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Monday, April 22, 2013

Things to do in Falls Church when you're alive

Amber rides her bad Hello Kitty bike

As anyone who has been anywhere near a TV at all this past week can tell you, things have been more than a little interesting here in the U.S. Now that the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombings has apparently come to end with the death of one of the suspects and the arrest of the other, prepare yourself for the inevitable, and very American, overreaction to the events that have occurred since last Monday. Expect further restrictions and invasions of privacy in the name of "public safety", and if you happen to be a Muslim-American, prepare yourself for the veiled (and not-so-veiled) racism to come. Most disturbing are the calls by some to treat Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an "alien combatant". Odious though his actions may have been, Tsarnaev is an American citizen, and if we let our fears take primacy over our long-established (and hard-fought) civil rights traditions, the terrorists will rightfully claim to have ultimately won. This was the week that also saw the death of yet another attempt to provide some sanity to our ridiculous approach to regulating firearms. Funny how those very same reactionary, racist elements in our society (including some extended relatives in my own family), who so proudly parade their misinterpretation of the Second Amendment as being in the defense of the Constitution against a tyrannical regime (an administration headed by an African-American president, in other words), are so quick to dispense with the Sixth Amendment because some nasty person happens to have followed the wrong religion and/or originally come from the wrong part of the world.

But that's America.

At least some 113 million people in this country hold a U.S. passport (according to an article I read the other day), which means a significant minority of the population has, in theory, the opportunity to travel abroad and see for themselves just how complex the world actually is, and perhaps someday change the way we look at our ourselves and our relationships with other societies. Or they could just spend their overseas vacations at Club Med.

In any event, all is quiet on the domestic front. My mobility is still relatively limited, but I am finding it easier to walk, even with the full leg brace on. I start physical therapy on Tuesday, and hopefully everything will continue to progress well so that we can leave for China as originally scheduled. I've spent a lot of time this weekend sitting in the armchair with my left leg raised up on a chair, watching a lot of baseball games on TV while attempting to study Mandarin. But this afternoon I had to get out, so I took my daughter for a bike ride through the cemetery next door to our apartment complex. This is one of those activities that could never be done back in Taiwan, or would at least have raised a lot of eyebrows, due to certain social customs and traditional beliefs (and the fact that Taiwanese cemeteries in general aren't cycle-friendly). In this country, a cemetery, with its well-manicured lawns and placements of trees and flowers, can be a peaceful place for an afternoon stroll, and Amber and I weren't alone (among the living, at least) while we were out there among the gravestones. Spring was clearly in the air today:

Amber enjoyed the small hills on the cemetery grounds, and the speed she was able to maintain:

But even among the dearly departed in old Virginia, there was no getting away from the Chinese language:

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