(A mini Chinese lesson
specially designed for
people not intending to actually
learn the language.)

Today's character is:

人, simply enough, means "person." It evolved from a rough stick figure to it's present form, which is more like a pair of legs. 人 is frequently used in compounds to make a variety of works having to do with occupations, nationality or genders. It's one of the most common words in the language.

To indicate a woman you can add a 女 (a pictograph of a pregnant woman, although much altered from it's ancient state) before 人. For a man add a 男 (a pictograph comprised of a field made of four plots and an arm bend and flexing) Simple enough.

人 is pronounced ren? (like you're asking a question)



I'm working on a painting website, also on blogger. It's at this address. I also bought rossharris.org, and will link this to the blogspot address.

Right now it's very basic, and eventually I'd like a "real" site rather than a blog. Blogger is frequently blocked in China, so I need a site name that won't be shut out.

Also, I don't think I should even list the shows I've been in or any resume since I haven't had a show in years. (Looks off, no? Maybe "resume by request?" Eh...) I'm still thinking about what I should say about myself so what's there now will change. I'd like Chinese text of my "about me" statement below my own.

Although I have older paintings I really like, I've only included my favorite paintings of this last year. I'm working on a few new ones that I'll post if I end up really liking them.

I'm ready to start showing these new paintings somewhere. I've been sitting on it for a while and I feel like I need feedback and to see my paintings under fresh light. I'll be e-mailing and visiting galleries soon. (I met a gallery owner in 798 months ago... what was his name?)

I could have got dates/show information wrong, so let me know about that. Feedback is appreciated!


This is a piecemeal account of something a student told me today. Apparently it's from a Chinese movie.


A handsome (but not too bright) Chinese fighter and an English woman fall for one another. They have an affair in China. The English woman tells the fighter "I love you," which he cannot understand, and returns to England. Immediately after this, the Chinese fighter asks a friend who studies English: "What does 'I love you' mean?" Because she is jealous of this admission, she tells him "It means 'hello.'" The fighter isn't satisfied with this answer and he asks another friend. The friend tells him: "Maybe she was speaking Chinese?" Left with no other option the fighter translates the English woman's phrase into the only possible meaning he can think of:

爱老虎油 (ai4 lao3 hu2 you2)

The meaning: I love tiger oil. The fighter wonders aloud, "why does she love tiger oil and why did she tell me this?"



Sunday the crew went to 八大处 (Badachu) near the Western Hills northeast of the city. It was the first real warm day of the season so we were happy to shed our sweaters.

We had a great time, although the park's temples themselves are really not too amazing. (It's nothing compared to nearby temples such as 碧云寺 (biyunsi) or the summer palace.) Still, lots of hiking around, bottles of water, tacky temples, crappy carnival games and, eventually, careening down a mountain in a rickety bobsled cart. Fun!


Icy face.

Ariel, Silvia and new friend, Leon

Baby chicks brought out to play. Property of an adorable little girl.

Silvia is dazzled by the red lantern tree. Written on the lantern are tons of wishes, mostly having to do with entrance exams or good health.

The entrance to a major temple. Two Chinese favorites: fake flowers and fu dogs.

An amazing stone carving made only a couple of years ago. Covered with illustrations of the Buddhist arhats.

A very, very dirty bounce house.

Statues left in a smaller, more impressive temple.

A recently repainted old temple. Traditionally, temples should be repainted every 10 years.


Things are happening.

Chinese are talking about Ti bet, but not in any major way. Most of my students think what's happening is wrong, but believe they don't have the resources or ability to do anything about it. Ti bet, even after it was no longer an independent kingdom has always been considered far and remote for most Chinese. People who live in nearby Sichuan province have far more experiences with Ti bet ans, and maybe I'd feel more angry reactions if I were there. To the average Beijinger, news on the conflict came very late and was heavily opinionated. On CCTV9 they called it the "La ma clique separatist movement" and voiced that the Ti bet an people were being misled. I think most people believe this to a degree, but also view the Ti bet an plight sympathetically.

Due to all this and more, the Olympic torch was extinguished many times on route through Europe with thousands of protesters. Now that the torch is coming to San Francisco, there will be many more. Mainland Chinese are mostly unaware of this, and the reporting on the torch relay is totally positive with smiling faces and interviews with happy athletes. Even Hilary is calling for a presidential boycott of the opening ceremony, but I'm sure Chinese don't know this.

Like anything, this is complicated. I understand the anger, but I also see how excited and prepared Beijing and the Chinese are. Most mainlanders are totally unaware of what really happens in China, and they may not understand anti-China protests. Many cannot separate people that are anti-Chinese government vs. anti-Chinese. I've had Chinese ask me, "why do Westerners fear China?" or "we are a poor country, so why are we a threat?," etc.

Truth be told, the 百姓 (common people) ARE poor and have almost zero control over anything in government, so using the Olympics as protest is a way to give voices to the voiceless. However, a total boycott (not just the boycotting of the opening ceremony) will harm the potentially vital relationship between China and the Western world. It's true that China has a million problems, but the progress that's been made is astounding. Millions of Chinese died from the worst famine in history, horrific cultural cleansing and terrible misguided policy in this century. To see a China where things are beginning to drastically change is beyond impressive and important to note. You cannot compare China's human rights, politics, etc. on equal footing with Germany or America or France; it's unfair and impossible. The West is 40+ years ahead in development and China just recently showed up at at the race. More time is needed to see a fairer, more democratic China.

(To avoid my blog getting shut down, if you post about Ti bet, leave a space between or use a different spelling, like Teebet.)

Camel jerky from Xinjiang province. Bought in a store that specializes in things from that region. So far, not eaten.