Another year…

I’ve had this blog set up for something like 12 years now. I haven’t really been using it that much recently. It’s not so much that I don’t have things to talk about, but that I don’t know if what I have to say really matters in the grander scheme of things. Or would have any impact anyway.

When I started this blog, I was living in Singapore. Or rather, I started a version of it there on Blogger. Then some other blogs, and then I rolled them all into this blog and kept posting. In Singapore, blogs seemed to matter quite a bit. People took them seriously in a way that they just never did in the US. So, when I posted something, I had an expectation of a reaction of some sort.

Now, and maybe especially now with the rise of Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. etc., posting on a blog is sort of like screaming into the wind, or into the eternal void. You can make a lot of noise, but chances are that no one will hear you or even notice.

And even if you say something really important and meaningful, it hardly matters anymore. Maybe I could add a blue check mark to the title of my blog? I dunno. I think it’s because of the polarization of online content in general. People only want to see what’s loudest on both ends of the spectrum. There’s not much room or interest for what’s in the middle. That’s pretty sad but I guess it must be human nature.

And so I let this blog sort of stagnate.

Beyond that feeling that blogging just didn’t matter as much here, I was having a lot of technical issues with Dreamhost. I still am, actually. I’ve had my blog constantly getting restarted by their server because it’s supposedly taking up too much RAM or eating up too much of the CPU, which seems ludicrous to me. I’ve trimmed it down to being really basic and it hardly gets that much traffic anymore, but it’s still apparently being problematic. I can’t even do updates without the thing crashing half the time. Honestly, I think Dreamhost is just punishing me for not upgrading to Dreampress.

Fuck Dreamhost. Fuck them in their ass.

I’ve been coming to a realization though, that I’ve been thinking about blogging the wrong way. Maybe I always have been. Or maybe I started doing this at some point without realizing it.

There’s a difference between blogging to be heard and blogging for myself.

And I think I was blogging to be heard and when I realized that I wouldn’t be heard, or most likely wouldn’t be heard, I lost interest.

So maybe I should be blogging for me. As a way to get my thoughts down and work through them and maybe come to some interesting conclusions. A professor I took a history course with told me once that you never really know what you think about something until you have to write down your thoughts about it because it forces you to really clarify your opinions. She was right. Thanks, Professor.

So, I’m going to try to be a bit more consistent here, even if what I’m posting is something that is only going to matter to me. I’m not trying to be a news outlet. Just a me outlet.

Burning Out Stress on the Running Track

East River Park Running Track
East River Park Running Track

When I was living in Singapore, my wife and I would go jogging 3 times a week or more.  Even though it was hot over there all the time, even at night, it was exhilarating.  Besides being in good shape, every time we would run and hit our target, it gave us a sense of accomplishment.  Participating in the first Run350 event on Pulau Ubin Island and finishing the 5k in 31 minutes, despite the god-awful big hills on the course, was amazing!

Something I probably didn’t think too much about at the time but realize more now is that jogging is also a great way to burn stress.  Last semester was hell for me.  I took on way too many classes and had way too many assignments due.  I’m still sleeping almost 11 hours a day recovering from the lack of rest, especially over the last few weeks.

Despite the time crunch I was under, I still took time to jog.  Why?  Because it gave me an opportunity to stop thinking about due dates and complicated research questions for just an hour or two and gave me a sense of achievement and accomplishment when I met my running goal.  Every successfully completed run was a pat on the back that motivated me to not only keep running, but to get back to my classwork as well.

The bonus on top of it all?  It’s an opportunity for my wife and I to bond.  She runs too and we almost always run together.  This month is going to be a little different.  She’s working full time and I’m busting my ass to get my master’s degree as soon as possible, so I’m taking summer classes.  The summer class I have this month is at night so on Wednesdays we’ll have to run solo like I did yesterday.  It wasn’t as much fun, because I enjoy the competitiveness of running with my wife.  She’s almost as fast as I am, so she keeps me moving when I start to get lazy.

Fake Chinese Food

Once upon a time, before I actually visited a mostly Chinese ethnic country, I thought I knew what Chinese food was, and it looks like this:

American Chinese food.

Imagine my surprise to not find egg rolls over there.  No one knew what an egg roll was, unless they’d been here.  There’s something similar called lumpia, but it’s not quite the same.

Chinese food in the US has been thoroughly Americanized, to make it more appealing to the local palate.  The Chinese food I ate in Singapore was a lot blander in most cases, with most of the flavor coming from dumping lots of chili sauce on everything.  That or eating green chilies along with each bite of food.  There’s also a lot of MSG used.  (Just a note, I’m basing this on the common Chinese food found in food stalls that a person would eat at on a daily basis, not expensive restaurants.)

Chinese food in Singapore.

Chinese food in Singapore.

[Update: It was very rudely brought to my attention by some piece of shit Singaporeans that I accidentally uploaded the wrong photo from my folder.  I’m quite aware that this is ramen, a Japanese dish, most likely from that Japanese food court in Tampines 1.  I can’t remember its name.]

That’s not to say that the food there, the ‘real’ Chinese food, was bad.  On the contrary, a lot of it was awesome, and thankfully I did read about a place in NYC where I can get chicken rice and pork rice.  The pictures looked similar to the dishes I grew to love in Singapore.  I’ll blog about it when I find it and try it out myself.

One other thing, the orange duck sauce that you can find at most Chinese restaurants in the US?  Ya, that’s nowhere to be found in Singapore that I saw.

Maybe Laptop Prices in Singapore Weren’t That Good After All?

A long view down an aisle at a Super Walmart.

My aunt’s mother says that if you can’t find it at Walmart, you don’t need it, and you really could live by that.  A Super Walmart has groceries, clothes, electronics, and even car parts and it’s all sold for low, low, sometimes ridiculously low prices.  I remember when I was younger I didn’t like the idea of shopping at Walmart, but that was back before I was spending my own money on the things I wanted to buy.  Now that everything is coming out of my own pocket, I look for good deals over fancy brand labels.

Something Walmart seems to be doing really well at is their laptop pricing.  Have a look:

Laptop prices at a Super Walmart.

DSC05702

I remember seeing that 278 USD (362 SGD) Acer for sale in Singapore for 600 SGD.  I remember seeing that 298 USD (388 SGD) HP laptop for 800 SGD in Singapore.

Walmart really does have some low prices, and I’m not complaining.

MNG (by Mango) Now At JCPenney Department Store

Now, I don’t really care all that much about ‘high fashion’ or brands, but this caught my eye because the first time I’d ever heard of Mango, or it’s MNG line of clothes, was in Singapore, where it’s apparently very desirable.  Singapore in general is very fashion conscious and the malls are filled with high end boutiques.

MNG (by Mango) is now available at JCPenney

I developed a particular distaste for Mango, not because of how the clothes look (I’ve never even been in the store, but the stuff in the online JCPenney catalog looks nice), but because we lived with a roommate during our first year in Singapore that talked about the brand non-stop.  I’m sure you know the type of person I’m talking about.  She wasn’t happy unless she was telling you about how great and fashionable Mango (or some other brand) is, and about how many items she has, like I gave a damn.  It got to the point that when we’d pass a Mango store in the mall, either myself or my wife would say, “Look! It’s Mango!”  The reply would usually be, “Fuck Mango.”  Like I said, not because the brand is necessarily bad, but because we were tired of hearing about it and associated it with a bitch we didn’t like.

mng

Anyway, in Singapore, and I presume other parts of Asia, Mango is a very desirable brand.  If you have Mango stuff, you’re cool.  I suppose that’s just not the case in the US, though.  Maybe it just never caught on the same way it did in Singapore?  Mango has a few stores here and there in NYC and on the West Coast, but I just don’t get that same ‘exclusive’ feel that I did before, knowing that Mango is carried at department store now.

Regardless, if you’re from Asia and you were wondering how to get Mango clothes in the US, you can get it from your nearest JCPenney now, or just order directly from the JCPenney online catalog.

(Note: This post is not sponsored by Mango in any way.)