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San Francisco, USA

 

Being Quiet

I am reading Susan Cain's book Quiet. She was talking about how the extrovert ideal is not universal, and that Eastern culture value quiet introspection more.

This brought up some childhood memory of mine. When my mom brought me visit elder relatives of mine, they would often praise me for being "quiet". Yes, they were saying this as a compliment. They said I was good, not noisy, restless, boisterous, or the kind of boy giving my mom grief. They were pleased with how I behaved.

I am just making a note of my childhood experience, not making any judgemenmt.

2016.04.26 comments

 

Memorial in The Woods

I went to the memorial service for Jan Underwood this morning. I was a little unsure if I should go because I have not met her and the event will be full of people I don't know. But it turned out well and I have even met a few new people.

Most who spoke were teaching in the Writing Salon, some were there early on since it was founded over a decades ago. Many recounted the stories and dialogs with Jane. All were very appreciative of the opportunities to have worked with her and the impact it has on their professional and personal life. It seemed a little bit impersonal to say most of their interactions were focus on work, until you realize her work, her passion and her life is really one.

People sometimes call these memorial service a celebration of life. I assure you this is not an euphemism. It is a celebration of life in the truest sense. When you looked around and saw 50 people from all walk of life gathering for her in this morning you knew she has created quite a legacy.

It was a quiet, peaceful and beautiful spot in the park surrounded by tall trees. Of all the places I could be this morning, I was there with others to remember her. I felt contented and grateful for what life had offered us.

2016.04.17 comments

 

San Francisco the Tech Mecca

This morning I was explaining to a lady that I am very grateful to come to San Francisco because it is the epicenter for tech. She is an older lady working in traditional field unrelated to tech. So she seemed to be mystified by the tech activities mushroomed around here and asked me many questions.

This afternoon I was at a neighborhood coffee shop. I overheard a guy helping a woman running jupyter notebook sorting out the difference between test data and training data. It is an epicenter of tech for sure. Because You are just as likely to overheard people talking about what's going on in life as a discussion on specialized technical subject on the street.

2016.04.17 comments

 

The Trouble with Tenses

As a non-native English speaker, one of my greatest trouble is using proper English tenses. Since there is no verb tense in my native Chinese, I am a little bit like a color blind person trying to convey something I do not deferentiate well. In school we were taught a bunch of grammar rules. And in practice I also go with gut feeling. A lot of times I cannot explain what my gut feeling says by the grammar rules I have learned.

The grammar rules are like this. To say things happen at present, use present tense. To say things that happened in the past, use past tense. Simple, huh?

Well, actualy nothing in human language is simple. It turns out it is also correct to say things happened in present tense. The are choices of narrative tense and the concept of implicatures to consider. So you can use present tense to describe things happened in the past. And it conveys some subtle difference in meaning.

Confusing? Very. I guess the game is to keep training my gut feeling until it works.

2016.04.10 comments

 

Scandinavian Films

Movie to Scandinavia is like tech to Israel. Both region have relatively small population. But their have made outsized contribution in the respective industry with many world renowned productions. There are many well known legends like Ingmar Bergman and Lar von Trier. Last year I have enrolled in the Coursera class Scandinavian Film and Television by University of Copenhagen. It is a perfect guide to the Scandinavian cinema taking us through the history and and also across different genres. I have made good on my part to watch a good number of movies. I count 19 movies and 1 TV series in total last year. There are many good ones to share.

Carl Theodor Dreyer

  • Gertrud (1964)
  • Ordet (1955)

Ingmar Bergman

  • Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)

Fun and clever dialogs. Very enjoyable.

Lars von Trier

  • Melancholia (2011)
  • Antichrist (2009)
  • Dogville (2003)

I never really love Lars von Trier. His works are just too disturbing and gruesome for me. But there is no denial he is an evil genius. Dogville looks innocent in then beginning. Then it turned cruel and sick and traumatic. Antichrist is horrifying but with a strangely alluring aesthetics.

Aki Kaurismäki

  • The Man Without a Past (2002) The Match Factory Girl (1990)

Susanne Bier

  • In a Better World (2010)
  • After the Wedding (2006)

Susanne Bier is my favorite director of the recent generation. "In a Better World" is riveting. I feel very much the interpersonal conflicts, struggles and moral dilemma the characters have gone through.

Jan Troell

  • Everlasting Moments (2008)
  • Hamsun (1996)

"Hamsun" portray the life of the Norwegian Nobel laureates in Literature. We saw his personal life as distant to his family and a hard to approach person. He has genuinely believed in Nazi in WWII. Those downfall led to a difficult last chapter in his life.

Lone Scherfig

  • Italian for Beginners (2000)

One of the film from the Dogme 95 movement. I am not especially attracted by the dogme style. However "Italian for Beginners" is just a sweet, contemporary film that bring people in a small town together in the pretext of learning Italian. Very charming compare to other edgy dogme films.

Bille August

  • Pelle the Conqueror (1987)

Epic!

Vilgot Sjöman

  • I Am Curious (Yellow) (1967)

I have fallen asleep in this, despite its soft porn reputation.

Thomas Vinterberg

  • The Hunt (2012)

A thought provoking film about an innocent teacher whose life is ruined by a false accusation of child molestation.

Petter Næss

  • Elling (2001)

Roy Andersson

  • You, the Living (2007)

I love this dark comedy of many stories of desolated people

Gabriel Axel

  • Babette's Feast (1987)

Surprisingly good I have talked about in a few weeks ago.

DR

  • Borgen (Season I)

One of the best TV drama ever. The behind the scene struggle among the political parties and the characters are tense and dramatic. Every episode packs a moral punch. This makes it stand out from all the rest.

There a I few more I still looking forward to see. Unfortunately not all of them are easily available.

  • Kitchen Stories (2003)
  • The Best Intentions (1992)
  • The Emigrants (1971)
  • Borgen (Season II, III)

2016.04.01 comments

 

Vulnerable

This piece below is from my Daily Write Round Robin class, my response to the Brussels attack.


We are flesh and blood, vulnerable creatures. If someone put a knife in me, hit me with a car or shot me in the head, I will die. I don't spend much time thinking about these dreadful aggression at all. This is not part of my daily life. But sometimes I have to.

Just what make people to build a bomb, planting them in busy city center, filling them with nails, all with the intention to inflict maximum harm on innocent people. Even military fighting in a war has a code of honor. What kind of people will willfully murder mothers and children?

Everything have a first step. The first time before you make a public speech, you were nervous, then you performed and it went well. You have gained an experience and learned a new skill. You build upon these success with many baby steps. Slow it elevates you to become a successful leader with capability that people admire. This is called growth.

I wonder if there is an alternative growth that turn regular people into heartless terrorist. Perhaps there is a Terrorists Academy, or whatever name it goes by, that provides people these training? Perhaps the first thing is for them to do some small job, carry contraband stuff, or knifing an enemy. Those who do well will raise through the rank, making many baby steps until they grow into lead warriors. Then they go to carry out their murderous mission.

Beneath the world we live there is an underground world. The rules are different there. For every dream and aspiration we strive for, there is a parallel variation down there whose purpose are plainly vicious and evil.

2016.03.23 comments

 

Pearl of the Orient

Last time I have talked about a movie I love, Woody Allen's Another Woman. It has an inspiring story. You have a rough time. Nothing seems to go right. You start to harbor self-doubt. Your perfect world is crumbling. Then you discovered there was someone who loved you. He is the true believer in you. He knows the real you deep down and he told you how beautiful you are.

This is how I feel when I listen to Luo Da You's song again. In 1991, the Taiwanese singer-songwriter wrote his love song to Hong Kong, Pearl of the Orient. 羅大佑 - 東方之珠.

2016.03.08 comments

 

Elegy

Isabel Coixet's Elegy has become another favorite movie of mine that I rewatch every few years (Atonement is another). Consuela Castillo (‎Penélope Cruz) has a mysterious allure. On the surface she is a nice but conventional woman. Penélope Cruz is for sure beautiful and sensual. But there is clearly a character behind her that makes her special. This is the restaurant scene, in which She challenges her beau, that I really like.

What I really like is she has much self-respect. She sends a clear message that oblige a response, making David retreat in a defensive position. I always wonder why does she not walk away from the old bastard after the scene. After reviewing the clip many times, I start to see she might actually love him.

2016.03.06 comments

 

Remember Jane Underwood

I have recevied an email this afternoon. It said Jane, the instructor of our writing class, has passed away. I was left with a feeling of lost and sadness. [more...]

2016.02.05 comments

 

Small Company v.s. Big Company

I have figured out a difference of working in small company v.s. big company. I was working in a small 25 person company before. Sometimes I came into the office and saw a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. I loaded all dishes in the the disk washer, added detergent, and then turned on the machine to clean them. [more...]

2016.02.04 comments

 

Falun Gong creeps me out; so do their enemies

I was doing a vanity search of myself on Google. My profile appears on a whole bunch of social network and websites. One entry looks suspicious though. I appear on what looks kind of like a news website, for some critical comment I have made against Falun Gong sometime ago. Crap, poor judgment of me to offend a religious group. Told you to keep your big mouth shut on the net. Now they are going to want my head. [more...]

2016.02.01 comments

 

Nobody's perfect - great movies endings

A great ending is more than a conclusion of the stories. It elevates the entire experience, distinguishes good movies from great, and leaves us with an impression that last. Here are a few endings that really resonate with me. (SPOILER ALERT) While I am not going into very specific details, these are great movies and I recommend you to watch them first. [more...]

2016.01.30 comments

 

艱險我奮進,困乏我多情

25 years after I graduated from New Asia college, the biggest gift the school has bestowed to me is perhaps the school anthem. Written by our late founder Ch'ien Mu, the two phrases still stay with me anytime I face difficulty. [more...]

2016.01.18 comments

 

Babette's Feast

I've finally watched Babette's Feast nearly 30 years after it was first released. It was surprising satisfying. For the most part, it looks like another Scandinavian period movie. Then it comes the final part. In this isolated rural coastal community in Denmark, a congregation of aging followers led a life of austerity. One day Babette has won a lottery by surprise. On the occasion of the founding pastor's hundredth birthday, Babette proposed to cook the congregation a French dinner, paid for by her own fund of course. [more...]

2016.01.17 comments

 

Titanic Model

We have finished building Hang Hang's Titanic model. I did most of the assembly and detail works. Hang Hang helped on painting. Good thing he has learned to color within lines. Now this becomes his favorite toy. He loves to manipulate it and sink it at various angles. You may wonder whether it is a good idea to gives a five year old a model as detailed and as delicate as this? I think I know the answer. Let's enjoy it while it last. [more...]

2016.01.09 comments

 

Ruth Asawa at De Young

Ruth Asawa Wire Sculptures

Next time when visiting the observation tower at De Young Museum, don't miss the Ruth Asawa sculptures showing in the elevator lobby. Both the observation tower and the sculptures can be seen for free. I have rushed by so many times without playing attention and missed them. Just noticed how amazing they are, especially when they interact with the shadows on the wall. [more...]

2015.12.31 comments

 

Around San Francisco by Muni

This was one of those day when I have some free time. Already spending too much time in front of computer, I really wanted to get out. How about taking a tour around the city? I can just hop on a Muni bus and let it slowly take me to visit little known neighborhoods, to see part of the city that's seldom seen, and on bus routes I have never taken? This will be an exercise of patience, a meditation on a meandering course if you will. Move over 49 miles drive, I am going to make this all on our unassuming buses, all for as little as $4.50. [more...]

2015.12.27 comments

 

Winter Solstice

We have just passed the winter solstice of this year, Tuesday December 22nd. On this day, it has the shortest day and longest night of the year. I always look forward to the winter solstice. Because this mark the shortest day of the year. From this day on, everyday there will be more daylight and I will become more cheerful. [more...]

2015.12.23 comments

 

Hang Hang's Drawing

Hang Hang's number one obsession was volcano. He wants to read about all things volcano. And he talks about it all the time. Every details of disastrous eruption scenarios he talks about them repeatedly. Volcano is almost the only topic he draw, a coned shape mountain with some fume coming out of the top. [more...]

2015.12.05 comments

 

Old man crossing street

An old man with dropped head was crossing a street. He held the leash to a poodle walking a few feet in front of him. He was proceeding excruciating slow in the cross walk. I watched him through the large window of a cafe. My first instinct is I feel concerned about his safety. What if some careless driver come by, fail to see him, and hit him or his dog? But next something comes into my mind. I have seen this scene before. This is the scene from Krzysztof Kieślowski's Three Colors trilogy. [more...]

2015.11.28 comments

 

past articles »

 

BBC News

 

Syria's Aleppo 'catastrophic' - UN (28 Apr 2016)

 

Ted Cruz 'is Lucifer' - ex-Speaker (28 Apr 2016)

 

Arrests linked to San Bernardino gunman (28 Apr 2016)

 

US forces 'punished for hospital attack' (28 Apr 2016)

 

Search warrant issued over Prince death (28 Apr 2016)

 

'Many sign' Venezuela recall petition (28 Apr 2016)

 

French police injured in protest clashes (28 Apr 2016)

 

Corbyn denies crisis amid Livingstone row (28 Apr 2016)

 

Computer viruses infect nuclear plant (28 Apr 2016)

 

Gene therapy reverses sight loss (28 Apr 2016)

more »

 

SF Gate

 

Bay Area News (7 Jan 2012)

 

City Insider (11 Feb 2012)

 

Crime Scene (13 Feb 2012)

 

C.W Newius Column (10 Jan 2012)

 

C.W. Nevius Blog (11 Feb 2012)

 

Education News (10 Jan 2012)

 

KALW (11 Feb 2012)

 

Matier and Ross Blog (11 Feb 2012)

 

Make it so: Samsung wants to build ‘Star Trek’ holodeck (28 Apr 2016)

 

Career development can help retain talent (28 Apr 2016)

 

Behind the scenes at Apple's controversial China iPhone factory (28 Apr 2016)

 

‘Million Dollar Listing San Francisco’ won’t return for 2nd season (28 Apr 2016)

 

FBI won’t (or can’t) say how it accessed locked iPhone (27 Apr 2016)

 

Business News Roundup, April 28 (27 Apr 2016)

more »

 


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