Thursday, September 30, 2010

I now have the cleanest dirty apartment in Shanghai

When the ayi's come we have to clean after they leave. Do not need to go into the particulars here, maybe we are clean freaks or maybe they just don't get the concept. We clean the kitchen and sink and then the ayi cleans the kitchen and there is all kinds of unknown bits and pieces that were not there before. And stuff on the tile walls that is a different color than any products we use. So we just don't clean before the ayi's and it works out just fine. The ayi's come Mon, Wed, and Fri. I usually do a good clean after they leave on Wednesday and then just need a redo on Friday.

Well, here I sit on a Thursday morning watching DWTS and the doorbell rings. There is my ayi smiling at me. Since we don't speak the same language there was the usual jabba jabba jabba and then she went down the hall. Then they had the Chinese meeting and then she came back. With a piece of paper. They changed my Friday cleaning to today, so now I have to reclean the shit I cleaned yesterday after they left. And these people claim they have a plan.

Passport is in, I wonder if I can pick it up tomorrow or have to wait until Monday. Physical is the 14th that should be a treat.

Just talked to my Punkin Head and that makes me happy. If I get to go shopping over the holiday he wants me to look for golden cats with waving hands? Okey Dokey.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I thought I was losing my mind

Ever since I had the implant surgery and tooth pulled I have not had the same sense of smell. Not a big deal as most everything here stinks. Did miss the smell of the Lilies (sic) that I decorate the apartment with, but still not a bad trade-off.

For the last month I have been smelling the wierdest stuff. Food smells. I think it is our neighbors as they moved in about a month ago. Last week it was green onions. So anyway, last night here I am by myself again and I start smelling something that seems to be burning. I am sniffing around as it was quite strong and I always remember The Towering Inferno and there is no Steve McQueen here at the Casa Shanghai.

Finally for some reason I am on the balcony sniffing and I hear this ruckus. Looking down and to the side I see all these people. Setting the street on fire. Now I am not talking about those little fires they always start to scare the spirits off I am talking the ENTIRE street is on fire. Which explained the smell but not the reason my neighbors from the hovels found it necessary to start the street on fire. That must be some big bad mojo they got over there at the hovels. I am starting to get real worried about this holiday we got coming.

Took a picture but it did not come out due to the angle and I did not want to fall off the balcony with Big Daddy out of town.

The anniversary trip

Well, this is another one of those the good, the bad, and the ugly-followed up by the bizarre. As I used to say to my boss, I can't make up this shit, I am not that good.

Mr. Green is no longer at the Best Western so I had to argue, politely, that I really could not eat lunch on the couch. This whole discussion took 10 minutes and finally they let me sit at the bar. This was after I told them 5 times I did not want a drink of water. Big Daddy was checking in and when he returned we ordered the burgers and fries and answered all the questions (another 10 minutes)and then they brought the food without the mustard. This of course created quite a stir and when they were finally convinced that butter was not mustard they all went off to a meeting. They finally brought over a manager who said, you want mustard, turned to them and said, jabba jabba jabba, and they all left again. Then 10 minutes later we got the mustard. For the cold hamburger. Ya just keep your expectations here really, really low and do not expect to eat on a regular basis with regular food. So we went to the buffet for dinner as it could not get worse. There was this cookie that looked great. I swear to God, this cookie was tasteless. I told Big Daddy and he said, no way. So he took a bite. That cookie had no taste of anything at all, no, nuhuh, no taste. Pretty though. I am getting ahead of myself here, but in the morning in the executive lounge I took this roll that looked like it might be coconut with toasted coconut on top. At first there was no taste. I thought, WTF, another no taste food item. The more I chewed the worse it got. I do not know WTF that was but I thought I was going to have run from the room. Big Daddy thinks it might have been dried fish. He declined to taste it.

On the plus side had our anniversary dinner at the Shangri-La and it was lovely.

Walked to Hong Kong in the morning with few incidents, got on the right trains and all this time. However on the re-entry I turn around after securing my passport to see Big Daddy in this special place with this guy looking very seriously at his passport. He was using a jewelers loupe. Not a scanner, not a chip reader, a jewelers loupe. Okey Dokey.

Bought some pearls, pictures on facebook. Got a wash and a blow dry, no pictures it was horrible.

Then I decided to wash my hands on the morning we were leaving. This is before my shower, just wanted to wash my hands. Big Mistake. Floor was wet, they are always wet, cheap hotel slippers, they are always cheap and boom I was down on the floor. I was really lucky I was not seriously hurt. But I was hurt enough to not be able to talk. It knocked the wind out of me and I could not get up. Huge scrape on my chest from the granite sink and very painful. Could not get an ice pack or any help from the hotel. It makes me wonder if something serious does ever happen, what do you do? These assholes do not have a clue. Big Daddy told the check out guy on the exec floor as we were leaving about how no one would respond or help us and the clerk said, Thank you very much.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Detroit Melting Down Again

I am aghast at the news reports coming out of Detroit on the UAW workers caught on tape during their lunch hour behaving badly. These are not stupid guys. And every damn one of them knew better. I am so damn disappointed in every damn one of them for this stupid, stupid behavior.

These guys knew exactly what they were doing. And they also knew, every one of them, that there is a group in that plant that is pushing for the new 2 level platform and pay scale. The new lower level payscale people have been turning people in for work rules violations for a while now. And a large amount of the new people on the lower wage scale and in a different local are related to the union representatives at that plant, common gossip says. I would never know this for sure, only the common gossip.

So, you have a huge disruption in the company with multiple owners and then bankruptcy, unknown UAW changes as the upper echelon and International does not commincate with the local, Chrysler management scrambling to keep their jobs and taking that out on the hourly, treating suppliers like shit (which shut down the plant how many times), and having the Italians take pictures of your lunch bucket on a table-and when maybe things might be getting better-y'all decide the local party store and park is the way to keep your jobs.

The thing is everyone is under the gun now. And yes, I am sorry to have to tell you this, everyone represents their employer. At work or not, what you do is who you are.

You guys know who you are and I know who you are. And every damn one of you sorry assholes need to get up and apologoze to your co-workers and apologize to the American people who loaned you the money (not for the first time) to stay in business.

And for the asshole too lazy to get out of the minivan and pick up the bottle after he missed the trash can, were you trying to keep your union brothers and sisters in the Parks and Rec crew employed. Slob.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A touch of Homesickness

As the bus left the terminal today at Hongqiao Airport I felt a lump in my throat. There they were, a sight unseen for many months, rat traps at the perimeters of the terminal. Spaced just far enough apart so there is no waiting at any one rat trap. My goodness I have not seen publicly displayed rat traps since the Plant Loco days. I can remember them like I saw them yesterday with the little tufts of seat foam and covers sticking out the openings just so, with a few chicken bones in front kinda like rat lawn decorations.

Now, don't get me wrong, we got rats in the US too, we just kinda hide the traps from the public. Nothing like announcing, You Bet Your Ass We Got Rats. Big Uns, too. Never forget the one in the yard at Plant Loco named Grandaddy, he was an old tough one. He scared many a greenhorn supplier sent to the yard at dusk.

China Southern seems to be keeping with no bread and drink trolleys while on the ground since the reports of the 2 planes with cargo fires. And the Air Traffic Announcement was only a 30 minute delay this morning. Actually got into Shenzhen on time. Unbelievable. Wonder if the airlines on the ATC's ass since they can't keep the pax quiet with a box of bread.

Another thing, China Southern seems to have no PM on these planes as seats and armrests are always broken. And this is not a safety issue with them. Amazing. The seat in front of Big Daddy would not go back into upright position and it was like oh well, have some more bread. The FA knew this at take-off and only worried about it when Big Daddy could not get his tray down to eat his bread. And they are the better airline here in China, they are better than those dogs at China Eastern. And you get more bread.

I am getting better at posting pictures on FB since I cannot get it right on this blog, so my goal is to get a complete album of walking to Hong Kong as that is the plan for morning. It is not so hot but still rainy so that might be a fun walk. And my curling iron is broken so hair should look divine.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Question Answered

When we were at the Portman Center this week I bought a paperback titled-101 Stories for Foreigners to Understand Chinese People by Yi S. Ellis with Brian D. Ellis. Excellent easy read for simple problems and questions that pop up here. My biggest question so far was answered in this book. Why in the hell do these Chinese women wear nylons and ugly nylon ankle socks in the hottest months of the year. And they wear them with sandles. So they do not get backaches and headaches. You see, when you sweat the sweat glands in your feet open up-to sweat. So the cold air (this is the mysterious hiding cold air) sneaks into the pores of your feet and travels up the body intact-never sweated out-and voila, you now have a backache. Soon to be followed by a headache. So these ugly, cheap, crappy nylon piece of shit socks are actually medical devices. Who knew.

Went to the US Consulate for my passport request today. There were lots and lots of Chinese people trying to get to the window. Some guy came and grabbed us and took us to the window and said put your passport in. You ever try to reach pass the huddles masses of Chinese people that have made it all the way to the window? So one down and many to go, they will email when the passport is ready. There was one young dude and the passport guy was telling him, this is the second time you lost your passport. Once more and no go dude. You will have to wait until it is up for renewal. I bet this guy can't breathe again without someone making note of it. A US customs guy told Big Daddy what they are worth on the black market and I bet this guy will get the TSA random extra search for the rest of his life.

I do not want to talk about the taxi driver picking his nose, or the girl with plastic butterflys on her toenails or the fact that anyone has toenails long enough to put plastic shit on them. I thought the black girls at Plant Loco had long toenails and they cannot hold a candle to some of these Chinese women. Another Kodak moment and no camera.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ok, It is getting better, or why we need to keep a stiff upper lip

This has been an informative weekend. We should start with Sunday and work back.

Just got home from Taikang Lu and what a hoot. Had a drink at Amay's and gave her some books we had read and some moon cakes. She has a lendiing/buying library in the rabbit warren and supports the Red Cross here. The Red Cross here is state run. She is trying hard to learn English-she is fluent by Chinese standards-and different philosophy. She would not take our money for the coffee beans we bought or the drinks. We still left a tip, yes some of us westerners insist on tipping for great service.

Then we stopped at the wet market and I remembered it all. I have avoided going there recently for the heat and the craziness, but I went back. Yes, the snakes do escape from the plastic bins. The ladies grab them and put them back. I do not want further information on this issue. We got some great herbs and vegetables and some Martha Stewart eggs. They are blue and green, very light colors. Come on, you gotta buy these once. Could not buy the little eggs, I think they are quail. Then some guy came chasing me down waving a bag of what looked like chunks of red type meat. I almost bought a live chicken or goose just to see Big Daddy's face when I walked up to him.

Then we sauntered down Raijin Lu and I swear I bought roasted chesnuts. Where in the world can you buy roasted chestnuts in September. If that is indeed what they are. They do not taste bad. Then when Big Daddy left me alone for a moment in front of the cookie store and I was looking at this big thing that reminded of a farm implement for something very strange. I never lived on a farm so I cannot describe it other than to say it is strange. I had seen it before and I was flummoxed as to the use of this article. People started buying things from it and everyone seemed quite excited. The sign said 2.50 so I ponied up in the line and gave over 10 RMB, the owner person said 4 and I said OK. They were hot and greasy, the longer we walked toward home the greasier the bag got. They were like a fried bisquit stuffed with a meat type substance. Not good, but for China they at least had some flavor. We took the rest down to the security guards and you would have thought we gave them manna from heaven.

Saturday we went to the Portman Center to get my passport photos taken. It does not matter where in the world you get these photos taken you will always look like shit. Then we decided to find the embassy so it would not be a trial for us on Monday. We learned that Chinese people will speak to you in Chinese for a long time even though they know you do not speak or understand Chinese and they do not speak your language either. Then we decided to walk to our favorite restaurant on Maoming Lu, big mistake. From Nanjing Lu to some place I cannot spell, but about 10 blocks away, you cannot get a taxi on Maoming Lu and if you did you would kill yourself because the cars never move anyway.

Weather is better, hair sucks since the bad haircut, leasing people came today to review Big Daddy's complaints of the wall paper and such for the new lease. I laughed my ass off as I know these people think this shit is all great. When Big Daddy showed them the scars on the floor Shemp stomped on it 3 times, as if to show it is solid. They so not understand what is pretty and desirable and what is OK- this will last for a week or so. God, I read that and thought I am speaking Chinglish.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I have a stepstool

It is orange and white. It is easy to open and shut. It fits in the space by the fridge. I can reach the dishes. It is too dangerous to try the microwave but still this is a huge improvement. In order to make space we had to get rid of the shopping cart. We put it in the stairwell as this is the getting rid of stuff procedure. I know this is hard to believe but the cart was too short for even me to push. I think when Big Daddy bought it he must have gotten it in the children's department.

Pretty much when you get something new you have to get rid of something old. There is not much storage here for all the actual space. And throwing stuff out here is really hard. The ayi's always bring it back to you and jabba jabba if they find it. Big Daddy threw away some useless cords and such from his collection and when he got home I had a nice pile on the table for him. I tossed a bottle of creme rinse I was never going to use and the ayi brought it right back. We made a mistake once and over ordered from Meal Bay so Big Daddy took the extra food down to the security guards on his way to the dry cleaners. When he got back they were all still guarding the food for him. Thank goodness a Chinese lady came in told them the food was for them or they might still be guarding it. I am guessing small acts of kindness are not usual in China.

New news-tomorrow we have an appointment to go to the embassy and try to get my passport renewed. Then I have to apply for a new visa. But they take your passport for the new visa and I have to walk to Hong Kong early this month as Big Daddy's boss is coming to visit. And I can't travel without my passport. This is getting really confusing. And then something about a different visa with a 2 day physical. And oops, I lost my registration papers from the hotel.

Also new, Big Daddy found a bookstore with English books. It is on Shaanxi not far from the hairdresser. They had the new Anthony Bourdain book, so new I did not even know it existed. And he found a new place to cut his hair and they did a great job. And he found a huge beautiful orchid for less than I would pay at Trader Joe's. And I may have found a friend I can buy. And it is not raining so far today nor is it steaming hot. I hope this is not the good weather day as Big Daddy is out of town and won't be home until late.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Great Expectations

I think this is my problem. Reality will never meet expectations in China.

I used to love to get pedicures. I no longer get them. It is too much of a disappointment and a hassle. Not relaxing and pleasant when no one can communicate and the results leave something to be desired.

Went to the hairdresser yesterday and I almost came home in tears. First, I thought I was back in the US at an airport, there were so many people standing around doing nothing I thought it was a TSA training center. Loud, as everyone was talking, in a Chinese sort of loud. If they talk to you-they talk so softly you have no idea what language the are using. If the talk to each other there is a contest on who has the best hog--calling skills. Second, every Chinese person who touched me or my hair seemed convinced that I was there for some sort of punishment. Hair pulling, head jabbing, shooting the water in my eye and then pushing a towel in my eyeball, twisting my neck-and this is the premier place for western hair. And I left with damp hair. All for the whopping price of 1300 RMB. WTF. And a hefty tip to the French hairdresser. And I never did get that glass of water (although that might have been fate working on my side).

Big Daddy asked me what I wanted for breakfast this morning and I almost fell on the floor laughing. You cannot get normal sausage or bacon here, the potato selection is nil, the fruit is not to my liking (nor is the guy with long yellow fingernails picking through it while he is sitting on the sidewalk), no oven and the toaster sucks. How many scrambled eggs with mystery cheese can a person eat?

There has got to be some secret society here where all the western people have taken an oath never to reveal the secrets. Or, they are all in denial that this is just not right.

So Big Daddy is off to Tescos, I am depressed I could not get a toe-hold in the Sunday NYT crossword, and it is raining. Chinese lady at the hair salon told me Shanghai only has one nice day of weather a year, either a translation problem or the first honest person I met in China.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mission Impossible

For some reason Big Daddy is now on a mission to fulfill two important requests I have repeatedly made. For weeks and weeks I have pointed out that I am too short to reach the dishes and the microwave. And he leaves me alone sometimes. I can only eat food not requiring a plate or heat, unless I want to eat out of the pan. But as there are no small pans for reheating I always burn the food anyway on the gas burner. Reminder, I do not cook so have little luck with performing this task. Sometimes I really miss Farm's Market.

As you may recall during the Internet problems the IT Shemps had to go get someone elses chair to stand on when the were working on the box. I would not let them stand on "my" chairs. Well right after that the search for the stepstool began. Stepstools are very hard to find in China. As everyone here is fairly short it is amazing that borrowing chairs is the only recourse when they can't reach something. I am taller than most of them myself.

Carrefours seems to have stepstools. But you cannot order them. You have to go to the store. But they don't tell you which one actually will have the stepstool. GRRR. I am also trying to decide if it is worth it to try and taxi to Oumond Lu to check out the convection ovens. That is a trip to hell and back when it is hot and raining. Which the weather is predicted to be for the next 10 days. Or we can just settle for one from Best Buy.

After my last hissy fit of having no decent cutlery Big Daddy went to the Portman Center for food, a haircut, and steak knives. No barbershop, and the knives were hidden away due to the Expo "law" about the selling of knives. He had to be inspected first and then they sent someone to the warehouse for the knives. They are better than nothing. They cut the pork chops which were great. Pork Chops inspired by Blackened Out recipe with sides of squash salad and French lentils. Good dinner. However, now I need utensil rests for beside the plates as the shape of the knives causes them to fall into the plate and get sauce all over the handles. And napkins are another expensive quest.

I should get off of here as Big Daddy wants to plan our next Walking To Hong Kong experience. If we get the oven we can't afford to spend the night Kowloon for our anniversary. Maybe dinner at the Shangri La, hmm, have to see. Still have to plan either going home in October or December depending on the passport/visa issues.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I know, this is not appropriate

What is up with Hillary's hair. Did Obama outlaw hair products or did she lose her hairpins? What?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Shanghai UFO sighting

I saw the famous Chinese UFO I have been hearing about for months. I had just gotten off the phone with Big Daddy telling me his latest flight status. He decided to take the last flight of the day as the last flight of the day always goes. So, as you are going to be delayed all day-take the last flight. You get there the same time and only have to sit around for a few hours instead of all day.

Anyway, I went out on the balcony and lo and behold there was something in the sky. That is unusual. It is rare here to see the sky much less things in it. Once in a while the moon or some clouds but generally no airplanes or stars or anything. There it was, this low pulsating bright white thing, that was not traveling to my eye. It was about 4mils by 6mils to the eye and rotating. Tried to take a picture, I haven't checked to see if it came out yet. It was still there when I went to bed a few hours later. Hmmm.

I do wonder at the coincidence that when the UFO was over the south they shut down the airport and here in Shanghai there were no flights going out. They did not make any announcement but come on, when they don't load the bread trolley until an hour after you were supposed to take off-they knew. I wonder if any flights took off from Pudong-Big Daddy was at the other airport I can't spell and I still do not have a guide to look up the spelling.

Oh, and last time the government said there would be a statement in a week and guess what? No statement. But an article was in the China Daily, my source for all Chinese entertainment.

Wonder if it is their new satellite that may need a booster pack.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I took it out on my mother

I finally broke again this weekend, and yes, I took it out on my mother. That is not fair for so many reasons and it is fair for so many reasons.

My mother is not responsible for my current situation. She did not personally cause all the problems that sent the US into a shithole, although she does vote the Democrat ticket quite often. She actually at one point thought 2 penny Jenny was OK.

I am a mother too. I will whup Punkin Head on the butt if I think he needs it. I have told him he is my little boy forever, no matter how old he gets. I will also thrash the shit out of anyone who hurts Punkin Head and his. That includes The Lady. Don't screw with either of them or you answer to me and I can get very cranky.

But sometimes you just need a mommy. And I don't have one. I would rather bitch about a bad mommy than just be ignored. Sometimes a bad mommy can be fun. I am sure I have read about this somewhere.

So, today I am sitting here waiting to find out if Big Daddy can buy me a friend. I think this could be possible. There has to be some broke, bored, Chinese woman who would like to practice English and teach me a few words of Chinese and get a free lunch out of it.

Cannot go to school, no money and visa for that. Cannot find a tutor, too expensive and have to go in the dreaded taxi alone. Only meet drunks or assholes at the bar and Big Daddy can confirm that as I never go there alone. Cannot shop as they will not wait on white women unless you are in the very expensive stores. Think Gucci.

Cannot even go eat worms as there is no grass here and worms are an expensive delicacy. WTF.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The good, the bad, the really ugly

Went out for dinner Thursday and had a fabulous dinner at Casa 13 in TiaKang Lu. That place has never served me bad meal no matter what the name.

Good: roast chicken with lemon caper sauce.
Bad: got myself locked into the new restroom.
Ugly: first time ever I went to the "ladies" without my purse so I could not call Big Daddy to come get me out. After repeated attempts to unlock the door I started pounding with my fist. That hurts. I cannot imagine the adrenelin that it must take to pound on something for rescue for hours or days. I wasn't real upset as I was sure eventually someone would come. I was in there quite a while tho. There is a tiny trick button on the metal bar that you have to push. Hmmm. Could have used my glasses, which were in my purse.

On the way home we stopped at the furniture store. There was a load at the curb, so they were getting new stuff. Just standing around and they got to me with the "Lookie Lookie". There was table that I had spied back when I got the deal on Big Daddy's hat rack. At that time whatever the price was, it was in thousands starting with a 10. I saw the table and randomonly asked for the price. Shit it was low 2000's. Offered and dickered and looked really sad and I got it for 1550. Around 230 US or so. And yes once again they hand carried and walked with us back to the apartment. This time it took 2 guys tho. Beautiful marble top and small shelf on the bottom. The trick is to always ask for something you want but cannot buy, go to a second item and then go in for the kill. Then check back later for the original. It will usually come down in price quite alot over time. Or the store will go out of business for no sales. And you gotta smile and then look really sad.

After careful shopping evaluation some of the stuff we bought at Lowu Market was a bust. The iPhone does not work. The Sony Vaio thumb drives are sketchy and one is a bust. 1 of the 3 pairs of sunglasses is not perfect but no worse than cheap shit in the states. Watches seem ok so far. At least no worse than the shit on HSN with the screaming lady.

Met this rich lady ex-pat who was extolling the great life she had in China as she is now going home. This bitch had an aya for her other ayas. WTF. And she only frequented the 5 star hotels. No wonder she thought it was fab, she probably never saw the under-belly of this shithole. She thought I was wearing a batik blouse from Thailand and when I told her I bought it 2 streets over she changed the subject quick. She was impressing her friend, new to Shanghai, with her worldly observations. And she had never gotten lost in a taxi. Bullshit.

Might go to Yu Gardens today or tomorrow and look for bibelots.