Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pretty cool:

Chart of the Sun's altitude angles for different times of the year; swings highest in June, lowest in December.

Shanghai is at 31° of latitude so this chart should be relatively accurate.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Here's a great example of what we spend about half of Chapter 1 studying in physics:

I have a whole slew of scientists mad at me this week – and I will admit that I am pretty irritated back – because none of us cool rational analytical scientists can truly separate our emotions and our egos from the reality-based science that we do. In this current dispute, I get to claim the scientific high ground, at least. My scientific paper that just came out this week unarguably demonstrates that their scientific paper has some rather embarrassing errors.

From Mike Brown's inimitable weblog (who else can blog about discovering new dwarf planets from Caltech?), Mike Brown's Planets (also on Twitter as, love it, @plutokiller).

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Today Charlotte and I went to the Shanghai Museum while Jodi was in class. Afterwards I was resting and Charlotte was playing on the fountain in People's Square, when a young man approached me to take a survey on the environment of People's Square: how often did I come here, how long did I stay, for what purposes, what kind of feeling did the area give me, what could be improved about it, what things would I like to see more/less. One interesting question asked which buildings on the Square are good-looking and which ones are ugly (among the Shanghai Museum, the Art Museum, City Hall, City Planning Museum, and Grand Theater). In our conversation as I filled out the survey, I mentioned that I would like to see more activities on the square organized by the city and by city residents; I feel like, for a "People's" Square, the square doesn't have a lot of popular culture: no buskers, no hobbyists, no cultural activities. I also let him know that the people selling DVDs, watches and roller skates on Nanjing Rd aren't a big problem; what the city needs to focus on controlling are the art students and tea houses that hide their motives and prey on trusting tourists. Finally, I suggested that the city open one or more tourist information offices with the familiar white on blue "i" that appears so often in touristy European cities, a place where tourists can get information on hotels, tours, city landmarks, and pick up trustworthy maps. I hope my suggestions will help make People's Square a more friendly and constructive place.

Early China/East-Asia related memories:

  • As a young boy in southern Spain, buying firecrackers for pennies at the corner kiosk and examining their exploded carcasses. At that point I recognized the script as Chinese characters thought I'm not sure how.
  • In the setting, reading Ibañez comics like Mortadelo y Filemon and seeing the occasional buck-toothed, yellow-faced Chinese character wearing a Manchu hat and braid. Spain not having been a world-power in several centuries, the characters were intended to be more exotic and humorous than threatening.
  • Living in Madrid, my first memory of a family outing for Chinese food. The dishes I remember clearly were the lemon chicken (I've only ever seen this once in China) and broad, crunchy pastel shrimp chips.
  • Waking up early on Saturdays to watch Japanese people do crazy stunts on Humor Amarillo ("Yellow Humor"), a show I looked up a couple years ago as being called "Takeshi's Castle".
  • In the eighth grade, still abroad, playing table tennis nearly every day at lunch with a Korean classmate. I wondered how many summer camps (the only place I had ever played table tennis) he had attended to be so good at the sport.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Just got back from the US Visa Processing Center here in Shanghai. We applied for Maryann's passport so she can make the trips back to the US with us in December and February. I had assembled some notes before we went to make sure I would have everything; the one thing that I did not take was the documents to prove residency but the consular officer decided to trust me on that one (thanks US Consulate!) and passed us. Charlotte's picture is still up on the baby board after almost 3 years, Obama and Clinton are on the wall next to the Clinton Flag (or was that the Consular Flag?), and the consulate staff once you're inside are as friendly and helpful as ever. Cost was RMB 1035.

This article shows what a joke hunting can be:

Even as Idaho has sold more than 14,000 wolf-hunting permits, the first 10 days of the first legal wolf hunt here in decades have yielded only three reported legal kills. [...] Mr. Rachael, the state wildlife manager, said he thought it was unlikely that hunters would reach the quota of 220 wolves that Idaho game officials have said could be killed this season.

Fourteen thousand permits sold, 220 wolves to be killed, and only 3 successes. What kind of hunter produces these numbers?

[Mr. Rachael, the state wildlife manager] recalled talking to hunters who recently called looking for advice after spending a couple of days in futile pursuit: “You know,” the hunters confessed, “we don’t know how to hunt wolves.”

Neither did J. D. Hagedorn or his father, Marv, a Republican state representative. They did enjoy trying, though.

First light lined the Sawtooth Mountains as Marv Hagedorn, a 9 millimeter strapped to his thigh, a rifle ready, howled with hope into the foothills.

Nothing howled back.

He spotted an elk at ease on a ridge. A grouse ruffled. The sun rose. Canis lupus, if he was out there, kept quiet. He leaned toward his son, a 24-year-old Iraq war veteran, and whisper-giggled, “I don’t hear anything, but I don’t know if my howl’s worth anything.”

He added, “This has never been done.”


Sunday, September 06, 2009

My mother-in-law walked into the kitchen and said she had thought I was watching xiangsheng on the laptop. I was watching Conan O'Brien.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Today we had Maryann's first birthday party for friends at Zhongshan Park. We seem to like that place for important family celebrations. Lunch afterward was at the Yuhuayuan 御花园 Restaurant inside the park.


For dinner we went to the newly opened Carl's Jr in Raffles City. They really do have 19 different kinds of burgers. We got the Teriyaki Burger and a Ranch Chicken Burger; pretty good stuff. Great service: the ice maker on the soda dispenser seemed to be out of order, so a server ran into the back and got me a cup full of ice. Never had that happen at Ikea.


We caught the Shenhua vs Changchun game at Hongkou Stadium. That area is very 热闹 lively at night and we got decent tickets so we had a good time.


Now it's 12 midnight and Jodi has already hit the sack because she has her first class of the new semester tomorrow. I'm getting ready to retire as well.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

No school assemblies this week... by government order!


Mandatory temperature checks too.