How to Meditate

These are just two approaches to meditation, not the end-all be-all. Though there are many out there, I find these works the best for me. Several people had asked me to explain them throughout the years, so I figured I'd just write it all down and put it out there. Without further delay:

Active Meditation

Sit in a comfortable, relaxed position. I choose to sit cross legged with a pillow under my butt so that it’s elevated, allowing for easier, low-maintenance balance. Rest your hands on your knees, arms fully extended, which also helps with balance. It doesn’t much matter how you sit, so long as you’re comfortable and able to focus without falling asleep. If you’re going to use a timer, start it now.

Once you’re in a comfortable position, close your eyes and begin breathing deeply into your stomach first, then into your chest once your stomach is fully expanded. Exhale in reverse order, starting from your chest, and then your stomach. You will continue to breath like this, deeply and slowly, the entire time. Once you have set your rhythm, focus on tensing and relaxing all the muscles in your body, one after the other. Begin with your feet, then your calves, then your quads, etc. Tense one, relax it, then move onto the next. The purpose here is to find and release any tension you may be unknowingly carrying. Pay particular attention to your shoulders and face, which is where a lot of people seem to carry permanent tension.

When Plans Go Wrong

More Windsor Street Art
I remember reading one time that the Ancient Roman's view of chance in life was not to fight it, but to embrace it. If I recall correctly, they saw chance as an overarching feature of life that should be expected, and that we should welcome what comes. Even if I'm misremebering, this seems like the only real approach we can take. To do otherwise is to continue running forward when we clearly see a cliffs edge. Why not veer off to a side and cross the eventual bridge that comes?

Life Is Chance

When you look back at your life, how much of it was pre-planned to end up to this exact point? How long before you had to take the plunge did you have your plans set in stone? Now compare those two answers to the following: how many times have your plans been completely derailed? How many times did something big knock you off one track and onto another, completely unexpected one?

If your life is anything like mine, then you'll probably see that the final questions have a lot more (interesting) stories than the first one. I don't think it's any surprise that things will happen that make it so you have to have to take a last-second turn, or maybe a complete detour. I mean this both literally and metaphorically. 

If we look at driving as a literal example of our metaphorical life, the analogy works quite well. Most of the time, the mundane things will be going smoothly, but occasionally there'll be massive construction, accidents, emergencies, someone will cut you off, or maybe you, yourself, will be struck. Despite this, we learn to cope, we make due, and we become better because of it.

Wrestling with Anger

Printing Press in Winsor

Creatures of Habit

Lately, I've been dealing with a lot of angry people. Sometimes they are angry for good reason, other times it makes such little sense that I can't help but laugh and shake my head.

We all get angry over stupid things from time to time, but it's how we deal the anger that really matters. Some cities are now furnished with so-called "Rage Rooms" where people can let loose and destroy things such as plates, toilets, and other household breakables - for a fee, of course. The ones I read about allowed you to bring items in, such as those from an ex, and smash the living hell out of them with a variety of tools. As the owner of the Toronto Rage Room was quoted:
"Society prevents us from expressing that anger outward most of the time, so this Rage Room is a cathartic relief for participants"

How to Make Lasting Friends

Downtown Detroit
I wanted to begin by addressing the ever-present sentiment on social media that "people are not to be trusted" and that "you find out who your real friends are when things go bad." While the second has some weight to it, I think they are both gross oversimplifications. There may actually be a case revolving around intelligence. Let's take a peek, shall we?

In Opposition of Boredom

My "order number" was a MLP Doll
This was at The Yeti
I'm going to complete a 4-week pattern of saying one thing, then immediately contradicting it the following week. I was listening to an audiobook^ where it described an orator giving a rousing speech on the merits of "Justice" as the highest virtue. He argued his case expertly, apparently arousing strong emotions from the audience in favour of his stance. The next day, he returned to argue that Justice should not be regarded at all - also with equally convincing arguments and skill as the first. If I recall correctly, he was banned from the city, possibly because he was rather dangerous and could "corrupt the citizens". If anyone knows the exact story, I'd love to know who this character was and where I could find his speeches. I don't claim to be anywhere near this skill, but why not try arguing both sides of an idea?

In Favor of Boredom

Uptown Waterloo
These past few weeks are hardly notable. Very little is happening in the day to day, and I'm largely biding my time while waiting for something to give. Most days in the windowless, green, fluorescent lit training room, filled with dissimilar people of varying backgrounds and ages, listening to a quirky half-Japanese fellow talk about Chrysler, customer care, and warranties. No cellphones, no internet. 8 hours a day, 5 consecutive days, 5 weeks.

Sounds boring, right?

That it most definitely is. But this isn't another complaint post. Instead, I'm advocating for the side of boredom. I was in waterloo earlier today, and old habits kick in quick: I was listening to the CBC. A piece on the merits of boredom happened to be playing.

Self-Admonishment, Stoicism, and the Antifragile

The Duke of Wellington
I wasn't sure about putting up the last post, even when writing it. Do I really want to whine online like some teenager? While my current phase is a throwback to that time, I should have better coping skills by now. I've thought about it a lot* and I concluded the following: I was being overly whiny and it's time to stop. Why complain?

I claim to be a stoic, but whining about one's situation clearly isn't part of the philosophy. In fact, it's pretty clear that's exactly the opposite of what a stoic should be doing. Then again, no one is perfect in their execution of an idea; I view it as a stumble, rather than a full collapse.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the philosophical stance, I'll steal the brief summary from my good friend, Steven Rose:
It's all about mental perseverance through the use of rational, emotionally detached methods

Life on Pause

Not too shabby
If you enjoy negative posts, then you, dear reader, are in for a treat!

As you can see, dedicated reader, my last post encompassed one single event instead of the entire week that followed it. Honestly, my life is incredibly boring for you to read and frustrating for me to live right now. If this was it - if this was all I had to look forward to for an indefinite amount of time - I would totally off myself. That's the depressive side that's starting to leak out of containment, which is held in check by anger and stoicism on the other. I haven't been writing, though I have a few opinion/how-to posts that I wanted to flesh out. I am lacking the time and/or motivation. As I've said in the past, when you least want to get down to work can sometimes be the best time to do it. So here I am.

The Big Day

At the Bar, awaiting the guests
Today is the day when I would finally have to give the speech which has been hanging over my head for months now, looming ever since the day they asked me to be best man. I've definitely built it up to more than it should be, but I'm also putting on the pressure to give a great speech that rivals the greatness of my betrothed friends. My sister had reframed it as an opportunity that I am able to be part of such a momentous occasion for people whom I love. Easy to say, difficult to convince yourself fully. But remember: the idea of doing something is usually worse than the actual act itself.

Ciociaro Club Hall
The moment I woke up, anxiety immediately set in and, strangely, the fleeting idea of getting out of it crossed my mind. This is increasingly rare, as now I tend to default to "fight" over "flight." Figuratively, of course. Sometimes I wish the fights we had would be more physical, as they might be easier to confront. Tangible, y'know?

Participation Ribbons: Culture of Entitlement

"You'll all get ribbons, but only three will count!"
I've heard rumblings for years now (YEARS!) of adults pointing to the participation ribbon as the source of what has caused a claimed downfall of my generation onward. This "feel good" culture that has mollycoddled my generation into absolute ruin! It made us want something for nothing!


As if each aging generation before us hasn't looked upon the next one with condemnation. From their high horse of experience, they look down and think "my god, we were never that stupid!"

Bali in Review

Flying from Perth to Bali
This has been kicking around for some time now. I wrote it in Melbourne, a few weeks after going to Bali, though the numbers should be correct based on the records we kept.

Keep in mind that this information is about Bali during their low season. Not only was it low because of the season, but also because there has been an ash cloud from a volcano screwing up both the inbound and outbound flights. This had left a lot of people stranded for over an additional week, and delayed whoever was planning on going. I went this time because it fit my timeline, I figured it would be cheaper, and insurance would help carry the burden of my extended vacation if it came to that. My experience may be different than the norm because prices and bartering leverage will be different due to the scarcity of visitors. Chances are that a lot of the companies, cabbies, and tour guides were thirstier than usual for customers at this time.

Wedding Week

Before everyone arrived at Thanksgiving
Sunday - Thanksgiving and Shae’s gathering
Today is Thanksgiving. Tomorrow is a baking day to work on the recipes for my Matcha recipe book. Since I only give myself one day off a week from eating restrictively, and I try to avoid exceptions as much as possible… so it looks like thanksgiving is all salad and meat.

Waterloo Week

"Phil's Grandsons" the Infamous Waterloo Dive Bar
I'm going to be upfront and honest with this: I haven't really been focusing on writing for the past couple weeks. Not even taking notes, so this is what I recall based on the pictures during that week and walking through the week in y head.

I still hadn't heard back from my school and had followed up with them because I'm getting antsy. The Matcha is on its way, and I had put a fair bit of time into writing a recipe book. There was a wedding the weekend that began this week, giving me a surprise opportunity to hitch a ride to Waterloo with some family friends. Sounds good to me, I'm feeling cooped.

Mandarin - Kicking through Time

An alternative, wordier title is learning how indicate when a verb took place. I would say conjugate, but the verb itself hardly changes. I find using ridiculous examples as more useful for learning, and holding things in memory. For example: wǒ yǒu hó (which all rhymes) means "I have monkey." Now you know those three words. Congrats.*

More O' These
Learning to Kick Through TIME

Let's start with the basics here, shall we?  is the verb "to kick." It's short, it sounds like the hot beverage that Chinese people drink a lot of, and they can collectively kick you to the ground. When talking about time, and general modification of the verb, I'm going to show both time and a little bit of desire/necessity. Let's begin!

Interlude Between Months

Adeline and Steve during Painting Day

Ok, maybe I am getting a bit restless. I finally got out of the house, other than simply biking. I drove somewhere, parked, and went into a building. Williams street cafe is my local favourite, but they had unexpectedly closed early. This leads to me walking down king street, all half-kilometre, to the other cafe, Coffee culture. It’s actually a pretty cool place; formerly a bank, they converted it to a massive cafe with bronze, stamped ceiling tiles.

Introduction to Mandarin

Hello and Welcome to my introductory lesson in learning to speak mandarin. I can't read mandarin whatsoever, but they do have a handy translation for those of us who use the Latin Alphabet - Pinyin. They will write things like 谢谢 as "xiè xie," meaning "Thank you."
These have nothing to do with Mandarin

Let's crack into it!

The pronunciation of each vowel is fairly consistent. Though they use all the same vowels, they are not pronounced the same as in english. Combinations can be especially difficult at times. The best way to learn it is to watch this childrens video on the pronunciation. Ok, maybe it's not the best way, but it will drill it in. Over, and over, and over.

Fourth Week of September

Picture from when I went out Biking
Matcha comin' Atcha'

In my last post, I cut out a major part of my life for the first couple weeks because the writing was getting unwieldy. I’ll expand on that aspect a little. It is working with my Dad at odd jobs as a handyman for family and friends. 

I’ve had jobs before that were similar, such as demolition/renovation for a friend who runs a property management company, and helping friends here and there. But really, I know nothing, but would like to learn more. I just wasn’t sure of what it would be like working with my Dad…

Third Week of September

Aaaand it's time to begin the weekly posts! These will be released every Monday,* and will encapsulate the major events of the past week. They won’t be as detailed, focusing on the broad strokes of what I’ve been up to and thinking about.

The third week of September involved hanging out with 2 people: Primarily Steve, one of my best friends, and once with Emily, one of the few friends I still have in Chatham. Contrasting this with how things were in Australia, it’s a lot more solitary. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, as it’s giving me plenty of time to work on the projects I had been cooking up while in Australia.

Day 159 - The Return

Put them Socks on, Boy
September 13th, 2015

Another early morning; another massive breakfast. Lt. Dan at the helm and his trusty sidekick, Steve, beautifully frying the shit out of the pool of eggs the massive wok. Steve, as anyone who knows him knows, eats a lot of eggs. The 7 of us sat around the table, largely silent, devouring the plates of potatoes, sausages, eggs, and whatever other food we had. I have it written that we at 18 eggs that day, though I’m not sure if that’s true 100% true.

Day 158 - Revelry

Damn, they look good
September 12th, 2015

Up late drinking leads to early mornings! That’s partially tongue-in-cheek, partially based in reality. Have you ever found that the morning after drinking you’ll wake up at 8am, even if that’s not your normal schedule? I’ve read that it has to do with your brain being sugar deprived. Eating a piece of fruit should help you get back to sleep, and help whatever hangover you’re dealing with.

Back on track: Dan and some of the others are 9-5ers, so their internal alarms go off much earlier than those of us with less-than-structured days. I mentally combat the idea of getting up, knowing that it will make the night that much harder to stay awake through. But there’s an ever-weakening band-aid solution which I call coffee! A tolerance break is in order...

Day 157 - 9-11 in 'Murica

On the Road Again
September 11th, 2015

Warning call from Steve and Adeline, his fiancé, that they would be arriving at my place at 10:30am. I was told 11 the night before, and was groggily rolling around in bed. As stated in the last post, I’m trying out the slow carb approach to eating once more. Eggs and lentils for breakfast, how appetizing! I'm not sure how well I can stick to it for this weekend. We shall see.

Day 154 - The Tail End

September 8th, 2015

Standard Canadian Houses
I woke up feeling like a building had collapsed on me. I haven’t worked out for over a month, then did quite a bit of activity and injury yesterday. Does a number on you! Going to bed last night, I hurt a bit, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. 

I pull myself out of bed to find I can’t walk without a significant limp, and definitely can’t run. Any fitness buffs know that sore-leg biz after leg day can be difficult to get around. At least know it’s a good pain. Now it’s just damage pain that will probably linger for a while. So long as it’s temporary, I can deal. Please be temporary.*

Day 153 - Can You Do The Splits?

The cat my parents nursed back to health
September 7th, 2015

It’s 10 o’f***ing clock in the morning and I’m already awake. Just to be clear, I slept around 3am last night and had been up since 4:30am, save for a 1 hour nap. I’ve done night shifts for years. I'm naturally a nighthawk, so I thought this wouldn’t be so bad. In reality, it’s not that bad since I don’t have to be at work or anything, and I’m used to being tired all the time by now. I'm just playing it up, though it is annoying.

I play around on my phone for a bit before realizing that it may be a while until someone else gets up. Leftovers for breakfast! I’m not sure why people have contempt for tepid or cold coffee. Still pretty good, and at least it doesn't scorch your mouth. Tea and coffee are annoying like that.

While waiting for Steve to get up, I edit posts as best I can on their rural internet. The rest of the family wakes up and goes about their day while Steve continues to slumber. His parents ask me to come out on their boat. The Mythical Boat.

Day 152 - A Singer, a Barista, and a Doctor

Sleepless in Waterloo
September 6th, 2015

Having a life in multiple timelines can be a bitch.

I’m woken up at 4:30am because Shimou is being worried by her friends whispering in her ear. It seems like they’re more traditional, and clearly have no idea who I am. They seem to be telling her that a) I’m using her, b) I will disappear without warning,* and c) that I’m a bad guy. "Bad guy" is debatable, but the other two definitely aren’t true. Constantly hearing these ideas about someone who isn’t there… well, that’s hard to defend against.

I talked to her for an hour, calmed her down, and said goodnight. Everything was cool. On her end. On mine, I’m wide awake from the conversation, and my internal clock still thinks it should be daylight. I heard somewhere that it takes 1 day for every hour of time change, which means this places me at about 5 of 12 days.

Reuben, thankfully, pushed back his pickup time by a half hour, which allowed me to get an hour more of sleep. Reuben is funny. Fantastic singer, fitness enthusiast,** tip-top waiter at The Works - all around great guy.

Day 151 - Canadian All-You-Can-Eat Sushi!

September 5th, 2015

Initiate day
Initiating day…
Initiating Sushi…

Yes, today I am getting all-you-can eat sushi with my sister, Lauren, Friend Rochelle, and Ex-Housemate Reuben. Sushi is great, and nowhere is it a better deal than Canada, it seems. I’ve talked to people about all-you-can-eat sushi, and most places don’t seem to have adopted these wonderfully gluttonous fishnets.

Reuben’s orders took priority because he had to be at work about an hour after we began. An hour is not nearly enough to give this task the respect it deserves. We got hand rolls, maki, nigiri, sashimi, teriyaki meats, udon, soups, rice bowls, dessert - too much to try all in one go. If in Canada, do try. Lunch is better because it’s usually around $10 cheaper than the dinner prices.*

Day 150 - That Comedy Show

Super Canada!
September 4th, 2015

Again, despite being incredibly fatigued, I wake up early. While waiting for others to awaken, I chat with Shimou and catch up on what’s been happening in her end of the world. Eventually, Lauren wakes up. We catch a cab to the mall, where she has to work. I feel like getting out of the house, so why not?

Day 149 - Not Done Yet

Random Street art in Downtown Kitchener
September 3rd, 2015

Despite being stupidly tired, I wake up early. My phone still hasn’t registered the time change, and I had set my alarm for 10:30am. It went off at 8:30. I didn’t notice the change until I was already up, dressed, and getting down to work. My first priority is trying to find a way to Waterloo to see my friends there. Only problem is that we only have one functional car between the three of us, and there’d be hell to pay if I tried to take it.

Craigslist! One of the sketchier places on the internet, but maybe I can find a rideshare. Turns out some guy is leaving between 3-5, and might have space. Sweet deal, that’ll only cost $20 to get there, and I’m down with that price. He says he’ll have to let me know because the car is pretty full, but may have room depending on how much they’re bringing with them.

Day 148 - Back to the Fields

This Fella was Waiting for Me at the Duty Free
September 2nd, 2015

Finally, Solid land which will stay that way. I honestly don’t feel like I’ve travelled very far, and it feels somewhat surreal, almost like a dream, to be here again. I’m not actually sure which is the dream and which is reality, though both seem to be real.

I wander through the heat, carrying my overpacked carry-on and my sweater draped over my shoulders. It’s 30C today, which is probably what people will be expecting whenever they ask how the weather was in Australia.*

My parents grab me at luggage after I shambled through the Detroit airport. This is all pretty easy to do now that I’ve run the drill a few times, solo. Hey, fear of flying has definitely been damaged.

Day 147 - Departure

Our Goodbye Coffee
September 1st, 2015

It’s 5am and we’re rolling! I had packed everything the night before, set my clothes aside, and slept in underwear to make the morning as easy as possible. While waiting for the car, I grabbed a random assortment of leftover food from the night before. Like I said, Chinese people don’t seem to like leftovers to the point that they don’t bother putting them in the fridge. I grab some chopsticks and fish out pieces of fish from the soupy leftovers. We’re sharing a coffee when the car arrives.

Apparently you can get a Chinese car to come and pick you up. It’s cheaper than a taxi, and is often just students being impromptu taxis. I guess the Gov doesn’t pay much attention to things written in Chinese, as I don’t think it’s an actual, bonafide business. In this case, it’s only 10 dollars cheaper than a taxi, landing us at an $80 ride with two other random Chinese people.

Day 146 - Last Day in Australia

Flowers along the Sidewalk
August 31st, 2015

Sleeping in is difficult with sunlight in your face. 11am, and I’m up, knowing I won’t be able to sleep much tonight. Lame.

I highly recommend cooking or doing chores while listening to an audiobook you find interesting. Lately I’ve been working through What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars. I make pancakes, coffee, and clean up some dishes from the day before. There's still lots of ice cream taking up space in his freezer - it goes with Belgian waffles, why not pancakes? Can’t be much worse than maple-flavoured high fructose corn syrup. Top it off with some green onion chinese pancake thing that Luke made, and we’re ready to go!

I need to stop at the bank because I realize I haven’t looked into getting my money out of the country. Wire transfer require specific numbers, branches, and all those annoying details. Not sure what route I'm going to take.

Day 145 - Melbourne Day!

"Magnificent, isn't she!?" Luke Exclaimed with Vigor
August 30th, 2015

Today is Melbourne day, and you better goddamn remember it!

...I didn’t realize this was the case until the night before when it was mentioned in passing. Hey, we have no plans, so why not capitalize on the random events that will be taking place.

The Cow Tree Thing
The Docklands market is supposed to be happening, and I wouldn’t mind trying the “Taste of Melbourne” meat pie that they’re selling. The market is a lot of the same vendors from the Queen Victoria Market (day and night), and a lot of them really seem like they’re not having fun. It reminds me of the Chinese proverb “A man who does not smile should not open shop.” Protip: If you have a market stall, don’t look bored out of your skull. That one's for free.

We walk toward a crowd until I realize that everyone is walking in the opposite direction. Whatever main performance that was taking place seems to have finished. 

Day 144 - To The Top!

Flinders St Station
August 29th, 2015

The plan today is for me and Shimou (no Luke) to make it back to Queen Victoria Market during the day before it closes, as we had missed the window yesterday. I’m relatively familiar with the transport and how to get to select places, which gets us there with about an hour and a half to shop around.

Day 143 - Charcuterie and Street Art

August 28th, 2015

Look at that fine Charcuterie
Note the top right sign. Now I dare you to find the Cafe itself.
Yes, it is contained within this picture.***
Last night, Luke said that Roommate Leo would be having people over tonight, and had asked us to clean the living room. I wake up before Shimou (as usual), shower, clean the room, make coffee, and settle in before having to wake her up. It’s my fault she’s still not awake - I tucked her in when I got out of bed. Apparently they don’t do that in China. I had to show her what they were missing.

Day 142 - My Affair with Voltaire

My arm is a selfie-stick
August 27th, 2015

Today the plan is to check out “the nicest brunch restaurant in Melbourne.” This requires us to get up around 11 or so. Really, it requires Shimou to get up then, but if I don’t get up, she won’t get up. Get Vertical!*

We get off at Yarra Station, a rather affluent feeling area of town. It’s a rainy, cold day, but we have umbrellas and it’s only as bad as Canadian fall. The stoic in me reminds myself that any cold is simply uncomfortable, or even beneficial, and not actually causing any lasting damage. Plus, think about how nice it feels to enter a warm location after a little suffering!

Day 141 - Shady Dealings at the Night Market

The View from Up Here
August 26th, 2015

Apparently Shimou’s house has problems without her there to mediate. Maybe it’s low EQ or just a clash of personalities. A fight has broken out between two of the housemates that resulted in one of them breaking every single plate in the house, and repeatedly stabbing a table with a knife. Shimou is the mom/mediator for the group - the one that seems to tie the group together. She’s been gone for a couple weeks and shit has hit the fan.

Day 140 - Botanical Garden

Caffe E Torta
August 25th, 2015

“Tā shì zhēn tā mā dē hēn hǎo” I say to Sunny over her shoulder in reference to her cooking. That’s not proper grammar, I probably should have said “zhe” instead of “tā shì” but the message was clear enough. She thanked me because what I said is very casual, and something you shouldn’t say in front of coworkers, strangers, or relatives. Basically “That is really mother f*cking good!” which Shimou had taught me when I wanted to simply say “The weather is nice.” Now I use it all the time because it’s hilariously over the top.

Day 139 - Tickets in Two Pockets

Two Pockets
August 24th, 2015

It makes more sense to have Shimou shower first because she’ll take at least as long to put on her makeup as I will to shower. The problem with that thinking is that I waste time waiting for her to start, which in turn encourages her to waste time. The general mood is not of movement or getting anything done, but of lollygagging. My fault.

The cafe of today is Two Pockets cafe, spotted across the street from Don Don yesterday. It looked nice from outside, let’s see how it is inside. 

Day 138 - Parliamentary Approval

Legacy Luke
August 23st, 2015

I’ve been slacking. Aside form short-hand notes, I haven't done any writing since the last time at the state library. While attempting to write, I half-listen to the conversation in the kitchen. They usually speak mandarin, but for some reason they’ve started imitating heavy Beijinger accents in English. what-uh ahh yuu coo-king-ah? They each have their own accents, which range in difficulty to understand, though Shimou and Luke both are pretty good.

On our way to the immigration office on Thursday, Shimou and I had taken some wrong turns and ended up walking through a back alley. On that alley was a quaint cafe and an alley full of art. Never would have discovered it if we hadn’t ventured off the main track. Today, we return to revisit that area with Luke.

Day 137 - Party World!

August 22nd, 2015

The plan was oscillating between karaoke and grabbing brunch. Yesterday they changed it to brunch because karaoke wouldn’t work. I skip my morning coffee because I’m expecting brunch at a café. This works in the favour of my vocal chords when I find out that we’ve switched back to Karaoke. Hooray…

Day 136 - So Hot

The Sunset as we walked to the train
August 21st, 2015

With nothing in particular to get up for, the days get pushed back. So long as I can make it into town in time to do official business, everything is simpatico. As I mentioned yesterday, I am supposed to hear from the school about how their luck went with the Chinese government on Friday - Today. I’m feeling a little anxious. Thinking about it won't change anything, so I generally don’t.

We're going out for dinner with all the housemates - our treat. They won’t accept cash as payment for letting us stay. Shimou goes about cooking, chatting in mandarin, while I spend most of the day playing games and listening to informational talks on youtube. Best combo ever. Around an hour before heading out, I get in gear.

Day 135 - Cobble It

This guy is leaving the Library
August 20th, 2015

Well, today its the day that I had planned to leave, and god is chuckling in my general direction. The visa issue is still hanging and the school says they'll be dealing with it tomorrow, then let me know. Just in case, I think I'll head to the immigration office to see how much one of those visa labels for my passport costs. Might as well give the school as much proof as I can get my hands on.

I've said it before: I need too much sleep. Despite usually staying up slightly later, I'm also usually up before Shimou. She makes comments against me staying up later, but has no defense against that fact. Hah!

Day 134 - The French Woman and the Photo

I found this old book. Too bad it's too big/heavy for me to keep.
August 19th, 2015

Bang bang bang “Wake up!”
Ripped from sleep, into the cold, sunlit room, I wonder what the urgency is. Oh right, they're delivering a couch today at 10:30.. are they early? No, they're not. Shimou had turned off the alarm in her sleep, again. I hadn't heard it this time. Close to 11, I jump out of bed to help quickly reorganize the room, and move the futon we had just been sleeping on. That’s one way to kickstart the day.

Day 133 - Puffing Billy!

Puff Away, Billy!
August 18th, 2015

If you can't keep yourself awake, just check your phone and browse messages or updates on your favourite social app. You'll be hard pressed to fall back asleep. I use this technique this morning when Shimou quickly killed the alarm. I shove her out of bed so that we're ready when Elvis arrives to pick us up. He’s supposed to be there at 10:30, but we're lucky that he's 20 minutes late.

Persuasion vs Manipulation

Melbourne's Giant Coin Purse
What is the difference?

Some time ago, I had been trying to find the line between the concepts of Persuasion and Manipulation. This wasn't necessarily because I wanted to justify manipulation, but I did want to be more persuasive. Who wouldn't like to be more capable at getting what they want? This made me consider where the line of acceptability was. The problem, though, is that with some lines of thinking, people will misinterpret. They may assume you want them for unsavory reasons, or maybe just don't know the difference between right and wrong. 

I now see it as a process of moral discovery. The question: “What is the difference between persuasion and manipulation?” Actually think about it, and try to come up with an answer. If someone persuades you to do something, they change your mind to take a different perspective or course of action. Manipulation is… what? To get someone to do so without being aware that they’re being persuaded? To get them to act against their self interest? Or is it simply intent?

Day 132 - Governments and Street Art

August 17th, 2015

I wake up to find my left shoulder blade has a knife stuck in it. Not literally, but the pulled muscle is so bad that it limits my lung capacity and range of motion significantly. This is what you get from sleeping on futons, though who can argue with such good hospitality? I discuss potential outcomes with Shimou based on the problems with China and decide it’s best to resend my request for information to the Aus Gov.

The potential outcomes: