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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Random Thoughts: A Few Brain Teasers

Sharing some brain teasers I found interesting. See how many you can figure out yourself:



Problem 1: The Missing Dollar
==========================
Three guests check into a hotel room. The normal charge for one night is $30, so each guest pays $10. Later the owner said that there's a promotion and the bill should only be $25. To rectify this, he gives the bellhop $5 to return to the guests. On the way to the room, the bellhop realizes that he cannot divide the money equally. As the guests didn't know the total of the revised bill, the bellhop decides to just give each guest $1 and keep $2 for himself.
Now that each of the guests has been given $1 back, each has paid $9, bringing the total paid to $27. The bellhop has $2. If the guests originally handed over $30, what happened to the remaining $1?


Problem 2: Cut the Loss
==========================
One day a customer came to Tom's store. He collected $20 worth of merchandize, and then gave Tom a $50 bill. Since Tom didn't have enough change, he went to Charlie's store next door and exchanged the $50 bill into changes. Then he gave the customer $30 change. Shortly after the customer left, Charlie came to Tom and told him that the $50 bill was counterfeit money. So Tom immediately gave Charlie another $50 bill in exchange. So after all, how much money did Tom lose from this incident? Was it $50, $80, or $100?


Problem 3: Green Onion Vendor
==========================
A customer came to the green onion vendor and asked about the price of the green onions. The vendor said that the green onions sell for one dollar per pound. Since he had a total of 100 pounds, it would cost one hundred dollars to buy them all. The customer then asked if the vendor would consider selling green onion stems and leaves separately. The vendor told him that the green onion stems would sell for 70 cents and the green onion leaves would sell for 30 cents. The customer then decided to buy 50 pounds of green onion stems and 50 pounds of green onion leaves. The vendor then calculated as the following:


50 x 0.7 = 35, 50 x 0.3 = 15, 35 + 15 = 50

So the customer paid $50 and left. Now the green onion vendor was very confused: how come the customer was able to take away his $100 worth of green onions for only $50?


Problem 4: Find the Odd Ping Pong Ball
==========================
You have 12 ping pong balls. One of them is slightly heavier OR lighter than the others. You also have a balance scale. How can you find the odd ball out, and if it is heavier or lighter, in only 3 weighings. Please help!


Problem 5: Silver Utensils Problem
==========================
Bill wanted to buy some silver utensils, so he went to the utensil store and then found out that he only had enough money to buy 21 forks and 21 spoons, or 28 knives only. Since he needs to buy the same number of forks, spoons and knives to make complete sets, and he would really prefer to use up all the money he had brought, can you help him out?


Video of the Day:

A great review of year 2011 based on what people searched in Google:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Outcast: Volume 1 Chapter 6

Volume One: Eastwood Is All Stones


Chapter 6: He is not a special agent

Bao Longtao had not seen what happened under the big green tree earlier, but that didn’t stop him from raising plenty of caution about the youngster whose face was still hiding behind the hood. He took two steps forward and then lowered his head so he could speak softly right next to Xu Le’s ear, which was of course still separated by the hood.
“Perhaps I shouldn’t ask you. I should go ask Li Wei.”
Like how animal handlers at the zoo always had their ways to handle the disobedient animals, whether with a whip or a piece of fresh meat, if an officer of the Federation wanted to handle the underground forces, he always had endless means. When Bao Longtao mentioned Li Wei’s name at this moment, he obviously was making a threat – even without checking ID himself, he could still easily find out about Xu Le’s identity.
But Xu Le had no worries. He was sure that Li Wei and those other orphans had plenty of means to survive. He carefully avoided Deputy Chief Bao’s intimate gesture without showing any offending signs. Still with his head lowered, he walked into the dark shadow humbly.
“I am sure we’ll meet again!” Bao Longtao shouted toward the youngster’s back, loosening his grip of the police baton.
……
……
It didn’t take long for the two to meet again. As a matter of fact, it was too short, so short that it was shocking and absurd.
In the dark shadow by the side gate of the Green Garden Apartments, Xu Le raised his head in shock, his bright eyes now squinting into two crescents. He gazed in utter disbelief at Bao Longtao, who leaned against the wall in a very comfortable posture with the confidence that the entire situation was still under his control. Xu Le appeared quite startled at the fact that the man had followed him to this remote corner without ever catching his attention.
“Didn’t I say we’ll meet again…? And I am very glad that no security monitors or nosy passersby would be able to interrupt our communication this time.”
Deputy Chief Bao stepped out of the dark shadow in his dark police uniform, the big grin on his face filled with insidious satisfaction. The police baton hanging by his waist was now in his hand. The diamond-shaped metal tip sparkled with terrifying blue electric arcs. Although they looked small, no one would have any doubt about their power.
Bao Longtao didn’t want to give Xu Le any chance to escape and didn’t expect Xu Le to immediately spill his guts. Out of habit he was ready to disable the young lad with a good shock before anything else and use the unbearable pain to soften the boy’s heart, so he would reveal the person behind him, the one who was capable of hacking into the Police Station network and taking advantage of the conflicts among the upper management of the Riverwest State government.
The tip of the baton almost reached Xu Le’s waist when Deputy Chief Bao suddenly felt a sharp pain.
A strong electric current instantly shot through his entire body, making all parts of his body twitch without control. In unbearable pain, he collapsed to the ground, trembling like someone with an epileptic seizure. White foam spilled from his half-open mouth.
The faint burning smell quickly dispersed into the night wind. The wall, however, was left with traces of permanent burning marks from the electric current.
After making sure Bao Longtao had no resistance left in him, Xu Le carefully returned the electric prod to his pocket.
The prod was only as long as a finger, but the electric current it sent out far exceeded the prod he gave to Li Wei earlier, not mentioning the police baton held by Bao Longtao.
Bao Longtao had pretended to let Xu Le leave and secretly intended to torture him in the dark corner. It was simply beyond his imagination that the feeble young lab could so easily take him down.
Xu Le walked by Bao Longtao. He hunkered down and examined the man. Then he placed a small metal piece into his ear and spoke with an intentionally lowered voice.
“Special agent No. 78 of the Federation Communication reporting. Operation interrupted. Should I erase the eyewitness?”
Xu Le crouched over Bao Longtao’s unconscious body as if he was waiting for instructions from the other end of the communication. A short moment later, he received his instructions. Paying no more attention to Deputy Chief Bao lying next to his feet, he quickly adjusted his jacket, so the hood covered his face even tighter, and soon disappeared into the darkness next to the Green Garden Apartments.
Obviously he did not live in the Green Garden Apartments.
……
……
After a long while, Deputy Chief Bao at the foot of the wall slowly opened his eyes. He made sure the mysterious young lad was really gone before he struggled to sit up. Wiping the white foam from his lips, he glanced gloomily in the direction of the youngster’s disappearance, his face twitching in grimace.
The pain and soreness in his muscle nerves was not gone yet, but Deputy Chief Bao’s attention was fully consumed by the shocking find. When he had been struck down by the electric shock, he hadn’t really lost his consciousness, and heard every word of the youngster’s request clearly. The words “erase eyewitness” and “special agent” frightened him, and he had dared not to open his eyes.
“Special agent of the Federation Communication, operating directly under both the Federation Communication Committee and the Federation President? You’ve gotta be kidding me!”
The feeling of dread quickly shot up Bao Longtao’s heart. The man who secretly provoked the orphans to cause trouble on the streets was a special agent sent from the Capital Star? The tiny yet powerful electric prod Xu Le had pulled out of nowhere only strengthened Bao Longtao’s conclusion.
As short as a finger, yet powerful enough to shoot an electric arc as far as fifty centimeters. Such delicate yet powerful weaponry simply could not have been copied by underground gangs. Only the military had the luxury to equip such devices and they were for Special Forces only.
Did that young lad work for the Federation Communication Committee or the President? Either would be a class far beyond his status. Bao Longtao slowly got back onto his feet with the help of the wall, still awed in terror. He knew he had made a terrible mistake today. This matter was something he’d never touch again.
……
……
Hot water streamed down from the faucet. The welfare of the Federation had always been good in small things. This was one example. The thick fog from the steam filled the entire bathroom with a dreamlike setting. Xu Le stood in front of the bathroom mirror and looked at the face inside the mirror. The steam soon turned the face into a blurry blob, but he remained still. Only after a long while, he finally let out a heavy breath.
The hands that grasped the edges of the white ceramic sink seemed to have been squeezing quite hard. The fingers looked paler than usual and also trembled slightly. He found himself terrified.
Xu Le pulled the small metal piece out of his ear, and then took out another metal object from underneath his tongue – it was used to change his voice. He threw them into the sink, which made two crisp clanking sounds – they were really only two metal buttons from his leisure jacket.
Bending his head low, Xu Le breathed heavily, as though doing so would allow him to exhale all the terror out of his body. With only two metal buttons, he had just fooled the infamous Bao Longtao, who was truly dreaded by many orphans, but he felt no accomplishment, not a single bit of it. If it weren’t for Li Wei’s sake, he would have never done anything like this.
He was no special agent, nor did he have the slightest ties with the big shots in the Capital Star Circle. He was merely a common person, gifted at mechanics maybe, but just a young lad.
Bao Longtao had always thought there were some powerful political forces standing behind him, but Xu Le knew that there was only one damn fellow behind all of this. If that fellow didn’t beg him in tears, how could he ever let the orphans and himself dig themselves into such an absurd situation?
Would Bao Longtao continue with his investigation? Xu Le wasn’t sure.
He could only splash hot water over his face again and again until the naïve-looking face almost turned red, and that was when he could finally breathe normally again. He stared at himself in the mirror irritably and then cussed in a lowered voice.
“Feng Yu, you a-hole! Who the hell are you?”



Now support the author Maoni by clicking this link, and support the translator Lanny by following my blog! :)

Video of the Day:

Enjoy Michael Jackson's Beat It, but the Red Army Version

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Random Thoughts: Sharing Some Mini-Stories

Sharing some mini-stories I read on the Internet. Hope you enjoy!


He was three when he peed his pants. She took her own pants off and gave it to him. "Remember to give it back to me," she said.
He was thirteen when he was courting a beautiful girl. She shoved her wallet into his hands. "Remember to give it back to me," she said.
He was thirty-three when he lost his ring. She took off the identical ring from her finger. "Remember to give it back to me," she said.
He was forty-three when the plane was about to crash. She strapped the parachute on him and waved. "You don't have to give it back to me this time," she said with a smile.

**********

Many years after the breakup they met again by chance.
Man: "How are you doing?"
Woman: "Good."
Man: "How is he doing?"
Woman: "Good."
"How about yourself?" the woman asked.
"Good."
Woman: "How about her?"
Man: "She just told me she is good."

**********

Everyday I would take the subway together with my girlfriend to go to work. Then one day and every day after she always found the handsome young man waiting for her outside of the station leaned on his sports car and looking at her with a big smile. At first she simply ignored him. But the handsome man and his sports car consistently showed up on time every day. Gradually she treated me with less and less enthusiasm until the day when the handsome young man confronted her with a large bouquet of red rose and asked, "Will you leave him, please?" "Of course!" she said with excitement. "She no longer loves you," the young man turned to me, "be my boyfriend, will you?" I accepted the bouquet.

**********

She climbed in the taxi and then recognized him. They had been intimate lovers ten years ago and had decided to go separate ways under the heavy pressure from their parents, never seeing each other again.
"How are you?"
"I am good, you?"
"Good."
She noticed the watch on his wrist was still the same one she had given him.
When she was getting off, he heard the jingles from the bell strapped on her handbag, the one he had given her.

**********

It was night. The boy had the girl on the back of his motorcycle.
Girl: "Can you slow down? I am scared."
Boy: "Isn't this fun?"
Girl: "Please! I am scared."
Boy: "Alright. Tell me you love me."
Girl: "Fine. I love you. Can you slow down now?"
Boy: "Can you take off my helmet and put it on. It's making me very uncomfortable."
The next day in the news: One death and one survivor in a motorcycle crash. Malfunctioning brakes to be blamed.

**********

In the United States.
"Hello...oh, hi mom, what is it?"
"Nothing, I just miss you."
"Alright, mom. I am really sleepy. It's early in the morning here. How many times have I told you. Don't forget the 12 hours timezone difference."
"Oh, I forgot. Go back to sleep..."
Five minutes later.
"Gosh, who's calling this early again!"
"This is your uncle. Your mom's apartment building is on fire!"
Dialing back immediately.
"Mom! Mom! Pick up the phone!!"
Ring...ring...ring...

**********

She works in a highrise building in the jungle of the city. He works in the office in the same floor just across the street. Everyday she would secretly watch him, imagining his joy and sorrow and then record them in her blog. Then one day he disappeared suddenly. She felt as if a chunk was missing from deep inside her heart. "He left. I miss him but he doesn't know." she wrote in her blog. A new comment quickly popped out. "Silly! I just moved to the floor above."

**********








Appreciate what you have before they are gone!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Twelve Stances of Yi-Jin-Jing (The Tendon-Altering Sutra) Part 6

The Twelve Stances of Yi-Jin-Jing (The Tendon-Altering Sutra) Part 5

第十一式打躬击鼓

接上式,右脚落地,起身向右转90度,右脚向左脚收半步,距离与肩同宽,成下蹲势。 两手抬至头侧后方,掌心按压两耳,周身放松,中、食、无名指稍屈,轻轻叩击枕骨处,两手交替进行,各叩击七次,谓之鸣天豉 鸣豉后双手抱后脑,缓缓向前弯腰,头垂于裆间至最大程度,膝挺直,如打躬状。 鸣天豉时身体先向左转90度,再向右转180度,再向左转90度。 弯腰垂头时牙关咬紧,作细微自然呼吸。 重复做三遍。

11th Stance: Bowing Down and Beating the Heavenly Drum

Continue from the last stance. Put the right foot down to the ground and stand back up. Turn 90 degrees to the right to return to facing front. Move right foot half step toward the left foot so they are at shoulder width and then squat. Raise both hands above your head and then lower them behind the head until your palms cover your ears. Relax the whole body. Slightly bend the index fingers, the middle fingers, and the ring fingers and gently tap the occipital bone with alternating hands. Tap seven times with each hand. This is called “Beating the Heavenly Drum.” After beating the drum hold the back of the head with both hands and slowly bent forward until your head cannot go any lower between your crotches. Keep the knees straight as if you are bowing down. When beating the heavenly drum, turn your body 90 degrees to the left first, next turn 180 degrees to the right and then turn 90 degrees to the left. Clench your teeth while bending forward and take small breathes naturally. Repeat three times.



第十二势:掉尾势

两腿开立,双手仰掌由胸前徐徐上举至头顶,目视掌而移,身立正直,勿挺胸凸腹;十指交叉,旋腕反掌上托,掌以向上,仰身,腰向后弯,目上视;然后上体前 屈,双臂下垂,推掌至地,昂首瞪目。呼气时,屈体下弯,脚跟稍微离地;吸气时,上身立起,脚跟着地;如此反复21次。收功:直立,两臂左右侧举,屈伸7 次。

12th Stance: Swinging the Tail

Stand with legs spread open. Slowly raise your hands past your chest and above your head, palms facing upward. Fix your stare on your palms as they move. Keep your body upright and don’t pull back shoulders or hold out your bosom. With ten fingers crossed, rotate your wrists and then lift upward with palms facing up. Extend the upper body and bend your waist backward while looking up. Then bend your body forward with both arms stretching out on the side and touch the ground. Lift your head and open your eyes wide. When exhaling, bend forward and at the same time lift the back heels off the ground slightly. When inhaling, return upper body back to standing position and land the back heels back to the ground. Repeat 21 times. To finish the exercise, stand in upright position and raise your arms from the side. Bend and extend the arms 7 times.

Again, please see how our friendly Mr. Bruce Wen demonstrate these two stances and explain things in English. Remember, Mr. Wen's version might be slightly different from the version I translated.



This concludes the entire Twelve Stances of the Yi-Jin-Jing. The following video shows a different flavor of the Twelve Stances of Yi-Jin-Jing demonstrated by a Shaolin monk in one smooth continuous form.



Video of the Day:

A National Geography documentary on the subject of Shaolin Kung Fu.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Outcast: Volume 1 Chapter 5

Volume One: Eastwood Is All Stones


Chapter 5: A finger in the night wind


“Xu Le is willing to see you only because your mom raised him for two years after the mining accident. He is grateful…. But you must clearly understand that he is one who doesn’t like to cause trouble. Better let the words you hear rot inside your tummy.”
Having returned to the apartment building of the Bell-Tower Street, Li Wei shot a threatening stare at Little Qiang, still feeling a bit worried. The boy was, after all, just a ten-year-old kid. What if he spilled the words out inadvertently?
The little fellow showed a puckered mouth and was almost scared to tears by Li Wei’s stern stare. Li Wei’s eyes always appeared clear and adorable, but every orphan hanging around the Bell-Tower Street knew how cruel and merciless the sixteen-year-old chief could become.
The metal shaft was no longer in Li Wei’s hands. He had probably hidden it somewhere. His hands now held a beer bottle and continued pouring beer down his throat. He sat under the street light and hummed the tune of a folk song, looking quite content. The little fellow gave him a timid peek, and then hesitated for a while, but the question still burst out eventually.
“Brother Le rarely comes back to the Bell-Tower Street in the last two years. What on earth is he doing?”
“Who knows? The bloke always fancied craftsmanship since he was little. Who’d have thought he could be so brutal. Do you still remember that thing we saw that year?” Li Wei gulped down a mouthful of beer and gasped in admiration.
“I was only five back then. I don’t remember a thing now.”
The little fellow licked his lips as he cast a side glance at the beer bottle in Li Wei’s grip, looking quite curious. The lives of the orphans in the Eastwood Grand District were generally worriless, only that finding drinks that contained alcohol had always been difficult. And liquors in the black market were simply way too expensive.
“That’s right. I was only eleven, myself. Xu Le was only ten at that time.”
Li Wei threw the empty beer bottle onto the garbage pile under the street light not far from him and took a deep breath. His young and puerile face seemed to have been gradually taken over by traces of numbness.
“If that thing never happened ten years ago, we’d probably still be in school. We might even have earned our professional certificate and made it into the Riverwest University…heck…we might even go to the Capital Star as exchange students.”
The street light cast long shadows behind the two boys, one tall and one short, and the shadows draped over the garbage piles in a distance. A black cat quietly walked by in the dark shadows. No matter how wide his yellow pupils dilated, once again, he didn’t see any mouse. The entire surroundings were submerged in desolation and deathly stillness.
……
……
The mining accident ten years ago had buried underground over three hundred miners. What made it worse was when the collapse also reached the temporary residence complex. Many visiting relatives also became unfortunate victims and countless families were brutally broken apart.
The accident shocked the entire Federation. Such disastrous tragedy and large death toll in a society with super advanced technology resulted in the dismissal of many government officials. Top officials of the Department of Homeland Security and the Governor of the Riverwest State all resigned under the immense pressure of the news media. Three officials ended up with criminal charges. Even the Deputy Secretary in charge of safety and security of the Eastwood Grand District was sentenced to four years of jail time.
The aftermath reactions of the Federation government and the justice system were indeed swift and strict. But the perished lives were lost forever. The severe mining accident gave the final heavy blow to the mining industry of the Eastwood Grand District, which was already on the brink of crumple and was just hanging by a thread. The United Mining Corporation filed bankruptcy and was soon taken over by the Federation government.
This event had deep impacts on many future government policies, but few gave any thought to the fact that the deepest impacts were really about the lives of the many orphans.
……
……
The orphans who participated in the rally at the Bell-Tower Street during the day were all victims of this mining accident. Li Wei was one of them, so was the little fellow, and so was Xu Le.
Xu Le was one of the many orphans resulted from the mining accident. To be more precise, he was an oddball among the orphans. Over the years he never cast admiring glances at the swaggering gang leaders on the streets. His favorite activity was to sit in the grocery store by the street corner and watch others repair electronic appliances.
He didn’t look muscular, sinister, ruthless or callous. In fact his face always carried a slight smile, as though nothing could bother him no matter how difficult the situation was.
Strangely, none of the fight-eager orphans dared to provoke him. It almost seemed as if orphans of the three streets actually respected him. The respect was probably largely due to Li Wei’s sincere respect for him.
Five years ago, an incidental street cleanup operation by the government forced an underground mob into the backstreets and alleys of the orphan-occupied Bell-Tower Street. Coldblooded and vicious, they successfully took over control of this long-abandoned district. Within a mere two-hour period, three of the oldest and bravest orphans had been killed in the brutal clash.
The rampant and arrogant orphans during normal days were really only showing off lion cubs before they successfully evolve into sinister gangsters.
On that day, Xu Le, who never participated in regular orphan group activities, went missing. Then all of a sudden, the police force and reinforcement from the local military unit, who couldn’t penetrate the troubled lower district of the Riverwest State Capital City, were finally able to enter the large complex behind the Bell-Tower Street through an underground pipeline.
Many of the gang members were killed. The orphans returned to their old territory, very glad that the deaths of the three orphans were avenged. But no one knew that on that cold rainy night, the always dull but optimistic Xu Le had stabbed to death the escaped leader of the underground mob with a scrap elbow hydraulic pipe from a junk Mech just outside of the waste station.
Except for the shivering Li Wei and the little fellow hiding in the interlayer of the sheet rocks at the abandoned factory dining hall. That year Li Wei was eleven, the little fellow was five, and Xu Le had just turned ten.
……
……
“Four years ago?” Xu Le repeated the words of the middle-aged man in front of him, still hiding his face in the hood of his jacket, and then grinned.
He was now sure that the man was just trying to trick him instead of referring to that most terrifying memory deep inside his heart.
“I was taking a makeup entrance exam given by the State Education Office four years ago.”
Deputy Chief Bao fixed his eyes on the youngster with a chilling stare. He knew the lad must have had something to do with the fiasco in the afternoon, but he could not be sure. How on earth could a young lad get ahold of the internal itinerary of the police station? How the hell would he be able to understand the political conflicts and wrestling among the upper management?
“I need to know who is behind you.”
Bao Longtao thought that the chilling tone he used was just perfect and the question was also perfectly right to the point. Of course he had no doubt that orphans hanging around the Bell-Tower Street would have no problem recognizing him and the authority he represents.
When Xu Le heard the question, he couldn’t help but lower his head and squeeze out a bitter smile. He gave a shrug and then walked on toward the bright street light, ready to go home and sleep, as if he couldn’t see the middle-aged man in front of him who stared at him like a black dog.
Bao Longtao gave a firm grip to the police baton in his hand.
Young lad Xu Le suddenly raised a slim but steady finger.
Pointing toward the dark shadows behind the street light, he said, “There are a total of five security monitors over there. You only work for the police. You are not a judge, nor do you work for the Management Committee. You would have no way to erase the security video. So I would suggest you give up the idea of physical assault…whatever you want to know, why don’t you first obtain the necessary legal documents, and then I’d be very glad to cooperate with your investigation.”
A trace of disbelief flashed across Deputy Chief Bao’s eyes. He froze for a good while and finally spoke again.
“ID check. I’ll need to read your chip.”
Xu Le turned around, with the hood still over his head.
“Tomorrow, the Deputy Chief of the No. 2 Police Substation will be reprimanded by the Governor himself. He might even make the morning news on TV because of today’s rally. Who would ever believe that he would be so inclined to personally perform an ID check on a harmless feeble youngster so late at night?”
The finger that had been pointing at the security monitors in the dark shadows waved slowly as Xu Le spoke with a very sincere tone.
“I am a good person. Believe me. Everything I just said was for your own well being.”
Bao Longtao suddenly felt a chill. The unidentified young lad had spoken in such a calm and sincere manner. Suspicion brewed thicker and thicker in his chest and his grip onto the baton also became tighter and tighter.




Now support the author Maoni by clicking this link, and support the translator Lanny by following my blog! :)

Video of the Day:

Gators attacked by cat - what I would call a stupid cat!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Twelve Stances of Yi-Jin-Jing (The Tendon-Altering Sutra) Part 5

The Twelve Stances of Yi-Jin-Jing (The Tendon-Altering Sutra) Part 4


第九式青龙探爪

接上式,左脚回收于右脚内侧,成立正姿势。 左臂屈肘收回于左腰间。 同时右肘微屈,吸气,上体向左扭腰转体,右手向体前探爪抓去,并吐气发出声,此时要求腰腹放松。 右手回收,向左46度方向做第二次探爪,再收回向左90度方向做第三次探爪。 然后,头带动躯干沿逆时针方向转动一小周,右手随之书一小圆(上图)。 两眼随右爪瞭望,如寻食状。 每次探爪均发出声。 探爪时右臂一伸一缩,身体随之转后。 然后右手收回腰间,左手以同样动作向右探爪(下图)。

9th Stance: Green Dragon Waving Its Claws

Continue from the last stance. Retract left foot back next to the right foot in an Attention position (like in military drills). Bend the left elbow and retract left arm next to the left side of the waist. Meanwhile, bend the right elbow slightly, inhale, turn the upper torso to the left, reach forward with the right hand in a dragon claw, exhale and make a “Shu” sound. Remember to relax the waist and abdomen for this stance. Retract the right hand back and then reach out the second time 46 degrees to the left with a dragon claw. Retract again and then reach out a third time 90 degrees to the left. Next, let the head lead the torso and make a small circular movement counterclockwise. Then make a circular movement with the right hand (see upper figure). Glance following the left claw hand as if hunting for preys. Make the “Shu” sound each time when reaching out with the claw hand. Extend and retract the right arm when executing the dragon claw. Turn your body afterwards. Then retract right hand back to the waist side and reach out with the left hand in dragon claw to the right (see lower figure).

第十式卧虎捕食

接上式,左臂回收于腹前,右脚向右跨一步,同时向右转体90度,上体顺势前倾,两掌手心向右前方下扑,如卧虎捕食。 此时两掌落地,成右弓步,昂首环视(上图)。 然后以双手手指支撑全身重量,左腿屈膝成90度,左脚抬离地面,脚心朝上﹔两臂一伸一屈,身体上下起伏。 做三至五次。 而后两手离地,手心翻向上,体向左后转180度,两手掌再翻向下,再做卧虎捕食动作,唯方向相反(下图)。

10th Stance: Crouching Tiger Hunting for Prey

Continue from the last stance. Retract the left arm back to the stomach. Take a step to the right with the right foot and at the same time turn 90 degrees to the right. Lean the upper body forward following the natural flow of the movement and pounce forward with both palms facing down like how a crouching tiger pounces on its prey. Both palms should reach the ground while the legs are in a right front stance. Raise your head and look around (see upper figure). Next use fingers from both hands to support your entire body weight. Bend the left knee to 90 degrees and lift the left foot off the ground and turn the bottom of the foot upward. One arm should be in extended position while the other one is bent. Shift your body up and down for three to five times. Then raise both hands with palms facing upward and turn your body 180 degrees to the left. Turn the palms to face downward again and execute the crouching timer pouncing on prey move, only in opposite direction (see lower figure).

In the video below you can see our friendly Mr. Bruce Wen demonstrating these two stances and explain in English. Remember, Mr. Wen's version might be slightly different from the version I translated.



The Twelve Stances of Yi-Jin-Jing (The Tendon-Altering Sutra) Part 6


Picture of the Day: 

Although my 6-year old daughter Adeline has never learned the Tendon-Altering Sutra, although she is only a white belt, she certainly knows how to throw a beautiful kick!



Friday, April 24, 2009

10 Famous Thought Experiments That Just Boggle Your Mind Part 1

I ran into an interesting article in a forum (original in Chinese) that talked about 10 very famous thought experiments in the fields of philosophy, ethics, and psychology. Since I am getting a Doctor degree in Philosophy (hopefully), and also because I strongly believe these type of questions and experiments are very related in the research of artificial intelligence, I thought I'd share these with you together with my thoughts on the subject. Hope you enjoy!

10. The Trolley Problem

The trolley problem is a well known thought experiment in ethics, first introduced by Philippa Foot, a British philosopher. Trolley is the British term for a tram. The problem goes like this:

A trolley is running out of control down a track. In its path are five people who have been tied to the track by a mad philosopher. Fortunately, you could flip a switch, which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that track. Should you flip the switch or do nothing?

A common answer takes the utilitarianism approach where flipping the switch becomes the obvious option because saving five lives result in a higher utility than saving just one life. But critics of the utilitarianism believe that flipping the switch constitutes a participation in the moral wrong, making one partially responsible for the death when otherwise the mad philosopher would be the sole culprit. An alternative view believes that inactivity under such a circumstance is also unethical. The bottom line: whatever you do, it is unethical. You are doomed either way.

It is reasonable to guess that your choice might vary if the single person happen to be your kid and the group of five consisted of four complete strangers plus your mother-in-law. In that case, you are simply assigning different utility values to different people (with the possibility of a negative utility). You no longer assume all people are equal. And if the group of five also included two other kids of yours, you simply assign the utility values and do the math and then make the "logical" decision (man, I am so cruel here!). This reminded me of a famous darn question people always get asked: if both your mother and your wife fall into the river and neither one knows how to swim, who should you save first? If you ever are asked this question, here's one answer you could use:
I'll jump into the river and drown myself, and we'll all go to heaven together. Now are you satisfied?
When it comes to artificial intelligence, a lot of times the choice is made based on a utility computation. Maybe the utility is computed using some fancy statistical functions. More advanced algorithms might take into consideration of probability or utility functions derived from past observations. Even more advanced algorithms might allow the agent to dynamically change or evolve the utility functions as time progresses -- a sense of learning. The agent will simply compute the utility values following whatever formulas it comes up with and then choose the option that will result with the highest utility. This is why AI agents or robots are normally considered to be very logical and at the same time very inhuman.It would be a long time before an AI agent would find itself trapped in this moral dilemma. (Remember the big computer in the movie War Games? It eventually figured out that the best winning strategy of playing the game of Tic-tac-toe was to not play the game at all).

So how would you design the AI agent or robot to be able to deal with morality, especially when you are giving it a weapon and grant it the permission to fire the weapon? Even we humans don't have clear clues in situations like in the Trolley Problem. Can we expect or require the agent or robot to do better than us? Unfortunately no one knows the right answer at the present time, we can only learn from our mistakes. Let's hope these mistakes are not disastrous and recoverable.




Read Part 2: The Gettier Problem


Picture of the Day:

You can go here to see more animated portraits like this one.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Outcast: Volume 1 Chapter 4

Volume One: Eastwood Is All Stones


Chapter 4: The hood cannot hide your face

When the fifteen-year old Xu Le made this claim in a trembling voice and the most sincere and clipped tone, obviously he didn’t think this dream would ever come true. An orphan in the remote Eastwood Grand District could certainly become totally obsessed with the purple-haired little goddess of the Federation on an ultra-thin TV on his knees and use such a strong-worded proclamation to express his intense emotion. The real root probably had more to do with the physiological changes due to puberty.
The poor is certainly entitled the right and the courage to fantasize, only that the huge gap between different social stratums is not something that can be narrowed by individual efforts. Other than his poorness, the youngster Xu Le had nothing else to offer. He probably would never have the chance to set his foot on the capital star, not even just for a short tour….
Xu Le was not a particularly handsome young lad. He was certainly not ugly, but only possessed a still somewhat puerile, tender, and ordinary face, just like any ordinary teenage boy. He had neither an attractive face nor an adorable figure. He was, after all, just one of the common people.
The most noticeable feature on his face had to be his eyes, which squinted slightly under the dark bushy eyebrows and appeared to be a bit small, not really matching well with the pair of attractive eyebrows. Especially when he was deep in thought, his eyes would squint even more, and the once sincere and austere expression in his eyes would be tainted with an infatuated and naive look.
However, if someone could stare deep inside the pupils, behind the infatuated look, he’d for sure find some stone-solid persistence and determination, a special trademark trait of the Eastwooders.
……
……
“Between the age fifteen and fifty…every man in the Federation thinks Jian Shui-Er is super gorgeous, and each one would be willing to take her for a bride,” Under the dim night sky and the big green tree, Brother Wei patted Xu Le gently on his somewhat feeble shoulder and uttered with the utmost sympathy. “Me included. But I am too thin-skinned to say it out loud. You are indeed shameless!”
“I…I think so too.”
The young boy by Brother Wei’s side cast a sneaky glance at Xu Le. When he confirmed that Brother Le’s eyes were still fixed on the shining display of the ultra-thin crystal screen, totally preoccupied by the purplish portrait in the last frozen frame of the episode, he finally gathered enough courage and added his comment.
Xu Le raised his head slowly and glanced at the little boy.
“Little Qiang, you are only ten. You don’t know Jack!” he said with a grin.
After that remark, Xu Le stood up and leaned against the trunk of the big green tree. He pressed lightly on the side of the ultra-thin crystal screen. With a pleasant sliding sound the entire screen retracted into a thin circular shaft.
He gently stroked the smooth metal surface of the circular shaft, a trace of grief creeping in his thick eyebrows.
“This is a high-quality pirated model of the N98. It’s worth at least four thousand on the market. You got yourself a really good deal, Li Wei. It is yours now, but if want it repaired one day, I still have to charge you.”
“Stop acting like a girl!” Li Wei scratched his pale blonde curly hair irritably and snatched the circular shaft from Xu Le’s hand. “You’ve got to see that stern face of Bao Longtao today. Are you saying that the risk we took today, over one hundred of us, is not even worth the damn TV?”
Xu Le let out a grin and did not argue with him. Instead, he gave a strong pat to Li Wei’s shoulder.
“Same old deal. If I need anything, I’ll trouble you again.”
Li Wei did not reply immediately, and instead, stared at the ordinary-looking face of Xu Le, puzzled. He continued with the stare for a long time until he could no longer withhold the question.
“Where have you been hanging out during the day for the last two years? Why are you always hiding from us? I know you don’t like us hanging out on the streets, afraid that we might eventually turn into gangs…. But the school has always kept the gate open for us. Frankly speaking, for the last ten years, the government has been good to us.
“We’ve thrown away school course work for many years. How are we ever able to catch up?” Xu Le heaved a sigh helplessly.
 Li Wei didn’t fancy convincing his friend so easily. He cussed a few words in annoyance.
“You son of a bitch, I am just afraid you’ll turn autistic.”
That remark gave Xu Le a big grin, so big that his eyes squinted again, as though he had just heard the funniest joke in the entire world. But he did not stay with the topic.
“Don’t you want to give it a try?”
Obviously the ten-year-old boy did not understand the conversation between the two youngsters. Wasn’t that circular shaft a very fine-looking and very expensive ultra-thin crystal screen? It also had great TV signal reception earlier. What else was left to try?
But Li Wei’s face turned serious at these words. Holding the thin circular shaft tightly with his right hand he cautiously pushed a hard-to-spot small metal piece.
……
……
ZAP! ZAP! A strange sound resonated under the big green tree as a faint blue electric arc shot out from the tip of the shaft with awe-inspiring and soul-stirring beauty. The arc traveled with a half-meter radius and quickly circled back to the tip of the shaft.
The young boy threw himself to the ground as soon as he saw the blue electric arc and quickly placed both of his hands behind his head. Obviously in the past, orphans on the streets had suffered a great deal of torture from this type of weapons. Li Wei’s face turned slightly pale. Gazing at Xu Le stupidly, he asked in a trembling voice.
“Holy cow! You call this an electric prod?”
“It just looks scary. The attacking power is not even half of the military models. But those ones require major efforts to mod,” Xu Le said with a frown. “Make sure you only use this when you pick fights with those street punks. You’ll be in deep trouble if you let anyone from the No. 2 Substation see it.
Li Wei quickly thrust the circular shaft underneath his jacket and kept staring at Xu Le with disbelief.
“I thought this thing would just make a few sparks at most…you…you are a damn genius.”
By then Little Qiang had also got back onto his feet and stared at Xu Le as though he was worshiping an angel. Although they were only orphans and had very little education, they still could imagine what talent it would require to mod the most beautiful ultra-thin portable crystal screen on the market into such powerful electric prod!
“Ha! I am a genius….” Xu Le raised his bushy eyebrows slightly.
This reaction didn’t look arrogant in any way, and instead, made the youngster appear extremely sincere and honest.
Li Wei gazed earnestly into his eyes and finally asked, “Xu Le, you must have put in a lot of work on this thing. You did all this just…just so you could watch Jian Shui-Er?”
“Of course,” Xu Le replied with an even more sincere tone.
Li Wei felt a sudden urge to beat the hell out of someone. But eventually he only scolded, “You idiot!”
……
……
Xu Le watched on until the two shadows vanished into the dark night by the edge of the city. Feeling a bit relaxed, he reached back, pulled up the hood hanging from his leisure jacket, and put it over his head, making sure his entire face was well covered in the shadow. Then he walked down the green hill, away from the big green tree, and followed a different road, walking toward another residence district of the Riverwest State Capital.
However, the journey home for the youngster today was not trouble free. Right by the street light at the entrance of the Rolland Street, he was stopped.
“The hood cannot hide your face…I think we met four years ago.”
Under the dim street light, the figure of the Deputy Chief of the Riverwest State Police No. 2 Substation, Bao Longtao, appeared to be extra murky and fearful. He stared at the young lad in front of him, who was at least two heads shorter than him. He stared at the hood that hid the youngster’s face and uttered the cold words.


Now support the author Maoni by clicking this link, and support the translator Lanny by following my blog! :)

Video of the Day:

I almost fall off my chair laughing! Hope you get a kick out of this too. Here I present you: Indian Superman!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lanny's 2012 New Year Resolutions


First of all, Happy New Year to you all! Wish you all a very productive year ahead of you!!

Well, it's that time of the year again -- time to make a new list of new year resolutions. So what are you putting on your list this year? But before you start, maybe it's a good idea to pause for a minute and think how well you did with your resolutions in the past year.

One thing is for sure, the year of 2011 went by too quickly!! There were many things I wanted to finish but didn't. I am still working on my dissertation and there are still a lot left to be done. I didn't translate as much as I wanted and I also didn't post as many blogs as I had hoped. But the good thing is that I did translate some and I also did post some blogs. =) I also designed the robot I want to build and bought most of the parts. Still need to put them together and write some code to drive that thing. Let's hope that gets completed this year!

There are two very different methods of achieving success. One method is to really lower your expectations. For example, the Mars Rovers were only expected to work for 90 days, and now 6 years later, they are still working. What a great success. The other method is to set really high goals, and then even if you only accomplish a portion of what you set out to do, you would have already accomplished a lot. You'll probably find both methods applied in my new year resolutions.

Anyway, here's the resolution list for this year:

1. I will try my best to go to bed before midnight every day.
Maybe not getting enough sleep every day resulted in low performance and low efficiency. I'll make sure I get 7 hours of sleep each day this year! I also need more sleep because I'll be exercising more this year and I need the sleep to rejuvenate. (Method 2)

2. I will graduate before the world ends.
It has already been 5 years since I started grad school. Time is running out since my advisor's funding, my personal funding, and the world (according to the Mayan calendar) will all end soon. So I am DETERMINED to get my PhD before the world ends!! (Method 1)

3. I still hope I can post two blogs each day.
I actually started many drafts. The key is to complete them and publish! (Method 2)

4. I still plan to translate one page each day.
I actually translated quite a bit last year. Just didn't post them all because I wanted to mix robot related posts with translation related posts. I'll still try to stick to this plan this year! (Method 2)

It's 23 minutes past midnight already. Doh!! I better go to bed now! Wish you all have a great New Year Resolutions List and with you all stick to it!!



Video of the Day:

A great way to strength your lower back. Wish you a very healthy 2012! (And just love this mafia accent!)


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Twelve Stances of Yi-Jin-Jing (The Tendon-Altering Sutra) Part 4

The Twelve Stances of Yi-Jin-Jing (The Tendon-Altering Sutra) Part 3

第七式九鬼拔马刀

接上式,两臂分开成侧平举,手心向上。 然后右臂屈肘,右手至头后,腰略弯,头略左摆,食指中指第一关节夹住左耳垂,食指微提,中指微下压,并轻轻向右牵拉。 同时左肘弯曲,左手背贴背部上移于两肩胛之间,尽力上抬,手指向上,并向左转体;微屈膝,低头看右脚背。 而后身体慢慢恢复原势, ​​头左转向后看(左图)。 定式后约静立半分钟。 反方向再仿一次(右图)。

7th Stance: Nine Ghosts Drawing the Saber

Continue from the last stance. Open your arms and move to the side at should height with the palms facing up. Then bend the right arm and reach your right hand behind your head. Bend your waist slightly and lean your head to the left slightly. Use the first joint of the index finger and the middle finger to grip the left earlobe. Lift gently with the index finger while pushing down gently with the middle finger and pull gently to the right. At the same time bend the left elbow and place the back of your left hand upward so it is between the two shoulders. Raise your left hand as high as possible. Point the fingers upward and turn your body left. Bend knees slightly and look down at the top of the right foot. Then slowly return body to the original position. Turn your head to the left and look behind your shoulder (see left figure). After completing the stance stand still for about half a minute. Then perform and stance in opposite direction once (see right figure).


第八式三盘落地

接上式,左脚向左跨一步,两脚尖外撇。 两臂侧平举,掌心向下。 而后两腿弯曲成骑马蹲裆势,同时两掌下按,与膝齐平。 然后两臂外旋,两手翻为仰掌,两腿同时缓缓伸直站立,两臂随之慢慢上抬成侧平举。 下按时呼气,意念两掌心,如按浮木﹔上抬时吸气,仿佛两掌心放有重物。 反覆做三至五次。

8th Stance: Three Bases Dropping to the Ground

Continue from the last stance. Take a step left with the left foot and point the feet outward. Hold your arms out flat at the side of the body at shoulder height with palms facing down. Then squat down into a horse stance and pushing downward with both palms at the same time until they are at knee height. Then rotate both arms outward and turn both palms to face up. Slowly straighten both legs to stand up at the same time and naturally raise both arms so they are flat at the side of the body. Exhale when pushing down and set your mind on the center of the two palms as if you were pushing down floating logs in water. Inhale when raising the palms as if there were heavy objects inside the two palms. Repeat three to five times.



Again our friendly Mr. Bruce Wen happily demonstrates the two stances for you and explains what each  stance is good for. If he is right, then it is recommended that you perform these two stances at a location where a convenient restroom is nearby. Remember, Mr. Wen's version might be slightly different from the version I translated.



The Twelve Stances of Yi-Jin-Jing (The Tendon-Altering Sutra) Part 5


Picture of the Day:

 I wanted to check out Google's new 3D trip planner so I searched for driving directions from Orem, UT to China. It's really interesting that Google Map suggested "Kayak across the Pacific Ocean", and it only estimated 14 days and 5 hours for this feat! I figured that I might have a slight chance of accomplishing that if I can fully master the 12 stances of Tendon-Altering Sutra! LOL!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Seven Weapons - Longevity Sword: Chapter 2 (1)

Chapter 2: Palace of White Jade in Heaven

ONE

Bai Yujing[1] was not in heaven, but on a horse.
His saddle was almost completely worn out; same goes with his boots and the scabbard of his sword. However, his clothes were brand new.
The scabbard dangled loosely against the saddle as the spring breeze gently stroked his face.
He was very cheerful and very comfortable.
The aged saddle was very comfortable for sitting; the well-worn boots felt very comfortable on his feet; the old scabbard would never cause damage to the sharp edge of his sword; new clothes always put him in high spirits and feel vigorous and energetic.
What he was most cheerful about, however, were not these things, but that pair of eyes.
In the horse-drawn carriage in front of him, a pair of charming eyes had been peeking at him all the time. This was not the first time he saw those eyes. He could still remember the first time when he saw those eyes. It was inside a small inn in a small town.
He had just entered the inn when she walked by and bumped into him.
Her lovely smile was filled with shyness and embarrassment, and her face was as red as the rain-soaked sunset.
He secretly hoped that she would bump into him again, because she was really a very attractive lady while he was really not a hypocritical gentleman.
The second time when he saw her, it was inside a small restaurant. He had just begun his third drink when she walked in. As soon as she recognized him, she hung her head with the sweetest smile.
The sweet smile was still filled with shyness and embarrassment.
At that time he smiled too, because he knew she would not have smiled again and again had she bumped into another person. He also knew that he was not an unattractive man, which he had always been very confident with.
Therefore even though he left first, he did not hurry with his journey.
As expected, her carriage had caught up with him by now, but did this happen by chance or by purpose? He was a rover who enjoyed wandering the world. Along his journeys, he had met all kinds of people.
Among them were red-bearded barbarians who roamed the grasslands outside of the Great Wall and heavily-armored cavalries who galloped the great deserts. There were also ill-tempered outlaws that would slaughter at the slightest argument, as well as young and daring champions of Martial World chivalry.
The endless wandering gradually worn his saddle and scabbard, and his beard grew thick and stiff.
But his life was always fresh and colorful.
He could never foresee in the next part of his journal what things might happen or what kind of people he would meet.
The spring breeze gradually grew chilly, and a misty spring shower suddenly spilled off the spring clouds, moisturizing his new spring outfits.
The carriage ahead of him halted. As he rode closer, he found that the curtains had already been rolled up and that pair of charming eyes gazed at him intently.
The charming eyes, a shy smile, a lovely face untouched by makeup, and a dress as vivid as the violet twilight made up a breathtaking scene.
She pointed at her delicate feet, then at his newly wetted clothes, her slender fingers as pretty as the scallions of the spring season.
He pointed at himself, then at the carriage.
She nodded, and then with a charming smile, opened the door.
The interior of the carriage was cozy and dry. The silky seat covers were as smooth as her skin.
He dismounted his horse and stepped up into the carriage.
The spring shower was tender and intimate – it rained just at the right time.
In spring time, the Heavenly Lord seemed to be very fond of arranging intriguing occasions to bring together fine people in fortuitous encounters.
There was neither the slightest bit of awkwardness, nor unnecessary words, as though it was his destiny to meet her and his destiny to sit in this carriage.
Along a lonesome journey and between a pair of lonesome travelers, no one could object to their cross of paths.
Just when he thought of wiping the rain drops off his face with his sleeve, she handed him a handkerchief of soft, red silk.
He gazed at her, but she hung her head to play with a corner of her dress.
“You’re welcome.”
“My name is Bai, Bai Yujing.”
She let out a charming smile and then chanted gently.
“A palace of white jade in heaven,
Has pavilions five and castles a dozen,
Where the deity stroked my pate and coiled up my hair,
And blessed me longevity as my welfare.”
“You like Li Bai[2] too?” He smiled as well.
She entangled the corner of her dress to her slender fingers and began to recite in a low, lengthened voice.
“On the mountain of Lao by the east sea,
I once savored the violet twilight carefree,
Where I met the legendary immortal Elder An Qi[3],
Who shared with me melon-sized fruits of jujube.
Only as a middle-aged man I called on his Majesty,
Failing my aspiration I return home despondently.
My once youthful face had withered in the spring sun,
And the graying of hair in life had inevitably begun.
I crave the golden elixir of eternity,
And to ride the carriage of clouds in serenity.
Up the heavenly terrace I follow the elder in pleasure,
To sweep fallen petals with the celestial at leisure.[4]
Her voice had a slight pause at the mentioning of the mountain of Lao.
“Miss Lao?” Bai Yujing guessed.
Her head bowed even lower, and a soft voice replied, “Yuan Zixia[5].”
Suddenly the sound of galloping hooves echoed as three horses raced past the carriage, and three pair of sharp eyes glanced over the inside of the carriage.
As the horses sprinted forward, the last rider suddenly leapt off his saddle in a back flip and landed on Bai Yujing’s saddle twenty feet away. With a tap of his tiptoe, he hooked the scabbard that hung from the saddle and caught it with his hand.
The three horses suddenly turned around, and with another swift flip, the man returned to his own saddle at ease.
Only moments later, the three riders had disappeared into the hazy mist of shower, no longer to be seen.
“They stole your sword!” Yuan Zixia exclaimed, her beautiful eyes widening.
Bai Yujing only replied with a grin.
“You just watch them taking away your belongings and not do anything about it?” asked Yuan Zixia.
Bai Yujing grinned again.
“I heard that in the Martial World some people hold their sword as dearly as their own lives,” Yuan Zixia bit her lips and said.
“I am not that kind of person,” replied Bai Yujing.
Yuan Zixia sighed softly as if she was slightly disappointed.
Are there young girls who didn’t adore heroes? If you fight others to death for the sake of a sword, they might think of you as a fool, or they might even shed tears for you.
But if you simply watch it happen when others take away your sword, they would undoubtedly be very disappointed.
“Do you know much about the Martial World?” Bai Yujing looked at her and grinned once again.
“Not much. But I like hearing stories and watching with my own eyes.”
“Is that why you left home all by yourself?”
Yuan Zixia nodded and began toying with the corner of her dress once again.
“Fortunately you have not seen much; otherwise you’d for sure be disappointed.”
“Why is that?”
“Things you see are never as beautiful as the stories you hear.”
Yuan Zixia wanted to ask more, but then refrained from the urge.
Right then, sound of galloping hooves suddenly filled the air again. The three riders that had zoomed by them returned.
The leading rider suddenly leaned backward toward the side and extended his arm. In the next instant, he had gently returned the scabbard back to its former place alongside the saddle.
The other two riders bowed slightly with cupped hands[6], and moments later, all three disappeared into the hazy mist yet again.
Yuan Zixia’s eyes widened from the shock and excitement.
“They brought your sword back!”
Bai Yujing grinned.
“You knew they were going to bring it back?” Yuan Zixia blinked.
Bai Yujing grinned again.
“They seemed to be afraid of you!” Yuan Zixia gazed at him, her eyes glowed with enthusiasm.
“Afraid of me?”
“Your…your sword must have killed many people!” Yuan Zixia exclaimed, her voice trembled from excitement.
“Do I look like someone who has killed before?” Bai Yujing asked.
“Not really,” Yuan Zixia had to admit.
“I didn’t think so either.”
“But why are they afraid of you?”
“Maybe they are afraid of you, not me!”
“Me? Why would they be afraid of me?” Yuan Zixia giggled.
“One smile can crumple a city, and a second smile can crumple a kingdom[7]! Even the sharpest sword is no match for a beauty’s smile,” Bai Yujing exclaimed.
Yuan Zixia’s smile became even sweeter. Eyes winking, she asked, “Are you…are you afraid of me?”
Her eyes seemed to be suddenly radiating with irresistible power, as though she had just posed a challenge for him.
“I guess you wouldn’t take no for an answer!” Bai Yujing heaved a sigh.
“If you are afraid of me, shouldn’t you do as I say?” Yuan Zixia bit her lips again.
“Naturally!” replied Bai Yujing.
“Good! Then I want you to have a drink with me,” Yuan Zixia commanded with a pretty smile blooming on her face.
“You can drink?” Bai Yujing was caught by surprise.
“Do I look like someone who can drink?”
“You do!” Bai Yujing answered with another sigh.
He had no choice but to admit, because he knew very well whether it was drinking or killing, one could never tell who’s good at it just from his or her looks.


[1] “Bai Yujing” means palace of white jade, the same words used in the first line of the poem at the beginning of chapter 1.
[2] Li Bai (701-762), a famous poet of the Tang Dynasty, the author of the poem recited here.
[3] An Qi (nicknamed Thousand-Year-Old Elder) was a Taoism philosopher during the Qin (221-207 BC) and Han (202 BC-220 AD) eras. He was said to have become a celestial after taking some potion he had made himself. He was a very important figure in history because he set the example of becoming a celestial from taking magical pills.
[4] Another poem by Li Bai and my pathetic attempt at translating it.
[5] “Zixia” means violet twilight in Chinese. In the original poem in Chinese, the phrase “mountain of Lao” was right next to the phrase “violet twilight”, hence, the wrong guess on Bai Yujing’s part.
[6] A traditional way of greeting in Chinese culture.
[7] Excerpts of a poem describing the beauty of Madam Li, sister of the poet Li Yannian, who later became the imperial concubine of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD). The story about the power of a beauty’s smile came from a real historical event. During the ruling of Emperor You of the Western Zhou Dynasty (1100-771BC), the imperial concubine Bao Si never smiled. In order to make his lover smile, Emperor You followed the advice from his minister and lit the war signal fire used to summon warlords to protect the empire from the northern barbarians. The chaos created by the many armies hurrying in did make the imperial concubine smile, but also angered the many warlords, so when the northern barbarians really invaded the capital a few years later, no warlord showed up to protect the capital despite the war signal fire. The emperor and his minister were both killed, which marked the end of the Western Zhou Dynasty.

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Video of the Day:

Jet Li demonstrating on a talk show why Tai-Chi is more than an old-men exercise.