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

Friday, March 13, 2009

Speaking of literacy...

I'm really glad that the vast majority of my friends who choose to maintain some kind of web presence are literate and write quite compelling observations of their everyday lives and the world at large.

I'm relying solidly on Google Reader at the moment to keep up with them, but I've genuinely been enjoying learning more about various friends and their lives around the world this way.

I'm going to list these solely by location, because otherwise compartmentalising them is too much of a burden for me! If you're not listed here...maybe you should be posting more often!

I highly recommend all of these blogs (dammit, I was trying so hard to avoid that word), but for a lot of different reasons, so give one or two a go.

Canada / Victoria : Just a Normal Day [will be linked in the sidebar as soon as it lets me/I remember about it again]

China / Hangzhou : Below Heaven is Hangzhou [Same as above]

China / Wuhan : Packers to Pandas

Hong Kong SAR / Sha Tin: new territories

Hong Kong SAR / Sha Tin: Mandarin Orange You Glad I Have A Blog?

UK / Brighton: davers dot org

USA / Baltimore : Josephine Henneberry

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What in the WORlD?

I've been a fan of lowercase L for a while now, so I'm always happy when I can contribute.  Click the link below to see the full post.  Thanks, WIllIAM.

In a WORlD ...

(Said with an imposing movie voiceover tone) "In a world ... where uppercase letters rule ... one letter stood out. It was ... the lowercase L".

Found overseas by contributor Wendy Wong, whose travels brought us a previous SAlTY find in WAlES, this Shanghai DVD store is officially busted, and it isn't for pirating movies. Movie Star may be "EVEN BETTER THAN MOVIE WORlD" in movie selection, but not in signage. Wendy writes:

I try not to pick on foreign examples, but I'm living in Shanghai, and I think this one's pretty good. Otherwise spelled correctly, and everything! Interesting to note is that there is no lower case in this lovely '90s font, so it actually is an uppercase I.

You may be interested to know that the pirated-DVD store formerly known as 'MOVIE WORID' is just across the road. It's now called 'Big Movie'.

Let's get (kind of) literary

On Saturday afternoon I met up with a few people to go to some events as part of the Literary Festival that's running over the next few weeks.

The first event we saw was a talk by Jen Lin-Liu about her book 'Serve the People'. The topic, covering the range from small private kitchens in Beijing to apprenticing and working in large commercial kitchens in Shanghai, was intriguing, especially since I both enjoy cooking and have had a little bit to do with restaurant and pub kitchens. Unfortunately, she made it seem ordinary, and the way that she spoke about her experiences somehow conveyed no expertise at all, which is not what I want from someone who I want to tell me inside details about an industry I'm already a little familiar with. I think it boils down to her just needing more experience with the public speaking thing. More elaboration about the information in the book, actual answers to the questions (she did field some great questions, but not especially well), and fewer halting readings from the book would be a good start. Oh, and rapport-building skills? I don't know. Anyway, if the book fell into my lap, I might consider reading it, despite the fact that she pronounced the word 'myriad' as 'my-reed'. I am so judgmental.

Thankfully, a glass of wine was included in the ticket price, and we got to go immediately downstairs to get another glass of wine and see James Fallows speak. One of the girls who had come over from Wuhan is a huge fan, and I'm really glad I tagged along to see him. It's an increasing rarity to see a speaker who can form a coherent answer off the cuff, and turn banal questions into opportunities to give insight on something else. Yes, I watched several of the debates leading up to the American election last year. I didn't actually know much about Mr Fallows before I went in, but it turns out he was the youngest ever chief speechwriter for an American president (for Jimmy Carter), although it was recently inaccurately reported that Jon Favreau, White House hottie [personal opinion] and Obama's Director of Speechwriting, was. Fallows made a great crack about how it was much easier for Favreau, because he was writing for someone who could actually speak. James Fallows has authored nine books and for years been a regular correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, as well as many other vaunted publications. His postings in the US, the Middle East, Asia, and elsewhere, and his many personal interests and achievements made this talk much more than just about promoting his latest book 'Postcards from Tomorrow Square'. [I live right behind Tomorrow Square!] He was humble in that he knew many of the people attending would have a closer relationship with China, and so mostly spoke to us about things he could give an expert opinion on. All in all, he came across as a fascinating, down-to-earth, adventurous man who dotes on his family and never hesitates to question the world. An amazing hour or so. My friend even got an autograph, a chat, and a business card afterwards. I've subscribed to his blog.

For another opinion on this afternoon, and weekend in general, check out Packers to Pandas.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Coincidence and confection

Friday night started off with a coworker wishing me a 'happy Women's Day' before she left for the weekend.  I had vaguely heard of it, but had no idea it was coming up.  I have a funny feeling that we were supposed to get a half day off work for it, but as it was on Sunday, I felt a little bit ripped off.  In any case, it's quite cool that China actually recognises March 8th as a holiday, unlike any other country I've ever lived in.  Some restaurants and stores even give special deals to women to celebrate.  Pity I didn't actually go out to support any commercial enterprises on Sunday.

Anyway, back to Friday...I had a friend visiting from Wuhan, and I tried and failed to get in touch with her about dinner.  A major downside of the mobile phone networks in China is that you have to pay for incoming calls, and once you're out of credit, it's very difficult to top up if you're not in your own city.  So, I accepted my second offer for dinner and went out with some coworkers and acquaintances.  They'd pretty much finished by the time I got there, but I did managed to eat something and we sat around chatting for a while before we ordered the delicious frozen desserts that the restaurant is renowned for.  In the meantime, a surprise chair pulled up next to me.  It turned out that, in a city of nearly 20 million people, the friend I was trying to get hold of was sitting at the table right next to me.  She hadn't realised until then because I had my back to them, and was sitting behind a really tall guy.  He moved at some point, and she recognised my hoodie.  How fantastic.  We caught up for a bit, ate dessert, and then parted ways.  I spent the rest of the night playing mahjohng and eating peanuts.  Enough of the training rounds, I want to play for money next time.  Watch me become more Chinese every day!

Speaking of Chinese and desserts, I've just started reading 'angry asian man', and that's where I found what he's deemed 'the most racist dessert ever'.  Prejudice is a dish best served cold.  With an umbrella.