Spring into spring with pink peony, purple anemone… and something black

To buy a bouquet of flowers, from a return on equity point of view, is bad investment. Flowers start to die the moment they are removed from the stem, and as they loose their freshness, their value depreciate. But we adore flowers nonetheless.

As Michael Pollan pointed out in his book, The Botany of Desire, attractive flowers have a higher chance of being noticed by insects and animals (acting as agents of pollination), and thus bearing fruits first. Humans are also susceptible to this attraction.

Of the humans, Sherry has been most fatally afflicted. In addition to pink calla lilies and yellow daffodils in my office, there are also a variety of blossoms in my apartment, including snapdragon, forget-me-not, pansy, zinnia… You get the picture. And to top off my flower frenzy, a seminar on flower arrangement!

(image credit: Web/Ashley Kate HR)

(image credit: Web/Ashley Kate HR)

Word of the Day: Flower 
Flower 花(hua/ㄏㄨㄚ)

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Discovery of unicorn suggests the perfect man exists! (albeit a little hairy…)

Speaking of the unicorn — no, not your super tech startup valued at over $1 billion, but the white, mythical horse-like beast with a long horn spiraling from its forehead, it’s nice to know that it is real! A new skull fossil discovered near Kozhamzhar in the region of Pavlodar of Kazakhstan by researchers for Tomsk State University confirms the existence of the Siberian unicorn, or Elasmotherium sibiricum. 

American Journal of Applied Science published the findings.

The skull suggests a male, Siberian unicorn had once roamed the landscape. The mammal stood roughly 2 meters (6.5 feet) tall and 4.5 meters (15 feet) long and weighed about 4 tonnes.

The unicorn, instead of being white, ethereal and beautiful, is rather hairy… well, there goes reality! (image credit: Web/ The Guardian)

Great news right? Absolutely, I can tell my college-day girlfriends that we might still find that perfect man. “Hey, remember unicorn-stallion-mustang-horse-pony-donkey? Well, about Mr. Right…”

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“I got served the ellipsis!” (A note on email etiquette)

A financial reporter is a funny state of being. I am certainly no financial expert (I majored in English and Asian film studies, and I imagine if I had majored in economics, I would opt for other better-paying finance-y jobs), yet my job requires me to speak to many experts in my field, including investment bankers, debt brokers and traders. In fact, talking to the right person(s) is often what makes stellar news stories. But what if the right person(s) doesn’t want to talk to you?

Well, now enters the personality. Sure, I am professional, courteous, but I also want to connect with my sources on a personal level. It is after all a conversation. And it needs to go both directions, hence the extra seasoning with questions like “How was your [vacation/weekend/day]” or “What are you doing this [weekend]”, as well as throwing in a little about myself and various doings.

But what to do when I was given… the ELLIPSIS?

Ellipsis sorta, kinda drives me crazy. As minions can… (image credit: Universal Studio/Web)

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The contrarian “xia” Nie Yinnian: to kill or not to kill

The midday sun beats down unforgivingly. It’s noon by the way the shadow eats away at the two horses, swallowing them whole and making them appear gaunt and two-legged. The harsh light bleaches the world into blinding whiteness: only two colors remain, white and black. The starkness mirrors the two women who now appeared onscreen, one is wearing white and the other black. The woman in white hands the woman in black a dagger and instructs her to kill a man.

Cut to a team of riders. The woman in black watches the leader silently through the trees. Then, without warning, she runs out and in one swift motion slits his throat. No blood spills onscreen, but seconds later, the man topples off his horse.

This is “The Assassin” (《刺客聶隱娘》.

“The Assassin” (2015) is a film about a young woman who confronts the question “To be or not to be.” Should she fulfill her fate as an assassin and kill her cousin/childhood love? (image credit: “The Assassin”/Web)

“The Assassin,” which won the 2015 Cannes Film Festival “Best Director” Award, is the long-awaited film from Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien following Hou’s 2007 collaboration with French actress Juliette Binoche in remaking “Le Voyage Du Ballon Rouge” (“The Flight of the Red Balloon”).

The story takes place in 9th century China of Tang Dynasty and revolves around Nie Yinniang (聶隱娘/played by Taiwanese actress Shu Qi). Yinniang is the daughter of a general. Taken away at a tender age, she was raised as an assassin. Now, having grown and perfected the art of combat, she was returned to her birthplace with the assignment to kill the governor, Tian Ji’an (played by Taiwanese actor Chang Chen) who was once her betrothed.

But in opposition to what is expected with a film where the protagonist is a kick-ass swordswoman — elaborate fight scenes, kick-ass martial art moves, “The Assassin” is predominantly silent and static. The finished product is Hou’s contrarian interpretation of the film genre wuxia (武俠).

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The “Force” is strong come December 16

Even an Atlantic Ocean apart, the Force is undeniably strong. On the cover of British GQ and British Elle that I had picked up while stopping at Gatwick Airport located in Central London, who but Harrison Ford (aka Han Solo) and Lupita Nyong’o (aka Maz, CGI-animated alien character) grace the cover, respectively.

Image Credit: British GQ/British Elle Jan 2016

Image Credit: British GQ/British Elle Jan 2016

“Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” premiered in Los Angeles today, and will proceed to proliferate the Force to New York (Dec. 17) and London (Dec. 19). With ardent fans’ help, the franchise’s legacy stretches across race and generations. In New York City, several Star Wars-themed events can be expected, including a costume party at the Ace Bar (531 East Fifth Street) and the Bi-coastal (and also Orlando) lightsaber battle that is reported to become the largest in the world. But for those of us covering financial news, we are watching another Force: the U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate hike! Continue reading

Paradox: Yes, I did not

Paradox is a literary device that surprises/delights the reader or makes the reader think over an idea in an innovative way by putting two seemingly self-contradictory ideas together.

Here’s a real-life paradox, replayed. I was walking home one night when I overheard a conversation between a boy and a girl. This is likely their first date, you know, those awkward I-am-getting-to-know-you questions and overly enthusiastic responses.

“Are you a working journalist?” the girl asked.
“No, I am a master student studying 20th century American literature,” he replied.
“That’s awesome!” she exclaimed.

Translation: “Hi, I am a master student studying 20th century American literature and I have no job prospect whatsoever!” I doubt the awesomeness.

I slowed my pace. Walking roughly two steps to the right and three steps ahead of them. I was careful not to be in their immediate peripheral vision but also close enough so I could continue my eavesdropping.

The boy attempted to explain to the girl his area of study, which consists primarily of short stories. He asked, “Do you know of a famous short story that came out last year called ‘Redeployment’? Have you read it?”

She cried:

Yes I did not read it!

First date…(image credit: Web/http://news.com.au)

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American obsessed: “Those lovely, lovely Irish sheep!”

Traveling to Ireland for the first time, what impressed me the most was neither North Antrim Coast nor the amount of Guinness Dublin-ers consume, but Irish sheep. Yes, you heard me correctly, I said sheep. Along my train ride: from Dublin to Belfast, from Belfast to Dublin to Galway, whenever I saw them, I would gesture excitedly, grab my friend’s arm and cry, “Look, sheep!”

My British friend gaped in awe and said, “Do you not have sheep in America? You know outside London we have sheep, just like these right?”

Alas, how do I explain my conviction that Irish sheep — set against blue sky and green grass — are somehow extra fluffy, and most likely extra special. Thank goodness my obsession is not alone. I was able to dig up an article from Boston Irish Reporter, titled “Hello sheep lovers: Ireland is the place for ewe” to prove my sanity.

Blue sky, green pasture, and fluffy, cloud-white Irish sheep! (image credit: www.premier1supplies.com)

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Is my $4 ice coffee still amazing if it can be packaged into a milk carton?

No, it’s old news. Blue Bottle, having successfully raised $25.75 million in venture capital January, 2014, launched Blue Bottle New Orleans Iced Coffee – purchasable in blue and white half-pints milk carton, that summer. I was aware of the launch. Not only had I read about the initiative in several business publications, I also chatted with a couple Lower East Side-based baristas who informed me that Blue Bottle was no longer true, in the pure specialty coffee sort of way, to those in the coffee community.

I didn’t care then because I had plenty of accessible and equally delicious cafes to choose from. It wasn’t until I grabbed my first New York Blue Bottle on Monday, that I noticed how deeply affected I was by the milk, I mean, coffee cartons.

Artisanal coffee, when mass produced like Blue Bottle New Orleans Iced Coffee, can still uphold its integrity? (image credit: http://fastcompany.net)

Artisanal/specialty coffee charges a higher price than, say Dunkin’ Donut brew, because more attention was paid to producing that perfect sip. From selecting special coffee beans, to paying special attention to roasting and brewing, and of course, making that cup specially for you, specialty coffee is special in a big way. And consumers, like myself, willingly fork over $4, $5 for cold brew and $6+ for latte in exchange. Continue reading