Saturday, September 13, 2008

i'm looking for my leopard, where can he be?

Someone please help Mr. Kitty find his leopard!!

Just in case that stops working (as Youtube videos so famously like to do), the static link can be found here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

china time

I finally figured out how to switch my blog over to China time. It wasn't something that was difficult or anything, I just never thought about it except when I was away from my computer. But now it's done so my post times will actually reflect the time of day which I write them, not half a day before.

Also, if I read your blog/have read it in the past and you haven't received any comments from me recently, it's because China is full of haters who don't want me to look at any websites that I actually enjoy reading. is amazingly never blocked, too bad I hate any sort of real news.

I have everyone on my "Strawberry's Faves" list saved in my Google Reader so I'm able to read your posts, I just haven't figured out how to comment on posts from the Google Reader platform. Is this possible? Anyone? Beuller? Beuller?

The few times any of you HAVE received comments from me, it's because I'm accessing your site from a proxy server which is actually a huge pain in the ass. I can't even access my OWN website without using a proxy server, which is why I haven't been replying to a lot of comments on my own blog. I really appreciate all the comments, though!

I've been trying to access my site via proxy at least once a week to reply to everyone, but China only lets you use one proxy site for so long until they block that, too, so I'm kind of hitting a "Great wall", so to speak. At least I can still get on to post.

What sites they choose to block and not block totally make no sense to me. Like, for example, the fact that is blocked is both very upsetting and very perplexing. Is there anything politically subversive about a cat saying "kthxbye"? I'd have to go with a resounding "No" on that one.

And yet, some government official somewhere thinks lolcats are socially sensitive enough that they need to be hidden from everyone in China. The saddest thing about it is the Chinese don't even know what a plethora of hilarity they're missing out on. Yeah, I'm ending a sentence with a preposition. Suck it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

local celebrity

I've been in China nearly two weeks. It's weird because in some ways that's such a short amount of time, but I feel as if it was ages ago that I was running through the airport in San Francisco silently praying that I wouldn't miss my flight. Well, I made it, and so far I'm surviving.

It's been so hectic getting acclimated to the 15-hour time difference, creating a schedule for my graduate courses, and thinking of lessons for the three different classes I'm teaching, so I've barely had time to relax much less sight see. This weekend I thought I'd go crazy if I stayed on campus so Romy and I took a trip to the Bund.

The Bund is a district in Shanghai, I think. I mean, I don't really know how to describe it, I just know what it is. A lot of tourists go there and take pictures. It's basically just a wharf overlooking a bunch of cool looking buildings that line the Huangpu River. It looks like this:

Romy and I took a lot of pictures of each other with the river and city skyline in the background, since that's pretty much the only thing to do at the Bund. Some guy came up to us and asked, "Can I take picture?" and we assumed he meant take a picture of the two of us since we were unable to get any together, but I'm weary of handing off my camera to strangers so I said no and he started to laugh nervously and then apologized, when Romy realized he wanted to take a picture with me, not for me.

So I laughed and said sure. It happened once more before we left the wharf, I'm toying with the idea of charging 5RMB a photo or something, y'know, for a little "mad money". The Naked Cowboy gets away with it in New York, why can't I do the same thing in China? I could be the Naked Cowgirl of Shanghai, only not naked. And not a cowgirl.

My friend Penny who is also a blond American got asked to hold someone's baby while they took a picture of her. I'm keeping my fingers crosses someone asks me that, because that's just awesome.

life lesson #1

If someone begins a sentence with the words "I don't mean to be rude, but..." or "I don't mean to be mean, but..." they are about to be rude and/or mean.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

supporting child labor in every country

Since all the products at American Walmarts are made by small children in China, do Walmarts IN China get their products from here, too, or are they supplied by another developing country that's being exploited for its cheap labor?

I have no idea. My guess would be that it all still comes from China, but since all the product labels are in Chinese I couldn't say for sure.

Either way, I went to Walmart today with my friend Romy (she's the "Romy" to my "Michele") and it was fabulous. It reminded me a lot of home, just seeing that giant yellow smiley face and all the signs for "rollbacks". I don't even shop at Walmart in the States, but shopping at Walmart here in China comforted me.

Something that's always interesting when you're visiting (or living, in my case) somewhere foreign is how many mistakes you make from simply not knowing the language. So far I haven't really built up the courage to attempt full-on conversations with locals or anything, so it's not language mistakes yet. For the time being, it's mostly accidental purchases. Like purchasing sweet sliced bread instead of regular white bread. Or salty, sour-seasoned dried orange peels instead of "dried plums" like the package indicated.

It's really just a trial and error thing until I learn more than two characters (ni and hao, which are never on product labels anyway). Everything is an adventure in China, even grocery shopping! Every day I go in with my list of things to buy, wondering what little surprises I might encounter. For example, did you know that they don't sell ANY sunscreen in China? It's true. For as much as Chinese women like to walk around with parasols to protect their skin from UV rays, they don't have entire aisles devoted to sunscreen like in the United States. I found one bottle, after look at four stores, and it was 80RMB, which is super expensive, especially since it was only 2 ounces.

They have a wider selection (maybe four or five brands to choose from) of sunblock that doubles as a skin whitener, but putting bleach on my skin is 1. not necessary for me 2. not something I want to experiment with here in China.