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July 25, 2006

Thief !

In the recent hit movie "World without Thieves," the Andy Lau character and his girl friend effortlessly steal dozens of cell phones, to a background musical score, as their owners pray in front of a Buddhist temple.

I was remined of that scene two weeks ago, when a similar "artist" stole my cell phone. As I was sitting on the bus, riding to work, I happened to glance down at my cell phone holter and noticed that the phone was not there. Did I forget to take it from home? I hoped so. I suddenly had a vague recollection, though, of being bumped by someone. Could such a bump have been the occasion for a thief to grab my phone? As soon as I got to work, I called Terry and determined that I had not left the phone at home. Next, I dialed my own number. I got a message that the phone was shut off. I had watched this sequence with a friend who had his phone stolen. The first thing the thief does is turn it off, unilt he can install a new SIM card.

About this time, my memory sharpened. I recalled fighting my way onto the bus, in typicall China fashion. I recalled a big, young guy to my right, who bumped me side-to-side. I'm pretty sure that guy has my phone. Next, I reported the theft and got a replacement SIM card, keeping the same phone number, from the phone company and borrowed an extra phone from a colleague. I was back in business, without too much loss. My new SIM card still had the cash value that was on the old one, and I had taken the precaution of copying all my contacts' phone numbers onto my Palm Pilot. For my last few weeks in China, I am tying a bright green piece of twice to my phone at one end and my belt at the other end. It doesn't look good, but it is safe!

As for the thief, I am sure he is disappointed. My phone was an old, non-name brand model. If the thief had a charger (which he may not be able to find), he could sell it for no more than 100 rmb. The experience reminds me of my only similar (mis)adventure in China. Several months before we moved here, I made a short trip to make personal and business preparations. During a lunch in Suzhou with my friend and colleague, Liu Sheng, a thief stole my shoulder bag from the chair next to mine. In that case, the surely disappointed thief got two Chinese lanauge textbooks and a $100 camera. Liu Sheng, meanwhile, had important business documents and about $1000 in his bag, which the thief didn't target.

-- Norty

Posted by now at 01:41 PM

July 18, 2006

New restaurant in the neighborhood

We probably could have used this title during any of the 132 weeks we have lived in Nantong.

It seems that there is always some restaurant within a 20-minute walk of our apartment that is opening, closing, or just rennovating. Sadly, one of the recent changes was the destruction of the entire block of buildings that housed a Japanese-style habachi restaurant we used to eat at periodically.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I noticed a bright green sign over a small new fast-food restaurant on Xue Tian Nan Lu, just across the street from the main gate at the rear of our "xiao qu," or apartment compound. The resaurant looked well-lit and clean, and the sign announced (in Chinese, of course), "Open 24 Hours." The name is Da Wan Mian, which means "big bowl of noodles." It is part of a chain, though I don't know how many locations they have or where. Terry and I went for dinner last weekend, and the experience was great -- good food, good service, low price, clean environment, not too crowded. The speciality, as you might guess, is noodles, but they have other dishes as well. Four 16 rmb ($2), we got 2 big bowls of noodle soup with cooked green vegetables, a big plate of "su ji" (chicken-textured dofu), and a bottle of beer. We will have time for at least one more trip to Da Wan Mian before we leave.

If I were not embarking on a new career in academia, I think I would try to represent a restaurant like Da Wan Mian or Da Niang Shuijiao (the dumpling restuarant I've mentioned previously) in the United States.

-- Norty

Posted by now at 01:25 PM

Changes

This is the tenth year of my ten-year plan for changing careers, from business to academia.

We had initially planned to stay in China through the end of 2006, but we will instead return to the U.S. on August 8 (a "good luck" day -- double 8 -- in China). I have a half-time job as adjunct History lecturer at Morningside College in my hometown, Sioux City, Iowa. The location of the job was a surprise. I happened to be at the right place (that is, contact the right person) at the right time. The other viable option was piecing together a series of one-class adjunct jobs at various colleges and unviersities within a one-hour drive of Kansas City.

Discussions are in progress, but it appears that I will also continue working a few hours a day for Harlan, "telecommuiting" between Kansas City and Sioux City -- perhaps selling to customers in the Sioux City area. The teaching job is just what I need (along with the Ph.D. I should get by the end of the year) to fill out my curriculum vitae and energize my search for a full-time teaching job. There are only two negative things about the job. First, it is more likely that Terry will find a decent job in Kansas City, in which case we will live apart for a year. Second, if Morningside likes me and has a full-time opening, w will be conflicted, because Terry didn't like living in Sioux City the last time she did it. I've promised not to impose Sioux City on her, no matter what! Anyway, getting a full-time offer is a long-shot anywhere. It depends, first, on there being an opening; second, on beating out all the other candidates.

-- Norty

Posted by now at 12:17 PM