Wednesday, August 30, 2006

School... More School? This is too fun.

No way. Done with memorizing charts and stats and lists..

I'm starting to LOVE where I've decided to spend the next 2 years.

The McRae program is an International Business training program ... Involving extensive networking, language and cultural skills---on top of the all the.. you know.. business stuff (marketing, finance, economics, politics, current events).

This week has been INSANE.... The orientation has been incredibly fun, I met my classmates (about 30 kids ranging from 22-34 yrs old) from all over the WORLD: Brazil, France, USA, China, South America and on and on...)

So far it's been shmoozing, as well as tons of team-building games: incredibly fun! From minute one we were goofing around and getting to know each other--I can tell it's going to be an incredibly tight group :) !

Today was a BLAST. The itinerary said "Personality Testing".... Some people may not buy into any of this stuff, but the results were pretty startling. They put us through a mini-test to find what kind of personality we were (Planners, Analysts, Group Work, Risk Takers) and had us talk about how we think and 'offended' we are by the other groups. ;)... Sounds cheesy, but really, the people who were grouped together had INCREDIBLE rapport considering we only met 2 days ago... we all thought the same way, quite eery. Me? An analyst. Sometimes I take forever to make a decision, and I'm a bit of a perfectionist (ugh, that's sometimes a pain in the ass) but I'm very curious and love to find out about new parts of the world, and new things etc.

Anyway, the other part of the day was taken up by Language Testing and Networking Workshops.

I love learning Chinese so much. It's such a simple, fun language to learn, and despite the fact that I hear it like everyday, I hardly ever speak it. It was cool to 'be forced' to speak Chinese today and actually be able to (ahem) converse with the Mandarin Prof. The other guys in the group are pretty amazing.. a few of them had lived in Taiwan for 4 years so... it's really inspirational to see their level. And yes, they all know about ChinesePod.

On top of all this school stuff which is wild and a little unreal... I have a wedding (gulp, not mine... my brother Ian) to 'worry' about in the next couple weeks. So much drama. I am going to stop working so much to do all the stuff i WANT to do (stag party...stag party...stag party).

Oh. And I'm going to take up golf too. Hawt.

Friday, August 18, 2006

China and N. Korea

Alright, this is something that came up some time last week. I've been busy, but this is actually very big news.

All this stuff we keep hearing about North Korea and China is scary. They share a common thread with Communism. Does that mean that no matter what, China will still back North Korea? That has always been the fear.

Vice Premier Hui Liangyu visited Pyongyang to celebrate a 45-year-old friendship pact with North Korea, and to coax the isolated totalitarian state back to disarmament talks after its July 5 barrage of missile tests alarmed Western capitals.

But China's failure to sway North Korea and its weekend vote for the U.N. resolution condemning the missile tests exposed frustrations behind China's public vows of friendship, and raised the price Chinese President Hu Jintao may pay as he seeks to somehow both comfort and cajole Pyongyang.

In January, North Korea leader Kim Jong-Il made a nine-day visit to China. Hu hosted Kim several times, proudly showing him oversized vegetables at an agriculture institute.

Speaking of cucumbers...

China believes an endangered and resentful fortress state on its doorstep could threaten its security, and waves of refugees from a North Korean collapse could destabilize its northeast.

While few Beijing analysts doubt China must engage its struggling Stalinist neighbor, some are now wondering whether Hu's embrace of Kim may have emboldened Pyongyang.

"It's been very easy to create misunderstandings, because it created the impression that China cannot abandon them," said Shi Yinhong, an international security expert at the People's University of China in Beijing.

"It's been very easy to create misunderstandings, because it created the impression that China cannot abandon them," said Shi Yinhong, an international security expert at the People's University of China in Beijing.

Some officials in Washington had hoped the crisis would drive Beijing to coerce Pyongyang, but Chinese analysts say it has in fact illustrated the diminished leverage China has since bowing to Washington over its financial sanctions on North Korea.

Pyongyang is bitter at Beijing's acceptance of U.S. sanctions on a bank in Macau -- the gambling enclave that is Chinese territory -- after the bank was accused of acting as a conduit for North Korea's criminal earnings, said Shi.

"That's cut Chinese leverage over North Korea," Shi said.

Um, so China getting less crazy, North Korea getting more crazy? D'oh..

The deepening impasse over North Korea may ripple across China's broader international standing.

China's has used its hosting of six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions to burnish its image as a "mature and responsible global actor", said Andrew Scobell, a specialist on China and North Korea at the U.S. Army War College.

South Korea, the United States, Japan and Russia also take part in those discussions, which have stalled since late last year over North Korean objections to the financial sanctions.

"If the six-party talks collapse that would be a major setback," said Scobell, who stressed he was offering his personal views. "The talks have given China a chance to project an image as a global statesman."

China will now be weighing what combination of promises and pressure may induce North Korea to desist from further missile launches and return to talks, said analysts.

South Korea has already announced a suspension of aid, making China's economic lifeline to North Korea all the more crucial.

Trade between North Korea and China reached US$1.58 billion in 2005, an increase of 14 percent on the previous year, according to South Korea's Trade-Investment Promotion Agency.

Beijing may consider a "temporary limited, unpublicized" squeeze on the flow of trade, aid and oil to pressure Pyongyang, said Shi.

But the Chinese Communist leadership's entrenched interest in North Korea's survival mean it will probably reach for rewards, not punishments, to lure Pyongyang back to talks, said analysts.

"North Korea never does anything without demanding something in return," said Scobell. "The Chinese are going to have to pony up something significant to get them back to the table."

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Next Season of 24... The Chinese are back

Alright, so my favorite show on TV (now that the Apprentice is kinda over, and the Sopranos last season was limp) is coming back for season 6, starting in late August.

As we know Jack got abducted by the Chinese at the end of the last season and is on a torture chamber on a Chinese ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Can't wait to see more of Jack. Here's a quote from Sutherland himself,

Kiefer Sutherland revealed Sunday in an interview with a British newspaper that expect the sixth season of "24" to be more an inward journey.

"We've had five years of him saving a large thing. This one's much more about him saving his own ass. He'll go from being the one who hunts people down to the one who's being hunted, so that in itself turns the show around" says Sutherland.

The last season was pretty amazing, partly because of the 'life imitating art' spookiness of the US middle east crisis. Um, thanks Bush?...

Okay, enough of that, since we're on a China+Pop Culture bent, how about the NBA? David Stern recently said he was excited that 1 in 4 NBA players are from countries outside of the US, and China is actually their Number 1 priority these days. Last time I checked 1.2 billion is indeed a big number, but realistically it's still a 'growth' market. The good news is that China is getting special treatment--they'll be getting their NBA games again:

Regular season NBA games could take place in China as early as next year, league commissioner David Stern said on Sunday.

The last time the NBA came to China was in October 2004 when the Houston Rockets, led by local hero Yao Ming, played pre-season games against the Sacramento Kings in Shanghai and Beijing.

"We didn't have the China game in the following year in 2005 because we were having a collective bargain then," Stern told state news agency Xinhua in Guangzhou.

"We don't have it this year because of the preparation of the world championship.

"But we are planning to play some games next year here. It could be pre-season, or even regular season."

David Stern has been doing some wacky things over the years, even muttering something about an International Basketball League, so anything that brings the NBA and China closer together is a good thing.

Okay, so we know all the best NBA players (sorry Kobe) come from dire circumstances--is China the new ghetto hotspot for NBA talent?

Why not ask this guy?

Apologies for the cheesy music.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sunday Morning Muse

This is what I was thinking about when I woke up this morning. Groggy from a noisy, blurry Saturday night.. I can scarcely get a grip on what I'm thinking about, so I'm writing it down.

Is there ANYTHING about you that you'd like to change? You're too skinny/fat/shy/obnoxious.. maybe you've been trying to start something, learn a hobby/skill, become a better friend or a better boyfriend/girlfriend.

The point is, if there's ANYTHING about yourself you've written off as a personality flaw, etc, you can change it. You can be ANYONE you want.

And if you think about it, it's great that we all have flaws. We are all endowed with flaws at birth, character flaws or physical limitations, this is a CHALLENGE, and thank goodness we all have challenges or life would be BORING.

Imagine a movie with no conflict. Yeah. That boring.

So what do most people do?

They look at successful people and copy the EFFECTS OF SUCCESS.

Interesting, they see someone like a famous actor or high paid executive and try to be him by copying the things AROUND him. It's a big lie, like, "If I can dress like him and look like him and drive the same car, and get a hot girlfriend, EVERYONE WILL CONFUSE THE TWO OF US"

The problem is that YOU'LL know the difference. And you'll be empty. And the other guy will still be excited to get up every morning and do what he does, be it acting, his business, or his political agenda or whatever.

But there IS value in imitation. So now I'm a hypocrite. ;)

In my mind, it's pretty great that "successful" people are highly visible. It's like a public good. As soon as a celebrity hits the 'big time' they are in books, magazines, and on TV. You have the internet at your fingertips right now and can search for ANYONE in the world who is 'famous.'

From now on, these people are going to be our models for a successful 'career.' We're going to imitate them like crazy. For other things in your life, you can model as well and INTEGRATE certain behaviour into your life. So if it isnt the stuff AROUND them, what are these people doing that you're not.

Making different decisions. Sorry if that sounds like a non-answer, but that's it. Getting the clothes or the car will NOT work, that's the EASY PART. You have to start making DECISIONS like a successful man/woman/actor/journalist.

What do most people do? They try to come up with a logical reason for every move they make, analysing their problem to death and trying to come with with the 'solution.' They call it 'soul searching.'

This brings me to the next step.

Stop thinking. Stop Soul Searching. Stop waiting for a day when being healthy/charming/diligent will make sense. It will make sense after you've done it. That's why you have to force yourself to do it.

There's probably ONE part of your mind that isn't doing you any good. The cliché would be a doorman at a hotel. The friendliest guy in the world. Very nice and talkative, good looking guy, but just can't figure out how to take his doorman job and go UP the ladder. There is no ladder. How can he expand his circle of influence and see career growth?

Just like you, that doorman has what I like to call a 'mad scientist' in his head. We all have it. A mad scientist in our head in charge of SOME aspect of our lives. He's very good at coming up with graphs, tables, logical formulae. But he's C-R-A-Z-Y ! You should not listen to a word he says. He's not gonna build a time machine, crack cold fusion or discover the elixir to eternal life. And he's NOT going to help you lose weight/get a raise/meet new friends. He's not. He's crazy. He hasn't been out of the house in YEARS. You shouldn't listen to a damn thing he says.

So combining these two ideas we have a model for HUGE success:

1.Successful people tend to be highly visible. This is a library for success. Pick anyone on earth, find their biographies. You can model them by copying their ACTIONS. Don't bother trying to think like them yet, you're not there yet.

2.Block out the logical part of your brain that has been trying to solve this problem for 10 years. Haven't you given the mad scientist enough time to prove himself/herself?? The mad scientist is crazy, and should be ignored. It'll be tough at first, but over time, you won't hear him/her.

Lastly, to vanquish any further doubts (ahem, mad scientist?)remember that NONE of the important things are UNSOLVABLE. The real challenge in your life is THIS. Whatever it is, you're probably confronted with it on a daily basis. You've probably thought it's 'not fair' that you've got this one thing that no one else has to deal with.

Be thankful that you have a challenge, your movie has a conflict. You should be ecstatic! But when you solve this problem, you will run into another problem, and after that there will be another problem.


The point is not to have 'zero problems' but to have better problems (credit Tony Robbins)...

Imagine the day when you're getting home from work, your loving family is at a restaurant and they call you to tell where they are. As you're talking on the phone in the car, you're a little distracted and hit the car in front of you. Nothing serious, but you are going to have to pay it out. These are the moments when you're going to be angry IN THE MOMENT and think to yourself "Why me!? Why does this stuff happen to me?"


In moments like this, the mind blocks out the past, the future and childishly and selfishly focuses on the moment. You're on the way to share a dinner with your family that loves you. That's a pretty nice problem to have. The hundred bucks you're paying out for the car would NOT have made you happier, so you really have nothing to be mad about. Allow yourself to be happy.

You will never be free of problems as you grow more and more, but THATS A GOOD THING. Or else you would have a boring movie.


Long post. Phew.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Booming in China, but out of control?

Tsk tsk tsk.. I find it hard to believe something so big and slow is all of a sudden 'out of control'

But apparently it is.

The Chinese Economy is doing very well, remember Taiwan was at 10% growth for about 40 straight years. I don't think China at 8% is that scary (ahem, though the country is about 30 times bigger by population.. not usually a great sign for GDP/capita)

Because I'm not living there, I can root for all the really great things that are happening there:

The Olympics in 2008 mean TONS of construction, and all the new infrastructure is investment based largely on that.

In Beijing, an airport terminal under construction will be bigger than all five terminals at London's Heathrow Airport combined. The capital will also add an estimated one billion square feet of high-end property by 2008, according to Jack Rodman, a partner at Ernst & Young in Beijing.

Cool. But let's not forget, China has been hauling ass to catch up to Hong Kong. Which means new laws bringing them closer to the, eh, 20th century. They're still stuck in A Tale of Two Cities, in terms of their working conditions, but be patient. It's called gradualism.

And what has the US been saying all this time? The US is sick of how.. er.. competitive CHina is, and would love it if their yuan was more expensive.

In other words, "please let the Yuan float because it will hurt you" Which China can now do. Yay!

Does it sound like they're freefalling in an Economic boom?

China has tried a variety of tactics to rein in the economy. Under pressure from the US, officials a year ago loosened the yuan's peg to the US dollar, and the Chinese currency has since appreciated about 3.8 per cent. The People's Bank of China has raised both interest rates and reserve requirements for banks, and last month ordered regional branches to halt "blind expansion and building of redundant, low value-added industries".

They call it gradualism.

At least they're not taking 'advice' from their competitors.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Paradox of Mastery

Busy busy busy....

Last couple weeks up at SFU, and I gotta tell ya, it's getting slack. I've got a few presentations to do (old hat by now) and about 500 pages to read, most of which I'll fake my way through anyway.

The other day I was in the library, killing t-- er, reading up my schoolwork, when a thought occurred to me.

As I watched herds of stressed out students cram for Finals, or finish some online chemistry assignments, I thought what was really motivating me (clearly, it was a case of lacking motivation ;) )..

Most students do the University thing for money. I'm so thankful that I actually do get jacked up talking about international relations and economics, and I don't doubt that every Chemistry student or Humanities nut out there will say the same thing.

But ripping our hair out to be 95% kids in some subject....? Now, if we could use Chemistry to come up with some useful new drugs, yeah, that's incredible, and the Humanities guys are salivating at the thought of travelling the world doing excavations (I won't lie... I'm thinking Indiana Jones right now...I took a couple HUM courses.. very very cool stuff).

Are there other things we freak out about, but don't really do us any good?

I thought about our obsession with Mastery, more specifically. When I think about playing a sport, or playing music, I think about Mastery. Weird huh? When you take a course, you probably think about passing, but there are A LOT of kids that think about MASTERING a particular subject.

How about being the best Doctor, ...not just the best doctor you can be, but the best doctor THERE IS?

We think about perfection when we go to the gym... when we check ourselves in the mirror... when we check our bank accounts... After all, anything less than 'perfection' is a flaw...

So what IS the Paradox?

Trying to master something that inheretly doesn't bring you satisfaction... and when you DON'T get satisfied, your response is to just try harder.

Wow. Sweet. Vicious Cycle.

Imagine you work in a lumber yard. I did this one summer, carrying lumber all day... At first I was clumsy, but I made a game of it, getting better at carrying the wood in bigger bundles, getting good a wrapping the whole thing (some tarps that went over the wood) and stapling the tarps, faster and faster... so that it was like a race, who could get their bundle done fastest.

That's the only way to motivate yourself in a job like that---- the male ego. At some point, you don't make any mistakes.. but something has to give, because it's not a satisfying job... you can either get BETTER and hope that THAT will put a smile on your face, or change directions...

What ultimately brought me satisfaction was the people I worked with, matering the job was like a hobby, a distraction.

My point is not that there are things out there that you shouldn't stress out about, but hey, there are things out there, that get ADDICTIVE because they are inherenty UNSATISFYING... It's hilarious how popular these things are..(duh, they're addictive... smoking, drugs,gambling, crappy movies, video games, shopping addictively, chasing fame, popularity, getting a great looking body, getting someone to like you, a great looking bank account... it's like a sugar rush)

Do you have anything like this in your life...? Is it time you decide what actually makes you happy, and establish some RULES for handling all these distractions?

I have to be VERY CAREFUL when I look at my own life, and say, "Okay, besides the money and power thing, where am I going" because if it's something shallow like that, I know it'll lead to ruin..... Fame, Money, Power, these are EFFECTS of being thrilled/ecstatic NOT CAUSES.

I'd love to hear back from some of you guys, we'll see how this things holds up, and I'll let you know what happens with

Have a great Sunday!