Got a Overtime Parking Ticket

How embarrassing!

I got a ticket for overtime parking in Palo Alto downtown today.

I parked the car into the purple zone. Then I visited Tina and have lunch together. It is the first Monday after the Independent Day. We walked to many restaurants from her list one by one, only to find out all them are closed, and one even closed for two weeks!

15 minutes later, we stopped the Palo Alto downtown guided tour and went to the Japanese restaurant to have Sushi. We had wonderful conversation, but jet lag hit me at about 1:30 PM. I could not stay awake, and proposed to have a cup of coffee.

The 2 hours at Coupa Cafe was great. The small road reminded me to Shanghai – some streets in the French concession is exactly the same. If you watch the phoenix trees, and some Chinese girls walking along the street – I just feel that I am in Shanghai.

Then we chatted a lot of things, and enjoyed the “Shanghai” misconception, and the beautiful weather, the sweet to death Cafe Mocha…

But Tina’s question broke all the nice things, and seems to be a stop sign of a nice music: Jian Shuo, where did you park?


1 minute later, we were at the side of my car, and found the ticket was already comfortably lying on the window of the car. Tina regretted that she should have asked and give me permit to display on the window.

Well. My first overtime ticket! I know Randy will be very happy to know that, and say “Welcome to America” to me again.

It is $30. I remember I saw the person enforcing the purple zone 2 hour parking when I left my car. He is using a hand-held scanner to do it.

Sorry for that, and I will pay it the day after tomorrow when I have other meetings in Palo Alto again.

In China, there is no such a thing of zoned parking, and 2 hour enforcement. Need to pay attention the next time. Hmm… How embarrassing it is to have a ticket.

Meanwhile, I know my friends in China are busy moving their cars on to avoid vitual ticket. I got the real one. How embarrasing it is (Have I said I was embarrased before?) Hope my painful experience brings some joy to you.

Why Car Lights in US are Always On

Just one quick question: why people in California always have their car light on even in day time? It seems waste of energy, and pretty annoying. On the rented car, the light switch default to AUTO, but does it mean to shut it down in automatically in sunny California at day time?

BTW, I inherited this habit of forgetting to close the light when I am back to Shanghai (completely manual lights), and Wendy always reminded me about that.

Inspiration is the Key in Silicon Valley

Another exciting day in Sunny silicon valley just ended. I would say every time I visit the Silicon Valley, I just love it more and more. The valley is all about new ideas, inspiration, and thoughts about the future. I chatted with Reid, and Jin, and my friends in the Chinese entreprenure community at lunch (with a side trip to Costco to get the shopping list I got from my friends filled). All of the meetings were very good. In Silicon Valley, what the future looks like really matters for many people, and you can just go ahead to talk about it without getting a strange look (like in Shanghai or Luoyang). With Jin, I got very excited about the future of Smart Grid – the power management system, although it may be 5 years or 10 years from now. It seems to me just like another Internet. This is also my first introductionary talk about clear energy. Not to mention Reid’s wonderful mind – some of the tips are still singing besides my ear now.

It is pretty late (0:25 AM local time) now, and I hope to get to bed quickly, and don’t over sleep tomorrow morning. Good night!

Tax Rate in China is Low?

Just get back from the party. We talked about the tax rate in China, and it gave me the impression that the tax rate in China is low.

Business Tax

5% of revenue as operating tax, and 20% of profit – for an Internet company.

For other type, like the trading cmopany, they do not pay according to revenue – they pay value-add tax.

For certified high-tech company, the tax of the first 3 years will be 0, and half of the tax due in the following two years.

Personal Tax

Basically it is about 20% for most people, and up to 45% for the rich.

Is it high or low?

My 2 cents: I think the problem for today’s tax structure in China is not how high/low the tax is, it is about the government collecting the tax but do not provide the service they should.

Fireworks in Sillicon Valley

Thanks Carroll to inviting me to her wonderful party again. There are very nice conversation going on and great food, and there are fireworks! Look at the wonderful fireworks and view!

Credit: Photo taken by Jian Shuo Wang.

Credit: Photo taken by Jian Shuo Wang

Credit: Photo taken by Jian Shuo Wang

Credit: Photo taken by Jian Shuo Wang

Credit: Photo taken by Jian Shuo Wang

Drawing of Stanfod

I should otherwise be sleeping at hotel, if there were no meeting that afternoon. Since I got to the Stanford anyway, it was nice to hang out for a while and take some pictures, and make some drawings.

Hoover Tower

Stanford has a nice tower – the Hoover Tower:

Credit: Photo by Jian Shuo Wang

I was there on July 2nd, when I just landed from SFO airport. I took several minutes to draw what I saw. It is embarrassingly bad drawing

Hand-drawn by Jian Shuo Wang

Stanford Bookstore

Then I sit down in the Stanford Bookstore to rest a little bit, then I drew another picture of what is inside the Bookstore.

Drawing by Jian Shuo Wang on July 2, 2009

The actual picture is like this. Not exactly the same – I “moved” the shelf at the front, and as any drawing, ignored a lot of details. Anyway, I still think it is a OK drawing.

Credit: Jian Shuo Wang. I hope I didn’t break the rule of no photos – didn’t notice such sign at entrance

Hey. Did anyone say that drawing can cure jet lag?

Just kidding.

Morning America, and Good Night China

It is another sunny morning in bay area. So lovely weather, and I am sitting in my favorite (or OUR favorite?) University Cafe. Interestingly, although I love new travel destinations, I always enjoy have meal or cafe at exactly the same location. So I arranged most of my Palo Alto meetings in the same place: University Cafe, 271 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA. I am enjoying my nice orange juice, and expecting my breakfast:

Breakfast Burrito: eggs, Bacons, Turkey, Breakfast Sausages, Potatoes, Cheddar & Jack Cheese, Side Salsa.

It is so nice to be able to read menu, and know what to expect, the result of my menu learning effort.

Update: This is the final food.

United Airlines is Bad

I wrote United Airlines is Good 7 years ago, when I just started flying to US. On one hand, my expectation was lower than today, and on the other hand, they were much better in the good economy. The trip UA858 leaving PVG on July 2, 2009 for SFO was really bad. However, this time, I was not the same person many years ago, and I started to investigate this company from the business perspective.

Morale Issues

Obviously the morale of the company was hit by the bankruptcy, the job cut, and the recent financing problems. Why I saw this? The attitude of the service attendants have never been so bad.

The guy serving the back rows asked to an elder person to put her baggage to the overhead luggage space: “You only have two choices: put it there, or out of the plane”. Then he opened the cover of the luggage space, and looked at the passenger. The behavior was unbelievable, and many passengers rose and shouted: “How bad the service are!”, “How can you be so mean!”, or “It is YOUR duty to help the passenger!” This alone does not mean a bad morale, just bad customer service, but when I saw the other flight attendants passed by indifferently, and seemed didn’t care about what their peers were doing, that was obviously a company morale issue. Who cares about this “little” things in a sinking boat? I experienced this in eBay China before.

The other thing is the Channel 9. The fewer and fewer time can I listen to the Channel 9 on flight of United Airline flights. Channel 9 is the channel for pilots to communicate with traffic control tower, and United was the first (is it the only one) offering the voice channel to all the passengers. What a great idea, and how ambitious they were to build the best airline when they launched this? Channel 9 worked before 2006 (I remember), and never worked afterwards.

No to mention Channel 9. Even the Channel 1 didn’t work – the audio of movie program. I watched three movies briefly with no audio at all – the only thing from the earphone was noise.

Details? Customer Satisfaction?

Besides the details of customer service, channel 9 (innovation), and channel 1 (basics), there are other things that added up to the bad impression.

Some of the reading light was broken, while the overhead background lights could not be turned off. It lit up for some time, and then went off for some time, and lit up again. The whole flight alternated from light to dark. Only when this happened did I realize that most flight should be completely dark during the night journey. I guess that is the main reason they gave me a apology card, and allowed me to enjoy 10% discount of next flight.

Ironically, the almost broken and shaking movie screen showed something like “Customer Satisfaction is Our Priority”. Actually, United is in big trouble: their satisfaction rate was lowest in DOT

and received 2.6 complains for every 100K passengers and was lowest since 2001. You see, the passengers can feel it.

Business behind it

Now I understand that when customer service has problem, it is not the VP of customer service, or VP of flight attendants or anyone who should be responsible. It was the strategic choices the CEO made.

Actually, customer service is not that important if United wants to be another Southwest Airlines, whose mission is to provide lowest possible fare. United really need to lower the cost of their service. However, that does not mean the attitude issue should not be solved. United was stuck in the middle: they cannot provide service at the same standard as before due to cost constrain, and they cannot lower the cost further to compete with the low cost players in this bad economy. Something must be done to save this company.

Hello from Palo Alto

Just landed. Palo Alto is much nearer than San Jose. This is the first time I stay in Palo Alto. The previous many time, I was always in the San Jose area.

Just landed. Stayed at 3200 El Camino Real – the Super 8 Hotel, a cheap hotel that I stayed once the last time. The United Airline UA 858 flight I just finished was the worst experience I had so far. I may write about it. Even the crew felt that it is so bad that they gave many of us a “Please Accept Out Apology” card, and a series number on it. With the card, I can get 10% off from the next international trip, or $150 certificate…

When I left eBay and started the adventure journey, I know as a company, we have made a decision to be on our own, and the journey of low cost operation. I no longer stay in five star hotels, and no longer fly business class – I said goodbye to my business class seat the last time I flied, and I know, for a very long time, evern when economy allows, to stay low cost is the right thing to do – Bill Gates always fly economy long after Microsoft became the software giant.

The next thing for me to do is to find a PHO restaurant as soon as possible – get the noodle and then sleep.

Update This is noodle house I went to finally.

Bye Bye Shanghai for Few Days

I just packed everything, and a taxi is waiting downstairs to Pudong Airport. I am leaving for San Francisco Airport, and stay in Palo Alto for some days – near the Stanford university, and be back to Shanghai at night of July 10th.

Bye bye Shanghai for a while, and I will be back soon. I don’t expect the trip will interrupt blogging – I will just suffer a little bit of time zone difference, and not sure how to keep the one post per day guideline – so I just post “randomly” when I want to.

Checklist for US Trip

I am heading to US via UA858 tomorrow. As always, I always wait for the last minute to pack up everything. ENFP is not compatible with GTD.

The first US trip made me excited for weeks ahead of it, and now, it becomes another working day. However, my personality type always welcomes difference, and loves something new, not routine, and travel (including business travel) is the most exciting thing.

The improvement this time is, I made a check list of important things:

  1. Passport (verify that the Visa is still valid)
  2. Credit Card (one main and one backup)
  3. 100 USD cash + some changes.
  4. Driver’s License and an English translation (Translation is optional for SFO)
  5. Laptop and chargers
  6. Two mobile phones and chargers
  7. Network cable
  8. My notebook and several pens
  9. My name card
  10. Small gifts

I am on UA858 tomorrow the whole day, and it is again, the longest day in summer, starting from 0:00 AM, June 2, 2009, and ends at 15:00, June 3, 2009 – 39 hours. If I travel in winters, the day will be even longer – 40 hours because of the Day Light Saving.

See you in US.

P.S. In case you haven’t followed this blog long enough, I am flying to San Francisco

P.S.2 Ashish, I really cannot fly to your city. The next time, OK?