Tag Archives: Beijing

Julie’s Salon makes the cut

Moving to any city presents a to-do list that involves finding the services on which our lives depend. Convenience, cost, quality of service are the usual criteria employed in making our choice. Moving to Beijing adds an additional criterion – do the people providing the service speak English?

I needed to find a hairdresser and am of an age where I need to have my “rust spots” touched up on a regular basis in order to look presentable and a little younger than my years.

An initial search before moving to China centered on Wella and its website threw up the Eric Paris salon.

Eric Paris, I ask you! Next we will be having a Jack London, George Washington and Irving Berlin.

With a name like Eric Paris, I figured that the salon would likely charge top dollar but if the people spoke English, carried familiar hair products and did a good job, it would be a price worth paying.

Once in Beijing and the need to find a hairdresser becoming more pressing, I did a little more research and found an article on eChinacities.com about foreign-friendly hairdressers. Once again the name of Eric Paris cropped up but so did a number of alternatives.

In terms of convenience, Sanlitun is my preferred location and the article not only mentioned Eric Paris but also Julie’s Salon, which received a good review. A quick check on Google Maps revealed that they are roughly equidistant from the Tuanjiehu Line 10 subway station.

On Saturday, I set off to check them out and book an appointment. I headed for Julie’s Salon first, I was having problems with my iPhone and needed to call in at the Apple Store at Sanlitun Village, which is on the way to Julie’s Salon.

The salon is located at the Workers Stadium, between Gates 9 and 10. I walked in and was greeted by Julie, an attractive and charming woman, with an excellent command of English. We looked at color charts – I had the mix from my previous hairdresser but one of the colors does not feature in China – and discussed prices.

The first time was going to cost more than subsequent visits. Julie explained the technicalities and they made sense to me. First time, with a haircut, would come to 588 yuan ($95.50), a little more expensive than what I used to pay in Jacksonville.

I did check out a Chinese hairdresser’s five-minutes walk from my apartment and was quoted 400 yuan ($65) for color and a haircut. But no one spoke English, they called a customer to translate, and it quickly became apparent that it could be an experience fraught with difficulties.

The extra $35 at Julie’s was worth it for the peace of mind of being able to communicate. Besides, on my next visit the price will fall by 100 yuan and the cost will be $79.

Julie could fit me in there and then, so I went ahead.

She delivered an excellent haircut. It really does look good and I am well pleased. The color is a little darker than what it was before for the reason I explained above but it matches my eyebrows so looks natural.

We enjoyed a pleasant conversation — maybe not up to the standards of Courtney at Salon On The Square, San Marco, Jacksonville, but Courtney is one in a million. After the cut, I sat back and relaxed in the tastefully decorated salon, with a can of Coke. Drinks are not included; the Coke cost 5 yuan.

Anyone who has recently moved to Beijing and is worried about finding a good hairdresser, your worries will end with a visit to Julie’s Salon at the Workers Stadium, Sanlitun.

 

Julie’s Salon

Tel: 136 0137 1790

Monday 1:00 – 8:00 pm.

Tuesday to Sunday 9:30 am – 8:00 pm.

Julie's Salon

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Student killed at Virginia Tech café ‘decapitated,’ say campus police

By Calvin Palmer

Police today revealed that the female graduate student killed in a campus café at Virginia Tech last night was decapitated.  She had only arrived at the Blacksburg campus two weeks ago.

Xin Yang, 22, arrived from Beijing on January 8 to begin studying accounting the Pamplin College of Business, Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum said.

Her accused attacker, 25-year-old Haiyang Zhu of Ningbo, China, knew the victim but no motive for the slaying has been determined, Flinchum said.  School records showed that Haiyang was listed as one of Xin’s emergency contacts.

Haiyang was charged with first-degree murder and was being held without bond at the Montgomery County Jail.

He is a Ph.D. graduate student majoring in agricultural and applied economics. He began his studies at Virginia Tech at the start of the 2008 fall semester.

Flinchum said the two were sitting at a table at the Au Bon Pain cafe in the Graduate Life Center when the disturbance began. There were seven witnesses to the events that followed and two called 911 at 7:06 p.m.

When campus police arrived less than two minutes later, they discovered Yang’s dead body, Zhu and a large kitchen knife that they believe is the murder weapon.  Zhu did not resist arrest.

There is no record of him being called to the attention of Virginia Tech police, Blacksburg police, the university’s threat assessment or CARE team before yesterday.

University spokesman Larry Hincker said a campus alert system put in place after the mass shootings by Seung-Hui Cho in 2007 sent out messages to 30,000 subscribers by e-mail, text messages and telephone voice mails last night.

Because a suspect was in custody, the messages were sent out as notifications rather than as emergency alerts, he said.

Some students had said that they didn’t receive the alerts until after they had become aware of the incident through the grapevine.

Classes were not cancelled today and the Graduate Life Center is open, although the Au Bon Pain café is sealed off.

[Based on reports by Associated Press and The Roanoke Times.]

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Nobody expects the Republicans!

By Calvin Palmer

When it flashed across the news Web sites that John McCain had chosen Palin as his running-mate in the forthcoming presidential election, my first thought was one of surprise.  Michael Palin had never really struck me as Republican material but with an educational background of Shrewsbury School and Brasenose College, Oxford, perhaps he was.

I am eagerly looking to forward to his first speech on the campaign trail.  No doubt the Republican strategists will advise against Palin wearing the red robes of a cardinal.
 
“Nobody expects the Republicans!  The main issue of this election is the war in Iraq; the war in Iraq and the economy.  The two issues in this election are the war in Iraq and the economy, and health care.  The three issues are the war in Iraq, the economy and health care, and immigration.  The four…  No.  Among our policies in this election are those relating to issues such as the war in Iraq.  Could I start again?”
 
Out in the sticks, a rendition of The Lumberjack Song should go down well in the Republican heartland.  The line, “I put on women’s clothing, and hang around in bars,” will show that he is in the same mold as J. Edgar Hoover, thus establishing his credentials on law and order.


 
To assure the Republican Party has the necessary funds to mount a winning presidential campaign, Palin will host the TV show Blackmail

The dollars are sure to flow in as he threatens to expose those party supporters he used to meet in the bars referred to in The Lumberjack Song.
 
Of course, his role will be subservient to that of John McCain and will mainly involve warming up an audience in readiness for an appearance by the presidential candidate.  Palin will excel at performing this task.  In Robinson Crusoe garb, he can announce, “It’s…” only to be then cut off by the entrance music for McCain and the man himself.
 
His biggest test will come in the televised head-to-head debates with Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s candidate for vice president.  Here, Palin’s skills at argument will come to the fore and ensure that Biden is in for a hard time.


 
That might not have been the case if Palin had found himself up against Barack Obama’s first choice.  Long ago, Obama had penciled in Michael Richards, Kramer from Seinfeld, as his vice-presidential running mate.  But after Richards’ infamous outburst during his stand-up routine, his chances went the same way as the Norwegian Blue parrot.  They passed on.  They were no more.  They ceased to be.  They expired and went to meet their maker.  They became bereft of life.

The selection of Palin rounded off quite a week in terms of Monty Python nostalgia. On Sunday, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, gave a Pythonesque speech in Beijing after the Olympic flag was handed over.  His reference to ping-pong coming home could easily have been written by Eric Idle and Johnson’s delivery was redolent of the late Graham Chapman at his blimpish best.  I half expected Johnson to conclude, “This speech is getting too silly,” the camera to pan to John Cleese and for him to announce, “And now for something completely different.”
 
It was good to see the Python influence in evidence almost 40 years after Monty Python’s Flying Circus first aired on the BBC in 1969.  Boris was only five years old at that time, 10 years old when Monty Python came to an end in 1974, but the show’s comedy legacy has endured, helped by feature films such as Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.
 
In 1975, Monty Python’s Flying Circus received its first TV broadcast in the United States, airing on the Dallas PBS station.  It met with such success that it was soon being broadcast by PBS stations throughout the country.  It must have been around that time when McCain spotted Palin’s vice-presidential potential.

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Beijing leaves a rich legacy

By Calvin Palmer

What do we do now?  For the past 16 days, the Olympic Games in Beijing have gripped TV audiences across the world.  People have marveled at the amazing feats of honest human endeavor; the levels of speed, endurance, grace and agility that the human body is capable of.  I include myself among the many who have probably stared at their flabby and out-of-condition bodies and said, “Where did it all go wrong?”
 
Yesterday, the curtain came down on an Olympic Games that has surpassed all others.  From the comfort of our sofas, we have witnessed not only sporting history in the making, on the track and in the Water Cube, but also one of the greatest spectacles in living memory.  In the latter respect, the Beijing Games will be a hard act for London to follow when the Olympic flower blooms once again in 2012.
 
Beijing will go down as the games where Michael Phelps emerged as one of the greatest Olympians of all time, winning eight gold medals to beat the record set by Mark Spitz in 1972.  Two of those eight gold medals provided edge-of-the-seat excitement – the Men’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay, where Phelps had to rely on Jason Lezak to swim the race of his life to overhaul France’s Alain Bernard in the last couple of meters; and the Men’s 100m Butterfly, where Phelps just beat Serbia’s Milorad Cavic by a fingertip.
 
Those eight gold medals for Phelps, described by some as the great haul of China, brought his gold medal tally to 14, the most any Olympic competitor has won.  He plans to add to that total in London.
 
The gymnastic competition saw the ascendancy of China’s men and also the never-say-die attitude of the USA men’s team, which secured them a bronze medal.  The USA women’s team sulked as the controversial Chinese team took gold. But in the individual competitions, the grace of Nastia Liukin and energy of the irrepressible Shawn Johnson won our hearts.  Investigations are still ongoing to find out whether the Chinese did field under-age girls. 
 
A touching moment came in the men’s super-heavyweight weightlifting when Germany’s Matthias Steiner unexpectedly snatched gold from the favorite, Evgeny Chigishev of Russia.  Steiner was beside himself with joy, for a big man to be so delighted looked somehow comical.  But at the medal ceremony, a poignant moment came when Steiner displayed his medal and a photograph of his wife to the cameras.  His wife was killed last year in a car accident.
 
The track events provided the biggest, in every sense of the word, sensation of these games.  The Jamaican giant Usain Bolt, at 6 feet 5 inches, towered above his rivals in the 100m and 200m finals to perform phenomenal sprints not only to take gold but also set two world records.  His blistering pace in the Men’s 4x100m Relay Final helped put the Jamaican team on course for gold in another world record time.  Three gold medals, three world records and the headlines rightly proclaimed him as Lightning Bolt.
 
His personality will stand out from these games just as much as his running.  Bolt exudes fun and the Jamaican laid-back manner.  He is undoubtedly the best sprinter the world has ever seen but his greatness also embraces the ability to clown, a rare quality these days when sport has become such a serious business, with the emphasis on winning rather than taking part.
 
It was impossible not to warm to Bolt and the rest of the Jamaican athletes.  They set a shining example of how sport should be conducted — play hard, give it your best and, if you win, celebrate.  Shelly-Ann Fraser’s delight at winning the Women’s 100m Final was a joy to watch.  And if you fail to win, as Jamaica did in the Women’s 4x100m Relay Final, you just accept it as part of life; no excuses and no recriminations.
 
Jamaica’s response to a clean sweep of the medals in the Women’s 100m Final was in marked contrast to the USA’s clean sweep of the medals in the Men’s 400m Final.  LaShawn Merrit’s in-your-face attitude and Jeremy Wariner’s sneer may win races but few friends.  They should learn from colleague David Neville about good grace and charm.
 
Being British, I have to say that I am extraordinarily proud of the exploits of the GB Team In Beijing.  Fourth in the medal table and fourth in the number of gold medals won were the stuff of dreams before these games.  The British athletes have set the standard for greater things to come in 2012.  And with home advantage, who knows what Britain’s medal tally will be?
 
British officials are already saying that they have no plans to compete with the scale of the Beijing Games and that the London Games will aim for something quite different, promising a more fun-loving and relaxed atmosphere.  I have a feeling it is going to be an event where pop and rock meet sport; a party mood that sees the regeneration of Cool Britannia.
 
Just how free and relaxed the London Games turn out to be remains to be seen.  In these days of world terrorism, security is going to have to be tight and it may curtail the organizers’ hopes.  I can imagine terrorist groups are presently in the process of submitting bids to the International Terrorist Committee for the right to attempt to disrupt the London Games by some heinous act and thereby grab headlines across the world.  Forget Cool Britannia, it may well be a case of Fortress Britannia in 2012.
 
For now, the baton has been passed from Beijing to London and all our personal planners should have July 27, 2012 entered in as the date of the opening ceremony of the XXX Olympiad.  London becomes the first city to stage the Olympic Games three times, having previously hosted them in 1908 and 1948. 
 
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said yesterday, “London is the sporting capital of the world.  Sport is coming home and we are going to give those sports an Olympic Games to do Britain proud, to do London proud and to do the world proud.”  I hope he is right.

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Times-Union lags behind on ceremony

By Calvin Palmer

Timing is everything.  In the fiercely competitive world of the media, it is critical.  I have seen night editors fired for not carrying a late-breaking news story.  A newspaper can look decidedly amateurish if it misses out on a story that all the other papers are carrying the next day.
 
Jacksonville’s newspaper, The Florida Times-Union, falls into a class of its own.  It appears, as we British say, half-soaked in terms of its news values and that has nothing to do with the copious amounts of rain Tropical Storm Fay dumped on the city last week.
 
Somehow, the editorial staff at The Florida Times-Union seems to march to the beat of a different drum than the rest of the newspaper world.  And in the light of today’s edition, they also seem to march at a slower pace. 
 
The Viewpoint page, or op-ed page as it is known in the trade, carries a piece by Mark Powell, a freelance journalist who specializes in identifying error in major media and public facilities.  Powell wrote about the Chinese flag being carried upside down in the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games.  Yes, you did read that right, the opening ceremony.
 
I eagerly await Powell’s future piece about The Florida Times-Union carrying his article the day after the closing ceremony and two weeks too late, although I doubt I will see it published in The Florida Times-Union.
 
Given that yesterday was the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, an event with a global audience, I was also surprised the story, and a photograph, failed to make the front page of The Florida Times-Union.  It’s that different drum again.  The main story, or splash as it is termed in the newsroom, was about students starting back at universities and colleges.  It also featured a picture of parents and students carrying stuff into a university dorm.  I bet Reuters flashed that one around the world pretty sharpish.
 
As to the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, it was relegated to the front page of the Sports Section and shunted to the bottom of the page, with a photograph whose size was more in keeping with a story about students carrying belongings into a dorm.
 
If the publishers of The Florida Times-Union are concerned by the newspaper’s declining profits, instead of blaming falling advertising revenue in the face of the economic downturn, they might care to look at the product they are producing.   Putting real news stories on the front page would be a step in the right direction.
 
Employing more journalists, of the caliber of Ron Littlepage who is not afraid to tell it how it is, rather than lifting stories from other newspapers in the United States would be another good move.  The two Beijing stories on the front of the Sports Section come from The Los Angeles Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer.  That really helps to give the paper a local feel to it.
 
Jacksonville is a city and deserving of a daily newspaper of merit.  It may not be able to aspire to the great newspapers of New York, Chicago or Los Angeles but what it is getting at the moment is effectively the content of a weekly newspaper produced on a daily basis.  Such an approach not only does a great disservice to the city but also the newspaper itself.  I am sure that I am not alone in referring to The Florida Times-Union as The Jacksonville Joke.

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Jamaica’s day of triumph and disaster

By Calvin Palmer

Usain Bolt and the Jamaica 4x100m men’s relay team yesterday powered their way to Olympic gold at Beijing and set a new world record.
 
To everybody’s surprise, Bolt ran the third leg and handed the baton to Asafa Powell who stormed to the finishing line a good 10 meters clear of second place Trinidad & Tobgo. Jamaica’s win in 37.10 seconds took 0.3 seconds off the world record set by the United States in 1992.
 
Nesta Carter and Michael Frater ran the first two legs for Jamaica and put their team in a strong position.  Frater smoothly handed the baton to Bolt who ran the final bend and destroyed the field.  Despite a jittery hand over to anchor man Powell, the race had only one outcome.  It seemed an age before Trindad & Tobago crossed the line to claim silver with a time of 38.06 seconds.  Japan clocked 38.15 seconds to win bronze.
 
For Bolt, who turned 22 on Thursday, it was three wins out of three, his third gold medal and third world record in the games.  Earlier in the games, he won the 100m and 200m finals and also set new world records.
 
“I can’t explain how I feel,” Bolt told The Guardian newspaper. “”Jamaica has done well at these Games and we’re looking forward to going home. Sitting with these guys is wonderful. These guys came out and we had fun.”
 
And fun has certainly been Bolt’s trademark throughout the Beijing Games.  Has there ever been a runner who has achieved such success and, at the same time, brought such a sense of fun to the track?  Previous greats of the athletic track have had an intensity and seriousness that made it difficult to warm to them.  Bolt and the rest of Jamaica’s athletes have shown the world the joy of winning and the fun of competing.
 
Bolt’s sense of fun before and after a race has now been matched by his largesse.  As an expression of thanks for the wonderful time he has enjoyed in China, he donated $50,000 of his own money to the relief fund for the victims of the Sechuan earthquake.  Maybe that will diffuse the criticism of his showboating style.
 
But while the Jamaican men triumphed, the strongly tipped women’s 4x100m relay team, which looked an absolute certainty for gold, was disqualified earlier in the day after a disastrous hand over.  Sherone Simpson tried to hand the baton to Kerron Stewart’s right and then to her left.  In the process, Stewart looked round and in doing so ran out of her lane and collided with the British girls, Montell Douglas and Emily Freeman, who were unable to complete their hand over.
 
The Russian women raced to the line to take the gold medal.  The Belgian girls claimed silver and the first medal for their country at the Beijing Games.  Nigeria won the bronze.
 
The Jamaican girls were obviously disappointed but Shelly-Ann Fraser summed up the attitude of Jamaica’s athletes when she told The Jamaica Observer, “It’s a part of life, stuff like this happens. We can’t curse because we had a great Olympics and we’re happy anyway.”
 
The Jamaican government is planning to honor Jamaica’s Olympic athletes with a massive homecoming celebration.  Given the happy disposition of Jamaican people, it should be quite a party.

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Relay teams fall under the baton

By Calvin Palmer

Just how hard is it for someone to run with a stick and then pass it on to someone else so that they can run with it?  Very hard, apparently. Go ask the USA and Great Britain men’s 4x100m relay teams and the USA women’s 4×100 relay team.
 
Last night’s heats to decide today’s finalists turned into a comedy of errors.  The changeovers, executed at speed, are what make the 4x100m relays great fun to watch.  A team can comprise four top sprinters who suggest qualification or a medal place is a certainty.  That was true for all three teams mentioned above but then came the tricky process of handing over the baton.  In each case, disaster occurred when the third leg runner tried to hand over to the anchor runner.
 
For the USA men’s team, Darvis Patton failed to pass the baton to Tyson Gay.  For a split second, it seemed the hand over was good.  In the next instant, the baton was on the track and Gay was left clutching at air.
 
Gay told the BBC that he took full responsibility.  “He [Patton] said the stick was in my hand but it wasn’t in all the way before I grabbed it,” said Gay.  “I take the blame for it.  It was my fault.”
 
In the second qualifying heat, the GB team’s hope of retaining the title of Olympic champions were shattered when anchor runner Craig Pickering set off too soon and took hold of the baton from Marlon Devonish outside the 20-meter changeover box.
 
Pickering immediately shouldered the blame.  “I am so disappointed with myself,” he said to the BBC.  “I’m sorry.  I feel like I have let the team down and the country down.  For the next four years, I am going to be remembered as the guy who messed up.”
 
In the women’s first qualifying heat, Torri Edwards ran a good third leg to hand over to anchor Lauryn Williams, except that she didn’t.  The baton fell to the floor and the USA team was disqualified. A sense of pride made Williams run back to recover the baton and finish the race.
 
She told the Associated Press, “If people want to assess the blame to me, that’s OK. I can take whatever people are going to dish out.  We had a good chemistry.  The hand was back there.  She was there.  I don’t know what happened.”
 
Williams is no stranger to relay disaster.  In the 2004 Athens Games, the handover between her and Marion Jones occurred outside the changeover box and the USA team was disqualified.
 
With the absence of these three teams from the 4x100m Relay Finals, the stage now seems set for Jamaica to take gold in the men’s and women’s events and thus complete a clean sweep of the sprint gold medals at the Beijing Games.  There is just the trifling matter of successfully handing over the baton.

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