Sorry, Wong Answer

Stories, thoughts, observations, rants and dribble. Just another of my attempts to keep the interested people informed ...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Don't expect me to keep up this keenness

I just wanted to address the regularity of posts. After my initial burst of excitement, I'll probably taper off to once or twice a week, on a weekday. The thingy that my Fitbit syncs to is in my office, so I can only get up-to-date stats there. And tomorrow I'll be watching Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga play tennis at the Shanghai Masters, so there won't be a Day 4 post, at least. [I will most likely also be seeing Andy Murray and Roger Federer, but I don't want to jinx the games the still need to be played!]

This post was unnecessary, but maybe I just wanted to brag about the tennis.

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Day 3: Cao'an Highway (曹安公路辅路), Shanghai

I'm approaching the end of subway line 11 (which I've never been to in real life), the northwesternest bit of the Shanghai subway system. The second to last station is called 'Shanghai Automobile City'. Sounds pretty exciting! 


View Walking from Shanghai to Xi'an in a larger map


Distance since last post: 7.37km

Distance to next milestone: 10.08km

Cumulative distance walked: 24.22km



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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New fitness/life project: Pǎobù, Panda! // 跑步,熊 猫! // Run, Panda!

My main project for the year so far has been me. I've finally gotten around to trying to improve my general health and fitness, and one of the things I did recently was get a pedometer gadget to measure how much walking I do every day. It's been really motivational and I've done over 500km already. The other day I was inspired to record this journey as a virtual walk across China (to start), with maps and graphs and the like. Now I feel like I've 'wasted' those first 500km, but oh well. It would be cheating if I said I was already so far down the road.

Anyway, my new blog is Pǎobù, Panda!, which means Run, Panda! Also, it has alliteration. Things will be cross posted to Twitter (@PaobuPanda) if you want an easy way to follow me. I'm still working out the format and what sort of information it will include (distances, times, things of interest that I 'pass', general weight loss/health stuff), but hopefully it will be both motivational and interesting.

In case you didn't realise, China is pretty freaking big! It should take me about 6 months to do the first leg I mapped out, which is nearly 1500km. But I'm sure I'll be in Xi'an in no time. 

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Sunday, April 01, 2012

3 month update: pangolin!

I still can't decide if these three months have gone quickly or not. I also feel like I could've done a better job, but equally, I am quite proud of myself! I'm sticking to the original eating plan, having a cheat day once a week, and dropping weight pretty steadily. I don't want to bore people with blah blah about weight loss, so I'll move on to the animals!

Inline images 1

So far, I have lost the weight of a super awesome pangolin, and I've lost 10cm (leg span of a fen raft spider) from my waist measurement. Next step, cape vulture!

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Friday, March 02, 2012

Women's Day in China

So March 8th is Women's Day in China. Women get half a day off, hooray! (Especially since I'm too old to get half a day for Youth Day now.)

I just had this discussion with my male manager:

him: I'm gonna hit reply all to this email from HR [about women getting a half day off for Women's Day].

me: Why? It's not [the HR girl's] fault. It's a government mandated holiday.

him: I'm gonna ask when Men's Day is.

me: (paraphrase) That's kind of a dick move.

him: But what do we get?

me: An elevated position in society? Every day!

him: ...Good point.

I think I'm going to take the morning off and have lunch with some ladies. 

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Review of Mindy Kaling's 'Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)'

She's not just the face of Kelly Kapoor! From my Goodreads review:

I can't help but compare this book to the other books I've read by female comic writers/comediennes, Bossypants (Tina Fey) and The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee (Sarah Silverman), not to mention If You Ask Me: And of Course You Won't (Betty White). I have to say that it easily outstrips them all. It has the format in common (anecdotes/essays strung together in a vaguely organised way), but something about Mindy Kaling's writing really appealed to me. She covered a lot of bases (childhood, being the child of immigrant parents, university, unemployment, road to success, The Office, relationships, men, her appearance, her (future) death), but I think she did them in a way that was honest and charming, while seeming like she could just be your (very) chatty friend telling you about her life. I liked that. There were a couple of chapters that didn't really strike a chord with me, and I was ambivalent about the last parts especially, which was a pity because it was the end. However, the parts I liked far outweighed the parts I didn't. The random lists had some genius lines in them, and her anecdotes were both awkward and hilarious. I think she will need to progress a bit further in her career to find more material for another book, or focus on a particular aspect of her life, but I would definitely read another of her books.

Things/parts I especially liked (spoilers, I guess? I don't know):
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl (aka The Ethereal Weirdo)
- Roasts are Terrible (yes!)
- her giving us context from the early 2000s (remember when Bennifer was massive, before the other Bennifer?)
- Amy Poehler calling her husband by his last name (aww!)
- the lists of TV shows and movies that would possibly be successful (including 'Fat Astronaut', 'Bad Dog Walker', 'Interspecies Friendships' (based on the original British series 'Interspecies Chums')
- the use of the 'word' monogamishly,in relation to engagement announcements in LA (she is pro-marriage, and I like that, even though I'm not really fussed about it)
- how she is anti one night stands and doesn't know what 'hooking up' really means (who knows what the kids mean these days?)
- Irish Exits
- her realisation that she likes men, not boys
- her advice for married people (including a description of her parents' marriage)
- her advice for guys in general (not even particularly funny; it just seems like good advice)
- the picture of her wearing an amazing Cosby-style sweater as a kid.

OK, I'm stopping because that's a good chunk of the book. Go read it.

Friday, February 03, 2012

A numbers game

I am trying to be more motivated this year. Although I promise myself I'll try to do this fairly often, it's not that often that it actually pans out. So far, in the 5 or so weeks since new year, I have actually clocked up some numbers in a few areas that I decided to focus on. I know a lot of this has to do with two very inspirational friends passing away over the holidays, but if remembering how they lived pushes me to improve myself, I think they would both be pleased. 

I have re-realised that I love keeping track of things. Seeing numbers and graphs and tangible progress pleases me. Last year I started recording all the books I was reading, and achieved my goal of 100 (113, actually) books for the year. This year I'm continuing that (on track for two books a week), as well as keeping track of my weight and measurements (to see if a new eating plan is working) and trying to quantify my Chinese language progress. 

The diet and health tracking falls really well into an experimentation model for me. If I miss a measurement or I give in an eat something I'm not supposed to, I'll ruin the experiment or lose some valuable data. I have graphs and projections and all kinds of things that make my brain happy while I do something that's actually good for me.

So far this year I have:
- read 2000+ pages of 11 books (9 finished)
- studied 1500+ Chinese characters (most of which I know now)
- lost 4000+ grams (it sounds so much better that way, even though I am impressed enough with it).

2012 is going to be a year of numbers and of challenging myself to keep that motivation going. Wish me luck!

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy new year!

I'm really glad to see that the neighborhood piggy made it through Chinese new year. She was just a piglet this time last year and I thought she was just being fattened up.

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Sunday, January 08, 2012

Remembering Clare

I was in the middle of rewatching the season one finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when I heard the news about Clare. I had been told via Facebook that her condition had deteriorated and there wasn't long to go, but somehow it was still a shock to hear that she'd passed away. Her battle with cancer had been long, brave, and inspiring, and if cancer could be beaten by will alone, Clare would have been well years ago. Despite doctors telling her early on that there wasn't that much that could be done, Clare did it all anyway. 
I met Clare through Cassie when I was living in Edinburgh. And through Clare I met Olivia, and I grew to believe that the two of them led a charmed little life, in their tiny upstairs flat off the Royal Mile. We got to share some of the best that Edinburgh had to offer, and I will cherish those memories (even going to the parody of the Eurovision Song Contest). Clare always struck me as knowing exactly who she was, what she wanted to do, and who she wanted to spend her time with. She was fiercely individual but would do anything for her friends. 
One thing that Facebook is both good and bad at is showing you your 'friendships'. My contact with Clare had been sporadic over the last few years, and I realised I didn't have a photo of the two of us together. I go through phases where I don't take many photos or write many blog/journal posts, and times like this make me really regret it. I know that there was no lack of love, though.
After talking things through with David for a while after he told me the news, I cried. It's such an odd feeling of loss, to know that someone who was already most of the way around the world from me is not even there any more. I say goodbye to so many of my friends, not knowing when I will see them again, but always thinking that there will be a next time. Sometimes there isn't. 
I haven't been able to watch the rest of that Buffy episode. In the finale, she accepts her own death, and embraces it for the sake of her loved ones and the world in general. Clare was that brave. She won't come back to save the world like Buffy did, but she did change a lot of lives in her short time here. 
I'll miss you so much, Clare, but you will continue to inspire me for a long time to come. I hope that you are sitting in the sun in the big Spiegel Garden in the sky. x

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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Review of Fire by Kristin Cashore

Because I haven't really blogged much lately (like, at all), here is my overly-long review of Kristin Cashore's Fire. Clearly, I wasn't impressed. FireFire by Kristin Cashore
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I started reading this book on the heels of Graceling, which I quite enjoyed (although it definitely had its drawbacks). I was utterly disappointed, and at several points in the book I wondered if I would actually be able to make it through the whole thing. Last night I managed to power through about half of the novel, mostly so I could put it behind me and start on something enjoyable (I know, I know, I just should have let it go).

I didn't mind the general story arc, even though it does drag on a bit. I liked finding out where Leck had come from and that this other land existed across the mountains from the Seven Kingdoms. I didn't mind the characters - even the unlikeable ones are fairly well-written and believable. Some people have said that Fire's relationship with Brigan happened too quickly, but it happened over months, during pre-wartime, so that's fine with me too. What really got to me was the less-than-obvious feminist 'undertones' (or obvious themes) that weren't really discussed but just taken for granted. This is a medieval setting so I'm not shocked and appalled that girls are having sex at 15 (though since this is YA, I don't know that this is appropriate), but the way that no-strings relationships, abortion, and illegitimate children are just assumed, and not addressed, bugs me. Spoilers about abortion and self-sterilisation follow. Mila, when she is already too-far-pregnant, says that she would definitely have taken the abortion drugs if she knew they existed (and she doesn't take this back or address it once her child is born). Fire, with only a short lead up and barely addressing it, decides to make herself sterile, thus ending her race completely. The introduction and the reveal were so sudden and indirect that I had a "Wait, what?!" moment and had to go back and read it again. It was covered in a few short sentences:
"In the middle of December planning, Fire made a choice. She hoped she chose right."
"‘No,’ she said. ‘Don’t fret, it was a small thing. I’m recovered.’ Which was a lie, for her body was sore still and her heart raw as Hanna’s knees. But it was what she hoped would be the truth, eventually."
"And then, because he was holding her hands, she told him all of it, quite simply: how desperately she wanted children, and why she’d decided she mustn’t have them, and how out of fear of changing her mind, she’d arranged quietly, with Clara and Musa’s help, to take the medicines that would make it forever impossible. And she hadn’t recovered, not nearly, for her heart was small and shivering, and it seemed that she couldn’t stop crying."

And then they just go on to say that she must be around babies in the future because she loves them so much! Nothing about how there will never be another monster human, and she decided, alone and as a teenager, that all future monster humans' natures would be too awful to be permitted to live, even though she seems to be turning out different from her father. Nothing's really mentioned about this again. There's also that I really didn't need to hear about Fire's 'monthly bleedings', especially because the blood attracts other monsters so she has to hide inside! I don't think this was really that necessary to the story, and I can't imagine how much more work it would have been for Cashore to work the travel, action, and sex around times when Fire wasn't bleeding.

The other major thing that bothered me was some of the writing and naming of things. I know this is supposed to be for YA readers (although that's questionable), and the protagonist is a teenager, but when Fire starts thinking about a bookshelf's bookshelfness, I nearly put the book down forever. I also really didn't like the term monster for the mind-addling versions of regular animals. I didn't mind the concept, but the word bugged me from the very beginning. She had such a great word in Graceling, why couldn't she have come up with something better than monster lady. I also didn't like Fire's name, which didn't seem to fit with the world. Nobody else was given a noun as a name, except for Archer, and his was a nickname. Then there's Lord Mydogg. I couldn't read this without thinking, "What's up, my dog?" every single time. It was quite distracting. Another small aside was that I found it weird that she named the months of the year the same names we do. Why would they have July and August, etc?

All in all, this book did not make me want to read the next one in the series, which is a pity. I think that the world she created was generally well fleshed out (although I can't imagine how there were raptor monsters, rats, lions, etc in Fire's world and not in Katsa's). I won't be rushing to read the next Cashore book.

View all my reviews

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