Saturday, 13 October 2007

And so you're back....from outer space....

Or in fact, Beijing, capital of PRC, venue for next week's Communist Party meeting and, lest anyone forget, the host city for the 2008 Summer Olympics. Due to China's (mis)understanding about freedom of speech it was impossible to get onto a blogsite last week. Or the BBC news pages. But the Guardian site was OK so at least some unfiltered news got through the doubleplusgood nonsense peddled by their vetted media sources.

As an aside, my friends in Beijing tell me they just assume that they are watched, listened to and followed. Makes life easier, and at least then they don't get surprised when they find out it's happening.

It's no secret that the Chinese are immensly proud of hosting the Olympics, and are going all out to use them to show case China and its many economic and social achieivemetnts. An aspect of this that I find intriguing is that they are proud to show the world how calculating and planful their preparations are.

As an example, I was browsing yesterday's China Daily (makes the South China Morning Post and Straits Times look unbelievably racy). Inside was a huge glossy pull out about preparations for the games, including a two page spread on how women who wanted to be hostesses in the games are preparing for this honour. I imagine here they're talking about the chicks who hand out bouquets and carry cushions with medals on them, not the squads of, er, other hostesses who will no doubt be cashing in on the games too.

Preparation for being a hostess includes "smiling practice" to achieve the state mandated perfect smile that displays eight teeth. Eight because it's lucky?? possibly..... should you want to try this for yourself, then grip a chop stick between your gnashers (for up to 2 hours at a time) as this will train up the right muscle groups.

You might not want to try this on your commute into work.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Thursday, 4 October 2007

express yourself

23 Sep-23 Oct
It's good to empathise - and with a huge circle of chums at that - but the first problems to solve are your own. Clearing up other people's woes can become mere displacement. Here are two reasons to get self-centred: your birthday Sun lets you do that polite-but-pushy thing Librans are so good at, and Mars promises a way more contested professional scenario. Compete!

Most "proper" psychologists are dismissive of phenomena such as coincidence, superstition, I Ching, horoscopes and what have you. Jung, on the other hand, treated them as human experineces which are as valid for study as any other. You could, I guess, see him as as forerunner of post modernism, where we all construct our own realities by reading meaning into our interpretations and perceptions of our lives. I like Jung.

All this is a long way round of saying that I read horoscopes. True, I'm fairly selective about the ones I go for (ones of the Mystic Meg ilk "a man in a purple track suit will be significant on Thursday" don't do it for me), and I reserve the right to ignore any news I don't want to acknowledge. Apart from that I treat them as gospel.

This one, as someone invovled in a "helping" profession struck a chord. Ignoring your own issues or needs and projecting them onto other people is a sure fire way of staying stuck in a never ending pattern of martyrdom (I've found).

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

No sleep 'til bedtime....

October 1 is China National Day, and also my birthday. For as long as I'm in China, I will have a day off to celebrate, with fireworks thrown in over the harbour for free. All good.

And so it was that yesterday I set off on a junk with 30-odd friends (that's "about 30 friends" not "30 strange people" although it's sometimes a moot point) to celebrate properly. One of the things I noticed early on about Hong Kong is that it encourages extremes. Especially in the expat community.

The junk mored up at South Bay, where, rather than sun bathing and lounging around drinking beer, everyone launched into some sort of activity. One group took themselves off wakeboarding (sadly curtailed by gale force winds ripping the canopy off the boat), a small flotilla of human fish swam to some distant bay, a heavily pregnant woman elected to row a boat to the beach and I, not to be left out, took a canoe around the island. My English friend currently stationed in Beijing looked on all of this with a mixture of fascination and disbelief.....