Monday, October 31, 2011

Nov 1 - Halloween

Well, it's National Blog Posting Month! And strangely enough, i'm still blogging. Tune in for daily quirky and cute observations about current events and random musings.

First: the night of Satan worshiping.

On Saturday, D bumped into our neighbours (who we'd never met before) and got invited to their Halloween party, which was very entertaining drunken time. I was a mediocre Hank Williams Sr, D had a black bag on his head. "I know who you are," announced one girl to him, "You're the rapist!"

Monday we hit a club to see a ridiculously packed concert of banging electro rock. Before leaving i figured i oughta throw together a costume, found a box, a tennisball, some wires, and a bike light. Presto: the 30 minute robot. Boy, it sure is easy to impress sometimes. Although i couldn't see that well. i mean, i posed for pictures w/ people including w/ Muammar Gaddafi's arms around me, and i never even saw the guy.

And the show was rad. A Brit duo, done up like Kiss rocked it, as did local act Pet Conspiracy. Okay, even i admit that they could be criticized for more show than substance, but frankly at a drunken party, people dig the show. The more choreographed dramatics, the better.

Here's an older version of the band if yr curious at all...

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Foshan Girl - Hit and Run

Warning: the video below is pretty disturbing. Not exactly graphic, but you can get the gist of everything happening.

I just watched the above video, having avoided it for some time. I post it here because it's one of those things (like the twin towers) where visually there's an impact that affects you in a rather different way than reading all about it.

In a nutshell, a 2 year old girl was hit twice by a van, and then hit by another. And too many pedestrians turned a blind eye to the girl. This certainly made headlines across the planet, not necessarily because it's important news but because it's certainly the kind of story that resonates with people and with people's impression of China.

Not that that's wrong. Chinese media's also been all over this thing. I think this Guardian article's got it right (by a Chinese writer) who connects the event w/ a population still struggling to get over the survivalist mentality of the cultural revolution. And embarrassingly, the courts here have in the past attacked rather than praised good Samaritans.

Personally, i was surprised at my reaction to watching the vid above. Often, in fact, when i see stuff like that my get craves for retribution. Where's the culprit? Where's their shameful apology? i don't know why i want to see that stuff so bad, but i do. So much for forgiveness. i might forgive after i see the tears of shame and guilt.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Biking to Cuandixia

Well, i stayed in BJ for the whole of Golden Week, so still had itchy feet. i decided to cycle out to Cuandixia, a tiny spec of a Ming dynasty village. Although i've been there once before, taking a bike the 90 km there would be a whole new adventure.

My bike. Which has its frame and forks misaligned, after (i suspect) a car backed into it. No gear shifters or cables. Broken seat. A bit of a ramshackle machine, which i love nonetheless.

Headed out at ten. i figured i could get there in about 5 hours. i was wrong. i was def into the mountains when some cyclists heading the other way asked me for directions (ha). Upon hearing my intended destination, one girl exclaimed "Cuandixia is still 40 km away!" This was a revelation. My feeling was that it was 5km away. So not trusting her, i happily poked my head into a tourist office, i passed soon after. "Cuandixia... oh maybe it's 50km further on," said the lady, along w/ some other stuff I couldn't understand.

I was in fact, getting a bit tired already, but figured i'd keep going, and see how far i could get. If need be, i could probably find a hotel somewhere.

I was elated to eventually see a sign reading Zhaitang- 19 km. Zhaitang and Cuandixia are the same place. i pumped those pedals with newfound vigour, and allowed myself more rest stops and pauses to shoot the scenery.

But it turned out that Cuandixia is just a part of Zhaitang. Arriving in Zhaitang means that there was only about 10 more km to get to my destination. i plodded on. Traffic and people were nil. The sky was totally black. Street lights were few. Luckily i had a bike light.

i arrived in Cuandixia at 6:30, took the first room available and pigged out on the overpriced meal that the guesthouse offered.

i figured i deserved a day of rest and to explore the area a bit, before heading bk to BJ. i spent the next day attempting to summit a mountain, giving up both times after getting tantalizingly close. But it also dawned on me that i'm not covered by insurance, and the one mountain face was getting pretty dodgy. the next time my scratched and scarred body gave up in the face of 300m more of dense thorny bushes and trees.

So instead i found a spot to sit, had a toke, and sat there for a long long time enjoying the quiet.

Then went back to town. Ate dinner. Smoked more. Got a beer. went back to my room, and studied mandarin, then watched a show about raising camels. That was a great evening.

Apart from a flat tire, riding back was like lightning. Fast Times at Zhaitang High(way). Five hours return. Plus stops to eat and poke around.

Lessons: Don't calculate distance based on 20km/hrs. Climbing mountains is more like 5km/hr. Install gears on bike before next long trip. Don't forget your patch kit on the stairs at home, dumbass!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Jojo Mayer

Having established himself drumming w/ the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Nina Simone, Mayer has been hammering out drum and bass riffs for a long time since. I caught him last night in a performance w/ his three-piece group Nerve.

The hype in the sardine-packed joint was tangible, and Mayer's riffs inspired people to hoot and holler throughout the set. Even though there were a couple of times when the music seemed pretty holycrapthisongisolamespeciallytheterriblekeyboard but at other times, my jaw was on the floor wondering how Mayer was producing beats that usually require supercomputer-generated algorithms, and my best efforts couldn't keep me from busting out a bit.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Very Important Number

37 is a scintillating prime number, the fifth lucky prime, the first irregular prime, the third unique prime and the third cuban prime of the form

It is, of course, a factor of all 3-digit base 10 repdigits, such as 111. 37 is the smallest prime that is not also a supersingular prime. It is a centered hexagonal number and a star number!

And did you know that 37 and 38 are the first pair of consecutive positive integers not divisible by any of their digits???

And 37 is a Størmer number! (Since the greatest prime factor of 372 + 1 = 1370 is 137, which is obviously more than 37 twice). How cool is that?

And surely you're fascinated to know that 37 is the only two digit number in base 10 whose product, when multiplied by two, subtracted by one, and then read backwards, equals the original two digit number: 37×2=74, 74-1=73, 73 backwards is 37!

And you probably already knew that 37 is the only two digit number in base 10 with the following property: The difference between the two digits equals the square root of the difference between the number itself and the least common multiple of the two digits!

Today i'm going to try to be the me i want to be.

Info courtesy of wikipedia. Embellishments courtesy of the author

Monday, October 10, 2011


To Whom It May Concern,
I'm thankful for: 
-a girlfriend who loves me.
-family and friends near and far who love me, and whom I can love as well.
-air to breathe, food to eat, water to drink. Polluted or not, it's still a godsend.
-the opportunities i've had to travel. 
-a job on the horizon.
-a job behind me finished.
-Google Chrome Translator.
-Dan Savage.
-cheap prices and knockoffs in China.
-decent food at dirt cheap prices in China.
-entertainment luxuries available to me that 95% of Beijingers can only dream of.
-a principal who'll write me a ref letter despite how I "quit" after i got my visa.
-more and more understanding about how immature i am.
-the bit of equanimity I have now and again.
-a body that works pretty darn good. 
-people fighting for stuff I'm too lazy about (Occupy Wall St).
-the weird fact that some people still read this blog! 
-that means you, numskull ;) 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Forget About Education

A while ago, i had an interview w/ China Radio International. I hyped my time blogging for Beyond Robson, said some charming stuff, whipped out some photos of Japan to impress the guy, spent 1hr+ proving my salt as an editor (rewriting a disgustingly badly written article about internet dating in China), and did a voice test in the studio. I was told i'd get a call in a few days. Which i didn't.

About a week later i called CRI and was informed that i got the job. Well sort of. I got offered the package. The boss guy said it could be January before i actually start working. Because there's all this documentation required that i need to gather. Health check, letter of reference, Canadian criminal record check (which is a HUGE mof'ing hassle to get done from here)... and then apparently after documentation's provided, things're still slow on that end.

Anyhow: the job is for a Copy Editor with some journalist duties, and also i'll likely do some radio production and even photography for them. Articles to be written about arts, culture, and travel. In fact, there's no job for me to fill, but after looking at my credentials, the guy thinks there's room in the budget to take me on in order to improve the product of CRI's English program and website.

Hard to ask for a sweeter intro into the world of media. It won't pay much, but it's livable for China. Shit, i'm really exiting my former chosen career in education! Oh baby. We had our times, kids.

Oh, and also this is state-owned media, but produced for people outside of China. This gives us a bit more freedom, but there's no denying the hilarious fact that I'll be employed by the CHINESE GOVERNMENT! Well, there ya go, kids. Whodathunkit.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Detonate Intellectual War

I bought a can of walnut drink the other day. Quite tasty. Supposedly good for the brain. Marketed towards students.

I ignored the third word of the text which said it was Pulped Walnut Latex Product.

But below that, it stated quite beautifully: "POWER: Detonate Intellectual War."

Not quite sure what that meant, but I knew I had to drink it.


China has a reputation for producing knock offs. Fake iPhones, fake Gucci bags, fake baby food, you name it.. There's also a lot of fake alcohol. Even a 60 cent bottle of 40% baijiu can be fake. Shots of tequila from the bar taste like tequila but they don't pack the same punch. Unless you're in a swank spot, it's always safer to stick to beer.

The other night i felt like drinking scotch, which i haven't had in a long time. So i went to buy a bottle from an int'l grocery store, but Qianqian advised me that the Russian convenience store would be cheaper.

It wasn't, but the selection was better. So i was able to choose a bottle of Glenfiddich single malt scotch, which was about CAD $40. Fine. My dad will be in BJ before long, so I don't want to disappoint him with Johnny Walker Red Label.

Upon returning home, I poured a couple glasses, toasted w/ my brother, and enjoyed. Mm good. But not that good. Sometimes i really enjoy my drink and other times not. But really. This should've tasted better than that. It tasted ok, in fact, but definitely did not taste like 40%. I was disappointed. Q said i should take it back and graciously offered to accompany me.

We went down to the store w/ a glass in hand, and said, “It's fake. We don't want it. You try it. Can we get our money back please?”

“No. It's real.”

“No, it's not. I've drank this before. It's not the same.” (Although my brain was actually struggling to recall whatever Glenfiddich tasted like).

A supervisor came in. Telephone calls were made. One converstion included suspicious information such as “He' a foreigner. In his 20s. Maybe a student.” I realized I shouldn't have dressed so casually.

We were told that the bottle would be sent for a quality control check up. It could take a week or so before we were notified of the result.

It was turning into too much hassle. I suggested to Q that we forget it and split, (to which she commented I was being a nerd).

She told them said we'd handle it tonight or she'd call the police. She said to me, “You're 100% sure it's fake, so why should you be worried?” To myself I thought, “Only 85% sure, actually.”

So what could happen? They send it off for quality check. Somebody says, “Sorry it's real,” and that's the end of it. I was scared that my tastebuds were going to be put to the test.

Five minutes later, a full refund was silently slipped onto the counter, which we pocketed before slipping out.

Success! I wasn't stuck w/ a $40 bottle of mystery scotch. We had beat the system. Or rather, Q had. She was admittedly annoyed that I had considered ducking out, after I had dragged her into the situation. But in her mind, of COURSE we'd get the money back, from this store which was totally loaded with illegally imported and untaxed goods. Well. What would the foreigner know about how things work?

The lesson: don't buy booze (cheap OR expensive) from the sketchy Russian store. Or other sketchy establishments, for that matter.