Not in my backyard

Shǐ just got real.shijustgotrealOne of the side-effects of planting lots of trees around your building is that it attracts people looking for some token privacy. I think I can emotionally empathize with these neighbours now.

Maybe it’s like gun laws in the USA; the people who would actually heed these signs aren’t the ones making the problem. But at least acquiring them lets off a little culture stress steam. I’ll put them up, along with some “Don’t throw garbage” signs, but our real plan is to make our own sign that says something like, “If you need to use the bathroom, you’re welcome to ring Unit 101.” The culprits are workers who are temporarily in the neighbourhood on a job (construction, installation, etc.) and who literally have nowhere to go. So we don’t really hold it against them, but I’d rather not have the ground literally right outside our windows used as a bathroom (or for naptime).

Market day in Qingdao

Market days (大集) are every five days, on the lunar calendar’s 2s and 7s. If you’re going to 赶集, those are the best days.
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This new location for Licunji (李村集) doesn’t compare to the old one, but market day still brings out tons of people.

Nation before family

One way to translate this is, “Nation comes before family.”

nationbeforefamily
有国,才有家 yǒu guó, cái yǒu jiā

Hyperliterally it’s, “Have nation, then can have family.” You could also render it, “You can’t have a family without a nation,” or, “You need a nation to have a family.”

It’s sort of a play on the word “nation/country/state” (国家), which is a combination of “nation”(国) + “family/home”(家), so when writing the word “nation,” the “state” literally comes before “family”.

(Mouseover the characters for their pronunciation!)

Praise the Motherland! Or don’t…

Part of my regular commute is literally lined down both sides with Chinese Communist Party propaganda. Recently, it was lined on both sides with vandalized Party propaganda. Someone took out all propaganda posters within a couple blocks’ radius, tagging or slashing dozens of posters.

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“Praise the Motherland!” 歌唱祖国

About two weeks later, the slashed ones have been replaced, but the tagged ones have just been whitewashed a bit.
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“Heartily sing a song praising the Party’s grace!” 高歌一曲颂党恩

We don’t often see this kind of graffiti. 99.9% of what we do see scrawled on walls is just advertising. But this particular wave of Party propaganda has achieved higher levels of saturation than the previous waves. Our district is full of it.

Easter weekend hike on Qingdao’s Fushan 青岛浮山

We’d rather have clear skies, of course, but the smog/fog can make for almost fantastical looking views from the slopes of Qingdao’s Fushan 青岛浮山。
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Air pollution has been in the mid-100s for much of March and April, but that’s not enough to keep us indoors. (At 200, we turn on extra D.I.Y. air purifiers.)
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There are plenty of decent picnic spots to be had.
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It’s that funny time of year where we go out in shorts and t-shirts while our Chinese friends wear sweaters and jackets, because we dress for the weather/temperature, and they dress for the Chinese lunar calendar/traditional Chinese medicine theory.

How to make the most of your friendly neighbourhood Chinese seafood restaurant

Play with the food!

The smaller ones are called 八带(bā dài); the one bigger one with the really long tentacles is a 马蛸(mÇŽ shāo)。(If you’re in China, you’ll need your VPN to see the video.)
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When I was I kid, sharks, anglerfish, and octopuses were the coolest things in the ocean. This restaurant has everything but the sharks.
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This isn’t the only place we play with live octopuses, but it is the most convenient. This night we were able to see them change colour and squirt ink at us. Homeschool points +1000!