Beijing, 12 April 2013

We were discussing weighty matters yesterday afternoon, the security situation of our organization here in China. It’s a review we carry out once a year, in the Spring. Not unnaturally, the new outbreak of bird flu in the Shanghai area was the first topic on the agenda. After a review of where things stand, we concluded that the new flu virus H7N9 currently represents a moderate threat to our staff members and their dependents, but we agreed that we will need to closely follow the flu’s progress. Next on the agenda: North Korea and the recent ratcheting up of tensions there which I alluded to in a previous post. Conclusion: low to moderate concern for us in China, but the Security Officer to monitor the situation and report back. And so on, down the list of possible threats, both natural, like earthquakes, and man-made, like the outbursts of violent agitation in the Eastern provinces over land use.

All the while, I admired the magnolia in the garden outside the window, with its silky white flowers standing out against the tender green of a weeping willow tree unfurling into leaf. At the meeting’s start, both were picked out with vivid intensity by the sun. But as the meeting wore on and the sun moved in its arc across the sky, the shadows drew in and cast a pall of grey over the white and green.

picture 004

And so our security review was done for another year.

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I like writing, but I’ve spent most of my life writing about things that don’t particularly interest me. Finally, as I neared the age of 60, I decided to change that. I wanted to write about things that interested me. What really interests me is beauty. So I’ve focused this blog on beautiful things. I could be writing about a formally beautiful object in a museum. But it could also be something sitting quietly on a shelf. Or it could be just a fleeting view that's caught my eye, or a momentary splash of colour-on-colour at the turn of the road. Or it could be a piece of music I've just heard. Or a piece of poetry. Or food. And I’m sure I’ve missed things. But I’ll also write about interesting things that I hear or read about. Isn't there a beauty about things pleasing to the mind? I started just writing, but my wife quickly persuaded me to include photos. I tried it and I liked it. So my posts are now a mix of words and pictures, most of which I find on the internet. What else about me? When I first started this blog, my wife and I lived in Beijing where I was head of the regional office of the UN Agency I worked for. So at the beginning I wrote a lot about things Chinese. Then we moved to Bangkok, where again I headed up my Agency's regional office. So for a period I wrote about Thailand and South-East Asia more generally. But we had lived in Austria for many years before moving to China, and anyway we both come from Europe my wife is Italian while I'm half English, half French - so I often write about things European. Now I'm retired and we've moved back to Europe, so I suppose I will be writing a lot more about the Old Continent, interspersed with posts we have gone to visit. What else? We have two grown children, who had already left the nest when we moved to China, but they still figure from time to time in my posts. I’ll let my readers figure out more about me from reading what I've written. As these readers will discover, I really like trees. So I chose a tree - an apple tree, painted by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt - as my gravatar. And I chose Abellio as my name because he is the Celtic God of the apple tree. I hope you enjoy my posts. http://ipaintingsforsale.com/UploadPic/Gustav Klimt/big/Apple Tree I.jpg

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