Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Shanghai government is hosting a forum for a random Eurasian alliance, so a week before the event they announce that the whole city will be taking three days off (for traffic/security reasons), and making up for it by working over the weekend before. So... 9 days of work in a row, and then a five day weekend/holiday/vacation.

And Jodi's preschool has decided not to comply. Drat.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Knuth Shuffle on the TI-85:

:ClLCD :Disp "KNUTH SHUFFLE" :Disp "How many items?" :Prompt N : :seq(x,x,1,N,1)→S :For(I,1,N) :round(rand*(dimL S)+.4999,0)→D :S(D)→TEMP :S(I)→S(D) :TEMP→S(I) :End : :Disp S


Monday, May 29, 2006

Typical Day

Jodi and I wake up at 6:00. I shower, and we are out the door by 6:45. Reach the 7 o'clock metro, and eat a pastry purchased the previous afternoon. Chat until Jodi disembarks at People's Square to switch to Line 1, while I continue on to the end of Line 2, Zhangjiang High Tech Park. Catch a taxi to school, arriving at 7:50.

Go over lessons for the day, enter some grades into the computer. It's Monday, so I'll be teaching three periods of 6th grade math, great! At 8:15, rush to Statistics class. Give the kids a quick oral quiz, and then sit down as a student leads a review class. She finishes early, so we derive the equations for permutations and combinations together. The bell rings, and I head back to the math office. Make some photocopies, chat with colleagues, input more grades and collect things for class. The bell rings again, and I head down to Math 6-1: today we start a new chapter on graphing: first a discussion/lecture, then an activity, then a couple minutes to start on the homework. A long break during which I check my e-mail, and then off to Math 6-2. We have double period today, so we do the graphing lesson, and then spend a period going over the Chapter 11 test that I hand back. Immediately after class I have cafeteria duty, so I patrol the area making sure everybody clears their trays and nobody starts a food fight. When the students are nearly done, I get my own cafeteria lunch: beef in jujube sauce, tomato scrambled eggs, green veggies (add hot pepper sauce), and rice. Finish eating, then head back to the office to grade some test and homework corrections, browse Metafilter and Shanghaiist, read a backlog of AP-Stats listserve e-mail, and check out some cool math software. Four thirty rolls around, and I head home.

First, though, I message Jodi and remind her that I'm cooking tonight. So I head to the veggie market down the street from school and buy a buncha stuff that looks good: carrots, broccoli, Peking duck, large green onion, some under-ripe peaches... Just as I finish shopping, the bus rolls up so I run and catch it. I eventually get all the stuff in my bag, which means I have a big stalk of green onion sticking out of the top of my backpack. Ah well, foreigners do the strangest things. On the metro, I find a seat and dig the last 5 mao out of my pocket to buy a Shanghai Evening Post from the illegal newsies that wander the metro cars, but I start to doze off so I give up on reading it.

Wake up as we pull into Zhongshan Park. In the station, stop at Libo Dairy to pick up tomorrow's breakfast. On the way home I pass by Da Niang Dumplings and decide to pick up a dozen or so to accompany dinner. Arrive at home ten minutes later to find that Jodi is not home. In the hallway as I exit the elevator I find a preschool aged boy blowing bubbles, and his grandmother knitting beside him. Inside, I say hi to Poopy and tidy up the house. A call to Jodi confirms that she's out getting her hair done (she just curled it, and is getting it retouched-up), and will be back in an hour or so. I check my e-mail and read some weblogs, and take Poopy out to play.

 Jodi gets home, and I fix dinner while she folds laundry. I put together a sub-par selection of northern Chinese food, and Jodi over-praises it to the point where I'm absolutely sure that she just wants me to take over dinner permanently. Graciously, though, she offers to do the dishes. I put that idea on hold by suggesting a walk. We head over to the square in front of Zhongshan Park and watch the ballroom dancers for a long time. It's nice to enjoy the fresh air, and a stroll is just the right thing after a good meal. We pick up a small cup of milk tea, and then head home. We dawdle a bit, sitting on a bench in front of our apartment building and watching the non-existent stars. At the current moment we're upstairs, Jodi's doing the dishes while I write this and then continue working on our wedding invitation. It's almost time for bed, though: 12pm.

Good night.

Friday, May 26, 2006

TGIF! From today's math test:

9. The distances involved in measuring our solar system are very, very large. For example, Earth is about 1.50×108 kilometers from the Sun on average, while Pluto, the furthest planet, averages an enormous 5.75×109 kilometers away from the Earth! [3 pts each]

a) Convert both numbers to standard form.

b) What is the distance from the Sun to Pluto? Express your answer in scientific notation.

I can't get Miktex to install on my school computer, or I'd have fancy equation graphics thrown in above.

It's looking to be a nice weekend.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Multimedia from Shanghai:

In fact, several of YouTube user ulibee's videos might tickle your fancy, like Shanghai Streetlife, 04/29/06, China sleeping? and Beijing, Hutong: Street Controversy.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Jodi and I found this restaurant called 捞来捞起 on Dingxi Rd just south of Yan'an Xi Rd (just a stroll north of C's Bar) that makes very authentic Chansha mifen noodles in various spicy and not-so-spicy flavors. This marks the culmination of our long search for authentic Hunanese 米粉, from the ghetto place near Hongkou (decent flavor, but with round noodles instead of the requisite flat), to the cheap 湘菜 Hunanese place next to the Grand Gateway in Xujiahui (flat noodles, but just average broth and ingredients), to our final destination, 捞来捞起. The great things about it are that the flavor from the broth really seeps into the noodles, that all the broths are distinctly flavored (as opposed to, say, Ajisen's one-flavor-fits-all broth), that the side dishes are to die for ('specially the 卤味豆腐干 and the 阿婆绿豆汁), and best of all that it's a 15 minute walk from our place.

Where do you stand in the 021 Bar/Shanghai Underground Rock controversy? I've been out of the scene for a while so I wasn't there for the height of the drama, but by reviewing the thread I link to above you can get the general idea: a run-down bar in the Yangpu district run by some "rock immigrants" from Xiamen, has the support of local favorites San Huang Ji, over-enthusiastically and haphazardly organizes concerts, sometimes announcing bands who later deny that they had been contracted to play.

I've been there once, a couple months ago on a failed mission to get a cartilage piercing for Jodi (too dirty was the verdict). San Huang Ji was practicing at the time. The guy who helped us was friendly, showing off his belly-button piercing, but clearly drunk and in no condition to do a sensitive piercing.

My take is, the place is grungy but it seems ideal for a rock bar to me. I wouldn't blame them for the low quality of concerts: I mean, the Shuffle Bar showed up at the beginning of the slump too (actually even closer to the point than the 021 bar). I think the Shanghai kids are just too, ahem, prissy to go to a place like that. I agree with toulang618 when he says:


"I've read a lot of your posts, and what you guys are looking for is basically part-time rockers, guys who work on the side to support their rock habit; that's why Shanghai will never be like Beijing, never have that intensity, because Shanghainese are incapable of being devoted 100% to the music."

We can't let 021 Bar off the hook for being grunge, though. Making up concerts and posting the as real is just lame and hurts the indie rock scene. As usual, no real-world problem is black and white, and this is the black spot in this spat.

Still, I think Shanghai needs a range of venues, from polished (Shuffle, Tang Hui) to quality roots (Yuyintang) to down-and-dirty come-one-come-all type middle-of-nowhere places like 021 Bar, in order to promote an all-around, sustainable development of the rock scene. The number of venues for quality indie music is shooting up in Shanghai, soooo much better than it was a couple of years ago when I rolled, er stumbled, into town. I mean, finally I can stop dropping by Xintiandi to pick up Ark brochures, hooray!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Hello Pizza's Delivery webpage now has an "Order Online" button, but when clicked it's simply a broken link. I guess that's progress, but not exactly what I was hoping for.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The one thing that I really miss from Outlook after switching to Google Calendar is the task list: make a new task, check off old tasks, and checked-off tasks are removed from the list at restart. A while ago I had tried a site called Remember The Milk (or something like that) a while ago, as well as Ta-da List, but none of them had any feature that made up for their annoying attempts at cuteness, or Ajax quirks.

Hope!Today I think I found an online app that suits my needs: Voo2do. It minimizes the Ajax, doesn't push a cutesy interface on me, and has a killer feature that is helping me to take better advantage of my time: a column entitled "orig est" where you can enter an estimate of the time a task will take you to complete. Being given a hard estimate for how long a task will take helps me to stick short projects into small bits of free time, and save longer projects for when I have time to work them straight through.

My only current wishes for it are better project management, perhaps through tagging, and integration with Gmail.

Monday, May 15, 2006

This week's "This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics" is surprisingly digestable. For a dose of real hard-core science, check it out.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

For those of you who enjoy this kind of thing (few and far between, I'm finding) I found that the roof of the still-under-construction 龙之梦 mall at Zhongshan Park is accessible through a set of non-working escalators from the 8th floor. It gives a pretty nice view of the light rail station and former campus of Huadong University. It's being fitted with wooden "boardwalk" style floor and will probably be part of the hotel when it is finished. It's a nice bit of "urban exploring", like I said, if you're into that sort of thing. I've been up there twice, and nobody has ever said anything.

Friday, May 12, 2006

I've been posting some photos from my new camera to Flickr the last couple days. As soon as I work out some credit card trouble (gotta figure out how to call Visa in the USA collect) and the Changning District China Telecom office sends a person over to activate our broadband, I will upgrade to a Pro account and go crazy with the uploads.

I haven't had the chance to get out-and-about with the camera but there are a few places where I'm itching to sit down and excercise that mean 12x telephoto, or take a walk around and get some detail shots:

  • The train station's south square.
  • The older neighborhoods north of Nanjing East Road.
  • Zhongshan Park.
  • Suzhou Creek.

Monday, May 08, 2006

I bought a new camera, a Canon PowerShot S3 IS.

You should be seeing more, high-quality pictures on this weblog soon.

Now if only I can find a user manual in English...

I spent about an hour or so the other day trying to find a source and good translation for 牛人, and came up with nothing. But I've been noticing it around more and more. In fact it seems so widespread and the usage so particular that I'm convinced it's not related to 牛屄.

Friday, May 05, 2006


First things I do on a fresh net-cafe Firefox install:

  1. Hide the Bookmarks Toolbar (View > Toolbars > Bookmarks Toolbar (uncheck).)
  2. Turn on Find-as-you-type (Tools > Options > Advanced > Begin finding when you begin typing (check).)

Sounds that gave me a hard time when I started learning Chinese, but are no longer a problem:

  1. Pinyin 'r'.

Sounds that were no problem when I started learning Chinese, but now give me a hard time:

  1. Pinyin 'e', whether it makes different sounds in 'en' and in 'meng'.