A Bowl of Rice

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Location: Ontario, Canada

Paying Fancy Prices to Pretend that I Have A Fancy Life

2005/06/30

Bagged and Tagged

The second time I play this game. Thank the eloguent and kind Paul for tagging me.

A lifetime
I am afraid I would use a lifetime to know myself.

5 years ago
I was still a teenager who was buried in the happiness at the offer from Fudan University. Everything in the university was exciting and new for me. That's why they called us 'freshman', I guess.

1 year ago
I was trying to figure out my future and ended up relocated in North America. The year of 2004 is really a markstone of my life, when I said goodbye to families, friends and headed for a whole new world.

Yesterday
Another day was wasted. Now I am feeling bad for that.

Tomorrow
It's Canada Day!

5 snacks I enjoy
  1. Chou Tofu (Stingy Tofu)
  2. Chocolate Chip cookies
  3. Chips
  4. Peanuts
  5. Walnuts

5 songs I know the words to
I tend to recreat lyrics when I don't sing with Karaoke machine.

5 things I would do with $100,000,000

  1. Give 80% of it to my families;
  2. Save the rest in the bank (I quite enjoy saving money);
  3. Look for a better job, coz I would probably feel more confident then;
  4. Go to restaurants without looking at the prices on the menu;
  5. Check my bank account every night before I go to bed. I am sure that would make me sleep way much better.
5 locations I'd like to run away to
  1. Internet
  2. Any air-conditioned place
  3. Not nature
  4. N/A
  5. N/A

5 bad habits I have

  1. too serious
  2. always late for something
  3. tend to waste my time away
  4. a loner
  5. always think I am right

5 things I like doing

  1. dining out
  2. watching television/movies
  3. walking and watching people
  4. talking to people who enjoy talking to me
  5. having showers

5 things I would never wear

  1. tattoo
  2. any clothes with shinny materials
  3. leather
  4. any tight clothes
  5. jewery

5 TV shows that I like

  1. Friends;
  2. The Family Guy - Baby Stewey is my favorite;
  3. Saint Seiya (圣斗士星矢);
  4. Journey to the West (西游记);
  5. The Yongzheng Dynasty(雍正王朝);

5 famous people I'd like to meet
N/A, not very comfortable with meeting new people

5 biggest joys at the moment

  1. The trip I am going to take in less than a month;
  2. Blogging and receiving comments from my readers;
  3. The new culture I am exploring;
  4. Watching myself surviving in a new environment;
  5. Forced to do something I don't like to do initially.

5 favourite toys

  1. cash;
  2. my bank cards;
  3. my computer;
  4. mp3 player;
  5. plastic coffee cups I collected

5 people to tag
Last time I tagged 5 people, none of whom followed my tag. So I give it up this time.

2005/06/29

Boss

Dining in the Sleepless Goat was not easy when I wore a cap entitled 'BOSS' while the waiter's T-shirt announced 'You are not the boss of me'.

The Sleepless Goat is a local restaurant, which is collectively owned by the people who work there. In other words, there's no boss there. People in town are proud of this small local restaurant just because of this idea. It's amazing to see how people practice Communism and cherish the relative ideas which are gradually abandoned by so-called Communism countries. What's more, it opens right beside Starbucks, the defender of Capitalism.

I couldn't help looking around to ensure my 'safety' as I was really scared of the waiter's kinky dress. It was quite a hippie place where suit and tie was not expected. People might have been talking about either terrorism or drug. But they turned out extremely nice to me. Everyone smiled to me as if I belonged to them. I felt weirdly comfortable.

Finishing my lunch, I left some tips on the desk and rushed out. I was afraid that the waiter would come out to throw the money back and yell at me 'Don't give me the crap of Capitalism.'

2005/06/26

Non-Shopping Day

This week I came across the most ridiculous thing since I came here. I went back to the Future Shop to replace a product I bought there half a year ago. The manager there sent me back with a senseless statement that he felt threatened. I am still wondering how could I 'threaten' him in his place with his people standing behind him speaking his mother language. They didn't treat me fairly I think.

On the way back home, I was thinking I would stop buying consuming product like this, not just because the value was degraded but also of the fact that it caused me troubles like this. So June 23 was memorable for me as the Non-Shopping Day. No shopping, no bothering.

Moreover, I gave up on asking for justice again. Not everything would come my way in the whole life, I suppose. So I accept the unjustice or unfairness that happens on me.

2005/06/22

Movie: The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants

Surrounded by a pile of big action movies such as Batman Begins and Mr. and Mrs. Smith , I picked up the less famous one The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. I was almost taken away by the up-and-downs of these four pre-mature teen girls, whoes stories were connected by a pair of jeans they bought and shared.

Thanks to the movies like this, more and more people become sensitive and start thinking about their own lives. But I am sorry that I don't want my life so juicy. So to think or not to think? I choose to sleep.

2005/06/18

A Man Slaved in the Bar: Same-sex Marriage

My classmates asked me out last night. We went into a bar, where, coincidentally, another colleague was throwing a bachelor party for his friend. They locked a chain to the guy's leg. Yeah, after next week, he would be totally enslaved. I joked with him "Wise man don't get married. Once they get married, they become otherwise." I think his tongue must have been intoxicated and became thicker, coz' I couldn't really understand what he was talking to me.

I remember my friend told me before I came to North America the difference between American and Canadian. He said "when people disagree, American would take out their guns and shoot you to death while Canadian would talk you to death." I am not sure of the American part, but Canadian, especially drunk Canadian, really can talk. I was a little hang-over today but I can still remember we covered democracy, capitalism, nation-state, movie and etc.

When we were discussing Canadian politicans, my colleague initiated the topic of gay marriage, which was a very popular topic in Canada since December. He said his friend was going to have a gay marriage next week and he was his best man. I am fine with same sex marriage but there're some issues we need to work on before it's legalized. The underlying principle of gay marriage is that everyone has the right to get married, no matter of one's gender and sexuality. But according to the same belief, marriage should not be constrained at certain age or two people. A 10-year-old kid also has the right to get married. And monogamy couldn't speak for itself in front of this belief as well. Again, I think juvenile marriage and polygamy are fine. The problem is if the society is ready for them?

I was glad to see that another classmate shared with me the same idea that the whole marriage thing was bull-shit. Why do people need a certificate to justify their "love"? Why do people want to use a marriage to 'slave' the person they love? I know I am doing non-sense talk again. So please, hit me baby one more time.

2005/06/17

Movie: The Interpreter

I conducted an experiment with a friend with French Canadian background a couple of weeks ago before I watched the movie 'The Interpreter'. We spoke languages that the other didn't speak and saw how much we could understand each other. In this case, I spoke Chinese and he spoke French. It is said that one would understand as long as one listens carefully. Unfortunately, we failed. Without proper language training in the specific language, everything we said that evening didn't make sense to each other. The next step, we abandoned the languages. We started to communicate with gestures and body languages. Guess what? With practice, we understood each other gradually.

My point here is that after years of 'socialization', I become so dependent on languages that I almost lose the natural ability of expression.

One day when I was reading in my park (a quiet place I found near my house), a big bird flew over and stopped near me. I tried to greet it but I couldn't find a language that both of us could understand. So I had to ignore it. I asked myself since when the communication between me and other creatures beame problematic, even a simple greeting.

Besides the dependence on languages, another problem I have is that I have been trained to look for the difference since kindergarten. So skin color, gender, language, I try to locate as many differences as I could. That builds walls between people. I should start to appreciate the common things between different creatures.

Tolerate the difference, and focus on the similarity. That's the way to acheive peace, I think.

2005/06/15

Dessert in the Forest

Yesterday, my friends brought me to their cottage in the woods. Everything was wonderful except the annoying buggs. That's another reason why I am not in love with nature. Luckily we went boating before it started raining and that we had to head back to town.


Boat at the Cottage


Chip(the dog)and Garner Lake

The most beautiful encounter of this trip into the forest was Baklava, a middle-eastern dessert. Before I moved my fork, friends warned me of its sweetness, which I usually couldn't stand. Because of friends' repeated warnings, I was envisioning the taste of Baklava as I was wondering where to start. As a matter of fact, I found it not as sweet as what I expected. It was made with Phyllo dough, walnuts, butter, and sugar. After baking to perfection, a sweet syrup is immediately poured over the pieces allowing the syrup to be absorbed into the layers. The bitter walnut pieces added a special flavor among sugar, syrup, and honey. The Phyllo gave baklava a delicious crispy taste. I think the Baklava I was having was made from brown sugar and maple syrup so that it wasn't sweet to the extent that my scalp departed my head. The sweetness is 'perfectly adequat'. It must be a way to tell the quality of a dessert, I guess.

A debate between friends started on where Baklava originally came from. One insisted that it was Greek food while another said it was universal in the Middle East. After reading, I think they were both right. Baklava is of Assyrian origin around 8th Century B.C. Then it spread to the Mediterranean. With the advent of the Grecian Empire, it spread westward to Greece. There, Greek artisan bakers made a significant contribution - they mastered a method of rolling the pastry dough into paper thin sheets called fillo ("fillo" or "phyllo" actually means "leaf" in the Greek language). The recipe of Baklava was not perfected until Ottoman Empire. The cooks and chefs from diverse ethnic groups that composed the empire was recruited at Ottoman Palace. The interaction of different chefs refined the art of cooking and pastry-making of the Empire. Similar to ancient Chinese empires, the Palace always remained the top culinary "academy" of the Empire where different cookings communicated and learnt from one another.

In Turkish culture, walnut is valued as a symbol of weathy and the prosperity of families because they believe walnuts held aphrodisiac powers. This can also be reflected from the treature of walnut in Ugrian culture in Xingjiang province of China, where the people have their origin in Turkey. Because of the ingredient of walnuts, Baklava was baked only on special occasions only by the rich in Turkey. To date one can hear a common expression often used by the poor, or even by the middle class, saying: "I am not rich enough to eat baklava and boerek every day".

I felt lucky to have such a "luxury" in the middle of nowhere. This special treat accidentally match the way I remember the spelling of the word 'dessert'. I used to mix 'dessert' and 'desert'. Looking at the double 's' in 'dessert', I told myself 'dessert' was 'Something Sweet (SS)' in the 'desert', the middle of nowhere.

2005/06/13

Dream on Boat

Two days ago, my landlord invited me to his boat. Coincidentally, it was Chinese Dragon Boat Festival that day. Usually I would eat Zong Zi (or Rice Tamale), wear Hsiang Bao (or Sachet), and watch Dragon Boat race to celebrate this festival. This year, however, all of these are only tengible in my dream. But I finally got to play on a boat, which was my dream when I watched the boats racing at a young age.


This festival originated from a story of the famous ancient poet Qu Yuan. Disappointed at the government, Qu Yuan threw himself into the Milow river in his sorrow. Because of their admiration for him, the local people living adjacent to the Milow River rushed into their boats to search for him while throwing rice into the waters to appease the river dragons and fish so that they wouldn't devour Qu Yuan. From this point of view, Chinese people are so obsessed with food that they think everything (humans and non-humans) lives in this world for a common reason - food. Food can satisfy the God, the ghost, animals, ancesters, and ourselves of course. That's why every celemony and event comes with special food in Chinese culture.

I am not a big fan of sticky rice food. But having Zongzi and realgar wine is the tradition for thousands of years. The food itself becomes less important than the culture residing in it. In different parts of China, people wrap different things in Zongzi. Jiaxing District, south to Shanghai, is famous for its pork Zongzi, sometimes with salty eggs. The seasoned pork is well cooked and melts right away in your mouth. The roughness of salty eggs balances the sticky rice. Everything works together just perfectly.

I am paticular familiar with the pure rice Zongzi, which my mother wraps every year. Because of the purity of the rice, the fragrence of bamboo leaves (the wrappers) stands out. I usually dip this Zongzi in sugar or honey. The moment when my teeth touched the rice with honey was the best. I like the feeling of originally bound rice collapsing in my mouth.

I know the Asian Market here sells Zongzi. But I try to avoid eating Zongzi as something to fill me up. Some food is only tasty when shared with people who appreciate it.

2005/06/12

A Bowl of Rice and Teeth

As you might have noticed, the title of this site is officially changed to 'A Bowl of Rice'.

After being a reble for a couple months, I find a negative energy growing inside of me, which is totally out of my expectation. Initially, I wanted to break away from the hegemony, recreate something and provide alternatives for the existing values. But it turned out that I started searching for things to hate. That's not what I want. For most of the time, living is like being raped. One can either fight or enjoy it. This time I pick the harder one, to enjoy it.

I have big dreams, like millions of people in this world. But ultimatetly, we live for a bowl of rice. We study hard, work hard, steal, and kill, all of which are for a bowl of rice. I am not better than others because I read some so-called brilliant works or use big words. I don't want to enforce my thoughts in others' brians or put words in others' mouths. All I want to do is to join the main stream and work for my bowl of rice.

Of course, the content of this site would also change a little bit. Hopefully, this site would be about food and the stories behind them, not exclusively though. In the launch of this new site, I would like to start with my teeth. For the last few weeks, several friends had to visit dentist and could not eat some food. It suddenly occurs to me that in order to earn a bowl of rice and enjoy it, we need to have good teeth first. So I took the dentist's advice and prepared myself a dental package:
  • brush - brush teeth twice a day
  • toothpaste - used with brush
  • dental floss - clean the plague between teeth and below the gumline
  • Crest whitestripe - for a healthy looking teeth
  • wash my teeth twice a year

Protect your teeth before it is too late.

2005/06/10

Gentlemen on Sale

When I was practicing my 'Unplanned Wandering' this afternoon, I intruded into Indigo (a book store). As I mentioned in my previous entry, I am that kind of bastard who askes the staffs searching for some uncommon books but seldome buys them.

I accidentally found a book called Gentlemen: A Timeless Fashion. For me, this sort of book is a thicker version of fashion magazine that I usually would ignore or spit onto. But this time I stopped in front of it. What attracted me was the tag above it saying '80% off'. Oops, gentlemen's on sale!

Wait a second. Flipping through the book, I realized that to be a gentleman was still so damned expensive. From top to bottom, from underware to necktie, you gotta take care of everything. It echoed a blog I read from 'How to Pay Rent' about a gentleman and his wallet. Being Gentlemen is all about crapping money away (not in the toilet of course).

"My God", I repeated this line that I picked up from pornography and went away. I couldn't just stand there and keep embarassing myself and 'gentlemen', because I wore a pair of broken Converse and no underwear.

So close! A gentleman cost only 19.99 dollars (plus taxes) after the discount. But I still couldn't afford it.

2005/06/09

I Don't Read Enough

I was surprised that Sven tagged me. Suddenly there is a person who follows my blog and keeps making comments. I am still grateful for your comments and your encouragement. I would have quit blogging.

Well, here we go.

How many books do I own?

It's really embarrassing to reveal that I own less than a hundred books. First of all, I can't really afford books. I used to go to the bookstores and read the books there. Now I am lucky enough that I can borrow out as many books as I like from a big library. Second of all, influenced by an ancient Chinese scholar, I sort of believe that one can only read borrowed books, the ownership and the deadline of which push me to finish them as soon as possible. Or the books would just sit on my shelves for ever.

The last book I bought?
James Gleick (2002) What Just Happened: A Chronicle from the Information Frontier
I bought this book a couple of months ago when I was wandering at Indigo. Gleick is very insightful into the Internet culture. His cynical writing style reveals that he is a smart ass, which most North American are trying to be.
The last book I read?
Bill Bogard (1996) The Simulation of Surveillance: Hyper Control in Telematic Societies
I had a chance to talk to the author after I read his book. His brilliant employment of Baudrillar's simulacrum into the current trend of Surveillance practice is fascinating. It also stiimulated me to think of our identity. Stripped of the name, gender, height, weight that enforced on our physical body, who are we? What do people mean when they say they are Chinese/Canadian/Swedish/Australian/...?

Five books that mean a lot to me?

Wu Chen'en (1592) The Jouney to the West :
It's a classical Chinese novel about priest Sanzang and his three disciples, Monkey, Pig and Friar Sand, suffer 81 troubles and travel to India in quest of Buddhist scriptures. It totally blew me off by the author's incredible imagination. After reading that, I talked to my cat and hoped he would respond and turn to a cat-man accompaning me to discorver another side of the world.

Lu Yaodong (2002) The Stomach Greatly Tolerates :
I read this book last summer before I headed to North America. Initially I meant to learn some Chinese cooking so that I could survive. It turned out the incorporation of Chinese culture and the interpretation of Chinese cusine distracted me from learning cooking. I was so into this book that I was going to give up my program to be a cultural food hunter like Lu.

Berger, Arthur Asa (1997) Postmortem for a Postmodernist :
It is an interesting postmodern novel. The story is very simple. However, I did learn a lot about the essence of post modernism during the reading.

Micheal Foucault (1972) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison:
This book was the reason I am in my field now. And I believe someday I would learn French just in order to read the original French version.

Confucian Analects :
This is the foundation of my knowlege and my life. It's more a methodology of how to lead a life and how to do study.
Who to tag?
Well, I don't think I know any bloggers well enough to do this. I would so lose my face if the persons I tag don't do that. So it would be an open call here.

Updated:
After a second thought, I think it's a good way of making friends. So I am gonna tag 5 more persons:
Fredyan
Peabody
Andrew
Laoch-of Chicago
Jesse

Cheers!

2005/06/06

Love Letters

Inspired by Chiang Meichi's song, I started to count my love letters, how many love letters I received and how many I wrote. When I say love letters, I mean love letters written on papers, rather than email and the like. I am not sure if everyone in the world gets at least one love letter. But I can still say it is very lucky to receive love letters, especially in the digital era.

I don't believe that kind of crap in the movie 'You've Got Mail'. Confessions through emails are cheap. No matter what your confession is, the only way to show it to your secret admiree (is it a word) is to press 'sent'. Love, however, speaks not only in words. To complete a love letter, one needs to furnish his/her words, perhaps rewrite it for several times. One also needs to think of a way to present the love letter. There are much better ways of sending love letters than throwing them a mail box. As a matter of fact, the presenting is the most memorable part of it. I can still remeber those expressions when they gave me letters with shaking hands and choked to tell me not to read the letters until they left. Those were unforgettable moments in my life.

Love letters belong to the innoceant age when people don't consider whether the two of them match or not, all that in their mind is the urge to express love. The problem with love in this time is that people are searching for match instead of love. "I hope you find someone who can understand you." They are playing the game of trial-and-error, which is sad.

I hope it is not too late for me to realize this. To thoes who wrote love letters to me, I wanna say thank-you. Every love letter is a precious lesson leading me to the puriest tribe of love. So I would not flirt around. What's more, wherever you are and whoever you are with right now, I still feel being loved when reading your letters.

2005/06/05

Do the Taichi

Tonight my friend told me I had the very talent to become a monk. His statement really freaked me out 'coz I feel it as well. I tend to turn everything into seriousness, which always gives people hard times. The questions I ask and the arguments I make keep scaring people away. Great, I would end up being a monk if I don't do anything about it.

Okay, so what I need is to learn doing things eclectically, like what 50 Cent rapps "Just A Little Bit":
Damn baby all I need is a lil bit
A lil bit of this, a lil bit of that
...
All a nigga really need is a lil bit
Not a lot baby girl just a lil bit
We can head to the crib in a lil bit
I can show ya how I live in a lil bit
I wanna unbutton your pants just a lil bit
Take 'em off and pull 'em down just a lil bit
Get to kissin' and touchin' a lil bit
Get to lickin' and (*edited*) a lil bit

It's the essence of Taichi, which pursues the balance between Ying and Yang. Totalizing things seldom does me any good. I should start practicing flirting. Just flirting, no more and no less. It's the best way to find the harmony in my life, I guess.

Just another thought, does it mean I am not young any more once I stop going to the extreme?

2005/06/03

Feverish Laziness

I am suffering what Foucault addresses as "feverish laziness." It's a character trait of people who love libraries, documents, references, dusty manuscripts, texts that have never been read, books which, no sooner printed, were closed and then slept on the shelves and were only taken down centuries later. All this quite suits the busy inertia of those who profess useless knowledge, a sort of sumptuary knowledge, the wealth of a parvenu - and, as you know, its external signs are found at the foot of the page. It's a great, tender, and warm freemasonry of useless erudition.

Summer's Here
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING IDLE

I sold my soul for the second time
Cos the man, he don't pay me
I begged my landlord for some more time
He said “Son, the bill's waiting”

My best friend called me the other night
He said “Man, are you crazy?”
My girlfriend told me to get a life
She said “boy, you're lazy”

But I don't mind
As long as there's a bed beneath the stars that shine
I'll be fine
If you give me a minute
A man's got a limit
You can't get a life
if your heart's not in it

I lost my faith in the summertime
Cos it don't stop raining
The sky all day's as black as night
But I love complaining

I begged my doctor for one more line
He said “Son, words fail me”
It ain't no place to be killing time
But I guess I'm just lazy

I don't mind
As long as there's a bed beneath the stars that shine
I'll be fine
If you give me a minute
A mans got a limit
I cant get a life if my
heart's not in it

2005/06/02

Willboard May

Willboard is the montly recommendation of new albums I am listening to. This May is the month of Rock. The highlight of this month is Don't Believe the Truth (Oasis). This is Oasis' best album so far, I think. It brings out the laziness of this summer.

English

Chinese

Melody

2005/06/01

Gone Going

I was excited at the accidental visit of the raccoon. But my landlord worried that the raccoon would bite his house (like termits)and tear it down, so he dedicated to get the raccoon out.

The raccoon didn't cooperate no matter what we did. He just sat deep inside the attic and watched us busy through his raccoon eyes. I hated it when he looked at me that way. I open a window for him to run out and also put some flour near the window to trace whether he went out or not. Obviously, we couldn't watch him all the time.

Yesterday evening, I saw the marks of flour on the window. No more weird breath and noise in the house. He's gone even before I could take a picture of him.