Blogging: I realize that my posts have been somewhat lacking lately (in volume at least, and perhaps also in quality). To resolve this, I’ll use prompts as inspiration for (some) future posts. It’s too late for this week, but I’ll definitely use one soon.

Music: A friend showed me “Playing Love” from The Legend of 1900. Well, she actually showed me this version, which is a half step higher than all the other versions I found. I like the higher version better, but I don’t think transposing is worth the effort. Maybe if I practice enough, I’ll be able to transpose on the fly.

This is interesting though: I tend to prefer pieces in their original key, but for “Playing Love,” I prefer the transposed version. Perhaps I actually prefer the version I hear first, which is almost always in the original key. Taking a blind test on this would be really neat.

I played a ton of pieces in band that were in F, B-flat, or E-flat major. This makes sense for band instruments, and it partially explains why playing in an orchestra was so refreshing. But don’t get me wrong—there are plenty of pieces that I would rather play in a band.



Food/Weather: (I’m not sure what to tag this.) Hurricane Florence has been the biggest piece of news this week. It’s supposed to land in the next few days, and thankfully it’s not predicted to (directly) hit the Triangle anymore. Perhaps it will continue to weaken as it approaches.

Seeing the empty bread and water aisles at Target was a little disturbing. I used the hurricane as an excuse to buy some snacks I normally wouldn’t buy; hopefully, I won’t resort to eating them all in the next few days. I also have some “crispy” (i.e., uncooked instant) noodles. They actually make instant noodle snacks—I wonder how they’d taste after boiling. I did just buy a few…


Chinese: So in Chinese, “croissant” is translated to “牛角面包” which literally means “cow horn bread,” but I didn’t know this until recently. I saw “牛角面包” and asked myself “what is the 角 from 豆角 (green beans) doing here?” My friend told me 角 means horn, and that answered everything: croissants look like horns, and so do green beans (I guess). Funnily enough, Googling “豆角” directs me to Cowpea.


Education: I recently discovered Natural Math, a movement advocating math education through playful exploration and “cool free play” rather than repetitive drills and calculations. It looks like one of their goals is to introduce children to the beautiful aspects of mathematics and inspire them to design/explore/innovate.

I’m in the “back to basics” camp—as far as I can tell, most children should play less and do more drills, however rote the drills might seem. I think creativity isn’t possible without mastery of the basics, and mastery requires doing lots of drills.

But I do agree that certain mathematical concepts should be introduced to children much earlier. For me, these concepts include searching, sorting, combinatorics, probability, graphs… basically the stuff from a first course in algorithms. I sure wish I had seen this stuff much earlier than I first did.


Cooking: I tried following this recipe for a tomato-beef dumpling, and it went terribly. The filling was extremely watery, and the skins varied greatly in shape and size. I don’t think I’ll attempt this again for a long time.

Sleep: I’ve been getting up earlier than usual and realized that I had been underrating mornings: no mosquitoes, no flies, no heat. You’ve got the whole day ahead of you, and you don’t feel bad if you pig out. But late-night serenity is also nice, so I guess it can go either way.

But maybe we can have both—there are some articles on technological advancements that could eliminate our need to sleep. Maybe one day, everyone will take anti-sleeping pills, and anyone who doesn’t gets left behind. Sounds kinda scary.


Board games: I realized that I’m not a fan of endgame scoring. They seem to diminish the tension that I enjoy—I find myself thinking, “here’s where we stand, but there’s still endgame scoring, so what does it matter?” Sometimes I could estimate the endgame scores, but I’m usually too lazy to do so.

In contrast, I prefer games with clean endings (e.g., no endgame points, a player acquires their 10th point, all players but one are eliminated), which includes many cooperative games. For me, games with clean endings are generally more engaging throughout.


Chinese: I realized that 来劲 has two meanings: exciting (e.g., gambling is very exciting), and annoy/offend/sass. “少跟我来劲儿” (“don’t sass me”) has become one of my new favorite phrases—it makes me feel so empowered, but at the same time, I find it hilarious because it’s something I’d (probably) never seriously say.

I also realized 爬 is both “crawl” and “climb.” While we’re at it, I always forget the word for ladder: 梯子. It’s the same 梯 as the one in 电梯 (elevator), so I guess I shouldn’t have difficulty remembering it.


Books: My friend Albert and I recently read Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. This book is a masterpiece. Gawande eloquently addresses the conflicts and emotions people face when their time is running out, yet it never gets overwhelmingly dark. This is the first book I’ve ever read that I would truly consider a “must-read.”

Chinese: I recently hung out with some Chinese people who spoke to each other a lot. I enjoyed listening to their conversations even though I sometimes struggled to keep up. I realized that I’ve become accustomed to reading subtitles when observing people speak in Chinese. The ubiquity of Chinese subtitles is, in my opinion, one of the best parts of learning Chinese.