Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Language Rules I Hate

Word I Hate*: Persons. Just say people, ok? I don't care that there's a slightly different usage. 'People' usually does the trick. Use it.

Rule I Hate: To not split infinitives. Splitting's more natural.

What word do you hate?
What grammar rule?
Up with what sort of errant pedantry will you not put?

*Hate is so far beyond the mild annoyance I actually have for these things, but it's more fun to pretend one hates things for conversation. Feel free to scream away about your hated grammar points.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Is my luck turning around?

When I wrote my senior thesis 14 years ago on Chinese history, my advisor went on sabbatical for the entire year. I basically wrote the entire thesis on my own with no advice and it didn't turn out so hot. Many of you know I had some difficulty finding the right Chair for my dissertation committee. I spent at least one afternoon looking at other programs trying to decide if I needed to transfer. I am very happy with the person I've found, but it remains the case that I'm sort of forging my own path using the various skills of different people in the department to set me straight. I need one person's knowledge of language learning, another's expertise in experimentation, another's knowledge of phonetics, and a fourth's knowledge of math and computation -- as opposed to the more common method of one's dissertation extending a primary advisor's research in intriguing directions.

However, I've just learned that the second language studies department might be hiring to start in the fall one of the people who does EXACTLY what I am trying to do. He has all the skills I'm trying to develop and a couple of his papers are critical references in my literature review. What are the chances of your university hiring precisely someone with the knowledge I am trying to teach myself right when my dissertation proposal should be finishing up?

My Chair and I already have plans to write to him and see if maybe he can give me some tips over the summer as well.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Great if sad true life story

A rather lengthy article about Raoul Wallenberg who saved the lives of hundreds of people, and his disappearance.

Some notes on designing a language shift

I wrote a fairly lengthy comment on EE's blog about designing a plausible language shift in fiction and wanted to copy it here.


There's three basic types of language change:

1) A language on its own shifts its lexicon, sounds, and syntax, each being less likely in order, depending on several factors.

2) A language borrows tons of stuff from another language. This is almost always words first and then sounds and morphology later. Oh, sorry. Uh, word structure - case, plurality, tense, etc. The latter is on record as occurring (there's a case of an Aleut language, I believe, borrowing all of Russian's morphology), but that's quite weird.

3) A contact language, which forms a pidgin, which becomes a creole, which becomes a new language. There are several English-word-based creoles in the world including various places in the Pacific and Caribbean (and more). These occur most frequently in situations where people of various languages are all put into one place at once. Hawaii's creole was created by speakers of English, Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian, and Portuguese brought to work on the plantations.

So, in deciding your language shift, first decide which of the above is closest to the social situation. It sounds like you have in mind a simple shift in English over time. Next, decide on a couple changes. The critical thing is to make it consistent. Is it just a single word change, a change in sound, or a more grammatical change? "Tells" suggests a grammatical change, hence EE's very first comment.

Another change which might be easier to get across in written language is more pragmatic. Choose a sentence structure that already exists in English but is less common and make it common. Yoda-speak is an example. With the force, you are. A Jedi, you must become. Place predicates at the beginning, you must.

Anyway, just some ideas.

Ah fashion!

I was sent to the Onion due to an article on it about, the recent, random placement, of commas, in written, text. And from there I clicked on an article about police freeing 14 American Apparel models from a basement. I was amused reading it and I had never heard of American Apparel. Here's the Onion link. And here's a link to the real American Apparel store. Let a few of those pictures scroll on the Apparel site. The Onion seems to have nailed it.

Incidentally, I've always planned to write commentaries about the various catalogs that we receive in our house, but never gotten around to it. One day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Yes ma'am, no ma'am

In the South, we say "yes ma'am" and "no ma'am" or in the words of Hank Williams, Jr., "We say grace, and we say ma'am. If you ain't into that, we don't give a damn." (A country boy can survive.)

I was buying my lunch at the school cafeteria today and the person checking me out is a generation above me and so when she asked a question, the words "yes, ma'am" popped out. Then it occurred to me that I hadn't said that in a while. And that no one really does say that here that I've ever noticed. And then I realized that I don't seem to be teaching B to say "yes sir" and "yes ma'am." I don't know if it's because N doesn't do that being from Washington state? Or is B, being 5, only just coming into the age of needing to do this? Maybe in 3rd grade, people do say "yes ma'am" to their teacher, but not in 1st? His teachers in pre-school all go by first name; and before that in Hawaii they use auntie and uncle for someone who cares for you. I spend a lot of time saying, "say thank you" and "say please", but I don't seem to be doing the ma'am teaching.

Do you say "ma'am?" Are you teaching your children (or did you teach) your children to do so? Now that I've realized I haven't been doing this, I might start. A little bit of carrying his heritage culture forward, you know?

Ya'll are so jealous

The following took about 7 hours of work:

# establish variables
import random

#the main randomizer loop
for i in range(283):
choosei = words[2]
choosei = words[1]
#print results
print w_order

#print the counts of all syllables
a = w_order.count(1)
b = w_order.count(2)
c = w_order.count(3)
d = w_order.count(4)
total = a+b+c+d
print a,b,c,d,total

#convert all values in w_order to strings
pw_order = str(w_order)

#write the word order results to a file

outfile = open('/Users/pacatrue/Desktop/orderresults.txt','w')
for line in pw_order:

Isn't it beautiful? It generates a random string of 849 numbers between 1 and 4 with the condition that no number can immediately repeat. Here's the stunning output:

[2, 4, 3, 4, 3, 1, 3, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 1, 3, 4, 3, 4, 2, 1, 2, 4, 3, 4, 2, 1, 2, 4, 1, 4, 2, 3, 2, 1, 4, 1, 3, 2, 3, 4, 2, 4, 3, 1, 3, 2, 1, 2, 4, 1, 4, 3, 4, 3, 1, 4, 1, 2, 4, 2, 3, 1, 3, 4, 2, 4, 1, 3, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 1, 3, 4, 3, 4, 2, 3, 2, 1, 3, 1, 2, 1, 2, 4, 3, 4, 2, 3, 2, 1, 3, 1, 4, 2, 4, 3, 4, 3, 1, 2, 1, 4, 1, 4, 2, 3, 2, 4, 1, 4, 2, 1, 2, 4, 3, 4, 1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 3, 2, 4, 2, 1, 4, 1, 3, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1, 4, 1, 4, 2, 4, 2, 1, 3, 1, 4, 3, 4, 1, 3, 1, 2, 4, 2, 1, 2, 1, 4, 3, 4, 2, 4, 2, 1, 4, 1, 3, 1, 3, 2, 4, 2, 3, 2, 3, 1, 3, 1, 4, 3, 4, 1, 4, 1, 2, 3, 2, 4, 1, 4, 3, 2, 3, 4, 1, 4, 3, 1, 3, 2, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 4, 1, 4, 3, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1, 4, 1, 4, 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 3, 4, 2, 4, 3, 4, 3, 1, 4, 1, 2, 1, 2, 4, 2, 4, 1, 4, 1, 3, 4, 3, 2, 4, 2, 1, 2, 1, 4, 1, 4, 3, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1, 4, 2, 4, 1, 3, 1, 4, 2, 4, 3, 4, 3, 2, 4, 2, 3, 4, 3, 1, 2, 1, 4, 1, 4, 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 3, 4, 2, 4, 3, 2, 3, 4, 2, 4, 3, 1, 3, 2, 4, 2, 3, 2, 3, 1, 3, 1, 4, 3, 4, 2, 3, 2, 4, 3, 4, 1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 3, 4, 3, 4, 1, 4, 1, 2, 1, 2, 4, 1, 4, 2, 3, 2, 4, 2, 4, 3, 2, 3, 1, 3, 1, 4, 1, 4, 2, 4, 2, 1, 4, 1, 2, 4, 2, 3, 2, 3, 1, 4, 1, 3, 1, 3, 4, 1, 4, 2, 3, 2, 4, 1, 4, 3, 1, 3, 2, 4, 2, 1, 2, 1, 4, 2, 4, 1, 3, 1, 4, 1, 4, 3, 1, 3, 2, 1, 2, 4, 1, 4, 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 3, 1, 3, 1, 2, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 4, 3, 4, 1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 3, 4, 2, 4, 1, 3, 1, 4, 2, 4, 1, 3, 1, 2, 4, 2, 3, 1, 3, 4, 2, 4, 1, 2, 1, 4, 3, 4, 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 3, 4, 3, 4, 1, 2, 1, 3, 2, 3, 1, 4, 1, 3, 1, 3, 4, 2, 4, 1, 2, 1, 4, 1, 4, 3, 1, 3, 2, 3, 2, 4, 1, 4, 2, 3, 2, 4, 3, 4, 1, 2, 1, 4, 3, 4, 1, 3, 1, 2, 1, 2, 4, 1, 4, 2, 3, 2, 4, 2, 4, 3, 1, 3, 2, 4, 2, 3, 1, 3, 2, 4, 2, 3, 4, 3, 1, 2, 1, 3, 4, 3, 1, 3, 1, 2, 3, 2, 1, 4, 1, 3, 1, 3, 2, 4, 2, 1, 2, 1, 4, 2, 4, 1, 3, 1, 4, 2, 4, 3, 1, 3, 4, 3, 4, 2, 1, 2, 4, 1, 4, 3, 4, 3, 1, 2, 1, 3, 4, 3, 1, 4, 1, 3, 2, 3, 4, 3, 4, 2, 1, 2, 4, 2, 4, 3, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1, 4, 2, 4, 1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 3, 2, 3, 2, 4, 2, 4, 3, 4, 3, 1, 4, 1, 3, 4, 3, 1, 3, 1, 4, 2, 4, 3, 1, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 3, 1, 3, 1, 2, 1, 2, 4, 2, 4, 3, 1, 3, 4, 1, 4, 2, 3, 2, 1, 3, 1, 4, 2, 4, 1, 4, 1, 3, 1, 3, 4, 3, 4, 1, 4, 1, 3, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1, 4, 1, 4, 2, 4, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 4, 2, 4, 1, 2, 1, 3, 2, 3, 4, 2, 4, 3, 4, 3, 1, 3, 1, 2, 1, 2, 4, 3, 4, 1, 2, 1, 4, 1, 4, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 4, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 4, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 3, 4, 2, 4, 1, 3, 1, 2, 4, 2, 3, 2, 3, 4, 1, 4, 3, 4, 3, 1, 3, 1, 4, 3, 4, 1, 4, 1, 3, 2, 3, 1, 4, 1, 3, 2, 3, 4, 1, 4, 2, 3, 2, 1, 3, 1, 4, 3, 4, 1, 3, 1, 4, 2, 4, 3, 2, 3, 1, 4, 1, 3, 1, 3, 4, 1, 4, 2, 4, 2, 3, 4, 3, 1, 2, 1, 3, 2, 3, 4, 1, 4, 3, 1, 3, 4, 1, 4, 3]

Aren't you all so jealous that you can't be in grad school creating strings of random numbers?! I know it.

By the way, what this is about is that I'm creating an artificial language for an experiment and I have to randomize (under certain conditions) the word order. I couldn't find any way to do this with the pre-built programs, so I had to program it myself. This is the Python programming language. I didn't know any Python before having to solve this task, so I spent tons of time with tutorials to pull off this little program. This is one of the things making be stress out a couple days ago.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Yippee EE Whee

Ah, I remember it like yesterday. I was browsing along and umm uhhh somehow I uhhh ended up reading EE's blog. But I don't remember why. Maybe it was uhhh Miss Snark or something? Maybe ummm PubRants. And uhhh.

Well, I don't remember yesterday very well either. So I'll just make something up about my first week on EE's blog, which seems to have been some time in June of 2006.

A handsome young man sits at a desk; papers sprawl around him. He has been working for many hours but his strength and vitality are such that he is as energetic as any a man can be. He fiddles with a pen for a moment and looks at a mass of equations on the notepad in front of him.

"Just about there," he thinks to himself. "I've completed the proofs of each sub-module and the only thing left is to demonstrate the necessary convergence of the two systems into a single equation. And then the world will have it's Theory of Everything. When it's published I should finally obtain that position so I can help feed my family."

He stretches his arms up towards the sky.

"Just a quick breather and then it's off to implement the algorithm, collapsing the systems. Hm. What's this?"

He scans the page without emotion.

Then a corner of the mouth turns. "Heh. AFTER GOYA."

Then a smile. "Brutal eunuchs. Ha ha."

He sips his hot tea and reads further. Suddenly, he spews his tea all over the computer. "Vigilante sorcerors! OMG! That's too much! Oh crap, my ink is running on the proof. Well, that's alright. I know what it said. I'll just umm fix this bit here and- What's this? I can submit a continuation myself? Oooh, ooh. People will laugh at me! With me, with me." Click, click. Type, type. "I'll still remember the final equation even after I submit a continuation. Or two. Or three. Wow, how many are on this site? I must submit something for every single one of them!"

That night Paca is laying in bed after correcting about half of his tea-splattered theory of everything. "Choose mine, choose mine. It's the funniest. I know it is. Please, please."

The next day.

"F-ing Ril. What the hell, EE?! Clearly my clever twist in which the romance heroine is truly a brain-dead zombie is better. That's it. I'll try again." Paca types frantically into the keyboard.

When he goes home that night, his beautiful, hard-working wife asks, "honey, how's the development of the algorithm going?"

"What? Oh, yeah, going well. It'll converge. I'm sure it will. And then he'll choose mine."

"Someone will choose your what?" Paca doesn't answer, but his wife listens to him mumbling something about zombie deathfish all night long. Of course, aren't these academics always coming up with weird names for their ideas?

Next day.

"F-ing Ril! Yeah, so technically I would guess that this one from Ril is in fact, if you want to get into the details of it, actually funny, while mine was a contrived piece of garbage. Dammit!" Paca hurls paper from his desk and then falls onto the floor sobbing. "I'm a horrible writer! I'll never come up with anything funny! Oh, what will I do with my life? It's all been a waste. A waste. Oh god, in just two days this Evil Editor has exposed me as a fraud and a talentless two-bit... something. I can't even think of a way to curse myself creatively. I'm so pathetic."

At 6:30 that evening, there is a knock on the office door. Paca's wife opens it to find Paca sprawling with his pants half-way off, his head dipping over a pail of gin. It isn't clear if he's drinking it or about to vomit into it. She rushes to his side.

"Honey, Paca honey! What's wrong?!"

He mumbles something, but his tongue seems to be as effective as his sense of humor. He tries again. "I'm nussing."

"Nothing?" she asks.

"A human stale. A piece of filth. I've been teprending, te-te-pretending all my life."

"Your work?"

"Not just wok. Work. My bean. My bean."

"I thought we agreed you wouldn't call it that anymore, and you know I don't mind how small-"

"No, no. My being. What I wiv for."

"Oh, the algorithm didn't work? It doesn't reliably converge like you were sure it would and you've wasted 5 years of effort?"

"Algowim? Don't need no fucking algowim. You're crazy. Yes, I think you crazy. What's an algowim? Algowim! Algowim!"

We can see Paca's wife composing herself, repeating innwardly, "it's just the alcohol talking. Don't let it get to me. At least it's not as bad as that time with the silly puddy and tacks."

"I could just die now," the drunk concludes. "Do you think I would die if I sat on my own head?"


"I think I would. Look." Paca starts contorting himself in an attempt to sit on himself. "Watch. I'm gonna be dead once I sit on my own head."

"Hey, at least you can still rhyme even when you're being an asshole. Don't have a fit. Just look at it-"

Paca pops up suddenly awake again. "That's it!!"

"What's it?"

"Dying children! Now that's some funny stuff!"

She stares at him for a moment without speaking. "Maybe you should try the head-sitting thing again."

"No need!" He pops up from the floor, knocking the gin over. "I've got it! Take this, ril! Blogless! Little cute 'oala! Robin, you'll never flirt with EE again! You too, rhinothongbuttchurkodeldin! You'll never usurp my continuation position again!"

Next day.

Paca is scanning over the divorce papers as he hits refresh on his computer screen. Refresh. Refresh.



Happy Anniversary, EE!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Paca's N's On Myon soup

This is my take of N's take of On Myon - Hot Noodle soup - out of our Korean cookbook, The Korean Kitchen.

1 batch of Chinese chives
some green onions
a good bit of Shitake mushrooms (maybe 10 oz.)
1 lb. of beef, sliced thin (you can buy the stir fry beef).
salt, soy sauce, garlic powder, pepper
hot sauce to taste
Korean or Japanese somen-style noodles

Wash and slice all the vegetables to be 2-3" in length. Cook the mushrooms in the soup pot until half-cooked, remove. Cook the chives and green onion in the soup pot and remove. Without oil, fry the beef in the pot until brown on the outside. Remove, pouring away the brown foam that forms when the beef cooks. Put the meat back in the pot and a lot of water (vegetable or beef broth would also make sense, but not too much or it might become even more American than I've already made it). Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add all the vegetables back in, add a TB of soy (ok, I just poured a little in), add garlic powder, salt, pepper. Simmer for 5 more minutes.

Meanwhile, boil some water in a pot. Add in the somen noodles. These things cook in 1-2 minutes. Drain and let sit until the soup is ready. They will get hot again when you pour the soup on. (Though they can get really sticky if they sit too long.)

Spoon some noodles in a soup bowl, pour a hardy portion of soup over it. Add hot sauce to taste.

My favorite hot sauce:

I think my version of N's version of On Myon differs mostly in the amount of beef and the presence of mushrooms. N frequently makes this with leeks and zucchini in place or in addition to some of these other vegies. It makes enough for 4 or so.

Am I there yet?

This is an academic shout-out.

I keep thinking that I am on teetering on the edge of a true theoretical breakthrough in linguistics and psychology, but I can't get there. Part of not getting there is external: I'll be editing a paper for work again instead of working on the problem; but most of it is internal: My math really isn't very good and I read the internet too much as an escape. Sigh. But I know if I can do it, it's important. My pulse is actually elevated right now. Aren't us (want-a-be) academics weird? Of course I know that one characteristic of young academics is they always think their papers are soooo important, when really they're just one more drop in the bucket.

This has been an academic shout-out. Emoticon here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Listen to me make funny sounds

This may interest a couple of you. I've posted links to some of this week's homework for my phonetic class. First up, they have to listen to this file and write down what it says in the phonetic alphabet. Then I gave them 5 more nonsense words in the phonetic alphabet and they are supposed to come into my office and say something vaguely like this.

Some of the more interesting sounds you will have heard, if you listened to the files, are (my version of) a click, an implosive consonant, and nasalized vowels.

Monday, April 14, 2008

a question

1) At what age may a child no longer visit the restroom of the opposite sex with their parent and is it different for girls vs. boys?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Old lucky paca?

So, the aftermath of the burglary continues. Today, a couple of N's co-workers, one of whom's name importantly starts with A, knocks on the door while I am at school.

Someone's boyfriend was going through a dumpster in Waianae, which is a town on the far western (leeward) shore of Oahu, about 30 miles away, looking for recyclables and found a garbage bag full of stuff. Stuff including N's cell phone, driver's license, and passport. N had just gotten the passport because she might be traveling abroad for work soon (Guam). The person then called the first name in N's cell and reported that she had found this stuff. The co-workers then couldn't call N, since the cell phone was in Waianae and we had disconnected it on Saturday, so they came by in person.

After speaking with the Waikiki police, we ended up driving to Waianae to meet them and pick up those few things. Credit cards were gone and a couple smoothie cards, but the other cards and IDs were there. The couple who returned this stuff live in a van. She was carrying 3-month old as she spoke with us.

There were a few things that were not ours in the bag as well, so we called the Waianae police to come out, gave them the not-ours stuff, and gave our third police report in 2 days. The other items included things like a hotel room key, so to all appearances someone living in Wainae is canvassing Waikiki, a conclusion which probably describes half of the petty theft cases on Oahu. (At least the Waikiki part.) There seems to be about a 95% chance that our stuff was returned by an honorable young family living in a van, but we left the police there with them, and I assume they will check out the 5% possibility.

Assuming the story is true, it's amazing luck. Someone 30 miles away just happens to be going through a dumpster, notices some stuff, and then takes the time to contact us? All within 48 hours of the crime?! With the return of the IDs, my laptop has become the biggest casualty of the burglary.

Time will tell.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Not the best day in paradise.

Our apartment was broken into last night. Apparently, while we were sleeping, someone sliced our screen by the kitchen door, slid the window open, came in, grabbed N's purse and my backpack, and went back out the door. I may have been woken up by the exit, but didn't notice anything gone until the morning so didn't take the appropriate actions at the time. The backpack was the only really valuable thing because my laptop was in there. Nothing much to do about it. Sometimes a thousand dollars walks out the door, right? The police said I could give them the serial number and when they check pawnshops they can look for it there.

Otherwise, we will spend the entire day (and Monday) dealing with the purse issue -- canceling credit cards, killing and creating a new checking account (because a checkbook with numbers was in the purse), new driver's license, entire new set of locks on all the doors (house keys), and I have to get the car re-keyed as well if possible. Ugh. Fortunately, our upstairs neighbor is a locksmith by trade.

It will all be done and the landlord will add security screens to our apartment in the next week or so. If I browse the rental section in the next couple of days, however, no one should be surprised. The only thing to worry about going forward (after the next 3 or 4 days of work) is identity theft. If anyone has tips on post-burglary identity theft prevention, let me know.

I feel a little bitter after typing this message and the tone may have come out, but really these things do happen and one can't stress out about it. As long as nothing important was stolen, which it wasn't, if you know what I mean.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thank you, paper clips

I have a pair of shorts on which the button popped off several months ago. However, I've been able to zip them just fine, and for whatever physical reasons, that's done the trick. I could sit, walk, run in them okay.

A little while ago, I am sitting at my computer, actually being quite productive, and I hear this pop.

It appears my zipper just popped off as well. And, no, these shorts do not work without either a button or a zipper.

I fiddled with the zipper for a while, but just cannot fix it, so then I had to consider my options. 1) Stay here with broken shorts, since I am getting a lot done, or 2) go home and lose an hour, but at least be, you know, clothed.

Some days I don't really see anyone, so maybe just staying would work. It's just me and I can keep the door closed. But, not today, alas. I have a student coming by for a make-up midterm in a couple hours, and I could imagine that conversation. Here's my side:

"Hi, I'm glad you're feeling better. Here's the exam; you can take it at this desk and-- what? um, no, I'm not wearing any pants. You're right. Uh, is that a problem?"

On the plus side, after I'm fired for sexual harassment, I'll have a lot more time on my hands.

So going home and losing an hour was the only possibility.

But wait! I'm creative! I can think outside the box!

You know those huge paperclips that are for stacks of like a hundred sheets? Big honking brown or black things. They apparently work rather well, at least to get me through an afternoon

Though the metal does chafe the stomach a bit. Ouch.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Random thoughts 843

1) I used to think about creating a college radio show called Three Chords and a Cloud of Dust. The problem is you'd have to find just tons and tons of those 2 minute guitar riff attitude-filled wonders (think the Clash, White Stripes, Strokes, Ramones, etc.) to fill up a time slot. I still like the name though.

2) N has been watching a lot of various "next model" shows. I have mostly learned I would never want to be a model. And that Tyra was hot in her SI Swimsuit covers in the mid-90s, but I'm glad I never dated her. Because that almost happened, you know. Yep.

3) Speaking of TV, we've been watching Dancing with the Stars as a fairly successful family show. It's fun. B dances, etc. But many of the music choices are odd. I love me some Stevie Wonder, but Wonder's Higher Ground for the Pasa Doble? (spelling?) Really?

4) I also watched some TV when in San Fran, including the ImaginAsian network. Got to see a discussion of which male Bollywood stars are the sexiest, a magician's reality show competition in what looked like Taiwan perhaps, and these three college-age people hanging around South China giving a tourist show and periodically stopping to scream and jump around as they ate Sand Worms in one town and Lizard soup in another. I think that's the show; kind of like Fear Factor crossed with Lonely Planet. I think I got mostly stuck on ImaginAsian because periodically I would actually understand something in Chinese and be so shocked that I understood that I had to keep hanging around to wait for the next understood phrase. Does ImaginAsian play anywhere other than San Francisco? I would guess yes; maybe even here; but I've never had cable, so I wouldn't know.

5) I like e-Filing. It's so genteel and convenient. The Feds will even take e-money. Silly Hawaii makes me mail paper money to them. (Yes, time to adjust the W-4s yet again.) Maybe I will go file my taxes again just to get that warm fuzzy feeling. (Kind of like the feeling that Robin gets when EE jumps on her openings. Ahem. I didn't mean it like that when I wrote it, but I'm definitely keeping it now.)

6) Speaking of double meanings, I took a music class way back in 1993 or so my last year as an undergrad called From Blues to Rock. It covered the history of the Blues from its emergence until the early 50s when Elvis and other Rock and Rollers came out. Anyway, the early bluesmen and women spent most of their lives writing dirty songs under the guise of discussions of cars, dancing, bizarre medicinal cures, etc. We spent one class listening to dirty songs, and one of them was called If You See Kay from the 30s. However, if you listen to it, it's not obviously very naughty at all. There is one great line where he says that Kay "was stacked up like a Coca Cola bottle" but that's it. All the other lyrics are completely harmless. However, if you sing the title the right way, I think that's where the naughty in-joke is. Go ahead and try singing "If You See Kay". And think of each word as a letter spelling a word out. I think that's the little sneak-past-the-censors joke, but when I revealed my theory to a couple classmates, they didn't buy it. What do you think?

7) I'm having trouble getting a good connection to work, so I might go to bed soon. I celebrate bad internet connections.

8) We picked up a big family-size tent this weekend. I've been determined to go beach park camping for some time. While the tent is expensive (ok, $100), that's the price of most hotel rooms for a single night in Hawaii. Now, we've only taken one vacation in 4 years here, but if we don't stay in a hotel for about two nights on some future vacation and use the tent instead, that should make up for most of the cost. We will see.

9) Here's how I cook asparagus. I used to always use the thinnest spears I could find, but the thicker ones turn out pretty decent now, too. Heat some oil in a skillet, preferably one with a cover, but not required. When nice and hot, add asparagus. Cook for a while so that you actually get some nice "blackened" marks on them. Stir periodically. You can also cover the skillet so that they steam some while cooking. Near the end, sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Be liberal. With the seasonings. The slightly charred taste with the seasonings turns out pretty decently. I don't like boiled asparagus much at all, and the canned stuff is sickening. Really. Don't make me eat those. I've come to the conclusion that many American kids don't like vegies because they've always had really bad ones. Like those steamed carrots, broccoli and cauliflower bits from the frozen package? Vomit. But good beef and broccoli? Yummy. Or potato, carrot, pea Indian curries? Eat it up, yum.

10) Does anyone remember this song from Dr. Demento days in the early 80s?

Fish heads, fish heads.
Roly poly fish heads.
Fish heads, fish head.
Eat them up, yum!

Took a fish head
out to see a movie
Didn't have to pay to get, it, in.

Fish heads, fish heads
roly poly fish heads
Fish heads, fish heads,
Eat them up, yum.

Fish heads are never seen drinking capaccinos in Italian restaurants with Oriental women!

Fish heads....

Now that's music.

Naturally, the video is on YouTube. Of course it is.

But wait! This post goes to 11!

11) The family was trying to find some cheap place to eat lunch on the weekend, and we saw a restaurant called "Sweet Home Cafe" which we knew nothing about. We didn't want sushi, Cantonese, Hawaiian L&L Drive Inn, or a hamburger (the other choices in the strip). The place turned out to be a shabu shabu restaurant; i.e., Japanese Hot Pot. Now Mongolian Hot Pot is one of my favorite things, so we gave it a try. For about $6, they bring out a broth of your choice and get it going on the little electric burner on the table. Then for $3.75 you get a plate of frozen protein to drop into the broth. And then you go to the fridge and pick out various other plates color-coded for price. We ended up with noodles, cabbage, mushrooms, zucchini and pumpkin, and these dumpling-like things. I chose those. When choosing, I saw one dumpling plate which was clearly stuffed with crab. I knew N wasn't a big fan of the seafood thing, so I grabbed the one with little green specks, thinking it was some vegetable. Turned out to be fish eggs inside. Only I would eat that. You drop the things in the broth to cook and eat it up, yum! In the end, it was yummy, really quite healthy I think, and it was only $24 for all three of us. About $18 would be better, but still, not bad. So I recommend your friendly neighborhood shabu shabu restaurant now. If only so you can look at your partner, raise your eyebrows in a flirty fashion, and say, "hey, babe, wanna shabu shabu?"

Sports Notes

Some of you might be surprised to learn that I actually follow sports to a moderate degree, reading a couple sports pages almost every day. I don't know anything about baseball or college stuff, unless UH is somehow relevant, but I do follow the NHL, the NBA, and NFL, of course. As well as a bit of tennis. I actually prefer women's tennis to men's, though I'm beginning to fall behind a bit in my knowledge there. Anyway, here are a few things to celebrate.

1) I almost pulled off picking the NCAA basketball champ two years in a row. I got Florida last year and Memphis almost had it this year. Go me.

2) The Nashville Predators (that's an NHL hockey team) managed to slip into the 8th playoff seed in the Western Conference. They were a higher seed last year, but in some ways this year is the bigger accomplishment. Nashville headed into ownership troubles at the end of last year and ended up dumping virtually all of its big name talent: Peter Forsberg, Paul Kariya, Kimmo Timonen, Scott Hartnell, and Tomas Voukoun. But somehow a bunch of no names managed to scrap their way in. It's hard to see them having any chance against the Red Wings, who have the best record in the league and is their first round match-up. But to get there at all should be celebrated. The Predators have been a lot like the early 90s Moira-coached Saints. Pretty good (Who dat?!), but always stuck in a division with the dominant (at the time) 49ers with Montana, Rice, and Young. The Red Wings play the Niners in my analogy. Or maybe I just want to see Ronnie Lott take out a red wing or two.

3) Are you following the Western division playoff race of the NBA at all? Everyone in the west is so packed together, you can fall from 1st place to at least 6th in a week of games. And it's not because they all suck; they're actually all very good. Multiple stars on multiple teams all playing decent ball. Spurs, Suns, Lakers, Mavericks, Celtics (I know Eastern), and even somehow the New Orleans Hornets, are all playing some killer ball. A good match-up in this group could have 3-4 future hall of famers on the floor at once.

4) And most importantly.... ROBIN WON THE NCAA TOURNAMENT!!!! Go, Robin!!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Being an Aslo

Hi everyone,

I do still exist. I'm just completely swamped and stressed. I won't bother you all with it right now.

However, I saw a little write-up from the AP about the new electees to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Here's the first couple sentences:

"Coach Pat Riley, broadcaster Dick Vitale, players Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, plus three others have been elected to basketball’s Hall of Fame.

Also among the Class of 2008 are player Adrian Dantley, coach Cathy Rush and NBA team owner Bill Davidson."

I'm just thinking, wouldn't it suck to be elected to the Hall of Fame after 20, 30, 40 years of work in basketball, and the AP writer shuffles you down to the "also" paragraph? It reminds me of early versions of the Gilligan's Island theme where the Professor and Mary Ann are "and the rest".

While it's true that I know who everyone in the first paragraph is, but know far less about the second group, well, still. That's lame. At least put Coach Rush in the first sentence with Coach Riley, and then go off on Riley for the rest of the article. C'mon. And, by the way, the article never does tell us who Coach Rush was. Never mentioned again.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

my sandwich your sandwich

When I go to the cafeteria deli (a Subway like place), this is the sandwich I typically choose:

wheat parmesan bread
ham and turkey (pastrami would be better)
green bell peppers
ranch dressing
hot sauce

What's your sandwich?

Baby Doll

As most of the readers here know, I've been a big fan of Michael Nesmith ever since I was about 11 watching Monkees reruns on Nickelodeon. One of the things he got involved in after Monkee-dom is creating the music video form as we know it today. His pioneering video work was in the late 70s and early 80s. When you look at it today, it's not all that..., well, I mean it's not high art. But in 1980, these things didn't exist and his work helped create them for better or worse. One of the starting points for MTV was a show Nesmith produced called PopClips and Nesmith won the first ever video grammy.

Anyway, in the mid 80s he also produced a few movies, the most famous of which is Repo Man (though I actually don't like it really despite my NezHead nature). He also did a movie I do like called TapeHeads starring a young John Cusack and a young Tim Robbins as people who make music videos.

Below is a scene of the characters creating their first video. What's ultimately funny to me about the clip is that this looks pretty much like music videos of 1981. Shows you how cheap and random they often were.

And speaking of inauspicious beginnings, here's a really old video of Weird Al Yankovic performing Another One Rides the Bus.