Tag Archives: China

Breathing, Speaking, Eating

g mask

They are adventurous, agile, adaptable. They will manage.

Today is another bad air day. This morning in Shanghai, for the half-mile walk to my grandson’s pre-school, we’re masking up. The four-month-old has not left the apartment in two weeks. In each room in the apartment, Blue Air purifiers do their job making the space safe for occupation.

Shortly after arriving here, I learned about Plume from my daughter.  Plume is an app that reports levels of particulate matter (PM), providing “full coverage from Alabama to Zanzibar.”

Plume labs rely on air quality data collected from cities and countries around the world–for example, Federation ATMO in France, DEFRA in the UK, EPA in the US.  Air quality data in China is reported by US embassies and consulates.  In China, Plume reports air quality, why I do not know, in PAQI numbers, short for Pakistan Air Quality Index. We look at the Plume report every morning, cross-checking it with data on the US State Department website. Continue reading

The Fifteenth Floor


 I’m reminded of the folly of thinking we can understand much in such a short time.

One morning we walk to the Montessori pre-school our grandson will attend. A few blocks from there, a man is lying on his stomach on the sidewalk. It’s 10:00 a.m., a weekday in late January.  The temperature is around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. This man is shoeless and shirtless, both arms extended in front of him, like he’s a swimmer diving into a pool. Under his left hand, visible between splayed fingers, is a small pile of banknotes. He’s talking, maybe he’s begging; to me it sounds like chanting or singing. Something tells me, even if I knew Chinese, I might not understand what he’s saying. Continue reading