Happy July 4th!

Fireworks from our small town celebration of July 4th. The two bright white dots in the background are actually Venus and Jupiter.

Happy Moon Festival!

The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated by Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and many other Asian people. By Lunar calendar, the festival is held on the 15th day of the 8th month, when the moon is at its fullest. The perfect round shape of the moon symbolizes family reunion.

How to Watch Chinese TV Online Using XBMC

XBMC is a fantastic media player that can handle most video and music formats. It also includes many add-ons to watch TV online. Being open source, XBMC is free and is compatible with Windows, Mac and other platforms. If you don’t have Dish Network or a dedicated set-top box for watching Chinese programming, using XBMC with CNTV can be a handy solution. CNTV (China Network Television) is provided by China’s official broadcasting company CCTV, and I’m sure there are other add-ons for different languages.

Quality-wise CNTV on XBMC is very good, although it highly depends on the speed of your Internet service. I’m using Time Warner standard 10MB down with Turbo Boost and can watch most stations without any problem. Obviously it still can’t compete with Dish’s Great Wall Package in terms of PQ and ease-of-use, but for occasional viewing, XBMC is hard to beat.

Below is a step-by-step tutorial for setting up XBMC with CNTV:

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July 4th Fireworks – San Diego, 2012

I live in a small community in San Diego and every year our town puts on a spectacular July 4th fireworks show. By spectacular, I didn’t mean it was comparable to New York or DC, but last night it was enough to cheer up the 25+ guests gathered in our backyard for an up-close, unobstructed view of the entire show. For a minute I was convinced the kids were making louder noises than the fireworks, but I decided to give them a break 🙂

I also took some photos; actually this was my first time trying to capture fireworks. The camera I used is a Canon Xsi, with an EF 24-105mm, f/4 L IS USM zoom lens. Manual focus to infinity, no flash, ISO100, f8 or f10, and on a tripod. I didn’t have a manual or remote release so I didn’t try the bulb mode, but I did take a few long exposure shots (4-6sec) and the results were better than I expected:

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Chinese Chess

I was teaching my son how to play Chinese Chess the other day, but couldn’t remember the whole rhyming song that explains the basic rules. So today while driving home, I made one up 🙂 马走日 象走田 炮打须隔山 小卒步步向前走 大俥纵横无阻拦 双士护两侧 老将守家园 中国相棋乐无边 Sorry if you don’t read Chinese, and I don’t think I’ll be … Read more

Visit National Parks for Free in 2012

There are nearly 400 national parks in the United States. Many of them are not only spectacular, but also suitable for family vacations. In fact, visiting a national park has been our top choice for vacation trips ever since my kids were old enough to enjoy travelling. The National Park Service (NPS), in my opinion, … Read more

Popular Baby Names for 2010

The Social Security Administration maintains and publishes a list of popular baby names by birth year. The 2010 list is now available and here is the top ten for boys and girls: Top 10 Baby Names for 2010 Rank Boy’s Name Girl’s Name 1 Jacob Isabella 2 Ethan Sophia 3 Michael Emma 4 Jayden Olivia … Read more

Urban Dictionary for Age

Naive: You can’t hold your pee, or your mouth. Young: You can hold your pee, but not your mouth. Mature: You can hold your fee, and your mouth. Old: You can hold your mouth, but not your pee. Disclaimer: I didn’t write it – just translated it into English.

How Do You Pronounce Pint

I thought I’d been in the U.S. long enough to know the pronunciation of “pint,” as in a pint of beer. Obviously not! This is a perfect example for the saying: For every grammar rule out there, there is at least one exception. If you don’t go to the bar a lot, or haven’t paid attention to … Read more