粉筆少女 The infamous Chalk Girl

Friday, 16 June, 2017

This is NOT my documentary but I really enjoyed the newly released Guardian documentary “The Infamous Chalk Girl” by San San F Young (web, @ssfyoung) (Producer, Camera, Director) so I want to share it here. Have a watch!

The Infamous Chalk Girl

P.S. My favourite scene is at the 20:45 mark and I left this comment: “This is a very touching scene to me. Chalk girl was asked what would she draw now?


2017 Princeton Valedictory Address “Our Unsung Heroes” by Ms. Jin Yun Chow

Sunday, 11 June, 2017
Princeton 2017 Valedictorian Ms. Jin Yun Chow

Princeton 2017 Valedictorian Ms. Jin Yun Chow

Before I quote an excerpt and link to the wonderful speech, here is an amazing story of Princeton 2017 Valedictorian Ms. Jin Yun Chow from Hong Kong. [HT Daisann]

In other words: Valedictorian Chow finds connection, purpose in language and life at Princeton

//“One day we were discussing the Old Irish word for mead (a drink made from fermented honey), which is ‘mid,’” she said. A classmate who is Australian and speaks Cantonese pointed out that “mid” was related to the Tocharian word — spoken in very old northwestern China — for honey, “mit.” Chow noted that in Cantonese, which preserves the oldest pronunciations of Chinese, the usual transliteration of the word for honey is “mat.”

“That one word’s journey — from Proto-Indo-European to the geographically distant languages Old Irish and Tocharian and from there into northwestern China and then Cantonese, which is spoken in southeastern China — was just so cool,” Chow said. “It confirmed that there are moments in esoteric academic study that aren’t so ‘ivory-tower-esque.’ If you’re open-minded enough you can make all these connections with everything else in your life experience.”//

Here is a link to the video of Ms. Chow’s 2017 Commencement Valedictorian Speech “Our Unsung Heroes”. And here is a few excerpts from the prepared written text (not quite a transcript).

I would like to start by telling you a story about the most memorable moment I had with one of my own unsung heroes: Margaret Campbell at the Firestone café. A few weeks ago, I was waiting in line for coffee when I saw that she was holding a Kindle ebook. […] [K’s note: I LOVE this story but I don’t want to copy the whole thing here.] I walked away that afternoon with a tingling feeling in my stomach. I marveled at how easy it would have been to have walked away after getting my coffee, not stopping to chat and never learning about her amazing literary endeavors. I wondered how many interesting people I didn’t get to befriend over my four years here because I never gave them a chance to talk and never gave myself the chance to listen. […]

So what I want to say to you today, my friends, is this: slow down. Slow down and take the time to recognize your unsung heroes. […] adulthood will urge us to run faster, climb higher, become more successful; it will entice us to swim upstream through the river that is life itself, and it will tempt us to devote every free minute to advancing ourselves and our ambitions. I challenge us to be the salmon that swims downstream, taking the time to get to know and appreciate the people who surround us as we glide through the water. […]

One of my dearest friends put it best when he said that I am not generous enough with what he calls unscripted time. It is amorphous time that falls outside of the structural rigor of meetings, classes, meals and other obligations; it is unscheduled time that allows for organic, spontaneous and unscripted interactions. This is the time when instances of extraordinary candor crop up naturally, when episodes of exquisite tenderness surface unexpectedly, when heartfelt sincerity slips out spontaneously.


Bob Dylan’s Nobel Lecture (audio)

Monday, 5 June, 2017

Bob Dylan‘s Nobel Lecture (audio from VIMEO) (emphasis added)

//I had a natural feeling for the ancient ballads and country blues, but everything else I had to learn from scratch. I was playing for small crowds, sometimes no more than four or five people in a room or on a street corner. You had to have a wide repertoire, and you had to know what to play and when. Some songs were intimate, some you had to shout to be heard.

By listening to all the early folk artists and singing the songs yourself, you pick up the vernacular. You internalize it. You sing it in the ragtime blues, work songs, Georgia sea shanties, Appalachian ballads and cowboy songs. You hear all the finer points, and you learn the details.//


Was Warren Buffett’s $150,000 1971 beach house (on sale/listed now for $11 million) a good or bad investment for him?

Sunday, 28 May, 2017

For anyone who bought a $150,000 beach house that is on sale for $11 million now could be consider a good investment. (Have a look of this video of the inside of Buffett’s beach house.) But for fame investor Warren Buffett, well, thats different. To Buffett, the same $150,000 in 1971 could become quite a different beast in 2017 over 46 later. In “The Oracle of Omaha is selling. This time it’s real estate” CNBC news reported in March 2017 (emphasis added),

He [Warren Buffett] paid $150,000 for the property back in 1971, which is about $900,000 in today’s dollars.

What you may be surprised to find out is that Buffet, one of the world’s richest people, took out a 30-year mortgage when he bought the 6bedroom, 7 bathroom seaside spot.

 

“When I bought it for $150,000, I borrowed some money from Great Western Savings and Loans. So I probably only had $30,000 of equity in it or something like that – it’s the only mortgage I’ve had for fifty years,” Buffett said.

He added, “I thought I could probably do better with the money than have it be an all equity purchase of the house.”

And indeed he did.

“That $110 or $120 thousand I borrowed, I was buying Berkshire then,” says Buffett.

The businessman says he was constantly buying Berkshire in the early ’70s, when the stock was around $40 a share.

“I might have bought 3,000 shares of Berkshire or something like that from the proceeds of the loan — so that’s [worth] $750 million [today].”

Yes, the 750 million dollars is a mind boggling number as Buffett earned that with the $120,000 he borrowed. In a sense, the $30,000 that he didn’t borrow could have meant $187.5 million if he bought BRK shares instead which is way more than the house list price of $11 million.

At the end of the day, Buffett, his first wife and family plus friends got a lot of enjoyment from the house over the years and that is more than mere “investment” and monetary return.

I remember reading Buffett gifting his three children some BRK shares (not a ton) through grandpa Howard. Warren’s three children could have been “rich” if they had kept onto their shares. BUT that would have been the wrong way to live lives as they have to experience their lives in their own ways instead of holding to “mere money” as none of us can take money away from this earth when we pass on.


Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Speaks at Harvard Law School

Thursday, 25 May, 2017

WaPo, “Sally Yates tells Harvard Law grads why she defied President Trump

Harvard Magazine, “COMMENCEMENT What’s Worth Fighting For: Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Speaks at Harvard Law School

Harvard Gazette, “‘When the law and conscience intersected’ At Law School, Sally Yates explains why she refused to enforce travel ban, even if it cost her job

Sally Yates speaks at Harvard Law School’s 2017 Class Day Ceremony

P.S. The following are some of my favourite moments (with linked time codes) that I want to remember. Thanks Ms. Sally Yates for a great speech and her service to her country!

7:00 “We are all better than our worst moment but sometimes we are not quite as good as we think we are either.”
11:44 “You never know when a situation will present itself when you’re going to have to decide who you are and what you stand for. The defining moments in our lives often don’t come with advanced warning.”
19:04 “The safest course is not always the best course. Be bold.”
21:52 “And it is seems it is the times in my life that I haven’t acted thats when I’ve regretted the most. Being willing to be wrong also requires that you willing to own it. We’re all wrong at times. Its going to happen to all of you as well. And there is nothing worse than the person who never wants his/her fingerprints on anything controversial. And who try to slip out a responsibility when things hit the fan.”
22:43 “Being bold, taking a risk isn’t easy to do. And the instinct for self-preservation may continually draw you to the safe risk-free course. But I urge you to resist that instinct. Not only its a life of hedging your bets, unsatisfying. But it means you are unlikely to make much of a difference. You can either glide across the world or impact it. Its your choice.”

P.P.S. I highly recommend this May 29 New Yorker profile of Ms. Yates.


Enjoy the process of your search – New Quotes I Love

Sunday, 14 May, 2017

I’m adding this to my long list of Quotes I Love,

Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result. Trust your gut. Keep throwing darts at the dartboard. Don’t listen to the critics and you will figure it out.” – Will Ferrell (1967- ) 2017 USC Commencement Speech (with video)

Will Ferrell USC Commencement Speech | USC Commencement 2017

P.S. For the record, Trump gave a commencement speech at Liberty University today. Totally day and night with the comedian giving the much more insightful speech of the day.


Visiting Largest Mosque in Canada

Sunday, 5 February, 2017

In light of the Quebec City tragedy (“Six dead men. Six widows. Seventeen fatherless children. Five people in hospital.“),  I decided to take time to visit the Baitun Nur Mosque (the largest mosque in Canada which happens to be in Calgary) yesterday afternoon to stand shoulder and shoulder with my Muslim brothers and sisters in this sad time.

I ended up getting a personal tour of the mosque by a very nice Mr. Sultan Mahmood (who sits on the executive council of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at). Sultan took time to talk to me even as he had to leave a scheduled meeting early where President of the executive council and other members were meeting with a representative from the Alberta Premier’s Office.

The way I see it, we need no permission from anyone to do the decent thing. And you can do what is within your power (big or small) to try to help and show support. Visiting a local mosque in your area is a good start just to say hi and to tell our fellow Muslim Canadian brothers and sisters that you care and will stand up and speak for them.

Here are some photos (with captions) from yesterday. I asked a question about the carpet markings and Sultan explained that they are designed so that people stand shoulder to shoulder with others. And of course, the direction of the halls of worship are all facing Mecca. A quick research in Wikipedia taught me the word Qibla which is “the direction that should be faced when a Muslim prays during salah prayers. It is fixed as the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca.

Sultan and I agreed that it would be a tragedy if we Canadians did not learn from the painful pages of history of the Internment of Japanese Americans, Chinese head tax. And I will add our shameful history of the Rejection of the Komagata Maru, can still teach us lessons today in the Trump presidency.

P.S. By the way, I saw a Facebook post by Kent Hehr (Calgary MP and Minister of Veterans Affairs) tonight and I left the following comment:

I’m saddened to see the vile and heartless comments left in this post at a time when 6 of our fellow Canadians got murdered, leaving their wives and 17 orphan children behind. Why people feel they can dispose common courtesy when sit behind the keyword?

I had some free time yesterday so I did a quick Google to find the address of the Baitun Nur Mosque, the largest mosque in Canada which happens to be in Calgary. I got a wonderful personal tour of the mosque by a nice gentleman who took time to show me around leaving a meeting he was attending.

Whatever religion you believe in or not, one can choose to be a candle of light to fight the onslaught of darkness from the US and around us in some parts of Canada.

I decided to stand shoulder to shoulder with my Muslim brothers and sisters yesterday by paying a personal visit to the mosque. I need no permission from anyone to do the decent thing. And you can do whatever you can to help and show support too.

For those who don’t know how to behave decently in face of deaths and orphan children, I mourn for the lost of your basic humanity in face of partisan attacks of those you disagree with politically.


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