PDR Plus

“They keep coming up with these stupid computer things. There should be one damn computer thing, that’s it!”
— Robert Freeman

So now I’m on Google Plus. I remember when Facebook was new, people kept using it and I didn’t bother joining up. Then I joined up and now I like it. I don’t do much with it. I can send messages to people in a more efficient form than my email and I can play Scrabble and also there’s a program where I can keep track of books as I read them that’s pretty neat. I have no problem with Facebook. But some people do. They wanted something different so now Google Plus happened. I probably wouldn’t have joined, but Kiiip sent me an invite so I figured, why not?

And now I’m on two different social media things. I was never on the Myspace or the Twitter. I feel like it’s going to get all complicated and I’ll have to start putting more mental effort into it and that’s going to cause social anxiety. Like real life! And if computer-type socializing starts becoming as bad for me as real-life socializing? What then? What’s the point? Argh.

Ah well. I’m on there now, so we’ll see what happens.

The Marketability of Saving the World

So, going back as far as the old Geocities site, I have been linking to this one site where clicking on these icons they’ve got is supposed to help raise some money for some worthy causes. Apparently a bit of money actually does go to those causes, so I keep clicking. I think there was only three or four causes back when I started, but just the other day I noticed a new one, for helping homeless veterans. It seems like with this new edition it is as good a time as any to comment on something which has been bothering me for a while.

When you click on a cause’s icon it, as with any website in this day and age, shows how many people have “liked” it on Facebook. Each cause apparently having its own Facebook page, they each have their own numbers of “likers” and the numbers for each cause goes as follows:

Hunger: 67,871
Breast Cancer: 409,396
Animals: 368,019
Veterans: 4,765
Child Health: 24,292
Literacy: 24,626
Rainforest: 36,122

Okay, Breast Cancer is winning. I am not really surprised by that. For some reason breast cancer “awareness” has been a thing people have been concerned with for forever. Obviously I’m not pro-breast cancer or even cancer in general, but I’m going to complain about raising “awareness” for things that probably nobody is unaware of at this point. But here’s the thing: Apparently it worked. Almost half a million Facebookers bothered to like that page on the site (which actually sends money toward mammograms rather than just raising awareness, for the record). I mean, excepting the Animals one, the other causes don’t add up that high combines. People are aware.

Veterans comes in last place, but hey, it’s only a few days old. Next to last? Child Health and Literacy. I really would have thought that a lot of the people who would bother “liking” the page for Animals would also “like” the Children one. They’re both cute, aren’t they? And, just from my point of view, I would think that improving the health and literacy of our children would go a long way towards not only fighting breast cancer, but a lot of other problems by raising a generation well equipped to deal with them. I say we get some “Raise Better Kids Awareness” campaigns going maybe and try our hands at making a difference at it.

Of course, in reality it is entirely likely that people who “liked” the pages on Facebook just “liked” one as a means of “liking” the group, or even just “liked” one because somebody sent them a link and they’ve never even bothered going to the page. Basically, it isn’t a highly scientific way of me getting my informations, but hey, I’m just brainstorming here. Lemme alone.

A Brief History Of PDR On The Internet.

Patrick D Ryall has been on the computers for as long as he can remember. Starting with gaming on a Commodore 64 in the 80s I was at the forefront of the technological progress all the way to the present day. I was never doing much at the front line. Just standing around. But I was there.

And so I was on the Internet back when it was still pretty small. Not like super-small, but pretty small. I can remember those days when it was actually hard to find information on a topic you were looking for. Last week I searched Google for “show about a kid in a coma” and I totally found what I was looking for! As easy as that! In the olden days it was not that easy. I feel like I spent years going through Yahoo categories.

But in the end I never used my connection to the Internet to its full potential. If I’d known ahead of time I’d end up trying to create a website with comics and crap, I would have started early and built a fanbase and stuff. Instead, my time on the Internet was spent just looking at stuff that interests me and interacting with people as little as possible. Much like life in general.

The first time I remember joining a forum and participating in conversations and stuff was a board devoted to Quest for Glory Five, while it was in development. Wikipedia tells me that the game came out in 1998, so I figure my time on those boards was 1997ish. When the game finally did come out (not as good as its predecessor it has to be said. QfG4 ruled!) I moved on and left that forum behind. But it was around that time that I was combining my interests in World War Two with Superheroes and I ended up finding a website about World War Two-era Superheroes. Though there I found a link to some comic book message boards where I participated in conversations and became a small part of an online community. To this day, though I don’t post often, I still make sure to check the boards regularly and keep in touch with several people there.

That held me for a few years. But eventually my desire to be online more grew! I teamed up with my peeps and we needed a website! I remember at some point we came into owning LittleChoy.com but I have no idea how. And we never did anything with it, really. Oh well. Then came the Adam West Batcave on Geocities. That lasted for a while, but it was not enough. On Tuesday June 4th 2002 Contains2.com was launched. The Official Nonsense Homepage. There we could write about whatever we wanted and make stupid drawings and all that stuff. And so that is what we did. For a couple years. Eventually Contains2 started to die and I couldn’t hold it together myself so I came to this site, the Book of PDR making my first post on Friday April 28th 2006. And since then I have been here. Very here.

I avoided the Myspace thing, and probably some other social networking things, but I did end up on Facebook around Wednesday, April 18th, 2007 where, for my profile, I described myself as follows: “I’m kind of a weird loser with an immature attitude and delusions of grandeur. I claim to hate humanity, but it’s only because I love them and want them to grow up. I have a high opinion of myself, but no self esteem. I’m a goody-two-shoes that refuses to play by the rules. And I’m also kinda dumb.” and I have not changed it since. While I don’t do that much with Facebook, I am still there and like it.

So what does it all show? Not much. I guess it just proves that my history on the Internet is not all that interesting. So… History Post Done!

Oh Yeah, More China.

I’ve been putting off for no good reason, but I remembered a few more things about the trip to China that might be worth mentioning (at least because it’ll get me something to write about).

The first night we stayed in Kashgar there was a concert going on about a block from the hotel we were in. It was in front of a statue of Mao. Fireworks were going off, but there was apparently no attempt to time them to the music or anything.

The next day we were walking around and we saw a big jumbotron thing showing footage from the concert. The audience was not at all rapt. They sat their in matching businessperson shirts and watched with the same level of excitement I give the average episode of one of those home remodeling shows. With all those blank faces I can’t imagine why the cameras ever bothered turning away from the performers, who did seem to be giving it their all. I’m left assuming that attendance of the event was mandatory for those chumps.

Also, though it has come up in my Facebook comments, I have to comment that Neon Lights are apparently the future over there. If someone were to visit China two years from now and tell me that the government had begun installing neon lights on the trees, I would believe it, because they’re running out of space for them on the buildings.

And finally I will mention that on my second night in Shanghai, the night it poured rain and ruined my shoes, I also got a haircut. First they rinsed the hair in one chair, then washed it in a sink in the back, then cut it in a third chair, then rinsed it again in the sink again and then I got confused. They wanted to take me to the third chair again to blow-dry my hair. I don’t dry my hair usually. I let it dry itself in the air, so I felt like I was done after the second rinsing. We did not speak the same language and it took like two minutes for me to know what was going on. At one point the guy tried just using a towel on my head as I stood. It was awkward.

That’s it for now. I might put up another Facebook album like tomorrow or something. I’ll see.

Oh yeah, China.

I suppose I’ve let the site cool down enough after Marq overused it and risked causing a fire. I guess I should relate some tales of my trip to the Other Side Of The World.

I guess I’ll go chronologically. After a whole bunch of planes and the longest travel time I’ve yet experienced, I ended up in Shanghai. Terry and Buffy still had a day of teaching school left, so I got to see all the little kids they teach, which was cool. I found Shanghai to be quite humid and I totally sweat like a person smuggling nuclear cocaine into a police state. The second day there, though, it poured rain. By the end of that the shoes I’d brought were totally ruined and we had to buy me some new footwear. We also bought me some shorts to sleep in, because it had not occurred to me that what I usually sleep in might be a little not-enough for the trip. The footwear we ended up with turned out to be sandals. I generally am not a big sandal wearer, but these ones worked out pretty darn well, especially considering the amount of time we spent in the desert where full socks and shoes would probably have been way too much. Oh, we also bought a bag for me to carry around which was smaller than the big one I planned to use. Not a bad idea either.

Anyway, as I mentioned we went to the desert. The bulk of the trip was spent in the province of Xinjiang, which is the Westernmost part of China. We totally flew to a place called Urumqi and then another flight to Kashgar and that was where we began our travels.

In Kashgar we totally got to see markets and bazaars and the like. People there really want to sell you stuff. I’m a total sucker for salespeople and in most cases would probably be talked into buying stuff or feeling bad, but Terry and Buffy were much better at handling this. Plus, since I didn’t speak the language I was mostly not the target of anyone’s attempts. Also, haggling is a big thing there and I am totally not used to that. As a self-hating and money-hating person, I’m generally okay with paying ridiculously marked-up prices. It’s how I rid myself of all that currency I neither want nor deserve, y’know?

Referring to my notes, I see that on the Thirtieth of June it was that we took a camel tour. That is to say we rode out into the desert on camels. Now we didn’t ride out very far. We pretty much just went out to the first couple dunes and looked out on the rest. And the ride was shorter than advertised as well. But I was okay with it. I’d never ridden a camel before, so that was neat and I’d never seen desert sand dunes in person so that was neat (and ran my hand through the sand, as well). Though as we were out there the wind kicked up and we got lots of sand blowing into our faces. I couldn’t put my teeth together without chewing sand for hours afterwards.

Another cool plus for that part of the trip is that the three of us went on this camel tour with four other travellers all of whom seemed very nice and gave us companions for various other excursions during the remainder of our days in Xinjiang.

The next significant segment of the journey was a ride up into the mountains to see this cool mountain lake (which I’m afraid I don’t remember the name of). Though an hours-long trip through lovely mountains was there to break it up, I was particularly impressed by seeing snow after having been in the desert so soon before. I was able to appear impressive by simply knowing what a yurt was ahead of time. The way to be a successful idiot is to make it appear as though your idiocy is a ploy to cover some hidden intelligence. Though we did not sleep overnight in the yurt, we all had a good nap before we went back to our hotel.

Sometime later we left Kashgar via rail. We rode a train through the desert to Turfan. I think I slept more than usual on the train, because it was supposed to be twenty-some hours but didn’t really feel that long. We’d opted to pay for sleeper rooms so we’d have beds. Terry and Buffy told me of times they’d just got seats and had to sit there for terribly long and crowded rides. Myself only having experienced this way, I can say kinda like train travel.

Turfan is another nice little desert city. One thing I really liked was the big roads that were trellised by these grapevines to allow for shade (there’s a picture on the Wikipedia page even). While in this town we also saw a mosque with the tallest minaret in China, the remains of a fort that was probably pretty impressive back in the day what with being on this plateau thing and some little village I didn’t catch the name of which seems to have less people left than it once did. Also that village had the remains of some Buddhist temples that had been defaced when the town was invaded. Also in Turfan we used an Internet cafe which looked pretty much as one of those would be expected to look, though dim lighting and air conditioning are pretty nice in the desert. The Internet is not easy to use over there, though. Oh and we ate at a place called Best Food Burger which has my favorite name for a fast food place because of the sheer confidence it exudes.

Oh yeah, speaking of food I forgot to mention that we ate a Pakistani place back (I think) in Kashgar. It was really good and I find myself wishing such a place were around here. It’s not like my street here doesn’t have a million restaurants already. For the most part I enjoyed the Chinese food as well. We ate way more than I generally do. I know more than one meal a day is supposed to be healthy, but it takes some time for me to train myself to manage it. But as I said, I liked the food. And I didn’t seem to embarrass myself with the chopsticks either.

Okay where was I? Right, so we left Turfan and took a bus back to Urumqi. On the bus they played some Bollywood movie which didn’t look all that great but I was amused that when the main character went on a revenge driven quest to kill the criminals who, (I think) killed his wife and an elderly man (his father? his fighting master? I don’t know) he wore a leather jacket with the American Flag on it. That flag will become visual slang for “Gonna Kick Some Ass” before we even know what happened.

We were mere moments too late at Urumqi airport and we missed our flight (overzealous but obviously confused cab company owner leading us on a mad chase for one of his cabs didn’t help with that…) and we ended up spending an hour or two trying to get money off of credit cards and ended up spending the night in a hotel before we were finally able to fly back to Shanghai in the morning.

Since I had to leave the day after we got back to Shanghai (and Terry and Buffy move the day following) there isn’t much else to tell. They apparently didn’t quite feel right putting me to work on my vacation (though I’d not have minded) so I spent most of the time that remained simply relaxing. Then I got back onto a plane and eventually made it back here. I think that’s about it.

All in all I think I had a pretty awesome trip. My next travels can not come soon enough. I have a first batch of pictures up on Facebook for those who can see that. When Terry and Buffy have finally got around to making their own albums I’ll make a second with whatever pictures are left over. We certainly have enough of them.

And once again I must give a sincere Thank You to Terry and Buffy for letting me come with them on that trip. Hopefully I wasn’t much trouble to carry around. Thanks guys.