Bucket List Adventures: Learning to Write Mandarin

I love languages. My grandfather spoke multiple languages and I was always fascinated by languages because of that.  Granted, I am not fluent in a second language but I do like learning the basics of any language and find it fun.   I also like seeing how my language improves slowly over time.

I am calling this a bucket list adventure because I am just starting on this bucket list goal and I have a very long way to go, plus I am all about teaching you as I learn and hopefully you can gain some knowledge from my mishaps.

That all being said, I have decided to tackle Mandarin.  At least writing.  I have always thought the Chinese symbols were fun and would be fun to learn.   I decided to start with numbers.  Numbers 1-50 to be exact.

Let me just say… I can assure you it isn’t that hard.  I have not tried learning to speak the language but writing it, is a lot of fun.    Once I learned the first 50 it was pretty easy to learn 51-100.  Cause when it comes to Chinese  numbers there is a pattern and it makes learning them quite easy.  Yes I made flash cards, and ran through them every single night.  I realized that regular practice is the only way I am going to get fluent.

I am not sure how numbers will really help me in Chengdu but you have to start somewhere.

SO what am I tackling this month?

The First 100 Chinese Characters


I ordered this book because after reading reviews it appears that most of the characters start with these 100 characters and build so I figured this is likely my best next step.  I also liked the work book style so I could work on this for a 20-30 minutes every night.

I can’t wait to see how much my ability might improve when I go to Chengdu in February, if at all.  When I was in Beijing I couldn’t understand anything, it will be fun to see if that changes.

Can you read or write Mandarin? If so what are you tips?


Teach English Abroad: Change Your Life, Make Friends, and Travel the World by Gregory Forster

Summary: Have you ever thought about teaching English abroad?

If you choose to do so you can change your life, meeting amazing people you never knew existed and travel around the world. All while earning enough money to make a pretty good living. This book focuses on the process of teaching English abroad from the time you make the decision to do so until the time you actually leave your home country and go teach. This period of the process is by far the hardest and the easiest period to talk yourself out of doing it all together. I aim to help you through that process and make sure that you go through with it.

I have been teaching English in South East Asia for the past few years and I love it. This book is about teaching anywhere in the world but the majority of the information is about SE Asia.

If you have always wanted to but never seriously considered teaching abroad I hope you read this book and decide to actually do it.


My Review:  “The hardest part about the process of teaching English abroad is the initial decision to o through with it”

The moment I read this line I knew this book was going to be very honest, short, sweet and to the point.  That is the hardest part about making a decision like this except the boredom from saving money so you can actually leave.

The author is very clear that it is not a book about how to teach English, but to help you make a decision to go through with the decision.

Each chapter is broken into questions which  loved simply because they are questions I have asked myself since making this decision or toying with this decision.

I like the author broke down sections of the world and gave you an idea of what your expectations should be.   The author also broke down the different types of jobs you can find while abroad.

This was a very short informative book that should be on your must read list if you are wanting or even contemplating teaching abroad.

“How do you teach if you don’t speak the local language”

Since I announced this is the number one question I have been asked.  I have been asked “Do you even speak Chinese”  and “How are they going to understand you if you don’t speak Chinese”   It hasn’t been hateful I think my dad was pretty curious and I think my friend really wanted to know.   The response in this chapter is perfect and exactly how I will handle it from now on.

Such a great short book that I highly recommend reading.

Jess, Rising (Guardians of Salt Creek #1) by D.M. Guay + #GIVEAWAY

Jess, Rising (Guardians of Salt Creek #1)
by D.M. Guay
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy
Release Date: October 1st 2017

Summary from Goodreads:

Magic. Loves. Lies. Betrayal — High school is murder. 

Seventeen-year-old Jess Flowers got more than she bargained for when she moved to Salt Creek, a podunk nowhere town with a dangerous secret. In Salt Creek, people aren’t what they seem, and it’s contagious. Jess is changing into something dark, something powerful, something more than human. 

Will it be enough? A super-charged killer is closing in. She sees him in visions, slaughtering the helpless with fire and lightning, and she’s next on the kill list. Gorgeous outcast Billy Combs is the only one willing to help her, but his troubled past may be darker than he’s let on.

Can she tame the mysterious powers surging within her and identify the killer before it’s her turn to die? Murder, lies, betrayal and supernatural powers collide in this dark YA love story for fans of Beautiful Creatures, Twilight, and Vampire Diaries. 

Winner, 2016 Romance Writers of America Joyce Henderson Contest for Young Adult romance. (Under its working title, Girl with the Sun on her Heart.)

Jess, Rising: Guardians of Salt Creek Book One will be on
sale for 99 cents during the blitz, from Nov.13 to Nov. 18. Buy
on Amazon
Book Two in the series, Jess, Resurrected, launches this
week as well, at 99 cents during the blitz.
stood stone still, hair disheveled, head down. I stumbled toward him until we
were face to face. He didn’t look at me. He didn’t speak. I touched his arm.
His skin burned, like he had lava for blood.
you afraid?”
you think I’m a monster?”
you ever love someone who’s like… this?”
already do.”
finally looked me in the eyes. He pressed hard against me. A tingle of
electricity ran up my spine. He kissed me, long and deep, and the sky cracked
and popped as arcs of white lightning rained down around us.
About the Author
D.M. Guay writes about the
intersection of real life with the supernatural. By day, she’s an award-winning
journalist living in Ohio, a hobby urban farmer, a painter, and a retired
roller derby player. Her favorite things
besides books—are Jeni’s ice cream, tiki bars, liquid eyeliner, the 1968 Camaro, the Mighty
Boosh, 24-hour horror movie festivals, art by Picasso and
Niagara Detroit,
rock concerts, and most of all, people who make art, despite adversity, no
matter what life throws at them.

Author Links:


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Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: LBJ

Do you think we could stop with the movies depicting/describing/detailing events around and during the assassination of JFK? There are only so many ways and so many points of view to tell the tale. Unless you have something unique to give to the situation, like Stephen King’s 11/22/1963 novel, enough already. In the past decade I’ve seen JFK assassinated 10 times, all with different camera angles, and different points of view. It’s very tiring and Hollywood has managed to make a national tragedy boring. You are probably asking, “Zach, your review says this is supposed to be on the film LBJ.” It is, trust me. The film depicts the events a little bit before, during, and after the JFK assassination about the president that followed him, what he did both before, during and after. But with All The Way, which really just depicts the events after the JFK assassination, which has the last 25 minutes of this film covered, did we really need another movie on LBJ?

No we didn’t. I don’t know where we are getting these scripts from. It’s like we are getting them from college students. The professor says, “write a movie during or around a significant period of time and make it as factual as possible.” The students go, “well, 9/11 is too soon ((even though it also has been done to death already and I doubt we’ve seen the last of those films)), so what can I do, that requires minimal effort, where I don’t have to research all that much into what happened? Oh I know! I’ll do a story surrounding JFK’s assassination, but in the point of view of LBJ, or RFK, or Natalie Portman.”

I can’t tell you how sick of these movies I am. And this movie I know is about much more than that, it’s about LBJ’s point of view, and mostly on his career before and after, even though it takes almost the whole movie flashes back to that fateful day in Dallas to see his reaction when JFK gets terrible green screen background and CGI’d shot in the head treatment. I’m sad to say I’ve become numb to seeing a president being shot in the head. It’s terrible.

The movie is directed by Rob Reiner, who hasn’t had a good film since the kid movie Flipped, and before that, The American President. He has made some huge clunkers in his career, including North, and while what I described above isn’t so much a clunker as I make it out to be, any director could’ve made this movie. It has none of Reiner’s trademark direction/shots/etc. whatsoever, it is a complete point and shoot affair. I’m guessing since his career is so downhill this was the only thing he was offered.

The only saving grace of this film is none other than Woody Harrelson. And the acting in general. While the make up on Woody looks awful (should’ve hired someone else) he is terrific as LBJ. Even though this movie conflicts with some of LBJ’s character with the movie All The Way with Bryan Cranston, Woody does a remarkable job as the forced President to be, trying to make his own legacy. Jeffrey Donovan and Michael Sahl-David do really good work here too as JFK and RFK, and Jennifer Jason Leigh does good with the few scenes she has as Lady Bird. But Richard Jenkins is pretty powerful here too, playing a racist senator at odds with what LBJ is doing.

But yeah, if you’ve seen the movie All the Way with Bryan Cranston, there really is nothing new here, and watch that one, it is a better film. The only reason why you should watch this at all is if you like Woody Harrelson and are a Woody Harrelson performance completest. And I guess maybe if in some insane world you are a Rob Reiner completest as well. This movie is hopefully a nail in the coffin for movies surrounding the JFK assassination, but as with most things, I’m probably wrong.

Just escape the cubicle already

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