A Dozen Fish Photos

Was digging around and found a set of a dozen photos of my fish over the years… I surely miss keeping a fish tank and will certainly keep one once I’m settled into my new home, but for now these photos will have to do.

Necrology of My Father

I recently rediscovered a necrology (obituary) of my father written by Dr. D. E. Mungello of Baylor University and originally published in the Sino-Western Cultural Relations Journal, XIX (1997).

Reading it again, this time as an adult nearly twice as old as the teenager who read it before, I find that I gain deeper insight into the person who was my father. I feel like I can learn more about myself if I learn more about him. I was barely 18 when my father died, with many of those eighteen years being spent in conflict with him, as can be typical with teenagers and their fathers. I never really got to know my father as a man. Reading the necrology and other articles by and about him gives me a chance to get to know my father a little better. I never would have admit this back then, but I am very much like him, and today I am proud to say so.

Below is the necrology, posted with permission from Dr. Mungello.


Dr. John Dragon Young (楊意龍博士)

John Dragon Young was born on November 5th 1949 in Beijing. He came from a notable academic family whose members have included the English translators, Gladys Yang and Xianyi Yang. In the aftermath of the Communist Liberation, his family fled mainland China to Hong Kong where he received his primary and secondary schooling. He came to the United States for his post-secondary education and graduated magna cum laude from California State University at Hayward. His graduate work in History was done at the University of California at Davis and completed in 1976. His dissertation was directed by Professor Kwang-ching Liu (劉廣京教授) and was later revised and published as Confucianism and Christianity: the First Encounter (1983).

Dr. Young returned to Hong Kong in 1977 where over the next decade he held a number of academic positions. These included employment as a Research Officer of the Centre of Asian Studies at the University of Hong Kong and as a teacher in the Extra Mural Department of the University of Hong Kong. He cofounded the Modern Chinese History Society of Hong Kong and served as its first president. He wrote the foreword that appears in the first issue of the Modern Chinese History Society of Hong Kong Bulletin 香港中國近代史學會會刊. After serving as an active Head of the Department of History, Hong Kong Baptist College, he resigned over what he regarded as a matter of principle. This event was a watershed in his life and he would never again obtain a full time academic position in History.

For the next five years, Dr. Young was involved in the political life of Hong Kong. His academic involvement moved in this direction when he became a professor in the Graduate School of Journalism at Chu Hai College, although he also served as the Director of the Historical Research Centre of Chu Hai College. His commitment to Hong Kong was more than what one would expect toward a place that provided him merely refuge. He had a genuine concern for the people of Hong Kong and would increasingly come to believe that Hong Kong’s unique identity could play an important role in mediating between mainland China and the United States. As part of his effort to raise the people’s consciousness of legal institutions in Hong Kong, he successfully ran for a seat in the Shatin (New Territories) 新界沙田 District Council in 1988.

Excited by the implications for democracy by the Tiananmen student demonstrations, he travelled to Beijing in May 1989 to attend the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement. His intense disappointment over the outcome of events of June 4th would lead him to turn his energies toward Hong Kong. Increasingly, Dr. Young was involved in media debate over political events there. His public criticism of the forced repatriation of Vietnamese refugees led to an extended dialogue with Governor David Wilson over Hong Kong affairs. However, in 1991, his political life suffered a reverse when he was defeated in his independent candidacy in the first Legislative Council elections in 1991.

In 1992 Dr. Young returned to California. He became an advisor on Asian affairs to the San Francisco Mayor’s Office and obtained American Citizenship. He became an editorial consultant with the «大華間雜誌» (Chinese Journal) (San Francisco). After drifting away from his earlier interest in cross-cultural studies, he wrote a series of articles on Hong Kong’s impending absorption by the People’s Republic of China. He published these in such publications as «星島日報» (Sing Tao Daily) (San Francisco) and Asian Week. In addition, he wrote book reviews on China for the leading English-daily in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post.

Unlike many Chinese academics who established residency and citizenship in the United States, he moved back and forth between the cultures of the United States (mainly the Chinese subculture of San Francisco) and Hong Kong where he had a base at the Centre of Asian Studies of the University of Hong Kong as an Honorary Research Fellow. There was a price to be paid for moving back and forth between these two cultures without being anchored in either. His understanding of American culture was deep and sophisticated, but he appeared much more Americanized than he actually was. The academic job market in the United States continued to be tight and a position there eluded him. Dr. Young’s eventual move back to Hong Kong was probably decided by his securing employment as a member of the Department of Translation of the Chinese University of Hong Kong 香港中文大學翻譯系. In this final academic position, he was involved in teaching the translation of legal terminology from English to Chinese and from Chinese to English.

During the last years of his life, Dr. Young returned to his early interest in the early modern history of Chinese cross-cultural contacts. Sun Yat-sen held a particular fascination for him, perhaps because of the parallels in their lives divided between Hong Kong and Overseas Chinese areas. He wrote reviews for this journal and collaborated with this writer on translating a passage from Yang Guangxian’s 楊光先 Budeyi «不得已» (I cannot do otherwise) (1665) as part of a Sino-Western section for a new edition of Sources of Chinese Tradition edited by Wm. Theodore de Bary. He was one of the organizers of the conference “Christianity in China: Foundations for Dialogue” held at the University of Hong Kong in May of 1992 and he coedited the papers for publication. He was an enthusiastic participant in the International Symposium on the Significance of the Chinese Rites Controversy in Sino-Western History which took place in San Francisco in October of 1992 and in the International Symposium on the History of Christianity in China which took place in Hong Kong in early October of 1996. He looked forward to further involvement in cross-cultural studies.

Dr. Young was self-effacing and personable. On his visit to Texas in the spring of 1995 he enthralled Baylor students with his description of secret societies in contemporary Hong Kong. He experienced a great deal of frustration in his life which made him, at times, critical. He had strong feelings about the issues for which he cared most, including lingering imperialist attitudes toward the Chinese and the future of democracy in Hong Kong. In an article on the meaning of Chinese patriotism, he wrote that whereas in Western democracies, criticism of one’s government “is considered a right, or even a duty,” this is not the case in China where traditionally government officials have acted as “parents” of ordinary Chinese. He believed that the dilemma of Chinese patriotism would continue beyond 1997 “unless efforts were made to inform the average Chinese person that loyalty to China is not necessarily equal to total obedience of its government” (Asian Week, February 18th 1994, p. 2 & 19).

There is reason to believe that Dr. Young might have played a significant intellectual role in Hong Kong after its absorption by the mainland. Unfortunately, his life ended on a note of bizarre tragedy when he was struck by a lorry in the Central district of Hong Kong Island and in a spectacular fall, landed on his head, suffering a brain injury. After three weeks in the hospital, he died on November 5th 1996, which with sad irony, was his 47th birthday.

He is survived by his parents in Vancouver, by a sister in Hong Kong, by a son and daughter in San Francisco and by a daughter in Hong Kong.

In retrospect, Dr. John Dragon Young was a man whose life from birth until death was characterized by struggle. Many of these struggles were inflicted on him by the historic upheavals of 20th-century China. Others were merely personal. But some of his struggles were for the most noble of ends. He will be missed by those of us who valued him as a bridge between East and West, as a colleague and as a friend.

D. E. M.

Using Knowledge to Solve Problems

Our laundry room was starting to smell like a sewer, not quite stinky, but sort of a sour, musty smell. For the longest time we just figured it was the washing machine getting old. While cleaning out the laundry room today, I noticed a drain on the floor and was reminded of the time when I had to fix my mom’s sink, when I had to research how sinks and plumbing work. One thing I learned back then that stuck with me is the concept of a trap.

In the United States, the main types of traps are “P” and “S” traps, named so because they resemble those letters of the alphabet (when turned sideways). Every sink has one of these traps underneath. Even toilets have them. The idea is that after water drains from a sink, some of that water stays in the curved part of the pipe (i.e. “trapping” the water), thus creating a barrier between the sewer below and the bathroom or kitchen above and preventing any offensive smells from entering the room.

I knew that the drain hadn’t been used in years, and that the water in the trap had probably evaporated. So, I poured some water and all-purpose cleaner down the drain, and the smell went away.

I am no plumber, but I do have some basic knowledge of how things work. I think it is awesome that information is so easily accessible these days, that anyone can hop on the internet and look up information to help them solve a problem. The next time you have a problem, try searching on the internet; you just might find the answer. Knowledge is power!

Hard Drive Nostalgia

As part of prepping for moving I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning up, deciding what things I want to keep, and what things I want to get rid of. One of these things is a number of hard drives that I’ve collected over the years.

20 years' worth of hard drives.

20 years’ worth of hard drives.

My first hard drive was a 40 megabyte Maxtor 8051a that was installed in my first computer, a clone 386DX-25. Back then, any PC that was not name brand was called a clone (compare with “white box” today). This basically meant any PC that was not an IBM or a Tandy.

Maxtor 8051a (Top)

Maxtor 8051a (Top).

Maxtor Quality

Maxtor Quality.

This was the only hard drive I found that doesn’t really resemble a modern hard drive. You can see the PCB is huge and is separate from the casing housing the platters. The PCB also looks more like something out of a radio than a computer, but I suppose all computer parts back then had big protruding chips.


Many chips.

Something I’m very nostalgic about is the sound of my first computer. In those days CPUs didn’t have heatsinks, let alone fans, so the loudest component by far was the hard drive. Upon turning on the computer, the Maxtor would spin up with its distinctive spin-up sound, each of the floppy drives (we had two drives back then, a 5.25” and a 3.5”) would do a seek (boot up floppy seek anyone?), and then the BIOS would beep before loading DOS.

When you do something every day, its characteristics and its sequence becomes a part of your memory. For me, the something is turning on the computer, the characteristics are the sounds, and the sequence is what I previously described. It was like a sing-along; I’d hum the sounds along with the computer. Even now, I can replay the entire process in my mind.

Turning off the computer is a similar memory. Every time I turned the computer off, the Maxtor always had to get the “last word” in. I made a video of the spin-up and spin-down of the Maxtor and posted it on YouTube. You can definitely hear the “last word” of the Maxtor at the 0:17 mark in the video:

As the 40 megabytes of the Maxtor started getting filled up, I began to pine for a new hard drive. The only problem was that I was a 12 year old kid, and that hard drives cost an arm and a leg back then. I made do with PKZIP and moving things onto floppies. I don’t remember how, but eventually I convinced my parents to get me an upgrade. The result was another 40 megabyte drive, what I fondly remember as the “D: Drive”, a Conner CP3000:

Conner CP3000

Conner CP3000, my 2nd hard drive.

Conner CP3000 (Bottom)

Looks a little neater than the Maxtor.

Life was pretty sweet with 80 megabytes of hard drive space, but that was lower-classmen stuff. It was soon senior year of high school, and I “needed” more processing power, more storage. Enter my next computer, a two-thousand dollar (wow!) Compaq Presario with a 486SX2-66 processor.

The 486 was one of those PCs that had a built-in monitor and speakers. The hard drive inside that PC was a 420 megabyte Quantum ProDrive LPS. It, too, had a distinctive sound, but instead of spin-up or spin-down it is the seek sound that I remember fondly. I remember the nights of doing homework and listening to that hard drive click while it accessed virtual memory. You can hear the clicking at the 0:10 mark of this video:

Good times!

Because I started off modestly, I was always of the mindset that I didn’t have that much hard drive space and that I didn’t have that many hard drives. I was pretty surprised to see how many hard drives I’ve collected over the years. The ones pictured here don’t even include all the hard drives that are still in service in active systems. I am sad to dispose of these hard drives, which is why I’m writing about them here. With the photos and videos, I will always have a record of them without having to use up valuable space to store them. Below is a gallery of some of the more interesting hard drives. I hope that when you view them you will be nostalgic as well.

And lastly, just for kicks, a video of a drive that failed to stay powered on:

Windows 7 Power Management

Here’s another little tidbit I was reminded of when putting together a new workstation. On a fresh install of Windows 7, the operating system will stand by after a certain period of “inactivity” (if I recall correctly, 30 minutes). Apparently, activity does not include CPU usage. I’ve encountered this before when encoding videos. I spend all this time before bed setting up the encode the way I want it to thinking that when I wake up I’ll have a nice video to load onto my portable device, but when I check it in the morning the computer is in standby and the encode has barely progressed.

In the case of setting up a new workstation, I started Prime95 on all four cores hoping to get some burn-in action, only to be disappointed in the morning seeing that the workstation was shut off. I thought something had failed. After I hit the power button, though, I realized it was just standby.

Disk activity, on the other hand, counts as activity. How do I know this? I started formatting a 2 terabyte drive at the same time that I started Prime95, and the timestamp on Prime95 showed that the PC went into standby about 30 minutes after the time the format would have completed.

So, a reminder to myself and to anyone else setting up a new workstation, or preparing to do any lengthy task not involving disk activity: change the power settings!

Another beef I have with Windows 7 Power Management is that you can’t always activate a power icon in the system tray. Before I go to sleep, I like to set my profile to what I call “super power save”, turning everything to low and the CPU to 5%, to keep things quiet and cool. In Windows XP, it was possible to add a power icon and then use that power icon to change power profiles. It was a couple of mouse clicks. Notice how on my Windows 7 desktop the power icon is disabled:

The Power icon is not available, period.

I haven’t figured it out, but I’m guessing it’s because my desktop doesn’t have a battery. The solution (or perhaps workaround would be a better term) is to hit the Windows key and actually type power options to quickly get to that screen to change settings. A step backwards in my opinion.

Compare with XP, much easier to select a power plan.

Event ID 2017 from Source SRV

I recently upgraded my family’s network to gigabit ethernet. We started noticing that some shares would become inaccessible, and that restarting the Windows 7 server would solve the issue. I poked around the event viewer and found a few event ID 2017s from source srv, so I googled and found the following registry settings that should solve the issue:

Set HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\LargeSystemCache to 1.

Set HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters\Size to 3.

Thanks to alan.lamielle.net for this useful information.

Update 1-28-14: The server has been running well for a year and a half with no issues.

Local Security Authority Cannot Be Contacted

Just found this out today: when trying to use Remote Desktop to connect to a Windows 7 Professional x64 workstation, the Remote Desktop app will return an error if the user you’re trying to log in as doesn’t have a password.

In today’s computing environment I would not recommend not using a password for any account. This is a new box I’m building that is currently sitting on the floor. To make things easier for myself, I enabled Remote Desktop so I can install apps comfortably from my own workstation.

UPS Drop Boxes

The stupidity, laziness, and irresponsibility of people cannot be underestimated. Here I am trying to ship out my first UPS package as a “guest” without having to create an account, an option that was not available previously. I’m thinking to myself “oh, this is great, UPS opens themselves up to a lot more business this way, anyone can go online to prepare and send a package”. I’m feeling good and I’m happy that I don’t have to jump through hoops to do something simple.

I walk over to the drop-off location, drop off my USPS mail, and then try to open the UPS box. It won’t budge. I pull a little harder. Wait, what? There’s a package inside, stuck. A package that’s on the larger side, that common sense would dictate you not leave in a drop-off box.

So now, because of the selfishness and laziness of a fellow human, I and everyone else who wants to use that box won’t be able to use it. What can I say? This is the Valencia Corridor, bastion of hipsters and the “I” generation, where “I” comes first, where thinking of others does not even register (wouldn’t it be funny if it was an old lady who tried to stuff that box in there?).

I’ll save my thoughts on hipsters for another day. For now, I’m off to search for another drop-off location…

What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast

From fastcompany.com, via LinkedIn Today:

What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast

Since coming back from Hong Kong I’ve kept track of what time I wake up each day. The pattern has been 3 AM, 3 AM, 4 AM, 4 AM, 6 AM, 6 AM, etc. I seem to have stabilized at around 9 AM.

I’ve always been a late night type of person but I have noticed that I like the mornings a little bit more now that I’m older. It was nice getting up at 4 or 5 in the morning and taking a morning walk before there was anyone out on the street. I tried to time leaving my house at around 530, the time when the sun has been coming up these days.

Still, one cannot deny biology. Maybe I’m wired to wake up later. In the back of my mind I knew that I would revert back to normal, despite consciously wanting to go to bed early and waking up early. There is a Chinese saying, 順其自然, which Google Translate just told me means “go with the flow”. Perhaps I can be successful doing it this way.