** Very important to eat them .... taboo ***
*** *** Shrimp + orange = dead **
** Eat them drink orange juice is suicide, when **
*** Shrimp + vitamin C = arsenic ***
Taiwan, the night the girl died suddenly ** ***
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
don't eat shrimp with orange juice and vitamin C, it will make "有毒的三鉀砷 (即亞砷酸酐)，又稱為三氧化二砷， 其化學,式為(As2O3) " you'll die right away... sorry to irritate yo
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Monday, December 06, 2010
Sunday, December 05, 2010
Colma is a small incorporated town in San Mateo County, California. The town was founded as a necropolis in 1924.
With much of Colma's land dedicated to cemeteries (17 for the interment of humans and one for pets), the dead population outnumber the living by thousands to one. This has led to it being called "the city of the silent," and also has given rise to a humorous motto among some residents: "It's great to be alive in Colma."
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
no really, ??!?!!?
i love j.!!!!
did j. have anything to do with that?
i love j.?!!?
i love you!!!!
wait am i reading this correctly
why do you love j.?
what about ME?!!??!!?
me: you too but first j.!!!!
what does j. have to do with anything?!
me: oh i don't know
just a guess
S.: why did you guess j.?me: LOVE OFMY LIFE!
am i right?
S.: tell me why you thought of j. immediately!?
Saturday, November 06, 2010
I don't mean to sound triumphalist. All I mean to say is that on Wednesday I was as interested in the people around me as I was in trying to catch a glimpse at my favorite ballplayers. I took a bunch of photos with this fancy new camera I bought last week.
I don't know if I found the oceanic feeling. The mood was mixed. People were getting irritated at the heat, the crowd, and the invisibility of the hometown heroes. I freaked out because the cell towers were all clogged up from the crowd and I got a work email 45 minutes after it had been sent. Even so, when Tim Lincecum's bus passed on McAllister, giving us a split-second look at our long-haired super Freak, we all cheered him like a champ.
- May 14 regular season game at the stadium. R. and C. and I took Caltrain up and met O. and N. Spent 2 1/3 innings walking around looking for hot dogs and garlic fries and admiring N.'s toe cleavage, and most of the game checked out of the action on the field. A view of the water and the shipping containers all the way over on the Oakland side of the bay. R. and C. and I took the train home with the entire Palo Alto Swim Club boy's team, about two dozen white, Asian, and hapa kids with skin browned to almost the same color as their chlorine-lightened hair.
- Game 4 of the NLDS. Came down from my office to watch half an inning with my colleagues in the lunch room. Beloved partner P. looked bemused and said, "Do you follow baseball?" This warm beam of attention alone made the entire baseball season worthwhile.
- Game 2 of the NLCS. Went to W.'s house in Fremont with O. He cooked balut and fried fish for us while we watched the Giants implode. They lost 6-1. My very first balut was tasty! No little duck beak or face or bones, as I had feared, and only a savory, brothy flavor with a hard cap of egg white and a slightly veinier, tougher yolk.
- Game 5 of the NLCS. Met chatty Cathy and her less chatty friends at Antonio's Nut House. Beer, peanuts, baseball, and solitude (+ Cathy) = nice.
- Game 1 of the World Series. Met R. at her house, where she had been waiting for two hours to start watching the game. She came to the door going, "Wheee!!!!!" and clapping her hands in excitement. C. successfully stayed awake for the entire game. R.'s fitness challenge for the game was to do 10 burpees per run scored. Most Giants games this season have been low-scoring games, 3-2, 1-0, etc. World Series Game 1 ended with the score at 11-7, so . . . R. did 180 burpees! My fitness challenge was eating Cheetos.
- Game 2 of the World Series. R. and C. and I went back to Antonio's Nut House. Chatty Cathy and her crew were there; I waved. We grabbed seats in the front and watched the Giants dismantle the Rangers. R. and I made orange pom-poms with the yarn from a discarded knitting project - a wedding blanket for me, but the marriage ended before the knitting did, ehhhh, so we turned the yarn into rally poms. We also wore our matching Brian Wilson beards, which we'd picked up a few days before at a Halloween store where a California stoner dude had asked us in his low, druggy voice, "So, uhh . . . where you guys get those beards at?" We pointed him to the beards aisle.
- Game 3 of the World Series, Finnerty's in Manhattan. R.M. and R.T. met me at this densely packed bar. Poor R.T., trying to read her Stephanie Meyer novel on her iPhone while meatheads pushed past her to get to the bar. Eventually she succumbed to the television and R.M. and I took turns explaining to her the rules of the game. Met R.M.'s friendly Fresno folks, observed some people flirting, listened to some idiots behind me talking loudly about girls with fake boobs.
- Game 4 of the World Series, Pacific Station in Brooklyn with S., who tried to escape her baseball-watching duties by eating her pre-game baigan bharta very slowly. Found seats on a bed buggy couch next to a man in a Buster Posey jersey reading Foucault. S.'s initial irritation at her girlfriendly obligation turned into mild interest in the game. Tried to teach her about pitches but I couldn't get clear in my head the difference between a breaking ball, a cutter, and a slider. We made out in the corner between innings, and left when it was clear that the Giants would win. Sorry for writing that, but I'm really proud of the fact that you will make out with me!!!
- Game 5, as described above.
Friday, November 05, 2010
Monday, November 01, 2010
S. called and said, “Guess where I am calling from? You’ll never guess.” I guessed. Hotel? Potomac? D.C.? All wrong: in a Marshall’s store in Pentagon City, Virgina. It was across the street from her hotel, and she was shopping with T. She asked me what I was doing. “Looking at maps,” I said. I was going up to Sacramento later in the day. We talked about this and that, but mostly S. prattled on about what she experiencing at the store. She paused for thirty seconds to take a call. It was T., calling from pants. Do you need to go? I asked. “No, we’re all caught up!” she said. She said, “Oh! Were your canoe shoes with jiaozi detail a brand called J. Company?” No, I said they were more name brand, and that canoe shoes with jiaozi detail were a popular style this year. I had seen several of the same kind. She said, “I want to buy these shoes. So cheap! And these! Oh no! So expensive. Sixty dollars?!”
T. came over with some potential purchases, and S.'s voice rose an octave as she said, “I like this one. Oh, this one is really cute.” Then it suddenly dropped. “This one—don’t get it; you never wear red.” I concurred and advised T. not to cause cognitive dissonance. The T. I know has never worn red. They were inspecting, according to S., “A bright red blouse, and a bright blue blouse.” T. went to the register, and S. said, “I wish you were here at Marshall’s with me.” She speculated that she would make me try lots of clothes on. “I would just get bored and wander over to the bargain bin and bags,” I said. “That’s right, you would probably go and try perfumes, you would open the boxes and spritz yourself,” she said. I said that’s what boxes were for, to be opened. She said, “No, they’re not.” I protested: I would repackage the perfumes.
I told S. that I loved to listen to her voice, and that hearing her moving around the store was like listening to a chaotic radio piece. I wasn’t used to other events happening while we talked on the phone; though often I am walking or biking or driving while talking, S. is most often stationary and indoors (except when walking to the subway). I said the sound coming through the phone was like War of the Worlds. She expressed interest in “sweater boots.” What are sweater boots? “Oh, you know, boots that look like sweaters. The least practical thing in the world, but they look so warm.” She said, “This store is so absurd. Clothes are so absurd. Look at this: leggings with buttons down the side!” I said, “I know, why can’t there just be 5-10 practical styles for us to choose between?” “Oh no,” she said, “I like clothes.” I related to her my broken windows theory regarding shopping: Marshall’s is chaotic, so it feels appropriate to deepen the chaos, and to not rehang items you’ve tried on. S.: “Oh, you’re so right, T. and I totally just draped this shirt over the rack.” Some smocks caught her eye. “I love plaid smocks!” I asked her if she had ever had experience with a plaid smock, so that she could make that ridiculous statement, but she ignored me. “I kind of want to buy this smock,” said she. “But the time has passed for me to wear smocks.” I asked her to define smock: “Too short for a dress, too long for a shirt.” Like what Britney Spears wears as dresses? “Exactly.”
I asked why the time had passed for smocks: “I am too old to wear things that look like pinafores.” I asked her what pinafores were: “Oh, nevermind.” She hung up and called me back a minute later. “I said goodbye to T. Now I’m going to walk to the train!” I told her to be careful because it was snowing and suburban, and there were bound to be terrible drivers. She said, “It’s a two minute walk, all within the mall.” So I said, “Oh, then throw caution to the wind! Talk to me, baby!” She said she had to go, because the train was going underground.
December 10, 2009
S. recalled to me the entire plot of Jane Eyre, and said that race generally and specifically the “blackness” of Mr. Rochester’s wife kept coming up in funny ways. I said that descriptions of men as “square-jawed” and rice as “fluffy” had failed to conjure any image for me as a young reader. We debated whether rice was adequately described as “fluffy,” and I concluded that S. approached rice on a visual-macro level, hence seeing the entire bowl as fluffy looking, where as I was tactile-micro, imagining the density and chewiness of each grain of rice as incompatible with my understanding of fluffy (voluminous but light, like cotton candy).
I asked S. again to define a pinafore, since she had described a smock as a type of pinafore, and then forgotten to define pinafore. She said, “A pinafore is a nursery school type of jumper.” I gave up. S. is a self-referencing dictionary.
August 26, 2010
S. called to say, “I almost bought my mother a party frock from the vintage store.”
I said, “Isn’t a frock just a large shirt?”
S. said, “Would you call a dress just a large shirt? Or shoes just . . . hard socks?”
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
For years, Cody sat in the stands at every rodeo in full clown regalia - baggy pants with billowing colored scarves in the pockets - and full clown makeup.
He didn't abandon the dream until his dad quit the rodeo and moved the family to Dallas, where Cody blossomed as a baseball star.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Let me tell you what I did this weekend. I masturbated twice and spent probably two hours altogether watching porn or searching for "impotence" on Google Images (tip: HILARIOUS!). I have no idea why so many of my recent blog posts concern sex, except it probably has something to do with me turning thirty and not having something sucking on my nipples once every 2-6 hours. Immediately before time number 1, I ate probably two-thirds of a pillow-sized bag of Doritos Cool Ranch chips while reading about the Giants' NLCS victory. Friday night I already told you about. Saturday I woke at 11:30, did an exercise DVD called "Core Synergistics," played rainy day soccer with Boo, then took grandma and her five million pound wheelchair to a local cafe, where I taught her how to say "One low-fat decaf latte, please" and where we split a madeleine and a ham and egg scramble. In the early evening I drove up to Oakland listening to Katy Perry at deafening volumes, despite hating that b. Seriously, I detest her music like it's Pepsi or Burger King, Katy being Burger King to Lady Gaga's In-N-Out. Nobody likes a Number 2. Except Mao Asada, you cannot blame her for the freak bad luck of competing against the best figure skater of the millennium. Fucking Katy Perry, your contrived edginess, you imagine she's like the first of Eddie Murphy's marriage prospects in Coming to America, obediently jumping up and down on one foot and barking like a dog because she's been told to do so, putting on a blue wig because some music exec thought up the candy aesthetic right before a nocturnal emission. Lipstick on a pig, sheeple!! Artificial coloring! The soulless "Fine fresh fierce we got it on lock" versus the snarling "I want your ugly, I want your disease": no contest! What the fuck am I saying. OH despite detesting Fräulein Perry I NONETHELESS screamed along to "Teenage Dream" on the drive to a most delicious Laotian food dinner in Oakland. The lettuce-wrapped rice balls were like an erection of the mouth, but JY seemed extremely disappointed that Champa Garden was out of fried bananas and ice cream. Afterward, we retired to JY's artfully-arranged studio, where SW disclosed her foot anti-fetish (a story about a blood blister made her recoil in horror from the storyteller) and JY described her ambition to become a well-compensated personal organizer. ("I'm really good at packing trunks," she said, for the THOUSANDTH time.) Came home, Cool Ranch and consequences as described above. Sunday woke again after 11 a.m. Tiramisu, a mango tart, more Cool Ranch chips, coffee, cheese and even more chips went into my face within 120 minutes. I was so fucking bored today, ladies. Holy shit was I bored. I called my parents to hang out. They were busy. I called my grandma to hang out. MY GRANDMA REJECTED ME. Carry on with the TV and nap, Gram, I didn't want to hang out anyway. A colleague's work-related celebration only distracted me from excruciating unoccupied rainy Sunday afternoon boredom for an hour, then I went to a bike store and a camera store and barely managed to refrain from buying some very expensive new toy (the contenders were a new single speed and a micro four-thirds digicam) to fill the void of companionship in my life. Physical fitness, then more Giants-related Google searches, then two dinners and a half of a Sausage McMuffin have brought me to the present. I am such a fucking WASTE. I cannot WAIT until Monday. I am going to catch up on Jersey Shore now.
Now contrast the sedate new font for the new age: My weekend was marvelous! Today I dressed in matching clothes and unsoiled underwear, and attended a polo match fundraiser for Shih-Tzu Rescue with Brad and Chad. Afterward, Madison and I got couples' colonics at the new wellness studio in Aptos. The water was perfectly clean throughout!
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Except for the music, the house was dead silent. Her parents were backpacking at Mono Lake. Things in the house were as I remembered them from a dozen years ago, but slightly improved. The central heating had been replaced with a woodstove, though neither were necessary in July. The wallpaper in the bedroom was still a floor-to-ceiling photograph of a nature scene, but the alpine forest from our teenage years had been replaced with a stand of autumnal birch trees. K.'s belongings, once packed into two duffels, were exploded all around the room. Books, clothes, gadgets. Immigration would not yield the visa she needed to get to the job promised to her in London, so she was stuck in Palo Alto.
It was nighttime and past the very large windows of the living room I could see the tattered windsock under the porch light, moving in the summer breeze, and nothing more. There was only a windsock and darkness outside of the house. So the vampire fiction K. favored of late was hard to stomach after sunset, she said. "It's fucking scary."
She told me about spending entire days lying on the ground, reading, failing to find the motivation to leave the house. "I just don't see any reason to get out anymore," she said, half laughing. "But if I'm really motivated I can get myself to the coffee shop . . . highly recommend it." I lay on a couch opposite her, not looking at her, pressing her family's collection of tropical seashells into my eye sockets. "Damn," I said, "Damn." What else do you say to somebody so unhappy? What do you say when somebody's inflection makes it impossible to ask, in a quiet voice, what you really want to know: "Why do you still believe sincerity is weakness?" What happened to you? I left by bicycle a few minutes later.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
In July, R and O and I sat down to write some lists. R wrote the 31 things she wanted to accomplish before turning 31 (she had seven months); O the 30 things before she turned 30 (she had a year); and I wrote my 30 before 30 with two months to go. Here is how I did:
30 Before 30
The idea was to take them to this local nature spot, so that I could spend quality time with them and introduce them to a Bay Area treasure while getting them to walk off their fat. This goal was too specific. F.
I give myself a high grade even though I did not take Grandma to the movies because circumstances changed: she is too immobile to sit in a theater for two and a half hours. So, I brought the movie to her, and we watched "Labyrinth" in my house. Also, she hurt her back two weeks ago and can barely walk, so I have been spending about an hour per day with her, giving her massages, taking her on wheelchair walks, and watching a really bad Chinese soap opera with her. More on this unexpected time with Grandma in another post. A.
One for S on July 4th. One for a songwriters' group in Oakland that I joined. One to explain my early retirement plans to my boss. They are sloppy, but the goal was to record three more songs, not record them well. A.
Not what I had in mind, but I played the aforementioned second recording for the songwriters' group in Oakland. I'm counting this. B.
The problem with this was that I did not take an inventory of the books by my bed when I made this goal, and then I added ten more books to this pile with impulse purchases, borrowed books, and library reserves. I did read seven books since July, but were they the ones I intended to read? C-.
Eh. I went to see the Spinto Band and Miniature Tigers with JY at the Hotel Utah. I don't know that I really like them, but I liked them. They're both cute, sweet, electro-pop rock bands, the former a bit more frantic and young, the latter more mature and mellow. B.
During our San Francisco shopping expedition, O bought me a discount cropped cardigan and dared me to wear it (and only it) on our weekend bikeabout with R and to pretend like it was something I intended to incorporate into my everyday wardrobe. I cannot overstate how convincingly this appalling article made me look like a banana muffin. Unfortunately, I left it behind for the ride and lost that bet. We also have a bet going about whether I can finish P90X, but we won't know the outcome until Thanksgiving. I'm still on the wagon after seven weeks. C.
4:05:07. Also decided to do the San Jose Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon last week. 1:47:21. A.
Desolation Wilderness with S. A.
What is there to say? I'm awesome at buying contact lenses. A.
See #10. A.
R and O and I do "bikeabouts," where we tool around the Bay Area on our bikes, stopping frequently to eat things. In the winter and spring we did bikeabouts to a taco truck in Niles and a donut shop and a chaat store in Sunnyvale. In July we did a 41 mile ride to and from Fremont to the Olivera Egg Ranch in San Jose. It turned out that balut was sold as live fertilized eggs from this egg ranch, so we decided against carrying unhatched chickens in our jersey pockets and instead went to the nearby farmers market for Mexican tamales, Indonesian tamales, white nectarines, and kettle corn. A.
This is a tough one. My parents really need to exercise. It's very hard to motivate them. I ended up buying six workout DVDs. The one that stuck was Cardio Hula for Beginners, which has introduced the "Tiki pump" move into my dance vocabulary. Still I'm finding it hard to change my mom's habits, but we have done this workout a few times together now. C+.
Nope. The idea behind this one was to spend more time one-on-one with my dad and also to get him to exercise. We have done Cardio Hula together a few times ("Step, two, three . . . now uwehe!!"), but no biking. D.
Alas, no. Logistically difficult, plus my mom does not want to part with him. F for heartbreak, but A for effort.
Any answer I give here is counting balut before it is hatched, but I still think we're doing pretty well. My magic finger measures 44 mm in circumference, honey! Pass?
Rancho San Antonio on a Thursday night, followed by fish tacos. Turns out it was less spying on a relationship and more pushing two unworthy men toward O. Neither stuck, but the gorge was very pretty. R entertained us by asking questions from the geography trivia quiz she had participated in at work that afternoon. What Middle East country consumes the most water per capita? Egypt. A.
Not as much as I would have liked, but there is more time in the future. S and I went to her place and gutted anchovies, watched video clips of talented Indian kids dancing and crying, and then attempted to do "smokey" eye makeup with B's limited tools. B- (for not spending more time).
Total fail. Some email tag, no h.o. F.
Same as #20: not as much as I would have liked. J did come down from Oakland one Saturday to make zongzi with my grandma, where she made a very convincing and guai granddaughter, albeit with a strange Chinese accent. Then I gave her the bottle of wine that S and I had bought for her in Healdsburg and she said, "Oh no! I don't drink!" Party foul! B- (same reason as above).
I pumped up the tires. Does this count? F.
Tea eggs, sea bass, cucumber salad, zajiang stir fry, chili tot pie. A.
I wrote her a book called Y.O.M.S. I think this deserves an A?
Why is this on my list? F.
I can't keep track of things that happen every day. But I did start a creative writing class at Stanford, which is pretty exciting. C-.
Decided against this. F.
Simply failed. F.
Decided against this. F.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
A little background here: Tough Mudder is a running race. Kind of. The course I signed up for would be a seven-mile hike on dry ski slopes near Lake Tahoe, in eastern California. There would be eighteen obstacles that would have us belly crawling under barbed wire, wading through mud, climbing walls, and just plain grinding up steep mountainsides. One mystery obstacle would be disclosed at the start of the event. (Secrets revealed: the mystery obstacle was a shot of Tabasco sauce.) You aren't being timed, and you generally participate in teams of up to 20 people, so it's more a group bonding fitness event than a competition.
I was worried the event would be too disorganized, too expensive, and too dangerous. I had read other reviews about how the organizers of the event made rookie mistakes, like making the obstacles too small to handle the volume, so that participants had to wait forty-five minutes to climb a obstacle. And what the hell do two Harvard MBAs know about structural engineering? I foresaw a poorly-constructed log pile obstacle collapsing on top of me like an Aggie bonfire, shearing my limbs, crushing my organs . . . and then, as the light dimmed, a sheet of filler paper yawing like an oak leaf toward my face, signature first, with angelic voices saying "You idiot, you signed a death waiver."
More background: I am naturally inclined to be a floppy pud. If left in one place, I will stay in that place, like an unstimulated pudendum. I definitely did not want to drive four hours on a Saturday morning to roll around in somebody else's sweaty mud.
R. and O. convinced me not to be this person. We had already spent the $150, they said. It would be a nice excuse to get up to the mountains. If we felt tired we could just ignore the obstacles and walk the course.
So, I went. We made the drive to Bear Valley from the Bay Area, listening to O.'s indie rock mixes (Temper Trap, the XX, and mysteriously, Journey) and R. calling out the Gold Rush towns along the way ("Copperopolis!"). I ate half a family-sized bag of kettle corn and passed out with a sarong wrapped around my head.
We got there an hour before our start. There were the usual prerace preliminaries. A long walk from the parking lot. (They charged $20 for "premium" parking if you wanted to avoid the walk. Lame.) A chaotic mob scene in the bib distribution queues. Shirtless, meaty men smelling up a room. Some bodypainted, some wearing funny costumes. The ratio of men to women in the room was three to one, so I made a point of loudly declaring, "I just don't see how I can do this without getting a yeast infection!!" and smiling sweetly when heads turned. (More background: I am a woman. And you have to be kidding me: three hours, seven miles up and down mountains, in muddy synthetic underwear? Yeast we can!) Getting our race numbers written on our foreheads in Sharpie, mandatory. T-shirts, safety pins. Bag check. Last-minute chomping on raisin bread. Finding the rest of the team, O.'s friends from work, and drawing hearts and American flags on our arms. Photos by the flaming logo. Sunscreen. Lining up for the wave start.
Here the organizers had us stand for the national anthem. I can do that. I love America. But then the man with the microphone asked us to repeat the "Tough Mudder Pledge," which involves words about being fierce, unwhiny, helpful, tough.
No, no, no. I do not do pledges. Here is the reason why:
During the Korean War, many captured American soldiers found themselves in prisoner-of-war camps run by the Chinese Communists. It became clear early in the conflict that the Chinese treated captives quite differently than did their allies, the North Koreans, who favored savagery and harsh punishment to gain compliance. Specifically avoiding the appearance of brutality, the Red Chinese engaged in what they termed their "lenient policy," which was in reality a concerted and sophisticated psychological assault on their captives. After the war, American psychologists questioned the returning prisoners intensively to determine what had occurred. The intensive psychological investigation took place, in part, because of the unsettling success of some aspects of the Chinese program. For example, the Chinese were very effective in getting Americans to inform on one another, in striking contrast to the behavior of American POWs in World War II. For this reason, among others, escape plans were quickly uncovered and the escape attempts themselves were almost always unsuccessful. "When an escape did occur," wrote Dr. Edgar Schein, a principal American investigator of the Chinese indoctrination program in Korea, "the Chinese usually recovered the man easily by offering a bag of rice to anyone turning him in." In fact, nearly all American prisoners in the Chinese camps are said to have collaborated with the enemy in one form or another.
An examination of the Chinese prison-camp program shows that its personnel relied heavily on the commitment and consistency pressures to gain the desired compliance from prisoners. Of course, the first problem facing the Chinese was how to get any collaboration at all from the Americans. These were men who were trained to provide nothing but name, rank, and serial number. Short of physical brutalization, how could the captors hope to get such men to give military information, turn in fellow prisoners, or publicly denounce their country? The Chinese answer was elementary: start small and build.
For instance, prisoners were frequently asked to make statements so mildly anti-American or pro-Communist as to seem inconsequential ("The United States is not perfect." "In a Communist country, unemployment is not a problem."). But once these minor requests were complied with, the men found themselves pushed to submit to related yet more substantive requests. A man who had just agreed with his Chinese interrogator that the United States is not perfect might then be asked to indicate some of the ways in which he thought this was the case. Once he had so explained himself, he might be asked to make a list of these "problems with America" and to sign his name to it. Later, he might be asked to read his list in a discussion group with other prisoners. "After all, it's what you believe, isn't it?" Still later he might be asked to write an essay expanding on his list and discussing these problems in greater detail. The Chinese might then use his name and his essay in an anti-American radio broadcast beamed not only to the entire camp, but to other POW camps in North Korea, as well as to American forces in South Korea. Suddenly he would find himself a "collaborator," having given aid to the enemy. Aware that he had written the essay without any strong threats or coercion, many times a man would change his image of himself to be consistent with the deed and with the new "collaborator" label, often resulting in even more extensive acts of collaboration.
Thus, while "only a few men were able to avoid collaboration altogether," according to Dr. Schein, "the majority collaborated at one time or another by doing things which seemed to them trivial but which the Chinese were able to turn to their own advantage . . . . This was particularly effective in eliciting confessions, self-criticism, and information during interrogation.
You see? There are psychological risks to moving your mouth along to words you don't believe.
Brainwashing did not end with the pledge. The organizers led us in a call and response: "When I say Tough, you say Mudder. Tough!" "MUDDER!" "Tough!" "MUDDER!" The curmudgeonly Chinese girl with bunions stayed silent but mouthed, "Candi! DA! Candi! DA!"
Then the starting gun, and we were off.
And I will now admit: I really liked Tough Mudder. Really.
It was physically much harder than I thought it would be. The atmosphere was friendly and festive, not rape mob. And I and all of my companions had a great time.
First, the physical aspect. We drove from sea level to 6,000 feet in a day, so our lungs were already struggling, and on top of this going up and down seven miles of dry black diamond runs really brought the burn. Many people started out running - some asshole sprinted up the first hill - but by the slope at the second mile, all were walking. We had to walk, anyway; there was a bottleneck at one section that involved tricky maneuvering down the rocky singletrack path. I thought the obstacles would take up more time, but it was more like half a mile of hiking uphill, followed by hopping through twenty truck tires, and then back to hiking half a mile uphill.
And the obstacles: turns out I have to psych myself up to leap into cold shitwater swamps. I did not know this about myself. I thought I wouldn't have a problem, especially after watching a line of people in front of me go through the experience, but still I hesitated whenever confronted with something wet, cold, and sticky. Only adrenaline and peer pressure pushed me forward.
Most memorable of the obstacles were a chilly uphill 100-meter dash through snowmaker clouds and the mud pits they made, a belly crawl through a wet gravel pit where one had to push other people's muddy sneakers out of one's face, and a snowboard bowl turned into a freezing bacterial vaginosis pond that one had to wade across to continue. I almost lost my marbles on the last one. Halfway through, my joints and lungs seized up from the shock of the cold water. I felt winded and paralyzed, and in a hell of a lot of pain. I only made it because O.'s cheerful obliviousness to my panic left no other option but to push on. That crazy bitch seemed genuinely happy to be in that wastewater.
For most of the race, I was hungry, thirsty, and tired, but safe and motivated, and that was a privilege worth paying for. You really do get an extreme experience out of it, even if you're putting down money to have ambulances and support staff around you while you're making the declaration of your toughness. (Note that there was only water offered two or three times, and no food. Bring your own, if you want it.)
Plus this event had spirit. Around mile three, we started hearing an unseen crowd going, "Oh!! . . . oh . . . OH!!!" We rounded a bend and saw participants lining up for the next obstacle (a vault over a Brobdingnagian metal spool), and making supportive, sympathetic sounds as they watched the failures, who, like me, ran directly at the thing and face-planted against its side. It wasn't a chatty race, but the general feeling was one of helpful camaraderie rather than competition. And for all my skepticism of the group-bonding artifice, I did feel very endeared to my teammates, who lifted me over pommel horses and pulled me out of tunnels.
We did not, however, stick around afterward to drink our free beers or listen to the terrible San Francisco band.
Also, eastern California is eyeball-shatteringly beautiful. I love to be sweating outdoors. Are those not reasons enough to go? Enough said.