The best way to keep up with my life and my online activities
(more about this blog)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Please standby

Hi, y'all.

Yes, it's been ages since I've posted.

And no, I'm not abandoning this site like I have all the others. (Shoot, it's paid up through 2018!)

I've just jumped both-feet-first into a new real-world project that I'll be writing about a LOT when it slows down. But after completing a ton of research I've just visited 18 temples in four cities in ten days. And tomorrow Lila and I leave for six more days, in Xi'an, where I'll document a few more temples.

More on that later.

For now, just know that I'm well and happy. When I settle back in, I'll be re-styling some of the procedures on these pages, but will go on.

Meanwhile, the 365 Secrets of Happiness keep posting, here and on Facebook. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Choose Wisely

After five years here, I still can't speak much Chinese, let alone read it.

So, what to do when, at the ATM, I was confronted by a screen full of Chinese characters, and the choice to "Exit" or "Confirm"?

Add to this that someone walked in and was waiting behind me (even as I was taking the picture).

Sometimes it's just a "we can't print a receipt" notice, or "be careful there's no one suspicious around."

But this one was a list of five items, ending in a special phone number.

I pressed "Confirm" and nothing bad happened.


Catching Up

Saturday? Already? Where did the time go?

Let's see: On Wednesday, I went out to meet longtime dear friends Tim, Wendi, and Rosalee for lunch and an afternoon of catching up.

Then, Thursday, I left the house early, and spent the whole day with TW&R going to Dapeng Fortress in Longgang. (That's Rosalee in front of the fort's Tianhou/Mazu temple in the picture.) The bus ride was a couple of hours each way; Tim and I debussed into typhoon rains on the way back, and had dinner at Taj, so it was 10-something when I got home.

Friday, I got up planning to get some work done, and was stymied by a happy discovery.

I had written to a couple of scholarly friends (both American PhDs in Chinese) earlier in the week, asking about an interesting list. Here's part of the letter I wrote Tuesday:

* * * * * * * *

I'm reading Sun Shuyun's book, Ten Thousand Miles Without a Cloud. Mainly it's an account of her retracing of Xuanzang's journey [to India during the Tang Dynasty], but incidentally she says a lot about the state of Buddhism in China in the late 20th century.

This passage really caught my attention:

In the early 1980s the government had issued a decree allowing a limited revival of religion. ... The decree allowed for the 142 most important Buddhist monasteries damaged or destroyed in the Cultural Revolution to be restored or rebuilt.

Would you happen to know where I could find a list of those 142 temples?

* * * * * * * *

One correspondent wrote back immediately to say he didn't know where the list was, but he'd check into it. But Friday morning, my buddy Robert wrote to say he'd found it! Believe it or not, it was on the Chinese version of Wikipedia!

There went my Friday. I spent the day deciphering the Chinese of the list, organizing the information, and starting to locate the actual temples (with the help of Google's all-new English-language maps of China).

There's a project brewing here...

Here's what's been published since my last blog post on Tuesday:

And don't miss the weekly Newsletter that summarizes all of this week's posts! (Which won't be but a few more than are listed here!)