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

Monday, August 23, 2010

Weekend in Qingdao

My weekend: 3 hour delay on flight to Qingdao, 20RMB all you can drink beer at rooftop bar at hostel, breakfast (with bbq eggs/omelette/sausages) included, beer museum/factory, no available cabs anywhere, forgot to charge my camera batteries, afternoon drinking at the beer festival, meat on a stick, Dairy Queen, running into the Shanghai rugby team at a German bar, missing the ABs game because it was too late (Australia network screened it an hour late, and cut off the anthems and haka, jerks), more bbq breakfast, pretty awesome old Governor's residence, not being able to find my friends (two cabs required), thunderstorm, 9 hours at airport, 1st class lounge, 5 hour delay, home by 04:30. Some of these things were super fun, some were really not. 

This was going to be a status update (but turns out it's way too long), so sorry for the rushed narrative.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Finally, vindication!

Anybody who has ever had to live with me or make an appointment with me early in the morning knows that I am not a morning person.  No matter how much it would improve my standard of life, I just can't go to bed early, even if I have to get up a few hours later.  I have real trouble going to sleep before midnight, and even when I have to get up at 8am (or before), I'm usually falling asleep between 1am and 2am.  When left to my own devices, I stay up until the sun rises, and then feel guilty and go to sleep (usually until sometime in the early, or late, afternoon).

I came across a link to a study today that shows that being an early bird is not necessarily better at all.  The study showed that while attention levels were about the same for early birds and night owls 1.5 hours after waking up, night owls performed quite a lot better than their early rising counterparts 10.5 hours after waking.  This only confirms what I suspected, though.  My boss is an early riser, and he's quite often quite useless when it comes to about 5pm.  I'm still wide awake until not long before I go to bed.  (Though it does say that early birds feel more rested more easily, which also correlates with my experience.)

There was no real difference between the early birds and the night owls in their performance on the morning test. But the evening test was a different story: night owls were less sleepy and had faster reaction times than early birds. (Just to emphasize, 'evening' was a relative term: it was a different actual time for each group, but the exact same 10.5-hours-after-waking for both early birds and night owls.) So even though both groups were sleeping and waking according to their preferred schedule, night owls generally outlasted early birds in how long they could stay awake and mentally alert before becoming mentally fatigued. 

So, early birds on high horses, you can climb on down now. 

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Anniversaries of sorts

For whatever reason, I realised that today is the 5th anniversary of one of the incarnations of one of my blogs.  When I started using Blogger, I was working for a hospital back home in Auckland, and there really wasn't a hell of a lot to do (besides start a new blog and sign up for Facebook - hey, that means I've been on Facebook for five years too).  I was also waitressing part time (I actually really enjoyed that job, and the people), and in the middle of the first winter I'd had at home since I left New Zealand in 2000.  Going back even further, I started blogging in July 2002, using Diaryland, a service which I am surprised to find still has my old blog online.  Oddly, when I started that one, I was also doing a full time admin job (in Edinburgh) and working part time hospitality (in a sketchy sketchy nightclub in Leith).  Looking back on the first couple of posts makes me smile because I was only 21 and all excited about life in Scotland (which I continue to be every time I visit).

I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this, except that maybe I'm feeling a little nostalgic these days.  I'm coming up to two years in Shanghai, 10 years on the road (with breaks), my 30th birthday, and some significant upcoming changes in my life, so I guess it's not surprising.  Seems a bit crazy to think that I've been a citizen of the world for so long, but I like to think I've fit a reasonable amount of good times into the last 10 years of my life (even a little bit of stability!).  It's been really nice reflecting on the people and the places I've been around at different stages of my life, and kinda wonderful to realise that a lot of them are still very close friends of mine, even though all of our lives have changed pretty significantly since.

Thanks, friends. I love you!

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Monday, August 09, 2010

Picasa facial recognition is freaking me out

I decided to play around with the 'People' feature on Picasa (Google's photo management software), and it's been eerily accurate (besides a couple of mistaken suggestions where it thought that my (male) friend was me, but since I've tagged him, there have been no further confusions).  All you have to do is name a person once and it will happily go through and find a major proportion of the pictures they are in.  The more often you confirm something the program is unsure about, the more accurate it gets.  I even tried tagging a picture of a friend where she is making this crazy expression, and just based on that the program has pulled out over 50 pictures of her, in all sorts of poses, good and bad lighting, weird expressions or not.  The only one it got wrong was actually her sister.

I'm both impressed and a little scared by the technology.  Not that I have a problem with it going through and finding all my friends, but I'd prefer to keep it local (that is, on my computer).  The default setting for the People feature is to synch with your address book, adding email addresses etc.  And you can't even delete an email address once it has been added (I chose to just change them to fake ones after I discovered this).  I love Google, but I don't want to give them detailed information about what all my friends look like.  Scary thing is, there's no way to prevent anyone else from doing this.  I can just imagine that sometime in the future (or even now) they'll be able to scan security footage or Google Earth images and be like 'Yes, we're 99.99998% sure that that's We know exactly how many times a week he goes to the supermarket/hairdresser/bookie/adult shop.'  

Note: I am taking some inspiration from the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo - and I hope never ever to say that out loud) people who are posting one post a day for a month, except that I now have four blogs, so will try to post one post a day over those four.  This one is gonna end up being the one with the random leftover stuff (not about life in China or about language), so apologies in advance.

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