Archive for August, 2009

QUAKE!!!!

Thursday, August 27th, 2009 by Scott

Last night I was on the eighth floor of a hotel in wellington when this happened

Biggest quake I’ve ever felt.

As I woke, adrenal gland firing open and every sphincter slamming shut is I was thinking “where are my pants” and “how long do I wait before running”. Sleep came poorly after that … so the 3:52 am afters shock was not a big deal.

Interesting ……..

Ian thanks for the editing and feel free to edit this one. [Ian: Yup, already did]

Scott Is Employed

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 by Scott

Okay I know you’ve all been fretting about me being made redundant but after 8 weeks of being inspected, interviewed, rejected, assessed, psychometrically challenged, ect … I was offered a couple of jobs outside MFish. Our organisation could not get its act together to tell me if it wanted me or not so … after much deliberation, Leigh and I chose to go to the elite Cawthron Institute in Nelson. I’ll be working as a senior economist / resource manager for their sustainable business team. It looks exciting.

So I take a little drop in pay, stay in Nelson and take on a HUGE new and exciting challenge.

What a score eh!! Transition looks to be around the first week in October.

[Edited for Scott’s abysmal spelling and grammar and added the link – Ian]

China

Thursday, August 20th, 2009 by Ian

I didn’t want to go on and on about China in that last post, but here are my thoughts on it.   I loved it — of course I was “handled” the whole time by some nice young girls as interpreters, meal companions and tour guides.  It would have been a LITTLE harder on my own, but I think I could have gotten around.  Most of Beijing has signs in both English and Chinese — obviously it would be different if I had tried to head out to the country.  So the trip went something like this (feel free to follow along in the gallery):

  1. I had most of the first day to myself, so wandered over to the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube.  It was brutally hot and humid (36 C and 98% humidity), so that’s haze in the pictures, not smog.  I was instantly struck by how much the same as anywhere else it is:  Hordes of people touristing, buses more arriving and departing regularly, tour guides with their little flags held up so you could follow them, people selling souveniers along the sidewalks.  The humidity finally let go and it started pouring rain, so I headed back to the hotel.  I had dinner that night in a Brazilian Restaurant in the hotel — someone needs to tell them that chinese boys wearing cowboy hats and string ties just looks ridiculous.  That’s when I first met Fred London (from London) — Hexagon’s (our parent company) Chief Council.  Nice guy!
  2. Day two was filled with meetings and work…just ate at the Brazilian joint again.
  3. Day three was the meetings I was there for, lots of high mucky mucks and Red Army people.  An interesting story about the army guys.  They are not allowed to meet foreigners in their dress uniforms and they have to ask permission to meet at all, so they all came to the meeting in shorts and sandals — they actually were introduced as the Red Army Basketball team!  (It was all very tongue in cheek).  The meetings went very well and we’re pretty sure we’ll be going back soon.  Went out for a very traditional dinner with all the big wigs.  Great Peking Duck (sorry Leigh)!
  4. By day 4, all the business stuff had wrapped up, my CEO had headed home and I was on my own.  I just had some technical meetings to go to.  I was picked up at the hotel and taken to the main company that we work with — “BD Star” — and met my counterpart on their side and did all sorts of technical things.  Big lunch with everyone from BD Star — very traditional.  That’s where I had the duck tongue, pig’s ear and other “delights”.   Gah.  That afternoon, Dr. Mao took me to the Summer Palace — Huge gardens with palaces all over actually.  It was still very hot so we had a little rest before going to a Chinese Buffet restaurant where I met my two “companions” – Linda and Rachel.  That’s where I ate fried silk worm which actually wasn’t bad…kinda nutty.
  5. Day 5 was reserved for touring.  We started at the Great Wall or as my guide called it “the great wall of people”.  There must have been 100,000 people on the stretch we were at.  Refer to the pictures!  It really is a hugely impressive thing, and they certainly didn’t build it on the easy path!  Lunch of dumplings (yum!) and then on to the Ming Tombs.  Unfortunately it rained pretty hard so we hit the main tomb (about 10 stories DOWN) then bailed.  That was the night of the Hot Pot and Moutai.  The food was really good — I drew the line at “Cow Throat” — basically hunks of cartilage — but I ate the “Cow Stomach” and everything else — mostly beef and pork.  The story of that night was the Maotai.  They filled me up a juice glass of it — 53% alcohol — and we drank HEAVILY.  I can honestly say I don’t remember going to bed that night.  I obviously did, but it was brutal!
  6. Day 6 was my second day of touring, up in the morning and spent the day at Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.  So much to see, so little time.  The Square was FULL of tourists, mostly Chinese but a few Europeans and the Forbidden City was a complete zoo.  We rounded the day off with a trip to the market where all manner of knock off merchandise was available and I picked up a few things.  Dinner was actually at a Japanese restaurant, very much like Japanese Villiage here — they cook right in front of you with flair and pizzazz.  You know.  Again with the Moutai!   But this time I was prepared and drank it MUCH slower…and remembered everything that evening!
  7. Day 7 was up to the airport and headed home.

So, that’s the story in a nutshell.  I would go back any time — the people were very polite and kind, there weren’t army guys on every corner, everyone was just like you and me.  I think I would avoid the summer if I had a choice, the heat and humidity was just oppressive, but, that said, I’ll go back any time I’m asked to.  Most enjoyable — except for the water bug or whatever I got.

Wow.

Thursday, August 20th, 2009 by Ian

It’s been a while.  Feels like longer than it really was.  My last update told you about plans to go to these places, now I’ve been there and am finally back — tired and worn out and ready to go back to work.  I haven’t darkened the office door in over three weeks, which, for me, is a LONG time.  Here’s how things went down:

  1. Traveled to Santa Barbara for a few days.  The business side went fine, but the flights were a pain. Leaving Calgary, we were an hour and a half late.  First, someone put too much fuel in the plane and we were over weight, then they were going to take some out, then we were going to sit on the tarmac somewhere and burn off the excess, then they asked someone to move from the front of the plane to the back, then they took off some of the “carry on” luggage that didn’t fit and they had to put underneath, then they got 2 people to get off the plane, then they shifted MORE people to the back.  We did finally make it to Denver, where we were changing planes and literally sprinted to our connection and they closed the door behind me.  Coming home, took us 12 hours.  San Francisco was fogged in, so our flights were instantly messed up.  Ended up flying through L.A. MUCH later in the day.  I DID fly home beside Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy — they were opening at the Saddledome for Blink-182.  Made for some interest.  Pictures of the leisure side of the trip are in the gallery.
  2. Got home Wednesday and we picked up the new car Thursday.  It’s got 333 km on it, and been through a half a tank of gas, and I still have only driven it twice.  Sigh.  Maybe I’ll go to work tomorrow so I can drive it!
  3. Left for Beijing on the Friday.  There’s a lot to say about this, so I’ll add another update after this one.
  4. Got home from China and fell sick with something.  Fever, chills and horrible lower gastric effects if you get my meaning.  I spent 4 days in bed trying to get control of myself so never made it in to work like I wanted to.  I’m pretty sure I got some bad water while I was there.  There were two occasions.  I was being very careful to stick to bottled water, but once I opened one and the seal didn’t break.  I SHOULD have put it back down, but I figured maybe the guy next to me had opened it — now I find out this is a favourite money saving trick — they refill the bottles with tap water.  The second time, I had tea and it never really crossed my mind that it was water…and it was only warm at that, so not boiled.   It had to have been one of those two occasions.  I was just starting to feel better when…
  5. We were off to Saskatchewan for our annual pilgrimage, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Shell Lake.  Nice visits, I think we saw everyone, but frankly for me…

It’s good to be home.  I seem to have control of my gut again — only took a week and a half — and I’ll probably be checking in a work tomorrow.  Whew!

This just in…

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009 by Ian

Dylan has arrived home safely.  I’m in Beijing, of course, so I can’t verify the information, but my sources say he’s currently making himself a pot of Kraft Dinner.

Welcome home, boy!