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Winkflash review

I’ve got some painfully bare walls. Other than a guitar chord poster (and the free chord progression chart that came with it), a clock, and a drawing Tawin’s sister put on my wall when she came to visit from Hawaii, I’ve got nothing but a whole lot of white space.

Part of the problem is the double-edged sword of renting instead of owning the place you live in. On the bright side, I can move out at any time (not quite, but it’s still easier than if I owned a place); on the down side, I might move out at any time, so painting the walls—and then painting them back if/when I move out—is something I don’t want to deal with.

I needed a less permanent solution, so a few months back, I had a hundred of my Flickr photos printed onto Moo mini cards, but no matter how I arranged them, the tiny cards always looked out of place. Straight into the dark gray Ikea wire trash can they went.

I still think photos are my best bet for banishing the overwhelming amount of white that greets me every morning, though. The Moo mini cards didn’t work out, so I decided to go bigger–12×16 inch posters. Some quick searching revealed winkflash. The web site is ugly as hell (I’m talking web 1.0 ugly), but they had the lowest price I could find for posters, so I took a chance. Shipping was on the slow side, taking a week for my first print to arrive. Despite their poor web presence, I’m happy to say they do a damn good job at their core business of printing. Now I just need to find some good/cheap frames.

Beijing review: the pollution

I’m a bit hesitant to write up a multi-part review of Beijing since each part will undoubtedly end up sounding completely negative and I don’t want to paint myself as one of those guys that hates everything, but I really did hate Beijing and I’ll need more than one post to properly explain why I hate the place. Look at the bright side, at least this way you get some reasoning behind the hate, rather than me just writing “Beijing sucks, don’t go there.”

So, what’s wrong with Beijing? Where do I start? How about with the pollution. It’s everywhere. A lot of days it seems like a low fog has rolled in, but you know it’s not fog. You can’t mistake the smell of burning for the smell of fog. It’s so bad that when you blow your nose, everything in the napkin is black. Now, that’s not normal, but for some reason people in Beijing don’t realize that. My friend’s university professor actually asked her class of study abroad kids if the pollution was that bad. Black snot and the constant smell of BBQ? Yeah, that’s bad.

How did it get so bad? Industrialization.

Cloud factory in Beijing

You don’t have to travel far in Beijing to see one of these smokestacks pumping smoke out daily. (I took this photo right behind the Google building in Wudaokou.) According to good old Wikipedia (which you can’t read in China, by the way), the constant coal burning, construction, and other sources of air pollution have lead to over 500,000 deaths each year. Of course with the upcoming Olympics, China is trying to clean up the place, even going as far as seeding the sky in hopes of generating more rain. But that just makes me wonder, if they let things get this bad, do they even care about their people? Would they try to clean it up if the Olympics were being held in a city elsewhere in the world?

Random idea

Has anyone made something that lets you search for music simply by humming a bit of the song you’re looking for? You know, for those times when you can’t remember anything about the song other than its melody.