Sunday, June 14, 2009

Firewall Fun Fact

The internet filtering we experience here is sometimes odd and unpredictable. There are two primary filtering mechanisms: a "blacklist" of specifically prohibited sites (such as, *, *, etc); and a "URL filter" - any web address that contains a prohibited term, such as (for the sake of illustration) "pen". The party in charge doesn't make either of their lists public, and both lists are subject to unannounced change. One recent change, for example, was the addition of * to the blacklist.

From what I can tell, the affect of trying to visit site on the "blacklist" results in nothing more than the site failing to load.The effect of trying to visit a web address that contains a prohibited term, though, is that your internet access is suspended for one or two minutes. You can tell which filter you've run into by the affect it has on your browsing experience.

That's the background for this afternoon's google search.

When you type a term into the google search box and hit enter, google loads the "search results" page- which contains in its address the term searched for. The search results page (and is not on the "blacklist," but because of the way Google dynamically generates search results, any terms you search for will still be subject to the URL filter. Consequently, you can occasionally discern what hot-button terms you're not allowed to google for.

Today's secret word is "triangle."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Joke of the Day

Question: "What happens when a Chinese person turns around in circle many many times?"

Answer: "They become disoriented!"

Wally's Answer: "That's stupid."

Wally's great. He has a good sense of humor.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Chinese Haircut

In many Asian countries, getting one's hair cut is more than just a trim with scissors or a clippers. It almost always begins with getting your hair washed, and frequently includes a head and neck massage, an arm massage, and sometimes also an upper-back massage and/or an ear cleaning.

I experienced this Saturday night. Shannon and I went out to a different part of the city (the Xia Li Pu district, for future travelers) for dinner and to look at shops, and we went to a typical Chinese hair care shop. It seems more similar to an American salon then to a traditional barbershop, probably because of the washing and styling equipment. Shannon had been there earlier in the week with some friends, so the staff recognized us when we walked in. Talking through a telephone translator, we told them that I wanted a hair cut with "the works."

I got my hair washed, a scalp/neck/arm/upper back massage, my ears cleaning, my hair cut, and my hair washed again. I think the whole process took about 45 minutes, for a total cost of 40 RMB.*

It's going to be hard to go back to SuperCuts.

* The current exchange rate is about 6.85 RMB per USD, so 40 RMB works out to about $5.84.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Quick Notes

1. My blog is blocked! Due to the significance of today's date in Chinese history, internet filtering has been increasing for the past week or so. Many sites have been added to the "blocked" category, primarily those sites which host user-gerenated content, such as youtube, wordpress, and blogspot. I usually post to this blog via email so I think this update will show up, but since I can't view it directly I won't know for sure.

2. Our water got fixed! In a recent post (The most recent one, I think) I mentioned that we were without water. It's back now. We don't really know why it was out.

3. It's been raining! The past three days have been very wet. I think it's seasonal.

4. Our time here is drawing to a close. We plan on leaving in just under two months.  :-(

5. The school and CTI China are both recruiting new teachers so if you're interested in teaching English, working with children, seeing a new culture, or getting first-hand information about life in China, let me know!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Our water is out!

Last night, as Shannon was leaving for work, we found out that the faucet in our bathroom sink wasn't giving us any water. And neither was the faucet in the Kitchen sink. And the toilet wasn't flushing.

This was a bit disconcerting.

Evidently, the column that our apartment is in is having problems with water supply. The maintenance man worked on it last night, but as of this morning it's still out.

We can't wash dishes until the water comes back*, so this means takeout for lunch!

* Depending on how long the water is out, we'll figure out a way to wash dishes.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


The school we're teaching at is actively recruiting English teachers for the 2009-2010 school year.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring in Wenzhou

Spring has come to Wenzhou!

Winter clothes are boxed up in preparation for shipping them home, long-sleeve shirts are on hangers in the back of the closet, and a sweatshirt (for emergencies) is hanging by the door. It's Springtime!

It's been getting steadily warmer for the past few weeks, with last week finally being consistently warm enough to feel "springy". It's nice.

Flowers are blooming, the trees are bright green, and we can frequently hear birds while we're out and about.

It's nice.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Pizza Night!

Last night was Pizza Night. The four of us got together at Jessica's apartment and made pizza. We each provided part of the ingredients, chipped in with the assembly and baking process, and had a blast.

We ended up with 9 9" pizzas at a total cost of about 65 RMB- everything (but the cheese) was from scratch, and all the ingredients (except the cheese) were cheap. We had fresh pizza dough, fresh pineapple, fresh onion, fresh mushrooms, fresh bell pepper, fresh tomato, fresh broccoli, fresh pizza sauce, recently-fresh chicken fingers, and fresh corn (it's a Chinese thing, apparently).

Jessica and Shannon made a fruit pizza for dessert. It had fresh cookie crust, vanilla pudding, fresh apples, fresh bananas, fresh strawberries, raisins, dried kiwi, and almonds.


Friday, January 09, 2009

It's Cold Here!

I'm sitting at my desk at the language center, looking out a deceptively sunny cityscape. Unlike the past week, the sun is shining brightly and warming everything in it's path. Just like the past week, however, the temperature is somewhere between the mid 30's and the mid 40's with a stiff cold wind.

When I asked my middle school students two weeks ago what time of year it gets cold in Wenzhou, every one of them said (emphatically) "It doesn't get cold in Wenzhou! It's warm all year!"

According to my research, the students are mistaken- it gets cold in Wenzhou at the beginning of January.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Our Neighborhood

Over the past few weeks, I've taken a few panoramic pictures of our neighborhood.

To complement the view from our front door, this is the view of our front door- it's on the top floor, in the middle along the far wall.

This is looking east at night from the window in the 8th floor by our elevator.

This is what we see when we look out our dining room window during the morning. The dining room shares the same exterior wall as the kitchen, so this is also the view we have when we're washing dishes.

This is the street that runs past the west side of our apartment- our dining room window is located in the middle of the picture, underneath the horizontal red neon characters - it's the top floor on this side of the building. This picture was taken from an overhead "pedestrian circle/crosswalk" at a traffic intersection. Moving from left to right, the first few buildings are apartments, the building with the vertical neon characters is a restaurant, next is an apartment building, then the vertical green lights (I don't remember what that building is), then there is a building with stair-step dark windows on a light tile exterior- that's our apartment building. Next to that is a nondescript light-colored building (another set of apartments), then a building with a diagonal grid of lights-a kareoke bar-followed by a building with a row of round lights, which is another kareoke bar.
You can't see the street level very well in the picture, but there are three bread shops, a music store, two electric appliace stores, a few small restaurants, and many small clothing shops on this section of street. We live in a busy neighborhood.

This intersection is a short (5-7 minute) walk from our apartment. If you zoom in far enough, you might make out on the left-hand side of the opposite corner (the North-West corner) the emblem of an internationally-acclaimed American tourist rendezvous point- a solid red circle emblazoned with two golden arches. It's our neighborhood McDonald's! On the right-hand (North-East) corner is a mid-to-upscale clothing store (Kai Tai), with a drugstore in the basement. Farther to the right, out of the picture, is the South-East corner with a typical small shop/Apartment building. Behind me on the South-West corner is the International Hotel, a upper-end clothing mall, and an underground Pizza Hut.

This is the Pizza Hut. The fact that it's in a basement is surprisingly non-evident.

A bit farther east (Another 20-25 minutes by foot) is Europe City. Europe City is home to an upscale clothing mall, a mid-scale clothing mall, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Trust-Mart,* several other restaurants, and an import grocery store.

This is a picture at Europe City from outside the mid-scale shopping mall. You can see the Pizza Hut in the lower left-hand corner. The towers in the center are on the up-scale shopping mall. Directly behind me is the new Papa John's. It's delicious.

- Jonathan

* Trust-Mart is a Chinese affiliate of Wal-Mart. They carry a few of the Wal-Mart house brands, such as GreatValue and Mainstays.