Saturday, August 18, 2007

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Uncooperative Weather Slapped Faces of Meteorologists

Snow flasks were seen flying over Beijing for the second time this summer. In Chinese culture, many believe that snow in summer suggests extraordinary abnormalities, usually caused by a terribly wronged person.

It happened that two top officials were punished in high profile public stun. Mr. Zheng Xiaoyu, the director of China FDA was executed for taking bribes and approving fake medicines. Mr. Chen Liangyu, a politburo member and Party boss of Shanghai, was stripped from position for corruption related charges. Obviously both were bad guys, and deserve every justice they received. However, the superstitions surround the extremely unusual snowing made the Party leaders scratch their heads. In a scene of a famous drama written by Mr. Guan Hanqing (14th century) of Yuan Dynasty, it snowed in a summer when the heroes was wronged of killing her husband.

Although the July 30th snowing process were witnessed by thousands and widely covered by the media, the meteorological center of Beijing came up with a report citing meteorologists saying it's impossible to snow in Beijing.

On the afternoon of August 6th, another snow process last 5 minutes happened in the Chengfu Rd area, as the title pictures shows. Now the meteorologists of Beijing had a tougher challenge: having had to accept that snowing in the summer is after all possible in Beijing, now they must prove that it was not snow that people saw when Dou E, the heroes of the Guan's drama, was executed in the book seven hundreds years ago.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

A One Week Twin Cities Touring Guide for Out-of-Towners

1. Mall of America:
Full day family event;
2. State Capital, Cathedral of St Paul, History Center, Summit St
Full day family event;
3. Walker Art Center, Bacilica of St Mary, Sculpture Garden, Loring Park
Full day family event;
4. Cosmo Zoo, Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, Japanese Garden
Full day family event;
5. Stone Arch Bridge, Mill Ruin Park, City Mill Museum, Lock
Half day, easy walk;
6. Downtown Architecture and History
Half day, intense walk;
7. University of Minnesota - East Bank (Weisman Museum, Bell Museum, Al's Breakfast)
Half day, moderate walk;
8. Driving/jogging Tours along ; river road, chain of lakes, Victorial memorial parkway, also U of M observatory
Half day, lots of drive

Al's Breakfast

There's smoke, there's fire, there's sizzling but it's not a hibachi table. Chef and owner Doug prepares and cooks food one foot in front of your eyes. It's the narrowest breakfast in town, the Al's Breakfast.

I read about the restaurant in Wikipedia, so I decided to check it out. Knowing that it's the 'narrowest' restaurant, still I missed the sign when walking from the other side of the street between SE 4th and 5th St. I was probably distracted by the place right across SE 14th Ave, which read 'Cajun breakfast'. Cajun is one of my favorites, still I have no idea what is a 'Cajun breakfast'. I decided it should be the fall back plan, if I couldn't find the Al's walking the opposite way from the other side of the street. Well, maybe next time, next day.

Well, it is narrow, so that you wonder the necessity of the double doors. There are the wall, the narrow pass for the staff, the narrow counter, a line of swivel bar stools (all together there are 14 of them, which happened to be my lucky number), and the other wall. I sat on the third stool from the door and ordered a coffee. A menu is sticked on a tiny rack, which is a great help for me.

The menu include all common breakfast stuff, but the trick is that you can just make up your own. The chef is close enough to hear your order. However, (maybe due to the length of the premise) they yelled and shouted all the time. Sometimes they joked and mocked each other, loudly and cheerfully. Just like Japanese restaurants in Japan. The 40 some woman on my left had been writing something since I came in, and the couple on my right were apparently sweeting because of the heat from the cooking stable.

It was a weekday late morning in summer. There was no line up, but at most 1 or 2 seats were left available at any time. Some worked fast, some just hanged on. A Chinese boy and a Chinese woman seems to be on their first date. Yeah, I can understand their Chinese from half of the room.;-) A couple of coffee were lasting forever. I had a summer special omelet, a bacon and a hash brown. The omelet was delicious, and so is the bacon. The hash brown didn't taste different than others, but they were 'hot', very 'hot'.:)

Doug took a break, and ate a bowl of blue berry. They use real material in the food, and use a lot. I was waiting for him to come back cooking so that I could take a picture. So I chatted with Lisa the waitress to kill time. I asked Lisa what the narrow yellow books that occupied the lower of three level shelfs through out the wall. She told me that's prepaid breakfast coupon. It's a welcome measure for parents, who could be assured their kids were fed well, at the same time with no real money for creative usage. The top level are sticked with all different kind of foreign bills. I found a 1 Yuan RMB bill easily. There were three waiters and waitresses to take care of the 14 stools. And there is not much maneuvering space, so any needs are promptly answered.

Another round of ordering got Doug back. I snapped a photo, and said goodbye. Beside sizzling food, why Al's? Besides numerous awards and honors, there's tune composed for it and fiction written about it, and we learned all these in a wiki entrance. However, no other alternative can give your the sensation of knowing that the seat have been known as 'an icon of the State' by generations of scholars and students since 1950s and in the years to come.