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Showing posts from January, 2009

Is Aladdin a Chinese?

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Aladdin is an Arabic name, but he lived in China.  Is he a Chinese?
Aladdin's wonderful Lamp was included in the first European version of the Book of the Thousand and One Nights (1704-1717), but not in the original Arabic manuscript.
So it's a problem who originally invented the story,  Arabic or European? In a 19th Century Pantomime, Aladdin's hometown is Beijing or Peking, spelled "Pekin" in the report,  now capital city of China.
 Derby local newspaper Mercury reported the pantomime in December, 1878. The reporter said "the representation of the city of Pekin, illuminated for a fete, is really very good indeed".  Above all, Pekin, Beijing or no, it would be found to be delightfully local in parts, with the opportunity never missed of getting  at the Derby City Council, as in on Scene:
BADROULBADOUR - And you will live here, dear Aladdin? ALADDIN -  Yes, And livery servants in most gorgeous dresses shall wait upon you - you shall hear the lark Sing from you…

A Derby cyclist's four seasons

These paragraphs are excerpted from a cyclist's diary who lived in Derby in the end of 19th Century not long after the bicycle had just been invented, the poetic seasonal message, which, after Shakespearean flights, required a come-down of pure bathos:

It will be some time before the leaves of the forest trees begin to unroll, but the hedgerows are already green, and the floral procession has begun. The scented violet and the pallid primrose have made their appearance, and the wayside bank is an index of coming beauty. Spotted and shiny arums, deeply indented wild parsley, purple-veined dock, soft-grey foxgloves, leaves of ground ivies, of celandine, wood-violets, dandelion, jack-by-the-hedge, herb-robert all foretell the return of the wild flowers to their accustomed quarters. Springtime has come, and now is the time for cyclists to put a girdle round as much of the earth as they possibly can.

By May the call to the narrow saddle had obviously been heard abundantly:

A more perfect…

Lucky Bamboo and Lime for Chinese New Year

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26, Jan, 2009. Today is Chinese New Year, the year of OX.


Aside from the couplets and red cloths, beautifully carved OX statue, plants are also one of the things to add some festive spirit to the Chinese New Year, you may parallel this auspicious plants as Christmas tree in western countries.




Chinese name for lime is "Kat Chai" in Cantonese or same sound as another auspicious word "ji" in many other Chinese dialects. Lucky bamboo has been loved by Chinese for its upright and empty heart, which is symbolized as humble and moderate, and since the words for "bamboo" and "prayer" sound alike in Chinese, it's for the best wishes of prosperity.


The words on the boat-like vase reads ‘Yi Fan Feng Shun’ which means ‘smooth sailing’.

Recitation of Presidential oath by President Barack Obama was misspoken

I watched Barack Obama Presidential Inauguration whole day yesterday, and because this was the first time ever I watched the inauguration, my spirits were kept high in spite of the delays and dull waiting.

One episode that did raise my eyebrow is the recitation of Presidential oath. Recitation of Presidential oath by President Barack Obama was misspoken by mistake. How can a humanly error happened in this solemn circumstance?

Constitution of US prescribed the text “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Chief Justice of USA Mr. John Robert asked Obama to recite the first line of the oath, but Obama started to recite before Mr. Robert had finished the first line, "I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear", so Obama repeated "I, Barack Hussein Obama, " after Mr. Robert finished.

Then Mr. Robert recited the second …

Feeding ducks in Markeaton Park

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(Feeding duck in River Derwent)
(feeding ducks in Markeaton Brook)
My daughter likes feeding ducks in river Derwent, since we moved home to Macworth, we take her to Markeaton Park. There are as many duck in Markeaton Brook as in river Derwent.
In Victorian time, Markeaton Brook was being used as a dump, upstream from the bridge at the bottom of Sadler Gate it was reported at a Council meeting that the Brook was a 'depository for filth and dead cats and dogs'.  But now it's very clean except for loads of duck drops on the pavement beside the pool.

Cash for pubs to offer toilet to non-customers

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Small government, big society, it seems always a good idea to delegate public obligation to private.

I watched House of Lords debate in BBC Parliament, one of Lords questions is about public lavatory scheme, in this scheme, government urge city council to offer cash to pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants to open their toilet, let non-customers use their facilities.

Some communities already adopted this scheme to resolve public lavatory shortage, well-known chains such as Pizza Express, KFC, MacDonald, local pubs and bars are offered up to £600 in exchange for opening their toilets.

When I just arrived in UK, I found odd phenomenons which include post office selling stationary or toys, while chemist selling nappies and formula milk. To buy a stamp you have to walk through rows of shelves inside to the deep bottom, where one or two cashiers sitting behind the counter, most probably they are Indians or Pakistans.
A good old society should be a mingled and tangled ecosystem to meet everyone's…

Achievements on my WoW 10 day trial account

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On Day 10, my main character a night elf warrior reaches level 16.

Herbalism 100
Besides picking flowers, the most useful skill in herbalism is Lifeblood which allows you absorb energy from the earth and healing for 300 health over 5 seconds. I used that quite often when attacked by several enemies and my health running low.

First aid 70

Weapon skills
- Swords 79
- Defense 77

Reputation
- Darnassus Honored 3240

2 pets
- a Great Horned Owl
- a Hawl Owl

Base stats
- Armor 1084
- Attack speed 2.3
- Damage 31-44
- Boots 104 armor
- Pants 132 armor
- Shield 367 armor
- Sword 14-26 damage
- Chest 151 armor
- Gloves 94 armor

Duels won 4, lost 6
I am never an agressive person, so is my character in WoW. I have never asked for a duel during the 10 days, and I still don't know how to request one. Among the 10 duels I accepted, I won 4 and lost 6. Not a very bad record, isn't it? consider that most person I fought against are on similar or higher levels than mine.

Alistair darling has black eyebrows white hair

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Have you ever noticed that British Chancellor Alistair Darling has very strong black eyebrows but snow silver white hair?
According this article, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said in public that Darling looks ridiculous with those black eyebrows and white hair. 


Political football: Now National Health Service, then Corn Laws

As Chinese, I always wonder why there are so many NHS (National Health service) news on TVs and newspapers. MRSA the superbug seems the focus of those debates, speechs, comments of party leaders and common people. In my view, hospital in UK is cleanest in the world, most important, it's free!
I am puzzled by this untill I read Victorian Derby, a portrait of life in a 19th-century manufacturing town, by Harry Butterton. On page 107, he said, "Just as the Health Service has been a mighty political football in recent years, so in the early 1840s were what were known as the Corn Laws." Wow, NHS is a "political football", no wonder why Conserative Party leader David Cameron so fiecely attacks the Labour party's failing NHS Policies, the superbug is as deadly a political weapon as fatal to health.
The Corn laws has been passed by Parliment when it was controlled by landowners and farmers. These rules kept the price of wheat artificially high by preventing cheaper c…

Macworth Castle

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I went for a walk to Ashbourne Road, and then turned to lower road, which is a sunken lane running through the old village in  tranquil Amber Valley. Then to my surprise, I spotted a castle! When I went a bit closer and looked more carefully, this castle is actually the remains of a facade and part of the outer side walls.
You may never dreamt of a castle there, the owner of this castle may have built as a folly, because this place is strategically so low, no advantages at all in terms of defensive power, no way to resist an invasion.
AS the place name Macworth suggested, the Macworth Castle was originally a medieval fortified manor house, founded by Mackworth family, but it's exact history is something of a mystery. 
There is other road names that have -worth suffix in this area , such as Isleworth.

Children in Victorian Derby

In the Victorian age, factory employment concentrated the populace in manufacturing towns and cities like Derby.  Factory working girls suffered from many deficiencies: short, poorly developed, sallow cheeks, bad teeth. They were of course the mothers. Breast-feeding had declined because of the demands of factory employment and many mothers were unable to produce milk. Babies might be given the cheapest food, such as sweetened condensed milk, breeder of rickets. The poorest relied on a mixture of flour and  water, milk-like only to look at. 
The milk-like mixture of flour and water reminds me of low quality milk powder found in Anhui Province, China., which caused  so many 'big head babies' who are severe swelling in its head and body. 
The death rate is high. From the August, 1989, the local newspaper Mercury published weekly statistics of infant mortality. If we take an average of 18 sets of figures given by the end of that year, we might conclude that there were 193 infant de…

School Bank

"School bank is a great success." so it is written in the school news letter. Children can join the Bank at any time, but the Bank is only open every Wendnesday from 8.30-8.55. Children can save as little as one pence.

School dinners

Parents are invited to Food Tasting Session because there are 'further improvements' to the school dinners, new approach to school dinners will include a new style servery area with a pasta/salad bar, jacket potato bar, sandwich bar and hot food bar.  'Children will use plates and pudding bowls rather than "airline trays" we currently use',  says the teacher.

Victorian Derby: Funny facts

Demonic pace
In November 1897 a motorist escaped with a warning from a charge of 'Furious Driving' at Borough Police Court. He denied the allegation of a police constable that he drove 'very fast - at least 12 miles an hour' up the crowded Duffield Road. A key part of his defence was that 'children were following all the way', therefore he could hardly have been guilty of such demonic pace!
Electric Candles
By 1879, the 'magician Edison' invented electric light in the States and in November that year a demonstration of the new phenomenon of electric light took place in Becket Street, directing the public's interest round the corner to the Drill Hall. Inside 'two electric candles placed on pyramidal pedestals' disappointed the local newspaper Mercury reporter compared with the light outside. There was 'every now and then, a sudden variation of colour, or of intensity, caused probably by some unsteadiness of the machinery used in producing th…

Church Bell and Fresh Fish

For whom the church bell tolls? Bells rung to announce fresh fish stagecoach from London arrived!
In December 1900 the Derby local newspaper Mercury carried a story that  possibly captures something of the clip-clopping magical sound-world of stagecoaching with the live backing of church belfries.
When the coach from London arrived 'in olden times' there was an arrangement for church bells to be rung so that people who had ordered a delivery of fish might rush to get it as fresh as possible.
It was said that the six bells of St Peter's would call out 'Here's fresh fish come to town!' Next came All Saints', further along that stretching main streetway in Derby, with a peal of 10 bells this time, 'Here's fresh fish come into the town!' Just beyond All Saints' stood little St Michael's, with three bells only, and one of those cracked, and the sense of its peal was 'They're stinkin!" But St Alkmund's with its six-pack a little …