Monthly Archives: September 2004

Big Blue Baby!

Big Blue Baby!

Yeah! I got a job offer from IBM Shanghai for a senior educational writing position. “As someone with a clear passion for non-profit work, how do you feel about working for a big MNC?” How many times was I asked that question? Fortunately, I have a cool answer for it. If you’re curious, let me know and I’ll fill you in. 🙂

I am so thrilled. The pay is low by US standards but quite good for Shanghai. I talked with two people on the team, and the job sounds totally cool. I’ll basically be 1) writing e-learning pieces from scratch (after being given source data from the experts 2) edit existing documents 3) do project management. Is that a fine fit or what? Teaching continues to be rewarding, but honestly it is quite tiring and in some ways tedious. With this job, I feel I’ll be able to multi-task with a lot of different things. And this job is quite close to our place. I really can’t wait. I start full-time on October 11. Full time at an MNC office in Shanghai. Wonder what it’ll be like. Wish me luck!

The Parentals

The Parentals

Blame it on the election year– in the last several months, my relationship with the parents has really soured. Honestly, I was beginning to resent them for their weird blend of Republican elitism and snobbery… Fortunately, I was rightfully reminded that I should respect my parents no matter what. I mean yeah, in many ways they are very obsessed with educational pedigree and professional prestige, but as John explained, that is not so much a characteristic specific to my parents. Rather, it’s a Chinese thing. The other hangup I have/had is my parents will vote for Bush again. So yeah, not good. I try to argue that Bush is anti-woman and anti-immigrants and anti- any sense at all, but in the end, their decision is driven by taxes and malpractice issues. I know my parents have never forgotten their humble beginnings. They still treat people they meet–of all socio-economic status–with respect and kindness. So I guess even if they support someone who’s a total asshole to less fortunate people, I guess it helps that they don’t adopt his policies directly. Still, it’s weird: they never seem to support my passions to help underprivileged people… Anyway, the point is, we have our disagreements and varying points of views, but they aren’t complete aliens. 🙂 At the core, they really are good, generous people (unlike many other Republicans), so I am proud.

Subject switch: what is up with all the crazy weather going down in FL and CA? Four hurricanes and an earthquake? Poor residents. Jesus Christ. The US is going to hell. Speaking of which, I was listening to NPR and Democracy Now today. What a goddamn mess in Iraq AND Afghanistan. And the mainstream media is reporting that more women are voting Republican because of the security issue? What the hell? Are these women complete idiots? Have they been through airport security lately? I do NOT feel more safe. This is total bullshit. God all that Department of Homeland Security crap is such a joke. Have these Bush voters noticed the deficit lately? Hello? Fiscal conservatives? Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. Morons.

Okay, enough name calling. Hey, anyone want any of our old books for sale at I got a lil’ Santa helper administering my shipping/handling. Heh, heh.

God, I’m on this new allergy medication and it makes me drowsy. Feel all loopy and shit. Okay hitting the sack early.

Citigroup onboard!

Citigroup onboard!

Got an email today from Rainbow Consulting: Citigroup Shanghai finally signed on for Communications Training. So that’s all fine and dandy because we’ve been chasing this project since June. But during the entire process, as we inched closer and closer to a deal, I kept harassing Dan (the boss at Rainbow Consulting) to give me the terms of her offer to me. Basically, Citigroup is her client, and I’m the trainer she has sold to them for this project. Still, she never told me how much I’d get paid, what the expectations were, or any other details of my arrangement with her. So two days ago, she emails me saying we got the job and that the pay is about 1/3 what I originally quoted to her. Sure, I didn’t expect her to pay me exactly what I seeked, but come on… putting it off til the very end and then hoping that urgency will force me to accept without negotation? That’s plain stupid. I’ve gotten screwed far too many times by employers already. So the bargaining is on. We’ll see how she responds.

In other news, the ISAW Global client is working out wonderfully. My lessons with Frank are brief– only 60 minutes, but I can see that he is pleased. Last week he even mentioned wanting to have me on his staff doing recruitment for technical clients… I’m open to hearing more…

I got an email from IBM Shanghai today. They have a senior writing position. Sounds like a job for which I am well suited– editing and writing e-training documents. How cool would that be working for Big Blue?

Outside the job hunting front, we’re coming up on Zhong Qiu Jie– Mid-Autumn Festival. I liken the holiday to a Chinese Thanksgiving. It’s basically a time to gather with families to watch the full moon and eat mooncakes.

John recently got his business cards printed. So professional. He made two designs this time. Despite issues with quality control and color consistency, the cards for the most part came out okay, especially considering they cost only $6 USD/box.

John is doing well. Since moving to China, he has lost over 20 lbs, thanks to a combination of eating less, drinking less soda, and exercising. I’m so proud of Bubbey. He looks and feels so much better. New version of Bubs!

Move the Brain Design Services

Move the Brain Design Services

John and I FINALLY got around to getting my business cards reprinted. Well, not really reprinted–I ran out, so I just ordered another batch. Last time, we got them done at Sir Speedy. John spent hours at their copy center holding the designer’s hand. I mean, to be fair, the transition from an Adobe design file to something in hard print ha always been a challenging, tedious, confusing process. Complicate it further with communication using everyday (vs. trade-level) Chinese, and you’re pretty much doomed to fail. So anyway, the first batch was a disaster. The colors were all off, and the job was pricey as hell. This time, we went to a local print shop, interacted with a few middle men, and voila. My cards came out pretty close to the original design– still not perfect, but certainly good enough. And 100 cards only cost 45 yuan (less than 6 USD). John, aka Creative Director of Move the Brain Design Services, is now hard at work on other biz card projects. He designed one for our brother in-law Dan, who runs his own auto-detailing service–Addicted to Detail. This morning, I was on the phone back and forth with the printer/designer. After a lot of dumbing down on the phone, super slow IMing in Chinese (yeah, baby!), endless modifications to the software, and repeated uploads, I think we finally arrived on the same page. I do hope the cards come out well. We should get them tomorrow or the day after.

I wrote my first proposal this week for Move the Brain! That was fun, especially for an anal person like me. It was for that Cabot Chemical job that I mentioned earlier– the President of the company wanted some training with pronunciation, communication, and cultural shit. So I did a bunch of research on potential sources for picking up US cultural literacy… anyway, I spent forever on the proposal. Fortunately, I had the benefit of working on my awesome new laptop— so at least I didn’t suffer through random shutdowns and the like. Of course, I did spend three days installing all the software I needed, moving my files over, and searching for stupid Sony drivers (which aren’t posted on their website!). Fuckers. Back to the story though… Sheng (the President) liked my proposal. He just had two requests: 1) lesson plans one week in advance 2) a lower tutoring rate. The Chinese—they’re all about the negotiating. Everything and anything is up for debate. Gotta be ready for that… I emailed him my response. We’ll see where that goes….

Always waiting…. that goddamn Citigroup job. I emailed the consulting firm (who would hire me as their trainer, contracted to teach Citi), and Dan said the Citi Pres is reluctant… he may need some additional convincing from Citi HR and upper management. So we may not hear about the job until after the national holiday (October 1-7). Argh!

In other news, I’ve been doing some food prep lately. Honestly, I hate cooking (yes, food prep falls under cooking for me) but still, I’ll admit it’s a practical skill to have. So a few times this week, after John came home from the gym, I made sushi rolls and cooked pasta. I know, nothing fancy but hey, baby steps.

Oh! Exciting news! John discovered some of our beloved TV shows online. So, no more deprivation. We watched the first ep of Nip/Tuck season 2 last night. So good. Other shows are already in the pipeline: Newlyweds, Good Eats, and Trailer Park Boys. Yipee!

BTW, I watched/listened to a bunch of DNC speeches this week. That was fun. Check em out online at The Dem Convention. My new quote of the day (from Teresa Heinz Kerry): “There is a value in taking a stand whether or not anyone may be noticing and whether or not it is a risky thing to do. And if even those who are in danger can raise their lonely voices, isn’t more required of all of us, in this land where liberty had her birth?” Right on!

Oh and a great speech by Sen. Barack Obama. I especially like these lines: “In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism here—the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope!”

New Happenings

New Happenings

This week’s kicking off to a different beat. SABIC cancelled again for Wednesday (nothing new there), but on Monday I started tutoring Hong, the supervisor at our local beauty salon. Months ago, on learning that I was an English trainer, she expressed interest in learning English but then was disappointed my rates were so high. After some thinking, I decided to tutor pro bono. To my surprise, she reacted suspiciously. After many more months, I think she’s finally felt ready to trust me– or at least she wanted to learn English so badly, she didn’t care that it sounded too good to be true. Anyway, the lesson went well. As always, I was a little nervous beforehand. But once we got going, it went well. We only covered a little bit in two hours, but I am very pleased. You could really see her eagerness and excitement to be learning. The cool thing is that she’s been talking about it with the other ladies at work; she said three others are also interested in learning. I sort of think of this as my consolation for not finding an NGO in Shanghai. Internally, I hope that the English training will enable these young women to find better paying jobs– perhaps still in the service sector but maybe with employers whose clientele include foreigners. Establishments that predominantly service foreigners always seem like a notch above. I’m not sure what their motivations are for learning English. I tried to get a sense when I talked to Hong on Monday, but she didn’t explain. I guess it’s good enough that she just wants to learn.

I started my lessons with Frank this morning. He’s the director of ISAW Global, an executive search firm. It’s helpful making contacts with HR recruiters…. you’ll always know someone who’s up on the market. Anyway, the lesson was early– I was up at 6:30 for the class at 7:45. Wanted to make sure I got there on time. The hour went extremely well. I think he was really pleased. We covered introducing yourself at a conference/party, talking about his company in detail, talking about his background, ending conversations, and some light writing. It was pretty cool… I may consider teaching more people in the mornings. Frank was definitely more awake and interested.

What else is new? Hmm. I’m making some new friends, which is exciting for me. I went to a networking event last month and met some cool Europeans. I’ve been in contact with them via email since then. I met with Noor (Dutch) for lunch, and we will meet JB (cool French dude) for dinner/drinks this week I hope. I’ll keep you posted.

Btw, anyone shopping for a laptop? My compaq presario is still chugging along, except for that strange, random bug where it just abruptly shuts off. Yes, the unit is about 3.5 years old… long story short, John and I have been crazy researching my next notebook. The nutty thing is, I settled on three others before finally purchasing a new Sony Vaio S170 today. I can’t believe we made such a big purchase in China. I originally was holding out to buy in the US, but since warranties don’t usually apply outside the country of purchase, we were kinda stuck. Anyway, my new laptop is sweet!! But for those of you in the market, my research turned up a number of good products. Of course, I like a hi-res screen– I like to see a lot of stuff, even if they are small. That said, I give good marks to the following (in no particular order): 1) Acer Travelmate 800C 2) Gateway 450Eb 3) Samsung X30 (not available in US). There you have it. They all run near $2k. My Vaio is kickass, if you’re ok with a wide aspect 13.3-inch screen.

Introducing Li Qiang

Introducing Li Qiang

Can’t believe how long it’s been since my last blog. I guess with John’s blog on the scene, I decided to sit back and read someone else’s for a bit. His is hosted through his mac account, and apparently the apple blogger software is quite the thing. He can embed pictures and all. Sorry readers, I lack that level of blogging sophistication– you’re gonna have to just suck it up and click over to Imagestation.

This has been another busy week. Thankfully, hurricane season is bringing all sorts of strong breezes to Shanghai. Some days are entirely rainy, but we are just relieved for the cooler weather. The summer was utterly unbearable.

I’m learning that September in China is kinda like New Year’s in the US. I mean, yeah the kids are back in school, but besides that, there’s this weird sort of New Year’s Resolution attitude about things. I’ve been responding to teaching/training ads all year, and suddenly, I’m getting lots of bites. Everyone wants to starting their English training–for real, this time. I had maybe three interviews last week. I’m still waiting to hear about the Citigroup gig— god, companies take FOREVER with these things. In the meantime, I asked Rainbow Consulting to send me their draft contract with me… I’m waiting on that too. You gotta get that kind of logistical shit on the table. Otherwise, they practically assume you’ve accepted without them even mentioning your pay. It’s a strange and tricky approach over here.

I got an email this morning… just picked up a new client– the director of a small HR company. Actually, the director interviewed me last week looking for a trainer for his staff. The company ended up picking someone else, but he wanted me to be his personal trainer. So whatever. I’m game. We start this week– 8am twice a week. No games.

Another interview last week was with the president of Cabot Chemical, a global chem company in Shanghai. The guy is super hardcore– wants to learn about food/wine, arts, American football, public speaking, PR… all kinds of high-powered stuff. I guess he meets regularly with CEOs and the like. So he printed out this confusing, fluffy Newsweek article (I know, uncharacteristic of Newsweek) about the King Lear play currently running in NYC and wanted to understand it. I was honest with him… I could teach him pronunciation (one of his goals) and higher level reading, but my experience with more of the business etiquette/cultural things is somewhat limited. I have no problem researching and presenting my findings to him, but really the only people I know who have this level of experience are people my parents’ age. I mean, these people are a different breed– they run in different circles. I’m thinking Mrs. Rubin, John’s co-workers… I just played in the landfill and met with solid waste operators while I was in the glorious world of consulting. Regardless, I offered to put together a proposal and we’ll go from there. Not sure what he thought of our interview. I was just myself, meaning I was articulate, but I wasn’t like a public speaker or anything. This guy has downloaded all the DNC speeches even! The project sounds really interesting and I would certainly learn a ton… but it will be a lot of work. Oh well, we’ll see how things go.

In other news, Wu Ayi taught John and me to make jiaozi’s (dumplings) today. That was a LOAD of work–chopping, slicing, peeling, squeezing… none of our gadgets could help us. 🙁

John has finally chosen his Chinese name: Li Qiang (or Qiang Li, as they would turn it in English–different sequencing of the first/last names). Li is a pretty common last name that is also easy to write. Qiang is sometimes used for John. There you have it. We’re going to have new business cards printed this week. I’ll take pictures when they’re done.

Ok. Time to prep for class. Hope you are having a good Labor Day holiday!