Category Archives: Happiness

Keep Doing, and Its Meaning

I believe keep doing, doing and doing for some meaningful thing is important. I don’t think anyone would argue about this. However, what is meaningful will bring a lot of argument.

Why You Blog?

In a Kijiji event in Shanghai University tonight, students asked why I kept blogging for more than three years. “What makes you keep doing that?”

I think it is a great question to ask me, or ask anyone who kept doing.

Does Consistency Helps

Many people started blog but quit after three weeks. Someone decided to recite all the words in an English directory, but quit when they encounter “B”. More people make up minds to start running, but stop after five morning exercise.

People believe the reason they cannot keep doing something is due to lack of consistency – consistency means the firmness a of people’s mind.

I don’t think so. I don’t think I am a person of consistency, and have the ability to do anything longer than a week. It has nothing to do with consistency.

It must be Meaningful

I believe you have to find out a reason to do something. As long as the reason is still valid, and you can feel it is valid, you keep doing. If you don’t think it is still meaningful, you may quit. I do.

Most Confusion Time

For this blog, it has millions of page views every month. If you know more than one thousands people are waiting to see your article today, do you see the value of keep blogging today? Maybe you do. I do.

However, when there is no one visiting your site, do you still think it is meaningful to do that?

Back to the end of 2002, I was confused sometime. At that time, the server is still in my reading room in my home (the reason I didn’t remove the home part from my blog URL http://home.wangjianshuo.com). When I blog everyday, and see the access log, there are only 20 to 100 page view that day. At the first month, out of excitement of trying new stuff, you may want to keep the server up everyday. However, after the excitement went away, I start to think, does it make sense to keep the server up 24 hours day, consuming electricity and making big noises in my home?

That is the hardest time in my 3 years of blogging. I can keep doing something for a long period of time, as long as I still believe it is meaningful. In my blogging case, what is the meaning to still keep blogging once everyday?

Finally, I thought of the reason – to keep accumulating my thoughts on daily bases. It may be a big boook one day.

As soon as I realize to have visitors or not is not the meaning of my blogging, I feel happier. Only after I realized to write for myself, instead of for visitors, and page view is more meaningful to me, I found the reason to keep blogging. So I kept doing that.

In the last three years, I always keep the belief, that at first, I write for myself, to accumulate my life experience. Secondly, if it can help someone out there (maybe after one year or two), that is better. As long as these two points still make sense for me, I will keep blog. If one day, I found it is not meaningful for me to blog, I will also quit (hope there is always reasons to keep blogging).

Why People Quit

Some people start out of curiosity, and don’t find any reason why he/she start to blog. Well. Good. Just quit. Good for him/her.

Some people admire others’ high page view and blog for page view. They quote all interesting articles others wrote, and think hard about what attracts users most. If they can keep doing that, it is good. But the problem is, it is too long for them to see the result. For me, it takes two – three years. If there is no other reason to keep doing that, they will quit. They quit not because they are lack of consistency, they quit because they didn’t feel any sense of connection between what they are doing (blogging) and what they think is meaningful (page view).

It is the same for running. If someone just enjoys running very much, they keep doing that. If someone hate running, but only do that to improve health, they quit because they cannot observe the difference after running for three days, and start to doubt whether it is meaningful to run. The same as reciting a directory (which I never think meaningful as a way to learn English).

Passion for Contribution, and Confident for Return

The other day, I read an article about Contribution and Return. The article said: visionary, and successful people in history are so passionate about their contribution, meanwhile be confident for the return they can get. The unsuccessful people are doing the other way. They care too much about return (in terms of $$$), and have no interest in contribution. Just like a good writer only cares about writing good article (contribution), while don’t want to pay attention to manuscript fee. Bad writers only cares about how much they can make, and don’t care about how good he/she writes. That is the difference between good writers (who becomes better and better) and bad writers.

So Bill Gates do care about its contribution, so does Edison, the two founds of Google, and lots of successful business owners. They do care about what they can do to help. Although they are confident about return, they don’t do business just for the return. (Of cause, things changes after a company goes public).

If the reason to do something is to contribute, and you are satisfied with your contribution, you can keep doing that.

If the reason to keep doing something is to get return, chances are, you cannot get return as you expected, and you stop.

That is my thoughts about reason to keep doing something or stop.

We Filled Our Lives But Lost Our Souls

Wendy wrote an article named We Filled Our Lives, But Lost Our Souls (Chinese) and posted it on her blog. It is very real comment from a normal person in Shanghai. The original version was very well written. Let me try to translate part of them.

These are among our frequent topics: I went to English, and you visited Europe, and he went to America; your house is at Lian Hua Metro Station, and mine is at Pudong, and he has several villa; The Peace Masion on Fen Yang Road is not bad, and Ying Qi on Ju Lu Road has great taste, and the Rose Garden is Pudong is OK; We care about taste, and we care about sentiment; we care about thoughts; We will have afternoon teas, and we will enjoy German black beer…

We filled our lives, but we lost our souls.

We do not insist any more, and we are not paranoia any longer. We start to say “Yes” to everything. The uncertainty of future and pressure of life forced people to put benifit and stability the first place before any decision….

I know Wendy is a good thinker and this piece is very well written. No matter people think it or not, it is a very common situation for people’s life in Shanghai. Shanghai is becoming more and more internationalized, but the life is much more harder. It is not easy to survive in Shanghai, since “we have to fill our lives”.

More interestingly, one of the email Wendy got is another great piece on the meaning of lives:

Dear Wendy,

I saw your latest blog entry “we filled our lives, but lost our souls.” You

sounded a bit down and I just wanted to share a few of my thoughts. We’ve

only met once, but for some reason, I felt a special connection to you. I

also really admire the brutal honesty in your blog. I hope I’m not being

too blunt or personal in my writing:

First off, lemme just say it’s damn hard to keep one’s soul in contemporary

China. Everytime I went back to Shanghai, it felt very different to me. In

recent years, increasingly, I felt an overwhelming sense of materialism.

Adding to that is tremendous peer pressure and the need to ‘keep up with the

Jonese.’ What others have I have to have it, too. What others do I have

to do it better. That’s painful. By going with the flow we essentially

give up our own choices, ideals, and individuality. Or, in other words, our

souls.

But how can you not go with the flow? If the entire society is crazed about

making money and buying houses, how do you dare to be different? What about

parental expectations? They’ve had a hard life raising us. What about our

children? We can’t have them lose out from the start. Life is a race and

you simply cannot afford to stop.

Stop to think, what do I really want from this life? Do I really have to be

in that race? I think a lot of times we don’t give ourselves enough credit.

We don’t give ourselves enough space and freedom to explore, to make

mistakes, and to find out who we really are. All of our lives we’ve been

told who we should be and what we should do by our parents, teachers,

friends, society, or by a self that has internalized the values of all

those. We are defined by our roles as daughters, wives, mothers, employees

and citizens. But we are more than that. Each and everyone of us is

unique. We each have our own talents, passions and beliefs — We may have

yet to discover them, but they are there. Life is a privilege. Don’t rush

through it without knowing what you’re doing.

I try to tell myself, I came to this world for a purpose, and that purpose

is more than to have a job, get married, buy a house, make babies and

retire. I’m going to find out what that purpose is. I know this probably

sounds extremely naive, and I often have doubts about it. Sometimes I feel

like I’m not a good enough daughter. Sometimes I feel like my peers think

I’m crazy and a failure. Sometimes I’m gripped with this fear that I’m

going to end up old and homeless, not having had a job ever long enough to

build a career. :) But I think I’d rather live with the fear and guilt than

the nagging, perennial question: why am I here?

Partly that’s why I hide in San Francisco. In Shanghai reality is presented

in a much harsher, right-in-your-face kind of way than in SF. Here people

could care less about what you do with your life. Sometimes I try to

picture what I would be doing today if I stayed in China. And all I could

think of is a stifling cube in an office building somewhere in Beijing or

Shanghai. I don’t think I would’ve had the courage to do anything

different. I have a lot of respect for the independent spirits in China

today, simply because it’s just so much harder there to stay true to

oneself.

I can’t believe I wrote so much. It feels like I was writing as much for

you as it is for myself. And one final note for all of us

soul-searchers–have a sense of humor. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Having a sense of humor makes one more open to new experiences and makes it

easier to stand up again after you fail. Allow yourself to explore, allow

yourself to fail, allow yourself to be confused, because it is from failures

we learn and confusion forces us to think. Most importantly, soul-searchers

or not, we’ll still eat, crap, and sleep everyday. :) We’ll still laugh and

cry. We’ll still have all the bills to pay and bosses to please. In some

ways I think soul-searching is more of an attitude toward life than concrete

actions. What’s the difference between the soul-searchers and

non-soul-searchers then? Well, not much, except we set ourselves free, from

inside out.

I don’t know if any of this makes you feel better. It’s just a topic I

struggle with a lot myself, so thought I’d share some of my own thoughts.

If any of it is offensive, I apologize! I hope that, other than your

sometimes elluding soul, all is well on the other side of the Pacific. :)

Credit goes to the original author

This piece is so nice.

Ability to Make Impact is the Cause of Pressue

Talked with a nice taxi driver again today. Recently, it seems the only window I have interaction with this city is taxi driver. :-) Wendy drive me to Metro and I take ride of the Metro to People’s Square – I saw a lot of people – really a LOT in rush hours, but there is no interaction. Everyone is busy with their own goal, and there is only a destination in their mind, all the advertisement, people around them are just moving object (maybe gray boxes) for them, and does not mean anything to them. It is the same for people around them. The Metro runs at 3 minutes interval. Within the 3 minutes, the platform will be full of people quickly.

Daily life in Shanghai gives people pressure – you can feel it in the eyes of the people in Metro and the fast pace of people. When I was in Lijiang, I remember when the bus we took entered a gas station, the bus driver went away from the bus and chatted with the other bus driver for quite some time – since the bus was filled anyway, and no one complained about their absence from the bus – they just cannot make any impact when the bus was parked there, with workers filled in the gas. I thought the scene is very interesting because if the driver stopped in the middle way on our road, we can not imagine our driver get off the bus and chat – because when he is driving, the time we need to get to the destination all depends on how fast the driver drivers. Whether he seats in the bus or not makes big difference. So the driver has the pressure.

This example shows that when the bus was filled with gas, the driver cannot make much impact, he does not feel the pressure. When what he does makes big impact, especially impacting the full bus of people, he feels the pressure and don’t have time for free chat.

In Shanghai as a city, it also works.

When I visited a place (during my trip of the 30N 119E confluence project), I found a small town. People there lead very peaceful life. The are connected to the outside world only by two buses – one leaves around 11:00 AM and one around 1:00 PM. When they wait for bus, they can easily wait there for about one hour, having nothing to do. When they realize no matter how fast their paces are, there are still only two schedule of the bus, so their change does not make impact, and they don’t feel the pressure.

In Shanghai, it is different. If you walk a little bit faster, may be just save 3 seconds, you may be able to catch a previous Metro train. If you save one second, you may be able to reach out to the button of the elevator before the door fully closes. Most largely, if I sleep half an hour later, maybe I can impact a lot of users national wide, then I may choose to sleep another half an hour later. The feeling that if I do something, and I can make impact, people tend to do that. By continuously doing that, we creat pressure for ourselves.

Sometimes to read book in a hotel room, especially when there is no laptop is the best time for me – at this time, there is not too much to do, and the pressure, just disappears. It works like a charm.

P.S http://bbs.wangjianshuo.com seems to be experiencing problems – well, to be more exactly, was hacked. I wasn’t be able to take care of the site for quite some time, and sorry for the inconvinience. I may try to roll back to a previous version (by paying ipowerweb.com), but I don’t know when I can find time to do it – may be after one week. For the Wiki, there are also a lot of spams. //Sign. To start something is easy, to maintain it is not. How about just let it be for sometime and I promise to find some time to fix it.

Pressure is About Expectation

Wendy just arrived in Shanghai from her wonderful U.S. trip, but immediately after she set foot on the soil of Shanghai, there are many things waiting for her to do. Despite of the extremely hot weather (39°C), the to-do-list is hotter.

50 hours after her arrival, we still didn’t find time to check out the photo she took in Seattle. Wendy complained why there are so many stuff to do in Shanghai.

It seems to me that the pressure we got from this city is all about expectation – people’s expectation and ourselves.

My friends just got married. They planned to postpone their honeymoon. They said, it is the same to have it immediately or take it later. My suggestion is “No”. During honeymoon, the best thing is, NO people expect you to work, to reply to emails, or to turn on mobile phone… When people don’t have the expectation, your life is much easier.

Wendy came back and jumped into the center of expectations.

Dislike Doing or Starting to Do

This is to continue the discussion about Enjoy Doing or Being Able to Do. It inspired me to think about the negative statement of the same sentence: when we don’t want to do something, do we actually dislike doing something or dislike starting doing something?

I hate to go to bed at night. I have hundreds of reasons to keep awake and doing a lot of things – most them are done online with a computer. But I hate getting up in the morning worse. Later, I understood it was the action of going to bed I dislike, instead of sleeping itself.

It is the same for bath and swim. I enjoy bathing and swimming, but I dislike the moment to go into a bath room or I enter the swimming pool – it is especially true in cold winter. So I tend to delay it as much as possible.

Similarly, I just find out after living in Shanghai to ten years, I still cannot speak Shanghainese. Do I really dislike learning Shanghainese? I don’t think so. To learn a language is interesting, especially when you are in the environment that people around you speak it everyday. My previous excuse was, I don’t need to learn it. I can live very well without being able to speak Shanghainese. I tried to make me believe it. The reason is, I don’t want to get started. Is it a sign of my initial resistant to the culture of Shanghai? Maybe.

Foreigners also fall into two category: Some of them learnt Chinese quickly within half a year. Some even master Shanghainese which surprises every local residents. We call them Zhong Guo Tong (China Master). The others completely have no idea about Chinese. Some even stayed for three or four years without learning Chinese. In my article on Is English Skills That Important, some reader asked why foreigners refuse to learn Chinese and all people (sometimes all of them are local residents) have to use English if only one person who can not understand Chinese is there? I didn’t see the commenter tend to offense anyone, just a discussion about “starting to learn Chinese.” I guess there is also a cultural resistant that prevent people from START learning a language, instead of learning the language itself.

Recently, I started to learn Shanghainese. I even learnt some Cantonese – I learnt to pronounce Hua (Flower) as Fa in Cantonese. It turned out that if we have started doing something we don’t like, it may become very interesting and rewarding afterward.

Enjoy Doing or Being Able to Do

I focus on philosophy for life more than real/practical information on Shanghai. Don’t worry. I will be back to the topic people rely on to survive in this city soon.

I found many circumstances that people, sometimes including me, cannot distinguish enjoying doing something or enjoying being able to do something. What is the difference?

We spent a lot to buy an apartment in Xujiahui that is near Ever Bright Exhibition Center. There was very good sports facility there. In the two years, we never played badminton or swing there. We paid for “being able to exercise at anytime”. After that, we thought we have reached our goal.

I have a good friend who decided to buy expensive and nice sport shoes, so he can jog. I asked “Do you enjoy jogging or enjoy being able to jog?”

We live in Shanghai. People are pride to announce: “We are in Shanghai. We have the best fashion show, the best ballet, the best film, the best museum, the best bar…” in Shanghai. Whatever people claim, we seldom enter a museum or theatre. It seems people enjoy being able to go to a museum better than really going there.

How many purchase started with the desire of being able to do something instead of doing something. It is not rare to find out visitors to a city know the city better than local. Ask native resident about the Oriental Pearl, or Shanghai Museum – the majority of them never tried that. “They are all for visitors”. It is the same that people in New York may not experience the sky deck of the Empire State Tower, and people in Seattle may not visit the Space Needle.

I am not saying enjoying doing something is always more important than being able to do something. I just started to distinguish these two feeling so I won’t buy something because I enjoy being able to do something. I used a sentence like a tough-twister.

Shanghai Tour for Shanghainese

I was thinking about the idea of Shanghai tour for Shanghainese. We are in this city and we enjoy being able to going to any place in this city without worrying about time limitation. The result is, we never go there. There are great places in Shanghai, just like the Best Afternoon in Shanghai that only people in Shanghai can enjoy with grace pace. Start to tour the city as a visitor, plan one day or two days off (a weekend is perfect) and wake up with the excitement of a traveler, even spend a night at a local hotel. The same city will be different that day.

I have to quote Alain de Botton’s paragraph in the Art of Travel. It make a lot sense:

What, then, is a traveling mind-set? Receptivity might be said to be its chief characteristic. Receptive, we approach new places with humility. We carry with us no rigid ideas about what is or is not interesting. We irritate locals because we stand in traffic islands and narrow streets and admire what they take to be unremarkable small details. We risk getting run over because we are intrigued by the roof of a government building or an inscription on a wall. We find a supermarket or a hairdresser’s shop unusually fascinating. We dwell at length on the layout of a menu or the clothes of the presenters on the evening news. We are alive to the layers of history beneath the present and take notes and photographs

Home, by contrast, finds us more settled in our expectations. We fell assured that we have discovered everything interesting about our neighborhood, primarily by virtue of our having lived there a long time. It seems inconceivable that there could be anything new to find in a place where we have been living for a decade or more. We have become habituated and therefore blind to it.

How smart is Alain de Botton.

P.S Bonus Pack: What about the Living Cost in Shanghai

What is the living cost in Shanghai? It still remains the top questions I got from email. Let me give you an example of living cost. de Botton’s article reminded me of hairdresser. If you want your hair cut, I have the following three places for you to pick:

A) Hairdresser downstairs. We have someone like this. They charge for 5 RMB per time for man’s hair. But the appearance of the room and the equipment is simple enough to drive away all picky customers. Their customers are mainly those local residents.

B) Hairdresser chain store like “Wen Feng” – a famous brand you can find around the city. They charge 20 RMB for man’s haircut. They are pretty professional and have the largest customer base.

C) Professional hairdresser (with foreign or Hong Kong investment background). They are in big department stores and they charge 150 RMB to 300 RMB per hair cut. My friend Kevin had his first haircut in Shanghai at 240 RMB (17 pounds) at Three on the Bund.

Before you ask me about living cost in Shanghai, tell me the answer to the question: Which kind of lifestyle do you lead, A, B, or C?

What does Happiness Depend on

Thanks for everyone who posted comments to my entry Helping by Hiring. There are 38 very high quality comments in the discussion about the social welfare system in China. I am very happy that my article draws some attention to Ayi who badly needs help. I will continue to monitor and see if there is opportunity I can help. I am working on a website to help people to hire an Ayi so to create more opportunities for them.

At the same time, I am thinking about the question: “Are we happier than them?” We refers to the circle I am in – my colleagues and my friends who have university degrees and earn well. Them means people who have very low income, like Ayi.

The answer is obvious. But sometimes, it may not be the only answer. My question can be paraphrased as “Will money and education bring happiness after the basic living is covered?”

Shanghai is the Second Unhappiest City in China

As the report figured out, people in Shanghai generally are not happy. It is very true.

Over-Time

Over-time working is common in IT and Media (advertisement) industry, and not rare in other industry as well. Get up early, go to work, go back home after 11:00 PM or even 1:00 AM, sleep, and go to work… The most interesting part is that, when we gather, people like to show off of how late they work. It is a symbol of exciting life and a sense of achievement.

To survive in Shanghai is not easy. Wait a minute. A sentence painted on the wall of the transition hub of the World Trade Center site in New York just jump out of my head: Man who can survive in New York can survive anywhere in the world. Didn’t we sense more pride instead of sadness in this sentence? It is the same in Shanghai.

Compeition and Education

Students on campus are preparing for TOFEL, GRE, TOIEC.

My friends in a team are working hard to pass MCSE, MCSD and all kinds of certificates.

People who already worked for some years study to pass PMP, ITLE. People get one certificate after the other and still keep asking: “Is there any other hot certificate I can pass?”

For senior managers, they have started their MBA or EMBA courses. It is hot in Shanghai. The 290,000 RMB annual tuition for Fudan EMBA does not stop people joining the program.

No one in this city can escape from the competition. Taxi drivers, for example, are learning English on the day off – remember that they have worked 24 hours continuously and still need to spend several hour to learn English on the 24 hours of break.

Well. Certificate is something you can “shine in the eyes of strangers” (as Wordsworth put it). Strangers certainly include future employers.

Sports? Friends?

I feel very happy and relaxed after Wendy and I just get back from badminton court. We drove 15 minutes to Lujiazui for it. It reminded me that when we lived in Puxi, the badminton court, the swimming pool and all kinds of sport facility were just on the other side of the road – I can even see people playing tennis from my window, we didn’t went there during our two years for sports – I was in the circle to work harder and get more certificate at that time.

In large city like Shanghai, friends are far away. I miss the time in smaller city – my friends live next building with me. There are many friends in the same area. Even the whole city is not far. Now, when I want to visit a friend, he is on the other side of the city and it costs at least 1 hour’s drive. I am not happy about it.

A Family of Life-destroying Emotions in City

Alain de Botton commented about the city life in his the Art of Travel:

The poet (Wordsworth) accused cities of fostering a family of life-destroying emotions: anxiety about our position in the social hierarchy, envy at the success of others, pride and desire to shine in the eyes of strangers. City dwellers had no perspective, he alleged, they were in thrall to what was spoken of in the street or at the dinner table. However well provided for, they had a relentless desire for new things, which they did not genuinely lack and on which their happiness did not depend. Andy in this crowded, anxious sphere, it seems harder than it did on an isolated homestead to begin sincere relationship with others.

It is admirably to the point. We change mobile everyday, we buy many goods that poor people cannot buy, but it has nothing to do with our happiness. As de Botton or Wordsworth put it, our happiness did not depend on those fancy stuff.

Everyone is seeking for something he/she doesn’t actually need to be happy. To rank higher in the hierarchy may not bring more happiness than a shine afternoon tea with friends.

Is This London Undergrand?

Microsoft launched series of “Realize Your Potential” print advertisements to communicate about its mission “Enable people and business to realize their full potential”. Among them, the ad named HAT got Eric‘s attention when we talked about Subways in New York. “Which subway station was the picture taken?” He asked.

screen-ulas-reaize.jpg

© Microsoft Corporation. Src

I didn’t know the answer before a picture on the Shanghai Weekly came into my sight. It was a report on the city of London with some pictures and a subtitle – “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” – Samuel Johnson. The picture shows another underground station in London. It seems very similar with the one shown on the Ad.

From the Ad, I can only tell ULAS from the wall. I guess it may be a station near Universities of London Air Squadron (ULAS) in London? Is it the underground station in London named “Brompton Road Underground Station”? If anyone who can recognize this picture, it is appreciated if you can confirm where it is.

Curiosity on Life

This is a vivid example of curiosity for life – the rational motivation for many things we did. I enjoyed the time to search for the answer for the simple question “Where is this station”, and enjoyed the excitement when I happen to see the picture on my dinner table. The research time and the excitement moment are quite rewarding to me. It brings something new to life, so the life is not boring at all. Sometime the reason we travel, ask, research, and study is simply out of curiosity. Curiosity is the genuine human being’s instinct that must be satisfied. The city life, sometime, has killed the passion so people feel boring, while there are millions of poorer people who are happier.

To raise the question is more important than the research. Eric gave a good question (and interesting one) so I want to continue to research like a Sherlock Holmes. The other projects I participate sometimes are also started as good questions. For example, there is a question on the website of Confluence Project web page: What does the point 30N 119E look like? The only thing I knew was, it is a point in the Zhejiang Province which is 300+ km away from Shanghai. To find out the answer (or to satisfy my curiosity), I spent two days traveling there and one night at the miserable 10 RMB per night hotel. Upon my return, I recorded Incomplete Visit to 30N 119E. There is nothing to do with money, nothing to do with project schedule, or customer, or work item, or coding, or anything that is common in daily life.

London?

Samuel claimed that “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. It is true. I would rather further state the same sentence to be “When a man is tired of ______, he is tired of life”. There is a blank space there and you can put almost every place name or even any noun to the blank space and I still believe the statement is near the truth. For example, we can put the follow terms. Try to read it again with the new terms.

  • Shanghai
  • Xujiahui
  • Pudong
  • China
  • my neighborhood

It is a simple philosophy many books kept telling. Some uses extreme samples. Xavier de Maistre wrote the Journey Around my Bedroom (mentioned in Art of Travel) revealing how much he could discover within his own bedroom – he got more than people travel to the world. The same philosophy was repeated in Helen Keller’s Three Days to See. It is purely about the way we treat life. Both set us thinking, wondering what we do under similar circumstances.

Update It is Paris Subway Feb 20, 2005

Thanks DongXi and Carsten to confirm the subway on the poster is Paris Subway. To be more accurate, the Porte de Lilas Station. I recognized te Lilas to be ULAS. The subway of the subway in these two cities are so similar.

Look at this picture castern found for me. It is exactly the station the poster was taken – it is even from the same angle to take it.

paris-porte.de.lilas.png

Image in courtesy of CREDS report

Thanks! I know I will get an answer within two days.

Passion for Life

When asked about what do you still remember for the previous year, many people cannot tell too many. So do I. The more memorable things in life are seldom work related. It can be something you really feel passionate about, such as travel, or competition.

In the year 2005, I will work on three areas in my private life: Art, Charity and Relationship.

Art

My friends and I are planning to hold a photo exhibition in the first half. It was inspired by the Grassroot Art in Seattle. I will also follow the practices from the Art of Travel. I am start to learn drawing and painting.

Charity

I will personally sponsor a funding in university to help few (less than 10 students) excellent students to realize their potential. The fund will help them to go to museums, art galleries, exhibitions, and get chances to talk with other great people in big companies or successful business owners, artists….

Relationship

I will use the year to strength my relationship with all my new, current and old friends. Spend time with them and get to know more people. I am organizing a classmates gathering in Qingdao this July after we graduated from Luoyang No.1 Middle School for one decade.

I will talk about more details about each of the projects later. I hope when I welcome 2006, I at least remember these three meaningful things in 2005.

Talking with Friends is Great

This is the last day of the Spring Festival. I caught the last chance to have tea or coffee with my friends. It is among the best things to do during holidays. I got to know more good places to meet and to have afternoon tea/evening tea. It is important part of knowledge for a city. I didn’t touch this area too much before, and I guess I will start to recommend restaurants, cafĂ©, tea houses and bars soon.

I also better understood how lucky I am to have a bunch great friends around me. I know who to go to on specific topics. For example, for ideas on Confusions or the great thinkers, I will go to Steven. On the current society, I will see Hua. For great places to eat, I will pick up my phone and give Grace a call. For new ideas, I go to Isaac, and for travel and art, Claire and Edward are the best persons I can find around me.

The best part of life is to talk with friends. It gives new ideas or helps me to review my ideas to get a more systematic view. My mentor at middle school Zhu Hai Jun said to me for more than 10 times, that “people always ignore great people around them”. It is a good echo of Pascal’s “The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room” (my second time quoting this sentence in one week).

Some Observations

There are some very interesting observations in the Internet world that I haven’t put onto the blog yet.

Google loves XinhuaNews and China Daily

When you visit U.S. version of Google News, you will find a very interesting phenomena: About 1/3 of the pictures or one of the two biggest news pictures are often from Xinhua News or China Daily. According to Google’s rule, it implies these two sites are most frequently quoted sites, which is very true.

Forget about Google. Use Baidu

I found the frequency I use Google in the last month dramatically decreased. I almost pulled my hair off when I use Google to search some common terms and get DNS error. It seems more and more content are not suitable for me to read. The easy solution is, switch to Baidu. It is a cleaner environment and they provide good service to censor the content so I won’t click an “appropriate” link before I am aware of.

Google Maps

Google released beta version of Google Map. Google chanllenged people’s imagination of client scripts after it did with Gmail. It is a fantastic application. I love the drag and drop in IE and the navigation with keys. Google is a real Internet company!

203 Mining Workers Died

Liao Ning mine blaster killed 203 workers there. It is terrible news.

Keep Doing, and Doing, and Doing

“If something is meaningful, go ahead to do it. If time is not the key factor, just keep doing, and doing, and doing… The result is just there.”

This is the experience I got in my last two years and a quarter of blogging. The nights I wrote helped me to form a habit to keep doing something for really long time. :-D

It doesn’t matter how well you are doing today or tomorrow, it does matter if you keep doing something right, for a pretty long time.

He keeps doing, and doing, and doing… When someone gives up, he keeps doing, and… doing, and doing… When many others give up, he still keeps doing, and doing, and doing… Sooner or later, there is a time that someone will notice what he archived. You call it behavior art? You bet it.

I am very happy to share a piece of behavior art I created in a party. I am very excited about it and proud of it.

The Party

I attended a new year party in the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum last Saturday night. It is the site where the APEC meeting leaders took pictures. There were many people there and it was a looo0ng party from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM. There were many things to do in the first one hour or two – eating, drinking, and chatting. For the rest two hours, to be honest, there were not much to do besides watching the performance on the stage – it was interesting anyway, but I found something more exciting for myself.

The Hall

The party was held in a hallway of the museum. It is the highest hall in the building. Look at the picture below. I wasn’t able to put the roof into the viewfinder. You may have some idea about how high the roof is. Actually, I took the picture at a viaduct that goes across the hall at the second floor. :D

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The hall of the party

The Balloons

To add the holiday atmosphere, balloons were placed on each table. They all floated in the air.

The string

There are strings of about half meter long attaching the balloons to the tables. The good thing is, the string was made of plastic and I can break the string in the middle along the string to get two identical strings with equal length but half thick. You can work on any of the resulting string to extend the total length. You got the idea?

The Dream

Since there was nothing to do, why not create something? Why not try something new? I thought of a crazy idea.

IF, I mean if, I kept breaking the string and it will result many strings with identical length. If I connect them, and it will be very long. Does it make sense?

OK. Let me continue. After I had a long enough string, I can put it under the balloons so the balloons can reach the roof.

Everything is so reasonable, isn’t it? Why not have a try?

So I started to do it.

The Work

The work is not that easy. The first problem I had was about the string. It was hard to break it just in the middle. If you start to split, one piece of the string got thicker and thicker while the other one get thinner, so it broke at lengths about 20 cm to 30 cm. I changed the plan and broke one original string into up to three thinner string. To do that, I had to work very, very carefully. Otherwise, it broke faster.

Anyway, I combine the thinner strings into a longer one and kept attaching the smaller piece to the end of the string.

Gradually, the balloons of my table, out of the 40 tables, rose. It rose so slowly that no body noticed that. Even I couldn’t observe its moving in short time period.

Soon all the original strings were used up and I started to find some shorter strings on the table to continue the work. Sometimes a short string that was not longer than a finger was also used. Since after 3 split, it could be significantly long. Some part of the resulting long string was so thin and weak that if you had pulled the string a little bit quicker, the string might break.

The Most Difficult Time

After working on this project for one hour, I still didn’t think anyone noticed what I was doing. The balloon rose higher, but only at about 1/5 of the height of the roof. The worse thing is, all the strings on my table had been used up, including those very short one. Well. Since I started, since there was nothing else that made me so exciting and ambitious, why stop?

Others Noticed and Helped

The good things, at this time, someone would notice what you were doing if the work was getting its shape. Although it was still far away from the goal I set, the balloon on the table was about 4 – 5 times higher than the other tables. This raised interest of people sitting at the same table of me. Wendy, Xiao Gao and Qiang were among them.

They offered help and I welcomed them to join the Balloons Hit the Roof Project. With three more pairs of hands, the work went on much faster. Gao helped to gather strings from other tables while Wendy soon became a experienced string breaker. New longer strings were handed to me continuously and the balloons rose at a faster than any time in the pass hour. That was great!

New Ideas

With the rising of the balloon, we had new ideas. Xiao Gao suggested to attach a small flashing object at the bottom of the balloons so everyone could see the balloons more clearly. It was a great idea and we tried that. The downside of this idea was, the flashing toy was made of steel and had battery in it. It was heavy. To give enough lifting power to float into the sky again, I needed more balloons. A boy around 10 in age joined the project and volunteered to get more balloons for us. I know it was not easy because not many people want to give away the balloons on their table. The little boy finally got it and ran back and forth until he collected 5 more balloons. Cool boy! We finally had a large spacecraft with electronic power attached at the bottom. It was very cool.

New Problems

Balloons reached 3/4 of the height of the roof for the first time

None of us would expect the air above the closed hall like that in Shanghai Science and Technology Museum was circulating. Some times, it went from one direction and later, it went another. The balloon was not directly above our table after it reached about 2/3 of the hall’s height. It either floated this way or the other, causing the string below it to be a 45 degree angle with the horizon line. We obviously need to add more lifting power to fight again it. Otherwise, some one who stood at the viaduct, where my first picture was taken, may be able to touch and destroy our work. :-D The boy helped us to accomplish this again. We also replaced the thinnest part of the old string I made to make sure it didn’t break in the middle.

Finally, We Made It

After another hour and a half, with everyone’s participation and well coordination, the string went long enough and the balloons were powerful enough (to provide enough lifting power). The new version of the balloon craft started its journey. It finally reached the roof! I didn’t need to hold the string and it just floated there at the roof. When I pulled the string, it could come down and return to face of our table. We had several times of “launching” and “withdraw”. It worked like a skate. Everybody involved was happy. In my eyes, they were shining.

This is the final result – the balloons reached the roof with long enough string and enough balloons.

Many People Noticed

Many balloons escaped the string by accident and floated to the top of the roof. You can see those balloons in the previous pictures. People were so surprised to see a huge balloon group with something flashing at the bottom rising from one of the table SLOWLY, like the Sun. They found out the longest string in that hall under the balloons too. I have to say, it was quite impressive for everyone. More and more people noticed it, pointed the balloons to others and talked about it. I was happy that after several days, when I happened to meet an attendant and asked about the balloons, they said: “Oh. Yes. I surelly noticed that. It was among the best performance of that night. We wondered who made it?”…

shanghai-jianshuo-balloon.capitain.jpg

I was certainly very happy with the final result we created together. In the photo, my balloon craft and me. Please note the flashing part at the bottom of the balloons. It is flashing and when looked upward, it was brighter.

Credit

This Balloons Hit the Roof Project was made possible with the following persons: Wendy, Xiao Gao, Qiang, Chen, and the boy (I didn’t know his name). I hope they don’t have trouble for participating this project at a party after I disclose it.

Strings under the balloons. You may notice that it was made of many pieces

The Conclusion

Well. Thanks for reading through the long story. What I really learnt from this exciting project is, no matter how far or near a dream is, you can reach it by keeping doing, and doing, and doing… as long as you manage the risks well, and you are absolutely confident about what you do contributes to the final goal. This is often not as easy to see as “adding strings and the balloons will float higher”, we need also learn to give up when something out of control happens. BTW, I learnt the later from my last incomplete visit to 30N119E.

On Ethic

To be part of the current society is not easy, if you still bear ethic in mind. Because it is not easy, the easiest way to handle the conflicts is to forget about ethic. Astonishing, isn’t it?

Check about Bozzetoo’s Yes & No and see how to obey the traffic rules in Italy. I don’t mean to offense people in Italy. I like this flash because it is exactly how traffic works in Shanghai.

I tried to stop at STOP signs, but the cars behind me may hit me, because no one stops and no one would expect a car before them to stop when there are no cars passing by.

When I yield for pedestrians, drivers behind me horn crazily and flash their lights.

I talked about it before. Recently, I was filled out with courage to do the right thing, according to ethic conduct, no matter what others do. It has been very painful in the last few days. I am so sad that people in this city has been so rude and show no sympathy to others, who is also part of the members in the city. Why there are no smiles on people’s face when they meet? If Shanghai is moving toward to be a city like New York, I hope at least people should not be as faceless as in New York, if you still think Shanghai is a little bit better than Wall Street now.

I fell in big trouble these days and I kept thinking and thinking everyday about ethic stuff. Do we still respect people telling the truth? Do we still respect people who take other’s benefit, and the general public’s benefit as a factor to consider to make choices? The ethical level of the society has reached to a new level these years, despite of the rocket-rising economic development in some specific cities. I am not surprised of anything terrible in the news at all – we have got used to it.

“Ethic? Hahaha. Ethic! Do you still believe in ethic?” These are the responses on this topic…

I am confused and feeling bad. The question is in my brain these days even after I fell asleep…

Shanghai is the Second Unhappiest City

A recent City Happiness Index survey reveals that Shanghai ranked No. 5 of 6 surveyed cities: Hangzhou, Chengdu, Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, and Wuhan (in the order of Happiness Index position).

Shanghai enjoys the highest average salary of all these six major cities in China, but people in the city don’t feel happy. I can understand that. The pressure in the city is higher and people are so close to the trends – tech trends, fashion trends and house decoration trends. People struggle to catch the trends which may not necessarily lead to their happiness. I listened to a talk show on happiness regarding this survey result this morning. The result of the survey attracted broad attention on the happiness of people instead of economic figures, like GDP.

Here is a picture I draw one year ago about the city I am living in.

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© Jian Shuo Wang

Related

Life, An Accumulation of Mileage

Life, an accumulation of mileage – I loved the sentence when I first saw it on the airplane of China Eastern Airlines.

My Hobby

I love to travel. Actually, I seldom see people who do not like travel. What I mean is, I am very keen to map and compass. With the simple tool, I can get around. Last serveral days, I cycled to Tai Hu (Lake Tai) and covered 147.72 km. If I setup a frequent bicycle club, I can accumulate this mileage and give me a big prize.

My accumulation on mileage with frequent flyer program

screen-marriott.rewards-logo.gif MarriottRewards Membership ID: 982 789 265. Their service center in Singapore is very helpful.

screen-united.airlines.mileage.plus-logo.gif United Airlines Mileage Plus Membership: 0153 106 2422

screen-northwest.airlines.world.perks-logo.gif Northwest Airlines WorldPerks Membership ID: 530 503 411

China Eastern Airlines Golden Swallow Club Membership: 500 912 874

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PriorityClub Member: 260854870

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Golden Circle 503 041029 980

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o AIR CHINA CLUB 180 022 183

o SKY PEARL CLUB 2800 0643 2374

o GOLDEN SWALLOW CLUB 500 912 874

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Another repository of membership ID is at here.

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