mitcho Michael 芳貴 Erlewine

Postdoctoral fellow, McGill Linguistics.


Posts Tagged ‘photo’

Foxkeh Strikes Again!

Friday, May 1st, 2009

I just wanted to point out that our beloved Foxkeh is featured1 on! He can be found on the Twitter business profile page in the first photo in the gallery:


  1. Okay, maybe “featured” is a strong word… 

Ubiquity Parser: The Next Generation Demo

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009


A week or two ago while visiting California, Jono and I had a productive charrette, resulting in a new architecture proposal for the Ubiquity parser, as laid out in Ubiquity Parser: The Next Generation. The new architecture is designed to support (1) the use of overlord verbs, (2) writing verbs by semantic roles, and (3) better suggestions for verb-final languages and other argument-first contexts. I’m happy to say that I’ve spent some time putting a proof-of-concept together.

I’ve implemented the basic algorithm of this parser for [[left-branching]] languages (like English) and also implemented some fake English verbs, noun types, and semantic roles. This demo should give you a basic sense of how this parser will attempt to identify different types of arguments and check their noun types even without clearly knowing the verb. This should make the suggestion ranking much smarter, particularly for verb-final contexts. (For a good example, try from Tokyo to San Francisco.)

➔ Check out the Ubiquity next-gen parser demo


Unnatural by design

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

I’m flying over the pacific ocean right now but a little bit of language caught my eye. Here’s a picture of the menu for this flight, in three languages: English, Japanese, Chinese.


What caught my eye is the line “served with ご一緒に 配,” meant to be read as part of “Beef in BBQ sauce… served with Pepsi…”. The Chinese 配 (pèi) is fine here, meaning “with,” but the Japanese “ご一緒に” (goissho-ni) seemed awkward to me.



Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Went to Tokyo 2.0 last night to hear about [[OpenSocial]] and De facto resident photographer Jim Grisanzio got a nice pic of me. ^^

Creative Commons License photo credit: jimgris

Weekend in Osaka

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

A few weekends ago, I went out west to visit Bailey. While I normally visit her in Kyoto, it was a three-day weekend, and we decided to explore another city near her: Osaka (大阪). If Kyoto is the historical capitol, Tokyo is the modern and imperial capitol, Osaka has traditionally been the merchant capitol of Japan. It’s known for its food, comedy, and business.

My trip began with the three-hour bullet train (新幹線 shinkansen) ride out to Osaka. I hadn’t purchased a ticket in advance, so that meant standing in a non-reserved seating car for most of the way there, the sole consolation being the great view of Mt. Fuji. Lesson learned: buy reserved tickets for holiday weekends.


Our first stop was the [[Osaka castle]] (大阪城 ōsaka jyō). Located at the center of the city, the castle is surrounded by a moat and a pretty big park. Many of the paths are lined with cherry trees, making it a popular [[hanami|cherry blossom viewing]] venue in the spring.


北京 Part 3: The Great Wall of China! and noodles

Monday, February 11th, 2008

Day 3: The Great Wall

Before we finalized our plans to go to China, K80 just had one criteria for an itinerary: to go to the [[Great Wall of China]]. We reserved all of our final full day in Beijing to going to the Wall. After our delicious breakfast, we hit the roads, taking a bus from the [[Dongzhimen|Dōngzhímén]] bus station out to [[Miyun county|Mìyún]] (密雲) and then a taxi to [[Simatai|Sīmǎtái]] (司馬臺). Compared with other more popular Great Wall sites, Simatai is less restored, less touristy, and a more challenging hiking experience. We gave in to the adventurers within.

The weather was actually pretty nice, hovering right above 0°C, with beautiful clear skies, making up for [[2008 Chinese winter storms|the rest of China]]. We could see miles across. The higher up we went, the more of the Wall we could see.

They weren’t kidding when they said Simatai was more challenging of a hike… with some sections >45° up, sometimes it felt like a climb rather than hike… the path also sort of disappeared towards the end.

The whole experience fills with you a sense of awe, especially when you think of the people, real humans just like us (at least, we think), building this hundreds of years ago. Its scope is mind blowing. We made sure to make our visit memorable and well-documented as well.

In the end we turned back after climbing for a couple hours, and when we saw that the next peak ahead of us looked particularly menacing. We took some final pictures and turned back.

K80 made sure to steal a brick on the wall down. Shh… We also saw a frozen river which excited the Floridian.

Noodles for dinner

For dinner we met up with Anna again and her friend. Anna recommended a noodle place where you can watch the guys whip up the different kinds of noodles in front of your eyes… there’s a guy lassoing some into a pot, a guy beating some dough into submission, another shaving little noodle bits off a ball of dough with a knife. These are the Chuck Norris of noodles.

For desert we had what I describe as Chinese 大学芋… some chunks of sweet potato, dipped in hot candy-ness. You then pick some up, dip it in water to let it cool off, and eat it. It was wonderful.

Thus concludes our haphazard trip to China. We all had a fabulous time, enjoying many cultural sites and seeing and making many friends.

北京 Part 1: Fulbright love, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and Houhai

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

It’s amazing how time flies… just over a week ago I’d just returned from [[Beijing]], but it feels like it’s been weeks… I’ll take this chance to write up my adventures before my memory falters.

Day 1: 北京,你好!


After getting into Beijing two Mondays ago, we took some time to explore the city. Our hotel arrangement (the Red Wall Hotel) was much nicer than in [[Hong Kong]], with windows, free internet, nice decor, and a great location, on the north-east corner of the [[Forbidden City]].

Walking around in Beijing, we were both immediately struck by the size of the city, in particular of the amount of open space. The streets were incredibly wide, with sidewalks and space between buildings! The landscape looked much more like an American Midwestern city than any other city I’ve been to in Asia.


In the evening, K80 and I met up with my high school friend Anna. Anna and I never took Chinese together in high school, but it turns out Anna now is on a Fulbright in Beijing researching environmentalism in China, particularly leading up to the [[2008 Summer Olympics|summer olympics]]. She mentioned she would bring along a friend from her Chinese program who taught English in Taiwan last year, “doing something similar to you.”

It turns out this friend was one of the English Teaching Assistants from last year, in the exact same program that we’re in now. What a small world! K80 and he even lived in the same apartment! We had some great Korean food and shared had a wonderful time catching up.


Day 2: The Forbidden City

Magi and we met up in the morning for some breakfast, and then it was off to the [[Forbidden City]] (故宮)! The Forbidden City is quite literally a “city,”1 but it now a museum with many gardens and historical relics, about half of which is off limits to the public. While most of the “better items” are in the [[National Palace Museum]] in Taipei (the joint result of [[Chinese Civil War|”history”]] and [[Cultural Revolution|Mao]], for he is beyond history), I was pleasantly surprised by the items in the City. That being said, I do think the best parts were the architecture and the gardens, which include various perilous hills.


We started in the back (north)—the rather unconventional route—having curry for lunch halfway through. The north half houses most of the exhibits, after which the second half is mostly the larger-ticket items, and a number of large courtyards. The City is definitely not just preserved history… Starbucks most famously had a brief stint in the City for a few years, though it is gone now. The curry was good and it was nice to be inside for a bit, satisfying priority one.2


There were a few items of particular note here. First of all, I was surprised by all the signs having both Chinese (traditional, the real Chinese) and [[Manchu language|Manchurian]] on them… it turns out the [[Qing dynasty]] court used Manchu as a primary or secondary language throughout its rule. I never expected to see that interesting script there.


Second, I was surprised to see a bicycle inlay on the ground… this led to my skepticism of the Forbidden City actually being built in the 1400’s.3 I present Exhibit A:


Finally, but not least: my four-star toilet experience.


Meet Mao

South of the Forbidden City is the [[Gate of Heavenly Peace]], though you might have heard it as 天安門 Tiānānmén. You know, where the tanks ran over protesting students in 1989.4 Everyone and their mother has seen a picture of the huge wall with Mao on it… what you don’t realize is that it’s HUGE. I was standing in front of it, a decent ways away, and it didn’t fit in my camera’s viewfinder. K80 did one of her American [[Pledge of Allegiance]] photos there too.


Temple of Heaven

Afterwards we went to the Temple of Heaven (天壇), a large park a little south of Tiananmen Square. There were some really cool trees, including the camouflage tree, below. The gardening organization of the vast expanse reminded me of the [[Gardens of Versaille]]. Surely it would have been even more beautiful in the spring or summer.


Afterwards we had some [[Beijing duck]] for dinner, though priority one was sadly unfulfilled.


Houhai café

On our final leg of Day 2, we went up to the hip Hòuhǎi (後海) area, basically a lake with many bars and restaurants around, with many traditional Chinese streets ([[hutong|胡同]]) nearby. We stumbled upon a cute café where we drank some citrus tea, tea, and some cakes, all ordered off of their hand-written menus. It was a little hold in the wall, but fulfilled priority one, and had some great conversations about life, politics, and food. Thus concludes Day 2.


  1. At least, if [[Dent, Minnesota]] gets to be a city with 192 people get to be a “city,” the Forbidden City is for sure. 

  2. Priority one: warmth. The temperature was hovering around 0°C (alas, no snow!) but it was pretty chilly for walking around all day. 

  3. Only to be followed by all the simplified character graffiti on the [[Great Wall]]… they must all be hoaxes! 

  4. It’s articles like that that got Wikipedia blocked in China, as my website will be soon, to be sure. Apparently copies of Lonely Planet sold in China also have censored history sections as well. Reminds me of [[Warai no Daigaku: University of Laughs]], [[Mitani Koki]]’s humorous film about the censorship of plays in war-time Japan. I guess it’s only funny if you don’t live under such a government. 

Midyear conference in Hualian and Taroko

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

I just got back from the Fulbright Taiwan Midyear Conference, this year in [[Hualien]] with a day trip to the nearby [[Taroko National Park]]. Here’s one for the travelogue. I had a great, stimulating trip with lots of talk of linguistics (mostly about Classical Chinese), religion, economics, and politics—some of my favorite subjects. This being a Dr. Wu gig, there was also of course ample food, and Taroko was absolutely stunning.

Day 1: Trains, buses, and talk

I met up with everyone in the morning at the Hualien train station. Living in Nanao, I actually live really close to Hualien (about 40-50m) so I just elected to take a local train and meet the crew there. We then drove around to a couple interesting coastal points. (The one taking pictures below is Dale… I’m sure his blog will soon have photos more beautiful than mine.)


Bailey’s in the Tribune!

Friday, January 18th, 2008

Kuviasungnerk/Kangeiko just put Bailey on the front page of! ^^ You kind of have to see a different page to know who it is, though.1 Heh.

I recently got Daring Fireball‘ed too,2 so that almost makes us a celebrity couple.

Bailey on the Tribune

I personally like the caption right above. That’s the same story, right?

  1. “Good thing I have nice eyebrows, ‘cause that’s all you can see.” 

  2. This article: Great News! You can opt-out from Omniture’s mitcho on DF 

Updating your zenphoto theme for zenphoto 1.1

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

I use zenphoto as the backend to my photos section with a custom theme to hook into my site’s navigation and such. I chose zenphoto for my website a year ago based on it’s main strength: simplicity. It does much less than the competition, but it does what I need it to do—for the most part. It’s a fantastic bare-bones mysql/php photo gallery option.

Since then, though, I (along with many others) have been slightly disappointed by the lack of development in the promising project, without having the time or energy to pitch in myself. Such is life. But now the wait is over: Zenphoto 1.1 is out.

Zenphoto 1.1, I believe, does a good job balancing this tradition of simplicity with some popular new features. Highlights include (there are many) tagging, subalbums, chronological archives, RSS feeds, EXIF support, Google Maps, search, and preliminary video support. Exciting stuff.

As I maintain my own theme, though, some of these new features of course require me to update my theme. Below is my rough guide to editing your theme to take maximum advantage of zenphoto 1.1.