21 March 2013

A couplet for Edwin's new studio

So many people believe that regular exercise is an important part of a balanced stress management programme and are willing to pay high membership prices to join gyms, health clubs or yoga classes in hopes that nervous tension arising from the fast pace of life in the industrial and metropolitan environments could be antidoted by shaking their bodies in a well organised fashion.

I totally agree with it.  I ran three miles both in the morning and in the late afternoon everyday when I was under extreme pressure during the final days of thesis writing in Scotland.  However, I opt for Chinese calligraphy.

Chinese calligraphy requires deliberate mental design and concentration on guiding the soft writing brush.  Both strength and agility are essential for fine artwork.  Therefore, I believe composing couplets and practising writing Chinese characters is a good way to extricate me from academic abyss.

Apart from writing new year couplets at , I compose couplets and write them with a Chinese writing brush for friends on various occasions, such as weddings, birthdays, graduations and etc.

Edwin, a director, producer and historian, has recently started his own studio, light-heartedly named 'Golden Haze Arts and Culture Heath Center', in Taipei.  To celebrate the formal establishment of this 'Health Center', I produce this, roughly translated as

With sining voices and dancing images a rainbow appears (歌聲舞影虹彩現);
In souther sphere and northern horizon hundreds of flowers bloom (天南地北百花開).

The couplet also comes with a banner:  What an immense cinematic world! (銀海無涯).

I wish him all the best and look forward to producing more interesting audio-visual, theatrical or whatever works with him in the near future.

06 March 2013

Ronne's third birthday

(Three-year-old Ronne making birthday wishes)

Yesterday was my son Ronne's third birthday.  Time flies; he is three now.

Thanks to the development of digital cameras and other mobile devices with the function of shooting photos or videos, we can now catch important moments of our life nimbly with confidence.  Therefore, look at these three photos taken respectively on Ronne's last three birthdays and see how Ronne has grown over the last three years.

(Two-year old Ronne clapping hands and singing the birthday song with grandparents and mum)

(One-year-old Ronne patrolling to safeguard his birthday cake)

Thanks to the invention of weblogs and social networking websites, many people can now express their views and distribute multimedia works in the cyber world across temporal and spatial boundaries.  I have been sharing with my readers sounds of the gramophone records for quite some time, as well as photos of my son.  Although, Principal Wei's Weblog stopped for several months in 2012, it resumed on the New Year's Day in 2013.

As the first entry I created this year is a photo of me and my son, I am now fully assured that when you have a baby and happen to have a digital camera, the number of the photos you would take for your child within a month will probably far exceed that of the images you have captured for yourself in the first half of your life.  Moreover, if you happen to maintain a blog, it will become an online album for the photos you would take for your child.

27 February 2013

Making my outdated laptop up to date

Last night, I spent some time upgrading my old PowerBook G4 to a laptop with wireless capability.

PowerBook G4 is my first-ever laptop. It had served me since summer 2002 when I moved to Scotland for doctoral study, and was forced to retire due to an accident in summer 2007. I had some champagne to celebrate my graduation and wedding, and so did the laptop.

Much to my amazement, the champagne-poured PowerBook G4 became alive and kicking after a couple of weeks, but it was still superseded by MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo, my second laptop, purchased after the accident. PowerBook G4 was stored in a bookshelf and has remained there ever since.

Now even though I have MacBook Pro Core i7, the third laptop in my life, I still miss the old good times with PowerBook G4. It helped me finish my doctoral thesis; it helped me complete so many commissioned musical works (and make extra money); it helped me connect to my beloved and family when I was in Scotland.

PowerBook G4 is definitely well past its sell-by date, but it still works. Therefore, I decided to fetch a wireless card to make this outdated machine up to date–being able to communicate wirelessly.

I found a second-hand Apple AirPort Card on eBay for USD 18.92 (including postage) and a set of hexalobular socket screwdriver (also known as Torx or star screwdriver) for TWD 145 (roughly USD 5.00) at a hardware shop near my home. Didn't cost much, did it?

It took me only 5 minutes to remove the back cover, instal the wireless card and restore the back. However, it took more two hours to download all sorts of software update files and update the operating system, Java and so on.

Won't blame it, as along as it keeps being in good working order and brining back old good memories.

23 February 2013

Hand snake lantern

(Ronne and the stretching and curling snake)

The Lantern Festival, the 15th of the first lunar month, falls on Sunday, the 24th of February this year. Just like last year, we received a DIY set–a hand lantern in the shape of a snake, this year's Chinese zodiac animal.

It took use more time than it did last year to assemble the cardboard lantern, because, as you can see in the photos, the snake's body is composed six movable segments, which require more delicate efforts to fit together.

Ronne is going to celebrate the third Lantern Festival in his life with another hand lantern. What a clever design: it can be held in two different fashions, stretching or curling.

Officially named Haha (哈哈), this colourful, shiny snake is painted from its head to tail with 14 graphic decorations inspired by the traditional patterns or symbols from the 14 respective indigenous peoples in Taiwan.

As opposed to its negative impression among the Han Chinese, the snake is believed to be the guardian or embodiment of ancestral power in some indigenous cultures in Taiwan. A hand snake lantern with indigenous tones and colours is obviously designed to bring more positive energy and blessings to all the people in Taiwan.

The lantern festival is traditionally the last day of the Chinese New Year and all lunar new year celebrations conclude on this day. The spring semester 2013 has already begun last Monday in theory; it will surely start next Monday in practice, seriously.

09 February 2013

New year couplet for the year of the Snake

Although sometimes regarded as an eccentric by my relatives, sometimes I am old-fashioned. For example, I insist on writing my own new year couplet (春聯 chunlian) with a Chinese brush every year, rather than buying a commercially mass-printed one.

Again I compose another pair of lines, which have something to do with music and the academia, for the year of the Snake, roughly translated as

Studying extensively poetry and literature, I dream of prosperity in the ancient capital (遍覽詩書夢華錄);
Knowing broadly tuning and musicking, I listen to sounds of this secular world (博通律呂觀世音).

The couplet also comes with a banner: Scholars and laymen be greeted in spring (雅俗同迎春).

I'm not sure, but my wife Fanne comments that I am improving and the handwriting is better than last year.  Better or worse, it's the tradition of the Chens and will be carried on by my son.

08 February 2013

Third laptop arrived

(Three generations of my laptop, from left: PowerBook G4, 2002/ MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo, 2007/ MacBook Pro Core i7, 2013)

I've just received my new toy, an Apple laptop. I bought my first Apple laptop in summer 2002 when I moved to Scotland for my doctoral study. Five years later, I acquired the second one in summer 2007 after my wife and I had some champagne to celebrate my graduation and shared this with the first one. More than five years later, I picked up the third one in early spring 2013 when I felt that I wanted a third one.

(The external package is always elegant! )

Rather than visiting a physical Apple shop, I called 0800 to place an order and customised my MacBook Pro by replacing the standard 750GB SATA hard drive with the 256GB solid state drive and upgrade the standard widescreen display to the hi-resolution one.

I didn't opt for the latest model with a Retina display. Although it's thinner and lighter, it comes without a built-in DVD drive and has no audio line-in port. I can't be bothered to use an external DVD drive and a USB audio interface.

It took me really much time to instal a range of applications and to adjust everything to what I have been used to. I actually would like to use the old OS X 10.4; however, this model has been built with the latest OS X 10.8 and can't be downgraded. Anyway, I'm still exploring this new laptop and hoping to discover more interesting functions.

01 February 2013

Fetching a snake money box for the year of the snake

(Six money boxes released by a department store in Taiwan since 2008, from left: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon and Snake)

Once you start to collect some things, especially those which can make up certain group, you have to be prepared to feel all the time an overwhelming obsessive desire to possess a complete series, to become irredeemable.

Just as how I maintain the ritual of counting down to New Year at the same spot and then taking a photo thereafter since the year end 2006, I have been chasing after the money box in the shape of a specific Chinese zodiac animal for the year of that animal since 2008.

Shin Kong Mituskoshi, the biggest department store chain in Taiwan, began to issue ceramic saving banks in shapes of twelve Chinese zodiac animals in 2008. Twelve different ones will come in the twelve ensuing years. It can only be redeemed for or bought when a customer spends more than certain amount of money, not to be purchased straightaway.

This morning, I have just fetched the sixth–the snake. It takes six more years to complete a series of the twelve animals. I am so determined to collect a whole series and will visit this department store every year as long as I still reside on earth.

12 January 2013

Finally, we moved to the era of stereo

(A SONY CD radio cassette recorder in front of an HMV gramophone)

The very first piece of audio equipment we have bought since we moved to the condo we currently live in October 2009 is a SONY Bravia TV. Apart from this and the DVD drive in my laptop, there wasn't any other sound-producing apparatus in our home until September 2010 when I bought an HMV 101, a vintage portable hand-cranked gramophone. The third piece is another spring-wound device, an HMV 103 I bought in November 2010.

I suppose that music professors always have great, if not high-end, stereo or audio-visual systems. Nevertheless, I don't, probably because I'm just an adjunct one. I always tell my son that he who intends to listen to music, except watching TV or using a computer, must wind up the spring so that a sound retrieval system can work. No pains, no gains; no labour, no music.

However, my words are no longer justifiable, as my wife bought a Sony CFDS05 CD Radio Cassette Recorder Boombox. We're now in the era of electric powered players.

The boombox was inaugurated by having the honour of playing my favourite album El Agua de la Alhambra, the music delivered in the so-called LDR suite where my son was born. We have now an alternative, in addition to the gramophones, to play some music at home.

03 January 2013

R.I.P. Patti Page

(Image quoted from Associate Press)

Patti Page, one of the best-known pop artists in the 1950s, died on the New Year's day at the age of 85. She was one of the very few non-rock-oriented pop singers who could continue releasing great hits and maintain a successful career well into the mid 1960s after rock came to the fore in the recording industry in the mid 1950s.

I came to know Patti Page through Yao Lee (姚莉), the singer who in 1941 made the first recording of 'Rose, Rose, I Love You' (玫瑰玫瑰我愛你), the original Mandarin version of Frankie Laine's 1951 hit of the same title.

Being a fan of Patti Page, Yao Lee covered several Page's works such as 'Tennessee Waltz' (愛似浮雲), 'Changing Partners' (舞伴淚影), 'You Belong To Me' (鳳仙花開) and 'I Went To Your Wedding'. It is through these Mandarin songs that I learnt who Patti Page is and by these that I was led to the Page's English versions.

Thank you Miss Patti Page for bringing us so many unforgettable tunes with your gossamer-gentle voice. May you rest in peace.

01 January 2013

New Year's Day before the New Year's Day of the Year of the Snake

(Click to enlarge and see how I have changed over the past few years, from 1st January 2007 to 2013)

The Chinese New Year of the Snake falls on the 10th of February in 2013.  Before welcoming the Snake, I just feel obliged again to usher in the Gregorian New Year with other revellers on streets.

For the seventh time in a row since the year end 2006, I went to the Taipei 101 fireworks show again last night, with my wife and my 2-year-old son, who is going to be 3 in March 2013.  I insist on maintaining the ritual of counting down to New Year at the same spot and then taking a photo thereafter.

It probably has something to do with obsession, just as what I explained in another entry posted several years ago on this weblog: a mental disorder characterised by a general psychological inflexibility, a chronic preoccupation with rules, procedures, perfectionism and excessive orderliness.

Although the growth of new social networking websites probably may have made this weblog somewhat redundant, and I have not posted anything here for the past seven months due to the heavy academic workload, I will keep being obsessed about taking the New Year photo and announcing it here.