I only have about 12 minutes before my work day is over, and I can leave the office here at school. So I thought I would take a few (five or less) minutes to write a quick micro-post about recent developments in my life. There have been few.
One purchase I made on Taobao this week has made me temporarily quite happy has been a new phone case. The first case I bought for my S9+ was just OK. Although it felt good in my hand, I found that it restricted the use of the health sensor on the back of my phone because it had a plastic bar located between the camera and the sensor. In order to measure my blood pressure or to take an accurate heart rate measurement, I needed to remove the case first. With this new Spigen case, such measurements are no trouble whatsoever. In fact, I like this case so much that I ordered another one of the same model only black and bronze instead of dark blue and silver. It’s nice to have options.
Way back in 2012, my very first smartphone was a Samsung Galaxy Nexus. By today’s standards, it was slow and tiny with 64 GB of storage, but at the time, it satisfied my meager mobile phone needs. I almost didn’t notice how poor its camera was because I was supplementing my photography needs using a Canon point-and-shoot S95. While in China in 2015, I upgraded to a Oneplus One with a much better camera. I instantly gravitated to the custom ROM scene and installed CyanogenMod.
In April of 2017, I was forced to buy a new phone after my Oneplus One was stolen, and without the time nor the ability to research my phone purchase, I settled on a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. It is a beautiful phone that made me very happy for almost a year, but I have a couple of reasons for deciding to ditch it in favor of a newer, faster phone with a much bigger screen. The first reason I’m planning to upgrade is that buying my S7 Edge was not my choice. It was a decision forced upon me due to circumstances beyond my control in a moment of desperation. If given the chance, I would have held onto my Oneplus One for at least another year. Reason number two: the camera on my S7 Edge suffers from some pretty bad distortion. Perhaps it’s not noticeable to others, but I always notice it, especially in photos of buildings or other things that should appear perpendicular to the ground, but due to barrel distortion. Of course, the Samsung camera app which ships with the phone has a setting to reduce lens distortion, but that app on my phone does not allow the saving of RAW photos, so I usually choose not to use that camera.
Therefore, after reading all of the leaked information about the Samsung Galaxy S9+ I could get my hands on, I’ve decided to pull the trigger and buy one. In fact, shortly after rolling out of bed this morning, I parked myself on Samsung’s website, invested the time and effort in creating an account with my new address, and ordered myself a black 256 GB Galaxy S9+. I realize that it won’t ship for another week, but I feel very good, so good that I also ordered a phone case to fit it.
Will this new phone change my life? Yes! Yes, it will.
One of my favorite supermarkets to shop for imported foods like milk, cereal, lunch meat, butter, and cheese has been Metro. It’s a German company with stores in nearly every major city in China. The one nearest where I live is about a 45-minute walk each way, but it’s absolutely worth the trek, even if my shoulders nearly give out from carrying 4 liters of milk plus assorted coffee making ingredients.
On my most recent trip to my not-so-local area Metro, I was struck by just how empty the store shelves were. In fact, there were large empty spaces within the store where entire isles of goods had previously been displayed for sale. At first, I thought perhaps Metro had just been scrimping on the holiday pay during the Spring Festival my not having employees restock the shelves in order to save some money. But as I traveled deeper into the large warehouse, I found more and more such vacant areas. In fact, the entire office technology (my favorite) department was simply gone. It was at this point in the nearly fruitless shopping excursion that I hypothesized that the store must be depleting its stock in order to prepare for closure. Shit!
I continued to mull this idea as I continued shopping. I picked up 4 boxes of muesli cereal, 2 liters of milk from New Zealand, 2 plastic cereal/noodle bowls, and a bottle of Hersey’s Chocolate syrup. Other items on my list were nowhere to be found, including toothbrush, ham, cheese, butter, and bread. I suppose I’ll need to re-source these particular products because of what I found upon leaving the store after bagging my meager groceries.
Beside the exit stood a notification board (entirely in Chinese) which confirmed my hypotheses and explained why the store would be closing on February 25th. Of course, I had to use Google Translate to convert the text to English so I could understand it, and after doing so, a mild melancholic feeling descended over me as I trudged home, heavy with despair if not actual food-stuffs.
The next nearest Metro Supermarket location is at least a 45-minute metro (oh the irony!) ride away from home, but I doubt I’ll be making that trip anytime soon. I suppose I’ll just make do with the Carrefour, Bravo, Tesco, Lotus, and Walmart still within walking distance. Besides, I can spend the time I’ll be saving by not walking so far on less productive things like playing video games and binge-watching TV shows.
For the Love of the Game
Let’s see, what’s new? That’s really not a rhetorical question. I got bashed in the right eye by an errant elbow this afternoon in the school gymnasium while playing basketball with some hyper-aggressive (and slightly uncoordinated) teachers who visit from other schools every Tuesday to play basketball. This wasn’t my first basketball-related injury this group has inflicted upon my face. Last Tuesday a teacher went all viper-style on me, springing from his coiled position straight up into the bridge of my nose giving me a swollen schnoz and a black right eye. I’m sure I’ll have another shiner come tomorrow morning despite my early exit from the gym to ice down my face. Many of the players messaged me on WeChat to check if I’m OK, so that was nice. The sad thing is that I’ve already begun to change my playing style; becoming less aggressive on defense. Now it’s time to stop being such a ball-hawk on the boards as well.
The Taobao of Pooh
I recently joined the zillions of Chinese shopaholic in properly setting up a Taobao account, complete with online debit card payment (please don’t hack it!) and a correctly entered shipping address. Not only that, I successfully ordered a few things, and already received my first package, a replacement USB type-C power cable for my notebook computer. I know that doesn’t sound very impressive, but it’s going to save me from packing and unpacking a power cable every single working day. Now I’ll just leave one of the cables on my desk in the office. Yeah!
I don’t know how I missed it before, but I finally found the Walmart located at the nearby Wanda Plaza. I guess I must have walked right passed the unmarked entrance at least twice while wandering through the mall. I suppose I wasn’t looking for it because, according to Google Maps, there isn’t supposed to be a Walmart inside Wanda Plaza, but it should be across the street, right beside Carrefour; Google Maps fail.
I felt pretty happy about finding the secret Walmart, but they didn’t have the big can of coffee I wanted to buy. Instead, I bought a medium sized jar and one of creamer. I bought white sugar and brown sugar. I bought some seaweed snacky-snacks and some strawberry cream cookies. I also bought a couple of stainless steel forks with smiley faces on them. The last thing I picked and placed in my cart was a plastic container to put either sugar or oatmeal into. I haven’t decided which. Oh, and I bought a couple of salt/pepper shakers too. I think that’s all I bought at the secret Walmart.