Cultural Experiences

I’ve been to quite a few Taiwanese wedding banquets, since my wife seems to know about half of Taiwan. But thus far I had not experienced one of the rich cultural traditions of Taiwanese wedding banquets that I’d heard about. But today I was finally able to experience this part of Taiwanese culture: wedding strippers.

That’s right, Taiwanese tradition has it that no wedding banquet is complete without a few young girls gyrating to cheesy dance music before getting completely naked and then running around tables soliciting tips in exchange for a special dance and a close inspection of her implants. I’m happy to report that besides the copious amounts of 台灣啤酒, 清酒, and Matisse, this little bit of culture makes it well worth sitting around on a little red plastic stool for hours.

Installing goodies…

Finally got to installing the stuff I bought a couple of days ago. The shuttle box looks really slick now with the CD-ROM and keyboard all black to match the rest of the case. One thing I didn’t notice is that the model I bought is a ‘QuietTrack’ model designed to be extra quiet during operation, and I’ll say they did a good job at it. That combined with the quiet power supply and variable speed fan means the box is really really quiet. I’m almost tempted to make it my desktop and turn my current desktop into a fileserver. I’d need to upgrade to an AGP video card though.

The mouse is really nice as well. I exaggerated a bit in the previous post claiming it has 20 buttons. It’s only actually got 7, but that’s more than twice what I’m used to. Besides the standard left, right and middle/wheel buttons, it has two buttons on the side that by default do forward and back in your web browser. Above and below the wheel are ‘cruise up’ and ‘cruise down’ buttons that let you go up and down a page at a time or you can hold it down to scroll up and down really fast. And below that there is a button that by default lets you jump between apps quickly, but I reprogrammed it to do a copy instead. And on top of all the buttons, it also feels more responsive and smooth than my old mouse.

I had my new headset for Skype hooked up to the headphone jack on my speaker system and the microphone port on my sound card via an extension cable, but this left me having to plug in the headphone jack before answering a Skype call. Today I realized, duh, I have a sound card on my motherboard that I had disabled when I installed my add-in sound card (M-Audio Revolution 7.1, great sounding board). The sound quality of the built-in sound card is pretty mediocre, but for Skype it’s more than adequate. So I went into my BIOS and re-enabled the built in sound card, rebooted, reinstalled drivers, then made sure the default sound card was the M-Audio one but that Skype was set to use the internal sound card. Voila, it all works, and now I can use my headset with Skype independently from the rest of the system which uses the good sound card. In fact earlier I was talking to my friend Greg in Vienna using Skype with the headset at the same time Emily was watching Dora The Explorer on the main speakers. Pretty nifty.

Today I got my ticket to see Dreams Come True in concert in Nagoya. My sister-in-law’s friend in Tokyo helped me get it. I was hoping for the February 22 date since that would be more convenient, but it’s February 23 instead. Now I have to figure out how to get from Kyoto where I’ll be for the APRICOT 2005 conference to Nagoya for the concert. 🙂

Peanut Butter Cookies

I looked at a few different peanut butter cookie recipes on the net but none of them really were to my liking, so I took a few different ones and kind of averaged them out. They turned out pretty good for just winging it. By the way, I said earlier that I don’t like nuts in cookies, but the one exception is peanut butter cookies. They should be made with crunchy peanut butter so you get the bits of nuts in it.

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick or 1/4 block) butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter (crunchy recommened)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

Sift or thoroughly mix together flour, soda and salt, set aside.

Cream together softened butter, sugar and peanut butter. Add egg and vanilla and mix well.

Slowly mix in the flour mixture and mix well.

Place tablespoon sized chunks on ungreased cookie sheet.
If you prefer thin cookies, flatten them with a spatula.

Bake at 350F for 12-16 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Oatmeal Cookies

This is my Mom’s Oatmeal Cookie recipe I used yesterday. She also has another recipe called “Famous Oatmeal Cookies” which I’ll try later. Also want to make the traditional Oatmeal Raisin Cookies at some point. For this recipe I omitted nuts and used a 100g (7 ounce) packet of chocolate chips.

Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup shortening
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup nut meats (optional)
1 small pkg of chocolate chips (optional)

Sift flour, measure, then sift again with soda and salt

Cream shortening with sugar, beat in egg, mix in vanilla.

Stir in dry ingredients, then add oats, nuts, chips.

Drop by teaspoonfull on cookie sheet in 350 degree oven 10-12 minutes.

More cookies

Made about 4 dozen jumbo cookies today (about 4 inches across). First batch was peanut butter and second batch was oatmeal chocolate chip. For the first I used a recipe off the net and tweaked it a bit. The second I used one of my mom’s recipes. No notable oven mistakes this time, thankfully.

hserus just IM’d me that his wife has gone into labor. Everyone wish him luck!


Just to start out with, for all of you’s been bugging me to get Skype, well ring me up as user jameslick.

Today and yesterday has brought us fantastic weather here. You’d almost think it was spring already.

Yesterday my wife decided that the TV upstairs in the office needed to have cable. Previously it was just hooked to a DVD player and that was fine for me. But somehow that wasn’t good enough, so a couple of guys come over and string a cable over the roof and down the side of the building, and now I can watch all the crap on TV again. Whoo-whee.

Today I went down to Subway for lunch and afterwards went over to the Sunfar 3C store to get some random computer stuff. That’s where I got a headset/mic for Skype. I also got a new mouse since my old one is flaking lately. I got a Logitech MX510 800dpi optical mouse that has something like 20 buttons on it. Some CD sleeves cause I’m running out. And for my Shuttle SB62G2 box that runs Solaris 10, I finally got a CD-ROM with a black faceplate and while I was at it I also got a black mini-keyboard. That Shuttle system has a really nice black aluminum case, but when I installed it I just threw in a standard beige CD-ROM drive. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but it just looks pretty uncool to have such a sweet looking box with a lameass beige drive ruining its funk. And besides, CD-ROM drives are practically free these days. (The new mouse cost 2.5 times the CD-ROM drive price.) And the black keyboard was even cheaper, so might as well just complete the whole makeover. After I get around to installing it I can finally ask the question “It’s like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.”

I’ve been playing with openvpn a lot lately. I’ve gotten it to the point where I have a pretty solid VPN link between my Taipei and Santa Clara networks. So now I can finally talk direct IP between any machines on the two networks even though they are 6500 miles apart and both behind firewalls. Pretty cool stuff. Previously I was doing ssh tunneling or squid proxying, depending on what I wanted to do, but that’s always kinda of a pain. Setting up openvpn is a pain too, but once it is working, it just plain works.

By the way, if you have a 64-bit Solaris system, the right way to install the tun driver is to compile and install the 32-bit version and install it normally, then compile the 64-bit version (for gcc just add -m64 to flags and recompile) and install it in the sparcv9 directory under where you installed the 32-bit one. There’s sites that tell you to compile just the 64-bit version and install it where the 32-bit drivers are supposed to go, but they are wrong. You always want to install both 32-bit and 64-bit drivers in case you ever need to boot into 32-bit mode.

Lyrics: The Joker (Fatboy Slim)

It’s amazing how wrong so many lyrics sites can be

Artist: Fatboy Slim (featuring Bootsy Collins)
Song: The Joker
Album: Palookaville

(Yeah Yeah) Yeah (Yeah)
I wanna know if I got any, uh,
Pockets of resistance… tonight
If not, I want you to join me and uh,
Just put your hands together like this, yeah and, uh

Yeah, lemme tell you what I’m talking ’bout baby

Some people call me the space cowboy
And some people call me the gangster of love (yeah)
And some people walking round calling me Maurice (Maurice?)
Cause I speak of the pompitous of love, yeah.

Oh, have no fear my dear.

People talk about me, baby (talk about me, bad too)
They say I’m doin’ ya wrong, doin’ ya wrong, doin’ ya wrong
Well, don’t let that worry you baby (oh baby baba)
Cause I’m right here, right here, right here, right here at home
(Everybody singing along)

And I want you to know baby

Cause I’m a picker
I’m a grinner
I’m a lover
And I’m a sinner
I play the music in the sun

I’m a joker
I’m a smoker
I’m a midnight toker
I give my loving on the run

Oh, the joker is wild, baby

Come on and follow me
You know I really want you for your company
Even though I’m attached to you physically
My computer mechanism wants you mentally (yeah, baby)
(Shoo be doo be doo shoo be)
You know I really want you for your company (yeah, baba)
(Shoo be doo be doo) (yeah)

Well, uh

You’re the cutest thing
That I ever did see
I really love your peaches
I want to shake your tree
Lovey dovey, dovey lovey, dovey all the time
Ooh eeh baby, I’m gonna show you a good time baby

Cause I’m a picker
I’m a grinner
I’m a lover
And I’m a sinner
I play the music in the sun

I’m a joker
I’m a smoker
I’m a midnight toker
I sure don’t want to hurt no one

The joker is wild (yeah, baby)
You know, he’s got a lot of style (yeah)
(and he) And he swept me off my feet (yeah, baby)
(yeah) You know, he’s gotta be the freak of the week

The joker is wild…

People keep talking bout me like a low down dog (like a low life dog)
They say i’m doin’ ya wrong, doin’ ya wrong (doo doo doo doin’ ya wrong)
Well don’t you know, don’t you worry bout a thing pretty mama (mama, don’t you worry)
Cause i’m right here, right here, right here singing along (yeah baby)

You’re the cutest thing
I ever did see
And I really love your peaches
Woman, come shake for me (shake it)
Lovey dovey, lovey dovey all the time
So, uh, dance on over here, mama,
You know let’s have a good time (let’s have a good time)

That’s what I’m talkin’ about

Cause I’m a picker
I’m a grinner
I’m a lover
And I’m a sinner
I play the music in the sun (yeah, baby)

I’m a joker
I’m a smoker
And I’m a (fo shizzle dizzle my nizzle fizzle bizzle)
I give all of my lovin’ while I’m on the…

Watch out now (yeah)
The joker is wild (yeah, baby)
You know, he’s got a lot of style (fo shizzle dizzle my nizzle fizzle)
And he swept me off my feet (yeah, it’s getting wild here)
You know, he’s gotta be the freak of the week

Hit me

Come on and follow me
You know I really want you for your company
Even though I’m attached to you physically
My computer mechanism wants you mentally
(Shoo be doo be doo shoo be)
You know I really want you for your company
(Shoo be doo be doo doo)
My computer mechanism wants you mentally

Yeah, the joker is wild (joker)
I’m taking back my style (he’s getting wild)
Yeah, get off my cloud baby (yeah)
He’s throwing down deep, deep (yeah)
I guess I’ll be the freak of the week
I guess you’ll be the freak of the week

The joker (yeah) is wild

The joker is wild

Computer books

Yesterday I went down to Tianlong Bookstore down near the train station. Actually I got off at NTU Hospital Station and walked through 228 Park which I hadn’t been to before. Anyways, Tianlong is a great bookstore that carries only computer books. And even better, they are split half and half between English and Chinese books. The regular bookstores, even Page One, hardly carry any computer books in English anymore, so I tend to lug a bunch back from the US when I go. But now that I know about this bookstore, I’ll get most of them there. Prices are about even to US retail prices when translated to Taiwan Dollars. For example, I got a book that is marked USD39.99 and the price was TWD1320 which is about USD41.58 currently. So not really worth it to buy at Amazon for 20% off and then have to lug it back with me. After I spend TWD6000 they’ll give me a discount card too.

I also went down to Mami Store, a small shop near the Taipower Building stop that specializes in baking supplies. Got some more cocoa powder and chocolate chips, but since they had the chips price in grams instead of ounces, I didn’t know that their’s are actually a bit more than the ones at Jasons.

Later we tried to go to Alleycat’s for pizza, but they were really busy last night and couldn’t fit us in. Two times in a row not able to eat Alleycat’s pizza, so getting frustrating. I’ll have to try going during the week to make sure to get some good pizza at last. It’s nice to see his place doing so well though, and another example that real uncorrupted western food can be successful here.

Today is Sunday which normally would be a family day, but since it is just before Chinese New Year, and tradition is to get your hair cut before CNY, her shop opens 7 days a week until CNY. So I’m on my own today, but just bumming around at home.