Do you talk to yourself?

I do that sometimes, and apparently it is good for you: The Benefits of Talking to Yourself

So just ignore those weird looks and just start talking to yourself, out loud. 

However, for me, I usually stop short at talking to myself when I am at work because my staff had turned to me before with an inquiring look, thinking I'm asking her something, and I would sheepishly tell her I'm only talking to myself. 


When people disappoint you


There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. 
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nothing to me is unexpected. No disappointment is unexpected - whether it's movies or people or relationships. I'm always ready for the punch directly between the eyes. So I get hurt, but I never get hurt. Happens all the time. 
~ Brian Grazer

There's always failure. And there's always disappointment. And there's always loss. But the secret is learning from the loss, and realizing that none of those holes are vacuums. 
~ Michael J. Fox

The principles of living greatly include the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and trial with humility. 
~ Thomas S.Manson 

Regret is not a proactive feeling. It is situated in disappointment, sorrow, even remorse. It merely wishes things were different without an act to cause a difference. However, repentance is different. Repentance is an admission of, hatred of, and turning away from sin before God. 
~ Monica Johnson

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.
~ Colossians 3:23-25


What would you name your guinea pig?

My hubby sent me an article from Gizmodo about this organization called Portland Guinea Pig Rescue that requested for an Artificial Intelligence (AI) to come up with names for their guinea pigs that are put up for adoption. 

The names that the AI came up with were brilliant and as what the writer termed them as so quintessentially guinea pig. 

This is my favourite: Popchop

Do click on the link above to check it out. 


Do you know how a sentence can end in five prepositions?

Five prepositions? Really?

I got this from Steven Pinker's The Language Instinct, a book I'm finding difficult to read, but this is just brilliant:

Daddy trudges upstairs to Junior's bedroom to read him a bedtime story. Junior spots the book, scowls, and asks, "Daddy, what did you bring that book that I don't want to be read to out of up for?"


So many books waiting to be read

I am reading The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker but it is taking longer than I expected. It is not an easy book to read. And I have been purchasing many books in between and I'm hoping to start reading them but Pinker's book is still in the way. I need to finish it quickly. These books are waiting for me:

The God Who is There, Finding Your Place in God's Story
by D.A. Carson

The Parables of Jesus
by James Montgomery Boice

Cries from the Heart, Bringing God Near When He Feels So Far
by Ravi Zacharias 

Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts, Discovering Their Significance to You as a Christian
by Dr Richard Booker

Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God
by Paul Copan 

The Case for Christianity Answer Book
by Lee Strobel

The Goodness of God, Assurance of Purpose in the Midst of Suffering
by Randy Alcorn 


Christ is enough for me

I know I have blogged before on how I disagree with some of the lyrics of Hillsongs's Christ is Enough. I may have changed my mind but whatever it is, I needed the song today. 

I had to remind myself that Jesus is all I need and that I can definitely depend on him, one hundred percent. 


When is it time to give up?

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. 
~ Thomas A. Edison

Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable. 
~ Joe Biden

Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent. 
~ Marilyn vos Savant

I have a theory that burnout is about resentment. And you beat it by knowing what it is you're giving up that makes you resentful. 
~ Marissa Mayer


Which is the preferred Chinese bible translation?

So much for trying to read a novel in Chinese, I should have just stuck to the Bible in Chinese. The beauty of it that I don't even have to read whole book, like a novel, or even whole chapters at any one time. 

A verse a day is good enough. 

Using the Tecarta bible app, they only have the Chinese Union Version available, which I have just purchased at only RM3.90. 

However, what is the preferred Chinese bible translation?


I'm seriously addicted to these language apps!

Clockwise from top left: StickyStudy Chinese (HSK Hanzi SRS Flashcard), AnkiMobile Flashcards, Clavis Sinica Xiezi HSK Levels 1-3, TrainChinese: Dictionary & Flashcards

Since I started getting more serious in learning Mandarin, I am now addicted to these apps! I cannot go by one day without using them. And that is amusing since I have always hated studying Chinese. 

The catalyst to it all is the Anki app. I uploaded 5 pre-built flashcards decks from Chinese Audio Flashcards and these flashcards worked for me because they come in sentences giving context to the words I'm learning. 

HSK Flashcard in Anki

I progressed so well with the decks that I re-downloaded the StickyStudy app to help me view it character by character and word by word as and when I like. I can't do that with Anki, with it being a true Spaced Repetition System (SRS) app, where you will only see the cards when it's time for you to see the card. You can't call it up by choice. 

HSK Vocabulary Cards in StickyStudy

I have also began to use a lot of TrainChinese which I find is the best of all Chinese dictionary apps. The free version allows you to keep two lists of words in flashcard form. I wonder if there is a word limit to the free version. 

Screenshots of TrainChinese

I blogged a few days ago about Chinese writing being at risk. About a week before reading that BBC article, I did start using a notebook to practice my Chinese writing, but I found carrying a physical book with me quite cumbersome. 

So me being me, I naturally went hunting and found the Clavis Sinica Chinese character trainer app. In just 2 days, I have already practiced and put to memory 153 characters, compared to just 22 words I have in my notebook after one week. 

The only thing I'm not happy with it is that the app has not been updated since 2012. I hope they will update it soon with the upcoming iOS 11. 

Screenshots of CS Xiezi Character Trainer

These apps are money well spent, since I am not taking any classes or hiring any teachers anyway. 

They only cost me:
- StickyStudy RM16.90/$4.99
- Anki RM104.90/$25
   HSK Flashcards RM45/$10 with 
   a promo-code
- TrainChinese is free but it comes with
   an annual subscription for premium use
- CS Xiezi HSK 1-3 RM16.90/$4.99
Total = RM183.70/$44.98


Hen Party!

Our good friend will be married off to Dublin very soon and so we held a (very tame) hen party for her and here we are, so happy for her and yet so sad she will soon be so faraway. 


Memrise is the app to go when learning a language

I had lunch with my colleague and we started chatting about language, which you know by now is my current favourite topic. 

In the course of our conversation, I recommended him to download Memrise as I find it the best app to begin learning a language. It is a good way to start and when you are more familiar with it, you can then begin to expand your resources to help your progress in the language.

But when he began his Mandarin deck in his Android phone, I was intrigued by how different and how much more interesting the interface is compared to the iOS version. How I wish we get the same in iOS!

The Android version has this thing which they called "Mems". It is something that you can upload to help you remember the word better, and these are provided by users themselves. 

Look at what this user did with the Chinese word 很好, which means "very good" or "very well". It is brilliant and so, so funny. Kudos to Kitwiggin!



How accurate is your home blood pressure monitor

It is a good practice to monitor your blood pressure at home but how accurate is your machine? 

I did some research and found this article from Harvard Health that provides some information on how to get more accurate readings from blood monitors at home: Some home blood pressure monitors aren't accurate.

They advice that, "the best device for most people is a device with an automatically inflating arm cuff and large digital readout for easy reading. To get the most accurate blood pressure readings at home, follow these steps:
  • Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, and don’t smoke, during the 30 minutes before the test.
  • Sit quietly for five minutes with your back supported and feet on the floor.
  • When making the measurement, support your arm so your elbow is at the level of your heart.
  • Push your sleeves out of the way and wrap the cuff over bare skin.
  • Measure your blood pressure according to the machine’s instructions. Leave the deflated cuff in place, wait a minute, then take a second reading. If the readings are close, average them. If not, repeat again and average the three readings.
  • Don’t be too concerned if a reading is high. Relax for a few minutes and try again.
  • Keep a record of your blood pressure readings and the time of day they are made."

Is the Chinese writing at risk?

This was published in BBC recently and I found it very interesting: Will Smartphones Kill the Art of Chinese Handwriting

It claims that the Chinese handwriting is at risk because most people who text in Chinese now use the romanized Hanyu Pinyin keyboard to write and send text, and this may reduce the fluency of the written language of the Chinese. 

For example, if you want to send a text saying you'll be coming tomorrow, all you need to do is to type w m t h l and the keyboard will give you 我明天会来, which is exactly what I just did here. 

When I started learning Mandarin, I used the handwriting Chinese keyboard that requires me to write out the entire character before the keyboard will give me the word. This means I will need to know the exact strokes of the words. 

But recently, my colleague recommended me the romanized Hanyu Pinyin keyboard and I found it so easy to use because I no longer need to know exactly how to write the words. I only need to know how it looks like more or less. 

Therefore, I can identify with the BBC article and video. All because of the proliferation of smartphones, the Chinese writing may be at stake. 

However, this reminded me of a TED Talk I have seen before that asked the question if texting is killing language. 

John MacWhorter who is a renowned linguist claims that texting is an entirely new language altogether. I found it so interesting when he said that "texting is not writing at all. Humanity began with just speech...and in a traditional estimate, if humanity had existed for 24 hours, writing only came along at about 11:07pm."

He says that conversationally, we don't talk like we write. But if we can formally speak as we write, we should also then write as we speak and that is where texting comes into the picture. He claims that it is an entirely different language, a finger speech. 

However, I am not sure if this applies to Chinese, which is an isolating language, with a 1:1 relationship in its morpheme to meaning. In other words, there are no inflections in the Chinese language and how you speak is how you write, and it is also how you text. Therefore, in the modern world of texting, it may not be good news for the Chinese language. 

Or could it be what has always been just mere complaints of many over the decades and even centuries that never came true. These were shared by MacWhorton in his TED Talk:

As you can see, the worries over the centuries were uncalled for. Humanity changed and moved on and language in the same way gets adapted along the way. 

We may be using our languages differently across the years, but we will never be bereft of it. 


My Four Favourite Songs, no longer in English

My hubby quipped the other day, "Where is my wife (who only used to listen to English songs like I do)? I want her back."

I still have playlists of my usual favourite English songs, mostly melancholic and sad ones, and many of them by Ed Sheeran, still love him, as well as a whole lot of classical and sacred songs. 

But my latest playlists do not have a single English song in them. And I have created a playlist today with just these four songs that I really, really like--for now--and which I can listen to over and over and over again. 

I don't really understand much of this song yet by Eric Chou. I couldn't find any English translation of its lyrics and Google Translate was hopeless. Anyone can help?

This one by Yoga Lin is what distopia is to a movie. It talks about destroying the world and just letting the useless self be, it is hopeless anyway. Not a good message and yet, there is some truth in it what with the state of the world we are in right now. And I find the musicality and lyricality of the song very interesting, and it has a really good tune too. 

I've blogged about this by Bai Ann several days ago. I simply love her deep rich voice and it how it talks about how one can find love even if they themselves are lost in vastness of the universe. 

Ah...who cannot but adore a love song, when one pours out one's heart and adoration to another. And how lovely it would be when someone like Seo In Guk calls you his flower. 


Create a picture to remember Chinese words

I sometimes find it extremely hard to remember certain Chinese characters. 

I use the TrainChinese app to find out the meaning of the different parts of the character in order for me create a picture out of it to aid my memory. 

But I know it will not be as accurate as it would be in Traditional Chinese but as long as it helps, it doesn't bother me. 

And I found this excellent poster on Simplified Radicals Chart for easy reference. 


Find Us Faithful

We at Grace Notes are required to pen down our testimony based on the songs we will be singing in our upcoming thanksgiving event at the end of this year. 

I have been procrastinating it and not being too sure what to write about. I am thinking that my life at this point of time is rather mundane, and I am actually feeling guilty, rightfully or not, about it. 

And so when I looked at the list, this song stood out: Find Us Faithful by Steve Green. 

I found this video by this young lady, which I find is quite a good interpretation of the song. 

I will need to take the next few days to listen and delve in the song in order to be able to write about the ordinariness of life. 

I hope my so-called writer's block will be unblocked soon. 


Doraemon comic books!!!

I found a good way to read stuff in Chinese: comics! And since I am a Doraemon fan, I need to get my hands on these comic books. 

I have "read" these in my childhood days every time I visited my cousin sister, which was very often and I devoured them with fervour. The only difference was that since I couldn't read Chinese back then, I only looked at the pictures to figure out the stories. And I had no problems with that and thoroughly enjoyed the comics. 

But for now, since I'm getting along quite moderately well in my learning of the language, I would love to get my hands on them and start actually reading them. Except that I think compared to my cousin's days, where each copy would probably cost less than RM5 or less, I saw them in the Kinokuniya website at more than RM20 each. I read somewhere that there are 45 volumes of them, and that will cost me a total of almost RM1,000! 


Photo source: thekamfamily

What Brings Me to You by Bai Ann

I was having a conversation with my colleague about the Mandarin songs we like and he recommended me this song, which I immediately fell in love with. 

It's a song with quite deep lyrics sung by someone with a nice and rich voice. 

Here is the lyrics of the song with its translation:

 I am a dust of the universe
Wandering in this vast sea of people
Accidentally fall into your arms
And I don’t want to leave any more 

 I am a dust of the universe
A trivial state of being
Accidentally become to your beloved
How much I would like to believe the eternity

是什麼 讓我遇見這樣的你
是什麼 讓我不再懷疑自己
是什麼 讓我不再害怕失去
在這茫茫人海裡 我不要變得透明
 What brings me to you
What made me stop doubting myself
What made me not to fear to lose
I don’t want to become transparent in this vast sea of people

I am a dust of the universe
Wandering in this vast sea of people
If you are my inevitable existence
And I don’t want to leave any more

是什麼 讓我遇見這樣的你
是什麼 讓我不再懷疑自己
是什麼 讓我不再害怕失去
在這茫茫人海裡 我不要變得透明
What brings me to you
What made me stop doubting myself
What made me not to fear to lose
I don’t want to become transparent in this vast sea of people

If your leave is meant to be
How should I learn to not rely on you

是什麼 讓我遇見這樣的你
是什麼 讓我不再懷疑自己
是什麼 讓我不再害怕失去
在這茫茫人海裡 我不要變得透明
What brings me to you
What made me stop doubting myself
What made me not to fear to lose
I don’t want to become transparent in this vast sea of people

Source: shintasword