Night owls, code monkeys, and siege lions. 代码猴子和攻城狮。

Today I want to talk about a few words that are curiously similar between English and Chinese, and one word that is just curious.

In English, we tend to call people who are active late into the night, night owls. In parts of China, (small) owls are called 夜猫子 yèmaōzi, literally “night catty”. (I don’t know which parts of China would that be, but I guess it’s northern China.) More often, it’s figuratively used to refer to people who stay up late – the same as English night owls. The Contemporary Chinese Dictionary also offers another word for late sleepers: 夜游神, literally “nigh-roaming god”, refers people who wander at night.

英语中对晚上还在活动的人叫做 night owls 夜猫头鹰。中国某地的方言 (北方吧?) 管猫头鹰叫做 “夜猫子”,也用来指晚上很晚睡觉的人——和英文night owls 一样。对这种人,现代汉语词典记载了另外一个可以用的词:夜游神,比喻晚上游荡的人。

Also in English, you might know people who program as “code monkeys”, invoking the image of a million monkeys banging on the keyboard. (Wiktionary editor Equinox notes this word is “slang, sometimes derogatory”. Of course, it can also be used self-deprecatingly.) Chinese has the perfect translation for this phrase: 程序猿 chéngxùyúan, pronounced exactly the same as 程序员 chéngxùyúan “programmer”. However, instead of using the character 员, that marks a person’s occupation or membership, as in 驾驶员 driver, 服务员 server or 演员 actor, instead the character for apes, 猿, is used, making it “programmape”. (Well, humans are apes…)

英语里,有时也称写程序的人为 code monkeys “代码猴子”,不由得让人想起百万猴子敲打键盘的形象。(维○词典编辑 Equinox 对此词的注释是 “俚语,有时贬义”。当然也可以用来自嘲。) 中文对这一词有一个绝妙的翻译:“程序猿”,发音与“程序员”完全相同;但是将驾驶员、服务员、演员中表示职位或团体的“员”一字,换成了“猿”。

Sometimes typos also make new words: one jocular name for engineers is 攻城狮 gōngchéngshī “fortress-attacking lion” or “siege lion”, again having the exact pronunciation as 工程师 gōngchéngshī “engineer”. The story is like this: Tencent is the company that developed the hugely popular IM program QQ (800 million users) and WeChat (300 million users – about the total population of United States) among other services. One of its microblog accounts posted that one of its security guards managed to go through rounds of interviews, and became an engineer at its research institute. A rare event in itself, and a notable accomplishment indeed. But instead of 工程师, the post coined the word 攻城狮, or siege lion. And the rest is Internet history.



The Chinese National Day Golden Week, and other holiday-shifting craziness

October 1st is the National Day of the People’s Republic of China.


In the United States and Canada, statuary holidays like this tend to be on Mondays and Fridays, which creates a “long weekend”. The National Day in China, however, is a little different. The whole country do no work for a whole week! Many take vacations, so people call this the “golden week”. As a result, the tourist spots become crammed with people, all the expressways get congested from one end to another, and plane tickets sell out (I don’t know how are the trains doing). Hardly a way to take a relaxing vacation.

在美国和加拿大,这样的法定假日大多都在周一和周五,这样的安排创建了“长周末”。但中国国庆有些不一样。举国上下一周七天全部放假!许多人会去旅游,所以人们称这是“黄金周”。于是,旅游点看到挤满的人山人海,高速公路从一端堵车堵到另一端,而订机票也成了不可能的任务 (我不知道铁路那边怎么样)。完全没有放松的假日。

But the National Day is only a 3-day statuary holiday, so how is it possible that everybody takes a week-long vacation? The keyword here is “transferred holidays”: weekends that are swapped with days in the “golden week”. The State Council publishes a notice every year (like this one for 2014), deciding which rest days are swapped with which working days. Then add another weekend that would fall inside the golden week, and tada! You get a 7-day holiday.

但国庆法定只放三天假,怎么会所有人连休七天呢?这里的关键字是 “调休”:用平常的周末,与黄金周中的工作日对调。国务院每年会发布一份通知,决定哪些休息天与工作日对调。再加上黄金周里本来就有的周末,连休七天的假期就这么产生了!

The drawback is of course, you still need to work these two days transferred out. Before 2014, that means working 7 days in a row. For 2014, the days are shifted from a week before and a week after, so only two weeks of working 6 days in a row.


The same holiday transfer is also applied to the Spring Festival, which is like Christmas in that it’s a traditional time for family gatherings; applied to a country that has as many people as China, this results in even bigger traffic every year. Before 2007 this is also applied to the International Labor Day on May the 1st; after 2007, Labor Day is no longer a 7-day holiday. Instead, three traditional Chinese holidays are now designated as new statuary holidays (Qingming, Dragon Boat, and Mid-Autumn festivals). For 2014, all three fall between Friday and Monday, making these also “long weekends”.

调休不止在国庆,也对春节使用;春节有些像圣诞节,两个都算是传统的合家团聚的节日。对于有中国这样人口众多的国家,其结果就是春运。2007 年之前,在五一国际劳动节也调休 (美国、加拿大的劳动节在九月份)。2007 年之后,五一不再休整周,而将清明、端午和中秋,设成新的法定假日。2014 年,这三个节日都在周五和周一之间,中国也有了自己的 “长周末”。

In the three holidays, the Dragon Boat festival and the Mid-Autumn festival are based on the traditional Chinese calendar, in which every month is 30 days; so the dates on the Gregorian calendar fluctuates each year. (Instead of leap days, the traditional calendar has leap months.) But the Qingming festival is always April 4th or April 5th; this is because it’s observed 15 days after the Spring Equinox, and the Gregorian calendar is designed to track the seasons, and the Spring Equinox in particular very accurately.

这三个假日中,端午和中秋的日期都是根据传统农历的;农历每个月都是30天,于是在格里高利历 (公历) 上的日期每年都有变化。但清明每年都是四月4日或四月5日,原因是清明总是在春分后15天,而格里高利历设计上是准确跟踪季节变化的,特别是每年春分的日期。

New glasses!

Got new glasses yesterday. They are -1.75, Nearly the same prescription as my last pair of glasses, which are -1.50 and -1.75, but without astigmatism correction this time.


The new frame (okay, it’s one of these “frameless” styles) is harder than the old one, which should stop the glass from deforming and sliding off my nose. The lens are Canon-branded asphrical lens, and are kind of pricey. Hopefully they would last a while, as long as I remember donning and doffing with both hands.


Then after picking up the glasses we went to Nici. They are a German brand of plushies, where I got my fox pencil case. They also have their own take on My Little Pony G4 plushies. And very adorable snow leopard slippers and messenger bags, although the bags aren’t very practical. Then to IKEA to see chairs. Ended up buying a bunch of unrelated stuff of course, including a pepper grinder.

拿完眼镜我们去了 Nici 绒毛玩具店,那里还有他们自己设计的 MLP 4代的玩具,以及很可爱的雪豹拖鞋和单肩包,虽然单肩包并不实用。接下来去宜家看床垫和椅子,当然最后买了一堆不相关的东西,包括胡椒磨。

I wanted to write something more substantial, but unfortunately going through IKEA took the whole afternoon, so that’s all from me this week :<


Back in Ottawa… but not for long.

Hey everyone,

After being in Shanghai for the summer, I’ve just arrived in Ottawa last Friday.

But I won’t be staying for long this time, it would only be a little more than two weeks as I clean up the apartment for sub-letting.

I’ll be living in Shanghai for the next year. Then I would come back to Canada, hopefully to finish my degree. I wouldn’t have much free time outside of Saturdays, and probably not even then.

For now though, I’m in Ottawa, and very much intend to stop by at the Thursday meets and say hi to everybody! If you don’t live in Ottawa, add me on Skype/Steam/Twitter/WeChat. Keep in touch!

Finally got taxes done.

Whew. That took a while.

Mostly because I haven’t filed taxes for 2010, 2011 and 2012 as well, so I’d have to be filing 4 years of taxes at once. But, the tax situation for these years are simple, and I had help. So it was very quick.

Filling out taxes wasn’t hard, almost quite boring, but there is a lot of detail. I keep finding mistakes when I checked and checked again.

The situation for 2013 was more complicated because I had to file for CPP and QPP refunds. Altogether it took a couple of hours to get all the forms done.

Then I had to go to school and print things out. The tax forms have scripts in them, which Evince didn’t run, so the numbers didn’t line up properly, and I thought that simply opening them in Adobe Reader would fix that. Turns out that Adobe Reader sees the files were edited on a different computer and disabled editing (bad Adobe!). Had to re-type everything in.

In total the taxes for 4 years ended up about 64 pages. Not too bad I guess.