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661 on a 0-500 scale

Beijing before and after picture - same view on clear and "foggy" days (photo from Washington Post)

Beijing air quality

Most recent reading:
There is no doubt the air quality in Beijing is bad, but I often think too big a fuss is made over it. Wearing masks and keeping kids indoors when a number is surpassed is, in my opinion, focusing on the "issue du jour". While some people are sensitive to it, most adults, I think, can get along just fine. It is amusing to listen to a 3-pack-a-day smoker complain about the poor air quality.

Still, some things get my attention. 2 years ago when the level reported by the US Embassy was 550 on a 0-to-500 scale and was given a "crazy bad" rating, that got my attention. This week eclipsed that.

To understand how bad it was I went looking for historical data of how this number has gone up and down, but was not able to find a source online. The sources above provide current data for the preceding X hours, but you can't look back to see how it has changed. Better late than never: I wrote an application which fetches the current information from a public source and stores it in a database on my server. The data can be fetched and displayed, displays the current value on my desktop, and can email me an alert if it gets too high.

As a comparison, that same week there was an uproar over pm2.5 pollution levels in Salt Lake City, Utah. There were editorials, articles, protests, and petitions. The AQI got up as high as 69. We can go weeks without seeing a number as low as 69, and in January saw 10 times that.

See the current level here, or get more detail here

Aaron's Graduation!!!

WAB's graduation ceremony was held Saturday, June 2 at the 700-year-old Confucian Temple in Beijing. The temple is a particularly appropriate place for this ceremony because steles in the first courtyard were used to record the names of the 50,000 scholars who passed the highest level of the imperial exams from 1300 to 1900. WAB graduates just held the ceremony here, their names were not inscribed on a tablet.

The setting was perfect, the weather was good, the speakers were not too verbose: all in all, it was as close to a perfect graduation ceremony as possible. WAB had a streaming video of it, which apparently was viewed in something like 20 countries around the world. Unfortunately they are not making the video available, but it was a great way to share the day with family and friends that could not make it to Beijing. For those of you who could not make the ceremony or the video stream, I put some photos here to help give the flavor of what it was like.

Aaron's ballet video

Last year Aaron and some classmates made a creative ballet interpretation of Nawal El Saadawi's book Women at Point Zero. It was well received by all viewers, and (in a world exclusive) you can now view it here at Young-0.com.

Great and Interesting News

The pilot from the bomber my father flew in as radio operator in WWII found the diary online and got in touch with us. Mr. Wildrick Hart had, since his retirement 20 years ago, used his genealogical skills to trace down 9 of the 10 crew members, missing only Sgt. Young. His discovery of the flight diary online let him "complete the set". Read about it here

No one really cares, but...

I actually made changes in the software running this site for the first time since Aaron left NSCL, which was 8 years ago. The only change visible to visitors is that the URLs are now simpler, but now that it has 100 pages (wow!) I also added some functionality to the admin function to make it easier to use. It is not the greatest code (I learned PHP while writing it), but it has worked flawlessly for NSCL and me for over 10 years.

How to Speak Badly Accented English

I found a book at Xinhua which uses the worst technique for learning a language I have ever heard. See and hear it here.
Anyone interested in that might also want to see my Pinyinglish page.

Dad's journal

Carol recently sent out an excerpt from a journal Dad kept of business trips. Left Wellsville NY at 7?30 bound for Warren Pennsylvania on a cloudy, threatening day. A few miles out of town a dismal creature stood in the rain thumbing a ride. Although it is against company policy and common sense to pick up strangers, I did so and was rewarded with the following:...

For Father's Day Andy wrote an article based on the last letter Dad wrote us. You can find it in his collection of articles.

Bob Evans in Ultimate Frisbee Hall of Fame

My college captain, Bob Evans, was elected to the Ultimate Hall of Fame in 2009. I have to agree with the selection, and I think the writeup is quite good. Excerpts:
...At a time when competitive Ultimate was rare, Evans brought a revolutionary approach: a long game based on his legendary backhand; aggressive athletic play at the deep back position; relentless pressure after turnovers; laying out for the disc; recruitment of athletes; and a profoundly serious, intelligent and analytical approach to the game.
... While having a reputation as a sharp-tongued curmudgeon, Evans was, in fact, invariably gracious in victory and humorously sullen in defeat. ...
...A fine teacher, Evans’ approach was instilled in his younger teammates and also widely adopted by opponents, spreading virally throughout the Ultimate community, echoing down to the present day. ...
Uncle Peter recently discovered and sent me the papers from one of the hoaxes he did with Dad, the Mushrooms of Zanzibar. I scanned them, transcribed them, and made them available here for family or anyone else interested.


And here is another one he found and I got online:
The Great Abominable Snowman Hunt

I like this photo as symbolic of China's reforms: red and green lights on at once.

This picture was taken on the major highway that goes through the Olympic park, where I pass daily on my way to work. This highway is, at its narrowest, 3 lanes in each direction, and as wide as 6. It is also blocked off in the middle, as part of the "park". Blocked off not only from cars, but officially from bicycles too - why? If they want to extend the Olympic green to the park, why did they build a 6-lane highway? Perhaps grass and flowers would be more appreciated than blacktop. It makes no sense.


Update: Here is what it looks like now - this is not quite the same place, but you can see the above light in the background. They almost-new and very convenient highway has had its middle section torn out and replaced with grass and trees, leaving only one bicycle lane. It would have been even nicer if this remnant of the "Green Olympics" hadn't blocked off a bridge on the bicycle lane, forcing cyclists to move over to the pedestrian lane for a stretch to weave through walkers. Here is the bridge they built for bicycle and vehicular traffic. But that's all water over the bridge.

You can see the newest photos here, or all of them through the menu on the left.

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