Tuesday/ my country’s massacre du jour

I told my friends last week that I think that the blackest mark against America, is that most of its citizens cannot get affordable healthcare.

I would like to take that back.
In America, mass murderers buy assault rifles legally and cheaply, and riddle you with bullets: inside the church, the grocery store, the movie theater, the bar— and the elementary school.

And our government (Republicans, to be fair) is OK with that. 😡 😡 😡


Friday/ another week

Well, it’s August. The warmest part of summer is probably behind us here in Seattle. It’s been a bad week for Paul Manafort, ex-Trump campaign manager. His trial started and the prosecutor showed his lavish taste in clothing and decorating, and today, that he cheated with his tax returns to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Trump defended Manafort in tweets, and still tries to rally his base supporters with claims of the ‘Russian Hoax’. This week, the press was called ‘the enemy of the people’ by the President of the United States. Jim Acosta from CNN engaged White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders about it, wanting her to disavow what Trump said; gave her a second chance. Nope. She could not do it.

Someone noted that the media should simply stop covering Trump’s rallies, and not even show clips on television. Send a pool reporter and report the idiotic things and lies spouted by Trump in print. Done.

Saturday/ pretty poison

Foxglove (genus: Digitalis) is toxic down to its roots. It has compounds that causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and even death.

Here’s a foxglove (digitalis), growing right here in the back alley by my house.

There are plenty of these with their pretty finger-like flowers to be seen around in city gardens, but the whole plant is poisonous down to its roots. People have confused digitalis with the relatively harmless comfrey (Symphytum) plant, which is often brewed into a tea, with fatal consequences. [Source: Wikipedia].




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


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.