Saturday, October 24, 2009


In the News!

In The News:
Yesterday the municipal government began an ambitious new campaign to remove the ubiquitous gobs of spit that cover the city.

Rather than introducing fines like Hong Kong or pushing public campaigns against spitting as has been done in Shanghai, the clumsily named ***** Municipal National Hygiene City Establishment Task Force (昆明市创建国家卫生城市指挥部) has chosen to distribute millions of small green bags that would-be street hockers can fill with their phlegm.

Each day, the municipal government will distribute 116,000 of the free antibacterial bags, which it refers to as "environmentally friendly phlegm bags" (环保口痰袋) as well as "dragon saliva bags" (龙涎袋).

At yesterday's press conference announcing the beginning of the new anti-loogie drive, Olympic torchbearer Yang Guixi (杨贵喜) read aloud the philosophy behind the campaign:
Getting rid of the bad habit of public spitting is actually not difficult: a tiny piece of tissue, an environmentally friendly phlegm bag, this can make us have a healthy way of behaving and an atmosphere of civilized living. Actually, the bitter lesson of SARS has already told us, each and every one of us can become the bodyguard of the dignity of human lives, all that is needed is for us to spread the word and come together and we will definitely be able to eliminate bad habits!

In a city where spitting wherever one wants is a deeply ingrained habit for a substantial portion of residents, getting people to stop spitting in public is a rather lofty goal, reminiscent of the city's failed attempt to ban car horns at the beginning of 2008.
Starting today, ***** district will begin a new campaign in which district hygiene department employees will patrol the streets looking for spitters, litterers and others who infringe upon general cleanliness.
People caught in the act of spitting, littering, dumping dirty water, painting graffiti, posting ads without authorization, walking on grass will be subject to fines ranging from 100 to 500 yuan.
The municipal government has announced a plan to provide bicycles for free use by the public, according to a report. The report said the plan has been received by the public with approval, tempered with a skepticism that the bikes will all be stolen.
These are some of the important issues facing many Chinese cities trying improve their international image. I thought you might find them quite interesting. I find them useful on days when I really need a laugh.


A Funny Thing Happened!!!!!

A girl I work with shared this story with me. She, her husband and his brother, about 26 yrs. old, came home late from a concert and stepped into the elevator. The brother, who is just visiting, is one of those guys who fiddles with stuff. Just for fun, he stuck his fingers in the gap of the elevator doors (ok, its a Chinese elevator, there are gaps). Just as his brother yelled, “NO!”, the elevator came to a screeching halt! For the next 40 minutes they would sit on the dirty elevator floor with the culprit rocking back and forth in laughter. “They are going to charge you 5,000RMB for this you know”. “I don’t care, it is so worth it”, he said. He was taking pictures and having a grand time. What in a four foot empty space do you photograph more than once? Finally, the guards started knocking on the doors. The conversation went something like this:
(bang,bang) Can you hear us?
Yes, we can hear you!
(bang,bang) Can you hear us?
YES, we can hear you!
(Bang,bang)Wait a little while, ok?
Um, we know. (It’s been 40 minutes already)
(bang,bang) Wait a bit!
After repeating this conversation a few times, the guards finally they pried the doors open and helped them out. They didn’t get fined and he has a funny story to take back home with him. I just won’t be getting in any elevators with him!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

China Update

Let me begin by saying how nice it is to be back. Something has been missing this past month or so. I have not been taking many pictures because, who would I share them with? I have not been writing because, who would read it? My sister Jennifer has lovingly volunteered to be my blogger liason. I write and send her pictures, she will load them on the site. Thank you so much sis. I don’t know if Blogger will ever rise again and I was unable to find another site to post to that didn’t have content I didn’t want other people stumbling upon. If anyone has other ideas such as blogging sites that I could start a new one on that isn’t blocked here, please send all your suggestions thru the message board on blogger. Ok, here is part of what you have missed, I will try to sum up: We started school and are now up four lessons, we both got work and have both lost work. We teach at a University 3 hrs a week and I have two weekend jobs, for a grand total of 7 hours a week for me. We are still looking for more hours so we can sustain ourselves here. Our house has not sold yet, the tenants are supposed to be evicted soon. We are waiting patiently and hopefully for things to work out. That part is quite stressful but then we are not the only ones with difficulties, right? No one said things would be easy. Anyway, We have moved, that was a feat in itself. Our lease was up October 15th. We had to start looking at new places as soon as we got back amidst starting school and looking for work. We had just as much trouble this time as the last plus, rent has gone up all over the city. Our place went up too, even the maintenance fee. There is no maintenance. The elevator worked sometimes and we had to pay extra to store our bikes. Construction and traffic noise kept us up at night and the dust from both made it impossible to keep the place clean. We finally found one apartment in our range after 2 weeks of searching. It was big enough in a nice complex. There was water damage on the floor in several places and the kitchen sink and cabinet had completely collapsed. The windows overlooked the local tobacco factory. We were told the landlord would fix the sink but not the floor. Their solution? No worries, put some rugs down. Sure. We waited a few days for the repairs to be made but they never called. Then I started calling every day and after a week, it was still not repaired and we were just about out of time. We went back and demanded our deposit back. They did not want to lose our money so the showed us 4 apartments that day (after having trouble finding even one a day to look at) and the last one was IT. The same complex with gardens, and two balconies that overlook them. Only by looking far to the left can I see the tobacco plant. This place is almost like a house. It has two levels, the living room is two steps down from the rest of the apartment. There are two bathrooms, one asian and one western. Our first western toilet in China!!! And there’s more! We have a tub! It is made for a short person but still, Frank can sit and soak as long as he wants just like at home. My kitchen is open to the dining room and there is even a pantry. I didn’t know those existed here. I have no storage shelves right now but the fridge is in there and the rice cooker and toaster oven sit on the floor. Still, a pantry!! I finally feel at home here. I like coming home, I have slept through the night since we moved. Some nights, there is no sound at all and we wonder what’s wrong. Usually, the only noise is from barking dogs and playing children. You can forget you are in a city and that we are on the 12th floor of an apartment building. I can’t believe we ended up with this place. I am so glad the landlord never fixed that sink! We found some curtain material at a fabric market that was torn down just like the second hand market. Moving was easy too. Some friends came over to take our long couch down the ten flights so we wouldn’t have to pay a fortune for moving. Then when we got it all the new place, I realized I could take the couch completely apart and fit it all into the elevator instead of hauling it up 12 flights. Ooops, guess that would have been helpful a few hours before. The movers were actually disappointed they didn’t get to carry it up for the extra money. I had to insist that they put it in the elevator and show them how to take it apart. Oh! The apartment came with pets! A huge fish tank, about 70 gallons. The landlord said it came with the place and so we have to take care of it. It was black with algae and had 4 goldfish in it. A friend knew what to do and now it is crystal clear with 10 fish in it. Here are some pics:


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One of Those Days

You know those days, where nothing seems to go right no matter what you do. Yeah, it was like that. I had a strange dream that I was running football plays (American football) and woke up at 5 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. No one was on Skype so I wrote a little and tried to lay down. I got back up with Frank but was in a horrible mood and exhausted. Today we had to register with the police, which meant getting pictures taken first, then copies made of our papers and then finding the police station. Frank wanted to get the photos done in the morning before class which was fine, except I didn’t have my bike and he did. We had to leave at separate times which we didn’t and I missed my bus. I grabbed the next one that came by thinking it would pull into the main terminal and I could transfer. Nope, it went left! Time was slipping past as I raced back the way I came and hailed a cab, more expensive, but worth its weight in a little stress relief. I had him drop me off at my bike. As I got out, it started pouring down rain. Guess who forgot their umbrella? Yep, one of those days. I found my bike but it was locked to a friend’s with his lock. After sorting that out, I found Frank at the photo shop and ran in to get mine done. “You can’t wear your hat, it’s impossible.” I was told. Guess who didn’t comb their hair, only jammed it in a ponytail and under a hat? Yep, one of Those days. The woman charged us too much, but I didn’t have the fire in me to argue. We made it to school on time where we had the hardest grammar lesson yet, with sentences like: The children who brush their teeth come to my house every week. After class we picked up an air mattress and I carried it on the back of my bike, the junk bike, all the way home and met Frank to look for the police station. That actually went really smoothly. Then we headed for lunch, since we had missed breakfast and would miss dinner as well. We tried a new place and ended up paying more than twice what we normally do, again with no solution, we paid it. When we got home, I discovered that one of our goldfish had died. Ein Eugig, the one eyed goldfish with the fan tail. He was one of the original four who had survived who knows how long in a black, algae infested tank before we got the place. I had assumed he drew the short straw when food ran out, hence the one eye. Guess he couldn’t take the cleanness. Frank hummed Taps and flushed him. We left for a party with some friends and I took a shortcut from Frank’s shortcut. At the end of the road, I came off my bike for the first time. I was stopped, but the wheels went in opposite directions and I hit my sternum on some part of the frame. I fell right beside a policeman, who never budged from his post. The taxi driver on the other side of the street enjoyed the show too. When an old man started speaking to me, I thought he wanted money. It took a minute for me to realize he was actually asking if I was ok. He touched my elbow and asked if I was hurt and told me to be more careful. I was so shocked that I almost forgot to say thank you. No one helps each other here. No one! You might get accused of something, or sued. Unfortunately, my bike was not broken and I had to get back on and make my way. The party was the only thing that went right. I felt much better after being with my friends, listening to them, and laughing with them. I made it home ok too and soaked in the tub. Frank made us popcorn and now I sit telling you everything.

You know those days where the sun shines all day and everything you do turns to gold? You are riding cloud nine and nothing can bring you down? Maybe, tomorrow will be one of THOSE days!

“The sun’ll come out, tomorrow, so you gotta hang in till tomorrow…there’ll be sun.”-Annie


Bought and Paid For

Some friends and I took a Saturday morning to explore a university we had never been to before. It was during the recent Middle Autumn Festival so no one had to work and the streets were comparatively empty. It was quite a ride and all uphill. We asked for directions at a small seamstress shop. The woman was very nice but spoke only the local dialect. The man who was having his shirt fixed was very helpful. We mentioned we would eat lunch before going to the campus and he proceeded to lead us to a little noodle place where he bought our lunch. He is a retired police officer and before that he was a soldier. When I asked if he liked his work, he said no, it was too dangerous and he was glad to be out of it. I think since he paid for our lunch, he thought we were now his property because he would be at our side for the remainder of the day. He showed us around the area and led us to the campus, another long walk. He had a scooter, a cute purple one with a pink helmet. I asked if it was his, thinking he had borrowed it from his daughter. No, it’s his. He smoked heavily and at one point when we were looking at pictures on a billboard, he accidently blew right in my face. It was the first time I have ever smoked. I starting coughing, gagging, dry heaving and my eyes were watering. He was so sorry and stamped it out immediately, but I am pretty sure he reduced my life span that day. It was so nasty! He spotted some girls coming by on the other side of the road and called them over to meet us. They ALL spoke English! We asked for a tour of the campus, and thinking that the guy would leave, told him thank you and goodbye. What were we thinking? We were bought and paid for. So off we all went to the girls dorm. Only then could we leave him, since guys aren’t allowed in. The girls , six of them all sleep in the same room. Three bunks on each side with a table in the middle full of books. The bathroom is down the hall and reeks. The girls were all very sweet and so excited to meet foreigners. They wanted to show us around so off we went with our loyal pink helmeted companion. Obviously he had been asking about me and was determined to get my phone number. My friends told him I was married to a Big Black Man, but that didn’t have the effect we were hoping for. He even followed us out of the campus and most of the way home, making sure to ride right next to me. One of the girls did give him my number and later on he called me. I let Frank answer the second time. He hasn’t called since. Guess he didn’t believe I was really married. He’s been married four times. It was an interesting day.



Great Wall