Summary: China Trip, started using Green Chef, Vancouver BC Trip begins
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Rode Muni to UCSF Parnassus. UCSF shuttle from Parnassus to Laurel Heights. Along the way I continued studying Spanish on Duolingo. Published two events for OSACA. Spent most of the day rotating the listservs. This was the first time I executed basically all of the commands to do so in a single email message. I wasn't sure if it would work, but it did. I expected the listserv system to execute only part of them and then complain about a number of commands limit. All seemed to have gone well, and I sent results to list owners for review. Followup with Erin H about technology intro for residents. Followup with student GN about Windows 10 for students. Asked Lisa D to make Jazzee live for us. No lunch. UCSF shuttle from Laurel Heights to Parnassus. Rode Muni home. Dinner at home with Patrick: leftover vietnamese food followed an hour or two later by cheese quesadillas with sour cream. Watched 1h18m of Sophie's Choice on Netflix DVD with Patrick and popcorn and caramel toffee ice cream.
Notified appropriate parties of forthcoming international travel, confirmed cellular connectivity expectations with T-Mobile. T-Mobile's coverage in all the cities we're visiting in China is limited to 2G. However, data and text are included. Calls made on wifi calling are free. Calls not made on wifi calling are 20 cents per minute. No sim card swapping required—nice! Housecleaning. Late lunch with Patrick: two samosas each from frozen with chutney sauce, sparkling mineral water. Shower. Rode Lyft Line to Shotwell House. One of the longest Lyft Line rides ever: 45 minutes with two additional riders. Most of the time I consider Lyft Line to be a good deal, but every now and then one gets rides like this, and it's no longer worth paying $11 to ride with only 3 persons instead of $2.50 to ride Muni when both take roughly the same amount of time. Rode with Phil, Drew, Danny, Romy to Thunderbird House. Dinner at the house: korean food pickup. Afterwards we watched In the Heart of the Sea (2015) which I enjoyed but the rest of the group mostly panned.
Phil prepared breakfast: eggs, bacon, pig sausage, watermelon, grilled potatoes, and more. We intended to visit Pace Gallery Art + Technology, but when we arrived we found that they were closed despite my calling several weeks in advance and confirming with a human that they would be open today—very disappointing. I will probably not attempt to visit this museum again after such a horrible experience. We continued homeward but on a whim stopped at Beltramo's Wine and Spirits which was having a closing sale. I bought two double old fashioned glasses for a dollar each and a Waialua pineapple soda for $1.11. We arrived at Shotwell House and stopped briefly for items to be dropped off before continuing to The Ramp where we had afternoon sangria and appetizers of calimari and onion rings. Back to Shotwell House. I rode Lyft home. Dinner at home with Patrick: Blue Apron fried green tomato sandwiches with aioli and potato salad. To bed early.
Tried some home repairs but found that I chose the wrong epoxy. I wanted epoxy putty but had instead purchased epoxy paste. At the time of purchase the item seemed like what I needed. I did not find out until too late. Patrick brought Mom Ryan and Sam over for a fourth of July lunch. We ate KFC chicken, biscuits, cole slaw; Whole Foods cut watermelon, potato salad. Cut my hair, showered. Nap. Dinner at home with Patrick: garlic bread, salad, leftover fried chicken. Finished watching Sophie's Choice on Netflix DVD with Patrick and caramel toffee ice cream. Late snack: cherries.
MyAccess was not working today. Followup with Song L about an outage for one of our web hosts. Windows 10 followup. Examsoft broken link followup. Updated the jobs listserv with recent grad non-UCSF email addresses, notified Megan of its completion. ICRD followup: should residents have access to certain rooms? Prepped the new list of students spreadsheet. UC cybersecurity training work in Excel. Rode Lyft to Kaiser Mission Bay, my first visit to this new campus. Beforehand I lunched at Publico: fish and chips, no tortilla. This dish sounded tasty when I ordered it, but it was really more grease than I had wanted. Tasty, but a little too greasy for my stomach. Doctor appointment. Rode Lyft to Union Square where I ran a few errands before walking to Hayes Valley to meet Patrick for dinner. We browsed shops and restaurants briefly before deciding on Mazzat (415-525-3901, 501 Fell Street). Two glasses of massaya, one order of hummus and pita, kafta (Ground beef and lamb mixed with parsley and onions, cooked in a tomato sauce, served with jasmine rice) for Patrick, kabsseh (jasmine rice cooked with green peas, onions, carrots and raisins, topped with tender chicken thighs, cooked with fresh tomatoes, all sprinkled with nuts, served with a side of plain yogurt) for me. Food was delicious, service was good. $87.46 after a $13 tip. We had leftovers enough for a meal. Patrick and I rode Lyft home. I used my sewing machine to edit my new Columbia Men's Watertight II jacket (columbia grey, small). It took 2 hours and 40 minutes to shorten the sleeves 3 inches and take in the sides and the sleeves. A horrible hack job, but it works.
Rode Muni to UCSF Parnassus. UCSF shuttle from Parnassus to Laurel Heights. Along the way I continued studying Spanish on Duolingo. Sprint standup. Encryption accounting followup: usb drives, Cyber Security Awareness Training. Listserv management: made a correction. Chatted briefly on the phone with Chris O. Updated the list of students spreadsheet. Edited Rodney's documentation for our Lexicomp licenses. Updated the OEIS listserv and cheat sheet. Lunch at b on the go: beach club sandwich special: smoked turkey, ham, swiss, sprouts, arugula, aioli; water. Styling work in Drupal: began identity retheme fonts and font sizes work. Made a fair amount of progress before noticing that font sizing everywhere was needlessly complex, so I saved about a quarter of the work I did before abandoning the changes and planning to start again from scratch. Snack from b on the go: oatmeal-cherry-toffee cookie. Rode Lyft Line home. Dinner at home with Patrick: Blue Apron cavatappi pasta and arugula pesto with summer squash and ricotta salata, red wine, sparkling water. Dessert: we shared an almond cookie from b on the go. Began packing for my forthcoming trip to China.
Rode Muni to UCSF Parnassus. UCSF shuttle from Parnassus to Laurel Heights. Along the way I continued studying Spanish on Duolingo. Breakfast from The View Cafe: egg and cheese on english muffin, small cafe au lait. Sprint standup. Sent feedback to Megan regarding charging stations for the student lounge. Chatted with Eric about a possible timeline markup and styling solution requested by Susie. Microsites work: ACDRS followup. Lunch from The View Cafe: veggie california on rye, pickle slice. Met with Susie: identity retheme decisions. Two messages in my inbox. UCSF shuttle from Laurel Heights to Parnassus. Rode Muni home. Dinner at home with Patrick: Blue Apron enchiladas suizas with summer squash, poblano pepper and creamy salsa verde. Watched 10 Cloverfield Lane on Netflix DVD with Patrick. Almost finished packing.
Tour day 1 of 15. San Francisco. Final packing. Shower. Breakfast: granola with yogurt, 6 ounces of carrot juice. Rode either Lyft or UberX to SFO, met the others. We passed through security check. About a 12-hour United Airlines non-stop flight 888 from San Francisco (SFO) to Beijing (PEK) with Dex, Dad, Rob, Lani, Jeremy, Matthew, Kiana, and Akemi. The flight arrived a bit early. We had two and a half meals during the flight, uneventful. Dex and I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark via iTunes on my iPad Pro with an audio splitter. I nap at some point during the flight. Friday ends while we are in flight. Our Chinese speakers on this trip are Lani, Kiana (studied 5.5 years), and Akemi (studied 2 years).
Tour day 2 of 15. Beijing. Flight from SFO to PEK ends. Weather upon arrival in Bejing was 99 degrees Fahrenheit and very humid. We endured a very long, unairconditioned, and poorly ventilated line for customs, then successfully retrieved all our bags from baggage claim. Leo from China Spree met us, and we rode in an air-conditioned large passenger bus for about an hour to Marriott Beijing City Wall. At the Marriott Dex and I used a machine to change United States dollars to RMB. Leo checked us in and helped us resolve issues with our room. Rested and refreshed. Dinner on our own; on most of this tour's travel days we have no arranged meal upon arrival. All other meals are covered. We didn't want to walk far or have a very large meal, so we had dumplings and noodles at Jiahexing Dumplings Beijing Station Branch, a small restaurant in our hotel's building. Today was Lani's birthday, but we did not have cake or do anything else special. To bed. Number of steps walked = 5,380.
Tour day 3 of 15. Beijing with Leo. Woke twice in the night. I didn't realize until today when Rob mentioned it, but our hotel rooms do smell faintly of cigarette smoke. I'm surprised that I didn't notice it; usually I'm very sensitive to and intolerant of it. The breakfast buffet at Marriott Beijing City Wall is pretty incredible. Many different stations with lots of different kinds of cuisines. Today was our first full day of our China Spree tour. We rode about 10 minutes to Tiananmen Square where we walked across the square, then entered and crossed the Forbidden City. As we entered, a chorus of angels began singing, and water fountains in the moat magically activated. We visited various points of interest in the Forbidden City. The heat was sweltering, and we visited on a day with about 50,000 others, which seemed pretty crowded to us but Leo told us this was relatively light traffic. Indoor areas were either not air conditioned or poorly air conditioned, making it challenging to continue and somewhat of an ordeal. Our bus driver met us on the opposite side, and we rode a ways, stopping briefly at an ATM so that Dad could get some money (but he was unsuccessful), then alighted to take a rickshaw ride alongside a lake through Beijing's Hutongs neighborhood. We rode a while, then alighted for delicious 11-course Chinese food lunch at the home of Madame Zhou and her husband Mr. Guo. After we ate, we chatted with her a while, learning about the history of her and her home and her family. While exiting, Dad had a little trouble with the steps and skinned his arm a bit. We got it bandaged, and he was shaken but fine after a few minutes. We rode the rickshaw back to our rickshaw starting point, then returned to the bus to drive to the Summer Palace. We walked along the long corridor alongside the lake, stopping at various points to observe historical points of interest, including the marble boat. We rode a large dragon boat back to near our Summer Palace starting point. At this point today I had walked over 14,000 steps, and we all were exhausted, declining a crossing of the 17-arches bridge and a visit to historical sights on the island at its other end. We rode in the bus about 45 minutes to dinner at an elegant restaurant on the top floor of a shopping mall. The restaurant is famous for its Peking duck. If I recall correctly, we are served over a dozen courses. (We later learn that every provided meal on our trip is Chinese food and that every one results in far more food than we can possibly eat in one sitting.) Exhausted from the day's walking and feasting, we declined time for shopping after dinner. We rode in the bus back to the Marriott, catching brief glimpses of the setting sun, lit brilliantly orange. I had brought face masks for everyone, but it seemed we did not need them since the rainy summer season means the air quality is generally better than the other seasons. As today ended, Leo told us with a laugh that we should expect the same amount of exertion every day of the tour. Lani and Rob got just-okay, in-room massages from the hotel spa while the rest of us relaxed in our rooms. To bed. Weather today was 99 degrees Fahrenheit and very humid. Number of steps walked = 16,368.
Tour day 4 of 15. Beijing with Leo. Woke too early and couldn't sleep so I went to the gym to practice tai chi warmups and weightlifting. Breakfast buffet at Marriott Beijing City Wall. We drove for about 80 minutes to the Ming Tombs. We entered a grand, red archway before continuing down a paved path past 36 grand marble statues and through a cicada-filled forest. We then drove to Run-Ze Jade Garden where tour guide Maggie walked us through the gallery which also included silk embroidery paintings and other kinds of art and craft. We learned about different kinds of jade and jadeite. We ended at the huge jade gallery showroom where we could purchase fine jade and the others did a bit of shopping. Afterwards we went upstairs for another 11-course Chinese food lunch feast. Back in the bus and another long drive across two mountains to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China. This section is further away and consequently less visited, and I thought that the longer drive was very much worth having virtually no pressing crowds as can happen at the closer section. We rode a gondola to the base of the wall then further climbed many stairs to reach the top of the wall. At times I didn't see anyone nearby in either direction on the wall, and this was my favorite thing of this visit. We spent over an hour on the wall. It started out sunny and hot—maybe 100 degrees—then became overcast and cooler—maybe 85 degrees—with rare, short breezes. The kids ran ahead several towers so Lani retrieved them before they had gone too far. Dad made it to the top of the wall but declined to visit multiple towers due to distance and difficulty for him. I lost count of how many I had visited—maybe four? We drove back to Beijing in the bus and dined on Chinese food at a restaurant (Da something? Men) which included a too-loud show with talented, expert performers: a costumed martial artist (staff), a flautist playing lots of different kinds of wind instruments, a basketball spinner who as part of his act spun basketballs on guests' fingers, and a ribbon dancer who also sang. Back to the hotel. To bed. Number of steps walked = 15,612. Weather today was 99 degrees Fahrenheit, clear with a bit of haze, and very humid.
Tour day 5 of 15: a travel day. Beijing with Leo, then Xi'an with Harry. Breakfast buffet at Marriott Beijing City Wall. Today we visited the Temple of Heaven followed by the Bird Nest Stadium (exterior only from a far distance). Another 11-ish-course Chinese food lunch feast at Tian Yi Xiao Guan, another restaurant located in a shopping mall. Afterwards we rode in the bus to the airport for this tour's first domestic flight. Weather before leaving Beijing was 99 degrees Fahrenheit, clear with some haze, and very humid. Rode in the bus to the airport. We passed through security check. Air China evening flight 1235 from Beijing (PEK) to Xi'an (XIY). Small inflight snack: mushroom beef pastry, water. A woman in my row in the seat across the aisle fell asleep on her tray, and when the flight crew prepared the plane for landing three flight attendants tried unsuccessfully for several minutes to wake her by nudging her shoulder and arm. Eventually the woman sat up suddenly. I learned that you're not supposed to use your cellphone at any time during the flight even in airplane mode, which is different than flying in the United States. At baggage claim we discovered that Air China had lost Rob's large, checked bag, so Lani (who spoke Chinese) spent some time arranging for its return. Exiting baggage claim, we found our Xi'an guide Harry Wu, and Harry introduced us to bus driver Mr. Guo. From airport to hotel took about an hour. Lani, Dex, and I stayed up late with Dad to discuss health issues. This time I noticed cigarette smoke in the hallway and the room more readily than at our Beijing hotel. Again, it does not bother me, and I am surprised at that. To bed. Weather at arrival at Xi'an was 88 degrees and mostly cloudy. Number of steps walked = 11,723.
Tour day 6 of 15. Xi'an with Harry. Breakfast buffet at Sheraton Xi'an North City. Like the buffet of our hotel in Beijing, this buffet is grand, with Asian, American, and European selections. We rode about an hour in the bus to visit the terra cotta warriors, visiting pit 1, the Circlevision film, and pits 2 and 3 before lunching at the site's restaurant. I hadn't seen a Circlevision film since I was a child, so I was excited when I heard that we would be seeing one today. However, the Circlevision film was disappointing, seeming to have been made sometime shortly after 1987 and then very poorly maintained. Two of the nine screens did not work at all (they were black), and although the acting and sets and reenactments seemed of surprisingly excellent quality (one dying soldier's performance in particular is forever seared in my memory), the circleness was not seamless, so a horse would leave one screen then appear on the adjacent screen a few seconds later. One screen was brighter than all the rest, and many of the screens were so dim as to be unviewable. This film really ought to be closed unless it can be restored somehow or replaced entirely by some modern equivalent. While touring the buildings we learned by Harry's phone that Rob's missing bag was found by Air China in Beijing and that we can receive it at the airport before our flight out of Xi'an tomorrow. (The paperwork must be completed in person.) Unfortunately, the missing bag means that Rob is without his supplies and a change of clothes between today and tomorrow. At lunch in the terra cotta warriors onsite restaurant we watched expert noodlemakers prepare and serve shaved and hand-pulled noodles. The shaved noodles were thicker and served with a pork sauce. The hand-pulled noodles were skinny and served in a broth. The meal included a medium-sized buffet and six smaller dishes brought to the table. Continuing our tour of the terra cotta warriors, we visited the last building: chariots and history of the preservation. While leaving the site, Lani haggled with a vendor and successfully brought a price down 60% for a set of five metal statues of warriors (paid: 20 yuan, down from 50 yuan). We rode in the tour bus five minutes to a local village to see a cave dwelling called a yaodong. Back to the bus and back to the city to visit the east gate of the Xi'an city wall. We explored on foot, took many photos, and I climbed to the highest open level of one of the watchtowers. Next we visited the Muslim quarter of Xi'an, including the bazaar and the Great Mosque, successfully avoiding pickpockets that were known to frequent the area, and stopping briefly so that Akemi could purchase an amazing cotton candy shaped into a multicolored flower. The street shops and walking street (but with many moped drivers) are charming and lively. More shopping by the others at Minsun shopping mall mostly for mens clothing and candy and snacks. Back to the bus at sunset we passed the south gate while a parade of some sort was in progress. 12-course Chinese dumplings dinner feast plus about eight additional dishes at Shannxi Sunshine Beauty City Grand Theater where we oddly had the floor to ourselves and where we caught glimpses and got a few photos with costumed performers. (We did not visit the show.) Back in the bus for return to the hotel. Lately we have been fascinated with the accident-impending driving conventions and are amazed that we have not yet witnessed a street accident, injury, or death, though we seemingly have come close to doing so a few times, especially because of the rain. To bed. Weather today was about 85 degrees Fahrenheit with scattered showers. Number of steps walked = 17,278. At some point today I observed a local taking a photo of a QR code—fascinating.
Tour day 7 of 15: a travel day. Xi'an with Harry, then Chengdu with Jack. Breakfast buffet at Sheraton Xian North City. Packed. We visited the Wild Goose Pagoda, which was unfortunately surrounded by scaffolding that ruined its picturesqueness. A light rain fell occasionally. Rob, Akemi, and Jeremy paid to climb to the top. The view from the highest point they were permitted was mostly obscured by the scaffolding. Lunch at China Folk's Restaurant, another Chinese food feast in a private room in an elegant restaurant in a shopping mall. This restaurant had some dishes that are particular to Qin dynasty cuisine. Rode in the bus to the airport to fly to Chengdu. Weather before leaving Xi'an was 72 degrees Fahrenheit and rainy. Along the way we saw a few strange store signs: Topfeeling, and Birdbath Mutton (which was probably referring to hot pot because of the hotpot's shape). We passed through security check. Air China evening flight 8925 from Xi'an (XIY) to Chengdu (CTU). We were served a small bottled water and a chicken bun. Weather after arriving at Chengdu was about 75 degrees Fahrenheit and overcast with scattered light showers. Our guide for Chengdu, Jack, met us. We drove about 45 minutes to our hotel, Sofitel Taihe Chengdu. While turning left into the Sofitel driveway our bus nearly accidentally hit a rider of a scooter. Our rooms were split between the 8th and 9th floors. Floor 8 is a smoking floor, Floor 9 is a nonsmoking floor. Dad, Dex, Jeremy, and I got smoking rooms, which was very unpleasant for me because the hallway and our room had very strong cigarette smoke odors. (The hotel was out of non-smoking rooms.) It was odd seeing ash trays in the elevator lobby and on the desk in the hotel room. Lani stayed with Dad in the room he shared with Dex while the rest of us went searching on foot for a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), tired of having Chinese food every lunch and dinner for the past 6 days. We missed a turn but did not get too far off track and discovered brightly lit buildings and streets filled with activity: small shops and large shopping malls, street food. Many of the buildings are very colorfully lit like a less flashy version of Las Vegas buildings. Chengdu seems to have a lot more pet dogs than Xi'an and Beijing. At KFC it took a long time for us to order, and we relied somewhat on Kiana and Akemi to translate the menu choices. 120 yuan bought us a surprisingly small amount of food, and we ended up placing two more separate orders because we were still hungry. KFC was out of a lot of items because it was near closing. Afterwards we returned by foot to the hotel by a slightly faster route. To bed. Number of steps walked = 10,712.
Tour day 8 of 15. Chengdu with Jack. Weather was 89 degrees Fahrenheit and mostly sunny. Breakfast buffet at Sofitel Taihe Chengdu. Highlights include noodles with minced pork and baby bok choy, sesame green tea cake (crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside), milkshakes, and yogurt shots. We drove in the bus about 30 minutes to visit the Chengdu Panda Reserve. On the way we learned from Jack that last night one panda gave birth to twins, one male and one female. We also learned that Chengdu is less expensive and has a lazier culture than surrounding big cities. As a leading agricultural region for the country, it is considered the fruit basket of China. People in Chengdu love to play mah johngg for money. Although today's high was forecast as 89, at the reserve we found the weather comfortable; it felt like the high 70s in the shade and the low 80s in the sun. We waited mostly in shade in a long queue to ride a tram to the park's highest point, walking downhill throughout the day visiting various sights before returning to the entrance-exit. During our time in the reserve, we saw four young pandas, one momentarily stuck in a small tree before being assisted out, and several newborn pandas. There was a very long line to see another newborn panda. Since Jack said it would be similar to the newborns we had just seen and since the line was so long, we skipped this one. Douglas Coupland once wrote that you are never far from the sound of an engine. In China, I realized, you are never far from the smell of cigarettes. I'm not sure if this was coincidence or not, but after emerging from the restroom I discovered in the restroom lobby a video showing pandas urinating while Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" plays on speakers. We visited the red panda pen (my notes say vegetarian raccoons but I don't remember why), then another enclosure but nothing to see, then another giant panda. The pandas are sometimes so far away it's hard to tell where they are in the pen or what they're doing. I have a strange idea for one of the pens to contain someone in a panda costume who initially pretends to be a panda, but at the right moment of a swell of music coming magically from somewhere he or she begins dancing and suddenly persons in panda costumes come out from everywhere and dance to music like a Broadway show. They perform for a while then disappear after the song ends, leaving just the one panda originally in the pen. Today is the first time I've ever seen a woman talking on a phone still attached to selfie stick. I learned how to say wow in Chinese. It's kind of like a drawn-out whuoaaaaa. We visited a very small cinema describing panda research and mating habits. We stopped briefly at a lake with black swans and koi. We ate another Chinese food lunch in the onsite restaurant. The meal included a plate of french fries—so nice after so much Chinese food. The ceiling had a panda paw and the table had a panda face and the columns resembled giant bamboo stalks and the stairway and upper level was decorated with pandas. Other highlights of the meal include beef stew with (fava?) beans, and kung pao chicken. Walked through the rest of the reserve back to the entrance-exit. After departing the Panda Reserve, we drove 45 minutes to the city center while I napped with earplugs. At People's Park we observed locals singing and dancing in some of the public performance spaces in 90-degree Fahrenheit heat while observing the maximum 80 dB noise ordinance. In one, an orchestra played a Chinese army song (Long Live Chairman Mao) and women danced in a circle and sang. We observed traditions in matchmaking whereby info about matchees is printed on paper sheets and placed along the path's edge for people to read. We visited Heming (Son of Crane) Tea House, an old tea house popular for playing card games and mah johngg and for ear cleanings. We observed a master painter. We drank tea at a pair of small tables with umbrellas. The tea cups don't have handles. All the trees seem to have cicadas. The kids watched a group of women play mah johngg then bought sugar art on a stick. We visited the adjacent amusement park, and some of the kids rode the elevated pedal cars. Lani, Rob, Akemi, and Jack rode the bumper cars. Other rides include multiple kinds of spin rides, a train, a 4D space simulation, a merry go round, a tilt a whirl, skee ball, and a play room. We rode in the bus about 10 minutes to an alleyways area. We walked wide and narrow pedestrian alleys filled with shops. I got gelato from Köko Casa Gelato (lemon and mint candy floss: 28 yuan) while others bought thousand-thread candy. Jack has never heard of Panda Express. I learn how to say ice water in Chinese: bing shui (bing shway). We dine at a nearby restaurant. A highlight was the sizzling rice with chicken and vegetables. Bus ride to the hotel. Again we have a close call turning left into the Sofitel driveway. I took a quick shower, then met Lani, Rob, and Jack to visit a performance of Chinese opera and other arts at Shu Feng Ya Yun. (The others did not want to go.) Included was a 15-minute shoulder, neck, head, and arm massage (or the other choice which was ear cleaning which we all declined); small snacks; and tea. The performance included a Chinese orchestra, a Sichuan opera, a performance in which a woman created animations from shadows of her hands and body (shadow theatre), gymnastics, and the famous face changing performance in which multiple performers' faces (which were actually masks with faces on them) instantly change to different other faces (masks) multiple times. During the performances I wore earplugs since I knew it would be too loud for me. With the earplugs, I enjoyed it very much. And I know how the face changing works but will not reveal the secret here. Jack drove us to and from the performance in his own car. We notice city workers completing roadside painting at 10 pm, and Jack says it's likely due to the forthcoming G20 conference. We have a 7:40 am flight tomorrow. To bed. Number of steps walked = 15,955.
Tour day 9 of 15. Chengdu with Jack. Weather was 70 degrees Fahrenheit and mostly sunny (high of 90). Wake-up call at 4:15 am. Rode to the airport with hotel box lunches: a donut, two danishes, a croissant, two hard-boiled eggs, bottled water. 7:25 am Air China flight 4323 from Chengdu (CTU) to Guilin (KWL). Weather after arrival was 86 degrees Fahrenheit, very humid, and mostly cloudy. Our guide Vincent and driver Mr. Wong met us, and we rode in the bus to the city center. On the drive, we learned that Guilin at half a million persons is in China considered a small town, not a city and that in Guilin people like to cook with beer; beer duck is a notable dish. Tourism and agriculture are the top economies here. We passed limestone hills and caves formed from water. We learned that some people here use tea oil for cooking. I saw a woman driving a moped while carrying a kitchen sink. Since we had an early morning flight and arrived before hotel checkout time, Vincent learned by telephone that our rooms were not yet ready. We alighted the bus and walked along a charming path that had shops on one side and a lake on the other. (I believe this was called Rong Lake and/or Elephant Hill Scenic Area.) We passed an 800-year-old banyan tree, the South City Gate, and the Sun and Moon Pagoda, representing yin and yang. At the hotel Vincent checked us in. Even as we approached our rooms we found that they were still not ready, but housekeeping finished after about 20 minutes. We unpacked some, then met downstairs for a short walk to Handsome Dragon Restaurant for lunch. Highlights include pomelo leaf tisane, deep-fried taro balls coated with a hard sugar coating served with cold and room temperature water for dipping and spinach, pork spare ribs coated with millet, deep-fried carp with ketchup. After lunch we drove to a tea plantation that was formerly a royal garden. We learned how to pick and prepare tea, which was followed by a tea tasting and shopping in the gift shop. We picked our own first- and second-class green tea leaves from live plants and wore traditional tea hats. We returned to the hotel. We had some free time, so I napped while the kids played and watched Korean comedies on television. We walked Renmin Road to dinner at Left Bank Restaurant. Highlights include beef with vegetables on a portable burner, chow mein but with rice noodle instead of wheat noodle, and red bean peach buns. Afterwards we strolled to the hotel while casually shopping. Weather in the evening was 84 degrees Fahrenheit, very humid, and mostly clear. Number of steps walked = 10,988.
Tour day 10 of 15. Guilin with Vincent. Breakfast buffet at Sheraton Guilin. Highlights include gimlin rice noodle soup, various kinds of dim sum including ones decorated to resemble pigs, and a tree of western, frosted donuts. Rode in the bus 2.5 hours across the mountains. We alighted, then boarded a very well air-conditioned shuttle bus and rode another 40 minutes to reach the base of the climb to visit the Ping An Terrace Fields. We hired two men to carry Dad the entire climb up and down in a comfortable bamboo chariot. About two-thirds of the way to the top we lunched at Ping An Guest House. The highlights of the lunch were that the meal was entirely organic and also that we had one dish called bamboo rice, which was sticky rice with vegetables cooked in a bamboo tube over fire. The weather was very good—warm but not too hot, and fully overcast, providing beautifully diffused lighting for our many photos. There was a chance of rain all day, and although we encountered some rain while driving to and from we did not get wet on our strenuous hike. At the end of our hike the Health app on my iPhone 6 Plus said I climbed 62 floors, or approximately 620 feet. A long drive back to the city. We returned to Left Bank Restaurant for dinner, which included pumpkin soup, deep-fried eggplant, and lemon chicken. Afterwards we were on our own. We got soft-serve ice cream then split up to explore the shops along Zhengyang Pedestrian Street and Renmin Road. I visited Cabeen Lifestyle, KIKC, got soft-serve ice cream again, then returned to the hotel to pack. On television Jeremy found Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom with dialogue in Mandarin, which we watched and I thoroughly enjoyed. To bed. Weather in the evening felt like 90 degrees Fahrenheit, very humid, and mostly cloudy. Number of steps walked = 14,991.
Tour day 11 of 15: a travel day. Guilin with Vincent, then Shanghai with Tony. Breakfast buffet at Sheraton Guilin. We took a Li River cruise from Mopan Shan wharf to Yang Shuo county. Highlights aside from the water-sculpted mountain landscapes include comerant fishermen, water buffalo, and tree terraces (pomelo, kumquat, tea, mandarin orange). We walked through and explored Xijie pedestrian street in Yangshuo. The others stopped for cold refreshments at KFC while Dad waited in a nearby air-conditioned hotel lobby. The bus picked us up after a short walk to meet it in a bus-accessible area. We rode in the bus to visit the 300-year-old home of Mr. Pan, then on the return to Guilin a brief stop at Dashi Zhai bridge in Xiatang Village to photograph a picturesque setting of visitors rafting down the Yulong River, then on to the airport. Dinner at a restaurant in the airport. Highlights include beer fish (be careful of the small bones) and egg drop and tomato soup. We passed through security check. China Eastern flight 9370 from Guilin (KWL) to Shanghai Pu Dong (PVG). Our flight was delayed about 40 minutes due to weather. While waiting, some of us walked the length of the airport terminal, Jeremy in search of a hamburger, and me in search of respite from the multiple, wordy, and nearly identical announcements that notified people of the many flights that were delayed due to weather. Some of us then purchased snacks at Each Burger: chocolate soft-serve ice cream in a rather stale paper cone, French fries. Jeremy and I continued watching Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom on my iPad Pro (but in English), picking up from where we left off last night (following the bug tunnel and trap). Weather before leaving Guilin was 93 degrees Fahrenheit, very humid, and scattered clouds. Snack served during the flight: a slightly sweet, mostly-sesame-seed-covered bun filled with vanilla custard; water. The bun was served in a cellophane package that was pumped full of air and resembled a pillow. (For a few seconds several of us laughingly pretended to use it as a head pillow.) The snack box also contained a Nestle chocolate wafer candy and some butter biscuits. Kiana additionally received a special order of three tiny slices of garlic bread due to her allergies. Our Shanghai guide Tony and our driver (I didn't get his name) met us at the airport. We boarded the bus at 12:12 am and drove 54 minutes to arrive at the InterContinental Shanghai at 1:06 am. To bed. Number of steps walked = 11,865. The InterContinental Shanghai had the best wifi of all the hotels on our trip—5 Mbps up and down—and the best toilet: Toto, fully automatic with a motion sensor to automatically open the lid. Controls exist to open and close both the lid and the seat by touching only the controls.
Tour day 12 of 15. Shanghai with Tony. Weather at the start of today was 81 degrees Fahrenheit and scattered light showers, the forecast high was 90 and thunderstorms. On my way to the breakfast buffet at InterContinental Shanghai I took photos of the lobby areas. InterContinental Shanghai is truly a luxury hotel. In the lobby you can find excellent contemporary and ancient art, a live modern koi pond, a grand piano, silver nugget sculptures, stunning chandeliers, gigantic marble columns. Everywhere I look is luxurious, and I have to snap a photo every couple of steps and turns. At the buffet, because of a labelled item, I learn only now what Yangzhou fried rice is even though I have eaten it at various times since childhood. Jeremy and I watched field hockey on the television in the dining area. Highlights of the buffet include matcha muffin and cake, sesame black scallion cake, especially crisp hash browns, cinnamon brown sugar french toast, dried kiwi (as a topping for anything). As we rode in the bus, Tony told us that in Shanghai good advice for nearly everything is to drink more water. He pointed out the nearest grocery and convenience store and mentioned that Starbucks is everywhere. We passed the nearest McDonald's. An occasional light rain started to fall. He pointed out old homes that we had passed and explained how tap water faucets have either differently keyed fittings or they are locked so that individual units are metered correctly. He explained a Chinese saying that says a bed in the west is better than a house in the east. We passed a group of tall buildings all built after 2000. Tony mentioned that an urban planning museum exists here (but it is not on our agenda). Tony pointed out the Park Hotel, built in 1928, and which was the first hotel in the city with a revolving door. We passed through the Pu River Tunnel. Arriving at the Jin Mao Tower (aka J-Life), we saw across the street Shanghai Tower. We visited the 88th floor of the 1998 Jin Mao Tower. Jin Mao means golden prosperity. We took many photos of the terrific view, and there was also a harrowing view down the center of the tower to the ground floor. In the bus again. I learned that in Chinese nai means I'm still... or originally is... and that chung means middle or central or China. We lunched at Xian Qiang Fang aka Yong An Restaurant in the Yong An Building and shopping mall. The restaurant is richly and elaborately decorated in an old-school style reminiscent of 1930s Shanghai; I took many photos. Highlights of the meal include breaded fish with lemon sauce, lion's head meatballs, hot and sour soup, highball drinking glasses that are circular at the top and oval on the bottom, the background elevator music playlist with only one song, Budweiser, and, for dessert, sliced jicama, watermelon, and melon. In the bus we drove to Shanghai Museum, spending too little time—less than 2 hours. I rented and enjoyed using an audio device providing English descriptions of some of the items. We met on the floor 1 lobby at 3:15 pm then drove in the bus to the former French Concession aka Xin Tian Di aka Xintiandi aka XTD. Tony explained that this area was developed by the French after the 1843 opium war when Shanghai became a free port. I bought a green tea frappuccino at Starbucks. They lost my order so I had to wait a long time before I received it with an apology. We drove to the Bund, spending about 40 minutes observing the view. Back in the bus to a Chinese food dinner feast at Yuxin Sichuan Dish Restaurant. Highlights include tea-smoked duck (camphor tree aka zhāng) with buns, sauce, and trimmings; sauteed cauliflower with smoked pork on a hot burner; dandan noodles; sticky rice soup; garlic-herbed potato chips; black pepper beef; king oyster mushrooms; sweet and sour pork with honey melon. In the bus we drove to Shanghai Center and the Ritz-Carlton for a terrific performance of ballet-influenced acrobatics, magic, and other amusing misdirections. Weather at the end of today was 86 degrees Fahrenheit and clear. To bed.
Tour day 13 of 15. Shanghai with Tony. Breakfast buffet at InterContinental Shanghai. Dad wasn't feeling well in the night so he chose to stay at the hotel today, comfortable with being on his own. From the buffet we got him white bread and water and gave him care instructions: drink a little water every 10 minutes, eat white bread when possible, do not sleep for long stretches so that you can drink water. If he gets bored he says he has his crossword puzzles. At 8:30 am we boarded the bus for a two-hour drive to Suzhou to visit Tongli town, a town with scenic canals. Weather today is a high of 95 degrees Fahrenheit, partly cloudy, no rain. Along the way we passed a fire adjacent to the roadway, and we guessed that it was trash. At one of the toll booths we encountered a delay of unusual cause; the car ahead of us was stuck for several minutes. We continued. Many toll booths along the drive.
Tour day 14 of 15. On our last day on the China trip tour we were on our own. I chose to visit Super Brand shopping mall. I ordered a cab via the hotel concierge and arrived 40 minutes later for 31 rmb + 1 rmb tip. At 3:30 I ordered a tall hot black tea latte. At 3:58 I found Tsui Wah restaurant and ordered fried noodles with vegetables and hot oolong tea. I walked the entire mall and bought nothing. At 7:00 pm I found a taxi stand and boarded a taxi with driver 244178.
Tour day 15 of 15. Rode in the van to the airport. Passed through security. Shopped in the terminal. Drank a cold tea, bought candy. Boarding time for our flight was 2 pm. On the flight the meal was rice with beef meatballs, dinner roll, couscous salad, hot tea (english breakfast). On the plane I watched The Jungle Book, Ant-Man, The Mentalist, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Nap. Dinner at home with Patrick: split peas and steamed white rice.
Had trouble sleeping at night due to jetlag. Breakfast: chunky soup, then a little later Kashi Island Vanilla whole wheat cereal with whole milk. Canceled social activities I had planned for this weekend. Had trouble staying awake during the day due to jetlag. Long nap. Dinner at home with Patrick: serrano pepper and goat cheese burgers with zucchini-cilantro slaw (but no serrano peppers for me), throat coat tisane for me, red wine for Patrick. Watched Deadpool on Netflix DVD with Patrick and popcorn, loved it.
Had trouble sleeping due to jetlag. Breakfast: one nectarine, one pink lady apple, throat coat tisane, chicken noodle soup. Installed iOS 9.3.3 on my iPhone and iPad. Unpacked. Lunch: I prepared chicken tenders and french fries with three dipping sauces: bbq, ranch, ketchup. Nap. Dinner at home with Patrick: sweet corn and tinkerbell pepper pizza with fontina cheese and baby kale, throat coat tisane for me, white wine for Patrick. Watched Deadpool extras and promos on YouTube. Recharge Medical work for Drew: built ID badge designs, sent one to him for review. Late snack: tortilla chips, watermelon seltzer from a can.
Rode Uber to a doctor appointment. Did some shopping in the Fillmore. Lunch at The Grove: chinese chicken salad with toast, san pell: about $20. Rode Lyft Line home. Snack: leftover pizza slice, carrot juice, lemon ginger green tea. Cut my hair, showered. Made plans for the forthcoming Vancouver BC vacation. Folded laundry. Dinner at home with Patrick: lemon chicken and green beans with parmesan-roasted summer squash and potatoes, white wine. Dessert: pralines and cream ice cream. Reviewed more China photos with Patrick.
Breakfast on the way to work: two apples. Rode Muni to UCSF Parnassus. UCSF shuttle from Parnassus to Laurel Heights. Along the way I continued studying Spanish on Duolingo. First day at work after China trip. Caught up on email, installed various updates for my iMac and MacBook Air. Had 226 email messages at the start of the day, 16 at the end. Not bad. Listserv management: residency programs. Lunch: california roll with tobiko from The View Cafe. UCSF shuttle from Laurel Heights to Parnassus. Rode Muni home. Dinner at home with Patrick: tandoori-spiced fried rice with chicken, carrots, and peas; side of steamed white rice; white wine. Late snack: corn off the cob from frozen with salt and pepper.
Stumptown coffee (Holler Mountain) via Bialetti. Breakfast on the way to work: two apples. Rode Muni to UCSF Parnassus. UCSF shuttle from Parnassus to Laurel Heights. Along the way I continued studying Spanish on Duolingo. Sprint standup. Listserv management: residency programs. Lots of email followup. Sitebuilding: ACDRS. No lunch. UCSF shuttle from Laurel Heights to Parnassus. Continued studying Spanish on Duolingo. Rode Muni home. Dinner at home with Patrick: Green Chef spanish egg 'n' hash. Our first Green Chef meal is tasty and as advertised. Packaging is somewhat more environmentally friendly than Blue Apron, portions are large, ingredients are organic. Red wine. Finished reviewing China trip photos with Patrick.
Breakfast on the way to work: two apples. Rode Muni to UCSF Parnassus. UCSF shuttle from Parnassus to Laurel Heights. Microsites and websites followup: ACDRS, Peter A. Updated the class years cheat sheet, distributed it to OSACA and OEIS. Sent the new phone list cheat sheet to Cindy for review. OSACA staff meeting. Lunch to go from Panda Express: panda bowl with chow mein and orange chicken. My fortune: Fortunate for all that you have taught me; #ShareGoodFortune. 1-on-1 with Cindy. Surprise visit from Vicky who seems really happy about teaching again. It was great to see her. Helped Lucia resolve a problem with encrypted usb drives; it seems that two of them are defective. Ran an errand. Doctor appointment. Rode Lyft Line home. Dinner at home with Patrick: Green Chef bbq cauliflower "wings", red wine for him, san pell for both. Packed for my forthcoming Vancouver, BC vacation. Late snack: english muffin mini pizza with grated cheese topped with leftover hash, 6 ounces of carrot juice.
Rode UberX to SFO domestic terminal 3. United Air Canada flight. Beverages: orange juice and water. During the flight I discovered I still had a small canister of mace in my bag and SFO TSA had not caught or confiscated it. I reported the issue at Canada customs where they took it from me. Light rail to Yaletown: 8.15 Canadian dollars (CAD). Walked to Best Western Granville (1100 Granville Street). I presumed incorrectly that I was too early to check in, then thankfully and immediately got a room on the 14th floor. The room is small and very nice. The view north is mostly of home skyscrapers. Brondell Japanese toilet seat, in-room Keurig, complimentary chocolate square on the bed, and Speakman Rainstream shower fixtures are some of the nicer touches in the room. I had realized during the flight that I had forgotten to pack a charger and cable for my iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Pro, but luckily the front desk happened to have one I could borrow at no charge for the duration of my stay. Wifi is 15 Mbps down, 1 up, which I feel is better than most hotels. Each room has its own wifi access point and probably unique password, so I feel the wifi is relatively more secure than hotels where this is not the case. I rested, refreshed, unpacked, ironed the button-up shirts I had brought, checked in with others, and made plans for the rest of the day. Got excellent info from the front desk. Walked to Coast Capital savings and credit union to withdraw Canadian cash. Walked to and tried to eat at Kaboom Box but found they had just closed in order to attend a different event later that day. Instead I ate from a food truck called Manga Kiss: beef kebab wrap and two orders of watermelon juice: about 20 CAD. Bought some toiletries at London Drugs on Granville Street. Clothes shopping downtown: Hudson's Bay (aka The Bay) including Topman, Swimco, Holt Renfrew, Nordstrom, Boys'co. Of these, Hudson's Bay had the biggest sale—half off lots of Topman items, Holt Renfrew had the fewest swimsuits (I believe it was a total of eight all from the same designer), and Boys'co had the most interesting collection which included things like a puzzle piece tie and a camouflage bow tie—interesting but not my style. Everywhere I was trying to find Orlebar Brown swimsuits but no one had them in the store. (Some stores carried them but only online.) At The Bay I discovered but did not buy beautiful lapel flowers from Hook and Albert. At Holt Renfrew I discovered but did not buy the fetching Thom Browne dog bag in black leather (3325 CAD) and red-white-blue leather. I was also looking for Scotch & Soda items and found them particularly at Boys'co. A salesperson at Nordstrom notified me about the new flagship Scotch & Soda in Richmond Center. Dinner at House Special with Allen, Brian, Tadija, and Tony. Afterwards Brian left the group, Tadija went home to do some work/study, and Allen, Tony, and I got gelato at a nearby gelateria. I chose tiramisu. We hung out in Tony's new second home, a small condo on Homer Street in the same building as Clara's. Others joined as the evening progressed: Markus, Clara, RJ. The gathering was unplanned, and Tony gave me a sippy cup after I accidentally spilled a little of my drink (San Pellegrino Aranciata with SKYY vodka). Walked home probably late. Today was Canada Day, and we found that some smaller shops were closed because of it.
Slept in. Lunch at a Japadog cart: terimayo (#1), iced tea from a can. Walked along Robson then Denman then Davie, occasionally shopping. Bought Okanagan cherries. Returned to the hotel room. Refreshed, rested. Tony and Tadija's housewarming party. Met oth roong clara maggie tim and others. At one point I counted 26 persons in his tiny second home. Left the party to watch the fireworks competition, found a place between the barge and the platform above the restrooms that had one of the large speakers playing the synchronized music. Today it's Disney's performance. It was a good performance, but I was expecting a bit more from Disney. One man in the crowd wore an interesting Rolling Stones LED shirt that animated the tongue sticking out and in repeatedly. On the way home I stopped at Safeway and bought a Chinese chicken salad from the deli section, intending to eat it when I got to the hotel. However, a few doors away from the hotel I found a place selling pizza slices, and it smelled so good I got a veggie slice to go and ate that in my room instead with water. The salad went in the fridge. To bed.
Not long after waking I found out on my phone that Justin Trudeau announced that he will march in today's pride parade. He's the first prime minister to do so in Vancouver Pride. Tony and some others chose to get dim sum, but I really wanted to see Trudeau, so for breakfast I quickly ate last night's salad with some tap water and headed out. I found a spot and watched the parade for about 20 or 30 minutes and then he appeared—not just himself but seemingly his whole family. Such cheer! At the parade I met Shaun who sat nearby with a group of friends. I watched for some time more—maybe an hour then walked around. A nearby church had a table with free lemonade, which I gladly accepted. Continuing on I stopped at Starbucks for a turkey panini and mocha, resting for some time. I continued to the Harbour Cruises dock to meet Tony, Tadija, and others for the CruiseyT GoGo Pride Cruise: markus oth amos tim pierre (ketchy?) David ian. Afterwards David gave me a ride to my hotel along with Oth and Pierre who were getting dropped off elsewhere. To bed.