Archive for October, 2011

Fishing in the Street

There is not much to report on in terms of my work at the university. China’s national holiday week has meant that the university is quiet since many students have gone home. I have taken advantage of this week to get the surveys perfected and ready for use and to explore the city a little more. It really is an interesting place to be. Eight to ten million people and their subway/metro has just opened their first line of four this past month. Traveling by subway is a real novelty for most of Xi’an. The public bus system is still the primary means of transport for most. The bus is very inexpensive at 16 – 33cents a ride. Folks in the subway have to use a mechanized self serve ticket purchasing system. Which still means long lines. There are many young people dressed in red vests helping to acquaint the travels with the ins and outs of the metro. Early in the week I jumped onto the metro and headed downtown to see the bell tower and drum tower.

One morning I was walking to the bus stop to catch the bus to the university. In the middle of the intersection just near to my apartment a scooter was stopped and a number of cars were honking. It was obvious that the scooter driver intended cutting across the street. Behind the scooter in the intersection was a fish about a foot and half flopping in the street. At this point I need to share a little more information about car and road culture. There are cars, trucks (both with 4 and 3 wheel types), public buses, regular bicycles, 3 wheeled bikes with a trailer attached for cargo. Most vehicles are used to their capacities since vehicles, gas, tolls and other related costs are expensive. It is not uncommon to see more than the Canadian safe limit of two people on a bike, scooter, etc… Most vehicles are also used to carry bags and boxes. Many times more than what would be safe driving on the chaotic roads.

Well, back to the scooter and the fish in the middle of the intersection. This gentleman had bags and boxes piled up on his scooter. In two of the plastic shopping bags he had filled with fish and tied at the top. One lucky or strong fish had escaped its bag landing on the street. The driver of the scooter or the fisher of fish from the street, grabbed the escapee, packed it in the bag, repiled the scooter, thanked a pedestrian who helped balance his machine so it would not fall over under its weight while chasing his fish and sped away.

Have a great Thanksgiving this weekend!!


Water Conservation on Campus

Got my haircut the other day. I had to go to a hair stylist since I was not confident in a men’s barber to cut my hair since the number of men that I have seen with long hair is approaching the limit of zero. The hair salon it was. Turns out the place is quite a bit fancier than the places that I usually get my hair cut. After getting a my hair washed and a serious scalp scrubbing I was ushered into a chair and handed a magazine of women’s hair styles to look through in order to find the style that I preferred. It was with the help of my very dear friend Wu Yu Cui, who brought me to get my hair cut, that I was able to get across to the hair stylist that I just wanted a basic shorter cut of my present hair style, we agreed on a suitable length based on a photo of a women’s hair style that I was sure I did not want have. I kept a close watch on where the hair cut was going. When the hair dresser was finished it was perfect amazing that hair dressers just know. The whole ordeal cost me less than $5 CAD.

Purchased a camera yesterday. So expect to see some pictures in the near future, once I figure out how to get them into wordpress, that is. Thank you for your patience and reading my blog without pictures to this point.

If life was not complex enough, this blog illuminates the many ways humans can become more confounding. I didn’t believe it myself but it is true. In October 2010, Shaanxi Normal University tested female stand up urinals. A little investigation reveals that the university wanted women to stand up to urinate to save water. Urinals are supposed to require less water than regular school toilets.

An incredible request to change the social and biological habits of women at the university in order to save water. But rest assured that the success of this pilot project is difficult to determine since, I was told, that the restroom that holds these new urinals does not regularly stock the paper funnels, the essential utensils for female stand up urination. Did they run out of the funnels? Or was there an silent movement of non-cooperation within the staff? In the end, a few questions remain. Paper or plastic? No, seriously, this project is saving water but will use more paper. And the more important question: What are men on campus being asked to do in the quest to save water?