Back from Vacation

February 24, 2010 1 comment

Recently my blog was blocked by the Great Firewall, and as much as I’d love to take credit for it, I think it was just a precaution in the name of harmony before Spring Festival since I wasn’t the only WordPress url that was “harmonized.” However, I have a VPN so that’s not really an excuse for not blogging. I think the initial novelty of starting a blog has died down a bit and although I had the urge to blog during the last few weeks, another part of me doubted whether it was worth the effort.

So here I am getting back on the horse and I’ve forgotten what I was going to write about! Very frustrating but something I’m rather used to after I realized I have rampant curiosity. One thing I’ve missed since moving closer to the center of the city is the long commute. Sounds strange, but the reason I miss it is because it gave me a chance to read my small collection of bootleg books that I’ve bought cheaply (and a bit impulsively) on the streets of Beijing. Sitting down to read a book simply doesn’t appeal to me when I’m at home and there are plenty of more options available. I guess that’s where the iPad comes in, but that thing has been over-analyzed to death now.

Anyways, Lunar New Year’s resolution: to read books more, even though I could be browsing the internet, playing video games or watching videos. Talk about easier said than done!

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4 Million Cars in Beijing, 50 Competent Drivers

January 8, 2010 1 comment

It’s well-known that Beijingers are reaching for their share of the American dream, and they have every right to. One of the things I miss most after coming to Beijing (besides In-N-Out) is simply: driving. Cliche as it might be, I love cruising along a scenic, wide-open road. Although it’s not always as idyllic as that, I always made the most of the feeling of speed, control, and wholeheartedly listen to music. (I don’t have the dedication to just sit and listen to music at home, I’d rather be watching TV or browsing the web while passively listening to music.)

Of course even if I did have a driver’s license and car in Beijing, the experience would be nowhere near the one in US. From what I’ve seen, driving in China requires a level of attention and blind courage that would my cautious habits in the dust. However, the one thing that is missing from drivers in China is cooperation. See exhibit A:

Looking at it now, it’s a little bit hard to describe what is so remarkable here, but at the time I was very amused by this because this jam showed no signs of  letting up for at least 10 minutes. During that time, I saw the green military-type truck you see on the left make its way across the crowded intersection along with all the other cars in its direction. This was distressing to me not only because the bus I’m waiting for is trying to cross this intersection perpendicular those jammed cars, but also because they’re doing so out of complete disregard for the flow of traffic. They’re jamming to squeeze through to the street going left and behind me, which makes it harder for the cars coming against them, holding themselves up and everyone else.

On top of that, an accident occurred between the white van and black car right behind the woman in red. I’ll let you guys (all three of you) to figure this one out.

Relating to idiosyncrasy

I’m fairly certain I’m very idiosyncratic, there are things that I’m very OCD about and get bugged for. (Fortunately I reserve myself enough so it’s rarely noticed.) Thus I’m always surprised when I see the rare something that I can really relate to.

Although I suspect this has more to do with TV Tropes itself, but this also happens to me with Wikipedia and the internet at large. I’m still not sure how or why I’m able to wander the internet ALL DAY and not get tired of it enough to quit at a healthy point.

I could probably ponder off into other rants and raves at this point but I’ll restrain myself.

Instead I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes:

“The cure of boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

– Dorothy Parker

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The gap between taste and ability

Dustin Curtis’s blog pointed me to this video (‘ku) (‘tube) by Ira Glass about narrowing the gap between your taste and your ability. The problem that I’m facing is, my taste isn’t all that great to begin with. I occasionally enjoy the arts when the mood strikes me, but I rarely pay close attention to it or give serious thought into why I like this particular piece of art. I’m very much a left brained person and always traced other stuff when it came to schoolwork that required drawing.

On top of that, writing never struck me as an art form until I was almost out of high school! Before that I think i still conceptualized writing like I did math, there is linear, progressive things to be done in a certain way so that I can get an A on this book report. Needless to say I’ve come a long way since then.

I have a good idea of what I like when it’s obvious, such as comedies because they make me laugh and feel good. On the other hand, I want to be a renaissance man and appreciate the artsy films too, but it’s hard for me to do because I don’t like feeling sad. (I know not all of them are sad but they tend to have elements of it so they can lift you out of it later.)

I think Little Miss Sunshine was the last artsy film that I enjoyed, but I couldn’t figure out why until my mom explained it to me.

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People of Beijing

January 4, 2010 2 comments

In the same vein as People of Walmart, I’ve noticed that Beijing has its fair share of characters as well. Beijing, while climbing towards world-class status, also retains a lot of its traditional culture and looks. This combination results in humorous translations, unique fashion faux-pas, and sometimes cultural insights. These people and sights rarely draw looks from locals and that makes me even more drawn to it.

Please keep in mind the goal of these posts is not to make fun of people, there’s nothing funny about handicapped or unfortunate people who are getting by however they can. However, every once in a while I encounter obviously sane people who I just have to ask, why?

Excited and Overwhelmed – A Personal History of Blogging

Right now I’m getting a “is this really happening?!” feeling washing over me as I try to wrap my head around the “this” that is happening.

See, I’ve always been a rather shy guy. Observe first, ask questions later, possibly shoot much later. The path that has led me here is long and sparse. Keeping a diary or journal was never really my thing but I would always think myself to sleep, which I suspect lots of people do. Basically, I’m very much a “keep my thoughts to myself” kind of guy.

In high school Xanga was all the rage and I hopped on that bandwagon, figuring it was like a diary or journal, but public. It wasn’t for pure exhibition though, I mostly thought of it like a time capsule, to be looked back on years from now and get nostalgic about my youth. Looking at it now I realize it’s just a collection of horrible immature writings and ramblings, so I won’t link it here but it’s findable if you really want to punish yourself.

I stopped posting in Xanga sometime around college. Meanwhile, I’m reading all about web 2.0, social media and networking, something that I never did because I didn’t see blogging as for anyone but my reflective self. So here I am, putting myself to the test and applying what I’ve been reading about for the last couple years, going out to play on the supposedly leveling playing field that allows anyone to have a voice but not necessarily a face.

Feel free to leave some advice or thoughts for me to get started.

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Hello world!

New year, new blog.

I’ve actually been thinking about it for awhile but this is it! After years of reading other people’s blogs, browsing in awe, and gleaning what I could from them, it’s time for me to get off my butt and start doing.

I thought I was so cool and smart for reading a bunch of professional blogs and “learning” from them, but now it’s time to walk the walk. Tragic thing is, I’ve never gotten an “A” on any piece of writing before (except when I took classes on semiotics and sociology).

Like most expats that come here after a mediocre four years of college with a non-coveted degree, I’ve come to China with my native English abilities hoping to make it somehow. However, I have something most expats don’t have, an avatar (in the new James Cameron’s movie sense).

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