Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 30 - i Love My Job (for today, at least)

Have you ever thought, "i love my job"? i might've once before when i worked at a sorta hip cafe when i was 20something, but not since then. (and obviously, noone loves cafe work for the LT.)

'Til today.

Didn't go into the office today, 'cause i had managed to set up three interviews w/ architects.

First, i was rather surprised i even managed to score an interview w/ Zaha Hadid Architects, since they're one of the hottest firms on the planet right now, but i interviewed the director of TWO massive Beijing projects right now, Galaxy Soho and Wangjing Soho. i laid aside my list of questions, but we basically covered everything through our wandering and totally fascinating conversation. Smart dude. i might take him up on his offer to tour the Galaxy Soho site.

Then i went to shoot photos of another site. Flash a business card, and ask people to let you into their top floor offices to take photos, and most people will shrug and show you the way. Score.

And also talking to Beijingers on the street about the projects, and getting them to explain themselves. There's three responses. "It's great, why wouldn't everyone love it?" "I don't understand it. I don't know if it looks good or bad. I don't get it." and one super cool lady who was selling barbecue skewers who initially said she had nothing to say before eventually talking my ear off about how it's totally wrong to put this sort of massive new structure into the hallowed grounds within the Second Ring Road, and it pays no respect to tradition, and old Beijingers got cheated out of their homes, and it'll be all foreigners working in the new building, and all the Beijingers will have to move outside of the 6th Ring Rd, etc, etc. i was really disappointed that she wouldn't give me her name or let me take a picture. Hell, she didn't even want me to write about her ideas... but i don't know if i can keep that many nuggets of gold to myself...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Day 28 - Questions

I'm frantically trying to throw together 3 articles about modern architecture in BJ this week, trying to get interviews w/ the architecture companies. In the event that i actually get to interview some people, i wrote some questions. And dang, i think some of them are pretty darn good.

Note: BJ's got some pretty wild building slated to be built. They look so cool, i can almost forget about their cost and elitist orientation...

1.         The design of _________ is massive in scale, creating a strong impact on the viewer. Is bigger always better?

2.         The design is distinctly modern, but also alien. Alien, referring to something beyond the Earth clearly goes beyond boundaries of countries. Can this design be dropped into any country or any location? How does this building fit into Beijing differently than it would in another country or city?

3.         Many people complain that Beijing is just a testing ground for international architects, implying that these buildings wouldn't be built in other international cities. What would be your defense to this?

4.         There was a real interest in sci-fi influenced design in the 1970's. The design of __________ seems to fit into a revival of futuristic or outer space design. What do you think about the past and future of this trend?

5.         Why is architecture happening today called "futuristic"? Why isn't all architecture "futuristic"?

Busy today, work taking longer than it should. And then dwelling on some troubles that some close friends are going through in the side moments. Metta, metta...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 27 - Sad News

On top of yesterday's bad news comes more today.

When bad things happen to close friends, it can affect you strangely directly. Sorry, i don't have much more to say than that.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 26 - Rest in Peace, Sofia Rumeau

i got a message on Facebook today from my friend Sofia's daughter that my friend Sofia in Paris has just passed away.

i worked with Sofia in 2004 at the France Vipassana centre, and she generously invited me to stay with her husband and 2 (of 5) kids in the Paris suburbs. i lived with them for a full month during which time she and her husband repeatedly and emphatically insisted that i was not in any way imaginable overstaying my welcome.

Sofia was a truly unique person, born in Portugal of African descent. Reared 5 children from 4 (maybe 5) different fathers. All but 1 of whom loved her to bits as far as i could ascertain.

She was also tuned in to higher planes. Vipassana courses are a very logical and scientific form of inward exploration, but in these courses Sofia alone had the most interesting visions of and dialogues with enlightened beings (Buddha, Jesus). In one course i myself had a vision of Chinese faces which passed through my mind's eye in procession. Some old, some young, each one perfectly detailed. i wondered, "Wow, is my subconscious creating all these uniquely realistic faces?" Sofia later matter of factly commented, "No, those were angels." i never questioned how she knew.

She was somehow touched. Born in silence, not crying, she entered the world in refusal to demonstrate the suffering which Buddha uses to describe humanity's condition. In fact she was mute for 2 years or more, until her father finally used his belt to discover if she could cry out loud or not.

She suffered much violence from her father, yet also described fondly his hospitality at feeding any people and any number, friends or beggars, who happened to be near the house at a meal time.

Sofia had a touch of clairvoyance, and sometimes her desires were granted. She had wanted to independently give birth to a child, and did so once. Attempting to walk the miles to the hospital, she stopped at the side of the road and delivered her own child using her only her own hands.

There was in fact much suffering throughout her life. At the time when i met her, her marriage to Jack was starting to fall apart. i ended up acting as a buffer zone between them, even offering to act as a moderator to help them communicate. i wasn't surprised to hear later that Jack had left her, but it was a real blow to Sofia. She became reclusive.

Things for her became worse when one of her sons wound up dying destitute. i had met him a couple times and he was doing okay, but it was clear that he of all the siblings was unhappy. Sofia was devastated by his final downward spiral, but could only say that he had chosen his own path. Her love for her children was unrestrained.

She and i had discussed recording her memoirs, and it's a tragedy that this was never done. Her unembellished stories were amazing and touching.

i regret that i never really paid back her generosity. i regret that i let my fading skills in French prevent me from keeping contact with her. i regret that i started a letter to her just last week that was never sent.

Sofia, je t'embrasse trop fort. Je souhaite que tu as trouver ton paix.

Day 25 - Breathe Easy(ish)

Oh. So that's what it feels like when you don't take your work home with you. Nice.

Funny. The CRI website has 4 "recommended" articles on it. They're all by me.

And due to someone's slip up my official job as copy editor is delayed by another week, and so i'm on reporter duty for another stretch. Everyone says how boring it is to do copy editing, though my employer tried to convey how important it is to step up the quality of the CRI website content. And yes, it can be pretty shit.

Today two people (and one was my supervisor) said i should push to get on the air doing talk radio, to make life at CRI bearable. Really. i don't want to be a downer or anything, 'cause really i'm stoked to be doing this stuff. But everyone at CRI talks about how working there sucks the enthusiasm out of you. "You need to stop caring" they commonly say. Oh come on people. Can't you let me dream for just a little bit?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 24 - Damn Americans

What? It's thanksgiving AGAIN? Oh fine already.

i'm thankful to have a new job.
i'm thankful to have bust out of education.
i'm thankful to have been in education.
i'm thankful for my VPN.
i'm thankful for the bit of patience i have.
i'm thankful to be at least slightly cognizant of a Buddhist perspective.
i'm thankful that some strange beings still read my ramblings.
i'm thankful that i have enough self awareness to know i'm slightly grumpy and underslept right now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 23 - Spa La La

Dang, missed a day. Busy chilling in the hot springs.
Did 2 in 1 day. That makes for a lot of running, rescheduled interviews, and blazing through as many hot pools as possible in 25 minutes.

Broke some rules with a cool taxi driver.
Interviewed someone who was apparently sort of famous.
Drank beer brewed at the hot spring.
Turned down the VIP tour. 'Cause that would be waste of time.
And i had none.
Talked my way into the hot springs after me and my boss received repeated prior refusals.
Skipped lunch for the first time in like a decade.
Worked several hours of overtime.

And enjoyed the last hot spring that much more.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 22 - Sick Girlfriend

Q's sick. She went in to the TCM doctor today, where they stuck massive needles into her neck. Then came the flame-heated cups to suck about a cup's worth of tainted blood out. Hurt like a bitch, apparently. Now she's all freaked out that she's supposed to do it again tomorrow.

And the next day.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 21 - Biked Out

Rode to work today.

75 min to get there.

Longer to get back.

It was cold out.

But i felt pretty good.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 20 - Finishing Touches Finished

Untitled (temporarily)
By statusq
Acrylic paint and duct tape on canvas

Well, last weekend i did work on my painting, but finished it just the other day. Still working on the title though. Like many things, it took a long time and a lot more work and frustration than is apparent in the final product. But now i feel pretty satisfied.

Here's what one critic said about it:

Red duct tape which simultaneously references the Communist flag and tools of common labour is delineated from a virtually black night sky. Partly figurative, hinting at abstraction, the towering buildings give a spatial two point perspective dynamism to the composition. Communist stars are distorted into organic splatters, creating a dichotomy with the rigidly structured city which they seek to dominate.

Wow, that guy know what he's talking about, apparently.

I also have a partner painting to go with this one, but i'm a bit uninspired/lost for the moment. Maybe next weekend.(Don't ask about the song. That one's moving backwards).

Day 19 - Cold Weather

Saw this movie a while ago and really dug it. My bro saw brief intermittent moments of it and thought it seemed dull. Q left about an hour into it.

This is the movie that convinced me to read Sherlock Holmes (also, Haruki Murakami mentions Holmes stories now and again in his novels). And there's no doubt that there's this all-pervading sense of normalcy that manages to stick to even the most Hollywood aspects of the stripper, heist and chase scenes. I absolutely love the way the adrenaline has been pried out of every moment.

The dialogue is achingly mundane. But not boring. Just like regular ol' good conversation. And this sense of the everyday is what makes watching inevitable turns of events so interesting to watch when they play out.

Also, i feel like i know these people. Working graveyard shift of a Prince Rupert salmon canning factory puts me right at eye level with the sort of environment these characters live in. Also the protagonist is weirdly similar to the guy who used to drum in my band.

Well, that's just my opinion. Frankly i was kinda weirded out to see a review whereupon Roger Ebert positively drooled all over it.

So anyhow. As the December approaches and the temperatures drop, you may (or may not) enjoy this lovely piece of indie cinema.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 18 - JiuHua Resort - In Hot Water

Hot Springs visit #2.

The Tibetan Bath and Massage was alright, but really the highlight was sitting in the outdoor rock pool filled with Chinese herb suffused waters, along with a dozen wrinkly old Chinese folks, all of us perfectly distracted from our sagging skin by the China vs Germany women's volleyball game, as shown on the sort of large TV screen.

It's perfect really: as the stress and tension arises, they're simultaneously relaxed and dissipated.

(China won.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 17 - The Real Dirt

Tonight me and Q walked to pick up her dry cleaning. She was so happy to see her black clothes delivered so clean and shiny. If you didn't know she's a real clean freak about her clothes.

Back outside our apartment, we stopped so she could buy a roasted sweet potato, and i held her clothes for her. Then i thought it'd be a good idea to fetch a plastic bag outta my bag. (A plastic bag saved is a plastic bag earned.)

And i was sure i had all three pieces of clothing secured. Not realizing that there were four. And the rebellious fourth snuck out and hurled itself onto the ground, which was covered in particularly muddy mud.

Q was furious. She gets that way about pristine clothes. i felt bad about it, but not that bad. But there was no question, how it managed to elude both my arm and also its plastic sheathing was a real Houdini move. That fucker. Q angrily threw the forlorn sweet potato to the soggy ground before attempting to wipe the mud off of the other wrapped clothes.

Then we somberly marched back to the cleaners so the lady could laugh at us. Q was mad, humphing and pinching me occasionally. It's true, she knows no middle ground in terms of anger. But... it was kinda sweet somehow. We came back, had a smoke, and then she played some Patrick Duff for me while i put the finishing touches on my painting.

His guitar reminds me of the Jesus and Mary Chain.

pic from

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 16 - The Good Life

Today. Out on assignment from CRI to report on hot springs. Sent out to a reasonably posh place where most tourists are Japanese and Korean.

An attractive young lady with a bit of English struggles through my interview questions and gives me a thorough tour.

At the end, I'm like, Okay, can i use the hot springs now?

"Oh you want to go IN the springs?"
"Yes, then I can write about how i feel about them."
"But then you need to pay." (Ridiculous! i already phoned twice and they said i could try things out) "Or we can give you a discount."

My supervisor tells me there's no budget for it.

Me and the woman argue a bit, eventually i speak to another manager, she calls another manager, he makes a phone call, and then i'm told, "No problem. We give you complimentary spa and food. No massage." (Well beggars can't be choosers.)

Ahhhhh, so soooothing and relaaaaaxing....

Day 16 - You Gotta Problem Wid Dat?

So i missed a day. Sue me.

Work: I don't particularly like being assigned to write shit that's essentially advertising for high end hotels. i'm going to try and bend the piece into an article about Slow Food.

That's it.

But here's a couple of my favourite youtube vids to keep you entertained!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 14- Officially Working For China State Media

First day on the new job. Reporting in the travel section for 2 weeks before getting switched over to copy editing. Which everyone says i gotta get out of.

Already got one article up online.

And now researching/writing a piece on Beijing hot springs. As of Wed, i'll be out to interview people and have a hot tub.

And assigned to attend a lecture and interview a photographer/blogger on Saturday.

All things considered, a pretty sweet intro to the new job.

And after work, came downtown w/ a handful of coworkers for 2 for 1 burgers (mine was portobello) and beers.

Welcome to China state media.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 13 - It's Not Money; It's Momentum

What makes the world go around?

For the time being, i think it's just that we, and the systems which we are stuck in, are in so deep that we can't figure out how to make a figurative left hand turn.

My dad recently told me that nobody trades in stocks in denominations of less than 100, and advised me to quit pissing around buying 20 of this or that stock. (Hey, those 20 stocks cost me $500, Dad!)

So i'm presently selling off a bunch of losing stocks. Lots of the stocks, like Carmanah Tech, look like this:

i just threw a bunch of money at some green companies in an effort to get money out of the bank system, whose ethics ought not be admired. i looked at a few charts, and bought some stocks that didn't seem to be dying any faster than the others.


Some really are dying faster than others.

Well that is annoying. For now, i prefer not to count up the total amount lost, or the equivalent number of hours spent attaining said sum.

i'm not big into money, since i grew up comfortably enough, and prefer not to think about it too much. But i know that that's exactly how the Wall Street CEO's like it. So i should be more informed and aware of money dealings. But fuck, is it boring.

Also, my financial self-education is pretty limited, taking cues from Youtube videos, like the one below. Which i suspect is true, though i still haven't taken his advice. My bad.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 12 - Improving the Soil Conditions

It's official. Today we started a compost on the balcony. i pray it doesn't stink up or get fruit fly infestation as i occasionally had in Van.

Mostly i want to improve the shitass dry soil that i got from the store, which basically prevented most seeds from even sprouting, and even the mint requires watering every 3 days.

Paired up with BJ's summer heat, the excessive sunshine didn't help matters.

Here's to better days, and fresh greens and cherry tomatoes for the salad. When shit falls apart, we'll just subsist happily in the apartment for another 24 hours before facing the desperate mobs below...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 11 - Single's Day

That many single digits of singular value can only mean one thing: today is SINGLE'S DAY. You poor suckers in North America have no day to celebrate a life which hasn't tossed a partner onto your pathway. So. Why don't you guy find some other lonely souls and have dinner together. Ironically, Singles Day is to help people hook up.

News: CRI called me today to ask me to start up on Monday. Sure ok, can do.

Sorry to the Chinese school. i went in today, and they gave me another free 3 hrs of trial lesson, and i promised them to be back on Mon. But now i'll have to stand them up.

i guess now i really need to exploit my last few hours of free time. Speak of the devil. i got me a deadline. Who's an [artist's] best friend?

pic from

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 10 - (Not) Enough Time

If you had more time, what would you do with it?
-Read more?
-Spend more time with friends and family?
-Play music?
-Create art?
-Write a book?

Well, I'm blessed to have quite a bit of time these days, being underemployed and all. I could (and should) a bit more than i do, but tend to get distracted or lack motivation.

In fact, i try to do everything on the list above, though frankly get embarrassingly little done. It's easy to waste time on things of little consequence (although i have really been enjoying the hours of Twin Peaks lately.)

Also, in order to make myself more productive i'm going to re-enter Chinese classes tomorrow, and then hit Greenpeace for a few hours.

Inspiration on the painting and song have dwindled sharply. Deadlines are an [artist's] best friend: and i have none. If anyone out there would help me commit to a timeline, i'd certainly appreciate it. ie) If anyone out there wants to complete a song within 24 or 48 hours, i swear i'll do it too (or at least a working version).

Also, i wrote a 4500 word piece of creative nonfiction, and have been wasting all sorts of time trying to find a publisher. Sorely disappointed that Vice magazine didn't take it, since i don't know who else deals with both literature and trash...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 9 - Twin Peaks

i started watching Twin Peaks, that old TV show, possibly the weirdest stuff to ever hit mainstream television, thanks to the gifted likes of David Lynch.

i love it.

i love Detective Cooper.

And i love apple pie (and coffee).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 8 - Being a Model Citizen

Models always say that being a model is hard work. That's bullshit.

(Kind of).

Okay, I was on site for 9 hours. But most of it was waiting around. Got well- fed, including booze for dinner.

3 boy models, 3 girls, and about 20 other people onsite, about 1/2 flown in from Shanghai.

The hard work part was acting like an energetic teenager, repeatedly swinging from the light system, climbing over shaky scaffolding, clamboring over rusty fences, or jumping off dangerously high speaker stacks. Now my thighs are sore, and i ripped a toenail somehow.

I dug how the first thing that happened for each shoot was someone would take the shiny shoes, take them outside, and return w/ dirt and grease all over them. Later they'd stomp on your feet a few times for good measure.

At one point, me and the girl model were sitting in a graffiti'd up van from the dump, and the producer, director, photographer and videographer were directing us. "Ok Kyla. Now get behind him. Look him in the eyes. Walk up. Good, now straddle him. Wil. Put your hands on her legs. No not her bum, her legs!" They all seemed to think that was pretty hilarious. Looking into my eyes, she said, "It's ok. Just pretend I'm your girlfriend." We both had a smoke after that shoot.

Many outfits later, and bearing freezing temperatures in t-shirts, me and everyone else was happy to call it a day. i got paid a lot more than i'd expected, which is great. Yes, you can make a living for looking pretty, but i sure as hell wouldn't want to do this regularly: having photographers ask you to look more excited, and then being told by producers to stop making faces, and then being told by photographers to look more excited again. And then the producers laughing at the faces you make when the chick is practically giving you a lap dance.

Apparently the footage may end up in videos shown in taxis across the country. If so, i'll post it for ya.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 7 - One of Those Skate Shoes Companies Wants Me

Today, i went up to some hotel room and tried on some clothes for a stylist.

10 or so fashionable people (and 1 semi-pro skater) were bustling about. Healthy chunk of foreigners. All spoke pretty good English.

Tomorrow morn we go to a club to do a fashion shoot for the website.

My friend's gf had called me to ask if I was interested. "Sure, I'm free. Does it pay?"

They wanted musician-types. Although later it was clarified that ugly musicians need not apply. Or those who don't fit into skinny jeans.

Weird. This city of 18 million other slanty-eyed people, and this is the 3rd time i get asked to model. It's my double eyelids for sure. And i did notice that one of the producers had hers glued up...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 6 - In Space Noone Can Hear You Yawn

So these 5 Europeans and 1 Chinese dude spent over EIGHTEEN MONTHS in a fake space station, simulating a trip to Mars and back.

1.5 years of airplane food.
Windowless rooms.
Man to Man bonding.

Talks with family members and mission control included 20 minute delays to mimic the distance.

But don't worry, they had books and DVDs.
Time to wax philosophical.

Why no women? Many volunteered, none chosen. Because shit went down the last time that a woman was on a 110 day simulated mission, when a Russian forcibly tried to stick his tongue down her throat a couple times, and Mission Control didn't think it was a big deal. This prompted the departure of a disgusted Japanese crew member.

Russia's RIA Novosti news agency: "After all, women are fragile and delicate creatures; that is why men should lead the way to distant planets and carry women there in their strong hands."

No comment.

Anyhow, wouldn't it feel great to play a pivotal role in enabling humanity to survive on Mars after we fuck over Mother Earth? Yes! But is it worth 520 days that could otherwise be spent procreating? Maybe...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Day 5 - Til Death Do We Live

At present, I'm reading the following books:

Sherlock Holmes - The Complete Novels and Stories. Pretty good, though the stories have started to feel repetitive, with different details. Now i'm just hitting the stories highlighted on the back cover blurb.

The Copy-editor's Handbook - Kind of a nerdy, yet surprisingly interesting look at keeping keeping grammar consistent.


The Words of My Perfect Teacher, a book about the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. This book, had a pretty damn dull beginning, but it's certainly gotten better, and I was into this idea in it about death. Meditating on death every night, 'cause you might not wake up in the morning. Meditate on death each morning, because there's no guarantee you'll make it to nightfall.

Even Mr Steve Jobs (who i'm rather sick of seeing and hearing about all the bloody time) said something about how if he goes through too many days feeling like he wouldn't feel satisfied if they were his last days, then something needs to change.

Unfortunately, these thoughts on death don't yet rouse me to action. For this week, before i die, i wanna: finish that painting, write another song, study more Chinese, talk a bit more w/ my girlfriend.

Day 4 - Greenpeace

Well, when yr barely working, you have time for things like... surfing the internet! And... reading books! But more likely surfing the internet!

But also, I've been hanging out at the Greenpeace South Asia office a bit. It's alright. Volunteering in China for an enviro organization has been on my list of things to do for a long time, and some woman in a club who worked there totally said it would be useful for me to do so. So i did.

And it's true, they put me to work. i do internet research on Google Analytics. i write media guides to tell new employees about social networking media and how to take good digital photos, and how to write for a digital audience. i choose photos to create thematic and artistic essays.

In some ways, i admit it would feel better if i were actually getting paid for it, but that's just how it rolls sometimes.

Anyhow it's cool to know that there's other enviro heads in China (inc lots of locals), and they all seem pretty caj.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 3 - BlogHim

Gotta say. 

Nablopomo (National Blog Posting Month) had its own website, which recently closed. 

The new website hosted on 

The organizer loudly states clearly that Yes, men are still more than welcome. 

But frankly, i'm not particularly keen. 

And i consider myself of an egalitarian feminist than yr average joe. 

i feel excluded.

Or out of place. 

Is this how women felt about the Walkman? 

I don't mean to complain (for fear of being compared to those idiots who started Straight Pride or something). 

Just sayin'. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day 2 - PalindromemordnilaP (MOM and DAD)

Today is 2011-11-02. Woohoo!oohoow.
Palindromes are oft believed to be good luck.

Today was also the last day of my parents' 2 week visit to China. My bro and i showed them a rather good time. We're both barely employed, which gives them reason to nag here and there, but it also freed us up to really take them around, which i was totally unable to do the last time they were in town. In fact we hung out way more than in Calgary even.

Me and D really played the Good Sons, i thought, by organizing most everything, getting them transit passes, playing tour guides, picking up and dropping off, all that.

Also me and my folks ducked out to visit Pingyao, the incredibly well-preserved Qing dynasty financial capital of China. Which they enjoyed, despite the offences of every noise and inconvenience which make the place charming.

Other stuffs:
-Patiently let my mom shop as much as she wanted.
-w/ Q's help lined up many quality eateries.
-and a few select cheap-o ones.
-went to see a Puccini opera.
-taught Mom how to use a cell phone.
-forced my mom to appreciate modern art (and Ai Weiwei)
-Got drunk a couple times drinking baijiu with my dad.

If you didn't know it, my parents are actually pretty cool. i'm a lucky kid.

But back to the palindromes (note the cyclic structure) here's Weird Al to drive the point home.