Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Regular Day

I can't believe it! Nothing weird or crazy happened today. It was a normal day in China. Work was good. I had Hot Pot for dinner with Nancy and Jerry. Nancy is the Business Manager for CSM in China. She's a nice lady. She's here for the week to learn more about RAAMP at Goodyear.



Wow! It was a regular day! Imagine that! In China!

Hot Pot Rocks!

Peaceful Panda

Monday, March 30, 2009

I Saw A Donkey Today

So I quit bringing my camera with me on lunch. We walk to the same place every day. I've taken pictures of the everything of interest on the walk...or so I thought.

We walk outside of Goodyear's gate and are standing there for another Rockwell guy to join us. His name is Tony. So we're standing there and Jerry wants to go into the Mom and Pop store across the street. Now when I say "Mom and Pop" IT'S Mom and Pop. So we walk down a set of stairs. Jerry goes into the shop, I wait outside because only about 4 people fit in this store...and Mom and Pop are already in there.

Jerry comes out and we walk back up the stairs. (You can't see the street from the bottom of the stairs.) We get to the top, and there is a DONKEY! I know I've said, "I wish I had my camera"; this time I REALLY wished I had my camera (With the exception of Gold Member, I'll never forgive myself for letting that one slip away).

There is a little old man sitting on a cart that looks like it's from Mid-Evil times. He has two big, blue, disgusting barrels on the back of the cart. He looks to be around 132 years old. He's sitting on the cart, whipping the donkey...only he's so old and frail he's barely hitting the donkey. There is no way the donkey knows he's being whipped. I just started laughing right there! The old man is yelling something as he attempts to whip the donkey (Oh yeah, the whip is a piece of string tied to a twig). He is barely above normal voice when he yells. I ask Jerry what he's saying?

"He say, faster"

I agree.

The whole scene looks like Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail. "Bring Out Your Dead!!"

We start walking down the road, within 30 seconds we are 40 yards ahead of Team Donkey. We aren't even walking fast...in fact, I keep stopping to turn around and look at the Team Donkey. The reason for this is that we are approaching the corner. That's where the main drag is. There are 6 lanes of traffic on this road (Only 4 in America, but they make it work as 6...maybe even 7 depending where people decide the turn lane is).

So we get to the corner and he's still coming. I tell Jerry I want to wait and see what happens. Jerry looks at me like I'm strange, "You've never seen a donkey and a cart?"

"Not heading into Chinese traffic." Jerry shrugs and stands to watch. The old man shows no signs of slowing down...mostly because it isn't possible to go any slower. They get to the intersection, the old man starts talking to the donkey. A car comes whizzing around the corner and scares the hell out of the donkey...he takes off into traffic!

The old man is yelling now, cars are honking, people are swerving, the donkey is going at a trot now. I'm laughing so hard I'm going to wet my pants! Jerry is still a little perplexed that I think this is odd.

They make it to the other side of the street, and start heading down the hill. I have no idea where he was going, but man, there has got to be a better way!



Here is a picture we took with the BTA Maintenance team. Jerry is on the far left. They are all nice guys! It was funny when we took this picture. (Big Boy is taking the picture) He needed us to move to the left...so instead of everyone shifting over...everyone started shuffling over, it was like we were doing some weird little dance. A great kickoff today though!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Pics! Dalian

I went to lunch today at this place. It was really good! It's right around the corner from my hotel. (If you click on the pics, you can see them bigger...I just figured that out...I know, I'm slow)


Chinese flag....keepin it real! CHINA is powerful!

My favorite thing in China so far, the currency. It all has pictures of Chaiman Mao on it. These are all the denominations I had on me today. There is also a 20 and fifty. The top coin is worth 1RMB, the same as the green bill. I call it Mao Money! Mao Money! Mao Money!


This was my waitress today. She was a nice girl...not sure about the outfit though. The Cop Shop! This is right behind my hotel.





The bootleg Olive Garden. If you go around the corner it leads to my hotel, maybe 100 yards away.


That guy is on a motorcyle attached to a cart. I'm not sure what he is hauling, but that's a small load. I've seen guys in the morning with that pile 20 feet high in the air.







Guy on a motorcyle. The gloves he's wearing are attached to the bike. They are all like that for winter....cause they don't put the bikes away when the snow hits!




Sweet three wheeled car! Just to give you perspective, the front end of near car and the three wheel special are seperated by one lane. Those things are a menace on the road. They are always trying to squeeze them in somewhere.



AH! The taxi! My mode of transportation. More or less they all look like this. The car is made by Volkswagen. It's called a Sanantana. I think I got that right.





This road actually leads to the highway. If you take the round about all the way around you can turn onto here. This is the way to Goodyear.




Some old building near the Round About. I think it was built by the Russians or the Japanese.


This is the round about on the end of Remin Lu. That's the street I live on. There's a big ship model in the center of the round about. Dalian is built on Squares. Each of these places has a specific name...I can't remember this one. But there are all kinds of them in town. Most of them are parks in the center.


Better picture of the boat. The harbor is just behind this square to. It looks a little rough down there. I didn't want to go alone.

A cool lookin building. I have no idea what it's for. This is also on the road that turns into a highway.


This one is for Amy Gray! Look Amy! Coke!...alive and well in China!


Pizza King! I've eaten here a couple times. They actually don't do to bad on the pizza...It's not American pizza, but all things considered...not bad. This is about 100Yds away from the hotel. The bootleg Olive Garden is right around the corner. I asked about the golf stuff...they all just stare at me blankly. I'm not sure why it's there. No one seems to be able to give me a straight answer on that.


This is the front corner of my hotel, the picture is being taken towards the end of the street with the boat.


This is looking the other way. Dalian is as big as Chicago proper. Just the city limits...actually it might be as big as Chicago and LA proper. They have no suburbs...so it's just the city. Chicago and LA are both bigger if you count the surrounding areas.



















Saturday, March 28, 2009

Grocery Shopping!

It's Saturday night here. I just finished the Friday blog earlier today...thought I'd get ahead of the game and post today's. I didn't do a whole lot today. I was kind of beat. I did go back to the "DVD Rental Store". That's such a great experience. It's like your a spy in a movie. Secret knock at the door...the whole process is just awesome!

By the way, if you haven't seen Don't Mess With The Zohan, I highly recommend it. I was crying laughing at parts of that movie! Well worth the rental.

I picked up a bunch more DVD's today. I won't bore you with the details but I did get a few that I don't think are out yet.

Slum Dog Millionaire
Taken
Milk


I also picked up Band of Brothers. It's one of my favorite things to watch. I have it back in the states, but for a grand total of 4 bucks, I was able to "Rent" it here. So all good there.

This morning the Nuggets and Mavericks were on local Chinese TV. That was fun to watch. Pretty funny listening to the Chinese broadcast. I thought they would be more animated...they aren't...they just kind of talk every once in a while. There are big gaps of silence...kind of weird.

When I went to dinner at Rick and Susan's apartment, Susan had told me about a local Chinese supermarket that was behind my hotel. She bought everything we ate there. So today I decided to go check that out.

WOW! What an experience!

The doorman from the hotel walked me there, because I had no idea where it was. We walked for about 5 minutes, then he points at this giant warehouse looking building. He keeps saying, "Go in". Now, I'm looking at this building...it looks like the type of abandoned building you see in a movie, where the bad guys do a hostage exchange.

So I walk up a ramp that has a huge over head door with a giant clothe keeping the cold out. I push through it and am in the middle of a giant market type thing! I look around and there is all kinds of action going on! This place has everything, but it's all local vendors. You have to see it to believe it. They have spices, fruit, vegetables, meat, packaged goods...you name it they have it in here. This is where most Chinese people shop.

So I start to walk in...people start to see me and get quite. They are in awe of my size. I say Ni Hao, then everything goes back to normal.

I start walking around. I pass the meat section....they have all kinds of stuff (I'm going back with my camera). At first you see some normal stuff, pork loin, beef, ribs...stuff like that....then a couple booths in things change.

You still have all the meat, it looks OK, although I don't think the animals died to far from here. It looks awful fresh. Then next to the meat are organs...pig hearts, livers, kidneys, things I can't identify. It's all sitting right out there. Nothing is wrapped, just sitting on the table. Pigs feet, just chopped off and lined up next to the hearts! I didn't know pigs hearts were so big...weird.

It was pretty strange, people were picking things up and shoving them in my face to see. If you're an Ex-Pat, they know you have money...so they step up their game. I was looking at the pig hearts and the lady grabbed one and stuck it about 2 inches from my face. So funny!!!!

I found the fruit and vegetable section down from the pigs hearts. It was great! Everything is fresh..you just have to wash it good. I bought what would be three pre-packaged baskets worth of strawberries, a dozen apples, 6 oranges, and 4 mango's. It came to 7 dollars American.

Now that I can count to ten in Chinese on one hand, math gets a lot easier to communicate. So I get my stuff, but have no idea how to get back out. (Which ended up being a good thing)

So I walk around, taking it all in...people holding things up to my face, trying to get me to buy...weird stuff...no idea what it was. I see another big over head door with a tarp covering it. I figure that's an exit...wrong!

I walk through, and now am in a fish market. It smells like the Pacific ocean got emptied of water and everything was sitting for a day or two on the bottom! It was crazy in here! The floor had water running across it from everything draining onto the floor.

If it's found in the Yellow Sea/Pacific Ocean...it's probably in here. There were Eels, Octopus, Squids, fish, shrimp, lobsters, and anything else you could imagine! Some stuff was in tanks, some things were alive but not in water...just squirming in giant barrels.

There were things that I have never seen before, but I can tell you in my wildest dreams I would never have imagined trying to eat! It's really incredible!

I passed a guy who was yelping pretty loud. I turned back when he yelled English boy! As I turned around, he had a giant meat clever and whacked the head off a huge fish! He brings the fish head over to me...leaves the rest of the fish on the table. Shows it to me with a big smile and I think asked me if I wanted to buy it? Just a giant fish head staring at me...how do you say no??? Ummm, pretty easily!

I saw a bucket of dried sea creatures. They kind of looked like shrimp, just REALLY little. I mean small, like an 1/4 inch long at best. The bucket was pretty big. They must eat them like peanuts or something. You'd have to eat like 40 of them just to know you ate something. I just stared at the bucket and wondered how long it took to catch enough to fill this bucket..was it worth it? We may never know.

Finally I found my way out of there! Great experience though!

Gold Member and Mr. Miyagi

Friday was a good day in Dalian. We're all set at work to launch the program. I feel pretty good about the local team I'm working with. I think they are buying in to the plan. It feels good to see it coming together. Now I just have to see how it goes. It's going to take a little time to judge the results and if everyone is working together.

We had a conference call with the China Rockwell team. I had Jerry give a presentation for it. He really has no experience making presentations or public speaking. We had to start from scratch. I've been working with him on it since I arrived. I worked with him on developing his presentation and delivery. So on Friday he gave the local team the update on our progress. He really did a great job! I was really proud of him. I can definitely see him changing...it's fun to see the work paying off. This coming week we start day to day activities, we'll see how it goes!

Friday was also Greg's last night in Dalian, so we went back to Alice Bar. I didn't notice this on Thursday night, but Greg (The Merovingian) also walks just like Morpheus in The Matrix. He wears a long dark over coat and puts his hands behind his back as he walks...Hilarious! Must be a French thing.

So we go back to Alice bar around 9:30. The place is packed and every girl there is wearing a bikini for Hawaii night. We finally got a seat and had some drinks. We moved three times for what reason I don't know, the hostess kept shuffling us around.

So we settle in for an enjoyable show of people watching. We get the obligatory checks from the women of the night. We are now going by the names John and Brad. (Just more fun)

The Philippine girls are all wearing little gold outfits...very little outfits. We see them walking around and notice a Philippine guy who is with them. He is dressed in the same outfit as Gold Member in the Austin Power movie! It's hilarious! And he isn't wearing it to be funny, it's his dancing gear. He's as gay as the day is long. I told Greg he looked like Gold Member and that became his name from there on. Whenever the girls danced during band breaks, he was up there with them making the same moves. It was hilarious! I wished I had my camera so bad! But, who knew Gold Member resided in Dalian?

The bar had all kinds of Hawaiian things going on. They had a flame juggler...grass skirt dancing...all that stuff. Whenever they would have one of these events start, a Chinese woman with a piercingly high pitched voice would scream into a microphone. It was ear shattering! We'll one time she says something, then we hear Beyonce. So we look at the stage and a rather big looking girl comes out in a white dress with a black belt. It looked familiar, like Beyonce might have worn it in a video. The big Chinese girl starts lip syncing a mix of Beyonce songs. (white dress and black hair)

I say to Greg that she is awful big for a Chinese girl...Greg says, "I believe that is Gold Member in disguise." (Really funny hearing him say it with the French accent) Sure enough! Gold Member is dressed like Beyonce singing...dancing like her....badly. We were laughing so hard we were crying! Gold Member ruled!

For the rest of the night, we would just look to see what Gold Member was up to. He would dance on the bar (Like a girl), then he would dance on stage...he was everywhere! Gold Member was GREAT!!!

Later in the evening there were a couple Chinese guys sitting at the table next to us. They had been there quite a while...longer than us. They were drinking Chivas Regal Scotch. Greg and I pretty much kept to ourselves. We didn't try to talk to anyone. All of the sudden one of the Chinese guys stumbles over to our table...He's really drunk! He starts talking to me...of course in Mandarin. The only word I understand is China. He keeps yelling that really loud. Greg and I are looking at each other like, what the hell?

I felt like Luke Skywalker when he walks into the Catina in the first Star Wars movie. "You should be careful!"

"I'll do that."

"You'll be dead!"

So the Chinese guy gets the waiter and starts pointing at us and holding up three fingers...Greg and I have no idea what's going on. Then he turns to us and says his same sentence..then CHINA really loud.

We nod our heads and say yes in Chinese...he shakes his head no. So the waiter comes back with three beers and three empty cocktail glasses. The guy puts his hands up like a boxer and says his sentence and China again. He always says China really loud...which we have no idea why. We shrug our shoulders and say we don't understand...he's wobbling now.

So he gets really close to my face and says it in Mandarin slowly....then CHINA!!....um, still don't know. So I ask the waiter what is going on...he speaks English.

He says the guy is really drunk...I say I was able to pick that part up. I ask him what he is saying. The waiter says he wants to buy you drinks because he likes you....and he wants us to know China is powerful!

I tell the waiter to let him know that we agree China is powerful. The waiter tells him this and he is happy as a pig in slop. He stumbles back to his table and brings over the bottle of scotch. He has the waiter start pouring. We assume he wants to give us a taste. He has the waiter fill the glasses to the top! With scotch! I stop him on the ones for Greg and I. We tell him we want sprite to water it down. So he puts some Sprite in...the Chinese guys starts laughing.

The waiter tells us he thinks we don't know how to drink. I tell the waiter to tell him we are not good drinkers...he, he, he! So the drinks are ready, I keep the waiter near the table while the guy is there to make sure we know what his next plan is.

So then we are told he wants to do a "Bottoms Up" on the Scotch! (The Chinese love to do "Bottoms Up", it's annoying, like your constantly on Spring break) Whoa, whoa, whoa! We tell the waiter that we will sip it...we're not good drinkers. The waiter tells the Chinese guy, he starts laughing and agrees. He takes a full glass of Scotch and slams it. Then he immediately falls over backwards. HILARIOUS!!! It was like in The Karate Kid when Mr. Miyagi has the bender one night! His friend helps him up, but he is now GONE!

We have a half bottle of scotch sitting on our table. Also, at this point Gold Member is dancing on top of the bar near us....that is so funny, words just don't do it justice. I try to give the Scotch bottle back to the guy's friend. The waiter says that it is ours now, to give it back would be insulting. OK....I'm not much of a Scotch drinker but it was good. We enjoyed it!

They had to get several guys to help walk the Chinese guy out of the bar....very funny!

After that the rest of the night was pretty tame. We watched Gold Member shake his groove thing. Greg made a great reference. He said if Gold Member lost his job for being gay, they could have Streets of Dalian, instead of Streets of Philadelphia.

Then we left, I said bye to Greg. He's on his way back to France. I'm going to miss him. He was a nice guy and fun to hang out with. Hopefully we can keep in touch.

Note: At no time did the Chinese guy seem menacing. He was very friendly, just drunk. So no one should worry about danger there. It was very innocent.

So far, everyone I've met in China loves Americans. They go out of there way to be nice and helpful.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hot Pot and Alice Bar

Thursday night I went out to dinner with a guy from Goodyear. We went to a "Hot Pot" restaurant. It's like Fond Du (I know I just killed that spelling). When I was at work Jerry set it all up for us. He called the restaurant, made a reservation, and wrote something in Chinese on a piece of paper that he said would make sure the taxi driver got us there.....OK!

So that night I went with Gregory. He's a Frenchman over here. He works for Goodyear in Engineering. He's 26 or 27. He sounds just like the Merovigian when he talks. I had him say, "No, Morpheus, the Key maker is mine, and I see no reason to give him up." It's great! Just like he's there....now if we could only get Monica Bellucci to show up. Ahhhh, dare to dream.

So we get in the cab, I give the guy the piece of paper-ZOOM we're on our way! It really wasn't that far away...we could have walked, but neither one of us knew what we were looking for...so you really can't.

We get inside and I realize we have no way to say we have reservations. The place is packed, so we need to let them know. I quick call Jerry, give the phone to the hostess, problem solved.....or so I think. She takes us to our table.

Now, it seems whenever they see a couple Ex-Pats together, they bring in reinforcements. It's crazy! You get like four or five servers coming up to your table and just kind of listening, then talking in Chinese, then listening...then talking in Chinese. It's hard to identify the leader.

They (All 5) bring a menu over together. They give it to Greg....it's in Chinese. BUT!!! There are pictures. So Greg is trying to show me the menu, one of the waitresses is trying to grab the menu, and I'm trying to hear Greg. This goes on for about 3 minutes, then I say to Greg, "Let's see about getting a beer, it'll make things easier." Greg is all for that!

So I work on getting beers, that's like throwing a wrench into the gears. ERRRRRRRRRR. Everyone looks confused, then a light bulb goes on, "AHHHHH Tsing Tao"

I say, "Duiy". Which means correct. (It's like saying Duane, only take out the N) So we get some beers! Hooray! Now all of the sudden an English menu appears! Now we're in business. The only problem is we don't understand how it works. You have to order the marinade first. They have a bunch of choices we pick a spicy red one and a white substance. It's on a different page...it didn't have a translation...so we just rolled with it.

Then you have to order meat and vegetables. We couldn't figure out if it was for each of us, or we were going to get a whole plate of meat...it was all lost in translation. (We're on our second beers now...the one guy is a helluva beer runner....serious...good man)

We decide to just order a bunch of stuff. We get: beef, chicken, some kind of meatball things, mushrooms, a leafy vegetable,....and I think that's it. So FINALLY we're done ordering. WOW! Took two beers...I knew getting those first was huge!

**Quick side note: The apples and strawberries in Dalian are FABULOUS! The strawberries are soooo sweet and delicious. The apples are perfect. Jerry says Dalian is know for both...they are the best I've ever had! Damn good! Sorry, I'm eating an apple, thought it was worth mentioning...back to the story.


So the they bring out the marinade and start it cooking. Then the food comes out, all raw. The marinade (Spicy) has chili peppers (I think) floating everywhere. The stuff heats up quickly, but we're not sure if we are suppose to put the food in or not.

So I re-assemble the dream team. They all shuffle over (Everyone in China shuffles, they don't walk...it's crazy) I gesture at the hot pot, the meat, then me, then her, and shrug my shoulders.

She says something like, "Chu sung chow shi fa hu ta me sha kian"

I look at her, "Right! Now, about this marinade." Greg starts cracking up. Eventually I just take a piece of meat and flop it in the spicy stuff. She looks at me horrified and fishes the meat back out. Then just stands there with the rest of the dream team...no one is talking. So Greg and I talk for a minute...they just keep standing there. Then the spicy stuff starts to boil...THE TEAM BREAKS INTO ACTION! Another beer BAM! Meat in the sauce BAM! Chopsticks BAM! It's all coming together.

She cooks some of the food and puts it on our plates. I look around the room and no one else has anyone doing this for them. So I say ok and Chi-Chi (She She), which means thank you.....They don't leave. Finally after she served us a couple times, she decided we could drive the car. So we were able to make the rest. It was GREAT! I'm definitely going back. The meatball things were really good, because they were easy. They sunk to the bottom, but started floating once they were done.

So we finished our meal and went to a bar called Alice Bar. There we were meeting up with a couple of Maintenance Managers...Big Boy and Richard. We got to the bar around 9:30. This place was GREAT! You walk in and go up to the 3rd floor by elevator. We walk in and it's looks like a place you'd see in a spy movie.

There is American music playing and a bunch of Philippine girls skantly clad dancing on a stage. It's like a poor mans Stomp The Yard. We see Big Boy and Richard at the bar, so we go over and sit next to them. We then get a table and the entertainment starts.

There are people all over. All of the sudden some more girls get on top of the bar and start dancing on poles that are mounted to the bar and ceiling. They are dancing like strippers but keep all there close on. It has the feel of European Vacation when Clark takes his wife to the French strip club place and tells her it's a famous French show. It's hilarious, everyone does keep their close on though.

Then all of the sudden a couple of white girls appear in costume (Meaning not much on). They look Russian, I ask Big Boy if they are, he says yes, there are lots of Russians in Dalian (First I've seen, but ok). They start dancing on the bar too. The music was actually really good. They mixed it up pretty well. Then the music stops.

On comes a Philippine band! They were pretty good. They played Sublime Santaria, which surprised me. We were approached several times by women of the night. You get use to that. If you're going to be out in China, they are going to approach you. You just tell them no, and they leave for a little while...then check on you later. (Talk about customer service)

The band would play about 4-5 songs, then take a break...out come the dancers again. This time they played YMCA. It was hilarious! None of the dancers understand the letters, so they all just kind of hold their hands above their heads and motion them around...some get the Y right, some get the M, nobody gets the C, and an occasional A makes an appearance....Most just wiggle their hands above their heads. Pretty funny, we all had a good laugh about that!

Around 11:30 we called it a night and headed for hotels. Richard and Big Boy are a riot. But it was a pretty tame night at the bar...had to work in the morning.

Greg and I are going back tonight. It's Hawaii night...gotta see what that's all about.

More later!

The Panda

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Meeting, Dog, and Apartment

Note: Sorry the spacing is all jacked up on the paragraphs. I can't seem to fix it.
I had a meeting today with the head of purchasing and head of maintenance. Meetings in China are GREAT! You just never know what's going to happen. I spent an hour before the meeting prepping the Jerry (Guy I'm training) and Tracy (Local Rockwell sales person). I left nothing to chance. I explained what we were going to cover, whose job it was to present certain information, and when it should be covered. I had handouts, I had an agenda, and I had mayhem within two minutes of going into the meeting.

Sometimes you just have to laugh! Within minutes of starting the meeting everyone started trying to cover different topics! The Goodyear people and local Rockwell team. I was more like a referee to start. Blow the whistle, false start Rockwell....5 minute no talk penalty...repeat start of meeting!
The meeting actually went really well! We covered everything that we needed to, it just took a little longer...and we took an indirect path. But!!! We got there.
Here's an example of how it can go crazy. I made copies of a bunch of different reports that I wanted to show as samples to Goodyear. I wanted Jerry to make the presentation to practice is public speaking and presentation...so I could judge where we were at. I had Jerry put all the reports in a specific order, so that they complimented each other. I had him review them the night before, then we went over them again in the morning (Just to make sure he was ready). Well, he was! I was very excited about the progress. The one thing I didn't think to tell him was to hold on to the reports until it was time to talk about them.

We walk into the meeting, Jerry gives everyone their copies! Ughhh! Everybody starts going through them. I ask if we can wait to view those a little later....everyone agrees. So we go on with the meeting. When it comes time for Jerry to present, everyone comes back to the reports. Well, Mr. Gao the head of maintenance just starts leafing through them. Instead of Jerry telling him there is a specific order, he tries to peer at Mr. Gao to figure out which one he's looking at, then he tries to find that one to talk about. Then everyone else has to fish through the pile to find that report....no more complimenting reports :( The good part is that Mr. Gao liked the reports and was very excited about getting this kind of information. So it ended up well!
I think part of the problem is a cultural thing. There is a definite hierarchy that has to do with age. I think Jerry defaults to Mr. Gao's lead by up bringing....if that makes sense. It's strange for us, but very natural for them. All in all the meeting went extremely well! We are on our way! Data collection starts next week! Hopefully all goes well...I'm confident it will.
Second event today, we went to lunch and I ate dog! That's right! I tried it! I have to say as often as it's said; it tastes like chicken. I had two little pieces. They served it like shredded pork. It wasn't bad...I couldn't eat it like it was chicken because I knew it was a dog. Tracy and Jerry ate it like it was going out of style. They both liked that I was willing to try it. There's a field engineer that has a pet dog. We joked that it was his dog. When we walked back to the plant, we saw a couple dogs on the way. I asked if we should take them home for dinner. They both about fell over laughing! Apparently they only eat dogs that are specifically raised for food. As Jerry said, "Just like pig."
Finally, here are some pictures of my apartment, thought you might like to see my home away from home!

Here is the Living Room


Here is the kitchen, that silver thing is my washer/dryer.


Here is the desk that delivers the Pudgy Panda Blog! Very Hemingway, I just need a bottle of Scotch and a pack of smokes!

The bedroom

Um, this picture rocks! Jackie Chan endorsed dumplings! Highlights tomorrow. You can also see the Jackie Chan dumplings in the kitchen picture!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ben-Hur and Tracy Andretti

I got home from work today and turned on the TV as I went over some notes for the day. I wasn't really paying attention at first. Then I found Charlie Wilson's War on TV (I love that movie). So I left that on till it ended. After it ended I left it on as the credits rolled through. I continued going over some stuff, then I heard the dialogue for the opening scene of the next movie. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, so I looked up. It was Ben-Hur! On TV in CHINA! Hilarious!

This movie is my Dad's favorite movie of all time! When we were kids and the family got our first VCR, my Dad and Mom each bought a VHS Tape to watch. Mom bought The Way We Were (A Robert Redford love flick). Dad got Ben-Hur. So for the first 6 months of having the new VCR, if Dad was home, we were watching Ben-Hur. My brothers and I can quote almost every line from the movie. Just from repetition! I can't believe it's on in China....and on a local Chinese channel (All in English). It's actually a great movie, swept the awards when it originally came out. Held the most Oscars won, until Titanic. Although Dad is quick to point out that Ben-Hur won all the big ones, Titantic didn't.

"There is rebellion in the wind; it will be crushed." Marsellus

I found something worse than a taxi ride today. The local Rockwell sales engineer Tracy. She drives like an indecisive Zebra crossing a river of Crocs...it just isn't going to end well. I road with her back from lunch today, she feathers the gas and likes to stop in the traffic! (Very dangerous in China!)

When we were done for the day, she offered me a ride back to my hotel. I tried to come up with every excuse I could think of to take a Taxi! She shot them all down. So I had to ride with her. On the way back, I had my window cracked and was holding onto the frame with my hand through the window. We were talking about work, when all of the sudden she decided to close my window! Only problem, I still had my hand in the window!!!! She didn't just tap the close button, she held it down! I said, "Hey! Ouch, ouch, ouch!"

"Oh, so sorry, didn't know your hand was in the window." She stops the car in the middle of the highway to check my hand.

Cars start swirving to miss us, honking horns, barely missing us! I keep trying to persuade her that I'm OK. "It's OK, keep driving!"

Hilarious!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pictures! Pictures! Pictures!

Here are pictures I took today. I figured everyone might want to see the Goodyear plant that I go to every day! I took pictures of the plant and the neighborhood


This is Goodyear right inside the gate. It's about a 5 minute walk to where I start my day.
This is a shot down a street near Goodyear. I pass it on my way to lunch. There are apartments everywhere. I'd say this neighborhood is lower middle class for China




HOOP DREAMS! This basketball court is right on the Goodyear property when you walk in. I'm hoping to catch a game if the weather warms up. Actually, I'm REALLY hoping to see a game! I promise great pictures if it happens.


This building is 40 yards away from the next picture. This is somekind of real estate development business office.




This is right down the road from the above picture. All the people from the apartments bring their trash right out here and dump it! Someone comes everyday and scoops it up. It smells bad now. I can't imagine what it smells like in the Summer. The place where they get coal is to the left of this building. This is what I mean by turn a corner and be in a different world. There was a whole regular toilet in the pile today...that struck me as odd. I would have thought that had some value....especially when you see another picture below!


Chinese doing laundry...a lot of the time they don't wash them either....they just wash them in natural sunlight!!! AHHHHH! Mother Nature!


A shot of the courtyard between buildings. The picture doesn't do it justice, it's a lot dirtier. The guy coming up the steps is Jerry. He's the person I'm training.

This shot is out in front of Goodyear. This way is down to the restauraunt we go to lunch at a lot. A Korean restuarant...I can't tell the difference. Seems Chinese to me. Jerry swears it's different. The garbage building is visible on the right, and the larger, modern building is also visible at the corner on the right.

This is in front of Goodyear looking the other way. I was trying to get a picture of the guy on the motorized cart! He was a wiley little guy. I wasn't fast enough.


Goodyear from the front, outside the gate.


This is the picture of the Chinese toilet! I should get a frickin metal for risking my life walking in here again! But hey! The Pudgy Panda works for the people! This bathroom smells like something I wouldn't wish on anyone. It makes your eyes water just going in the door. Note the wastebasket in the corner. That's where the used toilet paper goes! They say a picture is worth a thousand words...or smells.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Good meal!

It's Sunday night here in Dalian. I just got back from a GREAT dinner. The plant manager Rick and his wife invited me to their place for dinner. They are staying across the street from me. They have a huge apartment at the residence inn of Shang-Ra-La hotel. Rick and Susan couldn't be nicer people. I was really grateful to be a guest. His wife made fish and shrimp. It was really good. I'm starting to eat fish, which I never use to like much. However, Dalian is a port city and fish is a big part of the menu anywhere you go.

They both have really good taste in music. I dare say their taste is almost as eclectic as mine. Rick and Susan have moved 18 times in the 32 years that he's been with Goodyear. They also own a home at Emerald Aisle in North Carolina. My family vacations there every year. So we talked for a while about the area. (Small world) They were a lot of fun to talk to because they've lived in a lot of areas. Rick took this assignment in China because they are building a new plant. He says it's an engineer's dream to start a new plant. So he's enjoying the work immensely. We talked about some of the difficulties in communicating with the Chinese. All in all a great night.

One quick funny story. I went to the local grocery store to grab a bottle of wine to bring to dinner. I knew I needed a white wine for fish, so I was looking through the wines, and tried asking a Chinese worker if she could help. I think I got her to understand that we were having fish....so I point at the wine selection and started making gestures to eat and drink and kept saying fish. Finally she goes, "Ahhhh". She grabs a bottle of some kind of white wine and gives it to me. I look at another bottle and point, she says, "No!" and keeps pointing at the bottle she has. I try to grab one other bottle and she jumps in front and yells, "No!" again.

I thought alright then, it'll be this bottle of wine!

Lesson: Don't ask the Chinese for advice, unless your sure your willing to accept the answer as final!

Good Times!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Chinese Technology

I have decided that from now on I'm taking my camera with me everywhere. I don't know what I've been thinking to this point. It's really the only way to get the great shots. Friday I was in a cab heading to the Goodyear plant, when I saw a guy on a tri-cycle that had a storage area on the back. It was loaded at least 10 feet in the air with cardboard on it. It looked like one of those crazy emails you see.

I walked to the grocery store today. There is a building under construction right next to my hotel. When I walked by I saw everyone staring up....so I looked up. There was a construction crane raising this giant piece of steel. Right over traffic. It was only about 40 feet above traffic. There were no safety cables attached to it.....Just amazing! No OSHA here!

I made it through the grocery store today! That was huge! I'm getting better and better at finding my way around. I know how to say enough words to usually get what I need. In the grocery store there was a HUGE seafood section. Everything is still alive, it's kind of like going to an Aquarium. You can walk around and see Turtles, Eels, Fish, Clams, weird things that live on the ocean floor, and an assortment of things I have no idea where they come from. All these things are alive and squirming around. I especially felt bad for some fish. They were just put in a tub with barely enough water to cover their gills....they have to know the end is coming! I walked around the seafood section for probably 20 minutes....just looking at the animals. It's a free zoo!

They also had some kind of little creature that was very expensive. They were kept in locked little aquariums and cost 1600RMB. That's over 230 bucks American. I don't know how many you get for that price, but I guarantee no one in America is looking to pay for these things! They were each maybe 3-4 inches long. Weird.

The last couple of days I've noticed more and more, how China somewhat limits their use of technology. There are so many people here, that they limit technology to create more jobs for people.

Every morning I pass some kind of roadside project. I think they are going to widen the highway. They first are digging out a hill along the highway. They have a Shovel, Scoop, Truck, thingy...but they only use that to loosen the dirt. They have 10 guys with shovels that shovel out all the dirt. Really weird, it's like that all over. They use some of the technology, but will use 10 guys to do the job of one machine...so that everyone can make a living. I think people are the number one resource in China.

They also burn coal in their apartments for heat. There is a HUGE area of coal, next to a bunch of apartment buildings. I asked Jerry what the coal was for, he said everyday the people come to the pile and take their daily allotment.

In China you can be driving on a very modern street, then you take a left, and you are in an area that you and I would call a slum. It's strange like that. Every corner has it's own surprise waiting around the bend.

So with my new policy of carrying the camera! I will have many more pictures to post!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wal-Mart and Back To The Print Shop, and the NCAA Tourney!

There's one thing in China that will get to you when your trying to conduct business. It's that there aren't any Staples, Office Depots, Office Max...you can't quick run to Meijer or Wal-Mart. You are looking at an adventure that you just don't know where it will take you.

Today at work I decided we were going to get all the rest of the supplies we needed. We already had to go back to pick up the stuff we had made at the print shop. So I figured we'd kill two birds with one stone. Get all the running around done!

It should have been a simple errand, an easy in and out stop. Something that is done in the States everyday! We had to pick up the printing and find the following: a container to hold used tags (Preferably a pencil cup of decent size), a Calendar book for Jerry, a 3 ring binder....that's it.

I ask Jerry if there is a Office Depot or Staples around, he says, "Huh? What is Staples?"

I describe Staples and He tells me they don't have anything like that. I ask him where he would buy office supplies, he says Wal-Mart. Perfect! That would be great! So we get in a cab and drive to Wal-Mart. It turns out Wal-Mart is next to the "DVD Rental Store". Greg told me this, but I thought he was crazy because you can't see the Wal-Mart above ground.

They have these domes that you walk in to. They look like Uncle Owen and Aunt Ruth's crib in Star Wars on Tatooine. It's just a dome with set of stairs at this protruding front entrance. You walk down a flight, then a set of escalators, then you're in what kind of looks like a Wal-Mart....it's hard to describe. Maybe because there's a million people walking around in it.

So we grab THE LAST shopping cart. As soon as I grab the cart and push, the cart heads sideways. I look down and all four wheels can turn. You can push this cart any direction you want, straight, diagonal, sideways, in a circle...in a square, knock yourself out. It's also short. I ask Jerry why all four wheels can turn? He looks at me crazy (I'm getting use to this look). I explain that the back wheels can't turn on a cart in America....he's flat out amazed!

It's fun to watch people pushing carts in China. They move everywhere. Someone wants to get by a person, they just move the cart sideways. The problem is that they are next to impossible to control if you want to go straight.

So we go to the office supply area. It's just horrible, there isn't anything. Some pens...some paper...not even a decent date book. We couldn't find any pencil cups. It's amazing, Wal-Mart with nothing. They didn't even have a three ring binder. We ended up finding some stuff that would make do. (Except for the pencil cup)

We head to check out. This was the best part. The check out lines are diagonal with four check out cubes stacked on top of each other. Each cube has an area where you can perfectly butt a cart up to. You can't pull the cart through, so I have no idea what happens to it. The area is packed with people! I don't know how to describe it. It was pure chaos. People were bumping into you, pushing, shoving, and yelling. Some people were checking out, some just thought that this area was the perfect place to leave the store....and people just kept coming! It was unreal! Finally we got out of there! I was so happy to leave!

Final description of a Chinese Wal-Mart- somethings were similar, a lot was different. Things were definitely cheap. They had a DVD area which cracked me up. I asked Jerry if anyone bought DVD's there, he said not many. All of this is underground which is funny to. I'll go back to this area and take some pictures.

Then we went to the print shop to pick up our tags and signs that were made. The print shop actually did a great job on the tags! They looked awesome, just like our regular ones, only printed in Mandarin. I'm going to scan one to put on the blog, I think they look sweet. So I look over everything and it's time to pay. The lady said they could take a credit card when we started this whole thing. Jerry does some translated and tells me to follow her....now mind you this store is as big as a bedroom. So I chuckle and say, "Follow her where? I can see her from here."

Jerry then tells me that they use the hotel next doors credit card machine. They don't have one themselves. This surprised me....it shouldn't have though...really. So I follow her into the hotel. The hotel clerk runs my card....it doesn't work, tried another card..won't work!

Side Bar: Here's the weird thing about Dalian. It's 10 years behind Shanghai and Beijing. There are a lot of quirky things here. Everywhere says they take VISA, but it has to be Chinese. They have a special logo on the Visa card. If you're in Shanghai though, you can use your credit card almost anywhere. You'd be hard pressed to find a regular spot you couldn't use it. Also in Dalian the ATM's are different. For some reason it will only let me take 1000RMB out a day (Roughly 150 Dollars). That's it! In Shanghai, I could take out as much as I wanted. It's weird like that.

Back to the story! So I don't have enough cash total between what's in my wallet and what the ATM will let me withdrawal to pay the bill. We walk back to the print shop. I'm explaining to Jerry the money problem as we walk. When we get to the door he says, "I have Chinese VISA, why don't we use that?"

I look at Jerry and say, "Jerry, maybe you could have mentioned that in the hotel as we stood there for 15 minutes trying multiple cards, multiple times?"

"Oh yeah, sorry!"

Last but not least, I started an office pool for the NCAA tourney! Chinese edition!!!! I got a bunch of people in the office to fill out brackets. We also hit up all the engineers. They are all playing for a pack of NBA Basketball cards! I thought this would be a fun way to meet everyone, get Rockwell some more exposure in the plant, and see some crazy picks!

What's funny is that no one here knows what NCAA Basketball. They don't see any games on TV, so they have no idea who the teams are, where they are from...even how it works. I'll post some of the final four picks later! They're great! One guy (Big Boy) picked Akron to win the whole thing, because that's where Goodyear's HQ is located. Good stuff! More to follow!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St. Patty's Day in Dalian!

Hello everyone! Sorry I haven't written anything in the last couple of days. I've been busy! Work is starting to show some real progress. I had a great meeting with the Plant Manager today. We were scheduled for 1/2 an hour, we talked for 1-1/2. His name is Rick, he's an Ex-Pat from Chicago. He's very supportive of my visit to Dalian and wants to help in anyway. He's having me do an interview with the plant Newsletter so that I can explain what our company does and why we are at Goodyear. It was REALLY a good meeting.

Also, I was able to secure a copy of the entire storeroom inventory for the plant. This is a HUGE win for Rockwell. Now I have to work with our local team to show them the significance of the list, and how we can help Goodyear....could be interesting! Stay tuned!

So enough about work! I have had a couple interesting events the last couple of days.

First, now that I switched hotels my new one is a little harder to find for the Cab Drivers. I think it's because it's new. They haven't had a lot of traffic there yet. So Monday when I get in the cab, I hand him a business card with the address on it. He shakes his head yes and peels out like a bat out of hell....all pretty standard for a trip. I put on my IPOD and zone out. All of the sudden I look up and the driver is turned staring at me saying something (As he continues to drive). I turn off the IPOD and point ahead saying, "Keep your eyes on the road man!"

He grabs the card off the front seat, points at it, shrugs his shoulders and says, "Don't know?" Just to add to the excitement, I forgot my cell phone at the hotel. So I can't call the guy I'm training to have him explain.

I look at him again and say, "Well it's just you and me pal" So I start trying to figure out where we are at....I actually have some idea, so I start trying to direct him. Talk about the blind leading the blind! It was hilarious! I said turn right (And pointed), he turns left! Every time I point or say something, he starts to turn around to look at me...In the middle of RUSH HOUR! I keep going, "Dat, dut, dut, dut, dut" and motion to turn around, he would lift his hand and say, "Sorry". When I say that he would turn around, I don't mean- kind of look over his shoulder, I mean- he turned his whole body around in the seat trying to give me his undivided attention, as we are driving.

After a while we started to work like a team! We started hitting our groove (We'll build him better, stronger, faster!). Finally we reached the hotel! He got a big smile on his face and said, "OK?"

I said, "OK"

Yesterday was St. Patty's Day! I was pumped to find an Ex-Pat's bar and enjoy a little St. Patrick's Day fun.....DENIED! The Chinese don't have a clue about St. Patrick's day. I mean not a clue! I asked Jerry (Guy I'm training) if he knew what it was about, he said, "Huh?!"

So I decided to make my own St. Patrick's day fun! I told Jerry we were going out to celebrate! He said he didn't understand the custom. I told him it'll be easy.

We went to dinner first. He took me to a Chinese BBQ place. You walk in the door and there are two cages on the ground. One has two giant, fat rabbits in it. The other one has 6 or 7 Doves in it. I ask Jerry if this is a pet store too? He laughs and says you can pick one for dinner if you want. They will kill it and bring it out for you......."Alrighty then!" I started singing the old Loony Toons bit where Elmer Fudd is singing opera, "Kill Da Wabbit! Kill Da Wabbit!!" (Jerry is lost on that one, but I thought it was funny.) I pass on my choice of live animal and we sit down.

The table has a small pit in the middle of it. I'm not sure what's going on, but what the heck. The waitress brings over a menu, Jerry starts to pa rose it. He's smoking a cigarette and asking me questions, here's how it went.

"Do you like Cow Stomach?"

"No"

"Do you like Pigs Testicles?"

"God No!"

"Do you like Lamb testicles?"

"Jerry, I don't like any testicles"

"Oh, OK"

"Do you like Chicken feet?"

"No, no"

"Do you like cow's tongues?"

"I've had it, but I don't want any tonight"

Finally we get to regular food and order some chicken, lamb, and beef. Jerry asks if I like Chicken wings. I told him I love Chicken wings! He said he will order. So finally the food starts coming but it's raw. They bring out a bowl of hot coals and set them into the pit on the table. They then put a grill over top of that and you cook your own food. Jerry starts to cook a bunch of meat...He was doing it really weird, so I grabbed the tongs from him and said, "Let me show you how Daddy walks".

He stared confused for a minute then said, "You know how to BBQ?"

I looked at him and said, "Does a Panda eat Bamboo?"

He started cracking up. So we ate dinner and it was really good. They season the meat well...OH! The chicken wing! Half way through the meal, Jerry looks around, "They forgot your chicken wing!"

I looked at him quizzically, "A chicken wing?"

Jerry signals the waitress and she shuffles off to the kitchen. She comes back with this massive chicken wing. It's the entire wing intact! From the socket to the tip! I just started cracking up! I looked at Jerry, "I guess your right, that is a chicken wing"

He then told me that the most expensive part of a chicken wing in China is the very tip of it. The part with almost no meat. We throw that part away. They prize that more than any other part.

I let Jerry have the chicken wing.

After that we went to a couple bars in Dalian to celebrate St. Patty's Day.

So I tell Jerry that it's time to celebrate. He looks at me strange and says, "I don't know this custom?"

I say, "It's really easy, we are going to have a drink, then another, and another, and another, and another, and another- then we will go to a different bar."

He looks at me, "Wow, that is custom?"

"You betcha!"

The bar had Guinness (Which shocked me!) and Jameson whiskey. So Jerry and I started to celebrate. After a couple drinks Jerry really loosened up. He told me he REALLY likes the Backstreet Boys! He starts to break into a Backstreet Boys song! I was trying my best not to crack up. I stopped him and said, "Jerry, don't ever tell anyone that again." He looked at me confused, and I told him I was just kidding.

After a few beers Jerry tells me how much he likes St. Patrick's day! He has now decided that he will start the holiday in Dalian. He wrote down March 17th on a piece of paper. We'll see how that goes.

I decide it's time to go to another bar, so we go to a place called "The Meeting Place". It's a cool bar. They are friendly, they usually have a singer or band that plays both Chinese and American music. Sometimes they are singing an American song in Chinese. I figured out last night that they were singing Shai, "If I Ever Fall In Love Again". Jerry thought that it was amazing that I could figure out what the song was....."That's how I roll Jerry".

The bar has a bunch of Harley Davidson design stuff hanging around. So I told Jerry to tell the bartender that I live in Milwaukee, home of Harley Davidson. Jerry does this and the bartenders eyes get as big as saucers! He says something in Chinese to the other two bartenders, the next thing you know they all have pictures of motorcycles on their phones and want to know what kind they are. Now I can only tell you that a Harley is a Harley by site. That's it. The first bartender shows me a picture, I shrug. He shows me a second picture, I shrug. Jerry then tells me they want to know what kind of Harley's these are....now the fun begins. I start making up names for the pictures.

"That's the Twin Meat and Heat Special"

"That's the Turbo Twin Nanny Buster"

"Ah, my favorite, The Rattle 650"

Every time I said a name they just go, "Ah!" and point at another. They didn't understand English anyways. I must have made up 10 different names. They like Harley's!

After that one we called it a night.

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Moved Hotels and Olive Garden

I moved hotels today. I am now in a Somerset, which is an extended stay hotel. I have a one bedroom apartment that has a kitchen and washer/dryer. I'm not sure how that's going to work yet. The machine does both functions in the same compartment, and the labels are all in Chinese. It should be an interesting first load. It's nice to be in something bigger than a hotel room. They also give you a DVD player to use, and just installed LCD TV's. All and all, it's a nice set up. The hotel is located in the Zhongshan Square. This area has a lot more choices for restaurants and shopping.

The lady that checked me into the hotel, Susan, told me there was a supermarket near by. I was excited for that, because I wanted to stock my fridge with water and pop. She was kind enough to walk me to the store. She was a really nice lady and we headed out.

She took me on a short cut through some alleys. The alleys were not clean at all. They reminded me of Gangs of New York. I was expecting Bill The Butcher to climb out at any moment...thought I was at The 5 Points! The worse part was there were spots where I almost couldn't breathe! It smelled so bad. We passed what looked like it might have been an old garage. This was the source of most of the alley's trouble. It was filled with rotting garbage! It was horrible. Susan didn't even give it a second thought!

The moral of this story? Stick to the main streets, no shortcuts, walk around the block! It was so bad that when we came back, I made up a story to take a cab for the two block ride....just so we wouldn't walk through that alley again!

I don't mean to make it sound like it's that way everywhere, because it's not....if you come though, do yourself a favor, don't take a Chinese shortcut. You'll thank me later!

After the trip to the grocery store, I found out there was an Olive Garden down at the corner...or as Susan called it, "Oliver Garden".

She said it was the same as in America. So I decided to check it out, because I just couldn't believe that this was possible. I got down there....it was not a real Olive Garden...but I liked the bootlegging of the name! I decided to try it just because of that....you have to appreciate the effort!

I ordered lasagna. I got a square that somewhat resembled lasagna, but it lacked the taste. Actually, there was no taste. It was a tasteless square. It was also overpriced for quality and portion...at least that part of Olive Garden they got right!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sick!


This car has the Autobot symbol on it. I took this in Shanghai. Vivien thought I was talking about the feet the whole time.
Friday night I didn't do anything. I stayed in the hotel room and ordered room service for dinner. I did this because I was planning on switching hotels today (Saturday). I found a brand new ex-pat apartment type set up, with a full kitchen, entertainment center, and washer and dryer. It was also like 200RMB cheaper than my current hotel (30 bucks).

I ordered some kind of chicken and rice, last night. I ate part of it, but I didn't like the taste, so I didn't finish it. I went to bed and set the alarm for 7:30AM. I woke up in the middle of the night with a horrible stomach ache. I took some Pepto and drank some water, but really couldn't sleep. I ended up watching a movie called Idiocracy, which is a Mike Judd movie (Beavis and Butthead). My friend Mike had told me about it, Mike you were right, hilarious! The whole premise is that smart people quit reproducing and stupid people have kids by the bushel. Thus devolving, it's really funny!

Anyways I kept sipping water and watching tv. Around 8:00 I threw up, I did it three times. I couldn't keep the water down. I've been down and out all day. It sucks! It's 4:00 PM and I still haven't even tried eat anything. I just got my stomach under control. Hopefully I'll get over this and take some pictures of Dalian tomorrow.

The new hotel is in a much busier square of Dalian, much more to do and see.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sea Urchins, Pick Tags, and "Rental DVDs"


The girl in the last post picture was Vivien. She was my tour guide in Shanghai. This picture I took because I thought those Dragons were cool looking.


The last two days have been interesting. I went to dinner Thursday night with some Rockwell folks, we had another Ex-Pat here named Bryan, he's the global account manager. The dinner was interesting. First, I don't know if I mentioned this, but everyone that works for Rockwell picks an American name to go by. The amazing part is they have an uncanny knack for picking a name that fits perfectly. Thursday I met the greatest name of all! A guy named Steel! He's a project engineer for Rockwell. When he introduced himself to me, it sounded like he was saying Teal. I thought, "What an odd name?", then he handed me his business card...I was like, WOW! This is a great name! He's a short guy with salt and pepper hair. He talked a mile and minute, and loves movies. He new all about the Oscars and who won what. (Side note: Favorite Tom Cruise movies are the Mission Impossible movies, they absolutely love them! Apparently part of the third one has a scene in Shanghai. Can't stress enough, THEY LOVE MISSION IMPOSSIBLE) Anyway Steel, kept going on and on about the movies, I decided to nickname him Slum Dog Millionaire. We then just shortened it up to Slum Dog. We liked the nickname, but the name Steel was AWESOME! We were torn all night, which way to go? Tough decision, you win either way. Steel/Slum Dog (I still can't decide) was a great guy, hope to see him again.


So this whole conversation happens at a Japanese Hibachi restaurant. We're sitting at the table, Steel does the ordering. The first thing we get is a Sea Urchin. It just looked horrible. Steel yells across the table (Very loud), "It's good for penis!" Bryan and I started looking around, but we were the only two taken by the comment. Everyone else was nodding in agreement. Hilarious!


So a quick description of the Sea Urchin (Yes I tried it). They take this...thing...and cut the top off. It has prickly things all over the outside of it. The inside looks like snot marinaded in spit. (I'm not even kidding!) Bryan and I look at each other, I look down at Steel, he's already on his second one! I tried it and it was disgusting! Steel, Tony, and Jerry couldn't believe we didn't like it. They were shocked. We also had shrimp...the whole animal, eyes and all...just staring at you as the Hibachi guy cooked them up. There was pork and beef...the Chinese guys preferred the fat that was cut off and grilled separately. All in all a great time! New experiences and great conversation.


Now we move to Friday! Today I decided to find a print shop to make tags that we use for work to track assets through the plant. Jerry (The guy I'm training) takes me to this little shop. I mean LITTLE. There are four people stuffed in this little room, manually cutting out business cards. They have two computers in the corner, and paper everywhere. The whole room was the size of a small bedroom...just stuffed to the max. I am trying to get our existing tags copied and change the language from English to Mandarin. I never thought the movie Lost In Translation was that good...I do now. I'm dying to see it again.


I think I'll be the most patient person alive, when I get back. You just have to roll with the punches. I tell something to the person that speaks English, I watch about 10 minutes of animated talking, then I try to interject, then they keep talking. It's really actually funny if you roll with it. But it can take forever! Also, the Chinese pirate EVERYTHING!! They have every software known to man! They get it all for free off sites on the Internet. Every computer is just loaded to the bone! They have it all! It's really impressive. So it took 1-1/2 to get everyone on the same page for the tag design (Even though I brought actual English ones). Then we came back in the afternoon to see a computer printed sample. Then it took another hour to get the mistakes fixed, but we should have a bunch ready by Wednesday...you might ask, "Why does it take till Wednesday?"


The tags are going to have a string attached at one end. That all has to be done by hand. Someone's going to attach 2000 tiny little ropes! Gotta love it!


The last story is the best one! Jerry took me to the...well...we'll call it the "DVD Rental Store". We walked to what looked like a subway opening. We walked down some stairs, then we took two escalators down further. The next thing you know we are in this giant underground shopping area. They call it a mall, it looks more like a high end flea market. Jerry just starts walking like we're at Woodland Mall. I'm standing there in amazement. Every little area is a completely separate shop/seller. There is all kinds of stuff, you name it, it's down here. It's like a bootleg Wal-Mart. I can't believe what I'm seeing, there's so much stuff down here! Jerry waves me to hurry up and follow.


We walk further into this complex...just passed the pet section, just passed used coffee makers, just passed pots and pans, just passed used dehumidifiers...I think? We walk all the way to the back. All of the sudden Jerry looks around and says, "Oh, no! They are closed again!" (I'm not sure if this means the police shut them down, or he's just out to lunch...I didn't feel I needed to know.)


All of the sudden a lady says, "DVD's Upstairs". Jerry says we should follow her.


I asked Jerry where we were going, he said to get DVD's....of course.


We walk down this hallway to a door. The lady knocks on the door, there is some verbage exchanged...maybe an "Open Sesame" password exchange. The door opens up, and there's a guy standing there with a smoke in his mouth. He says to come in. He pulls back a curtain from inside the door, we are now in bootleg DVD heaven! An Ex-Pat god sent! With only four channels of TV, this is as good as it gets! They have everything. They have stuff that isn't out on DVD yet! And not a guy shooting in a movie theatre...don't ask me how they get it! So I "Rented" 16 DVD's for 22 bucks!


Here's what I "Rented": (Some are old, but when they are that cheap to "Rent")


Valkyrie

Shawshank Redemption

Blade Runner

Atonement

Quantum of Solace

You Don't Mess With The Zohan

Superbad

The Hunt For Red October (Gotta have a Connery flick on an International mission!)

Click

Reservoir Dogs

The Firm (What does she find Mitch? Heartache.)

Out of Africa (My Dad keeps telling me to watch this one, so I'm going to)


And four war documentaries


The Concise History of WWII (2 Disc)

The Last Secrets of The Axis of Evil (History Channel DVD)

The Road To Victory (WWII)

Victory In Europe (WWII)


Not a bad deal! There were just to many to keep looking! I'll be back later. Hopefully some pictures of Dalian tomorrow! And an update of my schedule!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dalian, a love of the NBA, and a drinking cabbie




Hello everyone! I'm sorry I haven't posted in a couple days, but I'm finally at my job site. It's been like drinking from a fire hose the first couple of days. Just trying to write down everything I hear, and make sense of it at night. It's going to be a challenging job, but fun. The plant manager is an Ex-Pat from Chicago. He has been really nice to me. He's gone out of his way to visit with me, and make me feel welcome. I think we've started out on the right foot! Now I just have to deliver what he wants.

It can be a little crazy with the with the Chinese. They tend to run with nuggets of information. Here's what I mean, I start to explain a concept, someone understands a piece of the information I'm delivering and starts to explain to the group in Mandarin. 10 minutes later someone looks up and says, "OK, got it." Now, I know they didn't get it yet, because I haven't fully explained it....but they try hard and they are all anxious to learn! It's fun to be a part of.

Oh Yeah! I saw the bathroom at the plant this week. I was warned by my friend Greg, who has also been to this account. Warnings don't help in this case! First the smell is so revolting that you think your going to throw up. (It hurts to breathe) The urinals are on the wall, but I'm not sure if they do anymore than just drain into the ground. The stalls are holes in the ground, but what's worse than that, is that they throw the used toilet paper in a basket next to the hole. It is something to behold!
Dalian is a nice city. It's small by China standards...meaning it's the size of Chicago. It's a lot cleaner here than in Shanghai. It doesn't have the tourist stuff, but I think it's nice.

This next part goes along with some questions that BK asked. Do the Chinese like the NBA? Ummm, yeah! They love it! They know more about it than the average American. They all love Yao Ming, that's a no brainer. Then it's usually Kobe or Lebron. However they all struggle to say Lebron's name. Most of them say Lebberrin James. The first question the head of engineering asked me was, "Do you like Yao Ming or Tracy McGrady more?" I've been asked some interesting questions, but usually they have to do with the job. It's crazy! You should see how excited they get when I tell them about an going to an NBA game. They're like little kids! Their eyes just light up!

I'm going to try to use the NBA craze to help install some of our processes. I'm having a co-worker from the States send me boxes of NBA cards. I'm going to give them out to people that complete the processes correctly! I think it's going to be a big help, they are that crazy about the NBA. They don't like baseball though...at least no one that I've talked to.

Last but not least, just when you thought a cab ride couldn't get anymore exciting, it did. When I left the plant today, I got in a cab and smelled booze. At first I thought maybe it was the former passenger, then the cabbie turned around and starting talking Mandarin, WHOA! Big old wiff! I almost got out, but then I thought, "Screw it, let it ride!" I think they drive better with a few cocktails in them. It sedates the inner rage. We only almost crashed twice. I listened to Welcome to The Jungle, just to spice it up more! I also saw another cabbie pulled over by an under pass. He was just standing there taking a leak for the whole highway to see. I was cracking up! More soon!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Quick Post!

Sorry this one will be short. I have arrived in Dalian. I will post more tomorrow. One very funny thing though. The first picture on my last blog of the two guys with hammers. I took that picture because of the movie Ben-Hur. I went down to breakfast today and grabbed a "Shanghai Today" paper. The front page had a huge picture of the same thing!!!!!! I had to take a double look, I thought I took the picture. Apparently that was a big deal! Who says the Pudgy Panda Blog doesn't bring you the most up to date and happening events in Shanghai!!!!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

How much for a Gremlin?

Hello Everyone! I'm back! I didn't do a blog yesterday, because it wasn't that exciting. Today was a big day out and about town. I've included a few pictures. I'll keep posting more each day from the ones that I took on this day of going about town. I was picked up this morning by Vivian who works for Rockwell. She was my guide today. The funny part is that she's only been in Shanghai for a year. She hasn't seen a whole lot, and she's my guide! It was actually pretty cool, because she was just as interested in going to see the city as I was. Plus, she is Chinese so can instruct the taxi drivers to destinations.

This first picture is for Dad (And all McConnell's). These guys were pounding some kind of stuff in a perfect beat, back and forth. Just like in Ben Hur...RAMMING SPEED! It was pretty funny!

We left the hotel and went to see a Tao Temple. It was on the Puxi side of Shanghai, which is the west side. (Again Shanghai is cut into two sections by a winding river called Huangpu Puxi [Poo-she] to the West and Pudong [Poo-Dong] to the East) We took a cab there and made our way inside. It was pretty cool, there were tons of people there. There were so many shops, they were all selling little souvenir trinkets. Plus, everyone was trying to sell you knock off watches. You couldn't walk three feet without someone offering you a knock off watch.



We walked around the Temple stores looking at several different things. I really didn't want to buy anything because I was going to have to lug it around for 9 more weeks. However I did want to try out my bartering skills. Everyone that's been to China has told me about this process. You don't pay full price and you really have to chop the price. I was looking at a little painting I thought was sweet, when I saw in the corner a guy selling these little statues. So I wandered over to see what my man had going on. They were actually little statues that he carved stamps into the bottom. He would make a stamp out of the bottom that put your name in English and Chinese. I thought that was worth trying my skills on, because I didn't care if I got it or not. If I did get it, it would be a cool little joke souvenir. So I started looking through the little statue guys: Dragons, Tigers, Ox, people....all kinds of different styles. I found a sweet one that looked like the guy that sold Gizmo in Gremlins. I saw it had a tag for 150RMB (Roughly 22 dollars). That price was ridiculous, I don't think anyone would pay that price. So I asked him how much. Here's a play by play of the bartering:



"You want to know how much? I give special discount to you." He now pulls out a calculator and multiplies the price out to make it 90 RMB. He also does the look both ways gesture, like everyone is going to flood his booth if they knew I was getting this discount.

I say, "20 RMB"

The look he gave me was priceless. Like I just didn't understand this fine piece of Art in his hands. "These 20, anyone you want" pointing at a pile of junk with no carvings at all.

He then starts to tell me about how long it will take to carve my name into the stamp. I see a sign that says (In English) "Guaranteed Carvings in 5 minutes". I point at the sign and say, "5 Minutes."

He says, "You get for 60, best offer".

I say, "30"

He says, "No." So I start walking away, he yells, "Comeback, comeback!"

So I come back and he says, "OK, 40-OK?"

I start walking away again, then he yells, "Comeback, Comeback American"

I came back and got my little Chinese guy for 30 Yuan. He gave me a name book (A real one) that had English to Chinese translations for names. Vivian and I found mine, and he carved the stamp into the bottom. (30 Yuan is 4.38 cents) I'm not sure if I got the best price, but it was good practice and I would have paid four bucks anywhere else. The statue guy is sweet looking.

After that we continued to walk around, then I heard this loud racket of clanging symbols and drums. This guy to the left was making all the noise. He was awesome! He wanted 5 Yuan to look at some kind of crazy picture machine. It looked to be a novelty maybe in 1920. He was clamoring on with his drums and symbols yelping the whole time. I watched him go for five minutes. (I took this pic for BK, I thought he might get a kick out of it) After we walked around for a while longer we had lunch, dumplings and soup. It was pretty good, but I've had better dumplings. I'm glad that Vivian was there to order food, because there was no English on this menu.



After that we went to 19th Street. This is also called, The People's Square, if I'm not mistaken? It was a massive walking street of stores. This is where most of the Western stores are located. They have everything you could imagine, mostly American or European. All the prices were very much Western also. This stretch of shopping is so long that Vivian said we should take a little train cart. This was a great idea because it was a sea of people. I mean A LOT of people. This thing took us to the other end of the shopping aisle (Also note the guy on the left side in a cart. He was a beggar and he wouldn't leave me alone, so I turned my camera on him. Everyone started laughing, so he tried to hit me with his stick in a joking manor, he smelled REALLY bad.) The area was enjoyable enough, I think Vivian liked it more than I did. It was OK, but I mean, I didn't come to the other side of the world in search of a Ralph Lauren store. I think the Chinese like to look at the Western styles and culture. I also saw the 4 stories McDonald's! We were in the cart train, so I couldn't take a picture...moving to fast. It was hilarious though...and PACKED!!!!

After that we walked another mile or so (A lot of walking today!). We then came to the Bund, which is an area that you can look at the PuDong side from. It was really cool to see. I imagine it's even better at night! Seeing the skyline lit up. This is where I took this sweet picture! This guy was an important Marshall/General at some point. I thought it was an awesome statue, just in the middle of this area. The statue is pretty big. I'm still in search of my first Chairman Mao statue. The guy has eluded me to this point.





I took some pictures from the bank looking at the PuDong side. There were tons of people taking pictures there. It was fun to watch. A lot of the girls would try to pose in front of the skyline.
They would pose like they were giving a far away sophisticated look. It was a pretty good time watching that. There were couples having their pictures taken as well, but it wasn't as funny as the posing. It is a really impressive skyline to see up close. The tall building with the round ball is called "The Oriental Pearl". It is a TV broadcasting station built by the government. It is tall, I'm not sure how tall. I asked Vivian if it had an observation deck, she said yes. So we went and checked it out. We went up to the second pearl. It was a great view! There will be some pictures at the bottom that are taken there. There was one problem. The elevator down had a huge line to get out. It is not fun to be crammed into 70-80 people. That part sucked! Once we were done there, we called it a day. You have to remember that both sides of this city are just MASSIVE!


Here are some more pics. I'll post more later.





















From the Pearl. This is looking across at the Puxi side.



















Across to Puxi again.





















Across again




















From the base of the "Oriental Pearl"