Monday, May 31, 2004

Teaching is Over

I wrote yesterday about how yesterday was my last day of teaching my english class. Since the semester is over, apparently the kids have some kind of performance next week. I'm not sure if the whole thing is in English or what (I hope not, because they can barely spit out a sentence of english), but I was ordered to make them all memorize the following speech:

"Take the chance, open your mind, surprise us!
Thank you teachers,
Thank you my classmates,
I like Babel,
I like happy English,
See you next term."

Notice the bad english? Notice how the first sentence really makes no sense? It is obvious this little ditty was not born of my lyrical mind, but that of one of my chinese colleagues who are supposed to be teaching these kids english. I spent about 5 minutes of each class trying to teach it to them, and they learned the "Take the chance" part, before I gave up and only kept teaching it to them when other teachers came in to make sure the kids were behaving. BTW, Babel is the name of the company I work for, not the name of the school these kids go about propaganda. "tack the chen, ope you men, surse us!" is about how the first sentence sounded when one kid finally got it. Sometimes that job was a lot of fun.

Also, this is coolest flash animation i've seen. And this is pretty funny.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

The Haircut

The site is in the process of being redesigned because I got bored with the old design's white blandness. The dots on the background don't work on my connection (but hopefully they work on yours) because the site with the dots image in blocked by china. The whole idea of blocking sites online is just annoying, and it's probably the only major government related-thing that affects my daily life here. Almost every day I come across sites I am trying to get to that are blocked, usually news sites (all of BBC's website is blocked because they are considered "anti-china").

I had been putting off getting a haircut for awhile, because getting one here is always an ordeal...I can barely explain in english what I want done, let alone chinese. The last two times, I went to the place across the street from my dorm, that place only costs 7 kuai, or about $.85, but I've been told it's worth the experience to go to a more expensive place, and it definitely is. Went to this one place on the way home from teaching the english class that for some reason has a huge american flag image wrapped around its spinning barber poles (all the haircut places here actually have those spinning barber poles). The place looked i went in. I have talked before about the barber gangs that are present in these barber shops...all the barbers have long dyed hair and just sit around chilling with each other all day until a customer comes in. This place actually had a barber with a blond mullet...I was amazed...the guy looked like he was straight out of southeast West Virginia...barely even looked Chinese with that haircut. I would have laughed out loud if I didn't first think about the fact he walks around every day like that...I wonder if he gets a lot of chinese chicks like that. At least he's keeping the mullet pride in the far east. Anyway, so of course I aroused a lot of curiosity walking in there being foreign and all, but everyone handled it in stride, just the usual amount of staring, nothing more.

But to the experience, the first step in the process is the shampoo. This is done in the chair, not over the sink. She just pours the shampoo on and some water, lathering it around, and just goes to work. She massaged and shampooed my head for about 10 minutes, then she took most of the soap off, and added more and went to work again. It was great, but she did it for so long my scalp started to get sore (if this is possible). Then we go rinse it all off, which she does expertly...As she is rinsing me I hear her talking to the other lady in Chinese if she's ever seen a foreigner in here before, she said no and a lot of other stuff i didn't understand...but basically they were talking about me right in front of my face thinking i didn't understand. After the rinse, she asked if I want a massage, so of course I accept. But first, she takes out some Q-tips and gives my ears a more than thorough cleaning...then gets to work on the massage. Overall, it wasn't the best massage, focused a lot on the arms and scalp, not enough on the back, but well appreciated.

Finally, i go over to the chair where I will actually get my haircut, and the dude has really long hair (of course), and has to pin it all back before he starts. I don't know what I want aside from telling him i don't part my hair, I just let him do whatever he wants. The end result was pretty good and the total cost was 30kuai or about $3.75. Anyway, the moral of the story is, the chinese really know how to make getting your hair cut a very enjoyable experience.

In other news, today was my last day of teaching english. All I did with them today was play games like Simon Says and Hangman. At the end of the second class, one of the kids gave me a message that said "Josh is a handsome guy" in Chinese. That was kind of cool, but also extremely weird.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Spam sucks, rednecks make cool swimming pools

So this e-mail thing is really getting out of control...I'm sick of deleting several hundred spam e-mails a day, and I know for a fact I've accidentally deleted several real e-mails in the process. Therefore, I'm shutting down my e-mail account, and switch over to google mail. Any e-mail sent to any address @ will just bounce back, and tell you to check this website for my latest address. It's really annoying i have to do this, but there is no way to stop the spam, and right now my e-mail is pretty much unusable anyway.

As a side note, google mail is prett sweet, been using it for a couple weeks now. By far the best part about it is that I was able to make $90 from it...see they gave me two invites to invite anyone to join gmail, and since it is not open to the public yet, I sold an invite to someone on ebay for $93...i think that amt of money is pretty insane, but hey, if it's worth to them, then I'm happy to take their money. It was basically like finding $90 in my pocket...pretty cool. anyway, my new e-mail will be cohenj @ [removethis]

Things here in china are hot...damn hot...and humid...bloody fucking humid. It's that weather where you walk outside and immediately start sweating. Another problem is the mosquitoes, somehow they have infested my room, and even though i've been keeping the windows closed the last week or so, they still manage to get in and bite me all night...I think I have about 20 bites right now and probably working on my first case of malaria or dengue fever.

I really need one of these...

I finally heard back from the people i'll be working for over the summer, and I'm going to go to Shanghai this week, meet with them, and get the job all sorted out.

That's about it for now...sorry this post was so lame....I promise more 40s, blunts, and bitches in the future.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Pizza The Hut

I think the last several posts have all started with me giving some excuse why these posts have been so infrequent...this one will be no exception. I've had time to update this, but really there isn't much new or interesting to write about, but as i just wrote that, I thought of something new/interesting to write about that I have neglected to share for awhile. However, the problem with writing stuff on a website is that you never know who will end up reading it, and I already know that at least one chinese person I know has read this site (I told them about it), so I can't write about this (in my mind) quite interesting story because it relates to people in china. So I guess I'll have to save that one for when I'm back in the US where there aren't any repercussions...or maybe when I'm drunk and happen to be on a computer.

Life here has been pretty much business as usual. The program ends in about 2 weeks now, and I'm pretty happy for that. This is the last week of classes, then next week we have a reading period all week, which was desperately needed (we had to petition for it). Lately I've also been breaking down and eating a lot of western food. I've found myself at McDonalds maybe 3 times in the last three weeks, at pizza hut once (and another pizza place once), and this American style restaurant twice. It seems like pretty much everyone on the program has been eating western food all the time now...either we're all just homesick or we're all just tired of chinese all the time...either way it's not such a bad thing. Two months ago I was pretty against eating western food here, but now i've been going a lot more often.

O, and Pizza Hut is like a 4-star restaurant here...not sure if I wrote about this before, but Chinese people love Pizza Hut, and since it's American prices still for all the food, it is looked at as a really nice place to eat see lines out the door on friday/saturday nights. Also, the interior design is really upscale and the service is decent too. I've heard in Shanghai there is a Taco Bell with waitresses and it's all nice inside, so i'll have to check that out this summer.

Speaking of this summer...I have this internship set up, but I don't know any information about it...don't even have a date for when i'm supposed to start i've been trying to sort that problem out lately without much success. Not too worried on that front though

Last friday the program had a talent show, and everyone had to be a part of a and a friend performed the Who's On First skit, but we translated it into Chinese...actually went over pretty well, and I was told that this kind of skit is very similar to chinese comedy skits. Some of the other skits were pretty over the top, including a visit to a "massage" parlor, which definitely crossed a few lines, but was pretty funny.

The other day I couldn't sleep and instead of doing something productive like my chinese homework or working on this 15pg research paper due next week, I made all the over 150 quotes on my computer into a web-page. They are also organized in roughly reverse alphabetical order, and I wasted an extra 20 or 30 minutes putting links to each letter even though I know there is no reason for anyone to use that...So if you want to check some of my favorite quotes out, here it is. Over the summer I'll get some more of the several hundred china pics I have organized into a web page, and I also have some funny pics I've collected over the years that I want to organize into a web page.

If you want to see something absolutely hilarious (at least to me) check this out.

And just for good measure, as a treat to all the loyal readers who are figuratively running at my with pitchforks and torches for not updating this site enough, here is my favorite monkey picture ever...

And now to throw gasoline on this already out of control is a sloth

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Spammers Must Die

Actually had intentions of updating this earlier, but lo, my internet account went out and I was left for several days without internet until I biked up to the library in the blistering May heat (twice) to get my account sorted out. But I'm back, and now that I can get online again, life is good. Well it was good, until i looked in my e-mail box to see that I received over 3000 e-mails in the last three days. No, that was not a typo, the actual number is probably closer to 4000 than 3000...fucking spammers. I'm not quite sure what they think they will get from me when they send 15 copies of "LOSE 10 POUNDS IN 10 DAYS" or 50 copies of "real looking fake rolexs available here" or fucking 500 copies from "capital advisor" "capital mentor" "money guide" "treasures guide" and "wealth consultant" with no subject. All I know is that I hope there is a special place in hell for spammers where they are eternally sodomized by porcupines and forced to drink bull semen while bathing in a vat of stomach acid. Yes, I am angry, if i ever meet this guy "wealth consultant" or one of these viagra pushers I will castrate them while shoving a bottle of viagra down their throat.

No crazy adventures to report right now...I think i'm done seething about the spammers. This abroad program is starting to wind to a close, and everyone is incredibly burnt out. There are several people that are so burnt out that they are considering dropping chinese completely. The requirements here really are pretty an abroad program, the contents should be more about us experiencing China and having time to travel, not so much about trying to shove as much chinese down our throats in 4 months so that we are constantly tired and every weekend just want to sit around and relax as opposed to going out and exploring. I haven't had as much of a problem as some people, because I just rejected some of these requirements, but possibly at the sacrifice of a significant drop in GPA...don't have any regrets about that. The people here have been great though, if not for that I wouldn't be able to take it most of the time. Right now, I'm trying to enjoy the last few weeks as much as possible, and am looking forward to the program ending and living in Shanghai this summer.

Can't think about anything else particularly interesting or relevant to write, so I'll just leave it at that for now.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Chinese People Being Weird

ok, so I've been getting some crap from the 4 or 5 people that read this site that I've been a little slack on the updating. While this is true, I haven't updated in awhile, would you rather boring/dull/pathetic/lame entries ever couple days, or an all-star entry like this one once a week? I vote for the second, and since I am the only one who has a vote here, that's how it will be until my life becomes more interesting and there is lots to write about. So after accepting this laziness criticism for the third or fourth time, I decided today to think long and hard and come up with a decent entry to get the ball rolling on here. I spent all of dinner thinking, and then it struck me, well more like flashed in my face.

You see, I was eating dinner at McDonalds. I usually hate McDonalds, but for some reason I found myself craving a Big Mac and fries for dinner. I especially hate eating McDonalds in China because everyone stares as me and is like

"Look, there's an American, and he's actually eating in McDonalds, this is so damn crazy...I can't believe it...I'm in an american owned restaurant and here is a real american eating along with me, I should call all my friends to come out here, because they will never believe what I saw."

So yeah, I get a lot of stares, and the eating experience is a little uncomfortable, but I couldn't withstand my craving, and went anyway. Me and two friends were sitting there, eating our Big Macs and fries, when a mother with her little kid walks by to go to the bathroom. The kid was about three years old, and screamed out "Hello!" to us as he walked by. We didn't think anything of it, this happens a lot. Then about 5 minutes later they come out of the bathroom, and the mother is trying to pull the little runt over to our table, but he wiggles away and keeps walking. 10 minutes after that she comes back again, but this time has a camera, sets the kid up in front of the three of us, and says she is taking a picture. She doesn't ask to take the picture, just whips out the camera, lines it up, and snaps two pics off real fast. As soon as she's done, grabs the kid and runs away. The three of us just start cracking up, not really believing what happened. That is China in a nutshell.

So that was an entry in itself, I hope a pacified my critics, but I have a few other things to say that this event made me think of. These have been brewing for awhile. Just random strange things Chinese people have told me, or that I've seen around china. Many more were probably forgotten, but I think i'm going to make an effort to record them from now on. Maybe to other people these won't seem all that strange or interesting, but i thought they were at the time.

This relates to McDonalds, so I'll put it first. Every McDonalds has a ronald mcdonald statue sitting on a bench in front of the store. It's not uncommon to see people sitting next to him or taking pictures with him. But once I saw a grown man, probably about 35, sitting on his lap talking on his cell phone like it was nothing. Just chilling there, on the big yellow freak's lap like he did it every day. As soon as the cell phone conversation was over, he turned off the phone, got us and walked away. That might have been the moment in my life where i most wished I had a camera with me.

I was talking to a person who works in a BWM dealership. She was asking me whether BMWs were common in america. I said they weren't really uncommon, but they are really expensive, and you don't really see the 7-series too much. so I asked how much they are in China (for the most expensive ones, 7-series), she said $100,000. I said, yeah, that's about what they cost in the US, she said "O, I didn't think that was a lot of money in the US."

Talking to a chinese girl, I asked her what she thought about black people (she had never spoken to one). She said she doesn't like them. I asked why, and she said "Because they are so black." No further explaination given.

Waiting in a train station, talking to some random guy sitting next to me who is obviously pretty poor, but a really nice guy. Asked me if I'm going back to america now, I said no, just back to school and that i'm not going back to america till later in the year. He said, "O, can you take a train from here over to a America?" It was kind of difficult to explain why I couldn't, especially since I didn't know the word for "ocean" in chinese.

While discussing marijuana usage in the US/Europe.
Chinese person: "But, marijuana is addictive."
Me: "No it isn't"
Chinese person: "Yes it is, it's just like Heroine"
Me: "No way, do you even know what Marijuana looks like?"
Chinese person: "It looks like tobacco right?"

And here is a picture of a muddy cow from Spring Break: