Thursday, October 30, 2008

Getting the Hang of Things

So this last weekend, after a lack of options on pizza, I decided to try and make my own.

I've done this more than a few times before in the states, and it usually tasted pretty good, so I figured this would be easy. What hubris! I made some pizza, and it looked alright, but it didn't taste too hot.

However, I forgot that back home, I bought the dough pre-made, and the sauce was labelled "pizza sauce" and I knew which cheese to choose.

Here, you can't just go buy "pizza dough," the cheese selection in slim, and so is the tomato sauce. (Remember, the word for "tomato sauce" in Chinese is EXACTLY the same as the word for ketchup.)

I bought some tomato sauce in the imported foods section at the grocery store here in Huzhou, the RT-Mart or "Da Run Fa" (大润发) as the locals call it. The consistency looked pretty good, and it was imported from Italy. Also, it actually tasted alright as a pasta sauce when I cooked some spaghetti. But as a pizza sauce, it was lacking, perhaps not sweet enough. Maybe next time I'll try the Hunt's tomato sauce. Yes, that's right the cheap-o Hunt's tomato sauce. It's not cheap here, but maybe it'll do better service as a pizza sauce, no way to really know until I try.

I mentioned that when I went to Hangzhou the weekend before I had bought some mozzarella cheese. At the store there, there were 2 brands of it. I couldn't tell you what I was thinking when I decided to buy the less expensive one. The Land O'Lakes one. Bad move on my part. Next time I will definitely use the better mozzarella.

Finally, the dough. As I said I had always bought the dough pre-made in the past, but this time I had to make it from scratch. So I bought some flour, yeast, and sunflowerseed oil. I know it's ideal to use olive oil, but seriously, olive oil is REALLY expensive here, like it costs twice as much here as it does in the USA, and they have several other oils that were so much cheaper, and also, since it is my first month here, and I had to spend money on buying supplies for my place and for the gym membership for 9 months (you have to pay the membership all upfront), so I went with the more economical choice. Maybe it's because I didn't use olive oil, maybe not. The fact is, the making of the dough from scratch was a lot more involved than I had thought, and also, it was the first time I had ever done it. I began making the dough at 11, thinking I could be done and eating by 12, 1 at the latest. But mixing the dough, waiting for it to rise, beating the dough down, letting it rise again, that all took about 2 and a half hours before even spreading the dough on the pan.

Anyways, it was a bumpy process because I was looking at the directions online, going into the kitchen to do it, coming back and looking online, and repeat. Next time I will have a better idea of what I am supposed to be doing so it should be a lot smoother and more streamlined. If I do it again after that, even more-so an then maybe I can tweak the recipe for the dough.

After it was all said and done I ate at 3 pm. But it DID actually look pretty good. Have a look:

Anyhow, that was the first time I used the toaster oven, but the 2nd time came the next day, I baked some chicken. That turned out ok, but was a little too salty. That problem was easily enough fixed though; I baked chicken again last night for dinner: far less salty, much better. I will say though, it was UBER convenient back home being able to buy boneless, skinless chicken pieces. The bone part really isn't a big deal, but it's kind of a pain to take the skin off myself.

This week of teaching was quite a bit less awkward, I believe I am starting to feel a bit more comfortable in my position, but things are yet far from routine. I'm sure as time goes on it well keep getting better.

The weather has begun to turn a bit cooler, and it has been wetter the past week as well. My old LTC jacket is still deceptively warm and works quite nicely, but I think I will need to do some shopping soon for some long sleeve shirts, maybe a pullover, and, in preparation for winter, long underwear.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wednesday Night Episode

Something fairly interesting went on Wednesday night.

But first, I appreciate everyone's comments, in fact I really enjoy reading everyone's comments, But I also especially like knowing who says what. The way these blogs work, I can either allow anonymous posts, or I can restrict so only registered users can leave comments, and I didn't want to do that because it's such a hassle and then no one would ever leave comments. And I know that at the time you leave your comment you think, "Well it should be pretty obvious to T.J. that this is me," and sometimes it is, but I've got a lot of friends and family apparent, so it's not always obvious. So as a favor to me, when you leave a comment as "anonymous" I'd ask that you put your name somewhere in the post. I love reading everyone's comments, so please leave 'em and leave more! Just let me know who said what. :)

Ok, back to Wednesday night, Oct 22.

Wednesday was Gwen Hoy's birthday. (Gwen is another American teacher in Huzhou, but at a different school.) So she invited everyone to a birthday dinner at 7. It was very nice, and afterward a few of us went to a bar for a couple drinks. It was fairly nice, had a live band, and since we were sitting too close, it was fairly loud. Anyways, afterward, I had to walk about 2 kilometers (that's 1.2 miles) back to my bicycle. Don't worry, I was NOT riding drunk. I had had about one drink at the dinner (dinner lasted from 7-9pm) and then maybe 1.5 drinks at the bar soon after we arrived at 9:30 and we left the bar at 10:45, so the each of them were completely processed by the time I arrived at my bike at 11:15.

So, I cycled my way back to campus, the guard opened the gate for me, and I rode the last kilometer back to my apartment, arriving at 11:45pm.

Now, the thing about my place is, it is in the same buildings as the student dorms, and the students have a curfew off 11pm. At 11pm, they lock the doors. Now, I have come home after 11 twice before tonight. Each of those occasions, I knocked on the door, and there is a woman posted just inside, and she would let me in. She can sleep, but since she is on-the-clock while at the school, she must be ready. (There are about 3 different women who do this and it's a different one each night.)

Now, normally there is a lock there, and they would give the foreign teachers living there a key. But apparently, the lock was not working right, so the door was chained shut from the inside. But it had been this way before, so I didn't worry at first.

So, I knocked lightly, waited a minute with no response. So then I knocked harder. Waited another minute. Then I tried knocking a little harder, still nothing.

About this time I noticed some flashlights walking toward my building along the path to my building. It was a couple of guards who worked there. As they came up, one of them asked me what was the problem. In Chinese of course.

Anyhow, I couldn't quite think how to say "I've knocked but she hasn't answered" but I certainly know enough to say 我住在这里 (Wo zhu zai zhe li, "I live here").

So then he and the other guy realized what was going on and they began just banging away at the door and yelling for the woman to come out. But still nothing. So they kept going at it even louder! It was quite a racquet and they went on for about 5 minutes, banging and yelling. Again, even if someone had the normal key to the building, it would do no good since the doors were chained shut from the inside, so she had to wake up and open it.

One of the guards tried to explain something to me, but I didn't understand, but then he explained it using some different words and I understood him. What he essentially said was that sleeping is not her job, this is her job. I'm not a student, I'm a teacher, so since the student curfew doesn't apply to me, she should be prepared to open the door if I arrive home after 11. He said something along the lines of, "if I just slept during my post, what good would that do?"(because he is a guard).

After several minutes of this loud noise, several students awoke. From the students I heard a lot of "Tian Na!", literally, "Heavens!" and from the guards to the students, a lot of "Bu hao yi si!", meaning "Very sorry." But the guards did ask one of the students to go down and wake the door woman. The student, a girl, did NOT seem too happy about this. But she did go down, woke her up, and she opened the door.

After that the guards left almost immediately and the woman at the door said nothing to me, but I've got a feeling she's not gonna like me too much anymore, haha.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Still kind of the first week of teaching

Since I had gone to Hangzhou last week on Monday and Tuesday for my physical checkup, I had not begun my Monday and Tuesday classes yet, so I had my first Monday and Tuesday classes this week.

The kids seem interested enough, but, and this may be a cultural thing, they are very reluctant to raise their hands and volunteer in class. And I mean when we're playing something like Hangman, and I said "Raise you hand if you want to guess a letter," I hear people whispering or saying letters, but still no one raises their hand. I have to call on them individually. But that's no big deal, I'll try and find some way to invite their participation, perhaps candy.

So Monday evening I went over to Nellie's (the other American teacher at my school) apartment to pick up an extra toaster oven she had. I now have the tools to bake a pizza! Just have to pick up the ingredients (as I will have to make the dough from scratch). I will give it a shot this weekend.

By the way I don't know if I mentioned it in previous posts, but last week a friend of mine invited me to lunch. So we went, and I knew I was taking an awful risk, but I ordered the pizza there. It was a personal sized pizza, and it didn't look very good, but I took one bite... and spit it back out. Can you believe that for the sauce they used.... KETCHUP! Gross. I couldn't even eat anymore, I ordered something else. Hopefully my pizza ends up alright. Worst case scenario, if I visit Hangzhou again or Shanghai soon, they have a Pizza Hut. If it's anything like the Pizza Hut in Beijing then it's not fantastic pizza, but at least it's edible.

Finally, I got my bicycle last week, but I made a HUGE mistake. It's a 1-speed bike. If I LIVED in downtown, that would be fine, because with all the traffic, other bikes and pedestrians, you're never really going at full-speed for more than a few seconds. However, I live a good 5km (about 3 miles outside of downtown. About 2.5km of that 5 km is in traffic, but the other 2.5 km it is fairly wide open with a few slopes (bridges) and I am limited to first gear. If I do a sprint on the bike I get going fairly quick, but you can't sprint for much longer than 30 seconds at a time. If I had a 5-speed, it would not only make it SO much easier, but I would be able to get home so much faster. Anyhow, I heard it is fairly common for bicycles to get stolen in China. One Chinese friend of mine has lived in Huzhou for 10 years and has had 10 bikes stolen. Nellie has been here just over 2 years and she said she is on her 3rd bike. Anyway, if something happens to this bike, I won't be too upset as it gives me an excuse to get a better bike. :D

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Weekend in Hangzhou

So I'm a bit late in updating, I've just been a bit busy, and when I haven't been busy I've been tired.

So this last weekend I visited Hangzhou, a large city about an hour south of Huzhou. I'd been here before for the medical checkup, but was just there for that and left. This time I was going as a tourist. I heard that West Lake (西湖 Xi Hu) is quite beautiful. So I went to Hangzhou and a friend of mine, Jin Song, met me at the bus station and we went to West Lake. It really was pretty nice, and I took some pictures of course!

There is a street there that my friend told me is considered the historic district, and the buildings do look quite traditional, but I actually forgot what the name of the street is.

But it is a tourist destination, and what tourist hotspot is complete without a Disney store?

I thought this was interesting because it's a McDonald's in an ancient building.

Here is West Lake itself.

They also had little boats where you could go out on the lake. We rented one of those and got some more pictures. Here is that same tower just closer.

And here is a daytime view of the downtown Hangzhou skyline.
These other pictures were in the park area around West Lake, nice imagery is all.

Hangzhou has a LOT more people than Huzhou. Once I rode the bus from downtown Huzhou back to my place and I thought it was crowded. I was sorely mistaken. When I was leaving Hangzhou, my friend and I took a city bus back to the bus station (to go back to Huzhou). It was like sardines in a can, it was so crammed! I don't know how they do it everyday, ugh.

However, with so many more people (Hangzhou is Chicago-sized while Huzhou is about Tampa-sized) comes some other benefits. For one, there are more foreigners. In Huzhou, in a week, granted my first week, I unexpectedly met 3 westerners that I did not know. In Hangzhou, I saw that many in half an hour just walking around.

But the BIGGEST benefit of a larger city is that it is easier to find certain western foods. Now don't get me wrong I'm willing to eat Chinese food for lunch and dinner. Some of it I like, some of it I don't, but for lunch or dinner I'm adventurous enough to give it a shot. But breakfast, I'm sorry, you just want something easy, comfortable, familiar, where you don't have to wonder what it will taste like. Now I was able to find one kind of cereal in Huzhou, some imported German cereal of cornflakes and freeze dried fruits. It tastes fine, but the selection here is limited to that or the box of plain cornflakes and they are expensive, like $8 USD per box.

But in Hangzhou there is a Chinese chain grocery store called "Carrefour." Now, their selection is still lacking compared to any grocery store in the US, but at the very least I could find other things like Frosted Flakes or Cocoa Krispies or similar things, and they weren't expensive! I picked up a box of Frosted Flakes for $2. They also had the German cereal, and it was still expensive. I think these other cereals weren't expensive because they were packaged in Thailand rather than imported from Europe.

But most importantly, I've been looking to make a pizza on my own here, due to Huzhou's lack of pizza. However, Huzhou lacks mozzarella cheese, but not the Carrefour in Hangzhou! These may seem like trivial things back in the states, but I was psyched to finally find some mozz.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bicycling in Traffic

So, on Wednesday, my 2nd day with the bicycle, I rode to downtown to go to the gym SO it was my first time riding the bike in traffic.

I was a bit nervous at first because the traffic here is rather chaotic to look at. But after a few days I began getting used to it and actually, I'm not so nervous anymore, and it's kind of like a video game. Still fairly dangerous and you gotta watch out, but the city is set up for pedestrians and bicycles, and the cars are always definitely looking out for bikes and peds, so its really not too bad.

When I first got here I noticed they're constantly using their car horns. At first I thought it was strange but now I realize, it's a necessity. With so many bicycles, mopeds, and pedestrians, its not a "Hey get out of my way jerk!" horn, it's really a "There is a car approaching behind you, be careful" horn. That is unless you DON'T get out of the way, in which case the horn will beep repeatedly and then it DOES mean "Hey, get out of my way jerk!"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

First Week of Teaching

So Monday I didn't start teaching because I had to go to Hangzhou (the capital of this province) to get some medical tests done. Unfortunately, after we had driven about three quarters of the way there, I realized I had forgotten my passport! The others who went with me actually had other business in Hangzhou, so it was a completely wasted trip, but I DID have to go again today.

When I got back Monday though, I did have enough time for my afternoon class: English Corner. It's not so much of a class as just sitting down with the students and having conversation. When I showed up, there were only 8 students, but that's because most of the students didn't know that the class had begun that day. I later discovered that there will typically be more students: anywhere from 30 to 80!

At English corner, among the 8 who were there, their levels varied, but there was some genuine enthusiasm. I also told the students that in my classes they were only to use English, but that since I am also learning Chinese, outside of class they may use either English or Chinese with me.

So that was yesterday. Today, I went BACK to Hangzhou, did NOT forget my passport, and everything went swimmingly. The classes I would've had today were cancelled because we weren't sure I'd be back in time from Hangzhou. I did get some cool new stuff today though: a water dispenser in my apartment, and a bike! I walked to downtown on Sunday, and from the door of my apartment to the heart of downtown Huzhou takes almost exactly 1 hour. Taxis are convenient, but would get too expensive to take them everyday. The bus is a reasonable alternative, but the issue is that to walk from my front door to the bus stop still takes 15 minutes. Sure, running would chop that in half, but then I'd be tired and out of breath, not too mention sweaty and stinky, so a bike is the best solution.

So, Tian Jia went with me this afternoon to go get a bicycle and it plus the lock cost me 398 yuan, about $60. After that she had something else to go to. I was wanting to go to the gym here in town. It has been 2 weeks since I've worked out and I'm not liking it. So, I walked with the bike to downtown, which was not far from the bike shop. I didn't ride because after buying it, I realized that has been 7 years since I've even mounted a bicycle. And the traffic here is pretty crazy, so I figured downtown Huzhou was NOT the place to work out my rusty riding skills. I did visit the gym, it looked pretty nice, they even have a nice bar and sitting area WITH WiFi. One of the workers giving me the tour could speak some English, so I used both English and Chinese with him. Also made a new foreign friend at the gym, a Mexican guy named Arturo who lives in Huzhou apparently.

After the gym it was about 6:00 pm and it started getting dark (that's when it gets dark here, but on the bright side, the sun rises at about quarter to 6 in the morning). So I walked most of the way back to my place, not wanting to ride in traffic just yet. Along the way I saw an old man selling fruits, and the bananas looked good, so I bought a few. 8 bananas for under a buck, not too bad. But more than that I felt good about my Chinese skills, and I should only get better from here.

When I finally got near the entrance of the school, I hopped on the bike. The first 10 meters were a bit wobbly, but after that it was all good. Like riding a bicycle.

I don't have any new pictures today, I always forget to bring my camera with me, but to be honest, my camera is a bit clunky to carry around casually. I want to get a new phone soon, preferably one with a good camera so that I needn't have that concern.

Also, something I forgot to mention in previous posts: Friday night, I was invited to go for massages with Nellie, Gwen, and Gino. We all met up around 9pm, and then Nellie mentioned to us that this other English teacher, Paul, a Canadian, invited is to go to S.O.S., a bar/karaoke place in town, free drinks, free good, etc. Once there we met Paul and his family, and some other Chinese people there with him.

We decided that we could get a massage anytime, so we hoofed it over to S.O.S. We arrived and started drinking and singing. They served a mixed drink of Jack Daniels and Nestea, which, surprisingly, is pretty good! There actually is one Chinese pop song that I know, so I decided to sing it. Some Chinese people told me that I did very well and that they've never heard a foreigner sing a Chinese song before, so they were impressed. As I began drinking more, as has happened in the past with my Spanish, I began speaking a lot of Chinese. It certainly can't be that know anymore while drinking, it's just that I become less conscientious about making mistakes in the language while drinking. Anyways, it ended up being a fun time, and I arrived home around 2.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Video on Blog

It seems that the video works for some and not for others. It actually does not work for me. For those who cannot see the video, I uploaded it to youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v74fMnPE50Q

Also, if anyone ever leaves a post as anonymous, it'd be cool for me if you could also leave your name or something so I know who its from. Thanks!

First Weekend in China

Well, I've been here 5 days now. At first it was almost overwhelming so much stuff to see, and take in. But I've been adjusting.

By the way, I posted pictures before of my dormitory, but that was on the day I had arrived, before I moved into it. I have now moved in, and have purchased a few things to make it feel like a home (you know, soap, paper towls, garbage bags, S-video cables to connect the computer to the TV, all the typical stuff). As such I made a short video tour of my place:

video

Now, the few times I've been downtown I haven't been finding my way around, I've just been following my friends, so I don't really have an idea of what is where. So today I decided to talk a walk from the school to downtown and walk around and get my bearings.

I think I have a better idea how the downtown area is laid out now, although it takes nearly an hour to walk there from my apartment. I think I'll try and get a bike soon to make things more convenient.

I've seen quite a few Tiburons since I've been here, although, they don't say "Tiburon" on the car here, it just says "Hyundai Coupe"


I met Tian Jia today in the downtown area. She needed some passport-type pictures of me for some paperwork and we went to get those. Afterward, it was about 2:30 and I hadn't eaten lunch so we went to KFC. It was pretty much the same greasy stuff we've got at home. By the way, apparently, Chinese people don't verbally differentiate between "drumstick" and "thigh." You say "da tui" which means "big leg" but BOTH the thigh and drumstick are called this same thing, so it's hard to tell them I want just a thigh.

After that I went to get some fruit from one of the supermarkets. I picked up some seedless grapes. I had some grapes the day before, but they were seeded. Trying to eat seeded grapes is a lot like trying to eat small meat chunks that have tiny bones in them: you have to try and separate the soft parts from the hard parts in your mouth, then spit out the hard parts. Seedless grapes are a bit more expensive here, but SOOOO much easier!

While at the supermarket, I also scouted out the meat area to try and find the stuff I like to cook. You can't even find chicken thighs not part of a whole or half chicken. I also noticed some other interesting bits, and I took pictures:

Pig Heart

Pig Intestines

Pig Tongue

Pig Kidney

Pig Hoof

Finally, after I left the supermarket, I was just meandering around the downtown area for a bit, getting familiar with the area when I saw the AWESOMEST mannequin ever:


Also, I didn't think to take a picture, but they had an "official Apple retailer" in Huzhou. I went inside, and the MacBook they had on display was running Windows XP, haha.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

First Day Blog... A Day Late

I am actually posting this nearly 18 hours after I wrote it, but everything after this sentence was stuff I wrote the morning after my first day in China; I couldn't post it because I didn't have internet access until now.

Arrived in China:

So Yesterday, I arrived in China at about 10:30am local time.

Without much of a hitch I met the representative from the school at the airport and exchanged my US cash for some Chinese cash.
The school's rep will assist me with administrative things I need to do here in China. Her name is Tian Jia (also "TJ" she noted). There was a 2 hour car ride from Shanghai back to Huzhou. My body had no idea what time it was supposed to be, I was super tired. When we got to Huzhou it was about 12:30, so they (Tian Jia and the driver, who also works for the school) took me to lunch.

So, I had my first meal in China. We went to a Sichuan restaurant, and we ordered spicy frog and spicy rabbit, the first time I've eaten either of those two animals. Here are the pictures.



FYI: When Chinese people call something spicy, it is SPICY, no pussy-footing around it. This stuff will clear your sinuses something fierece, and even the driver (a Chinese) was sweating while eating it! Also, they don't take all the tiny little bones out of the frogs and rabbits, so you have to eat around it, or separate it in your mouth and spit out the bones... rather annoying.

Now, the dorms where I will be staying are brand new. SO new, in fact, that the hot water heater and shower was not yet completely installed, so the first night I stayed in a hotel. But before going to the hotel, Tian Jia took me to see my place. Here are some pictures. It's actually bigger and nicer than I expected, but then again, it is new.

Nice big balcony.


View from the balcony.



(And yes, the shower is adjacent to the toilet, without a separator.)

All in all, the only complaint I have about it is that is on the 6th floor and there is no elevator. I have a feeling that's going to get old Real fast.

Also, here's a nice shot of downtown Huzhou (not from my apartment).



After seeing my dorm, I went to the hotel to take a shower and nap. Originally I was only going to take a 3 hour nap and then Tian Jia was going to show me around downtown Huzhou a bit, but I ended up not hearing her knock at the door, so it became a 6 hour nap. We did go out around 9:30 saw a few things, but my stomach started aching a bit (I had had about 5 meals in 32 hours, I just needed to "evacuate" a bit). So I went back to my hotel and then went to sleep. Tian Jia is going to come fetch me around 10:30am, but I actually woke up at around 4am, and couldn't get back to sleep, so that's what I'm doing now. :)

Anyhow, I'll learn more about my schedule, my responsibilities, etc in the next couple days. As things are right now, I'm really excited. Almost hard to believe I'm actually here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Monday in Newport Beach

Well, I've been hanging out with Joe here in Orange County since Friday. Joe's new roommates are a really cool and a lot of fun.

Friday afternoon, Joe took off work early and we went to a sports bar to see the Rays win Game 2. We were the only Rays fans in there, but thats to be expected

First, on Saturday, got to watch UCF win a game against SMU. We didn't beat them very convincingly (24-17 against the 119th ranked defense in college football) but a win is a win, and frankly, as bad as UCF is this year, I'll appreciate every win. Saturday evening Joe and I went to get some wings, but before we did that we went to check out this cool scene at Costa Mesa. I didn't have my camera, just my camera phone, so the picture quality isn't great, but it is a hell of a vista.



As I told Joe, scenographically speaking, California is hard to beat.

After we ate, we went home and started playing some drinking Arrested Development, and as his roommates came home we started talking with them, drinking more, then more drinks got made and we all got SMASHED and played Rock Band.

Sunday, I got to watch the Rays and Bucs lose, but that's how it goes sometimes.

Also, interestingly, there's this harbor here in Newport where Joe was telling me about once a year, a school of jellyfish get swept into and then get stuck. It's really surreal seeing all of them just floating there. It's like a bunch of underwater metroids. Once again, I didn't bring my camera, so my crappy phone camera had to do:

So now it's Monday, and I'm basically just waiting for tonight when I'll go to LAX to head to China. Already washed my clothes from this weekend, and re-packed my bags. And now I'm watching Game 4 of the Rays' series. I've got a long 13 hour flight ahead of me, followed by a 4-hour layover in Korea, and then a 2 hour flight to Shanghai. I'm glad its a 13 hour flight followed by a 2 hour flight, rather than the reverse. This way I can get the worst part over with first. I'm not nervous about flying. It's just that 13 hours is a LOOOOONG time to spend in one seat. Anyhow, this will likely be my last post before I get at least to Asia. I am getting really excited about this now! Just over 24 hours until I am in China, and I realize the address of this website!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Journey East (via West) Begins

Well, this morning I finally left my home in Florida. Woke up at 3:30am after 2 hours of sleep, my family drove me to the airport, we said our goodbyes, and I started on my way.

I was feeling a bit anxious while at the Tampa airport because I knew how much air travel I had ahead of me. Not because I get nervous about flying, but because of all the hassle of flying, schlepping the bags, going through security check, rushing to get my shoes and wallet and keys and phone and computers back in their bags or on my person, waiting to board the plane, after sitting, waiting for takeoff, and then after landing having to wait so long for everyone to deboard. Granted this stuff is just the way it is, but it always feels like a hassle.

I'm writing this right now while waiting to board my flight from Atlanta to Orange County (8:30am). Since I only got 2 hours of sleep, I'm hoping I can get some shuteye on the 5 hr flight out.

I did arrive in Atlanta with my cousin (堂妹) Megan and her husband Daryll (I don't know if that's how he spells his name). Took a picture before we split up.
So, after they started boarding their flight at around 8, I started walking toward my gate. As I was walking down the concourse I noticed a very distinct individual. About a year ago, I watched a documentary called "A Fistful of Quarters" which was about this guy who tried to set the world record on the classic arcade game "Donkey Kong." Well, in the movie, his nemesis was professional video game player Billy Mitchell, the at that time, and now again world record holder in Donkey Kong. Now this Billy Mitchell guy, the movie portrayed him as kind of a jerk, but after doing more research, a lot of that was editing, that they left out many things he said that were more conciliatory and also he apparently does some charity work.

So I'm walking down to my gate in Atlanta and I see him. He's a very hard figure to forget. So I saw him, and I couldn't remember his name, but I went up to him and asked "Excuse me, are you the Donkey Kong guy?" He said yeah, and I asked him if I could get a picture. He happily obliged, and mentioned that he was on his way to California to quote "see the governator" for a benefit for homeless children. Anyhow, not a huge celebrity, but still an interesting blip on my trip :) Here's the picture. My face is all distorted because I had to hold the camera out and I'm kinda short and he's super tall.

So anyway, I'm still waiting on my flight to board and I figured this would be a good time to blog. Here's hoping I can catch some z's on the flight.