Putting the "hospital" in hospitality

This will be a quickie since I need to get off of the Internet and back into China.

Today's been one distraction after another, mainly because of Iran. I'm happy to see technology such as Twitter empowering the demonstrators. It isn't as good as it could be for them, however, because Twitter isn't designed to protect their anonymity, and it's a centralized service that can be easily blocked (if you're the Iranian government) or unplugged (if the same thing were to happen in the US). What would be better is an anonymous P2P network run by the protesters, themselves. Of course, if you are on-the-go, it's much more difficult to have this kind of luxury, and a cell phone is what most people are likely to have and know how to use ahead of time. Perhaps in the coming generations, as our hand-held devices become more ubiquitous and capable, it will be possible to shoot a video with your cell phone/PDA and share it without the service provider or government being able to identify you as the source. Currently, we see videos of police brutality on YouTube from onlookers, but those people likely forget that if it were in a more abusive country, the cops might be able to easily trace the upload and dole out some extra brutality later...

And now, not to trivialize any of the above, I have a few quick and off-the-cuff thoughts from living in China:
  • Fermented mango snacks - blah! What was I thinking? "Hey, those fermented paw-paw slices were good, why not give these a shot?" is what I thought. Damn these are nasty due to their odd texture and sub-par flavor.
  • On the other hand, I've eaten almost every part of every common animal by now, whether I know it or not. The best I had so far was the dry, smoked slices of kidney from... some animal I forgot.
  • It's a shame that most of the time the options for drinking are limited to either light beer (at least the Snow brand has some flavor) or fucking baijiu. To date, I have tasted one brand of baijiu that wasn't just like paint thinner. It was more of a paint thinner with an aromatic, pleasantly mild and sweet aftertaste. Certainly, "an acquired taste."
  • Water isn't an option most of the time, and it would be a crapshoot anyhow. If you got plain tap water, I guarantee you'd be shooting crap, actually.
  • Regarding alcohol, hangovers are particularly nasty in Harbin because the sun is up at like 4 in the morning, and with it come the people who ride their giant tricycles around, banging on buckets. You think I'm kidding, but I have yet to determine what the hell they are doing - my best guess is they want to feel and act like a scooter with an audible horn. Many of them also appear to salvage scrap metal or other dirty, smelly, diseased things from the heaps of trash lying about.
  • My diet of mainly meat and alcohol will take off whatever additional longevity I gained while eating well in Japan. I try to find good vegetable dishes when I can, but then the hospitable Chinese inevitably invite me to eat and drink with them, which is hard to turn down. The Harbiners are fierce drinkers, let me say. Keeping pace is a challenge.
  • I need to wash my hands more often; it's too bad soap (much like toilet paper) is non-existant in public facilities. Maybe someone would steal it? The consequence of this is that you carry TP with you or... get caught up shit creek without a paddle.
  • On that note: the toilets are apparently not designed for flushing toilet paper. I'm no sanitary engineer, but it would seem to me like you'd have to go out of your way to make a toilet that couldn't do both. So your used TP goes into a little trash bin in the corner of the toilet stall.
Just some observations I had. Looking back, many of them seem negative, but that's not really the case... just "different."

Time for dinner! A friend has asked me to join him for... a beer, and some BBQ.

Here we go again. At least I don't smoke.


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