Everyday sports in China

October 8th, 2010

This set of Chinese Nike advertisements were made for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and require no language to be understood.

Alone in Her Beauty

June 25th, 2010

Maintaining my proficiency in Mandarin has been a constant challenge. Instead of taking structured classes I have been trying to find ways to at least maintain what I have already learned. I am grateful that Vancouver’s great population of Mandarin speakers has given me opportunity to use the language in everyday life. One challenge I have experienced is that most of the Mandarin speakers I meet have a better English vocabulary than my Chinese vocabulary. It is only natural for people to default to the most descriptive of shared languages so that opinions and stories are more likely to convey their intended meaning. In these situations, English clearly remains the default language and highlights one of the benefits of learning in an immersion environment.

While looking for inspiration on ways to overcome such challenges, I found a Wikibook called “how to learn a language. One good piece of advice is to listen to audiobooks in your target language. So where does an English-speaker find Chinese audiobooks? A link to the free audiobooks at LibriVox of works in the public domain brought me to discover poems Tang Dynasty (618-907); specifically a work compiled in 1763 called Three Hundred Tang Poems (唐詩三百首).

To practice my pronunciation, I have been listening to a poem called 佳人 (Alone in Her Beauty) by 杜甫 (Du Fu). It helps to have a copy of the poem to read at the same time. So I have prepared a version in Simplified Chinese that I found online and added pinyin for anyone like me that would find it helpful.

佳人 (Alone in Her Beauty)

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[Download MP3 | English Translation]

绝代有佳人, 幽居在空谷。
juédàiyŏujiārén, yōujūzàikōnggŭ

自云良家子, 零落依草木。
zìyúnliángjiāzĭ, língluòyīcăomù

关中昔丧乱, 兄弟遭杀戮。
guānzhōngxīsāngluàn, xiōngdizāoshālù

官高何足论, 不得收骨肉。
guāngāohézúlùn, bùdéshōugŭròu

世情恶衰歇, 万事随转烛。
shìqíngwùshuāixiē, wànshìsuízhuănzhú

夫婿轻薄儿, 新人美如玉。
fūxùqīngbó’ér, xīnrénměirúyù

合昏尚知时, 鸳鸯不独宿。
héhūnshàngzhīshí, yuānyāngbùdúsù

但见新人笑, 那闻旧人哭。
dànjiànxīrénxiào, nàwénjiùrénkū

在山泉水清, 出山泉水浊。
zàishānquánshuĭqīng, chūshānquánshuĭzhuó

侍婢卖珠回, 牵萝补茅屋。
shìbìmàizhūhuí, qiānluóbŭmáowū

摘花不插发, 采柏动盈掬。
zhāihuābùchāfā, căibăidòngyíngjū

天寒翠袖薄, 日暮倚修竹。
tiānháncuìxiùbáo, rìmùyŭxiūzhú


October 15th, 2008

I live in a building that is a cross between a dormitory and an apartment. In 2007 I kept my food in my room for safety until I found a mouse in my room. Then I kept most of my things in cupboards in the shared kitchen. At least 30 people have access to the kitchen; furthermore, anyone can enter the building (and the kitchen) without a key. Only the bedrooms are securely locked. In the past year my dishsoap has disappeared three times and an occasional fork or spoon was taken, but today I lost some significant items.

All my dishes are gone: bowls, plates, and plastic containers. My most useful frying pan and a small saucepan. Several other convenience items and foods are missing. It’s not surprising that a thief would remove locks, but this thief takes the time to put the locks back!

Until I have a solution, the floor of my small room is littered with cooking equipment. Foods that a mouse would enjoy must remain in the kitchen. I met a neighbour while I was taking things back to my room and he says he’s lost cooking oil, dishes, and other items. Someone here is robbing from all of us. Even if I could cook, I don’t have anything left to eat from.

International Mouse

September 28th, 2008
Cat sleeping with toy mouse

Cat sleeping with toy mouse (Flickr photo by Artiii, Creative Commons).

I’m afraid that my food will be stolen. My new neighbour is rude and loud… probably a thief too. A mouse is now living in the wall beside my bed. 哎呀! This is the second time I’ve had this kind of neighbour since I moved to the International House in Halifax.

我有点儿害怕我食物被偷。我新邻居很无礼,很响亮。。。想他也是小偷。一个老鼠现住在床边的墙里。哎呀!从我搬家到哈利法克斯的International House公寓,这是第二次我有这样的邻居。

Update: The building owner arrived with poison today. No one had told him about the mouse, but his timing was perfect. Problem solved? I hope so! Friends with cats are especially invited to visit anytime.

Hanoi Traffic

June 10th, 2008

Breathtaking and beautiful time-lapse video of skilled drivers and pedestrians navigating an uncontrolled intersection in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Hanoi crazy night traffic from v!Nc3sl4s on Vimeo.

Bangkok: Market + Train

December 4th, 2007

看,很有意思! 在泰国,一辆火车经过市场。

A train passes through a market in Bangkok, Thailand.

Watch this one through to the end… it’s a pop-up market on a train track in Thailand. Amazing.

(touque tip: Boing Boing)