Author Archives: Andy

闲游新奥尔良

Day 1
中午12点半的飞机, spirits航空,飞机延误了约40分钟,2点左右到达new orleans机场。机场很破很旧,几乎是我去过的美国最破的机场,看来Katrina之后new orleans就真的一蹶不振。avis租车给了ford edge limited, 黑色真皮,还不错。离开机场,约20多分钟开到酒店The Roosevelt New Orleans (Click here to see hotel review),要在这里住三个晚上。Lobby很漂亮,到处都装饰上灯饰,一进门还有一个古老的很奇特的机械钟,不是钟摆的,而是旋转的。还是通过visa signature luxury hotel订得酒店(click here to see),给了1026房,据说还是升级了的,还送了一瓶香槟酒和巧克力。停车到旁边的self parking garage,$20 for 24 hr。研究功略,决定去Mr. B’s Bistrol(餐厅review)。5点左右离开酒店到旁边的french quarter,到处都是莺歌燕舞的,果然是lousyana。Mr.s B’s Bistrol要5点半才开门,先到处逛逛,看看商店,逛逛广场。走在French Quarter街上,有一霎那似乎感觉到了欧洲。回到bistrol b,我点了招牌菜bbq shrimp, LP点了grilled fish,还有两种gumbo。Gumbo棕色的,有股药材味,太奇葩了。

Day 2
起来在酒店café买早餐,通过visa signature luxury hotel订的酒店,给早餐券是每个大人每天一份面包,一份果汁,一份普通咖啡,也就刚刚够饱,另外(三天总共)给$25餐饮credit,可以在两个餐厅吃(不包括酒店最著名的那个意大利餐厅dominaca什么的)。吃过早餐,出发去西边郊区的oak alley plantation,要开一个小时。New orleans郊外都是沼泽,树长在水里,树上挂着moss。庄园还挺漂亮的,男主人虽然在美国出生,可还是把自己当法国人,说法语,吃法国菜。他的一个儿子后来成为café du mont的老板。给讲解的lady只有一只手臂,另一只因为车祸丧失了。午饭在庄园的餐厅解决。给弟弟买了一个本地特色沼泽动物的tattoo。约4点多回到new orleans市区,逛了下garden district,停车在magazine st的一片商业区下来走走逛逛,在一个cupcake/icecream/macaron点吃了点东西。因为明天就是thanksgiving,商店都早早关门。天黑之后回到canal street,到了riverside mall旁边的hilton酒店里的Drago’s海鲜餐厅吃 (Review),想找路边的停车位找了很就,最后还是停车在酒店garage,餐厅消费给停车$7 off优惠。点了生蚝,招牌碳烧蚝,pasta, jambolaya等。吃完了逛mall,看mississippi河夜景。外面风很大。

Day 3
今天是thanksgiving,旅游点都不开。决定去东边mississippi州和alabama州的海岸看看,有一个gulf island national seashore,据说可以看到alligator,甚至海豚。路上车流并不见少。11点多到达mississippi的一个海边小镇叫做Gulfport, 延绵十几mile都是白沙滩。停车下来玩沙。继续上路,在一个加油站买了吃的当作lunch了。前面经过一个town叫biloxi,有一个大赌场。来到gulf island national seashore的davis bayou区域,visitor center关门了,没有几个游客。四处看看,什么都没有,海湾里啥都没有,只有黄黄的海水。离开到了另一个bayou区域,游客似乎多了几个,有几辆车停在路边,似乎有东西。停好车下来看看,果然水边有一只鳄鱼在休息。离开时已经3点过了,决定不去alabama了,打道回府。回到市区,有parade,绕路饶了很远才回到酒店。走路去french quarter,想去吃的餐厅关门了,改到french market旁边的一家露天餐厅吃,有live music表演,等了好久才上菜。吃完晚饭,又去历史悠久的café du mont吃糖粉donut,喝咖啡。回来顺路参观了一下preservation hall,外面都是排队的人。Boudon街上热闹无比。

Day 4
今天要checkout换到另一个酒店 Sheraton New Orleans (review here),因为the roosevelt今晚要超300刀一晚。在酒店一个餐厅点了早餐吃。行李都搬到车上,开车逛了一个坟场,本地特色是棺材都放在地表上,再在上面修一个小房子。看完了去sheraton酒店想checkin,人多车多,等了好久才进到酒店门前。Valet parking要$47一晚,无异于抢钱。我还是把车停到the roosevelt旁边的garage,才$20。走路走5,6个block回来。她们三已经checkin好,住30楼。是用spg的10000积分换的房间,靠近电梯机房,白天还不觉得,晚上非常吵,简直没法入睡。稍作休息,下楼来到french quarter随便乱逛。看了Jackson广场,mississippi河岸边,french market,最后没地方可去了。去坐有轨电车,到了尽头下来是riverside mall。到mall里逛逛。早早在drago’s吃了晚饭。然后回到mall,在里面的café du mont的分店排队又吃了糖粉donut和咖啡。弟弟在一个专卖糖的店门口撞到头,为了补偿,给他们买了各种古怪形状的糖吃。走路回到酒店,路上风很大。酒店房间靠近电梯房,很吵,一晚上没睡好。

Day 5
酒店没有免费早餐,在房间吃的泡面。Checkout后,开车回到magazine st那家cupcake店买了些bakery,吃icecrema。然后就去机场。在机场买了些吃的。2点半的飞机准时起飞。下飞机后直奔老地方拉面馆解决晚餐,弟弟在车上睡着了,只能轮流进去餐厅吃。

美国儿童的体育运动

我记得我小时候在中国长大的时候很少有什么课外体育运动班,几乎是从来就没有参加过。唯一上过的课外班就是画画课和奥数课。这也许是中国人崇文崇智慧的传统。而美国是一个崇尚力量而不是计谋划策的国家。很自然的,运动是美国人生活中不可缺少的一环节。所谓“从娃娃抓起”,美国小孩从很小便参与各种各样的运动,锻炼身体之余,更多的是培养社交/团队和竞争意识。不然美国人住得分散,各种不同语言,肤色,宗教,经济状况的人都有,除了信教的周末去教堂以外,还真没有太多给孩子的社交活动,可能也正因此美国小孩的autism(自闭症)的比例在发达国家之中也很高。于是很自然,美国人便让小孩通过参与体育运动来恶补社交课。小学生初中生一般下午2,3点就放学了,剩下的白天时间不用来运动,还有什么更好的安排吗?

基本上来说,对于小学生初中生,他们的体育活动总结起来以下几种方式:

  1. Class,就是中文的“班”或者“课”,就是一个或一群孩子一起,由老师来教,来学习某种运动,比如各种球类,游泳,滑冰,体操武术等。这其中有市政府公办的,也有私人机构(比如YMCA)办的,也有私人私教(常见于游泳网球)。一般每个课持续4-6个星期。
  2. Camp,就是“营”,跟class类似,不过一般是在暑期6,7,8月进行。
  3. Team,就是“队”,由一个成年的有经验的志愿者来当教练,招募来一群孩子来组成一个有名字有统一队服的队,定期练习,周末比赛。适用于各种团队球类比如足球棒球篮球排球等等。一般一个Season持续8周左右。
  4. Clinic,大约可以翻译为提升班,专门练习某种技巧或解决某些常见问题的短期班。
  5. Tryout,类似于选秀,在tryout中打得好的就可以进入某个队。
  6. Tournament,就是锦标赛,8进4,4进2,两强决赛之类的比赛。

此外当然还有去公园散步,hiking,骑车,踢球等活动也可以算上。

球队一般是工作日傍晚练习,周六跟别的team比赛。比赛的日子一般都是全家甚至爷爷奶奶也出动。有好几个场地同时比赛,现场人声鼎沸,车位难求。比赛完还有跟对方队握手和本队一起手压手的仪式,然后轮流由某一家人带饮料和零食来犒赏队员。

在我家领导的周密安排下,我的读小学二年级的女儿现在每周上两次共4小时滑冰课,两次共1.5小时游泳课,半小时网球私教课,还参加了一个篮球队(每周一次练习一次比赛)。以前还上过足球课和排球课。女儿的犹太人医生曾开玩笑说她可以冬天去滑冰,到夏天冰化了就在那儿游泳。我的读幼儿园的儿子则参加了足球队,每周一次练习一次比赛,每周两次共1小时游泳课,此外在幼儿园还有sport class。

一位儿童眼科的医生朋友告诉我,小孩每天在户外晒两个小时就不会得近视眼。这也算是多做运动的一个bonus吧。另一个bonus或者说是副作用就是孩子会晒得很黑,要做好防晒措施,心疼孩子晒黑的家长可以选室内运动比如游泳滑冰篮球等。

 

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日式拉面

最近迷上了日本拉面,当然也因为本地开了两家个人认为还不错的拉面馆。一家开了有一两年了,是韩国人开的,叫做Hakata Ramen,号称正宗九州岛福冈县博多区(Hakata)的拉面。另一家是最近才开张的,叫做Monta Japanese Noodle,貌似是日本人厨师,据说是从Vegas过来的。

关于日本拉面的起源众说纷纭,有人根据日语的说法(Ramen)认为拉面日本拉面源自中国,有人则认为日本拉面是在上世纪出在日本本土产生的。在1900年左右,一些日本的粤菜和上海菜馆开始提供简单的切出来而不是拉出来的拉面,配以肉汤,上面还有少许肉片和猪骨。根据拉面专家Hiroshi Osaki的考证,日本第一家专门的拉面馆是在1910年在横滨开张的。二战以后,从美国进口的廉价面粉横扫了日本,同时从中国和东亚战场归来的军人也把他们在那儿学到的做法带回了日本。1958年日清食品的创始人安藤百福 (Momofuku Ando)发明了方便面,让每个人都能简单的制作出类似的拉面。到了80年代,拉面已成为日本文化的一个象征。

这里谈谈日本拉面的几个元素:

面身:大多数面身都有四个成分:面粉,盐,水,碱水。碱水是决定面身的灵魂。传统做法里,碱水是来源自中国和蒙古的内陆湖,那里的湖水含有丰富的矿物质,被认为是制作面身的绝佳配料。碱水让面身变黄,而且口感变得硬朗。面身有各种形状,细的,粗的,中等粗细的,直的卷的,等等。

汤:做拉面的汤一般都是鸡汤或者猪肉熬汤,加以海带,风干的吞拿鱼薄片,沙丁鱼干,牛骨,冬菇,洋葱,再配上盐,味曾,或酱油。经过几十年的演化,拉面的汤大概可以分为四种:

  • 盐汤,这大概是最古老的一种,就是鸡汤配盐和海带,比较清,不稠。
  • 豚骨汤:类似于白汤,因为用猪骨长时间炖,猪骨里的脂肪和肌腱都释放出来,成了稠滑而发白的汤。近两年来的新趋势是在豚骨汤上放麻油。豚骨汤是博多拉面的特色。
  • 酱油汤:顾名思义是鸡汤里放酱油,比较稀但却咸。酱油汤通常都配卷面身而不是直面身,再加以笋干,葱,鱼饼,海苔,煮鸡蛋,豆芽,以及叉烧猪肉。
  • 味曾汤:这是相对比较新的做法,最先是60年代在北海道出现,是大量的味曾加到油乎乎的鸡汤或鱼汤而做成的,特点是稠,颗粒感,略带甜味,味道丰富而强烈。通常上面配豆瓣酱,玉米粒,洋葱,豆芽,猪肉碎,海苔,白胡椒,和碎蒜粒。通常配粗而卷的面身。

佐料:切片叉烧猪肉,葱,煮腌鸡蛋,豆芽,面筋,猪肉丁,海苔干,鱼饼,玉米粒等等。

A Western Perspective of China (一个西方视角里的中国)(Forwarded;转贴)

This is a new blog post from eCommerceFuel, written by Andrew Youderian. It’s so interesting that I couldn’t help sharing it with my blog visitors. — Andy


 

The countryside screamed past at 200mph as I worked on my laptop, comfortable inside the train’s first class cabin. Outside, weathered farmers worked fields by hand as women walked by carrying baskets.

The only evidence that it was 2015 vs. 1315 was the occasional worn-down tractor and the power lines that crossed the landscape. And, of course, the gleaming 21st century bullet train I rode in.

As we neared the outskirts of Wuhan, cluster upon cluster of soviet style high rises rose against a dreary sky thick with smog. Despite having never been to mainland China before, I felt a sense of déjà vu: the stark contrast between old and new, rich and poor, viewed from our high-tech train eerily felt like a scene right out of The Hunger Games.

With its sheer number of people, China reminds me of a much cleaner version of India, but it’s there that the similarities stop. I was bombarded by street smells which I’d love to describe, but can’t because I’ve never experienced them before. I could walk blocks in a market without recognizing a single food item.

However it wasn’t the smells, crowds, food or the lost-in-time countryside that stood out most starkly. Despite being warned, I wasn’t prepared for the often brusque nature of Chinese interactions.

Stuck on a bus where we hadn’t moved for close to 5 minutes, a passenger approached the driver. She wanted to get off and walk, but the bus driver wouldn’t let her – there was a police officer right ahead and he didn’t want a ticket. After a few more minutes, she came up to ask again, but in a much louder and agitated tone.

After another denial, the bus exploded to life: a chorus of previously uninvolved people started shouting, most in defense of the driver. Things grew, to my Western instincts, fairly heated with the bus driver yelling back at the girl. The confrontation continued until he relented, opening the door to let a stream of people pour out of the bus.

In most Western cities, a scene like this would leave bystanders somewhat shocked and exchanging looks with each other. But within seconds, everyone returned to what they had been doing seemingly unfazed.

Surprising incidents like this were, if anything, entertaining to watch. It was the Chinese mores of “please” and “thank you” that were the most difficult for me to adapt to. The difference? The pleasantries just aren’t used much.

It’s especially tricky with those closest to you with rationale that goes something like this: My Chinese family members and friends know I love them and they’ll assume by default I’m thankful. By vocalizing it, I’m putting into question our closeness and bond.

Despite knowing how my frequent “thank yous” came across, I just couldn’t help myself and still said it constantly. Normally it wasn’t an issue, but after thanking friends who treated us to one meal I felt a bit of awkwardness in the air and wished I kept my mouth closed.

You hear about the internet being censored in China, but it’s a surprisingly surreal experience to be blocked from Google the first time you get online. Nearly 3,000 sites are blocked altogether, and everything else you download is censored on the fly as you browse.

The Chinese government is often criticized for many things from censorship to human rights, leaving it with a less-than-stellar public image in the West. So I was surprised when I saw a myriad of things being done by Big Brother to improve life and move the country forward.

Street trash was minimal as the government pays an army of workers to keep things tidy. Cell coverage was maintained throughout my entire underground ride in the government built subway. And the high-speed train infrastructure made getting around China fast, comfortable and affordable in a way I haven’t experienced back in the states.

Business moves forward at a blisteringly fast pace here. A restaurant that was in the very early stages of construction upon my brother’s arrival was finished just a few weeks later, a project that would likely have taken months in the states. Walking the streets at 5:30am one morning in Wuhan, I was shocked to find a buzz of activity at a construction site. It turns out workers are there around the clock.

Seeing how efficiently an authoritarian government can act does make you think about things a bit differently. If we could ensure a just and infallible dictator with our best intentions at heart, I’d vote them into office in an instant. It’s an especially attractive option at a time when dysfunction in the U.S. congress has earned them a lower approval rating than cockroaches.

Watching a video one night, I was especially impressed by the government’s foresight in defining, planning, and executing their program to eliminate poverty which reduced the severe poverty rate from 53% to less than 10% in just 20 years. The gains seemed won so much more easily when carried out by a single, efficient party vs. multiple bickering sides.

It wasn’t until the end that I realized the documentary had been produced by the government. I started to pull up YouTube to learn from a more objective source, but quickly realized that due to the censorship I couldn’t access it, either.

It’s hard to grasp the mind boggling selection of product materials available without visiting China.

One day we headed out to look for fabrics for a product I’m developing, and ended up in the city of Guangzhou. We visited fabric shop after fabric shop, each with thousands of different options. I could have spent hours looking at the offerings of one business alone, and I quickly become overwhelmed by my choices.

After leaving one shop that had every conceivable type of buckle, strap and pull you could every imagine I asked our guide and manufacturing guru Jamon Yerger how many shops with a similar selection existed, expecting perhaps 3-4 competitors in the city. His reply: “Oh, easily dozens and dozens. Perhaps 100 or more”.

I’ve been to Tokyo, Delhi and New York City, but no where has left me with a sense of the sheer volume of resources needed to support humanity like China did. I was spellbound when we ate at a restaurant with a dining room 100 yards long. An endless stream of food poured from the kitchen, and I couldn’t help but extrapolate this scene in my mind across all of China. I left and was tempted to immediately invest my life savings in Chinese pork futures.

This scale isn’t unique to China, of course. I’m sure there’s similarly sized restaurants in cities across the world. But there’s something about China that conveys a massiveness of scale unlike anywhere else I’ve been.

My initial judgement of China for much of the trip was that of a polluted, overcrowded and brusque society. But that slowly started to change.

Just a few blocks from a massive electronics mall in Shenzhen we discovered a picturesque oasis that reminded me of Central Park in New York. It wasn’t a scene you’d expect to find in one of the world’s most well-known manufacturing centers.

My family and hosts were incredibly kind, and I was warmly treated to meal after meal with absolutely no possibility of my paying or helping out.

My biggest mindset shift came one evening as we strolled along the Yangtze River park as dusk was falling. In America, most parks would be winding down as people headed home for the night. Here a full-scale party was underway. Dozens of people flew kites decorated with elaborate lights. A group of men played with enormous tops, using whips to keep them spinning furiously.

And there was the dancing. Every quarter mile or so, we’d come across a large group of mostly older women (and a few brave men) dancing with a leader to music. I thought this was isolated to the park, and was surprised to see similar scenes in parking lots, shopping centers and random sidewalks across the city. The groups were everywhere, doing everything from simple moves to elaborate, modern couples routines.

As our bus bounced home over a bridge illuminated by strands of colored lights, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of community and energy in the air as we drove throughout the city. It was if everyone came out after a busy day to play, relax and connect with each other. It’s not a feeling I’ve had in many places before.

Even while leaving, I had the nicest, most amiable custom agent I’ve ever run into – normally an interaction you look forward to as much as a lunchtime stop at your local DMV.

As my return plane took to the air, I knew I wouldn’t miss the crowds, the chickens feet, overcast skies or the pig jerky airline breakfast appetizer I had just been handed. But I was already looking forward to coming back.

Special thanks to my brother Chris for showing me around China and putting up with my antics. To Jamon from High Cappin for being our tour guide in Shenzhen. And especially to my sister-in-law Laura and her parents Xueshan and Huadi for graciously hosting me.

14日走遍西部美景的计划

My sister recently requested me to layout a plan for her family’s first visit to US next summer, with focus on natural beauty of the country. Here is a 2 week road trip plan for visiting the Western American, including Yellowstone and the so called Grand Circle.

我的姐姐请我给她们一家四口人(以及可能其他三家人,一共十余人)明年暑假来美国度假拟定一个计划。他们大部分都是第一次来美国,除了经典的东岸一串城市,他们还想自驾游美国西部。这里分享一下我制定的一个两星期自驾计划,是从盐湖城开始,先游黄石,再南下看犹他的红石头,再去大峡谷,vegas,zion/Bryce canyon,最后从盐湖城返回。

2016_US_Summer

 Day From To By Miles Drive Hours See Stay
1 Home SLC/Jackson FLY/Car 279 4.5 on the road Jackson/Teton
2 Teton Yellowstone car 100 2 Teton, Old Faithful Area Yellowstone, OF Inn
3 Yellowstone Yellowstone car 50 1 Old faithful, Grand Prism, Mammoth Yellowstone, Canyon
4 Yellowstone Yellowstone car 150 3 Canyon, Lamar, Heyden Yellowstone, Canyon
5 Yellowstone SLC car 362 6 SLC (Antelope island, capitol) SLC
6 SLC Moab car 272 4 Canyonlands NP (sunset) Moab
7 Moab Monument Valley car 156 2.5 Arches NP; MV Monument Valley
8 MV Page car 122 2 MV, Antelope Canyon, Glen Canyon Page
9 Page Grand Canyon car 133 2 Grand Cayon NP Grand Canyon
10 GC Las Vegas car 276 4 GC, Hoover Dam Las Vegas
11 Las Vegas Las Vegas car 0 0 Las Vegas, shows Las Vegas
12 Las Vegas Zion car 160 2.5 Zion NP Zion NP, or Springdale
13 Zion Bryce Canyon car 73 1 Bryce NP Bryce
14 Bryce SLC/Home Car/Fly 268 4 Utah highway