I suddenly dug out this LONG artcle that I wrote in Chinese a while ago when I just finished my Master's dissertation. We said Master's dissertation and PhD thesis...
I used to call them students before I became familiar with the saying of “kids.” Now I am increasingly tempted to call them oysters after the trip back from Virginia’s Eastern Shore, for the silence that I always encounter when I teach.
I remember the days when I was one of the oysters down there.
My Advanced Mathematics was not bad, although I do not remember anything now except a story that my professor told in class. We were talking about the function of Y=X*X (what a low IQ function it looks like!!). “Should GDP increases on the curve of this function, would it be a good thing?”
See, I totally forget the process of how the conclusion was drawn, but a steep fall supposedly came out right after the dramatic increase.
You are learning Public Administration, the Prof. observed. Don’t take it for granted that your secretary will simplify the stats for you into good and bad.
One day if you see Y=X*X, remember to slow down, because a dangerous collapse is very likely to follow up.
We were a bunch of young and innocent high school graduates, at an age of saying “no matter how difficult it is,” without knowing what was actually waiting ahead of us. The saying of the Prof., for some reason, was imprinted into one of the oysters’ mind.
Six years have passed. A kindergarten baby is ready to go to secondary school within this much time. What should I say to my oysters?
I was reviewing the notes for the coming lecture when the ppt slides suddenly conjured up the Prof.’s words that I heard ages ago. We, my students and I, were supposed to talk about a treatment called focus group, and the fact that people did not tell their truthful feelings within this setting.
Thinking of my students, who are mostly Caucasians, I suddenly decided to tell them a story of the Japanese American internees.
I started it this way. Do you know the Japanese Americans all pledged loyalty to the US during their internment life but some of them disclaimed their American citizenship right after the war and never came back? Do you know why they did so? Do you think it is really their human nature to pledge loyalty?
Think about it. Suppose you are a businessman or businesswoman and have lived in Japan for 20 years. Your children all grow up there and have two citizenships. One day the two countries are in a war. Do you want someone to let them pledge loyalty to Japan and force them to say they would fight against America where their parents are from, and where their cousins and grandmothers are still living? But how else can they survive except saying so?
I noticed when I said “fight against America,” the oysters were immediately touched.
One day, as advertisers, you will be the decision maker for others’ companies or for your own. Possibly some of you will make decisions for the industry or for this nation. Remember everybody has the chance of becoming the 5%, two standard deviations away from the mean, which is called minority. Remember everybody is afraid of being lonely in that group.
You should feel the social pressure on them and know the reason why they do not tell the truth in public. This is about research, and not only about research…
I never think I am a very noble person. Who can be wholeheartedly noble when s/he is counting the coins in the pocket and earning his/her bread from a spectrum of bosses (a spectrum of bosses?!)? But in the life of a not-so-noble person as me, I still hold a little wish. It is the wish that what I have experienced as an innocent child can be passed on to others.
Oysters do not talk, but they remember things. I know this because I was one of them. I know this, therefore, I am hoping the seeds that they have silently grabbed, could become pearls some day.
It is difficult to be a good consultant when you don’t love your client.
We three people look to be a vivid interpretation of World unification. Remember what Samuel Huntington has said about the Western culture being challenged by Arabic and Confucius cultures? We three, a blond English woman, a Chinese woman, and a dark German guy who looks to be Indian, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Arabic… at any rate, nothing German, sat there together like three concordant potatoes, wonderfully illustrating the possibility of the peaceful unification of the three great civilizations.
We are Loui, Ho, and Domi, extremely international, but we do lack something those southerners are expecting: something American.
The southern states are extremely conservative areas. People who have been to Atlantic usually feel that the Confederation, instead of Yankees, have won the Civil War.
This is an area in the South that is currently seeking a brand to promote tourism. Unfortunately, there is only a Yankees’ university that is willing to help in strategy development; and the worst part of the story is, there are only three foreigners in the Yankees’ university who are totally interested in them.
The three potatoes are left with a bucket of (what food does not go with potatoes? It is absolutely difficult to think out.) grinding sticks, who are definitely confused of how to utilize the potatoes’ talents.
So they decided to invite us to see the place ourselves.
This is from Mommy's email. Quite interesting. My Cam friends are going to double up over this.
|One friend replied upon receiving this letter:
Hi, dear, Now I feel thankful for my own situition. :-)
Haha, my pleasure.
Here is the New Year's Day gift, actually, Xmas gift that I sent out
to some of my friends.
My dear friends,
It is finally New Year's Day.
Of the cities that have influenced me the most, the place that I am
currently staying is the weirdest. I remember lying in the cozy sofa
in my Center City attic at night, hearing my neighbors walking on top
of the roof and throwing Coke bottles onto our balcony; finding gays
and lesbians living next door to me and tolerating all the noises they
had to make; having police examine my room and spread red power all
over my floor; going to the court as a plaintiff, ending up in a
dumbfounded debate with the judge instead of a lawyer; seeing people
being killed in the street 10 meters from me and could not breathe for
the coming… 3 seconds; walking like crazy on the roads of Washington
DC, Philadelphia, and New York City to see different bosses;
struggling through my students' rebellion and my own funding crisis
for schooling right before Xmas; writing 20,000 words in a couple of
weeks' time; making up the decision to change my career after a
telephone call; having things stolen, things lost, and arm burnt in
several days… these are some of the stories that have happened in the
past ten months. It is, probably the time to say good-bye, and the
moment to start over. Fortunately, good things still occurred in the
middle of the incidents…
I was taking a rest in Philadelphia when a friend from London visited.
As a habit of an ex-TV-producer (:P), I made some of the photos that
we, Rui, Lin, and I, have taken, into this PPT. It's quite simple and
childish compare to the previous ones that I have made. But there are
things that we need to cope with a simple and childish heart. In this
way we can still be happy and thankful, and console ourselves and
others. After all, what happened in the past are merely minor issues…
Everybody has a good way to say Happy New Year. One way is to share
:~). May God bless you.
(Supposed to be Apple here?)
It is interesting to see tourists in Pisa, particularly how keen they are on making silly poses in front of the camera as if supporting the Leaning Tower from toppling.
It does take a while for you to pose a perfect gesture. Then when you ultimately make it, someone could rush into the picture and destroy everything. At other times, it may be so difficult to hold steady a posture that you fall over before the tower.
I was trying to take a shot from a special angle, an angle that could depict the details of the grandiose tower, its degree of leaning, and people walking down there all together within one picture. As to my style, I also wanted all these to support only one theme in my picture, although I myself had no idea what this theme could be.
I thought I could do the first two together, but it would be impossible to capture the latter, the people, without destroying (do people always destroy the scene?! What a hypothesis!) the intactness of the architecture’s image. So I walked to about ten meters from the tower, crouched down like a tiger (:S), put my camera on the ground, and bent my upper body over the camera to observe.
I could just shoot the upper part of the tower if I want the details, with a desirable exaggeration of the texture and a bit presentation of the leaning angle.
I believe people walking by did not know what I was doing. This woman is not posing and was only shooting silly pictures of the tower itself!
I pressed the button for at least a dozen times. There was little change in between, and I could not say I was satisfied, until a Taiwanese girl ran into the frame just as I was shooting.
I stood up, put the camera back into my bag and went away. At that point, I decided that I would never take a picture of the Leaning Tower of Pisa again.
Sometimes you repeat and repeat to seek a satisfying result, like falling down and getting up again. Tired, dreary, you don’t know the answer. Then suddenly at a certain point, something happens almost accidentally, as if the door opens up…
PS: The theme of the photo was: We are all children in front of the tower; but the tower is merely a tower, in front of human beings.
My boss is that kind of person who would slide soundlessly in his roller chair and suddenly appear in front of me. Playing with a marketing investigation package, he would ask, “This is a new project. Isn’t it cool if you could do some work on it?”
As a research assistant, I am supposed to answer: I have to do a research about the recent temperature before I decide whether or not it is cool.
Burton Snowboard, the probably second largest snowboard maker in the world (right after Salomon, if I am not mistaken), was launching its shoes called Gravis. Although the shoes were designed in the States, it received a cold marketing response here but was extremely, actually, abnormally hot in Japan, listed with Adidas, Nike, and Puma to be more specific.
The question is why.
I was working at UPenn’s library when I searched online for this. My eyes frequently observed my own feet and I even took off my shoes occasionally to see them more clearly. I didn’t know whether the librarian would evict me for potential pollution or anything. But I suddenly noticed the shoes that I was wearing.
I used to be a journalist. As a result (or as a reason of becoming a journalist?), I walk very much and very fast. As a result from this, shoes are like my intimate friends.
You may recall your standard of choosing friends. As to me, some friends resemble clothes and some others resemble shoes. I have clothes of a variety of styles, because I need to appear differently in different occasions. However, my shoes per se are all of one type, since I use only one criterion to filter the interested and uninterested: comfort.
My friends should be angry at being called shoes, but may not be so if they know the reason. People usually have friends of different types as they grow old. They make friends because they want to take advantage of each other, because of an existing family relationship, because they are pushed by the “social pressure,” because they want to hear some noise in addition to hearing the noise from a television (what?!), and so on, just as we need different clothes. Accordingly, I may look serious in this sweater and fancy in those pair of jeans.
But there is one and only one type of irreplaceable friends that really understand you. Those are people of your kind, people who understand that aspect of you that you want them to understand. They are your type.
I call shoes an intimate wear for this reason.
This pair of shoes that I am wearing came to me as a surprise. I was walking from home (Fitzroy Square, Northwest) to Selfridge, then to US Embassy in the West and Embassy of Italy in the Southwest, then back West to school before going back home: six hours’ walk, almost non-stop.
In a shop owned by an Iranian, I saw this pair of khaki shoes, an easygoing color that I liked. The moment I put my hurting foot in one of them, I recalled a poster that I saw in China for babies’ shoes. A pair of baby’s feet in a pair of soft female hands, copy reading,
“Just like mama’s hands.”
The intimacy brought to me as if mama’s hands!
Before and after that, I have tried over 100 pairs of Clarks shoes, of which only one pair, four times the price of this pair, had a comparable feeling.
I decide that my feet do not fit in Caucasian shoes in general, even though I still stop at a Clarks whenever I see one.
Here are some interesting feedbacks that I have got from past consumers of Gravis. Let us see how the Caucasian shoes that appeal particularly to Japanese shoes are commented on by the Caucasian feet here.
Cool, as nobody else uses this brand (what?!);
Lightweight; Good for walking;
Slips on easy (You lazy feet!);
The arch support;
(This is something for everyday use but not something for professional training or gym use.)
The stench: The rubber sole smells bad (Haha, Japanese don’t care?);
Smaller than the marked size; Too narrow, esp. in the front part (Quite a few people mentioned it); “The toe area seems a bit long; yet there's barely enough room in back for the heel to stay on.”
(What a strange foot-shape would love THIS pair of shoes?!)
Can easily look dirty (Yeah. Japanese are extremely clean animals and may not care about this.);
“Very slippery in snowy and slushy conditions.” (Do they have a lot of snow there?)
Lack of ventilation; Too hot (Haha, you stinky Caucasian feet.);
Not for people who are “on their feet a lot.” “Not designed for high performance or high impact but perfect for someone that takes style seriously and doesn't need to run fast very often.”
“More like a sock than a sneaker.” (I FEEL I ALMOST GOT IT!)
“On the inside of the shoe, they have indents for where your toes are supposed to go and lines between your toes… These lines and indents are very annoying...”
Why do Japanese feet like arch supports and lines in the sole?
When I finished a day’s search, I noticed a group of undergrads just walking out of an orientation.
I unconsciously observed their feet.
What a habit!
Have you ever noticed that people actually use unprofessional shoes much much more frequently than professional shoes?
However, the simple fact that too many brands are competing for the limited feet is a daunting enough thing to remember.
Marketing is a strange business in which the answer is out years before the reason can be detected.
Now I really need a pair of Japanese feet to tell me the reason.
It looks like people are very interested in the Frenchman, even more than Taiwan. I am too tired today, though. I will write about them later. But I promise I will.
Girls, no matter pretty or not, usually have quirky encounters with old men. I mean, very old men.
I have been to Victoria and Albert Museum for countless times, when some unknown person I was supposed to meet left me at the “front door of Victoria and Albert” for an hour and a half, there was literally nothing to do to kill time except turning with the revolving door into the museum and out and into it again and out. “Round,” was my original impression of that famous community called South Kensington.
I have been to France only once, but have been to the Louvre twice, within one day. You don’t have to guess. I only remember the toilet. Next time you visit Paris, I would be more than happy to show you the most famous Parisian toilet.
Our tour started from there, right near the glass pyramids, at the beginning of the day. I had the choice of visiting the Louvre or looking around the city, of which I apparently chose the latter, though I never minded using the toilet there.
I like experiencing the life of men in the streets when I visit a new place. As a matter of fact, each and every time that I get familiarized with a place is always underlined by a pair of worn socks.
Paris still hadn’t woken up. The little stalls along the Seine River were getting ready. It was interesting to see a sharp conflict within 10 meters’ scope. Toward Notre-Dame, on the right hand side, there was the peaceful Seine, the faint golden glow of the morning sunshine dying everything with a sentiment of déjà vu. Even the stalls there mainly sold art works and cute post cards. Then within 10 meters, traffic was running like crazy. The roads there supported the only drivers in Europe who would never stop or reduce speed for pedestrians.
Princess Diana died in Paris, within a tunnel that our coach passed once.
It was an extremely sunny day. Even toward the evening, the treeless Place de la Concorde still felt like a piece of bacon on the stove.
I was walking in the Tuileries Gardens near Concorde, my eyes trying to reach as far as possible through my half-closed eyelids between the white shining sky and the white glowing sands. The glass pyramids were right in front. Back to the other side of where I started off in the morning, it looked as if I finished a tour around the globe.
There I heard a “hello.”
Yes, “hello” in English.
I replied, “Bonjour Monsieur,” almost unconsciously.
That was a very old guy. I could not trace back to the last day when he shaved but my guess was before summer arrived.
“China?” Yes, okay.
“Did you visit the Louvre?”
“Of course. Pity I was in a hurry and didn’t spend much time there.” 7 minutes, to be more accurate.
Following was a dialogue in which he tried to explain that one of his friend’s friend’s friend once worked in the Louvre for a while, a process seeming to legitimate his expertise in the palace, while I was smiling as understanding as possible as if I had really understood what the hell he was talking about.
“Sit, would you.”
Even without a please? But ok. I put my huge bag between us and posed a ready-to-go-away position.
He took out a pocket book that was at least as old as his clothes, and quickly got to a page with a newspaper article on it.
French. I don’t understand a word.
But I saw the picture. It was QI Jiguang.
I didn’t know a man as lonely and silly as such would carefully collect newspapers like this… probably for nothing, but probably for something I didn’t know of.
Then he was asking for my name, and told me the French pronunciation. French do not pronounce the “h” there. I was looking at Qi Jiguang.
The sun drew a transparent shadow from the pyramids.
“Where do you live?”
“London. Westminster.” It doesn’t matter. At any rate, I am moving to the US in a couple of days.
In the last minute, he sent out an invitation as his friend’s friend’s friend was then preparing a visit to the Louvre the next day…
“Sorry Monsieur, I really have to go. My friends,” I emphasized the plural form to demonstrate what a large group of friends I had over there, “will come out of the Louvre soon and they should be waiting for me.”
He almost reached out his hand but finally gave up the attempt. Then he asked for a French farewell.
It shouldn’t be much more than an English farewell, I thought. My English landlord and I usually give each other a light hug, with a slight touch of cheeks.
He hugged me, and kissed me on the cheek.
I was about to run.
Then a grab. Who told me old men were feeble?!
The other side of the cheek!
They were huge wet kisses
Have I ever been kissed this HARD before?!
Hoho. This was the sound of his smile. “Chinese don’t usually do so. This is the French style.” He was still smiling.
In the heat of the burning Parisian sunshine, I felt my whole face was ALL covered with watery water.
All my dearest dearest French friends, if I have ever had three or more than three…
Yes, I rushed back to the pyramids after the Parisian kisses, wanting to immerse my face into cold fresh water…
Apparently, the Louvre is always a good place to go even you don't really visit it.
“Daddy, is it a bus?”
“No, sweetheart, it is a coach.”
“Wow! It’s raining out there!”
“Come on, it is merely drizzling.”
“Are you from the US?”
“Well, I am from Puerto Rico.”
“Are you from China?”
“No, I am from Taiwan.”
For some reason, there is an uneasiness rising from the last dialogue.
This is not an article about politics and in particular, this is not really about international politics. So let us put politics away for a while and talk about coach in the English language.
I have never heard of coach since I came to the States. Coach system here is apparently operating differently from back in Britain. Here we have Greyhound, Peter Pan, Chinatown Shuttle… I have even (even?!) heard of something claiming to be “Coach USA.” Commercialized coach lines can easily be mixed up. Hence people simply call the name of the company.
But in Britain, the difference mostly lies in that between transportation tools themselves. We go to Victoria for the white coach called National Express. We use Victoria, King’s Cross, Paddington, Euston… train stations. Then silly red buses run everywhere in the city. To call a coach a bus is a confusion of concepts. How can you jump onto a red bus to expect to climb up to Edinburgh?
I used to talk, at least half seriously and half angrily, to a Taiwanese, would you not use the word China if you want to say you whatever? Do you notice that I never use the word China?
The feedback was, I think it is respectful to call each other by the country’s name.
Actually they just want a country to represent their personality and life style.
It is difficult to understand what islanders are thinking about from a continental perspective. I am from a continent called Mainland and was living on an island, where I totally understood the insular feeling of wanting to keep away from the control of the mainland.
Again, this is merely English. But I like the division of “country” and “nation state,” pretty different in the West, although not so in Chinese. Even on the small island that I was living in, which can be driven across within 20 hours by the snail-like coach, Britons still seriously divide it into three countries. They have their own soccer games, leaders, and even languages. The Scottish people speak an English that I, a person using Halifax for ages, cannot follow well (shame me indeed). Londoners have their own local language that I wouldn’t care to imitate except when I am teasing them. Then comes the proud Welsh.
Again, here is only British. They are also together as a single nation state, making fun of each other as well as appreciating each other, on top of the cultivated common ground that we are similar, just as we are different from others.
All they have is merely different representations of this common ground.
One day, we, the Chinese, as fathers and mothers, need to reply to our children as well:
“Is Taiwan a coach or a bus?”