The Inconvenience of Inspiration

Everyone who claims to be or considers themselves to be creative (and even those who don’t) are perpetually in search of that elusive light bulb idea. That one eureka moment that will propel them towards any manner of recognition or success.

Whether its your next painting, poem, blog post or business idea, inspiration is what we crave. I’m no different in this unending quest, but I appear to have developed a much more love/hate relationship when it comes to the notion of inspiration and I’ll tell you why.

I do happily get the odd flash of genius/inspiration, but every time I do so it always seems to arrive at the most inconvenient of moments. I’m sure I’m not alone in this frustration, whenever you don’t have a pen to hand to jot your idea(s) down, whenever you’re attention is truly needed elsewhere … etc. For me, all my ideas seem to form in the shower,  in this scenario there’s no possible measure for me to record these scraps of information or ideas that consistently float gently, seemingly on some invisible wind, in one ear and rapidly out the other. It’s almost like the giant ball of cash at the end of Crystal Maze (if you remember that, or know what it is … google it) except I don’t get to keep the money.

And here in lies the real inconvenience of inspiration. Much like that wonderful dream you were having you can never remember what you were thinking of. Despite all your best efforts, no matter how hard you try, you can never recall a thing not one tiny incy wincy morsel. These ideas your mind generates, these little gems possess, much to your own detriment, an incredibly short life span. So short in fact that by the time I’m out of the shower nothing remains but a faint glimpse, a feeling that for a moment I had all the ideas I’d ever have needed. But as quickly as they had appeared, they had vanished and I’m forced to resign myself to the fact that those ideas are gone forever. Although you may again, one day, conjure up something similar, it’ll never be exactly the same or sometimes even that close to its predecessors.

All is not lost, some of these ideas do emerge at the right time. Maybe that’s just how it goes, perhaps it’s destined, it’s meant to be or it’s fate. If you believe in all that than you can take some real comfort in knowing the ideas you are meant for will find you when you’re ready for them. For the rest of us, it’s just a matter of frustration after frustration until we hit a little streak of luck, and all the ideas we do need rush over us like a wave of brilliance just at the very moment we decide to pick up that pen.

[Image(s) from: Pixabay]

R.I.P: Here Lies ‘Seductive’ Banana Eating

Oddly not the strangest story to have been seen emanating from the Middle Kingdom, especially considering the recent crackdown on the more ‘vulgar’ aspects of the great wide web. It appears China has taken steps to ban the suggestive mastication of bananas online.

Avoiding the string of going bananas puns that have accompanied the various other write ups of this somewhat whimsical affair, we will delve in the heart of the story (ish).

Closing the lid on all sorts, from homosexuality (taking down a popular online homosexual romcom) to celebrities spreading foul language, the quest for purity throughout China’s internet continues.

Nationally the interest in live streaming is growing rapidly month on month. With hundreds of, mostly 20 something females, broadcasting their daily lives to hordes of, mostly male, viewers. Allegedly its a ratio sitting somewhere around 3/4 in the favour of the less than fairer sex. As you can imagine, the prospect of watching a pretty girl seductively devouring a phallic shaped fruit has done wonders for these said streaming stars’ fan bases.

These hostesses, depending on their popularity, can rake in between RMB 10,000 to RMB 100,000 a month. Comparably that’s £1-10,000 by encouraging their viewers to purchase them virtual gifts.

Reporting an article, written by Beijing Today, the Shanghaiist quoted:

Beijing Today describes the business from one young woman’s perspective:

Ding at first was hesitant to take up camming. During her first week online, she was criticized by her agent for “not communicating enough with her online followers.” Since then, she adjusted her style and won a large following. Her peak show drew more than 600,000 viewers who were eager to watch her change into expensive clothes she bought from South Korea.“My followers are mainly young men who are very vain,” Ding said in an interview with Paper.cn. “The rest are just people who want to hit on a young and beautiful model.”

Unfortunately the government hasn’t been so keen on the idea of so many hormone driven adolescents becoming so readily corrupted by health concious streamers eager to meet their recommended daily dose of potassium. Leading to the inexorable move to ban such raunchy behaviour.

What is truly unknown and, as of yet unreported, is the potential damage this strong course of action will cause to the lucrative banana trade. It is likely that both the production and purchasing of the fruit will be severely hampered, potentially putting thousands out of work! But, then again, this is pretty unlikely.

So, whilst for now this depravity and debauchery has been put to rest, how long will it be before these girls resort of chomping on other long and curved food stuffs? Or perhaps even more extreme measures to keep those hot blooded males entertained? Soon will the ban need to extend to the general prohibiting of food and it’s consumption via webcam? Only time will tell!

Job Interviews: The Good and the Bad (Not so much the Ugly)

It’s an almost unavoidable fact of life, like death or taxes. At one point or another you will have to face the prospect of enduring a job interview or two.

As it is, my tenure at the English Training Centre which has hosted me and my first job in China has come to an end. Which leaves me in the often tedious and sometimes ego/confidence/soul destroying avenue of job hunting. This road, which most of us have walked before, is traditionally and inevitably full of ups and downs, twist and turns along with sudden and mysteries drops, sharp cliff faces and self-erecting walls.

It is a stressful period in anyone’s life as much as it is an anxious one. We all know anxiety operates like a parasite, requiring a host to latch itself onto before it can grow and fester. Finding a new job is the perfect home for such a pest.

One of the things I dislike the most about the entire process, if you mange to get this far, is the dreaded job interview. Sitting in front of a person or panel in either an awkwardly informal or rigidly formal atmosphere whilst every word you mutter, every move you make is observed, scrutinised and judged. It’s not all together that pleasant. But, at the same time it is a perfectly understandable and therefore necessary evil.

What follows is a list of some of the good and some of the bad points of going through an interview:

Looking Sharp

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Dressing to impress has become a staple of job interviews. Donning a well made suit (or perhaps jeans, a shirt and waist coat if it is indeed a little more casual) not only infers a whole host of good impressions and connotations to your potential new employer. But it also just simply feels great. Dressing well is known to provide that little confidence boost we all need from time to time. Standing with good posture wearing the right outfit we all feel invincible, which is ideal. Especially considering the likely fact your nerves will begin to crumble as you draw ever closer to the wonderful cornucopia of scrutiny that is a job interview.

Worry, Stress and Anxiety

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As alluded to earlier, interviews aren’t always great on the old ticker. They are a minefield of over worrying, stress and building anxiety. It’s a cocktail of pure evil! Of course there are those people out there who just swim through them as if conducting a leisurely swim at the local community pool. I am not however, one of those people. I am constantly drawn to what could go wrong, or worrying about saying the wrong thing. Despite always allowing myself ample time to arrive at the interview’s location, I constantly fret about being on time. The quick tips and tricks on the internet are no place of solace, all they do is add to the worry. Am I now shaking this man’s (or woman’s) hand strong enough to indicate strength and confidence, or does it just appear as though I’m trying to cut off all circulation to their favoured appendage? Does my tie colour portray or express the right image? And God knows what else that runs through my mind.

Meeting New People/Sharing Experiences

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It’s always interesting meeting new people, whether that be your competition for the once in a life top job at the incredible competitive cut-throat company you’re sitting in the lobby of, or the interviewer themselves. On top of that, interviews are one of the only socially acceptable times where you are in fact encouraged to talk about yourself and nothing but yourself. As a species humans are notoriously infamous for their love of talking about themselves (unless you’re a parent, in which case all you do is talk about the wonderful achievements of your children). Understandably there are those who don’t like meeting new people or talking about themselves, but we are trying to keep things positive here.

Rejection

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No one likes to be told no. But it hurts even more when you’ve placed all your hopes and dreams (and possibly next month’s rent) on getting this job. After you put in hours after hours of research on the company, perfected your answers to all those awkward interview questions, look up videos about sailing through an interview and having gotten so close to the finishing line you could almost taste it, yeah it really hurts. It’s one of the biggest fear factors behind interview stress, what if they say no? What does that mean? Am I not good enough?

But fear not, there could be a hundred possible reasons why they didn’t choose you. Maybe the position closed, their budget or need changed, maybe someone else was just more qualified. Or yeah … maybe it was just you, but there are plenty more jobs out there, don’t give up on hope, don’t let them win!

There you have it, some of the good things and a little of the bad. Let me know how you feel about interviews and everything that entails in the comments section below!

[Image(s) from PlayBuzz, AskMenMyBodyTutor, CaliberMag, Ted]

 

Shanghai in Bloom

Spring arrived in a rather unspectacular fashion this year. The weather has been uncharacteristically spotty with intermittent rain piercing deep blue sunny skies and and sunny skies occasionally breaking through intermittent rain.

But the coming of spring generally signals the onset of the Cherry Blossom (Sakura) season. As Katsumoto said in The Last Samurai, you could spend your entire life in search of the perfect blossom and it would not be a wasted life …. or you know, something along those lines.

For me that perfect blossom came in Gucun Park, Shanghai. What follows is my amateur (and I have to emphasis amateur) photography celebrating the beautiful blossoms.

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So, let me know if you’ve had the chance to witness the blossoms this year, or at any other time. Where were you? Who were you with? And if you had any hints and tips for a photography newbie let me know in the comments below!

Perceptions of Beauty: East vs West

Continuing the current theme of discussions regarding the standards of beauty throughout the world and in Asia (China), here I aim to draw your attention towards a video recently released.

Panda Guides through one of their many WeChat groups regularly posts a series called Laowai Adventures seemingly running out of Beijing. The videos often try to tackle cultural topics and differences, interviewing and consulting with individuals from both the East and West.

This week, they decided to go for … you guessed it, beauty! More specifically in a video entitled: Laowai Adventures Survey: How Beauty Differs Between East & West they took to the streets of Beijing equipped with a camera and 18 celebrity photos (9 from the west and 9 from the east). They proceed to ask citizens of the East for their opinions about the western female celebrities on show and vice versa. (They promise to do a male celeb version soon).

To find out what happened follow the link.

Let me know what you think of the video and your views on the topic below.

[Image(s) from Chinatravelgo]

 

Perceptions of Beauty: A More International Angle

The way in which we look and why, how we are supposed to look, behave, act and why have always been very tantalising subjects. They touch upon many common cultural threads that are interwoven across the globe.

We have already discussed perceptions of beauty in Asia (China) and the cult of less than healthy body shaming challenges it has generated of late.

But more recently whilst browsing the depths of the internet I stumbled upon a survey that caught my interest. It was entitled: Perceptions of Perfection Across Borders. It was commissioned by Superdrug Online Doctor, with the purpose of better understanding the ideas of beauty internationally. The survey tasked 18 graphic designers (female designers as they wanted to examine the kaleidoscope of beauty from a women’s perspective) to Photoshop the same image into what they believed reflects their country’s cultural stereotype of beauty and perfection.

This compelling concept produced some pretty astonishing results, highlighting the sometimes vast differences in what different countries and cultures regard as beautiful. Perhaps a good indication of the fact that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

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Looking over the images the designers produced truly brings to mind the word variety. What appeals to both men and women from country to country from body shape to facial features even hair colour is remarkable. It’s something I wasn’t fully aware of until this moment.

What strikes me the most are the adaptations made by the Chinese designer. Compared to those around her, she stands out in just how skinny she is, especially when considering her more voluptuous counterparts from Spain or South America. Oddly she appears almost unnatural, a porcelain doll falling strictly in line with the cultural indicators of perfection that have come to be expected.
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The ideal body type in China weighted in at only 7.3 st (that’s 46.3 kg or 102 pounds), followed closely by Italy at 7.7 st. A fairly considerably difference to say Spain, who came in at 10.9 st. These figures were based on a woman at the height of a 5’5″.

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The survey also produced an estimate of what these women would weigh, arguing China’s example, according to the predicted BMI (Body Mass Index) would qualify as anorexic!

Of course this is all conjecture, but it does encourage you to pause and think for a moment. The survey is relatively small in scope in that only one designer featured from each country that is featured. The small sample size reflects what these individuals believe and perceive as the ideal, which is important to bare in mind.

Having said that, they seem pretty spot on considering some of the conversations I’ve had regard this subject.

So having a look at the information for yourself, what do you think? What are your ideas of the perfect female (figure)? Comment below.

[Images from ocmomblog, OnlineDoctor.Superdrug]