Saturday, June 18, 2011

House sitter

Butter, our fifteen year old tabby, knows something is up when the suitcases come out, and he isn't happy.  While we're away, he's in charge of household security, assisted by my neighbor Charlotte Pubal, our friends Dennis and Marie Cope.  Amy Ramsey and her girls will be in every day to feed and pet Butter. Sometimes when we return, he declines to speak to us for a couple of weeks.

Paper weight

I am making an academic trip, so I need to have books on hand.  Most things, I put on computer or Kindle, but I can't do that with the TOEFL and GRE prep books, nor the set of Narnia books I'm bringing for the daughter of a colleague, nor the dozen ETSU planners I'm taking along as gifts.  Paper drives suitcase weight up in a hurry, and the airlines charge extra for baggage these days even when it's not overweight.  We're trying to spread the books, brochures and business cards out over several suitcases and carry ons.  One more thing to consider as we pack.

Foot Power

The Chinese tend to be thin.  Some people attribute this to heredity and a diet low in sugar and fat, but I suspect it has more to do with lifestyle.  They walk more than Americans.  And even now, most Chinese use bicycles for everyday transportation.

The semester I taught in Weihai, I walked three quarters of a mile four times a day getting to and from classes; I usually walked another mile and a half each evening to a restaurant or grocery store. Sometimes, I rode my friend's bike. I lost 15 pounds that winter, though I gained a lot of it back when I returned to the States and reverted to the American practice of using a car.

I was never a very good driver due to poor peripheral vision, and when last August I came close to killing a bicyclist, I decided I ought to quit, though no one was hurt. Since then, I've been walking close to five miles a day and  now weigh less than I did in my twenties. Culturally, we're obsessed with reducing diets.  My experience is that with healthy eating and walking, weight takes care of itself.

Unfortunately, the Chinese have been copying our bad habits.  Middle class people in China are now buying cars in record numbers.  In Beijing along, thousands of cars are purchased each month.  This results in mammoth traffic jams, and since car ownership is possible for only ten per cent of the Chinese population, life is harder for the walkers and cyclists. 

In addition, the Chinese have developed a taste for our high fat foods, though they don't eat as many sweeets.  KFC is a favorite treat for the youngsters and college students.  Predictably, some Chinese are putting on weight.   

What does tomorrow mean? It is 5:30 pm here, but at home it’s 5:00 in the morning. I leave Weihai tomorrow and make a stop in Beijing. ...