Bicycles, Fiddles, & the Life

Let’s see, since creating the wondrous Ji’nan video things have fallen silent. I contracted a cold after that thorough week and have yet to fully recover. Dan and I have settled deeper into our routine and lifestyle.

We’re working diligently on producing another short film for those of you following the podcast. We deeply apologize for the lag time, however, as our quality increases, so does the planning, shooting, and production work. Thank you for your patience & enthusiasm.

Every day I enjoy the new valencies of the great firewall of China and most recently used this in order to enjoy The President on Leno. Enjoyable. Yes. However, other opportunities include eagerly introducing my students to wikipedia as well as news articles from the BBC, LA & NY times, Science News, & the Economist as well as a host of individuals to the various scenes I carry on this site.

About a week ago Dan and I found a proper massage parlor which helped to work the kinks out of life, just enough to get by until the next time we show up. I think the woman who worked me over used only her elbow, thumb, and the heel of her hand. Tears flowed freely as I faced downward, teeth clinched and invisible to all but the dust upon the floor (in order to save face of course). After I felt great!

Yesterday we hit up the FREE Inner Mongolia Museum where we took a couple photos and videos. The highlight was a massive dinosaur in the middle of the hall standing more than two stories tall. I’m positive it was a brachi-a-sarus-rex – the meanest of all herbivores. Other highlights are shown in photo form to the right.

Earlier this week we took a journey down the street with one of our new good friends, Arena (a Chinese teacher who does her best to show us the ropes and catch us up, usually she catches my class room falls too.) We successfully avoided buying from the self-admitted bike thief and purchased two brand new, bona-fied 200 yuan bicycles (your basic $40 Target bike) of which have been invaluable to our sanity and daily satisfaction levels. We even took a short trip North and essentially out of the city to eat lunch and see the city.

In conjunction to our big bicycle purchase, I woke up two days ago with a nack. Yeah, “the Nack.” Except I’ve got very little to take apart out here. In fact I can’t even find a piece of wood to saw in half, let alone a spare blender to take apart – although every day this computer gets a bit closer as the exclusive piece of ‘machinery’ around. Hmmmm.. maybe the refrigerator first… yes. Fortunately during a solo city bicycle recon trip I managed to work in on Sunday I have identified the local ‘junk yard’/‘used furniture & things shop where I anticipate spending more time. – I digress, I woke up with a nack. This nack was for chunes (Tunes). My Uke currently under duress with a broken string (soon to be fixed by changed out guitar strings from Dan (fingers crossed)), I searched my mind long and hard for my next project feasible without a compound miter saw and set my sites straight. I spent time online doing pre-purchase-requisites and with my note book full of useless information pertaining to acquisition, I turned to Dan and asked permission. “Dan,” I said, “I feel I must include you in my latest intention, so that you may reasonable protest as my cohabitation partner.” Dan, paused what he was doing, tilted his head slightly to his left, my right, squinted his eyes, and paused as if to intimidate the next sentence out of my soul. Fortunately I’ve dealt with the dark powers of Dan’s force and successfully deflected. I patiently waited for his head to right it’s self and the continued. “I’m going to.. I would like to, with your permission, purchase and learn to play the fiddle… yes, I’d like to do that,” I concluded. Dan replaced his jaw to reflect acknowledgement of the situation and situated himself to process the multitude of predictable possible outcomes regarding this new information. I feared my own failed calculations and then confirmed that there were none. Dan cautiously replied “okay, my only caveat is that you do it Today.”

I packed my wallet and we walked directly to the music store where I purchased the only violin they had on the shelf, a full sized, 4/4, Chinese made, introductory violin which even the store curator was fearful of, for 600 yuan. about $90, less than my Trombone cost 7 years ago. I felt good about my purchase. If this sucker left me in the dumps I would have no problem leaving it with a local kid to torture his parents with as my contribution to the PRC.

Less than 24 hours later, after about a 4 hour tuning session, Dan walked into my room, stopped me, shook my hand and said “Sir, you’ve just made the first pleasant noise on that thing since buying it less than 24 hours ago. Congratulations.” Where upon he promptly turned around and walked out the door, closing it behind him.

I’m learning good and every time I look at it I simile thinking about the racket I make for the neighbors. I say – good on ya.