Category Archives: Personal

“Are You Happy?”

“Are you happy?”, a friend asks.

“It’s a cruel question to ask,” I answer.

I have works to do, posts to translate, bills to pay, trips to go, books to read, meals to eat, movies to watch, websites to plan, meetings to attend, emails to reply, postcards to write, groceries to buy, shows to follow, games to play, memories to recall, problems to solve, and pills to take.

My plants are alive on the balcony, my savings are available in the bank, my jobs are secure at the moment, and my life has been nice to me so far.

I already have so much in life.

“Are you happy?”, she asks again.

“I should be.”

I should.

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Time Needed

I'm Attending Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2010 Global Voices Summit will take place on May 6-7 this year in Santiago, Chile. My ticket is ready. My visa is at hand. This will be my first ever trip to Latin America (and Southern Hemisphere). In theory, I should be reading lots and lots of travel info now, preparing to make the best use of my short visit there. As a person like me, by now, I should have known how to get from airport to hotel. I should have bought a travel guide. I should have been insomnia for thinking about it all the time. I should have contacted other GV people.

But I’ve done nothing so far, and I totally blame myself for it.

It’s really hectic this month. I put myself in a situation that I am sleepy all week long. Although I always laugh at myself as workaholic, this is really not a good sign. Many blog topics have emerged, but I simply don’t have time or energy to put my hands on them.

On my way back to Taiwan in March, I watched Up in the Air while flying in the air. I’m totally in love with the film, and completely identify with the obsession towards frequent flyer programs. I really want to tell someone how I feel about it, and what researches I’ve done recently about in-flight magazines, but I am simply out of time.

Deadlines are driving me crazy recently. Usually, things I hate to do are done to support what I enjoy doing. We all need to put something on dinner table, after all. Recent weeks, though, I am overwhelmed by things I hate.

I also have an article about death in mind, but before that, I need to get rid of another deadline.

Created Demand

HomeAs far as I know, this event is there for several years now. On April 15th, Starbucks in many countries will provide free brewed coffee if you bring a reusable cup or mug to their stores. The company says it’s doing so in response to Earth Day on April 22nd. (Oh, there is another site for Earth Day) Unsurprisingly, long lines of people are formed in front of Starbucks today, including Taiwan. Even some of my friends who normally don’t drink coffee are bringing their mugs that day to Starbucks, because “it’s free”.

I am always surprised how popular and common for people in Taiwan to drink cup(s) of coffee on a daily basis. Every morning around 9am or 10pm, there are always people, male and female, young and old, in lines at convenient stores, cafes, coffee shops, for their “morning starter(s)“. It’s very often to here local people saying “I can’t start my work/day without coffee”.

But it’s mostly created demand, to be honest. They didn’t really need a cup of coffee to start their day, until they persuade themselves so.

I don’t know exactly which year coffer became popular in Taiwan (Could it be the year Starbucks arrived?), but anyway, when I was young, coffee was quite exotic. In the past, people in Taiwan had soybean milk or milk for breakfast, now coffee is most people’s first choice.

Personally, I can’t drink coffee very often, as I would get stomach ache. In some ways, it’s quite fortunate, because I save quite a few money for that. At least, I am not obsessed with the atmosphere of “working/reading in cafe.”

I don’t really understand how people believe the idea that “consume more will save the world”, but it’s happening everywhere. You would save more trees if you drink coffee with your reusable mug (although more coffee beans mean more carbon foodprint, let alone if you buy a new mug for that). You would help the world by joining auctions for Earth Day organic cotton T shirts (Do you really need one more T shirt to prove you are an environmentalist?). You would save more power by turning off lights for one hour (although you use a lot more candles during that hour).

This year is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, so lots and lots of events will be held around the world, almost for sure. Many people around the world have already turned off power for one hour, in support of Earth hour on March 27th, to show the importance to save the world.

I have an easy (but a bit wild to some people) idea. How about this year on Earth Day, in order to celebrate, everyone drinks no coffee or one cup less for a day? Since so many people are willing to withstand darkness for one hour, being less productive or clear-headed (as you may think) for one day isn’t that difficult, right? Those coffee companies will hate this idea, but why would I care? 😛

Just don’t drink your coffee on that day. Simple and easy. It’s a statement, and it costs nothing in your wallet/purse.

Life Takes Turn as It Wants

“What are you working on online?” my mom asks. First of all, my mom is not online generation, let alone “born digital“, so you should at least admire her for saying the word “online”. Secondly, to be clear, she now uses computer and internet on weekdays, but only to check out stock prices. That’s why, to her, having a son working as freelancer (= insecurity) and working online (= intangible) can be one of the most confusing concepts to accept.

Ever since she knows I want to be a freelancing translator, she keeps encouraging me to translate at least a book, which is “more substantial”, in her own words. True, my translations can be around you all the time, on product instructions, in press releases, PowerPoint presentations, or even as a website, but you normally won’t see my name attached. We are invisible translators. I have shown to her my works on Global Voices, with my name on it, but it’s still not persuasive enough to her.

And now she is more confused. Why would someone invite her son to give talks for works he’s done online?

See me speak at SXSW 2010 (http://sxsw.com) Mom, it just happens. I wasn’t aware four years ago that my life and career will be deeply connected with internet. But now it is.

South by Southwest Festival came to me for the first time in my life in this post on GV by Juliana. At that time, it looked cool to me, but I didn’t expect to attend at all. After all, it’s in faraway Texas. It’s a long, long flight from Taiwan. (Yes, I know, the flight from Taiwan to Chile is even longer, but we’ll deal with that later.)

Not until one week ago.

That morning when I opened my inbox, I saw an invitation letter saying hi to me, so two weeks later, I will say hi to Austin, Texas.

Also fortunately, I have experience the painful US visa application last year, otherwise I won’t be able to travel with such a short notice. Phew..

Working online connects people in unexpected ways. My life indeed takes turn as it wants, especially since I start to work online. I really cannot say for certain where in the world I will visit this year, but the picture is getting better and better.

Another turn of my life from online work is coming soon. I’ll unveil when I can.

But now, at least we can enjoy SXSW Promotional Video:

New Year Has Begun

A new year has begun. Everyone, unsurprisingly, has celebrated with lots of people. In retrospect, I was taking a shower at the moment when everyone made their first step (or shout) into 2010. I didn’t realize it’s already there until I heard the sound of fireworks outside, stepping out of bathroom. I made myself a cup of good milk tea, and picked up The White Tiger, trying to finish the book that I should have done a long time ago. It’s always the best to spend some time alone, and talk to yourself, intimately.

A new year has begun. While Burj Dubai breaks the skyline amid economic low pressure on the ground, everyone, unsurprisingly, has been asking about new year resolutions. “What do I still want?”, I wondered. It’s been a great year to me, and I heard some great news among friends.

My career has been a positive motivation in my life so far. I am fortunate enough to do what I want. One of my friends may be the most popular in the industry, but if you read though his blog, you just feel sorry for him. Unhappy, pressured, frustrated, exhausted. People probably don’t even know how to talk to him now.

Last year, I finally had heard enough of hollow promises, and got rid of some unpleasant clients. Life has got better for that reason. Sometimes we think life can’t work without somethings, but it turns out to be just fine after we lose them.

With friends online, family besides, places to stay around the world, jobs in email box, I am soon to work with my best friend in his project. If there is someone above, he/she/it has been very, very nice to me. More love is almost a luxury.

Happy New Year to you all.

Hell Must Be Huge

It’s fun to learn all different things in every part of the world. Among new info I got in Tokyo trip in November, I get to know a new blog, thanks to Jennie (or Tomomi?).

The moment I see the blog, I know lots of my friend in the circle will understand or recognize many circumstances described in it in different ways. The author of Clients From Hell is a graphic designer, who has to deal with clients from all directions. He records many terrible behaviors or words during their interactions. Be it designers, writers, editors, journalists, translators or interpreters, if you have ever done any freelancing works, you must be familiar with at least some of those stories.

I like one of his recent post titles: “Family members can be the worst clients“. Oh, tell me about it.

If we believe bad clients are all from hell, hell must be huuuuuuge.

GVers I met in 2009

The last month of the year. Everything surrounded is rushing you to sum up. Everyone seems can’t wait to move on to the next year. New calendars are on sale. TV channels and newspapers are reviewing and ranking incidents of the past year. People start to say “see you next year” instead of “see you next week”. Clients are booking available dates in January (not a bad thing at all!). Not many people are paying much attention how to cherish or make the best use of the last month of 2009. Sometimes, it’s like thinking about dinner place before enjoying lunch’s desserts. For a sweet-lover like me, it’s a crime!

This is a fortunate year to me. Seeing many GV people means I have the chance to travel much around the world, since Taiwan is definitely not a popular visit place for other GVers. Hey, we are not New York. What do you expect?

Anyway, I just want to make a list of GV people I have met in 2009. Long or short, it’s such a pleasure to be with you guys in person. Will I miss anyone? Probably, I don’t have a computer head, after all. What’s the order? There’s no order.

Solana Larsen
David Sasaki
Georgia Popplewell
Ivan Sigal
Jeremy Clarke
Rebekah Heacock
Lova Rakotomala
Amira Al Hussaini
Eduardo Avila
Lokman Tsui
Jillian C. York
Ethan Zuckerman
Rebecca MacKinnon
Elia Varela Serra
Miquel Hudin Balsa
Portnoy Zheng
Sami Ben Gharbia
Oiwan Lam
Paula Góes
Marc Herman
Anna Gueye
Sylwia Presley
Percy Balemans
Mieke Tulp
Agnieszka Kwiatkowska
Tonyo Cruz
Tharum Bun
Rezwan
Chris Salzberg
Hanako Tokita
Tomomi Sasaki
Jannie Lung
Scilla Alecci
… …

Lucky me!