Saturday, November 29, 2008
So, for me, work-life balance means balancing all three of my commitments: to my husband, kids, and extended family; to my work; and to me. Surprisingly, blogging is a lot about that last one. By getting some of my thoughts into writing, I am exploring that last most important relationship.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
As you read the following (copied from an email from the Herman Trend email on November 26), realize that innovation comes from collaborative endeavors. By voting, you too can contribute. Visit Project 10 to the 100th to sign up to vote.
Herman Trend says: "Some months ago now, the leading searching engine Google launched a competition calling for ideas to change the world by helping as many people as possible.
Herman Trend says: "Some months ago now, the leading search engine Google launched a competition calling for ideas "to change the world by helping as many people as possible". It was open to anyone anywhere in the world.
They call the contest "Project 10 to the 100th"; 10 to the 100 is another way of expressing the number "googol", a one followed by one hundred zeroes. The goal of the challenge reflects the company's goal---"to achieve great results through smart technology that starts small and scales dramatically over time to have a tremendous long-term impact". The Project is a similar attempt to produce those kinds of scalable results by harnessing [their] users' insights and creativity. Yes, Google wants to help change the world for the better. Unfortunately, the deadline for submission of ideas was October 20, 2008.
However, you can still vote on the idea you believe is best. The voting on ideas will begin on January 27, 2009. (They will send you a reminder to vote, if you wish?) At that time Google will post a selection of one hundred ideas and ask you, the public, to choose twenty semi-finalists. Then an advisory board will select up to five final ideas. To implement these projects, Google has committed $10 million, and their goal is to help as many people as possible.
This Project reminds us of others. Many of us have heard about the X Prize given for Space Flight. Yet, the X Prize Foundation is planning other prizes in diverse fields, including Health Care, Education Energy and Environment, Exploration, Global Entrepreneurship, and Life Sciences.
The other well-publicized competition to encourage innovation is the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Challenge. For years, the United States Department of Defense has had an interest in developing a driverless vehicle that would navigate long distances. Remarkable technological advancements have emerged from this annual contest.
Expect more entrepreneurs, private enterprise and government entities to offer incentives to encourage and reward innovation. For the entrepreneurs, the pay-off is leaving the legacy of a better world; for private enterprise, it is about demonstrating corporate social responsibility; for government, it is about advancing defense technologies at a relatively reasonable cost."
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The picture above is how they finally dry the dyed fabric and it's lovely to see these long swaths of cloth blowing in the breeze (about 40 degree breeze the day we were there). The process goes like this:
1. Prepare a pattern. These used to be done by hand, but are now done by machine. They look like this. The crafts person puts a paste on the design.
The crafts person puts a paste on the design and when they lift the pattern off, it looks like this:
Then the pattern is pressed against the fabric and dyed in vats like these:
And, finally, the fabric is dried in the wind as in the picture at the beginning. Unfortunately, the "old" process has been replaced by machines, but it was good to see the old way. Modern quilters are still using the old way too. Here's a blog all about fabric dyeing: http://wordpress.com/tag/fabric-dyeing/
Monday, November 24, 2008
We were often told that the Chinese eat everything! The adage goes something like this:
"The Chinese will eat everything. Everything from the sky except the plane; everything from the sea except the submarine; and everything from the lad except the stone.
This may likely be more poetic in Chinese.
We also heard of the regional differences:
North: in this region, the people need fat to keep them warm like the polar bear or Eskimo needs fat, so the food is often more substantive and oily.
West: this region is more known for its spicy food because spice preserves moisture/humidity in the body and these are the dry arid areas.
South: these people eat wild food like wild birds and snakes. Believe it or not, in Guilin, our furthest south site on our visit had snake on the menu. Of course, they also said that it would take a while to go get a snake.
East on the sea coast: eat fresh and finer foods and sure enough Hangzhou’s food was the best of our visit.
And here are a few of the challenging, fun foods and signs. First, dried duck:
Then: eel, frog and dog :(
Our favorite salad -- "The Dancing Salad" made of lettuce greens, other veggies, some dressing, and dancing to mix it all up.
The most popular American food in China. You might think it is McDonald's, but no, it is KFC. They are everywhere...kind of like Starbucks with multiple KFCs in the same block!
Finally, our favorite food -- the crispy fish. Yum.
And, now I'll go make a mundane dinner of broiled fish and salad.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Old men pee in public. You'll be driving down the highway and see a guy with his back to the road. And little boys with their fathers will pee on statues. Ick.
Spitting....yuck, ick. Everywhere.
Slurping and smacking while eating. Yes...the food is really good and worth smacking your lips over, but it is somewhat overwhelming. However, understandable. The food is sticky. Think about sweet and sour pork.
Pushing. Wow...the train station door opens and all 900 people who will take the bullet train smush toward the door at once. You have to push too to get on or be lost in the trample.
Pushy street vendors. Major and I have often been the only non-Chinese on shopping streets and EVERYONE wants to sell us something. While bargaining is sometimes fun, you have to constantly be telling people No. Actually, the term is something like BuYa. (Our guide told us to remember the first two letters of Bush and Yao Men. I say BuYa a lot, but I really mean "bug off."
Hard beds. Even fine hotels have hard beds. Literally just a thin pad on boards. I love hard beds normally, but this is ridiculous!
But there's so much more to love!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
By the way, a medium-sized city has just 6 million people, while the large cities (Shanghai and Beijing) have over 15 million!
My head is swimming with thoughts about China. For example, prior to Mao, China had just 400 million people. Under Chairman Mao, who believed that the country could dominate with more people, the country quickly doubled to 800 million. But then, with the cultural revolution a "one family/one child" policy was initiated. If the first child is a girl, then 4-5 years later, the family can try again. If the child is a boy, that's all the family can have.
The implications of this population growth: 1) all children are tremendously spoiled. One of our guides told us that children are both spoiled and unprepared to share or collaborate unless taught this in university; 2) girls are spoiled too, but they are somewhat "2nd class," 3) there will not be enough children to earn/pay for the larger population that preceded them. Systems thinking would have helped in this case, eh?
But what a wonderfully dynamic, while steeped in history, place China is. Stay tuned for blogs on construction, food, and culture.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Cormorant fishing is a way the fisherman is able to catch lots of fish, in rivers and lakes, where apparently the fish are too smart to take bait on a line and a net won't work because of the rocks. The You Tube link shows this being done graphically. I'll explain what we were told.
The fisherman raises the cormorants from being hatched from the egg. They become a part of the family and they are loved and cared for. They don't run away. Here's a picture of a fisherman's cormorant crew.
At night, the fisherman goes out with his crew and the cormorants skim the water and catch fish in their beaks and then bring the fish back to the fisherman. Now, here's the non-SPCA component: the fisherman ties a rope around the bird's neck so that it can only swallow little fish but not the big fish. This way, everyone gets fed!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Anyway, millions of people built the wall. And millions died there and are buried beneath the wall. A truly stupendous undertaking.
The coordination of enabling 100,000 people to visit the wall every day is also stupendous. And, it all works. We saw thousands of buses. We've felt so spoiled as we've had local guides for our tour. And they are the nicest, well spoken people...excited to have jobs and to practice their English. Here's Nancy. (They always take English names, although frankly, I enjoyed her Chinese name better: Luodan. I've encouraged all the guides we've had so far, to use their Chinese names instead of using English names like Susan, Helen, or Nancy. If they are going to use English names, at least they should be using contemporary names like Camilla or Arden!)
Lo and behold, even in Badaling, there is American comfort. Starbucks are EVERYWHERE! And, they too are packed. The Chinese now love coffee. We, on the other hand have been tea snobs for years, drinking green tea. But today, with 35 degree weather, we succumbed to the familiar....Major's favorite Coffee Mocha.
Tomorrow....Guilin at 7 in the morning. Must get some sleep.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Here's a few pictures:
1. Major and Lexy at the famous tea house in Shanghai
2. The Venice of China: Zhouzhuang
3. Papa and Nonny at Jinmao Tower
4. Missing RC....so found my first white kitty
Friday, November 7, 2008
If you come to India, at least once, you will go shopping. The way you do this is to arrange to have a driver who will take you to special places (identified by friends or the hotel) where the crafts are authentic and perhaps even the prices are set. Of course, haggling for an item is fun too. So last night a colleague and I set out to visit several shopping areas. I was looking for puppets for my grandchildren. Kirsten, who had had a bout of Delhi Belly all day was along for the ride. Kirsten is delightful....everyone loves her immediately. Without too much detail, I successfully haggled for some items as gifts, and then we arrived at the Cottage Industries Emporium
This is a special place that brings in handcrafts from all over India. And, as my eye was drawn first to a small Buddha head, I began to make a connection with the man helping me and he with me. I also found a Buddha head for Major. Then, I asked if they had thangkas. I spent the next minutes looking at over 50 and finally settled on an exquisite mandala type. (By the way, I am a practicing Buddhist meditator and a member of the Auburn Sanga and this gentleman too, a Buddhist). As we started to leave, he suggested that we go downstairs to their "special items". Our bodies tired, but our eyes began to sparkle as we traipsed downstairs to be met by a room full of handmade rugs, pashminas, and anything made from fabric. Oh dear....me a quilter in a room of fabric.
The frenzy begins. The first item they showed me was an embroidered coat. Unfortunately it was not in my colors but it was Kirsten's so she tried it on. It was gorgeous. The picture does not do justice to the embroidery and the feel of this silk coat. It was "only $350."
She loved it and we all encouraged her to buy it. She, however, is a single mother, living in Singapore, and had not budgeted for something like this. But, it was truly a buy of a life time but even with much encouragement, Kirsten said she could not afford it .... until next year. Here's where just one example of generosity comes in. The owner of the Emporium told her to take the coat and pay him next year! Tired sick lady she was, started to cry. He gave her the coat and trusts her to pay him. Of course she will. I cried too.
We happily left...me with my purchases (two Buddha heads, the thangka, a patchwork runner, a little Ganesh elephant for my grandson and miscellaneous small items needing a big bag....they gave me a duffle). We tiredly returned to the hotel to go to bed.
I had started to pack when Kirsten called, saying that the store had called apologizing that they had neglected to pack the heads and the thangka. I really was tired to have not overseen the duffle packing plus all of the store people and Kirsten and I were so excited by the trust of the store owner in giving the coat to her for her to pay for later. So, then the owner comes to our hotel and delivers the gift items.
I confess that sometimes in NY and other cities with an abundance of foreign speaking taxi drivers....perhaps from Pakistan or perhaps from India...that I've not had the greatest trust. I will NEVER NEVER not trust these generous people again.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
So one question was: could an organization have been able to predict the likelihoood of the demise of Lehman? A provacative question that eventually had us all deciding emphatically that technology can not counter individual foibles such as greed.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Anyway, one of our conversations was about her belief, from speaking with her father, an aeronautical engineer, that Indian schools are much harder than ours. During the 7th grade, she said she will have 74 different courses from math and science to Hindu and English literature and everything in between. She believes that our kids can sue the school if they are given homework that takes more than 30 minutes to complete.
What an image she has of us. Let's pray for an end to the last 8 years of dumbing down.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Also on the front page is, of course, our election along with the perceived stance by Obama and McCain on Outsourcing, India, Pakistan, and Nuclear Policy. The summary statement on outsourcing: "Rough times ahead for India's $40 billion outsourcing industry, still growing at a 25% annual clip. Obama will try retaining tech jobs in the US. McCain says all the right things from India's point of view, but if he wins at a time when job losses are accelerating, he may be hard pressed to walk the talk." Obama is more protective. It is, of course, a tough line to walk.... take advantage of what the world has to offer and have access to the world's customers .... essentially putting up no walls around our economy vs. keep jobs at home.
Now...off to some meetings in Delhi.
The drive to the Taj Mahal pounds home the breadth of life in India, from
The one thing that really captivated me today though is that there are so many institutes. On the 220 km road from Delhi to Agra, we would pass a technical institute or a hotel management school or some medical school or even little kid schools and private schools. This country is definitely into educating its people. And everyone is an entrepreneur, whether it is a child dancing for rupees, a man with bulls that demands payment to have your picture taken with them, to your guide, to..... This is a very vital, growing country.