Tag Archives: facts

Before you Tweet…

Disclaimer: I am in no way trying to claim innocence or cast stones at the guilty.  I will be the first to admit, I am as guilty as anyone of spewing out words that I later wish I could take back, or making swift, bitter, comments in the heat of the moment without slowing down to realize the impact of my words. Therefore, I write this as a reminder to myself, as well as a reminder to others because I think we all need it from time to time.

I feel the world changed for the worse on November 6th, 2012 after a long heated season of campaigning, debating and speculation. It wasn’t the outcome of the election that was the problem – it was the instantaneous explosion on social media. For the first six days of November social media was filled with Today I’m thankful for… in the spirit of Thanksgiving netizens were using twitter, facebook and other outlets to say each day for the month of November what they are thankful for. Joy, happiness and gratitude were instantaneously spread throughout the world as millions focused on the positive.

But around 11:15pm eastern time, Obama was declared to be the next president of the United States of America and all gratitude, warm fuzzy feelings, appreciation and consideration went out the window. The world (by way of the web) exploded with exclamations of the tragedy, the horror, the end of the country we love, the agony and pain that we will experience over the next 4 years and a loss of hope as our country will surely go to ruin. On the other side, there was gloating, pride, in-your-face-suckers smirks, rubbing dirt in the face of defeated opponents.

The morning after the election when I woke up to a news feed full of ranting and raving, I posted this: so much hatred on facebook today. Seriously people? I get that half the country is pissed off, but do we have to be so bitter and hateful? Is that really going to help anything? I ♥ my friends, democrats and republicans alike. I’m glad y’all care about your country and got out to vote. So now show that you care about America and your fellow Americans by having a little respect and making the most of what we have.

Which, again, I should have prefaced with – I know I am guilty as well, just as both sides of the political realm are guilty.

But today, as I read beautifully written blog post by Jo Ashline (click here) and her view on the “Sad and Tragic Day for Our Nation“.  I began to think more about how grateful we should all be in light of, or despite of the outcome of our election. I began to think about how my own attitudes and words should be a bit more humble, a bit more appreciative and a bit more grateful. I began to think about how I should stop, think and reexamine my words before I go off on someone, or something in anger, impatience, disappointment or selfishness. How maybe I should think more about how I have been blessed and less about how much better things could be if….. (fill in the blank).

You may disagree with Obama’s politics.  You may disagree with universal healthcare, foodstamps and abortion.  You may believe that our government is falling apart and only encourages freeloaders who don’t want to work or pay for their own needs.  You can believe whatever you  want, but maybe you could consider how good you have it to be born in and to live in this country, whether Obama or Romney, Bush or Clinton, or Big Bird or Rush Limbaugh is president.

As Jo mentioned so eloquently in her blog, Some are elated tonight, and some are downright depressed, but know this: we get to pick again in 4 years. Before you bad mouth our country, try living somewhere else, where there is No choice and truly No hope. Count your blessings America, because there are many.

It is only four years, then America can choose again.  We have the right, the freedom, the ability to chose.  Four years seem like an eternity to you? Why don’t you consider this:

China – where I recently spent 14 months – is choosing a new leader soon who will serve for the next ten years along with a small elite group of individuals from China’s one political party, the communist party.  These the leaders will be chosen by 2200 delegates of the communist party in an incredibly secretive selection process in Beijing.  What about the other 1.3 billion citizens of China?  Oh well, they don’t have a say.

If those other 1.3 billion individuals do want to talk about what they think of the government and politics, they certainly can’t do it freely, not even on the internet. They live in a world where YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and countless other websites are restricted for most people, and their own social media outlets such as Weibo and Renren are heavily censored.

While I was in China, LinkedIn was suddenly shut down without reason or notice for several days, later determined to be because of talks of civilian protests online.  At one point, the Chinese name for Hillary Clinton was censored and any comments about her were blocked because of comments she made regarding human rights in China.

Whether or not you think the government should regulate healthcare and payment for healthcare, shouldn’t you be grateful that you have healthcare?  Think about the little girl that came to Shanghai to receive medical treatment in the summer of 2011 – I blogged about her and two other children here.

Lu Guo Yin, studies at Qiao Man school, has no medical record. Her eye was injured because a thorn poked into her eye. Because she lives in a very rural area, she couldn’t get treatment immediately, now she has lost her eye sight in her left eye.

Normally, to receive any sort of medical treatment these kids would have to travel over 7 hours.  Even then, the treatment would be primitive at best.

She ended up having her eye removed and received a prosthetic eye.  With access to healthcare, this would have been a minor injury, easy to recover from with full vision. She, by the graciousness of strangers, traveled for two days far far away from home and went through a traumatic surgery in a run-down Chinese hospital. Yet we complain about healthcare.

India – Another 1.2 billion people, another booming third world economy, another example of oppression, extreme poverty and lack of freedom. Before you talk about how Obama is a terrorist and having him in office is suicide for our nation. Then drive your $40,000 car to the church of your choosing on Sunday, and take $5 out of your Louis Vuitton purse to throw in the offering to do your part for those less fortunate – why don’t you go meet some of the people I met in India last year.

Go talk to the family who lived on $20 a month, and dedicated their lives to spreading the gospel. Spreading the gospel in a place where it is forbidden.  Every day facing the reality that they could be beaten, killed or thrown in jail for sharing their faith with others. Continuing to spread the word of God even after being beaten and thrown in jail, and watching the same thing happen over and over to friends and family. Continuing to pack one room shacks with one light-bulb and no plumbing full of people in villages of “untouchables” to hold church services. Go spend time with people who have absolutely nothing but their faith which they are persecuted for and then tell me how awful it is that you have to live through 4 more years of Obama.

Thailand – Did you know this is part their constitution? “The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action… Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.”

How would you like to spend 15 years in prison for mouthing off about the president? Be grateful, you don’t have to.

Burma – Did you know that only 0.2% of citizens have internet and only 1% of individuals have a cell phone?

Cambodia – Did you know they were under communist rule until the early 90’s – if you studied something other than Russian or Vietnamese you were thrown in prison.  Just over 30 years ago, a quarter of the population of the country was killed.  Killed for being educated, killed for having an opinion, killed for the sake of being killed.

The internet has changed our lives, for better or worse.  With social media thousands of people around the world can hear your thoughts and opinions within seconds. Your words have a lasting impact on people near and far. I know we have differing opinions, beliefs, priorities and desires, but would it be too much to ask to just stop and think before your next rant online. Let’s go back to being thankful, thankful for being born in a country that provides us with more freedoms than most of the world could even imagine. Let’s be thankful for democracy, even with it’s imperfections. Let’s be thankful for the right to vote and be heard. Let’s be thankful for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Or, don’t. Complain, rant, insult, be hateful, bitter and ungrateful. That works too. Because you have freedom of speech and can say whatever you want.


2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

1999 Taiwan

At 1:47am on September 21st 1999, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan.  It killed over 2,400 people, injured over 11,000 and caused over US $10 billion in damages.

Why am I telling you about something that happened in Taiwan over 10 years ago when there are so many natural disasters striking other parts of the world on a regular basis (for instance the huge earthquake that just hit Turkey a couple days ago)?  When I was in Taiwan, I visited Jiji, a small town in Nantou province which was the epicenter of the earthquake.  Twelve years later of course, you don’t see the destruction the earthquake caused.  However, Jiji still has one reminder of the powerful earthquake.

The town has left one building, a temple, in the condition that it was in after the quake.  If you have never seen the power of mother nature it is quite the sight to see.

The town is building a new temple which is not yet completed, in a site right next to the old temple.  This is the new temple – and apparently the old temple was just as tall (about 3 stories).

May and me in front of the new temple

Behind it is the old temple.

The three stories of the old temple basically just collapsed onto the first floor.

The temple crushed by the earthquake.

You can walk all the way around the temple, see how the building fell and also the cables and ropes that have been added to keep the temple from continuing to fall apart.

Notice the concrete columns essentially broken in half

When you walk around the back of the temple, it is amazing to see up close the destruction from the strong force of the earthquake.  The concrete columns between the first and second floor of the temple have completely bent in half, as the top of the temple moved forward and collapsed down.

The concrete column between the first and second floor, crushed and the reinforcing (steel?) rods bent in half.

Another view - the second story - laying flat on top of the first story.

The statue in front of the temple

This is just one building that was affected by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck 8 kilometers underground.  I can’t fathom the original destruction caused by this quake, or the destruction caused by many of the recent quakes of an even larger scale.  This temple serves as a reminder that the destruction, loss and terror caused by mother nature doesn’t just go away with the news reports or when there is another story that hits the front page.  The disasters caused by mother nature can be indescribable, the healing and recovery can last for years.

My friend, Doug, who is living in Japan, wrote about this in his blog (http://www.dougbonham.com/) after he had the life changing opportunity to go volunteer with clean-up in Japan – six months after the tsunami.

Hot, Fat & Crowded

I know I have been posting mostly links to other articles lately (or not posting at all) instead of writing my own long detailed blogs.  But life is busy, not terribly exciting and I find other people’s rambling can at times be quite interesting and entertaining.  So today I will give you some more links to provide insight into my life (and the life of many others) in Shanghai – with my (rather extensive) commentary of course.  (And, yes, I am putting off my desperately needed study of the Chinese language just for your reading pleasure…)


I am hearing many complaints over facebook about the weather in Oregon this spring.  Apparently, it is a long cold spring with only a few days so far in 2011 even reaching above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The excessive rain has caused flood warnings, and there were cooler temperatures than there were in Alaska for Memorial Day weekend. (Link).

But we have had quite the opposite in China.  The spring was shorter than normal, the rain was minimal and the heat is coming on strong.  Despite the last week or two being relatively cool (relative to the 90-97 degree weather in the beginning of May), yesterday and today are in the 80’s and this summer is said to be a scorcher.  Plus – Shanghai has had the longest dry period it’s faced in the past 138 years!

“Rain, rain go away” was a common phrase when I was in Portland, but here I am delighted when I feel a drop or two of acid rain as I know it clears some of the muck from the skies.  Read about Shanghai’s lack of rain here: Link and notice the quote, “It is predicted that the city will face unusually high temperatures over the coming summer months, according to the report.”  Great… because I wasn’t already fearing the hot, muggy TYPICAL Shanghai summer.  Now, I get to experience the unusually hot Shanghai summer.

Not only will the summer temperatures be “unusually high” but so will the need for air conditioners.  Air conditioners that the city doesn’t have the capacity to generate electricity for, partially because of the effects the drought has had on hydro-power generation.  According to the Shanghai Municipal Electric Power Company, Shanghai could face shortages of up to 1.1 Gigawatts of electricity.  That is (by the way) almost 4% of the expected peak electricity demand for our little city of 23 million.  What do electricity shortages mean for the fine residents of Shanghai?  Well, most likely turning off air conditioners during those unusually hot summer days and department stores and factories my be suspending operations during peak times over the summer.  Shanghai’s situation though is said to be better than neighboring provinces who face even greater shortages.  Links: Preparing for Summer Power Shortages, Grid forecasts.


It is old news that China has surpassed Japan and is now the second largest economy in the world following the United States; and it is speculated China will in the coming years be a threat to the United States’ first position as economic superpower.  What may not be as commonly known, however, is the other area in which China is taking on America.  Obesity.  China has gone from a famine stricken third world country to having one of the highest obesity rates among children in the world.  In the past decade, obesity rates in Chinese children have increased by 24.4 percent.  WOW!  (Link)

Quite frankly, this doesn’t surprise me.  I had wondered about this myself.  Not only have I noticed an increase in my waistline – but I see the way these people eat.  Grease and sugar are abundant in almost everything available and Shanghai is (in my opinion) snack food heaven.  (The snack food section, candies, chips, crackers, cookies, nuts, dried fruit, etc., of my grocery store takes up probably a fourth of space allocated for food.) Not only are the infiltration of soft drinks and fast food restaurants padding the waistlines of children.  But they are constantly being fed – and they are not (as the article points out) constantly active.

At my school we have fat kids, and a lot of chubby kids.  A couple are cute & chubby – when they are 3-5 they can get away with being cute & chubby – others are just plain disgustingly fat.  And these are higher income families – not the low social economic status families the article talks about as having the highest obesity rates.  But I observe all the parents and grandparents at my school running into the classroom during the break to shove food down the throats of their children.  Kids always have snacks in class and getting them to put away their cookies, candy, ice creams, sugary soft drinks and chips at the end of the break is nearly impossible.  The grandmothers will stay in the classroom after the bell has rung holding a bottle for their grandbabies to take that last long swig of a drink, or shove the last bit of food into their kids mouth. It is as if they may starve to death in the next 40 minutes of class if they aren’t adequately fed as much as humanly possible during the break.

I have seen it on subways, grandmothers literally shoving food into 3 year old’s mouths.  Snack food. The child will close his mouth, shake his head and turn away, but grandma can always get a little more in there.

These foods – they must be healthy, right?  I don’t know, take a look at the nutritional facts.  Oh WAIT… in China, while there are nutritional facts listed on many products, they DO NOT list sugar.  They aren’t required to list it and they just don’t.  I struggled for the longest time trying to figure out how much sugar was in stuff – then I realized I can’t, because it isn’t listed.  Buy a bottle of Coke – it will tell you calories, sodium, protein and fat but there is no mention of sugar.  On ANYTHING.  My box of corn flakes which has the nutritional facts listed in 20 languages – does not list sugar.  Although, it is the second ingredient after corn.

Speaking of food…  Food scandals are daily news here.  I saw an article about cucumbers making people sick on BBC and I rolled my eyes, then I was surprised to read it wasn’t in China but in Germany.  The milk – we all heard about it years ago – and we are still hearing about it today.  Chemicals, melamine in milk, pigs fed supplements to increase their lean body weight which also happen to cause cancer, grocery stores changing the expiration dates on food to keep it on the shelf longer, watermelons randomly exploding in the fields because they are juiced up with some many growth hormones. (Link) Now, I chuckle as I read this latest bit of news: Restaurants Face Official Test of Food Additives.  I think the first sentence of the article sums up the irony quite nicely, “SHANGHAI Food and Drug Administration said today that it will carry out a citywide campaign to ban local restaurants from using prohibited additives…

Banning prohibited additives.  What an unusual and unique concept… you know, that might just work.  Who are we kidding??

The best thing about hot pot restaurants are the bars of sauces, oils and ingredients where you can create your own special sauce.  My favorite is the big bowl of white powder labeled monosodium glutamate.  Yum, yum!


I live in a country with over 1.3 billion people.

I live in a city with over 23 million people.

I live in a district (that in 2002) had 600,000 people and was said to be one of the most densely populated districts in the world.

I live in an apartment complex with around 15 buildings.

I live in a 31 story building with around 125 apartments.

Every day I ride on one of the busiest subway system in the world that carries well over a billion passengers per year.

Do I really need to tell you that it is crowded here?

Super Bowl Monday Links

First, thank you Will Hutchens for unknowingly letting me steal your idea to make a blog post of links.

If you missed it – the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25.  Where were you?  I was up at 7am Monday morning to watch it in CHINESE.  Super Bowl XLV

Oh and I didn’t get to see the commercials either, but I did check out and like these two on YouTube.  Unfortunately, it takes my computer (internet connection) about 5 minutes to process a 30 second commercial.   Finger Lick and The Force

All those Chinese New Year fireworks don’t always go off without a hitch.  Massive Hotel Fire

Don’t believe everything you read… Amazingly enough there is FAKE news in China.  Blacklist for Fake News

The breadth of social media provides benefits even in a censored third world county.  Did Sina Weibo users help find missing boy?

Skiing in Shanghai?  Yes, it is true – anything is possible in this city. Yinqixing

The best way to end a day on the slopes?  A nice cold micro-brew.   I will definitely be checking this place out*!  Boxing Cat Brewery

Another story of tragedy because of fireworks.  Saved this one for last as it may damper your mood.   Warning there are graphic images but it is a powerful & moving story.  He Changti

*Update since starting this post – I checked out Boxing Cat Brewery last night; it is GOOD.  Beer & food both get a double thumbs up in my book, despite being a bit spendy.

18 things you might not know about Shanghai (上海 shàng hǎi)

1.       Shanghai literally means “on the sea”.

2.       Shanghai is the 10th largest city in the world by metropolitan-area population, but the 1st largest city in the world by proper city limits. (“A city proper is a locality defined according to legal or political boundaries and an administratively recognized urban status that is usually characterized by some form of local government.”)

3.       Shanghai is located at 31°12′N 121°30′E.  Other cities on or near the 31N line of latitude include:  Waco & El Paso, Texas; Alexandria, Egypt; Marrakech, Morocco; Jerusalem, Israel; and Shimla, India.

4.       The average altitude of Shanghai is 4m (13ft) above sea level, the highest point is on Dajinshan Island at 103.4m (339ft).

5.       The city of Shanghai covers 2,448 square miles (or 6,340.5 square kilometers)

6.       Shanghai is divided into 16 districts and 3 counties. There are 205 towns, 9 townships, 99 subdistrict committees, 3,278 neighborhood committees and 2,935 villagers’ committees in the city.

7.       As of 2009 there were 1.3 billion passenger rides on Shanghai subway in a year – making it the 9th busiest metro system in the world.

8.       Eight (bā or 八) is a lucky number in China as it sounds similar to the word for “wealth” or “prosper”.

9.       Shanghai is home to the third tallest building in the world, the Shanghai World Financial Centre at 492 meters or 1,614.2 feet.  The world’s tallest structure is the 828 m (2,717 ft) tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Despite being the 3rd tallest, the Shanghai World Financial Centre does have the world’s tallest observation center in the world at 474 meters above the ground.

Julia at World's Tallest Observation Center

Shanghai World Financial Center (March 2010)


10.   Shanghai hosted the 2010 World Expo from May 1, 2010 to October 31, 2010 with Haibao as the mascot and a theme of “Better City, Better Life”.

11.   In 2007, the estimated GDP per capita in China was $5,700.  The same year, in Shanghai, the estimated GDP per capita was $18,400, ranking 6th in the country.  Suzhou (a neighboring city) ranks first with an estimated GDP per capita of $25,500.

12.   The new high-speed train between Shanghai and Beijing should open in 2011.  At a speed of 300 km/hour or 186mph, the train will cut the travel time between the two cities from 14 hours to 5 hours.  In a recent test run, the train reached 486 km/hour – a new world record.

13.   Shanghainese, the local dialect of Shanghai, sounds like Japanese and unlike mandarin has no tones.

14.   The permanent residents of Shanghai come from China’s 44 ethnic groups. The han nationality accounts for 99.53% of the total.


16.   This one gives me second thoughts:

In Shanghai:

  • There are on average 1874 hours of sunlight per year with an average of 5.1 hours of sunlight per day.
  • Shanghai’s climate receives an average of 1144 mm (45.0 in) of rainfall per year, or 95 mm (3.8 in) per month.

In Portland, OR:

  • There are on average 1953 hours of sunlight per year with an average of 5.4 hours of sunlight per day.
  • Portland, Oregon’s climate receives an average of 1074 mm (42.3 in) of rainfall per year, or 90 mm (3.5 in) per month.

17.   The cuisine in Shanghai tends to be a bit sweet and it is said they use more sugar in Shanghai than in any other part of China.

18.   The entire country of China operates on one time zone and they do not recognize daylight savings time – make sure you calculate correctly when trying to get ahold of me…  I will be 16 hours ahead (of the west coast) in the winter and 15 hours ahead in the summer!

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