So we’re walking outside our hotel tonight, and we see this…

Rice Cannon

Now we’re not even sure what we’re looking at. With nearby construction sites, I’m thinking he’s doing some weird cement mixing or something. If not that, he’s doing some odd pottery baking. He’s cranking this blackened pot around and around in a fire. Like I said, we have no idea what he’s doing. Logically then, we have no idea how long whatever he’s doing is going to take. So we walk away.

And that’s when things went up a notch.

We turned our backs and walked away. We’d taken no more than six steps.

And then a CANNON went off right behind us. No joke. The sound rattled off of every building in the street and set off car alarms in the area.

My wife is normally cool and composed in nearly every situation. But in that moment, it sounded as if an unnamed Sesame Street character was trying to escape from her throat. I’ve replayed that squeak-cry-yell-yelp-scream-squawk several times since the boom… and it makes me laugh out loud every time.

In fact, the moments after the blast were some of the best on our trip.

We laughed.

And laughed.

And laughed.

We replayed the whole thing over and over, laughing so hard that we had to stop and bend over several times.

If you could have seen the crowd, I’m sure you’d have seen an old guy (the blast-causer) amused at the two foreigners he’d just caused to pee themselves. The rest of the onlookers would have thought we were drunk from how hard we were laughing at ourselves.

So I never finished…

What WAS the noise?

You won’t believe the answer.

As we walked around a nearby park, we heard the noise several more times, so we knew it hadn’t been an accident. As we returned, we heard it again, and noticed that some product of the blasts was actually being bagged and sold to customers. And there was a familiar smell in the air.

I mean, a really familiar smell.

He was making popcorn.

Yeah, he was using some “I’ve-never-seen-that-before-what-the-heck-is-it-and-what-planet-am-I-on” method to make a snack.

Orville would be proud.

PS: We’ve since learned that it was actually rice instead of corn. So Snap, Crackle, and Pop are technically the fellows who would be proud.


So two days ago, we finished a mutual night shift at 6:30 AM (Yes, I joined Shannon for her final shift.) and headed straight to check out of our hotel, pack up, and make it on to our train by 8:30… in a city of 8 million.  Making it in good time to the station, we felt a bit of relief as we’d had a friend miss a similar train earlier in the week.  Joining the crowds through the gates and down on to the platform, we were reminded that giant and heavy suitcases on wheels are mistakes in China.  Don’t get me wrong… giant and heavy suitcases without wheels are worse.  But the point here is that backpacks are your friends.


As we approached the train, our car’s doors weren’t opened yet.  As well, no one to check tickets was there yet.  Logically (we thought), we’ll simply wait in line.  But logic can prove to be fleeting some days.  So we stood and waited in line, while chunks of the crowd started to pry open the train windows and heave their bags, their friends, and themselves through them up into the waiting train car.

Now we had tickets for seats, so our only concern was finding space enough to store our beastly luggage somewhere other than on our laps.  When we finally did board the train, the car was already filled to over capacity.  The aisle up which one walks and wheels luggage is exactly (within half an inch) the width of our beastliest suitcase… meaning if ANYONE or ANYTHING is in that aisle, you have a problem.  In a car already filled beyond capacity… you’re likely getting the picture… there were plenty of anyones and anythings in our way.  And Murphy was in full effect on this early morning: After entering the train at seat #1, we observed our tickets to be #’s 63-64.  Yes, those are the ones at the opposite end of the filled-to-more-than-capacity train car, as far as possible from where our oh-so-big bags currently stood.


Twenty sweat-filled minutes later, we had beastly bags up on shelves, and seats under our butts.  I forgot to mention that all this crowded maneuvering and body-to-body positioning took place in early morning weather of 30+ degrees with higher humidity than anything home gets.  I was glad I wore my grubby clothes for travel day—those might not be coming home.  And no, don’t worry—I won’t miss them.  I had the gift of sitting in them for 8 hours of sweating after they were already dirty.  Those clothes and me… we’re real tight.

So I know you’re asking…

“Jason, how can I too have this rich experience?”

Well, let me tell you… all this can be had for the low price of 39 yuan.  Yes, that’s right… you can travel 8 hours across the country for all of $5 too.  And just think of the memories!



I don’t.

There have been days when I’ve sat around wondering what I could do to receive more threats to my safety?  I recently stumbled upon the secret.

Don’t sign up with Facebook.

Yes, that’s right. I received a threat of bodily harm if I didn’t get a Facebook account.

A random web-surfer?  No.

An obsessed fan?  Not quite!

No, this threat (one of physical damage) was from one of my Facebook-psychot-i-fied friends, who must have been on the receiving end of a dozen or so “No, I won’t be your friend” emails or something.

With or without Facebook, some folks are just nuts.


I was doing a search for an image, and I had to post this one.


Because it is MESSING with me.

Now go.

And be messed with.

Big Pig

Definitely, the weirdest story I’ve heard in a while…

Need the details? Read the story HERE.

If you want more crazy pics of this beast, you can visit its website (Yes, that’s what I said… “its website”) at

Aside from the odd commentary on why Christians should feel free to hunt (Yes, mark that up as one more point for “why the world wonders who the heck we are and what is wrong with us”.), the site at least gives a few more good shots of the biggest sausage ever.

An aside…

I submit this story as proof that I’m finding it a bit tough to blog lately.