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Friday, October 30, 2009

Chinese Halloween Ideas

A Candy that is great to give out to a Chinese Class, White Rabbit Candy. Very famous and delicious candy from China.

Some coloring pages (free to use) that are Chinese related and can use on Halloween:

Monkey King DVD would be fun to show on Halloween:
- On sale for $18.88


Chinese on the Web in 5 Years

What the web will look like in 5 years
ReadWriteWeb.com reports Google CEO Eric Schmidt envisions a radically changed internet five years from now: dominated by Chinese-language and social media ...

and this:

Five years from now the internet will be dominated by Chinese-language content.

Interesting... Mr. Schmidt is a very smart guy. Something to think about.

Another reason on Why Learn Chinese


Thursday, October 29, 2009

China's Pirate Headache

Time line so far:

1. A Chinese ship was taken over by Pirates. Oct. 19th.
2. China's military said they would take back the ship.
3. China refused military help from the US, Britain, an/or France
4. Now the ship is anchored off a Somalia town and China is in secret negotiations. Oct. 27th

Personally, I don't see any good face saving ways for the Chinese Government on this mess. I hope I am wrong.


Saluting Cars

NY Times article - Salute All Cars, Kids, It's a Rule in China.

Take awys
  • Shows lack of feedback avenues on local government officials.
  • Shows how press and web users can impact in a positive way.
  • Shows the power of local officials.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

SUPERFUSION: How China and America Became One Economy and Why the World's Prosperity Depends on It

There is a really neat seminar tomorrow morning called: SUPERFUSION: How China and America Became One Economy and Why the World's Prosperity Depends on It.

The speaker has a blog looks very good on content and I agree with him that China is not going to revalue. Reviews of his book at Amazon look very good.


in association with The Asia Society of Southern California and KPCC featuring:

SUPERFUSION: How China and America Became One Economy
and Why the World's Prosperity Depends on It

Zachary Karabell

Economist, Author, Political Analyst, TV Commentator
in conversation with James Flanigan, Business Columnist and Author

Thursday, October 29, 2009
Breakfast: 7:45 A.M. TO 8:30 A.M. Forum: 8:30 A.M. TO 9:30 A.M.

630 West Fifth Street, Downtown Los Angeles

RSVP by Wednesday, October 28 to:
Ted Habte-Gabr ted@druckerbusinessforum.org

"In this provocative new essay, Zachary Karabell lucidly sketches out the tectonic shifts that now compel us to redefine how we relate to China. Karabell's is an urgent call for Americans to shake off their torpor and complacency before it is too late and recognize how China has changed the global equation."
-- Orville Schell, Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society

Author and economic and political analyst Zachary Karabell was once deemed by the World Economic Forum as a "Global Leader for Tomorrow."
He is the President of River Twice Research and the Senior Advisor for Business for Social Responsibility. Previously, he served as Executive Vice President, Head of Marketing and Chief Economist at New York-based investment firm Fred Alger Management. He is also a regular commentator on CNBC, and a contributor to Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, and The Washington Post.

In his newest book, SUPERFUSION: How China and America Became One Economy and Why the World's Prosperity Depends on It, Karabell explores the vital and unique relationship between two of the most powerful economies in the world today - China and America - and how they are upending conventional wisdom and reshaping the global system. Karabell traces the twenty-year history that began with the suppression of the protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989. The Chinese leadership adopted a policy of aggressive economic reform and courted U.S. companies and expertise. He shows how U.S. corporations such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, Proctor & Gamble, Avon, Nike, General Electric, Siemens, and IBM are integral to the Chinese economy and how their investments in China helped create a new international system of trade, production and capital flows. In the meantime, China has moved beyond being a poor country that produces cheap retail goods consumed by the U.S. and Europe.

The Drucker Business Forum (formerly the ALOUD Business Forum) is made possible by the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management. Join us in celebrating the Drucker Centennial week of Nov 2, visit www.drucker100.com


Monday, October 26, 2009

Taiwanese Restaurant in Miami

On my families Southern Vacation after visiting the Everglades my family decided to go try a Taiwanese place. Chu's Taiwan Kitchen Bar. Surprising to find a Taiwanese restaurant in Miami. The owner came out and had a chat with my in-laws in Taiwanese, and he was nice enough to make up some real Taiwanese food for us. My in-laws had a great time and I had my usual pork shop rice :-)


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Red Dawn 2010 with China as the Invader

I saw the original Red Dawn in 1984 opening night and the audience cheered when the Russian translator was killed. The tanks and BMP's they used were amazing on the accuracy. I saw it on discount recently and bought it to show my daughter and have a talk about the times that produced this movie and the Cold War ideology and fear of the Soviet Union at the time.

Now a new Red Dawn is being produced with the Chinese as the invaders.

I"ll b honest - I just don't see China in the role of invading the US. Taiwan, that is a threat. Teaching lessons to countries close to it - India and Vietnam has also been done. Building up a the military is along term goal that was shown in the recent China's Anniversary parade.

But invading the US?

If you want to do what if scenarios may be theoretically possible in 25 plus years if everything went wrong for the US (great Depression in the US that somehow does not affect China, so China's economy continues to grow and the US collapses). But the truth is the US and China is so intertwined with our economy that is just not possible.

Another scenario is a coup or new leadership that is bent on replicating the outbound spread of communism as the old Soviet Union did. Again, China is much more interested in economics now, rather than conquering nations. Conquering neighbors is more headache than it used to be and actually costs money, instead of makes the country money. And with the Chinese people being promised and expecting a better standard of living, I don't see China spending twisting their economy as the Soviet Union with the focus being on the military that resulted in a poor economy, and did not produce Military equipment as good as the US.

A third scenario is some new technology upsets the military balance with the US and China. But of the ones possible I don't see how this would allow for a Chinese invasion of the Us. An interesting one is a anti-carrier ballistic missile developed after President Clinton had 2 US carriers sail near Taiwan that changes the situation on defending Taiwan. Question is what US technology is going to counter this one (none yet).


New Chinatown - Why No Great Bread Places

Yesterday after dropping off my daughter at So. CA Honor Choir practice at Nazarene University on Point Loma in San Diego, we stopped by a bread place that had a lot of people there. I did not even check it using Yelp on my iPhone that morning since I was in desperate need of a Hot Chocolate and the name was so cool, Rustic Bread.

We walked around the area after the Hot Chocolate (A+ quality, tables outside were a little unstable so a slight spill on me when I bumped the table). So we then went sight seeing and I finally got to see an air craft carrier. I had wanted to see one in New York, then another in Oakland, but there was never enough time. So finally I had enough time due to my daughter's choir practice in San Diego. The aircraft carrier Midway was a great tour. There were a huge amount of volunteers who were just full of information. We spent 4 hours on the carrier and finally left because we were hungry (they have a cafeteria that is OK, my only complaint was charging $3 a bottle of water, but it is worthy cause).

So ate lunch and went back to get my daughter. We asked if she wanted a hot chocolate and found out she had a group meeting at 8PM that night. Answer was yes on the Hot Chocolate - good genes :-) and we stopped at the Con Pane Rustic Bread, but right outside I checked it out on Yelp and it has 115 reviews! Wow on the food. Lots of it and very fair prices.

There are a lot of Chinese and Korean Bakeries in the Rowland Heights area, but the usual Chinese Whip Cream pastries. Not real bread places at all. At Con Pane Rustic Bread we had some more Hot Chocolate and I had a Roast Beef Sandwich. We also ordered a selection of the 3 sweet breads (my thought to0, but it was the sugary type) and we just told the person taking the order to select 3 pieces. We got 3 huge pieces of bread, one was chocolate, another hazelnut, and the third was a white bread along with cream cheese, butter, and a cranberry topping). And a seasonal scone. We only ate about a third of what we ordered, because there was so much food! And it was delicious. I hope one of the local Chinese/Korean restaurants decides to emulate this place (and separate themselves from their competition).


Chinese Pronunciation

My dear Daughter got a group project assigned on Friday for US History. Lesson Plan due Monday. So she had to go Friday night (so she missed Miss Saigon which we already had tickets for) because she had to go to a meeting. Then on Saturday, after driving to San Diego (2 hour drive) for a rehearsal for the So. CA Honor Choir she had another group meeting.

She had written down the directions and put in my iPhone, and not address. So she called her friend, who was most definite it was an S, not an F. Then we asked what the major street was. It sounded like Californ. I could not find this, but I knew I was close. So I finally had her friend E-Mail. Pronunciation of the street was totally wrong (no i and f should have been a B). I am guessing the parents did not know how to pronounce the street and just passed it on to there daughter. It was interesting and when I got home, my wife asked me why it too me so long to drop off my daughter!

San Diego was nice. Practice was on Point Loma and we found this really good bread shop!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mandarin Vs. Cantonese

I agree 100% that Mandarin is huge, where Cantonese is becoming a much smaller market in the US. NY Times article today states that - In Chinatown, Sound of the Future Is Mandarin

Which is why my Learning Chinese Material is in Mandarin. I do get calls from time to time on Cantonese and I refer them to two physical bookstores I know that have Cantonese Material.

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Why Learning Chinese Matters

Amazing - The US Ambasssador to China does a speach in Chinese, and it makes the newspaper headlines.

Delegates praise Chinese FM, U.S. Ambassador for bilingual speeches

And of course some other reasons for Learning Chinese.


China's US Oil

China's oil companies, under heavy pressure to get more oil reserves to feed China's growing economy ares looking to buy some of the leases for oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico. Interesting, since the oil pumped from the Gulf currently supplies 50% of the US.

I am not sure how the US congress is going to react to this. It should be interesting!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Articles about China - separating truth from bias

I am confused... The article looks very good, about a movement in China in the Christian Science Monitor, yet there is a major piece of information left out of it. Once I found that out the article may be biased.

Why is the person writing this? Initially I though the article because the author is working on a Master's at George Washington University. For a Master's Degree at most universities you need to do new research in an area. This article appears to be based on the research the author is doing for her Master's.

But I did a quick google search because I wanted to know more about the person. The author definitely has an axe to grind on China.

In the article if this had been mentioned the author's affiliation, I would have appreciated it. Instead of finding it out by accident.

I am leaving out a few keywords because I need to focus on what my online Chinese bookstore does, which is sells Learning Chinese Materials, not politics.

Even if politics is so interesting! Disclaimer - both my parents have Masters in Political Science and I passed the Social Science Teacher's test by taking the test, where my education is in Business and Engineering.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Super Affordable Learn Chinese Videos

Would you like super affordable learn-Chinese videos for cheap?

Why not try browsing through our VCD section?

Since most people are using DVDs, our VCDs are priced low so that the items can find its way home to a good owner.

The titles are mostly fairy tales, plus songs that the kids will surely like. Some are in Mandarin and Taiwanese. The others are just in Mandarin.

Not all DVD players are able to play VCDs, though. You can play it with your PC as an alternative. So before ordering, please double check if you're DVD player or PC can run these.

Please browse our VCDs today .

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College Bribery in France - Chinese Students?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Traditional or Simplified Battles

Schools a battleground over dueling Chinese scripts - LA Times.

I grew up in the city next to Arcadia (Monrovia) and my parents still live there, so I am very familiar with Arcadia. Good article.


Halloween Costume Idea: Chinese Vampire

Sample look of little girl in Chinese vampire halloween costume

I wrote this for our sister site, EliteDresses.com. It's a retail store of little girls' dresses, and it also carries Chinese and Vietnamese dresses. I want to share this blog post here for those who may be interested.

If you use the idea for your child's halloween costume, please send us a picture. I can append the photo to this blog post. :-)

- - -

My dad liked watching action movies, including Kung Fu ones, so I can say I grew up watching an assortment of martial arts movies.

One thing in the Chinese movies that scared the heebie-jeebies out of me is the Chinese vampire. I don't know why but their hopping really scared me.

Chinese vampires are unsettled spirits that occupy the dead body. They go hop-hop-hop in a straight line. As you laugh yourself off at this, they go suck your life out. An antidote to quiet the hopping ghost is to paste a yellow paper written with the correct death mantra on its forehead. It senses living beings by breathing, so if you see one hopping in your path, hold your breath in so it will not sense you are there.

Anyhoo, the Chinese vampire is an interesting costume for Halloween. To pull this off as a halloween costume for your daughter:
  • Pull out your little girl's Chinese cheung sam dress or pants set,
  • color her face white or pale green,
  • put a yellow paper with Chinese characters on her forehead
  • have a toy-vampire teeth that she can wear if she wants,
  • fake long nails are also okay to put on if she's a little bigger and won't scratch her face out
  • give her her treat bag
and send her off hopping out the door. You can also try making a Qing Dynasty hat for her to wear if you like.

Tell her that Chinese vampires hop so she can hop for that extra effect. If she gets tired from hopping, you can tell her, yes, she is allowed to walk. (heehee, you know kids...)

Hope you all have fun this halloween!

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Asian American College Applicants

Asian-American Applicants and Competing Rationales for Affirmative Action in Higher Education - I find the entire subject of high interest, of course my daughter is going to be going to college in a few years and my family is so focused on helping her to do the best.

SAT Prep, tutoring, cello, piano, AP Classes, IB, Voice, etc.

Typical Asian type student looking at top schools.

And with the possibility since she's Asian, she may need to have even higher scores than others to get into the same college. Or since she's mixed will she not be affected?


Friday, October 16, 2009

Beijing's Air Improving?

Beijing’s Air Is Steadily Getting Cleaner, but the War Is Far From Won per the NY Times.
Pleasant surprise. Very impressive the small and major measures that have been taken to clean up the air. From moving a steel plant (that made no sense to be in Beijing to begin with), to giving residences electric heaters to reduce the use of coal in heating.


Learning Chinese Textbooks

I just redid this page on Learning Chinese Textbooks & Curriculum and I like how the page turned out. The goal is to make it easier for customers to pick out the right textbook for them. There is still more improvements to be done in this section, but this is a nice start. I got frustrated the other day in the Chinese Textbook area and so I finally forced myself to just do the changes that I have been thinking about for a while and had not found the time to work on it.

The problem with the previous page was just too much information that required scrolling down and just gave too much information on one page. Is it better to put the Chinese Textbook information on multiple pages, verses the one page that it used to be?

That is a good question, because forcing the end user to look at more pages is usually a bad idea. I personally get annoyed at web sites that force me to look at multiple pages, when only 1 was necessary. That cut an article into 4 pages, with not option to look at it on one. I try to avoid that with childbook.com


Thursday, October 15, 2009

China's Largest Exporter

In Recession, China Solidifies Its Lead in Global Trade -

Yum! Bao Bread Scrutinized

Bao is Chinese dough with meat or filling, wet steamed to yummy goodness.

After reading this article on bao from the LA Times, I certainly have cravings for this yummy steamed dough.

The char siu bao I always get to eat are the ones filled with minced meat in sweetened soy sauce paste.

I have always took this food for granted and never realized there could be a "food science" behind the perfect bao.

Also after seeing this article, it has been dancing in my head to try and make some bao for the family. I wonder how my child would react to a homemade bao?


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Reopening of Museum of Chinese In America

The Musem of Chinese in America in New York formally reopened last Sept. 22, sporting a new look and a new interesting exhibit you might want to check out.

Other than displaying the successes of prominent American-Chinese, it is also interesting to watch out for the 2 themes presented: The transition in the Chinese-Americans' own vision of their place in America, and other Americans' evolving perceptions of the Chinese.

Prof. James Bergquist wrote a Wall Street Journal article analyzing these as can be learned from the Museum. He tells of the conflicts earlier Chinese Americans experienced, such as stereotyping from other Americans. He also notes that internal conflicts have also risen inside Chinese American communities, especially in relation to siding with the politics in the Mainland.

I'm imaging it would be interesting to go there and see the stories for yourself. The new building is at 215 Centre St. in New York (the former one, at 70 Mulberry St., continues to hold research archives). Prof. Bergquist notes "The Museum of Chinese in America exhibit gives us a better understanding of many of these complexities of the Chinese-American story, although it perhaps softens its account of the internal tensions within Chinatown by focusing instead on those issues which united Chinese Americans."

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

6 Months? New Chinese Restaurant

Around Rowland Heights, a suburban Chinatown new restaurants start all the time. We went to one tonight and sadly, I"ll give it 6 months before it's gone. There have been a lot of restaurants where that one is.

  • Glass window on kitchen. Seems to be the new thing.
  • Water tasted horrible (get a real filter).
  • If your cook has nothing to do, don't talk to loud! My family could hear him clearly with a nice Beijing accent on the other end of the restaurant.
  • Check out the competition and figure out why you will be better. Check out pricing.
  • If you make Shau Lon Pau (sort of a steamed dumplings, dim sum), serve with a bowl, soy sauce, and spoon. And do it so the skin is not to thick, but not to thin. Tonight's was too thin resulting in the juice escaping. The correct way to eat it is put one on a spoon, so this way you don't lose any of the juice after you dip it in sauce in your bowl.
  • Gifts are nice. This place gave a cup of soy bean juice. Nice gesture, but I thought it was a bit watered down and not ice cold. My wife said it was fine and I was just picking on the restaurant.
  • JJ Bakery opened a cafe down the street and serves the same type of Taiwanese comfort food. And has a really cheap dish to bring people in. My wife's comment is JJ Cafe will just kill this place.
  • Don't make your food to salty.
  • Refills on ice water are nice! As well as tea.
  • If your going to use a number in a menu, don't keep on restarting the number in each section. Start at the front and keeping on incrementing! This avoids translation issues. So you want which #5?
  • A picture book is always nice! It saves guesses on a menu. Pork Chop Rice is one of my favorite dishes, but I have seen it done so many different ways! From the name you would think it's pork fried rice. Nope, it's a piece of deep fried pork on top of white rice, usually has some ground pork on it, Soy Sauce Egg, some cabbage, and tofu. Sometimes the pork chop is cut up, sometimes boneless, sometimes coated, and other times not.
  • Give the bill before asked! And don't wait till it's asked for to calculate it.
  • If you have nothing to do, instead of chatting, check on how your customers are doing.
Some very good food related books and dvd's:
The books by Grace Lin are great! So is the cooking with kids DVD's. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles is for adults and is a good read.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Dyslexia for Chinese More Complicated than English Dyslexia

Dyslexia is the difficulty to learn to read and spell, despite intelligence, opportunity and instruction.

I thought this is a heart breaking hurdle for English speaking children, but then again, I just found out that native Chinese speakers may also have dyslexia, and apparently, they have it more difficult than English dyslexics.

This article talks about how Chinese dyslexia is more difficult for kids. English dyslexic kids usually have problems with only recognizing sound, or, just the images. It is rare to have both. Apparently, Chinese dyslexics often have difficulty with both.

I hope less kids have dyslexia, and those who do eventually overcome this learning challenge.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

License Plates in Surburbia Chinatown

On the way to Home Depot (3rd visit today) and saw a license plate that ended in 666. 6 in Chinese means smoothly, works great, etc. and is a lucky number in general. Per the Bible it's an unlucky number.

Then I saw a car with 444. 4's are the same sound in Mandarin as Death, so it's an unlucky number.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

China and the Dollar

The recent decline in the US dollar is challenging for China, since this increases the cost of their goods. I am curious to see if they will be intervening in the currency market as other countries have recently on the dollar.

Known Facts:
  • China has been helping finance the US National debt by buying treasury bonds.
  • China is economy is export focused.
  • China has a tremendous amount of investments in dollars.
  • China relies on a favorable exchange rate with the US.
  • The US is China's largest trading partner.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Chinese Class Vs. Self Study

For some Chinese Learners self study can be a great approach! There is great Learning Chinese software out there which makes Learning Chinese even easier!

What a Great Teacher can provide includes:

1. Correction of pronunciation
2. Having the right mouth shape for pronunciation
3. Group Activities such as Singing Chinese Songs
4. Opportunity for Group Learning
5. Positive Encouragement


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Gold in China

China's gold investors undeterred by high prices - Reuters.

Key points from the article I did not realize is China is the biggest producer and user of gold.

Gold is big in Chinese Culture and seen as a hedge when times are tough. The is also the speculation factor. My daughter when she was born was given a solid gold charm by a cousin. We did the same thing for a friends daughter. And when giving gold, 24k is best. Gold is also the color of luck, so inside Chinese restaurants writing will be in gold and names will also often be printed in Gold colored ink on business cards.

The above on gold is what I have picked up during my marriage.

A great book that I need to check out on this when I get back to the office on Chinese Symbolism is Good Luck Life: The Essential Guide To Chinese American Celebrations And Culture


Best Time for Weekly E-Mail

I actually finished the E-Mail last night, so technically only a day late, but the E-Mail program I has a timer so I set it to this morning.

It's a big question on what time is best to send E-Mails and every business is different. May be they should be sent in the morning, may be at night, and then you have the East and West Coast time differences, and then you have overseas!

A good way if you have lots of time and the right tools is do some data analysis. The problem is most E-Mail tools for sending E-Mails don't talk nicely to your web site. Unless you invest a lot of money...


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Taiwan and China

Interesting Op Ed. in the NY Times on Taiwan's relationship with China that is a very good read, no matter your political view on Taiwan and/or China.

Taiwan and China by PHILIP BOWRING.

The big question is the relationship between Taiwan and China, and as the editorial mentions this is being figured out.

The editorial does not mention there are a lot of people in Taiwan who are deep Green (as well as Blue, not sure if there any Reds anymore).

Since I don't keep up much on Taiwan politics, my apologies in advance for any errors, unintentional insults, etc.

Colors of Taiwan Politics Explained:

Green = DPP or Party President Chen is from and is made up of people descended mostly from those in Taiwan before 1949. Also called native Taiwanese, but the aborigines were there before them.

Blue = KMT that ruled Taiwan through a dictatorship until democracy was introduced and has support initially from people who came over in 1949 and their decedents.

Reds - My take on Red was they just hate President Chen's guts. Since President Chen is out of office, seems have disappeared from Taiwan politics. Red with Chinese usually refers to China's government, which is totally different than this.

If you see people in Yellow Vests, usually religious.

And the majority of people in Taiwan are happy with the current relationship politically between Taiwan and China (if it's not broken, don't fix it). China is being a lot nicer to Taiwan recently, allowing it to join many international forums, just long as the Taiwan name is not used directly, instead Chinese Taipei is used.


China and the Environment

A recent article from the NY Times is very hopeful on reducing Global Warming due to the actions that China has started to take. International Energy Agency Sees Gains in China It also noted how the global recession has also helped slow the rate of pollution growth down.

China sees Green Technology as a key area for future economic growth, and a great way to develop an industry is increase domestic usage. Examples of this are requirements for solar hot water heaters (California should do this, Israel does), increased energy efficiency standards, and higher gas mileage requirements.


Bao Recommendations

My Mother in law (who I live with) makes Bao. She does a nice job and the dough is good. She's very opinionated when the family goes out to eat. I wonder if I can translate this The trick to making bao? Starting with the perfect dough

A couple of things in the article that I disagree with.

1. Just because a Costco carries it does not make it universal across the US. Costco's carry different items depending on their markets. The ones in the LA area seem to carry more Asian items than other Costco's. I was pleasantly surprised by my local Costco carrying Moon Cakes. And then selling them at $15.88 (being very culturally sensitive on the pricing, 8's are lucky, and you want to avoid 4's, so no $14.99).

2. 99 Ranch Market only has their stores in more Chinese areas mostly in California (28 of them). Most people in the US don't have a 99 Market around them. If you do, they are a great place to visit and they usually have a food court!

A fun book for kids to introduce them to Chinese Food is Dim Sum For Everyone! by Grace Lin


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

MyStore Cafe

If you go to Mystore Bakery, a Chinese Bakery in City of Industry right before closing you can get baked goods at half price. We stopped by tonight and were told 2 for a $1. So we bought a few nice pastries. They also have Fan Twans. It's rice, with a fried dough inside, with dried pork, and sometimes Chinese pickles. This one also had an egg.

My only suggestion was the place should also sell soy bean milk in the fridge. They have coke, 7 up, etc.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Web Redesign = House Remodeling

The closest I can come to what a web site redesign entails, is remodeling your house. Your tearing your entire house apart, rebuilding it, while your still living in it. Remodeling is also pretty stressful if you have ever gone through it. It's a huge project that can consume your life. And you are doing a balancing act of being helpful, and getting in the way of the so called professionals.

The closest I came was when the second story of my parents house burned. We lived in the back in a trailer for a bit, the moved into the downstairs while the contractors rebuilt the upstairs. My parents and I (10 years old) did a lot of work removing wall paper con the first floor, that had been damaged by the water used to put out the fire (water damage was a major headache), correcting the sloppiness/uncaring of the contractors, and having them redo the work to do it right. It was very stressful for my parents, but the end result was pretty good. Even if we still kept on finding shortcuts the contractors had taken that were penny wise, and pound foolish and fixing them for years. Which is why I used the word so-called professionals, the contractors that were hired did a poor quality job that still leaves a bad taste with me 30+ years later.

The nice thing about doing it for a web site, like www.childbook.com is it goes a lot faster. And if your web site is set up correctly, when you make a change to a button on one page, every page that has that button is also changed. I am very lucky that I am working with a very talented web designer. The challenge is being helpful, and not getting in her way. Another challenge is I had made a lot of tweaks to my site to make it easier to use for customers. With this brand new redesign, all those minor changes are gone! It's a major task remembering what has been done and deciding if they should be put back in or not. For a minor change can have a major impact!

Probably what I really need is a brand manual, UVP, and tag line for my site! Just using some Marketing words there.

My goal with my web site is:

1. Easy to use for customers. No training should be necessary. Just intuitive.
2. Easy for customers to choose the right product.
3. Professional looking, and not the DIY look it had for many years.


More and more Chinese Choose to Celebrate Moon Festival Outdoors

This is a nice article in Shanghai Daily, telling about the different places Chinese people went to on Moon Festival night.

Some went to the parks, some went to resorts, some also toured Taiwan.

The article also mentioned that the young aren't as into moon cakes, but still have it for tradition's sake.

It's a nice read.

I hope next year, your family will also celebrate the Moon Festival outdoors. It can become one of those family routines that our kids can later fondly look back on and share with their own kids as well.


Who is that Happy Guy in the Lion Dance?

For those of you who watch lion dances (maybe you've seen one yesterday) sometimes there's this happy Chinese guy in an ever-smiley mask that walks/ struts/ celebrates with the lion.

Who is this guy anyway?

Some call the smiling man the Dai To Fut or Big Buddha Head. In the Traditional Southern Style of Lion Dancing, the Dai To Fut tames or lures the lion with weapons, such as a fan, a rake, or a horsewhip.

In other versions, this guy is also called the "Laugh Monk." One of the legends tell of a village in China terrorized by a lion. The people didn't know what to do about the lion, so they asked a Buddhist monk for help. The monk was able to tame the lion and it is said the lion eventually became the the protector of the village.

Nice story, eh.

For the northern style of lion dancing, the one for entertainment, the masked dancers are also called "Happy People." They tease, play with or help the lion get its food.

There is also a version of the legend wherein the villagers, to scare the lion in return, brought out their pots and pans and made a lot of noise. The noise was effective in scaring the lion away.

I guess this is where the cool lion dance music came from :-)

More pictures :

If anyone knows the other versions of Chinese legends regarding the lions and the Dai to Fut, please do share with us.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Solar Tarrif on Chinese Products

From the Mercury News - Unexpected tariff on solar panels may further strain U.S.-China trade relations

Not good...

What happened was since solar panels have gotten more complicated, the category they are categorized in has changed to electrical generators, and resulted in an increased tariff. The eventual result will be Chinese companies will just do final assembly in the US to avoid the tariff. But, since the change in classification and the affected companies did not know, their are penalties that may be liable due to the past due tariffs. And with many solar companies selling at a loss, this is like rubbing salt in a wound.


Moon Festival Coloring Pages & Work Sheets

Great for those doing anything special for Chinese Moon Festival for their classes.

I stopped by the Moon Festival at the local mall by http://www.yesmarketinggroup.com/ as it was shutting down. May be will try again yesterday. Their web page is interesting. It took me a while to figure out how it works. Cute one you figure it out.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Talking to your Baby

Good advice from the NY Times - From Birth, Engage Your Child With Talk

There is a mention of a child learning a second language in the article through the Mother Speaking Spanish and the Father English to the child. For Learning Chinese my wife and I did the same with out daughter, and still do even though she is in High School.


Why Chinese Joint Ventures Fail

Great article from the Wall Street Journal - Danone Pulls Out of Disputed China Venture

What was unusual about this one was how public it was.

Key Points from the article:
  • Founder of Wahaha won in Chinese Court by playing on the Nationalism angle, while Danone won internationally. Translation - rule of law is poor in China.

  • The founder of Wahaha sold Wawhaha products that were made in his own factories, while per the contract Danone owned 51% of Wawhaha. Translation - Rule of law is poor in China. I have heard so many stories of factories having two exits for products, one for those made legally, and another for those made illegally. Or of two shifts being run. One during the day for products produced under a licensing agreement, and the other for products made outside the contract. Which brings up the issue when is a fake a fake, when it's made in the same factory? Another story was a company made a device in China, the manufacturer then when directly to department stores and took away their market. After that their are many products they refuse to make in China due to the potential of this happening again.

  • From the article about pitfalls of Joint Ventures - Partners have stolen corporate secrets, cheated and otherwise sabotaged a venture, while legal avenues have had little effect on disputes over operations.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Analysis of Chinese Anniversary Parade Symbols

BBC Article with great pictures - China's symbolic celebrations

Another BBC article made a key point:

At the 50th anniversary a decade ago, 24,000 soldiers took part in the celebrations. This time, only 8,000 marched past. The emphasis has shifted from manpower to technology.

A though provoking analysis from the Wall Street Journal with the following key points on the parade -my thoughts below in italics:

1. The Chinese state will try to project strength.
China is projecting strength as a way showing legitimacy for the party through playing up the nationalist angle.

2. the Chinese state, for all its apparent might, is deeply insecure.
Andy Grove of Intel had a book with the title, Only the Paranoid Survive. I believe this describes the Chinese leadership, especially with how so many other communist governments have quickly collapsed (like Romania). So I agree with the insecure part.

3. The Communist Party is becoming increasingly divorced from its subjects.
I am not sure on this. The party seems to be very in touch with it's subjects, it may not be reflected in the official media, but they know where the challenges are in China. Environment, Corruption, and the Economy and dealing with these is a challenging balancing act. Act to harshly against corruption which goes very high in the Chinese government and you could discredit the party. Environment verses jobs. And keeping a high rate of economic growth to keep the Chinese people happier.


The Chinese Lion Dance

One of the more interesting performances to watch during any Chinese festival or event is the dragon or lion dance. The dances look similar, of cute animals with dancers inside. Their synchronic movements often make us want believe the fluffy animal is a real, living animal.

The most obvious difference between the lion and dragon dance is that the dragon is a much longer creature, with about 10 dancers inside. Meanwhile, lions have 2 dancers inside, one for controlling the head and the other for controlling the hind part and the tail.

Ah, but the persons enclosed inside are not ordinary dancers. Rather, they are very skilled martial artists. To pull this off, one actually has to have distinguishable strength and coordination. You can't really lug all that costume around and manage to be cute or powerful and synchronized if you don't have the body strength.

- - -

The earliest dragon dances were recorded about 2000 years. It was used for entertainment of the royal court.

There are many legends about the origin of the lion dance. It's kind of weird for a lion symbol to be revered when lions aren't really endemic to China. But, legend says an emperor had a dream about an animal that saved the emperor from harm. The emperor didn't have an idea what that magnificent animal was. Later on, a consultant informed him that what he dreamt of was a lion. The emperor did not forget how the animal saved him in the dream, so he considered the lion as a symbol of luck and protection.

Those who belong to martial arts centers get to perform the dances during special occassions like New Years, Moon Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, weddings or special birthdays. They train long and hard to be able to perform beautifully. So if any of you are interested to join a dragon dance troupe, ask your nearest martial arts centers. There are also Dragon Dance Associations throughout the US and one may just be near your area.

To close, here is something I found in YouTube. It's an old video but I can't help but love it. I hope you like it too.


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