Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Day China Stood Still

I recently read an article that described the Chinese people as being emotionally non-expressive and non-aggressive by nature; however, courageous and fearless in the face of adversity.

I witnessed this firsthand last week as the People’s Republic began a three day period of mourning one week following the worst natural disaster their country has seen since the last devastating earthquake of 1976. For the past couple of weeks I have been in Beijing and was moved by both the heroic rescue response to the devastation in Sichuan as well as the dignity and solidarity of the Chinese people in the aftermath of tragedy.

I was traveling through the Olympic Village area last Monday on day one of the three day mourning period. The Government called for all of China to stop and observe a three minute period of silence at 2:28 pm, the time that the first shockwave was felt one-week prior. All vehicles and people were to stop and remain silent. The exception was trucks and busses were to sound their horns. That is exactly what happened. I was in a city of 17 million people, on an extremely busy thoroughfare and everyone stopped dead in their tracks at the stroke of 2:28 pm. It was truly moving and humbling to witness this tribute. I have a hard time imaging such solidarity in the U.S.

Later that evening as I strolled around the area of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, we witnessed spontaneous demonstrations of solidarity as large groups of people marched in the streets behind their National flag shouting CHINA in unison. This was the courageousness that I read about as the people seemed to be shouting in the face of nature’s fury: We are strong and will not be broken!

On the last day of three-day observance, we walked around the Houhai Lake district of the Hutong, the heart of Beijing’s nightlife. Instead of loud music coming out of every restaurant and bar, there was reverent quiet with candles lit on the sidewalks, many of which were arranged in the numbers 5-12-08, the day of the earthquake. No public entertainment or music was played for those three days. No television station aired anything but coverage of the quake. Everything else continued as normal. The City carried on its usual buzz of activity, only in a quieter, more reverent manner. It was truly a wonder to witness.

The Chinese media covered only stories of hope and strength featuring the valiant individuals that were risking or had risked their own safety to rescue others trapped in the Sichuan rubble and devastation. There were no stories of how the local or national response was bungled or how people were screaming at the lack of help they were receiving. This was also refreshing to someone that witnessed the aftermath of Katrina and the swirl of negativity fed by the vulturous media in this country. That type of hopelessness and helplessness doesn’t play well in a country like China that stands strong and united in the face of adversity. I think many in this country could learn a lot from the Chinese people were they to be open enough to do so. There really is strength in numbers, as long as people operate as one.

I met people that were from the areas worst hit and had family there. I expressed my sympathy to them and they graciously expressed appreciation for my sentiment but showed no obvious signs of grief and distress. That type of emotion was either expressed privately or put off until after the crisis period was over. Their attention seemed only toward moving forward and helping the living get back on their feet. The strength and positive attitudes from the people that I met will stay with me for the rest of my life. I truly hope I can visit their country again. They are truly a great nation of people.

Too Good to be True?

I certainly hope not. Got this video and it brightened my day. Imagine the impact this could have on our world.

video

Monday, May 12, 2008

China Bound

I'm leaving for China tomorrow. And, if traveling in a plane for 14 hours, bound for a country of 1.5 billion people that don't speak English isn't stressful enough, there's earthquake devastation to deal with. Of all the places to choose from, we picked the Sichuan Province to visit. Well, what the hell. We didn't want to be bored. Who knows what we will be encountering. There should be plenty of pictures and stories from this trip. Back in a couple of weeks.

Peace


Friday, May 9, 2008

TGIFFF Let's Party!!!!!

Time to BLAST OFF another wild and crazy weekend!!!





Just remember to pace yourself. Your friends do not want to drag you out of situations like this:






And guys please, as the night wears on, remember to check yourself carefully after each visit to the men's room.






For God sakes, be mindful of the law when out partying. Although you may seem invisible when drunk, you are not. Police are always right around the corner.






Whenever possible, take along a designated driver






Designated drivers will help avoid situations like this






or this...





Also, remember alcohol impairs judgment. That hot chick you took home from the bar may not be as appealing to you when you wake up the next morning.






In some circumstances, severe impairment may warrant just staying put and sleeping it off. After all, tomorrow is a new day.









And finally, be respectful of others at all times. Don't be a drunk fool and provoke conflict. There are plenty of folks out there that would just as soon whip your ass as look at you.






So,have a great weekend! Party down but, for goodness sake, be safe.

Peace

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Countdown

It's beginning to sink in. Six Days to go before heading to the other side of Planet Earth, destination Beijing. Every day from here will bring more last minute preparation and anticipation. After a fourteen hour non-stop flight and a twelve hour time loss, I'll be stepping out into a country totally unfamiliar to the average Westerner..... or, maybe not.

Based on these pics from the Beijing airport, looks like The People's Republic is making great strides toward cultural plurality in preparation for the Olympic invasion. I guess they found out that foreigners are serious about their basic creature comforts.

For those seeking to relieve themselves, there are now choices according to one's method of delivery:




If neither flexible, nor adventurous, have a seat!




Or, cop a squat!





Those with doubts about familiar culinary choices can rest easy as well. These are some of the first sights seen upon arrival to the airport:






If I see an Applebees there I'm going to turn around and come home.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Further Freaky Food Foto Friday

In keeping with my Friday Foto theme, here are some more creative food shots for your artistic appetite! Eat well, live well, and treat yourself to the First Friday Art Walk Tonight!!!!!!!!!










Thursday, May 1, 2008

Progress Report on My Conversion to Conservatism

Man, I’ve been learning a lot reading these, whatcha call conservative political blogs lately. I've been learning what’s right and what’s wrong and what a good American is supposed to believe. I must confess, there are still a few things that I get hung up on but I’m sure that’s just me. I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed by any means. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

It’s ok for politicians to be affiliated with religions that have cult-like roots, bizarre separatist rituals, a record of institutional racism, and/or systematic protocols to cover up sexual abuse;

However…..

It’s not ok for politicians to have a church pastor that dares to speak out about the U.S. Government’s foreign and domestic policies, or it's record on human rights. That is just wrong because it is hateful and divisive.

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It’s ok to use the church pulpit to speak out against the evils of homosexuality, the Nation of Islam, feminism, and liberalism in general. The Bible tells us it’s ok to hate “sin”;

However….

It’s not ok “that a minister would use the sacred Christian pulpit to push his politically driven agenda and use rhetorical techniques to whip up negative and destructive emotions in his congregation” (sacred words of Janice Shaw Crouse not mine). God forbid this ever happens!

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Its ok to use acceptable methods of supporting U.S. troops such as displaying yellow ribbon magnets on the backs of SUVs and voting for candidates that support the war effort.

However……

It’s not ok to support our troops by advocating, promoting, or fighting for peace in any organized fashion. Such futile endeavors demoralize our soldiers and annoy those that would otherwise steer our nation in an unobstructed path toward economic superiority.

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It’s ok to advocate for tougher immigration laws to keep those undesirable Latin American aliens out of our country.

However……

It’s not ok to criticize the economic policies, consumerist principles, and dependence on cheap labor that created the opportunities for immigrants in the first place.

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It’s ok to be extremely skeptical of any scientific research that would support the existence of global warming and to scoff at those that believe the future of our planet is in jeopardy. Such belief is simply reactionary and alarmist and supports a subversive agenda.

However……

It’s not ok to criticize the EPA or any government sanctioned scientific body that would have the where-with-all or political motivation to falsify any research that might threaten this country’s economic agenda. They are simply the best and most independent group of scientific minds in the world. Just ask them.

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Ok, that’s enough for one day. I’m sorry if I got any of this wrong. I’m still learning all these conservative principles so please cut me some slack. I’ve been told that I can learn even more, at a quicker pace, if I tune in to AM radio stations owned by Clear Channel Communications. I think I’ll try that. Maybe then some of these universal truths can sink in better. I hear they've got some damn fine radios for cheap over at the Wal Mart. I’m there. Later,

Peace, er… War I mean,

Phil

Tornado Damage in Driver

I have the distinction of growing up in a town that virtually no one has ever heard of. Even many folks born and raised in surrounding areas such as Norfolk, Portsmouth, or Hampton are likely never to have heard of it. Imagine my surprise when I read this in the R-T-D following the storms that devastated Suffolk this week. After 100 plus years of anonymity, the little village of Driver gets news coverage for being blown off the map!

Driver is one of those sleepy little crossroads that once functioned as a supply and social hub for the farmers that made up the largest part of the population in Nansemond County. Nansemend County no longer exists, having been swallowed up by the City of Suffolk in the 70s. As a child, I grew up accompanying my grandfather on his daily visits to Driver where he was one of the better known farmers in the area. He was a avid participant in the political affairs of the town, with daily meetings held in the feed and grain store run by his good friend Captain Jack. Then it was on to Mr. Arthur's General Store where the Post Office was located. Mr. Arthur was the town's Postmaster, Grocer, and one of the principle landowners in the township. The store had one of those old glass displays containing their entire selection of assorted candy and treats and if I would stare through the glass long, and longingly enough, I would be granted my choice of the day. Then, if my grandfather would be caught in another extended conversation, I would go across the street to the Driver Variety Store to travel the aisles of old shellaced wooden shelves filled with dusty odds and ends that no one ever bought. Most of their inventory was either outdated or useless, but fun to look at nonetheless. The store was run by Mrs. Birchard, an old woman of part Native American descent, who appeared to me to be at least 120 years old. She sat around an old pot bellied stove with a shawl around her and never had to move because no one ever bought anything. It is that same old store that was completely demolished this week by the tornado.

As all of my family from those parts have either died or moved away, I don't get the chance to visit anymore. With the recent storm however, I feel the need to go back there just to see if anything is left of the boyhood memories I am now struck with. Funny how we never really realize the importance of things until they are gone.