Thursday, September 25, 2008

A kind person wrote me an e-mail asking me to make an improvement on a little known but often stumbled-upon section of my web server, the Shanghai Bus Routes in English project. The project's big failing is that it has always lacked a way to search the routes for a specific stop.

The letter-writer's idea was simple and elegant: generate one giant web page with all of the bus routes on it and let the web browser do the searching. So I got to work and 10 minutes (cat and a few of emacs' query-replaces) later I have a working product. Be careful, though, it is almost one megabyte in size so if you intend to use it often it is better to download a copy to your own computer.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

This is a short entry to recommend to my friends the Rachel's Random Ramblings weblog, which has lots of photos and commentary on South Korea. The latest entry is particularly intriguing, translating a bunch of signs and ads on the Korean subway.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Thursday, September 18, 2008

A poll on 开心网, a Chinese Facebook knock-off:

Which Fads Did You Do In 2008 (Choose up to 19)

Bob your hair: 1122 (12%)
Guy and girls all wear vests (not talking about online "alts", also called vests): 1171 (13%)
Wear a scarf in summer: 375 (4%)
Get married: 493 (5%)
Have an "Olympic" baby: 176 (2%)
Watch the Olympic Opening Ceremony: 7402 (80%)
Watch the Olympic Closing Ceremony: 4614 (50%)
Watch the Special Olympics Opening Ceremony: 1623 (18%)
Donate to the earthquake victims: 7889 (85%)
Look at the Edison Chen photo scandal pics: 7561 (82%)
Take advantage of shopping sales season: 1735 (19%)
Go to an SM TOWN concert: 45 (0%)
Go to an Arashi concert: 78 (1%)
Go to an Ayumi Hamasaki concert: 78 (1%)
Go to some other concert: 1388 (15%)
Listen to the Olympic theme song over and over: 1720 (19%)
Register on Kaixinwang: 8653 (94%)
Follow the Chen Shuibian money-laundering story: 2177 (24%)
None of the above...: 108 (1%)
Volunteer (for the Olympics): 218 (2%)

席麦卡 09月18日 14:24 投票给“生个奥运宝宝”、“看奥运开幕式”、“看奥运闭幕式”、“为地震捐款”、“看陈冠希的艳照”、“看其他人演唱会”、“上开心网”

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Jiangnan green

This is the entrance to a little street that I love, a 10 minute walk from our house and a 2 minute walk from a future Line 2 metro station.

Five Good Home

A door along the above street.

Going wireless

Back at home, Charlotte surfs the internet from our bed.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Micah on...

The US election
I hope the president is somebody strong enough to surround himself with people of character. Because if there's anything we learned from this last administration (Jon Stewart voice: and ooooh, how much we've learned) the presidency is as much about the team around the president as it is about the commander-in-chief himself.

In science, we use facts ("a close agreement by competent observers of a series of observations of the same phenomena") to formulate new hypotheses, and hypotheses as the basis for experiments which will generate new facts. Actually, this feedback cycle is a useful pattern for many different things in life, including religion. A religion is useful for interpreting spiritual and philosophical facts, but facts should also inform and refine a religion. Historically, the first has been emphasized while the second has been neglected.

The Olympics
They shouldn't have been given to Beijing. Maybe Shanghai or Guangzhou.

I've been to a couple of private parties in the neighborhood recently, with colleagues from work, semi-reluctantly for reasons I won't go into. I was pretty awkward. I need to get off the internet and arrange more outings with real friends.

Ever since they came up on Twitter, I've had my Smashing Pumpkins collection on repeat and am reveling in the 90s nostalgia: Gish was raw, Siamese Dreams was the pinnacle, Mellon Collie was the masterpiece, and once Jimmy left it sorta went downhill. This afternoon I dug out a Pizzicato Five album for Charlotte because it's more upbeat and she likes to dance, Sister Freedom Tapes. She likes Jay Z's Hard Knock Life for the Annie sample, too.

Where you live
Living in Ann Arbor was good for me because I took away the importance of taking the initiative in building up your community, or creating one where there is none. When Jodi and I think about long-term plans, the possibility of moving back to Changsha comes up but never really seriously. It's attractive to me because deep down I still feel the repulsion towards Shanghai that I did when I first came here. It'd be like leaving New York for Pittsburgh, if that makes sense. First I'd have to convince Jodi that I could get a job.

I have a real populist streak in me when it comes to history; think Zinn's America, or applying that to Shanghai, Lu's Beyond the Neon Lights. I think Chinese-language sources of Shanghai history are untapped by Western historians. I look down my nose at certain Shanghai historians and their methods.

I was really hoping for a boy, but have managed to convince myself that karma/God brought about our second daughter and therefore it is justified and correct.

We haven't gone out in a long time because of the pregnancy and the traditional Chinese postnatal rest period. I've been eating my mother-in-law's cooking for too long now, and I'm craving a hamburger. Or anything that's not soft/wilted and oily/saucy.

Pizzicato Five - Domino

Sunday, September 14, 2008

So David Foster Wallace (who?) died, and now I'm confused. One of my high school classmates wrote that she was "in shock" over the death of this "brilliant" author. The Metafilter thread linking to his obit has over 300 comments. Me, I've got nothing but a passing acquaintance with the name in that sort of "I'd guess it on Jeopardy if I had no idea what the answer was" sort of way. Am I the wrong generation? Was it growing up outside the US? Having conservative Christian parents? Why had I basically never heard of him?

My Clear Bag:

If life were a video game, MY CLEAR BAG would be the weapon that you buy with accumulated coins, or the talisman you steal from some dead guy. But, thankfully, this is China, a peaceful nation with some special socialist tendencies, and there are plenty for all! In a nation that loves homogeneity and inconspicuous behavior as much as China, there is no better tool to help you blend in. You can––and you should––buy one from your corner store.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

America in a nutshell:

I have them, they suck, you deal with them.

(From here.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Once again, my hobby of looking up the families of world leaders rears its head.

Kim Jong-Il and relatives in 1981.

Kim Jong-Il's (金正日) third concubine Ko Young-hee (高英姬), quite the looker.

I think I've pointed out the BBC's page on the Korean first-family before.


The mantou monster. Painted with 香辣牛肉酱, oh man I love that stuff.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Its amazing because anywhere else in Asia that wouldn't have happened but the Chinese are definitely more out-going and friendly towards westeners. The ceremony itself was expensive and we bought some of the tea we tried for bringing home but was worth it. After the ceremony we exchanged emails and we went on our way towards the maglev train.

For the Public Transportation weblog I've subscribed to the Google Blogsearch for "shanghai subway OR metro" and I get a TON of posts from people just passing through Shanghai or staying here short term. It's interesting to see the city from that perspective, but sometimes I just cringe when I read stories like the above.

EDIT: and another, and another.

EDIT: and another. Is the beginning of the schoolyear busy season for the tea scam?

Resting after a hard night

Charlotte was a little jealous when we brought Maryann home: she wouldn't go to sleep for her afternoon nap and got fussy when Jodi fed Maryann on our bed. She's a good kid, though, and won't take long to adapt.

Maryann has been sleeping for most of the afternoon. The only time she cried was when she pooped in her diaper, and when Charlotte was crying because she didn't want to nap.

This sounds like some things I've heard at SMIC as well:

Classes are going better. By the way, I think I told you about the breakdown of the student population - 40% white, 40% Chinese, 20% mix of European and African? Well, not so. Most students are Korean and CHinese. I think I have a total 10 Americans from my 5 classes. Get this!!! Most Korean families send their kids to academies which the kids attend after school sometimtes until midnight and then all Saturday. The idea is that the students may attend Korean Universities which are apparently tougher than other countries' schools. So why not just go to the academies? WHy go to the American School? They feel the American School is good simply for learning English. Now, I'll tell you, our school is rigorous - at least that's what I've seen so far. Holy crap. I've got kids falling asleep in my classes. What do I do? It's crazy. I've emailed counselors for advice. Interestingly, I haven't heard from them yet. Hmmmm...

Personally, I haven't had any students fall asleep on me yet. If they do then we'll have to do something about it too.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The baby is coming in the next couple of days. Jodi's in the hospital with her mom and Charlotte, and I've run back home to shower and grab some things we didn't have time to get yesterday.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A letter to the editor in the Jamaica Gleaner signs off with:

I am, etc.,
Miami, FL

What does "I am, etc." mean? I have a guess, and a Google search confirms it:

It means:
"I am, and remain, your most obediant servant, and await your answer with attentive blah blah blah blah blah."

As I thought.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Monkey Charlotte

The weather has been very, very nice lately. Walking back from work the last two days I've run into Jodi's mom accompanying Charlotte on the playground below our apartment, and had the opportunity to relieve her and spend some time with Charlotte outside. Today Jodi got back from the hospital while we were outside (all's normal) and had her camera so we snapped a few photos.

After talking it over with Jodi and thinking about the alternatives, I decided to go ahead with the ME program that my school is offering. I believe that the American ME plus a good score on the HSK will be enough to get me down the career path that I'm hoping for, plus open up a few extra doors farther down the line. Here's to hoping lots of people sign up so the discount is bigger!

Palin’s Teen Daughter Is Pregnant; New G.O.P. Tumult:

“Our people were not involved in any way in this and they will not be,” Mr. Obama snapped. “And if I ever thought there was somebody in my campaign that was involved in something like that, they'd be fired, OK?”

Mr. Obama said the pregnancy “has no relevance to Governor Palin's performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president.” He added that, “my mother had me when she was 18. How family deals with issues and teen-age children — that shouldn't be the topic of our politics.”

Obama walks the walk. The earlier quote by McCain strategist Steve Schmidt about the questions we ask of men and women is also worth considering.

Restaurant sleeper

Charlotte can spring up single steps now by herself. Going down is still a big challenge. And yes, this picture has nothing to do with it.