Sunday/ remodeled Starbucks

The remodeled Starbucks on Olive Way opens at 5 am Monday morning.  I like the red-brick and black color scheme.   I will not be there at 5am! (yikes), but I will go there later.  It was another clear and cool day and the night temperature will dip down to 42 F (5 C).

Saturday/ ready to vote

I have my mail-in ballot, my voters’ pamphlet and my post card urging me to vote.  Here in Washington state we have a record number of initiatives on the ballot and I will dedicate another post to what they are.     One of our incumbent senators is up against a Republican in a close race, too.

Friday/ pumpkin beer

Bryan, Gary and I had beers and dinner at the Elysian the way we usually do on Fridays.   There is a pumpkin beer festival on this weekend, but the pumpkin beer was available already. (Yes, it’s real pumpkin that is used to brew the beer.  There are pumpkins everywhere this time of year with Halloween approaching).   I like the beer! .. mine was a beer with a little ginger in as well.

Thursday/ ‘Die Antwoord’ in Seattle

I stumbled on a print ad for ‘Die Antwoord’ (Afr. for ‘The Answer’) in the newspaper here .. oh! what do you know, I thought – a South African band.  Well, it’s more of a hip-hop crew.  They did pick Seattle as the first city for their North American tour.   But 1. I hardly ever go to musical performances (yes, I should try harder to go), and 2. it appears to me their white trash “zef” aesthetic, crudeness and gimmickry will NOT appeal to me.   But maybe I am not open-minded enough, because here is what Jonathan Zwickel wrote in the Seattle Times : Gimmickry is only one facet of the group’s art-school conceptualism and culturally-plundering spectacle. Husband-and-wife duo Ninja and Yo-landi Vi$$er — backed last night by tour DJ Fishsticks — are one of the most nuanced developments in hip-hop this year. Their videos demonstrate a jarringly grotesque visual aesthetic; their major label debut “$O$,” released earlier this week, obsesses about miscegenation and deviant sexuality.   And Wednesday night’s 50-minute performance revealed undeniable star power.

Wednesday/ Bryan Bros. in Shanghai

A colleague alerted me to this picture posted on the Bryan Bros.’* website.  His wife happened to bring their baby in for a routine check-up to the hospital in Shanghai, and ran into them.  I love the giant tennis ball.

*Twin brothers Robert Charles Bryan (Bob) and Michael Carl Bryan (Mike) are American professional tennis players.   At one point they were the World No. 1 doubles team for 201 weeks.   Between 2005 and 2006, they set an Open Era record by competing in seven consecutive men’s doubles Grand Slam finals, three of which they won.   On February 26, 2010, they recorded their Open Era record 600th match win by defeating Taylor Dent and Ryan Harrison in the semi-finals of the Delray Beach ATP 250 tournament.


The skyline is of our twin city Bellevue on the ‘east side’ of Lake Washington.  We in the city of Seattle just say ‘on the east side’ for any city or neighborhood that is east of Lake Washington.   I took the picture from Bellevue Square, a nice shopping mall.    Hard to day if mall traffic is light or not given that I don’t go there regularly and it was a week night.  A new Microsoft store is about to open there – almost right next to the Apple store, no less.     And I’m posting a picture of the old logo for The Gap (on the left), a casual wear clothing store, and the new logo (on the right).   Management unveiled the new logo to such a storm of protest from customers that they ditched it and stuck with the old one.

P.S. Very heartwarming to see the Chilean miners coming out from 700m below ground, one by one.

Monday/ Columbus Day

It’s the second Monday in October and therefore Columbus Day in the USA.   Columbus ‘discovered’ the Americas around this time in 1492 (the indigenous people had been here LONG before that, of course).  And he didn’t really discover what is today the USA. Wikipedia put it like this : Christopher Columbus (c. 31 October 1451 – 20 May 1506) was a navigator, colonizer, and explorer from the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy, whose voyages across the Atlantic Ocean led to general European awareness of the American continents in the Western Hemisphere. Spain and the other Americas celebrate Columbus Day as well – but not Canada.

The voyages of Columbus [Source: Wikipedia].

Sunday/ 10/10/10 and gold

That’s a date reference (yes, I’m cheating a little since the year is 2010 but oh well).  It is also the birthday of Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger (10 October 1825 – 14 July 1904), better known as Paul Kruger and affectionately known as Uncle Paul (Dutch: “Oom Paul”).   He was State President of the erstwhile South African Republic (Transvaal).   He gained international renown as the face of Boer resistance against the British during the South African or Second Boer War (1899–1902).

The Krugerrand is a South African gold coin, first minted in 1967 to help market South African gold.  It is produced by the South African Mint Company.   It is minted from gold alloy that is 91.67% pure (22 karats), so the coin contains one troy ounce (31.1035 g) of gold.    The second picture shows the rise of the gold price since 2000.   Friday it closed at US$1,318.95  on the New York Stock Exchange.  Is it headed even higher?

Saturday/ our own little Oktoberfest

I attended a little Oktoberfest party at my friends Ken and Steve’s tonight.  The stein below is one of Steve’s collection of some 30 steins and was mine for the evening, and I got to take it home.   I will post a picture of me when I get it .. but rest assured we did not put any Germans to shame with our meagre consumption of beer !    The town of Leavenworth in Seattle hosts a three-weekend Oktoberfest as well.   Of course, the real Oktoberfest is in Munich this time of year – and is the largest folk festival in the world, drawing about 6 million visitors (granted, many of them from Bavaria itself).   2010 actually marks the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest, the original one held by Crown Prince Ludwig on Oct 12, 1810 to celebrate his marriage to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, five days earlier.

Friday/ John Lennon’s 70th birthday

Google honored John Lennon’s 70th birthday today with a ‘doodle’ video .. the picture is from the video.   I love the words from ‘Imagine’.








Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Thursday/ got my flu shot

I got my flu shot today.   The flu shots here in the USA this year protects against 3 strains of flu virus :

  • A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus (the same strain as was used for 2009 H1N1 monovalent vaccines);
  • A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus;
  • B/Brisbane 60/2008-like antigens.

I will also try to stay away from people that try to cough and sneeze on me! : )  – remember that the latest cough and sneeze ‘etiquette’ says to crook your arm and sneeze into your arm and shoulder, NOT into your hands !

Wednesday/ KLM to South Africa

I bought my ticket to go to South Africa in November today.   I will go from Seattle to Amsterdam and then to Cape Town.   The picture is of a KLM luggage label circa 1938.  There is a store in Hong Kong that sell these old labels from all over the world – for airlines, hotels, cruise lines.   I wanted to buy them all and ended up getting none! : (.

Tuesday/ melatonin

Here’s my current weapon to fight the jet lag : melatonin*.  On a previous trip I tried 3 mg which seemed to help very little, but the 5mg capsule seems to help a lot.  It’s a ‘natural’ drug – supposedly much the same as the hormone by the same name, secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, into the blood.   Some of my colleagues at work say the prescription drug Ambien is their knock-out drug of choice; it belongs to a class of medications called sedative-hypnotics and works by slowing activity in the brain to allow sleep.  Hmm.   Think I’ll stick to my melatonin for two more days and then I’ll be good to go.

*also known as N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine.  Got that? : )

Monday/ the big-screen TV has landed

I bought a new TV at Best Buy on Saturday and it was delivered at 7.30am.  Part of the deal was a free pick-up for recycling of the 36″ 185lb Sony monster circa 2002, replaced by the Samsung 55″ 1080p / 120Hz / LED-LCD HDTV that is 1″ thick and weighs 55lbs.  I love the Touch of Color glass bezel and it’s amazing, all the connections that have been built in.    What did it cost?  Do I have to tell?  OK – I thought it was a steal at $1,800 .. a price that would have been three times as much just 5 years ago, and down from $2,200 just a few months ago.   Best Buy’s geek squad will come by on Wednesday to connect the cable company’s HD TV box .. all part of my strategy to get myself to spend more time in front of the TV to relax.   I think I watch all of 5 hrs of TV a week right now.

P.S. I see the new TV needs to move slightly to the left so that it is lined up with the window above it.

Sunday/ finger-print check in at fitness club

My gym took a minute today to take three scans of each of my thumbs so that I can check in with a fingerprint instead of my gym card in future.  They store the print as some mathematical formula and not the print itself, they assured me.  (Hmm).   In the same vein in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal, there is an article about India launching a massive project to record fingerprints and retina scans of all its citizens.   The project aims to assign a unique 12-digit number to each of its 1.2 billion people and store them in a massive central database.   The identities will help the government to reduce corruption and waste in the distribution of food stamps and other payments.

The Indian government solicited help from Indian employees from Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Intel Corp. – either asking the companies to give the employees a sabbatical, or paid leave to contribute to the project.

Saturday/ raking leaves

It’s fall, and so they are falling – those leaves from the maple tree next door.  Rake them up!  I found the beautiful crimson rose* a few blocks from my house.    *Strange that the rose picture now makes me recall a phrase from some book (of a force or emotion so powerful that) ‘it makes horses rear, roses wilt, and the very stars cool in the dark’.  Whoah. : )

Friday/ National Day of the People’s Republic of China

The PRC’s National Day People’s Republic of China (simplified Chinese: 国庆节; traditional Chinese: 國慶節; pronounced guóqìng jié) was declared at three o’clock on October 1, 1949, in front of 300,000 people during a ceremony in Tian’anmen Square.  Chairman Mao declared the founding of the People’s Republic and waved the first five-star PRC flag.

In past times, the day was marked by large political gatherings and speeches, military parades, state banquets and the like.  But since 2000, as China’s economy developed, the national holiday lasts seven days and most workers are given time off to visit relatives and take time for traveling.    Indeed, all the China team members on our project have taken the 7 days off. And in the big cities there are 4th-of-July type fireworks displays as well !

Thursday/ in Seattle

I’m home!   The flights to San Francisco and to Seattle went fine.  It’s a perfect fall day with blue skies and golden sunlight in Seattle.  (72 °F is 22 °C; 52 °F is 11 °C).

The other picture is of Hong Kong International airport’s Terminal 1 entrance this morning.

Thursday/ at the Sky City

The driver arrived early yesterday, so I had to keep him waiting while I said good-bye to everyone.  ‘You cannot leave us now!’ said some, but I need the break from travel badly – as glamorous as the pictures make it look.    The first one is my traditional mainland China – Hong Kong border crossing picture.  The next one is a shopping mall close to the hotel.  I wanted some coffee after a scrumptious dinner of ginger carrot soup and eel with soy sauce on rice in the hotel restaurant.   The Find The Willem picture is from the same mall, below one of the escalators looking up.

My flight out to San Francisco is in a few hours.

Wednesday/ packing up

Today is my last day on site here in China for a while.   I’m taking a long-planned travel break from the project for two whole months.   So last night was spent packing up two big suitcases, and clearing out of the bedroom and bath room.  Someone else will stay in the place while I’m out.      I had to write up English instructions for him for using the washing machine, and I thought juxtaposing it with a future concept plane I found on the Airbus website would be fun.   The picture of the airplane shows what I feel like right now : take me home, big bird !