Sunday, April 6, 2014

The state of Arsenal in 2013/2014

This season marks the 10th Anniversary of the invincible year of Arsenal 2003/2004. It was the year I adopted Arsenal as my EPL team. Since then watching Arsenal every weekend, and often during midweek has been something I looked forward too. It doesn't matter if the team wins or looses, the experience has mostly been entertaining ones.

The other team I watch as much as Arsenal is Barcelona. I must admit I often fall asleep watching Barcelona though they plays really good football. However, they are so consistence you can't tell the difference match in match out, unless they are facing the two Madrid teams, on plays in the Champions League.

After watching Arsenal this morning for about 50 minutes, I ended up pressing the 30-minute skip button on my remote over and over again, hoping they would break zero. At the end, that never happen and they gave away 2 more goals. A team that could not change to adapt, without fighting spirit; a couch that almost never put in a sub before the hour mark, that has no idea to recover from a bad situation does not deserve any more attention.

For the rest of the season, I hope my childhood team will move on and win the league. Go Merseyside Red!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Exhilarating, breathtaking, astonishing.

I can't find word in any language to describe the return leg of FC Barcalona and AC Milan today. Thanks to DVR and being in the US (where soccer results won't bombard you), though I had to watch it delayed, it was no less excitement then watching it in real time.

"What a privilege it is to watch such an incredibly talented player" as one of the commentator praise in awe. It is so true. The best player by miles, since the sport was professionally played with proper rules. Messi ruled this game, and the 10 defenders could not close him down.

It is humbling when you think of it. Everyday history is being written in front of your eyes. Things you can actually tell to your future generation. It's not just statistic. You can't relive it by watching a few games here and there, or through clips. I am actually living in it. That's the mind blowing part. It is awesome.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Englisher Garten

The Englisher Garten (English Garden) in Munich is one of the most beautiful park I have visited. Right next to the own city center of Munich, it is easily reachable.

What impresses me most is the lake at the North East end. During our visit, we stopped by the Seehaus beer garden next to the lake. After getting our 1 Little mug of beer, we were able to find a table right next to the lake. When I say right next to, it is literary one step away from the lake.

We have geese and swans begging for food next to us. What impressed me most is the crystal clear water. I have been to many similar size lakes in public parks in the States but never have I seen anything so clean.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


11:59 了。难得有几分钟时间可以静下来。洗个澡又要开始忙了。今天大概又要熬倒 3 am了。

Friday, June 1, 2012

Napa wine train

The most anticipated itinerary of our perfect day at Napa valley was the dinner Napa wine train ride. After taking a couple of quick stops at two wineries, we headed to the train station near downtown Napa, right across the street from the Westin. We arrived at 5.15pm and shortly after at 5.30 the is an introduction given by a company staff about our journey. There is a gift and wine shop at the station which stock many of Napa's selections. The prices are reasonable. At least for a few wine we had seen at wineries earlier in the day, they were sold cheaper here then at the winery.

We have purchased ticket for the vista dome car, which is the more expensive of the the two available in the evening. The boarding started shortly after 5.50pm. Even though the vista dome car was fully booked, we find there is no rush to board since all seating were preassigned.

We felt like we were in a high end restaurant when we got up the vista dome section which is on the second floor of the particular car. We were very excited. Shortly after we were seated, a gentlemen came and introduced us the menu and special for the night. The soup and seafood en-tree were not printed on the menu. our waitress Chrystal came and introduce herself. A photographer followed and offered to take our picture.

Shortly after that, crystal came and took our dinner order. The dinner menu look attractive. For our dov there were a choice of sear scallop and scrimp or fois guar. For starter, there were the choice of apple salad or asparagus soup. For dinner entree,there was pork loin, lamp chop, seared ahi tuna, beef and a vegetarian dish. Unfortunately since my mom doesn't eat beef, lamb nor raw items, the only choose for her was pork tenderloain which is the least attractive of the vegetarian menu.

The train left the station on time at 6.30pm. I had wished for a seat on the west side of the train but I forgot to mention it while making the reservation. We we seated on the east to my disappointment. The train traveled at a mere 18miles/hr speed. However perhaps because we were at a higher central of gravity, we feel the heavy swinging very often. That prove to be a problem because after about 30 minutes into the journey my mom started having motion sickness and basically they took away her appetite.

We have driven on sy.Helena why (rt 29) a few times in the last two days and sitting on east side turned out to be less then desired. We were basically on the west side of the road and we have seen most of the scenery while driving by. Whereas o. The west side, we were able go see many areas which we couldnt see from the road. We also miss the chance to see the sunset.

After finishing our entry, we have aout 45 mins to roam around the train before dessert was served. We walked from one end to the other. We realized even though we may have paid for me, we may have received a lesser experience. We found many of the louce cars empty and sine the windows are not tinted, the view was brighter and the seats were much more confortable. Because of our dinner arrNgemeng we were advice to not leave our seat before the entree was served. S we ended up only having the short amount of time to stay in the lounge or at the ends of the train. And when we were back to eur seats ,we found we found we couldn,t see much because of the tinted window even thought it was still quite bright out there.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Computer Illeterate

I have a dear elderly who is in his 70's. We used to lived about 30 minutes drive away from each other in the suburb of Chiacgo and I have helped him a lot in buying computer laptop, netbook, printers, and set up his broadband network. He like to call himself (in front of me) a computer illiterate and thanks me every time we have chance to talk. He is one of those who, despite have no formal training in any recently technologies, like to explore and learn new things.

He is one a the very few friends of mine who have internet phone service. I told him about Vonage several years ago after I signed up, and he immediately took interests and went ahead and cancel his land line from the local phone company. He was so glad he never have to deal with all those hidden charges from the local phone companies, and enjoyed free unlimited calls to overseas.

Because of this Vonage service, his home network is a little different from many normal household. Throughout the years, when he called his broadband company or Vonage, he has received different advice, and gradually his network has become very different from how I helped him set it up.

A couple of weeks ago, he called me and asked me for help. This time, I am no longer 30 minutes, but 4 hours flight away. He has also purchased another winter house in a different (warmer) state, where he carries with him some of his equipment whenever he travels to between the two states. Last month my wife and I visited him and his wife at this winter home, and gave him an iPad 2 which we got during a sale. We tried out best to show him and convince him he could eventually stop using his PC, and just work on the iPad. As a result, his home network now should look different, since his wifi access point has been taken out of the picture, directed by one of those tech support people at some point in the pass.

I drew a nice and easy to understand network diagram with real photos of all piece of equipment he has, and have him reconnect everything accordingly. After a couple of hours of struggles, back and forth of what I asked him to do, and what he saw on his screen, we finally get everything going. iPad, phone dial tone, and his Window 7 netbook all working happily together.

It wasn't even a week before I hear from him again. I received an email he sent from his iPad (hooray!) that he could go "online" from his netbook anymore. Before I have time to call him and spend sometime trying to understand the problem, I notice the next morning his online status on MSN. When sent him another email in the evening the same day, I was told one of his friend came over to his house, and helped him solve the problem.

I was happy because it was quite difficult trying to help him on a Windows machine, when I don't have one to look at. Well, things are never that easy. Two or maybe three days later, again I receive email from him saying things have stopped working on his netbook.

I decided to call him after waiting for a couple of days sending him emails with some instruction of what to check. After trying everything I could, and even having him running network commands on DOS window, I can't get his IE to talk to any website. I decided to take a dinner break and call him back. Our second half of the session started with a good news. He told him while I was taking my dinner, he pulled out the network diagram I had sent him, and compare to actually connections of all equipmnent, and found that his friend has made some changes. Instead of connecting the router/wifi access point to the cable modem, he decided to connect the Vonage voip box to the modem, and have the router connected to the voip box. I was silence furious but kept my cool and have him make things right according to the diagram. Within a few minutes, everything works again as they should.

I name this blog post this way not to look down my friend, because I think he is one I admire. Despite his age, he is still willing to learn, always willing to explore new and foreign things. Though I was furious at his friend who rearranged the network and wasted my time,  I don't blame him for network is indeed pretty complicated. I think the more you know, the more you would understand what I mean.

This past week, a scientist with Phd degree and many years of experience at where I worked, open a trouble ticket complaining he could no longer log on to a workstation. After some investigation, it appeared that he has made some changes on his own such as his sessions immediately terminate upon logging on to a workstation. I pointed out the mistake and offer him to make the change the correct way for him if he would like to. Several days later, I received an update with such a request, but also with a note indicating what he did was how it all used to be 20 years ago when he was playing with Linux. Having been in this line of work for that long a time, I understand that anyone telling you that is simply implying he has experience in Linux since day 1 and he knows what he was doing. Well, I don't want to question his experience, and after calming myself down, decided not to "educate" him with what have chance in the past 20 years, and also what needs to be done differently in an office multiuser environment, versus on a private isolated computer that he has 20 years ago. On the same day, he has also voiced through a trouble ticket, indicating I have broken something important on some computers he was using, because I did some software updates, Well, the ticket wasn't really to ask for help, but to point out that he wasn't informed of the updates and he has not given permission to do so. Being very certain that the software updates would not have broken anything he was trying to use, I kept quite and wait. Within minutes, replies to the tickets came in from someone else who admitted he made changes to the application, and offered to fix.

My friends, if you read this and you think you are never any good at computer technologies, engineering, don't be. The only computer illiterate are those who thinks they are too smart and know it all. Knowing something for 20 years is not a good thing to be brag about, if you are not already on the board of Google or Facebook. That means you are outdated and left behind.

Friday, May 20, 2011


It's Thursday (Day 6), May 19, 2011. I decided to take advantage of the hotel's free shuttle to Leiden Centraal at 9am, which is their last trip to town. The distant to Rotterdam from Leiden is about the same as to Amsterdam, but the ticket cost slightly less, at 13 Euro, plus the 50c service fee.

I arrived at Amsterdam in less than 30 minutes, and went straight to the VVV. There is a smaller VVV office called the Info Cafe, right next to the Grandcafé-Restaurant Engels. It is not completely obvious where it is coming out of the station. But if you look for the Engels cafe, it is right after the corner.

There is heavy construction going on at the Central Station. I can imagine it will be a pretty and modern site once it is completed. Right outside the station is also RET office where you can get the day pass.

I stopped by the Info Cafe and ask for a map or a walking guide of some sort. There is a Roaming Rotterdam guide available for free, or download able from the VVV website. There is a small and simply map with the walking tour route in this free brochure and it became the guide I use for my walking tour.

The Info Cafe also sells a 1 Euro Map which I decided to purchase. The map is larger, will 3D images of tourist spots. And with the purchase of the Rotterdam Welcome card, the map is included. The welcome card cost 9 Euro but includes a 24 hour public transport day card which cost 7 Euro, and a coupon book. Since I was planning to purchase the day card, I decided to get the Welcome Card.

From the Info Cafe, it wasn't too obvious which direction I should go. A compass might have helped. But since I have lost the ability to use my Samsung Vibrant, I neither has GPS nor a working compass with me.

I followed the walking guide, and roam through many new and old buildings, squares and sculpture. As I am not really interested in sculptures, I will mention them as I upload some of the pictures I have taken.

My first meaningful stop was the Central Library. The library in dutch is bibloteek. I followed the suggestion of the guide and went up to the 6th floor of the library using it's escalator. There is a pretty nice view of a part of the city (much of it is under major construction), and the cube houses which sit next door. There are also many beautiful looking young people reading or studying surrounding the escalator. The top looks like a quiet done, with special glass enclosure.

Outside the library, there is a flying saucer looking Metro Station. There is suppose to be some special light displays showing the trains passing through the station but I can't find it, and had no desire to.

Immediately to the right of the Library is the famous Cube Houses Complex. One of the houses have been converted to a museum open for tourists. It is called the Kijk-kubus museum and there are signs directing you to it. There is also a hostel operated by Stayokay. The welcome card coupon book has a coupon for a 1 Euro discount from the normal 2.50 Euro entrance Fee. It only took me about 10 minutes to tour the whole 100 square meters, 3-story house. According to the attendance, it costs about 200 thousands Euro now a days each. One owner decided to open it up and make it into the Kijk-kubus museum.

This is definitely not a house I want to live it. I find it claustrophobic, and since I am afraid of height, I hate the stairs, especially when come down. And forget about heavy furniture, it would trickier than moving stuff in one of the old dutch houses.

After touring the cube houses my next destination is the city landmark Erasmusbrug bridge. You will see pictures of this bridge on postcards and everywhere. On the way, I passed by some old harbours, and saw some nice looking ships. Before crossing the bridge, I decided to take a boat tour on the Spido. Their ship looks modern, and I thought it if is faster, it may actually cover more areas. The ticket, after 25% discount from the coupon book was only 7.30.

I boarded the ship in just a few minutes and there weren't many passengers today. I found a good seat on the top deck and have a good view. The ship take a short detour to show us the Willemsbrug bridge, and back under the Erasmusbrug bridge towards to the port area. I took good amount of photos of the bridge from different angles only to find out later that I have set my ISO to 800 the night before. The 75 minutes boat tours pretty much is the high light of my few hours stay. Rotterdam is famous for its port and architectures. However it is no longer the busiest port in the World. It has been surpassed by Singapore and Shanghai. However, from watching documentaries in the past, I know the dutch is very advance in their ship and port related technologies. And of course they are the master in canals and land reclamation. I learned from the Marine Museum that the Palm Island in Dubai is built by a Dutch company.

After the boat tour, I walked across the Erasmusbrug bridge and took some more pictures.

From there, I walked along the sea side, and head towards the Euromast. If you are interested to take a good view of the city and the port, this is where you can claim high and look. I arrived at the tower and saw three people coming down from the viewing area of the tower using robes. It's kind of exciting. If I weren't so tired walking already, I might have gone and try.

By this time, the fews day of walking has caught on me. I could barely walk and wished there is a tram or bus stop closeby. However, I don't know what I will miss if I skip the walking tour.

So I walked back pass the Het Park. Once I came out of Het Park, I proceed through a long street called Parklaan (Park Lane). This is a wide street surround by beautiful houses on both side, which many of them have been converted to private offices. There is a piece of green in the middle and it is so peace ful walking through this street. Of course, there is another statue right in the middle.

I then came to the Museum Park and the first building I saw was the Kunsthal. Kunsthal is an art exhibition hall. I can see a large pumkin displayed inside through the large glass window. But I had no desire to venture in. So I went around it and head towards the central of the museum park.

At this time of the day, I was exhausted and hungry. I sat down and ate my Kinder Choholade, and some cookies. My hear towards to the Central Sation, it's pretty much streets filled with shops and restaurants. I stumbled across a Picasso sculpture on the way, and many more statues and sculpture.

I thought of using my transport pass to go around town once more, but at this point I had no motivation to see anything else. Since it is a Thursday, the day the shops open late, I decided to go back to Leiden to meet my wife and tour the shops in Leiden.

Perhaps in a few years, when all the new construction is finished, we will see some new faces. Some of the building which I got to see, and didn't have chance to see are truely interesting. They like to build structure that looks unconventional.