Friday, April 01, 2005

Noble Pursuits All

After doing a tad bit of cleaning up around the ol' flat this morning, I headed over to the school to do a little prep for my usual Friday afternoon company class. Actually, a lot of prep, as there is no book to use for this class and I need to make up two hours of material all by myself every week. And it needs to be Grade A quality material too, as the class is only three students small, so if an activity fails the energy in the room drops like Ted Burke's pants in the local Target's pre-teen apparel department.

But lo! Upon arriving at my institution of better education my office manager informed me that all of my students were out of town on a business trip and today's class would be cancelled! Filled with unexecpted glee I turn to Winnie and I say:

"Winnie," says I, "this boon is surely a sign of Fortune smiling warmly upon this day of days! When her wheel turns in such a beneficial nature it is in one's best interest to make towards all unheeded wants and desires in a hope of acquiring such grails. Come! Be my guide! For it is of the utmost importance and necessity that I possess both scotch and Beck before this day is done!"

After dumbing it down a bit (and explaining what scotch and Beck were) Winnie set forth the plan for this unexpected day off. We started out taking a bus to one of the further edges of Harbin, one of the many areas quickly developing as the central government targets the northeast for future providence. It is here where we find METRO, which is basically China's version of Costco, Sam's Club, BJ's, or any such warehouse store. It is not a warehouse store so much in the abnormally large portions of the goods sold, but more so in the sheer size of the place. And they seem to have had anything one might want, including the largest selection of import items in Harbin. Bee-lining to the liquor section I was first greeted with glorious cases of royal Pabst Blue Ribbon, stalwart Budweiser, and Canadian Molson Ice. But the true joy harbored in their availability of Dewars, the drink of drinks. I picked up two bottles at 100 Y a bottle (about US$12, surprisingly cheap, cheaper than in the US at least) as well as a bottle of Stoli at 58 Y. Oh, and a jug of bleach, but that isnt so much for drinking as it is for cleaning.

After returning home to drop off the glory bottles we then began to scour music shop after music shop for the latest Beck, "Guero," or as Ted Burke calls it: "The Reason Why We Have Ears: The Album." For those out of the know, Beck is a modern recording artist and among one of my favorites. His previous albums, "Mellow Gold," "Odelay," "Mutations," "Midnight Vultures," and "Sea Change" are all on heavy rotation on my iPod. He rules.

Surprisingly, again, it did not take long to secure the elusive disc. Plus I found the entire run of "Spaced" on DVD. This was also a unexpected treasure, as "Spaced" is a British TV show done by the same guys who did "Shaun of the Dead," one of my favorite movies in 2004. Apparently "Spaced" is for sci-fi dorks what "Shaun of the Dead" was for zombie geeks. Being a good bit of both, I'm looking forward to it.

Feeling remarkably content, we then made a stop at Hemama's Kofehouse, a small cafe near my apartment owned and run by a man named Ronny from Papau New Guinea. Now I've had a lot of coffee in my time, but I will not deem myself a connoisser of any sorts. I will often default in saying Dunkin Donuts holds the greatest cup of joe ever poured, but I'll be damned if I've ever had a better mug than what Ronny serves up. When I have little to do but not too much time to really go out and explore, I often find myself heading here for a cup. They've also got a selection of books in English, though limited and rather odd, but there is something very comforting with relaxing with a hot drink and re-reading one of your favorite childhood novels (lately I've been picking up a dogeared copy of "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" while there) that I can only begin to describe.

So now I am home, and I do need to do some prep work for the next few days, but I am unbelievably content after all of today's graces. Hooray for me.


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