Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sick as a dog.

Man. I'm wiped out.

First, I cut my foot the day before yesterday...

Ouch!
I know it doesn't look too bad, but cut and bruise the end of your big toe and then cram it in a tennis shoe and walk around all day.
(Yeah, I know. When your dumb, you gotta be tough. Thanks Mom.)

There was an altercation in the bar last night and I awoke to the following conversation with a rather aloof Chinese doctor who had just sent one of my kidneys out the door of his office in an ice chest and stood there with a stack of 500RMB notes.

As he was counting his ill-gotten gains he said:
"No- don't get up, you've been shot. Sadly, it wasn't fatal; I've removed the bullet and three others, a blow gun dart, a letter opener, two sharks teeth, five sea urchin spines, a pair of poultry shears, the tip of a bayonet, a twisted paper clip, and meager handful of single-ought buckshot... You may want to learn how to duck if you wish to continue to drink rum at such a prodigious rate."


Now I have a throbbing headache, and post-nasal drip that is filling buckets.

Lovely.

This malady will not keep me from posting a couple good out-of-context quotes that you might get a chuckle out of...

The first one was at Malone's American Bar the night of the Studio 188 gig...
I had just sat down at a table with several western expats when I heard the following:
"Well, I'm no gynecologist... But what the hell. I'll have a look."

Wow.

The second was at The 'Boo last night, presumably sometime before the aforementioned altercation.

"Look man. You can't teach a hammer to love nails. That dog won't hunt."

Even I had to say "What the Fu...?"

TBG out (of my mind).

Hong Kong to Shanghai in 20 hours.

Pretty much universally everyone has the same reaction...
"You're going from Hong Kong to Shanghai by train?" accompanied by a look of shock, disdain or pity.



Yes. By train.
The reason was simple- I had the time, and it was different.
(And we all know I strive for "different".)
I've flown quite enough this year, thanks. Not that I couldn't appreciate the 2 hour flight vs 20 hours in a rumblin' bumblin' stumblin' train filled with people who consider me a frightening freak of nature. But I have them time to spare, so why not try the train.

Overall it wasn't too bad. I got a soft sleeper- the compartment sleeps 4, and there is actually a sort of a mattress on the bunk. There were no availabilities for the deluxe soft- they are two-to-a-compartment and looked quite comfy.

We loaded on at the Hung Hom station in Hong Kong... A surprisingly easy process... it only took about 20 minutes from the time they opened the gates to the passengers until the time the train pulled out.
>

When I got to my compartment, I found I was in the upper bunk. There was also two older Chinese ladies quartered in Car 7, compartment 2. They got a look at me and there was a quick exchange in Mandarin.
I smiled and said "Ni Hao" and proceeded to sit on the bench seat outside the compartment since I didn't want to sit on someone else's bed, and I didn't feel like climbing to my bunk yet.
The way the compartments are designed, everyone sits on the lower bunks until bed time. It helps if you can communicate with your roomies, otherwise there is some very uncomfortable silence. I figured they would be a little more comfortable if I wasn't underfoot.

As the train got underway one of the ladies went out for a bit... At about 20 minutes into the trip the railroad equivalent of a purser comes around and gets your passport and visa number and takes your ticket, then they give you a card that identifies your compartment and bunk. The lady who left must have complained or voiced concern about rooming with a Mo Guai...

As she took my info, she asked if I would mind moving to a different compartment. I told her no problem.
She lead me to a different compartment, and I had two new roomies and (Koeschi be praised!) a lower bunk. Even better, one of my new roomies spoke English.
Even more better, she WAS English.

Anna B, of Norwich England. An angel, really.

My other roomie was ancient Chinese man- 85 or so years old... He was very quiet and unassuming. He had his ever-present tea cannister, a plastic bag for a suitcase, and a giant can of fish for dinner.

ACM - Ancient Chinese Man

As the train rumbled off to the north we sat and talked... Anna was on the short side of a long vacation around Australia and Indochina. Her flight back to London was out of Shanghai and her port of entry was Hong Kong. Her itinerary didn't cover how to get from Hong Kong to Shanghai, so she wound up on the train.

Ancient Chinese Man put his tea on to steep and got out a big can of fish- some kind of smoked-preserved-spiced fish in a pull top can... The problem was that he didn't have enough arm strength to get the top off... I popped the top for him and the stench from this can filled the compartment.

Anna and I beat a hasty retreat and headed down to the restaurant car where we wound up sitting with a leprous crack addict from Norway. It wasn't surprising that he was sitting alone. He was just recovering from dengue fever and had huge patches of dead skin on his arms... He would also lapse into bouts of profanity and gibberish, part a narrative of his travels in Indonesia and part random curse words.

"Well.. You can know how it are in the Thailand. The girls...and the car, I didn't eat the keys. Shit on all the piss!" and then would mumble to himself and expect us to respond to his inarticulate rambling.

We stayed long enough to have a bite of food then made a hasty retreat...

Strange... I didn't see the fishtail on the menu.
(Hey Jaden- You're right... Fish just doesn't photograph well.
But it helps if it doesn't look like a plate of ass to begin with.)

I had a disappointing pork and chive dish, and Anna had a more appetizing-looking Chicken and peanut dish that might have been the equivalent of Kung Pao Chicken if it had actually had any flavor.

When we returned to the car ACM was in bed, so we followed suit.
I read a few chapters of Michener and was asleep by 9:30.
The bed was quite comfortable, if just a bit short. The compartment was 6'8", because as I lay flat out on the bunk, I had about an inch and a half of head and foot room.

I was up about 5:30 and watched several hours of countryside roll past the windows of the train...


Lots of farmland...


Lots of semi-finished houses and buildings


Several (maybe 5 or 6) brick factories.


There a nice little park with a demon-proof bridge...
(Demons can only travel in straight lines, so they can't get to the little teahouse because of the zig-zags on the bridge.

I also saw these small structures up on hillsides. At first I thought they might be like storage sheds of something... (And in a macabre way, they are.)


Some were very basic...


and some were more ornate...


Sometimes there were quite a few of them clustered on the same hillside overlooking the train tracks...


I'm pretty sure they are mausoleums... And the closer we got to Shanghai, the more there were. Creepy.

We made it into Shanghai Station just before noon. ACM ambled off into the city.
Anna headed off to her hostel on the west side of Shanghai. I got stuck waiting for my bag to be off-loaded from the luggage van. It had cost me 70HKD to check the bag, and it cost me one additional RMB to get my bag out of hock...

The taxi brokers were out in force at Shanghai station.
To get to my hotel it would normally be a 25 RMB trip at the absolute most.
They were quoting me 100rmb. WTF?!
I got into a shouting match with one of them.

Taxi Broker:"100 RMB. Long trip.
Yours Truly: "Long trip my ass. Tell him to run the meter."
TB: "Oh no. Much traffic."
YT: "Much traffic! Bullshit. Hun dan!"
TB: "Hun dan? You are Shanghinese?"
YT: "Save it for tourists. Wo bu shi er bai wu..."
20 rmb and 10 minutes later I was my hotel on Nan Yang Lu, right across from Big Bamboo.
Home sweet home for the next 10 days.

TBG out (out drinking at Big Bamboo. Heh.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hong Kong at night

Just a pic from Last Week...

A shot from Kowloon side toward HK Island


Click picture to enlarge

TBG Out-

Monday, October 29, 2007

Art6

The ubiquitious classic cover band at Malone's American Bar on Tong Ren Lu.

Did I mention we were drinking heavily? I didn't think I had to say that...
It's pretty much a given these days. Heh.

Clocks? We don't need no steenking clocks.

Conversation of the day:

"Clocks for the event?
You worried about the time?
You want to know what time it is?
It's time for you to quit fucking with me about the damn clocks."

TBG, out of time.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

Engrish for Breakfast

The following is a telephone exchange between a hotel guest and room-service:

Room Service (RS): "Morrin. Roon sirbees."

Guest (G): "Sorry, I thought I dialed room-service."

RS: "Rye. Roon sirbees...morrin! Joowish to oddor sunteen???"

G: "Uh..... Yes, I'd like to order bacon and eggs."

RS: "Ow joorye den?"

G: ".....What?"

RS: "Ow joorye den?!... Pryed, boyud, poochd?"

G: "Oh, the eggs! How do I like them? Sorry... Uh, scrambled, please."

RS: "Ow joorye dee baykem? Crease?"

G: "Crisp will be fine."

RS: "Hokay. An sahn toes?"

G: "What?"

RS: "An toes. Joorye sahn toes?"

G: "I...uh...don't think so."

RS: "No? Judo wan sahn toes?"

G: "I feel really bad about this, but I don't know what 'judo wan sahn toes' means."

RS: "Toes! Toes! Why joo don juan toes? Ow bow Engrish moppin we bodder?"

G: "Oh, English muffin! I've got it! You were saying 'toast'... Fine...Yes, an English muffin will be fine."

RS: "We bodder?"

G: "No, just put the bodder on the side."

RS: "Wad?!"

G: "I mean butter... just put the butter on the side."

RS: "Copy?"

G: "Excuse me?"

RS: "Copy...tea...meerk?"

G: "Yes. Coffee, please... and that's everything."

RS: "One Minnie. Scramah egg, crease baykem, Englrish moppin, we bodder on sigh and copy... rye??"

G: "What ever you say."

RS: "Tenjooberrymuds."

G: "You're welcome."

(Thanks to Miss B for the email!)

TBG ow-

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hong Kong, Shanzhen and Beyond...

My passport is running out of space for the C&I guys to stamp.

Chinese Visa- one whole page
NY to London - 2 stamps
London to NY, 2 stamps
Jacksonville to Pittsburgh 2 stamps (just kidding)
Jax to Beijing, 2 stamps
Shanghai to Macao, 2 stamps
Macao to Hong Kong, 2 stamps
Hong Kong to ShenZhen, 2 stamps
ShenZhen to Hong Kong, 2 stamps
Hong Kong to Shanghai 2 stamps

And that's just from the end of September to today. I still have to go back from Shanghai to Hong Kong again, then HK to Jax... and who knows what December will bring?

Well- the trip to Shenzhen was great- the company I visited was very cool.
I got a good hands-on peek at their product and their production process.
Very high QC and methods.

I want to re-visit Shenzhen- it is a very modern city- very clean, well planned.
The factory rep I spoke to told me the city is very young- only 30 years old,
so the city planners designed great arterial roads, subways, and wide streets to avoid the traffic problems.
It is a hub for some high tech industries, including most microelectronics and technology production firms. My rep, Melissa also told me there is a huge electronics market in Shenzhen. Very much like Akihabara in the old days.
I did a little research on the place she told me about, Sai Ge...
I am going to have to go back.

-----

But first- Back to Shanghai.
I'm on the Hong Kong - Shanghai express train... 20 hours through scenic south China. I'll have a window seat and my camera, so expect an interesting post when I get back to Shanghai.

Why the train, you ask? Because anyone can fly.
It's also cheap, and you all know what a miserly bastard I am. ;)
Cheap- like USD$70 round trip on a soft sleeper.
(As opposed to USD$400 RT for Marginal Airlines.)
I'll take the interesting trip. I've seen enough airports.

Take care, Constant Readers...
And if you don't hear from me by Saturday, Call the Coast Guard.

TBG out- Really out.

Monday, October 22, 2007

China Games: Done. On to Hong Kong.

Basketball is over for the moment... On to bigger and better things!
Time to look at cutting-edge video wall products in Shenzhen China...




I'm in Hong Kong this week.

What fun. I haven't been here in several years.
Last time I was here I had a sweet young thing with me for a travel companion...

The Perfect Child and I came here in October of 2000. It was a blast.
I think she was 7 at the time. We did all the touristy stuff.
Dim Sum breakfast, rode the Worlds Longest Escalator, took the funicular to the lookout on Victoria Peak, wandered the Temple Street Night Market. All kinds of fun.

Now I'm back.

Getting here from Macao was different- I rode a Jet Hydro-Foil. Talk about a smooth, fast ride. 58 minutes from dock to dock, 48 miles.
As we left the harbor in Macao, the captain cranked up the speed and the foils lifted us up over the waves and it was smooth sailing all the way to Hong Kong Harbor.
I was amazed.

The Foil Cat from Macao to Hong Kong


Another FoilCat on it's way back to Macao.
It looks like the hulls are about 4 feet above the wave tops.


Another single-hull JetFoil. They travel about 50MPH.

There are other boats out and about in the waters between Macao and Hong Kong...


I thought this might be a cool cargo boat, but upon closer inspection it seems to be a long-liner on it's way out to cut a swath of indiscriminate death and destruction in the South China Sea. That support tower and the long outrigger boom on the side are the identifying marks.


Hong Kong Shore Patrol.
Be good, or be gone.

Tomorrow I have a meeting with video wall company to have a peek at some new products and to evaluate their facilities and work processes.
It factory is in ShenZhen, northwest of Hong Kong, so at 6:00 I'll be hitting the subway from Wanchai to Admiralty, all change for Tsim Sha Tsui, walk to the China Ferry Terminal, then go through China Immigrations and take another ferry to Shekou, where they nice folks from AOTO will (in theory) pick me up and take me to their facility.


Somewhere, waaay off in the smog, behind all those ships and the unfinished bridge is Shekou and Shenzhen.

I shall endeavor to look serious, nod thoughtfully, make important-sounding noises and generally try to act like I know a little something about video wall components.

We'll see how it all works out. The company I am going to see has some great products to show, and I'm excited to see their new 6mm and rental products.

Watch this space. Film at 11.

TBG out-

This little piggie went to market...

Our first game in Macao was Thursday, no game Friday, and the second game was Saturday afternoon. So...some of us had Friday off.

Not me... I had a little power supply problem that needed fixing, so I spent a couple hours chasing down a short in the video distribution system. I was finished up by noon so I had a bite to eat, then James S and I headed out... We wandered about Taipa and Macao for a bit, and wound up at the Red Market.

James nearly blew chunks when we walked in... If you've never been in a real third-world market, one where you get to choose the chicken out of the cage that they then wring, pluck and dress while you wait, let me tell, it is a real eye-opener.
I've been to quite a few...
In Italy and Greece the fresh markets are pretty filthy and will put a scare into those of a frail constitution. Tsukiji in Tokyo is amazing for how clean they are able to keep it. For a place that sells (literally) hundreds of tons of seafood daily, the place doesn't smell of fish and the floors are so clean your could eat off them.
The markets in Beijing and Shanghai were...um...interesting. The smells in some of them were bad enough to make a billy goat forage elsewhere, and the market in Mexico City was probably the worst. The conditions in a really nice looking supermarket was so bad that even I couldn't stand it for more than 5 minutes. Horrific.
But the Red Market in Macao- not too bad, really...
I love looking at the different things available in a particular region...and after visiting the Red Market it made me wish I had access to a kitchen, some cumin and garlic.


Dark, dingy. Smells like a tomb.


Preserved Duck... If someone out there knows how this is prepared, please let me know. As far as I can tell, it looks like more like a Frisbee than a fricassee.


Scrimps! Oh, for some garlic and butter!


A veritable smorgasbord- Escargot, regular prawns, mantis shrimp, barramundi, eel, and the list goes on...


Looks like someone out of the pompano family...


More preserved chicken quarters, the smoked Chinese/Macaoan version of Chuleta and some evil-looking dried sausages.


Shanghai Hairy Crab... These guys are alive and bubbling...
Tasty, but not my cup of tea. Too much work for not enough reward.
(I'm spoiled by stone crab and blue crab from Florida)


Nice fresh veggies!
(Make sure you wash them though. You would not believe how they fertilize the gardens here.)


More veggies, including the biggest damn cukes I have ever seen, up at the top of the picture.

The local fresh markets might not smell great, but they can tell you a lot about the people who live in the area, what they eat, and how they live.

If you have the opportunity, don't waste it. Broaden your horizons.

TBG out shopping-

NBA China Games - Wrapping it up.

Let's see... Lessons Learned Checklist:
1. David is Satan.
Check.

2. A hotel/casino with a built-in arena is a Good Thing.
Check.

3. MonkeyFarts are bad.
Check.

4. Obscene sculptures are OK if the government pays for them.
Check.

5. Crack-smoking blondes will slap you for absolutely no reason at all.
Check (ouch).

6. Shanghai-Pudong is a nice airport but they don't have enough jetways.
Check.

7. Don't eat at the Japanese restaurant in the Food Court at the Venetian, unless you want to wind up looking like a glazed donut.
Check and Double check!

8. David is Satan.
This bears repeating. - Let there be no mistake! David=Satan.

Well...
We made it through the event.
The Orlando Stats crew performed like the champs they are. Big kudos to them.
Also let's give a big hand to the NBA IT Crew... Always on top of any issues, problems and needs that cropped up. When the network went belly-up 10 minutes before tip-off, they were all over the situation getting it resolves, and had a backup plan for getting stats out to the rest of the world.
Genties and ladlemen- a round of applause for Satan David, James, Peter, Will, Sean, Ryan, Sergio and Steve. Thank you for your help!

Now then-

More pictures:
Because I know some of you Constant Readers are just really Constant Picture Lookers.

The attention to detail here in the Venetian is pretty remarkable.
They really went to a lot of effort to bring the details of Venice to the hotel.

For instance, the decorative columns.

Near St Marks Cathedral there is a colonnade that extends from the cathedral to the water.
On the tops of the columns there are carvings of animals.
As far as I could tell, (and I looked for them), this was the only place these particular carvings were found. Until now.


The Dog in Venice


The Wolf in the Piazza San Marco.

Now in Macao-


The Dog (Macao)


The Lion (Macao)

Amazing, no?




They passed out cell phones for the staff to use here in Shanghai and Macao.
A telephone list was thoughtfully pre-programmed into the phones, to facilitate use...
I was looking for someone's listing in the phone the other day...
I didn't know there was a Chinese Porn Star on staff...


Speaking of Chinese names...
Many Chinese people have an English name, in addition to their normal Chinese name in order to simplify things for us dumb Gwailo (Cantonese) or Baichi, as they called me in Shanghai. (I'm pretty sure it means fool or idiot. Either way it fits. But I digress...)
Steve H. was working with the folks in Credentials (Andrea, Areola and Chia-Bret) and had so many issues and problems getting their stuff operational that they gave Cred System a Chinese name... Sum Ting Wong.

I guess you had to be there...




The air inside the arena was just buzzing... And not in a good way.


There were flies everywhere.
Nasty.
You couldn't put down a beverage container without having it inspected by a flying insect.




Now, I might be wrong about this. Follow me for a second.

I can understand wanting to exclude the kiddies from the casino.
Let them shoot craps and play baccarat on the playground like we did.

But why are you excluding the women from the casino?
This is the button for the ground floor in the elevator in the hotel...

Someone call Martha Burke! Quick!

Enough of this foolishness... More later.

TBG out-

Saturday, October 20, 2007

NBA China Games 2007 Faces


Click image to see full size.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fun on the Menu - Macao 2007

I was walking through the food court in the Venetian Casino here in Macao when I saw this menu at a Japanese restaurant...


I am NOT eating here.

(If this is a puzzlement to you click here...)

Also-
I have a passable knowledge of taxonomy...

...I just can't figure out how ANYONE classifies goose liver as seafood. I just don't get it.

And one last one...

A not-so-subliminal message from McSorley's in Macao...

...one has to assume they are referring to the waitstaff.

TBG, out-

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Drinking with Satan David

Satan: "Oh c'mon... We're going to Big Bamboo to have a drink."
Yours Truly: "But I'm tired."
S: "Just one drink. Don't be a little girl."

Thus it begins.

David is Satan. That is the gist of it.

Dude works all day- whipping the staff into a frenzy, then back to the hotel for dinner. After dinner it's off to a local dive and lots of alcohol.

Not just beer... Oh no...
Do you remember Koln last year? Triples of Captain Morgan with a hint of CocaCola just to cut the bite of the spirit?
Yeah.
Just like that...only worse.

Doubles of Capt. Morgan, alternating with shots of SoCo and Lime...or some other vile concoction like the Monkey Breath or whatever the hell it was that James was feeding me.
We'd try to leave and Satan David would draw us back in with a question about schedules or tasks for the next day, and ...Whoa! Another round of shots would appear.

Lovely. Simply lovely.

Need more proof?

Well, there's photographic evidence.
Vampires don't show up on film or in mirrors...
Satan David has other indications of his nefarious origins evident when on-camera.

These photos are not retouched... These are fresh out of the digicam.


Peter, Ryan and Satan David, preparing to assault a drinking establishment.


Sean, Satan David & Ace... Wandering about in Shanghai.

\
Lena, Molly, Ryan and Satan David.


Yours truly and Satan David...
The obscene finger gesture? The explanation is obvious...
The devil made me do it.

TBG - Just an old guy trying to get into Heaven.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fun on the Menu - Shanghai 2007

From Crystal Jade on Huaihai Xi Lu...






Yeah, uh, Waiter... I'll have the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, please.

More Random China Photos

In QiZhong, they shipped in a basketball floor just for the event...


Hey Guys! Shiny side up!

I was walking down a side street near Chengdu Lu the other night and saw this sign...

Now, isn't a Chinese restaurant over here just a regular restaurant?
I could see them having to identify a different cuisine like Italian or something, but why do they have to identify a Chinese restaurant here?

Now, I may not know "art" but I know what I like...

...and for subliminal reasons, I think I shall name this sculpture "Head".
Seriously...given the prudish climate here, I'm not sure how this sculpture is on display here.
Oh well... Eye of the beholder and all that....

Constant Readers will remember Studio 188, Michael & Co's band in Shanghai...
Last year I played roadie for them at a private gig...
I hooked up with them a few nights ago at a bar on Fuxing Lu called Club JZ...

Do I have to tell you that we were drinking heavily? Nah. Didn't think so.

They are playing another gig here on Oct 27th at Malone's. Another Roadie/Security gig for Yours Truly.
(I get to utter that oh-so-useful phrase "Yeah- I'm with the band.")

And speaking of drinking...

James S was out with some English/Irish left-wing bastards the other night...
I left early because I figuratively bitch-slapped one of the morons in regards to the US position on global warming and the Kyoto protocols... Had I stayed I would have really had to knock them around a bit...
You know how it goes when I overindulge- It starts with ooohs and ahhhs, later there is the running and screaming. And walking through the hotel lobby in my underwear. But I digress...

So... James, Satan David and & I were drinking at Big Bamboo and James comes up with a drink from the night before...a Monkeyfart.
Guinness & a depth charge of Baileys.

Horrific. Bad beyond words.
Listen to your Uncle Jay- steer clear of the Monkeyfart.


TBG, more on the way...