Sunday, January 25, 2009

新牛年快乐!Happy New Year of the Ox!

Are you an Ox?

Ox Years - 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997
“People born in the Year of the Ox are patient, speak little, and inspire confidence in others. They tend, however, to be eccentric, and bigoted, and they anger easily. They have fierce tempers and although they speak little, when they do they are quite eloquent. Ox people are mentally and physically alert. Generally easy-going, they can be remarkably stubborn, and they hate to fail or be opposed. They are most compatible with Snake, Rooster, and Rat people.”

Another report on Oxen:


The Ox: A born leader, you inspire confidence from all around you. You are conservative, methodical, and good with your hands. Guard against being chauvinistic and always demanding your own way. The Ox would be successful as a skilled surgeon, general, or hairdresser. Some Oxen: Napoleon Bonaparte, Walt Disney, Clark Gable, Richard Nixon, Rosa arks, Sylvia Porter, Vincent Van Gogh.

Here in Beijing, I hung out with my friend Sunny Oh and her beautiful mama who cooked up all kinds of Korean specialties for us to enjoy. We played a Korean game called Yute, which my team won! The losing team had to venture on to the cold Beijing streets to procure fireworks for set off at midnight.

Beijing felt like a war zone come midnight, minus the bloodshed of course. There were fireworks being set off EVERYWHERE! Big ones, small ones, loud ones, quiet ones. The skies were ablaze with shining shows of the celebration fireworks, the air thick with smoke and sparks.

As my taxi wove through the streets not long after midnight, we took a few fireworks hits, however driver was unfazed, driving through the chaos.

I can tell you, if the ghosts and spirits weren't scared away by these fireworks - I was!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

boyle's reign in the Niu 牛 Year in China

What a family adventure! Traci, Vegen, Mom and Dad arrived in Beijing on December 21 for a once in a lifetime Christmas everyone is sure never to forget! Although I put together a rather grueling traveling schedule for the family, we were able to see and experience a few of the many aspects of modern China.

Despite a few challenges, not to mention Traci's lil bun, my mom's foot, and my dad's A.D.D, we managed to make 4 in-country flights, overcome a serious bought of Montezuma's revenge in China's SW, and travel to several municipalities and provinces including: Hebei, Beijing, Lijiang & Kunming in Yunnan, and Shanghai.

What an adventure, and what good sports, after overcoming the shocks of the squatter toilets and culinary surpris

Thursday, December 18, 2008

ningxia or bust

Here in Yinchuan, my assistant, treated me to the local delicacy of sheep-innards noodle soup - it is halal, and not bad tasting with enough chili sauce.

Although my time here is very boring and VERY slow moving, this place is kind of growing on me and I will certainly always remember my dissertation field work days.

Thankfully, the people here are so awesome. I have a research assistant, Ms. Zuo Xiao, and other friends here at the University that have all been so helpful in my wild endeavors to examine this crazy water resource bureaucracy. Another interesting thing about being in Ningxia, as opposed to Beijing or Shanghai, is the types of other foreigners I meet. Out here, smack in the middle of the ancient Silk Road most of the students studying Chinese are from Africa and Central Asia (the 'stans). This is for several reasons, first because of proximity, we are not far from Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, etc. Second, because the Hui people are Muslim so many Muslim students feel comfortable to study here where there are many mosques. Third, because this isn't exactly a tourist mecca, studying Mandarin at Ningxia University is cheap and affordable to people from the developing world.

In Beijing the foreigner crowd is diverse, but mostly consists of Europeans and North Americans looking to live out their orientalist dreams (like me!), or cash in on the 1.2 billion new capitalists (like me too!).

Friday, November 21, 2008

From a far away land

Yes, I am back in the far away land called Yinchuan, in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in Northwestern China. It is in the middle reach of the Yellow River, primarily agricultural society, known for its gouqi berries and its extreme seasons. I dug out my parka, and flew here from Beijing earlier this week to get to know more people associated with water resources in this rugged land.

If you recall back in April I ran into some trouble with the authorities while accompanying a team for some survey work. This time, I have cozied myself in the hospitable graces of the Ningxia University School for International Exchange, and feel much more protected than I did before.

It is a slow pace out here, especially in this time of year, but in the past few days I have been able to arrange several meetings with water resource scholars and officials. I still am working to hire an assistant because I am having trouble understanding what these guys are saying. But I hope they will all meet with me again in December when I have my assistant so she can translate for me.

All is well out here, had to have beer for lunch to do toasts with Mr. Tian the water resource engineering director. Now must rest before the next meeting in the afternoon.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I can come home now!

Early Wednesday morning 6 friends and I stumbled into a well known Beijing tex-mex cantina, "The Saddle" to watch the election returns as the US East coast polls closed.

For Americans abroad, it is difficult to find a Republican amongst us as it seems more liberal minded people are the ones to venture beyond the safe borders of the US for extended periods of time.

A mixed group of ages gathered around and it was interesting to hear the doubt of the 20-somethings toward OBAMAs victory, even as the electoral numbers continued to rise. "I'll believe it when I see it", "I still have a bad feeling"...etc. These poor souls have come of age during 2 disastrous elections filled with hanging chads, voter fraud, and the state of Florida's backwards electoral governance. Those of us who remembered the Clinton era had more confidence that the right man could indeed win, and get the job. I had faith that the system would do right toward people like me, whereas my younger friends had only been disappointed and marginalized by the elections they had participated in.

Indeed, Tuesday was a victory for the USA, for those us us that have fled America under this disastrous president, and for progressive spirited people world wide. So at the big celebration in Beijing on Wednesday night, all Americans agreed, may it is finally safe for us to go home!

Monday, October 13, 2008

off to Sea

a well protected boat!
taking off into the Qingdao Bay
Me & Ms. Zhou touring Qingdao
a seaside space ripe for development
the "cranes" of China

Map of Qingdao, Shandong, China

Click to spin globe northwest Click to spin globe north Click to spin globe northeast
Click to spin globe west Map - Click to zoom
Click to spin globe east
Click to spin globe southwest Click to spin globe south

after a long absence on the blogosphere, I am back, writing live from Beijing China. I spent the last 2 weeks of September in the US and had a fantastic time. I landed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina at 11 PM on a Monday night, and was presenting my dissertation research to my PhD committee by noon on Tuesday. I think I was still asleep! Landing in sleepy Chapel Hill was like taking a flight back in time after the fast-paced futuristic style of Beijing.

Following a whirlwind trip to Chapel Hill and Washington DC, I headed West to San Francisco where my awesome family awaited. My uncles Gary & David, my mom & dad, my sister & her husband all came together for a visit to the Bay area that was full of bay area delights (ask Ozzie about his day at the Folsom St. S&M festival!) . We wined & dined in Napa Valley, visited The Samuels family and their darling babies Andrew & Talia, and had fantastic weekend.

Back in Beijing, It took a while to re-acquaint myself with the habits and etiquette of China. But now I am back in the swing of things. Last weekend I took a visit to China's beautiful port city of Qingdao. A friend who owns an urban design firm invited me to visit a potential development site in north Qingdao. It was an incredible experience to peak at China's urban development world. Full of deals, dinners, baijiu, and philosophizing on the development future of China.

We rode around the Bay on a speedboat with the leaders of Qingdao City and certainly noticed a lack of eye-catching waterfront development. Qingdao is a beautiful and clean city but lacks much allure to tourists, aside from its famed Qingdao beer and Annual Beer Festival each October.

My visit to Qingdao was awesome for several reasons. First, getting to see such a successful & savvy business woman, Ms. Zhou, in action was impressive and inspiring. She is smart, respectful, and ambitious -- I can learn a lot from her! Next, it was a interesting time to interact with land developers. After all, the development environment world wide seems to be tumbling in a sharp downward spiral, and we discussed the global crisis at length. Here in China though, they only consider this period, "the winter of development" and know that the "Spring of growth" for seaside development will be here soon. Developers are just waiting now, waiting for the ideal time to break ground and keep growing. Economic development here in China is still upbeat, with optimism and opportunity abounding.