tasty bytes from China

May 2014
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Chicken Feet Farewell
Filed under: General, Kids, Culture
Posted by: @ 7:28 pm

What is the best way to say Goodbye?

With chicken feet, water fights, and waterproof mascara.


The 8th grade class organized a lock-in, inviting a few teachers as chaperones and about thirteen thousand mosquitoes.

Activities included the normal: chicken feet eating contests, Zombie dancing with the Chinese old folks and watching the sunrise on the school roof.

And oh yes, checking out the guys john.


While it was fun, it was awfully tough. Amd I’m not just talking about the lack of sleep.

While the kids were playing games, I’d sneak in the bathroom, latched the door and sobbed. Half the tears were for me, half were for them, since many of the students come from stoic cultures where crying is not acceptable. So I had to cry their tears, too.

Yep, Learning to say goodbye is the toughest lesson I have ever taught.

Class dismissed.

1 comment
15 frames of fame
Filed under: General, Kids
Posted by: @ 5:19 am


“Mrs. Mac, that envelope says KIA.”
I put the viral video on pause. Sure enough, six minutes and twelve seconds into Zach Sobiech’s video, ONE YEAR LATER, the envelope we mailed to his mother was seen.
“OMG” I remarked as I spilled my coffee.
“You all just made a difference.
Tuesday May 20th, 2014, was the one year anniversary of the death of Zach Sobiech.
If his name is familiar, it’s because he is the kid who “lived” with cancer and wrote the viral hit, CLOUDS.
My wired class was touched by his music and his death last year. We sent his family cards, not thinking much of it until we watched his video entitled “ONE YEAR LATER” in class today.
While previewing it at home, I notice an envelope with handwriting and mispellings that looked familiar. It wasn’t until one of my students in class said, “THAT’S OUR LETTER!” that it dawned on me, I was looking at an envelope that I addressed that contained hope and hugs for a family that needed them.
As we watched the touching video filled with tears, I reminded my students that they each have touched more lives than they will ever know.

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I Believe in Questioning
Filed under: General, Kids, Culture
Posted by: @ 11:33 pm

Students, I want you to finish this sentence.
“This I believe…”
 It was a writing prompt based on an NPR program of the same name.
My students eagerly completed the sentence, writing essays on everything from “I believe a turtle can change your faith” to “I Believe in Rice” to “I believe Homework can rot your Brain”.

But one student’s essay took me by delightful surprise. It was entitled, “I Believe in Questioning”.

It was written by a student who had the guts to admit he questioned his faith.
Before attending a faith based school he blindly believed in stories of a man being swallowed by a fish and a God created the cosmos in less days it would take him to write a social studies report. But after attending a school full of students who know more about Justin Beiber’s life than the God they profess to follow, he called it quits.

“It’s important to question your faith,” I told this student. “It’s my job as a teacher to help you explore your questions.”
“Really? So you won’t flunk me for writing this essay?”
“I will flunk you for leaving candy wrappers in your desk.” I laughed and continued, “A person who has never doubted their faith has never believed. That is a piece of advice I received from a pastor.”

He pondered my words of wisdom, “Well then, I’m going to be an atheist as soon as I throw out this Skittles bag.”
 I am taking my student’s atheist declaration with the same weight I take any 8th grader’s vow to vegetarianism. It’s probably just a phase. But, if one were to question their faith, South East Asia is the place to do it. Below is a handful of my favorite deities in Bangkok.
The God of Stolen Office Supplies


Chao Mae Tubtim Fertility Shrine

Money Offering

God of Windex Glass Spirit House, Sukhumvit
Dinner To Go Shrine.  Many stores and restaurants have reserved seating for a local spirit.
Fashion Diva
God Water Sprinkler Combo

Shrine of Fanta Offerings

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A mother’s ping
Filed under: General, Chenglish
Posted by: @ 4:22 am


Every time it’s mother’s day, a mother sends her ping.

If you lost
your mom, you know what I mean. Just like the missing Malaysian plane, a lost mom will send her messages.

Her maternal homing device finds
you, to tell you to get your elbows off the table or not be so hard on

My mother’s pings to each of my sibling are unique. To one sister, it’s the train.  To another, it’s a sale at JC Penney. To all of us, it’s hearing Claire de Lune or smelling a  Whopper Junior.

But what’s my unique ping signal from my mom?

Any and everything that has to do with Christmas.

In America, my mom’s pings would stop being
detected around February.

But in China?

She’s pinging all year long.

Here are some recent pictures I took of my mom’s perennial pinging around Kunming.


Peep Snowman.


Papa Beard Claus


Dueling Santas at the import store


A rogue Reindeer at Dairy Queen


Look’s who’s on the rooftop at Nanya Fengqingyuan

What is your mother’s (other other past away loved one’s) unique ping to you?

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Filed under: General, Culture
Posted by: @ 5:47 am


Some of you might remember back in my college days
how I built a Buddha out of foam rubber,
and had a massive party that almost got me kicked out of MSU. Then that
Buddha landed me my first job. Well, you could say, I’m sorta enthralled with Buddhas.
So needless to say, when I go to Bangkok, visiting Buddha statues is on the top
of my list. Here are a few that tickled my spiritual fancy this trip.


Typical Gold Buddha


Yogi Buddha


Peace Out Buddha


Miniature Plastic Tchotchke Buddha


 Anorexic Buddha


Under Construction Buddha


Over-Budget Buddha


Caped Superhero Buddha


Ring Around the Collar Buddha

Garden Buddha

While many of these marvels were made of gold or marble, only mind was
made of foam rubber.  

If you are wondering the fate of Tyrone, after he got me a job at Leo Burnett, he was my roomie in Chicago. One day, I took a knife to him, stabbed him to death and created many wonderful throw pillows. All that remains is his belly button.


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Passport Confiscated!
Filed under: General, Culture
Posted by: @ 7:46 pm


of all fears.
I love shows like Locked Up Abroad but I never want to star on them.
Yesterday, on my way to Thailand for a medical checkup, I came close. I was at Kunming
Airport, with no known contraband other than a specimen cup.
But while standing in line at Border Control, the official saw something
suspicious on my passport. He got his supervisor took one look at me and then
confiscated my passport.
Yes, my passport.
Jeff and I gulped.
It would be freaky enough if the officials spoke English; but add to it the
language barrier, a loaded colon and a plane to catch, I was leaving in my
shorts what I wanted to drop off at Bumrungrad.
The officials took my passport and disappeared. Every 15 minutes, one would
come out and say, “It will be another 7 minutes. No worry, you no miss
I speed-dialed my employer’s school’s on-call translator (who is available for
emergencies like this and for when I need help finding shoe strings at
I dialed her, handed the phone to the Border Control Official and then said my
Crazy thoughts went through my mind.
Was there a problem with my VISA?
Did someone steal my passport number?
Was a Chinese national trying to pass herself off as a platinum haired
The numbers of entry date stamp were transposed,what should have been the year
2012 was stamped 2021.
This took about 45 minutes and for the officials to correct, two years after
the initial mistake.
Which, will probably cause more airport delays in my future.
As for now, I won’t be making a guest appearance on my favorite show.

1 comment