I can’t believe I read the whole thing

I finally finished the book that I have been reading since March. I bought a historical novel, and started reading it before I realized that it was part one of four.  

 The story was pretty good, and it takes place during my favorite historical period in China (the Republican period), so I bit the bullet and bought the other three volumes. Little by little, I worked my way through the 1600+ pages.

When I finished volume four tonight, I rewarded myself with a glass of good scotch.

Now I have to decide what to read next.

Even buying a movie ticket involves drama

We went to a movie today. At the theater, there was a guy standing to the side of the ticket counter. We asked for two tickets, and the person working there said the tickets were 100 kuai. Immediately, the guy standing beside us said that we could get the same tickets from him for only 75.

Because we have been in China long enough, we looked for the scam. The person behind the ticket counter appeared unperturbed by the guy’s offer. The guy assured us that they were real tickets, he just “happen to have” a bunch of extra tickets that he was trying to unload. The ticket counter person indicated that yes, the tickets were real.

So I gave the guy 75 kuai, the ticket counter person asked us where we wanted to sit (movies are assigned seating in China), we went in and watched the movie.

Later I looked at the ticket more carefully. It was a group purchase for a local car manufacturing company. The scam was that the guy got hold of a bunch of tickets for 25 kuai each, then sold them for 75. He made 50 kuai on the sale to us. We paid 25 kuai less than we would have if we bought the tickets directly from the theater. The theater already sold the tickets, so they technically didn’t lose any money. The money that they lost was the opportunity to sell tickets to me at full price.

We are still confused about this transaction. I don’t think that we were cheated, but the experience makes my brain itch a little bit.

Bald scalps don’t need haricuts

I have a bald head. I’m cool with my naked scalp. I’m not like the guys who do the sad charade of growing their hair really long on one side and combing it over my bald pate. I’m a baldy, I accept it, let’s move on, OK?

In my dreams

In my dreams

Every time I go for a haircut, I tell the barber that I just want a simple bald guy hair cut. Guys with my (non) hair situation don’t have a lot of options for hairstyles. “Not ridiculous” is the general look that I’m going for.

But here in China, I seem to have some problem getting the message through. With approximately 95% less hair than the average person, why the heck does it take me the same amount of time to get a haircut as people with full heads of hair?

The guy that I have been going to lately might think that I’m in denial about my baldness, and so wants to play along with my non-self deception about my lack of hair.

Is he pretending to cut my non-hair?


Seriously, dude, there’s nothing up there. We don’t have to continue this illusion.

Even the hair-washing dudes at the place are in on this game. At home, it takes me approximately 7 seconds to wash my hair. Why does this fellow take 10+ minutes?!

You aren’t washing anything!

The haircut process usually takes me 15 minutes at home, but it takes almost an hour in China. Maybe I should go to those guys in the park who will cut your hair for 36ยข. It would be cheaper, and less drama.

Tho closest I will ever get to being a superstar


The view from my seat: 400 high school students.

I love visiting schools. The students are respectful, enthusiastic and curious. I talk about studying in the U.S., the U.S. college experience, and why they should consider going to college in America.

Schools always roll out the red carpet for us.


My name written in English, but in the Chinese order: surname, then given name.

I had the chance to visit two high schools in Harbin.

They asked me to sign their school yearbook.


“Best wishes,” blah blah blah.

Several of the questions were about financial aid and scholarships. I think that might reflect the “new reality” of the Chinese economy: slower growth and less liquidity.

After my talk, a few students came up to me to ask about emigrating to America. The conversation was a little awkward, because I was promoting U.S. higher education, not brain drain. But I tried to answer their questions without encouraging them either way.


Dancing around the emigration question.