Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Bonnie's Chicken

Bonnie’s Chicken

A Hardman Family Story

Bonnie Rollins Hardman grew up on a farm and had, of all things, a pet chicken. That chicken helped her learn responsibility, mortification and loss. 

Bonnie’s chicken liked attention. I have no idea how much attention most chickens need but Bonnie’s chicken liked to be noticed. If lonely or hungry, it would pop right up the back porch steps and pick at the kitchen door looking for her mistress.

At this time in her life, Bonnie had a number of much-resented jobs to do around the house. While Bonnie admitted that she didn’t have to sleep in the cinders, she felt that her stepmother assigned more chores to her than to her half-sisters so those duties were done without cheer. 

One Saturday while Bonnie had to sweep and clean, her chicken, watching her through the kitchen window, was particularly disgusted with being ignored. The chicken peck-peck-pecked at the kitchen door and Bonnie, annoyed, chased it off. The pecking came again and again so several times Bonnie stopped work to scoot the chicken.

Finally, totally annoyed with the chores and the chicken, she raised the broom as a weapon and ran to the door while screaming, “If you don’t stop that and get the heck off the porch, I’ll beat you with this broom!”

Eyes full of fire, she opened the back door to teach that chicken a lesson and stood face to face with the minister. Enveloped by embarrassment that was never forgotten, she ran off to hide in a closet, escaping the chicken, the minister and her stepmother.

Later that summer, when she was able to face people again, Bonnie had occasion to help make turtle soup. Someone, her cousin I think, had gone fishing and caught a very large snapping turtle. 

The turtle was perched on the chopping block for preparation after which its seemingly harmless head lay in the dirt. The chicken, knowing no fear of chopping blocks or turtles, came to investigate. It focused on a bit of pink at the turtle’s mouth and interpreting this as a snack, the chicken pecked at the dead turtle’s tongue.

In the same way that a chicken's body can retain enough life force to run after being beheaded, a turtle’s mouth can still snap. The chicken thought it would gain a treat but instead it lost its beak to the dead turtle.

Bonnie went to hide in the closet again that night because dinner was turtle soup and roasted chicken. If she were still with us, we’d know more of her childhood but at least we have the story of Bonnie’s Chicken.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Museum of the Earth, Ithaca: Science, Art, Stories

The skeleton of Right Whale #2030
in the museum lobby area.
ITHACA: The best museums are museums of stories. Stories are teaching tools. New ideas are Velcro hooks that find the loops of known information. Learning is connecting new information to prior experience. More connections mean strong, durable memories. Stories are the connecting loops and hooks of long term memory and solid understanding.                          There’s a story in the lobby of the Museum of the Earth in the form of the remains of Right Whale #2030. Why isn’t that protected whale still in the northern Atlantic filtering 400 pounds of krill through its baleen every day? Sometime in May 1999,  the whale encountered fishing gear with a rope long enough to wrap around the massive body 3 times.      
                Cutting an exposed rope from a colossal, wild, moving body would be a tough job but “wrapped” doesn’t explain enough. The rope was so tight that it tortuously cut through 7 inches of blubber.  Repeatedly, crews of people, skilled and compassionate, found the whale and tried to rescue it. By September, the weakened female had 2 of the loops removed but the third loop remained eventually killing her. 
                When the body was dragged ashore in New Jersey in October, a crew began “flensing” or removing the skin and flesh. The bones were brought to Ithaca to be buried in horse manure where beetles and bacteria finished cleaning the skeleton.
                The whole story of Right Whale #2030 is at the museum. Her 300 remaining but endangered relatives are at risk from ship collisions, fishing gear entanglements and habitat degradation.
                 The story of the museum started with Gilbert Harris. Harris taught geology at Cornell from 1894-1934 while collecting and protecting specimens. Not trusting Cornell with his work, he created the Paleontological Research Institution to hold it, gaining a charter from the NY Board of Regents in 1936. The collection grew from his home to the current 18,000 square feet, 3 million items and 50,000 texts now in The Museum of the Earth. 
The Hyde Park Mastodon was
an old male suffering from
arthritis as seen in the damage to
leg bones.
                About 100 miles from the museum there was a story of discovery. The Lozier family in Hyde Park brought in equipment to expand their backyard pond in 1999.  A massive bone was uncovered in the mud. The Loziers thought they had a dinosaur bone but they were repeatedly dismissed because nobody has a dinosaur in their backyard.
                 Finally a professor from Baird College examined the find. While it wasn’t a dinosaur bone, it was from a mastodon, a male as it turned out and the old guy suffered from arthritis 11,000 years ago when it collapsed in a muddy pit where its bones were preserved in a tight group.

Looking through the glacier exhibit toward the
Hyde Park Mastodon.
               The Discovery Channel brought the story to the country with Mastodon in Your Backyard. By 2000 the bones were assembled at The Museum of the Earth. As a bonus, it is among the most complete mastodon skeletons found.

                The museum has an extensive research facility but it also serves to inspire children. While we were there we heard high school and college aged students repeatedly asking, “Did you know...” followed by some curious fact that, actually, I hadn’t known. Periodically, areas of the museum sounded like a school cafeteria at lunch time.

                There was notable teen who had her imagination and mind captured by ammonites early on. She gave an impressive, private tour to friends exposing them to an enthusiastic and detailed vocabulary and knowledge base.
Erin Signor from South Jersey said, "10-year old
Erin would have loved this place more than I
love it now. My mother would have
never gotten me out." She is holding the
frozen part of the glacier exhibit.
            Erin Signor was visiting with friends and told me that had she been in the Museum at the age of 10, her mother might never have gotten her out. One exciting element was the frozen side of the glacier exhibit.
            For younger visitors The Dino Zone offers an enormous Stegosaurus rendered in papier mache in 1903 near a supersized sauropod nest complete with eggs to crawl over or sit on. There are dinosaur costumes to model and a nearby story nook full of books under the watchful eyes of a Quetzalcoatlus.
            For those who are slightly older, the fossil discovery zone is always open with trays of fossils free to examine, identify and take.
                Art on site includes the permanent display of 544 tiles, Rock of Ages Sands of Time, by Barbara Page as well as other murals throughout the building. There is a changing exhibition area currently hosting Mapping the Planets in Silk and Sound by Mary Edna Frasier.  
            Some might ask why we should study the past. Maybe there isn’t a hard line between past and present. Some ancient animals are still alive and have mysterious traits. The tardigrade is an aquatic micro animal found feeding on moss on every continent. The 1150 or so species of tardigrade can be seen with an amateur microscope and are said to be resilient, an understatement. 
               Tardigrads have returned from space on the outside of a capsule, surviving a vacuum, extreme radiation, and intense cold. When they sense a lack of water, tardigrades secrete a material to encapsulate their membranes so they won’t break, their proteins so they won’t unfold, and their DNA so it won’t be damaged. When safe again, they rehydrate ready to eat and reproduce even if the dormant period was more than a decade. Top that story.
Janice Brown, microbiologist, hosted vistors
at the tardigrade exhibit on February 17.

                 During our visit we saw living, eating, egg-producing tardigrades.  Can they teach us something about a process of stasis in space travel or help develop weather resistant crops? Isn’t it worth a look?
            The Museum of the Earth is a bit off the main road at 1259 Route 96 in Ithaca. Call (607) 273-6623 or find information at www.priweb.org.  Winter hours are on Wed-Sat. Admission is charged and there is no café.
                The Museum hosts a fossil event on every 2nd Saturday, 10am to Noon. Bring your fossils and funny looking rocks for identification. Sign up for fossil hunts this summer: July 1 - Hamilton, July 22 - Schoharie, August 19 – Tully. Check with the Museum of the Earth for specific locations, fees, and special events.

There are living things at the museum
including two salt water aquariums.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Candidates in the Democratic Primary, June 26, NY23rd

GENEVA: Did you know that there are 6 people who hope to be the Democratic candidate in the November election to represent us in New York’s 23rd district? In several towns in this sprawling district, these candidates have presented views to voters who feel left behind by Congressman Tom Reed.
                In Geneva, Eileen Buckley and Suzanne McNally had a conversation on social media about wanting to hear all of those possible candidates.  Their discussion attracted attention and their post turned into a meeting that led a forum at the Smith Opera House on January 23rd.
                There the candidates took turns answering questions. Below the responses of each candidate are sorted to give an idea about who the people are, what they think and why they see themselves as representatives of our Congressional district.

TRACY MITRANO is a lawyer and internationally known cyber security expert who has lived her entire adult life in this district. She believes in the values of citizenship and democracy and plans to knock on doors, connect over phones, reach into communities including those of the often ignored First Nations People, to build a political community. Her campaign is being run by full time staff of three in her 3 office locations.
                She feels that Reed represents the 1% and not the people of NY23rd. She would flip the provisions of the tax cut bill and give benefits to working people. She would tax large estates and require that corporations pay taxes at a level that would rebuild a vital middle class.
                She said that we all have a constitutional right to privacy that should be protected by the government and that the country is strong enough to provide universal healthcare.  She would like to institute subsidized child care so that women can work or go to school. She feels that she can help girls by being a role model in congress.
                She believes that immigration laws must guarantee a path to citizenship to those brought here as children and now registered as students or employees and taxpaying members of society. She would act to protect vulnerable members of society and would push to decriminalize marijuana at the national level allowing for its medical use.
                “My father,” she said, “fought in WWII to build a country that would recognize human rights for every person in it. We can’t have people who are marginalized, oppressed, forgotten or left behind. We all benefit from living in a country that protects all human rights.”
                In her summary statement she said that a successful economy has healthy, educated people, conserves resources and provides a developed infrastructure.  These 4 resources will attract capital and build a 21st century economy.
                To obtain those resources we must support schools and give our youth opportunities to be prepared for work in trades and vocations and to gain the skills to participate in a demanding contemporary workforce.  We need to support colleges so students graduate without debilitating debt.
                Mitrano stated that while Reed represents his financial supporters over his constituents, she would be would be a true representative of the area. 

RICK GALLANT was a teacher for 38 year. At the same time he was a coach, sportswriter, business owner and member of the board of directors of the New York State United Teachers. Asked how he would organize to beat Reed, he said that he interacts daily with members of the union and that the people he has helped in the past, will help him knock on doors and make calls and reach out to involve constituents in the NY23rd in conversations that will show he understands the needs of we constituents.
                As an educator Gallant is concerned about cuts to our public schools. Reed, he said, has not spoken up about the importance of after school programs, of school lunch programs or of financial support for public education systems all the way through 2 and 4 year public colleges.
                While Reed is content to see what might trickle down, Gallant wants real funding. He noted several instances of businesses in the area not having needed skilled labor and feels the economy would benefit if the state returned to past levels of support to public colleges in the state.
                Responding to financial questions, Gallant wants Medicare for all, equal pay for equal work and livable wages for full time labor. He would raise the ceiling on Social Security contributions and push for free public colleges in New York. Also, he would reduce the interest on student loans to 1% freeing graduates to make major purchases and to become entrepreneurs.
                Because the Geneva area is currently confronting a plan to import New York City’s garbage, incinerate it and become the eternal holder of the resulting ash, environmental issues were frequent during the forum.  Gallant wants to lessen the garbage stream by eliminating single use plastic and pushing comprehensive recycling.
                His final statement was that he would like to see the United States be a responsible society where people converse and work things out to make mutually beneficial arrangements.

CHARLES WHALEN WHALEN is a professional economist who went to Cornell University at the age of 17, after faculty members in his high school told him that Cornell was a bar too high for him. His first area of study was labor relationships but he went on to earn a PhD in economics.
                With his degree he worked at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in Washington for 6 years before moving to Geneva in 1990. He feels he can win against Reed by demonstrating that voters will benefit from his involvement in government. He has interests and experiences in common with the voters in this area, things he understands because he has run congressional races for others in the past.
                As a professional economist, he slammed Reed for supporting the tax cuts saying that the incentives in it will send jobs overseas and will weaken our economy. The $1.5 billion, or more, that the tax cuts add to the deficit will be used to justify slashing Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare and will be used as an excuse not to fund a desperately needed infrastructure bill. “The tax cut bill,” said Whalen, “is an economic time bomb.”
                Health care, particularly in rural areas, is a huge concern. Whalen feels we need to take specific steps to ensure that rural populations are given local health care, something that Reed consistently votes against. One of Whalen’s goals is to lower the age of Medicare eligibility to 55.
                He puts the blame for the opioid epidemic on the shoulders of the drug industry in this time when prescription drugs lead many into sustained drug abuse. In a related matter, he supports a regulated medical marijuana program.
                As a professional economist, he feels he can influence discussions in Washington by pushing for the development of environmentally sustainable technologies and businesses and recognizing that infrastructure development must include water, sewer, transportation and communication.
                One environmentally sustainable area of development could be hemp farming. Early in the history of our country, industrial hemp met many needs while being kind to the soil. Industrial hemp, while distantly related to cannabis, has no hallucinogenic properties.
                Whalen said, “Sometimes you need to go into a factory at 4 am to talk with people and build a common understanding of the economy at every level.”


MAX DELLA PIA comes to the political stage from a 30 year career in the U S Air force and Air National Guard. He lives in Owego in Tioga County and as a BS in Economics, a MS from the industrial College of the Armed Forces and a Law Degree from Marquette Law School. He hopes to engage with all Democrats and get out the vote with the help of a team of Cornell students with experience in congressional races.
                In response to a question about economics, Della Pia said that the poorly named American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 taxed repatriated corporate money at a rate of 5.2%. Corporations used 90% of that money to buy back stock, forcing up stock prices thereby benefitting the corporate elite but doing nothing for the average person. This current tax bill gives corporation the same deal with its emphasis on Koch Brothers’ priorities.
                The American economy is only booming for a select few. The rest of us need help. We need to spend money building and rebuilding the infrastructure. Della Pia said, “A trillion dollars spent on building our physical infrastructure would create about 30,000 solid jobs. Also, our economy needs more workers because of our low birth rate and our graying population. Immigrants can supply that labor and we should see it as a gift to us.”
                He said that we invite foreign students to attend our universities to earn advanced STEM degrees but then don’t allow them to stay in the country to work. Rather we send them to other countries where they work against us.
                Della Pia feels we need a single payer, universal, healthcare system in an inclusive society that accepts all people and assures that citizens can live and work in safety.  The opioid epidemic is raging in the NY23rd and rather than looking at punishing those addicted to pain killers we need preventive policies and treatment facilities. One direction is to take marijuana off the list of Schedule 1 drugs and give it a medical status at the national level.
                He also talked about the need for an inclusive society. “Everyone,” he said, “needs to talk about the issues faced by people of color and by transgender people. The police need to provide all people with the same opportunity to live in safety.”
                In his summary statement he discussed his 3 children and the difficulties they face that are mirrored over and over again in our district. As a proven and experienced public servant, he would work toward bringing the benefits of an inclusive society to our district.

photo provided by the campaign
IAN GOLDEN earned a degree in physical therapy and worked with clients for several years before transitioning into entrepreneurial ventures. He has started several companies in upstate NY and owns an internationally recognized event company focused on running events. He father, husband, business owner and a runner.
                He worked as a field director for the Eric Massa campaign which gave him opportunity to travel the NY23rd, met the people, and learn what they need and think.  One thing they need is environmental protection which Reed’s party is speedily rolling back. He recently became aware of the elevated levels of radioactivity at landfills across the district and blames it on imported fracking waste.
                Women need wage protection so that equal work results in equal pay.  Having health care at a Planned Parenthood clinic would also help women but Reed wants to close those clinics.  Golden thinks that if more women were in leadership roles, some of these protections might be achieved.
                Local vineyard owners as well as dairy and other farmers all need immigrant workers to help run their businesses but immigration is at a net loss now so the workers are difficult to find.
                Golden supports more financial help for public schools and says we need to deal with big pharma. Lawsuits are going on now to recoup the costs of dealing with the opioid crisis from the industry that caused it. Golden said that health care is a right and while he wondered if he might be the only person in the building who never tried marijuana he thinks that we need to look at the huge economic benefits that medical use of it might bring.  “We have the land to grow it and we need the rehabilitation facilities that could dispense it. To keep it as a Schedule 1 drug is crazy. It should be treated like alcohol.”

LINDA ANDREIwas an interventional cardiac physician and the director of a cardiac catheterization lab in New York City. She also practiced medicine in North Carolina and Wisconsin before retiring from medicine to live in Ithaca 17 years ago where she is now recognized as an accomplished painter with work currently on exhibition in Chelsea.
                She has a staff and launched an aggressive media campaign trying to draw in Democrats and independent voters. She was moved to jump into the race because Tom Reed and Donald Trump are both divisive actors in American politics.
                As a resident of Ithaca she is concerned about the environmental threats of the proposed gas storage at Seneca Lake and the regional trash incinerator.  Better jobs, she says, favor wind, solar and geothermal energy sources that would keep New York beautiful and maintain its value as a recreational area.
                Some changes she would make are to give DACA registrants citizenship and to recognize the need for immigrants as workers in several industries.  She said that the American health insurance system is really a health denial system and we need a health care model that addresses actual health as well as food insecurity and the isolation many people suffer from. As a physician she feels that medical marijuana is essential for many of our suffering veterans.
                 She thanked the organizers of the forum as well as the hundreds who came to listen calling their involvement essential in a democracy. She said that the social contract of the past allowed her to be educated for almost free and gave her grandparents a Social Security income they could live on and gave her diabetic father the care he needed. Now that social contract has to lead to an economy that benefits everyone and includes universal healthcare.

EDDIE SUNDQUISTgraduated from Jamestown High School and then went to study at St. John Fisher after which he taught in Philadelphia and then came back to study law at the University of Buffalo. He knows that Reed can be beaten. Reed gives people labels in order to divide them but Sundquist would see all the people in the district as constituents, equals in the eyes of their member of congress.
                In supporting the GOP tax cuts, Reed represented only the wealthy of his district. The tax cuts are a scam if all they do is add $20 to a worker’s pay check and take away money needed for programs so that others can have tax support for a private jet.
                Rather than fighting for some jet, Sundquist would fight for women, children and other constituents hoping to expand access to healthcare by getting more clinics.  He would use his position in congress as a bully pulpit to talk in favor of programs that would bring 21st Century jobs to this area. He would speak of the economic and health benefits of Medicare for all and called health care a basic human right. He said, “We need rural doctors and we need to address the opioid epidemic as a community issue.”
                Sundquist spoke about vulnerable people such as migrant workers, gay citizens and people of color who are harassed at their jobs He said that harassment needs to be replaced with conversations about what all people have in common.
                Sundquist has worked with some Olean area manufacturers who have work but can’t find people with the needed skills so send work out of the area. Because of this Sundquist sees a need for a Union Apprenticeship Program and for a National Reinvestment Bank that could fund things like broadband service in rural areas.
                Sundquist jumped into the race right after the president said that everyone in Western New York should get out of the area to find jobs elsewhere. After denigrating the entire Southern Tier, Sundquist hoped that Reed to speak up for his constituents but instead Reed agreed. If Reed won’t defend NY23rd, Sundquist will.

 Special note:   The democratic primary will be held on June 26, 2018. New York has a system of closed primaries so while public tax dollars fund these elections, only those registered as members of a given party may vote in any primary. New voters must submit a voter registration form postmarked on or before June 1 or register in person by June 1 to vote in the June 26 primary. A change of address must also be registered by June 1. Registered voters wanting to change their party affiliation had to have done that last September. For specific information for Allegany County call 585-268-9295.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon

Boiling Saigon down to a word would result in Motorcycle. They are everywhere. Motorbikes, motorcycles, motorcycle trucks, mopeds, any kind of two wheeled conveyance is apt to be packed to capacity and zipping around the streets of Ho Chi Minh City day or night.  Our guide said there are about 6 million motor bikes and scooters in this land of 9.4 million people. He said that the very young and the very old ride along and everyone else owns and drives a motorcycleish vehicle.

     The city is a mix of beautiful faces, street trash, noise and sunshine. We were told that for a time the only acceptable name was Ho Chi Minh City but now it is accepted to use either name for that densely populated, urban area.

The Catholic Cathedral - closed for renovation now.
The post office, built during French Colonialism.

The line up gathers numbers at red lights.

Here is my favorite story. We walked around for a while and returned to get back on the bus so sat on the edge of a fountain in the shade (blessed shade). A gorgeous little girl begged me for my water bottle so I gave it to her. She shook it and it sprinkled water on her hand.
     Well, you might think I had caused her enormous harm. The nerve of me. She made it clear through foot stomping and hundreds of words hat she was deeply offended by my carelessness. I took the bottle back, put the lid on straight and shook it to demonstrate that it would hold. She grabbed the bottle, danced around a bit and then threw it in the fountain after which she begged me to give her money or to buy a packet of tissues. After another scolding, she left me taking off with the shirt and scarf sellers on the corner.

Hong Kong, 2017

To boil Hong Kong down to 2 words, they would be High End. Maybe Top Shelf. Conspicuous Wealth would also fit and so would Easy Travel.

It seems that Hong Kong recognizes that an economy grows when there is a decently paid middle class spending money day in and day out. They are out to make getting around in the shopping district an easy thing to do.

This is a walk from the ferry to the shopping district. It was raining so everyone was in the covered walkways this day.

Covered walkways connect shopping mall to store to shopping mall to hotel to government office building to shopping mall to gardens to restaurants and on and on. Some walkways were underground but most of them were bridges over streets. 

Window displays were full of expensive clothing and jewelry with some prices sporting 6 or 7 digits and others so expensive that they were Price On Request.

I would wear this. Well, if it wasn't quite so expensive.

I was taken with the shoes.

I didn't take many other notes that day.

  This is just a walk down a sidewalk in the shopping district at about 5 pm.

Naha, Okinawa, Japan 2017

The port city of Naha welcomes visitors and commerce to the area near Okinawa Japan. We walked off the ship and headed toward downtown. At the port area is a sculpture of children at play.

Just about a block away a pair of huge dragons welcome visitors to the city. The dragons were a gift from Okinawa's sister city in China, Fuzhou City. They are 15 meters tall..

The dragons are granite from China and are placed in an appropriate spot to invite good wishes into the Shurijo Castle. Another pair of dragons is at the entry to the Castle. In each there is one open mouth dragon and one closed mouth dragon.


We walked about 25 minutes to get to the monorail station passing a truck-sized lobster on the side of a building while being reminded of South East Asia's heat and humidity. Do you think it might have been a restaurant at some time? 
The U S Military members stationed there have  had an influence on the food. One item we saw was Jerk Chicken and another was Taco Rice.  There's an A&W restaurant in the city and Rick had a strong urge for a rootbeer float but it came in a plastic cup with ice instead of the frosty mug he always found in Malaysia. Then, the ice kinda ruined it too. Close but not what was expected.

Some sidewalks had inserts or painted panels but I saw only one example of street art.

The monorail was clean, quiet and super smooth. Tickets had printed QR codes telling the turnstiles what payment had been made. The price of rides was based on the distance traveled. We paid 260 to go to Shuri Castle, a series of buildings built  hundreds of years ago, rebuilt after WWII and again after an earthquake in the 1990s.  film inside showed the process of rebuilding the stone walls. Of course, the rebuildings must have been the easiest since the were done at a time that included power tools and plastic templates for cutting and fitting the rocks. They reminded us of the stone walls at the Great Zimbabwe and even the walls of the Inca buildings in Peru.

The traffic here was louder than in China because all the vehicles had gasoline engines. There were also fewer bikes. This is a video of the monorail.

Asia, 2017, Starting in Shanghai

walking on the street at night
       36 hours after leaving home, we were in Shanghi, looking and feeling our best we took the Mag Lev Train to downtown and then got a Taxi and found our hotel ($28 per night bottled water included). The taxi ride cost more than the 2 nights we stayed in the hotel. Travel, gotta roll with it.
      If you are aware of the level of fatigue such a long journey creates, you'll expect that finding food and exploring the near neighborhood were about all we could manage. After eating, we collapsed in bed at about 8 pm and were asleep in seconds. I woke up refreshed what felt like hours later. It was 9:30. The whole night was like that with one or two hour naps stacked between listening to and forgetting 20 minutes or so of an audio book. Eventually the stack of intervals brought us to 6 am for showers and breakfast.
      There wasn't a lot of English to draw on in the hotel but with a bit of waving and pointing we paid the desk clerk 20 RMB for a pair of breakfast chits to present to the server who then invited us to pick our way through the breakfast buffet.
      Neither of us is a fan of congee, a sort of rice soup/oatmeal that one enhances with bits of fermented tofu and pickled vegetation but the congee seemed right in this case and we both had it. Rick misunderstood the fermented tofu thinking it was a food item and not a condiment. He may never try it again.
      We also had fried rice, cherry tomatoes, pot stickers, stir fry vegetables, various kinds of steamed buns, and eggs boiled in tea. There were pastries and cupcakes, breads, tea and juices.
      Rick's shoe had come apart at some point in that long journey. On our last trip, one suitcase wheel split in half at the airport in NY but he repaired it by tying pieces together with our extra shoelaces and getting some stout tape at a hardware store in England, where English was our friend. Now we were in China with a broken shoe.
we were number 11 at the bank
      We showed the hotel clerk the broken shoe but pretty much got shrugged shoulders and no help when asking for shoe repair or hardware store. Everyone has their own words and there didn't seem to be a match there.
      Eventually we walked past a hardware store and Rick showed his awkward shoe to a man who smiled, rummaged while balancing a lit cigarette on cardboard boxes and handed over a packet labeled "Shoe Glue", in English. 2 RMB. The problem was the need for a 24 drying period but by putting the glue on every night for a while, the shoe eventually did stay together. (Suitcase wheels, should you wonder, are the same size as a in line skate wheels. On this trip, both of our suitcases rolled on those. That internet has all kinds of information and ideas.)
     We had changed some money at the airport but the hotel and breakfast took nearly all of it so we went in search of a bank to make an exchange. Well, that was fun. I'll cut this short by eliminating the difficulty in finding the right bank and start with the flower arrangement inside the bank's revolving door. A concierge screens all customer needs and hands out tickets with numbers. Three rows of seats hold those waiting for a turn.
     While seated, we saw a woman come in with an ordinary, plastic shopping bag into which she placed stacks of $100 RMB notes and walkedout with about 10 pounds of paper money as if she purchased nothing more than a box of tissues.
     When it was our turn, we exchanged US dollars for RMB. It required our passports and gave us copies of 3 official documents, written in Chinese characters and duly signed by us. The bank gave us 336 RMB for $50 while the money changer had given us only 285. It was, in addition, a valued cultural experience including bowing.
     Had we used an ATM, we'd have gotten the same exchange rate in 20 seconds rather than 20 minutes and without the signatures or passport. Is it better to slip an ATM card in a machine or to sign documents one can't read?
     In Shanghi, many vehicles are electric making roads somewhat hazardous with their silence and it may not be that pedestrians have the right of way. The street signs are LEDs that give to the minute traffic information. The truck that waters public gardens plays a merry jingle rather like old ice cream trucks.
     We always walk into grocery stores. Here we found potato chips came in "Numb & Spice Hot Pot Flavor" or "Roasted Squid." There were also packets of 2 or 6 preserved chicken feet. We saw eggs packaged in familiar egg cartons but also in small baskets. Foods are always particular to an area.
     Travel always points out how difficult translations can be. What appeared to be a Christian Church was labeled "Beautiful Myth" and a chocolate cake in the grocery store had the name of "Beautiful  Trousers." No guess about the original Chinese name.
     There is a Japanese War Memorial where the sign labels war as waste. Well done that.

bike rentals
     Bike rentals were interesting. This is a mix of observation and speculation without benefit of translation. Bikes had QR codes on them. People would snap the QR on their phone and the bike would unlock so they would ride off. I saw one person stop a bike and using his phone something beeped and the lock clicked closed again. Likely the bikes had codes on them that reported where they were. I wondered if the bikes had little generators so that as the person pedaled, they charged batteries that would unlock and lock the bike as well as transmit a cheery little "Here I am" signal.
     During my 2003 trip to Shanghai, it was common to see people out in the streets in their pajamas. This time we weren't exactly in Shanghai but in the port city near by and only a few men and one woman on her bike were in pajamas. Maybe pajamas are still popular in downtown Shanghai. It wasn't possible to tell.
     We spent our 3 days walking and looking and eating and sweating and being amazed at the signs of wealth in Shanghai. Everyone was kind to us and all our food was good.