Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Met Jodi at work yesterday; her "classmate" Ji Lei came over with her husband and we made a delicious dinner together again while he re-installed Windows XP on Jodi's computer. It's amazing how ignorant I am when it comes to Windows. On the other hand, put me in the kitchen... haha.

Afterwards, I met Asa at Xintiandi and we caught Cold Fairyland at the Ark. He recorded the show on his laptop, but didn't have the cable to do it through the soundboard. Mianmian was supposed to show up, but she eventually sent an SMS to excuse her fashionable absence.

Afterwards, we went out for a second (midnight) dinner with the band members minus a couple, plus the sound guy. Lin Di ordered, so it was good stuff.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

When I buy a house, I want my bathroom to look like this:

The walls scribbled over in permanent marker, listing my Chinese vocab for the week.

(via Harry's Weblog)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

On Thursday night, I walked down to C's with Chris for the Antidote concert with Michael O, B6 and others. We ate at a great Macanese place for dinner, on the corner of Yan'an Xi Lu and Dingxi Lu. I don't know why it was called Pizza Inn.

The Friday 超级女声 Supergirl party was a success. There are even pizza leftovers for work next week!

Me and my bud:

I like Dashan.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


It took another day of forgetting to turn off my net connection and losing my internet card as it ran down overnight for me to:

man wvdial.conf
cat >> wvdial.conf
Auto Reconnect = 0
Idle Seconds = 300
Dial Attempts = 3

Should have done this a long time ago. Back to only using the internet at the office for a week.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Oh man, just when I get in a book-buying mood, I get an e-mail from the ASIAN RARE BOOKS store in New York with their . Somebody hide my wallet.

While Asa and I were walking around the Zhongshan Park area tonight looking for dinner, I decided to write a post about how I used to have friends that would eat with me at hole-in-the-wall places, but not anymore.

Then we spent RMB 20 a piece at a back neighborhood place to eat 川椒辣子鸡, 酸辣土豆丝, 香菠古老肉, and 鸡毛菜. Add in some lamb kebabs and serve over a bowl of rice. Yum!

Also, we noted that Zhongshan Park is similar to many of the more developed neighborhoods in Shanghai in that the depth of the development is very shallow, such that by walking just a block or two you can move from luxury high-rises to old-school apartments and brick houses. We saw some very charming ivy covered cottages just ten minutes by foot from the Zhongshan Park metro station.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

I went on an Amazon pre-shopping spree today, and this is what ended up in my cart:

  • A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey

    Brian D. McLaren; Hardcover

  • Proletarian Power: Shanghai in the Cultural Revolution (Transitions—Asia and Asian America)

    Elizabeth J. Perry; Paperback

  • The Shanghai Green Gang: Politics and Organized Crime, 1919-1937

    Brian G. Martin; Hardcover

  • Creating Chinese Ethnicity: Subei People in Shanghai, 1850-1980

    Emily Honig; Hardcover

  • Beyond the Neon Lights: Everyday Shanghai in the Early Twentieth Century

    Hanchao Lu; Hardcover

  • Assignment Shanghai: Photographs on the Eve of Revolution (Series in Contemporary Photography, 2)

    Jack Birns; Hardcover

  • New Shanghai: The Rocky Rebirth of China's Legendary City

    Pamela Yatsko; Paperback

  • Cinema and Urban Culture in Shanghai, 1922-1943

    Yingjin Zhang; Paperback

  • Shanghai Modern: The Flowering of a New Urban Culture in China, 1930-1945 (Interpretations of Asia)

    Leo Ou-fan Lee; Paperback

  • Reimagining Spiritual Formation: A Week in the Life of an Experimental Church

    Doug Pagitt; Paperback

  • Church in Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives

    Leonard Sweet; Paperback

The rub?

Subtotal: $339.02

Now, to pare this down...

Five parter on the weblog tonight.

Net Rationing

So here's the plan: I allow myself to buy an RMB 50 dial-up internet card on every day of the month that is a multiple of ten, and that affords me 30 hours of internet time for the following ten days. Sounds do-able? Well, considering I ran out of time 4 days early on my first try, this is going to be fun.


My and Jodi's favorite singer, little Coco Lee sing-alike 何洁, was eliminated on Friday night's Chaoji Nvsheng PK, so we're not much interested in watching the show anymore.

Jodi noted that of the three girls left, two are sporting the currently popular 中性 look. How do you translate that word? Asexual maybe. Basically, they look "ambiguous". But you be the judge:

It's the short spiky hair and emo glasses.

Oh, and when we went to Shanghai Book City this evening, we saw a bunch of high school girls hanging out near the front door holding Chaoji Nvsheng posters and recruiting passers-by to vote by SMS for their preferred contestant. It's just a TV show, folks!

Language Oops

I was walking to lunch with Jodi and a tout offered us a paper, proferring it and saying something about a "menu". I was momentarily surprised that this guy knew the English word for "menu", but figured that he probably meets English speakers every once in a while since we were in the neighborhood next to the Shanghai International Studies University.

Then Jodi remarked that he should have offered the menu to the 帅哥, and I realized that he had actually been calling her 美女. Oops!

Hong Kong Disney

Hong Kong Disneyland had its soft opening on the 12th of this month. Jodi heard somewhere that there were low prices for package tours to visit, so we stopped by the travel agency just north of Raffles City on People's Square on the off chance that they'd be offering that specific package. Sure enough, 4 days and 3 nights, one day to tour the city and one day of free Disney exploration, hotel and meals and airplane ticket included, for RMB 2000.

The big stinker would be having to apply for Jodi's passport—she'd had to go back to Hunan for that—and my visa changed to add another entry. Oh, and the fact that it could probably be done funner and cheaper by travelling independently.

Surfing over Dial-up

Jodi finally got her computer working and modem installed, and I found out this tip in the process. I've been buying cards with usernames and passwords on them to get dial-up internet access here in Shanghai, but if you don't want to deal with the hassle and don't mind paying a slightly higher price (or just want to test out your new modem) you can dial 16300 with username "16300" and password "16300" for a net connection billed to your phone bill. That's nice for those times when you have a net emergency.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

In a rare act of self-discipline, I'm limiting my time online (computed through an algorithm that has me offline for the next three days). Hence the lack of posts, and replies to e-mail.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Max (Livejournal user taschenrechner) wrote,

It was just weird. I mean some people are pretty adamant about using English with anyone who isn't Chinese. That's fine. Usually I let them just amuse themselves, and if they wanna practice, that's cool. I love languages and if someone else loves languages, then I'll help them practice. It's just that when I wanna get something done quickly, I'd like it done. Be it English, Spanish, Chinese, or Russian.

I'm pretty much the same. Just don't fall into the habit of hanging out with these people too often.

Chinese-American Shanghai weblogger Mark Wang wrote an entry on his weblog about his desired superpower:

I wish I could at will, switch appearance between being laowai and Chinese. Perhaps being able to quickly suit up from my usual mild-mannered Asian identity, a la your favorite comic book superhero... yeah, that's it! ;)

So his post is cool and thought-provoking in terms of racial relations and colonial identity, but it got me to thinking that I should write down the superpower abilities I've always wished I had.

Actually, they are not so much superpowers as they are abilities to manipulate the world around me in order to study it better. Mainly, they are the following two:

First, I wish I had the ability to superimpose guide-lines—straight and curved—onto my field of vision, and be able to lock those gridlines onto physical objects in order to track their movement or trajectories. For example I might ask myself, if I were to shoot a bullet along that roofline, would it pass above, below, or through those powerlines? If I had a magic laser-straight line that I could draw along the roof and magically extend across the road to the powerlines, I could predict where such a bullet would go. Or see that girl over there? She has a great walk! I'd like to draw a line connecting her two hips, then extend it out in either direction and watch it oscillate wildly as she walks across the road.

My other wished-for superpower is to be able to color the air different colors to track gas movement. For example, is that person across the subway car sleeping or not? Well, if I knew how hard they were breathing then I could know for sure. So I would turn the air in the car green, then turn all air coming out of their nose pink, and watch it swirl out of their nostrils and into the car. Or I'm playing cards with friends in Bifengtang, and I want to know how much smoke from that table over there is actualy reaching us. I would have the smoke from their cigarettes turn a bright sunflower yellow that would be very visible as it wafted across the room towards us.

So I guess it's no surprise that I was slated to be a scientist for a while. I'm just curious about the way the world works, and how we can interact with it.

This was my busy day:

  1. Take the morning off, sleep in and go online. Find free passes to Madame Zung tonight on the SmartShanghai forums.
  2. Run through the office, chat with co-workers, collect teaching materials and jet down to Xinshidai preschool.
  3. Teach an hour from class. Get a text message from Jodi saying she's already home, don't worry about coming to pick her up at work.
  4. Head straight to Asa's, chat as he packs up his last few things and, when Chris arrives, trundle everything downstairs and into a taxi. Ride a few blocks, pull stuff out onto the sidewalk, then trundle it up into his new apartment.
  5. Go out to dinner at the New York-style pizza place in the shopping center across from Jing'an Temple. Lindi joins us.
  6. Lindi and Asa get excited about dancing, so we taxi over to Madame Zung and dance to breakbeats for a couple of hours. The place is hopping. I'm sad because Jodi is not there, but I still have fun.
  7. Taxi home with Lindi because Asa and Chris are still dancing.

I'm beat.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Today was the seventh day of the seventh month of the year (七月初七) according to the lunar calendar, and that meant that today is the Chinese version of of St Valentine's Day, called 七夕 and covered on Wikipedia. Walking around town today we saw lots of couples, and the girls were often carrying big bouquets of flowers.

I met Jodi at the Jinjiang Park metro station after work. We went out to dinner at an all-you-can-eat buffet downtown in the Shanghai Center that was obviously modelled on the buffets in Las Vegas; the give-away clue being that its "subtitle" name was 维加斯, which is the phonetic spelling of Las Vegas, except that to me it sounds a lot closer to the "Wages" in the "Lost Wages" parody name. Back to the buffet, we independently arrived at the conclusion that it was pretty average and not worth going back. After a walk down glitzy Huaihai Rd back to the metro, we rode up to People's Square and got 2-for-1 double-scoop ice-creams at the Svensen's in Raffles City: blueberry-cheesecake/strawberry for me, green-tea/blueberry-cheesecake for Jodi.

I saw this joke on Slashdot today:

A policeman pulls Werner Heisenberg over on the autobahn for speeding.
Policeman: "Sir, do you know how fast you were going?"
Heisenberg: "No, but I know exactly where I am!"



나의 어린 친구야 너도 이제 강해져야한다!

RSS feed for Erik's weblog: done.

(Now you may laugh at my cut-and-paste Korean.)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

超级女声 is probably the most popular TV show here in China right now. The name of the show means "Super Girl Voice", where the "Girl Voice" part is a play on the word for female student; the show is like American Idol, but it's all teenage/college-age girls. As I understand it, they are doing local versions of the show all over China as a run-up to a grand national contest. The show is very girly and dramatic, ergo very very popular.

I put up a new ThingImWondering because I saw this used in a newspaper headline about the show...

What the "PK" in 超级女声PK赛 stands for (not what it means).

But then a Google search turned up a quick answer, which was as I suspected:

超级女声最残酷也最吸引的地方就在于它的PK赛。每一位被淘汰的选手都是在PK赛中被PK掉的,这里顺便回答一下病毒的问题,PK, 作为目前最流行的词汇之一,我是真的真得很喜欢,以至于喜欢得爱不释手,胡乱引用,词不达意,这是我常干的事情,想来你也不会怪罪于我;这词本来缘于网络游戏中的名词“Player killer”,当然是个名词,后来也可以做动词,大约是“搞掂”、“杀死”、“末位淘汰”诸如此类的意思,含义比较丰富,根据上下文可以衍生出不同的妙味来。而且以后我们对某些故事也可以稍微改头换面些些,比如把“杀死爱情兽”改成“PK爱情兽”,就增加了不少喜剧效果。

The PK stands for "Player Killer"! It turns out that the part of the show where the two bottom singers (or something like that; anyways two girls) have to sing a song, make an emotional plea with the audience, and then stand behind their own ballot boxes and cry as selected members of the audience come up and cast their votes for either girl, the one with less vote being eliminated.

Here's a rough translation of the Chinese above:

Chaoji Nüsheng's most cruel and yet irresistable part is the PK contest. All the girls who are PK-ed have to be eliminated in a PK contest. Here I'll quickly answer a question that's probably bugging you. PK is one of the more popular words in use today, and I really really like to use it; I like it so much, I could hug it. I recklessly use it right and left, to the point where it loses all meaning. But I think you won't blame me; see, it's something I do all the time: originally, PK comes from online games where "Player killer" was first a noun, and then a verb which approximately means "to do somebody in", "to kill", or "to decisively eliminate". The range of meanings it can take is pretty broad, so depending on the context it can be used in clever ways. So we can use it to switch up some familiary phrases, like making "love killer" become "love PK-er", to heightened comedic effect.

Reminds me of the Korean real-life PK. Yikes!

The shuyokai (20s and 30s group) is really the reason I'm here. I just love hanging out with Japanese people of that kind of age trying to work out their faith. It is, after all, what I plan to do for the rest of my life.

Is that allowed?

Selected Unicode Han Characters:

(J) non-standard form of U+559C 喜, to like, love, enjoy; a joyful thing

in ancient times to fight against the enemy by pushing down the big rocks from up high; to throw over, to urge; to exert oneself, to carry in the bosom

(same as 胡) angry, the throat, what? how? why? which?

saan1 (Cantonese)
(ancient form of 璈) to walk slowly like a woman, to ridicule; to laugh at

(ancient form of 姣, 嬌) handsome; pretty, cunning, meretricious allurements, to insult; to disgrace, licentious; profligate; lewd; (Cant.) amorous, in love with

I wonder where these definitions are from.

There's this older couple that sits at the gate of my apartment complex and sells 饭团 (think "rice burritos") every morning till 9am. These 饭团 are delicious, so I'm actually eating breakfast semi-regularly now. Yesterday, the gentleman was wearing an old T-shirt. This is what it said:

different day

Jodi told me that when she first got to Shanghai, she thought that the guys who sit on their parked motorcycles by the subway stations and bus stops were the infamous Shanghai husbands ("they cook, they clean, they take care of the children") waiting to pick up their wives and take them home. Only after she mentioned them to her roommate did she learn that they are actually just 二轮车, two-wheeled taxis.

Monday, August 08, 2005

So Typhoon Matsa was supposed to hit Shanghai sometime in the last couple of days. Being the optimist that I am (or consciously choosing to be oblivious, choose one), I ignored common sense on Saturday night and went to the metal concert at Harley's.

The concert was great. I got there about 30 minutes late, but still in time to catch the last couple songs by Xuanwumen (玄武门). Their new singer is an awful match for the band; whereas one of the things makes Xuanwumen great is the nonchalance with which they project their musical genius, this guy is a total showsman. Still, great progressive rock, killer guitar and drum solos. Next up was legendary metal band Mortal Sin (死罪). I'm not a big fan, but they got the crowd worked up and had me nodding my head. After them was Epitaph (墓志铭), who came out all painted up in white and black. By this time, Chris had gone back to the bar to have a drink, but I was in the front row head-banging and occasionally moshing along with the rowdiest of them. More good metal. They were followed Xiao Yu's band, the much anticipated Blood Horror (血惊), probably the highlight of the evening. Afterwards came an anti-climactic Qiying (麒缨), actually the organizers of the show. But by then I had had enough, so I grabbed Chris and we headed out the door.

The show was marred by sound problems; typical Harley's. But I was relieved to see that the place was relatively uncrowded, such that actual cool air could make it into the stage area!

Who was there: Xiao Yu, the Yuyintang lady, Liu Yi, the Xuanwumen keyboardist, Chris, me, and a bunch of metal-heads.

When Chris and I hit the street, it was raining lightly, so we ran to the next-door Xinianlai for a late night snack—for me, a 粽子 (bamboo-leaf steamed rice, peanuts, and pork) and a cup of cold soy milk. Since we were having a good time chewing the fat, we decided to move down to the Bifengtang on Tianyaoqiao Rd. Little did we realize that the above-mentioned typhoon Matsa was about to make her full appearance. We had to brave typhoon-scale winds and horizontal rain to make the one block trek, and my poor umbrella was absolutely useless: we were soaked by the time we made it, Chris was wringing his sweatshirt to get the water out. We stayed at Bifengtang talking till about 2:30 in the morning, and at that time it was still pouring (and I mean pouring) down rain. Chris headed to the bus station, and I tried to find a cab. By the time I got back to Harley's where the cabs were, I had walked through 4-inch-deep water (no way around it!) and flipped my umbrella back the right way multiple times. The cab I finally caught had to navigate blocks and blocks of flooded streets, including my own Ningxia Rd, before finally making it to my apartment complex, where it couldn't make it to the front door of my building because some tree branches were blocking the lane.

Crazy night. And I'm not the only Shanghai weblogger to have been caught in the storm.

Friday, August 05, 2005

I just found out that SUS2 is opening a store just a few blocks from my house, and there is a three day concert to celebrate happening today, tomorrow and Sunday. I can't make the session of rock ballads today because I have a previous appointment with the media naranja, but maybe Saturday...

Also, from someobdy's sig in the SUS2 forums:


Some humor is universal.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

At 5:30 today I got off work, jumped onto the subway and headed to Walmart.

Yes, you heard right! Shanghai now has a Walmart. Not the first in China—there are three already in Kunming—but the flagship store in my present hometown. I don't feel like writing a real long post, so I'll do my favorite thing and summarize my notes in a few lists:

How To Get There

If you're a cheapskate like me, you'll be interested in how I did it. First, take the metro to Lujiazui Station, and then ride to Longyang Rd on either...

  • Bus 119,
  • Bus 785,
  • Bus 陆周专线 (best option), or
  • Bus 795, make a right at the light, walk a block towards the bridge, and make another right (this is what I did).

What I Didn't Find at Walmart

  • Baking pans.
  • Plain, single-colored mugs.
  • Ajax/Comet-type cleaning powder.
  • Quality chocolate.

What I Did Find at Walmart

  • People picking up these strange ceramic objects that were on sale and wondering "what the heck are these things for"? (they were butter dishes)
  • Victorinox Swiss Army knives (though they were out of my favorite model, the Executive)
  • People shopping in pajamas, lots of them
  • Parents carrying babies in split-bottom (or no-bottom) pants
  • An in-store Baleno outlet
  • Lots of pre-packaged processed fresh-foods, like salads and ready-to-stir-fries.
  • Philadelphia cream cheese (RMB 25)
  • Eight ounce Land'o'Lakes cheddars, Monterey jacks, and pepper jacks (RMB 30)
  • Stuff priced per 500 grams (the standard farmers' market weight is the jin, equal to... 500 grams!)
  • A deli-style cheese case (with a bottle of wine in it, for people who like that kind of "cheese, wine and caviar" thing. Shanghai Walmart is classy!)
  • Baked-in-store cheesecakes!
  • McCormick cinnamon (RMB 5.3)
  • Watermelons priced at RMB 1 / 斤.

Wait a second, you say. Watermelons for RMB 1 per jin? That's the same price I get from Xiao Wang down the street! So much for "天天平价" ("Everyday Low Prices"; yeah yeah, I know what it actually means, I'm just not gonna miss a chance to poke fun at Walmart).

I'm not kidding, I actually did take notes in my pocket notebook. In fact, at one point I actually had two employees sidle up to me and say a friendly "hi". Were they suspicious? Hooray for the citizen press!

The store looks really small from the outside, but the inner floor space really is bigger than my local Carrefour (Wuning). Overall, the atmosphere is pretty much what you'd expect from Walmart: open, white, simple... but the range of goods stocked is pretty much in line with what you find at any other large superstore here in Shanghai (with small differences here and there as noted above). And what about that famous Walmart neighborliness? Well, I'm disappointed to say that all that the intensive customer service training has amounted to is the customer having to hear the usual monotone 欢迎光临 more often than usual.

I'm heading out to Walmart today after work. If you want to come along, give me a ring or shoot me an e-mail to get in on the secret meeting place. I'm thinking of dinner at the Super Brand Mall food court afterwards. Or something.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Tonight as an experiment I tried taking my flirtation with the heat to its full pinnacle by ignoring the air-conditioner, throwing the windows wide open, and lounging around in as little clothing as possible.

The results? It's eleven at night, and I'm still covered in sweat. My back is constantly itching from little drops that roll down my spine, but I don't dare scratch because I know my hand will come away a wet mess. Yuck!

Maybe my electricity bill isn't that expensive after all.

Now that I'm messing with the photos I've categorized for a project I'm working on, I might as well put convert -append to good use and make another quickie:

I tiled a bunch of pictures together of myself from over this past year.

These are all pictures from this past academic year 2004-2005, starting in Beijing last summer and ending right here at my current location in Shanghai this last weekend. Available in low and high resolutions, for people with slow and fast connections respectively.

I was organizing my pictures anyways, so here you have it:

Pictures of Asa for his fans.

The individual shots are available in relatively high resolution. E-mail me if you want them.

From the show I'm watching now, with Jodi, 好想好想谈恋爱 ("I Really Really Wanna Be In Love"):


If I'm going to be the lightbulb, who's going to pay the electric bill?

In Chinese, being the lightbulb (灯泡) is the equivalent of being the proverbial third-wheel.

Recent additions to the Wiki:

All recent changes, including both spam deletions and real changes, are updated on the Recent Changes page.

Monday, August 01, 2005

More pictures, this time of a shopping trip with Jodi and Cherry, and then dinner with the 'rents.

Sorry, no pictures of Asa.