Sunday, September 05, 2010


This was a pretty miserable week for me.  I went to bed Sunday night with some aches and an increasing fever that gave me some delirious dreams.  Monday I awoke with a headache, some disorientation and malaise.  On Tuesday I stayed home, and while the headache was a little better, I developed a productive cough with green sputum.  This all gradually has been improving, with some interspersed moments of near syncope.  Whether this was viral, or more likely some bacterial illness,  I learned the word 感冒, cold or flu, which apparently hits Western visitors to China particularly hard.

Hopefully, my sickness hasn't discolored my outlook on life in Beijing too much.  On the bright side, though one of the teachers on ChinesePod states that "everyone in China has diarrhea... right now," at least I don't have 拉肚子.

Beijing Commute
My daily routine begins shortly before my 5:40 alarm every morning.  I have a habit of nervously waking up at the first signs of a lit sky, usually around 5:38.  After getting dressed and packed for work, I walk 5 minutes to a shuttle bus.  I might stop by a store for this great honey sweetened yogurt for 2 rmb (about U$0.25, plus the deposit on the ceramic container).

My shuttle bus picks up in front of the buildings that, until this past year, were the headquarters of the China CDC.  The China CDC was founded in 2002 by the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine as a quasi-governmental NGO with ties to the Ministry of Health.  Its founding was described in the paper, The Current State of Public Health in China, which I cited in my previous post.  The office was opened up in four buildings just West of 天坛 (Temple of Heaven), shown by the arrow on the map of Beijing below.

After eight years, the CDC was overflowing, and began to rent out space from a hotel across the street.

In the interest of more space, a sprawling suburban campus some 40-50 kilometers out of Central Beijing, behind a cornfield in the Changping District.  On the above map it... does not fit.  Zooming out, here it is, identified with the arrow north of the Sixth Ring Road.

Since there was little mass transit to that cornfield before the CDC moved in, and since car ownership is still relatively low among Chinese workers and students, China CDC has to provide shuttle buses from more than a dozen different neighborhoods around the city.

My commute takes an hour to work every day (without traffic) and 75-100 minutes on the way home when traffic is worse.  Though some have been asking, I have not been stuck in the 10,000 car traffic jam or the 10 day traffic jam.  While those epic calamities are farther in the country-side, this town is still daily gridlock.

I have spent the last couple of weeks starting my job as a researcher/data analyst at the China CDC.  I gave my first presentation on Friday updating my boss and colleagues on my work analyzing the geographical differences in anemia in Chinese elderly, and preparing to use CDC data to find an appropriate level of hemoglobin to use as a definition of anemia among this population.  It was four days of data analysis, since I only made sense of the data at the beginning of the week (it's mostly in Chinese, I needed an English copy of the survey, etc.).  But I guess the presentation was satisfactory, since my boss suggested I give him a draft of the paper in 2-3 weeks...

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