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December 19, 2014     The Catalina Islander
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Watson From page 1 sports team checking in. They were all about high school age so I assumed they were in Beijing playing a local team. Just as I was about halfway across the lobby, a young girl stepped into the middle of the room right next to me and yelled out "Yao! San! Yao! Jiu!" (the numbers "l-3-1-9")--my P.O. box number in Avalon! I'm sure she was probably just yelling her room number to her friends, but what are the odds? I like to think it was the Island let- ting me know she's still there, waiting for me when I get back. Another curious thing involves my cell phone battery. About a year ago, I got a lemon for a smartphone that I have to keep on the charger most of the day be- cause the battery drains dead within only a few hours whether I'm using the phone or not. Even when my phone is turned OFF on Catalina, such as when I go into my job in the Casino projec- tion room, the battery drains within a few hours. Since I had already Jim Watson Columnist returned my first phone for the same reason and the replacement did the same thing, I threw my arms up in the air and just decided to live with it. Now that I'm in China, howev- er, my phone now goes for DAYS Mysterious Island columnist Jim Watson experienced cultural shock during his travels in Beijing. (Photo by Jim Watson) without having to be recharged. I have no idea why and I'm wondering if my battery will go back to its old tricks once I get home again. It can't be because of the power source. After all, electrons are electrons anywhere you go, anywhere in the universe. Unless there's something mysterious about electrons on Cata- lina .... The Chinese $mithsonian Speaking of myster- ies, the mysteries of Chi- nese history and their own take on it were laid before me on a recent trip to the National Museum of China, their equivalent to our Smithsonian. Like the Smithsonian, it's im- possible to cover in a single day, so I contented myself with "Ancient China" and a must-see: a tempo- rary exhibit on "China's Rejuvena- tion," essentially the Chinese view on their turbulent history over the past 150 years or so leading up to the present day. They pulled no punches, nor should they have I suppose. The rhetoric was stinging with the British taking most of the brunt because of their role in the Opium Wars and subsequent occupation of China for decades. Copious newsreel footage and still photographs portrayed the raggedy, starving children of that era eating meager handfuls of rice gruel. These scenes were accom- panied by footage and stills of wealthy Westerners being pulled around in rickshaws and feasting at posh restaurants on beef, duck and pork while swilling fine West- ern scotch and brandy. With the Revolution of 19ll, there followed a long period of violence and internal warfare. The Chinese people went from the fire into the frying pan when the Japanese invaded in the early 1930s, the "highlight" of which was the Nanjing Massacre in 1937. The centerpiece of the exhibit was a large "shrine" honoring Chairman Mao, who is, of course, revered here. (He appears on all currency denominations, for ex- ample). That being said, they were somewhat candid with the strife of the 1950s and the Cultural Revo- lution and the troubles and "chal- lenges" that it posed. Interestingly, unless I missed it, neither the Korean War nor the Vietnam War was mentioned at any length. The exhibit ended with a very extensive section on China's cur- rent economic boom and advances in their technology and manufac- turing, something which is highly evident right out the front doors of the museum. The Chinese are very proud of this current era and, I must say, it concluded the very tragic and depressing history of the exhibit on a high note. Overall, it was one of the finest museum's I've ever seen. As with travel to any foreign destination, there's been a number of surprises here in terms of what I expected versus what I have ex- perienced. The first one is tipping. Apparently that practice hasn't made it to China. Yet. I gave up on the tipping thing after two attempts. The first time was when I tried to tip the taxi driver that brought me into central Shanghai. I tried paying him a tip of a couple of yuan on a 30 yuan ride, but he looked at me like I was cra- zy, as did the taxi driver in Beijing who first brought me to my hotel. Why would anyone want to give someone more money than what they are asking, they no doubt wondered. I got another cultural awaken- ing when I tried to order a cup of tea with my breakfast at a little greasy chopstick joint near my school. Chinese like drinking tea, right? Well, apparently not when you're ordering pork noodle soup for breakfast. After ordering, I asked for a cup of tea with my meal and the girl behind the coun- ter looked at me like I was crazy. The ultimate jolt, however, came when I ordered lunch at the little noodle house in the lobby of my hotel. I knew from doing my home- work beforehand that rice is not exactly a common dish in the northern parts of China. In the States, we view rice and China as two inextricably linked things, like peanuts and beer or Amos and Andy. Further supporting this idea is the fact that the Chinese word for rice, fan, is also the general word used for "food."But we Americans often form our opinions of other cultures based on what we observe from the immigrants from those countries once they are in the United States. Most Chinese im- migrants to the U.S. and Canada originally came from southern China where rice is king, so we have formed our impressions of Chinese culture accordingly. Dear Catalina Island residents: Water rationing on Catalina Island has been extremely successful. We want to thank you for all your water conservation and rationing efforts. While already having some of the best water-use practices in the state, you responded when asked to cut back even more, and by working together, we have been effective in reducing our water use. Since Stage 2 Mandatory Water Conservation and Rationing began in August, we have reduced our water use by 35 percent, even with a 16-percent increase in visitors to the island. We conserved 43.5 acre-feet of water fit for drinking-that is equivalent to water supplied for the months of September and October. We understand and appreciate the difficulty that additional water-usage reductions places on customers. Working together and complying with Stage 2 during these extreme drought conditions will benefit our entire community. Thank you for all your continued water conservation and rationing efforts. If you have questions, please call our dedicated Catalina Island customer support line at 1-800-367-8851 or visit our web page at sce.com/catalina. For water conservation tips, visit Save Our Water's website at saveourh2o.org Sincerely, Ron Hite District Manager Ronald Garcia Local Public Affairs Region Manager Estimado residente de Catalina Island" El racionamiento del agua en Catalina Island ha side todo un 0xito. Oueremos agradecerle por todos sus esfuerzos de conservacion y racionamiento del agua. Pese a que en la isla ya tenemos algunas de las mejores prcticas del estado en materia de use del agua, usted respondi6 cuando era necesario reducir el consume aQn ms y, colaborando, hemos Iogrado reducir nuestro consume de agua. Desde la activaci6n en agosto de la Fase 2 del Plan de Conservaci6n y Racionamiento Obligatorios del Agua, heroes reducido nuestro consume en un 35 per ciento, incluso con un aumento de116% en la cantidad de visitantes a la isla. Ahorramos 43.5 acres-pie de agua potable, una cantidad que equivale al suministro de aoua durante los meses de septiembre y octubre. Entendemos la dificultad que la reducci6n adicional al consume de agua presenta a los usuarios. Si colaboramos y cumplimos las pautas de la Fase 2 durante esta sequia extrema podremos beneficiar a toda nuestra comunidad. Gracias per sus continues esfuerzos de conservaci6n y racionamiento del agua. Si tiene alguna pregunta, no dude en Ilamar a nuestra linea de apoyo al usuario de Catalina Island al 1-800-367-8851 o visite nuestro sitio web en sce.com/catalina. Para consejos que le permitirn conservar agua, visite el sitio web de Save Our Water en saveourh2o.org. Atentamente, fz.,_.- Ron Hite Gerente de distrito Rowb V. Gra Ronald Garc[a Gerente regional de asuntos pt)blicos locales SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LleD00son ° An EDISON INTERNATIONAL® Company © 2014 Southern California Edison. All rights reserved. We even have the idiom in the U.S. of not wanting or willing to take some given action "for all the rice in China," do we not? So I ordered my spicy chicken soup from the waitress in my ho- tel's restaurant and thought a small bowl of white rice might compli- ment it nicely. She looked at me like I was crazy. NEXT WEEK: THE WAN- DERING JIM. 6 i Friday, December 19, 2014 THE CATALINA ISLANDER