Category Archives: Chinese

Year of the Rat


According to Wikipedia, The Rat, the first of the 12-year cycle of animals in Chinese Zodiac, "was welcomed in ancient times as a protector and bringer of material prosperity", and "is associated with aggression, wealth, charm, and order, yet also with death, war, the occult, pestilence, and atrocities".

Rat people "are leaders, pioneers and conquerors. They are charming, passionate, charismatic, practical and hardworking. They are endowed with great leadership skills and are the most highly organized, meticulous, and systematic of the twelve signs. Intelligent and cunning at the same time, rat people are highly ambitious and strong-willed people who are keen and unapologetic promoters of their own agendas, which often include money and power".

If you are interested in reading more, here is the whole thing. If you are a fan of Chinese Astrology, here are some sites for you:

Wish everyone a very prosperous new year.



Related Articles:


Thanksgiving Duck

Please don’t laugh, because I’m serious. We are doing duck this year. We’ve done turkey a few times and goose one time (at Christmas). It’s time for something imaginative, and sinful…

Roast Five-Spice Duck with Honeyed-Mango Chutney Sauce

– brought to you by the fastidiously epicurean husband

– photographed by yours truly

1. The Brine

made with orange, onion, Chinese star anise (八角), garlic, ginger, salt, sugar, soy sauce, and all-spice powder

Continue reading

Lust, Caution

Lust Caution

The moment I stepped out of the theater after watching Ang Lee’s latest film, “Lust, Caution”, I didn’t believe it’d be possible for me to write a post about it. Words seem so powerless when trying to describe such a powerful cinematic experience.

Yet, the essence of this story was so simple, so haunting that I couldn’t let it go without putting something down. After all, that is why I keep a journal, to record things that’s worth recording.

If you, like most other people, have not seen this film (even in NYC there are only 2 theaters that are showing it), please stop reading. This post is solely intended for people who have watched it and is not a review or intro of any sort. If after watching it you are interested in what I have to say, come back and find this post. I’d love to hear what you think of the film and what you think of my point of view.

Continue reading

Bizarre Mooncakes

An idea inspired by some comments made in my post Moon Festival: Celebration of Togetherness, here is a collection of some of the most novel, intriguing, <put your own adjective here> modern mooncake fillings that I’ve seen mentioned on the web (in large part thanks to wikipedia).

Disclaimer: I have not tasted any one of them.


Continue reading

Moon Festival: Celebration of Togetherness

Full Moon

First let me say this really loud,

Happy Moon Festival to Everyone!

Continue reading

My 10th Anniversary as an Immigrant


I arrived in the U.S. on Aug 22, 1997. It was a sunny day, just like today.

The moment I stepped out of LGA airport, I looked up and saw the sky. It was unusually high (I learned later that wasn’t unusual. It merely appeared higher because of the better air quality). Friends who came on the plane together with me, I still remember their faces clearly. We were picked up by a few senior students I contacted earlier. One of them has the same name as my brother’s.

The first trip to PathMark was a curious one. Because we were living in an apartment complex outside campus, shopping was a major problem. None of us had driver license. The senior students took us to PathMark right after we arrived so we could have something to eat for the night.

Everything was so expensive. Fruit and vegetables especially. One of things I bought was Taco chips, recommended by one of the seniors. It turned out to be one of my favorites in the early days. Almost everyone bought cup noodles. They were popular in China back in the time when we were growing up, and they were cheap. Graduate students’ monthly stipend was only $800-$900 and we hadn’t even seen the first paycheck yet.

During the first orientation seminar they offered free lunch sandwiches, very cold Turkey sandwiches. I’m sure it was very healthy and nutritional but I couldn’t finish them. It was tasteless (now I eat those sandwiches on regularly basis). Instead I went to the cafeteria at Student Activity Center nearby and bought a slice of pizza. I was the only new student that did that, though everyone seemed to hate the sandwich.

I met HM in an unusual way. My then b.f. was visiting me and an hour after he left for the train station, I got a call from a girl I didn’t know. She said her name was HM and she just met my b.f. at the train station. She said they had a little chat and he learned that she was also a new graduate student in CS dept of our school, and he gave her my number. I then invited her over to my apt and we chatted. Just like that, I got a new girl friend.

Computer Science Department building didn’t impress me when I first saw it, but that doesn’t matter. It was a very special place because of all the time we spent there, and all the people I met there. The computer room. The Ping Pong room. Our office. My lab. Library. Professors’ offices. The guy in my lab who quit (for a job) after only a few months. The two seniors with the same name Bao in the middle. The guy who took me to Flushing for the first time. The guy who introduced himself by saying he had a girl’s name.

And Theo.

Theo was the reason I bought a TV earlier than everyone else. He was (part of) the reason I was always looking to talk to non-Chinese students, trying to avoid, not very successfully, speaking Chinese all the time with only Chinese students. He said my English was not very good, even though I secretely thought it was alot better than most of other students. He suggested me listen to talk shows to improve listening. I did exactly that, but found the talk shows were much easier to understand than him.

He had a very heavy, thick Greek accent. None of the talk show hosts sounded like him.

Theo was my professor, who I was working closely with as a research assistant.

Not being able to understand him fully was the biggest challenge I faced in my early days. I don’t remember much about other courses/projects except some were harder than others. I did best in Algorithm but never got chance to take Networking in my 3 semesters’ stay. I enjoyed the 2-D barcode decoding algorithm I was working with Theo and the time I spent in SBL as an intern. It turned out to be the only working experience I had other than my current job. All the people there I still remember. My Polish mentor (his “top model” picture in his cubicle). Two Joes. The Taiwanese girl. Michelle.

Starting from ’98 summer, instead of cooking most of the meals I ate mostly on campus. Roth cafeteria. SAC cafeteria. Hospital cafeteria. Smith Haven Mall. I’d gotten driver license and bought a ’88 Toyota Tercel for about $1,000. It saved lots of time and energy. And I found out I was really good at driving and enjoyed every minute of it.

The end of SB era was a little blurred in my memory because something happened in my personal life that summer. All I remember is I had to put everything aside and start looking for a job. By then I had already moved to another apartment where I no longer had a roommate. But HM was there in my hardest time. I didn’t attend graduation ceremony. I can’t even remember the day I left.

For the next eight years, I worked. Some years flew by as if they were a few days. Some days felt they would last forever. I realize how impossible it is to write about the last few years. I realize there are experiences in life that cannot be expressed in words. You succumb to the power of life in awe and sometimes, in fear. But in all the times, you have no choice but endure, live on, and learn, so you can be better prepared for the next time.

Chinese and English, Part 2

For people who appreciate the beauties of the Chinese and English languages, trust me, you are gonna LOVE these:

Welcome sign
Shop sign
Hotel light panel

Guangdong hotel sign
Elevator sign

Park plant

There are a lot more at this site and I didn’t have time to see all of them. You can go check them out yourself and let me know if there are better ones.

Hope it lightens up your day, because it sure did for mine!

Related Articles: