Friday, December 24, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

a small sideways tree

finding a quiet spot
west lake is still, so i see
this life reflected

chinese nationals don't seem to notice anymore


fancy hip hotel
communist propaganda
a contradiction?


the requisite classic picture of west lake

who prevails at Hangzhou wan song academy


yang mei versus me
face off between a scholar
and troublemaker

west lake in december

a warm winter day
west lake is filled with people
forgetting they're here


i know things are bad
on a week without haikus
no space to ponder


1.3 billion
scrambling to get to first place
get me outta here

porcini mushrooms in China

chinese porcinis!
called bovine liver fungus
can't wait to try them

hunting for gems

a hidden corner
in midst of city bustle
happy folk market

the seagulls of Kunming

seagulls from russia
flock here in winter
paradise is relative

Friday, December 10, 2010

winter in China

it's sad to return
to find that a young woman
died from PCP

a man with lung mass
surgeons refused biopsy
couldn't get treatment

folks die of stigma
in summer of the corporate state
winter of compassion


Kunming Third People's Hospital: a crash course in HIV medicine

22 year olds
in charge of 2k (HIV!) patients
a little scary


soy kawaii

magical soymilk
happy loving studying
can't get more asian


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

hong kong dim sum


chillin' with old dudes
better than hotel buffet
real hong kong dim sum

happy memories
of my father hanging out
for hours, relaxed

turnip cake, pumpkin
fresh handmade chewy chang fen
fat buddha belly


the urban monk (sounds better than nun)

5 am yoga
facing the hong kong skyline
stillness and movement


Monday, December 6, 2010

biz classy!

After innumerable long-haul flights, I am flying business class for the first time in my life.

Check out my feet, lounging in a chaise recliner with my laptop, facing the snack and wine bar with sandwiches and dim sum.

The airline staff and security people acted shocked and had to check my boarding pass twice to allow me to enter the special biz class lines (much shorter with nicer staff) and the special first/biz class lounge- and they were all Asian women about my age.

It's really weird to be a part of this ridiculously elite group of people (not just able to travel internationally but to be able to pay a lot extra to travel comfortably). I feel like I'm in some satire film, like the vagrant who somehow snuck into this world of rich people and am pretending to fit in. I will enjoy this fun adventure while I can!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

garage remodel adventure!

check out our before, during and after photos, transforming our water damaged garage into a studio-office-fun-house-she-cave!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

forest frog oviducts

coconut juice sweets
with forest frog's oviducts
what the hell is this?

phoenix rising in beijing

out of the Wuhan ashes...

tofu, shrooms galore
organic greens, local farms
not cooked in pork fat

... Wow!

generic shop

tell it like it is
don't even try to stand out
fire the marketer

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mid-Autumn Festival at Wuhan airport

stormy afternoon
ramen, moon cake, juice for lunch
watching planes take off

a bird in Wuhan

amidst soot and noise
a bird issues an urgent song
remember, i'm here

the inconvenient truth

in Wuhan twilight
tree leaves collect toxic dust
heavy red sun sets

street scene in Wuhan

[above: the street scene right outside my cheap hotel. Note the Wuhan Dude look at the trunk of one of the turquoise taxis: t-shirt or tank pulled up to the nipples and belly hanging out. It's very popular these days.]

heat index 110
i can feel my brain melting
trapped in hotel room

Wuhan alleyway

through an alleyway
i saw the rest of China
crumbling concrete walls

one-room families
young boys smoking cigarettes
grandmas sorting trash

amidst smoke and stink
irrepressibly human
people laugh and play

Friday, September 17, 2010

squat n knit

waiting for small shifts
in this giant human mass
gives meaning to time

from Inner Mongolia Prairie regards

mongolian beef
a gift from the TB ward
dead weight in my bag

haiku pen

good time! lies run sprints
but the truth runs marathons
haiku from a pen

(watch out: i found the cute stuff store in my hotel's 'hood in Wuhan!)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

on a stick

street food in Wuhan
sweating over a hot grill
all for 20 cents

warmly greeting from Wuhan

Wuhan Infectious Disease Hospital

i am super squirrel
storing it all in my cheeks
leaping tree to tree

here i come to save the day
PPTs are on their way

(too bad squirrels are mostly ignored)

Hangzhou No. 6 People's Hospital HIV department

after a workshop
Hangzhou 6 HIV crew
i'm the one with teeth

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hangzhou traffic at 6 am

rainy september
one of the four furnaces
Hangzhou wet and hot

noise never ceases
men yelling at phones
cars honking at 4 am

China is busy
creating work for work's sake
taxing the spirit

he cha guan: afternoon tea

a hot cup of longjin tea
eating lotus seed
births some interesting talk

amateur scholars at the classical west lake in Hangzhou

my cousin QingQing and me
wannabe poets
admiring fall lotus patch

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

my mobile office

I know that I am traveling too much when I have a specific "office desk" at SFO. You can't beat the North Food Court (in front of Emporio Rulli and before the security check point)... it's got a working electrical outlet, free wifi, a nice big clean table, decent chairs, snacks nearby, and is reasonably quiet.

I am sitting here now, typing this up with the bluetooth keyboard you see here. I took the photo with my iphone, which is why it's missing on the table (hopefully i won't get yet another iphone stolen!). Very handy... everything I need for hyper-american-productivity with less than one minute of set-up.

tomato jungle

It's a jungle out there, folks. Here's what grew out of those tiny little seeds we saved from farmer's market salads last year...

One of the vegetable beds our tomatoes are growing in (the one that is hidden in this photo by the tomato super-growth) was built by Young Whan this spring!

saving and growing tomato seeds

We're already saving seeds from this year's tomatoes in preparation for next year's round. You can see our seed baths next to our garden's tomato basket in the photo. It's super easy and fun!

Here's how to grow your own tomatoes from tomatoes you eat:

1. use heirloom seeds: if you can, make sure you have an heirloom tomato. That means that the seeds are fertile and tends to be related to its parent plant (which you are eating), plus you'll be preserving the natural tomato genetic diversity... and growing super tasty tomatoes. Hybrid tomatoes like sun golds, sweet hundreds/millions, and early girls do not have seeds that will produce a tomato exactly like the parent tomato, though they are mighty fine tomatoes anyway, and worthy of buying seeds for every few years.

2. pull out seeds and put them in a water bath: before you chew and swallow the tomato piece, use your fingers or a spoon to pull out the little seeds (avoid pulp) and put them in a little cup to allow them to ferment in a water bath for 2-3 days.

3. strain and dry the seeds: pour the water with seeds in it into a fine mesh strainer (or cheese cloth), and then allow them to dry as is or wipe them onto a paper towel to dry

4. save for next season: once dry, store the seeds in a clean, dry and dark location. I usually pull them off the paper towel and put them into little plastic baggies with labels (when you have 30+ tomato seed varieties it can be easy to mix them up if you're not careful!)... and then store them in a closed glass jar in a closet.

5. get ready for magic next season! I usually start my tomato seedlings indoors in February, transplant them to larger pots in late March, and then plant them outside in mid to late May. Last year my tomato plants were small and purple and spindly in March and April... and finally after fussing with their light, water, etc., I realized that they didn't have enough nutrients in the soil I used to sprout them in. They promptly grew into a tomato jungle after I added organic tomato/vegetable food. And voila! After that initial scare, we now have a wonderful bounty of delicious heirloom tomatoes every day! It's amazing how responsive plants can be.

totally tomato!

Tomato season is finally here, about half-a-month late because of prolonged spring and strangely cool summer in the East Bay.

This is the year of the Great Tomato Experiment: I saved 20+ varieties of heirloom tomato seeds from tomatoes I ate last year from our local farmer's market and grew 15 varieties of tomatoes in our garden. (Props to Happy Boy, Lucero, Tomatero and Surly Girl farms - sorry, didn't know that last farm's name so I made a name up in honor of the slightly cantankerous woman who works the market.) People tend to be mighty impressed when they find out our tomato jungle originated from tiny seeds from last year's salads, but lemme tell ya - it's a lot easier than it looks. See my next post for instructions.

I tried to choose tomatoes with lots of color diversity... it's my way of being a graphic-artist-garden-nerd. I've also decided that cherry tomatoes do especially well in our short growing season, plus they pack a flavor punch in a small package. What you see in the photo here includes pretty much what we're harvesting every day now in early September:

-currant tomatoes: tiny orange-red bright sweet little thangs
-super snow white: lemon-white sweet cherries
-green grape: yellow-green when mature, a very gourmet umame, almost porcini mushroom taste to it!
-black cherry: a deep purple cherry with a mellow sweet taste
-isis candy: a very deeply sweet cherry tomato
-sun golds: bright orange hybrid with a complex but still clean flavor, and an amazingly productive plant - we're getting hundreds of these tomatoes!
-sweet million: bright, clean red cherry tomato flavor, also a worthy hybrid (that means you have to buy seeds from people who especially hybridize two parent tomatoes to create the sun gold and sweet million seeds)
-moskovich heirloom: a regular-sized red tomato on the smallish side, but with an amazingly bright and complex umame. This is our favorite regular-sized heirloom tomato.

Monday, July 26, 2010

galavanting in France and Spain - July 2010

Young Whan and I had a wonderful time at Plum Village in the Dordogne region of rural-Central France.

... and Paris!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

fast food takes over China

Hallelujah, my diarrhea has run out of steam!

Back to eating all sorts of funky things...

I am trying out this new way of posting to my blog via email... This
helps me bypass the web restrictions while I am traveling in China,
and allows me to post on the go from my iPhone. Boy, technology sure
is cool.

This post is dedicated to the Chinese Colonel (doesn't he look Asian?
Different from the american colonel, right?) and it's legions of fans
that line up to get jook (rice porridge) and yo tao (oily Chinese
fried dough sticks) every day. There's a KFC on almost every corner of
a Chinese city these days!

There are also scores of cute fast food shops popping up every where
in China. They are distinctly Chinese: or example, i had a lychee
seaweed passionfruit drink at an adorable place called Happy Lemon in

Hello, massive obesity epidemic!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

when you're sliding into home, and your pants are full of foam...

...diarrhea, diarrhea!

I have been battling some serious loose stool and bad gas cramps for the last 3 days nicely summarized by this version of the diarrhea song:
"When you're walking like CP3O
and your crap looks like radicchio
Diarrhea, Diarrhea"

I should have known that eating 3 yuan (that's 40 US cents a bowl) street food throughout the weekend would result in this mess!

I suspect that the following cold noodle dish near the Taoist Golden Temple may have been source of the culprit microorganism. It's supposed to not be spicy, but you may notice how red the sauce is! Food is *spicy* in Yunnan. Perhaps I got too brave and felt so Chinese that I allowed myself to eat raw, not-recently-cooked cold street dishes. I don't even want to imagine how long and where these noodles and pickled veggies may have been sitting before I ate them.

After 2 days of pain and waking up with a fever yesterday, I decided it was time for some cipro antibiotic for perhaps ETEC (traveler's e coli diarrhea). When I told my work colleagues about this, they all laughed at me. "Cipro is useless! It won't do a thing against the bacteria in China!"

Bad news: since people randomly take antibiotics on their own from any old pharmacy on the street (without prescription, of course), there's a ton of bacterial resistance. That's why cipro might be useless here; it has been widely available and unregulated, so resistance to this medication is rampant. I still have loose stool after 2 doses. Hmmm.

I'll see where this goes... single case study on the use of cipro against traveler's diarrhea in China.

Hopefully this won't happen (I'm still working full force while here!):
"Now you think you're feeling better
but you keep on getting wetter:
Diarrhea, diarrhea....!"

P.S. You can check out more lovely renditions of the diarrhea song here:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

hooray! i'm blogging in China!

I made it to Kunming! As you can see in the photo above, Kunming is a large urban center with loads of people and concrete. If you squint through the smog, you can see some mountains in the background. I'm hoping to get to one of those hills this weekend. It's May Day (International Labour Day, Worker's Day) in China, so I don't have formal work duties on Monday. This is great because I have been working my butt off over the last several days (and in the weeks leading up to this trip). Yay for 3-day weekends!

Michael Pollan would approve of my breakfasts in China! Almost all of what I eat has a single whole food ingredient: bok choy greens, snap peas, soybeans/tofu, watermelon, honeydew, some fruit I don’t know the name of which has white flesh and small black seeds that come out in my poo.

I am slowly settling into life here. The downside of jet lag is that I get up each morning exactly at 5 am, and since I am going to bed at midnight because I am working late at night, that means 5 hours of sleep each night. It's not quite enough for me. The upside is that I have enough time before I go to the hospital to do sitting meditation for 30 minutes, yoga for one hour, and sometimes 30 minutes of deep relaxation thrown in. It's a great way to start my day, and I think it keeps me grounded amidst all the work intensity.

Above is one of the Yunnan special treats: rose petal cakes. It consists of dry flakey dough with fragrant sweet rose petals inside. The best part is that I bought it from a bakery next door to the apartment I will be moving into tomorrow called RAMBO Bread Works. GRRRRrrr…

In terms of work, it has already been interesting, rewarding, and a big (though good) challenge on this trip. I don’t have any pictures of me at work (since I am often running around at the hospital), but perhaps later.

I enjoy this work. I am tired from my 12 hour days, but this work definitely feels meaningful in a big way. I saw a bunch of patients yesterday, and feel more grounded to be connected with patients (who really put up with a lot here, as witnessed when the 27 year old man totally discolored and wasted from his advanced liver disease, TB in his lungs and belly, and another painful disease – MAC- smiled and shook my hand and told me how grateful he was to be examined even though it hurt like hell), and also happy that I can offer concrete, practical and real help to the clinicians. There are of course internal politics and power issues I need to navigate, so it will yet to be seen what we can accomplish. I have already a list of concrete interventions that I think we can help with, including big things like task-shifting to community organizations and small things like hand sanitizer. It's great to see it all coming together in a real, tangible way.

This Chinglish bag from my hotel room contained the Ethernet cable I’m using right now to tunnel to my blog (boy, that was an interesting challenge!). It says how I feel sometimes: while the internet miraculously connects me to you from around the globe and allows me to do this international work, it is also the “Non-Gift” that keeps me from being fully present to my environment. With that said, I’m going to upload this post, turn off my computer, and go out to explore the May Day parade and the temples of Kunming!