Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Made it

This is going to be short. I made it to Beijing. I'm sort of half asleep though. Kind of just meandering around in the haze and all. I'll definately write more once I get some sleep... and some food... and some sleep.

It was an awesome flight though. No hitches. Neat views of Syberia and the North Pole. I took pictures too, Luke. Earth is running out of ice, we need a refill.

I got to Beijing and stood in line for customs for a loooong time. Then I walked out front, had a bunch of people yelling at me, "Are you Daniel? Are you Peter? Are you David?" Finally I got an, "Are you Drew?". That was very exciting. So then I got a big gulp of Beijing air, and rode with Ms. Wang n' co. to the apartments. Fun.

Anyway, time to go. I don't have internet yet, I'm using a internet cafe. Should have it in 3 days though. I'll try to call later on, Mom, but Ms. Wang is taking us out and all. I'll try to figure out the card when I get back.

I'm out.

Friday, August 25, 2006

There and Back Again

My brother and I just got back from Washington D.C. about 24 hours ago. We drove 10 hours there, spent the night at a campsite sans tent, drove to D.C. in an ethereal cognitive haze, acquired my Z-visa at the Chinese embassy (which took all day), and drove 10 hours back. It was one of the weirdest trips I'd ever been on. On the surface, it would appear to be the type of trip one would do for sight-seeing. But the only sight-seeing we did was for filler in order to pass the time from 11:00 in the morning until I had to pick up the visa at 2:30.

As some people know, I have trouble sleeping. I often wake up several times a night. Typically, when I sleep 8 hours, it feels like I slept 8 hours. Not in a good way either. After arriving back from D.C., I slept like a baby. Better than a baby. In fact, babies were at my bedside all night taking notes in order to figure out how I sleep so effectively. Therefore, I've arrived at a conclusion: In order to get a full night of regeneterative sleep, I have to drive 10 hours, sleep for 3 hours on dirt and rocks, and drive 10 hours again. Its the only way.

The visa acquisition process was awesome. They were incredibly efficient in there. It makes me highly optimistic about Chinese bureaucracy. I got my ticket, number 181, and the first number called was 172. Granted, I didn't have long to wait regardless, but they got to me in less than 10 minutes. The line moved so fast that I thought I was on a roller coaster. I almost threw my hands up in the air screamed, "WoooooAAAAHHHH!!!" as I got to the booth. I'm not sure if that kind of thing is grounds for immediate visa denial though.

The waiting area was home to a plethora of interesting characters as well. Most of the people there were Asian. I would say Chinese, but I'm not bold enough to make a judgment like that yet. They could have easily been Taiwanese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Mongolian, or NORTH Korean. Of the people that weren't Asian in some way, shape, or form, we had a healthy mix of older folks who may have been there for vacation purposes (or possibly for adoption, maybe?), creepy-looking single fellas who had "karaoke" bars and "massage" parlors written all over them, pretentious-looking single fellas who looked like their entire goal for going was to accumulate bragging fodder, and whatever category I fall into. After talking to Luke for a bit about it, I began to have the scary feeling (but likely erroneous) that the purpose of my traveling might actually be for comedic value. I have to look within myself and ask, "What inspired me to go to Asia in the first place: A valid learning experience and personal growth or Most Extreme Elimination Challenge?" I sincerely hope that I don't find a lot of American arrogance (Amerogance?) in Beijing like I did in the U.K. and France, even if I do find it secretly hilarious.

I got my prescription medication ready though, everything needed to combat the gastrointestinal devils that will likely possess me once I start eating and drinking in Beijing. So that is exciting. All thats left to do really is pack and prepare mentally for the flight over thats approaching at dangerous speeds. I leave on Tuesday. And despite the fact that Luke hates the term, I really can't wait.


I'll rub that in some more.

I can't wait, Luke. I refuse to wait. It is impossible for me to wait any longer. I'm so totally excited about going that my body cannot function because it is being forced to wait while I clearly can wait no longer.

I was a jerk 5 years ago, I guess I still am.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

*Hack* *Cough* *Wheez*

Late last night I was searching for more information on individuals' experiences in China, mainly Beijing, and was surprised to find how much the air pollution was mentioned. Well, I was sort of surprised. I had heard long before I even accepted the teaching job out there that Beijing had notoriously bad air quality, but still the degree to which these posts were lambasting this particular aspect of the country was astounding.

Some of the claims sounded like gross exaggerations, and I dismissed them as being just that. For instance, some posts said that Beijing was the most polluted city in the world, by something like 100 times. Which sounded ridiculous. I also heard stories of people leaving their house in a white shirt and coming back a few hours later with a dark grey shirt. I took these accounts for what they were, someone ranting about the pollution that existed there and possibly blowing it out of proportion to make the rant seem more justified.

I mean, I used to hear how horribly rainy the UK was before I went. That it was like constantly being in soup or something. When I got there, I was surprised to see that it really wasn't that bad. Sure, it was overcast often, and it was pretty chilly most of the time, but it wasn't nearly on the scale of what people made it seem.

Another example was how people were saying that Kansas was flat and extremely bland and boring. People were saying, "If you are driving out west, avoid Kansas like the plague. Its nothing but flatness and cornfields." But when I went through Kansas, I'd have to say that only about 30% of the area we drove through was flat and cornfieldy. Everywhere else I looked it was beautiful green hills and staggering, gee-whiz inducing, cumulonimbus cloud formations. It was anything but boring and bland.

People seem to have a tendency of blowing the negative aspects of certain areas out of proportion it seems. I'm not saying that I think that I'll enjoy the pollution in Beijing, but I definately don't think it will be as bad as I'm imagining. I don't think that the winters wil consist of month-long inversions and weekly sandstorms. I don't really think that I'll be hacking up a lung constantly and suffering through carcinogens equivalent of years of smoking, thus shortening my lifespan significantly. I do think it will somewhat difficult to adjust to the air though. If I had a coughing problem in Boise, with its dry air and all, I'm sure that I'll have a sore throat after being out and about in Beijing for a bit. But I think I'll get used to it, just like my brother did.

I just better be prepared to drink a lot of green tea, and sport my surgical mask when things get especially nasty.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Annoying Lucas

Me. Brother. Two hours of video compressed to 1 minute of annoying behavior by yours truly. See post below.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I was a jerk 5 years ago


While organizing my stuff this weekend in preparation for the trip to China, I happened upon my old Digital Hi8 tapes from 5+ years ago. Mostly video from 2001 when I went to the UK, France, and Italy. About 2 hours of video is me walking around with the camera, operating it like a simian with Parkinson's and murmuring soporifically into the microphone; making stupid, stupid jokes (I have no idea when to use a semi-colon, but it just felt right, ok?). When I'm not boring my non-existent audience with wise-cracks about the testicles on a lion statue, I'm making fun of my brother, annoying the crap out of him. I mean, its funny to pester people sometimes, especially family members. But there's funny annoying, and then there's too far. I went beyond too far, into the realm of O'Reilly-esque jerkitude.

The sheer number of times I say, "Luke!" or "Luke, its Scotland, aren't you so amazed?" or "Luke, stop being a jerk, the Beatles were advocates of peace. You want to ruin their dreams?" or something to that effect. You'd just have to see/hear it to believe it. I'd hope that I've dejerked some over the years, but then again I don't have the objective ability like I do now of seeing myself behave from the third-person's perspective. I just would have to take other peoples' word for it. And I don't people (maybe a snapshot of the reason I was/may still be a jerk, who knows?)

But its very informative to see these old videos. I wonder if I'm still that boring sounding today. I know I'm droll, but that might be giving myself too much credit even there. Its just that I severely lack outwordly expressed enthusiasm, or as my internship boss once said, "Professional Tenacity". I know it troubles some people when conversations go like this:

Girl: "Drew, I got engaged!!"
Me: "Ok."

Guy: "Drew, this might come as a surprise to you, but I'm gay..."
Me: "Huh."

Guy: "Drew, I got fired from my job and I have no money"
Me: "That sucks"

Sometimes I wish I could express emotions when its necessary, and not sound fake about it. I'll be posting these videos, which I've been vehemently downloading to my laptop, as soon as possible. They're great...

No really... completely...




Thursday, August 10, 2006


At 4:53 AM (I think), I'll be 25 years old. So I think that means that in some states, it will be ok for me to rent a car without having to pay more? Not sure about that one, but I'll be damned if it isn't landmark birthday in my book! After this its the decade ages, the prime numbers, the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything age, retirement age, and the year I was born age. This is, of course, assuming they don't come up with head-in-jar technology during these years. Come on Futurama! Predict the future!

Right now, I'm operation on the wonders of dialup internet. Using this archaic technology, it almost does invoke the imagery that the internet is, indeed, not just a big truck. That its a series of tubes!

That said, it will be exceedingly difficult to spice up this vapid E-chron with hilarious and/or meaningful pictures or videos. So right now, whoever may be reading this (and I've created several alternate "members" of to create this illusion) will just have to deal with words. Fancy words. Like, euphamism... if thats even spelled correctly. Who knows? Definately not me.

Ok, on to the rant portion. This part is intended entirely for my own cathartic pleasure. It will be astondingly uninteresting I think, but still I have to say it. The charming and lovely staff at Footprints Recruiting has been very tolerant of my daily calling and panicking about actually getting to China. I have to leave on the 29th of August. The documentation needed for acquisition of my Z-visa will be arriving here on the 23rd, if all goes well (and I really, really hope that all goes well). Given that, this means that I'll have to send out the documents, with passport, to some agency like "" or something to have it expedited and sent promptly back to me. This will take another 3 days if I'm lucky. I can't believe that I might have to do this, but I may be taking a road trip to Washington D.C. just to go to my nearest China Consulate to have my visa taken care of. Its way more stress than I'd like. But, this isn't entirely my fault, for reasons that I don't care to mention here.


I know, its a mess. But things are going to work out, because things do that. They better. Or else.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Undeniably Pretentious

Let me go ahead and just get a few things out of the way...

First of all, I despise the word "blog". It really does sound like an onomatopoeic word for the act of violent regurgitation. I mean, just imagine it... "BLoooooooooggggg" Thus, for my own devices, I've decided to rename this internet phenomenon "E-Chronicles" or E-Chron. Trust me, its better for everyone.

And that just leads dandily into my next statement, just so we're all on the same page here. There is, in my opinion, something inherently pretentious in the very idea of starting your own blog... er... E-Chron. I mean, its kinda sad really. Especially if you're under the impression that you actually do have a loyal viewing audience. But then again, I'm probably 75% pessimistic... or maybe thats 75% pragmatic. Either way, I know what I'm getting myself into.

The point is, every once in awhile there is an extremely probable chance that I'll write in a way thats overtly eruditious. Even to the point of physical discomfort. If you're willing to put yourself through it, then by all means. But let me give you a taste...

1.) I may, every once in awhile, write a poem. The quality of the poem will undoubtably be quite insufficient to the standards of, well, almost everyone. Nonetheless, I'll make it seem as if I'm the most insightful, artistic, and original writer there is.

2.) I may, if I see it fit, post a drawing. I will most certainly use my one-year stint at the Art Institute of Atlanta for justification of my artistic prowess, however, the drawings will likely be amateurish and crude. But I won't let that stop me from claiming that it will communicate some deep feeling or moment of spiritual clarity or something fantastic like that.

3.) I most certainly will post photos while I'm in China, of China. This photos will come complete with "Thumb in Corner" sophistication, or "Mystery Lens Debris" added for that sense of realism. This will be highly intentional to the statement that I'm making, just to make you feel like you were there! Thus, these faux pas will actually be part of my uncanny photographic ability.

So there you go. The undeniable pretention will be there. And what would be an E-Chron without that?