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How come…. February 19, 2015

Posted by hslu in Congress, Economics, Election, Obama, Politics.
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Yesterday’s WSJ on-line version has this cartoon showing two angry mid-aged couple watching TV in their living room. The guy says:

“How come none of these economists are unemployed?”

http://www.wsj.com/public/page/news-opinion-commentary.html

To which I have this to say:

“How come all the lying politicians, starting from Obama, are still in power?”

Americans elect their politicians based on their ability to tell a good lie with a straight face. Qualification isn’t a necessity. Personal integrity is not required. Experience doesn’t count. And honesty is least of their concerns.

Generation after generation, Americans were lied to one presidential election cycle to the next. Yet, these same career liars got elected again and again.

Gullible to the point of naiveté and stupidity!

Are they blind?

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祝達拉斯朋友新年好 February 19, 2015

Posted by hslu in China, Life, Death and Yuanfen.
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今年冬天我們這兒特別冷. 雪也下了不少. 白天十幾, 二十度, 晚上八九度, 吹起風來, 涼颼颼的鑽到衣服內, 冷到骨頭裏了.

不過, 雖然天寒地凍過年的氣氛還是有的. 上個禮拜六, 餐館舉辦了一年一度的新年晚宴, 幾個店的大師傅各自拿出看家的本領, 做了許多菜, 五十幾個人聚在一起; 餐館發紅包, 大家吃年夜飯, 飯後摸彩抽獎品, 大家喜氣洋洋, 弄到快一點才散. 搞二十多年了, 過年的味道還是有一點的.

今天禮拜四, 大年初一. 可惜窗外聽不到炮竹的聲音. 以前歡歡喜喜去別家拜年的情景如今也都由電郵和短信代替了. 時代進步, 人與人之間的距離卻拉開了. 以前的習俗也沒法子不跟着改變. 潮流的巨輪是停不下來的. 你說是嗎? 

剛剛看天氣預報, 晚上會冷到-2度, 白天吹大風. 明天晚上七度, 想必也好不到哪裏. 看來只有呆在家裏, 等到週末再出去走走.

不知道Dallas那的天氣如何, 你們會不會找個時間大家聚一聚, 吃個飯, 拜個年, 讓大家都沾點過年的喜氣? 我們住的遠, 不能來, 只有在這寒冷的冬夜送上我們遙遠的祝福: 

一祝你們家家吉吉祥

二祝你們個個歡歡喜喜

三祝你們人人快快樂樂

四祝你們事事圓圓滿滿,

五祝你們年年平平安安.

 

另外, 別忘了保重身體, 要記住笑口常開.

 

我們以前住在臺中北屯. 離家不遠有個”寶覺寺”現在還在. 廟外有個七八十尺高的弥勒佛. 我一直不能忘記的是佛前的一塊石碑, 碑上刻着兩句詩, 詩云:

 

大肚能容 了卻人間多少事
滿腔歡喜 笑開天下古今愁

 

羊年剛剛開始, 獻上這首詩與你們分享.

重慶高老九火鍋, 上海 February 12, 2015

Posted by hslu in China.
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好大個火鍋餐廳卻是忙了個不得了! 由城隍廟附近走了20分鐘. 到了餐館再等了35分鐘. 肚子餓的不得了. 不叫我們的號碼也只有到處看看. 20141027_19555420141027_19591120141027_195449

我們前面還有 29 桌等着呢.

我們前面還有 29 桌等着呢.

唉, 這麼多上海的餐館個個生意好的不得了, 一點都沒有經濟不好的樣子. 這家餐館的火鍋湯盆子跟其他家的不一樣: 方的火鍋湯盆子可以分成九個部分.不過分得越多價錢也越貴. 我們只要了鴛鴦鍋; 一邊白湯, 一邊辣味. 紅白兩樣剛剛好.

雙味鴛鴦鍋

雙味鴛鴦鍋

點菜用iPad. 價錢和圖片都在上面.   餐館還僱了兩個印度人專門做印度的薄餅.

印度飛餅. Indian naan 也.

印度飛餅. Indian naan 也.

Use iPad to order.

Use iPad to order.

點了一大堆, 有菜, 有肉, 有魚, 有香菇. 好豐盛. 一共 290 人民幣. 打了個8折收了 267人民幣. 吃到他們打烊我們才走.

 

收錢市我跟服務員說我們等了半個多鐘頭, 她說今天還算好的了, 忙的時候,要等兩個鐘頭呢.

 

Wow!

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撈出來的調味料. 看了都辣.

撈出來的調味料. 看了都辣.

至少二十種調味料.

至少二十種調味料.

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沒什麼小菜, 水果.

實收 人民幣267元.

實收 人民幣267元.

To Soc Chon, Annandale, Virginia February 12, 2015

Posted by hslu in Food, Restaurants.
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Yelp led us to this Korean restaurant about a month ago in a cold and windy evening in the middle of January. We thought that a hot-pot of tofu or something like that would be exactly what we needed.

It is hidden in the back of the strip shopping center for Il Mee Korean buffet restaurant. We chose To Soc Chon because we thought if a restaurant can survive the onslaught of a buffet restaurant, it has to offer something a Korean wants to come back for.

We were right.

Usually we’d have tofu, seafood pancake and Korean BBQ but we decided to order something that we seldom chose at a Korean restaurant. The waitress didn’t understand English. The menu didn’t offer enough description for us to pick the right dish. We went to the board and point to the dishes we want and here are what we had. Go check it out yourself.

After our meal, we went to Shilla Bakery in the same shopping center very popular with young Koreans and people like us who wanted to 沾點熱鬧氣.

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This big menu board divides the big restaurant into two sections. No decoration. No ambiance. Dark-colored wooden chairs and tables. Concrete floor.

Heavy duty pig feet dish completed with skin and bones. Chum Churum is a Korean soju made by Lotte. Chum Churum means “like the first time” or “pure” in Korean.

 

Bulgogi hot pot. The soup was a little too sweet for us.

Bulgogi hot-pot with rice cake or 年糕 in Chinese. The soup was a little too sweet for us.

From Shilla Bakery

From Shilla Bakery

破財消災:A $3,500 plumbing job February 10, 2015

Posted by hslu in misc.
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It’s very expensive. I know. I feel the pain. Worse, the stint will stay with me for a while.

Well, all I can say to comfort myself is: call it ‘破財消災’ 吧。

You see, I had what commonly refers to as a ‘slab leak.’ Yeah, water leaks out from below a slab; like the concrete slab in your basement or garage. It is very serious even though the amount of water leaked into the house around the water supply line was small: like about 15 gallons a day, roughly two toilet tanks worth of water.

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The leak was somewhere along the water supply line coming into my house from the shut off valve at county line out by the street. The 1 1/4″ water supply pipe is about 30′ long but I didn’t know where the leak was and I didn’t know how big the crack was either. Although only a small amount of water leaked into the basement, some water had to have leaked into the soil which may cause the foundation to shift or settle unevenly. The recent rain and snow also made the situation unpredictable and dangeous. That could be very serious if left untreated.

First, I had to find out where the leak was. For that I called a leak detection company I found online.

Well, they couldn’t come to test the line right away because it was windy. It also rained for a few days. The guy told me he’d come on the first clear day and it would cost me $450. Any time after two hours would be $160 extra per hour. Not cheap.

The crew showed up as promised on the furst ckear day. Theyy shut the water off. Took the meter off and pressure up the line with either N2 or air. They also used a pressure gauge to make sure the leak came from the supply line. They’d then listen to the hissing sound made by air leaking out of the hole using a listening device to locate the location of the leak. That’s why he couldn’t have wind blowing around his ears or rain dropping down. Snow was okay though.

Well, the leak came from the supply line and it was somewhere near the house below the slab because the hissing sound faded away quickly once he walked away from the house. He couldn’t tell how far down the crack was because the supply line might have come into the basement from below the slab which is about 6′ below the ground level.

He suggested that a new line be put in from the shut off valve on the city line, drill a hole through the basement wall, run the line inside the basement and tie it in to the existing plumbing before the meter. This sounded reasonable to me because it beats digging a 10 foot deep hole in the ground which might not reveal the location of the leak.

That’s what we’d do but the leak detectiin company wouldn’t fix the leak and I had to get a plumber to do that.

Usually when we have a leaky pipe or  worn out faucet inside the house, we called a Chinese guy who may or may not practice the trade before he came to the U.S. He may have picked up the skill by working for a plumber over the years. People like this usually charges at least 1/2 of what a regular American plumber charges.

But a Chinese plumber couldn’t be trusted for this kind of job because it required him to work with county official and utility companies: a permit had to be applied and received, burried lines and cables had to be located before any digging began and inspection had to be performed by the county before finishing the job. Digging a 25′ long trench about 3′ deep called for a backhoe or a bobcat. All these tasks were usually beyond what Chinese plumber was comfortable doing. The bottom line was that it’d take big money to fix the problem.

I got referrals from the leak detection guy but one of them didn’t want the job for reasons I didn’t know. I got the other guy came in and told him the leak guy’s suggestion. He agreed with the suggestion and told me he’d give me a quote the next day.

He called around 8:30 in the morning and asked for $3,100 for the job. Since the guy looked honest to me and he was willing to make a trip with a short notice, I told him to come the next day. He said he’d see me the day after tomorrow because he had to get a permit from the county tomorrow because it was getting dark outside.

The next day, he sent in a trailer with a bobcat backhoe. The day after, three guys showed up early in the morning digging around the city valve which is about 4′ below ground.

An hour or so later, a guy came to mark the burried lines and cables. Soon after he left, one guy fired up the bobcat and started digging around the house. He moved away from where the supply pipe was because it is close to the city sewer line.

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From utility company to mark buried cables.

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Once a trench is big enough for a man to work down there, another guy started to drill the hole through the basement wall. It took him about 25 minutes because he hit steel half way through and had to push the long drill bit hard with another guy’s help.

image

Then the old plumbing was cut off and a new insulated flexible water line was put in. Once the entire path of the trench was dug up, two guys worked on the tie-ins and the bobcat guy started to back fill the trench. They left my house around 4:30 pm but they have to come back tomortow because it was too late for county inspection. I guessed the county guy probably was packing his stuff in and already call it for the day by then.

image

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The lead guy told me someone will come back tomorrow and be here with the inspector. Once the insspector signed off on the job, he’d fill the hole back up, pack the soil in and pave the walk way with paving stones. All I have to do was to seed the dirt in the spring.

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The hole was sealed with hydraulic cement and a layer of tar.

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At the bottom of that standing pipe is the city line and shut of vale.

That will cost me $3,100.

唉:|!破財消災也!

Well, a house is kind like a person. As peoole get older, problems start to show up inside the body, skin starts to lose firmness, grey hair shows up seemly over night, wrinkles begin to appear on the face and body parts start to work not as good as before. People start to see doctors more often and hospitals and doctor’s offices become the places to visit on a regular basis and nurses begin to call you by your first name. You become a regular customer.

When a house gets older, things fell apart. My house was built 35 years ago and it had a new roof, a new siding, new windows, a new GE water heater, a new A/C, a new garbage disposal, a new garage door, a new water supply line and soon a new carpet. Deck needs a new surface. Some doors won’t close properly and cracks start to let more hot air out during the winter and can’t keep the cold air in in the summer. Handyman’s business cards start to crowd out other people’s cards and it becomes very expensive to keep the house not to mention thousands of dollars in property tax that we have to pay every year.

Too bad that I can’t claim the plumbing job as a loss on my tax return.

Central Michel Richard, Revel, Atlantic City February 7, 2015

Posted by hslu in Food, Restaurants, Travel.
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Another top quality restaurant closed its door because Revel went bankrupt. Prices were reasonable too. Hundreds of thousand dollars of investments went kaput. Too bad.

Hope the new Revel, or whatever it will be called, will feature top quality restaurants again. We’ll be there to try them out.

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Amada, Revel, Atlantic City February 7, 2015

Posted by hslu in Food, Restaurants.
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Too bad that Revel is closed but you can still get some of these wonderful tapas at Amada in Philadelphia, PA. Take a look of some of the plates we have tried before Revel declared bankruptcy. Revel cost $2.5 billion to build. It was sold to a developer for $95.5 million.

This is capitalism. Someone wins. Someone loses. Not sure what Revel will change to but it will be hard to revive Atlantic City’s fate.

 

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We didn’t order this dish: baked fish covered in sea salt. It looks great.

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