Archive for the ‘La Vida’ category

I’ll be doing this for a living from now on

May 1, 2012

Today I began working full-time as a translator and editor for the Executive Yuan of the Republic of China. I doubt I’ll be able to contribute to this blog daily as I did before, but I’ll write when I’m able! Thanks again for reading!


Don’t Invite a Shocking Rejection! These Marriage Proposals are Bound to Fail

February 14, 2012

Don’t Invite a Shocking Rejection! These Marriage Proposals are Bound to Fail
まさかのNO! 失敗するプロポーズの言葉
Article by Minako Kume, All About’s Weddings Writer, posted on Yahoo! Japan December 11, 2011

An uncouth proposal can make a marriage go up in smoke
When entertainers hold press conferences to announce their marriages, they are always asked, “How did you propose?” That’s because those words carry weight for the rest of the marriage. There are already married couples who were aware of this at the time, but remember, marriage is a big hurdle to cross, and the proposal is an important start.

If the proposer (usually a man) wants to make a good, snappy, successful proposal, he should ask the person being proposed to (usually a woman) to describe the situation and words she would like to hear. If the couple’s expectations are the same, their “wonderful proposal” will put them on the way to a happy and successful marriage. If the woman feels the proposal is reluctant, though she may accept it anyway, she’ll keep complaining that “that proposal was terrible!” long afterward, and if the proposal is even worse, she could just say “No!” In order to keep that from happening, do a thorough examination of what you’re going to say.

Don’t tell a careerist that you want her to make you miso soup
What kind of phrases are turn-offs largely depends on your lifestyles, environment, personalities, and tastes, so there’s nothing you absolutely cannot say.

For example, if you ask a woman who is very invested in her career to “wash my pants” or “make me miso soup every morning,” she’s probably not going to like it. There’s a big chance she’ll say “I’m not your housewife!” and punch you in the face. But if she already wants to be a homemaker, she may not dislike hearing those same requests.

On the same token, “I’ll make you happy” sounds like a wonderful thing to say, but if your girlfriend is self-reliant, she might get angry with you and say “I don’t need anyone else’s help to be happy!” Saying you’ll do something for someone or make them a certain way sounds assertive in an old-fashioned way, you see. “We’ll be happy together!” would be safer.

Avoid negative phrases
The same idea can leave a good impression or a bad impression depending on how you say it, so be careful. For example, “let’s be together forever” and “let’s enjoy growing old together” won’t cause problems, but “follow me into the grave” will kill the mood. You might want to say “if I become an invalid, change my diapers” to make your proposal more playful, but the person hearing that would feel nauseous.

Married life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are plenty of painful and trying times as well. Even so, introducing negative thoughts at the proposal stage isn’t very wise. There are times when hearing a frank statement like “I’m not confident we can have a happy life together, but…” will make a good impression on a woman, but when it comes to the proposal, deep down she’d rather hear you bluff a little.

Lines that will not be taken as a proposal
An actress on a variety show once told this story: her boyfriend told her he wanted to buy a house. When they entered the model room, he said “what do you think of this home?” He seemed to think he had made a marriage proposal, but she didn’t realize it and thought he was just asking her to discuss the purchase with him. The man thought he had been rejected, and they never married.

There are definitely times when the wording is too indirect and someone doesn’t realize she’s hearing a proposal. If the actress’s boyfriend had followed “What do you think of this home?” with “We’d be living here together, you know,” perhaps she would have realized what was going on. Complacent lines are dangerous. The desire to say something elaborate is understandable, but if the other person doesn’t understand your meaning, it’s meaningless. Being easily understood is the most important thing, right?

What you can’t say when you consult her parents
If she accepts your proposal, the next step is to speak with her parents. You have to be careful about what you say to them, too. For example, “[Her name], please.”…people say that in TV dramas, but today’s parents would smack you down and say “our daughter is not a thing!” The safe thing to say would be “please let me marry [name]” or “please give me the permission to marry [name]”.

And another thing
You only have one chance in your life to propose. Even so, you can get too hyped up about it and blow it. Simple and straightforward words in a romantic situation can make a woman’s heart pound all the same. Please think not only about the words you will say but the place where you will say it.

Traveling in China August 15 to September 15

August 15, 2011

I’m traveling to Hong Kong, Yunnan, Xi’an, Beijing, Nanjing, Suzhou, Shanghai, and Hangzhou to improve my knowledge of the continent. I’ll resume writing in this blog when I return. Peace be with you!

臉書時代的情形 ~ The Facebook Generation

May 28, 2011

作者: 史杰輝
編輯: 沈若榆


The Facebook Generation
Author: James Smyth
Editor: Shen Ruo-yu

Ever since I went to college, I’ve been able to use Facebook to effortlessly keep up with my friends from a distance. And whether my friends are American or Taiwanese, they can use Facebook to keep in touch with me. Because Facebook also lets friends trade web addresses, it’s also made a great contribution to the news and entertainment industries.

If we can use the network to ease the pain of separation, what could be wrong with it? Well, such a convenient social network can be addictive. Though Facebook is a handy communication tool, it still can’t compare to face-to-face interaction. Even if you maintain a friendship with someone for years through the Internet, you can’t understand certain things about their lives. Not cultivating one’s interests outside of Facebook and spending most of one’s life in front of a monitor are not things we should look favorably upon.

I have a few friends who refuse to use Facebook. They say only life in the outside world is real. Because Facebook has done so much good for me, I don’t want to give it up, but I keep track of how much time I spend on the computer; I want to use my limited lifespan wisely.


May 27, 2011






Regionalism’s Influence
Author: James Smyth
Editor: Zhou Chang-zhen

Today my classmate Stephanie said that some people who are “half-planted in their hometown soil” [a Chinese figure of speech] can’t help hating the place. I think this is very true, so first I’d like to expand on her thought. When I was a student, I often used sarcasm to describe my hometown. Even though I knew it was a very safe and prosperous place, I thought the people there were shallow and arrogant. When you’re an adolescent, it’s natural to criticize other people and things, but if you don’t have a good reason for it you’ll simply hurt yourself and others. My love for my hometown has never been stronger than it is now.

Taking it a step further, I’ve now lived in four other places: Duke University, Madrid, my Japanese farming village, and Taipei, each of which has its own great qualities. I’ve thought of each place as “my home” before. Whenever I start to dream of a place, I know I’ve become comfortable there. I supported three teams during last year’s World Cup. I woke up at 4 AM to watch the championship game, and I was celebrating all day after Spain won.

I imagine my attitude conflicts with traditional regionalism and nationalism, but in today’s internationalized society there are more people like me every year. To tell the truth, though, more than a few emigrants to Japan complain that no matter how many years they’ve lived there, and no matter how many local activities they’ve participated in, the natives see them as guests and ask them when they’re planning to return home. This is completely different from the emotional burden carried by, for example, an emigrant to America. Though the Japanese easily distinguish a person looks different, they should at least acknowledge that Japanese ancestry is not a necessary condition for being a Japanese person. You all know I treasured my experience in Japan, but I also felt this kind of distance from people when I lived there.

Though I am also a minority in Taiwan, I’ve never felt left out here, and I find that amazing. ICLP’s international atmosphere obviously plays a big role in that, but my Taiwanese friends also say that because their island already has so many ethnic groups, and it has been governed by many different nations, it has a more open society. As far as I can tell, Taiwanese-style “nationalism” is a rare thing.

My Facebook Wall: April 2011

May 5, 2011

3: Congratulations to Indian cricket and Indiana basketball for nervy victories today!
4: It’s Circle of Life-like to have Children’s Day and Tomb Sweeping Day back to back with the added irony that the day for new life is 4/4 though 4 symbolizes death, and the day for honoring departed ancestors is in the midst of spring. (Only Taiwan and Hong Kong put Children’s Day on 4/4. Tomb Sweeping Day is a Chinese holiday, and it’s on the 15th day after the spring equinox, typically 4/5.)
4: I’m looking forward to the day when there are more views for Justin Bieber’s “Baby” than there are people in China.
5: 清明節。 Peace be with those who have left this world or were taken from it.
5: In an excruciating night for Butler, the ball just would not go in – Joe Posnanski
7: Walkin’ home music
9: 我不能過更長的日子,只好更珍惜生活。 I can’t make my days any longer so I’ll just have to live more intensely.
10: How come I can’t even see that something is dirty until I start to clean it?
11: Though I practically wrote a novel about Japan, I’ve said very little about Taiwan. It’s not because I’m bored here; it’s because I’m peaceful. I’ve quite possibly never felt this comfortable with a place before.
12: Isn’t it great when technical support asks you to try out your broken thingamajig one more time for them, and at that moment it magically comes back to life, and all you can do is sheepishly say you’re sorry for bothering them?
14: It’s easier to enjoy life now that I’ve heard this song!
14: 勉強 means “studying” in Japanese and “forcing yourself to do something” in Chinese.
15: WSJ: “According to Internal Revenue Service data, the entire taxable income of everyone earning over $100,000 in 2008 was about $1.582 trillion. Even if all these Americans—most of whom are far from wealthy—were taxed at 100%, it wouldn’t cover Mr. Obama’s deficit for this year.”
16: 多虧我妹妹是編輯之女王,獎學金申請好多了!A big thank-you to my sister (“writing/editing sub-500 word statements is what I do at work all day every day”) for helping me so much with my scholarship application!
18: why is my mood so easily affected by the Yankees daily outcomes? The season is 162 games, and even the best lose 40% of the time. Take it week to week.
19: Resisting all the outside pressure to take matters seriously and mature (at all costs): important life skill #1. Maybe if we don’t get maturer, we won’t get older!
20: I’m out of town until the stone is rolled away on Saturday night.
20: Question of the Day: Does anyone actually button the top button on collared shirts? I’d bet clothing makers could save a few pennies if they purged that perfunctory piece of plastic. Most people button the top here, so I go along with them. One day at school I didn’t, and the kids were like “wow, you have chest hair!”
23: 「妳們為什麼在死人中找活人呢﹖衪不在這裡了,衪已復活了。你們應當記得:衪還在加里肋亞時,怎樣告訴過你們說:人子必須被交付於罪人之手,被釘在十字架上,並在第三日復活。」 Luke 24:5-7
30: If I sleep at 12, I wake up at 6. If I sleep at 10, I wake up at 4. When did I become a farmer?

我狩獵收集者的生活 ~ My Hunter-Gatherer Lifestyle

May 4, 2011










My Hunter-Gatherer Lifestyle
Author: James Smyth
Editor: Zhou Chang-zhen

The last time I took a sick day was ten years ago, but my family was moving to another home that day, so instead of resting I helped my parents. Why am I so healthy? The most important reason is good fortune, obviously, but my lifestyle also plays an important role.

My father’s example has made a big impression on me. My mother says that healthy living has always been important to him, and even as a college student it took some patience to dine with him because his nutritional standards were so high. His favorite kind of meat is fish; every Christmas, we give him a salmon. He adds olive oil to whatever we’re eating. When I talk to him each week, he tells me about his new lifestyle habit. (Last year, it was weightlifting, and this year, it’s breathing exercises.) But seriously, no one believes he’s already 58 years old, and he isn’t a pound overweight, so it’s easy to see his techniques are effective.

The author of Thought and Society advocates exercise and physical labor, and I’m in agreement with him. I believe that our present-day sedentary lifestyles don’t suit human nature. My parents have always encouraged me to exercise daily: I’ve swum and played on sports teams since I was three. In high school, I ran long distance. After running for nine years, my knees started to ache, so I made swimming my primary sport. I’ve been worried about time ever since I started studying at ICLP, so I haven’t made room for swimming, but I stretch and lift weights every day after I wake up, and every other day I ride the dormitory’s exercise bike, run on a free sidewalk, and climb stairwells.

Do you remember the food pyramid? Ever since learning about it, I’ve tried to eat various kinds of food every day. Taiwan Today says the Yamei tribe on Lanyu Island have lived on fish and sweet potatoes for generations. I’d like to try their diet. Because our ancestors had to hunt or gather their food, their diet was small in quantity but abundant in nutrition. We’ve made rich and wheat our staple foods because they’re the easiest to mass-produce, not because they’re the most nutritious. My favorite foods from foreign countries are their healthiest dishes, not their most famous ones, for example Spanish olives, Japanese miso soup and bitter melon, Taiwanese sweet potatoes, sesame, and fruit, and so forth.

Lately I’ve realized that the amount one eats is important, as well. Over the last five years, I’ve lost about 13 kg (29 lb), but I have more energy than before. That’s because I’m listening to my body more. “Listening to my body” means that when I don’t feel hungry anymore, I stop eating. How did I realize this made sense? When I was hiking on Yakushima and Mount Fuji in Japan, eating too much made it harder for me to climb. Because I was exercising at that very moment, I realized that when I was doing homework or the like, I should eat even less. I also realized that eating a little every three hours is more efficient than having three big meals. Should we eat to live or live to eat? I’m not one to restrict fried food, but I do think we should count calories. For example, I think Coca-Cola is a good dessert, but I can’t abide by its status as a substitute for water in America.

Even when I don’t feel well, I don’t take medicine. I heard that viruses can adapt to our drugs, so I don’t want to give them a chance to get stronger; nor do I want to become dependent. I also rarely drink and never smoke; that in itself doesn’t mean I have a healthy lifestyle, but it definitely helps.

My father and I have the same perspective on health, but we also have the same weakness: we don’t sleep enough. In the old days, when it got dark, the temperature dropped, and people didn’t have the energy to do anything else, so they simply went to bed. Today’s society is different; you can work or play 24 hours a day. I don’t like to stop working and go to sleep, myself. But I’m also an early riser; I naturally get up early even on holidays. My teachers and classmates often say I look tired, a clear sign I need to adjust my lifestyle and do my homework a little faster so I can go to bed earlier.

In conclusion, though we don’t need to live in poverty like our ancestors, we should still continue their good habits.