Monday, December 31, 2007

Seven Reasons to Cheer for Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl

I'm well aware that most of you are not college football fans. Honestly, I'm not so much either. But in case you end up watching the Sugar Bowl today, here are seven irrefutable reasons you should cheer for Hawaii and not the Georgia Bulldogs.

1. It's hard to get any more underdog than Hawaii. Not only is the school the lower-ranked projected-to-lose team for this game, as a school, they've only played once - ONCE! - in a bowl on the mainland in the entire school's history. And now they find themselves in the Sugar Bowl, a BCS Matchup. It's time for the little guy.

2. They are a fun team to watch, tossing the ball all over the field with 3 and 4 and 5 people running out to catch it. It's a blast.

3. We are the Rainbow Warriors; and use to just be the Rainbows. How many athletic teams do you know named after color displays?

4. A cheer for Hawaii is a cheer for me. And who wouldn't cheer for me? Besides, if you know anyone in Georgia, I'm nicer than them anyway, admit it. And if you disagree, I'll kick your ass.

5. This is the single most important sporting day in the history of the state. We have no professional teams, no NFL, NBA, MLS, etc. The U of H is it. UH as WAC Champion t-shirts have been flying off the rack; thousands of Hawaiians are flying to Nawlins for the game. While some schools are moping around, all depressed, because they were forced to go to the Citrus Bowl when they are sure they deserved the Orange, close to 10,000 people showed up at the stadium just to hear the announcement that we were going to the Sugar Bowl. It's hard to overstate how excited the island is.

6. Much of the team is Samoan. How often do you get to cheer for Samoans? Other than this one guy I remember in Mid-South Wrestling in 1982, never. Cheer for these guys.

7. And best of all, our guys do the Hawaiian Ha'a Dance. Yeah, the Grambling and Southern half-time shows are probably better, but this is done by the actual football players.

Go 'Bows!

(and mumble, I get 32 points if they win, mumble, mumble)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2008

Someone on Yahoo declared 10 movies as the most anticipated of 2008 with links to each of their trailers. I have now watched each trailer and am here to declare whether or not I anticipate them.

Here is the Yahoo link so you can watch them all yourselves.

1) Cloverfield

The is one of the few that I've done research on, other than watching the trailer. This has gotten great marketing from the teaser trailer that appeared before the Transformers movie that had no title and ended with the head of the Statue of Liberty flying through the air. I got caught up a bit in researching what the movie was: rumors included a new Godzilla movie and someone finally bringing the H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu horror lore to the big screen. My older brother was a big Lovecraft fan and I knew a fair amount of it from him. In the end, it's a simple monster movie, to all appearances. There's been some odd viral web site tie-ins, including a faux Japanese drink called Slusho! As far as anyone can tell, the rough plot might be that Slusho! was doing some deep sea drilling for ingredients for the Slusho! drink in the deep Atlantic and may have released the Monster. The movie then seems to be done entirely with sort of hand-held cameras. I don't know if the movie will be good or not, but it has the potential to be iconic, particularly for teens and college age. The best news is that the movie is out in 3 weeks, so the rumors will be done soon for good or bad.

2) Rambo

Well, this time Rambo gets to take out some Burmese soldiers. While I certainly felt like taking out some of the Burmese military myself after their beatings and killings of civilians and monks a couple months ago, I think I'll be skipping this one. The movie looks like a decent version of what you'd expect from a new Rambo movie. Eh. For the record, First Blood was fine.

3) Horton Hears a Who

Due to my familial circumstances, this might be the most likely movie for me to actually see, being based on a Dr. Seuss book, but the trailer was so-so. I like the creative take on Seuss' world to be seen at the beginning, and it has Carol Burnett doing a voice, but... eh. I don't run out to see Carol Burnett things, but I remember as a kid there were only a few shows that all of the family enjoyed, kids and adults -- Fawlty Towers, the Muppet Show, and the Carol Burnett Show.

4) Ironman

Looks like pure fluff and I'm all over this one. I've always liked the idea of Ironman since I was a kid. I was never a comic reader, but I wanted to be Ironman. And the cast here is rather weird for a completely ludicrous movie about a guy who flies around in an iron suit. Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow? Next thing you know someone like Ang Lee will be making a movie about the Incredible Hulk, and... oh, never mind. Yeah, I'm anticipating this one.

5) Speed Racer

You know, I think I should be excited about this movie. Combining kitschy Japanese anime from the 60s with the Matrix directors..., but it doesn't do much for me. I bet it would be fun. It's got Chirstina Ricci, so that's something.

6) Prince Caspian

Well, anyone one who's been around this blog for a while probably knows I am a C.S. Lewis fan and grew up on the Narnia books. As long as the preview doesn't look like it's going to butcher my childhood, I will be there. I get the impression, they've gone further afield this time with the movie, adding new battle scenes that never existed. But one of the made-up scenes has Susan being flown though the air by a griffin with her bow, and even though that's completely alien to Lewis, it looks like a lot of fun to me. After B watched the preview with me about 6 times today (he thought it much better than Horton Hears a Who), I went out and bought the Read Aloud Edition of Prince Caspian for bedtimes.

7) Sex and the City


Now, to be fair, the trailer so far is just a teaser trailer and it pretty much amounts to, "here, see some images of those characters you love from the TV show! Now they are in a movie!" But since I never watched the TV Show (I saw part of one episode once) that is of no use to me. Maybe when the full trailer comes out, I will discover actual jokes or plot or something and be more interested.

8) Wall-E

This is the latest Pixar flick and the best news is that in the trailers there are no computer-animated humans, because humans always look freaky to me in these flicks, while I buy pretty much everything else. Again, we only have teaser trailers at this point, but they get huge bonus points for using the music from Terry Gilliam's Brazil in it. Looks good so far. Count me in as anticipating.

9) Wanted

Here we have James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, and Angelina Jolie, all of which are plusses, as assassins based on a comic novel of the same name. I'd probably enjoy this movie if I saw it, though since I only see about 5 adult movies a year, I don't know if I will spend one of those here. If you watch the trailer, I love the complete BS false dichotomy between meaningless existence in a cubicle or... assassin! No middle ground exists. However, I might see this just because James McAvoy was Mr. Tumnus, the faun, in the first Narnia movie. I keep imagining Mr. Tumnus running through a warehouse with dual guns blazing. But is the image of a daredevil faun worth $7.75 at the matinee?

10) The Dark Knight

The Batman Begins sequel. Now, I must admit, I'm a bit wary here. What was cool about the last Batman movie to me was the slow emergence of the full character of Batman throughout the story. It was really a Bruce Wayne movie, and full Batman doesn't appear until the last bit. Will Batman start seeming silly again, now that he's around for the whole movie? The good news is that we have Nolan at the helm and not Schumacher. I really like the re-imagining of The Joker. So I'll watch this, at least at home on DVD, if not in the theatre.

What about you? Do you anticipate any of these movies? What do you anticipate?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Introducing the diss 2 - Spoken and written

A few weeks ago I introduced the dissertation topic by linking to a clip of Finnish hockey to show the problem that we all have in finding words in a new language. This post talks about some of the solutions to this problem, comparing written and spoken language.

In many written languages, it's obvious where words are. In everything I'm writing here (well, not everything -- is "I'm" one word or two?) we have a word with a nice space on each side to say where it starts and stops, and so, if you did not know a word you could go look it up in a dictionary, which is just a big list of words. This even works in some written languages that we may not know. Here is the sentence, "I will destroy you all with my college game picks" in Italian:

io distruggere voi tutto con mio università gioco selezion

or in Portuguese:

Eu destrui-lo-ei todo com minhas picaretas do jogo da faculdade

At least, babelfish thinks they are the same. So I could go look up the meaning of "picaretas" because it looks to be a word. (Actually, I don't speak any Portuguese, but you can figure out almost all of the Portuguese sentence, can't you? I will put my best English guess for each word underneath (this is called glossing).

Eu destrui-lo-ei todo com minhas picaretas do jogo da faculdade
I destroy-Future-you? all with my picks of game of college

It's also interesting to see the Romance language connections going through in the two languages. Here I've paired words that are obviously similar: Io-Eu; distruggere-destrui; tutto-todo; con-com; mio-minhas; gioco-jogo. Noticing these connections is how people reconstruct languages that are no longer with us, such as the language that Portuguese and Italian both came from.)

However, word boundaries are not always clear even in written language. Chinese for instance uses its famous characters. While each character is an individual word, they are also combined to make new words, and in fact most Chinese words have at least two syllables, meaning two characters when written. So when you look at a string of characters, there's nothing on the page which tells you to take a character by itself as a word, or to combine it with the next one to make a word. An example might help here.

Take the word, Beijing. It's a single word, a name of a city, written with two characters, each of which has a meaning on its own. "Bei" means north and "jing" means capital. If you are reading and get to the character for Bei and look it up, you will find a meaning of north. But that's not really the word in this case. You really need to be looking up the whole thing "Beijing". (FYI, Nanjing is Southern Capital; and they were very creative with city names in Taiwan. Tai is the place, then the capital is Taipei (Taibei), meaning Tai North, and there's Tainan, meaning Tai South, and even a Taichung (Taizhong), meaning Tai Middle. Guess where on the island each of these cities is located.)

This used to drive me crazy when I got to intermediate Chinese. I spent hours looking up each character and then trying to figure out the meaning of the sentence, but I was usually wrong because I wasn't looking up the meaning of 2 or 3 or 4 characters together. It's kind of like finding the word "boa constrictor" and trying to see figure out what a feather boa was doing in the jungle; or not knowing that a blackboard is not the same as any old board painted black.

This doesn't appear to be a real problem for people fluent in Chinese, because we don't read in our native languages one word at a time. Instead we can see several words at once, so you can weigh all the possibilities at once in your head. Many things just don't make any sense in the context, so the mind discards them without us even being conscious of it.

In short, the word segmentation problem exists even in written language; however, it is ubiquitous in spoken language, in which obvious pauses on each side of a word are a rare, rare exception. In written language, we might solve the problem by looking at a bunch of text at once, but this won't work in spoken language. In the written word, everything sits there for you without changing and your eye jumps from group to group. But speech happens in real time with sound after sound coming at you and then disappearing forever. Think of a word like "disappearing". The whole word never hits your ear at once. There's a little burst of sound for a "d", then a loud "i" sound, then an "s", and so on. There's at least 7 different sounds (and really more) in the word. The listener must capture each of these sounds in memory and assemble the words together from these lingering memory traces.

Now, it turns out there are several cues to help you find words in speech. I talked in an earlier post about one, which is stress. In English, most, but not all, words are stressed on the first syllable. So if you can hear stress, then you can guess that the stress is the start of the word and be right most of the time. (But, again, not all of the time; click on my earlier post to see the trouble this causes for B.)

Another cue is what's called phonotactics. Phonotactics are the rules each language has for what sounds can go together. For instance, in Hawaiian, all syllables must either be a Vowel by itself or a single consonant followed by a vowel. (V or CV in structure). The pull of phonotactics is very strong. You may have heard that Merry Christmas in Hawaii is Mele Kalikimaka. Why? First off for Merry, there's no "r" sound in Hawaiian, so you put in an "l" instead. Mele. (Just to be safe; that's two syllables, me.le; not a word that rhymes with "meal".) Now, look at the word Christmas. I'll put it in phonetics with a period for each syllable. "krIst.mas", roughly. Compare it to other Hawaiian words that follow the normal V or CV pattern I mentioned -- kahuna, kalo, honolulu, likelike, kamehameha, humuhumunukunukuapua'a. The last is the Hawaii state fish and with periods for syllable breaks is'a. Look how every syllable is just a V or a CV; no mass of consonants in a row like in [krist.mas]. So for a Hawaiian to say Christmas, she must convert it to the right syllable structure, which means you either delete some of those consonant that are all bunched together, or you insert vowels to give each consonant a syllable. In this case, we will insert an "a" to give [karisamasa]. This might sound a bit like Japanese accented English, because Japanese syllable structure is kind of like Hawaiian. Now, Hawaiian again doesn't have the "r" sound, so sub in "l" like in mele, and it also doesn't have "s", so sub in "k" and you get [kalikimaka]. Mele Kalikimaka.

OK, that was a bit of an aside, but, besides being interesting, it is just supposed to illustrate how all languages have rules about what sounds can go together in a word or syllable. In English, for instance, "p" can only be followed IN THE SAME SYLLABLE by a vowel, an "l" or an "r". Pain, preen, plan, etc. But never another consonant like "s" or "t" or "k". A word like "pkan" doesn't sound like English, while "pron" isn't a word as far as I know, but it could be. So, if we encounter such sounds, we usually just drop the "p". Psychology, pneumonia, pterodactyl. Sometimes when we encounter an illegal consonant cluster, we go the Hawaiian route and add in a vowel to make a syllable. The Vietnamese name "nguyen" is often pronounced "nagyun" by English speakers, because we can't do an "n" followed by a "g" IN THE SAME SYLLABLE in English.

I keep saying "IN THE SAME SYLLABLE" in this post, because we can certainly have a "p" followed by a "t" when they are in different syllables or in different words. "Copter" [kap.ter] is easy as pie to say. All of these phonotactic rules can be cues to word boundaries. English has a couple dead giveaways. One is "ng" as in "sing" "wing" and "bling". That "ng" sound is always found only at the end of words (but sometimes with an ending like "singing" or "singer"), so, if you hear that "ng" sound, you know it is an end. English speakers are so dedicated to the idea that "ng" only goes at the ends of things that we have a hard time saying the sound at all when it's not at the end. Going back to the name "Nguyen", that's actually not an [n] followed by a [g], but is just the regular [ng] sound, except that Vietnamese allows that sound to occur at the beginnings of words. So even though it is the exact same sound as in English, boy, is it a beast to say in the wrong place.

Another giveaway is "h". "h" is always at the start. Heart, happy, hello, but never "buh" or "youpah".

In sum, phonotactics help in finding word boundaries.

The final cue I will discuss tonight is hearing words by themselves. B's first word was "kitty" though pronounced "giggy". Maybe what happens is we sometimes hear "kitty" by itself and so we can pull it out of the speech stream when we later hear "look, there's a kitty", which remember will not have any pauses between the words. This probably does happen, but it doesn't happen as much as we might think. If you look at transcripts of talking to children and adults, words are rarely used all by themselves to make an entire sentence. Instead we say things like: there's the kitty; isn't the kitty soft?; look, the kitty!; there goes kitty!

We can't shut up and just say "kitty". It's almost always with a bunch of stuff tagged on.

My guess is that this already-knowing-words is important a bit later in learning a language. You use whatever other cues you have to pull out "kitty" and that makes other segmentation easier.

Before I close this down, it's worth looking at my kitty sentences again. One interesting thing about them is that only one important word seems to recur, namely "kitty". The sentences start sounding a little bit like 'the word "kitty" being surrounded by other stuff that you can just ignore'. Only those sounds [kIdi] really repeat together over and over. Everything else changes. "Kitty" then is frequent, while everything else is not frequent and harder to predict.

This is the math angle of finding words and is where my dissertation topic starts, but that's for next time.

Do I get a trick or a treat for a blog post of this size?

In case you are in a sullen mood

Nothing cheers one up like the Muppets and Animal. Here we have Rita Moreno singing Fever with Animal's "assistance". (As a side note, I own all of the Muppets Season One on DVD.)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hooked on the 80s

I managed to spend the entire evening again tonight listening to music on YouTube. Somehow I ended up going down nostalgia lane with a listen to the first track from Hooked on Classics from 1981. When I was about 12, I had this on cassette tape and I just wore it into the ground. It's like The Princess Pride of classical music -- all the fun stuff with all the boring bits taken out. In this case, it's all the most famous classical themes all strung together and set to a mild disco beat!

The bad news is that the only complete version of track 1 that I could find is set here to clips from the old 80s TV show AirWolf. But feel free to close your eyes and rock out to Hooked on Classics!

Brainstorming 2008

OK, here we go with ideas or things to do in 2008. I'm supposed to be reading, "Effects of Age and Relation on Intergenerational Communication: A Survey Study in Beijing," which I think is a great reason to come up with new year's ideas instead. Again, I have no belief I will accomplish all this.

1) Pass Comprehensive Exams. No Brainer Goal #1
2) Have Dissertation Proposal Approved. No Brainer Goal #2
3) Three Chapters of dissertation written. Why not?
4) Run Honolulu Marathon in 4hours 20 minutes. I ran the Nashville Marathon in about 5 hours in 2001, so I'd like to get up to 10 minute miles, which means I need more leg strength. The barrier here is: when? If I run in the morning, I'm not helping the family get going, if I run during the day I'm covered in sweat at work, and if I run at night, then I'm not exercising with N. Anyway, the Honolulu Marathon is in December, so I have a year to go from 2.5 miles to 26.2.
5) 25 minute 5K. This should be done first and is a bid to increase muscle strength.
6) 34" waist. This is an attempt to have a non-weight-measured health goal. I've discovered that there are a lot of different body physiques at the same weight. I'd rather have the physique at whatever weight that comes out to for me.
7) Three minimally embarrassing songs recorded and shared with you folk.
8) B takes swimming lessons. Take that, kid; you are a goal now.
9) I want to learn to go body boarding. B bought me a body board, at my request for either last Xmas or my B-Day, but I've mostly used it to float B around in the water. It's time to take it out into some waves.
10) Maybe I will start a recipe book! This would be recipes that I've made which typically come out okay. I wonder if there's any way to add a bit of humor and pictures and then have it printed up on or something for about 5 people. Sounds fun, but also like a lot of work. And would I have to make the recipes reproducible and actually measure stuff?!
11) Korean apology paper published.
12) Korean apology paper 2 written and submitted.
13) American apology paper started. Nice ideas here, but I am supposed to be doing a dissertation. There are a few departments in the world now who are accepting three published refereed articles as equivalent to a dissertation. This means I am suggesting kind of writing two dissertations at once. That doesn't sound smart. On the positive side, if I pull this, teaching, and a dissertation off, that's a decent CV to get a job.
14) One N and Paca only night a month. We really, really need to find a baby sitter.
15) Two short stories. I feel like I should have some writing goal, but it shouldn't be much as I've already assigned myself some 400 pages of academic writing. But maybe two short stories can function as practice.
16) Four day vacation.
17) Independent dissertation funding.
18) Do a good hike once a month.

That should do the trick, I think. And I kept it under 20 this time.

Suddenly, I already feel behind. Crap, I'm already freaking out!! Let's add three more goals:

19) Sleep regularly.
20) Don't stress out.
21) Don't actually do every idea you come up with, because that's insane.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Best hamburger and homemade fries

I have been cooking most meals during N's maman's visit, which ends tonight, but as the week was progressing, the two of them, let's call them The Women, kept looking in recipe books and contemplating the perfect holiday meal. I knew my cooking time was at an end, and so when I was in charge of Christmas Eve Eve dinner, I turned the regular hamburger into a Hawaiian Hamburger Extravaganza! (These aren't particularly Hawaiian, but I needed another adjective there.)

A) 1 lb. of hamburger meat made into 5 loosely-packed hamburger patties of medium thickness. I read somewhere recently that being loosely-packed is a key to good hamburgers, because it traps all the juices.

B) The marinade:
OK, this marinade is obviously not the only possible good marinade, but I think marinating was important so you should come up with something. In a bowl, combine:

red wine vinegar
soy sauce
oyster sauce
a Tb of honey
squirt of hot sauce (Sarancha here, Tabasco would be fine)
lemon juice
garlic powder (the spices at the bottom here, N discovered a couple years ago in a recipe for lamb chops, and they work well for beef, too.)

Pour the marinade over the patties and refrigerate for a few hours, flipping at least once.

C) Prepare toppings!
Slices of 1/2 avocado
caramelized onions (I used one medium onion, cooked slowly in a bit of oil for a good 20 minutes. It is important to cook them slow with frequent stirrings or they will burn.)
Wash leaves of spinach or lettuce

D) Condiments on the table, like mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup. Also, buns on the table. My burger was really, really tall, so a squishable, regular old bun worked well.

E) Cook the hamburgers to done-ness, WITHOUT OVER COOKING, and put them on the table.


I had never done homemade fries before this meal, but I found 4 separate recipes that we all about identical and they did come out pretty decent. The key in all the recipes was to double fry everything.

A) Prepare the potatoes.

Most recipes suggest the baking Russet potatoes. We had the little red ones on hand and they worked fine. I left the skins on, except for eyes and spots, and sliced into medium sized thickness on fries.

Soak the potatoes in cold water for about an hour, changing the water one time. At the end of the hour, dry the potatoes in towels. Multiple places said that dry potatoes are a key to good fries.

B) 3" of oil in a cooking pot. Heated to 325 degrees. Again three different recipes had temperatures within 5 degrees of one another.

C) Add the fries in batches to the oil and cool for ONLY 3-4 minutes. Take the fries out with a slotted spoon. The fries should still be a boring white color. This first frying cooks the fries and makes them nice and soft. Drain the fries on paper towels.

D) Cook the fries again.

While the fries are draining, turn the oil up to 375 degrees. Nice and hot. (I had a thermometer for candy making (that I only used for candy once) that I used for taking the temp.) When the oil is hot, add the fries again for only 4-5 minutes, or until they turn a golden color. Take out with a slotted spoon again and toss with salt and garlic powder.

The fries were good, but they do take a lot of time, so I might only do once a year because it's fun to do.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Assessing 2007

On January 02 of this year, I came up with a bunch of possible goals for 2007. They were supposed to be the starting list and then I would choose just a few to make my real resolutions for the year. Being me, I never got back to that part, and so the entire list stayed. So, now I am going to see how I did. Here we go:

1. Write article on Korean apologies with J-W. - Yay!, we actually did this and completed it in October.
2. Article on pitch levels in discourse structure, also with J-W. - No, never did this. We did a fair amount of reading about Korean and English intonation, but what I was hoping to test is really quite difficult to get at experimentally. Right now, we've moved on to another apology topic, focusing currently on Korean, then American, then Korean-American. I don't want to say more because I might quiz the blog readers on some of this in the future.
3. don't procrastinate - Can I do this next year?
4. teacher of a linguistics class - Half yay! As everyone knows, I did not pull this off this year, but my class is scheduled for January.
5. sleep more regularly - no, did miserably on this and I know sleep is important for health. Failure.
6. More N and Paca time - We did have this last Friday, which is the blog post below this one, but in general, no.
7. swim - nope, not at all.
8. working paper - innateness and poverty of the stimulus arguments - yay! totally finished this and its published in the working papers series.
9. comprehensive exams - I made some progress here; the key item being that I formed a committee. However before I can have my exams, one prof wants to see the dissertation proposal, which is item 10.
10. dissertation proposal - Working on it is all I can say, mostly reading. As I read more, I am beginning to question some of the assumptions in the research on my area and so I'm now reading far and wide to figure out how to tackle things.
11. develop 10 decent Cajun Seoul dishes - not much more happened on this. I experimented with some cajun sausage mandoo once, my bi bim bop is rather American-ish, but not Cajun. Oh, but I'm getting chicken and duklings down, which is a recipe I was supposed to post.
12. create 5-10 not completely embarassing songs in GarageBand - nope, not a bit. I worked on a couple things over the summer, but haven't pursued it.
13. keep the house neater - well, it's been pretty neat lately, but that's because of our responsibility towards visitors. Medium success.
14. write 2-3 more stories to complete a story collection; query it to at least one agent - I wrote a few pages on a story in July. That's about it.
15. develop complete outline of Tira novel - uh, yeah, no.
16. drink less soda - well, as of right now, I am doing very well on this. I had gone off the deep end yet again with soda, this time Diet Pepsi, through much of the fall semester (soda for breakfast), and just a few weeks ago I went cold turkey again to break the habit. I'm actually doing quite well with it, being able to have a single soda every few days, which is fine and healthy.
17. eat more vegies - no idea, but if this is just healthy eating, I could probably do better.
18. Work on information theory interpretation of cochlear "fourier analysis" of frequency - no, and this is completely beyond my abilities. A project for a few years down the road.
19. get an article published all refereed like - didn't happen, but the article is already to go. J-W and I have been waiting for some feedback since October. We've chosen the journal to submit to and everything.
20. 23 minute 5K event - My running has become increasingly spotty over the year. B's jogging stroller broke and I just haven't pursued it in a while. I am thinking about putting this back in for 2008 though.
21. take at least a three day vacation - Did this about two weeks after I named the goal, with a trip to the Big Isle. We talked about doing another one to Kaua'i, but I'm not sure the budget is there. Maybe 2008?
22. find disseration funding - no, but this is largely depended on the dissertation proposal. Once I know the dissertation, I can ask for assistance in doing it.
23. don't go broke - we are treading water.

Overall, it's not bad. Despite the fact that I only counted 6 successes out of 23 (ouch!), I made real progress on almost all of the important ones. The only major professional item I did not accomplish was getting through comps, but that should be done soon. I don't know. I feel pretty good about the list.

Now to come up with the list for 2008. And can I make it less than 20?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Couple Day

N and I took advantage of B being at day care today to have a "Just Paca and N" day, which is the first we've had in several months. I started off the day a bit too low key, thinking we'd hang around the apartment for a couple hours and then mosey out, since we had never come up with a plan, but when I got out of the shower and N was in a nice dress (N basically doesn't wear dresses) and hovering by me with a smile, even I figured out I should put on a button down shirt and stop moseying. I apparently still needed a little help, because when I appeared in jeans, N stood next to me and said, "do we match?"

"Um, I think so unless the jeans are... do I need to change out of jeans?"

N gives the look which means, "you are an adult and I will not tell you how to dress, but, get the hell out of a pair of jeans on our special day."

Her looks are quite complicated.

So one pair of khaki slacks later we were out.

Our romantic date unfortunately started with a stop at her work to pick up a couple things, but I took the opportunity to pick up some flowers. Paca: 2 points.

The rule was we had to do things we could not do with B around. So first we went to the Honolulu Academy of Arts, which is the main art museum for the islands with small collections of Ancient Mediterranean, East Asian, Renaissance, and 18th century art. I can sum up the Renaissance rooms in three words "Madonna and Child." Seriously, they couldn't come up with a single other thing to paint. And for all their amazing breakthroughs in perspective and realism, their children are FREAKY!

Then at noon we ended up in a restaurant called Town, which is sort of avante garde or something, where I dined on clams in a vermouth wine sauce and N had an avante garde... hamburger. But it was a local and organic grass-fed hamburger. I'd never seen a hamburger eat anything before myself.

We then walked next door to J.J.'s French Bakery, which is the only real French place we've found in Hawaii for less than $30 a plate. The chef is Laotian and does Lao cooking and is Cordon Bleu trained, and so the menu is kind of an Indochine chic thing with seafood puff pastries and the like. We, however, were there for dessert and chose this "Black Currant Cassis", which is a currant mousse on top of cake.

And this Buche de Noël, a roll of chocolate and cake:

Cell phone at work again.

Following this, we wandered around some shops, ok, we made fun of the Naruto and Inuyasha stuff at "Toys N Joys". This was followed by a driving trip up one of the residential mountains and then laying in a park under a tree. While under the tree we failed to answer such questions as "are there alternate universes?" and "will humans still exist in 100,000 years?" N also prompted me to assist in composing haiku, such as:

Blue sky up above
We are lying in tall grass
Wa! My butt is wet

You can guess which line I supplied.

And then it was off to get B from day care and now it's time to cook.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Paca's First Contest!

*UPDATE1: Evil Editor is in. Don't you want the opportunity to smash EE himself with your picking prowess? (Or don't a couple of you want to submit to his will? Ahem.) Now you must join!*

*UPDATE2: So far we have Paca, EE, mamebeth, J, and robin in the pool. If you still want to join, you are still very welcome. Unless people are seriously re-ranking because they have strong feelings about Navy's chances tonight (the 20th), the game is only worth a single point out of over 500, so you aren't behind much.*

*UPDATE3: We seem to be up to 9 people now with Paca, EE, mamaebeth, J, robin, Church Lady, blogless_troll, and McKoala on the way. I hope other such as Sammy, Precie, Wyrdd, and December can get in, and all the people I didn't just mention. You've only missed one game, so please go ahead and sign up now if Yahoo still lets you. I will start stewing on presents. One of the best things is I never knew that blogless read my blog.*

*UPDATE4: We are up to 11 people now with the addition of Sammy and December. This so far has gone far better than I expected with the super last minute notice. Let the smack talk begin!


OK, people, time for you to all sign up. In honor of Hawaii's most important bowl game in its history, I am hosting my first ever contest. Your job is to pick the winners of the bowl games this coming holiday period. They start today, so you gotta move, but if people don't get in until tomorrow, I can ignore today's games -- somehow.

You don't have to know anything about college football. I myself have watched exactly zero college football games this year, so I'm no ringer. (That's Sammy and K, I think.) Anyone who gets over 65% will get some sort of prize from me, and the winner will also get --um-- some sort of prize from me. Likely food or bad jokes.

It's being hosted on Yahoo, so you may or may not need a Yahoo account. Here's the link to join up. The group is called Paca-Picks and the secret password is "timewaster". If I have your email, I am also going to email you an invitation. Please join!

This link should take you straight to the group with password and all.

If it doesn't work, the link below is the generic link and you can use group name, ID (43668, I think) and the secret password to get in. The good news about all these Yahoo groups is that they do all the math for you and tell you who won. All you have to do is pick and then wait. Oh and write incendiary messages about slaughtering the opposition on the message board.

Have you ever been stuck watching endless bowl games around New Year's that you couldn't care less about? Well, now at least you can hope to get a prize for it. So join!

** A couple tips now that I just went through the process of picking. 1) The site doesn't appear to like the default Mac browser Safari. I had to use Firefox for it to accept my picks. I assume IE will be fine. 2) Even in Firefox, the drag and drop thing for ranking your picks appeared to fail completely, but on the right you can choose the "Classic" look, which gives drop-down menus instead. 3) You can only have one pick per number, so to change a number you have to "un-assign" some other option. If you want to re-rank everything from scratch, you will want to unassign everything and then just go through ranking. Since I had no clue on all but about 4 games, I only unassigned 4 or so and then moved things a bit.**

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Cue Alanis Morissette

I just got back from watching the movie The Golden Compass, which I give a B. Quite a thorough movie review, no? Anyway, the bad guys in the movie are the Magisterium, who's main flaw is a desire to cover up all ideas they deem inappropriate and harmful. I've read how the movie is somewhat controversial because it is anti-Church. Now, the movie as I see it isn't particularly anti-Church unless you automatically associate every entity like the Magisterium with the Church; however, I do understand that the books are rather more blatant in their criticisms of institutional religion.

Anyway, I got back to read this news blurb about a Vatican newspaper attacking the movie. The Vatican is urging people not to see the movie, calling it anti-Christmas and devoid of hope and emotion. Certain Catholic groups have called on a boycott fearing the movie will draw children to the books and atheism.

Personally, I have no permanent beef against the Church. It has a long, complicated history of good and bad that I will let you all debate. However, isn't it a bit ironic that an entity which doesn't want to be associated with the Magisterium, which tries to keep people from being exposed to the wrong ideas, by encouraging people not to see a movie because it has the wrong ideas?

Don't ya think?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007



I must confess that one of my flaws in the last year is being a bit defensive. I should spend more time with my wife to be a better husband; more time with my son to be a better father; more time doing research to be a better student; more time in the office to be a better editor; more time with a pen and paper to be a better writer; more time on the town to be a better friend; and the list goes on and on.

This is nothing new for everyone who reads this blog and yet I still


Monday, December 17, 2007

Honolulu City Lights

I finally figured out how to get pictures off of our new cell phones (new as of a month ago).

Tonight, N, N's mom, B, and I (I stands for Ichabod) went to see the Honolulu City Lights, which is an Xmas display in and around Honolulu City Hall. As you will see, we too get in the Christmas spirit, but since people are still wandering around in shorts, there are some differences, such as our Santa wears an Aloha shirt and shorts with his long white beard (I'm not kidding) and often he's pulled by a team of dolphins.

Here's a baby snowman getting ready to go surfing:

His penguin friend:

Inside city hall, each department does a Christmas tree. Most are the traditional cone shaped evergreen. We all liked this palm tree one, however. If you look closely, you can see ornaments hanging, which are all weaved from palm fronds.

There's a large pole covered in lights in the shape of a Christmas tree outside and includes a toy train going around it. This one is being driven by some menehune, the little people of Hawaiian legend, and steam comes out of the pineapple.

And here's the big guy and big girl. Unfortunately, they're not really Aloha Clauses (though the guy inside taking pictures with the kids was), but they do have their shoes off.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

looking forward meme

I stumbled across a meme at Iyan and Egusi Soup blog, following a link from my story on Ello. I've decided to give it a try, but I will tag no one. In the meme, you provide the first sentence of the first post for each month in 2007. Let's see how this goes:

January: The following is a clip of the most famous Chinese rocker Cui Jian.

February:The big news of this Thursday, February 1, 2007, is this: Language Learning & Technology

March: For all who were around several months ago when I got involved in a long conversation about issues of ethnicity with adopted children from Korea in the U.S., here is a recent story of such a child who has recently had a reunion with his father.

April: I tried to do the cool YouTube linking for this, but it never came through for some reason. (Ooh, that's profound.)

May: As everyone already knows, I'm rather swamped right now, so I think I am going to declare a two week hiatus on the blog.

June: So where've I been? (Hm. I'm not sure this meme is going well.)

July: Science quiz from J

August: In a mere three years, I will have my 20th high school reunion.

September: Hi, all. (Wow. Can I just say, 'wow'? Those were good times. I remember that 'hi all' like it was just three months ago.)

October: For as much as the words that come out of a child's mouth are incomprehensible gibberish, what they do is usually rather regular.

November: This has been a very productive week.

December: I recently had the following key word search hit my blog: choose lifetime partner the one who is ugly but rich. agree?

Maybe the meme should have been to choose the topic sentence from the first blog entry of each month.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Following writtenwyrdd's comment below, I went and dug up my old post with an excerpt from the Kalabinabeso. Here is the full title:

"Journey to the North:
How the Pinandam were Discovered and Returned to Seauni by the Most Holy Kibin in the Year 725.

Based upon the Kalabinabeso of Sonodanne as well as the Holy Tradition of Seauni.

Translated into Anspik by Joseph Hayd."

Apparently, it's Journey to the North, not Journey to the East. I will copy the link to the opening below. As I re-read it about 11 years later, I still think I had some good ideas about the world, but the writing is quite poor. The good news is that my writing has advanced enough that I know some reasons why it's poor**.

If you click on the link, you will see that it's written from the POV of my nameless protagonist, the "barbarian warrior woman". I still like the idea of her character. Another main character is named Xara [ksara]. She's also a fighter of sorts and in fact is made from the foam of rolling rapids. Her hair is silver in color, which is her identifying mark, and she's essentially immortal. Since she's been around for several hundred years, there are several cults based around usually bizarre misinterpretations of her life. The cults run from very violent to peace-loving. Anyway, here's the link. Remember, it's bad writing, but I'm sharing anyway.

Kalabinabeso snippet

**Inability to keep a consistent voice, tense problems, not starting at the right point, paragraphs that wander from idea to idea, not having enough world sensory detail to truly capture the reader.

Best of Food 1 - Quiche Lorraine

Since N's mom is in town, I have been pulling out a lot of the tried and true recipes instead of experimenting off the top of my head and creating new pots of chilibo. Here's the recipe for quiche lorraine.

The mother in law who's actually French (N was even born in Lorraine, though the family is basically Parisian) says this quiche is not bad. Actually, she said it was quite good, but since she's very nice and visiting family, let's write it down as "not bad". Her main tip on a good quiche lorraine is to buy good bacon as this is THE main flavor of the dish. My recipe is based off, however, not the mother in law's head, but a book called The Food of France.

1 pie shell / pastry
a little oil or butter
10 oz. of bacon
2/3 c. heavy cream
1/3 c. milk
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a pan with the pie crust. I put parchment paper under mine. Place dried beans or rice in the dish to keep the pastry from poofing while cooking. (Beans are easier to get out later.) Bake the pastry for 10 minutes and remove.

Fry up the bacon with the little oil in a pan. Make sure you don't burn it to a crisp. Remember it will cook again in the quiche, so you can err on the side of uncooked rather than on the side of black tar. After the bacon cools, break it into small pieces and then scatter over the bottom of the baked pie shell.

Mix the eggs, cream, and milk together. Season with salt and pepper, then pour into the pie shell.

Bake for 30 minutes or until filling is set. You can test that it has set by inserting a knife in the middle of the dish and seeing if it comes out clean. If you have a problem with the edges of the crust burning, get a cookie sheet and place a couple sheets of aluminum foil on it in an X shape. Then place the quiche on top in the center. After about 20 minutes of cooking, fold the aluminum foil up so that it just covers the crust.

Let the quiche cool for 5-10 minutes and then serve.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The false story of the true paca

A couple weeks ago I was a winner in a contest over on Ello's blog and my victory prize was a story. Ello has now written and published the story and you can find it over on her blog


More random paca facts

OK, these turned out not to be facts as much as scattered autobiography.

1) I graduated high school when I was 16. And then college when I was 20. I therefore managed to be in grad school for about 2 weeks before I was able to legally drink.

2) Most everyone knows me as an academic and student. In reality, I've spent more of my adult life outside of academia. After the Master's degree in philosophy, I applied for three types of positions: a) teaching at prep schools like the one I attended; the only interview I ever got was from my old school and the theater department and they didn't hire me. b) teaching English in Japan. They actually offered me a position; however, I also had applied to c) this software company in Nashville, TN that the killer llama worked at, if people still remember him from the old blog. I decided I had been in school all my life and so I went and joined corporate world.

3) When applying for the job in corporate world, I heard a report from one of my interviewers that I seemed quite smart, but he was afraid I would get bored pretty quickly there. He pretty much nailed it. I stayed there 8 years, but I switched jobs every two years maximum, sometimes a bit less.

4) During the interviews, somehow I had reason to mention that I was writing a script and language for this novel I wanted to write. Kalabinabeso, I believe, was the name of the novel in the invented language and meant simply Journey to the East. It was my take-off on the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West. The artificial language's script was based off of Sanskrit, which is a syllabic script. I finished defining the possible syllables of the language and invented about 100 words, but then it sat after that. I still dream of one day writing the novel with the Seauni language on the left side and the English translation on the right, in the manner of classic texts, such as Plato, in which Plato's Greek is on one side. Whenever I've sold 21 million copies of something people actually want, I will spring this puppy on my agent. Ha ha, take that! I had only taken one intro linguistics course years earlier at that point and had no idea I would ever take more.

5) So what did I do for eight years in between school (as it has turned out)? The company was in the call center industry, providing software to large companies with large numbers of people answering the phone. Think all the major airlines, banks, and more. For the first two years I sort of worked in a call center myself, answering support questions from people who managed call centers. I then moved into the development side of things, which for a year was a job with some sort of direction, where I worked with programmers to design new software. (I don't program anything myself.) But then the company merged with another and my job became entirely administrative, managing people's schedules in Microsoft Project. I mentally checked out on the company at this point and went from interested employee to someone collecting a paycheck. When I couldn't handle it anymore, I actually tended my resignation without having another job to move to. (B wasn't born yet, so one could be stupid with less consequence.) However, people in the support operation offered me a position back in there where I supported the people who supported the people who supported the customers. I still needed a break and took unpaid time for a week and went to bum around western North Carolina and Virginia Beach by myself. I remain convinced that Western NC, particularly the Nantahala Gorge, is one of the prettiest places on earth. I spent a lot of time standing next to streams, not catching any trout. This was enough peace to get me through another couple years before I started applying to grad school.

6) Apparently, I can still do customer support. A co-worker of N's called a few days ago to ask N for help on why her PC was crawling. I ended up on the phone with her. While I did nothing sophisticated, my support skills linger in my ability to tell the person on the phone what columns and tabs should be appearing and when, what to click on, step by step, without ever seeing the problem.

7) I've always assumed as a back-up plan that if I don't end up teaching I could get a job in some company that does language-related software.

8) Since I mention people like Plato and Aristotle on here and I already have a master's in philosophy, why didn't I continue on in a philosophy program years ago to get a doctorate? While I was capable of doing philosophy papers back then and probably could have gotten through a program between the ages of 22 and 26, I had nothing to say. At least I knew I had nothing to say. And knowing your own ignorance is true wisdom, or so Socrates said... :)

9) I might be too sensitive to be a teacher. I've been grading exams all day and it makes me sad when someone screws up a section really badly. All that work all semester and they lose it now. Profs are supposed to have this nice distribution of scores of A, B, C, D, etc. If everyone gets too high a grade, then people question your teaching. I'd rather be so good a teacher that everyone earns an A because they all know the material. I want everyone to earn an A. Fortunately, I've bewildered enough classmates and bored enough students when substituting that I am sure I will have no trouble inspiring apathy and ignorance.

10) My left nipple is about 50% bigger than my right one.

11) OK, not really. But I wanted to wake you all up.

12) In Sacramento, California, there's a restaurant called The Rusty Duck that serves seafood and is in this restored mill looking thing. I recommend it. Haven't been there in probably 8 years.

13) I almost moved to Canada with a new job once, before I was accepted into grad school. It would have been Toronto. Part of my "support" gig involved consulting trips and I really got along with one of our clients. I've never been to a place in Canada I didn't enjoy. This includes, Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. But I'm easily pleased. I like Cedar Rapids alright too.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Love in the time of patriarchy

I've been following and sporadically contributing to another great series of discussion over on the academic Romance blog Teach Me Tonight (link on the right there). The blog, as well as other romance blogs I am lead to believe (I only read the one), have been afire lately due to an article in the UK's The Guardian in which the author declared romance novels to be mysogonistic hate speech. This author likes to speak with nuance, as you can see.

This article has instigated a broad range of discussions about romance novels, fantasy versus reality, feminism, and more. One theme that has come up is whether or not romance or love is possible in a patriarchal society. When Jane Austen has a novel end happily in marriage, but in a society in which marriage made the woman almost a form of property of the husband, is this really a happy ending? Was Austen furthering and promoting this flawed society by celebrating marriage within it?

I wrote a relatively long comment on these ideas, which I wanted to save.


Anyway, getting back to the main comments here and in an earlier post about Austen's era, while I follow the reasoning, I keep being afraid that it means we have to declare pretty much every relationship before The Second Wave of feminism as inherently flawed. Surely this is overkill.

Men and women in patriarchal cultures and matriarchical cultures surely fell in love and often became better people because of that love. We could declare that it's because all women in particarchal societies and all men in matriarchal ones had internalized their messed up cultures such that they felt "love" despite the fact that they were furthering their own oppression. But, honestly, I have a hard time believing that. Here's an example of why.

Let's say that a man and a woman today are both genuine believers in a society of total gender equality. They strive their entire lives to accomplish this and along the way they fall completely in love and spend an amazing life together. I'm trying to paint a picture of the ideal love affair based on every social or political moral we have.

And yet in 50 years, 100 years, people are going to realize that some of our perfect ideas were wrong. We just aren't that smart, no matter how hard we try, and we make moral judgment mistakes. This means however that our ideal love of today informed by the best of feminist thought is also perpetuating a flawed and mistaken society. The only way out of this is if you think that suddenly now for the first time in history, we've got everything right. And of course the belief that one's own culture has the universal moral truths for all time is the great and recurring sin of ethnocentrism.

But I still want to say that this ideal love affair of today, as we are dreaming of it, was still a great and inspiring love affair, with a story worth telling and one worth reading by our future descendants, despite the fact that many of them realize the heroine and hero were believing absurd things and probably hurting others due to these absurdities.

Does this make any sense? The argument I am trying to build is that flawed societies are not the end of love and romance, because all societies are flawed.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Life update 2

This is finals week here in Paca Land. It doesn't have me as crazy as in past semesters where I would disappear from home for almost the entire week, but it's still keeping me busy with gradings and exam prep and such. This is also heavy editing week for the journal. I need to ship articles off to our web manager by January 1, and to do that I have to get all the papers back to the authors pretty much now so that they have time to review their proofs. So that's how I'm spending most of my time.

Let's see. From that editing, I can tell you about differences in academic style between mainland Chinese students and "Western" students. Essentially, there's a Chinese rhetorical style to essays as there is to American and UK ones, and when Chinese grad students go abroad to study, their essays get marked up as being illogical and poorly written, when in fact they are just being written well according to a different standard. So some profs invented a class to try to teach people how to write essays across cultures.

What else?

Wow, it takes about 8 hours per paper, you'd think I'd remember something about the other ones.

Oh, when people chat online in cross-cultural exchanges, they frequently fix their errors before they hit "send". This seems utterly obvious, but a lot of academics have been relying on chat transcripts to study various things, and yet most of the errors are gone before you have a transcript. So it's important to research methodology.

And something about students correcting other students in their language mistakes, again typically across cultures. What were the findings? Hm. If you ask them to do it, they will, but if you don't, they won't. That's one. And apparently Spanish speakers in both Spain and Chile can rather accurately explain to American students some grammar point about their language, while American students basically have no clue how to explain their grammar. They know it, as they know what's right and wrong when they see it, but they can't explain it. This might be due to the fact that many places, such as Spain and Chile, start teaching foreign languages at a young age and go at it for years, while American students usually take a couple years in high school and then wait until college. I also suspect that Spain and Chile might just teach grammar more than Americans do. I went to one of the premier prep schools in the nation and I think we only had an explicit grammar section in maybe two terms out of 12 or 15.

I will be able to tell you something about Japanese learners of English tomorrow. However, the most important thing I care about on that paper is slashing words.

In completely different news, N's mom arrives tomorrow or today for everyone not reading this in the next 32 minutes in Hawaii. She will be staying with us for two weeks and we've spent many, many hours cleaning in preparation. She's not some mean ogre who will come through with a white glove; we just took the opportunity to do some spring cleaning -- in December. This included things like dismantling the computer system and moving a book case in order to get the dust bunnies buried there. In fact, we completely empty every room and clean it and then move everything back. It's only yesterday that all of the furniture was actually in its designated room again.

Apparently, two geckos were also living behind the radio. We like our geckos and leave them alone because they eat bugs and cause little trouble. They still can startle you when you open a cabinet and one goes running off. I remember being bewildered for several weeks at what the heck was making those chirping sounds at night. Geckos. Unfortunately, I managed apparently to pin one when I grabbed the mattress to lift it up and when I moved my hand, because that texture sure didn't feel like mattress, and looked up he was running off without a tail. In fact, his tail was in two pieces and one twitched on the floor for a good two minutes without the rest of the gecko attached. Oops, sorry, gecko buddy. It's good to know that they don't bite even when losing appendages, however.

And that's the news.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Gangsta Wiggles

Those of you with young children might appreciate this vidoe. Ice Cube meets the Wiggles:

I was also amused by this find -- Taiwanese Wiggles! Everything Wiggle reproduced on a smaller budget and in Chinese. Meet the Tawainese Wiggles here:

And listen to them sing Captain Feathersword Ahoy! here:

For those of you who ain't down wit my brothers Wiggle, I got your original versions here:

Get Ready to Wiggle
Captain Feathersword

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Book Review: Bee-bim bop

UPDATE: Some web searchers have ended up here looking for a bi bim bap (bee-bim bop) recipe. My actual recipe, however, is on another post, so here's a link. The pics below might still help though.

Several weeks ago, I was sitting in the children's book section of Border's with B and I looked up to see a book called "Bee-bim bop" staring at me. This was just a couple weeks after the discussion here about the dish. So I immediately grabbed it to give it a try. Bee-bim bop, the picture book, is by Linda Sue Park and Ho Baek Lee, Park being an American author and Lee an illustrator and publisher in Korea. I was hooked by the easy, fun rhymes:

Almost time for supper
Rushing to the store
Mama buys the groceries-
More, Mama, more!

Hurry, Mama, hurry
Gotta shop shop shop
Hungry hungry hungry
for some BEE-BIM BOP!

The book is very simple with the girl protagonist hanging around her mother and exhorting her to finish the bee-bim bop.

There's some humor as well. Later in the kitchen:

Spinach, sprouts, and carrots
Each goes in a pan
Let me pour the water in-
yes, I know I can!

Sorry, Mama, sorry
Gotta mop mop mop
Hungry - in a hurry
for some BEE-BIM BOP

The book finishes with the whole family rushing in, giving thanks, and chowing down. The text is then followed by a two page recipe for making your own Bee-bim bop. It's very simple and enjoyable and it did inspire B to declare that he loved bee-bim bop too and to help me make it. When it was done of course, I think he ate the rice and beef and left all those vegies sitting there. Oh well. Anyway, we did take pictures of the process this time, so here you go.

First up, all the ingredients ready to go. That's sesame oil in the big tin. I'm also marinating the beef in red wine and soy, just as a way to use up some wine we had laying around. I don't think I will do it again.

After you cook everything up and put in in a bowl, it looks like this without the egg (note the yummy gochu jang paste):

And with the egg on there:

Of course, this was the time consuming version. If I was busy, I would have gone to Palama, the big Korean supermarket down the street.

And grabbed stuff from this bar:

However, if I didn't know what any of this stuff is (which is largely the case for me), I would have just gotten the Bi Bim Bap To Go package:

(And yes a fellow patron did ask me what I was doing taking pictures of the food bar. I said I was trying to teach people about bi bim bap. She then pointed out that I could just pick up the express pack.)

So there you go. If you compare the Palama vegetables to mine, you will see I've Americanized it a fair bit. I mostly use bi bim bap to get rid of straggling foods.

Returning to Linda Sue Park, she is probably best known in children's lit because her novel "A Single Shard" won the Newberry Medal just a couple years ago. I picked it up as well, but I haven't finished it yet. It's the story of an orphan boy in Korea in the 12 century who learns to make traditional pottery. I am enjoying it; it's just that whenever I have a free moment, I feel obligated to read an article. I did some Amazon searching on Ms. Park as well, and she is quite prolific with a lot of interesting books out there. Another I want to pick up is titled, "When My Name Was Keoko." It's the story of a girl in WWII living through the Japanese occupation of Korea when there was a systematic attempt to remove Korean culture and language and replace it with Japanese, including giving everyone Japanese names. And so our protagonist Sun-hee gets designated as Keoko.

Linda Sue Park indeed seems very busy looking at all her titles, and I was amused by one reviewer, who sounds remarkably like she could be Park's agent, "As far as I can ascertain, Linda Sue Park does not sleep. I have good strong evidence for this. Since 2004 this woman has single-handed churned out more picture books, pieces of historical fiction, and fantasy novellas than any person dare count. She wins Newbery awards, brings Korean-American families to the foreground of kiddie lit and with "Bee-bim Bop!" the woman even has a storytime picture book to her name. This is no mean feat. Coming up with a storytime picture book is one thing. Coming up with a storytime picture book that is actually enjoyable to read aloud is another entirely."

Find her books here:
Bee-bim bop
A single shard
When my name was Keoko

Fave Music 6 - Asturias

I had planned to write up a new post on the dissertation topic, because I understand that everyone is dying to learn more about Finnish hockey. But it's after midnight now and I'm only sorta awake.

I discovered this piece of music when I was in my classical guitar phase. Within days of hearing it, I had located the sheet music and read it through front to back. It was far beyond my abilities at the time and is more so now, but I knew I had to learn to play it one day.

The music is by Isaac Albeniz and is part of the Suite Espagnole. It is called both Asturias and Leyenda. Albeniz originally wrote it for piano, but Andres Segovia adapted it for guitar a few decades ago and most people think of it as a guitar piece now. It is standard repetiore such that everyone getting a degree in guitar learns to play it, and you will see a lot of versions lying around YouTube. I think this version by John Williams is the best. He plays the whole thing so amazingly smoothly.

As you listen, you will hear a repeated appreggio type thing and a melody line going at the same time. It can sound so much like there are two guitars playing, but it's just the one, and is the genius of the arrangement. The melody line stays so clearly separate from the background. As the camera focuses on his left hand, you will see the thumb picking out the lower melody and the two fingers handling the background on the top two strings. Anyway, here you go:

If you would like to hear how it sounds on the piano, it's still pretty sweet there. Here's one version. By the way, the guy I linked to playing the piano version is a pretty impressive man. He's amed student in Australia and he's got videos of himself playing piano, acoustic guitar of songs he wrote, leading a band in a cover of Matchbox 20, as well as appearing in a Taekwondo tournament. What've I been doing the last 34 years?!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Wish fulfilled?

The class I am teaching in the Spring is already filled to the max and so I am getting emails now from students asking for overrides to exceed the enrollment limit. Many of them start off:

Dear Professor Paca

I am of course not a professor. However, I just realized that I once created a meme of my own in which one item was "Three things you'd like to hear." The first one being:

3 Things I'd like to hear:
- "Dr. Paca?" To which I would reply, "Please just call me paca."

That was June of last year. And I guess now it's happened. It will be much better if I were to actually deserve the title instead of just have it applied to me erroneously, but I will take what I can get.

Here's the rest of that meme. Since most of my readership has turned over since then, you are all encouraged to do the meme yourself.

And since I was actually writing fiction a bit back then, yes, my third item under "three things I'd like to hear" was:

- Overheard on the street, "Have you read paca's new book? I got it last weekend at Borders."

By the way, is this amusing at all anymore? Or this?

Monday, December 03, 2007

How much things cost

Desertec solar thermal proposal to generate 10-25% of Europe, ME, and North Africa's energy by 2050: estimated $550 billion dollars. Estimates are always low, so let's double to 1.1 trillion. Divide by 43 years = 25 billion per year (actual estimate 12.5 billion per year) Let's assume a similar item could be constructed in the American deserts.

Raising U.S. fuel efficiency by 10 mpg in 10 years should reduce imports by 15%. Not knowing what percentage of energy production is imported versus domestic, let's halve that to say the overall effect is to decrease consumption 7%. Estimated cost: $100 billion. Always low, so double it and divide by the 10 years - $20 billion a year. (This cost should be offset by lower gas costs later, but let's ignore those to make a worst case scenario.)

Wind. OK, these numbers took some time to find. The largest online wind farm in the U.S. has 421 turbines producing 735 Megawatts of power a year. That's roughly 1.75 MWs per turbine. Moreover, the U.S. produces 11,600 MWs of power per year, which is supposed to be about 1% of U.S. energy consumption. If we wanted wind power to produce 10% of the U.S. energy supply, we would be generating 116,000 MWs a year. At 1.75 MWs per turbine, that would require a total of 66,285 turbines. To make my life easier, I'm going to pretend that we have to build all of these from scratch. The Wind Energy Association estimates about 1.5 million dollars per industrial turbine, so... about 100 billion dollars. Then if we wanted to do this in 10 years, it'd be about $10 billion a year. To be pessimistic, let's say $20 billion.

Time to add
Massive solar network: 12.5 billion a year for say 15% of U.S. energy needs
Increase fuel efficiency: 20 billion a year to reduce energy consumption by 7%
Increase wind power: 20 billion a year for 10% of the energy needs

That's $52.5 billion a year to get one third (32%) of U.S. energy needs off of fossil fuels, even doubling every number I calculated and getting absolutely zero return on investment, which is obviously completely false.

Let's be a bit more aggressive.
Wind power to 20%. But if you do it in 20 years instead of 10, the per annum cost is the same. (It would actually take longer, but that reduces per year cost, so...) That brings us to 43%.

These numbers are obviously a bogus economic forecast as some costs come and go, the projects finish at different timeframes, etc., but I think they will make my point. I just want to get a very basic, basic take on the amount of money involved.

Now according to the Boston Globe, one Congressional Office estimates the cost of the Iraq war at $2 billion a week. At 52 weeks per year, that's $104 billion. Almost twice my (already doubled) estimate of the costs of reducing fossil fuel dependence by 43% in 20 years with only three mechanisms.

My point is actually not that the Iraq War is evil. You are all welcome to make that decision or not as you please. My point is actually that you hear over and over that the costs of doing anything about global warming and carbon emissions is so huge that any aggressive plan to combat it will drag destroy the world economy. And yet we are already spending double the amount I've forecasted and our economy is doing okay. I'm sure there's a drag of all the Iraq war spending, but our economy can basically handle it. Spending $52.5 billion a year is not going to destroy our $13.3 trillion dollar a year economy. Instead, it's a matter of thinking it's worth doing. Is it? Would you pay more taxes to do it? If not, what would you cut?

Fave Music 5 - A Night in Tunisia

My favorite style of jazz is that called hard bop, which followed on the heels of beebop. One of the main exponents of hard bop was Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Blakey is the drummer and band leader and the other members of the band rotated for 30-40 years, but include a whos who of jazz muscians, such as Horace Silver, Clifford Brown, Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan, as well as Winton Marsalis.

This is the famous tune by Dizzy Gillespie which has been performed a billion times by every jazz band ever, as well as people in other genres, including one "interesting" take from Chaka Khan. But here's my favorite. Art Blakey's take. Notice how driving Blakey's drums are. They are so sure and striking. When he starts everyone else just hangs on.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Interesting life decisions

I recently had the following key word search hit my blog:

choose lifetime partner the one who is ugly but rich. agree?

Hm. Hard call. I wish her (I'm stereotypically presuming) luck.

For the record, when you do search for this, apparently, this is the number 2 google link. I have a feeling it didn't help.
Now I'm going to go all Church Lady on you.
Who would you choose for a life partner? Ugly but rich? Poor but hot?
How about for a one night affair?
How about if you lived in significant poverty, you have little education, and you could support your entire family by marrying rich? Is love still more important? What's the right thing?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Staff - Can you dig it?

You, blog readers, are reading the blog of "Staff". Oh, yeah.

A couple weeks ago I noticed that the core phonetics course required of all incoming grad students as well as people over in speech pathology was assigned to "Staff" for the Spring semester. And then I noticed that the three profs who usually would teach it already had full course loads for themselves. I've wanted to get teaching experience for a while and in fact I am the teaching assistant for the course this semester and so, boom, I leaped.

"Please, sir, can I teach this course?"

And emails went around and hip hip, I'm now the instructor for articulatory phonetics next semester. I've had to put in my book order and so far I have 13 students enrolled.

This is very cool.

And so I now go by the name, Staff. Go, me. In honor of the occasion, here are a few extra lyrics to the tune of Shaft by Isaac Hayes.

Who is the white guy who teaches students to make those Xhosa clicks?
You're damn right.

Who is the man who knows how to read spectrograms?
Can you dig it?

Who's the cat who won't cop out when there's midterms all about?
Right on.

They say this cat Staff is a bad motha-
Shut yo mouth!
I'm just talking IPA
Then we can dig it

He's an articulatin' man, and all will understand how to transcribe
Go Staff!

Yes, Samuel L. Jackson will play me in the movie. Or maybe Weird Al.

And finally here is Shaft being played by a ukelele orchestra. I'm not kidding.

Hollandaise Sauce - not so easy

Update: I am getting a lot of hits for hollandaise sauce now, but they usually come to this entry, which is just where things go wrong. To find the actual recipe, scan down this post instead, which is for bacon avocado omelettes with hollandaise sauce.

On T-giving I made my first homemade hollandaise sauce and it came out pretty well. So tonight, well, I was full of myself. I had this steak that I was going to braise; I was whipping up some cheesy mashed potatoes from scratch; I had julienned zucchini; and I was going to make another homemade hollandaise sauce to go over it all. Oh yeah, I was all ready to come and strut my stuff on the blog.

And then, well, turns out I have no idea how to braise anything. Meat=tough, gray mass. And the hollandaise? Chemistry lesson. In one instant, I let it get too hot and the whole sauce disintegrated into a sloppy mess of scrambled eggs floating in a huge pool of butter. Tossed the whole sauce pan.

Nicely done, Iron Paca. Nicely done.

So my new hollandaise sauce tips: 1) find your whisk first and use it often; 2) low heat means freaking low heat. Not 2, not 3, but low. 3) it's an easy sauce if you can focus on it the whole time.

In other culinary news, it turns out the Joy of Cooking is not in fact the best source for Thai soup recipes. Meatloaf, yes. Thai, no.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fave Music 3.5

Writing this post scares me a bit. I want to choose THE right song, the one that will be the gateway song to get you interested enough to listen to other songs? But what if I choose one you hate and so you never go on to the next one? C'est un disastre! (Not sure if that's grammatical.)

But the idea behind these posts was to share songs that I particularly enjoyed or have been important to me, and therefore, of all the Harry Chapin songs, I'm going to post this "Story of a Life" at the top.

I got introduced to Harry Chapin when I was 12 and in 8th grade in 1985. It was my first year at boarding school in Jersey and my housemaster (the teacher who was in charge of our "house") was an English teacher with a cool attitude who played guitar. And he would sing, "All My Life's a Circle" by Chapin. I later found some cassette tapes and was moved by a lot of songs. I remember quite clearly some time first year of college or so talking to the llama some late night and telling him I suspected that this song would be my story of a life. Once you hear the song, it might be a bit surprising that an 18 year old would identify with it already, but there you go.

That clip is supposedly from 1981, the year he died in a car accident on the Long Island Expressway. Chapin was first a documentary film maker in the late 60s and won an Oscar. Then he had a hit record with "Taxi" in 1972, and he was a fulltime musician from that point on.

That song was a bit unusual because what Chapin is best known for is his story songs, and I really do think that his songs could work as a model for many a short story writer. In under 10 minutes, he can make you bawl like a baby. At least I was close to it when listening to these songs again tonight after about a year's break.

Here's a selection of some of my favorite songs of his with teaser lyrics (and remember that since he's often telling stories, the lyrics are a character's thoughts).

Better Place To Be
It was an early morning bar room
And the place just opened up
And the little man run in so fast and
started at his cup
The broad who served the whiskey
was a big old friendly girl
who tried to fight her empty nights by
smiling at the world.

Mister Tanner was a cleaner from a town in the Midwest.
And of all the cleaning shops around he'd made his the best.
But he also was a baritone who sang while hanging clothes.
He practiced scales while pressing tails and sang at local shows.

Corey's Coming
I was quite surprised to find out all the places that he knew
So I asked the townsfolk if his stories were true
Well they said, "Old John was born here, he's lived here all his life
Never had a woman, let alone a wife

And very soon you'll find out as you check around
That no one named Corey's ever lived in this town"

Some of Chapin's most affecting songs are about children and our raising of them. Here are three.

Flowers are Red (Someone's taken this song and set it to pictures of art at MOMA in NY. You might prefer to close your eyes and just listen to the song, but hey, your call.
The teacher said, "you're sassy!"
There's ways that things should be
And you'll paint flowers the way they are
so repeat after me

Tangled Up Puppet (Definitely close your eyes on this one, or you'll be watching some random images from a soap opera or something of dads and their daughters. I think this song is somewhat overblown, but it's worth it for the final few lines.)
What I mean is,
I have watched you take shape from a jumble of parts
to find the grace and form of a fine work of art
Hey you, my brand new woman newly come into her own
Don't you know that you don't need to grow up all alone?

And if you know the name Harry Chapin at all, you've likely been waiting for the ultimate dad-son relationship song, his major hit:
Cat's Cradle
When ya comin' home dad?
I don't know when
But we'll get together then son
I know we'll have a good time then.

But no list of Chapin tunes is complete without Taxi itself.
It was raining hard in Frisco
I needed one more fair to make my night
A lady up ahead waved to flag me down
She got in at the light.

But not all of his stories end poorly and several years later, Chapin wrote

That's when I asked her where was that actress
She said "That was somebody else"
And then I asked her why she looked so happy now
She said "I finally like myself, at last I like myself."

If you want to take a laugh break, here's William Shatner "singing" Taxi. After that, the song's dead, Jim.

If you are interested in Chapin, the man, I posted an obituary about him a couple years ago, which is here. Harry gave 150-200 concerts a year, so almost playing every other night. And around half of them were benefits. His main cause was fighting hunger around the world. Despite being a straight up liberal who campaigned for people such as Patrick Leahy in his first election, he was able to transcend party such that Robert Dole, the Kansas Republican, lionized him on the Senate floor. Quoting from the obituary:

"On the floor of Congress, the reaction was very similar. No other singer -- not Bing Crosby, nor Elvis Presley, nor John Lennon -- has ever been so widely honored by the nation's legislators. Nine senators and thirty congressmen paid tribute to Harry Chapin on the floor, and not all of them were the kind of liberal Democrats on whose behalf Harry had campaigned so long and hard last fall. No less a conservative than Senator Robert Dole of Kansas, not exactly known for his political generosity of spirit, called Chapin 'a liberal, and a liberal in the best sense of the word. He possessed a spirit of generosity and optimism that carried him through his various commitments with a great sense of seriousness and purpose... What he was really committed to was decency and dignity.' Harry Chapin was just the sort of man who would inspire tributes even from ideological foes. He believed deeply in all those corny virtues and ideals that the rest of us are too cynical, jaded, or just plain scared to admit that we, too, cherish."

There was a tribute concert several years after his death, and Bruce Springsteen does a nice job here. (Besides with several female readers right around the age of 40, I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't a couple of Springsteen crushes going around.) And here's a 3 minute tribute to him using Harry's own words.

To finish this off, why not post Circle, the first song of his I heard.

More geography quizzes

For all of you who enjoyed the geography quizzes, there are more maps of the same game at this link. Maps include the USA, North America, Europe, Asia, UNESCO sites, photos of the world, and more.

You get better as you practice since you get repeats. I've managed to nudge my traveller IQ up 3 or 4 more points by getting better scores on earlier levels, but I always flame out in level 11 (three tries). It gets insanely difficult up there where they toss out random cities in Russia. Things like Yakatarinburg. Has anyone noticed how big Russia is? So you stick it in the middle and hope to get lucky. And then there are pseudo-tricks. A city in Norway which turns out to not be in Norway proper but on some island near Greenland. Or Christmas Island, Australia, which isn't near Australia but close to Sumatra, Indonesia. In level 12, they must actually shock you each time you get one right. Dare you to keep playing.

New family members

B is still rather scared of dogs and even cats. We can't get one of those in our apartment, so we decided to get him used to the idea of having pets with two...

Guinea Pigs!

We picked up this guy first and his name is Machu Picchu.

A couple weeks later we picked up a black and white female version and B named her babababa, or just baba for short. I have a pic of her, but all you see is a black lump. She was tiny then.

Guinea pigs are alright. We are still working on the sit peacefully in your lap while Paca works thing, but otherwise they've worked out fine. Low maintenance for a live creature, but I do think getting a companion for Picchu was a good idea. So say hello to them.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Geography quiz

As a geography geek, I had to take this quiz, which J posted at her blog.

I made it to level 11, but didn't score enough to get to 12, the final level. This earned me a 121 IQ. I'd do it again but I do have alife to lead.