Tuesday, December 30, 2003

What to Blog?

Over the past few days I've been wondering about what a blog is. Before I started blogging, I read a book called The Weblog Handbook, by Rebecca Blood. In the book she talks about how a weblog should have links and link text. Also, she says that if you're don't link to other sites and talk about the, then you just have a journal or a diary. This point stuck with me for a long time: I wanted to write a blog, not a diary or journal. I looked at Blood's blog, Rebecca's Pocket and it covered several online news articles with commentary on each. Her blog was one of the original blogs, created in 1999. Boing Boing and Slashdot were also mentioned in her book as examples of famous blogs. Both fit the description Blood gave of what a blog should be. That's what I thought I should strive for or else I'd just have a public diary.

Before I started blogging, looked for blogs centered around specific subjects. I was planning on going to China with my friend, so I looked about blogs about China. One of the first blogs I found was Sinosplice. Sinosplice had one of the key features of a blog according to Blood; It linked to several other blogs. I looked at a few other blogs on the list, but only one interested me. Leylop's blog looked interesting and engaging so I spent time reading her site. However, both Sinosplice and Leylop's blog didn't fit Blood's description of a blog. They resembled journals or diaries instead. Other "blogs" I found also functioned like diaries/journals.

Then I remembered another part in Blood's book about a dispute between the new and old bloggers over what a blog is. Both sides said that it had a real blog and the other did not. So what is a blog? Leo Laporte said something like "an easy way to create a website; that's really what a blog is." Does it really matter what you write in a blog as long as it entertains or teaches people? Many bloggers do entertain others with their lives. One couple, who live ordinary lives, entertain people with their daily lives (warning: comment deleters). It reminds me of a reality TV show where you get to see details of people's lives filtered by TV crews, only this time you read about their lives filtered by themselves.

Other bloggers interweave details about their lives and with several links to external sources. Anjipatchwork and KEC Journal do this.

So what should I blog? Just whatever I want to I guess, even if it does sound like a diary/journal. This is something I wanted to avoid, though. Just the thought of entertaining people about my business was absurd since I would not be getting paid for it. But I guess I could get paid for it if I sold my space to advertisers (with a blogger/blogspot pro account of course). I'm in capitalist mode now, but when I get out of it I'll just want this blog for me and really nobody else. I've just discovered the blockquote tag so there'll probably be more articles.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Make Fire Without Matches

Some people just have to prove the superiority of the human mind by using it every once in a while. One thing that separates humans from other life forms is our ability to control fire. This man documented is task to make fire without matches. I didn't read the site because I am a broadband user that just flips through the pages looking at the pictures. There is a special treat for us on page 5.

Backpacking in Italy 2003

Here is an excellent photojournal of Toan Thai's trip to Italy. Each photograph has a description and is set up in a beautifully created webpage. A highly recommended photojournal.

More Statistics

Want more statistics about the world's countries? Check out NationMaster.com. This site allows to to research a variety of statistics for every country in the world. You can even compare the stats of two or more countries. Which country has the most internet users per 1000 people? Iceland, then Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands. The U.S. is seventh and Japan is 18th. Who spends the highest percentage of its GDP on military expenditures? North Korea. One of my teachers told me it was the U.S., but that's not true, we're 43rd. Now there's no excuses for wrong information. Most of the information is free to anybody who wants it. Nationmaster.com is a pretty good site.
Link via Call For Help

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

No Fair

The Japanese's electronics are more advanced than ours and they're not sharing everything. I think they're keeping their toys just so they can taunt and make us jealous. Big GPS navigators with pictures of buildings and a first-person view! This product will debut in the U.S. in 2007, costing around $12,000. Image via Joi's moblog

Sunday, December 21, 2003

CIA World Factbook

When I want to find out a fact about a certain country I go to the CIA World Factbook. It's got a ton of facts about all the countries in the world and it's updated regularly. Check it out, use it, learn something.

Learning Japanese

Interested in learning Japanese? Check out this site, written by a major in Japanese. It's a long read, but funny and interesting. I wonder if there's an Interested in Learning English page.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003


I finally figured out how to write my name in Japanese. I've been trying to mimic the Japanese form of my name on my computer, but it never worked. I thought if I just typed normally, it would automatically convert it into Japanese. When I tried to do it, all I got was ジェッシカ, and that looked different from the original version. Now I found this site, which tells you how to say your name in Japanese. It doesn't work in Safari though, but it should with IE.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Europe and Italy

This is a funny flash movie about the differences between Europe and Italy. The blue circle with the 12 yellow stars is the European Union and the circle of the Italian flag is Italy. Italy is part of the EU, but they've singled it out in this flash movie. My favorite differences are coffee and politics. I've never been to Italy, so I don't know much about the differences in the movie. Do you recognize any of them? My mom's German colleagues say that the Autobahn is worse than the Italian highways. It's light-hearted and fun if you're not too politically correct. I hope the creators do other countries too.

Link via Joi Ito

Friday, December 12, 2003

Iranian Telecommunications

The Telecommunication Company of Iran is way ahead of the rest of us. They started in 1379, so they've had a bit more time to develop than the rest of us.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

The Longest Line

The Japanese must love Apple products more than anyone else on the planet. This video proves it, because the line's longer than any I've ever seen. Those people may still be waiting to get inside. If I was in Japan at that time, the opening of the Apple store would've been an event that I'd skip.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

No China

No more China for me. That's just during winter break though. I've cancelled my winter trip to China for a number of reasons. This just happened to coincide with a debate on Leylop's blog about what foreigners/Americans think about China. It seemed liked people were saying that the media was real negative about China, and consequently people have a negative opinion about China. There was hardly any evidence of the media casting a negative opinion of China, no articles, no specifics, none. A person who doesn't read or watch the news wouldn't know anything about what the media says, so some examples would be helpful.

It was a pretty uninformative debate, and nobody really learned anything. It's hard to say what you want to say, and it's even harder to say it well. After the debate, I figured out who can do this and who can't. When I look up things on google, several blogs show up on in the results.

I'm not going to China because we can't fit it in the schedule. The schedule is made up of time, money, interest, and knowledge. It's not too late to book a flight to China, but we would've liked to have more time The U.S. dollar's tanking, making travel more expensive, and we like to save money. Also, I'm not as interested in going to China as I was before, and my mom probably didn't care as much as I did in the first place. I think she wants to go to Brazil instead. We don't know anything about traveling to China and I don't have time to find out everything I want to, so going unprepared is not smart. I'll get to go some other time.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

No Visits to Cuba

Since Castro says the Cuban revolution will outlast Bush and himself, I guess it's still going to be difficult to visit Cuba. The Caribbean is not one of my top travel spots, but I saw this documentary on Cuba a long time ago, and ever since I've wanted to go there. Bush is making it harder for Americans to visit there, even academics and business people have a hard time visiting. I heard that if you go to Cuba, you can't really buy anything, not even toilet paper. Normally, going to a place without access to toilet for whatever reason turns me off from visiting. However, this time that doesn't phase me. Learning more about Cuba's my first task, so it'll be a while before I go.

Friday, December 05, 2003


Research presentations done! End of the semester approaching and less homework means more posts! I think it went pretty well. My research paper was on Chinese immigrants and my presentation was on U.S. and EU trade relations. This period of time is called catch-up time because I, like many others, have put off doing work for a few weeks. It doesn't completely taint the pleasure of my recent accomplishments, but it's still a bitter thought in the back of my mind.

Clutterers Anonymous

I think my dad and I need to start this program. I can through things away, but I have an emotional attachment to all my possessions. My dad's case used to be more extreme. He would save everything. Months old newspapers, empty orange juice cartons, and empty tuna cans. My mom cleaned him up a little, but now she's moved out, so he's starting to return to his old ways. If I throw something out it's like losing a pet, and my dad sees the usefulness of everything like he's McGuyver, but he doesn't actually use anything. CLA should hopefully cure us.

Sitio del Gobierno de la Republica de Cuba

The government of Cubahas a website and it's got an English counterpart. It wasn't blockaded by Google, so it was easy to get to. If only it was easier to actually visit Cuba.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Who Knows?

"Reports that say something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. "We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know." --Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense