Quí vị không phải là người duy nhất bị khói thuốc lá làm hại

Back in the good ol days, I remember seeing this phrase on a billboard (or something like that) and writing it while sitting at a stop light, and then that night cracking open the Viet-English dictionary to figure out what in the world it meant. Now I joke with the guys about it, back then when every idiom or saying in Vietnamese was a secret code waiting to be pored over and cracked. I guess it means something like "You are not the only one at risk of cigarette smoke" or somewhere in that ball park. I read another one the other day, again on a billboard: "Nếu quí vị hút thuốc, khả năng con cái bị nghiện thuốc sẽ nhân đôi." It's funny because now that I've studied the language for several years, I guess I think I'm pro or something because instead of trying to figure out the meaning, I just nitpick the translation. This phrase means something like "If you smoke, the chances that your children will be addicted are doubled." The word "chances" in this context really evade a good translation in Vietnamese (I think) because most terms of like meaning (cơ hội, cơ may) are in regard to good luck or opportunity, like the chance to win the lotto or the chance to meet a celebrity. The word used in this particular translation is khả năng which could mean something close to chance (more like potential) but could also mean ability. "If you smoke, the ability of your children to be addicted will be doubled" doesn't really fit their meaning, as I see it, but it might be the best bet for lack of a more direct translation. Ahh, translating... the more I do it, the more I feel I lack.

The reason I thought of this today was because I woke up to my neighbor coughing. (Note: "Neighbor" in my neighborhood means any one of the 5 households adjacent to mine, so all the sounds from the other units reverberate and amplify through the walls into ours, and vice versa) He's a big-time smoker and he lives right under us so we're constantly opening our windows and doors when it's hot or when we're cooking with nước mắm, then closing them again when the smoke drifts in. I would be upset about it except that I feel so bad - every morning he coughs for a full 5 minutes before his lungs calm down. Not the little coughs, but the kind of cough that I thought was the furnace hiccuping for the first few months I lived here. It was especially bad this morning, he went on for a good 15 minutes or more. I said a little prayer for him (after which he stopped immediately :) and wondered, as I often do, if he could have possibly imagined what his life is like now when he smoked his first cig. That's why I can't bring myself to mumble under my breath when he's filling our porch and doors and windows with smoke, because I'm sure that under a little peer pressure or depression or desperation or whatever drives someone to fill their lungs with soot, he thought that smoking was something he needed at the time, or at least wanted. It makes me wonder about what I'm doing right now that I think I need or want, and what will the consequences be in 25 or 50 years. Ultimately, I should be thankful for my condo above a smoking neighbor because of the lessons I learn from him. But it is difficult on those hot summer nights when I can't breath for the heat and I can't open the windows and doors because then I might be able to breath better but I'd be sucking someone's second-hand smoke.

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travel log
  • 02.13.08 - to the temple with Luan and his mom, good to be back
  • 02.14.08 - Mẫu's alive! and staying for the weekend
  • 02.15.08 - floor hockey and Thái food makes for some strange dreams
  • 02.17.08 - frisbee and swamp monster at the park: fun but I'm pooped!
  • 02.19.08 - just read Triết's response to my last post - game on!
  • 02.20.08 - raining and expected to continue through Sunday - thank goodness!
  • 02.21.08 - 3-hour nap is a bad idea right before bed
  • 02.23.08 - to the beach to watch kites, a baptism @ 5pm, and homemade bulgogi - what a day!
  • 02.25.08 - just gave myself a haircut - woo, cold head!
  • 02.26.08 - 75° and spring cleaning - couldn't feel better
  • 02.27.08 - fed the elders bún đậu tonight - think it's their first time
  • 03.01.08 - working on new background...
  • 03.02.08 - finalized javascript to change background without muffing up my other scripts
  • 03.03.08 - fhe: "In his strength I can do all things" (Alma 26:12)
  • 03.07.08 - some decisions are harder than others, but some are downright excruciating
  • 03.08.08 - there is life after work... i almost forgot
  • 03.11.08 - the distance between good and bad is much shorter than between better and best
  • 03.12.08 - conversion is sometimes a gradual process, so much so that we don't even notice
  • 03.14.08 - for some reason everything was a little harder today, looking forward for bed!
  • 03.15.08 - last night after blog reading, I missed OnlyBlue, today I find she's back
  • 03.16.08 - best day of my life!
  • 03.19.08 - "Pray for the answer that they've been looking for"
release notes v1.0 - FINALLY DONE!
  • 12.07 - first thought of starting a new blog
  • 01.08 - busy with election stuff but blog design still on back burner
  • 01.13.08 - first idea to imitate jk rowling with the "desk" theme
  • 01.28.08 - start sketching current design, breaking down development into phases
  • 02.02.08 - election only days away but still drafting final plans
  • 02.04.08 - v0.6 LAUNCH
    • main components (blog body, sidebar, header, etc) designed and implemented
    • styling for font, links, drop caps, etc. finished
  • 02.07.08 - v0.8 LAUNCH
    • image style to imitate polariod
    • moveability - post-it notes and static clings can be repositioned by drag and drop
    • release notes styled and written
  • 02.16.08 - travel log (beta) added in hopes of catching the mundane
  • 02.22.08 - lightbox 2.03 reinstalled and working fine (hopefully - let me know otherwise)
  • 02.26.08 - v0.9 LAUNCH
    • travel log seems to be working, so I'll keep it
    • lightbox also seems to have passed the test, so it's a keeper
    • some credits/info added to bottom (will expand)
    • keeping old Viet terms in archive for future viewing
  • 03.18.08 - v1.0 LAUNCH
    • installation and testing of time-sensitive background completed (for now)