Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Lengthy Two Parts

(Part One of a lengthy two- [or perhaps more] part post.)

Hey, come on try a little
Nothing is forever
There's got to be something better than
In the middle
But me & Cinderella,
We put it all together
We can drive it home
With one headlight

-The Wallflowers

“Nothing is forever.” That was brought home to me (once again) this past week when I got rid of another relic from “Former Happy Days.” This time it was an old, old dishcloth that’s been hanging around for…oh…about the last 15 years or so. I only got rid of it because, in the course of drying a dish, I ripped a big hole in the thread-bare fabric. I probably should have tossed the thing at least a year ago, but…it was special.
And what’s special about a dishcloth, you ask? It was a gift; a gift from a man who owns a construction company in Tokyo, and as such, was emblazoned with his company’s logo and the ubiquitous “Green Cross” signifying on-the-job safety. So, the dishrag wasn’t really a dishrag; I just used it as one. It was actually a small terry cloth towel of a type typically worn by Japanese construction workers under their hardhats, much as we would wear a head-band. The man who gifted me the dishrag/head cloth—at my request—was one of The Second Mrs. Pennington’s “host fathers” from back in the day when she was a Rotary high school exchange student in Japan, and the occasion was a visit to this man’s home outside of Tokyo in the early ‘90s. And, of course, the act of throwing out the dishrag prompted me to reflect on its origins and the circumstances leading up to my acquisition of same.

Along about this time back in 1991 or so, TSMP and I were making preparations for a trip to Beijing. I was working on a consulting project to develop a Request for Proposal for a packet-switched data network for the Ministry of Railways in the Peoples Republic of China. The client requested a final, page-by-page edit of the RFP be done on-site at their offices in Beijing, before the end of the year.

To make a long story short, I convinced TSMP it would be a “good thing” if she came along. It didn’t take much to convince her, especially once I agreed that we would combine the trip to Beijing with a week’s vacation in Tokyo on the way home. We would fly from Detroit to Hong Kong, spend a day there liaising with the manager of EDS’ Hong Kong offices (we had no presence in Beijing), fly on to Beijing, do the job, and then return to Detroit via Tokyo. The only fly in the ointment was TSMP’s reluctance to drop a significant sum of money on her ticket; she saw no value at all in spending the additional money to upgrade her ticket from cattle-car to business class. (EDS’ travel policy at the time provided business class tickets for all flights over ten hours in duration; thus they were springing for a business class ticket. For me. TSMP’s ticket was on our dime.) I finally overcame her objections by pointing out the airline probably wouldn’t allow us to switch seats back and forth during the flight—as she wanted to do—and that 16 hours in a coach seat would be just a bit too much.

So, after much preparation, including a frantic one-day drive from Detroit to the Chinese consulate in Chicago and back to get our last-minute visas walked through the bureaucracy, we were off to Beijing. The next installment of this two-part post will contain my impressions of Beijing…as best as I can remember them.

Stay tuned.

(Photos added for update - Biz Class Menus.  Click for larger)


  1. *Hopping up and down* You know I hate waiting for the next part of a story. When I read a book I rip through the pages fast. See I read the part in the title that it would be in two parts... but I forgot about halfway into the story so when I got to the bottom I was like awwww darn. I suppose I will just have to be patient. ;)

  2. Oops. Sorry, Laurie!

    And now I have to write the rest of it. I sorta know what I want to say, but then again, I sorta don't. I'll put something up in a couple of hours, be it good, bad, or indifferent...

  3. Heehee. Well you didn't have to rush on my account. I will now read part 2. ;)


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