Friday, October 31, 2008

Beware, Spoilers Alert...

...And The Winner Is:

Another way of predicting the next US president…

According to Steven Silverstein, CEO of Spirit Halloween, sales records show that the presidential nominee masks are selling big this Halloween season! The costume retailer appeared on Martha Stewart Living Radio to discuss the hottest costumes this season. Silverstein adds that for the last three elections, the highest selling masks at his stores have also been the election winners. So who's in the lead this year in sales???? Turns out that Barack Obama is winning the race, selling 69% of the masks. Go Barack! What, or who, will U be dressing up as for Halloween?

John or Barack

Monday, October 27, 2008

Massive Wedding

...At The Bird's Nest

Now that the Olympics games are finished, the venue needs to find a new purpose! Last weekend, two hundred and thirty policemen, who took part in Olympic security work, tie the knot in a group wedding ceremony held in front of the Bird’s Nest in Beijing.

Beijing municipality initiated annual group wedding in the 1930s, in a bid to simplify the extensive wedding ceremonies of olden times. The practice was suspended during the War of Resistance Against Japanese's Aggression (1937-45) but made a comeback after the war.


Signed, Seal(ed)...

...And Delivered

It’s been a while since I’ve had another try at Chinese arts and crafts. Chinese Culture Center was advertising for some Seal Chop Carving* lessons so I decided to attend. I already have my personal name seal with my Chinese name (西琳 - XiLin) which was done by a (real) seal carver so I went a different route and did something different (I didn’t want to compete with the masters!):


Final product

And like last time with the Chinese Knot Tying, I’ll go to the experts next time I need a Chop!

* A Seal is used in East Asia (China, Korea and Japan) to prove identity on document, office paperwork, contracts, art, etc… in certain cases, only seals are acceptable
The chops are typically made of stone, sometimes of wood, bamboo, plastic or ivory and are used with red ink.
Most people in China possess a personal name seal. Seals can serve as identification with signatures because they are difficult to forge (when compared to forging a signature) and only the owner has access to his own seal. Seals are usually carved out by specialist seal carvers, or by the users themselves. Results vary, but it is possible for individuals to carve perfectly legitimate seals for themselves.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What's Your Favorite...


Living in China is like playing the lottery; you never know which number to pick.

Because 85% people share only 100 surnames you usually find people in the public businesses (whether you are at the post office, the bank, etc…) having a number on their “name” tag instead of their actual name because let’s face it, it doesn’t help if they are all called Wang!

So a couple of weeks ago I was chatting with some friends and we were talking about pedicure/manicure and massages (aka the perk of Expat life in cheap countries), the conversation went a little like this:

  • V.: I always take “number 9” for my manicure if she’s not there “number 15” is not bad either
  • J.: As for massage at the club house, I prefer “number 6” while my husband goes to “number 7”
  • C. : My husband swears by “number 12” for his massages.

I have to say that the number system is not as bad as it sounds because I personally would never remember their Chinese name (I would probably say it with the wrong tone and end up calling her/him a very bad word) and when Chinese choose an English name sometime there are really creative and it’s not easy not to laugh… calling Samanfar, Lucky, Dollar, Frog or Tornado to the rescue.

It's better than 666

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Pregnant Lady...

...Can Do Whatever She Wants!

While having a nice tête-à-tête with my husband at “Element Fresh”, the new up and coming restaurant in town, some of my friends showed up and were seated just next to our table (and that was the end of our romantic lunch –just kidding!). Since this was not our first time to this restaurant, Paige came prepared:

Nothing beat home(made) dressing!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's A French Thing...

...Sainte Celine

And since Jeffrey was in France last week he brought me back some of my favorite “candy/cake” from renowned bakery Ladurée and its even more renowned Macarons.

These small, round cakes, crisp on the outside, smooth and soft in the middle, are the most famous creation of Ladurée:

Thank you babe

A name day is a tradition in many countries in Europe and Latin America of celebrating on a particular day of the year associated with the one's given name. The custom originated with the Catholic and Orthodox calendar of saints, where believers, named after a particular saint, would celebrate that saint's feast day. In many countries, however, there is no longer any explicit connection to Christianity. […]

Each day of the year corresponds to a personal name (or several names). People celebrate their name day on the date corresponding to their own given name.
Name days are commonly of less importance than birthdays. However, name day celebrations can be, and often are, held together with friends of the same.[…]

Traditionally, most people were given names from the Roman Catholic calendar of saints.
First names are chosen by the child's parents. There are no legal a priori constraints on the choice of names. This has not always been the case. The choice of given names, originally limited by the tradition of naming children after a small number of popular saints, was restricted by law at the end of the 18th century. Officially, only names figuring on a calendar or names of illustrious Frenchmen/women of the past could be accepted. Much later in 1966, a new law admitted in a limited number of mythological, regional or foreign names, substantives (Olive, Violette), diminutives and alternative spelling. Only in 1993 were French parents set free to name their child without constraint. However, if the birth registrar thinks that the chosen names (alone or in association with the last name) may be detrimental to the child's interests, or to the right of other families to protect their own family name, the registrar may refer the matter to the local prosecutor, who may choose to refer the matter to the local court. The court may then refuse the chosen names. Such refusals are rare and mostly concern given names that may expose the child to mockery. (source: Wikipedia)

* Again nothing to do with China but who cares it's my blog!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's Back...

...The China We Love

China's coming out party (i.e. Olympics and Paralympics) has been over for a month now and everything is back to normal.

I can finally pick up the latest Dvds (ie movies being actually played at movie theater right now!) while grocery shopping:

Conveniently located next to the dish washer powder

I was a little surprised to see that one of the “stores” went a little over the standard display (right next to the foreign section of the DVDs aisles and the tourists book)

Yes it's what you think it is... the sign warned you!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

What's Wrong...

...With This Picture?!

At our last LDL –Let’s Do Lunch or Ladies Do Lunch

We really accept anybody!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

That Explains

...A Lot

While reading one of my Chinese language book last night (FYI, that was the only available, non-read book on my night stand and I didn’t feel like getting up!!!) I came upon an interesting fact: Chinese language doesn’t have a word to say “Logic” or “Humor”. They have to use a phonetic transcription LuoJiXue (luo2 ji4 xue2 - 逻辑学) for logic and YouMo (you1 mo4 – 幽默) for humor. Now it’s all becoming clear.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Oops They Did It...


And we thought that after the Olympics we’ll be done with their plan of “a month, a restriction” but the big guys just cooked us a new one:

BEIJING, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- Beijing has announced a series of post-Olympics car restrictions, which will take effect next month and hopefully sustain the hard-won smooth traffic and good air quality during the Games.
Under the new traffic restrictions, 30 percent of government vehicles will be sealed off as of October 1, said a circular issued by the Beijing municipal government on Saturday.
The remaining 70 percent of government vehicles, as well as all corporate and private cars, will take turns off the roads one out of the five weekdays as of October 11, it said.
Cars whose number plates end with 1 or 6 will be taken off roads on Monday, while those ending with 2 or 7 will be banned on Tuesday, 3 or 8 on Wednesday, 4 or 9 on Thursday and 5 or 0 on Friday. The ban does not apply on weekends.
The ban will be applicable within the Fifth Ring Road inclusive, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. for private cars and round the clock for government and corporate vehicles.
The new restrictions will take effect on a trial basis on October 11 for six months until April 10, but does not apply to police wagons, ambulances, fire engines, buses, taxies and other public service vehicles.
"It's expected to reduce Beijing's average road traffic flow by 6.5 percent and speed up traffic within the Fifth Ring by 8 percent at least," said Wang Zhaorong, an official with the Beijing Municipal Committee of Communications, at a press conference on Sunday.
In compensation, the restricted vehicles will be exempt from one month of vehicle tax and road maintenance fee a year. Drivers who are caught to have breached the new rule will not enjoy the exemption, according to Wang.
While most people applaud the ban on government and corporate vehicles, the ban on private cars, however, has sparked an outcry from car owners, many of whom complain it is "unfair".

Personally we'll have to walk on Friday!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Mission Is A Success...

...Oh Wait, They Haven't Blasted Off Yet

Chinese News Article, Including Vivid Details, Printed Before Launch (Published on Thu, Sep 25, 2008)

Posted two days before the launch even takes place, the article vividly describes the dialogue between the astronauts, the crowd’s response, and the sights of the ship taking off.
The article, dated two days from now on Sept. 27, vividly described the rocket in flight, complete with a sharply detailed dialogue between the three astronauts.
Excerpts are below:
“After this order, signal lights all were switched on, various data show up on rows of screens, hundreds of technicians staring at the screens, without missing any slightest changes …
‘One minute to go!’
‘Changjiang No.1 found the target!’…
“The firm voice of the controller broke the silence of the whole ship. Now, the target is captured 12 seconds ahead of the predicted time …
‘The air pressure in the cabin is normal!’
“Ten minutes later, the ship disappears below the horizon. Warm clapping and excited cheering breaks the night sky, echoing across the silent Pacific Ocean.”

Xinhua, the state-run news service, is attributing the posting to a “technical error”. No explanation for why they already have the story written complete with dialogue.

The Shenzhou 7 mission (meaning “sacred vessel) carried three taikonauts (the Chinese term for Astronauts) into space on the country’s third manned space mission in five years and feature China's first-ever spacewalk. It took off Thursday 27th September (or 2 days after the article!)
Let's hope Xinhau at least comes up with some fresh quotes from the astronauts.
Zhai Zhigang, an unsuccessful candidate for the previous two manned missions, is the astronaut who carried out the walk. The two other astronauts were Jin Haipeng and Liu Boming. They are all 42-year-old fighter pilots. And because it’s the little details that count (!), they had a choice of nearly 80 foods, including spicy "kung-pao" chicken. They also took traditional Chinese medicine made of more than ten herbs to treat space motion sickness.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

One Cannot Go To Japan...

...And Not Talk About Toilets!

So first of all here’s the picture:

So many options...

So many options, so little time… Do I want a warm heated seat, a bidet function with a strong or weak water flow, have my backside spritz and dried and let’s not forget the deodorization and the auto flushing.

Some customers are willing to fork over amounts ranging from about $750 to nearly $2,000 (before attaching the toilet itself!). High-end all-in-one toilets can run $5,000

In Japan – where Western-style commodes replaced the traditional squat-style affair only three decades ago – the porcelain throne has attained something of a royal status. A quotidian workhorse is now a high-tech, multifeatured must-have that elicits almost reverential observations.
For Japanese today, it’s so important that one type of toilet seat is an advertised feature at hotels. The Washlet – a seat that adds a bidet function and so much more to a regular toilet – evokes warm feelings. That may be, in part, because some of the toilets literally heat up and light up when you walk in the room. […] The fixtures are found in 70 percent of residential homes and in countless public facilities.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Choose Your Airline Company


We are back in Beijing and it’s a good thing we didn’t take this airplane…

Gas price couldn’t have gotten that high, could it?

From the Daily Mail
The great heave forward... Chinese passengers are forced to get out and push their broken passenger plane
Anyone who has ever used budget airlines know only too well how uncomfortable it can be: long queues, cramped seats and every tiny extra costs you.
But at least they are never told to get out and help push their plane.
That is exactly what happened to a group of passengers in China who were asked to get out and push after their plane broke down shortly after landing.
The Chinese Shandong airlines flight CRJ7 arrived safely at Zhengzhou from Guilin, but broke down before it could taxi to the passenger terminal.
Airport staff were called out to help push, but they had to ask some of the 69 passengers on board to help because the plane would not budge.
It took the group nearly two hours to shove the plane half a mile to a side lane.
One of the airport workers said: 'Thank God it was only a 20-ton medium-sized aeroplane. If it were a big plane, it would have knocked us out.'
The plane remained parked in the side lane on Friday night, waiting for technicians arriving on the next flight to fix the problem.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Let's Go See...

...Where The Sun Rises

A selection of pictures from our trip to come... soon!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What Will Louis Do...

...Without The Japanese?

LV everywhere

Louis Vuitton brand has a 28 percent share of the handbag market in Japan and Japan accounts for more than half of Louis Vuitton’s global sales.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

No Groping Here

Hands Off