Learning Chinese for Kids Blog
10% Off - Join our E-Mail List!
Subscribe so you get a weekly, fun to read Learning Chinese E-Mail newsletter including sales, tips, events, and new product announcements. Unsubscribe at any time safely! A 10% off one time coupon ($25 minimum purchase) will be sent to you with your E-Mail subscription.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Crazy Bad Air Quality in Beijing

U.S. Embassy air quality data undercut China's own assessments - LA Times

One day this month, the reading was so high compared with U.S. standards it was listed as 'beyond index.' (originally crazy bad due to programming that got changed.  The readings are automatically posted on twitter and on an iPhone application.  The readings are taken from on top of the US embassy in Bejing.  The official China's assessment of Beijing's air that day was merely 'slightly polluted.'

The core issue is since the Chinese government has said the air pollution has improved after the 2008 Olympics, bad air quality is embarrassing.  What has happened is there is a huge increase in cars in Beijing.


Entrepreneur Thrives in China, Where Many U.S. Chains Have Failed

Great article showing how one US Entrepreneur succeeded in China, where so many US Restaurant chains have failed. He now has a chain of 11 restaurants.

A Secret Recipe in China - WSJ.Com
Entrepreneur Thrives Where Many U.S. Chains Have Failed

  1.  Focus on your customers
  2. Avoid partnerships
  3. Provide value to your customers
  4. Watch your competition
  5. All marketing is local


Friday, October 28, 2011

WalMart - China's Food Safety Scapegoat

Good article from the Economist explains what happened to WalMart, and Why.

China's change of leadership is in 2012, and many candidates are working hard to impress everyone.  So WalMart was a great, safe, big target that was made an example of for the mislabeling of pork, and was made into a Scapegoat.

Food safety in China In the Gutter- The Economist
An American firm is punished, but China’s food safety problems run much deeper

I did not know about Gutter Oil, wow.  With an estimated 20M Tons used annually. Its used cooking oil that is reused for cooking. And a reporter died investigating gutter oil (stabbed 10 times). The price difference between gutter and good cooking oil  per ton is $470 (3000 Yuan) vs. $1560 (10,000 Yuan).

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 27, 2011

California leads nation in escalation of college costs

This is not an area that I like California leading in...

California leads nation in escalation of college costs - LA Times

And a related article:

Rise in Sticker Price at Public Colleges Outpaces That at Private Colleges for 5th Year in a Row - The Chronicle of Higher Education


Learning Chinese Complaints

I just had a very nice chat with a Professor who teaches Chinese, and we were sharing our observations about the challenges of teaching Chinese.

Learning Chinese Frustrations:
  1. Native Chinese teacher, who does not know how to teach (just because they are a native Chinese speaker does not make them a great teacher).
  2. Too much use of English in the class.  When I was teaching ESL, I was not teaching in the students native language.
  3. Material is not relevant to the age.  My ESL experience was teach people English they could use right away and practice.
  4. Just memorizing lists of words.  This is not how you learn a Foreign Language.  You learn it by practicing it.
  5. Material which is not labeled who it is best for (there is a huge difference between a student who speaks Chinese at home, but born here, students with no native speakers at home, and students who just arrived from a Chinese speaking country).  1st Grade Chinese material in China/Taiwan is 1st grade in the US, for example.
  6. Chinese schools that are just baby sitting
  7. Material that has age inappropriate words.  In English when teaching at 1st grade, you don't use 12th grade vocabulary.
  8. Material that is not kid friendly.
  9. Material that just focuses on learning Chinese Characters.  Learning Chinese is not only learning a few Chinese characters.
  10. Lack of a clear direction in a Chinese class.  Learning a few Chinese songs is not Learning Chinese.


Monday, October 24, 2011

AP & College Credit

I wonder if its deliberate that many AP Courses can only be used for General Credit.


Why are AP Scores not Online?

Frustrating, to get your AP Scores sent to a college you did not put on the answer sheet originally, you need to call an automated system.  No, you can't login to the college board site and take care of it like you can the SAT.



Toddler Death Update

Quick Recap - A 2 year old got hit twice in traffic in China, and then 18 people passed by and did not help her, till an old peddler did.  Its gotten a huge amount of press in China. There was an incident in China where a good samiran had to pay part of a hospital bill for the person they helped.

I just found out the child died, and the two drivers who hit her are awaiting trial.  The incident was captured on a security camera,

This answers some questions to my post Good samaritans in China, but now I have a few more.

Toddler's Death Stirs Ire in China - WSJ

Peng Yu, in 2006, helped an old lady who fell in Nanjing in 2007, and was forced by a court to pay 40% of her medical bill.  The court explained since he had helped her, he must have had some fault in her fall. 

My question is who filed the lawsuite on the bill?  Was it the old lady, or the hospital?  Was the judge paid off to give this verdict?

After some googling, the answer was the old lady sued.  There is a problem in China, with the lack of a safety net, where the old often live in poverty.
A 45,000-yuan helping hand: common sense, decency, and crowded public transportation

Some more examples of Good Samaritans running into issues in China. China Scares Off Good Samaritans - The Economic Observer

It seems this is very similar to the fraud done with fake car accidents in the US, where a person will stop all of a sudden in front of you.  This happened to a friend of mine when I was in college.


Siri and Learning Chinese

If Siri releases an API for Siri this could revolutionize language instruction. Siri is the voice command ability for the iPhone 4S.  How Siri is different is it gives a natural language understanding.

What I see is instead of the traditional textbook, all of a sudden you could have a voice interactive teaching of a foreign language. I see this as a game change for foreign language instruction.

Siri on the iPhone 4s will be in Chinese in 2012 - Shanghai List

Labels: , ,

Friday, October 21, 2011

$52,000 for US Boarding School for Chinese

Good article about how some Boarding Schools are mis-leading in their promises to Chinese parents.

Chinese Lose Promise for $52,000 as U.S. Schools Exploit Need - Bloomberg


Improved Media Mail Tracking

I had a pleasant, positive, surprise today.

A customer called up and had been following their tracking for their package, and saw it was in sorting in a near bye zip code.  The post office for this package had the tracking information for where I dropped it off, the central sorting place, and the sorting office for her district.  It should be delivered tomorrow.  Usually with Media you only see it when its been received (was a may be) and when delivered.

A very nice change!


The Grace Foundation

Great organization that is delivering medical, education, and resources to orphans and disadvantaged children in China.  I spoke with their President last night, Nancy Robertson.

The Grace Children's Foundation | Delivering Medical, Education and Humanitarian Aid Resources to Orphaned and Disadvantaged Children

They also have a project that students can lead. Love, Heal and Educate Children Campaign - The Grace Foundation


Won Kow's past interwoven with Chinatown's story

Chinese restaurant in Chicago, I know a lot of people who's first job was in a Chinese Restaurant.

Won Kow's past interwoven with Chinatown's story - Chicago Tribune
Long-lived restaurant has a past that's intertwined with changes in the neighborhood

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Jewish in China

My family went to the Skirball Cultural Center (1st weekend of the month you could get in free if you were a BofA customer), and in one of the exhibitions they mentioned Jewish in China that were in Kaifeng (decendents of Persian traders).  Something I was not aware of. 

And the LA Times just had an article

Chinese Jews feel more at home in Israel - LA Times
Descendants of Persian traders in Kaifeng, China, move to Israel with the help of a religious group and finally learn Jewish rules and traditions.

If you live in LA, I highly recommend going to the Skirball Cultural Center no matter you age.  The Noah Ark's exhibit, for example, is great for all ages.  Another exhibit on Jewish Magician's of the Golden Age is excellent (sad how little Magic has progressed, we saw many of the same tricks and props at a recent magic show..

Labels: ,

CA Community College

Their is a huge drop out rate at California Community Colleges, most of the Cal State Colleges, and even some UC's.

Unfortunately this article does not have a lot of useful information.  The first year drop out rate is 20%.

California spends billions on community college students who drop out - LA Times
California expenditures on such students over five years totaled $480 million, report says. Many students are ill-prepared for college, get too little support and aren't helped by remediation, the study notes.


Occuppy Wall Street worries China?

Make sense, since any type of protest movement is a worry to the Chinese Leadership.
Chinese leaders grow nervous about Occupy Wall Street - LA Times


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Good samaritans in China

Lots of blog posts about this (there is a video I would guess from a security camera):
Chinese toddler run over twice after being left on street - The Telegraph
A Chinese toddler was run over twice and ignored by nearly 20 passers-by in Guangdong Province in a case that has caused outrage around the world.

I would like to know more about this:
Others blamed China’s compensation culture for the apparent show of callousness, recalling a famous 2006 judgment when a Good Samaritan who helped a woman get to hospital was wrongly ordered to pay her compensation.


The three types of Chinese students

A good article to think about type casting Chinese students into three types:

1. Rich and is going to have fun.
2. Believes in the American Dream
3. Could not get into an Elite College in China

The three types of Chinese students - Daily Illini.com


Mandarin has the edge in Europe’s classrooms

Mandarin has the edge in Europe’s classrooms - Financial Times

Nice article, with a lot of interesting statistics:

1 in 30 US class rooms teaches Mandarin now per the Center of Applied Statistics


Rowland Heights Bank broken into

Burglars break into Rowland Heights bank - SG Tribune back in August.

Amazing.  And what I heard was a lot of people put cash in their safety deposit boxes (cash businesses to avoid taxes you do not put it in a bank account).  Rumor is the thieves came in through the roof and that some of the safe deposit boxes had around $200,000 in them..


Why Me? Mail Box Broken

The shared mail box in front of our house got opened, as if by a giant can opener.  The same thing happened to the one for our business complex about 2 months ago.

Frustrating! Luckily this happened Saturday night, so we had already gotten our mail.  The sheriff who came over to our house commented he has all his mail sent to a PO Box.



Abandoned Supermarket Carts

Recently I have noticed an increase in abandoned super market shopping carts near where I live.  And what was surprising is nobody called to have them picked up, until I finally did for two of them. There is an 800 #, and with my trusty cell phone, it was an easy call to make.


Real LA Chinatown Tour

$20 for 2 1/2 hours, and is put on by the Chinatown association, first Saturday of the month.


Nice photo blog of the tour - Chinatown Los Angeles: 'Undiscovered' Walking Tour Unveils Vibrant from Culture from Neon Tommy Blog


Monday, October 17, 2011

E-Commerce in China - US Companies

NewEgg and Amazon are both in China! Amazon is the #3 retailer in China.

Forester Research forcasts a 27% compound rate of growth in e-commerce in China from 2010 to 2015.

Risk and Reward - Internet Retailer

With the world’s largest online population, China beckons to North American e-retailers.


India vs. China

Fascinating chart.


The literacy rate is what jumps out at me, 63 vs. 94% . 

A site with world wide literacy rates, that has a little different numbers


Top 5 Most Expensive Colleges

 And the top five most-expensive colleges in America are ... - LA Times

About $60K per year including textbooks, food, and room.

Per this post, NYU is at $62K after all expenses.  And if your living out of state, plus airfare.  One of my vendor's son is going to NYU, and the Mother has a bit of sticker shock over the price.


Scary Article - Hacked!

A scary article about when a person's E-Mail got hacked.  A scammer (probably Nigerian) got access to their E-Mail, and then started sending out everyone they knew a tale they needed money due to an emergency.

Hacked! - The Atlantic

And more about the country that produces scammers like this:
The Chilling Story of Genius in a Land of Chronic Unemployment - Tech Crunch


Chinglish Broadway Comedy

What is emancipated cow's juice?

Fat free milk.

In 'Chinglish,' Language Barriers Are a (Bad) Sign of Current Times - WSJ Review

The play is by David Henry Hwang

A friend of mine replying on a student list, when I was in graduate school, had a great comeback for a person commenting on his grammar "excuse me for my Chinglish".

Labels: ,

Sunday, October 16, 2011

PinkBerry Rowland Heights RIP?

The PinkBerry in Rowland Heights closed last week.  I was out walking my dog, and we heard the sound of jack hammers.  We went up and inside PinkBerry people were removing the floor coverings.  PinkBerry had a stone covering on top of the regular concrete floor.  Their last day open was October 10, 2011.

My wife's theory is my daughter's class all graduated and moved away for college, reducing the customer base for PinkBerry :-)

My guess is PinkBerry over expanded during a yogurt craze and recession.  With the end of the yogurt craze, increased competition (2 other yogurt places across the street that sell by the ounce), and continued recession their was not enough business at this location.

Labels: ,

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Why do so many Chinese Restaurants have TV's?

My wife and I are starting to just not go to many Chinese restaurants because they have TV's inside of them.  At Garden Cafe in Rowland Heights, the TV is in the wall and at face level for each of the booths on West Wall (with the exception of 1).  My opinion is if I am going out, its to enjoy the company of the person I am with, not to watch a TV.  And they have a little sign, asking you not to turn off the TV and a plastic cover making it harder to turn off.

I was surprised when the local Marie Calendars even has a TV inside of it.  I can understand Sport's Bar's, but a sit down restaurant?  Many of the Chinese foot massage places also have TV's in them.  One reason to choose a non Chinese massage place is to get away from the TV's.

The smartest TV usage I have seen was a place that played video's of a Taiwanese game show, so you had the feeling you were in Taiwan. It actually added to the atmosphere of the Taiwanese restaurant (since gone, Yummy Bowl, replaced by class 302). The other one was in a Vietnamese restaurant that played a soccer game in Spanish and even had a Hispanic waiter, with the result there was a lot of Hispanic customers.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

LAUSD agrees to revise how English learners, blacks are taught

Interesting is the politest thing I can write...

The drop out rate for Black and Hispanic students in LAUSD is just wrong.  60% at some schools. And yet, LAUSD has some magnet schools that are excellent, in the same district.

LAUSD agrees to revise how English learners, blacks are taught - LA Times

Officials say the accord, which settles a federal civil rights probe, could be a national model. The district is not accused of intentional bias, and deciding how to make changes will be done locally.


Video Neighborhood Watch

The traditional Neighborhood Watch I have a feeling is soon going to be replaced by a Video Neighborhood Watch.  Where home owners add a video camera system at their house, and then other neighbors add video cameras and arrange it so the street they live on and share is covered with video coverage. And there will be sign, soon I am sure, advertising the area has a Video Neighborhood Watch.

When I googled the term, Video Neighborhood Watch, nothing came up yet. May be it will be combined with something like Home Elephant, a social media application for neighborhoods.

And with the low cost of video systems, I see a huge growth in home installations soon. Costco had an 8 Indoor/Outdoor Security Camera system for $499. From a privacy prospective, since they are located on private property there is no legal issues I can think of. 

Labels: ,

99 Market no plastic bags? City of Industry

LA County in unincorporated areas has banned plastic bags, but the 99 Ranch Market we went to last night is in City of Industry, not an unincorportated area, had no plastic bags!  And yet they did not have plastic bags and seemed to be following the ordinance for unincorporated LA County.

Per this official map they are in Industry:


And yes, I sent an E-Mail to 99 Market asking them why.


iPhone Shipped

Per the FedEx tracking, our new iPhone 4S just got scanned in Hong Kong, and being shipped directly to me in California.  And it was probably just finished being made a few days ago.



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

$55K, the new $50K

19 private colleges are now charging $55,000, or more a year.

College sticker shock: Is $55,000 the new $50,000? - Washington Post


Monday, October 10, 2011

Makes sense...

Same thing happened with file sharing, when legal online music at a reasonable cost finally became available (iTunes), it substantially reduced file sharing.

In China, fake phones are losing appeal

Falling prices of popular high-end mobile phones and consumer demand for features that crude clones lack are helping China shed its label as a knockoff haven.


College Model - Private Vs. State

Starting to Worry - Inside Higher Ed

Good article talking about how the Higher Ed Model that has worked for so long is changing.

At my daughter's college she is attending (a state University), they had a record Freshman class this year, because more people accepted than the university thought would based on historic models.  Universities will accept more students based on the fact that only a certain percentage of accepted students will actually attend.  My guess is the reason for the huge increase in acceptance by students is due to cost.  Compared even to a UC, much less a private university, state colleges are a great deal in California.


Plays & Kids

I enjoying going to see good plays.  The challenge is its hard to find plays that are well done.  This weekend I got lucky and saw a nice one in Long Beach with discount tickets.
I liked how the announcer explained why plays are special.  They are live, so everytime they are done they are unique. The actors/actresses afterwords had a receiving line, which was a nice touch.  The theater only seats 40 people, and was packed.  The Sherlock Holmes was well done (I have watched all the Jeremy Brett episodes).

Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles or the theater site http://www.lbshakespeare.org/
Long Beach Shakespeare Company's Richard Goad Theatre (Long Beach, CA)


Shark Fin Soup Outlawed in California

But, there are exemptions...
Exempt species legally caught in California waters and existing stocks.  My 2 cents is this is going to cause problems with what is legal, and what got smuggled in. 

California ban on shark fins signed by Gov. Jerry Brown - The Sacramento Bee


Linkedin Scammer

I got this E-Mail last night via LinkedIn:


XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX has sent you a message.

Date: 10/10/2011

Subject: Investment


I am a consultant and have at the moment, a client who seeks to invest his funds. Please, if you are interested in an investment opportunity, kindly send me an email on the below email address or give me a call ASAP.


I will be very glad to talk more with you in regards to this opportunity.

Strange E-Mail, that does not even name my type of business.

So I looked/Googled the E-Mail address as well as the telephone number.  The telephone number had been reported as a SPAM one, and I found another E-Mail on web that was the exact same.  Appears to be a 419 scammer, sigh.

I then documented all this up in an E-Mail and sent it off to report_spam@hotmail.com  and Microsoft closed the E-Mail account! Kudos to Microsoft for helping to make the Internet a slightly better place!

 I also reported it to LinkedIn, but no reponse yes (I clicked a button saying report Spam, which did not have the ability to give any details).

I deleted the name and E-Mail above, since I don't want any direct contact with the scammer or start a war with them. 

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Differences in College Rankings

Cal Tech is a great school, that also has a summer program for high school students - which I went to, and yes, the steam tunnels under Cal Tech are cool! What I noticed in the article is how different magazines, get different results for their rankings for the same school.

Caltech ranked as world's top research university - LA Times

The Pasadena institution surpasses Harvard for the first time in the World University Rankings of the British magazine Times Higher Education, which were first issued in 2004.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

US Rice to China?

China sales could be game changer for rice farmers

 - SF Chronicle

China is currently importing Rice from Thailand and Vietnam, but not the US.


I smell politics at work.


China moves to rein in microblogs

I am not surprised...

I have been surprised they have become as powerful as they have in China.

China moves to rein in microblogs - Washington Post


Borders to Barnes & Noble

Borders is gone, and their customer list is now owned by B&N.  I will miss Borders.

It was so nice having a bookstore with a public bathroom!  The local B&N closed their public bathroom.


Burglary Prevention

A subject I am infortunately extremely interested in.  It seems thieves in our areas are targeting Chinese owned homes.  Why you ask?  Gold, cash, and electronics.

My 2 Cents after reading a few articles and having a local Sheriff look at my house:
  1. Dogs are great alarms, and discourage most thieves.  Even just a beware of dog sign helps.  And yes, I have heard stories of thieves who hurt dogs (taser, pepper spray, throw rocks, etc.).
  2. Add a home alarms with a monitoring service.  Get lots of quotes, and then combine the best ideas of the alarm sales people for your final installation.  And you can negotiate the price and term.
  3. Close all Windows and Doors, even on the 2nd floor.
  4. Keep valuables out of your Master Bedroom.
  5. Thieves know all the usual hiding places.  In bedrooms women's clothing drawers seem to be a common place for hiding items.
  6. Keep a record of all valuable items off site.
  7. Burglars love to steal electronics (game devices, laptops, cameras, camcorders, etc.), gold, cash, and ID stuff such as passports, Drivers License, blank checks, etc.  Keep valuables you don't need everyday in a safe deposit box. For laptops and phones, consider adding some type of remote tracking program (there are even free ones). For your laptop, set up a guest account as a honeypot.
  8. Call the police and ask for a home inspection (very useful - police are often targets at their homes for burglaries due to firearms).
  9. Case your own home.
  10. For upstairs windows, add a bar/dowel to keep them closed.  This way they can't be pried open.  I understand the window locks ones with screws on them, can be easily defeated.
  11. Broom stick handles for sliding glass doors.
  12. Add a 2nd Siren to your burglar alarm (burglars hate noise, and one alarm can be knocked off the wall quickly).
  13. Add a wireless caller to your burglar alarm (phone wires can be cut).
  14. Keep an extra car at home (when our house was robbed, the car was in the shop).
  15. Leave a radio on at home, when your not there.
  16. Use an automatic lights timer at night.
  17. Deadbolt your outside door.
  18. Pick up/stop newspapers while your on vacation.
  19. Deadbolt between your garage and home (thieves will often come through a garage door).  A trick I heard was they will open the garage, drive a van in there, close the door, and then load up the van with your household items.
  20. Shrubberies with thorns under windows.
  21. Add Video Cameras to your house (and put the DVDR in a safe place).  Wireless Video's need to be encrypted.  Test your cameras when you install them to see the resolution (for example if you have one pointed at the street, make sure it can read the license plate).  Costco and Amazon often have deals).  Per a Security Vendor in my Industrial complex, the quality of Video Camera vary.  You can also set up the video so you can remotely monitor them with a computer/smart phone.
  22. Secure your phone line and electrical if accessible from the outside.
  23. Consider getting noise sensors inside, since burglars do break windows to get in.
  24. Don't forget to protect your 2nd story (burglars will break into your 2nd floor if they see an alarm sign).
  25. Get insurance on everything you own.
  26. Don't make it apparent from the outside if your Asian (shoes outside, mirror over the door, statues of Chinese Gods).
Useful Links:

8 Easy (and Cheap) Ways to Prevent Home Theft - US News & World Report


How to Prevent Home Burglary – 8 Ways to Reduce the Risk of Someone Breaking Into Your House - Money Crashers

Theft Prevention - Travelers


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Foreign Buyers with Housing Prices

China Bullet Trains Trip on Technology

Excellent article on the possible causes of the high speed train crash in China.

China Bullet Trains Trip on Technology - WSJ

And unfortunately the 50 cent commenters are at work...

My take aways on the tragedy:
  1. Completion date was more important than safety.
  2. Building a domestic industry was more important than using proven solutions.
  3. Foreign suppliers were afraid of their technology being stolen, so they supplied items as a black box with limited information.

Labels: ,

Sino US Currency War?

Interesting times we live in, and unfortunately a bit scary.  And no, I don't know what the right thing to do on the issue of China's currency.

China Fires Back At US Senate Which May Have Just Started The Sino-US Currency Wars - Zerohedge

Hopefully this is true...

Top Republican says bill on China yuan dangerous - Reuters

I read some place somebody who complained this would have been helpful 15 years ago, but too late now.

And more positive news:
Club for Growth warns GOP against vote on China currency - The Hill


4 in Address

Amazing the impact having a 4 in an address can have on sales (4 in Mandarin Chinese and Japanese sounds like Death, so is considered unlucky).

Arcadia to revisit address change policy due to fear of four - SG Tribune


Company Info
Account Info
Customer Service
News & Info