Steve's China Blog

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

New phone

It's been a busy week at work here. The people on our team in the US have the coming Monday off for the 4th of July, so we are all trying to get as much done before then as we can. I have to work on the 4th, but I was thinking of doing something... not sure what yet. A few weeks ago I found a Dairy Queen here that has chili dogs, so maybe I'll get some of them for the team here in China. Banana Splits might be better.

I finally got around to getting a cell phone. I picked one that also had a camera and an MP3 player, so now I won't have to buy seperate ones of those. It also has a FM radio, but I haven't discovered any good stations yet. I'm still trying to figure out how all of the features work, but it's a pretty cool toy! I can transfer files back and forth from my phone to my laptop via an infrared port, but I will need to find a data cable to pass files back and forth with my desktop computer. The place that sold the phone didn't sell accessories for it, so I had to go searching for those. The picture here is of a market district called Hei Shi Jiao (or Black Rock Beach) near where I live, where I finally found a nice little carrying case for it. I still need practice taking clearer pictures.

Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 23, 2005

IT in Dalian

We had the PRC Minister of Commerce come to our offices yesterday. The people who work for the office building (cleaning staff, security, etc...) were very busy all day making sure everything looked nice and clean for the minister's visit. He showed up around mid-afternoon and walked through our offices with a entourage that was larger than I would have expected for some bureaucrat. Then the press came next to record the momentous occasion (momentous for the press anyways). Luckily I didn't have to meet the guy, and I hope I wasn't photographed as he went by... I am sure I looked as tired as I felt. I don't usually come into work until around 6:00pm, but we all had be in the office yesterday to impress the minister so I had to get up earlier than usual. Dalian is getting into information technology much more than any other city in China. Here's some info here.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Phone and cable

I decided I need a cell phone and have been looking around for a good price on the model I've selected. On Saturday I went to a place here in town called Victory Square. I'm not sure what the victory is about, and no one else here seems to know either. Anyways, Victory Square is a huge shopping area most of which is underground. It would probably take days to visit every shop there... It's that big. I didn't have much luck finding my phone, but found some new DVDs, CDs, and shirts. My search for a good price on my phone will continue later, I guess.

My landlord installed new cable boxes for our TVs, so now I get 56 channels instead of 24. One of them is in english, and the rest are in chinese. Of course, the one in english is the most boring channel... It's mostly business news. The big problem now is trying to figure out how to route my DVD player through the cable box (or the other way around). All of the plug markings on both the cable box and DVD are in chinese, and none of the user manuals show to hook them both up. I'm not even sure how to switch between the cable and the DVD even if I do get the cables hooked up right, since all of the labels for the buttons on the remotes are in chinese. It is going to be an interesting puzzle to waste my off time on.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Understanding censorship

Every once in awhile something happens to my internet connection at home... Either it loses connection completely or I end up only able to access communist chinese websites. The latter happened yesterday, and at first I thought I was only able to access websites within China, but I discovered I could access the PRC's embassy website in the US also. I find the whole idea of goverment censorship replusive, and in the case of the censorship here it shows the communist goverment's weakness. Here's a great article about this here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

An interesting article

Here's an interesting article about China by Henry Kissinger. Surprisingly it is in an Australian news page and not in the US.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Enjoy Party

Friday night I went to a bar here called JD's after work. It had a good mix of Chinese, Americans, Russians, Canadians, Germans, Swiss, etc..., and even some Pakistani's. The crowd was loud, rowdy, and young and we all had a good time. The next day we went to this place here called Enjoy Party. It's a kareoke place. It looks sort of like a hotel. You go to the lobby and get a room, then go get snacks and drinks, and then you're taken to your room which is like a small room with a kareoke machine and some microphones. Everyone then sits around and sings songs. I didn't sing any, and since I didn't know any of the lyrics to the songs I couldn't tell if the singing was good or bad. On the cans of Coca Cola we bought there was a thing about a contest they were having where you could win a trip to Hong Kong for the opening of the new Disneyland there in September, and one of the ladies with us won! Figuring the odds, we guessed that only one or two people in Dalian will win one of these trips, so she was very lucky.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Watch the dirt

I want to go see how much it would cost to get a camcorder here. I would love to just walk down the street recording what it's like here. One of the things I like about the place is that almost everyone is pretty casual in how they dress. Now that the weather is getting warmer I sometimes see people in the evening walking down the sidewalk wearing their pajamas... now that's casual.

The one thing I don't like about here is the pollution. Dalian is touted as the cleanest city in China, but it still seems dirtier than the dirtiest city in the US. There are a couple of reasons for this... first is all of is the construction. China is probably the fastest developing country when it comes to construction of new buildings, and all of that dirt, dust, cement, smoke, and other materials get everywhere. Ever see in the movies how people remove their shoes when the enter a house in Asia and think it's a quaint custom? Actually, it's to keep people from tracking all of the dirt into the house. I've been told I shouldn't go barefoot, even in my apartment, since I might get sick from the dirty floors so I wear slippers indoors.

Another pollution problem is the rapid rise of automobile use without any emission standards (none that I've seen anyways). Some days it gets quite smoggy here with all of that, plus what comes out of the factories. There is also a problem with water pollution. The water that comes out of the tap is not drinkable, and I have to do things like use bottled water when I brush my teeth and avoid ice cubes in drinks just to be safe. It's a pain in the ass sometimes, but you get use to it.

The major thing that I noticed when I first got here though is all the litter. For a lot of jobs, like picking up trash, China depends on a huge workforce of manual laborers. But as the economy improves more and more people are moving out of manual occupations, so there are less and less people to go around picking up the trash. I think it is going to take awhile before people here can change their habits and start throwing their litter in a nearby trash can instead of just dropping it on the street.

Next time you hear one of those environmentalist wackos in the west say how dirty the air or water is over there, tell them to come over here. Since I think most of them are just fruit-cakes who love to complain and don't really care about the environment, I doubt I'll see any of them here anytime soon.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Strawberries and salad

On Saturday I went to a strawberry farm outside of town. When we first got there we had lunch and then played some games, such as tug of war, and hit some golf balls at a small driving range there. After that we went and picked (and ate) a lot of strawberries. Even though I told Maggie I loved strawberries, she was surprised how many I could eat. After getting our fill of strawberries we did a bit of off-roading with some of the guys who had 4x4s there. It was a lot of fun! A lot of the people there had never done anything like that before and found it both exciting and frightening. Everyone had a great time.

On Sunday I found another place here that serves steak. It's a western resturant and I forgot it's name... some french name. Luckily I remember where it is. The place is a lot nicer than the other place that I had steak before, and is a lot more expensive too. I had a ribeye steak, a casear salad, and a glass of red wine. I wanted the salad more than the steak... I haven't had a western style salad since I've been here and had really been craving one. You never really think about something simple like a salad until you haven't had one in awhile. This resturant also has a western style buffet too, and I'm looking forward to going back for that some time!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Need a weekend

I'm still trying to get use to this new schedule. Today I woke up too early and couldn't get back to sleep so I'm feeling very tired. I hope I can get use to it quickly. I actually like the late-late schedule as opposed to the late schedule, since I have more time during the day to run around and do errands and such. If I can get use to this then maybe I can do it all of the time instead of switching off and on every other week. The only thing I don't like about the late-late shift is that they turn off the A/C at night in the office to save electricity. Then other people open the windows and all the dirty air and bugs come in.

Yesterday I went to lunch and then walked around an area called Heishijiao where there are a lot of street vendors selling all kinds of things. I stopped into one place that sells CDs and DVDs. Most of it's pirated, and they have a lot of movies that are still in theatres back in the US out on DVD here. One of the funny things is that they just grab pretty much any description of the movies off of the internet for the packaging, and since the pirates can't read english you get some funny descriptions. I saw one that had as a description a bad review of the movie taken off of some message board, such as: "The plot is very stupid and unreal...".

Our monthly billing programs that we support are almost finished running, and the weekend is almost here. I need a weekend. I want some time to get away from work and study my chinese, and hopefully I'll get a chance to get out of the city for some fresh air and some quiet too.