this morning while waiting for the bus i overheard some guys talking about their kids getting sick recently. when one kid gets sick, the whole class gets sick, and classrooms become empty while hospitals fill up. there are so many children out with disease that hospitals don't have enough room and you need to know somebody (guanxi) in order to get one. of course, parents get frantic when it comes to their only child, and want to admit their child for hospital care even if it's just a cold. being that this is china and china is pretty filthy, i'm not surprised there's an epidemic of sickness every winter. but in some way i feel like this is a good thing. back home in the US, children (and now more and more adults) are allergic to all sorts of strange things. maybe if they had more robust immune systems, this might not happen. maybe being too clean isn't the best. but being too dirty isn't that good either.

i went bagless today after realizing yesterday that with my autumn/winter coat i have enough pockets that i can forgo my usual bag. things i brought with me: panasonic ZS20 camera, mp3 player, and package of tissue. i didn't carry my umbrella because it wasn't raining (just a bit of morning fog), but i carried my insulated tumbler (if i wanted to, i could've conspicuously tucked that in my jacket pocket).

instead of waiting for the medium bus (not even sure if it came today), i climbed onboard the large bus when i saw shirley getting on. she had already sat next to somebody else, but i sat in the empty row next to her and we chatted a little bit. she asked if i went to chongqing, because she noticed i was gone from work early on saturday. "i didn't leave early, i never came in," i revealed. i asked if she went to chongqing, because last week i heard her making tentative plans to go into the city. "my vacation time is coming up anyway," she said, leaving this thursday. this puts a wrinkle in my thanksgiving dinner plan for next week.

i pulled something in my left groin. it might've happened as far back as 2 weeks ago, when i went running on that thursday before the sports meet. the worst was saturday coming back from chongqing. after getting off the bus in changshou, it hurt so much i almost couldn't walk, eventually hobbling home. at work i couldn't even cross my legs without wincing. fortunately i brought some advil with me (in a small tylenol container). i almost never take any aspirin and its ilk for pains, but this situation called for it. very soon afterwards the pain was gone and i regained full mobility again. i was waiting for the effect to wear off but i was fine the rest of the day without having to take another advil.

sunmeng came to work but left soon afterwards for the hospital because her teeth hurt too much. i instant messaged her in the hospital waiting room while she waited to see the doctor. she's only had her braces since the start of this year, something about mandibular adjustment and fused jaws, sort of technical. but the good news is she's getting the braces off at the end of this year, hopefully. she couldn't eat anything and can only drink liquids. after lunchtime she left the hospital and went home and i didn't talk to her anymore.

it seemed like yuwei wasn't going to come into work again today, but she showed up after 9:00. there hasn't been a single day where she wasn't either absent or late to work. it's not cheap coming to work on your own dime: it costs RMB$50 (US$8) for a one-way taxi ride.

loren asked me to sit in at the weekly site management meeting again at 3:00 because he was busy with work. i went and was spared having to sit through a 2 hour meeting when the site manager asked me to update everyone about the claims status. afterwards he said i could go if i wanted to, so i left.

shirley wore a new outfit into work today, a khaki trenchcoat with a flattering form-fitting dress underneath (bands of autumn colors). normally she wears a blazer which works well in an office setting but kind of hides her figure. i made a comment in the late afternoon saying she looked good, which i think made her self-conscious. all i was trying to do was to let her know i noticed her new outfit. i personally hate it when i wear something new to work and not one person notices. of course with me it's either a new shirt or new pants, and they're all pretty much the same (dark pants, blue/white shirt). since it was close to the end of the day, we chatted a bit more. she's going to chongqing first for her vacation, taking her mother. "shopping and eating?" i asked. actually, taking her mother (age 50) to the hospital to run some tests because she's been having stomach pains. she said her mother is very stubborn and doesn't want to see a doctor. i told her to tell her mother that she wants to live long enough to see shirley get married first.

after work i made plans with wang the chengdu guy to go to the gym, my very first official visit. he said 7:40, which i thought was a weird time, but i said okay. as soon as i got back into town, i went to the tailor first to pick up my altered pants (RMB$5). i should've checked first, but i assumed they were altered to the length i requested and thought nothing of it. back in the apartment i tried the pants and they're actually an inch too long. so i changed into my gym outfit and returned to the tailor. i told her to reduce the length by an inch, but then decided to put on the pants to show her what i meant so there'd be no confusion this time. it was still only 7:20 so i returned to the apartment first to put on my contacts, then headed out to the mall. i could feel eyes looking at me, because i was the only person wearing just shorts and a t-shirt. the temperature was in the mid-50's, a little cold but pleasantly so. but people around here would never wear so little at this temperature, which for the locals is pretty darn cold.

i called wang at 7:30, a bit early. he was surprised, but said he'd be right out (he lives right across from the northern face of chongbai mall). we took the elevator to the 4th floor and i found out the reason why he scheduled the gym visit so late is because normally after he returns home, he's busy cooking tomorrow morning's breakfast. that's insane, but here breakfast is the largest meal of the day, while dinner is optional. that's why people are incredulous when they hear i'm only eating a piece of bread or only a hard-boiled egg for breakfast. that for me is a lot, since i normally skip breakfast.

wang said there are usually 20-30 people, but there were less than a dozen when we arrived. some where in a spin class nearby, which wang said i could join with my membership. they also have other classes, including yoga. technically the gym membership isn't transferable, but he said just swipe the card and come in, the workers never check anyway.

we went to the treadmill machines, which overlook the fountain down below as well as the army of middle aged and elderly changshou ladies dancing in unison. i asked wang how far he normally runs, he told me 4000m, which is what i run when i go to the stadium. it's been ages since i used a treadmill, probably the last time i was in a gym, more than a decade ago when i worked at SRM.

i started off with some walking (4km/h), then gradually increased the pace to 10km/h. wang rigged up the HDTV monitor directly in front of his treadmill with his mp3 playlist playing from a portable usb hard drive (you can also playback videos). i just listened to my mp3 player, which has way too much beatles songs (about 50%). here they don't provide a towel, but i had the foresight to bring my own just in case. the great thing about a treadmill is it can hold things for you, so i emptied out my pockets. next time i'll bring a bottle of water too.

when wang said 4000m he didn't mean non-stop. he stopped to a walk after 15 minutes, then 5 minutes later stopped altogether. he ended up only running 3000m. i went the whole 4000m non-stop, even increasing the speed to 12km/h for a minute to give myself a challenge. i do miss the track field though, the people watching and running past people. but this gym is just as good, and so much more convenient, i can come here even if it rains. i'm going to be so fit when i go back to the US!

afterwards wang and i used some of the other gym equipment. i like the machines that work my back and deltoids, muscles that normally go unused in my everyday life. for some reason all the weights are in pounds, which is great for me since i don't speak kilo. there was another guy there from our company, a half mongolian half chinese guy from the health and safety department. he had the body of a weightlifter and seemed to know his gym training. while wang was still doing pushup exercises, i excused myself and went home. in the mall i bumped into 2 korean coworkers (one of the guys sits diagonally across from me), relaxing with some ice coffee (RMB$20 each).

after a shower, i washed my sweaty gym clothes. i ate an asian pear, some chinese egg roll crackers, and drank a cup of sweet babao tea before finally going to bed.