amberite_archive: (cosmonaut milk)
From a Chinese blogger, Jenny Zhu, on Google's response to China - and China's response to Google. I'm quoting about half the post here, because it sent shivers down my spine:

"In my humble observation, this might pan out to be an crucial event that could shape China’s history by awakening its young, fledgling civil society.

(...) We want to believe that our government would one day realize its strategies have to change in the 21st century even when it has repeatedly made authoritarian and outdated decisions with regards to the web and many other issues. We might even have fervently defended our government when it is criticized or ‘attacked’.

(...) Many of us are ambivalent at best about issues like free/speech, human/rights and censorship, because we don’t know going against the establishment would be the best way to bring about change in China. And frankly, many of us are disengaged from politics because we don’t have the courage to pay the price.

But today, a company who has brought us a fresh way of thinking and outstanding services is forced to pull out from China. Unlike, to be honest, the detachment and ‘how we go again’ sentiment we feel when people are shouting ‘free XXX’, we actually feel a personal stake in it... Google is on the right side of history. I am bringing flowers to them."



This. This is a voice like the real voices I have heard. Hot damn.
amberite_archive: (Default)
Our economy is now pwnz0red by China. (And Japan, the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg and Belgium. But mostly China.)

If I haven't got my bucks and kuai twisted up, this has to do with several things. China has been investing heavily in US currency bonds in order to keep the RMB from rising too quickly against the dollar, among other things. This has the interesting side effect of China owning a lot of bonds --> China being the top holder in Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac --> China (and other countries) holding a lot of US debt and thus getting to influence economic policy, very heavily, the way your car dealership could influence your economic policy if you defaulted on the payments...

I think it's really sort of stupid funny that American jingoism and the waste it caused has resulted in, essentially, foreign ownership of our financial system.

*facepalm*

As long as they don't repo our air quality, I'm not panicking.

Home again!

Jun. 5th, 2008 05:46 am
amberite_archive: (lovelovelove)
And I can load Livejournal fast, and I have a cat in my lap, and my people are sleeping but I failed at the sleeping, and.

Portland. Infinite possibilities at my fingertips. I like this feeling. This place is good.
amberite_archive: (Default)
I am wearing a sleeveless shirt from a supermarket in Beijing, which says:

"I am a color maniac
Rippling into the memory
I arrive at the palace of the god, the ultimate controller
Passing time, light, and dreamland
Bestowment, links with nobility
History is made while past is always forgotten
I make a wish, for gorgeous colors"

First of all, it's one of the most coherent pieces of utter nonsense I've ever seen.
Second of all, it sounds like something that would happen in a Lovecraft story. Or a modern meta-pastiche. Tyra Banks Goes to Unknown Kadath?

Third, the shirt is beige.

--


Back no longer feels like a train ran over it, maybe just a tuk-tuk. Progress!
amberite_archive: (Default)
I'm going out of range tomorrow in that my computer will become the property of a student and thus I won't be able to log in, see locked entries or answer comments on same, until I get home. NEXT WEEK! Under eight days.

Also still trying to get my wrists to stop popping like a bowl of Rice Krispies, so. (Don't worry, they are getting better. I just came back to internetivity too soon.)

I'll be reachable by email. I'll be spending the next few days in Yangzhou, then heading to Shanghai and Suzhou for a few days out on the town before I blow this humongous, wacky, 1.3-billion-person popsicle stand.
amberite_archive: (Default)
It's been a wonderful weekend, full of portents of the past and present and future. I just said goodbye to my friend Raquel, possibly for the last time in a long time, not for the last time ever: I promised to see her again, no matter where I have to go to do so. Maybe China again, on a short visit; maybe some other country, as she's hoping to travel the world herself. Maybe I'll have the pleasure of hosting her in Portland someday. I hope so.

I met Raquel during my brief stay in Shenzhen; we were staying in a hostel together; we stayed up all night talking, woke up after scant sleep and talked some more. She's a student in Beijing, studying Spanish, and having a better grasp on English than any other Chinese person I've met here -- the subtleties, the nuances, the slang -- and a connection to subculture that's rare here, but somewhere in there I'm also at least half in love, in such a way that I don't know whether I'd be more so or less so if there were a possibility of seeing her in the long term. Probably it would settle out to the kind of romantic friendship [livejournal.com profile] heron61 talks much about. That's not in the cards, though. It's enough to just connect and go our separate ways with the promise of a future meeting.

There are so many people like that in my life -- people I love deeply but don't live near -- and when I think of them I think again of the idea I had several years ago, of asking these people to select small images to tattoo in a row on my skin. Maybe someday I'll know where it goes.

--

While I was walking with her and another American today, a reporter (for apparently a large newspaper!) stopped us to ask what we thought about the earthquake. I said that I thought it was a terrible tragedy, that I was glad the pandas are safe, and that my hope for the future is that China will learn to build buildings the way they do in California. Which about sums up my thoughts.

Saying that, I realized that I'm still the person who looks at a tragedy and says, what good can come of this? Seven years haven't changed it. I often fear it makes me come off as callous, but Raquel pointed out that right now, people are becoming intensely superstitious about all the frightening events in China this year and what they mean about the Olympics, and optimism can only do good.

I learned also that the tension has led to some gay bars being shut down and others going quiet, which is why I did not have the opportunity to do a drag show this weekend. I am angry about this, and also frightened: it means that they're not acting based on what the powerful countries will realistically perceive of China, since of the first-world nations, the US is pretty much bringing up the rear on acceptance of queer people, and the US isn't shutting down gay bars. They're acting based on some twisted mirror image that doesn't exist in the world outside.

More diplomatically, I said to the reporter when she asked me, People are too nervous about the Olympics and they need to relax. Everything will go better if they relax.

I hope that gets out there if anything does.

--

I'm going to see the Great Wall tomorrow, and going to get up stupidly early to do it. I'll be quite exhausted by the time I go back to Yangzhou and sleeping on the train probably won't help. But now I'm in the process of saying my goodbyes to China, and feel the urgency of transience in a way I haven't before.

Yesterday I visited the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. I have not so much to say about the latter except that the feel of the place reminded me of the feel of the Washington Monument, which, when you think about it: oh, just think about it. Ugh. Moving on.

The Forbidden City -- the ancient palace complex -- was fascinating. I saw relatively little of it; it would take multiple visits to really complete the exploration; but I walked among as much of it as I could. The grounds themselves interested me more than the museum, especially from the point at which I began to experience fragments of story.

This was in one tier of... a walled stone area that must have been a garden, once, by the look of it. In my mind there was the story of a child, a small girl playing in the garden, with the sort of extremely internalized thoughts children have. And then I thought: Is that my own mind generating story, as I've always assumed, or am I experiencing a ghost?

When I visit certain kinds of places I get fragments of stories around them; it's a writer thing. It's always happened and I've never really questioned it.

I opened up my mind a little more and tried to experience the drifts of whatever else might be caught on the stones, and I got a few more distinct moments like that, including one which was more or less backed up by the information on a sign which I saw a minute later.

Yesterday I theorized that I might be engaging a kind of mental time travel -- which is how I think of ghosts, at least of the common "here is a moment repeated" kind: either that moment's thoughts are travelling forward to meet your mind or your mind is travelling backward to meet that one. (Theoretically, you can also run into others who are travelling backward to meet you, but I'm not all that sure what they're going to look like.)

Now, this is the kind of person I am: Is it my mind making story or are these fragments related to people from the past? Or people from story-land who are hanging out around pieces of history? Who knows! Who cares! It is what it is.

I know that I am a story-making thing, and I'm part of a story-making machinery, not all of which exists inside of me.

(In fact, the above could be a statement of the nature of my belief in God.)

But as I contemplated all of this I remembered that belief itself is an act of Will; a choice made from moment to moment.

Who I am is what I make of my reality.

And to some people that might be a cynical thought, but for me it just makes me love the world more.

The bug pills are helping my wrists some but I am still mostly off the internets. Trying to get better all the way. So this may be the last for a while. Take care out there in computerland, kids.
amberite_archive: (Default)
mostly I have to cold turkey the internet because my wrists are killing me.

so I went into a drugstore and pointed at my wrist and said 'tong' until they understood me.

i asked for chinese medicine, because nsaids are mostly useless for this shit below dangerous levels. so they gave me these pills. I'm only online because I had to look them up. hong yao pian. little red pills.

they are insect pills.

they contain insects.

this insect to be specific.

they apparently can cure liver cancer too, according to tcm journals, which is great, just in case I had a case of liver cancer I didn't know about. (rather unlikely but hey.)

i have a strange kind of faith in them, because, hey, those dumb doctors who kept telling me to take ibuprofen never mentioned insects.

wikipedia hasn't even heard of them.

i think i will take them.

the other side of the world is such a strange place.

Today

Apr. 20th, 2008 10:39 pm
amberite_archive: (lovelovelove)
It's hard to place loneliness sometimes. I had a lot of stuff to get done today, but managed only a small part of it, and I should be in bed but I'm not.

Everything is going great except for the part where I'm here, and you're not.

It's this human response like staring over the horizon to see if the bus is coming -- even when you know the exact time it'll arrive, and that it isn't now.

The counter on my homepage says: 44 more days.

Something to look forward to tomorrow, though: I get to print, sign, scan and email off a certain contract.

And then set forward into my life with this in mind.
amberite_archive: (future life)
More than anything, right now, I want to be at home with my essential oils and my beads. Making things. Seven weeks and three days more. I'm going mad / doing well / going mad.

Mostly I feel stuck. I want to be making things, with supplies I have at home and can't get here. I want to be working out and getting in shape. I can sort of half-assedly do the latter, but only by means of calisthenics and weird adult playgrounds, which seem to be China's answer to gyms. They have monkey bars and swingsets and these weird sort of walking swings. I'm using the rings to work on my lats, so that's something, at least.

Saw the last Pirates. Many things made me go yay, some things made me go WTF.

I'm half inclined to write a snarky sex fanfic about the ending, featuring the line, "Well, I'm technically in the water..." Tell me if it has been done.

Other than that I have been poking at online forums and crawling up the walls. Wish I could do more LJ/blogging, but Tor is sloooow. I bite the internet blocking. Rarr.

Speaking of the Silicon Curtain, Wikipedia is now unblocked, as was Blogspot a few days ago (may not be now) but everything seems to have ground to a vast slowdown. I suspect they are trying to pretend everything's back to normal post-rioting, and also doing their yearly-ish "go visit what you like and we will watch you to see if it's questionable" thing. I know someone who ran afoul of this visiting too much info on T1@n@nm3n Squ@r3 last year and got her IP blocked permanently, so that she can browse from home only by using a proxy. Freaky shit.
amberite_archive: (Default)
I went downtown and bought some things I'm going to use to practice dancing. The buses were wretched, but the trip was fun.

Afterward, coming back, I discovered a new street food stand -- not really a meal place, just barbecue skewers, but good yummy Sichuan style grilled eggplant and mushrooms. And stinky tofu. I didn't realize it was the stinky tofu (doufu ru) until after I got it, so I ate it anyway. It wasn't the stinkiest stinky tofu in the neighborhood. I survived, but I don't think I get that much cred for it.

Then on the way home I spotted a small bat flying in circles in front of my building.

Yay bats!
amberite_archive: (cosmonaut milk)
Zhonglish:

On a box of what I may assume to be fresh oranges: "ORANGER NONCE"

Clearly, the former is a typo and the latter a mistranslation. I'm not sure it makes a band name. Maybe a high fashion label?


Telepathic toilet paper brand: "Mind Act Upon Mind"

They also make tissues.



Not really much to say aside from that!

I'm going to go get dressed and head downtown to see what I can see.
amberite_archive: (Default)
I still haven't managed to make the cranky shitty induction cooker do anything well other than boil and steam (the hot bits have two settings, "too hot" and "not at all", but when you add a lot of water it works pretty well. I've managed to fake saute things by cooking them in a little water + oil and adding more water as the initial bunch steams off, so keep that in mind when reading the recipe.)

ingredients:
dried lima beans / large white beans
zucchini
onion
peanut butter
curry powder
salt, sugar, cooking oil

After soaking the beans for at least six hours, cook them until they're an edible texture. This usually takes about 45 minutes. Drain off the cooking water. Then if you have a proper stove, put them aside and saute the zucchini and onion, then add the beans and water and other ingredients; if you don't have a proper stove, stick them all together in some new cook water with cooking oil, liberally add curry powder plus salt and sugar to taste, and a spoonful of peanut butter. Cook until edible.

This actually came out surprisingly good, which is why I'm putting it here.
amberite_archive: (lard bucket)
or elsewhere, I just put together some advice for would-be teachers in a comment:

http://amberite.livejournal.com/515550.html?thread=3464670#t3464670
amberite_archive: (lard bucket)
The less time I spend with other people, the more vivid my internal auditory worlds get. The whole time I've been in China, I've had a mental soundtrack, usually giving some kind of key to my mindstate.

I have to laugh, for in the last two weeks it's been giving me 'Sloop John B'.

I wanna go home, let me go home
I feel so broke up, I wanna go home.


Yeah.

I've just gotten so bloody sick of everything I have to put up with when I walk outside my room. The earsplitting truck horns are the worst one. That's not so much a feature of all China as of the area around the school. I'll be glad to get out of town this weekend and pick up pasta, Buffy DVDs and other essentials of life.

Oh, you know what else? More funny than annoying -- actually, annoying, but funny because it solves a mystery: I got fake birth control pills!

See, I'm taking the pills to even out my hormone levels -- really, really useful for this -- and stop my period. I researched the assorted progestins before I did this, and found that of the ones on the market, levonorgestrel is probably the safest: desogesterel, which is the current popular one, has three times the risk of blood clots. Since my mother had blood clots, I don't want to take any chances. So I bought a packet of pills while I was in Guilin, and started on them. Works great. Except that I ran out shortly after getting back.

So I went out... only to find out that no one's got these in Yangzhou! How weird, I thought. I went to about five drugstores in different parts of town and showed them the packet. "Meiyou, meiyou." They offered me the other versions of birth control, they offered me HRT and morning-after pills, but not what I was looking for. I went into a drugstore where they finally had the one I was looking for... and when I tried to pay, they wouldn't take my money!

I had no idea why until I got my period the second time this month. Meaning the pills are either diluted or fake. I'm guessing diluted, because I seem to feel less crappy on them than off. That explains it: the other shops didn't have them, and the last one gave me them for free, 'cause of a recall. Pharmaceuticals here are almost always made locally. The fake pills are from Nanjing. Which means if I go to Shanghai I can probably get good ones.

Geez. Fake birth control pills. That's a lot of trouble waiting to happen.

EDIT: I thought I said this, but I'll make it clearer, just so nobody panics: I'm taking the pills in order to get some of the indispensible side benefits I got from T, i.e., to compensate for a hormone deficit (which was making me feel crappy a lot) and stop my period. Since departing from Portland I haven't had any sex save with 'Rosie Palm and her five sisters'. So don't worry about me! I'm talking about other people's trouble!
amberite_archive: (me with kitton)
So Fu Xing is now off to his new countryside home with a friend of a friend. You can't really do background checks in China, but I trust the referring friend -- Asim, my buddy from Xinjiang -- and I'm also going to get to pay a last visit before I leave for the States in June.

Those of you who said I'd be terribly sad when he left are quite right. Part of it is that I just didn't have the chance to prepare. In China there's no such thing as advance planning. Things just happen when they do, or they don't.

He'll have a very different life here than the one he'd have in the States, and maybe a harder one, but if there's one thing I've learned from being in China, it's that people can be happy wherever they are and however they live, as long as they care for each other, and to never dismiss the simple pleasures, and ...

Maybe that's more than one thing.

I hope he's gonna be all right.
amberite_archive: (Default)
More thank-yous are in order... too many to list off. I want to respond, but I can't answer comments from here. Some evening when I'm in Thailand I'll head to a net cafe and answer properly. Tonight I feel like I'm dreaming true dreams under a patchwork quilt made from the words of people who love me, and nothing could rip apart such strong thread...

Updates continue in the other blog.

On the note of the latest entry there, I just did up my Chinese astrology -- mainly because I'm a Rat, the Year of the Rat is beginning, and I can *feel* it like whoa. I've never especially been interested in Chinese astrology before, but of course it would come into focus for me in China.

My five-element chart is as follows:


Metal (self) - 114
Water (kids) - 16
Wood (money) 74
Fire (job) 19
Soil (mom) 146

These aren't all literal: here's where I'm getting my information. To summarize, 'kids' means creative output, 'money' means material output in a way that spends resources, 'job' means that which puts pressure on one, 'mom' means that which brings support or aid.

Water is my lucky element because it's the smallest: therefore more water balances my life. I find this interesting because it's so spot-on. I always feel better near water -- I even look better in photographs taken near water -- and this has been true since I was four years old and had to be physically carried out of the pool to make me stop swimming. And on the other note, I also don't feel all right unless I'm being creative, and that's also been true of me since I was very young.

Weirdly, I feel like the information on the website is understandable to me in ways it wouldn't have been before I came to China -- the way it's presented, the way the cycle works, and the style of language they're using are all Chinese in ways I've grown accustomed to only by day-to-day living among people who think along those lines.
amberite_archive: (cosmonaut milk)
...starts in Wuxi, in a student's home which she reports as having kind of rough conditions (I'm too embarrassed to ask more, but I expect a little short on modern plumbing) and will end*, I have just received confirmation, with three days in the marvelous Atlanta Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand.

The hotel only costs $20 a night, but they practically require character references to get in -- and only take reservations by fax. This is partly to keep up the sense of being in another age of the world, and partly to keep sex tourists out.

I faxed them a long-winded letter and mentioned being married, being a teacher, and wanting to work on my novel while I was there. I'm sure the amount of information I put in was overkill, but it worked; one of the hotel people emailed me back accepting my reservation and echoing my loquaciousness with all sorts of delight for writers and writing.

Oh, and a note: though I won't necessarily be able to respond, you *can* reach me here. If you do, though, please leave your email address in your comment, so I can answer back personally!

Back to grading!


*well, not precisely end; but for the three days after that I won't be so much 'traveling' as 'getting back'.
amberite_archive: (cosmonaut milk)
The woman at the student supermarket doesn't want to keep Fu Xing and can't take care of him for the holiday, so the search for a home has begun. Yes, this is about ten days before I'm to set off on my travels. No, planning further ahead wasn't an option. Every time I've tried to plan ahead for something, the locals have gotten utterly confused: "What, you mean you want to do this *now*? No? Then why are you asking?"

...Interestingly, having fluent English doesn't prevent the confusion, but having good English grammar helps. Past/present tense is one common confusion for Chinese EFL speakers. Sapier-Whorf much?

Anyhow, tonight I asked several friends & acquaintances to step up the search for a local home. (One has gotten back to me so far, with a possible candidate. We've yet to make sure all the care requirements are in place, though.)

I'm gonna miss the little bastard. I feel pretty confident that we'll find a decent cat-mommy or temporary cat-mommy, at least by local standards -- but part of me is going to panic until he's safely in their hands. Not least because I just bought my bargain tickets from Shenzhen for a nine-day sojourn in Bangkok (the fees cost as much as the fare) and now I'm really jonesing to take off into the blue.

Doing the research for this trip has reminded me that there's no way to see all of China or even all of the highlights. For example -- out of my way by an overnight bus ride, there's Yexianggu, near Jinghong, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan -- the wild elephant reserve. Where I could stay in a no-frills hotel in a tree.

Incredible longing stirs in me at the idea of it. I can't afford to go there and also hit Guilin/Yangshuo, and maybe I can't afford to go there at all (at about US $60, plus another $30 for cabfares, it's way past my normal budget) but mein Gott, it's a hotel in a tree in a wild elephant reserve...

I'm kidding myself if I think I'm going to see half the stuff I want to. Damn. I guess there's nothing for it but to return again for a month in some future year.

--

All this, and the finals too! That's actually the least difficult part -- my teaching schedule's lightened substantially to allow time for grading, and they gave me a form to follow for the test; I used material from Simple English Wikipedia for some of it and wrote my own for other parts and worked to my students' ability level, and for the secondary test, for absent students and retakes, I alternated between 'same material, different answers' and 'same answers, different questions'.

They've even assigned me a 200-seat classroom for the written test, so I can test both classes at once (meaning I don't have to get up at 6:30 on Monday, and only have two class periods instead of four!) and still avoid seating two students next to each other: a very big deal for testing in China, as cheating is rampant. In some ways I don't think cheating is really considered to be cheating by the people who do it -- more of that communal culture stuff that's both very clear to me and very alien to me: a person and their friends work as a unit, on everything. Homework, personal life, whatever. So the idea of not doing so on a final exam is quite reasonably out of place in the worldview. Nonetheless, it's necessary to enforce.

The oral finals for most of my students were today, and I finish up tomorrow. I found the format on http://iteslj.org: assign 5-minute appointments to students in pairs, and either at the appointment or beforehand, give out flash cards with simple discussion topics. I used "Food & Drink", "Hopes & Dreams", "Fashion", "Modern Life," "College Life", and I allowed students to collect their cards at the testing session whenever they arrived, meaning that prompt students got more practice time but everyone got at least five minutes to review before coming in. The complexity is provided by the students: that's part of the point. Some of them made their topics interesting, others didn't, and it reflects in their scores.

All in all, it worked really well as an oral testing procedure and I got a better sense of each student's ability from it than I did from the presentations we've had in class. Since both students are asking and answering questions, it's also quite easy to separate their ability levels if a good student is paired with a lousy one, which is of utmost importance for any group testing procedure. Most students were well-paired. The widest point spread I had was a 95 and a 65 -- one of them speaking fluently while the other gave halting monosyllabic answers. The reason he got a 65 and not a 50 was because halfway through I egged him on a little.

No one failed outright. I had a couple of low D's, some C's, and lots of B's and A's.

I grade a bit easy (or rather, I base a lot of the score on effort, and encourage effort at every possible opportunity) because of the position my class has in my students' lives and educational careers. A huge part of my role is getting them interested in English, making the language more vital and real for them. They have grammar classes and TOEFL-prep classes. Learning rules is in their comfort zone. Speaking and listening isn't yet. I'm teaching on the boundary and trying to move the boundary outward as I go, and so I find it less useful to measure what they're already good at than what they're improving at.
amberite_archive: (into time... and SPACE!)
Oh, and as for my vacation, which will begin between the 18th and 21st: I finally found the site that does cheap flights in Asia (airasia.com.) They don't do many connecting to/from China, which is why I'd ruled them out previously, but now that I've decided that I will visit Shenzhen, I looked again and found tickets to Bangkok for around $130 one way or $200 round trip. So Thailand it is.

I was planning this yesterday and thinking I'd go in overland through Laos and come back up on the plane, but looking at the trip... it's either a 30-hour solid bus trip from Kunming, or two ten-hour trips and a riverboat trip broken up by stays in assorted places, and the bus service in Laos and in the nearby area of China gets universally lousy reviews. They tend to stick Westerners with shared beds on the sleeper bus to Mengla: two blog narratives are too much to be coincidence. Furthermore this wouldn't actually cost less than going both ways by plane, and if I really want to see Laos, I can take the fast train from Bangkok to Nong Khai and hop the bus to Vientiane.

Part of me really wants to travel the hardcore way -- but taking a three-day bus trip (assuming the once-a-day buses are actually running, which sometimes they aren't) through a region where no one speaks English and modern medical care is unheard-of.... it's setting off alarm bells.

A bit of remoteness is one thing, but being multiple days away from emergency services without a travel companion or 'spotter' just seems too xtreem for the likes of me. Even soldiers work on the buddy system. I never really have.

Everyone tends to think it's odd, but travel's always been a solitary pursuit for me. I go on the cheap, and half of what I get out of new places is that they inspire new ways of thinking; and it's harder to arrive at a new way of thinking when you're with familiar people.

The other reason why I wanted to go in overland was flexibility: plane tickets have to be booked in advance, bus trips really can't. But if I'm going in from Shenzhen, that also allows me some chance at exploration; Macau is a short ferry ride away, so if I arrive a few days before my plane trip, I can also head there. I wasn't interested at first due to the main peninsula's reputation as a casino town, but I think I'm already in love with Coloane. Euro architecture! Pirates! Beaches! Swoon.

The best thing about this vacation is that the whole month should cost less than $700. Some of it's coming out of little bits I've socked away by eating cheaply, the rest from my January and February salaries. I'm not sure *when* I'll get the February salary, but I've decided it's all right if I use my DO-NOT-TOUCH-stamped credit cards for a small sum that's going to be paid back in a month's time, two at the most. Because it's that, or not go -- and jesus beans, I'm in Asia and I have no way of knowing if and when I'll ever be this side of the Pacific again. A flight to Thailand from the US costs more than I expect to drop on travel, food, lodging, and souvenirs put together.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] tinuvielberen and to my lovely partners, there WILL be pictures.
amberite_archive: (cosmonaut milk)
Oh, yes, the Nanjing trip. Brief report, photos forthcoming. So: I can say pretty heartily that if I wanted to relocate internationally with my family for six months or so, Nanjing would be near the top of the list. It's a comfortably large city -- people obey traffic laws there much more frequently than they do in Yangzhou, and the university district is full of expats and expat hangouts and local versions of expat hangouts, proper bars and coffee shops and restaurants charging a pittance compared to what they'd cost back home. The smog is pretty bad, but it doesn't *feel* as bad as a smog day of similar badness in Yangzhou, and I'm assuming that's due to all the large trees and viney foliage that occupy every street: more oxygen to battle for square footage with the good old-fashioned coal crud. The Jasmine International Hostel is a fine place to stay for about $6/night. Oh, and the cheap DVD shops are quite quality.

Let me review, for posterity, the Chinese mafia edition vs. the official edition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

Edition:IllegalLegal
Quality:The season by season ones are 6 eps/disc and pretty decent. The 'full edition' (irony quotes explained below) is 24 eps/disc and looks like someone saved it as a jpeg at 1%. Half the episodes won't play. Well, you get what you pay for. And I paid five bucks. Lush. It had better be, at that price! But how many of the people who actually made the thing will get a reasonable cut of it?
Completeness:Missing, for some reason, the second half of season 2. Censorship is my theory, but why? Does Angelus make some kind of offhand 'Free Tibet' remark somewhere?1 It's not like there's no sex, even underage sex, in the rest of it.Complete. Well, duh.
Blurb Copy:In Chinese, and English... more or less.2In English.
Fair Wages for Writers:Nope....And nope. Kind of puts this whole legality thing in perspective. 3


--

In other news, I've been in a panic over generally feeling shitty -- because lots of nasty syndromes are flagged by generally feeling shitty -- and then today I officially came down with another viral crud. The cold virii here are different from the ones in the States -- the previous time also started with several days of idiopathic feeling-like-shit4, including indigestion, followed by a sore throat for several days with a bad postnasal drip and a headache, then followed by the usual cold. The sore throat isn't quite as bad this time. At least I'm getting it over with before my vacation.

Fu Xing is a holy terror now and has names in six languages. English: Mr. Awesome. French: Rominet (the French name for Sylvester the Cat.) Korean: Navi -- courtesy of the Korean prof's daughter. Spanish: Pepe -- courtesy of a Mexican traveler I met in the hostel in Nanjing. Uyghur: Kaisar, which means hero.

That's right, the kitten now has a name in Uyghur. This is the result of a friendship I struck up a few weeks ago, which has its own funny associated story. I was trying to get home from the supermarket after 7:00 PM, which is always a dodgy prospect around here, and couldn't figure out from the various private buses' drivers if anyone was going my way. Finally a pleasant stranger showed up speaking English and helped me find the right one.

It wasn't leaving for a long while, so we got to talking. He's from the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, he's a mechanical engineer at an international company, and he likes his job because he gets along very well with expats, better than he gets along with most Chinese. He's more or less an expat himself due to the weird "all these countries are China, yet they're really not" thing. I find him very comfortable to be around -- perhaps because his enculturation seems to carry a concept of personal space that's lacking in the cities of Eastern China. At that time we had a rather hurried conversation -- he had to go -- but I mentioned I'd found a kitten, a baby cat with no mother, and was feeding and raising it and it was hard work...

His eyes widened, but I thought maybe he wasn't used to cats. We exchanged phone numbers and email addresses, agreed to chat about science fiction, maybe go out and have coffee...

A few days later, he called me and said, "I've talked to my friends and asked them what to do; they think you should bring it to the police."

I think you know where this is going. I was completely confused and didn't connect this to anything at all. I thought I'd misheard him. "What?"

"Bring it to the police, or a hospital..."

"Huh?"

We went through this routine a couple more times.

"Bring what to the police?"

"The baby."

The light dawned. "Oh! Oh no. No, not a baby person! A baby cat."

He was silent on the other end of the line. Then, finally, "A baby....cat?"

"Yes. Baby cat. Xiao mao." I made kitten noises into the phone. He started laughing.

"A baby cat! And I've been so worried these few days..."

In between laughing and apologizing for the embarrassment, we both agreed it would make a great story. We went out to tea yesterday and had a great conversation about our respective lives and cultures, and I asked him if he'd contribute another name for the list. So Fu Xing is now also Kaisar.

1Oh noes! Banninated! Wait, LJ's already banninated. Yay Tor!

2From the back of the 'full' S2: "Actress is one called Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar playing) girls, and a group of her high school friends Willow, Xander and her guardian Giles (on the surface of planets is the identity of the school librarians) with right Anti - Vampire story to, because they live in town Sunnydale is the door to hell where, in addition to vampires, other Many also often the devil. Solar energy is natural, making all kinds of evil against her and her friends to her She also help in the operation to redouble their might..." Ah, don't you love computer translations?

3Mind, in the States I'd be getting them from the library or borrowing from several friends, unless I were to finally get a decent job or some other sort of windfall. But even in that event, I'm not buying any official DVDs from the major corporations until the writers get a better deal.

4malaise, I know. But I love to mix my medical and slang vocab. Booyah!

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