Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day 30: Slipping

Yet again, I fail to post my blog on time. And the later we got in the month, the more often i posted late.

In addition, my daily meditations are less consistent than they used to be in the last month or 2. Maybe 30 seconds of awareness while sitting on the subway or the can is all i get in in a day.

Also, I totally don't do push ups daily any more, though i did about ten yesterday before i went to sleep.

Well, at least i still floss pretty much everyday.

I don't think that any of this is a big problem, though it's nothing to be proud about. But hey, at least I DID the 30 days of blogging, late or not.

And thanks to you, reader(s)! i really appreciate having an audience, whoever the hell you are. May we all move forwards in life in a forgiving way, taking and sharing the good we find.

Oh, and happy american thx giving.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Day 29: Culture

Got free tix from CRI to go see this dance performance called Heartbeat of Home. It's a modern Irish-dance piece w/ Afro and Cuban influences. And tap. Lots of tap.

I figured me and Yoyo could check it out since... The show employs high-definition, cutting-edge projection technology and has an engaging narrative structure. 

So, yeah it was a good performance, but truthfully that stuff's not really my cup of tea. I was struggling not to doze off for quite a bit of it. Mostly i just feel that Yoyo hasn't had much exposure, so of course we should chk out an int'l quality theater piece. 

But I'm a bit of a philistine, i can't deny.

Day 28: Missed It

These people gave me some wine to take home. 'Cause obviously they were all hammered.

Oops, fell of the wagon there. Busy working. Time Out magazine's bar and nightlife awards. Generally pretty boring. I was there to shoot pix and write up a short article. But there was lots to drink. So me and the CRI crew all got reasonably tanked by the end of the night, and frankly it was pretty fun.

I also had a drawn out conversation with a guy who i met once before, who wasn't in a very good place. He was being all negative about video and media and state media and Vice magazine and everything, and i was calling him out on the BS. i could see he was getting mad, and i was actually trying to steer the conversation into happier directions, but i found myself incapable of accepting his BS or letting it slide. He actually said i was bullying him. To everyone in the room but me, it was perfectly obvious that i needed to stop talking to this guy. At any rate, i knew his head wasn't in a good state, and obviously had other shit going on. And he might've been as tipsy as i was. Somehow we got separated and our mutual friend even advised me not to apologize even. And i was like, "I don't know if I can do that." And he was like, "No. Just drop it. Don't say anything. Drop it." So i did, feeling kinda awkward about it. Then the other guy made an exit and disappeared and nobody knows where he went after that.

Anyhow, i usually think i'm a bit more empathetic than that. Or at least a better judge of where someone's at. Or at least not a bully. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 27: Lindy Fuckin' Hop

Me and Yoyo went to a bar to take an intro swing dance lesson today. It was the Chinese class. Pretty darn fun. Though neither one felt very talented at it. That's ok, there were other fumblers.

The format required people to switch partners every 5 min which was pretty funny. 'Cause really, everybody dances different, some really sharp, some less so. Yoyo wasn't so lucky 'cause the shortage of men required her to dance w/ a couple women posing as dudes. But Yoyo was also lucky 'cause she got to dance w/ a couple teacher dudes. So later she could criticize my 20 minutes of technique to the pros.

Pretty fun gang, though generally everybody was too busy trying to dance to do any, you know, chatting.

Also the class price included a beer. SCOOOOOORE!

There's two kinds of swing dance. Lindy Hop is looser and slower. Balboa, which is closer and has faster quick leg moves. We think we like Lindy Hop better. And it's pbly marginally easier.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day 26: Job stuffs

Talked  long and hard w/ my employer about why i deserve a 5% raise instead of the standard 4% raise. Yeah, petty, but it seemed like an honor thing. For a 2 yearer I'm apparently already paid more than the average worker at CRI. 

Well, i convinced him by saying stuff like, "I work for travel section. Do you know how many time CRI sent me out this year? Zero. And yes, I did go to Changchun, Guizhou, Qinghai and Gansu. All those trips were arranged by me, never cost CRI a penny, at times paid out of pocket."

Also, stood up for the misunderstood video team, who I'm only sort of a part of. Because we all work hard to produce good work, when the difference between a great video and a mediocre one isn't really understood or appreciated by our employer. 

In other news, Yoyo quit her job. Which has been the bane of her existence since she got it. I always recommended that she just do her job and do it well, or quit (even though the money was quite good). Now the plan is to do some easier or PT work and... study English!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Day 25: The Numbers Game

I wrote a piece for CRI some months ago that was basically a filler piece about Beijing vs. Shanghai vs. Hong Kong. I interviewed like one guy (who likes talking) who'd lived in all three cities. And my great aunt. It was imo, the worst piece of writing I've ever done for CRI. Like super inadequately researched and far far far from comprehensive. Mostly just my fluff opinions.

By the time i finished it, i really thought it was a piece of shit.

I was informed this morning that it's pbly the most popular piece i've written for CRI getting thousands of hits every month.

I just don't know what to think about this.

Day 24: The More Than One Child Policy

So China's loosened its one child policy. Whereas before only two siblingless spouses could have more than one baby, now if only one spouse has a sibling, the law will permit them to have two kids.

But the law never really stopped people from having kids if they had the money to pay the fines.

It did stop some other people from having kids, though. People in rougher parts of the country had to deal with law enforcers who brutally forced sterilizations and abortions.

So most people (inside and out of China) are happy about this step forwards.

Though some remain cynical, such as one blogger (whose comment was quickly deleted by... someone), who said, “It’s funny how human rights work around here. Our government took hostage our basic rights not to be tortured and to decide the size of our family years ago. Now that they are trading it back to us in tiny drips and drops, are we somehow expected to kowtow in gratitude and say our heartiest thank you?”

There's no doubt that the one child policy was rife with injustice, bad interpretations of the law, and bad actions carried out. No wonder everyone hated it. No doubt the loosening of the law is an egalitarian step forwards.


You probably know that i view everything through environmentally coloured glasses. And I am very very concerned about the effect that the human population is having on the planet. And the effect that people in developed nations have on the planet is much much bigger than those in 2nd/3rd world countries.

Hell, it takes a lot of resources to build our airports and ski lifts, to heat and carpet our homes, to bring us our French wine and imported quinoa. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. And you can bet that the growing Chinese population will also quickly develop their taste for imported wine and warm homes. Trust me.

I always think about my grade 12 biology class, when I learned about the population J-curve.

So in fact, i recall the above right-hand graph in reference to fruit flies living in a closed system whereupon they reached the point where they'd consumed their resources faster than the resources could be regenerated, and the J-curve essentially mirrored itself.

Slow rise, fast incline, peak, fast decline, then slowing down after the masses had died.

I fear the decline, and weirdly think about it a lot, come to think of it.

So human rights problems and all, I still support the one child policy for China. In fact, I support one child policies for every country. Yes, I know that's a huge simplification that doesn't address many developed countries and provinces with declining populations, etc, etc.

But still, I worry that on the whole, the planet's population is probably already beyond the planet's carrying capacity. Our at least for the way we live. And hell, who doesn't want to live the high life? Who wouldn't want to take a free airplane to Guizhou to run a 100km? Who wouldn't complain to the boss that Hey I Write for the Travel Section, So Why Don't You Send Me Somewhere? I admit it, I finally relented and stopped buying Chinese wine. It generally sucks, and there's places to get cheaply priced stuff from Australia or wherever.

In my heart, I feel that there will be a time when things on this planet will be very unpleasant for Humanity in general. I suspect that you and I will see a little bit of what that will look like. The one child policy is just one factor, but it's definitely a much much bigger factor than statusq choosing to use public transit/bike to go to work.

Pic by me, taken during the Guizhou race. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Day 24: Woe

I wrote a blog, and then the VPN crashed when trying to upload a picture. So now it's gone. And the VPN won't reload. And it's almost 1am. So this is all the effervescent blog you get today.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Day 22: Call It Charity

I went to this rather mainstream bar named after a prostitute, and known for being frequented by prostitutes (and dudes with money), 'cause the subway Halloween party promoter invited me to maybe shoot some footage.

Turned out the event wasn't exactly news worthy.

Then somebody else emailed me about it. I said i could edit something together for them for a fee.

He offered free admittance into hiphop clubs, and free drinks if he's on duty.

Frankly, that offer is pretty darn uninteresting.

But the i-ching advised me to be more friendly. So i'll be friendly. Maybe make some connections.

Anyhow, there's footage of sexy dancing girls there, so it's fun enough to throw together.

Pic courtesy of the Chinese Govt

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Day 21: Good Lord, What's Happened to Pop Music Today???

Yesterday, a Chinese coworker was listening to music on his tablet, and it sounded pretty good. "It's Lorde," he said. "She's No. 1 on Billboard."

Oh. Never heard of her. No. 1, you say. So i checked her out. Listened to her song. Listened to her EP. Listened to her LP. Read her Wikipedia page.

And wow, she's rad. I can hardly believe music this good could climb the charts. The songs are all catchy, clean and intelligent. No shit songs hiding amongst the hits. She cites the writings of Raymond Carver as a lyrical influence. Her lyrics critique consumer and pop culture.

Kinda reminds me of a catchier Grimes, but swapping the fairy voice for one reminiscent of Amy Winehouse.

Anyhow, I haven't been punched in the face by music so hard since, maybe, Washed Out, who i frankly got bored of kinda fast. Hmmmmmmmmm...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Day 19: The Voice

I did a vid a while ago, and a radio dj talked to me for a rather long time afterwards about how to Develop My Voice, since he thought my voice sounded particularly unconvincing and lacking authority.

He was right, of course. It was a story about an autumn red leaf festival, and i was half-heartedly trying to sound soothing. Anyhow, today i finished an audio piece about the 100KM race, which i feel is def one of the better radio stories i've done. My brother thinks the voice is over the top at times, and he thinks the overall tone is too jokey. But whatever; he's a critic., if you're interested.

Also, I used one of my own tracks to back it up. Browsing royalty-free tracks can easily waste hours trying to find something suitable. Then again, i did steal a clip of music from Jaws, and i'm pretty sure that was illegal.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Day 18: Black Friday, hooray?

I thought my coworker was looking at an Onion article when I saw this Black Friday Amazon ad on her screen. The term "Black Friday" dates back to 1869, where it was first used to describe a financial crisis. Now millions of people associate it more with assaults, shootings and tramplings: the ugly face of extreme consumerism.

Well leave it to the powers that be to culturally appropriate or co-opt the idea, "cool-ifying" it to sell some NB sneakers.

But hell, 45% off! Who can resist? 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day 18: Fight?

A few months ago, Yoyo said she thought it was terrible that i didn't wash my feet daily before going to bed, and that lint from my socks was getting into the bed. She wanted me to wash my feet daily.

i figured it was kinda like a cultural thing, so i agreed and promised to do so but, on the condition that she also commit do doing something, so i suggested that she draw a picture daily for one month. 

She promised. 

But then she found it hard to find the time and frame of mind where she could draw something daily. So she made some attempts, but i found that i was often having to remind her to draw something. i found myself rather annoyed washing my feet daily when she hadn't lived up to her half of the bargain. 

Fair enough, she is sometimes stressed out from work, sometimes working a lot of overtime. And according to her, drawing something isn't something that she likes taking lightly. I figured that drawing something could take as little as 30 seconds, but according to her drawing something for the sake of drawing something in order to follow a schedule was not pleasant, and so when she got busy she would drop off of the consecutive drawings. 

And that always disappointed me. 

In a way, it's ridiculous for me to be mad about such a thing, but i figured it was a question of living up to one's commitments, and about me being able to trust her to keep her promises. She thought it was a fine idea when she promised, but apparently in day to day life, found it untenable. 

Also, it's true that this idea of the handshake promise is more of a western thing than a Chinese thing. 

So maybe i shouldn't be annoyed at all, but i am. 

Anyhow, here's what the Iching just advised about this situation: 

"34. Much Force

Line 1:

Strength is in the feet.
Undertakings bring misfortune.
Have confidence.
There is not enough of a foundation yet to set forth in this situation. Pushing ahead won't work. Have patience."

Friday, November 15, 2013

Day 16: Short and Sweet

Yesterday my wife came home and we went to bed late. then we slept in. Then this morning we had fantastic sex. Then i made breakfast. 

Day 15: Wechat/Wexin

Over here in China, there was Weibo. Kinda like Facebook-slash-Twitter, but more w/ the public as opposed to w/ friends. It's pretty lame: i suspect that 96% of my 168 "friends" are computer generated and propagated nobodies hoping for me to click on their profiles for some unknown reason.

It was most useful when actual news happened, as it got word out fast. Ex) a train fell off the tracks. A passenger posted on Weibo as it got help faster than calling 911.

Anyhow, pretty much everyone was using Weibo to keep the world updated on their lives.

Then Weixin (WeChat) came in, but only for mobile phone devices. And in a shockingly short time took over Weibo. Nobody asks for yr Weibo contact anymore.

Weixin really did carve out a niche for chatting/group chatting. My running group's Weixin group is pretty active.

Even my brother uses it, bizarrely enough.

I don't use it for updates about my life, or even read other people's much though. But people who do use it, can be obsessive. ie) 14:38: "Look, the baby's head is just starting to come out!"  14:42: "It's still in there, but I think I saw it's ear a second ago...." 14:43: "Wife is still screaming a lot."

Do people in the west use WeChat? Sometimes sending an audio msg is easier than typing. Just sayin'.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Day 14: Facebook

Well, i do look at Facebook almost daily now. I can't say it benefits me much, though it's kinda hard to stop using it. Kinda like porn. It is kinda interesting to occasionally see cute or thought-provoking links to articles/vids/pictures. And kinda interesting to see pix of friends' kids/spouses/Halloween costumes.

And some people post a lot of personal reflections about politics/spirituality/pop culture/the universe which can sometimes be quite impassioned.

And i see the extensive conversations that sometimes follow (the more productive useful side of FB).

But i have never succeeded at generating one of those conversations. In fact, i often feel ignored by my 270 friends. Sometimes i post a cute joke or something. Before i did the triathlon, i even said, "Wish me luck," and nobody did, boohooo!

Boy, i think the algorithm is like filtering me out or something. How could all 270 close friends turn their back on me in my time of need? What, do i have to personally message each and everyone to get a response? fuck that!

As before, i'm aware of social media's ability to connect people up, but it doesn't REALLY connect people.

For me, it's more of a time-waster. I arrive home, check my email, and when there's nothing there, i peek into FB, but virtually never find anything i NEED to know.

Anyhow, time to stop complaining.

I hereby pledge to stop using FB until next Friday. (Even though i just sent a msg to an old coworker saying that he shoulda ran the 100km race, 'cause i saw his name on the list there.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day 13: My Beijing Halloween Subway Party Vid

This subway was the latter of two. Heard the Fri one was alright too. The organizer of this one was kinda bummed when i talked to him later, as he'd wanted 1000 people to come out, and only a few hundred were there.

This is the first "funny" vid i've done, and am pretty happy w/ it. Very happy that i managed to dig up a song that works reasonably well (and people say copyright's not such an issue when you use a Chinese band's music, for some reason)...

Anyhow, the website Beijing Cream is going to publish it on their site too, so that's fun. Yoyo said, "Cool. Does that mean you'll get money for it?" Uh, no.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Day 12: Def Not Playing Hooky

I came bk to BJ a day earlier than planned. Decided not to tell my boss or editor about this, so as to avoid getting called into the office. Worked from home to finish the race article, and figure that i got enough other extra material in Guizhou to keep everyone happy. But, i pbly coulda just asked them if it was ok to stay. 

Anyhow, i don't feel guilty so much, but not exactly noble, either.

Day 11: Guiyang

Went to the city of Guiyang where i planned to visit a park and a buddhist temple for another CRI story before returning to BJ. After all, CRI sent me out ZERO times this year, so the more travel stories i can squeeze in, the better.

But 1, it was raining. 2, rainy weather is shitty for travel pictures. 3, i was a bit cold. But mainly 4, the taxi driver luckily mentioned that it would take about a couple hours' hike to get up to the temple, and my legs were in no mood  to lug me and my backpack up a thousand stairs.

So instead i went to a little not super interesting museum, and that suited me fine.

Later, i bumped into a Kenyan in the airport. Did i mention how weirdly nice and chilled out all the Kenyans and Ethiopians were?

Day 10: Guizhou 100 KM Challenge day 2

(oh crap, this blog didn't send originally). 

After a night of visualization exercises (Look! I'm runing so smooth and easy, and the pick-up bus is nowhere in sight!), i set off w/ the gang. We ran though the streets of a historic town, then into the mountains following a river down a canyon. Idyllic for anyone tired of BJ or SH's congested streets. i felt completely triumphant when i arrived at the 20 and 30 k marks, feeling i'd earned my rest. (I'd been instructed by professionals the day before to run as long as i could before switching to walking, so as not to lose the pace). The plan was to walk the last 10 km. And my legs were pretty much done for the day. so i'm walking along when this Guizhou woman comes along, running in traditional Guizhou costume, replete with jinging bells. She tells me to start running again. No, i just want to walk to the end. She insists. She says they're going to close some gate at 1:30, and if i don't make it past, i'll get disqualified. She's adamant. i painfully ignore my thighs and join her in a shuffling pace. My legs are feeling pains that they've never felt before, and i had temporary imobilzing foot pains that i had no idea what they were, wondering if i should stretch them, and having no idea how to do so.
We were both suffering, actually. and she was feeling pissy about it, because she'd been caught by the bus the year before and was super pissed off that she'd gotten forced on. So we stuck together the last 10 km. She said, Let's run the last km. Maybe the last 200m, I said. If there's people cheering.
We clocked in at 5hrs, 40m, which was enough to keep us out of range of the approaching wolf. But by race participant standards, we were pretty darn slow. I was given a bagged lunch, and told to go directly onto the bus and eat it there. So much for celebrating or stretching.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Day 11: Guizhou 100 km Challenge Day 3

This morning pretty much everybody was like, "Thank God today it's only 21 km!"
Yesterday was hard on lots of people. Even some of the Kenyans dropped out, one of them limping insanely (from a previous injury resurfaced). 

In fact, i started realizing how dangerous running is. (don't tell my mom). Everybody was pretty aware of the risks and precautions involved. I accepted a blue tensor bandage to wrap up my left knee. I accepted a variety of muscle recovery sprays from people. i accepted help from a woman who offered to bandage my left nipple in the middle of the race. i accepted ibuprofen.

But as for the race... for the first 5km, my right leg was super stiff. Very uncomfortable but nothing to stop me from running. I was just plodding along. Again: the goal was to finish the race, not get picked up by the van, and to get my plane ticket reimbursed. But i was feeling good enough that i could try to run the entire 21km, hoping that wasn't sheer stupidity. 

i contemplated doing a Thriller-esque zombie limp over the finish line, for a laugh. And about 5 minutes after that idea, i realized that i seriously had to limp to keep up my pace. That was ok. if i stayed off my left heel, i could limp along stably, w/out risk of injury. So i did that for a kilometer or so, somehow breaking into a sprint for the last 50m, and felt pretty damn good. 2h 20. i could've done a lot worse. 

So i was feeling pretty good about myself. But also before the U-turn i had my first chance to see the professionals burn past. Holy fuck, those men and women are on a completely different plane. And also the old timers, like Chinese men and women who are like 60, 70 years old, and i have no hope of keeping up w/ them. They humble me. i wonder if i might be able to still race when i get up there...

Also, i got to talk some w/ some of the Kenyans and Ethiopian professionals. Super duper chilled out folks. It was really a pleasure to hang out w/ them. Pretty tough life, i think. Training yr ass of all year long, targeting 4 races. And for one guy, he didn't win any prize money, so he lost his own investment of the plane trip over from Kenya. Dang. 

Now most people have left, to catch airplanes from the city. I'm here for another night, sitting around w/ muscle rub wafting about the room.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Day 8: Guizhou Challenge Day 1

390 runners get our blood pressure and temp taken to make sure that we won't have a heart attack during the run. 

1st day: 42 km. 

Run through the mountain city of Kaili. i sprint out front to take photos, then drop to the back, shooting all the Miao minority group people in costume, out to cheer us on. Then about 500 kids are released after us, a lot of them passing me by. 

i could care less. i'm quite happy to jog along slowly. And eventually start passing by people after 20ks. Then i bump into this German girl again, and she says, "i want to finish the race within 5 hrs." "Sure, that should be no problem," i say, despite the hills and wind. i try to keep up w/ her for quite a while, and even after i give up on that, her 5 hr idea has somehow stuck in my head. 

And yeah, normally a marathon in under 5 hrs should be fine. But i'm totally undertrained, and i SHOULD be saving myself for tomorrow. i finish in 5:15, way more tired than i'd prefer to be. 

ESPECIALLY because people who would've finished in under 6 hrs, had been caught by the pick-up bus, DISQUALIFIED for being too slow. 

So now i'm a bit freaked out about tomorrow. IF i get got caught by the pick up bus, turns out that they WON'T reimburse me my flight $ after all, those Machiavellian organizers. 

Wish me luck, folks. Thanks!

Tel: 15010476252
China Radio International

Day 7: The Guizhou 100 Km Trail Challenge

So about 10 days ago i get an email asking me if i want to join this 100km race in Guizhou province. Expenses paid, 3 days of running. I'd heard about this sort of race before, so within seconds i replied saying of course, i'd be happy to join. 

Had to convince my editor and bosses that this Guizhou article would obviously be more important than my previous commitment, and they relented. i hadn't run since the triathlon, so i was kinda worried about that. Especially since a follow up email said if i don't complete the race, i won't get my air fare reimbursed. i imagine this to be a scare tactic to keep people to just take a free holiday. 

So i squeeze in a couple practice runs, and off i go, completely f'ing inadequately prepared for the task. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day 6: The Tiny Little World of Beijing News

While shooting the Halloween subway vid, i talked w/ a guy dressed as Pee Wee Herman. He noted my journalist costume and hollered, "I don't trust journalists!" I humbly said that maybe he should meet more.

Turns out he IS a journalist, for The Guardian. Which is funny since just that afternoon, i was figuring out how i can pitch a story to The Guardian. Just now i googled his name, and clicked on one of the first links. A podcast which started out w/ a call from my friend and ex-CRI coworker Natalie. Then another ex-coworker's article is linked to the site. Funny.

At another Halloween party i went to (where the average age was over 50), i met another freelance writer, and she also wrote about stuff like bike culture in Beijing and the Inner Mongolia marathon. And also has had a few stories published on The Atlantic via the same editor.

Go figure. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Day 5: "Work"

Yesterday i was in the office til 8. Then came home and spent more time trying to find music for my vid.

Today i was in the office til 7. Then i grudgingly had to run off to meditation. Yeah, it's work, but when you're on a roll editing, it's pretty darn fun putting the pieces together.

Yoyo just watched the almost-finished project and said, "That's the worst video you've done yet." But i rather like it. It takes an alright party and makes it look raucous. Yay, editing.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day 4: The BJ Electronic Music Encounter vid

So this went online today:

Can somebody please let me know if this link is viewable from Canada/USA? It's like the CN Youtube, but has f'ing annoying ads.

You can also see it here, lower quality, i think.

Anyhow, it was pretty fun to make, and i learned a few more Premiere Pro tricks this time. i hope that i'll eventually be competent enough w/ my vid and camera skills that they'll make me more employable in Canada. Apparently video work is a lot easier to come by than photography. Or writing. Also... it's pretty fun.

On the downside, it sucks up a ton of time if you let it, and perfectionists (like my bro) will slave for hours over some detail that 99.3% of viewers wouldn't even notice.

I, on the other hand, don't have time for perfectionism. i just have to crank stuff out on time, and hopefully do a good job.

Note: Doing a good job vs a mediocre job at CRI isn't exactly necessary. That's up to the individual.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day 3: The Beijing Halloween Subway Party 2013

The Saturday one, that is.

I decided to go as a reporter. I had 2 press passes stuck into my fedora, carried a camera, and had my face beat up and glasses broken. 'Cause if you cover sensitive news in China, that's what can happen. I worried that the costume may be tempting karma, but risked it.

The party was pretty fun, though pbly would've been funner if i was just drinking and not worrying so much about if my shot was in focus or not.

then afterwards me and a few friends were sitting around OUTSIDE of the subway exit. maybe for like 10 min. There were a few cops around, as there had been during the whole subway party. They were talking w/ Yoyo at one point. Then i hear Yoyo say, "he's a reporter. He's canadian." Then they're asking me for my business card. I lie and say i don't have any. Then they say "All foreigners in China need to carry their passports w/ them at all times. Where is yours?" I'm like, oh fuck, like i want to deal w/ this. i said i could write it out for them. i was dumb enough to write out my actual passport #. Then he read it back to me, but he thought the J was an I. "Yes, that's correct." I say. He seems satisfied, and we run away.

Lesson: Be careful w/ yr karma.

Will post the vid when it's ready. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Day 2: The Secret Super Late Halloween Party

Tonight there's a party on the subway tonight to celebrate Halloween, rather after the fact. But they couldn't have the party yesterday because yesterday was a different secret party on the subway. Same time, same station, same 50 minute loop, but different organizers.

'Cause when you secretly invite yr friends to meet on the Dongzhimen platform to ride a loop, it's not like anyone can stop you.

Or can they?

Apparently the organizer's already invited 500 university students  to come out, plus whomever, and is apparently trying to break some world record. Who knows how you get an official head count.

But if that many people come out, or things get unruly, maybe the police will pay a visit. "Let me guess... you're supposed to be... a police officer, right?"

But you know how it is with work. Somebody contacts CRI and asks them to send a videographer, and now i have to work Saturday night. Grumble grumble.

i had to work last wkend too, at some experimental electronica event. Grumble grumble.

Just jokin' folks. Can't you tell when a grumble's sarcastic? Although it is true that i'm racking up the overtime and haven't had much chance to take time off.

And won't for a while. More on that later.

Photo courtesy of

Day 1: Recap

Well here i still am, and i think Nov could be Nat'l blog posting month. Well i def didn't do any in Oct, so i'll try now then. 

It's been a while and LOTS has happened. So here's a terribly short recap. 

i entered and completed an Olympic distance triathlon. It was super fun. And much easier than i expected. Much easier on yr body than a marathon, that's for sure. 

My freelance career has kicked off. Sold a story to Vice magazine (CN) and to The Atlantic. Good for the resume, but incidental on the wallet. i even got paid to shoot photos for a BJ design wk event, which was fun. 

Went to do a 4 day bike ride around Qinghai Lake w/ Yoyo, but after a sleepless night of hotel hassles, Yoyo was in no mood to continue on, so we turned back to the city of Xining. Then we met up w/ her relatives in Xian and that was fun too, in a different way. But Qinghai Lake really is spectacular, so it's w/ a twinge of regret that we turned back after one day, and 106 km.

went on a trip to Shanxi province w/ a bunch of professional photographers, which was pretty good. i feel like a real rookie when people talk tech, but in the end, my pix generally hold up. Also, i edit RAW files now. It's SOOOOOOOOO much better. Can't believe i went so many years editing jpegs.

And Yoyo and i have booked our wedding site, for next May. A gorgeous BJ courtyard restaurant that's like 8 minutes jog from our apt. Lemme know if you might be around BJ at that time! 
Well, that's about it. I'm good, and i really hope you all are too. Cheers, friends!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

One Link Plus Another Link = Hitched

Well there ya go.

Last Thursday, me and Yoyo took a train to Xian to get married. Signed some papers, not without complications, but luckily no complications that were insurmountable. I repeated some Chinese sentences whose meaning i had no clue to, signed some papers (requested not to use my real signature (which is illegible)), the marriage officer suddenly decides to accept our marriage photo which doesn't meet specs, (see above) and presto! We're married!

This may come as a surprise to some as I may have let slip about plans for a 2014 wedding.

But there's a Chinese tradition (one of the new "traditions") where couples get legally married up to a year before their wedding date.

Because the legal process of getting married is definitely not w/out its hassles. Such as having to go to Xian where Yoyo's hukou (Chinese household registration) is from.

Many Chinese folk don't consider a couple married until after the wedding, regardless of legal papers. So that puts me and Yoyo into the gray area of "sort of married," ha.

But it's married as far as we're concerned. Now she's my shijie shang zui hao de laopo and i'm her laogong.  That's fun.

Yoyo's mom and dad and cousin came out from Hanzhong to celebrate w/ us. We had a couple gala meals, which was all rather good fun. Her family's really great. My Chinese is slowly getting better and better, but still horribly inadequate to communicate as well as i'd like to w/ her parents and relatives. They nonetheless give me the benefit of the doubt as to being an all around fine chap.

At the last meal, we drank the super expensive bottle of baijiu that i bought for her parents last spring festival, and we also cracked out a pretty damn tasty bottle of Canadian wine (courtesy of my parents).

Lots of toasts and all. Yoyo's dad was entertainingly inebriated. Also, a couple of my best BJ friends were also in Xian and were able to attend the lunch. This American friend's Chinese is pretty damn impeccable, so he was a big hit, ha. I also win face from that, so that's all good.

My folks and Yoyo's folks also had a semblance of a Skype conversation, which is all good to establish a bit of contact.

It all feels a bit unreal. i admit, i was ignorantly mostly expecting it to be a simple legal affair, not anticipating the gatherings of  up to 20 people. But it felt really good to see everyone out.

As for now, i still have to pay attention to stop calling her my gf. But it's great to be w/ this awesome lovely woman who really cracks me up sometimes. It's great to plan a future w/ her. And yes there'll be challenges and ups and downs, just like Oprah promised, but it's nice to have someone at my side to ride it all.

Also... me and Yoyo plan to go to Calgary and Vancouver this December. We've been busy gathering all sorts of pain in the ass records, documents and bank statements to attain her travel visa. We've been told that having a marriage license might smooth out the visa process, so we added it to the documents and submitted the whole inch high stack of papers as soon as we were back in town. Wish us luck! I'll be hugely disappointed if we don't get it.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Crash Course

On Friday i was riding my bike to interview a woman (and carrying a crazy expensive work camera), riding pretty fast when suddenly some car just zooms out in front of me. I jammed on the front brake, hit the side of his car and ended up sprawled on the hood. I slid off, and yelled at the driver a bit. "Fucking hell! what the fuck are you doing? Is that the way to drive?" (1/2 in Eng, 1/2 in bad Chinese). I was repeatedly slamming my fist down on the car hood. It was very exciting. He was certainly apologetic and asking if i was hurt or needed to go to the hospital. 

I was acting pretty mad, but in my head there was a little voice saying, "No problem. You don't need to be so mad." So i paused and looked over my body, which seemed to be quite free from damage. I looked at my bike, which seemed to be quite free from damage. I worried about the camera, but assumed it was free from damage. 

"Sorry, I shouldn't have yelled at you," I apologized. "We should both be more careful." Then I hopped on my bike and rode away. Maybe 5 minutes later i realized that the front tire sustained a flat. Which complicated matters, but actually led to some very cool things that afternoon/evening. 

Anyhow, that's the 2nd time i've been in a car accident in BJ, both times, very fortunately escaping body unscathed. Most sincere thanks to the powers that be. 

I would never ride a fixie without brakes in Beijing. Or anywhere pbly. I like brakes. 

Riding a bike in Beijing can definitely be a bit dangerous. But even the cyclists can be dangerous too!

Like some months ago, it was a rainy day, and some pedestrian was wearing dark colors and I totally rammed into him at pretty high speed. That wasn't so cool. 

And another time, I ran into this old man who had a little girl on his bike. Everybody ended up on the road. the girl was crying. The old man's shirt was all dirty. I looked up and was like, Hey who had the red light? Oh, it was me. Sorry! 

The good side of those bike accidents is that now every time i'm annoyed at people riding like idiots, i have to say, "Well at least they're not crashing into people!" Really, i shouldn't gripe about other's riding habits. Or driving habits. So long as i come out okay, no big deal. And thanks to the universe.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hanggai Festival 2013

i'm pretty happy w/ this vid i did about a music fest. After i had HOURS of footage, i had no idea how i could squeeze it dn to my ideal of 4 minutes, but in the end, i think it worked out pretty smooth. This vid was more of an independent effort than the others: i stopped hassling my coworkers, asking "What do you think of this part?" all the time.

Also, it really is a great and unique fest. Pretty great that my job gets me to do stuff that i wouldn't normally do, but still really enjoy.

Gansu Photography Trip

I just got back from 7 days in NW China, where me and a bunch of rather professional photographers were taken around to see Gansu. As you do. Here's some of what i shot.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Standard procedure
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Actually i sort of had this done to me once in a hospital, but to empty my stomach as opposed to fill it. After a car crash, i was having some terrible gastro intestinal pains, and i think they needed to clear the stomach to see what was going on or something. Yes, it's quite unpleasant. I was doing a helluva lot more gagging than Yasiin Bei was. But i can't imagine having it done against your will, with everything magnified by fear factor.
Anyhow pretty powerful project by Reprieve and Mr Bei.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Vasa Cross Country Race in Chang Chun

Went out to Chang Chun for the Vasa Cross Country Race: 30 km of lakeside sidewalks, boardwalks, hills, and winding paths through the forest.

My last race, a 10k'er almost killed me, but this 30 k'er was quite lovely.  Took an overnight train and met up w/ a group of 6 BJ runners and a few of their partners in a hotel. I was hoping to get Yoyo out for the 15 km run, but she a) couldn't be commit 2 days away from work and b) trained zilch.

Me: i ran pretty fast for the 1st 10 km, even though i knew i was pbly outpacing myself. (Which i was.) And by the time the 11 km marker crawled into view, my stomach was cramped and my speed was max'ed out at brisk walking pace; rather embarrassing.

But by 17km i had found a nice way to go: not fast, not slow, and i felt like i could keep it up indeterminately. I pbly ran more than 1/2 of the entire race solo. No runner ahead or behind of me. Just me, weaving through a beautiful forest and slicing through the fresh air. (The air wasn't awesome by Canadian standards, but it was pretty darn good nonetheless).

The last 5 km, included massive amounts of downhill. Gravity is my friend. My stride goes long, and each stride jams my toes into the fronts of my shoes in an effort to keep my velocity under control. A surprising number of runners would appear in the distance, grow larger, and the slip behind me.

After 2 hours, 46 min, i crossed the finish line, well ahead of my 3 hr goal. My whole body felt pretty darn good. It raises the question: could/should i have run faster? The answer: heck no. Maybe i coulda shaved off a minute or 2, if i wasn't stopping to take pictures (writing up a report for CRI), but i'm pretty happy w/ how my body performed in the end.

Final result: 26 out of 46 runners. Well that's disappointing. i generally expect to finish in the top 1/2 of runners, but i suspect that the runners who came out to this event were slightly faster than the usual crop of weekend joggers. But then again, what can i expect? i barely train more than once a week. it'd be great to run more, but it's hard sometimes when you have, like, a life on top of it, y'know?

Everyone Likes Having Their Emotions Manipulated

Last month, my writing group's assignment (at my suggestion) was to write a tearjerker. But there was no way i was gonna let story writing bowl over everything in my life like it did the previous month. So it's all about efficiency. How can i make people cry in 2 pages? There's two things i know that can squeeze out the tears fast: formulaic Chicken Soup for the Soul stories, and vids from It Gets Better Project. (The one above by Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters isn't so much of tearjerker, but it's pretty darn honest and interesting).

So i whipped up this story in one sitting, thinking it was brilliant, and then pretty much hating it every reading since. IMO, there were some much better pieces of fiction produced, but my story did win the prize of being the only one that actually got some fluids flowing out of the tear ducts. So that's fun. Anyhow, if you have a bit of time, here's my story.

Hi, Jordan – By statusq “Dear Jordan,” he wrote before immediately scratching out “Dear” and replacing it with “Hi.” He sighed. Marie Hemsworth, the counselor, had instructed him to write this letter, and receiving his prescription of fluoxetine was impingent on satisfying her. But that was fine: it turned out he had no issues with counseling, surprised at his own lack of cynicism. He would write the letter, and even try not to do it badly.
 “I miss you.” He paused. It seemed so redundant, so obvious, but it was true. Marie said to write write write without thinking so much, but he was at a loss. “I miss you,” he wrote again, to help fill the page. “I don’t know what to say. You’re gone. I was really sad for a long time, but today I just feel empty.” It seemed so devoid of real meaning, no better than a three dollar Hallmark condolence card. He stared at the page, wanting to write it, wanting to get it over with. He stood up, shuffled to the kitchen and poured himself a half glass of scotch. One quick tip back, and it had dug its way down his throat. He had a spasm of coughs, his already red eyes watering. “Ok, good,” he gasped aloud, sitting down and grabbing the pen resolutely.
 “I don’t know why you did it. You shouldn’t have done it. Bloody smart kid doing a bloody stupid thing. Smart enough to get somewhere in life. Good with books. Teachers all said you were a nice kid. Even had a couple friends, even if they were a bit weird.
 “Grade 8’s not easy for lots of people, but they don’t just give up, solving their problems with a piece of rope. Stupid kid. Fucking fucking stupid.”
 He ground the pen into the period, just hard enough to poke through it. He was breathing heavier now, and worried that he might have a cry, he grabbed the bottle of scotch again, this time swigging from the bottle. He scratched out the last sentence before proceeding.
 “I gave you what you needed, didn’t I? Some decent clothes, that guitar, all that soccer stuff. I did what a father’s supposed to do. Tried to keep you out of trouble.
 “Maybe I was too easy on you. Let you get too soft. Maybe it was that kid Kyle. Shouldn’t have let you hang out with him. He seemed pretty wimpy. Never really knew what he was always going on about, always music and his cats. “I know you were mad when I told you not to bring him around anymore. But I couldn’t have you hanging out with softies. I know you weren’t like that. I know. ‘Cause I know you found my pornos and watched them.”
He shifted uncomfortably, glancing around the empty kitchen. Who cares. Marie said nobody would read this, and he’d just rip it up afterwards anyhow. He sniffed, looked at the bottle, but decided he was still a bit red in the face from the last swig.
 “So you’re not like that. You’re not a softie. No kid of mine a softie. What do you think your mom would have said if you were a softie? She might’ve given you the belt. I never did. I just hit you a bit. Not bad even, nobody knew. You know why? ‘Cause you’re my kid and I loved you. You don’t know what a parent has to do. It’s not easy. It’s bloody hard. I fought with my dad too. He beat me, a lot. I barely ever laid a finger on you. In the end I had to beat him back. That’s what a man does. I had to prove to him I wasn’t a softie. He laid off in the end. Not saying I was right. He was my dad, and it ripped me right up to hit him. It really ripped me right up inside. Fucking guy. He always had to be right. But he wasn’t always right. If he was, I wouldn’t have fought him. Never. But he thought I got his stupid car dented so I had to grab his fists, had to get on top of him. I cried like a baby when I did it but he knew I was no fucking softie then. He still beat me sometimes after that, but you could see in his eyes that he was a bit scared to do it after then. But you never fought back. And if I was wrong you would have. When you’re right, you have to fight. I tried to teach you that. Your mother tried to teach you that. Nobody wants a son like that. And you’re not like that. I knew you weren’t. But you didn’t even realize that other people might have thought you were soft. I didn’t know what to do. When your mother was still around I told her about the time I saw you hugging Brett after baseball. She didn’t think it meant anything. ‘It’s just kids playing,’ she said. But I never touched no boys when I was ten years old. Gives other people ideas. I didn’t say anything to you. Didn’t beat you or anything. ‘Cause you were just being a dumb kid. Just said I didn’t trust that Brett kid, always bragging about his homerun. Didn’t trust him. I always thought you might like that Andrea girl. Pimply girl seemed alright, but she talked less than you and was always wearing that weird make up. She wasn’t around much, but you mentioned her once in a while. Maybe I should’ve told you to invite her over. I probably didn’t help you as much as I should’ve, did I. Should’ve helped you find some friends. That’s why I tried to get you into soccer. I met lots of guys playing soccer. I know I acted mad when you didn’t play, but actually I wasn’t surprised. Maybe I shouldn’t have acted mad. Maybe not. I’m sorry I acted mad when I wasn’t. I shouldn’t have. I even felt bad about it after. Maybe I should have said sorry. So sorry, okay? I wasn’t mad about it, but I thought I should be. I said, ‘Are you a man?’ And I knew that wasn’t right, that I shouldn’t have said that. I know that made you mad. You should have said something back, should have yelled something, but you didn’t say a word. Just ran off to your room. You didn’t talk to me much for a while. We never talked all that much ever I guess. I never said sorry. When you were five or six we talked a lot. You told me about how the balloon would stick to the wall after you rubbed it in your hair, but it didn’t. You were so confused but you couldn’t stick it to the wall! I had to help you and I remember how you laughed, thinking that I tricked you somehow. And the time you told me that we had to make breakfast for mom for mother’s day, and you showed me how to fry an egg in the butter. I was amazed. You climbed right up onto the counter and squatting there put the pat of butter into the pan and cracked in two eggs, and you said, “Dad, you have to get me a fork, because there’s a bit of shell in there.” I was going to use my fingers and you shrieked at me, ‘You’ll get burned!’ And you were right. I shouldn’t be sticking my finger into the pan in front of a six year old. You were so good, Jordan. A real sweet kid. Actually used to look up to a shitty father like me. I don’t know when you started talking less, laughing less. When you stopped looking up to me.
 His pen hand was starting to feel a bit tired from his writing, which was now pushing the page to its margins. He was still breathing heavily, staring at the page, but not seeing it. The pen tip was on the page, frozen momentarily before it started moving again, slowly, deliberately.
 “I wish you could know how hard it’s been for me to be a good father to you. My dad was a shitty father too, but I knew he tried. I don’t think you know I tried.” The sound of the last school bus passing by in the street came and went, it’s diesel engine coughing softly. “I screwed up, didn’t I?” His hand was trembling, just slightly. “I screwed up. Called you soft. Said it like it was big, like it meant something. But I’m not sure if it does. I don’t.” He gently placed the pen down to the side of the page, leaned back in his chair, and wept into his hands.  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Which Picture Has Been PHOTOSHOPPED?


or B?


Both of them.

Great copywriter (Justin, in white) leaves CRI, and China (for the moment?). So long, and good luck!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Leaving This Mortal Coil (Temporarily)

The meditation group at my apartment has been going for about 3 years now. Decent number of regulars, which is nice. Numbers range between 2 and 11 (11 is pretty much capacity).

so that's nice.

And it's super interesting that some people, including a couple people who only started meditating w/ this group have been having some pretty deep experiences.

Like having weird visualizations about the colored flowers opening up along the chakra points... Last time a woman had feelings of floating away from the body, a post-orgasmal type of blood flush, and then she was so spooked and "fragile" feeling after she wasn't really able to talk for 10 minutes or so. I worry a bit 'cause it could potentially be dangerous.

Luckily, another woman in the group has a weird amount of out-of-body-experience experience, so was able to offer some guidance and insight.

Anyhow, i feel particularly good about the group these days. Of course it's good for me but i've been feeling more like it really offers other folks something useful and helpful.

Now if i could just get other folks to step up and lead or guide once in a while...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dreams and the Butterfly-like Progress of Life

Part I

Last week, I had a weird dream. Me and some young friends were strolling along on a beautiful evening just before sunset when we stumbled across a sandy beach. The bronzed sun was just about to dip below the horizon. Overcome, we stripped off our clothes and joyously started charging toward the waters. I knew it’d be cold, but hey, I shouldn’t pass up the opportunity. So I ran along, slowing just enough to let a slice of log roll out of my way. It was rolling along in the shallow waters, weirdly pushed along by a current, and it momentarily blocked out the sun. I then plunged into the waters, quickly realizing that there was a strong current. It swept me along, and I couldn’t clamber back on shore. I was thinking fast about what to do when I spotted a nearby boat and managed to climb aboard. My friends had also climbed on, and the captain was trying to kick us off. Of course we all refused to get off since doing so would be death. So he grumpily took us back to shore, and I figured that even though I was annoyed at him, I’d certainly pay him much more money than he expected.

Then I woke up. And wondered, hm, that was a weird dream. What does it mean? If it tied in to anything, it would probably be the fact that I called Yoyo’s dad the previous afternoon to ask permission to request his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Analysis: ignorant youth, having fun, chasing beauty, living life. But potentially ignoring danger at the same time, which could have a monetary connection.

So, that eve I told Yoyo about my dream, because of course we don’t want to be dumb, jumping into marriage. Heck no, let’s check out and acknowledge the logs and current before jumping in.

But heck, by this point in time I’d already got the ring and wasn’t really considering the idea that marriage was the wrong move.

Part II
1.     I got the diamond ring, a very simple but nice one, that I sort of designed (‘cause it’s so f’ing hard to find a simple ring in this city!)
2.     I asked Yoyo’s dad to teach me to how to say “Will you marry me?” in the local dialect.
3.     It was the 1 year anniversary of the day we met.
4.     We went out for an fancy vegetarian meal.
5.     Then we biked to a park where I said I needed to run in and take a leak.
6.     On a little elevated plaza, i lit a bunch of candles and pulled out some wine and glasses. There were a few other people there, but I had no back up plan for that. Got all stressed out, ‘cause the wind kept blowing candles out.
7.     I said, “hey come see this thing I came across!”
8.     So while walking up, I recalled other local phrases I knew in that dialect, and added on the one new one (which I apparently completely mispronounced.) I pulled the ring out of my pocket and accidentally put it onto her wrong hand.
9.     Yoyo was totally surprised and said she felt like she was floating up above everything looking down.
10.   Then we had some wine and chocolate and just enjoyed sitting around a bit.
11.   Then we went out to a club to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ guitar player do his DJ thing. Incidentally we bumped into the friend who invited me to the Modern Sky party where we’d met exactly 365 nights previous. Then we got pretty drunk and had a rather fun time.

Yup, so now I’m a fiancĂ© and I have a fiancĂ©e. Which is great. And now it’s no longer anachronistic to tell people about the target wedding date next May (in Beijing).

Of course, I feel a bit nervous, but also really happy. Yoyo’s really awesome and sweet. Aside from having a penchant to criticize my hair or fashion sense, she’s incredibly accepting of my many idiosyncrasies. There’s times when she really brings out the best in me. And hopefully I do the same for her.