The computer situation is still dire today, but in a different way.
I got my own internet account this afternoon, and one of my major concerns from yesterday is now a non-issue. I had been wondering how I was going to get the research files I need up on the cloud; when I checked this morning I had uploaded around 30 MB of 3 GB total. But somehow when I got to work, the files were on the computer there. Both computers now say that everything is up to date. Miraculous, I tell you!
But, after those resolutions come new problems. I’m using a beautiful new Windows 8 machine, set up for a new student named Ren Dong. I’ve been installing programs, but have run into some problems because I have his PIN but not his password. Today, one of my labmates called him to get his password . . . . and he doesn’t remember it. Between that and my labmate GuoYang’s revelation that he had messed up the installation of Fortran on that machine so I can’t use the one feature of Abaqus that I need the most, we’re going to reinstall the operating system this weekend. Sigh.
I ate both lunch and dinner in the cafeteria. Seriously, I kind of think the best meals I’ve had on this trip so far have been in the Tsinghua cafeteria. Certainly if you calculate some sort of “deliciousness/元” measurement. Lunch was fried chicken (it didn’t even have bones in it!) with green peppers-and-egg, plus a surprisingly heaping serving of spicy shredded potato. Dinner was 麻辣香锅 (malaxiangguo), a bowl of self-selected meats and vegetables cooked in lots of hot and numbing spices. I didn’t particularly care for the chicken stomach (too chewy for my taste), but the rest of it was fantastic. Apparently Tsinghua is known for this dish!
After dinner, I biked home. Seriously, this bike has changed my life. I barely broke a sweat in either direction, and my commute is now 20 minutes. It also helped that yesterday’s rain meant clear skies today – not just clear as in sunny, but clear as in not polluted!
This picture isn’t of anything particularly beautiful, but I was trying to capture the look of the air. Through pollution, everything takes on a dull gray tint, like a bad picture that you fix by increasing the contrast. Today, all the colors were vibrant and the buildings glistened in the sun! It was like seeing pictures taken by a professional photographer after looking at the ones from your own point-and-shoot. Or wearing glasses for the first time – everything was just sharper and more impressive.
The bike ride has exciting (read: scary) moments but I’ve actually been surprised at how not terrified I am most of the time. I ride along two major roads for most of it, and that’s all fine. The intersections, though, are always a circus. Every single one reminds me of the scene in Mulan where the grandmother closes her eyes and walks across a busy street holding the “lucky cricket”, leaving a scene of destruction in her wake. Sometimes, though, I can’t quite tell if I’m the grandmother or one of the cart drivers . . .
Today I learned:
How to say the kind of Mexican I am (ethnically, not like a citizen of Mexico): 墨西哥裔人, not 墨西哥族.
How to specify the quantity of rice I want at the cafeteria: by the liang (两), or 50g. There are two words for the number 2 in Chinese – èr (二) and liǎng (两), and while I mastered the basics of when to use which one years ago, I have been corrected on exceptions to these rules three times in the past few days. One of these times was when ordering 100g of rice – according to the rules, it should be liǎng liǎng (两两), but they said you should really say èr liang (二两).