shirley came back from her vacation. i managed to sit next to her on the bus and chat. she told me she and her mother spent the past week just hanging out in chongqing at a friend's house. hanging out isn't exactly correct, since she said it was so cold outside they stayed indoors most of the time. i asked about her mother's health: she said all the tests came out negative for anything bad, but her mother still has stomach pains, which she'll try treating with chinese medicine. she said i looked cold. i said i was okay, but then took out my hand from my glove and touched her hand. she and i were both shocked by how freezing cold my hand was.

mr.lee held an impromptu meeting this morning to tell us that the project manager for the korean half of our consortium was being moved by the head office to be in charge of a 2 billion dollar construction project in oman. since his days here are limited, it was jointly decided by our company and the owner that we will issue all our overdue claim items (almost 300 total) before the end of this month, actually in less than 2 weeks, prior to the start of christmas break. we will attempt to do in 2 weeks what we couldn't do with just 30 items in a whole month. however, the owner's side of management will be fairly lenient when it comes to pass each claim - like their version of a christmas present. so we look to be busy this month.

yuwei told me something i've always kind of suspected: that she's single. she was married at some point, and i still believe she has a son, but i think she and her husband recently finalized their divorce. that's why all the secrecy and missing days from work. but just talking with her, she almost never mentions her husband. and one time, while talking about how she wanted to go and live in america, she mentioned just her mother and son, no mention of her husband.

after lunch i was trying to figure out how to fix my NTFS-formatted USB thumb drive, when i suddenly had a feeling that somebody was standing behind me. when i turned around, it wasn't just somebody, but somebodies - three office girls. i knew two of them, fang dan, shirley's knitting friend, and zhouyan, the office tracker of single guys. i was actually a little hurt that she never approached me to find out my vital stats like i heard she does with any new guys who come to work here. but i guess today was the day. she came and told me that fang dan had something to ask me and thought i was cute even though she has a boyfriend (soon to be married). fang dan asked me when i'd be going home to the US. i told her not until the project was over. she said she wanted me to ask me if i could bring back some coach handbags. i told her i wouldn't be able to do it personally, but my parents are planning to visit at the end of february, and they could bring them.

our discussion attracted the attention of many other office girls and soon i was surrounded by nearly a dozen ladies. they were particularly interested in the bird illustrations i had taped to my cubicle (wagtails). i've never been so popular before! fang dan asked me for my QQ number and later sent me a document detailing the kind of handbags she wanted (with photos of sample bags). she wanted to get 2, one for her mother, one for her boyfriend's mother, sort of a wedding present for their nuptial at the end of march. she invited me to her wedding party here in changshou, which i accepted. she also said she'd be happy if i took some photos during the wedding, not in any official capacity, but just because i had a nicer camera. i asked her how long she'd been planning to ask me about the handbags; she said almost a week, probably waiting for her friend shirley to return home (shirley was also one of the many girls who peeked her head during our discussion). then suddenly she asked me if i wanted a chongqing girlfriend. that was kind of abrupt! she said she could introduce me.

back in town, i went to the pharmacy near my apartment to look for large bandaids to cover up the wound on the back of my knee from scratching at it too much due to dry skin. yes, even bandaids are only sold in pharmacies. the girl behind the counter said they old had small bandaids. when i asked her if i could find what i was looking for at another pharmacy, she said she couldn't help me. i ended up going to the pharmacy next to the small underground supermarket. they had a box of 4 large bandaids for RMB$5, band-aid brand no less. i bought 2 boxes.

afterwards i changed into my running clothes and went to the gym. i wore my hooded sweatshirt but still left the apartment in shorts, which drew some shocked stairs from passerbys. i found an empty treadmill that had a working television and plugged in my USB thumb drive. the HDTV brand is the same as the one i have at home, but the user interface is slightly different so it took me a while to figure out. i ended up watching an american experience JFK documentary with english subtitles. probably a lot of gym patrons were trying to guess where i was from. i thought it'd be easier to run while watching television, but i was actually more tired. maybe because i was pushing myself at 11km/h after almost a week of not running. for the final 1000m i dropped it down to 10km/h, a more manageable pace.i honestly didn't think i'd be able to do 4km but managed to reach it in about 22 minutes. during the cool down phase, i switched to a recorded broadcast of the sunday night football game pitting peyton manning against tom brady.