User Comments - DaveCragin

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Posted on: ChinesePod Jobs in New York! In Shanghai!
June 09, 2013, 04:12 PM

For those who are new, it’s important to point out that the comment that CP caters to male fantasies on Chinese women isn’t reflective of the history of CP.

Previously, David, a native Chinese, did Shanghainese lessons with Catherine, an American.  Amber, a Canadian, did Qing Wen, with various men & women.  Sarah, from England, did news pieces.  All were very engaging (Sarah would have been a great on-air personality if she had stayed w/CP).

The fun chemistry between John, Jenny & Dilu is unusual & hard to replicate.  This is evident in the lessons when CP had other Americans replace John, i.e., they are almost always boring, even when the topic itself is valuable.  In contrast, I can listen to the lessons of John, Jenny, & Dilu countless times & still find them interesting.  Dilu was unusual that from the beginning, she could inject her fun personality into the lessons.  I'd hate to see this changed. 

I strongly support CP’s current approach of male/female interactions.   Recently in a talk at a conference on cross-cultural communication, I used an excerpt of a lesson from John & Dilu.  Although the lesson was Intermediate and most of the audience didn’t speak Chinese, they laughed at the fun intercultural exchange (when John tried to tell Dilu a “knock, knock” joke.)   

I doubt male/male or female/female lessons will have the same verve that male/female ones do.   Before changing CP’s successful approach, I’d assess whether most users feel CP is focused on male fantasies (I don't).   (It's weird to even write about the latter).

Posted on: English Letters Make Chinese Words
May 14, 2013, 02:46 AM

In China, what is the most common way to refer to Chinese-Americans, i.e., American-born individuals of Chinese origin?  Is "ABC" common in China? (American-born Chinese).

I asked 2 Chinese-born Chinese friends in the US.  They said the older term was měijí huàrén (美籍华人).  However, they said this term is generic because it includes both American-born Chinese and Chinese who have become American citizens.  Now that many Chinese have become naturized American citizens, they use ABC to be specific for Chinese-Americans.   

Posted on: 超级细菌
May 08, 2013, 01:32 AM

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration says “Surgical masks are not designed or certified to prevent the inhalation of small airborne contaminants. These particles are not visible to the naked eye but may still be capable of causing infection. “ Hence, masks don’t provide airborne protection.

This said, surgical masks prevent you from accidently touching your mouth with your hands and this reduces the chance you’ll infect yourself. That is, if you touch a contaminated surface and then your mouth, you can get sick (People touch their mouths constantly & unconsciously) – masks stop this.

For air pollution such as PM 2.5, surgical masks do nothing. The reason PM 2.5 is dangerous is because it is so small (and this is why larger particles, i.e., PM 10, are no longer monitored). Surgical masks also do nothing for other air pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen oxides, & sulfur oxides (N-95s don't help with these either).

The easiest way to look at this is: surgical masks aren't designed to protect you against airborne particles and they don't. In contrast, N-95s are designed to protect you and they do. I teach health-based risk assessment at 2 universities - forgive me if this sounds like a lecture - hope it gives you what you need.

Posted on: 超级细菌
May 05, 2013, 09:23 PM

For any of the CP staff (or others) wearing surgical masks to protect themselves:

Surgical masks are designed to prevent the surgeon from infecting the patient or you from large droplets, such as blood, and they aren't effective against flu. 

To protect yourself from airborne disease, you need an N-95 respirator.  N-95s look similar to surgical masks, but N-95s are specifically designed to protect the user from infectious disease and particulates (such as PM 2.5).  You can reuse them. 

When using an N-95, make sure it fits tightly or otherwise it offers little benefit.  (In the US workplace, it's actually required for users to undergo a “fit test” when they test one’s breathing to ensure the fit of the N-95 – I recently did).

A primary way people infect accidently themselves with flu is by touching their eyes & mouth with their hands.  Hence, extra washing of your hands is effective (it sounds too simple to be effective, but it is). 

Posted on: Children's Train Ticket
November 05, 2012, 04:18 AM

CP - Thanks for responding to a user's request (mine! <g>). 

I've traveled around China by plane & train and thought I had reasonably good skills for getting around.  However, it surprised me how much of this lesson was new to me. 

This was a hard lesson for me (I'm not complaining - I just need to improve 我得提高我的中文).  I agree with Phillip8 regarding Dilu's comments.   

If you are buying tickets for your family, you really need this lesson.  Don't expect the ticket agent to help.  Despite using my 8-yr old daughter's passport information for her ticket (they enter the info into a computer), they still charged her a full-adult fare.  I only found out after the trip that she could have paid 1/2 price. 

Everytime I learn 1 thing in Chinese, I find there are 10 more things I don't know........ I'll be using CP for a long-time. 

Posted on: Which Train Station?
October 19, 2012, 02:24 AM

Miskat, I feel the same: I love the bullet trains. They are fast, clean & easy to use. The question can be "how hard is it to get a cab when you arrive?"

In August, we had a family trip to China & took the train from Shanghai to Jinan, Jinan to Nanjing, and Nanjing to Shanghai. All of these went well. (although I didn't know how to say "children's ticket" or that these tickets were even offered - CP we need a lesson this).

In contrast, after the 1 hr bullet train trip from Shanghai, it took 75 minutes to get a cab in Hangzhou. It was mid-afternoon and wasn't raining. Then traffic was really heavy. Friends said this is typical. I can't imagine waiting for a cab at rush hour.

Posted on: Which Train Station?
October 16, 2012, 01:26 AM

At end of the lesson, John says that bullet trains leave from Hongqiao.  To those visiting Shanghai, recognize that the bullet trains leave from the Shanghai station as well.

A Chinese friend in Shanghai warned me about the mistake she made with her mom:  bringing her Hongqiao, only to find that her train left from Shanghai.   Similarly, I asked a friend in Jinan which station I should go to? She said "Bullet trains go to just one station."  However, they to both stations in Jinan.  Hence, it's not necessarily common knowledge that bullet trains leave from multiple stations.  (Nanjing has 2 stations as well). 

The above can be a big deal because it can take much time to travel between stations.  If you realize you are at the wrong station & need to wait for a cab to the correct one,  the time involved could be huge. 

Posted on: A Private Money Changer
August 17, 2012, 03:25 AM

I think this lesson is CP at it's best.  They took a potentially boring topic and made it fun. 

As soon as I heard:  shuō Cáo Cāo Cáo Cāo dào! I couldn't wait to try it with friends.  

The interplay between Dilu & John adds to the entertaining aspects of the lesson.

Hence - no questions - just commentary. 

Posted on: Eating in Korea
August 07, 2012, 01:32 AM

John mentioned that he thought the meaning of liàolǐ came from Japan.  This agrees with an interesting exchange I had with a friend in Japan.

She sent me the characters for "iron chef" in Japanese: 料理の鉄人. 

The last 2 characters made sense:  iron person (and の = de.).  I looked up liàolǐ (料理) in my various Chinese dictionaries and they said it meant:  "take care of".

A Chinese friend who studied Japanese explained "take care of" is the old Chinese meaning.  That China imported the Japanese meaning (i.e., cuisine) for  liàolǐ 料理. 

Considering that these characters are Chinese, it's an interesting influence by Japanese on Chinese.   

Posted on: Your Mandarin Is Really Good!
July 30, 2012, 01:15 AM

I thought "nǎli, nǎli" is an old phrase no longer used in China.  I know some of the more complicated ways mentioned by Mark, but it can be useful to say something concise like "nǎli."