Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wei Ziqi On The Brain

With a return to our "other capital city home" on the horizon, the four of us are daydreaming about places in Beijing we can't wait to see again. At the top of the list, of course, are the alleyways of Saoziying, the neighborhood where we lived for the year. We are all envisioning a triumphant return, with lots of happy faces...and the food, food, food, food!

And then there is the shopping. Desi and Julie are ready to buy some more countryside clothes at the stalls of Xizhimen. Z, of course, is saving his money for extended bargaining runs at Panjiayuan and other markets around town.

My thoughts seem to be turning to Wei Ziqi. I think there are two reasons for this. Those days we spent in Sancha were flat out spectacular. The hiking was fantastic, with excursions to the hidden Ming Dynasty wall, as well as the remains of an even older Yuan Dynasty section. (Yes, that pile of rocks is a piece of what we call the Great Wall.) Even better was the time we spent in Sancha itself, eating the delicious cooking of Cao Chunmei and talking (and drinking!) with our host family and other visitors from Beijing.

My mind is also wandering to Sancha because I am, right now, reading a new book in which Wei Ziqi figures prominently. Country Driving, a new book by Peter Hessler, has just hit the stands. The book is Hessler's final in a trilogy that tracks the incredible changes sweeping China, all from the perspective of everyday people who are shaping and being shaped by the uncertain world around them. The middle section of Country Driving recounts the years following Hessler's discovery of Sancha, a period during which he lived part time in the village and got to know Wei Ziqi and his family really well. When Hessler describes this little village at the end of the road, I am immediately transported back to those remarkable hills. When Hessler talks about Wei Ziqi, Cao Chunmei, and their son Wei Jia, I immediately conjure up memories of freshly grilled trout, squeezing into that small red car, and getting lost on the way to the Yuan Dynasty wall.

I want to get lost again...

~Steve

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hiking In The Hills Near Camp David

Preparing to head up the Catoctins toward Cat Rock, we saw a guy putting snow shoes on. I have to admit I chuckled inside a bit. And then I stepped onto the trail...And promptly fell in knee deep! Let's just say that we did not make it to the summit...Had fun, though!

~Steve

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The 8th Chinese Internet Research Conference

I recently received the good news that my proposal to present a paper at the 8th Chinese Internet Research Conference has been accepted. The conference will take place on June 29-30 of this year at the Peking University School of Journalism and Communication. The research I will be presenting will be my first piece of scholarship on China, a paper based on the survey of participants in the health system reform process that I mentioned in passing last year.

Now what do you think are the chances that I will be making the trip (yes, we can call this a trip!) back to Beijing by myself!?

~Steve

Monday, February 22, 2010

First Flecks Of Gray

So now that my goatee is sprouting a few grays, what should I do about it?

(a) Nothing.


(b) Shave my head completely. (Except for the eyebrows.)

(c) Get one of those dyes where you use a little brush to sweep the grays away. (Just For Men!)

~Steve

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Schrute Farms Beets

Bears...Beets...Battlestar Galactica...

~Steve

PS: Thanks girls!