Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fucking Convenience

So it's true that for the last couple years i've been trying to avoid air travel out of concern for the environment.

i often have the luxury of time which has allowed me to do so free of complaint.

And there have also been times, such as the recent cancellation of my Japan flight, which did cause significant inconvenience and monetary penalty.

Maybe i have made myself into an example for others, and maybe that's a problem.

One time i felt like my coworkers were attacking me for my decision to cancel my flight, as understandably they may have felt like i was condemning their own flights as environmentally terrible.

And in fact i do think all flights are just that, but that's nothing i said to them. Truthfully, i just did so for my own peace of mind, and to rid myself of the feeling that i was being a hypocrite.

i have a lot of trouble in trying to factor in how my own ego affects everything. Is it the hypocrisy in the eyes of myself or others that causes me discomfort? How much of each one? Don't know.

Tonight Q has suggested that she doesn't want to take a 9 hr train to Dalian, in favour of a 1 hr plane ride that's not that much more expensive. It put me in a bad mood. Ok, maybe it wastes too much time; ok maybe the train will be dirty; ok maybe it's very inconvenient for her, and inconvenient for her to come to the train station.

i refrained from making any argument because maybe any argument i would make would equally be an argument from a self-righteous ego. i was silent for a bit and then said ok, albeit in a grumbly way. Eventually i suggested maybe just taking the train one way back to BJ.

There's no doubt that when i fly i feel pretty guilty and shitty about it. i also feel that hey, i've flown a plenty in 35 yrs on this planet, and am more responsible for more than my fair share of carbon emissions. Who the fuck am i to tell others not to fly? So i don't. People can and will do whatever the fuck they want. Sorry if people take offense to my decisions.

This seems a lot bigger than the eating veg thing. It seems so extreme to people that i want to fly less. It's practically unheard of. I don't want to be extreme. i have zero f'ing desire to be a guy who you can't travel with, or who's a pain in the ass to deal with. i dunno, i feel kinda alone in this, however that happened.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Copin' Hagen

Um, i feel like the best you can do is believe what you read. And i read a lot of different things. Pros. Cons. China fucked it up. The USA was no action. Copenhagen screwed everything up beforehand in how it set up meetings.

And at least a few articles saying, huge steps taken none the less.

My own moods swayed considerably depending on whatever article i fell into. i too am disappointed. i too had hoped for much more.

i felt a bit pissed off at living in the very country who had held things back considerably. i feel angry at China and any other country who (understandably) puts the welfare of its own people above that of humanity and every bloody living creature on the bloody planet.

i also feel pissed off that it's no coincidence that China hasn't got much internal pressure to push hard for enviro safeguarding. That is to say, the public consciousness of the issues at hand aren't well understood by the general population. Because... the media here is worse than it is back home.

And people who don't know much about China or global enviro issues definitely don't know about some distant faraway city called Copenhagen. Funny that. 'Cause China generally likes to boast about how important and international it is, but when Premier Wen Jiabao goes to Copenhagen, it's not hyped much. Ok, it's not hidden from the news, but you can't expect the People's Daily to say ANYTHING negative about China, just like you can't expect The Province to say anything bad about logging or whatever.

Anyhow, so people say we have made progress, but we have a long way to go still. Others were saying that Copenhagen was now or never. Unfortunately we'll have to wait until climate change gets so ugly that we're forced into our next international summit.

When it happens, i imagine i'll just keep my fingers crossed and tend my compost.

Death Penalties

Well, the Briton got it.
Caught smuggling 4kg of heroin into China, the reported mentally ill man got a lethal injection.




China executed 1,718 people in 2008, according to Amnesty International
Last year 72% of the world's total executions took place in China, the charity estimates
It applies to 60 offences, including non-violent crimes such as tax fraud and embezzlement
Those sentenced to death are usually shot, but some provinces are introducing lethal injections


China defended itself stating, "The amount of heroin he brought into China was 4,030g, enough to cause 26,800 deaths, threatening numerous families."

Maybe they had a point in that noone was able to show them any medical record of his condition, but they never assessed him either.

I'm not one for the death penalty myself, but at least i think China's more efficient at it, which should be a relief for tax-payers.

Sad for the man and his family anyhow.

Everything cited from bbc.com

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Um, Scratch that last post, sorry

First, i should say that one of the reasons i was dallying on the last post was the very fact that issues about the break up felt... unresolved. i felt hesitant to talk about it w/ people since i didn't really know where things were at since Q had called communications to a halt, and i was trying to practice a bit of patience.

Then on xmas eve, i got a txt from her saying i could crash at her apt i was downtown and needed a place to sleep. FYI, Christmas eve is a big party, club, and KTV night in China. Go figure.

It looks like me and Q are together again.

This is the 1st time that i have gotten bk together w/ someone post break up. However, i should note that it didn't feel like much of a break up since i never knew exactly what the reasoning was for her decision.

i too was a bit passive in the affair, since at that point i felt like i wasn't capable of investing much more into it than i was.

However.

When we met up that evening, it felt like i was talking to the Qianqian i had fallen in love with. We talked quite a lot this wkend about things, and how we felt, and about concerns and worries for our relationship. i admit i still have some reservations about how things may play out in the future, but for now, i have enough faith in things to see where we can go.

And i'm happy to see Q also reconnecting w/ her friends, after a stint of seclusion. Eating regularly. All good signs.

Also, i find it strange that at least two people had said, "Well, maybe you'll get back together," after i'd shared the latest. Odd, i thought.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

And So This Is Christmas

Um, sorry i've been not so blabby as of late. Been taking a bit of time digest and figure out what i'm thinking about, aka working and doing not much of anything exciting.

Almost a wk ago, Q and i let our relationship fizzle out. She'd been at times crazily despondent, and though i know she has had difficulties with emotions, i felt like it was difficult for me to put much more energy than i was into the relationship.

After a particularly trying night, she suggested we split up, and i found myself strangely ambivalent about it.

Shame, because she really is great, she could also be someone i don't recognize so well. The person i fell in love with wasn't showing up very often in the last couple months, that's for sure. i felt a bit selfish, but i didn't feel so attached to this new Q.

i have since become a cancellation machine.

After canceling my plane ticket to Japan, i decided to have a trip to Dalian for the xmas long weekend. Originally me and Q were planning to go for NYE, but i decided that it would be better to get the hell out of town sooner rather than later, just to keep myself busy. Then i found out that my friend's going away party is this Saturday. i decided to skip the party, but then had a dream about my friend reiterating that she wanted me to come so i canceled the tix. Then i woke up, and she reiterated that she wanted me to come, so i canceled the tix.

There's a staff xmas eve dinner, but i can't say i ever felt any urge to attend it: especially since the chinese staff bigwigs will be in attendance, and hanging out w/ that gang is NOT the way i want to chill out, even if a few other western staff are there commiserating in their xmas in a strange and distant from family situation.

In fact, i feel a bit blessed in that earlier i was kinda dreading an xmas of killing time, but the few people i know in this city have invited me out to hang out.

On that note, i should say that i feel splitting w/ Q leaves a massive gaping hole in my social life. We did spend a fair bit of time together, but often at the exclusion of hanging out w/ other people. She could be very critical of people, and didn't like some of my friends, or even her own. Not ideal i guess. i kinda like meeting and hanging out w/ people. But now i feel a bit unsure about my life in bj, and the plan to move dntn next year. i think about the millions of people, surrounded by crowds, yet living in awkward desolation. (Thanks, Morrissey).

At any rate, i'm not feeling so christmasy this year, despite showing xmas cartoons to couple classes today, and pissing off students by telling no, we weren't going to have fun; we were gonna take notes on a powerpoint about the Hudson Bay Company and the Canadian Deed of Surrender, and did you know that the HBC is only interested in money, and even at christmas they didn't want to share or have fun, but the Metis wanted to sing christmas carols and have fun, but the HBC said no; if HBC was alway being mean, is that bad? So then at christmas some ghosts came out to scare HBC...

That's my monologue intro to Mickey's Christmas Carol.

So, Merry Christmas, everyone. Haha, you can say that in China, and noone bats an eye.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Japan transportation woes

So.
Originally i wanted to go to Japan for Spring Festival. Then i got invited to Q's hometown. But then she determined that she only gets a wk off for break (vs my 4 wks) so she figures i might as well exploit Japan.

So i will. Egged on by newly disclosed details about bizarre sleeping arrangements in her parents household.

Anyhow. So i chked on flights and found something that looked reasonable, and convenient.

the next day, i was talking w/ my chinese coworker about it, and about how i usually try to avoid flying because of carbon emissions. She translated this for a handful of people, and they all started laughing, which rather disheartened me.

Then to try and explain why it's a problem i did a slight bit of websurfing and sent her this ad.



Later i explainer to her what it was about/meant. i commented," maybe i'm worse than most people 'cause i know it's bad, but i still fly sometimes."

And then lying in bed last night at 3am, i decided to cancel my plane ticket in exchange for a train and a ferry to Japan. A 4 wk holiday affords me the luxury of time to kill, thankfully. And frankly, 4 wks even in the cheapest of Japanese hostels adds up to a considerable sum.

Otherwise, the switch from skies to waters isn't really saving tons of money, but the boat trip will pbly be nice anyhow.

My apologies to the fish dealing w/ the effluents and sewage.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

i ching therefore i am


My brother has sworn by the i ching for some time. It's a bit like tarot cards, but its of chinese origin, and it involves the tossing of sticks (traditionally) or more commonly the tossing (spinning) of coins to represent hexagrams. It takes 18 spins, and then you can punch the results into a website, which serves up the reading from the book.

i have generally abstained from using it simply because i rarely have questions i want answered that time won't serve up the answer for sooner or later anyhow.

However.

i recently have found myself in some uncertain waters.

Hence i used the i ching to at least let me know if i was reading a situation wrong or if the action i was considering was misled.

Anyhow, the reading i got looked to be SPOT ON. Although i did chk in w/ my bro to make sure i wasn't misinterpreting it. Later, Q confirmed that it was a strangely accurate description of a situation.

Sorry to hold bk the entirety of the situation, but i just wanted to report that the reading really let me relax about something which ordinarily would seem to be serious cause for concern.

i checked in w/ it one other time, and the reading was less obvious: took more time to tease the meaning out, but yet again, the reading was totally appropriate, and a positive confirmation about what i was thinking of.

So. If you find yrself w/ a question, you may try this out.
http://www.eclecticenergies.com/iching/realcoins.php

i do wonder about how it works. Is the I ching god different from the Tarot god? Carl Jung used it extensively and he postulated that synchronicity was its mechanism.

Feel free to drop me a line, if you want any more details about how to use it. Since now that i've used it a whopping two times, i'm obviously an expert.


pic from http://www.zaporacle.com

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Gossip

So when you plop a handful of kookie teachers into a city suburb where they can't socialize very well outside of their circle, and take into acct that most of them are in their 20's and a generally good looking bunch of young men and women... then stuff happens.

Which is to say that they meet other people outside of the circle and stuff happens. And stuff happens inside of the circle and stuff happens. And the truthiness of things told is occasionally suspect, regarding different issues of interest to all of us professionally (really) and otherwise.

Anyhow, i'm far from "in the loop."
But one person does pass on info to me now and again.
To which i generally respond, "i don't know if i should know about that."
In many ways i wish i didn't know, as it changes my perceptions of people/person who, via my own experience, i have no opinion.
So i wonder if that stuff changes my dynamic w/ said person/people. Dunno.

i admit some of the info is stupendously entertaining and fascinating. As i understand it: there was a "leak". Somebody told somebody a secret, but the burden of the secret was too great to bear for said individual. It kinda puts a spin on things where the secret teller was the victim, not the guilty party.

i usually lend my ears after hearing something like,"s/he never told me it was a secret," or, "it doesn't matter if you hear it or not."

Which may or may not be true.

Dunno.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Day 30: Analysis


Huh, well that was actually easier than i thought it'd be: 1 post daily this month. Although on wkends i only slightly bent the rules, as i was sometimes had no internet access.

Anyhow, let's look at Status Red's readership over the years.

Hm, there's a massive spike in readers for last yr's 3rd quarter. i can only assume that people dig a good break up, as i can't fathom any other explanation. It's true: there was a lot more drama and wall-punching etc going on bk in those dreamy days.

And admittedly things are tapering off, but hey: the months not over yet! Call in now! YOU can make a DIFFERENCE! YOU can take this once in a lifetime opportunity to ready, yes read somebody's thoughts about their own life!

And i do often wonder who the heck reads this thing: "Hey you over in Newton Upper Falls, Massachusetts! What's up? Does Matt Damon still hang around the corner sometimes?"

Well i know i'm no Perez Hilton, but it's still cool to know that people i know and a few i don't for some bizarre reason have an interest in my rants and meanderings. And all that without acute descriptions of cysts or pubic hair!

But why? Maybe in spring it was entertaining as i dated a bizarrely long string of women. But frankly, even i know that occasionally the writing's less than effervescent. Ah well.

Knowing that there's at least 4.5 people out there following, i'd pbly write it pretty much the same. For now i've shelved the idea of writing part/full time next year, since the teaching work has gotten more livable.

Although, i do have one writing project on the back burner: one that's so damning, incriminating, and bloody well embarrassing that it's never hit the www, nor would it likely ever be published under my real name. If i could find anyone to publish the damn thing. Um, i dunno. i pbly shouldn't even mention it.

Oops.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day 29: Just the asides

Personal crises aside, i did have a nice time meeting up with a friend for meditation and a bit of a jam session, him using his guzheng: a traditional chinese instrument that's a bit like a table guitar. Anyhow, there's postulation that we could throw together some songs and play a show or something. It was all rather catchy, if i do say so myself.

Later that night we met up for a bluegrass show. Who woulda thunk that you'd find 7 laowai up on stage doing some rather good ol' americana tunes.

Day 28: Serious Question

If someone seriously needs to see a doctor, but hates hospitals and doctors, then what possible action can one take to get the alleged to the req'd professional help?

The only answer i've come up with is: nothing. Which is a pretty ineffective and shitty answer.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day 26: Nothing Day

Too deadened to even appreciate the weekend.
No plans.
No exorbitant amounts of impending hilarity.
A horrific pile of work in my bag to mark.

i sound like a bit of a downer today.
Sorry.

Day 26: Squush Gets A Surprise


Squush the Slug was nicely well-rounded and minimally happier than the other garden slugs. Every evening he would wake up and curiously sniff away at anything he could leave a tasteless slime trail on.

Generally he would just nibble away at the grasses, and sometimes exchange sperm with passerby slugs.

The ladybugs and the ants all get along with him. Even the grumpy caterpillars thought he was a alright.

Sometimes the aphids or beetles would disclose details of their personal lives, or the lives of others to Squush, and Squush would generally keep things to himself, even stuff that impacted his life directly and he wanted to talk or write about it.

Then one day Squush got a message from Blogger saying:
"Some readers of this blog have contacted Google because they believe this blog's content is objectionable. " So he peeked at the Content Policy and was still kinda confused. He assessed his blog.

No adult content
No child porn
No hate speech
No [particularly] crude content
No violence
No impersonating others
No use of other's personal info.

Hm.

Ok. Copyright violation? Maybe. Squush had likely used images and omitted to give credit.
Possibly he could get nailed for using the Ohlympic mascots w/out proper permission.

Squush wished there was a specific complaint about the content of his blog.
So until then, he will continue on and see if anyone pulls out the pesticide.

Hopefully there'll be no trouble before he completes the last few days of Nablopomo.

Squush kindly requests that if anyone knows what the objectional material is, that they let him know, because the only material Squush wants is decomposing organic material.

Good luck, Squush!


Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Arion_lusitanicus_eating.jpg.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day 25: A statusq By Any Other Name

In the 1st mandarin course i ever took, my teacher told me to ask my parents for a chinese name. After a strangely long absence of reply, i learned that they had been squabbling about it for weeks. My dad had made suggestions, and my mom had found them all inappropriate, then they would both get all annoyed about it.

Eventually i just said to my dad (who is the mandarin speaker of the 2) "Look, i don't care. Just give me a name. My teacher's been hassling me about it."

So he suggested 3, from which i like Wang Hui Ping. Cool, no prob. and the name has something to do with Equality, which resonates with my libran nature. Good.

But.

Enter China, people here pretty much unanimously giggle and state that
a) it sounds like a girl name
and
b) it doesn't suit me.

Furthermore, they think the name's a bit odd.

Ok, i don't really care about a) since i'm pretty confident in my masculinity for a dude who others consider to be pretty metro.

But a bunch of people who's judgement i trust don't think the name's very appropriate for me. It's pretty old-fashioned, they say.

So i may shortly mention it to my parents that (yet again) i'm going to change my name. i hope they don't mind so much. They found it to be a bit annoying the 1st time i did that when i was 20 or something.

Anyhow.
i'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 24: In With The New, Out With The Old

It's kinda cool that when you walk around the city, or the suburbs, you can often see people dancing in any chunk of flat paved service, where 1 or 2 or 3 people have lugged out a stereo system to pound out the beats.

Usually it's older couples doing some sort of waltz-y dance to traditional songs, though it's also common to hear 90's dance music, salsa, or even Indian bhangra.

Also, you can catch people doing very traditional sort of chinese line dancing, waving scarves or flags or pompoms or something in unison. Maybe 25 of 'em (98.4% women, i believe) will jilt around in symmetrical patterns as 3 old guys will bang on drums and play a horn. They often wear traditional costumes to do this, regardless of swiftly dropping temperatures. You may even be lucky enough to catch a guy in drag, as (similar to Elizabethan times) women didn't take to the stage.

Anyhow, as i was walking past with my bro last time, deciding i wasn't interested enough to stay and watch, i realized that these people are on the tail end of a dying art. Once they've passed on, hardly anyone will continue their tradition of social gathering and dance. That's a shame, since there's a richness in it, even if i don't feel like joining the line and dancing in the same circle for 15 minutes on end, as they do.

after that, i felt kind of sad about it. But i still walked away.

Oh well, cultures die and change. What else is new. Maybe people will continue on in the public spaces with the bhangra or something.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 23: God, Another Post About Food


Since i've come to China, i've eaten

Durian. I tried eating it a decade ago, and honestly tried to, but i just couldn't get this fruit which stank to high heavens of putrifying toes close enough to my mouth. However, when purchased pre-peeled and prepared, the fruit itself tastes mild and pleasant as promised.

Century eggs. My dad used to eat these blackified gelatinous eggs when i was a kid. i always thought it smelled pretty good w/ the tofu and sesame oil, but fuck did they look rank. However, now i don't care much, and can happily eat them, though preferably cut into small pieces as a garnish rather than the main event.

Frogs legs. i recall once being served them as a kid, and being stoked to eat the stuff which smelled like awesome chicken, but when i was informed about the amphibious extremities, it's like a concrete wall had sprung up between the steaming meat and my face. Can't say i dug it much. Too much bone and cartiledge. Tastes a bit like... chicken. Imagine that.

i've always been game to have a bite of dog, which is particularly common in the korean restaurants, but noone i know ever orders it. Apparently a bunch of the dog meat served in restaurants comes from strays. A bit creepy. Maybe later, who knows.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 22: Barefoot Gen


For my birthday, i was stoked to receive from my brother a couple graphic novels which i've been interested in for a long time, about life in Hiroshima before and after the holocaust.

He read the largely autobiographical Barefoot Gen some time ago, and reported that he had to stop reading it before bed because it started giving him such bad dreams. i heard a detail or 2 about a physically and emotionally devastated population of people who had no idea what radiation was or the sickness it inflicted. Anyhow, my interest was piqued.

i finished book one recently, and concur, the book is hard to put down. Even before the bomb, life in wartime Japan was hellish enough, particularly if your father doesn't support the wall, your family is labeled traitors, the father is badly beaten by the police, children are constantly fighting over food, etc etc.

It's all pretty intense, and the narrative is overflowing with details about the stress and trauma of wartimes. And that's all before Little Boy, made its descent on its unsuspecting victims, whereupon life takes a turn for the horrific. An immense flash of heat turns people into monsters with their skin all dripping off their faces and bodies, stumbling through a flattened city to find water, loved ones, and racing fire.

Anyhow. Sorry if i spoiled it. There's a big bomb that happens near the end. Of book 1. There's 9 parts more to follow.

Also, i'm keen to go to Japan sooner or later, and Hiroshima was already pretty high on my list of locales.

If you can find it, it's def worth a read.

Day 21: Great, Just Great.

Q is out of town for work this wkend. Last night got quite drunk w/ a bunch of foreigner teachers, only 1 of whom works in my school. The others are from the other neighbourhood school. Some of whom i never met before. All quite young. Anyhow, it was pretty fun, considering we didn't even leave the 'hood.

Woke up w/ a bit of a hangover (though nothing near as bad as before), and went out to the great wall on a staff field trip. i think most staff was a bit hung over from people's various outings last night.

Anyhow, after many trips to the wall, i have finally got to get out of bounds onto some really crumbly falling apart at the lack of mortar great wall. Set out solo (since everyone else was too f'ing busy chatting ans stopping to take pix. And most people didn't go out of the in-zone anyhow) . I covered some distance and eventually found a sunny spot on top of one of the towers and sat peacefully nibbling on roasted chestnuts.

The end.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 19: Lazy Mofo

UBC tuition paid off in full, thx to the VPN client internet access they provide alumni. Which allows me to waste horrendous amounts of time trying to find something entertaining, but also granting me access to fabuloso videos such as this:


So rad.

And since i'm on the topic of music videos, did you see that Taylor Swift vid that won the MTV Best Female Video award? God, what piece of melted shit that was. Me and my bro watched it, and we both had that queasy feeling in our gut as a result.

Think Avril Lavigne but way cheezier and countrified and way way WAY more cliche'd. F'ing bad. And so ever since seeing the vid, i think Kanye's "jack-ass" behaviour was pretty much justified. i can't say the Beyonce video really makes me sweat, but it's not half bad, i'll admit.

Ok. Enough about that. i think it's a faux-pas to talk about this stuff more than 2 weeks after the event, right?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 18: Mad William


I was pumped to watch Mad Max last night, 'cause i had this feeling it would be rad, but despite some visual style, really it was pretty dumb. (Yeah yeah, go ahead and shake your heads).

In fact, i was thinking of the next flick Mad Max 2: the Road Warrior, a flick where Max shares a can of Alpo with his dog, where guys tear through the desert in vehicles slapped together from scrap metal and wreckage, wearing the remnants of civilization, and killing themselves over an oil tanker truck.

Because a while ago, a coworker commented to me that he was stoked for the future to come: to a time when people by choice or necessity had pulled their shit together and created carbon neutral civilization, all public transit, etc. Yes, a nice dream, but i felt it a bit naive.

'Cause despite my optimistic outlook on many things, i don't believe humanity can get it together in time to avoid ecological catastrophe. Yes, of course there's some smart motherfuckers out there, who will make their little eco-havens, replete with solar powered wi-fi.

But there's no doubt in my mind that millions of people and governments will not be able to even come close to getting their shit together in time.

Which i imagine will make for a very dangerous situation of Haves and Have Nots. And then it dawned upon me that Mad Max might turn out to be prophetic.

Mad Max 2 begins with a prologue backstory; a narrator informs us that the world has "crumbled and...the cities have exploded;" uprisings and social disorder due to energy shortages have destabilized the country; and that "two mighty warrior tribes" had gone to war over "oil." The crumbling remnants of the government attempt to restore some form of order, but life has become a "whirlwind of looting and a firestorm of fear, in which 'men began to feed on men.'"

(from Wikipedia)

Shit, i can really SEE it. Except maybe on more of a global scale. No wonder it became a cult-classic.

i'm tempted to download part 2, but frankly, the battle scenes available on Youtube are pbly good enough.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 17: 2012

Wow.

Maybe 8 years ago i was hanging out in Roberts Creek and 2012 was a secret buzz word limited to progressive hippy types. And now the director of Independence Day has brought the potential disaster to the forefront of public consciousness via the Hollywood machine.

The movie takes the end of the world as its mechanism, and from a quick view of the trailer, the special effects look AMAZING. A quick peek at Rotten Tomatoes also reveals that the movie is pbly the narrative dud that i'd imagined. After all, i found Independence Day rather painful to sit through.

Well i dunno about things elsewhere, but people in BJ seem to know about this movie. People ask me, "Do you know about 2012? Are you worried? What do you think is going to happen?"

It's said that not only does the Mayan calendar reach completion, but 2012, may have other things going for it: geomagnetic reversal (aka polar shift), a black hole alignment, and a maxing out of Terrence Mckenna's "novelty" calculations. Aka Timewave Zero, as supported by the I-Ching (my brother swears by the I-Ching, btw).

I don't expect global meltdown, but i do think that its certainly as good a time as any for it to happen.

Although tidal waves and undulating landscapes make for exciting visuals, i expect some sort of slow shift to happen to the consciousness of humanity.

Maybe that will be an opening of the mind. i have heard it said that taking the drug DMT was the best preparation for this impending opening consciousness. If that happens, my advice to everyone is: relax. It's all good. Even if it feels as fucked up as possibly imaginable. Somehow or another, i suspect people will drag themselves in wonderment to their jobs, purchase their toilet paper and other necessities, and microwave dinner.

Maybe i'm wrong.

But hey: I read it on the internet, so it must be true!

If not the above, perhaps the collapse of capitalism could be a worthy second best. Eh?


pic stolen from http://www.graphics.com/modules/Gallery/albums/album258/Dec2012jpg.sized.jpg

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day 16: Recent Scores

i mentioned before that chinese people like eating chinese food.

Hooray.

i also like it.

But i also like other stuff.

i used to complain that where i live the only non-chinese food is KFC and McDonalds.

But then someone installed a restaurant called Aftertaste (yes, Aftertaste) that claimed to do Italian food. The food was pretty mediocre i found, until only recently i discovered that their mediocre menu holds within it some pretty decent pizza. Yay!

Also, downtown is a trendy shopping area, which i generally dislike, and pretty much go there a LOT since Q's been running the only art gallery in the 'hood there. And this wkend i finally tried this little burrito joint, and son of a rooster, i had the best nachos that i've had in YEARS.

That's swell.

Other than that, i've started cooking a LIIIIIITTLe bit more than before. Which is to say, a little bit more than zero.

And, don't worry, i haven't lost my touch.

In case you were worrying.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day 1: Fleas

Do you love the Red Hot Chili Peppers? Do you love Flea? Did you wonder why Flea named himself after a flea?

Well now i have 1st hand experience with fleas.

Fleas are tough motherfuckers. you can squish them with you finger, HARD, and they may squirm around uncomfortably afterwards, but it won't kill them. You have to squish them with something hard. Ok, ok, your fingernail will suffice.

They're fast. They can dart around into unseen depths of fur before you can get a finger on 'em.

They can jump. Surprsingly far and surprisingly fast. And they often do, at that critical moment, leaving their hunters cursing.

And frankly, the idea of camping out on some warm animal and sucking its blood seems pretty clever to me.

J was a bit annoyed as i expressed my flea admiration as we combed through XiaoQiao's fur, but them's the breaks.

This isn't even meant to be tongue in cheek, and yes, it's a shame that the fleas helped kill XQ :(

Day 15: To Cry Or Not To Cry

i've been dwelling on my emotional response to XiaoQiao's death.

At school i was like, "Too bad. So long, bugger." Even dead, she was really cute. Then i went to take a leak, and suddenly tears started flowing along side of my piss.

Later, i cried when i buried her.

Later, i cried when i blogged, and watched the video (and i usually hate cute animal vids).

Later, i cried at Q's when her cat crawled into my lap and started purring.

Anyhow, i wonder if this outpour of emotion is indulgent. It's like you can choose to cry, or you can choose to keep it together.

If i had more pressing tragedies in my life, then i assume XiaoQiao would get bumped down in the emotional priority list. Well, seeing as how there isn't any other pressing tragedies at present, i've been free to delve into whatever came up.

What a luxury.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Day 13: Bye Bye Kitty


i feel sad.

i just buried XiaoJiao. She died this afternoon, despite all our hot water bottles, flea-picking and force feeding.

i was making plans for our future as buds and roomies. i was planning a kitty door to let her outside in summer. i was cursing how she was taking away my wkend freedoms. i uncomplainingly wiped her diarrhea off of my lap. i'd already arranged a full to the brim litter box.i searched for fleas and wiped her bum at 1 am.

i was all excited to see her come back to life, but she never did.

And it's extra sad 'cause she seemed more lively when we first picked her up, as shown.

And everybody coo'ed and oo'ed whenever she made her strange little dinosaur squawks. (her name alludes to them).

Anyhow, i'm not sure if i'm surprised at how quickly i got attached to the poor little bugger. i feel bad that she was dying from cold, and now she's underground with no heater, no hot water bottle, and no possibility of ever again climbing into my friend J's cleavage.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day 11: No time to write

Big bro leaves tomorrow am.
Had din tonight w/ Q and friend and D.
Now we're trying to play w/ a kitty.
It's already past my bedtime!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day 10: Chubby Cultural Differences

Here's just a quick note about how on the weekend me and Q and my bro were invited to a friend's for tea. (He was really excited to drink Puer tea in his new apt for the first time). A couple more of his friends swung by, one of whom Q had met about a year ago.

He didn't recognize her at first because she's fatter now than she was then. Personally i found it a touch rude, and Q was a bit embarrassed as indeed she does think she's a bit overweight. It's true she doesn't exercise much, but her BMI (for whatever credibility it has) says if anything, that she's underweight.

Anyhow, she agreed, and that was about it. It wasn't taken as rude by anyone, even in the context of a particularly cordial afternoon chilling out.

So, next time a chinese person calls you fat, (which they often do), you can remember it's a cultural thing.


Amd since i'm on the topic of food, i forgot to mention in yesterday's post, my ongoing dharmic question as to whether being lean and borderline underweight justifies full on indulgence with gluttony. Seriously. On the one hand, i think it would be nice to put on a few pounds for winter so i'm not freezing my butt off so often, and it sure is nice eating as much as i want as often as i want. But i do feel that it's indulgence and gluttony, and it definitely doesn't feel healthy to eat to the bursting point, as i do regularly.

Any opinions on this?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Day 9: eat, Eat, EAT

1. My brother extolls his disgust at being able to count my ribs when viewing my backside. He thinks i should start everyday off w/ a fat mug of protein powder. Or (as more traditionally minded folk think) eat meat.

2. I feel pretty accustomed to my body after 35 years of being... slim.

3. My Body Mass Index says i'm NOT underweight.

4. Though i am on the brink.

5. And anyone who knows me, knows i eat copiously regularly.

6. Notably moreso since the temp dropped lately.

7. So.

8. I've started eating more meat.

9. Which is to say that i'm picking less of it out of my portions at school than usual.

10. i justify it by thinking that essentially i'm against the meat industry, and eating or not eating the scraps dished out in the caf basically affect the industry like zilch.

11. Anyways, it tastes pretty good sometimes.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Day 8: Sharks


Last night i watched Sharkwater. Until the dvd jammed maybe 1/2 way through.

It was pretty good. i learned a few things about Sharks.

For example:
The annual average of death from shark attacks is five.
More people die from mishaps with pop machines.

Also, as we know, Sharks are at the top of the food chain, and have been for centuries, remaining virtually unchanged through two major periods of extinctions. As such, they have shaped the development of all creatures below them, and are like the bosses of the foodchain below them.

So.

If the bosses are gone, then we can expect a lot of unruliness to come up, and it's hard to know what that will look like, but it's quite likely it could make for a massive ecological mess.

Anyhow, i hope to watch the rest of it someday, and likely bash away more of the remaining fear i have of sharks.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Day 7: Big BJ, Little BJ

The municipality of Beijing has 17million plus registered residents.
Which sounds like a lot of people to get lost amongst.
But when you meet a few people, then you meet a few other people.
Who know other people.

Then the city starts feeling like a cozy little gang.

For example.

I go to see a friend's show. Then backstage i meet a singer songwriter. When we hang out later, he gives me his cd, and copy of his video (both of which i rather like). Later i show my gf, Q, the video, to which she exclaims, "The drummer is one of my best friends!"

Then last night, Q and my bro acquiesce to go to Mao Livehouse, since a guy i know invited me to his book release party, since he just found a non-independent publisher. i knew quite a few people there, and didn't even realize that my friend was playing guitar in one of the performances w/ a "famous" singer. (and earlier i was considering inviting him out).

And Q, who is sometimes reluctant to come out, was keen to see the last performance because unbeknownst to her, the famous singer turned out to be an old friend of hers.

Hm.

At this rate, the whole scene's gonna be incestuous before i even move to downtown.

Day 6: Spring Is Here

Although this may not be of great interest to many of you, today i am SO HAPPY because i have learned the answer to a problem which has irked me for more than a decade.

Which is:

How does a spring work?
Why does it always bend back?
How can you forge metal in such a way that it stores energy for decades or more?

So on a whim, a good 3 minutes before class started, it was the ideal time for distraction.

Thus i learned:

You can attach one heated metal to pre hardened metal, and then when it cools, it shrinks, and...

PRESTO!

The damn thing is locked in a perpetual state of stress and anxiety!
Forever bound to release drivers from bumps in the road.
To firmly clamp hair to the iron.
And make novelty penises bounce happily forevermore.

What a life!
Oh, the humanity!

Well then.

i hope you have enjoyed today's lesson.

Pop quiz on Monday.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day 5: Breathe Easy


The air doesn't look so good today.
Didn't smell anything, but it's kinda thick and hazy, and you can feel it in your lungs a bit.

In spring my cousin had a baby, and we were talking about life in bj.

She was born here, and loves living in bj (even though she's out a ways even farther from dntn than me). She's comfy here,and doesn't want to live anywhere else.

i like it too, and neither me nor the other beijingers seem to be suffering from toxins, but still everybody knows it ain't good for you.

However, if i were a parent, the cause for concern would obviously be higher. (my cuz said the pollution is the ONLY reason she'd want to leave BJ. i kinda agree).

Especially since, did you know that of all the toxins accumulated in the human body, the highest concentrations of those toxins is found is... mothers' breast milk?

This phenomenon has been demonstrated in dolphins' high calf mortality rate, from high mercury levels. The most safe and natural seeming activity killed them. That's pretty depressing.

Anyhow. Nonetheless, i don't want to waste too much time on the internet, hence i will presently make an effort to exit the premises, hop on a bike, and get some fresh air.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 4: Time (same old same old)

Every day i wake up at 7:04am.
1st class at 8.
Last class done at 2:40.
Dinner at 5.
Usually home before 6.
Usually kill 2 hrs or more on the internet doing stuff like
writing a blog
checking a news site or 2
wasting time on FB, and Youtube
(thx to my newly acquired from UBC VPN,
which also allows me to blog)
and other possibly unmentionable websites
possibly marking some student work
possibly watching a bit of a video
etc
etc.

But then virtually every night i hope to get in bed by 10:30.
Considering how hard it is to wake up in the morning each day.
But it never happsns.

right now it's 23:02.
And i still need to brush.
And do my daily meditation,
which is about a measly 8 min
before i decide that sleep is the priority
to enlightenment.

Repeat.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Day 3: Adventures in Democracy


I'm a bit surprised that i find this Confederation stuff rather interesting.

And teaching it in China is more interesting.

However, you may consider from time to time, that teaching this stuff in China is... different.

For example:

In one class i was teaching the kids about how in early canada (pre confederation), the govt was shitty, so the people protested, and then the govt shot the protesters. "Actually this has happened in many countries. It happened here in Beijing even, not long ago."

Some kids were like "what? i've nver heard that!"
Others said, "It's true!"

Then they started blabbing in Chinese for a couple seconds before i said,"Ok ok, let's just keep going w/ the book. i pbly shouldn't even say anything about that."

Then the nxt day the principal individually talked to all staffers, to say that our official position, in the foreign, Canadian-styled school, if it comes up, is that we can and will talk about it, but w/out judgement. Which was a pretty bold stand for him to take in dealing w/the chinese admin, methinks. Apparently the chinese govt's official position is that It Never Happened. i mentioned my previous classroom discussion to him, to which he responded, "Really! Funny, i thought this stuff would never come in your class." He obviously doesn't know me that well.

I've discussed the T-incident w/ a small handful of folks, and some have awareness about it, (occasionally first hand!), and some donet. However, H and her bf were surfing Wikipedia one time, and H clicked on the Tian o men link, and could hardly believe that it connected. Her bf, it turns out, had never heard of the event, and was quite sickened to read about it.

As the govt manages to keep the incident out of the history books, it's interesting to see how it seems to have become an oral history. Of course, it's also a history that will be largely limited to the educated and urban. However, i've been told that younger students aren't as likely to know anything about it, and it doesn't seem like the older students are all hype to stir the pot either.

Well, at least there's Hong Kong, where they have their T-anniversary candle light vigils, and open letters to the PRC govt, and ongoing calls for the release (still!) of imprisoned dissidents.

Note: the title of this post is a bit tongue in cheek. Although i do feel that democracy is generally a pretty great (ahem) idea, i don't necessarily feel like its the holy grail of political systems. Well, not yet, anyhow.


Picture from www.uppercanadahistory.ca.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Day 2: Halloween Catch up


Generally, Halloween's not so big in China. However, in Beijing it's bigger than most places around here. If you hang out in the right spots.

So this year, Halloween was on a wkend, thus i figured i'd do it up for the 1st time on this here continent. Me and some coworkers hit up an 80's night Halloween gig, which did deliver up free mystery shots and highballs for those in costume, though the place wasn't super-populated.

Then we hit up another bar which was pretty full of young drunk people, but hardly a costume in sight. Oh well. 1/2 a beer there on top of the previous mystery drinks was a groggy enough of a mixture to convince me to have a quick puke as soon as i flopped out of the taxi outside my apt building.

Which is a bit odd, considering i didn't even feel so drunk beforehand. Then i promptly brushed my teeth and passeed out immediately in bed, and had a great sleep.

That was ok, but really the funnest part of the night was when we were all throwing our costumes together, papers and tape and scissors and makeup all getting their workouts, music rumbling, and a sip of gin here and there.

Not quite as epic or as underground as Halloween gets in Van, but not so bad either. Better than staying at home watching Twilight, anyhow.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day 1: Oh the Weather Outside

Considering how i often feel like a lazy ass re: blogging, i'm going to try the post-a-day-for-a-month thing again.

Expect short, concise blogs about potentially mundane topics, which occasional flashes of brilliance.

Today is Nov 1st. It's Beijing's first snowfall which i'm taking in presently. It's also kinda screwing up the family lunch which i'm hosting today, and the table for 12 is pbly just going to be a table for 7. Maybe they can ditch the minimum charge.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How to Force Kids to Love the Dalai Lama: And Like It!


My students all researched and wrote speeches about Heroes. Mostly the usual suspects, ie, Ghandi, Mother Teresa, and the likes. I also squeezed in edgier Malcolm X. A little Oprah Winfrey and Al Gore for the sake of keeping current.

In retrospect, i'm disappointed i didn't get some kids to write about Bob Geldoff or gay politician Harvey Milk. Ah well, next time.

After quick perusal of the Nobel Peace Prize winners, i realized it'd be interesting to have a true life Chinese girl write about the Dalai Lama.

The girl studiously did her research and noted some appropriate facts from websites which were not blocked for their dangerous information. She showed me, before adding: "But I don't think he's a hero."

"Oh? Why not?"

Thus followed a conversation where i had notable difficulty in listening to reasoning which i deem to be the result of PRC brainwashing. But how fair is it to suggest that Sorry kid, China's media doesn't have much reputation for telling, like, the truth. (which isn't exactly secret, though the kids don't seem to see that as a particular problem).

Anyhow, she would mention things like, he's tricked people into believing he's like a god, he's tricked people into giving him riches and valuable jewels, he wants to use people as slaves, and other Wolf In Sheep's Clothing tinged sentiments.

She also made some plausible comments such as, he doesn't want peace because he disturbs China by promoting independent Taiwan, or by trying to get more independence for Tibet.

Later she tried showing me some websites to show me how bad he is. Fortunately, the websites were all in chinese, and the translator function wasn't working so well.

Nonetheless, i will grant that the region now called Tibet has a complicated history, w/ Chinese folk having considerable influence bk even way back in the 13th century.

After our initial discussion, i calmed down and asked her to write about why he isn't a hero.

So.

Today she talked about why people like him, and how he got that Nobel prize, before delving into her true sentiment (and notably became a much more effective presenter). Interestingly, she slipped in this tidbit: "China is an autocracy [a few people with all the power] and many people think this is bad, but China is too big. We need the autocracy to keep control." Hm!

Afterwards, i graciously commended her on tackling the most difficult hero in the class.

Then I drew a happy face and a frowny face o the board. "Some people think the Dalai Lama is great. Some people thing he's very bad. Where is the truth? Is it on this side? Is it over there? Or is it somewhere in the middle? How can we know?"

I mentioned that English speakers have access to WAAAAAY more info than Chinese speakers, especially when it comes to the internet, blocked or not. i hope it wasn't too obvious that the idea was that Western info is better than Chinese info.

But that's kinda what i was saying.

Anyhow, she deserved her pretty good mark, and also made a surprisingly happy and colorful poster that looked like good ol' DL propaganda, if you didn't read the fine print.


Image from tk30.blogspot.com. And, btw, that's kungfu action hero Jet Li on the left there. It's true. I gave the students a glimpse of this picture, just to put a positive spin on the Leader of the Dalai Clique.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Study of Societies

Teaching Social Studies is cool, 'cause you get to talk about stuff like... history, and social issues. Ok ok, it's horrible when you have to teach words like Legislative Assembly and Confederation to ESL kids, but in context, there's also a lot of pretty crazy issues i get to indulge with. Well a little bit crazy to talk about in the western world, and rather crazy to talk about in China.

For example:
I talk a lot about changing the law, because sometimes the law is bad. Such as in racist laws or sexist laws. And breaking the law in order to challenge the law. And the criminals who broke the law are now considered by all to be heroes.

Chinese kids find this to be rather foreign. "What? The government was wrong? What breaking the law is good?" So i get to toss out ideas (not in a lot of depth necessarily, but still...) like

Was Prohibition in the USA good or bad? Should people break that law?

If most Canadians smoke marijuana, should that law be changed? (most Chinese folk think mj is very very VERY bad, having been sold the same stories as the western statusquo, but without much access to contrary info, let alone access to people who have, like, tried it.

The Canadian govt GUARANTEES people the right to PROTEST against the government! How fucked up is that? From within the PRC, it's pretty fucked.

And then... sometimes [in the context of APEC protests, etc] the police and the government break their own laws! How fucked up is that?
"Yeah, some police officers are good, but others are not so good. Are there any bad police officers in China?" The kids look at me and each other curiously: "No," they reply.


I also have had opportunities to mention the Nike boycott, and why lots of people think that Nike is shit. Pretty interesting, 'cause in brand-name-loving China, these kids have certainly never heard a negatively connotated word about Nike, or the likes.

Good stuff!

And it's like, oh yeah, isn't this why i wanted to be a teacher? and the answer is... yes! So that's good.

However.

Also... i have a reduced workload from last year, thank god. In fact, considering all the above, it's a wonder that i'm not more satisfied w/ my job than i truthfully am. God, what a complainer.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Still waiting?

If you expected a postcard from me this summer, and didn't get one, i just want to say that i DID send out all intended postcards, though have since realized the likelihood that a bunch of them got tossed in the bin, while the precious stamp money got pocketed by some horrible post office worker who's trying to feed her kids or something.

If you never got one, drop me a line, and i'll send you a few funny sentences in lieu of said missing postcard.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

All New, All Incredible, All Videos!

Ok, you may have heard that the PRC has stepped up its internet firewall considerably in the last month or so. As such, the likes of Facebook and Youtube have been inaccessible. Which is actually pretty annoying. Not that any blocked sites have really been so necessary for me, but how would you feel if somebody took your car keys, even if you didn't really need to drive anywhere?

Anyhow, to celebrate my newly refound access to Youtube, i thought i'd share a couple vids w/ you. In fact they are the two most memorable videos i have ever seen online. (admitting that i consciously chose to steer clear of Two Girls One Cup)

Ironically, however, this first video turns out to be unavailable on Youtube! Such is life. Here it is anyway for your viewing pleasure. No description necessary. Enjoy!


Zuiikin English - Sankakukin Trouble -


And for this clip, i admit i was quite disturbed after i saw it the first time. The second time i watched it, almost a year later, i found it totally hilarious, and saw the art of the whole episode: the kind of art that reality can amazingly pull off now and again.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Xi'an


filled
Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
Yeah, so, like, in China we get like a week off in October. That's great. Just great. You can use this week to celebrate China's 60th birthday and enjoy the grand parade which is closed to the public. But available for viewing on tv. The highlights more than suffice for me. i don't think i need 5 hours of tanks and marching soldiers and dancers and coordinated flipping of coloured cards.

Asides from missing out on the parade, me and my bro skipped out of town in an impromptu trip to Xi'an, where the Terracotta army are hiding. I'd heard mixed reviews of this spectacle, from unbelievable to wuliao (boring). In the end, i squeezed in among the other thousands of visitors to observe the terra cotta gang in an environment that could potentially be a touch creepy, if not for the bustling hordes and their cameras.

We also went to Hua Shan, a mountain outside the city, which was pretty epic. We hiked 7.5 hrs, but didn't quite get to the uppermost peak for fear of missing our return trip bus. The mountain is famed for its vertical slopes, and ubersteep staircases, which require chains to hang on to.

However, near the top you will encounter the lazy gang who opted to take the gondola up, the gang who will destroy the serenity you strained so hard to reach. "kinda makes you appreciate Canada's solitude," commented my brother. Not to complain. We were nonetheless stoked to have made it up as far as we did, and to actually get a bit of exercise in finally.

And the last point of interest was our return trip home. As we had planned our trip mere moments before we departed, we were super lucky to have found beds for the overnight train trip to Xi'an. However, for the return trip there were zero tickets available to be found anywhere.

But we went anyways.

Only from Xi'an were we able to discover the Standing Room Only tickets for the return trip. 6:30pm -6:30 am.

But we bought little mini folding stools for $1.50 each, which we were extremely happy with. You manage to find a spot in the aisle, and plop down. Then every 4 minutes you pick up and squeeze into some seated people's laps so the workers selling beer and instant noodles out of trolleys can pass.

We met some people and chatted some which was pretty fun. Though i was a bit annoyed when they told us that the stools should only cost 75 cents. Ha, oh well.

Eventually it was night, some lights dimmed, and the trolley convoy eased up. People were crashed all over the aisle, on the sink, crammed in next to the less than tidy bathroom stalls. And yes, some people stood for the full 12 hrs. Crazy.

I did manage a few hours of sleep, though D managed zero. I was kinda surprised when upon our arrival he said, "well, that was a lot more interesting than the trip out."

I also rather dug it, though i don't think i'd want to do it on a regular basis. Or with my girlfriend. Or parents.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Wall: Bigger, Fatter, Thicker, Stronger, Smarter


for the love of china
Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
Stupid firewall. i was up until recently happily using Tor to get my internet access. which was slow, but it gave me fuller access than other proxy servers.

But the chinese goverment surely paid some public money to some IT guys to figure out how to stop people from using proxy servers.

So now. No blogger. (except thru flickr, whew). No facebook. No youtube. No twitter, which i never used much anyways, and generally think it's a bit annoying.

Shit, it totally makes me start wanting to use these sites all that much more! Fuckers.

If you know how i can get my web access back (and on ubuntu), that'd be rad. But don't tell me how on this blog or on flickr. They haven't blocked gmail yet, thankfully.

Presumably all the extra security and excessive police and army presence in BJ and China is for China's 60th anniversary party, which is on the 1st. There will be a massive parade which is only viewable by invitation only, or for television viewing. 100's of tanks will be cruising the streets, and 1000's (tens of 1000's?) of soldiers and pilots and students wil be marching in bafflgingly inhuman synchronicity.

See here for examples of anal retentive precision: http://www.chinasmack.com/pictures/training-chinese-army-60th-national-day-parade/

Um.
Ok, more later, friends.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Back to School

it's ok.
work hours are excessive, but stress levels are way way down compared to previous years.
Now teaching all grade 10.
for the moment.
Everything subject to change at minimal notice.
A bunch of kids said they're sad i'm not their teacher anymore, haha.
New teachers in the house, are a pretty cool gang, though they may only hang out for a 1/2 year.

Unsuccessfully trying to plan ahead.
Especially before my bro cruises into town.
Not to mention still unpacking and organizing my apartment.
'Cuz i had to switch pads a day before i was due at school.
You have to roll with it a lot around here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Final Words

Not working is an important detail for vacations. Unless, of course, you choose to work on the canoe you're building, or work on your guitar skills, or even work on your "self".

This summer i didn't do much work, although i did recommence my daily meditations, having almost entirely withdrawn from my meditation practice for the last year or so. i've been struck that my meditations are... good for me! i feel like there's a lot of dirty corners in my brain that have been gathering dust for some time. i still have the usual issues to work on regarding acceptance, forgiveness, craving, desire, anger, yadda yadda. So i'm happy to note that i have rediscovered a few moments of purity, which felt really really nice.

Also over the course of the last couple months, i had a number of tangible lessons about Patience. Relax. Chill out. Don't f'ing HURRY, because even though you want to HURRY, there's no need whatsoever to HURRY. Don't get me wrong. Sometimes you need to HURRY (like when you are overdue to urinate, and there's no back alleys in site). But sometimes you don't. So then you can relax; chill out; and not f'ing HURRY.

Also, from my travels, i would like to share my newly gained wisdom w/ you, fellow readers, whoever you are, and inform you of these things which no trip in China should be complete without.

-38 degree weather
-snowfall and long underwear
-Thanks to the shaggy goatee, being mistaken for Mongolian
-Otherwise, consistently being mistaken for a 25 yr old Japanese dude.
-disturbingly intimate encounters with strangers' feces and phlegm
-baijiu rice wine
-rocking out in a guitar bar, and being asked by staff play again the next night
-jumping off a bridge
-being refused service in a restaurant
-in the washroom outside of the buddhist temple, walking in on a dude wanking it
-trying to slurp down noodles while the restaurant owner stomps on the mouse who was strolling through
-recognizing that too many prayer flags looks exactly like a used car lot sale
-cleverly peeing in a bottle during a fully peopled long distance bus ride. And being rather stressed out beforehand

And then this morning my mom asked me if i'm looking forward to work. Huh? What the hell kind of question is that? Work? Or holiday? Work? Um, i don't think so. But. That said, i feel like my holiday was as epic as it needed to be, and certainly not lacking in any area. Unless you count trying to find coffee in Xinjiang.

Soon i'll put up some pix on Flickr and FB. Peace.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Xinjiang

Hm, hardly a riot in sight. Quiet. A little too quiet...
In fact, i was rather surprised that people in Urumqi seemed to be pretty mellowed out, 1 month after people were madly knocking on doors trying to identify the ethnicity of whoever answered in order to decide whether to bloodily bash their skulls apart or not.

The fact that i was able to visit the province at all felt like a slip up on the part of the authorities, and as such i felt like a privileged guest of honor. Not surprisingly, most travelers had thought or decided that the place was off limits, and thus i really was an exceptional visitor.

Xinjiang is pretty rad. You can go places where it really feels like China has disapeared, and that you've landed somewhere in the middle east. Not a "chinese" face to be seen. Lots of skewered lamb, mosques, scarf-veiled women, and fez-topped men.

i felt quite elated just to wander around, largely resisting the urge to snap photos. People getting on with their lives post-violence struck me as both necessary and courageous. Apparently the gov't released numbers were unsurprisingly lowballed. i hear roughly 250 Uighur and Han people were murdered in last months unfortunate riots, as caused by years of stewing resentment from gov't promoted Han immigration, and city infrastructure improvements which didn't affect the original minority group residents. Anyhow, for the 250 recently deceased, there's pbly 2500 very disturbed and angry and depressed city folk out there. No way of knowing if i saw any of them, but i was hanging out in the very limited areas where the riots took place.

Also, i should note that there is a LOT of army and police presence. Riot cops, riot gear, riot-proof vehicles abound. Soldiers stand on circus platforms under circus umbrellas to keep a serious eye over the people buying their groceries and buying lamb skewers. They get all annoyed when you point a camera at them, so you have to be sneaky about it. At any rate, no one grabbed or smashed my camera which was a relief.

Xinjiang is really cool. The city does look like it had a boom 15 years ago, 'cuase all there's lots of big not-so new buildings, mostly in the chinese majority parts of town. Pretty cosmo, but not a McDonalds or Starbucks to be seen, which was very refreshing. Nice markets, happening night market.

The city felt ... open. Xinjiang, i thank you for welcoming me.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blockt


tomorrows tomorrow
Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
after waiting for THREE hours in line yesterday, i was told they had no tickets to Urumqi.

Today after waiting for 10 minutes in a line in a diff train station, i was given tickets to Urumqi for this afternoon. Score. That's how it goes in this country.

Anyhow.
Apparently there's no long distance phone calls or internet access from Xinjiang province since the riots in Urumqi.

So, i may be out of touch until i get bk to bj.

And i'm trying to get bk to bj a day earlier than originally planned.

'cause i miss my gf.

But i also wonder how much of the missing is just wanting to have sex.

Hard to say.

But i guess that's human nature.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Them Monks


flawless
Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
You know, of course, that almost all have cell phones now.
And some wear headphones. Pbly listening to dharma talks.
Many are over due for a hair cut.
Some panhandle, or busk, approaching restaurant patrons.
Some hang out in overpriced tea houses.
I know they shave their heads, but what's the rule for facial hair?
i saw a couple stylish goatees, for sure.
They often hang out with non-monks who look a bit like thugs.

Beats me. i hung out w/ this one monk for a while, after we sat on the bus together. He can't work, but he has a bank account filled with money given to him. From family members, i gather. He says no monks should drink beer, though i hear some do. he never has time to talk to the nuns.

He took me to his family's modest place, and later we had a genuine fight about the bill for dinner. Shit, i shouldn't let a monk pay for my food! Isn't he supposed to graciously accept what's given to him? But at the same time, we were making the server quite nervous with all our grabbing and pulling and shoving over the bill. i did't think it was very fair to her.

Friday, August 14, 2009

China's just like Canada


no blue skies.JPG
Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
Really, it is.
Because Canada's really big.
And China's really big.
And in Canada, 90% of the pop lives along the southern margin.
And in China 90% of the pop lives along the southern and earstern margins.
So.
When you get away from those margins, you get space.
Lots of space.
Lots and lots.
I've never seen so many rolling green hills in my life.
But the hills are mountain-sized.
But not rocky.
Just grassy.
Like that MS desktop picture.
But better.
It's great.
Except that after 2 full days of bumpy bus-rides, that's all i see still.
And the winding roads (sometimes paved, sometimes not) take their time getting from A to B.
The Tibetan music (with techno upgrades, and "check it out" samples) is ok, but is played WAY too loud.
Occasionally an english song sqeezes onto the playlist.
i never realized how shitty Lionel Richie's Say You Say Me is.
But now i have.
And there's no trains in these here parts.
So we'll just have to make do.

I Wanna Get High, So High


temple o rama
Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
Hurrah, i'm very happy to be out of that crazy Yunnan tourist circuit.

Again, there's no shortage of Tibetan monks, monasteries, or temples just outside of Tibet's official border. And all travelers given access as of late.

In the town of Litang, I spent a few days. It's cool to see so many weathered faces, and dudes with long windblown mops of hair, and others sporting worn-in cowboy hats.

Litang is surrounded by tree-less, grass-covered hills. I should also say, the altitude of this place is 4014m, and there's a short supply of oxygen. It's also cold. i had to buy some long undies, and added them to virtually every other piece of clothing i had with me.

Everytime i looked at the surrounding hills i wanted to scale them. So i rented a bike from a restaurant that doesn't really rent bikes, and rode out to the hills. The uphill grade which didn't seem so steep, sucked all of my energy. eventually i hopped off my steed, since riding was too slow and too hard (i thought it was a bike prob), to clamber up the hill. But the hill was a bit steep. I honestly had to stop and rest after every 3 steps. It almost killed me. i almost gave up.

But eventually it levelled off, and i plopped to the ground, spread eagle style, where i lay a considerable while, listening to my racing heart, and having near-altered state visions.

Then i climbed up a bit more and hung out with the cattle a while, and stole as much oxygen as i could from the misty wind.

Also Litang has a monastery with 2 new temples added on to it, still under construction. After sidestepping the blowtorches, overstepping the sandbags, and squeaking past the saws, i took in the new temples.

now there's no history yet in the place, but it still was pretty wild. How often do you get to see 3 story high buddhas surrounded by scaffolding and labourers? People hammering gods to the walls? Scrubby non-buddhist painters, detailing amazingly beautiful massive murals? Obviously i wanted to take pictures SOOOOOO badly, but refrained myself. Stupid respect, getting in the way yet again.

Also, do note, the picture above is NOT from this holiday. All of my pix are from my old flickr page, which is the only way i know of to blog right now, since blogger is blocked. Sorry if the pix are misleading.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It ain't Tibet. But...


grounded
Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
Sichuan province is right next to Tibet, and it has a bunch of Tibetan towns and temples.

Near Shangrila, yet another "old town" converted into touristy town, i went to a massive monastery, which is under massive renovation to make way for massive tourist profits.

It's really a shame to see so much history demolished to clear the space for new-but-old-looking architecture. Nonetheless, there's still lots to see, and 800 monks living on the premises.

Upon entering the place, a friend had the brilliant idea to buy some instant noodles. So i helped him do that. Then we asked for some hot water, and the monk pointed to the left. So we wandered around leftways looking for hot water, not finding any. Another monk directed us into this dark little shack, where a couple monks were tending a wood stove whereupon the kettle sat.

They invited us to sit down, and we hung out for 15 minutes shooting the breeze. With a bit of work, i managed to decifer that...

-the one monk was 26 and he\d been there 14 years.

-they meditate 7 hrs/day.

-his parents are not buddhist, they are farmers, and they are happy for him to live at the monastery.

-the ridiculous $12 fee (applicable only to those who are suspected to be tourists) to enter does not go the monks or monastery, but the govt.

-the relationship between the monastery and the govt is okaaay, but certainly not great.

Anyhow, that was quitte fun. i just wish i'd asked their opinions about the development.

The next day i finally broke out of the Tourist circuit, and got out to a little town in the middle of nowhere (nowhere being beautifully sparse green hills and rolling mountains).

On the bus i met a couple american girls, students of mandarin and religion. In our limited time in this small town, we wanted to check out the monastery even though it was already closed.

Light was long gone by the time we got to the monastery, and we browsed around its unlit outskirts. Finding an open door, the girls poked their heads into the courtyard where a security guard approached them.

But instead of sending us packing, he found a monk, and they agreed to give us a tour of the temple. (after we paid the $2 fee). Still, it felt totally wild as guided by flashlight, we walked up to the temple, and to see them unlock and pry open the massive gates for us.

Inside they turned on lights, lit candles, and tried explaining various images and objects for us.

Did you know that in these monasteries and temples, there's a lot of buddhist imagery of a disturbingly violent nature? Arrows in the eye, torture devices, being cut in half, rape by cow, etc etc. i had no idea.

Also there's a fair bit of sexual imagery, but the paintings are done in such scope and detail that it's easy to miss the detail of testicles and penetration. Pay attention, kids!

We also got taken upstairs to wear some monks were hanging out, one embarassedly quickly throwing a robe on over his wife beater. We suspect this is area isn't normally open for observation.

It all felt pretty special to get this unexpected private tour: "i can't believe this is happening" was often murmurred by us. It was pretty cool.

After that, of course we had some noodle soup and barbecue, and downed a couple bottles of cheap wine.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Trekking Leaping Tiger Gorge


pause
Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
i have done a 2 day trek through Leaping Tiger Gorge.

Wow. This has been the best thing i've done this holiday. Very powerful.

Hey, i've lived next to the Rocky Mountains most of my life, but on this trip i've seen the most majestic masses of rock i've ever seen in my life. 4.5 km of steep granite face, stretching from the violently turbulent river below, vertically stretching up toward the sky, where the clouds gently caress the peaks who occasionally reveal their shy faces.

On day 1, i hiked with some chinese guy, who i rarely understood, and who rarely understood me. After so much steep vertical ascent, and dangerous descents, when it got to be 7pm, i decided to stay at a guest house. He crazily continued to hike another 2 hours to the next one.

Day 2, i hiked w/ some Denmark guys (who are studying Chinese in BJ), and a couple Canadian girls. Fun gang.

Not surprisingly, the chinese govt is eyeing this gorge for a future dam project. Which is tragic in numerous ways. But hell, if i was gonna make a dam, this is where i'd make it. With that massive amount of surging water, screaming between two tight mountain faces, it's impossible not to be awed by the power (electricity?) it contains.

And rumour is, that China needs more power. And China does as China wants.

So.

I (and many others) feel very blessed to have been able to experience Leaping Tiger Gorge.

ps. I think my pix may give some clue as to the magnitude of this place, which i will of course post later. Somewhere.

Progress in China?

In the ancient town (yet again, beautifully reconstructed to look more historical, and with many inserted bars and guest houses) of Shuhe, i bumped into a guy who took me to his Community out of town.

There, 15 people reside, including 4 children, 1 elderly woman. They have been in this spot striving to live sustainably for 6 years. Many of the structures there are made from salvaged materials.

They grow their own organic produce.

They transfer their own shit to the appropriate compost pile.

They homeschool the kids.

And i did a guest spot English lesson, which was pretty funny in a minimal farm house outdoor classroom.

i spent a couple days with them, washed some dishes, weeded around the soybean plants.

The one guy commented to me, "Yes, we are environmental, but we don't call ourselves that."
"Why not"
"Becuase that's just something we do out of necessity. Really we want to live as a community."

i found his response rather impressive, and appropriate.

Any hitches? They are Christian, but as the guy told me, "We don't always get along with most people who call themselves Christians."

Haha, i knew what me he meant..

However, a Korean missionary group came to visit and learn, and they did some really bizarre prayer at the end which struck me as bordering on the supernatural. Rather otherworldly, and a bit creepy.

Oh well. At any rate, i was pretty impressed to learn about this place, and to see people who are light years ahead of most chinese people in terms of eco consciousness.

ps. About the town of Shuhe, he said, "Yeah, we don't like it either." Hey, i never said i didn't like it: it just feels a bit unreal, that's all.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

No Escape


chinese ny parade
Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
i hung out in Lijiang for a couple days, and today arrived in a place nowhere mentioned in my Lonely Planet book. Though i'll bet 100rmb that it's in the newest edition.

It's like Lijiang, but smaller. Beautiful town, all nicely renovated, and suddenly full of posh-yet-traditional inns, and bars lined up along the cobblestone paths and winding canals. It's quite beautiful, but there's a sense of the unreal in it. It's chinese history reconstructed for your viewing pleasure, with all your desired amenities.

There's also weird cultural capitalism going on, where the Naxi food, clothing and music is all for sale. On one hand, yes they are preserving their culture by keeping it at the forefront, propogating it. But on the other hand, this is Naxi culture with a price tag only.

Yesterday, in the town square there was a group of maybe 20 old Naxi women doing some traditional dances, while tourists (mostly chinese) encircled them and took pictures with expensive cameras.
i noted that none of the dancers seemed to be enjoying themselves. i suspect they receive some small payment from the local govt. Surely, if these ladies wanted to dance, they'd do it somewhere with less intrusion. taking pictures would feel dirty, i think.

Anyhow, what can you do? On my itinerary i have more places lined up which will have local snacks on English menus, coffee, and cultures transformed by the likes of me.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dali - China's Robert's Creek

This is China's hippy town. It has skinny girls walking around in sarongs, occasional dredlock sightings, electro bands that use djembe drums, hippie veg restaurants, and reggae parties.

It also has ganja growing all over the place. By the canals, next to the house, in the alleys, all over, sometimes in explosions taller than me. Of course i wanted to pick some, but quickly realized that i don't know how or what to pick. i know there's boy and girl plants, but i don't know the difference. i didn't see anything like what i've seen before.

Anyhow, i picked some stuff that looked like something, but was told it was male, and no good, and smoking the seeds can make you go crazy. In the not high, and not good way.

Anyhow, the city is quite nice, and even if an overabundance of bars and one crappy dance club isn't what you're after, in the day time it's pretty easy to get out to a little village with superduper old buildings with roofs covered in grass. There's old people sitting around, wearing strange traditional clothing, which makes me wonder how they can still exist like that, considering that they do have access to the modern worlds. Also all the people look at you (me) like "what the hell is this waiguo ren dude doing here, hiding his camera, like we don't know that he's here to objectify and exoticise the lifestyle that i've always had, and my mother always had, and her mother ..." etc etc etc.

Well it's cool that nobody set up a fucking souvenir shop there yet. Maybe next year, eh? Those Han chinese folk have it down to an art.

tomorrow i'm off to Lijiang. which i think will be smaller,. but sorta the same. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Crab on a Stick


goldfish holocaust
Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
Everywhere in China you got these people barbecuing meat on the street. In some towns they have crabs and frogs etc sitting around waiting to be cooked.

So today i watched some dude carefully select the 4 crabs he wanted to consume.

i found it rather intense to watch the lady shove the bamboo rods through the crabs face, and out its ass. The stick was no skinny toothpick. This was done to the following 3 friends.

Then, legs madly scrambling, the crabs were put over the red coals. After a minute or 2, they were turned over, and had hot chili sauce and oil swabbed over their bellies and faces.

I couldn't believe how long those 40 legs were determined to twitch.

On the one hand, this all struck me as a fate worse than crucifiction!

But i was more interested in the ... normalcy of it. i mean hell, this happens to millions of animals everyday, some get it a bit better, some get it worse.

i believe the dude enjoyed eating it, so i guess that's good.

At any rate, i'm happy to be veg. Even if i'm a terribly lax one.

Friday, July 31, 2009

touristy for touristy tourists


tomorrows tomorrow
Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
Don't know why i find it so annoying that so many culturally historic and beautiful spots get all touristy.

i spent a day and night in Kunming where a young woman i met on the train offered to take me around Kunming. We poked out heads into some loud mainstream bars and walked around sipping beers, cabbing home before we even finished sipping. Kunming struck me as another big chinese city, so i got out fast.

And arrived in Dali today. Which seems great, but is all newly renovated and full of beautiful new fountains, and int'l restaurants and guest houses, bars and gift shops. Ok, so i talked w/ some guy in a cafe for a long time, 'cause he was playing guitar there. And now i'm in a bar/cafe listening to radiohead. It's all very convenient and comfortable, but i know i gotta get more remote and less convenient before long!

More on Dali once i pry myself out of the cafes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

YangShuo


medication
Originally uploaded by statusqphotos
Maybe it's a bit too touristy, but it sure is purdy to look at them mountains. That's what i do here. Bike, look at mountains, hike, look at mountains, swim, look at mountains.

Unfortunately Q wasn't able to hang out long, ' cause the mud bath in the water caves would pbly be more fun w/ a girl to hang out with.

Now i'm sort of solo again, though i've hooked up w/ the german dude from Shanghai and Guangzhou here in Yangshuo, funnily enough. That's cool, even if it somehow encourages me to drink more than i would solo.

Anyhow, a week in YS is just about enough, even if i didn't squeeze in any rock climbing (too much rain, today). And even though i'ts nice here, the town itself is a bit too touristy to hang out for too long. i think it'll be nice to get somewhere quieter and more remote for a while.

By tomorrow night i'll pbly be in Yunnan province. Heading eastwards.