Friday, August 29, 2008



The party is over. Beijing planned for upwards of seven years to bring a city known for its pollution and poor infrastructure into the world stage, and for the most part, they succeeded. Quick responses from the police minimized the protests that could have dominated the nightly news. Through Project 119, China focused their energies on overlooked sports and emerged with an impressive 51 gold medals. Despite security concerns from abroad and at home, the 16-day nationalistic orgy went off without a single terrorist threat, the heightened security clearly proving effective at diffusing underlying social and political tensions.

But as the torch fades from marvel to memory in the minds of people across China, many wonder, now what? This past week was much like any other this summer. Walking through oncoming traffic simultaneously posed both a risk and a rush. Fog (smog) settled on the city for a few days after a week of incredible weather, despite the continuance of "pollution controls" imposed until the end of the Paralympics. The inefficient crowd control in subway stations continued to create bottlenecks that boggle the mind. China's future after the games is very much an unknown, and many residents, both native and expatriate, feel that same uncertainty about themselves, not really knowing what comes next after so much energy spent on expectation.

I came to China for the Olympics, and while I didn't have the luxury of Bob Costas's "I tell you what to feel and you feel it hard" emotional manipulation, it was hard not to be moved by the weight of such a magnificent event (see 'Nationalistic Treasure'). But now that the games (as well as my internship) are officially over, I find that I'm facing those same kinds of questions myself (at least, for the next 50 hours until my departure). When I'm sitting through my third consecutive movie in a dark, empty theater, gorging myself on Tex-Mex and tater tots, will I crave the delicious 饺子 (jiao-zi, or stuffed dumpling) that abound in the alleys around my apartment? When I can freely visit any political blog that the heart desires, will I yearn for that rush from using an illegal proxy? When I go to the gym, Oprah and Mad Money gracing every television hanging from the ceiling, will I miss the period Chinese dramas and replays of Chinese medals ceremonies that once accompanied my 38 minutes on the elliptical? 

The answers to these questions (as well as the view outside my apartment window) are increasingly unclear, but if NBC can manipulate my emotions, and the Chinese government can manipulate the weather, then I should at least be able to manipulate myself into leaving the most reflective and existential of queries for the plane ride home (Why I am here? Why is the presidential election so incredibly bizarre? Why did Heath Ledger have to die so young? Why did Georgia send troops into South Ossetia? Why I am paying $18 dollars for a used pillow and blanket?).

Monday, August 25, 2008



I love everything about peaches – the way the fuzzy skin feels in the palm of your hand; the feeling after you bite off a chunk too big to chew, juice dribbling down your lips; the sweet, sticky residue left on your fingers once you've devoured all but the wrinkled pit. I also love everything "peach-flavored," regardless of whether or not it actually tastes like that delicious nectar – peach Jolly Ranchers, peach tea, peach beer (thank you Belgium) and, most recently, peach popsicles. My choice of snack at the Olympic venues (see 'Nationalistic Treasure'), these delightfully refreshing, semi-frozen treats sustained me through the highs and lows of the days leading up to the Closing Ceremonies, which will go down as the strangest two-hour performance to ever feature the combination of unnecessary bike helmets, erotic acrobatics and David Beckham (perhaps a subliminal metaphor for "safe-sex" and, thus, population control).


I took a surprise trip to Shunyi, the self-proclaimed suburbia of Beijing, for my final Olympic event, flat-water rowing and kayaking. Despite the thick mist that settled on the "sorry we had to take your province's entire water supply for two months to build an unnecessary lake in the middle of nowhere" venue (free multi-colored ponchos, however, were a plus), my afternoon peach pick-me-up brought me back to clarity, regardless of the fact that I had no idea what the difference between rowing and kayaking actually were (to clarify, rowing involves standing and kayaking, sitting).


After going almost 48 hours without that sweet, icy escape, I gave in for a quick taste after my visit to 白塔寺 (bai-ta-si, or White Pagoda Temple), which was rebuilt in 1457 after a fire destroyed the original during the fall of the Yuan Dynasty. I hopped on the subway and made my way to the "Egg" (the National Centre for Performing Arts), which residents either love or loathe (and passionately, I might add). I then walked to Qianmen, Beijing's old hub for commerce, entertainment and vice (the perfect place to nurture all of my addictions: book shopping, television and the occasional roulette game [I always go with black 23, because Michael Jordan was the biggest baller ever]).


After getting my gamble on (I did, however, manage to resist all purchases of traditional Chinese medicinal tools and fancy kites – I'm still evolving!), I purchased another frozen fun-sicle to hold me over until lunch, which was still a subway ride and misguided amble away. An hour later, I had finished my Sichuan feast and found my way to 智化寺 (zhi-hua-si, or Wisdom Temple), which was built in 1443 and is one of the best-preserved examples of Ming-dynasty architecture in the city.


Ending my history lesson for the day, I purchased some more peach passion and made my way to the Stone Boat Cafe in Ritan Park (日坛, or Sun Temple), where I passed the rest of the afternoon drinking mojitos and reading an intellectually titled book so that other foreigners would notice me (my ploy worked: a friendly New Zealander asked me what I thought of Stiglitz's argument on globalization with a human face – I nodded my head, smiled and put my hand through my excessively long hair, trying to change the subject to something I knew more about, like Beijing's wide variety of cheap, frozen treats).


I purchased my penultimate popsicle on my way to the Beijing Zoo (PANDAS!!!!!), but in the interest of not sliding into a deep depression due to the treatment of the other, less-widely appreciated fauna, I hustled out of the park after seeing my black-and-white furry friends and made my way to 五塔寺 (wu-ta-si, or Five Pagoda Temple), originally built in 1473. I then hopped in a cab to the seriously strange China Millennium Monument (I went there for the 3D, circular timeline mural, which I couldn't even find, but the ticket was free – so only a semi-EPIC FAIL). I accepted my moral defeat and moved on to 白云寺 (bai-yun-si, or White Cloud Temple), which also ended up being free, except I later realized that I'd inadvertently snuck in without paying, depriving the friendly Taoists of a little over $1 (the debt was subtracted from my karma account, which I recently augmented by picking up trash along the Great Wall – thanks Captain Planet!).


After a deliciously cheap lunch of 小吃 (xiao-chi, or Beijing snacks), consisting partly of tomatoes covered in sugar (I thought it was salt at first glance, but I was startlingly mistaken), I headed over to my new favorite temple, 天宁寺 (tian-ning-si, or Temple of Heavenly Tranquility), which was built around 1100 and claims the title of oldest structure in Beijing. I had my last taste of heaven (melting seriously prevented the full enjoyment of my last licks) as I progressed to my final (successful) stop of the day, 报国寺 (bao-guo-si, or Compensate the Country Temple), which was founded in 1103 and houses a less-crowded version of Panjiayuan (see 'Market Power'). I later tried to go to Niujie Mosque (I wasn't wearing pants – DENIED), Zhongshan Park (mysteriously closed in the middle of the afternoon – DENIED) and Three Trees Cafe (there was no room at the inn-door/outdoor renovated hutong – DENIED). After facing three consecutive denials, along with an oddly out-of-place rooster's crow, I heeded the biblical allusions and made my way home to prepare for the mourning of the morning after Olympia ended her fling with Beijing and moved on to someone older, wiser and more financially stable.

Thursday, August 21, 2008



I couldn't take my eyes off of the torch. There was something truly mesmerizing about that enormous blaze – what it represented for China, what it represented for the athletes and what it represented for me. Participants shattered world records; a country struggling to define itself debuted to billions on television screens across the world; spectators screamed their hearts out for their countrymen – all beneath the glow of that Olympic flame. Fourteen months ago, I decided that I wanted to be in Beijing for the Summer Games, and last night, I found myself in the Bird's Nest, three rows from the field, witnessing history.

A few days ago, I attended a US v. Germany men's water polo game. It was my first time at an event where an American team was competing, and I didn't exactly know how to behave. During the Opening Ceremonies, I declared myself a "citizen of the world" – I became a passionate representative for the Cuban baseball team last week, leading my entire section in cheers for our friends from the south. I was a vocal supporter for Angola during the women's handball game, much to the dismay of my Norwegian friends surrounding our small party of four. I wore my maple leaf on my sleeve at the boxing match, yelling words of encouragement for the oft-pummeled Canadian in the red corner. 

But sitting poolside, flanked by fellow Americans, I felt a surge of nationalism greater than any I had ever felt before (including that time Reese Witherspoon beat out a bunch of British beauties for a Best Actress BAFTA). Even though part of my heart was cheering for the Cardinal, as several members of the team were Stanford alums, for the first time in my (relatively short) adult life, I actually felt proud of my country (thanks for the inspiration, Mama Obama). In the heat of the moment, iced honey peach popsicle in hand (the only edible concession available at venues – see 'Mixed Media'), the politics melted away (almost as quickly as my delicious, refreshing heaven-on-a-stick), and all I could think about was how badly I wanted the red, white and blue to come out on top.

This new sense of nationalistic pride had also started to affect my sentiments towards China, who have been cleaning up in the gold medal count for the past two weeks. My daily hormonal cycle was suddenly dictated by how well the Americans did in the day's events, and my mood considerably soured every time CCTV aired another medal ceremony for their most recent weightlifting/shooting/judo/gymnastics/diving victory. I even started arguments with co-workers on the dangerous effects of institutionalized cheating in gymnastics, an issue which, before America's disappointing performance last week, interested me even less than the continual decline of the Olsen Twins empire (even Bob Saget saw that one coming).

At the Bird's Nest, however, everything changed. I saw Usain Bolt's ecstasy when he broke the men's 200m world record, and my heart was with the Jamaicans. During the women's hammer throw medal ceremony, as Aksana Miankova mouthed the word's to Belarus' national anthem, her nation's flag waving in the distance, I was proud for every Belarusian there that night (probably around 17). The entire crowd vigorously cheered for every runner lapped by the competition (the Burmese [no, not Myanmarian – my own form of protest against the military junta] runner couldn't catch a break), and I was honored to be a guest at China's grandest celebration.

Taking advantage of my amazing seats (someone took pity and offered the ticket a fair price for someone who would truly appreciate it), I screamed myself hoarse for each American athlete that entered the stadium. As I was surrounded by Chinese citizens, the athletes immediately picked me out of the crowd, choosing to acknowledge my presence with the "thanks for cheering for America" trademark head nod/eye contact combo. I got to personally congratulate Sheena Tosta on her silver in the women's 400m hurdle final, and I've never been so proud of the familiar flag draped around her shoulders.

During the men's 5000m heats, I cheered on the American competitors (at a volume I didn't know my vocal chords possessed) as they passed by on each of their twelve laps around the track. I caught the tail-end of a conversation between two women behind me, as they commented on my passionate behavior. "That American screams each time they run past him," she said. "He supports his country, regardless of how they do. That's exactly what the Olympics are about. I can't believe we're here. This is it." As I lifted my eyes to that blaze in the sky, I couldn't believe it either.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008



An unidentified, dilapidated black bicycle was pronounced dead on Friday, August 18th at approximately 6:30pm. The preliminary cause of death was determined to be a deflated rear tire, although it appears that other factors may have also contributed to its untimely demise. As noted on its license sticker, its spare parts will be donated to other two-wheelers desperately in need of transplants. The prime suspect was last seen on foot as he fled the scene of the crime, heading towards the subway and enjoying the blue sky day.

After weeks of waiting, I finally had the weekend weather I needed to make my last sightseeing pilgrimage in Beijing to the Summer Palace (颐和园, yi-he-yuan). With the newly released Beijing by Foot in hand (shameless plug), I entered the park, which surrounds Kunming Lake, a former reservoir built over 1,000 years ago during the Yuan dynasty. I strolled along the tree-lined pathways for a few hours, taking artsy photos of shadows, bridges and unsuspecting children, as I tend to do. I thought some time in the fresh lakeside air would help restore my sense of smell (I am currently very susceptible to death by gas leak/methane exposure), but all I got, once again, was some minor heat rash and a nosebleed (kid can't catch a break).

I continued my journey through the past to the aptly named Old Summer Palace (圆明园, yuan-ming-yuan), which was built a few decades before the glamorous, aforementioned neighbor to the west. The Old Summer Palace isn't so much a "palace" as it is a "testament to the aggression of the Allied Powers when they unjustly invaded a sovereign China" (their words, not mine, although I mostly agree). I felt a little on edge as I wandered the ruins of the royal residences, which, before their demolition, featured remarkable combinations of Western and Eastern architectural styles. Controversy actually surrounds the existence of the park, as some individuals feel that a complete restoration could display the great achievements of past dynasties, while others believe that the fragments of columns strewn across the grass serve as a reminder of the unnecessary destruction caused by foreign aggressors. 

Trying to put these complex feelings behind me, I entered into a state of meditation (I don't have any Enya on my iPod, so I went for Bob Marley and Joni Mitchell) as I made my way through the stone labyrinth, another strange attraction at the Old Summer Palace. After two minutes of battling with other participants brandishing their sun-brellas as weapons, I realized that if I was unable to succeed, my self-esteem would drop to a precipitous low (I was already two-and-a-half nosebleeds in at 12:15 in the afternoon). So, I proudly exited the maze before I could fail, bought a popsicle (iced honey peach!) and continued my way through the park.

After deciding against picking a giant lily-pad out of the lake and wearing it on my head like a wide-brimmed hat (everyone else was doing it, but considering my luck, I'd probably be the one to stick out), I tried to find a pizza place nearby for lunch (it was on the map, so I knew it had to exist). I made one pass, missing the restaurant, and continued walking for another 15 minutes. Once I realized the error of my ways (and consulted with some old ladies sitting on the side of the road), I stumbled upon the eatery, only to find that it had closed three weeks ago and could now be found a few miles from where I was standing. Dejected, depressed and dehydrated, I made my way down the street to Beijing University (北大, bei-da) and ate the best Big Mac I've ever had the pleasure of poisoning my body with (I'm told that in China, McDonald's cooks with real animal fat, not the vegetable oil that "health-conscious" branches use in the United States).

As the blue sky slowly faded back into the ominous gray of weeks past, I made stops at the Golden Five Stars Market (SO MANY MANBAGS), the Wangfujing Nike Store and a street of restaurants nearby my apartment for some dinner. By the end of the day, I'd been walking for close to 10 hours, and my feet felt almost as bad as my perineal nerve does at the end of a long day of bike riding. But as my friends Bill Withers and DJ Unk would have said if they ever made music together, sometimes in our lives, we all have pain, we all have sorrow, but if we are wise, we know that you have to do it like you do it and just walk it out. Now walk it out.

Thursday, August 14, 2008



I've been fairly critical of the Western media over the past two months (see 'A Day in the Life'), but I've been pleasantly surprised this last week at the eerie accuracy of news outlets in mirroring my current sentiments about Beijing (now I know what that Argentinian journalist posing as an umbrella saleswoman meant when she said she wanted "to protect me from the storm" – my weakness for girls with accents will probably lead to an early death, or at least recruitment as a paper-pusher in a mid-level government agency).

Before arriving in China, I remember hearing about Beijing's pollution and thinking it couldn't be any worse than the "heat advisory" days during Texas summers, when newscasters warn those near the cradle and the grave to avoid venturing outdoors. Thinking I could take anything after 19 consecutive Julys of 100% humidity and temperatures at 100°F and above, I embarked on my first afternoon in Beijing without a hint of concern for my personal health. Needless to say, the fog (smog) left me with some minor heat stroke and a nosebleed (just like my once-a-week meltdowns during recess in elementary school – one of the many side effects of childhood obesity). A week later, I found the BBC's Beijing Pollution Watch, but because the data is posted with a 12 hour delay, it doesn't actually have preventative benefits – it just helps to quantify the day-to-day reductions in my life expectancy.

In addition to the "Your Body is Slowly Deteriorating" In Pictures page, the BBC also broke a story concerning the empty seats at Olympic venues. After noticing that very phenomena while watching the Opening Ceremonies, I decided to take a stab (non-violently, of course) at persuading volunteers to let me in to the Worker's Gymnasium, which hosts boxing and judo matches. My friend and I argued with one of the head officials, trying to find out what harm could come from letting us in as paying spectators. The man informed us that ticketless individuals would most likely be terrorists (which he emphasized by saying the word 'terrorist' in English, multiple times, with great gusto and emphasis), so officials were unwilling to risk the safety of other attendants. While we were fortunate enough to be approached by a scalper in the midst of this extremely heated (but not radical) argument, I'm still bothered that, even though all of the events are "sold out," every venue I've visited has had at least 1/3 of its seats without a spectator. While the city is currently hiring local residents to don matching yellow shirts and cheer for both sides (to promote a balanced and enjoyable Olympic experience), I'm frustrated to be sitting in an artificially chilled apartment doing my 5th load of laundry when I could be watching some hot girl-on-girl action at the women's badminton semi-finals (you got this one, Indonesia!).

My podcast obsession (thanks ABC World News Webcast!) alerted me to another story that the Western media had surprisingly picked up on – the horrendous food at Olympic venues. I arrived at handball this Monday, having held out on my daily 7-11 croissant for the delicious hot dogs and sandwiches I had been promised on the Olympics website. Sadly, I had to settle for a choice between the President's dried noodles, Bimbo bread or stuffed sausage, among other delectable and sexually-suggestive reconstituted treats.

Of all the spot-on stories to break this week, I sympathized the most with the ugly step-sister of the Opening Ceremonies, who suffered a real-life re-enactment of Singin' in the Rain. Seven-year-old Yang Peili was replaced by a prettier, less-talented Lin Miaoke after a politburo official said Peili's crooked teeth and chubby cheeks were inappropriate for the face of the country's future (I bet she cayn't stand'im). While I've been taking measures to make sure this never happens to me (Invasalign: Tray 17 out of 40), I hope little Peili gets her revenge - or at least a Lifetime Movie of the Week.

Sunday, August 10, 2008



I've never witnessed first-hand a human being's emergence from the vaginarius canalera (I tried to find the actual term in latin, but I got so grossed out by pictures of seconds-old babies that I had to stop googling), but I imagine it's a spectacular (-ly nauseating) sight to behold. At least, that's how I felt during the viewing party of the Opening Ceremonies – proud and queasy.

Beijing had to endure a particularly lengthy gestation period of eight years for the arrival of 08/08/08 (the number eight in Chinese, 八, is pronounced 'ba,' which sounds like the word for prosperity/wealth), and the pregnancy of this new global metropolis has had its fair share of labor pains. For weeks, fog (smog) covered the city, only receding after immense rainstorms (induced by the weather doctors' desires to ease the capital's discomfort). Protesters called into question the legitimacy of China's western provinces (the Dalai Lama [Mama] thinks paternity tests may be unnecessary). Residents even disputed the "renovation" of hutongs across the city, as government officials cleared the way for the baby's bedroom (they went with an aviary motif) and tub (the changing light displays put the ba-ba-ba into bathtime!).

And even though I've only lived here for seven weeks (far short of the 417 experienced by long-time Beijingers), I was incredibly anxious for the big day to pass through the annals (canals) of speculation and have its height (a little over 4 hours), weight ($40 billion for the venues and infrastructure) and eye color (red, duh) etched into Olympic history. I was relatively calm when the ceremony first started (by now I'm used to the fireworks, which I thought were bombs on my first night [see 'I Made It']), but I was calling for an epidural once the 57 ethnic babies handed over the Chinese flag to the police state (I prefer flashing lights to subtle symbolism). During the parade of nations, I turned to Dr. Jager/Mr. Heineken for increased relaxation (I had everyone in the room pick a color, and when the flag of the entering country featured that color, they had to 'relax' just a little bit more).

I had some pretty strong false contractions once the United States made its debut (the first character for US in Chinese is 美, mei, which has nine strokes – nations entered in the ascending number of strokes), but I assuaged my fears with a rousing (-ly off-key) rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner. I got a little louder with the respective emergences of Germany (Dirk!) and Chile (my soon-to-be nation of residence), but I saved my most heartfelt screams for the extraordinarily large (7 ft 6 inches to be exact) entrance of the Chinese flag-bearer. It was as if the walls of the entire country were expanding (dilating) with the cheers of over a billion people, their crowning moment slowly creeping into view. Once the torch was finally lit, we ran to the balcony, simultaneously watching the fireworks through both the television and window screens (contributing to the continued mental decline of an overstimulated generation).

The city's (and my own) hangover were palpable the next morning, but as Beijing has quickly matured from infancy and the terrible twos to pre-pubescent obesity and teenage angst over the past few days, I find that I'm still experiencing a combination of pride and nausea (and not from over-consumption, at least this time). In the two events I've attended so far (boxing and handball, both of which I understand very little), I've been overwhelmed by the nationalistic exhilaration of spectators cheering endlessly for the success of their fellow countrymen (with no US presence at today's contest, I rooted for the Angola women's handball team, who subsequently suffered a morale-crushing loss to Norway). However, the rumblings of unrest, increases in security and undercurrents of instability are still present at every corner, subway station and Olympic venue. Although I initially chose Beijing solely for the purpose of being here during the Games, I find myself secretly longing for the IOC chairman's call for the reunification of the world's youth in four years time during the Closing Ceremonies (the accompanying drinking game should ease the pangs of death little by little).

In the meantime, I'll sit and wait (and hopefully snag some more tickets) until the morning of August 25, 2008, when this city will suddenly wake up from an eight-year dream and wonder, What's next?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008



I read the news today, oh boy,
about a lucky man who made the grade.
And though the news was rather sad, 
Well, I just had to laugh – I saw the photograph.

Keeping up with the happenings of the far distant Western world has been an interesting challenge for the past six weeks. While the discovery of Google Reader has revolutionized my use of the interweb (finding the truth is now less inconvenient - thanks Al!), my eyes have been opened to the immense trivialities that plague the American media. CNN's Political Ticker reads like the who's who of "Stuff That Won't Matter Three Months from Today and In the End Won't Actually Impact Your Life." My once-beloved Entertainment Weekly spews out insignificant facts concerning the day-to-day occurrences of D-list reality stars and no-surprise box office bombs (maybe if Mulder turned out to be a transgendered alien stripper from Uranus people would have believed in the X-Files sequel). I've drifted toward the BBC, but I'm realising there's a connexion between changes in my writing endeavours as a traveller and my new favourite programme. Bollocks.

He blew his mind out in a car.
He didn't notice that the lights had changed.
A crowd of people stood and stared.
They'd seen his face before – nobody was really sure if he was from the house of lords.

Beijing is a crowded city, and there's no place you notice it more than on the streets (or underneath them). The concept of the "queue" doesn't really exist in China, a fact which I quickly discovered when my trip through customs at the airport turned from a quick five minutes to nearly an hour. Continually perplexed by the absence of lines (Americans complain about having to wait, but they do it anyway), I asked my cabinmate on the Shanghai-->Beijing train (see 'Chinamerica') why chaos was the norm in public transportation. His response blew my mind: Because there are so many people in China, he said, if you don't fight for yourself, you'll be completely left behind. In the subway stations, if you don't push to get on the car, chances are you won't get on. The same reasoning can be applied to the roads, as well – three-lane highways often have five lanes of cars, as drivers who aren't aggressive are left in the dust (CO2 emissions). After understanding and embracing this train of thought, I now prefer the body surfing of a crowded transfer station to the "respect my personal space" of the Western world.

I saw a film today, oh boy. 
The English army had just won the war.
A crowd of people turned away,
but I just had to look, having read the book.

The part of my heart reserved for Hollywood has slowly atrophied during my time in Beijing. I haven't been to a movie theater since I saw Kung Fu Panda in preparation for my trip to China (and if you're wondering, all pandas don't sound like Jack Black - a fact I was disappointed to discover during my trip to the Beijing Zoo). China only allows 20 foreign movies to be released each year, and they usually aren't the best of the bunch. Instead of The Dark Knight and Wall*E, I've had to wade through 27 Dresses, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and Fool's Gold (This is my punishment for paying money to see Step Up 2: The Streets).

Woke up, got out of bed,
dragged a comb across my head.
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
and looking up, I noticed I was late.
Found my coat and grabbed my hat,
made the bus in seconds flat.
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke.
Somebody spoke, and I went into a dream. Ah.

I've finally mastered the 30-minute commute (I'm still working on the uncontrollable sweating). Once I overcame my fear of permanent brain damage/death, I was able to embrace the challenge of weaving through Beijing's non-stop rush hour. Not to say that I haven't had my fair share of difficulties – I've paid almost half the original price of my bike (a steep $26) in new parts and repairs. In my six weeks in this city, I've already purchased a new bike seat, pedal, brake pad, tire tube and bike chain. Today I broke my record of two visits in an afternoon to the bike repair man after having three completely unrelated things go wrong in less than an hour (missing screw, broken chain and malfunctioning pedals). If there was a Tour de Chance of Your Bike Breaking, that yellow jersey would be completely soaked in my uncontrollable sweat.

I read the news today, oh boy.
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire.
And though the holes were rather small, they had to count them all.
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.

Beijing has gotten a lot of negative press in the past few months. After spending time with the people and getting to know this city, it's become far easier to spot the blatant biases and insensitive overtones that plague coverage from most major news sources. Yes, China has problems, and yes, the pollution is bad, but there is so much more to this city than the fog (smog) and censorship. The people in this country have been waiting eight years for 8:08:08 on 08/08/08, and I am thrilled to be here to share it with them. The municipal government declared Friday a city-wide holiday, so I'll be out in full-force, cheap ($0.44!) beer in hand, watching Beijing's coming out extravaganza (Ellen must be feeling pretty sad, since she only got a TIME magazine cover and a daytime talk show [on an unrelated note, I'd love to turn her on]).