Stage 11

Mark Moran

Khalil Fong in Beijing

Got to do some work for Khalil in Beijing this past week and took photos from his Timeless concert on the 23rd of July.  It was great to be able to snap photos of the show and they hooked me up with some great seats too.

Here is a bonus photos, not included on my alivenotdead photo album:

View more photos here.

And a related blog post on wushuzilla.com here.

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Happy Belated 2011 ...

Its been a very very long time since I last blogged on AnD.  But to be honest, its been a long time since I've blogged anywhere.  Even on my own websites, narom.net or wushuzilla.com, I blog with an increasing lack of frequency.  Once a month?  Pssh .... I've apparently lost my blogging mojo. Thats okay though, because other things have been a priority these days.  A lack of blogging for me usually means an abundance of living.  I've also been focusing more on my photography than my writing, which is a different but related issue.I have a few creative projects on the back burner right now, but nothing I'm going to let out of the bag at the moment.  In the meantime, I'll post up a photo or two now and again just to let you all know that I'm still alive and breathing.Since AnD is an artist-related blogging system, I will post up more artist-related blogs -- specifically photo blogs, which I think are probably more interesting to you anyway.  (Plus it will let Pat comment easily on what I post   )Here is photo number 1:August 6, 2010

Austin, Texas, USA"Austin Sliders"Yes, they tasted as good as they look.

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Phlog: Mom on a Walk

Back again with another Phlog (photo blog).  This picture was taken during last summer's trip to the U.S.  (Think of this as my way of sharing what I've been up to for the past 9 months.)August 15, 2010 | Driggs, Idaho, USA |
Replies:@Seeker09 - Good to see you too@Flagday - Yes, it was delicious.  I'll try to keep in touch!@bvngo - Erm ... no.  But good try!

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Phlog: Shaanxi Opera

A friend of ours, Grace, started a project called "Journey to China" where she brings non-Chinese to experience various Chinese cultural arts/events.  For their first event they brought us to a Shaanxi-style Chinese opera school where we were introduced to various aspects of Shaanxi Opera. This photo is of a girl from the Ukraine who was used as a demonstration of Chinese opera makeup style and technique.  She was quite the trooper.September 17, 2010

Xi'an, Shaanxi, China

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Phlog: Adam SITing

Today's Phlog subject is Adam V.  Adam is a man of varied talents.  Originally from Scotland, he came to China after high school and took a year of Chinese language at Xi'an Northwest University (西安西北大学) and then enrolled as a student at Shaanxi Normal University (陕西师范大学) studying Chinese Literature.  4 years later he graduated and was ridiculously fluent in Chinese.   Now he works for a company that works on developing the capacities of young people through the arts.  He is an artist himself and his guitar skills are quite impressive.  He and his band of merry musicians play gigs around the city and we happened to catch them playing right next door to my university on Shi Da Road (师大路) at Scultping In Time Cafe (S.I.T. Cafe). (If you are in Beijing, you probably know of S.I.T. since they originally started in that city near the university area.  There are a few in Xi'an as well and they are quite popular.)Here is a picture of Adam playing with his band.September 4, 2010

S.I.T. Cafe, Xi'an, Shaanxi, ChinaYou can see more photos from this event here:  http://narom.net/2010/09/adam-at-sit-cafe/Replies:@Flagday - I love my MIL!  She's really cool.  You can learn more about her on her website here:  http://www.gaellenquinn.com/  You can pick up her book too, which is a pretty good read.  Check out the other photos of Moloka'i from my website too, when you have a chance.  They can be found in this blog entry:  http://narom.net/2010/08/summer-in-the-u-s-a-part-4-hawaii/

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Phlog: Moloka'i

Our last stop during the summer trip to the U.S. was to visit Ruhi's mom in Hawaii.  She lives on a small island called Moloka'i, located between Uahu and Maui.  Honest, I took so many pictures that I wish I could post here, but I'm trying to keep my phlogs to just one picture ... or maybe 2.   Okay .. 3.  But thats the limit for today.Twist my arm whydoncha? August 28, 2010Moloka'i, Hawaii, USAAugust 24, 2010

Dixie Maru, Moloka'i, Hawaii, USAIf you would like to see more photos from this trip you can view them on my website gallery here:   http://narom.net/cat/travel/usa-2010/  (eventually I'll put them on AnD, when I've had time to organize things a bit)Replies:@peachey: Actually, they can customize the pizza to have any combination of toppings you like.  So, if you want 25 slices, each with different toppings, they can do that.  Or if you want just one topping on the whole pizza you can do that too.  We picked three different types of toppings for each pizza - Hawaiian, BBQ Chicken and the "Roma"@mhough: Nice to see you too.@Flagday: Carbs aren't the enemy.  Sugar is!  It just so happens that a lot of carbs turn in to sugar. ;-) ... lol.

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Voiceover Demo and Work

Just thought I would share something here on alivenotdead.com, since it is related to my work as an "artist" (of sorts).

This past 6 months or so I've been getting some side gigs doing voiceover work for a few different corporate videos. One was for a construction company that had a display video at the Shanghai Expo, and more recently I did a video for the largest Kiwi fruit producer in the world (did you know Shaanxi Province is the world's largest Kiwi fruit production market?).

About a month ago I was asked to put together a demo of my voice.  So i spent a few hours and put together the audio file that you can see on my profile page.  It isn't exactly "professional" and I did it in a rush, but it was fun to do.  Not too bad for a tiny mic and my laptop.

I tried to give a few different types of voices.  One serious, one excited, one documentary-esque and one casual.  I used Adobe Audition to edit the audio files.

Let me know what you think!

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Phlog: Double Duty

Two pictures today since AnD didn't seem to load for me yesterday ... August 3, 2010 | Bucca di Beppo @ Santa Clara, California, USA |This is Xtina's son, Reeve (a.k.a. My Godson), licking a strawberry at the Cheesecake Factory in Santa Clara, California.
July 31, 2010 | Roma Pizzaria @ Arcadia, California, USA |Taken during a gathering of friends in Arcadia, this pizza is not photoshopped.  It is a 28" pizza!  And we went through two of them.  Just part of our 2010 pizza tour of the U.S. Replies:@peachy: yeah, the fries were excellent as well.]@rottendoubt: they most certainly were!@Flagday: They might actually be visiting us in the spring.  Depends on a few variables.

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Dumplings at Snow’s

Our friend Snow invited Ruhi and I, along with Fod and Lei, to her family’s home for some New Year’s dumplings.  Seeing as how it took place on our “free day”, we jumped at the chance and had a great time eating dumplings, watching some “Babies” and talking with friends.

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Stepping Off The Path

I realize that to the random observer (i.e. “you”) it might seem like I’ve fallen off the wagon with my wushu blogging and training.  I haven’t been training as much these days and haven’t been writing much about wushu either.

The truth is, there is a reason for this.  Maybe a couple reasons.

Focus and Work

The first is that I am trying to finish my tea before re-filling my cup.  Meaning, that I have a lot of things on my plate and I need to take care of them before I start focusing on my wushu again.  There are many projects that I’m in the process of clearing out of my work-load and in order to do that effectively I have to really spend some time and focus on them.

This also stems from my understanding that I am much more effective in my endeavors when I focus energy on just a few things (even just one thing) instead of trying to “multitask” my life into oblivion.  The truth is, multitasking is totally inefficient.  Just because you can do more than one thing at a time doesn’t mean you should.  In fact, I really think that one shouldn’t.

When you take the time to just focus on one important thing, doing it deliberately, with a concentrated effort and all your mindfulness, you are able to not only accomplish more in the long run, but you will get much more out of your task as well.

I used to write down a list of a dozen or so things that I had to do each day; a task list to end all task-lists.

Now?  I just write down the one or two things I really want to finish.  And I spend the necessary time to do each one.  It allows me to do better quality work and get the most vital tasks taken care of.

So often we distract ourselves with mundane tasks like checking social networking, organizing our to-do lists, cleaning our desks and keeping our e-mail inbox open at all time just in case something comes in.  Well, nothing is ever that important that you have to check e-mail on a constant basis.  I try to check only once or twice a day if I can.  And generally I just go through and answer them in batches once a day.  Facebook and the like, while a lot of fun, are actually a significant drain on my time and energy.  So I only check them once or twice a week.  I’m probably going to start reducing the “friends” list there too.

The idea is to spend less time doing the less important so that I have more time to focus on the truly vital.

I do mess up from time to time and get distracted, but I’m far from perfect.  and this is a skill that I’m developing, not an instant quick-fix.  It is a good practice though, and I think it relates to wushu too, since one of the distinctions I’ve made over the years with wushu training is that, unless you are totally focused on what you are doing in class, you won’t get the best benefit from your training.  You have to be totally present in mind and body with wushu, and that is the same with the rest of your life.

Why not treat your work or school like you do your wushu?  Focus on the basics at the start of every session, maintain your energy and create an optimal experience.  You actually end up needing to spend less time on tasks when you use more of your focus and energy.  As counter-intuitive as it might seem, not multi-tasking is actually more productive.

Anyway, so part of the reason I haven’t been focusing on my wushu training these days is because I want to focus on getting these work projects out the door, thereby allowing myself more focus on my wushu later on.  It is coming along and a few of my projects have started to get finished up.

Travel and Time

Another reason is the recent work-trips I’ve been taking to Hong Kong.  Traveling away from home means I have to cram a lot more of the things I do in Xi’an in much smaller time chunks.  So, I end up being much busier.  And while I’m home I feel it is most important to get my work done before I head off to the wushu guan.

That might just be an excuse, of course.  Maybe I’ve lost some of my motivation for training.  Since the athletes started training for competition I haven’t been able to get as good of a workout.  And I think I also have a fear of doing the “wushu start up” again, which is always quite painful.  (When you are away from wushu and start up, it is never easy — and gets harder and harder the older you are.)

I’ve even been thinking about switching from nanquan to taijiquan, as I think that might be a little easier on my body and something I could maintain for a longer period in my life.  Of course, if I just lost 50 pounds I would probably not have such a hard time training.  Again — I might just be making excuses.

In any case, a combination of a lot of travel with limited time and an increasing drop in motivation to train is probably the second reason I haven’t been as involved in my wushu these days.

Re-evaluation

I’ve also been going through a phase of re-evaluating my life.  Not in a major way, but at least Ruhi and I have been thinking about ways to create a life with less physical, emotional, social and professional “clutter”, so that we are able to have a lifestyle that is congruent with our belief that “less is more” and that you don’t need to inundate your life with “stuff” in order to be happy and fulfilled.

As you noticed from my packing system for trips, I try to be as efficient and uncluttered as I can.  I really don’t own all that much stuff to begin with.  But part of my personality is that I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient and uncluttered in my approach to various facets of my life; whether it is work, school, life or whatever.  There is always a better way to do something and always new distinctions we can make in doing more (things, work, happiness, fulfillment) with less (stuff, clutter, tasks, distractions).

We’re thinking about our work, about our living environment, our finances, and our involvement in activities to figure out what is the most important to us, the most ideal for our personal philosophies and figure out a way to integrate that with our lifestyle.

Some of the things we’ve been thinking about is eliminating some of the work we do.  Or changing where we live to a more efficient location for her school, our friend and our interests.

Anyway, it is a work in progress.

The gist of all of this verbose-ness is that, in order to find your way, you sometimes need to step off the path and think about your true destination.  The process of stepping back and thinking about your life is occasionally necessary and often times quite healthy, as it clarifies your mind, realigns your priorities and helps you step back on the path with a renewed sense of purpose and vitality.

So, here goes.  I am stepping off the path and taking a look at my life and what I am doing.

Feel free to join me.

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