My Least Favorite Smell

We all have certain smells that we don’t like. My list is varied —  stinky doufu (tofu), port-a-potties, certain perfumes, and yes, even coffee!!

On Monday I added a new one to my list: the smell of blood vessels being burned.

Make that the smell of MY blood vessels being burned.

For the second time in 2 1/2 years, I had surgery to remove a basal cell cancerous doodad (I think the scientific term is tumor or lesion) on my face.

I noticed something suspicious on my cheek 3 weeks ago and made an appointment to see a dermatologist. She performed a biopsy last Tuesday, and on Friday the lab called to tell me the results were positive. The surgeon had an opening on Monday morning, so I was able to get it taken care of right away.

The procedure he used is called Mohs Surgery, an outpatient procedure in which layers of skin and tissue are removed until all trace of the cancer is gone. In my case that meant cutting a hole in my cheek the size of a quarter and a 1/4 inch deep. Don’t worry; I won’t show you a picture.

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As part of the procedure, the surgeon had to cauterize a few blood vessels. And in case you’re wondering what that means, here’s a definition:

to burn with a hot iron, electric current, fire, or a caustic, especially for curative purposes

As I said, it’s my new least favorite smell, and unfortunately, one I will never forget!

Image source: CallaDerm.com

 

Top Ten Most-Read Posts of 2015

It’s that time of year again — time to highlight the most popular posts on this blog during the past year.

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State Names in Chinese — Literally

This was the most popular post on my blog during 2015. I guess everyone loves to read transliterated names!

When I began studying Chinese (years ago), one of the first things I wanted to learn how to do was answer the question about where I am from. That meant learning how to say Minnesota in Chinese.

It is simply a phonetic translation: ming ni su da (明尼苏达).

On top of that, there is Minneapolis: ming ni a po li si (明你阿婆里斯)

A Tribute to My Father 

For some reason this post consistently gets the most views week to week. I guess people are always looking for ideas on how to pay tribute to their father.

Fourteen years ago today, my father died. Below are the words that I spoke in farewell and tribute to my dad at his memorial service on January 25, 2001, in Roseville, Minnesota. Standing before a crowd of 600 people to deliver these remarks was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The first part of this tribute was written at 30,000 feet above the North Pacific Ocean as I flew home from a vacation in Thailand.

Posting this on my blog is my annual tribute to him.

Words that Describe China

Posted in 2012, this one still gets a lot of hits. I take a look at the book “China in Ten Words” by Yu Hua.

Is it really possible to identify ten — and only ten — words that describe China today?  In a country so vast and diverse, probably not; but that didn’t stop Chinese author Yu Hua from taking a crack at it in his book “China in Ten Words.”

He uses these ten words as a backdrop to tell the story of his life growing up during the Cultural Revolution, and his subsequent journey from being a village dentist (all he did was pull teeth all day long) to a being a writer.

Imagine Having to Answer These Questions

In this post, I take a look at some of the bizarre questions on China’s annual college entrance examination.

In the days following the exam, the questions are usually published online and in local media, triggering a nationwide discussion on what in the world they mean and what the writers of the test are trying to measure and who in their right mind could answer them.

Here’s a sampling of essay questions from the exams given in various provinces this year. How would you do?

Those Strange Americans

A Chinese site published a list of the top ten strange habits of Americans. I re-posted it because it was just too good to pass up. The strangest habit is drinking cold water throughout the year.

Americans tend to drink only icy cold water all year round. On their water coolers, there are only two options: hot water, which is merely used to make instant coffee or tea, and cold water, which is for direct consumption. Americans do not really understand why people might drink warm water. Likewise, there are no exceptional circumstances where people are advised not to drink cold water. For instance, whereas most Chinese people think that women who are menstruating or who have recently given birth should drink only hot water to stay healthy, American women have no qualms about drinking ice water or eating ice cream at those times.

Cultural Values, Mapped

I ran across a fascinating map of differences in cultural values.

Crossing a cultural boundary inevitably leads to cultural clashes. Sometimes the clashes occur at the point of behaviors and customs, such as eating, drinking, or even how to cross a street. More often, however, the clashes occur at the deeper level of cultural values — beliefs about what is right and wrong or how the world ought to be ordered.

10 Things to Know About the 10-Year China Visa

I’m a huge fan of the new ten-year tourist visa that China began issuing in November of 2014, so I wrote a blog post about it’s awesomeness!

Since writing with joy about obtaining a 10-year tourist visa to China last November, I’ve fielded a steady stream of question from friends (and strangers) about the new visa and how to get it. So I decided to put a post together about some things you need to know about the visa. They are in no particular order.

If you’re planning a trip to China, may I suggest contacting the good folks at Allied Passport in Washington, DC. If you reference me or my blog on your application, you will get a discount and I will get a referral fee!

How Long Does it Take to Learn Chinese?

This is another popular post from 2012 in which I highlight some interesting charts that show how long it typically takes for English language speakers to learn various languages.

Since I’ve been in China for 28 years, and speak Chinese reasonably well, I am often asked 2 questions (by foreigners), neither of which have easy answers.

One is “are you fluent?”

My response is usually “fluent enough to get myself into and out of trouble.”

Minnesota Ten Commandments

Just a fun list of Ten Commandments, Minnesota-style. My favorite: “Keep yer mind off yer neighbor’s hot dish.”

 A Ten-Year Visa!

Doing my happy dance upon obtaining my 10-year multiple-entry tourist visa in 2014.

This afternoon the good folks at FEDEX delivered a small package to my house, and it wasn’t even a Christmas present. In fact, it was something better — my passport, with a brand-spanking-new TEN-YEAR, MULTIPLE ENTRY TOURIST VISA to China.

Getting ready for a new year of blogging. Thanks for reading!

 Related Posts:

Top Ten Posts of 2012

Top Ten Features of China’s Car Culture

Iran in the 1960’s

When I was a kid growing up in Pakistan during the 1960’s and early 70’s, going to Tehran, Iran was like going to Paris. It was much more developed and wealthy than Karachi, and had tons more western food (a big deal for us kids!).

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I recently ran across some great photos of Iran in the 60’s and 70’s. Thanks to the Asia Society for posting these. 

New York City resident Norma Lee Mahdavi lived in Iran from 1960 to 1967 and served as marketing director for the Iranian National Tourist Organization’s New York office in the 1970s.

 

Mahdavi recently let us sort through several boxes of official tourism slides taken in Iran during the 1960s and 70s — and we’ve reproduced two dozen of our favorites in the gallery above.

 

Some of the photos were taken by Mahdavi, and others were taken by professional photographers hired as part of the Iranian government’s tourism and cultural outreach initiatives.

Click here to see all of the photos.

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Evacuation

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