Sunday, December 28, 2008

Eggnog Is The Mother Of All Invention

My Christmas day started out quite lazily because I didn't have to work. I woke up around 11 and logged on to my computer to try to kill some time before my Christmas party. As I am checking my mail, Golze sends me a chat message with a great idea. "We should make some eggnog." I am like that this the best idea I heard this Christmas, let's do it. Some sends me the recipe. I give it a cursory glance and tell him to come over, so we can pow wow and make a game plan, this was necessary because neither one of us has ever made eggnog. So he comes over and we determine, yes! we can get all these ingredients here in China, especially the all important nutmeg. We also read the instructions, but don't quite understand what they mean, but we figure we have at least one college degree between us and we know how to use the information gatherer we can figure that out later. After taking a quick trip to the store and buying all the ingredients, plus some extra eggs in case we messed up the seperating the egg whites process (for some reason we thought this would be the hardest part of the whole recipe, followed by folding the egg whites in, boy, were we wrong; who knew that beating 12 egg whites by hand would be hard), we begin trying to reconstruct this eggnog recipe. The separating the the egg whites and yolk goes over relatively smoothly, only a couple yolks fall into the the whites (this taught us valuable lesson as well, knifes and forks don't fish yolks out of the whites as well as spoons). Once the whites and yolks get separated. I begin the task of trying to beat the egg whites, while Golze does everything else and uses the information gatherer to look up what soft peaks means, (you don't really learn that at Middlebury for some reason) I spend like 20 minutes trying to beat these 12 egg whites into whatever soft peaks means. The closest thing I get to soft peaks is a little bit of bubbles in the egg whites. So Golze and I switch and I do some other random task of the eggnog process. After he is beating a way at it for 15 minutes, like my ex chinese co-worker, we decide to switch again. As I am doing this, Golze goes and looks up what folding egg whites in means and my roommate comes home. And looks at what I am doing and says, that's impossible, you will never be able to beat 12 eggs into soft peaks. Golze and I assure her, we are men, we can beat these eggs, and we have a lot of time before the party, this will not be a problem. She just kind of roles her eyes and says okay. But after another 10 minutes of beating these eggs, begin to realize that she is probably right, these eggs look in the exact same state as when I first started to beat them. Then, I have an epiphany, something like the Virgin Mary appearing to me in a water stain and saying, "on this Christmas day, I present you with a gift and a secret that will help you make great eggnog, and baby Jesus in her hands saying to me, "drill, baby, drill." At first I don't understand this message and I say to Golze, "I have a drill?" He takes this as an affirmative statement and says, "Yes, use it." And I am like oh I have drill, thank you baby Jesus. So we take my Black and Decker and attach the end of the whisk that we are using, see video; and in no time we have soft peaked egg whites.

We then add brandy and fold in the egg whites and let that chill for three hours, and did some other steps after that, that also involved the Black and Decker (this whole experience made me realize why and how the electric hand mixer was created.) To make a long story short, the trick to great eggnog is a power drill and nutmeg, oh and our eggnog was great. I highly recommend the recipe. Happy Belated Christmas and Hanukkah everyone, enjoy our Holiday party photo montage.

Highlight of the Day: Finishing the apple pie with digestive biscuit crust that I baked yesterday. And knowing that I still have gift cards to starbucks and subway to use; thank you very much Smith family for the lovely present, I can't wait to use them.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Make Less Than a McDonald's Employee

It has been a while since I wrote a blog post and there were several I wanted to write about for example: going to the Kanye West concert with the guys and girls, our financial crisis themed Halloween, Golze's awesome Uncle Adam (I am pretty sure is name was Adam, if it wasn't it is now) visiting Beijing and Golze taking him to get a happy ending (don't worry it was just a suit, that's what I call suits), and other stuff that I have already forgotten because I didn't blog about it. Maybe I make a photo montage to make up for it some time. I think the topic of this blog will supplement the over all theme of Golze's last post and I believe that theme, all though I could be wrong, is that the ECA doesn't know what the hell they are talking about. I have recently started a new job( which I will use as my excuse for not writing a post that and the government has blocked my laptop from accessing blogger) and recently decided to calculate my new salary. I know this is rude to be bragadocious about my salary, but I make 8000RMB a month. I decide to breakdown my salary to an hourly wage because I wanted to see how undervalued I was and because I recently read something on salaries in Beijing. So I don't consider myself that valuable here in China, I value my time about 200RMB an hour, which is about 30USD an hour at the current exchange rate. But to understand how far away I am from this goal which is obvious I am far away. I did the complete calculations. My working hours are scheduled from 9 to 6, but on average I have to stay past seven, so I considered I work 9 hours a day with an hour. Thus, 8000/4 is 2000, 2000/5 is 400, 400/9 is 44.44 which is roughly 6.5USD. And I am pretty sure that is less than what people at McDonald's make. I never worked at McDonald's but I am pretty sure they make more than that. I know it sounds like I am knocking McDonald's employees and assuming that their job is not really hard, and if it seems that way it is because I am doing that. This global financial recession is screwing up everything. I really picked a shitty time to quit my previous job. I think I had a point of for writing this, but I don't remember it. Oh yea, It was if you are thinking about making donations this year, make them to me, because apparently I live in the most expensive city in China or something and I make less than a McDonald's worker.

Highlight of the Day: Walking down the street listening to the bugle on ipod and giggling every 30 seconds while old Chinese men stared at me crazy every thirty meters. Yeah that's right meters, I have converted to the metric system. Celsius is coming next, wild card bitches!

Monday, December 15, 2008

living it up

the inimitable people's daily (the communist party paper) put up another hard hitting news story friday on its english language web site. surprisingly, this time the paper itself didn't do anything confusingly hilarious; it's the subject of the story itself that deserves posting here. beijing more expensive than hong kong, shanghai and singapore? it seems like eca international spent a bit too much time handing out their survey in shunyi and central park:*

Cost of living for foreigners in Beijing continues to rise
by People's Daily Online, December 12, 2008

According to Shanghai Morning Post, a survey carried out by the ECA International, the world’s largest human resources consulting firm showed that Tokyo is still the city with the highest cost of living for foreigners in Asia. While Beijing, by beating Hong Kong for the first time, became the city that is most expensive for foreigners in China.

According to the ECA report, Beijing ranks to 31st this year, while Shanghai is the 35th. Hong Kong climbs to 33rd from its previous position of 88th.

The appreciation of RMB and inflation helped raise the cost of living in Chinese cities, Beijing in particular. The survey shows that cost of living for a foreigner in Beijing is 15% higher than that of Singapore, which ranks 95th this year.

Luanda, the capital of the oil-rich African country of Angola, ranks number one this year. Tokyo follows Luanda closely in second place. Russia’s capital replaces the Norwegian capital Oslo to be the European city with the highest cost of living for foreigners.
granted, eca does seem to have some sophisticated indices and caveats that get lost in the people's-daily-english-reports-shanghai-morning-post-publishing-survey-results procedures. but i'm just glad i'm not living in luanda, for a variety of reasons.

*shunyi is the home of the central villa district, aka american suburbia in beijing, and central park is a luxury apartment complex in the cbd.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

back in business

sometimes living in china just beats down upon you with all its hassles, only to lift you up again with something that goes surprisingly well. this past week was one such week. first my tailor was being a dick about two shirts he made that didn't come out well, refusing to remake them and instead adjusting them and giving me a discount on a new shirt that i wasn't planning to buy anyway (he is shrewd, i'll give him that). next, i lost the atm card to my bank account that my company opened for me. this required me to hike out to the original issuing branch of the bank, which is inexplicably far away from my office, and wait a week for a new card without any access to my money.

and add on to that computer problems. as i may have used earlier as an excuse for the few posts here recently, my computer has been dying a slow death since october, with symptoms that i chalked up to an acknowledged defect in the video card. after lengthy chats with sandeep and rahul at dell tech support, we established that hardware needed to be replaced and that it was against dell policy to ship my system outside of china, though they did give me a number to china tech support. after being rebuffed by a recording of what i can only guess was "you are outside your warranty country," i poked around the site online and found there was a dell repair center across the street from my office.

so it was with cautious optimism that after looking up the words for motherboard (主板), video card (显示卡 or simply 示卡), and warranty (保单), i went to get my computer fixed this week. but my lifelong policy of lowering expectations paid off! they took my computer, which isn't even sold in china, replaced the video card (i gained some smug satisfaction on being right about that), and turned it around in two days. best of all, it was all free! and just in time to download this week's episode of 30 rock.