College Admission Test (CAT) in China

The reason why I’m writing about CAT is that my nephew will take this test in June. I can’t believe this little boy is now going to college, just like me 25 years ago. BTW, today, March 8th, is his birthday.

The formal CAT started in 1952, but was interrupted during the Cultural Revolution. In 1977, Chairman Deng Xiaoping announced that CAT was back. At the beginning, it seemed to be fair and efficient, and it changed so many young “intellectual’s” life.

To me, the CAT was a bitter memory. I had been ranked in the top three of my class in all tests but this one. The fate of all high school students is determined by this single test. If they considered something like the GPA, I would have gone to my favorite university.

Some people may ask if it would a good idea that we apply the U.S. admission system in China, i.e. let students send applications to different schools and give the schools the freedom of selecting students not just based on a single test. In the U.S, universities favor those students who have achievements in sports or other specialties, or being a student leader, etc. If we do the same in China, it may be good for kids who live in the city. But for those who are from the rural and less developed areas, it would make it harder for them to get into a good school. So in a way, the CAT is more fair. Personally, I think it would be better if the students could take two or three tests at different times, and have a weighted average score based on these tests.

High school education in China had gone too far and put way too much pressure on those kids. The daily routines of my nephew is to go to school at 7am, and come home at about 9pm. Usually he cannot go to bed until after mid-night, because of excessive homework. And on top of that, he has to attend weekend classes in school. He told me a few weeks ago that he would have collapsed if not for the short winter break. If you ask recent immigrants from China why they came to the United States, they will probably tell you it was for better education of their children, as they don’t want their kids to suffer from the pressure in Chinese schools.

Anyway, I just want to wish my nephew good luck, and hope he will go to his favorite college in September!


2010 Trip to Struer, Denmark

In 2010, Ericsson decided to close the office in Struer, Denmark, and move those jobs to Italy and Beijing. I was one of the job receivers from Beijing, and I stayed in Struer for two and a half months together with my Chinese and Italian colleagues.

Most people probably never heard about Struer, but you probably heard about Bang & Olufsen or B&O, which makes luxurious speakers and home theatre systems. Their global headquarter is in Struer, a city with a population of only 10,000 people.

Most of the Chinese engineers were from my former team, in which I was the technical leader. We stayed in the Grand Hotel of Struer, which was the only hotel in that small city. The owner of the hotel turned one of the rooms into a simple kitchen, so we could cook our meals there. We had so much fun cooking, playing card games, and traveling together (in our spare time of course), etc. In fact, we have been talking about going back to Struer some time for a reunion, but I doubt if that will happen.

I was so impressed by the professionalism of those Danish colleagues. Before we arrived there, we were expecting to see cold faces on frustrated Danish colleagues, as they were going to lose their jobs. However, they were all very friendly and positive, and did all they could to ensure a smooth transition of the jobs. Nobody seemed to be unhappy being laid off. My Danish counterpart was actually very happy about it, as he found a new job as a Math teacher in a local high school. He said he always wanted to be a teacher, and his dream finally came true. His name was “Per Fack”, and I always tried not to say his last name as it was a little embarrassing…

Some people may remember the volcano eruptions in Iceland in 2010. And yes, that happened right when I was in Struer. One of my colleagues was on a flight from Beijing to Copenhagen, and she was told they had to land in Warsaw, Poland instead. The Polish president Lech Kaczyński was just killed in a plane crash in Russia, so my colleague arrived during the state funeral of the president. She was later sent from Warsaw to Copenhagen all the way by bus, and then took a five hours’ train ride to Struer. When she finally arrived, we all joked and called her “the Polish girl”. It was supposed to be a three-day business trip for her, but as all flights were cancelled, she was stuck there for weeks. During the same time, our Italian colleagues had to rent a bus to travel between Denmark and Italy on weekends (12 hours each way…).

Two and a half months went by fast, and we had to return to China. However, we lost a person in our team. One of the girls fell in love with a Danish guy during this trip, and stayed there permanently. But it is also a big accomplishment, isn’t it?

You may ask if I met any gay friends during this trip, and of course I did. One of them was Kai, who was a little strange, but a very nice person. He lived in a nearby city named Skive, and I took the train to meet him there. The first trip just lasted a few of hours. He showed me around by his car, which was really nice. When I was on the train to go back to Struer, he was standing on the railway platform and started crying like his long time friend is leaving forever… A couple of weeks later, I visited him again, and this time, he asked me to visit his boyfriend’s family and stay overnight. Before going there, we stayed in his house for a short time. After him showing me the house, we sat down in the living room and started chatting. I was so shocked when he asked if I wanted to watch some gay porn with him, but I was glad he didn’t turn it on after I told him no… Later, we were at his boyfriend’s house, and we had a nice dinner with his boyfriend and his teenage daughter and son. When it was bed time, I was expecting there would be a guest bedroom for me, but they said no and asked me to sleep on the same bed with them… I had no choice but to accept it. Then they said it would be impolite to let a guest to sleep on the side, so I squeezed in the middle of the bed, between two Danish guys… Not to my surprise, the two guys started stripping and making out on the bed… I had never been in such awkward situation, and I yelled out “Guys! Sorry to interrupt you, but please, do you have some extra blanket? I want to sleep on the floor…” Kai looked at me innocently, and said “It’s not good sleeping on the floor. Are you sure you can’t sleep like this?” “Not with a shaking bed!” I said. I finally got to sleep on the floor, but still having nightmares of being “sandwich meat”…

Some Chinese Swear Words

When I was younger, I had always been a good boy, and never used any swear words.

Like in English, most Chinese swear words have some sexual indications, similar to fxxk, cxxt, etc. As an innocent boy, I didn’t even know what they meant. To me, they were just dirty, and only bad boys would use them. One of the magic words is “他妈的” (Tar Mar De), which literally means “his mother’s (cxxt is omitted here)”. Just like the magic English word “fxxk”, this one can be added to any part of a sentence. I once heard two boys yelling at each other on the street, and they used “他妈的” more than ten times in just one minute. So I decided to keep away from them, because I didn’t want to be poisoned.

When Chinese parents are mad at their kids, they often use the expression of “不是人肏的” (boo sher djen tsau der). Once I did something wrong, and my mom was mad at me. I wanted to apologize and said to her “Mom, I will never do it again. Otherwise ‘我(means I, myself)不是人肏的’”. When she heard that, she got even more angry, as it literally means “I was not made by humans”, which is similar to the English term “son of a bitch”. I had no idea why my mom got so angry, as that was what she would have called me every time she was mad at me… I was so confused, and wanted somebody to explain to me why. So later I told one of my teachers this story, but she just kept laughing and laughing…

Years later, I realized using swear words wisely didn’t make me a bad guy at all, so I adopted them too. At the beginning, it seemed to be a little harsh, but as time went on, it became more and more natural. We had a high school reunion several years after our graduation. When I was talking, one of my friends looked at me strangely and said “Wow, I could never imagine that perfect boy in high school using swear words! But I’m glad you are finally a “normal” person…”

Some swear words are milder than others. One example is “我操” (wo tsau), which means “I fxxk” or with a better translation as “what the fxxk”. In a 1990’s Chinese movie, a comedian from Hong Kong created an even more gentle version by changing the pronunciation of second syllable slightly, so it became “我靠” (wo kau). Nowadays, you hear the second version much more often. There’s a funny story (may not be true), but it would be interesting to tell. In 1990, the Asian Games was hosted in Beijing. During the competition, a Chinese weightlifter said “我操” when he attempted to lift the barbells, as it was a little heavier than he expected, but he managed to lift it. A Japanese journalist was curious and asked his Chinese colleague what that weightlifter said. His colleague thought it was kind of shameful, so he told the Japanese guy it was just to cheer him up. Then the Japanese guy told the Japanese spectators about it, so when a Japanese weightlifter went on the stage, “wo cau, wo cau…” could be heard all over the stadium.

Well, that’s all for today, my friends. I don’t want turn you into bad boys or girls… LOL

Falling in Love with Howard

As I mentioned before, Howard and I met on silverdaddies (A gay dating website). Something interesting was, Howard was not looking for a son, and I was not looking for a daddy, but we found each other on that website…

Howard said he contacted the web master, and they told him I was the one who sent the first message on October 6th, 2010 (Yes, ten years ago, today). I couldn’t remember what I said, but it was most probably just showing my sympathy, as he mentioned in his profile that he lost his partner in 1987, and had been alone since then. He then wanted to do video chat with me. After exchanging several emails, I finally got him on Skype.

The first time Howard’s face appeared on Skype, I thought “oh my god, he is so cute!”. Howard thought I was handsome too, and he especially loved my neck, as it was long and I looked like a swan… To be honest, I had never been proud of my long neck, and that really flattered me. After chatting for a while, he paused, and seemed to be a little nervous. Then he started speaking, with his signature “trembling voice”, “Yi, listen, I am seriously looking for a life partner, and I want you to be the one…” I was stunned, because my expectation was just having another online friend, but I didn’t want to make him disappointed, so I replied “We can try and see what happens…”

And from that day, we talked every single day for four years until I moved to Provincetown. An interesting story was, one day (my night time), he wasn’t on Skype, and didn’t answer my phone calls either. I also didn’t get any emails from him telling me he would not be available for chatting. I was panicked, fearing that he might be laying on the floor unconscious, I called several of his neighbors and even the Provincetown police, hoping someone could go and check on him… He finally called me an hour later, and it turned out that Gerry (his best friend who had dementia and Howard was taking care of him) had a medical emergency, and he left his cell phone at home…

After chatting for a few months on Skype, Howard asked me to apply for a U.S. visa and visit him in Provincetown. To my surprise, I got the visa without any issues. I guess it was because I already travelled to Europe so many times, and I even had a few long term work and resident permit of Sweden. Three days after I got the visa, my boss (from Ericsson) asked me if I had a valid U.S. visa. I said yes, and asked him why. He said my company was launching a global program to encourage innovations, and they wanted to send me to Palo Alto, California, to participate in a workshop, and then I would be assigned as the representative of the program in our Beijing office. When I told Howard I would be travelling to California in about two weeks, he was very excited. When he talked to his friend Kathy (Fair) about my trip, she convinced him to fly to California to meet me there. His flight arrived in San Francisco about an hour before mine, and he was trying to find the terminal that I would be arriving at. He saw a guy in uniform coming out of the terminal, and asked whether he knew if the flight from Beijing was at the same terminal. That guy answered, “Yes, I’m pretty sure that flight arrived in this terminal, as I was the pilot…” The funny thing was, when I saw Howard in person for the first time, my first impression was “Oh my! He is so short…” And Howard’s first impression about me was “God, he is a giant!” (Howard was 5’4″, and I’m 5’9″)

Our first date was great, and we fell in love since then. There were a couple of interesting stories to share. As I had travel allowance from my company, I paid all the costs except for Howard’s airfare. When I paid for our drinks in a coffee shop, a young Indian cashier, who looked pretty gay, gave Howard a real dirty look. He probably thought older guys should always pay the bills… The workshop only lasted two days. On the third day, my colleagues wanted me to visit our office in San Jose. One of them volunteered to be my driver, and when I asked him if he could take “my friend” Howard too, he agreed. On our way, he got on the nerve and asked “How, did you guys, eh, meet each other?” “We just met online and became friends…” I answered. I could see the strange look on that guy’s face…

Two months after this trip, I made my first trip to Provincetown. Howard couldn’t drive (because of a phobia), so he had his friend David Nawoj to take us home. I fell in love with Provincetown immediately. Since then, I visited Howard three times a year in Provincetown, until we started the immigration process. During one of the trips, Howard took me to the bike trail. We stopped at one point, and he used some stones to make two heart shapes on the sand. He pointed to the clouds in the sky and said “Yi, when I first came to Provincetown, I thought one day, I would be living here. And trust me, one day, you will be living here too. Provincetown has the magic, and she has chosen you.” And Howard was right, Provincetown does have the magic, and I’m still living here…

This was how we fell in love with each other. I’ll talk about the immigration process in another post.

How I Learned to Cook

Most of my friends know that I love cooking, especially Chinese food. I’m not a professional cook, but my food is good enough for a dinner party with friends.

I remember the first time I tried to cook was when I was about ten years old. I told my mom that I wanted to make eggs and tomatoes stir fry. It turned out the tomatoes were only half cooked, and my mom would not let me cook any more…

I didn’t have to cook again until years later, when I was on my first trip to Sweden (I was still living with my parents then). The first meal I tried to make during that trip was stir fried onions and pork. I used too much oil in that dish, and it was so greasy… I have to say it was better than the eggs and tomatoes I made when I was ten years old, because at least the onions were not just half cooked… I also tried to buy frozen food from a nearby supermarket, but hated them. So I was kind of forced to learn to cook, and started searching for recipes and doing experiments. Those food I made weren’t great, but I survived being alone for two months.

I bought a condo in 2007, and started living alone in Beijing. I made good money with my job, and with that income, I could afford to eat in restaurants all the time. However, it would not be a healthy lifestyle, so I cooked for myself now and then. After a few years, I could already make some pretty delicious dishes, with chicken, fish, etc. In early 2010, I stayed in Struer, Denmark for about three months, with some of my Chinese colleagues. During that time, we often cooked together, and my colleagues were pretty impressed about some of the food I made. It was also during that time that I first tried to make dumplings on my own.

At the end of 2014, I moved to Provincetown. Howard was too lazy to cook dinners, so every time he went to Stop & Shop, he would buy tons of frozen food. I always wondered if it had something to do with his cancer. I told Howard he would have to eat no more frozen food since I was here. YouTube was a great teacher, and I learned most of my cooking from those videos.

I really love cooking, and I feel great when my family and friends make good comments on the food I made. I was glad that Howard enjoyed my food, and now, it is Greg’s turn…

Those Managers in Ericsson

Because of the reorganizations, during the nine years I worked in Ericsson, my managers changed constantly. I also worked with some other project or line managers. There were good and bad memories.

XY.P. was my first manager. She was THE MOST hardworking person I have ever met. To a lot of people, it was not easy to work with her, as she had set a very high standard. But she always led by example, and treated her staff really well. She was diagnosed with throat cancer later, but luckily, got a complete remission. She then realized it was more important being healthy, so she quit her job and returned to California to stay with her family.

K.L. was the second manager of mine. She was my team leader when I first joined Ericsson, and was promoted to a line manager later. She was a nice person, and was also pretty hardworking. Other than that, I just can’t think of anything good of her as a manager. She had not written a single line of code (of commercial products) before she got this position as a line manager of a software team. She wouldn’t take any risks, and trust me, it was not always a good thing. I remember that she constantly asked people “Are you a hundred percent sure? Ninety nine percent is not OK”. She also tried to micromanage everything. At the end of one of my business trips to Sweden, she called me on my cell phone when I was on my way to the airport in Stockholm. It was because there were some urgent customer requests on the product I worked before. She was so nervous (because of the pressure from the customer) and asked me to go to our office immediately when I returned to Beijing. Then she started reading the customer’s requirements (some new features they wanted in the product), and tried to explain to me what they meant. I did not need her explanations at all, as I knew that product so well, and also not everything she said was correct. I asked her to calm down and told her we could talk when I arrived in Beijing, but she just went on and on and talked for about half an hour. That single phone call costed more than 30 dollars and was just a waste of time and money. Later, she made some significant mistakes when she was under pressure, which led to her demotion.

JH.L. was a project manager I worked with. He was a real jerk, and working with him was a nightmare. His project required us to travel to the city of Weifang constantly. Because there were very few flights from Beijing to Weifang, we had to stop in Tsingtao and have a taxi to transfer us there. Before one of my trips, I have already found a taxi driver who would pick me up, and he was only asking for about 50 dollars. However, JH.L asked me to use another driver he had arranged, and that costed more money. I couldn’t believe that when I arrived, JH.L was taking some cash from the driver and put it into his own pocket. Ericsson paid this guy more than 100,000 dollars a year, and yet he was taking advantage of a taxi driver… A few years later, he volunteered to be laid off and got a big package from Ericsson…

S.S. was the replacement of K.L. after she was demoted. He was overall a good manager. He was very good to me, and our team grew bigger and bigger under his management. However, he was not tough enough, especially when he was competing with other managers. Also his English was acceptable, but not good enough, which limited his chances of promotions in an international company. I don’t remember how many times I was asked to help him (also K.L. and some others) to correct the errors in his (and other managers’) emails to his bosses.

XR.L. was the manager of the project manager office in our department. She was the one I mentioned in another post, who made two of my two team members very upset. To be honest, she was not a bad manager, but was just so good at playing office politics. She was also a strong believer that project managers did not have to know about the technologies. One of the new project managers was reading some technical documents related to his project. She saw it and told him to stop. When this guy asked her how he could communicate with the engineers if he didn’t know what they were talking about, she told him that the only thing he had to do is to keep the project on time and on budget.

Ericsson used to be a great engineer-oriented company, but over the years, this engineering culture disappeared. More and more managers, especially in China, knew very little about the technologies. I could accept it if they did not interfere with the engineer’s work, but some of them were just so annoying. C.S. and Y.H. were two of them. They were not my managers, thankfully. I was having a meeting with their team and had to explain some customer requirements to them. They kept interrupting me and asked what this means and what that means, which was common knowledge that all the engineers already knew. So when it came to the last item of the requirements, I said to them “The following item is beyond what you could understand. I don’t think you two need to know what I’m going to explain here as long as it is clear to the engineers.” I could see their faces turning blue, but I didn’t think I was the first person who had said that to them.

I also worked with F.L. She also was not an expert of technology, but was still a great manager, as she knew how to delegate. Working with her was a pleasure, and she got everything right to the point.

The managers in Ericsson were also very keen on showing off how good their teams were. It was understandable, but sometimes it just had gone too far. Every time a project finished, they would send out emails telling everyone (especially their bosses) that their teams had made great contributions. If you look into the details, they probably only executed one test case (out of two thousand) for the project, which was not even designed by them.

J.S. was my boss when I was in the Systems and Technology team. He was an outstanding manager, and had solid technical background, which was very rare in Ericsson (in China). It was so comfortable working with him, and all our team members liked him. Unfortunately, he does not like playing office politics, otherwise he would have been in a much higher position.

My last manager in Ericsson was K.L. again. After her demotion, she got another opportunity and became the manager of a small team working on CI (Continuous Integration, a software engineering term). The last reorganization I went through had a big impact on me. The product I was working on was transferred to another country, so I had to find a new team. The System and Technology team of another department wanted to have me, but they did not have a headcount. So K.L. offered a headcount of hers to that team, so I could work in that team but she hoped I could “help” her CI team “sometimes”. Obviously the System and Technology team could not get a new headcount, so K.L. finally asked me if I could work for her full time. I accepted immediately as Howard and I already started planning on our marriage, and I knew it wouldn’t be long until I leave Ericsson. Most my colleagues were shocked about my decision, as it seemed to be an odd move… Even K.L. herself couldn’t believe I just accepted her offer so easily.

I left Ericsson at the beginning of September 2014, almost four months before I moved to Provincetown. I quit my job early as I was not at my best. My father’s death, and the torture of the immigration process just got me down.

The Unspoken Rules

So many times in my life, I was affected by the “unspoken rules”, and didn’t get what I deserved. But to look on the bright side, I wouldn’t have been my current self if those things didn’t happen…

The first time was during the last year I was in elementary school, which I already mentioned in another post (see “Being a Leader, My School Years and After“). I was demoted from a higher ranked student leader position to a lower and non-important one, just because I didn’t have Beijing “Hukou” (See Hukou“), so I had to give the position to another student who could benefit from it.

When I was in high school, there was a “Genius Class” in my grade. At the end of each semester, there was an exam that all the students had to take, then we would be ranked by our scores from the highest to the lowest, and those who from that class usually took over the top 20. I was one of the best from other “regular” classes, and my rank was usually between 20 and 40. However, I did exceptionally good in one of those exams. As soon as my total score came out, a classmate of mine checked with other classes, and I was the number one. I was so excited, as being number one in one of the best high schools in Beijing was a great honor. However, when they made the formal announcement, I became number two. A student from the “Genius Class” just got one more point than me. It turned out that one of his teachers changed his score and added two points for him after he learned mine. So the “unspoken rule” here was that no one from a regular class could be the number one… The guy who changed his score even came to me and said I was “a fish that slipped through the net”, meaning that I should have been put in that “Genius Class”. To be honest, I still hate that guy, because he took away the greatest honor I could have in high school.

The third time was when I entered college, which I also talked about it in the post “Being a Leader, My School Years and After“. Some of my classmates’ parents bribed someone in my school, and took the student leadership position which was supposed to be mine. To be honest, I didn’t really care about it, as I did not have a plan to pursue a higher degree abroad after college, and not being a student leader wouldn’t stop me from getting a good job.

I experienced more such rules when I entered the corporate world, especially in Ericsson. I guess there’s a “glass ceiling” for Chinese people working in either American or European companies in China, but at least this ceiling is higher in an American company than a European one, especially in the Research and Development sections of an IT company. It is common to see top level R&D Chinese managers in an American company, but in Ericsson, at least when I was there, there were almost none. Ericsson tended to put only insignificant R&D jobs in China, i.e. people in Sweden or the USA (as Ericsson acquired several American companies over the years) make decisions on the products, while Chinese employees just had to do the implementation and most of times, maintenance only. They wanted the higher level managers to have a “root” in Sweden or the USA, so they will not try to move those important jobs to China.

I have gone through several reorganizations over the nine years I worked for Ericsson. Sometimes, a reorganization didn’t mean people would be laid off. On the contrary, it could add jobs because of new opportunities. We had a big change during one of these reorganizations. Several new teams were created and there were vacancies of first level managers. I volunteered to be one of them, and my manager thought I was a good candidate. However, during that “tricky” time, all the existing first level Chinese managers were also seeking for promotions, and they needed support from other managers, so they wanted to make sure only their allies would get those positions. My boss was in competition with a female manager (I will refer her as “this lady” in this post) who was so good at playing politics. So when he promoted the idea of having me as one of the new managers on a management team meeting, this lady convinced our Swedish boss that I was an impeccable technical leader, so a System Architect job would be more suitable for me. Later, she successfully had some of her friends filling in those positions, and she, herself, was promoted to be a second level manager.

I was a technical leader before this reorganization, and one of the new teams were mainly comprised of my former team members. This lady had a talk with these people and told them what to expect during the reorganization. However, she made it so harsh and two of my former team members (They were the best. Both left Ericsson later. One became a CTO of a startup, and the other one is now a senior technical program manager in Amazon) were extremely upset. They told me this lady was so rude and said they had to follow her directions and work overtime without additional payment. They felt helpless and asked me for advice. I recommended them to speak out, but they hesitated to do so. I finally wrote an email to the Swedish boss on their behalf, which made him really upset. He called for a management team meeting and asked this lady what was going on. She played innocent, and tried to convince her boss that I shouldn’t have bypassed “her level” and reported to her boss directly. What a jerk!

I can go on and on about this type of “unspoken rules” stories, and I’m sure they are everywhere in this world. If I’m unable to break them, I would choose to step away, as I do not want to be controlled by these rules…

My Sister and Her Family

My sister’s name is Jing (静), which means being calm and quiet. Born in August 1973, she is four years older than I am. We have always been close to each other, and she is the only one in my family who knows I’m gay.

Due to a birth defect, her skull is of the shape of an American football, so the doctors told my parents she might be intellectually disabled. Luckily, it turned out that she was quite normal, but once in a while, she may suffer from migraine. Her eyesight is also very poor since she was born.

She started working immediately after graduating from high school, because at her time, it was not very easy to be admitted to a college. I remember her first job was to sell fabrics in a department store. It was not a very well paid job, but her income helped my family a lot. Later, she found another sales job at a jewelry shop. There she made a lot of money, as the store manager allowed his staff to take the jewelries home and sell them privately, and she was given a discount of 50% off. I remember it was during that time when my family had our telephone installed, which costed us almost seven hundred dollars.

I remember her first boyfriend was a big guy. My sister is about 5’2″, and that guy was about 6’2″. She met him when she was working as a call taker in a wireless paging company. He was one of her customers. One night, he just called in and my sister was the one who picked it up. He said he was not going to page anybody, but just felt lonely and wanted to talk to someone. So they started a relationship from that. I don’t remember why they broke up later, but my mother kind of disliked that guy. Soon after they broke up, my sister learned that one of her best friends died from carbon monoxide poisoning, and it was more than likely that she was murdered by her husband. At the same time, a friend of my father’s introduced my sister to his colleague, who is my brother-in-law now. My sister told me she didn’t like him at the beginning, but from her friend’s death, she realized it was more important to have a boyfriend who would treat her nicely than finding a handsome dude.

Several years after her marriage, my sister was pregnant, and later my nephew was born. He was a huge infant, and was ten pounds at birth. He is 17 years old now, still being a big boy, and he will be going to college next year. I don’t know if it was because of my influence or not, but he said he wanted to study computer science in college. My nephew is a shy boy, just like me when I was his age. But I guess (and hope) he will be more outgoing later, as being shy does not help him at all for his future.

My brother-in-law is a straight forward person, and sometimes that just causes him trouble. My mother never liked him, because he didn’t know how to “say nice things to please her”… He owns 20% of a generator company, and made quite a lot of money from that. However, he is still extremely frugal as he has the fear that the company may go bankrupt one day.

I kind of feel guilty leaving sister alone to take care of my mom. We talk on the phone now and then, and she often shares stories with me about how my mom drives her crazy… I love my sister and her family, and I hope they will always be healthy and happy…

Wolfgang, My Friend and Matchmaker

Wolfgang, a friend of mine from Hamburg Germany, was one of the first gay friends I made online. He was also one of the matchmakers of me and Howard. I’ll explain why.

The first time I met Wolfgang was when he visited China in 2003. He was in Beijing right in the middle of the SARS pandemic. When I asked him why he didn’t wait until it was over, he just said he didn’t want to lose the chance, as he could die any time because of health problems. We went to the Great Wall together. Usually the Wall would be so crowded like in this picture,

but we were the only two people there on that day… There I realized he had a severe heart problem, as he could only walk very slowly.

Wolfgang had a Chinese boyfriend from Hubei Province. They loved each other, but because his health issues, he was living on social welfare and was unable to sponsor his boyfriend to immigrate. Later, this Chinese guy moved to somewhere in Alabama for a master’s degree. Wolfgang visited him there once and he hated that place. He said he could not imagine any civilized people would want to live there (Sorry, that was just his opinion :-)).

I visited Wolfgang in Hamburg twice. The first time was during my first trip to Sweden in 2005. He convinced me to go the the gay district with him. After walking around for a while, we stopped at a gay video bar. He said I should go in and try the dark room, because it would be very interesting. He also asked if I remembered how to get back to his apartment. I said yes, but asked him why. He just waved and said “Have fun and see you later!”. So there I was, wandering in the darkroom, peeking around, not knowing what to expect… I was a little tired, so I just picked a small cubicle-like room to sit down. There was a small TV showing gay porn. I looked at it, and kept asking myself “what am I doing here?”. Suddenly, a hairy arm came through the wall. I was startled and almost fell off the chair. That was the time I learned there was something in this world called “glory hole”… That guy tried to grab me, I was panicked and just got up and walked to another room. However, he was so determined. He followed me and this time he got his dick through. After changing rooms a second time, I thought “fine!”, and gave him a hand job. When I got back Wolfgang’s apartment, he teased me and said “Looks like you had a good time, right?”.

Wolfgang also showed me the gay saunas during my second visit in 2007. Surprisingly, he didn’t just leave me alone this time. He also told me to try SilverDaddies. I asked him what it was, and he explained to me that it was a gay dating website for older guys and their admirers. I liked older guys, but would rather it being brotherhood than a daddy/son relationship. So I hesitated at the beginning, but finally created a profile on it. There I met Howard three years later. That’s the reason why I said Wolfgang was one of the matchmakers of me and Howard. The other one was Peter McDonough, who got Howard on SilverDaddies.

In 2009, I got an email from Wolfgang’s boyfriend, telling me that he died of a heart attack. He was trying some new meds for diabetes, which probably caused his death.