And we’re back!

What we did: Ceased active use of the domain computernewbie.info Made wheatdogg.com the active primary domain. Moved the WordPress blog Wheat-dogg’s World from a subdomain under computernewbie.info into the primary domain. If everything is working correctly, you won’t notice a thing, other than your browser no longer displaying computernewbie.info/wheatdogg as the URL for this site.

Maintenance downtime

We’re doing some housekeeping here at Wheat-dogg’s World, including resetting some DNS records. So, the site may be down for a short while. Please stand by. We’ll be back soon.

In which Chuck C. Johnson discovers my “tweet-sourced dossier” on him

JISHOU, HUNAN — Some explanation is needed here, if you’re to understand the following exchange. Charles C. “Chuck” Johnson is a self-described “award-winning journalist,” who has been burning up Twitter and his own “news” website (gotnews.com) recently with ebola hysteria. He has published the home addresses of American ebola victims — and their relatives — and waged a one-man smear campaign against nurses Nina Pham and Kaci Hickox. Over at Little Green Footballs, which is run by another Charles Johnson (absolutely no relation!), Chuck C. Johnson is alternately a subject of horror and ridicule. Since CCJ’s self-referential tweets are so amusing, I took it upon myself to use them to compile a “tweet-sourced dossier” on the prolific blogger. You can view it by clicking the preceding link, or finding in my Pages index at right. Anyway, Chuck found the dossier and tweeted about it yesterday. I’ve captured the exchange using Storify. [View the story “Obsessed and wrong? You be the judge.” on ] At this point, the conversation ended. [NOTE: It’s quite long. If you just see a handful of tweets, you’ll need to visit the Storify link.

Resuming the narrative

Resuming the narrative
JISHOU, HUNAN — When we last heard from our intrepid traveler (me), he had just returned from Toronto and was in New York City. Now we resume the narrative. Yeah, so the last two weeks of my visit to the States were busy enough that I didn’t around to blogging about them. So, here we go. Aug. 10-13: The Maple Leaf pulled into Penn Station about an hour late. Not too bad, all things considered. My hotel was the Lexington NYC at 511 Lex. I had gotten a good deal from hotwire.com ($98 for a midtown Manhattan hotel is quite a steal) and I’ve gotta say I was much impressed by this hotel. The room was comfortable, the lobby inviting, and the food in the restaurant pretty good and priced fairly. While my inclination was to laze around in bed, my mission that day was to visit the 9/11 Memorial Site and have lunch with another former student from China who was interning at the UN Peacemaking Commission. I had waffles at Pershing Square and took the Lexington Line downtown. There is still a lot of construction around the WTC site, so reaching the memorial was not as easy as ...

And on a lighter note, a trailer for the next holiday blockbuster

SNACKPOCALYPSE with Chloe Grace Moretz, Tyler Posey, and First Lady Michelle Obama from Funny Or Die It helps if you’ve watched Divergent and The Hunger Games before watching this video. Oh, the heroine played Hitgirl. Yeah, I watch a lot of movies.

To Toronto and back

ABOARD AMTRAK’S MAPLE LEAF OUTSIDE TORONTO, CANADA — Despite my best intentions, I have not been able to blog about my travels until now. I’ve been too busy or too tired to write. Unlike the tribulations of my air travel from Changsha to Boston, everything since I have arrived has gone off perfectly. Here”s the highlights of my travels to date. July 30-31: Dallas-Fort Worth airport apparently shuts down between midnight at 6 am. No flights in, no flights out. I discovered they graciously provide cots and blankets to travelers with overnight layovers. The airport hotels are ritzy, and not suitable for budget travelers. On the downside, DFW was as cold as a meat locker, and the blanket provided is the thin kind the airlines provide. As soon as I started drifting off to sleep, I’d get cold and wake up again. At least lying down was better than trying sleep in one of the airport chairs. July 31, Boston: I was met by my son at Logan airport. We visited a few parts of Boston, including Fan Pier and Mr Dooley’s Pub for a pint o’ Guinness. By this time, I reckon I’d been awake or semiawake for about ...

Preparing for the big annual trip home 2

Preparing for the big annual trip home
JISHOU, HUNAN — In a few days, I’ll be jetting across the Big Water on my annual visit to the USA, with an added dash of Canada this year! This map will give you an idea of how busy this trip will be. 1. Arrive Chicago July 30 2. Providence, RI, to visit my son 3. New York City, to meet up with friends 4. Toronto, to visit with a Chinese friend and her family 5. NYC and New Jersey, to see my cousin 6. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to see my daughter and her husband 7. Louisville, KY, to see the rest of the family 8. Dallas-Fort Worth airport, to fly back to China Aug. 28 Three domestic flights, four train rides and one cross-country drive await me this time. I’m going to try to blog the whole while, like a travelogue. We’ll see how that goes. Hah. As the term was winding down last month, I had much more ambitious travel plans, since I had four weeks in July to kill.* My first idea was to stop in Tokyo for a few days, since it’s “on the way.” But the airlines are nefarious in their pricing. A layover of ...

Heavy rains threaten homes, crops across Hunan

JISHOU, HUNAN — Fenghuang has been hit the hardest, maybe, but heavy rains are affecting all of Hunan. Xinhua reports more than 500 homes have been washed away by flood waters, and more than 1.15 million people are affected by flooding. Many rivers and Dongting Lake in northeast Hunan are at least 1 meter (3 feet) above flood stage. In Fenghuang, local officials shut off power at 8 this morning as a safety precaution and four hours earlier, public safety officers were moving people out of threatened areas. Close to 110,000 residents and tourists have been evacuated to higher ground, as water levels of the Tuo River have exceeded 1.5 meters (4.5 feet) over normal. The wooden Fengyu Bridge, which was built in 2008, has been washed away by the Tuo flood waters and the stone Hong Bridge has sustained heavy water damage. Both are popular tourist attractions. This page shows Fengyu Bridge in the process of being washed out, as well as other photos tweeted from Fenghuang today. Across Hunan, officials the rains have ruined close to 54,100 hectares of farmland and will result in economic losses of 940 million yuan ($150 million). We’re expecting at least two more ...

Fenghuang flooded after three days of torrential rain

JISHOU, HUNAN — The ancient quarter of Fenghuang, an hour’s drive from here, is underwater now after the Tuo River overflowed its banks after three days of heavy rain. The shopping district is closed to tourists, and power is out in most of the city along the river. I haven’t heard reports of any casualties. I was just there last week, and everything was normal. Here are some photos obtained from Baidu News. We are expecting more rain the rest of this week. The campus here in Jishou has some minor flooding around Fengyu Lake, but I am high and dry in my mountain aeyrie. So, I’m OK.

Testing out a new Facebook app 1

JISHOU, HUNAN — As often happens in the land of open source applications, the developer who created Wordbooker has abandoned the project. So, now I’m trying a new WordPress plugin called Facebook Auto Publish. If you can see this post, it’s working. Wordbooker allowed me to automatically post from this blog to my Facebook timeline, but occasionally it would fail because FB would require re-authorization of the app, or FB would change its APIs, breaking the feed. Facebook Auto Publish promises to do the same thing. I have just set it up. So here goes! — Twenty-five minutes later, I believe I have it working right. We’ll see if it takes this update and pushes it to Facebook.

Your lazy blogger checks in

JISHOU, HUNAN — Well, I’ve lots of blog ideas swimming around in my head these last three weeks, but none of them ended up in print till now. The muse was on vacation, and just got back from Mallorca. OK, I was being lazy. So, here’s what’s new here, in the middle of the Middle Kingdom. I passed my annual health tests, which are required for all foreigners working in China. The schedule is: blood test, chest X-ray, ultrasound of abdominal area, blood pressure (135/71), height and weight. Takes about an hour to get them all done, but the testing requires a trip to the provincial capital, Changsha, to the international travel health office. Hunan citizens who will work or study abroad have to visit the same place for more extensive testing. The university pays the fees for my tests, about 500 yuan ($80 or so). Outbound Chinese pay between 800 and 1,000 yuan for their physical examinations. Cash only, by the way. Sue, the new foreign affairs officer, accompanied me and took care of the arrangements. While I was there, I met a young American working at a kindergarten. He said he’s been working in Changsha for three years ...

Using Bitcoin to top up your cellphone minutes

JISHOU, HUNAN — Here’s a practical use for Bitcoin: I just topped up my friend’s cellphone account by sending Bitcoin from my phone’s wallet. My friend Laura is in Beijing and for various reasons not pertinent to this discussion, asked me to top up her cellphone account. Normally. I could do it from my computer by logging into my online bank account services and sending funds to top up any Chinese cellphone number. Trouble is, the entire campus hasn’t had Internet access since 11:30 am (it’s now 4 pm), and she needed the funds right away. So, I could have walked to the campus China Mobile office — in the pouring rain — and put in cash money — assuming their Internet was working — but I decided to try a new service called Piiko a try. Piiko allows you to top up cellphone accounts worldwide just by entering the country code + phone number and paying with Bitcoin. I had about $20 in my cell’s Bitcoin wallet, so I tried sending half that to Laura’s account. It worked! Here are the details. To use it with your mobile phone, you need to have a Bitcoin wallet on your phone, ...
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