Wednesday, February 28, 2007

010307

Abundance and scarcity, two extremes... And so in evidence here in China, in an historical and cultural way...

The abundance of goods is astounding in China! If you think you have abundance in the West, wait until you come to China. And I think interesting how Mao's foibles and mistakes created this abundance (of material goods) via Deng Xiaopeng.

Mao's 'Great Leap Backward,' (1950s) caused the death of 30-million people (by starvation – nothing to eat). His 'Cultural Revolution' (1967-77) 'starved' China of art, thought, and expression, now so in evidence in 2007. One extreme creating its opposite (enantiodomia). Mao could have never understood this, nor would he believe what's happened ('the Capitalist Roaders' actually creating this abundance). He and Marx, had ideals that only 'work' in a perfect world, not this one!

In this 'real' Chinese world, people are able to 'create' whatever sells (capitalism) and I'm guessing have secretly 'vowed' that it would never be like is was in the past, as they have suffered greatly. I'm guessing this 'abundance,' a reaction to their past.

There are 'mountains' of everything, of food, fruit, vegetables, meat, mushrooms, berries, seeds and nuts, clothing, shoes, drinks (in plastic bottles), boxes full of special things for 'Spring Festival,' and on and on... Mountains of coal for heat, mountains of stores selling everything imaginable, and mountains upon mountains of people upon people! It's astounding for me to walk around China and experience it! There is just about everything available everywhere. Comrade Xiaopeng created prosperity!

When I go cycling, I don't have to carry much with me on my bicycle. I know some little stall will be selling water, or tea, or whatever I need. There's some kind of food stall every 100 meters (in communities). One wonders how they survive with so much competition? I think they're happy if they make one sale per day, and that can be as little as 3RMB / .25 cents U.S.

So, I think we can safely say that 'Communism,' creates scarcity, and 'Capitalism' creates abundance (albeit extremes).

An example of an another extreme in the same culture, the dirth of syllables in the Chinese language—500 (English has something like 6,000)!

I can't speak or read/write Chinese, but I know much now about the language.

And recently, having come up with a URL for our Chinese video-sharing Web site: http://mayu.mobi I learned even more. I found an enlightening Chinese-English dictionary in the Xinhua Bookstore in Xining.

I have been asked what the 'words' 'mamayuyu,' (.com) and 'mayu?' (.mobi) mean? Actually nothing in Chinese, as they're created. But, their syllables ('ma' and 'yu') mean plenty!

Because the Chinese language has so few syllables they've had to create four different ways of pronouncing each, thus extending spoken 'meanings/definitions' to 2,000 (4 X 500): flat-level, descending, ascending, 'down-up'. Thus, the way you pronounce 'ma,' can mean either 'mother,' or 'horse.'

But, even more stuplifying is when you write 'ma' it can have something like 100 different meanings (depending on the characters)! Note: There are something over 100,000 Chinese characters, each with a 'sound' and 'meaning' element. (They say you have to understand atleast 5,000 characters to be able to read the daily newspaper.)

The syllable 'yu,' even more prolific, as it can mean (and I counted in my new Chinese-English dictionary) something like 465 different things—again, depending on the characters you use!

So, how in the world do Chinese people ever understand each other? In a word, 'practice.'

I believe 'language,' is culture! Basically people create spoken language with usage. I know what you're talking about, because I know you (common history, background, family, business/industry, etc.). Written Chinese more universal and pedantic.

But, to make it even more difficult, there's 'Simplified Chinese' and 'Traditional Chinese.' 'Pinyin' in between, as the intermittent 'language' to transpose Chinese characters into Roman letters (in order to use a computer keyboard). Unfortunately, 'Pinyin,' not well thought out, in my opinion, as the Roman letters don't reflect Western pronounciation.

There are 56 different ethic groups in China, each speaking their own dialect. Mandarin (Pinyin for) 'Putonghua,' is the official Beijing language. But, not everyone understands this, thus different groups, other groups! The local dialect is what is used on a daily basis (even in Shanghai). If, however, you want to write a letter to President Hu in Beijing, you better use Mandarin.

So, I say to my Chinese friends... If you think English is difficult for you, Chinese is even more difficult for Westerners!

I think for me to speak/write Chinese fluently, I'd have to have been born in China!

I'll bet my Western friends don't know that Chinese had its own (and still used) numbering system. - = 'one.' It wasn't until recently (1979) that they made the switch to Western numbers: 1,2,3, etc. In fact, the people still use a hand-signalling 'code,' for numbers (which I barely have learned). I can answer the question ('How old are you?), both orally and with hand, as having been taught by my cycling partner, Xu Tan ('Tom' nee 'Richard' nee 'Richa'):

In Chinese, '67-years old,' is 'Lio shi chi' (English phonetics). I'll have to 'capture an image(s) of my hand indicating such (and upload to www.cyclingpeace.org/gallery) for you to see.

China on the opposite side of the globe from the U.S., has its own uniqueness, and nothing like what exists in the West. In the past, being isolated and having a history of atleast 2,300 years, totally different!

Although now, and for better... The two different 'cultures' (East and West) are growing together!

'We're coming together!

Everything, and everybody, everywhere.

We're coming together!'

This is good!

'Abundance creates scarcity,' and vice versa! This is Taoism!

Monday, February 26, 2007

270207

And yet another day has departed
The light,
To rise like the Phoenix,
Tomorrow!

And yet another day gone,
Like ticks of a clock,
The ship arrives at the dock,
On yonder shore!

Here today,
Gone tomorrow,
'Struting and fretting
Our hour upon the stage,
To be heard no more!'

Only this moment
We have!

Stop the clock,
Break it with a rock,
The Heart Stone,
The union of compassion and wisdom
Unconditional love,
Beyond all feeling,
'Won' in the same!

Only this moment
We have!

I've lived 24,455 days, including this one! I wonder how many more?

'To be heard no more!'

250207

Recently, having this Apple Mini computer, with a big Samsung display, and being in one place long enough, I've been catching up on all the movies (inexpensive pirated DVDs) I've missed in the past several years.

A couple nights ago I watched, 'Cinderella Man,' starring Russell Crowe and Renee Zegweller. This is the true story of boxes James J. Braddock, who Damon Runyon called 'Cinderella Man' thus the title.

This is the best 'Hollywood,' movie I've seen in awhile! Yes, manipulative, as commercial drama must be (to highten the tension), but a great story of 'comeback!' How one man persevering can overcome all odds to win the 'Derby,' in this case the 'Heavyweight Championship of the World!' Plus, a positive story about a nuclear family that survives in tack! With no overt sex, and violence a part of the narrative, I have to give this movie 'thumbs up!' Rent and watch with your children, as they respond to stories. This is the kind of movie 'Hollywood' should be producing!

But, by in large, the following is true, from an article from www.iht.com, entitled, 'Hollywood Rides Off Into the Sunset!' You could call this, 'The decline of the American film industry, the fall of Rome!'

'Too often American filmmakers grind out formulaic, shock-and-awe blockbusters with gratuitous violence, sex and special effects that may be winning the battle of Monday-morning grosses, but are losing the war for hearts and minds.'

And why is that...? To make money! Money is God! They're (actually 'Hollywood' not to blame), it's the audience (the unconscious masses responding to 'fairy tales!') that demands it--'Hollywood' just responds to the market! 'We have met the enemy and he is us!' (Walt Kelly)

'For all their brawn, American filmmakers, like the generals in Iraq, are in danger of losing the battle of ideas.'

They've already lost both battles! Just don't know it!

'Khan Lee, the director of Zeus Pictures, an independent studio in Taipei, has offered this blunt take on this issue: "Hollywood is a dinosaur that has destroyed and occupied our minds for too long. The world is full of new stories waiting to be told, and new audiences waiting to hear them, even if we use Hollywood's template to do so.

'The world is changing," says González Iñárritu. "The film community is now a global film community. It's not anymore about cultural barriers or language barriers. It's emotion and humanity. We are using the power of cinema to cross borders.'

What a great idea! We'd like to be apart of this, in fact doing suh, already producing in one country, The Netherlands. It's entitled, 'Similarities' in English.

Wherever I go we produce a 'movie,' whose theme is the same: 'How similar all peopleare, no matter what culture, or era, they live in!'

In Holland (The Netherlands) it's called 'Over...' something. Strange, this was the word given to me by my Dutch friends (when I was there). Now, can't remember it. When I went to www.dictionary.com, the 'translator,' came up with something totally different!

In China... I'm sorry www.openoffice.org (version 2.1), the word processing program I use, does not yet support Chinese, so I can't give you the word (characters).

From movies to water... Both powerful forces, although different in the nature of their power...

China has a water problem:

'Beijing's solution to the water problem is a grandiose, and controversial, "south-to-north" transfer project, which would pump water along channels from the Yangtze River in southern China to replenish the country's thirsty north, including the Yellow River. Officials say they believe that the plan, potentially the most expensive public works project ever in China, is the best hope for maintaining economic growth in the north, but critics point to practical and environmental concerns, and are fighting to block plans for a channel through Qinghai Province .

I have a coal dust/air pollution problem in my flat (all of Xining), speaking of Xining...speaking of Qinghai Province... I now know what living was like in Pittsburgh, Pa., at the 'turn of the 20th Century!'

Wouldn't you know the first time I move into my own place (in China) it isn't long before I can't live there (for whatever reason). Best financial situation... the PSB (Chinese police) say I can't live t/here, and I get a refund from my landload (written into contract). Second, more likely solution, I move out to Qinghai Lake, 150KM west, and 1000M higher in elevation (no coal dust there!). But, no ADSL (fast Internet conection) there either! You get some things, you lose some things!

Ah, there's never a perfect living situation, only what serves your needs for the moment! Most people simply rationalize their situation (meaning they lie to themselves).

Yesterday, I took the longest bicycle ride in some time, something like 40 to 50KM (three hours). I've lost so much 'qi' (endurance) with this recent bout with the flu—a struggle yesterdy! Amazing what you can lose in two weeks, that took four months to acquire!)! It will take a month of hard struggle to get it back, and with some help from the herb Ginseng (an 'adaptagen').

After out of Xining the highway (#109) becomes two lanes, but a good one.

Cycling along, I noticed the 'Spring light!' It's changed, the sun light, in just one week, evolving from 'winter light,' to 'Spring light!' You can tell, or I can, just by looking. Most Chinese people mesmorized by a small screen (lucky for http://mayu.mobi -- our video sharing site)! I'm personally interesting in the largest 'screen' in existence, 'father sky!'

I went out the highway going west from Xining as far as '1979 KM' (the distance 'sign' from Beijing).

Interesting in China, it's never the distance to a city, but your distance from Beijing. So, I knew I was 1979 KM / 970 miles from Bejing (not far enough!). That puts Xining roughly 1950 KM from Beijing (not far enough).

But, I liked it, the day, the direction. Next time I'll go further, and further every time, until I think I can make Qinghai Lake (150KM) on a loaded bicycle.

In the meantime, getting to know Xining and the area better and better. The terrain, very dry the brown hills not until Kashigar actually. In fact, there are parts of Xining that remind me of Kashigar.

I departed Kashigar for two reasons: too much dirt dust and Uyghur people.

Now, I'm dealing with coal dust in Xining, so who knows... I may not be long for this city either!

Monday, February 19, 2007

180207

I've been dancing! No, not with any human being, but the 'Divine Lover!' The 'Two Step' to the Cox Family's 'Let me rest!' I've also been known to rock 'n roll! And I don't need a partner to 'get it on!'

Heck, I remember the 'Revolution,' a club in London in the Sixties! We used to 'tear it up' there! I mean you'd look over and there would be Mick Jagger, or John Lennon (with 'trophy' models). Of course, they weren't any body then! We were the 'somebodies,' ABC's infamous 'Wrecking Crew,' known far and wide at 'watering spots,' as the baddest bunch in televised sports! Shit, if I told you some of the stories you wouldn't believe them? Ever (almost) hijack a 747 over the Atlantic? We did! Ever charter a twin-engine Beechcraft Aztec, just so you'd be on time for a date with a Playboy Bunny! We did! Ever pose as a 'package,' and have yourself 'delivered' to Kennedy Airport during a transit strike? We did! Ever wake up in another country sleeping beside a woman whose name you couldn't remember, not knowing how you got there? We did! Of course, we were young, dumb, wild and crazy! Sex, alcohol/drugs, and rock n roll! We invented it!

'Those were the days my friends, we thought they'd never end!' Ah, 'those memories I left behind!'

My new flat (in Xining) decorated with candles and burning incense! Music, candle light, carpets, little furniture, warmth, that's an 'indoor' place to me! 'Demchog and Dorjie' hang on my bedroom wall! I'm a devotee of 'Shakti Yoga!'

I'm soon to have Xugang's Chinese calligraphy framed and put up! Then there's my favorite child's drawing framed and sitting on the floor at Indy's Cafe in Kashigar—this given to me by a Chinese girl on my birthday a couple years ago. I must get that here!

I've been shopping for the flat, domestic stuff! It's kinda fun as I haven't done any such for such a long time. But, you have to have stuff to make your life manageable!

I'm a 'laowai,' or 'foreigner' (here in China) and we're spoiled (compared to Chinese people)! We have to have hot-water bathing, the pumbling working, especially the toilet. I need certain other things, like plants, and things on the walls. I like the furniture set up in such a way (had to move things around here). I like rugs. I try to create a 'womb,' at home, a refuge from the maddening crowd 'out there!'

So, for the last two days I've gone to a store I discovered one day walking (when too ill to ride). This is a small variety store with so many different products you can hardly get through the aisles. I bought a 'clever,' chopping block, a wok, dishes, cups, utensils, cleaning brushes, clothes hangers, a desk lamp and bulbs, a metal 'scrubber' (for pots and pans) a broom and dustpan, candles and even fireworks at this store (not Walmart thank God!). I think I spent about $30U.S. / 250 RMB. So, now I'm their 'favorite son!'

I like music and art, but not TV. Thus, my computer (iTunes) is loaded with all my Cds, and soon the walls will be covered. I got 'culture' long ago, and miss it when not there.

The one thing I miss living in Asia is sophistication. This is hard to describe, except for those who would understand.

The Chinese people absolutely addicted to TV. Everywhere you go it is, and I hate that, especially in restaurants. To me they are wonderful people (kind and generous) but generally naive and unsophisticated.

Every once in awhile I like to talk about Spinoza, or Bach maybe Nietschie (a man who said God is dead!). Or, maybe Pink Floyd, or movies! There's really no one in all of China that can talk to me in English about such subjects. Of course, there's my friend Carl in Urumqi that could, but he's from New Zealand.

I went riding today. Both to see if the Computer Mart was open (no) and to also get some exercise. My recent bout with the flu really took the 'qi' out of me. I have to build back my endurance! I think I rode something like 10KM (carrying little) and it was enough. I discovered that Wang Qing He is correct when he says it's all 'up,' going west (to Qinghai Lake - 150KM). Plus, there was 'xifeng' (west wind) in my face.

And the light! That wonderful winter light at this latitude (same as Colorado Springs). Amazingly, I found a city that approximates where I used to live in the U.S. No wonder I feel at home!

I'm very sensitive to light, whereas most people hardly notice the difference between night and day. Whereas architects and photographers know much about light. If I didn't know by calendar the season, I'll bet I could tell you just by the light. Each has a distinct difference. It has to do with the angle and the intensity. Sometimes I have a 'sense memory,' moment, when looking at a certain light can trigger another time and place! Sometimes it almost brings tears to my eyes!

Today riding two great examples of globalization, right here in Xining. On the west side of the city where I was, I discovered an apartment complex that had been named, 'Poetic Vienna!' Who would ever have thunk? Then riding on the bridge over the _______ (north-south), River , I hear, via loudspeakers, 'Oh Susannah!' I mean in Xining? Maybe Shanghai, but Xining?

What is globalization, but combining the elements of other cultures to sell things. To attract people's attention.
Nietschie
I was looking for two things today. One a street tailor (women who put their sewing machine on the street and make money repairing clothing), and two a high-pressure hose (to clean Ms. Fiets). But, I discovered what I already knew that during 'Spring Festival,' people take a break! I found neither!

I had ridden past the Computer Mart hoping it would be open so I could return a non-working DVD (a classical music concert from the year 2,000), and get another movie. I'm stuck with 'Lord of the Rings,' and Lord... What a piece of 'ka-ka,' yet another 'tell me again daddy' fairy tale, with a billion dollars worth of FX (special effects). But, the same ole 'good versus evil,' theme, a beautiful queen, with a handsome/strong hero, and some cute guys (hobbits)! The only thing I enjoyed was seeing New Zealand, as this is where the movie was 'shot!' Also, my 'goddess of singing,' Enya sung one of the end-credit songs. I say 'one of,' as the end-credits must win an award for the longest in history. I'm sure there's at least one thousand people mentioned. I only got through the 'Bs' in the 'Original Ring Society,' before I could stand no more!

But, since the Computer Mart was still closed, I'm forced to watch more of Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings.'

Who was Tolkien, anyway...? This is what the encyclopedia says at www.dictionary.com :

“John Ronald Reuel Tolkien CBE (January 3, 1892 – September 2, 1973) was an English philologist, writer and university professor who is best known as the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, as well as many other works. He was an Oxford professor of Anglo-Saxon language (1925 to 1945) and English language and literature (1945 to 1959). He was an orthodox Roman Catholic. Tolkien was a close friend of C. S. Lewis; they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the 'Inklings.'”

Fairy tales, what Tolkien wrote, are very important, actually—just that once beyond, worthless. They're an outward projection of the battle within. That's why children ask them to be repeated over and over again, they need to hear that good triumphs over evil, and that the handsome prince and beautiful princess live happily ever after. The trick in life is to internalize these 'fantasies,' and to do battle with the demons in your mind (your greatest 'enemy' is yourself)! This is Jung's 'Individuation' process, coming 'out the other end,' a fully developed adult. However, most don't achieve this afraid to go 'inside' and face the truth!

Ah, but for sophistication in the West!

You see, I told you 'laowai' ('foreigners') were spoiled! Many would love to watch 'The Lord of the Rings,' on my 19-inch Samsung display, with stereo speakers! Me, I have to 'suffer' through it (in my warm flat)!

Friday, February 16, 2007

160207 (I wake up to it snowing outside.)

What an incredible day! Chinese people coming out of the woodwork to help me! And always they won't accept any money! I really, it sounds strange, can hardly give my money away in China. Of course, to the street people, but to no one else. Waitresses won't accept tips. In fact, they chase you down the street to return a ten-cent tip! Amazing!

This is going to sound a bit chauvinistic, and those of you entwined in American culture won't understand. But, why should I live in the U.S., when I can live in China? 'Wo ai Zhongua!'

I mean, I don't need the NFL,

Or, the Texas hell,

Nor MacDonalds!

I don't need 'Christian self-righteousness,'

As all wrong,

The president, 'Bush

League!'

I don't need the high costs;

Property taxes,

Nor the automated responses,'

The chic, the hip-

Hop,

Or, Rap!

Don't need the need the 'protection,'

The killing police,

'Oh, sorry' we thought he was a 'terrorist!'

I don't need no Dunkin' Donuts,

Trans-fat life!

Facism is in fashion, and guess where? Do you know the definition of Facism? 'Fear of the masses!' That's exactly what has happened, you know where! And not only there, but in other countries as well! It's a 'growth industry.'

What to do? Speak out about it!

In the meantime, the Chinese people impress me more and more! Let me give you examples, just today!

I walk in the snow!

I have fun shopping in the open street markets. I buy red candles and incense. I buy some fresh broccoli. I buy a jar of tahini (sesame seed butter). I buy some utility things for my flat.

I stop and have lunch ('chao mi fan,' fried rice) at the restaurant next to my old hotel. A big bowl with soup and tea costs 5RMB, or .60 cents.

I go to the laundry to pick mine up, all ironed and folded. The cost for 'one load?' 17RMB / $1.90 U.S. I tried to give them 3 RMB more, but she wouldn't take it!

I go to the Merida Bicycle Store/club to move both bicycles to my flat (during Spring Festival not open), and hopefully two packages Richa sent to me from Shanghai. I manage to explain, when Richa doesn't pick up the telephone, that I need help, someone to ride the Giant bicycle to my flat. I tell them I'll pay!

Guo Xi, my new friend there, understands written English, so we write notes. No problem, the young helper will follow me. I show him my flat on a map of Xining. They carry both bicyles up to the main floor (from the basement). I discover Richa's package from Shanghai—Oh, great, as I need! But, when I ask them about my sister's letter (forwarded from Shanghai), no not yet!

We go off, and crank to my flat. It's not that far, and takes maybe ten minute. The 'kid,' is right on my 'tail' all the way!

He carries the Giant bicycle up to my third floor apartment ('flat' in Europe and Asia). I follow! I try to give him food and/or water. No, not needed. I try to give him 10RMB / $1.25 U.S. He refuses. This time I protest, but he won't have it! I thank him profusely!

I rest a bit, take the break to open the package from Richa. This has the woolen cap Ning, Stephanie's mother has knitted for me. I'm surprised as it turns out to be a red 'beret,' and very cool! I shall wear for 'Spring Festival!'

After a cup of tea I'm about to crank off to the computer mart when someone knocks on the door. I open to discover my bicycle rider, the young Chinese guy from Merida. He's returned to deliver me the letter from my sister! It arrived at the Merrida store right after we departed. Again, with much thanks I try to give him 10RMB for their thoughtfulness! Again, and the 'theme' of the day: No, he'll not accept any money, not one 'Mao!' (one-tenth of one RMB). What am I to do? I can't even give my money away in China!

Right behind him I crank off to the computer mart. I need to return 'Titanic,' DVD as n.g. Also my microphone/headset is still not working, both the headset and microphone. The microphone has never worked, but last night no sound out of the earphones, from the DVD movies! Luckily I have speakers! But, this is the second time I've been back to the stall where I purchased the headset.

The snow, what little bit fell from the sky, is now slush on the streets. But, I'm so happy it snowed! A 'White Spring Festival!' I shall write a song!

I lock Ms. Fiets in the usual place, across the street from the computer mart, and then risk my life playing 'chicken' with the incessant motor vehicles!

In the computer mart I look for a small lamp, but find none!

I go to the headset stall. I'm standing there looking unhappy (so they get the idea) when the girl clerk who speaks English arrives. I explain. They test it! It works, both the microphone and the earphones! Ah, wrong again! What's going on? The mic/headset must not like my Apple Mini. I'm chagrined! They suggest I bring the computer there to the stall, so they can solve the problem. I explain, not so easy.

While I'm packing up, a young Chinese man accosts me, explaining in English. English always gets my attention (in Asia)! He volunteers to come to my flat! I'm amazed! Would this happen in the U.S.? We arrange to meet there in thirty minutes.

On the way out he follows me, and helps exchanging the n.g. 'Titanic' DVD. I trade it for 'Good Will Hunting.' This is prophetic! 'Good will' seems to find me everywhere in China, no need to hunt for it!

I crank back to 26 Da Tong1 Jie (my new residence address in Xining). He's waiting at the gate, having taken a taxi (6RMB / .80 cents). Upstairs, I offer food and drink. All he wants is water.

At the computer I give my spiel ('warning' don't change anything!) before I allow him to touch! But, he seems to know what he's doing. Turns out, he thinks Chinese peripherals only work with 'Windows2.' He tells me I probably have the only Apple Mini in all of Qinghai Province! I offer to pay him for coming to my flat! Again, he refuses, explaining he came as a friend (this is the 'private manners,' I wrote about: If you come to help a friend you can't accept money!). Another example of why I enjoy living in China (even with all the negatives), the people!

Later I'm sitting on the couch eating an apple with tahini, relaxing when... A knock at the door. It's Mr. Wu, like Santa Claus, arrives with more gifts. He can't seem to do enough for me! He's brought a wok, a washing tub, a new calendar for 2007, a desk lamp for the bedroom (which I'd try to buy today, but never found), bedding, and soap. I'm overwhelmed at this point! I thank him ad naseum.

I want to fall on my knees and thank God!

The 'worm has turned!' Certainly, the 'Pig' (07) has taken over from the 'Dog' (06) (my nemesis)!

My flat is perfect! Funky, but comfortable, quiet, and serves my needs for the moment! Best, I'm out of a hotel!

I cook the broccoli in the wok. Note, it's been a long time since I've cooked my own food, maybe two years!

Recipe: Cook the broccoli buds in rapeseed oil, soy sauce, and red wine. Add cut up slices of fresh garlic. Stir until tender. Sprinkle in some peanuts. Ah, pretty good.

Life is good!

Life is!

I do fall on my knees and thank God! 'Oh, master, Lord, and God, my divine lover! How may I please you? How may I serve you?

Aren't you glad you had the 'opportunity' to be 'here!' No matter what travail in your life? You have consciousness, you know you're alive! Animals don't! Certainly the dinosaur didn't know s/he was 'hear!' We do! Take advantage of such, gain wisdom!

HAPPY NEW YEAR'S EVE! ('The Year of the Pig')

Tomorrow I shall wander around Xining 'shooting' video. In fact, bought a box of MiniDV cassettes at the computer mart so as not to run out. 'Roll, roll, everything you stand for! Roll on! Roll on!

Crank on! Keep going! Never give up! Never, 'until you've drank from that silver cup. You never know until you try!'

'Climb high!

Ride far!

Your goal the sky!

Your aim the stars!'

F.A. Hutchison

Frederick

Alexander

Hutch

Haqi

Making magic together!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

140207 St. Valentine's Day in the West (although now 'celebrated' in Shanghai)

Oh, life how interesting!

Did you know that Iceland 'doubled' for Iwo Jima, in the movie 'Flags of our Fathers?' Iceland must have the same rugged coast line that I.G. Had 60+ years ago, and now probably condomiums, beach resorts with golf courses.

In the last three evenings I've watched three American movies: 'The Bodyguard,' 'Apocalyto,' and 'Flags...' All very violent, in its own way! Violent death what America seems to be about. But, let's examine the 'themes' of each, the 'theme' what the motion picture is about. Most viewers don't realize that movies about about something. Writers don't write just for money, they're trying to communicate something.

In the case of 'The Bodyguard,' it's dedication to duty! In 'Apocalyto,' it's about survival. In 'Flags....' a little more difficult to identify, maybe one of serveral, 'heroes are something we create,' 'the truth shall set us free,' and 'war victimizes everyone!'

I didn't particularly like any of them, maybe 'Flags...' as I'm old enough to remember WWII, and that famous photograph of the flag raising on top of Mt. Suribachi. But, I didn't know the 'true story,' that the photograph depicted a second flag raising, a twist on history. Thus, the men in the famous photograph, really weren't the ones that should have gotten the credit. This, Eastwood-Spielberg collaboration must have cost hundreds of millions of U.S. Dollars reproducing a period war movie, with all the old planes an ships. But so graphically violent, with decapitated heads and screaming death. Again, America seems to be about nothing but violent death, in one form or another. Always the theme, 'Violence as solution!'

In the 'NYTimes' today (13 February 07): 'Gunman Kills 5 in Utah Shopping Mall,' 4 killed at Philly Business Meeting.'

What about peace as solution? Ah, I'm one of those 'tree-huggers!' We can't make the world safe for American capitalism this way!

And all during the three DVD movies a repeated warning not to copy! Yet, all of them being pirated copies! Each cost me 10RMB / $1.50U.S., and all except 'Flags...' was of good quality. I'm afraid 'Hollywood' is losing this battle, at least in Asia.

Yesterday, I rented a flat! This very much thanks to my new Chinese friend, Richard #2. And it all happened in one day! He had called the previous evening to inform me one of the 'renting agents,' had found a suitable place, and we should have a look. So, we made a date to meet at 1100. By 6:30P.M. I was the 'proud' occupant of an 80-square apartment (two bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom, den/sun room), and all for $100U.S. Per month.

So, much happened yesterday! Not only did I rent a flat, but looked at another to compare. This near a Buddhist Monatery, but dirty and not acceptable. Thus, it didn't take long to say 'yes,' to the other, as the 'landlord,' a Mr. Wu, if not only a cyclist, but works for the Qinghai Government. I rent people not spaces! I learned long ago about landlords. But, I liked this guy right off the bat! I liked the flat right off the bat too. Kinda funky, but my style. At least clean!

On the 4th floor of an old 'classic' Chinese apartment complex, it gets some sun (a prerequistie) and has steam heat (good in a dry climate). He's installing a hot-water heater for the bathroom which has a tub (no less). Of course, it's not 'perfect,' but will fulfill my needs of the moment. ADSL connection to the Internet for one! Out of a hotel for another! The second bedroom will allow me to have guests, like Richard (#1) when he comes from Shanghai. Indy if she comes from Kashigar.

Between the time of our first meeting to look at the apartment at 12 noon, and our second at 4:30P.M. To close the deal, I returned to the hotel for lunch. In addition, to picking up my laundry, getting money from an ATM (thanks to Richard #1 in Shanghai), shopping for gifts, I met Wang Qing He at the Merida Bicycle Shop. Whoa, too much!

Qing He, is a young cyclist that we'd met when first through Xining last November, on our way to Shanghai. I think we ran into him at the Giant Bicycle Shop. He was so kind to find us a suitable hotel, and cycling up North Mountain while we were there one week. We became friends. As it turned out he's off on Thursday, and helping me move into the new flat.

This is what is so great about Chinese people, willing to sacrifice (give up their day off) to help a friend.

Like what Richard #2 has done for me, spending two whole days helping me, and then refusing any money for such! I tried repeatedly, insisting that he accept something for his time, his expertise (translating for one thing), but he wouldn't! I can't give my money away in China!

This is where the West and the East are so different, and why I live in China. Wo ai Zhongua ren!

So, back to the renting agent's office by 4:30 I went, where we spent the next two hours 'hammering' out a lease agreement (with Mr. Wu). This is where Richard #2, was indespensable! He made it was easy, going over everything, explaining (translating) the Chinese contract—this the first I've ever signed.

They make you pay rent way in advance in China. The apartments I'd looked at with Mr. Liu wanted six months rent in advance. Mr. Wu only asked for three. Three months in advance O.K., but thereafter I needed to pay by the month until renewing my visa. All was agreed to and we signed the deal. I paid up front 3,300RMB / about $400 U.S. For three months including a 700RMB / $85 U.S. Deposit.

So, Thursday, tomorrow, I move in (with Qing He's help and am excited about having my own place! I've been basically living in hotels for the last two years (in China).

On the eve of 'Spring Festival' (New Year's Eve, February 18th), Xining, all of China in fact in the usual 'pre' frenzy. People are in 'holiday' mood, as this is their 'Christmas.' The crowds shopping for gifts, in a party mood!

Mr. Liu is gone to Hebei Province, Mr. Wu is going to Xi'an! Richard #1 departs Shanghai for Xi'an today! Everyone goes home for the holidays in China!

Me, I am home! What will I do? Just enjoy my new flat, maybe wander around Xining and videotape all the fireworks!

I was going to cycle out to Qinghai Lake1, but thought better of it, when they told me there's snow out there now. Qinghai Lake is at 3,100 meters elevation, and much colder. Not, that the cold would bother me, but I'd want to be able to cycle around. And cycling in the snow... Well, you better have the proper tires for such. Anyway, Qing He are going out in May to observe all the migratory birds returning. I'm sure May an easier deal! In the meantime, there's plenty of cycling around the Xining area.

The weather here wonderful, my kind: sunny, dry, cool! And every day!

Recently, Jim Speer's wife asked me, 'When are you coming home?' I told her, I am home! Tis true! I'm home anywhere in the world, wherever Ms. Fiets is parked!

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Ah, the last two days, wonderful! Some good days, some not-so-good days! But, the last two days making up for the past two weeks! I think we've made the transition from 'Dog' energy to 'Pig' energy! But, wow! The Dog bit me in the ass, while he still could! Interesting!

Yesterday, Yuan Yi ('Richard#2), the Chinese man working in Sweden, but home in Xining for the holidays, came by to help me with several things.

The first thing I did was show him www.haaqi.com, plus two Xining WEB sites that supposedly help register new businesses. Because these are in Chinese, he was a very big help! It turns out that they require about what Yangpu/Shanghai does, that 30,000RMB be deposited in a bank account for 2 months (they make some interest). Ostensably, this is to prove you have the resources to go into business. But, I know the 'game,' the Govenrment plays. They take their 'piece of the pie,' from the very beginning.

I learned interesting things about China from Richard#2 too. There is no such thing as 'private property' in China! The Government owns ALL THE LAND! And when you purchase you buy from the Government. If you purchase from a private party (who has purchased from the Government), the Government takes 40%! You complain about the Government in the U.S., you have no idea!

After that we walked to the Bank of China, to see about accessing funds from my U.S. Bank account. I thought we'd have to do this via a 'window,' etc., as I had done in Kashigar when first arriving there (a year ago). I've been having the same kinds of problems accessing accounts from banks in Xining. So, I wasn't hopeful, yet I'd said the right thing the previous night (lying in bed), 'The absence of all doubt, leads to complete success!' Thank you Padmasambhava!

Richard explained to the lobby attendants what I needed to do. I was directed to an ATM machine in the lobby. O.K., why not try, nothing ventured, nothing gained. The first time, I was rejected for God knows why (Chinese ATMS the quirkest of all in the world). They suggested I try again, but this time I wanted the bank employees to watch, see if I was doing it correctly. O.K., why not try, etc. This time, amazing! It worked. Maybe I'd hit the wrong 'enter,' key the first time, but this time came the sound indicating it's counting your money. I was delivered 2K RMB / $257. U.S. , much needed! Happy, happy I was, as we had a potential 'disaster' in the making (which I won't explain). I thanked Richard #2 all day long for this!

By then it was time to have lunch (although Richard said he was not hungry1). So, we walked west along Dong Guan 'East Gate,' Street. This is a main east-west thoroughfare in Xining, and where one of my favorite restaurants is located.

Here I had tofu and mi fan, my standard lunch. Richard wouldn't even have tea. Said he wasn't a 'tea person,' but no coffee on the menu. So, he drank hot water (in the U.S. You get iced water, in China, hot water). Interesting Richard living in Sweden for several years, is a very 'hip' guy! One of my new Chinese 'sons!'

We walked on to the main Xinhua Bookstore2 (was happy to discover its location). Here I bought a map of Xining and Qinghai Province.

Then we pursued what in the West we would call 'renting agents.' But, how to find in Xining? There is a 'Yellow Pages' book, but you have to purchase it, so it's not readily available. So, we got inventive, asking hotel clerks and taxi drivers how to find companies that have flat (apartment) listings.

Amazingly, we found two. The first a 'mom and pop,' deal in a small office. They had some listings, based on my minimum requirements (which of course, Richard#2, explained): southern exposure (Chinese concrete buildings always cold), good heating system, and a hot water shower. Also, that I cannot pay rent six-months in advance like most of the apartment complexes require. Beyond that I can adjust, as wanting to move quickly (out of the hotel).

We walked into the 'central' park, Richard#2 looking for similar businesses he remembered from three years ago (last time he was in Xining). Not being able to find he became frustrated complaining about how it SHOULD be, that finding these kinds of services 'should' be easier! I told him the operative word here is 'should!' The 'shoulds and ifs' of life! Then there's 'reality' to deal with!

I suggested a taxi, and returning to the hotel. He wanted to get back online to help finding out about registering www.haaqi.com in Qinghai Province. On the way back, the taxi driver knew of a 'renting agent,' place. So, we stopped in there first. Again, we went through the same kind of 'drill,' ultimately leaving my card for them to call when they have some to show me.

From there we walked back to the hotel. In my room, on this very computer, he got the telephone #s he needed and called about registration of a new company. As usual, late in the afternoon on a Friday, guess what? More numbers, and down the Government 'rabbit hole,' finally giving up.

It may be impossible to do what I want in China, start a talent-development business! But, I'll keep trying as long as I have a valid visa!

Richard#2 departed about 1730 hours, having spent the entire day helping me! For that I'm grateful! I asked him departing, 'What can I do for you?' Nothing he said, a nice guy, who speaks very good English. Also, some Swedish (Dick Hammerstrom).

We made plans to meet after he returns from Sweden in March. I want to interview his 92-year old grandfather on video. I'll bet he has a few stories!

Today, Saturday, the 10th of February, I got back on Ms. Fiets—what joy! This the first time in two weeks because I've been ill!

I went to the Merida Bike Shop, and purchased a helmet, wanting to repay them for their kindnesses. They won't take cash, so I bought a helmet for 480RMB / $60 U.S.. Maybe a little 'spendy' I didn't care, as they need money! This will go to 'Sarah,' the Chinese woman coming from Xining. I'm going to have James B. Feeney repaired somehow, as that's my own!

Wherever I go, he goes, my old and dear friend from our ABC Sports days! If I'd been wearing it two weeks ago, when I cycled up South Mountain, I might not have contracted Flu! Sound like I'm crazy? Well, I wore my friend's helmet for three months cycling to Shanghai (some 7,000KM). I had five accidents, one that could have been serious (on snow). Each time, there was little damage to me or Ms. Fiets! You think this is a coincidence... I don't!

I always say to cyclists who seem interested in what I wear cycling. 'You, wear or don't wear, whatever you want! You can go naked for all I care! It's your body, and life! I will wear what I think necessary to be comfortable, and to keep from getting hurt!'

Up at Kanas Lake one day (back in September, 06), I left James B. Feeney up on a mountain. Tom nee Richard was kind enough to go back up there and retrive for me. That very night I had our 'ghost experience!' I saw the back of James B., leaving the room (disappearing through the door). He'd come to 'thank' Richard while he was sleeping! No one has to explain this!

But, now I can't wear James B. Feeney (bicycle helmet), taking him everywhere... The clasp broke, and I was foolish to unthread the stap trying to replicate! Oh, I'm so stupid!

This helmet designed by Bell, well I don't want to demean James B., but not the best throught-out and manufactured (ten years ago). It's not two straps, as it should be fastened to the helmet itself, but one you have to thread just right, to make work. I've tried, they tried at the bicycle shop here, and we've not solved the problem yet. I'm wondering if James B. Is 'telling' me to wear a new one, that his may have had it's better day? But, how to know...? Since I deal in metaphysics, however, I'll know! Maybe I can transfer his energy to this helmet. I'll let them 'sleep' together! Sound crazy? Of course! 'Still crazy after all of these years!' (Paul Simon). This has always been one of my monikers!

You, most of you, live in a tiny 'box!' I live in a huge 'circle,' vaster than known existence!

Ni ming bai ma? Of course, not!

050207

I walked through an open-air street market today. These are prevalent in Asia, and China has it's own version. I wish you could have been with me! The sights, the smells, the energy overwhelming. Such abundance! Certainly capitalism creates this! But, no plastic or credit cards here! No Safeway. Just the real and raw thing in piles, or laid out on the ground, in cans, or boxes: vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, mushrooms, many kinds of food I can't even identify. Meat (primarily mutton), hung bodies, blood and guts, chickens with feet (as Chinese like to eat). I bought some semi-roasted peanuts, one-half kilo (1lb.) for 5 yuan, or about .70 cents. In addition, there were books and clothing, and everything under the sun for sale! How 'bout some fresh honey ('mi feng' in Chinese)? How 'bout a sack of coal? I saw green onions in bunches lying on the ground! And people everywhere, people, buying, selling, yelling!

Now, I'm about to watch a DVD movie entitled, 'Un fil a la patte!' I'm eating the peanuts now!

Then the telephone rings, my mobile. It is a Chinese woman named 'Jennifer,' who tells me we met in Shanghai. I don't remember, but her English is good, so I am cordial (all the time wondering who it is). Why did Richard give her my telephone number? She wanted nothing, however, but to say hello!

Richard is supposed to call with news about the bankcard in the mail, but I start the DVD anyway. I watch this movie produced in France, but can only guess the story. Chinese subtitles. But, 'viva la France,' this sexual comedy—good sexual intercoursing on screen!

And then tonight (the next night... Note, time so confusing), I watched a 'Hollywood' flick entitled, 'Firewall.' This a 'thriller,' about a 'virtual bank robbery,' kidnapping, and one man's fight to save his family. I wasn't expecting much, but then when I saw Harrison Ford acting for the first time in his life I went, 'Whoa, a director at last.' (Or, maybe Ford has finally learned how to 'not care1!') And sure enough this effort turns out to be worth watching. At the end, probably the best choreographed fight between two people ever! But, funny, always raining in the most of the scenes, as this took place in Seattle.

It was good to see the Space Needle in the b.g. in scenes from his bank office (the character was V.P, of Security of a bank). I watched the Space Needle being built in 1962. My first wife, Cathy, worked in the ATT Pavilion at the World's Fair, for which the Space Needle was built. Excuse the trivia.

Today I walked through another open-air street market. This one all clothing and other items. And if there's one clothing stall, there are fifty all together. The crowd in a 'Spring Festival' buying mood.

Interesting about this concept of grouping similar-product 'stores' all together. I didn't understand this for a long time, as so different in the West, where retailers all try to be different, and there's variety in a shopping mall. But, in China, the government makes all like-product 'outlets' be physically 'joined.' I wonder if that's to make collecting taxes easier.

I bought a leather wallet in a stall that had a variety of things, purses, Budhist items, paintings, The wallet cost all of 10RMB, that's $1.25U.S., and perfect for me liking the more primitive style. The man was so honest too... He could have charged me, should have charged me a 'lao wao,' (foreigner) price, but he didn't.

The Chinese people, most of them so wonderful. While I'm watching 'Firewall,' a knock at the door. My little Chinese delivery girl from the restaurant returns to give me 1.5RMB! Amazing! I insist she keep it, in fact, had given her 6RMB on purpose, the cost 5, and 1 for a 'tip!' They're so guileless, so wonderfully naive, so honest! You wouldn't believe it!

'Wo ai Zhongua ren!' Which means in Pinyin2 Chinese, 'I love the Chinese people!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

040207

The Greatest Question!

At the end of a movie entitled 'The Last of the Mohicans,' (based on the James Fenemore Cooper novel1) Russell Means, who plays the indian shaman exclaims, 'We were here!'

Ah, I say wait a minute, 'Mr. Shaman' (Russell), who prays to 'Father Sky! 'We were here,' maybe! These are only words!

How arrogant human nature is! 'We' think we're God's favorites, invicible, in fact! We have ego consciousness! We know we exist, whereas animals (still living in 'The Garden') don't. We think we've created a world beyond worlds, filled with all the material wonders of the ages. We're exploring 'space,' and have so named the 'beginning' as the 'Big Bang!' We've given the Universe and the Earth an age, and believe such to be true! How stupid we are! We don't really know! We claim 'God' as ours! How arrogant we are!

Well, I believe differently! I don't think we're so hot! If you've read and understand written history, you realize we haven't progressed much in the last 200,000 years! We're still killing each other, just with new and more sophisticated weapons. Maybe this is good, however, as it helps to keep the population down!

We're basically destroying ourselves (consuming the earth or 'mother')! We're in fact consuming ourselves! How intelligent is this?

We don't even understand why! We don't understand ourselves, always projecting evil onto 'the other,' be it the Moslems, or the Christians, or 'the Devil!' When, in fact, 'We have met the enemy and he is us!' Such prophetic words of genius from a cartoon figure named 'Pogo' (Walt Kelly ). We exhibit what we label as 'animal' behaivor, when in fact it would be wiser to act as animals do. It's the animals that will inherit the earth, if there's any oxygen left to breathe! Hypothetically, 'the animals' might say dirisively, referring to our insane behaivor, 'It's just human nature, what do you expect?'

We will go the way of the dinosaurs, it's only a matter of time. We're consuming the earth at a faster and faster rate, until there will be a fatal 'end crisis!' Global warming a precusor. And the reason I know there's no hope, I've lived in China for the last two years and seen for myself. The Chinese, deprived of luxury for so long, now want SUVs at any cost, even if it costs the lives of their great grand children (although they don't understand yet)--driving an automobile is more important to them!

We have created 'saviors' throughout history because we know we can't save ourselves. With 'his' coming (again) we will be 'saved,' if we've been good, or so Christians hope!

I'm afraid, however, it's as someone was said: 'There is infinite hope, but not for us!'

Thus, the greatest of all questions to me is this, when the Indian Shaman in 'The Last of the Mohicans' exclaims, as if to validate everything, 'We were here!' Maybe! My question, 'When the last homo sapien succumbs, we will have been here at all?'

Before you answer so quickly, 'Yes, of course,' there will be proof!' Consider this... You make one large assumption... It takes human perception to make such distinctions! What makes you think that the next 'level' of consciousness will have such? What makes you think there will be consciousness at all? If there is we will most likely be a mystery to 'them! That is, if there is even a 'them' after us!

So, the next time you do something that threatens future generations existence, you might try answering this question, 'When the last homo sapien succumbs, we will have been here at all?'

I think not! There are no 'second acts,' in human existence!

F.A. Hutchison

www.cyclingpeace.org

China

030207

Today Monday in China, Superbowl Sunday in the U.S. Here in China I'm afraid no one even knows or cares about such things. Frankly, I don't care much about the Superbowl either, only the TV coverage...? What network, and how was the coverage?

Hi-tech frustration for me today in Xining, as gmail.com/mail not working... Maybe I will try a Net Bar, as it could be China Unicom too! I've switched to Yahoo.com temporarily for email.

Such luxury I've grow accustom to, sitting here in my hotel room, online with the world. Expecting it always to work, expecting always to be 'connected.' Wanting it faster and faster! We get spoiled, me for sure! Then what to do with the frustration? One way that Hallie Crawford Stillwell taught me is to go to sleep. If only I could!

When I awoke the next moring Mr. Liu was knocking on my door! He had anticipated my need to meet with him. He's helping with mailing my AboC card to Richard in Shanghai (a story I've told about my banking woes in Xining).

Ah, without friends nothing is possible! Here in China I have many, so there is hope!

Richard called and told me he was going to a Christian function, one that Stephanie had invited him to attend. I shall pray for him! Later he said it was 'strange,' so my prayer was answered! Not that I would mind if he became a Christian. I would want that, however, he'd study all the religions before deciding! To be evanglelized, is to 'fall in love,' without discernment—not a good thing!

In my hotel room in Xining, Qinghai Province, China, an amazing photograph. Just opposite my bed on the wall a photograph of Aspens in autumn in the Colorado Rockies! Now, what are the odds, as these are my favorite trees? What are the odds that this tree would be displayed in my hotel room in a city in China? I marvel at the Tao at work!

I end up in room #306, or a #9, my number of spirituality! Again, you think this a coincidence? Inside is a photograph of Aspen trees from my home State of Colorado! Another coincidence? Jung would call this a 'synchronistic' event, or a 'meaningful coincidence!' This is 'energy' connecting up, with your own, a union of sorts... How to do? Ask for such! Meditate. Pray. There are many words for this. It's basically 'going inside,' and connecting with the 'divine,' or what we call the Tao (beyond words). It's a matter of 'tuning your radio' to the right frequency ('station')!'

Is it also a coincidence, that in two straight evenings I watch two movies about Native Americans, maybe! The first, last night was 'The Last of the Mohicans,' starring Daniel Day-Lewis. What a sad 'Hollywood' effort! Michael Mann obviously no filmmaker.

Then tonight, a wonderful surprise! Back at my little video store, I discover something entitled, 'The New World,' by Terrence Malick (writer/director).

You probably don't know Terry Malick like I do, that is, unless you're into movies! I saw, years ago, his first entitled, 'Badlands!' This launched both Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek's careers. I thought it was a masterpiece, this from a first time director—incredible music from Carl Orloff! Since then Malick, a Texas boy, has gone on to become probably the best living American filmmaker!

'The New World,' the best Native American movie I've ever seen! This the story of Pocahontas and Capt. John Smith; pilgrims in the New World. But, how to do the movie justice...?

Malick has an artist's sensibility. He uses 'shot's' of Nature like no other. His use of music, I should say sound, is always compelling. He uses voice-over narration to reveal the character's thoughts (as a novel does with words on paper). The editing, juxtaposing time and space, is disjointed like in 'real life!' The editing constantly surprises you, the narrative not delivered on a 'silver platter,' like with most 'Hollywood' movies. Poignant, lyrical, I think the story as told—Native Americans realizing that they could never stop 'the tsunami of people arriving in boats!' At the end tears down my cheeks, not realizing that in history Pocahontas died, and is buried, in London! An age old story/theme really, the clashing of two cultures.

And so I leave you with that this evening. A photograph of yellow Aspens in Colorado on my wall and Native American history from China.

I am 'Red Cloud,' so named by the Denay people of southwestern America!

Aho!

Avestanica!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

020207

On dying...

Marty, you said something the other day that got my attention, so I must comment...

I inquired about the Colonel, how he was doing, and you explained at 77-years old he's very tired and unable to do much, etc. You went on to say, 'sad to see,' this.

The Colonel, being an old 'warrior,' probably hasn't grown old gracefully. Instead he's probably fighting 'it,' all the way. Of course, he will lose this 'battle!' Maybe this is what is 'sad' to see him struggling to maintain.

What one must learn to do is 'surrender!' Once you have surrendered the dying is easier!

But, instead of feeling 'sad,' I would suggest you might consider feeling differently (for your own sake). In fact, the Colonel has lived to a ripe old age, having accomplished much in one lifetime. Seems to me that should be celebrated with joy, rather than sadness. In the process, accepting the decay of the material (cycle).

No death; no life!

Death in American culture isn't dealt with very productively. Basically it's avoided, and no one really knows how to deal with theirs, as well as, others.

The nature of life is that 'we' are born, rise to a height, and then succumb. We all try to make some sense of our lives in the interim . Most just avoid, and live 'quiet lives of desperation.' Then they go to a hospital to be anestitized 'out of here!' One wonders if they were 'here at all?'

I intend to participate in mine, as much as possible! Death can't be avoided, so why not try to understand it, and your life, while you're still able?

The body, a material in form, comes from the stars; the earth. It returns to such (a cycle). Shakespeare had a great line about such, referring to a character in one of his plays(?), paraphrasing here, 'Someday he will be the mud stuck in the hole to keep out the rain!' I think of definition of metamorphorsis.

But, the spirit, is energy, and since it wasn't 'born' into form, remains as such. Basically beyond words!

I've spent much of my life as a philosopher would in ancient Greece. Asking the great questions: What is the meaning of life? Why do we have a body/consciousness? Why do we live? What's it all about Alfie?

Sogyal Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist says this: 'The purpose of life is to achieve union with our fundamental enlightened nature, and realize and embody our true being!'

Christians might call this being 'born again,' as having been 'redeemed' or 'saved.' Other religions or disciplines have similar ways of describing this 'big change,' in one's life.

Certainly this has happened to me! But, it's very personal, and serves no purpose to share my 'metamorphosis' with anyone.

It's up to everyone to do the same, in his/her own way and own time. I know this to be the reason for being.

In the meantime, let us love ourselves, as well as others!

010207

They say 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!' We're always being tested!

I've been struck down by the Flu and suffering for the last week! Of course, nothing like my friend in Colorado, James A. Speer in the hospital... But, all is relative. And wow, I had no idea it was so strong, or I was so weak! There were three days when I was unable to get out of bed! Of course, I overdid it at the wrong time! But, who's to know, you make the best decisions at the time! I'm not someone to back off, and one day I walked too far, then I had to move, as had been living in a hotel where the room was too cold. By the time I got moved, with the Liu's help, I was exhausted. But, now I'm in a hotel where the room is heated, and my lunch is delivered to my door (for $1U.S. dollar). How can I complain? I can't!

The Lius, by the way, my new Chinese friends, are wonderful people! He and his wife show up at my hotel door smiling! I don't know what I'd done without them! Them courtesy of knowing Li Jian, a young Chinese man, who I'd met in Urumqi when living there.

This bout with Flu virus has reminded me of the last time I was this ill... In Colorado Springs about four years ago! I came down with Shingles1! Oh, Lord, Shingles are not something you want to experience! That illness took three weeks to recover from! I don't even want to remember how badly I felt. I'd had to move with a fever, as 'Rice Dream Victoria,' had threw me out of her flat as her new lover2 was moving in. Just as Tom was moving in, I was coming down with such! If she realized she didn't seem to care! We'd had a big fight over 'Rice Dream,' the drink of choice at the moment. She thought I wasn't paying enough for it, so we argued about that. Can you imagine? Petty, petty and pettiness where she was concerned. I'm only happy she's but a bad memory now!

American women! No thank you!

Then again, another American woman, Heidi Sue, saved the day by letting me 'sit' her flat while she was in Mississippi—so I wasn't out on the street! I remember being there with her cat, her guitars, her bed, in her kitchen, this place one flight above a garage. I couldn't breathe, so I slept in a chair in the living room! Shingles... they are horrible! Thank you, Heidi Sue!

This Flu, not as bad as Shingles... I never had much of a fever with this flu unfortunately. Fever can cure you, as it causes you to perspire. What I had was intense pain! Another mistake... I had nothing to take for pain, so I just grinned and endured!

Since, I've gotten progressively better, stronger.

Yesterday, I went outside to collect my laundry and do some shopping. I was out for about one hour, walking maybe 2 kilometers. One mistake, however, I succumbed to my old nemesis, bakery goods. I couldn't resist eating two muffins, which I paid for with stuffy nose in the middle of the night (couldn't sleep).

The day after, my big excursion to the Agri. Bank of China. I went in a taxi, to where Mr. Wu Wong, said to come, the snoring man ('the animal') from the train. Turns out he's some 'bigwig' with the bank. He has a huge office, so I assume he's the 'Director.' I was taken there after calling him, and handing my mobile to the woman in the lobby. She took me next door, and up we went three flights of stairs.

Here I was introduced to a young woman who spoke some English.

Next we returned to the 'VIP' room of the bank where I initiated what I needed to do... First, convert Euros into RMB in my Shanghai account.

Turns out the card issued at the Shanghai Branch of AboC isn't valid in Xining. This is one of the big problems in Chinese banking/business, it's all very 'local.' If you have one bank card or mobile # in one city, it doesn't work in the next! They don't 'travel.'

But, the two women who tried to help me, first Zhang Zhen Rong, and secondly Peng Yong Ting, were very nice. They called Shanghai and otherwise tried to figure out what to do, as I became less and less patient. Another woman brought me lu cha while I waited and waited. I must have put my password into the system a dozen times. I called Richard and had him translate back and forth. But, in the end they couldn't help! What to do?

I opened another account in this bank with 100RMB I had in the other (the other money is in Euros). This Miss Peng helped me with now feeling sorry for me. Plus, she turned out to be someone offering to 'teach you Chinese!'

Richard and I figured out what to do. I have to send my card back to him (versus actually returning to Shanghai). He then can go to the bank with the card and convert from Euros to RMB. Then he has to withdraw the cash, or maybe can transfer the funds from the Shanghai account into my account here!

Amazing Chinese banks seemingly so primitive compared to the West! So many rules! So many can't dos, as in China customers are at the mercy of the system. And I can tell you the system doesn't exist for you (the customer), but for the 'owner,' the Chinese Government!

I returned to the hotel in a taxi slightly nonplused. And yet another challenge to overcome living in China (not so easy). I'd spent two hours in the bank!

I wonder sometimes why I'm doing this, living in China, trying to launch a business? I must be insane!

But, I think I'm going to change tactics... I'm going to give in, and 'go with the flow' more. I'm going to what I can, but not try the 'impossible!'

All I really want to do is ride Ms. Fiets around, take picutures, and write about such. I'm really not that motivated anymore!

Maybe I'll move out of China, who knows, all depends on the visa business... But, where? I'm running out of countries, out of options!

I can't afford the U.S. Or Europe. Nepal doesn't have the infrastructure, the Kathmandu Valley so polluted. Where? Mexico, South America? I've thought of Mongolia, but only in the summer. What about New Zealand, Australia...? No mountains! I'm attracted to Ecuador for some reason! I've never been to South America... This appeals to me! Chile possibly!

In the meantime, I'm getting over the flu in Xining. I hope to find a place to live (other than a hotel) when feeling up to moving. Then to see about the city/Province and what can be accomplished here? Yes, I'm insane!

I'm trying to promote 'Bicycle China Olympics!' for Xining! I've decided instead of meeting in Beijing in 08, that Xining will be better!

I also got an email message from Zheng Lei ('Indy'), who lives in Kashigar. She says she wants to visit me in Xining during 'Spring Festival!'

Thursday, February 01, 2007

180107

I’m way behind in uploading BLOGS (here it is the 28th of January), first because I’ve moved from Shanghai to Xining. Secondly, because when we transferred software from the MacBook to the MacMini, somehow/thing went wrong with the word processing program I’ve been using, X11 and Open Office.

It’s complicated, as the Mini has both operating systems OS and Windows. I could use Windows Office, but what about viruses, Marty? Also, what about having to go between both operating systems when I want attach a Windows generated document using Firefox browser, Marty? Still protected, or would a Windows document attract a virus?

Computers we’ve grown to depend on, but they continue to get more and more complicated. So now, I’m using an Apple product called ‘Pages,’ (iWork 6) on a trial basis, this just to have something to word process with! Gosh, my IBM Selectric was never like this!

The train trip here January 17th, Shanghai to Xining...

It was a new train, the one that goes all the way to Lhasa, Tibet, one that has been heavily advertised. All new inside and out and very fancy! On all the notices and signs for information all three languages: Tibetan, Chinese and English. The Chinese Government has finally gotten ‘hip’ about such.

Also, all male attendants on this train, no female. I wonder why? I must say, however, the one in our car a wonderful guy, who was very helpful (gave him a good written report).

It was 25 hours (something like 2,500KM) in length/duration, this very fast train, which supposedly made few stops (less than six; goes through 100s of stations), and supposedly chugs along at 180KM per hour (don’t think so).

I’d bought a lower soft berth and was so looking forward to sleeping, but guess what? Some bad luck, the Chinese would say. It just so happened a Chinese man, a Government worker had the one across and turned out to be a veritable snoring machine! I’m talking the loudest I’ve experienced yet. Fat, and unpleasant, his face like an overripe pumpkin. I labeled him ‘the animal,’ as he, like so many Chinese men spit out food while eating.



I put in my German ear plugs. They didn’t stop the sound. I put the audio headset (provided) over the ear plugs, but this didn’t work either. What did work is when I used my fingers to press against the ear plugs. But, I couldn’t sustain this, my fingers growing tired and going to sleep. I got so frustrated trying to sleep I actually woke him up. But, it changed nothing, as I can’t complain readily in Chinese, and Government people in China are the ‘royal class,’ and they don’t have to accommodate anyone, including lowei! He was unhappy I’d awakened him, and supposedly asked, ‘What’s your problem?’ He quickly was right back at it!

The other side of the coin and above me turned out to be a wonderful young Chinese guy, English name, Richard (which he doesn’t like because of the nickname, 'Dick'). He spoke very good English because he’s been working in Sweden! Wow! What’s the chances of running into a Chinese guy working in Sweden on the train to Xining? Pretty slim! We had a wonderful conversation, and I learned much about him, his hometown Xining, working in Shanghai, and his travel business in Stockholm, Sweden. Also, because of the social system in Sweden, he doesn’t want to move back to China. He was very helpful, in fact has been since, as he’s home in Xining for ‘Spring Festival.’ I will meet with him to see if his mother has any ideas about where to live in Xining?



In the middle of the night I’d had enough of ‘the Animal’s’ snoring and explained to the attendant I needed to move to another bed. He understood, as Richard had moved before me! He took me to the next car, and I slept next to another Chinese man, who didn’t snore, but talked in his sleep!

God help you when traveling in China! If I had the money, when going by train, I’d buy all the berths (4) in a compartment isolating yourself from the ‘unwashed!’ The only way to be sure you have privacy, and sleep well! But, who can afford such luxury? I may have to fly more, avoiding my favorite trains. But, still the best for me, cycling if I have the time and the situation warrants.

But, an ironic twist with ‘the animal.’ It just so happens he works at the Agri. Bank of China (owned by the government of course), where I have an account. He has since been some help to me. As it should be as he kept me awake until I moved, and then bothering us both again sleeping during the day!1 Thus, I intend to extract as much work out of my snoring Chinese banker as possible!

At 0700 the next morning I awoke to a bright sky, now in the ‘blue and brown’ part of China (west of Xi’an). I returned to my car and compartment, only to discover ‘the animal’ still sawing logs! So, I made as much noise making morning tea as I could! He hardly stirred. Then I sat outside the compartment to drink my morning tea.

In occurred to me sitting there, hearing his snoring through the compartment wall, that China has developed much materially--I was riding in complete physical luxury. Yet, I was made miserable by one man (after having bought the most expensive fare possible). What about social development? I wrote an article about this entitled, ‘Public versus Private Manners,’ in which I identified the difference between theirs and western culture (not that Western is better just different - we lack private manners).

In China, because over populated (although the average person doesn’t know) there’s tremendous competition for space and time. It’s the too-many-rats-in-the-cage syndrome, and thus animal-like behavior. If I’m introduced as ‘somebody,’ to a Chinese person, they can’t do enough for you. An anonymous guy on the street, I’m just another body to push out of the way!



It’s annoying for a Westerner who’s been trained to be polite in public, as I’ve had Chinese people push in front of me in line! I now say something to them, and they get the idea I’m unhappy, generally deferring. But, if you don’t get aggressive in public places in China, you’ll stand there all day waiting.



I now understand why no one goes by the traffic regulations. If you go by the rules you will wait all day, never getting anywhere or accomplishing anything!

Patience is not a Chinese virtue! I wonder what Confucius would say if he could see people acting the way they do in modernity. For example, he said, ‘No talking when eating!’ That was before mobile telephones, however! Now, people when eating and talking, jump to answer their mobile telephone! It’s crazy, modern life (must be getting old)! But, I’m afraid it will only get worse in the world, Asia a precursor of things to come to the West.

When the train arrived in Xining, the Lius (Li Jian’s friends) were waiting for me! Richard hugged me goodbye (unusual), and the Lius drove me, with their daughter, to my hotel. This hotel the one where Richard and I had stayed at in November (have never known the name). I hadn’t realized, but it’s within walking distance of where the Lius live (luckily). This the sports center building/International Plaza part of Xining.

I spent the following days, walking around, eating in the Chinese restaurant where had in November, basically trying to get oriented to the P.C. of Qinghai. I appear to be the only foreigner in Xining at the moment. Everyone staring at me, although I’m used to this. Children said ‘hello!’ There are many red-robed Buddhist monks walking around, as a large Monastery (name to learn?) nearby.

I walked to a nearby park one day, sat in the sun. I discovered that this Park commemorates, with a remaining remnant of a wall, the ancient city that was here thousands of years ago! There’s a metal map depicting the ancient walled city. Walled, no doubt, as protection from the Mongols.

I walked up ‘Nan Shan (South Mountain) Park,’ one day, this up a series of small hills. It’s not that far from the hotel, maybe several kilometers distance. At the top the usual ticket booth to get inside the actual park (nothing is for free in China). But, only 3RMB or about .30 cents U.S.

Just inside a modern grass pavilion with a metal sculpture of two porpoises, and benches to sit and view Xining’s south valley below. Some kind of ‘expressway’ appears to head south, but to where? Maybe Chengdu?

Up another hill, some amazing contrast (see image in the Gallery), an old Taoist (?) Monastery, set below a modern Chinese building (which I never understood). But, it has a roof looking like so many wind-blown sails! Amazing! Truly amazing! The contrast between these two structures, the old and the new startling--only in China!

I first examined the Taoist Monastery, a complex of several buildings seemingly operated by, not Taoist monks, but Hui Chinese, the men in white caps, the Moslem Chinese. I wanted to ask questions, but didn’t for some reason. They didn’t ask for a donation.

I walked up to the ‘sailing ship’ building. I walked around it got a very good view of Xining, a few hundred meters below.

Xining interesting, in that it’s situated in two narrow valleys that form a ‘cross.’ One runs east and west, the other north and south. Of course, two rivers have made the valleys, but the one east to west (name?) has water and empties into the Yellow. The other barely runs, frozen in People’s Park where you can ride, pushing yourself with poles, on chairs with runners.

Then I returned to the hotel, crunching the snow on the side of the road enjoying sunny winter!



On the way back, I noticed a newly constructed office complex, a long, white building with store fronts (two new Chinese restaurants opening) and offices above. This unlike anything I’ve seen in China, as only 3 stories high. If you didn’t know you were in China, you couldn’t tell by this building, looking more like Scottsdale, Arizona.

I went with the Lius and friend (his SUVehicle) to pick up my luggage at the train station! They made it so easy, as I had nine cases bundled as three, but nonetheless. Without their help would have been a chore mostly dealing with the language, and not knowing what they’re saying. By the time we got it into the room I barely had space to move. But, at least with me!

I went on a bank expedition one day! I had to activate my new Bank of Texas card, and went to ‘the animal’s’ branch of the Agri. Bank of China. Amazing! The ‘international’ ATM rejected my card, as only having a four-digit password. This machine has a minimum of six! Crazy! I tried to find another ATM, and did ultimately at the Bank of Construction, a new machine with the VISA/MASTERCARD LOGO, but a problem there too--’I must ask my bank,’ said the response! Probably no ‘Cirrus Network.’

I discovered that Xining is not one of the more sophisticated Chinese Provinces, kinda unknown in the West. We’re going to change that!

The next day I got word from Richard that the bicycles had arrived at the Merida Bicycle shop. I went by to check, and sure enough, this huge box from Shanghai, with both Ms. Fiets and Giant inside was in the basement. I told (gestured, he can’t speak English) Liang Bao Shan, the operator, I would return the next day to put them together.

And we did just that, the very next day! I helped him clean her, and then we put together, or he did most of the technical stuff (me not a very good mechanic)! I test rode a couple of times, and he made adjustments until she felt right again. Then I decided to go out for a ride, and for some reason chose to return to South Mountain Park (I always like going up!). Now, in retrospect, a week later I wish I hadn’t, but more on that later.

I didn’t have James B. Feeney protecting me, as I’d taken the strap off (broken clasp). I hadn’t been able to put back together properly, even to the point of deciding maybe it was time to buy a new helmet. I’m so stupid about things, having taken the strap off without noticing exactly how it went back on! Ugh! Strange how things happen, and why. This you notice later, the course of events leading up to and why an ‘accident,’ or some trouble, etc...

I turned up the hill to the Park, and felt ‘da feng,’ an evil wind coming toward me. It was coming down the street, in ‘dust devils’ (appropriately)--I actually saw ‘it’ coming, wondering...! Just before 'contact' I closed my eyes and kept cranking upward, never one to back down. I thought nothing else of such, but continued up, never stopping, and feeling strong for it. On top I rested in the parking lot, the setting sun warm on my face. All was right with the world, or so I thought! Inside my lungs, however, trouble was brewing! The evil wind had brought a nasty virus with it, which I had inhaled! No mask covering my nose/mouth2! No James B. Feeney to protect me! Stupid! Hindsight, the most brilliant of things! If only we could backup time, and do things again!

But, trouble, pain, illness... All a part of life. No pain! No pleasure! No illness. No health!

We just had a wonderful three-month cycling trip the length of China, with no serious problems. Now, I was to suffer with the flu! With the financial loss in Shanghai, and this, ‘the Dog3,’ finally biting me in the ass as a reminder--you didn’t get off ‘scott free!’ in the 'Year of the Dog!'

Now, on to the 'Year of the Pig!'