Major Phone Surgery

My phone’s battery had been on the fritz for over a year. It would last about 3 hours or so and then die at 45-50%. This seems to be something endemic to Huaiwei Nexus 6p phones. Other than this issue, I love the phone and don’t want to buy a new one. I tried to have it fixed in Taiwan, which you would have thought would be easy over there. Unfortunately, they do not care to work on mainland phones. I decided to wait until I got back in the US to fix it myself.

I bought a new battery and tools on Amazon for $14. My sister-in-law, Heather, has some experience working on phones, so I let her give it a try after a review of the procedure on Youtube. Unfortunately, while opening the case, the screen and thingie behind it cracked. No one’s fault, but I bought a new Huawei Nexus 6p off Ebay for $138. I was going to just use the new one, until I remembered that I had an interview with Aunt Jean on it. So, I cracked open both of them and performed major surgery. I got it down to the base innards and combined the features I needed into one phone. Youtube was great for this. That site can teach you how to do almost anything.

Update 6/17: New battery and screen is working like a champ. Love it.

Darkest Hour

Recently, I had the opportunity to watch the new film, Darkest Hour. I have to say that this film surpassed all my expectations. First, it only highlighted how capable and talented an actor Gary Oldman has been throughout his career. He is always superb, but this may be the pinnacle against all other performances will be judged. His love and respect for Churchill shines through. As the Oscars approach, he would be my vote for best actor, even if the film does not win one for itself.

As for Churchill, this film only frames the reason he is the Lion of Britain. The fact that he was thrown out just after the war is only indicative of how idiotic the British people can sometimes act. The only quibble that I had with the film is about something I know little about, namely Churchill’s disposition before his war address to Parliament. Some, such as more knowledgeable commentators at Powerline (a conservative blog I read), have pointed out that this is nonsense and that it betrays Churchill’s memory. Others defend the piece despite their misgivings. Still, it is a great film and I recommend it.

BYU’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative (METI) moving to Brill

I just read that BYU’s Middle Eastern Text Initiative will be published in the future by Brill. Previously, the publisher had been the University of Chicago Press. I liked UCP because their prices were reasonable. You could pick up works by Muslim and Christian thinkers for $25-30 apiece. Brill, because of their standing in the academic world and type of material they publish, rob you blind. It is not rare to see a book for $150-200.

So while I am hopeful, I think this will probably be a horrible decision for a customer that is not an academic library. Fail!

Story here.

Celebration of 2 Birthdays


Sullivan’s Steakhouse just off College Dr. has the best steak that I have ever tasted in the city of Baton Rouge. As one of my brothers stated, “It ruins you for any other steak in the area.” Be warned, however, you pay for the quality as it is “a la carte”. I felt like I got mugged, but was still happy because of the flavor of the steak. 5 out of 5 stars.

I went to Sullivan’s with my brother John and his wife, Marianne. They graciously allow me to stay with them every time I come home to Walker. I guess I should invite my nephew because I actually take his bedroom with I come home, but….nah. Sorry, Tyler. This was the second time I have eaten there for my birthday and since John’s birthday is three days before mine, I invited them to eat with me.

Hong Kong – January 10th-15th

I arrived in Hong Kong on Monday the 11th at around 1:30 in the morning and slept on a bench in the airport until about 7:00. After getting into the city, I went to the hostel I booked in Chungking Mansion. I love staying there when I go to HK. It has a certain seediness to it that for some reason appeals to me. My room was not ready, so I walked down Haiphong Street to Broadway and watched the new Star Wars movie. It was good, but didn’t quite catch up to the magic of the original for me. I slept about an hour and then went to Mongkok to look for shoes. Shoe Street did not have any shoes my size (11, 5E). Surprise, surprise. I did eat at one of my favorite restaurants though, Dimdimsum. On the way back to my hostel, I took care of my other business in HK, buying a phone. In the Broadway store at Tsim Sha Tsui, I bought my new Huawai Nexus 6p for 4088 HKD ($524). That is less than I would have paid for it in Beijing.

The next day I ate lunch at the Curry House in Chungking. The Indian boss there is a real cool guy, as is the turbaned fellow selling samosas further down. I love samosas. I crossed Stanley to see if the Space Museum was open. It is closed until March, so I went into the Cultural Center and purchased a ticket for a Cantonese musical – 太平山之疫. It was not until 7:30, so I went off to Jordan station to find some shoes. I walked around Temple Street without success. I had a decent massage from a very grabby, yet nice lady from Hebei. After that, I went to eat dinner at Ebenezer’s Kebabs and Pizzeria on Asheley Rd. This place was recommended by my friend Erin Wells from back in Beijing and it did not disappoint. I went to the local Watson’s for an insert to my shoes and was told by a nice pharmacist that it was difficult because “Chinese people have small feet.” This lady pretty much encapsulated my shoe hunting experiences in one sentence. I just went to the performance, which was spectacular. It was all in Cantonese, with English subtitles. The subtitles were almost superfluous, you could feel the emotions stemming from the performance.

Wednesday was my day to walk around Hong Kong Island. I know that HK has escalators, but I walked up the stairs to hit some calories. I walked up to a Louisiana restaurant recommended by my friend Rebecca. The catfish po-boy was decent, but obviously the chef from New Orleans had never eaten at Middendorf’s outside Manchac. The key lime pie was, however, magnifique. After lunch, I went to the Sun Yat-sen Museum. It is a really interesting place. It was an Edwardian mansion built by a native businessman associated with the British firm, Jardine & Matheson. They played a small note in my Master’s thesis, since they were involved in China’s early railway development and the opium trade. The family of the businessman later sold his house to the LDS Church, which used it for a meetinghouse for 30 or so years. In 1994, the City was given the property (in a land swap, if I remember correctly) and it became a museum. It is a beautiful house and makes a fine museum for the great Dr. Sun.

After going to the museum, I walked over to Hong Kong University. I talked to a person in the History Department as well as in the Chinese Department. The University strangely splits Qing Dynasty history, with the History Department covering modern history and the Chinese Department covering early Chinese history up to the middle of the Qing Dynasty. I went there to investigate the campus as I am thinking of pursuing a PhD there. I went back to the hostel early because walking all over those inclines killed my knees. It was pretty tough going up and down.

Thursday, I went over to the Temple to see my friend AJ, from Beijing. We met up and went to lunch. I then accompanied him to a business meeting in Kowloon. He was setting up a LLC or something. I mostly slept in a meeting room. After this, we separated. I went back to HK island to see meet up with my friend Rebecca and her husband, Jordan Baggs. It was a very stimulating dinner at this Vietnamese food place, BEP Vietnamese Kitchen. The food was great, but the company was much better. She had just come from a business trip to Singapore.

The next day, I took my flight back to Beijing.

Genlighten – Hiring a Genealogist

In October, I did something that I wanted to do for a while, but did not have wherewithal before. I hired a genealogist to do some digging for me. I found a website named Genlighten. I was looking for two pensions filed in the National Archives. One was for George W. and Sarah Bohanon, parents of Asa Bohanon (George and Sarah were my third great-grandparents). Asa was with the 20th Maine and died in 1865, after coming down with a sickness. I was also looking for the pension of Fannie Knowles, third wife of Dr. Harford B. Knowles (he and his first wife are also my third great-grandparents).

I paid a Mr. Lee Irwin from the site $50 apiece to find the pensions. He was successful with the first one. The pictures that he sent out were gorgeous in quality. If you have a similar need, please do not hesitate to contact him on the site. Unfortunately, he was unable to find the pension for Fannie Knowles, so he refunded the fee (less a reasonable search fee). I have to say that I was impressed.

I am thinking of trying my luck again with the site. There is a genealogist in Northern Ireland who charges $120 for a four hour search. I am thinking of throwing my McCutcheon’s at him and see if he can find anything about them in Antrim or Tyrone.

**Update 11/14**

Mr. Irwin made a 2nd go of it with some new information and delivered to me the pension of H.B. Knowles with something like 150 pages. It is going to take a while to slog through all of that material. It cost a little extra for a large pension file, $75 this time, but still worth it.

Pinotage Restaurant and Bar – Shunyi, Beijing

A friend from church talked several of us into going to a South African restaurant in Beijing, Pinotage. I was a bit hesitant because South Africa somehow does not scream out to me “awesome gastronomical experience.” I could not be more wrong though. It was a great place to eat. We had appetizers of Boerewors (a SA sausage), samosas and this type of bread stick with a savory sauce. I ordered a Caesar salad, a strawberry smoothie, and a Chicken Kiev. All of it was delicious, especially the chicken. It used a curry sauce instead of the traditional herb butter. I also tried the dishes selected by my dining partners. Each dish was excellent.

The only downside to experience was that it was difficult to find. It is out in Shunyi, which is quite far from where I live. There is one in Sanlitun, but we went to this one because of better reviews. Also, we had to get a taxi because it is not close to the station. This was not detrimental to the dining experience, however. I definitely recommend this restaurant to Beijing foodies. Unfortunately, I neglected to take pictures.

Address: Lane Bridge Villa Compound, Laiguanying Donglu  来光营东路9号


Man of Steel…Or

Man of SteelMore like a visual metaphor for the Bible. As I was watching this really awesome rendition of Superman (so much superior to the 2006 movie), I was struck by the symbolic religious parallels in the movie. Reading later on the subject, I learned that this spiritual aspect was part of the mythology of Superman from the beginning. I have never been a comic book fan – or manga, or anime or etc. – so this was entirely new to me.

As for the film, the use of CG in this movie was ubiquitous, of course, but the plot was so much better than even I had imagined. It is a shame that the plot will be lost on so many people who are unaware of the symbolic messages. In addition, I was also struck by the portrayal of religion and patriotism in the movie. It was treated with respect and reverence. The same for military. Also, there were a lot of great actors from TV series such as Battlestar Galactica.  Probably one of the best comic adaptations that I have seen. All in all, a great movie and definitely one to add to the collection.

Nunn Bush Baker Street

I decided to recently purchase a new pair of shoes. Since I was little, I was tormented by the process of buying new shoes. No shoe store in the past carried my shoe size. I wear a really wide size 10.5 now, but even as a child my feet were especially wide. Color and style were severely limited. With internet purchasing, my pain was alleviated somewhat, but selection was still limited and expensive. This dilemma caused me to only have pair of shoes at a time. I know, this must be shocking to all of you shoe fiends. About ten years ago or so, selection increased. I still bless the name of New Balance every day as they have come through for me again and again. This time, however, I wanted to go with some nice dress shoes.

I initially looked at Rockports’ Office Essentials for about $100. They looked beautiful and came in my size at Zappo’s. For me, black is the only color for dress shoes. I know others like the reds, browns and so forth, but a black shoe goes with just about everything. Despite the utter beauty of the Rockport, my frugality reared its head and I decided to go with Nunn Bush’s Baker Street for $20 less. I had a hard time deciding between ridged toe or plain toe. I eventually chose the plain toe. This shoe featured a rubber sole, a very comfortable insert and a beautiful classic look. While still a little tight due to its newness, it is one of the best looking pair of shoes that I have ever owned. Now, just have to save up some money for a new pair of New Balance tennis shoes.

The Hobbit…eh, or at least the First of Three Movies

This review is beyond overdue. After returning from Utah, I had planned to watch this movie with my cousin, Jake, and mein bruder, Dougie. Doug unfortunately came down ill and was unable to accompany us. I had read some slightly negative reviews online and carried with me a little trepidation. Not over the material, but the length. Peter Jackson decided that one book would provide enough material to film 3 really long movies. This is exactly the opposite in the trilogy where he had to cut some material just to get it down to a correct length.

I was wrong to be so worried. The movie was beyond sublime. Length was not an issue as Jackson had extra material from the Tolkien histories to flesh out the story. It really felt that it in some ways just flew by. While I don’t want to bore you with the blow by blow, as you should see it yourself, I will leave you with my favorite and least favorite part. I really loved the parts with Sméagol in it. Andy Serkis is a genius, as his facial expressions were well worth the ticket price. My least favorite part was the Ogre King. His portrayal in some ways reminded me of Jar-Jar Binks. I detest Jar-Jar. Other than that, it was an awesome film and I am looking forward to the sequels.