Why I Need Glasses, At Least Tonight


A million years ago--OK, 16 or so months ago--I posted a picture of the reading glasses I finally had to get, because right on schedule, I began developing mild presbyopia in my early 40s. I like my glasses OK and wear them when I remember to put them on, which isn't that often. I keep them by my bed, so about the only time I remember to wear them is when I read before I (try to) go to sleep.

But tonight I tried to read something and there was just no freakin' way I could do it without glasses. Here's a photo of what I was trying to read:


My fingers mark the particular character I was looking for. Just for the sake of scale, here's another photo, including not only the book but my cat, so you can see how tiny the text actually is:


Looking up a character in an Chinese-English dictionary was always a challenge, particularly with older dictionaries in Taiwan, because to use them you had to know one of three things: 1) what the character's radical is (sometimes hard to determine even if you're thoroughly literate, and I never was--I was merely fluent), or 2) how to "spell" it with bo-po-mo-fo, a system I never mastered, or 3) how it is romanized in the wacky Wade-Giles system of romanization (which I didn't learn--at the MTC, we only learned Yale, which, despite being the easiest system for actually learning to pronounce Mandarin, is not the most popular system).

It was always an adventure to find a character even when I could read the tiny print of the dictionary, but now, well, it's quite the challenge. I finally found the character I needed, using a bo-po-mo-fo chart to help me sound out the phonetics of the character. It's this, ku, meaning suffering, bitterness, pain, a word I know well from my mission, because we were always being admonished to be "sying ku," to "toil bitterly."

Just thought I'd share.


It's interesting that the character for pain is such a symmetrical form.

Might I suggest trying Braille? It's probably larger......;-)

Mr. Nighttime. (Who just got his own pair of bifocals last year...Oh the pain, the pain.....)

I think you made a wise choice when you removed your cat from the book. I always find it difficult to decipher characters when they are obscured by tail...

Toil on.

It's interesting that the character for pain is such a symmetrical form.

That is an interesting observation, Juti, one that never occurred to me. Whereas the character for love is kind of a mess.

Hi Mr. Nighttime--Chinese Braille would indeed probably be bigger, but I'd have to buy the books, and I bet the cost would be proportionally greater too....

I always find it difficult to decipher characters when they are obscured by tail...

I think that's true for most of us. Of course, some characters have tail that obscures things more than some other characters do--I've known a few characters' whose tail is ALWAYS getting in the way of clear thought and vision.

A very wise point, SO. Thank you.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on January 21, 2008 9:21 PM.

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