Sunday, November 27, 2011

Public intoxication

Walking home from work on Thursday (yes, I had to work on Thanksgiving), I saw a highly inebriated gentleman standing in the middle of the sidewalk. Apparently he had an urgent need to urinate, but was having trouble accessing the necessary organ. Sometimes it's tough to reach, what with all the layers. He was hunched over, fiddling around with his zipper like it was a Gordian Knot (great band, btw). Suddenly he stood upright, as if a thought had just occurred to him (perhaps "Maybe I shouldn't be urinating here"). But this sudden movement started him teetering, and he fell backwards, like a felled tree. He seemed unfazed by this development, and by the time I reached him, stretched across the sidewalk flat on his back, his eyes were closed and he was smiling. I hope he didn't fall asleep. The temperature was about -5 F.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wow, can’t believe it’s already Thanksgiving. Sorry I haven’t posted much lately. Between the bouts of heavy drinking and the hard work, who’s got the time? (Just kidding of course; I haven’t been working that hard.) ...

First, I have an update on the mystery of the fate of the Oneida, the yacht on which Grover Cleveland’s secret cancer surgery was performed. As I blogged about a few weeks ago, somebody sent me a picture they snapped last summer of a boat that looks an awful lot like the Oneida. It was exciting to think that the Oneida was still out there, since its ultimate fate is still unknown (to me, at least).

Well, this week I got an e-mail from somebody who thinks the yacht in that picture is actually
the Cangarda (built in 1901) – and I think he’s right:

Drats, I was really hoping I’d found the Oneida.

On the home front, it’s been getting colder and colder in Ulaanbaatar, but we’re adjusting. The other morning Allyson was getting ready for work when she asked me what the weather was like outside. I said, “Not too bad: four above.” (And that’s Farenheit, of course.) A couple weeks ago we went out to dinner and walked home in a temperature of nine below. That was pretty cold.

And the simple act of walking is complicated by the fact that the entire city is pretty much covered with a layer of ice, including the sidewalks. At least the snow makes the open manholes easier to see. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Beijing Trip

Allyson had a conference in Beijing last week and I tagged along to check out the city. We got a bit of sightseeing in on Friday and Saturday and generally had a good time. I was impressed by the city: clean, modern, totalitarian. But the public displays of expectoration were startlingly numerous (and disgusting). People here in UB spit in public a lot, but nothing like the Chinese, who seem to be conjuring a piece of an internal organ with the preliminary hacking, then expel the result on the sidewalk (or, in one case, the floor of the meat market), not to mention everything else in the general vicinity. Seriously, don't talk to me about "cultural differences" -  you'll never be regarded as a modern city as long as people are hocking loogies in public. (And there are packs of wild dogs roaming about - but that's a different rant.)

Anyway, here I am in Tiananmen Square. I was going to write "freedom" on a bed sheet and run around with it, but Allyson talked me out of it.

On Saturday we took a cooking class and learned how to make won tons, dumplings, etc. Here's Allyson carefully making a won ton.

 And here we are enjoying the fruits of our labors!