30 January 2008

This snow is not getting too fun anymore

completely sold-out train tickets
Okay, this snow is not getting too fun anymore. The transport system in China is near paralysis and I am not sure if my flight tonight will fly. Fingers crossed.

28 January 2008

Desaturated playground

desaturated playground
Except I didn't desaturate it. I left the metering on as spot metering by mistake and couldn't have asked for a nicer effect.

20 January 2008

Reminiscences of good old US days

Featured this weekend in my favourite NYT.

Keep warm with a meal at Fireplace restaurant, in the aisles of a university bookstore and hot chocolate on Harvard Square.

Without violating the city’s code of stoicism, one can find the ideal winter day in the Second City by alternating outdoor grit with a smattering of permitted hideaways.

Winter Day Out in Seattle

Drink coffee. Put on another layer of dry clothes. Repeat. This is the formula to warm inside and out in this city.

16 January 2008


Elegance is when Skype knows how to pause iTunes when you start making a call.

And when it is done, fades the music back in.

P.S. The radio station »Deezer does this too.
(And is one up Skype for its spotless streaming, even in erratic Chinese broadband connections).

15 January 2008

Little fur balls

little fur balls
These are the little fur balls I used to pluck from pussy willows as a kid.
They look like almost like little mice here...
Happy year of the mouse.

12 January 2008

Pussy willows

pussy willows
When I was a little kid, I used to pluck these furry buds off the pussy willows during Chinese New Year and keep them in my pocket. So that every time I put my hands into my pockets, I would get a nice furry feeling and smile to myself.

Needless to say, laundry time was a disaster for my mum because she would be pulling out these pocketfuls of little fur balls...

As I grew older, we somehow stopped buying pussy willows at home. My mum says that it is because they breed mosquitoes (how they breed more mosquitoes than any other vase of flowers I don't understand), so maybe she just got tired of washing pocketfuls of fur balls.

Now that I have my own home and some spare cash, I plan on stuffing my whole pocket full of fur balls. In fact, I think I will buy an extra stalk tomorrow just to pluck fur balls off them.

Bedtime with Proust

10 January 2008

Old-time Chinese brands get ordinary English names





  全聚德 Quanjude Peking Roast Duck-Since 1864
  吴裕泰 Wuyutai Tea Shop-Since 1887
  同仁堂 Tongrentang Chinese Medicine-Since 1669
  瑞蚨祥 Ruifuxiang Silk-Since 1862
  荣宝斋 Rongbaozhai Art Gallery-Since 1672
  王致和 Wangzhihe Gourmet Food- Since 1669

I am a bit of a translation snob and was disappointed to read that despite all the worldwide entries and big-name university professors, all the translations came out quite unimpressive indeed. The "since xxx year" is quite nice, but name-wise, at least call it "Wuyutai Tea House" instead of "Tea Shop", "Tongrentang Chinese Medical Hall" instead of plain vanilla "Chinese Medicine", and then try translate the very poetic and literary "斋" into something other than "gallery". ("Gourmet Food" sounds wrong, but since I don't know "王致和" and the nature of the store, I can't comment further.)

There are quite a few well-done translations of brand names here and one of the best I have seen is that for the American stationery company Home Depot which is next door to our office. It was translated as "家得宝“ which achieved the effect of 译音又译义 (translating both the sound and the meaning)。Apparently the story goes that they spent money asking a translation company to do translate but were unsatisfied by the results. Then they happened to mention to a boss in our firm over lunch and he came up with the current one. Voila.

Post-script: I agree more whole-heartedly with the translation of Chinese dishes such as »this, though I think Kungpao Chicken should remain Kungpao Chicken... Most people who eat Chinese takeout overseas would know this.

09 January 2008

Macau - A Charm Beyond the Jackpot

In Hong Kong, Nice Things Come in Pairs






More pictures »here.

Word of the Day - Sheep's Eyes

sheep's eyes (sheepz eyez) noun

Shy amorous glances.

[The origin of the term is uncertain. Various theories attribute the term to Gaelic or any of the various Germanic languages. It has also been suggested that the term refers to the docile appearance of a sheep's eyes.]

"When office temp Carolina Santos developed a crush on a man at the Brazilian oil company where she was working, she did rather more than merely make sheep's eyes at him."
- David Randall; Fatal Attraction; The Independent on Sunday (London, UK); Jan 29, 2006.

lol! That was my decade-long »AWAD mailing list today.

Post-script: According to an Italian reader who responded to the mailing list, the analogous Italian term for this is "occhi di triglia" = mullet's eyes.