Monday, September 29, 2008

Autumn has arrived

A month into the new job and everything is going quite well. It is different to Plan with a slightly different way of working: more collaboratively and also with greater importance on deadlines. So I'm adjusting: unfortunately it often comes down to a matter of quality, and if you want to do a good job on a project, then you need to put the time in -and it seems like a good idea to try to do a good job, especially in the first month :)

The Paralympics finished and the cars returned to the streets (for 2 months a system was in place to reduce the cars by half). Well to be more precise, the cars returned to the pavements as much as they did the streets, since parking in Beijing is as unregulated as the global financial system, it seems. As in, in a few places there are cones/barriers/traffic wardens which stop you from parking but everywhere else is an option (bar the highways, though even those often have cars parked on them!). There is the odd street where Beijing tried to use meters, but they are now in disrepair -more successful are the parking attendants who watch a few hundred metres of street and whom you pay to park on their patch. I am not sure if the profit from this goes to the government or whoever owns the building complex by that street.

This is a major reason why so many people chose to drive: because a) parking is almost always free (or very cheap in an office car park) and b) you will find a parking spot somewhere. Which brings me back to my original point: half as many people park on pavements as they do on the road itself. I am not sure if they are allowed to, but no-one seems to stop them. I noticed this recently as i live at the end of a subway line (that did not exist before the Olympics, so there was no comparison) and so a lot of people drive to this station and then take the subway... the station has no parking, so all the side streets are packed.

In reality, it is just like London probably was before the extension of restricted parking to cover miles and miles of streets anywhere near anywhere you want to park and the influx of car parks everywhere. I suppose that does prevent some people from driving, but not many going on the packed car parks and scouting that goes on, as cars cruise side streets looking for somewhere unrestricted to park for free (and then walk miles to get the destination!)

Other exciting moments in the last month was seeing the mountains from the window of the new office 2 days in a row (for some reason, even after the cars hit the streets again, there was still several days without pollution -maybe the longer term pollution reduction measures are working?) and discovering Ricky Gervais on youtube. Wow, I miss decent comedy and discovered that NBC have clips of SNL (Saturday Night Live -the popular US evening news piss-take show) available to watch for free; even when I am not in the USA I can watch them, unlike all the UK channels that are restricted to UK viewers.

Mid Autumn Day occured a couple of weeks back: a national festival that is not particularly exciting (unless one likes eating the incredibly stodgy moon cakes) but does heral in autumn and the need to start wearing trousers and even to dig out those sweaters from 6 months ago!

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