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Daily photo: KFC

As part of my language lessons, I'm learning the names for Western restaurant chains: Ken de ji (肯德基) for KFC, Mai dang lao (麦当劳) is McDonald's, Sai bai wei (赛百味) is Subway and so on.

Chinese KFC (肯德基)

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Walled village to Moss Mountain hike by the Great Wall

An early start today for an outing with the Beijing Hikers to the Great Wall in Huairou County about 90 minutes outside of the city. From the description:

In the area of the village is what the locals reckon is the original White Cloud Temple in the Beijing area. It’s just ruins now, but we’ll take a look at it, as well as a ginkgo tree that is more than 500 years old and is protected by the government as a Level 1 Natural Treasure. (Level 1 is the highest.)

From the temple site we’ll follow a gravel trail on a gradual climb up through chestnut orchards and virgin forest, heading for a big pine tree on a ridge. Along the way we’ll pass a big white rock that allegedly has magical properties – after drinking the water that a small piece of this rock has been boiled in, new mothers will have no trouble producing plenty of breast-milk for their baby.

It will take us around about two hours to reach the pine tree on the ridge, and we’ll stop for a lunch break next to an shepherd’s abandoned house.

After lunch we’ll continue along the ridge, hiking up a bushy trail to another saddle on a ridge. From there we’ll be able to see Moss Mountain. Many years ago it rained so much that the village in the valley was encircled with floodwater, and the mossy foliage on Moss Mountain grew so dense that the whole mountain turned black.

An easy trail leads down to the foot of Moss Mountain, and from there we will follow a flat trail to finish the hike at a park.

The walk was a decent 6.8 miles with 1300 ft of climb. It stayed below freezing and there was snow falling for much of the day. It was good to make it out of the city into marginally cleaner air and get some decent exercise.

Manual millstone

Rock quarry

Mountain in the snowy mist

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798 Art District

Clear blue skies made for a great opportunity to do some exploring. An easy ride on the 909 bus (which seemed to sport more technology than any I've previously ridden on)

The 798 Art Zone was built as a joint factory complex between the PRC and the Soviet Union in the 1950s. Its buildings and layout were designed by East German engineers and have a distinctive appeal. After the electronics and military manufacturing came to a close the area saw a rebirth as a community for artists and studios.

798 Originality Square

The building designs incorporate specific considerations for maximizing the amount of natural light inside. The lofting ceilings give a sense of expanse inside.

Former munitions storage building

A maze of interconnected pipes still remains with random steam discharges throughout the area.

Pipes at 798 Art District

Steam discharge vent

I only ventured into one or two of the galleries themselves and while I'm no expert I did enjoy what I saw.

Red Mao

798 Art District slideshow

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Moving mountains and stopping waterfalls

There's a book titled 'How Would You Move Mount Fuji?' which, while several years old now, looks into some of the types of interview questions used at Microsoft to find the creative thinkers and problem solvers as part of the interview process.

That class of questions are generally hypothetical and rarely reflect things that have precedent in the real world. Imagine then, my delight, at finding actual evidence of 'pausing' a river flowing at 4 million cubic feet of water/minute.

Cool pictures too.

From Mammoth:

For six months in the winter and fall of 1969, Niagara’s American Falls were “de-watered”, as the Army Corps of Engineers conducted a geological survey of the falls’ rock face, concerned that it was becoming destabilized by erosion.  During the interim study period, the dried riverbed and shale was drip-irrigated, like some mineral garden in a tender establishment period, by long pipes stretched across the gap, to maintain a sufficient and stabilizing level of moisture.  For a portion of that period, while workers cleaned the former river-bottom of unwanted mosses and drilled test-cores in search of instabilities, a temporary walkway was installed a mere twenty feet from the edge of the dry falls, and tourists were able to explore this otherwise inaccessible and hostile landscape.
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