One Year into Piano

I started piano about a year ago now, probably a little over, but I am not counting too closely. I have a beautiful Roland piano in white (not my first choice, black was sold out but now that I have had it for so long, I can’t imagine it being any other color).

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Colds in Post-COVID China

I am sick writing this. I got a cold, from my SO who also had a cold earlier this week. We’ve been sick with colds (I suspect that they are the dreaded Air Conditioner Colds, a popular theory that if you run your AC at night you will get sick) precisely twice since lockdown ended here in China.

There is a very real threat of being sick and being in public now. When I went to pick up some DayQuil (or the equivalent) at the pharmacy I had to convince the pharmacist that we had not been to any high risk areas (Bejing, Urumqi, and Dalian) so she would hand over the medicine without calling the police.

Last week I kept my hat on going through a temperature sensor and the sensor detected a heat anomaly on my head, three guards came rushing in armed with thermometer guns which was ridiculous at the time, trying to figure out where the anomaly came from, a few in the group that walked in were wearing hats so we were held back to figure out which of us hat wearers had a fever. None of us did.

If you are detected for a having a fever for any reason, you will be taken to quarantine, no questions asked. When I was sick the first time I stayed home until I was sure the fever had passed, there are temperature checkpoints at every given place, especially for transit, and so I wasn’t going to risk it. Temperature, I guess is the only indicator of the virus that we care about, and I didn’t even dare see the doctor, as your temperature is taken at the door to the hospital. I waited until it was gone.

I remember having a conversation when I had my first cold in June with one of my managers. That I didn’t want to leave the house even if I had a cough because I didn’t want to get caught by the police for exhibiting symptoms of the virus. “I will WFH until I am 100%” I had said “I don’t want to take the risk of being sick in public.”

Yesterday, at around 2:30 at work I started getting a sore throat and had to start making contingency plans. If I had a fever, I couldn’t exit the building and re-enter (temperature sensors at the door), or take the subway (temperature sensors at the turnstiles) for fear of getting sent to a mandated quarantine.

I called a car instead, and sat in traffic for well over an hour to avoid detection. Wondering why this was the new normal, or a valid concern. $20 fine for being sick in public, a cheaper fine to pay than being caught with a fever at a temperature detection point.

“I know, when I go out I try not to cough,” My SO said to me after he returned from the pharmacy “I don’t want to start trouble, or get reported.”

Don’t you think it’s strange that we have to think of these things?” I asked

I guess maybe it’s as strange as having to go to work sick in the first place.

Trip Report: Dunhuang

An oasis in the desert, the birthplace of Buddhism in China

Our Trip to Dunhuang was in fact, the highlight of our short visit out west. 100F in the day, but cool at night, we dined on dates and other local foods while experiencing all that the desert had to offer

Escaping Qinghai was a feat in itself, arriving at the airport on our way to Dunhuang (a desert city only 90 minutes north of Xining) our passport numbers were wrong and the woman refused to correct them.

Upon landing, we were yanked off the plane early, as the only two foreigners, or as they politely put it “passport holders” on the plane we had to have special screening.

They were kind enough to acknowledge our test results after 20 minutes.

Our hotel was nothing short of gorgeous, and less than a mile away from the Crescent Moon Lake, after the difficult week in Qinghai it was nice to check into a hotel with a promise of air conditioning, a working shower, and a concierge who spoke English.

Our first day we spent eating traditional foods of the region, dates, dumplings, and a rose tea that would follow us around for the next few days.

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Trip Report: Qinghai

“You’ve come at a bad time, actually.”

These were the first words I heard off the plane from my coworker who was living in the small capitol city of Xining that had, for the past month and a half, encouraged me to come out to the gorgeous province of Qinghai in order to view the Tibetan Plateau in it’s summer glory.

Day 1: Xining

When we disembarked in the windy capitol of Xining after a long flight out of Shanghai, my coworker greeted us with a smile and as we stepped away from the sliding glass doors he explained to me in simple terms that we were unwanted due to our passport.

The driver had an American the week before, the American was refused from all hotels because of the political kerfuffle in Chengdu, and he wasn’t sure if we would be able to stay in hotels either.

We were led away by a frantic Chinese man (my coworker’s brother in law) and four of us (three foreigners and one Chinese) stuffed ourselves into a small taxi as I was patiently explained precisely nothing about my trip and fear began to gnaw at me.

Before landing on the ground I was told that our trip was organized, our hotels (“all four star, I assure you!”) were booked, and I smiled for selfies with the taxi driver, with the brother in law, with just about everyone, as I realized exactly what I was getting into. My coworker, unphased by my growing anxiety told us it was time for dinner.

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Calligraphy – Shakespeare

I have been following all those Dark Academia blogs on tumblr and instagram lately and saw this quote and really liked it. The lettering is done in Magnolia Style which is quite dramatic with many flourishes, but I feel like it deserves more than it got. I put in an order for some Iron Gall ink recently, but I am sticking with Sumi Ink until it comes in.

Nib: Brause EF
Ink: Sumi
Paper: Some nice vellum

An American Abroad Part II – The Pandemic

I’ve given a few interviews about the pandemic as an expat abroad, mostly from podcasters and political activists who hope that getting some word across from China would change local policy.

I really wasn’t sure what they wanted from me, the Chinese response to the pandemic was scattershot at best and there is no one better than me that remembers losing the mayor of Shanghai to Wuhan due to the disastrous response, or the literal highwaymen that would “disappear” shipments of medical supplies to inland provinces.

However, I think they hoped as an American on the outside looking in I would be able to provide some guidance. Many people thought that, and they still do.

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