Saturday, October 27, 2007

Awesome jokes

These jokes were told to me by my friend Nate, who also lives in Yantai. They're awesome and I thought I'd share them with you. If you don't find them funny, it means you haven't lived in China and experienced the craziness that is this wonderful country long enough. Its stupid stuff like these crazy jokes that keep us expats in China sane.

"What's white and stands in the middle of a field?"
"A refrigerator"

"What's white and brown and stands in the middle of a field?"
"A refrigerator wearing a leather jacket."

"Why the the airplane fall out of the sky?"
"Because the pilot was a loaf of bread."

"What's green and fuzzy, and if it fell out of a tree, it would kill you?"
"A pool table"

"What's yellow and cannot swim?"
"A tractor"

"Why did the boy fall of his bike?"
"Because someone threw a cinder block at him."

Ok, so I know most of these will not be funny to most of you readers out there... but I'm telling you... come and live in Yantai, or really any small/medium sized city in China for at least 6 months and I'm telling you... you'll think they are hilarious after that!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

200th post

I've been delaying for a while writing this post because I felt that should have something meaningful to say for such a momentous occasion. The problem is that I don't. This post has no special significance simply because its numerical identifier happens to be divisible by 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 20, 25, 40, 50, and 100. So, since I've gotten that out of the way, I figured I'd just let you know what I've been up to.

During the past week, I've been down in Guangzhou for the 102nd China Export and Commodities Fair, aka The Canton Fair. I've written posts about it the other times I've gone and something don't change each time I come here; A) I never cease to be amazed at the shear size of the fair and the variety of products offered, and B) I hate Guangzhou. It is a dirty, noisy, hot, over-populated city. I can't stand coming here and I always look forward to leaving. I can find no redeeming qualities whatsoever about this horrible place.

Anyway, back to point A above. I didn't have so much time to walk around the fair this time... I only had a chance to check out the new International Pavilion, showcasing various companies from around the world who wish to import to China, and the electronics section. The strange thing about the "International" Pavilion was that no matter where I looked all I saw were Chinese people manning the booths. Whether the sign indicated USA, Turkey, Russia, or Tunisia, the staff members were all Chinese.

"Strange", I thought. Well, I found out the story later and it is a very typically Chinese story. Because the city of Guangzhou is trying to encourage foreign companies to come to this new section of the fair, they have made booths at the International Pavilion cheaper than the booths for the regular Chinese exporting booths. All of the Chinese exhibitors, upon finding this out, rushed of to have one of their foreign customers in another country register the booth for them as to save money. The registered company in many cases never even attended the show, but rather had their Chinese supplier manning "their" booth.

Walking around the electronics section is always the most fun for me, perhaps because electronics always exhibits the most amount of copyright infringement. I walked past and "Indian" company (read the previous paragraph) and saw a perfect copy of the new Apple i-phone. The only difference was that it ran windows instead of the Apple OS, but it still had an emulator to make it look almost identical. They had a real one there next to it and you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference. Pretty impressive considering the thing only came out a few months ago.

Another booth was showing the various mp3 players they make. Now, for as long as I've been in China I've seen attempted copies of the iPod. I've even seen a few that came pretty darned close to the real thing, but they always fell short (or rather made them look different enough that they couldn't get sued). Yesterday however, I saw an absolute perfect copy of the current Apple iPod Shuffle. When I asked about it, the Chinese manufacturer said he would accept no responsibility for any legal claims after it was shipped out of China if I purchased it. He instead guided me towards one of his almost-nearly-but-not-quite iPods, saying perhaps it would be safer for me to import these to my country and avoid the legal hassles.

After the fair last night, I spend an hour or so looking for an Indian restaurant I had seen from a taxi. During my walk I saw something I've never seen before; a young Chinese guy getting arrested by cops. Ok, perhaps not unusual in a large urban setting, but the strange thing was what the cops were doing. They had this kid in handcuffs and a group of police officers were each taking turns having their picture taken with him, the same way you would with Goofy at the Magical Kingdom in Disney World. And of course, since no Asian can have their picture taken without doing it, one hand was holding the 'perp and the other was giving the peace sign. Every single cop (at least 8) all struck the same pose that says, "my native language uses a character system and not an alphabet." I finally found the Indian restaurant and stuffed myself on Lamb Vindaloo... yum.

Well, tomorrow I leave crappy Guangzhou... hopefully never to be back... well, at least as an exhibitor. I could see myself coming back here later in life as a buyer for something or looking for a company to potentially invest in. We'll see.

That's it for now, folks. I hope this post was worthy enough to be the 200th I've written. I realized that since I've lived in China for more than two years, the fact that I've only now written 200 posts show me that I don't write frequently enough, but... ehh. I have better stuff to do with my time like watch whole seasons of the Sopranos in one sitting.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My contact info

I had a comment today on one of my posts from a friend of mine who's been trying to contact me for a while. So, here's my contact info:

Phone: 610-624-3176 (its a Philly number that will go to my computer. Please remember the time difference)
Skype: Otford15

Send me an e-mail, Sarah!! I don't know your contact info either!

I'm seriously not going to miss this job

Ring, ring...

"Oh, hi, David."
"What's that? The driver will come by at 10am to pick me up?"
"Ok, but make sure he does, because it is very important that I check all of the trailers today before they are loaded into the truck to go to the fair."

At 1 o'clock pm...

"Hi, David. 10 o'clock, huh?"
"What? The driver maybe cannot get me today?"
"Maybe he can't, or he can't,... which one?"
"No, I don't have enough money to take a taxi to work because I haven't even been paid my Chinese salary yet this month!"

One hour later...

"Hi, Eric."
"No, we cannot use the wood panels instead of the steel. That's why I had you make the steel ones today."
"What do you mean the workers didn't follow your design and now the panels are wrong?"
"Why didn't the floor manager have the correct drawings for the side panels?"
"I don't give a $h*t if you and the floor manager are having an argument!! Go down stairs RIGHT NOW and give him the drawings so they can make another two side panels the correct way!!"
"Yes, there is enough time!! DO IT NOW!!!!!!"

Monday, October 08, 2007

Accident (extended from earlier)

I was just informed that yesterday, one of the workers in our factory (not our workshop, but the one next door operated by our partner) was decapitated when the hook arm of a dumpster-lifting truck came crashing down while he was leaning into the truck to inspect it. The man was 37 years old.

I've never met this worker before, but for some reason this really struck a nerve with me. I don't know if it was the fact that it actually happened, or the relative lack of emotion the other staff here seem to be showing over it.

Chinese culture often discourages strong emotions in order to maintain group dynamic; perhaps this extends to grief/shock as well?

Extended from earlier:

I had dinner tonight with a guy from my factory. He said that in China, when an accident like this occurs, the police aren't called at all. There is no investigation for negligence, foul play, etc. He also told me that the poor man had a wife and kid... the most they get out of this whole thing is 15,000 RMB (approximately $2,000). Everyone at the table agreed that while you cannot put a price on a human life, the sum of money offered to the family was drastically too small. The really screwed up thing is... I was in the factory the day that is happened, approximately 1 hour afterwards. I had not idea anything had occurred, and the entire factory was running like normal. What did they do to appease the factory workers for the loss of their friend, and apparent failure of safety procedures? They sent everyone in the workshop to a free session at the local bathhouse!! Yeah, like a steam-room and a back rub are going to erase the fact that your friend whom you've been working with for the past 10 years just got his head smashed like a pumpkin.

Going to have nightmares about this one.