November 2005

There are a few holidays I like to keep celebrating even though we are far from the US - Halloween, Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. We certainly have our own customs when it comes to exactly how we celebrate. We don’t strictly adhere to traditions in a religious sense, though we still like to convey the overall theme, filtered through our unique blend of spirituality.

There are plenty of places to choose from to celebrate the holidays, mostly hotels catering to foreign guests. Thanksgiving is the one holiday that seems to be abnormally represented with many restaurants offering their own feasts. This year we were thinking of forgoing the traditional turkey dinner and join some friends at a Chinese restaurant where half the money would get you twice the feast but the kids wouldn’t hear of it. They would not be denied one of their few American holidays so, turkey it was.

One huge difference in the way Thanksgiving is celebrated by the expat community in Beijing is probably only one tenth of the celebrants are actually Americans. People from all nationalities happily join in the feast, no doubt the reason why nearly every restaurant offering turkey dinners sells out well in advance. Most countries have some form of Thanksgiving but the whole turkey dinner thing seems very American to me. That is certainly not the case here!

I saw a few people complaining in a forum that celebrating Thanksgiving in the US is evil, as to do so is to condone the racial genocide perpetrated against the natives at the time. To them, I would say, “You really don’t get it.” If there is any day to put aside hatred based on ancestral sins or slights, I would say this is the day. It was wonderful for me to hear the list of things my kids were thankful for, once I got them started. It is much more natural for them to list the things they want or the things they don’t like than to contemplate the things for which they should be grateful. Once they got started though, they had a lot of fun with it. (Hint, hint to you people mentioned above who take yourself far to seriously.) Thanksgiving is certainly not an American thing. It is part of being a decent human being. Reddit Slashdot Digg Facebook Technorati Google StumbleUpon Furl Yahoo Ask Mister Wong China Newsvine Simpy Spurl Wink Rawsugar Squidoo Fark

IMG:George Bush in China

Usually I only have to endure macro indignities at the hands of - things like people eyeballing me suspiciously on the street, the occasional you-ought-to-be-ashamed-of-yourself lecture or, worse yet, flag-waving patriotic expatriate American apologists. Of course, if someone hates me, the person, for my country’s policies, even if I were an avid W supporter, their opinion wouldn’t count for much, unless I somehow happened to be wearing a t-shirt or ball cap with the American flag emblazoned upon it or some other overtly pro-American attention-getter at the time, which, given the penchant for Bush supporters to wave flags in everyone’s faces, might render such behavior more understandable.

I am generally quite vocal in my denunciation of politicians, pretty much worldwide, and my opinion is that the only option is for us all to form our own private communities, create our own alternative economy and essentially pull ourselves off the grid while the big bloated governments run themselves to the ground as the reality of dwindling tax revenues sinks in. (I’m working on it!) All those who support the Welfare State, feel free to hang on to the end. So, I harbor no ill will personally toward Bush, despite his apocalyptic leanings, for playing out his role on the world stage. I just do my best to stay out of his way. That’s part of the reason I live in China. Well, and today he managed to cause me quite a few minor inconveniences.

It all started when I rode my bike up the usual street to get the and found my way cut off by a bunch of cops. I saw a few resourceful people acting on my first impulse, which was to try to sneak in through a side lot. No luck. When I asked a group of six cops if they could just let me slip around the corner and mind my own business, I wasn’t surprised when they refused. So, I went around the big block and came up on the front entrance of the building, only to be stopped and asked to show my ID card to get in. I got the card when I first started working here but had never used it once. Looking at the long lines of people trying to get in who couldn’t I was glad I had it on me. Upstairs to the 25th floor to look down out the window at the St. Regis Hotel and I could certainly understand the precautions - a perfect line of sight.

There were around 20 black cars filled the lot, ranging from big beefy police cars to souped-up SUVs and, of course, a stretch limo. I was quite impressed with the sheer scope of how many people it took to protect that one man on a short trip, to say nothing of how many others were involved in organizing it. Just think of Air Farce One and the expense of flying here. For a moment, I got a sense of the answer to the usually rhetorical question, “Who the hell does he think he is?” There was a flurry of activity near the door, a bunch of people in black poured out the front door and then the whole cavalcade took off. If someone in my building had been up to nefarious activity, they would have been hard pressed to find an opportune moment.

When I came downstairs, my bike wasn’t in the temporary parking spot any more and it took me about 10 minutes to find it. Thanks, George! Reddit Slashdot Digg Facebook Technorati Google StumbleUpon Furl Yahoo Ask Mister Wong China Newsvine Simpy Spurl Wink Rawsugar Squidoo Fark

This is one of the most exciting developments in the renewable energy sector I have encountered yet. The is fully functioning hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicle. Best of all, we don’t have to wait twenty years. There is already a working prototype and you should be seeing these beauties on the street in the near future. Well, realistically speaking, the price tag may be prohibitively high to begin with but it is just a matter of time until it becomes the norm for passenger cars as well.

The env was designed by in the UK. Design Director Nick Talbot says, “On the one hand, it expresses a Utopian future vision of ‘clean power anywhere’ and on the other, it’s an exciting, hard-edged bike and fun to ride.”

At the core of the env lies, appropriately enough, “The Core” - one of the most advanced PEM fuel cell stack technologies available in the world today with a class-leading power to volume performance in excess of 2.5kW per liter. Developed by , I’d say intelligent investors will want to take a close look at this revlolutionary company that seeks to usher in the hydrogen economy. Reddit Slashdot Digg Facebook Technorati Google StumbleUpon Furl Yahoo Ask Mister Wong China Newsvine Simpy Spurl Wink Rawsugar Squidoo Fark