Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The Ugly #1, #2, and #3

1. Fingernail-grooming kit I was on the train back from Beijing last week and noticed one of my fellow passengers grooming his fingernails with what looked like the top half of a tiny toy train. It turned out to be a two-piece model of a high-speed train which the railroad company was selling to passengers. Inside was a five-piece fingernail-grooming… (more…)

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The Bad #3, #4, and #5

3. The post office The post office is generally the one place in China you can count on to drive you completely insane. There are new regulations every four or five seconds, the staff are generally surly and unhelpful, and you really need to see the goop they give you to seal your envelopes. It’s kept in a green plastic… (more…)

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The Bad #1 and #2

1. Ph.D. Applications You don’t realize just how dependant on the internet American society has become until you try to get things done from a different country. Think about it. Any time you need help with your iPod, or want to use a manual for a different contraption, it tries to link you to a website. And that’s great, provided… (more…)

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The Good #5

5. Tutoring a kid with random tastes China really is a weird place, and no matter how long you live here, there’s always something else that will surprise you. I’ve been tutoring a kid here for a while, and he’s one of those rare Chinese students who actually TALKS. Most of them close up like a frightened clam when you… (more…)

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The Good #3 and #4

3. Lectures on Marxism I love being a nerd. I really do. I’m the most easily-entertained person you’ll ever meet. All I need is a book, and generally on something that would bore another person senseless. What in the world would be so appealing about a lecture in China on Marxism? Well, in the first place the literature department at… (more…)

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The Good #1 and #2

1. Christmas concerts There really is some beautiful music at Christmas. Handel’s “Messiah,” “Silent Night” and its accompanying candlelight tradition, the jazz from the Charlie Brown Christmas movie. This is the kind of music that really does signal a special time of year, and every year here in Tianjin the International School band and choir put on a wonderful performance… (more…)

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Nankai: Where Academic Professionalism is Just a Thing

Nankai University is a little like the Dodge City of academics, which is to say things change without warning, no one sticks to guidelines or propriety with much eagerness, there’s a devil-may-care attitude towards what you do, and at any given moment a lethal gunfight might erupt. All right, so the last one isn’t exactly spot-on, but I’ve definitely seen… (more…)

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(Sung to the Cheers theme): Sometimes you wanna go. . .where everybody swims in soup!

Recently I have had to bid goodbye to the Nankai pool. It served me well for many moons, but no longer. Why, you might ask? It’s pretty simple, really: the water was too cold. And I mean WAY too cold. Now I don’t mind a chilly pool. If you’re going to swim hard, you don’t want the water to be… (more…)

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