Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Butter and Cheese Question

The first day I went to Berlin, Germany, started my life in the Western countries. I watched a lot of Western movies before that point in my life, however, my feeling then was "things are rather different here than those in my mother country". 

Chinese do not have many dairy products on the market except milk and yogurt. Butter and cheese are things that are typical foreign products (yang2 huo4) in people's eyes. Naturally, ordinary people never tasted them in their lives, including me when I was in China. However, every one knows they are made of milk. 

With this knowledge in my mind, I went to Germany, the first Western country ever. I happened to be invited by the boss for a dinner just a few days after I arrived. At dinner table, I sincerely put forward a question: "What is the difference between butter and cheese?" People at the table answered me sincerely and thoroughly. Suddenly, I was so clear of their difference for the first time in my life. I gained knowledge! This was my only thinking at that moment.

Months passed after that dinner. I got acquainted with other Ph D students in the same department. Some thought I was cute! One day, a Canadian girl S could not help iterating my question of butter and cheese. By then, I finally realized how silly and cute I was when I was asking that question. On the other hand, I believe that people at the same dinner table rather amused quietly! 

This question was mentioned quite a few times afterwards by other guys. Thinking back, I guess people at the dinner table were rather polite and understanding. I cannot know if the same reaction will be given elsewhere else. 

BTW, dear readers, do you know the difference between butter and cheese?

Garage Sale

This is the first Summer I live in the American suburb. Throughout the whole summer, Garage Sale signs are all over the places. This is already the 3rd summer I am in the States. Garage Sale has not never been such prevalent around me. I lived in Chicago before I came here. It is next to a joke to have a garage sale there for not many people have a garage in the big city.

As I am a very curious person, I have been wanting to check some GSs out to satisfy my curiosity. My hubby kept telling me people were just getting rid of their junk at GS. Saying goes like "You must see to believe", right? And I am a firm believer of that. Last night, I told my hubby that I would like to go to GSs this Saturday in a tone without any room for discussion. 

Today, I indeed went to 2 GSs. Surprisingly, my hubby went along with me. Things were not to my imagination at all. People did not just get rid of their junk, but also wanted to make a fortune out of it, at least this is true for the 2 I went today. My hubby saw a thermometer for brewing. $10 was requested! My smart hubby had a beer brewing catalog in the car and so he knew the value of it and thus replied to the owner that it was not worthy that much, 5 bucks max! Also other stuff was over priced!!! I just wonder who would buy your junk at this price because my hubby also told me that people wanted to get things cheap. Sign... People are greedy and money driven. On the other hand, some are just cheapskate ("Tan Xiao Pian Yi"). This is exactly another side of greedy and money driven. 

All in all, I am not impressed by today's Garage Sale. However, it is fun to see all the stuff people collect. 

Perhaps, when my hubby has collected enough stuff in our house, I can hold a Garage Sale for once in my life. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008





























Saturday, September 13, 2008

China Blue

China Blue is a documentary movie, shot in Shaxi city, Canton, China. The blue stands for Jeans. Yes, the jeans you and I wear daily. These jeans are made by CHEAP Chinese labors, blended with teenager girls' sweet and sleepless nights. In order to ensure a shipment on time, these young girls practically worked 20 hours straight for few weeks. 

I became very angry while I was watching the movie. The greedy Western merchandisers would threaten the garment factory owner by giving the oder to other factory in order to get the lowest prices. They could make 10 more folds of profit than the garment factory did. After the business negotiation, what the workers faced with was sleepless nights in the factory. They were overdrawing their body for the poor wages. The Westerners are extending their exploiting system far into China now. 

I often heard of that Western countries take advantage of Chinese cheap labor, but I never got this struck after watching this movie. I saw how those workers worked, suffered physically. The sad thing is these poor workers have no other choices, but be exploited, to make a little money to help their even poorer families in the far away villages. What a unfair world. If you are poor, you will be dominated by the rich as much as they want. 

I had to talk to my husband about this movie after I watched it. His reaction is everybody knows this, that is the exact reason why he does not shop at Walmart. Why cann't those companies go to Germany or Britain to get the labor? Because they have strong economy! China still has weak economy! As a Chinese myself, how much I wish my country becomes strong and get treated equally.

Still, I am proud of our rich culture and history, which can not be taken away by the Western, luckily! even though the Western culture is penetrating into China, unfortunately.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The true definition of Ambition

I read the below assay. It strikes me and echoes with my thoughts, too. Well written, Scott Adams!

I believe that ambition is something that drives you forward and makes progress at work, in personal life. I am a very practical person. I do believe that the whole world would be so much better, people would be so much better off if every one of us is dedicated to what s/he is doing and wanting to do something even more advanced, either to improve her/his personal life quality or to fulfill her/his inner satisfaction or even vein some times. 

This is also a sensitive issue between my husband and me. Why is it sensitive? He is not ambitious to my standard, therefore, I am not satisfied. As a result, there is a big gap between my vision and the reality.  

Now read on...

By Scott Adams.

The ambition defect

I once worked with a guy who referred to his older brother as the "white sheep of the family." The older brother was a CEO of a Fortune 500 company while his siblings had no ambitions that extended beyond lunch. That sort of thing makes me wonder about the whole nature versus nurture question. I assume all the kids in this fellow's family had a similar upbringing, but only one had ambition.

When I was a kid, adults often told me I would be rich and famous some day. Apparently I was giving off some sort of ambition vibe early on. I think ambition is a genetic defect. You can't have ambition unless you think there is something wrong with the way you are. Ambition is a state of feeling perpetually flawed. 

By most objective standards, my career has gone well. By my internal standards, I am in a continuous state of not doing enough. A couple of years before he passed, Charles Schulz called me at home to see if I would be interested in a charitable activity he was passionate about. We chatted for awhile, and I don't remember how it came up, but he mentioned that Peanuts greeting cards had just passed the billion cards sold mark. 

Pause to digest.

A billion greeting cards. I wonder if any other artist has ever sold a billion of anything. Unfortunately for me, that instantly became my new yardstick. So if you will excuse me now, I have a lot of work to do because apparently there is something wrong with me.


Getting my driver's license

Today will be my third time to take a road test in East Rochester. 

I underestimated the strictness of this test last year when I was taking it for the first time in my so far life. I did not practice for months after we moved to here. My reason is I was 7 months pregnant. However, this city has useless public transportation, in my eyes, I felt the need to be able to drive a car around. Plus, after the baby came, I did not know when I would be able to take the test. Plus again, perhaps I had good luck, I would drive perfectly out of potential talents, blabla.... (Anyone believes this?) So let's make a road test appointment. It was scheduled on Oct. 26, 2 weeks before my due day. Fortunately, I was still very mobile and agile. The only practice I had before the test was driving home from work the day before the test. I ran into the curb when I was backing up in the parking lot. Great! Anyways, I went to the test area without any feeling of fear or nerve wrecking. I even chatted a bit with the examiner before the test. Driving started, and I failed soon after. I did not wait for the car passing at the stop sign, this is called "near accident"! I lost my mental power from that point on. A bit Flunk! Just as my husband predicted! 

I lost my interest in taking another test for a while. My baby daughter came into this world. I even felt more reluctant to risk her life with me driving the car! So nothing to do with driving for more than half a year. Reality is crucial! I had to get my license sooner or later. 

I started driving between the parking lot at work and the nannies. I felt confident with my driving except parallel parking, which I never practiced. People kept telling me that you still could pass if you failed the parallel parking. OK, I have your words, I can take a test now. I was scheduling a test, which would be on Aug. 8th, 2008. What an auspicious day! It meant for me to pass. I asked my hubby if this date was ok for him to take me to the test area. He insisted on that I needed more practice, perhaps a commercial driving lesson. That would cost me 90 bucks. We don't have that extra money to give away. I would rather use that money to buy something I wanted for long. No lesson needed! In the end, I did not take that appointment after the fight with him. Days passed, I did not practice that much, either. With the 5-hour prelicensing course expiring soon, I had to make another appointment for road test. So it is scheduled on Aug 21st. Later, I realized it was also the exact time my daughter would got her 9 month checkup. I made a bad appointment. I called the peds, no other time available. What a bumper! Test has to be on! Peds visit eventually worked out.  

Time came for my 2nd road test. We were on a mini vacation. So no worries about conflicting with work. We had leisure lunch before heading to the road test. The street leading to the test area we googled was under construction, so we had to follow the detour sign. A car in front of me turned to the left and I decided to follow her/him. Unfortunately, the car made a wrong turn and now we were in the woods. I had to back up. At one point, I stepped on the gas when I wanted to brake. So you can image how that worked. As a result, I got nervous and my hubby got angry with me. We then argued. Argument is common between us. I was very upset at that point since I was going to take the test. I was literally mad at him. My heart beat was faster than when I get really nervous. My test went poorly in the end. I got too intimate from the mistake I made on the way to the test.  The examiner placidly told me that I could make another appointment right away. My tears were out! I had very high expectation from this test and thought I would pass no problem. I did not talk to my husband a word on the way home. 

After I got home, I indeed made another test immediately. That is today.

I focused a lot on this 3rd test. I listened to my husband to take a driving lesson, which cost me 90 bucks and a really early rise on Saturday morning. I drove so confidently even on highway for the first time, which was light and light. I did good with parallel parking and turning. The following Monday, our dear friend P took me to the testing area to practice, focusing on parallel parking. The instructor from the driving school taught me a different strategy than P was teaching me. So I got a bit frustrated with the different instructions. Wednesday noon, we were out again at lunch time. P taught me some tips on braking, which worked like a charm. I practiced on parking over and over again. I actually did well with parallel parking. 

(The following part was written after I came back from the test.)

Time to go to the test. To be fully prepared this time, I suggested to practice a bit before heading on the road. I still did well with parallel parking. OK, set for the test.

I drove to the test area. It was a good drive with P beside me. I was nervous, having fast heartbeat. There were two examiners, a woman and a man. According to the order in the waiting line, I would get the woman examiner, which was what I hoped. The cars were back from the test. We were anticipating whom I would get. The male examiner! Sign... That is it! I confessed to him that I was nervous. He was kind enough to ask me if I had any questions. OK, take off! I was in the driving state. The parallel parking was not the best one I can make, but it was OK. I failed to watch for the car approaching me in time when I was backing up to park. The examiner kindly stopped me. I believe that is the only thing I did wrong. Back to the start point. He said to me "You passed." That is what I have been waiting for all these three times. Finally, I got it! I am so excited! 

I got my driver's license, too, like everybody around me! 

Saturday, September 6, 2008

My baby Audrey went to the Daycare.

After a year on the daycare waiting list, Audrey finally got in as of Sept 2, 2008, when she was 9.5 months old. She joined the room 2. The first day she was more curious than upset, so we did not have much trouble to leave her there, but she cried a lot, refused to take bottles, did not know how to put herself to sleep in the crib. She was so tired when I went to the daycare at lunch time. She dozed off while I was breast feeding her, and woke up the moment I stood up to put her in the crib. In the afternoon, when I went there to pick her up, she was sitting in the crib facing towards the sun, struggling to keep her eyes open and crying intermittently.  As her Mom, I saw a little poor baby abandoned by the staff there. What was she thinking there at that time? I just hope she would not think she was ignored. 

The whole week, she did not nap much at all. She immediately cried every time she saw me coming into the room at the daycare. She becomes clingy to me. 

The worst thing, and the least thing I wanted is she is ill now. Last night she felt HOT when I went up to calm her after she woke up in the evening. My instinct told me that she was ill. Today, she was crying constantly, even in the sleep. I guessed she might have a sore throat. I feel so helpless, I do not know what I can make her feel better. Finally, I gave her some Tylonl. Before long, my energetic baby came back. She was all over the place again. At that moment, I felt so happy for her, out of my deep heart. I never realized that a Mother can actually feel this way before I became one. 

Baby Audrey is a strong girl. I believe that she will get over with the fever and other discomfort soon.