How Famous Are You in #CyberSpace?

Am I famous?

Am I famous?

A few nights ago, I woke up at an ungodly hour and I could not go back to sleep. I decided to do an online search of a few people, including myself and a couple of people I saw during the day.

First of all, I looked up John Kirk, the special man in my life for nearly two decades. Oh yes, JK got a lot of hits, some 71,100,000 on Google, and there are some images too, as you can see from the screenshot right here. With 199 John Kirks within my search, there is a prominent explorer, a professional story teller and an English solider dated back nearly two hundred years.

Ha, this is interesting, I thought.

Then I narrowed down the search to the name and location, aka Birmingham, my husband’s Linked In profile and twitter account appeared on the first page, sharing it with another Mr John Kirk from University of Birmingham, on the other side of the city. I remember that John told me that he once went to a meeting at UoB and the woman queried his identity because she was expecting to see the other one.

My husband is in the top 10 famous John Kirk in the world out of 199 ;-)

My husband is in the top 10 famous John Kirk in the cyber world out of 199 ;-)

With my married name, it was an easy straight forward one. It seems that there is only one Junying Kirk in cyber space. I guess a combination of my Chinese first name Junying, not an exceptionally common name, there is no other Junying with a surname of Kirk – There was a time when people were expecting to see a Captain Kirk look alike when I answered to Dr Kirk.

So there are fewer hits with my name but still a decent 68,600 results. Besides, all the images on Google are mine so there is no mistake of my on-line identity. The links on the first page are the most popular, my blog, My Linkedin, my Facebook, and of course, one of my professional profiles with Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research. While the majority of the hits are in English, there are a few in Chinese, which are related to the institutional visits I made to China and Taiwan. I was very pleased to see these partnership activities were being reported in a very positive light.

It seems that I am the only famous Junying Kirk out here :-)

It seems that I am the only famous Junying Kirk out here :-)

I also went to the Chinese search engine Baidu. Likewise, pages and pages of my name with links to Amazon, blogs, Twitter and so on appeared. I think I am less known in the Far East, as the number of results (4010) indicated :-).

My books on Amazon and my activity on the SM made me famous :-)

My books on Amazon and my activity on the SM made me famous :-)

Can I assume that I have achieved a certain level of fame? It certainly looks like that my postings are reaching out, from my Amazon books, to my weekly blogs. I can definitely say that I have a presence in cyber space, where more and more people are spending their time.

On the News at NCUE, one of the partner institutions I visited in Taiwan

On the News at NCUE, one of the partner institutions I visited in Taiwan

本校再添英國姊妹校 伯明罕城市大學期待推動雙聯學制

Out of curiosity, I searched a female acquaintance, someone who always assumed an air of self-importance and vanity. Is she as all mighty and famous as she let on? I wondered. She does possess a rather unusual name but the search resulted in nothing substantial. One or two mentions on a professional link, that’s it. No images on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platforms. No list of publications in her name. In other words, she does not really exist or her existence in the vast cyber space is totally insignificant.

Where does she summon all that put-on superiority and a totally unjustified self-importance? One might wonder.

It makes me think of what John once told me: You are only famous among those who know you.

I had my 15 minutes of fame on Chinese TV!

I had my 15 minutes of fame on Chinese TV!

17-Andy-Warhol-quote-on-being-famous

Outside this little circle of family and friends, what do you matter? Have you made any contribution to the Big Society which was all the rage a while ago? Have you made someone’s day, someone you’ve never set eyes on?

I am proud to say that I have made people laugh, and I have inspired people with my on-line posts, and I’ve been told so by people I may never meet in real life, but I count them as my friends in cyber space, be it on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, or people who came by my blog and had a laugh, or they read my books and had a cry.

My life is being recorded by faithful Facebook

My life is being recorded by faithful Facebook

I have touched people. I have left footprints on this earth. I have been in some strangers’ lives and somehow I have made an impression.

For me, that is something real, something to treasure. It is something I will take with me to eternity one day.

How is my life is being sketched is up to me.

How my life being sketched is up to me

Sobering thought on fame on Social Media in general.

Sobering thought on fame on Social Media in general.

Posted in China & East Asia, Economics & Society, Education, Social Media & Photography, UK, USA & Europe | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#Picture Tour of #Europe (2): #Spain’s Sights, Sounds, Smells and Sunshine

Fun time in Spain

Fun time in Spain

Following last week’s post on picturesque France, today we are heading further south to a country I’ve been to more often than any other in Europe. I am not counting the times, but if I do, it will be in double figures, largely because we have a soft spot for the enchanting Canary Islands, where we return time after time, year after year.

For Mainland Spain, our explorations remain limited. It started with a short trip to Madrid, not long after John and I started traveling together. It was only a brief visit to the Spanish capital and nearby Toledo. It was before the digital camera became popular so we did not take as many photos as we do since then, especially after the inbuilt camera and handy iPhone.

Our next adventure was to Barcelona where we enjoyed climbing up the unfinished Sagrada Familia, walking along Las Ramblas and appreciating the distinctive Gaudi designs around the city. It is a beautiful city which I hope to revisit soon.

Toledo, Spain

Toledo, Spain

Sagrada Família, Barcelona

Sagrada Família, Barcelona

One Christmas we hopped onto a plane to Malaga with Tao, from there we explored Southern Spain, from the spectacular Ronda to the historic Alhambra. To my delight, we spent Christmas day on the beach, and as you can see from the picture below, I indulged myself in picking up  pebbles from the sandy shore. It was a bit too cold to swim in the sea that day.

Look at what I found!

Look at what I found!

Sand Dune in Fuerteventura

Sand Dune in Fuerteventura

Do you know that two million Brits are living in Spain? The reasons are simple: the unlimited sunshine, perfect tan that goes with it, amazing selection of Spanish cuisine, and the leisurely pace of life. They are “expats”, of course, not immigrants, and I wonder: do they have to return to the often cold and miserable UK following the Brexit, especially if the European citizens living in the UK may have to return?

Tasty Spanish Cuisine

Tasty Spanish Cuisine

Smart and cool dolphins

Smart and cool dolphins

Anyway, let me continue my Spanish discoveries by sharing with you a few of the previous posts which detailed some of our recent trips, especially to magnificent Majorca, and the different Spanish islands off the coast of Africa: Fuertventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Tenerife. I’m also sharing a YouTube clip on one of the island beauties.

#GranCanaria: Sheer Indulgence of Senses and Stunning Sunsets

Beating #Winter Blues in #CanaryIslands: a Tropical #Spanish Delight (#Tenerife 1)

#Majorca: a Special #Birthday Treat on a Magical Spanish Island

Here are some more pictures from different parts of Spain to tempt you to go. There is no doubt that before 2016 is over, we’ll be heading that way again, and the most likely designation? You probably guessed: Gran Canaria, where John can hire a bike for his rides into the mountains through the tropical cactus, while I sit down with my iPad, for reading, surfing and snapping away at the sights near me, and when it gets too hot, I’ll dip in the pool for a leisure swim and topping up a natural tan.

Gran Canaria Holiday Resort

Gran Canaria Holiday Resort


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Stunning Cacti

Stunning Cacti

Tao in Malaga

Tao in Malaga

Beautiful Spanish Sunsets

Beautiful Spanish Sunsets

Posted in Arts & Culture, Food & Cuisine, Health & Sports, Social Media & Photography, Travel Logs, UK, USA & Europe | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#Picture Tour of #Europe (1): #France

San Michel in Normandy

Mount Saint Michel in Normandy

In the aftermath of Brexit, I am posting a series of picture blogs on European countries which I have ever set foot in, and today, I’m taking you to one of Britain’s closest neighbours across the English channel, France. The pictures are just a tiny  selection from my precious French albums.

There is no secret that I voted REMAIN and I won’t be elaborating on why, as the reasons are well documented in the continuous flow of articles, blogs, videos and numerous posts on various social media platforms. My decision was firmly based on solid facts, well sourced information as well as sentimental reasons: I love Europe and I love the fact that Britain is part of a most fascinating continent.

I suspect that many of my peers feel the same – the reason many international students came to study in the UK, instead of the US, Canada or Australia is due to the fact that the UK is on the edge of Europe, hence offering easy access to the rest of this amazing continent, which embodies rich and varied history, stunning art and culture, and is birth place to some of the most influential thoughts, philosophies and creations of technology.

My very first visit to Paris in 1991

My very first visit to Paris in 1991

No sooner had I arrived in the UK, than I wanted to see the rest of Europe, and top of my list, France. The first time I was able to visit came in the summer of 1991, when I took the advantage of the InterRail pass, and spent a blissful few weeks in France, Austria, Switzerland and Czech Republic.

Verdon De Gorge, 1999

John above Les Gorges du Verdon, 1999

Over the past 25 years, I have visited France a number of times. Once to meet with my brother Brad in Paris in the winter, and at other times, for short holidays. Not as often as I would have liked, yet John and I were able to see different parts of this beautiful country, notably the South of France around Nice, Normandy and Lille where we stopped to watch a stage of Tour de France two years ago.

Waiting for the beginning of Tour De France

Waiting for the end  of Tour De France stage into Lille

Fabulous French Treats

Fabulous French Macaroon Treats

There are other parts of France I would very much like to visit, and I am sincerely hoping that the Brexit referendum was just a cruel joke which will not become a reality. Once upon a time, my Chinese passport rendered it extremely difficult for me to travel anywhere in Europe – so do the blessed British passport holders really wish to bring harm to their national identity and make themselves the outcasts of Europe, a united Europe for which many British men and women fought and died for in two epic world wars?

Omaha Beach in Normandy where American and British soldiers died for peace in Europe

Omaha Beach in Normandy where American and British soldiers died for peace in Europe

John at his Gradndad's grave who died during the Great War

John at his Great Grandad’s grave who died during the Great War

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my pictures with this blog post and also on three previous French related blogs:

Pictorial Memories of Paris

Remembering Great Granddad George – Four Co-incidences

#D-Day Revisited – #Normandy in June

Monument in Normandy

Point du Hoq Monument in Normandy

Arc de Triumph in Paris with Brad

Arc de Triumph in Paris with Brad

Posted in Politics & History, Social Media & Photography, Travel Logs, UK, USA & Europe | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#Brexit or #Bremain, That Was the Referendum. #Question: Now What?

What has #Brexit done to Great Britain???

What has #Brexit done to Great Britain???

On the 23rd of June 2016, the world changed, for me and for many who live and work in the UK, and for many more who are Europeans and further afield, whether or not they wanted Britain to Remain in the EU or Leave. The votes were irretrievably cast and the result, as we all know, is 51.9% OUT vs 48.1% IN.

On the day of the vote, I had a dental appointment in Birmingham and I was so distracted that I took a wrong turn which led me to Kingstanding, a predominantly white UKIP area. I saw many houses with the St George Cross flag flying. Even though it was irrational and very much unlike me, I felt worried, and a sense of foreboding. They are just football fans, I tried to reassure myself. But a sense of unease and fear somehow gripped me, wishing  to get out of there as quickly as I could.

Will there still be a United Kingdom or will it simply be a Little England left on her own?

Will there still be a United Kingdom or will it simply be a Little England left on her own?

That evening, I went to bed with the initial poll telling us that it was 52% Remain, overshadowing the Brexiteers. Some of my friends stayed up all night to wait for the result. I was confident that the majority of British people would have the common sense to vote to stay, especially following the unspeakable murder of Yorkshire MP Jo Cox.

I was wrong. History played a cruel joke on me and those who wanted a stronger Britain within Europe. Overnight, the country became more divided than ever, as the whole country woke up to see  Sterling spiralling down 10%, falling quicker  than ever before, the PM resigning, companies pulling out of the country, people who voted LEAVE regretting and an on-line petition for a second referendum going viral, attracting over three million signatures in just over a day.

So the question we are all asking now is: what will happen to the UK?

British people are protesting on the streets of London and Edinburgh

British people, especially the young, are protesting on the streets of London and Edinburgh

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People around me and in my social media circles are astounded, saddened, disappointed, depressed and fallen into despair! Some of my families and friends afar do not understand the full implications. I tried to explain, to the best of my understanding. I read articles by the Guardian, The Times, Independent and other on-line posts. Since I am a staunch Remainer, I do not read papers which are jubilant about the results plastered with the stupid faces of the likes of Farage, although you can hardly escape seeing his smug grin at their so called ‘victory’.

What victory?

They are dragging this country through the dirty mud into darkness, isolation, small-mindedness, and hate. People are upset and angry, especially the young people. The young whose future is now bleak, limited and inward-looking. They are the ones who will suffer the most if the Brexit becomes a reality.

Why should the young people pay the price for the stupid choice made by bigoted pensionners?

Why should the young people pay the price for the stupid choice made by bigoted pensioners?

There are many expert analytical articles and posts out there in newspapers, blogs and Facebook posts. It is not easy to summarise what may and will happen, and I am not even going to try. Just an idea what kind of fears that are going through people’s heads right now, I am sharing a snippet of comments from a friend in London, with her permission:

What future are we looking at?

What future are we looking at?

Politics is like a pond and political parties are the water. Wherever there is a void in the pond, water will rush in to fill it. Labour collapsed in Scotland and the void was filled by SNP. The northern cities have a void, UKIP will exploit it. They will succeed if they can broaden the base and brand themselves as fighting for England. The timing is right for them as Scotland will go and Northern Ireland will go leaving England and Wales in the disunited kingdom. The political classes in the Tory and Labour parties have failed to connect with the people. We are in dangerous territory. Racial hatred is likely to rise whenever there is resurgence of nationalism. The politics of England will never be the same again. The question is will UKIP evolve into a moderate party that can keep the racists in check? Would it morph into a social Democratic Party that is leaning slightly to the right which is what the natural position of English character (as opposed to Scotland which is slightly leaning to the left)? Would it be able to attract sensible politicians to take a lead? The old politics of Tory and Labour is now broken. They are in serious danger and may disappear or recede at least faster than we think. UKIP has ambitions much more than simply leaving the EU. It is a milestone for them to take the crown in Westminster itself. If I am the queen, I will be extremely frustrated to see the disintegration of the United Kingdom, the potential of the ugly face of English nationalist fever tipping over in a now multicultural country where conflicts will be inevitable. The minorities will not lie down to take it.

The likes of Farage in this world play with the prejudice and fear of unthinking men and women

The Farages of this world play with the prejudice and fear of unthinking men and women

Personally, I am too stunned bordering depressed by what had happened overnight and what will come next. I have lived in this country for 28 years and I love her dearly as my second Motherland and home. I am worried about her future, and what possible adverse effect on me both professionally as well as an open-minded, forward-looking individual. The day before the vital vote during an international conference, two Dutch presenters were talking about a Global Village for all, and two Belgium educators on Move Across Borders – commitment in a global perspective. I felt energised by that.

At this moment in time, I am losing my usual sense of optimism, and my view of Great Britain is no longer great.

Here are a few links for further reading: I want my country back.

After this leave vote, it’s worrying to be an ethnic minority Briton

Petition for 2nd referendum: Please sign with millions of Britons

This number is climbing by the seconds!

This number is climbing by the seconds!

 

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