Date Lunch Dinner
10/3 home 炸酱面
10/4 回龙观 烤鸭
10/5 龙城宾馆
10/6 百荣世贸 担担面 麻辣烫
10/7 动物园 豳*风堂餐厅
10/8 南礼士路 半亩园 前门 面爱面
10/10 Uncle George’s 肉末烧饼
10/12 便宜坊 烤鸭 新光天地 云南快餐
10/13 中关村 一心
10/14 风入松对面小馆 担担面 中关村 汉莱自助餐
10/15 孔已己 东直门银座 味千拉面
10/16 中关村 中8楼 第三级 康师傅私房牛肉面
10/17 golf club house 西单大悦城 麻辣香锅
10/18 798 永一格 home crabs
10/19 知春路友仁居 涮羊肉

As always, food is the greatest thing for our China trip. This time two impressions stand out: the nicety of Chinese fast food, and the extraordinarily beautiful and chic decor of 中8楼 and 永一格.

The good old regulars like roast duck and hot pot are still as good as always, so nothing to write about. The other couple of family banquets are also good, but since we didn’t make the order, they aren’t that special. One fun surprise is the restaurant in the zoo. It looks pretty upscale from outside, but inside it’s exactly a 食堂. The food is surprisingly good with huge portions.

半亩园 has been our favorite through the years. It was quite expensive for us back then, but now it constitutes an important part of the coming-home feeling. It does feel a bit old compared to the other really nice new fast food chains, every one of which is clean and nicely decorated, with beautiful menu and tasty stuff.

The highlight is definitely 中8楼 and 永一格, though. My dad told us about the former, and since we loved Yunnan food from our trip in 1996(?), we looked hard for it in 中关村. It’s pricey but boy is it worth every penny! The decor is superb, every page of the menu is museum catalog quality, and how we wish we could get every single dish! The best one we had is 小米粘, a “small rice” cake in the style of 八宝饭.

永一格 is also very cool, proper for its prime location inside 798. We got its incredibly pretty coupon on our way in, and had a real treat of food and decor.

From 豳(bīn),古都邑名,在今陕西郴县。豳风是诗经十五国风之一,共有诗七篇,其中多描写农家生活、辛勤力作的情景,是我国最早的田园诗。

(Given all the bailouts lately, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out what I mean by USSA.)

First a rundown of the days we just spent in Beijing, before I forget. There are many topics to write about, if only I can find the time between pretending to work and sleeping for jet lag.

  1. Wed
  2. Thur
  3. Fri
  4. Sat
  5. Sun: 佳忆市场
  6. Mon: 百荣世贸
  7. Tue: 动物园
  8. Wed: 百荣世贸; 大栅栏; Legation Quarter; NDR Symphony Orchestra at National Theater
  9. Thur
  10. Fri: visit George
  11. Sat: 回龙观公园; Dad’s brother family visit
  12. Sun: photo shoot; Dad took us to 蓝色港湾 and 新光天地; J went to Shanghai
  13. Mon: transfer 户口; meet Ben; review album
  14. Tue: buy laptop RAM at 中关村科贸; 风入松; meet He Wei
  15. Wed: J came back; 4+2+1 to Olympic Center; Vienna Boys’ Choir at 保利
  16. Thur: 中关村; 第三级bookstore
  17. Fri: golf with Eddy at Beijing Country Golf Club; meet J’s colleagues at Goldman Beijing office on Finance Street; visit Lane Crawford and 西单大悦城
  18. Sat: 798
  19. Sun: Walmart; get albums
  20. Mon: busy morning packing and fixing up computers

Try to pronounce every one in a Hugh Grant-ish way: b-b-Bludy…

We spent the Memorial Day weekend in a friend’s million dollar house. Bloody $1.3456789 million.

Every bloody counter top in kitchen and 6 bloody bathrooms and the basement bar is granite or marble. The slate for the bloody bar is bigger than all the counter top pieces in our whole kitchen combined.

Every bloody faucet is bloody Kohler.

Every bloody door handle is contoured and brushed bloody nickel.

The bloody walk-in closet is bigger than our guest bedroom, with a bloody window.

The bloodiest thing of ’em all?

8 people sitting in around the bloody tiny old table, talking about strollers, bottles, and the second round of bloody babies.

What have we got ourselves bloody into?!

From Coding Horror, one of my recent favorites, on the La Crosse Technology BC-900 AlphaPower battery charger, which I bought a year ago:

I spent several hours after I got it plugging various batteries in it, trying different modes, and watching it work. I’m not sure what the exact definition of geek is, but I think “enjoys recharging batteries” has to be very high on that list.

I didn’t think I’m truly geeky, but according to Coding Horror’s definition, I am one. If I had time I would watch the charger just like him.

Another secret that I’ve enjoyed over the years: watching Defrag at work. I like the pre-XP Defrag better, because it shows disk blocks in different colors as defrag goes on, a bit like this nice freeware. The XP interface is cleaner, but watching little lines getting shuffled is less interesting.

As I went down to Hoboken PATH station this morning, someone was broadcasting “move through the turnstiles! PATH is free today!” I thought either the system was broken, or there’s some problem in NJ Transit trains so PATH is taking train riders, as it had happened quite a few times before.

Turns out it’s PATH Centennial.

PATH is by no means a “nice” system, but 100 years is very impressive indeed. It only post-dated NYC subway by less than 4 years, and it sure runs a lot better than the subway–granted, it’s hugely less complicated. Once I was leaving work to catch a train and my subway-dwelling boss was surprised that PATH even has a time table: “I guess it’s not a 100-year-old system”. Now I can throw the line back to him 🙂

The Wikipedia piece on PATH is surprisingly long and informational. A few interesting things:

  • PATH stands for Port Authority Trans-Hudson.
  • The Port Authority only agreed to purchase and maintain the tubes from the bankrupt Hudson & Manhattan Railroad company in return for the rights to build the World Trade Center on the land occupied by H&M’s Hudson Terminal.
  • PATH has 333 cars in its fleet.
  • The cool moving-slide-show ad on the tube wall between WTC and Exchange Place is called Zoetrope. They should do this for every tube wall to literally light up people’s commute.

PATH started using the RFID SmartLink card last year, and it’s clearly the future as it’s a whole lot more convenient, fast, and sustainable than the paper QuickCard. The most frustrating thing about the paper card is that sometimes some turnstiles refuse to read it, so I have to try several times and/or at different turnstiles, which could mean angry people waiting behind me and missing trains. But I can’t use paper TransitChek to refill SmartLink card because there’s no human-stationed booth for SmartLink, and my company doesn’t want to switch to credit-card based commuter card because it costs more. I really hate it when I can’t use superior technology that’s readily available.

I’m getting close to AAA rating.

Lately I’ve forgotten to pack wipes into diaper bag three consecutive times.

And within about a month I’ve forgotten to turn off the head light and had to have the car jump started for… THREE times.

And it had never happened before.

10 years: 0. 1 month: 3. That’s the power of AAA.

First time was at Ikea. Their office keeps a jump start kit, so it may be common for Ikea customers to have single A.

Second time was at the pediatrician’s. There’s a AAA (how appropriately named) office a few steps away, but they don’t have a jump start kit, and every employee was too busy sitting in their chairs staring at the ceiling to help me jump start with their own car. Another car happened to come into the parking lot and helped us out so we didn’t have to wait for at least 1 hour for AAA service. Double A.

Third time was at a friend’s house. J had explicitly reminded me to turn off the light. Isn’t third time the charm?

An old man is sitting on a park bench crying. A young man is walking by and asks him why he’s crying. The old man says, “I’m retired and I have lots of money, a huge luxury apartment, a beautiful 25 year old wife who loves me and has sex with me twice a day…”

The young man says, “Well then why the hell are you crying!?”

The old man replies, “I can’t remember where I live!”

I bought a Roomba Red in September 2006 when it’s on sale at Amazon. It worked fantastically well for about a year, but then the battery started to die out. As soon as I unplug it from a full charge the light turns amber, and it would only run for less than 30 minutes.

So I bought a li-ion battery from glo69 on, and it worked extremely well, due to both more power and much lighter weight than the original NiMH battery. However Roomba soon started acting weird. It’s not exactly the notorious Circle of Death, but close: it would make very frequent turns and could not go straight for more than a foot, so it mostly stayed in one spot and often got stuck, also partly because it’s running faster from the better battery.

Now I think the problem was just the edge detectors were covered by dust, so Roomba always thought it’s over stairs and turned back. But I’d wanted to clean its interior for a long time, so finally I made up my mind to do it.

The wonderful Fix Circle of Dance site made it really fool-proof. The most important thing is I printed the screw location picture on a full page, and punch each screw through the paper as I took them down so that they wouldn’t get mixed up.

The inside of Roomba can be a prop for a horror movie. I first used pliers to pick out the large dust chunks–yes, chunks of dust, and there’re plenty of them! Then I used a wipe, and finally a dust blower. The result?



And now Roomba can run a couple of happy hours again.

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