2007 Archives

Him Mark Lai

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Today I went to a lunch thing, a Roots program reunion in honor of Him Mark. Him Mark is basically THE guy who got the field of Chinese American history going. My contact with him is through setting up the Roots village database:


He's actually very inspiring. He knows pretty much everything, and he's been collecting materials on Chinese America for most of his life. He's donating his collection to the Ethnic Studies Library here at UC Berkeley.

I found an interview with him from 2003, published in The Public Historian. It's autobiographical, and a fascinating read:

Him Mark Lai: Reclaiming Chinese American History

We talked a little bit today about migration history. He said it would be interesting to map out where all the clans were, just to see the geographic distribution. This shouldn't be too hard, if we fiddle with the database, since the map locations are all in there...

BART map

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They were replacing the BART System Maps today (they're changing the lines that go to SFO vs. Millbrae), so I retrieved one from the recycling bin at Embarcadero Station. It's huge and laminated and magnetic, and hanging on our freezer downstairs. It's awesome.

Comments and OpenID

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so I think I got comments working here... so if you're reading this, please post a comment to test it out! (it'll make me feel important)

the system will make you log in, but it turns out you can use this thing called "OpenID", and if you use AIM (among other things), you already have one. In the AIM case, it's just openid.aol.com/screenname.


the idea of a single username everywhere you go on the net is interesting, and might be especially good for things like random blogs (like mine) where you don't want to make an account, but the maintainer of the blog (like me) would be annoyed at removing comment spam otherwise. let's see if it takes off...

how to read 躍?

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Brushing up on my Chinese, I came across this character: 躍. “I wonder how you pronounce it,” I said to myself, and tried to look it up under pinyin yào, since it shares the phonetic with 耀 ‘shine’. No dice.

As it turns out, 躍 ‘leap’ is Mand. yuè / Canto. joek6 (or joek3). But in Middle Chinese, it was homophonous with 藥 yào / joek6 ‘medicine’ (they’re listed right next to each other in the Guangyun). They’re still homophonous in Cantonese, but in Mandarin they’ve taken on separate readings. A similar thing happened with 角 ‘corner’ (Canto. gok3), which is sometimes read jiǎo and sometimes jué.

To add to the confusion, here are some more characters with the same phonetic but read differently:

  • 耀 yào / jiu6 ‘shine’
  • 戳 chuō / coek3 ‘jab, poke’
  • 擢 zhuó / zok6 ‘pull out’

Movable Type!

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I spent today converting my old blogs to this nifty new system. The main advantage over blogger is that you can have yearly archives, instead of monthly.

I haven’t been posting much at all this year, due to the stress of taking my MA oral exam (I passed!), commuting to Stanford for the LSA Institute over the summer (it was interesting, but for some reason not as fun as Santa Barbara—perhaps it was the expensive on-campus housing, or the shorter length), and finally this semester GSI-ing 130 (historical linguistics) and taking field methods and trying to work on QP’s all at once, which David M. said was “near suicidal”. Next semester I’ll be GSR-ing for STEDT, which should be more amenable to my work habits.

Let’s see, what else is good about this new system… I think you can put in comments, and there’s also an RSS feed too, I think…

Tibetan input

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i just discovered Christopher Walker's Extended Wylie Tibetan keyboard layout (for os x). i'm impressed, you can do rather sophisticated things with these XML files.


Of course, this is after I spent many hours figuring out how do this using the old Carbon APIs. Enough to know that I don't ever want to have to, and that I'm glad they wrote OpenVanilla.

My disappointment with OV is that it really only does character-by-character input. I want something like the ABC input for simplified Chinese, only it would generalize to any sort of romanized input, like Cantonese. That would be slick.

Cantonese corpus

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I just found out (at Alan Yu's Phorum talk today) that there's a Hong Kong Cantonese Adult Language Corpus, with speech from radio call-in shows. Well, this is great news, I can use it for all sorts of papers now.

skateboard and smart BART card

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two things that have noticeably improved my quality of life: (1) skateboard (I know I said this already... but it's so light and rides so smooth), and (2) my new smart BART card. It's about time. I just plunk my wallet on top of the sensor and it reads my bart card through my wallet. It's almost like I'm in Hong Kong, except there's no satisfying beeps.


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i went to visit granny today. she's in the hospital seriously sick. I took the N to UCSF. As we exited the Church Street tunnel, I admired the bike mural. It really is one of my favorite pieces of art. I like the picture of a bike utopia that it presents.

In my mind, I picture the co-op as a mini-utopia. Or perhaps, in my dream. A place where people live healthily and sustainably and harmoniously. Everyone recycles, the house is well-insulated and energy-efficient, meals are nutritious and made from locally grown, organic stuff. But I guess not everyone wants the same thing for the house. And we get bogged down with the mundane details of everyday life which have to be attended to. Maintenance. Workshifts. Ordering food. I do not envy the job of the kitchen manager.

But I like to think my dream is not too far-fetched.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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