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Thanks to the abundance of time on my hands (which, hopefully, will change soon), I’ve gotten a chance to hit the library and catch up on some reading (although I’m still months behind on my New Yorkers).

I snagged John Irving’s “The World According To Garp” off the bookshelf and I’m reading it in between episodes of House and CSI (Miami, New York, Pocatello) and Family Guy. I’ve previously read “A Widow For One Year,” which I enjoyed for the most past.

Irving doesn’t disappoint with “Garp,” but one thing about the esteemed Mr. Irving: He’s got a dirty mind.

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Here are the top search terms for this blog. But to really break it down, you have to see the entire list to understand what people are really searching for. While “macau women” and “macau sex” are fourth and tied for eighth on this list, if you add up all the search terms that involved any combination of these words — macau, sex, women, sauna — it equals 46 views.

But here’s my favorite stat: Four people searched for “chinese devil” and found this blog.

I’ve said it many times. As many times as I’ve started a new blog only to scrap it and start another one and scrap it again. But I’m going to say it one more time.

I’m going to stop drinking.

To be clear, I don’t think I have a problem. At least not yet. I don’t think I’m an alcoholic, although I think I was perilously close to becoming one when I was in college (I think one clear sign was the stack of Jack Daniel bottles that accumulated on the mantle of the house I lived in my junior year). But after three months in China, where every meal was accompanied by beer or wine, I think it’s time for me to take a hiatus. There was a time when I could not remember the last day I went the day without a drink. (Some might say this is a clear sign I have a problem — I did answer yes twice to the CAGE questionnaire).

I’m setting a modest goal for myself: Six months. Six months of abstinence. I’ll allow myself one exception: cooking with wine. You know, since I’m such an — cough, cough — accomplished, seasoned cook.

Above all, this is a challenge for myself. Four years ago, on a bet, I stopped eating red meat for two years. I didn’t think I could stop eating cheeseburgers and steaks but I found it pretty easy to order chicken and pork instead of beef. But I think this is going to be more difficult.

There will be plenty of temptations. Many of us live within the drinking culture — happy hours, tailgating parties, trivia nights, Friday nights, Tuesday nights, any night, etc, etc, etc. Drinking is celebrated in America (and in China and most anywhere in the world). When was the last time I went out with friends and we didn’t drink? I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Perhaps I’m in the right place right now — Salt Lake City, where they’ve imposed arcane rules on booze (OK, they’re not that arcane … I just like using the word arcane). Perhaps some of the, um, virtues of Mormonism will rub off on me — although this isn’t an invitation for any missionaries to knock on my door.

Right now, it’s Day 3 of my sobriety. I’m staying strong. All I have to do is avoid the four Coronas in the fridge.


On the surface, the two books seem to have nothing in common. But there are a lot of similarities — like the buffoons, malcontents, psychotics and neurotics who inhabit both books. Just to be clear, The Game was given to me as a gift. As a joke, I hope.

I’m hitting the asphalt again, logging more miles on the Sube (104K and counting). I’m staying at the Ontario Inn in charming Ontario, Oregon. It’s about the sixth or seventh time I’ve stayed here. The owners know me by name now. That’s how many times I’ve made the drive from SLC to Seattle and back.

It’s a decent place to stay. Relatively cheap and more importantly, it accepts pets — like Sadie the Terrible. Thankfully she’s passed out on her bed and not making a peep.

But after paying $45 for the room, it makes me a little sentimental about the budget hotels in China like the Home Inn and Hanting Express. $25 for a clean, well-appointed room in cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou.

And don’t even get me started on the price of food here. After paying nearly eight bucks for a mediocre teriyaki bowl in Boise, I long for the days when I could eat a meal — as good as any Chinese food I’ve ever had, second only to my mom’s cooking of course — for the cost of 12 RMB ($1.75).

Yes, I now compare everything — every check, every receipt, every purchase — to the yuan. And yes, I even annoy myself.

Finally finished Peter Hessler’s River Town. It only took three months. His other book, Oracle Bones, is also a fine read. Well, anything he writes (you can find him in the New Yorker) is good. He writes the way I could only dream about.