Behai Park Wildlife

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Orange cat relaxing on manhole cover
Felis catus
Behai Park, Beijing, 2008-04-18

Wanted: A Course in Pidgin Mandarin

Friday, April 18th, 2008

One thing this trip to Beijing has brought out is just how useful it would be to speak even a little Mandarin here, even if one can’t reasonably converse or understand spoken Mandarin. Maybe a week’s worth of basic vocabulary and phrases:

  • Yes
  • No
  • I don’t speak Chinese.
  • Cell phone
  • Too Expensive
  • No meat
  • Duck
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Rice
  • Noodles
  • Water
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Diet Coke
  • How much?
  • Skim Milk
  • Hello
  • Goodbye
  • Thank you
  • Not now
  • Maybe later
  • I don’t know
  • I understand
  • Turn right
  • Turn left
  • You’re going the wrong way
  • Down the sidewalk!
  • Oh my God I’m going to die and I still haven’t seen the giant pandas!
  • etc.


Beijing Day 2

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Today I spent doing a lot of the standard tourist things in Beijing: The Forbidden City, Beihai Park, Hutongs, and Jianshan Park; and the most interesting thing I noticed while doing this is that Beijing is not a tourist city.

Even in the Forbidden City, Caucasians were greatly outnumbered by Asians (all Chinese as near as I could tell). After I left the Forbidden City, it was over an hour before I saw another Caucasian and that infrequency repeated until I got to the Jade Islet late in the day. There were several tour groups wandering around the Hutongs, but they were all Chinese.

This did mean I stuck out more than I’m accustomed to, and was a target for every single person making their living off tourists: waitresses trying to lure me into tea shops, vendors hawking water bottles, “Rolex” salesmen, and rickshaw drivers looking for a fare. These were the most persistent. They’d follow me down the street, and just as one would give up, the next would jump in. You think they might have realized that I could not have possibly gotten halfway down the block without already refusing half a dozen of their competitors. I’m not sure why they thought I’d be different, but maybe they were desperate. There were hundreds of them, and not many potential customers (though most of the people I’ve seen actually riding in rickshaws are Chinese.)

#405 and 406 in Huntington Beach Wetlands

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Before I get on the plane to China I thought I’d try to catch up on recent birding events, since hopefully even with Beijing’s notoriously poor birding and my inability to recruit a local guide, I’ll pick up quite a few species I’ve not seen elsewhere.

Saturday, April 5, I woke up at 5:00 A.M. to get out to Huntington Beach at 6:00. The occasion was the quarterly bird census at the Huntington Beach Wetlands Center. This is about 100 acres of mostly salt panne habitat along Pacific Coast 1, mixed in with industrial plants, housing, and roads. Somehow several large and small parcels have been saved from the sprawling development of Huntington Beach, and the hope is to save more. Restoration projects are scheduled planned to improve the habitat, so we’re counting the birds to track the effects of this eventual work. Plans are to dig a channel to flood some of the areas starting this September. Censuses have been ongoing for about a year and a half now to establish a baseline to measure the success against.

My team of four people (me + Tom Dixon, Pat Cabe, and Dick Cabe) covered the first three parts of Magnolia Marsh. This is a contiguous rectangle divided by habitat into zones 1, 2, and 3. Zone 1 is a narrow riparian strip along Pacific Coast 1. Zone 2 is mostly salt panne in the middle of the plot, and zone 3 turns from the centerline of the levee, southwest to the border of the salt panne. A small canal borders Zone 3 parallel to Pacific Coast 1, but was not included in our territory. Other teams covered zones 4 through 19, including several areas not usually open to the public.

Magnolia Marsh along Pacific Coast 1 and Magnolia Street


California Ground Squirrel

Monday, April 14th, 2008

California Ground Squirrel, Spermophilus beecheyi
William R. Mason Regional Park, 2008-04-11
California Ground Squirrel

A New Printer?

Monday, April 14th, 2008

My HP LaserJet 2200dn seems to have given up the ghost. It is reporting media-jam-error even though there’s no apparent media-jam. I suspect a broken sensor of some kind. At this point my options are to take it in for repair or replace it. It’s a tad more than five years old; and while I’ve seen printers last longer than this, not all do. So two questions:

  1. Does anyone know a reliable HP repair shop in or around Irvine?
  2. If I do replace it, what should I get?

Here’s what I’m looking for in a printer: