Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Xidi and Hongcun

This Tuesday I visited Xidi and Hongcun, two famous ancient villages in southern Anhui, honored by UNESCO. Traditional houses in southern Anhui were fascinating that no windows were on walls at all, left only some skylights for ventilating. Usually there was one skylight on the roof in front of the hall and maybe some on the roof of bedrooms. This made the house wet and cold.

About 80 percent of the residents of Xidi are of the Hu family. It's recorded that one son of Li Ye (867 - 904, the 19th emperor of the Tang dynasty) was sheltered secretly. Later the emperor and most of the royal family was murdered by Zhu Wen except this son, brought up safely by a nanny whose husband was of the Hu family. His descendants took Hu as the family name rather than Li, and that's the origin of the village.

The villagers were rather friendly.
Hongcun was nearby. About 70 percent of the residents are of the Wang family. Hongcun was arranged in the shape of an ox, two trees (one pagoda tree and one ginkgo tree) as its horns, streams as intestines and lakes as the stomachs. It's because the village were burned down several times that they designed so many streams and lakes around houses. The two trees were also interesting that I thought it was something about yin-yang balance in Chinese culture.

The journey ended in Tuesday evening, at the Xin'an river.

I took a flight back to Beijing and got to the campus late at night. Though not tired, nothing had changed except more work was left. It's time to move on.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Jade Valley

After getting down of Mt. Huangshan, I visited nearby Feicun Valley, or Jade Valley, where the Oscar winning movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was casted. But there were little water in Autumn.

Jade valley was also known as Lovers' Valley, where couples showed up everywhere except me alone. I didn't finish the journey, for it's not a place should I travel all by myself.

Mt. Huangshan

Mt. Huangshan is famous for its fantastic pines, grotesque rocks, sea of clouds, hot springs and snow of winter. However, the weather was too good when I was there that there were few clouds, and no time to enjoy springs. Of course, it's not the right season to see snow. Maybe they could be left for next time.

The most famous pine tree on Mt. Huangshan should be the Welcoming Pine.

The Farewell Tree was also well-known. The former one died last year.

There were many beautiful pine trees. Their shapes were quite special and amazing, often growing in stocks.

The Lotus Peak was the highest peak, with a height of 6116 feet (1864 meters).

The Brightness Apex was only a little lower, with a height of 6102 feet (1860 meters). It's said to be a great place to see sunrise.

Thanks to these porters.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


It's only two hours drive on highway from Jiujiang to Jingdezhen, well known as the "Porcelain Capital". Though I didn't buy any, just watching was also enjoyable.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


After 12 hours train I arrived at Jiujiang of Jiangxi Province from Beijing on Friday morning. The city, quite and small, lay along the Yangtze River, adjacent Hubei and Anhui. It's centered around two lakes: Nanmen ("southern gate") Lake and Gantang ("birchleaf pear") Lake. Every morning and evening there were many citizens walking or running, as well as a beautiful fountain with colorful lights.

Here's a shot of the Yangtze River near the Anti-blood Square in memory of those heroes in the year 1998.

Mt. Lushan were considered to be a great place but it was not. Bad weather, bad mood, crowds, leaders' visit, too many villas and disappointing scenes made it uncomfortable at all. There's nothing impressive, I'm afraid I have to say that. Maybe next time I should come again to stay several days around Lake Poyang, the largest freshwater lake in China, only one hour drive from Jiujiang city. Here's shot of the Sandie ("three steps") Fall, the largest fall in Mt. Lushan, though in my opinion it's quite small.

I also visited the White Deer Grotto Academy at the foot of Mt. Lushan, revived by Zhu Xi, a great neo-Confucian. I thought this place was more like a symbol of his philosophy that dominated Chinese culture for several centuries.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Draft R6RS

Actually it's called R5.91RS: Revised5.91 Report on the Algorithmic Language Scheme. As far as I was concerned, some long desired features were addressed, such as library, Unicode, hash-table, etc. I do prefer a small language with extensible libraries, however, interoperability of different Scheme implementations remains a significant problem. Besides, I've seen a new I/O library but still no plan for networking and some other facilities, though they may not be the targets right now.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.

Abba Eban

If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.

George Bernard Shaw

The Mukden Incident of September 18, 1931.

Friday, September 15, 2006


The story began when blink registered his GRE test in Dalian rather than in Beijing. He'd take it this Wednesday there, accompanied by TuotuoXP and me. We departed from Beijing at 6 o'clock Tuesday afternoon by train, which was really a twelve-hour nightmare: crowd, stupid air condition, lights that never dimmed all night, rude and savage conductors that woke all passengers at least 4 times for tickets, and even did a baby pee on me!

It's a pity that blink had to hurry back on Wednesday evening. TuotuoXP and me stayed in Dalian for about 36 hours and took a plane back to Beijing on Thursday evening.

Dalian that said to be the "Hong Kong of the North" was far smaller than expected. Walking would be a nice way for tourists most of the time. Transportation in Dalian was convenient, especially trolley cars. Dalian was famous for its sea view and squares. However, the weather was too foggy in the two days that we could hardly see anything from the sea.

Dalian was also well-known for its marine shipping. Here's a sculpture on the campus of Dalian Maritime University, a university of a good reputation all over the world.

Dalian at night was beautiful, such as a scene at Xinghai Square, the most famous square of Dalian.

The dock was not open for visitors.

Lovely sea birds played on a rock near the Tiger Beach.

Beaches in Dalian seemed not well protected. Skyscrapers could easily destroy the outline of the city, as seen at the Tiger Beach.

In Dalian University of Technology, newbies were taking the military training course.

And another view of the tennis court on campus, like a dream.

External links by TuotuoXP: 1 2 3 4.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Clouds in Weiming Lake

Yesterday afternoon I fell asleep with bending over on the bench of MSRA, which made my hands and legs tingled. So I decided to go to the campus of Peking University for a walk. I always like to be alone around Weiming Lake to try to relax these years.

The Boya Tower.

Clouds and the mirrors.

A tadpole?

The sun went down and it's time to get back home.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sunset at Summer Palace

The day before yesterday (Friday), TuotuoXP and I took a bus to the Summer Palace, near to our campus. As soon as we arrived at the lakeside, oh, so many photographers that it's easy to tell how perfect the weather was!

Kunming Lake was rather big, which made the view quite open and comfortable. A big block of could lay on the top of the west hills and the sun went down between them.

The sun disappeared, with lights spewing, which reminded me of Mordor:-)

TuotuoXP had taken far more beautiful photos.

After that his dad drove us home. With weidog, a really kind and professional guy, we took the metro to the Tian'anmen Square and Wangfujing, to enjoy an amazing night. We got back TuotuoXP's home at about 2 o'clock in the morning. I took his bed, and he slept in a sofa. Sorry, buddy:-)

Friday, September 08, 2006

IronPython 1.0

IronPython finally comes to its 1.0 release. Great! Thanks to Jim Hugunin, creator of Jython and IronPython, and his team. I do think there should be an alternative scripting language for .NET beside C# for prototype development, just like Groovy for Java. In fact VB ought to have taken this responsibility but it seems on an aberrant way.

I've tried to run some of my previous Python code under IronPython. A simple online monitor program for our BBS ran quite well, except the logging module failed to load due to the lack of implementation of sys._getframe (some workaround could be applied though not perfect). Another blog crawler using Python 2.5 features (mostly because of using elementtree for XPath) ran after a few minor modifications of the source code of IronPython (and of course, a recompilation). Actually, the source code is very clear and suitable for reading. I'm quite looking forward to the next release.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Flight of the Condor

I was chatting with riki today on traveling across America. What a dream! His parents would like to make it true next year after his graduation from Stanford. I suggested to start from San Francisco, pass Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver, Omaha, Chicago, and end at New York. Hoo, the route must go through the Grand Canyon, about which Nicholas Gunn has several famous New Age music albums. In The Music Of The Grand Canyon [1995] "Entering Twin Falls" is pretty good. In the sequel album Return to the Grand Canyon [1999] "Flight of the Condor" favors me most. They are both included in The Great Southwest [2001].

The most impressive highlight of the song "Flight of the Condor" is the alternation of Gunn's gentle flute and Karen Briggs's (the fabulous lady in red at Yanni's "Live at the Acropolis" concert) passionate violin, that makes feel like hovering over the Grand Canyon to enjoy an amazing birds eye view of the landscape while wind blows off. Besides, the gorgeous drumbeats are also as exciting as in most Gunn's songs. By the way, Gunn's new album Beyond Grand Canyon was put on sale this July, his fourth album on the Canyon. I'm wondering where I could find it now in Beijing.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fragrant Hills

After the call I headed back to our campus to meet TuotuoXP. Leaving at about 11 o'clock yesterday morning, we bicycled along the Qinghe River and the 5th Ring Road on the north of our campus. Riding on such a nice path was really comfortable, enjoying sunshine and breezes.

Fragrant Hills, or Xiangshan, is to the northeast of the Beijing city, most famous for its red smoke tree leaves in late autumn and snow scenery in winter. The trip from the campus was about 12 miles (20 kilometers). We didn't hurry and photoed wherever, so it took us about 2 hours to get there.

After having lunch, we started to climb. The Xianglu Peak was about 1400 feet (400 meters) in height. On the way along we saw quite a lot of old men enjoying climbing. The Fragrant Hills seemed to be a public garden for citizens rather than for tourists. Good! At about 3 o'clock in the afternoon we got to the top of Xianglu Peak. Wow, a birds eye view of Beijing that lies to the east, that's it!

Then we chatted to wait for sunset for about 2 hours. Damn! The battery of my camera soon ran out! And I missed the chance to take photos of the sunset. Remember to charge next time! Luckily, there are far more beautiful photos and a nice blog from TuotuoXP.

After the sun went down, we got down the hill, had our supper and headed back to campus. Mum called to tell me that my pet dog got another four children!

What a nice trip! We're planning to explore here again in late autumn, when leaves turn red or yellow in a colorful world.

Morning Glory

After a whole day's skiing and snowboarding, I got up with aching all over on the Monday morning. Getting everything ready I headed for MSRA. The gorgeous blue sky with clouds of all shapes stroke me when passing by the main building on campus. I looked around and got excited. So I buzzed TuotuoXP immediately for an outing but nobody answered the call.

I had no choice but kept on going south. Buildings in such a great day seemed much more amazing and lofty, such as the Yin'gu Building on the 4th Ring Road. Bicycling across it, the west hills that were so clear indicated the charming autumn, my favorite season in Beijing, already fell in the city. Hooray!

I was taking photos of morning glory flowers along the avenue when TuotuoXP called back. It would be a pity to stay in doors in such a day. So we decided to bicycle for Xiangshan, the Fragrant Hills, one of the most famous parks in Beijing.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Skiing and Snowboarding

It's my first time skiing/snowboarding, so fascinating! The activity was organized by some nice guys from the SKI board of SMTH BBS. It cost 120 RMB for a whole day skiing and 30 RMB for round-trip bus to Qiaobo Ice & Snow World, a great indoor ski/snowboarding resort in Shunyi (a district in the east of Beijing).

So many guys from our department turned up: Barbary, bluewhales, dreamer, eNigMa and his girlfriend, gb, King, sheven and his girlfriend, superhog, taurus, wolf, xray, Yulai and his sister, that might be a half of all participants. We departed at about 8 o'clock in the morning and arrived there in an hour by bus. After changing for ski wear and taking ski equipments (skis, boots and poles) I started my whole day's tumble. First we were taught how to fall down and get up by an expert. Well, believe me that's not easy to do it. Then we learned snowplow, the downhill technique for beginners. And we practised. I didn't fall down at my third try and tried to learn turning. It's so great that I could turn slightly before lunch.

After lunch I skied for a while and began to experience snowboarding, which was really cool but much harder to start. That's a far longer story of falling down again and again but really amazing to jump and rotate in all attractive actions. Also at my third try I didn't fall down on a snowboard. However, there's not enough time to practise more. At about 5:30 in the afternoon we left. Snowboarding would be enjoyed next time, I'm pretty sure.