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現代【淡淡幽情】

得知本網站才女作者錢謙謙小姐去年生活和工作比較忙,花在作詩作詞的時間比以前少多了。日前我邀請她發送了一些去年的作品我看看。結果發現不少佳句。一時興起,隨意重新創作了一首歌詞,歌名是《現代淡淡幽情》。”現代”?當然啦!錢才女年輕有為,文化內涵豐富,她確實能代表現代。同時希望大家也喜歡這首歌詞。

架子鼓

現代樂器之一:架子鼓

《現代淡淡幽情》

(獨白)庭院深深,深在閨閣中。
遙望明月寄相思。
有些事, 不曾完。
有些人, 從未忘。

月清漸寒,單衣立窗前。
憑闌意,億往事。
更深夜、不歸眠。
心事千百層。

庭院深深,深在閨閣中。
遙望明月寄相思。
有些事, 不曾完。
有些人, 從未忘。

一日十二時, 時時寄情,話無語。
五更三四點,點點成愁,睡無眠。
流情不盡淚難乾。
約歸期? 總是盼又盼。

《間奏》

(獨白)情深緣淺,往事成追憶。
難得天涯好知己。
如浮雲,憑誰寄。
望早還,心上人。

情深緣淺,往事成追憶。
難得天涯好知己。
如浮雲,憑誰寄。
望早還,心上人。

一日十二時, 時時寄情,話無語。
五更三四點,點點成愁,睡無眠。
流情不盡淚難乾。
約歸期? 總是難又難。
總是難又難。

电子管风琴

現代樂器之二:电子管风琴

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Dirty Words

Last week I poked fun at a school in Hong Kong that gave a vocabulary test to its 9th graders that most native English speakers would not do well on. I surely did not. Just a few days later, the Trump administration gave an edict to its agencies to not use certain words in next year’s budget. The forbidden terms are: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based and science-based. ForbiddenWord(No, these are not swear words, although I can say a few now about this strange and unprecedented order.)

Back to my concern of foreign kids learning English, I wonder if the examiners for Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) are all evangelicals who are members of the Trump cult, and therefore will voluntarily avoid using them in the exam. They probably are not. Funny enough, now that these seven words have stood out in front of the whole nation all of a sudden, I think it may be a good idea to know them for exam purposes.

Here’s a word to high schoolers, both domestic and foreign. Despite my subtle dig at the don of the white mansion, these words are commonly used in formal writing as well in casual conversations, so they are quite useful and worth knowing. Kids, you need to learn them. Those extra points may just get you into an ivy league school in the US.

1. Vulnerable: easily hurt
2. Entitlement: a right
3. Diversity: the state of having different types
4. Transgender: a transsexual or transvestite person
5. Fetus: an unborn human or animal
6. Evidence-based: not a real word, but a contraction of the verb phrase “based on evidence”
7. Science-based: not a real word, but a contraction of the verb phrase “based on science”

*** The End ***

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宝岛台湾之旅(之三)

与阿里山、日月潭相比,野柳也许没有那么高的知名度。但是我近日亲临其境之后却要说:野柳的景色之奇、之特、之美,以及受到游客青睐、热捧的程度,绝不亚于阿里山和日月潭。1

野柳地质公园位于台湾基隆市西北方约15公里处,是突出海面的岬角,长约1700米,由于海蚀风化及地壳运动等作用,造成了海蚀洞沟、蜂窝石、烛状石、豆腐石、覃状岩、壶穴等绵延罗列的地质奇特景观。2
蓝色的海面,雪白的浪花,多彩的礁石,构成了一幅幅迷人的图画。3
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惊涛拍岸,浪击飞舟!5
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大自然的造化,让人们懂得了什么叫做美。11
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尽管小雨淅淅沥沥,游客依然熙熙攘攘。22
来吧,来一张集体自拍,把野柳和大海的美景留下。23
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我在野柳留个影吧😊25
大自然的鬼斧神工,造就了奇景无数。这是著名的“女王头”,野柳地质公园的象征。26
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像什么?请你自己去想象。28
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鞋印?鱼的化石?30
开口笑?31
多少年的风吹日晒、雨淋浪击和海水侵蚀?32
风景如画33
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这个雕像叫林添桢,为了救一名落海学生而英勇献身。38
在台湾期间,我们还参观了台北故宫、士林官邸公园、国父(孙中山)纪念馆、101大厦等处。39
台北故宫有藏品180万件,其中珍贵藏品168多万件,占全国博物馆系统珍贵文物的百分之四十二,全部展完需要数百年。40
台北故宫镇宫之宝——翠玉白菜。41
台北故宫镇宫之宝一——肉形石。42
台北故宫镇宫之宝——毛公鼎。43
士林官邸公园44
国父纪念馆45
台北101大厦46
基隆港夜景47
结束宝岛台湾之行,我们从基隆港乘坐邮轮启程返厦。48

经过一夜航程,回到厦门温暖的家。49

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宝岛台湾之旅(之一)

宝岛台湾之旅(之二)

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Are you smarter than a 9th grader?

My good friend S forwarded me the following vocabulary test:

9 grade1

According to the source who sent S this test, it was a real test for some 9th graders in a school in Hong Kong. Hong Kong, although an English colony for about 100 years before 1997, is a Chinese territory now. So for 99% of the kids there, English is a second language to them.

9 grade2

When I first saw those words, my reaction was: OMG, I’ve been in an English-speaking country for 40-some years, and I barely recognize about 90% of the words, let alone defining them correctly in a hurry. For whatever it’s worth, I even have two advanced graduate degrees.

Possible conclusion #1: I must be a real bad student. I probably scraped through school like Dunno Chump did. That would logically explain my limited vocabulary.

Possible conclusion #2: The teacher who wrote this test has a rare photographic memory and he or she was trying to intimidate the children by “proving” them “dumb.” (And in the process showing the school administrators and, more importantly, the parents who probably paid high tuition to send their children to that school, how “smart” he/she was.)

Possibility #3: The teacher was a cheat. He or she just randomly picked the words from a dictionary, even those words that were unknown to him/her. If the teacher was clever, he/she would cover the tracks by studying the words before the test was given to the kids.

Did you know most of the words? Did you see the value in a test like this?

My personal response is NO and NO. I told my friend S that the last word on the list, “unsightly,” was ironically an appropriate adjective for a ridiculous exercise like this. Supposedly this test was given at an “elite” school in Hong Kong. So obviously regurgitation (repetition and memorization without understanding, association, or application) of new knowledge is thrived upon on this campus. If you as a parent want your child to achieve an artificially high test score in Hong Kong, this will be an “excellent” school for your youngster. But woe is your poor kid! Unless he or she has an exceptional memory, that type of learning experience will be one heck of a cruel and excessive punishment just for the original sin of being born to tiger parents!

If you are the English teacher who gave that test, I have a suggestion for you which may make your job even easier and more impressive: Divide into 10 parts, alphabetically, the unabridged Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary, or any
established dictionary. Have the 1st graders learn the 1st tenth of the unassociated words, the 2nd graders the 2nd tenth, so on so forth. There are about a quarter of a million distinct English words, excluding inflections, technical terms and regionalisms. So you force-feed your students 25,000 words a year. In 10 years they will have been exposed to almost all the possible words in the English language. Even if they only retain 10% of them, that’s still an impressive 25,000 words. In their 11th and 12th grades, these super kids can spend their after school hours to be intern lexicographers at one of the major dictionaries.

I have to go now. It’s time to hit the dictionaries so that in a year or two I’ll start talking and writing like a 9th grader in Hong Kong!

*** The End ***

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Family of Travelers

Thanksgiving was on Nov 23 this year. It came and went of course. Since I live by myself, I had no plan to cook and eat a ten-pound turkey alone. But my sister M and her husband J invited me over to their house that Thursday. Their children came home that weekend. My other sister and her daughter were there too. The hosts cooked up a feast. We had seafood, beef, and thanks to a generous mutual friend, a big gobbler!

I am not much of an occasion person. I would have forgotten my own birthday if my nice children have not reminded me how old dad was getting year after year. But I do love going to family gatherings. This past Thanksgiving, seeing my sisters and their families was the big treat. Well, the wine and lobsters helped too:)

TravelI am a single father with two boys. The older one lives in Boston, his younger brother in Sri Lanka. I think he is there now sipping their famous black tea but I am not sure. For a while he was in a temple somewhere in India meditating. He told me after three weeks of missing in communication, even in cyberspace. Before that he was in Nepal, gazing at the tops of the Himalayas, from a base camp that was 12,000 feet above sea level itself. For the last few months, he has been living in a single backpack around the world. He should be home in another six months or so, or sooner when he runs out of money.

When I told people about my “transient” child, they seemed excited and surprised at the same time. Frankly, hearing his decision to do that a few months ago, I was surprised too. But I should have seen it coming.

Even since our children were in pre-school, their mother and I used to take them camping, riding the trains, going out of state to see national parks and historic places they had studied at school. My personal favorite is the nearby Yosemite National Park, which we must have visited together a dozen times. So I in fact knowingly sowed the seed of travel in their brains, and now they reap the benefits. In a good way, I hope.

Although I don’t celebrate customary or religious holidays on my own, I do enjoy the food and company they bring. So don’t forget to invite me if you are doing any. Even if you don’t, I honestly wish you a happy holiday season!

*** The End ***

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Going, going, we’re all going…

I am a “middle-aged” man in my sixties. From my mid-forties to just a few years ago, I attended a lot of weddings – mostly weddings of children of friends.

GoingThen I would go to a funeral once in a while. Lately the incidence seemed to have picked up. Some of these services were for the very same parents who invited me to their children’s weddings before.

I just learned that my friend W died a few days ago. W and another friend G and I go back more than thirty years. We would play a mahjong game together, and with their lovely spouses, once in a while. We would talk about our children’s health and education. We would shoot breeze about anything under the sun. We got so close that we even pulled some money together to do some small real estate investments. We made money on some. We lost money on some. But we always were up-front and honest with each other. We were good partners in big dreams.

G went first. He passed a few months ago. W is now gone. I wonder how long I’ve got before I join them for mahjong again.

I was very sick in 2014. When I woke up from unconsciousness after twenty some days, my muddled mind was humming one song over and over again: Amazing Grace. I never knew the lyrics of that song before although I must have heard it many times in funerals. But I didn’t mind that broken recorder in my brain. I actually liked it. I promised myself I would learn to sing it once I got out from those boring-as-hell hospitals. (I was in and out of three of them.)

I did learn to sing that song, with guitar chords to boot. In a few days I’ll sing it at W’s memorial, both for him and his family, for you and for me.

Amazing Grace
By John Newton, 1779

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I’m found. Was blind but now I see.
Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come.
It’s grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.
奇异恩典,何等甘甜,我罪已得赦免。
前我失丧,今被寻回,瞎眼重得再见。
When we’ve been here ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’ve first begun.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I’m found. Was blind but now I see.
Was blind but now I see…

*** The End ***

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Horndogs Running Amok

I can’t attribute it to one person who started it, but it seems like more and more women who have been sexually harassed by men are saying “Enough is enough!” and they are coming out in droves to expose the perpetrators. It is not a new problem. But it is a new phenomenon that women in the U.S. are finding courage to call out the men who abused them. Names include past presidents George H. HorndogsW. Bush, Bill Clinton, and sitting president Donald Trump. “Lesser-knowns” are Harvey Weinstein (movie producer) Roy Moore (former state judge and candidate for the US Senate), Al Franken (current US senator), Louise C.K (popular comedian), and the list goes on and on.

For reasons beyond me, most molesters, especially those preying on minors, are men. At least that is largely reported. However, the sickness of pedophilia is not limited to the male gender. Just this week, a female high school teacher in Canadian County, Oklahoma, was arrested and charged with statutory rape against a male student of her school. She already admitted to the crime to the police. Statutory rape is the crime of an adult having sex with a person under a certain age, even if the physical relationship is consensual. In Oklahoma, the protected age is up to 16. Some states go as high as 18.

I talk about this unpleasant topic with the danger of potential victims in mind. They are usually women working for powerful men, and children under the supervision of grown-ups. If you are an adult working for a wealthy and powerful boss, be aware of sexual overtures that cross your personal limit. Report them – to a lot of coworkers, sue them, or quit. A swift kick to the horny pig’s groin may also be good. If you are a parent of minor children, please, please teach them that it is NOT okay for an adult to go on a “date” with them, nor to allow them touching each other’s private parts. Encourage them to tell you right away if that ever happens.

If there is a silver lining to all these awful reports about sexual harassment lately, it is not to let these bad people get away with it any longer. Don’t brook them with their dirty behaviors, book them to the police!

*** The End ***

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为什么沙画艺术风靡中国?

普通的一捧黄沙,到了沙画大师手里,就变成了金沙,沙画表演,瞬间万变,同时沙画也是转瞬即逝的一种艺术,但其表演形式变化万千,具有极高的观赏价值。

泰山1

沙画是一门独特的艺术,就是艺术家在特制灯光沙画台上用一掬细沙、一双妙手,瞬间变化出种种图案,惟妙惟肖,绘出美丽动人的画面,一朝入画、梦回千年的沙画不仅仅是作画,更是艺术家与企业之间的的完美结合。

沙画和其他画种(国画,油画,版画等)不同,有着舞台表演的效果,使美术这种静态艺术变成动态的表演呈现,使沙画更富生命力,这是其他画种达不到的。沙画表演是宣传企业形象及展示品牌及产品量身打造的创意性节目。适合文艺晚会、各种酒会、新产品发布会、企业年会、客户答谢会、婚礼宴会、联欢会、庆典晚会、新闻发布会、终端会、开幕式闭幕式、文化节等活动的现场创意节目。

作品欣赏沙画风靡2
沙画风靡3
沙画风靡4
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Nasty Neighbors

A couple of weeks ago Rand Paul, a US Senator from Kentucky, was allegedly attacked by his immediate neighbor, Rene Boucher. Paul suffered a few broken ribs as a result of that physical assault. Boucher pleaded not guilty to the attack and the reason or reasons for the rage remain unclear.

Before I go on, I have to tell you a preconception of mine which was wrong. When I first heard the news, I thought it was just two “rednecks” dueling it out. As it turned out, Paul was an ophthalmologist before he became a politician, and Boucher a practicing anesthesiologist. So instead of going to medical school learning to save people, Paul decided to practice verbal boxing in the Senate, and Boucher replay the civil war with his neighbor.

Nasty NeigborJoking aside, I had — past tense — some bad experience with one of my neighbors too. No broken bones, but it was unpleasant still.

I bought my current house about 12 years ago. It is a small nondescript rancher. It is an old house, now about 100 years of age. When I bought it, it was in pretty bad shape. So I decided to spend some money fixing it. Part of the work was to build a concrete driveway leading to the garage in the back of the house. As a courtesy, I looked up my neighbor’s name in the public records, wrote them a letter telling them what was going to happen and asked them to pardon the noise and mess from the construction. I also said that the driveway would be built about 2 or 3 inches from an existing fence between our properties. They wrote back, the husband did, and told me that they did not agree with the assumption that the fence was the property line between our two houses, so they could not agree to my laying a new driveway that way. I was a little surprised. I sent them a second letter and said that they were welcome to prove where the property line should be if they gave me a surveyor’s report. I was being a little facetious in suggesting that because I knew they would not spend a few hundred dollars to win that improbable argument. They did not respond. After waiting for a few days, I gave my contractor the go-ahead with the driveway.

It took my contractor and his crew a couple of months to finish the remodeling. After they were done and gone, I went to the property one day to savor the finished product. The next step was to do some landscaping. I was standing in the weed-infested backyard trying to plan out what to do when I saw a plastic bag of something in the middle of it. I picked it up. It was a couple of pounds heavy. It did not smell good. It smelled like feces. I looked inside. It was dog poop. I think it was as I did not look any further. I tied it up and threw it into the garbage can.

Up to this day I have no proof who put that welcoming present there. I had my suspicion that it was the same neighbor who did not like my new driveway. I wanted to confront him about that many times over the years because he never showed much friendliness as a neighbor would toward a new comer. I figured that I was going to rent the place out after all the work was done. So why create an unnecessary confrontation, my passive brain told me.

I rented that house out shortly afterward. Over the years tenants came and went. Once in a while I would chit-chat with them, and sometimes I would casually ask them how they got along with the neighbor on the driveway side. The responses ranged from “OK, we don’t talk much” to “Not good, they aren’t very friendly people.”

Three years ago, because of personal reasons, I moved back into that house myself. My old tenants were right. That particular neighbor was not very friendly. The wife and I would exchange “hello” when we met in the front of the house. But the husband would not acknowledge my presence. So one day when I was in a fairly good mood and saw him alone in front of house I said “Hi, Tom!” (Not his real name.) He returned my greeting and said “Hi, Cam!” Son of a gun, he actually knew my name.

A few weeks later, he knocked at my door and reminded me that the headlights of my old VW were on. After 12 years, Tom and I finally became friends, sort of. We haven’t invited each other over for beer yet. But I am happy to be where we’ve come so far.

*** The End ***

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How would you like to be remembered?

If you are a fan of Stephen King’s, here is a real-life mystery for you. In Alexandria, Virginia, in a graveyard called St. Paul’s Cemetery, there is an unnamed gravestone with this inscription:

To the memory of a Female Stranger whose mortal sufferings terminated on the 14th day of October 1816 Aged 23 years and eight months. This stone was placed here by her disconsolate Husband in whose arms she sighed out her latest breath, and who under God did his utmost to soothe the cold dull hour of death.

Some amateur historians and Sherlock Holmes wannabes think the body now six feet under belongs to Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of Aaron Burr. Some even have seen her ghost walking the grounds, so they claimed. Since her death, her grave and the cemetery have become a tourist spot of sorts. The irony here is that if whoever buried her left a name on the tombstone, no one would have paid much attention to it. So if you want to be remembered for a long time, don’t leave a name behind.

Grave of the Female Stranger

Grave of the Female Stranger

How would I like to be remembered?

I don’t know for sure, to be honest. It really doesn’t matter, because not too many people outside of my immediate family and small circle of close friends would want to remember this blindingly ordinary man anyway. I do know how I want to be buried, however. Before I get to that, let me digress for a moment and tell you how one of my brothers-in-law — and a close friend — was buried. His name was Eddy. He died a few years ago of cancer. Before his passing, he made the wish to his wife and daughter that he wanted to be cremated and his ashes put in a flowing stream. I was at the “burial” which was held at a quiet brook among some remote hills in Taiwan. I can’t remember the name of that place, but the exceptional beauty and peace of that ceremony will stay with me for a long time.

I am not poetic like Eddy. I’ve jokingly told my two kids ever since they were young boys how old dad would want to be disposed of. It’s a practical approach, a minimal approach, if you would. Land is premium in the San Francisco Bay Area. Cemetery sites are even more so. I know: I sold them for a couple of years when I was a struggling real estate agent. Business-wise, it was an easy sales job. Customers don’t dicker much on burial lots. I stopped doing that because of my mom. Mom was a Buddhist at heart, and she did not feel comfortable that her son was making money “off the dead” 赚死人钱是不吉的, she told me once. I didn’t agree with her. But out of respect for her, I stopped carrying that side line. I told my sons a few times, and I am saying that again: cremation. Find a corner in your backyard, if you can stand me still (bad pun intended), and put my ashes in an urn there. Underground of course, so that the raccoons and skunks wouldn’t use me as a pillow. I don’t mind nature, but only if they take showers once in a while. Oh, make sure you tell your young children where grandpa is so that they won’t pee on me when they are in a hurry. Got it, boys?

Now your turn: How would you like to be remembered?

*** The End ***

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