September 2009

September 28, 2009

Mario Communist Edition

Categories: Random cool stuff

This is a beautiful and creatively done reinterpretation of Mario. I love it.

Mario smashing a mushroom, stylized ala Communist propaganda

If you like this kind of thing, check out these great Mario wallpapers too.

Posted September 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Parade Preparations

Categories: China

This October 1st will be the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China ("liberation" as it's affectionately known as here in China.) To celebrate, the government is having an old-school parade down Chang An Avenue (the big road that runs between Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City), complete with floats, tanks, soldiers, missiles, and aircraft flyovers. Nothing beats seeing tanks cruising the streets of Beijing.

The media here has been showing a lot of photos of the massive preparations for the event. I thought they were pretty cool and worth sharing.

They want nice straight lines and tall soldiers like this. (Actually, I think these are the armed police, not the army, but whatever.)
A very neat row of Chinese soldiers marching.

So, they use string to make sure everyone is lined up at the right height. (I'm sure this guy will be in trouble for smiling, but it's a great photo.)
A row of soldiers faces with a string in front of them, just above their guns. One soldier is smiling. 

A few pins in the right places to make sure everyone stands up straight.
A closeup shot of the neck of one soldier, with sewing pins pushed up through his collar right up next to his neck, tips up.

They're marching so much, their battered boots are taking a beating.
Close-up a soldier's boot as he's marching. The sole is falling off.

The female soldiers get much cooler looking boots.
A line of female soldiers in blue jackets and skirts with white go-go boots.

For more pictures, check out these galleries here and here.

Posted September 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

September 27, 2009

My Next Car

How can you make a luxury SUV better? By adding a gun cabinet and "self-replenishing drinks cabinet", that's how. This is the Holland & Holland/Overfinch customized version of the Land Rover. If only it had a bacon oven, it would be perfect.

Holland & Holland Range Rover by Overfinch: Gun and booze hauling reaches its zenith

by Alex Nunez (RSS feed) on Sep 26th 2009 at 1:28PM

Holland & Holland Range Rover by Overfinch - Click above for high-res image gallery

This, friends, is how one rolls. Behold the Holland & Holland Range Rover by Overfinch, a joint effort between the gunmaker, Land Rover's bespokery and, well, Bacchus. One hundred tweed-wearing pheasant slayers will have the opportunity to drive this sybaritic super sled to the hunting grounds. Frankly, one wonders why anyone would ever bother leaving the SUV. This ultimate Range Rover is outfitted with a gorgeous, custom-integrated gun cabinet, a cavernous backseat console/fridge, and a liquor cabinet nicer than anything you'd find in Don Draper's office. Our favorite feature? Well, the liquor itself is "self-replenishing," meaning that for the first year of ownership, Holland & Holland Rangie owners will have the vehicle's booze supply refilled automatically. Think of it like bottled water home delivery, only with single-malt scotch, small-batch gin, and other fine adult refreshments.
Naturally, all the interior trim is customized to match the cabinetry, which, in turn, can be made to match the customer's Holland & Holland firearms. The paint colors offered are exclusive to this model, of course, and the exterior is dolled up with unique trim and wheels as well. Aspiring Limey ballers take note -- you can even swap the standard dubs with off-road rubber for a pavement-only 22" wheel/tire package as well. The whole thing is deliciously ostentatious and wonderful. Power comes from either the blown 503-horse gasoline V8 or the diesel TDV8. It should come as zero surprise that this sort of exclusivity carries a dear price, so bring money. The H&H Range Rover will set you back at least £120K. Not that that'll be a problem for the target audience. For more, check out the PR after the jump.

Read the whole article for more.

Thanks to Bryan for the pointer.

Posted September 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 23, 2009

Stunt Eating in Beijing

Categories: China Food and Drink

My good friend from Stanford fraternity days, Ari Lehavi, was in Beijing this week, so Michelle and I met with him for dinner and drinks. Since Ari had expressed some interest in more "interesting" food, we took him for a stroll around Wangfujing Street and the Donghuamen Night Market where there food stalls with everything you can imagine on a stick.

Ari in front of scorpions (live!) and seahorses on sticks. (They're grilled and covered in spicy powder before you eat them.)
Ari in front of scorpions (live!) and seahorses on sticks. (They're grilled and covered in spicy powder before you eat them.)

Ari chomping down on a scorpion. He considered these to be quite good.
Ari chomping down on a scorpion. He considered these to be quite good.

Ari finishing off his seahorse.
Ari finishing off his seahorse.

Ari holding a stick of grilled silkworms and a stick of cicadas (I think). The cicadas were OK. The silkworms were a little more earthy, according to Ari. (I skipped the big silkworms.)
Ari holding a stick of grilled silkworms and a stick of cicadas (I think). The cicadas were OK. The silkworms were a little more earthy, according to Ari. (I skipped the big silkworms.)

Mmm, love those silkworms...
Mmm, love those silkworms...

Ari about to tuck into a grilled starfish. To eat these you break off an arm, peel back the tough outer skin, and eat the meaty inside. It looks a bit like cooked finely ground beef but tastes seafoody. Not terrible.
 Ari about to tuck into a grilled starfish. To eat these you break off an arm, peel back the tough outer skin, and eat the meaty inside. It looks a bit like cooked finely ground beef but tastes seafoody. Not terrible.

Posted September 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

September 22, 2009

Chart of Happiness

Categories: Random junk

3d line chart with bacon colored lines, so it looks like bacon.

Thanks, Rick, for the image!

Posted September 22, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Some Funny Google Queries

Now that I'm working on search, I'm always trying queries in Bing and our competitors, and I hear a lot of funny results. Search is hard...

In Google, if you search for "search" you get Bing as the most relevant result. I love it! Even Google thinks Bing is the best choice when people are looking for "search"!



If you search for "french military victories" and click "I feel lucky", you get this:


This has to be a joke by the G guys. Pretty funny though.

[Updated 9/22/2009: OK, so if you look at the URL, for the bottom result, you'll see this is a joke page on a different domain. It's still pretty funny.]

Posted September 22, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 19, 2009

WWII Escape Kits Hidden in Monopoly Boards

Categories: Random cool stuff

Here is an interesting story of how the Allies hid maps, money, and escape tools in board games kits distributed to Allied POWs during WWII. An estimated 10000 POWs used the contents to escape Nazi camps.

Image of WWII Monopoly board with tools hidden.

Posted September 19, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 14, 2009

The House I Grew Up In

Categories: Random cool stuff

(Or should I say " which I grew up"?)

My brother, Ives (pronounced "eye-vus" not "eave" like you might think -- that's a story for another day), and his wife Aimee just moved back to Minnesota where we grew up. It's been great getting updates from Ives as he visits our old friends and haunts. This weekend he brought his lovely wife back to see our old house in Woodbury, a suburb just east of St. Paul.

We were the first owners of this house; I think the name of this particular design was "Highlander IV" (not sure why I remember that). We moved in in 1974, just in time for me start first grade at Royal Oaks Elementary, just a five minute walk away. At the time, we were in the new part of the Royal Oaks neighborhood with empty lots all around us. There was a lot on the corner next to us; on the other side of that lot was a very nice African-American family. I'm pretty sure that lot was one of the only ones in Minnesota in 1974 that sat between a Chinese family and an African-American family. It sat empty for a while until another nice family moved in.

We lived in this house until my sophomore year of college (just after my brother graduated from high school.) It was a really great place to grow up (in fact Woodbury's motto was "Woodbury -- A nice place to live"). There were lots of kids in the neighborhood; we played a lot in the big wooded park across the street, in the snow that drifted into huge piles (my kids are very jealous), and in the empty lots and houses under construction. Many of us stayed together from elementary school through high school; it's been great finding many of them again on Facebook.

Anyway, on to the photos.

All in the all, the house looks good after so much time; Ives tells me the neighborhood has aged well. Still, it's definitely changed since we lived there. I can't believe how huge that tree in the middle of the photo is; of course, we planted it 35 years ago. The garage door, front door, and shutters were all bright Chinese red when we lived there. We had brass lion heads on the doors too. Not sure what our neighbors thought about that, but I liked them.
Front view photo of my old house with good sized tree in the front. The house is white with a two story center, a one story left side (where the living room was), and a garage to the right.

We used to have an asphalt, two car driveway. I guess someone replaced it with a wider, concrete one. Good thing. It was a real PITA to re-surface the driveway every year. We also used to have a basketball net on the roof over the garage. Not sure why I'm not a better basketball player. The house seemed big at the time, but looking at it now, it's small compared to houses today including our current house. If I remember what my mom said, I think this house was about 1500 square feet plus a big basement and the garage.
Another frontal view of the house, moved to the right of the previous shot. This one shows the driveway and garage more clearly.

I can't believe no one extended the tiny patio. I always wanted a big deck. We never had any furniture on the patio. I think the only thing we ever put on it was a pup tent because my dad didn't want us to kill the grass; obviously, it wasn't very comfortable in that tent...

There was a huge birch woodpile against the house where that garden is in the photo. We bought that pile soon after we moved in and never used all the wood by the time we moved out fourteen years later. My mom used to hang ducks to air dry where the current owners have that wind chime. (This is how you get crispy duck skin in roast duck.) I think the ducks were better than that wind chime. We didn't have gutters; as a result, we had awesome sheets of icicles hanging from the eaves in the wintertime.
Rear view of the house 

That tree used to be the middle of our kickball/baseball diamond, about where the pitchers mound would be. It looks big enough now to put a treehouse in (which I really, really wanted) but of course it wasn't even big enough to climb when we lived there. There used to be willow trees at first and third, but they're gone now. (For completeness, home was by the patio and second was by the garden). Our lot was about a quarter acre -- pretty big for our neighborhood. On top of that, my parents both worked all day and weren't home; as a result, our yard wound up being the place a lot of our friends played. This yard was the scene of a lot of soccer, football, hotbox, nighttime gun battles, and epic water fights.

We had a huge garden in the far right of this photo. We grew a ton of veggies all summer long; my dad acted like we would starve if not for the produce from the garden. His favorite gardening activity, though, was walking through the supermarket pointing out how expensive all the veggies were and exclaiming how lucky we were to have it all for free. I will admit the veggies were good, although a person can only eat so much zucchini.
Photo of the back yard. It's flat with biggish trees.

I have a lot of great memories from this house, which are all rushing back now that I'm seeing these photos (as evidenced by this stream-of-consciousness post). I'm lucky to have had a really great childhood. I'm glad my brother took these shots (thanks, Ives!)

For more than you ever wanted to know about Woodbury (and way more than I ever knew), check out the Wikipedia article. I can't believe the population is over 54,000 people; it was about 15,000 when we lived there.

Posted September 14, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

September 13, 2009

Fighters Over Beijing

Categories: China Kids

Yesterday, we were hanging out in the lovely Beihai Park (near the Forbidden City) when we saw a line of military aircraft making a pass along Chang An Avenue (this is the big road that passes between the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square - famous for a particular photo of a gentleman standing with some tanks). They were rehearsing for the upcoming celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the People's Republic of China where there will be a big military parade replete with tanks, missiles, high-stepping troops, and (apparently) military aircraft).

After we saw the fighters, helicopters, bombers, and an airborne warning plane go over, Andrew (12) asked, "Are those American fighters?" I replied, "No, if those were American fighters over Beijing, we'd be in big trouble."

(Separately, it was interesting that the planes flew over in a well-spaced single file line. I think American forces would have come by in tight formation. Just a difference in style or some concern over their ability to fly close together over government officials and population?)

Posted September 13, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 6, 2009

Bacony Links

Yesterday, September 5, was International Bacon Day. To celebrate this holy occasion, here are some fun, amazing, cool links to bacony resources that my friends have sent me over the years.

Thanks to Craig, John, David, Kymberlee, Max, Jack, Kellie, Sandi, and Sylvain! I love my awesome friends!

Enjoy your bacon!

Posted September 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 5, 2009

September 1, 2009

Meaningful Bing Homepage Images

One of the most unique and enjoyable features in Bing is the custom homepage image we have each day. The photos are usually beautiful and have hotspots that link to interesting web info. (You can check out some of the previous images on the Bing Image Archive.)

Recently, my team in Beijing and Tokyo started doing images and hotspots specific to the Chinese and Japanese markets. I'm especially proud of image we posted today. The school in this photo is in Sichuan province (home of spicy food); it was destroyed in the horrible earthquake last year and rebuilt with the help of MSN China's Rainbow Action effort. Over the next few days we'll use the Bing home page and a series of new photos to drive more attention the survivors of the Sichuan earthquake and encourage people to help them recover. (On a technical note, this is the first time we've commissioned a photo for the Bing homepage; we normally use stock photos.)

Anyway, I encourage you to check it out at and to donate to this effort on the Rainbow Action site (available in English and donations can be made through PayPal.) I'm often proud of the work we do technically, but it makes me even more happy when I can be proud of what Microsoft does for the community.

[Update: 2009-09-01 Apparently the MSN/PayPal collections for this phase are closed for now. It's still worth donating via other means.]

[Update: 2009-09-06 Shrunk the image down to fit on more screens.]

Screenshot of homepage on 9/1/2009. Child blowing bubbles in front of new school in Sichuan.

Posted September 1, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Interesting Fact About Chinese Drivers Licenses

Categories: China

Unlike US drivers licenses, Chinese drivers licenses don't list the holder's hair or eye color. This makes total sense since most Chinese (at least the majority Han Chinese) have black hair and dark brown eyes, but it still surprised me.

Posted September 1, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)