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Looking back at '08 - 5 things no longer with us

Looking back at '08 - 5 things no longer with us Dec 24th, 2008 at 2:00PM: We lost quite a bit in 2008. Several old banks are gone, the value of your house is probably gone, and in the world of travel several things disappeared for good as well. I've listed 5 things no longer with us as we head into the new year. Come back in a few days to read my list of 5 things we gained in 2008, and keep your fingers crossed that things pick up a bit in 2009! Aloha Airlines In...

The Olympics finale: A great big Beijing inspired hugfest and might

The Olympics finale: A great big Beijing inspired hugfest and might Aug 25th, 2008 at 1:30PM: Hugs all around. If you're near someone give him or her a hug. If you're by yourself, just wrap your arms around yourself and squeeze. MMMMmmmm. By the end of the closing ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing, when the credits rolled in the U.S.'s broadcast version, I was once more feeling warm and fuzzy, just like I did at the end of the opening of the games. Again, I'm a real Pollyanna sometimes....

A Look Ahead at London 2012

A Look Ahead at London 2012 Aug 25th, 2008 at 11:30AM: The closing ceremonies of Beijing '08 were not quite as spectacular as the opening ceremonies. Not quite, but almost. There were still plenty of people wearing LED lights, drummers and acrobats climbing tall structures. London got a chance to do their "we're hosting the next Olympics" skit. It sucked in comparison to the other performances of the evening. There was some guy who looked like an...

The Birds Nest 360

The Birds Nest 360 Aug 22nd, 2008 at 1:30PM: I've seen a lot of photos of this years Beijing Olympics, but none of them impressed me as much as this massive panoramic photo made by Finnish photographer Kari Kuukka. You'll need to be patient when the photo loads, on my fast connection it still took almost a minute. Once the counter reaches 100%, use your mouse to drag the picture around, for a 360 degree image of the men's 100 meter finals....

Olympics inspired gift idea. Children's art is a big hit

Olympics inspired gift idea. Children's art is a big hit Aug 21st, 2008 at 9:30AM: When Meredith Vieria from the Today Show was given a tour of the Olympic Village, specifically the housing of the Americans, trap shooter bronze medalist Corey Cogdell showed Vieria a painting in her room that was created by a child in China. A framed picture of a child's artwork was given to each Olympic athlete as a room decoration. It's theirs to keep whether they medal or not. Vieira was...

Do the Chinese think Westerners look all alike?

Aug 20th, 2008 at 4:45PM: This video seems to suggest so. In the West, there's some who think Asians, especially those from China, Japan, and Korea, look pretty much the same. There's even a famous website that challenges you to tell the difference. But perhaps less-than-honed cross-border facial recognition is a universal problem. It seems in China, Westerners all look the same too. In this clip, a BBC reporter is...

Behind the Olympics: Anyone else desperately trying to buy tickets?

Behind the Olympics: Anyone else desperately trying to buy tickets? Aug 19th, 2008 at 5:20PM: So I'm some two years behind the curve when it comes to buying Beijing Olympic tickets. There's been several phases of ticket sales, and suffice to say, finding one now is about as easy as finding a good surf spot in the Sahara. I've already come across eBay auctions of closing ceremony tickets for $20,000, granted the poster was nice enough to offer a "buy one get one free" sale. If you're still...

Olympic Fever in Hong Kong?

Olympic Fever in Hong Kong? Aug 19th, 2008 at 5:00PM: Though it has been officially part of China for 11 years now, Hong Kong's athletes marched into the Games under their own flag. Beijing's goodwill gesture of holding the equestrian events in Hong Kong was welcomed, but Olympic fever has seemed slightly muted in the former British colony. Yes, Hong Kongers aren't as excited about the Olympics and the success of team China as mainlanders are, but...

Just how does your national anthem go?

Just how does your national anthem go? Aug 19th, 2008 at 9:00AM: As of Friday, 27 different nations had won gold medals. That means 27 different national anthems have been played in honor of the winning athletes. The New York Times put together a complete list of all 27 anthems, including lyrics, history and music files so you can sing and listen to them to your heart's content. Here are links to five of them: China: March of the Volunteers USA: The Star...

Olympics inspired congratulatory bouquets-- Chinese style

Olympics inspired congratulatory bouquets-- Chinese style Aug 18th, 2008 at 3:00PM: Perhaps watching the Olympics has inspired you to congratulate the athletes in your life--or someone else with a spiffy accomplishment. Here's an idea that has an Olympics and Chinese-flavored twist. You could give the person a bouquet of flowers with Chinese symbolism. Jim Wells wrote a post on Flora2000's blog that outlines just what you need. You've probably noticed that the bouquets...

Beijing's Olympic-Caliber Parties

Beijing's Olympic-Caliber Parties Aug 18th, 2008 at 11:00AM: Hong Kong and Shanghai have long been the capitals of cool in the Sinosphere. But Beijing's trend-setters are trying to take advantage of the international attention brought by the Olympics to earn their own spot on Asia's glamor map. Apparently, they have been somewhat successful. Outrageously posh parties are taking place all over the capital of the Middle Kingdom. The ironically named...

Behind the Olympics: An architectural tour of the venues

Behind the Olympics: An architectural tour of the venues Aug 18th, 2008 at 9:30AM: If you're watching the Olympics on TV, you're quite familiar with the over-the-top athletic venues here. To say they boast a "wow" factor is an understatement. These testaments to China's growing architectural prowess (or at least their deepening wallets, as most of the designs are by foreign architects) are sure to be tourist destinations long after the end of these Games. But if you're a bit...

Behind the Olympics: Hidden Beijing or what NBC won't tell you

Behind the Olympics: Hidden Beijing or what NBC won't tell you Aug 15th, 2008 at 9:00AM: Chances are, the average Olympics-goer in Beijing will walk away from the trip thinking China's capital is some blue-sky traffic-free English-friendly capitalist paradise. Well, the capitalist part is no doubt true. But the trouble with Olympic tourism is that by the nature of such events, it's hard to get past the veneer painted on by the host country. I spent last year reporting from China,...

Beijing Weathers the Weather and Pollution

Beijing Weathers the Weather and Pollution Aug 15th, 2008 at 8:00AM: On August 8th, while the opening ceremonies were in progress, Chinese meteorologists had their eyes on the sky. In the days before the Olympics, Beijing assembled its own Olympic-caliber weather team, choosing the cream of the crop from a pool of over 200 meteorologists. At one point on the evening of the ceremonies, the chief of these weather superstars, Guo Hu, ordered rockets to be fired to...

Olympic watches (and much more) at Silk Street market in Beijing

Olympic watches (and much more) at Silk Street market in Beijing Aug 14th, 2008 at 10:30AM: Last night, one of the news commentators during the men's gymnastics All-Around competition mentioned going to the Silk Market in Beijing and seeing watches with Yang Wei's face on them. Yang Wei is the men's gold medal winner for the All-Around and the Chinese gymnastic darling. The commentator (I forgot which one) mentioned that the Silk Market, now referred to as Silk Street, is his favorite...

Behind the Olympics: Rising stars to follow

Behind the Olympics: Rising stars to follow Aug 14th, 2008 at 9:00AM: Michael Phelps. Tyson Gay. Shawn Johnson. These Olympians have become household names, and they're getting their share of the airtime, no doubt about that. But there's a whole cast of characters with equally captivating narratives that unfortunately have been dwarfed in their shadows. In wrestling, there's Laura Flessel-Colovic of France, who's perhaps better known by her nickname, "the wasp."...

China busing in government-trained "cheer squads" to fill empty seats at Olympics

China busing in government-trained Aug 13th, 2008 at 3:40PM: Just like the Oscars have "seat-fillers" to hide the empty seats when people go to the bathroom, the Chinese are busing in state-trained "cheer squads" to fill the surprising numbers of empty seats at the Olympics. Dressed in identical bright yellow t-shirts, the cheer squads are meant to improve the Olympic atmosphere and avoid embarrassing television shots of all the no-shows at the Games. As...

Pursuing the American Dream in China

Pursuing the American Dream in China Aug 13th, 2008 at 11:00AM: Because the Olympics are in China, you've probably noticed an increase of stories and news segments with a China focus occupying the airways. For example, The Today Show on NBC is looking at China from a variety of angles. One story, presented Monday, illustrated just how fluid the world's economy can be and how there is an interchange between cultures as a result. For example, if you head to...

Behind the Olympics: Sports you'll regret you missed

Behind the Olympics: Sports you'll regret you missed Aug 13th, 2008 at 10:00AM: With the Beijing Olympics in full swing, you're probably getting more than your daily suggested dose of swimming (how about that from-behind finish in men's 4x100 relay, eh?), gymnastics (bummer to that girl who twisted her ankle minutes before her event), basketball (China got schooled two days in a row), and beach volleyball (playing with the lenses out of your sunglasses is apparently the new...

Visa Wins Big at Olympics

Visa Wins Big at Olympics Aug 12th, 2008 at 12:30PM: Visa wanted to use the Olympics to get its foot firmly in the door in Beijing. The results are good so far. The credit card giant has been almost as dominant as the US men's basketball squad. Visa started preparations well before The Games. They helped over 200,000 merchants become Visa-ready and installed nearly 90,000 ATMs country-wide. So who is plopping down the plastic in China's largely...

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