Steve's China Blog

Friday, September 30, 2005

First week of vacation

A nice and relaxing week! Almost everything I have done has revolved around food and relaxing. American food, Mexican food, Indian food, Italian food,... anything and everything that I have trouble finding back in Dalian. I have not had any Chinese food yet, but am starting to get an urge for it.

Yesterday I went to the dentist for some teeth cleaning. It has been awhile since I have gotten my teeth cleaned so they only did half of them, and I am going to have the other half cleaned next week. Not the funnest way to spend part of my vacation, but the rest of the good times makes up for it!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Vacation in the U.S.

I was worried that either my flight out of Dalian or Beijing would be late, but they were both on time and I didn't have any problems making my connections. My flight from San Francisco to Washington was delayed for two hours, so I didn't get into Washington until about 8:30 last night. Still plenty of time to make it to Rio Grande restaurant for fajitas! Yum! After 25 hours of being on various aircraft it was wonderful!

Today I am just hanging out and recovering from all of the flight time yesterday. The Washington Redskins are not playing this weekend, so I don't even have any TV that I need to watch. A very nice lazy Sunday. I do plan on fixing dinner for my parents tonight. I have not done in cooking while I was in Dalian, so that will be nice! I think I'll practice my Chinese a little and then take a little nap. :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

My feet hurt...

...but it was worth it.

Saturday night I attended a party at the SwissHotel that was put together by Dalian Software Park for the new Foreign Employees Club that they had just formed. I found out right before I went that I would be the only person from IBM attending and they would expect me to give a little speech congratulating Dalian Software Park for forming the club, etc... They were expecting about 120 people at the party, but only about 80 made it. I was the only one from the U.S., and there were 3 people from South Korea, 3 from Australia, and the rest were from Japan.

The party was held as a buffet in an open courtyard and I ended up sitting with the two organizers of the party and a gentleman from Japan. After the initial introductions people from various companies started to give speeches (there were translators), and before I had to give my speech I mentioned to one of the organizers that the chilly weather might be bothering people and that they would feel warmer after they started eating, so he asked everyone to start having dinner, and I didn't have to give a speech. They also had some entertainment; such as musicians, singers, martial artists etc... I didn't have to give my speech, had some very good food and entertainment, and I got to meet some very nice people (including some very nice Japanese ladies), so I had a good time there.



On Sunday evening I attended another party at the Shangri-La Hotel that was thrown for the single employees at IBM (above). We had a really good DJ and a band that played for awhile too. I think I was there maybe ten minutes before some ladies dragged me out onto the dance floor, and I rarely got a chance to take a break before another lady would have me back there. I made the mistake of wearing my boots, which are heavier than my dress shoes, so my feet and ankles were feeling funny the next day due to all of the dancing that I did. I don't think I have danced that much since... well, never. It was a great chance to socialize with my co-workers away from the office, and I had a great time!

Friday, September 16, 2005

TGIF!

Ganxie Shangdi jintian shi Xingqiwu! (TGIF!)

I think the world knows when you are getting close to having a holiday and/or vacation, and it piles up more work for you to do. A lot to do, but this weekend is going to fun. Dalian Software Park has setup a Foreign Employee Club for foreign workers here, and to kick things off they are having a party on Saturday night. I am not sure yet of the nationalities that will be there, but it should be interesting.

Sunday night I am also going to a party for single IBM employees who are not going out of town to visit family during the Mid-Autumn Festival. I've been told there will be a band with lots of singing and dancing. Since so many of the ladies here have asked me if I am going I think my feet will be sore on Monday.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Blogs to read

Just a quick update on happenings around the Blogsphere...

Michael Yon is reporting that LTC Erik Kurrilla (who was shot three times while battling terrorists in Mosul and refused to leave until the battle was over) is doing well and will return to command the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment when they return from Iraq later this month. Good job Deuce Four!

Arthur Chrenkoff, the blogger from Australia who has been compiling some great reports of good news from Afghanistan and Iraq, has taken a new job and will no longer being updating his blog. The folks over at windsofchange.net have taken over the good news reporting and it can now be found at Good News Central. This is definitely worth the time to read.

Sweetness & Light has been doing a great job uncovering a hurricane relief scam that is being run by a bunch of so-called anti-war activists (IPods for hurricane victims? Who are they trying to kid?). Hopefully someone is investigating these numb-nuts, and they'll be going to jail soon.

Michelle Malkin has been covering political fallout from the hurricane as well as keeping everyone informed about the scandal going on over at Air America that the press won't tell you about.

Cassandra over at Villainous Company has been keeping good track of hurricane relief efforts, as well as the nutty political fallout.

Little Miss Attila has taken time away from trying to draft Dr. Condoleezza Rice for President in 2008 to report about hurricane relief efforts too.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Signs and stuff



This is a little notice that is above the doors on the trams that run here in Dalian. Translating word-for-word from Chinese to English leads to some interesting reading. I always thought I could make a lot of money creating a company here that does nothing but write correct English on signs for companies here... especially with the Olympics coming to Beijing soon.

Nothing really major is going on outside of work the last few days. We're trying to get a lot done before the Mid-Autumn Festival, and before my vacation trip back to the U.S. The only two big events are the opening of the Popeyes near where I live and a change to my work schedule. The Popeyes opened this weekend and is pretty good. I have not been to Popeyes in the U.S. for awhile, so I am not sure what on the menu is different. There are a few little things they need to fix, but it is a nice alternative to McDonalds and KFC when I am in the mood for some western fast-food.

My work schedule changed from 6:30pm until 3:00am to 4:00pm until midnight this week. This new schedule should help in being able to wake up before noon, but by the time I get use to the new sleep schedule I'll be heading back to the U.S., and my sleep schedule will definitely be messed up then.

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Remembering...

Here's a good article for today.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Don't worry....

I found out this week that we are having a long weekend next weekend since they are giving us off the 19th which is the Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival. The Moon Festival is sort of like Thanksgiving in that people get together with family and have a big meal and party. Just about every holiday here has some food associated with it and for the Moon Festival it is moon cake. This time of year you can find moon cake just about everywhere, and it's really good. It is not as sweet as cake in the U.S., which seems to be 99% sugar to me most of the time.

Since we have a lot of people here at work who are away from their families we are putting together two parties for the Moon Festival. One is for the people here who are married, but their spouses and family do not live here in Dalian, and the other party is for us single folks who are away from their families. It should be a lot of fun, but I wish they had told us sooner. I could have arranged a quick trip to Japan, or something. Oh well, it will be nice to have a long weekend. Everyone here needs one too since everyone has been working hard.

The other day I was visiting a music store and found a Best of Bob Marley CD. This is the only raggea music that I have seen here. If there was ever a place that needed raggea it's China. A lot of the people I work with are just out of college, or only have work experience in Chinese companies. Working for a large international corporation is usually a lot more work and pressure than they expected. I have sent this link to quite a few co-workers and friends here when they are feeling down, and since they've never heard reggea before they really like it. Hopefully they won't start growing dreadlocks anytime soon... a Chinese Rastafarian would be just too difficult to imagine.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Language training

We started up our Chinese language lessons again after our teacher's vacation. I am still having trouble remembering words and phrases that I've learned. I was thinking that it is because they are words and phrases that I do not use much, but I remember words in English that I never use (such as rhubarb or purfle). I've started trying to aquire a taste for coffee. I gave up drinking coffee when I left the Army a long time ago since I never liked the taste, but I read somewhere that it might help improve your memory... I forget where I read that. That sounds kind of funny now that I've written that - sort of like getting a book about how to stop procrastination, but never finishing it.

We have not officially started our new program at work to improve people's English speaking skills yet, but a lot more people are seeking my time to practice spoken English. They are also helping me with my Chinese speaking skills a little too. The discussions have been kind of interesting. There are a lot of questions that people ask here that people would not normally ask in the west, such as "How much money do you make?", "How old are you?", etc... It's not considered impolite to ask very intimate questions here, and sometimes I am a little surprised at the questions I get. One question I get asked a lot here is why I have never been married (I think my Mom put the whole country of China up to this one), and no matter what my answer is I am told that Chinese women make excellent wives and that age difference, political difference, religious difference, etc.. are not a concern to Chinese women. It makes me wonder what is a concern for them. I'll have to ask sometime.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Blame Game

In Paul Sheehan's article in the Sydney Morning Herald he says that, "people step over carcasses in their haste to score political points" when talking about events such as Hurricane Katrina. From what I have seen it looks like they are stepping over, skipping over, and dancing over the carcasses in their haste to score political points.

Unfortunately, I'm not surprised. The left will use any excuse (no matter how tragic) to demonstrate their hatred for the Bush administration, and their lackeys in the mainstream media (who have given up all pretense at being objective or reporting the truth) seem more than happy to disseminate any lies or distortions to help them do so. It seems absurd that someone has to explain some basic truths about things that would seem to be common sense, but Ben Stein does a great job explaining it in his article here.

I've also heard that the Feds didn't move fast enough for a whole range of reasons from the President was on vacation, the war in Iraq, it was racism, etc... Am I the only one who paid attention in social studies class decades ago in junior high school? The federal government can not just send troops and aid to states unless the states ask for it. Is the press reporting this little bit of knowledge? I kind of doubt it. It took the same amount of time for the federal government to act when Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992, but we didn't hear complaints then.

I've also heard that only a handful of other countries are offering help because everyone hates the US. Ooops... wrong again. The "we hate America" bunch on the left would like everyone to think that, but most people in the world like the US. They might not agree with US foreign policy, but they like the US. I guess that's why the US government has received offers of support from dozens of nations across the globe... Australia, Austria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Belgium, Canada, China, Columbia, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Greece, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, South Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. International organizations have also offered help ranging from medical teams to tents to cash donations. They include NATO, the Organization of American States, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and the World Health Organization. And no, the US hasn't turned them all down. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the State Department was "working very closely with the Department of Homeland Security to match up what is available with what is needed".

Luckily, most people are not believing the left when they play the juvenile blame game. If you think blaming President Bush is a good idea, you can visit here to see how silly you look. As Steve Chapman says in his article here, "...we can learn a great deal about how to avoid and mitigate future catastrophes -- but only if we put off affixing blame until all the facts are in". Next thing you know they'll blame President Bush for high gas prices... oh wait, they have already started that!

Update... a must read: Hurricane of lies by Andrew Bolt

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Redskins & Vacation

I discovered a way to listen to the Redskins games over the internet. There are a few sports channels on the TV here, but everyone here watches soccer, so they rarely play any American football. The NFL has a site setup where you can buy a season pass or pay by the month, and then listen to the games online via RealPlayer. The real nice thing about it is they have it setup so that you can listen to the game over your team's local radio station. Another nice thing is that you can listen to the games live, but you can also listen to them later which is nice because of the time difference here. The only bad part is that it's all audio and no video.

I got my plane tickets back to the US for vacation. I'll be flying back to Maryland on the 24th, and will be spending a week and half there visiting family and friends, and then I am hoping to go down to Raleigh to visit my brother and his family for a few days. After that I'm going down to Tampa for a week and a half of training at the IBM office down there. Of course, I have to go to the Maryland Renaissance Festival while I am in Maryland, so I should be there on October 1st! Now all I have to do is arrange my hotel and car rental for Tampa.