things go poorly
Six Zero here, with a very special edition of…
This feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlog
and beyond. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll get
to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light on
their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
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(Scroll down to the MGoProfile section of the User-Curated HOF).
SIX QUESTIONS WITH CREX
WARNING: If you are not well versed in the phenomenon known simply as the CRex Saga, drop whatever you are eating, holding, working on and/or breastfeeding and READ THIS IMMEDIATELY. Upon completion of the first tome, feel free to follow it up with subsequent entries of CRex and Koreans, the memorable CRex visits Mongolia, The Wedding Part I, The Wedding Part II, and the most recent CRex Does China.
In short, if you're a reader of MGoBlog and you don't know who CRex is and what he does... well then, you probably don't read MGoBlog enough. As the writer of possibly the most famous OT post in the history of the blog, CRex graciously chose to share his own personal adventures with all of us during the tumult and uncertainty of the 2010 transition between the Rodriguez and Hoke regimes.
But enough back story-- you know the guy tells a good story, and you can be assured he makes for an equally compelling interview. So sit back, my friends, and enjoy this exclusive interview with everyone's favorite Korean-loving Ginger CRex...
1. Few diarists at MGoBlog have had as loyal a readership as you. For a time, the drama of your relationship and life was simply must-read entertainment for the entire MGoBlog community. What originally moved you to share the story with the blog in the first place?
It's hard to pinpoint one specific reason, rather it was a number of them. While the surprise visit was stressful to say the least, I knew it was going to be one of those things that years later I'd look back on and laugh about. Writing it down provided me with a way to step back and pretend it was years later and laugh about it. I was able to do some venting and gain some perspective while the rest of the community got to have a laugh and some drama, so it was win-win. As for why I picked MGoBlog as opposed to some other venue, I figured that given most of that offseason's topics centered around our head coaching issues everyone would welcome a laugh. I was kind of fed up with some of the threads that kept picking at old wounds, so a chance to post something Michigan related that was humorous just seemed too good to pass up.
We’re all collectively grateful you did. When did you know that your simple tale had become the epic "CRex Saga," and how did it affect interactions in your real, non-virtual life? Have you ever been outed as the "infamous ginger CRex?"
I know M-Wolverine spotted me at a Michigan football game. Beyond that as far as I know I've never been outed in public, although I'm honestly not sure if I'd notice. I'm still surprised how many odd glances mixed race couples get in Ann Arbor, so I just tend to assume that people who are staring at me are looking for that reason as opposed to any form of recognition. For me, since I work for the university and am surrounded by coworkers who read MGoBlog, a lot of my focus is making sure they don't out me. That means I creatively edit dates a little so they can't line up my vacations to the stories and things like that. Also I have to keep a straight face when someone sends me the link or calls me over because a new installment of the C-Rex Saga went up and it is 'pretty good'. Or when I step into an office to talk to someone and see them commenting on an entry. I did tell one of my coworkers who also has a Korean wife who I am, but for the most part I keep it private. I normally hope someone has also posted a big stats-laden diary right before or after me so I can just tell people I was reading the latest by LSAClassof2000 or Mathlete, as opposed to wasting my time on that OT K-drama diary crap!
Also, for a time your wife's identity was compromised after the story broke. Obviously some candid details of her life and her interaction with family were really put out there for our enjoyment. How did she handle your ascension into MGo-Immortality, and what does she think of it now?
A couple of my wife's students did figure out her identity somehow which got me in some hot water and put an end to the stories for awhile. I didn't have to sleep on the couch, but she wasn't happy to say the least. That led to that infamous suspension of the stories where I had to go dark. Eventually we worked out a deal where I'd agree to alter certain facts and she was happy, especially once she graduated and moved on. Thankfully if her adviser reads MGoBlog he never connected her to the diaries or at least never said anything to her, because if he had, I'd have been found floating face down in the Huron River. Beyond that, my wife thinks we're all crazy. She can understand the excitement for gameday and how the blog gives us all ties back to Michigan, but the fact we do this kind of stuff 365 days a year is an alien concept to her.
Wives. They actually believe the world doesn’t revolve around Michigan football. Okay, now on behalf of all of MGoBlog, I feel it’s my journalistic duty to move on to a more pressing and paramount topic…
2. Little sister. Discuss.
Little Sister and one of her minions, err a friend, came over this year and we went on a road trip across America. That lead to enough material for at least one diary, but I've been slow in putting it together. My wife and I are in the process of relocation so my writing schedule has fallen behind and off topic season is now over. So that would move it back to the 2014 offseason. In larger scale news, the relocation likely means Lil Sister will not be a Michigan Wolverine, as with my wife and I leaving the area, my in-laws know better than to drop Lil Sis off in Ann Arbor without someone to monitor her. After all, she might come back with a white boyfriend or something. For all her trouble making, Lil Sis's test scores are outstanding and she's going to have her pick of the litter in terms of schools. Although her dreams to walk onto the Michigan Football team are likely over and it will be a major setback to the program, she had the potential to perform those "Crable Noooooooo" type hits and then just unleash the cute little girl smile so the ref would just pick the flag up.
We’ve got some pull with the staff—maybe Heiko can get her a tryout. You've since married your girlfriend and are linked forever with her South Korean family. You seemed to have won over the father on the initial trip, but things were dicey for awhile there with the mother. How are things with the in-laws now?
We're now firmly in the "Where the hell are the grandchildren? Make with the grandchildren already." stage. It was inevitable I suppose. The in-laws relationship really improved with the wedding as they could now explain their daughter was married to me as opposed to randomly living with some American dude, so that was a major step forward. I've also advanced my career enough that my mother in law can now brag about me to her exercise group, which was a bunch of old women who walked around the city park. The minute my income set the record for son in-law income within that group, my popularity skyrocketed. I'm now considered tall, handsome, and a perfect match based on the numbers I type into my 1040 form. Ironically, of course, my wife (who clears significantly more coin than me) is criticized for not contributing enough to the relationship by her parents (read: not having kids). I've debating trying to adopt Lil Sis and just pay for her college to get the parents to lay off the kid thing.
3. Since your ascension into MGoBlog lore, you've visited Mongolia, took part in the traditional Korean wedding, and had many other exciting adventures. We've watched you grow and evolve into a cosmopolitan man and a purveyor of multiple cultures both Eastern and Western. Did you ever see yourself growing up to be the man you are today? And if you'd never met your Korean wife, who would CRex be today?
Not at all, I was from a very white area of the country. Out of my high school graduating class of ~440, only 40 or so were non-white and just 3 Asians. My sole international experience had been a senior trip to Western Europe, which I considered a major culture shock at the time. I never had much of a desire to leave the country; my vacations were centered on visiting all 50 states and Canada. If I hadn't met my wife I'd likely own a house somewhere in Ann Arbor, have started a small business of some sort, and settled down. As for how it has changed me as a person, I came to Michigan right in the middle of the Affirmative Action lawsuits and my personal beliefs led me to favor admission based solely on scores over any kind of desire for diversity. Looking back now I can't imagine how boring it would have been to come to a college version of my mostly white high school. I wish I'd met my wife earlier and been able to experience more while on campus. If this had been High School 2.0, I'd just be a better educated version of my high school classmates who never went to college, never really went out into the world, and now, based on their Facebook posts, must be bored to tears half the time.
The other interesting, at least to me, question to ponder is if I'd be married. I was what you would call an underachiever with the girls in high school. I started out strong in 9th grade and made a name for myself when I obtained a prom invitation from an older girl. However, midway through my sophomore year I came to the conclusion that high school girls are incredibly boring and the bullshit you had to put up with was not commiserate with the benefits. During my junior year the principal actually called my parents to express his concerns I was gay, complete with an offer to invite me to his church where the gay could be prayed away. Much of my relationship works because what might sound like "Omg not this again, why does every girl whine about this?" to a Korean guy, doesn't even show up as a blip on my radar.
My view on Michigan's whole commitment to diversity has also changed. When I first came here, I tended to roll my eyes and mutter something about "PC Bullshit" whenever diversity came up. After meeting my wife and getting to know what she went through to obtain her PhD here, I'm honestly amazed at how bad Michigan is at supporting diversity. Michigan offers some intro classes to all international students and the support pretty much ends there aside from whatever the International Center can offer (and they're not always trustworthy sadly). Beyond that you need to hope your adviser or department is supportive; my wife's first adviser actually dropped her after telling her he only wanted to support her working on crunching for his numbers, but not contribute to theory because Asians are good at math but not new theories. Luckily one of her other committee members felt bad for her and supported her. When I first walked around campus I thought Asians were cliquish and didn't want to associate with Americans, but as it turns out much of that isn't necessarily a desire to be exclusive so much as a need to form social support groups with other people going through the same thing.
I've discovered how elements of Michigan bureaucracy simply don't bother to properly handle requests from Asian students because they assume Asian students aren't confrontational and don't know how to complain even if they want to. I actually managed to get someone fired after she repeatedly lied to my wife about sending out forms from the department my wife needed and had the audacity to lie about in repeated emails and when confronted directly. Of course, the moment the angry American-- who knows how to complain and who to complain to-- shows up, people suddenly get rather cooperative. It seems like every time I sit down for dinner with a group of international students, I'm amazed at how they don't know about a certain service offered by Michigan or channels to file complaints through, which I just took for granted. I could just rant on and on about this, but really at the end of the day when someone at Michigan starts talking about diversity, I roll my eyes for entirely different reasons now.
After reading the above, my wife did want me to add in that she really did enjoy her time at Michigan and how anyone who gets into Michigan is privileged with all the resources and status they're granted simply by attending Michigan. She holds no grudges and recommends Michigan to her friends. I also to admit that many levels of bureaucracy have been helpful in addressing in problems, but I tend to get my Irish temper worked up whenever someone starts preaching how great we are at diversity and supporting an international community, when really we have a long way to go.
To borrow from Wilber, your perspective borders on kosmocentric. Most of us have lived a considerably sheltered life in comparison to that of an international traveler like yourself. In your own words, CRex, tell us what the world is all about.
The world seems to come down to how people aren't that different, but the variations in culture can create seemingly great differences. Plus when you talk in language barriers, weird foods, and phenotype differences the world really starts to look like a crazy place. I've been amazed at how if you put me in with a group of non-Americans, I'll feel like in a group with a bunch of aliens, but if I spend time talking to each of them one on one, suddenly the differences aren't so severe. This can range from social norms, such as I do X to show respect to my parents, but someone else does Y to show respect to their elders. It seems different, but at the end of the day it really isn't, to the fact that some of my Korean friends grew up playing Street Fighter. That was always kind of a shock: two kids on opposite sides of the world, growing up in different culture systems, but we both have the combo for E Honda's Super Head Killer Ram programmed into our muscle memory.
Even so, though, individually nice people can come together or be forced together to form unpleasant organizations or societies with unpleasant cultural norms. There are a lot of countries out there that aren't lucky enough to be bordered by two large oceans and Canada, leaving them with only one border that leads to issues. You stand there at the Korean DMZ or the Sino-Viet Border (second heaviest fortified border in the world after the DMZ) and you realize the world is not a nice place and a lot of people are forced to make decisions that impact their survival everyday, not just in terms of personal survival and welfare, but in terms of how cold wars can turn hot. Not to mention how people in large groups do stupid things due to cultural norms or the fact that they're just dicks.
A lot of times when you travel, you find yourself confronted with both realities everyday. You'll see some amazing things and discover how some people have cultural practices and values that might be superior to your own, and sometimes you'll hop on the plane thinking "You know what America needs? More carrier battle groups and strategic bombers, lots more." End of the day you'll likely find yourself having a lot in common with many individuals and sometimes confused by how you can be so similar one on one but your cultural institutions differ so drastically from theirs.
4. Yeah, I feel the same way about New Jersey. Upon my first reading of the saga, I, in no uncertain terms, publicly suggested that you take your story and storytelling talents to Hollywood, perhaps to sell it as a screenplay, become a sitcom writer or something to that effect. (If anyone doubts my assessment of his writing prowess, just wait until you get to the perfect meal question below.) If they ever made a CRex movie, who would you want to play the title role?
Dave Chapelle, without a doubt. I might go as far as to have a rider in the project that it only happens if Chapelle can be secured for the role. He's perfect, he has Midwesterner roots and is in a mixed race marriage, so I think he'd have the perfect prescriptive to play the role. Of course he's retired and I'm not sure if he can ever be lured out, but I can dream. If this ever was turned into a movie, I'd see it being done Pulp Fiction style in terms of the scenes and I think Chapelle's history with sketches would play well there.
A Ginger Chapelle?? I'm game... can I be played by Charlie Murphy? You in fact were once a writer for the Review as well, and certainly have shown the chops for weaving an interesting tale. What other sort of writing do you do? Do you still write, or have any aspirations to in the future?
I come from a family of writers who made their money elsewhere, both my parents have English degrees but made their money in the construction industry. I've always enjoyed history and writing, but stayed in the computer field because that is where the money is. For awhile, when I had a World of Warcraft addiction, I used to write the lore for our guild, turning all the heroics and raids into epic tales and posting them on the forums. Now that I've broken that addiction, I write short stories now and then, some fantasy, some sci-fi, and some humorous modern. My goal—the one I keep failing at— is to produce say 100 pages worth of short stories with some kind of common theme and publish them as an E-Book. Right now I'm telling myself that after I'm settled at my new job I'm going to take one hour a day to write and edit. A lot of what I enjoy writing centers around world building, writing alternative history or building some future world. I think this comes out of my political science interests and how much I loved books like The Prince. I've honestly never really considering turning the C-Rex saga into something larger, I've never really had the personal belief it would play well outside of a Michigan crowd that had an automatic link to my writing simply because they loved the school and Ann Arbor.
5. Hey, man, believe in your craft-- you're a legend. So what do you do for a living?
I'm an automation programmer. I come into another environment and figure out their workflow. From there, my job is not simply to automate it but to analyze the workflow and challenge why X,Y, and Z are done instead of A,B, and C. After that we shape a new workflow and automate as much of it as possible (or as much as their budget allows). My career path focuses on doing this for large academic institutions since it will let me move around with my wife as she potentially relocates to different research centers. This is the kind of job where every time I think have some time to write, I end up getting some extra contracting work and shelving it.
And when you’re not contributing to the future autonomy of SkyNet, what do you like to do for fun?
Before I met my wife I was a huge gamer and was excited to have a partner who is also a gamer. However I've found it is rather depressing to play games with a girl who was competitively ranked in Korea for Starcraft. When we were playing Starcraft 3 v 1 (with her being 1) she was getting up and going to the kitchen for drinks, and still kicked all our asses. Currently we both play Kerbal Space Program, although considering her degree is in aerospace, her rocketry program is to mine as NASA is to North Korea. She's also accused me of not playing Kerbal Space Program but instead playing Kerbal Murder Simulator (I fry my Kerbals more frequently than Russia fried cosmonauts early on in their program).
My main hobbies are motorsports, target shooting/hunting, and kayaking. My big project right now is doing a modernization to a 1969 Pontiac Firebird, a modern LS7 V8 engine, heads up display, touch screen navigation, and all the goodies that will make old guys scream about how I butchered a classic. Of course I'll just crank up the sound system and blast K-Pop so I can't hear them. I'm still debating if I want a Screaming Chicken on the hood or a Hello Kitty. I think with the latter I'll be able to make Mustang owners swerve into bridge pillars and kill themselves out of shame when the Hello Kitty Pontiac pulls past them. Except when it’s just me in the pink Hello Kitty car and I'm cruising around with the top down, I assume AAPD will just drag me out of the car and beat the hell out of me on the grounds that I'm probably a pedophile. The engine mounts to get an LS7 into that car are a real pain though.
Sounds like a future entry into the odyssey of CRex. Describe the perfect meal.
On an island just south of mainland Vietnam. It's been hot all day, with only the sea breeze to break it up or the water. Now though the sun is going down and the storm clouds are rolling in. Off at the edge of the horizon it is pitch black and the wind is picking up, blowing your wife's hair all over her face. You can hear the surf pounding against the rocks as the tide comes in and the oncoming storm supplements it. The trees are starting to bend and you hear the occasional thud as a coconut is blown off the tree and lands on the ground. There is still some warmth in the air, but it is slowly being pushed out. You sit there on the patio as the lights come on, but every time there is a gust of wind they flicker. Dinner itself is simple, local beer, fresh grilled sea urchin with spring onion and oil, grilled calamari with salt and pepper, a bowl of pho. All the seafood is well seasoned with a clear French influence and fresh, a boat pulled into the hotel early in the day and delivered it. By the time pho comes out the rain is pounding against the patio and despite being less than 30 feet from the high tide line, you can't see the ocean, except for when the lighting flashes across the sky and you can see the the ocean with its wind whipped waves for just the briefest second as a frozen image before the darkness returns. You sit there with the pho and a second beer, sipping at the pho and marveling at the complexity of the broth, but really just staring out towards the ocean and waiting for that next flash of lighting and listening to that unseen surf pound against the shoreline. When dinner is done you linger on one of the worn old couches for a time before you need to run through the rain and back to your cottage.
In a word… perfect. I’ll never attempt to find this place or eat this meal, since reality could only taint the amazing image you’ve just painted in my mind’s eye.
6. Can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
I was raised to be one. My family has a long legacy of attending Michigan and from day one I grew up with Michigan gear and watching Michigan football on TV. My parents met here, my uncle met my aunt here, etc. The yearly family reunion was in Ann Arbor. There was never really any question where I was going to school and Michigan was the only application I sent out for college my senior year. If I didn't get in, I just would have worked for my father, polished up my volunteer work, and tried again in a year.
Hail. Finally, who’s your all-time favorite Wolverine?
I grew up watching Woodson on TV and if I could pick any Wolverine to have a second coming of, it would be Woodson without a doubt. That said, Marlin Jackon and Lamarr Woodley are tied for my favorite Wolverine. I watched both of them play in the flesh from the student second. The CMU game where Woodley sacked the QB, forced the fumble, and then got up to get into the scrum and retrieve the ball, the 2004 destruction of Stanton, when Sparty led by double digits, guns don't kill people, Lamarr Woodley does, etc. Same with Jackson, I lost count of how many times some WR thought he was open and signaled for the ball only to see it come flying out of his hands a second later when Marlin delivered the hit. I still remember that in 2004, when he was a senior, his side of the field was only targeted 14% of the time and they threw to that side, someone ran the risk of dying.
I must confess-- when the MGoProfile series originally began back in 1954 (that sounds about right?), the aura of CRex had already ascended and his name was on my original short list. In fact, if I recall correctly he was contacted for inclusion about this time of year-- but it was around the same time that some of the disclosure mentioned above was creeping into his everyday life and general happiness. So, in the interests of self-preservation and anonymity, CRex respectfully declined.
I don't know what it is about the guy-- we do share some common traits in our past and upbringing that we've discussed off the record-- but I get CRex. When I read his stuff, I feel like it's someone I actually know, or have known for some time. So perhaps that's what makes his posts so interesting-- I could read countless books about journeying to the inner confines of Asia, but reading a CRex post is more like hearing an old friend tell it from his point of view, a perspective I can relate to and understand. He's also got a sense of humor that keeps the story going regardless of its length-- these have got to be some of the consistently biggest posts on here, but they never hurt for page hits, up-votes, and approving comments.
Finally, CRex contacted me yesterday to express that he's been called on an unexpected business trip today. As such, he'll be unable to read and respond to your comments until later in the day, presumably once the workday is over. So go ahead and post as you always would, but know that it will not be until later in the evening that he'll be able to read and respond to them. Thanks and 22 DAYS until Michigan Football!!
To begin with, this is long, 5,400+ words long. It's also really as fun. Perhaps this is the day I jump the shark while trying to do something more serious. That said I wanted to write this simply because it shows a glimpse into the life of a Michigan grad student trying to perform research in an authoritarian state versus the life of someone who goes back to work for that state. I've opted not to break this up into multiple diary posts because I personally feel it's best read in one sitting, but to each their own of course. With that, I present C-Rex does China:
“That the front desk, the police are here and they’re coming up.” My wife and I were in rural China and our friend had come flying over to our hotel room. The friend, who shall be called Chai which of course is not her real name, is a Chinese national and a grad student at the University of Michigan. She was in China to study sex workers returning to rural areas, my wife and I were there to enjoy China’s unspoiled natural beauty, of which this there still plenty of, assuming you go to some near third world backwater province the CCP has yet to industrialize and blanket in smog. See it while it lasts folks.
We were in Guizhou province, one of the poorest provinces in China, since Chai was here to study migrant workers that returned home to their farming villages. Before I go on, I’ll just take a moment to explain household registration or hukou as they call it. Basically you can legally only live where ever your parents were born. Say your parents were both from Shanghai and you get a job in Beijing. You need to apply for a household registration in Beijing, which is similar to say being American and trying to become a resident of Canada. The catch is if you’re a white collar worker, it’s not a big deal normally and the company takes care of it, but if you’re a blue collar worker, it is next to impossible. This creates a class of migrant workers who are illegal immigrants in their own country. If you’re from a rural area and go to Beijing for a factory job or even just to collect garbage, it means you can’t own a home (and have to rent an apartment on the greymarket) or access many social services without paying a bribe first.
As a mostly poor rural province, Guizhou supplies a lot of migrant workers. Chai is working in Guizhou studying prostitutes who return to the province. Many village girls go to the city and end up as sex workers to support their family. During the harvest season they’ll return to the farms to help with the harvest and give their family money, which they claim they earned working in a factory or some other job. Some will eventually return to the village, settle down, and start a family. My friend is studying the public health risks involved in this, where the woman will transmit to a STD to her spouse or children due to poor public health education and lack of medical infrastructure. This has contributed to a rural AIDS problem (the Chinese government also knowingly distributed blood tainted with HIV in the late 1990s which also led to an outbreak).
We’d been to five villages, my wife and I seeing the sights, while Chai conducted her interviews with former sex workers. Things were tense though. In Hunan a farmer protesting government seizure of his land to build a road, had been killed when the Vice Mayor ran the farmer over with a steamroller. The authorities were thus sensitive to anything remotely resembling agitation in rural areas and asking questions about China’s terrible public health system is seen as agitation. Security had finally caught up with us it seemed.
“That’s okay, I’ll come over.” I just have my friend a smile and stepped across the hall to her room, flipping my prepaid flip phone open to text a friend in Shanghai “The fuzz is here.” A few minutes later a heavy hand knocking against the door and a voice said something in Mandarin, which I assume was something along the lines of “Police, open up.” I did just that, swinging the door open, a giant smile on my face. “Hi guys! What’s up?” The cops stared at me, I stared at them. They’d been expecting a female Chinese national they could haul off, but instead, boom, surprise white guy out of nowhere! “You fellows looking for Chai? She's taking a piss, what can I do you for?” I pronounced her well enough that the cops were able to catch that, but none of them spoke English, plus using non traditional English and slang helps further screw with their heads. As long as a kept that smile on my face they’d have no clue I what I was saying. As long as I smiled I could suggest they go insert their balls into a snowblower. Chai was actually in the bathroom purging her hard drive of interview notes (but not work worry, thanks to the miracle of the VPN there were copies safely back on her AFS space in Ann Arbor). One of the cops tried to push around me. I just gave him a push back out in the hall. “Hold it boys, don’t you need a warrant for this?” I kept the smile on my face to appear non threatening.
I should likely take a moment to explain the concept of police in China. I’ll talk about police a lot, but they’re not like American police. They’re closer to Ann Arbor’s Community Standards Officers or mall cops. Your average policeman is a poorly trained guy with a reflective vest, a walkie talkie, and a whistle. No gun, normally no baton, no pepper spray. They’re fairly harmless. In one incident a cop tried to stop a woman and she decided to run him over. He spent 5 km clinging to the hood of her Mercedes SLK before some cops and taxi drivers managed to box her in. In America of course the woman would have two bullets in her skull before the car made it into 3rd gear. It’s the People’s Armed Police and higher up Security Bureau guys that you need to worry about.
Basically dealing with foreigners was above the pay grade of these guys. The Chinese government happens to think that President Obama and Hillary Clinton sit around all day and wait for China to do something they could turn into an international incident. Wherever this is true or not is debatable, but basically it meant that to such low level cops had been told hands off the white folk and don’t go causing international incidents, or so my friend in Shanghai had sworn. This left us with a stand off. They wanted to get around me, all they could do is talk loudly in China, gesture and occasionally shove me. I’d just shove them right back and put one of them on his ass. I amused myself by switching over to Korea and appeared shocked when none of the cops could speak Korean.
Eventually the cops beat a bit of a retreat. Two remaining in the hall to monitor the situation, two other scurrying off to call in someone who spoke English and had the firepower to deal with a white guy. I bolted the door and got on the phone with my friend. “Just four local guys” I reported to him. “Yeah, well I made a call. The Security Bureau guys are already on their way from Guiyang on the train and at least one of them speaks some English. He’s not American educated though.”
What the comment about American education met their English wouldn’t be that good. Originally in China if you worked for the Security Bureau, military, or a couple other key departments you had to be educated in China and couldn’t go overseas (officially at least, there is always someone you can bribe in China). This was to prevent the CIA from recruiting students in America and to stop people from defecting. This led to most security officials being able to speak English in the sense they could pass a standardized test but nothing else. Many activists figured this out early on and started doing everything in English, as did many business people who were engaged in less than honest dealings. My friend in Shanghai was one of the new security officials who had been recruited after attending an American school and spending years talking with native English speakers.
He’d met us at the baggage carousels in Shanghai-Pudong airport, despite the fact the baggage carousels were still on the ‘secure’ side of the airport he was wandering around like he owned the place. Two of those mall security level cops were standing there with baggage carts. When our bags came out, he said something in Chinese and the cops grabbed our bags, loaded the carts, and pushed the carts for us. We breezed through immigration with our police escort. Rather than make our way through the queue, X-Ray scanner, and all that, we walked right through the center of the booths, an official appearing to stamp our passports without even checking the entry visas. When we stepped out of the terminal there was an Audi SUV parked right in front of the door, pulled up on the curb, a pair of cops standing there watching it. As our porter-officers loaded the vehicle, our friend started passing around the 100 RMB notes as tips (about 16 USD). Tipping our porters and the cops who watched his Audi.
Back behind the Audi were two sedans, a Mercedes and an Audi, also illegel parked, plus another Mercedes parked in the bus lane. What I learned was the plate you had on your car determines your social status. Similar to how we have municipal plates, every government agency (and the military) issues a plate whose leading characters and numbers mark the vehicle as owned by that agency. Everyone plates their personal vehicles with their work plates. The fact my friend’s plate mark him as belong to the Shanghai branch of the Security Bureau means he can hop off the car in the middle of a freeway and order the nearest police to watch his car until he gets back. If you can score a good plate it means rockstar parking and near immunity from traffic laws.
The damndest thing is everyone is open about this. For example as were sitting in traffic my friend pointed out a hot pink PT Cruiser with a giant Hello Kitty rear window decal whose plates marked it as belonging to China’s Strategic Missile Command (we’d call it Strategic Air Command in America). He said the driver was likely the mistress to some officer since PT Cruisers and Minis are popular mistress cars and no senior officer who had enough pull to get those plates would let his wife or kids be seen in anything less than an Audi A7.
Of course the highest level of car was the all black Mercedes (every window tinted) GLK that shot by us on the highway doing at least twice the legal limit. It had no plates. That’s when you’ve truly arrived in terms of political power, when license plates laws don’t even apply to you and you can drive like you’re playing Grand Theft Auto at home. Well at that point you likely have a personal driver, so you don’t drive, but you can yell at him to display greater flagrant disregard for traffic laws and public safety before you go back to managing your mistresses and taking bribes.
For Shanghai, and likely all of China, if you’re in the company of the politically connected, the entire experience is like people watched Martin Scorsese’s Casino and now they’re hell bent to recreate that in real life. After a day to allow for me to get over jetlag, my friend and his wife took us out for a night on the town. Only it wasn’t just them, other people from the security Bureau showed up. My host’s wife worked for a government agency and folks from her agency arrived as well. Soon enough we rolling in a massive convoy of black sedans and SUVs (Henry Ford would have loved the Chinese market since as long as you can get the car in black, it’s cool) out for an insane dinner. Snails on dry ice, entire fish, the list just goes on and on. After you get the snails out of their shells or cut the choice pieces of skin off the fish though the waitresses take the course away so you end up going through a 27 course meal without any problems because of the small serving from each. The liquor was supposedly going for 250 dollars a bottle and we killed a dozen bottles easily. As my wife said “We’re not eating, we’re consuming edible face.” After that the convoy made its way to an exclusive where the services of the club were steeply discounted to certain officials in exchange for the officials never quite getting around to checking the papers of the Russian prostitutes (in case you want an exotic white woman) working there. At 4 am I staggered up onto the karaoke stage with some of officers the People’s Security Bureau, vanguards of communism and belted out “Welcome to Detroit City”. At the end of all this one of the guys was so far gone he couldn’t find his car. No problem, another security officer called up the police and asked them to find the car and take it to his home, while the first guy and three girls from the club piled into a cab.
For us we were whisked off to the Astor House Hotel (which I do not recommend) which my friend had booked for me as a surprising wedding present, since we were in China on our honeymoon. The Astor House was apparently a favorite of Zhou Enlai, the first Premier of Communist China. He stayed there multiple times according to the plaque on the wall and according to a Chinese historian I know he was such a big fan he also personally supervised its looting when the PLA took Shanghai, to ensure that his favorite features ended up at his estate in Beijing. While efforts have been made to restore the hotel, it still has a long way to go.
We lived it up in Shanghai and my wife reduced to near poverty with her shopping (“But it is so much cheaper than in America, we’d be stupid not to buy it.”) and every time I went out with just the guys I was offered a hooker or in some cases multiple hookers (“You should try a Chinese girl, they’re much better than Koreans” and “It’s China, it’s okay to sleep with hookers here.”) However soon enough we headed out to Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province to meet with Chai.
Guizhou is a whole different kind of China. Horrible sanitation, flies everywhere, when we handed my friend the giant 12 pack of Clorox wipes she’d asked us to bring, she clutched like it was a box of gold. Kids would stop to take pictures of me or with me if they knew enough English/were brave enough to ask. One little girl yelled “Hello, hello, hello!” across the street and then eagerly ran across to show off her basic grasp of English. She told me how her parents told it was important she learned English so she could go to America. She asked me a few basic questions about America, like what kind of car I had, and a few other common ones. The thing that blew her mind though was that you could drink the water in America. In Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou, we were told to boil the water before drinking it due to issues with the water system. Most houses we visited had a giant thermos of hot water sitting around to make tea with, one of the morning chores was just to boil the water for the day. This was in a city of 4.2 million, not some back country town. I handed the girl one of my Michigan hats, a business card with my address, and a paperback I had in my backpack so she’d have another book to practice with. Odds are she won’t make it to America. Her parents are migrant workers, while Guiyang is poor at least it has better social services than the country. that girl lived in a greymarket apartment made from merging two basement storage cubicles together. No windows, running water, walls made from sheets hung from the ceiling. China may have hundreds of millionaires, but they have hundreds of millions who still live on under five dollars a day.
I’ve been asked to keep details of the rural people talked to rather vague since my friend doesn’t want to get her research subjects in trouble, which is always why I waited some time to write this. So I can’t post photos, name names, or list villages. It’s also why throughout this I say my friend or give people fake names and avoid other details. In fact we might we not have been in Guizhou. Other provinces are comparable to the poverty (in certain areas at least) you’d find in Guizhou. So if you’re part of the Chinese Internet Police and reading this to get clues on who is making you lose face in front of Westerners, help yourself to a nice big Maize and Blue go fuck yourself (and go stick your balls in a snowblower, treat yourself though, get something nice by Toro).
In country the interviews were done at whatever passed for the local hospital. The best way to to describe this hospital is imagine your favorite piece of Cold War era anti-Soviet propaganda. You know, the one that showed life in the Soviet Union and made it look so bad the CIA must have staged it as part of a public relations war. Now mentally photoshop that picture to be about 20% worse. That’s what it was like. In one interview we were sitting there while a woman got an IV from what looked like a clear beer growler. No fancy sterile and sealed plastic bag from direct from the medical supply company, the staff just cleaned it out with boiling water and reused it. Near the end of the interview the woman, who had open sores on her legs from the untreated state of her AIDS, she had to yell at a nurse to get gauze put on, looked at me and gave a monologue in Chinese. My friend translated with sad smile on her face and said “The woman wants to know if Michigan is a good school, she thinks it must not be, because if I was smart enough to get into a good school I’d be smart enough never to come back to China, especially places like this.” I thought the woman was at least 60 during the interview, later I found out she was 37. Chai told me she had to make it a rule to only interview people at the hospital, because if she interviews at home they’ll cook her food, despite their open sores, and it would be terribly rude for her to refuse.
At another village we arrived to find the 14 year old son of the interviewee had died the night before. The doctors hadn’t educated the woman about the chances her son would get AIDS at birth, what to do if her child had AIDS, and things of that nature. Rather the doctors had told her the kid would be fine and sent her home. She left the funeral early for the interview though, what was important to her was that her story get told. She didn’t want money or anything, she just wanted the doctors and government to admit they’d screwed her family over. They government told her it was her fault, because if she’d been richer she could have afforded better medical care and none of this would have happened. It’s the kind of thing that makes you walk out of the interview thinking that a B-2 flushing its bomb bay over whatever passes for the Chinese version of the White House would be a damn fine use of your tax dollars.
Chai had been detained before, normally the deal was the cops would stick you under house arrest at your hotel for a few days and then let you go in exchange for promising never to return to the province. Chai had been booted out of Guizhou three times before and promised never to return each time. A lot of Chinese security is about making you think the government is watching you (hence why you see you low level cops everywhere) as opposed to actually being effective.
My friend in Shanghai had some good news and bad news. The good news was that since Michigan is not a name brand school in China, the guy who runs our Confucius Institute is harmless. The Chinese government funds these institutes at American schools to promote Chinese history but in reality they’re around to monitor the overseas Chinese and their director or some other official is normally a full time employee of the security bureau. If the Dalai Lama comes to town this guy will organize the protest and he may make it clear that if you don’t show up to protest, your parents will be hassled by security in China or you’ll have visa problems next time you visit, or something else to encourage your attendance. They also monitor the scholarly work of people and jump on anything critical of China. Our director is a harmless old guy who has a degree in music, is from peasant stock, and can’t even work his computer. He spends most of his time focusing on getting Chinese artists to perform at Hill as opposed to monitoring the Chinese studies. Still though you ever donate large amounts of cash to the University, it would be awesome if you’d express concern over this place to ensure that the University administration continues to only accepts incompetent old dudes from China as CI’s director.
This all means that security knew nothing about Chai’s English language publications that were critical of China, since our guy doesn’t do much in that area. However the bad news that unrest over public health was considered one of the greatest threats to internal stability in China and the police knew Chai had been interviewing activists. The two security guys coming into town where actually assigned to suppressing religion and been assigned to Chai since they were the only ones considered able to handle such a sensitive thing like public health.
Now we were in an interesting little dance. My wife and I could just walk away from this. All I had to do is dial the American Embassy. The American Embassy would call Chinese Security and ask what was going on, Chinese security would call up the local guys and likely tell local cops to kiss our ass, make our beds, and swear it was all a misunderstanding. Of course since Chai isn’t American, they’d still detain her. Rather my wife and I needed to stick around and look increasingly pissed off, as if we were strongly considering calling up the New York Times and arranging it so that “Two Americans Detained For Helping AIDS Victims in China” was tomorrow’s headline. Of course if we did make that call, then the Chinese government would have lost face and would likely detain the lot of us for a while to repay us for that loss of face. Meanwhile my friend would be making some calls to see what he could do. Suddenly I was wishing I’d watched “Spy Games” on the flight from Chicago to Shanghai-Pudong as opposed to all three Lord of the Rings movies (it’s a long flight, you can watch all three and have hours to spare).
We consolidated into one room, I fired up some rap music on my laptop and played the waiting game. When the security officials arrived they were polite enough to shoo the cops, whose numbers had swelled, off to the far end of the hall before knocking on the door. Rather than being hauled down the police station, like Chai had in the past, we were taken out for dinner on the Chinese government’s dime, to a rather nice place at that. White privilege has its advantages. Although no one was allowed to sit within four tables of us.
My wife was the real show stopper though. White people meeting with activists in China is not that uncommon and there was a clearly a standard operating to procedure to deal with me. My wife’s Korean passport though was cause for concern. The local cops had assumed that since my wife was Asian she must be Chinese, so her nationality came a shock to the cops when they asked to see our papers. Then security officers assumed that because my wife is Asian she must speak Mandarin and when she said she didn’t, they were convinced she was just saying that to gain some kind of strategic advantage. The Chinese government was currently trying to convince South Korea not to expand its military alliance with America. The security officers were smart enough to realize that if they somehow mistreated my wife and it led to Koreans protesting her treatment, the Foreign Ministry would not be happy with them to say the least. As we sat there at dinner, one of them was always watching my wife, flinching if she scowled and signalling the server anytime my wife ran low on food or drink.
Since our conversation had to be conducted in mostly English it was slow to say the least. The security officials explained their concerns over how Chai talking to a couple “troublemakers” might make others more inclined list to them. “But everyone is so happy here!” I gave the security officers a big fake smile as I cut them off “Surely your people are well educated and know how good they have it. Why would they ever listen to such troublemakers?”. That earned me two glares and furrowing brows. After all the security guys couldn’t admit the locals were basically mistreated serfs, not to a foreigner at least.
They switched over to how people are sometimes impressionable and might not know their best interests. My wife cut in about how “Well surely its not our fault that people are like that, we’re just here to enjoy China’s hospitality.” These foreigners were clearly a problem for security. With a Chinese researcher they’d just riffle through her notes and then decided if they just wanted to boot her or detain her, with us they couldn’t even admit they had problems with social unrest.
We played the verbal sparring game until after 10 pm local time, when the cell phone of one of the security guys rang. He stepped away and when he was returned. He pointed right at me. “Bush gave you a medal?”. I blinked at him for a moment. I most definitely had not gotten a medal from either President Bush. The security official switched over to Mandarin and caught his partner up. “You know President Bush?” the security guy was staring at me. “Well I met him a couple times.” Growing up near DC my parents would always pack me off to youth leadership camps at Georgetown over the summer, the kind of conferences that get sitting Presidents as their keynote speakers. I’ve been on so many tours of the White House I may know the floor plan well enough to be a threat to national security. What had happened was my friend in Shanghai had got on my Facebook account, found some photos of me accepting one of those American flag lapel pins (everyone there got one and they were made in China naturally) and emailed them over over to the local office along with a report that made it sound like I hit the town every Friday with W. W is a pretty sociable guy, he normally stuck around for awhile after his speech, so it was easy to get a lot of photos with him.
Now the narrative of the security guys switched. Suddenly the rural folk were uneducated and security was worried they might attack the white guy because of anger over Obama’s policies being anti-China (since I was a good friend of Bush clearly I’d understand how Obama devoured Chinese babies on a daily basis). So all three of us needed to leave the province right now for our own safety. Any talk about interviewing activists or whatever had been some giant misunderstanding due to the poor English skills of the security officers which they apologized profusely for.
The next morning we were sitting there in the first class berth of a train headed for Guiyang. The security guys were in the compartment next to us. After the train ride to Guiyang we had a flight to Shanghai, first class as well, compliments of the Chinese government. My wife’s haggling instinct had kicked in and she was sitting there counting out the crisp new RMB notes that the agents had given us. My wife had kicked up a giant fuss about all the nonrefundable, paid in advance plans we’d made and the security officers had coughed up a few thousand dollars without any protest along with handling top shelf travel arrangements.
It was a good deal really, we were getting kicked out of the province no matter what. Chai was studying former sex workers in multiple provinces for just reason, when one place got too hot you went somewhere else for awhile. Within the day we’re back in Shanghai, Chai was heading for Henan, and I was sitting at KTV with some security officials and having a good laugh at how dumb provincial security officers are. “That would never work here!” my friend’s boss was slapping his thigh as he told him how I was W’s best friend, “Shanghainese are much too sophisticated.” The fact we had lied to a different security bureau and gotten away with it was hilarious to this security official, as opposed to being something he’d arrest us for.
On my second last to night in Shanghai I woke up at 3 am and couldn’t fall asleep for some reason. I walked out on the Bund in Shanghai. If you’ve seen the movie Skyfall, the Bund is directly across from that skyscraper Bond was fighting in. Party boats, covered in lights cruise up and down the river, they were still going at 3 am, all the skyscrapers were still lit up to the point you need a really good camera with a great light sensor to take a picture or the photo ends up looking like crap. Yet there also a steady stream of fishing scows or river barges cruising by. These ships showed no lights, visible only by the light their shapes blocked out. As they passed into pools of light from the party boats or the skyscrapers you could see rusty hulls and unpainted woodwork on boats that looked like a half decent storm would sink them. An odd little world. In a couple weeks I’d be back in America, my friend with security might on one of those party boats with a hooker under each arm, and Chai would be standing by the dock waiting for that river barge to pull in so she could interview them. If Chai was detained again she’d be on her own, my host in Shanghai had only done this because we’re close friends and there are rivalries between various security bureaus, he’d lectured Chai on needing to find a less volatile research topic. Next time Chai is grabbed she’ll have to rely on any contacts at her Chinese alma mater and whatever pull Michigan’s Center for Chinese Studies has to spring her and even then it likely means at least 24 hours at a police station while the cops go through whatever notes she has and then toss her on a train out of the province.
Two days later I was sitting there at the waiting area in Shanghai-Pudong airport, waiting for my flight when ten cops walked in. My heart skipped a beat. Had someone gotten wind of what we’d done and decided it wasn’t so funny? The cops all fanned out and started walking across the waiting one, one of the female ones looking at me. I was expecting her to point and gesture at me, saying “There he is! That’s guy!” but instead she passed without a word. All ten cops reconvening right at the entrance to the jetway, setting up a small table. It was just a surprise bag check. Before you could get onto the plane they just wanted to give you a quick pat down and rifle through your bag. No real reason, just to give the impression Chinese security was watching, even if it is really bad at what it does sometimes. Still even as bad as it is, it’s enough to keep your heart rate up until your plane clears the runway.
Tis the season of expose's so I am going to go ahead and Raback the next culprit to be caught. It is none other than the master storyteller CREX. I will give him credit that he is a great story-teller,he must be since he has so many people believing his made-up crap. Here are my reasons:
1. Always had the gut feeling that the story sounds fake. I am asian (not Korean though) and the stories of no member (not just the little sister, all of them) of his wife's family seem realistic. None of the asians I know (including myself) talk or behave like any of his wife's family.
2. The story of his wife working for USAF despite not even being a permanent resident (let alone a US citizen) is just flat out ridiculous. He explains that Korea is an ally of the US so this is possible. This is just a laughable assertion. Having also done research at Michigan I have first knowledge that this would just not happen.
3. He has started weaving stories of race cars and lavish wedings and vacations to exotic lands almost like he was being bankrolled by Lebron.....this just sounds like an elaborate fantasy to me.
I know this post will lead to a backlash. Do not give a damn. Just wanted to give others who have doubts about Crex a forum to speak out.
Those of you may have remembered my diaries from early about my Korean girlfriend. For those if you who drink like fishes (Rodriguez Era? What's that? I just remember drinking all the tequila on Saturdays…) or weren't around back then, allow me to explain.
It's a nice peaceful evening at home. I'm drinking a beer and doing laundry. So I'm wearing some stained undershirt and whatever else happens to be clean (not much) when I hear a knock on my door. I open the door to find three generations of Koreans standing there.
These three generations of Koreans represent my girlfriend's (now wife's) younger sister through grandparents. They're fairly confused as when she gave them her address she neglected to mention the whole live in white boyfriend thing.
We'd assumed we were safe from surprise visits since her parents didn't really like America that much (they had visited Michigan in February once when it was something like -17 and expressed a desire never to come back, understandable). So when we moved in we figured we were safe from visits. Even more so the "Let's show up unannounced and surprise our daughter for her birthday" kind of visits.
So I met my future in laws while wearing a torn up undershirt, holding a beer bottle, and trying to keep a pair of Alaskan malamutes from rushing out the door and slobbering all over them. All while explaining to them that yes they did have the right address and their daughter does live here too. My introduction to the extended family was when my wife's little sister took a photo of me on her camera photo in said condition and posted it on her social networking profile. For bonus points of course my future spouse is at the office, so I'm flying solo.
Back in the day I had some posts up about meeting the family, showing them around Ann Arbor and the like. Sadly I got a little to free with the personal information and some of her students (who also read this blog) put 2 and 2 together and got her name. So they're gone, however she no longer teaches so I figured I can end the saga for those who care.
All that said, lets do a story
The Genesis of our relationship and CRex being rather ungracious in victory:
So I met my future wife when she was my GSI (I'd play Hot for the Teacher, but Special K stole all my glam rock CDs, you'll hear it at the Air Force game though). At the end of class I Facebook friended her and she accepted. I knew she'd all be Ann Arbor for the summer, but that was all I had to go on. I Facebook stalked the hell out of her profile of course, but all her posts were in Korea and back then I had to rely on Google translate. I was wrestling though with when I should ask her out. Right after class would be creepy, but if I waited too long…
My best in was once before class I'd be talking about car racing with a fellow student, she overheard, and she expressed interest in American cars and how fast they are. So the first week of June the car club I was in was renting an oval track and letting members run laps. With nothing better I sent her an email asking if she wanted to come and see some American cars.
For two days she didn't reply and I alternated between compulsively hitting the "refresh email" button my phone and straight tequila. After work it was all "tap, tap, Oh god I messed this up, I should have asked her to the art museum, aaaaaaahhhh, shot, shot, tap, tap…". Then the "Sure, I'd love to" email came. I spent the rest of the week compulsively washing and detailing my GTO. To the point of running a 100 feet of extension cord and a work light outside so I could wax my brake calipers at 1 AM. Ah the things we do for love. As a side note, only the painted outside of the calipers. Don't wax the pad or the rotor, it's a bad idea.
Then I walk out on Saturday morning to pick her up and find my neighbor's cat on my roof. The only reason I didn't walk back inside, get my rifle, and send that cat to great litter box in the sky was because I didn't have time to clean both paw prints and blood off the car before I picked her up. That was literally my thought process "I'm going to fucking kill you, no wait that would make a mess…". No ethnical dilemma on animal cruelty or firing a weapon inside city limits. Had I walked out twenty minutes early that thing would have eaten a 3 round burst from an AR-10. For the record/animal rights, now that we're married I've let my grudge against the cat go. Although I don't exactly rush to call the dogs off when they chase it.
I also spent the first half of the date trying to covertly sniff my hands and make sure they didn't smell like liquid wax.
We hit the track and everything is great. The only real downside to the day is my car is a manual and she can't drive a manual, so she was reduced to riding shotgun on the track. Until my Uncle walked over, handed her the keys to his two month old Corvette (which was automatic, I have no idea why you buy an automatic Corvette, but I'm thankful he did) and tells her to take it for a spin.
As my uncle said while she was doing laps "Look CRex I'm getting old and I might need a spare kidney or something soon. You'll be my first call and after today you better say yes." About three minutes after he said that she skids out and does a 180 on the track. So I guess I do owe him an internal organ of his choice (and some new tires).
I later found out she had been seeing a Korean guy for a few months before I asked her out. She'd actually been trying to come up with a polite way to decline, when…
She goes out for drinks at Ashley's with a group and wears a nice new summer skirt she bought. After they leave her boyfriend pulls her aside and chews her out for wearing such a short cut skirt and says he doesn't want his girlfriend looking like a sex worker. They fight, she goes home, and decides to take me up on my offer.
That same skirt was worn out when she came to the track. I was smart enough to compliment her on how fashionable it was. She officially dumped him about an hour after I dropped her off at her apartment. He would attempt to win her back, but he'd done a good job of burning his bridges already.
This also become relevant years later when I walk into the living room and say:
"Honey, how would you say prick in Korean?"
"Why would you need to know that?"
"I'm arguing with this guy online and I want to say he's a prick" (yes that was the best cover story I could come up with on short notice)
"Oh here, just use this…"
So I walk back in the other room, grab a wedding invitation and in Korean write out "Thanks for being a prick", sign it, draw a hand extending its middle finger next to my name, toss in our engagement photo and mail it. Closure bitches.
He did not attend.
Is not actually all that fun at times. For example lets say your significant other was taught English by someone that neglected to cover indefinites or the differences between past perfective and past imperfective. All kinds of openings for misunderstanding. Somewhere in Korea is a white dude who taught at her school and I kind of want to beat him with a hockey stick while screaming "There is a difference between I could care less and I couldn't care less". I'm weird like that.
Our best conversation though was when we at a Korean restaurant.
Her: I'll ask the server for a knife and fork.
Me: No I got this, I'm fine with chopsticks.
Her: No, no, let me ask.
Me: Seriously, it's fine. I'm getting the hang of this.
Her: You're so bad that all the Asians in the restaurant are staring at you, please use a knife and fork. It's so embarrassing to be seen with you.
She doesn't really do indirect hints that often.
The other weird thing East Asians do is clean each others ears. I think its trendiest in Japan, but it isn't really uncommon anywhere in East Asia. East Asians have really hard and flakey ear wax that you can scrap out, as opposed to the soft and gummy stuff most Caucasians have. So you take something that is basically a smaller chopstick and scrap the ear wax out. It's a bonding thing like giving each other a back massage. Or in Japan (Japan being Japan of course) you go to a salon and lay your head in a lap of a high school aged girl and have her clean it out.
I remain convinced this is a plot by Asian female kind. What they do is wait until you're laying there on the couch. You're helpless and they have a metal or wooden spike in your head, inches away from your brain. Then suddenly they have an announcement to make or a favor to ask. You damn well better agree if you love your ear drum at all.
The whole ear wax thiong sets up the trip to Mongolia, which I was hoping to get done but this Christmas season has been extra busy. So perhaps that will be pushed off until the offseason. My apologies. I normally try to stick around in these threads and answer questions, but I have a bunch of Xmas related stuff to do. So feel free to post a question and then check back in a day or two after I've had time to run down the thread and add replies.
It's Tuesday! Where the hell is the new update?
In last week's episode we had bitch slaps, public hitting, sister-tackling dogs and smoked salmon!
I'm dying for an update here! (can you tell it's a slow week at work?)