November 2006 Archives

Faye Wong - Di-Dar

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When a girl (I don't remember her name) asked me last week which Faye Wong album I preferred, I spontaneously answered, well, you know, Fable, otherwise known as "Yuyan" in Chinese, with the first five songs that followed each other. For the rest of the week, I had copied my whole Chinese music collection to the laptop ("bauhinia", it was christened), and listened to a lot from it, including F.I.R., a Mandopop rock band from Taiwan that is sort of reminiscent of Japanese two guys / one girl trio in the style of Do As Infinity (more than, say, The Brilliant Green, who're somewhat more cute and cool than the D.A.I.).

So, I was saying. Come to think of it, the answer would've been true a year or two ago, but today, I think I prefer the Di-Dar album, one of Faye Wong's Cantonese albums which came out in 1995, the same year as the Teresa Teng cover album (Decadent Sound of Faye) and the year after Chungking Express and reprising The Cranberries' Dreams, to put things in perspective. I liked Sky (Tian Kong / Teen Hong) a lot, as well as Chesspiece (Qi Zi / Kei Tsi) of 1994.

Di-Dar, with the exception of the Di-Dar song itself (too much Casio), is appeasing, like a glass of Horlicks on a rainy night. It's not monotonous at all: if you listen to it from one end to the other, it goes from open loving arms, to some more restrained darker emotions (moments of doubts, I guess), before going back to languishing over there on the couch. No theme and Comet (this one in mandarin; a special track I suppose), the last two songs are definitely nightfall.

These are respectively tracks 5, 7 and 8, all the very mellow and hopeful songs:

Faye Wong - Perhaps
Faye Wong - Enjoy
Faye Wong - Half

An erudite newspaper like the Economist also likes to have fun.

And via xw, discovered EastSouthWestNorth, an extraordinary website that takes articles from Chinese newspapers at large and translates them to English.

I think that when I have the money to buy (and time to play...), I'll be investing in a PS3, b/c of Final Fantasy. The Wii's graphics might actually play more than the gameplay, as the graphics were less than impressive in a live version I saw this weekend. And the Xbox 360 is just irrelevant.

Empanada night

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Met up with Simon, and had food in the neighborhood. I was totally out of ideas, so previously decided to fetch out my valuable web resources. First, I checked MontrealFood.com, and Googled out An Endless Banquet (more specifically, its food guide), quite a ref in Montreal-based food blogs. Finally shortlisted Chez Jose, and La Chilenita, both of which served empanadas and were within the same area within the Duluth/St-Laurent/Prince-Arthur/St-Denis quarter; by chance, La Chilenita's kitchen was closed by 6PM, and we grabbed some empanadas to go on the way to Chez Jose.

The empanadas at Chez Jose were definitely inferior. This year's Mirror Best of Montreal voted them the best for soup, but the soup du jour was, perhaps homemade-tasting, but slightly on the bland site (potatoes and turnip based, with what seems like broccoli, etc.). They have a tomato and blue cheese (hm?) soup on Thursday, and seafood soup on weekends.

I took my "Chilenita" empanada from La Chilenita (beef and onions, and other vegetable, w/ a piece of hard-boiled egg) home to eat. The empanada from Chez Jose was not well-heated and its skin, way too thick. On the other hand, the empanada from La Chilenita was very good, its skin, quite thin enough, and the filling, quite tasty.

Oh yes, it's contagious

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Besides the slight cold that I'm currently fighting (I usually have a good immune system to quell down infections of all kinds), that is. I would now like to hear that sort of non-arranged acoustic Mandopop performance. You know, that sort of Taiwan-produced music, usually has some related extremely teary videoclip. My brother has been singing this Tong Hua etc-etc (not even singing, more like humming passionately) song by some Mandopop star I don't recognize. Anyways: here. All I can manage to sing in my head is Hei Se You Mo, by Mister Jay Chou, which is recorded live on the version I have. Cheers.

Affogato

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Made an affogato just fifteen minutes ago. Never heard of it before two weeks ago (I still keep calling it afrogado, adofrago, etc), but is like the infamous ice cream ball in a coffee (which I've been familiar with since early childhood... or was it ice cream in hot choco?), it's another arranged marriage of dairy fats and coffee. We have an espresso machine, and after having this afternoon's cappuccino, I remembered about Astrael's affogato post, and vaguely planned to buy ice cream. So, got myself some Quebon/Breyers vanilla sort (apparently, Breyers splits its branding image with Quebon for the vanilla flavour - I'm sure it just means Quebon has a license to make Breyers ice cream in Quebec).

For an affogato, first prepare some of the darkest possible espresso coffee and put it in the refrigerator for an hour or two in advance - freezer is ok, but better keep an eye on it. When the coffee has chilled, scoop out some ice cream in a plate with sides. Using a small spoon, try to coat the ice cream with coffee, and watch. At first, it may seem like it all drips down on the plate surface, but actually, what remains on the ice cream solidifies and gives a more of less thick crust to it. Coffee ice cream is miles ahead my favourite kind, so this recipe is a treat to me (my mother thought it tasted like bad ice cream you left in the freezer for too long). Other foodpics: 1 | 2 | 3.

Affogato

DIY laptop sleeve (temporary)

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Making laptop sleeve - one

Making laptop sleeve -  two

Making laptop sleeve - three

I'm a crafty guy, so I've decided to make my own laptop cover. It's temporary, b/c this one is just made out of a random piece of flannel ($1.02, taxes included) from Fabricville. I'll see how it fares in the next few days. Already, the flannel gathers dust.

Did this one by hand, first sewing both sides, three times each, and then sowing a four-layered piece of fabric at the bottom. I made it to protect the laptop from dirt and scratch-potent objects in my usual sleeve bag (where I plan to carry my laptop in), but is not strong enough to be held by itself. What'd be nice is a piece of minimalistic cotton one would use for making table cloth (but thicker). Thick synthetic textiles or some padded fabric could be nice - but I could use a sewing machine, which my grandmother has.

FFXII

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Like, seriously, it's this sort of thing that make me want to spend 2.5 times more for a PS3 than a Wii (considering that we don't have a PS2 or can't get one easily). I'm also hoping that someday, if I don't throw money off the windows for a PS3, that someone, somewhere will want to sell his PS2 at rebate such that I can play some... FFX. To think that it came out in '01. Sigh.

Basically, on the course of three days, I reinstalled Ubuntu 4 or 5 times, because I broke my installation from manual installs and installs from third-parties... In the end, I did the following:

- Let Ubuntu handle the wireless network adapter. Formerly, the driver (ipw3945) was previously said to be missing from Ubuntu, but it is now in linux-restricted-modules (which isn't installed by default either).
- Install the nvidia display taken from the Nvidia website. Followed these instructions (while getting the build-essential package, as well as the linux-source). There's a bunch of things I can do with my graphics card, like TwinView. See README. Here is the xorg.conf file I used. (The version from packages doesn't seem to support Beryl)
- Install Beryl + Emerald from the Ubuntu Beryl Project repository (deb http://ubuntu.beryl-project.org/ edgy main-edgy). More details.

And then, I'd like a virtual machine, and a couple of network services, and also an easy way to access my network resources. Phew! Sleep now - something I haven't had for the past week... Oh yeah, and Windows games. :P

This is the output of my df -Th:

Filesystem Type Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda2 ext3 20G 2.8G 16G 15% /
/dev/sda1 ext2 96M 8.4M 83M 10% /boot
/dev/sda3 ntfs 50G 7.9G 43G 16% /media/sda3
/dev/sda7 vfat 4.7G 312K 4.7G 1% /media/sda7
/dev/sda6 vfat 35G 142M 34G 1% /windows

I always prefer to install the Windows partition before the Linux one, because Windows will overwrite your MBR and call the Windows boot loader that doesn't detect any non-Windows OS present. Besides, the Linux one (GRUB) is superior, per its flexibility and customizability.

But before starting installing the OSes, one must partition. What I did was first to boot with my Ubuntu CD (6.10 Egdy Eft), and use gparted to partition my disks. Perhaps I could've done it otherwise, but I had time and still went through the whole installation (which took perhaps 10 minutes. sda1 to 4 are primary partitions, while the three others were logical ones (with swap memory somewhere in there).

Out of a total space of 120Gb, I chose to give Ubuntu only 20Gb, and Windows, 50Gb. The remaining space is of fat32 filesystem and used as storage space accessible in read and write by both OS (35Gb - sda6) and for built-in "media center" features. Before partitioning, on top of the main preinstalled Windows Media Center, there were two smaller partitions of 2 and 4Gb respectively. One was seemingly for Dell's Media Center implementation, and the other is some sort of backup WinXP.

After partitioning, I rebooted with the Windows Media Center CD that came with it.

Re: Toys

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IMG_0501

Asian indie in Montreal

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Is a lonely sport to practice. I was thinking that I was perhaps the only (or one of the only ones) Asian indie music lover in the whole city of Montreal... which is an odd thought? But shouldn't the Internet be able to rectify these things? Like, can Last.fm be powerful enough one day to fish out someone else who listens to Chinese pop, Japanese Shibuya-kei, ramdom Electronica shitz fed by your friends, French Candian oldies, and your various staple English-language indie music? The answer is that it's probably NP-complete (the Mystery of Life is not computable, hey).

Cao Fang - Saturday Sunday
Cao Fang - Icy

That is indie music from teh Mainland China by a female artist, Cao Fang (You can actually hear the first song from her weblog). Her 2004 album, 黑色香水 (Black Perfume), is unfortunately sold out on Yesasia. Sometimes sounds like the experimental Faye Wong of late, but I think that a lot of things sound like Faye (or Faye sounds like a lot of things - like how Madonna recycled the formerly fringe electronica with Confessions).

Salmon, sweet

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We love salmon, me and my brother, but my father hates it. My mom is okay with it, but dislike it sweet. Basically wanted/managed to alienate everyone's stomach (and mine, afterwards) with some salmon fillet served with a wine+butter sauce, mustard/brown sugar gratin. It was, how can I put it, a clash of flavours. The wine and butter sauce by itself would've been nice, say with some herbs. A little less wine would've been nice too (flavour diluted too much). It's basically melted butter, to which you added some table white wine, brought to boiling point and simmered for a while. Herbs like celery salt, bay leaves and very little cumin (couldn't find cinnamon) were added, and poured over the uncooked salmon, which was immediately put into the oven, pre-heated to 350C. A mix of various mustards we had in the fridge ("ultra-hot homemade", one with seeds, regular Dijon) were mixed together over a 1/4 cup of brown sugar (the resulting mix homogenates surprisingly well, into what's reminiscent of a honey/mustard dip for McNuggets). After cooking the salmon for ~20 minutes, I poured the fake McNuggets dip over the salmon, and top-broiled it for 5-10 mins. Served with rice.

We had oysters from Caraquet, NB. $15 from Cosco, for 18 of them... After the wine&cheese, an oysters fest with friends is in order (bourgeois reflexes kicking in). Who's up for it?

The Greek-style salad was more satisfying than the salmon. It's quite simple to make too. Take some iceberg lettuce ($0.99 at Adonis), a couple of diced tomatoes (not really affordable at this time of year), an onion in half-rings, and feta cheese (1/4 lbs is enough). When waiting for other dishes to cook, mix the lettuce, tomatoes, onions together; douse with an olive oil and vinegar (I took my mother's Xeres vinegar, although a regular white wine vinegar would've worked perfectly); sprinkle with feta cheese (the Greek variety, that is more solid than creamy), and chill before serving.

Inventory

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Desktop 061112

My Little Airport is not dead

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Is not! A random misclick (middle-button over one of my Firefox bookmark folder closes all current tabs, and opens all of those for music - random misclicks/mistypes have done so much in this life) leads me to English-language Asian indie music blog My Randomness which reports that MLA has a new song (scroll down). MLA's mp3 dir has indexing.

(Edit: Because they were at the Shanghai Fringe, which is very Canadian-sponsored!)

National Pride in Hong Kong

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SCMP Chart on National Pride in HK, via Mask of China.

How you can change your mind about the totalitarian regime that took over your territory... For the general public, the totalitarian aspect of China seems pretty mild for regular working citizens from an external point of view. And as for these statistics, HK is still a island of relative free speech and free everything in a sea of relative restraint/censorship (I was reading how it is rather expected that you self-censor yourself in China, more than having a thought police run around hunting for dissidents).

In any case, I don't know. I am very interested in HK/China politics, and wish that the Bibliotheque Nationale du Quebec wasn't two months late in receiving the SCMP (about the only reliable publication that I can *read*). I would go to 6/4 and 7/1 walks, but I am not the kind of person to press for democracy right now for real (but understand the idea that you ask for 200% of something, if you want to insure to have 100% of it). And, I generally think that things must be gradual, and that immediate opening of the political system will only lead to an USSR-like collapse. See South Korea, Taiwan (all former brutal dictatorships), and Singapore (practically a single-party-thus-dictatorship city-state).

In general, I am proud of the HKness of my Chineseness. Was not born there, and my mother didn't even live there for more than a few weeks/months, I think (she passed by Taiwan for a few months, to get her papers for Canada). But uncles/aunts from both sides of the family live there, and I do consume more than the incidental HK culture, and speak of going to HK as "going _back_ to HK" (faan heung kong). Proud of its modernity, cleanliness, although I think I really need to go back to Beijing (five years after, and a year before the Olympics) and wander around in SH, not as a mere Western-born/grown tourist. Etc. Back to work.

Keur Fatou

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So yeah. When you have high expectations for food (or for anything), you face the possibility of disappointment. To be fair, the food at Keur Fatou (St-Viateur, south side, between Clark and St-Urbain) was not bad - pretty good in fact - but it was their portion, and perhaps the catering to a bouche fine market?

The decor was attractive, in warm "African" colors (like a previous Ubuntu color palette perhaps; more red, I mean). I walk in front of it every day when I get off of my bus on St-Urbain and St-Viateur, and have always been fascinated with how it'd be to sit by one of the vitrines on those short knee-height chairs/coussins (the location was probably that of some fabrics shop in a previous reincarnation). If the restaurant wasn't so empty, being the only guests from 7:30 til 8, and if there were more people walking on St-Viateur, then it'd probably made the sitting experience more worthwhile.

It was an oral menu, and we were given the choice between chicken on rice, veal on couscous, and fish on rice. The portions were minimalistic, but very tasty. In the veal dish I selected, I had a few pieces of what seemed to be manioc. I always imagined manioc to be practically equal to sweet potato, and since I had manioc before sweet potato in this life, I basically hadn't paid attention to the former, as I were closer to the age of 5 than 15, and have thus overwritten memories of it with that of the latter. Nonetheless, yes, manioc, it's a sort of lightly sweet white fibrous tuberous root.

There was a small salad w/ exotic anonymous dressing, a plate of fruits with 6 pieces of cantaloupe, 5 slices of banana, etc, and then a half-glass of mint tea (4 oz, I think), slightly sweetened with a strong composed mint flavour. Don't know how to describe the dinner as a whole. It was good, yet not enough? $16 per person, tips/tax included, and we agreed that Les Delices was a better deal.

Toys

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Will be getting my Dell XPS m1210 next week. I started my shopping by ruling out Dell, b/c it's got a reputation for cheap - so we'll see in a year time. The Toshiba U205 and Lenovo V100 were at the top of my list (being ultra-portables - am unwilling to break my back from carrying it across town every day) instead, but ended up being too expensive at equal performance. The previous laptop we had in the family, my brother's university time IBM ThinkPad a21m, which is close to 7 lbs (the Dell XPS m1210 is still 4.4 lbs, but), is really ultra-solid and lives up to the ThinkPad reputation. I'm looking forward to install Ubuntu with Xgl and Beryl/Compiz.

Coincidentally, Lian Wee is in Malaysia, and also getting himself a laptop. Seems like small is the norm over in Asia. If I check this manufacturer's list of products, more than half of their models are "ultra-portables" by NA standards. My 2kg laptop is such a monster. XD

The Sun

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Makes me think that I could use a Japanese militaristic era top hat, and the suit that goes with it. With all the stuff it implicates.

MacArthur, Hirohito, MacArthur, and Hirohito again.

Installed!

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I reinstalled the Linux partition in i386. That means, all the proprietary software that I want. :P But seriously. Finally, I got hardware acceleration to work all the time, but it wasn't b/c of the AMD64'ness of the previous installation, just the fact that the card used a different scheme (one has to disable AIGLX in the server options). I tried to install Beryl, a recent fork of Compiz, a modern window manager, but could on only one screen. From the information I gathered, Xgl, the Xwindow server - the layer on which Beryl/Compiz works -, does not support dual screens, and I can't use AIGLX on my graphics card (ATI 9550).

That's why I'm I a softie

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I'm downloading an i386 version of Ubuntu Edgy. My X has been dead for about two weeks, and I've run out of ideas to fix it. Teh Google says nothing about the log errors, and any sort of obliterating reinstall of the ATI driver (fglrx) doesn't seem to work. I conclude that I probably did something wrong when installing fglrx manually, like in, not with something like apt-get. And my reputation as a Linux dork is suffering. There's no reason not to use Linux Ubuntu, b/c everything works, most of the time.

X has been the biggest headache. I venture the guess that my hardware might not be well supported, but I also cross my fingers that it's only the AMD64.

In the meanwhile, I'm on a 800x600 resolution on a 19" monitor, flipping through this, which I w0rd to a lot. Anyways, got to reboot. More later.

Well, I'll be damned. I called my grandmother up, and she said she didn't get them in Toronto, but rather in a ginseng farm around Toronto! :O

My grandmother was in Toronto not long ago and got sugar-coated almonds w/ ginseng flakes! The conception of this delicacy was probably the result of some happy mix-up (oops, was that the sesame seed jar?). Nonetheless, I am particularly fond of ginseng's bitter taste, usually in a chicken soup or a ginseng-based herbal tea. Almonds, I like; and sugar-coated almonds, I like even more. The resulting bitter-sweet candy is then simply the week's best edible novelty.

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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