Blog-writing music: Flёur - Волшебство
I promise I won’t inflict too much Chinese on you, but I couldn’t resist that appropriate sentence. It means “I’m extremely busy.” June 30 was the deadline for people in China to submit their order forms for Olympic tickets, and we’re going through a big crunch to get all the applications processed in time. Luckily that process doesn’t involve me directly, but there are plenty of other things going on that do. We even posted a position for my assistant.
In other news, summertime is proceeding in Beijing. It’s been hot and muggy most days, with occasional afternoon thunder storms for a little variation. In between the rain, the air quality has been…well, let’s just say it doesn’t meet my definition of “blue sky.” I’ve posted shots like this before, but this was what I saw out my window at about seven the other morning.
Yes, that vaguely orange circular thing is the sun. A half hour after I took this, it was gone, vanished into grey monotony. The simple act of breathing is sometimes a challenge.
I think I mentioned a while ago that we were the first tenants in our building. There are now quite a few more, including a company called Juto Media on our floor. The sound of drills and saws is pretty much constant every day, coming from the other floors above and below us. And there’s a little coffee shop down on the ground floor, just off the main lobby.
That’s the lobby, with the new station for the building receptionists which went in this week. They have had art shows in this massive space from time to time. And just on the far side is this:
The Café of Nut. I’ve had a couple of lattes from them which were pretty decent. They also sell sandwiches, but I’ve managed to avoid that so far. I know some of my American colleagues have eaten there, or rather bought things there and brought them back upstairs. I’d rather walk down the street a ways for my new favorite lunch: lengmian (cold noodles). There are several different styles with different names I can’t always keep straight, but the general idea is cold noodles with vegetables (usually cucumber and bean sprouts) with some kind of sauce. A big plate costs less than a dollar when I figure the exchange rate, and it really hits the spot when it’s 105° out.
We’re having Chinese lessons two evenings a week for two hours, which is pretty taxing on brains already stretched by the challenges of the work we’re doing. I’m trying to get back into the frame of mind to think linguistically again, but my old brain seems a bit slower than it was when I studied French, Spanish, or Russian. Not that I remember much of those anymore. Our teacher seems to be very good, balancing basics like grammar and pronunciation with practical things like how to tell a taxi driver to make a right turn. Chinese grammar is actually quite simple compared to the other languages I know, which is a good thing considering how challenging the pronunciation is. And the more I learn, the more I realize how challenging it must be to accurately translate between Chinese and English.
I’ve come across a popular Chinese novel that is available in English translation (non-professional, but decent) online for free: Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils by Jin Yong. Parts of it have been adapted for TV three different times, including a series running right now. I’ve read the first couple chapters, and it’s pretty interesting. You have to be kind of forgiving of the writing style. Like I said, it’s not a professional translation. So far the story is quite fascinating, kind of a historical fantasy set in ancient China.
As a further bit of craziness, I bought a membership to the World Science Fiction Convention, which is happening August 30 to September 3 in Yokohama, Japan. SF conventions are loony enough in the US – I’m sure this one will be quite an experience. I really hadn’t intended to visit Japan twice during my stint in Asia, but being so close to a WorldCon just seemed like an opportunity I shouldn’t miss. And a certain well-known author whose web site I run will be there too.
Getting ready to sleep music: Remember Shakti – The Believer