Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bucket List

OK, it’s July of 2011, I am 44 years old, and I have been thinking about all the things I want to do before I die. So, as of today, here’s my provisional bucket list. I am leaving out all of the obvious ones, like seeing my kids graduate from college, get married and have children. I’ve also left off anything that I’ve already accomplished, like visit China, win a bike race, etc. This is a list of only the non-obvious unaccomplished ones.

1. Forward flip on a windsurfer
2. Backward flip off a wall (or some other equally impressive parkour move)
3. Helicopter on skis (I know, it’s pathetic I haven’t knocked this off yet. But my knees are a mess!)
4. Ride up L’Alpe D’Huez
5. Sail
a. the Newport to Bermuda race on our own boat, or
b. to French Polynesia (if we get more of a cruising boat)
6. Compose a worthy piece of music

That’s it! Should be pretty easy, eh? Some of them (like the parkour moves) will probably get harder as I get older, so I’m leaving now to get started. Wish me luck.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Travel Notes from Asia - July 2011

• Don’t get me wrong, I still like to travel to China, but I find it intensely annoying that one cannot access Facebook or Wikipedia in China.

• It’s still polluted here. Here’s a picture from my hotel window in Tianjin on a clear day.

• The next time that Thomas Friedman starts bloviating about how great it is to be China, someone ought to remind him that it’s a desperately poor, horrifyingly polluted totalitarian country where one cannot even have a Facebook account. The fact that they put up a few solar farms to impress the Friedmans of the world is of little account. Their power is still dirty coal.

• Chinese people, including highly educated Chinese people, are strangely unaware of many world events, and totally unaware of any domestic policy issues or debates. That entire category of small talk is out-of-bounds for the awkward business dinner, where common small talk categories are highly prized. There are only so many times that one can comment about the food. Silent pauses are not uncommon. Especially if your hosts don’t really care about the recent US/Japan women’s World Cup soccer game, either.

• The amount of investment occurring in China is still breathtaking. There are skyscraper cranes as far as the eye can see in most cities. Beijing and Shanghai are happening places. Here’s Pudong in Shanghai at night from Sir Elly’s above the Bund.

• Anyone who thinks that income inequality is an issue in the United States really ought to visit China.

• Jetlag notes: I wondered at 5AM whether the health club would be open yet, only to find it already jammed with Americans when I went down there.