“Humans of Magic” interview series: Jarvis Yu (Part 1)

In 2016, I started an interview podcast called “Humans of Magic.” The podcast focuses on deep 1:1 discussions with Magic players and personalities. The goal is to give them a forum to express the things that they care deeply about, that you may not know from their regularly produced strategy content.

For example:

  • How did Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa grow up playing Magic in Brazil?
  • What makes it difficult for Gerry Thompson to stay in touch with friends?
  • Why is Christian Calcano pursuing a career outside of Magic?
  • What did Bob Huang learn about life, after traveling around the world?

Through these conversations, I want to give you insight as to WHO these people are — and not just what they do when they sit down to play Magic.

Podcasting is a great way to get my guests to open up, but it is not easy to listen to hours upon hours of content. This is why I have decided to transcribe these talks from AUDIO to TEXT so that you can fully enjoy the fruits of our labor. I am launching the Humans of Magic: Year One book anthology in Q4 2017. It will contain a collection of the best interviews.

Whether you are trying to become a better player, or just interested in knowing more about the biggest names in Magic, there is something in here for everyone. I promise that these will be the most in-depth interviews with Magic players that you will ever read.

If you like what you read, please do me a favor and subscribe to my mailing list. I will use the list to update you on the status of the book, and to send out information about discounts + bonus content + other cool stuff.

I am releasing previews from Humans of Magic: Year One leading up to its release. Here is an interview with Jarvis Yu that I hope you will enjoy.

jarvis

Who is Jarvis Yu?

  • Gold Level Pro and Team MassdropEast member
  • 11 Pro Tour Appearances
  • Master of the Legacy Lands deck: 2 GP Top 8s with Lands (including 1st place @ GP Seattle) and 1 GP Top 16
  • Streams at https://www.twitch.tv/jarvisyu

This interview was recorded in June 2016.

James:                          Today I have a guest who needs almost no introduction. He is one of the premier players in competitive Magic. He has more Pro Tour appearances than I will ever have in my lifetime. Most recently, he’s won the prestigious Legacy GP in Seattle in 2015. I’m super excited to introduce Jarvis Yu. Jarvis, how’s it going?

 

Jarvis:                          [Laughs] It’s going pretty well.

 

James:                          [Laughs] I don’t know if you were expecting that. I just kind of thought, “Oh, you know, that will be the best way to do it.” But, actually, I didn’t know how many Pro Tour appearances you’ve made. It seemed from our Facebook conversations that there were a lot. How many are there?

 

Jarvis:                          The last one I was at in Madrid was my eighth appearance, and I’m currently qualified for Honolulu in the fall, but not at Sydney, which is the last Pro Tour of this year. I’m qualified for Honolulu off of Silver Level Status currently. But I’m trying to get qualified for Sydney as well.

 

James:                          What’s the gap for you now between Silver and Gold status?

 

Jarvis:                          It’s only three Pro Points, except all of my Grand Prix slots are filled with finishes. I don’t know if you’re aware of how the system works?

 

James:                          No. You can fill me in, definitely.

 

Jarvis:                          You basically have your top six Grand Prix finishes count towards Pro Points for Pro Level status. I have an eight-pointer from the GP one, a four-pointer from Grand Prix Washington DC, where our team got eighth, a three-pointer from going 12-3 at New York City, and a bunch of two-pointers. So, in order for me to actually gain any Pro Points, I have to finish 12-2 or better. It’s kind of an awkward sort of First World Problem scenario. I’ve been to so many Grand Prix and done reasonably well, but not well enough to acquire Gold.

 

James:                          It sounds like a high-pressure situation, right? Because you want to hit Gold, but, I mean, it’s basically you do the calculation and you have to finish in the top, which is not easy for any large-scale event. Am I right?

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah, it is stressful, but I’ve also thought about this a lot. If I don’t get it this year, I’m just going to step back a bit and play a little bit less and focus on other things. I’m just going to ride it out and see what happens. I don’t believe in stressing out about this sort of thing. I think it leads to a very unhealthy sort of lifestyle.

 

James:                          Would you say that, for most of your playing career, you’ve had a very non-stressed mindset when you prepare for and play in events? Would you say it’s something you’ve developed over time?

 

Jarvis:                          I think it’s sort of an odd cultural thing that my parents sort of put into me. They were always like, “You should work hard.” But, even if you work hard and you do somewhat poor, you shouldn’t get upset about it as long as you tried your best, which is actually pretty contrary to most Asian-American families, I think. It’s kind of weird reflecting on that right now, I suppose.

 

James:                          Oh, no! I mean, I also have an Asian background and I can relate to that for sure.

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah, I think my parents were much more laid back than the average Asian-American family in the States. I mean, I did end up going to a pretty high-caliber college, so I guess they were okay with that and finishing grad school, but, after that, I don’t know. It’s just very different than what I know other Asian-Americans have experienced, so I try to take things a little bit easier. I mean, I do like to win. I do like to compete, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.

 

James:                          Excellent! So, maybe we can step back a little bit. This is a perfect segue way. I kind of want to get… because, I mean, you and I sort of knew each other online. This is also a great way for me to learn. I would like to go back in time. I know that you’re in Maryland right now, in the United States. Can you briefly talk about how you grew up and what it’s been like for you as a kid in the US? Basically go back in time a little bit and just talk about the earliest experiences you can remember and maybe when you first started playing Magic. From being a kid to playing your first game.

 

Jarvis:                          I was actually born in Columbia, South Carolina, and we didn’t actually stay there very long because my father was teaching at the University of South Carolina, but the problem was there weren’t really a lot of Chinese people in South Carolina. So my father took a job in Bethesda, Maryland, working at the National Institute of Health, which is a US agency for health research. There, once I got to middle school, other people were playing Magic in middle school. I’m sure you know what it’s like. And I looked at the cards and I’m like, “That seems pretty sweet.” So, my parents took me to a card store at some point and I think I bought either a Revised or a Fourth Edition Starter Deck. I looked through it and looked through the rulebook, kind of put it away for a while, but, at some point, I started playing with kids during lunch, and that’s how I got into the game.

 

James:                          I didn’t know that you started with Revised. You saw kids playing at school. Was there something about the game that drew you in? Was there a particular card, or just the way it was played?

 

Jarvis:                          By that point I had already been into games like chess, go, and Mahjong – basically all games that my dad taught me when I was younger. I also really liked reading fantasy fiction back then, so I guess it was those two things that sort of drew me in.

 

James:                          I’m going to guess you were, or maybe still am, a Lord of the Rings fan, based on your MTGO name, right? [“Samwise_GeeGee”]

 

Jarvis:                          There’s actually a funny story about that MTGO name. I used to be a much bigger Tolkien fan. It hasn’t aged well for me. It has dawned on me as I’ve gotten older that he was more of a linguist than actually a good fictional writer. There’s actually a story about that, that name. That account was…I didn’t originally create that account. A friend of mine created that account, and he was a huge Tolkien fan. But he basically quit Magic at some point, so I just sort of just assumed possession of the account.

 

James:                          Nice! So, you’ve been, I guess, crushing it after assuming his mantle.

 

Jarvis:                          [Laughs] Yeah! Funny how that works, right?

 

James:                          [Laughs] Yeah. So, you got your Revised deck. You got your parents to take you to the store. This sounds super familiar to me. I had a brother that I played Magic with, but I’m guessing that you are an only child?

 

Jarvis:                          No, I have a younger sister. She did not play Magic with me, nor was she ever interested, which is fine. I think it’s more of a guy thing, unfortunately. I mean, not that it’s entirely a guy thing. I think guys just tend to be more interested in it naturally.

 

James:                          Yeah, and when you see kids playing at school, it’s probably the guys, right? Or the boys.

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah.

 

James:                          So yeah, you got your decks and you started playing with the other kids. What happened after that?

 

Jarvis:                          Okay. So, at one point, I was in… Do you know the former bookstore chain Borders?

 

James:                          Absolutely.

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah, they are mostly shut down now, but one of the Sundays I was in a Borders and I saw a deck building guide by…I don’t remember who it’s by, but basically it was Deck Building Guide to Competitive Type One Decks of that era. And for a kid who’s in middle school, reading that just sort of blew my mind – that you could build decks in a very focused sort of fashion. Of course, all of these decks had Lotus or all the Moxen, and they would try to do sort of things much faster than I was used to. But reading that had a huge effect on my Magic…I guess, development is the right word.

 

James:                          Was it something that you read, the passages or the decklist, and you thought, “I wanted to do that,” or, “I wanted to play with Power,” you know, pun intended. “I wanted to aspire.” What was going through your mind? Did you want to emulate those kind of decks? Is that what was happening?

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah, there was one deck in particular. It was called “The Deck”. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the history, but it was basically what we would call a three to five color control deck nowadays. It had Mind Twist, a bunch of counterspells, and ways to get ahead on cards. I think it taught me what it meant to play a deck that was just focused on nullifying whatever your opponent was doing and then winning the game very slowly.

 

564_serraangel

 

James:                          Right! As I recall, the finisher for that deck was good old Serra Angel.

 

Jarvis:                          That is correct.

 

James:                          You literally just counter or kill everything. You neuter the opponent, like a true control deck, and then you just play the original Entreat the Angels, which was Serra Angel.

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah, that’s absolutely right! Just seeing that decklist, it basically blew my mind the first time I saw it.

 

James:                          Yeah, for sure. I remember also seeing some books around Magic at that time. For me, it was reading issues of The Duelist, you know, back when Mark Rosewater was writing puzzles for that magazine, and just hearing about the decks. And they had a little mini magazine in there called Sideboard.

 

Jarvis:                          Right!

 

James:                          And they were talking about how these players were playing these decks for the first time. And I think, as a kid—I hope you can relate to this—you know, when you see somebody play that, there’s just some part of us as competitive players that’s like, “I want to try that,” or, “I want to try that thing. I want to get to that level where I’m at the top and I’m winning more than I’m losing.” You know what I’m saying?

 

Jarvis:                          Right. Yeah, I definitely have had that experience, and I still have that experience occasionally.

 

James:                          So tell me how you got to your first competitive match, because you must have played with the kids at school, but, at some point, you saw the book in Borders. How did you go from that to sitting down in a tournament, in a gaming store, and doing that for the first time?

 

Jarvis:                          There’s actually a long stretch between that [reading that book] and then actually playing a sanctioned match of Magic. In fact, I would guess it was about ten years in between. I didn’t actually play a match of sanctioned Magic until I was in college. I think it was either my freshman or sophomore year. And I found people who were competitive in a way that sort of resonated with me. They were analytical Math or science-type of people who played Magic at Dartmouth. And just being able to talk to them and figuring out that, hey, I might actually want to do this competitively. It was sort of an enlightening experience.

 

James:                          So, you met them and they were already playing in tournaments?

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah. I think, technically, my first Booster Draft was during Onslaught, but I wasn’t very good, and I think I had a 60-card draft deck with Visara in it. And if you know anything about that format, well, first off, you should just minimize your deck size. You know, whatever. But, also, that’s magnified by the fact that I had a card like Visara, which is one of the best cards in the format. Period! So, you should just play a 40-card deck if you have that card.

 

jarvis2

 

James:                          Yeah. Actually, I wanted to ask—What did you study at school?

 

Jarvis:                          I actually started with Physics, changed my mind, went to Computer Science, change my mind and ended up studying Math.

 

James:                          Okay.

 

Jarvis:                          But I sort of still dabbled in the first two, but I didn’t finish out the major in either of them. I just took some classes here and there.

 

James:                          Okay, so you ended up graduating with a Math degree.

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah, and my Masters is in, technically, Mathematical Statistics, but, you know, I can do a bit of everything involving statistics.

 

James:                          Excellent. So, your friends, I guess you must have met them through… Was it classes or was it like just social clubs or something like that, or just friends?

 

Jarvis:                          It was classes and I did fencing for a bit in college, and, actually, a lot of those guys played Magic. Well, not at fencing practice or whatever, or in class. One of the guys I met is Israel Marquez. He was originally from Roanoke, Virginia, and I don’t know if you know this, but that’s where Star City Games is located. And so he, after high school, every day would work there and so he had a relatively big collection and he was willing to help me get started and teach me stuff about sanctioned Magic. You know, it was really great. I think, without that, I probably wouldn’t have played very much constructed Magic because I just didn’t really have a collection by that point.

 

James:                          It seems that in all of the origin stories that I’ve heard, the players always had some Magic “drug dealer” or hook-up that got them into the game.

 

Jarvis:                          Yes.

 

James:                          The gateway drug. And then they never leave after that.

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah, that’s sort of how it works. And then I actually did join a college fraternity in my junior/senior year, and a bunch of the people in that fraternity also played Magic and were willing to lend stuff and, you know, run, like, drafts every week. That was basically how, in college, I got into competitive Magic. And we would occasionally go to PTQ’s in our area, which is New England. We would just like drive around, like two to four hours to wherever and, you know, just play the constructed or limited PTQ. I didn’t do well in most of those until I actually graduated college, but, I mean, there’s always a learning curve, right?

 

James:                          Yeah. And I would assume that when you’re in areas like that, these are some of the tougher areas of Magic to compete in, right? I’m going to guess that there were probably a lot of players.

 

Jarvis:                          I remember PTQ’s that had like Melissa DeTora, Jackie Lee, Dan Jordan, just like a bunch of New England people who were reasonably good, and I basically had very little idea of what I was doing. I’m going to be frank. I didn’t have enough practice or enough experience to actually compete with them.

 

James:                          Was there a moment in time when you were playing in tournaments, or maybe as you got started or a little bit later, post-graduation, that you said to yourself, “I’m going to dedicated time to this game. I’m going to commit myself to high-level Magic”? Was there a particular point in time?

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah, I think it’s kind of weird. After I graduated from college, I sort of didn’t know that I wanted to go to grad school, or even what I wanted to do with my life yet. So I think I ended up playing a lot more Magic Online right after that, and, frankly, probably not the best for having a balanced life. But it did teach me a lot about Magic that I didn’t know before, just playing matches and thinking about them. I don’t know, for six to seven hours per day.

 

James:                          That’s awesome because if you want to get good at something, you have to put in the time, right?

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah, and my parents were not the most thrilled about this because, from their perspective, I should have tried to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Find a job or something. But that went on for a bit and I actually did end up finding a fellowship at NIH with the help of my parents and also tutoring kids in Math for high school. At some point I did get bored of just playing for hours upon end, and I didn’t feel like I was contributing anything essential to society.

 

James:                          I am kind of curious, if I may go back a step – you had been practicing or playing six to seven hours a day.

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah.

 

James:                          What was your system for practicing? Now, with the advent of articles, and literature, and pros writing about how they practice, there seems to be a really focused way, or an accepted way, of doing things. Did you just grind games or did you talk to your friends about certain strategies and lists? How did you go about playing six to seven hours a day?

 

Jarvis:                          So, back then—this might seem really weird—not all of the decklists were published from Magic Online. Like, the decklists that did well. So, you had to do a lot of research to figure out what was actually in a person’s deck, including just messaging them privately online, and seeing if they would be willing to do that. Other ways of getting the information was to actually just cast Cranial Extraction when you were on like a losing board state, so that you could see their deck. That actually happened a fair number of times to me and other people that I know. Just to get the decklists, people would cast Cranial Extraction under a losing board state and then write down whatever was in your deck.

 

James:                          Yeah, screenshotted or something.

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah. But I’ve always been of the opinion that, especially nowadays, that doing research and thinking about the game is a lot more helpful than just mindlessly grinding games. I think that’s a mistake people make a lot, that they assume that professionals are grinding to some optimal decklist, where they’re playing a lot of matches. This is generally not how it works. People are way more likely to just try to figure out what’s actually happening and then do something based on that, rather than playing for hours upon end. I mean, practice is definitely important. Don’t get me wrong. But I think there’s just this mistaken impression that you need to play for forty hours before a Grand Prix, or whatever, to do well. If you play test effectively, you could do it in half the time.

 

James:                          I mean, it’s one part preparation and one part just being in the moment and being able to react properly to the board and your opponent. Is that fair?

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah, that is a huge part of it. And it probably helps that I have put in a lot of reps in a lot of different sort of weird formats that I sort of naturally know what to do in most situations.

 

James:                          I think I can attest to this, because you won GP Seattle with Lands and that was not an easy deck to play. It’s not an easy deck for someone who doesn’t… I’m guessing you’re not somebody who plays Legacy 24/7.

 

Jarvis:                          I know. I’m…

 

James:                          Exactly! Right?

 

Jarvis:                          I have played a lot of Legacy in the past, but nowadays it’s really off and on. But it’s not like the format completely changes every time I go back to it. A lot of things still remain true. In fact, during Seattle, the week before I was at a standard GP and I was planning on going to the Limited GP the weekend after and a modern GP the weekend after. I actually did Atlanta as well, which was Sealed Deck and Draft. I went 11-4. So I’ve always been of the opinion that it’s better to practice smart than to practice a lot.

 

jarvis1

 

James:                          Right! And it definitely seems to me that you are a multi-format all-star if I can put it that way. I’ve seen some of your finishes, I mean, Standard, Modern, Draft, other formats. Legacy, obviously, you won the whole thing [the Seattle GP]. There’s no way that you can put forty hours of practice into every format every week. I would have to assume that there’s some aspect of having muscle memory, or habits from playing so many games in the past, that can carry over into any format, right?

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah, that’s a good way of putting it. I actually have had this discussion with Bob Huang, who you know as well, that the reason the professionals are so good is not because they play all the time. It’s because they practice well. They know how to practice and they know how to synthesize information very well. I’ve seen Paulo pick up Miracles the week before a GP and still top-eight the GP without having played as many games as other people. And it’s not because he’s some sort of Miracles savant. It’s because he knows what needs to be done in most of the matchups just from his Magic intuition, from playing thousands of matches of Magic.

 

James:                          How much do you think that also has to do with the fact that these players, including yourself, have played with these Legacy cards when they were in Standard or Extended in the past? Do you think that factors into it? Like, I’ve used Sensei’s Divining Top a million times before. Or do you think that’s not really the main thing? It’s just that they have an innate understanding, or you have an understanding of matchup and how to play out situations?

 

Jarvis:                          I think that it is somewhat true. I did play with Top in Standard. I’m sure Paulo did as well. But the Miracles deck is pretty unique. But it’s not so different from the old Counterbalance-Top decks that used to exist, that you just have to forget everything. You just have to understand what your end goal is like in most of the matchups. And, yes, play testing helps there, but it’s also just a matter of focusing on what matters. If you’re playing Miracles versus Storm, it’s very clear that you want to get Top-Counterbalance as soon as possible. Just focusing on what matters and not worrying so much about doing every single thing right is also an advantage that I would say some of the professionals have.

 

James:                          I think that’s an excellent point, Jarvis. I often talk to people – and these are grinders or folks that are already good at Magic – and they have these mental limits that they impose on themselves. They beat themselves up over some small mistakes and they can’t get over it for the next three rounds. You raised an excellent point, which is to look at the big picture, be in the moment. You don’t need to play 100% technically well. Okay, don’t get me wrong! I’m sure you guys are nearly at 100%. That’s probably a prerequisite, but it’s a mindset thing as well, where you have to pick yourself back up or just know the matchups. You know what I mean?

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah, that’s 100% true. Like, even this past weekend I was playing a match versus Andrew Cuneo, who you might have heard of.

 

James:                          Oh yeah, I have.

 

Jarvis:                          One of the turns I just forgot to attack for two with my Sylvan Advocate, but I accepted that I made that mistake and moved on. Just trying to play as carefully as possible after that.

 

James:                          Right. And I think a lot of players make that mistake and it’s good that you’re able to see that dwelling on them is not a good way to win matches or tournaments.

 

Jarvis:                          It’s very good to go back and analyze things that you’ve done on camera before and notice how you can do them better after the tournament is over, but doing it within the tournament is often very perilous.

 

James:                          Right. So let me switch gears slightly. You said that you had studied Math. I’m going to guess that some of that helps with Magic. Do you see any intersection between your field of study and Magic, and do you think there might be some relationship there?

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah, I tend to think about things in more probabilistic sense than a lot of Magic players do. I think you’re familiar with this idea, but I try to envision what cards could be in the range, based on how the game has played out so far. I assign a likelihood to which cards would show up. I think this is a pretty big idea in poker, too—not reading someone, but just having a range of hands that your opponent could have.

 

James:                          Trying to figure out what your outs are, what your opponent’s outs are, and what he could possibly have. I think that’s definitely key.

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah, in some games there’s 0% for them to have something because they would have just played it out to beat you. It’s really important to realize that. Also, sometimes you just can’t play around a card, so I don’t bother playing around it. I’m just like, “If he has this card, I’m going to lose 100% of the time,” so you should just play as though they don’t have it. Just focusing on likelihoods, but also realizing when the likelihood doesn’t matter.

 

James:                          That’s interesting because, from articles that I’ve read, it seems like that’s always in a good player’s bag of tricks. Is that something you picked up quite early, even as you were playing Magic in college, or did it develop over time?

 

Jarvis:                          It took me a while to develop. It was definitely not in my early stages of development.

 

James:                          Okay. And you did fencing for a while, and you met some of your friends who played Magic through that. Fencing is a competitive thing. Magic is a competitive thing. Even Mahjong, or any game, can be competitive. But why Magic? Why this game that’s taken so many hours of your life investment, as opposed to other games and hobbies?

 

Jarvis:                          When I was in middle school and high school I did play competitive chess to some degree – just not with the greatest amount of success. I just realized that for a game that’s fully deterministic, you’re only going to become good at it if you’re studying it for hours on end. I decided at some point that a fully deterministic game wasn’t for me. So, Magic, being sort of halfway between chess and poker, is something that I decided I was interested in growing my skills on.

 

James:                          Did it have something to do with the fact that you recognized…I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but it sounds like chess is a very skill-intensive game that requires a lot of study and practice to play well. And Magic could be in that category as well. So, you aspired to climb a mountain which is not easy for just anybody to climb. This is not checkers, right?

 

Jarvis:                          Right.

 

James:                          This is something that you have to put in the work. Was that attractive to you when it came to Magic?

 

Jarvis:                          At the beginning I didn’t think about it. It was only much later into the competitive arena that I realized that that was a thing that distinguished people, and then I started applying myself to it. I did basically start as what people would call a competitive casual player, as opposed to an ordinary casual player.

 

James:                          Can you explain what you mean by that – by competitive casual?

 

Jarvis:                          Going back to my friend Israel Marquez, there was actually a point where we were both studying overseas in Beijing at Beijing Normal University. I don’t know if you know where that is. You probably do.

 

bj_normal

 

James:                          Oh, I absolutely do.

 

Jarvis:                          Beishida I think is the Chinese name for it. So, Dartmouth had a program with them in the summers—and I believe they still do—for studying Chinese language and Chinese culture. But, on the flipside, there’s a lot of downtime. So Israel and I would play a lot of Magic. And he had two decks at the time. He had Shuhei Nakamura’s “Red Deck Wins,” which had four Rishadan Port, four Wasteland, eight red fetchlands, and eight mountains, and a bunch of red creatures, and Cursed Scrolls. And he would play “The Rock” – the version that has Vampiric Tutor, Ravenous Baloth, and Recurring Nightmare. My introduction to playing Magic with Israel was playing that matchup a lot. That is what I would consider a competitive matchup, but I was a casual player. So, that’s what I mean by competitive casual, if that makes sense.

 

James:                          It wasn’t in a sanctioned tournament, but you were playing with competitive-caliber decks. Is that right?

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah, Shuhei even top-eighted a Pro Tour in 2005 with that deck, I believe. And I think he lost to Pierre Canali in the finals, who was playing Affinity. So that’s how I learned to play, with Red Deck Wins.

 

James:                          It must have been a challenging matchup. Red Deck Wins versus The Rock. I’m assuming that it wasn’t a landslide in any deck’s favor. I’m sure that your friend was a pretty good player already, and you probably won some and lost some. Is that fair?

 

Jarvis:                          Yeah, we weren’t keeping track, but I definitely learned a fair amount from both sides. It’s also interesting. We played at one of the local shops in Beijing at some point, and trying to explain to your opponent how you’re activating Cursed Scroll and naming an English card when they don’t know English, is not the easiest experience. I eventually settled on writing the name of the card in English down because they could read, but they couldn’t really communicate in it, if that makes sense.

 

James:                          It absolutely makes sense. Their reading and writing is a lot stronger than verbalizing anything, and I think it’s just the way that they study the English language, where it’s just all written exams and nothing oral or verbal.

 

Jarvis:                          Yup.

 

James:                          Yeah, that’s really cool! I did not know that you spent some time in Beijing. That’s awesome!

 

Jarvis:                          I actually spent…I would guess it was about eight weeks there, then I visited my father’s family in Hong Kong and also visited a shop down there, but most of the Hong Kongers do speak English because it was a British colony for so long.

 

James:                          It’s very different between Hong Kong and Mainland China.

 

Jarvis:                          Oh yes. I know very well.

 

James:                          I’m kind of preaching to the choir, but living in Beijing now, I still feel that.

 

Jarvis:                          How bad is the smog nowadays for you? I’m curious.

 

James:                          You know, we’ve been really fortunate so far this year. There haven’t been any “outbreaks”. I say “outbreaks” snidely because it’s all manufactured by them turning factories on and off.

 

Jarvis:                          Right.

 

James:                          But I mean, it’s fine. I’ve got my two air purifiers in my apartment and I have my masks in my backpack any time I need it.

 

Jarvis:                          Right.

 

James:                          One of my traditions is that, before going out anywhere in the morning, instead of checking for the temperature, I just look at the air quality index app on my phone. I don’t even care if it’s 8 degrees Fahrenheit, or 80 Fahrenheit, or whatever. I just care about the air quality. Priorities, right? But, to answer your question, it’s been really good. Fingers crossed, knock on wood.

 

To be continued…

 

If you like what you read, please do me a favor and subscribe to my mailing list. I will use the list to update you on the status of the book, and to send out information about discounts + bonus content + other cool stuff.

Thanks,

James

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: