Saturday, January 26, 2008


A couple of weeks back, I posted a video of Elijah launching himself off a couch onto a helpless stuffed bear below. The "Translate Elijah's Proclaimation" contest was difficult for all but one. Uncle Phil identified the correct translation which states, "BUZZ LIGHTYEAR....TO THE RESUCE!!!"

So, with that nifty insight comes a motherload of valuable prizes. First, it's a commerative blog posting dedicated to Phil and some of his feats of strength. You'll shiver as you take hold of the awesome power demonstrated in his bicep in the last still photo. And just wait until you behold the death-defying stunt work in the 2 video clips. Enjoy....from the edge of your seat. Second, he might get to take a stroll through some China memorabilia, selecting from that grand showcase some mighty fine prizes (remember when Wheel of Fortune winners were rewarded with an opportunity to spend their winnings by "buying" things from the rotating showcase? "Pat, I'll take the grandfather clock for $1900, the recliner for $750, and.....).

Without further adieu,

The Ode to Phil.

Now, who's first in line to win our next Bowman Blog contest?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

English versus "Ch-english"

My friends at work joke that "ch-english" is their chinese version of english. It's english that is a work-in-progress from a Chinese person.

However, I have my own version of chenglish. Over the past year, I have completely adapted my english so that a chinese person can better understand it. I have failed to pick up much chinese language but the least I've done is to cater my english to their "style".

I've dropped the usage of some tenses, used words completely out of their correct context, and slowed down to a snail's pace. And this is the tip of the iceberg. For instance, I learned quickly that we Americans rely HEAVILY on cliches. Those were abandoned in months 4-5 in China.

Anyway, the funny part came last Friday. I conducted some formal training for about 30 colleagues. Since many were very immature English-speakers, there was a translator present that translated everything I said.

Despite the benefit of a translator, I still used my specialized "chenglish" skills for my training. After the training, on the way to our Chinese New Year's Party, aka, Kareoke marathon, I asked a good friend, Guo Zhixiang about the training. Since he speaks good english, I asked him, "So, did you listen to me or the translator?" His reply was that he solely listened to me. He obviously heard the translator, but since she doesn't know some technical words, he tended to focus on mine instead. His question followed, "Were you speaking regular english or special english for us?" I explained that my speech was tuned somewhat for my audience. He started to laugh loudly. So, the girl that walked out of the training and exclaimed, "OH MY GOSH! I CAN UNDERSTAND ENGLISH!!!!" is in for a surprise if she visits America anytime soon.

I got a kick out of the conversation and am glad that I've been able to develop a communication style that gets the message across. I am completely indebted to them for their work to understand my language.

Also, if you want to read a great book about China, check out Randy Alcorn's "Safely Home". You won't put it down until you finish it. I won't give you all the details here but it touches on life in China for a Christ-follower. It's unbelievable insight that you don't want to miss.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


It's been cold this week in Shanghai. We have had spitting snow sporadically over the last 5 days. And, yes, relative to Michigan, temps hanging around 32degF aren't bad. But,

when you don't turn on the heat in the building, it's cold inside. Last winter, they used the "ceiling mounted" heaters enough to get the temperature up to 66 or so by lunchtime. However, this year, they want to reduce operating costs. So, the heaters were not being used last week. The temperature, at my desk, upon arrival was 59degF. It topped out around 63 on the day. My winter coat became a new part of "business casual". I inquired about a larger keyboard so that I could wear my gloves.

Fortunately, Aimee got me some long underwear for Christmas. So, I busted those out this week. It was a whole new world of warm. I was so impressed with myself, that I told my 3 closest friends at work. Much to my dismay, Zhao Jianqing showed me his and these pieces of verbal shrapnel took the wind right out of my sails:

"I've been wearing mine for 4 weeks" ZJQ
"3 weeks for me" Chen Wei
"I began to wear mine 6 weeks ago" Ma Xifang

At that point, I unleashed my own verbal counterattack that began with, "WHY IN THE WORLD DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME WHAT KIND OF UNDERWEAR TO WEAR TO WORK?!??!"

Then, I went silent and returned to my seat and started checking my email. I overstepped the age old rule of office etiquette-- don't talk about our underwear.

Seriously, heat is a scarcely used resource in China because of the cost. Guo Zhixiang explained the other day on the way home that, his rented apartment temperature would be somewhere in the 40's that evening. He explained that he would spend the evening in his bed, under the covers. I've come to learn that this is common with many of my coworkers.

So, add this to the list of things you've been taking for granted in your life........heat.

I gotta drop a picture of Rachel. She likes oatmeal and rice but abhors apples, avocado, sweet potato, banana and the list goes on.....but we aren't giving up! We are in for the long haul.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Shanghai Railway Museum

Elijah and I visited the Shanghai Railway museum recently. The highlight was the big train outside. The remainder of the museum took approximately 9 minutes to meander through. The fact that I don't read Chinese sped things up significantly. That, combined with Elijah's fear of the wax mannequins sitting in a few of the exhibits.

Another highlight included a visit to McDonald's with a view of a downtown intersection.
McDonald's delivers here in Shanghai. Soggy, cold fries anyone?
I can get Elijah to eat when I ration his pop.
We also took 2 taxi rides this day which was also a big hit with Elijah although he would have preferred the "blue" taxi over the "green" one we took both times. We also visited a Chinese Christian bookstore and picked up a chinese-version Purpose Driven Life and Mere Christianity for colleagues at work.

Catch you later.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Haircuts in Shanghai

No matter where you are living in Shanghai, you are close to a bunch of people. And with that comes all the things people need, like a barbar shop. There are at least 6 barber shops within a 5 minute WALK of our home. Until this particular day, the kids had gone to a special shop that was higher priced. It also required them to drive there. I've been going to a local, lower cost shop for a several months now.

So, on a recent Saturday I walked the kids over to this place. The plan was for all of us to get haircuts. The employees at the shop do not speak English but haircutting is not a real complicated deal. I took pictures of my head to convey my wants. (Taken after my last haircut in the USA). With the haircuts, a shampoo and rinse comes standard. Anna thought this was great. Perhaps I should not have introduced her to this type of pampering at this early age. It's all downhill from here.

We passed on the shampoo for Elijah although he did get a rinse after his cut. And since I was "in the seat" as Elijah wandered to the back of the shop to the recliner and sink combo, I had Anna tag along to show him the ropes.

They did great, especially after a second employee came to assist Elijah's cut by holding his bobblehead still.

And we spent $10 for the 3 of us. Chinese nationals typically between 1 and 2 dollars for their haircuts. You figure with the competition of 5 to 7 other shops in the immediate area, your prices drop to pennies.

See ya.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Kayaking in Shanghai

Correct. This is not actually Shanghai. And certainly is not any of the Shanghai Bowman's. But we like the picture of a great white trailing a small kayak. You can read more about the photo here. Rumor is that the kayak was white before he turned around.