Tag Archives: Chinese

Learned Optimism


Are you a pessimist? Is it better to be an optimist than a pessimist? Can you learn to become an optimist even if you are not one yet? These are some of the questions answered by this book, Learned Optimism by Dr. Martin Seligman, known as the father of Positive Psychology.

I find the book very interesting, but not “life changing” like some Amazon reviewer wrote. It contains a test that will tell you whether you are an optimist or a pessimist. In the end you will be able to understand your own explanatory style, i.e. how you tend to explain good and bad events. I found the exercise illuminating, and thought provoking. When you blame yourself for a project’s failure, are you being pessimistic, or responsible? Having done the test myself and had my husband do it, both of us Chinese, I’ve also come to a prediction that most highly educated Chinese people, especially people like us who majored in engineering, will probably test to be pessimist, like we both did. It’s a baseless speculation on my part, and won’t be proved unless all my Chinese friends go and take the test (by the way it’s available under Questionaires->Optimism at www.authentichappiness.org, free registration required). Well, it’s not entirely baseless, it has to do with how we were raised and taught, but I won’t elaborate further because if I do it will ruin the test for anyone who is interested in taking it.

The disputation techniques introduced in the later part of the book are interesting. I can see it being helpful to some extent but am not sure how effective it really can be in practice. Maybe I’m just hopelessly pessimistic and hard-headed. :-(


Year of the Rat


According to Wikipedia, The Rat, the first of the 12-year cycle of animals in Chinese Zodiac, "was welcomed in ancient times as a protector and bringer of material prosperity", and "is associated with aggression, wealth, charm, and order, yet also with death, war, the occult, pestilence, and atrocities".

Rat people "are leaders, pioneers and conquerors. They are charming, passionate, charismatic, practical and hardworking. They are endowed with great leadership skills and are the most highly organized, meticulous, and systematic of the twelve signs. Intelligent and cunning at the same time, rat people are highly ambitious and strong-willed people who are keen and unapologetic promoters of their own agendas, which often include money and power".

If you are interested in reading more, here is the whole thing. If you are a fan of Chinese Astrology, here are some sites for you:





Wish everyone a very prosperous new year.



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Thanksgiving Duck

Please don’t laugh, because I’m serious. We are doing duck this year. We’ve done turkey a few times and goose one time (at Christmas). It’s time for something imaginative, and sinful…

Roast Five-Spice Duck with Honeyed-Mango Chutney Sauce

– brought to you by the fastidiously epicurean husband

– photographed by yours truly

1. The Brine

made with orange, onion, Chinese star anise (八角), garlic, ginger, salt, sugar, soy sauce, and all-spice powder

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The Fable of the Bee And the Flower

The third installment of my “Chinese Fable translation series“. I love translating.


Original Chinese text:



My English translation:

The Fable of Letting Go

A rose withered. A bee however was still sucking on it because she had sucked honey from it before. Now, on the same rose, all she could suck out was bitter, poisonous juice. The bee felt the difference as it was so sweet before. She became miserable and complained and complained, why did the taste change? Why couldn’t it be just like before?
Finally, one day, the bee gathered her strength and flew a bit higher. Then and there, she saw that, nearby the withered rose, there were blossoming flowers all over the place.

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Lust, Caution

Lust Caution

The moment I stepped out of the theater after watching Ang Lee’s latest film, “Lust, Caution”, I didn’t believe it’d be possible for me to write a post about it. Words seem so powerless when trying to describe such a powerful cinematic experience.

Yet, the essence of this story was so simple, so haunting that I couldn’t let it go without putting something down. After all, that is why I keep a journal, to record things that’s worth recording.

If you, like most other people, have not seen this film (even in NYC there are only 2 theaters that are showing it), please stop reading. This post is solely intended for people who have watched it and is not a review or intro of any sort. If after watching it you are interested in what I have to say, come back and find this post. I’d love to hear what you think of the film and what you think of my point of view.

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Bizarre Mooncakes

An idea inspired by some comments made in my post Moon Festival: Celebration of Togetherness, here is a collection of some of the most novel, intriguing, <put your own adjective here> modern mooncake fillings that I’ve seen mentioned on the web (in large part thanks to wikipedia).

Disclaimer: I have not tasted any one of them.


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Moon Festival: Celebration of Togetherness

Full Moon

First let me say this really loud,

Happy Moon Festival to Everyone!

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