Friday, September 03, 2004


/me opens his notebook, examines the jottings, and picks out the page with the "topics-to-write-about" list.

First off, I remembered serendipitously a feeling I had while cleaning out boxes of old junk from my parent's garage, a summertime ritual for me. I pulled out a booklet from the Academic Decathlon competition I took part in my senior year. The Super Quiz topic for that year was the Information Age, with a focus on the internet. Looking back on the essays by "famous" and influential writers, I realize how little any of of what wrote actually corresponded to anything important about the internet. It was a nice reminder of how clueless people were about technology; a cluelessness that, no-doubt, continues today and will be a constant companion to us in the forseeable future; a nice little reminder to not take ourselves or our partners-in-prediction too seriously.

Second, I had an idea for a project. I discovered that the Frommer's travel guide website has published all(?) of their content for China on the web. If I was motivated enough (and thought it was legal enough to be worth the effort), I could write a script to extract all the content and corresponding meta-information, dump it into a Kwiki database directory, and allow visitors to update it, a la WikiTravel.

When I lived in Tianjin, I really wanted a BobDog article of clothing to wear. BobDog was all the rage with the elementary school crowd at the time. Nowadays, I intend to keep my eyes open for a shirt with the QQ penguin on it. I've seen a couple around town. Speaking of clothing, I went shopping yesterday (somehow, I doubt my 5 t-shirts and 3 pairs of pants will go over well at the office) and was pleasantly surprised to find two UNIQLO franchise locations here in Shanghai. Their UK website pretty much sums up their schtik with high quality, logo-free clothing at low prices. All the news stories are now pay-only, but the gist of UNIQLO's history is that they were one of the few companies to find profit in Japan's 1990s recession by sending production to China and finally abandoning the small-boutique legacy of the 1980s big-money boom. As for me, I picked up a dress shirt, an umbrella, a t-shirt, and ogled their 30 different colors of socks.

Finally, I have a question for you to think over. In his book, Kip Fulbeck (actually, the main character of this "Fictional Autobiography") posed two questions to a group of kids: what is the best thing anybody could say to you, and what is the worst thing anybody could say to you? Fulbeck says that adults come up with corny answers, like "I love/hate you", but kids are much more honest. Be ready to answer this next time we meet.


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