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Coming to grips? 着手解决

中国日报网 2019-02-27 11:12

Reader question:

Please explain this sentence, especially “came to grips”: “Neither project came to grips with the problem of final waste disposal.” What does “grips” mean exactly?

My comments:

Two projects aim at solving the problem of waste disposal. Neither is good enough. Neither can solve the problem once and for all.

Either they don’t have a firm grasp of the problem or they don’t go at it hard enough.

That’s about it.

“Grip” refers to the act of grabbing something and keeping a firm hold of it.

“Coming to grips” (or “getting to grips”) can be best explained by using two wrestlers and by us watching them getting into action. You know, first they stand toe to toe facing each other and size each other up. Then they do a little pushing at each other. Then they begin to shove (push with force) at each other. All this pushing and shoving is to see and assess how strong the opponent is. Then they all of the sudden grab each other by the arm and the fight begins in serious earnest – till in the end one wrestles the other to the floor.

First “push comes to shove”, which is a set phrase in its own right meaning a situation is beginning to escalate; then the two wrestlers “come to grips” with each other and that means they now go at it with force and ferocity.

If this makes sense to you, then it’s easy to see how the phrase “coming or getting to grips” is synonymous with dealing with a problem seriously.

It means you’re now dealing with a problem seriously because, like two wrestlers holding onto each other and not letting go, now that you have a firm grasp or understanding of the problem, you’re ready to pursue the matter to the end without cease or interruption.

In other words, you’re not going to let it go until you get to the bottom of the matter.

Well, that’s clear enough.

I hope so.

So, no more ado, let’s use a few more media examples to hammer the point firmly in:

1. One of the most complicated and surprising parts of my journey out of Washington was coming to grips with what I really wanted. I had opportunities to stay on, and I could have tried to work out an arrangement allowing me to spend more time at home. I might have been able to get my family to join me in Washington for a year; I might have been able to get classified technology installed at my house the way Jim Steinberg did; I might have been able to commute only four days a week instead of five. (While this last change would have still left me very little time at home, given the intensity of my job, it might have made the job doable for another year or two.) But I realized that I didn’t just need to go home. Deep down, I wanted to go home. I wanted to be able to spend time with my children in the last few years that they are likely to live at home, crucial years for their development into responsible, productive, happy, and caring adults. But also irreplaceable years for me to enjoy the simple pleasures of parenting—baseball games, piano recitals, waffle breakfasts, family trips, and goofy rituals. My older son is doing very well these days, but even when he gives us a hard time, as all teenagers do, being home to shape his choices and help him make good decisions is deeply satisfying.

The flip side of my realization is captured in Macko and Rubin’s ruminations on the importance of bringing the different parts of their lives together as 30-year-old women:

If we didn’t start to learn how to integrate our personal, social, and professional lives, we were about five years away from morphing into the angry woman on the other side of a mahogany desk who questions her staff’s work ethic after standard 12-hour workdays, before heading home to eat moo shoo pork in her lonely apartment.

Women have contributed to the fetish of the one-dimensional life, albeit by necessity. The pioneer generation of feminists walled off their personal lives from their professional personas to ensure that they could never be discriminated against for a lack of commitment to their work. When I was a law student in the 1980s, many women who were then climbing the legal hierarchy in New York firms told me that they never admitted to taking time out for a child’s doctor appointment or school performance, but instead invented a much more neutral excuse.

Today, however, women in power can and should change that environment, although change is not easy. When I became dean of the Woodrow Wilson School, in 2002, I decided that one of the advantages of being a woman in power was that I could help change the norms by deliberately talking about my children and my desire to have a balanced life. Thus, I would end faculty meetings at 6 p.m. by saying that I had to go home for dinner; I would also make clear to all student organizations that I would not come to dinner with them, because I needed to be home from six to eight, but that I would often be willing to come back after eight for a meeting. I also once told the Dean’s Advisory Committee that the associate dean would chair the next session so I could go to a parent-teacher conference.

After a few months of this, several female assistant professors showed up in my office quite agitated. “You have to stop talking about your kids,” one said. “You are not showing the gravitas that people expect from a dean, which is particularly damaging precisely because you are the first woman dean of the school.” I told them that I was doing it deliberately and continued my practice, but it is interesting that gravitas and parenthood don’t seem to go together.

Ten years later, whenever I am introduced at a lecture or other speaking engagement, I insist that the person introducing me mention that I have two sons. It seems odd to me to list degrees, awards, positions, and interests and not include the dimension of my life that is most important to me—and takes an enormous amount of my time. As Secretary Clinton once said in a television interview in Beijing when the interviewer asked her about Chelsea’s upcoming wedding: “That’s my real life.” But I notice that my male introducers are typically uncomfortable when I make the request. They frequently say things like “And she particularly wanted me to mention that she has two sons”—thereby drawing attention to the unusual nature of my request, when my entire purpose is to make family references routine and normal in professional life.

This does not mean that you should insist that your colleagues spend time cooing over pictures of your baby or listening to the prodigious accomplishments of your kindergartner. It does mean that if you are late coming in one week, because it is your turn to drive the kids to school, that you be honest about what you are doing. Indeed, Sheryl Sandberg recently acknowledged not only that she leaves work at 5:30 to have dinner with her family, but also that for many years she did not dare make this admission, even though she would of course make up the work time later in the evening. Her willingness to speak out now is a strong step in the right direction.

Seeking out a more balanced life is not a women’s issue; balance would be better for us all. Bronnie Ware, an Australian blogger who worked for years in palliative care and is the author of the 2011 book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, writes that the regret she heard most often was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” The second-most-common regret was “I wish I didn’t work so hard.” She writes: “This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship.”

- Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, The Atlantic, July/August 2012 Issue.

2. Amber Rudd has dramatically resigned as home secretary, after repeatedly struggling to account for her role in the unjust treatment of Windrush generation migrants.

The home secretary was forced to step down after a series of revelations in the Guardian over Windrush culminated in a leak on Friday that appeared to show she was aware of targets for removing illegal migrants from Britain.

The pressure increased late on Sunday afternoon as the Guardian revealed that in a leaked 2017 letter to Theresa May, Rudd had told the prime minister of her intention to increase deportations by 10% – seemingly at odds with her recent denials that she was aware of deportation targets.

Rudd was facing a bruising appearance in the House of Commons on Monday. Downing Street sources said that in preparing for her statement, new information had become available which convinced Rudd she had inadvertently misled parliament – and she had therefore phoned the prime minister on Sunday to tender her resignation.


Speculation about her future had swirled around Westminster late into the evening on Friday, as the home office and Downing Street failed to respond for more than eight hours to the Guardian’s revelations.

But Rudd finally issued a statement on Friday night insisting, “I wasn’t aware of specific removal targets. I accept I should have been and I’m sorry that I wasn’t.”

She had pledged to explain herself in a statement to the House of Commons on Monday. But instead, she drafted a resignation letter.

The prime minister was forced to apologise for the treatment of the Windrush generation during the recent Commonwealth heads of government meeting, after initially refusing a request to meet the leaders of affected countries.

Rudd’s own repeated apologies failed to assuage the sense that the home secretary should have known what was happening – and got to grips with it earlier.

- Amber Rudd resigns hours after Guardian publishes deportation targets letter, TheGuardian.com, April 30, 2018.

3. Marcus Rashford’s first half goal made it six wins out of six at Manchester United for caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a 1-0 victory at Tottenham.

United were indebted to David De Gea’s heroics as he made a string of second half saves to maintain his side's advantage -- making more saves (11) in that 45 minutes than any other goalkeeper had made in an entire Premier League match this season.

“Results wise, to come away here and beat Tottenham is fantastic,” Solskjaer said.

“We hung on in the second half and we never got to grips with it when they changed the system, but you are allowed to have a good goalkeeper.

“Obviously when you make 11 saves it is a top performance, but even so, two of them were top saves but the rest you would expect David to make.”

- Rashford, De Gea the heroes as Solskjaer keeps perfect United start with win over Tottenham. ESPN.com, January 14, 2019.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)


Slam dunk? 巨大成功


Arms race 军备竞赛


50-50? 结果很难说


Die-hards? 死硬派


Changing of the guard? 交接换班


What is a non-starter? 成功无望