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Monday, December 10, 2007

Blogging Some December Miles

So yeah, December has been an uninspiring month here in Jilin. Nothing in particular stands out, just a lot of the same familiar, and as the weather gets colder and it gets dark earlier, so it's harder to be chipper and clever here on the blog. So be it.

Lately, I've been obsessed with finding the Chinese equivalent of "c'est la vie." I guess in English we can say, "such is life," or to get a little more Vonneguty, "so it goes." I don't know why I'm compelled to find this phrase in Chinese. So far, the best I can do is a literal translation: "这是生活," zhe shi sheng huo, which just literally means "this is life," but my Chinese friends and students that I've asked say it doesn't have the same meaning as what I'm looking for. I've gone so far to enlist a student to ask the French teacher (who is Chinese) what it could be, or at least what the proper translation ought to be. And if I can't figure it out, well, c'est la vie.

One of the cooler things going on in Jilin (and, if you wait for it, the pun will become deliciously clear) is the rime frost that forms on the trees near the Songhua River. The river that seems to snake around the entire city is warmed, either naturally as some Chinese say, or by the myriad local chemical plants (as cynical foreigners are wont to believe), and as the warm vapor rises from the river, it meets the frigid air and cools in thin white ice crystals on the trees along the river.

It makes for a spectacularly frosty view in the morning. The rime frost is quite elusive, though, as I've only seen it a few times, and it melts pretty quickly.

And, what the hell, how about some more pics. Please note that the pics with snow are from the first snowfall a few weeks ago; most of the snow has already disappeared.

The poor guys adding the fifth floor to the dorm had to sleep in this pitiful tent, even in the snow. The snow got heavy enough that a whole side collapsed, and then one night, there was no light radiating through the small front flap. Now the fifth floor is finished, and the tent remains empty.

A typical lunch for me here in Jilin: 鸡蛋刀削面, jidan dao xiao mian, or "knife-cut" noodles with egg. Nothing beats the cold like slurping a steamy bowl of fresh-made soup noodles; so steamy it makes your nose run. Can't beat the price, either, only four kuai (about fifty cents) for a big bowl. Note the copious cloves of garlic; I usually go through four or five per bowl. It's the spinach to my Popeye.

Guess the swing is off limits.

Kevin said these pipes look right out of Brazil. I'm inclined to agree.

Always good to be prepared.

This statue is the unofficial icon of Jilin. It's there in the heart of the city, I pass it every time I take the bus into town, and you can see it in miniature on cabs and elsewhere in the city.

All for now.

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