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A story for the regulars.

by RustyDallas / October 17, 2007 10:26 AM PDT

I don't know if you guys ever wondered what home electronics would cost if you could just get closer to the source, but I have. As you know, what I lack in homr theater knowledge, I can more than make up for in cheapness. So, a few weeks ago, I was in Shanghai on business and decided to go check out prices on home theater stuff and see if I could find any bargains. We had been on a tour that day and I told our guide what I was looking for. She assured me that she knew of a huge place to shop for such things and it wasn't very far from my hotel. She wrote down the name of the place and directions in Chinese for me to give to the taxi driver and, later that night, off I went. Shanghai is a totally gridlocked city of 22 million people and even though the great electronics miracle I was heading to was only 4-5 miles away, getting there took about 1/2 hour. Even that travel time is only possible because the cab drivers are near suicidal. I can only describe their driving style as that of a running back looking for a whole in the line. They just sort of look for open spaces and hit the gas. In fact, the left turn accross 4 lanes of traffic that we frequently had to make to get into our hotel became known as "the left turn of death". So anyway, after 1/2 hour of the fight for survival known as a cab ride was finally over, the driver at last pulled up in front of the great consumer electronics store that the tour guide knew would knock my socks off. That's right. You guessed it. I was at Best Buy! I'm not even going to go into the story about getting home but it inviolved outrunning small Asian women to cabs and Taxi drivers that didn't know the name of my hotel in English.

After currency exchange, the prices were about the same as here which I suppose confirms what some of you already believe but I refuse to accept, that there is such thing as being too cheap.


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by Dan Filice / October 17, 2007 10:36 AM PDT

That story IS funny! My only dealings with Shanghai involved ordering DVDs from EBay, which sadly were counterfeit copies made there. I thought I was getting a good price on Harry Potter DVDs. They showed up with perfect light-scribed or silk-screened graphics on the DVD, but no packaging, just flat color-copies of the original DVD label that's folded over the disk and sealed in clear plastic. But boy, you can sure tell that they were copies. The pixelization and extra compression caused by DVD copy programs made them look terrible. Lesson learned.

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(NT) Agreed; good one Rusty
by NM_Bill / October 17, 2007 11:20 AM PDT
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Haven't you heard..
by ahtoi / October 17, 2007 1:30 PM PDT

Not to long ago I heard a European city was doing the same thing..they got rid of all the signal lights. For some strange reason, the city father felt the traffic flow will be better without controls (obviously they never been to China, hehe).

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Ever been to Mexico City?
by Coryphaeus / October 17, 2007 1:34 PM PDT

I spent six months there as a telecom consultant. Traffic facts:

Traffic signals and stop signs are only suggestions.

You can actually get five cars side by side in a three lane road.

A single left turn lane will hold two cars side by side.

If you turn in front of a cop you'll get the finger from the cop.

If you get stopped by a cop a hundred dollars US will take care of it.

There are more VWs than any other place in the world.

I didn't drive but I watched and my driver participated.

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Yep, I've been there a number of times
by RustyDallas / October 17, 2007 11:43 PM PDT

and until this experience, I used to think their driving was pretty remarkable too but Mexico City's cabbies can't compete with these guys. Shanghai is even more people in a lot less space and the roads are much more grid locked. You would think that anyone who drives like these guys would have to be acting out some sort of pathological road rage but they always have a big smile on their face. On top of that, only 1 in 5 people in Shanghai have cars the rest are on foot, bike and Moped. Part of the challenge is avoiding the pedestrians. That same tour guide said the government doesn't release the statistics but that it is rumored that 5-6 people are hit by cars and killed a day there. They are going to have to quadruple deck their roads to accommodate everyone if people keep buying cars. Side note, I was always impressed with VW's market share in Mexico too but you know what probably 10% of the cars in Shanghai were? Buicks. If there are that many Buicks in the rest of the country, it's got to be easily the biggest Buick market in the world. The city is built completely vertical. Allmost no single family homes but hundreds of high rise condos. Makes Manhatten look very small and apparently most of it has been accomplished in the 18 years since they adopted capitalism. We were told that at one time in the process, over half of all the cranes in the world were in Shanghai and the sky is still full of them.


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thats hilarious!
by jostenmeat / October 18, 2007 3:22 AM PDT

and I love that line: ... "that there is such thing as being too cheap"... heheh

Well, I've been to lets see 4 countries in Asia, most of which were rather "civilized" transportation-wise, except maybe Malaysia. Right, the whole moped thing. You see families of 4, even 5 on a single moped. Baby will be in front, with a hooded shirt on backwards so it can completely cover face, haha. Still, for me, the craziest driving I've ever seen was in Naples Italy. People say Rome is supposed to be crazy, but from what I saw, Naples makes Rome look like Germany. The traffic lights are not for suggestion; they are a pure waste of electricity. A few do think of them as nice decorative effects, Christmas lights if you will. They mean absolutely nothing, except maaaybe if a cop is there (and even then)... But, never been to Mexico City or Shanghai!

okie-dokie, *ahem, drum-roll please........*,

It's Time for Jostenmeat's Joke of the DAaayyy!!

Q: How do New York cabbies use all four of their appendages to drive?!

A: Right foot on the gas, left foot on the brakes, right hand on the wheel, and left hand giving everyone else the finger!!

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Buicks & China
by NM_Bill / October 18, 2007 2:44 PM PDT

Good old GM (General Motors) takes what market sales they can get. Perhaps admiration for American things of large size, but GM manages to sell 200,000 some Buicks in the U.S.A. but 300,000 some Buicks in China per year. In recent decades perhaps they have overlooked what or rather where their market is.

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by bevillan / October 18, 2007 1:11 AM PDT

Thank God we live in the USA where you don't have to drive like maniac to get anywhere.

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Then why are there so many who apparently regard driving
by NM_Bill / October 18, 2007 2:47 PM PDT
In reply to: USA!

(with cell phone plastered to ear, of course) as a competitive display?

I've given up with my astonished attitude as today I was running errands & the cop cars don't bother using turn signals. Hence, the bumper sticker "May I top off your blinker fluid?"

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Ooops...Uh're talking about me.
by RustyDallas / October 19, 2007 8:27 AM PDT

LOL...You're statement is almost psychic. Last weekend a cop pulled me over while I was talking on my cell while driving and told me I had committed 4 traffic violations. 1) no license plate on the front which I didn't know was required and I didn't think the county gave me. Later, I found it in my trunk. 2) and 3) Failed to signal two turns. 4) driver inattention. I asked him if it was illegal in Texas to talk on a cell phone and he said no but it turns out there's a loop hole. If you are talking on a cell phone while committing a moving violation they can write you up for driver inattention in addition to the moving violation ticket. He ran my license and came back without his ticket book so I didn't go into my normal sarchastic routine. He let me off with a warning for all of it but I noticed through my rear view that as he changed two lanes to get behind me, he didn't signal either. I was going to ask him for his ticket book when he was done so I could write him two citizens citations for his moving violations had he written my tickets.

Now I see that I am the kind of menace that annoys you and I'm so ashamed. Does this mean I have to stop making fun of Chinese taxi drivers?


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Being retired but having logged around a million miles, I
by NM_Bill / October 19, 2007 1:54 PM PDT

regard the highways are inherently hazardous. Inattention comes easily so the cell phone plastered to the side of the head while driving just makes me cringe. I guess I have a bit more time to get around than those still grinding the axe trying to make a living. But then, refusing to be a tailgater leaves me ripe for all those frequent lane changers to cut in on. Actually I feel drafting is best left to Nascar drivers.

I do wish those a bit younger than me should read some academic studies saying multitasking is much less productive than practitioners feel it is. Yes, multitasking often comes about from the nearly universal practice of trimming staffing & its resulting combining of formerly two or three or more former staffers reports, etc. to be performed now by one.

I spent years having 15 job related tasks on my mind daily. Looking back, I feel I handled it remarkably well. In retirement, advancing age does take its toll. When out for two of three errands, I usually arrive home to realize I completely blew off one from completing along the way.

A tip for Rusty: Slow down for your health. I was stupid enough to allow the job to give me a heart attack at 48. Poetic justice should have rendered a couple of heart attacks for those who makes things harder than they need be, rather than me. One of my main realized advantages now is to just walk around nearly all of the a-holes I used to have to contend with at work. Life is too short for that or cheap beer.

Perhaps me most unpredicted retirement obstacle was the price of veterinary care. They play on your affection for the pet. I have changed course & now let the vets know rather than over treating the canine family member, I will leave that to common sense as I don't indulge in several of those courses of over treatment for myself, let along the dogs. At least I have some medical coverage for myself. Those getting dogs, etc. to be treasured should favorably consider medical insurance for the pet. I have two dogs & it seems they each cost a grand a year in vet bills.

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You haven't driven in Vegas
by kcfvegas / October 19, 2007 4:40 PM PDT
In reply to: USA!

Now I know where a lot of the drivers in Las Vegas come from! I have never see such a bunch of crazy drivers in my life. For example, for most of us a traffic light means green = go, yellow = caution, red = stop. But in Vegas green means go, yellow means go faster, and red means what the hell, I'm close enough to the intersection so I can just keep going.

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driving in Vegas?!
by jostenmeat / October 20, 2007 2:02 AM PDT

"Offest Honester, Im Sotally Tober!"

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