March 2009


Before we begin today, let me introduce you to the Dragon Fire Fruit (its real name is Pitaya), or as it’s known in China 火龍果 (huǒ lóng guǒ).  Every morning for breakfast I’ve been enjoying this white, juicy delicacy and have remarked at how similar to kiwi it is in texture.  Lo and behold, I looked it up on Wikipedia and it’s actually a cactus fruit.  They say that apart from Southern Asia it grows in Mexico, Central, and South America, which surprises me because I’ve never once heard of or seen this thing.  If you ever get a chance to eat it, don’t pass it up because it’s very tasty.

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Day 5: Learning the Art of Bartering

The above image really describes this day surprisingly well.  I know it’s similar to the picture I used on Day 3, but if you clicked through to the album, you’d already know that I promised to get a better picture of this sign.  I still don’t understand its meaning or why it exists, and therefore the sign in and of itself is crazy.  The simple fact is that today I saw a many things that I will never forget, and I took an astounding number of photos to help document the entire thing.  Expect a LOT of pictures in this post, so I hope you like my photography as much as you like reading my blog, otherwise I’d advise you to turn back before it’s too late.

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This one’s for you Al:

Day 4: Some Stay Dry and Others Feel the Pain

All I could taste was garlic. My sweat smelled exactly like hot pot as I ran on the treadmill.  I woke up at 6:25 in a manner very similar to the day prior; the only difference being that I retained the will power to force myself awake and to stay in such a state.  This was only my second day at the gym in four days and I hadn’t even gone two days in a row, yet as I left the attendant said cheerfully, “See you tomorrow!”, which I can only guess she was trained to say because it made no sense.  Who goes to the gym on Saturday mornings?  It’d be nice to say that I had that kind of dedication, but I’d rather sleep in and then eat a huge breakfast of bacon and sausage before taking my post-breakfast nap and then spending the afternoon drinking beer and eating nachos and cheese.  Actually, that reminds me… I ate pork rinds the other day at my friend Ryan’s house and they were fantastic. I’ve never had them before, and always assumed they’d be wet and greasy but in fact they’re very light and crispy like puffed rice cakes.

Don’t ask me why I thought of that…

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Day 3: Complacency

I awoke at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday with heavy eyes. I could see through the curtains that the sun was starting to make its way over the horizon. I swung my legs over the side of the bed and pushed myself to a standing position. I wanted to get up and go to the gym but my head felt like it had a weight attached. As I stumbled to the bathroom I made a semi-conscious decision and halted mid-stride. “Screw it”, I thought, just as I pulled the covers back over my head… I needed more sleep.

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I skipped lunch today (Friday… I know, your mind is blown, as you’re probably reading this on Thursday evening) knowing that I had an all-natural energy bar “made with organic oats and soybeans”.  I was actually pretty excited about this Clif bar that I got from Trader Joe’s because its flavor was Chocolate Brownie (package pictured at right).   I brought four such bars to China with me.  Two Chocolate Brownie and two Honey Banana Nut Bread.  I had one of the banana nut bread bars the first morning here when I had a light breakfast.  It was actually very good and reminded me of my own banana bread, which I haven’t made in forever and I’ve wanted to… it’s just that I don’t have a copy of the recipe, nor do I have any bread pans, but that is besides the point.  I was impressed with my first exploit into the realm of Clif Energy Bars (the company’s website here).  I had actually intentionally not eaten the Chocolate Brownie flavor anticipating that it would be the more delicious of the bunch and wanted to save it for a special occasion such as today. I never expected what I was going to actually find when I opened the package…

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Well I missed my opportunity to follow-up with my explanation of the fail train youtube video from yesterday…  During one of our many trips between the levels of IBM/ISTC Shenzhen, we came face to face with a flock of ISTC’s (International Systems Technology Company) line operators wearing green and blue smocks, who promptly piled into the elevator in an eerily similar manner as the poor souls on that train in the video.  Had my arms been free to move, I would’ve whipped out my camera for a shot of the sardine-vator.  I hope to get another chance to do so before I leave on Wednesday, April 1st.  As a side note, when I leave here on April 1st it’ll still be March 31 for you because in case you forgot, I’m in the friggin’ future!

Day 2: Retribution

I awoke from a deep slumber at 6:35 a.m. and brushed the sleep from my eyes.  I had set my alarm extra early for the opportunity to check out the hotel’s gym and do a little exercise to start my day off right. As of late, I’ve been slacking on my morning exercise routine and I figure that if I start getting into the habit now while I’m away, it’ll be easier to pick up once I return to the past (a.k.a. America).  The gym was on the same level as the “Spa by Lifestyle”, and was an surprisingly satisfying area.  There were two treadmills, an elliptical and a stair master at the far end of the room that were facing windows overlooking a large patio with tennis court and basketball; however due to the rainy weather of the past two days it was soaking wet and not exactly the best scenery.  Along the left wall of the room were some standard resistance machines and a rack of free weights, while the right side of the room was stocked with additional resistance machines and two “complete gym” machines.

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Before we begin, let me say one thing about living in the future.  It’s pretty friggin’ sweet.  Yes, living 12 hours in the future doesn’t seem like much, but when I hit the ‘Publish’ button it’s Friday, and you’ll look at your clock and say… but that’s tomorrow!  And I’ll laugh because… well, I’m in the future!

Day 1: Arrival

I awoke around 8:00 a.m. to shower and prepare myself for my first day at IBM Shenzhen.  The night prior, I had arranged with Tony from IBM Taiwan (TSTL) to meet for breakfast on the third floor lounge before heading to the site.  Mi CamitaAs I took the elevator down from the 21st floor where my room was (club level baby), I noticed that at every floor, the elevator opens its doors before it has fully stopped moving.  This causes a momentary wave of vertigo that is quite unsettling at first.  The first time I noticed this behavior, I had a fleeting vision of a scene from Halflife where you step off the elevator and turn around to watch it fall into the abyss below.  This revelation also brought to light how tired I must have been the night prior, as I didn’t notice this happening on the way up to my room.

The breakfast on the third floor was buffet style.  Being as confused and unobservant as I am, I initially only saw a small table of platters from which to choose your food, and I took a little bit of each item: salted herring, mini french toast triangles, fried bread, sugar-maple ham. It was only shortly before leaving that I noticed the giant spread in the center of the room that featured the standard breakfast fare (eggs, sausage, bacon, sushi, etc.).  No matter, I thought.  Nobody ever regretted eating salted herring and french toast with syrup for breakfast before.  Right?

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