Me and Chairman Mao
  China news update.
Nothing too interesting too report, but I have a smattering--I don't remember the last time I used the word "smattering," but now that I think about it's a pretty good word--of somewhat interesting (caveat: to me) China-related news that I thought you might enjoy, which is code for "that I feel like telling you about." If I seem more babbly than normal, you'll have to forgive me: I'm sick, or at least getting there, so my babbling is now fever-inspired. Right now, I'm operating on the assumption that I have bird flu, despite the fact that it's really hard to catch and I haven't been hanging around too many birds, diseased or otherwise. We'll see, I guess. Now onto the news!

Office Space
I read an interesting article about new construction in Shanghai in New York Times. I had been operating under the assumption that while Beijing was currently being torn down, Shanghai already had been. Apparently I was wrong, because, according to the article:

This year alone, Shanghai will complete towers with more space for living and working than there is in all the office buildings in New York City. That is in a city that already has 4,000 skyscrapers, almost double the number in New York. And there are designs to build 1,000 more by the end of this decade.

I think the word you're looking for is "wow." Another word might work just as well--I can think of several, actually--but since this, for now, a family-friendly blog, I'll leave it at that. But while that's all well and good, this is my favorite part of the article:

Prices are soaring. Luxury apartments in Shanghai and Beijing with names like Home of the Tycoons now sell for prices comparable to some high-end properties in New York.

Who would have thought Seasons Park, our old Home of Tycoons, would achieve such international acclaim? And to think, I thought it was crappy because there were cracks in the walls after six months. I guess the NYT showed me!

Have you all started getting that stupid "Downloading movies is illegal!" infomercial at the beginning of the DVDs you rent? (You wouldn't steal a car, would you?) (Well, only because I don't know how ...) In an amusing turn of events, we have gotten it. Yes, the anti-piracy commercial is currently showing at the beginning of pretty much every pirated DVD we buy. (On that note, stay away from the new Pride and Prejudice when it comes out in the States in a few weeks.) So don't worry, MPAA, the piracy message is definitely getting to the right people! Whether or not they're listening, however, is another matter entirely ...

The Heat Is On
After months of whining about how hot it is here, things have finally started to cool down. Although possibly a bit too much, since the other day I found myself saying "I'm cold" for the first time since we left Beijing. (If you want proof that Beijing was cold, I offer this photo.) Anyway, winter apparently is officially on the way, because the heaters have come on in the Shanghai subway. I don't know why they picked the day they did--despite the late mid-October date, it was still in the mid-Seventies, but I'm guessing it was completely arbitrary and based on nothing or possibly less than that. In Beijing, for example, the heat doesn't turn on until November 15, regardless of how warm or cold it happens to be on November 14 or 13 or 12. You get the idea.

But wait, it gets better. That is, stranger. Did you know that buildings Shanghai, with the exception of the high-end hotels, don't have forced-air heat? Apparently someone decided that Shanghai was too far south to need that sort of heating. (Rumor has it Mao thought anywhere south of the Yangtze was too warm to need built-in heat, which is easier to say when you're warm and toasty in Beijing with a nice forced-air heating system.) Anyway, despite the fact that it gets into the low 30s here and is often damp and windy, we have to make due with a bunch of small heating/air-con units to keep us warm: one in each of the bedrooms, one in the kitchen, and a big stand-up unit in the living room. We'll see how that works out, although I already know the bathroom is going to be freezing in the mornings in about a month. More whining to follow then--stay tuned.

Finger-Lickin' Good
Finally, I just found out that KFC just opened it's 164th store in Shanghai. Yes, you read that right, that's just in Shanghai. (There are apparently about 1,500 in China.) And you thought I was joking when I said that there were five different KFCs that I could get to in less than 10 minutes from my front door. But what makes this newest KFC the latest and greatest is that it has .... a drive-thru, the first one in Shanghai. I know, I know--will wonders never cease? The Chairman is no doubt spinning in his grave. Or at least he would be, if he wasn't in a glass coffin that was on display for tourists. But how freaky would it be if that did happen? Seriously freaky. But boy, would it make for a good blog entry ...

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