Dragons and Jesuits for Chinese New Years.

Chinese New Year's Dragon

Chinese New Year's was on the 22nd. But since then I've seen two dragons—the first at the the Idiotarod on Saturday, and then, on Sunday, in Chinatown.

This is either 4641, or 4701 depending on how you count.

It is the spring festival.

On Chinese New Year, you are not to wash your hair, or you will wash out good luck.

Nor should you use knives or scissors, for that may cut off fortune.

You might eat jai, which contains lotus seed, ginko nut, black moss seaweed, and bamboo shoots, along with other things. The lotus seed will bring many male offspring. No tofu: the color white means death.

The Chinese calendar was improved by Jesuit missionaries in the 1600s, under official request by the emperor, most notably Father Johann Schall. He picked up on the work of Father John Schreck, who wrote to Galileo from China, asking advice on eclipses.

I took a year of Chinese in high school, but remember very little. My teacher was named Madame Deng. I was 15 and having a difficult time, and learned no pinyin. Wo benjuhli means “I am very stupid.” Because I was also a poor student of German, I mix up the two. 'Tag! Wie geht's? Hen hao, ni ne? Sehr gut, zaijian. Wo ist die tong xing lia'n? We watched many videotapes, and compared to the red brick of West Chester, PA, everything in China seemed very to be industrial gray and falling apart. I planned to become a writer, so I took the cultural revolution personally.

It is the year of the monkey. Last year was the goat. Next year, the rooster.




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


There is a Facebook group.


You will regret following me on Twitter here.


Enter your email address:

A TinyLetter Email Newsletter

About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


Syndicate: RSS1.0, RSS2.0
Links: RSS1.0, RSS2.0


© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

Tables of Contents