Sunday, January 22, 2012

Big Sky, Montana

You know those days when everything comes together in miraculous fashion? This was day 2 of miraculous skiing days.  The weather was perfect, super cold. We had a foot of fresh powder over the previous two days. I'm heading up the lift with an old high school buddy and his son I hadn't seen in decades and we are looking up at a beautiful bowl of untracked fresh powder. Just then, we see a couple skiers head over to it, and realized it was just being opened. What pure bliss to ski in three dimension, floating through luscious powder. There were so few skiers, we had four runs before we resorted to crossing existing tracks. A ski day I will remember for a long long time. Big Sky Montana has a special place in my heart.
This is a test photo.  I've just learned I am nearing my 1 GB storage limit for Jib Jab with Tim...  What am I going to have to do?  I'm sure there are pay options.  I have been putting off moving to WordPress, although I do want to do that.  But, I fear you are all used to this address.  I would hate to lose you.  In doing my research, I learned a couple things.
  1. There is a pay option.  It's not $20/GB/year as someone posted.  It's $5.00/year for 20 GB.  That would solve my problem for a mere 5 bucks.  Seems reasonable.  
  2.  Secondly, there is also a an accounting detail I wasn't familiar with.  If I reduce my image size to 2048x2048 pixels max, they do not count to my 1GB total.  That, my friends, is the reason for the second photo above.  It's well below the 2048 x 2048.  Take a look.  Let me know.  I think you'll like 3 things about it.  
    1. It loads faster
    2. You can see the whole image on screen
    3. The reduced resolution is hardly noticeable and isn't a drawback.
This is a view back up the mountain, which is hard to see perspective.  On the far right, you can see the chairlift going up to the first saddle.  The peak to center left is accessed by tram, you can see the terminal at the peak.  The bowl in lower left is now skied, because of course we've been skiing it, and I couldn't stop to take photos.  :-)

Here's a better view of the top.  See the tram?  It's a black dot, about 3/4 to the top.  We didn't ski the top on Sunday, but got one run up there Saturday, when the weather was far more dramatic.

Tim, John, and his son Ross.  We had a great day.
 Mike and I heading up the lift, after about 8 inches new.  Yes, that's us trying to smile through our frozen faces.  It was chilly, but great snow.  This is Saturday, whereas above is Sunday.  What a difference a day or two makes! 

I wasn't big on photos on Saturday, as you can see, the weather was a little hectic.  Here's the tram going into oblivion.  The whole top of the mountain was invisible from here.  And once we got to the top, it was a white-out.  Imagine 100% dark/black.  No depth of field.  No nothing.  Except it was white.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nanjing to Shanghai on High Speed Rail

These trains are beautiful and plentiful.  Here in the station you see three ready to go.  Compared to the traditional train, this takes about 90 minutes from Nanjing to Shanghai.  The traditional train can take around 4 hours.  It's quite heavily used.  That said, the passenger levels are climbing as we get closer to Chinese New Year.  I've heard it's the largest migration of people on the planet as Chinese head home to be with family.  It's been described as like our Thanksgiving or maybe Christmas.

We are on the causeway headed to our train on the far left.  This is over the standard train.  Tickets are less expensive for this, although the fast train is not that expensive.  In the $30-40.00 range I think.  Even first class was only an additional $15.00, or 100 RMB.

One more of the train station.  In the foreground is the typical train, and the white trains in the back are the high speed, running at 300 km/hr.

The blurry picture is because I am carrying my overweight briefcase, coat, ticket, passport in hand, and rushing to catch my colleagues.  In a way, the blurry captures the essence of the minute.

This is the typical lunch for us.  So much food, so many different flavors, I don't know where to begin.  First, the Chinese aren't afraid to dive in.  In just about everything.  Yes, in the middle are the green beans, a favorite of mine, ordered for me.  The lazy susan center table is on every table.  Also typical is a huge number of private rooms where we sat here.  The common area is small, relative to the number of these private rooms.  It's helpful to tune out the sound of the restaurant, although I have to say, it's a little closed in for me.  That said, I ate well.  So well.  Way way well.  :-)

Another huge skyline, here in Nanjing.  We didn't have much time in town here, but saw many common themes here.  That huge building is the Intercontinental hotel where Tony stayed, viewed from my hotel, the Sofitel.  It was said the Intercontinental is the tallest building in Nanjing.  Tony said he had breakfast on floor 75.  I think the Intercon as they call it, was nicer.  That said, Sofitel was nice!

 This is the Sofitel pool in Nanjing on the 9th floor I think.  Pretty pool.  I would guess it's 25 meters.  One strange and unique thing about it was the tempurature, at 30 deg C, which I'm not doing the math, but I would guess it's in the 90's Fahrenheit.  So warm, darn near hot tub.  There was a sign stating the room temp and the pool temp, and next to it, compared to China pool averages, and then compared to international pools.  I thought this sign was a little strange,

1)  strange to have a flyer stating the pool room air temp and the pool water temp
2)  turn pool and room temp into a competition in the country
3)  turn the temperature competition into an international race

But that's what I saw.  The Chinese are going places.

He's riding an electric enhanced bike.  I think they get up to about 20 mph.  The mittens are built onto the handle bars.  In this part of town, the high tech area, you can not use gas powered.  It's a glimmer of including mother nature in decisions.  Not a moment too soon!

Jib Jab
This is a good point to mention a couple of thoughts from the trip.  The first is, WOW.  China is stunning, if not shocking in their acceleration to modernization.  In many respects, it's a government working for the people, and getting so much done.  Entire 20 million people high tech, pristine modern cities created in 20 years, if not 10.  Can you imagine the USA moving that fast?  We have a couple cities of that size that have grown over 100's of years.  It's just stunning.  The pace of economic growth is also absolutely jaw dropping, at about 10% per year growth every year over the last decade or more.  Rather than cities providing utility services, and business building, here, the government builds the roads, utilities, transportation and even huge beautiful office and manufacturing buildings, and leases or then sells to business.  It's so efficient and fast!

As good as this all sounds, there are challenges.  Pollution.  The massive growth does cost, and what I've seen, it has been charged to Mother Nature.  The smog wasn't as visible in Shanghai, thankfully, but I think everywhere else.  It's oppressive.  I constantly felt a burning in my lungs.  It's like a scary movie, surreal.  The model also lends itself to corruption, which apparently is typical here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Nanjing, China

Dinner in Nanjing was incredible.  It's apparently a famous old restaurant from maybe 100 years ago.  I wish I got better pictures of the food.  I think my focus was off because of the steam getting to my camera.  Top left is the stinky tofu.  Yes.  Stinky tofu is what it's called, and yes, it's stinky.  Think stinky cheese and you have it.  Top right is in dark, I forget how it's prepared, fish.  Really tasty.  On the same plate is exceptional duck.  In front is arguably the best chicken I've ever had.  The broth is so rich and delicious.  It's spicy hot, but not too hot.  The chicken falls off the bone.  It has an interesting effect on your tongue I asked my local guides.  It makes your tongue tingle, like numb feeling.  Very interesting.

Nanjing stinky tofu.  Think stinky cheese.  Stong flavor, strong garlic-like feeling in your mouth.  Delicious.  Enough said.
This is where we walked to from the hotel for dinner.  Really bustling happening town altogether.  The yellow and red vertical sign is where we ate.

I've seen so much, and still, so little here.  Unfortunately, my battery died just as we were getting in the beautiful bullet train from Shanghai to Nanjing.  State of the art, modern facilities here, for sure.  Not the China we remember from 20 or even 10 years ago.

On the bullet train.  The pinnacle of traveling.

Some fashionable kids walking around in Shanghai.  Made me think of my girls.  Today is Moira's birthday.  Happy 19th Moira!  I love you!

Shanghai, China

This is the chandelier in the lobby of the Intercontinental in Shanghai.  It's a beautiful extravagant modern hotel.  I was admiring this from a distance, and decided to get right under it to take the photo.  it's mounted in a recessed backlit circle which makes the dramatic orange tone ring.

This is a glance at the lobby.  You can see the chandelier in the background.  The flowing lights reminded me of silk.  I wonder if that was the intention.  It's a huge sculpture that flows from the lobby to the bar.  Quite dramatic, as is the rest of Shanghai.  Definitely a world-class city of 20 million people and climbing.

I loved the room and view.  A modern style, yet some finishes adding soft and textures making it contemporary and comfortable.  See the tiles behind the bed?  Really nice couch in front of the window, and of course the huge window facing the train station.

This is looking out the front door of the lobby.  Very difficult to capture the beatiful lighting.  I'm sure it's extra done-up for Chinese New Year.  The energy of the country is picking up as the New Year gets closer.
Ahhhhhhh..... This is one of the most beautiful indoor pools I have ever seen.  It's a full 25 meters, infinity edges, deep and well, perfect.  I so needed that.  I'm looking forward to one more night there, before I leave.  We're very busy, arriving at night to the hotel.  Pre-meeting at night.  Depart at 8am for our meeting in the High Tech Park, then lunch meeting, then 2 hour high speed train to Nanjing.  This is high tech with passion! 

I hope I can get more pictures later, of Shanghai and Nanjing, and maybe more on our return to Shanghai.  Actually, more of Xi'an too...  Lots to talk about!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Xi'an China

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The Terra Cotta Warriors are a fantastic archeological find, from about 6,000 years ago during the something rather dynasty.  I need to look up more on it.  Actually quite recently, in 1974 was it's discovery.  Buried in a farmer's field, he was digging a well and found one of the soldiers.  Long story short, 8,000 life size warriors have been found buried about 20 feet under ground.  Along with the soldiers, are horses and carriages and other military items including cross bows.  The technology was advanced, using bronze, chrome for swords, and sophisticated casting methods to make large light shields.  Western civilization caught up about 5,500 years later...

Each face on every warrior is unique, with different features and expressions. There is speculation, but possibly there were models for each one.

There are three pits or areas where the soldiers are found.  This is the largest of the three.  The vast building is around 250 M long.  This army was created to protect the emporer in his afterlife.  As it turns out he was about 13 when he had this army commissioned.
Tony and I surveying our troops.
This is a general.  You can tell by his hair and hat, as well as all the ribbons on his uniform.  Having things turned up was a sign of leadership, for example his mustache, his fingers, and his shoes, which you can't see here.  Also, his uniform is 2 layers, unlike the rank and file, with one.

This woman is carving English and Chinese characters into a stamp.  Rather than a signature, a stamp is used to sign documents.

This is the contradiction in China.  The smoke from the factory billows uninhibited.  At the same time, you can see the new cars providing a 'higher' standard of living.

I like the sepia effect here.  It looks like something from generations ago.  A farmer transporting his pigs on a scooter truck.  He's on the main freeway, next to the many new and old vehicles of every kind.  It's quite a mix on the road.
Here's more of a present day composition of my pig farmer.  His scooter truck may not have much life left in it, if the billowing smoke is any indication.
This is a proud and strong warrior looking out, while Tony and Magic inspect.  Magic was our guide, and an awesome guy.  Really enjoyed him.
Me not quite pulling off the serious general warrior.  You can tell the others are a lower rank, as they have fewer ribbons.
Looking out my hotel window.  It's almost unbelievable the level of smog.  Next door is an older crumbling building.  If you can see, there are many new high-rises on the horizon.  China is racing to become a 'leading' country with all the privileges you get from things.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chengdu, China

Chairman Mao was the first chairman of communist China in 1949 through WWII and beyond.  Here he is in front of the Science and Technology Museum.  As it turns out, he was also a very good swimmer.

There is a huge amount of investment going on in Chengdu, into high technology.  Although we saw some historic sites, the pace of construction and magnitude of new buildings is mind-boggling. 

A building of this size in the United States would likely be the talk of the country.  They thought it was being built for high technology in Chengdu.  The government builds the facilities and brings in high technology companies to occupy the building.

Another high rise condominium building.  It's beautiful, and this photo highlights the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about.  The smog is dense everywhere.  I can see it getting thicker as the day wears on, although this was first thing in the morning.  Scary.

This is a teahouse we ate lunch at.  Chilly, but really pleasant.  It's not far from the center of town, and walking distance from our hotel.  This area is known for its spicy food, which we tried and really enjoyed.  Kung Pau chicken done like I'll never forget.  So full of flavor.  Eating here is an experience.  There is no hesitation to get fully immersed, including skin, bones, ligaments, organs, fat and meat.  Not for the dainty.

From left to right, Michael, Victor, and Tony, my travel partners.  Michael is on the sales team.  Victor is our interpreter.  Tony works with me, and lives in Boulder.  All three great people and a pleasure to travel with.

Temple in old part of city.  It's famous, I forget the details, but suffice it to say, a great place to get centered.  Buddhism has something going on.

Updating the Temple lanterns to compact fluorescent for the next 1,500 years.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Shenzhen, China

This is a very small sample of the many many highrises in Shenzhen.  The growth is phenomenal.  Nearby are Huawei and Foxconn (Apple factory) for example.  The city popped up from a farming town less than 30 years ago.

Smart and Trendy here.  Getting ready for Chinese New Year, the biggest celebration of the year.

I would be remiss without adding this photo.  Indoor pool in my hotel.  I've been in the pool every day of this trip so far I think.  I swam here twice, and once at the Sheraton, also a 25M indoor pool.

This is the breakfast that comes with the hotel.  So delicious.  Poached egg, sollandaise sauce. asparagus, slow roasted cherry tomato, like candy.  Emmental cheese, olive topenade on top.