Happy Valentine’s Day

I know, I know, it’s not February 14, but I learned something new about Chinese culture today–that this day is, according to the Chinese lunar calendar, a day for love.  This is based on a myth of a Cowherd and a Weaver Maid who are separated by the Queen Mother of the Western Heavens (would that be Elizabeth, perchance?), and they are only allowed to meet on this night.  The festival is called "QiXi," and falls on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar.  Qi means 7 and Xi means happiness and is a common character used to celebrate love and weddings.  If you’d like to read more about this festival, you can read this article in the China Daily.

Happy QiXi to everyone!

Beijing Bicycle Thieves

I’ll be heading back to Beijing on Friday, so this afternoon I’ ve been trying to catch up on a bit of China-related news.  In doing so, I ran across this article, titled Database to Monitor Bicycle Thieves in China.  Here’s an excerpt: 

Beijing police have announced plans to crack down on bicycle theft by establishing a database of thieves. Wang Xiaobing, an officer with Beijing Municipal Bureau of Public Security, said bike theft was rampant in the city and the database was needed. "Citizens who buy stolen bicycles for the first time will receive criticism and education," he said. However, if they do it a second time, their action will be regarded as "buying stolen goods" and they will receive public security penalties including a warning, detention or even re-education through labor. Personal information such as names and photos will be recorded in the database. People who purchase large numbers of stolen bicycles will be jailed for committing the crime of Buying Stolen Goods, according to the Criminal Law.

So, let me get this straight, steal a bike once and you get criticized and educated.  If that doesn’t work and you steal a second time, then you’ll get re-educated, with a little help from some hard labor.  And we’ll even take your picture!  The article goes on to say that over 1700 bike theives were arrested in Beijing since the beginning of the year. 

Hmmm. I wonder if they got the guy who took mine!!

Heat Wave

Here in Minnesota, the world could very well end this weekend.  That’s certainly the impression one gets by watching and listening to the local news.  And what is this chataclismic event that is about to descend on this state of tough Scandanavian-stocked people?  Hot weather.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s the middle of summer and there’s a heat wave, and the temp may reach…shock…gulp….100 this afternoon.  And the local stations are providing live coverage and state agencies are issuing health warnings, and smart people are heading to one of our 10,000 lakes!  Actually, I don’t think we’re at risk from the heat, but the hype might sure do us in!   What a nutty nutty place!!!  And of course this heat will last for 2 or 3 days, then the media will tell us how we only survived because they were there telling us to drink water.

And in 2 weeks, I’ll be back in Beijing where the heat and humidity will make this weekend here seem like a Siberian cold front!

No More Buttons!

In this age of telecommunications, we are faced daily with a wide array of ‘buttons’ to press.  Telephones.  Cell phones, with their buttons that let you not only enter numbers but text.  ATM machines.  Garage door openers. Microwave consoles.  Palm Pilots.  MP3 players.  It’s enough to make one’s head, or should I say fingers, swim.  And of course, let’s not forget the ubiquitous remotes that control TV’s, DVD players, video players, and in China, air-conditioners!

I was reminded of this today when I was explaining to my mom that the remote she uses to control her TV has a handy little button labled "jump" that allows here to instantly return to the previous channel.  She threw her head back on the couch and pleaded, "no, no, please don’t show me how to use any more buttons!!!"

Me thinks that there are a lot of people who feel the same way!

More Rainmaking News

Is the USA Today reading my blog?  Yesterday, they did a feature length article on China’s expertise at shooting ammunition into clouds to make it rain.  The title of the article is China Rolls Out the Big Guns, Aiming for a Dry Olympics."  Hah!  My earlier posts on this subject, which can be found here and here, are turning out to be truer than I even suspected.  The article begins like this:

When he’s not tending cherry orchards outside Beijing, Yu Yonggang can be found behind the twin barrels of a 37mm anti-aircraft gun, blasting shells at passing clouds. Yu is one of 37,000 peasants enlisted by the Chinese government to help produce rain in parched areas. The 45-year-old farmer works with China’s other trigger-happy rain men to water the crops, break up damaging hailstorms and put out forest fires. After a sandstorm blew through the capital in May, he lobbed shells and rockets skyward to coax rains that washed sand and grit from city streets.

The peasant described in this article lives in a village near the Fragrant Hills, which is only a few miles from where I live in Beijing, and in an area where I often ride my bike.  So it’s likely that the booms we hear are being shot off by this very peasant!  When I get back to Beijing next month, I’m definitely going to take a ride and try to find this guy. 

There was a boom, then some rain in the Twin Cities last night, but I’m quite sure it was real thunder!