From Twinkle Stars to Sonatina

Michael Audio, Video June 28, 2018

Yoyo has taken piano lessons for 2.5 years and here is a quick progress report. And he has matured so much. We still vividly remember the first recital, video below, when he wouldn’t step onto stage, probably out of stage fright. (We made a second attempt after more than an hour, and he made it and people were wowed.)

Now he can play something as complicated as Sonatina, although this time, I put my video fixing skills to good use to make the whole piece just slightly more perfect;)

Yoyo Scroll

Michael Photo December 3, 2017

A picture every three months or so, since January 2012.

An ever evolving documentary project.

What I learned so far: capturing the right moments matters the most to the quality of the picture, not whether you have a backdrop or lighting and all those things. But a good lens does help a great deal. Also available at yoyozhao.me

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Yoyo’s 2017 Resolution: Beat Federer (After Murray)

Michael Animation, Video December 31, 2016

My son has had a fulfilling 2016: winning chess trophies and making leaping progress in piano. And he also beat Andy Murray (video below). Among his 2017 (parents-bestowed) New Year resolutions is: beating Roger Federer in the new tennis season. I, for one, have a lot of hope on that…



Yoyo Recital #3

Michael Audio, Photo, Video December 14, 2016

First recital at a new school, Juliet Music at Forest Hills Gardens.

Yoyo played Dance and Theme Variation a duet with teacher Alejandra and then Little Playmates by himself, error free:

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Video: Yoyo Recital #2

Michael Audio, Photo, Video October 23, 2016


Here our family duo iPhones worked quietly to properly capture Yoyo’s second recital performance (sound not by Apple device) . We are really proud of how he handled the pressure, and he was the youngest, by a lot. Here below is a clip of his A Minuet for Mr. Bach’s Children. Click here for his first recital performance.


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Michael Data & Graphics, Photo May 7, 2016


以前都认为美国人家庭对孩子的教育基本是放羊(或放养),那真是大错特错了,一些富裕的家庭要么所在的学区是全美顶级的名校,要么捧着每年少则三万,多则大好几万的银子到私立,而且高级的私立学校不是说有钱就进的,孩子连同父母双方还要通过严苛的面试过程,可谓既富且贵的私塾。这个类型的学校不在我们考虑的范畴,等来生再分解。 Read More

Watch: Queen Elizabeth II in Metamorphosis Slideshow

Michael Interactive, Photo, Video April 23, 2016

Happy 90th Birthday to Queen Elizabeth II:

This has been shared over a million times on Facebook and the genius behind it seems to be a popular Facebook group called Slideshow Metamorphosis. Here are other celebrity case studies: Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Adrian Brody, among others… For those interested in their service, here’s what you need to send them:

To order your slideshow you need to send at e-mail: slideshow.metamorphosis@gmail.com 15-20 pictures, (preferably a close up face shot) and indicate their order, propose your favorite music (or choose from 3 options proposed by us), and write caption text (if needed). Your slideshow will be ready within 7 days. If you have special requirements, please, contact us at slideshow.metamorphosis@gmail.com.

I have mastered another skill just for this trick myself, and it just costs a couple of bucks and you could do the same magic on your iPhone. The app, Motato, is self-claimed “the best face morph app for baby and celebrity!” Here’s what I did:


Watch: Yoyo’s First Piano Recital

Michael Video April 15, 2016

We were really proud that Yoyo picked up his courage and went on stage to perform his recital songs, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “My Invention.”

I did not bring a tripod but managed to stabilize the video and cropped it to a mobile-friendly square box format.



Yoyo Piano: Ode to Joy

Michael Audio, Video February 26, 2016

Less than two months into learning the piano, Yoyo has made remarkable progress. Here we proudly present his “Ode to Joy”

Lunar New Year at The Met 2016

Michael Video February 7, 2016

The Metropolitan Museum of Art really nails it when it comes to celebrate the Lunar New Year with thousands of families in New York City. It is also an optimal opportunity to check out the unbeaten paths in this gigantic and sometimes disorienting structure. Yet the shows and their awesomeness are totally worth the trip, especially for something that happens just once a year. And the venue attracts pretty much most of the Lunar New Year-related cultural institutions in town. Here below are some of our favorites.

This is some really amazing drum beating from Korea:

Here below is a show opener with lions spitting out calligraphy New Year greetings:

And there was some pro Kung Fu going on too, with this guy whipping his sword with authentic metal-cracking sounds:

And he also did this awe-inspiring superpower-like trick of bending two red-tasseled spears with his throat, just like seen in a Jackie Chan movie:

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Happy Year of the Monkey!

2016 Chinese New Year Greeting Card from Family

Michael Photo February 4, 2016

It’s that time of the year again that Chinese send out their New Year’s wishes to family and friends, and nowadays also to those social friends which could number in the hundreds.

I tried something somewhat professional looking yet not painfully complicated, thanks to the Internet. Here below are the two versions of the 2016 Chinese New Year’s greeting card from the Zhao/Cao family, featuring a selfie photo from a beach in Cancun, Mexico in late November last year. The reason why I am showing two versions is that when I AirDropped the first version, which looks pretty good on my MacBook Pro’s screen, to my iPhone, it looked terribly dark and you cannot see our faces at all. Then after a few tricks in Photoshop, I finally made a version that looks acceptable on the phone. Here are the differences below:

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The smartphone acceptable version, which is much brighter and it shows on a computer screen.

春节问候卡2016 copy

The computer-friendly version, which looks totally dark on a smartphone screen

Feel free to try to look at these on different displays and most importantly, 猴年大吉大利!Happy New Year of the Monkey!

Video: Yoyo Eats Cherries

Michael Video January 30, 2016

Yeah, we’ve done that cute little thing called feeding him cherries by cutting them in half and taking out the stones. Here is Yoyo eating cherries like an adult, almost…

Audio: Yoyo Sends WeChat Message to Missed Grandma/pa in China

Michael Audio December 26, 2015

During the Christmas 2015 holiday, Yoyo started to help himself using WeChat expressing his emotions and thoughts directly to his grandma and grandpa. This below was one of his first attempts to send an audio message himself, although this particularly message was misfired, and sent into a wrong WeChat group on his mom’s iPhone. Still, a fantastic linguistic and technical success for a would-be 4-year-old.

It roughly translates into:

I prepared a gift for you, do you want to check it out with me? Because I miss you, ok? Aren’t you coming here soon? Because I want to play with you, ok?


Audio: Yoyo Giggles with Bathroom Door

Michael Audio November 26, 2015

Yoyo likes to giggle, even when playing a silly game of shutting and opening the bathroom door at home. Here is my iPhone’s capture of that contagious laughter: