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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Learning Chinese Suggestions

Learning Chinese DVD's is a good point to start with learning Video's/DVD's Chinese for Kids


Friday, February 27, 2009

Blogging Headaches

So what do you do when for 3 days in a row at home, your Internet Connection goes down.

Thanks Time Warner!

  1. Go to work so you can blog about Learning Chinese there.
  2. Wait till 11PM per your daughter when the Internet usually starts working again.
  3. Spend 50 minutes on the phone with Time Warner Tech support, get told by the second level there is a problem and their Engineers are working on it, and ask if you want a call back tomorrow to tell you if the Internet is working. What was strange was some web sites worked (ones with good band width). I also opened a case with my E-Commerce provider since their site was not coming up.
  4. Use your iPhone to post a blog. Doing so is painful and is not fun.
  5. Hack our iPhone so it can be used as a data connection for your laptop.
  6. Check availability through your local phone company.

Hmm, the first night I did #3, but I skipped the call back. I figured I could log online and figure out if the Internet was working. Next two nights I got to go to sleep early.

Tonight the Internet works, so I am checking availability. I need uptime!

Oh well so much for an alternative: Verizon High Speed Internet is not currently available.
2nd and 3rd night I gave a quick call, heard the recording (an improvement) that their Engineers are working to get it fixed ASAP.

I could get a wireless account, but other people like daughter do need Internet access.

I wish somebody else around my house offered High Speed Internet besides my local cable company!


Mandarin begins displacing Cantonese as dialect of choice

Mandarin begins displacing Cantonese as dialect of choice - Boston Globe.

Boston has one of the old Chinatowns, where Cantonese has been predominate because that's where the immigrants came from. Mandarin was only spoken in the government and around Beijing, but since the 1920's it's been pushed by the governments of China (Republic, KMT, and Communist) as a way to unify China and it has become widely used in China. With the hand over of Hong Kong to China, in my opinion Cantonese is becoming a household language, with Mandarin being the Chinese to learn.

With my business I have seen the same thing. I stocked some Cantonese items for a while because lots of people asked about them, but when I finally got stock they took forever to sell. So now I just sell Mandarin items.

In the US, there has been a tremendous amount of immigration from China that has increased the Mandarin speakers in the older Chinatowns.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hidden Chinese Society in the US

Chinatown ID ring busted from the Chicago Tribune.

People without papers, including a few Chinese, were paying $1200 to $3400 for a package of documents including driver licenses and a forged Social Security card. Cost I read a while back was around $20K to get from China to here illegally.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Elude The Cat

China's answer to a crime includes amateur sleuths - IHT

Li Qiaoming and a half-dozen fellow inmates played "elude the cat," a Chinese hide-and-seek that might be better described as Marco Polo without the pool.

Unfortunately supposedly he fell down, suffered a head injury, and died.

Fascinating story on so many levels:
  1. Power of the Internet in China.
  2. How the government tries to manipulate the Internet.
  3. Internet commentator is a euphemism for those who seek to shape public debate with pro-government postings.


Wheat in China

Drought Shrivels China’s Wheat Belt - NY Times.
Many people when they think of Chinese food, immediately think of rice. That is true for Southern China, but for Northern China think of noodles, which are made out of wheat. China is currently undergoing a drought, along with poor usage of water, is reducing the amount of wheat grown. This should help the US wheat crop, bringing a better price for it since recently the price of wheat has decreased due to increased plantings which were made based on use in Ethanol (which has gone down).


Monday, February 23, 2009

Auction Update

Paris court rejects China's Saint Laurent art claim - Reuters.

If China had succeeded, it would have thrown the art world into turmoil.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Beijing's Olympic building boom becomes a bust

Beijing's Olympic building boom becomes a bust - LA Times.


By Rodman's calculations, 500 million square feet of commercial real estate has been developed in Beijing since 2006, more than all the office space in Manhattan. And that doesn't include huge projects developed by the government. He says 100 million square feet of office space is vacant -- a 14-year supply if it filled up at the same rate as in the best years, 2004 through '06, when about 7 million square feet a year was leased.


I do know how to spell coloring

I can't believe I just sent out an E-Mail with a typo on Coloring. It goes along with the rest of this week.

I am so glad that tomorrow is the start of a new week! TGIM?


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Clinton urges stronger China ties

Clinton urges stronger China ties - BBC.

Yes, today is BBC day for my blog! One article lead to another that lead to another.

Key Points (with translations!):
  • Message - US Savings and Investments are safe (ie please keep loaning us money and trust us).
  • Our pressing on those issues can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crises (We are not going to badger you about Taiwan, Tibet, and Human Rights).
  • Please help more with North Korea, you are the only country that has any pull with them, because you can collapse the country any time you want (you just declare all the North Koreans illegally in China as refugees that can go to South Korea and it would empty North Korea quickly, but it's nice to have a buffer zone and South Korea does not want to rebuild North Korea yet, costs to much).


China tries to stop Paris auction

China tries to stop Paris auction - BBC News.

When my wife was in London on a foreign exchange semester, while we were engaged, an older gentleman offered to show her some stuff his family had gotten in China during one of the many interventions by foreign troops. Not sure if it was the Boxer Rebellion, Opium Wars, or ?


China pushes Russia to investigate ship incident

China pushes Russia to investigate ship incident - AP.

I have the feeling there is more to this than meets the eye, but may be it was just a Russian Commander did something dumb and the Russians have too much pride to admit to that.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Case Against Ex-Leader Stirs Unease in Taiwan

Case Against Ex-Leader Stirs Unease in Taiwan - NY Times.

What surprises me per the article, how the trial is being followed in China and may impact their judicial system.

On the Taiwan side, I take a bit of a contrary view, and in my opinion (not saying the trial is right or wrong and staying out of the green, red, blue politics), it helping the country grow up politically and I hope reduce corruption. By prosecuting a highest government official (guilty or not) for corruption, I hope this sends the message that corruption is wrong for everyone, no matter who their party is (Blue party has traditionally been the more corrupt, but they have been around longer). It would be nice if campaign contributions had a few more strings required to them, as in the US so they can't be used for personal reasons (which seems to be OK under Taiwan's current law and done by both major parties if I understand correctly. Try that in the US, and it's go to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200).


China: villagers beat official over quake relief

China: villagers beat official over quake relief - AP. Interesting what is behind the headlines (corruption). And how careful the official China media is being with this story...

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Band vs orchestra

Why is there more Asian students in Orchestra, where band has more white students.

Observation of a combined practice yesterday of band and orchestra at my daughter's school.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Food Poisoning - What is it?

Key Points:
  • Runs it course in 24-48 hours.
  • Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping.
  • Self care includes drinking clear liquids and when your stomach is ready, plain foods.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Online and Offline Publishing in China

For many Chinese, literary dreams go online - CNN

Great article a friend passed on. What I find very interesting is the difference in censorship between online writing and offline.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Peanut Butter China Link

Lawmakers, industry in accord after salmonella outbreak - Baltimore Sun
had this quote:

Peter Hurley denounced Peanut Corp. of America - and the government watchdogs who were unable for months to trace the source of the contamination.

"What is this, China?"

9 dead and 600 sick so far due to the outbreak. Peanut Butter consumption has dropped 22% in the US. The plant supplied about 1% of the Peanut Butter in the US and the company has filed for bankruptcy.

My guesses:
  1. Food safety will be combined in one agency. Currently it's in both the department of agriculture and FDA. 75% chance.
  2. New Safety programs for food will be put in place.
  3. New safety programs for imported food will be put in place.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chinese Curriculum - What should it include?

At a basic level a Chinese Curriculum should teach Chinese. For adults usually this includes boht speaking, reading, and writing. For kids, there is usually more of an emphasis on speaking and using Pinyin, instead of learning Chinese Characters (either Simplified or Traditional).

At an advanced level, a Chinese Curriculum should also teach more about the culture and history. The headache with history is there may be more than on interpretation of it. For example the history taught in Taiwan of Mainland China from 1949 is a bit different than what is taught in Mainland China. Usually in Traditional Chinese books you will get the Taiwan version, and in Simplified the Chinese version. I know of one author who had not done higher level books in Simplified Chinese because of this issue, but has done them in Traditional Chinese.

When designing a Chinese Curriculum a teacher also needs to consider both the knowledge level of the Teacher (native Chinese speaker, more than 100% fluent, very experienced in teaching) and the students, who may come into class already verbally fluent having grown up in Taiwan and/or China, have parents who speak Chinese at home, to those who have no Chinese speaking adults at home. Different Chinese Curriculum may be needed for different types of students.

I put together at Childbook a buying guide of the different Chinese Curriculum I carry, that include Better Chinese, Practical Chinese, Chinese Made Easy for kids, Chinese Made Easy, Kuaile Hanyu, and Daily Chinese. The buying chart includes information on the teaching style, age, and background on the author.


China and US Embassy in India

Quote from Thomas Friedman's NY Times editorial today:

The U.S. Embassy and the Chinese Embassy are both located on Panchsheel, directly across from each other. They asked me to check out the rooftops of each embassy. What do I notice? Let’s see ... The U.S. Embassy’s roof is loaded with antennae and listening gear. The Chinese Embassy’s roof is loaded with ... new Chinese-made solar hot-water heaters.

You couldn’t make this up.

Amazing, it brings up so many questions to my mind. My guess is as a way to save money, but may be as a way for selling Chinese products to India. I am curious what the reason is for the Solar Water installations. China seems to also be pushing Solar Water heaters to save energy in China.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Angel Island - the Chinese Ellis Island

On Angel Island, the walls really talk - LA Times.

Angel Island is located in the San Francisco Bay. It's a great day trip! And they just redid the museum. Just drive over to Tiberon and take the ferry.

Previous Posts:
Related Products:
Kai's Journey to Gold Mountain: An Angel Island Story
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A journey through the Ellis Island of the West for Chinese, Angel Island, by a young boy
Angel Island Prisoner, 1922
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A journey through the Ellis Island of the West for Chinese, Angel Island, by a young girl.
Dragon's Gate by Laurence Yep.  English.  Paperback.
Dragon's Gate by Laurence Yep. English. Paperback.
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Dragon's Gate by Laurence Yep. Sailing to California in 1865, fourteen-year-old Otter leaves China to meet his father and legendary uncle on the transcontinental railroad, an adventure that challenges his survival on the mountains of the Sierras.

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The Dragon Child by Laurence Yep
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Another Video Preview Available!

I just added a a video preview! Great video with a lot of content. Highly recommended.

Global Toddlers: Adventures in Mexico.  Chinese, English, Spanish, French
Global Toddlers: Adventures in Mexico. Chinese, English, Spanish, French
Our Price: $19.99

Kids love the puppet and children scenes, animation, and live footage and still photos of real animals, fish, plants and landscapes of Mexico.
  • Awarded DVD of the Year by Creative Child Magazine for 2008 (Educational DVDs for babies, toddlers, and kids category)”.
  • 115+ spoken and written words for children in Chinese Mandarin (with Pinyin), English, French, and Spanish

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

My First Chinese Words

My First Chinese Words Set (36 Books + Audio CD) is specifically made for Kids to Learn Chinese, who don't know any Chinese. In other words for the non-native speaker and is a great place to start teaching your child Chinese to give them the Chinese Advantage.

The set includes 36 books, each one teaching a few words so the child does not lose attention. The accompanying CD helps with pronunciation of the Chinese words. The set teaches over 150 Chinese Words and is available in both Simplified and Traditional Characters. 22 topics include animals, family,
friends, food, home, school and more!

What is wonderful about
My First Chinese Words is it's designed to be interactive and very hands on, dare I say, fun! This makes it an especially good tool for young children learning Chinese.

It's an entire system that includes a workbook, flash cards, teacher edition (in English, Simplified, or Tradition Characters), and a CD Rom.


Best Chinese Museum is where?

Taipei has the best collection of Imperial Chinese Art, because the Nationalists who escaped to Taiwan took the best with them. Now Taiwan and Chinese are talking of sharing some of the Imperial art collection that was split in 1949. What makes this even more interesting is the opposition party in Taiwan, DPP or Green party, has been working on building a Taiwanese identity. So how does the National Palace Museum, Taipei work with a government that is pushing a Taiwanese identity. The current government is not pushing the Taiwanese identity as much. Taiwan politics is fascinating to watch from a distance.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chinese for toddlers

Chinese for toddlers - Which product should you choose?

Little Pim: Playtime, 3-Pack Bundle, Learning Chinese for Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers is a very popular product for Teaching Chinese to Toddlers.

Little Pim uses animation and real kids to introduce words and phrases for everyday activities and is award winning. It was developed by the daughter of Paul Pimsleur, Julia Pimsleur Levine. Paul Pimsler developed a method of quickly Learning Foreign Languages based on the four principles of anticipation, graduated interval recall, core vocabulary, and organic learning. A great quote about the pimleur method on how it uses behavioral principles—gradual shaping of behavior, immediate reinforcement of response, stimulus (cue) control of the verbal response, systematically interlarding new and old material, focusing on the most common words in a language, and limiting the amount of new material to bite size portions—for its effectiveness.

What has been done with Little Pim is refining the technique and using it with children. The author, Julia Pimsleur Levine wanted to teach her children French, but found no videos on the market that met her high standards. Now she was also a film maker, bilingual teacher, and a Mother which meant she had all the key skills to produce her own series of high quality video's, which Little Pim is an example of this.


Chinese for Baby

What Learning Chinese for Baby product should you choose?

May customers are choosing:

Baby Learns Chinese, DVD, Level 1,2,3 & Flashcards Bundle


Little Pim: Playtime, 3-Pack Bundle, Learning Chinese for Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers

Both have many positives and you can see a sample for each of them.

Baby Learns Chinese is based on theories of Dr. Glenn Doman with his ideal of a Gentle Revolution. His first book, How to Teach Your Baby to Read, presented the revolutionary idea that tiny children can learn to read since it's is easiest for them to absorb new information, from birth to six.

What Baby Learns Chinese has done is present Chinese Characters within the video and include Chinese flash cards. Flash cards are a great addition since this adds real person interaction to the Learning Chinese process, that is so helpful.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

U.S. Prepares to Broach Hard Issues With China

U.S. Prepares to Broach Hard Issues With China - NY Times.

Oh boy...

Issues to be brought up by the US side include:
  • Human Rights - very touchy issue
  • Environmental Issues - China is now the leading emitter of green house gases
  • Energy - May be the impact that China has had on world markets.
And I am sure the Chinese side will bring up:
  • US Financial Health
  • Financing of US deficit by China
Should be very interesting...


Stamp Prices going up 2 Cents in May

Sigh, I am so tired of increases in postage! Stamp Prices to Go Up 2 Cents in the WSJ.

I have not increased my shipping charges, even if Priority Mail and Media Mail have already increased. And orders over $25 can get free shipping in the US!


China's Rural Household Ownership of Goods

Great article in the WSJ, unfortunately it's subscriber only. In the print edition it was called "China Sees a New Market in its own Backyard"

Ownership Changes per 100 Households of Durable Goods

Goods In 1990 In 2007
Bicycles 118.3 97.3
Color TV's 4.7 94.4
Mobile Phones 0 77.8
Washing Machines 9.1 45.9
Refrigerators 1.2 26.1
Computers 0 3.7


Monday, February 9, 2009

Bull Market for Feng Shui Masters

Bull Market for Feng Shui Masters
Feng shui masters are finding an especially receptive audience for money matters after a year of massive losses for banks.

Great read!

This quote just got my attention:

"The incoming U.S. president and [Treasury] secretary were both born in the Year of the Ox," said one client. "Is that a problem?"

Mr. Yeo's answer: Yes. The pair of oxen in charge of the U.S. economy could be an accident waiting to happen. Hold out until after January 2010 before investing in the U.S., he advised.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

iTunes in Taiwan

Interesting thread about iTunes in Taiwan. How Apple has taken care of the challenging issue of copyrights is you need to have a Credit Card from the country who's iTunes you are accessing. It may be possible to use a Gift Card from that country also. It seems there are only applications in the Taiwan store currently, no music.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

China in 2020 Breaking Apart

I was at a Borders today and there was a book about future trends, and one of the predictions in the book was China would fall apart by 2020. I have heard the same thing before, including one time by Peter Drucker.

My opinion on why this is wrong:

1. China's governments since the 1920's have been pushing Mandarin to be used nationwide, and it now actually is. Before the 1911 revolution it was a regional tongue used around Beijing, and now it is a true national tongue, part of an effort that has been continued to increase nationalism in China.

2. China has been building an infrastructure to enable movement across China. From a railroad to Tibet to highways across China, there has been a huge increase in the ability for people to travel within China. Look at how many people traveled during the Chinese New Year Holiday within China.

3. China is building a blue water navy. The recent deployment of ships to off Somalia is one example of the increase in capabilities, and China is slowly building up it's naval capabilities including aircraft carriers. Recently they built a training facility for aircraft pilots and have bought a couple of air craft carriers. One from Australia (studied then junked) and three from Russian (one is an amusement park), other has been made part of the Chinese Navy. China has also ordered two air craft carriers to be delivered by 2015 from Chinese yards.

4. Do not underestimate the amount of nationalism in China.

5. The leadership of China is also very aware of Chinese history.

Quote by the author of the study, George Friedman at Stratfor.Com:

There are many who predict that China is the next challenger to the United States, not Russia. I don’t agree with that view for three reasons. First, when you look at a map of China closely, you see that it is really a very isolated country physically. With Siberia in the north, the Himalayas and jungles to the south, and most of China’s population in the eastern part of the country, the Chinese aren’t going to easily expand. Second, China has not been a major naval power for centuries, and building a navy requires a long time not only to build ships but to create well-trained and experienced sailors.

Third, there is a deeper reason for not worrying about China. China is inherently unstable. Whenever it opens its borders to the outside world, the coastal region becomes prosperous, but the vast majority of Chinese in the interior remain impoverished. This leads to tension, conflict, and instability. It also leads to economic decisions made for political reasons, resulting in inefficiency and corruption. This is not the first time that China has opened itself to foreign trade, and it will not be the last time that it becomes unstable as a result. Nor will it be the last time that a figure like Mao emerges to close the country off from the outside, equalize the wealth—or poverty—and begin the cycle anew. There are some who believe that the trends of the last thirty years will continue indefinitely. I believe the Chinese cycle will move to its next and inevitable phase in the coming decade. Far from being a challenger, China is a country the United States will be trying to bolster and hold together as a counterweight to the Russians. Current Chinese economic dynamism does not translate into long-term success.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Learning Chinese Buying Guides

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Chinese Made Easy Buying Guide

Chinese Made Easy Buying Guide - A work of art! Sure took long enough to do.

On one page it has the Chinese Made Easy textbooks, workbooks, teachers edition for each level, making it very convenient to compare. For both Simplified Chinese Characters and Traditional Characters.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A school that teaches 'unteachable' students

A school that teaches 'unteachable' students - Times Online

UK Teacher who is being nominated for Teacher of the year there. Wonderful story, I like how she has a dog, yes a dog, in her class as a way to reach out to students. And how she painted the loos (water closets, oh American Term - Toilets) so change how people regarded them.

The quote " and got the boys to decorate the loos so that they were a source of pride rather than spaces associated with bullying"

Bathrooms in many K-12 schools I have been at are often dehumanizing. Concrete floors and look like something out of a prison. Some of them deliberately have no doors on the stalls (and this was a nicer High School/school district where I took my CBEST). A great way to find out about a company is by visiting their bathrooms, same thing with schools.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

China Airs Video of Hurled Shoe

China Airs Video of Hurled Shoe - Washington Post.

My guess is to show the statesmanship of China's President and potentially generate sympathy.


Monday, February 2, 2009

China's Schools

Interesting blog post from the Washington Post. I disagree with the conclusion. The Hidden Flaws in China and India Schools

The blog post in Class Struggle points out that the very poor in China get a lousy education, and will actually use private schools due to cost issues.

I have no disagreement with that, what I do disagree with is the conclusion that this reflects education around the country. I have worked a lot with people from China and there are a lot of top schools that are producing excellent graduates. From reading in the comments there are private schools for the middle class and rich that are world class.

The challenge for the US is we have an excellent College System overall, but the quality of our K-12 really varies. In the High School I student taught at, the drop out rate was 60% which I view as a crime.


China blames pollution for surge in birth defects

China blames pollution for surge in birth defects - LA Times. It's being blamed on coal power plants. The one that I am afraid to ask about is the Electronic Recycling. It's positive that China is being more open about the birth defects.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Some Silicon Valley companies thinking twice on outsourcing

Some Silicon Valley companies thinking twice on outsourcing - SJ Mercury News.

Part of the worry includes contract manufacturing in China, for what happens if the manufacturer goes out of business? And many businesses are closing in China.


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