Friday, April 30, 2010

What A Bummer

You probably haven't heard, but Shanghai is hosting the World Expo this year (in fact, opening day has arrived literally as this post is being automatically uploaded). I certainly would not have more than a vague sense of this fact had we not lived in China and been to Shanghai a number of times.

Quick trivia question...Where were the last three World Expos held?

One little piece of news concerning the city's preparations for the Expo has really distressed Desi and me, given that food is often at the center of our adventures, both locally and globally. Wujiang Lu, one of our favorite little food streets, has apparently been shut down as part of the process of sprucing up the city for its big moment.

Now, I'm not one to normally pine over the destruction of old Chinese neighborhoods, as the living conditions can be pretty basic (to put it mildly). I know, by the way, that this view runs contrary to the one I'm supposed to have as a Westerner. And there are exceptions to my normal thought pattern. The ongoing tearing down of the old city in Kashgar, so movingly documented by Glenn Mott, is a loss that can never be replaced.

On a much, much smaller scale, moving the Wujiang Lu vendors from the street into an air conditioned mall strikes me as a blow to Shanghai's vibrancy going forward. After all, it's not like the place was a dump. Why not tighten up inspections, make cosmetic renovations, and let the place live on better than ever (kind of like what happened a few years ago on Wangfujing)?

Maybe we'll just have to give the new digs a chance...

~Steve

PS: 2008--Zaragoza, Spain; 2006--Royal Flora Ratchaphruek, Thailand; 2005--Aichi, Japan.

PPS: That's Haibao, the mascot for this year's Expo.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Then And Now: The 1980s

From our first date at the Bishop Ahr High School senior prom to Saturday night's "Awesome 80s" fundraiser for our parish school, there has been one constant...Desi's hair! Oh, and our love for one another!

我爱你!

~Steve

Monday, April 26, 2010

Leaving No Stone Unturned

Well, almost...

In our household, there is a natural division of labor. Steve's got his tasks, I've got mine, and the rest we share. For the most part, things run smoothly. All our ducks nicely in a row.

So it came as a bit of a shock to me the other morning when I got a call from Steve as I dropped Julie off at school. You see, he had just dropped Z off. (Division of labor at its finest!) It went something like this...

Steve: Uh, Des. I'm on Georgia Avenue and I just got pulled over...Something about our license plates being expired...

Me: What? Are you sure?

Steve: I gave him the registration (which said 9/2009), but he said he'd run it through and check it out.

Me: Hmm. OK, call me back and let me know what he says.

You can imagine that there were a few choice thoughts going through my head at that point, especially since I was the one "in charge" of making sure all of our US affairs were in order while we lived abroad. During that time period, and since we returned home, things had been seamless. No issues at all. Until those red and blue lights started a-flashin', that is.

Next round of thoughts...How about the car I'm driving? Am I expired, too? And poor Steve, sitting on Georgia Avenue (one of the busiest roads in Maryland) with all those school parents undoubtedly going by (and probably having a bit of a chuckle seeing the Balla minivan outside the law!).

Now what? How "expired" are they? Will Steve be hauled off in cuffs? Will the van be impounded? Just how much cash will we be out after the dust clears?

The phone rings:

Steve: OK. They expired in September.

Me: Wow!

Steve: The officer said that since they're over six months expired, he can take the tags and impound the car, but given the circumstances he'll give me a $60 ticket, but we need to take care of it right away.

Me: Phew. Sorry.

In my defense, I never received that brown re-registration envelope in our "forwarded" mail. That said, I know it was my responsibility to make sure those stickers were up to date. (But who looks at those stickers anyway?)

Actually, I know exactly who.

Rest assured the temporary tag is hanging in the window. Out $60, but no more, we re-registered online. So far as we can tell, no further repercussions.

All I can say is, thank goodness it was Steve who was pulled over. (For the sake of the officer, I mean...If it was me, no doubt he would have gotten quite a song and a dance, not to mention some tears and a long story about our year in China...That I'm from New Jersey...)

By the way, the other van is good until June!

~Desi