23 July 2010

Sinister expression on Ronne's face

There must have been something wrong with the camera, or probably with the light, room temperature, relative humidity, air pressure, et cetera, et cetera. How could my son, who is four and a half months old, look into the lens with such a sinister expression on his face.

Compared with the one below, this is definitely wicked!

I was told by relatives and friends with children that babies may show their first hints of smile, as a reaction to another person rather than reflex from gas, as early as five weeks, but it becomes more regular by twelve weeks. By six months, most babies would smile at people they know best.

I wonder when a baby starts giving a grudging expression to show disapproval or reluctance, out of will rather than physical needs such as hunger or discomfort.

17 July 2010

'Nobel Laureate only' parking space

This is not news, but is new to me.

The sign seems to have been there since late 2007, shortly before I was hired as an adjunct assistant professor at National Taiwan University. However, I only came to know this yesterday through a non-NTU student who is in the course I am running for the summer college.

As there is only one among the academic staff at National Taiwan University, Prof Yuan Tseh Lee, who has ever won a Nobel Prize, this location is absolutely reserved for Professor Lee.

Such a reserved parking space once aroused criticism. Some considered it a waste of space because Prof Lee (a part-time distinguished research chair rather than a full-time fellow) only came to the campus occasionally and there were more who badly needed it.

Well, I don't think it is something entirely nonsensical as there is a similar policy at UC Berkely. Nevertheless, I suppose the parking authority there is obviously much less verbose than that at NTU.

(image from National Public Radio News)

11 July 2010

Chanting a Tibetan blessing at a wedding

I was invited to chant a Tibetan blessing yesterday at the wedding of Wawa, the former assistant at the Graduate Institute of Musicology, NTU whom I have known at least since 2002 I guess. I was assigned a special task at the wedding—chanting a Tibetan blessing for the couple during their procession into the banquet hall.

I believe there are tonnes of musical pieces to which a bride and her bridegroom may walk down the isle, such as a pop like Elvis Presley's 'I Can't Help Falling in Love' or a serious classic like Marc-Antoine Charpentier's 'Prélude du Te Deum' or a liché like Richard Wagner's 'Wedding March'. However, Wawa and her husband requested a Tibetan blessing chanted in the Gyuto-monk-style overtone singing.

I had no idea if the bride's and groom's families and the guests were shocked when the couple walked into the wedding banquet to this unconventional 'song'.

The blessing I 'sang' was actually composed by two parts, the former the Padmasambhava mantra and the latter a prayer Tibetan people would recite at the New Year's Eve. I put the two together to wish the guests good health and peace of mind and the newlyweds prosperity and fullness.

For those who would like to know how the blessing sounds, listen to it.

I would be more than happy to do something similar for whoever needs this as long as the guests are not against it.