After the jump, updates from readers on three points: the etymology of "Suntime" wine and the Uighur Autonomous Region in general; a critique of my wife's feather-light Sherpa haul from the U.S.; and, about that battered ThinkPad T60 keyboard.

Procedural note: I appreciate hearing from readers via the "email" button to the right. I will try to be less slothful about posting interesting responses and elaborations. Toward that end, I announce this policy: Unless a writer says otherwise, I will assume that I am free to quote the comments and attribute them to the writer by name. If you say "Please don't quote" or "Don't use my name," no problem! But to avoid having to email each person for permission, I'll assume from now on that a comment is on the record unless otherwise stated.

1) From a reader who does not want to be named, this amplification about my oft-praised, occasionally-lamented, Xinjiang Suntime wine:

Re suntime wine--maybe you said this and I missed it; but do you suppose the
name "Suntime" has anything to do with the practice, common in far west
China, of using their own "local" clock time, in defiance of Beijing's
insistence that all china share a single time zone? I've been in a hotel in
Khashgar where you have to make it clear that you really want to be waked at
eight BEIJING TIME to go for your plane-- ie 5 local time. Or you might
find yourself staying an extra day.

BTW did Milward expand on the proposition that this whole "Uighur" stuff is
an invented nationalism, and even more recent than most others. ["Millward" reference is to this post.] As I
understand it, a fair number of these non-Han westerners got together in the
20s and decided that they'd better have a common identity or the press would
never figure out who they were--so they dipped into history and came up with
the Uighur brand.

I don't blame em at all. It us no more heavy handed than the
Transylvanians claiming Rome (as in Romania) or the Magyars laing claim to
Atilla the Hun. And they certainly are beat up o n by the Han. But the
Uighur identity will not, I think, withstand close scrutiny.

I believe this to be true, but caution I am no expert, unlike Milward whose
work I much admire.

Response to all of the above: interesting questions, but I don't know the answers.

2) From Edward Seibert, who has just returned to the U.S. from China, a critique of our Sherpa list:

Books - of course. I had 300$ worth of Amazon shipped over when i moved here, still working through them.

sandwich bags - there's one i didn't predict before i came, but anything "locking" doesn't seem to be available here, i'm frustrated with my non-locking sort, but since i brought in bulk...

thick socks - i don't get why the Chinese don't sell thick socks. it's cold enough, you'd think it would be a no brainer. My theory is that they can go for more days without cleaning the thin ones (and with these tiny washer drier combos, if that, it's something to think about)


Barbecue sauce - none of this Kraft crap, it's got to be KC masterpiece.
a decent alarm clock - trips to Auchen, Carrefour, and Metro yielded a single pseudo alarm clock. the snooze bar lasts for ten minutes (as opposed to the standard nine) and it also turns the light off or on (annoying as i hit the bar then try to check the time) my alarm clock from the states didn't like the 220v. oops.
Frozen foods - i finally found chicken nuggets, but it's either that or dumplings.

The true mystery item here is indeed the socks. The fluffy, thick ones ubiquitous in the US are all made in China. But I still have never seen them sold here.

3) From another reader from whom I haven't heard about using his real name:

Regarding your note about your keyboard wearing out, I was a bit puzzled, because this is something that I’ve experience for years, but never considered an issue. I’ve had keyboards with many/most letters completely worn off, but I honestly never really noticed when typing, and was really surprised that it would motivate you to replace your keyboard.

But then a possibility dawned on me—does this mean that you do not ‘touch type’? Having taken typing classes in high school, I now take for granted that I never have to look at keys on the keyboard, but your note reminded me of the many people I know that don’t touch type and can tap out characters at a decent pace with just a few fingers.

With the ubiquity of computers today and programs like One Laptop Per Child gaining momentum, I guess it makes me wonder whether typing is a skill that should be (more?) formally encouraged or mandatory in our educational system, and also whether other countries are encouraging it, or making it mandatory. Which brings up countries like China (and many others), where the QWERTY keyboard and the software-based IMEs seem like an impediment for countries that use different character sets. Or countries or cultures where learning to type English on a QWERTY keyboard might be seen as a suppression of a native language and corresponding culture.

About the general sociology of keyboards: interesting. About me as a hunt-and-peck typist: not hardly! I believe the records show that I am the fastest touch-typist in the world. Unfortunately not the most accurate, as recipients of my correspondence know. Still it becomes subtly annoying when most of the keys you are hitting are blank. I didn't order this new keyboard. More on its origin and fate later on.

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