Randomness

Chinese Pick-upThere are a bunch of little thoughts that I’ve had bouncing around in my head for a while, and I thought  I’d dump them out.   This is all just randomness.

Chinese Pick-Ups

The picture you see is a “Chinese  pick-up truck”.  While cars are becoming much more common, I would estimate that at least half of the traffic on the roads is some form of bicycle.  E-Bikes (electric mopeds) and scooters are the most common.  The “trike truck” in the picture, however, is very common.  It’s the basic utility vehicle for everything.  They will pile the back so full it looks like something from a Looney-Tunes cartoon.   There’s also a common version where the back is a grill.  They make an amazing array of food from the back of one of those trikes.  Some have  a seat in the back and become a taxi.

A Country in Flux

Whatever you’ve heard about China is probably 50% true and 80% false.   China is a country–and a culture–that is changing very rapidly.   It’s difficult to explain.   America had 100 years to slowly progress through all the various stages of growth.  China has done it in less than 30–or, to be more precise, parts of China have done it.   China  isn’t growing all together.  Parts of the country are ultra-modern, while others  are still living the same way they did 200 years ago (except with cellphones).

China is Not One Country

In the same way that the US is a mish-mash of different attitudes–New York, Hollywood, New Orleans, Chicago, Billings, Taos… all so very different–China is a conglomeration of different cultures, ethnicities, histories, and attitudes.   And, of course, this is true for any country.

The Devil is in the Details

This is a phrase I teach my students.   I tell them stories about my first months in China and how the biggest problems came from the smallest things.  Chinese stairs are (usually) about 6 inches high; for the first few months, I would step up 9 inches, and then stumble because the stair wasn’t there.  Green ice cream in America is mint flavor; in China it’s “green tea” flavor.

In my time in China I have not only met Chinese people, I have met people from England, Ireland, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Germany, Belarus, Ukraine, Venezuela, and more.   And the thing that I’ve found is that 99.44% of what we do is familiar–if not the same.  We may do it in different ways; have different traditions, different protocols, and different taboos…  But for the most part, we’re all looking for the same things.

It’s that last little bit that causes the problems.  The details are the hardest things to overcome–because they are the smallest.   They are the things we do every day without thinking.  They are the details that are so ingrained that we get severely upset when they don’t meet our expectations.

And they are the reasons that we fight.  And hate.  And demonize.

Perspective

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

There are plenty of things wrong with China.  And pretty much every Chinese citizen knows this.  The same can be said for every country.

Sometimes it may sound like I’m saying that China is better than America.  I’m not.   I love my home and I look forward to coming back.   What I’m trying to show is that China and America are–in so many ways–the same.  China–the people, not the government–looks up to America.  They want to be America.  And I do my part to explain to them why that’s a great goal.

Caramels

20140416_145356I finally got around to making caramels for the first time. They turned out pretty good, but a little soft. I need to cook them a little longer next time.

They still taste great, however.

Since there’s obviously too much for me to eat alone, I’ve been sharing them with staff and students. With the exception of those people who don’t like sweets, they all like the caramels.

Expanding

In the coming weeks, Geekistan will be changing.

I’ll be expanding this blog and involving more people.  While it started as a personal blog, I have the opportunity to make it something more.  I have friends–other foreign teachers–who are in China and Korea, and who have lived in other countries.

A Month of Exercise

I’ve posted my various trips around the city before.   Here’s a quick look at my activity for the last month.

Activity Trips Distance (km) Total Time Active Time Resting Time Unaccounted Time Calories
Bicycling 16 60.21 4:38:00 3:14:13 1:23:06 0:00:41 1951
Walking 9 31.72 5:45:58 5:13:36 0:32:06 0:00:16 1982

There were quite a few rainy days over the past 2 weeks, and I didn’t move into my new place until the 8th, so I should have a lot more exercise in the months to come.

FYI:

60.21km = 37.41 miles
31.72km = 19.71 miles

Flowery Magnificent Garden #5

Last week I moved into a new apartment.  It’s on the northern edge of town, right by the industrial zone where I do most of my work.   It’s in a development called “Hua Sheng Wu Yuan” (华盛五园).  It means something like “Flowery Magnificent #5 Garden”.

It’s a standard apartment block.  Nothing special.  It is, as these things go, fairly nice, however.  There are lots of trees and plants, plenty of parking, and a view of the canal (which… considering what’s in the canals here, probably isn’t a selling point).  What is a selling point is that it’s about 2.5 times as big as my last apartment, and 20% less rent.  I’ve got 2 bedrooms, a decent kitchen, a dining area, and a big open living room.  I’ve turned the smaller bedroom into an “office”.

One block to the west is a short road called Maotai Rd.  At night it turns into a conglomeration of street vendors selling all sorts of different foods from little carts and tents.  You can also shop for clothes, trinkets, DVDs, and other stuff.  It’s fun–the sort of “local color” that I love.

Below are a few shots of the apartment.  My bedroom is a mess, so no pictures of that.  🙂

A couple comments on the photos:

The shot of the bathroom light is to show the flashing red & blue lights at the end.  They flash randomly like police lights.  I have no clue why.

The picture of the glasses is because whenever I have guests over, they are surprised by all the different shapes of glasses I have.  When I explain that each one is for a different kind of drink, they’re slightly confused.  Here, a glass is a glass.

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New Digs (for the website)

I’m in the process of moving the website to a new server.    I have most of the content moved over, but I need to do some work to get the galleries working properly again.   Updates (and, hopefully, new stuff) will be appearing soon.

Changes

For a long time, I’ve been thinking about this blog, and how to make it into something bigger.

My dream has been to turn this into a place where many different people living in many different countries can talk about their experiences from their own point of view.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to start doing that.

You’ll still see all my random observations about life in China.   In addition, however, you’ll also see stuff from other people who are living away from home.