Thursday and my lack of sleep was catching up with me or so I thought. I was feeling like a zombie but little did I realize how much worse it would get.

The angels with pizza on the way to work appear to be a permanent phenomenon. Nothing better for breakfast then an amazingly greasy piece of bread with meat shavings. And for only 2 quai, unbeatable I say.

In my apartment it is the second day of the posters which do not seem to be sanctioned. They keep getting put up and then torn down by the next morning. I wish I could read more Chinese so I could realize what they were saying.

For dinner I went to little sheep yet again with Michael and Hua. The taxi driver on the way over recognized me and was telling them how he had giving me a ride a couple of months ago. That was kind of bizarre, being that rememberable. Looks like I will have to be careful about what I do.

For dinner we had some duck’s blood in what I like to call, come on h5n1 I dare you. It was really good. This made me try to figure out what it is about non-muscle pieces of flesh that make them so good. Foie gras, blood, haggis, necks ... all non-muscle and all so damn tasty. Even fat is what makes muscle so tasty. Pretty soon it is going to be too warm for hot pot and that will be a sad day indeed.

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Wednesday, after a long day at work I still had to write a test spec. I had dinner and then had the best idea of the week. I went to Bodhi to get a foot massage and write my test spec while there. It was awesome. I did not finish the test spec though as I ended up falling asleep in the middle of it.

I also think I am getting too used to spicy food here. There was an incident with a pepper a while back that led to me getting the hiccups for an hour and being unable to taste food. I ate one of those same peppers by mistake at lunch and my reaction was much more subdued. Momentary hot flashes in my mouth. Maybe I am passing through the menopause of spiciness. The hot flashes are becoming less extreme and I am much more used to them.

Wednesday, daylights savings time is killing my life. All my meetings now start an hour earlier which means 8 am. I am not and have never been a morning person. I am thinking about running for office on the platform of ridding the earth of this terrible scourge. Do I have your votes?

Dinner was fun. I stopped at the fast food type place by my house with no English menus. They do have the big picture menus of fast food joints the world over. So I walked up to that and pointed at what I wanted. The waitress thought this was amazingly funny but I got the food I wanted.


Monday, it was weird being back at work after having spent the weekend kind of moping around the house. It was good though after lunch I joined in the feather ball game. This is pretty similar to hacky sack but instead of a bag filled with beans it is a bunch of washers held together with feathers.

I also made my tickets to Xi’an which was way more of a pain in the ass than I expected it to be. I even went to the travel agent on the first floor in an attempt to make it easier but it was an hour long process.

Here is the subversive sign that keep getting torn down in it’s none torn down state.

This weekend was not the most fun weekend I have had recently. In fact it probably ranks up there with most non-fun weeks in a while.

When I woke up Saturday morning I had to take Yachi to the airport which was the height of no fun. Although many funny things did happen. After we finished grabbing breakfast we went to the customs entrance and walked up to the front where she was able to walk through. I went over to wait near there in case she was not able to get on her flight.

As I was standing there I realized there was a huge line to get into the customs entrance. It was comprised solely of foreigners though who stood there forever not making any headway because the flow off people who were not waiting in line was pretty constant. There also seemed to be a high percentage of old men getting on the plane who were drunk as hell. Like having to lean on one another to walk drunk, remember this is 7:45 in the morning. I doubt I could drink that much in the morning unless I did not sleep the night before.

On the way home I got caught in three different traffic jams at 8 - 8:20 in the morning. I was amazed there was that much traffic out. I also saw my first bus accident here. Some woman had clipped her window off on the bus and the bus passengers were pissed off. They had to get off and were milling around the highway trying to determine how to get on the next bus. Overall I was amazed no one was running into any milling people.

To add more happiness to the day I found out that a 2.2 GPA in undergraduate just is not enough to get into Columbia business school with. Yes indeed they decided that I just was not up to their admission’s standards. For those of you that did not know I was applying to business school you can just pretend that you never read the above. For those of you that did know, I am not that distraught, there is an opportunity that I was going to take anyways at work and defer school if I got in. Who knows maybe it will improve my chances if I decide to reapply.

I ended up cleaning the house and watching lots and lots of curb your enthusiasm. One thing that frustrated me was that I just wanted some pizza for dinner but could not call and order it for delivery because of the language difference. I had to jump in a cab to go there and order it then take it in a cab home. It was about a 45 minute investment.

For Sunday I just wandered around my neighborhood looking for a place to get my key copied because I managed to lose one. After going to a couple of places that did not have the right size key I found a guy sitting on the corner repairing shoes who happened to have a key copying machine and the keys I needed.

I have had better weekends but you need the bad to recognize the good.

Friday was another day of hooky with Yachi, especially because she was leaving the following morning. So what did we decide to do on her last day in the cultural capitol of China? Go to the National Museum? See the gallery district? Nope, buy more fake handbags and some other random things for presents.

We decided to take the subway as both of us have a tendency to get carsick on long Beijing cab trips (a tendency you will probably have if you ever come here). This was almost as bad. We did not even have board the subway, we just stopped four feet from the entrance and were carried on by the press of people. Getting off Yachi pushed right passed a woman who I thought was going to try to fight her for pushing her.

We both decided some food was in order once we got to the market and tried to find the cafeteria that all markets have. We should have taken it as a sign that there was no sign to it. We kept asking people where it was (actually we just kept saying to people “we eat lunch” and after staring quizzically at us the pointed towards the café). The food was not very good looking so after finally finding it we headed back to the TCBY on the first floor.

I wanted to get a soft serve cone but the only flavors they had were nonf and pina coloda. I was not entirely sure what nonf meant and I am not a big coconut fan so I went with the hard serve. According to the brochure on the table neither of these types of ice cream cause diarrhea, a handy fact to know but one you would not expect in marketing material.

We found pretty much everything Yachi needed for presents and even returned to a stall where they remembered me and gave me an easier time of bargaining. I just had to promise my first born instead of all my children.

After the market we decided to grab some Indian food from a place up the street. It was really good. One of the interesting things about the restaurant was that they had no beef on their menu. This makes a lot of sense but in the states you will find a lot of Indian restaurants that shoehorn beef into existing recipes to please the American palate. Think of that what you will. The one interesting thing on the way there was the amount of beggar children that followed us. We managed to get away from the rickshaw guys but could not escape the hoards of children directed from afar by their mothers.

Instead of going to Bodhi we decided to be adventurous and go to the place by my house. First it is very nice, you are greeted at least three times by eight people each time. Secondly, there is no English in the entire building. They don’t even front like there might be one person somewhere that will understand you. If you don’t seem to understand what they are saying they just repeat it louder and stare at you expectantly like maybe you did not hear them the first time (even though they were shouting).

The massages were great though. With the massages come all sorts of free services like cleaning your shoes, washing your feet after they have been massaged, a head massage, a separate back massage, and a separate guy with a straight razor if your feet are calloused *cough* Yachi *cough*. We thought they were not free though so towards the end we started refusing when they asked us and they could not understand why. Finally they stopped asking and just did everything.

It was a nice way to finish the day.


Thursday was pretty low key, on the way to lunch at pizza hut we saw them replacing the railroad ties with parking lot blocks. It was kind of amazing how quickly they tore through this. They covered between two subway stops a day which is not a bad pace. This involved tearing out the old ties and pushing the cement ones back under the rails.

Throwing people at a problem might not help in software engineering but it manages to wreck a construction problem (at least for the short term). They were not even using really advanced tools. Basically they would push a lever under the spike and lean on the lever to pull it up. If it was proving problematic they would bash at it with a rock.

For fun at night we burned ear candles. I had been excited about this since Yachi told me she was bringing these. The headphones I have are the ones that sit way down in your ear canal and I feel like they are causing wax to build up in my ears so I thought the candle would clear this all up. Turns out it just kind of burns your head and does not make any noticeable difference in the wax.

On Wednesday we saw a rendition of lord of the flies walking home. These kids were saying something about pork and dancing around this fire with sticks.

After getting home we decided to go out with Michael to eat at little sheep. He ordered the most food I have ever seen in my life. We spent so much on food that we got 100 quai gift certificate so we would come back. It was good as always. We managed to finish all of the meat but the vegetables did not fare so well. We also got dessert which proved to be really good. It was kind of like beignets with condensed milk instead of powdered sugar.

We also saw some triad members having dinner at the table next to ours. They got extra peppers and spicy things to throw in their hot pot along with a bottle of the equivalent of everclear for dinner. I tried to convince Michael and Yachi that we needed one or the other of those things but was shot down on both.

On Tuesday we got a free dinner with Culver and his work crew. He is a guy I used to work with who works in another group now who I still stay in touch with who was in Beijing for work purposes who brought quite a few co-workers with him who… cannot think of anything else.

They decided that they had had enough Chinese food so we went back to Metro café which proved to be awesome again although this time it took us a little long to get all of our food.

The one Chinese national in the group was not very excited about getting Italian though. He kept mentioning how weird it was to be in an Italian restaurant in Beijing (a comment I made repeatedly to Yachi a couple of nights before). He was not terribly excited by me either because I was the one who had caused us to eat at this place in his eyes. He mentioned the Sichuan place near my house though that I always go to and I told him it was my favorite restaurant. He did not believe me at first (probably thought I was just being a kiss ass) but after I was able to rattle off some house specialties and my favorite dishes he cut me a lot more slack and actually talked to me. Which was nice considering I was sitting next to him.


Pics from when Yachi and I went to the Forbidden City. I realize that I just posted some Forbidden City pics but I am trying to get back into chronological order so deal with it.

Yachi in front of the tree that was stunted to look like the Chinese character for person. Note the 20 quai drink in her hand. Price gauging the tourist is a global behavior.

Scary halloween trees.

A very small bamboo forest.

A very fancy gold bannistered phone booth. I was the subject of much ridicule for taking this picture. Everyone else in the area stopped what they were doing to laugh at me taking it.

Old style fire extuingesher.

Meaner than 20 snapper turtles. Look at that face.

I know why the caged foo lion sings.

One of my favorite pictures I have taken and I am not quite sure why.

A couple not shy about where they come from. I asked them if they had any ketchup with them in a french accent. They were not terribly amused.

Because it was cold enough that you needed two hoods.

The starbucks in the dead center of the Forbidden City. I asked for sugar with my latte and got a cinamanon struedel latte.

A little Seattle love.

Packed with some people trying to maintain a semblance of a line and the rest of us who just cut to the front as quickly as we could.

Deep thoughts.

Proving that every house has a broom closet.

Some space age tiger shit.

Read this and tell me how not eating onions, chives or garlic is fasting. Shit that is half the English with their bland food. I am going to write a book about this fasting and call it the East China Diet. Pretty soon you will be hearing about it from your fitness obssessed neighbors.

Bars always make me curious about what great things are hidden on the other side. I will always wonder about this.

A slightly different sort of structure that I had never seen before and have been unable to see since. Maybe it was like the wardrobe and I should have wandered around in it to find a nice Christian battleground.