Archive for November, 2007

AIDS Awareness Around the World

THERE ARE SOME EMOTIONS that need no translation – the pain of losing a loved one to AIDS is unfortunately one of them. Though it is estimated that the epidemic has lost considerable speed in recent years, the disease still claims the lives of millions around the world; World Vision estimates that up to 6,000 children lose a parent to AIDS every day.

Tomorrow is World AIDS Day, and the Guardian has a really fantastic photo series of preparations for the event from around the world – from China, to Indonesia, to Greece – showing the breadth of the disease’s impact, and the accordingly global response. View it here.

Korea in Photos: Back in 2004 (Set 2)

SIFTING THROUGH OLD PHOTOS, it’s hard not to get reminiscent – this has been especially true as I go through the piles of shots I took during my time in Korea back in ’04 and ’05. Getting caught up in the crush of memories and emotions is difficult, and perhaps this is one reason (along with being generally busy) why getting these sets up has taken me so much time.

Anyway, here’s a sample from my second flickr set – I promise to have the entire volume uploaded and offered here before I take off to Seoul again.

view entire set on flickr.

Money/Environment

GOOGLE’S MONUMENTAL PLAN TO invest in green technologies, and the company’s ambitious goal of producing “one gigawatt of renewable energy — enough to power the city of San Francisco,” are both admirable and unprecedented. When I saw the news, I took it as a hopeful sign of big business moving towards sustainable practices.

And then came the naysayers from the financial district:

“My first reaction when I read about this was, ‘Is this a joke?’” said Jordan Rohan of RBC Capital Markets. “I’ve written off Google’s competition as a threat to Google’s long-term market share gains. But I haven’t written off Google’s own ability to stretch too far and try to do too much. Ultimately, that is the biggest risk in the Google story.”

Robert Peck of Bear Stearns agreed that “the headlines were a little scary at first” and said investors were initially worried that this was another example of Google “trying to bite off more than they can chew.” [...]

Rohan of RBC Capital Markets said that the returns were not obvious. “The only positive byproduct of this project that would be anything other than environmental,” he said, “is that it might make Google managers and executives even prouder of the fact that they work there, and it may help retain key employees who think their goal is to do good in the world. But I’m really stretching.” [read full]

We still have a long way to come.

Shanghai’s SoHo

THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES’ Kelly Carter offers an astute and descriptive snapshot of Shanghai’s beourgeoning Suzhou Creek and M50 neighborhoods, which appear to be the churning epicenters of a new art scene [via China Digital Times]:

SHANGHAI — The black Mercedes-Benz sedan, shiny and new, begged for attention as it sat curbside in front of a dingy red, dilapidated, two-story apartment building, where laundry hung from clotheslines across weathered front doors.

Across the street Xin Fu made for a jarring juxtaposition. Smartly dressed in a snazzy vintage, black Chanel dress, fancy Wolford stockings and red suede designer handbag, as if going out for an evening on the town although it wasn’t even noon on a Saturday, she looked as out of place in Suzhou Creek as the unattended luxury car. Yet both symbolized what the area has become in recent years.”

[read full]

Decompressing, the Oregon Coast, and Home

TO BORROW THE WORDS of Alex Garland in his description of Ko Sahn Road, Canon Beach is, for us, a decompression chamber. Here we soak in misty ocean vistas as we reflect on our trip, discussing from a comfortable distance what it will be like to return home – to the organized days of school and work, to familiarity, and to the challenges that lay waiting on the back burner.

After camping for several nights, the basic comforts of a hotel room seem amazing to us: a shower that isn’t quarter-fed, actual pillows (not stuff bags filled with clothes) and clean sheets. We feel reintroduced to modern society.

Despite having become largely a vacation spot, Canon Beach has mysteriously (and thankfully) retained an authentically Northwest character. Nary a modern building can be found amid the salt-encrusted wooden guesthouses, pubs and shops; while the young traveler may feel a bit out of place among the mostly middle-aged crowd, the atmosphere is unpretentious and provides enough breathing room for people like us, who are just seeking a little downtime.

Here I write postcards to relatives, read and take in the last coastal sunset I will see for a long time. But after a couple days of slow living, we take a breath and decide it’s time to go.

***

We stop outside of Portland to see Nick’s sister’s family, and are given a delicious meal of ravioli before making the final haul. Passing through Portland’s arteries I relive experiences from a month ago: time spent driving aimlessly with my dad, long bicycle rides on my own. Halfway over the Columbia River we see a sign welcoming us to Washington, and all of it is swept into the past.

By the time we roll into Seattle, treated to the skyline as we drive up and away from Tukwila, the sky is transitioning from a burning pink to a cool, fizzling purple. I drop off Nick at his house, exchange a hearty man-hug, honk the horn and head down south.

Back in the suburbs I debate what to eat for dinner, guiltily enjoying the fact that for once I know exactly where I’m going. I know that both Paul’s and Ai’s teriyaki joints will be closed because it’s Sunday, but am sure that Ichi will be open. I pull in, order the usual from back in my high school days, and get it to go.

As I pass through the streets that divide the memories of my youth, I accept that this is where I am from. I feel a sense of connection, of unexpected pride for my hometown as my car fills with the smell of rice and spicy chicken, knowing that – for better or for worse – these are my roots.

The things that have changed in this city – the new buildings, the closed shops, the unfamiliar families where friends used to live – are reminders of the time that has elapsed, and of all the places I have been.

***

This concludes the Tour de Cascadia – thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Happy travels.


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