Archive | 2009

eBay Fiasco

So in the process of trying to acquire an expansion card for my MPC 2000XL on ebay I’ve been pinpointed as a scammer and/or identity thief. Through my own mistake my shipping address in China was automatically included in the post-auction email that was sent out, so when I sent another message saying to ship it to another person (Mark) in Los Angeles the seller asks me to mutually withdraw the transaction in fear of me robbing him or stealing his identity. lol oops. I understand how it must look, I have 100% positive feedback on ebay but because it’s all from years ago. If I could find this thing on taobao (the Chinese ebay) it would save me a ton of hassle but sadly it is not. Here’s a link to the auction – it’s an 8-output sound card.

Published on May 22, 2009

US Consulate

Ah, the most frustrating place that I’ve yet found in Asia. In mid-March I applied for a new US passport because my old one was expiring. I paid $120 and was told to expect a call in about 10 business days. It’s past mid-May and still no call, so I decided to go to the consulate today to see if they’d made a mistake and I could pick it up. Oops, turns out it’s closed today. And tomorrow. And Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. So I have a 90 minute window during which I have to be at the consulate. The US consulate is closed to Americans Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and local and American holidays. And on Tuesday and Thursday it’s open from 1:30-3pm. Consulate, my blog post is to tell you that you are living an utterly worthless existence.

Published on May 19, 2009

Two Lamps

they’re in my studio

Published on April 8, 2009

400 Characters a Day

The other day I observed a friend studying chinese writing 400 characters a day for his introductory class. Rewriting words like •?ÔºåÂéªÔºå‰?†ÔºåÊàëÔºåËøá (the most basic) over and over.

Because my handwritten Chinese is something I’m always working on, I’ve decided to give this routine a shot. Until now I’ve been writing down new words as I learn them or as I look them up – there isn’t a lot of structure to this system. I have a notebook filled with chinese I’ve learned from the last few years, pieces of conversations written down, things other people have taught me, and so on. Here’s a photo of it, click to enlarge:

I’ll try 400 characters a day for a few weeks and see how it works out for me. I’m continuing to use nciku.com and a few ipod touch study aids as well, of these I highly recommend this flashcard application.

Published on April 8, 2009

Databass @ Xiong Mao

just finished this, it’s going to print in the next day or two. click on the flyer to see it in high resolution!

Published on April 7, 2009

New Host, New Look

I’m finished moving everything to new servers and everything is coming back online again slowly. I updated to the latest (2.7) version of WordPress and decided on this easy-to-scan 3 column layout.

Today was the day of the Qing Ming Festival, a holiday for enjoying the spring weather and tending to the graves of your ancestors. Read about it on Wikipedia. Below is a cartoon family burning paper gifts for spirits on Qing Ming Jie.

qingming jie

No paper was burned and I didn’t tend to any grave sites, but I moved my blog and finished Resident Evil 5 today.

Published on April 6, 2009

Free Image Hosting

The last week or so I’ve been getting back into the swing of being back in Chengdu after 2 months of traveling. Being away from home for so long has allowed me to come back and see things with fresh eyes so I feel great about being back and working on projects. Just a quick note for tonight – I found and installed a php image uploader, it hosts images you upload and can resize them for forums, blogs, etc: justcharlie.com/upload

Published on April 5, 2009

Vietnam: Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

This city reminds me of Bangkok – it’s hot, it’s humid, and it seems to be filled with people who are always in a rush to get somewhere. Pay for dinner and the waiter barely has time to glance at you. Probably not a place I’d like to spend a lot of time personally, but then again this is only my first impression and I don’t speak the language or really understand the culture. It’s highly developed and fashionable although it doesn’t exude the same effortless style and finesse of Hanoi. Filled with markets and vendors of all kind, apparently everything is for sale here and you better bring your bargaining skills. Vietnamese people are savvy salesman and expert bargainers – no joke, shopping in Vietnam is tough if you don’t know the language. In one shop on a busy street I’m struggling to get a fake pair of North Face shorts for less than twice what I know they actually cost. The tags on the shorts are in Chinese and surely came from Guangzhou. This is what happens when you’re caucasian and you don’t speak Vietnamese, but start at 30-40% of the ticketed price on something in a market or small shop, especially if it’s anywhere near a tourist site.

While I was in Saigon I stopped at the American War memorial site. It’s a condensed museum which recalls all the tragedy of the American occupation and its engagement with the North Vietnamese. If you go, prepare to leave with a heavy heart as you’re emotionally bombarded with photographs of dismembered children, tortured Vietnamese prisoners, napalmed villages, and gruesome casualties and collateral damage. Seeing it from the Vietnamese perspective is fascinating and something I recommend though as this is a war which has been heavily propagandized by the United States. As many American casualties as there were (a virtual mountain of bodies), it is nothing compared to the losses that the Vietnamese saw – 40% of which were innocent men, women, and children who died unimaginable deaths. The memorial was a painful but rewarding experience.

I found an incredible massage school at the intersection of Phan Ngu Lao and Cong Quynh in District 1. Walking on the street I saw a courtyard that looked like a kung fu training school which turned out to be a well known blind massage location. The building was two stories high, concrete, freshly painted white, and had “enfance espoir” written on the front wall. Inside there are two massage areas, one for men and one for women, and a 60 minute massage runs you just under $3. Even for me this is really cheap – typically massages in this region will never get cheaper than that. As it turns out the massage was great as well, but awkward at first when the blind guy tugged at my shorts, trying to communicate that I’m supposed to take off my shorts and lie on the table covered by a towel. The guy had a slightly ghostly appearance (go figure, blind people) but was as friendly as could be and gave a good massage. Vietnamese massage is slightly noisier than Thai or Laotian varieties, a lot of chop-like hand movements on the back which in rapid succession result in a clapping sound. After the massage I discreetly handed him a big tip for being such a nice guy, trying not to let the cashier with functioning eyes see me. There was a bit of fumbling involved in that gesture. This massage place isn’t just an office for these people, they live there and are cared for by people who run the business.

Published on March 6, 2009