2013/03/21

First update in 10 years to this blog. My last post ten years ago on March 20, 2003 was about the effect that the U.S. Invasion of Iraq was having in China that day. I had been trying to just blog everyday stuff from China and keeping it apolitical. An hour after I blogged that post, I spoke to one of my sisters by long distance from the U.S. She's the least opinionated of my three sisters, but when I mentioned how stupid this whole idea was, she blasted me with, "Well, what do you know? You're in China!" What I knew then, but didn't tell her, was that I was outside the echo chamber of the run up to the war. And, no, I wasn't getting my news from Chinese sources (a common assumption among those who have never been here and assume we are being brainwashed). I was getting my news and information from commonly available western/US sources freely available (then) on the Internet. I would stop talking to her for 4 years after that comment. And I stopped being interested in blogging on stuff going on in China to my ordinary friends and family in the US. Thus the death, or remission, of this blog. I never wanted it to be political. But the tenth anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq has just passed and it seems as though all the nay-saying from those opposed at the time (like me) has gained traction in the young history of Iraq 2 (regardless of whether we were in China-few-or not). Much is yet to come, but the scorn poured upon those who were against it at the time (my sister to me; the neocons to the non-believers; Libby/Cheney to Plath) was unwarranted. This blog will not continue. (A) I don't like politics; (B) I HATE the Google Blogger/Blogspot format; but (C) I figured I needed a more transparent explanation of why ch-ch-ch-ch-china died. So there it is.

2003/03/20

:: LIVE FROM BAGHDAD ::

Surprisingly, China's Central Televsion (CCTV) is broadcasting the start of the War on Iraq live.I've been tuned into CCTV-9, the English channel, for the last couple of hours. Coverage includes live feeds from western reporters in Baghdad. The Chinese staff here in the Zhejiang U. Foreign Expert Building are watching the coverage (in Chinese) on the main channel (CCTV-1) and the international channel (CCTV-4).
:: NYT IS BACK ::

For the first time in many weeks, the New York Times website is directly accessible in China tonight.

Blogspot is still not accessible in China almost two months on.
:: SHAMROCK PUB ::

I've been meaning for months to inform HangzhouWorld about the Shamrock Pub - a REAL Irish Pub owned by a REAL Irish lass, situated on a REAL Song Dynasty Street (?) here in Hangzhou. OK, an Irish Pub on a Song Dynasty street may seem incongruous. Well it is. But if you're a foreigner in Hangzhou, it's about the only place you can find respite from the gawks and stares and "Hellooos" of the local Hoi Polloi.

And being owned by an Irishwoman, you KNOW that St. Patrick's Day rocked at the Shamrock here in Hanghzou. Check out the pics at my main site. (Click on the Guinness hats picture there to learn more).

2003/02/21

:: OOOPS THERE IT IS ::

This blog was gone for for most of the day...gone, I tell you! A few other blogspots were gone too, I noticed, like Lily's.

I went to the Blogger Status page and it seems as if they are switching over some of their servers, no doubt due to their recent purchase by Google.

A few minutes ago, I saw a new message that indicated some blogs are not appearing at their URL. (Yeah, like mine!) They aren't sure why, but they suggest re-publishing the entire site which is what I just tried to do, and it worked I think.

Anyway, any others reading this who have the same problem, go to your blogger account and re-publish everything. (If you're not sure how to do that, e-mail me.)

2003/02/18

:: WE'RE NUMBER 3 ::

... NOT that I place much faith in rankings, afterall, U.S. News and World Report's College Rankings have been criticized since they first started ranking American Colleges and Universities, .....

... AND, in China, they love to rate things: tallest building, fastest train, longest bridge, most famous ANYTHING .....

... STILL, as a member of the faculty at Zhejiang University, I was happy to learn this week that Zhejiang University came in 3rd place out of the 591 universities across China offering undergraduate courses. Qinghua (Tsinghua) and Beijing (Peking) Universities were #1 and #2. You can see the rankings here. If you can't read Chinese, you'll just have to take my word for it.

My Chinese colleagues won't get too excited. ZJU is well-known for paying salaries on the very low end of the scale - both to foreign teachers as well as the Chinese faculty. The school's standard response is, "Well, yes, but you will be working at one of China's premier universities...."

Now they have the latest rankings to back them up. û°ì·¨ (Mei Ban Fa)!

2003/02/15

:: MUST SEE TV: CHINA IN THE RED::

Wow!!! Powereful, powerful show! I just finished watching all 11 parts of Frontline's China in the Red. PBS is NOT blocked here, contrary to what their website says. You can catch all 11 parts by going here.

Judging from the comments the show received, it will certainly update or change many Americans' view of China.

I mentioned in the previous post that I spent 2 1/2 years living in Northeast China at the same time this show was recorded and it is a very accurate picture of what I saw and experienced there.

Stop reading this blog and immediately go watch the show here. That's an order.
:: CHINA IN THE RED::

PBS Frontline last night (2/13) ran "China in the Red" - a look at the ch-ch-changes in China from 1998-2001. Anyone watch it? Of course, I didn't because I'm here (China) not there (DuctTapeLand).

Here's the producer, Sue Williams on the website: "[O]ver the years of going to China, I was more and more struck by how little Americans know about China, and, in some instances, what negative perceptions they have about it."

And again: "And I really wanted to show Americans how ordinary Chinese live. So it seemed that if we followed people over a period of time, we could let an American audience get to know these characters and relate to them."

It focuses on 10 individuals from 1998-2001 - most from the north and northeast section including Mu Sui Xin the ex- (in all senses of that prefix) Mayor of Shenyang. I lived in that area in 1998 and again in 2000-2001. I am really interested to see how accurate Williams captures the life and times that I saw there.

According to the website, it'll be available for web broadcast at 11:00 a.m. Saturday morning China time. I'll be watching while my friends back home are duct taping their safe rooms.

2003/02/10

:: YEAH, BUT CAN HE DRIVE THE LANE??? ::

Interesting profile on Yao Ming at ESPN Insider: Yao Ming:American Idol. The opening segment is funny - Yao is practicing driving his new Sequoia in the Rockets' parking lot surrounded (of course) by reporters. When a Chinese female reporter tells him "You can't drive really" (Chinese women can be SO direct), he tells her to hop in...and immediately slams his SUV into another parked SUV. (No harm, no foul - as we say in basketball.)

Luckily for all of us living here in China, we'll never end up in his cab. But the man CAN play hoops and he has acquitted himself very well thus far. Better than the naysayers had predicted. And the overall article makes Yao seem endearing Yao Ming:American Idol. I'll be watching the All-Star Game live in China tomorrow morning and rooting for Yao.

Yao Ming, Jia You!

2003/02/08

:: WEBSITE UPDATED ::

As I mentioned in my very first post to this blog, this blog is simply an extension of the website I started way back in 1998 when I first came to China. Over the years, I have slapped stories and photos on the website until now, it has grown to over 50 MB with more than 125 pages and 1100 jpgs (at last count).

With 6 weeks of vacation, I decided to try to catch up with that site this week - all 50MB of it. And to make it worth your while to go visit it, I dusted off the Hangzhou chapter which has been sitting in my computer for months awaiting the re-design.

So go take a look at the refurbished Chuck@China. WIth it you get the Hangzhou chapter with sections on Hangzhou history, pictures of Hangzhou, pictures of West Lake, and an article on Hangzhou today.

Also new on the site is a section of photos from Adam and Heidi, two of my Zhejiang University teaching colleagues so their freinds back home can check them out.

Last and least, I will soon be moving this blog over to my main site because I am tired of having to proxy around the China Firewall to get to this site. I'll do that next week. The new address of this blog will then become . I'll let you know when that happens.

2003/01/30

:: A POX ON BOTH DA HOUSES ::

Pizza has taken Hangzhou by storm, as anyone living in Hangzhou will tell you. Four years ago, when I first visited Hangzhou, there was exactly one Pizza place here. Unfortunately, it was a Pizza Hut. When I moved here two years ago, Pizza was blossoming - the Radisson had and the Shangri-La Hotels had added Italian restaurants, and a lot of small pizza shops had begun to sprout like.....well, mushrooms. I can direct you to at least 20 places serving palatable pizza in Hangzhou these days. And Pizza Hut is at the end of the list.

Which is funny, because the Pizza Hut here is famous. Why? Well, the Chinese will tell you, "Oh, It's FAMOUS American Pizza". They line-up outside the restaurant every night to get in. LINE UP! In China! No one LINES UP in China! Except to go to Pizza Hut. (It was the same deal with the Pizza Hut in Suzhou when I lived there.)

Most of us foreigners here laugh when we go by the Pizza Hut, on our way to a couple of nearby places that actually have better pizza, because the only people in line, always, are the Chinese waiting to show off to their friends that they are at The Famous American Pizza Hut.

So Dumb

This is Even Dumber

My classes are finished, Miranda has gone back to Dongbei for Chun Jie, and I have been working on a couple of Internet projects this week. I surfaced for air at about 8:00 tonight realizing it was way past dinner time. Miranda-less, I decided to bicycle down the street to a nearby Pizza HOUSE. Now these places are popping up all over - they are Chinese rip-offs of Pizza Huts - same menu, same motif, and, unfortunately, the same quality of pizza. But no waits in line.

A couple of weeks ago, Miranda and I were watching the FRIENDS DVD series and we decided to get a pizza delivery. This was a first for me in China and we called the nearby Pizza HOUSE. They bicycled over in less than 30 minutes with a piping hot pizza. (No small children were maimed by maniac pizza delivery drivers.) The delivery guy left a coupon. My Chinese reading isn't too good, but it said something about ordering your next nine inch pizza and you get something else free (that part was unclear).

So, when I arrived at the Pizza HOUSE tonight, I remembered the coupon and I asked the waitress. She told me that if I ordered a 9 inch pizza, I would get a choice of free wings, waffle fries, or french fries with the coupon. This place has excellent waffle fries so I said OK, "A 9 inch American pepperoni pizza", handed her the coupon, and added "the waffle fries".

Then I said, "Hey, wait". (Actually, I said it in Chinese)

"Make it a 12 inch Pizza". I figured I had already ordered too much, me being solo and all, and I figured I'd get the large size and take the rest home for lunch tomorrow.

"Bu ke neng", the waitress immediately told me. "Can't do it."

"Huh?" I asked.

Your coupon is only good for 9 inches. If you want 12 inches you don't get free waffle fries.

And this, dear friends, is the conundrum of life in China. Here is a western wannabe restaurant (Pizza HOUSE) dipping into the world of western marketting (COUPONS) with decidedly western products (pizza and fries) and they haven't a clue. How much dumber can dumb be?

Let's walk through this: I order a 9 inch - 40 RMB pizza. I have a coupon which says if I buy the 9 inch pizza, I get10 RMB fries. I don't really want the fries, but hey, they are free. And as I order, I think, order a LARGER pizza (12 inches). With the fries, I won't be able to finish the whole pizza so I can take the leftovers home for lunch tomorrow. That larger pizza costs 60 RMB. I am spending MORE MONEY than the original coupon was enticing me to spend. Suddenly, according to the waitress, the coupon is worthless. I really didn't care about the fries, but I was doing the restaurant a favor by upgrading my pizza order from 9 to 12 inches (an extra 20 RMB to them) but they were sticking to the terms of the coupon. This is a PRIME example of the linear thinking in Chinese businesses. More on that in a later article.

But this absolute stupidity became a matter of principle to me as I sat there. How dumb is this?

The purpose of the coupon is to get the customer back to the shop. It worked. But if the customer decides to spend MORE than the coupon terms, well, ....that's the point of getting the customer back to the shop. Duh!

This reminds me, interstingly enough, of ANOTHER pizza place in Hangzhou. Miranda and I went there a few times. It's far west of the city and so it gets very few foreigners. I think it has the best pizza in Hanghzou. So on our first trip there, shocked as they were to see a real, live foreigner in their shop, they gave me their standard, laminated "VIP" card.

Later, Miranda translated it for me. All of the "specials" involved carry-out or home delivery. But home delivery to any foreigner in the Hangzhou was outside their service area. So what's the point of the card, I asked?

Still, their pizza was all that.....and it was worth the trip there, sans discount.

On Christmas Eve, after playing the Santa Claus dude at a campus party, Miranda (Santa's helper) and I went to this Pizza place. Santa (Moi) was jonesing for a good pizza. The waitress and manager were in good spirits (wouldn't you be too if Santa Claus walked into your resaturant on Christmas Eve) and I pulled out my old VIP card. I also pointed out the "weakspots" in their approach - why limit the discount to customers for home delivery, give the same discounts to customers who actually come to your "otherwise empty" restaurant - and while they are here, they will order more knowing there is a discount?

While Miranda and I were eating, they apparently had a majordomo discussion on this in the office. As we were leaving, sans discount, they asked me for my VIP card. It disappeared into the front office and appeared moments later with taped notes to it. Apparently, my VIP card to Napoli Pizza on Wen Xin Street in Hangzhou now treats me equally whether I eat in or eat out.

I'm a Napoli Pizza man now.....and a pox on Pizza Hut (for bad food) and Pizza House (for awful service).

Postscript: Leylop can probably tell you tales from her days at Pizza Hut. And I hope she does at her Blog. A no-tip policy at a Pizza Hut for employees? A "Take a tip and take a walk"policy? It's true here in China. Sponsored by Pepsi.
:: BLOG OUT II YES ::

Yep, Blogspot blogs have been blocked again. We can't access our sites to read them, though we can still post to them (as I am doing now, duh!).

The funny thing is, no one here seems to care much and we have barely noticed it...because during the last Blog Out">, everyone here figured out how to get around it.

It's a little inconvenient. But hey, it's the price you have to pay for living in China.

It's somewhat similar to the little inconveniences that the Little Bushes have been incrementally imposing on everyday life in the U.S since 2000, accelerated after 911, and going full bore after last November's elections when they regained control of the Senate.

The new Homeland Security Administration sounds an awful lot to me like Public Security Bureau. It's all in the translation, I guess. And the implementation.

Anyway, Blogging in China continues apace, mostly unabated.

2003/01/28

:: BLOG OUT II ? ::

I thought it might be as a result of the Slammer Virus that I haven't been able to access my Blog for the last couple of days nor any other Blogspot Blogs. But other sites are coming through fine now and yet, no Blogspot sites. Using "other means", I am now able to access my Blog. So it looks like Round II of the Blog Out has started.

If you are in China and able to read this without resorting to "other means" (ya know what I mean) leave a comment below.

2003/01/20

:: ENGLISH TIPS FROM ENGLISH LEARNERS ::

Earlier this semester, I had my senior writing classes write short essays on methods they have personally found useful in their language learning through the years. The textbook suggested that these be assembled into a booklet but, hey, this is the 21st century. I told them I would put it all together and stick it on the web. Actually back then (November) I did do a quick webpage and threw all the essays (unformatted and unproofed) onto a website. We then spent a couple of classes going over the CONTENT of their writing in class. It they were very useful classes because I could critique everything: style, grammar, word choices, CHINGLISH! while the whole class watched and learned. But I had no time to rework the original site until classes ended last week. I spent the weekend on this. (See Miranda, I did have stuff to do, zhende!)

Actually, I as a teacher, learned quite a lot from reading the advice my students were giving to others about what works for them.

Anyway, if you are a student of English OR a teacher in China teaching English (actually there's some advice there on Japanese, too), I highly recommend you visit their site for some good, sound advice.

If not and/or if you have been following leylop's blog, you will see that Zhejiang University students have a very good command of English when given the opportunity to use it.

Go visit the site and let them know you were there.

P.S. Check out the Photo Gallery there for pictures of The Baseball Lesson.


:: STATE OF THE UNION? ::

This is funny... er, scary ... um, both.
( Requires Real Player and broadband )

2003/01/18

:: YAO v. SHAQ ::

There's been a lot of noise (via Jane) this week over racist comments Shaquille O'Neill made this summer about Yao Ming. Today was their first matchup.

I was lucky to catch the ESPN feed live (albeit with Chinese commentators) on Zhejiang TV this morning (China time). I was hoping Yao might kick some Shaq-Ass. First time down the court, Yao slapped away Shaq's first shot. Down to the other end of the court and Yao hit a soft jump-hook over a flat-footed Shaq. In fact, Shaq's first four shots were blocked-three by Yao. I think he earned some respect from Shaq.

Anyway, the game settled down and I settled in. Yao held his own well, even though Shaq ended up with 31 points to Yao's 10. Yao was still a force with 6 blocked shots and 10 RBs. Being an ex-basketball coach and referee, I know there's more to playing a good game than simply how many points you personally rack up. And the bottom line is did your team win or lose....

.... Well, the game went into OT and with 10 seconds left, Yao threw down a jam which iced the Rocket's victory - 108-104 (although the last 10 seconds took about 10 minutes to play as both teams exchanged numerous time-outs and foul shots).

When Yao threw down his jam, ESPN showed a woman dancing in the stands with a cool sign: "Hey Shaq, who's Yao Daddy?"

I think Shaq will keep his mouth shut from now on.

P.S. I actually saw Shaq's father walk over after the game and give Yao a hug while Yao was waiting to be interviewed.

2003/01/16

:: BLOGS HELD HOSTAGE - AND ON THE NINTH DAY... ::

....suddenly, blogspot.com blogs were open again from within China. TIC.

2003/01/13

:: THIS IS CHINA? ::

I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own two eyes.

Right here in Hangzhou, there is an amusement park named Song Dynasty Town. And right next door is "America Land".

Some filthy rich Chinese guy has built a full scale replica of the White House (complete with Oval Office and Red Room) and smaller scale replicas of the Washington Monument (with Reflecting Pool) and Mount Rushmore. It's about the most bizarre thing I have seen in China and, believe me, I have seen some VERY bizarre things here.

Check out the pictures I took of America Land yesterday which I posted on the front page of my website

2003/01/12

:: BLOGS HELD HOSTAGE - DAY 5 ::

Well, the Great China Blog Out is in it's fifth day with no signs of relief. But we're dealing with it. The blogging has continued and the rest of the world, if not China, are able to access the blogs. It's like a one-way Iron Curtain has been pulled down again. The sad thing is that most of the Chinese blogs, at least the ones written by foreigners, are usually positive about China. Blogging has been a way to get the word out to the rest of the world (read: the U.S.) that China really isn't as bad a place as it is often portrayed in the West.

And then they go and do something stupid like this Blog Block.

With the aid and assistance of U.S. companies, it should be pointed out.

Anyway, here's some links with more in depth information on the Great China Blog Out:
t-salon
openflows

2003/01/10

:: BLOG OUT ::

For the third day in a row, I have been unable to access this Blog from Hangzhou nor any other Blogs hosted by blogspot.com. More than a dozen people have contacted me advising me that they are having similar problems accessing blogspot.com Blogs around China. Other's report similar problems.

I hope this problem will be resolved. In the meantime, it still is possible to post messages to the Blogs (see, ?m doing that right now!), we just can't access the sites to read them. (Well, I can but I won't tell you how... nod nod wink wink!)

:: HANGZHOU SNOW ::

The last time it snowed in Hangzhou was 1997. Today, I woke up to a fluffy blanket of snow-coated trees which sure beats the grimey, gray snow of Dongbei where I lived for 2 1/2 years.

So I grabbed my camera and headed down to Westlake in the early morning. The roads were still too slick to ride my bicycle, so I took a taxi. When I told the driver Xi Hu (West Lake), Duan Qiao (Broken Bridge), he said, "Ah! Going to see the snow on Broken Bridge!"

Broken Bridge (Duan Qiao) is known throughout China because it is the place where the mythical "Lady White Snake" met her lover on a rainy day in Hangzhou. The story is learned by students throughout China when they are still in primary school. What most Chinese don't know, is how Broken Bridge got its name. Apparently, on one occasion it snowed in Hangzhou and the snow on half the bridge melted while the other half stayed snowy.

When the taxi arrived at Broken Bridge today, it was impossible to tell if this myth was true - the entire bridge was jammed with people standing there and taking pictures. Honestly, I have never seen more people standing on that bridge (and folks, it gets jammed every weekend and every holiday). Broken Bridge could have melted into West Lake today with all the humanity swarming across it.

So I told the taxi driver to keep going and I had him drop me at the Xi Ling Bridge at the other end of the lake. I jumped out of the taxi and began taking pictures. The snow lay softly on the still, green trees and muted the usually raucous noise of ever-present tourists. I saw many, MANY professional photographers with tripods wandering around. West Lake truly is a photogenic masterpiece and everyone was here today to catch her shrouded in white.

In all, I snapped off 104 pictures myself (according to my digital count). I have posted some of the best on the main page of my website tonight.

Today was also another auspicious day in my life. My father turned 77 today. Happy Birthday Dad! I wish you could have been here in Hangzhou to see how beautiful this place is.

2003/01/06

:: THIS IS SCARY! II ::

(See the previous entry)

Man, I am so stupid! I spent 30 minutes on this thing this morning trying to trick it. And I read many of the comments at the site speculating how it is done (quite a few people seem to think the guy has discovered a way to track your eye movement through the computer - a scary thought in itself).

Then, right after posting the previous entry, I checked the link to see if it was working and I played it three times and SUDDENLY, I figured out how it works. DOH!

Tell you what, if you think you figured it out, send me an e-mail (click "e-mail" at the end of the entry) rather than posting it in the comments. I'm curious to see everyone's results. To remind you, it was correct 24 out of 25 times with me.

(Also, I made a mistake in the first post - Little Bush and ROVE are using the "technology" on national POLICY grounds.)
:: THIS IS SCARY! ::

Try this ESP Experiment. It's amazing! I tried it 25 times and it was wrong only once. Scary!

Bush and Ashcroft have reportedly confiscated the technology on national security grounds. :)

Anyway, try it yourself and report back here with your results.

Thanks to alf for putting me on to this.
:: SO, YOU WANT TO TEACH IN CHINA? ::

I have been teaching in China for almost 5 years. I often get e-mail asking about what it is like to teach in Chinese universities. I have never read a better description of what it is like for those of us teaching here (especially if you are in the smaller cities) than the description that Hank Jones has written in his newly created Blog.

Hank has been teaching in China for two years. In fact, we first made acquaintance when he sent me one of those "What's it like to teach in China" e-mails while he was a university teacher in Mississippi. Well, now he's been here for two years and he has written, in my opinion, the definitive description based on his own experience. His description rings as clear and true as a temple bell to my ears and I have lived and taught in big universities and small colleges, in big towns and small.

It should be required reading for anyone thinking of coming here to teach. Current teachers would do well to read it too as Hank has a clear grasp on what our students have to put up with - something that often isn't explained to foreign teachers by the students or the faculty when we arrive.

Run, do not walk, to The Laowai Monologues.

Hank: you done good...real good.

2003/01/05

:: BASEBALL...IN JANUARY...IN CHINA ::

Saturday morning (-2ºC - 28ºF) I taught some of my students how to play baseball. This was actually a lesson - the previous week, I had given them a full lesson on Baseball English complete with many baseball idioms that are so much a part of everyday American English (i.e. Hit a home run, strike out, you have two strikes against you, throw someone a fastball/curveball, the bases are loaded, he's out in right field, etc. etc.). I had prepared a powerpoint complete with diagrams and pictures and terms and ended the class by showing them a couple of innings of a simulated game on the "Sammy Sosa-High Heat Baseball" computer game.

Of course, you can't really appreciate baseball until you actually play it and due to typically stupid Chinese scheduling, (we had to have class on Saturday and Sunday to "make up" for having a three-day New Years holiday (Jan 1-3) - I mean, what's the point of giving someone a couple days off if they have to make them up on weekends - DOH!) I decided that we would "extend" the Baseball English class on Saturday by actually playing the game.

The classes are at the new campus here which is only about 50% completed, if that. But they have managed to install a beautiful artificial turf soccer field. It's the nicest turf I have seen anywhere, the States included. And it looked, felt and acted like natural grass but for two things: (1) it was a deep green color in contrast to the yellow-green of the surrounding natural turf fields, and (2) despite the frost on the grass at 8:00 am, it provided pretty good traction for my students most of whom showed up in leather soled shoes. No one slipped or fell, which was a big concern of mine given the weather conditions.

It was great to play baseball again, even given the cold conditions. The students seemed to love it. I have posted a few pictures on my main website.

2003/01/03

:: GOD SAVE THE WORLD ::

"I'm the person who gets to decide, not you."

- The American Plenipotentiary...I, mean President....to reporters, recently,
who questioned whether war with Iraq was inevitable.

2002/12/29

:: LEG OF LAMB ::

Today, a dean from another local college took me out for lunch, We went to a great Xinjiang restaurant here in Hangzhou. I have been there a few times before and always enjoyed the meal. They serve the best fire-roasted leg of lamb I've ever had in China.

This time, the restaurant provided me with their English menu so I had a look at some of the other stuff they had while we were waiting for the leg of lamb (it takes about 30 minutes to prepare). I whipped out a pen and jotted down some of the memorable menu items for your culinary pleasure (all translations and spelling come straight from their menu):

Grilled Camel Meat
Bloat in Oil Horse Flesh
Fried Mutton Knuckles with Brown Sauce (Yes, I guess it's true. The Chinese WILL eat EVERY part of the animal, even the knuckles!)
Fried Black Lamb Lung (I just wanted to ask them "Where do you find sheep who smoke?")
Lotus Stew Silkey Fowl Soup (I'm assuming that it's made with some kind of bird and not a misspelling of "foul".)
Devil Edible Grass-Stems (Huh?)
Stewed Turtle with Young Pigeon (Actually, you can see many stewed turtles with young pigeons on their arms at the WaHaHa Disco on any Saturday night in Hanghzou).

Makes your mouth water, right?

2002/12/09

:: HANGZHOU NEWSLETTER ::

The principal of the newly-built Hangzhou International School has decided to publish a monthly newsletter for foreigners living in Hangzhou. (The Hangzhou International School is an adjunct of the new No. 2 Middle School in Xiaoshan, just across the river from Hangzhou proper.) Here's the November issue which was forwarded to me by a friend. It's got a lot of useful information if you are new to the Hangzhou area.
:: 1-2-3-4-5 ::

Saturday morning, I was having an early lunch with a former student of mine, Janet (front row, center), who is in her first year of teaching computer science at a Hangzhou high school. We talked about a variety of issues she faced as a first year teacher from the sublime (gifts from students on Teachers' Day) to the profane (students playing computer games during her lab rather than doing the assigned exercises.

On the latter subject, she told me a story which is quite funny. Buit it's also useful informaton for anyone living in Hangzhou AND it kind of takes the wind out of the sails of those westerners (usually Americans) who claim the Chinese people have no say in their government affairs. Anyway, the story:

The Mayor of Hangzhou established a telephone and e-mail Hotline for the city residents last year. I knew about it from seeing a couple of articles in the Zhejiang English News over the past year. But in each of the articles, such "unimportant" details as the actual phone number and actual e-mail address weren't in the articles. (There is a decided lack of attention to important details that permeates nearly everything in China - but that's another story for another time.)

So while Janet is talking about her occassional "naughty" student, I ask her how she handles it if she finds a student playing computer games rather than focusing on the lesson. Does she send him out of the classroom?

No, she tells me, she has been warned by her school not to use such a tactic. Why? Well, it seems that there has been a recent rash of "situations" in some schools (not hers) where students have been sent out of the classroom. Most Chinese students in Hangzhou these days have cell phones, even in the high schools. So the first thing students have been doing lately when they get sent out of the classroom is...you guessed it! They pull out their cell phone and call the Mayor's Hotline and complain that their teacher is prohibiting them from attending the class. According to Janet, the Hotline people take this pretty seriously and they usually dispatch someone to the school immediately! Although in five years in China, I have only had to throw two students out of the classroom, I'm going to remember this new piece of advice.

Janet told me another story about the Hotline. A new restaurant opened on the first floor of her parents' apartment house and the smoke from the restaurant was wafting up into their apartment. So Janet's mom called the Hotline to complain. Within two weeks, the restaurant was shuttered.

How's that for quick action! In Hangzhou, at least, the Mayor DOES listen to the people.

Oh...and that number, in case you need it? Just dial 1-2-3-4-5. There's a bank of phones and Janet thinks that at least one or two people on the phone bank can probably speak some English.

So the next time some vendor is cheating you or a taxi driver tries to take you the long way or you see something you think needs fixing here in Hangzhou, just pick up the phone and dial 12345 and let the Mayor know. And the next time someone who has never set foot in China complains that the people here have no say in their civic affairs or that their voices are suppressed, point them to this story.

2002/12/04

:: MIAO MIAO'S THESIS ::

A while back, I solicited your help for one of my old students who is completing her Masters thesis in Linguistics. I got some replies and forwarded them to her. Tonight she sent me a draft of the body of her thesis. It's heavy reading, but if you sort through it, she makes some interesting points. Anyway, I am posting it here by way of thanks to those who responded as well as FYI to anyone else interested. (The document is in Word format.)

2002/12/02

:: 20,000 HITS ::

Wow, I just happened to stop by my main website just now and noticed that the counter was at 19,997. Three more hits and Chuck@China will reach the double ten thousand mark. That's an auspicious occasion in China. You may all send me "hong bao" which I will happily share with the 20,000th visitor.

2002/12/01

:: USING YOUR HEAD ::

I don't see nearly as many beggars on the streets of China as I did on the streets and in the parks of the U.S. One thing about the people in China, they will do almost anything to earn a kuai. Here's a recent article from the Zhejiang English News:

Man Has a Head for Advertising

A man with an advertisement painted on his clean-shaven pate has been getting noticed in the busy streets of Hangzhou, reports Jiangnan Daily. Xu Bin asks clients for 200 to 300 yuan (US$24-36) a day to walk around with their advertisement on his head. He started the business at the beginning of the month, saying that the oddity makes people look carefully at the ad. So far, the innovative 31-year-old from Tiantai, Zhejiang, has advertised two businesses on his head. (11/28/2002)


Sinosplice has a picture of the guy. I'm not sure, but I think the Chinese characters are translated as "Your Ad Here".
:: PANDAMATCH.COM ::

Pandas need love too, you know:

BEIJING (Reuters) - International panda experts have designed computer software to help the charismatic and endangered bears find their ideal mates, a newspaper reported on Monday.

The software, developed by experts at a meeting in China, would analyze the health and bloodlines of each panda in captivity to find the best match while avoiding close relatives, the Star Daily said.


Read more here....
:: IN A WORD, SAN GE DAI BIAO ::

The 16th Party Congress has concluded and one of its main results was the enshrinement of Jiang Zemin's "San Ge Dai Biao" Theory -"The Three Represents" is the official English translation - in the Chinese Constitution. Nobody quite understands it, but here's an English translation I ran across (sorry, I lost the cite where I found it):

"Reviewing the course of struggle and the basic experience over the past 80 years and looking ahead to the arduous tasks and bright future in the new century, our Party should continue to stand in the forefront of the times and lead the people in marching toward victory. In a word, the Party must always represent the requirements of the development of China's advanced productive forces, the orientation of the development of China's advanced culture, and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people in China."


The translator was certainly not one of my former students. Notice the last sentence which (s)he begins with "In a word..." and then goes on to use 37 more words to make the point! Chinese-English teachers teach their students in high school that this use of "in a word" is a good model for concluding an article or essay...so I get hundreds of essays about 90% of which conclude with "In a word".
I now tell my students that if they use such an ending in their papers, I will take off one point for each additional word they add. In this case, the translator gets a score of 64 (-36) simply based on that last sentence.

In short, attempting to describe The Three Represents with a single word is, in a word, impossible.
:: SOMETHING YOU WON'T FIND ON A CHINESE CAMPUS ::

I often get this question from my students: "How are your American college students different from your Chinese college students". The next time I get this question, I'll point them here (the aftermath of Ohio State's victory over Michigan).
:: MORE BLOGS ::

I have added some new China-related blog links to the left side of your screen including the three blogs I wrote about in my last two entries. Also, if you are jonesing for even more China blogs, check out the almost-definitive China Blog List at John's Sinosplice.
:: WESTERN MEDIA ON CHINA ::

I came across a very interesting blog recently: "Western Media on China".

Having lived in China for 4.5 years, I often find myself reading western news articles about China and scratching my head and wondering which China they are writing about - certainly not the one that I am living in. There is a small but perceptible anti-China slant in many articles written by western journalists. "Western Media on China" is a Chinese Journalist's perspective on how western journalists cover China. It's a fresh viewpoint on China-related news that many westerners don't get a chance to see or hear. Add it to your "Must Surf" list today.

(Related note: A couple of years ago, a professor from Yale got in touch with me through my main website. She was teaching a journalism class and they were studying this very issue. She was looking for some feedback on whether a "foreigner" who is actually on the ground in China perceives a negative slant to some western articles. I lost touch with her but I think I'll dig out her e-mail address and try to find out the denouement of her students' project.)

2002/11/25

:: BACKBLOGGED ::
Sorry folks, I have come down with a serious case of backblog. Plus, I have been kept busy lately by the Zhejiang University English Festival. I wrote, designed and presented a couple of multi-media lectures on language learning (7 Tips to Improve Your Pronunciation and Chinglish 2 English: Upgrade your Chinglish to English 2.0 ), hosted a Movie Night (Shakespeare in Love) and put together a new web site for my Writing classes here at ZJU.

I want to welcome Tina and Jane, both of whom left comments here and both of whom have very cool blogs of their own. Actually, unbeknownst to Tina, I have been reading her blog for well over a year. That Grrrl can write. Someone please give her a job!

Links to their blogs along with a few others, are on my backblog list of things to do, but for now, check out Tina and Jane's blogs.

Actually, Tina was also the winner of that last contest "What's Up With This?". So she wins a free map of Hangzhou. What format do you want, Tina? (*nb: Delivery charges on the concrete format are the responsibilty of the winner.

I'll catch up on my backblogs this week. In the meantime, go check out my Writing Students' new web site. And leave them a message in the Guestbook there to let them know you visited. (P.S. The articles there are their first draft. This week's class is on proofreading and revision! So go easy on them.)

2002/11/11

:: WHAT'S UP WITH THIS? ::
So why are all these people wandering around looking at their feet?

First person (*) to Comment correctly wins a free map of Hangzhou. Please specify whether you want the Chinese, English, or concrete version.
* Hangzhou and Zhejiang residents are not eligible *

2002/11/10

:: SUNDAY IN THE PARK ::
Another fine weekend in Hangzhou. My folks called late in the week and asked if there were still leaves on the trees. Back in Cleveland, I guess, they've already turned from orange to brown and fallen down. Kind of like the football team there.

But it's still green and lush here in Hangzhou. I went around the the newly renovated south end of the lake today with Angela. You remember, a few blogs ago I asked your opinion about that picture?

Well, here's a picture of Angela today. Gotta love the pink sunglasses. She was stylin'. But, alas, she doesn't like this picture either.

Here's a picture from Yong Jin Park along the Lake. That's the Chinese Neptune, Zhang Shen I think his name is. He was one of the 108 bandits in the famous Chinese novel "The Water Margin". He drowned near this very spot according to the legend. Behind him, wading in the lagoon, is a giant golden ox - Yong Jin. There's some myth that this golden ox brought rains long ago when this area was going through a drought. Thus, they honor the the golden ox. China has a story for everything. Beyond the ox is a newly-built footbridge. I love the way the people in this picture show up in silhouette - outlined by the calm waters of West Lake and framed by the western hills beyond.

They really did a beautiful job in renovating and opening up the south end of the Lake which used to be three distinct parks separated by acres of areas off-limits to the public. Now, they have opened up everything and connected the parks and it's one very long stroll in which you can cover half the lake. Best of all, to the Chinese, it's actually FREE. That's right, FREE! Nothing in China is free except, now.....West Lake. Since October 1st, all scenic spots surrounding West Lake are now free by the benificence of the Hangzhou CIty government. This is the first progressive local government I have encountered in my years in China.

Here's another first: I saw my first public drinking water fountain in China. I have told my students how we have drinking water fountains everywhere in the States and they have always been impressed...and skeptical. No one in China drinks water from any tap. It's bottled water only here.

But the locals were all enamored with this fountain, today. Most stood around agape and agog (a common reaction in China when strange things like water fountains and/or foreigners suddenly appear on the streets). They watched timidly as others approached and a few daredevils took a few gulps. When they realized that it was truly drinkable water, they jostled to use it. Did they drink from it? Mostly not. Most of them pulled out their water bottles and filled them up. Afterall, the Chinese are the supreme "xiao qi gui" (cheapskates). Why settle for a few free gulps when you can fill your whole water bottle for free.

At the other end of the spectrum, when Angela and I had finished our trek along the lake, we headed over to the new WESTLAKE TIMES shopping mall which just opened. It's another branch mall of this place but the WESTLAKE TIMES is even posher. The shops are tres upscale.

In China, you cannot get any more upscale than this: they had a GOLF SHOP!. I mean a REAL GOLF SHOP. With the likes of Ping and Golden Bear and MaxFli and all that. It's been quite a few years since I looked at clubs and the biggest thing that shocked me was how large the heads on the drivers are now. I mean, Big Bertha's were Big 6 or 7 years ago, but the driver heads I saw today on the Golden Bears were as large as the Yangcheng Lake Hairy Crabs.

Life in China, life in Hangzhou hurtles forward everyday in so many ways.

2002/11/09

:: TWO QUESTIONS FOR TEACHERS ::
Here are two questions for any non-Chinese teachers out there who have taught in China. (Please leave your Comments below or, if you have more to say in the subject, send me an email.)

(1) How important do you think pronunciation is? I know Chinese students always worry about their damn pronunciation even though I can understand them just fine. In my opinion, they waste to much time and angst on improving their pronunciation. Do you agree or disagree?

(2) Despite #1, I nevertheless do spend time on pronunciation work with my students if only because they appreciate, nay, demand it. I have developed a set lecture I call vaguely, "7 Tips to Improving Your Pronunciation". In it, I focus on the following sounds: the short "i", "th", "v" vs. "w", "r" vs. "l" (a big problem in this province), and the "zh" sound ("usually", "pleasure").
I focus on these because they are the most difficult for my students from my experience. As I said in #1, I really think the students worry too much about it so I don't want to turn my conversation class into a phonetics class. However, there's a company in Hangzhou which has heard a few of my set lectures and they want to publish and distribute them in a set. That's fine with me if they want to do it (and pay me!), although I don't really believe it will work. I think the lectures work because of my style in delivering them and you can't capture style on paper (or the Internet as this Blog proves). But (as my students say), "I'll have a try". So I'm working up the various lectures (another of which is on eliminating stuff like the preceding phrase). 7 Tips works in the classroom because it's short and sweet. I think though, for the book, maybe I should expand it to include other common pronunciation problems students have. In your experience, what other problems have you encountered in addition to the 7 listed above. Leave your Comment below or e-mail me. Credit will be given in the book of course, though I can't promise you any royalties. (It's difficult to split zero kuai 3 ways.)

2002/11/08

:: WEST LAKE: A DREAM ::
There's an English news site for the Hangzhou area which I check everyday. It's usually filled with the kind of mundane stuff that passes for Chinese news.

Yesterday though, there was a very different style of article titled West Lake: A Dream.

The article wanders around a lot, but if you have live here or have been here, I think it's a fascinating melange of West Lake folklore and myth.

I've lived all around China and can tell you, truly, that every Chinese child grows up learning and hearing about West Lake and its myths and folklore. My Northeast China students semed to know every story about West Lake and prepared me well for when I moved here.

Poets and artists through the ages have depicted her. A trip to West Lake once in their life is the dream of most Chinese people. Whether the Lake matches their dream or not, is for them to say. I cannot read their dreams. But there is something magic about West Lake, especially if you know a little of it's history. The article gives a brief glimpse of that.

Here's a bit from the article which really rings true:
I came to know West Lake first through a cheap folding fan one of my elders had brought into the village from a trip to Hangzhou. The fan had a tourist map of the lake on it. The title that ran across the top of the map read, "Paradise Under Heaven." Since country children at that time had little access to pictures, I studied it every day and finally I learned everything on it by heart. Later, when I grew up and visited the lake, I found myself in a place I already knew. Each step I took as if in a trite dreamland.

And another bit:
A Japanese envoy wrote a poem after his visit to the lake during the Ming Dynasty :

I saw the lake in painting years ago
And doubted that such a lake could exist.
Today on the lake itself I have come to know
In an artist's hand its charm is largely missed.


I feel very lucky to live in this place. While it has lived in the mind of many Chinese for years and down through the ages, I, a foreigner, can simply hop on my bike and be there in ten minutes...which I do a couple of times a week, at least.

And although it throbs with tourists on any given day, the beauty of the lake is just that...it is a lake. A placid, solitary lake ringed by small mountains on three sides. Sure the tourists pulse along the walkways strolling the lake. But if you stand at the water's edge, back to the throng, and just look across the water towards the western hills, it is a most peaceful sight.

When this "pearl" fell from the heavens (as Chinese folklore claims) it landed perfectly because, it seems that anytime I am there and from any part of the lake, the sun, literally, sparkles across the waters.

It is all that.

(N.B. If you read the whole article , the word "dike" used in the article is more properly translated as "causeway". The Su Dike and the Bai Dike prominently mentioned in the article are actually wide, verdant causeways lush with flowers, trees, and pavilions, connecting various parts of the lake. Substitute "causeway" for "dike" and you'll get a better idea.