Wednesday, October 29, 2008


apologies for the lack of posts lately. a combination of factors, not least of which is a half dead computer and no internet at the new apartment, has kept me from posting. but i've got lots in the works! posts to look forward to include a trip to the local amusement park (i did not die!), a run in with one of the blog's biggest fans, and our new aforementioned digs. new posts will be coming soon i promise!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

easy and breezy in dalian

returning back to work on monday i was reminded that the second half of this week would be spent on a trip to dalian. since i had returned from the states a mere 18 hours earlier and felt a bit like the walking dead, this was somewhat a shock, though in retrospect it was definitely easier to keep awake wandering around a city i had never been to than sitting at a desk all day.

the dalian harbor and shipbuilding yards

after an initial boondoggle wherein our tickets weren't reserved and i got to for the first time in my life buy a ticket from the ticket counter in the airport (i felt a bit old school), we arrived in dalian. the city is here, and is a hugely important port with lots of japanese and korean influence. you may know it as the site of intel's huge new chip factory, but it also apparently has a growing amount of outsourced korean and japanese call centers, much like how US companies outsource to india. all in all the city is small and clean and very nice.

offering supervision and consultation in cleaning a spot off the trunk

as the city is renown for its seafood, my coworker (hereafter referred to as "the bernster," short for bernie) and i headed for a recommended seafood restaurant. i unfortunately forgot to bring my camera. upon walking in the door you were presented with tanks full of various fishes and crustaceans of indeterminate origin, many of which were improbably moving. there was one bucket on the floor filled with what looked like a kind of foam that we did not order. we ended up getting some giant prawns and some clams and chopped up sea cucumber, which is very tough but apparently quite nutritious.

the bernster looking like a badass

one night after dinner i took a walk and found myself on the bar street. interestingly there was a distinct progression as i walked from one end to the other of bars turning into "sexy" massage parlours and then sex shops. though now that i think about it, perhaps i was walking in the wrong direction.

the castle of the king of dalian

as you may have guessed, the picture is not where the king of dalian lives. more amazingly it is actually a shell museum. like sea shells. i refused to believe that, and was only convinced once three separate people and my taxi driver said it was so. go china.

a "driving" school, which seemed more like a parking school to me

as pleasant as dalian is, with hills and waterfront everywhere, i can't recommend it as a place to go on vacation. there simply isn't much going on there. besides the incredibly interesting work of looking at buildings during the day, and once wandering down to the ocean, there wasn't really anything to do. it's also really windy.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Picture of the Day: October 8th, 2008

For the weak of stomach, please disregard Durrell's last blog... and his not-so-subtle digs at South Jersey. GO PHILLIES!!

Back in my youth, I worked a few summers in construction. Or as we call it in the Smith family: "the Biz." Wouldn't it be that the liberal arts educated kid was the least skilled person on the job. Back at HQ, "the Man" would send me out at the site's lowest wages (a move that I respect more than I can describe here in this blog) to do the only thing I was qualified to do: Pick Up Crap.

To be honest, I think I was more content picking up dry-wall scraps than performing any other function on the job site. This was because I got to throw said crap in what we called "the dumpster." No, actually, no scare-quotes there. I literally mean a dumpster. Many don't realize this, but loading a constructing dumpster is a delicate science. Heavy stuff first. Light stuff next. Then finish it off with a sweet topping of more heavy stuff -- like a fine pecan pie. All the while you get to hurl large objects blindly into this huge metal bin and listen to the wild sounds they make landing. Incredible. Finally, when it appears that not a single additional item could fit, the bravest of the brave are sent on top to perform the ancient gypsum dance to the gods of more space, and magically the items below are compacted allowing work to continue. Really, I don't see a more crucial job in the construction business.

Well, on an epic bike ride that I will potentially describe in a future blog (probability 32%) I came across these fellow Chinese brethren schooled in the art of dumpster. They are huddled in the back of the photo playing gin rummy after a long day of picking up crap. If you ever thought there we were loosing ground on the technology gap between the US and China, well here's your proof! In China, you get to pick up crap using HORSES!! Just IMAGINE WHAT I COULD HAVE ACCOMPLISHED!!

Monday, October 06, 2008

I Am So Grossed Out Right Now

Before I get to explains the title of the blog post, I thought I wwould show some lovely pictures of our trip to the Great Wall. I am not sure what part of the Great Wall we went to but, it was the best part I have been to some far. I am not sure of the name, but Clark knows it, ask him. And also ask him where the murderball post is. It was not restored and it even had a forest growing out of it as you can see from the pictures, okay, maybe not a forest but some greenery. It also had these aliens all over it. It took us three hours to hike about a kilometer on the thing, the hardest part getting on top of the actual wall. I think if we were in shape we could have hiked it in an hour. After we were done hiking the wall we had a nice gourmet meal at our guides house. I am pretty sure all of it was organic. He had a nice courtyard garden of which I have no pictures.

The most in part of that day wasn't even the Great Wall, it was before we even got there and we ran into this guy from the US. The conversation started off like many conversations in Beijing when you run in to another fellow American. Something like,

Random Guy- "Hey are you American?"
Clark- "Yes"
Random Guy- "Cool, where are you from?"
Me-"The "US"
Random Guy (with a duh look on his face)- "eh"
Me- "I mean Seattle"
Clark- "The Cesspool of America"
Random Guy- "Oh, South Jersey"
Clark- "Yeah"

Then it went on to more basic questions like what are you doing here, how long have you been here, and do you like China? And with this do you like China question, this where the whole conversation got a little weird.

Random Guy- "Yeah, I love China. It's great. Asian Girls are great"
Clark and Me- (chuckle, chuckle)
Random Guy- "I met my wife here"
Clark- "That's great"
Me- "Yeah cool"
Random Guy- "Yeah, I love Asian girls, the are so much better than American girls. (looking at me) You have been here a while, you know what talking about, come on, YOU KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT"
Me- "Actually, no, no not really"
Random Guy turned in to Creepy Guy- "Come on, their great. I met my wife through this website You can go on there and just pick out a wife, they love Americans. It is so easy. I can get anything I want."
Clark and Me- (nervous laugh)
Creep Guy- "Yeah, you can go on there and get any type of Asian girl, yours for the picking. My friend set it up."
Me- "Sounds Nice"
Clark "What is the website again, I need to look into that"

Long story short, that is how we got our new sponsor for our website. Our old sponsor didn't work out. They decided to sell sll their cats to the Hooters in Beijing. So go to for all your Asian women needs.

And now to why I am grossed out. One of the people in my company sits in a corner office with a glass wall, so it looks like he is in a fish tank. There is a fogged glass section in the middle of the wall that covers 1/3 of the wall, leaving a clear 1/3 at the top and the bottom. Everyone once in a while, when he is his office he has Chinese music blaring, but I normally don't mind because I normally have my head phones on to drown it out. However, today, I didn't have my head phones on and a quite disturbing sound came from his office. It was a strange moaning sound. I was like him, I have heard that sound before. Yes, I have. I think I have heard that sound on the Discover Channel. Was it from shark week? No. Was it from planet earth? No. What is that moaning sound? Wait, wait, wait, that is not an animal moaning sound? That is a human moan sound, they type of moaning you hear in R rated movies, the Pirate kind of R rated movies. I was like wow, is he really watching this in the office. This can't be. Think I turn to look at his fish bowl, and I see his right arm moving up and downing very rapid. Like the type of movement you use to brush lent off your pants or put a fire out that is in your lap. I don't know exactly for sure what he was doing. But from the sounds that were coming out of his office and how close he was staring at the computer screen and from the way his arm was moving in such a rapid movement. The only conclusion I can come to is that I don't want to shake his hand today. And I don't think I want to look him in the eyes for a while. I feel like I need a shower right now just writing about it. I never thought I would see that at work, never in a million years.

Highlight of the Day: That I get to go home and wash the gross off of me.