They love their country

Red Army (2014) is a short (85 minutes) documentary by Gabe Polsky. We saw at Lincoln Center theater on Thursday 1/29.

I enjoyed it. It’s about ice hockey game, in the former USSR, the Russian Five; the NHL trying to recruit them. The Russians are replying more on finesse – they take chess and ballet, than brut force.

Slava Fetisov recounted his career. In many ways, his was similar to China: the training, the obstacles, being isolated, eventual was able to play for the New Jersey Devils and won back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings. He then would accept President Vladimir Putin’s offer to be Minister of Sport. In this, he showed that he wanted to make his country better. It’s the same as Li Na, whom was featured on the 60 Minutes the weekend before.

Many Americans/media/journalists don’t understand, in spite of the harsh treatments, Li and Fetisov all returned to their own country and trying to make it better.

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Florist 花商

It’s the flower time – Valentine’s Day is coming. I’ve used the following florists in the past. Blooms Today is primarily for overseas. For United Kingdom I used another one – can’t remember the name off handily. The review for 5-7 back in 2011. page

  1. Pro Flowers
  2. Blooms Today
  3. 1-800 Flowers
  4. Flowers by FTD
  5. Flora Queen
  6. Flora 2000
  7. Germany Flower Shop

This picture, a mixture of 20 ruby red tulips and 20 deep blue iris with Rocky Mountain chocolate is the most recent one I ordered. My decision to go with this one was because it’s a painting than photography.

I’ve dealt with them all and ordered from 1-5. I found the 1-800 Flowers is the most difficult to navigate. Other than this I do not feel one is better than the other. When in need, I get on their sites, and check quickly to see what do they have to offer. Usually a particular arrangement that catches my fancy hence the order.

Once I attended the funeral and saw the flowers I ordered from one of the sites, found the flowers were old – over blooming.

When you order the flower arrangement and chocolate, most times, you’ll have to play the shipping charge separately (it’s about US$15), unless it’s their bond-together promotional item.


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Chinese grocery stores in New York

In general I don’t have complains because I don’t look when I shop. My attitude is always, grab them and run. More than once the cashier told me that a few strawberries (or something) in the pack were rotten. I could not thank them enough.

imageI eat a lot of hot pot year around and have talked about hot pot meat in the past, specifically about New York Mart (on Yelp and here). The Koreans make better presentation but their meat are usually thicker and tougher. Two weeks ago, I picked up a pack of lamb at xx and was surprised by the good quality: thin and no garbage at the bottom.

Yesterday I went again and picked up a pack of lamb and a pack of beef (see pix above). The sliced lamb costs $7.99 per pound while the fatty beef at $7.59. I take three pictures of each, from the top to the middle and the bottom. The lamb is more or less stays true throughout.

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However, the beef below is less desirable on the bottom:

image image image

Here are what the Koreans do with their meat

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Classic music in China

Last night we went to Lincoln Center for the Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. The last time we heard this piece was in 2007. As it happened, it was Long Yu’s Philharmonic subscription debut: in a program featuring Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, by Maxim Vengerov.

Shostakovich’s symphony requires a huge orchestra that filled the spacious stage to the brim. However it’s not my cup of tea, so my mind began to wander. I don’t read music notes nor play a music instrument but I love classic music. My interest developed when I lived with my aunt who worked for Central Philharmonic Orchestra (中央乐团) in Beijing.

At each of the music conservatories I visited in Beijing, I heard players with an extraordinary level of talent. They could all play the notes with astonishing dexterity, but they didn’t understand the music. They wanted to play the fast, flashy, loud, difficult compositions, display their technical virtuosity. They hadn’t had sufficient time or instruction in basic musical values that were part of the old European tradition, and they also thought that technique alone would get them the best jobs. I tried to show them that technical excellence was a necessary part of good music-making, but that it wasn’t everything; I talked to them about emphasizing the mind, about playing each note with the ear and the heart.

Isaac Stern wrote in 1979. I clearly remembered his visit to Beijing, his sardine packed rehearsals and sold out concerts. The first time I saw him, after meeting Seiji Ozawa, I found he looked a bit off … his limbs were short. But his warm personality won us over. Although Seiji Ozawa and Herbert von Karajan’s appearance were sleeker, their demeanor were drastically cooler and sleeker, especially von Karajan. Fast forward to twenty first century, which has brought Lang Lang (郎朗; 1982), Li Yundi, (李云迪; 1982) .. into our view. In 2004, New York Philharmonic hired Zhang Xian (张弦; 1973; since 2005) and Long Yu (余隆) just debuted, just to name a few. Is China improving fast, or the classical world needs new market? Maybe both.


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So you want to be a performing artist

A friend’s daughter wants to be a singer, is applying for a college now. NYU, Carnegie Mellon, Pace, and an array university in Chicago, in London, etc.  The totally number of schools she has applied is 25. (My kids applied 6 or so ..) She has been accepted by many. However, to get into the performing arts department, is another round of battle. Aside from application, it requires video too. If the performing arts department wants to give you a chance, then she gets to go to the audition.

She is thankful for living in New York. Because the universities in London have sent their representatives to New York to audition the American kids. As her parents took her to audition in the city, they met other parents from Portland Oregon, Chicago, or Toronto, etc .. The parents were all musing over the future of their kids: most of them will waiting tables.

I suppose audition means to the average applicants. I met two kids from our school, both accepted into Julliard. One was friend’s son who plays violin (he ultimately graduated from Columbia University, gone into investment banking) and another one dazzled us in their school opera, the Marriage of Figaro. It was our first time to attend school opera. At first, we thought it was a CD .. He was that good. You could hear him down in Florida. Reportedly Julliard came calling. The rest of the cast were impressive too. Our high school, is the only public school in the nation that put on a full length opera. And each year is a different opera. In the pit, more than three quarter are Asians.

文学城 wenxue

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daffodils 水仙花

Chinese New Year is coming

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I’m offended

file 20887

There is a school of thought that (I don’t want to re-post it), although they oppose killing, but they see the death of French cartoonists is justified because they asked for it – they offended the Muslim at large. I really feel offended by this thought, am outraged. Whoever wrote this piece – I saw two people in my circle posting it – is someone who doesn’t really know what freedom and democracy is. Trust me, there are plenty of people with foreign degrees still think and reason as in China where there isn’t a freedom of speech. The residue of being growing up in China.

China feels she has arrived and wants respect. But really, she hasn’t, yet. Opposing the developed countries doesn’t add to your credit. No one will pay respect until you have earned it – those paying lip service, are counties who only use you as long as you’re willing.

How could the writer pens out a decent article yet failed to see the meaning behind these cartoons? I sincerely hope the writer is only out to get more eyeballs. 哗众取宠 that this piece doesn’t represent the opinion of the majority of Chinese. Just another Rui Chenggang 芮成钢, despicable.

This piece is an assault on the fundamental value that the developed countries hold dear. This is also the fundamental differentiate the arrived vs those have not. Human is the base of the society, if you don’t know how to respect each individual and their opinions, you don’t deserve any respect.


I’m a housewife, maybe I should only man the stove.


有种说法(我不想再重复它)- 虽然反对杀害 – 但他们看到的法国漫画家的死亡是有道理的,因为他们自找的 – 他们得罪了穆斯林。我真的觉得被冒犯了,我愤怒。谁写了这个 – 我看见两个人在我的圈子里张贴了 – 是不真正知道什么是自由和民主。相信我,有很多人有外国学位但还是不知道言论的自由的重要性。成长在中国的残留物。我真心希望中国早日成为世界第一.

中国认为她已经到了,希望尊重 …. 不过说真的,反对发达国家不会增加你的信用。没有人会敬意,直到你已经赢得了它.

想象下出能写出一个像样的文章,但还看不到这些漫画背后的意义?我衷心希望作家只是出于获得更多的眼球。哗众取宠. 希望这并不代表大多数中国人的意见。只是另一个芮成钢,卑鄙。




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An agrarian story: three sons

Screenshot 2015-01-11 16.18.07I heard this story at my children’s weekend Chinese school in late 1990s (couldn’t remember if I’ve heard this when I was in China). This story is taught to second graders in China, using two classes time.

Three mothers are getting water. One mom brags her son is not just smart but also has strength. The second mom brags, “my son has the best voice.” The third mom concedes her son is nothing special.

On their way home with the heavy buckets of water, they take a break. Their sons walk by. The first boy does summersaults; the second sings and the third picks up his mom’s bucket and carries it home.

The women ask the elder man behind them how good are their sons. The elder replies that he only sees one son.

My thoughts on this is:

  1. god forbid it is Jet Li and Michael Jackson ..
  2. the way this story portraying ‘good son’ or a good kid is wrong
  3. each kid has his or her own talent, shouldn’t use chords as yardstick
  4. how a kid behave is largely rest on their parents

二年级, 二课时



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An honest grocer?

I bought this pack at J Mart in Flushing Mall. The lamb is thinly cut and there isn’t many garbages at the bottom.
image image image


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Gaokao “high test” in China


Reading the New York Times Inside a Chinese Test-Prep Factory. Then I searched Maotanchang on google, two more article emerged:

  • NYT, by Brook Larmer on DEC. 31, 2014 has 278 comment
  • Business Insider, by Harrison Jacobs  on Oct 18, 2013 garnered 2 comments
  • Foreign Policy, by Rachel Lu on Oct 11, 2013 has 720 shares

My comment on the article. I hope I’m ok at math here: According to wiki, as of Jan 2, 2015, the population in China is 1,367,440,000 (19% of the world, ranked at top) and USA has 320,105,000 (4.44% of the world, ranked as 3rd after India). SO .. China’s total population is 77% more than USA but their student body and exam takers are only 32% and 61% more respectively. Meaning USA has more kids and more exam takers.

total pop student pop exam takers
China, 1st 1,367,440,000 31,000,000 9,000,000
USA, 3rd 320,105,000 21,000,000 3,500,000
my math: 76.59% 32.26% 61.11%

Screenshot 2015-01-03 11.56.57 Screenshot 2015-01-03 12.02.23 Screenshot 2015-01-03 12.21.10 Screenshot 2015-01-03 11.56.26

Two, the 1300 years long keju system is a great mention here since it was very fair because it opened to everyone, rich and poor and it did not reserve a quota for the alumni (not a critic of the USA system but making a comparison). Also the fact that keju was so admired by the Western observers, according to the Cambridge Encyclopedia of China, “the introduction in 1855 of competitive written examinations for entry into the British civil service, and their adoption in 1883 for the United States service were very probably the indicted result of respect for an institution that had been a feature of Chinese political and cultural life for more than two millennia.” I’ve not a supporter nor a distractor, before anyone could come up a better solution, gaokao will remain.

Today, more than nine million students take the gaokao each year (fewer than 3.5 million, combined, take the SAT and the ACT). ..
The radical expansion of the education system has tripled the number of Chinese universities and has pushed China’s student population to 31 million — greater than any country in the world. (The United States has 21 million.) And every student must first pass the gaokao.

Xu grew up as one of China’s 60 million “left behind” children, raised by his grandparents while his parents worked as migrant fruit sellers in the distant city Wuxi. His grandfather summoned his parents home to Hongjing village, however, when Xu spun out of control in middle school — skipping classes, sneaking out with his friends, becoming obsessed with video games. The family income dropped when his mother stopped working to devote herself to his education. Despite bearing down to please his mother, Xu still faltered on the high-school entrance exam, ruining his chance to get into the region’s best high schools. His mother was so upset that she barely spoke to him for days. With few options left for high school, Xu turned to Maotanchang. “I only knew that the school was very strict, to the point that some students had supposedly committed suicide,” he told me. “That convinced me. I didn’t believe I could discipline myself otherwise.”

Yang was just waking up when his mother knocked on his window. His luggage was packed the night before — a small bag for clothes, a bigger one for books — but his grandfather seemed agitated. He had wanted to leave earlier to avoid the hundreds of cars and buses that would snarl traffic in town. But there was another reason for his testiness: Somebody — a school official? a neighbor? — had warned him that he would get in trouble for speaking with me. A year after trumpeting its success in the Chinese press, Maotanchang was now seeking a lower profile, in accordance with the Chinese adage that “people fear fame like a pig fears getting fat.” Now, with a trembling voice, Yang’s grandfather asked me to leave. I bid the family farewell and, from a distance, watched them pile into the bread-loaf truck for Yang’s final gaokao journey. As they passed, his father gave a quick toot of the horn.

“Ma dao cheng gong,” which means “success when the horse arrives.”

Weeks later, when the gaokao results were released, I called Yang. After our last encounter, I feared that he might have stumbled in the exam — and that my presence would be partly to blame. But instead, Yang sounded ecstatic. His score far surpassed his recent practice tests.

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Dell hell

imageWhen I chatted online to buy an electronic, the chat operator asked for so many information, such as my home address, phone and email which was so irritating, which should have in my account. But she said she has no access to it. When she asked for my credit card info, I asked if she could put the order in my account and I’ll take care of it from there. She then said she has no access. I told her than forget it. Then someone called me back in couple of minutes to say he could take care of it.

“Fine, just put it in my account.”

He again said he has no access. I said thank you and hung up, bought something elsewhere.

Four days later, I received it. When I looked up my account, it is there.

NOW I need to return it.

CAN’T find the return label anywhere. I chatted up online but was provided a phone # to call. I opened the package which I no desire nor need to open, hoping to find return label but did not.

My first two calls were lost during transfer. My third: when a man took the call after 26 minutes, he asked for my:

  1. order number
  2. my name
  3. my phone
  4. my home address.

I only gave my street address. I really don’t see the point of prolong the conversation. The Mr. Dell the Operator insisted on my full address,

“It’s for your protection.”

Really? How so?

So Mr. Dell the Operator played god, he put me back online waiting. Anther Mr. Dell picked up after five minutes and asked for all the above info and then informed me that he has to put me to the return line, when I waited for another long time. At 52 minutes mark Albert picked it up, who only asked for

  1. order number
  2. my name
  3. my phone #

He pulled up my profile or whatever, and processed it, sending the return label to my email, in less than 15 minutes. It’s too long.

Dell site is difficult to navigate. I never run a company but shouldn’t the operator ask what does the customer need before asking for their information? Because at each transfer, the operator asks those info. I believe we’re not asking for a door pass to Pentagon, or white house.

Dear Dell, do you have to do this to irate your customer??? I’m sure you’ll do well without my patronage.


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The Mom Jean

The Urban Outfitters has a new style jeans, called Mom Jean

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日本动画已经达到这个境界了,我们还在看喜羊羊 Saw this posting in WeChat. Cartoon and animation is more popular in Japan. In USA, it mainly aims at children while in Japan, it’s for everyone. Soccer moms read gay love manga on the subway. One rarely sees an adult in the USA read a cartoon book. The Studio Ghibli was founded by director Hayao Miyazaki in June 1985.

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A Pointless News

On WSJ, Missing AirAsia Flight Thrusts Airbus Jet A320 Into Spotlight

image image

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60 Minutes on Pope Francis

Watching the 60 Minutes on Pope 11:47 and 41:28 who is advocating for the changes. The 266th Popo Francis, is credited for helping the USA and Cuba to establish official tie too ..

  • premarital sex
  • abortion
  • contraceptives
  • gays and lesbians
  • ..

I’m thinking: why the world is patient with the change of the Catholics – Christian churches who are 1 billion strong but not China? Is Francis being picked, due to his attitude for the new new thing? SO the billion strong catholic church needs to sell, to promote itself?

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IP in China

琼瑶诉于正案开庭“能抄的全都抄了” (2014.12.06 in Beijing) and on December 15, 百名编剧声援诉于正 捍卫尊严竟如此团结?
Why the screenwriters are so united in this letigation? Becasue out of their 切身利益 own interests. Interlectural property is a new concept to the Chinese and they couldn’t afford it back 10 or 20’years ago. Now they could so these screenwriters (authors …) are demanding respect and protecting their products. Give China some time she’ll catch up, if not surfpassing it.



I bet many these signees were copy cats before themselves.

2015.01.16. In light of Swiss central bank ..  I’m not passing judgment on article but its copyright warning:  敬请关注!公众号转载我的文章,请注明我的微信号,否则以侵权处理,投诉是会被腾讯关闭公众号的,原创不易,且行且珍惜. China is impoveing, fast.

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Why do I do this?

Today the Washington Post reported China admits it also tortures, days after slamming US ‘hypocrisy’, of a teenager in Hohhot being executed for rape he didn’t commit. I’ve read this in Chinese last month. I didn’t feel compel to write because I was not sure how true it was – giving some many errors and untrue statements/articles are out there, in China. It’s very sad.
image w post

Left pic’s the boy 内蒙青年因奸杀案被枪决9年后现真凶 高层指示将重审; right is from WP, caption: “The court’s deputy president meets with Huugjilt’s parents (R) to apologize and offer compensation in Hohhot, northern China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region on December 15, 2014. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images”

Oh well I don’t know politics from popcorns. Ok, how about being a popcorn politician?

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Zhou Fu 周馥接官厅

From here 


image image image image

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