Micah on Creativity

Just in case it has escaped some of you, Micah is my friend and co-worker here in Shanghai. (If you have a compulsive need to follow “all things John Pasden” (ha!) you should keep an eye on Micah’s blog because my name pops up there from time to time.)

Micah recently wrote a thought-provoking entry on raising children in China as an expat:

Having gone to Spanish public school for so many years has cocktail party utility, but I blame

What is One-Finger Zen?

Recently I came across the term 一指禅 in my Chinese studies. I asked my tutor about it. She said it was a mystical kung fu secret developed by the Shaolin monks. Using this technique, a monk can do a “handstand” using only one finger. Supposedly he can keep this up for several minutes.

[source of image]

An English search for “One-finger Zen,” however, turns up a different story. Unsurprisingly, information about Zen in English is normally about Japanese Zen …

Bitch Day

Happy International Women’s Day! Ummm, I guess I have some explaining to do about the title of this post. (It may be inflammatory, but it’s in the name of education.)

In China, International Women’s Day (March 8th) is called Èý°Ë¸¾Å®½Ú or, commonly, just Èý°Ë½Ú. That’s “3-8 Day” because of the date. (Quite a few Chinese holidays are referred to this way.)

The thing is, some misogynists took the name of the holiday and turned it into a derrogatory …

Wuhan and Auspicious Beasts

I just got back from a business trip to Wuhan (武汉). I took my fickle camera, which may or may not work at any given time, but I never bothered using it. That’s me being lazy.

I had been to Wuhan once before, just passing through on the way from Shiyan to the airport. It’s really a massive city (or “metropolitan area consist[ing] of… the ‘Three Towns of Wuhan,’” you might say). At dinner on Wednesday, one of …

Haggling in Taiwan

My friend Shelley was in Taiwan at the same time I was but had a very different experience. I’d like to share an excerpt from an e-mail he sent me:

One week was just not enough time in Taiwan and one email is just not enough to explain all I saw and did in that one week. But I’d like to leave off on an account of one experience at a Taipei night market that drove home a significant difference …

Cartoon Traffic

Bruno Bozzetto has managed to create several highly amusing Flash cartoons with only the simplest of drawings. Watching his “Yes and No” (traffic do’s and don’ts) and “Europe and Italy” (general observations of society), I couldn’t help but make a connection to China. Those two are both worth a look.

Via Screenhead.

Ding Ding Dong

The name of the Christmas song “Jingle Bells” is 圣诞铃声 (something like “Christmas Bells”) in Chinese. But the famous English refrain “jingle bells, jingle bells” in Chinese is the onomatopoeic “叮叮当, 叮叮当,” which sounds like “ding ding dong, ding ding dong” to Western ears. It doesn’t sound at all like sleigh bells ringing to us, it just sounds really funny (or maybe like doorbells). In my experience, every Westerner who learns these Chinese lyrics busts out …

On Fish

Conversation 1:

Chinese person: Why don’t you like fish?

Me: I like fish, it’s just hard to eat it with all these tiny bones in it.

Chinese person: Don’t fish in America have bones in them too?

Me: Yes, but the chef removes them. That’s his job.

Question: Do Westerners not eat a lot of (otherwise tasty) fish simply because they have too many bones?

Conversation 2:

Me: I come from Florida.

Chinese person: Oh, your home is by the

Eat Poop You Cat

Eat Poop You Cat” is a party game I recently discovered via Metafilter. The premise:

Each person writes a sentence, such as, say, “The hot soup burned my tongue.” The next person illustrates the sentence. Then the first portion is folded over, and the next person must try to reproduce the original sentence from the drawing. Then the drawing is folded over, and another illustration is produced.

The mutations can be hilarious. You don’t have to “know

Hunting! Ha ha!

Happy Thanksgiving

My company has been doing some Thanksgiving activities lately. It’s my responsibility to help design the activities to make them educational both in basic vocabulary as well as in cultural content. It’s also my responsibility to execute some of the activities. This involves such excellent speaking opportunities as explaining in Chinese to a group of kids the basic history and traditions of American Thanksgiving.

So the other day I found myself explaining to some kindergarteners about the Indians (my company’s …

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