Day 128 - Buffalo and Lions

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016
Smog Level: 3/3 Mountain

I found out that one of my CoTeachers is only a year younger than me because of our zodiac signs. I am the Dragon, and she is the snake. From this, she figured out the difference. It seems like most Chinese people know the order of the zodiac and what years are associated. This means that they can make reasonable guesses at your age if they know your sign. Crazy.

Picking Your Nose and Friends

While at the reading table, the kids are getting more familiar with me, and will try to get physically closer to me, and leaning on me or feeling my arm hair in amazement. Today I had to say: "don't pick your nose, especially while leaning on me.” The kid was full-on leaning on me with his elbow and knuckle-deep in his face cave on the same hand. I think this was the same kid who tried to wipe it on me some weeks ago.


I have been drilling the kid's knowledge of months these past couple weeks because they don’t know them - and it makes perfect sense. I remember having a hard time with the names of the months as a kid, and I still don’t know how many days each one has. Calendars were invented for a reason. But the kids have an even better excuse: in Chinese, the months are just numbered. February is just “2 month” and June is just “6 month.” Same for weekdays: monday is “week 1” and wednesday is “week 3,” with Sunday being the only day that breaks the trend, being “week sun.” I guess we have that in common, strangely.

Creative Liberties

I rerouted today's spelling story (what we use to teach spelling words) about Lincoln to one about a guy drawing bad pictures and thinking they're great. "Tom is slow in the head" was it's final sentence. The only person who seems to notice or care was Aurora, whose face was priceless whenever I deviated from the book.


During lunch we talk about addiction, pot, and magic mushrooms - again. I try to explain the difference between addiction and habits. I think saying pot is “non habit forming” is misleading. It’s not chemically addictive, but it’s certainly habit forming. Anything can be habit forming! If you get high every time you get home from work, then you will build the habit that will make you want to do that. 

I explain that the inherent risk for other drugs, such as cocaine, might be addiction, wasting health, expense, and potentially overdose/death. With pot, it’s a long cost. It’s not the short term expense or risk of addiction or overdose - it’s the lack of motivation and being willing to accept a mediocre life where not doing anything is OK. It’s an escape that builds upon itself and will possibly lead to an unfulfilled life. Bearing this in mind and keeping it in check, it’s far less harmful than alcohol.

Already one star down
In exchange for this drug information, they teach me the words “poor” (qióng [chee-ohng] and cheap (kōu [koh]), allowing me to ask them “Are you cheap or just poor?” I’m so kind.

Those Damn Kids

On my way off campus, children run by, laughing and playing, chasing each other. Children are always running around, laughing, on campus. It just reinforces my idea that kids are basically in this dream-like, kind-of-drunk state most of the time. Super formative; hardly remembered.

After work, I’m supposed to have a worker come and fix some things in our bathroom, again. He says 3, so I set my alarm to nap for 2:40. He shows up at 2:20, and promptly leaves. Reschedules for 5. At 5:30, he pushes back to 7.


I walk to Maan coffee because I really want to sit in a cafe during today’s downpour, writing and drinking coffee. It’s the writers romantic ideal, though some might prefer a stiffer drink. It’s one of my favorite scenes.

Just a Pig getting Groceries

The audiobook I’ve moved onto now is “The Etymologicon” which talks about the origins of English words. Great book so far, very interesting, and sometimes confusing. You’d never guess where some words come from. Example: Hills used to be called “downs” and to fall off a hill, they’d say you “fell off down” but then they got lazy, dropped the ‘off’ and just said “fall down.” So going “downhill” literally means going “hill hill.” There’s also an incredible number of things related to testicles. Unsurprising, actually...

Buffalo and Lions

One particular point of interest was when they talked about the longest grammatical english sentence that uses one word (bear with me) which is Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

This can be explained in more plain English:
Buffalo from the city buffalo like to buffalo (bully) other buffalo from the city buffalo, who in turn, will buffalo (bully) still more buffalo from that same city, buffalo.

Since this sentence was created, a Chinese-American (?) man decided to try his hand at one in Chinese, which, as you may be aware, has many words that sound the same, but are tonally different. It basically uses the sound “shi” [shih / shurr] over and over - NINETY-EIGHT times, if I counted correctly. It’s meaning can be summed up as follows:

Story of Shi eating the lionsa poet named Shi lived in a stone room,fond of lions, he swore that he would eat ten lions.he constantly went to the market to look for ten ten o’clock, ten lions came to the marketand Shi went to the market.looking at the ten lions, he relied on his arrowsto cause the ten lions to pass away.Shi picked up the corpses of the ten lions and took them to his stone room.The stone room was damp. Shi ordered a servant to wipe the stone room.As the stone den was being wiped, Shi began to try to eat the meat of the ten lions.At the time of the meal, he began to realize that the ten lions corpseswere in fact ten stone lions.Try to explain this matter.

And just like the “buffalo” sentence, it makes little sense until explained.

I left the cafe to make it home for 7, when the worker was supposed to arrive. at 7:55, he pushed it back to 9. Screw this, let’s make it Thursday.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]

Editing Music

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