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Happy New Year

Published on January 26, 2009, by in China.

  The Year of the Ox officially started last night at midnight. I watched from the roof of my building as all hell broke loose, as you’ll see later in this post. The Ox is the sign of prosperity through fortitude and hard work. This powerful sign is a born leader, being quite dependable and possessing an innate ability to achieve great things. As one might guess, such people are dependable, calm, and modest. Like their animal namesake, the Ox is unswervingly patient, tireless in their work, and capable of enduring any amount of hardship without complaint. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ox_(zodiac) In other words, it ain’t me. I’m a sheep (or a goat, depending on your source).     I took full advantage of my new camera yesterday, bicycling in the afternoon to the touristy area around Wenshu Monastery. For the New Year it’s transformed into a bustling street market. Here are some of the images I captured. Old gateway, Wenshu shopping area A small part of the New Year’s Eve crowd, shopping for fireworks. Antiques (?) Fun things #1 Fun things #2  Food preparation, noodle restaurant Good things to eat

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A new leaf – a new camera

One of the photos I took with my new Canon EOS 40D   It finally happened. I entered the digital age of photography. After waiting for 2 1/2 years, I was finally able to buy my new camera, the Canon EOS 40D with a 17-85 mm zoom lens. I couldn’t be happier with it, although I spent more than I’d originally intended. I needed a camera badly, and this fits the bill; it should serve me well for years to come through many travel adventures. Now if I could just learn how to operate it. The display panels, menus, buttons, and knobs are a bit baffling to me, and I started wading through the 196-page user manual tonight. Now I know what I’ll be doing for the rest of the winter vacation. And you, dear readers, can look forward to LOTS of juicy photos from me in the near future.      My friend took this photo right after we bought my new camera – it’s beautiful.   This is mine.     What better way to end an afternoon of shopping than with food? This was at the Long Chao Shou restaurant.

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Was it good for you, baby?

    Today’s thought: Ding dong, the Bush is dead! -anonymous Long live Obama. Even if he does turn out to be just another military-industrial president. At least he has a brain. And he can talk. OK everybody, breathe a collective sigh of relief. (sound effect: The entire United States exhaling after 8 years of greed, crime, corruption, torture, illegal incarceration, genocide, and war)     It is finished. School, that is. I’m taking a well-deserved rest, after completing the last of my classes a couple of weeks ago. I asked my Business English students what aspects of American culture they were curious about, and one of them suggested political parties. I did my best to explain that the two-party system doesn’t mean that only two parties exist (there are actually many – just look at an election ballot), but that effectively only the Democrats or Republicans have a chance of getting a presidential candidate in office. I also cited someone (Noam Chomsky?) who said that America only has one party – the Corporate Party – and its two factions are called the Democrats and Republicans. I provided some handouts explaining why the donkey and the elephant came to be the symbols for the parties, as well as the Thomas Nast political cartoon that started it all. As usual, I didn’t share the most interesting visual aid I found:     I could make a really gross comment about taking it up the *** (donkey – jackass, get it?), but

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Lunch date

Published on January 19, 2009, by in Food.

My friend and I met up for some banking business the other day. I transfered some funds from the Bank of China to Citibank in the U.S. to pay off the balance of my credit card debts. It’s been a long haul – four years – but I paid off the debt a year early and saved myself some money in the process. This is a pretty big deal for me: the first time in my adult life that I’ve been completely free of unsecured credit card debt. I’m kind of floating on a sea of possiblities now. Transferring money overseas is a mini-adventure. There’s a certain amount of paperwork, of course, as well as taking a number and waiting in line, but it’s the “indirect” process of handling the money that’s interesting. As a foreigner, I can’t just transfer my money to myself; I must “give” the money to a Chinese citizen (a matter of signatures; no actual cash changes hands), who then authorizes the electronic transfer to my foreign bank account. Every Chinese citizen may transfer a certain amount of money each year overseas. To celebrate, I bought lunch. We were in the Babao Jie area, which is full of restaurants, yet few of them are really appealing. Purely by accident, we found Amy’s Steak Restaurant, right next to Starbucks and around the corner from Pizza Hut. Either the restaurant’s new or I never bothered to look in the window before: it’s gorgeous. The food was great: we

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Life is … Life

Published on January 4, 2009, by in Movies.

Anna Karina, Godard’s Vivre sa vie   Today’s thoughts: “A plate is a plate. A man is a man. Life is … Life.” – Nana in Jean-Luc Godard’s Vivre sa vie   “…I don’t think there’s any better way to fight off the chill of winter than a big bowl of carbohydrates swimming in melted butter.” – David Lebovitz http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2009/01/sweet_potato_gnocchi_the_good_th.html   My sentiments exactly. Today’s dharma: Imagine [no, it's not the John Lennon Imagine] Gay Buddhist Open Forum, Posted by Albert Kaba Wed., Dec 31, 2008 Imagine if all the tumult of the body were to quiet down, along with our busy thoughts. Imagine if all things that are perishable grew still. And imagine if that moment were to go on and on, leaving behind all other sights and sounds but this one vision which ravishes and absorbs and fixes the beholder in joy, so that the rest of eternal life were like that moment of illumination which leaves us breathless. – Saint Augustine   Anna Karina and Vivre sa vie   Among my obsessions lately have been all things French; witness my continual references to David Lebovitz’ blog about food and Paris.   I’ve also been watching a bunch of French films recently.  Is it my imagination, or am I understanding more of the dialogue, since the downloads and DVDs don’t include English subtitles?  Jean-Luc Godard’s Vivre sa vie (1962), which I watched again last night for the third or fourth time, is rapidly becoming one of my favorite

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