Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holiday Time Off

So I open up my email the other day and this is what I get.

Dear All

The college has decided the new year's holiday as following:

We will work on Saturday (29th, December) and make up classes for Monday(31st, December). The holiday will be on 30th, 31st, December 2007 and 1st January 2008.



I have withheld the name to protect the innocent, but does anyone else see what is wrong with this? There are two things, for one how can they call it time off, when you are working those days, you are just working on a different day, also one of those days (30th) is a f@#$!@# Sunday, no we don't work on Sundays here.

It stipulates in my contract with the school that I get 3 days off, two of them are made up and one (the 1st) is not, they are trying to pull a fast one on us.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Layers, Layers, Layers

Everyone says that if you want to stay warm you must wear what?.......Layers. Well ladies and gents it has begun to get cold here (last night it was 32/0 depending on who is reading this)brrrrrr. But come on it is not that cold, I mean I might be from Florida, but it gets much colder than 32, right?

So I went to class today and my four senior students show up (that's a whole 'nother story), and they are covered head to toe in clothes. This is nothing new, in fact, it seems there is a date when people start wearing their winter coats (November 1 is my guess, although I can't ever get a straight answer). It doesn't matter that it is still 50 degrees outside by god it's November 2nd and I need to wear my coat or I will get sick. Sound familiar? Isn't that what your mother always tells you?

Today was different however, I decided I was going to get to the bottom of my students clothes wearing habits. Because they always ::gasp:: when I take my coat off (inside), I mean why would I take my winter coat off when I am inside a heated building? Then, inevitably, they ask me if I am cold, and I always say, "If I were cold would I take off my jacket?, and, why do you care anyway?" They say it's because they are worried about me. So then I invariably ask them, "Why don't you take your coats off?" And then they always answer in unison as if rehearsed, "Because it's winter silly." I added the "silly" but it might as well have been what they said.

There are some things in China no foreigner will ever understand and the layers issue is one of them. I asked them how many layers they had on, they answered 4, keep in mind these are healthy twenty year old kids. Four layers!!! An undershirt, Shirt, Sweater, and Jacket (that's the top) then the bottom, regular underwear, long johns, another set of long johns, wool socks and finally pants of some sort. I mean my god two pairs of long johns it was 34 degrees outside, not -34. To top it all off, this is indoors!!!! indoors!!!! Crazy, crazy there is really on word and it is crazy. They almost fell died when I told them I was only wearing jeans.

The best part of all is that they will sit there and sweat in the classroom while I am more than comfortable. Ahh China, gotta love it.

Riley GwiX

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Great Haze over China

I'm not talking about being hungover either. The pollution here is something else, it's really crazy. It's hard to really show people how bad it is other than the sunsets and now this image from NASA that is honestly astonishing, I have modified it a little so you can see exactly where I sit in all this.

According to NASA (Click the Picture to enlarge)
Thick haze collected in eastern China, south of Beijing, in mid-December 2007. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite took this picture on December 17, 2007. In places, the dull gray haze is thick enough to completely hide the land surface below. The haze appears confined to low elevations, only cresting the Taihang Shan Mountains in a few locations.

Here is a picture of a beautiful Chinese Sunset. (Don't stare you'll go blind.)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Red Pajamas

While on the topic of superstition, I thought I would mention a funny one that my students told me about. Apparently nobody here where's red pajamas, I didn't believe it either but just like green hats they are impossible to find. There is a supersition that says if you die wearing red clothes at midnight that your soul will be stuck in this world forever. That you will haunt where ever it is that you die.

Strangely enough they sell an insane amount of red underwear, while I consider underwear ,clothes they are not included in this superstition because you are supposed to wear red underwear when it is your zodiac calendar year. So because I was born in the year of the pig (this year) I have gone out and bought a nice pair of red undies for good luck.

Crazy Chinese

Translated Brands

So I have decided to start a new blog devoted to Chinese Western Brands. It is one of my favorite things do when I am bored here and that is find brands I know and recognize. So if you are bored there will be some more content for you to look at. "Misadventures" will be personal observations "Familiar Brands" will be more formulaic.

Leave me a comment to tell me what you think.


Green Hats

So recently I started wearing this beanie that one of the teachers who likes to knit made for me. It is just a normal green hat nothing special but in China nothing is at it seems.

I had been getting this snickering when I walked into class and kept seeing students pulling their camera phones out trying to be slick and sneak a picture of me. Normally, (it is normal by the way) when they do this I will try to embarrass them and make wacky poses. But, it seemed the wacky poses were only adding to their excitement.

Strange as it may seem, I couldn't seem to shake this. So, I kind of forgot about it. Then yesterday one of my Chinese teaching colleagues asked me if I knew anything about the green hat in China.

Here we go I thought, what is going to be this time? Apparently she told me, that no Chinese men would ever wear a green hat, even the People's Liberation Army (PLA) had changed the color of the hats their soldiers wore. Now, if something can get the PLA to change it habits it must be big.

Turns out that there is a saying in Chinese that goes like this 戴绿帽子 or (dai lu mao zi) "to wear a green hat". Apparently it means that your wife or girlfriend is cheating on you, or basically you are a cuckold. Crazy Chinese...apparently in the Ming and Yuan dynasties men whose female relatives were prostitutes would have to wear green head coverings.

So the lesson is don't give a man a green hat in China unless you are trying to tell him that his wife/girlfriend is cheating on him.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

So I have picked a new Chinese name, it is 韦一(wei yi) which means like the one and only or special. Pronounced way eee, it kind of sounds like my name and has a cool ring to it. Plus since there is only one Riley I figured it would be a good representation of me. There is a big emphasis on the meaning of names here. The name must mean something or the child will be a mess "supposedly".

Plus the name is easy to remember and easy to write.

That's all for now.

From the Middle Kingdom


Monday, December 10, 2007

So I have had a hard time trying to express the naivete of my students and just yesterday had a prime example pop up for use with my western audience. So I was talking a student of mine he is about twenty I think (maybe older). And, we were watching a movie about Africans.

So Edward let's call him turns to me and asks, "When Black babies are born are they dark or do are they white and then turn dark?"

After hearing this I was flabberghasted. He was totally serious and had no idea. This is what we are dealing with....most of the world is that uneducated.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Funny Chinese Sign

If ever there was a sign that summed up China it is this one. Tell me how much of this is common sense? Bear in mind that I found this in a very nice, prestigious Museum. The Henan Museum in Zhengzhou is regarded as one of the best museums in China. So you would think that people would act accordingly, right?

I really want to get a T Shirt of this made and sell it.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

So I went to the old grocery cornerstore on campus, today to find some dishwashing soap. They didn't have the brand I like, so I had to search through the remaining brands to find something worthwile. So like any human I pick them up and sniff them. First one I see is ginger scented, hmmm must be interesting, (not my cup of tea), the next one pardon the pun is tea scented, then of all things GARLIC! for your dishes? Oh China, WTF is that all about? So I settled on papaya the most "normal" of the scents.
Oh Yeah, just on a quick note I have decided to grow a beard just because:

a. I can.
b. The locals can't.
c. It is getting cold.
d. I'm lazy.
e. There is no hot water in the morning. I don't know if you have ever tried to shave without hot water let's just say it is torture.
f.Well there is no f, but I just liked the roundness of having an f in my list.
There are some things in China that I wish they would export to the states. (Now isn't that a strange statement.)

But I'm serious, for instance the water bottles (big 5 gallon variety) have these little plugs on the bottom that are pushed in when you set it into the dispenser. When I used to work at Apex Systems we would always play a little game and see if the chump who picked up the bottle would spill it when they set it into the fountain. Here that is not an issue, the mirror-world of China is not all bad.

Second, and this is something that would make life so much easier driving in any congested area. The traffic lights have timers on them telling you how long you have until the light turns red/green so you know that you are not going to make it and there is no need to speed up if there are 3 seconds left and you are a 1/4 mile away.

Third, well let me come back to a third one, there really isn't anything I can think of off the top of my head that is more logical here. Yeah that's pretty much it but if I think of something I will be sure to update you when I get a chance.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Mistaken Identity

I guess it is a compliment when someone from a foreign culture is not recognized as foreign. I have two different examples to give you. For one, I saw one of my students in the street and I did the old look them in the eye waiting for them to recognize me. However, to my surprise they walked right by me, and I said, "Hey Ann, what did you not recognize me?" She whips around and said, "Oh, Riley?....Sorry I thought you were Chinese." I don't know if this is a compliment or an insult maybe the world wide web can help me interpret this.

Then on the same day as this whole coming off as Chinese thing, I had two separate students tell me that I sounded Chinese when I spoke Mandarin. That I thought was pretty cool considering the whole reason I came here was to learn Chinese.

Anyway, that's all for now.

Over and out.