Monthly Archives: April 2005

Vonage Works Now!

Vonage Works Now!

So after all my bitching about CT blocking port 5060, that didn’t even turn out to be the issue. I know, I thrive off the drama. You know you love it. Of course, identifying the true culprit took a gazillion calls to tech support…

So here’s the deal. Port 5060 is blocked; however, the problem was two-fold: 1)our WAN MAC address was registered under another Vonage customer’s account (this required some special problem ticket to resolve) and 2) our power converter fuzzed up the dialtone so badly we didn’t even know the line was live until Vonage called it. So things are good now that the line works, but god, Vonage tech support (or all tech support for that matter) sucks. From my wild goose chase, I’ve realized tech support reps are just a bunch of monkeys reading the same exact script. And even more annoying is their overconfidence. They act like there are actual distinctions in their technical abilities– WRONG. Ugh. Customer support these days. It’s exhuasting, and I’ve done WAY too much of it: first for my Compaq laptop (HDD, the DVD-ROM, the screen, the overheating/random shutoff issue), then my parent’s HP laptop (random shutoffs, screen defect), then my parent’s HP OfficeJet (mechanical issue), then my brother’s sound system (bad power supply), then John’s Bose headset, then the first Linksys router (DOA), then Adelphia broadband for my parents, and now Vonage. Yeah, I’m like the CSR contact person for my whole family. I dunno how the hell I got shitted on. And they wonder why I’m pissy all the time. Duh. On to happy thoughts…

It’s our 2nd wedding anniversary today. Such a puny number, we’re not even doing anything for it. He’s working, I’m teaching. Whatever. Who wants to go by 2 when you can go by 8 1/2 years! Can you believe? We are such old farts, certainly not the goofy college kids we once were. Still, we’re going strong. Bubbey’s still the best. We’re going to celebrate tomorrow probably. Maybe we’ll try to recreate Melting Pot’s fondue at home or something. At this point, we’re all about low maintenance. I know, I should do more nice wifely things (as my parents often remind me) and I will, but you don’t need to hear about my cooking attempts, etc. I’m working on it. John has complimented me recently, saying I’m quite the sandwich maker… aren’t you jealous?

Ok, off to blow my brains out my nose. Still battling the allergies. I think Allegra has stopped working. I’ll probably have to start snorting Nasonex soon. Sucks.

Don’t Mess with the Xinjiang Peeps

Don’t Mess with the Xinjiang Peeps

Well I saw a fight today. I know, call me sheltered: 28 y/o and never seen a fight. We were heading home on Yishan Road and suddenly, some dude sprinted down the street, Tom Cruise MI style. When I turned my head forward, there was this guy on the sidewalk getting chased/grabbed/punched by two other guys. John immediately recognized the two men with the upper hand as the Xinjiang dudes– they man his favorite little lamb-kebab stand. Boy were they beating the guy up. John blames him for trying to run, but geez, they punched him in the face. A bunch of people started crowding around. The Xinjiangers grabbed him by the collar and just started heading back towards the their restaurant. He must’ve stolen their cash box or something. I don’t know, but it was disturbing as hell witnessing violence like that. I had my cell phone out ready to call the cops, but by then, things calmed down. Ugh. I’m going to ask the Xinjiang guys about the incident the next time we drop by for kebabs.

Other than that, I myself have been on the verge of explosive violence this week, thanks to Vonage tech support. Jesus fucking christ. I swear L1 through advanced tech support are all the same. I spoke to about 10 people, and every single time they asked for my account number, address verification, model number, configuration, etc… Do these people not have a computer to document this shit or what? I mean, I’m practically doing their jobs for them: I researched all this stuff online at Vonage forums. I emailed random people asking about their setup. ARGGHH!! So the endnote is that they are going to call me back. Fuckers. Tech support bites ass.

Okay, 9am. Time to get rolling. I reorganized my drawers yesterday. I feel liberated already.

Getting Things Done!

Getting Things Done!

Omfg, we’re at the end of April already? From your point of view, I’ve been a total slack ass, especially with my scant four posts a month. Well most of you know how I am, I’ve been busting ass being busy with all kinds of stuff; yet, if you ask to see results, I have little to show for. So, on John’s suggestion, I’m now reading David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done. Supposedly, he’ll enlighten me with an entirely new way of organizing my life. I’m looking forward to the transformation.

In other news, classes are going okay. Nothing too big to report. I spent a lot of last week developing my dog treats’ product labels. I made more batches of treats. I may ditch the cookie cutters entirely. I should have bought those $70 Martha Stewart cutters, because these ones suck. You’ll see what I mean later. Anyway, baking dog treats ends up being a several-hour ordeal. I’m pretty pleased with my packaging now, but my friend Danielle said I need to also offer a larger size. She wants to purchase 5-lb bags or something!

So last week Danielle, Michele, and I volunteered at the animal shelter in Baoshan District. The place, about 90 minutes away (the driver got lost), was a decent facility. Some politics are going down, but that’s another story. The animals look okay. I met a really nice animal lover there, Ms. Yang. Really sweet Shanghainese lady who has 30 cats! Also made contact with a guy from Novartis (they make Remy and Martin’s heartworm preventative– Sentinel). Anyway, Danielle and I are going to create a pet adoption page for StarPups, so stay tuned!

I know, don’t harass me about pictures. John just got a new dig camera, so sorry for the delay while I figure out how to work the damn thing. Photos will be uploaded soon (I know, promises, schomises).

Okay, time to make progress on my book. Later!

From 2005.04.23

The Sky is Falling!

The Sky is Falling!

Since November, contractors have been “renovating” the apartment upstairs. Here, renovation means making the unit livable– starting from just the bare concrete walls. No appliances, no toilets, no wiring. Yeah, seriously from scratch. So it’s been loud as hell– bulldozing, hammering, you name it. Fortunately, John and I avoided a good bit of the noise during the winter, when we went out to CA for his work in January. When we returned, it was back to the grind. Some days we think the noise has abated, but then the next day, we’re awoken at 7:30 am with a jackhammer.

If the unit upstairs were a typical apartment, we’d be outta the woods by now. But lucky for us, it’s the top floor and they have a double-floor apartment. Fuckers. They have a beautiful double-story patio/balcony too, and what do they do to fuck it up? Completely enclose it in glass (but not as cool as a greenhouse) AND put down a floor to split its height. Lame.

So the other day I came home from teaching, went into the study, and discovered a layer of white shit all over my books on the futon. Whaddaya know? The fuckers upstairs drilled a hole in my frickin’ ceiling! And we’re not talking flimsy materials either. Structures here are all concrete. They blasted a quarter-sized hole through about 8-10 inches of concrete. Unbelieveable.

So the last few weeks I’ve been dealing with having them fill the hole, sand, paint, etc. They are so lucky they didn’t hit a light fixture and have it crash on someone. And they are even luckier they didn’t ruin Bub’s cinema display. Of course how do I learn from this experience? By rearranging the study to move my desk right below where the accident happened. Yeah baby, livin’ on the edge. Bring it on!

Geez, I cannot believe it’s been so long since my last post. The weeks are just flying by. John came back to town on Sunday. The long-awaited reunion has already hit a few snags– I was getting used to living by myself. Of course, I’m so happy that he’s back, but we’ve been running around getting new computer equipment for his work and well, haggling for shit makes me cranky. What can I say. And on top of that, because so many things here are shit quality, sometimes you get screwed. For instance, the other day, we spent awhile shopping around for an HDD firewire-USB case. Finally found it, got it to the right price, brought it home, and the HDD didn’t fit inside. I was so pissed, I called them up and asked them what kind of business they were running. Then I demanded that they come replace it. Of course, they don’t do house calls, so that got me even more livid. Long story short, to fix the problem, we have to go in and return it. Another wasted trip for us.

I got so angry over this. And I have to admit here that I have anger displacement issues. You see, earlier that day while we were shopping around for this case, one guy quoted a price 4 times higher than what we got elsewhere. So I asked what brand it was, and he said it was Chinese. I then expressed surprise and disbelief that a Chinese case would cost so much. Then he said, “What, the Chinese can’t make good products? Just because it’s Chinese, the product can’t cost more? You’re Chinese too, you know.” What the fuck? Are you kidding me? First, there is no reason why an item that is native should cost DOUBLE what it was cost me to buy the item in the US and have it shipped here. Second, don’t give me this “you are Chinese” bullshit when you are clearly jacking up the price because you see my white-as-day husband. Third, maybe if the Chinese would spend a little more effect on quality control, the local-brand products could demand a higher price. Yes, all the international branded items are still made in China, but they undergo QC for crissakes! At the time, I just provided him with explanation #1. Then I was pissed at myself for not creating a scene. I mean, there’s no reason for me to tolerate that kind of bullshit. And for the record, I’m Chinese-American: US citizenship, asshole. Jesus, for once I wanted to frickin’ wear a goddamn flag pin!

Spring is here!

Spring is here!

I tried so many times this week to submit an entry– fuckin’ internet is the shits again. Times out and still no damn access to Google news. So I had all these instances where I took mental notes: “Okay, remember to write about this in the blog,” I’d tell myself. Unfortunately, I forgot most of them.

So here I am on a Friday night… I actually went out to a bar with some friends this evening. Yeah, a big deal for a shut-in like me. Earlier today, I unfortunately wasn’t all that productive. I basically putzed around and then waited for my friend Tien while she interviewed with MS. I actually ended up sharing a bench with a woman and her palm reader. After the woman left, the palm reader started harassing me. I dunno, sometimes these people can be quite accurate, but I didn’t want to hear about my short life expectancy…

So Tien and I trekked all the way to the Bund for this ladies’ night out. Just our luck, the rest of the crew got sloshed before ever making it to the destination… Bar Rouge was a bit hoyty for my tastes, so we left and headed to Thai Gallery.

TG was pretty cool– a sort of artsy, loungy place. In need of some improvements, but not a bad space/ambience otherwise. Will prob go back for some authentic Thai food– had a pretty big menu over there.

Ugh. Well I’m exhausted. I’ll post another entry soon. Later.

Am I crazy?

Am I crazy?

Okay, so maybe I’m a bit more traumatized about Purple and Merida’s abductions than I should be. I mean, I’ve had bad luck with two-wheeled transports getting stolen, okay? First there was H12, the moped we rented in Key West, FL. John and I were having the times of our lives whizzing around that cute lil’ town. We went to our fav dinner place– Mangos, had an awesome evening, and walked back to our mopeds– only one remained. Our error? We used only a single lock. Same thing with Purple (my cable lock kept jamming so I went without). Not the same with Merida. Still, I’ve been victimized three times already. I’m not taking any more chances.

So I went to Meiluocheng the other day. Across the street, there is a monitored bike parking lot. I paid the attendant the 5 mao (half a kuai) and then spent five minutes locking the wheel to the railing, putting a second lock through the front tire spokes, and putting a cable lock on the back wheel. The attendant watched in disbelief. She said I was mad. Understanding how ridiculous I must have looked, I just laughed it off and explained that my shit got stolen three times. Sometimes the embarassment almost gets me, but then I just think of the regret I’d feel if Furby got stolen. I already have the locks anyway, right? Might as well use them. Oh well, I’ll be the stupid, paranoid American. Who cares. I’ll always have Furby to come back to.

I went to a Pet Carnival today. The cool thing was that the place was packed: maybe the Chinese are quickly becoming dog fanatics like the North Americans and Europeans. Good sign for my pending dog treat business. The bad news was that I saw plenty of “breeders” or dog sellers with dogs of dubious condition. Aside from the trauma of just being in a new place with loads of people, the animals were crammed a bunch to a cage and some looked seriously underfed. The experience was quite disturbing.

I saw a purebred German Shepherd (my favorite!). It was so gorgeous, but it was crammed in a crate and though it looked healthy, it appeared bored as hell. Next door was an English mastiff. Beautiful but again, not amused. I ran into Mr. Jade Zhang, the president of the Shanghai Small Animal Protection Association. Cool guy. We met up, because there was an English-speaking woman flipping out with one of the vendors. There was a chuiauaua pup looking seriously malnourished and fragile. She kind of flipped out and took the animal, and then the vendor freaked thinking she was stealing it. Anyway, she only spoke English and the vendor only spoke Chinese. I quickly became the interpreter. We then got Jade involved, and it was a bit of a mess. In the end, Jade promised Danielle he would harass the shit out of those people to get the dog to a vet. Animal lovers can get quite worked up. And honestly, the more I read the news and learn about people, the more I come to adore animals above humans. Dogs are just so pure and loyal. I can feel my vegetarianism coming back stronger than ever (John is not going to like that…). Anyway, I instantly clicked with Danielle, a South African. She’s actually the volunteer coordinator for the SSAPA– she was introduced at the fundraising event last week. Super cool gal. Has traveled all over the world doing random jobs. She has such passion and conviction. I can’t wait to get to know her better. I swear, running into people with passion… it just makes me feel so alive, so empowered. I think that’s why I love nonprofit– it’s all about idealistic people wanting to change the world step by step, starting with themselves. Conincidentally, Danielle and I both recently discovered Animals Asia and are completely inspired by the founder, Jill Robinson. We wanna help bring Dr. Dog (therapy dogs) to hospitals in Shanghai. So much to do… here I am alone on a Friday night but I feel so energized, like I’m ready to save the world.

I also took home a new toy for the babies– a buster-cube like toy (only 50 kuai compared to $16 in the US). R&M now have so many move the brain toys. Hehe. Always working my pups, trying to keep them on top of their game. Still walking up 17 flights of stairs twice a day. Yeah, just counting the days til I have serious buns of steel. 🙂 Okay, off to bake natural dog treats. Trial batch number three.