Agricultural Biodiversity

The accumulated wisdom in the crops and livestock is profound. We’ve been breeding cattle for 10,000 years, goats for 9,000 years, dogs for 12,000 years, chickens for 8,000 years, lamas for 6,500 years, horses for 6,000 years, camels for 4,000 years. All those millennia we have been in deep partnership with the animals. All of our staple foods are ancient. Wheat has been bred for 11,000 years, corn for 8,000 years, rice for 8,000 years, potatoes for 7,000 years, soybeans for 5,000 years

“For 9,900 years,” Richardson said, “we’ve been building up variety in domesticated crops and livestock—this whole wealth of specific solutions to specific problems. For the last 100 years we’ve been throwing it away.” 95% is gone. In the US in 1903 there were 497 varieties of lettuce; by 1983 there were only 36 varieties. (Also changed from 1903 to 1983: sweet corn from 307 varieties to 13; peas from 408 to 25; tomatoes from 408 to 79; cabbage from 544 to 28.) Seed banks have been one way to slow the rate of loss. The famous seed vault at Svalbard serves as backup for the some 1,300 seed banks around the world. The great limitation is that seeds don’t remain viable for long. They have to be grown out every 7 to 20 years, and the new seeds returned to storage.

via Long Now

Hong Kong: an inspiring city

Cities have been a central part of the human civilizations; great cities are not just places where people live and work; they are where people interact, exchange ideas, and simply be inspired. Some are often mentioned in our age: New York, London, Barcelona, Tokyo, etc. We were in Hong Kong last week, and it is definitely an inspiring city.

Traveling means different things for different people; some like to see natural scenery, some like to go on shopping trips. For me, I want to visit cities to experience how people live. One way to do that is to have a cuisine tour; similar to what Anthony Bourdain did in his famous No Reservations show. Food is an essential part of our life, it tells a lot about who we are. The real good authentic food cannot be found in tourist spots or in restaurants; you have to go to where local people go. By doing that you emerge yourself in the city daily lives.

As fans of Anthony, we decided to track his route in Hong Kong and we are not disappointed. On the day we arrived, we went to Long Kee Noodle Shop Address: 100 something Hak Po Street, Mongkok. Notice that the address provided in various websites is wrong. People in that area do not speak English well, so we had a hard time to find the place; I recognized the place by spotting a big guy with tattoos. The food itself is just so so, nothing special; however walking around that area is interesting.

Our next stop was Tung Po Seafood Restaurant at 99 Java Road, North Point, Cookedfood Center. We had deep-fried mantis shrimp, black-ink squid balls with noodles, fish soups, and vegetables. fried shrimps are similar to what we have in Singapore but much fresher and lighter taste. Black-ink squid is interesting but fishy so some might not like it. Fish soups are very similar to the Vietnamese style: refreshing and simply delicious. The place is crowded, be prepare to wait 15′ to 20′. Price:100-150 HK per person.

We had so much fun at Lin Heung Teahouse at 60-164 Wellington Street, Central. No words can described the experiences there. It is sensational. The tea house is still run in the old traditional way. It super crowded; expect to wait up to 30 minutes for a seat, you actually have to find a table, standing next to it until a person leaves. We saw a lot tourists, but the place is still where locals hang out. Price is cheap; two of us had 6 plates of dim-sum and infinite flow of teas (there are two types: black and green) for only 75 HK dollars. We went to twice for lunch.

The next best restaurant is Four Seasons Clay Pot Restaurant. It was not easy to find the place. The restaurant is not on the Temple Street, Yaumatei; but it is actually on a parallel street near one end of the Temple street. Vietnamese will be happy to find their vegetable soups are very similar to ours. Besides the famous claypot rice, remember to try out Tung Choy (rau muong or kang kong); they have the best way to prepare Tung Choy I have seen in my life.

Drink: in Hong Kong I would recommend Blue Girl, fresh and light. The taste won’t go bitter after leaving open for a while. In Macau, you should try Macau Beer, it is just like Macau itself, an Asian city with European feel.

Don’t miss the horse racing in HK. We went to “Sha Tin”: racecourse. The fun was not much about betting (even though we won twice) but more about the atmosphere. You can simply get a beer, lid up cigarettes, try your luck, and enjoy!

If you practice BJJ, you can drop by “HK Gracie Barra”: , Herry Chan is a nice guy and a very good instructor. There are also other BJJ clubs around in HK.  Since I picked up BJJ, I try to visit clubs in other cities when traveling. A great way to get to know people.

Next time travelling, I will get an GPS navigation device, it can be frustrated sometimes as you lost the way around. HK is very dense city; a normal map does not show a lot of small streets and lanes. Not all streets and buildings are clearly labeled in English.

Wong Kar-Wai

Watching his movies is really a pleasure; it gave me a total different idea about movies. I used to like a movie because of its story; movies like The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, etc. However, recently I am trying to watch other less mainstream movies such as Blue Velvet. This leads me to WKW. Chungking Express or In the Mood for Love can be watched just for the sake of watching, every shot is beautiful.

Reading List: Totochan

“Totto-Chan Little Girl at Window”:

Everyone has some good moments in the past, and reading this book will likely bring you a moment of nostalgia. It tells a story of a little girl went to a _perfect_ primary school, that to say it does not suck. The little girl is weird in a cute way, and the head of school has a very modern and liberal method of teaching. It sounds like a dream for most of readers. Yet this story was based on the childhood of the author just before WWII happened. This book, like The Little Prince, is for everyone, children and adults. I just wish every educators in the world has a copy, and reads it once a year.

The limitation of this book, IMHO, is that it does not have a strong story line. The story was based on real life events of the author, but it reads like a non-fiction. Regardless of which genre the book is, the story does not “flow”. The second half is more like a collection of very short stories than a book. The author, in fact, wrote a series of stories for a magazine; the series are so well received which led the author edit them into book. I noticed this kind of snags in other books done that way too.


bq. America is a constant tug-of-war between order and chaos. When you smoke, that just shines out at you as a fact. People glare. They hustle past. Nonsmokers. Bah! To them, my smoking represents lawless inconsideration. The brainlessness of an animal. The order of the world once lay in the absolute calming pleasure of the smoke. But they reordered it, and now smoking is the upset, the smokers stand on street corners, at the fringe of everything, stamping their dead soldiers against their shoe bottoms. When I drive past, I feel them. That’s my country right there. They remind me of the updraft, of the stovepipe of heat, they make me want to smoke! And yes, I even like the coughing. I actually like the hurt in the chest plate. It lights up my brain. It sets me into a state. But — that’s just because I’m new to it. For a real smoker, it provides calm, it provides order against the chaos of their lives. Columbus! He didn’t discover anything, except cigarettes. There were no cigarettes in Europe before him. That fucking guy. And the Puritans! Those guys made rules. They wanted to lay order on the land and stamp out what they didn’t understand. That’s the smoking-ban people. Puritans. Black and white. Smoking is the essential American rip — the need for moral order versus the instinct for exploration.


Align Cafe

A new cafe in 1st Ma May street, Hanoi, by my friend Viet Phuong of the Very cool place to hang out. The drink is OK, they need to improve a lot on cocktails. However, the waiters are well-trained, you don’t find that good services in Hanoi often. The design is really cool. They managed to embedded many elements of old Hanoi into a new modern design. The owner is very detailed oriented, after many visits, I was sometimes surprised by some good design.

Align Cafe

Duyên Dáng Việt Nam 19

Duyen Dang Vietnam

I am the right-most person in the picture. For those don’t know about “Duyên Dáng Việt Nam”, it is a music-fashion combo concert, pretty popular in Vietnam. They also did some shows outside Vietnam. In this coming 19th show, they will use some 3D models of Old Hanoi which as developed by “3D Hanoi Group”: Autodesk funded software for the group in another project in which those models are built. I “represented” Autodesk in one of their meetings.