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‘Survivor’ favorite talks about his TV time

By Eric Kurhi
Wednesday, September 14th, 2011 at 4:20 pm in Entertainment, Hayward, Odds & Ends.

"I took the crate, the big gorilla guys couldn't open it, I hit the corner on the ground and it broke open and suddenly I'm the genius."

Went to Monday’s meeting of the Hayward Rotary Club to gather information related to a story on fraternal organizations and service clubs. In attendance as guests were a couple of reality television stars from the “Survivor” series: Yau-Man Chan from the Fiji and Micronesia editions, and Vecepia Robinson, Hayward’s own contestant who took home the $1 million prize in Marquesas back in 2002.

It’s part of the Rotary’s efforts to bring in interesting speakers and in turn attract current Rotarians and prospective members to the meeting. More on that later, but Yau-Man definitely had the lunchtime crowd intrigued.

The MIT grad, chief tech officer at UC Berkeley’s College of Chemistry and national table tennis champion was recruited by the show in an effort to increase the diversity of contestants. Young white men dominate the pool of people trying out, Chan said, and show producers discovered him on the American Table Tennis website. They had him take an aptitude test of sorts to see whether he’d be a good, entertaining Survivor candidate.

“They said I tested high in shyness,” he said. “I told them I may be shy on an American scale, but among Chinese people I’m your wild and crazy guy.”

He said show producers are very strategic in what they cut and what they keep for the final product, highlighting only certain character traits. As a result you’ll always see “the loudmouthed jerk, the buffed guy, the exhibitionist.” As for Chan, he was the “lovable old geek.”

Interesting tidbit: One of Chan’s accomplishments on the show was starting a fire using a lens from his glasses. This feat can only be done if you know the trick, which they never revealed on the show, undoubtedly leading to thousands of failed fire-raising attempts by spectacle wearers everywhere.

The trick, Chan said, is to put a drop of water on the convex side of the lens. That will result in the concave shape necessary to concentrate light. So now you, too, have the knowledge. Use it wisely.

 

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  • Michael Moore

    Eric, this is certainly the oddest column you have contributed in some time. I guess it is what is coming about November 1.

  • Robert Sakai

    Great story Eric! I really enjoyed Yau-Man’s talk even though I’m not a reality tv fan.

  • qodrn

    Great column.

  • qodrn

    Would like someone to ask police why in the Michele Le case even though cell phones pointed to Sunol area, why the area was not searched? Shouldn’t one be able to obtain the cell phone dump pretty fast? Curious.