Wet Markets and Postmodern Angst

Let us go, you and I. . . Let’s skitter past the complexities of my recent absence (as well as my current presence)—the AQI was a lovely, round 90 as I stepped off the plane during the tail end of the holiday break this Year of the Pig—factories were closed and traffic had vaporized into…

The Contract

Taking stock today of contracts—social, personal, and professional. Since this is a blog about China, I’ll stick with Chinese contracts or at least the ones that have to do with China. Forbes offers good advice to foreigners about verifying a Chinese contract—check the official ‘chops’ and look up business licenses—that sort of thing. If you’re a foreigner signing a contract in…

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream

To die, to sleep— No more—and by a sleep to say we end The heartache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to—‘tis a consummation Devoutly to be wished! All Shanghai expats have a favorite (and a less-than-favorite) cultural practice they can endlessly discuss – public pajama wearing, street food stalls, and bustling…

Little Soldiers: Big Questions

The education of children can be a controversial and emotional topic, especially for parents of children in the K-12 system. As a parent and teacher, I’ve been on both sides of the equation in the U.S. and China. For Westerners, teaching and parenting in a predominantly Chinese environment can intensify these emotions in disconcerting ways….

Tabletop Taboo

The close of 2017 brought an end to a turbulent year for dogs in the U.S. and Asia.  September was an especially beastly month, as Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump traded jabs back and forth. Kim compared Trump’s U.N. speech to the sound of a dog barking, and needled with a response to Trump’s…

The Nasty Bites: Looking Your Food in the Eye

“Cooking puts several kinds of distance between the brutal facts of the matter (dead animal for dinner) and the dining-room table set with crisp linens and polished silver.” –Michael Pollan, Cooked “ … the stew of meat that’s been cut into geometric cubes and rendered tender by long hours in the pot represents a deeper…

Squatting in Zion

I’ve squatted many times in and around Zion National Park. In fact, I’ve squatted my way all across the upper portion of the Colorado Basin, which encompasses most of southern Utah. Typically there was a tent in the distance or a backpack next to me. But on my next trip to Zion, I will apparently…

China In Relief

I write this week from Singapore, a city-state that legislates politeness; the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act made it illegal to incite hostility toward most religious groups, and vandalism can beget a caning. Moreover, Singapore fines citizens for jaywalking, importing gum, littering, urinating in public and spitting, misdemeanors that throw China sharply into relief. Singapore is…