Books: Albert and I recently finished The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. A number of reviewers consider it chick lit, but I guess I shouldn’t let that embarrass me. (Wikipedia categorizes it as romance fiction.) I had no trouble finishing (after getting started); the novel reads very smoothly.

I found the plot compelling because I (weakly) identify as the protagonist. Don, in his quest to find a wife, creates a questionnaire that asks about smoking, drinking, eating kidneys, and other criteria he believes a suitable partner must satisfy. While I haven’t taken this approach in my life, I do think it has its merits, so I read the novel to discover how this approach played out.

Unfortunately, the ending was unsatisfying, so I plan on reading the sequel. I’m almost regarding these novels as a guide to my own life, and I wonder if the author had this in mind. More generally, I wonder if identification (either conscious or subconscious) is an essential component of engaging fiction.



Chinese/Leisure: I was recently added to a Facebook group known as subtle asian traits (SAT). In this group, members post memes (e.g., Inhaling Seagull, Surprised Pikachu), tweets, pictures, videos, etc., pertaining to (ostensibly) Asian-American culture. Common topics include popular food items (e.g., bubble tea, dim sum, hot pot, Indomie Mi Goreng), things moms say (e.g., “put on more clothes”, “don’t stand near the microwave”), going to Chinese school, Asian fetish, practicing piano, and the popularity of SAT itself. (As of now, the group has at least 25 people with the same name as me…)

It’s pretty clear that SAT serves as a community—a fun place to bond over shared experiences as Asian Americans. And I think the reason some of the (better) posts on SAT resonate so strongly with its members is that they, being written (partially) in Chinese, capture word-for-word the phrases we’ve heard our parents repeatedly say. The English/Chinese bilingual puns can be quite clever, too (e.g., “立刻买包子, 三块肉给你妈吃, 一四OK”).

Unfortunately, the novelty is starting to wear off, and the proportion of high-quality (i.e., highly-relatable, clever, and/or funny) posts is decreasing. But it’s definitely still worthy of a blog post.


Basketball: It’s been a great week: Kawhi Leonard’s doing well on the Raptors, Derrick Rose scored a career-high 50 points, and Spencer Dinwiddie hit some big shots against the Pistons. The Splash Brothers continue to make history: Klay Thompson made an NBA-record 14 3-pointers in a game, and Stephen Curry scored 51 points in 3 quarters not long before that.

Food/Prompted: [Mustard (see Ketchup)] When a burger already has pickles, I think adding mustard creates too much acidity, and I prefer the taste (and texture) of pickles. But the advantages of mustard are its uniformity and adhesiveness, which make it more suitable than pickles on hot dogs. The condiment I prefer the most on hot dogs is probably relish, which is basically pickle sauce. Relish might be too wet for burgers, but I could be wrong.

Honey mustard is one of my favorite sandwich dressings. American yellow mustard is strikingly yellow, so when used as a condiment, it looks like it was Photoshopped. Both American yellow and spicy brown mustard taste a little overwhelming. And apparently, a hamburger from McDonald’s may or may not contain mustard, depending on the region (though the official website says there is mustard).


Food: I used to find the idea of eating fast food everyday to be appalling—something I’d never come close to doing. I also didn’t quite understand the appeal of drive-thrus. But unfortunately, I’ve realized that it’s quite easy (for me, at least) to fall into this habit, now that I’m living an “adult” (i.e., post-college) lifestyle. Getting a McMuffin and eating it on the way to work is just so convenient.

Music: I recently discovered a genre (?) of music called Lo-fi. Actually, I think Rhett recommended it on Ear Biscuits as music for writing. And I agree—I think it’s great. There are multiple radio streams on YouTube, like this one, that seem to play endlessly.


Music: I’ve been working on Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 10. I’ve wanted to learn this for years, ever since I heard a recording by Yundi Li. This piece is a quintessential example of the type of music I want to play: crisp, lively, and musically fulfilling. Some of the runs are slightly challenging, but hopefully, I’ll be able to manage them.

AJR – Come Hang Out. Lana Del Ray – Summertime Sadness. lovelytheband – broken.

Weather: Two weeks ago, we had highs of 87, 88, and 89 degrees. This week, we have highs of 61, 64, and 67. The temperature of my room has dropped to 66 in recent mornings, but a few weeks ago, I was cranking the AC just to hit 76. It looks like this year’s mid-late October is colder than average, but the transition was quite sudden.


Basketball/English: One definition of “lost” is the usual one (e.g., “he lost his keys”), and another is “evaded” (e.g., “the robber lost the cops”). I was watching some basketball highlights recently, and in one of them, Kyrie Irving executed a dribbling maneuver that fazed his defender. I think the announcer said, “He lost him!” which, although ambiguous, actually works both ways: the defender was unable to find Irving, and Irving evaded the defender.

Music: This week, I added a new page to this site, and I spent over an hour parsing the rhythm of “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.” My first instinct was to use a of mixed meter, similar to the one in “America.” But I couldn’t do it! My current solution (listed on the page) is quite ugly, which makes me doubt its correctness. Maybe it’s just a hemiola?

Of course, I suppose any rhythm can be written in any time signature, but I’m somewhat of a prescriptivist. The 4/4 solution (found everywhere online) for “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” isn’t actually too off-putting, but I feel like there’s something better.


Food/Prompted: [What does ketchup mean to you?] Ketchup is my favorite condiment. To me, fries and nuggets without ketchup is like cereal without milk, or a burger without a bun. Ketchup elevates its (often greasy) vehicle to a new, wonderful dimension that other condiments, in my opinion, cannot match.

I think my penchant for ketchup is rooted in nostalgia. Growing up, I thought of fast food as a treat, and ketchup was (only) eaten with fast food. Even though I now have easy access to fast food, ketchup still evokes the same cheerful, carefree spirit I felt as a child exploring the Burger King playground after a delicious meal. I’m pretty sure it’s the ketchup (and not the fries, say) because I even feel this way when eating it with bread or broccoli. But eating ketchup doesn’t always boost my mood—after all, it’s only a condiment.

I also really like salsa, and I believe I’ve enjoyed every tomato-based (pasta) sauce I’ve ever had. Tomato juice and tomato soup are only okay; both tend to be uncomfortably salty. Tomato and egg soup is very good, and raw tomatoes are decent.


English: I recently learned how to pronounce “woman” and “women.” When used in daily speech, I never hesitated with these words, but it didn’t occur to me that I didn’t actually know the difference in pronunciation. I remember saying “wo-” as in “woke,” followed by “man/men” when trying to specify which word I meant: “WHOA, MAN.”

Interestingly, the ‘a’ turning into an ‘e’ affects the “wo” and nothing else. The “wo” in “woman” is like “wood,” and in “women,” it’s like “win.” The latter parts of “woman/women” contain schwas, kind of like the neutral tone in Chinese. I think they do differ ever so slightly, but basically sound like a clipped ‘i’ as in “win.”

And why did I decide to look this up? I randomly remembered ghoti, a respelling of  “fish,” and the Wikipedia article says the ‘o’ is pronounced as the ‘o’ in “women.” (And just to be complete: the ‘gh’ is pronounced as in “enough,” and the ‘ti” as in “nation.”)