Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dave's travel blog

There are just two reasons for this post:

1.) I'm kinda drunk, and I wanted at least drunk-post. Tonight is night 4 of the Scary Movie Week-a-thon, we watched Army of Darkness and Shaun of the Dead. Two of the funniest horror movies out there. And fun to drink to while watching.

2.) To link to Dave' Reidy's travel blog in India. It's a fantastically written and informative blog about life about working in India. Dave and Laura are awesome, and I'm not just saying that because I've drunken too many whiskey smoothies. But it helps.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Scare-a-thon 2007


Lookie, a new e-chron postage. Who knows, maybe this will rebecome a regular thing for me.

The past weekend we went to a park to help make things pretty. I know I do a super job at that, personally, for the crusty pizza boxes and filthy socks that I'll probably wear tomorrow are organized in a very feng sh-way... heheh, get it?

It was a fun time, although it wasn't nearly as involved as last year's excursion to the outskirts of Beijing, or Jingy-town as it likes to be called. Nevertheless, it was still a joyous romp. I attended to see my Alaska class hard at work doing good for the environment. They really put their backs into it. In fact, I have some grossly outrageous photos to highlight some of the best samples of child-labor one is likely to see.

Our plan that day was to do some good for the world (clean parks, help old ladies cross streets, reunite puppy orphans with their families, etc.) and then go take some spooky pictures at an abandoned theme park that I read about in that's beijing. Unfortunately it became more of a recon mission, as we weren't actually able to find any of the buses that were supposed to deliver us. All the better though, we spent the rest of the day playing a 20-questions-ish game until said game erupted into a fiery religious debate. Too bad it seems like it's almost impossible to say the words "religious debate" without being preempted with the word "fiery".

I've made it a goal of mine to try to watch at least one scary movie per night after the October break leading up to Halloween. Of course, I keep to that oath more-so than I keep to more productive oaths like promises to visit friends on weekends or trying to workout or eat healthy on a regular basis. The result has been some weird dreams that tie most genres together, such as vampire werewolf zombies fighting ax-wielding maniacs. In essence, this means it's working.

This week, we're having a spooky movie scare-a-thon. Every night leading up to Saturday will and has been one scary movie party. God I love Halloween.

In other news, as some of you may or may not know, Dan Hubball will be visiting Beijing very soon. The date is rapidly approaching, and I'm trying my best to prepare lots of China things to do. I hope he brings Ribena though. I mean, I like him and all, but I'll be danged if I don't also like sugar-flavored black currant juice a whole crapload as well.

More to come. By the way, all the photos from the day can be located here.

PS: I just read Dave Reidy's blog. He's in India now. Mumbai. He got malaria. He's sick, but it sounds like he'll pull through. So... Mom? Dad? Wanna meet in Mumbai over February break instead of Canada?

PPS: I wanted to try the video uploader through blogger. If you can see it, this video is a 3d-itized version of the Great Wall photo from a year ago. Can't link to the original, because blogger is blocked AGAIN!
video

Friday, October 19, 2007

Something wicked this way comes.

First of all, I want to thank you guys for keeping with the blog and checking it from time to time and all. I can't read or comment on my own blog, but I can still post on it. I want to say things to you guys and respond and all, but I can't. I'm considering moving the old e-chron to a site that can be viewed in China, but most major blogging sites are blocked in China (Which is what this update is all about). I'd be endlessly appreciative if some of you guys could e-mail me sometime just a short e-mail so that I have ways of contacting you. Especially Maile and all the guys who still check this site from time to time from the old WoW days. It's drewlink@gmail.com.

Anyway, on to business. Things are going fine here in Beijing. Work keeps getting more interesting and has been adding up quite a bit. It's good work though. Interesting, with lots of variety. Variety is good. I remember working at some other jobs that shan't be named that basically involved 30 minutes of work supplemented with 7 and a half hours of watching Homestar Runner cartoons and reading every bit of trivia about Star Wars from imdb.com, all while trying to dodge the boss as he walked by the office. That got old, quick. I finally feel like I'm doing something that I can actually enjoy, and that might actually look good on a resume. I might even be able to qualify for the 2 years of HR work needed to certify as a PHR guy, which would make me glad that if I choose to continue working in the field, I won't have to take that godforsaken test any time soon.

Life here continues to be interesting as well. As the Olympics draws nearer, hilarious new commercials keep popping up on Chinese TV that show Beijing as a happy place with cars stopping for pedestrians and friendly shopkeepers smiling, utterly delighted by being graced with the presence of neighborhood friendlies. The sky is always blue, with rainbows shining down upon God's green earth, with unicorns frolicking in the streets! Oh what a magical place!

Now, what's weird is that anyone who lives in Beijing knows that this just ain't the case. Cars often *speed up* when they see a pedestrian crossing, even if you have the green light. And shopkeepers tend to scowl at the presence of foreigners (unless you live here, then they think everything you say in Chinese is side-splittingly hilarious). So... these ads don't work for locals.

Ah yes! It must be targeted at people interested in coming to visit! Of course! Except... huh. Well I guess anyone who would be shelling out the dough to come see glorious Beijing would be of the right mind to investigate the place. They might check blogs of people who post about Beijing or whatnot, as I did. When I looked up information back many months ago, guess what I found? Lots of people... *lots*... complaining about traffic, pollution, etc. etc. So, I guess the informed potential visitor might more readily see these posts rather than buy in to the pink-bordered, disneyland advertisements sponsored by Beijing 2008. Hmm...

Well, I guess it would be all fine and dandy, but NOW I wouldn't be able to really show you what I mean! Recently, there has been an all-out cyberwar declared apparently! Youtube is now blocked, so I can't find the commercials so that you may bask in its absurdity, and major search sites are now redirected to the highly censored Baidu website! That in combination with other actual *world-wide* reports on environmental issues (sorry, the link for this site no longer works for me, figures!) and every blog on the internet being blocked, it's very apparent that China will do anything to convince you that Beijing is Candyland. And by the way, the health report I mentioned says that 750,000 premature deaths in China can be linked to the pollution of it's cities. Granted, the report was mainly talking about other cities in China that are *far* worse than Beijing. But the *reason* this report was censored was either because: a) Chinese officials thought the report was already too wordy and bulky, and/or b) these reports would do nothing to inform the populace, it would just cause social unrest. Darn. I didn't look at it that way!

Alright, so maybe I'm peeved that I can no longer watch Star Wars spoofs or video game instructional videos, but all the news about this internet campaign has happened in the *last week*. And it just further validates my conspiracy inspired belief that the repairing of the cables in Taiwan after last year's earthquake was stifled because there was a huge flurry of activity on Baidu and other Chinese sites as a result. GrrrAAH!!

I'm all for Beijing trying to make a good name for itself before the Olympics. I *want* them to do well. I *like* China (mainly the people). Sure, they can be rude. Everything about China is expanding rapidly... almost too rapidly. But why do they have to execute executives almost immediately after being convicted for turning a blind eye on what paints they use for toys? Sure this was bad, but this was a harsh move that makes them look almost barbaric. Why do they have to feel like they need to lie to get people to come here? Why do they have to censor *everything* on the internet and keep people in the dark? Why do they have to block all other websites in order to improve the traffic of their own? The way to compete in business shouldn't be about blocking access to other alternatives. It should be about making *your* alternative the best one! Oh! Guess what else is blocked here? WebMD! W...T...F?!?

Like I said, I do like it here. I like living here. It's neat! The people here are good people! But they have a long way to come to impress the world, I think. And I hate to break it to them, but it won't happen by the time 08/08/08 comes around.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Back in China

Here I am, after a month of relaxation and enjoyment in the US. I ate a whole bunch of stuff while I was there, too. Everything that's sweet in the US is just so much more sweet than anything in China, and as a result I ate them. Ate them all up. I was pleased to find that 3 of the Chinese teachers here commented on how fat I've gotten, and that I can no longer really fit into my pants that I left here.

I can already tell that I've begun to lose what I gained almost instantaneously. I'm not sure if that's a good thing, honestly. This kind of weight fluctuation might upset my homeostasis or something like that.

The time I spent at home was awesome, although I did nothing really while I was there. I just relaxed. It's easy to get lost in a loop of doing nothing around there, which was fine for me. But now that I'm back, I've started to think about why exactly I'm here.

This enters my mind nearly every day. Why am I here? Not, you know, here on this Earth. But literally, here in China? Some days I think it's because of the challenge, some days because I want to experience a vastly different culture, and some days I even think it's because things are often so absolutely absurd here that I can't help but laugh at it... to myself. That's right, sometimes I think I'm in China just to laugh at it. That makes people who come here just to some exotic Asian action seem more justified than me! Ok, maybe not.

I have never settled on one answer, and another thing that I constantly think about is that if I go to an interview, be it job or school, I know they're going to ask something similar. Why did you spend 2 years in China? What am I supposed to say? To find myself? To grow as a human person on this world? Or should I say that I'm impulsive and get bored often of one place to the point where I can't stay there for more than 2 years in a row without getting jittery. I'm sure they'd love to hear that when they ask where do I see myself in 5 years? "I have no freaking clue... um... South Africa? Maybe? Somewhere where this company ain't, I can tell ya that!". Yeah that will look really good.

I just hope that by the time I do interview somewhere, I'll have figured out what the hell I'm doing here. I mean, I think the problem is that there are too many reasons why I'm here. They keep coming to me, and every time I think of one, it's accurate and true. I can only think of a handful of reasons not to be here.

Anyway, classes start tomorrow and it should be exciting. I can't wait to see last year's bunch, and the new lot as well. I'm sure it will be a very interesting year.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hot dog!

Well, it's summer. And it's hot as heck. It's a different kind of hot than I'm used to. I'm accustomed to the heat that hits your from the sun, and then does it's damage. I'm not used to the city heat, which isn't so bright, but just gets trapped in the layer of *ahem* "fog" that's in Beijing and just, ya know, kinda cooks you a little. It stays hot at night, which is highly discouraging.

Let me be honest for a bit as well... I haven't updated my blog in awhile. Like, two months. I have excuses at the ready. I *love* excuses. I'm full of them. They're the lifeblood of any fella out there who calls himself a procrastinator. But these excuses are good, because I think I'm over them... you'll see what I mean.

I like the comics. I like drawing. I like taking pictures and videos. But now that I've drawn two whole comics, and put pictures up, I feel like I *always* have to do that. In order to make each entry scintillating. After all, some people may read this and think, "Ooh a webjournal about life in China! It must be chock full of interesting tidbits of travel, like www.wherethehellismatt.com and his excursions around the globe!" Lemme tell ya, there's a big difference in travelling in China and living here. When you've been here for nearly a year, it becomes a home (Not *the* home, don't even think I'm calling it my home, Mom!). Thus, it becomes something that isn't as romantic as it started out. Sure, it's still quite exciting, and there are still things that shock and fascinate me about how different they are from the U.S., but I feel like I have to constantly prove how wonderful and full of uniqueness living in China is. I can't always do that. Especially when I spend most of my time working, playing video games, and trying to watch as many movies about zombies as I can.

So, anyway, enjoy those excuses, k?

Next year will be quite different. It sounds like I'll be teaching less, and working on highly interesting projects. This is intensly exciting for me. Also, I hope to cut out this whole "work-a-full-day-on-freaking-saturday" BS that I've done since October. I really, really think that was a bad idea in retrospect. Sure it was more money and all, but it made me dread the weekends. And dreading the weekend is nearly blasphemous in my opinion. So, screw it, I say. I want my Saturdays back.

Alright, as you can see. No pictures. No comics. Just boring text. Thanks for playing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Policeman Remind

Click on it to hugify.

There it is. The new comic, for all to see. I feel so vulnerable, but at least it's not even not much worse than the last one, I suppose. I think that maybe my comicking is mainly for personal venting, and may make me laugh, but that's all I'm after anyway. Catharsis.

This one is about the recent news of the WTO tightening its grip on piracy in China. While, in theory, I'm against stealing for the reason that maybe might possibly I'll sent to eternal damnation with the thieves, murderers and whoremongers (see Revelations 21:8... Thanks alot Mrs. Norris), I can't help but wonder what will happen to the entertainment avenues in China as a whole. I mean, where will people get there fun without it involving The Rock and/or special effects in some way? Mahjong? Friendly social outings with other human beings?! PLEASE! Also, the comic is a throwback to the hilariously mistranslated sign about not being a thief in Zhongguancun.

Anyway, recently we had a party in honor of Cory and Dave's Tax Day/Birthday Extravaganza and it was a boatload of fun. Lots and lots compadres from work showed up, representing both countries, and we had good times with the completely and totally legit Nintendo Wii and games that I bought totally LEGALLY! (Just wanted to make that clear). It's amazing to see someone who's never played it pick up the remote, examine it intently, and then proceed to flick it around with incredible uncertainty. It brought to mind that scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey, when the monkey-men (fresh from their session with the brain-boosting monolith) start realizing they can use tools for the first time. Yeah, not exactly the nicest comparison to make of my friends... with movie-monkeys. But if it makes it better, I went through the same process, except I was in an EBGames surrounded by total strangers.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Positive Role Model For the Children

So the Wii is fun and all, but there are some lines I'm not sure I'm ready to cross. I mean, I've crossed it already, I guess, but I didn't feel comfortable about it once I became self-aware.

I made this as a pilot comic, so to speak. It really didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would have, and I like it personally. As I mentioned ephemerally before, I think some of the more ridiculous scenarios that happen in China or just in general aren't best explained in text form. The absurdity of some situations, I feel, can only be truly expressed (by me personally) in a ridiculous way. I guess this is ridiculous as any.

Back in college times, my friends and I used to draw pictures on each other's dry-erase boards. This was good fun, and it provided an outlet for expressing the aforementioned absurdities of each other's behavior, and/or the absurdities of life. Usually it was done in the passive/aggressive sense, and I could imagine a scenario in which future comics of mine take on this approach at dealing with issues that crop up in life. Funny or not, I think I'll keep doing it. Let me know what you think, though, whoever's out there.

This particular pilot comic (I'm too shy to put it up on the front page yet... I mean, it's pretty rough), as I said before, has nothing to do with China. It's actually something I've caught myself doing before. It's the marriage between a song I've had stuck in my head for the past few days, and playing Godfather: Blackhand Edition for the Wii. I caught myself joyfully crooning the happy (and educational!) song, while participating in gesture-controlled activities such as extorting barbershop owners, smashing up their stores with baseball bats, and subsequently having a shootout with the coppers. Once I realized how jubilant I was behaving while conducting these despicable acts (albiet virtually), I had to take a step back and reevaluate my sanity. After an intensive review, I can safely - and objectively - conclude that I'm still sane. Everyone can relax now.

And just so you know, Mom and Dad will likely know the other time this happened: During Christmas a few years back, they could here cries of anguish from my room while I was mowing down supervillains in No One Lives Forever while whistling jolly Christmas carols. Good times were had by most!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Elite Beat Agents

Here's the link for the stupid game that made me freaking cry. If you want to lose some respect in me, watch this video. Just note that other people have admitted in comments that they cried too! So I'm not alone.

Time to fully surrender my masculinity...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Is that the best you got?!

So the sandstorm hit and OH MY GOD!! Look at the pics!!!



BEFORE THIS LONG POST -- I need to let everyone know that I can post in China right now, but I can't freaking comment. If that's not back-asswards, I don't know what is. But thanks for the comments everyone!

Insanity! It was impossible to breate, much less survive. The mere exposure to the harsh climates peels the coloration from your retinas, inducing a piercing blue tint to your eyes much like the spice in "Dune". Mere surgical masks does little to... umm... delay the inevitable... err...

Ok, April Fools. And a day late, no less.

Of course, the images are photoshopped. Not only photoshopped, but done so in an amateurish way that would make my teachers at the Art Institute disown my one year of intensive artistic training. The sandstorm did nothing. As a matter of fact, the next day was beautiful. Clear skies, clouds, you name it. I think I even saw a blue-bird on someone's shoulder. So much for Beijing living up to the hype. Gah!

Speaking of science-fiction, I've been watching Dr. Who. This campy, yet highly entertaining, new romp in old fashioned sci-fi worlds doubles as a metaphor for traveling. Kind of like how Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy did and yes, I'm sure, the original Dr. Who T.V. series. But this one really has a lot of interesting aspects that equates to what I experience while traveling. With the uncertainty, the culture shock, the exploration, and how they handle contact of one of the main characters with her family back home, who neither know where she is, or when she is. The whole premise is based around traveling through time and space to distant... times and spaces.

The whole purpose of traveling in my personal experience has little to nothing to do with "finding yourself" as many people believe it does, and more with just seeing all you can see, and challenging yourself in ways that you simply can't be challenged academically or physically (not that I frequently challenge myself in the latter). Thrusting yourself into a situation of uncertainty and almost total exclusion from anything you're comfortable with or accustomed to. It's the ultimate in uprooting yourself.

In addition to academic challenges, I feel that this is one of the most worthy endeavors that anyone could do. I need to stress "anyone", because it's not just me that I feel this relates to. Sure, I've loved traveling to the point of scary addiction since the whole European Extravaganza back in aught-2, but I think this experience is oft overlooked as being something that "gets in the way of real life". I, of course, profoundly disagree. Seeing how you handle yourself in these situations, and seeing just how much your own behavior differs from those around you (when you're TOTALLY surrounded by it) allows you to be able to be more aware of your abilities and limitations. Which is why, I must say, I'm especially proud of Ma, Pa, and my dearest older brother, Nukie. They ventured to the lands of the Scots and the Brits, and enjoyed it. I have to be honest, it surprised me a little. Even more of a shock, Dad liked Hong Kong. Hong... Kong. Not just a city, a big ol' city. Full of people. And he only managed to embarrass me only about half the time. Shocking.

Oh, but I ramble. This was mainly a post to say that traveling should be done by all. I don't want to here any moaning about, "Oh, but I can't. It would be nice to travel and piss away my life rambling about the globe, but I've got my future to think about." I got news for you, buddy (er... buddies), especially you younger types. The average amount of time an American changes his or her job is 5 times in their lifetime. At some point during those 5 changes, find some time to travel somewhere and experience all the craziness first hand. Just a few months, maybe a year. If you despise it, at least you'll be better off. Unless you get malaria. Which is why you should go prepared. And who knows?! Maybe you'll FIND yourself!

Friday, March 30, 2007

The End is Nigh

Sandstorm expected to hit tonight and tomorrow. If there's truth to this, expect the next update to have post-apocalyptic fun and joy for all. In photo form. God, sometimes I wish I didn't have to work Saturdays...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Life is extremely weird here

There's no compelling reason for the reason the title is what it is for this update, other than it's the truth.

Living in China is so weird. Always. I mean, almost too weird. Everyone here is pretty dang weird. The majority of the time it's the good kind of weird, with a few dashes of annoying weird. But all in all, fun weird. Which is one of the things I was looking for.

I'm not so much learning how to speak, read, or write Chinese in the formal sense at the moment, but I'm rocking out the understanding what people are saying. And that part is the scariest part. While I was in Zhongguancun getting my Wii tinkered with... umm... wow that just came out wrong. The sad part is I'm afraid of being more specific than that, so lets just say it involves the installation of some hardware to make my Wii better... I'm just going to stop saying Wii. Anyway, I was there being slightly impatient because I had a party to get to. I overheard the local proprietor mention something about me hovering over him like a hawk waiting for him to finish. He said, "laowai" alot, which is what I am. I could tell he was using it in the slightly pejorative sense. So I kind of laughed. Then both shopkeeps looked at me wide-eyed, and said in Chinese, "Does he understand Chinese?!". Bwahaha. I just kind of nodded.

Then a couple of days ago while waiting for my ride to school, I heard the security guard outside the apartment mention to a passerby, "Hey, there's that American standing by the gate." Said passerby turner 'round and stared right at me. I just sort of nodded and acknowledged that I was apparently the subject of great fascination. They both laughed at me of course.

Here in China, if you look like a whitey, you will instigate some incredibly odd behaviors. Ranging from stunned bewilderment to steadfast discrimination, it's always a surprise to me the extremes that many people go to when you're in their presence. While it's funny sometimes, I do feel highly uncomfortable most of the time. Heck, I could swear that my discriminates against me sometimes. I'll be waiting patiently on the eighth floor after hitting the button, and the elevator will come up and pass me by to the tenth floor, and then again on it's way back down. No way is it going to have some burger-eating white devil pushing its buttons with its greasy, hairy fingers. Not in a million years.

So I've been debating making some sort of comic about all the strange happenings in China. Because most of it is so surreal that I feel like it can only be best expressed through some sort of comedic medium. I'm just not convinced that: A.) I'm funny enough, B.) I can draw, or C.) I'd actually do it. Time will tell.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Absolutely Ridiculous

Tonight I got a game for the DS and decided to reward myself after having gone shopping and cleaning my apartment by indulging for a few minutes of quality game time. Please fast forward through this update if you don't want to read about a video game, or may think about playing this game and don't want anything spoiled.

<<<>>>

So I got this game called Elite Beat Agents for the DS, which is one of those rhythm games that I've been enjoying lately. The types of games that make me think that if I really, really wanted to I could dance or have rhythm. But yeah, probably not.

Anyway, I knew that it was a Japanese game, involved manga-style comic book graphics, and was full of cheesy plots and dialogue. It's about a trio of super-secret agents that go around solving people's problems by dancing. By dancing. There apparently isn't a problem that can't be solved by cutting rugs.

So as I expected, most of the levels were hilarious oddities one right after another. You help these ridiculously rich sisters ensure that they can maintain their shallow, materialistic lifestyles after crashing on a deserted island. You help an old-fart oil tycoon who's lost all his money (and his gold-digging wife kicks him out of his mansion) by getting him to be come filthy stinking rich again, and basically "buying" back his wife without a second thought. It was all good fun, which is why I was blind-sided by what happened next...

Spoilers If anyone were ever thinking of getting this game and wants a good surprise, don't read anymore. A story comes up, and the whole ambience of the game becomes somber all of the sudden. It was an episode called "The Christmas Gift". It begins with a happy widdle family getting ready to celebrate Christmas. Daddy's leaving, and daughter says she wants a girl teddy for Christmas. He promises he'll be back for Christmas, and he'll put in a good word with Santa.
Well then, it says, "Six months later..."

The girl mentions something about when Daddy was going to come back. Mommy then says, "He's not coming back, lets not talk about this." That's right, Daddy's freaking DEAD.

Then the music kicks up. It's "You're the Inspiration", by Chicago. In and of itself, the song wouldn't have done anything for me. I mean, Chicago's all good and everything. I have nothing against the musical group, OR the city (I do have something against the movie though). But the context with the little plot of the game caused me to FREAKING CRY! What?!?! I have only cried about a game once. ONCE. And I was thoroughly ashamed by it (It was Final Fantasy III just so you know). Not only that, but no form of media has made me cry in months. It wasn't a single, poetic tear either. There were wells...

So I played through the level, which you can't pause during. The whole song of the level plays as you show your Mom how to keep on living, and that as long as you never forget, he'll always be there. I made it out ok, just to all those who were concerned. And though I had the usual aftermath feeling of being manipulated, I felt especially annoyed that it was a freaking game. Not only a game, a handheld game. That's simply not allowed in my book. I was already embarrassed to admit that I can't not cry during Angels in the Outfield. This is worse. Trust me.

But, that's ok. I stand by my original proclamation that it was because this little story came out of freaking nowhere. It caught me off guard. Just... shut up. Don't look at me!!

<<<>>>

Anyways, everything is ok. I downloaded "You're the Inspiration", so that I never, ever forget. , I'm such a dork.

Ok sorry for the non-China post. I'll post something substantial soon.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Psych!

Whoa! As you may have noticed from the last set of comments, Dr. Hughes and Dr. Pitts commented on my writing! Do you know what this means? They read it! I'm so happy about this, but at the same time I'm going to have to start being more careful with throwing my psychology around with reckless abandon. As a preemptive method to distance myself of any mistakes or flaws in my comments I'd like to go on the record on saying that I write here on a sort of unhindered flow of thoughts. That's why many of my posts may seem (how do I put this?) strange and disjointed.

Now that I feel that I've distanced myself from fault or liability, I may continue! Furthermore, Mariana reads this, so mental note to say one flattering thing about Brazil in my posts.

On that note, I'd like to vent on some issues that I've recently been thinking about.

This semester, we've started having one-on-one teaching sessions with the Chinese TAs here. As some of you may know, when I taught Intro to Psychology at App State, I realized that it is the first real job I've had that I've actually loved. I'm not bashing carpentry, HR guys, technical assistance, Blockbuster, hotel front desks, or Old Navy (well, maybe some of those), but I really felt like I gave my all with teaching. It was like going to class and leading a discussion everyday! So after doing that for two years, I knew that I really liked it. I didn't realize until recently that it's likely what I want to do for the rest of my life (apart from traveling). Once I started these little classes, I immediately went into teacher mode and started presenting the topics we have to talk about. I just feel way more comfortable than, say, appeasing snooty hotel guests with a fake smile plastered on my face.

That said, it's more clear to me that I want to go back and get a PhD now. That was something I was definately struggling with before. I remember many of my professors presented me with the idea of that possible career choice, but I kind of shrugged it off. The idea kind of intimidated me at first.

In China, however, there doesn't seem to be a lot of interest in psychology. That is, real psychology. When I mention that I have my masters in psychology here, a lot of people seem to kind of be taken aback by it. I've actually had (Chinese) people my age outright ask me why I chose a field that was basically worthless. Many seem to see psychology and even human resources as a bunch of gobbledygook and hocus-pocus (not their words exactly). It can get a little old, as it has come from quite a few people, but I miss people being ok with it. I miss people thinking it's useful, and not just a bunch of common sense.

Anyway, just a little rant. Not China related exactly. I'll mark it as such.

By the way, I bet Brazil is awesome!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Hong Kong

So we went to Hong Kong, you know? We as in Dad and I. We left after about three weeks of American good times of eating fast food and watching movies and such. Home was good, and I did some very home like things. I had nightmares before I left that Atari (my cat) was pissed off at me for leaving her alone and all. I was happy to know that she didn't seem to hold a grudge.

The flight over was easily the best flight I've had out of the three. The time pretty much flew by (get it? Like a plane...) since there were a lot of empty seats. I was able to actually lie down. You can't beat that. Those fancy-pants first class losers did not know the simply joy of taking up
three seats. My time was divided nicely into watching movies, watching Buffy on the Mp3 player, and playing hefty amounts of DS games. It's amazing how long it takes for Sudoku to get old, I'm tellin' ya.

When we got to Hong Kong, everything was pretty easy to navigate. Once we found Nam and her Mom, we got on the train and made our way for the city. Almost everything I saw in Hong Kong was significantly more friendly than Beijing. It was easier to get around, people didn't spit everywhere, and the air was so freaking clean. I was impressed. Like,
car wash, impressed (NOTE: The writer of this e-chron profusely apologizes for the very inside joke he just made, that basically two people will get [Nicole and Rachel, I'm lookin' at you] and will, henceforth, refrain from doing such things.)

Let me go on the record for saying that I'm not badmouthing Beijing. I love both cities for different reasons. And although it's hard to quantify, I'll do my best to explain with a tenuously applicable analogy. Hong Kong is like a cute little kitten. Very clean, very likeable, and you fawn over almost everything about it. Beijing is like a gross little pug. It's so ugly and comically uncouth at times that it's simply endearing for all the opposite reasons. Honestly it sounds like an insult, but really it's not. By the way, this is the dog that came to mind with the Beijing analogy.

Hong Kong was honestly, though, like all of the best aspects of China and Britain all smushed together into one ball of deliciosity. They had freakin'
Ribena there. How could I not love it? Anyway, Nam's parents were totally awesome too. They showed us around everywhere, and always had stuff to do. They were such good hosts. They always had stuff to do for us, one of which involved gambling in Macau, however, which was my first true experience doing such. It wasn't a good one really. I mean, I don't really like giving money to a machine for shortly lived gratification. Unless it's in an arcade. Which, of course, is a totally different thing... shut up.

So some highlights of the trip included hitting one of my short list of things I actually really, really wanted to see in China. The big ol' Buddha on a mountain. It was pretty freaking awesome, especially the approach. You could see him way up on the mountain in the background.

This honestly was my favorite part of the trip. The countryside was misty and mysterious looking, and I'm a big fan of mist. Because mist = humidity. Humidity = easy breathing and less sore throats. What can I say? I'm a big fan of water. Only when you breath it though...

Also apparently, inside this Buddha is like a crystal that is sacred. When the Buddha was burned, several parts of his body were unburnable and crystalized. Apparenty there are a few thousand that exist somewhere in the world, and each one hold's the unique property to appear as a different color depending who looks like it. Which makes me think that Dad's old BMW is somehow one of the crystals. No one can decide if it's green or grey.

We also went to the aforementioned Macau. This is where the gambling went down. I liked all parts of the trip except for the gambling parts. Macau was interestingly a mish-mash of European city and Chinese city, which I guess makes sense since it was owned by Portugal for a bit (hehe, sense since). I really dug the layout of the city, it was pretty.

Not to say that I didn't
like the gambling. It was interesting. But in the way I thought pigeons pecking keys at to get food despite increasingly diminishing returns was interesting. Which was essentially the same thing. One of those moments when I really thought that the argument that Skinner's research was faulty because it assumed that pigeons and humans behaved in the same way wasn't completely unfounded. People were freakin' zombies in there. There was one poor, poor soul making round after round to several roulette tables dropping thousand of Hong Kong dollars every 10 minutes or so. What a tool.

I'll talk more Hong Kong later, please allow this last post to sink in. Savor it, for it is the finest wine of online life-chronicling. Take it in, swish it, and spit it out. Just, you know, don't do it anywhere near me. I'm sick of spit.



Monday, February 26, 2007

Back in Action

The echronicling shall once again commence. Now that they scooped the giant internet cable up from the bottom of the ocean and duct-taped it back together, internet seems to be running free of any serious earthquake related hitches.

Thanks a bundle for the continued reading and compliments, everyone. It really means something to me. I'll let you figure out what that something is.

The trip home was quite successful. One of my favorite things about family and friends is how easy it is to just jump right back in so easily. I was expecting to be bombarded with a barrage of questions about China. The ones that can't really be answered, like, "So how's China?" I'll answer it here, just so that it's consolidated: Not bad, how's America?

So I jumped right back in, e.g. Luke was making jokes and tormenting me not minutes after meeting at the airport (and vice versa), Mom and Dad we're being very parenty (*sigh* Damnit Buffy), which was great, Nicole and I went on a caper to acquire a Wii, and Rachel, Nicole and I had ridiculous fun flailing around like a bunch of fruitcakes, with constant grins plastered to our faces. Jess and I went to get coffee at Legal Grounds, and that was just like old times up in Boone. Good times.

I really was bummed that I couldn't make it out to Atlanta or Wilmington to see Justin and Ryan/Laura respectively. It was just such a short, action-packed visit that I couldn't seem make that drive work, partially because of having a somewhat more abbreviated stay due to the fact that Pa and I went to Hong Kong during that time.

There were so many other people I wanted to see, though. I feel bad that I couldn't see all of them. Maybe I can make an informal and extremely early invite to some sort of "party" or "hootenany" when I come back in July. I think that might make a guy like me happy. But everyone is so freaking busy. Damn you, life!

So... not much else to say right now. The Hong Kong journey will be documented once I get my brain wrapped around the fact that I hav... er... get to teach this week. So, you can go back to reading my typings if you want...

I'll just be waiting here...

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*Looks at watch*

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Decisions, decisions.

The time has come in which Ms. Wang and co. are beginning to ask everyone if they're going to stay at Carden or not. This is causing me great strife, thusly I thought, "Where better a place to express such a conundrum that my vary own E-Chronicle webular site?". Indeed, so it shall be doneth.

First I'll start with a long chain of causation leading up to the aforementioned conundrum. It begins with the other school. This school is where I work on Saturdays and sometimes Sundays. This school is no Carden. And I mean that in the most pejorative sense. Schedules are wacky, the head fella is unreliable and kind of invasive, and one teacher said to me today after asking my name again that she almost doesn't bother remembering names any more because teachers leave so often and frequently that she's stopped bothering. All this adds up to lead to a over-generalized conclusion that Carden is a cushy job. Every aspect is better on the Carden side, and that makes me wonder just how much of a roll of the dice getting a job in China is. There in bold lies conundrum number one. I like the China Challenge of living here and such, but is it worth it to keep a job that is irrelevant to my major just for the sake of comfort and predictability? Watch how seamlessly this segues into my next issue.

Ever since I received the psych books from home, I've been perusing them quite a bit. Two things constantly strike me: That I very sorely miss psychology and research related activities (shockingly) and that I am getting rusty. This indicates that if I'm to stay here, I have to find something more relevant to my degree than teaching adorable little children. This can be done, I know it. And there's a possibility that it can be achieved at Carden as well, but I absolutely must do it. Although it pains me to think about leaving the little tykes, I will have to do it. And I will do it, I'm just hoping that whomever takes the reins of the class better not undo all that I've done. Related to this who psych mess...

One day, while being worn out after class, I was rewatching season 7 of Buffy because I loved it that much (I could write an entire e-chron counting the ways I loved it, but that has been done countless times I'm sure). Anyway, as I lay there eating Kit-Kats and drinking super-sweetened green tea, I passed out. I proceeded to have one of the most vivid dreams I've ever had here. In this dream, Xander appeared to me much in the same way Jesus or God has appeared to prophets of the past. Only, it was Xander. From Buffy. Xander told me that I should really stop living like a slovenly bachelor and figure out what I should do next. This motivated me in many ways to get to work on deciding what I'm going to do. Annnd... much less graceful segue to...

If I stay here, I'm going to have to learn to stop breathing.

That's about it for now that I can think of. There are many pros and cons about staying or leaving. I like Carden quite a bit, and the people I work with, and I want to learn the language more than I have. I like Beijing, and I like the challenge associated with living here. But I don't like the weather, pollution, and (above all) the lack of degree-related work.

By the way, if you didn't want to read someone griping about life choices, please don't read the above.