Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Coppers

While my parents are out of town this week, I have to act like psuedo-mom to my 24 year old brother. Today I had to drive with him up to Indy to buy the rest of his police gear, and put it on my credit card until the parents get back and can pay me for it. I never thought in all my life that one of my sisterly duties would be to help him try on bullet-proof vests and to try to decide if it was a proper fit. Since he didn't want to lay out $400 for a new one, we were digging through boxes of the $49.99 used ones. Kinda weird to buy something "used" when it could be the very thing that saves your life.

Then when we got home, I had to help him fit the vest under his shirt until he can ask a deputy if he's wearing it right. He's not allowed to wear his uniform until he "gets his brass" on Friday, so here he was wearing khakis, his belt and holster, body armor, and a button up shirt. Having never seen him in uniform, he looked more like undercover cop than anything. And it will still take some getting used to to see him lift up his shirt and seeing that he has the loaded gun under there.

Medical Misery

Medical tests run on my family in the 4 weeks I was gone:

2 sleep study tests
1 EKG
1 Nuclear stress test
2 MRIs
1 CT scan
1 shoulder x-ray
1 chest x-ray
1 oncologist visit
and 2 ER visits

And that only covers my parents and siblings. I think we're single-handedly keeping the medical business afloat.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Pigs and blankets.

Our house looks like a pig in a daycare exploded sometime while I was gone. We have to sell pork sandwhiches at the 4th of July celebration, and currently, the pig pieces are in our deep freeze. And there are a lot of pig pieces.

And then my parents have hit every yard sale in the state to buy baby things. We have strollers, play pens, swings, blankets, clothing, changing tables, etc. If I didn't know better, I'd think my parents we having another kid. My favorite thing is the baby swing hanging in the tree. I hadn't said anything about it since my parents are gone, but my brother brought it up last night. We were both like, "they do realize that the baby won't be here until Oct. and won't be ready for the swing until at least January, right?" I find it funny since my mother has always said how she's not a baby person. Even though she was a great mother, she has no desire to hold babies or be around them much. Apparently that will change.

The sis was over here the other night. Our cousin the masseuse performed his massage test on her and said that she's having a boy. But like my dad said, he had a 50/50 shot so why wouldn't he hazard a guess. I'm already starting to call the baby by the name I've picked out, hoping it will catch on. My sister had it narrowed to Eli and Tyson, and I've chosen Eli and they chose Tyson. She said they'll settle on one definitely after she has an ultrasound. I'm confident she'll see the error of her ways and trust my judgment. After all, this is the sister who always made me come up with the names of our pets and wouldn't let her husband name the dog until I had a chance to weigh in on the topic. [For the record, I chose Reece, which was the exact name the husband had chosen unbeknownst to me (we both thought she looked like a peanut butter cup) proving once again that as much as you try to avoid it, you'll marry someone like your family.]

Barrel of a Gun

I'm still on Beijing time, as is evidenced by the fact that I only sleep for a short time between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. (corresponding to nap time in China) and crash around noon (aka 1:00 a.m.) and wakeup after 8. Sadly, I have no motivation to change this.

Last night at about 2, my brother returned home from a tour of duty on the police force carrying a variety of items, including a small black box. I asked if that was his gun that I knew he had to buy a few weeks ago. He confirmed it, then proceeded to put everything down and get it out of the box. He opened the chamber to show me that there was no bullet, and then pointed it at the floor and pulled the trigger so it clicked and showed that it wasn't loaded. I can't even describe how the sight of him holding a gun made me feel. And then he handed it to me.

I've never held a gun before, and I can safely say I never want to again. Though my gut and my eyes told me it wasn't loaded, I still could feel my heart racing and hear it in my ears. It weighed a ton and I could barely hold it up with both hands. He then showed me his magazine and told me exactly the steps he had to take to load it. And then explained how the safety on it was on the trigger and that the trigger had to be depressed for it ever to fire. Which seemed it a bit inadequate to me.

My parents have never owned a gun and my dad has always said that there would never be one in the house. Of course that doesn't apply now since the bro's a psuedo cop. But I told him that just the sight of it scared me, to the point that I just didn't want to have it out of the box. And I commented that I don't know how he does it not being terrified of carrying a loaded gun. He confessed that at first it scared him too until he had shot it (at the range of course) and that the only thing that reassures him is that since he is the only one that handles it, he knows that it's only loaded if he loads it. He loads it before he's on duty and unloads it immediately afterward. He said that he wasn't even keeping the bullets in the magazine until it became too much of pain to load it every time.

He's on duty again tonight and will be patrolling the carnival that's in town for the 4th of July (more on that later). I may have to go down to the park to see him, since I've yet to see him in full uniform and until I do, it won't be real to me. But the gun. Damn that was too real.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Back home again, in Indiana

I've been breaking out my best impression of Jim Naybors bellowing out the tune but none of you are able to enjoy it. Your loss.

K pointed out that yesterday was the longest day of our lives, since Sun. June 27, 2004 lasted exactly 37 hours for us. 4 plane flights, most of which I spent in the middle seat of a too small plane, and we're home. I was greeted at the airport by my parents, my aunt, and my cousins holding colorful signs that said "Welcome Home From China Heidi." Except they thought they'd be funny and instead it said "China Welcome Heidi From Home." Apparently they'd been testing out differing variations for an hour while the security guys (who were bored as the airport was deserted and no one was passing through the metal detectors) voted on their favorites. Gotta love the fam.

I have a few more stories to impart, but I'm too tired to do that now. I've got all week to catch up on the blogs I've missed and it's wonderful to be able to view my own blog on the real page. More later.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Leavin on a Jet Plane

It's time for K and H to say toodles to the Asian continent. (Actually toodles now has a different definition since we had tofu noodles today, but anyway.) We've got a bit of bargaining to do at the markets, and some packing in our future (except K who did a trial run through of the packing the other night and then just decided not to unpack anything) and most of my clothes have moved from laundry purgatory to dirty stinky hell. And luckily for K, for the first time in our international journeys we will be seated next to each other on the plane. Hope she remembered her nose plugs and snot shields as I have sneezed more in the last week than I have in my entire life.

But enough of that stuff... we'll be home in about 48 hours. Catch ya on the flip side. Literally.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Is it any wonder?

After reading the previous post by H is there a question left in anyone's mind as to why we are coming home early?

In other news there is a Chinese girl in the computer lab who is singing and I am about to bitch smack her. She has one of those annoying high pitched girl voices. People in China love to sing. They walk around campus singing, cab drivers sing, men whistle cheesy 80s love songs in the park, this is a people who simply can not be quiet.

Maybe tomorrow you will be lucky enough to get a post about our test. I know you are dying to know our thoughts on China's intellectual property law and foreign tax treatment of WFOE's (pronounced woof-o). Only three more days until we hit the continent!!!

True concern.

So K emailed a few people to let them know we are coming home early. And these few people all proceeded to email her back asking if everything is OK. Translation: what has H done that you're either (1) ready to kill her, or (2) want to kill yourself to get away from her. What amuses me is that no one emailed me to make sure everything was OK on my end. Translation: only H is capable of annoying someone to the point of them wanting to leave the country early.

I'm happy to report that K and I are still on speaking terms, as far as I can tell. I tried to think of anything I've done that may have upset her, but realized that that's impossible. She's only bailed me out of Chinese prison 3 times, and I've only brought home 8 strange men in the last week. And it's not like I didn't offer to share. It's not my fault that K doesn' want to play massage table tai tai. Who knew she was such a prude?

But I stopped worrying when I realized that we were still on the same page. K pointed out that M and C only emailed her because they needed exact details of when to stop having orgies in K's living room. Good point K.

Kee Kee phone home.

K and I have had enough of the Asian country side and are heading home 4 days early. We were originally supposed to stay in Tokyo for 3 days, but decided we wanted to come straight home. Though it was no easy task mind you. We had to call Northwest to change our flight, and you can't dial an 800 number with a calling card number. So we tried using just the ATT access number and it wouldn't dial. I called my mom and asked her to call NW and ask them for a number other than an 800. They told her that they didn't have one and that I should just call the operator and ask to be connected. Right, because calling a Chinese speaking operator is going to get me anywhere.

We proceeded to dial numbers for the next hour and a half hoping to get a way to call. There is an access number her (108-888) where you get an ATT english line. We dialed that and she wouldn't connect us because 800 numbers aren't free to China. No shit. That's why I'm asking you if I can pay. So I asked if I could use my calling card, and she says, no. So then I asked what I could do, and she said to dial 108-888. And I'm like, how do you think I got ahold of you dumbass.

So then I tried my ATT credit card and called collect to customer service to get my pin. When I told her what I needed, she transferred me back to the same operator who works the ATT calling card line, who then told me I should call customer service. So I told her I did and they transferred me here. She said "oh" and then told me to try dialing 108-888.

I'm not exaggerating when I say I spoke to 15 people in China, all of who though that the 108-888 number would miraculously solve my problems. Finally we called K's dad in Indiana and he transferred the call to NW. By this time K and I are willing to pay upwards of $500 to change our tickets. (Sidenote: we had just found out that our hotel didn't have all the amenities that Expedia claimed it did, nor did the pool open until the day we left. The kicker was when we found out that it would cost us $120 U.S. just to travel into Tokyo for the day. Needless to say, this is why we wanted to come home early.) The NW agent put K on hold for 20 minutes and then came back and asked if we were willing to fly home on Sunday for $23.66.

K actually felt the need to ask my permission before we booked that thing as quickly as we could. So in less than 60 hours, I'll be home and sleeping in my own bed and brushing my teeth with tap water. Can you believe the luck.

Monday, June 21, 2004

The Orient Express: Frat Party Train to the Armpit of China

Well we have returned intact from our first foray into travel outside Beijing. This weekend we took an overnight train to Xi An to see the magnificent terracotta warriors. H and I had been joking all week about how it would be like a frat party because all the guys going just wanted to get drunk on the train and act like jerks.

I swear when we return to the US H and I will start working for one of those psychic hot lines because we were so on the money on this one! But first, a word about the train itself. Now last summer H and I trekked across Europe on overnight train after overnight train. And so I was a little apprehensive about this Chinese overnight train. Because the ones in Europe are pretty sketchy so how horrible would this be? To my shock, this train was actually nicer than our hotel. In fact if it had a shower, I would still be on the train just riding back and forth between Xi An and Beijing. Because the train had comfy beds, down comforters, and plasma screen televisions with English language movies!!!! Orient Express indeed.

Back to the frat party. So our companions bring entire cases of beer with them on the train and proceed to get really, really drunk. H and I are sleeping peacefully in our heavenly bunks when at around 12:30 we are awoken by loud English speaking voices right outside our door. The first words I hear are "I'm just saying that my argument is that it is not Roosevelt." In a loud, drunken tone. Then there is more talking, another guy saying that he agrees, it is definitely not Roosevelt. The conversation proceeds for probably close to 10 minutes, mostly in shouts and slurs and we learn that apparently two of the guys almost came to blows because they were trying to figure out which president served two, non-consecutive terms. One was convinced it was Roosevelt, the other equally convinced that it was Garfield. Another guy had to drag one of them out in the hallway before all hell broke lose.

My first thought in the middle of the night was wtf, and who the f cares. This is one thought at this time of the night. My second, more detailed thoughts were since there is no internet on the train, and no trusty set of World Book encyclopedias why would you argue about this knowing there is absolutely no way to confirm who is right and who is wrong. Had I not been on the top bunk I probably would have thrown open the door and kicked some butt, but alas I did not.

The next morning we asked the guys about it and they were like "you actually heard us?" "Well I guess we did move down by your door." All I have to say is this is your brain on beer. Any questions?

Oh and the correct answer was Cleveland. Silly drunk boys.

Confucious say...

At the massage place the other day.

Employee 4626: Is it too cold in here?
Friend: No it's just fine. Whatever you guys like is ok.
Employee 4626: No. The customer is the emporer.
Friend: Puzzled look. Really, if you guys are hot you can turn it down.
Employee 2749: Ok, the customer is Jesus.


Maybe you had to be there.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Rub me Tender

K and I had our first foray into the world of Chinese massage. We spent a little over 20 bucks and had an hour foot massage and an hour full body massage. Quite the experience really. We went with a couple of other people in our group, one of who could speak a bit of Chinese.

They lined us up in a room and then 4 men came in in formation and stuck our feet in scalding water. Any time we tried to pull them out they would make some comment that we should be able to "take it" and then shoved them back in. I seriously thought I was getting 3rd degree burns, and when I pulled my feet out later, it looked like I was wearing red footies since the red of my feet stopped right at the water line. But the foot massage was worth it even though my masseuse kept trying to make eye contact with me to see if I was enjoying it.

Then we progressed to the full body area. I was split into a room with the Chinese speaking girl and K was sent to a room with our other classmate. The 4 masseuses started to tell my roommate that we needed to upgrade to another massage package. We had originally pointed at the brochure at the package our classmates had done the week before. The guys said that we couldn't have that massage but that the more expensive package was "more comfortable for a woman." Which perked our ears up and made us wonder if they were giving us innuendos. They tried to explain that the woman massage was better because it included a head massage that the other didn't. Which is wholly untrue considering a male classmate of our had visited and gotten the other massage package and it definitely included a head massage. Though it was of a different nature that I, as a female, would not quite enjoy.

We went ahead with the "woman massage" and K's 13 year old masseuse was replaced with an older man. Which made her worry that perhaps they were giving us innuendos to begin with. But I'm happy to say that the Chinese full body massage has pretty much all the same movements as sex, without actual intercourse. Our bodies were rocking on the table for the full hour, and when I'd open my eyes, my masseuse would be rocking over me and trying to make eye contact. I tried to keep my eyes closed because I didn't want to look at him or look over at what they were doing to the other girl in my room. Though the squeaking of the bed pretty much gave away that the same thing was going on to her. Apparently this was what they meant when they said it was comfortable for a woman. When they finished I felt like I needed a cigarette, and had I had one, I may have offered one to employee number 2746. But he simply had to settle for the money.

Monday, June 14, 2004

SpyGuy

A few posts ago I told you about SpyGuy who believes the U.S. government is following him. I'm happy to say, he still thinks so. He's convinced that these unmarked black sedans are following him throughout China. So much so that he's enlisted our Chinese student hosts to "check into it". Poor Chinese students don't know what to do since I don't think they fully understand what he's saying. Regardless, the dude is out of his mind. He's giving us loads of entertainment, but at the same time, we're a bit scared that no one has pointed out to him before that he's a paranoid schizophrenic. Exactly how does something like that go unnoticed?

Saturday, June 12, 2004

I survived the Great Wall

Barely. It was what I expected, minus the three quater mile hike up to get to the wall. I guess in my touristy mind I pictured the bus dropping us at the bottom of the wall and letting us go. But of course I forgot that we were going to the original section. We saw pics later of the Badaling section of the wall, which K aptly called "the Disneyland version."

Once you get up to the wall, you can look over this waterway to a different part of it and take great pictures, and then it's a series of steps all the way up to another tower. The steps are varying and not big enough front to back for my big feet. I have a little fear of falling, not a fear of heights, and I spent the entire time climbing while keeping a hand on the wall to steady myself. So that was making me a bit shaking, not to mention that there aren't enough inhalors in China that would have allowed me to make it all the way to the top. Instead, I broke off from the group (did not sit at the bottom Chuck....) and did my own thing. K made it pretty far up and then joined the group on the cable car down. I didn't realize you could get to the cable car and stopped going up at the point when I realized that the further I went up, the more steps I had to climb down. And that was even scarier than going up.

Another group took cable cars and this train thing up, did a short walk, and they were in the middle of the wall. At something like tower 8 of 12. Others went up the way we did and made it all the way to the 12th tower. They were booking it.

Instead, I ran into other members of our group and persuaded them to do this zipline/repelling thing that went down from the wall and over the water. The thing looked like it was built in about 1940 and hadn't been oiled or fixed since then. But I put on my best front and convinced them that it would be entirely safe. So they went for it and I, in all my wisdom by offering, got stuck hauling their souvenirs and cameras back down the hill.

All in all it was quite an experience. Even at your most solitary times there's a local Chinese woman following you or holding on to you and trying to sell you postcards. That kind of destroys the serenity of the moment. But it was strikingly beautiful and a lot less crowded than the more touristy sections. I'd love to go back some time when we have more time and see the entire section. And of course to pick up that "I climbed the Great Wall" tshirt that I passed up this time.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Sightseeing

Tomorrow, in the 98 degree heat, we will be making our dainty jaunt to the great wall. Now unlike regular tourists who go to the "easy" sections of the wall, the law school program decided we wouldn't get the full effect unless we were fearing for our lives. As such we will be visiting the Great Wall at Simatai.

Please note the various portions that indicate that it is "not for the faint of heart" and that at some points "you may be on all fours." K's guidebook actually tells stories of people falling off of the wall to paralyzing injury because this section is so steep.

No wonder I had to sign an indemnification form.

House Warm(ing) Party?

H and I managed to snag an invite to a house warming party last night. Some of our class mates who are taking Chinese language lessons were invited by a fellow class mate who is French. One point against him already for being French. Another point against him because the map he gave us was atrocious. He had actually labeled one landmark as "red light." Care to guess how many red lights, red lighted signs, red street crossing signs, etc. there are in Beijing? Very helpful.

But somehow we found our way. I was quite impressed by the already budding language skills of our friends. So we arrive at the apartment, which had security as tight as Fort Knox and the giant adult play-ground equipment in the courtyard that we are so fond of. Chinese people love to exercise, and they have all this stuff that looks like playground equipment because it is brightly colored but it is really like stone-age eliptical trainers and weight machines. And it is always outdoors.

Anyway, back to the party. Now those of you who know me, know I like to throw parties and I pride myself on making my house look good for these affairs. I like to have plenty of good food, party favors, extra toothbrushes for overnight guests, etc. I might even get a bit anal about these preparations, like the fact that I scrubbed all the floors in my house on my hands and knees before the last party I threw. You know just in case someone wanted to sit, eat, sleep on the hardwood floors. So perhaps my expectations were leaning a little too much to the Martha side and not enough to the Chinese/French Charlie side. His name was Charlie after all. Acutally it was "William" in French but they called him Charlie. Whatever.

Anyway, this apartment was basically a hovel and the only warm(ing) thing in sight was the number of smelly French and Chinese people crammed into quite possibly the only un-airconditioned apartment in Beijing. Rumor has it that you have to order deodorant on the black market here. They sell it in France, but no one seems to use it. We made a graceful early exit leaving our braver companions behind trying to hook up with the women. Men! Same everywhere!

When we finally got home I turned to H and told her that if I ever move into such a dive she is not to allow me to throw a housewarming party. Not even party favors could have saved this affair. And the fact they didn't appear to have their own bathroom did not help either. Oh and lets not forget the neighbor who kept sticking her head out with half a watermelon in her hands and staring at me while I was in the doorway. Martha is probably spinning in her jail cell bunk bed as I write.

Television

The other night we were hanging out in the "good" hotel while our hosts had HBO on in the background. While we were gawking at their luck in having English HBGO, they only could focus on its faults; as in it was censored. Something about not being able to see Halle Berry's boobs in a movie. (Their words, not mine.)

Anyway, Kyleen and I have been biding our time watching our various selections of CCTV. Said CCTV was listed in Kyleen's guidebook as "painfully dull and full of propaganda." Thank heavens we don't have a censored HBO to take away from time we can spend watching part 5 of 42 of the Chinese Space Program. It's fascinating really. They keep telling me all about how successful the Chinese Space Program has been, all the while hiding the fact that no one gives a shit or has even heard of the Chinese Space Program. K just pointed out that as of part 5 they've still only built rockets but haven't progressed to actually sending them into space or building the more modern spaceships. Kyleen: "I built a rocket once and launched it at boy scout camp." Apparently Kyleen is now experienced enough to join the Chinese Space Program. I'll be looking for her around part 31.

Chinese Language Lessons

A few of our classmates have become ambitious and are taking Chinese Language lessons while we're here. I figured it was pretty pointless for me since I'm not exactly a language person in the first place. So we mainly mooch off of their abilities to get us home in a cab and such.

But the one phrase that we have mastered is (as pronounced):
eee ping schway
Which means: one bottle of water.
And if you're ambitious you can try:
err ping schway
Which is 2 bottles of water.

Useful phrases for our stay no doubt. We've been practicing using other words such as err ping hospital which would likely be very useful as the trip progresses except it means "I'd like 2 bottles of this word you don't understand."

K and I have managed to get yelled at by one of our Chinese law student guides. The other day we were out sightseeing and told to meet at the East Gate at a certain time. Only they failed to mention that there were approximately 3 East Gates. We ended up being on time, but someone else was late, and we kept being told that we were late and they were going to give our food away. "You make us late, they give food away. You should be on time." No shit dude. So now any time someone is running late, we're like "you be late, they give our bus/tea/classroom/boring class lectures/etc away." It really hasn't improved anyone's punctuality though.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Another Day in Paradise

Things have been pretty calm around here. I've not been to the lab in a few days since I can only access Insite for my grades during the hours I'm (a) sleeping, (b) in class, or (c) eating and bar hopping. And there hasn't been much other excuse to come here.

FYI all my grades are in, and despite my dismal performance on my Legislation exam, I've actually had the best semester yet and it managed to raise my GPA. A site for sore eyes since the last 3 have chipped away at it little by little. Still wondering what this 5 credit exam is going to do to us since we're not exactly sure we've learned anything testable. It's a little hard to follow and we tend to get conflicting information between the book and the lectures. But somehow we'll figure it out.

K and I have become the most popular backdrop for pictures in China. The other day we visited the Summer Palace and spent some time sitting on a railing by the lake. K was reading and I was people watching through my sunglasses, though I didn't really need the anonymity of those since everyone here stares freely. At one point an older gentleman walked within a foot of me staring, and then hurriedly handed his camera off to his friend to take a picture of him standing in between us. This would have been great and all had the dude actually spoken to us or given us any indication of what he was doing. Instead, as K said, had I not yelled out to her, she still would have been reading her book in this guy's picture.

At another point in the day, we were sitting along rocks on the edge of a path where Beijing Bob suggested that we try to see how many people we could get to fall down the stairs. Unfortunately we were sitting at the flat spot so most people caught themselves before tumbling. K and I are hoping to have a resident student make a sign for us letting people know we will take pictures for a small fee. Might as well make some money for our oddity.

Friday, June 04, 2004

The grade game.

Barring a complete disaster in my Legislation class, I can officially call myself a 3L. Most of my grades came up today and I passed the one class I was worried about. The grade was nothing to sing about but at least I don't have to retake the course. And I about fell out of my chair when I got another grade of mine, since I didn't think I did very well in it coming out of the exam. Apparently the professor thought otherwise and my grade reflects it. I'm glad we didn't self grade. After what I thought was a completly unproductive semester, I may end up with the best GPA of my law school career. With the way the summer class reading is going, this summer semester may very well be the worst of my career.

Anniversaries

All week, Beijing Bob has been telling us about how today was the 15th anniversary of the Tienanmen Square massacre. Apparently it is all kept on the downlow over here since the government doesn't really enjoy talking about the time when they killed hundreds of civilians. So where is the one place you would imagine they'd want to take a group of Americans today? That's right, Tienanmen.

Nothing was really going on. They gave us 30 minutes to look around, and since it's just a concrete plaza, we spent 2 minutes walking around and 28 staring at each other wondering if there was something we were supposed to be doing but couldn't figure it out. And to top it off, some guy with a professional camera and a 15 foot lens was following us around and taking photos. I'm assuming from his getup of "Nikon" vest and such that he was a reporter of some kind. I can just see the headline of tomorrow's China Daily: "Americans try to incite riot on anniversary", accompanied by our pictures of course. And that will be the last time anyone will see us as we're taken away to barracks in the China underground for the rest of our natural lives. Afterall, this is a country where you get the death penalty for embezzling. They don't mess around with that shit here.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Big Brother

Things may not be quite as private as we thought here in China. A man on our trip, we'll call him SpyGuy for short, is convinced that the U.S. government is following him. He has told people that he is either (1) currently in the secret service, or (2) a retired secret service agent, and that the government is following him around Asia. SpyGuy has told us how he went to work out the other day and there were no cameras, and then the very next day there were 6 cameras installed facing the exact machine he had been using. He tells us that he'll walk down the street and see dozens of unmarked cars, and when they start following him he'll make a sharp turn or U-ee back, and of course the cars come to a screeching halt trying to follow him. He often stands with his back to the wall with eyes darting around stealthily to keep watch for suspicious activity.

The sad thing is, I'm not making any of this up nor exaggerating it for dramatic effect. Just think kids, SpyGuy will be representing people soon in a court near you.

Signs on the bathroom wall.

Adjust the cock to raise the temperature.

I think these hotel operators are getting a little too into my personal life.

The grass is longing for your cherishing

The Chinese are very long winded. The above is their alternative to saying "Stay off the grass." Very poetic.

The Chinese are also a very loud people. In the park outside our new hotel they have a virtual dance party Beijing every day. They are always blaring music and people sing along or whistle. Today we heard Scarborough Fair, the other day Wham, but usually just Chinese music. Very annoying, especially since we have to keep our window open so the air conditioner works. There is something to be said about capitalism people because it makes you demand stuff that works.

So far not much to report. An interesting H tidbit. You all know how anal she can be, and when we moved to our new hotel on Sunday I commented that the picture hanging on the wall by her bed was crooked and I said that I wondered how long it would take for her to crack and straighten it. I'm happy to report that she made it all the way to Wednesday!!! No doubt a new record.

I will now sum up all I learned in two days of Chinese IP law class. Our professor said that capitalism is like canned food. "The canned food is delicious" to be exact. And IP law is like the can opener because with protections for companies then they will want to come to China and it will benefit from the world economy. Pretty deep stuff--someone alert Maggs and Crews that they need to come up with some catchy stuff like this for job security.

I did not learn a thing in two days of arbitration so nothing to report there. I have however coined the nickname "Beijing Bob" for Lancaster and it is catching on. I am thinking of trademarking it now that I know all there is to know about IP law in China.

Stay tuned for more (hopefully more interesting) updates!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Tales of a foreigner.

Ok, we've refrained from checking email and comments in anticipation of having a slew of them when we got back. I am sad to say that only Darrell and my mom can follow directions. And since my mom doesn't read the blog directing her to email, she must be psychic. I had a whopping 5 emails in my inbox after 3 days. Really and truly, you can do better. For now, I'll pretend that you were all busy over the holiday weekend and really were thinking about K and I and our travels. But if the trend continues, I make no guarantee that we'll keep sharing our tales.

We've moved into the palace, (aka anything but the Shang Teng hotel), and must say that it is acceptable. We have clean towels and hot water delivered daily, as well as a tv with more than 8 channels and a sink with connected pipes. (We knew the TV at the shithole had 8 channels because there were exactly 8 buttons on the TV). We got to watch a 2 day delayed Pacer game on Sunday, not that it matters much since we saw they lost last night.

We've been to the market a few times and have stocked up on powder scented tissues. Who knew that tissues came in scents? At least they are better than the mint ones we almost were stuck with. K decided that she didn't need the minty fresh nose to go along with the minty fresh legs.

Nothing much else exciting has happened. We sit in class for about 3 hours, but most of the "work" is in the 180 or so pages we're to read every night. Unfortunately we didn't have the foresight to know that the students not from our school only get pass/fail, while the rest of us suckers get actual grades. It's a little difficult to focus when 2/3 of the program wants to go out and we feel the need to read. But those of you who know me know that it's not hard to get me to avoid the reading. Remind me of this when I'm carrying a 5 credit D after the summer.

That's it for now. We have class every day this week, including Saturday, and some sightseeing trip Sunday. They like to keep us busy around here. And for the record, it will take quite a few drinks to get me to break the China pact. Things that happen in foreign countries are more sacred than average daily occurences. But that's not to say that I won't accept free drinks if you're still trying to get me to spill.