Peder with a D

[plays well with others]

Archive for the ‘China’ Category

So You Want to Play Online in China?

Posted by Peder on 21 September 2010

Well then you’ll need some different toys.  Trust issues, money, and cultural differences have laid the foundation for an alternative social network for netizens of the the Middle Kingdom.  If you head over there, be prepared to leave your Facebook and Twitter access at home.  And if you really want to live like the locals, add Baidu and Sina (English) to your bookmark lists.

I’ve tried out a few of these sites and the biggest obstacle is obviously the language.  But as Google Translate continues to improve, it becomes easier and easier to understand foreign content.  Check out this translated version of Baidu.  And most international sites have an English page anyway.

Probably the most fun I’ve had has been on video sites like Tudou or Youku.  These sites are less stringent than Youtube about what kind of IP (read: TV shows) they host.

Source: Huffington Post (via)


Posted in China, Communication, Internationalism | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Troubles @ Kai En

Posted by Peder on 28 December 2009

During my years in Shanghai I worked at a prominent English school called the Kai En English Training Center (凯恩英语培训中心).  At the time it was a model school in the city and across China.  It exemplified a successful joint venture between domestic and foreign owners, it utilized a highly-effective teaching model which was new in the Chinese market and it had begun to franchise across the city.  When I worked there, two schools operated at full capacity.  As recently as a couple years ago the same could be said of five locations.

But the good times have not lasted.  Pressures from the other language companies (notably English First, I’ve read) and the global recession have cut into Kai En’s profit margins.  The strong management upon which the school and brand grew splintered as the Shanghai-famous Ken Carroll became involved in ChinesePod and Praxis Language.

Unfortunately the bottom fell off Kai En earlier this month, making for a rough holiday season for a beleaguered faculty, administration and support staff.  The company had been under financial duress for some time (perhaps more than a year), but had been able to stay afloat.  Searches for additional investors panned and the ownership closed the doors and fled the country in a matter of days.  All employees were owed some amount of back wages, and the local employees had gone the longest without pay.

Photo: Kai En

Here are the sources I used:

  1. The initial collapse, as captured by Shanghaiist. (Their source at Shanghai Daily is closed to subscribers, but I read it last week and it’s pretty much just the B&W facts on the matter: Owners bailed and took everyone’s money.)
  2. A teacher’s open letter on the situation, also from Shanghaiist
  3. A longer update posted on Shanghaiist. This one is good because it includes commentary from a long-standing teacher, Kris Fedorak. His perspective is particularly illuminating. (Unrelated observation: We must have missed each other in the faculty lounge by mere months.)

This is truly a sad post for me.  My relationships with Kai En, Ken, Brian and Steve were never perfect, but over subsequent years I learned that they had treated me and my colleagues in a respectful, straight-forward manner.  Ken and I had fun conversations about language acquisition theory.  Brian and I debated the merits of pop music as lesson material and whether or not U2 was the greatest band ever.  Steve was part of an historic Chinese New Year’s party that happened to coincide with my 23rd birthday.  In those years the school was a dependable, trustworthy employer with a strong product, loyal students and a prominent position in the Shanghai scene.  It’s sad to see how far this has all fallen.

Here are some pictures I have with other Kai En faculty.

Zach and Angelina were my roommates as well

Cassandra was a Senior Teacher

Phil was a branch manager, here shown with his fiance, Amy

Posted in China | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Flickr Memories: How Do You Cook Corndogs?

Posted by Peder on 11 December 2008

Cooking Corndogs, originally uploaded by Peder with a D.

I just spent a fair bit of time uploading a bunch of old pics to my Flickr account.  I encourage you to take a look and comment on any photos you find interesting!

It took a lot longer than I anticipated, but also gave me the chance to listen to the following great albums:

  • MGMT, “Oracular Spectacular”
  • Born Ruffians, “Red, Yellow & Blue”
  • Kings of Leon, “Only By The Night”
  • The Tough Alliance, “New Chance”
  • The Notwist, “Neon Golden”

Good things come to those who wait.

Posted in Around Minnesota, China, Monterey Days | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Peder with a D Presents: The Summer Palace … In Winter

Posted by Peder on 8 December 2008

via Flickr, originally uploaded by Peder with a D.

Summer PalaceIt’s been almost two years now since I was last in China, but this is one of my favorite pictures from that trip. I’m overlooking some sort of pagoda at the Summer Palace, a few miles northwest of Beijing.

This was actually the second time I had visited this site, both happening in the months of January – 2004 and 2007, respectively. Ironically, I’ve never been to the Summer Palace during the summer. (But the compound is so much easier to navigate when you can cross the frozen lake.) I took my jacket off for this photo and my smile hides the fact that it was about 15 degrees Fahrenheit, but that crisp air makes for good photography.

I traveled with a buddy of mine, depicted below. Good times.

Bean Circles Up

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Reminiscing Cabs of Yore

Posted by Peder on 14 November 2008

Taxi!I was clicking through some of the stats and incoming links associated with this blog and was reminded of this story, as told by my friend Brittney.  Just had to link to it to keep the memory alive through my own blog, as she’s done so well on hers.

“We all sat dumbfounded. Some guy hailed a cab then proceeded to rob banks and use it as his getaway car? This was not your average taxi driver chit chat.”

This was a great driver; he had some of the best taxi stories I ever heard.  Totally beats the story of my old roommate paying off a Shanghai cop who had pulled over his cab on the way to work.  This was crazy stuff, reminding me of the details that lead to this piece of fiction.

Thanks B for writing it down and capturing that jaw-dropping, eye-popping look into the life of a San Franciscan cabbie!

Read Brittney’s story here.

Posted in China, Monterey Days | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Chinese Paramilitary

Posted by Peder on 11 November 2008

I wish this were true, cuz then it’d be real.

Segway to the Chinese Paramilitary

Hold On Tight

Courtesy of J. Orlin Grabbe and wherever he/they got it from.

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Chinese Political Irony

Posted by Peder on 28 May 2008

Communist President & Kuomintang Party Chairman in an Historical Meeting

Ironically, the Kuomintang, the party that fought the 23-year war against the communists (with an 8-year hiatus to fight the Japanese) is now seen as the “new leadership” with whom Beijing has the opportunity for “improved relations.” [via BBC, as is the photo to the right]

This is said in contrast to the former leadership of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which overtly advocated Taiwanese independence from China. (Flash-based site, once you have it in English, hit “The Party” link on the left and choose “Platform” from the menu.)

And for you American viewers out there, you’ll find a bit of familiarity in the Red-Blue divide between these two parties. The mainland Communist Party is represented by red, of course. And the Kuomintang is represented by blue, as accentuated by their Pan-Blue delegation of 2005.  The savvy viewer would have also noticed the aforementioned DPP is represented by the eccentric third party color, green.

Posted in China | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Wedding Day Jitters

Posted by Peder on 21 May 2008

A Rattled Bride

Imagine having your wedding photo shoot disrupted by a massive earthquake. That’s what happened to one couple in Pengzhou, only miles away from the epicenter of the recent quake in Wenchuan county, Sichuan.  Visit this blog for more of their photos.  Also, thanks to the Shanghaiist for links.

Posted in China | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

favorite old posts

Posted by Peder on 24 April 2008

a collection of some of my favorite posts from my old blog

The World at Small: Intro to my last blog (Listen to World at Large by Modest Mouse)

Auf dem Falschen Weg: Bit of humor

Randall’s Rocks: Cab ride comes to fisticuffs

Hiding in God’s Pavilion: 9-part story of my great-grandfather’s time in China

Posted in China, General Tech-ishness, Stuff That Gave Me Pause | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »