Foreigners In China Find It Annoying When
Saturday — March 21st, 2015

Foreigners In China Find It Annoying When

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From MandMX’s Instagram and Twitter: Hourglass in Chinese, Books, Our 2y/o’s gift to us and our 7y/o joining the army?

A perfect toy to for our 2y/o. An hourglass 沙漏 Sha1Lou4 or literally sand leak. She was hooked for minutes.


What MX and I have been studying lately. Math and philosophy.


Tea cups as far as the eye can see.


Our 7y/o’s school creation. It’s supposed to say: “吃饱了 I’m full.”


It says: I am a scientist. 我是科学家。 The line with the cartoon is mine, the line underneath is our 7y/o’s. Pretty good huh?


2014年圣诞快乐 a Christmas gift from our 2y/o to us. 10 days late… and the tree is her foot!!

20 Books I Read in 2014: China, Comics, Economics and Flies?

Last Christmas, I read an article on speed reading and decided that my personal new year’s resolution for 2014 would be to read.  My attainable, reachable and realistic goal was to read 12 books.


My speed reading needs help though and I found myself breaking many rules.  But Oh! the books I’ve read.


I’m not writing this to brag.  I’m writing this to inspire.  Everyone should be reading, needs to be reading and can read.  I think the majority of the days this year I read about 10-20 minutes per day.  That’s doable for anyone.


Here are the official 20 that I finished this year.  I also read many articles across the web and many books to my kids but those are not included.  I’ve also done some audio books but those were slow going this year.  I’m almost done with one: The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right which is truly amazing!  There’s a book I started on Christmas day 2014 which I couldn’t finish in time for number 21 which is I Will Teach You To Be Rich which is another amazing book that I’ve already taken advice though I’m not done yet.
Also please note, #12 and #17 inspired comics that are on this site too!


1.  Started on 12.24.2013 The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek which I got at the library and finished on 1.10.2014 320 pages in 18 days!

I had always wanted to read this since I’m a big fan of Cafe Hayek, a great website commenting on all things Hayekian.  My only comment on this book: Scary that it was written in the 1940s. Seems like it was written last week.

2.  Started on 1.8.2014 Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy by JOHN DeFRANCIS which is my own book and finished on 12/27/2014 343 pages in 353 days

Heavy content but ultimately rewarding on having finished it.  Constantly thought, I want to read this again!  Good thing I own it.

3.   Started on 1.10.2014 The Ultimate Resource JULIAN L. SIMON which I got at the library and finished on 2.7.2014 432 pages in 29 days.

One of the most memorable this year.  This book will turn your world upside down.  A must read for EVERYONE!  Especially Al Gore.

4.  Started on 2.9.2014 American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China by Matthew Polly which I got at the library and finished on 3.29.2014 361 pages in 49 days.

This book was even better after I met the author!  He really is amazing!

5.  Started on 2.11.2014 Socrates’ Way: Seven Keys to Using Your Mind to the Utmost by Ronald Gross which I got at the library and finished on  3.3.2014  304 pages in 21 days  

Don’t remember who or what recommended this book, but I now recommend it to you all.  What a great book also accessible to all.

6.  Started on 3.4.2014 The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: and Other Writings  by Max Weber which is my own book and finished on 10/17/2014 339 pages in 227 days.

During my Master’s Degree, I kept hearing about the Weberian world.  So I finally read this book which was really a great work of everything I’m interested in (except comics!)

7.  Started on  3.7.2014  The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin which I got at the library and finished on 4.3.2014  264 pages in 27 days

I got into TIM FERRIS this year (see number 12) who recommended this book.  I learned why I never got into chess.  This kind of book I would have put down bored but something kept pushing me to read more.

8.  Started on 4.8.2014 Mr. China: A Memoir by Tim Clissold which is my own book and finished on 5/20/2014  262 pages in 42 days.

A thoroughly wonderful book which also combines many things I’m interested in.  Some stories are truly unbelievable.

9.  Started back in 2013 Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics by Henry Hazlitt which was a library discard (free!) and finished on May 5, 2014 218 pages in too many days!

It might be one lesson but many chapters.  This is the one I didn’t want to go too fast on since every chapter was great.  Thankfully I own the book (a library discard which says something about that library!) and it’s been amazingly rebound!

10.  Started on 5.5.2014 Lord of the Flies  by William Golding which is my own book and finished on 5.31.2014 202 pages in 26 days

A school assignment for my students but I never read when I was in school (not because I was a slacker but because it was never assigned.)  Thoroughly enjoyed it and now I know why it’s a classic.

11.  Started on 5.21.2014 The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History by Tom Woods which I got at the library and finished on 6.3.2014 246 pages in 13 days

As you can see from the amount of pages this book has and the few days it took me to read it, OH MY what a great book.  So much of what we’ve learned in school is wrong.

12.  Started on 5.23.2014 The Contest of the Century: The New Era of Competition with China–and How America Can Win by Geoff Dyer which I got at the library and finished on  July 28 2014 21 days where I didn’t read due to a summer job altogether 320 pages in 45 days.

Spurred on by my Master’s Degree (East Asian Studies) I have to keep up with the content.  This was a great book where I learned a ton!  Great writing and great concepts.  I was inspired to do this BOOK REVIEW comic about this book.

13.  Started on 6.3.2014 The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferris which I got at the library and finished on July 15, 2014 411 pages in 42 days

Finally read Ferris’s tome.  I got it from the library so it was a bit outdated.  But still very informative and useful.

14.  Started on 7.28.2014 In Other Words: The Science And Psychology Of Second-language Acquisition by Ellen Bialystok and Kenji Hakuta which I got at the library and finished on  8/31/2014 219 pages in 34 days

Summer Reading!  I slogged through this book while getting paid for summer school.  Great information I was able to share with my ESL students in September.

15.  Started on 9/1/2014 Free to Choose by Milton Friedman 297 pages which is my own book and finished on 10/15/2014 368 pages in 44 days

Again, one of the many Economics book I wanted to read.  Friedman is amazing on video AND in print.  So much of this book is so right.

16.  Started on 9/30/2014 The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie which I got from school and finished on 10/24 230 pages in 24 days

Another school assignment book for students.  The character in the book is a cartoonist so it fit well with my interests.

17.  Started on 10.16.2014 Charles M. Schulz: Conversations (Conversations with Comic Artists) edited by M. Thomas Inge which is my own book and finished on 12/5/2014 275 pages in 50 days

I bought this book back in 2000.  Never had a chance to read it.  Thoroughly enjoyed it.  Take Away: There are almost 4 decades of animated PEANUTS films, not just the annual cartoon at Christmas.  Who knew?!   After reading this I was inspired to do this comic!

18.  Started on 11/3/2014 The Giver by Lois Lowry 180 pages which I got from school and finished on  11/15/2014 180 pages in 12 days

Another school assignment.  Skeptical at first.  But thoroughly enjoyed the book, the ideas and I’m looking forward to seeing the movie.

19.  Started on 11/3/2014 Chew On This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food by Eric Schlosser which I got at the library and finished on 11/25/2014 302 pages in 22 days.

Another school assignment for my 8th graders.  Eye-opening but economically frustrating and relied too much on government to change people which is scary.

20.  Started on 12/4/2014 Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Dao: Ancient Chinese Thought in Modern American Life by Sam Crane which I got at the library and finished on  12/25/2014 193 pages in 21 days

Enjoyable book but somehow the Daoist in me can’t imagine why the author would write the book since it would affect WAY in all of us.  Then again, would Daoists write books?

Have you read any of these?  Any suggestions for 2015?  Favorite authors?

From MandMX’s Instagram and Twitter: Our 2y/o’s 4 characteristics, recent reading, Christmas, Thanksgiving and “gloves!”

4 characteristics of our 2y/o in Chinese and English.

How do you say “star,” “Christmas tree” and “gift” in Chinese? Our 6y/o shows you.


Our 6y/o’s math turkey. Notice the color directions in Chinese.

Our 6y/o’s Thankful Turkey saying in Chinese what he’s thankful for.


We cheered when we got home from a long day at school to find 公公 had made fresh 混沌 wontons from scratch.


MandMX Instagram/Twitter: Textbook pages, Bilingual Article, Sucking Thumbs, Arnold in Chinglish, Doodles and an Easy Song Dynasty Poem

How do you say “DON’T SUCK YOUR THUMB” in Chinese?


Page from MX’s Chinese textbook. She is preparing to teach sports this week. Any favorites?


Drawn January 23, 2007. “哎呀,衣服掉到楼下去了!Ah ya, my clothes fell to the next floor.”


Cool Song poem we’ll try to all learn and teach our 6y/o and 2y/o. Seems pretty easy and useful.

China Book Review: The Contest of the Century by Geoff Dyer of the Financial Times

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Since December I’ve been a reading maniac. I studied a bit how to speed read and this year I’ve already read 7 books. My goal was to read 12 books this year, one per month. Not amazing, not shocking but an attainable goal none the less. I have quite diverse interests so each book is more and more interesting and unique.

When returning library books one day in my local library I happened upon the “NEW BOOK” shelf and one book caught my eye. The title appealed to my American nationalism even though I was sure after I read who the author was (a British man) it wouldn’t be that clear of a winner in this contest. The author, Geoff Dyer was somewhat difficult to look up online since there are other accomplished writers with his name but put together with his employer (Financial Times, the creme colored website) one can easily find his writings.

Flipping through the table of contents I found the topics to be right up my alley since I recently finished a Master’s degree in East Asian studies from the University of Leeds. I thought, “This would be a great book to read next but it’s probably not up to date.” Glancing at the copyright page I found that yes, indeed it was up to date, at least as up to date as books can be nowadays. Thanking the library gods who granted me such a forward thinking local library to purchase this book and have it displayed, I quickly took it out and started reading it.

The first part of the book about China’s naval expansion was truly fascinating. Mr. Dyer went into depth on the history, which I love, and the different areas of Southeast Asia that China is getting involved with. The WWII story of Ramree Island off of Burma, which I didn’t know anything about, fascinated many a friend and relative of mine after I relayed the story a number of times. If you don’t know about it I won’t ruin it here but any Hollywood people out there need to adapt that story into a real life horror movie!

The second part about China’s nationalism was also really an excited part. He seamlessly intertwines history with current events along with exclusive conversations with important people in China about these issues. Many times reading through those pages I had remembered reading something about a story online somewhere since I try to keep up with what is going on with China and the news. But the best part about it is he was able to not only inform me what the end result of those stories were but also put them in a larger context which was important.
1 Sentence Book Review Comic
Finally the third part of his book really challenged my geeky economic side. Over the years I’ve been learning more and more about economics and how countries in east Asia work economically and his explanations about China taking on the dollar was really eye-opening. That information about how Beijing won’t make the RenMinBi a world currency like the dollar is not exactly the kind of information many Americans know or would agree with. But his expertise in this area is reliable.

If you are a person like me who reads news about China and tries to keep up with the discussions going on, then you will love this book as it touches on all the most important issues going on in our world and in that corner of the world. Those issues are: history, economics, politics and nationalism.

Here are other links to reviews of his book and you can purchase his book by clicking on the picture above!

The Contest of the Century – review | Books | The Guardian:

Can China Win the Contest of the Century?: War on the Rocks

Review: The Contest of the Century – WSJ:

‘The Contest of the Century’, by Geoff Dyer –

Geoff Dyer: “The Contest Of The Century” | The Diane Rehm Show from WAMU and NPR:

Comic Explained: 5 Things Often Said During Chinese Immersion Summer Camp

Magnus shots2

Left side: Magnus trying to talk about birthdays. Top Right: Magnus saying "WELCOME" in Chinese! Bottom Right: Attempting to tell a story only using Chinese and drawing.


In July 2013 I had the privilege of working for the US Department of Defense in their Strategic Languages section and assisted others in teaching the future of America the Chinese language.  In other words, I worked at a Chinese Immersion Summer Camp for kids called StarTalk.  It was a blast and we did a comic recently about the experience that I thought might need some explanation.  So without further ado here is COMIC EXPLAINED: 5 Things Often Said During Chinese Immersion Summer Camp

1.  Can you speak English?

5 Things Often Said During Chinese Immersion Summer CampA

I heard this at the Chinese Immersion Summer Camp because I took the requirement seriously: Speak Chinese all the time.  On the second day of doing this, I had a couple kids ask me this question.  Deep in my mind I was really happy!  From time to time when meeting parents before or after classes I had to speak in English and the students were shocked to hear it.  The only drawback to this is that I didn’t really get to know the kids very well.  Lunch, a time to really connect, was just fun and games and nothing serious.  I could ask them all kinds of questions but only in Chinese and they wouldn’t understand.

2.  Where’s Confucius?  孔子在哪里?  Kǒngzǐ zài nǎlǐ?

5 Things Often Said During Chinese Immersion Summer CampB1

This was an idea that came from experience teaching Chinese in Middle School.  I used to do a “Where’s the Teacher” vignette in class every Tuesday where I would show my students a picture of me when I travelled around China and the map of China.  Finally after a couple weeks of doing the “Where’s the Teacher” activity, I found that without teaching “WHERE” in Chinese, the fun activity actually taught the students the new word.
At the summer camp there was a wooden figure of Confucius in our classroom and I started hiding it around the room for the students to find.  When they realized that Confucius was missing they alerted me and I would say over and over again “Where’s Confucius?!” until we found him.  Just another simple way to teach basic words!  (You can actually see the Confucius statue behind the clipboard in the picture!)

3.  My stomach is hungry.  肚子饿了. Dùzi èle.

5 Things Often Said During Chinese Immersion Summer CampC

During summer camp we had snack time and lunch.  This was the perfect opportunity to teach them this phrase.  The English doesn’t quite work, it should be “I’m hungry.” But that is the translation from Chinese.  Before we broke into the Chee-zits or popcorn I would hit my tummy and say this phrase a ton of times.  After a few days of this, the students would initiate this phrase meaning that they had gotten it!  (Yes, that is almost 50 lbs of popcorn!  JOKE!)

4.  Butterfly class line up!  蝴蝶班排队! Húdié bān páiduì!

5 Things Often Said During Chinese Immersion Summer CampD

At summer camp there has to be a way to control and categorize the students.  Much like cabins at a traditional sleep over summer camp, we had classes which had names.  I had the Butterfly class which initially did not inspire me since butterflies are just nice looking bugs.  But I quickly enjoyed the name since the characters are very complex and fun to write.  Also, the Chinese name of butterfly is fun to say and when you add “LINE UP” in Chinese, it ended up being one of the most common phrases I said during the 2 weeks of camp.

5.  Go pee. Wash hands. Girls here. Boys here.  小便. 洗手. 男的. 女的. Xiǎobiàn. xǐshǒu. nán de. nǚ de.

5 Things Often Said During Chinese Immersion Summer CampE

Bathrooms are vital for any summer camp.  At a Chinese Summer camp it is no exception.  We had to talk about this the first day.  The motions are simple, especially to “WASH HANDS” but I used a simple way to have the students ask me to go to the bathroom.  I used this when I taught in Middle school too.  I have the students put their hands up in the shape of a W and a C which means WATER CLOSET which is often used in China to mean bathroom.
For those who have taught in STARTALK and those interested here are a couple of links.
Video introducing the multi-language program from 2010
Article and video of a NYC high school partnering with StarTalk for a 6 week intensive immersion Chinese class!
OMG!美语 did a video on her recent visit to a NYC Startalk this summer!
Yes, even in Bangor, Maine they have Startalk Chinese!