Thursday, December 21, 2006


Umi ni dete
Kogarashi kaeru
Tokoro nashi

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Things to do in Guangzhou if you are bored - Go to the XinJiang Restaurant and watch the bellydancers

Yes, that is a real snake. This little slideshow is from my recent visit to the XinJiang restaurant in GuangZhou. The food is from XinJiang province and is Muslim food, no pork - mainly lamb. The Chinese people in Xinjiang are mainly Muslim and belong to the Uyghur minority group. They do not resemble the Han Chinese but closely resemble the people of Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Norvell Spearman, Jr.

Thirteen years ago today was the last time we spoke, the last time I heard your voice. You were in Hialeah, I was in Atlanta. We discussed plans about seeing each other during Christmas. Little did I know that this would be the last time that we would speak. I would have loved to have used a different picture but this is all I have left of you. This picture and precious memories.

During our time together, we had our disagreements - brothers always do. But you were much more than a brother. You were 15 years my senior. More of a father to me than a brother. You took me places with you and entertained me. You shared your life and knowledge with me. You gave me a great appreciation of reading, you taught me how to play chess, how to fish and when no one else could understand my problems, you were always there to lend an ear, to give suggestions.

I remember the summer I spent with you in Arkansas. Both of us so far away from home. Playing chess, reading my first Sherlock Holmes story - "A Study in Scarlet" - which you bought for me, getting up early and fishing at the lake (I cast your prized rod and reel into the lake and you dove in and got it), making instant pizza, eatin' raisins and baptizing me into Christ. Precious memories, how they linger.

You would be proud of your children. They are great, intelligent kids, they miss you deeply. You also have a wonderful granddaughter that was born the year after you died. You would love her. Intelligent, beautiful girl with your brown eyes.

I am sorry that we didn't have more time together. I miss you brother. How you ever flood my soul.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Things to do in Guangzhou if you are bored - Go to Hong Kong!

From Hong Kong Tri...

My trip last weekend to Hong Kong. This a view from Victoria Peak overlooking the skyscrapers of Hong Kong island. In the distance, across the bay, is Kowloon. Had baby-back ribs at Hard Rock Cafe and a great American style breakfast - a Denver omelet - at The Flying Pan in Wan Chai.

Below is a view of the Christmas decorations in Hong Kong at the shopping center near the Star Ferry terminal.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Things to do in Guangzhou if you are bored

Here is my list of things to do in Guangzhou if you are bored. I will expand on these in later posts.

1. Walk around outside and watch the people.
2. Screw with the minds of the cab drivers.
3. Get a massage at the blind people massage place.
4. Find new places to eat.
5. Buy a puppy.
6. Get a foot massage.
7. Try and read a Chinese newspaper.
8. Get a pedicure. (Okay I know this sounds gay but it's not. Bored people do strange things!)
9. Progressive subway stop exploring.
10. Leave town and go to Hong Kong or Macau.
11. Go to the XinJiang restaurant and watch the bellydancers.

Okay, as I said before, I will expand on each of these in later posts.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving in China

Another Thanksgiving. Last year I was home...home enjoying the food and the company of my family. This year, in China...a lot lonesome and a lot wishing for some good ham, turkey and potato salad.

So yesterday was Thursday here, still Wednesday in the states...but since it was Thursday I guess yesterday was Thanksgiving here for me. Nothing special! No turkey, no ham but DUCK.

I have an 阿姨 (a yi - literal interpretation "auntie" but more accurate translation is housekeeper). She is 65 years old and she buys the groceries for dinner every evening, does the laundry and cleans the apartment. She fixes dinner, cleans the pots and pans and then leaves. All this for 1,500 RMB per month including groceries - around $225 US dollars. I leave the food selection up to her - she can choose anything but fish, snake or dog and no chicken feet.

Last night's "Thanksgiving Meal" consisted of a small duck cooked in red peppers - chopped up in bite size pieces (bones and all), fried cabbage and of course, rice. The duck wasn't bad, a little spicy but delicious. I hate the Chinese way of chopping up chickens and ducks into the bite-sized pieces and having to eat around the bone. I am really not fond of poultry but if I must just give me a good ol' boneless chicken breast.

Anyway that was the meal. I washed it all down with a big 620 ML bottle of ZhuJiang beer. I then washed that down with a half a bottle of 白酒 baijiu (Chinese 'white lightning' - 56% alchohol). Needless to say, when I finished my Thanksgiving meal I was well snockered. I decided to go out for coffee which is something I rarely do. Two double shot expressos. My cousin Buddy always said that "drinking coffeee does not sober a drunk. All you have is a woke-up drunk." And thats what I was, a "woke-up drunk".

Went to the apartment, tried to sleep. Too much coffee and too many things on my mind. Finally fell asleep around 3 this morning.

This morning, not feeling too well. A little turkey, a lot of ham, a lot of potato salad would definitely have been better and a wiser choice. And thats what its all about isn't it? Making wise choices, something I always fail to do.

Anyway, enough of my rambling and post-drunken depression. I wish to all my family and friends a Happy Thanksgiving. Please eat a little for me.

Thursday, November 02, 2006



Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Well it's been a while since I have posted. Not much going on...but had to write about this. I am sitting in my hotel room in the new Wynn Casino in Macau --- AWESOME! Huge room overlooking the water in Macau and just finished a great American style breakfast here in the room. Been a long time since scrambled eggs, bacon and toast with real strawberry jam.

Not gambling, no Texas Hold'em but what a fun city! A meeting here today, then on to Dongguan, Shanghai, Yangzhou, Ningbo and then back to Guangzhou. Been a busy week last week, Hong Kong and the Canton Fair, and will be a busy week this week.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Taxi Talk

Sometimes revelations come from strange places and the angels that deliver them are often disguised as pretty common folk. Such was the case today as my cab driver said some things to me that I have often thought, but never verbalized. Today's conversation was one of the most interesting experiences I have had in my life...I hated to get out of the cab. I see things a little more clearer now, I understand things a lot better. Today's taxi ride was a call to action...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

6 Months

I recently received news from the states that a former co-worker of mine has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The doctors have told him that it is terminal and he has 6 months to live. This has been in my thoughts constantly since I have heard the news. We worked together for almost 5 years, during this time we had a lot of fun, we also had our share of disagreements. Hearing this news makes the memory of the good times seem so important and the disagreements seem so trivial. My heart and prayers go out to him and his family and I can only hope and pray that the doctors are wrong. He is a man of strong determination, if anyone can prove the doctors wrong, it will be him.

Back in June I came across the following entry from a fellow blogger. For some unknown reason I chose to save it on my computer and I discovered it again today.

"What if you learned tomorrow that you had but six short months to live?

This is the perspective the psalmist prayed God would give him. He said, “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath” (Psalm 39:4-5).

Thus, contemplating life’s numbered days can and should be a positive experience. If you are so inclined, perhaps the following questions will be of some assistance. If you knew you only had six months to live…

How would you start each day?

What would be your first priority in each day?

What relationships would matter most to you?

What would you do just for fun?

What would you look for in others?

What fences would you mend?

With whom would you make peace?

Would you have apologies to offer?

To whom would you apologize?

For what would you apologize?

What bridges would you build?

Whom would you forgive?

What grudges would you release?

What books would you read?

What books would you read again?

Would you want to write anything?

What would you write?

Whom would you write?

How would you spend your time?

With whom would you spend your time?

How would you spend your money?

What unfinished business would you tend to?

What would you be more willing to give?

To whom would you give it?

To whom would you show a special measure of love?

Would you walk away from an argument?

Would you take time to walk hand-in-hand with loved ones?

What burdens would you no longer carry?

What words would you eliminate from your vocabulary?

What thoughts would you refuse to dwell on?

How would you end each day?"

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hot, hot, hot

I grew up in south Georgia and I always believed it was the hottest place on earth, but now I know that Guangzhou has got Hahira and south Georgia beat in the hot department. It is hot here and the humidity, along with the pollution, is stifling. Today finally we got rain - compliments of Typhoon Kaemi over in Jiangxi province so things have cooled down a bit.

And for those of you that read the blog on a regular basis - friends, family and enemies - just a few news updates for you.

I moved to Guangzhou about 3 weeks ago and started a new job. I am finally once again working for an American company and living in a city that actually has Starbucks, McDonalds and Pizza Huts. I am living in a high rise in the central business district and it is convenient to the subway, restaurants and shopping.

Went to Shenzhen on Monday to met with our sales rep who handles Asia for our company. Took the express train from Guangzhou to Shenzhen. Normally this trip would have taken a couple of hours by car but the train is 1 hour and 15 minutes. I am convinced that public transport in China is some of the best in the world. The train and bus system in this country is amazing.

The guy I went to meet is a little older than me and an ex-pat like me. He has been living in Asia for over 20 years, so it was really interesting to hear him talk about some of his experiences over here. But one thing, real important thing, that he told me about was a store named "Metro" in Shenzhen. When we ended our meeting he helped me get a cab to Metro. Wow - this place is a membership retail store (only needed my passport to join) a lot like a Sam's Club, only smaller. The store had imported American canned foods, REAL coffee (not the powdered, instant kind that is in the Chinese groceries), cheese, butter, salad dressings, mustard, Häagen-Dazs ice cream and...and...ground beef patties. I did not want to buy any meat or ice cream and haul it back to Guangzhou but I did find out that there is a Metro store here in Guangzhou. Guess where I am going grocery shopping this weekend?

Next week - headed to Hong Kong and then to Macau for business. In Hong Kong I am meeting with a gentleman that owns a lock factory there. Before moving to Hong Kong many years ago he had a kid's afternoon cartoon TV program in the states. He was personal friends and was in a movie with Curly Joe DeRita, Larry Fine and Moe Howard, three guys that I spent a lot of time watching as a kid - aka, The Three Stooges. Should be a fun meeting.

Last but most important - Happy 22nd Birthday to Simeon on the 29th! I wish I could be there to celebrate. I miss you and I love you.

Well other than that things here are about the same...nothing exciting to report.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Chinese Haircut

One of the pleasures in living here is a monthly visit to get a haircut. It consists of shampoo, haircut and blowdry for the low, low price of 40 RMB (about $4.80 in US dollars). The haircut is cheap, by comparison to the US prices, but also involves so much more than the same services in the US.

First, the shampoo. The Chinese refer to this as "washing head" and not "washing hair". The whole head washing process takes about 20 minutes and involves a pretty thorough scalp and hair scrubbing -and also includes a very nice and relaxing face and scalp massage.

After the shampoo you are whisked away to the barber chair to wait for the next available hair stylist to come and start the hair cutting. While waiting for the hair stylist you are given a neck and back massage by the shampoo person. The hair stylist arrives and starts with the scissors and comb. Generally, haircuts for men are not too bad here but the Chinese barbers have a tendency to leave the hair a little long on the top - at least longer than my liking. Maybe they are trying to help me cover up my bald spot, who knows?

Hair cutting finished, back to the shampoo area for another 10 minutes of shampooing and then back to the barber chair for the blowdry. Not a bad waste of an hour on a Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Little Friskies

As further proof of the rare culinary habits of the Guangdong people, I offer the following article from Xinhua:

Activists protest against cat eating in Shenzhen 2006-06-18 13:35:09

GUANGZHOU, June 18 (Xinhua) -- A restaurant specializing cat meat in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, was forced to close Saturday after the protest of some 40 activists that drew a large crowd including children.

Isobel, founder of a cat-protection website based in Shenzhen and organizer of the protest, and other activists started the protest at 4 p.m. with a white rose on the chest in memory of the slaughtered cats, holding banners and handing out handbills to denounce eating cats and dogs.

Isobel, in her 30s, told Xinhua over telephone on Sunday that they chose the restaurant Fangji Cat Meatball because it slaughtered cats in the street and "it is very bad for the students from nearby schools".

One of the banners read "cats and dogs are friends of human being. Have respect for lives by stopping eating them please!"

In many parts of China especially the southern regions, people take cat meat as their favorite diet. Previous reports said that in Guangzhou alone the citizens ate 10,000 cats every day in the winter season.

The activists, mostly women, poured into the restaurant demanding its owner to set free the cats. They burst into tears upon finding a skinned one in a fridge.

There were no live cats in the restaurant as the owner, according to an eyewitness, relocated them to other places on Friday night.

"I cannot go on with my business, and I will not sell cat meat any more," the restaurant owner said after removing his shop sign from the wall. However, he persisted in Guangdong there is a tradition in eating cats.

"We will continue to protest if this restaurant still sells cat meat," Isobel said.

To her satisfaction, many students on the spot told Isobel that they would keep a close watch on the restaurant and report to her if anything happens to cats.

Eating cats and dogs is often seen in Guangdong, but "you cannot keep eating only because it is a tradition," Isobel argued.

Miss Shenzhen for the year of 2005 Gao Haiyun also went to the restaurant to protest, calling passengers to "stop eating cats and dogs and become civilized".

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Thank you for the soap, BUT...

One thing I have come to expect here is that you never know what to expect.

I went to the bathroom here at work today, "did my business" and proceeded to the basin to wash my hands. I saw that for once there was soap in the soap dispenser. I thought I was lucky, extremely lucky. This was going to be a GREAT day. I was actually going to wash my hands at work with SOAP. I dispensed more than a generation portion of the thick, gooey, smelly soap into my hands and prepared to "scrub up" like a surgeon.

True to Chinese style the unexpected happened...someone had turned the water off to the wash basin leaving me with a double handful of soap and no way to get rid of it. I ended up using the water from the drinking water dispenser to rinse my hands. Chinese boss, thank you for the soap, but if you can't give me water to wash my hands then I'll just use your expensive bottled water from the drinking water dispenser. Maybe next time I'll check and make sure there is water coming from the tap first.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

No Problem

Today the morning was ushered in with some of the loudest thunder I have ever heard in my life. Scared the crap out of me, followed by the rain coming down in buckets, a regular "toad frog strangler" as daddy would have said. So the lightning fireworks, the thunder and the rain prompted me to hobble out of bed this morning an hour early, 6:00 AM. I "hobbled" out of bed because I am dealing with yet another recurring bout of the gout.

Called Stan, my trustworthy Chinese assistant and asked him if the car would be on time this morning. It was 8:00 and he sounded like I woke him up. The answer, "Oh I thought that perhaps you would take the day off since you were having problems with your foot". Now how many times have I told him NOT to think for me, that western minds are NOT LIKE Chinese minds? He told me that he would call me back and let me know when the driver would arrive and I asked him to please ask the driver to come INSIDE the apartment complex and wait for me in front of my building because of my hurting foot and the torrential downpour. I was clear, VERY CLEAR about this. "No problem", says Stan.

Let me do a little translating for you. "No problem" means just the OPPOSITE of that in Chinese. It means we are going to find a way to make it a problem for you. We are going to take something very simple and turn it into something very complicated. I could write for days about this and give endless examples of how "no problem" always becomes the biggest inconvenience you can possibly imagine.

Calls back, car will arrive in 30 minutes, this means 8:30. 8:30 go out on the balcony and look. No car. Fortunately the rain had quit but my foot was still throbbing. Go downstairs, limp to the front gate of the apartment complex and there sits the driver eating breakfast, parked in his usual place with no intentions of following Stan's directions, that is IF Stan told him the directions at all. I was fuming! I practiced my best Chinese all the way to work with the intention to blast Stan once I saw him. Things like "how can we communicate complex things when you can't even get simple things straight?" or "What part of in front of my apartment don't you understand?"

I get to work, no Stan...he took the day off. I guess he wasn't counting on me working today so he decided he would slough off. If I had known this I WOULD HAVE taken the day off. NO PROBLEM!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Bye-bye DaVinci Code

The Chinese government, bowing to pressure from the Chinese Catholic church, has pulled the DaVinci code from the screens of all Chinese cinemas. The movie was about to overtake "Titanic" as the highest grossing film in Chinese history and had already earned more money than any film in China this year.

I guess the only way that I will get to see the movie now is to buy a $1.00 pirated copy of the movie from one of the street vendors. While the government is successful in pulling the movie from the theaters it is less successful in stopping DVD piracy.

Who says religion does not have a voice in China?

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Weekend in Guangzhou

Guangzhou...known to many as 'Canton' it is the capital city of Guangdong province and the home of 10 million people.

I may be moving there soon, so I decided to go and have a look around.

The place is huge! The best way to get around is the subway. The subway here reminded me a lot of the subway stations in Tokyo but a little less confusing to navigate. The subway was clean, cheap, fast and fortunately not too crowded. I suspect that this was due in part to it being the weekend. My guess is that on weekdays that the subway is very crowded.

I took the subway from the FangCun bus station to the TianHe district of Guangzhou. Guangzhou is divided into 12 different districts. TianHe is the 4th largest of these districts and has a population of around 1.10 million people. TianHe is the district where I may be working and is also home to all of Guangzhou's computer stores and a gigantic shopping center called Grandview Mall. Grandview Mall is 6 stories high with each level about the size of the Mall of Georgia.

I was more interested though in the places to eat than the shopping area. Inside the mall was a McDonald's, Pizza Hut, KFC, sushi restaurant, Brazilian steak house (like Fogo de Chao but not as fancy) and a Las Vegas style buffet restaurant, just to name a few. Saturday night I ate at the sushi restaurant and it soon became very obvious to me that the wait staff in Guangzhou are not as friendly as the folks in Zhongshan. All of them seem to have a "big city", snotty attitude. This proved true both at the Hunan restaurant that I visited and the Brazilian steakhouse as well. Taxi drivers were also a pain to deal with. People here are just not as friendly as the folks in Guzhen.

Came away with mixed emotions. Certainly a nicer place to live than Guzhen...more to do, more convenient to get around but none of that hometown atmosphere that Guzhen seems to have. I will be going back in a couple of weeks to look at apartments. Hopefully the real estate people are a little more friendly than the restaurant and taxi folks.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Dear Mr. Chinese Businessman

You need a lesson in entertaining and manners. I have lived here for over a year now and I have a few observations:
  1. Just because you like to eat snakes, pigeons and waterbugs does not mean that your customers enjoy the same delicacies. Most of them would prefer eating beef, pork or chicken rather than turtles, frogs, snakes and sparrows. Worst case scenario they would prefer KFC or McDonald's to some of the items that you expect them to eat when they come here. They are not impressed that the plate of conchs or the whole pigeons cost 150RMB. They are disgusting to look at and disgusting to eat. Save yourself and your company some money and take your customers to a Hunan or Sichuan restaurant where they can at least enjoy some decent beef or pork instead of the other critters that you want them to try.

  2. Turn off that damn cell phone! They are here to spend money with you, not listen to you rant for 20 minutes on a cell phone in another language. If you must, absolutely must talk on the phone, then excuse yourself, leave the room and have your discussion. Apologize when you return, then turn it off! That is much more impressive than continuing to take calls. Everyone knows you are busy, everyone knows you are an IMPORTANT person but make your customer feel important. After many of them have been on a plane for more than 20 hours to meet with you.

  3. Quit the hocking and spitting. It is gross as hell and nobody likes to hear or see this. Would it hurt to occasionally discretely SWALLOW that junk instead of making such a production of this?

  4. Stop trying to get them drunk. It's not funny and most foreigners do not 'slam' alcohol the way you think that they do. We do not do 'shots' in business settings. Most customers would prefer a good glass of beer or wine to cognac or baijiu. Most of them would rather sit back and ENJOY that glass of beer or wine rather than try and compete with your Chinese drinking prowess.

  5. Let them rest. Many customers that come to China have been on planes for more than 10 hours. The customers from the US, South America, and Canada have been traveling for more than 20 hours. Give them a break and let them rest. Make an early night of it for them and they will thank you tomorrow. Trying to keep them up by eating until 9:00 PM and then taking them to sing karaoke until midnight does not do you or them any favors.
Just remember, the people that come to visit you and your factory are your CUSTOMERS. They do not come here to entertain you but rather to spend money so you can afford to live in that nice house and drive that Mercedes or BMW. Calling them fat and stupid is not cute, some of them do know how to speak the language.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Do the Chinese Eat Dogs?

One thing that I am constantly asked by my friends in America or by our customers who I have the pleasure of entertaining is "Do the Chinese really eat dogs"?

As I have said in the past the Guangdong (Cantonese) Chinese are known for eating anything that flies but planes, anything in the water but boats and anything on the ground but trains and cars.

On this blog I have supplied pictures of my Chinese colleagues eating bugs and eating snakes. I have explained why there are so few cats in China. I haven given many examples of the dietary preferences of the Chinese. I have dispelled the rumors about "rice at every meal". I have introduced you to a wonderful, stinky fruit that is like eating banana pudding while on the commode. But I could not give you a definite answer concerning the "dog question". The evidence was lacking - until now.

I now offer to you convincing proof that the Chinese do in fact eat dogs and apparently they learn to enjoy them at a very early age.


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Monday, May 15, 2006

My Worst Nightmare

For almost 7 months I have dreaded the prospect of this - having to use a Chinese “hole in the floor toilet”. I have always made sure that I was not experiencing any intestinal discomfort or else I was in close proximity to my safety-zone of western-style commodes: my apartment, work, 5 star hotels, etc. in the event that I got in one of those “situations”.

But this weekend, a little too far from my safety-zones and a little bit too much spicy Sichuan food, my worst nightmare finally came true — I had to use a Chinese “hole in the floor” toilet. I won’t go into the “graphic” details but I had one of those occasions where “nature called” (actually demanded is a better word) and a good-old, western-style, sit-down commode was not within trotting distance.

Having never been trained in the fine art of “squatting” this proved to be a real comedy-of-errors. Also being short, middle-aged and overweight didn’t help either.

Fortunately, I did not end up flat on my rear-end on the floor, but other parts of the activity could certainly have landed a spot on “China’s Funniest Home Videos”. Also fortunate was that I have adopted the Chinese practice of taking a pack of tissues everywhere I go. I never understood this practice when I first came here. Most of the times these are needed at the Chinese restaurants because if they provide napkins they charge you for them. Now I FULLY understand why tissues are an everyday essential part of life in China.

So, if you plan on visiting Asia, or even some European countries, I suggest some deep-knee bend and squatting exercises before you arrive and don’t forget to buy several packs of tissues. You and the paper manufacturers in China will be glad you did!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Congratulations... the greatest son a man could ever have.


In a few short hours my son Simeon will be graduating from college. He is graduating with highest academic honors from Georgia Tech and I am so very, very proud of him. I am also so very, very sad and ashamed that I will not be there to share in this event.

He has made his mother and me very proud. He is honest, sincere and an all around great person. I'm sorry but you will have to excuse my bragging. He has never caused us any problems and we have been truly blessed by God for giving us such a wonderful son.

Thank you God for watching over him the past 4 years and please continue to bless him and hold him safely in your hand.

Simeon, I love you son and I wish I were there. Congratulations for finishing this next step in your journey! Thank you for making us so very, very proud of you.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Rocket Man

And I think it's gonna be a long long time
Till touch down brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I'm a Rocket man

Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone

And I think it’s gonna be a long long time...