Three Cups of Tea

14 05 2010

I just finished reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson.

Greg is a climber who failed at climbing the second tallest mountain in the world, K2 in Pakistan, and on the way back down he discovered a town where the children go to school outside in a courtyard, most of the time with no teacher because they have to share her with another town.

He pledges to get them a school. And he does. Then he brings more schools to Pakistan and then to Afghanistan. At one point he attends something that teaches him that the best way to improve life in a community is to educate the girls, because they will usually reinvest their education in their world.

After finishing the book (maybe an hour ago), I went on the site to find out what has been happening since the book was written. It appears that work has continued and there are now several schools in Afghanistan as well. But what caught my eye the most was the link that brought me to this video:

A new word

13 05 2010

I was driving to work today and I spotted the following kanji on a flag: 山火事注意

I knew all the kanji, but not what they meant together. The last two (注意 – Chuui) mean caution and are currently my favorite kanji because I can read them and find them everywhere*. The three before them mean: mountain (山), fire (火), and thing (事). So be cautious of mountain fire things?

While I liked that translation, I was quite sure it was wrong and very much wanted to know what they had paired with my favorite kanji.

Giving it my own translation seemed to work well because when I made it to the office and sat down at a computer, I was able to look it up. I typed in the readings for all of those things to get each kanji within the word (it’s like a compound word in English – textbook, crossroad, backpack, etc).

What did it say? According to, it means brushfire. So be cautious of brushfires. Makes sense.

Today I learned a new word and all because I gave it some crazy translation to remember it long enough to get to a dictionary to find it. Both definitions are now stuck in my head.

Guess what happened on the way home from work this time? That’s right, I found it on several more signs, but I previously hadn’t known what it was.

I like learning new words.

*Everywhere in this case includes (but is not limited to): my shower door handle, my toilet seat, my microwave, my stove, train doors, road signs and warning labels. It’s fun because I see these two hard kanji that I’d probably make a mess of if I tried to write them and I can read them!