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Hello again

I'm sorry I haven't been writing.  I think there's something wrong with my brain. Perhaps it's all the Chinese.

The last time I was going to write was just after Christmas, when me and my friends all got detained overnight in a police station.  I got about halfway through a very detailed and winding narrative of the night when I became distracted and then forgot what happened.

I think it's mostly that writing frustrates me.  My life could be portrayed so much more vividly and entertainingly in documentary format.  Particularly because so much of anything I want to write is inspired out of discontent, which comes off as whining self-pity.  If I had a videocamera on me at all times, then the tragicomedy of my existence in China could be fully appreciated.

But since I don't, I'll try to keep this brief again.

Let me begin by proudly introducing, Beijing's first online DVD rental service.  This was an idea that my friends Guy and Jeff came up with.  I programmed and designed the site, Jeff is taking care of marketing and other distasteful tasks, and Guy is allowing us both to bask in the magnificence of his wisdom and experience (he founded, a cool Chinese real estate search site.)  The site is in its infancy right now, and hopefully we will get enough users and interest to warrant me putting more time into development.

Also, I am now working for the Reds.  The coworker I got along with the worst from my last job recommended me for this position at a Chinese state owned enterprise, presumably out of spite, although it is paying my bills again.  Most of my benefits come in the form of gifts of food: I received one box of vacuum sealed precooked meats, five plastic wrapped rolls of fresh precooked meat and a bag of salty fish, along with packages of nuts and chocolates for the Chinese New Year.  Two weeks ago I got a box of sixty eggs for my birthday.  My birthday is in March.

The job is in a multimedia publishing house subsidiary to China Central Radio & TV University.  They make propaganda that promotes glorious Chinese culture among Western imperialist nations, while assimilating and patronizing the cultures of non-Han ethnic minorities, the 56 flowers of diversity in China.  Did you know the Jews were once briefly officially recognized as a Chinese minority?  I can't find a citation offhand, but somebody told me this, and I find it endlessly entertaining.

I've been working on a few projects since I joined them.  I played a foreign manager in an educational video series on Chinese Business Culture.  The thesis of the series, as I understand it, is essentially that Chinese are emotional and considerate but stupid, while Westerners are robotically professional and cold.  I fit right into the character and exploited my Chinese underlings with calculating gusto.

I am also responsible for translating and editing a Chinese children's geography book into English scripts for a video series for American high school students.  According to the book, China is a paradise, especially the regions fortunate to have discovered coal, and the Japanese devils still have a serious blood debt to pay for past atrocities.  My boss assures me there is market demand for such a product.

I volunteered to take charge of the development and design of the school's English website, which has given me a chance to play around with Joomla!, which I enjoy.  I am saving them thousands of RMB and headache from contracting this out to a Chinese development firm, who would overcharge for a crappy custom made CMS and make them cripplingly dependent on the firm for any changes, but everybody seems upset by the fact that everything I'm using is free.  Open source sounds terrifyingly insecure, and the school will feel that we are shortchanging them if we don't spend all of their budget on this thing.  I am too naive.  The customary thing to do would have been to take the budget and spend it on an imaginary company and software licenses and then just keep it to myself.  When will I learn.

The Labor Bureau has now made employment restrictions so tight that I am unable to renew my license through the normal channels.  The girl in HR found an agency who can obtain a Foreign Expert's Certificate for me for a sum of 5,000 RMB, which will somehow circumvent the Labor Bureau, but the company will only offer to pay for half of this.  I can't blame them, since I've given them no hint that I intend to stay in this job for any longer than I have to, but I find the concept of paying to work hard to swallow.  My boss assures me that I am a drop of water amidst a vast sea, and no one will notice if I trickle out.

I am very excited about an interview I'm having this Thursday with Exoweb.  I decided that since I find myself spending all of my time in front of a computer no matter what I do, I might as well do something I enjoy.  Guy told me about this company and said it is supposed to be a great place to work, although he also said they have something like a 1 in 500 hiring rate.  I made a demo video of the game I programmed a few years back to put in my portfolio.  See how smart I was:

Other things of note:

  • I learned to snowboard.  It is awesome.

  • Hubert is moving out to go backpacking through the Stans for a year with Karim.  This fills me with ambivalence.

  • My ayi has terrible Chinese, and it takes her four hours to clean the apartment, a task that I could probably do in under two.  I want her to go away.

  • Frisbee is starting up outdoors again, and in fact I got Tao, another frisbee player, to move into Hubert's room.

  • My brain completely ceased functioning about 20 seconds ago.  End post.

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Hello world!

I have but few words tonight. I will first share with you a cartoon I drew several years back when I was a fiery little upstart, before I had truly learned to appreciate the glory of the Communist Party: