Dreams of White Tiles . . .


No Mooncakes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Roddy @ 11:56 pm

First Mid-Autumn Festival I’ve spent in China and not had great big boxes of inedible (to me, anyway) mooncakes to dispose of somehow. This is a benefit of not having an employer that I hadn’t thought of previously.

I”m not sure why I have such a dislike of mooncakes. I think it comes back to my first mooncake, many moons ago, which looked a bit like a pork pie. So I thought, naturally enough, ‘Yay, a pork pie’ and took a big disappointing bite. I have the same feelings towards the little cubes of beef jerky you get wrapped up in bright foil like sweets – years of Pavlovian conditioning as a child have left me assuming that anything small wrapped up in bright foil will be a sweetie, and sweeties are good. Then you unwrap it and it’s a bit of spicy dried beef – which I would actually quite like to eat if it didn’t try and cheat me into thinking it was a Cadbury’s eclair or something.

A few weeks ago I came across bags of tiny pressed cubes of fish meat, again wrapped in bright foil, on the supermarket shelves. I was just thinking ‘What on earth will they do next?’ when I noticed what was next to them – bags of tiny pressed cubes of fish meat, again wrapped in bright foil – “with wasabi!”


Back Up

Filed under: Uncategorized — Roddy @ 5:46 pm

Site’s been down for a day or two while I was moving server – I’m putting all my eggs in one basket and running all my sites off one reseller account. That way, if that one server crashes, I can just forget about the internet because I won’t have any sites or email addresses left.

Still need to do a few things, including getting 出语不俗 up and running again but it all went fairly smoothly once I figured out how to make it all go fairly smoothly. Technical note of no consequence to almost anyone – if you are restoring a MySQL database which includes Chinese characters, setting the database collation to ‘binary’ before you upload will save you feeling stupid for many hours.



Filed under: Uncategorized — Roddy @ 5:19 pm

Gulou Dong Dajie is being simultaneously disemboweled and skinned alive, and this has kindled a refurbishment fever in the shops alongside. It’s a bit of a nightmare to navigate between piles of sand, stacked paving blocks and workers having a well-deserved smoke. If you turn up around 4 or 5 pm though, as the sun comes over the top of Gulou at the end of the street and squints through the dust, you do get very nicely-lit chaos.

They appear to have decided that this street will remain tree-lined, which is nice. Unfortunately they seem to have cut down some trees which weren’t close enough to the said line, but never mind.

Currently listening, repeatedly, to Albion.



Filed under: Uncategorized — Roddy @ 6:59 pm

Relatively quiet last week, after a fortnight which kept me busy with a bunch of freelance stuff. Mostly translation but I’ve started getting a small amount of copy-writing work as well, which adds a bit of variety. Also did a piece for Thats Beijing’s back column last month as the incumbent was unavailable. I don’t actually like it very much on reading over it. It’s certainly not a tone you could sustain for very long without getting very boring.

Been working on a new website for China Development Brief, which will hopefully see the light of day in the coming month. All going well this will allow them to get information online much more easily than their current somewhat singular set-up. I try and avoid taking on too much internet work as it’s not actually something I enjoy all that much, but in this case it’s a relatively interesting project and the CDB folk are very good to work with.

PinyinLyrics.com is now up and running, after what was a long gestation period even by my standards. Not many songs on it yet, but you can register and add more if you want.

I’ve been using the current lull in work to get back to some Chinese study. I was pondering taking the HSK Advanced exam in October, but decided that there was no way I was going to be able to learn to write by hand in time (unless I actually studied hard, which is clearly daft) so opted not to do that. Instead I’ve done something I’ve allegedly been doing for years, which is to go back to basics and work on my speaking. This has been my weak point for some time, largely as a result of my last regular job, which involved reading huge amounts of Chinese.

It’s quite a depressing process as I find myself having conversations like this:

Other: Hey, what you doing?
Me: Studying.
Other: Oh yeah, what you looking at?
Me: Oh, just some incredibly basic vocabulary like ‘friend’ and ‘cat’.
Other: I thought you said you’d worked for a year and a half as a proofreader in a major translation agency and are currently taking time off to pursue further study while doing whatever freelance translation work came up.
Me: Yeah, but you see . . .
Other: Fraud! You suck! Just admit you teach in an elementary school!
Me: But wait . . .
Other: Hey! Guys! Wait till I tell you about this loser . . .

I’m assuming that if I’m going to get the tones right I need to know what the tones are, so I’m currently going back to an elementary textbook and working through it fairly quickly, memorising the vocab properly as I go. I’m not sure how successful I’ll be – I’m not sure I’m enough of a perfectionist, or even any of a perfectionist. It won’t do any harm though, except perhaps ruining any credibility with people who previously saw me hanging out with a copy of 财经 and a 王朔 novel.

Things should speed up when my tutor gets back from her holiday. She’s actually really good, post-grad student of CFL at BLCU, and can do stuff like say ‘your second tone is starting too high’ rather than say ‘No, second tone! Second tone!’ which is as good as a lot of Chinese pronunciation tutors can get.

Currently listening to 跳房子, reading science fiction, watching Carnivale and feeling guilty about this. Oh, and taking photos while walking home drunk.

Powered by WordPress