Having a Dragon by the tail

Blog post #9


Having the dragon by the tail!

Happy new year!  Welcome to the year of the dog for 2018 in the Chinese lunar new year.  Our children participate in our local Chinese school – the Hua Xia Chinese school.  This year we were much more involved in the New Years gala.  Our kids had some dancing and singing performances.  There was also a Chinese dragon dance to open the show and the school needed volunteers because there were not enough people to hold it up.  My sister was visiting town and so we both volunteered to help carry the dragon.  We were the last two to join, so we were the tail of the dragon.  Our task was to run around the stage making big circles and stop, wave the dragon, and run around some more.  We quickly realized that the tail end has to run the fastest and turn the sharpest corners.  It was fun but a bit difficult to keep up.  Other than that it was pretty easy – you just do what the person in front of you is doing.  If I get to try it again, I would love to practice crossing the dragon over on itself and other moves.  Maybe next year.



Teaching mother in law how to drive, part #2

Blog #8 Feb 11, 2018

If you haven’t read, make sure to start with:

Teaching mother-in-law how to drive, part #1

When we saw the police car, I wanted to tell Mom how to roll down the window. Here is one detail – on this car were driving, the windows are very dark black. The tint is actually limousine tint, which is illegal because police cannot see in. I am thinking about this, and all of the police shootings in the news recently.  And we have been driving around the bank. I cannot get Mom to roll down the window as the police starts to approach the door. I made the decision to open my door to speak to the police officer. This can be quite dangerous in the US, the police officer may think you are trying to attack or run away, you should always stay in the car and not make any sudden movements. I had been jumping around inside the car trying to reach the window, the police can’t see inside.

So I took a deep breath and opened the door, making sure to hold up my hands above my head when I said “heeeelllloooooo there!” “we are just doing some driving lessons”.

Then he smiled, relaxed and said, “oh, OK.”

He told us no problem, but that someone had called in to report suspicious driving. We chatted a bit and then he told us to please continue with the practice. He pulled off to the side and a second police cars arrived to the parking lot. We had a lot of police supervision, maybe the safest driving lesson ever. For the next lesson, we found a new parking lot to practice in and never returned to the bank again.




Teaching mother-in-law how to drive, part #1

Blog #7

Feb 8, 2018

In 2016, my wife and I set a New Years resolution to teach my mother in law how to drive. I have pretty good relationship with my mother in law who lives with us. She is about 60 years old, and had never before driven a car nor could she speak or read English. So, this was a big job, but something we really wanted to do to improve her quality of life living with us here in the US.

Every weekend we would practice using parking lots near my house. There was one big parking lot with several offices all connected. One Sunday, we were driving from the day care on one side all the way to loop around the bank in the other side. The bank had some very narrow lanes around the backside which made for good practice. Daycare to bank. Bank to daycare. Back and forth we drove. Perhaps around the third or fourth loop around the bank I though – we probably look like criminals casing the bank. Shortly after that, we were practicing parking into parking spots when a police car suddenly came rushing up behind us…




Making a Good First Impression

Post #5 Feb 3, 2018

The weather is especially cold this winter where we live. So, I’ve been wearing these long thermal underwears, like people do in China during the winter. On my first trip to China to meet my wife’s family, it was wintertime. So, I packed and brought my long thermal underwear. The thing about wearing them is that you feel warm and covered, even when you are not.

I remember coming out of the bathroom into the living room where there were about 6 older ladies (family and friends) visiting. The conversation stopped and everyone started staring at me. I looked down and realized suddenly that my pants were still completely open! I quickly turned around and fastened my pants, while trying to remember how to say “I’m sorry” in Chinese. Some laughter started and then the one English speaking aunt there said, don’t worry, we are all family.There was more talking in Chinese and laughter – but I have no idea what was said. Great first impression!


我记得有一次从厕所,回到客厅的时候,我发现六个客人到了客厅。他们本来在说话。一看到我就没说话并且盯着我看。我看一看我自己发现裤子没有穿好。我迅速转过身把裤子穿好。因为那个时候我还不会说中文,所以我就说了‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry!’。她们都哈哈大笑。然后一个会说英文的阿姨告诉我没关系,我们都是一家人。她们继续说说笑笑,然而我听不懂。我给我的家人留下了不可磨灭的印象。

Eating Crab with Chopsticks

Blog #6

I learned how to use chopsticks when I was a kid because I thought they were neat.  Now, whenever I travel in China, people are always amazed at how proficient I am as a foreigner with chopsticks.  I’ve never really had trouble eating anything with chopsticks until one night in Shanghai.  
My wife and I were meeting a friend of a friend at a restaurant.  She ordered the food, and out came hard shelled crab . . . and nothing but chopsticks.  I said – OK, I have no idea how to eat this with chop sticks.  Our host was sitting directly across the table from me.  She smiled and said ‘ you just use your teeth the break the shell’ and then she smiled a big smile . . . Every single one of her front teeth was broken.  It was like looking at a zig zag jagged line. I guess she really enjoyed to eat crab.
I left the dinner hungry that night.

我小时候学习用筷子,学会了,并且学得很好。现在我去中国的时候,中国人常常说”哎呀,这个外国人会用筷子!”。别人说,我拿筷子的方式是对的,可是我太太拿筷子的方式是错的。大部分时候用筷子没有遇到问题, 直到在上海一个晚上。 我和我的太太打算和一个朋友的朋友见面一起吃饭。她点了菜以后上了五只硬壳螃蟹。我们都用筷子,没有其他的。 我说了“好。我会筷子但是,我不知道怎么用筷子打开硬壳螃蟹。 我们的朋友坐在我对面。他说”没有问题!你就用你的牙打开。“ 然后她笑了笑。他的每颗牙齿都是坏的, 看起来很不整齐。我想她真的很喜欢吃螃蟹。这个晚上我没有吃饱。

Getting Cheated in Beijing, Part2

Post #4 Jan 21, 2018

(Make sure to read part #1 first:Getting cheated in Beijing, Part 1)

The next day, I looked at these bills – they did look super new, maybe just printed. I took them to the counterfeit bill detector in my hotel and they were in fact fake. I asked the hotel manager about it and he told me that the ATM does not dispense fake money.  Every bill in the ATM is accounted for as real.  He asked me, have you been in a taxi recently where the driver refused to take your money?  The taxi driver had cheated me. He switched the bills and I lost 500 Yuan!  The manager said he was sorry, this is a wide-spread scam in Beijing right now.

Below are pictures of the fake bills. It is easy to tell the difference by feel once you know they are fake. If you try to pay and someone gives your bills back to you, they are most likely trying to cheat you. Especially if they are a taxi driver.


#4 一月二十一号2018







Getting cheated in Beijing, Part 1

Post #3 Jan 20, 2018

I’m still in China this week. I almost hesitate to write this, but I think it’s a good story to tell. We went to the silk market to pickup some cheap gifts. Going home, the first taxi driver tried to overcharge me 150 for a trip that should be 40 to get home. The second taxi driver said 80 to get home. The third taxi driver, I did not ask a price, I just got in and told him the address. When we arrived at the hotel, I gave a 100 Yuan note and the driver told me he would not take it, it had a torn corner. So I took it back and gave a second one. He immediately gave it back and said it was too new. I gave a third and fourth, all of them he said too new. Finally, he accepted one of the bills, gave me my change, a receipt, and we got out and went into the hotel.

You can see pictures of what I bought below.  And the story continues in the next blog post.