1) Since the end of the Olympic (yes, during the 16 days of the Olympic, most of it was still either raining or misty, but visible changes, i.e. blue sky, emerged only towards the last few days), the sky has been largely blue.
The best days were between Aug 20-Sep 20, I had thought. What surprised me is that the sky had been particularly clear AFTER the Paralympic (i.e. normal traffic jam resumed after September 20)! Perhaps there is a time lag of about 15-25 days between the government measures and the results (traffic control started on July 20 but clear sky refused to emerge until almost a week after Olympic Opening, or a month after July 20)
There are a few possible reasons behind what made the sky blue
a) The weather -- it had been cooled and there had been rains in the past few days, washing away the smog, or the fall often presents clear sky as temperature cools down (but this does not explain the sky between 1995-2007)
b) Traffic is only part of the problems, the factories (and perahps others) contributed more to the haze (but then many factories resumed work, I suppose)
c) There is a time lag between the cause and effect as mentioned above (and it takes quite a few days to accumulate or clear the smog) -- perhaps the most plausible answer
d) (my wishful thinking) perhaps something permanent has been done (factory migration, etc) catalyzed by the Olympic -- wishful thinking are usually the less likely
2) I went to one of the most famed (and popular) restaurant a while ago. It is called Na Jia Xiao Guan (That little restaurant, literally). Very nice "indoor courtyard" setting with great food, reasonable price, unlike the notorious Lan Club which is a blatant rip-off targetting ex-pat. It is located on the street just behind Lan.
It is almost impossible to make dinner reservation, but early lunch are usually wide open. (this applies to many other restaurants, e.g. Da Dong)
What I want to say about is not something like a food critique, but about how radical Chinese capitalism and hence management style could become. As illustrated by this customer feedback card, where you have the photos of all staff (including the manager) and you can pick any card to vote. In US I suppose this might lead to law suit from the employee(?)
The score card of Najiaxiaoguan
It follows that the service is very good, as is for many other restaurants in mainland China.
3) This picture is taken in a Hutong, which are plentiful in Beijing. The old residence had been utilizing the soil and space to plant various kind of agricultural products (like the Hulu / gourd / "zuchini" in this picture). One thing I had been wondering was why 99% of the trees on our streets (worldwide) do not bear fruit. I reckon that cleaning the ground may be a problem, but still ... here the Beijing residents did it inside the Hutongs.