Kat’s Tips for the Richmond Night Market (by the casino)

May 17th, 2014, 1:57 am PST by Kat

Recently many people have been asking about the Richmond Night Market (by the casino), so I thought I would put together a list of tips.

1. When planning what to wear to the Night Market, keep in mind that a) while there are a few tables,  you will likely have to eat while standing up without  a table, and b) there are a LOT of people walking around with food in a VERY crowded space. I have stained a few shirts by dribbling sauce on myself or getting splattered on by other people. So, darker clothing is better.

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I also always bring a hoodie or a sweater. By the time you’re done eating dinner, wander around the non-food booths (to digest dinner), then go back for dessert, it’s dark and starts to get cold.

2. Bring water. While there are places to buy drinks at the Night Market, most of them sell bubble tea or other sweet drinks. I didn’t notice water for sale (but I probably just missed it). Every summer we replace our “in case of earthquake water supply”, and use the old water throughout the Night Market season. (If you don’t have an “in case of earthquake water supply” stop reading this and go out and buy some now. I lived through an earthquake, and our emergency water was all we had to drink for 3-4 days. Seriously, go buy emergency water now!)

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3. Bring enough cash. All of the food and many of the non-food booths are cash only, and the ATM at the Night Market charges an insanely high fee.

4. Bring eating utensils. Ever wonder what to do with the extra disposable chop sticks that you get from take-out sushi? Bring them to the Night Market! Many places don’t give you proper utensils. They give you a bamboo skewer (two if you’re lucky, but it’s still impossible to use them like chop sticks).

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Try eating squid, a dumpling or a pretzel ball with one bamboo skewer – it’s do-able, but it’s not pretty and often leads to the stains that I mentioned above.

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5. Be prepared for crowds. Tonight (opening night) the line snaked all of the way around the Night Market parking lot and reached the casino parking lot. It was the longest I’ve ever seen it. The crowds are heaviest in the food area where you can be packed in like sardines. I do not recommend trying to push strollers or take dogs through the crowded food areas. Neither does well in the crowd. If you need to bring a stroller, (please, for the love of everyone’s ankles) park it in one of the eating areas and take turns going to get food. Alternatively, I would recommend going to the Night Market by Home Depot/IKEA instead. Their aisles are a lot wider, and there are fewer people.

6. If you plan to go multiple times throughout the season and/or if you have a large group (5 or more people), buy a Zoom Pass. Admission is regularly $2.25 for adults. The zoom passes are $10 for 7 entrances or $20 for 15 entrances. You can use the pass for multiple people at the same time or for multiple visits, and there is a separate Zoom Pass entrance to the right of the ticket booths where there is never a line. The best part is that you generally don’t even have to wait in line to buy a Zoom Pass. There are usually Night Market personnel walking around the ticket booth area (they wear Night Market shirts) who sell the Zoom Passes and direct you to the Zoom Pass entrance.

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7. Parking at this Night Market is free, but getting into the parking lot can take a while. We often take the skytrain to Bridgeport and walk in (~5 minutes).

8. Go with an empty stomach and enjoy filling it up!

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I’m back!

July 12th, 2013, 11:12 am PST by Greg

It is with great pleasure I announce my permanent return to Vancouver. I haven’t seen many of you for some time, and I wish to remedy the situation.

This is a general distribution invitation: if you would like to spend some time hearing about China and telling me what I missed while there, I am interested in that.

Acceptable venues include any local bar, pub, tavern, alehouse, watering hole, or saloon. (Sitting on a patio and having a drink is not a Chinese thing, and has been sorely missed.) Restaurants, coffee shops, my place, or your place would also be acceptable. I won’t be teaching until September, so am fairly free for the next little while.

Phone, email, or message in any other fashion if you’re interested.

T-Shirts in China

May 31st, 2013, 4:22 am PST by Greg

Poor English translations are nothing new to me, even as a Vancouverite. They kind of just roll off me without notice by now. “Fish is to eating”… I think “I guess they serve fish,” but nothing else.

But as a service my friends Kym and Mark at Herrohachi, I decided to watch for T-shirts with odd English. When I saw one, I jotted it down in my phone.

What follows is a two-week supply. Spelling and punctuation is as close as I could get it. I have made no real attempt to preserve design, formatting, or even line breaks. The slash indicates a line break where I recorded it.

Nonsense

These just don’t make sense…

Unusual

These are perfectly reasonable English, but not-quite-right on a T-shirt

  • I only sleep with the best
  • Bed and breakfast
  • I’m a real sketch fan! [below line-art sketches of random plants]
  • Nice tag line
  • FART (in 6 inch glittery letters)
  • Hurry up
  • It’s your turn / I like rugby it’s so fun [on a girl that I could have picked up and thrown with one hand]

Things that happen in China

May 13th, 2013, 7:53 am PST by Greg

On Mondays, I teach from 8:00–9:30 and 18:30–20:00. That makes for a weird day. After lecture, I decided to go to the western restaurant around the corner. I had calories left for a light dinner and a gin and tonic. The following was written as I was sitting there…

Things I can see from here: two groups of young hip Chinese having foreign food, and a group of mixed western guys.

I think that group is two French, one American, and one other (who isn’t talking so I can’t tell). They’re speaking mostly English. One of them just said “it’s like licking your own balls, man.” Sadly, I didn’t hear the setup: it was one of those moment where the brain takes so long to process what just happened, that it’s no longer possible to react appropriately.

They’re watching videos of guys falling off skateboards.

One of the tiny Chinese girls has a comically large mug of beer. It’s actually a regular pint, but it looks comical when she holds it. She has been nursing it for an hour, but I appreciate the effort.

Somehow, all of this makes me very happy. That might be the gin.

The coffee shop

April 18th, 2013, 12:24 am PST by Greg

Just came to a nearby coffee shop to do some work. I hadn’t noticed this one until recently: it actually has a food menu, which should be explored.

I ordered a hot chocolate. A few minutes later, I got a probably-Carnation hot chocolate. A little weak, but whatever.

When I was half done, the guy comes over with a new drink, says “too sweet” and took my old one away.

I am now drinking brown hot water. Because China.

People ask what I miss from home. I miss having some idea of what is happening around me… ever.

Learning Chinese

December 2nd, 2012, 1:07 am PST by Greg

I have now finished six credits (two regular courses) worth of Mandarin. I’m pretty pleased with how things went.

The word “fluent” certainly doesn’t come to mind as a description of my mandarin. Definitely “not totally ignorant” would be fair. I don’t see any way I was going to learn any more of the language in four months, so I’ll take that as a win.

Pleco was a big part of me learning as much as I did. If you’re learning Chinese, you need it. I know it seems like a lot to pay for an app, but screw that, it’s worth it.

At the end of the course, I have 336 flashcards (≈ vocabulary words) in Pleco, with 361 unique characters. I’d guess I can write most of those: maybe 275–300. Basically, that’s enough to occasionally see a Chinese student’s facebook status and figure out more-or-less what’s happening.

My spoken is somewhere between difficult and impossible for a native speaker to understand. It’s better if I’m concentrating on what I’m doing.

Let’s not talk about my listening comprehension. The best way I can describe it: I have enough brain cells to either hear the sounds or process what the sounds mean. I never seem to be able to do both at anything like a reasonable speaking pace.

My top three most annoying things about Chinese:

  1. It’s not written phonetically. I thought this would be my biggest problem going into the course. It definitely makes learning vocabulary harder since there are kind of two things to learn for each new word. But somehow it wasn’t a huge irritant as the semester went on.

    I know there are little phonetic hints here and there: I know 吧、把 and 爸 and they sound similar, so I could take a pretty good guess at 巴. Still, there isn’t much of that for a beginner, so I’m not counting it. Also, if I guessed how to pronounce 色 the same way, I’d be very wrong.

  2. No capital letters. I have a surname that happens to also be an English word and that has never been a problem. I have never known anyone to read “Baker” and think about a pastry chef, because that’s written “baker”.

    On the other hand, if I come across the sentence “我觉得笑茵很好”, I have to stop and think “I know everything but 笑茵… what is that? Is it a word I should know? Is it a verb/noun/adverb here? Can I guess what it means from the context? The characters contain the bamboo and grass radicals: maybe it’s something about plants?” Basically, I’m screwed out of understanding that sentence.

    If there was some hint that 笑茵 is a girl’s name, then I’d be totally fine: the speaker thinks some girl with that name is pretty. There is no such hint.

  3. No spaces between words. Goddamnit anyway, this is no way to run a language.

    Here’s an example to illustrate: “学” (to study) and “生” (to be born/give birth). Thus with no other information, I’d see “学生” and think “studying birth… they must be talking about obstetrics.”

    But no, “学生” is one word: student. How do I know that? Because I know it: nothing about the way it’s written gives me any hint if it’s one word or two. How do you say “to study birth?” Damned if I know. Maybe “学习生” would do the job, but likely some other term. I’m sure there are other examples where the ambiguity is worse and/or harder to clean up.

    That’s probably the computer scientist in my worrying about an ambiguous grammar in that sense. It’s probably my biggest “you guys need to fix your language” thing, though.

Surprisingly not making the list: the tones. Sure, we don’t have anything like them in English, but we don’t have that consonant sound from 词 (cí) either and nobody bitches about that. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I can reliably hear the tones, but that always seemed pretty far down the list of problems.

I have a solid list of things I like about the language too, but that’s going to have to wait for another post.

I’m taking it back.

August 9th, 2012, 11:59 pm PST by Greg

After almost a year’s absence, I have decided it’s time to bring the blogging back.

It seems that life may be getting more interesting, so there may be more to say.

Elections, ugh

May 2nd, 2011, 11:17 pm PST by Greg

So here I am in a hotel room in San Francisco, concerned primarily with an election in the homeland. We seem to be looking at a conservative majority and NDP opposition. Here’s my thoughts on how we got here…

I feel like the republicans in the states are mostly to blame for the NDP gains: there has been a lot off talk there about how health care and generally governments doing… things… is evil socialism. I think a lot of Canadians looked at that and said to themselves “that seems okay…we need us some socialism.”

As for the conservative gains? Here’s my glass-half-full take on that: three reason Harper is so popular is that he has been in a minority government and hasn’t actually been able too *do* anything. Given a few years of Harper being Harper, I don’t think the poll numbers will be quite the same.

As for the liberals… well… you picked Igatieff all by yourself.

Loudness… I mean LOUDNESS!

January 27th, 2011, 11:15 pm PST by Greg

Okay, seriously… am I the only one with ears? I’m hardly an audiophile, but I’m increasingly finding new music unlistenable purely as a result of the loudness war. If you don’t know what that is, this YouTube video has an excellent description of loudness wars.

I have songs that I don’t like listening to because I know there’s a better song in there somewhere: I just can’t hear it because all the interesting stuff has been clipped.

Most recently, I found myself thinking that the Alicia Keys vocal Empire State of Mind is totally muddied. It would probably sound awesome if the vocal wasn’t squished in with everything else, but everything is too loud to let that happen. [You can certainly find it on your favourite file sharing service—don’t pay for it, it’s not worth it.] Most annoyingly, the video on youtube actually has better audio (to my ear at least) than the album version.

Screw it. I’m just going to listen to Gordon over and over forever. I ripped it myself from a CD I bought sometime in the middle 90s and it sounds awesome.

Open House 2010

December 20th, 2010, 10:33 pm PST by Greg

Following our long-standing tradition (of three years now), we just had our annual holiday open house. It’s a great excuse to see a bunch of people, many of whom we’d be too busy to see over the holidays otherwise. We had 48 people (by Kat’s count) this year, which is a solid turnout. I have posted what pictures I have (which are mostly of food).

We have stuck pretty closely to the formula that seems to work: tell people to come whenever and make sure there’s a lot of food. You’ll notice a lot of similarities between this list and our list of food from 2008.

The Food

Here is the food we had, with recipe/supplier links where I have them to post. Several of the links are to Cooks Illustrated, which requires a subscription. I vote that you pony-up and buy the subscription: I’ve rarely made anything from them that wasn’t awesome.

Commentary: The meatballs were a huge hit, so I have posted the recipe in a separate blog entry. I have rarely, if ever, made a better pie than those blueberry pies: I think I’m finally getting the touch for it.

People drank a lot more pop and a lot less beer/wine this year. I have heard the same from another person who had a holiday party. Maybe it’s the new drunk driving laws? Worth keeping in mind if you’re entertaining in BC this season.

The Time Lapse

As before, I set up a camera on a tripod to take a picture every 30 seconds. These (2000) pictures can then be stitched together into a time lapse video, which tells the story of our day pretty completely, at 1:270 speed. (direct link to the movie if you’re having plugin problems)

The Next Day

On Sunday, it was Kat’s grandmother’s birthday. It has become tradition that the grandchildren cook for that event.

So, after cooking Friday for most of the day and all you see in the time lapse, we got up the next morning to drive to Surrey and make indoor pulled pork (with Lexington-style vinegar sauce, and chopped not pulled as they do in the Carolinas). And we fed another 24 people with that.

Needless to say, we were both pretty bagged by the end of our weekend.

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