About

I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 30 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

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It's probably unnecessary to point out that while Labrador Retrievers possess a cheery and endearing temperament, they are not Mensa candidates in the kingdom of canines.

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Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 9/23/2017

Totals
Posts - 2453
Comments - 2558
Hits - 1,984,654

Averages
Entries/day - 0.47
Comments/entry - 1.04
Hits/day - 382

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 11:04 PM Pacific


  07:07 PM

Here we are in Beijing. It's an epic journey -- 10 hours from Seattle to Tokyo, an hour layover, 4 hours to Beijing. As I have been known to say in the past, truly we live in a miraculous age, given that we covered half the globe in that time.

Basically we lost Saturday. We left Seattle at 2:30 on Friday afternoon, and by the time we got "home" from the airport, it was midnight Saturday. And we're still trying to wrap our minds around the idea that we'll leave here next Monday and arrive home Monday morning.

Not much to report yet. The airport looks pretty much like every other airport, with perhaps a slightly higher than normal number of people fulfilling some sorts of desultory roles. We went through a Ministry of Health checkpoint, where the entire drill consisted of us handing them the questionnaires we'd filled out on the plane about having coughs or "snivels." We (well, I) had wondered about customs and how carefully they would look at our stuff. There was not much to worry about other than that we had brought Bob a suitcase full of books, and as I say, I wondered. When we posed this question to him in email beforehand, he'd said that if we wanted the customs guys to look at anything, we'd have to wake them up first. And so it proved.

As with other airports, the place is plastered with advertisements for all manner of products. For example, one prominent set of ads was for MasterCharge. I noted to Sarah that the Chinese seem to have gotten the hang of commericalism again. Oh, they'd just had a brief interruption in an otherwise long history of business, was her reply. True. I stopped into the men's room and the attendant handed me a wad of Kleenex as a towel, followed immediately by the international gesture for "tip, please." No money, I said, which was true. Cheapskate foreigner, I imagined him thinking.

At home, we presented Bob with his suitcase-o-books, which was fun. The man is an astonishingly eclectic reader, and given the uncertain supply of English-language books, he's happy to get practically anything you bring him, it seems. We then chatted a bit about the state of China these days. I asked him about how authoritarian it is, and he said that although it might be different in rural areas, people in cities are largely free to do what they want. Presumably this excludes certain sensitive activities, but he said that for example people can travel as they like. Then again, censorship is a given. He told us that this week the NYTimes is blocked because of a series published recently on China. Blogspot, as predicted, is blocked. Bob notes that it's not particularly hard to use a cloaking site, though. Anyway, it will be very interesting to talk to him over the week and get a sense of what this amazing place is like today.

This morning we're having a slow start. We're traveling with a seven-year-old, who was up bright and early at 5:00 or thereabouts. Sarah and I are suffering some jet lag, some dehydration (travelling makes it hard for me, anyway, to keep drinking fluids), and some caffeine withdrawal. We're pulling it together now, though, around 9:30am. The plan today is to have a small outing. Also, coffee.

One of the first orders of business this morning, tho, is to sort out the technology. Bob has ADSL, and he set up a connection for me. Slick, actually. Then there's the voltage thing. China is on 240V. I had made sure before I left that my laptop charger was dual-voltage, and I'd bought a 240V-compatible battery charger. It is my hope to take many, many pictures. Before I left, I also bought one of those packages of plug adapters for world travel. Ha. One of the guidebooks had said that the situation is not completely consistent in China, that they use several different types of plugs. Well, indeed. In this apartment alone I've found three different plugs. In fact, Bob's powerstrip for the computer has one row for one type of plug and another for a different type. One of those things that I suppose you just get used to when you're here.

Ok, time for coffee, I hope.

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