Monthly Archives: May 2008

We Survived the Flood

I haven’t been posting much over the last two weeks because I’ve just been way too busy and way too stressed out with work. I have been preparing for a number of company events that are taking place next week and they’ve just taken up all my time (I even brought work home this weekend which I never do). Something happened yesterday that I do want to blog about — my apartment flooded!

It wasn’t Noah and the Ark, a pipe burst under our bathroom sink covering the bathroom, the kitchening and part of our master bedroom/living room in water. We only found out about it because the woman in the apartment below us (who doesn’t even seem to like my landlord) called my landlord to tell her that water was dripping down into their bathroom (that had been a problem before we moved in here a year ago). Our landlord called Winnie right away and then drove over from Pudong to check out the problem, arrange for the building management to fix the pipe and stayed to clean up. That was really great of her and it only took about an hour. Which really made my Friday and my weekend. Otherwise I would’ve just flipped out as I have been under a lot of self-induced stress lately.

Thankfully it didn’t damage much. We had to replace two powerstrips and the power cord for my five-year-old clunker of an HP laptop — we had a spare for it already and to be honest the old cord was pretty much broken. I also wrote off a pair of computer speakers that I don’t use anymore.

This got me thinking about my need to buy a new laptop and my building desire to dump HP and Windows OS for a Macbook Pro. But due to our upcoming trip to Canada, I’ve had to put that desire on hold for awhile. What I did though was clean up the old programs and everything else on the machine and it’s made a big difference. I can even write this blog much faster through a proxy. So I might be able to hold out buying that Macbook just a little bit longer — at least until I get to Canada.

Off to work and enjoy the rest of my weekend.

J.

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Today’s Earthquake: The Day China Entered the Twitter Era

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the earthquake that hit Sichuan today. It was so big that we even felt it in Shanghai.

When it happened I was sitting at my desk working on my computer. I felt a little dizzy and I thought it was just from some eating some bad food at lunch. Only when my colleagues rushed by saying in Shanghainese that something had happened did I know it wasn’t just me. Within a minute my Twitter Feed jumped to life with people asking if anyone else felt the earthquake in Beijing. It was then that I knew something was up. A few minutes later we evacuated the building.

But we were given the all clear 15 minutes later. When I got back to my desk I was able to follow everything on Twitter and answer questions from different colleagues as the people on my feed fed information on the earthquake from all over the country. And we were able to help each other and filter out rumours. People who had access to televisions were able to keep people like me, who were in offices and working, up-to-date with the latest developments.

I can really tell that Twitter is coming into it’s own in China. Today really proves it, especially since the Chinese media did not release news right away and there is very limited access to foreign news sources such as CNN — I’m lucky in in that I have a satellite dish that gives me foreign programs but it’s on the fritz at the moment. Twitter filled the gap for me today and thanks to crowd sourcing I think that it’s pretty accurate. Two articles on the situation can be found on Danwei and China Herald.

As much as I feel happy for the role that Twitter played in the event, I fill sorry for all those dead and injured in the quake. My heart and prayers go out to them.

J.

Update (May 17th 2008): I sent a note to Jesse Brown, the host of CBC Radio’s Search Engine about Twittering the earthquake. They featured me on their blog here and here.

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Filed under China Society, Cubicle/Nerd Culture, Music, Personal, Television

Something To Remember When You Return to Work Tomorrow: Safety

Note: I tried to post this last night, but I couldn’t because of technical glitches. After today’s earthquake the recommendations seem all that more important.

J.

I was really surprised this week when I received the latest issue of EuroBiz, the magazine of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, and read Bill Dodson’s column on workplace safety. I knew that workplace accidents happen in China, but not like this:

” Operators sometimes have to reach deep inside the machines, which should automatically stop when material is trapped inside them and needs to be pulled out. “Operators – with the blessing of the Chinese owner – would take the male sensor on one side of the machine and simply push it into the female sensor on the other side of the machine, effectively short-circuiting the safeties,” he said. “I told them they can’t do that; the makers of the machine made the system that way for a reason – to protect the workers.” Another Western manager told me how a young Chinese technician at a local factory had chosen to change out a product in testing without allowing the test cycle to finish. She had bypassed the safety mechanisms in order to save time switching out products under test. Sharp pincers that normally hold the product in place mistook her finger for the next product to be tested and splayed the finger open. Blood, by the telling, sprayed onto her and her co-worker, who watched the whole episode without comment and acted only when it was too late. “

Read the rest of Dodson’s article to see how you can prevent this from happening in your factories.

Dodson does a great job laying out ways to prevent this from happening through educating factory workers. But his piece also got me thinking about educating office workers about safety. I know you’re probably thinking about that episode in the third season of The Office where the warehouse guys tease Michael and the office team because they have to take safety training to prevent things like paper cuts. But thing like eye strain can have dangerous and painful effects — as someone with a visual impairment I’ve felt the effects. I’ve also seen that many people don’t treat these type of things seriously.

Thankfully China Daily has some easy tips that can save you a lot of pain later. Another tip that I like to follow is taking an Internet- and computer-free weekend and doing some offline activities. I just did that this weekend and I feel great and totally refreshed for Monday.

Hope you do too.

J.

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I Think My Dog Has a Shoe Fetish

It’s been almost a month since we got Roger and things are going well. Roger is a strong healthy puppy. He’s always full of energy. And I mean full of energy. He runs everywhere.

I also think he’s developed a bit of a shoe fetish as he is always caring shoes every chance he gets. Sometimes the shoes are even bigger than he is. Earlier tonight I found him with his head stuck in one of my dress shoes then he stole my socks and ran around the room and then he licked my feet. Right now he’s also trying to type on the computer will simultaniously climbing on the bed.

Okay, thankfully he’s stopped climbing now and is sitting with Winnie watching 27 Dresses while she massages him. It’s that part I like the most. As much as he drives me crazy he brings us a lot more love than trouble. And we love him for it.

J.

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China Visa Update

This week I attended an AmCham seminar on the new regulations for Chinese visas. I thought I’d share my notes with everyone so that you can all be informed about the new rules:

  • There are no changes to the Z (work) visa procedure. These visas are converted into work and residency permits inside China upon entrance into the country.
  • Currently people need to apply in their home countries for Chinese visas and cannot apply in Hong Kong (other third countries are currently okay at the moment including Macao). Only those with either HK work permits or HK ID can apply for visas in Hong Kong.
  • Visa processing takes longer so you need to be prepared and apply in advance.
  • For L (tourist) visas, you are required to have a copy of a hotel reservation a photocopy of a round-trip plan ticket.
  • For F (business) visas, you are required to apply at the consulate/embassy in your country of residence. The consulates/embassies are only issuing 30-day single or double-entry visas. The following are the required documents: original letter from the Chinese government ministry; Chinese hotel reservation; photocopy of return plane tickets.
  • F visas can be extended inside China only. If extended in Beijing they can only be extended to July 1st 2008. If extended in Shanghai, they can be extended for the standard 30 to 60 days and count as single entry (and supposedly beyond July 1st). Extensions take five working days and must be applied for in person.
  • For the letter from the Chinese government ministry (usually the local foreign affairs office), this must be applied for by a locally registered company such as a WOFE or domestic Chinese company in the city where the person applying for the F visa intends to visit. IE if the person intends to visit Shanghai, the letter must be applied for by a company in Shanghai.
  • Representative offices must apply through an agent such as FESCO to get the letter from the relevant ministry
  • Those people who are in China for longer than 90 days continually or more than 180 days in a calendar year should apply to be on a Z visa, which would be changed to a residency permit inside China.
  • F and L visas for senior managers can be changed to work and residence permits from inside China. Also all companies with capital over US$3 million can change F and L visas to work and residency permits for all employees. Representative offices also can’t apply directly for Z visas. They must apply for L or F visas and convert them to work and residency permits inside China.
  • These regulations will most like last after the Olympics. The government is really cracking down on F visa holders who are actually residents inside China as they are really residents here, and should therefore be on residency and work permits and be paying taxes.

I hope this clears things up for a lot of people. J. P.S. It’s the Labour Day holiday in China, so I’m not posting for this weekend. I may post a book review on Lost Laowai though so please check there.

Update: Rich at All Roads Lead to China just posted a story that it looks like some multi-entry F and L visas are being canceled. He says the information is third hand but it is something worth watching.

Update II (May 12, 2008): Student visas will not be extended during the Olympics. People of African nationalities also seem to be having problems getting visas.

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