Sunday, September 30, 2007

靜坐常思己過,閒談莫論人非 / Finding Peace in Solitude

Often in the middle of chaotic augments, I remember the old Chinese saying: 『靜坐常思己過,閒談莫論人非』which roughly translates to: "Find solitude to think about one's own shortcomings; don't gossip about other people's weaknesses." This is not exactly the same as:『各家自掃門前雪,莫管他人瓦上霜』, which means "Clear the snow in your driveway and don't worry about the frost on your neighbour's roof". The former is reflective of one's imperfection and therefore the need to stay humble before passing judgements, while the latter advocates the virtue of minding your own business. However, going to the extreme, both can be deadly when people stay passive and apathetic, refuse to help others and lose all sense of community/social responsibility.

Having spent the last two blog posts on 「港男港女」, I find it necessary to stay out of the fray on an issue that I cannot quite related to - having been in Canada for so long - and find some peace in solitude, at least for the time being.

(Photo: Canadian River Scene in Early Fall / / 攝影图片: 十月初秋加拿大河景)

Friday, September 28, 2007

【從風雨而飛】的新開始 ∕ A New Beginning after the Storm

Having spent more time this morning reading Elvis' blog posts he left behind in HK, I am beginning to have a better grasp of what he was trying to say. While 臥虎 has identified a few overarching issues (such as sexual politics and gender equity) based on the exchange btwn Elvis, Daisy, and others; my friend might have missed the essence of the author's more basic message, and that is: We are all products of the society and it's up to us to take actions and make things better (as opposed to: If you can't beat them, join them).

While I doubt very much if the vacated 擂臺 in HK will ever regain its previous glory, popularity and excitements, I look forward to reading Elvis' new UK-based blog 【從風雨而飛】。I am sure he will find new adventures in Europe and continue to enlighten his readers in HK and across the pond with interesting stories and viewpoints.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

某「臥虎藏龍」先生对【怒插港女】的評語 / Sexual Politics, Gender Equity, and Showing Off

(序: 網絡是跨越世界的公用媒介,讀者中不乏臥虎藏龍之人仕。某先生因其職責關係,故此只能用筆名發言,請諒。)

微豆: 您看完了【怒插港女】網誌上的数篇文章,有怎樣的感想?

臥虎: 首先我覺得那語帶相關的題目非常刺眼,如果作者說是開玩笑,那實在就是一點也不好笑,選用的暴力字眼是太過份了。

微豆: 但那些文章內容呢?

臥虎: 作者的寫作能力是出乎意料的好,文章引用了很多中西參考書籍,可說是受過教育和社会洗禮的知識份子。但雖然他打響了『男女平等』的口號,以保衛男性尊嚴為名,但主題卻仍走不出了「色性」的出發點。

微豆: 我不大明白您的意思,可否作個舉例?

臥虎: 如果作者是以『男女平等』作為大前題,那麼他就不需要用Tracy和George做愛的故事來做背景,諷刺「港女」的弱點。那是sexual politics, 不是gender equity。說俗一點,前者是「媾女」,後者是「人权」。

微豆: 那麼您对那個和【怒插港女】作者打对頭劇,住在九龍塘高尚住宅區,賺中環高薪的28歲女律師覌感又如何?

臥虎: 網絡森林,龍蛇混雜,我們怎知道作者的真實身份、年歲、和背景。如果【蘭開夏道】作者自報的個人資料是凖確,我就覺得她是非常淺簿和自視過高,以為在港大畢業,在外國浸了数年鹹水,就完全明白了歐美上流社会的舉止風俗,看不起那些「落後」的中國「土包子」和「土包女」。真正來說,她自傲自豪的時裝la mode,在羅馬、巴黎、紐約就真是a dime a dozen。

微豆: 但您不能否認,她在香港是受高薪的職業女律司,值得「一麈 」罷?!!

臥虎: 如此說來,我與部長往外國參加的國讌,與各國大使館ambassadors和 military attachés 打交道的相片,豈不是都应該登上網誌,自吹自擂?我總覺得一個人的成熟美,一個人的self acceptance,不論是男是女,都是有之內而形於外,不用攻擊別人來抬高自己。「港男」「港女」的是是非非,噓噓嚷嚷,我想都是我們成熟過程中的一個小枝節。

微豆: 多謝您的評語,我知您職責在身,不能暢所欲言。待我們留意事情發展,看看兩位網主,会不会隔洋掛免戰牌罷。


怒插港女】網主之 "不叫"

蘭開夏道】網主之 "以貌取人"

Monday, September 24, 2007

馬拉松賽跑訓練: 出師未捷? / Marathon Training: DNF?

I will be running my 9th marathon, and the 3rd one this year. As much as I want to get myself psyched-up, I cannot help but feel bitten by the greatest fear of all marathon runners: DNF, which stands for "Did Not Finish", or in non-technical, layman's term: "You blew it, bud!!"

While runners are usually competitive in nature (either against others, themselves, or time), many do recognize that human beings are not built to last forever, as much as we want to push the limit. In endurance sports, I find that it's usually my body's muscular-skeletal structure that yields first before I reach my aerobic capacity limit and hit the anaerobic wall. If you take the target running pace of 90 steps per minute (which is also the ideal pace for cycling), and multiply it by 60 minutes, that comes to 5,400 strikes per foot over a one hour period. Thus for runners whose finish time is from 3 to 5 hours, each foot will have struck the road surface 16,200 to 22,000 times, with a force equals to 2-3 times the person's weight.

In prep for the upcoming race, my weekend LSD (long, slow, distance) run is now maxing out at 22 km, which is far below my usual 33 km mark. Given the inadequate training, all I can hope for is to finish the 42.2 km race in reasonable time without incurring any injury. I sure don't want to have a DNF, at least not till I finish my 10th marathon next year.

As I heard Grete Waitz (who won the New York City Marathon nine times!!) once said: "... We all have a finite running life ..." In other words, no matter how good an athlete is, he/she will eventually use up all the foot-strikes and run into the 'yield' sign, and finally the 'stop' sign. I think that is true for marathon running as well as life in general. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ References:
* Grete Waitz:
* 8th Marathon:
* 7th Marathon (Rome):
* Other blog posts on marathon training:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

風雨夜歸人: 工作過勞 / A Workaholic's Stormy Night: Burnt Out

I remember my father used to tell me: 『盡職守責, 問心無愧。』which translates roughly into English:“It is important to be able to face yourself in the mirror each morning, instead of hiding behind hypocrisy and half-truth.”As a teenager, I promptly dismissed his lecturing 教訓 as old fashion, nothing more than a feeble attempt to nag the blacksheep of the family, me. Of course, I would work hard. Of course, I would try my best .... well, most of the time, and well, only if I want to. Little did I know my Old Man「老豆」(as in 『竇燕山,有義方』) had actually succeeded in sowing the seed of Chinese work ethics and instilling in me a strong sense of responsibility, so much so that I turned into a workaholic (Father can never win!).

In the last six to seven years, I often worked late into the wee hours of the night without being asked, and when some people wanted to shift blame my way, I would actually "swallow" it. I often told colleagues that old joke: "I have a very responsible job here. If anything goes wrong, I am responsible." But seriously, I actually believed in "the buck stops here" at my level and refused to play office politics. Unfortunately, my holier-than-thou principle only exacerbated my workaholic tendency, until one dark, stormy night (cliché!), I found myself working past two o'clock in the morning and missing the last bus going home. That night was the longest and the most uncomfortable night in recent memory. I couldn't run home because of the storm. Thunders and lightning were cracking up and the sky was pouring wet. I was quite stuck in the stuffy office with no food and no drinks, exhausted, burnt out and had no place to sleep.

Well, I cannot blame my father for turning myself into a workaholic. I don't need to go to AA or rehab to understand that "the buck stops here" (hey even Amy Winehouse has started eating to gain weight, so there is hope for everyone). With my present assignment, I no longer work on weekends (okay, I confess, I bring files home but I don't open them). I am even able to restrain myself from reading email on my Blackberry during breaks at the opera house. Oh yes, I have come a long way to rediscover myself and to "get a life", a second life perhaps. My count-down has begun and by the end of this year, I will take a nice long break, to allow myself some time to rest, to reflect and to do things I always want to do but can never find the time.

It was a long stormy night.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

青春舞曲感想 (四) / Circle Game of Youth (4)

The song "The Circle Game" sung by Joni Michell reflects on youth, growing up and life in general.

青春舞曲 Qīngchūn Wǔqǔ - 中山大学合唱团 Sun Yat-sen University Chorus

This is the interpretation of the song by the mixed choir of 中山大學。

青春舞曲感想 (二) / Circle Game of Youth (2)


最近與網友「風信子」 和 「新鮮人」 談及青春的三部曲: 個人成長、磨練閱歷、和做化修為,以下是其中節錄:

風信子: 『... 磨練總使人感到挫敗氣壞,同時也加速個人成長增添閱歷,是好是壞實見人見智,但願他日回顏,扣除今日的是與非,心仍可找到點滴光景回味,青春他其實並沒白長 ~』
新鮮人: 『... 只怕當大家明白時,青春己隨風而逝了!』
風信子: 『... 再回眸有時已是百年身,既慨時光飛逝,也嘆為何當年如斯執意?奈何青春總愛跟年歷背道而馳』 
微豆: 『青春已逝,成熟的空虛?』
風信子: 『... 磨練是雖要時間的,但感觀上的空虛與否,則要看個人做化跟修為了 ~』


首部『個人成長』: 近代先進國家的年青人,比上一兩代成熟得早和快, 自信心和主覌很強,再加上日新月異的媒介及科枝發展,和代溝的因素,他/她們对処理人生、愛情、和事業的方法和態度,是自伩完全和父母不同。所以在這青春舞曲的首部,感受節拍多是輕鬆、愉快,充滿熱力、夢想、和欢笑声。但在這成長的早期,一顆小小的空虛種子,已開始在幼嫩的心靈中發芽。

中部『磨練閱歷』: 從無憂無慮的階段, 年青人很快地離開中學、大學、老師和父母,投入社會的大染缸,接受那現實的洗禮。在變幻無常的愛情、職業、生活的衝擊下, 嘗盡了喜、怒、哀、樂等的七情六慾,。這是青春舞曲的中部,感受節拍有輕快抒情、有緩慢沈重,四重唱的音韻起落,也代表了人生無常和際運高低。多年的磨練和閱歷,沒錯是充實了經驗和体歷,但是心內的空虛也隨著時日長大成熟,開始懷疑少年無憂無慮時『太陽下山明朝依舊爬上來,花兒謝了明年還是一樣地開』的永恆定律。

末部『做化修為』: 從中年到暮年,時間如古代計時器hourglass內的沙粒一樣,越漏越快,上一代父母和親戚很多已經不在,歲月不留人,正是『惜人已乘黃鶴去』,自己也開始感到力不從心,這是一段困難的過程。在乎個人做化修為,這青春舞曲最後的一段,可以有樂覌和悲覌的結局。

樂覌: 在這時刻,退休之後回顧自己的一生,也看看新的一代,『長江後浪推前浪,世上新人換舊人』,也感到心內這人生的空虛是有後人塡補,那從孩提時開始發芽長大的空虛是終於成熟了,得到了一個答案。所以雖然是『我的青春小鳥一樣不回來』, 但感受節拍仍是有強烈的獨奏意式形態,『別的哪喲喲!別的哪喲喲!』是歌頌人生、自然、和造物。

悲覌: 在這離大去之期不遠的時刻,心靈仍是感到非常悲痛,对「不枉此行?」這個問題還是有一個大問號,回憶往事,唏噓後悔不爾,灰色的人生像濃霧一樣,遮蓋了所有年青時欢樂的時光。在這青春舞曲的末段,感受節拍是悲愴、軟弱,『別的哪喲喲!別的哪喲喲!』是「生不願來,死不願去」的呼嚎,『美麗小鳥一起無影踪』是悔恨造物弄人,唱『我的青春小鳥一樣不回來』是臨死的絕望末句,之後聲樂停頓,就像小鳥飛在天空劃的弦線一樣,無影無踪的消失了,那成熟的空虛終於完全蓋沒了這段人生的存在。



青春舞曲感想 (一) / Circle Game of Youth (1)

【青春舞曲】 新疆民謠 佚名


Friday, September 14, 2007

一年回顧 / A Year in Review

In the evening of June 8, 2006, I was at home sipping tea and surfing the Net when I happened to come across San Wen Ji's 散文集. What caught my immediate attention was the way the author characterized the blog: 『散落在文字裡情感的收集,為之“散文集”』.It conveyed a sense of being frank and open, of sharing thoughts, and of capturing fleeting sentiments that otherwise would have been forgotten with the passage of time. There were also snippets of thoughts on work issues that reflected the author's workplace experience. San Wen Ji's blog rekindled my desire to write (outside of work), something that had been buried over the years for various reasons. I have always been a creative person - not that I am a professional artist - and that side of me yearns to find an avenue to express myself. As well, I had the desire to retool my Chinese language skill, having used only English and French in Canada for many years.

My blogging started two months later and my first post entitled "Lotus and Cedar: Site under construction" on September 14, 2006 depicted a ruin site in Rome with the caption "This is going to take a while ....." The posting reflected my belief in personal rebirth, revitalization, and reacquainting with the past. The pen-name “微豆∕Haricot”was chosen to signify that I am one of the beans in a pod that in turn is one in a field of millions in the country and, of course, "Haricot" represents the European liaison and French connection.

Looking back, here are some observations and thoughts:
* I find blogging satisfying but also time consuming if I want to go beyond just chitchatting.
* Wikipedia's information are "relatively" more reliable compared to other blog-based sources. I have to remind myself that there is no institutionalized quality assurance/control of public info on the web.
* It's always a challenge to pass judgement on the nature and type of info to be posted. Once in the public domain, personal data, statements, and multi-media materials (video, pictures, etc) become non retrievable and can be used by anyone in any way, shape or form, with or without the author's permission.
* I greatly appreciate the thoughtful comments from my blog friends and readers who are always polite and respectful of other people's opinions.
* I am surprised by how much my writing style and choice of subjects have expanded over the short 12 months. To me, a web-based "second life" (and I don't mean Second Life) is one way to complement but not to replace my life in the real-world. In that sense, there is no difference in between blogging and creative writing, painting for fun, watching a movie, reading a novel, or talking to people.

In closing, I have learnt a lot since the first blog appeared a year ago. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and reflections with my friends/readers on the web, without imposing on anyone. I intend to follow my original "Blog Statement" that says:
"My bilingual blog (English and Chinese) offers a wide variety of topics, including: my daily thoughts; romance/love; traveling pictures of Venice, Rome and other cities; memories of my youth in Hong Kong; running marathons; and other aspects of life in Canada."

It's getting late. So, I will say to my global friends/readers: See you / 就此擱筆 / Alors, à la prochaine / Grazie, ciao !!!

(September 14, 2007)


San Wen Ji - First visit

Lotus and Cedar: Site under construction

Friday, September 07, 2007

絕望與希望 / Desperation and Hope

In days, we hear the rhetoric of war, flowered in righteousness;
In wars, we taste the violence of man, flavoured in blood;
In darkness, we see the characters of man, shrouded in hatred;
In peace, we feel the heat of hatred, packaged in words.
Is there no end to this vicious circle?
Is there no mother to comfort the fatherless child?

Draw deep for your passion and zest;
Draw deep to the fountain of truth to test.
For man was once a dear child of hope;
For nature is always the mother who copes.
Dawn is not too far from the eyes that see;
Dawn will shine through all men and beasts.

(攝影相片/Photo: 2007年攝於羅馬梵蒂岡博物館 / Vatican Museum, Rome 2007)


The above is in response to Xiao Zhu's Sept 2, 2007 blog article:


Waiting for the dawn
Waiting for the truth dawning upon men
But I'd be scared to see the light
for my eyes have been addicted to the darkness
The complexion of the war never turns good
Yet it does not damp my passion and zest....
....I thought
No, too weak am I
Your warmth did bring me new breath
It won't last for long
Couldn't I ask for more
Too weak am I
Waiting for the dawn
Waiting for the truth dawning upon men
Longing for the peace in mind
Longing for y.....

Thursday, September 06, 2007

聽海 (四) / Beyond the Sea (4)

The song "La Mer" was given unrelated English words and called "Beyond the Sea" (sometimes known as "Sailing") which was a hit for Bobby Darin in the early 1960s
English lyrics: Jack Lawrence 1912
Somewhere beyond the sea,
Somewhere, waiting for me,
My lover stands on golden sands
And watches the ships that go sailing;
Somewhere beyond the sea,
He's (She's) there watching for me.
If I could fly like birds on high,
Then straight to his (her) arms I'd go sailing.
It's far beyond a star,
It's near beyond the moon,
I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon.
We'll meet beyond the shore,
We'll kiss just as before.
Happy we'll be beyond the sea,
And never again I'll go sailing!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

聽海 (二) / Beyond the Sea (2)

Just like many of my local friends who are from Atlantic Canada or the west coast, I too identify my childhood with growing-up next to the sea. I can remember putting dried shrimps 蝦米乾 into a glass jar tied to a rope and lowering it into the deep green harbour water to catch minnows. At around age eight, I graduated into using bait and hook and would spend many hours after school casting my line to catch little rock bass石九公. If there was a run on sticklebacks 泥鯭 (stingy fish with poisonous barbs that thrived near sewage outfalls), I would be among the line of anglers all trying to jostle for the best positions to maximize our catch. Being small, I would have to stand on tip toes, lean over the railing, and whip my 8-pronged octopus hook 八爪鈎back and forth trying to snag up as many as three fish in one strike. The challenge was to take the wriggling fish off the hook without being stung. I am always amazed that I did not die young of blood poisoning from the fish poison, or the virus that came with what the fish had eaten.

Anyway, I survived into adolescent, avoided being a "Darwin Award" recipient, and started dating. Naturally, the seaside at night was the favourable necking place for hormone-rich young lovers. Since there was no drive-in and no cars for any back-seat hanky-panky, many a nights were spent enjoying the sea, listening to the waves, and watching in dreamy state the city lights reflecting off the harbour front. As my relationship with the sea intensified, so was the tension with my father who obviously did not agree with adolescents dating. Temper erupted, angry words were exchanged, and the parents almost gave up. Meanwhile, the inexperienced young lovers did not faire any better, temper flared, hurtful words were exchanged, and the relationship ended.

Even up to these days, as I lie in my bed at night, far away from where I was born, I can still hear the sea calling - the sound of lapping waves, the smell of a thunderstorm, the taste of salt in the sea breeze, and the reflection of the harbor lights at night. Although many years have gone by, the sea will always be there, listening to the young lovers' secret vows of eternal love. In exchange, the young ones will always remember the sea and the memories of those youthful days, when life was full of promises, joy and tears. And time stands still.

(Source: YouTube 張惠妹 A-MEI 唱 【聽海】)

聽海 (一) / Beyond the Sea (1)

(see next blog article)

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