different area codes, II

Since my last trip to China I went to China again. I had a brief sojourn in Germany, which was my first time, and appropriately magical; but, then I returned for less than a week and headed out to Hong Kong…which, is strictly China but also decidedly not. I came to the conclusion, perhaps at least partly based on the sentiments in my last post, to take advantage of the fact that I was all the way out there, to travel somewhere else.

I tried to pull a solo trip to Bali together at the last moment, but there were literally no reasonable flights to be had…and I don’t even mean that from a cost perspective, I mean that there were literally no flights without multiple layovers and 12+ hour travel times (for a flight that should be ~3 hours). So, lesson learned, Bali is not a place that you go to on a whim.

I tried Cambodia and had similar results, and was at the point of resigning myself that this was going to be “just” another trip to Hong Kong for business and I would be heading home afterwards as per usual, when a work friend of mine suggested Beijing. My immediate reaction was inward and was mostly “but I wanted to lie on a beach, not go to China…AGAIN,” but this time did promise to be different.

Oh, I just remembered that I also tried Singapore and that didn’t work out, either…I digress.

This time I would be going to China as a tourist. I would see the Forbidden City. I would see the Great Wall. I would see the cafe on the 6th floor of a Beijing office park that was a recreation of the Central Perk cafe from Friends. And I did. I saw all of those things and more and so the question to myself is now: what do I think of when I think of China?

And the answer is, without drumroll or fanfare, still factories. (insert laughing emoticon). I suppose that should be understandable given how many times I’ve gone and spent my days in factories and how many times I’ll still do so in the future; but, I will say this: the Great Wall, in particular, touched my heart and mind and still lingers there. It’s touristy, yes, but that does not diminish how amazing it is or the sense of awe you get by visiting. So, China, to me you’re now factories and one hell of an amazing achievement.

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different area codes

I’m in China…again. I’m not sure how many times I’ve been, but I think something like 30. The thing is, every time I’ve visited, I’ve been in factory towns both known and remote. Shenzhen is the most well-known, and the most high-tech and well-developed…but I’ve also spent a lot of time in towns with literal dirt roads, chickens in the streets, and non-ironic rickshaws. There’s things you see in towns like those that seem to be common…things like outdoor pool tables, garage shops with roll-up doors in a long row, and one Western-style hotel rising out of the poverty to service the business men.

I was thinking about my experience with China, which, if I may be so bold, is pretty extensive at this point…but at the same time, it’s an experience where I’ve never had the opportunity to see the country outside of various factory towns. What do other people think about when they think about China? Do they think about the Great Wall, the clay warriors, Bruce Lee? Is it the exotic and misty Orient full of ancient secrets and wonder?

Probably so, and that’s just as fair of an assessment as any. For me, though, it’s a totally different feeling…

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solo musings

People in LA, possibly most anywhere, whilst alone in public, scribble furtively in little notebooks. 

Not unlike, one might note, the one I’m writing in now.

I wonder if anyone else is scribbling about the pointlessness of their own writing. Given that this is Los Angeles, probably. 

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what’s a blogging?

I’ve had this site for a long, long time. In one incarnation or another, I’ve had it since the first days of Blogger when I was dating a girl who knew the guy that did the thing and I had (in my mind) the opportunity to turn what was a hobby then into what is a business now. Alas, I lacked the foresight or the fortitude or both and I simply plunked away at the keys, often several times a day. My interest waned, as you can see from my once bi-yearly posts nowadays, and the landscape has changed precipitously. Back in the day, there was no Facebook, or Myspace, and only barely Friendster and everyone trying to talk to each other on AIM. There was no easily accessible way to post about your emo angst or (not yet invented) cat videos.

So you blogged.

Now it’s so much easier to hashtag an instagram post and be done with it in 20 seconds.

But now no one writes anything anymore, and can’t discern a there from a they’re, and thus falls modern civilization.

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the aurora borealis

[Superintendant Chalmers sees Principal Skinner’s kitchen on fire]

Superintendant Chalmers: Good Lord, what is happening in there?

Principal Skinner: The Aurora Borealis?

Superintendant Chalmers: The Aurora Borealis? At this time of year? At this time of day? In this part of the country? Localized entirely within your kitchen?

Principal Skinner: Yes.

Superintendant Chalmers: May I see it?

Principal Skinner: No.


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Yes, I have that kind of camera that people make music videos out of these days; and yet I instead went ahead and utilized 1989 technology to create a shorter, grainier video without sound. I’m not sure what you’re getting at. Ladies and gentlemen, the mighty Dettifoss:


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I’ve been doing some quick calculations. As of this moment, I have read 318 books. I’ve actually read many more than that, but I’m only counting novels. No disrespect to Dr. Seus or Clifford (the BIG red dog), but I’m not sure that they count so much as “reading” a book as they do as “observing” one.

My mother being a reading teacher, I started reading at an early age, pre-kindergarten in fact. It is this single characteristic to which I attribute entirely any academic success I’ve ever had. Not necessarily because I read and retained anything erudite, but more because I feel like the act of reading helped mold my brain into a semi-sharp instrument. Be it comic books or Melville, reading is always positive. It requires imagination, it improves your vocabulary…it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

At any rate, I started reading early. I’m not sure when I started reading real novels (the kinds I’d count on my list…which is here by the way), but I’m going to assume that I was about 12. Doing the math, that means I’m reading 12 books a year, a book a month on average. And it’s definitely an average not a reflection of reality. For whatever reason, I’ve been reading a lot over the last 30 days, and I’ve so far read 7 books within the last month.

I wonder how high my tally will get?

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The more into the technology of our day and age I get, the more I seem to enjoy the moments without it. Between my iPhone, iPad, 3 laptops, smart tv, xbox, wii, and on and on, I’m very technically connected…but increasingly feel more and more separated.

The irony of typing this post out on my iPhone does not escape me.

I went camping for the first time in a long time, recently. It wasn’t as smooth as my days as a Boy Scout, but it was interesting how quickly the needle fell back into the grooves. I had no cell service of any kind while out there and I saw stars that I’ve not only not seen forever, but maybe have never seen. And it was there, miles and miles away from what was usually deemed “important” on a day to basis, with no ability to post anything, call anyone, or look up something anyhow, I felt more connected than I had in a long time.

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g(ro)un(d) control

I like shooting.

It’s fun, and, in the best possible way in that it’s challenging as well. Not having grown up in a gun house, I found out that I was naturally pretty good at shooting through the Boy Scouts. Skeet shooting was pretty easy and target shooting quickly became so.

I always really liked target shooting over skeet. Shotguns were too loud and dumb and inaccurate. Target rifles were stealthy and temperamental and smart. You needed patience. You needed control. Even after earning my rifle merit badge I would spend hours in our backyard with my little pellet gun, laying in the prone position and slowly squeezing off rounds into a target 25yds away. I saved the best ones…the ones with 5 shots within a quarter-sized area and always tried to better my score.

As I got older, my Dad would take me to the shooting range every once and a while. We’d rent Glocks and 45’s and spend an hour shooting at man-shaped targets. It’s funny that how odd that was never occurred to me…to be clearly training how to shoot a guy. Maximum damage in the chest where there’s the biggest area and most possibility for damage. Headshots are impressive but not tactically advantageous.

In recent years, a lot of people, with a lot of guns, that are short on sanity, have killed a lot of people. There are the philosophical arguments as to whether these people would still kill people regardless of if guns were around to help them. Would they go on a massive wooden club spree? Would they bludgeon people with frying pans if AR-15’s weren’t available? And that argument is used to (usually) attempt to prove that guns don’t kill people, people do. I don’t want to get in a debate on this, but there’s one thing for sure: if people kill people or guns do, guns sure make it a whole hell of a lot easier.

I stopped by a large magazine rack over the weekend. The kind that has every US magazine you could think of plus several imported from around the globe. I was looking for guitar magazines, and was having a very difficult time of it, and eventually found two buried behind some non-related teen magazines. What I had no trouble finding, however, were the 10 gun magazines, all at eye level, front and center. The one with the the “defense for housewives” article that features a triple-barreled semi-automatic tactical shotgun. For the little lady who just needs to feel a little safer.

I like shooting. But I don’t like it enough not to give it up completely.

More on the AR-15

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famous among no one

For the amount of times I post these days (infrequently), and the number of readers I have (one. me), I still seem to retain a level of loyalty for this site not in keeping with its apparent importance.

I do, at least, find use in the reading list…

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