Thursday, August 26, 2010


Many people think that China is a dirty place, and although many people do threw their waste everywhere, in some ways it is cleaner than the USA. Everyday I see many people sweeping or picking up the streets. There are also people that go through the trash for plastic, glass or cardboard for recycling. Some people go through the city collecting old computers and other things from peoples homes for recycling. They even recycle concrete. The Chinese may litter the streets but their homes are spotless on the inside. They also are very clean people when it comes to their hygiene. Western people might find it difficult to use a hole in the ground for a tiolet but the Chinese don't understand why someone would want to sit on a tiolet seat that other people have sat on, passing on germs. They are not perfect, but who is? We could all learn something from each other.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dinner and a movie.

For the last month I have been tutoring Mei’s son, Na Na, as has several of the Ivy staff. He is 20 years old and attends college in Harbin, the provincial capital, studying industrial design and graphics. He was just home for the summer to spend time with his family. Since Mei is the director of Ivy, she arranged for him to get some tutoring. She wants him to do graduate school in the states. During our tutoring secessions he asked many questions about my family and showed an interest in Spot, so I invited him for dinner and a movie on Monday. It is customary for guest visiting someone’s home for the first time to bring a gift. He brought a case of beer. After meeting the family we went out back and played Frisbee with Spot. Na Na isn’t used to dogs and wasn’t expecting Spot to be as big as he is. At first he was a little scared but soon got used to him and they became friends. I fixed spaghetti and we watched a movie ‘Fearless’, which takes place in China 100 years ago. The movie is in Chinese with English subtitles so he was able to enjoy the movie without having to think so hard about the English. He said he liked dinner and when he left got Susan’s e-mail and gave me not one but two hugs. I think he had a good time.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wedding day.

Certain days are lucky to get married. Last week had one of those days. It was the 16th day of the 8th month on the solar calendar and the 7th day of the 7th month on the lunar calendar. Today I woke to find a small crane outside the front of our building across the parking lot. It was doing the most important work that a crane can do in China; holding up a large amount of firecrackers for a wedding. This turned out to be the grooms home. We watched the crowds of people and black cars decorated in red streamers and flowers. Soon the groom came out and the wedding precession left, while some people stayed behind to set-up more fireworks. After some time the groom returned with his bride and the fireworks were lit. Not long after we got here we saw a wedding out back of our building that was the counterpart to this part of the ritual. It was were the groom came to collect his bride to take home. Both parts have the precession and firecrackers and some sort of decoration. When the groom shows up to get the bride he must argue with the bridesmaids to prove his honorable intentions. After the bride and groom return to his home they soon leave again to start the wedding banquet, which is sometimes more important than the ceremony. As I understand it, the ceremony varies and is a minor part of the wedding, although I have never witnessed one myself. After night fall the final part of the wedding is the burning of  money to honor the spirits of the ancestors. We can see this sort of thing all over the city and is done by the main roads so everyone can witness.

 "Spirit money is most often used for ancestor veneration but has also been known to be used for other purposes such as a gift from a groom's family to the bride's ancestors. Spirit money has been said to have been given for the purpose of enabling their deceased family members to have all they will need or want in the afterlife. It has also been noted that these offerings have been given as a bribe to Yanluo to hold their ancestors for a shorter period of time."


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Thursday, August 19, 2010


This city, like all cities in China, have a large amount of taxis and buses. There are still a lot of bicycles, e-bikes, motorcycles and mopeds. Some cities don't allow bicycles, e-bikes, motorcycles or mopeds. They feel that the public transportation is good enough without having the problems, such as cluttering the streets and sidewalks and weaving dangerously through traffic. Some cities have subway systems. It seems here, that there are just as many taxis as there are any other vehicles. Most of the taxis and all the public buses run on compressed natural gas (CNG). China's population is still growing and more of the people are moving to the cities. Because of the 'one child policy' the average age of China is getting younger. This younger, wealthier and freer younger generation has caused China to become the largest market in the world for automobile sales. With all the cities growing both with population and cars, the problem of smog and air pollution are also growing. To help fight this China has put into place policies that have led to the widespread use of CNG vehicles in mass and public transportation. China is cleaning up its act; what about the USA?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


My wife did the blog last about homeschooling and did a fine job but it has been two weeks since I last did a blog, so this is going to be a mix of topics to bring you up to date.

DJ likes it when the dog plays ball.

DJ is talking so sweet these days and sometimes wakes in the night to talk.

DJ likes to play ball.

DJ can set-up really well now.

DJ likes it when her big sister Suzanne shares her soft chocolate chip cookies.

It's hard work being a baby. Like many of the Chinese, she will take a nap anywhere she can.

Jiamusi is hosting the provincial sporting events and they had a parade of floats and fireworks for the opening day. This is one of the floats. I don't know what sports. The tickets are too much for us even if we had time. We missed the parade and only heard the fireworks.

For the last month they have been working on remodeling a building we walk by all the time. It now looks like this.

The buildings they are constructing here started out five months ago as a muddy lot and now are eight stories tall.
Everytime we go out walking with DJ we get people stopping us wanting to see.

It was a nice day for a walk yesterday. The temperature was near 85F so it was a little warm. In the picture with Deb, DJ and Suzanne; you can see the train station in the background. The station is at the center of town and this is looking South. We live on the North side of town. Since there are only a few places to get around the tracks, we haven't explored too much of the South side of town. The ladies had been to this part of town before but it was another teacher that told us about the bowling ally just to the East of the station near this park that is across from the station.

The bowling ally only had ten lanes. When we got there at 2pm they were open but was told we had to wait until 3pm to bowl. At 2:30pm, a man showed up and turned on the lights and lanes for us to bowl. You have to pay up front for how many games you are going to bowl. It cost 6rmb or just under $1 per game. We didn't have to rent shoes even though they had some. DJ slept some, played some, bowled some, but mostly enjoyed watching us bowl. There was a young couple that came in and bowled a few games. The manager and his friends played cards and then he read the paper waiting for us to finish. When we left at 4:30pm, they locked up and went home. They keep some strange hours that we didn't see posted. The bathrooms were not kept clean. On one side of the bowling ally is an indoor pool that is no longer in use and on the other side is a gym that is no longer in use. I don't know why they are closed. You can wonder if it is because of the hours and dirty bathrooms why more people don't bowl or if it is because more people don't bowl that they keep such short hours and don't keep up with things. I think it is because bowling is a western culture thing. We still enjoyed bowling again and it was nice to see something made in USA for a change besides us. All the equipment was Brunswick. Deb bowled five games and I bowled five games for a total of around $9.

The teachers assistants and Mei were enjoying some corn after classes last night at Ivy. We don't like the corn. It is a winter corn and not very sweet. It taste like wax to us. DJ's 1st birthday is on saturday the 28th of August and we will caring some stuff to Ivy to have a little party there.

We have seen several large sunflowers around the city and this one is just outside our apartment.

I showed this video to DJ and she was very excited to have aother baby that talked the same language she did. Every time she goes by a mirrored surface she likes to wave at the baby.

Mid morning nap.