Saturday, November 22

Go, Panthers!

It's good to see fellow ISB grads get into positions of power.

Tim, I'm rooting for you. More than that: I'm counting on you.

Monday, September 8

Music to brute force by

i tried your birthday
i tried your mom's first name
i have the password to your...
i tried your cat's name
i tried your favourite band
i have the password to your... account
— Barcelona, I Have the Password to Your Shell Account

Friday, August 22


Never been lonely
Never been lied to
Never had to scuffle in fear
Nothing denied to
Born at the instant
The church bells chime
And the whole world whispering
Born at the right time
– Paul Simon, Born at the Right Time

Saturday, August 16

Sunday, August 3

Login with Usable

(Apologies to D. Parker)

Dongles we're losing;
Passwords all weak;
Grids are confusing;
And web forms will leak.
OpenID not easy;
Resets lose hits;
Fingerprints greasy;
Get more random bits.

Tuesday, July 22

My New Career

When I was in Kuala Lumpur earlier in July, my old friend and die-hard foodie KC Toh took me to the Petaling Jaya home of a local chef for an impromptu cooking lesson. Ah Pan, pictured here teaching me to fry noodles, is a hawker. I'm not sure what his specialties are. I can be forgiven for not learning this since he and I didn't share a mutually comprehensible language. He doesn't speak much Mandarin or English and I speak even less Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew or Hakka.

He had what I'd call a "kitchen suite". His home is an ordinary two-story "link" (attached) house, including a small conventional kitchen with an unused sink & stove that he uses to entertain (read: feed people) in. An attached utility room is used to wash dishes, another attached room is used for several freezers and refrigerators. An outside room, called the "wet kitchen", is used for food preparation. This kitchen's concrete floor was very wet indeed (he gave me rubber sandals, he had wooden clogs), there were plastic buckets on the floor, some with vegetables soaking in water, others with unidentified grey liquids. Also on the floor, squatting, was his unskilled Indonesian assistant who was chopping shallots in a very desultory way.

The most interesting part of the wet kitchen are the two inverted rocket engines. Well, they probably aren't really rocket engines, but they each have their own propane tank and have three nested perforated rings that throw blue flame eighteen inches. These are what the woks go on and they can heat a wok quite fast.

No recipes here (I was sworn to secrecy) but I'll tell you that I now can make:
  1. Teochew-style steamed fish
  2. Kueh-teow tung (Ipoh-style rice noodle soup)
  3. Chow kueh-teow (Penang-style fried rice noodles)
  4. Rice Fritters
I plan to practice for a few years and then open my own stall in Tahoe.

Saturday, July 19

Touch Move

thought this was a friendly game
nothing can be taken back
there's a clock
why didn't you tell me sooner

Tuesday, July 8

Your first lesson in Hokkien

I'm in Sydney (actually in suburban St. Ives) but only last week I was in Malaysia. I saw Eric and Jane Toh's new baby boy, Keith. Eric is the son of my old friend and well-known raconteur KC Toh.

Eric, a native speaker of both English and Hokkien, asked me if his son should be taught to address me as Ah Chek or alternatively, Ah Kong. Without telling him that this is the first time I've been asked that question, I told him I preferred the first (Uncle) to the second (Grandfather). Sigh.

Hokkien, of course, is the native dialect for many of the Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore.

Given that we've already learned the word for grandfather above, I've chosen an important sentence using the word for recondite readers to learn. I can't find the tone marks for transliterating the dialect. Still, let's try it. The sentence is:
Grandfather says: the tin can hit grandfather.
This is pronounced in Hokkien, roughly, as:
Kong-kong kong: kong-kong kong kong-kong.
So ends the first lesson.

Monday, March 3

Not another Buju

It may make me a cliche, but Buddism has always interested me, and it is one more piece of culture affinity I have with Phylis. Recently, she and I have been reading the works of American Buddhist Nun, Pema Chodron. We first found about her when she was interviewed on Bill Moyer's PBS program Faith and Reason. I am thinking of reading Don't Bite the Hook next.

Here's an excerpt from Karen Armstrong's Buddha which explains why I, despite being repulsed by delusionally self-confident talk of the supernatural, can still be fascinated by Buddhist teaching:

[Buddha's teachings were] wholly pragmatic... his job was to relieve suffering and help his disciples attain the peace of Nirvana. [...] Hence there were no abstruse theories about the creation of the universe or the existence of a Supreme Being. These matters might be interesting but would not give a disciple enlightenment... He told one monk, who kept pestering him about philosophy, that he was like a wounded man who refused to have treatment until he learned the name of the person who shot him and what village he came from: he would die before he got this useless information. [...] What difference did it make if the world was eternal or created in time?

I don't think myself a Buju/Jubu because rather than identifying myself as both, I identify as neither. This doubtless makes the cliche fit even better!