UMDC: Recommended

I learned about Quincy Carroll’s debut novel, Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside, through Jocelyn Eikenburg’s wonderful blog. I really enjoyed it! Quincy Carroll’s levelheaded and nuanced depiction of the two main characters’ experience in China gave us a wonderful, honest perspective that was rarely offered in similar novels, memoirs, or news reports.

It is not unusual for a white person to exhibit superiority complex in a developing country like China (Guillard, the old male teacher from Minnesota in the novel). Similarly, it is not unusual for a non-white person from a small place in a developing country (Bella, the scheming student from Hunan province) to display signs of inferiority complex when engaging with white people from the all mighty America (or UK, Canada, Australia, Germany…). Superiority and inferiority complexes are two sides of the same coin. When they collide, things happen, sometimes comical, sometimes awkward, sometimes sad, mostly sad.

The author, (the other main character in the novel), is honest and compassionate. He is also curious and humble: he took the time to learn the language and speaks it fluently. This enables him to understand and appreciate the local culture and be effective in his teaching. I think that’s the reason he is beloved and respected in that high school. With his observant eyes and the ability to put things down on paper, we ended up with a wonderful book to learn from and enjoy.

I got my bachelor degree in China in the 90s, and had various English teachers in my college from the US. I think I met both types. One was a Vietnam Vet, who must have been traumatized by that war. He taught English and made a decent living by simply being a white American without solid skills and/or certifications, from what I could tell. I’ve also had young Peace Corps volunteers, who were recent college graduates, that were friendly and helpful. For example, looking back now, they must have been tired of all the similar questions being asked again and again, yet they were patient enough not showing it and still being helpful.

Comparing my experience with what’s depicted in the novel, I think the fact that Guillard-types had to go to a small town in Hunan for a job is a sign of progress. It’s tougher for him to make a living through his whiteness and native English language ability in coastal, more developed areas :)

By the way, I think the toxic combination of superiority and inferiority complex is the reason that we have crappy foreign news reporting from mainstream media: on one hand, we have the arrogant journalists from a developed country with plenty attitude and preconceived notions, but without the necessary openness and curiosity; on the other hand, we have the local interpreters/compradors type who have their own complex motives. I’m not saying all journalists are like that, but there are enough such that the western audience is misinformed on many important issues.

Anyway, great book, highly recommended!

Also posted at Amazon, with some edit here.

No 32-bit for SQL Server 2016 Express

I’ve learned that SQL Server 2016 Standard and Enterprise Editions no longer provide 32-bit. But I do wonder about SQL Server 2016 Express Edition. It’s different in that it’s free, and mostly geared toward lightweight usage, people who are learning, etc. So perhaps it still offers 32-bit?

After some upgrade work to one SQL Server 2008 R2 Express 32-bit, I can tell you with real experience that SQL Server 2016 Express does NOT have 64-bit either.

So the latest Express edition that has 32-bit is SQL Server 2014. Like Allan Hirt, I also say good riddance. It’s time to move on.

Staining deck: lessons learned

I cleaned and stained my deck all by myself this summer. The sanding was done last summer, how is that for procrastination! I think I did all right, however there are still a lot of areas for improvements. Hence this note.

  • I used Rymar Xtreme Weather Wood Sealer, 7630 Sienna. My deck needs 4 gallons. My wife ordered 2 gallons initially. I ordered the third one, then had to order one more. It would have been better to have all 4 gallons available. At the time of this writing, if you order more than 1 gallon, shipping is free;
  • I used a deck cleaner. I sprayed it using a small hand-held squirt type sprayer. That wasn’t efficient. I should have used the larger sprayer with a hand pump;
  • To protect plants around deck from deck cleaner, I used plastics I saved from packaging material. It worked fine;
  • For the floor, use a nap roller made out of microfiber, not foamy/spongy stuff. The foamy/spongy roller works better indoors on a smooth surface;
  • To protect the stucco wall, I taped around it. I used two type of 3M tapes: the coarser one seems to work better outdoors. Somebody suggested that FrogTape works better. I think I’ll try it next time. Also, where there is enough space between the deck and the wall, it might be easier and quicker to insert a card board instead of using masking tape;
  • Use drop cloth when I stain poles supporting the tandem room. I didn’t this time and ended up with a few drops on my pavement;
  • I used brush for sticks/pickets/balusters. Next time I may try a small roller, which can make things quicker;
  • Not directly related to staining, but I should have used the right hose for connection to my electric power washer. My hand was greasy and I had trouble taking the head off the good hose, so I used another one. I should have taken the time to get a wrench to get the head off of the good hose and use it instead. The less than optimal hose leaked. I didn’t do as good a job as I could have with the right hose.
  • Don’t paint myself into a corner. It didn’t happen to me, but it’s always to keep this in mind.
  • Wear protective gloves. I didn’t for a short stretch, and got splinter in my middle finger. That wasn’t fun!

Adding attachment to Outlook 2016 email

A couple of months ago Outlook 2016 on my old PC (Windows 10) started misbehaving:

  • Clicking “Attach File” to add an attachment from my PC to an email message;
  • A window would show up. When it worked, I would be able to move the mouse down and click “Browse This PC…”. However, nowadays this window disappears so quickly that it doesn’t give me enough time to click that “Browse This PC…” item!
  • Web search ensued. Some suggested repairing the mailbox, which I’ve done but to no avail;
  • To get around this, open a windows Explorer window and navigate to the location where the attachment is located, drag it to the email window and release it. Viola, attachment added and you’re done!

Hope this helps!