The year of the Yao

I rented and watched The Year of The Yao from Netflix recently. It was a documentary of Yao Ming’s rookie season. We all enjoyed it.

I have great admiration for Yao Ming. When he came to the NBA, he was just 22 years old, with language, cultural, and social barriers to overcome, not to mention the pressure of NBA life, the media, and great expectations of a lot of people from China. Yet he seemed to take everything in stride, and handled all of those with grace, humility, and a great sense of humor. I was very excited to see him coming to the US and play for the NBA. And, frankly, as a fellow Chinese, I am very proud of him.

Most of the details, games, and background information are not new to me anymore, since I followed reports of Yao Ming pretty closely during his rookie year. However, I think it is going to be a great movie for people who generally do not follow the NBA, or people who are interested in this interesting cultural exchange between US and China. Strangely, one thing that still surprised me was how tall he is. The footage of him at a Bestbuy store and the airport really struck that point home.

Someday I’d like to see one of Yao’s games live. My son is a big Yao Ming fan now and would like to get his signature. I planned to go see the game between Houston and Chicago in January, but Yao was injured and did not play, so we didn’t go.

Yao, by the way, is his surname / family name. Ming is given name. It means brightness in Chinese. I wrote some explanation on Chinese names here.













但不少时候我也觉得虽然她的出发点是好的,但她的结论下得太早、太快,有以偏概全、格式化、笼统化的嫌疑。举例来说, 她的关于瑞士人的有计划及刻板的描写,关于瑞士幼儿园的描写,都是单维及单向性的。还有更多的例子,这里不好一一列举,因为书已经还掉了。





Wawa Yaya is great

I talked about Muzzy Chinese program in this post. It’s a great program. We loved it.

Another children’s Chinese language material I recommend is a game series called Wawa Yaya. These games are very interactive. All characters speak great Mandarin Chinese and they talk a lot, which is good if you want your kids to learn Chinese. The game, music, and interactive activity help to get your little ones engaged. It is also educational in that each game focuses on one particular area, such as painting, music, reading, math, etc..

Another good thing is that the graphics are done using DirectX, which is part of Windows. So no installation is required on the computer. Pop in the CD and it will start playing.

If neither of the parents knows Mandarin Chinese, then it may be somewhat difficult in the beginning. But overall, it is not difficult to figure out how it works. Plus, the game interface is pretty consistent, so once you know how to get around in one game, it is not difficult to play others.

English books I’ve read recently

Since I listed some of the Chinese books I read in this post, I made a list of some English books I’ve read in the last 3 years or so for completeness. The books are not listed in any specific order. I highly recommend most of them.

I am currently reading a Chinese book, 我的父亲邓小平,(My Father Deng Xiaoping), written by Deng’s daughter. I usually alternate English and Chinese books for reading.

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Great book. Highly recommended. Funny I can relate to Frank McCourt’s Irish experience, growing up a country boy in rural China.

Soul Mountain by Gao XingJian
Great book. Great, great translation by Marbel Lee. It helps if you know some of China’s recent history.

One Man’s Bible by Gao XingJian
See comment above.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Great book and very entertaining. A great blend of culture, religion, history, and geography.

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
See comment above

Mapping Human History: Discovering the Past Through Our Genes by Steve Olson
Excellent book, highly recommended for people who are interested in understanding more of our common ancestry.

Waiting by Ha Jin
Excellent, excellent book. Ha Jin writes individual’s longing, helplessness, kindness, cruelty with beautiful and compact language. I am deeply impressed by his mastery of the English language.

The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman
Good book. It helped me to contemplate and organize a lot of thoughts I already have on the subject of globalization. I don’t necessarily agree with all his conclusions, especially his discussions on the Middle East and the Muslim world. Nonetheless, the author provides good background and interesting anecdotal evidence to put globalization in perspective. I wish he did more research on China, though.

Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
A classic. Pete Jackson did a great job adapting the trilogy to the big screen.

Getting Things Done by David Allen
A great book full of practical tips on how to prioritize, manage your time, and enhance productivity. I followed the principles for a while but kind of fell off the wagon, so to speak. I’ve got to re implement most of the ideas again.

Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
Interesting book. One takeaway is to remember many so-called experts are biased when giving you advice, especially when the expert’s own interest is at stake. Think your real estate agent and financial adviser.

The Importance of Living by Lin YuTang
A best seller in the late 1930s, this book is a classic. I haven’t finish it yet, but so far I love it a lot. I will borrow it from the library again and read it in its entirety soon. Lin YuTang is a true great author that bridges East and West, and I think he deserves more credit than what he gets. Frank McCourt also talked about his reading of Lin YuTang’s work in Limerick, Ireland.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
I brought this book to Sweden in summer, but didn’t finish it. I read probably 2 chapters and loved it. I will read it in its entirety soon. The novel was made to a movie of the same title. I remember seeing it a few years ago and loved it.