Saturday, June 30, 2007

What the...?

Untversal Talk Jig, originally uploaded by Ambling Sheep.

OK, sorry - this is a cheap gag because I haven't had time to post anything meaningful in ages but... what the hell is this? Answers on a comment please.

I actually bought it (just so that I could photograph it) for 6 RMB but I can't imagine what it's actually supposed to do.

Knowing that it can 'jig' up to 10kg of 'tood' a total distance of 360mm really doesn't help...

Untversal Talk Jig, originally uploaded by Ambling Sheep.

Updated 2007/07/07

Well, Megan might be right but you'd need fingers of steel to hold 10kg of tood up with this thing, otherwise you'd just be nursing your bloody stumps.

Untversal Talk Jig in action?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Tufty Club for Grown-Ups

OK, you probably have to be 'of a certain' age, and British, to know the Tufty Club but it's from an age when the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (no, really!) decided that small children needed to know more about road safety and that, obviously, a small animated squirrel and his weaselly mate were the best way forward.

Clearly we're not the only foreign company in China to have fallen foul of the less than perfect situation that exists on China's roads as the EU Chamber of Commerce (thanks to Danwei) have hit upon the true consequence of Tufty's non-existence in this market. They are organising road safety seminars because "Road accidents represent not only a human drama, but also a very important economic cost for the company, as the majority of victims of car accidents are between 25 to 55 years old. For a company, traffic accidents represent a significant part of their statistics for industrial accidents, and can affect their overall economic performance".

And here was I thinking that the main reason you wouldn't want your employees to be killed is because of a desire to preserve human life. Apparently not. Then again, that's clearly not the primary concern of a lot of road users (truck, bus, car, taxi, bike or foot) either in China.

Morning Rush-hour

Sunday, June 10, 2007


This story will probably resonate with most foreigners who have a Chinese spouse.

The phenomenon is "舍不得" (shě bu de), literally "to hate to part with". The fact that there's such a snappy phrase should be a clue to its popularity. It may be a small thing (such as I bought a 3RMB vacuum flask which was awful and I've never used, we still have it though) or a large thing (I narrowly avoided having to move my awful 55inch RPTV to my new flat despite the fact that we had already purchased a (lovely) 52 inch Sony Bravia X Series full-HD LCD TV, but only because we managed to cram it into my sister-in-law's apartment).

We have just, thanks to the limited wardrobe space in my new place been faced with a storage crisis. This is compounded by the fact that I have more clothes now than I have ever had at any point in my life, partly due to 'panic buying' (they just don't sell clothes my size here - well, they didn't...) and partly due to having dropped 12 inches off my waist, 8 off my chest, 2 off my collar size and having gone from XXL thru XL and L before arriving at (mostly) M.

Twice now I've sorted out the clothes I simply can't wear only to find them hidden somewhere. When I say that I can't wear them it's because they're quite large, witness my winter coat - like I'm going to wear that (on my own...):

So, with much reluctance, YY has finally conceded that our 衣服山 has to go. Impressive, isn't it. I'm not quite sure where it's going to go, mind. The whole 'Charity Shop' concept seemed a bit confusing and exactly where they're going to find too many Chinese folks who need a jacket with a 48 inch chest or shirts with a 17.5 inch collar I'm not sure.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Great Firewall Fiddle Faddle

Akin to some of the other things I've mentioned, the Great Firewall seems to serve only one purpose and that is to denigrate China itself.

Expats rail about the fact that sites displeasing to someone (assumed to be one of the reported 10s if not 100s of thousands of young adults hired to 'protect' the other inhabitants of China) cause them to be blocked but it seems odd that no-one in the other echelons might have this thought...

"You know, I can cope with the fact that we permanently block access to loads of sites because they've displeased us (BBC news is permanently blocked although more newspapers and other news sites from the UK are permanently open), but this inconsistent blocking and unblocking of other sites (blogspot, typepad, wordpress, wikipedia, google, flickr (why Flickr?)) has no rhyme or reason to it. Perhaps we should just block them permanently or stop blocking them at all as the start/stop nature of the blocking makes us look like incompetent idiots."

The blocking is, quite frankly, pointless anyway as there can't be anyone out there that doesn't know ways to get over, round or through the blocks therefore the only result of the blocking is to irritate people. It doesn't prevent anyone access anything that they 'shouldn't' and the act of the blocking serves to make internet access of international sites as slow as they were in 56k dial-up days.

I'm sure they could undo the firewall in the time it takes to say 'death bus' and the internet wouldn't be all slow and crappy. Oh, and the international media wouldn't lambast China for its lack of freedom to information which, given that anyone can freely access any information that's on the internet anyway, would seem to be a good thing.