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!