Eggs and Bacon

Published on 02/29/2012 in China, Thoughts

Eggs and Bacon

Eggs and Bacon (Photo: mhaithaca)

It’s easy to forget things until someone or something triggers your memory. Life has a funny way of reminding you of certain events that you haven’t thought about for years, or even decades. In an instant, you can be taken back to a time or place you have consciously chosen to forget or that simply wasn’t important enough to remember.

I have heard a lot of stories about my Mom and Dad’s moving adventures during the ’70′s and ’80′s, but obviously some stories get lost or forgotten over time. If I hadn’t moved to another country and brought up some of the problems I was having due to an inability to communicate in the native language, I don’t think my Mom would have spent much time thinking about the few months she spent in Venezuela. However, I am glad I was able to take her back to the restaurant where an obviously frustrated man, thought that increasing the volume of his voice would make it easier for a Spanish speaking waitress to understand English. I can almost hear the guy yelling, “Eggs and bacon!”

This has become our new rallying cry and a way for us to make light of the constant barrage of ridiculousness. If we have a bad experience attempting to order food, then we’ll say, “Eggs and bacon.” If we sit down at a table that has bowls and forks that would be too small for Sweet Jayl’n to eat with, then I’ll think, “Eggs and bacon.” If we get served somebody else’s meal and eat it anyway, well that’s, “Eggs and bacon.” If I watch an organized line to get on the bus disintegrate into the Royal Rumble, then I’ll shake my head and mouth the words, “Eggs and bacon.”

Needless to say, there have been a lot of moments where I have wanted to turn up the volume and yell at the top of my lungs, Eggs and bacon!!!” Thankfully, I’m a bit more civilized than that and I’m finding ways to make the necessary adjustments. As we begin our second month in China, I am optimistic about what the next few months will bring. I am gathering more relevant information and preparing myself for another opportunity to build something special. Now, if only I could find some, “Eggs and bacon!”

That’s my Tooz Sense, and it’s worth every penny.


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China Observations: Part 1

Published on 02/22/2012 in China

While two weeks isn’t enough time to make a final judgement, it is enough time to gather some preliminary information about a few things. From the moment I landed, I have tried to observe as much as I can, assess costs, evaluate quality and compare everything to the world I know. However, when you don’t know what you don’t know, this process takes a lot longer and always feels incomplete. For a quick rundown of some of these incomplete observations, assessments, evaluations and comparisons, please see below:

1.) Airports – The airports are much cleaner, quieter and more efficient than those in the US. The airports in Shanghai and Xiamen, were relatively peaceful places compared to the various airports I have been in recently across the country. As an added bonus, I didn’t have to take my shoes off when going through security.

2.) Taxis/Cabs – The cost for taxis and cabs in China is incredibly cheap. As long as you don’t pay any attention to the endless stream of near wrecks every thirty seconds, it is pretty relaxing. I have not paid more than $6.00 and probably have averaged around $2.00 per ride. If I have my destination in Chinese characters (printed or on my iPhone), everything is fine. For less than what I was paying per month in car insurance, I can afford a group of private drivers, who are obviously way better with directions than I am.

3.) Public Transportation – Xiamen and a number of other cities in China have a BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system. My apartment building is directly across the street from a stop, so it is easily accessible. For $0.16, I can take a round trip on the BRT to most of the popular areas of the city and back to the stop in front of my apartment. The buses are clean, comfortable and give you an opportunity to stare out the window at the mix of old and new buildings that are currently being constructed. Be prepared to get on and off the bus quickly, or be prepared to get run over by the locals who are always in a hurry to get somewhere.

4.) Restaurants – Think of a child who can’t speak pointing at an item in a picture book, and you should have a pretty good idea of what I look like ordering food at the local restaurants. While my Google Translate app on my iPhone works in some situations, most of the time I am just pointing at pictures of food items and hoping for the best. The food has been good and has averaged about half the price you would expect to pay for it in the US. I have not been sick or had an upset stomach as a result of eating anything at a restaurant yet.

5.) Hotels – I have stayed at two hotels in two different cities, for roughly the same price. The first hotel in Shanghai was probably the nicest hotel I have stayed in over the last twelve months. The second hotel in Xiamen was not nearly as nice. Fortunately, the second hotel did have a free and amazing breakfast buffet. I was greeted kindly every morning with, “Good morning. Do you have your breakfast voucher?”

I’ll leave it there for now. I am sure there are enough topics to cover that should make up part 2 and part 3. That’s my Tooz Sense, and it’s worth every penny.

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So Far Gone

Published on 02/14/2012 in China

View of Gulangyu Island from Our New Condo

Well, we finally did it. After talking about it for the past few years, C and I have set up shop in Xiamen, China. The month leading up to our international flight and our first week in the mainland has been a roller coaster ride, and we still feel like we are in the middle of an endless stretch of loops. We’re not sure exactly where this is going to lead, but if the first week on the ground is any indication, the loops might not be stopping anytime soon.

The first week has been eye opening in a number of ways. We have managed to get some things right and plenty of things wrong as well. Our expectations, whether reasonable or not, continue to produce mixed results. We’re committed to keeping our eyes and ears open and delaying the process of jumping to any conclusions, until we gather more information.

While we intend to stay in touch with those who have made an effort to stay in touch with us, I will be using Tooz Sense as another way to communicate. I plan on publishing a number of specific posts, including pictures, in the coming days and weeks. If the topics or posts aren’t in line with your personal values and objectives, feel free to change the channel at anytime. That’s my Tooz Sense, and it’s worth every penny.

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Back to the Beginning

Published on 02/13/2012 in Thoughts

I started a blog back in 2006, and used it as a way to clarify and communicate my thoughts. I stopped writing and took the Tooz Sense blog off line in 2008. I shouldn’t have done that.

I thought what I was writing was becoming repetitive and making some people feel uncomfortable. The truth is, I never had a defined purpose for starting to write back in 2006. I really didn’t care if anybody read a single word I typed. I just couldn’t make sense of the world and people around me and needed an outlet.

A few years later, I find myself in a similar situation. I don’t know what I’m going to write and I don’t know exactly why I am going to write, but I’m going to write anyway. I hope you enjoy reading it a little more and a little less, than I enjoy writing it. That’s my Tooz Sense, and it’s worth every penny.


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