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November 2nd, 2014:

Tshirt English of the Day

“Heat Seeker”

This one seems like a double entendre. The person wearing the shirt was a middle-aged man with a bad comb-over and a pot belly.

Cranes of Qiqihar

There is a nature preserve in Qiqihar, a breeding ground for the red-crested crane 丹頂鶴.

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The preserve is a huge wetland, “as big as two Hong Kongs” says the tour guide. Clear as mud for the Americans?

Frozen wetland with pedestrian walkway

Frozen wetland with pedestrian walkway

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The young cranes have to “practice” flying. I heard that they keep the birds caged, and release them all at once for the visitors to see the animals exercise their “natural” habits. *sigh*

Can’t shut this guy up

The Consulate was invited to talk at a local language prep school about study in the US. The plan was for the Public Affairs person to talk about higher education, and for me to talk about choosing a school and applying for a student visa. The PAS person couldn’t make it because of a family situation, so I filled in for her.

Yup, that's my boss.

Yup, that’s my boss.

Apparently one of my jokes worked this time.

Apparently one of my jokes worked this time.

After the talk and Q&A, I was mobbed by people who wanted to ask questions about their individual situations. I’m always happy to talk with people, but they often want to give me their life story, then ask for detailed instructions on how to convince the Consular officer to approve their visa applications. This is a moment for diplomacy.

Authoritative hand gesture.

Authoritative hand gesture.

Talk to the hand!

Talk to the hand!

A few days later, one of the LE Staff in the Consular section showed me a posting on the Internet. Apparently someone in the audience posted a pic of me, and wrote some nice things about me.

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The strange beverages of Qiqihar

On my recent city visit to Qiqihar, I was exposed to some beverages that can be best described as…interesting.

Vinegar helps digestion and helps your body "process" alcohol.

Vinegar helps digestion and helps your body “process” alcohol.

Sesame oil also helps digestion.

Sesame oil also helps digestion.

Corn juice. CORN JUICE! I am not making this up.

Corn juice. CORN JUICE! I am not making this up.

This is the deadly baijiu, "white alcohol." Looks like water, tastes like spicy death.

This is the deadly baijiu, “white alcohol.” Looks like water, tastes like spicy death.

Airpocalypse update

The air quality started to improve yesterday. When I woke up in the morning, the AQI was still around 500, then it started to fall. This morning it’s 36, quite good.

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