Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"So why isn't your hair yellow?"

Yellow? Did I hear that right? I'm pretty sure 黄色 means yellow. Unless she meant ... but, but ... there's no way she meant that...

"You mean like golden colored, like ... blond?"

"Exactly! You know because Americans all have blond hair. Did you just dye yours hair black?"

I can't believe this girl just asked me that. She actually thinks that my natural hair color is blond. I don't even know how to respond to that. Where do I even begin?

"Um...well I'm Chinese. I was just born in America."

"Oh you're Chinese!? I thought you were an American all this time."

Ugh, to be an ABC in China. I really need to figure out how to say "Chinese American" in Mandarin. It would make it a lot easier to explain my background.

"Well I'm American too. My parents were born in America and my grandparents were all Cantonese..."

"And your grandparent's parents and their parents and their parents were all born in America?"

Man, this girl just doesn't understand. I guess people don't understand the concept of being Chinese American (or even Asian American for that matter). I guess you're either one of us or one of them. How can I convince her that I'm still Chinese?

"Well actually my grandparents were all born in Guangdong [aka Canton]."

"Oh I see."

This is just getting awkward now. Time to ABCsee myself out of this conversation

"Well, I'm going to head back to my office now. Bye."


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That's a real conversation that I had with a security guard at work today. In her defense, the entire conversation was conducted in Mandarin (so maybe I didn't fully understand what she was saying). 

But still, me with naturally blond hair!? Gimme a break. Did she think my eye brows were dyed black as well? And that I wear color contacts?? And she's thought this the last 8 months that I've been here??? 

Hands down, this is the best question I've been asked so far. Waaaay better than the question about whether all black people can slam dunk.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Take a look at the photo below and tell me what you think:



It's pretty huh? I don't wanna toot my own horn, but I like it. In fact, I'd love it if not for the fact that this picture cost me $450. It's probably best I explain from the beginning...

I spent the day at Splendid China, a miniatures amusement park in downtown Shenzhen, China. It's similar to Window of the World, only this place focuses solely on China. This park is filled with miniature versions every major tourist attraction in China: Great Wall, Forbidden City, Terracotta Warriors, Tiananmen Square (without any tanks), etc. They actually had a sister theme park in near Orlando, Florida too, but it closed within a year of opening.

Anyway, I'm there sitting beside this miniature Alishan, trying to take pictures of some blooming lotus flowers. (FYI, Alishan is a mountain in Taiwan famous for its hiking trails and high altitude tea plantations.) So imagine me sitting on the ground, leaning over the water's edge, carrying a sling bag full of lenses. Now my macro lens is somewhat short (105mm), so I really have to lean over to get close to the flower. So I stretch out my arms and reach forward, just a little further...

FWOMP! (Did I mention that my bag was partially unzipped?)

I immediately look over and watch something roll down and plunge into the pond's murky depths. Air bubbles rise to the surface as my telephoto lens takes it's last gasps for breath; I've just sent it a watery grave. I thrust my hands into the muck and blindly fumble around, searching for my lens. I manage to find the lens and I quickly rip off the lens cap, back cap, UV filter to survey the damage.

So how bad is it? Well the back cap seems to have sealed out any water pretty well, but there's still a shitload of water stuck inside the front element of the lens. See for yourself:


I'm most worried about how dirty that water is. The bottom of a lotus pond is known for being incredibly murky, smelly, dirty, and mucky. (Thus it's rather inspiring that such a beautiful, successful flower is able to make its way out of this muck.) Unfortunately though, my lens just so happened to crash land in this muck. So even if I find a way to dry out the lens, there's still going to be a lot of dirty and gunk in there.

Check out my snap-on lens cap. It's fully dried out, but it still makes grinding sounds when I squeeze it. In fact, you can still kind of see the dried specks of mud:


I tried to dry the lens right away by leaving it out in the sun, but I think I made it worse. It seemed to just evaporate the water and make it spread through out the lens even faster. And since the lens is weather-sealed, the water is pretty much stuck in there. As you can see, it spead to the to the focusing distance window:


It seems like I'm going to have to take it to a Nikon service center...except there aren't any in China. Which means I'll have to take it to Hong Kong one...except they aren't open on Sundays. DAMN YOU, 6 day work week. Think they'll let me take a day off? I'd say this counts as an emergency!