No sooner had we returned to Beijing than the little realities of life here started to make themselves felt. We got into our apartment to find that our maid had apparently not been by as regularly as we had asked her to be, since many of our plants had died (we had asked her to water them). That was not that serious, though, since they can be replaced (as can the maid...). But then I found that none of the work that was supposed to have been done in the apartment while we were out had been done, like fixing cracks here and there, repairing the new shower so that the water actually goes down the drain, and things like that. That, too can be fixed. But then I found that we had no power in the office upstairs, explaining why my home computer was not online while we were traveling. So I checked the circuit breaker and found that one had flipped, so I turned it back on and resumed unpacking. A short while later I smelled an odd smell that I tracked back to the upstairs, where I found that our television was on fire. I knew from my old days in Russia that many people would unplug their televisions when not in use since Russian sets had a habit of bursting into flames, but I never thought of doing that with our fancy-schmancy Haier brand flat-screen television. I managed to unplug the damn thing (it was probably not actually on fire yet, just issuing forth copious amounts of smoke) and sent a note to the landlord informing him that he'd have to replace the set and went to bed.
In the morning, J2 had to go to work so I was able to sleep in. Around 10am as I was showering I thought I heard someone downstairs. So I threw on a robe and cursed my rotten luck for having a prowler on the one day when the dogs were not here (they were still at the kennel) and went downstairs to check it out. Our prowler was our landlord's driver, who came by to check out the TV. When asked why he didn't call before coming, he answered that he did not want to disturb me! I gave him what for about scaring me half to death, and showed him the set, which I let him plug back in since I was not about to touch it. He wanted to have a technician come and fix it, but I assured him it was hopeless and sent him on his way.
Then later in the morning I left to go do some errands and as my first stop I went to my police station to pick up Ivan's license. They could not find it initially, but then remembered that our application was rejected because he is too big. I went into a tirade about how he's not too big, etc etc, and was told that his neutering certificate had him listed as a "Sheepdog" so they could not license him since "Sheepdogs" are too big. So I phoned the vet and asked why they had listed my Sheltie (aka Shetland Sheepdog) and was told that they were informed that's what they should write down, but they would add "Shetland (Small)" to the breed name if I brought back the form. So I went to the vet, had them fix the form, and returned to the police station. There they told me that this was still unacceptable, since Shetland Sheepdogs will turn into Collies. I asked if the cop was at all knowledgeable about dogs, and learned that he is not, so I had him phone the vet himself. They managed to straighten him out, but when he put down the phone he informed me that I should have just written "Shetland" on the form, and not "Shetland Sheepdog". I pointed out that that would be like calling a "Pekingese" a "Peking", since "Shetland" is just a place name, but that just made no sense to him. Lesson learned--don't try to reason with a Chinese cop.
Now the dogs are home and looking very good--Ivan has even grown a bit (though still not Collie size...). They seem to have had a good vacation, too!