Friday, May 09, 2008

Shanghai, Here We Come!

No, we don't yet know where we are living for the year, but we did get one small piece of news. All of the Fulbright grantees who are going to China will be convening in Shanghai for a series of orientation meetings the week of August 25-29. Normally, these meetings take place in Beijing, which makes sense because the U.S. Embassy is there, it's the nation's capital, and so forth.

But...this isn't any old year in the Middle Kingdom. Even though we here may be paying very little attention, the whole country over there is in an uproar over their national "coming out party"--otherwise known as the Olympics. This means that Beijing is going to be a madhouse, with record numbers of foreign visitors, most of whom will be trying to get out of Beijing just when we would be trying to get in. So Shanghai it is...

And this isn't bad news at all. We recently made a list of the five places in China we most wanted to visit (assuming we will be stationed in Beijing). Of course, Shanghai is on the list. So we'll be able to hit one of our designated hot spots right at the beginning of the trip, complete with a visit (hopefully) to ChinesePod and the infamous "bad service restaurant" that Clay and the gang are always talking about.

It's starting to feel just a little bit tangible...


Thursday, May 08, 2008

请问 or...Can I Please ask a Question?

This evening the weather was absolutely luscious so we decided to head to Downtown Silver Spring for some outside dining at Baja Fresh. When we pulled into the parking lot we knew it was going to be a fun night because we spotted "Question-Mark Man's" wife's car -- an orange Scion xB, personalized with, what else?...question marks, of course. Now the family competition was on. Who would spot him first?

The victory is all mine!

Who is this guy, you ask? You may know him as Matthew Lesko, the "Free-Money" man who appears on TV commercials, usually chasing people around DC, presumably trying to save them money. He's quite an attraction in the DC area because he's a local. You can't miss his home since his yellow Mini-Cooper and his motorbike, adorned with question marks sits in his driveway. As an aside, since his home is often on our route when we're out and about, we often see who can yell out "Question-Mark Man" first as we pass it by. He, himself, stands out in the crowd with his funky glasses and outrageous attire -- crazy sport coats with, well, you know.

One afternoon I was walking out of work with a colleague when "Question Mark Man's" wife pulled up in her very familiar car. She stopped next to us and rolled down her window. She said to us, "I have a question." Before she could speak another word, he looked at her with a rather comical expression and said, "of course you do!"

Priceless! (I only wish I had been the one to say it!)

Now, let me tell you about "Crazy Hair Guy." Okay, I'll save that one for another time!


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

An Andrew Zimmern Moment?

So here's a food I tried for the first time the other day. A couple of clues:

It is part of an animal.

It is not an animal part that is typically eaten around here.

It is kinda chewy, like say you were eating spaghetti
al dente.

It is served on the spicy side.
(Right, Z?)

I will probably consider it somewhat tame when you talk to me this time next year.