Tuesday, July 31, 2007

300707

'We don't even wake up for less than $10,000 dollars / 75,000RMB a day!' says, Linda Evangelista, a famous fashion model. Recently, the former Director of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), Jack Valenti was quoted as saying, 'If I die…' What colossal temerity these people have, examples of what's wrong with the egomanical life in 'madernity!'

Of course, Jack Valenti died. Additionally, dear Linda, a Chinese family could live well for one entire year on 75,000RMB. There are people starving to death, but you won't even get out of bed for less than $10,000U.S.

Ever wonder what's wrong with contemporary 'modern' life? Capitalism seems to bring out the worst in people! The foregoing just two examples!

Yesterday, Sunday, we cranked up Bei Shan again, this time with our good friend, Liu Zhi Gong. There were four of us, me, XTR, 'Jerry' and Mr. Liu. The goal was to show Mr. Liu, the building/property I hope is www.haaqi.com's future home.

Of course, no problem for me and XTR (going up the 7KM), but 'Jerry' and Mr. Liu, had more of a challenge. 'Jerry,' was ahead of me, but then near the top faltered. He had gone too fast, too early (always the mistake of the inexperienced). XTR stayed behind with Mr. Liu, and it took them another 45 minutes before they appeared at the parking lot at the top.

Again, people think they can drink/smoke, do no physical exercise, and then just go ride a bicycle to the top of Bei Shan one day! No doubt Mr. Liu suffered.

Up at the top we ran into a group who had brought kites, and XTR managed to get them all flying. One thing I like about XTR, he'll try anything! After many failures (little wind), he managed to get all three of their kites flying. 'Jerry' and I videotaped.

Afterwards, XTR and Mr. Liu rode their bikes around the hill. 'Jerry' put up the hammock and took a nap. I ate peanuts and meditated in the sun.

Then we videotaped me and Mr. Liu talking about the building, and my vision of what it might become. This to present to the Qinghai Government as this a big deal and we need their blessing. (Note: You can't go to the toilet in China without asking the Government's permission!) We will edit this into a five-minute 'piece,' make a DVD of and present to them as a part of our 'package.' Depending on how they respond we would decide what is possible! The capital investment in the property is something like 10 million RMB / $1 million U.S., so no small proposition.

I had written a proposal including my vision of the Bei Shan Institute of culture, arts and music' which had been translated into Chinese. Mr. Liu read it which we recorded:

北山艺术、音乐和文化学院
BEI SHAN INSTITUTE OF ARTS, MUSIC AND CULTURE
---F.A. Hutchison (西宁哈齐文化信息咨询服务有限公司) www.haaqi.com
Proposed by F.A. Hutchison / www.haaqi.com

I have a dream, a visionary idea for www.haaqi.com (Chinese name)! It has to do with Bei Shan, and a abandoned building at the very top. It is just 100 meters north of the Roman Garden. I first glimpsed it when Xu Tan and I were through XiNing last November, 06. We had cycled to the top with our friend Wang Qing He.
我有一个梦想,是对www.haaqi.com(西宁哈齐文化信息咨询服务有限公司)的一个远景看见。这个远景与北山有关。北山是在山顶闲置着的一栋楼,它距离罗马花园向北100米。我在去年11月6日和徐谭从那里经过的时候第一次瞥见它。那时我们与我们的朋友王青河一同骑车上了山顶。


Recently I cycled up there alone, and got a closer look at this building, an abandoned hotel. The location would be perfect for what I have in mind: An institute, academy, production center/business, living quarters, restaurant, theater, and exhibition hall. Of course, this is a very large and expensive proposition! But, my vision includes bringing people from around the world to study, perform, and help promote Qinghai Province--they will come to a facility like I have in mind! Of course, we can't accomplish this grand idea without the 'blessing' of the Qinghai Government.
最近我独自一人骑车上山更仔细地观看了这幢楼。原来这是一幢闲置着的旅馆。这个地点非常符合我心里所想的:一所院校、一个制作中心、生活区、饭店、剧院和一个展览厅。当然,这是一个非常大的建议!然而我的远景看见是将全世界各地的人带到这里来学习、演出并且能够借此帮助推广青海省,因为我相信他们会非常愿意到这样的一个地方!当然,我们要完成这样一个大的概念是离不开青海省政府的“祝福”。

But, good news! It's current title holder ('owner') wants out of his contract with the Qinghai Government, according to some research Chen Xing Zhi (on our 'Board') has done for us. Additionally, there are recommendations to pursue help from two Government agencies: the Provincial Development and Reform Commission, and the National Forest Administration.
但是,有个好消息!根据最近我们的董事陈星之为我们调查了关于这栋楼的具体情况,楼主有意向推出与政府签订的合同。另外,也有建议需要政府机关的两个方面的帮助:省发展和改革委员会和国家林业局。

Some other information I've included from Mrs. Chen report:
以下是陈星之先生的报告:

The 'fixed assets' of the property amount to 10 million RMB, including the 2,000 square-meter hotel building (plans for 70 to 80 'beds'). I don't know what value this building has now, as been empty for so many years? Who knows, it might be better to tear down, and start over?

总固定资产为1千万人民币,其中包括2000平方米的旅馆大楼(设计可容纳70-80个床)。由于这个楼已经闲置很多年了,我也不太清楚现在这幢大楼的价值?这个也很难说清楚,说不定把这栋楼拆了再重建是个更加好的主意呢?

The total property amounts to six acres. Construction of the hotel was begun in 1993, but the developer ran out of money before it was completed. It's been abandoned since, and in a state of disrepair (falling down).
房产总占地面积有6英亩。开发商从1993年开始动工,但是由于资金短缺未能完工。这栋楼就这么一直被闲置着,处于快倒的状况。

For a time it was administered by the Qinghai Government.
后来又一段时间由青海政府接管这栋楼。

In 2001, a businessman from Haixi signed a contract with the Qinghai Government to develop the property. He invested 200,000RMB, but has failed to make the property 'pay.' Thus, after so many years he wants out of the contract.
2001年一个从海西来的商人与青海政府签订了开发此房产的合同。他投资了20万元人民币,但是投资没有收回。所以,过了这么多年后他想退出合同。

I see this as a huge opportunity for www.haaqi.com (Chinese name). With this property/project ('Bei Shan Institute of Art, Music and Culture) we can attract national attention, the kind we need to advance our business to an international level!
我觉得这对www.haaqi.com (西宁哈齐文化信息咨询服务有限公司)是个巨大的商机。这个“北山艺术、音乐和文化学院”房产项目会吸引全国的注意力,用来帮助推动我们的事业到达一个国际化的层面。

Of course, I don't personally have the money to develop. We will have to get help from the Qinghai Government and a mortgage from a bank (paid back monthy, etc.).
当然,我个人没有资金来开发。我们必须得到青海政府的帮助和银行贷款。

But, whatever 'deal' we're able to strike benefits all! I can envision a time when the president of China comes for a visit, as we will have helped develop the cultural
aspects of Qinghai Province.
但是,不论怎么样这将会是个多赢的机会!我可以想象当中国国家主席来到这里考察时的情形。到那时在我们的帮助下,青海省在文化方面已经得到了进一步的提升。

And yet another (video) project to complete! But, Bei Shan… Having the Institute up on this hill overlooking XiNing, the perfect situation to bring artists and musicians from around the World.

How did I get myself so enmeshed in all of this, so stupid of me--too much? I've always had such grandiose ideas! Ah, the folly of human ambition!

It was a delightful time on Bei Shan, however, at least for me as is quiet. I love it up there. But, after so many hours they wanted to go (youth always needing movement) so we headed down to XiNing. The sky had cleared after a morning storm (most unusual) and we had a nice view of XiNing (no pollution).

XTRicha went ahead and 'shot' us gliding down the 'switchback' road (the circuit from beginning to end 13KM). It's quite a ride down, as one mis-step and you're liable to be 'airborne,' and 'outta here!' There are no guard railings.

At the bottom I lead the group to a restaurant I'd wanted to investigate having passed months before. At first glance it looked inviting, but later after partaking I'd wished I might have known. The food was less than great, and next to us a some drunk men (very popular for Chinese men to do such: they rarely socialize with wives)! Oh well, the table and the setting sun compensated somewhat.

Afterwards we checked out the Tibetan Buddhist temple up the hill. 'Jerry' said it's called 'Bei Shan Temple.' I noticed meditation caves up on the face of cliffs above.

By then, however, we were all ready to 'call it a day!'

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

280707

Saturday, the second day of the 'hip hop' competition:

I’m glad my name isn't Zhang Wei:

'There are 290,607 people called Zhang Wei in China, making it the most popular name in the world's most populous country, a report said.
有290,607个人告诉的张・韦在中国,做它俗名在世界的人口众多的国家,报告说"。

I wonder… How many John Smiths in the world?

Yesterday (27th), a most interesting day, if only I can remember it all… From getting 'ripped off' by the Bank of China (again) to being caught in a 'dust devil' to watching a Lars Von Trier movie! Additionally, many people came by… This is 'full moon' time! There was something about someone at 1000, and something about a singer at about 1700 hours… But, in China you're never quite sure--you're always surprised!

Li Zhongwei ('Jerry') had spent the night and he appeared early. But, he was out walking when XTRicha awoke. They had breakfast outside together (how they met up I'll never know--mobile tele. doubt?). Then Ju Gui Ying ('June') arrived. Zhang faju ('Judy') is no longer with us. On the other hand, it's school summer vacation time, and we're awash with students wanting to work with us.

At 1000 Mr. Wang's friend's son came, a young man from Beijing who'd come to meet us at the 'Hip Hop Competition.' He had a 3-page resume, full of the software programs he's facile with! Turns out, however, he's married and has to support a wife! When I got through with the reality of the situation, how we start everyone (test: no pay), we'll never hear from him again. I wish him well; as for every job in China there are 3,000 qualified applicants!

Young people so stupid! It's hard enough to get a job, without burdening yourself with a family before you have money in the bank! But, try to tell them (me included!).

At the same time a Tibetan man came by named, Ang (last name ?), a student at Qinghai Normal University. He's very 'cool' dressed in jeans and a coat jacket. We had met him at 'Haaqi's English Club,' a month before. I had been impressed by both his English and knowledge of movies. He wants to learn how to make 'movies.' So, I showed him our Panasonic camcorder and he screened what we 'shot' of the 'Hip Hop Competition' in People's Park.

We took Ang (common Sherpa name in Nepal) to lunch with us. I ordered broccoli ('xi lian hua' - 硬花甘蓝) as I'd seen it in this restaurant before. Turned out everyone liked it.

After lunch things began to get interesting… XTRicha went off to the 'hip hop' competion, and I went off to the Bank of China to withdraw from my Bank of Texas account in the U.S. And yet another mistake!
I had written about this unhappy episode with the Bank of China, getting 'ripped off' at an ATM last week. But, that was at a new branch and different ATM machine. I thought if I went to the 'old' one, where I'd had no problem before, there would be one!

Lo and behold, I got 'ripped off' again, this time to the tune of 1,000RMB / $135U.S. This time no cash, but a receipt that said the transaction 'rejected!' I immediately told the 'duty officer,' but guess what…? Of course, they don't want to know, don't give a shit if you're 'laowei!' And I can't speak Chinese!

Back at the flat (business address) I went online to check my account. And sure enough the money ($135U.S.) had been withdrawn from my account. Angier than a nest of hornets I couldn't believe this could happen a second time, but knew now it was a computer snafu (two different ATMS at two different branches of the BoC). But, why don't they put a sign on the ATMs ('Out of Order?')? Because in China they don't really think or care about the customer. It all comes under the heading, 'Too bad; tough shit!' There is no functioning 'legal system' in China for the 'little guy' - a way to redress inequities!

I immediately called Xutanda. He was still at the 'Hip Hop Competition.' He got the message, however, loud and clear! Return to the flat as we have to go to the BoC--same bad deal again!

I was downstairs waiting when he returned!

At the Bank we accousted one woman the 'Duty Officer,' and a man supposedly 'in charge of the workers!' This time they were more amenable, and explanatory, apologizing and ensuring the money would be reimbursed to my account (thanks to Xu Tan). What to do? Luckily, Rucha has saved the day by transferring 'E' into my other account or I'd be SOL!

I was angry the rest of the day! 'No wo ai Bank of China!'

Then at 1700 (5P.M.) they came, four people and a dog--the singer (Jia Xiao Yun)! It took most of the first few minutes to understand who was who. I had been told by Xutanda that 'the singer' had an agent. One of the four people (three women and one man) turned out to be 'the agent.' An attractive woman in her own right I was thinking as possible model--'the agent.' The dog, a Pekenese (the standard Chinese dog), was cute (I get along with animals and children)--I played with it.

The man, dressed in an undershirt is her 'coach.' They wanted to see our business license. Luckily we have one! They wanted to see a sample contract. I said next week. They asked if 'they' signed, what about a 'salary' in the meantime? I explained that artists in the West have a 'day job!' We don't pay a salary. But, we do our best to get artists paying jobs! Plus, the first thing we'll do is produce a music video to help sell her talents (she has won singing contests). They seemed happy.

We ushered them out and the 'bass player' (Li Heng) in! Note, one day in the life of Haqi ('the Magic Dragon'). Turned out this is a group (name?) not a bass player. They don't have a CD. They're favorite group 'Metallica!' They want to sign with us (this is how desperate artists are in China). We're going tonight to hear them perform at a club!

Suddenly, we have three clients: the 'Hip Hop' group, Dancer's Dream, the singer (Jia Xiao Yun) and the Rock group (name ?) www.haaqi.com is on it's way, yea!

I finished the day watching Lars Von Trier's 'Europa.' This story taking place in Germany in 1945. It's 'hypnotic!' in black and white (going to color occassionally).

Tomorrow we're cranking up to the top of Bei Shan with Mr. Liu (he's been riding our bicycle). I want him to look at the building and advise as he works for the Construction Government. My vision is for this site (and unoccupied building) to be the future home of www.haaqi.com : the Bei Shan Institute for culture, arts and music!

I have a wonderful life in spite of the challenge of living in China!

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Monday, July 23, 2007

230707

What did I get myself involved with, trying to launch a company in China? I must have been insane, as 'fucking impossible!' And it's not all the Chinese fault! The blame I must take, as once again in my life I jumped in 'where angels fear to tread!' This is my nature to try the impossible, but not realizing that without speaking and writing Chinese this would be a daunting task!

For example, our website, www.haaqi.com. It's been one year and it still isn't right! Why? I can't seem to explain to XTR and the two 'webmasters' we've gotten involved. It's only now, after all this time, that we're nearer to perfection! Maybe me wanting perfection, the idea of such in China, is absurd! What was I thinking? I didn't!

Yesterday, an unpleasant day with Mercury in retrograde (obviously). We've had nothing but problems in the last two weeks, and I'll bet one of the planets, most likely Mercury, is in retrograde (appearing to go backwards). In think I will check online!

Wow, by researching (via the WEB of course) I discover five planets in retrograde, Mercury going 'direct' tomorrow! No wonder, this recent series of unpleasant events… Of course, you may explain these circumstances in a different way (your world different from mine).

An example, was the problem at the Bank of China just yesterday… This is how I access funds from my American bank account (VISA debit card). I've been going to one branch of Bank of China, and no problem until yesterday. Then when I went just yesterday I discovered the electricity was out there, and I couldn't use the ATM that I have in the past. So, I went to lunch hoping it would be restored in the meantime. But, when I returned it was the same, a power outage. So, I went to a different branch of the Bank of China, one I'd never been to before. One where they have an international ATM (in China only certain ATMs for International use).

But, when I went to withdraw 2,500RMB /$338U.S. (exchange rate 7.57 RMB to 1 U.S. dollar), I got a receipt with the amount, but no cash! I've never had this happen before! Stunned, I went inside to complain. But, of course this daunting in China, as the language barrier. Thank God for Xu Tan, as I called him and had him explain. Of course, the usual response from bank clerks who think you're trying to 'rip off' the system. What to do? I knew and immediately checked my account in the U.S., via the WEB. Sure enough the money had been deducted from my account. So, I printed out a copy of this, and immediately, with Xu Tan, returned to the Bank.

Of course, and again, the usual response… They would have to check on this. But, obviously their mistake, as when I'd complained the first time a man said a 'problem with the computers.' Actually it wasn't the computer but the machine (it didn't dispense). They should have put a sign on it saying, 'Out of Order! Do Not Use!' But, people, most people, the small wage earner… They are not paid to think (only follow rules). After much ado and getting the 'Duty Manager' involved (who was very nice), they are 'checking on the incident!' In the meantime, I'm out $338U.S., because of no fault of my own!

'Shit happens!' they say!

Of course, my life is not all bad! In Duality there's both, sometimes very good, sometimes very bad! What to do? Survive, live, grow, change, evolve, and get to the point where you understand (your way). It's called consciousness!

Most people live on the tiny surface of life! They live and die without ever really understanding! They're too distracted by the everyday exigencies to ever explore beyond TV (the worse possible solution). The Internet is an evolved form of distraction by also, only a tool if you're bright enough to use it as such. Most (Chinese children) use it to play games.

I pity 99% of the world's population, as only 'fodder,' for the clever, the predatory. For the others, who are a threat to them ('the owners' I call them) here is an apropos quote:

'First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” Gandhi

We will win!

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

200707

Such contrast in movies I've been watching via DVDs… 'Any Given Sunday,' versus Lars Von Triers'! Some of you might have heard of Oliver Stone, the director of 'Any Given Sunday.' But, I'll bet even Marty isn't familiar with Lars Von Triers a Danish filmmaker ('Dogma 65' Group')?

I told Xu Tan, if you ever want to understand America watch 'Any Given Sunday,' a movie about 'winning at any cost!; ('overcoming all to win!') This is what American society is all about ('kicking ass!' one of the characters explains!). Although most Americans don't understand that 'winning' at any cost is really 'losing!' I cite Iraq as example!

Al Pacino played the beleaguered coach, who deals with the stress by drinking and indulging in pretty whores (ah, I remember those days!--Bonnie St. Laurent for one!). But, Pacino is good in this role (believable)--an 'Oscar' performance.

Cameron Diaz plays 'the bitch,' the owner of the team--a less than 'Oscar' performance (one dimensional). But, her character not afraid to walk right into the locker room full of naked men!

Gosh, for me, watching this movie about professional football was 'déjà vu,' as I was there at the beginning of 'Monday Night Football' (1969: the days when no women would dare breach the locker room). I recognized Lawrence Taylor (prominent earring) as one of the 'actor-players.' The script, however, disjointed with a less-than-satisfying ending. But, the movie certainly exposes pro football as it really is: violent, drug infested, and 'gladiator like.' I thought inter-cutting the 'Ten Commandment's' chariot race sequence (with Charlton Heston) was heavy-handed, however! But, this is how 'Hollywood' works… You have trouble getting the rights to the footage, you cast an important 'player' in your movie. Suddenly, getting 'rights' is easier!

By the way, 'Any Given Sunday,' comes from an old saying in pro-football… That 'on any given Sunday' you can lose!

In total black and white contrast is Lars Von Trier's 'The Elements of Crime!' I had been looking forward to seeing one of Trier's film (preferably 'Dogville'), having never seen any. But, I couldn't get through more than forty minutes of 'The Elements of Crime,' as reminding me of Ingmar Bergman's earlier work. It's ironic that they live so close together in adjacent countries (Denmark and Sweden)!

I haven't remembered to mention in recent entries an American film I should, 'Premonition' starring Sandra Bullock. It's a mystery a la Hitchcock and worth seeing.

It's bicycle season in Qinghai, and the 5th Stage of the 'Tour de Qinghai' Race finished in XiNing on Saturday, with an American, Alan Davies the winner of the Stage (I think two Italians leading the overall? Difficult to get good information in China, at least for me). While waiting for the racers to come I met and chatted with an American woman, Marion, who is the official translator for the race. She lives on Hainan Island, a 'Hawaiian-type' island off the coast of southeast China.

On Sunday, we cycled to a resort with Mr. Zhou's group, some 40KM north of XiNing. We were to meet at 0800 on Sunday morning, this at Xining West Square (where we hold 'Haaqi's English Club'). We didn't depart until 0930! 'Judy' and Zhayi'er were supposed to come along, but weren't yet there when we headed out, a total of seven of us, including two middle-aged women. One of the women could ride a little, the other, barely able. I felt sorry for them so stayed back at the end with one of them.

The group stopped to rest at a RR bridge, some 12 KM north of XiNing. Here is where Zhayi'er and 'Judy' caught up with us much to my surprise! I hadn't expected for them to come (still in bed when I departed). But, was glad to see them as I'd be able to get some information about where we were going. 'Judy' is learning English and can translate for me!

We headed north toward DaTong, a town some 30KM distance. But, I'd been shown another route (to this 'temple'), so was confused as usual (always confused in China). Departing 90 minutes after given a time (0800) and heading in the wrong direction, but so typical of living in China!

It was slow going with the Chinese woman, however. Agonizingly slow! The people in the group not really cyclists, just out on a summer excursion hoping for the best. I thought later the woman had come because bored and wanted some company (social stimulation). At one point going up a hill we put the woman on the geared Giant bicycle 'Judy' rides, but she didn't get the 'hang of it,' and almost fell. Also, Zhayi'er tried pushing her along. I videotaped as much as possible, as I know people like to see themselves, and rarely having the chance!

10 KM short of Da Tong we turned off the main highway and headed east on a paved road. It wasn't long, however, before they stopped for lunch. I, along with Zhayi'er, and 'Judy' were directed to proceed another 1 KM so I could get mi fan (rice). Although I prefer to eat rice and vegetables, it's difficult to explain I don't want the people to make me a special case and go out of their way for such, but they always do! So, we went on what ended up being 10KM (people don't know two things wherever they live: distance and elevation). Of course, when we got to the restaurant where we were directed it had none of the above! Ah, living in China, what a challenge for a westerner, the culture so different!

After lunch it was just the three of us, and all with geared bikes. I had no idea where I was going, but 'Judy' knew and she found the road. Soon we were going up on dirt. My tires are not really the best for such, but we managed. When we got to where we were going (six kilometers distance) it became evident it is a tourist site (ancient temples) and we had to pay 3RMB each, plus 1RMB for each bicycle! Seems to me if you ride a bicycle that far, they should be exempt, but since money is God (everywhere now), forget that!

The last 100 meters, up to the 'picnic grounds,' were the hardest, but we, Zhayi'er and I, managed to go all the way without stopping! 'Judy' pushed.

Here at the base of the 'mountain' they had table sites, and some shelters (in case it rained). We pushed our bicycles up to the first one, and went to the kitchen 'tent' to order ba bao cha. When they found out we were with Mr. Zhou, we were ushered to one of the better outdoor tables (they know him). This was next to a group drinking beer and playing dominoes. They Chinese love to play games. One in their group, a woman, came and spoke some English with me.

Judy called Mr. Zhou on her mobnile and she found out they'd be there in another 30 minutes. I was surprised that they would make it all that way. But, they didn't ride, however, had left their bicycle at the base of the hill, and walked the last few kilometers.

After lunch we climbed a thousand stairs and partook of the ancient temples. I was never quite sure if they are Taoist, Chinese, or Buddhist. But, in one was 'Kuan Yin,' the Goddess of Benevolence--that 'sound in your head!' She's one of mine, one of my deities, and so I bowed and lit incense for all to be more benevolent!

Here courtesy of a WEB site all about the concept of 'Kuan Yin,' this merciful deity: BUT, SKIP OVER THE NEXT 3.5 PAGES IF NOT INTERESTED!

"There is still much scholarly debate regarding the origin of devotion to the female Bodhisattva Kuan Yin (also know as Quan Shi Yin and Kwan Yin). Quan means to inquire or look deeply into, Shi means the world of people, or generations, Yin means cries. The Boddhisatva of Compassion was inquiring into the suffering (cries) that has come down the generations. Kuan Yin is considered to be the feminine form of Avalokitesvara (Sanskrit), the bodhisattva of compassion of Indian Buddhism whose worship was introduced into China in the third century.

Scholars believe that the Buddhist monk and translator Kumarajiva was the first to refer to the female form of Kuan Yin in his Chinese translation of the Lotus Sutra in 406 A.D. Of the thirty-three appearances of the bodhisattva referred to in his translation, seven are female. (Devoted Chinese and Japanese Buddhists have since come to associate the number thirty-three with Kuan Yin.)

Although Kuan Yin was still being portrayed as a male as late as the tenth century, with the introduction of Tantric Buddhism into China in the eighth century during the T'ang Dynasty, the image of the celestial bodhisattva as a beautiful white-robed goddess was predominant and the devotional cult surrounding her became increasingly popular. By the ninth century there was a statue of Kuan Yin in every Buddhist monastery in China.

Despite the controversy over the origins of Kuan Yin as a feminine being, the depiction of a bodhisattva as both 'god' and 'goddess' is not inconsistent with Buddhist doctrine. The scriptures explain that a bodhisattva has the power to embody in any form--male, female, child, even animal depending on the type of being he is seeking to save. As the Lotus Sutra relates, the bodhisattva Kuan Shih Yin, "by resort to a variety of shapes, travels in the world, conveying the beings to salvation."

The twelfth-century legend of the Buddhist saint Miao Shan, the Chinese princess who lived in about 700 B.C. and is widely believed to have been Kuan Yin, reinforced the image of the bodhisattva as a female. During the twelfth century Buddhist monks settled on P'u-t'o Shan--the sacred island-mountain in the Chusan Archipelago off the coast of Chekiang where Miao Shan is said to have lived for nine years, healing and saving sailors from shipwreck--and devotion to Kuan Yin spread throughout northern China.

This picturesque island became the chief center of worship of the compassionate Saviouress; crowds of pilgrims would journey from the remotest places in China and even from Manchuria, Mongolia and Tibet to attend stately services there. At one time there were more than a hundred temples on the island and over one thousand monks. The lore surrounding P'u-t'o island recounts numerous appearances and miracles performed by Kuan Yin, who, it is believed, reveals herself to the faithful in a certain cave on the island.

In the Pure Land sect of Buddhism, Kuan Yin forms part of a ruling triad that is often depicted in temples and is a popular theme in Buddhist art. In the center is the Buddha of Boundless Light, Amitabha (Chinese, A-mi-t'o Fo; Japanese, Amida). To his right is the bodhisattva of strength or power, Mahasthamaprapta, and to his left is Kuan Yin, personifying his endless mercy.

In Buddhist theology Kuan Yin is sometimes depicted as the captain of the "Bark of Salvation," guiding souls to Amitabha's Western Paradise, or Pure Land--the land of bliss where souls may be reborn to receive continued instruction toward the goal of enlightenment and perfection. The journey to Pure Land is frequently represented in woodcuts showing boats full of Amitabha's followers under Kuan Yin's captainship.

Amitabha, a beloved figure in the eyes of Buddhists desiring to be reborn in his Western Paradise and to obtain freedom from the wheel of rebirth, is said to be, in a mystical or spiritual sense, the father of Kuan Yin. Legends of the Mahayana School recount that Avalokitesvara was 'born' from a ray of white light which Amitabha emitted from his right eye as he was lost in ecstasy.

Thus Avalokitesvara, or Kuan Yin, is regarded as the "reflex" of Amitabha a further emanation or embodiment of Karuna (compassion), the quality which Amitabha himself embodies in the highest sense. Many figures of Kuan Yin can be identified by the presence of a small image of Amitabha in her crown. It is believed that as the merciful redemptress Kuan Yin expresses Amitabha's compassion in a more direct and personal way and prayers to her are answered more quickly.

The iconography of Kuan Yin depicts her in many forms, each one revealing a unique aspect of her merciful presence. As the sublime Goddess of Mercy whose beauty, grace and compassion have come to represent the ideal of womanhood in the East, she is frequently portrayed as a slender woman in flowing white robes who carries in her left hand a white lotus, symbol of purity. Ornaments may adorn her form, symbolizing her attainment as a bodhisattva, or she may be pictured without them as a sign of her great virtue.

Kuan Yin's presence is widespread through her images as the "bestower of children" which are found in homes and temples. A great white veil covers her entire form and she may be seated on a lotus. She is often portrayed with a child in her arms, near her feet, or on her knees, or with several children about her. In this role, she is also referred to as the "white-robed honored one." Sometimes to her right and left are her two attendants, Shan-tsai Tung-tsi, the "young man of excellent capacities," and Lung-wang Nu, the "daughter of the Dragon-king."

Kuan Yin is also known as patron bodhisattva of P'u-t'o Shan, mistress of the Southern Sea and patroness of fishermen. As such she is shown crossing the sea seated or standing on a lotus or with her feet on the head of a dragon.

Like Avalokitesvara she is also depicted with a thousand arms and varying numbers of eyes, hands and heads, sometimes with an eye in the palm of each hand, and is commonly called "the thousand-arms, thousand-eyes" bodhisattva. In this form she represents the omnipresent mother, looking in all directions simultaneously, sensing the afflictions of humanity and extending her many arms to alleviate them with infinite expressions of her mercy.

Symbols characteristically associated with Kuan Yin are a willow branch, with which she sprinkles the divine nectar of life; a precious vase symbolizing the nectar of compassion and wisdom, the hallmarks of a bodhisattva; a dove, representing fecundity; a book or scroll of prayers which she holds in her hand, representing the dharma (teaching) of the Buddha or the sutra (Buddhist text) which Miao Shan is said to have constantly recited; and a rosary adorning her neck with which she calls upon the Buddhas for succor.

Images of Avalokitesvara, thus then Kuan Yin, is often shown holding a rosary; describing being born with a rosary in one hand --- not unlike a similar story oft repeated regarding the contemporary Japanese Zen master Yasutani Hakuun Roshi --- and a white lotus in the other. It is taught that the beads represent all living beings and the turning of the beads symbolizes that Avalokitesvara is leading them out of their state of misery and repeated rounds of rebirth into Nirvana.

Today Kuan Yin is worshipped by Taoists as well as Mahayana Buddhists--especially in Taiwan, Japan, Korea and once again in her homeland of China, where the practice of Buddhism had been suppressed by the Communists during the Cultural Revolution (1966-69). She is the protectress of women, sailors, merchants, craftsmen, and those under criminal prosecution, and is invoked particularly by those desiring progeny. Beloved as a mother figure and divine mediatrix who is very close to the daily affairs of her devotees, Kuan Yin's role as Buddhist Madonna has been compared to that of Mary the mother of Jesus in the West.

There is an implicit trust in Kuan Yin's saving grace and healing powers. Many believe that even the simple recitation of her name will bring her instantly to the scene. One of the most famous texts associated with the bodhisattva, the ancient Lotus Sutra whose twenty-fifth chapter, dedicated to Kuan Yin, is known as the "Kuan Yin sutra," describes thirteen cases of impending disaster--from shipwreck to fire, imprisonment, robbers, demons, fatal poisons and karmic woes--in which the devotee will be rescued if his thoughts dwell on the power of Kuan Yin. The text is recited many times daily by those who wish to receive the benefits it promises.

Devotees also invoke the bodhisattva's power and merciful intercession with the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM-- "Hail to the jewel in the lotus!" or, as it has also been interpreted, "Hail to Avalokitesvara, who is the jewel in the heart of the lotus of the devotee's heart!" Throughout Tibet and Ladakh, Buddhists have inscribed OM MANI PADME HUM on flat prayer stones called "mani-stones" as votive offerings in praise of Avalokitesvara. Thousands of these stones have been used to build mani-walls that line the roads entering villages and monasteries.

It is believed that Kuan Yin frequently appears in the sky or on the waves to save those who call upon her when in danger. Personal stories can be heard in Taiwan, for instance, from those who report that during World War II when the United States bombed the Japanese-occupied Taiwan, she appeared in the sky as a young maiden, catching the bombs and covering them with her white garments so they would not explode.

Thus altars dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy are found everywhere--shops, restaurants, even taxicab dashboards. In the home she is worshipped with the traditional "pai pai," a prayer ritual using incense, as well as the use of prayer charts--sheets of paper designed with pictures of Kuan Yin, lotus flowers, or pagodas and outlined with hundreds of little circles. With each set of prayers recited or sutras read in a novena for a relative, friend, or oneself, another circle is filled in. This chart has been described as a "Ship of Salvation" whereby departed souls are saved from the dangers of hell and the faithful safely conveyed to Amitabha's heaven not unlike the Cumeaean Sibyl and her golden bough in Greek mythology.

In addition to elaborate services with litanies and prayers, devotion to Kuan Yin is expressed in the popular literature of the people in poems and hymns of praise.

Devout followers of Kuan Yin may frequent local temples and make pilgrimages to larger temples on important occasions or when they are burdened with a special problem. The three yearly festivals held in her honor are on the nineteenth day of the second month (celebrated as her birthday), of the sixth month, and of the ninth month based on the Chinese lunar calendar.

In the tradition of the Great White Brotherhood Kuan Yin is known as the Ascended Lady Master who bears the office and title of "Goddess of Mercy" because she en-souls the God qualities of the law of mercy, compassion and forgiveness. She had numerous embodiments prior to her ascension thousands of years ago and has taken the vow of the bodhisattva to teach the un-ascended children of God how to balance their karma and fulfill their divine plan by loving service to life and the application of the violet flame through the science of the spoken Word.

Kuan Yin preceded the Ascended Master Saint Germain as Chohan (Lord) of the Seventh Ray of Freedom, Transmutation, Mercy and Justice and she is one of seven Ascended Masters who serve on the Karmic Board, a council of justice that mediates the karma of earth's evolutions--dispensing opportunity, mercy and the true and righteous judgments of the Lord to each life stream on earth. She is hierarch of the etheric Temple of Mercy over Peking, China, where she focuses the light of the Divine Mother on behalf of the children of the ancient land of China, the souls of humanity, and the sons and daughters of God."

Wow! The preceding is probably more than you wanted to know about Kuan Yin! But, maybe valuable! I felt her divine presence on this Qinghai mountain. In fact, I am one of her reincarnations, 'Ahya!'

After descending, we had more to eat, and then were on our way back to XiNing much refreshed. Ironically, the man with the most mechanic experience of all, Zhayi'er, had his second flat tire (with me). And again I have brought an extra tube which saved the day.

Without the others, who no doubt took a bus back to XiNing, we made fast time as it's downhill and with additional help from the wind.

On the outskirts of XiNing we came across the overweight woman in black, who was pushing her bicycle back to XiNing. We found out she'd eaten alone, not able to continue with the others. Worse, she became ill vomited. A sure sign of high blood pressure to me. We escorted her back, a painful time going so slowly, listening to her and 'Judy's' endless Chinese babble. I told Zhayi'er to go on ahead so he wouldn't have to suffer.

The following day, Sunday was the finish of the 'Sixth Stage' of the 'Tour de Qinghai' Bicycle race (a total of 1,400KM / 850 miles).

In the morning, XTRicha informed me Li Hui was coming to interview me. She, a woman reporter from the 'Qinghai Radio-TV Weekly.' I was surprised as I thought she wasn't interested (hadn't heard from her in weeks). Funny how things happen… If you're patient enough… Or, maybe the Earth has to transmigrate through the proper 'void' before the right 'energy.' Who knows, as I'd written this woman off, after our previous experience.

This day, however, she came and spent the entire morning discussing what XTRicha had written (answers to her questions about me). Then when no proper image could be located of me riding Ms. Fiets we went off to XiNing West Park to capture one. We spent almost an hour getting what she wanted, me waving 'Hi,' with the right building in the background.

After lunch we were supposed to go to the finish of the 'TdQH' Race together, but she disappeared after dropping XTRicha and Zhayi'er off. I was there waiting with my bicycle when they arrived.

When Zhayi'er, tried to get on the right side of the start-finish line to 'shoot,' he was asked to leave (without the proper credential). When we confronted the police they said I could go, so I took the camcorder and 'shot' the finish with XTRicha (he just bullied his way through the police). Poor Zhayi'er was relegated to watching Ms. Fiets.

Afterwards, XTRicha 'shot' the awards presentation while Zhayi'er and I watched beyond the fence.

A Qinghai TV reporter spied me and came over asking for an interview. However, when he determined I couldn't speak Chinese well enough they decided to make a story another way: They 'shot' me watching the proceedings, and then riding my bicycle.

By then a crowd had formed and I was asked to sign autographs. It's hard for me to describe the feeling of being made an ersatz celebrity (in China). I was surrounded and almost 'mobbed,' people just wanting to say 'hello,' and shake hands. It was if I was the winner of the race. I remember the reporter saying (he could speak a little English) that, 'These people really love you!' My only 'defense!' The more I'm loved (without reason) the more humble I become! It's a strange situation.

The crowd around me grew so large we were blocking traffic making the police angry. I tried to move but couldn't for people! Again, a strange feeling of almost 'panic' wanting to escape. The TV reporter tried to get me to reproduce, 'I love this Bicycle Race!' in Chinese, which I did, although not every well. Then it was to escape, and I pedaled home to peace and quiet.

August 20, 2007, the story was aired on the local Qinghai TV 10:00 O'Clock news! My five minutes of fame!

So, 'Every dog has his day! Mine, I guess, has come!

P.S. Regarding the 'TdQB Race'… I'm not exactly sure who's in the lead. The Discovery Team/U.S.A. ends up winning the stages, but I'm told Italy has the 'overall' (Yellow Jersey). I guess I won't know until Sunday and the conclusion of the Race!

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

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Read the following carefully. It's from a 29-year old friend in the U.S.… Forgive the strange format, as when you 'drag and drop,' or 'cut and paste' between platforms strange things happen…

"I've never been in a serious relationship in my adult life, and as with anything new and full of promise,
there are challenges presented and commitments to be made. It is good to
see you are finding a path for your inspirations across the globe. You are
like one who knows how to flow with the current, letting life guide you,
take you where it will or must. It seems like I am often fighting currents,
mostly out of ignorance. I am fortunate to have love in my life but I often
have a hard time understanding how to share myself in healthy ways
sometimes. And it has been difficult for me to find the right balance
between work, friends, family, lover, and art. Last night in fact I had
trouble sleeping and could not understand or see where my life was heading.
I have had no time to study or produce art for some time. I ended up by
chance picking up a copy of the famous book "Autobiography of a Yogi", and
flipped through a random section for guidance. I was reminded of our
fallible tendency to view the duality of life and ignore the underlying
unified presence of divinity; I was reminded of grace and renunciation, of
letting go of desire, which mutes truth.

As I reflect, I see that in my weakest moments, I have been giving in to my
shallowest tendencies. But I am also realizing that this has always been
the case, only now, I am not sheltered by the veil of youthful innocence
that protects those still in adolescence, so it is more apparent. I am
becoming more aware of my subtler tendencies which harm myself and others.
I think it is generally true that the more difficult the path, the more we
are tested and the more that is asked of us; and when under fire, we find
out what we are truly made of. It seems I often cannot bear that pressure.
I am thankful for the difficulties I have had of late, but also it has been
pressing on me. I have always been very selfish with my life, doing as I
please, and it is difficult for me to comprehend anything other than this
strict individualism I so cherish. I wonder what I have to give to the
world. By my nature I am very competitive, so I stack myself up against all
the great individuals who have passed before us. It seems there is little
time to rest. I wonder what things matter in the grand schemes of things.
What matters is the love and wisdom shared; what part do we have to play in
this, I ask?

I look forward to hearing about your return to Tibet, if you still plan on
going there. Let me know how you are doing when you get the chance to
write, and take care of yourself as always!"

I doubt many of you much older even think this deeply…? If you do you certainly don't write about it. But, this internal 'dialogue,' so important in life (whether it is conveyed or not).

Constantly I ask myself… 'Why am I here? How did my consciousness develop, when others are mired in the mundane? How should I live the remaining moments of my short life?'

All I know is, that the 'greatest enemy we have is ourselves, the greatest battle within,' which most project outward (like dummy Bush is doing!)! Thus, wouldn't it follow, that our task is to overcome ourselves? And return to 'the Garden?' What I label 'Singularity!' What my young friend called the 'unified presence of divinity.' Remember the theme of 'The Little Prince,?' 'What you can't see is most important!'

Yesterday (Sunday, 15 July), 'Zha-i-er' and I cycled up to Huang Yuan, a town to the West of XiNing. I felt a little 'pressed,' as he's 28-years old, and a mountain-bike competitor--I felt his presence always close behind me. But, sometimes this is good as it forces you to 'stretch' and thus gain! 'No pain no gain,' we say.

From XiNing you go up (1-3% grade) some 40KM (to HuangYuan (which we managed in 2:45 minutes averaging some 16KM per hour). We stopped only once. Thus, I felt fatigued once sitting at our outdoor restaurant.

Then on the way back, big pain in my legs! I had strained the ligaments (things that attach muscles to bones) and I suffered all the way back to XiNing. Luckily, it's downhill except for a few small hills. I kept chanting, 'Pain is just weakness leaving the body!'

What ultimately saved me, was many stops for one thing or another (in no hurry).

Once, at a pond, we spent almost an hour relaxing and partaking of nature. See images at www.cyclingpeace.org/gallery/

Another time Zha-ier had a puncture, and we had to replace the tube. Note, I carry what I need and thus it didn't take long. Asians are spoiled and don't carry much, as there's a village every ten kilometers with the basics to purchase. Note, in Xinjiang A.R., this distance greater and you have to carry more. I carry everything I need even in the City.

I stopped twice for 'les toilet,' and he stopped twice, once to wash his hands in a river, another time to buy water.

Thus, all this stopping gave my legs a chance to recover enough to get me all the way home! It was the last little hill near out flat that almost 'killed' me!

Today, almost back to normal after one night's rest. My 67-year old legs… Some of the best in the world! 'Horse legs' I have, as I am a Sagittarius (half man, half horse)!

By the way, speaking of 'horse legs,' some results from the first two stages of the 'Tour de Qinghai Lake' race. The first stage won by a rider from the American Discovery Team. They covered 152KM in 3:40 hours--an average of 44KM per hour! Amazing as it's all up hill and over a 3,200M / 10,500ft. pass!

The second stage more flat in terms of terrain was won by a German man, but America still holds the overall lead ('yellow jersey' as in the /TdF'). They averaged something like 53KM per hour over this terrain. Again, these speeds amazing to me!

This is something I might have been good at when I was young! But, now just happy to have 'horse legs' enough to get me there, and at any speed. Oh, the difference between youth and age!

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

130707

Oh Lord, I just watched an American movie that made me sob (at the end)! And by Clint Eastwood a filmmaker I've tried all my life to dislike (I'm no doubt jealous.)! But, has he ever matured as an actor/filmmaker! The movie, 'Million Dollar Baby,' with Hillary Swank and Morgan Freeman. Life and death can be so poignant as drama! The movie not really about boxing but about love, devotion and surrender… parting; death!

But, without death can there be life? Why do we have one anyway, a life, and what's it all about? It the case of this movie, to hear your named chanted by the crowd, only to lose it all in a flash! 'What's it all about, Alfie?' It's for you to find out--why else be conscious? Without death, life would have no meaning!

Thank you 'Clint baby' (Haggis the writer) for making me sob at the end when 'Frankie' whispers in her ear the Gaelic chant (he had stitched on her robe: 'Mo Chúisle'): 'My darling, my blood!' (literally 'my pulse'). This before pulling the plug to end her life!

I judge movies by what they make me feel, and this one is a 'masterpiece!' Congratulations Mr. Eastwood, for bringing this to life, one of the most emotional endings to any film I can remember!

'The Eddie Duchin Story,' similar! But, you're way too young to remember!

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

120707

It's been raining in XiNing, and I'm not happy about it. I moved here to live in a sunny and dry climate, but as XTR says, 'It's normal!' 'Normal' for him, but not for me! I remember Portland, Oregon (U.S.A.), where raining for months at a time was 'normal!' I'm beyond the pointing of adjusting to circumstances, I just move! And after two years in China I'm getting that 'itch' again!

My friend Marty just moved 75 miles (or so) from his house in 'Manitoidville,' where he's lived for twenty years--in with his girlfriend near Denver! This, I imagine, a big move for him. For me, I do it every month, and have for twenty years. Some people are nomads like me, others are 'householders' like Marty. To each his own.

The big 'Tour de Qinghai Lake' Bicycle Race starts on Saturday here. (Note: The 'Tour de France' already in it's fourth stage.) Zha-i'er and I will cycle out and 'shoot' coverage of such. This is a 9-day, 1,400KM race that not only goes around the Lake (200KM west of X.N.), but loops back and through X.N. some four times. This is a professional race with teams from all over the world!

Next year (2008) we hope to combine our own 'Bicycle China Olympics' with such! This to bring cyclists from around the world to convene for a gathering in XiNing. 'Cyclists of the world unite! You have only your chains to lose!'

In the meantime, acting classes, and 'Haaqi's English Club.' Classes on Wednesdays, Clubs on Saturdays. It's become somewhat of a 'grind,' for me, as I have to think for the group! Youth acts, but age thinks (for them)! When all I want to do is ride Ms. Fiets into the sunset! I was insane to attempt to start an organization in China!

I’m in maybe the last ten (?) years of my earthly existence. And like Mark Twain, and Kurt Vonnegut before me I've discovered that modern life pretty much a 'crock!' Certainly a 'crock' if you pursue your Ego!

Two movies of recent viewing. I've discovered the best music/DVD store in Xining (finally). It only took six months! It's in the Museum building, and I was there last week to purchase 'JFK,' ('the director's cut') and 'Chicago.' These in nice cases cost twice as much, however, 18 versus 9 RMB. Or $2U.S. versus $1. But, don't you get what you pay for? You learn in life that nothing (in capitalism) is for free! Not really!

Also, I found the Tibetan songs I've discovered (from dance groups) and love. Two songs we dance to now. We're going to produce a video about www.haaqi.com using one of these songs. I wish I could tell you the name, but in Chinese.

The movies… First, Chicago, a musical starring, of all people, Richard Gere (singing and dancing)! I'm not into such and stopped halfway through. I've never been a fan of American Broadway styled musicals. Couldn't get through 'Cats' either!

But, 'JFK,' what an effort! Of course, it proves what all of us that lived through the Sixties knew… The killing of JFK a conspiracy (to eliminate a peace keeper--someone that was going to end the VN War). Kevin Costner plays Jim Garrison (complete with southern accent). Sissy Spacek as his wife! Additionally, a cast of greats I can hardly remember all of which except for Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau! I would imagine all the old guard wanted to be apart of Oliver Stone's movie (the truth about the assassination): Thanks to the Internet:
Tommy Lee Jones Clay Shaw/Clay Bertrand (amazing this Texas cowboy would play a gay man! I have renewed respect for him!)
Kevin Bacon ... Willie O'Keefe
Gary Oldman ... Lee Harvey Oswald
Brian Doyle-Murray Jack Ruby
Michael Rooker Bill Broussard
Jack Lemmon ... Jack Martin
Ed Asner Guy Bannister
Laurie Metcalf ... Susie Cox
Joe Pesci ... David Ferrie
John Candy ... Dean Andrews
Pruitt Taylor Vince Lee Bowers
Jay O. Sanders ... Lou Ivon
Walter Matthau Senator Long
Sally Kirkland ... Rose Cheramie
Donald Sutherland Mr. X (great scene with Costner) when explains who and why!)
Jim Garrison Earl Warren (how ironic?)

I knew way back when that the 'Warren Commission' whitewashed the deal! Why? I grew up shooting weapons, rifles and such, as a hunter and in the military. I knew that only a very talented sniper could pull off hitting a moving target, getting off three shots in less than six (even ten) seconds with the kind of antiquated rifle Oswald had (telescopic sight defective). It was definitely as the movie said: Three teams of professionals shooting Kennedy in a crossfire! The fatal shot blowing out his brain from the front right (grassy knoll)--his jerking back left (Oswald was above and behind in the Texas Book Depository).

Interesting, I lived in Dallas, Texas, too long and was around 'Dealy Plaza' many times. Of course, they turned the Texas Book Depository into a money-making 'museum' (I never paid/visited)--this after the Hertz BB on top. Some ironic trivia, however: I had worked with the 'Dealy' grandson in Tucson, Arizona, years prior. 'Dealy' a rich oil family in Dallas the Plaza named after.

This version of 'JFK,' ('the director's cut' on DVD) worth seeing, if only for 'Jim Garrison's' (Kevin Costner's) closing statement in the 'Clay Shaw' trial. It's should be 'pulled out' and shown to every child in America (the world).

I remember during the Sixties, not really understanding who Jim Garrison was, or why he got involved. Now, I would count him as one of America's heroes having the courage to try to solve the crime (reveal the truth)! Some day in the future the real murderers will come out with a confession (before dying), and the truth will set them free!

The 'idea' of American (freedom, democracy, etc.) a wonderful idea! In practice, an experiment gone wrong (corrupted by evil men). Look at the current Bush Administration, lying, breaking the law, and killing people--supported by a majority of Americans! 'We have met the enemy and he is us!' For shame!

I'm just glad I no longer live in the U.S.A.!

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

050707

So much has happened (since my last BLOG)… So much happens! So much of everything happening, I can hardly keep up with it all! How did this transpire? I'm a fool to have launched so much! I'm a complete fool, not really understanding myself until too late. Five years ago, even two years ago this all was a good idea (in my mind), now I'm wondering! All I want is to ride my bicycle!

And speaking of that, last weekend there were the two WCC bicycle races we had anticipated. Zhayer, had come all the way (30-hour train trip) from Urumqi to participate in the Mountain Bike Race. But, we talked him into the Road Race as well. Now, he's staying here permanently.

The first on Saturday (30 June) was the 60KM road race on city streets (12X around a 5KM course). Both XTRicha and Zhayer had acquired two 'beater' bicycles from WCC for this race. We had two others join our team that had their own road bicycles (names?). Both young of course, one, a friend we'd cycled with before, but the other a taciturn and unfriendly newcomer with a unpleasant demeanor.

If children ever wonder why they are having trouble in the world, they should take a good look in a mirror! (Note: 'We have met the enemy and he is us!' Of course, it's always the world that we blame!). Of course, I was one of those!

The 'call' was 0830, and we were there on time, but I learned again what XTR has explained, 'Chinese people don't watch clock!' So, guess what…? I think the gun for the start went off at 1030! But, in the meantime we got organized and 'shot' much video of the preparations. Besides the gathering throng there was music, singers, dancers and a fashion show.

In addition, we had our own cheerleading crew from the Dance Studio. They even had little pennants to wave that Wang Jiang's drawing school had made for us. 'Jiao!' 'Jiao!' ('Go! Go!') they screamed when one of our team passed. Unfortunately 1 of the 5 Mini DV cassettes I recorded was lost and it just happened to be the one of them cheering! I had used a young Chinese man we like, Xiao He, to assist me, as he said he wanted to learn how to 'shoot' video. But, turns out he didn't ultimately want as too much in the way of reality from Haqi! But, I can't blame anyone but myself, as I didn't explain to him beforehand well enough. It's always so much easier to blame someone else than take the responsibility yourself!

Our team… Well, it started off well, but then XTRicha was out quickly because of a flat. Next, Zhayer had a bit of bad luck when he thought he'd been waved out of the race for some reason. We (at least me) didn't really understand why this happened, I think some misunderstanding. So, out of our four starters, I think only Yang su Tong finished. But, it was fun!

At the end I happened to be at the start/finish line. Of course, having attended so many different kinds of races for ABC Sports (in the 1960s and 70s) I knew where to be at the right time. I was able to record the finish, and it was very close, first and second places just eight feet apart, but at the speed maybe one second difference! Yao Guo Hui, the Race Director, looked at our 'footage,' to determine the winner.

Afterwards we took the group up to Nan Shan to eat. I think we had something like 30 people. It cost something like 600RMB or $75U.S.

The next day, Sunday, was the Mountain Bike Race, and Zha'ier was to redeem himself, as this his specialty.

This time I was able to record the start, Zha'ier leaping out in front. I had missed Saturday's start, as the battery failed.

The race course, Zha'ier and I had cranked the week prior. It's all up in the beginning, level for some time, then down, of course, to the start/finish. This two 'laps' around for a total of 24-kilometers on a dirt road (nothing really overland).

After they all 'blasted off,' we climbed the hill to get to a place where we might record some 'action.' I knew enough to follow Wang guozhang, as he's the 'big leader,' although when we got up to the road, he was nowhere to be found. But, we were lucky as we found where the officials were standing to direct the riders around or down for the finish.

We saw Yang su tong pass first, and in fourth place. I wondered about Zha'ier… When Xu Tan passed I knew there must be something wrong with Zha'ier. Sure enough in the distance I saw him jogging next to his bicycle. Turns out he broke his chain! But, not giving up he ran pushing his bike, and finally no problem going downhill (only brakes needed).

When we got down again to the start-finish line, we found out Yang su Tong, one of the www.haaqi.com team came in 6th place, Xu Tan 10th, and Zha'ier (out of 30 or so competitors) who knows? He was disconsolate having done so poorly in both races, but I told him (we communicate by writing) not to worry! 'What is important is to compete, to participate! We try our best, sometimes winning, sometimes 'rained out,' sometimes losing!'

After the race we took eighty people to lunch (our 'Jaio Crew' included) at an adjacent outdoor restaurant. This cost 1,100RMB or $ 130U.S. But, it was fun watching them. Chinese people, generally happy, eating, talking, singing and dancing.

They all sat under a 'cabana' roof, I stayed out in the sun and ate my 'yu min' (corn dish). Note: Whereas Haqi loves the sun, Chinese people don't and particularly the women. The ideal in Chinese female allure is to have snow-white skin. Thus, in XiNing a sunny land, they carry parasols when exposed. The skin cancer rate is probably low in China.

While I was sitting waiting for my food, a vendor came up and offered handmade hammocks (of course in the beginning I didn't know what these tangled 'threads' were). I ended up buying one, all of 10RMB ($1.25U.S.).

The 'Jaio' crew had to depart early, as were summoned by their 'leader.' But, the adults, whose food took so long in coming, we stayed, ate, and sang songs, and even danced (all of this captured on video). A good time was had by all!

It was a wonderful weekend of bicycle camaraderie! We met many people, and made many friends!

In the meantime, we've gotten Wang Jaing involved with www.haaqi.com This after John Zhang saying he 'was too busy with his job.' But, all happens for the best, I know! We now have a wonderful room with a stage in which to have English Club and our acting classes. We now have a man involved with local entertainment experience! A man with many good ideas!

Now, after three months starting we're on our way!

No cigarette smokers allowed!

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Monday, July 02, 2007

020707

FINDS ME!

"'I hope a good death
Will find me!'
Find us all!
Lose us all!
I'm looking now,
Searching the earth,
It's all mirth,
Life!
Death!
I hope a good death
Finds me!"

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