We love frangipani (雞蛋花).

We have just removed a small patch of lawn in the front garden to make way for a paver structure with a frangipani tree in the middle.

Below are two common types of frangipani flower.


Jackson Browne Solo Acoustic Vol.1

Go to Jackson Browne and listen to samples of songs from this album. You can also view an exclusive video of Lives in the Balance from the album (animated editorial by Andrew Thomas).


The Pretender

I'm going to rent myself a house
In the shade of the freeway
I'm going to pack my lunch in the morning
And go to work each day
And when the evening rolls around
I'll go on home and lay my body down
And when the morning light comes streaming in
I'll get up and do it again
Say it again

I want to know what became of the changes
We waited for love to bring
Were they only the fitful dreams
Of some greater awakening
I've been aware of the time going by
They say in the end it's the wink of an eye
And when the morning light comes streaming in
You'll get up and do it again

Caught between the longing for love
And the struggle for the legal tender
Where the sirens sing and the church bells ring
And the junk man pounds his fender
Where the veterans dream of the fight
Fast asleep at the traffic light
And the children solemnly wait
For the ice cream vendor
Out into the cool of the evening
Strolls the Pretender
He knows that all his hopes and dreams
Begin and end there

Ah the laughter of the lovers
As they run through the night
Leaving nothing for the others
But to choose off and fight
And tear at the world with all their might
While the ships bearing their dreams
Sail out of sight

I'm going to find myself a girl
Who can show me what laughter means
And we'll fill in the missing colors
In each other's paint-by-number dreams
And then we'll put our dark glasses on
And we'll make love until our strength is gone
And when the morning light comes streaming in
We'll get up and do it again
Get it up again

I'm going to be a happy idiot
And struggle for the legal tender
Where the ads take aim and lay their claim
To the heart and the soul of the spender
And believe in whatever may lie
In those things that money can buy
Though true love could have been a contender
Are you there?
Say a prayer for the Pretender
Who started out so young and strong
Only to surrender













劉心武 《劉心武揭秘紅樓夢2》



Solve the "unsolvable" Sudoku

Michael Mepham may have said goodbye to Sudokus which require "Ariadne's thread" (aka trial-and-error or forking or bifurcation) to solve, but some expert sites persist with these "unsolvable" Sudokus, in the hope that someone uncovers a hitherto unknown logical method to solve them. Could that someone be you?


Smile, you are entertaining the audience!

Just read an interesting article on whether orchestral musicians should put on a happy face. There have been reports of audience dissatisfaction with unsmiling musicians in Bournemouth SO, and Birmingham SO as well.

We know that the age of marketing and customer relations management have reached the classical music scene when the marketing guy for Bournemouth says that "a perennial problem is that the orchestra members don't seem to enjoy themselves. It tends to be the ones that don't who people notice. The violins and the cellos, who are at the front, often get noticed." The director of communications for Birmingham adds that one woman complained that her enjoyment of a concert had been wrecked because 'she caught one of the musician's eyes and gave him the thumbs up, but he lowered his gaze. It destroyed the evening for her.'





How wikis are changing our view of the world

A CNET special report: How wikis are changing our view of the world

Not sure what a wiki is? Have not heard of Wikinews or used Wikipedia before? Then there is even more reason why you should begin to know about this hot web phenomenon.














See-through lens! Yes, see-through lens!

My teenage fantasy has come true! Kaya Special Optics has introduced the Infrared See-Through Filter PF which, when used with a CCD equipment like a digital camera or camcorder, "helps to visually penetrate an object's surface in order to view whatever lies below".

And yes, it can be used for THAT purpose. To show you how powerful this optical technology can be, Kaya has produced a few demonstrations. Below is one:

See, the eyes behind the sunglasses are clearly visible ...




1. 每天早上,步行一大圈,約一小時,下雨休息
2. 步行後到健身房運動,約二十分鐘
3. 一週游泳三次左右
4. 一週一堂初級哥爾夫球課,一小時,有時週中加練一小時

Free streaming of the entire "Running on Empty" album by Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne is one of my favorite singer-song writers. There was a time, especially during my university years, when I couldn't survive without a daily dose of JB songs.

May be "Running on Empty" is not typical Jackson Browne. May be it is not Jackson Browne at his best. But it is definitely the most accessible and most popular Jackson Browne album:

Free streaming of the entire album from mp3.com


Below are my previous attempts to set a Jackson Browne lyric to a photo. As you can see, and which should come as no surprise to JB fans, both photos are rather gloomy.

Note: neither "Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate" nor "My Opening Farewell" is from the "Running on Empty" album.


Buying books by the bag (continued 2)

Couldn't resist the temptation to treasure hunt again this morning. Brought home quite literally two "mixed bag"s of titles.


Buying books by the bag (continued)

As it turned out, Australian Book Centre is a distributor of remainders.

When I arrived there at five past nine (ie 5 minutes after opening time), a few dozen bargain hunters were already there in action.

I used a big carton box to store the books I intended to buy, and then paid for "$10 bag"s to put them in.

In total, I bought 23 books costing A$30 (ie they were stuffed into 3 bags). It was like a treasure hunting exercise and was quite fun.

Here's the list of books:

Martin Amis, Other People
Tom Bridge, Essential Cookery Pasta
A. S. Byatt, Little Black Book of Stories
Serge Dansereau, Food & Friends - A chef's Gastronomic journey through France & Italy
Rodney Dunn, Roasting - Technique for the perfect roast
Jonathan Franzen, The Twenty-Seventh City
Gao Xingjian, Return to Painting
John Grisham, The Pelican Brief
Peter Hoeg, The Woman & the Ape
Randal Keynes, Darwin, His Daughter & Human Evolution
Alice Munro, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage
Joyce Carol Oates, I'll Take You There
Sara Oldfield, Deserts - The living drylands
Joan Peyser, To Boulez and Beyond - Music in Europe since the Rite of Spring
Jonathan Spence, The Chan's Great Continent - China in Western minds
Mitchell Symons, This Book
Christopher Tadgell, Imperial Space - A history of architecture
Rosie Thomas, Sun at Midnight
Sandro Veronesi, The Force of the Past
Rebecca Wells, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Elizabeth Wilhide, The French Room - Simple French style for your home
Fresh & Tasty Biscuits and Cakes
World Atlas


Buying books by the bag

The beauty of junk mails is that one in a thousand could be of interest to the recipient. And I have just received one this afternoon!

The Australian Book Centre is having a "warehouse clearance" this weekend. In a designated "$10 bag" area, customers can fill a bag (measuring 30x40cm) of books for A$10.

I have never heard of this company/shop, and have no idea whether it primarily sells remainders or second-hands (the former, I suspect). Judging by its address, it is located in an industrial area, so it could really be a warehouse of books.

I am hooked. Stay tuned to read my account of the experience of buying books by the bag this weekend.


The ethical economist

Joseph Stiglitz reviews Benjamin Friedman's "The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth" (Foreign Affairs, 11-12/05)

Can economic growth improves the environment, reduces poverty, promotes democracy, and makes for a more open and tolerant society?

Are there policies that promote "moral growth" -- growth that is sustainable, that increases living standards not just today but for future generations as well, and that leads to a more tolerant, open society?

Should we rely on the invisible hand of the market, or are government interventions needed?


I don't know why, but Foreign Affairs didn't mention that Stiglitz was a Nobel Prize in Economics winner. According to the magazine:

Joseph E. Stiglitz, University Professor of Economics at Columbia University, has served as Chair of the President's Council of Economic Advisers and Chief Economist of the World Bank. His books include "The Roaring Nineties" and "Globalization and Its Discontents."