Thursday, July 27, 2006

China in Pictures

It only takes a couple weeks of work to blur the memories of a well-worn holiday. For me, this year was China and visiting Wendy's family; two weeks of tropical heat, horrid humidity, and all the best spicy food you can muster. Wuhan, Xi'an, and finally Beijing and the Great Wall - it was a wonderful trip. The trouble is that it is now a distant memory as I am back in the "daily grind" of meetings, presentations, action items, and email email email. Still, there are the photos from my trip.

Click on the link for China in pictures.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Musical Nostalgia

I had a bout of musical nostalgia this afternoon as I was listening to Rufus Wainwright and compiling a powerpoint presentation for work. Two years ago, I remember the CD's of this self-styled (and modish) modern-day troubador. He was (and, I presume, continues to be) an "inside" kind of star with celebrities and hipsters (they like what is "hot" before us mortals do) for classical and dramatically-infused pop melodies. Those style-makers viewed him as "getting" pop like not many other contemporaries did; I just happened to like the songs, even if some were adopted as funkified dance anthems in gay clubs (convenient that Rufus is also gay, so he did not mind the mixing). Anyhow, I remember Rufus for his musical companionship in some turbulent NYC days, dealing as he did in his album "Want One" with regrettably lost loves and solemnness for the life he led on the road; I felt the same in those days as a consultant traversing the US between NYC and San Francisco. He also sang with aching beauty for what life could be and what life entailed over the horizon; I had the same pangs and hoped for the best even through the ambiguities and eccentric notions of fate and opportunity.

Now, I am on the other side, past days wrapping up in Manhattan, galloping through the Swiss Alps to expand the mind, and deposited on the other side of those incredible studies with much less turbulence in the Washington DC area. Still, there is Rufus on my hard drive, and he comforts me with words and melodies that meant so much in those days. Emerging from my musical nostalgia, I hope that he has prospered and found the same joys as I have since our shared experiences together in the Big Apple.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Better Left Unsaid

I have an interest in blogs. Perhaps it was the school assignment last year that we completed to get a sense of what this blog phenomenon - and customer dialogue in general - had to do with companies. I thought at the time that blogs would be more than a passing fad but less than a public groundswell that they seem to have become with the growth of fashionably coined "social networking sites" of personal recollections, comments, and naughty (and not-so-naughty) photos. Now, I have my own blog, which has been hidden from public view or dormant (depending on the time period in question) over the last three years. Back in the public domain, this is the place for jotting down some thoughts and sharing them with the world. If, of course, the world finds enough curiosity to read on...

Enter the masses into media, such as social networking is wont to do. This raises an issue - does the common man and woman have the decency and discretion on what they write in these cyber pages? For most of the rest of the media world, there are standards and censorship and mores that are generally respected (albeit some followed more closely than others). Head out to MySpace or whoever else the "cool kids" are using (Bebo, Facebook, Xanga, Livejournal, Orkut, etc.), and you will find all kinds of comments, inside jokes, bold statments, and personal remarks. Some of it is not "fit to print", although it is all there for the world to see in cyberland.

My interest in blogs brings along this random comment - perhaps some could benefit from remembering what the media types have known for decades. Which is that some things are better left unsaid.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Happy Bastille Day!

To all the French and francophones out there, jour de bastille heureux!

Friday, July 14, 2006

My Fortune Today Is...

... :) You will always have good luck in your personal affairs. :)

-As written on the Chinese fortune that mysteriously appeared from my pocket this morning

A Day of Mourning

I got an email from a friend a couple of days ago that apologized for the actions of Israel in Palestine and now Lebanon against Hamas and Hezbollah respectively. I had a pang of sorrow strike me in reading his note and then the replies from other friends in Lebanon and Egypt about the escalating craziness of the situation. For those outside of that world, it is hard to fathom the deep-seated feelings of culture, pride, hurt, and anger surrounding Israeli-Arab relations; those feelings go back far beyond the 1949 creation of modern Israel and the 1967 six-day war between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.
Now, it seems that the eye of the storm - the Israel-Palestine issue - has started to pick up storm clouds again. When I think about the impending war that almost seems inevitable to break out as the hours pass, I feel sadness for the detrimental effects this will have on the region and the worrying effects it will have on my friends. For this, I find myself in a day of mourning.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Dispatch from China: A Day of Rest

Another day, another computer screen. In between, there is rest, a shower, some journaling, a few meals, and some relaxation before the World Cup matches this evening. I had a chance to witness the first half of the Argentina:Germany match last night before my stamina gave in to dreary eyes and the wicker mattress. After an emotional burst of activity to start the match, it settled into an Argentine dribbling affront to the German's preferred attacking style. I figured what would result from the first half, the stuff that played out while I was dreaming. Although I cannot understand Chinese, I can understand visual highlights on the television and had a chance to witness the final outcome with an Asian flavor. It turned out to be an instant classic, some great chances on goal, both sides breaking through, then a tie to carry over into penalty kicks that fell into high drama. The end result: a German victory that surely led to some great fun across Germany last night.

In curious form, the Chinese get all of this madness and take it to a new level. World Cup fever is everywhere, even though China factored no chance of even qualifying for the final tournament. In fact, I am resting partly as a result of the concern by Wendy's family that the cab drivers - all huge World Cup fanatics - would be in poor form from very late nights watching World Cup matches to take us out to the Three Rivers Gorge to check out the largest dam in the world. I have seen World Cup banners, insignias, advertisements, and paraphenalia across my journeys thus far, punctuating the fact that China includes itself with the outside world as much as the outside world looks on curiously at China.

I should not be surprised- there is nothing that I have experienced thus far that would suggest otherwise. As for the rest of the World Cup, it appears to be shaping up to be a bout of traditional powers (Germany & Italy through to the semifinals, Brazil, England, France, and Portugal remaining) that will be well worth watching. I guess it is a good thing that I am resting this afternoon - more potential that I will be able to last into the second half of the first match tonight between England and Portugal!