October 19, 2008

Interlude: Voting & Baseball (and Pizza)

 (We interrupt this stream of Tibet-related posts to bring you news of how to be American while overseas. I'll return to the pictures momentarily ...

So many things are new to me in China, and absentee balloting is one of them. Thankfully though my 100% offical 2008 Election ballot is on the way to the early voting clerk in Austin TX. That's right -- I voted like 3 weeks early. So if it turns out that one of my chosen candidates is, like, a child-murderer, then, well, I'm kinda screwed. I wonder if you can rescind an early vote? (Probably not -- it's probably like early admission to colleges, where if you get accepted then you have to attend. Speaking of which, I've always wondered how they enforce that, and what if any penalties a school will levy if you back out.)

There's a nearby FedEx branch that participates in a program called Express Your Vote, which any American citizen can Express-Mail (hah!) their vote to the US for free. So that's what I did.

My Chinese colleagues are fascinated by the voting process and we've talked a lot about it. I showed them the ballot -- most of them asked me who the hell Bob Barr was and what the "Write-In" blank was for. Good times. They were also unaware of the congressional elections going on and the various local Austin elections I am allowed to vote in, so I filled them in on all that. (Luckily no one asked me what a county tax-assessor is. I would have said "Um, the person who does something with driver's licenses?") They asked me how my identity is verified when I'm overseas and the possibilities of switching your vote to count for another state to try and game the system. Fun.

The time zone differences mean that I'll be at work on Wednesday morning while the election night results are being tallied. I bet that some places over here will broadcast the results-tallying live in the way that sports bars broadcast major American sporting events at the odd hours required by the time zone differences.

Speaking of which, so far I've managed to see Games 1, 2, and 6 (ugh, sad that even had to be necessary) of the ALCS via the magic of satellite TV. However it means I haven't been getting much sleep on the weekends, because the games air at like 8 AM over here. For Game 1, Dan and I headed out to a sports bar in Puxi and ate what turned out to be a decent, but not great, attempt at a Western breakfast. (Neither country can get the other's food right.) There's something weird about being in a bar at 8 AM though, but hey, I'm not drinking or anything. 

The next day Dan found out he gets the games on his satellite TV, and since he lives really close to me, that's how we watched Games 2 and 6. It's even better because he's rooting for the Sox and I'm rooting for the Rays -- although only so I'll have a reason to care about the at-bats. My heart lies with the O's. Regardless of who makes it to the Series, I'll probably root for the Phillies. Not sure though.

After watching Game 2 last Sunday, Dan and I headed to a place called Bubba's out in northwest Shanghai. Bubba's is a BBQ joint run by a Texan, an Austinite no less. They have good old-fashioned BBQ to eat and a nice little sports bar thing going on, a hearty slice of America right in the middle of China. It's fun. They also re-broadcast sports games, so last Sunday I saw UT kick OU's ass in the most recent Red River Rivalry ("Shootout" was such a better noun.) I'm not the world's biggest UT or college football fan, but I make my non-China home in Austin so the game was interesting enough. 

They have chili cook-offs there every year too, which is pretty great. I hope that people add spices from Sichuan and Hunan. And they sell T-shirts that say "Bubba's: A Few Miles West of Austin" :-) So, so true.

Another bit on American/Chinese stuff: I ordered a pizza last week with sausage and green peppers. Outside of ham & pineapple, those probably are my favorite pizza toppings.

So the pizza comes, and it's got, like, a few strands of green pepper slices on it. Fine. But the killer was that it didn't have sausage on it. It had friggin hot dog slices. Inexcusable. I don't know if that's, like, the common way to translate "sausage". Maybe I'll try again next week and see if I get the same thing, haha.

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