Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Bird's Nest and Water Cube

One of my classmates told me Beijing is a architect's dream. They can design and build world class projects in relatively short periods of time as compared to other countries. The Olympic stadium and Water Cube are two examples. The day we went there the air quality was poor and it was very hot but it was very interesting actually be there.

Our Dorm

Here's a picture of our dorm. There's 10 stories. We were on the fourth floor and walked up the stairs 3-4 times a day. It was good exercise- and we needed to exercise to prepare for going to the Great Wall. Occassionally we were lazy and took the elevator.

BLCU Classes

We took an intensive class in Chinese language. Hannah was a beginner in Level A3. I started in a "C" level class but dropped to "B4" level the first day because it was too difficult for me. Two days later I dropped from B4 and ended up in B3 level which was just right. Class levels range from A-F and there are intermediate and advanced classes within those levels. We spent 30 hours a week in class and probably another 4-5 hours a day studying and preparing for the next day. We both learned more than 300 new words in Chinese (Average 25 new words a day. Many days we had to learn much more).

This was my second time at BLCU. Almost ten years to the day I was in the beginning level class there. It was fun to go back and see how the University has grown.

Top: Hannah at the entrance to our building, The College of Intensive Chinese Studies. (Making a "V" sign is very popular there when taking pictures. We have fun adopting that pose.)

Top left: My class. Zhao Laoshi (teacher) (blue shirt) is just right of me and Jiang Laoshi (teacher) (white & blue dress), our grammar instructor, is next to her. Both were excellent teachers. We also had two other teachers for listening and conversation classes. Students came from many countries including Sweden, England, Iran, Russia, Japan, Spain, South Korea, and Malaysia to mention a few.

Bottom: Speaking teacher Zhao Laoshi and student. She was very nice and very patient with us as we stumbled over the words and pronunciation in text we had to read outloud. The blackboard in the background is typical of our class work. Zhao Laoshi never spoke English and it was very rare for the other teachers to speak in English also.

China Studies

Yesterday, Hannah and I left Beijing at 12 noon, flew 11 hours, then arrived in San Francisco at 8:30 am the same day. We saw the sun rise and set twice this day. I had to wait at the San Francisco airport until 5:00pm until my plane left on my final leg to Redding.
It is now Sunday, 2:00am and I'm wide awake. There's a 15 hour time difference from Beijing and my body says I should be up - so I am.
What follows are some pictures and video clips from our Language Study trip at Beijing Language and Culture University.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

China 2009

On Wednesday, my daughter Hannah and I will fly to China. We have enrolled in Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) for a one month intensive in Chinese language taking place in the month of August. Classes are five days a week, six hours a day. We are looking forward to living in Beijing as residents instead of as tourists.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Q: I am trying to find the formula Jianpiling which I read about online. The article is entitled " THE USE OF JIANPILING IN TREATING ULCERATIVE COLITIS"
by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon.
Can you help me find it?

A: I don't know when this article was written but the most recent reference in the bibliography is 12 years old (1997).

If you go to the Institute for Traditional Medicine website they say:
"The articles on the ITM website are reviews of literature and not descriptions of work done at ITM; that literature may include traditional Chinese medical reports as well as modern medical reports...."
"The claimed results in Chinese medical journals are often attained through treatment strategies that are unacceptable or impractical here..."

It is my understanding that Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, ITM, has no formal training in Chinese medicine. His PH.D. is in biology. He is not licensed to practice medicine and is primarily a researcher.
His bio on the website reads "Subhuti Dharmananda received his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California in 1980. He traveled to China several times, the first visit in 1977 and most recent in 2001, and has collected a large library of books and journals involved with traditional medicine."
Smart man with an interest in Chinese medicine, yes. A doctor, no.

So, the point is that many authors like to get people excited about something that is next to impossible to obtain and as I mentioned before, the information is very old.
The article does not give dosage for the herbs, only vague reference to the amounts of each one. It's possible that the herbs could be mixed up for you but you would have to boil them and drink as a tea. I think that's the best you will be able to do and the results the same as in the article.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mystery Herb

Q: Can you identify this herb?

A: This herb is not commonly used and probably not found in most references on Chinese medicine. The herb is Tian Xian Zi or Hyoscyamus niger, or henbane (Stinking Nightshade) and is toxic. I do not believe it is commonly available and even if it was I would not recommend using it.

For more information, see this Wikipedia article: