A spinoff in proper "Rhoda" style of my patented e-mail blastograms, this blog was created with the intention of keeping friends and family updated on and amused by my life.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Well, it had to happen sometime—I finally got a job. It couldn’t have happened soon enough! They Bay Area has been seeing record high temperatures for the last four or five days now, and the little place I’m in here in San Jose doesn’t have AC. Now, I’ve never had AC before, but it was over 100 degrees (over 40 degrees Celsius) and the place where I live could best be referred to as a cottage. The sun bakes it and there is no insulation or anything. Maybe it is best referred to as an oven…

So, in addition to actually getting paid to do stuff (yay, money!), I also get to spend my days in the comfort of air conditioning. I could have used that last week…

I’m working as an administrative assistant at a non-profit called The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. I could deal with less filing, but the organization itself is actually quite interesting. It feels like I might really have a chance to put my sociological skills to use and help in producing their annual report, Measuring Up!, which measures each state on how accessible higher education is for students, and the quality of said education. It comes out on my birthday (September 7th), so I’ll have to have an extra large party.

In other news, I’ve managed to get my act together and post some much belated pics to my photo blog, Fun Fotos for wHeNeVeR. There are some from my medevac flight of my friend as well as more recent ones if you scroll all the way to the bottom.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Capoeira Video

Well, many of you have asked me what the heck this capoeira business that I've been going on about is. Well, I hesitate to show this to you all, but on the last night I had capoeira in Kunming, one of my friends recorded my last roda. On nights when people in the group go through significant life events (leaving, getting married, having a kid, etc.) during the roda everyone must take their turn going against that person. Since I was leaving, it was my turn to defend myself against everyone else. And let me tell you, capoeira is exhausting, and going against person after person really takes it out of you! So, I start out ok, flag in the middle, and finish alright against my teacher. I say that only to prepare you for if I look too lame...

And so I share this video with you, and ask that you please don't laugh...too hard! I might note that the sound is horrible, so if you choose to go watch it, be sure to mute your speakers! Also, if you want to see what capoeira should actually look like, you could see other people's videos on the bottom-right side of the page.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Another Bombing

On occasion, humanity makes me want to hurl.

This is usually when there are large acts of random violence such as happened just today in Mumbai. Seven explosions happened on Mumbai's commuter train network during rush hour, likely in the first-class cabins. Having been there just months ago, and experienced rush hour, I can guarantee that there will be many dead or certainly injured depending on the strength of the bombs.

My first impression of Mumbai was the trains. I remember clearly coming in through the slums, rickety shacks lining the narrow open spaces by the tracks. Several boys were out with plastic bats playing at cricket, immune to their surroundings. When we arrived at the station, Chesa and I made our way through the swarms of people onto the first-class cabin of one of the commuter trains and went into Churchgate, the station from which these trains departed. It was getting toward six when we arrived but we were coming into town, so there was not the crush of people that we had feared. Luggage in hand we started walking to find a place to stay in the center of town. For blocks we continued slowly making our way against the current, the flood of people heading to the station to get out of town. There were so many people I remember thinking to myself, 'This seems like some sort of mass exodus. Did something happen downtown that we don't know about? Should we be fleeing for our lives?' It was just that many people!

And so, I can imagine what it must have been like on those trains, the sheer numbers of people that had to have been involved. Most recent tally: 190 dead, over 500 injured. My heart weeps.

Also, and I've said this before, the thing that is getting to me is that these terrorists seem to be following me. Or maybe it's just that I'm well traveled. But New York, Madrid, London, Manila (the one I came closest to), Varanasi (should have been there), and now Mumbai. Earthquakes used to follow me. Now it appears to be terrorists. For shame!


A Good Couple of Days

Well, I’ve been here just under a week, but I’m starting already to get my groove on. I mean, I slept in all the way until 8 this morning, and believe me, that’s an improvement over the 5AM internal wake up calls I was getting last week!

Yesterday I took my mom up to San Francisco proper as she has a big convention up there this entire week that she will be staying up there for. I took advantage of the opportunity to wander around town a little bit while my mom and her boss went to the salon. I was trying to head downtown to H&M (where else?!) but ended up going the very wrong direction and ended up first in China town (yay!) and then in Little Italy. As Italy had just won the World Cup (vive la France…and head-butts), it was an exciting time to be in that neighborhood. People inebriated on spirits and spirit waved Italian flags on the street, hooted and hollered, honked their horns, and generally had a good time. My favorite, if discomforting, image of the day: a really drunk guy standing somewhat in the road wobbling back and forth talking to his hand after he had just hung up his cell phone and put it in his pocket asking for the “person” on the other end to pick up mangoes and other items at the supermarket. “Yeah, that’s all,” he confirmed to his hand as he slouched onto the back of a parked car. Mind you this was maybe three in the afternoon.

After a taro flavoured 珍珠奶茶 (bubble tea) ordered in Chinese (“Wa, you spea-ka Chinese?”), I managed to orient myself and get to H&M, Old Navy, and Borders. Hooray for beautiful, beautiful bookstores! Though I can’t believe how expensive books are these days. $14 for a paperback?! Who are they kidding? I topped off the evening with a sushi dinner with my mom and friends and drove back to San Jose listening to Audio Theatre and a reenactment of the Rosenburg spy trial of the 50s. Berkeley radio is fun!

Today was even better. It was a full day that started with a run. After that, I went into downtown San Jose to continue applying for jobs. I love radio in the Bay Area as I was listening to an advice talk show in Chinese on my way up. I looked for a Kinko’s for roughly forever in order that I might print out some copies of my résumés. I got so frustrated that I couldn’t find one that I finally just got out of the car and started walking around. I finally broke down and asked a postal worker who pointed me back in the direction I had just come. It turns out I had driven past the Kinko’s about five times but had not noticed it, and I had even walked right by it. D’oh! Of course, as I pulled up to the agency I also noticed a copy shop right next to that…the joys of learning a new place!

But today I went to two employment agencies, and I think I have good prospects. I’m apparently a master user of both Word and Excel, so that’s good to know.

The most exciting part of the day, though, was probably my discovery of a capoeira center not too far away from my house. I had gone out for an evening bike ride to find the “local” YMCA gym and found capoeira instead. I was in jeans and a t-shirt but decided to participate anyway, and was glad I did! I really miss the comfort of making a fool of myself in front of a small group of friends, but I think this will be a really good way to meet people. Plus, they have two classes every night Monday through Friday, so that’s a lot of opportunities to work out…which I need, believe you me!


Saturday, July 08, 2006

American Moments

Just yesterday my mom asked me if I was feeling any culture shock this time around to the US. Now, normally, I usually feel more of a sense of reverse culture shock coming back into the US from abroad than actual culture shock going there, so my mom was expecting a similar reaction.

Upon short reflection I noted that I wasn't really feeling much in the way of culture shock this time round coming back to the US. Sticker shock sure (though I had been preparing myself for that), but culture shock, not so much. Then I had an American moment.

After having spent the afternoon performing a battery of tests at the employment agency I had gone to, I decided I was hot (I was wearing a whole suit!) and parched. So, on my way home I pulled in to a Jack in the Box to order a Diet Coke. I looked at my options and thought, 'medium'll probably be enough.' I paid my $1.49 and the courteous man at the window produced a bucket of coke easily larger than my forearm and containing three normal-sized cans of pop...

Note to self: the small'll probably be enough!


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Triumphant Return

Just wanted to let all y'all in China know that I made it safely back to the US this morning after only, ahem, a few delays and disturbances.

For probably the first time in my entire life, I was out the door and ready to go well before it was time to actually head to the airport. I know, I was amazed too. Kunming clearly didn't want me to leave, as Wenlin Jie took at least 10 minutes to travel down. Ugh! I did make it to the airport barely on time to get bags check (and argue with the attendant about my overweight luggage), jump the security line, and board the plane directly. Sitting behind me was a row of mid-40's Chinese men in their polyester polos, reaking of baijiu and mumbling loudly in their local dialect. Though the girls sitting next to me were quite nice, the men behind me were obnoxious the whole flight. The one directly behind me argued with the flight attendant about having to actually fasten his seatbelt... He then proceded to lean forward and grab my chair for almost the whole flight, stroking my hair on more the one occasion. He was also physically pulling my chair back on several occasions, especially during landing.

I did eventually arrive in Beijing relatively unscathed, though I had forgotten to write down my friend Yam Ki's address in Beijing, and I had no mobile phone with which to call him. The pay phones at the Beijing Airport only take IC cards, and the smallest denomination they had was 50Y cards in the vending machines. Finally, someone offered to let me use their card for 10Y. I bargained with him, thought to myself how greedy Chinese are, and finally settled at 10Y (he walked away, what can I say). So, after calling Yam Ki and confirming his address, I hopped a cab...unfortunately there was some miscommunication and I ended up at _ _ yuan (garden) instead of _ _ gong yuan (park), and ended up spending about 45Y more than I was originally intending (total of a 115Y cab ride, yikes!).

I did finally arrive, and I had a lovely evening chatting with Yam Ki, Shan, and Laura and admiring his ridiculously HUGE apartment (it's two stories and has five bathrooms and several patios!). After a quick night's sleep on his couch, it was back to the airport.

Things went well and we taxied away from the gate several minutes before our scheduled departure... That is, until, as we sat on the runway in line to take off, the women directly across the aisle from started vomiting profusely. She had a pain in her stomach and was utterly uncomfortable, which she, of course, had every right to be. She moved back to the toilet, and we turned around and headed back to the gate so that she could get medical assistance and disembark the airplane. They wheeled her off and removed her luggage for security reasons, and we ended up leaving an hour late.

But I made it, I'm here, and now it's time for the obligatory 4th of July BBQ! Happy fourth to all, may you have a good day no matter where you are!