December 19, 2013

  • Xanga Still Has Great Potential

    In my last post, I ranted about some of the negative aspects of Xanga 2.0. However, in this post, I want to emphasize the good things about Xanga 2.0. First, I find that it’s a very smooth and reliable platform. I find that everything feels more polished, more cohesive and simply less confusing than Xanga 1.0. I also find that Xanga has done a great job of maintaining old posts and transferring them to this new platform (no easy task). These are great things to build on. Of course, it is still my hope that Xanga puts together some sort of front page. But this should be obvious to the Xanga staff, and my guess is that they’re working on it. I also think it is imperative that Xanga becomes free again, if they want to ever seriously be considered as a viable option for most people. In other words, why pay for something that Blogger and many other sites offer for free?

November 19, 2013

  • Xanga is great. At making up excuses…

    Dear Xanga,

    It has been several months, and still no Xanga front page. Xanga has always been about community, and without a front page, there is a severe absence of any sort of community. The front page right now is so ugly that I could create a more visually attractive front page in 5 minutes – using Microsoft Word. This slowness is absolutely ridiculous, insulting and unacceptable to all of us who supported Xanga with time and money. This slowness is one major reason why Xanga is in this mess to begin with. I’ve been defending Xanga for a long time, but I’m not about to defend the length of time it has taken to make Xanga’s front page into something that isn’t butt-ugly. Dear Xanga, stop with excuses, and start doing your damn jobs.

    Sincerely,

    Pete

September 8, 2013

  • Living in China

    I’ve been living in China for almost 9 months now. I will likely come back for another year after December. I enjoy the financial opportunities, the kindness of most of the people here, learning the language and experiencing another culture. There is a lot of money in China, and I agree with many of the predictions that view China as the next biggest economy in 2017. For this reason and many others, I believe it will be beneficial to know the Chinese language and culture. Still, I am a bit sad to see the once “untouchable” America losing ground in the world economy.

    In 10 years, will the USA still be the most powerful country in the world?

July 18, 2013

July 10, 2013

  • I’m an 8-year Xangan, and I support Xanga 2.0

    For me, seeing Xanga survive is personal. Back in the day when Xanga was uber popular, many of us were lucky enough to get featured several times, and it was always fun seeing one post (or picture) receive thousands of views and several hundred comments. I also loved beta-testing for Xanga on occasion as well as instant messaging with Xanga staff. This was my first blogging experience, and I loved the fact that there was a huge platform and network for creativity.
    Then, in 2006, the Feds fined Xanga $1 million for what I consider a technicality, which you can read about Here. This fine hit Xanga at the worst possible time, just as Myspace was taking off. While Xanga desperately needed to focus on competing with Myspace, they instead were forced to focus on hiring lawyers and paying stiff fines. 
    Of course Xanga made some mistakes along the way, and they regularly say that they are bringing back the simplicity of early Xanga. I think this is a wise move. However, I hope that Xanga doesn’t abandon their Video, Audio and Photo hosting. Xanga’s addition of multimedia blogging gave many people, myself included, an alternative to all of the bloated and ad-saturated multimedia sites. 
    Perhaps this is my final post on the oldschool original Xanga site. It is kind of sad, since Xanga was a huge part of my life for a long time. I don’t expect the new site to be quite as popular, at least at first. But with this “new lease on life”, Xanga is acknowledging and directly facing the issues at hand, rather than sweeping them under the rug or simply selling out. That is something I can support.
    Sincerely, Pete (formerly known as “pedrothepoet”)

    Do You Support Xanga 2.0? 

June 20, 2013

  • An English Lesson Gone Bad

    In addition to teaching guitar and some basketball, I am also teaching some English in China right now. To keep the English lessons fun, I often buy new English kid’s books from a local Chinese bookstore. While most of the books are very good, I’ve noticed not all of them use proper grammar all the time. In fact, I think some of them use Google Translate sometimes.

    Last week, when reading a new book with a student, I realized I need to start “screening” kid’s books. Basically the book was a funny kid’s book about where to throw a booger. Yet in one line, the book called boogers “nose shit”! Unfortunately, my student ended up loving this book more than any other book, and her parents even asked me if she could borrow it!

February 24, 2013

  • A Glimpse of Heaven

    In February of 2011, Chicago experienced a massive blizzard. During the peak of of this record-breaking blizzard, two friends and I had the brilliant idea of going for a drive. My one friend owned a 4 wheel drive Jeep, and we arrogantly thought we would be fine. Needless to say, we were wrong,  and we got stuck pretty badly. But after an hour or so of pushing in the below zero temperature, the car miraculously budged from the snow bank. In a moment of bliss, we quickly jumped in and inched our way towards safety. On the way home, we passed many cars that were not so fortunate. Yet the conditions were so horrible that we could not stop. Stopping would pretty much guarantee that we would get stuck again. 
    On our way home, as we passed dozens of cars in ditches, I wondered what uncomfortable situations awaited the people in those cars. I imagined that a family with crying children occupied the first car. I imagined that a married couple with a rocky relationship occupied the next car (maybe this extended alone time was a foreign concept to them?). I imagined the next car contained a 16 year old guy taking a girl on their first date (maybe he knew the weather conditions in advance)? 
    Upon arriving at my friend’s house, I realized that we dodged a rather uncomfortable bullet. If we were not able to get his Jeep out of that ditch, our night of comfort would have been traded for bitter cold, empty stomachs and a likelihood of being trapped in the snow for at least 24 hours (as many people were). Even worse, there was only one small blanket for 3 grown men…
    Listening to the wind whistle fiercely outside, we had never appreciated the warmth and comforts of home so much. We threw a couple of pizzas in the oven, cracked open a few cold drinks, and cycled between playing Madden football and watching Netflix movies. These newly appreciated comforts, along with the knowledge that my work was definitely going to be cancelled the next day, gave me a short, unexpected glimpse of heaven.

January 29, 2013

  • Living in China

    The Good

    I’ve been living in China for about a month now. It’s been good so far. It’s fun seeing new things, meeting new people, living with my brother’s family and experiencing the night life a bit. I’ve already made some great friends, and don’t have a lot of bored time. The Chinese people have been friendly overall, and there is definitely less violence here than in Chicagoland. It is nice to feel safe walking the streets, even at night. Overall, I am a pretty happy guy. 

    The Bad
    It’s very difficult getting used to commanding a group of kindergarteners for my basketball coaching job. It makes it especially more difficult that they can’t speak English very well, and it is for 1.5 hours per coaching session. I’m not inherently a commanding, authoritative speaker. Far from it. That being said, I have had great feedback as an assistant coach from my boss. What else is difficult in China? Well, I terribly miss my parents, my family and my other friends. Not to mention some of my favorite stores such as Whole Foods, Fruitful Yield and Chipotle.
    The Ugly

    At my old age, I’m not sure I’ll ever get married. It’s not a complaint – It’s just a possibility that I know exists. Still, I want to improve my ugly dating life. For me, it’s more about simply allowing my natural feelings to come out. If I feel attracted to a woman, which happens a lot in China, sometimes I try and stifle or redirect those feelings, rather than letting them out naturally. Love is natural. I need to “let it flow” more, even if it isn’t necessarily romantic love. This begins by surrounding myself with friends, and it concludes with the life-giving, incredibly natural, definitely essential, very human words, “I love you”.
    Conclusion

    I’m very glad I came to China. I think that living in another country/culture really opens up your mind to how people live. There are difficulties and adventures both ahead and behind. I just need to take a deep breath and learn to embrace this beautiful gift called life.

December 4, 2012

  • Did Guns Cause Jovan Belcher Shooting?

    It is a horrible tragedy that KC Chiefs football player Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and then himself with a gun. It seems that this tragedy is igniting the old debate about gun laws. For example, Jason Whitlock, a Fox Sports columnist, referred to the NRA as the new KKK (link). Also, Piers Morgan is attacking gun laws on his Twitter:

    In your opinion, would Jovan Belcher have killed his girlfriend if he didn’t own a gun? 

    Also, if guns were completely outlawed, do you think Belcher would have observed those laws, or would he have somehow found a gun anyways? 
  • Is Obama Still a “Messiah”?

    1) Newsweek editor Evan Thomas once called Obama “a sort of God”. Chris Matthews from MSNBC was quick to agree:

    2) Check out Newsweek’s sarcastic cover about Obama titled “God of All Things”
     
    3) Artist Michael D’Antuono’s recent painting titled “The Truth” features Obama with his arms outstretched and wearing a crown of thorns upon his head:

    4) The leader of the Nation of Islam Louis Farrakhan once called Obama “The Messiah” (Link). 
    5) Comedian Jamie Foxx recently called Obama his “Lord and Savior” (Link).  
    6) Film maker Spike Lee once compared Obama to Jesus saying that after the election, history will remember this time as “B.B.” (before Barack) and “A.B.” (after Barack) (Link).
    7) Author Mark F. Bozzuti-Jones wrote of Obama “And the child they had was given the name That One, the Blessing, the One who Confronts and wins the victory: Barack Hussein Obama, a Blessing for all peoples” (Link)
     
    8) Several celebrities including Whoopi Goldberg and Dave Stewart referred to Obama as an “American Prayer” in an original song (Link). 
    9) Singer MAKADEM wrote a song called “Obama be thy name – Thy will be done” (Link). 
    10) Some mainstream magazines have pictured Obama surrounded by radiant light and even halos:
     
    In your view, do people place too much hope in politicians? If so, can this set them up for disappointment?