Month: November 2012

Just a Cup of Coffee

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Manicure and Dancing

Anyway, I’m at the local beauty salon getting a manicure. Well, not really in the salon. It’s the street exit to the salon, which is on the second floor of the Wu Mei Hypermarket I mentioned yesterday, and a couple of couches have been setup there, along with a case on one of the walls with nail products, with a couple of girls stationed there to do your nails. The area is clean, the price is good, and it’s close. (It is wife approved as well.)

Okay, one more thing… this beauty salon isn’t directly accessible from the main entrance of Wu Mei, you need  to enter by first walking through a restaurant serving personal hot-pot meals. After awhile living here, you just accept such things.

In any event, I’m getting my nails did, and a lot of staff starts going out through the area in which I’m sitting (it being, after all, an exit). I figure, hey, must be time for a break or something.

As like most salons I’ve been to in Beijing, they’ve got dance-type/uptempo music going pretty loudly. But, then I start to hear other — almost competing — music. And, well, something that sounds like clapping and shouting.

So, I finish my manicure, go through the hot-pot restaurant, and onto the sky bridge that takes me across the street to my apartment. I look down, and see this:

I think it was some sort of team-building exercise. They must’ve been going for more than five minutes, and were quite good. (In the top-right of the photo, you can see the window of the shop opened with a speaker resting outside.)

So, there you have it… manicure and dancing.

New Glasses

I got a prescription filled for a couple new pairs of glasses at Daming Optical.

There was something about this contraption…

that had me visualizing this one.

Then again, it might’ve just been my exposure to the movie at an early age that brought this about.

Deer Head in TCM Pharmacy

Deer head in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) pharmacy.

Two clarifications:

  1. No, I don’t think it is there as a hunting trophy
  2. Yes, that’s my wife in the background

Tunneling

John Henry told his captain
“Lord a man ain’t noth’ but a man
But before I let that steam drill
beat me down
I’m gonna die with a hammer
in my hand, Lord, Lord
I’ll die with a hammer in my hand”

Bruce Springsteen‘s version of John Henry

All they found of him was a muddy set of prison clothes, a
bar of soap, and an old rock hammer, damn near worn down
to the nub. I remember thinking it would take a man six hundred
years to tunnel through the wall with it. Old Andy did it in less than twenty.

–“Red” from the The Shawshank Redemption

Many years ago, I bought some Märklin trains. Well, a bit more than some. In any event, when my ex-wife and I had the house in Sunnyvale, I used a sheet rock saw to cut holes when I needed to run the trains though a ocassional wall.

I brought my set to Beijing soon after I moved here, but mostly had it packed-up.  Just didn’t feel right setting it up in a rented space.

When we bought our apartment, Shanshan and I thought that it was still too small to dedicate a room to my train set. (Shanshan had visions of a train falling onto our still as of yet unconceived child. As a general rule, anything with a remote possibility of causing harm to  a child –unconceived or otherwise– in China will lose.)

When we enclosed our balconies, the wife said it’d be okay for me to setup a layout on the one nearest my office. I put the platform for it in place (1m x 1.5m), but still thought it was too small. I then thought of running it into the office.

The problem with this is that most walls (interior and exterior) in apartments like I live are made of concrete and can be quite thick. Since I was looking at two holes 40 cm deep and 10 cm in diameter –and I thought that a sledgehammer might be too big and didn’t wanna see if I could beat the record set by old  Andy Dufresne, I called in a specialist.

So, we called in a husband and wife team who had done work on our hose before (when we move the air conditioner compressors during the process of enclosing the balconies).

Here he is drilling the first hole.

And, just to give you a perspective on the thickness of the wall.

In this shot, his wife… who looked more like she was dress for the (Beijing) Opera rather than do heavy drilling, watches. She was actually quite involved in the process… and,  also handled the payment negotiation after the job was complete.

Although the dog and cats initially ran off when the drilling started, Xiao Mao eventually came back to watch… or, in the language of the KCNA, “give on-the-spot guidance and field supervision”.

Here’s the start of the second hole.

And, both holes tunnels punched through the wall.

Here’s an interior view of one (with steam from the water that was in use still rising).

And, the mess that was left.

I also had him drill a smaller hole to re-route my internet line (the installers had created something of labyrinth on my walls when installing it the first time). Thankfully, no water was needed for such a small hole.

While he was drilling this hole, his wife cleaned-up the balcony.

More pictures when I get some of the track setup.