People of the Andes (Cont’d)

Zhou Mi are posting new pictures on a daily basis. This (In the fog) is my absolutely favorite so far. He described to me on the phone before I actually saw it, “A mountain road, foggy, two small children happened to be in front of the fog, they were walking hand in hand. It was very clean. Peaceful.” In my mind i thought the back of two kids walking away towards the fog.

When I saw the picture, i fell in love immediately. Not only they were walking toward us (i should’ve known! When did he ever take picture of people’s back? duh!), but their body languages were so vivid, and at the same time so vastly different from each other. The little boy, with a grin on his face, was pushing the girl forward(toward Mi, we would assume, a stranger with a magic black box in his hand, wearing a foreign looking backpack). He was full of mischief and a hint of daring and courage. The little girl, on the other hand, was struggling with a shyness that was almost as thick as the fog behind them. Her right arm swayed backward, her left arm was as if fighting to remain by her side. She looked a little off balanced. Her legs were taking rigid steps forward, as if paralyzed by her shyness. Her face was hiding under the ubiquitous wool hat. We couldn’t see her expression verywell. But it was perfect, because we know she was hiding. Her whole being wanted to hide, yet at the same time her curiousity wanted to sneak a peak at this oriental looking stranger herself, too!
There was an air of camaraderie surrounded them. Kindness and intimacy.

The deserted mountain road, the little house in the fog, even the person on the bike that formed a silhouette, set up the most perfect back stage. For these two little persons to walk toward us…

I dont’ know if there are words perfect enough to describe this perfect moment, this perfect picture. Mi stole a jewel from God’s favorite creations. For this image, we are in debt to him.

People of the Andes

Zhou Mi just got back from his one week trip in Ecuador. 20 rolls of film, he said. He just started developing them yesterday.

“I learned 7 Spanish words!

Buenos dias (Good morning. To be frugal, I used it in the evening, too);
Gracias (Thank you. I also used it in the case of an apology);
uno, (one)
dos, (two. Five is one plus two plus two);
manana, (tomorrow. The day after tomorow is tomorrow’s tomorrow);
si, (yes. I used it whenever i didn’t understand);
agua, (water. Wine is the kind of water that makes you dizzy);

Armed with these seven magical words, he hired guide, made friends with the native people, traveled in the narrow moutaineous road to their homes, went from Quito to Cuenca. People of young and old, occupation ranged from farmer to artist to resturant owner, dressed in modern style and traditional poncho…

Guamote’s animal market on Thursday.

To see more, check out Zhou Mi Photography during the coming days. He would be posting more as he developes them in New York’s heat.

For those who can read Chinese, check out ÐÐÉ«. He is posting under the name Shishamo.

Academia and Politics

Over the weekend, i read a story series posted on It vividly illustrated how Chinese University functions in the research level. How professors treat their students(crappy), how a research group obtain funding(bribe), how people write their thesis and research papers(plagiarize), etc. etc..

I forwarded the story to some friends and my sister, who is in her fifth year as a graduate student. I asked her what it was like in her school.

Here is her responce:

I read the first 30 or so installments, and I think I got the gist of the story. There are definitely politics in the academia in the States, but it’s nothing comparable to the stuff in the story. At least I can argue with the professor’s secretary and not worry about whether or not I’ll still be paid. In terms of grad students being free labor, it all depends on the particular professor. Mine is about one of the best, and has never forced anything upon us; but there are definitely those who do treat their students like crap. But on the whole, people are here to do research, and politics do fall second to academic achievement. Your advisor’s network of influence may come to matter when you’re looking for a job, but to hold anything down you still need to be a good researcher yourself.

Anyway, that’s the way things are in my circle. I hear even in France and Germany, things are pretty different.

There’s probably plagiarism and fake experimental results in academic papers here, but it’s very very disreputable, and no one with any self-respect would do it. It is definitely NOT what looks like the accepted trend in China. That’s really scary that they could make up numbers like that for REAL bridges and buildings. !!

And here is the story (in Chinese. The original series is on, which i believe is banned by China. I found this version on the author’s website, hopefully people in China can read this):

The NEW Story of China’s Ancient Past

Late afternoon, lying next to my cats, on the floor in front of our garden door, as the cascaded sunlight slid past, I was reading July Issue of National Geographic Magazine. It has a feature story on China’s Shang (ÉÌ) Dynasty’s Bronze. How newly discovered sites proved that China during Shang period (1600 to 1045 B.C.) was not a unified China; how the originally confirmed Shang king only had control to a small area the size of three river valleys, in Yellow River plain centered in Anyang(°²Ñô); how two independent sites discovered in Sichuan(ËÄ´¨) demonstrated equal if not superior skills in bronze technology and artistic accomplishment; how these two long neglected sites show the political influence in Chinese archaeology. Is it possible that Chinese Han Culture didn’t start in Yellow River plain, but from Yangtze River Valley?

Regarding archaeology being used to justify political ideology .

…Under the communist government, archaeologiests emphasized Shang “slavery” beause it was an essential developmental stage of the Marxist social progression that led, like some Darwinian beast rising from the muck, to feudalism, capitalism, and finally the pinnacle of communism.

…In the West, European archaeology first flourished during the 19th centure, inspired largely by the ascendant middle classes. In part, the bourgeoisie became interested in tracing the devlopment of ancient societies – stone to bronze to iron – because this path implicitly justified their own faith in material progress.

Inscriptions on oracle bones, the first artifact proved the existence of Shang dynansty, the oldest writing record of Chinese language.

…But even as scholars looked back at the Shang, the inscriptions revealed that the Shang had been gazing into the future:
“In the next ten days there will be no diasters.”
“If was raised 3,000 men and call upon them to attack the Gongfang, we will receive abundant assistance.”
“Lady Hao’s childbearing will be good.”

…And yet some inscriptions ring across the centuries with haunting beauty and mystery:”In the afternoon a rainbow also came out of the north and drank in the Yellow River.”

…Sometimes the court engravers later recorded whether the prediction held true. One memorable epilogue reads: “After 31 days…[Lady Hao] gave birth; it was not good; it was a girl.”

Fascinating Read!
The NEW Story of China’s Ancient Past

In a related note, there was a pretty interesting radio interview in last week’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross: Paleoanthropologist Tim White:

He was the co-leader of the team that discovered three very important skulls in Ethiopia. The human remains are about 160,000 years old and offer evidence of the earliest ancestors of modern humans. They bolster the theory that modern humans emerged in Africa and are not related to Neanderthals, who lived in Europe. White is a professor of anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley.

The part of this interview that I enjoyed the most was his description of his life in the desert plain of Ethiopia. They drove SUVs up and down cliffs, seeing ancient animal fossils from four million years ago, washed out by rain, stood in the sand: hippos, giraffe, crocodile, etc. The life of an archaeologist! It seems so remote and romantic. Like the people in Ondaatje¡¯s the English Patient, or Crichton¡¯s Timeline, or Indian Jones. They are the favorite for many writers and movie directors. But I¡¯ve never known a archaeologist in real life. This interview painted a more realistic picture for me. Here is someone who truly loves what he does; I can hear his passion and his knowledge. He even sounded geeky from time to time. His talk also made me long for the desert plain of Ethiopia, where I have seen in the golden African light when I watched the National Geographic series Africa.

Maybe, someday¡­

…Rome was not Ruined in One Day Either.

Found an interesting website. I liked his “crazy ideas”. The host is an AI ph.d. student at IU, a good writer, and a self-taught “historian”. Here is a short article (in Chinese) that compares today’s US to Rome, and other powerful empires that had risen and fallen throughout human history: °ÔȨµÄ·´µ¯. I’m ambivalent about his main argument, but I enjoyed reading all the historian events he quoted to prove his point.

The City of Clowns

The New Yorker is running a Debut Fiction edition. It contains three short pieces from well-known authors and three from new comers. My favorite is “Gogol” – What’s in a name? by Jhumpa Lahiri. Not able to find an on-line version, though. 🙁
You can find all the Debut pieces here. I like LOVE LESSONS, MONDAYS, 9 A.M. by LARA VAPNYAR, a story from Moscow, Russia; and
CITY OF CLOWNS by DANIEL ALARCÓN, a story from Lima, Peru. For some reason I like the latter more. It is a simple and quiet story, with the typical sadness that seems perpetual in South America. Reminded me of Jorge Luis Borges, the incredible writer and poet from Argentina…

– Jorge Luis Borges

Oh destiny of Borges
to have sailed across the diverse seas of the world
or across that single and solitary sea of diverse
to have been a part of Edinburgh, of Zurich, of the
two Cordobas,
of Colombia and of Texas,
to have returned at the end of changing generations
to the ancient lands of his forebears,
to Andalucia, to Portugal and to those counties
where the Saxon warred with the Dane and they
mixed their blood,
to have wandered through the red and tranquil
labyrinth of London,
to have grown old in so many mirrors,
to have sought in vain the marble gaze of the statues,
to have questioned lithographs, encyclopedias,
to have seen the things that men see,
death, the sluggish dawn, the plains,
and the delicate stars,
and to have seen nothing, or almost nothing
except the face of a girl from Buenos Aires
a face that does not want you to remember it.
Oh destiny of Borges,
perhaps no stranger than your own.

A little geek-talk for today. 🙂 Here are some interesting facts learned by a novice webmaster.

I signed up with my hosting company this March. Ever since then, I’ve learned a few things about running a website by reading Apache log file. Aside from identifying all kinds of Microsoft IIS virus calls, I’ve also noticed the interesting trails made by “spiders”. A spider is usually used by a search engine such as AltaVista and Google, and it will index and cache every .htm page on my site.

At the very beginning I thought someone was just going through my site page by page. Wow! How interesting! A Fan! 🙂 Soon I noticed the lack of any image loading. Since 80% of my site is made up of images, it seemed rather odd. So i did a search on my favorite search engine and learned the truth about “user agent” (sounds like Matrix, huh?). Mean while, i learned the beauty of internet, which is– everyone can say what he wants, and every host has the right to deny any kind of access he doesn’t like. Soon robots.txt comes to the rescue. When any of the well-known search engines comes knocking on my door, my website will give the stranger my copy of robots.txt that tells it to go away. It does. What a beautiful thing! 🙂

But, there are search engines who don’t follow this convention. They do not ask for robots.txt, instead, they come in uninvited and start indexing my pages anyway. It is a little rude. So taught me another way, .htaccess– which manages a deny list of all ips. So i sent those rude IPs to a HTTP 403 Error.

Today, a new IP did just that. I dutifully put it on my deny list and then checked out where it is from.

NAME: QWEST-63-148-99-224

So i felt a little uneasy. Arlington, Virginia! Does this has anything to do with The Big Brother??? So I again went on and found out I’m not alone. Quite a few people have complained about this ip and this particular quote made me smile:

# Tell the folks at Cyveillance to take a long walk off of a
# short pier. If they can’t be bothered to read and honor
# the robots.txt file, the heck with them.

RewriteCond %{REMOTE_ADDR} ^$
RewriteRule ^.*$ [R,L]

For further details, go to, look up the Apache
web-server documentation, and read up on the mod_rewrite module and
the RewriteCond and RewriteRule commands.

That’s why i HEART the internet. 🙂

Ultima Online & Play Money

Last year, there was a fascinating article on the New Yorker PIMPS AND DRAGONS by ELIZABETH KOLBERT. It introduced me to a virtual world invented by designers of the virtual reality on-line game Ultima Online (U.O.). Today, I came across someone who is earning a living (REAL $$) by buying-and-selling “real estate” exists only in U. O., and he has a blog devoted to such transactions! Check it out: Play Money

A few quotes from the New Yorker article:

U.O. took more than two years to design, and, … a great deal of that time went into trying to perfect what was known as the “resource system.” Under this system, both natural and man-made objects were coded according to the imaginary resources that went into them¡ªa sheep, for example, was a couple of units of meat and a couple of units of wool¡ªand the total pool of each resource was fixed, so that there would always be a certain amount of meat in the world and a certain amount of wool. One of the goals of the system was to produce a naturalistic and therefore dynamic environment: the sheep would get eaten by wolves, and as the wolf population grew the sheep would decline.


Even as experienced gamers, Koster and Vogel were taken aback by what happened next. U.O. went live in late September of 1997, and by early October Britannia was on the brink of environmental collapse. “The creatures had all gone extinct, because people had hunted them out completely,” Koster recalled. “The land was completely deforested, so no more wood was growing anywhere. And all the mines had been mined out.” …

Under the resource system, players could gather raw materials, like ore, and make them into finished goods, like armor, which, once used, would begin to break down and reënter the pool as raw materials. Players, it turned out, liked to make things¡ªthey were turning out hundreds, and even thousands, of swords and shields and gauntlets¡ªbut instead of using them, or throwing them out, which would have had the same effect, they hoarded them. One player reportedly had a collection of ten thousand identical shirts. The result was that there were hardly any materials available to replenish the pool, which deepened the environmental crisis.

Interesting, huh? So much for socialists¡¯ ideal where people only take what they need and work when they are able.

Another interesting fact is the four natural categories players automatically fall into¡­

Ever since electronic multi-player role-playing games first appeared, in the form of multi-user dungeons, back in the late seventies, there has been much speculation about what draws people to them. Richard Bartle, an Englishman who might be described as the Claude L¨¦vi-Strauss of the MUD world, once proposed a four-part typology, dividing players into “socializers,” “achievers,” “explorers,” and “killers.” Even though U.O., with a quarter of a million subscribers, is two or three orders of magnitude larger than even the most populous MUD, Bartle’s scheme fits the game pretty well.

As time has passed, community oriented players have introduced into Britannia a wide variety of ordinary, not to say humdrum, social rituals. They organize pet shows and comedy nights, put on amateur theatricals, and regularly hold disco parties in the dungeons. Marriages are commonplace in the game, and when a player dies in real life a funeral is usually held for his avatar; players leave virtual flowers on the virtual grave. In Austin, over and over again I was told stories of friends who meet in the taverns of Vesper and Trinsic to do nothing more remarkable than pretend to drink beer and pretend to play chess.

The game’s achievers, for their part, have managed to produce an overheated, almost Hamptons-esque real-estate market. Buildable lots are scarce¡ªin some areas unobtainable¡ªand such is the demand for mansionettes that it has spilled out of Britannia. On any given day, eBay has a couple of thousand auctions running of U.O. homes and other paraphernalia. Recently, I saw on the auction site an enormous castle for sale in Trammel that had received twenty-two bids and was going for eight hundred dollars.

The killers, meanwhile, have not confined themselves to killing. They’ve organized themselves into murderous factions and extortion rackets. …

Someone Dear is Far Away

my heart hangs in the air
pulled by a silky string from afar
  knowing he is alone out there,
dissappearing into the mountains,
  into the crowd of colorful natives,
a long distance bus stop in the middle of town,
  took him away this morning.

The vast landscape surrounds him,
   will he feel amazed?
   will he be happy?
   will he be in his elements, finally?

This worry, continues to nag me.
   Will he be hungry?
   Will his feet hurt?
   Will he catch a cold in the rain?
   Will he get sick?
I worry.

A sense of helplessness
A sense of surrendering
let fate run its course

He dissappeared into the thick fog others call fate,
   or the land of strangers,
   or the unknown,
   or a long journey

I am waiting anxiously on the other side,
  waiting for his emergence,
  with a beaming smile,
  dusty shoes,
  scratchy face,
  many tales,
  images captured on films,
  stories entered his life, without me.

Suddenly I understand those dark nights that my mother must have endured,
  waking up in the quietness of the night,
  wondering where I was alone out there,
  in Europeean cities, in the Rockies, in Amazon Jungles,
  up in the mountains, down in the sea

So this is how it is,
When someone dear is away
and their voice, the only key
to unlock my worried heart,
to unlock me

Why does M$ Decide to Kill IE Now?

A good article from Jeffrey Zeldman’s Daily Report:
Conspiracy theory

¡°It took [Bill Gates] ten years to erase the web as a threat. It¡¯s done now. He owns it, it¡¯s in the trunk (I know you don¡¯t like to hear this), it¡¯s locked, and they¡¯re driving it off a cliff into the ocean.¡±

My Two Dark Princes

I have two black cats. They are twin brothers and they wear identical tuxedo coats. When they were little, the only way to tell them apart was Paris’ white chin. As they grew into their adult selves, they adopted markedly different “personalities”(shall we call it catsonalities instead?) as well as body forms. Mars is relaxed and fat, Paris is neurotic and relatively thin.

At night when the house is all quiet and I’m typing away on my laptop, Paris always keeps me company, sleeping in the papasan chair adjacent to me. Sometimes Mars will join him. Whenever I turn off my computer, no matter how quiet I am, Paris always wakes up in a start and stretches out his white paw for me to pat, Mars will yawn and turn up his white belly asking for one last scratch.

In their typical cats¡¯ offhand-ish ways, they never follow me into my bedroom. Oh, no. That¡¯s way too sappy for their tastes. Sometimes in the night, Mars settles on my blanket. Every morning I wake up and find him sleeping soundly by my feet. We never figure out where Paris spends his night. He is rather mysterious that way. I think he rather enjoys keeping us in suspense.

A few more recent pictures of the cats.

A Bird Nest

Mom found this little beauty lying on the grass Saturday morning, under the magnolia tree, no eggs inside. Pay attention to the lining. Can you tell what it was made of?

Dog hair! That’s right! It is homemade by our German Shepherd, Nappy. 🙂 Mom has told me earlier last week that she noticed some of the birds were picking out Nappy’s hair from our back patio floor. “They were holding the threads of hair in their beaks by the middle, so they were flying up and down looking like birds with mustache.” The birds did an incredible job to wave the dog hair together. I asked mom whether we should try to put it back up the tree. Mom said the birds won’t take it anymore since we humans have contaminated it. 🙁

Traveling as a Foreigner

Eric Meyer is considered the guru on CSS programming. His website contains the most advanced and the coolest usage of CSS. Last night, however, I read his travel journal of his honeymoon in China(1998). He went to see the Three Gorges before it was submerged under the dam.
Across the Middle Kingdom.

Seeing China through a foreigner’s eyes was an interesting and alarming experience. It was like looking through a very thick fog. All the disjoined pieces and impressions that formed “China” in Eric’s mind. I suddenly realized that this was probably how I learned of Spain, France, and Ecuador? Places where I went and didn’t speak a word of the native language, places where I went as a tourist. I’ve realized how limited my experience must have been and how constrained. Just like how Eric had seen China.

One thing that was communicated fully was the natural beauty of the Three Gorges. It is a shame that I would never see it with my own eyes. Reading his account made me think of the ending of the Fellowship of the Ring, when their boat passed the gigantic statues that guarded the river to Gondor…

“Did You Ever Eat Tasty Wheat?”

Came across an article this morning: “Did You Ever Eat Tasty Wheat?”: Baudrillard and The Matrix.

Be forewarned, it is long! I’m only half way through. But while i was wading my way through all the unfamiliar concepts such as Baudrillard’s simulacrum, Plato’s cave, Descartes’ epistemological certainty, blah blah blah; a thought suddenly popped to my head. Whatever Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity are trying to do, it is not very democratic, is it? If like Morpheus said many people who live in the Matrix don’t want to be unplugged, then what right do they have to “liberate” them?

quiet resonance

Do you want to learn a lif lesson on how to dissappear? Assume a new identity? Become a new person legally? For step-by-step instructions, try quiet resonance. Click on “candyfloss” and search for “disappearing”.

I really like this apple computer advertising line he quoted, too.

“here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the see things differently. they’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. about the only thing you can’t do is ignore them, because they change things. they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, and are the ones who’ll do it.”
– apple computer advert [ screened 10.97 ]

A side note on my earlier entry on Auther Sculzberger, Jr.. He was sent to Harvard Business School to take MBA classes. He hated them because “companies that Harvard Business School wants you to run are aimed at accumulating wealth, while Tims‘ goal is to accumulate value.”

Hard Times at The New York Times

The New Yorker on-line has a section called From the Archives. Right now, the feature of the section is Hard Times. It included three old profile pieces the magazine has done for three influential figures of The New York Times: Howell Raines(60, Executive Editor who resigned last week), Joseph Lelyveld(66, previous Executive Editor, Raines’ predecessor), and Auther Sulzberger, Jr. (52, Publisher, Chairman of Times Company).

I just finished reading the one on Auther Sculzberger, Jr., who succeed his father in 1992 as the publisher of Times, which remained till this day a family business. Auther Jr., forty-one years old, growing up in the 60’s and ran the family business his way.

He has promoted a boldness¡ªsome critics would say a shrillness¡ªof opinion on the paper’s editorial and Op-Ed pages. And he has prodded editors into broadening the paper’s news coverage to an unprecedented degree in an effort to appeal to a younger, more diverse readership. (He once remarked that if older white males were alienated by his hipper version of the Times then “we’re doing something right.”)

Most important, he has radically changed the Times’ corporate culture by encouraging the hiring of more minority employees; by promoting more women to executive positions; and by demanding teamwork and open communication in a work atmosphere that was notorious for its backbiting and petty rivalries. He has also demonstrated an ability to make tough decisions. He recently removed his first cousin and best friend Dan Cohen as senior vice-president of advertising,

What really caught my eyes was this!

… he has refused to join the boards of prominent cultural institutions or philanthropies. On weekends, he pursues his great passion of rock climbing, in the Shawangunk Mountains near his country house in New Paltz, New York.

A Rock Climber! That’s a boss I would die for. Someone who is brave enough and stupid enough to hang his life on a rope hundred feet off the ground, that is someone you can have some serious fun with. You know you won’t get bored, for sure. 🙂

And a Star Trek fan:

He took off his watch and showed us an inscription on the back: “Live long and prosper,” the famous greeting by “Star Trek” ‘s Mr. Spock. “My favorite episode of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ is the one in which the captain gets a chance to relive his youth,” he told us. “He vows to not make the mistakes of exuberance that he made then. So the greatest mistake in his life never takes place, because he doesn’t allow it to take place. And when he’s whisked back [to the present], he’s an underling. An underling! It’s an amazing story, because what he learns is that those mistakes were what helped define him¡ªthe things that pushed him a little bit…

He went to Tufts University in 1970 and got himself arrested twice during antiwar movement. His dad Punch was running the family business then.

Punch had showed little reaction after the first arrest, but when he got word of the second one he flew to Boston. Over dinner, he asked his son why he was involved in the protests and what kind of behavior the family might expect from him in the future. Arthur assured his father that he was not planning on a career of getting himself arrested. After dinner, as the two men walked in the Boston Common, Punch asked what his son later characterized as “the dumbest question I’ve ever heard in my life”: “If a young American soldier comes upon a young North Vietnamese soldier, which one do you want to see get shot?” Arthur answered, “I would want to see the American get shot. It’s the other guy’s country; we shouldn’t be there.” To the elder Sulzberger, this bordered on traitor’s talk. “How can you say that?” he yelled. Years later, Arthur said of the incident, “It’s the closest he’s ever come to hitting me.”

Nepotims is rare in today’s America, but it has been practised dutifully for over a centure at Times since Auther Jr.’s great-grandfather Adoph Ochs bought this newspaper in 1896. Auther Jr. himself has been put through a tough “training” program to make sure he would be ready for the job.

Reading this article made me want to check out the book writen by the same two authors of this article: “The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind the New York Times” by Susan E. Tifft and Alex S. Jones.

“What Liberal Media?”

I remembered hearing the interview on Freshair when Terry interviewed Journalist Eric Alterman, the author of the book What Liberal Media? The Truth about Bias and the News. The interview itself was informative and entertaining, but the title of the book left a far stronger impression in my mind.

I finished watching season four of Sex and the City yesterday. The fact that they made Miranda to have her baby is a true testimony to Eric Alterman’s theory, the Conservatives have taken over the mass media. Or shall we say the current administration has exerted its power to the heart of the supposedly Democratic dominated New York City?

An in-demand young partner at a law firm, with a strong personality, fiercely independent and witty single woman, with all that in her hand, the producer wants me to believe that Miranda would give all that up because she is worried about her ovary would give up someday when she is ready for a family! Hello?! Anybody home? It simply doesn’t add up. Now come to think of it, when is the last time we have been allowed to see any main character goes for an abortion on main stream media? Friends? E.R.? Murphey Brown? No one has had a baby in Ally McBeal yet, has it or maybe i just missed it?

Depressing. 🙁

On the surfing front:
Due to the Jayson Blair scandal, New York Times’ executive editor, Howel Raines, and Gerald M. Boyd, the paper’s managing editor both resigned last week. Here is a profile ran by The New Yorker last June: The Howell Doctrine: It is a short biography of Raines, his career in the news paper world, his management style at New York Times. In between, we are also offered glimpse of the inner working of New York Times newsroom and the empire itself. The relationships among its editors and its owner/publisher. Informative and interesting read.

The Hairdresser

My friend Bonnie has many theories about hairdressers.

“Every hairdresser tries the hardest to please a new customer, thus the result is always the best on the first visit. So you should never go to the same hairdresser twice.”

It may sound like an impossible task, but Bonnie is very good at hunting down the most popular hairdresser of the month. She travels a great deal for work, and manages to get a new haircut at every big city she ends up that month – New York, Toronto, Vancouver, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris, Madrid, etc. etc. etc. She is very fond of getting haircuts. Comparing to her, I’m the laziest person in the hair department. I stick with the simplest, most easy to manage style and can hibernate in it for years before I wake up one day and realize I¡¯m desperately in need of a new look.

Whenever that happens, all I need to do is to tell Bonnie that I¡¯m ready. The following weekend we would for sure be sitting in a new hair salon and getting our haircut together.
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The Most Poetic Festival

Last Wednesday (June 5, 2003) happens to be the Chinese Double Fifth Festival. In Chinese it is called Duan Wu (¶ËÎç). Since all Chinese festivals are marked by some special food, this one is associated with Zong Zi (ôÕ×Ó). Each piece of Zong Zi is a small tetrahedron of sticky rice wrapped inside a large bamboo leaf. Depends on the local custom, the sticky rice could be mixed with red beans(sweet version, it is supposed to be eaten after dipped in sugar), or marinated pork chunck(salty version).

When we were living in San Francisco, our landlord lady used to give us a plate of their homemade Zong Zi every year when Duan Wu came around. Their Zong Zi was the Cantanese variation. It contained not just marinated pork, but also salty egg yoke, peanuts, and Chinese sausage. Eaching our landlady’s Zong Zi was like unwrapping a small bundle of treasures. One never knew what would be in the next bite.
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All Asia Pass for Just $699!

Cathay Pacific is offering All Asia Pass from the U.S. now available for purchase from just $699! Travel must occure between Sep.1 – Nov. 31, 2003. 21 days total, fly to Hong Kong and any or all of 17 cities in Asia!!!!! It can’t get any better than this! We can go diving in Cebu or Thailand. 😀 Shopping in HK or Tokyo. Yippe!

The Ending Is Hard

When I was in elementary school, one night mom was going over my composition homework. She asked me to rewrite the ending and then gave me an analogy to bad ending of a story, “It is like when you are eating a pack of roasted peanuts,” She said, “you’ve enjoyed the entire pack, they are delicious, but then comes this last one, and it is bitter!” I remembered her frowning expression then, she continued, “The bad taste remains in your mouth for a long while and how you would remember that pack of peanuts? You forget all the delicious ones, but you will never forget the bitterness of the last and only one. The same thing goes with stories.”
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A Face Lift

Inspired by Alex the Girl, i gave the weblog a face lift. Color Theory is my weakness. It is one subject I’ve been having trouble with since the very beginning. I’m still not getting it. So my fool proof (literarily, trust me) method is trial and error. It works for me but it is very inefficient. 🙁

Therefore I need all the help I can get, here are a few very useful website that helped me a great deal in the color department:
EasyRGB-Color harmonies, complements and themes: I used this most often. But colors it provides tend to be on the contrasty and bright side.
Color Match: the javascript could work better, but it complements EasyRGB by providing more subdued colors within the same theme.
Palette Man: After you get all four color plus text set, try “rotate”. It is an excellent way to show how arrange the same group of colors differently will provide such different mood. Only have web safe colors though.
Scheme Machine: A good way to help decide the color of active links and visited links and how they look against different background color. It also gives you the final html code. Web safe colors only.
xblog-color: Want more? Try this! Tons of color theory related links. Go crazy! 🙂

Alex the Girl

To live is the rarest thing in the world.
Most people exist,
that is all.
– Oscar Wilde

Stumbled into a new site Alex the Girl and saw the quote above.

The site itself is excellent. A very simple and visually pleasing design. Something I’m hoping to do for this page, soon. She is a freelance writer, lives in BC, Canada. She doesn’t update often, but every piece is well written.

I liked her tag line as well. Her secret was this: While most people searched forever for the needle, she enjoyed the hay.

Nabokov’s Strong Opinions

Saw the Chinese translation of some quotes from Nabokov’s book Strong Opinions. So i went on google and found an English version. Rather interesting.

A couple of sample quotes:

– As an artist and scholar I prefer the specific detail to the generalization, images to ideas, obscure facts to clear symbols, and the discovered wild fruit to the synthetic jam.

– With the Devil’s connivance I open a newspaper of 2063 and in some article on the books page I find: “Nobody reads Nabokov and Fulmerford today.” Awful question: Who is this unfortunate Fulmerford?

Some Chinese ones:



A: ÎÒ²»ÓÃÓïÑÔ˼¿¼¡£ÎÒÓÃÐÎÏó˼¿¼¡£ÎÒ²»ÏàÐÅÈËÃÇÊÇÓÃÓïÑÔ˼¿¼µÄ¡£ËûÃÅ˼¿¼Ê±²¢²»Òƶ¯Ë«´½¡£


It has been a sunny sparkling typical SF Bay Area day. Light breeze and tons of birds chirping up in our maple tree. We opened all the doors and windows, to let in the air and light.

I spent the entire day reading Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex (apparently the Pulitzers Price for Fiction winner of the year).

It is a birthday gift from Gui. I’m on page 322 (out of 520 pages). It is a family saga that started in 1920 and ended in 2000(I’m guessing since i’m not there yet but it did mention GW Bush’s election). It started in a small Greek village above the city of Bursa of Asian Minor, went to Detroit in 1920’s, and to present day Berlin.
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