Showing posts from 2013

Last Rant of the Year

Where I am now, it’s still a bit from the New Year.  2014, etc. Well, from where I stand, it’s another year of American decay.  We are beginning to understand now, as the economy gets better, and the engine that could continues to lift America out of the ditch, that quite frankly, most of it’s People are still there, and will be there for a very long time to come.   This is our version of the “lost generation”.   Every country has one. There are the folks in their early 50’s, years from getting a social pension,  that will never get a meaningful job again. The life of the 60’s where just “dad”worked, mom stayed home, and dad was able to both buy a car, afford a mortgage are long fucking gone.  We all know that.  What’s increasingly becoming a reality is that mom and dad, working together, are having problems doing the same.    What happens when they fail? College tuition continues to go up. American companies are now less increasingly loyal to America than ever

Postscript...Chinese Dinner Party

The other day I talked abt Stress Day, ie Chinese Dinner Party Night at the Fontenot house.  Well, we followed up the following evening with a dinner party at another friends house.   It was nice to be invited, for a change, rather than doing all the cooking ourselves..(my wife, anyway). This is what our friends prepared for us: A dish of brussel sprouts with bacon. A salad Fried Potatoes The father of the family had his 13 year old son cook both the brats and the Steaks on the grill.  It is important to note here that nothing was cooked in advance of our arrival.  Everything was done after we arrived.   (As opposed to my wife spending approx. 6 hrs shopping and cooking) Me and the Dad sat back and had wine while my wife and his(A Japanese), cooked. The brats were mostly for the kids. Total in attendance…2 families…4 adults and 4 kids. We managed to dump the brownie cake my wife had made the previous night onto our friends.  We had to throw away the fruit

Chinese Dinner Party Night!

Yesterday was Stress Day.  What am I talking about? I did my usual exercise routine, hung out with the kids…what’s so bad abt that? It was Dinner Party Night! Chinese Style. This is the time of Year I feel most useless.  We had old friends coming over for dinner, along with one fellow in particular who had yet to visit our house.   Everyone was Chinese.  My wife is rather conservative, I feel, for her “old age”..(A smokin’ 44), and over the course of the past 22 years I’ve pretty much accepted my wife for what she is.(you’d think!) But I still shudder at the silliness of Chinese Dinner Party Night.  On the stove for the evening we have the following ready to go: 10 dishes 1 fish 1 fruit salad 1 cake 1 soup. A bottle of some Chinese Yellow Wine We have 3 adults coming over+2 teenagers.  In fairness, it turns out one of the original party is too ill to show. Our Chinese friends arrive.  They bring…. One Soup 4 dishes Maybe

Patrick Hurley, America's Worst China Diplomat

During 1944-5, on the eve of Japanese surrender, the USA faced a crisis in China.   Chiang Kai Shek(“cash my check”, Truman called him.  Truman knew a parasite when he saw one).  CSK and Stilwell were famously not getting along.  At times it seemed that Stilwell had less cachet with the White House than even Soong May Ling did.  Stilwell was frustrated that CSK simply wasn’t using the military supplies he was receiving from the USA to defeat the Japanese. And Chennault and Stilwell were bitter rivals, themselves.  So FDR decided to send one of his most trusted emissaries, albeit a Republican, to China to help FDR see things a bit more clearly.   He was trusted with meeting both sides of the coming Civil War in China.  His name was Patrick Hurley, and Mr. Hurley’s impact on US-Sino relations lasted far longer than his short term as emissary turned Ambassador.   He thus earns my vote as The Worst American Diplomat Ever in China. Don’t get me wrong.  Mr. Hurley himself was reason

Our local Tiger Mom and Yale

Awhile back I wrote about Tiger Mom’s.  Every community has one.  You just need to know where to look, ie, within the Chinese community(everyone has one of those, too)I gave a brief illustration on one in particular.  The one that doted on her children, loudly, in a well thought out and systematic way.   She was the one with the PLAN.  Her goal wasn’t the local nationally ranked top 20 university….nooooooo She wanted Harvard or Yale.  "I would feel a great shame", if I had to apply to the local school, she told my wife. This Tiger Mom always got under my skin.  Her efforts were just too contrived.  It didn't help when I only half jokingly invited her daughter over for dinner one night, to better expose and inspire my own daughter to the benefits of hard work.  (Yet though it was summer, the Tiger Mom couldn't fit a visit to our house in her schedule.) Yeah, you could say I kinda felt she thought her daughter was better than my daughter. She was me

Keeping up with the Wang's

Yesterday my wife announced she wanted a million dollar house.  There was no quantitative analysis behind the statement, ie nothing like “the greater the value, the more we make”, or anything like that.   No homework done on her behalf, nor any attempt to “wow” me with numbers.  No….she just felt “in my life I’d like to live in a million dollar house”.   I’d just fought the brave fight, mind you.  A nearly 2 year long rearguard action on our next car purchase.  A strong believer in Japanese vehicles, my wife had wanted a Lexus from Day One while I simply wanted to upgrade to a bigger Honda.   Alas, after 2 years she simply wore me down.  Simple as that.   We bought a Lexus.   So now I’m living with debt, for the first time in many years.  Mind you my wife, as most of you should know by now, is a city girl of old school privilege.  Her dad was a former bigwig within the government.  He was a generation ahead of his time, ie relatively honest.   He has a comfortable lifestyle


As I'm sure more than a scant few of you are aware, there was a blogger's site based out of Shanghai,   It was created and ran by Keith Williams, a Canadian. It was an open site, ie, anyone could publish.  None of this uppity "upon review will let you know" BS.   As such, it was the perfect way for me and others to "publish", ie, to test the waters of audience reaction to the topics we wanted to write about.    I liked the site, and frequently visited it. (my views were also much larger on his site than on my own) However, I guess due to lack of expat participation, and probably the maintenance involved in managing such a site, it became fairly inactive after awhile. Yes, I'm bemoaning the death of an expat oriented site.  But I'm wondering how such a site could have failed in the first place?   With Shanghai's large expat population, one would have thought it would've been a tad more popular. To my knowledge, us fo

Peasant Girls

Lets talk about Peasant Girls. Why? They are all over Shenzhen. Shenzhen, as I’m sure you know, is a migrant city.   It’s full of them.  So how can one tell a peasant girl from a city girl…ie born and raised in a city? Let’s ponder the ways….my work is done in the city, and I’ve nothing more momentous to do at the moment: Peasant girls are the ones on the subway with the 3000 yuan phone and 25 yuan shoes. Their the ones that take a scooter to the club.  There’s nothing funnier than a chick dressed to kill, hotter than hell, on a grimy, dirty, oily electric bike driven by a poor fella that makes less in one month than the cost of what she’s wearing on the bike. See the girl walking down the street chewing on sugarcane, spitting it out as she goes….that’s a peasant girl. She’s the one wearing the hot pants over a pair of stockings in chilly weather.  Gotta love it…..but she’s a peasant girl.  See a babe with a fat Hong Kong man, more than twice her age, walki

Rainy day in Shenzhen

It's rainy here today.  A cold rain.  I finally got a post out.  Took awhile.  When your customer wants to visit the factory on weekends, including Sunday, it really doesn't leave much time for any reflection. I finally went out last night.  I've been back in Shenzhen for a few weeks now.  How busy have I been?  Until last night, I'd spent less than 200 rmb!  I was always eating at the factory!   The project with the customer is behind schedule.   Greatly behind schedule.  The customer is pissed off, rightly so, in a big, big way.  And I'm the face of the supplier.  So it sucks.  Nothing is worse when someone below you fucks up, and you, as the project mgr, have to take the blame.  That doesn't keep me from letting the mgr of the fuckup know what I think of that particular person's actions.  The customer thinks I'm pretty much an incompetent waste of oxygen.  Yet I think their finally understanding the product they want to make is just not very manufac

Mandela, China and Godot

If I could have asked Mandela one question, it would have been a simple one: “How do you not hate?” Imprisoned for decades on an island, but a white minority, that would have fit right at home in Alabama circa 1962.   Originally sentenced to death, Mandela, more for his defiance of the “rule by minority” status of his society at the time, Mandela wasn’t a violent person.  He didn’t kill anybody.   Indeed, he was more dangerous because he wanted justice, and was able to express such sentiment in  terms more dangerous than that of a gun.  His ability to live such a long live was remarkable.  His ability to forgive and move on, when with the wave of a hand, he could have incited the greatest slaughter, is worth mentioning.   The more the minority White Race realized the futility of it’s apartheid policies, the more afraid they became of ending it.   Letting a caged lion you never fed out of it’s cage doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, and it took a chance with letting

The hidden cost to marrying a Chinese girl

I’ll just forego the introduction and come out and just say a Westerner should not marry a Chinese girl, if the PLAN is to live in China, and not go back home.  He can’t afford the expense.   The endless comparisons to Chinese Man, along with the expectations placed upon her by family, add up to a lot of stress for the unexpecting laowai.  Esp in this day and age.   If you can convince her to not have kids, and just “live together”, all the power to you.  This article is not for either the jaded or experienced.  A 40 something laowai with a 30 something Chinese lady have a hell of a lot better chance at success.   This is not for you. (And I realize that all cultures have this same issue.  But in China they are magnified to a higher degree.) But if you are both marrying for the first time, one must prepare himself(or steel himself?) for both the financial onslaught and shenanigans of her family. I remember when I was 25 and madly in love with my fiancĂ©e, still wife o

How not to make friends

Part of living here so long is one knows(sometimes in jest, and sometimes not) how to push the buttons of the locals. One example is hotpot.  I hate hotpot.  I don’t get the logic of hotpot.  Yet I’m quite often forced to endure hotpot.  So I can’t help myself sometimes, and I find myself falling into the role of laowai jerk. We’ll be at the table and I’ll just blurt out: “Hotpot.  Veggies and hot water.  This is what China culture after 5000 years has come to.” There will be silence.  The friends around the table that know I’m really not the jerk I just set out to be will simply punish me by ordering the extra spicy version of hot pot.  So I ask China…..what the hell were you thinking with your response to the Filipino Typhoon?  Seriously…did you think you’d really get away with such a miserly response for help from a neighbor? PR 101…..Things get out.  Oh, wait I forgot this is PR “with Chinese characteristics”. Now let me summarize Geography 101…you

This is getting out of hand

The dual between the VPN world and China continues.  I won the first quarter and than got my head handed to me on a platter afterwards. I'll be trying another VPN shortly.  It's a struggle.  Meanwhile my customers wonder why the factory I partner with has all this investment in all these nice machines and than none of them can get online to do anything.  It's embarrassing.  I just can't explain it away. And even if we can, it's a plodder's dilemma.  I have the mobile package that allows me to get either 1 or 2gb(I forget), of data per month for 100 rmb. Great deal right?  Until one realizes I'm stuck on a 3g network(with Chinese characteristics!), and still can't get on line as easily as I'd like. What's the point of even having internet? It's on my list to discuss the lack of infrastructural development I'd love to see, and internet is one of them.   Having a vpn isn't a panacea for one's blogging efforts if the speed isn

Self censorship and so what

I have no problem with self censorship.  I’ve gotten over it.  It’s a fact of life.  My pride, my ego have drained away, in the face of the harsh reality that China is all I got.  If I were to ever be banned from China, I’d need a new way of life.  I honestly don’t know what I’d do with myself.  First thing that would happen is I’d probably no longer have a company.  No longer able to travel and conduct biz in China would destroy my relationships.   So I need to make hard decisions based on the cold reality of today.   And I very knowingly choose self censorship.   The older one gets the more one realizes life is about compromise.  Like Oxygen one cannot live without it. You don’t see it, you say?   There are things I’ve written that have been posted only after much reflection and several drafts.  One of my previous posts on China paraphrasing “now vs back in 37” had nearly a whole paragraph deleted, upon reflection. That’s the ugly side of China; China leverages your

More musings on Shenzhen and Business in China

China will kill You The other day I was walking back from a simple restaurant maybe 7 minutes walk from the factory gate.  It was a good lunch, Hong Kong style, and maybe set me back(or the factory) $5 or so.   Upon reaching the factory, it was time to cross the street in order to actually enter the factory. The sidewalk was lined with waist to chest high shrubs.  From a foot back of the edge of the sidewalk, I was able to look both ways.  All clear.  It’s easy of course to see the big trucks that so commonly inhabit an industrial park.  What I didn’t see was the motorcycle. I stepped off the curb. Once I’m off the curb, I’m in the street.  While I had done my due diligence, I had once again been outplayed, outwitted, what have you, by the practicalities of living within China itself.  Coming straight for me, not 20 yards away, was a motorcycle.   He wasn’t going that fast of course, but 20 yards is close enough.   Why did I not see him? He was travelling the