scrungew00t goes home, Emily gets upset

Today was scrungew00t‘s last day in Taiwan, just dropped him off at the bus to the airport. He ended up with so much crud that he didn’t have enough luggage space, so I lent him one of my suitcases. Even with that extra one it was pretty tight. That actually works out fine for me, because my suitcases are usually nearly empty on the way to the US but I bring back two full suitcases of crud. So effectively I’m getting him to take the suitcase back for me.

Unfortunately when Emily saw me walk out the door carrying my suitcase, she burst into tears saying “Daddy, don’t leave!” No matter how much I explained to her, she thought I was going on a trip somewhere. So when I came back 20 minutes later, she was surprised and said “Daddy, you’re back!” She’s been going to daycare for the first time this week, so she’s kinda stressed out about a lot of things and she was in an especially bad mood today. Poor baby.

cold shower on a cold day

As if it is not bad enough that the weather is cold and miserable, the battery in the water heater up and died just after I started showering. And it had beautifully cruel timing too, cutting out just after I’d gotten all wet, but before I had shampooed and soaped up. The only thing worse would have been if it had cut out while I shampooed and before rinsing. So I had to dry off, get dressed again, find a battery, go outside on the back balcony to change it and poke it until it would work again, then back to take a shower again. Grr.

Americans are probably used to the kind of water heater where you have a big tank in a closet or garage somewhere, and the water heater keeps a nice 30 gallons or so of nice hot water on hand for whenever you need it. These usually have an always-on pilot light and do not need electricity to operate. In Taiwan we have small tank-less heaters that are also gas powered, but do not have an always-on pilot light. They are a small box about 2.5 feet high, 1.5 feet wide and 8 inches deep. You need to put in a D size battery to fire the pilot light and control the logic. When the battery fails, the heater stops working. And since there is no tank to hold the nice hot water, it is a very abrupt and sudden failure.

And as an update to my last entry, the other factor it is so miserable when it is cold here is that my dear wife insists on opening windows for fresh air even when it is cold. 🙁


CWB says it’ll be cold and possibly rainy today through Monday, getting down to 7C at night. I always get told I’m a little sissy boy to be complaining about such weather, but there’s several factors which make it more miserable in Taiwan when it gets below 10C. The main factor is the humidity. Most places don’t have 90% humidity when it is this cold. The next is that houses here have crappy windows and little or no insulation, and mostly concrete or brick walls with no carpeting. And finally, most houses don’t have heaters. We actually ended up buying an oil-filled electric radiator (Made in Germany) this winter, but that’s just for the living room. All in all, if it is 7C outside, it’ll be close to that inside as well. This is not too bad for sleeping since we have enough thick comforters, that it’s fine there under the covers. But when actually up and about, it’s pretty cold. With the high humidity you have to be careful to wear just the right amount of clothes, because if you wear too many you’ll start sweating and then you’ll get damp and miserable.

Not much to report on yesterday since scrungew00t was out with relations, so I got caught up on email and cleaning up my disk a bit. Today is his last day here, but he leaves almost at midnight, so still have time to do some more stuff.

Um, whatever.

What kind of villian would you be?
LJ Username
Gender MaleFemale
Favorite color
Do you root for good, or for awesome? GoodEvilAwesome! Duh, why do you think I’m taking a villian quiz?
Your trusted second in command gblake
Your arch nemesis, aka; hserus
Evil appearance The hardened warrior, you may be evil, but you have dignity and honor. Armed with a sword and an assortment of other archaic weapons, you are a dark blade master, with your long sleeveless coat made of worn material.
What you;ve done so far By now you have ammassed a great army, all of which are fierce, and powerful. Soon it will begin…
Your evil powers/skills Charm and trickery. Such as appearing to be someone’s friend, only to get some trust, then you slaughter them.
Chances of taking over/destroying world – 69%

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Went hot springing yesterday with scrungew00t down in Wulai (烏來), a small town up in the mountains south of Taipei. We took the subway to Xindian (新店) and then took the Xindian-Wulai bus up to Wulai itself. Wandered around eating giant meatball soup, my favorite wild boar kebabs, and tiny river shrimp. My wife wanted *30* boiled eggs from a famous place there so I had to carry around 3 bowls full the rest of the time. After eating we went down one town to Yanti to the hot springs at Spring Park Hotel (春秋烏來). It’s a pretty expensive hot spring, but my wife had two certificates, so it was free for us. 🙂 After lazing around we took the bus back to Gongguan (公館) and caught another bus over to Alleycats but they were closed already by that time (after 10pm already!). We had Vietnamese food around the corner instead, then went home.

It has been raining or drizzling since last night, so weather today is pretty gloomy. 🙁

Taiwan Day 1858 or thereabouts: Mongolian BBQ

Hanging out with scrungew00t yesterday. Went out late for lunch, squid and rice noodle soup with sides of some green leafy veggies and hard doufu. Then went to the tallest building in the world to visit Page One bookstore where I looked at the Lemony Snicket books a bit, then down to Jason’s to buy some various stuff but mostly chocolate chips for cookies, then we went back and had Mongolian BBQ. The place we go is a favorite but we don’t go there nearly enough. It is all you can eat, and for the BBQ part it is buffet style to get all the meats (chicken, venison, pork, lamb, beef), whatever veggies you want, and then choose your sauces and spices. When you are done, you hand it to the cook and he prepares it all on a huge wood fired stove. Then with one flick of the chopsticks he flings it into a bowl and serves it up. I usually get Venison with sprouts and onions, soy sauce, shrimp sauce, pineapple, cooking wine, LOTS of fresh garlic, and a bit of chili oil. Mmm, mmm.

Yes, pineapple.

brownies attempt 2

For those who are used to western style kitchens, you’d be surprised to know that Taiwanese kitchens rarely include an oven, other than the microwave or toaster variety. This makes it hard to do any baking. So a couple of weeks ago, Daiichi (泰一電氣) had a fairly good TECO (東元) electric oven on sale. By western standards it’s still pretty tiny, but just big enough to do some real baking in. So the first thing I do is whip up a batch of brownies from scratch. Unfortunately the top came out slightly singed on the first batch. I figured it was because the oven is so small that the top heating element is too close. The oven has a switch to select whether to use the top heating element, bottom, or both, and I had use both the first time.

So last night we had a family dinner so I made brownies again. This time I was going to set it to use just the bottom heating element so the top wouldn’t get overdone. Unfortunately I screwed up and instead set it to use only the top heating element. And when I cut into the ‘finished’ brownies I discovered that the bottom half was uncooked. To salvage things I cut away the unfinished bottom part, reformed it into the pan and recooked it, but it was a little uneven because of the recooking. So hopefully attempt 3 will go better.

fun with transferring mailman mailing lists

Our host doesn’t have budget to host and be secretariat for APCAUCE anymore, so I’m working on moving the lists and website and domain to my server. Since the old site and new both use mailman, I just got the raw files for the lists and figured I could just plop them in place and then tweak a few things.

But of course, it’s not that easy. If you have to change the list name or the domain name or the base url, it’s a bit tricky.

So here’s some tricks on how to do this on your own should you need to. First copy the config.pck for the list from the old site into the new mailman installation into lists/listname/config.pck. If you are changing the listname, this is the first place you need to use the new name. If you aren’t changing any of the above stuff then you should be good to go and can load up the admin interface. You probably want to use the site password to login and then change the list password. If for some reason you don’t have the site password, you can get the list password by running dumpdb on the config.pck file.

If you are changing too much stuff to make it easy, you’ll want to use the config_list command to get a text copy of (most of) the config, manually edit it, then reload the changes into config.pck. Basically:

config_list -o config.txt listname

Edit config.txt:

1) If you changed the list name, change to the new name in the variable real_name
2) If you changed the host name, change to the new host name in the variable host_name
3) If you changed the host name or the base url, you will need to change that. But config_list doesn’t output this part of the config so you’ll have to add it manually such as:
web_page_url = ‘’

You also might want to change the list owner and other stuff now if you find editing text files easier.

Then restore the new config to the actual list config:

config_list -i config.txt listname

If you set web_page_url it will complain about it but it will actually set it.

If you did it all ok then you should now be able to go to the admin interface and things will work.

You also want to restore the archives and regenerate the web archives (if you use this):

Copy from old site archives/private/listname.mbox/listname.mbox
If you are changing the list name remember to change it here too. Don’t worry about copying the web archives, as it’s best just to regenerate them.

Now generate the new web archives by running “arch listname

Last task is to update the aliases file. Run genaliases and it’ll dump out all the aliases entries for all your lists. Use grep to pull out just the list you transferred and then update your aliases file, usually /etc/aliases or /etc/mail/aliases and then run newaliases if applicable to your mailer.

That should be all there is to it.