Friday, December 29, 2006

年尾趕交貨 / Year-end Rush


In the last few years, I usually took the days between Xmas and New Year off. However, I could not afford it this year because of my own commitment and not because of my boss' expectation. I plan to take March off to travel to Europe and do a marathon and would like to start work early so I will not have to rush at the end of February.

下雪了 / Skier's Delight


終於下雪了!!!一個滑雪者的願望,豐雪 :)

Finally, it's snowing !! A skier's delight - Let's have more of the white stuff :)

禮物盒日 / Boxing Day


初來加拿大,真以為聖誕之後一日,就是「打Boxing」拳擊日,後來才知道是和聖誕禮物盒有關。十二月二十六日仍是假期,但很多公司都以這星期作為Boxing Week Sale,所有貨物都有減價和折頭,商場顧客擠擁。我沒有什么需要,也就不去爭購。反正埾誕太商業化,就失去了原本節日的意思。

When I first came to Canada, I thought that "Boxing Day" was really a day for punching each other out as opposed to dealing with the gifts. Anyway, December 26th is still a holiday and many retail stores are using the Boxing Week to sell goods at great discount prices. The stores are full of bargain hunters but I am not one of them because I simply do not need anything. I do find that the true meaning of X'mas is lost when the whole thing becomes too commercialized.

第34街的奇蹟 (1947) / Miracle on 34th Street (1947)


火鳮已入焗爐裡,又凖備放DVD入机 "第34街的奇蹟 Miracle on 34th Street",每年都有看這1947年拍的黑白片,可能是先入為主的關係,總覺得新拍的不及原片好。雖然外面沒有雪,但屋內卻有節日氣氛。

The turkey is in the oven and I am ready to put the DVD with the move "Miracle on 34th Street" into the machine. Every year, it has almost become a tradition that I see this 1947 black and white movie. Perhaps I am biased, I do like the original one better than those made later. Well, there is definitely a festal atmosphere inside the house even though there is no snow outside.

Monday, December 25, 2006

母親與孩子 / Mother and Child

這幅塗鴉之作,或許有中西合璧的意思,左边是國会,右面是龍柱,母親的旗袍上有鳳凰,孩子穿的,是這裡常見的小童衫,十字架有點宗教意味,那烏鴉或許是代表死亡或疾病,人物和整體來說都是相合的。我從未有拜師,業餘图畫手筆,請不要見笑, 祝各位新年愉快 !!!!

This picture is just a doodling with a mix of east and west elements: On the left is the Parliament building, the right a column with a carved dragon. Embroiled on the mother's chi-pao is a phoenix. The child wears an outfit that is quite common in Canada for kids. The cross might have religious implication and the raven is perhaps a symbol of death and illness. In that sense, the people and objects are all complementary to each other. I have never taken any art lessons, so please excuse the amateurish look. Bonne Année !!!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

冰雨 / Freezing Rain

(Chinese version of "冰雨 / Freezing Rain" posted on Dec 23 2006)

Last Friday, I was the last one leaving the office. Before I left, I sent out an electronic card to my colleagues and workers in the regions, thanking them for their support in 2006. As I said a few articles back, many organizations were discouraging exchange of gifts, so an electronic card was the most straight forward and simplest. As I exited the office building, the temperature dropped from +23 inside to -1 degree outside. It was drizzling and the rain blurred the neon-light signs from across the street. For an instant I thought I was back in Hong Kong on Nathan Road shopping and preparing for my trip to study overseas. The traffic light changed from green to yellow and the impatient pedestrians who tried to go around me on both sides soon brought me back to reality. I pulled my hat down to my eye brows, pulled the collar up to my chin, took a deep breath of cold air, and merged myself into the tide of homeward bound workers on Christmas Eve.

Upon arriving at the home doorstep, the temperature was still hovering around -1 to -2 degrees. The light shower had turned into freezing rain that coated the sidewalk and the street with about half-an-inch of ice. Under the street light, the water crystals shimmered in the cold air. My neighbors who had come home before me were all sitting around the fireplace having their supper. I could hear the faint laughter through the window frame. Once inside the house, I did not bother to take off my jacket but went straight down to the basement to the spot where my father had used to keep his odds and ends. For years, my father had been the one hanging up the Christmas lights and ever since his death, there had been no decoration outside. For whatever reason, I decided to find and hang up the Christmas lights myself this year, in his absence.

The freezing rain was still coming down but it started to peter out. I stood next to the window, looking at the Christmas lights my father had left behind. The string of decorative lights twinkled in the cold winter air, just like old time. I sipped a mouthful of hot tea to warm myself up and thought to myself: "This seems like a new beginning."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

冰雨 / Freezing Rain

(英譯 English version posted on Dec 25 2006)




Friday, December 22, 2006

白色聖誕 / White Christmas


This year's weather is really strange, maybe it has something to do with Global Warming, We are four days away from Christmas and yet the temperature is still around zero degree and the thin snow on the ground has all disappeared. This morning, I even saw a few Canadian geese hanging around instead of flying south. In this northern country, the absence of snow during Christmas really hampers the festival spirit. Until the snow flies, customers will not rush out to do more shopping and children will not be able to build snow castles and snowmen. Normally by this time in December, I would have already started my skiing. But with such warm weather, my ski boots and skis will just have to wait till the temperature gets colder.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

街頭露宿者的心声 / Homeless Man Speaks

Yesterday, I read an article on the Globe and Mail about the blog by Philip and Tony of Toronto. Philip, who has a MBA from Harvard and teaches a computer science course at the University of Toronto, met Tony near a coffee shop. Tony once had a family and his last job was a driver. Unfortunately, he was laid off and his wife passed away about seven years ago. His children could not take care of him and without income, he ended up living on the street. However, even as Tony's age approaches 60, he is strong as ever. He has his integrity and way of looking at the world and the necessary will and wisdom to survive in the harsh Canadian environment, especially when night temperature could dip to 20 or 30 degrees centigrade below zero.

In the blog "Homeless Man Speaks", Philip reports and sometimes interprets what Tony says. The rich text and pictures provide the readers with a good sense of Tony's view points as well as his stories about life on the street. For example, in one post, Philip asked Tony about his wish, and the latter responded: "I would have my wife back." In another, he was asked about his expectation of the blog's impact on the readers. He thought hard and replied that it was really important that the young people be brought up properly so they would not get into trouble later in life.

Dear friends, there are many homeless people in this world and I am not expecting that we will be able to help everyone of them. However, during Christmas and New Year, when we are together with our family and friends, I would suggest that we should appreciate what we have, how lucky we are, and think about the homeless people such as Tony.

Photo credit: Taken by Philip, please see the blog by Philip and Tony at

街頭露宿者的心声 / Homeless Man Speaks




相片: 「菲臘普」攝,請上他和「東尼」的網看全文

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

利益衝突 / Conflict of Interest

An Asian friend of mine, who had just moved to Canada not that long ago, asked me earlier today whether he needed to thank his boss and colleagues with gifts during the Christmas and New Year celebration. At first I thought he was just joking, but then the frankness in his eyes told me it was not a hypothetical question. He genuinely wanted to thank them !! In the Canadian work environment, the practice of giving and receiving gifts during festival season really put both parties into a difficult situation. Does it mean the recipient is therefore obliged to look after the other person's interests? Is the giver trying to exert undue influence? More seriously, does the transaction raise the suspicion of corruption? This is no joking matter. So, I quickly explained to my friend that if a close colleague is getting married or having a child, he could pool money with other co-workers to buy a gift. But avoid giving cash (so-called "unmarked bills") or sending a big gift privately. I advised him to reconsider carefully, drop this idea of giving out personal Christmas/New Year gifts, and instead, buy a box of good chocolates and share them with his boss and colleagues. This way, he would avoid getting into the embarrassing and difficult situation I had just described. From a human resources management policy perspective, good work values and ethics means free from both real AND perceived conflict of interest. The latter means a person's actions and behaviours should not put him/herself into a situation that could create the perception of a conflict. Perhaps some people might say this approach is cold and inhuman. However, a clear and transparent conflict of interest policy will have the positive result of protecting individual workers, the institution, the investors/stakeholders, and the society as a whole.

Chinese Version:
This English article is based on the Chinese version I wrote. To read the original, please click:

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

利益衝突 / Conflict of Interest

今天有一個從亞洲來了加拿大不久的朋友,他問我在這裡聖誕新年大節日,需不需要送禮給上司或同事,多謝他們這一年內,对他工作上的幫助。我起初以為他是說笑罷,但他誠懇的眼光告訢我,這不是一個他虛設的問題,他是真想多謝他們!! 在這邊的工作環境,過年過節送禮,令双方面都難做。受了禮的就是不是一定要「關照」对方?送禮的又是否在扯「關係」?嚴重的更会被疑是貪污行賄,不是開玩笑的。於是我忙告訢友人,工作單位內,相熟的人結婚,生兒女等,都可和其他人合送禮物,但不要送現金,和避免單对單,沒有第三者知道的大賀禮。我告訢他心思考慮,打消了這個聖誕新年送禮的念頭,倒不如買一盒上品的「巧克力」, 公開請上司同事共吃,那就避免踏入上述的尷尬困境。在人事管理政策的角度來看,廉政不單止是完全沒有利益衝突,而是要在行動舉止上,都不要自困於会被人懷疑的尷尬地步。或許有人說這是太沒有人情味,但這公私分明的政策,是有保謢個人、机構、投資者、和社会的作用。

English Version:
I have translated this complete article into English, please click here:

Monday, December 18, 2006

趙梅伯教授 / Professor Zhao Mei-bo

When I was young, I had the fortune of belonging to a mixed choir conducted by Professor Zhao Mei-bo. What I learnt during that short period of time was something that I find useful for the rest of my life. Even today, the image of this internationally renowned pioneer giving us his instructions, pointers and advice still live vividly in my memory. Of all the things he taught, including rhythms, breathing and basic singing techniques, what I found the most unforgettable was his teaching on the art of expressing emotions in our singing. As I mentioned in my exchange with some of you yesterday, human emotions come deep from the bottom of our hearts. They radiate from our inner core to the outside world. It does not matter what the objects of our passion are, be it musical instruments, songs, or literature, we must play, sing, or write with our inner emotions !!!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

趙梅伯教授 / Professor Zhao Mei-bo

年輕時,有机会參加一個在趙梅伯教授指揮之下的歌詠合唱團,時間雖短,但學到的卻是終生受用。這位國際音樂界老前軰,当年所指點、教導、和所說的,至今仍瀝瀝在目。隨學了柏子、呼吸、和基本的唱歌方法之外,留在我腦海最深刻的,就是怎樣放感情入唱的歌曲中。正如昨天回覆網友時談到,熱情是出在人的心底裡, 內向外的表示,不論我們喜愛的是樂器、歌曲、或文章,我們都彈、唱、或寫出一個感情來 !!!

(图片: 宁波日报/2005-09-26/王路)

Updated 20101229:
Here is one of the pubications written by The Professor

++++ Updated 20120130 +++++

Source: 國家文化資料庫 National Repository of Cultural Heritage

國家文化資料庫 系統識別號:0006045297
外文姓名:Chao Mei-Pa
1925年受教於英國男高音赫伯、凱夫﹙Mr. Herbert Cave﹚。
1926年受教於著名俄國歌劇家男低音賽利凡諾夫﹙Prof. P. Se1ivanoff﹚
1932年受聘於布魯賽爾聖樂社﹙Concerts Spirituals﹚ ,擔任華格納之﹙Parsifal﹚孟德爾桑的﹙Elijah﹚與亨利舒滋﹙Schutz Henri﹚ 的神曲中獨唱員,並任比京電台廣播公司獨唱員。
1932年在日內瓦音樂院舉行獨唱會,由其師維南先生擔任伴奏﹙Maurice Weynandt﹚。
1933年獲得布魯賽皇家音樂家聲樂頭獎、羅雷亞學位與愛爾乾獎金, 復求教於世界著名歌劇家安素﹙Ansseau﹚與克拉貝﹙Crabb'e﹚。
WEAF ﹚介紹中國音樂並演唱法國近代名曲與中國民歌。
1935年在巴爾的摩舉行盛大獨唱會,由T. Arthur Smith Bureau主辦、由施大使夫人、Peabody音樂院院長夫人、約翰、霍布金斯大學﹙John's Hopkins University﹚校長Wood夫人及Hans Kindler華盛頓交響樂團指揮夫人等四十餘位名媛贊助。
Holy City﹚「聖城」。
1964年高足李冰在英獲亞培尼獎﹙Albani Prize﹚
1971年於辛浦森大學﹙Simpson College﹚任聲樂與合唱主任
1972年應聲樂大師齊諾貝干﹙Gino Becchi﹚之請第二度赴歐
1976年當選「兩百年來美國著名公民 ﹙Notable Americans of the Bicentennial Era﹚
1976年擔任Mu Phi Epsilon聲樂獎金評判
1977年高足露絲‧韓得森﹙ Ruth Henderson﹚贏得加州音樂教師協會主辦全州高級聲樂比賽頭獎
1978年任教於福特希爾大學﹙Foothill College﹚
1983年演唱德布西的「有福的女郎」 ﹙La Damoiselle Elue﹚
1987年指揮台灣國家實驗合唱團首次演唱普朗克﹙Poulenc﹚ 「榮耀頌」
1991年南加州長堤州立大學主辦「An Afternoon with Prof. Chao Mei-Pa」
獎項:1975年當選美國全國「傑出教育家」﹙Outstandi月Educator ofmerica﹚
重要展演或作品發表紀錄:1932年著「黃鐘史」:La Cloche Jaune 法文版,由比京聯合大學出版社出版,並由法國利昆大學重版。
1935年巴爾的摩出版「黃鐘」﹙Yellow Bell﹚英文版

Saturday, December 16, 2006

內向与外向 / Introvert & Extrovert

In the North America work environment, it appears that the extroverts are in a slightly advantageous position than their introvert colleagues. I am basically an introvert, who enjoy the quiet nights, running alone in the wee hours of the morning, and skiing in the woods under the moonlight in the winter, when the snow is falling. But for work reasons, I spent a lot of efforts converting and refining my introvert personality to that of an extrovert. I now can comfortably go up to the stage to chair a meeting, analyze and articulate policies, address hundreds of guests, or shoot the breeze with total strangers. But deep inside, after taking off my work outfit, I am still the same voyageur, who enjoy the still of the night, jogging and skiing under the silvery moonlight.

Friday, December 15, 2006

內向与外向 / Introvert & Extrovert

在北美社会工作,在升職方面, 似乎外向的人,是比內向的同僚,処於較優的位置。其實我基本是內向的人,我喜愛夜靜,喜欢一個人凌晨跑步,冬夜白雪紛飛之際,在山林月光之下滑雪。但為了工作所需,費了不少功夫,把自己內向的性格,加工提煉,改變為「外向」。現在可以隨時上臺,主持会議,硏討政策,或向数百來賓致詞,或与素不相識的陌生人寒喧。但在我心底裡,脫了那工作外衣,我仍是那個喜欢夜靜,喜欢在那水銀瀉地的月光之下,跑步或滑雪的旅途者。

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thoughts on Global Competitiveness (Part 2) / 世貿竸爭 (下篇)


世貿的第二個基本問題,就是怎樣定斷每一個經濟中心發展轉變的速度。常聽聞市民關注,覺得應被保留的建築物和歷史遺物,都被投資者毀壞鏟平,以發展為名, 起了醜陋的大厦和停車場。支持保謢文物的人,就說發展實在太快,社会不應該只是經濟掛帥。但在投資者來看,除舊立新,是理所当然,發展越快就越好,保証不会在世貿市場,被淘汰出局。



Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Thoughts on Global Competitiveness (Part 1) / 世貿竸爭 (上篇)






Tuesday, December 12, 2006

愛情的分叉路 / What could have been .... ?



Monday, December 11, 2006

愛情的分叉路 / What could have been .... ?

I came across the picture of my first love when I was the least expecting it. I was doing some research and there it was, staring out of the page at me. The emotional impact was similar to dropping a stone into the middle of a peaceful and quiet pond: The concentric ripples could be felt right across the time span that links the past to the present and the stone just went straight to the bottom, stirring up all kinds of old memories.

As mentioned in a previous article, I thought I had put away literally my emotional luggage and everything had been under control. Life has reminded me once again that I am not the sole director. That night, I couldn't help but sobbed a little, not so much because of "What could have been ...?" but rather, of my reflection on the factors and circumstances at the time that inevitably would cause us to go our separate way in life. There is no self-rationalization or regret. As I look back at that juncture in life, I feel quite emotionally with a strong sense of wisdom gained, but innocence lost.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Thoughts on Global Competitiveness (Part 2)

Another thorny issue that often arises from the discussion on "Global Competitiveness" is about the pace of change. More specifically, people are concern that old heritage buildings and landmarks are being bulldozed over, only to be replaced by ugly high-rises and parking lots, all in the name of prosperity. The conservationists would argue that heritage loss is bad while the developers would say new development is good.

So, is the "new" always better than the "old"? This is almost like asking: "How much memory should I have?" As human beings, the reason why we survive is partly because we both remember and forget. The "remember" part is easy: We learn from the past, and build upon our experience. After all, civilization is mostly an accumulative process. The "forget" part is not as apparent but equally beneficial. Imagine if you have to make a decision and there are thousands of voices in your head from past generations and ancestors (not just your parents and spouse) telling you what you should or should not do. Or, if you can still feel vividly every little physical and mental pain you have since the day you were born. At some point, it is beneficial to be able to forget or at least to park part of our memory into storage. So, I would submit that whether a particular "heritage" item (building, landmark, etc) should be conserved or let go will depend very much on how much present AND future "value" (social-economic, cultural, environmental, geo-political, etc) the society is assigning to the said item in the bigger context of societal/human development and progress. As the words "heritage" and "value" are often defined subjectively if left unchecked, it is important that all stakeholders agree on the definitions and the decision-making criteria and process.

In closing, I would like to quote what the Chinese strategist Sun Zi said in 512 BC: "The wise leader will always think about benefit when he is in a risky situation, and risk when he is in a beneficial situation. Risk and Benefit are just like the Ying and the Yang; they come in pair and from within each other. They are not mutually exclusive and must be considered and balanced in the development and implementation of a strategy." I would suggest that the same principle applies equally well in 2006 AD when we talk about the 'good' and 'bad' of Global Competitiveness.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Thoughts on Global Competitiveness (Part 1)

In today's highly competitive global economy, every nation recognizes that "knowledge" is the engine for growth and prosperity (thus the term "knowledge-based economy"). Many leaders of developed countries are investing their future in key areas such as science and technology, business management, policy making/implementation, and international trade. Their approach is largely based on being at the right place, at the right time, and with the right people. Many learn from other countries and then add value to what they have learnt, thereby gaining an advantage over their competitors. For the country that originates a good idea, it should not just feel proud and contented but must continue to push the envelope further lest it be left behind.

Some people might suggest that we should not take a narrowly defined view of global competitiveness that creates win-loss situations between nations, especially at the expense of the developing and under-developing countries. The more liberal minded would suggest that human beings are all equal and that we should therefore cooperate rather than compete. After all, our difference is skin-deep (pun intended) and our universal human traits are more dominant than our cultural differences.

I do not disagree fundamentally with the "universal" view of humanity. Human being as a species does share a lot of commonalities across cultural divides. However, I would submit that healthy competition for a higher reward, be it the Olympic gold medal or the Nobel Prize, is good for our global village, as long as the ultimate benefits (e.g. eradication of small pox, research on AIDS and cancer) are being made available to many rather than just a few. The challenge is of course the choice of the primary reward system (e.g. profit) and the mechanism(s) by which the benefits are distributed to the rest of the world (e.g. multilateral trade). I will leave this challenge to my more learned friends in the micro- and macro-economic fields to explain and tackle.

(to be continued)

Friday, December 08, 2006

洗錢 \ Wasting Money

好几年前,父母親移民來加拿大不久,一日和他們逛亍,父親行過一間商店,突然止步,指著門口的招牌,以奇異的眼光对我說:「我相信加拿大人都是喜欢洗錢的罷。」我想想,不是呀,加拿大人,通常都不会將錢財揮霍浪費,我的朋友中,有那個人的手袋,價値是可以養活非洲一村人一個月的伙食呢?,「老竇」呀,您這話從何說起?正想回答之際,卻再細看那招牌,不覺啞囗無言,父親一點也沒有看錯, 廣告是明顯的說:『COIN WASH』

Several years ago, shortly after my parents had immigrated to Canada, we were window-shopping on the street one day when, all of a sudden, my father stopped in front of a shop, pointed at the front-door sign, and made a strange comment: "Canadians, they sure like to waste money." My immediate reaction was: "No, Canadians are generally frugal and I don't know anyone who owns a handbag that would cost enough money to feed a whole village in a developing country in Africa for a month. Where are you coming from, Dad?" But then, just as I was about to give him my two cents worth, I took a closer look at the sign, and was completely speechless. Sure enough, my father was right. The sign clearly said: "COIN WASH" which in Cantonese is the same pronunciation as "WASTING MONEY"

Thursday, December 07, 2006

天地人:策略概念 / Strategic Thinking: Heaven Earth People

In Chinese history, Heaven, Earth and People represented and defined the concept of the world of the Middle Kingdom, from the Emperor down to the ordinary peasants. Having heard my explanation of this feudal system concept, my Canadian born colleagues found the idea intriguing and suggested that the western society could borrow and apply this Heaven-Earth-People model to basic business management. Of course, they are not referring to the blind superstition of worshipping heaven and earth, but rather to the systematic approach to business strategy: the right time, the right place, and the right people. This is not really the first time that my colleagues learnt about and appreciated Chinese strategic thinking. I mean, if you go to the local bookstore and look under Business Management for, say, Sun Zi's "Art of War", you will probably find a dozen translated versions by different authours, who all attempt to dissect, analyze and apply the twenty-five thousand years old manuscript to modern use. However, out of the million of readers who read great classics such as the Art of War, Dream of the Red Chamber, the Floating World of Flowers and Mirrors, and secret manuscripts on martial art and Zen, there are only a hand-full of people who really appreciate the true meanings of these writings. As Sun Zi said circa 512 BC: "There are only five basic tones, but the variation of the five makes great music; there are only five basic colours, but the variation of the five makes great paintings." His point was that with the same five tones and colours, ordinary folks could only make lousy music and pictures and yet these same elements would create masterpieces in the hands of genius. Colleagues and friends here and abroad, I will conclude by saying that learning is a life-long journey and that we should strive to explore, learn and appreciate the richness of the thousands of years of history and culture.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

天地人: 策略概念 / Strategic Thinking: Heaven Earth People

在中國的歷史中,天地人,就是古代時期,上至君臣,下到庶民,他們所看到的整個世界及其定義。我前数天把這個舊的封建覌念,解釋給在加拿大長大的同事聽,他們聽後,大感興趣,認為今時今日的西方社会,仍可向中國歷史借鏡,應用「天地人」的原理,作為辦事之基本方法。他們所說的,当然不是拜天拜地的迷盲信仰,而是從天時、地利、人和的系統化策略角度來看。這也不是第一次我的同事,对中國的策略有接觸和認同。如果您到這裡的英文書局,在商業管理一欄看看,單是【孫子兵法】一書,就有不同的翻譯版本和作者,將這二千五百多年前的戰策,加以分析、研究、和應用。不過,無論是讀什麽書, 紅楼夢、鏡花緣、孫子兵法、武林秘笈、達摩禪修等,讀是一回事,真真正正能夠領悟到真理的人,就真是寥寥可数了。正如孫子在公元前五百多年說:『聲不過五,五聲之變,不可勝聽也。色不過五,五色之變, 不可勝覌也。』這就是為什麼,同樣的音調和顏色,在凡人手中,總是兒科音樂,塗鴉之作,但同樣的五音五色,在樂聖畫聖的手中,就成為朽世傑作!同事朋友們, 學無止境,数千年的歷史文化,我們還是要努力去深造,領悟其中奧妙!

自行車與我 ∕ Bicycle and Me

I mentioned in my previous article "Dream Maker" how I longed to own my bicycle when I was little. However, my family wasn't rich at the time. So, I used to just borrow my friend's tricycle and peddled up and down the long corridor of the apartment building. Boy, did I ever have fun !! When I grew older, my father earned a little bit more and we said goodbye to the nasty landlady who owned the little partitioned cubicle that we used to call home. Much to my delight, there was a bicycle rental place near our new residence. So I would rent a bike after school and played "cutting each other off" in the nearby empty parking lot with my neighbourhood friends. I wasn't the best, but not the worst either in terms of my skills. As to the idea of owning a bicycle, my father's response was still a disappointing "no" every time. Of course, after I entered secondary school, other teenager interests took over and the idea was in the backburner for quite a while.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

自行車與我 ∕ Bicycle and Me


冬至 / Old Man Winter

「冬天老人」終於在這裡駐腳了!上星期,天氣還是溫暖的十五度攝氏,但前数天,突然來了一場冰雨,城市由深秋的灰黃色,一夜之間,變成了白茫茫的一遍,氣溫也下降至零下五度左右俳佪。我們較年青的當然高興啦,因為滑雪、溜冰、冬天露營等的冬天活動季節開始了。苦了卻是那些上了年紀的,地上封了冰雪,寸步難行。我的母親也自閉在家,呆了兩整天。可幸城市的清雪工人,不分晝夜,剷了街上和行人路的積雪,又灑了鹽來溶解結了冰的地面,母親又可自由出入,我也小一點担心了。您或許会問: 為什麽這裡叫「冬天老人」,不叫「冬天阿婆」呢?那我就不知道了。

"Old Man Winter" is finally here to stay! Last week, the weather was a nice +15 degree C. Then several days ago, we were hit by freezing rain. Overnight, the city changed its colour from a late autumn kind of yellowish grey to pure white. The temperature too dropped and hovered around -5 degree C. Of course, (relatively) young folks like us were just jumping with joy; it's the beginning of another season of skiing, skating, winter camping and other winter activities. Unfortunately, "Old Man Winter" was bad news for the older folks, who could hardly walk on the ice and snow covered roads. My mother basically locked herself up for two whole days. Lucky for her and other seniors, the city's snow crew worked hard days and nights, removed the accumulated precipitation off the streets and sidewalks, and sprinkled salt to melt the icy surface. Finally, much to my relief, my mother was able to go out again. Now, you might ask: Why do people say "Old Man Winter" and not "Old Woman Winter"? That, I must say I don't know.

Monday, December 04, 2006

『幸福的六年』 / My Son Autumn Snow 秋雪 - A Life of Six Years

I heard of the song and story about "Autumn Snow" the first time when I was visiting Christie's blog site. I am not keen on supporting commercial advertisements but do find this particular song special and meaningful and the words not commercialized or tasteless. I am therefore taking the liberty of providing the readers with the following information for consideration, with the hope that the broadcast song will help us better appreciate and understand the short but treasured six-year life of "Autumn Snow". My concluding thoughts: Life and time are precious and must not be wasted.

Here is the website where you can find the advertisement song of the Life Insurance Company 明治安田 in Japan:

If you are searching for the words of the song and other related information about the "Treasured Six Years", please visit Christie's blog site:

Sunday, December 03, 2006

『幸福的六年』 / My Son Autumn Snow秋雪 - A Life of Six Years

我在這邊,還是第一次聽到這首有關「秋雪」的歌和故事,資料是從博友Christie 那処找來。我通常都不支持商業性的廣告,但發覺這廣告歌很特別,什有人情味,曲詞也不是商業化,庸俗之流,故將資料排列轉載如下,供各人參考,估計播放了之後,讀者对「秋雪」短暫但幸福的六年生命,有一個更深的認識。想到: 生命和光陰,我們都是要珍惜的!



Saturday, December 02, 2006

Megan Williams / 美勤、威廉斯

Several months ago when I was in Italy attending a book-club function, I happened to meet Ms. Megan Williams, a Canadian journalist who now lives in Rome. Megan grew up in Toronto and graduated from McGill University in Montreal. She was awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Fellowship and furthered her journalism study at Columbia University in the United States. Megan (whose first name in Chinese is pronounced as beautiful美 and hard-working勤) is well known to the international media and her work has been published in many newspaper, including the South China Morning Post in Honk Kong and the Globe and Mail in Canada. You can also find recordings of her great work by several international broadcasting corporations in North America and Europe on the website. Her written articles and audio recordings also cover happenings in Africa, the Balkans, and Italy. She especially likes to write about Italian culture, politics, economics and everyday life stories. I enjoy tremendously her recent book "Saving Rome" in which there are nine short stories about ex-pat women living in Rome, each depicts a transient life in the Eternal City.

(Credit: Pictures and info from

Friday, December 01, 2006

美勤、威廉斯 / Megan Williams

我上早幾個月,在羅馬偶遇到一個加拿大的寫作家,名叫美勤、威廉斯。她是在Toronto多倫多長大,在滿地可McGill University大學畢業,跟著接受了Pulitzer Fellowship獎學金,在美國Columbia University哥倫比亞大學讀新聞寫作。這位美勤的才女,文筆和創做力什佳,有好幾間大的報紙和傳媒界也登了她的大作,例如:香港南華早報,加拿大的Globe and Mail等。在北美和歐洲的電臺網絡,也有記錄了她書寫或閱讀有關非洲,巴爾幹半島,和意大利的文化、政治、經濟、和日常生活之感想。我最近讀了她的近作『Saving Rome救援羅馬』,甚欣賞她寫有關九個女人,住在羅馬的故事,永恒的古城,短暫的人生。

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Top Five: International Business / 國際事務五項

1. 以本地方法或策略,搬上國際「戲臺」,後果当然欠佳。
2. 机構內政和外政不調和,有衝突或矛盾,令本地和外地業務行政均受影響。
3. 在人事管理方面,沒有國際事務專家,或可靠之外地「中間人」和外客打交道。
4. 未能護衛智慧產權,被外客灠用或複造。
5. 不明白外國之法制系統、工業組織、官方和非官方之談判過程,及其它國際事務細節。

1. Apply domestic methodologies or strategies to overseas operations and wonder why the results are poor.
2. Internal and external policies are not harmonized, resulting in serious conflicts that affect the domestic and international agenda and operations.
3. In terms of human resources management, fail to hire reliable international experts or "old hands" to act as "go-betweens" for the organization and foreign clients.
4. Inadequate protection of intellectual properties which end up being used in contravention of license agreements or being pirated outright by foreign associates.
5. Do not have sufficient knowledge and working experience with foreign legal systems, sectoral structures, official and un-official negotiation processes, and other fine points in the management of international affairs.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Top Five: Managing Science & Technology / 科技管理五項

1. 人事管理不善,有經驗之科技人員,对机構信心大失。
2. 受政治或經濟「短視」之影響,未能以足夠之人力物力,支持較長期性之科技項目。
3. 科技政策未能與机構之投資計劃吻合,形成半拉半推之不平衡狀態。
4. 未能護衛智慧產權,科技生產前途堪慮。
5. 沒有明確之政策方針,科技部「閉門做車」,與顧客和市場需求脫了節。

1. Poor human resources management resulting in loss of trust from senior and experienced science and technology (S&T) personnel.
2. Funding for long-term S&T projects are cut in favour of short-term political or economic gains.
3. There is a mismatch between the S&T policy and the organization's investment plan, resulting in a push-and-pull type of situation.
4. The future of the organization's S&T products is jeopardized because of inadequate protection of intellectual property (IP) rights.
5. Without clear policy direction, the gap between what the S&T personnel do and what the market and customers want widens.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Top Five: Policy-making in Organizations / 机構立政五項

(1) 基本分析工作不足, 目的和需求不清楚,令至選立的政策不善,或根本是藥不对症。
(2) 立政之前,沒有清楚解釋,或與受政策影響之人仕團體交談, 政策推行之日,羣眾嘩然,反对和拒絕合作,机構內部醖釀局面。
(3) 由於沒有足夠的人力物力去支持,或因其它因素,立成的政策遭遇實行的困難, 變了「紙上談兵」。
(4) 机構內部有意見分歧或矛盾, 不能言行一致,原本緊密的政策,開始發生漏洞。
(5) 政策沒有明顯的「責任框架」, 詳細表明怎樣才算成功, 什麼就是失敗,机構內誰人負責, 政策何時「日落」或「重申」等項目。

(1) Need assessment and policy objective are poorly articulated in the diagnostique and analysis work, thereby resulting in a policy that is less than adequate or even not applicable.
(2) There is a lack of communications/consultations with the people or groups that will be impacted by the policy. When the policy comes into effect, these people become upset and refuse to cooperate, which leads to a crisis situation.
(3) People and/or financial resources allocated to the launching and implementation of the policy are insufficient to assure success. This and other factors may cause the policy to remain just a paper exercise.
(4) There is a sharp division of opinions or irreconcilable conflicts within an organization over the policy. Without consistent and cohesive support, the well-meant policy begins to fall apart.
(5) There is no accountability framework that clearly defines success/failure (i.e. performance measures or indicators), roles and responsibilities of the parties involved, and specific target dates (including policy sunset/renewal).

Monday, November 27, 2006

Top Five: Human Resources Management / 人事管理五項

1. 有很多机構,老闆对傢俬,比对僱員還重要。
2. 與顧客接觸最多的,就是最「黑口黑面」的。
3. 內部鬥爭,各自為己。
4. 人事計劃不存在,與机構的三至五年長期計劃方針脫節。
5 下情不能上達,好意見不受重用,上層與僱員脫節。

1. Some organization invests more in their furniture than employees.
2. Those in the front-line dealing with customers are the least client-oriented.
3. Internal office politics create silos and an unhealthy work environment.
4. There is no human resources planning to complement the organization's 3- to 5-year strategic plan.
5. Decision-makers and employees are not communicating, good ideas remain unused and there is an organizational disjoint vertically.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


剛剛讀完了 Mad DogRuth 寫關於現代夫婦關係的文章。我認為康希牧師在新加坡指出的, 是兩人之間精神和情感上的分離,只有夫妻之名,而無夫婦之實,他提醒教會成員, 不要失去了婚姻的神聖定義,淪至如中國人所謂「同床異夢,貎合神離」的地步。

上述的分離,卻與因經濟、工作、或其它原因而分離的情况不同,雖然痛苦的情度或許是一樣,但前者是婚姻破裂問題,後者是双方理智的選擇。當然,歷史亦有許多受環境所迫,沒有選擇餘地的分離。例如許多在1900年代過來的「金山阿伯」,在加拿大1923-1947 Chinese Exclusion Act 拒華入境法律的二十四年間,就不能與妻子兒女見面。有部分幸運的就終能與他們的配偶和孩子團聚,但有很多就孤零零的客死異鄉, 困窮到屍骸骨頭都沒有人料理,被政府草草地葬在公墳,無名地埋沒了在「金山」之下。

在今時今日的社會, 我認為精神和情感上的分離,是可以在宗教或愛的大前題下進行「搶救」的。因經濟、工作、或其它原因而分離的,我想仍是個人理智的選擇。無論在自己控制之內或之外,分離總是一件痛苦的事。不過, 我們既是現代歷史的一部分,就要以現代人的方法和眼光去解决上述的分離問題。在加拿大落根的,也就要加上學習上一代華人的辛酸史。在這方面來說,我們除了宗教,也要相信自已的獨立和信賴能力,把眼光放遠一點,以積極的想法,希望一個較好的將來。時代流轉,我們今天分離的感受,也就是明天告給後人的故事了。

Saturday, November 25, 2006

同床異夢,貎合神離 / Same Bed Different Dreams, Same Togetherness Different Destinations

I read the articles written by both Mad Dog and Ruth regarding modern-day couples. I think Rev. Kong Hee康希牧師 in Singapore was referring to the loss in spirituality and meaning of marriage among some of his congregation members - married but still live a single life, or as the Chinese say: "同床異夢,貎合神離 Same bed different dreams, same togetherness different destinations."

This is quite different, although just as painful in many ways, for couples who have to separate for economic or other reasons. They are married but are separated and live as singles in different cities. A historical example was the many Chinese men in the early 1900's who had come over to "Gold Mountain" and then faced the harsh Chinese Exclusion Act 1923-1947 and were unable to see their family for decades or for life. The lucky ones were able to reunite later with their spouses and children. But, many died lonely and destitute and their bones were buried in mass graves under the "Gold Mountain".

In the modern-day context, I would think couples in the former case can be "rescued" if love can be rejuvenated (a big 'if' without a religious anchor, I presume). However, in the latter case, it's a matter of personal choice and priority as well as circumstances within or beyond one's own control. Nonetheless, both cases are equally challenging.

We are all part of history, including couples who are married but live like singles, married couples who live as singles in separate cities, and Canadians of Chinese descent whose ancestors went through the hardship of separation. I would suggest that in addition to faith in religions, one also has to believe in self-independence and reliance with a certain degree of hope for the future. As witnesses to these changes and as we are taking roots today, we will be the story-tellers to the generation of tomorrow.

Friday, November 24, 2006

願望是自製自成的 / Dream Maker

我兒時家窮, 父親入息不多,母親是家庭主婦,我們住在一個「惡死」包租婆木板間隔的尾房,一家四口一張床,最記得一回家就是上床玩。我們家庭沒有餘錢,很多玩具都是我用剩餘物資,例如「荷蘭水」蓋、香煙盒、核桃殼等自製的。但是年幼的我卻很羡慕他人有自行車,於是常問父母親可不可以買一架給我,當然,答案每一次都是失望的。我不知道您們年輕時有沒有這種感覺和經驗,就是所有要達到的願望,都是要自製自成的,父母很多時都不能幇忙。

When I was very young, my father did not earn much and my mother was a full-time homemaker. Our family rented a partitioned cubicle that was owned by this obnoxious landlady. The four of us all slept in one make-shift bed which also became my playground during the day. Since we were not well off, I learnt to make a lot of my own toys out of pop-bottle caps, used cigarette cartons, walnut shells, and whatever spared materials that I could find. However, the one toy I really wanted at that time was a tricycle. Many times I asked my parents if they could buy me one, and every time the answer was a disappointing 'No!' I don't know whether you had similar feeling and experience in childhood, but for me, I came to the realization at an early age that I would be my own dream maker, as my parents were often not in a position to help.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

人生但求五十分 / The 50-Percent Solution

閱讀【散文集】有關「水族館」的來龍去脈,發覺「烏龜」先生似乎就是我以前老師說的,「人生但求五十分」那種人: 沒什麽上進之心,只求僅僅合格,以最休閒的方式,換取得每月最好的薪酬,又何樂而不為呢?!! 問題就是: 學如逆水行舟,不進則退,有了這種心態之後,也就是工作走下坡的開始了。

Having followed San Wen Ji's "aquarium" story, I come to the conclusion that Mr. Tortoise fits into what my old teacher described as "the 50-Percent Solution" type of workers. For them, the ultimate goal in life is just to pass, never to get overly ambitious, always choose the most relaxing way to earn their monthly wages. Hey, but why not if they can get away with it, right?!! The problem is that: Learning is like rowing a boat upstream, getting lazy will not get them anywhere. The 50-Percent mentality marks the beginning of the end of one's career.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

間諜秘笈: 色性丶权力丶金錢 / The Secret Spy Manual: Sex, Power and Money

Back in the Cold War years of the 60's, there was a joke going around: After spending a lot of efforts, one of the superpowers was able to obtain the enemy's Secret Spy Manual. With much anticipation, the chiefs gathered around and opened their prize book, only to find that the manual contained just one page and three words - Sex, Power, and Money. Although the joke came out in the 60's, these same three words actually have a good grip on many people throughout human history, from the east to the west, from ancient villages to modern states. Over the 5000+ years of Chinese history, from the creation of mother-earth to the present days, there have been no lack of stories about power struggles, warring states, and the beauties whose smiles toppled the Great Wall and the Country. In the western civilization, one needs only to examine the stories of Caesar's assassination, Shakespeare's Hamlet, and in more recent years the British King who gave up his throne for his beloved American Countess (which was more love than sex). We are no strangers to these stories. Even today, we still quite often see these types of sagas being played out on different international, political, and commercial stages in both the public and private sectors. It appears that in this new millennium with all our technological wonders, some human beings are still at the same stage of evolutionary development as our ancestors thousands of years ago and still have that instinctive lust for Sex, Power and Money.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


聽說六零年代世界冷戰之時,有如下的一個笑話: 某國費了不少人力物力,終於取得了敵方的間諜秘册,但打開一看,只得一頁,上有三個字,就是:「sex性愛、power權勢、money財利」雖然這是数十年前的笑話,但細想不論在東在西,從古至今,似乎很多人都就走不脫這三個政治的因素。在数千年的中國歷史, 由盤古初開起,爭權奪位,一笑傾城、再笑傾國的故事就多得很。在西方文化,凱薩大帝被刺,莎士比亞的名著 Hamlet,不愛江山愛美人而退位的英皇(是love of the opposite sex),都是人所共知的故事。時至今日,在國際、政治、投資的公商領域,甚至工作環境中,也有很多時遇見或聽聞有關這方面的故事,就是和好色、弄權、貪財其中一個有關。故此不禁想到,難道在這千禧年的新紀元,科枝一日千里的社會,有些人的本能就和前人一樣, 數千年沒有進化?

Mile Swim

I learnt swimming from my father at the Southern Chinese Swimming Club in Shawkiwan, Hong Kong when I was really young. He taught me all the basics, from dog stroke, to back stroke to frog (breast) stroke. When I was in secondary school, I taught myself the cross (free style), or what I thought was free style. I would show off my "techniques" in swimming pools and at beaches, and the thought of continuous learning never entered my mind. It was when I joint the YMCA/YWCA here a few years ago that I realized how little I had known about swimming. I was not bad with short/medium distance, but when it came to the mile swim, all the imperfections in my swimming techniques showed up and multiplied exponentially. Did it ever cross my young and proud mind that I would have to learn swimming all over again? Of course not !! The mile swim really taught me a good lesson about life-long learning.

Monday, November 13, 2006



Eye Witness

As we journey through life, I find that quite often we become willingly, unwillingly, or by coincidence, the eye-witness of an event in progress or a turning point in history. I am not talking about being an official witness in court or in Parliament. I am referring to those of us who will re-tell (in our old age) the stories to future generations as to what we see today on television, on the street, or during a trip and how we feel at the time. All these information that are posted on the web, including the images recorded on cameras or cellular phones, will be part of our stories to tell in the future.



Saturday, November 11, 2006

加拿大軍人: 2006國殤紀念日 - 在法蘭德斯戰場 / Canadian soldiers: Remembrance Day 2006 - In Flanders Fields

Here is the famous poem "In Flanders Fields" written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) of the Canadian Army, to mark the end of Remembrance Day 2006 and to especially remember the Canadians soldiers who died in Hong Kong during World War II:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from falling hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


UPDATED 20131028

According to Wikipedia:

在法蘭德斯戰場(英文:In Flanders Fields)是在第一次世界大戰其間的最重要的詩作之一,也被認為是那個時期最流行的詩。這首法文迴旋詩體的英文詩是加拿大的軍醫約翰•麥克雷中校(英文: John McCrae )在目睹了他的年僅22歲的戰友 Alexis Helmer 中尉的死,於第二天1915年5月3日所作,同年12月,發表在英國倫敦的雙周刊 Punch 上。法蘭德斯是第一次世界大戰最慘烈的戰場,盛開着虞美人花。因為這首詩,虞美人花成為全球國殤紀念日佩花。

Translation into Chinese by Wikipedia:




UPDATED 20131108:

Photo credit: Facebook user "Canada Remembers"

Related info below:

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae 
Died: January 28, 1918

Regimental Number:
Survived War:
Canadian Army Medical Corps
No. 3 General Hospital
Place of Birth:
Guelph, Ontario
Next of Kin:
Janet Eckford McCrea, mother, 211 Paisley Street, Guelph, Ontario
Address at Enlistment:
At sea, between Canada and England. Wired his desire to enlist from the ship.
Date of Birth:
November 30, 1872
Trade or Calling:
Marital Status:
Prior Military Experience:
Place of Enlistment:
Valcartier, Quebec
Date of Enlistment:
September 22, 1914
Age at enlistment:
6 Feet Inches
40 Inches
4 Inches
Enlisted or Conscripted:
Saw service in:
Cause of Death:
Died of Illness
Battle Died/Wounded:
Date of Death:
January 28, 1918
Age at Death:
Buried at:
Wimereux Communal Cemetery, France
IV. H. 3.
Prisoner of war:
Ethnic Origin:
LAC Reference: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 7202-2
Canadian Virtual War Memorial
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Research Notes
Link to Toronto Star article - Guelph house commemorates Flanders' poet McCrae (November 10, 2009)

Named on Nominal Roll for No. 3 General Hospital (McGill), embarkation Port - Montreal, Ship - S.S. Metagama, and dated 06 May 1915.
Lieutenant ColonelCanadian Army Medical CorpsNo. 3 General Hospital
MajorCanadian Artillery1st Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery
Lance CorporalCanadian Infantry85th Battalion
Memorial to John McCrae at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres
Hand written "In Flanders Fields" dated Dec. 8 1915
Soldier, explorer, physician, educator and poet.  Author of "In Flanders Fields", possibly the best known poem in the world. Colonel John McCrae (1872-1918) was born in Guelph, Ontario, studied medicine at the University of Toronto where he graduated at the top of his class. He enlisted and fought in the Boer War in South Africa. On his return he took a fellowship at McGill University in Montreal. McCrae served as a special professor in pathology at the University of Vermont, an associate of medicine at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal and a lecturer in pathology and medicine at McGill University. He was also employed as a pathologist at Montreal General Hospital and as a physician at the Royal Alexandra Hospital ( Montreal) for Infectious Diseases.
When the First World War began in 1914, McCrae enlisted as the Brigade Surgeon in the First Brigade of Canadian Field Artillery. He was responsible for a field dressing station at the front and treated those wounded during the Second Battle of Ypres in the spring of 1915. As well as performing his duties as surgeon, he also served in the Artillery, when needed.  In the summer of 1915, McCrae was transferred from the artillery Brigade to the Number 3 Canadian General Hospital in Wimereaux, France, where he was second in command of medical services.
On January 24, 1918 he was appointed as consulting physician to the First British Army, the first Canadian so honoured. 4 days later, on January 28th, McCrae died from pneumonia, complicated by meningitis. He is buried at Wimereaux Cemetery in France.  At McCrae's funeral procession, Generals and nursing sisters stood side-by-side, silently watching the cortege pass.
While an extraordinary soldier and physician, Colonel McCrae is best known for his poem “In Flanders Fields”. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915 and to the war in general. McCrae had spent seventeen days treating injured men -- Canadians, British, French, and Germans in the Ypres salient. McCrae later wrote: "I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days... Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done." The next day McCrae witnessed the burial of a good friend, Lieut. Alexis Helmer.  Later that day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the field dressing station, McCrae composed the poem. A young NCO, delivering mail, watched him write it. When McCrae finished writing, he took his mail from the soldier and, without saying a word, handed his pad to the Sergeant-major. Cyril Allinson was moved by what he read: "The poem was exactly an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene." Colonel McCrae was dissatisfied with the poem, and tossed it away. A fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch published it on 8 December 1915. For his contributions as a surgeon, the main street in Wimereaux is named “Rue McCrae”. His famous poem has become the lasting memorial to the war.
Newspaper Extract8/21/1918The Battle of Amiens - Account by Captain R. J. Renison C.C.
Newspaper Extract11/11/1921In Flanders Fields - Stephen Leacock on John McCrae
War Diary Entry6/1/19151st. Canadian Field Artillery Brigade

Men at age 30 blossom like flowers; Women at Age 30 are nothing but used tea leaves !!

Before you shoot me, the messenger, please read the article below that was quoted by Wendelin in the blog " La Casa de los Espiritus 精靈之屋"

Article from: 中時人間副刊
Title: Women Blossom Only After Age Thirty / 女人三十才含苞
Author: 劉黎兒 (20061022)
Translator: Haricot (Chinese to English)

" ............. Women younger than thirty are not mature emotionally and intellectually, nor are there any expectations either from themselves or others that they should be. They have gone through lives in a fog, floating from here to there without purpose. Their state of affair at this point is neither planned nor designed, and the encounters are more by chance than by appointment. However, age thirty is the magical turning point, when women start to think about their lives and their future. Colorful dreams and passion for a purposeful life emerge. They begin to take charge and decide what kind of a woman they should become. Age 30 is the age of awakening, when women realize their past is as valuable and murky as used bath water. During the transition period between age 28 to 32, women reckon that life has just begun rather than ended. All of a sudden, panic strikes and there is this urge to change and redesign their lives. By the time they are 33 or 34, many women have already changed their jobs, their lovers, marriages, etc ......."

After reading the full text of the above article, and the comments by our blogger friend Wendelin, I started to think about the old saying "Men at age 30 blossom like flowers; Women at Age 30 are nothing but used tea leaves !!". But, if that is old, conservative thinking of the past, then why did the author bring this up at this day and age in 2006? Why is there a need to specifically remind women that their lives blossom only after age 30? Is the author afraid that some modern women still fall prey to the old thinking, thus the article? I do not understand, nor do I agree with the author that women before 30 do not have the foggiest idea what they are doing. So it is with trepidation and mixed feelings that I decided to take the chance and publish this for readers to ponder over the subject matter and come to their own conclusions.



在各位思者發炮之前,請先看看下列由 博友 Wendelin的「精靈之屋」雙重轉貼過來的一段文章:

中時人間副刊 / 女人三十才含苞 / 劉黎兒 / 2006-10-22

『.......... 三十歲之前的女人,心智要多成熟不容易,自己或別人也沒對自己太期待,總是懵懵懂懂、晃晃蕩蕩,好壞靠機運以及邂逅居多,但三十歲之後,女人的方向、人生色彩感都開始出現,自己可以決定要當什麼樣的女人,女人最珍貴的時期從此起跳;三十歲之後,如果因循二十八、九歲的調調懞然而曖昧度過的話,過了兩、三年 便會驚覺自己的人生現在才開始,女人作為女人既未結束,才要開始,便會匆匆忙忙想要改變自己,許多女人都在三十三、三十四時全部重來,像是換工作、換情人等......... 』

我讀完全上列之全文,再細讀 Wendelin 博友自己的評述,就回想起這「男人三十一枝花,女人三十爛茶渣」的舊說法.但如果那是保守的思想,為什麼在 2006 年,仍然需要特別指出,女人三十才含苞?難道就如作者所述, 三十歲之前的女人,總是懵懵懂懂?我就是不明白和不同意,故此冒被炮轟之險,在此供讀者參考,作結論.

Friday, November 10, 2006

除了天倫之外 / Beyond Kinship Love

熱血哺乳動物之中的母愛,是自然天生而來的,但人類的愛, 似乎就比較複雜了!我想愛就像宇宙能力的一種, 維持人與人之間的吸引和抗拒力.

Motherhood love is an intrinsic response in many mammals. However, human love appears to be more than just simple instinct. It is a universal energy force that binds and repels our species.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

百年樹人 / Hundred Years old Tree "People"


Last respect

百年樹人 / Hundred Years old Tree "People"

我用手数,這棵樹大約有一百二十五個年輪,換句話說,樹的種子是在公元 1881 年落在這裏的泥土下發芽,過往百年多,它「看」着這個世界在它週圍轉變,直到 2006 年為止.

I counted approximately 125 tree-rings across the diameter of the trunk. In another word, the seed that was this tree found its way into the soil and started growing in AD 1881. It stayed on this spot and witnessed the world changing around it, until the year it was downed, in 2006.

百年樹人 / Hundred Years old Tree "People"

百年樹人 / Hundred Years old Tree "People"

百年樹人 / Hundred Years Old Tree "People"

百年樹人 / Hundred Years old Tree "People"

鄰居後花園,有兩棵五至六層樓高的大樹,過往夏天,很多雀鳥都在此起巢為家,松鼠也有数隻住在樹洞內.但在今年秋天的一場大風兩中,其中一棵被吹斷了一大半,可幸那数百公斤重的樹身沒有倒在居屋那方向,但卻壓壊了鄰居後園很多東西.後來樹醫生 tree doctor 來看,診斷兩棵樹都已介入暮年,樹心已非常軟弱,實不能活得長久.鄰居無夸,為安全計只得請樹專家 tree expert 砍下那兩棵老樹.為了紀念這兩位「百年樹人」,特攝数張照片, 在此為証,留作記錄云.

In my neighbour's backyard, there were two really old trees that measured five to six stories high. Over the years, it provided shelters for nesting birds and dwelling squirrels. Unfortunately, during a rainstorm last autumn, one of the trees was almost completely knocked down. Luckily, the hundreds of kilograms of wood did not fall onto this side of our houses. But it sure caused a lot of damages to our neighbour's backyard. When the tree doctor came, the prognosis was not good; both trees had its days and the core was too rotten for them to survive another storm. For the sake of our safety, my neighbour had no choice but to hire the tree experts to have the two trees cut down / put under. In view of the Chinese' respect for very old trees, I took some pictures as witnesses to these two hundred-years old tree "people", for the record.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

修身,齊家,治國,平天下 / Refine One-self; Get Married; Govern the Nation; Bring Peace to the World

以前在老師教導之下,各莘莘學子,就都要牢記於心:「要先修身,次齊家,後治國及平天下.」或許是代溝的原因,年青的我就不接受那一套,我想:光是修身就是一輩子的功夫.齊家一事,如眾所知,不再是媒婥之言,首婚次嫁,離離合合,找一個終身的伴侶就不容易.治國平天下就更不像以前一樣,上京考試,一舉成名天下知,就可榮昇步入宮廷,處理國家大事. 故此一早就决定了自己的去向,就是要「收身,離家,自覺,遊天下. 」這當然和老師的願望背道而馳.時光流轉,今天的我,在加拿大住了很多年日,雖未曾踏足世界每一個角落,但可幸有機會遊遍北美,也到過其它好幾個地方,見了很多世面.如果今天遇到舊時的老師,他們又會怎樣想呢?

In the old school of thoughts, every scholar was supposed to remember the four goals of achievements, in the following order: Refine yourself which meant academic and spiritual refinements. Get married which usually referred to the young man putting his House in order. Govern the state/nation which meant landing a job with the government and becoming a mandarin. The last goal 平天下could mean flattening your enemies and/or bringing lasting peace to the world (depending on how you use the Chinese word 平). Perhaps it was a generation-gap thing, as a youngster I just couldn't accept such teaching. I thought: Great, it is going to take my whole life just to refine myself to perfection and be ready to get married. Without match-makers to do the screening and matching, and given the high divorce rate, the chance of getting it right the first time is very slim and not easy. Then, there is no more annual countrywide scholar examination that will provide a launching pad into the emperor's court to govern the nation and conquer the world. So, I decided at the time that my four goals would be: Pack up; Leave home; Self reflect; and Travel the world !! Obviously I was heading the opposite way of what my teachers were expecting. Well, many years have gone by and I now find myself well settled in Canada. While I am not a global trotter who leave footprints in every corner of the world, I have been lucky to be able to travel all over North America and a few other continents. Yes, I have seen quite a bit of the different faces of the world. I wonder what the comments from my old teachers would be if I run into them today.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


在我家的深處,在一個不常到的地方,就放了很多雜物,是多年積聚的回憶,每一件東西都代表那一段時日光景,是歡樂的,痛苦的,麻木的,成功或是失敗的,都像一件件歷史見証物,沾到手上,時光倒流,往事如煙,就在腦海中浮現.但在這些雜物中,卻有一個上了鎖的大皮喼,已有很多年沒有打開來看.其實也知道內裏存的是什麼,就是年青我熱戀時寫的日記,和一些大家一同拍攝的舊照片.但每一次想開喼來看,總是沒有勇氣,又將大皮喼放回那深處.自己也不明白這無名的恐懼,是不是害怕開了之後,就要面對現實,不能否認那年少氣盛,又不成熟的自我,還是恐怕舊情復發,觸動那深埋多年的慯心事,戀心淚,一動真情,就難以自拔呢? 其實人就是很矛盾,又想向前走,又忍不住要回頭看.人生日記就是自己手寫,但旅途中的故事,就滲入了其他很多人,既有萍水相逢,泛泛之交的,也有那無緣無份,年少無知的戀人.故事和戲是可以找人拍,歌是可以找人唱,但情之一物,又怎能找人照顧呢?

鎖上青年情感的手提箱 / The Suit Case

Somewhere deep in the basement not frequented by visitors, there is a collection of articles from an era gone by. Each piece represents a moment in time that might be happy, painful, paralyzed, successful or failing. Each piece is a witness to my own history, a mere touch of which will magically bring me back to the past, to a place where wisps of memories sing and dance in front of my eyes. But among the collection, there is a locked suitcase that, for whatever reason, I never have the courage to open and look inside. I know exactly what the contents are - a collection of letters to my first love and pictures of our time together. Several times I managed to unlock the suit case, but was not able to conquer this nameless fear and bring myself to actually opening it. Perhaps I am afraid that touching the photos inside will bring me face-to-face again with this youth who was so self-centre and immature. Or, perhaps reading the old letters will open the flood gate of emotions and unearth to the core years of love, bitterness and tears, to the extent I will be swept into a vortex of deep depression. How ironic it seems that we human always want to move forward and yet are often haunted by the past. We always want to be the master of our destinies and hold the pens that write our diaries, and yet our journeys inevitably will involve other people, be they ordinary friends or as in my case, my first love. Life is dramatic to the extent that one can hire actors and actresses to play it out for us on stage and in cinema. One can even hire someone to write, sing and serenade one's life story. But for the core love itself, one will be forever responsible.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The "Mini Meanies" in the Floating World of Mirrors and Flowers

Yuen Luk Luk's October 25th post on "Cursing the Mini Meanies" reminds me of the story in Chapter 19 of "The Floating World of Mirrors and Flowers":
..... After a few more days on the road, our travelers Tong-O and Ninth Uncle arrived at the City State of Qin Ran. Tong-O asked, "Ninth Uncle, have you been to this place before? I heard that the citizens here are short in both their statues and characters." Ninth Uncle replied, "The people here are famous for being defensive and mean and they speak with fork tongues. They will mislead you by saying sweet is bitter, salty is bland to make you all confused. Such is their practice here, so don't be too surprised." They disembarked, walked up to the city gate, through which they crawled through, and found themselves inside the city proper. The streets, lanes and steps were all so narrow and small that moving about was not exactly an easy task for our travelers. At the city centre, Tong-O and Ninth Uncle came upon the inhabitants who were no more than a foot tall for adults and four inches for children. To defend themselves from predatory bird attacks from above, they huddled close and walked in groups of three to five and carried weapons with them. Their postures were defensive and the speeches were equally barbed with poison, trickery and double-talks. Tong-O sighed, "I can now see why they are called Mini Meanies." .......

I am convinced that the Heartless People and the Mini Meanies are neighbours. As I asked in my post "The Floating World of Mirrors and Flowers" several days ago, are there many heartless and meanies among us? I hope that with the united will of the majority, righteousness will always prevail and that I will encounter less of them in our modern society.



.... 走了几日,到了靖人國。唐敖道:「請教九公:小弟聞得靖人,古人謂之諍人,身長八丸寸,大約就是小人國。不知國內是何風景?」多丸公道:「此地風俗磽薄,人最寡情,所說之話,處處与人相反。即如此物,明是甜的,他偏說苦的;明是咸的,他偏說淡的:教你無從捉摸。此是小人國歷來風气如此,也不足怪。」二人于是登岸,到了城郭,城門甚矮,彎腰而進,里面街市极窄,竟難并行。走到城內,才見國人,都是身怪不滿一尺;那些儿童,只得四寸之長。行路時,恐為大鳥所害,無論老少,都是三五成群,手執器械防身;滿口說的都是相反的話,詭詐异常,唐敖道:「世間竟有如此小人,倒也少見。」....


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

2006 萬聖節故事 / Halloween Story 2006

萬聖節脕上,下着微微細雨,到來拍門叫「Trick or Treat !!」的小朋友比舊年少,但有出來的就化裝得多姿多彩,有天使,小熊貓,超人等,真是非常cute.成人中除了有伴同子女的父母之外,也有一些童心沫老的「大牛龜」來湊熱鬧,找尋免費娛樂和糖果吃.也有趁機混水摸魚的,以下就是一個這類的故事,是真是假,由您定斷罷.


On Halloween night, there weren't as many kids out as last year because of the drizzling rain. However, those who did come out were all dressed up as cute little angels, panda bears, supermen, etc. Beside the kids' parents, there were also other adults out trolling at night, such as the young-at-hearts who just wanted free entertainment and cheap candies. And then, there were those whose motives were not quite as clear, so let's listen to the following story and then you can tell me whether it's true or not.

On Halloween night, a taxi driver picked up a fare, a young and beautiful nun. The male driver was all "sexed" up and with a pretended sad face, he said, "All my life I have been waiting for this moment, my wish to be able to kiss a nun. I wonder if you could help me fulfill this dream of mine." The nun was much taken aback, but recovered quickly and said, "I am willing to help but my first kiss is reserved only to the brothers of my faith. Are you a believer?" At that point, the male driver was hot-on-the-trot and quickly replied, "Of course, I am a believer!" The nun had no choice and gave the man the kiss he wanted. Filled with excitement and joy, the cab driver could not help himself and shouted, "Ha!! I am not a believer; I just waned to steal your first kiss !!" The nun replied, "I am not a nun, I am just a guy dressing up as a woman on Halloween night."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

一靜一動 / Qi Thinking

一靜: 氣下丹田,心如止水.
一動: 形意合一,臨危不亂.

This is what I visualize when I am practising my Qi:
* Rest: Qi settles in the Dan Tian; Mind stays calm as still water.
* Move: Form and mind merge as one; Will thrives amidst chaos.
I often use these two "mantras" (for lack of a better word) to gather myself together before I go too far down like a fallen kite.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Diva Renée Fleming (3)

Photo Credit:
Her official website

The Diva Renée Fleming (2)

Photo Credit:
Her official website

The Diva Renée Fleming (1)

Photo Credit:
Her official website

The Diva Renée Fleming / 女高音 Renée Fleming

昨天友人告訴我,女高音Renée Fleming 在羅馬表演,可惜我沒有機會去欣賞.法國之世界日報說得好: 『她完美的歌喉能到達所有的調子,有無窮的氣量,充滿情感之音色,像生果一般的鮮艷甜蜜,她就是音樂界「十全十美」的定義.』明天我會趕去買她的新牒 "Homage - Age of the Diva" . 如果您想聽她的歌聲,請到 她也有自己的相片和新作品消息在 . Wikipedia 也有這位女高音的資料在: .

I wish I were at Renée Fleming's performance in Rome last week. As the French newspaper Le Monde says about her: "Voix parfaite sur toute les tessiture, souffle infini, timbre charnel, fruité ... Renée Fleming est la perfection même." Her new CD "Homage - Age of the Diva" will come out tomorrow and I will make sure I get one. Renée has such a great voice. I would suggest you listen to her on Decca's (try it, the songs are great) and also visit her official website (nice picture of the singer and info on her new releases). She is also mentioned on Wikipedia: .

Sunday, October 29, 2006

鏡花緣 / The Floating World of Mirrors and Flowers


When I first read the story "Heartless City" in one of the Chinese Classics "The Floating World of Mirrors and Flowers" (my translation), I was in junior high and did not have much experience. My book report was basically a transfer of words from book to paper with little understanding of the authour's deeper meaning. Now that I am, relatively speaking, more mature, my interpretation of the same story is quite different. Without sounding too negative, I do find that there are people coming from the Heartless City living among us. You may encounter them at work, in love affairs, or during wars. You just can't tell that under the suit or dress, there is a big hole where the heart should be.

Haricot / 微豆

Saturday, October 28, 2006

鹹水中文 / "Lightly-Salted" Chinese

以前出外做留學生,是叫做「浸鹹水」, 意謂坐船過洋讀書.他們學成回鄉之後,就說得一口不鹹不淡的英文.反觀住在楓葉國多年的「華僑」,很多像我一樣,工作生活起居,用的都是英文和法文,中文少用生疏,很多時說的就是「鹹水中文」了,不知各位訪友察覺否?

In the old days of the ocean liners, people used to describe students going overseas for their education as "soaking in sea-water", a term that also inferred to their heavily Chinese-accented English upon their return. For Chinese Canadians who have lived here for a long time and are using mainly English and/or French on a daily basis, I wonder whether their Chinese is evolving the other way. Come to think of it, do you notice any English or French "accent" in the way I write my Chinese? Oui ou non?

戀與愛 / Falling in Love

今晚在家看 Captain Corelli's Mandolin (Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz, 2001), 其中有一片段,老婦告訴那年青主角說: 「戀愛就未必是愛,雙戀完畢之後那段長長的旅程才是愛.」您們認為她說得對嗎? (也請看San Wen Ji 散文集: 愛的定義)

In the movie Captain Corelli's Mandolin (Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz, 2001), there is a scene in which the old woman was telling the main character: "Falling in love is not love, the long journey after is." Don't you think there is certain truth to that?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

初雪與初戀 / First Snow and First Love


I looked out the window this morning and watched flakes of snow floating down from the sky. For some odd reasons, first snow often makes me feel happy and melancholy at the same time. Perhaps, it reminds me of first love - an exciting beginning that is not expected to last.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

訓練跑馬拉松 / Training for a Marathon


Whether a marathon is going to be easy or hard may depend a lot on the health of a person's mind and body as well as his/her time goal. If an individual does regular exercise and the doctor tells him/her there is no problem with running long distance, then the training might take any where from four to six months. During this period, a set time goal may determine the required weekly milage and speed. Here is a suggested website to get people started:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

旅遊南美洲阿根廷首都布宜諾斯艾利斯 / Travel to Buenos Aires Argentina South America

(下文由豆瓣 轉來此処共閱)

我曾探訪阿根庭的首都Buenos Aires,非常喜欢那地方,它有「南美巴黎」之稱,有很多建築物就像從歐洲搬來的一樣.我起程離開加拿大時是初冬,到達南美就是初夏,有可能是天氣關係,就覺得那裏真的有很濃厚的拉丁美洲熱情風味,男和女都穿得很上潮流,毫不保守.如果您有机会逗留,就一定要嘗嘗那边的夜生活.他們的晚歺是在九時以後才開始,吃完几乎是十一時至午夜,剛好是探戈舞精彩表演的開場時間,真是旦旦笙歌!阿根庭和大多拉丁美洲國家(除巴西外)都是說西班牙語,我因懂法文,故此看指示街招都不大有問題,但交談就是另一回事了.我不知由您処到南美要多少時間,但由Buenos Aires到Uruguay的首都Montevideo就只是一水之隔,不妨一遊.其他國家,如智利,巴西都不太遠,也可趁机遊覽.往南美最好是参加旅行團,自理旅遊也可,但就要非常非常之小心,很多我到過的南美地方,保安和看更的都有机關槍,黑店和黑的士行兇也有聽聞.大城巿旅遊區就沒多大問題.
  微豆 / Haricot

Sunday, October 22, 2006

田園之樂 / The Beautiful Countryside


The next three pictures depict the place where I ran the October marathon. It just happened that the race also took place in a farm area the scenery of which was just as nice.

田園之樂 / The Beautiful Countryside

田園之樂 / The Beautiful Countryside


Not far away from where I live, there is a farm that is my favorite marathon training ground. At this time of the season, there are hundreds of Canadian geese and other varieties of birds feeding on the grains that are left over from the fall harvest. The geese usually start their journey somewhere near the Artic Circle and every year they will pass by this area en route to their southern destinations thousands of miles away. Whenever I go running in the farm area, I always take the opportunity to enjoy the fall scene and take some pictures of the countryside.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

破產公司破產 / Liquidation Company Went Bankrupt


A bull market spells trouble for the liquidation business. So who is around to liquidate this bankrupt liquidation company?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

跑馬拉松 / Running Marathons


I just finished my 6th running marathon and am taking a week off to give the body a chance to recover. Some people said life itself is a marathon, albeit a very long one, and in both the physical and emotional sense. If the comparison holds, then the question arises as to why all the efforts when the end does not seem to justify the means. Au contraire, I would submit that the quest to find out the capability and limits of ourselves (and of our partners and co-runners) is really a part of defining our existence. From that perspective, it's not so much the success or failure of our race at the end that is important, but rather the knowledge of who we are during the journey. The internal motivation of self-discovery differentiates those who continue and those who give up because of a lack of external reward.

微豆 / Haricot

Friday, October 13, 2006

看紅葉 / Fall Colour


The Fall colour is everywhere !
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