When I want to translate something from English to Chinese, I put in the time cross-referencing the translation to avoid making any embarrassing mistakes. Today I was going out to help one of my wife’s friends replace the battery in her 2007 Prius. In a hurry, while she was on the phone, I tossed “I am the battery master” into Google Translate. GT came up with 我是电池主人 (Wǒ shì diànchí zhǔrén). In a hurry, I used it 100% without checking it off Pleco or MDBG as I normally would.
A swing and a miss.
电池 is battery. No question there. 主人 is master or owner, but it came out as 巨人 (jùrén) instead of 主人 (zhǔrén). 巨人 is… giant. I am the battery giant. [sad trombone]
Not that 主人 is even the best. Maybe 专家 (zhuānjiā) instead.
Anyway. I don’t own a Prius, so I found these two resources were the best for figuring out what I was doing before heading out to the garage (PROTIP: the battery is in the back):
From NPR’s How I Built This podcast…
GUY RAZ: When you’re thinking about starting a business, where do the ideas come from?
RICHARD BRANSON: As I’ve said, I think the best businesses come out of frustration. If you have a bad experience with another business somewhere in your life, you think, “Screw it, we can do it better than this.” Even if you don’t know much about it, just do it, get in there. Many years ago I wanted to invest some money and somebody gave me a bit of paper, and at the bottom of the bit of paper it said, “Bid offer spread 5%.” So I happened to say, “What does that mean?” And he said, “That means we take 5% of your money before we start investing it. I thought, “Screw this, I’m going to set up our own bank.” And we’ll make sure there isn’t any jargon like that to hide the real charges. We’ll be a very transparent, a very open bank. Virgin Money is now the prime challenger bank in Britain. And I didn’t know… My experience with banks was bank managers coming and banging on my door and trying to put us out of business. So I didn’t know a lot about it, but I’ve found people who know a lot about it to run it, and left them get on with it.
JERRY SEINFELD: You know, it’s very important to know what you don’t like. It’s good to have an idea, but a big part, I find, of a lot of innovation starts with someone saying, you know what I’m really sick of? That’s where innovation begins.
—HBR IdeaCast, “Starting and Stopping with Success“, 2017-01-19
That’s usually where I start when it comes to writing software at work. You know what I’m really sick of? Doing something in a database by hand that can be done by software—write a DXL script for it. You know what I’m really sick of? Formatting a spreadsheet the same way every time I need to hand in a report—write a VBA script for it. And so on. That’s the easy stuff. Small scale innovation. Sometimes I close my eyes and think of career design instead of script design. You know what I’m really sick of?
When I saw the phrase “30-day eggnog” show up in my RSS feed, I knew right away that I had to try it. It was too weird of a concept to let it pass by. Michael Ruhlman: “Plan ahead: 30-day eggnog“.
I’ve never made eggnog before. Growing up, we just bought it at the store. I knew eggnog proper had some alcohol in it, but I assumed it was mostly eggs and milk with just a little bit of alcohol. Wrong. Flip that equation around.
So, while the eggnog is aging in the refrigerator—either mellowing into a more complex flavor or preparing to kill me—here’s how I set it up. The recipe is 75% of the one on Michael Ruhlman’s site because I only wanted to buy a 750 mL bottle of bourbon.
- 9 egg yolks
- 1.5 cups granulated sugar
- 750 mL bourbon
- 3 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cup heavy cream (I think I just used a full cup because that was the size of the container)
- 2/3 cup brandy
- 3/8 cup Myers’s dark rum
- pinch of kosher salt
I came across this passage at the very end of Hawaii’s Story by Liliʻuolkalani (scanned copy on Google Books). It’s from Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, Act 2, Scene 2:
So you must be the first that gives this sentence,
And he, that suffer’s. O, it is excellent
To have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.
Could great men thunder
As Jove himself does, Jove would ne’er be quiet,
For every pelting, petty officer
Would use his heaven for thunder;
Nothing but thunder! Merciful Heaven,
Thou rather with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt
Split’st the unwedgeable and gnarled oak
Than the soft myrtle: but man, proud man,
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.
(Go ahead and get in the mood: Hawaiian Radio on Pandora)
In January I’m taking a trip to Hawaii with Chen and her parents. We’ll only be there for eight days, and we’ll spend most of our time on Maui and Hawaii. I’ve never been there, never paid much attention to it.
So: I’m learning about Hawaii.
Eight days isn’t long enough to understand anything about a place, sure. My challenge is to spend the next two months learning about Hawaii—Hawaii Hawaii—so that I’m prepared when I get there to see and taste and hear things that I might have missed otherwise. Food, music, books, sights. My ideal of how to take a trip is super pretentious—so what? I’ll go to the sites that everyone goes to—those are also fun. But I really enjoy the kind of preparation of getting to know about a place. It’s like preparing for an athletic event. The payoff is both in the work and in the performance. I think there’s something wrong with me.
There are a few angles I’m taking on this. One is the Hawaiian language. Another is studying maps. And finding books. And music. And small companies that only exist in Hawaii that I’ll never see again after I leave.
I’m taking notes: /travel/hawaii. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment or send me an email.
Here are some ideas I’ve collected so far:
I’m biased towards: books I can get from the library; out-of-copyright books I can get via Google Books; used books I can get for less than $1 on Amazon.
I’ve already picked up the ones below. I’ll make notes about others on /travel/hawaii#books
Aloha. Mahalo. That’s all I’ve got so far.
Hawaiian Public Radio (@wearehpr) posts a Hawaiian word of the day on Twitter (#HWOTD).
I’m 35—10 years since finishing my masters degree at Illinois. I’ll still have this dream every month or two that it’s finals week, and there’s a final in a class that I’ve forgotten to attend and forgotten to drop by the deadline. The dream never resolves. Take the exam and fail? Withdraw from the class? How does it end? Thanks College of Engineering for triggering tonight’s hellride.
1. Now reading
Started: Discrete Mathematics with Applications by Susanna Epp. Nerd alert. After ten years in the Industry, I’m trying to recast myself as a software-knowledgeable person. And since code isn’t that hard really, I’m trying to learn some of the math that goes into it. All things I coulda shoulda picked up in college.
Started: The Places in Between by Rory Stewart–audiobook, read by the author.
2. Three Chinese words
- 记得 – jìde – to remember
- 抄 – chāo – to make a copy
- 不管 – bùguǎn – no matter what, regardless of
Picked up while trying to follow 今晚80后脱口秀 (2016-07-28).
3. Agent-Based Modeling
The Santa Fe Institute’s online Introduction to Agent-Based Modeling course started. Not sure if I’m going to follow through on this one, but I’ve signed up for now.
“What hope can there be for mankind,” I thought, “when there are such men as Felix Hoenikker to give such playthings as ice-nine to such short-sighted children as almost all men and women are?”
And I remembered The Fourteenth Book of Bokonon, which I had read in its entirety the night before. The Fourteenth Book is entitled, “What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years?”
It doesn’t take long to read The Fourteenth Book. It consists of one word and a period.
This is it:
—Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle (1963)