Friday, December 31, 2010

It *is* what it looks like

There's this hotel close to my house called the Schengen. It has the most unusual sculpture out front.

Every time I drive by it I think, "That can't be what it looks like..."

The other day I had the chance to go inside the hotel and if I had any doubt about the sculpture out front, the lobby decor makes everything perfectly clear.


Post Script: After seeing this post my Mom sent the following mail to the Schengen Hotel: "As an artist I'm interested in the sculpture outside your hotel and in the lobby. Could you tell me the name of the artist? I would like to know what his/her vision is for his/her work. I also would like his/her name, address and social security number."

As always, dear Readers, I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Traffic Jams and CDs

Traffic in Beijing is a nightmare.

The government estimates that 2,000 new cars hit the road every DAY. That means about 800,000 new cars joined the roads in 2010. That means I spend a lot of time at traffic lights looking at other people's license plates. Lately I've noticed a new phenomenon - the CD over the license plate trick.

Why would anyone do that, you might ask?

To avoid the traffic controls. The controls are based on the last digit of your license plate, so if your last digit is a 1 or a 6, you can't drive in the city on Wednesdays. 2s and 7s can't drive on Thursdays, and so on.

The idea is to take 20% of the cars off the roads every day of the week but guess what? It didn't work out that way. Lots of people like to have a license plate with the number 8 in it because they think it's lucky. So on the day the Lucky 8s are banned from the roads there is considerably less traffic for the rest of us.

File that under "To Talk About At Next Cocktail Party".

Some people find these traffic controls cramp their style so they simply cover the last digit of their license plate on the day they're not supposed to drive. A CD has apparently become the preferred medium. I have no idea why. If you do please leave me a comment.

I would think the police would pull over anyone who attempts this trick but based on the number of CDs I see every day, they don't.

On Dec. 24th the government instituted new measures that will reduce the number of new cars to 400,000 in 2011.

They should institute a crackdown on the people who cover their plates with CDs too. I would be happy to help out. If they would just give me a police woman hat and a note pad I could catch ten of these guys every day.

That's what I will be fantasizing about next time I'm stuck behind one of them at a red light.