Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Go, Go, Go-Karting!

Last week heralded the 30-something-ieth birthday of our good friend John, so we decided to celebrate it with less than 30-something maturity levels: we went go-karting.

Go-Karting at anytime is fun, but on a track in Shanghai with ten of your closest friends (+beer) it is bloody awesome!

Gerald in front, with Phil behind, trying to figure out exactly where in his armpits he is supposed to fit his knees

The birthday boy, John

The line-up (I'm 3rd from the back but my head has been mysteriously disfigured)

The "+beer" portion of the evening at the bar at the track (L-R: Me, John, Steffie)

Getting cranky at having to wait too long for our race... 8 minutes is a long time some



Bastien as the floating head in the helmet surrounded by me, Phil, Alberto and John

Me and Irene- the (sometimes) photographer and group emailer of these photos

Phil and Steffie deep in post-race analysis of the time sheets

Bastien- the over-excited French man

And of course:
The day-after injury photo-
my inner thigh the next evening with a splendid stamp of the go-kart steering column

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Bloody Awesome!

Uh oh, this email was passed on to me by mum... and Phil is already quoting from it.

In the beginning God created day and night.
He created day for footy matches, going to the beach and BBQ's

He created night for going prawning, sleeping
and BBQ's,
and God saw that it was good.

On theSecond Day, God created water - for surfing,
swimming and BBQ's on the beach ,
and God saw that it was good.

On the Third Day God created the Earth to bring forth plants -
to provide malt and yeast for beer and wood for BBQs,
and God saw that it was good.

On the Fourth Day God created animals
and crustaceans for chops, sausages, steak and prawns for BBQ's,
and God saw that it was good.

On the Fifth day God created a Bloke - to go to the footy, enjoy the beach,
drink the beer and eat the meat and prawns at BBQ's,
and God saw that it was good.

On the Sixth Day God saw that the Bloke was lonely and needed someone
to go to the footy, surf, drink beer, eat and stand around the barbie with.
So God created Mates, and God saw that they were good Blokes,
and God saw that it was good.

On the Seventh Day God looked around at the twinkling barbie fires,
heard the hiss of opening beer cans and the raucous laughter of all the Blokes.
He smelled the aroma of grilled chops and sizzling prawns
and God Saw that it was good ... ... Well . Almost good.

He saw that the Blokes were too tired to clean up and needed a rest.
So God created Sheilas - to clean the house, to bear children, to wash,
To cook and to clean the BBQ, and then God saw that it was not just good.
It was better than that, it was Bloody Awesome!


Friday, November 24, 2006

Putting the 'awe' in awesome

A great story to go with an amazing image:

The me I was.

After thinking about my post from yesterday, I was reminded of this line from the end of The Motorcycle Diaries:

"I am not me anymore. At least I am not the same me I was."

There are so many experiences in life that can produce such a feeling, for example becoming a parent or the death of a loved one. However, one quick and certain way to feel like this is to live in a foriegn country for a while, and I certainly feel as though, after 6 years of travel, I am not the same me I was.

I'm interested to hear your feelings and experiences regarding this topic- what changed you from 'the you you were'?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Crazy is a state of mind

I had the following conversation with my friend Dan (hereby referred to as Nanou) on msn this morning:

Nanou says:

how u?

Lou says:


Lou says:

I slept in- aside from the gas lady ringing the doorbell twelve times at 9

Nanou says:

twelve times?

Nanou says:

dont these people have any decency!?

Nanou says:

after 2 or 3 rings she should have realised either you weren't home or weren't getting up!

Lou says:


Lou says:

in all fairness we’re supposed to write the reading ourselves on a piece of paper stuck on the wall near the lift, but I hadn’t remembered

Lou says:

but she was asking other people on our floor too

Nanou says:

u have to write your own reading!?

Nanou says:


Nanou says:

what if u lied?

Lou says:

i know

Lou says:

i dont know how they check it

Lou says:

i guess people are so used to being in a police state that they are honest..

It's true that the "You tell us how much gas you've used... no, don't worry, we trust you!" attitude is a little strange. However the fact is that until Dan pointed the absurdity of writing your own meter readings, it really hadn't seemed abnormal to me, though now I think about it I can remember a time when it did. That is very true about many things here- when I first started this blog, it was easy to see 'strange' things and write about them, but now after living in Shanghai for the last 16 months these once strange things seem normal.

I am reminded about this email I sent to family and friends after I had been living in Nepal for about 10 months:

17th May, 2003, Ittabhatta, Nepal.

Warped reality.

Hi Everyone,

It has come to my attention that my "standards" for normal have been warped far out of shape by my time immersed in Nepali culture. I realized during my visit to China recently that I had already forgotten the "normal" things like shopping complexes and home delivery ("You mean to say, that all we have to do is make a phone call and give a man some money and he will bring the pizza TO OUR DOOR???!!").

But this warped reality was strongly brought home to me this afternoon during a conversation with my sister, Liz, on MSN Chat. The conversation went like this:

Lou: Guess what I just bought?

Liz: What?
Lou: A Power Rangers inflatable wading pool


four yellow squeaking rubber-duckies!!

Liz: WHY???

Lou: Because it is hot, it was only $20, and now I can have pool parties in my living room!

Liz: lol

That's crazy!

Lou: No it is not, it is perfectly sane.

We are going to have a champagne cocktails bikini pool party!!

It is the perfect way to cool down!

Liz: But why?

Lou: Because we are crazy bideshis (foreigners), we'll be in the privacy of my own house, and because and we can.

Liz: See - you are crazy.

Lou: No we are not crazy by our standards... only by Nepali standards.

After all, what is wrong with having a pool party?

Liz: In your living room? In a power rangers inflatable pool? With rubber duckies? What ISN"T wrong with that????

Lou: oh. I actually hadn't thought of that.

Liz: That’s sad

So, yeah, I guess now I am willing to accept that a Champagne Cocktails Bikini Pool Party in a Power Rangers wading pool in my living room -with rubber duckies- probably isn't all that normal. Once I realized this, I started wondering about all the other things I have gotten used to seeing and/or doing (or being able to get away with doing) while I've been here in Nepal.

1. Walking down the road to buy one egg
2. A double bed in every living room
3. Riding a scooter/motorbike on a public highway in sandals and a cotton Kurta Surwal
4. Phrases such as "Did you meet with your phone?"
5. "guests" arriving at 6am
6. The inclusion in every movie of a song and dance scene situated on an alpine mountain top, regardless of the genre.
7. Buying alcohol from the corner shop/shack
8. Being able to buy cigarettes (if I smoked) individually (i.e. one cigarette at a time, not the whole pack)
9. Burning my rubbish in the front garden
10. Not using toilet paper
11. Moving house with a tractor instead of a removals truck
12. The power going out every day
13. Having only sunlight to light my office (even when the power is on)
14. Paying 50 cents for a bag full of veggies
15. Walking around with my money stored in my bra
16. Eating a full meal of Daal, curry and rice for breakfast
17. Not having to line up anywhere, or even x-ray my baggage at the airport, because I am white
18. Never accepting the first price
19. Knowing that everyone is looking at me.
20. Buying a Power Rangers inflatable wading pool and Rubber Duckies in preparation for a pool party in my living room!!

In retrosoect there were many more strange things about living in Nepal that I didn't even register at the time- like the fact that there was a civil war going on, and if you went for a walk after dark you were likely to be shot.

I'm interested to skip forward a few years and see what my perseptions of China will be in hindsight.

My "strange" life in Nepal:
I was asked to be this baby's mother- I politely declined

My colleagues and I standing in a tea field.

Riding a massive swing made out of bamboo and jute rope during the Tihar Festival

Planting rice during the monsoon.

And, of course...
Sitting on my roof in the rain in... The Power Rangers Inflatable Pool with Rubber Duckies!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

alright already, I get it.

I have had a minor skin breakout of the pimply nature over the past few days- though as even as a teenager I never really had any pimples, a minor breakout is a major, puss-exploding disaster for me.

Then, while commenting on a blog a few moments ago I get this as the word verification image (bear in mind the fact that most people call me Lou):

You know what Blogger? The mirror this morning was quite enough- I didn't need reminding again.

We now return you to your regular programming...

Thanks to Gabrielle and Phil (her Phil, not my Phil... it's all very confusing for us...) I am now back on the air!!


Just what the internet needed- more bloggers.

So stay tuned for the photos and run-down from the great 2006 Hubbard Family Tour of China... as soon as I resize and sort all 300-odd of them. At least now I have the incentive to really get going on it, I should be able to start posting them this week.

Monday, November 20, 2006

how very helpful

I am currently in the process of setting up a PayPal account, and while verifying my account was told:

We sent a letter with your validation code to the following address. When you receive the letter, please follow the instructions on how to enter the code on the PayPal website. Please allow days for your letter to arrive in the post.

"Please allow days for the letter to arrive..."? How many days? How very helpful.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Whinge" indeed rhymes with "Binge"

Mignon commented on my last post:

"And are you trying to spell whine? Pronounced like the drink? Or a word rhyming with binge (as suggested in your title)?"

I knew then that if she, as an American and thoroughly versed in the intricacies of the English language (as you can see from her own blog at http://openingyourmind.blogspot.com), then "whinge" must be an Australian word.

So I grabbed the "Aussie Slang" Dictionary that my sister Liz sent Phil for Christmas last year. According to the author Sarah Dawson:

To complain constantly and irritatingly.
A whinge is the act of doing this, and
a whinger is a person who does so too often.

So there you go. So often I have no idea that a particular word I am using is not a universal English word, but rather an Australian-invented term that I have grown up with, and therefore never realised the world at large was unaware of it. Quite often Phil has simply no idea what I am talking about!

Monday, November 13, 2006

whinge, binge, cringe

I apologise for the whinging post of last week, and the lack of posting in general. I am just not feeling this email-posting thing- doesn't really feel like blogging, and as I can't access my blogger account there is no way I can edit or change any posts after they are published... talk about performance pressure. The outcome: expect A LOT of typos in the comming posts.

Also I am totally bummed that for the time being I can't post my photos of the Family Magical Mystery Tour of China (aside from the fact that I haven't even had a chance yet to sit down, sort, edit and resize the images yet anyway).  However, I am issuing a desperate plea to any of you technologically advanced examples of the human species out there in cyberworld- if you can think of a way I can by-pass the beta-blogger sign in page to get to my account, please please PLEASE let me know.

Oh and thanks to Mia for the metaphorical chunk of rescue Edam, it tasted so good in my mind!

So there you have it: a ridiculously short post in which i apologise for whinging in the last post, and continue to whinge in this one. Did I even spell 'whinge' correctly? Oh who cares... Whinge complete- over and out.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me...

So monday was my birthday. 27 years in this world, and how did I celebrate it?

1. woken (barely) by Phil at 4.30am as he left for a shoot out of the city, not to arrive back home til after 9pm that night.
2. woke again at 10am by a coughing fit eminating from deep within the phlegmy recesses of my own lungs. Reminded again that I have ANOTHER horrid cold, and suspected bronchitis.
3. burn two pots of coffee, before finally getting it right on the third go.
4. sit down at my computer to realise that the Chinese govt has blocked blogger again and my blog is f^#*ed. Scream obcenities at the computer, at blogger beta and at China in general.
5. took mum and dad to the fabric market to have cashmere winter coats tailor made, and then to the antiques market to buy last minute souvenirs, haggling the stall owners in both markets to within an inch of their lives- inducing another coughing fit, weak-kneed dizzyness and nasty snappy behaviour from myself.
6. by this time it is 5pm and so we go home.
7. discover that one of the rabbit has a cold, google it, and find that without medical intervention he could die. Stress about how to pay for vet bills that are more expensive than human dr bills.
8. decide to cook pasta-bake for dinner- though mum has to have wheat free pasta and no cheese, and Phil wants the same as me and dad, yet with tuna added. Try to figure out how to fit three pasta dishes into our little taoster oven and decide that mum has allergy, but Phil is just being selective- no tuna pasta for him.
9. Start cooking to find we are out of pasta sauce.
10. go to supermarket to buy pasta sauce. Buy some more pasta while I'm at it.
11. get home and tip an entire new packet of pasta into boiling water and watch about 50 black bugs float to the surface.
12. tip out pasta, boil new water, and start again.
13. discover I am out of butter for bechemel sauce. Use olive oil instead.
14. leave the kitchen to sit down on the couch at 9pm, at which point Phil walks in, sees me on the couch only to think I've been lazing about all day. (of course he doesn't think that but it feels like it).
15. go to the fridge to get him a beer (like the good little house-wife I am) and find that our stupid arctic fridge has frozen the beer bottle. Phil opens it before it can explode on its own, and of course it explodes everywhere, all over us and the kitchen. Clean up.
15. Finally eat dinner at 9.30pm.

Happy birthday me.

PS. Thanks Dan for setting up the email blogging for me- a stop-gap til I figure out how to properly use my blog again.
PPS. I did have a birthday dinner with Phil and the 'rents on Sunday night, which was lovely, but it never feels like your birthday when you do it before hand.
PPPS. I'll stop whinging now.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"We apologise for this disruption in service..."

It seems that the Chinese Government in all its infinite wisdom has blocked the beta blogger sign-in page, so I am at present unable to post to this blog, even using anonymous proxy servers. This message is coming to you via an email sent to my sister Liz in Australia- Thanks Liz!

We are working on getting around this, and in any case the government might unblock the page again shortly. Let it be known that I did not use the words "fickle", "irrational" or "just plain stupid". In the same sentence as "Chinese Government". Not in the same sentence. So there.

In the meantime, I can still read all your blogs, and read your comments on mine, although I am holed up in an anti-blogging seige.

If you are worried about me, feel free to send cheese. It won't help the blogging situation, but... Damn! I miss good cheese!

"We hope to return to our regular programming as soon as possible"