Stay Home and Save the World

New York Hospitals need help. If you, or a cousin of a friend of a friend, have medical supplies (1 bottle of hand sanitizer, 2 sets of PPEs, 3 ventilators, etc) you wish to give to NY, please visit:

Please support our front line workers, which include but not limited to: Hospital personnel, grocery workers, and police. Only when they are healthy can we stay healthy.


Side note (1): Friends don’t let friends fall victim to COVID-19 fraud. Please report the following activities to the authorities:

  1. Individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online and engaging in other forms of fraud.
  2. Phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  3. Malicious websites and apps that appear to share virus-related information to gain and lock access to your devices until payment is received.
  4. Seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations.
  5. Selling medical supplies and devices, designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) as scarce, for excess of prevailing market price.


Side note (2): Some acts of covidiots may now be a crime that can be charged with act of terrorism. Like a Missouri man who licked items in Walmart to protest the virus. Or a New Jersey man who intentionally coughed at a Wegmans employee and told her he had coronavirus. Or a South Carolina man who forged a doctor’s note claiming he was tested positive for coronavirus which resulted in his workplace shutting down for 5 days to disinfect the entire building. Or, a Pennsylvania woman who purposely coughed on food in a small grocery store and claimed she had coronavirus.



As the maps demonstrate, it’s not that there are less cases in mid-west, it’s that there are less people to be infected. The reverse is true. There are more cases in NY because there are more people to be infected.

If you want to go out and have face-to-face interaction with another human being, that’s perfectly fine. Just remember to keep a social distance of at least 6 feet between you and the other person. We can hear each other just fine, 6 feet away.

My Vietnam Vacation

This is not a political site but I have to say this after coming back from my Vietnam trip: Donald Trump’s shamefully slow response to COVID-19 has killed American lives, tanked American economy, and destroyed American way of life. To Trump supporters and believers, thanks for halving my retirement and travel funds. I hope you are patting yourselves on the shoulders all the way to hell.

Trump is at fault to causing the 8,000+ new cases in US. If he had handled COVID-19 like Vietnam did since February 1, none of those people would’ve contracted the virus. Even now (March 19), he and CDC are continuing to put obstacles to prevent Americans from getting tested. First you need to be symptomatic, then you need to get doctor’s permission, then you need to make an appointment, then the clinics run out of test kits and tell you to come back later, then when you finally get tested after all the hoops you have to jump through you have to wait another 48 hours for the result. So you don’t know if you are a mildly symptomatic carrier walking around infecting people, or you are a gastroenteritis sufferer and don’t need to self-quarantine. Trump and his people are making Americans more anxious and scared than they already are. Perhaps, the recent uptick in gun purchase is a sign that Americans are preparing for the apocalypse.

Moving along. My decision NOT to cancel my long planned Vietnam vacation with mom is the best decision I have made in a long while. With the current COVID-19 outbreak raging across the globe, who knows when will be the next time I can travel without fear of sudden flight and hotel cancellations and attraction sites closures. This article is about what’s like to travel in a country where they take COVID-19 seriously by responding rapidly and aggressively to prevent community spread of the virus. In every public place in Vietnam I saw a variation of prevention message below. I felt so safe traveling in Vietnam, physically and mentally, knowing their government is doing everything they could to protect our health.

I honestly think a picture is worth a thousand words.

Continue reading

Chinese Lesson 3: Family

It’s that time of the year when we celebrate the holidays with our close and distant relatives around the dinner table. Yay! (Or, nay?) You look well, Uncle Tom. Hello there, Aunt Mary. What’s happening, Cousin Adam? I miss you, Grandma Jane. But how exactly are they related to us? The way we address them in Chinese will tell you exactly how.

Let’s start with something simple.

媽媽/妈妈 (māma) = Mom
爸爸 (bàba) = Dad

哥哥 (gēge) = Elder brother
嫂嫂 (sǎosao) = Sister-in-law, wife of elder brother

弟弟 (dìdi) = Younger brother
弟妹 (dìmèi) = Sister-in-law, wife of younger brother

姊姊/姐姐 (jiějie)= Elder sister
姊夫/姐夫 (jiěfū) = Brother-in-law, husband of elder sister

妹妹 (mèimei) = Younger sister
妹夫 (mèifū) = Brother-in-law, husband of younger sister

Now we move on to the extended family. These may differ depending on the part of the country the speaker is from and the dialect used. This article is based on Taiwan area, Mandarin dialect.

On your father’s side:
爺爺/爷爷 (yéye) = Paternal grandpa
奶奶 (nǎinai) = Paternal grandma

伯伯 (bóbo) = Uncle, father’s elder brother
伯母(bómǔ)= Aunt, wife of elder uncle

叔叔 (shúshu) = Uncle, father’s younger brother
嬸嬸/婶婶 (shěnshen) = Aunt, wife of younger uncle

姑媽/姑妈 (gūmā) = Aunt, father’s elder sister
姑姑 (gūgu) = Aunt, father’s younger sister
姑丈 (gūzhàng) = Uncle, husband of paternal aunt

On your mother’s side:
外公 (wàigōng) = Maternal grandpa
外婆 (wàipó) = Maternal grandma

舅舅 (jiùjiu) = Uncle, mother’s elder or younger brother
舅媽/舅妈 (jiùmā) = Aunt, wife of maternal uncle

姨媽/姨妈 (yímā) = Aunt, mother’s elder sister
阿姨 (āyí) = Aunt, mother’s younger sister
姨丈 (yízhàng) = Uncle, husband of maternal aunt

That pretty much covers most of the family elders. Next, we move on to the first cousins.

堂哥 (tánggē) = Cousin, son of your paternal uncle, older than you
堂嫂 (tángsǎo) = Wife of your older cousin
堂弟 (tángdì) = Cousin, son of your paternal uncle, younger than you
堂姊 (tángjiě) = Cousin, daughter of your paternal uncle, older than you
堂妹 (tángmèi) = Cousin, daughter of your paternal uncle, younger than you
* The spouses of your cousins, born of your paternal uncle, are addressed the same way as spouses of your siblings, with prefix “táng”.

表哥 (biǎogē) = Cousin, son of your paternal aunt and maternal aunt/uncle, older than you
表嫂 (biǎosǎo) = Wife of your older cousin
表弟 (biǎodì) = Male cousin, younger than you
表姊 (biǎojiě) = Female cousin, older than you
表妹 (biǎomèi) = Female cousin, younger than you
* The spouses of your cousins, born of your paternal aunt and maternal aunt/uncle, are addressed the same way as spouses of your siblings, with prefix “biǎo”.

And then we have the kids.

兒子/儿子 (érzi) = Son
媳婦/媳妇 (xífù) = Daughter-in-law

女兒/女儿 (nǚ’ér) = Daughter
女婿 (nǚxù) = Son-in-law

姪子/侄子 (zhízi) = Nephew, brother’s son
姪女/侄女 (zhínǚ) = Niece, brother’s daughter

外甥 (wàishēng) = Nephew, sister’s son
外甥女 (wàishēngnǚ) = Niece, sister’s daughter

So the next time you watch a Chinese drama and someone says, “zhixifu, can you pass me the soy sauce?” you know exactly how they are related to each other. (Answer: Wife of my brother’s son, can you pass me the soy sauce?)


Quiz 1: How is 堂弟妹 (tángdìmèi) related to you?


If you wish to know what Taiwanese propose to use for same-sex in-laws, check out the spreadsheet below. Continue reading

Chinese Lesson 2: Name

名字 (míng zì) when translated into English means name, as in a person’s name. What I didn’t know for the longest time is that ming and zi represented two distinct concepts in the ancient time. And 号 (hào) didn’t just mean “also known as.” As a Chinese period drama viewer, I took it for granted that the main characters had a million different names. It’s only after I read the commentaries for The Untamed that I finally understood the unstated significance of the names the characters used for each other (ie. Lan Wangji used “Wei Ying” while everybody else used “Wei Wuxian.” It’s his subtle way of suggesting he wanted to be more than WWX’s friend. *wink *wink)

(名 ming) – Birth name. The name your parents gave you when you turned 3 months old. As your elder family member, I would be calling you by this name because that’s how we roll.

(字 zi) – Courtesy name. The name you were given when you reached adulthood. Not everyone had zi. To have one meant either you went to school or you were from a well to-do family. As your cousin/ friend/ colleague/ subordinate, I would be addressing you by this name to show my respect.

(号/號 hao) – Pseudonym or title. The name you were given when you turned famous. As your junior or a person of a younger generation, I would be referring to you by this name to reflect my admiration of your great accomplishments.

Drama: The Untamed (陈情令)

Birth name (名): Wei Ying (魏婴)
Courtesy name (字): Wuxian (无羡)
Title (号): Yiling Laozu (夷陵老祖)
lit. Yiling Patriarch
Also known as: Ah Xian (阿羡), Xianxian (羡羡), Ah Ying (阿婴)
Drama: The Untamed (陈情令)

Birth name (名): Lan Zhan (蓝湛)
Courtesy name (字): Wangji (忘机)
Title (号): Hanguang-Jun (含光君)
lit. Light-bearing Lord
Also known as: Second Master Lan (蓝二公子)
Drama: The Untamed (陈情令)

Birth name (名): Jiang Cheng (江澄)
Courtesy name (字): Wanyin (晚吟)
Title (号): Sandu Shengshou (三毒圣手)
lit. Three Poisons
Also known as: Ah Cheng (阿澄), Clan leader Jiang (江宗主)
Drama: The Longest Day in Chang’an (长安十二时辰)

Birth name (名): Li Bi (李必)
Courtesy name (字): Changyuan (长源)
Title (号): None
Also known as: Xiao Li Bi (小李必)

Side topic: I don’t have a nickname or an abbreviation of my formal name, but I do have a baby name that only my family use. Kinda similar to Ah Ying or Xiao Li Bi. I get super weirded out if my friends try to use it and I will immediately shut them down for calling me that. But that’s beside the point. What I want to talk about is how “Ah”, “Xiao”, “Lao” make a quick and easy nickname to help promote immediate familiarity between two semi-strangers.

Say, you are Zhao Yunlan (赵云澜) from Guardian. There are at least 27 ways I can call you. But as your colleague, I would likely call you Lao Zhao (老赵) if I think you are older than me but not too old to be my drinking buddy. Conversely, I would call you Xiao Zhao (小赵) if you are my junior. I could also call you Ah Yun (阿云) or Ah Lan (阿澜) to denote more familiarity or closer friendship. I would avoid using repeated sounds, such as Yunyun (云云) or Lanlan (澜澜), or even worse, Xiao Yunyun (小云云) or Xiao Lanlan (小澜澜), unless you are a child under age 10 or we plan to hook up tonight. But if I have to choose, I would call you Lan’er (澜儿) because I want to baby you.

Chinese Lesson 1: Supernatural creatures

妖魔鬼怪 (yāo mó guǐ guài) when translated into English roughly means monsters, demons, and ghosts. The translation is a gross generalization of creatures in Chinese supernatural stories. I feel they deserve a better description. If only we can drop the inaccurate translation and just stick with hanzi pinyin when we do subtitles, maybe more people would finally appreciate the differences between them.

“妖者非人之活物所化;魔者生人所化;鬼者死者所化;怪者非人之死物所化” ~ 魔道祖師
(“Yao are transformed from non-human living beings. Mo are from living human beings. Gui are from dead human beings. Guai are from non-human, non-living objects.” ~ Chinese novel Mo Dao Zu Shi)

(妖 yao) – Monsters, fairies, and shapeshifters. Yao are not demons, but they are often referred to as fox demon, spider demon, tree demon etc… I guess we haven’t found a more suitable noun to describe non-human living creatures that behave like humans but are neither good nor evil. They may or may not take on human form. Yao are the backbone of Chinese supernatural stories. We can’t live without them.

Basically, all the nonhuman characters (wesen) in Grimm are Yao.

The most famous Yao of all time is Madame White Snake. There are hundreds if not thousands of works referencing her throughout the centuries. The oldest piece I have read was dated back in the 1600s.

There are as many types of Yao as there are living creatures on earth.

(魔 mo) – Demons. Here comes the difference between Chinese vs western interpretation.

In other countries, demon = devil = Satan = fallen angel. In Good Omens, Crawely represents the demon.

Mo means differently in Chinese. People are referred to as Mo when they are overtaken by their obsessions and they can no longer control their actions. In dictionary form: A person who holds extreme or fanatical views, especially one who resorts to or advocates extreme action. In The Legends , Li Chenlan and Jiang Wu represent the Mo.

(鬼 gui) – Ghost. No ambiguity here. Dead people become ghosts.

(怪 guai) – Monsters. They are inanimate objects that have developed consciousness. They may or may not take on human form.

Japan’s chōchin-obake and kasa-obake are the very definition of Guai.

The Monster book in Harry Potter can be considered as a Guai, too.

After all that explanation, we are ruined by Chinese compound words.
魔鬼 (Mo Gui) – People/monsters that are pure evil.
妖魔 (Yao Mo) – Crazy, demented people/monsters.
鬼怪 (Gui Guai) – Scary monsters that cause goosebumps.
妖怪 (Yao Guai) – Strange, grotesque people/monsters.
妖精 (Yao Jing) – Seductive people/fairies.

My, How You’ve Grown!

I’ve been watching some old dramas and got unexpectedly warm and fuzzy inside when I recognized a few familiar faces among them. And I went, “Oh~~ They were so adorably cute!” I’m talking about the child actors. Some have grown up to take on leading roles, such as Wu Lei in Tomb of the Sea. Others are still playing younger versions of main characters. My moment of nostalgia inspired me to write about six young actors who made a strong impression on me in one drama or another, and I hope to see more of them in the future.

I’ll start the list with Bian Cheng, who I currently use as my profile pic. He completely won me over with his portrayal of teenage Luo Chi in Faithful to Buddha, Faithful to You. The farewell scene between Luo Chi and Ai Qing tugged my heartstrings to no end. I was choking with tears when he asked Ai Qing if he could go and find her in China. There was so much emotions contained in that small, hopeful question. And at a tender age of 12, he was able to to bring out all the layers with those soulful eyes of his.

Bian Cheng

Bian Cheng Name: Bian Cheng (边程)
DOB: August 6, 2004
Where have I seen you: Eagles and Youngsters; Faithful to Buddha, Faithful to You; Love O2O; Beauties in the Closet; Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace; Never Gone

Continue reading

Song, you are the drama

May all the drama soundtracks in 2019 be as memorable and fitting as these are.

Xiang Long – Yi Sheng Zai Jian (A lifetime of goodbye) by Xu Fei.

Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace – Mei Xiang Ru Gu (The fragrance of plum is same as old) by Mao Buyi and Zhou Shen

Ashes to Love – Bu Ran (Unsullied) by Mao Buyi

Eternal Love – Liang Liang (Chilly) by Zhang Bichen and Aska Yang

Continue reading