Yet More Sax in the Park!
'Yet More Sax in the Park!'
T.hat's twice ,now.. in two very different parks, on dfferent continentswhere I lived by or went to exercise early in mornings and found a pretty good sax-player sitting on a bench happily people-watching and playing his horn-WONDERFUL,rivetting!(Jan10,2016-K.P.)
Why would anyone clean something that is clearly not dirty? I suppose if you were trying to look busy, or if you knew your boss was watching, maybe. Same thing applies to why clean something several times..? Oh...-unless you're not doing a very good job to begin with....? There's a lot of that here.Time and energy better spent on something else, I might think... (May16,2015-Kim P.)
Also entitled, "The HaND THAT fEEDS yOU" from the shouldn't bite the hand thst feeds you-malarky:families and native-birth countries. We're not supposed to criticize them
why..? because we all know THEY ARE PERFECT,FLAWLESS, right..?(Dec29,2015-Kim P.)
"The Four Percent Help!"
In some distant lands, the help you most needin any given moment always comes too little and too late. After you've fallen down the last few steps, a wave of four to six people are bound to rushonoverto you, tap you on the shoulder and say, "BeCareful!" Or, again just in my personal experience, but after you've struggled by yourself for adew minutes in tryoing to do a task, some will rush over, commandeer the last 5-10 seconds of the job, saying,"Let me do it, Here I'll do that!" For appearance sake-to others it looks like they're being helpful! Yike.s Who ya foolin' now? It's a facade.After you've done 96 percent of the task..., of making and baking the cake-many of them will muscle their way in to put the icing onIs that the REAL dragon, lady?.(May15,2915-K.P.)
m Repairmen? Doctors? It's all the same in some places... first come, first serve, take a number, go to a cramped, crowded room and wait your turn beside someone who's eating very garlicky perogies.What time is the repairman coming?Tommorrow afternoon. When? After lunch. But what time?He didn't say; when he can, I guess. oHThey don't like to make appointments becsause 9 out of 10 times, they won't show up. Of course, it was raining that day, so he didn't come!No calls, no apologies, no rearrangement of possible times. Nope. What!?! How does anyone ever get anything done? (read another strut in that 'cultural-gap': see time differently.Yeah, I know- I knew a fellow once who was like that after he smoked a bit of weed. (May11,2015-K.P.)
"Special Housing Units"-WHAT?? nO t.v, OR BALCONY??
Did you know we had "SUPER -MAXIMUM SECURITY PENETENTIARIES(or 'super-max!)?Me either because in my naivete I allways thought the Maximum secirity places had things covererd for those REALLY BAD-ASSES. Now I discover,it's a bit like menstruation: you have youR lighter,ordinaruy days, your heavy days and your super-heavy days. NFL commentator an former coach, John Madden had his version of the EXTRA-LARGE which he called aptly, "JUMBO-HEAVY!" FOR WHEN HE SENT IN THE BIGGEST MEN HE HAD AS BLOCKERS for a run."Kotex-Plus"?These guys-and they ARE-ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY GUYS- are put into the nice-sounding"special housing units", otherwise anf formerly known as solitary confinement where they are constantly monitored by CCT's, have no windows, no outside contact, have food delivered through a small barred porthole(dubbed 'bean-holes', and are allowed out of their cells for 1 hour each day. In somne areas, they call these places, "Gated Communities".(May 01st,2015-Kim P.)
HELP!-Thanks-but no thank you..."
So a nice man, a neighbor sees me struggling to hold open the door as I straighten my chair to enter our building. Thing is-almost like flood-proof naval vessels, there's a thick solid-steel 3 inch high door jam that I must do a small 'wheely' over before continuing on inside. If I hit the jam too strongly or too fast the abrupt stop can hurl me out of my chair onto the dirty cold concrete floor! Really to be avoided at all costs!He continues pushing me after'we've hit the jam. I can get dpwnright snarly here at that point in telling someone to stop-because two things are happening:one-I ask myself- is how can ANYONE not see this high metal barrier..? and, two he (&many others) show not a whit of physics understanding to recognize when the tires stop, the chair stops, and then I probably would no longer be in the chair but looking up furiously from my back!Frustrating..? No-Infuriatiing!. Don't care if 'help' is offered ever.... if it's idiotic and mighht endanger me. Simple Chinese help-thanks,but no thanks. (May01st,2015-K.P.
Thebest I've come up with yet and I'll use it again, here... is that China is a 'deliciously paradoxical' country. Take the language which is at once highly complex and yet quite simplistic, almost childlike-what I would have been tempted twenty years ago to refer to as 'infantese' which psychologists and counsellors cautioned us all to avoid because it was actually found to inhibit and retard true language-acquisition and development. First, its rythms are tri-syllabic whereas the dominent Western English is di or bi-syllabic, thanks in large part to Shakespeare's perfecting of 'iambic pentameter' and the dipthong(not string-panties for stupid women, either!) It is a tonal language where delicate intonations of one phoneme change its meaning entirely. At the same time, the language is riddled with short, choppy phrases, grunting(as acknowledgement) and easy-to-answer questions, all of which are repeated endlessly: good/not good?, it is/it isn't?Yes/Not Yes? People will often start their speech by using a few words spoken by the other; in fact, that is most of the time A lot of it, the subject matter seems banal and mundane- or at least to this untrained western observer. "Going to the grocery store to buy something..?To which the response often is,"Yes, I'm going to the store to buy some food." "Look , I got all these potatoes for under 5 quai/yuan(80 cents..) "You got all those for under 5 quai. Really? Not really? "Really, I got all those for under 5 quai!" I'm a hundred miles away by the time the predictable reply is put forth.There is a LOT of repetition of words and phrases which, generally, I can't stand because it indicates weak/poor communication skills on both expressing and receiving ends. (April29,2015-Kim P) Biting the hand some here,,,,oh well.
"One Hand Free For the Phone?"(HALF-ASSED!)
lJust the other day, my aide and I passed a man/worker outside with a bucket and long-handled scrub brush trying to wash clean a dirty stain from the wall of a building. He had one hand on the brush.. which means he was applying little to no pressure at the removal at all, and better yet, his focus/gaze was somewhere else entirely; he wasn't even looking at the spot he was supposed to be cleaning. An all-too familiar scene and representive of China and a lot of her woes:people often LOOK busy cleaning something, butin truth, are doing a half-assed job of it.Migrant farmers trying to resettle in thebig city and provide for their families back home in the village(which in itself is admirable-but at huge cost in the poor quality of work that is ofrten being done). Some of whom, after a 'good' 30 minutes of on-the-job-training, are then left to do the plumbing or welding in residential buildings, no less-light switches are often connected/wired backwardsThey are often left to do work normally assigned(in developed countries) to certified, professional tradesmen in most of the rest of the world who care and take pride in doing the best job they can given their skills and knowledge-base. But most-often here those jobs have been quickly assigned to clock-watching men who care little of what they do and furthermore, have probably been given unrealistic goals by their foremen on how many widgets they make, or toilets they connect, or light-switches they hook up,or windows they hang..by the end of the shift!. Get the picture?
i MUST ADMIT!"(Stranger in a Strange Land 2?)
Of the many glaring"cultural differences" that exist one of my personal and biggest bugaboos is the flagrant discrimination Chinese exhibit regularly whether it is on a personal individual social level, or the worst- applying for jobs:9 of every 10 Chinese companies request/demand a photo be included in your application package- something that has been considered illegal in many jurisdictions in North America and Europe for some time ,now. Not only are they looking at skin colour/race/ethnicity, but also how pleasing your features are! If you're cross-eyed, have a hairlip, nose-ring or scars on your face from years on the rugby pitch or hockey rink, then you migh not be deemed satisfactory.By comparison, the daily stuff some of us have to tolerate with constantly being called a "lauwai" or "waiguoren" = outsider, foreigner... palesOh, for sure, they want the foreigner's cash, capital, investmen- just not always the foreigner, himself..(April15,2015-Kim P.)
"JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED!"
Aha. Just saw a documentary news-feature the other day... how many of the bigger Chinese hospitals, of course, have to generate their own revenues to help cover ooerating costs, including staff salaries.One of the best ways for them to do that is by having their doctors over-prescribe some of the more expensive medicines. Who in governmenta circles cannot see how problemmatic that situation is.And yet the spotlight-but of course- is shone on the one man guilty of corruption being extrradicted from the U.\s. and being marshalled in handcuffs to the plane.Meanwhile, thousands pof people each day are told to buuy expensive prescriptions- some of whose cost pays the doctor's salary and keeps the gas tank full in his gas-guzzling, magnificent Toyota Highlander! Yowee!(April15,2015-KimP.)
"Say It Ain't So, Joe."(1 room for natives, one room for foreigners!)
Unfortunately I've just had recently confirmed by my own wife who , now that her parents are visiting,is suddenly putting her best foot forward by doing some sweeping and mopping in the home which I've rarely seen otherwise; it's the old flat, stale, 2-dimnensional thinking of a tiny mindt whose work ethic suddenly improves now that the boss/owner/parents are in sight.Yep, there'a an awful lot of that, here. The counttry, sad to say, is full of 'em. 'Son, you can't handle the truth!'That's where the attention should be focused, not on creating a better robot for the widget assembly line!, or a new app that lets people try on clothes in the comfort of their own living room, or a facial recognition scan that will ve adapted for video-gaming in a matter of weeks!(April14,2015-Kim P.)That last one, however, does hold the promise of bgi money... maybe mikitary and space-exploration use..?(April14,2015-Kim P.)
"The One-Winged Dragon"(YOU MISSED A SPOT...:)
LThey have these "mini-brooms"for sweeping that require only the one hand- and that-I'm sorry to say- is a powerfu, pricelessl metaphor for the country. One hand on the brush and sweeping multiple times in near-dark conditions. I can watch an in-law sweep an area maybe 5-6 times, come away with possibly half a teaspoon of dust and debris... and then leave the door open behind her where a gust of wind blow in more dust than she's collected already.Efficiency?! She's come this far on one wing-but can you just imagine how fast she could fly if she ever decided to use both wings at the same time!!?? (April 12,2015-Kim P.)
"No sparing the Rod, here, China!"(OUCH!!)
After you've been here f a while , you come to understand that the place or its thinking largely is ;I'vepunitive and blameful. The rod is not spared here for either thechild or the dog- both can be asnd are whacked pretty hard when slow to obey a command. Not something I agree with, but it is what it is;it's where North America was 40-50 years ago, when corporal punishment was meted out liberally and usually in a timely fashion. Speaking for myself, if I got it at school, I knew I was in for a second round at home, and twice as bad from a strong man whose one hand could wallop both my cheeks simultaneously!Sure did make you think, alright- about your transgression, and how big some man's hands grew!(April 11,2015-Kim P.)
A little gripe , I suppose for a culture based on food and talking. From haggling over the cost of a dozen eggs, buying clothes, there is an artful skill to successful negotiation. However, it can and sometimes does lead elsewhere, like some of them talking on matters they know nothing of, or believing that they can talk themselves pretty much in ,or out of most everything!(from parking violations to pimping young women for prostitution. The police camera has him clesrly slapping both girls' faces hard-doesn't matter.., he will try to talk himself out of it. They asked me to do that, if they were ever disobedient; it's for their own protection!Tape his mouth shut, take him away and castrATE HIM, out back in the parking lot!(oops-did I say that?) April10,2015-Kim P.)
"IT AIN'T ALL WHAT IT SEEMS!"(SURREAL China?!
I guess it's silly of me to have expected differently, but not long ago while talking to Chinese friends we had over for dinner, it was made very clear that the news I was getting as a foreign-national watching their English-news station... was very different, inconsistent,if you will, than with what they were receiving on the Chinese stations. Just one prominent example of too many to list of them holding on to appearances(the all-important FACE! while maybe doing something else altogether behind the scenes.. Like the clock-watchers and boss-watchers I frankly detest, the waitressees run faster, custodians put more elbow-grease into the shine, and the beautiful shiny, new tiles are glued over the crumbling old brick wall. Our own aide/helper is no different in that regard and will madly mop and dust when my wife is nesrby; I see her the rest of the time to know she doesn't give the same attention at all to her work. I know the thinking, and was even guilty of it a few times myself early on while in new positions- but it never felt right, I don't like it all- and don't have much respect for those who do. Just the way it is.There's little to no pride taken in the work when the employee is simply trying to stretch out their time for another hour or two pay, or is hurrying to finish that last task so they don't miss their bus HOME! If there has been any hesitstion on the parts of some countries to join the China-led AIIB, then I think that is why:transparency,or lack of it throughout the process, and once established just whose standards will they follow..?There's no one better at putting together the shiny,glossy advertising brochures- which of course never pan down to include pictures of cracked and crumbling foundations due to bad cement-pours among the myriad poor construction practises. Strong feelings, I know.(April10,2015-KimP.)
"LOOK WHAT I FOUND!"
I.'ve sat on both ends of the employment-lining teeter-totter, and know full-well that as a white-collar professional working in an climate-controlled office tower or school that most of us were largely ignorant of the lower classes and the scraping and clawing for subsistence that was going on all around us every day at ground level. Life is hard and pennies are counted and saved toward a possible future meal. Even today, in this retirement villa-compound where we moved to two yeasrs ago now, I watch out my rear balcony window every day the same 15-20 people ride by to the garbage/recycling bins across the parking-space in an adjacent building. They slow, they stop, they furtively glance around like a scavenger might do-ever watchful of larger more threatening predators still lngering nesrby. Then first one lid is opened, then another. Plastic bottles? Metal cans? cardboard scraps? All are separated out and tossed into the back box of their bike. (April07,2015-Kim P.)
"Not Quite in the Loop!"
Things, here, seem much more "CONTINUOUS-CIRCULAR",you know-like almost never-ending... the driving(lots of U-turns, even in intersections!), food preparation and eating(seems we barely leave the table from one meal to the next some days..), and ,of course, the talking/conversation.As limited and small asmy Chinese is, it reminds me of waiting for your turn at ump-rope(skipping..), waiting, waiting to catch the rhythm before plunging in.Just when you think there's a long-enough pause, it continues on, and you're still left on the periphery looking in...In that one sense, it is very different from the "STOP AND GO-LINEAR NATURE OF MOST WESTERN CULTURES, where even most conversations are guided by 'intersections' and 'traffic laws''(-read disyllabic ryhthms and punctuation. Most times your effort to join in is unsuccessful and awkward-but,... YOU GOT TO TRY,RIGHT?(April05,2015-Kim P.)
"Thanks for Listening-No, Really!"
It's a beef, got i?. One of the most commonly hesrd exoressions, here, is "Xie,Xie" (pronounced like shay-shay, meaning 'thank you..) But I am reminded of corner store proprietors while growing up that could extend an srm and hand with your change, mutter a less-than-sincere thank you and never look you in the eye. Most of what I hear here is of the same variety- said hurriedly, almost dismissively- and after a while it becomes pretty much that- meaningless. Just saying something a lot, especially when it's redundant to begin with, doesn't add substance or difgnity to it at all!(March29,2015-Kim P.)
No, thank you."'HELPLESS IN SEATTLE..?')
The help isn't always so helpful,here,I'm afraid. And good intentions are never near-enoughBit like the blind man helped across the road- when he didn't want to go therre in the first place! It often comes 1-2 minutes late, and the help always presumes to know what is needed without asking the central subject. Hmmm..we're definitely not in Kansas anymore Toto,nope. (March19,2015-Kim P.)
"The LONG and short of things!"(S.P.A.)
sMALL pENIS aNXIETY..? No, fortunately I have enough other anxieties that I somehow managed to escape that one.Never been a worry, never been a concern.It may have been an issue for the French emperor, Napoleon (a very complex-man..?) although history has also shown he fathered at least three children(No, none with his greatest love, Josephine), perhaps Adold Hitler, too? Some tenets in psychology would have us believe that:you know, it's the small dogs who bark the most, and want more than their share!What's all this getting to? Chinese men have been considered small for a long time, for anumber of reasons. But it's not about how long your arrows are, but if they hit the target- and numbers alone bear out proof that Chinese men are very accurate, if nothing else, at finding the bullseye. Trouble is-for me, anyway-that they seem to shrink when they use the urinals in public washrooms, so that many miss the catch-basin almost entirely with teir streams, leaving urine-puddles in front of 8 out of the ten urinals available! Come on guys-move in closer, will ya?!! YIKES! (March18,2015-Kim P.)
CRABBING AT THE SKY...
Sure, there's a widely-recognized hustle-bustle persistent buzz of activity there .But for all the effort and commotion a crab seems to make, he only ever moves sideways-there is little to no forward progress.. Just afinger scratch(swipe..?)instantly reveals that veneer and barely disguised reality when teven its own gov't recently announced, confirmed that the poverty-line was 7 Yuan, or about 1.25 U.S. per day.
Many of her citizens in this clearly and STILL developing nation are squeaking by, and supplementing their incomes by garbage-sorting for any cans/bottles that are recyclable and could fetch enough for their next meal(50 cents will do it!)I watch from awindow daily and see several dozen folk dong just that by sorting through the waste and recycling containers of an adjacent building.Reminds me some of when we were back living in Vsncouver, and one day at a local McDonald's I watched a homeless man scrounge through garbage until he found and emerged with a half-eaten cheeseburger for his lunch.All is never as it appears .(March10,2015Kim P.)
LOOK SAD, LOOK SURPRIZED! LOOK SHOCKED."
Ei SUPPOSE YOU MIGHT READ 'CULTURE GAP', HERE,but in the West, we are accustomed to a single-perspective narrator telling the story. In China, a culture premised on talking, you're much more likely to get an ensemble cast of characters telling the story through much choppy dialogue and multiple quick-cut close-up's!. He didn't move his army last night to conceal them behind the mountain. But , why not? Our scouts found them at first light today. He wanted to stay close to the compound and protect his mother in case GeneralXu wintang sent assassins. Oh!There were many-he would have heard them approaching? Not with the storm last night-the perfect cover for evil-doers. March05,2015-Kim P.)
The Dragon.. without her Young..?
China would be nothing without the kids. This high-context culture, as fanily-centered as it is depends on children being around. Her red-hot economic engines have been fueled by this fact, too for HALF A CENTURY In that same time, the country was under the "ONE-CHILD POLICY"- BUT IT'S PRETTY CLEASR-IF ONE WERE TO JUDGE BY NUMBERS SALONE THAT NO ONE paid any heed.This high-context culture, ironically enough has individual,fspecialized wordsfor "older and younger brother and sister" In fact Often is the time you'd be hard-pressed in meeting someone who ha sno siblings! Oops.Good news is thatis what has made her economy so strong for decades;bad news is you have to employ, feed and house those increasing numbers of people following the global trend of them flocking to cities or creating entirely new ones. Sprawl.(March25,2015-Kim P.)
"The China Fix- SCREW THAT!!"
Almost as bad as the China jo, itself.You know.. that whole"made in China" thing, a label that has been held up for ridicule, now, for generations.We have two of those flat joiner-runners(strips of metal covering/joining the seams where floor laminate or tile meets the door jams. With my heft in the chai going back and forth over them 20-30 times each day, they work there way up and loose. A repairman comes.. I'm thinking. looking and know he simply has to drill holes in 5-6 places in rach and pop in short screws to keep these runners flty and flush to the floor. Will he? Does he? No, of ourse not nstead, there's a whole fluttering pre-productinj enabling him to then
GLUE them back in place. I start shaking my head and whining out loud, "No-that's not good enough, It NEEDS SCREWS!!. I had even found 5-6 smaller screws for him to use-whuich he dismisse dout of hand as being too large. Yeah, and then we don't see or hear a problem from the runners for 3 years, maybe ever again! But no, I am vetoed. Here we are, now... just about aeek later- and oneof them is alreadfy starting to peel upward again. I hatet being right all the time-it's tedious, you know! (MARCHY29,2015-kIM p.)