Shenzhen’s Best Street Sweeper

Shenzhen’s best street sweeper works about three blocks on Jingtian Road. I’ve seen him for six years. I don’t know his name, but we pass each other several times a week. We always smile and nod.

021Why do I consider him Shenzhen’s best street sweeper? Because he works hard, and is always smiling. His broom strokes are fast and broad.

I’ve never seen him stop sweeping to talk to someone. He even sweeps while he smokes. No cigarette breaks.

One day we had a downpour. He put on his umbrella hat and continued sweeping during the storm. He was completely soaked in seconds. In addition to sweeping, he cleared debris from the sewer tops so the water could run off the sidewalks and streets.


I’ve often wondered why he has not received a promotion of some kind. Maybe he’s happy as things are.

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Living in China. My New Life Awaits

Living in China. My New Life Awaits.

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Living in China. I Know She’s a Pig, but I Love Her Anyway

Living in China. I Know She’s a Pig, but I Love Her Anyway.

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Living in China. Spring Festival Pics

Living in China. Spring Festival Pics.

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Living in China. How To Be Corrupt.

Over the past few months several corrupt officials have been exposed in the online media. A few have been caught by party mechanisms, and by other means. Now with the official Party crackdown on corruption advanced by Xi Jinping, it is time to offer some advice to cadre who either are dishonest, or intend to be dishonest.


In the interest of promoting harmony between the governed and the government, here are a few things corrupt government officials might consider.

1. Be careful of your watches, cigarettes, and clothing. This is the number one rule because it seems that being photographed or videoed wearing expensive accessories is the way many investigations begin. Remember, this is the age when everyone has a camera phone. Once your picture wearing a 150,000 RMB watch is taken, it is just a matter of seconds before it’s spread all over the internet.

2. Don’t involve your extended family in your illicit activities. It is true that blood is thicker than water, but some of your family members may be even more corrupt that you, or maybe just stupid. For example, it is probably not smart to put an apartment you received as a gift from a developer in exchange for demolishing a few peasant huts in the name of your younger brother’s retarded son. Nothing good can come of it.

3. Don’t have a girlfriend/boyfriend. They tend to take breakups badly and can hold knowing information about your activities over your head. If you must have an extra marital relationship, don’t talk about your scheming, under the table dealings, or wealth. It’s bad enough to have to share these things with your spouse. No need to widen your circle of potential snitches.

4. When viewing a bus accident, bridge collapse, train wreck, or other disaster, don’t smile even if one of your rivals was killed in the unfortunate incident. If apologizing for polluting a river after receiving a hefty payment from a chemical company, act contrite. If you are seen as haughty or uncaring it will attract attention to your entire job performance. There will be plenty of opportunity to count your money or gloat over your rival’s demise in your private office.

5. Don’t be ostentatious. If the urge to buy an expensive timepiece is overwhelming, don’t try to scratch the itch by wearing a knock-off instead of the genuine article. It may call attention and unwanted scrutiny to your timepiece. And even if you show it’s fake, you will have drawn attention to yourself. If you just love to feel the heft of an expensive gold and diamond timepiece on your wrist, buy one using cash while on an overseas trip. Carry it home in a diplomatic pouch, and only wear it while looking at yourself in your bedroom mirror.

6. Drive a modest car. If your office provides a car for you, opt for a middle of the price range or lower end model. From time to time offer a ride to a crippled old lady you see walking on the street. Doing this in the presence of people with cell phone cameras is especially helpful. It makes for great public relations.

7. Don’t try to hide your ill gotten gains within China. Anonymous, overseas bank accounts and other financial instruments like bearer bonds were custom made for hiding swag. Keeping tangible assets such as unregistered gold bars or high quality diamonds in a safe deposit box in Switzerland is another made to order prescription for hiding stealth wealth. There is no paper trail leading back to you from these types of investments.

8. Limit your greed. If you make a score, take the money and run. The longer you keep playing the game, the more likely it is you will be caught. Get out while you can. After all, how many millions do you need to live happily ever after on a tropical beach in the Caribbean?

9. Don’t let success go to your head. It is human nature to get increasingly careless the longer the game is played. Be self-aware enough to admit you have limitations.

10. Know your place. Never steal more than your boss, and if you do, keep quiet about it.

11. In some aspects of life, such as show business, there is a saying, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” In the world of political corruption, the opposite is true. In public life it’s best to be seen as an anonymous drone slaving tirelessly for the good of the people until you retire to an expensive apartment in one of the most upscale areas of Paris.

12. If your child is getting married, turning 21, graduating university, or otherwise celebrating some event, don’t throw a giant party in the most expensive hotel in town. The little people will notice the caravan of your finely dressed friends arriving in their expensive cars and question how you could afford to sponsor such an event on your 10,000 RMB/month salary.

13. If your son or daughter needs a job, don’t pull strings or call in favors to secure a favorable position for them. Let them sink or swim on their own merits. Doing this may help them build some of the personal character you find lacking in yourself.



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Living in China. A Bureaucrat’s Wet Dream

On January 1, new rules for traffic lights have been imposed in China. The new rules require drivers who fail to stop for yellow lights be issued citations and have points deducted from the licenses. The fines and number of points deducted have doubled.

Some localities, including Shenzhen, are not enforcing the stop on yellow rule because the traffic light cameras are not properly calibrated. This has brought criticism from cities that are enforcing the rule.

Of course bloggers have hit the internet to discuss and criticize the new rules. The most frequently voiced complaint is why have a yellow light if it requires a full stop, just like the red. Why not just have a green, blinking green and red? There is no real purpose for the yellow under the new rules.

Another often voiced concern is without some sort of a signal that a light is about to change color, drivers are forced to slow down when approaching a green in anticipation that it might suddenly change. If they are driving at highway speed they can not stop for an unexpected yellow light and risk a citation. One blogger wrote he crashed into the back of the car in front of him when it stopped suddenly for an unexpected yellow light.

A Guangzhou official said the stop on yellow regulation should be enforced. He was quoted saying, “If both green and yellow lights mean go, then why should we have a three-color control system?” Bloggers turned the question around and asked why have both red and yellow lights if they both mean stop? In a similar twist, Xinhua News Agency reporter Liu Yang noted, “In a three-color traffic control system, green means go, yellow means slow and red means stop. It is not right to treat yellow the same as red.”

Many complained that the new rules have caused traffic to move slower for fear of being caught going through a yellow light. Apparently this is one of the intended consequences. An official with the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) told China Central Television on Wednesday if drivers focused on the road, maintained a safe distance from vehicles in front of them and slowed down when approaching traffic lights, they could avoid rear-end collisions and illegally passing through yellow lights.

It seems that slowing the overall speed of traffic has been successful. Yu Ran, the manager of a company in Beijing, reported she has driven at a snail’s pace since New Year‘s Day to avoid incurring the new penalty. But why would the government want to slow traffic? Smooth flowing traffic is part of commerce. Is it now a goal of the government to slow and impeded business?

Despite the controversy and confusion the MPS, which wrote and imposed the new ordinances, has shown no sign of revising or rescinding the laws.

The new traffic laws are a bureaucrat’s wet dream. The laws are completely unnecessary, unpopular, hard to follow, punitive, cumbersome, slow the flow of commerce, and raise revenues for the government.

UPDATE: The January 7 issue of Global Times reported the MPS partially backed down from the new regulations. It reported for the time being only warnings will be issued for running a yellow light and no points will be deducted from the scofflaw’s license.


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Living in China. Grumpy Old Fart

This ill tempered old ass-wipe is a fortune teller who sets up on the sidewalk a few blocks from my house. I asked if I could take his picture. He said no, so I went on by. The next day I asked again. Again he said no.

It got to be a game. I’d ask to take his picture every day, and every day he refused. One day he had a customer. I asked her if I could take her picture and she said yes. But the grumpy old asshole emphatically said no and even stood up and took a couple of steps toward me. I returned my camera to my pocket and continued down the sidewalk.

From that day on I decided to ignore him. If able, I’d let a fart as I passed him, otherwise I didn’t acknowledge him in any way. Then one day he was asleep sitting up as I passed. I quickly got his picture.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had the picture printed and laminated at a nearby shop. The next day I handed the picture to him as I passed. He took it, looked at it, scowled, and tossed it into the bushes behind him. A few hours later as I passed by again he was gone as was the picture. Of course anything could have happened to the picture, but maybe he took it with him. Maybe someone else picked it up.

I wonder if the old turd foresaw his picture would be posted for hundreds of people to see. Would he care?

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Living in China. December 4, 2012. Cold and Rainy.



FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30. Bad weather seems to have set in. It was rainy all day, and the weather was cool, though not completely unpleasant. I didn’t go out during the day, but we got together with a few friends for dinner. It took exactly an hour to catch a taxi, possibly because of the weather. Typically it takes 5-10 minutes.



SATURDAY-MONDAY, DECEMBER 1-3. The bad weather seems unending. I stayed in all three days. Have a bad case of cabin fever, plus I miss the exercise.

The paper said Beijing got its largest snowfall in 50 years. I guess that front has hit us here now. It’s supposed to start warming on Wednesday or Thursday.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 4. Yet another cool and rainy day. The high was supposed to be 16. I decided to take a walk anyway. I over dressed and was sweating after two blocks. Nevertheless I decided a pot of hot lotus root soup would be good and headed to a cafe where it was served. It was a 45 minute walk in light rain.


After buying my papers I arrived at the cafe, and guess what? They were out of lotus root soup. Still, I spread out my papers and ordered something unmemorable. I can read my papers on line for free, but having them laid out on a table in front of me is much more satisfying than scanning them from a computer screen.

Today is Edison’s birthday. We planned to go out, but at dinner time it was raining so hard we ordered in. Sea got 8 dishes for 82 yuan (about $12.00 USD) no tip. I volunteered to bring a cake home, but Edison doesn’t like sweets, so no cake.



The first four pics are from the Friday night dinner party. I look unusually large because I’m wearing three shirts at the party.

The rest are random street scenes from my walk today.

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Living in China. November 27, 2012. Crappy Weather.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26. Cool and rainy. The paper said the high today will be 20. Tomorrow’s high will be 19, then it will begin to warm up a bit. Wednesday-s high will be 22. I’m not sure what these numbers mean, but it feels like it’s in the low 60s or high 50s.
Went out for my walk and the papers about 13:00. It was drizzling, so I decided to cut my walk short and take shelter in a cafe for my first pot of lotus root soup of the season. About 13:45 I sat down. The soup was OK, but not as good as in the old place where it was made with twigs, roots, straw, and floor sweepings. This soup was sterile. I also ordered my first bottle of black beer. It didn’t disappoint, and after my first sip I was warm. After my second sip sweat beads broke out on my forehead. I was content.

I spent about an hour in the cafe during which time the rain and wind increased. By the time I got home I was soaked. The umbrella did little to keep me dry because of the wind. I put on my snow suit pajamas and sat down at my desk. The next thing I knew I awoke and there was a blanket wrapped around me. Sea had put it on during my unplanned nap.
I stayed in the rest of the day. Sea made dumplings for dinner.

Got up at 04:15. The weather was like yesterday, cool and rainy. I went out about 13:00. I’ve noticed my walking is much more cautious than before I fell in Hong Kong. It was drizzling, but not enough to open my umbrella.

I stuck to a route that kept me on concrete or brick sidewalks. I avoided tile sidewalks. Not much happened. I spent more time reading in a cafe than actually walking. I got a few pics, so I’ll send this now.

The first pic is of lotus root soup served in a clay pot. The second is of my bottle of black beer. It was a little larger than an ounce.
The fourth is of the owner of the cafe. She strapped her baby to her back using a long scarf-like cloth that I’d never seen before.

The fourth and fifth are of Sea’s dumplings.

The sixth is the Wednesday morning view from my window.

The seventh is of a kid and a baby in one of the cafes.

The eighth is of a sweet potato dish the waitress shared with me on Wednesday. No charge.


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