Dec 052009

Moving on out!

A lot has happened since last update.

I was more-or-less fired from my job at the end of October. Here us the summary. Lets just say the situation in the company was not good…I’m owed a lot of money and the company is behind paying salary by two months. A girl in my office resigned because of this and found a new job. Someone told the girl she was not allowed to resign, even though she did not receive her monthly salary of $285 for 2 of the 3 months she worked in the company…and she did not receive a copy of her contract when she requested it. I told the girl that I want her to stay, but if she leaves I can’t blame or stop her. Someone (a dumb-ass who works in the Shanghai office) told my boss that I “gave permission” for the girl to leave, and somehow I was responsible. So my now-former boss sent me a text message telling me I have to get the girl to come back. I refused. He then sent me a text-message demanding my resignation. Looking back, I should have told him to fire me. But hey… I have already been officially fired from jobs about 3 times in my life. I did not want to be fired again. Furthermore, my boss was having medical problems, facing an operation, and not in the country. So I don’t blame him for going crazy, but I’m not putting up with this crap anymore either. And I wanted to leave the company anyway.

So after this, during the month of November, I negotiated with a client to provide consulting services, while also negotiating and going to interviews for another job opportunity. Our current lease was up at the end of November, so we also searched for a new place to live. Our old apartment was getting too old, the landlord did not fix the hot water heater to make it more reliable. So we did not want to renew the lease. Furthermore, we wanted to move closer to the kids’ school. At the same time, I needed to start my own company so that my customer can pay me for the consulting services I was offering to it.

I saw about 15 apartments during November. We found an apartment in the first week of November which I liked. While negotiating with the landlord, the couch I was sitting on collapsed. The landlord said “Oh…you broke it! You are too big.” So that fell through. Then I looked at a lot more apartments, with different agents. I saw an apartment I liked, but it had only an electric water heater – that’s not acceptable because when the water runs out after taking a long shower, we have to wait a long time for new hot water. I told the agent that if the landlord agrees to put in a gas heater, I will rent the place. The next day, the agent called me to tell me that the landlord agrees to put in a gas heater, but could I pay the management fees (about $30 / month)? I agreed. On November 18th, I paid a deposit – 4000RMB, (about $600) to the agent, and I congratulated the agent on his ability to negotiate for the hot water heater. On November 22nd I went to pick up the key and found they installed another electric heater. I called the agent, who then told me that, in reality, I had actually asked for an electric heater.

I told the agent that I want my deposit back. The agent said that the money was given to the landlord. I called that landlord and explained what happened. The landlord said the agent asked about a gas heater, but the landlord refused, so the agent asked the landlord to put in another electric heater. I told the landlord that he should give back the deposit because I was cheated. The landlord said this is a problem between me and the agent. I tried talking to the agent. The agent said this was my fault…that the agent had told me that it was an electric heater. I called the landlord and told him to give back 3000 RMB and we will just walk away. He said that he is fine with the contract as it was and saw no reason to give anything back. Some more back and forth happened between me and the agent / me and the landlord. Then on Tuesday night, at 10:30PM, I called the landlord and said that I’m going to move in. “But on December 2, the EPA will come to the apartment to do a lot of testing, because I think there is a toxic gas coming from the furniture. And on December 3, I think that you will need to replace that big flat-screen TV, as I think its already broken. I think it may have fallen on the floor. And I notice the couch was ripped up…you need to replace that. Do you see where this is going, you fuck? You hired a company which cheated me and you are not fucking taking responsibility. But you didn’t just cheat me…you cheated my family. You cheated my sons. YOU CHEATED MY LITTLE SONS! [quite voice] And for that, sir,… you WILL pay. Do you understand the Mandarin I am saying? The agent said I did not communicate clearly I needs a gas heater… do you not understand this? You have cheated my sons and now I go to fucking war you mother fucker!”

I do think that I should get some therapy for my anger management issues. But hey…the anger sometimes works for me.

On November 25th, the agent gave me back 3000RMB. But now I had a problem… I needed to find a place and move out before the current lease was up, on November 30th. That night, we had Thanks Giving Dinner, with Haga’s traditional fusion Thanks Giving Tofu recipes. We were thankful for our beautiful children, our health, our family and friends, and for new beginnings.

On November 26 we went to a new agent, who is part of the property management organization of the complex we want to move to (where the kids’ kindergarden is located). They showed us a really nice apartment which we decided to take. The next day, they got back to us to say that the landlord does not want to rent out to a family with kids. But that day, we found a pretty good apartment, right behind the kindergarden. We singed a contract and moved out on November 30th.

Our new apartment, in LingLongWan, is… OK. On the plus side, its newer and much better insulated that the last apartment. We can turn on the heater and actually feel warm. The furnishings are comfortable. It has a good feel. The new landlords seem responsive. And its actually about $50/month cheaper than the last apartment (and we save more on school bus service for the kids, as now they walk to school) On the other hand, the master bathroom has a glass wall… I guess designer liked people watch him take a dump. Its smaller than the last place. The washing machine is a side-load design which cannot wash as many clothes. The TV, while usable, sort of sucks (it has a purple-streak down the side). The dressers
are smaller. The bathroom leaked from the ceiling because the bathroom upstairs leaked and that landlord didn’t fix it for
two days. And we found out that we are sharing the apartment with a mouse, who bore through a box of pizza on the table during the night. I guess these problems will be fixed soon and we will feel better after we unpack and get to relax a little.

On another topic, I have started Taikongren 太空人Consulting Company, Ltd. during the month of November. Getting that started was not a small amount of work, especially while looking for a new house. Taikongren Consulting Company has an office in Hong Kong, which is where the bank account is, but not the corporate HQ. (I will not write here where the real HQ is located), as well as a small home-office in Suzhou, Jiangsu province. For the next year, starting on December 1, my customer is paying Taikongren Consulting a very nice amount of money (which is taxed at 10%, as the China government assumes that payments to foreign companies in HK might be just tax shelters, so China puts a “transfer tax” on the payment). For that money, Taikongren Consulting is sending their top consultant, a Mr. Jesse Covner, to go to their factory every morning and help them do three things; 1) introduce a leadership competency-based performance management system, 2) be the Change Management Manager and suggest where they can make improvements to their organizations, and 3) lead their SAP implementation team. For those who don’t know, SAP is a form of Enterprise Resource Management software…think of it as the software management system of a company. I have a supervisor who actually does all the hard detail work of this job. My contribution is to be more like the “bad cop” and push department managers and other higher-ups into cooperating with the team. The GM of my client’s organization – a very cool and smart European man – wanted someone who was a little more aggressive and seemingly un-stable to work in this position…someone who could get people to move a little quicker. It’s so far a very fun job. I’m learning a lot. Only downsides are a) it will last for a year, at most, and I don’t know what I will do next, and b) I have to get onto the company bus at 7:10 AM to get to the other side of town where the factory is.

Thanks all for now. Love and miss all my family and friends. Next post will be on Chanuka, in our new apartment (and maybe a review of the near-by Korean restaurant.)

 Posted by at 10:55 am
Nov 052009

On Wednesday was Kenaz’s Sport’s Day. Thursday was Akiva’s Sports Day. Lets make this clear… Sports Day is an event made for Chinese parents. On Sports Day, the kids do easy, pointless jumping-through-hoops games, while everyone listens to bad, loud pre-recorded music song by kids on Ritalin (or grown-ups pretending to be kids).

Akiva liked it. But Akiva likes playing with his friends. I don’t think they really play though. They just sort of bump into each other, grap each other, run around, jump up and down in place, then make Ultra-Man poses. Akiva is part of a group of four boys who were always at the back of the line, and always running off the line. He showed no respect for his teacher’s authority.

The children didn’t perform any flat-out races or real competitive activities. However, I’m pretty sure Akiva is the fastest and most athletic boy in the class.

The teachers kept calling “Attention!”. The slightly older kids would then put their hands at their sides and stand up straight, like soldiers. Some in Akiva’s class did this. Akiva remained a jelly-fish. Which is fine. I don’t want Akiva to learn the military style yet.

Kenaz didn’t do anything. He was turned off by all the people and the noise. He didn’t cry like some kids. But he would not do any activity. The class Aiyi held his hand most of the time. Kenaz knows how to work the grown-ups.

In other news, Akiva’s front-bottom teeth fell out.

 Posted by at 8:13 pm
Oct 292009

So I, Haga wanted Jesse to be like Eric from True Blood. Instead He were a zombie from rice farm (Jesse has a gag reflection. he couldn’t put fake rubber teeth into his mouth).

 Posted by at 8:12 pm

The Assignment, #1

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Oct 042009

Haga got a gig in Italy for 7 days, translating for some Japanese business types. I’m here with the kids. Which is very good in theory. But I have never been 2 days just with them. Kenaz does not like to eat with anyone but Mom and does not let me wipe his butt (and so will avoid pooping when mom is not around). This is going to be the most difficult job ever.

I don’t have twitter and don’t believe in micro-blogging. But below is what has happended, in trendy mirco-blogging format:

Oct. 3rd,
21:30 Haga leaves to go to Itally.
Oct. 4th,
07:30 Kids wake up. I prepare bottle. Too sleepy to do anything productive, I let them watch TV.
8:00 pop two anitbiotics, a tylanol, a decongestant, and a vitamin
08:30 Take them outside. Time Akiva running laps around courtyard. Then have Kenaz walk up and down 7 flights of stairs.
9:15 go to toy-store. All the toys are expensive. The kids no longer like Transformers…the like Kanen Rider and Ben 10. I take them to another toy store
10:30 I have raging sinus headache. See Ultraman Dyna toys at half off. Score.
11:00 Take kids to Starbucks to play. I get a coffee and 20 minutes rest

The Starbucks Playground

11:30 Burgerking. Kenaz eats 2 chicken McNuggets. Akiva feeds him some of his hamburger and Kenaz eats it.
12:30 Reverse-track the entire mall, arrive at playground. They practice climbing for 30 minutes
2:00 Nap time
3:40 try to wake them up. They wont get up. Put Star Wars Clone Wars on TV. They wake up.
5:00 Go outside to play
6:00 Walk to favorite Chinese restaurant. Its packed. Continue walking to Potsticker restaurant. There Kenaz eats 1 hard boiled eggs and a soy-milk drink. Akiva and I eat equal amount: 2 plates of potstickers and 1 soy milk drink
8:00 Return home after detour to park. Watch “Laputa” on TV. Akiva likes it alot.
10:00 in bed, lights out

Oct. 5th.
06:30 Akiva wakes us all up. I’m supposed to be active and play. But I let them watch 1 episode Clone Wars
7:30 Eat cake breakfast
8:30 I realize what i need is a girl. We go over to Gugu’s house. I invite her to go with us to the Suzhou Youth Activity Center. Gugu’s mother looks at me and says “you know…the three of them are very naughty…how will you take care of them?” I reply that the strategy is to get Akiva and Gugu to play together, so Kenaz will be left alone.
9:45 Arive at activity center. We just miss the robot show. We go in. lots of computer simulations, like a car simulation with a car. tug-o-war simulation. Rifle shooting sim with real-ish rifles (too heavy for the kids). The kids love it all. But I feel that most of the exhibits are broken. We toss a bowling ball on the left side and the screen shows it go down the right. Rifle registers a foot off the target. The canoe exhibit goes by some weird different physics model. etc. Kids like it all. Too many people cutting in line for the car and snow-mobile sim.
10:50 Time to line up to get in the robot exhibit.
10:58 instead of going by who lined up first, MC passes out numbered cards. I get one. 2 girls are hurt by other mothers pushing in to grab a card
11:00 The four of us go in to the exhibit to a control station. There are earphones, but they’re not working. I can tell that there are two levers and a button; left-right, raise arm up/down, fire.
11:15 there were technical difficulties. The MC kept coming to our station like we broke something. Its clear the computer control system for the whole exhibit is bugged and re-booted.
11:20 There is a steal ball that comes our of the daddy robot and is supposed to roll down a twisting track into an spherical receptical. I don’t know what this is supposed to symbolize. But it jumps the track and falls on the floor. The MC has no comment.
11:30 The “show” ended. Akiva asks what’s wrong with the robots. I say that they were not made in Japan.
11:40 We make our way to the botanical garden (next to the activity center). Gugu spots an inflatable playground and we go inside.

12:00 I rally the kid to go to lunch. The kids are hot. Akiva teases Kenaz. Kenaz jumps Akiva, knocks him to the ground, and starts hitting Akiva’s face. Akiva laughs, further infuriating Kenaz.
12:15 I get the kids settled down
13:00 We arrive at Dongwu Noodles. Akiva eats a bowl of noodles. Kenaz eats 1.5 plates of wheat glutton balls soaked in oil.

Two boys and a girl

13:45 Return to Gugu’s house. The kids play there and I go back home to do dishes
14:30 Retrieve Kenaz. Take him home for nap
17:30 Eat cheese and crackers, cake and grapes with Kenaz. Kenaz eats some cake and a little cheese.
18:30 go out with Kenaz to get Ice-cream. Take long walk through park. I ate too many grapes and have the runs.
20:00 retrieve Akiva and go home. We watch “Tron”. The kids like it, but don’t get it.
21:30 Kids in bed and fall fast asleep.

Oct 6:
08:30 Kids wake up. Drink milk.
10:00 Go to Zhu Aiyi’s house. We watch re-runs of the 10/1 National Day parade. Too much Hu Jintao…not enough People’s Liberation Army women-in-red-skirt-with-rifle troops.
11:00 Eat famous Yangcheng Lake crab, and alot of other stuff with Aiyi and various relatives. Aiyi feeds Kenaz a lot of food, as well as peels a bunch of shrimp for Akiva
12:30 I return home to get a worker into the appartment to fix the toilet. Zhu Aiyi takes care of kids.
16:00 I return to Zhu Aiyi’s house. Watch more 10/1 day re-runs.
17:00 Dinner. Eat more crab, cashew nuts, shrimp, etc. The kids eat a little, but I know they ate a lot already.
19:00 return home. Kids are tired…didn’t take nap. They play but lack energy
21:00 shower
21:30 In bed

Problem is, I’ve never had the kids for

 Posted by at 5:08 pm

60th Anniversary of China

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Oct 012009

We have 8 days of holiday to celebrate 60 years’ China national day. We went to park to take a picture in front of the holiday monument,
then we went to a newly opened Walmart shopping mall five minutes walking distance from our apartment complex. The shopping mall is pretty much like American mall. We have a Starbucks, Sephora, ZARA, QuickSilver, a bunch of good clothing stores and BurgerKing. I am so excited!!! I cannot wait to go back there again without boys.Boys had to carry bamboo sticks. And I had to save the sticks and carry them at the mall(you know, none of the store clerks took me seriously. A mom with bamboos).

 Posted by at 4:23 pm

Happy Birthday Kenaz!

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Sep 292009

Kenaz’s 3 years old birthday party at his class.

Kenaz with his birthday present

 Posted by at 8:02 pm

September, New Semester…

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Sep 132009

Our morning glory is brooming.
Kenaz is at his class.
Kenaz loves to meet up with Akiva at kindergarten.

 Posted by at 8:42 am
Aug 302009

Summer is almost at its end. It was actually cool today, although I suspect in the next two months there will still be more hot hot days ahead.

On Tuesday Kenaz will start school. We’ll post about how that goes. I’m worried. Kenaz (like myself and Akiva) is rather anti-social. And he’s a little baby. So I’m more worried about him going to school. On the other hand, his teacher will be the same teacher Akiva had last year, and we like her.

Kenaz has learned how to doggy paddle and roller-skate. Akiva can now roller skate and his freestyle swim is pretty good ( can’t get him to breath on the side yet though)

In other news, we have expanded our noodle repertoire to include Taiwanese-style street noodles. Usually 10RMB a bowl, served in the Taiwanese restuarant in Times Square shopping mall, and in the Taiwanese restaurant near Papa John’s on Xingdu Rd. and Suhui Rd. (苏惠路和星都街). Pretty good but a little too much pork flavor for my taste. However, I like the shaved-ice and bean desert which we get after the meal.

 Posted by at 3:23 pm
Aug 212009

Jesse and I had a beautiful wedding at temple in San Diego on August 8th, 1999. I was very sick a week before my big day. I had a fever yet I had to finish making my wedding gown (I used my grandma’s silk kimono). When Jesse had a bachelor party in San Diego, I was a tour leader and drove my families from LA to Las Vegas. I was still very sick. Jesse gave me some medicines which made me dry and super drowsy. I am so glad I didn’t become a tragic bride(I have no memory how to get to Las Vegas).

During our wedding ceremony, I couldn’t stop coughing. I held into my cough and slowly let my cough go from my nose which made me tears and made some guest cry. After the beautiful ceremony by Robbie, I was a bride driver. I had to put my families into a van and drove to my reception at beach side hotel. I didn’t have a make up artist nor hair stylist. I did all by my self. I rushed into a bathroom and checked my self. My hair was messy and my mascara made me looked like a panda, yet I was young, skinny and very beautiful.

It’s been 10 years. Jesse was looking forward to do something special at our anniversary. He wanted to make up for our honey moon which we never happened(we took my parents to redwood forest mountain in Santa Cruz after our wedding). However 3 days before our anniversary, my mom called me and wanted to visit us in Suzhou. It was so great to see my families again in abroad to create the similar situation we had 10 years ago. Yes, I had to be a tour leader again (at least I wasn’t sick) but nothing can replace the joy of family. Akiva, Kenaz and Hiromi’s daughter Shihori and Nahoko draw a big poster to celebrate our anniversary.

Smile in front of the poster

 Posted by at 7:46 pm

Our Summer

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Jul 262009

It is simply hot and humid.
We all had a hair cut.
We don’t have any summer plan yet. We go out and catch butterflies.
Akiva is learning very quick how to Inline Skat.
Kenaz is learning how to swim.
Akiva made a fried with a older kid and now he is much better jump into water and dive in deep side of swimming pool where he cannot reach his feet on the bottom.

 Posted by at 12:39 pm