Let’s make the annual airpocalypse *fun*

Let’s make air pollution fun. I need your ideas.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) runs 0-500. I want to make hitting 300, 400 and 500 fun — like make a drinking game or something. (But, you know, not an actual drinking game, of course… I do want to remember my Januarys in China…)

Here’s what the numbers really mean:

  • Below 50 = Sane
  • 100 = Pretty Bad
  • 150 = Daddy, the air tastes funny
  • 200 = I’d rather eat a donkey again
  • 300 = Dude, where’s my car?
  • 400 = The sun doesn’t hurt my eyes anymore
  • 500 = AIRPOCALYPSE!

aqi_app_screenshotThe AQI determines when we turn on our D.I.Y. air purifiers, wear masks, and don’t let the kids play outside. In the screenshot, the first location is our area of Qingdao. The bottom two are where I grew up in Canada.

Why? Because an important part of living healthily here (is that a word?) — emotionally, I mean — is responding positively and constructively (or at least creatively) to negative things. Routinely complaining about stuff just makes you feel worse and conditions your character in ugly ways. Gallows humour might not be the best response, but it’s at least one step up from whining, right? ;)

It’s hardest to maintain healthy thought habits in January — the cold, dry, grey, dog days of winter between Christmas and the end of Chinese New Year — because homesickness is peaking (all those Skype calls and Christmas photos from far away), everyone has cabin fever, and the air pollution is at its perennial worst.

But I sense potential for fun here. At 300, everybody has to… what? At 400? At 500 what do we get to do?