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Bryan Jones
Attended University of Texas @ Austin
Lives in Dalian, China
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Bryan Jones

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If the shoe doesn't fit...

Since Mandarin, or Putonghua, is a tone based language, it is chock full of homonyms and therefore offers wonderful and creative opportunity for wordplay, or puns. Which the Chinese deftly use to sidestep censorship in online resistance discourse, if only briefly.

The latest, fitting shoe (hé xié 合鞋) is another play on the Chinese word for harmonious (héxié 和谐). And “socialism with Chinese characteristics” is all about promoting harmony.

In his first trip abroad in early 2013 as China’s president, Xi Jinxing delivered a speech in Moscow where he countered international criticism of China’s “developmental path.”

Xi said: We maintain that every country and its people ought to be respected. We must insist that countries are treated equally, regardless of size, might, and wealth. We must respect the right of each country’s people to choose their own developmental path. We must oppose interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, and defend international impartiality and justice. “Only the wearer knows if the shoe fits.” As for whether a country’s developmental path fits, only the people of that country have the right to say.

On Weibo, China’s version of Facebook, Chinese netizens rather quickly quipped that they have little say in China’s development…no matter how small or uncomfortable the “shoe,” ordinary Chinese can’t ask for one that truly fits…

Wuyuesanren (@五岳散人): My take on the shoe-and-foot question: Whoever buys the shoes has the last word. The common people pay taxes, so they have the right to say whether or not the shoe fits, as well as the style they want. A well-chosen pair of shoes also comes with a warranty and the privilege to exchange or return the items. The shoes themselves don’t have the qualifications to say whether they fit or not. Shoes that do aren’t shoes, they’re shackles.

“Fitting Shoe” (Artist: Kuang Biao 邝飚)
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Bryan Jones

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China's "Call of Duty" CG War Video
Kicking American Ass

This week marks one decade of living in China. As a former journalist, I would lay claim to having been a keen observer over the years, if not commentator, of China and Chinese culture. There is a huge difference between sightseeing another country/culture and residing in one. The former of course broadens your horizons, makes your world a bit bigger and more colorful, but the latter, if you let it, truly opens your eyes...to different ways of thinking, social mores, customs and traditions, as well as giving you the opportunity to view your own country and culture in a new light.

During the bulk of my time here, Hu Jintao was the leader of China. Yet he, even in the eyes of many if not most Chinese, was viewed as little more than a placeholder, a keeper of the status quo...competent, yet bland and boring.

Xi Jinping assumed power in 2012 and, unlike his predecessor, has quickly elevated himself to political and social heights unseen since Chairman Mao. He is anything but a placeholder.

The Chinese call him Xi Dada, Big Uncle Xi...an image he has carefully and calculatedly cultivated. His war on corruption has netted literally tens of thousands of cadres, many of them, it should be noted, political enemies.The Chinese Dream has become his signature political slogan, while the policy implications remain vague.

Deploring "Western influence," democratic ideology in particular, the Great Firewall of China has become even more aggressive under his hands. VPN services were mostly tolerated under Hu Jintao, but since January of this year most VPN providers have been severely choked down. (While I rarely needed to change servers before, I find myself forced to change every few days now.)

He has also taken a much harder line on foreign affairs and security issues, projecting a more nationalistic and assertive China on the world stage. Objecting to the U.S. "strategic pivot" to Asia, Xi has begun calling China-U.S. relations a "new type of great power relations," a phrase which the Obama administration has not seen fit to embrace. In response to the continued spat with Japan over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, Xi declared an Air Defense Identification Zone in late 2013.

And, most recently, China celebrated "The Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggressions and the World Anti-Fascist War" with a V-Day parade replete with marching phalanxes of soldiers and rolling military hardware.

In concert with this display of China's defense capabilities, this video has been circulating on the Chinese web. It's a fairly polished CG production that shows China's military springing into action...in retaliation of an attack on the mainland. While the video does not specifically name names, if you watch closely you'll note that the three-pronged land, air and sea spearheads decisively annihilate only U.S. military hardware (F-22s, Nimitz-class aircraft carriers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers), ultimately succeeding in planting the Chinese national flag on what appears to be Okinawa Island, where of course there is a large U.S. military base.

I never ever felt unsettled or skittish when Hu Jintao held the reins. I kinda do now, though.
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I don't know how I should comment on the video. But I'm kinda worried that Nachi might be the one that starts a raw. Nachi, what a name.
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When fried rice goes bad...

I love chao fan, or fried rice. It pairs well with anything else you feel is hao chi, tasty...and my wife spiffs it up a tad, quite different from typical fried rice, by letting a layer brown up in the pan since we both enjoy a little bit of crunch.

Anyway, there's a story circulating on the Chinese internet about a fried rice vendor in Nanjing who has been causing quite a stir, literally. He's only open from midnight to 5am and his fried rice is apparently so good that he typically attracts a late night crowd of 300-400, said crowd spilling out into the streets and causing traffic jams.

And that's how fried rice goes from being good to bad. He's being shut down for causing too much of a stir.
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+Colin Lee lol...my bad, noted and corrected. I know better, but never hurts that my first mate is lurking.
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For Chinese Only

Recently, as were e-scootin' our way to the morning market...

Me: "It's almost cool today. Seems like the worst of summer is over."

Wife: "I told you a couple of weeks ago about the first day of fall in the Chinese lunar calendar."

Me: "Yeah, but in my hometown (Austin, Texas) we'd still be toodling around in triple-digit weather."

Wife: "Well, it's the Chinese lunar calendar. It's only good for Chinese."

Me: "Oh..."

I know, I know. The art is the Chinese zodiac. Just couldn't snag anything sexy for the lunar calendar.

#china   #chineselunarcalendar  
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 Shēn
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Breakfast in Hubei

Noodles are a common breakfast staple in China. Though they aren't my idea of a truly satisfying breakfast, they are filling and can be tasty, if you chance upon the right dive.

This is a bowl of suan cai rou si mian, essentially rice noodles with pork and pickled veggies. Mix in a little dollop of hot pepper paste/jam and you're good to go.

The black bowl on the right is filled with huang jiu, known as yellow wine. A lovely, if a tad sweet alcohol made from sticky rice. You can get a bowl of 6-8% huang jiu for 1RMB, about 15¢ (and refills are commonly free, kinda like coffee only with more buzz), or a bowl of 12% for 5RMB, about 78¢. Me, I prefer the stronger, even though they charge and I usually have two bowls. The noodles are 5RMB, so this breakfast cost roughly $2.35.

What does your typical breakfast cost you?

BTW, huang jiu and having it with breakfast is most definitely a regional thing. I've lived in four provinces now and it seems only Hubei people make and enjoy huang jiu with breakfast. I'm going to have a go at it and I'll let you know whether it pans out.

#chinesefood   #iphone6   #iphoneography  
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Thanks for sharing. I would love to visit China one day.
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Drunken Crawfish
If one bowl doesn't get your buzz on...

When I landed in China back in September of 2005, the first city I lived in was Xiangfan (since renamed Xiangyang) in the Hubei province. One of the local specialties is da xia, or crawfish. A fabulously hot and spicy take on one of my favorite crustaceans. And, IMHO, better than any Cajun crawfish I've ever had.

The crawfish are cooked in oil (not boiled) and the whole dish is infused with a palette of spices and flavorings designed to tickle the palate...mainly including garlic, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, salt and a generous helping of Sichuan peppers for the requisite numbingly hot and spicy overtone.

We returned for a visit recently and...having lived in northeast China (Dalian) for the past five years where the local fare is astoundingly bland and boring...you can imagine that our mouths were watering in anticipation. However, to our dismay, our former crawfish mainstay, a true dive yet long on flavor, was long gone.

That first night we tried a place on the same street dishing out bowls for 68RMB, roughly $10. And left hugely disappointed. The next morning we went out for breakfast to a spot famous for its beef noodles. When two men sat down next to us and began busily slurping away at their bowls of noodles, we asked if they could recommend a good place.

Turned out that one was a government official, the other his driver. Our good fortune because government officials always know the best places for currying favor, or flavor as it were. As we all finished our noodles, the official offered to drive us to his favorite restaurant...a place where he said they set up 100 tables each night in an open courtyard at the corner of an intersection next to the Hanjiang River.

Since he said the place was always packed, even more so from 10pm to midnight with late night diners, we chose to arrive early, around 5:30pm, just as an army of 20 workers was setting up tables. Yes, all 100 of them, so he wasn't lying. And the kitchen wasn't open yet. Sigh.

Not to fear though...because in China, if there is one kind of business on a street, it's always surrounded by at least a dozen of the same ilk. A slow amble 20 meters down the block and we were seated and had ordered a bowl for 98RMB, or $15. Which turned out to be no better than the previous night flavor-wise and even worse since most of the crawfish were dead before they were cooked. Mealy, crumbling, disappointing.

Still hungry and by now more than a little worried about the fate of our crawfish expedition, we went back up the street to the place on the corner where the tables were now all set and the kitchen was open for business. Plopped ourselves down and ordered their 198RMB, $25 bowl of crawfish!! Opened the standard issue, plastic-wrapped set of dish, rice bowl, spoon and cup and sat there with kuaizi (chopsticks) in hand.

Twenty minutes later the bowl arrives. Cautiously, tentatively, hopefully...we suck the juices from the body, pluck out a plump tail and pop into our mouths. Gleefully, blissfully, gratefully...we beam at each other and greedily dive back into the bowl of crawfish.

We had truly arrived at crawfish heaven. Uber crawfish. Tebie hao da xia. Especially good crawfish. Our only complaint when the crawfish ran out was that we had already blunted our appetites at the previous total fail.

So, since one bowl wasn't enough that night. We went back the next night and ordered two bowls. Ate 'em all up. And again the next night. And the next. And the next. Yes, we went there five nights in a row. (I'll leave it up to you to tot up our crawfish tab for all six nights.)

That first night the army of waiters...because I'm laowai, a foreigner...alternately beamed and/or shyly smiled at us. The second night they all nudged each other, laughing and giggling. The rest of the nights they simply stared at us in utter amazement. One waiter, a girl, even came up to us the last night to ask if we weren't worried about getting doudou, pimples...from all the hot and spicy food.

To round this up and harking back to the title of my post, any specialty is going to be slightly different from place to place. We rarely go out since we both like to cook, but when we do and especially when we're traveling we both enjoy picking out, trying to detect the subtleties of flavor.

In pecking through the dregs of the bowls at this wonderful pai dang, or al fresco establishment, as well as smacking our numb lips and sucking on our hot tongues to wring out the final, lingering tones of flavor...it was obvious this place had its own signature ingredients.

One thing we puzzled over was what my wife called a poppy nut in Chinese, not seeds. Definitely nut looking. We took one with us, but I can't find it in order to show you. Yet she had a strong feeling it was somehow related to the poppy plant and, hence, perhaps some side effects. IDK.

As for the boozy crawfish, there was no doubt the chef was using bai jiu, which translates as white wine, yet it's no wine at all. Rather it's a strong liquor typically made from sorghum or maize, which tastes like an apocalyptic combination of kerosene and jet fuel. And I'm not exaggerating.

Drinking bai jiu (and smoking) drives all male encounters in China. And when they say gan bei, bottoms up, they mean it. Picture a common restaurant juice glass, say maybe 3-4 ounces. Bottoms up. Over and over. I used to participate (when in China...) out of respect and courtesy, but haven't touched a drop in, oh, 6-7 years. It's that bad.

Anywaaay, when we finished that first night, my wife said she was feeling tipsy. Like the majority of women here she doesn't really drink (or smoke) and we'd both been sucking every drop of juice out of every crawfish. I was feeling tipsy, too. As if I'd had two quick shots of tequila.

My wife's personal take on crawfish is just as good (lucky me, she hails from Hubei), but different. She's looking to tinker with her recipe now, so maybe I'll report back later before they go out of season.

In the meantime, if by chance you ever find yourself in Xiangyang, definitely go for the drunken crawfish.

#chinesefood   #iphone6   #iphoneography  
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+barqzr davi hehe...we'll see, but I'm gonna work at being a tad more plugged back in here. Looking forward to a little more interaction with old friends.
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Flying colors...the Chinese way

Yesterday, this building was deserted. The fall term starts tomorrow...and now it's not.
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Color me quirky

It's been a long time since I posted any new Chinese art, so here's a collection by Shanghai-based Wang Mojo. Hope you enjoy.

#chineseart  
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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Absolutely nothing to do with China...for a change
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I can do the "ooh, ah!", but oh, man...I wish I could whistle like that!
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Keeping priorities straight
Defense budgets worldwide...nuff said...
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 , i think you've answered your own question Jim
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Europeans...according to Chinese people

Based on Baidu (China's take on Google) auto-complete search queries, this map compiled by Foreign Policy offers a little insight into what Chinese people think, or wonder, about their neighbors to the west. You can read the complete article here: https://goo.gl/nY3r7H

Conversely, I'm curious how your Google search about China would read?
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+barqzr davi Aww, man, thanks for the flashback to ancient times and a lot of good memories. I appreciate the warm welcome back!
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Chinese countryside at 200kph
In slo-mo [240fps]

My first stab at using the slo-mo setting with my iPhone 6 during a return trip on a fast train from Xiangyan city in the Hubei province of central China to Nanjing in the Jiangsu province near the eastern seaboard.

I stitched 4-5 clips together and the final part is as you cross the Yangtse River just before entering Nanjing.

#iphone6    #iphoneography   #videography   #china  
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Work
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Straddling two cultures...an American in China since 2005
Employment
  • Cultural Ambassador, 2005 - present
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Dalian, China
Previously
Golden, CO - Heidleburg, Germany - Roswell, NM - Big Springs, TX - Snyder, TX - Midland, TX - Houston, TX - Austin, TX - Dripping Springs, TX - Xiangfan, China - Guangzhou, China
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Straddling two cultures...an American in China since 2005.
Introduction

Actually About Me...

I was a newspaper publisher and editor in a former life, where I lived for 25 years on a 50-acre slice of Texas hill country heaven, dabbled as a breeder of Arabian horses and German Short-haired Pointers and, in general, tried to let nature and light shine in.

Then, I moved to the most populated country on the planet.

I have been living in China since the fall of 2005, much longer than I originally planned. But quickly realized that one cannot adequately soak up the country, the culture, the people or the language without hanging in for the long term.

I got started on G+ as my virgin foray on a social network, not very long after G+ popped its own social network cherry. I love The Wall, but I've never posted to a wall. I know a twit when I see one, but I've never tweeted. And I've been living in the most populated country on the planet for almost eight years, so I've never been particularly motivated to get linked-in.

Content I'm interested in (no particular order):

  • China
  • Macintosh/Apple
  • iphoneography/rolling shutter
  • Photography
  • Censorship
  • Free Speech
  • Art

____________________

My Circle Management Policy
If you've found your way to my stream via a shared circle, please note the following:

  1. I no longer circle back as a simple courtesy.
  2. I'm looking for interaction, engagement – not numbers.
  3. I share primarily about China and Chinese culture.
  4. Yet, I'm not one-dimensional.

If you aren't interested in content intended to give you insight into China, perhaps even change your perspective, or engagement, then I'm probably just noise you don't need to add to your stream. If you found your way here via a search or hashtag, then chances are I might be worth your time.

Followers ≠ Readers
In the beginning, I had less than 100 followers. Now I'm creeping up on 5,000. Back then, I had a mere handful of growing relationships. Today, I can count those relationships on my hands and toes. Hence, I rather suspect that 95% of the people who circle me based on a shared circle have never even seen my stream. I'm just another grain of collective sand in the sandbox.

Readers ≠ Friends
I have no problem with people lurking – paddling by and paddling on. Hell, I do the same. Or doling out the occasional pats on the back (+1s), maybe even a high-five (re-share) and then rowing downstream. We all do that, right? But in real life, simply greeting one another occasionally doesn't a friend make.

Commenters < > Friends
I love geometry, but hate math in general, so maybe my formulas stink. Ask me if I care. But I do care about this aspect of G+ because this is how I've seen relationships grow in this community. Someone comments on my posts. Or I comment on their posts. We interact. We engage each other. And much to my amazement and gratification, I now have new friends from just about all over the globe. Simply because we did more than say hello.

___________________

Those G+ formulas above are a big, fat clue about how I manage circles. I use three basic circles...and very few specialized ones.

Read – users whose content I find interesting enough to make sure I'm current with whatever they're sharing, either daily or at least several times a week. I might lurk. I might pat on the back. I might even interact. But we're not necessarily friends and don't necessarily need to be.

Readers – users who drop by and comment often enough, via more than one word blips, will automatically be added. I will return the effort by checking out your content as often as possible. Whenever I find something engaging, I will interact with you in return. Maybe we'll become friends. Maybe not.

Friends – For whatever reason, I don't have a single real life friend who has joined G+. So, these are the people who have become my G+ buds. I see you. You see me. I enjoy you and I'm grateful for the reciprocal relationship.

Bragging rights
I know how to say fuck off in Chinese.
Education
  • University of Texas @ Austin
    Journalism
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