Category Archives: Chinese/Mandarin/Han

Thoughts on a Red Pen’s Demise

I returned to my home office recently after a lengthy diversion for a customer. I’ve set up my desk, and I’ve stacked my bookshelf with all those books that we word geeks need–the unabridged dictionary, the thesaurus, the style guide, an industry-specific dictionary (older than the web site stated and priced far too high).

A co-worker brought me a business document for review, and I reached for that trusty red pen from my cup at the corner of my desk. I felt this inner surge of joy as I removed the cap from the pointy business end (why, yes, it does remind me of a rapier) and put it at the other end.

Imagine my chagrin as the pen refused to bleed in frustration at the issues in the writing. Don’t get me wrong; my team has excellent written communication skills. And that’s why writing issues are so egregious (and not in the archaic sense). But I digress…

As I fumbled for a new red pen, I began to let my mind wander.

First,. I felt sorry for those whose gifts weren’t written communication, who would sit in English, literature, or language arts classes and dread that paper coming back. That paper would be covered in the blood of the teacher’s pen, a pen assaulted by misspelling and grammar and usage errors. I could remember eye rolls and extra sweaty sweatshirts and bodies slinking to the floor.

Then I thought about immigrants from China trying to take a standard English class. I could imagine the confusion as red, their color of fiery expansive joy and good fortune, is used to tell them their writing has missed the mark and is just average and not real fortunate.

Then I visited the meaning of red in Christianity. Red is used in Revelation for the horse that indicates war and bloodshed. Scarlet, a shade of red, is used in Isaiah to describe sin and sinfulness. Red was also the color of the robe thrown roughly on Jesus’ shoulders after His scourging at the pillar when the Roman soldiers prepared to mock Him. Then His blood ran red at the crucifixion; because of His death and resurrection, I am covered by His blood so the Father sees only His Righteousness and not my sinfulness.

Then I came back to red on a graded paper… the papers my older children bring home. They are preemie survivors. The doctors didn’t know if they’d walk or talk, and then they falsely swore the kids would catch up. But whatever that history, red on their papers, just average, is a joyous sign of life and love and survival.

And then I swallowed some coffee and returned to my error hunt for survival of the economic stability of my home office.

Melodrama, anyone?



Kittie’s Littered Musings, #4

I promise, Sunday night will be the end of the DeadLife Nightmare for now. I have too much research to make any more of it believable, even in a make-believe place. For now, I’ll just post a few jumbled thoughts on other things until I do my next batch of poetry.


As a Christian, I believe very strongly in truth. I believe in simple, unvarnished truth. Yet, I have a question about truth and integrity and reality.

Suppose the truth of any scenario could be likened to a 12-faceted diamond. I can review any of the 12 sides I wish, and I see all twelve sides.

Now, let’s say I work with Larry, Moe, and Curly. If I choose to show sides 1, 10, 11, 12 to Larry; sides 2, 7, 8, 9 to Moe; and 3, 4, 5, 6 to Curly; am I being dishonest for not showing all three people the whole truth?

Or is my integrity dependent on motive?

Let’s say none of the three people have the wherewithal–intellectual, spiritual, or emotional–to handle the whole truth, am I wrong to only give them what they can handle?

Does that change if I know that any of the three are inclined to violence? What if by showing Larry 3 or 4 or 5, I incite him to violence? Am I wrong for withholding that information to protect others?


I was quite dismayed when a Congressional leader said we had to pass a bill to see what was in it. I recognize it was thousands of pages of legalese, but that is what we elected you to do.

As a result, I propose (as the writer I am) that henceforth all lawmaking bodies be immediately constrained to the following rules:

  • No law shall be written to more than five pages.
  • All legal text shall be at least 14-point font with double-spacing.
  • The text for all laws shall be written to a sixth-grade reading level in the official formal language of the legislating body.

What do the rest of you think?

Han Characters

I have been blessed to be studying Mandarin for about a year now as part of my job. I took the official online lessons from a business named for an archaeological artifact. But it was missing some key things, including music and Han character development.

Now that the course is finished, I am going back and using Youtube to find contemporary songs with English, Han, and pinyin. I also found a foreign broadcasting company’s game that will teach me to draw about 50 characters.

Some lessons I’ve learned:

  • The Chinese are truly smarter than most Westerners. By the time we’re congratulating ourselves for knowing 26 characters, they have learned 1400+ depending on the school they attend.
  • I lack the fine motor coordination to do Han characters justice. The space for drawing them is divided differently, and you have to produce the strokes in the character in a certain order and direction. I am afraid I am just creating some sick Rorschach images.
  • Do not listen to Chinese songs if you’re depressed. They are all about lost love, lost jobs, missing people. I think I’ve found only one happy one, and most sources call it the worst earworm ever created in K-pop.
  • All hearts have a God-shaped hole that only God can fill. Character after character has some form of a cross in it; it has kept me centered and re-centered on Christ throughout my day. It’s almost like the need for Christ was foreshadowed in the development of the language.