and will arrive at about 10:30pm, which means she will miss a ride on the Maglev!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas report!

On Saturday the 24th, Jodi worked in the morning and I went Christmas shopping. I got a message from Chris inviting us to go karaoke-ing that night, so Jodi met me in front of the Häagen-Dazs at Raffle's City and we had mediocre sushi at the place just south of Raffles before metro-ing down to Xujiahui. We passed Dairy Queen on the way to 扬歌 (Younger) Karaoke, so we sat out in front of Oriental Plaza and shared a banana strawberry blizzard. When we got to the karaoke place it was nearly 11pm, and we found Asa, Yan Ling, Chris and Alain waiting for a room. We sat around eating candy and playing UNO for more than two hours until a room opened up. Then we made up for the long wait by singing until 6am. Well, at least Jodi and the rest made it to 6am: I fell asleep at about 3 or 4. Jodi says I'm an old man.

So we took a taxi home, and then slept for most of Christmas Day. In the evening, we got up and lit the candle, read the Christmas story, opened presents, and went out to dinner at a place advertising itself as "New Concept Hunanese Cuisine" (新概念湖南料理); Jodi got a kick out of that. On the walk back, we picked up a hot chocolate at Starbucks and a couple of DVDs. That night we watched Hong Yan—I'm now a fan of movies about 1980s China—and I was tickled to see Kaizer Kuo in the credits, for translating the interstitials, I think.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Blond jokes: some are bad, some are good, some are just re-hashes of other kinds of jokes, and some are plain hilarious.

There's this myth in the Shanghai expat community that the Shanghai Library is somehow real expensive to use. Over the past week, I set out to bust that myth, and was very pleasantly rewarded: not only is library membership insanely cheap, the library is also set in an incredibly beautiful building and equipped with a broad range of resources.

Besides a plethora of Chinese books and journals, there is an AV room equipped with personal viewing stations, an exhibition hall currently hosting a display on Chinese musicians, a newspaper room with hundreds of periodicals from all over China, a rare books library, a bookstore, a patent and law library, a net cafe, and cafeteria. The top floor is devoted to foreign language books, newspapers and journals. I was able to read the Los Angeles Times for the first time in months, albeit a two-week-old edition. Also the library has cheap-o self-produced brochures advertising their activities and departments, photocopied onto pastel colored paper just like libraries at home!

Here is the posted table of membership fees:

Shanghai Library Membership Fee Schedule
Membership LevelFeeDuration
普通外借功能 (Standard Check-out)RMB 10One year
临时阅览功能 (Temporary Reader)RMB 5One month
普通阅览功能 (Standard Reader)RMB 5One year
参考阅览功能 (Research Reader)RMB 25One year
参考外借功能 (Research Check-out)RMB 50One year

Standard membership has access to ordinary Chinese materials; check-out priveleges carry an RMB 100 deposit requirement. Research membership gives you access to extended materials, including foreign books, newspapers and magazines; check out priveleges carry an RMB 1000 deposit requirement. For my purposes—checking out Chinese materials, reading American papers—the Research Reader level was appropriate.

To get to the Shanghai Library, take the metro to Hengshan Rd, use Exit 2 and turn right down Gaoan Rd (高安路). Walk about 10 minutes and the library will be on your right.

Personal news:

  • Jodi passed her psychology test, so she's one step closer to getting an elementary-school teaching certificate.
  • I went for a pre-interview at an international school and it went swimmingly. If all goes well at the official interview next week, I'll be teaching math and making a decent wage.
  • Our house got broken into a couple nights ago. We lost Jodi's cellphone, my digital camera, and a shoulder-bag with my college diploma in it.
  • The house is decorated, the Christmas story book prepared, and the oven out. We're ready for Christmas.
  • Mom and Annie come to visit in 5 days.

I'm going to the Top-Floor Circus show tonight. Is anybody else?

Also, I finally saw Bend It Like Beckham last night after avoiding it for years. I have to admit it was pretty good, even if was a little exoticizing.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hey folks, it's a weblogger party!

On Friday January 6 from 8 PM onwards will organize it's first annual New Year Party. This year's theme will be "Gluehwein & Gaming"... During the party we will have traditional German Gluehwein and you can bring your favourite video games to play against the Toodou crew on a huge screen. If you prefer beer, whiskey, wodka or just a coke or water, no problem - we have that as well.

The party will take place in Toodou's warehouse office along the hip Suzhou Creek.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

So today I finished my month-long refactoring of the perl script that builds my homepage. If everything looks the same, that's a good thing! Underneath the surface, the script is a lot more beautiful and extendable. Personally, I came away with a much better understanding of object-oriented programming in Perl, a better feel for the advantages (and shortcomings) of several new Perl modules (the Perl Advent Calendar can rest well, knowing that it has introduced at least one hobbyist to the magical world of CPAN), and (for the umpteenth time I say this) thanks to Devel::Peek I think I finally have a handle on doing Unicode properly with Perl.

For the record, here is the list of modules I'm now using in this script:

use strict;
use utf8;
use lib "/home/msittig/local/lib/perl5/site_perl";
use CGI qw{:standard};
use XML::Feed ;
use XML::RSS;
use Data::Dumper::Simple;
use Image::Size;
use DateTime ;
use DateTime::TimeZone ;
use Date::DayOfWeek;
use Date::Calc ;
use Date::Parse ;
use Calendars::Net;
use File::Find;
use Encode ;
use Getopt::Long ;
use HTML::Template ;
use IO::All ;
use DateTime::Format::W3CDTF ;
use Digest::MD5 qw( md5_hex ) ;
use DateTime::Format::Strptime ;
use Devel::Peek ;

And the before-and-after comparison (wc outputs line, word, and byte counts, in that order):

[msittig@wubi ~/msittig_html]# wc before.cgi && wc after.cgi 1127 4879 35103 build.cgi 983 3662 28270 msittig.cgi

Now, to go out and get some sunshine!

Friday, December 16, 2005

I was sick for a couple of days, but I'm back on my feet thanks to a rockin' girlfriend, Tylenol, oranges, and the electric blanket.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

John just wrote a post about how he likes Douban. Yeah, I signed up and added a few books too. And at first I think it's cool, but then looking at the tag cloud for similar site Reader² (Dan Brown? Orson Scott Card? Neal Stephenson? no thanks...) I wonder if all this aggregation isn't just a way to kill individuality, promote homogeneity. I imagine it's a danger. Of course, these things are only tools.

What's this?

It's my hand holding the end of an item made of cloth, mysteriously standing out horizontally from my grasp.

It's a sock that I washed last night and brought in this morning. When I pulled in the hanger I discovered that the socks were mysteriously stiff, unbending even under the force of of their own weight. After a minute or two resting on the bed, they became soft, and wet. Can you guess why?

Monday, December 12, 2005

I made a post to Shanghai Streets:

How do we translate band names to English? This is typically what I do (for example, I'm trying to translate 迷窗):

  1. Use Google/Baidu to search for previous translations.
    [search for "迷窗 rock" or "迷窗 music"]
    This is probably a new band, because I can't find anything.
  2. Use Google/Baidu to search for translations of the words in online vocab lists.
    [search for "迷窗 glossary" or "迷窗 vocabulary" or "迷窗 english"]
    Nothing again.
  3. Drill down to the meanings of individual characters.
    [search for "迷窗 window" or "迷窗 fan"]
    Turns up 铁道迷窗/"Railfan Window" as the front window on a certain train, where train enthusiasts like to ride, but I'm guessing that's not what the band means.
  4. Use Google/Baidu to do a search for the band name, and then read the context to do my own translation.
    [search for "迷窗"]
    Turns up the phrase 暗迷窗晓 and other stuff, but as is often the case I'm clueless.
  5. Resort to the dictionary, or 成语 dictionary.
    [look up 暗迷窗晓]
    Except my dictionary is currently packed away in a box somewhere.

My favorite band names from a translation perspective are 发条橙 (had NO idea this was the name of a world-famous movie, came to me out of left-field), 三黄鸡 (I was translating this as "three yellow chickens" for months, before finding out that it's the name of a Shanghainese dish made of chicken with three shades of yellow), and 冷酷仙境 (after debating with friends about the connotations of the band's choice of translation for months again, I find out that the same phrase was used in(/comes from?) the title of one of Haruki Murakami's most famous books).

Oh, and can any native Chinese speaker help me to figure out what 迷窗 means, or where it comes from?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

This looks interesting:

Interested in podcasting or learning Chinese? Would you like to meet Ken, Jenny and the rest of the ChinesePod team? Do you listen to ChinesePod in the shower? If you answered yes to question three please stop reading...

Ok. The rest of you are cordially invited to attend the first ever ChinesePod meetup in Shanghai on 14th at 7pm at the Big Bamboo restaurant & bar conveniently located on 132 NanYang Road and TongRen Road, behind the Portman Hotel.

More information on the ChinesePod weblog.

Oh, and good news: Shanghai Bus Net is back online!

Friday, December 09, 2005

For some reason I'm getting a bunch of Italian hits looking for Mu Zimei (木子美) information. Here's the latest I can find on her:

木子美's new weblog:
Link: 木子美的博客
Last update: 2005-10-23
木子美 podcasts:
Link: 木的工作室
Last update: 2005-12-7

I haven't listened to the podcasts, or read her weblog recently; but I would be cautious about crediting the content to her, because Sina has recently admitted to posting pre-published copy to keep up their celebity blogs active, and I wouldn't put the same past Bokee.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Random rock/club scene stuff

I get an e-mail from a friend/associate telling me there's reason to make up with Harley's. Here's to hoping.

DJ SynRG on Shanghai clubbers:

Shanghai has two kinds of clubbers, club/bar hoppers and table clubbers. The problem with your idea is that [table] clubbers totally outweigh club/bar hoppers in this market. From a table clubbers point of view, the concept of prepartying (which is also a really western cocept) pretty much makes no sense, cuz if you show up to your table tanked then it's gonna be that much harder to hit your zui di xiao fei, or minimum table spend.. plus you'll prolly do something embarrassing like puke all over your table, etc. To most clubbers here, you wanna get your money's worth IN THE CLUB, cuz you're gonna have to spend it one way or another.

New Windows sportsbar at Huaihai and Sinan Rds. First reviews say: Windows prices without the Windows "crowd".

I'm somewhere in these pics, just barely, and so are Jodi and Amanda. A handful of awesome points for whoever finds us.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Yesterday in the waaay too cold weather that has sprung upon Shanghai over the weekend, I went out with a Shanghai Expat acquaintance for a self-guided and sorta rambling tour of the French concession. We wandered through the Moller House garden and watched as a buncha migrant workers redid the lawn, climbed to the fourth floor in one of a set of apartments built in the 1930's by a French-Catholic charity organization, and took photos of the Greek-Orthodox church that recently housed a Spanish restaurant and then was vacated after protests from members of the faith. I took some pics, but Aaron had a better camera and managed to get them online more quickly.

My pictures are online now.

Oh man, I'm digging on these 怪味化生 (weird-tasting peanuts; literally, that's their official name) I picked up at Carrefour yesterday. They're like Boston Baked Beans, except the ingredients are peanuts, sugar, flour, hot-pepper powder, and vegetable oil.

Friday, December 02, 2005


That's the first line on an ad posted on the long bulletin board near the back gate of Shanghai International Studies University. Apparently "Mr Subut" is looking for a partner in crime, "male", "between 17 and 21", and "with a basic knowledge of rapping". Interested? E-mail me, I can go back and get the phone number.

More Shanghai news:

The former flower market came down yesterday:

From the Sina News Center:


One the morning of November 30th, 2005, the first in what will be a series of demolition by dynamite was carried out at the Cultural Square in the heart of metropolitan Shanghai. Cultural Square was a site of historical value for the city. The first building to be demolished was a former theater of pillarless construction, capable of holding over 10,000 people; it was five stories tall, 17 meters high, and covered an area of 3,400 square meters. Reconstruction on the site of the demolition will begin next year.

The site goes on to mention that the former French Concession canidrome and once-center of colonial social life maintained 浓重的殖民地或政治化色彩, "a musty colonial/politicized odor".

Also both online and in the 青年报 today are reports of pollution clean-up work along the Suzhou Creek. Although the Shanghai Daily (gracing us with the delightful image of "a yellowish 'waterfall' of excrement") it says that monitoring is near impossible, the Youth Daily promises that round-the-clock automated monitoring of water quality will be implemented along 上海的母亲河, "Shanghai's mother-stream". I had heard that in the old days, rowing teams competed along the Suzhou Creek and I wondered why we don't see those today. Putting this news together with the trash barges I see whenever I cross it, I no longer wonder, and at the same time I'm hopeful. Maybe it's time to take up kayaking?

Finally, the Shanghai Daily (again; hey, they're a pretty decent paper) reports that a joint-venture has been formed between the Rockefeller Group and the New Huangpu Group to renovate "a section of the Bund at the intersection of Huangpu River and Suzhou Creek". I've been noticing that an empty lot just before the 外白渡桥/Garden Bridge has been cleared, and a set of older buildings behind the lot is now visible. Hopefully the involvement of the Rockefeller will help prevent another "renovation" like the one happening at Culture Square.