My high school World History teacher somehow burned into my memory the observance of the Ides of March with the story of the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC (or BCE, Before the Common Era, as the politically sensitive term puts it today). He was stabbed 23 times. Must have been quite a scene. After 50 years, I still think of it every year.
After three days of sunny, spring-like weather with temps in the 50s, we have returned to overcast skies and rain in Hangzhou. Rain fell quite steadily all day today from sunrise into the evening. For those of you with a farm background, this is the kind of steady, soaking rain that farmers loved to see once spring planting was finished.
Let’s Meet For Coffee
Char sent a text message as she boarded the bus to come home after class. She finishes at 10:25 a.m. on Thursdays and was on the bus by 11. One of her stops on the way home is just near a Cafe 85, about three blocks from the apartment, and she wanted to meet for coffee. So I pulled on my raincoat and set off. Cafe 85 is the Hangzhou equivalent of Starbucks or Caribou. I’m not sure whether Cafe 85 is country-wide, but they certainly are all over Hangzhou, sort of like Starbucks in Seattle or Vancouver. One difference is that Cafe 85 does not sell coffee beans. Another is in the food selection; in addition to sweets, Cafe 85 offers a variety of more substantial pastries, many of which contain meats and fillings of various sorts. It is quite odd to eat a pastry with ham or a hot dog inside while the pastry into which it is baked is iced like a sweet role. Also, Chinese pastries do not contain the heavy doses of sugar that American pastries do; they are only mildly sweet.
More About Gout
I’m happy to say that I am feeling much better. It’s been about 11 days now and the swelling in my foot is nearly gone. Moreover, my medication arrived today, eight days after it was sent. While I am well on the way to recovery, I am nevertheless happy to have the meds as I hope they will promote even faster final healing. Fortunately, I have been able to cautiously resume workouts at the fitness center, so I plan to be doing that three to four times a week.
Thoughts on the Postal Service
My son sent my meds via USPS three-day delivery. It was pricy–$75. The package got here in eight days. I’m sure it probably made it to China in three days, but took the rest of the time to find its way to us in Hangzhou. We in the United States are really spoiled. We take a lot for granted. We actually feel justified complaining when a letter we spent 42 cents to post does not arrive the next day, or at most, in two days, in San Francisco from New York. For $13, we expect the USPS to pick up our Express Mail envelope and deliver it within 24 hours to nearly anywhere in the country. We not only expect it, we rely on it in emergencies, such as meeting delivery deadlines for proposals. I gotta tell you, folks–it ain’t like that in most of the world. Maybe some of the western European countries have a similarly reliable service, but over the rest of the globe, it’s hit and miss. Your letter or package may or may not be arbitrarily opened or forwarded for delivery. For as much as postal workers are held up to ridicule and are the subject of dark humor (as in, he went postal), Americans have come to expect reliable service from USPS, and they pretty much get it.
On the Agenda
We’ve been here for six weeks now and we’re finding our feet. We are now thinking about a trip to the Great Wall and another to Shanghai during the upcoming holidays that Char will have. The Great Wall escapade would not be the commonly visited location north of Beijing, but just a couple of hours from here by train. It is said to be one of the first sections of the wall and much less traveled by tourists. For the trip to Shanghai, I look forward to a trip on the new high-speed train. Our trip to Hangzhou from Shanghai airport took about three hours; the high-speed train covers the distance in 50 minutes. I’ll let you know how it goes.