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.

J.

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

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Filed under Cubicle/Nerd Culture, Personal, Reading List

I Could Use A Little Escapism

Well as I mentioned in my last post, I’m a little fed up with the Olympics right now. It’s not that I’ve got anything against the Olympics. I just have an Olympic-sized enormous Olympics hangover from all the coverage that it’s getting in the news here (as it should) and from working on this Olympics issue of our company newsletter.

I’ve just rewritten our editorial for the third time in two days and I hope I got the tone the way I want it this time. For some reason writing an opinion piece on a blog is much easier for me than it is to write an editorial for professional media. I always found them difficult to do when I worked in journalism and I am finding them difficult to write now. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I am writing in the paper’s voice and not in my own (as a columnist does) that is the problem or whether I am just not a great opinion writer.

But enough complaints. It’s time like this I turned to a good novel to escape a writing rut. I always thought that was slacking off but I was surprised to see that according to this article in The Globe and Mail it’s actually a good idea for me to do that. I’ll be refreshed later and have a better grip on a situation and my writing. Why not try it yourself. But before you do be sure to check out my latest book review at Lost Laowai — the review of Jan Wong’s Beijing Confidential has been submitted and will hopefully be published in That’s Beijing soon.

J.

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A China-free Summer Reading List

Recently I’ve really been enjoying two Canadian literary blogs, Seen Reading and the Quillblog. Seen Reading is about what one writers sees Canadians reading while the other is from a respected Canadian literary journal. All the books they discuss sound so great that I just want to go out and buy as many Canadian authors as possible. But Shanghai isn’t known for having much CanLit. Plus even if it did, books are expensive and I would just spend all my money on them I already have too many books on my shelves. So it got me looking at what’s there and making a book list for the next month or so. Here it is:

  1. Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctorine
  2. Ian McEwan’s Atonement
  3. John Updike’s Terrorist
  4. Jiang Rong’s Wolf Totem
  5. Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys

You’ll notice that there’s only one China book there. I’ve kind of had my fill of China topics for now. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I deal with different aspects of the country everyday at my job or the fact that I spent most of my day writing an editorial for our company newsletter on the Olympics, but I need a break from it for awhile. Right now, I’m going to finish up some projects I’ve got in the pipeline (a book review of the memoir A Year Without Made in China for Lost Laowai and one on Jan Wong’s Beijing Confidential for That’s Beijing) then I am going to take a rest from China for a week or so. After that I should be ready to come back and tackle it again.

J.

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Filed under Canada & Other Outer Realms, Reading List

Taking a Walk Through 60’s New York

In all this heat, I’ve been watching a lot of DVDs. Tonight’s choice was the first episode of AMC’s series Mad Men.

I’ve only watched the first episode but the show seems to feature everything that I like about the 60’s: well-pressed suits, drinking in the afternoon and a sense of living where you can tell that they are taking lots of risks but they don’t make it look like they care about those risks. That last sentence can be used to describe the show’s lead character Dan Draper.

I don’t know enough about Draper’s character to really give a full description yet, but he seems to be living a bit of a double life — risk-taking Madison Avenue Ad Man while in Manhattan, quiet family man when he comes home to his suburban home. I’m not sure which one is really him — it will keep me watching to wait and see though. As will the little “time-sensitive” bits that are dropped into the show, such as Draper’s boss asking him to help write ads for RIchard Nixon’s first failed presidential campaign and a joke that Draper makes late in the first episode in reference to a photocopier.

I just took a look at the Mad Men website before writing this post and I saw that the second season will be starting on Sunday July 27th for viewers in the US. So any readers of this blog in North America who might have seen the end of season 1 please don’t tell me how this ends. This is one ending I definitely want to find out by myself.

J.

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My Story Began 29 Years Ago….

On Thursday I celebrated my 29th birthday. It didn’t feel like a momentous birthday. I know that in about 362 days I will be turning 30 but turning 29 didn’t seem like a funeral durge. Instead it just felt like a slightly more special day because I kept being told happy birthday all day and my office gave me the day off without docking my annual leave — which is probably the best gift that they could ever gave me.

That wasn’t the only gift I received from my office though. There’s also a program where they give you a gift on your birthday and at Christmas. For my birthday they gave me a Creedance Clearwater Revival CD. It seemed like an ideal gift. You see CCR was my Dad’s favourite band and so when I was growing up I heard their music often. So to hear that music again on my birthday got me thinking about my childhood birthdays.

Since my birthday is in the summer I never had to go to school. Occassionally,  I had to go to day camp but often I had the day to myself and I could relax. I usually received books and CDs for my birthday (something I always loved and still do — and I still frequently receive) so I’d spend the day reading and listening to music with breaks to watch whatever was my favourite talkshow that summer or Law and Order reruns on A&E. At night there’d be a trip to my favourite restaurant for dinner and then usually a trip to the theatre to see whatever was the big summer blockbuster that year.

I always stayed up late on my birthday. After the movie I’d come home and read again until midnight or 1am. I usually finished the first of whatever books I got a day or two after — maybe even that day if it was short enough.  The one feeling I’d have that day is happiness. Nothing could ever go wrong that day and still can’t.

This year was pretty much the same. I walked Roger, I watched Torchwood and I read Jan Wong’s Beijing Confidential. At night Winnie and I went out to dinner and then on the way home she bought me a couple of books as a birthday gift. Again the entire day felt perfect, but I didn’t stay up late instead I went to bed and slept soundly.

J.

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Happy (Late) Canada Day

Since I can’t be at home for Canada Day I pay attention to a lot of the articles that are written about Canada in Canadian newspapers. David Burwick, former CEO of Pepsi-QTG Canada was an American living in Canada for two years. And as he wrote in the National Post he loved it there. Here is his top 10 reasons why you should live in Canada and I can’t agree with him more.

1 Tim’s: What more can I say? It’s 110% Canadian (even if it’s owned by Americans now). Real coffee for real people, started by a real hockey player.

2 The sheer beauty and diverse geography of the country. From St. John’s to Vancouver, with a long stopover in Banff.

3 Sweeter ketchup — and sweeter Diet Pepsi.

4 Terminal one at Pearson International Airport in Toronto: Nothing’s more civilized.

5 The National Anthem: How can you beat the lyrics, “The true north strong and free”?

6 Hockey Night in Canada: One of the last communal TV events left anywhere.

7 Eating a peameal sandwich every Saturday at 7 a. m. during my son’s hockey practice. That ritual became Pavlovian.

8 Raising a family right in the middle of the city, and knowing they’re safe.

9 Surviving a minus-30-degree day in downtown Winnipeg, and how it made me feel more alive.

10 CBC’s coverage of international news. You just can’t get that in the U. S.
Happy Canada Day

J.

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Filed under Canada & Other Outer Realms, Personal

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.

J.

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