Friday, February 29, 2008

The Last Lecture on Life

"Few things are better than fulfilling a childhood dream. It satisfies expectations, paints reality on the canvas of imagination and suggests the limits of human potential.” So writes Bill Maxwell, a regular contributor to St. Pete Times' Opinion Section under the heading “When wit was in style” on Feb 28, 2007.

It so happened that I had just watched a video on the same topic, but this time given by an apparently dying man, Randy Pausch.

You see, Randy is a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. His doctor has told him (on Aug 15, 2007) that he has likely 3-6 months to live.

So he was reprising his last lecture already given at CMU last September at the Oprah Winfrey Show as captured in the video, just over 10 minutes long. And our friend who alerted us to the video has this to say:

I found this message particularly inspiring. This is lecture on life from a professor with truly remarkable insight on life, goals, etc. It's about 10 minutes long and one of the best uses of that time that anyone will find.”

What I saw on the video is every bit an academic, but seemingly in the prime of health, projecting confidence and enthusiasm. None of the moroseness or stoicism that we tend to associate with the terminally ill. In fact, he did push-ups on the floor mixed up with hand clapping just to prove his point that right then he might be healthier than a majority of the audience.

And his talk, on how he realized his childhood dreams, conjured up the same vivacious personality, so full of life and wit. Interspersed with slides, he showed the audience that since young he always has a smiling disposition, great parents who enjoy life to the fullest (one of the slides shows his Mon in a knock-knock car and another, his Dad riding the roller coaster on his 80th birthday and winning a huge stuff toy, a prowess he shares with his son as seen from the image above taken from here).

One of his childhood dreams was to play in the National Football League, but he got more out of not being able to play in the NFL than he would have if he had played. But he did realize one of his other dreams of becoming a Disneyland Imagineer, putting his knowledge in the fascinating field of virtual reality to good use such as the Aladdin project.

Some of his words of gem include:

a) Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted.

b) The karma will take care of itself. And the dreams will come to you.

c) Apologize properly, by saying all of the three-parter: I'm sorry. It's my fault. How do I make it right? [So often we miss out the last part, or even the second part, out of pride, thereby aggravating an already deteriorated situation.]

d) Show gratitude.

e) Don't complain. Just work harder.

Wishing to learn more about this remarkable person, I googled him and landed on his webpage at CMU where I first read the transcript of his full last lecture delivered at CMU on Sep 18, 2007. Then I watched a video of his entire talk, the whole 76 minutes and 26 seconds of it, without break. I would have to say that was even more inspiring, more moving, exactly as what the webpage says:

"With equal parts humor and heart, Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch recently delivered a one-of-a-kind university lecture that moved an overflow crowd at Carnegie Mellon - and is now moving audiences around the globe.”

Here he expanded (or rather the first 11-minute video condensed his original lecture) many of the episodes he barely touched on in the first video because of time limitations. I had a hilarious time and more important, had learned some valuable lessons in life.

I recommend everyone to watch the full length feature. I can assure you that it would be the best present you have ever given yourself. It's that good. The hits on the You Tube video is a staggering more than 400,000.

Now blogging today has its own special significance. Because I have to wait for another four years to blog on the same day. It's of course Feb 29, the leap day that occurs every four years. And this morning I read an email on a discussion forum about this guy retiring today, leaping out of his work on a leap day (see the pun?) because he would have to wait for another four years to do it on the same day. For the record, I retired on Feb 1, in the previous leap year because the thought never crossed my mind.

As a note, Randy made it through Feb 15, exactly 6 months after the day his doctor broke the news of his likely shortened life to him. Let's all wish him success in getting through this ordeal.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

From Overheating to Maintaining Road-worthiness

This is the concluding part of the “overheating” episode that started here. As the episode developed, I returned to the service center two days later, after being assured that the part had arrived. The driving with a leaked coolant compartment during the intervening days went without any hitch, under my watchful eyes.

After dutifully depositing my minivan at the Toyota service center by Fletcher around 7am , I was driven to my work place downtown on the shuttle service, which happened to be a newer version of Toyota Sienna. The driver is a lady who has just moved from Missouri a year ago. With me was another elderly lady customer, seated in front, who works at the downtown Federal building.

Mindful of the morning rush, the lady driver, Lisa, decided to take the local route via Florida and Tampa. Along the way, she engaged us in idle talks, sort of breaking the ice thing. Before long we reached our destinations, the elderly lady's before me. Before parting, Lisa took down my work address to pick me up after work around 5.00pm.

Right on the dot, she called my cell at 5.00pm, having parked behind my office where she let me off in the morning. She was to pick up two more customers, but both the latter two were much closer to the service center. So for a majority of the journey she had nobody else to interact except me.

On my question regarding the largest difference between where she was and where she is now, she said without hesitation: people. We at Tampa are more friendly. Being a divorcee in her mid forties, perhaps she has had a less than memorable sojourn in the Show Me state. In return, I admitted that I have never been to Missouri, but its Gateway Arch at St. Louis, touted to be the tallest national monument in the United States at 630 feet, certainly precedes its name.

This image of the famous Gateway Arch at St. Louis, taken from here, shows the majestic rise of this engineering wonder reaching for the sky reminiscent of the Stargate movie. Our next tourist destination perhaps, I dream on.

Then the conversation turned to Tampa attractions, one of which is the recently concluded Gasparilla parade, a re-enactment of the the taking of the City of Tampa by the marauding pirates who sailed upstream into Hillsborough Bay in an armada. She had a blast, being invited to be on one of the ships taking part in the pirate invasion, while our last two trips there were on solid ground along Bayshore Boulevard.

Because of the evening rush traffic (she chose to drive on the Interstate this time, though she did defer to me on the best route and I might have nudged her toward the Interstate) and the two detours, we were at the service center way past 6pm.

Other than having to take one hour off from my work schedule for the day (here PTO, for Personal Time Off that I just learned not too long ago, replacing vacation/sick leaves, can be taken in hour increments, which is flexible enough for unavoidable errands to be run on weekdays. The flip side here is that there is no distinction between vacation and sick leaves, both are lumped together as part of employees' entitlements. Well, you take what you are dealt with and work with it. Isn't that what life is all about, or making a life is all about? But I digress), my wallet had also gone thinner, figuratively as it actually stayed the same because the repair bill was transacted via the ubiquitous plastic card. Recall the famous refrain, Don't leave home without it?

But in return, I have peace of mind, knowing that the car has just been given a new lease of life. As usual, the repair has gone beyond the original problem of overheating that precipitated the visit in the first place. Always trust the mechanic to unearth other chronic mechanical problems when given the chance, ostensibly for the road-worthiness of one's car.

In my case, there were the battery failing the load test (no wonder the digital display of the car's Radio/Compact CD was giving jumbled words , like those neon light advertisements with missing letters or missing parts of letters), which means a brand new one; cracked hose tubing, that may just open up in the most inopportune moment, the driver marooned in the middle of nowhere; and something to do with the electronic ignition, misfiring the ignition sequence in the cylinders perhaps, which will surely show up in the gas (short for gasoline) consumption.

And there were several other “ailments” that had shown up in the diagnostics as well. But mercifully, those can await my next scheduled maintenance service that is due in another month's time or so, Deborah (the lady at the service center counter) assured me, displaying empathy with the potentially drained state of my financial wherewithal.

No wonder some customers have likened the visit to a car clinic as would to a dental clinic: you will never know what awaits you. OK, perhaps that is my own analogy. But you get the point.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Chai Found Revisited

We learned of this year's Chai Found Music Workshop at USF from a local monthly magazine catering to the local Asian community, The Asia Trend Magazine. Since we were nicely serenaded by the same group a year ago (having made the trip from South Tampa then), we filled the event on our working calendar and waited for the day to arrive. And it did, on Tuesday. This time it was a short drive from our home just across USF, and the party, augmented by one, CE (a pleasant surprise indeed).

Before the evening, I got caught in a traffic snarl, the gridlock along the Interstate precipitated by the evening downpour. I was debating whether to take the local road but decided to stick to my usual route. But I would not be so sure the next time around when it pours.

Anyway, I still had time for dinner, a home-cooked one, and arrived at the venue, Music Recital Hall in USF, with some minutes to spare. I actually spent about 15 minutes before that searching for the location on the Internet because the USF campus map that I have does not indicate the venue; perhaps the map only shows buildings and this Music Recital Hall is a facility in one of the buildings.

I remember last year it was held at the Fine Arts Building but could not recall whether the theater that we were in was called the Music Recital Hall. Googling it only yielded the USF address along Fowler. I told wify that we just had to try our luck at the same place and hope for the best. Then drilling deeper while Internet sleuthing, I found a reference to a room, FAH101, FAH being the acronym for Fines Arts. So, it is the same place as last year. Wonder why the organizer did not bother to put FAH101 in parentheses after the venue, which would have saved me some anxious moments.

I brought my pocket-sized camera along, but heeded the answer from the lady in the ticket booth when I sought confirmation that there was to be no photography . It was a nearly packed house, and the same troupe as last year marched on to the stage, all six of them, resplendent in traditional Chinese garb. Each played on one different traditional Chinese instrument: erhu (spike fiddle), dizi (bamboo flutes), pipa (Chinese lute), yangqin (hammered dulcimer), guzheng (zither), except for one lady who played two: daruan (bass banjo) and liugin (piccolo lute).

The group consists of two gentlemen and four ladies, shown here in a picture scanned from the program book. The man on the right is Mr. Huang Chen-Ming, the director who plays the erhu with gay abandon. And Mr. Wu Chung-Hsien, the flute player, comes equipped with a bagful of flutes by his side on stage. The lady sitting on the left is Ms. Liang Yen-Ping on double duty with the Daruan (shown here) and liuqin. The lady next to her is Ms. Lin Hui-Kuan, who plays the pipa. The two ladies standing from left are Ms. Lin I-Hsien, holding the guzheng, easily the largest piece of the instrument, and Ms. Lee Shu-Fen, her hands resting on the yangqin.

Themed A Merger of Tradition and Modernism, two of the ten performances also featured a mix with western instruments, a bass clarinet paired with liuqin, and another featuring a family of percussion instruments: drums, cymbal, and vibraphone (I actually looked this up after the fact) with pipa. These two “merged” compositions are the works of USF Music faculties. I can only describe them to be bold attempts that sounded contrived, lacking harmony, to my untrained ears.

If you click on the image, you would be able to see the two
merged" compositions, being the last two before the intermission. I think it's easy to tell which one refers to the earthquake-inspired composition as described next.

Perhaps it is understandable, I mean the apparent lack of harmony, for the second composition, which according to the preamble given by the faculty member concerned, was to capture the chaotic moment, shattered peace, and the subsequent reconstruction effort in the aftermath of the 1999 earthquake in Taiwan. The pipa rendition certainly played to the gallery, emitting discordant notes of urgency and pending disaster, reminiscent of similar moments of music accompaniment in Chinese movies portending and symbolizing looming danger. But the percussionist deserves credit too for his spontaneous display of juggling different sticks and striking different surfaces seemingly at random to the extent that papers (his music score notes actually) were sent airborne. I'm sure some in the audience must have found it hard to suppress a chuckle or two in what was supposed to be a serious music appreciation session.

The remaining eight performances were by the troupe themselves, comprising Taiwanese folk songs and sizhu (literally silk and bamboo) music. I have to admit that they are all beyond my repertoire of Chinese music, which is admittedly a rather narrow one. Somehow it's that much harder to be enthused by music that one is unfamiliar with. Put in others words, one needs to grow into a song by listening to it a couple of times. Then immersion will truly be the case.

The highlight of the event, to me, was the encore performance, which came after the audience were up on their feet accompanied by thunderous applause. Why? Because I know the song. It's an oldie that I have heard numerous times growing up. My English translation of the name of the Chinese song is The Night Brings the Fragrance, but it is really a name of a flower that emits scent at night.

That was our second attendance at the Chai Found Music Workshop, which was every bit as enjoyable as the first one, our non-familiarity with the music of the night notwithstanding. And we await the opportunity for a three-peat come next year.
Since I was mindful of the dispensation against photography, I did the next best thing: getting one from the website of Chai Found Music Workshop, surely of much better quality than my amaterish work would have been should it be the case.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

It all started with over-heating ...

Normally I don't pay attention to the temperature gage in the car while driving. And that habit has not caused any undue dent in my wallet due to an overheated engine. Then last Monday when coming home from work, my eyes sort of just glanced at the dashboard to make sure that I wasn't moving too fast along Fowler, and my peripheral vision caught the upward pointing temperature indicator, seemingly inching toward the big red “H” (for hot). Its normal position is a horizontal one between C (for cold) and H, at 3 o'clock.

I was only another 2 miles or so from home. But after debating for a while at a red light, prudence got the better of me and I drove into the parking lot of CVS next to the traffic junction. After calling in to AAA for a towing service to home (it was past 7pm and too late to be towed to a Toyota Service Center which I intended to do the next morning), I released the latch at the bonnet to lift up the top to help cool down the engine. The cap and the rubber tubing felt hot, but no sound of sizzling steam. I had an urge to open up the cap but heeded the warning thereon not to open it when the engine is hot.

But that did not stop my diagnostic mission, armed with more than 30 years of driving experience that included a few run-ins with radiator and fan belt problems. I did not detect any leakage from the radiator, but noticed that the fans did not turn when I started the engine (I kind of recall that the fans are activated on a time delay switch or a thermostat control).

The fact that no leakage was detected led to my conclusion that the radiator was probably still full, and the overly high temperature could be due to some kind of electrical fault that stalled the fans. I rationalized further that if the engine had cooled down somewhat, then I should have a legitimate shot at a two-minute dash (well-timed that the 5 traffic lights along the way are all green, with a stroke of luck) for home.

By then more than half an hour has passed and the tow truck had yet to show up (the AAA lady promised help within an hour but she was silent on what recourse I could have should the tow truck fail to materialize. Incidentally, she told me that as part of my AAA basic membership, I'm entitled to a free 5-mile towing assistance to which I answered confidently, no problem, since I know the area territory well and am pretty sure that it is definitely within the distance.)

Being sure that my logical deduction was foolproof, I put my plan to the test, but not before I touched the rubber tubing again and felt that indeed it had cooled down somewhat. I figured that I might save a few seconds of cooling by switching off the engine at the traffic lights, a rather dumb move on hindsight. I had one eye on the road, and the other on the ever-inching up temperature indicator on the dashboard.

And I did switch off the engine at the last traffic light, knowing that the left turn signal there would take a while to turn green from my experience. And I nearly panicked when the engine just gave a soft thud when I turned on the ignition. Another turn, another soft thud. What the ... Did the car just give up on me because I decided to push it a bit? Then I realized that the car is an automatic automobile, meaning that the engine will only start when the stick is in the park position, a safety feature that may bring chagrin to one used to driving the “stick shift”. Just an indication of how simple maneuvers can elude us in a moment of agitation.

After turning into the parking lot in front of my apartment, and noticing that the temperature indicator was at the two o'clock position, I called AAA to cancel my service request, saving the free towing service for another day.

Having learned my judgment on the previous night to be well-founded, I drove again next morning to the nearby Toyota Service Center, another two-minute's drive. This was my first trip to the Toyota of Tampa dealer on Fletcher since the previous service of my Siena has always been handled by Stadium Toyota where I bought the minivan from on Dale Mabry. But that is a good 12 miles away and what with the morning rush hour, it would certainly be stretching a bit if I were to destine for it.

The lady who greeted me at the counter, Deborah (it says on the counter), was very courteous and helpful, and offered several other alternatives of the overheating problem that I had not thought before: faulty water pump, leaking coolant storage. Then she gave me an upfront estimate of $89, should those be the problems. Throw in a 10% discount for AAA membership (another fringe benefit in addition to free roadside assistance). I like this practice of giving the customers a kind of ceiling repair bill, helping to overcome the anxiety of chalking a huge cost.

I waited for the next half hour at the waiting lounge while the mechanics went over my car, possibly with a fine toothed comb.

The sofa seats were comfortable, not too crowded, arranged to face a large screen thin TV that displayed very clear image (HDTV?). It was on Fox News Channel and the hosts were talking about the Super Tuesday of the twin-track race for the presidential nominees from the Republican and Democrats parties. The sound volume was set at an unobtrusive level, just loud enough to be heard from the furthest seats away.

I had actually started reading a book that I had brought along, a habit cultivated in anticipation of the long wait, having undergone numerous such occasions including wify's shopping stints (note that I did not say sprees, meaning such outings are well-controlled and not impulsively long-drawn affairs) as dutiful husbands do. The book was The Power of Kindness by Piero Ferrucci (Penguin Group, 2007). But it lasted till the Preface by His Holiness the Dalai Lama only before I was drawn to the intrigue of the election heat unfolding on the TV. The segment was called You Decide 2008 with random interviews with various people including those on the street. Occasionally, there were news flashes on the results of various national polls, each attempting to dissect the conventional wisdoms of the day in an effort to distill the latest on who the front-runners and the laggards are.

I don't normally follow these political developments consciously, save when I happen to be in the right place at the right time, and in the right mood. I guess that Tuesday morning everything just kind of conspired to making me watch the TV broadcast. I recall watching on C-Span, another random event when I was channel-surfing, last Sunday that Maria Shriver, Caroline Kennedy, Oprah Winfrey were there on stage at the UCLA campus, toasting Michelle Obama. Then Maria had just waltzed up to the stage, her natural face literally lit up when talking about women exercising independent choice, an apparent departure from her Republican husband, Arnold, the action hero-turned Governor of California who has endorsed John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, just days before.

Then on the same day, the St. Pete Times published a letter endorsing Obama by the US Nobel Laureate in Literature, Toni Morrison. In her letter to the Illinois Senator, she writes:

"In thinking carefully about the strengths of the candidates, I stunned myself when I came to the following conclusion: that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don't see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom.”

Now that's wisdom perhaps in the conventional sense that is often found wanting in politicians, but is an endearing, and often defining, quality in a statesman. Often a statesman seen as so during the runup to the political office can quickly transform into a politician where incumbency demands expediency, often politically motivated, and one that trumps everything else, including those that wisdom would dictate. Power really corrupts, and the absolutes ones, absolutely. I just hope her glowing accolades are not misplaced. And that's as much of my two cents worth of political astuteness that I would like to dispense.

Another newsbit was that there are six millions eligible voters from overseas. That reminded me of my own status in the coming general election in Malaysia this year. That I need to find out about absentee voting.

Anyway, back to the Toyota Service Center. It also provides free shuttle service to downtown in addition to complimentary coffee. I wonder whether these are also the general fare in Malaysia, which I did not avail of when I was there.

Then Deborah came back with some good news. Apparently there was a leak from the coolant piping near the chassis that is part of warranty, which means I do not have to pay for the part. But the part would only arrive after tomorrow. But she assured me that the technician had topped up the coolant container and that it being a slow leak, it would tide me over for at least a couple of days' of driving.

Thus assured, I left the Toyota Service Center, with a promise to return two days' later for the replacement. And that should be good for another blog.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

There are Anniversaries, then there are Anniversaries

Last month has two days of special significance in my most recent move to US, to work. The previous trips, while pleasant, were for academic pursuits and work-related business. First is January 24, the 4th anniversary of our touchdown on US soils, at O'Hara Airport, Chicago, to be exact. Four of us (together with wify, WT and CE) were on an UA flight from Singapore, destined for Tampa.

We still remember we were all fatigued and excited at the same time, fatigued because of the long flight, an almost 24-hr flight (air time only) starting from Kuala Lumpur the day before, and excited at the prospect of fitting in with a new work/living/studying environment, for me/wify/children in that order. We were received by my colleague at the Tampa International Airport, and then driven to the rented apartment that we would put up for the next two weeks.

The next few days were hectic, adjusting to the new work environment, registering the children at the nearest high school (we had actually selected the school for them through Internet while still in Malaysia, complete with its enrollment, student mix, academic performance, and school rating, e.g., blue ribbon panel), opening bank accounts, shopping for a car (we had decided to settle on Toyota since we have had favorable experience with the make back home), and perhaps the most exhaustive of all, hunting for a new apartment (the first two weeks' rental was on my employer). Fortunately, all started well and ended well, and soon everyone settled in to the new routine, thanks largely to the steady hands of wify whose steadfast stewardship and steering took a lot out of the pressure of relocation.

I started work on January 27, 2004, another fourth anniversary that has just passed. I was taken to my room, and introduced to my colleagues. The first few days was spent on getting up to speed with the technical side of my job: the available numerical modeling facility and capability and background information gleaned from previous work reports. Alongside those were the employment related details such as signing up for the various health and retirement benefits offered by my employer.

My humble beginning, my mouth-to-mouth smile, though partly for the benefit of posing for the camera, says it all. I still have the same room today with a great view to the outside world, except the wall is now adorned with pictures and my degrees, a popular method of displaying one's credentials. And the table may be less cluttered, primarily because I'm making better use of the room's space, like under the table for one, for completed projects. Oh yes, I have a new computer last year with improved number crunching capability, complete with a flat screen monitor to boot.

Those periods of initial adjustment may seem like a distant memory now, but on reflection, my family and I do deserve a pat on our backs for making the transition so uneventful as if we had never left home, except for one exception, a huge one: separation from family back home. In this regard, I seem to have emerged the least perturbed, understandably so because both my parents have passed away and I am the youngest in the family, save for a younger sister who already has her own family. Therefore while I still have sibling ties till today, we have grown accustomed to living apart except for some occasional phone calls for updates and the annual Chinese New Year reunion.

In times, the children also made their own friends in schools, the pressure of school works perhaps obviating the luxury of reminiscing. That leaves wify. After all what is left to do after all the household chores are done other than solitude. Mind you on weekdays we left for work/school at 7.00am and the children reached home after 3pm and me, usually 6pm. And in solitude, the mind becomes a fertile ground for emotional attachment, longing for companionship, for the touch of loved ones.

Being the eldest and with both parents still around then, wify has a much stronger tie to loved ones back home, and she has found the adjustment to be the toughest, easing off only on the past year or so. They say time heals. While there may be some truth to that in wify's case, I think a more plausible explanation is her taking to Buddhism, a more complete embrace than ever before. She has taken the Buddha's teachings to heart, realizing more acutely the meaning of impermanence, of non-attachment, while preserving the values that she has long cherished: filial piety, sibling affection, and compassion.

In the past four years, we have made new friends, reached new milestones, and delved deeper into the Buddhist worldview. We still have the same car since day 1, no obvious sign requiring major overhaul after clocking more than 40,000 miles, and we have moved only once. That also because we moved into our newly bought house, our very first non-movable asset acquisition.

The children are now in the next phase of their lives: college. And WT is now staying at home away from home, in a university dorm at UF. CE still lives with us, by design. You know how parents would like to keep their children close by as long as circumstances permit. The location of our home, just across from her college, is also by design. Some things in life just have to be planned, and then executed the best way we can.

WJ in Malaysia and CY in Oregon have been on their own for some time now, and coping well. And in times to come, it would be WT's and CE's turns. We have full confidence that they would handle the transition as ably as they can when the time comes, just like their elder siblings, and their parents before them.

Friday, February 01, 2008

A Crimson River Flowing Full

It's not often that I have to depend on wify's works to blog, not to say that I don't enjoy doing that, since she already has her own virtual space. But her work here, specifically her Chinese calligraphy, bears special significance to me and my late father-in-law.

Let me start from the beginning, if I may. Wify visited her friend, Linda, at her home not too long ago. There she learned that Linda's father is an accomplished Chinese artist and calligrapher. One of Linda's collections is a calligraphy book on the famous poem by Ye Fei, a general who lived during the Sung Dynasty and is well-known for his unstinting loyalty to the then Emperor, loosely translated as The Crimson River Flowing Full, in six traditional Chinese fonts, or calligraphy styles to be precise.

Linda was kind enough to lend her the calligraphy book, and wify wrote up the entire poem by mimicking the brush strokes of a particular style, the Li Shu (Clerical Style) with its distinctive bird tail ending for horizontal strokes.

Now before I present you with her calligraphy, perhaps I should touch a bit on my and my late father-in-law's connection with this historical Chinese icon and his poem.

As a student in a Chinese primary school back home, I had studied the courageous feats of Ye Fei in the history book. I remember that when young, Ye Fei's mother had the four Chinese characters that forms an idiom, meaning displaying unwavering patriotism to sacrifice for the country, inscribed on his back. And my parents had the good sense to use one of the four characters, patriotism/loyalty, in my given name. And that is my modest claim to the patriotic hero, Ye Fei, no matter how tenuous it may seem.

My late father-in-law's connection is more personl. He loved the poem very much. And that was the song that accompanied his funeral procession on the last leg of his journey on this earth.

In a nutshell, the poem articulates Ye Fei's patriotism in safeguarding the land of the country from external threats, vowing to defeat them in the most decisive way, and his admonishment to others not to waste their prime years and regret in futility in their old age.

Here then is The Crimson River Flowing Full, in Lishu, by wify (the verses are to be read from top to bottom from right to left in descending order of the 4-character-high panels):