Spitting, Peeing, Snot Rockets, and Me (part 1)

My time in China has exposed me to my fair share of public spitting, peeing, and snot rocketing. Thoughtful fellow that I am, this makes me all introspective. What are the effects of five years of phlegm? How potent is the power that all that pissing poses to me, personally? Let us examine.



It’s no secret that freedom of expectoration is a widely held ideal in the PRC. Some of the enlightened city folk of this …

Unsolved Mystery

It’s pretty well-known that Chinese college boys love computer games. When I taught in Hangzhou, I saw firsthand how those guys would spend every free minute in internet cafes playing CounterStrike or whatever the latest network game was. The reason for the obsession was hard for me to grasp.

Then I saw two eye-catching entries on Bingfeng’s Teahouse which offered a possible explanation:

Bingfeng's Chinese Internet Girls 1

Bingfeng's Chinese Internet Girls 2

Bingfeng’s large collection of “Chinese Internet Girl” photos (click on both photos above for more) — evidence …

All Apologies

A Chinese story:

At 8:40am I called her on her cell phone. “Are you headed off to work?” I asked.

“Sure am!” she laughed back.

Choking back a sob, I said to her, “Wen… I’m sorry.”

After a moment of stunned silence, she replied, “why are you apologizing to me?”

“It’s nothing,” I explained.

“Xiao Nuo, you…” she started, but I quickly hung up.

At ten minutes past noon I dialed her office number.

“Why isn’t your cell phone on?”

Writing Gospel


Recently I bought a new notebook for scratch paper and random notes. I didn’t even glance at what it said on the cover. I just liked that it was lined and spiral bound.

Later as I was scrawling “Scratch Paper” on the cover in big, lazy black letters I discovered the word Gospel boldly staring up at me. In the upper left corner, I read, “Gospel. Faith. Committed.”

Now I feel kind of strange. My random jottings have been elevated …

Wedding in Changchun

I just attended my friend John’s wedding over the weekend, in Changchun, China. Changchun is pretty far north. It’s north of North Korea, and probably the farthest north I’ve ever been in China. It was a great time to be there; I got to trade Shanghai’s sweltering August heat for Changchun’s crisp early autumn weather. Not a bad deal.

The wedding was nice. It was the first Chinese-style wedding I’d been to for one of my non-Chinese friends. Despite …

Science (something) Sect

I hate celebrity gossip. I think it’s the stupidest thing. Why should we care about that stuff?? What bugs me the most is when I realize I am actually somewhat following it. I don’t want to, I don’t mean to… how does it happen?? I find it even more ludicrous that Chinese people sometimes also follow the celebrity gossip of Hollywood stars. Yeah, I shouldn’t be surprised, in this age of international media… but still. It’s ridiculous.

Last night I …

Pei Sei

My girlfriend and I have been staying with my parents here in Tampa since the 4th of July. My family has been very generous and hospitable to her during that time. Naturally, her response was, “我觉得不好意思.” Then she asked me how to say 不好意思 in English.

I usually find 不好意思 pretty easy to translate, as it can often correspond to “sorry” or “excuse me” in English. When you’re a little late to a meeting, you can say 不好意思 …

Origin of Koi

So many inventions and customs originated in China that it’s not uncommon for me to learn one that I never knew about before. Sometimes, however, the claims get a little ridiculous.

My favorite is the claim that the Japanese are actually a lost tribe of Chinese from southern Zhejiang, and that the Japanese language has evolved out of the dialect of Wenzhou. I think the first part is simply a creative attempt to explain Japan’s financial success while holding …

Truly Asia

This morning when surfing CNN.com I ran across this ad for travel to Malaysia:

truly Asia

Truly Asia, eh? The implication there is that there are some “so-called Asia” nations that are actually no more than a bunch of posers. Which nations are the posers, I wonder? Anyone care to speculate?

I also began to wonder: does China have any similar tourism slogans, or is it too busy scaring off the rest of the world to bother? What slogans might China use …

The Mummy in Shanghai

The Mummy Returns

The entrance of Zhongshan Park

Ever since the May holiday, Shanghai’s Zhongshan Park has been housing a big The Mummy Returns promotional activity. It’s like a mini Egypt-themed fair. The main entrance of the park is all Egypted out, and a huge-screen (but low-res) TV has been installed which shows nonstop The Mummy Returns clips, interspersed with advertisements for the mummy fair going on inside the park. Each ticket costs a ridiculous 80 rmb per person.

After you pay, …

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