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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Update on life

It's 2am on Sunday and I can't sleep so I'm playing around with my blog.

School starts tomorrow but I won't have any classes until Tuesday which means I can stay up late tonight.

Slav and Angela, the other two foreign teachers who were here last semester, are gone.

Slav went back to England and Angela went to Foshan in Guangdong (China).

There's a new guy here from Memphis named Brian and he signed a contract for a year so I have a semester to get to know him. There were supposed to be two other teachers here from Australia but I guess they weren't able to get Visas because of the Olympics or something.

So, it might just be me and one other 'laowei' this term which is kind of a drag because at the school I worked at over the summer there was a guy from Washington, a guy from France, a couple from Texas and a girl from Japan.

I hung out with the guy from Washington and the guy from France a few times and they're nice guys but both are at a LOT older than me....we got along but I kind of prefer hanging out with people in my age range.

The couple from Texas were only a few years younger than me but they spent most of their summer travelling around so I didn't get to spend much time with them although we did play Wii together once which was fun.

Then there was Kahori was Japan who I ended up hanging out with the most since she's near my age and I was the only foreigner there who could communicate with her in Chinese. For about a week and a half we pretty much spent every hour of everyday together and totally bonded but in a non-romantic way.....I feel like that girl is my sister! Serious!

Since I've been back we've exchanged dozens of e-mails and had some nice chats on-line.

I'm glad to have her as a friend because we're able to practice our Chinese together and I also help her with English while she helps me with Japanese. It's great!

I'm halfway finished with my contract at this school and I'm pretty sure that once I finish this term I'm going to head to Nanjing, China because I like that area and it's really close to Shanghai.

By then Kahori will be back in Japan but maybe I'll go out and visit her for a few days.

Anyway, I figure if I'm going to spend another year in China (which is highly likely) I'll want to be near one of the more developed/modern areas.....I was thinking about Nanjing, Shenzhen or Guangzhou but after listening to a lot of people tell me how much 'better' Nanjing and Shanghai are I've decided that's where I'll go......and there's a lot of foreigners and foreign companies in Shanghai so if I end up staying in China on a permanent basis I might want to to try a different line of work someday.

I don't mind teaching English but I don't think I could see myself doing this forever and I could probably make more money doing something else.

But I think I could keep doing this for another 3-5 years and hopefully by the time I am in my 30s I'll have enough contacts/friends/guangxi and/or know enough Mandarin to get into another line of work.

I'd also like to buy a bass and start playing music again but there just aren't a lot of people in this area to jam with....I think I'd fair a lot better in the Shanghai area.....

Of course, I'm always changing my mind and my plans so 3-5 months from now I might be singing a totally different tune so we'll see how I feel once I finish my contract.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Two films I can relate to!

After living in Asia for about 4 years I find that I can really relate to the foreign characters in these films.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Brandon and Kahori in Jiangsu Summer 2008!

Peng you jia you!

Geng duo Hanyu/Han zi

希望 xīwàng hope, wish
建议 jiànyì suggest
制度 zhìdù system, institution
请求 qǐngqiú ask, request
交通 jiāotōng traffic
爱人 àirén spouse, lover
认为 rènwéi consider, 认识 rènshi recognize
算了 suànle forget it, never mind
科学 kēxué science
社会 shèhuì society
技术 jìshù technique
艺术 yìshù art
结果 jiéguǒ result; 结婚 jiéhūn marry
成功 chénggōng succeed
思想 sīxiǎng thought
意思 yìsi meaning
青年 qīngnián youth; 青蛙 qīngwā frog
部队 bùduì army, 队伍 duìwǔ troops
资本主义 zīběnzhǔyì capitalism; 投资 tóuzī invest
变成 biànchéng become
花生 huāshēng peanut
学院 xuéyuàn college; 医院 yīyuàn hospital
语言 yǔyán language, speech, word
往往 wǎngwǎng often
发展 fāzhǎn develop, expand, grow
领袖 lǐngxiù leader; 本领 běnlǐng ability
传统 chuántǒng tradition
保护 bǎohù protect

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Kahori, wo de Ri ben de mei mei!

Recently, Kahori told me that if I was an animal I would be a bear. I thought that was cool. She also told me that she's reluctant to go to England because she thinks the locals will 'throw bananas' at her......but I've never heard of English people throwing bananas at Japanese people.
Today (August 25th) I had to say good-bye to her and take a train back to Changsha....I just arrived and I already miss her so much.....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wo bu yao hui qu Changsha!

This is my last week here in Jiangsu and I'm kind of bummed because I really like it here.

This area is nice and peaceful, I like my students and I've made a few friends here at school.

Changsha isn't a bad place but I feel a lot happier here and I wish I could stay but I've got to go back and finish my contract.

At least I am halfway done with my contract now which means that around the end of 2008 or start of 2009 I can re-locate to another city for 6 - 12 months and maintain my nomadic lifestyle.

I think one of the things I'm going to miss the most about this place is a Japanese girl named Kahori who I befriended a week or two ago.

Her and I have been hanging out a lot recently to practice speaking Mandarin and I really enjoy her company.

She'll be here for one more semester and then she's going back to Japan for a month after which she'll go to England for a year to study English!

It's going to be a little hard for me to say 'good-bye' to this girl but at least I have her e-mail address so that we can keep in touch.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tetragrammaton - The Mars Volta

Tell me it's over, Rusbel awaits I've been to the surface
And nothing is there, Eyelids sank muffled
In the nerve aura sound, But when she awakes
Will she still be with us?

My heart is darkclots, Leap year is late
How did you get here, Ask all but the bail
From a Christ that went hissing
Constricting his cells
We summon by candle by book and by bell

Glossolalia coats my skin
Glycerin and turbulence
stuffed the voice inside God
Mirrors to the animals

The sermon goes mourning, Pricking it's hail
Slothful the child, That preys on the seed
Shall behead the drought, Wound under sleeves
I hope you have room, In a thicket of vines

Give me a moment, To clean what you've stole
The streets will hang high, Stretch ribs and let taste
We'll cover the smell with silver nitrate
Mending the cuts of your prosthetic faith

Glossolalia coats my skin
Glycerin and turbulence
Stuffed the voice inside God
Mirrors to the animals

Then so long, Dear minemonic
Assume the form, You've given me and I'll spill

Now hold on, Just hold my hand
Say that they made you
But you brought your own leash
Tell me no more no, say I'm the last one
Outside, By the drift, You read my will
Of thread and itch, Failure to comply
As failure to decease
And still you won't know everything
I've built the fall

Sulking drained the fall of my pale will
Swarming by your steps
Licking the ankles of blasphemer guilts
It only meant to drape a plastic
Over the stuck pig scalp of head
To cover the sock where to flatline had spread
The kiosk in my temporal lobe
Is shaped like Rasalyn Carter
She says my map is home again, But torn face down
I have only but a million blemishes
To tell you all about

In the end they just gagged me
To make him come out

Gas me the hind, Of your five legged snare
Tooth picks the eye, But no things there
Down drags your waltz, Cross the alter top
From a sleep that, Depravation knew
Trespass your form, I'm void of dusk
I'd ask to look, But the mask stays on

You'll levitate, Teutonic print
Cruelty is the wrath, Of my instrument

In the end they just gagged me
To make him come out

You locked the cuffs
Arsenic erupts

Will you drink the shadow
Of my red hair

You and your falst, Witness to God
You've one in the chamber,
But your finger got stuck

Let slip the sound, Of a cry for help
But all was lost, On the night you walked

Palms speak through eyes
Serve your memory lost
I cantaminate with insignias

In the end they just gagged me
To make him come out

Glassolalia coats my skin
Glycerin and turbulence
Stuffed the voice inside of God
Mirrors to the animals

Wait till I get my hands on you
I won't forget a face that left me
Just you wait
Till I get my hands on you
I can't, You won't remember

Unwrap my corpse, And let it thaw
In the eye of the needle, I can't get out

They'll check my wrist, I'll faint a pulse
I'm not the human, You thought I was

If you pet the night, Sixth pentacle dice
If you roll the seven, St. Michael dies

They'll be no ransom, Don't shut my mouth
I scaled the answer, You're afraid of

Wax Simulacra - The Mars Volta

Came back to doubt yourself but broke in two
They find it punctual with idle tooth
I'll find something to shake by the roots

I crawl along the ceilings in your room
The cold is spinning thread to answer you
I need something made of freewill

Am I waiting now?
Does my waiting howl?
Am I waiting now?
Does my waiting howl?

I bring an avalanche of toltec bones
Contaminated cravings if you choose
To play something that aches for a spill
Leave out the meat for that contact high
Inhale the vapors and let the hangman smile
For that something to shake by roots


Bring me the tame
Witness germinates in the child
That word of mouth stutters
Blink at the lonely dice

Don't know

Friday, August 15, 2008

Jim Lee rocks

I love this guy's art.

Recently, I've been tempted to order some trade paperbacks on-line.....especially stuff by
Frank Miller (Batman, Daredevil, Sin City) and Jim Lee (Batman, Superman, X-Men).

I'd also like to re-read the original TMNT comic books (Eastman and Laird) which I haven't read since I was in 4th or 5th grade.

Illustration from 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms'

I hope that someday I can read this book in Chinese....but, for now, I'll settle for the English translation!

A bit of Mandarin...

1.) I want to learn about Asian culture, especially China and Japan (probably should be 'Chinese' and 'Japanese' instead of 'China' and 'Japan').

Wo yao xue xi guan yu (about) Ya zhou (Asian) de wen hua, you qi shi (especially) Zhong guo he Ri ben.

I'd been wanting to learn the words for 'Asia(n)' and 'especially' for a few days and now that I finally remembered to ask someone I'm making this digital note to myself so that I don't forget!

Here's another phrase with a few other words I still need to memorize:

2.) Speak loudly so that everyone can hear your voice.

Da sheng de shuo zhe yang (so that) mei ge ren ke yi ting dao ni de sheng yin (voice).


Mars Volta, Mr. Bungle and Melt Banana are three of my favorite 'avant-garde/experiemental' type bands....I'm not really sure which genre(s) each band belongs to, nor do I care.

Anyway, just for fun, I thought I'd post the album covers from two of my favorite Melt Banana CDs.

Their music is so insane and distinct from what I grew up listening to in the U.S. that's it hard for me not to enjoy them.....although listening to them all the time, everyday, would probably drive me, and most other people, insane.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tai ji

Taiji (太極) is a state of being from Tao and Wuji. It is a state of absolute, and of infinite potentiality. In Tao Te Ching, Tao manifested as One, which is Taiji[1]. In a Taoist guidance book, the same verse was amplified as out of Tao came Taiji, which then split into yin and yang or Two Aspects, yin and yang slitting into the Four Realms, Wu xing the Five Elements, and from there the world was created[2].
Taiji was a state in which the world became intelligible before creation. Taiji may be equated to the One, Oneness, Unity, as in attaining One or Unity (得一) [3] and as stated in the Tao Te Ching[4].


Wuji (無極) is the primordial state of non-being, a state of Nothingness and boundlessness or that which is without Bounds or Limits. Wuji like Tao, is and lies within all of the universe and in the human anatomy. It is the central definition to what Tao is in chapter one of the Tao Te Ching.
In Xiuzhen, Wuji or Dao is a state of Hunyuan Yiqi (混元一炁) in which Hunyuan is the Chinese equivalent of primordial, Yiqi is the one qi the original state of qi, together Hunyuan Yiqi is loosely the primordial qi. The state of Taiji is Xiantian Yiqi (先天一炁), or pre-birth qi. Note the word Qi (炁) differs to blood circulation in qigong.

Danny Elfman = Musical Genius

I wish I owned this software!

Looks like a lot of fun but a bit pricey and I just don't have the time to toy with it now....but maybe someday......

One of my favorite animated films

I'm looking forward to the live-action films based on this animated classic.

Who cares?

I keep reading about how the little Chinese girl who 'sang' at the Olympic Opening Ceremony was just lip-synching like 'Milli Vanilli' to which I reply, WHO CARES?

So, what if she was lip-synching? What does that matter? Is that somehow against the rules or 'integrity' of the Olympics?

This is one issue where I'm going to side with China.

Also, from my experience here, this is common to a lot of Chinese entertainment/media.

I have seen a lot of Chinese TV shows and movies where the actors' real voices are dubbed over by different people because one person has the proper 'look' and the other has the proper 'voice' so that's just how it's done here.

Anything wrong with that?

Absolutely not.

I love Steinberger

I just love them for the design and not much else. I prefer playing on a musicman stingray or warwick but steinbergers are fun just because they seem so 'post-modern' to me.


Parmenides of Elea (Greek: Παρμενίδης ο Ἐλεάτης, early 5th century BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher born in Elea, a Greek city on the southern coast of Italy. He was the founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy, his only known work is a poem which has survived only in fragmentary form. In it, Parmenides describes two views of reality. In the Way of Truth, he explained how reality is one; change is impossible; and existence is timeless, uniform, and unchanging. In the Way of Opinion, he explained the world of appearances, which is false and deceitful. These thoughts strongly influenced Plato, and through him, the whole of western philosophy.

Walter Kaufman partial bibliography

Original works
Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist
From Shakespeare to Existentialism
Critique of Religion and Philosophy
Tragedy and Philosophy
Hegel: A Reinterpretation
The Faith of a Heretic
Without Guilt and Justice
Cain and Other Poems
Existentialism, Religion, and Death: Thirteen Essays
The Future of the Humanities
Religions in Four Dimensions
Discovering the Mind, a trilogy consisting of
Goethe, Kant, and Hegel
Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Buber
Freud Versus Adler and Jung
Man's Lot: A Trilogy, consisting of
Life at the Limits
Time is an Artist
What is Man?

Two books I'm interested in reading

Sapir-Whorf hypothesis link

Had an interesting encounter yesterday

I've been staying in Jiangsu since early July because I wanted to get out of Hunan for the summer and see a different part of China.....and, so far, I think I prefer Jiangsu to Hunan.

Anyway, I live on the fourth floor of what I assume is the 'foreign teacher's' building.

I know there are three other people on my floor and I've met them all but I wanted to know if there was anyone on any of the other floors to socialize with so yesterday I went up to the fifth floor and knocked on the first door I came across.

A few moments later a small asian female opened the door.

I can't remember how the conversation begin but it didn't take long to establish that she was Japanese and didn't speak any English.

Now, I know a few basic words and phrases in Japanese but not enough to carry on a conversation.

So, I asked her if she could speak any Chinese and, as it turns out, she is in China studying Mandarin......which makes total sense but it surprised me because most of the Japanese people I've met in China are not students.

Anyway, the cool thing about talking to her was that 99% of our conversation was in Mandarin because neither of us could speak the other person's native language.

This was my first time being in this type of situation and I really enjoyed it.

When a Chinese person talks to me in English or I speak to a Chinese person in Chinese it's a little bit interesting but it's also kind of lame because one of us is speaking the other's native language.

So, to speak to someone in a language that is not to native to me or the other person is totally new to me and I hope I can have more experiences like this in the future.

Life won't wait

I think this album was released in 1998 and was probably Rancid's 4th official album.
I had been a fan of them since around 1994 and owned their first three albums. However, by 1998 I was starting to feel bored of punk and ska music and was interested in exploring other genres and styles of organzied sounds and silences.
Still, when this album was released in '98 I was curious to hear it so I bought it. At that time I thought it was 'ok' but nothing spectacular and there were only a few songs that I really enjoyed listening to over and over again.
10 years later (i.e. now) I decided to download this album (I don't remember if that was common or possible 10 yeas ago) and I enjoy it a lot more than I did when I was 18.
I especially enjoy a lot of the tracks from the second half of the album such as "Cocktails", "Turntable" and "Cash, Culture and Violence".
Anyway, I think this album and Tim's solo release "A poet's life" have restored some of my appreciation for Rancid and punk/ska music in general though I'm still a fan of other types of music.
The new Rancid album is supposed to come out around September and I'm wondering if it will be any good.

Feeling Nostalgic Today

Somehow I found myself on the marvel comics website today (I haven't read comics in years though I used to all the time and I still have a bunch in storage) and started reading some of the entries of various heroes and villains.

It was fun and reminded me of grade school and my first year of junior high school.

So, I'm going to post one or two pics to remind myself to go back to the marvel website and read some more entries or maybe order a few trade paperbacks, just for the hell of it.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

White Collar: The American Middle Classes

White Collar: The American Middle Classes is a study of the American middle class by sociologist C. Wright Mills, first published in 1951. It describes the forming of a "new class": the white-collar workers. It is also a major study of social alienation in the modern industrialized world and cities dominated by "salesmanship mentality". The issues in this book were close to Mills' own background, his father was an insurance agent and he himself, at that time, worked as white collar research worker in a bureaucratic organization, at Paul Lazarsfelds Bureau for Social Research at Columbia University. In that way it was proparbarely, Mills most "private" book. The familarity with the studied object is obvious and the sympathy for the "lonely person" in the crowd, refers with no doubt to Mills himself and his own experiences.
As Mills wrote:

"In a society of employees dominated by the marketing mentality, it is inevitable that a personality market should arise. For in the great shift from manual skills to the art of ‘handling’, selling and servicing people, personal or even intimate traits of employees are drawn into the sphere of exchange and become commodities in the labor market...
Kindness and friendliness become aspects of personalized service or of public relations of big firms, rationalized to further the sale of something. With anonymous insincerity, the successful person thus makes an instrument of his own appearance and personality...
In the formulas of ‘personnel experts’, men and women are to be shaped into the ‘well rounded, acceptible, effective personality’ (to close the deal or to make the sale)...
The personality market, the most decisive effect and symptom of the great salesroom, underlies the all pervasive distrust and selfalienation so characteristic of metropolitian people. Without common values and mutual trust, the cash nexus that links one man to another in transient contact has been made subtle in a dozen ways, and made to bite deeper into all areas of life and relations People are required by the salesman ethic and convention to pretend interest in others in order to manipulate them...
Men are estranged from one another as each secretly tries to make an instrument of the other, and in time a full circle is made: one makes an instrument of himself and is estranged from it also."

Tibet has always been a part of China? According to who?

Does anyone outside of China really think of Tibet as part of China?

How about Taiwan?

In my opinion, and the general opinion of the Western world, Tibet and Taiwan are not part of China and the people in Tibet and Taiwan seem to agree.

One thing I'm really enjoying about the Olympics so far...

...I am having a ball just watching the differences between how Chinese people and Western people in the audience at the Olympic events are behaving.....the contrast is really interesting and very entertaining.

Ok, we get it already: China is 5000 years old.

Since arriving in China for the first time in 2003 I have heard this, 'China is 5000 years old', at least 5000 times and I don't know why people here are so proud of that for at least two reasons.

1.) America and Australia are less than 300 years old and are more developed than China. So, there are countries that have accomplished much more than China has in just a fraction of the time......I'll admit that 'accomplished much more' is probably a bit too subjective on my part but no one can deny that Australia and America are both well ahead of China.

2.) Ok, China is a very old civilization....wonderful. By the way, how old is Egypt? How about Greece? India? Western culture/civilization? From my experience in the world China is the only country to boast (pretty much non-stop) about how old it is.

Ok, there's nothing wrong with being proud of one's culture but after a point it just kind of gets annoying/creepy.....and that goes for America as well.

Maybe it's because I grew up in California that I wasn't exposed to a lot of "America is #1 because...." or whatever that might be more common in other parts of the country.

Regardless, I've never been a fan of extreme nationalism because people who are fanatic about their nation make me a bit uneasy (and they just seem really ignorant and close-minded as well).

Of course, I don't want to over-generalize because you can find the same types of people in every country....I just find the people I've met in China to be the most hyper-nationalistic in the world.

Anyway, that's my rant for today.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Saturday, August 2, 2008

! Que Bueno !

Last night I figured out a way to make fajitas!

Yo tengo carne, queso y tortillas.

Me encanta la comida de muy sabros.

Me gusta la lengua y la musica de Mexico tambien.

I haven't studied Spanish since 1998 (10 years) and hardly practiced so I'm sorry if I made any mistakes.

Ok, back to studying Chinese..........