Only days ago I was bragging about how crisp, clear, beautiful, and blue the Beijing skies were on the first three days of November: Thursday the 1st through Saturday the 3rd. Maybe November should be Olympic month?

Then it turned out that, by November 4th and 5th, things weren't looking so great any more. Maybe the 1st through 3rd as a concentrated Olympic schedule?

Now I find a report from an American who actually went for a run on that same blue-sky Saturday, Nov 3 afternoon that had raised my spirits -- only to be laid up as if with a sudden case of emphysema. As a reminder, here is how it looked that day:http://i142.photobucket.com/albums/r96/jfallows/IMG_4095.jpg

And here is what it was like to go for a run:

Well, apparently poor air quality doesn't begin to engulf your lungs until they are stressed... With each passing step it became more painfully obvious that the air had overtaken my lungs. For perspective, it was like a having a large man press against my chest and every attempt to gasp for more air only made him heavier.



Small world dept: He was running along (a different part of ) the very same road shown in the blue-sky picture above, within an hour or so of the time I took it. Which means -- something, maybe that there is stuff in the air even when it's blue.*

So, I guess the Olympic target dates are down to Nov 1 and 2. And if you're thinking that Nov 6 might work, here is the view out the apartment window this morning, with 276 days to the Olympics:

http://i142.photobucket.com/albums/r96/jfallows/IMG_4127.jpg

*Small world #2: The runner is a young man named J.P. Fielder, who was with a visiting delegation from the National Association of Manufacturers. When I happened to meet him yesterday at a discussion session, he looked very much like a healthy 20-something specimen training for his next marathon, which I gather he is doing. He just won't do much more training here, I'm guessing. Thanks to Carter Wood of the NAM for posting Fielder's account.

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