Saturday/ Seattle Car Show 2011

I am packing up for traveling out tomorrow but still made it to the Seattle Car Show for a quick look-around with some friends.   There was a new Beetle, and the Fiat 500s caught my eye for their nice styling, as did the Mitsubishi electric car.   The white 2012 Chevy Volt was just parked among all the other Chevys and could almost be mistaken for a Chevy Cruze.  CODA is a Southern California car company and its car is all-electric, charges up quickly and can go 150 miles on a single charge.  Not cheap at about $45,000, though.    One more red car to end with : the Audi R8 Spyder.  The price tag for this one is $179,000.

Saturday/ US Jobs report

We are working this weekend – to make up for the extended Chinese holiday weekend.    The US jobs report of Friday was also reported on Japanese TV here.    (Yes, for a Japanese illiterate person I watch way too much Japanese TV, but it’s fun to figure out the graphics).   The symbol 万 man means 10,000  – so it says 103,000 jobs added.   In English we don’t have a symbol for 10,000 but myriad means exactly that, actually.  So a myriagon is a polygon with 10,000 sides.

Of course the 9.1% would be the official US unemployment rate, unchanged.

Thursday/ the SAP transport

We are starting to build our solution in the SAP Development system.   That means we are creating transports – little packets of table entries or program code, and pushing the ‘truck’ button on the Transport Organizer screen.   

The SAP screens that make up the user interface sit atop a gigantic database of connected tables.  So how many are the Germans up to these days in a typical standard SAP system anyway, I wondered?  Well, there is a ‘mother of all tables’ with all the table names by the name of DD02L.  So we can check the number of names in that table.   Not everything that masquerades as a ‘table’ is a true table though.   Some are virtual tables or structures, so those should not be counted.     Finally, let’s filter out any custom tables (in most SAP systems there would be no more than a few 100, anyway).   And the answer is – drum roll ..  –  80, 674.     That’s a lot !   

Monday/ at Johannesburg airport

I made it in to Johannesburg from Cape Town International airport (a 2 hr flight) and will start out for Frankfurt, Germany in a few hours.   (I stay over Tue night in Frankfurt).   There was a big zebra picture outside the lounge in Cape Town – impossible to fit in with the phone camera on my outstretched arm!     And I found the the friendly gang with a giraffe on board the Whatatoy(ota) bus at Johannesburg airport.   They say ‘Sanbonani’ (Swazi for ‘Welcome to All’),  Thobela (Pedi for ‘How are you?’) and Hamba Kahle (Nguni for ‘Go Well’, ‘Mooi loop’ as we say in Afrikaans).   

Saturday/ immortal peaches

The weekend finds me in Hong Kong again, and these works of art are from a display in the Pacific Place II mall on Hong Kong island.   The artist is Qu Guang Ci, born in 1969 in Shanghai and currently living and working in Beijing.  The bunnies on the floor are really faces with bunny ears and are called the ‘The Bunny Guy’.    The second picture shows the ‘Immortal Peaches and Cake’ depicting Sun Wukong, the ‘Protector of the Peaches’ from the famous Chinese novel Journey to the West.    Eating them makes one immortal (which sounds very much like the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden!).     The man and woman in the Zongshan suits (also known in the West as Mao suits) are called ‘Standing On High’.   I am not sure what that refers to, and it is hard to read from their facial expressions what they feel !

Monday/ star fruit on a tree

Check out this Carambola tree with its starfruit – disguised as a leaf ? : )-  in the Kaiping area from yesterday.   The tree is native to the Philippines.

P.S.  So the Spanish team La Furia Roja did it.   Good for them and our sympathies to the Dutch.   The organizer of the Work Cup Soccer pool I participated in, won it.  Always a little suspect if that happens!

Sunday/ World Soccer Cup Final

May the best team win! I will not see it since it will start at 2.30 am in the morning here.   I picked Brazil (wrong!) over Spain in the final in the draw I submitted at the start of the tournament, so I didn’t do too badly.   But I guess I expect Spain to win, then.

And congratulations to the organizers and to South Africa on making such a success of hosting the event.   The New York Times ran a very complimentary article today –

Sunday/ visit to Kaiping hot springs, villages

And here’s Sunday’s pictures of the bus trip.    We stayed overnight at a hot springs resort (building with the palm trees in front)/   The highlight of the stay was to have my feet nibbled by a horde of tiny freshwater fish!  More about that later with a picture someone else took that I still have to get.  The village pictures are in the Kaiping area, a World Heritage Site .. as China’s history goes, they were built very recently, about 100 years ago.    The picture below the one of the banyan tree shows rice lied out to dry; the husks are still on.     The berry fruit grows on the trees in the area,  it is called yellow skin or yellow seed (I will follow up), as does the cute stubby bananas (delicious).    I found the truck with the pigs getting cooled down at a rest stop, and I can never resist taking a picture of a beautiful Chinese gate arch !

Saturday/ bus trip to Taishan

The company coach bus picked us up at 8am and we made our way to Taishan in western Guangdong province.  It is the site of 2 new nuclear reactors for which construction started in Nov 2009.   The units will each have a maximum capacity of 1,750 MW and is a third generation pressurized water reactor (PWR) design called EPR for European Pressurized Reactor, or CEPR which stands for China European Pressurized Reactor.  Two other units currently under construction, one in Finland and one in France, are both facing costly construction delays.

Here is a link with more information

http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90776/90883/6849430.html

Pictures from the top down :   Typical road-side scenery- these are fish farms with aerators for the water; we encountered several large suspension bridges since we had to cross Shenzhen and the Pearl River delta from east to west; a model of the new nuclear reactors.   The shell is a double layer.  The black cylinders contain the nuclear fuel.   Behind me is the construction site.  There will eventually be six reactors lined up alongside the hillside.   The first two are slated for a 2014 start-up.

Friday/ chinese fuwa dolls

One of our team members leaving the project got a pair of fuwa dolls as a gift (first picture).

The Fuwa in the second picture (Chinese: 福娃; pinyin: Fúwá; literally “good-luck dolls”, also known as “Friendlies”), were the mascots of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.   The designs were created by Han Meilin, a famous Chinese artist.   Check out more interesting detail on Wikipedia’s entry for ‘Fuwa’.

Finally, this also solves the mystery of my March 23 posting.    The Hong Kong picture actually had three of the Beijing Olympics fuwa characters on it.

Thursday/ Dameisha sidewalk food

We had dinner tonight at a co-worker’s apartment .. he had shrimp and beef steak that was bought in Shenzhen, and cooked up potatoes and green beans in a wok to go with it : very good.

I took this picture on while walking on the way back to my apartment.  It is high summer, and people are outside until late at night here in the beach town of Dameisha.   I am not adventurous enough to try the food sold on the sidewalk : ( .. if I could cross the language barrier and inquire about the strange looking items on offer, it might have been different!

Wednesday/ Kaiping and Taishan

To my brother Chris : Happy Birthday!  Wow!  It’s a Big One. Veels Geluk!

The company is organizing a road trip for us out into Guangdong province to Kaiping and Taishan for this weekend.  There is a hot springs resort at Kaiping, and some interesting historical watchtowers, and a nuclear power station at Taishan which we will tour.    Click the map to enlarge.

Tuesday/ the USA pavilion at the 2010 World Expo

So here is (some of) the story of the USA pavilion at the 2010 World Expo.    Since I realized too late where it was, I just couldn’t retrace my steps there on Saturday.    Finding a picture of the completed pavilion on-line is surprisingly hard, and a rendition of it is shown below.   It’s supposed to be an eagle with welcoming ‘arms’ drawing people in.   I don’t know that I see an eagle there.

Clive Grout, the Canadian architect commissioned to design pavilion is on record saying :
“The building is designed here the way we’d do it if it was in downtown Philadelphia or in Los Angeles.    It’s a model for high-density, low-rise development in our cities. We have a very prominent site and it is the USA Pavilion. People will find it. We have not felt the need to do an architectural handstand to get attention.”

[Well blah.  A little architectural flair would have been nice].

And here is a blunt assessment of a Chinese journalist (I lost the name of the person and the publication) : The lack of enthusiasm in America has something to do with its national traditions.  America has traditionally pursued isolationism and is only concerned with itself rather than the outside world.  Even though things changed after the Second World War, on the whole, Americans still believe devoutly that “all politics are local,” and congressmen only care about things that affect their own district.  Naturally they do not approve of allocating money for this Exposition.

[Funding for the pavilion had to be raised from private donors, due to legislative limitations prohibiting the use of appropriated funding for an American presence at World’s Fairs unless expressly authorized by Congress].

Monday/ I am so late, I am early

There must have been a black storm cloud hanging over my head in Shanghai because another severe rainstorm with lightning broke out just as our in-bound flight was arriving, forcing it to land at Hangzhou airport an hour away.   It took a very very long time for that plane to make it back to Shanghai.  We eventually left at 2 am (scheduled departure was 6pm), and arrived into a closed Shenzhen airport at 4 am Monday morning sans luggage.   The bags are still in Shanghai.   But I had a lucky break in that a colleague from the China team was on the same late flight, so she could help me at the Lost Luggage counter, and we hunted down literally the only available taxi at Shenzhen airport that morning.   We had to walk through a dark terminal to get there.   So as I arrived here in Dameisha at 6.15am, I begged off going into work this morning, and will go in only this afternoon.

So – Polite language and no noising, please (sign from a line at the Expo): I need to get some sleep.

Sunday/ happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!  I am at Shanghai’s Hangqiao Airport waiting for my flight to Shenzhen.   The sequence of symbols is from Google’s homepage (I love it) and below that is the closest I can offer to a fireworks picture : the view from my hotel last night over Shanghai with the blue LED glow underneath one of the freeways (it gets switched off at 11pm).  The Marriott at Tomorrow Square is unusual (for me at least) in that its lobby is on the 38th floor of a skyscaper building.  My room was on the 45th floor, and the lounge is on the 60th.   Consider that the Bank of China building has 73 floors and that 100 floors is pretty much as high as skyscrapers go.

Saturday/ 2010 World Expo in Shanghai II

Alright .. more pictures.  The iron oxide -coated (rusted) exterior is of the Luxembourg pavilion.   Latvia takes one on a hot-air balloon tour of the country.  Then Russia, Algeria and South Africa – which had displays and arts and crafts inside such the baskets woven from telephone wire and the husse met lang ore*. The rest of the continent was housed under the Africa pavilion.  Then the UK pavilion, Poland and Spain, and a somewhat scary baby.   The cute fishes are on the Pacific Pavilion, the figure from the Solomon Islands.  Then Singapore, Malaysia and .. drum roll ! the giant red China pavilion (which had a really impossibly long line of people trying to get into it).   Finally, the Saudi Arabia pavilion and a building for Asia.   And a Find the Willem picture to end with.

*Husse met lang ore = Afrikaans for ‘curious’ things or creatures with ‘long ears’, used as a reply to someone, usually a child,  asking ‘what’s inside?’ or ‘what’s that?’

Soo .. you may ask : what about the United States of America pavilion?   Is there one?  Yes there is! – but I did not get to it because it was a little out of the way, and I knew what it looked like.  I will write about it tomorrow.

Saturday/ 2010 World Expo in Shanghai I

So .. what does one do in Shanghai if it’s 36 ºC  (97 ºF) and steamy outside and you wanted to go to the World Expo?  You go anyway.    There was a massive downpour with lightning during my visit as well ! We had to find cover for 40 mins and the public announcement said to stay away from tall structures and not to touch any metal.

So what is the Expo?  It’s a modern world’s fair – countries were invited to host a pavilion and put content inside which should illustrate the theme of the Expo : ‘Better Life/ Better City’ and sustainability.    The Expo is actually as much about that, as it is about putting Shanghai on the world map and attracting visitors from all over the world.

But I will let the pictures tell the story.

Top to bottom : The entrance to the Expo from the Shanghai Metro station .. very convenient since there is a stop across the street from my Marriott hotel.
Artwork in the ‘Expo Axis’, an elevated walkway,  a totem pole of animal heads.   (By the way: I treated the entire expo more as an outdoor and architectural exhibition.   Most pavilions had very long lines, and it seemed a better use of my time to walk around outside).

And how about this whimsical Picasso-like blob with legs?  Like it?  : )

Next two pics of the Taiwan pavilion, then Nepal and India.   The flying saucer is the Expo Cultural Center.    It will stick around after October (most other structures will be torn down) and has a concert arena, movie theaters and restaurants inside.

It provides a nice view of some of the pavilions.  The giant red upside down tapered one is the China pavilion.   The Korea pavilion (perforated 3D surface) is where the rain storm hit, and I huddled under a canvas umbrella there for a long time.

The rain stopped (sort of) and here are the Israel, Pakistan and Jordan pavilions.   The ‘Urbania’ pavilion was one of the themed pavilions, with colorful artwork outside.

This is a coconut milk stand outside the Phillippines pavilion, followed by Thailand, Australia and Portugal.  Then Bosnia & Herzegovina and the Republic of San Marino (‘the oldest and smallest republic in the world’ its tag line), Norway beautiful wooden structure, the Ukraine, Turkey and Iceland’s ice cube.   Sweden (also the picture with the red horse), Latvia, Germany (a very engineered construction – and we wouldn’t want it any other way) and the Netherlands.

Friday/ winter melon

Yesterday’s lunch .. pork and winter melon,  noodles and flat bread.

[Picture and text from Wikipedia] The winter melon, also called white gourd, ash gourd, or “fuzzy melon”, is a vine grown for its very large fruit, eaten as a vegetable  when mature.   It is the only member of the genus Benincasa. The fruit is fuzzy when young.  The immature melon has thick white flesh that is sweet when eaten.   By maturity, the fruit loses its hairs and develops a waxy  coating, giving rise to the name wax gourd, and providing a long shelf life.   The melon may grow as large as 80cm (30 in)  in length.   Although the fruit is referred to as a “melon,” the fully grown crop is not sweet.   Originally cultivated in Southeast Asia, the winter melon is now widely grown in East Asia and South Asia as well.

Thursday/ big 大 man人

Our newest American team member is 6’4 and therefore a big man | dà rén |大人,  as indicated by the label on his chair : ).   The head on the first Chinese character is bogus, but one can see why it is tempting to draw it on there.

I thought I would not be up to it – but I am – going back to Shanghai this weekend to see if I can get to the 2010 World Expo.   It’s a challenge to get into the big pavilions, those for China and the USA.   I hope I will at least be able to admire the weird and wonderful structures from outside.

Sad news from the Overseas China Town (OCT) theme park right next door to Dameisha : 6 people were killed and 10 injured in a terrible accident on Tuesday on one of the rides that malfunctioned due to an electrical short circuit.

Wednesday/ at work

The blue water bottle is new –  it’s summer and I need plenty of water.  The blue notebook is old – no electronic note taking in meetings for me, thank you.  Cannot type fast enough, cannot draw, cannot doodle on the computer.  The three symbols on the purple sticker says ‘Dameisha’, and the wireless mouse is about to get new batteries.   Hi ho hi ho it’s off to work we go!    Recognize it?  Scroll down ..

It’s from the song from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.   Here’s more : ) .. it ain’t no trick/ to get rich quick/ if you dig dig dig/ with a shovel or a pick/ in a mine (in a mine)/ in a mine (in a mine)/ where a million diamonds shine/  we dig dig dig dig dig dig dig from early morn to night/ we dig dig dig dig dig dig dig up everything in sight/ we dig up diamonds by the score/ a thousand rubies/ sometimes more/ we don’t know what we dig them for/ we dig dig dig-ga dig dig ..