Sunday, November 25, 2007

These Aren't the Thai You're Looking For

Liz was sick for a few days a bit ago, so this weekend was my turn. The differences being that mine wasn't so bad (really just sinus problems leading to me blaming breathing difficulties on Shanghai's smog) and the fact that while I didn't get sick from Liz, she ended up having similar problems to me this weekend.

Hers just weren't quite so bad.

So when she went to her parents for dinner again, I wasn't feeling up to it, having barely slept Friday night. And when she went to play badminton on Friday with coworkers, I didn't feel up to it, so I went home instead. Overall it was a nice relaxing weekend wherein I left the apartment for meals and for church.

Church did bring another adventure, though. I was feeling well enough to go, so I figured I felt well enough to walk around some. Thus, we decided we'd try to visit a Thai place for the second time. Take the subway two stops, head south, then east, and then we should be there within half a block.

A dozen blocks later we hit the other Thai place instead.

Sadly, no days off for Thanksgiving here, but vacation's over back in the US anyway, so we didn't miss all that much, except of course for the good food and good company. Or the trip to Disneyland, as we'd previously planned our Thanksgiving to again be.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

He's a Live One

We visited the aquarium this weekend again. It was much nicer this time, being a regular weekend instead of a holiday. When we went in October we got annual passes, but they had to have time to print them, so we didn't get our passes until this weekend, and found that they'd misprinted mine. The solution is apparently to use whiteout and a pen. I wonder if I could do that to change the picture too.

We also went to a performance by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra this weekend, which was very nice. We got to go to an actual music performance hall, instead of to a sports stadium, and may have ended up on live TV at some point in the two-hour concert. We weren't the only people excited to be there, either.

The conductor himself seemed pretty excited. He was jumping around all over the place, waving so vigorously at the violin section that he almost lost his pants. I still wonder what a conductor is for, as they seemed able to play along just fine while he held his baton in his mouth, using both hands to adjust his pants and keep them from falling off.

Or maybe losing one's pants is so common among conductors that they teach the "conducting with the baton in your mouth" skill at conductor school.

I think crab season is supposed to be ending soon. But Liz got to eat more crabs last night, and discovered that she learned a bit too much information when we went to Lu Zhi a bit ago. She still ate the crabs, though. I just had McDonalds.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Table for One

I've been on my own this week, and it's been quite interesting. I've managed to get my own food, mostly by a lot of grunting and pointing. Monday was easy. I went to a place that had samples sitting out, so I could just point at the one that I wanted. She asked me something in return, but I hadn't a clue what it was. I assumed she was giving its name to see if that's what I was wanting. I just nodded, and ended up with the food I'd been expecting. Yum.

Dinner was even easier. Stop by the bread place, put some stuff on my tray, and then hand them much-too-large a bill, expecting correct change. I'm not positive, but it was at least close enough to count.

I then opted for an actual sit-down restaurant yesterday, but at a place with the menu translated in English, knowing I could again just point and get by with something I could eat. Of course, they sent a waiter that spoke English over to take my order, but I was already in the spirit of pointing and grunting, so I didn't have to do anything more than confirm my order. Paying my bill was fun, though, as I first had to find someone willing to take my money.

I'm not sure why a writing motion is a universal sign for "Check, please!", but it seems to work. Of course, after I got my change and thanked her (in Chinese), she told me "you're welcome" (in English). Why am I slowly learning Chinese again? Oh, right, so I can order ice cream, where there isn't a nicely-situated menu. No ice cream for me so far this week.

I'm starting to understand my numbers, and we've counted from 1 to 99 for the last couple of days in class. Who needs numbers greater than 100, anyway? There can't be more than that many things in the world, honestly.

I get to do lunch by myself again today, but Liz is feeling well enough that she should hopefully be able to join me again tomorrow. And I can go back to grunting and pointing in response to her questions instead of the waiter's.

In other news, I've added some images from the last couple of weeks to my web page, and a link to the gallery from here. None of our apartment or the view out our window or anything are up yet, but there are at least some pictures to look at.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Another Busy Week

I don't think there's ever nothing to do. Even before we got our shipment of DVDs and whatnot, we still ended up going out quite a bit to see shows and visit family. But this past Tuesday, we did end up getting our shipment (finally). Combined with the DVDs we got from Amazon on Monday, there may even be too much to do.

We found out late Monday that we were getting our shipment on Tuesday, and that they'd call back around 5 to let us know what time. This being after we'd previously been told that we'd be able to schedule any time we wanted, evenings, weekends, whenever. But I was fine with them picking the time as long as we got our stuff, finally (since it's getting chilly here, and I'm glad to have my winter coat).

Mid-morning Tuesday, they finally called us back, and scheduled the drop-off for 5 that evening. Not too bad a time, we'd have to leave work a bit early, but weren't going to have to waste half a day sitting around our apartment waiting for movers that refuse to show up on time. So we even had pizza delivered to our desks allowing us to work through lunch.

I was happy to see there wasn't any surprise shrimp on the pizza.

And then, when we got home, the movers were actually very prompt, and spent about five minutes hauling our boxes in the door. We could have had them unpack things for us, but we had little enough, it took little time to do it on our own. The only problem was figuring out what to do with the used boxes. We kept two. The magical used-shipping-material fairy came and carted the remaining boxes away from outside our apartment door sometime Thursday evening.

Other activities this last week: Wednesday we finished our unpacking, Thursday we ran to Best Buy (the one in Shanghai) to get some speakers, since I forgot to check the voltage on the speakers I shipped, we had dinner with Liz's parents on Friday and Saturday both. Saturday's dinner was preceeded by a day out with her cousin, walking around a park, and was followed by a magic show. And then yesterday, Liz had apparently had too much to do this week, and fell ill so she could remain home today.

Not that I'd have seen much of her anyway, as she no longer sits in the desk next to me.

We'd been debating going to see animals, but ended up opting for the gardens instead on Saturday. The park was nice, and I took lots of pictures, but still have yet to manage to upload any. They'll get here sometime. I just need to shrink them down a bit first. And the magic show was a lot of fun, being a magic competition, with nine different magicians performing, and the 90-minute show lasting nearly two and a half hours.

It's been a busy week. I want a weekend.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Not a Lot of Tuba

Two weeks, and it's not that nothing's happened. That's not why I've not been posted for the last couple of weeks. Rather, too much has been going on, and I've been distracted.

Work's been going well, getting lots and lots of stuff done. Nothing particularly interesting with typing on a computer all day, though, even when it is nice and things work out well. Meetings are required, but not worth talking about. But unexpected traveling certainly is. We hadn't thought we'd be able to go along last week when the rest of the office went for a trip to eat crab and see an old town. Since the office trip required staying overnight, we really needed our passports, and mine was still tied up in trying to get our shipment delivered. The trip left at four last Thursday, we got my passport back with little warning about one. So we ran to lunch, ran home, and made it onto the bus.

I, of course, didn't eat any crab. But that's ok, as Liz got to have an extra. I did enjoy the old town, and took lots of pictures, but still haven't really managed to get them onto the computer yet, so imaginations will have to be used instead. Until I manage to make some time.

Sadly, our delivery isn't yet here, although we're hopeful for this week. Just the last run through customs, and we should get it right to our doorstep.

Otherwise, in the last couple of weeks, I've had a few new foods, some interesting, some with yet more unexpected bits of shrimp. I've really got to learn the symbol for 'shrimp' so I can double and triple check and really, really, really make sure that neither what I order, nor anything else on the page, has anything even vaguely related to shrimp in it.

We also went to the zoo on the 27th. Without Liz's boots here yet, we didn't manage to walk around everywhere before feet began to hurt. So we completely missed the "Tiger Panda" and the "Wolf Panda", but we did get to see the pandas, one of whom was actually awake, and the lesser pandas, also whom had one awake. The difference then being that the big pandas slept on the ground, while we had to struggle to see the lesser pandas, which were hiding in the trees.

I must have played too hard, though, for the next day I felt unwell and stayed home while Liz visited her family. I made up for it yesterday, though, and spent the evening eating really good Chinese food and watching people play a card game I'm going to manage to understand the rules to sometime before we move back to the States.

We also made it to a symphony on Saturday. After getting confused and ending up at the wrong stadium (Liz pointed out that the symphony we were going to probably wasn't the one they were selling all of the glo-sticks for, but when we got there, I did see a couple of them wielded by two children sharing a seat), we finally made it. Several seats for our row/seat combination, but we managed to get to the right section (I hope. At least nobody tried to claim our seats out from under us), and greatly enjoyed the show.

That was a lot of violin. But I didn't notice all that much tuba.

Oh, and in other news, my Chinese class started last week. I hope I will have pronunciation well enough to not cause people to fall over laughing in a couple months, and may even learn a word or two while I'm here!