Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane

Be home tomorrow, leaving tomorrow, it is a China thing.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Just a quick note

Amay said my hair looked horrible yesterday after the color and styling. She was right. Woke up this morning and it really looks bad. Miss Donna bad. Miss Donna's favorite saying is "it is bad, really bad". Yep, really bad.

Remember the museum in the Lane house? The gentleman was Feng Zikai. They put up new plaque and it has his picture on it. Shaanxi Lu.

Going shopping on Shaanxi today.

Fish turned out great.

Learned a new word yesterday. Ting. Means stop. Taxi driver was enjoying my Chinglish directions and decided a new word of the day was in order.

So I must ting now and eat breakfast.

Get outta that safe box, eat fish

Well, I finally got out of the apartment again. Had to get the roots done. Hair thing.

Big Daddy for some reason kept talking about cooking dinner. I am like, dude you really don't seem like ya wanna cook here. He is like no really, I wanna cook. Okay, so he is cooking.

Elevator to downstairs. Another couple talking, she says she really wants a diet coke and does not know where to find one. HEllO, there is a McDonalds across the street. In ordinary conversation asked her how long she has been here. Two years. And she said no one talks to her either. Hmmm..do I want to try to make friends with someone who cannot find a McDonalds in two years?

Went shopping for chachi shit to take home and found some great alpaca silk yarn for Punkin head to take to his aunt. Nice stuff, said to use big needles. Went to see Amay and met my second Isreali dude. They really have a different take on things and he told me visiting Israel and Tel Aviv right now is no problem.

Went to the wet market with my letter from Amay about the fish with no head or tail or big bone.

Bought a present for Punkin Head in the wet market and then I wandered down to the fish dudes. Got some gorgeous prawns and the guy cleaned them. BD got the fish and this was a big deal. I guess we are the only people in Shanghai that do not want the head and the skin and the bones. This caused the fish lady some dismay. She was actually horrified and insisted we take home the skin. That was not optional and it was a condition of taking the fish home.

Bought my usual veggies and bought some turnips and cauliflower from a vendor I did not know and some guy came up and thumped my shoulder and gave me a thumbs up. Don't know if the guy had better shit or he was someone's relative.

So we are home cooking and we will see what tomorrow brings. Guess this is our Thanksgiving dinner.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Home alone with no turkey and dressing. Big Daddy had to travel and here I sit. Alone.

Last year I was alone but I had good food. And a job. And I worked the day after because I had nothing else to do and the yard was on hold. That was not really voluntary. At around 10 dollars a vehicle per day for thousands of vehicles this tends to add up. Could never figure out the amount of vehicles on hand versus the fact no one was buying this shit. Why did they keep making shit no one bought?

I do remember it was hilarious though, they gave me a do-all and none of the vins were in the yard. But vins not on the sheet failed. That was a cluster and the SQ manager was pulling his hair out. Then he wanted me and my guy to fix them. Nu-huh, you never proved it was my fault dude. My boss said we would help you out and find 'em. Not fix 'em. Then I thought he would cry. And it was like 17 degrees F in that yard that day with high wind conditions. As I recall this was not officially "finished" as an issue until I came back from China and had to negotiate the end. And no one ever found root cause. I call bullshit on that one. Someone knew and would not talk. Could have been them, could have been us. So final corrective action was vehicle no longer produced, use certified repair procedure from engineering that does not work. God I loved my job.

Big Daddy got me new shampoo from the hair salon at the Port-o-mon for "volume". At least my hair is not stuck to my head today.

Shemp came and used electrical tape on the shower thingy and even left BD the rest of the roll as this is not a good fix. We think he may be ordering a replacement but who knows. He could be ordering more electrical tape.

Ok, gotta get ready to leave. Just found out I am not "going" home. I am visiting home. Hmmm. If it works out like everything else those in Detroit will probably see me on the news. At least my hair will look Ok, and I got that new eye "sucking up the bags" gel. I could be the cutest one in jail.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

All moved in

Tuesday Nov. 23

All in all the moving experience was not horrible.

Movers were decent guys, brought their own moving shit.

Big Daddy had his own moving shit including the porter cart he conned out of the guy downstairs.

So far only thing broken is the Feng Shui water beads, hmmm.

Only forgot a few things, the Ikea desk I was using to keep my laptop case on. This was stupid as we picked up the case from the desk and walked out. And Big Daddy went back with them to check the room and he missed it too.

So when we figure this out BD goes down to get the desk. And then a little later there is an ayi at the door with his shoes. Huh? And we both checked that place 3 times.

I did remember the ice cube trays that took months to find.

We cleaned ourselves silly and God bless whoever invented microcloths. They are the best.

Sunrise (there was actually a sun this morning)was beautiful from this height.

Sitting here reading the Detroit Free Press and heard this weird noise. Now I know every place has its own noises and you just get used to it. But it was clear as a bell and I kept hearing it. It was whistling. Finally I look out in the hall and there is this guy pacing and whistling. WTF. If he is a neighbor will this become a charming morning ritual or am I going to have to bonk him with my wok?

Funnies of the day:

Move in and one of the dining chairs is shorter than the others. Since we don't have children with us I thought this was odd. Asked for matching chairs. So then this guy brings me another short chair. Already decided I like the shorter one better as the seat is taller only the back is shorter. Now I have to explain, go get me 2 more short chairs. So he comes back with 2 more tall chairs. And the seats have no stuffing. Just gave up. Even though my chin sits on the table. BD says it is easier to slurp your food that way.

Asked for phone in the living room. Ayi comes in for some unknown reason and takes the phone. So I request this be fixed ASAP. Of course, they send Shemp. The only phone jack that works demands I keep the phone on the dining room table. I am insistent that phone goes at the other end of room and give Shemp 2 options. He is insistent that the table location is fine. We argue, me in English and Shemp in Chinese. I see Shemp is enjoying this. I think his wife must argue with him all the time. And like with his wife, he lost. Only useful Chinese "word" I know is thumbs down.

When BD checks the new apartment for the move-in there are no towels. He asks for towels. There are no towels. Now, this is a large complex and hotel and they have no towels? WTF. Good thing we had the toilet paper stash, no TP either.

They did not change out the dining table; they painted over the bad spots, same with floor and woodwork.

Remember my famous breaking kitchen drawer? Now I have 2 and possibly 2 cabinet doors that will keep Shemp employed.

Last shower in the old apartment I noticed the shower head thing was breaking again. Said fuck it, let the new people fix it. New shower also needs a repair. Karma?

Hotel wanted to see my old passport to record the last entry stamp. And we all know where that went last time. Told BD he better hang on to that receipt for the fine we paid for Mrs. Overstay.

Going home in 7 days. But do not fear, ardent readers, I will keep blogging from the US. Grosse Pointe is always fun, going to Florida and may visit my mother if she ever talks to me again, and then New Orleans. All are great for interesting observations.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I am sick

And this is actually Saturday, November 20

I opted out of the Shenzhen trip as I felt horrible. Tuesday night walking back to the apartment I suddenly felt like a truck me. Honestly did not think I could make it back to the apartment. Went to bed early so I woke up early and felt ok. For about an hour. Still not great today but I think it peaked and will be ok tomorrow. And of course there was an article in the infamous China Daily about a case of the bird flu in Hong Kong. Hong Kong says she got it in a recent shopping trip to Shanghai. And as the typical hypochondriac that I am, now I have to worry about traveling home while hiding the bird flu. Oh, and I ran out of kleenex and am now using the famous Chinese toilet paper to blow my nose.

And we have to move on Monday now. And Big Daddy will not be home until late Sunday. And I have nothing to pack shit into and still feel bad enough not to care. And when the ayis came on Friday she looked in all my kitchen cupboards. WTF.

Now they are saying in the contract that I only get ayi 2 times a week. BD says we can get extra towels by calling someone, so I say, twice a week is fine. All they do is change the linens and half-ass clean the bathrooms and make the kitchen dirty. I still cannot figure out how the kitchen sink and counters are dirtier when they finish cleaning than when they started. Boggles the mind.

On the bright side I won't have to sleep in the hall anymore as the beds in the new apartment face the correct direction for my Feng Shui needs.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Yak Meat and other fun stuff

Well we returned from our business trip to Shenzhen in fine form. And we both got to do our Chinese hobbies. Mine is buying fake shit and then looking it up on the Internet to find out it is phony fake shit. Big Daddie's hobby is not letting Chinese people push past him on airplanes. And we found success in our pursuits.

We went to LoWu market Friday night and shopped til we dropped. No pearls worth buying. Found some shoes at one store that were so bad it was funny. I actually saw one girl walking on crooked heels carrying her worn out Chanel bag. And all the back pockets on the jeans are too low, looks like the pockets are on their legs instead of their butts. Anyway, found some shoes that are not phony. Hmmm. They do have a Chinese name inside but they can't be found on the Internet. Not bad so I got them and while we were waiting Big Daddy told me his good watch was not working. So we looked at Fake watches. Remember, best prices are on bulk purchases. Well, we got the Fake watches, not phony shoes and no name readers. Decent price and I had her laughing so hard she could not do the phony tears.

When we got back to the hotel and I looked up the watches, they are not even close to the real ones or the Fake ones. This just proves BDs theory that everything is phony here. I think it proves my theory that the factories have a bunch of shit they can't use and so their second cousin in the very back room making shit out of whatever pieces seem to fit together. Did not buy the IWC watches as all the faces were crooked.

So far watches are running and show the correct time and the shoes are good enough to walk to the rabbit warren. No further.

On the trip back BD was ready for the plane pushers (people that like to push in front of you when there is no room) because they put their luggage in the overhead in the front of bin farthest away from their seat, which was behind us. Now BD is a large sized guy so getting past him is no easy task for the faint-hearted. First BD gets in the aisle and takes his stance. This is like when the nose guard lines up in front of the quarterback. Then he gets our luggage from the other side. I am the wide reciever. Opposing team's wide reciever tries to put her luggage in BD's seat. Flag on the play. That is where my shit goes--not her shit. She is pissed and pushes BD who inadvertently steps on her toe. She glares at me. The icing on the cookie comes when BD reaches over and pats my cheek. You could actually see steam coming from her head.

So we haul our fake, phony shit home and remember we have no coffee. Off to visit Amay and try out the shoes. Amay is happy to see us as she just returned from her trip to review the solar cookers in BFE. She tells us 9 hours by train to the mountains and she brought us presents. BD recieved hand rolled cigars from the mountains and I got Yak meat. I think this came from the gorgeous Yak herder that saved me back in December. I am saving it for a special occasion. BD says the cigars are great.


My mother might still be alive, I have not heard from her since October. Punkin Head says he is getting "forwarded emails". She missed my birthday.

Had the all-time 3rd worst taxi driver in history in Shenzhen. I swear this guy was either certified for lunacy or on a death wish. He bottomed out the taxi twice. Then he wanted a tip. BD told him he was an asshole. Gotta learn that word in Chinese. Maybe I can get Amay to write it on a coaster.

We were able to enjoy the energy/electical/generator debacle in person. At a certain time in the morning all the juice is shut off. Then it is slowly converted to whatever power they use and power comes back on. Would not like to be in the elevator when this happens, yes it just shuts down and there you are. Stuck. Either 7 or 7:15, could not figure out the exact time it shuts down and how long it is off as things come back at different stages. TV and Internet were the last. They sent someone to our room to explain. In Chinglese.

Only a couple weeks until I go home and I am getting excited. Drinking tap water, getting a real hairdo, buying clothes and a pedicure-what dreams are made of.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

These are the rules

Shortly after I finished posting yesterday I received a phone call. Be ready in 30 minutes I am coming to get you. We had to go to the Immigration Police over my little snafu. Immediately. The company even sent a company driver to take us. And I have to say that was the cleanest car I have seen in China.

We met the guy again, he must be some sort of expeditor used by the company, and he took us to a new place. The Overstay office. We sat outside the office and he brought us a card to read. The penalty for my "overstay" could be 500 RMB per day and 3 to 10 days in jail. It did not use the word jail, but that was what they meant. Needless to say I was not the happy camper. I mean come on, I went willingly and gave them the passports in all innocence and came back right away when they figured it out. Whatever it was they figured out as everyone kept telling me everything was OK.

Then we had to sit for an hour. Waiting to see if I would go to jail. Because the expeditor dude does not exactly speak English real well. "OK, OK" was just not cutting it right then. Then everybody comes back and gives me my passports with the new Chinese Visa good til 2012 and tells me everything is OK. Then an hour later the company calls and tells Big Daddy big mistake, you have to pay a fine. No jail, but 1800 RMB, 200 a day for nine days. This made no sense. The number of days or the money. So Big Daddy did what any decent Norte Americano would do, he told them I wasn't worth that much money. The Chinese do not have a sense of humor.

So I did what any normal person would do. I had my Feng Shui checked. I have to sleep in the hall outside our apartment from here on and use black chopsticks. I think I will be like Carried Bradshaw and look for a big shiny black diamond instead.

By the way, the date thing on this blog is not working and if it continues I will start dating the posts and maybe whoever invented this thing.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Uh Oh, or This is just not right.

Well, we have a little snafu here. I told Big Daddy when he decided we should go for the new passport and Chinese Visa here in China we would be cutting it close. Between the October holiday and his travel, plus arranging all the appointments, this project has not been easy. And now I am in trouble. I did not walk to Hong Kong on time. And I mentioned this to BD on a few occasions. He kept telling me it was OK. NOT. Now I am illegal. And there may be a possible fine attached to this little fiasco.

Well I know I will be flying this week, just don't know where I will be headed.

Well mine is not the only snafu according to the China Daily. It seems that China set up some goals for conservation of energy. To meet those goals they have an unusual plan. They shut off the electricity in the areas that have used too much energy. And the people that like having electric power developed their own plan. Diesel generators. It is kinda like living in places in the US that tends to lose electricity once in a while. You know, keep the fridge and a couple lights running. Maybe the tv if you are a fanatic or the big game is on. But the difference between China and the US on this issue:

1, we do this for temporary and extreme situations in most cases.

2, we have a decent supply of diesel fuel. And I believe kerosene.

So, now China has vast areas without diesel fuel for the vehicles and tons of diesel fumes from generators in the atmosphere, but they are not using too much electricity. Which makes perfect sense if you came from the automotive industry. Kind of reminds me of home and going to crazy meetings. Crazy meetings are the meetings where you look around to see how many of the people are actually crazy. It is usually the majority.

This situation and solution also tells me that China is becoming an innovative society.

Another innovation and a vindication of my personal feelings, phony work visas for Filipina maids. It is my understanding the mainland Chinese citizens cannot employ foreigners as household help. But once again the China Daily has come through with the earth shattering news that Chinese ayis are not up to par. Rich people prefer the Filipina maid's work ethic and attitude. And I bet they are not on their cell phones all day long.

Well, I better pack as I am going somewhere. And I should get dressed. If I was flying to New Orleans no one would think twice if I arrived in my nightgown with a hat, but in Detroit or Shenzhen I might get some curious stares. Detroiters don't wear nighties with their hats and the Chinese do not wear hats with their nighties.

Weird Weekend

Punkin Head made me laugh Sunday. I think that is bad when you are surprised you laughed and can't remember the last time it happened. I think Big Daddy and I have been here too long. I know I have. If we have to continue living in China we are both going to have to get out of Dodge more often. From the conversations he has had with other ex-pats it does not sound like the wives do real well here. Divorces and living on different continents is more the norm. I think only the rich ones with cars and drivers and "the company network" have better retention rates with the wives, probably because they have more pressure to stay.

Also cleaning after the ayi's is really getting on my nerves. So is their habit of having loud phone conversations while they are pretend cleaning. And living without my stuff is really pissing me off. Especially since I am freezing. BD admits men are ok with a microwave and little else. I find myself lusting for my own dishwasher and a normal washer and dryer.

Clothing update is not good. Marks&Spencer robe and nightgown shrunk at the first washing. And I hung it to dry. And I got my not very warm suede jacket back from the cleaners. Since the jacket was a deal of the day Dennis Basso purchase from QVC, the cleaning and repair was as much as I paid for the coat. And it should not have needed repair for as little as I wore it. By the way--made in China. And the color faded.

Food update is better. The veggies from the wet market worked out well and Sunday afternoon I made stew type food. I would not eat it, buy BD said it was good. It was better than just throwing away food and we got gaunji. The tv remote control broke, could not turn up the volume to hear Anderson. Shemp comes up and after fucking with it for awhile mimes to us he is taking it. So when he came back and had the tv squared away we gave him an aluminium pan full of stew. He was happy. Then BD took another container down to the front desk guy. He actually said gaunji and was very happy. He pulled a double and told BD this morning, in pantomine of course, that the stew was great. The reason I would not eat it by the way is I put onions and tomato in the pot and cannot stand cooked onions and tomato. But they had to be used and BD likes them. Yuck.

Going to Shenzhen Wednesday if the passport comes back and I won't have to walk to Hong Kong anymore if things work out properly. Have to start planning the trip home. And maybe when I get there Punkin Head will make me a cheese soofle. That was the joke, you had to be there.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Making groceries

Yesterday was the day to go get the new visa, they are letting me in. I think. I do not trust the medical exam for various reasons, the first of which they said I have great eyesight. Since I could not see anything and told the creepy guy "I don't know" numerous times I find this suspect. Anyway the visit to the immigration police went very quickly, we were actually done before the scheduled appointment time. Taxi ride was quick, Chinese guy was waiting and had gaunji, no problem. When he brings back my passports next week I have to go to the play station. Think he means police, we'll see.

Since we had all this spare time I asked Big Daddy if instead of going out to dinner and the shopping mall would he prefer to cook the chicken he keeps talking about. He was so excited I thought he would pee his pants. This of course meant we had to make groceries at the wet market.

Step 1, go to bar. Order Campari and soda and tell Amay I need her to write a letter. So on the back of a coaster she writes in Chinese--fat lady chicken with no head, feet, or stomach. On another coaster she writes I do not speak Chinese. Now I am good to go.

Step 2, go to wet market and show coaster to chicken dude. He reads it and gives me a thumbs up. Big Daddy thinks he was gonna to try a pass a rooster off on us but changed his mind and went for the hens. Big Daddy grew up on a farm and knows all things chicken. Next thing I know he is putting me eyeball to eyeball with this chicken. We say okay, he flops her on the scale and pantomines 50. Then he goes in the back room with the chicken.

Step 3, go to favorite veggie lady and stock up on produce. This was just under 50 RMB for lots of food from taters and poblamo peppers to ginger root and maters. Also onions, garlic, turnips and greens.

Step 4, go back to chicken guy to find Gertie (that is what I named the chicken) in a bag on top of the rooster rack. I think the message to the roosters was "this could be you". The roosters were poking at her, but Big Daddy explained the unsharpening of bird beaks. So for less than 15 dollars US I had fresh as can be chicken and veggies for the week.

Step 5, inform Big Daddy that I expect serious chicken cleaning and inspection from him when we get home. BD informs me that the feet were in the bag for good luck.

Step 6, eat. nice salad, broccoli, fried taters with peppers and chicken. Chicken was still a little tougher than I am used to. I think this is how chicken tastes and chews when it is free range without hormones. Or maybe just the chickens here are as skinny as the women. Still not bad. Not as big a chicken as I get at Farms Market-and that was Amish chicken from reputable farmer-but not bad. Chickens look bigger with feathers and a head.

Pictures will be on FB as I still can't post photos on this blog.

Oh, and the Germans are leaving so maybe I can use the gym again.

Monday, November 1, 2010

If I Were a Rich Man

For one thing I would not need a bra. Ha Ha. OK, really I am a little pissed off. The voting thing did not work and so in a very important election Big Daddy and I have to sit it out. Not happy here. It is not like I can fly home and vote and fly back. Besides I have to go for my China Visa renewal tomorrow. And if I could find the way to attach it I would give you a link to Paul Stowe's very excellent blog in which he describes the medical process for all us filthy aliens with the horrid diseases. And by the way Paul, cannot leave a comment on your blog. And I had one or two, especially regarding the lovely robes and shoe covers.

Where is my design engineer when I need him, another Paul by the way. And can someone help me post pictures or change this blog to a more user friendly version.

Anyway, spent Sunday on the streets and learned "Wah Hi Lu" is not that far by taxi and could walk almost all the way home. The more you buy however the heavier your cheap bags become. Can't wait to get some decent Trader's Joes bag at home and maybe even Farms Market bags. Now those are some decent bags for 2 bucks and Punkin Head is saving me some insulated bags for our phony dairy products.

At Shaanxi and near Changle I found a museum. A kinda museum. This guy was a famous painter, satire in particular, and he was also quite accomplished in literature, transalation and music. He lived in a tiny lane house and did all his work in this house while the government waited outside to make sure he did not leave or have contact with the public. Always guarded and when the Cultural Revoltion came they destroyed most of his material. I believe in the 30's or 40's he went to Japan for education and exchange and some of his work remains there. He died in 1974, apparently in that lane house. No, I do not know his name as there was no handouts or anything in English in this museum. And when you go in you are pretty sure you are in a junkyard type hovel. And when you get past the junk and go down the hall there are a bunch of guys tearing out the lowest level (like a basement) and they have a bird in a cage down there. Then you go upstairs because at this point it is - why the fuck not go on up. And there are a bunch of Chinese people looking at Chinese stuff and the one person who kind of speaks English tells you this story. I have to give them credit for trying to do something but this was just too weird. And the stairs are just unsafe. OSHA would have a full time job here. And just so you know, when I saw the plaque on Shaanxi and pointed at it- an official type person in a uniform took me to the hovel and pointed me to go in, otherwise you would never know or find it if you were not Chinese. This is just past the park with the sign telling you in English you are not allowed to urinate or shit in the park. I am not making this up and would post the picture of the sign if I could figure out how to do that. It used to be easy to post pictures, maybe I did something to screw it up.

So tomorrow we are off to the Visa people, and maybe looking at another apartment-although we did get a new lock today-and maybe we can go for a walk. And worry about the elections. I do not want to preach on the elections right now, but I will say this-if everyone that thinks China is so bad had never bought the cheap shit at Walmart and his cousins and would pay for quality items, we might have a different story. But China still would have competed and might still have won a huge market share. The difference may well be that the culture of living in a lane house and doing what you believe in is stronger than the culture of believing that you should be able to raise a family on a wage from Burger King.