Day 155 - How to Buy Things in China

Monday, July 11th, 2016
163 AQI

Buying Tape

When living life from behind a language barrier that does it’s best to keep people out of it, even something as simple as buying tape can be a chore. 

Steps to buying some mundane thing:

  1. Consult dictionary and double check with friends that it's the correct word
  2. Practice the word out loud a few times
  3. Practice a sentence
  4. Perform for a live audience
  5. Hope they have absolutely no follow up questions
  6. Say "tīng bù dǒng"

Another problem with a chore like this is that there aren't many centralized stores that you can easily recognize and are ordered in any structured system. There are many, many mom-and-pop stores around, tucked away, but will these places have tape? The ones in the apartment building primarily sell ice cream, food, alcohol, and snacks.

I walked in. “Yo, where’s tape?” (jiāodài zài nǎr?) They bristle. Seems I was interrupting some sort of husband-wife fight, her hands on hips, standing; him sitting, avoiding eye contact with her. “Show him the tape.” She delivers me. I push through the silence, paying, and darting away.

Had a Laugh at this. Pronounced the same as "Trader Joe's"

I decide that it’s a good idea to hit the gym, despite the persistence of cramps, but the ebbing of other symptoms. What can go wrong while exerting yourself to lift heavy objects above your head? The walk has been extended from 12 minutes each way to about 20, I now get a minimum of 40 minutes of walking just to work out. Workout extended.

I totally would have stopped going as much if the habit hadn't already been successfully installed.

Existential Brick to the Face

Something hit me, midway through my workout. A realization.

Impressive, a man splitting a massive log while he stands on it!
Can't possibly top that!
If you’ve ever read “4 Hour Work Week,” the last 1/3 of the book is describing how to handle a life without work. Seriously. It sounds like a dream come true, but “be careful what you wish for.” I’m already feeling listless and without purpose. Nothing is shaping my days, I’m drifting into the old habit of late to bed and late to rise. Without the imposed framework, and unlimited time, my productivity is in the shitter. What am I doing?

As much as we often resent it, work is important. It’s a social outlet, it gives us meaning and purpose in our lives - on top of (hopefully) paying the bills. That last reason is important, and often seen as the most important. But keep in mind that the other two can stop us from killing ourselves. Again, Ol’ Bertrand Russell was correct: 
An eternal vacation is a working definition of hell.
In light of these thoughts, I buckle down and catch up on my work, putting down a weeks worth of backlogged posts.

I was wrong, you can totally top that.
Yes, this is a man with a great mace taking down a flying fighter jet
Mandarin Bedtime Stories

The first of four this week. 

It’s a really satisfying structure for the ends I want to achieve: Start by making conversation, and write down common words that come up in the course of these brief exchanges, getting side tracked in understanding the scope of each word. Continue until page is almost full. Converse using the words you wrote down, and write down example sentences so that you know how to throw them into a sentence properly. Finally, in the last 5 minutes, he reads the words in order while I echo in English. After class, review the words and listen to the recording, optimally while looking at the written words.

Supposedly, listening to something before you fall asleep will help it stick in memory. It's said to rattle around in your brain, and more likely to be encoded. A complementary theory is that we always remember the first and last items on a list. Since there’s nothing coming after these words, they’re more likely to be encoded. No interruptions.

Guess what my nighttime stories now consist of.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
jiāo dài
[jee-ow die}
[oh arr]
yǒu shíhou
[yoh shur hoe]

Editing Music
Piger Med Pistoler

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