Missing the Boat

This beautiful marble stone boat parked in Summer Palace was and is a tourist trap, for generations. When I was little, we visited Summer Palace, as well as ZhongShan Gongyuan like it was/were the only places on earth, which was not too far from the truth. Given there was no tourist industry to speak of. We went to the places that were near us.

In 2003, I took the kids to visit Summer Palace, and … they were not impressed. Well, they were only 9 and 10 years old. There was an exquisite photo of my relatives on the boat in the 1930s. Anyway, what made me talking about this stone boat, is the book Patchwork Child by Brooke Astor (see the pic to the right). With the laureate of Random House, and all the editorial power her money could buy, they didn’t get this simple fact right. It is NOT “The pure marble Summer Palace outside Peking” 132 Please don’t get me wrong, this is a wonderful book but they committed to a very elementary mistake: they missed the boat – pure marble boat instead. Summer Palace is outside of Beijing. Gosh, I must make this kind of mistakes all the time, but I am no Random House.


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Andrew Ross Sorkin interviews Jack Ma at Davos 2017

Youtube video This is a pretty good conversation. However, I don’t like the Chinese title. And the inaccuracy, i.e. at 10:31 mark, Ma said “… this is the first a Chinese leader made a number commitment. … He (President Xi) said next 10 years we are going to import 8 trillion US dollars …” I happen to glance at the Chinese title which has it as five years …  should be more diligent.

Two other things they talked about (among many more), are Amazon and counterfeits. Funny, today, Amazon just purchased Whole Food today. $995 and $41.95 surged 26%; and Ma’s Alibaba is at $134.

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A Douglas MacArthur for Mideast

I know this is crazy but I’ve been thinking, Japan was a war torn country when Douglas MacArthur arrived. There was no Japanese refugees fleeing and in a short time, Japan got on her feet and so became a power again. So shouldn’t we look for a Douglas MacArthurs for the Mideast? If an American could do for Japan, isn’t another American can do for the Mideast?

Another thought: how many refugees has China, as second economy, taken in as of now? Why not?

有件事想不通,需要开导:Douglas MacArthur 带着小日本奔上了小康之路 (战败国;2枚原子弹… 但是没有难民…)现在中东是不是需要几个麦将军?如果说日本在二战前已经是个开化的国家,那么 发达国家应不应该去指手画脚,或者干预 不发达的国家?不可以让他们继续生活在自己享受的“黑暗时代”?

另外 中国,第二大经济国,收留了多少中东的难民?

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Rhododendron 杜鹃

some other plants. In 2015.

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some of the plants

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some of the plants


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Why such high fee charged by government for online payment?

This parking ticket is $265. When choose to pay online, the government adds convenience fee of $13.12, which is 4.95%. To me, again, seems the government is discouraging people to use online service, which is more efficient to me. When I mail a check, I assume there is someone, who will open the letter/check, and look for my record, reconcile, post it, and deposit.

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Chives 韭菜

Home grown


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A white orchid

Phalaenopsis orchidwiki is one of the most popular orchids in the trade, through the development of many artificial hybrids. It is native to southern China, Taiwan, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia (Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc.


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The first basil under my green thumb.


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More cactus here

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Aloe or cactus

Or cactus?

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King protea (?)

Look what I find today? Don’t know what they’re tho 😂 – Trader Joe’s labels it as  spring flowers 🌺 wiki has it as king protea. Leaves look alike.
有人知道这是什么吗?春天之花. 公主花 (?) 帝王花 (?)

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Hyacinth 风信子

From Trader Joe’s (how to care) with tulips too.

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5 tulips

My green thumbtulips in the tall glass jar, from Trader Joe’s. Also got the hyacinth 风信子



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On sale the Chinese way – the bbq sauce

As an after thought I picked up a large can (26 oz) of B. H. Bullhead Barbecue Sauce, which cost $7.99 during my grocery shopping at J Mart in Flushing. Before I hit the cashier I saw this Special display that the same brand sells for $5.99 from $7.99. Often the case, the Chinese grocers think they’re above the law or no need to obey the law, display the sale price but charge you high price. I asked the cashier specifically how much does this can coat.
“$7.99” she replied.
“But the sign says $5.99.” I showed her the picture I took.
“Oh, that’s for smaller size.” She was pretty quick.
The smaller size (8.5 oz) never retails for $7.99, at least in the grocery stores in Flushing. Although the sign doesn’t indicate the size, but the price matches the large size. She charged me $7.99. According to Consumer Reports, the NY State law says, “Businesses that intentionally post false prices or that otherwise engage in bait-and-switch pricing can be liable under federal and state consumer-protection statutes.”

On Sunday I shopped at Sky Foods @ SkyView Center on College Point/Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing, one of the rices was on sale for $19.99. I casually asked which one, the cashier said, “it’s sold out.”
“May I get a rain check?”
The cashier looked at me as if I’ve double heads. The law: the Federal Retail Food Store Rule requires grocers to provide rain checks on advertised items or to substitute an equivalent product.

The Chinese grocers do this all the time: either out of stock or they don’t honor the sales prices they posted.


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Unequal treaty 不平等条约

I grew up with the term “unequal treaty” of the Qing dynasty. Learned from schools and read from books. But as I’m getting older, I begin to question it.
Crying baby. Loser. Sour grape came to mind. And wondering:
1. If there is a treaty or contract, your either sign and to live with it or walk away from it.
2. If you feel it’s unequal, you re-negotiate it.
Called a treaty you signed ‘unequal’ sounds like very unmanly to me. A self-shaming and self-pity thing.
A British who worked in China for a long time and did well for China, had said ” … is that until she is strong she must accept dictation, palatable or unpalatable.” Get it?
If you want to have an equal treaty, put a good negotiator at the table and a strong country behind him/her. You got to get yourself in shape.

A little story from World War II. The once great Britain was being bombed by the Nazis out of her shell. Hanging on to her deal little life by a thin string. So the combative and often drunk new prime minister Churchill relentless in wheedling, pleading, and coaxing Roosevelt for more support. FDR responded, “If Britain is to survive, we must act.” sounded comforting but nothing was really happening. When finally the 50 aging American destroyers sailed for Britain, the Yankees asked for 99 year leases for the use of military bases in Newfoundland, Bermuda, and 6 British possessions in the Caribbean. That were a lot for 50 almost useless battle ships. The Brits were resentful. But they did what had to be done, and never called it unequal treaty.

As the war intensified, Britain’s treasury had to borrow money from Belgian government-in-exile in London. Oh my lord. When that was not enough to get them by, the chancellor of the exchequer suggested that every British should relinquish wedding rings and other gold jewelry. The funny thing was, the Americans won’t believe that deep pocket British empire would run out of money. They figured that Brits could just liquidate some of their holdings in the Americas. American Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau told them specifically, to sell blue-chip companies such as Shell Oil, American Viscose, Lever Brothers, and Dunlop Tires to American investors. When the British bulked at such suggestions, most likely at fire-sale prices, hence worried it would impede their country’s postwar economy. Reportedly, Morgenthau snapped, postwar? You need to win the war first. Again, the Brits obliged; did what they have to and never quibble it again. No sound of unequal treaty. Americans were unapologetic at such demands because they wanted to assure their people that they were profiting, they got better deals.

My point here is, beggars can’t be choosers. Every weak party at the table is being take advantage of, even the little Great Britain. And in this case, by their former colony, no less. Very painful indeed. So, please keep in mind that unless you’re equally strong, you don’t have any bargaining power. No matter how excellent your negotiators are. NO NEED  to run around shouting I’ve just signed an unequal treaty. That’s really face losing.

The first unequal treaty was signed in Nanking in 1842. Maybe it’s time we delete the adjective. Be strong, then learn to negotiate.

wenxue city

“不平等条约”一词是我从小就耳闻目睹的. 学校教 书里看. 腐败的清朝和列强签了一个又一个的不平等条约. 但是随着年龄的增长, 我开始觉得这个词语是不合适的,好像在认怂. 在告诉人家俺没种. 我奇怪:
1. 面对一个条约或合同,您可以签字执行或不签,离开.
2. 如果你觉得这条约或合同是不平等的, 你重新谈判.

称你签署的条约或合同“不平等”听起来像是一个失败者或酸葡萄. 小儿科. 等于自我羞耻和自怜. 自卑情怀的极点. 一位在中国工作很长时间,为中国做了很多好事的英国人说: “直到她坚强,中国必须接受指使 … ” 道理说得再明白不过. 如果你想有一个的平等的条约,去争取.

第二次世界大战的小故事. 曾经的日不落帝国被纳粹轰炸的不清不白的, 奄奄一息. 朝夕不保. 所以 新上任经常喝醉的新任总理丘吉尔对罗斯福总统大献殷勤, 恳求加哄罗斯福, 以获得更多的支持.  罗斯福回应说: “如果英国要生存下去,我们必须采取行动.” 但是没有什么具体行动. 当美国的50艘又老又破的驱逐舰去英国时, 美国人要求在纽芬兰有九十九年的军事基地租约 ,百慕大,以及加勒比地区的6个英国财产也包括在内. 很多英国人愤怒不满 但是他们乖乖的签了. 生存紧要.

随着战争的加剧,英国的财政部不得不从比利时流亡在伦敦的政府借钱. 哦, 我的上帝. 大英帝国需要向一个流亡政府借钱. 当这还不够的时候, 英国财政大臣想建议每个英国人放弃结婚戒指捐出其它黄金首饰. 有趣的是, 老祖宗这么捉襟见肘, 美国人竟然不相信. 总觉得这个深口袋的帝国有用不完耗不尽的钱. 美国财政部长 Morgenthau 特地建议他们, 把你们的蓝筹公司 壳牌石油,美国粘胶,杠杆兄弟和邓禄普轮胎等 卖给美国投资者呀. 小英的小算盘是 我 (肯定是廉价) 卖给你, 这会阻碍俺们国家的战后经济呀. 据说,Morgenthau 问: 战后? 你需要先赢取战争. 再次, 小英国人做了他们所需要的. 没有夸张. 没有大叫不平等条约的声音. 美国政府在谈判桌上毫不气的. 公事公办. 因为他们需要向美国人民证明这是一个好交易, 对美国有利的交易. 英国忍辱负重, 委曲求全. 他们在不平等条约上画了甲. 在美国的帮助下, 最终赢得了战争.

我的观点是, 乞丐不能选择. 谈判桌子上的每一弱势边都会被强势边占便宜/利用. 即使是日不落帝国也不过如此.请记住, 除非你同样强大, 否则你没有任何讨价还价的能力. 巧妇难为无米之炊呀. 不需要大喊大叫我刚刚签署了一个不平等的条约. 这真的很没有面子的事. 只有丢人现眼的份.

第一个不平等条约是在1842年在南京签署的. 现在是不是删除这个形容词的时候了? 强盛,然后学习谈判.

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Kale has been in vogue for a while.

Tuesday I’ve lunch at Italian restaurant Felice on Wall Street. It served up baby kale – less chewy than the mama kale. It’s first time I see the baby kale in my local supermarket. The grocer may have been selling it but just I didn’t know/see.

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