So last i left you it was Saturday. Sunday was a pretty fun day. Started off doing laundry which was not very fun or exciting. After hanging it though the day started to pick up. yachi asked me to visit hongqiao market (the pearl market) to see if they do indeed sell pearls. This was in the southern part of Beijing and sounded like a good Sunday adventure.

on the way there i finally solved the mystery of the small ceramic cylinders i had brought up earlier. Turns out they are used as heaters. i saw them heating up a pot on the street. The finger sized holes hold a small piece of coal. i am assuming that they are also used to heat up homes hence the new batch in the garbage every morning. at least it is a movement away from oil dependence, not the cleanest one but so be it.

there also appears to be a small tent community that popped up around the subway stop near my house. i am guessing that they have to go through less red tape than the Seattle tent cities that cannot seem to find a home. i think these might be for the migrant workers working on the subway though as they have electricity in them.

after getting out from the subway and walking up to the street my carefully planned directions feel apart. The intersection was the intersection of two streets named the one i wanted to be on. Apparently i had not looked at the map well enough to determine which of the same street i should take to get where i wanted. Fortunately there was a police officer who understood enough of my Chinese to point me in the right direction.

once i started walking i saw the blood mobile. The most scariest place in the world to give blood. i am one pint away from my two gallon pin and that is with many widely spaced decisions to get tattoos blocking me for a year at a time. i have never given blood in the bus. All i can imagine is right as the needle is about to go in your arm someone rocking the bus by coming in or knocking on the door or stepping too heavily. Mobile blood giving? No thank you.

so a store that they decided to name after me and my exciting life. This was not quite as good as party world because they had no pig but hey it is still party life. Suprisingly enough it was not a karaoke place it was just a hang out place where you could drink. Which would normally make it a bar but this was not really a bar just a hang out place. How you like that circular logic? booyah.

spring festival decorations are still up which makes places look much more festive. They are still up in my apartment as well. i am too lazy to take them down and they make the place look better. The walk to the market was relatively uneventful. There was a cool looking street a block over but i had to save something for the walk back.

i did see a fake evo though on the way. Only a lancer with lots of body work and a different spoiler. Speaking of cars, guess what the most popular car in china is? Alright since the internet is not quite as interactive as everyone would have you believe i will tell you. The Buick regal. The most middle class American of cars is the top seller in china. i have seen more buicks here than back in Michigan. everytime i see one still it is a surreal sight. i guess they are made in Shanghai though so they say Shanghai GM on the back instead of just GM.

i had to cross a bridge to get to the market. There were people flying the many kite kites from the bridge. As well as selling DVD's on the side for those that did not want kites. With my new shiny DVD player i stopped to look and lo and behold underworld revolution. The movie that taunted me in the us. Its release date was the Friday i arrived in china. So i bargained the guy down to the normal price of 7 quai. i was so excited all day to watch it only to find out why you should not buy DVD's from the guys on the street. Turned out to be a blank CD with fancy packaging. Lesson semi-learned. i will probably try buying some off the street again if i cannot find the movie anywhere else and just keep my fingers crossed.

the market was in an interesting area. It is across from the east gate of tiantan (temple of heaven) which is one of the biggest temples in the city. It also is in an area that has more of the traditional hutong area which is a lot less developed. In the midst of all this you have tour buses disgorging large amounts of German tourists and random American tourists deciding to walk there from the subway. i doubt that i will ever get fully acclimated to the schism between old and new in Beijing or at least not until they have torn everything down and built it all new.

the market is five floors but i only saw the 1st - 3rd ones. The fourth and fifth are "prestigious" and i did not feel like going up there after the full court sales press that was the 1st - 3rd floors. To be fair it was not that bad because i was not buying anything so i could just walk through and smile at all the people telling me how cheap their "insert random thing here". The pearl market has pearls but also has a little bit of everything else including the first know off ipod nanos i have seen here. The pearls themselves looked alright but little do i know about pearls so i am a bad judge.

after taking off from the market i was going to go over to tiantan but saw this building. Decided that it would be more interesting to see it and the surrounding area. It was interesting to see the hutong area surrounding the market. Kind of like Venice in regards to the small alleyways.

i kind of kept wandering around areas that caught my eye until i was pretty thoroughly lost. It was cool seeing the vendors on all the streets though so i was kept entertained. Finally i ended up walking around a variety of homes and decided that i should probably make some kind of effort to get unlost.

this is where the drunk guy on the cart became incredibly useful. He was just rolling along in his cart with a bicycle stuck in it, banging the bicycle into tons of things along the alleyway. For some reason though he seemed to be going in the right direction and there really were not that many other directions for me to go. Turned out that i managed to get back to a main street and from there back to tiantan.

by the time i was there though it was too late to pay to get in. an adventure for another day. This time i walked back the same way i came but took the more exciting fun looking street that was a block behind. It had a very small alley as its entrance way.

right as i got on to the main part of the street i saw some rats trying to carry off a baby. The rats were not that big but there were a ton of them. The parents had to keep grabbing back their child.

the street had lots of fun stuff on it beyond rats like fish in a shallow pan. Lots and lots of vegetables and pretty unrecognizable meats.

here is another example of why i feel like china is safer in some weird way. It is a store that is closed. They do not bother to take all the stuff in and lock it up though. They just leave it there under tarps. i am not quite sure why this flies. The area i was walking around in definitely was not the richest area of town and i am sure that someone would have loved some free groceries. Maybe it was fear of being seen by a neighbor, maybe the store owner was sitting behind the door just waiting for an excuse.

in san Francisco you saw a lot of people living in their cars. They had the back and front seat full up of shit and they would park in the sunset and move their cars whenever they needed to To avoid parking tickets. The car could drive far enough to get to a new spot but that was about it. Here is living in your car to a new level. i like how there is a little awning built to this place and how it just fits the van. The van also has the mirrored windows, that is a step beyond limo tints.

after this i went to the pizza company and had my weekly pizza fix. It it kind of like methadone to my usual pagliacci's fix back in Seattle.

saw a random park and decided to wander through it. Turns out this park is the Vegas of Beijing. Everyone in this picture is playing cards and gambling. Or i assume they are gambling because there are cards being played and money being tossed around.

there also was this really cool hill that i was too tired to wander up.

i think Morgan might have spent time here as a youth without realizing it. Whenever a child has to go to the bathroom the parents just make that square of the sidewalk a toilet. So you see little kids peeing all over. The only person i have seen pee in public with such abandon is my sister ergo her time here during her formative years.

after leaving the park i decided to wander up to wangfujing, the chi-chi shopping center. On the way i saw this sign. It made me wonder, if Microsoft started a store here would we call it "operating system monopoly"? (oww, sassy). If anyone i don't know form Microsoft is reading this, thems just jokes baby.

i popped out from the street right in front of my favorite clothing store, emnegildo zegna. Who knew they had a boutique? Luckily i only had 200 quai in my pocket so i decided it was not even worth going in. i am not sure how you would buy expensive things here, you would have to have one of those metal briefcases like drug dealers in the movies. Maybe they take plastic although the only place i have been to that does is walmart and they only take Chinese plastic. i will have to find out how to buy things at zegna :).

this was back in the subway going home. i went to the bookstore and got my book on reading Chinese which has proven to be an interesting storybook but not helped in my immediate recognition of any characters.

this ad was funny to me because who feels like that after taking robitussin? When have you taken some tussin and jumped off the couch ready to run a marathon? Usually you take it to placate your cough enough to fall asleep. It also reminded me of Chris rock talking about the tussin because the whole family apparently has decided to use it to take care of their woes.

this is how busy the subway was going home. To give some perspective this was two minutes after the train left. Yes i saw the train leave. i along with half of the people in line could not fit on it because it was so full. Let me also remind you that this is the first stop on the line so no one is on the train at this stop from previous stops.

we left about as many people as in this picture standing on the platform when we left. So many people everywhere.

on the way home i had a feeling that underworld might be bunk so i decided to stop at the DVD store cause they must have legitimate DVD's, right? Got a bunch of movies one of which (batman begins) is exclusively in Russian. It has English subtitles but only dubbed Russian voices. It is amazing how much that throws off the movie.

so that is the end of my mega-long Sunday post.

as it is Tuesday now i am going to catch you up on Monday and today right quick.

Monday, nothing happened. Ok not exactly true, i found police academy 2 at walmart today. Will the good lord ever stop giving me treasures? i wandered home with a quickness and watched that while eating my new specialty, dumplings.

today it snowed. Not much but definite snow all over the place.

otherwise i got stood up by the people who were supposed to come by and clean the house. Tomorrow is the newly scheduled appointment. My life is a full and rich tapestry.

more snow

field full of kids playing soccer yesterday. Not today as it is covered with yes indeed more snow.

one more thing i did tonight. i finally ate some food from the vendors on my way home. here is a picture of one eaten and one uneaten thing. i am still not quite sure what i ate but i am telling myself it was ribs.

music recommendation, jenny Lewis with the Watson twins - rabbit fur coat - team love. She is the lead singer for some famous band, Riley Kilo maybe? This is here solo project and it is pretty good. Better than good though it is free. Check out the link above as her record company is giving out her whole album minus a song. The style is pretty good. Gillian Welch but never happy.


in the midst of my exciting evening at home tonight. Last night was enough fun for the weekend though. Went with jay, frank and Eric to saniltun to check out a couple of bars. We went to bar blue and poachers. Bar blue was good, a decent mix of expats and Chinese. The decor was pretty fun. Lots of blue neon. Headed to a bar called poachers after that . There was a room in the back where people where hanging out and chatting so i ended up in there talking about soccer and how much it sucks with a Canadian and Nigerian. The Canadian was trying to convince everyone that hockey was the only sport to watch. i was just being vitriolic about soccer. After hanging out there for a while i ended up grabbing a cab home and getting not only to the right area but directly in front of my door.

today was pretty low key. i grabbed food at a hot pot place in zgc and finally caved in. Yes it has happened, i bought a DVD player. i also got some semi-legitimate DVD's. The hard boiled one i got even has special features. i also picked up wedding crashers and the piece de la resistance, police academy 3. Yes guttenberg is back and so are the rest of the recruits. The bad commandant has been changed but you have bobcat goldthwaite in this one. Masterful.

the pics are from the hot pot place. The Beijing style hot pot is not a good as the Mongolian place but the place was a lot more fun.


So yesterday work really bothered me. Actually not work so much as Microsoft's productivity suite aka the cash cow aka office. i started using infopath (one of those new office apps that no one uses) and i found out why no one uses it. it is so unintuitive and difficult to work that after five hours of messing around with it i wanted to throw the PC throw the window.

this follows closely on the heels of a day spent screwing around with word. So word has been in development for what almost twenty years now? You think they would have added a button along the lines of "stop automatically changing my shit and leave it the fuck alone!". Every time i copied some text that was any color but black to a bullet point it changed the bullet point to the color of the text. i did not ask for that nor do i want it. All of you are aware of my ocd-ness. i group my shirts in my closet by color (and sleeve length and button number and ...), the fact that these bullet points did not match the rest of the document still drives me crazy.

i think the only thing that stopped me from going crazy was grabbing dinner with xu. We both had a lot of work so we were going back to work after dinner but neither of us could stand dinner in the cafeteria so we went next door to a real deal restaurant. We had some Beijing duck which was pretty good. To eat the duck you take it dip it in sauce and drop it on a spring roll wrapper, throw in some cucumbers and onions, roll it up and eat it. i am getting relatively proficient with chop sticks. i was able to eat the roll with my chop sticks but not actually roll it up with the chop sticks. Almost there though.

at the restaurant i saw first hand why neither of my parents will sit next to the wall in a restaurant. They both went to school in hot and humid new Orleans which had a junebug problem. They would crawl up the wall in the restaurants. it is neither hot nor humid here right now but i still saw a roach wandering around the wall. i was kind of surprised as i have been in much dirtier restaurants and not seen anything. Probably ate something but at least i did not see it.

after a hard day of struggling with things that are antithical to their name (productivity suite?) and eating some duck i wandered home.

i was surprised to see people still working outside. Remember the popsicle sticks in the surge protector outside the restaurant? Well this is a picture of it last night. Pretty much done, looks like they were talking to the wait staff.

they were also still working on the subway. Looks like people are taking this must be done by the end of 2006 thing more seriously than i thought they would.

all you can really see are some sparks though.

after getting home i was going to change and do things so exciting i cannot even mention them in a public forum. Instead i watched the Norway v Sweden women's curling match and feel asleep on the couch. i was woken up at some point late at night / early in the morning when someone called my phone. it was someone from the states so i will explain this again. Add 12 hours to the time it currently is where you are. That will at least give you an idea of what time it is here.

example, my phone rings at 5:14 am here, that is 1:14 pm pacific and 4:14 pm eastern. If you really want to talk to me don't call in the afternoon. Night time or morning is better. If you just want to walk me up then call in the afternoon.

here is the completed restaurant with people eating in it. i took this pic tonight. That took by my estimate under a week to renovate a restaurant with broken out windows and no door into a nice looking place. i will try it this weekend.

it is new so i am sure they will get business. Michael was telling me how Chinese people basically like shiny. this jives with yachi's opinions as well. There could be a restaurant where they love the food but they will stop going if they have being going there for longer than 6 months to a year. The restaurant has to remodel and make itself look different than it was.

to the left are pineapple slices careful cut to be like little popsicles of pineapply goodness.

another thing i have noticed, even here the TV on the scene reporters have the news reporter voice. You know which one i am talking about. Another one of those things that transcends culture.

music recommendation, merzbow - senmaida - blossoming noise. Any description i try to use to describe this album will be doing it a disservice. i have been looking for this album since sophomore year in college and did not realize that until i heard it. it forces you to reconsider what your notions of beauty are. it has some of the most startling combinations of noises and rhythms that bring out certain facets in sounds that would otherwise be abrasive or forgettable and makes you completely enraptured with that facet.


i felt guilty for not taking pictures so i forced some today. The picture to the left is a mad scientist in front of the sigma building were i work. i am not quite sure what he was concocting but it had to be devious. There was a bubbling beaker involved.

i enrolled in a language school today. i start next week on Wednesday. It is not bad, about 50 us a month. Also they have a nice system where you basically buy days not a class. So if i travel or am otherwise not able to make it i can reschedule. i can also reschedule if the teacher is no good or if i need to move to a more advanced class (Like that will happen :).

this was the market that had been continously tempting me with street vendors every time i walk home. Every time i walk past one of the delicious smelling stands, the nurse from the travel clinic and Mitch Peterson pop into my head saying something about hep a. Their voices are getting fainter though and the food is smelling better. They even have crepes. How can something as delicious as a crepe have any sort of disease in it? i ask you that.

i also managed to order a ticket, have it delivered and pay for it on delivery today. The main system for purchasing things on the internet is pay on delivery here. You order something and then they send it to your office and you buy it. Now i am headed towards Shanghai next week.

tonight i decided to stick around the home front and cook myself. i made two different kinds of dumpling. One pork gyoza type and another that looked delicious at the store. They had red bean, chocolate and sesame (all in different buns). That one turned out to be the bread kind of dumpling though and dissolved in the boiling water. i think i am going to have to break down and buy a microwave so that i can make more types of food than my burner gives me.

here is the finished product. It was actually pretty good. The sauce i made was a Justin special. i grabbed things that looked good at the grocery store (soy sauce, sesame oil and some bottle with garlic cloves and hot peppers on it) and mixed up a pretty good sauce. Buying groceries based on the pictures on the packing is always exciting. Right now my yoghurt is either oak or maple flavored, i cannot remember which leaf is which. i also broke down and got some ripoff pringles and some ice cream for later tonight. The ice cream was half the cost of the grocery bill.

music recommendation, public enemy - it takes a nation of million to hold us back - def jam. i am still convinced that the bomb squad made some of the best beats ever. a great combination between strident political lyricism (black steel in the hour of chaos) and James brown influenced party beats that would make anyone want to dance. Chuck d and co. captured the minds of all the future cool suburban white middle schoolers with this album.


No pictures for the second day in a row. i know i am lazy. Not much to tell either. Watched the nba all star game this morning before i went to work. Actually watched the first half. Not the best basketball but it looked like shaq was having a good time. i got to watch the international broadcast and there was a lot of yao ming. yao on the bench, yao making his 4 points. yao talking to t-mac. Makes sense though. The nba is huge here.

about the only other exciting thing that happened today was on the walk to work this morning. i was walking through the area i normally walk and where there is sometimes an impromptu market. Usually it is just vegetables and what not. Today i saw some Indiana Jones' type shit. i turned around the corner and almost into a large rubbermaid looking storage unit that contained a huge mass of wet, slithering, slimy eels. i came the closest to losing it since i have been here. i caught my scream in my throat and walked (not ran even though i wanted to) past the van and out of sight. once i got there i kept telling myself that i should walk back and take a picture for everyone. sorry i just could not bring myself to do it. it still creeps me out thinking about it.

music recommendation for the day, this american life - their favorites list - website. they have all espisodes they have ever made on their website and i am about a third of the way through all the favorites. There are some talented people who make that show and it has not been anything but excellent so far. they also touch on so many different topics from a good variety of perspectives that they keep it interesting. Besides i love hearing David sedaris read his stuff.


Saturday morning i got slightly confused and woke up at 8 thinking it was 9. So after showering i ended up being one of the first people at breakfast which was cool because i got to eat with baogang, Gary and his wife.

we had a nice time talking about travel across both china and the us. There are some crazy visa restrictions for people with a Chinese passport. i just typed about three pages and erased twice as many trying to tell this story and it is beyond my grasp of written English. i will just have to tell you in person.

after breakfast i walked around the hotel and the surrounding area for a couple of hours and took pictures.

it was good to walk around in nature-ish areas. The air was almost clean out there even though it is probably closer to the factories.

it was cold but not freezing. You could see the ice melting and things starting to poke above the ground. Even this far outside Beijing
(past the 6th ring road) there is still an amazing amount of construction going on.

the hotel is expanding in every direction and their are many homes being built around the hotel. The cool thing is that they are homes as opposed to apartments. The first i have seen since arriving here.

in the haste to build certain safety measures are being tossed aside. Don't people remember baby Jessica?

it was also nice being able to see a little of the countryside. There were people ice fishing on ice that i thought you would fall through. Maybe they know something i don't so they were not worried about the ice breaking.

beyond the homes, there was an abandoned temple and some farmland that i was able to see. i took something ridiculous like 300 pictures so if walls and barren fields are you thing, let me know. We can get together and have the slideshow of the century.

i also saw a garbage pile that deepened my curiosity about a certain piece of garbage. It is a small section of a cylinder of cement. It is about 20 centimeters in diameter and 6 cm deep. It has a bunch of holes in it that are about finger size. i have also seen many of these in the dumpster for the poorer section i walk past to get to work. The dumpster is emptied every night and every morning there are tons more of these. Such a mystery.

After the bus ride home i went grocery shopping. i am glad i spent some time in Algonquin sophomore year in college. The latest expiration date on the milk was the day before i bought it. Three months of eating week old pizza and three day old sushi left on the living room floor prepared me well for this.

after grocery shopping i walked up to domino's because i have been fiending for some pizza. i remembered passing it going to the shopping mall last weekend. i thought it would be a nice 20-30 minute walk turns out it was about 90 minutes one way but it was cool getting to see a part of the city i have not seen yet. domino's was not so bad either.

on the walk home i stopped at an antique place that was pretty cool. Definitely a good spot to return to with visitors. There was a guy in full red army regalia selling tons of old army paraphernalia.

this picture to the left was near my apartment. They are remodeling a restaurant and people were grinding metal for the doorway. The pic is of the surge protector that is on the step and two wires held jammed into the surge protector with what appears to be popsicle sticks. The other ends of the wire are wrapped around the plug of yet another surge protector which has two industrial tools plugged into it.

yet another companion piece to lonely shoes. This one is called dusty shoes. They are my own shoes after my day of long hikes. The only place they were clean is where pants were rubbing them dry.

after i rested some at home i went out to dinner with Helen near guomao. We went to a nice Hong Kong styled restaurant. Their special dish was crab so we tried some of it. i was expecting crab meat but the important part of the crab here is the yellow part and the roe. They get a bunch of it and make a sauce that is used to cook something else. In this case mushrooms. It turns out to be really good. After dinner i was exhausted so i took a long ass cab ride home and passed out.

music for the weekend is Michael mayers - john peel session - one louder or somewhere else on the internet. He is the head of a German techno label called kompakt. This is the type of techno that i would play for someone who does not like electronic music though. The first two thirds of the mix just lope along with this slightly syncopated beat that oozes fluidity. It falls off for one song with a little too much vocoder but finishes strong. i listened to this on repeat for almost three straight hours. In fact i am going to listen to it now.

the picture to the left is frank's head in the foreground of the dining room. He is from the us originally but spent quite a bit of time over here, in Beijing as well as Singapore. Fun guy to talk with.

the food was pretty good. There was more Chinese wine. i poured myself a glass to try it and frank quickly advised me to stick to beer. i told him that i still wanted to try it he suggested that i "cut" it with sprite, making it sound like i was shooting up heroin. By itself it was awful. With the addition of sprite it was suprisingly palatable.

i am glad i learned about the sprite trick. After dinner everyone walked around to all the tables containing anyone they knew and drank a toast with them. Toast here means draining a full glass. i was lucky that i did not know that many people at that many tables. The directors had to stop at every table. The sprite made pounding a glass of bad wine not so bad. Also you could go pretty heavy on the sprite.

the pic to the left is the first real deal egg rolls i have seen. They actually had a thin layer of egg beneath the roll part.

after diner started wrapping up, the real fun began. They had a raffle again. The head of atc's son did a Wushu demonstration. There were many random games on stage.

one of the more interesting ones was what frank took to calling the Lao mai humiliation game. Lao mai means foreigner. Basically they called all the white people in atc to the stage. i was not called because i do not work in the atc. Frank and i sat there making fun of everyone else as they tried to sing a Chinese song they heard on a pair of headphones. The whole time this is going on frank keeps shouting dance Lao mai, sing Lao mai and i keep cracking up.

karma bit me in the ass for this though as at the end of the game they called me up and made me try to sing a song that sounded really familiar. Basically it was like a 20 year old playing tee ball. They gave me the easiest possible song they could. i could recognize the melody as familiar but had no idea what they were signing or how to pronounce it. After just laughing in the microphone for a verse the next verse came on in English and i realized it was happy birthday. Everyone treated me like a special needs adult after that.

the birthday was for the guy to the left. Tim. He is very popular in the atc and can apparently do no wrong. He got trashed before he had to get up on stage. Once up there he had to down something like 4 beers in rapid succession. i alternated between amusement at watching someone chug on stage and amazement that this was happening at a work function. Remember i had not seen the whole toasting thing yet.

after the chugging they gave out 14 awards related to interviewing and recruiting. i thought this was a little excessive until frank explained that the atc had conducted 2000 interviews in two months. This was after three written exams (of which they took the top 7-10%) and a phone screen. That is a ridiculous amount of interviewing and culling.

after dinner they had fireworks and i took many good videos. These fireworks were probably the best i have seen since being here. The most exciting part of them was Tim trying to help light them and running through the barrier to help.

after the fireworks there were a bunch of events you could go to. Movies, karaoke, swimming, game room, bowling, ping pong and probably a couple of other things i am forgetting. hua and i wandered towards bowling but once we got there it did not seem that good so we went back to the game room. This was even worse, the best game they had was a '87 knock-off of pole position.

we went to get foot massages instead after playing about three bad games. hua was amazed that the technicians giving us the massages had never heard about Microsoft. They knew all the hardware companies but very few of the software companies. That is because it is harder to pirate hardware. Interestingly the only software companies they knew about were ones that provide services so are basically unpiratable.

after the foot massage we headed back to the karaoke bar. We had to walk between buildings and at the stairs to the other building we found Tim and co. trying to hijack one of the hotel's cart / bus things. They could not quite do it so they just left it beeping in reverse backed up against the stairway.

karaoke was alright. i just ended up playing the dice drinking game with some people. It was awesome, we were drinking warm bud ice. Cold is a rarity here. Even at restaurants you usually just get less warm. It was fun hanging out and drinking. Towards the end of our time in this room a married couple came up that i ended up talking to for most of the rest of the night.

this was the second karaoke room we got shifted to after a while in the first one. i went to the bathroom and came back and could not believe that this was the number. This was the least fuzzy of the 20 or so pictures i took of the sign because i thought it was so funny.

the karaoke was not so good but it was cool because i was just chatting with the couple below. They were from Hong Kong so i was able to get a little different perspective on china after talking to them.

after this full night i went back to the hotel room and quickly fell asleep. Unfortunately as soon as i fell asleep i started snoring which meant that jay no longer could sleep. He ended up driving home at 3 am because i was snoring so loudly. Bodes well for whoever is coming to visit.