Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Is there balance in zooming?

Over one of our marathon catch-up gabfests with my darling cousin Pei (who has been back in Taipei for a few days), we noted how difficult balancing our lives can be, especially with our careers. True, we have more tools at our disposal - email, cell phones, instant messages - but the demands are higher, too.

We want to do our work well, we want to take care of our health, we want to honor our community involvements, we want to pursue our interests, we want to relax, we want to have fun. We also have what I call the business of living - clothing to launder, groceries to buy, bills to pay, homes to clean. And then of course there are our loved ones - and we do not want to have to chose between any of our friends. All too often, however, connections are like branches in rapids, to meet up briefly before being separated again.

Do our personal lives suffer? I have friends I haven't seen in awhile - we play phone tag and text message, but I am either too tired to go out when they are out, or vice versa.

Pei told me how a few co-workers tried to set her up on a blind date. But after several failed attempts to schedule a date (he was on a business trip, she was on a business trip, etc.), he suggested giving up as there wasn't enough yuan fen to even met up, let alone to imagine something sparking from there. How does one date nowadays? If you see someone only on the weekends, does it mean they are not really interested, or is this just the reality of balancing schedules?

How do we squeeze everything beyond our careers - our interests, our friends, our lives - into the 48 hours of a weekend?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

A new prima donna begins to take the stage

An interesting article in today's New York Times on China's rising influence in Asia (at the expense of the U.S.). Amazing how the little things - cultural exchanges, language programs, encouraging students to study abroad - can make such a difference in the perception of one's country. China's influence is growing as the U.S.'s wanes, in part also due to the U.S. drawing its wagons close and turning inward. Cutting back Voice of America's funding, making studying abroad in the States people forget that the source of America's strength comes from the continual flow of foreign brains? Let's think about one of the hottest IPOs this year, which has as co-founder a foreign student. My own parents are themselves an example of America's reliance on foreign students to supply the demand for scientists and engineers. Condi, you reading?

Actually, I didn't mean to rant on about just the U.S. Taiwan is just as guilty - the government cut funding that supports Chinese language study here years ago, and that will really hurt Taiwan as it tries to carve a place for itself in the future. In general, you can tell where China scholars and policy makers learned their Chinese because of their views on the Taiwan-China situation. Gotta start influencing people while they're young...

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Every aisle a checkout aisle

There's a hilarious article in the Wall Street Journal about how Wal-mart in Germany has found hosting singles shopping events a great way to boost sales. Apparently, Wal-mart employees now vie for the Friday night shifts when the events are held. Says one satisfied customer, Andreas Semprich, "I first tried out discotheques, but that did not work. First of all, when you see some of the women again in daylight, I sometimes almost fainted. No, this here is much better. It is a natural, relaxed atmosphere. And besides, I can also save money. The milk is cheaper than in any other store."

There's nothing like the bright flourescent lights of a discount shopping center and the cheapest milk this side of the Rhine to ensure avoiding the beer goggle trap.

In other worlds, feeling rather sleepy despite having gone to bed early last night...perhaps because of the changing seasons. Last week I enjoyed an Indian summer in Taipei, but now winter definitely feels like it is here to stay.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Election result maps

Very nice election result maps at the University of Michigan. These maps adjust the size of states due to population, and show a different view of the U.S. than those that where posted on news outlets. Credit goes to Simon Garfinkel at Technology Review, who pointed out the work.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A nail-biting afternoon

Thank goodness for the time difference, otherwise I'd be up all night watching the pundits on TV instead of refreshing a webpage every few minutes to track the election results. I really hope I don't get another four years of Bush, but the situation doesn't look so promising now.

On another note, I met the cutest girl today at the gym. I accidentally bumped into her as I stepped away from my locker. She could not be more than four years old. As I apologized, she just widened her eyes and continued to follow her mom around the corner...but not before turning around to wave at me.