Thursday, September 25, 2014

Derek Jeter

I'm sitting here in my parents' family room, watching the Yankees and Derek Jeter, just like the old days.

But it's not my parents' family room any more. It's my mother's family room and it's the last few days of playing for the Yankees star.

And even though this room was my father's favorite spot in the house, and the place where his life ended during a Yankees game in 2010, his memory is fainter after four years.

Before he died, I spent many hours in this room with my father watching the Yankees. "Love that Jeter," he would say, as we would watch his quirks, his tics, his Mona Lisa smile when he would get on base. I think what my father liked about Jeter were the same kind of characteristics he aimed for himself. "He keeps his emotions in check," the sportscasters said of him.

And now Jeter has played his last game in Yankees Stadium, and he ended with a Jeter classic: a walk-off base hit to win to the game. I watched the beginning of the game with some of my oldest friends in Athens' hipster brew pub, and watched the last two innings with my mother, both of us sniffling and laughing at the same time.

I wanted to say more about this, but for once in my life, the words just aren't there.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Man Borrows Money, Hides in Pig Farm

I mean, how can I not love China Daily for stories like these:

* "Man borrows money, hides in pig farm" is the headline from Chongqing. It's not the Daily News' "Headless Body in Topless Bar," which is undeniably the best headline of all time, but this tells a story that is so China. A man apparently borrowed 160,000 yuan, or about $26,000, from a friend for a "big business," the story states. "Instead of setting up his business, he hid in a pig farm until he could no longer stand the smell," the story states in that whole China Daily deadpan way. Finally, he went home and returned the money, but there was no further information on the pig farm.

* Parents barred from cleaning college dorms" was another one that caught my attention. The parents were "barred," the story says, by the college using "red lines to separate the parents from their children," who had to do the cleaning themselves.

* "86-year-old runaway cannot make ends meet" tells the story of a villager who has run away from home 20 times because he is unhappy with the 900 rmb ($147) monthly allowance he gets from his two sons and daughter. "Pan Guojun dislikes homemade food and often dines in restaurants," explains the story, which doesn't help him make ends meet. The story does not explain just how running away would solve that problem.

There are other oddities and sad events: a 14-year-old boy who committed suicide after his school principal slapped him; villagers who captured 1,600 wild geckos, and a migrant worker who started a fire after she had a bad dream. She lit a candle, fell asleep, and burned the house down, says China Daily.

And then, of course, my horoscope. Today's wasn't as disappointed in me as Aquarius, but it still clearly wanted me on the straight and narrow: "Keep a sensible balance between work and family life in order to achieve a happier and healthier environment," it says. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Cold Remedy

This week brought me a nasty head cold, probably from air on the plane back from Hubei. I had sneezing fits all day Tuesday and felt miserable, but I decided to try hiking on Wednesday anyway, and made my way to Shunyi to meet up with the group and go to a beautiful place near Zhangjiakou's Great Wall. When people tell me they're tired of visiting the Great Wall, I know that they've only been to the tourist spots of Badaling and Mutianyu. If they saw these places, they'd change their tune.

I've actually been warned not to be too public about these spots. It's not that no one knows they're there, but that at the moment, it's peaceful. Under sunny blue skies, scrambling over ancient building stones turned out to be the best cold remedy I could imagine.

Here are a few shots from the hike.