SCA’s all-female sailing team in the Volvo Ocean Race

I was sent this cool Chinese-language video about SCA’s all-female ocean racing team in the Volvo Ocean Race:

ài shēng yǎ nǚzǐ fānchuán duì yángfān chūzhēng
SCA Female Sailing Team Sets Sail for Battle

Here’s a translation of the Chinese characters that appear in the video:

旅程 Journey
平衡 Equilibrium
勇气 Courage
专注 Devotion
力量 Power
战略 Strategy
关爱 Care
灵感 Inspiration
责任 Responsibility
敏捷 Agility
尊重 Respect
扬帆出征 Setting sail for battle

They’ll be in Sanya, Hainan at the end of January. This is the first all-female team to enter the race in more than a decade. Check out the team’s official page and their English-language videos:

P.S. – The English video has a slightly different list of values: teamwork, vision, empowerment, respect, efficiency, responsibility, performance, excellence.

“Weird Al” Yankovic’s Mandatory Fun Chinese propaganda posters!

“Weird Al” Yankovic is promoting his latest album Mandatory Fun with two Chinese propaganda poster spoofs. One poster has Chinese. To find out what it says, mouseover the Chinese characters here or scroll down:


“I’m not wearing underwear”
wǒ méiyǒu chuān nèikù

And here’s the other one:

Click the images for the original source.

“That’s right, I’m a foreigner!” 对,我是外国人!

Once upon a time we went to an all-Chinese mall in Vancouver, Canada to practice Chinese. We overheard this group of college-age girls say, “Hey, those wàiguórén speak Chinese!” Wàiguórén (外国人) meaning “foreigner.” And never mind who was in whose country.

Anyway, saw this shirt tonight and had to share. Reminds me of the mzungu shirts worn by wàiguórén in East Africa during bad reactions to culture stress. But with a twist. And not worn by a mzungu/wàiguórén:

外国人!” — 弗 2:19
“That’s right, I’m a foreigner!” — Ephesians 2:19

Aside from just being funny, it’s also interesting because of China’s general love/hate relationship with wàiguórén/the West. Just this week I come across usage of “fake foreign devil” 鬼子. And not to mention Chinese Christianity‘s complicated relationship to the English language, Western culture and Western Christianity in particular.

Maybe the t-shirt’s just a Bible joke and not meant to reference any of that. Or maybe it’s deliberately redefining the terms. Either way the joke’s historical-cultural context is hard to ignore. Because historical-cultural context is always hard to ignore. At least for this 外国人

P.S. –
And lest anyone feel like accusing this guy of being a fake foreign devil (鬼子), I should point out that not only does he not speak any English, he doesn’t even have an ‘English name’. Dude is just not interested in “sniffing after foreigners’ farts.

Related stuff:

Honked Awake (first time to call the cops in China)

It’s last Friday night and I’m dreaming a China dream. We have fellow foreigners for guests and they’re taking showers full blast, not realizing that using our first-floor apartment’s full water pressure will make the hot water run out in less than ten minutes. Alarms are going off because the hot water’s almost gone, and the alarms keep going and going and going, any second now there’ll be no hot water, wow I can’t believe the hot water hasn’t run out yet, don’t they hear the alarms…?

…and then I wake up and realize it’s not the shower. It’s 2:30am and some dipstick is outside laying on his horn, I don’t know for how long. It’s echoing off the buildings all through the neighbourhood. I think surely he’ll quit soon, but ten full minutes later he’s still going strong. So I get up and run out in my coat and plaid flannel pajama pants, wishing I had a paintball gun or eggs or something less damaging and illegal than the bricks that are always strewn around and temptingly handy for times like this.

I can hear other neighbours yelling about it to each other from their balconies as I walk. It’s not hard to find the offending motorist, obviously, a couple buildings over. One guy is standing near but a little ways away from the car. I ask him what the driver’s problem is. He doesn’t know.

“Has anyone called the police?”
“Maybe not.”

Maybe not? I stand where the driver can see me and call the police: “We’re in XX neighbourhood and there’s a crazy guy. You hear that noise? He’s been doing this for 20 minutes straight and has woken up everybody!”

I let him see me take a photo of his license plate. Then I knock on his window, which he rolls down.

“Hey what’s the problem? People are sleeping here! I’ve got a baby and a three-year-old at home. What are you doing?”
“Someone parked in my parking space! What else can I do?!” He rolls up his window and continues honking his horn.

I knock on his window again, and as soon as he rolls it down far enough…

“Don’t take my picture!”
“Then don’t honk your horn.”

I’d be happy to make that deal. But someone seems to be having trouble comprehending cause-and-effect, and it’s about to cost him.

One of my students’ fathers, Mr. Zhang, shows up. He knocks on the window, gets the same answer, tries to reason with him and gets nowhere. A third neighbour shows up, with his hoodie pulled tight around his face. He knocks on the window, gets the same answer. Then he starts yelling and cursing and kicks a huge dent in the front driverside door before bouncing a brick off the back window and running off into the night.

The driver starts yelling at us not to leave and gets out his phone like he’s going to call the police. So we leave and Mr. Zhang calls the police. They’re almost here. They find us and we lead them to the driver. The door-stomping brick-throwing hoodie-wearer shows back up to watch, grinning at me and chuckling.

The cops don’t even try to mask their incredulity. One repeatedly turns to us with an exasperated look as they listen to the guy’s explanation. I double-check with Mr. Zhang that they’re for sure taking him in for an alcohol check, and we walk home.

Mr. Zhang seems to think this is all rather humourous. Or maybe he’s laughing at my pants. Either way, we have a good time chatting on the way back to our respective beds. The End.

Our Cross-World Friends 5k Run

jessrunningpeace.JPGIn keeping with the theme of August around here, which seems to have been all things Olympic, six weeks ago I decided to take up my own “Olympic” challenge – to begin training for and run a 5k “race.” Seeing as there were no local 5k’s scheduled, I decided I’d just make my own…to be run on the treadmill at the gym. Yes, I know that the air outside was good enough for the Olympic athletes to breathe…but they were only here for a month. Since I live here and value the long-term health of my lungs, I decided to stick to the indoor running for now, but to try and tackle a longer distance than I had previously ever run. I had run more than 5k (3.1 miles) distance wise, but always with some (more than a few) walking breaks in the middle of it. So the goal was to run 5k without stopping…and, if possible, in under 25 minutes.

I’ve never been a runner…I took it up a few years back, just to see if I could “learn how” to run or at least learn how to not HATE running. I got up to distances of about 2 miles…though not loving it, I at least learned to tolerate it (and love the feeling AFTER the run). Then we graduated, moved away from the school’s gym that we always used, and then came to Asia…which meant that when we joined the gym in February, it had been at least 2.5 years since I had run at all. It was much easier to pick back up than I thought it would be…so I’d already been running several times a week when I decided to challenge myself to this treadmill 5k.

jess5kwave.jpgI was inspired by my friend Ruth…a mom of three kids who will hit 40 this year, and is in the middle of training for her first marathon (26 miles). She already ran a half marathon on July 4th this year. As I started to think about my running, it seemed like if she could run for that long, I surely could try to do a 5k!!! Then I decided to try a 5k, with the goal of doing a 10K eventually (now scheduled for November). So the training began. And as I trained, I told Ruth about it and she decided she would run it with me but in Texas.

nicoles-5k-010.jpg And then I told my friend Nicole about it…and she decided she would also run it with me, but in Washington. And thus, our Cross-World 5k Run was born!!! It was so encouraging to know that I had friends in other places training and planning to run with me. We planned to try and run it at the exact same time…but that’s kind of difficult to coordinate due to both time differences and to the general unpredictability of life, especially for Ruth and Nicole, who are both mothers. As proof of this unpredictability, one of Ruth’s kids came down with a stomach bug in the week of the “race”…and then passed it on to Ruth. In the end, we all ended up running it in the same 24-hour period, which counts as “at the same time” in my book.:D

jessrunningpose.JPGEven though we all participated in this “race” the goal was not to compete against each other, but to race against ourselves…to challenge ourselves to run harder, faster, better…and to enjoy it! Nicole and Ruth really got into the spirit of it and made “race numbers” for themselves. While running, we all had our challenges to face…Nicole raced while dodging middle-school kids who were playing football ON the track. Ruth, still in recovery from the stomach flu, had little energy with which to race. I, being a little nervous and excited about my first “race”, overestimated my beginning pace and went a little too fast…which meant that I hit a wall at about 2.5 miles and felt like I was going to throw up and pass out if I didn’t slow down a bit. But we all made it…and I can honestly say that I really enjoyed it for the first 2.5 miles. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that way before about running…and definitely not for that long.

I reveled in the feeling of how natural it felt to run, and felt my heart resonate to the the lyrics of “Dare You to Move” by Switchfoot. “I dare you to move…like today never happened before.” And I felt bold and proud…that I had dared myself to move and to take on this challenge…and that today, on this new day that had never happened before, I was both living out that dare and enjoying the results of it.

Now…none of of us are in the league of the Olympic 5k ladies, but then again…almost nobody is in their league. Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia ran the 5k in 15:41.40 in Beijing this year, which is pretty darned impressive. That’s a 5 minute 3 second mile pace!!! But we all did really well….Nicole finished in 27:12, Ruth in 30:28, and I finished in 25 minutes even. I am so proud of us all, for taking up the challenge and for finishing it (even with the flu and football players on the running track!!!), and am especially thankful that I have the kind of friends who are willing to both encourage me in this kind of challenge and participate in it themselves!




If you want people to read your blog, you have to have issues, preferably personal issues that masquerade as concerned citizenship. And you need to complain about how certain people are mean and/or stupid and are messing up the world. And say things that make people mad. And tell everyone how think. Sort of like what I’m passive-aggressively doing right now. This is especially effective if you’re young, white, and rich, and maybe a little paranoid.

We make a conscious effort not to do that on here too much, and we’ve sworn off politics – our blog is doomed! But by golly if this one didn’t just burn my biscuits…

In parts of Africa fat women are sexy. In Japan, it’s slender men. But in the West? We like ’em fake. We might think this is normal and no big deal. Call me paranoid, but I think living with stuff like this really messes us up. From

And, of course, we can always ask questions about emotional manipulation, reverse psychology, and why a company that makes beauty products would care to fund something called “Campaign for Real Beauty”:

I’m convinced that the media to which we expose ourselves affects us deeply. But bigger questions remain, like “Where does a person’s worth and value really come from?” And, “How do we decide what is ultimately, truly beautiful?”