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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. Whose 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

 

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