Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bear Blessing

A friend forwarded to me another one of those inspirational messages. Normally I would delete the message, while cursing the sender under my breath, but the pictures included show polar bears, and I have a special weakness for polar bears. So I am in turn inflicting them on you. Enjoy!

The Bear Blessing

Wishing you in your busy life
... Time for Relaxation

Good Sleep

Good Health with Exercise

Someone to Dance With

... a Bit of Adventure

Good Looks

But Most of All ...

I Wish You Lots of Bear Hugs

And The Comforts of Real Love

Many Blessings...

May you always have love to share, health to spare, and friends that care.

But watch out for those darn penguins!

The perfect hard-boiled egg

I know it's hard to believe, but I actually have some cooking skills, albeit very limited, I admit. One of my specialties is the hard-boiled egg, which is harder to cook than you might think. Most of the times, if you're not careful, the egg shell cracks during the cooking process and the inside oozes out and congeals into a gross goiter. Beurk! Or the yolk turns green and tastes like sand and sticks to the roof of your mouth.

With time, and after many, many disappointing results, I managed to develop the perfect recipe, which I was going to take with me to the grave. But this morning, lo and behold, I found in today's Le Monde a recipe by Christina Blais, of the Université de Montréal, that's similar to mine. Since the cat is out of the bag, I might as well post it here, as my contribution to the improvement of human civilization.

Hardboiled eggs on a stick - Laos

Blais' method (copied on mine, no doubt):
Il faut d'abord, avec une aiguille, percer un petit trou dans la partie renflée de l'oeuf pour permettre à l'air de s'échapper pendant la cuisson. Pas d'eau bouillante, car le blanc d'oeuf cuit à 64 0C ; au-delà, il devient caoutchouteux. Le problème est que le jaune cuit à 68 °C. Au-dessus de cette température, il devient sableux. Solution : cuire l'oeuf à 69 °C. "Mais cette température est presque impossible à maintenir dans une cuisine domestique", dit Christina Blais. Le compromis, à la maison, consiste à placer les oeufs dans une eau froide salée et à porter doucement à une première ébullition, couvrir et laisser reposer pendant une dizaine de minutes. On prendra soin, pendant la cuisson, de faire rouler l'oeuf dans la casserole pour obtenir un jaune bien centré. Le résultat est un oeuf assaisonné (par le sel), au blanc moelleux, bien équilibré autour du jaune pour obtenir de belles tranches, à la double texture idéale.

First, you must use a pin and pierce the shell at the round (not pointy) end of the egg, to allow air to escape during the cooking process. Do not let the water boil, since the white cooks at 64 degrees Celsius and turns rubbery at a higher temperature. The problem is that the yolk cooks at 68 degrees Celsius and turns sandy at a higher temperature. The solution is to cook the egg at 69 degrees. According to Christina Blais, «such temperature is impossible to maintain in a normal kitchen». The compromise solution, if you cook at home, is to put the egg in salted cold water which you will slowly bring to a boil. As soon as the water starts to boil, turn off the heat, cover the pot and let the egg continue to cook in that water for ten minutes. Blais recommands that you roll the egg around while it cooks so that the yolk is centered, but I find that the boiling water is already doing that rolling job for you, not to mention that the yolk centering doesn't really matter unless you intend to slice the egg for sandwiches, because really who gives a sh*t if the yolk is slightly off center? Anyhoo, back to the translation. The result will be a nicely seasoned egg (by the salt), with creamy white, equally distributed around the yolk to yield beautiful slices, and with perfect texture for both the white and the yolk.

Hard boiled egg origami

Monday, November 27, 2006

How Green Is My Thumb

I have two poinsettia plants in my office: a red/pink one and a white one. The white one, I retrieved from a garbage can a few years ago. The red/pink one I bought, because it had many branches with pink flowers and one branch with red flowers, and I've always been attracted to mutants.

Normally, it's very hard to make poinsettias reflower and since they are relatively cheap seasonal plants, most people just ditch them, once they stop flowering. Last year, I managed to make them reflower, but this year, they decided that they don't need my help and are now beginning to rebloom all by themselves, just in time for Christmas.

Am I good or what?

Cool People in Vietnam

HANOI, Vietnam (Reuters) -- Hollywood superstars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie doled out candies and toys during a surprise visit to an orphanage in southern Vietnam, a state-run newspaper said on Saturday.

The couple went to Tam Binh orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City and had lunch there on Friday, the director of the charity facility told the Saigon Giai Phong (Liberation Saigon) daily.

Posted by: Anonyme [Merci, A.]

Friday, November 24, 2006

What Gender Is Your Brain Quiz

Your Brain is 13% Female, 87% Male
You've got the brain of a manly man
Feelings, schmeelings... tears aren't for you.
You could break both legs and not get misty eyed.
A great problem solver, nothing ever phases you.

Now you know why I'm weird....
What Gender Is Your Brain?

Christmas shopping list for your Dog

Political Toys for intellectual dogs!!!


Choose your favourite (or least favourite) political/controversial figure and give it to your dog to decide their fate. Seeing your dog happily drag this personality around the garden will give you similar satisfaction of ‘getting even’. The chewable pet toys are made from long-lasting PVC so dogs can have years of fun and soft rubber so chewing is not harmful for their gums. About 20.00$.

Wife beaters for redneck dogs!!!


Totally rough punk rock gear for your pets! With 12 sizes available in this cool tank design, dogs large and small can look tough. About 24.00 US$.

Bling blings for gangsta dogs!!!


Sparkling diamonds and sapphires. Stunning 14k white gold and yellow gold. The kind of quality workmanship we've always hoped to see in jewelry for dogs (and dog jewelry for owners, for that matter) combined with a company determined to do things differently. Priceless.

And if your dog should get married, there's only one place to go for the bride and groom:

They have apparels (day and nightwear), jewelry, accessories, eyewear, colognes, furniture, etc..

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Mount Rushmore

From questions submitted by Vietnamese people to the U.S.-Indochina Educational Foundation for its “FAQ About America” project. Originally from Harper's Magazine, January 2005.
  • When did your culture form? [You all know about this anecdote, I'm sure: Asked «What do you think of the US culture?», Mahatma Gandhi allegedly replied: «Oh, that would be a good idea».]

  • What does a typical American look like? Do actors and actresses in Hollywood movies possess characteristics of a typical American?

  • What is Hollywood?

  • There are many sexy scenes in American movies. Does that reflect the daily lives of Americans?

  • How many people in the U.S.A. like to drink Coke?

  • Why are American presidents so bellicose?

  • Does the U.S. really wish for peace and happiness for other countries, as they always announce in public?

  • What do Americans think about Communists?

  • People say that Americans look down on people of color and people from Third World countries. Is that true?

  • Are Americans extravagant?

  • Americans are very combative, aren’t they?

  • Why do many Americans like to be single nowadays?

  • Americans seem to be superficial and not sincere. What do you think about this?

  • Do you think using an excessive amount of slang will gradually destroy the beauty of the English language?

  • What will happen if the American president doesn’t carry out the promises that he made in the campaign?

  • What percentage of the U.S. population wants to be a good friend of Vietnam in all fields?

  • How can the post-traumatic stress disorder be solved? What are the U.S. responsibilities in solving it?

  • Why does America appear to be the major factor of almost every war?

  • Which aspects of life are American people most interested in?

  • I have learned America is a free country; what is the real freedom in this country?

Educating George

From Crooks and Liars [], Keith Olbermann delivers a master lesson to Bush.

It is a shame — and it is embarrassing to us all — when President Bush travels 8,000 miles, only to wind up avoiding reality, again.

And it is pathetic to listen to the leader of the free world, talk so unrealistically about Vietnam, when it was he who permitted the "Swift-Boating" of not one but two American heroes of that war, in consecutive Presidential campaigns.

But most importantly — important, beyond measure — his avoidance of reality is going to wind up killing more Americans.

And that is indefensible — and fatal.

Asked if there were lessons about Iraq to be found in our experience in Vietnam, Mr. Bush said that there were — and he immediately proved he had no clue what they were.

"One lesson is," he said, "that we tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take a while."

"We'll succeed," the President concluded, "unless we quit."

If that's the lesson about Iraq that Mr. Bush sees in Vietnam, then he needs a tutor. Or we need somebody else making the decisions about Iraq.

Mr. Bush, there are a dozen central lessons to be derived from our nightmare in Vietnam, but "we'll succeed unless we quit" is not one of them.

The primary one — which should be as obvious to you as the latest opinion poll showing that only 31 percent of this country agrees with your tragic Iraq policy– is that if you try to pursue a war for which the nation has lost its stomach, you and it are finished. Ask Lyndon Johnson.

The second most important lesson of Vietnam, Mr. Bush: if you don't have a stable local government to work with, you can keep sending in Americans until hell freezes over and it will not matter. Ask South Vietnam's President Diem, or President Thieu.

The third vital lesson of Vietnam, Mr. Bush: don't pretend it's something it's not. For decades we were warned that if we didn't stop "communist aggression" in Vietnam, communist agitators would infiltrate and devour the small nations of the world, and make their insidious way, stealthily, to our doorstep.

The war machine of 1968 had this "Domino Theory."

Your war machine of 2006 has this nonsense about Iraq as "the central front in the war on terror."

The fourth pivotal lesson of Vietnam, Mr. Bush: if the same idiots who told Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon to stay there for the sake of "Peace With Honor," are now telling you to stay in Iraq, they're probably just as wrong now, as they were then… Dr. Kissinger.

And the fifth crucial lesson of Vietnam, Mr. Bush, which somebody should've told you about, long before you plunged this country into Iraq — is that, if you lie us into a war — your war, and your presidency, will be consigned to the scrapheap of history.

Consider your fellow Texan, sir.

After President Kennedy's assassination, Lyndon Johnson held the country together after a national tragedy — not unlike you tried to do.

He had lofty goals and tried to reshape society for the better. And he is remembered for Vietnam and for the lies he and his government told to get us there and keep us there… and for the Americans who needlessly died there.

As you will be remembered for Iraq and for the lies you and your government told to get us there and keep us there… and for the Americans who needlessly died there — and who will needlessly die there tomorrow.

This president has his fictitious Iraqi W-M-D, and his lies (disguised as subtle hints) linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11, and his reason-of-the-week for keeping us there when all the evidence has, for at least three years, told us we needed to get as many of our kids out, as quickly as we could.

That president had his fictitious attacks on Navy ships in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964, and the next thing any of us knew, the Senate had voted 88-to-2 to approve the blank check with which Lyndon Johnson paid for our trip into hell.

And yet President Bush just saw the grim reminders of that trip into hell:

– Of the 58,000 Americans and millions of Vietnamese killed;
– Of the 10,000 civilians who've been blown up by landmines since we pulled out;
– Of the genocide in the neighboring country of Cambodia, which we triggered;

Yet, these parallels — and these lessons — eluded President Bush entirely. And, in particular, the one over-arching lesson about Iraq that should've been written everywhere he looked in Vietnam, went un-seen.

"We'll succeed unless we quit"?

Mr. Bush, we did quit in Vietnam! A decade later than we should have; 58,000 dead later than we should have; but we finally came to our senses.

The stable, burgeoning, vivid country you just saw there is there, because we finally had the good sense to declare victory and get out!

The Domino Theory was nonsense, sir. Our departure from Vietnam emboldened no one. Communism did not spread like a contagion around the world.

And most importantly — as President Reagan's Assistant Secretary of State Lawrence Korb said on this newscast Friday — we were only in a position to win the Cold War because we quit in Vietnam.

We went home. And instead it was the Russians who learned nothing from Vietnam, and who repeated every one of our mistakes when they went into Afghanistan. And alienated their own people, and killed their own children, and bankrupted their own economy, and allowed us to win the Cold War.

We awakened so late — but we did awaken.

Finally, in Vietnam, we learned the lesson. We stopped endlessly squandering lives and treasure and the focus of a nation on an impossible and irrelevant dream.

But you are still doing exactly that, tonight, in Iraq.

And these lessons from Vietnam, Mr. Bush, these priceless, transparent lessons, writ large as if across the very sky, are still a mystery to you.

"We'll succeed unless we quit."

No, sir. We will succeed — against terrorism, for our country's needs, towards binding up the nation's wounds — when you quit — quit the monumental lie, that is our presence in Iraq.

And in the interim, Mr. Bush, an American kid will be killed there, probably tonight — or, if we're lucky, not until tomorrow.

And here, sir, endeth the lesson.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Mea Culpa

Décidément, ce n'est pas ma journée aujourd'hui. Après la fessée (verbale) de KCA, ne voila t-y pas que Stalker me signale une photo de Bush que j'attendais et dans laquelle mon nemesis est, non seulement pas ridicule du tout, mais même presque beau.

Princes and Princess of Bac Lieu (OK, c'est la dernière fois )

Bush: 2 - Lenga/Bouddhiste: 0

Moron in Chief

From Informed Comment []
«Bush went to Vietnam and boasted about how we would have won if we had not quit. This was, he said, the lesson for Iraq of the Vietnam War. He managed to be wrong about two wars at once and to anger both his hosts (how churlish!) and the Iraqi public. The American Right never admitted that they lost in Vietnam, thus the Rambo movies and, Melani McCallister argues, the US admiration for Entebbe. Iraq was their chance, they thought, to get it right. Bush had also said insulting things to the Philippines about how wonderful it was that we had colonized them (and killed 400,000).

Colonialism is over with. When will they get that through their heads?

At 1:18 PM, Boo said...
He boasted we could have won Vietnam IN VIETNAM??!!
Do they think he's been drinking again?»

Update 19 November
In the comments, KCA explains convincingly that Bush was misquoted, misunderstood, etc., so I'm withdrawing the finger and posting something nicer below. The title of the post stays, though, cause it's intrinsically true.

Duh.. Soooorry!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Russell Peters Special

Back by popular demand! Forty five minutes of pure hilarity! Or my name ain't !xobile.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Important News

Associated Press - BOGOR, Indonesia - A renowned black magic practitioner performed a voodoo ritual Thursday to jinx President George W. Bush during his brief visit to Indonesia. Ki Gendeng Pamungkas slit the throat of a goat and a small snake and stabbed a black crow in the chest, then stirred their blood with spice and broccoli before drinking the potion and smearing it on his face.

He said the jinx would send spirits to possess Secret Service personnel guarding Bush and put them in a trance, leading them into falsely thinking the president was under attack, thus eventually causing chaos in Bogor Presidential Palace, where the American leader was scheduled to meet President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Monday.

"I am doing voodoo, because other rituals would not work," Pamungkas told reporters at the end of the gory ceremony performed 1 kilometer from the palace.

Obviously, the voodoo priest did not know about the warning on bird flu.

Reuters - Benin - Priests who tear out the throats of live chickens in ritual sacrifices to voodoo gods may risk contracting bird flu now that the deadly virus has reached Africa. Voodoo priests in Benin, which borders Nigeria where an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 virus was found in poultry last week, sacrifice animals to invoke blessings or favours from the gods.

Benin Voodoo Priest ... Not the Prince of Bac Lieu

And speaking of voodoo,

Westmount, QC - Canada - All my phaenelopsis are in bloom or producing multiple bud spikes. There are so many of them that I'm running out of room on the window sills. But I'm not complaining. At least I don't have a voodoo curse on my ass.


Bush and Uncle Ho
Photo «submitted» by Stalker

My reply (to Bush, not to Stalker)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tout est impermanence

Ma tartine!!!

Piqué sans permission à Cynical C []

Who Gives A Sh*t

NBC News - Today, President Bush visits Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, “looking to burnish his foreign-policy credentials.” He’s off to a miserable start.

Yesterday, the White House website featured a graphic with the flags of the three countries he’s visiting on his trip — Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. One problem: instead of displaying the Vietnamese flag, the White House graphic featured the old flag of South Vietnam. That flag hasn’t been the official flag of Vietnam since South Vietnam surrendered to North Vietnam in 1975.

This flag, stupid!

Not this one

You think it's because Bush is an idiot and his Administration is populated by incompetent and ignorant yahoos? Noooo! I mean, yes, the present President of the United States of America has no interest in the world outside of his small circle and his staff are hired for their loyalty to the Party and not for their competence, but still, the main reason is because it's about brown people, so nobody really gives a sh*t.

When the Prime Minister of Vietnam came to Canada last summer, Jean Charest greeted him in Quebec City. In his speech, Charest announced that Quebec City will sign an agreement to become the twin city of Huê, Vietnam's ancient imperial capital. Charest kept calling it the City of Hew (the correct pronunciation is: Huey). He didn't bother to check the correct pronunciation of Quebec City's twin sister, nor did his staff bother to tell him. After all, the only people who would care are ...well, brown people, and we all know how their opinions matter, right?

And by the way, the Vietnamese Prime Minister did not mispronounce the name Quebec. That would be a major, major faux pas in protocol affairs and in simple courtesy, even for brown people.

Temple in Huê

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ace Ventura is my hero

As I was cleaning my bookmarks, I found out that I'm a member of a feminist group, the Heartless Bitches []. Each member was supposed to tell a true story about herself, that would be characteristic of her attitude as a feminist. Here's the story I told, which I completely forgot about:

«Once at work, a guy saw me walking by and said: "Hey, why so serious? Come on, give me a smile, it can't be that bad" and I bent down and did the Ace Ventura butt-talking bit, saying: "Here's your smile!"»

And it's a true story too! The guy's not working at my office anymore. Good times, good times..

Russell Peters Double Feature

They talk about him in the newspapers today. He's a favourite at our home.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My next wallpaper

As you can see, Samsara Shmamsara has a new look. I got persuaded to switch to a new format and I'm slowly learning how to add new features -- accent on «slowly».

What I'm waiting for, to replace the wallpaper background, is the picture of Dubya in ao dai.

I said: ao dai, not Halloween costume.

Associated Press - World leaders gathering in Hanoi this weekend for the annual Pacific Rim summit will be invited to don traditional Vietnamese "ao dai" silk tunics and black velvet turbans for their group photo, staff of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum said Tuesday.

Making the custom-tailored ankle-length ao dai, pronounced "ow zai," requires more than 20 measurements — details some of the less-than-svelte among the leaders might not be so keen to disclose. But that's the price the leaders pay for their photo ritual, a highlight of the annual summit of 21 APEC leaders.

The tradition of posing in clothing symbolic of the host country began with the first APEC summit in Seattle in 1993, when the leaders wore leather bomber jackets. Indonesian batik, Filipino barong made of pineapple fiber, and gold-embroidered Chinese silk tunics are among the other traditional shirts the leaders have worn, sometimes to their apparent chagrin.

The centuries-old ao dai was banned briefly after Vietnam's communist revolution but is now worn by school girls — preserving a touch of traditional elegance in a fast-modernizing society. Vietnamese otherwise rarely wear ao dai except as uniforms or for formal occasions or special holidays.

The traditional women's costume includes a long tunic with slits up the sides revealing just an inch or so of flesh at the waist above long white slacks. The men's version adds a headband-like turban, usually in black or brown.

On Vietnamese men, it looks great. I can hardly wait to see the results with President Bush.

Plage nudiste au Vietnam

Via: Elmooh's Blog []

Au début, je ne savais pas si c'était moi qui ai perdu l'oreille, parce que j'ai beaucoup de mal à comprendre le vietnamien de la speakerine, à tel point que je ne savais même pas parfois si elle parle vietnamien ou une autre langue asiatique. Réflexion faite, c'est la faute de la bimbo. Je n'ai aucune difficulté à comprendre les gens qui sont interviewés dans le clip. Ma carrière d'interprète est saine et sauve.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Blue Suede Shoes

Photo/International Antarctic Centre.
No, that's not the Prince of Bac Lieu.

From All Hat No Cattle []: A penguin called Elvis wears a new pair of blue shoes at the Antarctic Center's Penguin Encounter display in Christchurch, November 7, 2006. Elvis and 16 other penguins who arrived at the International Antarctic Centre in September have been given specially designed shoes after several penguins developed sore feet in their new home, according to Antarctic Centre director Richard Benton. Picture taken November 7, 2006.

The Prince of Bac Lieu

Not the Prince of Bac Lieu, but the last representatives of Viet Nam's royalty in Hue

B-Boy, k8 and I were having a late, late supper in Chinatown, when I remembered a song from the latest Thuy Nga’s Paris By Night Show, about "Công tử Bạc Liêu" []. Knowing B-Boy’s interest in all things Vietnamese, I told him and k8 about the legend of that rich man called the Prince of Bac Lieu, who used paper money as fuel to cook an egg, to flaunt his wealth. B-Boy and k8 were delighted by the story and practiced the Vietnamese pronunciation many times to make sure they got it right.

We visited my mother on Sunday as usual, and just as we were getting ready to leave, B-Boy casually told her how his brother Asparagus was installing a DDR mat in the kitchen, much to the annoyance of K8, who shares the first floor of our duplex with him. B-Boy said to my mother: «Who does he think he is, crowding K8 out of her kitchen like that, that he’s Công tử Bạc Liêu?».

My mother's amazement was priceless: her jaw dropped, her eyes bugged out: How on earth did her grandson know about the Prince of Bac Lieu? Her surprise was soon replaced by delight. She wouldn't let us leave until she told B-Boy all about the Prince's extravagant ways. When one of his girlfriends dropped a nickel on the ground, the Prince lit up a 20 dollar-bill, using it as a torch to look for the nickel. Whenever he goes out, he used five rickshaws: one for himself, one for his hat, one for his cane, one for his fan and one for his servant. Etc..

No, this is not the Prince of Bac Lieu either

That's when I dropped another bomb on her: would she agree to teach us Bai Tu Sac, so we can all play together during our next visits? After protesting feebly that it's too complicated for B-Boy, she accepted. When we finally left, she was smiling from ear to ear, and her eyes were shining.

Thank you, Prince of Bac Lieu!

The Prince of Bac Lieu's palace

Sunday, November 12, 2006

How I found out that I'm not Eric Clapton

My son Asparagus is the drummer of a Japanese rock band. A few months ago, their lead guitar quit or was fired or something. One of Asparagus's running jokes over the years is to tell me: Mom, why don't you learn to play the piano/saxophone/cello, etc. so that the three of us (him, me and the other son B-boy) can form a rock band. So naturally, this time he asked me to learn to play the guitar in order to replace the guy who left. Of course, with my self-deluded mind and flaming ego, I didn't resist too strenuously to the temptation -- who wouldn't want to be a rock star? I can already see myself basking in the adoration of my fans, as I pluck the strings with my teeth before smashing the guitar on the amplifier and setting both on fire.

Asparagus was very encouraging: I only have to learn one song, or at the most two, in case we get encored, and since I don't read music, he will hum the song to me. Sounds easy enough. The cherry on the sundae was when he informed me that I have 9 months to prepare myself, cause that's when the band has a gig. The very next day, I went out and bought: Rock Guitar for Dummies.

It's been two months and I can't even strum a frigging single bar. The word «suck» has crossed my mind... more than once.

Another dream bites the dust.