26 July 2006
We're online here at #2306/277 Dong Tai Lu, because someone in this building has a CTC/LAN. We've been pirating such, 'tagging on,' by chance. It comes and goes, however, and if it 'goes,' we're 'cut off' the Internet. This happened last week for three days.
This motivated 'Tom' to repair Mr. Zhao's TP-Link system (same CTC/LAN system), and thus, when he did repair, we 'piggy-backed' on his a few feet away. But, this requires plugging and unplugging a cable from the CT ('China Telecom') system (phone line), back and forth into the TP-Link 'box.' Last night, when leaving the office, he forgot, or plugged into the wrong port, and today no Interent for us. So, it's been an off, on again situation. But, how can you really complain when you're not paying for the service...? You can't.
Yesterday, we went to see the China Unicom agent in the Huahai Road Computer Mart (huge, with a thousand sellers of something electronic). We had Yali ('Ceres') along to help translate. What we have been having with this group/angry young Chinese man, is a 'failure to communicate,' as something is always lost between cultures.
'Tom' had done much research on this, finding the best way for us to get online anywhere in China. After much, we discover that China Unicom, China Mobile's (Government) number one competitor has the best system (formally military). But, they don't sell the service directly, but through agents.
Additionally, it was discovered that making the China Unicom system work with a Mac requires a special 'card' ('receiver').
So, two problems, getting the service, and finding the right piece of gear that works with..
I hate dealing with 'agents,' (third parties) because if something is not right, they just throw up their hands and, in this case, point to China Unicom. Of course, if contacted China Unicom would say, referring to their contract, we can't be resonsible for our inept 'agents.' And thus 'Caveat Emptor!' X10 in China.
China, so far as 'consumer protection' goes is about where the U.S. was in 1915.
Worse, unless you have established credit in Shang Hai, you have to pay one entire year in advance. This is 3,000RMB or $360 U.S., not a huge amount, but if the system doesn't work or you don't like, 'tough shit!' You're not getting your money back! So, we're been pondering how to solve this problem. How to find/have someone else sign on our behalf so we can pay by the month (cancel if don't like).
Stephanie had said her mother would in the beginning, and then that became problematical. Then her grandmother was offered... Then that didn't work out either, so we were in a quandry. I was just going to go ahead and risk the 3K RMB, as we need this service (to get online) badly. Note: You can't count on 'war driving!'
One night Tom found a 'stall' (CU agent) that sells the only 'receiver,' (card with USB jack) that works with the MacBook (you see how complicated using computers can get). Unfortunately, excited with a possible solution, he brought one of the clerks, a young Chinese man, back here to #2306, to demonstrate.
So, a couple nights ago I was sitting here working, and he, with this young man, came bursting through the door. To demonstrate the CU agent man had to break a SIM card to insert into the receiver (casting it 'used'). Afterwards, when I told him I'd think about it, he got very unhappy having thought he'd come (after work) for a 'sure thing!' Tom had problably said something to motivate him! In a 'huff,' we wanted 100RMB, which I thought he was do for his time. Tom wasn't even going to give him that (interesting how the Chinese think--a different way of doing things).
However, even with the 100RMB / $12 U.S. he wasn't happy, sulking away...
Afterwards I told 'Tom,' 'Never ever bring someone into my space that you don't ask me about first!' How the whole idea was not to my liking.
Since, we've been looking for a 'company,' with credit who would sign the contract for us (long 'shot').
Yesterday, we had more 'bad news, for the guy, him not liking me from the 'get go' (bad attitude). Then things went down hill to the point at me pointing a finger at his face saying, 'You have a bad attitude, and better change!' What do kids, particularly males, do when confronted with a situation like this... Not the ones who've been lucky enough (like 'Tom') to 'choose' good parents, but the ones who are 'problem' children? Of course, they regress, submitting to unconscious emotions, now his ego threatened. When he didn't apologize, I simply walked away, thinking 'Tom' and 'Ceres' were going to follow. They didn't, maybe for the better, as the outcome.
Down stairs outside I waited for them. When they didn't appear, I went next door to the Bank of China (where I needed to ask about opening an account with Tom). When the guard wouldn't let me make a telephone call (to Tom), I left.
Next door at another bank, I was also refused. Banks, I hate them all no matter what country!
Finally, I found someone in the Computer Mart that let me make a call. But, 'Tom' didn't answer. Faced with not knowing I walked back to 277 Dong Tai Lu (about 1.5 kilometers) to call again, what to do...? I really didn't know what or where they had done/gone?
Back at 2306 I had something to drink, and then called 'Tom' again. This time I reached him, happy as always (he's very much like Rucha). The tone of his voice eased my burden, asking me about going to the 'T-shirt place,' which I didn't understand at all. What did the 'T-shirt' place have to do with what had just happened? That didn't seem all that important! I told him to return here, and we would go wherever together, not wanting to broach the subject either.
It seemed to take forever, but finally he arrived, and soon we were on the street again, walking to Fuzhou Road. We had all kinds of tasks to accomplish, now with only eight days left before departing Shang Hai for Beijing.
During our walk he explained 'Ceres' had suggested that Jiang Hai's (young filmmaker) company might sign the China Unicom contract. Suddenly, there was a solution to this unpleasant situation which would make everyone, including the Chinese 'problem child,' happy. They had learned from a colleague, why he was so upset... If we didn't purchase the card ('receiver') his boss would deduct the price of it from his paycheck.
This is how they ('owners') operate in China, exploiting 'children' no end! Money has become 'God!' as in everywhere. Mao, is rolling over in his grave, 'Capitalist Roaders,' having gotten control of China! Amazing what has happened in China in the past thirty years! Mao would be shocked!
Whereas, I'd 'vowed' not to do the 'deal' with the Chinese 'problem child' under any circumstances, I now felt like we had a good solution! Sometimes, it takes much trying to solve, but finally, with peseverance, you do! Anyway, that's the plan!
I should have listened to my astrologer (me) and not tried to do anything during this 'retrograde' period. But, up against a deadline, what to do? Suffer through the consequences!
On the way to Fuzhou Road (books and office supplies) I stopped at a Bank of China branch to check the balance in my account. Afterwards we went inside to discover few customers, so I knew this the branch to stop and ask questions. No, not possible to transfer funds from Kashigar to Shang Hai without an account. So I now have another account at the Bank of China. But, I must have had to input my 'password' into the 'machine' twenty times before she was satisfied. Amazing the 'security' procudure now in banks, thanks to us, all us 'thieves' that have caused banks to devise such elaborate systems, which only make it inconvenient for customers (thieves always find innovative ways to circumscribe).
My new plastic card must have 30 digits for a number. Remember 'Butterfield 8?' Not only a movie, but a real telephone number in the days of old. I'm old enough to remember four-digit telephone numbers in the U.S. Now, in China the 'fixed' number, eight, and the mobiles number, eleven.
But, now I can transfer funds from Kashigar to Shang Hai, and for a small fee! Always 'fees' at banks.
I noticed recently the increase in fees accessing funds from an ATM. This, of course, from my bank in the U.S. $300 U.S. withdrawal, the fee something like $4 U.S. It's called the 'mordito,' in Spanish, or 'the bite!'
On Fuzhou Road I began looking for a case for our MacBook. I knew what I wanted, but didn't know where to find! We stopped and looked in several stores before discovering a 'bonanza!' With little help from a sales clerk, we looked and looked until we found exactly what I wanted, a lightweight case to put Ms. MacBook into. And for nothing, well almost nothing something like 15 Yuan or $2.00 U.S. In the meantime, I found other things I need to 'house,' my travelling 'office' in and found some more handy 'bags,' 'cases,' or whatever you call them. So, finding this store good... I hope I can remember where to find again. You can't get this kind of office item in Kashigar!
Onward, onward we walked, but yesterday in Shang Hai 'da feng' (strong wind) from the typhoon attaching Fujian Province a 1,000KM to the south. It made the temperature pleasant enough to want to walk.
Isn't it interesting, that one man's 'heaven' is another man's 'hell!' A couple of weeks ago another typhoon hit the south of China killing 500 people. But, it cooled off Shang Hai, making being outside more pleasant, and me happier in the process. There but for the grace of God go we...
We were wanting to exchange a plastic food storage container, that was defective. This for the second time. Again, by the time we arrived the store was closed.
Onward to the T-shirt place to collect 15 RMB for a 'defective' T-shirt. This 'stall' in a huge building of hundreds of clothing stalls. I also wanted to purchase a 'dress shirt,' something to wear, other than a T-shirt, for our NBC meeting. I found one for 65 RMB, or $8 U.S. The only problem I don't know if it will fit. The sizes are different from the U.S., in both Europe and Asia. So, you have to guess the first time, and then adjust from there. At least, the price is reasonable, and no great loss if the wrong size.
I'm funny about clothing... I don't have much, but what I have I like to fit! And how it 'fits,' is different to me than other folks. I like long sleeves long, and they rarely are long enough for my skinny neck. I really should have some shirts custom made, so I can get exactly what I want. Maybe next time in Shang Hai.
Would you believe the sky was clear in Shang Hai last night (26 July). I couldn't believe it seeing Jupiter right there in the western sky. I even saw one star!
People wonder why they become ill (or unhappy) in Shang Hai (big polluted cities)...? We're so estranged from nature, we might as well be living on Jupiter!
The other day we met 'Karl,' an interesting man sounding like from America (his English so non ethic). He was born in Poland, grew up in Canada and the U.S., and has travelled widely. Now, an aspiring actor in Shang Hai, here because of the economic opportunities (aren't all of the young?).
But, when i explained why I couldn't live here for long, he partially agreed saying, he 'stayed indoors all the time!' But, that's not how I want to live for any amount of money!
So, counting the days until I can ride out into the countryside west of Kashigar!
In the meantime...
in low country (the real description of Shang Hai)