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December 14, 2006 - Guyuan, China

The Thousand Shovel Wind

The door swung shut and my shoes played out my steps down the office corridor. A distant CLINK barely filtered up to the second floor over the tap of walking shoes.

Again, a CLINK.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

The ceramic tiles of the stairwell aided another CLINK with a solid but echoing THONK.

Each step towards the outside door, a slowly building off-beat rhythm, a progression of metallic bird-calls flapping through the halls.

Each step towards the door, a rising wave of noise, a march of heavy scratches pounding out a dense code.


Intent on listening I slowed.

Each step, a symphony of broken bells and clods of metal, a tone-deaf braying of clockwork mules.


My final step, reaching the door and outside steps, brought the glare of winter sun off blinking and twinkling snow.

Eyes still unaccustomed and narrowed saw nothing.

Ears filled not with the still of winter snow fallen, but a grinding cacophony.

Piles of grayish snow came into focus. The flash, drag and flash of a shovel skipping across the pavement, chipping ice and flipping snow. Bare concrete drying in the bright sun and under the feet of a legion of students clearing ice.

The sound of a thousand tiny shovels.

» Link lovin’

Earlybird Skype - Skypes no-pay plan for U.S. and Canada ends in 2007, but if you sign up before the end of January you get unlimited calling and 100 international minutes for $15 rather than $30.

Aerial Great Whites - Forget Great Whites with freakin’ laser beams, these will do.

Bonsai Tubers - Bonsai hits Guyuan and the potato industry. I might have to give this a try.

Analytic Bombing - If that isn’t an owymoron…

To the Chagrin of Fingers Everywhere - A table for loping off those pesky digits.

Rolamite - Don’t confuse this nifty frictionless doo-dad with Vegemite.

Tumbleweeds... and no comments. How 'bout livening things up?

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