July 21, 2011

Weird mom: boyfriends are less stinky than cats

Posted in Life, Uncategorized at 2:57 pm by changisme

I love cats and I love guys(or rather a guy). I decided to adopt a cat and (for some unknown stupid reason) felt I had to tell my mother, even though I knew she would totally flip out. We had the argument on the phone. She reminded me how the kittens my dad insisted on bringing home 20 years ago were so naughty, and how they stunk when they peed on the floor. She reminded me how the hair was everywhere at my grandparents house. I won’t list all her objections. She even half jokingly said, for each day she’s alive on this earth, I can’t get a cat. My aunt, her sister, got wind and had similar objections.

It’s so strange because they never objected that much whenever I date a guy. Even when I told them Zhangfei will move in with me, they didn’t object. Why is this?! Men are much more troublesome and stink much more than cats. They also have lots of hair although the shedding isn’t quite seasonal. They also die early. Worse, I can’t even neuter them. Why do my mom and aunt hate cats so much more than men?


July 16, 2011

San Diego 3: Animals

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:55 pm by changisme

Finally, I have sometime to look at the rest of our San Diego trip pictures. I just love all the pictures we took at the San Diego Zoo. I wonder if that’s a form of maternal instinct. In other words, I’m actually baby crazy but I don’t really want a human baby yet, so instead I keep wanting to look at animals. I know this is a far stretched conjecture, but why else do I feel the compulsion to look at some mentally underdeveloped, innocent, self-centered individuals who eat, sleep and play fight all day? Oh god, this is some scary introspection…

The first time I went to San Diego a long time ago, we didn’t go to the zoo, because whoever took me there felt it was too expensive, and they knew all I would do was to look at goats. This time around, I enjoyed all parts of the zoo, and I can’t even say which is my favourite. Maybe the otters?

The polar bears were much more active than any other large animals we saw. I think it’s because these are a pair of playful youngsters. The zoo keepers said that in order to keep the polar bears from over heating, they put them on a diet (with more carrots), so they lose quite a bit of fat and hence can endure more heat. I’m not sure what to this of this tactic. We do a lot of things to animals in order to keep them in foreign habitats, and this is certainly not the least humane. Nonetheless, this feels like starving the model in order to keep them on stage.

And then there’s the lazy folks…








I love giraffes, simply because of their incredible looking tongue and disproportionally small head. When I saw the line up of the above 3 giraffes, I immediately thought about I Just Can’t Wait To Be King.

I do criticize media for inaccurately portray the false harmony in nature, as if animals and plants get along. It’s similar to the silly assumption that hunter gatherer societies are devoid of war and exploitation. We, being less in touch with nature, should learn what it’s like to respect nature with all its complex ecological politics. Having said all that, when different species dine together, it’s still quite cute.

The following picture I dedicate to my dear friend Jane, who once had the courage and patience to stare at these critters in the middle of nowhere for 4 months.
There are quite a few meercat dwellings in the zoo. The keepers told us that this is partly because different mobs don’t get along. For each of these locations, we only saw the sentries.

Meercat mobs are quite interesting. The alpha couple govern the group together, and they usually evict fertile females. It’s quite weird. On the one hand, they want a sizable gang for easier survival. On the other hand, they don’t want genetic competition. It’s like us girls. We want girlfriends to gossip with, but on the other hand, we back stab each other because they waggle their asses in front of our men.

Vultures, on the other hand, just congregate for no good reason. First one flies up, then a second one follows.

Then a third one joins them.

Eventually, everyone’s on the tippy top of the tree and the latest bird has nowhere to stand. Sounds like Beijing’s restaurant fads? Every couple of years, there would be a restaurant fad blowing through the streets of Beijing. Every second store front would be a restaurant, and every second restaurant would be following the fad. A short lived fad was Shanghai food. A pretty cool one was spicy crawdads. A fun one was skewer bars. Ultimately, each of these fads end and go back to making Sichuanese food. YES SICHUANESE FOOD NEVER DIES!

Most animals were sleeping in the afternoon heat of San Diego summer. I thought I would be more disappointed, but they look so cute!

Even the albino python.

Okay, I don’t actually know if it’s sleeping. It’s simply not moving. Maybe it’s pondering on its own existential questions. It’s quite interesting that we only ask “Why isn’t <insert animal name> moving?”, but we don’t ask “Why is <insert animal name> moving?”. Should we all not move by default unless we need to reach for a glass or water or do laundry?

Not all cute animals are in the zoo. In fact, I saw some in a bar in Hillcrest. They belong to the same mob, because they have quite a few commonalities:

1) a love for music;

2) the same last name;

3) an irrational fear toward bees;

4) an irrational love toward very bitter beer and coffee;

5) a lack of coin pouches leading to spraying coins all over the floor;

6) a need for long and slow… umm. I think my post is getting TLTR.

July 12, 2011

San Diego 2: The food

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:52 pm by changisme

I really looked forward to some good Mexican food in San diego. On our first day, as lunch time was drawing near, we texted our local host and was recommended a taco truck called Mariscos Taco Truck 3.

The truck is in a parking lot where people bought Mexican coke from the corner store and ate giant tacos. We later ate tacos again in another place. It appears the tacos in this part of the country is just giant! There’s no way anyone could pick it up. It also didn’t seem like people were using forks. I was somewhat at a loss to how these culinary delight.

This is a seafood taco, there’re at least 5 types of seafood in there including salmon!

I don’t think there’s anywhere in Seattle where you can get taco this full. It may be a bit unnecessarily large, but still it tasted good.

In the evening, we met up with Zhangfei’s cousin Ben and Ben’s girlfriend Angela. They took us to a Indian restaurant called Punjabi Tandoor, a hole in the wall in the middle of several office buildings. The place was packed. Some of them just buy take outs. We had two types of lamb curry and both are great. It’s not extraordinarily spicy, but had a very rich flavour. It’s about the same level of good as Chili’s in Seattle. Nothing trumps good company though, so we talked a great deal, and didn’t take any pictures.

On the following day, we didn’t pay much attention to the restaurants we went to because we were a bit hungry and just wanted something quick. However, we did try California burrito for the first time. It’s potato chunks with some meat and sauce in a tortilla. I’m not a big fan of it. Zhangfei felt it’s not too bad.

We did have good coffee afterwards. It’s in a coffee lounge called Filter. We heard this from our host Steven also. They roast their own beans. The drip coffee is one of the best I’ve ever had. My taste in expresso is not as refined, so I don’t have a strong opinion on it. I liked both.

The last day was family day, we mostly stayed inside and made spagetti, dumping everything we love in it, namely tomatoes, capers, anchovies, ground beef, parsley, garlic, onion and olive. It wasn’t my ideal summer food, but it felt great cooking on our own after eating out so much.

In our very limited time outside, we got free Slurpy! We had no idea, but it happened to be 7/11, so 7/11 was giving away small slurpies, tehehe, who would have thought?

San Diego 1: The silly us

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:14 pm by changisme

The desire to take a vacation had been boiling within me for awhile before we finally decided to take one. The choice of San Diego was more dictated by time constraint than anything else. It turned out to be an excellent choice.

Steven, our host from Couchsurfing, kindly picked us up from the airport near midnight on Friday. He and his partner live in the Hillcrest area, in a pretty little house with arch windows and artsy decors. So here comes the first silly thing we did, or rather I did.

We sat on the couch and chatted over beer. Being a fiddler, I played with this “center piece” on the tea table. It’s black, has two legs, a torso and a head. There are two screws on the hip and neck. I bent it here and there and asked our hosts, “What is this?” They smiled and asked us to guess. Zhangfei stayed smart and didn’t really guess, but I said, “Is it a man in a straw hat?” Joe said, “You certainly aren’t an engineer.

Eventually, they had to tell us that it’s a GPS holder for the car. 汗…… I guess this is what happens when neither of us ever drive.

The next morning, we took the bus towards the water. Our original destination was Cabrillo National Monument, but for numerous reasons, we got lost and ended up with some gorgeous beach and

The houses around there had very lush and professional looking gardens. I really hope the owners are paying their gardeners good salaries. The boats and surfers were just waking up to the lazy saturday morning, while the water gently licked the beach.

Later that night, we met up with Zhangfei’s cousin Ben. I am quite used to being the one who’s bad at navigation, but having three people all bad at navigation was quite new and amusing to me. Usually, you hear people walking around a parking lot not being able to find their car. For us, the silliness was magnified proportional to our brainlessness. We wondered around Hillcrest looking for the actual parking lot. I think we are all quite used to things of this sort, so nobody was really displeased or stressed.

Zhangfei really has great faith in me, because the next day, he followed me again. Want to know what happened? We walked to the opposite direction of where we wanted to go, which is the Balboa Park. Since we walked down hill, the view was gorgeous. I also got to see more gorgeous gardens.

Getting lost once again was slightly irritating, but we eventually got to where we wanted to go. What do we do when we are tired and warm?

Stand up…

Climb trees and…

and read on the smart phone. If you are going to play smart phone, might as well do it on a soft lawn and under a large tree right?

Last but not least, we neglected sunblock and hats. Now that we are back in Seattle, and the first day of work was cloudy, I feel quite good that we got some good sun shine.

Some belated attempt to prevent neck sun burn.

July 5, 2011

Great view like this makes me hate my crappy camera!

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:59 pm by changisme

Whoever said highways can’t have great views? I admit I don’t love highways as much as Zhangfei, but I certainly loves walking along it and ponder about our love hate relationship with urbanity. These pictures are so fuzzy though, I wish I had a better camera.

highway view of Lake Union

Lake Union from the highway (I-5)

There’s some unadorned and unattended beauty along the highway. There is really not much suffocating byzantine artificiality people usually associate with urbanity and civilization.

lots of sail boats on Lake Union

They are all on their mother f*ckin' boats!

Lake Union is like the Manhattan of Seattle Sail boats. There are a lot of them despite its small water surface. One of my coworkers told me that taking the sail boats out to bigger lakes or the Sound requires a big car with a big rack, so they don’t usually take the boats out of Lake Union. It’s funny how urban this actually is despite the fact that sailing sounds like such a away-from-the-big-city type of activity.


... the sad thing is, I wouldn't have room for waterskiing.

Doesn’t this look like a bunch of people wearing colourful T-shirts walking around downtown?

I feel people don’t actually realize how much they love the city. Nature is fascinating, but it’s also strange beyond much of our imagination. It reminds me of some boy when I was young. He said once that he would love to date someone who’s foreign and very different, but the truth was, he just liked the idea of dating someone who’s different, but didn’t actually know those who were very different from him, let alone loving them.

July 1, 2011

Weird English – active vs. passive voice

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:05 pm by changisme

Open University sponsored a fun series of flash videos called the History of English. It jokes through the evolution of the English language in 10 minutes.

My favourite is the second part because I love to make fun of the British for making all French words fancy even though the two countries kept fighting.

The last chapter of the video talked about how only a quarters of English speakers in the world today are actually native speakers. There should really be a House of Commons for us and give us some say in the legitimacy of grammatical rules. Why should what I feel natural/colloquial be any less legitimate than some old dude and dudess with saggy transparent skin? They may lose their teeth soon so they won’t be able to speak properly anyway!. What I read in Strunk and White today is one of those confusing weird issues I always get in trouble for.


Use the active voice.

The active voice is usually more direct and vigorous than the passive:

I shall always remember my first visit to Boston.This is much better than

My first visit to Boston will always be remembered by me.The latter sentence is less direct, less bold, and less concise. If the writer tries to make it more concise by omitting “by me,”

My first visit to Boston will always be remembered,it becomes indefinite: is it the writer, or some person undisclosed, or the world at large, that will always remember this visit?

This rule does not, of course, mean that the writer should entirely discard the passive voice, which is frequently convenient and sometimes necessary.

The dramatists of the Restoration are little esteemed to-day.

Modern readers have little esteem for the dramatists of the Restoration.

The first would be the right form in a paragraph on the dramatists of the Restoration; the second, in a paragraph on the tastes of modern readers. The need of making a particular word the subject of the sentence will often, as in these examples, determine which voice is to be used.

The habitual use of the active voice, however, makes for forcible writing. This is true not only in narrative principally concerned with action, but in writing of any kind. Many a tame sentence of description or exposition can be made lively and emphatic by substituting a transitive in the active voice for some such perfunctory expression as there is, or could be heard.

There were a great number of dead leaves lying on the ground. Dead leaves covered the ground.
The sound of the falls could still be heard. The sound of the falls still reached our ears.
The reason that he left college was that his health became impaired. Failing health compelled him to leave college.
It was not long before he was very sorry that he had said what he had. He soon repented his words.

As a rule, avoid making one passive depend directly upon another.

Gold was not allowed to be exported. It was forbidden to export gold (The export of gold was prohibited).
He has been proved to have been seen entering the building. It has been proved that he was seen to enter the building.

In both the examples above, before correction, the word properly related to the second passive is made the subject of the first.

A common fault is to use as the subject of a passive construction a noun which expresses the entire action, leaving to the verb no function beyond that of completing the sentence.

A survey of this region was made in 1900. This region was surveyed in 1900.
Mobilization of the army was rapidly carried out. The army was rapidly mobilized.
Confirmation of these reports cannot be obtained. These reports cannot be confirmed.

Compare the sentence, “The export of gold was prohibited,” in which the predicate “was prohibited” expresses something not implied in “export.”

Passive or active voice? I write scientific papers and people always say these days, never use passive voice. I find it a completely bizarre rule.

The invention of passive voice is attributed to Homer. Language structures invented by poets really shouldn’t be taken seriously (IMO). However, since he’s Greek, and all Western (self proclaimed) bookish people love to read Plato, who loved passive voice, it became pretty popular. The heyday of passive voice was probably the medieval period. If you say words from that time is difficult to understand, I think it’s not really because of passive voice.

In the modern era, many proclaims the simple and straightforward English, stripped of all pretension. I feel this was a rightfully rebellion against Victorian England.

Why do I have a problem with this movement? There are two reasons. One is that, the way we learn and inherit a language is by reading what other people have written (and watching soapies and talking to pretty boys). For example, Tolkien loved to use passive voice, and it’s perfectly natural to say “rings are made” rather than “some shadowy we-don’t-know-who made rings”. There are 3 epic length books plus one YA prequel. After reading those, you can’t help but absorb a whole lot of passivity in your language. Another example, formal documents we encounter everyday are full of passive voice. Trying to unlearn these things is like trying to wash out the salt from marinated pork.

Another problem I have is related to the first one. Passive voice is completely appropriate in many circumstances, which is why it’s all around us. More often than not, the active subject of an action is irrelevant or implicitly understood. If someone in the department is giving a boring talk but with cookies, I only need to know COOKIES ARE PROVIDED. I don’t care by who. Another example, if someone is trying to explain the results of an experiment, saying “the results are presented in 3 sections … ” is perfectly clear. Why is that any worse than saying “we present the results in 3 sections?” Plus I hate the whole “royal we” business, but I digress.

In general, I’m just pissed at those people who constantly want to stop me from using passive voice even when it’s appropriate. If I were like Plato, talking philosophy in passive voice, I probably don’t want to be understood anyway, so just sit down and be patronized!