August 27, 2003
A ratiocinative mélange from Shanghai.

This is my home - this is my only home
This is the only sacred ground that I have ever known
And should I stray in the dark night alone
Rock me goddess in the gentle arms of eden
Dave Carter

Gentle Arms of Eden
words & music Dave Carter
http://www.daveandtracy.com
Dedicated to the memory of Dave Carter, 1952-2002.
The inspired musical legacy he and Tracy created,
will live on in the magic and mystery of his songs.

On a sleepy endless ocean when the world lay in a dream
There was rhythm in the splash and roll but not a voice to sing
So the moon fell on the breakers and the morning warmed the waves
Till a single cell did jump and hum for joy as though to say

Chorus
This is my home - this is my only home
This is the only sacred ground that I have ever known
And should I stray in the dark night alone
Rock me goddess in the gentle arms of eden

Then the day shown bright and rounder till the one turned into two
And the two into ten thousand things and the old things into new
And on some virgin beach head, one lonesome critter crawled
And he looked about and shouted out in his most astonished drawl

Chorus

Then all the sky was buzzing and the ground was carpet green
And the wary children of the wood went dancing in between
And the people sang rejoicing when the fields were glad with grain
This song of celebration from their cities on the plain

Chorus

Now there's smoke across the harbor and there's factories on the shore
And the world is ill with greed and will and enterprise of war
But I will lay my burdens in the cradle of your grace
And the shining beaches of your love and the sea of your embrace

Chorus

AT - rhythm guitar
AP - 2nd guitar & guitar solo
SP - upright bass & mandolin
AH - banjo & harmony vocal
BM - percussion

Posted by justin at 01:50 PM
August 25, 2003
Gluttony...


See photos here

It's considered polite to make sure all your guests have plenty to eat.

Even lonely planet understates the culture. They say "Chinese habittually over order" In Shanghai, I think people have taken that to an amazing extreme. Even our sales manager admitted, that people order too much and leave it, finding it quite wasteful himself.

However, gladly partaking in the culture of excess, he takes us out to eat and orders two to three times more than any of us can eat. I guess empty plates imply a stingy host. If people finish off all the food at the table, you're being a cheapskate. Ditto for ordering rice.

So everytime you go out, they have to order a variety and balance of flavors, textures, colors, smells, and even temperatures.

The brunch included in my hotel rate was a good example. If not a bit excessive. But I've found that hotel breakfasts can be that way, the sunday brunch at the Westin La Paloma - same... The breakfast at the Novatel in Seoul, same. Even the breakfast at the Rebar Crown Plaza in Taipei.

So here's the InterContinental - Pudong's take on it.

American Breakfast - Omlettes, eggs, two kinds of potatoes, bacon, two kinds of sausage, ham, pancakes, french toast, morning steaks, etc...
European Breakfast - A wide variety of breads, (baguettes, crossonts, donuts, danishes, toast, etc..) cheeses, smoked fish, preserved meats, quice, sauteed mushrooms, various cereals (muselli, cornflakes, and oats).
Chinese Breakfast - Dim sum, noodles, and various fried dishes, sweetened soy milkand of course a good bowl of rice porridge (plain or chicken flavored),
Japanese Breakfast - some sort of salad, miso soup, pickles, rice, seaweed, sushi.

And of course various juices, fruits, coffee, and tea.

See photos here

Sunday,

I got to the airport and realized that the flight to Shanghai was overbooked. I asked if I could go through Tokyo, the flight leaves 30 mins earlier, and gets to Shanghai 2 hours later. I would be compensated. I said I'd take it. I now have two business class upgrades, good system wide. Score! Plus I got to see part of "Shanghai Noon" on the ANA flight from Tokyo to Shanghai. ANA is so much better than United.

ANA shows a variety of movies including Jackie Chan, for a two hour flight.
United showed the same movie starring Jack Nicholson, for all my flights.

United has got to get those in-seat TV's. Plus the flight to Shanghai was about two thirds empty. Typical of other ANA flights I've been on. How are they still making money?

I sat next to the Southern Baptist Minister from Malaysia, and got a good idea about the status of the Church in Malaysia... It's mostly Chinese, the ethnic Malays face a lot of persecution. And apostasy is still a crime punishable by death. Although nobody has been killed for that (or so he said) at least not yet.

Monday.

Got to Shanghai about 9PM. Lucy was there holding a sign up for me. It's hot. We get in a cab. She's cute, her English is so-so, but seems to be getting better. She says that Wan is also staying at the hotel.

I get to the hotel. It's late. I check in, we're directed to the 24th floor, I'm on the executive level. The room is posh. There was a menu for pillows. I got the five foot long body hugging pillow. I was hungry, I should have eaten the fruit.

Tuesday.

I wake up go back up to the executive club, and eat breakfast. It's really posh looking out over the city. I move rooms to a cheaper room on the 14th floor. It's acceptable.

I'm told to meet our associates in the lobby at 10, Lee is late, it's 11. I call him, he says another 10 minutes. Our reps have been sitting in the hotel for the past hour waiting for him. Lee arrives. We go out to lunch. They talk about some of the issues which they are having with the system, and what they need to sell our other tool. I listen. The food is very Chinese, and quite good. I'm realizing how hot and humid it is. I need a handkerchief for my forehead.

We drive to the customer site. There are a lot of VW's and Buicks. It's hot, 34 C - 80% humidity. This is the wrong time of the year to be here, and I packed wrong.

We get to the customer site, we talk about the automation. There doesn't seem to be too many issues, we just need to make a set of meeting minutes and send them back to them. We have to go back tomorrow to give a presentation to the engineers on how to use our tool.

We go back to the hotel to debrief. I sit and have coffee, I'm a bit jet lagged but it seems like things are okay. I go up, change my shirt. I call Susan, to see if she can have dinner tomorrow, and if I can come by the residence. She says okay. I'll call her again tomorrow.

I go back downstairs and Lee, Harry and I go out to dinner. I go to XiaoNanGuo (A small southern kingdom) restaurant for the first time. I finish off a beer. Harry is single.

We walk around outside. I see a Starbucks. And the TV tower. The bund is kind of pretty. I get a vanilla frappuchino, we sit outside. It's still hot.

I go back to the hotel, Wan is supposed to call me to go out that night. I never hear the phone ring.

Wednesday.

I'm supposed to meet Wan and go over to ADE's office. Early in the morning I wake up go downstairs. I walk around a bit, and see some of the smaller back streets. On one they're selling live frogs, live fish and a lot of fresh looking vegetables.

I buy myself the following, Xiao Chi -little snacks.
Two bao zi (little bread buns, which I find out are filled with vegetables and a bit of meat)
a small bowl of guo tie (fried dumplings with vegetables, but no noticeable meat),
two siu mai (meatballs wrapped with wonton), except these are filled with yaofan (greasy sticky rice), instead of meat.

It's all quite tasty though, so I'm satisfied.

I meet Wan downstairs we go to the office. I can't get my computer connected, I would have thought that the office has ADSL. Since it's only Lee, maybe they don't need it. I make a few calls, we go over the reps office. We introduce ourselves, and go out to lunch again. This time it's not so good, I order KungPaoJi, or Kung Pao chicken. It's served as individual plates, and Lee orders an extra bowl of Wonton soup.

We go back to SMIC. We give our presentation. I can't tell how useful it is, because they don't have our tool yet. We end early and have to sit around for an hour or so before they can drop me off at the SMIC school.

I get dropped off at the SMIC school and get a tour around the facilities. School hasn't started, and there are a lot of American teachers there getting settled. It's hot, and the A/C is off in the building, because they're painting. I see the gymnasium and the pool.

I see the living quarters, it's really what I had expected. Not huge, but still quite nice. I see a washing machine, but no clothes dryer. They've got a maid who cleans, who shops for them and she cooks for them too. The cooking consists of preparing their evening meal, and packing them lunch for the next day. The teachers live too far from the company canteen, so need to bring their own lunches.

I meet Angelina, a new teacher there. Plus I seem to meet a lot of Americans just leaving the grounds. It doesn't feel too bad. We take a cab to the subway, and then take the subway to the center of town. Angelina and Susan order a lot of food. I see the first gyoza worth taking a picture of. Beverly walks in. She introduces herself, we're cordial, and then I realize that she's the CEO's secretary, and that my resume probably has gone across her desk a couple of months ago. She curls her eyebrows, I explain my resume, and how I've already met her. I laugh.

Again we order too much. We walk a bit around town, and then get on the subway back.

I get off at my stop, and realize it's the right stop, but have no idea where my hotel is. I wander around end up at the St Regis. It's late, it's hot, I'm sweaty. I catch a cab three blocks back to the InterContinental. The hotel is only 2 blocks from the subway station. I must have walked the wrong way. The cab ride costs me 10 kuai ($1.25).

Thursday.

Again, go downstairs and pick up a large guo tie (bowl of fried dumplings), and jian bing -Crepes with fried eggs, green onions, and chili, except that these also had some Yao Zhi (fried bread sticks) in them. The street vendors are friendly and getting the food is less of an exercise in pointing. I just give her three kuai this time and she give me the bowl, into which I pour a generous amount of chilies and vinegar into. She wraps it in a little bag for me.

Since we're pretty much done, Wan and I take our time going to the office. We get breakfast at 10AM and I realize that, the buffet downstairs is still included in the less expensive room (750 yuan as opposed to 980 yuan), which surprisingly is better than the buffet upstairs, because all the stuff is out on the counter for you to take, and I don't have to order things by the piece. Plus the downstairs buffet has everything I could ever imagine, wanting for breakfast, except for huevos con chorizo. But I manage.

We take a cab to the office, and arrive about noon. I didn't bring my computer this time. In fact I didn't even bring my camera, Wan has a 4 mega pixel one. I should be fine.

We take some pictures, then go out to lunch. I think this place is the best place yet. Even though I'm still full from breakfast. As always, Lee orders way too much. He orders some sort of pressed duck, it's amazingly tasty.

Lee gives Lucy the afternoon off to show us around town. I say I want to buy a watch, We end up taking a cab to Huanian market. I buy an Omega, they misspelled coaxial escapemnt. We continue to walk around. I buy some legos, and some puzzles. We take another cab to the Bund, and take a few photos. Then go back across through the pedestrian tunnel, which is pretty cheesy, and rather expensive for what it is. We go eat at XiaoNanGuo again. I taste the chilied tofu, with turnips and hundred year old eggs. I'm in heaven. We drink Tiger beer.

We go back to the hotel, and ask if we're going for drinks again. I want to go back to the room and take a shower. I fall asleep on the bed. I get a call about 11, we go down to the hotel bar, and pay 100 yuan for a pitcher of Tiger beer. Wan complains about the beer. The band is loud, from the Philippines and playing American cover tunes. I ask for Benny Goodman, they can't play it. Lucy asks for "With or Without You", the band plays it. I dance a bit with Lucy. I ask for Ricky Martin, they can play that. I dance some more.

Friday
Wan goes home. I wander around town, and take the subway by myself. I get to the Shanghai museum, and pay the 60 yuan for the admission, and the English Audio tour. I'm amazed by what I see at the museum. Maybe it's the audio tour, or maybe it's just presented better than the National museum in Taipei. Although the museum in Taipei probably has better stuff, this just seems to be better presented. There's jade and a whole section on royal seals, and the artistic, and cultural significance of the chop. The chop is a hand carved stamp which presents an official seal. Kind of like a signature. Except that there's artistry in both the seal itself, and the carving of the stamp. I have a new appreciation for Chinese calligraphy. I've got museum fatigue, and a bad case of it. So I go back to the hotel.

I get back and call a friend recommended by Chris. Two college students arrive, he seems to be impressed by the hotel. We go out to Little Sheep, a hou guo place which both reeks of mutton and lamb, and serves food which you cook in a pot of boiling broth, there's a spicy side and a not so spicy side to our pot. The food is spicy, the beer is warm. But I'm satisfied.

We again go out to another club. The beers aren't too expensive. I'm amazed at the band. Looking that the kind of Chinese dude, I'm stunned that he can sing "Loving you, is easy because you're beautiful" plus they've got a reasonable blues thang going too. Including a scat-bop, call and response thing from one of the vocalists. I ask them to play "My Funny Valentine" because it's most sensuous song I've heard sung as an offertory at my church. The same singer who sang "Loving You" sings it.

The club takes my credit card, I have no cash. Ken convinces the cab driver to take me to the hotel and wait till I can pay him. It's 39 yuan. I give him 40 ($4.00).

Saturday

I should have called the school teacher on Friday night. I call at 9AM and unfortunatley wake her up, and just say we're going to have lunch, she says okay. I figure I should be able to manage to get back to the SMIC living quarters. I've got the map, and ask the hotel if the location I'm saying makes sense. They sound vague, but look at the map and then direct me into a cab. The cab driver looks like he's going in the right direction. After passing the Carrefor, and then some strange hand gestures, I realize I have no idea where he's going, and the cab driver has no idea where he's supposed to be taking me. Oh no!!!

Amazingly after making one U-turn, he pulls right up to the school. I'm stunned. It's 45 kuai, I pay him an extra 5 kuai ($6.50). The security guard asks for my ID, I gesture that I'm going to such and such an apartment. I can't tell if she's waving me in or just flustered that I understand her. I go to the apartment.

We go out to lunch, and meet other teachers along the way. They're all very young adults. There's a guy from the marketing department, and another of the president's secretaries. We take the subway to LiuJiaZi, after saying I've been XiaoNanGuo twice already, we go there again. The food is just as amazingly good as before. This time we finally order the right amount of food. The waitress sneers at us for ordering rice. I want to pay for it, the guy from marketing says that vendors are not allowed to pay for meals for them. So we split it up, it's about $8 a person. Surprisingly un-Chinese.

We walk around outside take the ferry across the river. We walk down the road back to the temple. I purchase a tablecloth, and some placemats. I overpay, it's $9. I buy some more stuff, my friend bargains with them, it's $9. There's an obvious foreigner trying to buy stuff, we tell her that the embroidered painting is machine made, and isn't very nice. She asks for our advice on some rugs, my friend says to go to Ikea. I laugh, he's completely serious.

We stop and have some tea, We walk some more, he goes back to Hualian market, and buys a North Face ski jacket for $15. We eat at Yoshinoya, a fast food restaurant which is not unusual in the states. I comment that the chicken, and the salad, the serve remind me of airplane food. He and his girlfriend laugh.

I go back to my hotel, it's been a good week.

Sunday.

I go to the airport. The hotel has a shuttle bus. I almost miss the bus, but the staff holds it for me. The departures lobby of the airport is amazingly crowded, and very rushed. It's a 90 kuai departure tax. They x-ray my luggage for customs, and for screening. It's almost as bad as leaving Boston.

I pick up two cartons of cigarettes and a bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin, from duty free. I go to the lounge, and find a displaced New Yorker. I talk to her a bit, grab a beer, and then we head to the plane. I'm in coach sitting between a student going to UMass Amherst, and has never been on a plane before, and a cowboy from Okalahoma. I congratulate the student and tell him that his English is very good. He shrugs, of course, he's going to be a History major. I talk about bear hunting with the cowboy. I get drunk, and pull out a smoked salmon sandwich I've smuggled from the hotel. I put the headphones on and start singing. I'm being obnoxious. The flight becomes a blur.

I see the New Yorker again in San Francisco getting her connecting flight to Kennedy. The student is on the same flight with me to SF. I try and help him out a bit. He's doing quite well on his own. I'm in business class because United had problems with the original plane, and has delivered a 3 class wide body 767. The meal was a cheeseburger, spinach and cheese ravioli, or seafood paella. I get the pasta, and ask for a glass of chocolate milk. They don't have any chocolate. I should have gotten the seafood paella, as the pasta was kind of hard and had a strange flavor to it.

I land in Boston. Meet the student again, talk to him a bit and then after the people picking him up meet him, I catch a cab ride home. I'm not sure if the driver understands me. I can't tell if he's speaking English or Creole. It's $25.00 (225.00 kuai).

I get home, and go over to Clara's place. She gives me a glass of chocolate milk. It's good to be home.

Ratiocination
1 : the process of exact thinking : REASONING
2 : a reasoned train of thought
ra·ti·o·ci·na·tive - adj

mélange
: a mixture often of incongruous elements

Posted by justin at 03:00 PM
August 23, 2003
Save Money I Can

I was wandering around Shanghai, looking at all the tourist curios. After my guide had convinced a woman that she was getting ripped off with a embroidered painting, she went and asked him where was the best place to get oriental rugs, and stuff to furnish her house. He answered...
IKEA of course... In Shanghai too... http://www.ikea.com.cn/english/index.html

According to Lonely Planet, Shanghai was the whore of China.
"Shanghai is emerging as the most spiritually polluted city in China. All the old evils (and a few new ones) are creeping back, with a vengence. Everything is here, from the incredibly sleazy to the marginally chic. Shanghai revels in a headonism that most people never dreamed existed in communist China."

Posted by justin at 05:53 PM
Shanghai...

I was wandering around Shanghai, looking at all the tourist curios. After my guide had convinced a woman that she was getting ripped off with a embroidered painting, she went and asked him where was the best place to get oriental rugs, and stuff to furnish her house. He answered...
href="http://www.ikea.com.cn/english/index.html">IKEA of course... In Shanghai too... http://www.ikea.com.cn/english/index.html

According to Lonely Planet, Shanghai was the whore of China.
"Shanghai is emerging as the most spiritually polluted city in China. All the old evils (and a few new ones) are creeping back, with a vengence. Everything is here, from the incredibly sleazy to the marginally chic. Shanghai reveas a headonism that most people never dreamed existed in communist China."

Posted by justin at 05:53 PM
August 20, 2003
"Audible.com, an online purveyor of downloadable audiobooks, is redefining book burning"

What does it mean to burn a book on the Internet? Couldn't help but post what should be a headline to Business 2.0.

The other day, I was asking my friend what he was doing. He replied "Oh nothing, I'm just burning some books"

He had downloaded some books on tape, and was burning them onto CD's so he could listen to them in his car.

Unfortunatley when I first heard it, book burning still carries with it other associations. Censorship, Fahrenheit 451. I guess it's kind of fitting that I got the NY times delivered to my hotel room in China. Things really are opening up here. Maybe a little too much EM-Forrester "The Machine Stops"

Surprisingly despite the heat, and everything else, Shanghai is not all that Blade Runnerish...

Amazon.com

In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury's classic, frightening vision of the future, firemen don't put out fires--they start them in order to burn books. Bradbury's vividly painted society holds up the appearance of happiness as the highest goal--a place where trivial information is good, and knowledge and ideas are bad. Fire Captain Beatty explains it this way, "Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs.... Don't give them slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy."

Guy Montag is a book-burning fireman undergoing a crisis of faith. His wife spends all day with her television "family," imploring Montag to work harder so that they can afford a fourth TV wall. Their dull, empty life sharply contrasts with that of his next-door neighbor Clarisse, a young girl thrilled by the ideas in books, and more interested in what she can see in the world around her than in the mindless chatter of the tube. When Clarisse disappears mysteriously, Montag is moved to make some changes, and starts hiding books in his home. Eventually, his wife turns him in, and he must answer the call to burn his secret cache of books. After fleeing to avoid arrest, Montag winds up joining an outlaw band of scholars who keep the contents of books in their heads, waiting for the time society will once again need the wisdom of literature.

Reviewer: A reader from Napoleon, MI
The novel Fahrenheit 451 tells us about a time in the future in which books are illegal to read or posses, and firemen aren't employed to save houses (because they are virtually fire resistant), but to burn books. Guy Montag, a fireman, and the story's main character, enjoys the destruction and burning of the books and he is constantly soaked in the smell of kerosene. Montag had a weird feeling about things, but wasn't quite sure what it was. He was like all the other people, in that he would just keep going ahead to where he was going, not looking at what he was walking past or paying much attention to things. Except one night he stopped and met a girl who told him of the past where people were allowed to think, to read, and to have original ideas for themselves, and the ability to write them down and share them with others.

As the story goes on, it deals with his drug-abusing wife and her weird friends. Also there are crews of people that are out to save people that try to committee suicide due to the high suicide rate. The reader discovers the ways that the society works, about how people are not unique, not knowing their own neighbors, and how the television thinks for everyone so that they don't have to.

This book shows a future where it is nearly impossible to be a freethinking individual. Ray Bradbury's descriptive writing makes the story easy to read and hard to put down. The story thickens, twists, and curves with every page as Montag is forced to go on the run from a mechanical hound whose only mission is to destroy Montag. It is a book that everyone should try to read. It really makes the reader think about how our future may turn out like this someday.

Posted by justin at 03:34 PM
August 15, 2003
It all comes together

I'm going to Shanghai this week. Pray for me.

I got told on Sunday, that I have to go to a meeting in Shanghai next Tuesday. So I've been scrambling all week to figure out the visa status and arrange flights. I get on a plane on Saturday.

If you're wondering about the short notice, it's typical, especially for sales calls in the semiconductor industry, which I work in. It's a fast moving industry, characterized by competitiveness, technology, customer service, and personal/business relationships. But the stakes are high, and sometimes the cost of doing business humbling. I no longer flinch at spending $3000 for a week's trip, what would support a missionary in a third world country for a year.

In any case it's a mixed trip because the customer is actually one of the companies which I had shown some interest in spending a long time working for in the future.

In fact my initial contact with them was through Clara, a post Gloria Steinem beauty with flowing red hair and a theatrical temperment to match. Initially when I knew her she was corporate, but now deeply involved with justice and the plight of the poor, she shades her own struggles against pernury, to illuminate hope to the reality of the oppressed.

Indeed I had thought about moving to China , but I struggle with the feeling leaving CCFC is disloyal to everything I hold dear. I seem to struggle and fail tomaintain a lifestyle in both Asia, and in Boston. I suppose it's somthing we all have to decide. I can clearly see that my whole industry is going to be moving into Asia, and China is going to be lead player in this market.

While we continue to lay off people here in Boston, we still have open reqs to hire engineers in China. I have to consider moving to China if asked, or called by God. So that's the real purpose of this trip.

Posted by justin at 12:50 PM