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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Chinese Halloween & Hungry Ghost Festival

Hungry Ghost Festival is the closest holiday to Halloween that is celebrated in China, which is usually around the August. In the lunar calendar, 14th night of the 7th month. Paper money and other items are burned for the ancestors, food given to them, as well as tomb sweeping.

Article from the Shanghai Daily on how Halloween is being celebrated in China.

In the US this Halloween, which is today we have the following scary items:

Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes

Good Luck Life: The Essential Guide To Chinese American Celebrations And Culture


Chinatown Tunnels in Fresno

Tunnels of Fresno's Chinatown continued and they are now offering tours! Fresno is a city in Northern California that has become a suburb of Silicon Valley, but is/was a farm town. This page has an old picture of a building in Fresno's Chinatown. Here is the web site for Fresno's Chinatown. An older post on Chinatowns with a link to an older article on Fresno's Chinatown (I thought did a better job). What is disappointing is most articles and pages don't mention this: Five hundred Chinese American men were forced by terrorists to leave their jobs in nurseries and vineyards around Fresno. Much less why did it happen, and how did the Chinatown rebuild. And the official site for the Fresno's Chinatown sanitizes the history. When you think of Chinese in America it's either as miners, laundry, or on the railroad, but there was a large population in agriculture.

Relevant Books:
The Chinese in America by Iris Chang that I need to put on my site soon...
Exploring Chinatown: A Children's Guide to Chinese Culture

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Chinatown Express - Low Cost Bus Service

The Chinatown express article by the Economist mentions how the cheap Bus Service found in many Chinatowns is getting competition from non-Chinese companies, such as Grey Hound. In LA for example, it's possible to get a low cost bus ride to Las Vegas or San Jose using the "Chinatown Express". There is one from NY to Boston for $10.

Related book Exploring Chinatown: A Children's Guide to Chinese Culture


Monday, October 29, 2007

Stress and Schools

A big issue is home work and are top performing schools stressing out their students. One MA school's Principal is even giving stress reduction using yoga classes for seniors. The Principal also stopped publishing the honor roll in the local paper. The school had four students who committed suicide, which prompted a look at what is necessary.

The article also mentions Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed-Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students (Paperback) which read the comment/review section. Two very different view points of one, schools are dumbing down and the real problem is making students more efficient in their studying so they can achieve more, and the other is need to lower the stress level in schools and make it so students understand that Harvard is not for everyone and not everyone needs to take 5 AP classes at a time.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

International Business Jobs - Helps speaking Chinese

Interesting article: Students Learn English Not Only Language for Jobs on jobs for those who are bilingual and a related article Forward-thinking students take foreign language to prepare for job search

Key Points:

1. Only 9% of Americans are Bilingual, but 50% of Europeans are.

2. There is a book out there Careers for Foreign Language Aficionados & Other Multilingual Types that is now in it's third edition.

3. There are many jobs out there where being bilingual is helpful and with the Internet it's easier to find those jobs.

Joke that I used in ESL Classes (students appreciate the humor):

1. What is Trilingual - Knows three languages
2. What is Bilingual - Knows two languages.
2. What is Monolingual - American


Kids Dressing in Middle School - Fashion Bullies

WSJ has another great article about Fashion Bullies in Middle School. Middle School is a very intense peer orientated time with a lot of conformity (even non-conformity if done by the majority becomes a form of conformity) required and one oneupmanship done. The challenge is how to make it so your child blends in with everyone else while they focus on what they should be focusing on. To keep their self esteem in good shape during this period where children go through so many changes. Especially with advertising which is focused on getting children to buy fashion lines that have been especially made for them. Not to mention the problem that kids grow so fast!

When I was in College I worked on the Cal Poly Rose Parade Float, and I remember one child who was wearing designer tennis shoes and got glue over them. The result was a very unhappy child.

What I see is key is having great communication with your child and having them focus on a goal (such as getting good grades), and as a parent to be aware of what is going on. A great source of information if you can is picking up your child after school. Children will tell you all about their day right after school, and then later that day clam up.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Learning Chinese - Bilingual Babies - two and three year olds

Nice article that was on MSN originally from Parents Magazine about Bilingual Babies - how to bring up Children Bilingually. Having worked very hard with my wife to bring up our daughter bilingually over the last 13 years and running Childbook.com I have a few opinions on the subject...

The article does a nice job of going through the basics that small children have an incredible ability to learn, they can keep languages straight, and has some recommendations for Spanish, Italian, and German products. But nothing for Learning Chinese! The article includes some nice quotes from experts on how much children can learn at a young age. The article did mention one issue that sometimes children may know less words in their original language, but when you add both languages together they know more words than their monolingual counterparts. The number of words also differs tremendously depending on parents. What I have noticed is children soon catch up when they get into schools. Not to mention the influence of TV and video's - the wonder of Barney and his singing :-)

If parents speak to their children all the time the children will learn more words has been proven true in studies and to me is common sense. Of course I also read to my daughter as child and got weird looks from my wife. If the child is not spoken to that much following that logic, then the child will not learn that much vocabulary. In a study I read from my Teaching Credential/Masters, there may be cultural issues where parents do not realize the importance of speaking to their children when they are babies. Very interesting study that I wish I could find the link to, it deal with a school in California. I have also seen this in the class room where in kindergarten some kids came to school already knowing their numbers and colors, and others did not.

Here is an article that I wrote wrote with some suggestions/tips on Learning Chinese for Children

Product Recommendations
For learning, I like fun activities that have songs you can sing with your children such as Teach Me Chinese (done in USA) has with popular songs in both English and Chinese and come with a book with Pinyin, English, and Chinese Characters. There are also other products on the market such as Let's Sing Mandarin for ages 3 and up that was created by a Chinese teacher in Singapore. On closeout, I suggest test out Teach Me More Chinese on Cassette for only $4.95 (CD version costs more) Sing & Learn Chinese CD & Book is also popular, as well as Speak and Sing Chinese with Mei Mei

Learning Chinese DVD's
are also a great way to expose children to Chinese. They are mostly in English and introduce basic Chinese words. Mei Mei was a Montessori teacher who has created a series of 5 DVD's for Learning Chinese and states for all ages. When the Montessori method is done right (I went to a Montessori school), it's a great way to teach with the right teacher and child that can work wonders! The theory believes that kids can be self directed, I differ that I believe a little more pushing/direction is needed for some children as well as structure. The teacher (as usual) makes a huge difference and needs to keep on top of the students so they don't game the system. Other products is Early Start which has four DVD's Learning Chinese for children ages 1-5 in their series, which have been extremely popular and is recommended for ages 1-5.

For children that have started school, two DVD's I recommend are Let's Go To School with Mei Mei 5 and Follow Jade - Let's Visit Chinese Kindergarten in DVD Children can relate their experience in an American School to a Chinese one, while learning some Chinese. The Follow Jade Series has gotten great ratings.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

How to tell if your Chinese

I saw this list via E-Mail and found a version on the web at a neat site, yellowbridge.com. Most of the ways them are pretty good.
I like number 18 - You fight over who pays the dinner bill. I would comment on this more - but my wife does read this blog :-)
Longer list including: You buy soy sauce by the gallon. The Costco near my house in Rowland Heights (actually Industry) sells Soy Sauce by the Gallon btw.

I belong to a humor toastmaster club and I volunteered to do a speech tomorrow, so I am not sure if I will do one using the lists above explaining what it means, or my Chinese American Marriage Tips. None of the Chinese Children Books I am stocking are one I can use for a speech. Monkey King is a possibility as a Tall Tail (great read).

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Learning Chinese

I noticed a customer who had visited ChildBook.com a couple of times of the last month, and finally made a purchase. It was a new Software program for Teaching Chinese that I just started stocking. I would appreciate any feedback on items I should stock. I just got in a series of Learning Chinese Books and by Monday I should have them up on the site. It takes time to upload items, write the description, scan pictures, etc.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Picking The Right College and College Tours

Interesting article by Thomas Sowell on College Admissions. The two major points from the article are:

1. If a student does well on the SAT's, they will get lots of big name colleges asking them to apply. The reason being that big name college rankings/prestige are based on the percentage who apply and are rejected (being selective is to be strived for - we must be good, because we only admitted 15% of those who applied - being the logic).

2. Larger Universities often for undergraduates do not do as good a teaching job as smaller colleges. Since at the larger universities, undergraduate, especially beginning classes, are often taught by teaching assistants or in huge auditoriums. The focus of the world class professors is research, since they are measured on that (publish or perish).

In California I have often said for undergraduate the Cal State do a great job, but for Master's UC's are much better. The example the author had was Harvey Mudd more students go on to get PhD's as a percentage, than at Cal Tech or MIT. Harvey Mudd is a part of the Claremont consortium that includes CMC and Pomona that are in most lists in the top ten. It also includes Claremont Graduate University (formerly known as Claremont Graduate College, but University sounds better) that includes a small MBA school that I went to with a long name - The Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management At Cal Poly, I only had one class, Biology, that was in a huge lecture hall for my undergraduate degree.

If you get a chance, take a college tour. Cal Tech has one my daughter went on where you got to see an actual class room and the dorms. There is a walking tour of the Claremont Colleges that shows you all the beautiful architecture (tour is be a local heritage association). It's important to choose a college that has the right culture. On the East Coast my daughter also went on tours of Harvard and MIT. The choir she belongs to went on a trip up to the Bay area and visited Stanford and Berkeley.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

China's Space Program

It's a nice touch that China named it's latest satellite that will orbit the Moon after the Moon Goddess (as in Moon Festival). Good background on China's Space Efforts by the Wall Street Journal. I hope that China's effort in space leads the US to do more real space exploration, like the Delta Clipper promised, but was killed by politics. The private efforts in the US are interesting. It would be so neat to actually have the chance to get into space!

If you ever have a chance, read the report by Dr. Feynman on the first Space Shuttle disaster. The last sentence is key: For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled. I was lucky enough to attend in High school summer school at Cal Tech, and Dr. Feynman came in one day and did a lecture. He also used the same piano tuner my parents did (small world). Dr. Feynman also wrote a series of physic books that are still classics and his biography is a fun read! I remember where I was when I heard about both Space Shuttle disasters. For a previous generation, it was where were you when you heard about the President Kennedy being assassinated.

My daughter attended a Sally Ride Festival in Middle School that is hosted at Universities to interest girls in a career in science. If you have a chance to have your daughter go, it's nice and reasonable. I liked the sponsor booths where a previous employer of mine had pictures of some of their women engineers (the CEO got his PhD from Stanford as did Sally Ride). For higher price, there is the Sally Ride space camp which is a couple of days long.

Relevant Books:
The Moon Lady by Amy Tan
Moon Festival by Ching Yeung Russell

Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Accent Reduction for immigrants

LA Times today wrote about an industry of consultants in Accentuating the 'American' in their speech who help people reduce their accents. With children of immigrants this is a constant worry by the parents of their children learning English! For adults, I recommend Toastmasters, a great way to improve your public speaking ability and a very reasonable price. For children, they will get so much English from TV, the playground, and school that for K-7 accent should not be a problem. In higher grades, it depends if the kids spend all their time talking in their native tongue, they will never improve. I have seen that with some of my wife's friends who arrived at the same time. For children another great way to improve their English is take an acting class. In community colleges, their are also low cost classes that are a great deal, from Drama to Speech.


Monday, October 22, 2007

I Can Get Your Kid into an Ivy

Wow - what a title of a recent article in Business Week. Basically a consultant who can cost up to $40K helps your kid get into an Ivy League School. Advises them what extra curriculars to do that are meaningful and will impress the college admissions. It's becoming more and more competitive with after school tutoring, SAT sessions, community work so the student appears to be super outgoing - all with the purpose of getting into a great school.

My opinion, also a great piece of PR to get into business week by somebody - hire that publicist!


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Chinese Male Female Sex Ratio

LA Times article, China: A future nation of bachelors? By Joshua Kurlantzick The country's love of male children may create a dangerous underclass and prematurely gray the population.

Usual points brought up: 120 boys for every 100 girls born due to cheap ultrasound. One child policy. Same thing is happening in India, Korea, and Taiwan. In Taiwan and Korea, there are advertisements to go Vietnam to get a wife. In Taiwan, many men go to China to get a wife. Article did not mention that boys are a form of Social Security and when women marry, they are seen as becoming part of the groom's family.

What was new:
Nien Rebellion - happened about same time as Taiping rebellion, and the article suggests that part of the reason was the imbalance of men to women. Book that mentioned this issue is Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia's Surplus Male Population Excerpt from the book:

Population dynamics have a way of catching people unaware, and sometimes producing havoc. The worldwide baby boomers, born between 1945 and 1965, began coming of age in the late 1960s and produced an equally worldwide epidemic of violence. From the anti-Vietnam War movements to the Chinese Cultural Revolution, it was the great surge of young people taking to the streets who produced the violence. More recently, population aging has caught the attention...

Peter Drucker commented that you could look at the average age of a society, and it could tell you a lot about it. Peter's example I remember from one lecture was in the 1960's in the US, there was a lower average age that led to a lot of changes (Baby Boomers). Now America is growing older that is leading to less changes.

For those interested in related products for Children, hmmm, The Mouse Bride Cute book about a mouse and her suitors.

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Chinese Houses in the US - Characteristics

The above is very broad generalizations of common elements of Chinese American housing I have noticed. I could not find any similar pages and when I look at Feng Shui, I get really confused:

1. In California, carpet is often replaced with tile (granite, marble, or ceramic) for hallways, bathrooms, kitchens, and eating area. There is a new trend towards wood floors. The living room stays carpeted along with bedrooms.

2. Stairs never point directly out the front door. The idea being here that the luck flows out of the house. There is often a mirror at the first bend of a stairway. You also often see mirrors above the door.

3. There is no direct path from the front door to the back door.

4. Lots of light is preferred. So the house inside is usually painted lighter color white.

5. Houses usually don't have 4's in them (sound of four in Mandarin and Japanese is same as death, which is why in Japan you can get a discount on an apartment with a 4 in it). Preferred numbers are 2, 6, and 8 for Mandarin. Cantonese is a little different.

6. Often there is a fish tank/aquiariam inside. They supposedly increase luck/wealth. You will also notice this in Chinese owned businesses.

7. Often there will be a small cabinet just inside to place your shoes to change into sandals for use on the tiled areas. On the carpeted area, the sandals are removed.

8. AMETHYST cathedral's area often found. They are big rocks with purple crystals inside them. Big as in I have seen them a couple of feet high.

9. Kitchen will often have saran wrap over the stove. Why - due to cooking via wok that throws out a lot of oil. Kitchen will often have a high powered fan above the stove due to the smoke generated. There may even be a high power gas burner that I have seen outside to get the high heat needed in traditional Chinese cooking.

10. Bottled Water - probably more of a first generation issue.

11. Rice Cooker

12. Italian or European style furniture. Either lighter in color or leather. Japanese style is often found, as for example a wooden bed.

13. Vegetable Gardens - Cute book, The Ugly Vegetables by Graced Lin, that is so true! With Chinese vegetables.

14. New houses are preferred.

15. Depending on the religion of the owner, you may find a bowl of Tangerines and oranges that symbolize good luck before a Buddhist figure.

16. For families with kids, a trophy/achievement wall with all the awards their kids have achieved. Education is super important in most Chinese families.

17. Usually in the bedroom there will be post size wedding picture above the bed.

18. Houses are usually not at the end of a street/cul de sac. Idea that ghosts go in straight lines. And so do drunk drivers is a more modern reason :-)

19. Good school district Focus on giving children the best education possible.

20. If kids, usually some musical instrument around. Piano, Violin, Cello, etc.

Kinda related book and Good Luck Life: The Essential Guide To Chinese American Celebrations And Culture Good Luck Life is so full of little tidbits about the Chinese Culture.

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Marijuana Growing in Chinese Neighborhoods

In the past year Marijuana has been found growing in two houses found in Rowland Heights, 2 in Diamond Bar, and two in Chino from what I remember. The news stories have aged a bit Supposedly Asian gangs are responsible. All these areas have large Asian populations in Southern California. Even the Economist had an article on it. Marijuana - Home-grownOct 18th 2007 | CHINO HILLS. One of the houses in Rowland Heights was across the street from an Elementary School and one of them in Diamond Bar was a block or so from the mayor's house. And near my daughter's middle school. What is interesting is the houses being chosen are not cheap! $600,000 and up and they are being purchased. Probably with zero down loans (poor bankers). Especially when you have to convert a house back to livable conditions so they can resell it.

This is a key quote from the Economist:

Like many southern California suburbs, Chino Hills has been rapidly transformed from a mostly white area to a rainbow one. Residents of such a diverse place may be more inclined to ignore odd behavior and a funny smell emanating from the house down the road—provided that the grass is kept short.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Chinese Associations & Clinton Fundraising

Chinese Associations, often called Tongs go back in the US till the Gold Rush. In a recent article in the LA Times on a high amount of Fundraising in NY Chinatown for Hillary Clinton among Fujianese immigrants, the term Chinese Associations came up. The article in summary said a large amount of Fujianese immigrants of low income (dishwashers making $500/week giving $1000 donation) gave money to the Hilliary Clinton Presidential campaign. The reasons giving in 20 interviews ranged from the ability to have a picture taken with Senator Clinton and send it back to relatives to they were asked by as a favor (by a Chinese Association) and they would lose face if they did not. On a policy side on an NPR interview with the LA Times writer, the writer mentioned that Senator Clinton has spoken of the need to reunite families divided due to immigration issues and is seen as immigrant friendly in her policies.

The province of Fujian traditionally has produced a large amount of immigrants. The local dialect is what is called Taiwanese in Taiwan. I was surprised when a person from the Philphines and my in-laws were talking to each other, and what language would you guess - yes, Taiwanese/Fukienese . Why the difference in spelling between Fukienese and Fujianese - Pinyin. Like Peking and Beijing.

The immigrants to the US have been both legal and illegal. The going price was $50,000 (14 years ago it was $20,000) and it takes 3-5 years paying back the cost. This is often done by working in Chinese restaurants as waiters, waitresses, and cooks. Women also find work as nannies. Figuring out the size of this population is challenging, but the total estimate for illegal immigrants is 7 to 20 Million. And if you estimate 5% is Chinese, thats a large number. Especially when the Legal population for ethnic Chinese in the US is 2.7 Million per the 2000 Census. Snakeheads are the smugglers and Tongs/Chinese Gangs used this as a major source of revenue. More profitable than drugs and less of a risk of prison time. Here is a recent article on a person in a tong.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Chinese Monster Mansion Houses & Tear downs

I have noticed the emergence of huge houses in many cities where there are a lot of Chinese. Typically they have tiny yards, two stories, usually some type of pillar in the front, stucco, tile room, good school districts, and are much bigger than the original housing, usually ranch style in the area. Places I have seen this are Cupertino, Arcadia, Temple City, San Marino, etc. I thought of this when I cam across an article in the WSJ The Mega-Mansion Comes to Beijing that mentioned this was happening also in China with the super rich. What has happened in California cities, is an older house is bought, then torn down and replaced with a mega mansion. To appease city codes (that have been getting smarter), often one wall of the old place is kept so it is not a new construction, but just a remodel (on steroids). I was looking for articles about this, but could not find any. New areas don't have these issues since there are often new developments in gated communities with monster houses. I can think of one in Rowland Heights (Balan and Fairways).

Here is the only article I could find: Building Ethnoburbia: The Emergence and Manifestation of the Chinese Ethnoburb in Los Angeles' San Gabriel Valley that requires a username/password or a visit to a subscribing library.

No wait, another mention (just have to use the right keywords) that has a nice definition - mostly:

The San Marino area has coined the phrase "mansionization" to reflect the desire of Asian residents to construct large homes that overwhelm surrounding buildings in both size and design. For Asians, this is a means of accommodating their extended families and a reaction to the limited housing space available to them in their native countries.

I am not sure I agree with the sentence I highlighted in red. To me that has nothing to do with it. Extended families - yes, that makes sense. Limited housing in their native countries - no, it's more about what they can afford in the US, which has to do with cost of housing, not availability.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pollution in China Lesson Plan

Good article in the NY Times on Environmentalism in China. I need to update the lesson plan I created on Pollution in China a while ago. China changes so fast! Pollution is a major challenge that China faces in it's amazing rapid growth. Pollution is a problem and needs to be weighed against the economic growth needed to sustain the party in power. It's a huge positive the amount of people in China whom are no longer in poverty because of all the growth.

The Economist had a front cover story about some of the challenges China is facing and it's free without subscription!

China, beware
The country's rulers care too much for their own welfare, and too
little about the rural peasants

Economist is one of my favorite magazines.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Video's, DVD's, and Renting, Region Coding

Hollywood Video declared bankruptcy today. This article from CNET claims that Netflix killed it. No, the truth is movie studios selling new release DVD/Video's through Costco, Bestbuy for under $20. Under $20 it becomes a spontaneous purchasing decision. And now you have movies at WaMart for under $10! And Hollywood Video and Blockbuster wanted to charge $5! Even if I only wanted it for 1 night, I still had to pay the $5 which allowed for 3 nights. I have been surprised/shocked/scared as a retailer and delighted as a consumer on the drop in video pricing.

So how does this apply to Chinese Children related movies. Unfortunately the movie studios to keep their prices and margins high as part of the DVD standard required DVD regionally encoding. So that cheap DVD you bought in China theoretically will not work in the US, because of the differences in region coding. It's even part of the DMCA, so you are not supposed to be able to buy DVD players in the US that are regionless (hint, check any Chinese, Korean, etc. video rental or electronics retailer if you need one. Their are also hacks on the Internet for the techies). Of course Hollywood being the wonderful people they are have updated the coding on some Region 1 DVD so they don't play on regionless DVD players. And older DVD players won't play these newer disks, which is why I had to update my DVD player because new movies would not play on it. And then the new one just broke! One of those days.

As a reseller I find this annoying because if you want to legitimately resell name brand kids Video's in Chinese in the US - tough from what I can tell. VCD's are another option that are still being produced and don't have region coding. Or if you get lucky, some Chinese DVD's I have heard are made so they play in all regions. This is an area I am still investigating because in the past ChildBook did sell video's on VHS that could play in the US from Taiwan. With the change to DVD's (and regional encoding), this was no longer feasible. And if wonder what the rest of the world does outside the US, most people have regionless DVD players. This way they can order video's from the US at a lower price than for example in Europe, and play them. Last time I was in London I was surprised by how much DVD's were (and this was when the dollar was much stronger). Another challenge when you are importing from China is making sure it's legitimate.

I went into one video reseller in Monterey Park that had a name brand DVD children's cartoon, and it had some yahoo address as the manufacturer contact. Amazing, but true.


C Is For China - Book Comments

I was just looking at the book C is for China by Sungwan So. A photo journey for kids through China using the alphabet. Very cute book. A little bit out of date, but what is not on China (there is no bullet train in the book or pictures of the skyline of Shanghai). What is neat about the book is how many myths are subtly dispelled. For example a myth is everyone in China eats rice. But there is a page showing noodles and talking about all the different types of noodles there are from wheat, rice, and corn.

Side note - If you really want to understand Noodles and food in general, a great book is On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. The author has a column at the NY Times that is a good read called The Curious Cook

Back to the book, food distracts me and I did buy the book, must be my Engineering background on wanting to know why. The book, C is for China has a game that a reader asked about on how to play and my wife recognizes, but does not know how to explain in words. I have seen my wife and daughter play it. Beautiful photos and supposedly the author is teaching in Los Angeles area (but I was unable to locate him). The book does a nice job of catching at the time day to day life in China when it was photographed.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Chinese Dresses for Halloween & 50% off Sale

Chinese Dresses can be great Halloween Costumes with all of the hand embroidery and details in the costumes. My wife's site currently has a Halloween Costume Sale!

50% Off List - Qipao, Girl's Chinese Dresses Traditional, Chinese Qi Pao, Oriental Dress, Cheongsam,!

The dresses she sells are a traditional Chinese dress (qi pao). Qi Pao was the traditional Chinese clothing worn during the Ching Dynasty (1644-1911 AD). It's an elegant red Chinese dress that looks beautiful. Lots of little knots on it, embroidery, and full of details. Customer feedback has been very positive!

My wife takes each dress out of the package checking for flaws, irons them, wraps them in tissue paper and the details on the dresses are unbelievable. Please check them out at http://www.elitedresses.com

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Chinese American Marriage Tips

I am in a mixed marriage that spans two cultures. My wife is from Taiwan and I am American. Parts of my side go back to before the revolution - Scots Irish farmers among others (Scottish, German, may be American Indian, French Canadian, etc), and ancestors of mine have been around California since the Gold Rush. There is a lot of differences in culture between an ethnic Chinese who's family has been here since the Gold Rush, and a first generation immigrant.

Chinese American Marriage Statistics:
Chinese marry non-Chinese in the US is 15%. The inter-marriage for Chinese Women is higher than men.

My observations/tips from my marriage and observing friends, family, etc:

  1. Don't argue with your spouse in front of your in-laws or your parents. This includes raising your voice.
  2. Chinese/Taiwanese/Korean are super focused on education and put a huge amount of pressure on their kids because they usually expect great results. They will sacrifice incredibly for their kids education. My daughter mentioned a friend who was in tears because she got I think it was a B on a test.
  3. Expect to move to a good school district. This is usually done by looking at the test scores. For those who can afford it, private academies. In Southern California the school districts with a heavy Chinese population are San Marino, Arcadia, Walnut Valley/Diamond Bar, Rowland Heights, ABC Unified in Cerritos, Sunny Hills (more Korean there), etc.
  4. If your Father-in-law offers you a drink, take it.
  5. Don't be surprised if your in-laws move in with you. A recent trend I have seen is elder care, where the elderly are taken away during the day for activities.
  6. Food - be adventuresome, and if your wife cooks it, eat it, or at least try it. Think of the Children's book, Green Eggs and Ham.
  7. Politics dealing with China/Taiwan - usually a bad subject. Especially with other family or friends (lose lose topic usually).
  8. Key term to learn - Soft Rice. Means you are being supported by your wife (babies are fed soft rice or gruel). Not a good term to hear.
  9. Have a sense of humor and count to 10 or 100 as needed, for there will be a lot of surprises.
  10. If your mate feels more comfortable communicating in Chinese with friends, just grin and bear it, especially if they have not seen each other for a while.
  11. Ettiquette - I have noticed when friends are in the Chinese mode and eating they talk with their mouth open, just chat chat chat. When in the American mode, if you are talking while chewing with your mouth open or food in it, you get the look.
  12. 12. First generation immigrants are often more achievement focused than second. So if you marry somebody first generation, they may be more focused on achievement than having a good time. Be aware of it after the initial puppy love wears off.
  13. For buying a house, understand some basic Feng Shui. No houses with 4's in them (4's in Mandarin and Japanese has the same sound as death). 8's are great. This advice also goes for phone numbers. Don't be at the end of a street (which makes sense because Chinese Ghosts go in straight lines, and so can drunk drivers. The house diagonal from where I grew up from was up the street from the Elk's Lodge, and quite a few cars did not make the turn. Luckily they had this huge palm tree in the front). Never have a stair way from the 2nd floor that goes directly out to the front door (this lets out all the luck of the house).
  14. Don't be surprised if your ethnic Chinese Spouse gets a heavy duty stove fan so they can do some real wok cooking. Most newer houses just are not made for cooking. Some houses in areas with large Chinese populations are actually putting in heavy duty gas burners and the heavy duty fans.
  15. If your spouse is very frugal because they grew up poor, and are still penny pinching. Look at your own habits (like that morning cup of Starbucks).
  16. Cars - Toyota, Honda, BMW, and Mercedes seem to be the preferred brands.
  17. New is good for cars and houses. Usually they are not into used since who knows what spirits may be there. So if you are into old houses and fixing them up, you may want to have a serious talk with your spouse about this.
  18. Child punishment. What may be acceptable to your spouse may be totally unacceptable to you. Like in some European countries, it's against the law to spank kids. In the US one spouse may view corporal punishment as fine, and another as criminal. And it's important to understand what is allowed by your states law anyway (like leaving Children alone at home at what age, corporal punishment, etc.).
  19. Gifts - I suggest have the spouse of the culture of the giftee figure out what is acceptable. For example in Taiwan giving of clocks is not good (running out of time). English culture has a similar issue with giving of knives (the gift of a knife will sever the relationship). For Chinese weddings, red envelopes filled with money are appropriate.
  20. Watch the Joy Luck Club and don't be like the husband about the ice cream.
  21. Eat Drink Man Woman - Great movie to understand about Chinese culture and food.
  22. All you can eat Sushi places are places your spouse may really like (they may also bankrupt the place).
  23. Just because something is Chinese related, does not mean your spouse will automatically be interested in it. For example a first generation immigrant may have no interest in the Chinese American experience during the Gold Rush (and vice versa).
  24. Chinese have this habit of laughing at non-Chinese speaking Mandarin due to pronunciation issues. It's always a bad idea of make fun of somebody who is learning a foreign language (like your spouses English), but there seems to be a double standard here. Just be aware of it.
  25. Never sign your name in red (Japanese, Taiwan, and Korean culture issue).
  26. In marriage, in Chinese tradition the groom's family pays for everything. In American, the Bride pays. Most wedding receptions are at a Chinese Restaurant (usually a dim sum place that is a sea food place at night).
  27. Don't expect your wife to be the world's greatest cook. She may have been so busy and focused on going to school that she never learned how to cook.
  28. Learn tPublish Posto use chopsticks and let your kids learn also. When around the Chinese side of your family, it looks better for you.
  29. Never stick your chopsticks straight up in a bowl of rice.
  30. Always finish all the rice in a bowl.
  31. When going out with your parents, in-laws, ethnic Chinese friends to restaurants always pay the bill. This can get really interesting when people start doing the trick of accidentally paying the bill on the way to the restroom, fighting for the check from the waiter/waitress, etc..

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Racism Against Chinese Outside the US

In a previous post I had created a timeline of racism against Chinese in the US. Racism against Chinese in other countries does exist. In Malaysia racism against Chinese is part of the system and created a culture of entitlement among ethnic Malays. There is a quota system in the universities as well as in government hiring and in 1969 there were some nasty anti-Chinese riots. Chinese are 26% of the population, and Indian 8%. There was an Ethnic Chinese Communist dominated insurgency in the 1950's that the British defeated. Currently, the Chinese dominate business, while the Malaysians the government.

1998 was just the most recent anti-Chinese rioting/pogrom in Indonesia. Chinese make up 3% of the population, or 7 Million, but they dominate business. In Indonesia there was also an insurgency 1965-1966 (or perhaps more of a side affect of a coup) that was ruthlessly put down with mass killings of Chinese. They were also not allowed to own businesses, in rural areas and many immigrated because of their was citizenship restricted.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Chinese Culture - Teaching My Daughter

I got a lot of positive feedback on the post about what my family has done to expose my daughter to Chinese Culture, so I made an article out of it on the site and expanded it. One of the people who emailed me with some nice feedback - there Grandfather actually went through Angel Island.

Chinese Culture- Teaching my daughter


Racism Against Chinese in the US

I created a time line of racism against Chinese in the United States. I knew some of it, but there was some I had missed. The fact that 50% of the California State budget came from a tax on Chinese miners. That in 1958, 90% of US Whites are against inter-racial marriage. Wen Ho Lee case. The riots from Los Angeles to San Franscisco to Portland to Seattle against Chinese. So far the list has 29 items that I tried to keep as major historical events. Please E-Mail me with any suggestions!

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Chinese American History Books

Books that ChildBook carries about Chinese American History:




Ancient China

Amazing the amount of Chinese Invention from Gunpower to seed planters and more. Great book to read.

Made in China - Ideas and Inventions from Ancient China by Suzanne Williams

Ancient China

Presents general factual information about ancient China in the form of a traveller's guidebook, with suggestions on what to eat, where to stay, how to get around, sights to see, and how to stay safe on your imaginary trip to this ancient land.

Ancient China - Time Travel Guide by Jane Shutter

618- 907 AD

Wu Ze Tian ruled during the Tang Dynasty (618- 907 AD), a period of prosperity and cultural achievement in China.

Empress of China


Chinese Admiral who have reached American in 1421.

The Great Voyage of Zheng He


Building of the Transcontinental Railroad.

Ten Mile Day


Story of a boy during the Gold Rush

Chang's Paper Pony


Rock Springs Massacre in Wyoming of at least 28 Chinese Miners.

The Traitor by Laurence Yep, Gold Mountain Chronicles 1865


Now a state park.

Angel Island Prisoner, 1922


Angel Island, Ellis Island for the Chinese in San Franscisco Bay.

Kai's Journey to Gold Mountain: An Angel Island Story by Katrina Saltonstall Currier, Illustrated by Gabhor Utomo (hardcover)


Chinatown Experience

Child of the Owl by Laurence Yep


Chinatown Experience

Exploring Chinatown: A Children's Guide to Chinese Culture

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Exposing Children to Chinese Culture

My daughter is mixed, so she has interesting identity issues :-)

Exposing My Daughter to Chinese Culture
I have worked very hard to expose my daughter to Chinese in the US. For a project for 5th grade she did a Joss House Weaverville Model Project instead of the usual California Mission. She was graded on the landscaping (it took a lot more time than planned including my parents,
me, and my Father in law as well as blueprints we got and a video).

For another grade the project had to do with the Wyoming Massacre in Rock Springs where some 28 Chinese Miners were killed in 1885. She also got lots of the Lawrence Yep books (he does a great job for Middle Schoolers of writing of the Chinese American experience). Since my wife is from Taiwan, we also celebrate the Chinese Holidays. We also visited Angel Island and a few Chinese Museums in the US that should be on this page Chinatowns of the United States.

On vacation, we also visit the local Chinatowns which include so far London, NY, LA, SF, Las Vegas, Vancouver, Toronto, Washington DC, and Boston. Usually a good place to get a nice meal at a fair price, or at least a nice bakery :-) My family also goes to local festivals, which is part of the reasons I make up those lists of events for Chinese Festivals such as Moon Festival, Chinese New Year, DragoPublish Postn Boat Races, etc. because it's frustrating to find out the week after a local event.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Learning Chinese for Children book and CD - Mandy and Pandy

I am getting in more learning Chinese Products, such as Mandy and Pandy say, "Ni Hao Ma?" Board Book with CD I found out about the product from an Adoption Forum that had some nice words about the product. Christopher Lin, who created the product includes a graphic artist (so 18 beautiful pages of pictures) and studied in both Taiwan and China. The product was named outstanding product of 2007 by iParenting Media. The reason he created the product was because of the frustration of finding a fun way to teach his daughter Chinese in a fun way. The book is designed both for parents who are Chinese speaking, and those who are not. This is planned as the first of a series of twelve books.

Related Posts:


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Will AP or IB Really Get You College Credit?

IB is something I just found out about this year. International Baccalaureate. It's a way for schools to increase their academics. It's similar to AP, but has it's own exams. There is a debate at the Washington Post to be a debate going on about the pro's and cons of it. The challenge I have heard on IB is you need to take classes outside of the regular school year to complete it (hello summer school). Of course there is a Freshman at my daughter's school who is taking Calculus. And all Eighth Graders in the school districts in my area are supposed to be taking Algebra in 8th Grade. Of course if you can't pass Algebra, you become a drop out.

Here is a link to the excellent four part series the LA Times had on a LAUSD School investigating the drop out rate. I believe one of the problems a student had was not being able to pass Algebra. Or was that one of my students I met during my student teaching.

A sad comment my Master Teacher made on the movie Walkout, was LAUSD still has the same problems for Latino students (low results). He graduated a year before the events in Walkout happened. I would love to read a copy of the essay, a tale of two schools by Paula Crisostomo who is now works at Occidental College. The schools being compared were Palos Verdes and Garfield. And the latest walkout was about immigration and became less and less of a political statement as the days progressed with the last ones having some of the kids throwing gang signs which lost the original purpose.


Monday, October 8, 2007

Almost 1/3rd of High School Students Don't Graduate

Article in Costco's Magazine mentioned this. At some schools the drop out rate is 60%. LA Times a while ago had a great series of articles that looked at one High School in LAUSD on this. Recent LA Times editorial on this. And in our increasing skills required society, what becomes of them? Challenging topic that I worry about. Their is the top tier of society who has figured out how to work the system, so their children get the best education possible, and then the lower tier that does not understand the system.

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Diversity as Normal as Speaking Chinese

Great article about a pre-school full immersion Mandarin in NY in a mixed race school.

Key Quotes:

“It’s a competitive world, and I want my children to be competitive,” Mr. Kinsale says. “If they’re going to be successful in a white-dominated society, they need to be exposed to this, and I believe they will excel.”

“People who start their children on a language so young understand it’s a multicultural world and they want their children to be part of it,” per Ms. Kinsale.

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Saturday, October 6, 2007

China's 2008 Rose Parade Entry - Dissent Rains on Pasadena

Pasadena Rose Parade has a float this year for the 2008 Olympic Games. It seems to be attracting a bit of controversy, per this article in the LA Times, Dissent rains on Pasadena. So now the city council is being confronted with taking a stand on human rights in China, etc.


China Airlines Rose Parade Entry

My view - I wish I could get better pictures of the China Airlines Float each year (which is actually from Taiwan. For some reason it is so hard to get good pictures online of it. Every year they do a beautiful job. In 2007 they won the International Trophy and did a nice press release, but no photos on their site! 16th time they have won an award.

Pictures I found:
2007 - The Natural Beauty of Taiwan (scroll down 2/3rds of the page - they disables the right click finally).
2006 Magical Taiwan with more pictures here (scroll down)
2005 Enjoying our Native Family - Taiwan and from China Airlines Site.
2004 Taiwan's Sound of Joy
2003 Dreaming of Taiwan International Trophy.
2002 Enjoying Taiwan, 2003 Dreaming of Taiwan,
2001 "Chinatown USA"Winner, International Trophy. I found it on the company that provided the Orchids for the float.

If you are frustrating by the lack of good photo's on the China Airlines Site, here is some contact info.
Johnson Sun Director of Corporate Communication & Customer Relation div., Spokesperson
Chih Yu Deputy Director of Finance Div., Deputy Spokesperson
Address: 131, Sec. 3, Nanking E. Rd., Taipei, Taiwan,R.O.C.
TEL: (02)2715-2233
FAX: (02)2715-5754

And contact information for the US Offices

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Friday, October 5, 2007

ChildBook Redesign

You may have noticed that www.childbook.com is going through a redesign. New categories are being added, this blog was added, colors were changed, etc. It's all part of making the site as easy as possible to use and find the right item for you. With the large numbers of items I am stocking, it's getting harder and harder to find the right items.

Contacting me for recommendations is always a good solution :-) But when that happens it tells me the design needs to be improved. That reminds me, testimonials page needs to be revised. I have not updated it in a while and it mentions items I no longer carry (like Disney's Mulan's Video in Mandarin). Blame that on everyone going to DVD and how the movie studio's have regional encoding which only hurts those who don't have zoneless DVD players (basically the US).


Boy Scout Badges with Lead Paint

LA Times had a story on this today. Not good PR for the Made in China. Plus this story in the Wall Journal saying China's food regulatory ability is broken. China Strains to Police Quality. Note this report was by Congressional Investigators and they may have some political reasons (protectionism) to push this angle. From what I have read the US FDA just does not have the resources to check incoming items. There was an article, someplace, saying that food safety inside China was even worse than what was exported.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Nanny State

Scary Editorial about how some Doctors in MA kids about mom and dad’s “bad” behavior.

One of the things that terrifies me as a parent is what happens if you are accused of Child Endangerment. This goes even into how you discipline your children and what is legal.

A friend of a friend had some type of argument with her older daughter and spanked the younger child. The person then went to the store. When she came back, her kids were gone. The older daughter, 16 I think, had called 911 and the polioce had taken them away. The older daugter regretted what she had done but it was to late. So then the younger daughter had to get placed with other relatives.

It's also scary if you are a male teacher and you need to be paranoid - Great book to read Guilty- Until Proven Innocent: Teachers and Accusations of Abuse. Amazon has 7 reviewers and all 5 starts. One accusation and your career is dead.

How Men Cope With Being Cast as Predators from the Wall Street Journal. One man commented now days he would have nothing to do with the Boy Scouts because of the potential issues and his quote: "Today, I wouldn't do that job for anything," he says. "All it takes is for one kid to get ticked off at you for something and tell his parents you were acting weird on the campout."

My view - there needs to be a balance. There are some crazy people out there that your kid needs to be protected from. But making it so your are automatically guilty if you are male is a bit to far.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Demographics in China

Article from the LA Times Will an aging population defang China? Basic point of the article is China is growing older because of the one child policy which in the future will impact economic growth.

A point that I believe will be challenging in the future will be the lack of females in China, India, and Korea due to abortions because of sex testing. From an economic sense where females are required to provide dowries and become part of the grooms families, this makes a lot of sense when boys provide a form of Social Security. Will there be an increase in violence in those countries due to this? I wonder what Dr Satoshi Kanazawa thinks. He also has a new book out. He has written some fascinating papers such as Engineers Have More Sons, Nurses Have More Daughters: An Evolutionary Psychological Extension of Baron-Cohen's Extreme Male Brain Theory of Autism and Its Empirical Implications. Hmm, so I have an Engineering background, I am pretty empathetic, and have a daughter. What does that say about me based on his research :-)


Special Education - The balance

Special Education is a legal nightmare from what I can see. In my opinion, courts are making decisions that is making it challenging for schools on how to allocate money. The problem is legislatures are happy to pass on this hot potato of an issue to the courts which do the best they can based on the existing laws. This may not be best for the children, but that is not the courts mission, their job is to interpret the laws. Interesting article When Should Taxes Pay Private Tuition? about a parent who is suiing so a public school district will pay the private tuition for his child to go to a private school (his child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other learning disabilities). Here is one from Google News Special Education: When Should Taxes in case the first link requires a subscription. In my experience subbing, Special Education Classes was usually a good experience and a pleasant change from classes where the kids were deliberately trying to give you a bad day.

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Environmentalism and Children

Great on Children influencing parents on the Environment!

Inconvenient Youths

'Mom, we gotta buy a hybrid!' Kids are becoming the green movement's stealth weapon, pressuring their parents on everything from lightbulbs to composting. Inside the push to create the littlest eco-warriors.
September 29, 2007; Page W1

Jim and Robyn Dahlin knew replacing the roof of their home in Greenbrae, Calif., would be expensive. But they hadn't planned to spend an extra $15,000 on solar panels. For that, they have their 8-year-old son, Luke, to thank.

Direct Link or through Google News for Inconvenient Youths the rest of the article Youths. Schools have a huge impact on children and being green is part often part of the curriculum.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

American Fastfood becomes Chinese Restaurants

In Rowland Heights it started with Del Taco, which is now a Real Estate office. Then Burger King closed (still looking for a tenant) in Hacienda Heights. Then the local Taco Bell closed and became a Vietnamese Pho Restaurant. And then Kentucky Fried Chicken closed and is remodeling to become a Chinese Restaurant. And it all started 20 years ago or so when a Restaurant shaped like a Swiss Chalet became a Chinese Restaurant called Mr. Swiss. The only real Chinese Food in the area. Mr. Swiss since then has been remodeled adding a floor and losing the sloped roof. Interesting how the area has changed.

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Monday, October 1, 2007

Chinese Culture - Which Products to Choose?

Childbook teaches about the Chinese Language and Culture. So if I wanted to create a section on culture which products should I choose?

Here is two Definitions of Culture from M-W the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence.

So culture is not Chinese History, but ways of thinking. So I can think of four items right now.
Good Luck Life: The Essential Guide To Chinese American Celebrations And Culture (great book!).
Exploring Chinatown: A Children's Guide to Chinese Culture
Let's Go To School with Mei Mei 5

Follow Jade - Let's Visit Chinese Kindergarten in DVD
Follow Jade! Learn Chinese: Let's Go to Market in China DVD

I did cheat a bit on the first two items, since I did a search on culture and was curious what came back. There is also a nice book on Chinese Poetry, A Thousand Peaks: Poems from China.

Time for a new section which I just created Chinese Culture Books and DVD's. It will be interesting to see which items sell. Personally, I like the Let's Go To School with Mei Mei 5 a lot because of the comparison I can do to US schools and the book is a great reference and read Good Luck Life: The Essential Guide To Chinese American Celebrations And Culture


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