Category Archives: Cubicle/Nerd Culture

Posting Will Be Very Light for the Next Little While

I’m in the middle of a major project at work — no that’s not right. I am struggling with a major project at work at the moment. and that is seeping up all of my time and desire to blog so posting will be a bit light here for another week. I hope to get on top of things this week so that I can write something soon — as this space is a real outlet for me. But I don’t want to turn this blog into a spot to rant about the failures of PowerPoint (or my failure to master the program), so I’ll just stay semi-silent until I finish the project.

On a more positive note though, Winnie and I did watch the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies on Friday with some friends at a Greek restaurant in Gubei. It was simply awesome especially the fireworks. I do hope that this put a lot doubts to rest about whether China was ready to host the Olympics or not. I’ve also been watching the Olympics on and off all weekend. As of right now, China has six gold and two silver medals.

It was sad to hear about the murder of an American at the Drum Tower yesterday. My thoughts are with the family, but I am wishing deep in my heart of hearts that there is no backlash against China for it. It sounds like it was just a deranged man and the family was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Look for posts again soon.




Filed under China News, Cubicle/Nerd Culture, Personal

How to Turn My Week Around

WIth all the frustration I’ve been going through on the Olympic editorial I’ve been writing it’s felt like a less than successful week work wise. That changed today not cause I finally got the editorial right — we’ve switched to looking at the Olympics as a way to share Chinese culture so I’ll be taking one more stab at it tomorrow — but because I got a good comment from my boss on another issue. He was happy that I was able to get our company an opportunity to submit an article to the magazine of the Beijing branch of the British Chamber of Commerce in China. That one comment turned my week around.

And tonight I got invited to a new Gubei this weekend thing are looking up.


PS Here’s a link to my latest Lost Laowai post.

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Filed under Cubicle/Nerd Culture, Personal, Reading List

Back in China and Things are Returning to Normal…for the Better

Well we made it home yesterday safe and sound without any problems. Jetlag is still a little bit present — I am writing this post at 10:55pm after all, but generally we’re recovering pretty well. There are a couple things that are different however, all for the better:

  • We can’t stop talking and thinking about our time in Canada. Winnie and I both really enjoyed our time there. That just shows how good our trip was. We’re seriously considering moving there. I think it would be a good move for the both of us. Now the only thing to really think about is when. We’ll have to workout a few items first such as what sort of visa is the best one for Winnie to apply for (we’re thinking it might be a good idea for her to go back to school for a year to get a Canadian degree on her resume. I may return to school for a master’s degree as well).  Our trip home has really brought us closer together as well, which can only be a good thing.
  • I feel refreshed enough to handle things at work. It helps a lot that the summer period has set in and things are beginning to quiet down as well. My stress level dropped a lot today and I was really able to get my work done. I finished all my tasks and was out of the office by 6pm. I also wasn’t dreading returning to my desk tomorrow like I was before the trip.
  • Roger got his hair cut shaved yesterday. It’ll keep him cooler for the summer and help his summer coat grow in properly. Unfortunately right now he looks like a totally different dog than the one I fell in love with, but I’m getting used to it. He grew pretty big over the 11 days we were gone — we can really notice the change anyway — but I can see from the way he acts that he is still the same lovable funny energetic dog I purchased and that’s what matters.
  • On a technical note, I’ve made the complete switch over to a Mac and am now even am to write posts for this blog here. It’s much faster and feels much more satisfying to type it on my lap on a keyboard that is really designed to be used in a small area instead of my old HP’s keyboard that felt like a miniature version of a full-scale desktop version.

The main thing overall right now is that I feel content and happy with Winnie, with my job and with my life and that is all thanks to this vacation.


P.S. Happy Canada Day to all Canadian readers of this blog whether you’re in our home and native land or overseas tomorrow, have a good one!

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Filed under A Dog's Life, Canada & Other Outer Realms, Cubicle/Nerd Culture, Personal

Today’s Earthquake: The Day China Entered the Twitter Era

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the earthquake that hit Sichuan today. It was so big that we even felt it in Shanghai.

When it happened I was sitting at my desk working on my computer. I felt a little dizzy and I thought it was just from some eating some bad food at lunch. Only when my colleagues rushed by saying in Shanghainese that something had happened did I know it wasn’t just me. Within a minute my Twitter Feed jumped to life with people asking if anyone else felt the earthquake in Beijing. It was then that I knew something was up. A few minutes later we evacuated the building.

But we were given the all clear 15 minutes later. When I got back to my desk I was able to follow everything on Twitter and answer questions from different colleagues as the people on my feed fed information on the earthquake from all over the country. And we were able to help each other and filter out rumours. People who had access to televisions were able to keep people like me, who were in offices and working, up-to-date with the latest developments.

I can really tell that Twitter is coming into it’s own in China. Today really proves it, especially since the Chinese media did not release news right away and there is very limited access to foreign news sources such as CNN — I’m lucky in in that I have a satellite dish that gives me foreign programs but it’s on the fritz at the moment. Twitter filled the gap for me today and thanks to crowd sourcing I think that it’s pretty accurate. Two articles on the situation can be found on Danwei and China Herald.

As much as I feel happy for the role that Twitter played in the event, I fill sorry for all those dead and injured in the quake. My heart and prayers go out to them.


Update (May 17th 2008): I sent a note to Jesse Brown, the host of CBC Radio’s Search Engine about Twittering the earthquake. They featured me on their blog here and here.

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Filed under China Society, Cubicle/Nerd Culture, Music, Personal, Television

Something To Remember When You Return to Work Tomorrow: Safety

Note: I tried to post this last night, but I couldn’t because of technical glitches. After today’s earthquake the recommendations seem all that more important.


I was really surprised this week when I received the latest issue of EuroBiz, the magazine of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, and read Bill Dodson’s column on workplace safety. I knew that workplace accidents happen in China, but not like this:

” Operators sometimes have to reach deep inside the machines, which should automatically stop when material is trapped inside them and needs to be pulled out. “Operators – with the blessing of the Chinese owner – would take the male sensor on one side of the machine and simply push it into the female sensor on the other side of the machine, effectively short-circuiting the safeties,” he said. “I told them they can’t do that; the makers of the machine made the system that way for a reason – to protect the workers.” Another Western manager told me how a young Chinese technician at a local factory had chosen to change out a product in testing without allowing the test cycle to finish. She had bypassed the safety mechanisms in order to save time switching out products under test. Sharp pincers that normally hold the product in place mistook her finger for the next product to be tested and splayed the finger open. Blood, by the telling, sprayed onto her and her co-worker, who watched the whole episode without comment and acted only when it was too late. “

Read the rest of Dodson’s article to see how you can prevent this from happening in your factories.

Dodson does a great job laying out ways to prevent this from happening through educating factory workers. But his piece also got me thinking about educating office workers about safety. I know you’re probably thinking about that episode in the third season of The Office where the warehouse guys tease Michael and the office team because they have to take safety training to prevent things like paper cuts. But thing like eye strain can have dangerous and painful effects — as someone with a visual impairment I’ve felt the effects. I’ve also seen that many people don’t treat these type of things seriously.

Thankfully China Daily has some easy tips that can save you a lot of pain later. Another tip that I like to follow is taking an Internet- and computer-free weekend and doing some offline activities. I just did that this weekend and I feel great and totally refreshed for Monday.

Hope you do too.


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Filed under China Business, Cubicle/Nerd Culture

I’m a Radio Star!

Well at least a small star…I’m going to be featured as a commentator on the issue of “lurking” on blogs on the latest episode of the CBC Radio program, Spark. You can download the podcast here.



Filed under Canada & Other Outer Realms, Cubicle/Nerd Culture, Personal

Participating in a Virtual Community

Virtual communities have been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve been spend a lot of time participating on the blog and wiki of the CBC Radio show, Spark, a show about how people use technology. I’ve also spent a lot of time reading Global Neighborhood’s series on virtual communities. And it’s made me realize a few things.

I’ve always seen IM tools, social networks and even this blog as communication tools. Tools to get my point of view out there and as a way for the people back home to get in touch with me. As an expat — even in a vibrant place like Shanghai — you can still feel isolated on the odd occasion even though you have a ton of friends. There are only a little over 4,000 Canadians in the city after all, so the chances of you meeting up with another Canadian outside of going to a Canadian China Business Council or a Canadian Consulate of Shanghai event are pretty unlikely.

But after this week of really playing around with these tools to talk to people other than my family or my Facebook contacts, I’ve really been able to see myself participating more with in a community. And there are benefits to that which are greater than meeting new people. I’ve gotten ideas from people that I have been able to apply to my work and was asked to record a comment for CBC’s Spark, which I did this morning. And the best part is that I have been able to thanks people for their help and their ideas and talk back to them. It’s fun and I feel like a richer person for doing so.

I also see a lot of future benefits both for companies who want to communicate and hear from their customers (one of the major marketing uses of Web 2.0 tools right now) but also I see applications for this stuff in diplomacy and government services — the sharing of ideas and information faster so that it leads to great efficiency and a better quality of service.

Most important to me though, is that I just find this fun. I have a learning fetish and will read pretty much anything that I can get my hands on. I’ll also speak to people about it too. And virtual communities give me a great way to do that.


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Filed under Cubicle/Nerd Culture, Personal