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Showing posts from July, 2008

How do you respond to strange food?

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Strange food some times may be mixed up with weird food, but to me they are totally different things. We may first discuss the difference between strange and weird, one of those many anwsers I could find is: weird is something you think about for awhile, and is more eye catching, but strange is just something you notice for a second, then may stop paying attention to. This is not a linguistic explanation, but do the job. You meet a strange person first time, then you may forget him or get on with. Strange things are those you are not familiar with, but you may know a weird person for a long time, weird things are those which emerge from inside a community, but strange things may come from outside, even from a remote country.

Strange food to you may be some oriental food, such as Japanese eat raw fish, bee larvae as well bees, those are not strange food to Japanese at all; But weird food is abnormal food. For instance, we like to eat boiled rice with milk and sugar, most people may like…

Waxberry or yumberry

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It's quite strange that Yangmei has a name "waxberry", according to wikipedia, "[1]the name waxberry may refer to the waxy fruit of plants which produce berries that can be used as a source of wax. " It's totally wrong!


Another Wikipedia article "Myrica rubra"[2] with a right picture. I think "myrica rubra" is the right name for yangmei, but might be a scientific Latin name, too difficult for common English speaking people, you might have no idea at all what the hell is a "myrica rubra", but when you see the word "waxberry", at least you can guess that this is a kind of fruit which might look like berry, similar as strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, etc. In terms of "wax", you can guess this kind of berry "might be used as a source of wax"! Although this is not right.


Even names such as "Chinese bayberry", "Chinese strawberry tree" are better than waxberry. And another newly-inven…

Can we use a shopping cart as baby cot?

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A shopping cart is called "trolley" in British English, many other names in English speaking world.

Supermarket trolleys are nested within each other in a line to facilitate moving many at one time, and to save on storage space. They normally inter-locked together, and need one pound coin to unlock. When you finish shopping, return the trolley to the trolley park, and get back your coin. One day I found that we actually can use a twenty pence coin, or an Euro coin, that's much "cheaper".

In one lucky day, I found a standalone trolley, a pound coin was still in the lock hole. So I took this trolley to do shopping, then returned the trolley and pocketed the lucky money.

In one TESCO store, all trolleys are fixed with wheel-lock, they can't be taken out beyond the car park perimeter. One day, when my trolley reached a red line, I could hear a "click", then the trolley stuck on the ground, I was quite surprised, and stooped down to check the wheel, then …

We got Water Meter Installed

We use Severn Trent Water, It's reported that Severn Trent Water were fined £2 million for lying on water leaks, The water company reported an estimated yearly water loss of 340 million litres per day to meet targets, while the true figure was around 514 million litres (Is that a big number and a serious problem?). The reason they lied on water loss were to stave off having to carry out millions of pounds-worth of repairs until they could be covered by future water bills, and to avoid bad publicity.

All homes in UK built since 1989 are fitted with water meters. But our house is older than that, it's more than fifty year old. It's an ex-council house, all houses in this estate were council house, most of them are still own by city council. they get conservatory fitted for free, or get wall and loft insulation for free, they can buy council house for a fraction of market price. Why UK government are so kind to their people?

We asked our friend Peggy who has got a water meter i…

Is English your Anguish?

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Somebody says, you live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once.

If this allegation is true, I have 4 lives. Because I have my own dialects, then I learned to speak and write in Mandarin, and I stayed in Shanghai for more than 6 year, and married a Shanghai girl, so I can speak Shanghai dialect, now I have to speak and write in English in a foreign country. So I have 4 lives.

But I am good at none of these languages, I'd rather have one perfect life, not 4 miserable lives. But now, I even feel anguish at English whenever I speak. I couldn't be able to connect my inner world to words, and words in to sentences. Words seem to be suppressed cries of a wandering soul, which are clutching desperately at my heart. Without emotional vocabulary, everything seems become allusion and confusion, and I started to fear of things I needn’t be afraid of.

I have never had confident with my English, what you see is actually not the real me,…

Durum wheat pasta and pasta soup

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In China, we call spaghetti Italian noodles, any shaped pasta Italian "hollow vermicelli" or "hollow cellophane noodles". I could remember when I tried to cook fusilli pasta for the first time in Shanghai, I emptied half bag of pasta into the boiling water, approximately 250 grams, enough for two person. The pasta expanded to double its original size, as swollen and swirling as earthworm. I didn't know how to make it tasty, no idea of adding any sauce.

I hate Sainsbury's basic Pasta, but my wife likes to buy, because it's cheapest. The slogan on the bag is "shapes, still durum wheat". According to Wikipedia, "durum" in Latin means "hard", and "durum wheat is the hardest of all wheat".


Actually, I am not quite surprised by what I have found, because I always boil it in more than half an hour, it still as hard as rubber. I have to chew and chew till my chin joints and gum became very sore. But I am surprised by the co…

Work permit, visa, and PR

Mr. Ren and his wife came to visit. Mr. Ren found a new job in London. He sold his house for same price as he bought, but he spent 2,000 in refurbishing, plus fees, interests, and inflation, actually he lose a lot.

He gave us a lawnmower, and a baby bath. I borrowed a grass trimmer from our neighbour, quite noisy, and inefficiency. A lawnmower is what I needed.

Every time they meet, their topics seem never move away from work permit, and visa, and PR (Permanent Resident). When I pointed out this for them, they argued that "identity issues" is always the biggest that keep bothering immigrants.

Charitable Landscape gardening

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Three gardeners came to work on my neighbour's garden. They cut grasses, clear out dead leaves and wild flowers, and dig up the edges around back and front gardens.

When I picked up my daughter from school, my daughter greeted them when she passed by, she always feel very proud when she say hello to strangers, and disappointed when not be answered. So greeted them and had a chat.

The man told me that they were working for Betel of Britain Charity, a free Christian residence.

I was bit surprised, and asked: "Do you work for free"? Because my neighbour is an Indian, from Tamil, the family definitely is not Christian.

The man answered:"Not for free, all income goes to the charity."

"Right," I said, "So, you are volunteer for Betel?"

He said there are many residence sites has been opened, even one opened recently in Mongolia. I asked if there was any in China. He said, I don't know but I hope so.

He give me a leaflet, the slogan on the leaflet say…