2004 Archives

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i spent a greater portion of today updating my web site. I've been meaning to put up my favorite photos that i've taken, so now I've got a photography page. Of particular note: Monkey now has a page of photos, and I've also posted some photos I've found pleasing as desktops.

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the Bible has more passages dealing with money than with any other topic. it's not how much money you have, it's what you do with it. remember!

we all have to buy stuff anyway... so here are some web sites to help you decide where to spend your money:


from buyblue.org:
BuyBlue.org is a concerted effort to lift the veil of corporate patronage so consumers can make informed buying decisions that coincide with their principles. We identify businesses that are moving toward sustainable growth and spotlight their dedication to progressive politics so we can support them financially, and we shine that spotlight on corporations that disproportionately value profit over people.

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for those who might be getting discouraged: we _are_ making progress. In the Bay Area, at least.

think globally. act locally.


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a haiku by Monkey:

people say i'm cute
what's the use of that, i say
i have no backbone

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from the CA vehicle code (thanks, craigslist forums!):

21959. It is unlawful for any person to ski or toboggan on or across any roadway in such a manner as to interfere with the movement of vehicles thereon. A person on skis proceeding on or across a highway at a pace no greater than a walk is not within the prohibition of this section and shall be considered to be a pedestrian with all the rights and duties thereof as prescribed in this code.

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oh, here's a fun fact: when you brush your teeth, brush as LIGHTLY as possible. Otherwise, you might brush your gums away, and they won't grow back (this happened to one of my coworkers).

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fun factoids:

1. under the Library of Congress catalog number system, the Bible is filed under BS.

2. the Cangjie input code for 履, meaning 'footwear, shoes', is SHOE.

3. i wish i had a third fun factoid to put here, but i don't. anyone?

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i took the GRE today. my fingers still kinda want to type in qwerty. damn the ets.

the gre is so useless. and expensive. the whole time i was sitting there being annoyed that i had to pay money to torture myself in stuffy room with a computer screen asking me things like what's the opposite of mendacity. i still don't know.

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yesterday a classmate asked me why i hadn't biked to school, and i told her the real reason: sometimes my arm hurts when i ride. then i had to explain the whole rsi thing, and they were shocked when i explained that the key to recovery is not to discontinue using your arms as much as possible, but to actually use them so as to strengthen them gradually. that is, after you've stopped using them enough for them to start healing.

it's a terrific excuse to go to the gym. i told david i joined 24 hour fitness, and he was like, oh no. so then i had to remind him that really, i went so as to prevent further injuries, and he was like, yes, that's true. and certainly, vanity has nothing to do with it. no, certainly not.

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the stupid guestbook has been more trouble than it's worth. first it kept getting spammed, so i had to fix that. now someone's taken advantage of a security hole that allows admin access to everyone and effed up the page. i'm lucky they didn't delete all the guestbook entries. but now i've fixed that, too. though i must say, it was rather clever...

basically, anyone can hack in to version 2.2 of the guestbook by leaving the username blank and typing this line as the password:

') OR ('a' = 'a

it's called an SQL injection exploit. and then whoever did it edited the latest guestbook post by inserting the following HTML (offending text has been censored):

<div id="post" style="position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 1024; height: 2000; z-index: 1; overflow: auto"> <table border="0" width="100%" bgcolor="#000000" height="100%" cellspacing="5" cellpadding="5" valign="top"><tr><td width="100%" valign="top">
&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;blah blah blah blah blah blah</font></td></tr></table></div>

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no help for RSI, but i find it vaguely therapeutic.

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From the Desk of Monkey--

ah, to be monkey, he said. how carefree, with no worries, and free travel to all parts of the world. well i'm monkey and let me just say, being me sucks. i haven't gone anywhere in four months, since we went to la to visit stacey. you'd think, living in the bay area, there'd be plenty of fun places to go. but nooo, with dominic it's all work or school.

so yeah, it's pretty boring being me. sometimes i sneak out and try to read the paper, but it's so depressing. what's going on in iraq? monkey sees no evil, hears no evil.

the school board election is all the rage now. with 12 candidates vying for 4 spots, it should be interesting. dominic actually knows one of the candidates, jane kim. she was an RA his sophomore year. i never really knew jane, just kwame liked to play with my tail once in a while, which was annoying.

ok, back to sitting.

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I must say, I am somewhat disappointed in the local library. The other day I went to the Chinatown branch to find some books for school, and I came across no fewer than THREE copies of that 1421 book. Then, in the Chinese section, I found The Egyptian: The source of The Taiwanese 古埃及文(台灣話的淵源)by 林明華. It makes no sense, but here's a little excerpt that I could make out from the preface:

This book was five years in the making. But, it is a little mysterious, in the first four years I was constantly encountering obstacles, until ten months ago I found the "Way"... practically overnight, using Taiwanese to read each Egyptian pictograph, no matter how long or short, it went just as smoothly as reading a newspaper....

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so i somehow managed to commit myself to digitizing all the fanqie spellings from the 廣韻 (a Sung-dynasty rhyme book) as part of my masters degree. That has since been downgraded to inputting only the ones that are easily typeable, but it's still a massive sort of undertaking. So I decided to learn 倉頡 (Cangjie, aka Chongkit) to input the characters, since on the computer i'm working on that's the one that supports the most characters. The input method I'd learned many years ago is called 大易 Dayi, but it's not very popular. meaning, i'm the only person i know that actually uses it. plus, it's not very well supported in general. Cangjie, on the other hand, lots of people use, and the HK government even provides a file listing all the characters in the HKSCS along with their Cangjie input codes. So now that I've learned both, I can do a little comparison.

I must admit, Cangjie seems a little simpler. First, there are only 24 keys to learn, versus 40 in Dayi. That makes it easier to figure out the correct input keys. Also, the rules (once you've learnt them) are more straightforward. It's a little unintuitive at first, because you have to split some characters in awkward places, but you get the hang of it pretty quickly. it's very graphically oriented--you eyeball a character and decompose it into small keyboardable parts--whereas Dayi is more writing-oriented (you type in the radicals in the same order they're written).

But the main reason i'm switching is that it's just better supported. My PalmPilot actually supports Cangjie with HKSCS, so I can do some work while on the road.

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I just transferred from telesales (spelled TeleSails) to the box office side of the operation at Blue and Gold Fleet last week. For those not in the know, Blue and Gold runs the boats that go to Alcatraz, among other places, and during the summer, I was taking orders over the phone for people who wanted to buy tickets. Just before Labor Day, John from the box office informed me that all their CARs (I still don't know what it stands for) were quitting on them to go back to school, and they needed more people, and would you like to transfer over? I told him I'd think about it. I thought about the extra money I'd make, and how I'd have entire days free with a new work schedule, and how I wouldn't have to sit in front of a terminal all day. I also thought about how the new job would kill my weekends, since I had to work Saturday and Sunday, but I figured, I don't do anything on the weekends anyway, and why not make some money instead?

So last Thursday I started at the new job, where you wear a silly jacket and answer people's questions and tear their tickets when they board the boat. It's kind of fun, and aside from the sore legs from standing all day (you get used to it), it's loads better than telesails. ("TeleSails, this is Dominic, howmayihelpyou?" "Do you have tickets for Alcatraz for today?" "We're sold out." "Really?" "Yes." "Really?" "Yes." "...wow..." repeat ad infinitum)

I told Tim (my old boss at the media access center) that i was tearing tickets for blue and gold fleet now, and he made fun of me. I suppose it's amusing, but I actually prefer it. Most higher-prestige jobs make you do all sorts of unhealthy and unnatural things, like sit and type all day, or work late and stressful hours, so I'm glad I'm avoiding that for the time being.

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dammit, people are posting guestbook spam in my guestbook. they post throwaway messages like, "nice site, good work!" and then a URL that they want you to click. augh. i have smote them with fiery anger.

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I chanced upon this scrap of paper on my father's desk. I'm not sure if I should be flattered or offended that he writes notes about me to himself.



A translation:

I urged him not to lower his head to the napkin to wipe his mouth after eating.

But Dominic said, "I'd only do this at home."
He also said, "This is the U.S., everyone has the freedom to do what they want."

1. This has nothing to do with freedom, he is abusing the term freedom. Temperament, moral character, conduct, demeanor. He makes tsik-tsik sounds as he eats, puts his feet up on the chair. How do you think other people will see him?

2. Doesn't think before he acts, speaks nonsense, doesn't know what he is talking about. This shows that he does not yet understand, has not yet reached that level.


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sfgate always has these witty summaries on their web site, and this one's just too amusing not to post...

Not Caught In The Headlights
Deer bolts across the Golden Gate Bridge in morning rush-hour traffic -- and fails to pay toll.

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right, so... i've set up a new guestbook (see link on right)... go sign it.

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yesterday, while searching for something completely unrelated on the net, i came across this truly scary web page. It referred to a book called Root Canal Cover-Up, by george meinig, which says that root canals are hazardous to your health. apparently, when doing a root canal, it's impossible to eradicate all the bacteria in your teeth, because there are little microtubules in your dentin where they can hide out in. normally, this is not a problem, since your tooth's pulp carries blood and oxygen in and can keep them under control. but a root canal removes the pulp, and now you have all these bacteria reproducing in an anaerobic environment, then all the toxins build up and leak into your body, and eventually the bad bacteria might even travel to other parts of your body, like your kidney or liver or heart, and cause horrible diseases. so i'm reading this web page, and i'm like, ohmygawd, i have TWO ROOT CANALS!

On the bright side, my teeth weren't horribly infected before the procedure--i just fell on my face and my teeth broke the fall, that's all--so maybe there's not a big bacteria problem there after all.

but what really bothers me is, how do you know who to believe? here the dental establishment is saying, root canals are perfectly safe, and then there's random book which i find referred to on the web page of some weirdo new age holistic shaman person (no offense) who swears that after she removed her root-canaled tooth a butterfly came and did a little dance to bless her newfound recovered health. i mean please, you probably just washed your hair in herbal essence that day and if there were bees around they'd be trying to get pollen off of you, too.

last year, i came across this book called 1421: the year the chinese discovered america (by gavin menzies). the author writes for like a thousand pages about how he's amassed these mountains of evidence that chinese ships actually sailed around the entire planet and left colonies everywhere they went, but due to an unfortunate change in government, the world colonization project was axed, stranding everyone in distant corners of the globe. anyway, it all seemed plausible... until i came back to my room and my roommate Jonathan made me see the light. Plus, I looked up the reviews, which all said that mr. menzies had a gear loose. really, i should've been very suspicious when i got to the part where it says that the Squamish of British Columbia had some loanwords from Chinese, such as tsil (wet), chin (wood), and etsu (grandmother). that's just wrong in so many ways.

my point is, a guy writes a book where half the stuff is just plain wrong, and most people won't know enough to know that. i cringe just thinking of some kid looking up mr. menzies web site and reporting to their class that tsil means wet in Chinese, just like in Squamish. but here i am knowing almost nothing about root canals, and how am i supposed to know if this root canal book is trustworthy? the difference is that this isn't romantic historical hypothesis, it actually has to do with your health. why would people want to make up stories about root canals? of course, i haven't actually read the book, only some web sites about it, but you know what i mean.

ooh, blogger has this new comment function, so you can add your own thoughts, too.

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I've moved my blog to my new domain, blyt.net. My friend Adrian is generously giving me some of his server space to host my web presence, and... well, this is huge! Now I've got more database and blogging and content management capabilities than I can shake a stick at!

So here's the plug: if you need a place for your web site, go to http://www.icestorm.com for all your web hosting needs. Reliable hosting, great prices, and friendly support. And you can't beat the 30-day money-back guarantee.

So, why blyt, you ask? Well, if you look up 筆 'pen' in ancient Chinese texts, you'll find the phrase 不律為筆. Roughly translated, it says "No rules is pen." This makes no sense unless you read it not for meaning, but for pronunciation: "The character 筆 is pronounced like 不 + 律", which linguists nowadays guess might have sounded like b-liwət. Of course, that's rather inconvenient for a domain name, and naturally blit.net was taken, so here we are. Welcome to blyt.net, where I shall put digital pen to digital paper.

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i was so shocked. my mom and my dad, having an all-out fight. normally it's me duking it out with my dad.

“做人最唔好係成日complain嘅啦”-- "The worst thing you can do as a person is to complain all the time," my dad says. "Always mumbling and grumbling," he says. My mom was saying how he hadn't made enough to eat. "The fish is barely enough for one person," she had pointed out. "And we don't even like eating taro." Apparently my dad took great offense at this. "I spent a lot of time and energy on this meal," he says loudly (he's always loud). "There's four dishes, for four people. That's enough! And this is a new kind of taro!" I surveyed the four dishes he'd spent so much time on: green beans with strips of onions and five carrot slivers; mushrooms with six slivers of ham; large square pieces of taro with some pieces of sausage; and the aforementioned piece of fish. I contemplated asking him if he would enjoy eating four plates of ants if they were the best kind of ant and I had spent all my time and energy preparing them for him. I kept my mouth shut.

The argument went down the usual avenues, with my mom stating obvious facts, like "You never listen" and "the only reason there's food left is because everybody's too polite to eat it all themselves," and my dad ignoring her and saying things like "you shouldn't talk unless we actually _finish_ all this food" and "there's always food left over" and "now you're making things up" and "everyone's always complaining."

I finished my bowl and went to make some tofu. Realize that I haven't cooked in any sense of the word since the all the 火鍋's i went to in Taiwan. My mom stormed off to do whatever. My dad sat there not saying anything. Normally he'd be getting the 飯焦, the rice gruel we have for the second half of the meal. I noticed her bowl was gone from the table. When the rice gruel was ready, I guess my grandma noticed too.

“五嫂,你唔吃飯焦?” she asked my mom.

“唔吃啦,” my mom replied. “吃飽氣。”

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Working through old issues of Genesis (my high school's quarterly magazine), I came across some shocking news: Elaine de la Cruz had died. Elaine was my year. She was editor of the school newspaper, had a weird sense of humor, and had a ridiculously long commute, since her family had moved to Danville.

I saw her name in the obituary section, and I could not believe my eyes. Her car had flipped over or something, she was driving cross-country. She is survived by her parents and her siblings, the notice says.

That night, I had a dream. Elaine and I are chatting away about the notice in Genesis. "I know, everybody thinks I died," she says. "It was all a big mistake," she tells me. "It was actually my parents who died in a car accident, and the editor got the news but somehow mixed it up. Everybody's been calling and asking about it," she says. I am sorry to hear about her parents.

I wake up, and it takes me a while to figure out it was just a dream. I feel freshly disappointed.

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i went to buy a new bike helmet today. they say that after your helmet's been in a crash, you should replace it, even if it doesn't look damaged.

i didn't even think to look at the helmet until the periodontist brought it up. all the doctors asked, were you wearing a helmet? where did it happen? but Dr. Baker also asked, was your helmet all scratched up? and i honestly didn't know. i mean, sure, it hadn't been ripped to shreds, but in the three and a half weeks since the accident, i hadn't even looked at my helmet. i had other things on my mind, i guess.

actually, i hadn't even ridden my bike at all the whole time. i finally did, on tuesday. biking seems like such a dangerous proposition now. going down that path in the middle of golden gate park is still fun. but now i try to keep my eyes on the road and my hands on the handlebar.

as a matter of fact, the helmet was a bit scratched up in the front. not horribly, at least not for a helmet. of course, if the same thing happened to my forehead, i'd have more than scratches to worry about. i imagine all the horrible things that _could_ have happened to me: concussion, broken nose... and i'm glad i was wearing gloves, and long sleeves, and long pants, because that just meant fewer abrasions.

but still, i miss my front teeth. technically, they're mostly still there, but most people don't really care what's under the gum line, anyway. the first thing that went through my mind when i looked at the damage in the mirror was, "oh no, what if i'm ugly forever? then nobody will like me!" because, you see, swollen lips will unswell, but broken teeth don't grow back (unless you're a shark).

well, thanks to modern technology, they can at least attach some fake replacement teeth. but apparently the periodontist is wildly popular, and it'll be two or three months before i'm fully deuglified.

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the woman looked like she was in her fifties. I anticipated the high-pitched beep confirming a full fare deposited as she dropped the coins into the fare machine. $1.25 total.

the beep never came.

the man behind her reached over and hit the cancel button. then he inserted his $1.25. it beeped, and he boarded.

"hey, you have to pay the full fare," the driver said to the woman.

"i did!" she said indignantly. "i put in a dollar twenty-five, like i do every time," she insisted. i thought maybe i should say something to back her up, something like, "yeah, i saw her, the guy behind her cancelled it so it didn't beep!" but i didn't.

The bus driver was annoyed now. he started taking the bus on a random detour. where were we now, moraga? back down to 43rd? for some reason, he was driving the bus backwards. oh great, i thought. now it'll take forever to get there. if only i'd said something, i thought. now we don't even know where we're going. as it turned out, after some more circuitous turns, the bus arrived (still backwards) at the marina. i got off and started walking.

in this area there's always tourists. i passed by some place that looked vaguely familiar. "look, harold," a tourist was saying. i listened in on the words directed at harold. "that cave contains an entire house!" now i remembered. i'd been to the front of the house before; now we were at the back of the cave. i ducked past some other tourists taking pictures as i made my way to the next part of town, Paris.

Here I am in Paris, i thought. maybe i should call up Hoang. no wait, he's back in California already.

the light rail rumbles past me along its tracks.

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the path from amoeba records back home is almost completely downhill. there's nothing quite like careening down golden gate park at top speed on your bike. in my less practical moments, i imagine a world where the path from anywhere to anywhere is all downhill, both ways.

my other idea is that all the avenues here should run as flat as possible. none of that silly up-and-down, just follow the contour lines. my friend david points out that that would create large irregularly-shaped blocks, plus if the cross-streets ran perpendicular to them, they'd follow the line of steepest descent (oops), which is certainly not what you want for your average city street.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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