Saturday, February 6, 2010

Olympic fast food challenge

questionable directions to McDonald's

I'm having trouble finding this McDonald's. Can anyone tell me where 120th Avenue is in Surrey?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Genius iPod

I was pleasantly surprised on my iPod today when it succeeded in giving me a Genius playlist based on "Because, It's Midnight". Those who know who performs this song may be similarly amused. My amusement began to turn sour short after the first automatic pick ("Black Dog"), when I realized that that would be the only real song in the mix. Everything else was from the same or one other album. I'd like to see who can determine the identity of that other album from the track list below:

Because, It's Midnight
Black Dog
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
The Cheat Is Not Dead
Mr. Tambourine Man
Nite Mamas
Highly Illogical
These Peoples Try To Fade Me
Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins
If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song)
Everybody To The Limit (Live)
It Was A Very Good Year
The System Is Down
I Walk The Line
Sweet Cuppin Cakes Theme Song
Put A Little Love In Your Heart
The Ladies In My Town All Know My Name
It's Like It Was Meant To Be
Spock Thoughts
You've Got An Ugly & Stupid Butt
Music To Watch Space Girls By
Somebody Told Me (Now I Believe Them)
How Insensitive

Friday, August 28, 2009

New Logitech Trackball

I'm enjoying gems from its "Quick-start guide":

Congratulations! Enjoy basic trackball functions, such as left- and right-button click.


Trackball features

  1. Marble® technology, optical trackball. Control with your fingers to move the cursor.

Good thing they printed this in four languages.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Since recently!

I feeling like putting this down for posterity as I am listening to 54-40 tonight for the first time in ages.

A number of years ago, Alison and I were at an (otherwise perhaps somewhat boring) political function, but happened to run into Neil Osborne (54-40's singer), who'd presumably been dragged there by a significant other who was affiliated somehow with the aspiring politicians of the day. We wouldn't have recognized him but fortunately Alison's aunt did. The brief conversation with him began (and soon hereafter ended) with something along these lines:

Alison: (to Neil) We really like your music; I've been listening to it a lot lately! (to Owen) What's the name of that album I've been playing?

Owen: Since When.

Alison: Since recently!


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cellularly telephonic luck

Last week Alison's dad Simon arrived here on his third trip to China, beginning with his second visit to Hohhot. He left here on his solo adventure last night.

On the first night that Simon was here, we were at a restaurant and I couldn't find my cell phone. I figured it had fallen out of my pocket on the way out of the taxi or something. However on calling it we reached someone who apparently was neither a phone thief nor a lost-phone-salvage person, but a cab driver. After speaking with our (Chinese) friend Jessie briefly he told us to wait there, and a few minutes later arrived back at the restaurant and returned the phone to me! So I send out into the grand Internet universe two thank-yous: to Jessie for the provision of translation services at sudden notice, and to the very decent driver for not only returning my phone, but driving out of his way to do so.

I still plan to replace the phone next week, but losing it would have meant a bunch of inconvenience, plus the loss of photos, contacts, and my SIM card. It's on its way out still though because it's missing the back battery cover (which admittedly would only be 80 yuan to replace, much less than the price of a new phone), and also will no longer close (it's a flip phone) without freezing or turning off. (That in fact is another stroke of luck in the phone's recovery: The driver had closed the phone but somehow he still was able to answer it when we called.) Also it's a Motorola, and I've decided after two phones of that brand that their interfaces pretty much universally suck.

Camera in bitsIn other broken technology news, a month or two back a bunch of us did a trip to the grasslands, followed by a day in the desert. I foolishly kept my camera in my pocket while I was being buried in sand, so now it likes to say "Lens error" instead of working. I even cleaned it out a fair bit with a toothbrush, but there's some sand in spots I can't reach and although the lens assembly has gone from not-moving-at-all to moving-with-a-disconcerting-grating-sound, the camera still won't take a picture.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Shaky exercise ball chair

Today I was at my desk and thought I was experiencing a dizzy spell when I felt like the ball I was sitting on was swaying. Turns out (as my dear readers may have already heard from some more reputable source) it was a magnitude 7.8 earthquake, albeit it 800 miles away. In fact it was near Chengdu, where Alison just bought a ticket to fly at the end of the month.

Windy nightBefore this, the closest thing to a natural disaster I had to write about was the windy night we had a week or two ago. While walking home I was amazed to see the railing down the middle of the road had blown over. I didn't think railings were ones to fall over. I mean, they're railings—shouldn't the wind just blow through them?

In other news, my second bike was stolen yesterday. While with the first theft I could admit some negligence in leaving it out on a busy street with only one small lock on. But this time it was in the bottom of our stairwell, locked twice, and only there because we got home too late the night before to return them to the garage.

But I suppose I have more to be thankful for than to complain about, given the death toll at the other corner of the country.

Does your town have a curtain rod district?

To celebrate making my first post in quite some time, I'm going to aim to be only positive for a change.

Today I tried a new route for my walk to school.1 I chose the route because I looked at a map for once and it looked shorter than the one I'd previously taken, but I found it was nicer in other ways, too. Mostly it was just pleasant because it took me past a park and involved somewhat less trafficked roads.

People frequenting parks and quieter streets in the morning can be an amusing sight. The "free spirit" nature of most Chinese people (i.e. lack of self-consciousness) is quite refreshing. Any of the below are likely to fit into many people's morning routine around here:

  • Performing Tai Chi or something approximating it.

  • Walking backwards for some distance.2

  • Visiting an outdoor free gym and using some piece of equipment in whatever way you see fit.

  • Standing anywhere and waving one's hips every which way.

Regular, forward-type walking is allowed, but while doing it you're encouraged to swing your arms. A lot.

Hey, I think it's great that so many people get out and get exercise though, as funny-looking as it is in many of its forms. And heck, these are people who need this activity even less than us Westerners do because the majority of them are still walking or cycling throughout the day just to get around. It seems in the West that if you're not a couch potato you have to be a crazy yoga freak and there's little middle ground. (Yeah, I know that's an over-generalization. I'm just making a point.)

Anyway, on to my walk home from school. Midday reveals different things than the morning.

Chinese cities (in my limited experience) like to group their stores in clusters. For instance, here in Hohhot we have the kitchen supply store district. Then there are at least two substantial strips of bicycle stores around. When I was on the bus to go and deal with my student visa I saw the toilet store part of town. These areas are hard to miss as samples of the wares in question are typically put out on the sidewalk. Well today, I walked past somewhere new:

The curtain rod district!

There were fifteen or twenty such stores all in a row. (Yeah, yeah, they probably sell curtains too, but the rods are what was on display outside.)

Come to think of it, I could do to go back there sometime soon. Our kitchen has no curtain.

Curtain rods!

1After my bike was stolen a while back I decided to see how reasonable it was to walk to school. I've since replaced the bike but since I found that it only takes an hour to get there on foot (compared to twenty minutes riding), it could do me good to walk now and then anyway. Walking has a few benefits: I notice more stuff along the way, I can review my Chinese flashcards while I do it, there's possibly less chance of being in an accident, and it's slightly more exercise.

2I don't necessarily recommend this one. One of Alison's students recently had to (or will soon have to) be treated for a fairly serious head injury incurred while walking or running in reverse. (I think it was part of the PE program at his school.)