Improving my Mandarin skills

I started learning Chinese back in college when I was able to finally fit it into my schedule. I took two semesters before I left for Hong Kong to study abroad (Back story: I had wanted to study in Mainland China but my school had no program there so the closest place was HK). In Hong Kong I couldn’t really use my Mandarin, since they prefer Cantonese.

Back when I was learning Chinese, I was obsessed! I can confidently say I was the best in the class because I was always learning more by listening to Mandarin podcasts, watching videos, and talking to my Chinese friends at school. I would also text in Chinese when I could and used QQ with random Chinese people to help their English while I practiced Chinese.

Once I went abroad, I stopped studying. I wish there had been a program in Mainland China because I feel like I would have continued. I traveled to China and was able to use it a bit, but my travel partner was Chinese so he did most of the talking especially in the rural areas.

Now I am considering getting back into learning. I have the Anki flashcard app on my phone from forever ago full of decks of Chinese flashcards for words and sentences. This app is awesome! The decks I have include English, pinyin, characters, and pronunciation. I’ve been getting back into doing those when I’m just sitting around, rather than playing a game or browsing Reddit. I also have some Chinese language podcasts like Mandarin Chinese Lessons with Serge Melnyk and Popup Chinese. I’m always listening to podcasts so having these on my phone is another way to get in some words and phrases.

I don’t plan to be fluent anytime soon. I am just studying to workout my brain and give myself something to work on besides actual work. I’ve found that besides work, I don’t do much. I will workout and watch tv, walk the dog, and hang out with my girlfriend. But none of those activities are mentally stimulating. I read a lot of articles on my phone, but that’s just reading, I don’t feel that it works my brain much.

Maybe I should set a goal to take the HSK test. I was going to take it when I studied abroad but didn’t want to pay the fee. I know I’d breeze through the HSK 1 with a little refreshing.

Yep, so that’s it! We’ll see how long this lasts :p

Journey to 5k

My girlfriend suggested we do a 5k at the end of January. The event benefits her sister’s school, so I agreed. Thing is, I’m not a runner… all. I suck at running. When I workout, I lift weights or go on the elliptical or stairmaster. I dreaded running in school, I always avoided it. But this is a good challenge to work up to. I just downloaded a Couch to 5k app to help me out. Tonight I used it while out with the dog. It was easy, just a 5 minute walking warm up, then 1 minute of running/jogging, and 2 minutes of walking for 8 rounds. I had a few issues with the dog (she is a bit aggressive towards other dogs so we can’t be near any, we’re not sure why she is this way) but otherwise it went well. It was quite cold, but I had a hoodie and sweatpants.

I feel good having a goal to work towards. Since I can barely run a mile right now without struggling, I think this app will help me stay focused and give me a good plan to finally get to 5k. I also did Insanity tonight, then ran after so I feel good 😀

Taiwan Treat Box

Alright, so I’m a lurker on r/smallbusiness on Reddit. I like checking the weekly thread where Redditors post their businesses. A few weeks ago I saw a user post about their Taiwanese snack subscription box, Taiwan Treat. I knew this was for me! I have a soft spot for Taiwan after spending some time in Taipei. I loved the food, people, ease of travel, clean MTRs, culture, language, everything! I would move their if I could.

I was lucky enough to get in contact with Abraham, the owner of Taiwan Treat. I actually had commented on his post about sending out 胡椒餅 (hujiaobing) which are these super delicious hot, black pepper buns you find at roadside stands. He graciously offered to send me a box to try. Of course I said yes. The box came earlier this week after much anticipation. It was full of so many snacks. Here’s a photo so you can see just what was inside.


I believe the package came on Tuesday, and already all those snacks are gone. I still have the noodles and teas left. Everything was so delicious! I had my girlfriend try them as well, as she isn’t familiar with Taiwanese snacks. I think the only one that didn’t hit the spot was the dried fruit, a bit too tangy for my taste, but that’s just me, I have many Chinese friends who love dried fruit snacks.


Here’s the box the day I got it. I got one of the stickers inside the box. I love stickers even though I
just hoard them and never put them on anything.


Sorry for the blur :/ This is how the box was packed. There was a nice note from Abraham about the box and asking if I had allergies as some of the products might not be suitable for those with specific allergies.


One of my favorite things! I love these 🙂

Big thanks to Abraham at Taiwan Treat for sending me this box! I’m most likely going to order another, and my girlfriend is planning to get one for her sister who is half Taiwanese.

PS. I write about marketing and just wanted to mention how this is a great way to get someone hooked on the product. I mentioned my love of Taiwan and the food, and Abraham, in my opinion, saw a chance to get a new customer. He was able to build a relationship with me by talking to me on Reddit, and now we have a connection. By sending me the product for free, he was able to let me try out the product and get me to enjoy it and want to order again. This tactic is more expensive than advertising, of course you can’t send a box to every person who shows interest, but by sending it to highly qualified leads (ie. Me and my Taiwan obsession), Abraham was able to get a new customer and other leads 🙂

Got my hair cut!

So I got my hair cut on Tuesday. I was super nervous, but it went great! I went to a salon recommended by my girlfriend. I asked for a Master Stylist and didn’t care about price. I got an awesome stylist! She knew just what I wanted and after the session she let me go home and play with the style for a few days and come back to fix it up. I went back on Friday and she shaved the sides a bit and trimmed the top. It went as well as I could have hoped for. Just wish I had done it a lot earlier (Joey was right) :p Not ready to post pics, I just hate taking them and putting them online.


Alright, the title is a bit dramatic, I’m really just changing my hair. But it’s a big change, a change I’ve been waiting for. I had short hair back in elementary school then let it grow out. Now I’m ready to get rid of it and go back to having it short.

Right now I just wear it in a bun all the time, but it gives me headaches. My hair isn’t that long but it’s thick and it’s just too much to deal with. Plus, I’ve been wanting to cut it for a long time.

Now I’ve found a bunch of pictures to help explain to the stylist just how I want it. I’ll be cutting it sometime next week. I’ll try to post before and afters if I’m happy with it.

Here’s some photos of what I’m looking at getting. I’m going for a more androgynous look, I’m not a fan of feminine bobs or pixie cuts on myself, they just don’t go with how I dress. We’ll see how it goes!

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Racist Taiwanese Guy (Justice Porn Edition)

If you’re not familiar with justice porn, it’s the concept of someone getting what they deserve. It’s a great feeling to see something in real life or online, then hear that justice has been served. Either they were reprimanded, arrested, or taken to court. There was a recent post on Reddit of a video from a white man and his Taiwanese girlfriend in Taiwan being followed and insulted by a Taiwanese native on the MTR (subway).

I spent time in Taipei and loved it! The people are so friendly and courteous and don’t mind listening to my poor Chinese. They will go out of their way to help you. This guy is an outlier, and I think that’s why it cause such a commotion. It is very out of character for someone in Taiwan to do something like this. The MTR in Taipei is safe, quiet, people will give up their seats, they will wait in line and patiently walk in.

Apparently Chris, the foreigner in the video, and his girlfriend were followed from one train car to another by this Taiwanese man. He then started insulting them both. Chris has an excellent handle of Chinese and was very skilled at talking back to this guy. Although, he should have just ignored him as the guy just seemed like a troll.

To make things short, this was posted a few days ago, and the next day the Taiwanese man was arrested. Chris had been to the Taiwanese police and they never did anything. That was weeks ago. Now he posts his video on YouTube and it gets over 1 million views and justice is served.

Video of the confrontation