Sun Rise Observation in Shanghai

From WolframAlpha, I know today, the sun rises at 5:08 AM. So I waked up earlier, and put myself to the top of my 18-story building, and wait for the sun rise. We are used to observe sun rise or sun set at sea, or on top of mountain, and now, observe it from on of the top floors of a skyscraper in Shanghai provides a nice alternative.

I am actually amazed by how accurate the prediction is (well, it is not weather, and for sure people can predict it). When I am going to the take the photo below, my alarm clock set at 5:08 started to ring.

You see the sun coming out a little bit to about 1/3 above the ground.

 

The whole sun comes out of the horizon.

Immediately after the sun rise, the big Pudong area shows up.

Finally, 1 hours later, it is the starting of another beautiful day.

 

Drawing of Churches in Italy

Inspired by Allen de Botton in Art of Travel, I started to draw some pictures along the way. The key is not the result of the drawing (who cares if I burn it afterward), it is about the process to spend time to appreciate what is before you. You spend half an hour really focus on the object before you and observe!

Here are some of them, with my note.

San Geremia, Venezia

This is a very unique church near our hotel in Venezia, Italy. The light comes from the west (right side). This is, maybe, my first drawing of observing the sun direction. The drawing is not quite finished yet.

Basilica of San Lorenzo, Firenze

This is another church. Is there anything outside churches in Europe? It is San Lorenzo Basilica in Firenze. The view, as you can see from this photo, is from the top of Firenze Duomo.

San Simeone Piccolo, Venezia

This is the third church, the one you see in your first sight after get out of the train station. A typical church – clean lines, and low key.

The Logical Sequence

The reason I grouped all the church drawing together, despite of its location, is to try to restore the logical sequence of travel. The problem (and opportunity) of travel is, it brings everything to you with no particular sequence, and as traveler, we can only comprehend a very small portion of it. It is just like a non-tech guy air dropped into computer history museum, or an non-art guy appear in the middle of Uffizi Gallery. The geographic sequence is the main sequence we travel. However, if there is anyway to link the pearls as a necklace does, it is more beautiful, and more meaningful. So I try to put churches together, no matter it is from Roma, Firenze, or Venezia.

To have that logic sequence in mind, we can also explore much wiser and more fulfilling.

Italian Humorous Traffic Signs

Italian are born to be humorous. In many cities I visited, the traffic signs were changed a little bit. You can see the creativity of the people there. Unlike graffiti, I feel this modification of public property is humorous, decent, and not offensive. It even can be designed as standard signs to demonstrate the characters of the country. Enjoy some of them.

Below: Smiling Pedestrian This Way.

Below: Leonardo da Vinci not Allowed

Below: Heart Broken Road on the Left. 

Below: STOP! I am Working Hard!

Angels Turn Right; Devils Go Ahead!

Signs like this are spread out all cross the country, from Milano to Roma.

Surrounded by the Crazy to be Normal

I don’t say we cannot fight against the crowd, but it is really hard and cost a lot of energy. In the Silicon Valley, when you meet those technical guys, the investors, and entrepreneurs, you are surprised to see how crazy they are:

  1. They use the new technology that you never heard of.
  2. You rush to production and change the server architect, and rewrite the code like crazy.
  3. They gather and talk about something that people in other places never heard of
  4. They have some ideas that is so advanced that people in the valley does not use.
  5. They said “This is broken”, “That is broken”, so they want to fix the education system, they want to fix the car industry, and they want to fix a lot of things.
  6. They spend the money to invest in something that has no revenue at all, and think it can change world.

The list goes on and on and on.

Every community/city/country has its norms, and you don’t want to be too outlined. In the valley, there are so many crazy people gathering, and you just feel it is the norm.

I wrote an article on Weibo “They Said…” (Chinese) by Lu Chunqing. A very nice article. She mentioned the pressure from “They said…” in mainland China. People tell you to be stable, to get a good job, and to marry quickly… The general opinion from the public just gradually change people, until they become different.

Paul Graham also observed that every fifteen century Italian painters come from Florence. I would argue currently, most of the world famous Internet and software gaint come from the valley. Why?

If we cannot change the world (well, we can but we need to hurry before they change us), we can decide which world we live in.

P.S. Just check what other bloggers are writing about, especially those you greatly admire (like Paul Graham‘s for me), and count who they talk with and who their friends are, and you get some idea. Paul’s blog often opens as “I was talking recently to a friend who teaches at MIT.” as in this article: Taste for Makers. Surround by people you really care, and enjoyed meeting with.

 

My Rome

Roma (or Rome) is definitely considered as one of the most beautiful cities. I was excited to spent a quick 24 hours in the city, with about half in Via Dei Condotti shopping street with the girls.

Sitting back in my reading room, and recall what I saw in Roma, and how I feel about it, I started to get stuck. I stayed in a hotel (Mercure) in the northeast side of the city near Plaza Bologna. I visited some famous places like Vatican, Trevi Foundation, Plaza Venezia, Colosseo, or Spagna steps. It was totally an eye pleasure trip, but I still feel there is a wall between me and the city. On the other side, the great meal with local Brother Xiaoyou near Santa Crocs Gerusalemme, and the ice cream fighting in the 100-year old ice cream shop seems more vivid to me, when we barely had consciousness after some nice wine. Why sight seeing is the critical part of the trip but memories with people are another big (if not bigger part)? What is the difference?

In planning the next trip, I would add more element of people interaction. Sometimes to put it with the local attraction as a good background or stage, but interaction, especially with the local, can greatly lift the experience.

In all the Italian cities, I automatically fell in love with Rome. Comparing the limited cities I briefly visited, the city I enjoy least was Venezia, a tourist city, followed by Milano, and Firenze. I felt Roma is more like Beijing, and Milano is more like Shanghai (no wonder Shanghai and Milano recognise each other as sister city in 1979.) There is a long history of both, but just like people joke of Milano when comparing it to Firenze, that Leonardo started in Milano and finally got his peak at Firenze, as many other artist during the Renascence.

A side note here: it is always easy to comment from outsider. Roma and Milano are equally close to me as a tourist, so I can comment a lot, but when the topic is Beijing vs Shanghai, I cannot make an easy decision to move to Beijing or Silicon Valley easily considering all the cost. That is ironic.

Rome is the last stop of my trip to Italy. Wendy and the rest of the team will continue their journey to Paris, and Naples. There is  a quick sense of sadness when I said goodbye to Wendy and wrapped my luggage in hotel in the morning of July 1, 2012, and then headed to Roma Fiumicino – Leonardo da Vinci Airport, alone. (Note: That is what travel brings us. Just as drama SHOWS us what the life can be, travel put us into the shoes of the actors, and CREATES some scene like this for us to experience: The excitement of arrival, and the sadness of separation).

Why a Week in Travel Feels Good

The question is, why I feel happier during one week of travel. I dig into it and get the following thoughts.
  1. One week, one goal. If the board meeting is OK, the week is OK. Others are just nice to have. What a wonderful week!
  2. One week, everything taken care of. No electricity bills, no broken washing machines, or air/con, or what so ever.
  3. Lonely time. If you choose, you are in a city alone, with no one even know what you are doing. Even at a hotel room – the sense of loneliness is just beautiful.
  4. Planning. When you have nothing to do, all you do is to plan and make appointment.
  5. Haiku. There are limited items with you when you travel. No distraction. You even don’t have a glass of your own.

 

Wrap up my Italy Trip

7:18

This is a way belated blog. I have been back from Italy trip for a month, but I barely wrote anything about it. It is the time to do some reflection on the trip, what I saw, what I learnt, about Italy or future trips.

I will create a new category called Italy. My plan is to finish it in one day, today, with all the pictures, and thoughts. I struggled a little bit about how to date the entries, because I typically don’t back date anything. Back dating causes two problems: 1. The entry are very unlikely to be read. 2. That is some small form of dishonest, because that is not the date the post was actually written but reader’s expectation is that. The attempt to back date it is, the whole end of June and early July was empty, and I should fill in the blank with what actually happened during that time for future reference.

Finally, my decisions is, I don’t back date. Being honest about when the event happens is more important.

Hottest Weibo Ever

I wrote a Weibo two hours ago. It reads:

@王建硕看到今天事态发展,相当痛心。大家越界了,严重的越界了,开了个不好的头,不象厦门等地的理智。用暴力获取自己要的东西,会使用暴力上瘾。别人的错误不是自己的错误的理由。目的正确永远不能证明过程的正确。如果用现有的思维继续前行更远,中国可能进入下一个可怕的暴力为王的轮回。转发(3015)|评论(1030)今天 15:02

Literally translation:

@Wang Jian Shuo: Seeing the development of the situation today, felt the pain. We crossed the line, seriously crossed the line, and started a bad beginning, not as restrained as Xiamen. If you use violence to get what you want, you will get addicted to violence. Other party’s wrong deed is not the reason of your own wrong deed. Right goal always cannot prove the rightness of process. If we continue to follow the current thinking too far, China may enter into the next terrible violence-ruled circle.

This was my brief comment about what I saw in Qidong (I may talk about it when I get more confirmed details. To be short, it is a large scale protest against city government’s decision to introduce pollution to the city. There are some violence happened during the protest, like throwing over police cars).

The Weibo was soon retweeted by some of the most popular person, including

@薛蛮子: 理性渐进的改革,良性、和平而非暴力。言路一天天开放,改善是渐进的 //@潘石屹:任何形式的暴力都是社会的倒退和文明的破坏。 //@王冉:理性的坚定才有持久的力量,矛盾越尖锐良性互动越重要。 //@李开复: //@蔡文胜: 理性的声音。

There are 3400 retweet, and 1400 forward so far. Among them, many of them hurled abuse, which I am not unfamiliar with, but I was very impressed that more than half were actually supporting what I said. I didn’t expect that. Thanks. I do mean thanks to people who are supporting the rationality of our actions.

Caught in the Web Movie


Image credit: mtime.com

Chen Kaige’s new movie Caught in the Web is surprisingly good! Wendy and I went to theater yesterday to watch the film. I am deeply shocked by the rare deep thoughts and humorous illustration of the subject. I’d highly recommend everyone to see the movie. It is simply one of the best one I saw in the last few years.

The Theme

The current Chinese society is at a very tricky time if you look at the long history of China. The conflicts from different groups of people, the conflicts between traditional value system to the newly created one, and the deep impact of Internet, new media, social, and mobile – everything is evolving in a much faster pace than any year I have experienced. The confusion of the new generations (well, every new generation is always confused, for few hundred years), the social tension, and understanding, all mixed together to orchestrate a pretty decent scene, for artist, novelist, writers, journalis, directors, and actors to catch, and to illustrate.

Disappointedly, the art circle does not pay the due attention to all the themes of China. Wendy and I went to see another movie, Painted Skin, the other day. Not a bad movie, but it just does not has any connection with the current society. I am not saying all movies needs to be a realistic reflection of the current stuff, but the percentage of the type of movie as Caught in the Web is lower than I think it should. For the director, Chen Kaige, I believe it is more valuable to take movies like this, via The Promise (无极) or Sacrificen (赵氏孤儿).

Besides looking at the reality, and took the courage to face the society, and pin-point the pain of many people, the movie went deep enough and mentioned wide enough aspect of the current Chinese society. Here are some of them I noticed.

Seeing is Believing

I believe this is the core part of the message is delivering. Opening Weibo, or web in general, the Netizen has never been so united and well orchestrated to rely love or hate of a real living person by one photo or video or short 140 description. The power of the web has been release to a new peak (Sir Tim Bernes Lee should be proud, and I just saw him in London Olympic Opening). However, the real story is never fully understood.

The story in the movie is a variation of another well-know story told by Convey in Seven Habits. A father sitting in the subway allowing his two kids to be noisy, and disturbing. Everyone thought he did wrongly, but no one knows his wife, the kids’ mother just passed away one hour ago, and he don’t know how to tell the kids.

By taking part of the story, and dramatically show it to the public, causes deep problems. Although not to give excuses to the wrong behavior, to understand what is behind the wrong behavior makes justice of the society. The movie is pushing everyone to think: What is the story behind the murder? what is the story behind this stealing? What is the story behind the good deed? The mechanism and curiosity of what is behind is widely lacking, and systematically prohibited and removed from the current media. But how about the me-media? What is the responsibility of the twitter or weibo poster’s responsibility besides showing one photo or video clip?

Privacy Concerns

I guess original title of the movie maybe 人肉搜索 (Human Flesh Search), and renamed to 搜索. It is about taking a lead and the crowd contribute, and finally expose all the private information of a person to the Internet. The moral and legal boundary of the action is still controversial, and blur.

The privacy of almost everyone involved (except few) was put online and many of them are not the fact. To expose someone’s privacy is the de factor penalty the netizen can do to a criminal offense, or victim, even without the need of sentence. Although it causes some positive impact considering the current legal system is broken, and it becomes a natural substitution, I believe the hope will still be building the legal system vesus the penalty of the many.

Although I don’t think it is categorically, constitutionally, absolutely wrong in any circumstance to expose one’s private information like national ID, I do believe it is something worth a lot of protection.

Others

The movie also covered a wide range of topics, including:

  • Neutrality of Media
  • Career challenge of an intern
  • PR un-written rules
  • Water Army
  • The other woman 小三
  • The general practice of plant on journalists
  • Discrimination
  • Private communication/recording protection
  • Money vs love dilemma
  • Career fighting in offices
  • Housing price, and hardship of normal people in cities
Many other things, and the moving part is, it is real, and in the characters, we can see the people around us. It brings our eyes to our own world to identify another Ye Lanqiu, or Chen Ruoxi.
Solute to Mr. Chen Kaige, and the team!

Suspicious Equipment on Top of Roof

Let me share something interesting this morning. On top of our 18F residential building, I observed two suspicious equipments. They are suspicious because they tried too hard to look like a typical air-condition outlet. They are obviously not. Look at the front. The hole for the fan, and the grids are all drawn. On the side, they also tried so hard to look like an air-con.

There are two of this pointing to the south east direction.

There are long cables connected to the equipments – pretty thick cables, and when I trace the cables, they go all the way to the elevator’s room, and down to the first floor, and I don’t know where they go.

If you look from downside, you see this box in the bigger box.

Antena for Mobile

My guess is, it is an antena from either China mobile or China Unicom. Why does it tried to hide themselves?

The Conflict: Who Owns a Residential Area

The mobile operators have to install antena to ensure its coverage. With rising concerns about the radiation, many residents rejects the request to put an antena somewhere near them. However, there is no strong enough residential committee yet (or Homeowner’s Association), the rejection is mainly sentiment, not real action. To smooth the anger, many of the new antena hide themselves by trying to appear as something else.

If you really pay attention when walking around in residential areas, you may see many of them. Air-con is one of the most effective one. There are antena trying to mimic a street light pole, or as part of the building (with brick patterns at surface), or even bill boards. It is hard to discover, and the anger goes away. But the problem is, how about radiation, and how about the trust?

I believe I am the very few people in this building to be aware of the installation. Obviously it is not an informed and welcomed action.