Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Good Morning from Beijing, China - Day 3

Good morning all.....not near as exciting news today. Spent the day at the new Libbey glass factory outside of Beijing. The factory is just getting ready to go into manufacturing mode...so not much to look at today. Discussed training and quality systems they are implementing. No photos of the plant for obvious reasons......

I did snap some pictures as we came into town...I apologize for the quality of the pics in advance, but they're all from a moving van.

This is the Jianguo hotel where we're staying. Very nice place....and they just updated the rooms TODAY to include a flat panel high-def TV in each room. Very slick.

And just in case anyone was worried about the Starbuck's chain...they're here in China serving the billions of Chinese...and myself, as we've had the pleasure of starting each day with a quality cup of joe.

Not much else to show.....ttfn.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Day 2, Beijing, China

Slowly recovering from a 5 hour walk around Beijing this morning. Saw the Forbidden City, Tianamen Square, and the Temple of Heaven. My feet are killing me....

Had to come back and take a shower, as there was enough wind kicking dirt around that Steve and I were pretty well covered in a layer of grime by the time we got back. Anyway, here is a picture dump for the day....

Me in front of the Forbidden City....9,999 rooms for the Emporer of China to live in, keeping his 2000-3000 concubines for his needs. Must have been rough being the Emporer.

Cool lion statue outside the Forbidden City. Steve and I decided not to take the tour of the City due to time and cost. Was surprised by the number of people at the City for a Monday morning...I had figured that it would be slow, but maybe the crowd we saw was small compared to the weekend, I have no point of reference to compare.

Statue comemerating the People's Revolution in Tiananmen Square...there was a matching statue to the left of this one.

Temple of Heaven...the picture doesn't do it justice, as the coloration of the temple is just amazing. Brilliant reds, yellows and blues are just amazing. Very beautiful temple.

Time to get some dinner now and then finish preparing for tomorrow, as we start the work that we came here for with a visit to a new Libbey glass manufaturing plant...planned for the bulk of the day, so the sightseeing in Beijing is pretty much over. ttfn.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Good Morning from Beijing, China

Well...it's 2:35am Monday morning here in China, and I'm still not quite adjusted to the time change as you can see here.

Arrived Sat evening around 6pm on a very quiet and uneventful flight from Chicago. Business class is the bomb, but I did find out that the company will allow you to elect to fly coach and give you the difference in cash if you choose to do so....kicker is that you can then pay to upgrade (using points) and end up in business class and a couple of thousand ahead in the process. Something to think about next time, as I should have enough points to upgrade now.

Anyway, Steve and I made our way to the hotel, checked in and pretty much crashed for the night....I made it until about 11pm watching HBO and Cinemax in the room (War of the Worlds). Woke back up at 3am and pretty much stayed up all day.

Steve and I had a pretty normal breakfast at the hotel...eggs, bacon, toast then decided to take a quick walk around and see what we could see....saw this and decided to take the pic...not sure what it is, but it's in downtown Beijing. I have to admit I've been impressed with everything so far. People have been very nice and helpful, city is fairly clean (reminds me of NYC in alot of ways)...although you do get a whiff of some pungent smells walking the streets at times.

Made back to the hotel in time to find out that there was a daily tour bus that left for the Great Wall at 10:50am...so we quickly gathered our stuff, paid the $280 RMD....about $35 USD (8-1 exchange) and got ready for the trip. Ended up on a very nice bus with a French husband and wife for the tour, along with the tour guide and her family (husband and two children). Made the 1.5 hr drive to the great wall and snapped the following pics....
This is from the ski-lift heading up the mountain. For anyone that doesn't know, the GWC was built around 1400BC and runs along the spine of a mountain ridge....

...as you can see here...the wall snakes back and forth on the top of these mountains....it boggles my mind the work that it took 3400 years ago to drag the bricks up by hand to build this wall. Simply amazing....

Me on the Great Wall....the other amazing thing is that there are very few flat spots on the wall...the bulk of the wall is on stone staircases. I made it to the first guardhouse, but then decided that I wanted to be able to get back down and not be airlifted off the wall, so left Steve to walk the rest of the steps while I snapped pics and admired the view.

The next building is where I stopped...long walk, lots of stairs...and I'm way out of shape for that type of thing.

Not sure how to caption this, but that blade was real metal sitting on my shoulder......brrrrr. Cost me $2 usd for the pics....no biggie for a cool picture.

After leaving the wall, we went to a silk manufacturing business and spent some time learning on how Chinese silk is produced (does come from silk worms) and the silk threads are unwound from the cocoon. Anyway, ended up in a store front with the goal being selling us some silk products. I have to admit, I couldn't pass up a nice silk tie for $120 rmd ($14 usd).
Next, we stopped at a tea shop that showed us 5-6 different types of traditional teas and explained the brewing, smelling and tasting of the different teas. Of course, we ended up in a shop where you can buy tea and tea sets...didn't purchase anything as I think I can get better prices outside of Beijing later in the trip. On the drive back to the hotel we drove past some of the Olympic sites for the 2008 Summer Olympics....will be interested to see what everyone thinks of the aquatic center and 'birds nest' when they see them for the Olympics next year.
Anyway, that pretty much wraps up day one...planning on Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven tomorrow before starting the work on Tuesday and the sightseeing pretty much ends until Sunday.
ttfn...going to try and get some sleep now.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Poker update

Actually played some poker over the last few days (WoW was done for some patch uploads and such...what's a guy to do when Wow is down but go play poker).

With all of the recent shutdowns and lockouts in the online poker community, I'm glad I've weened myself off the daily poker addiction and just play when I feel like it now. Poker.com is still my home for now...hopefully they won't break to the pressure of the crappy US laws and will continue to allow US players to play....at least as long as I'm travelling for the next few weeks....While I hope to see the sights, I expect there will be some down time in the hotels to mess around on the poker tables while watching Chinese TV....can't wait.

Anyway, picked up a profit of about $50 over the last few days across 3 sessions of 0.25/0.50 NL 6-handed poker....probably represents about an hour of playing, so $50 and hour is fine with me. Nothing notable as far as hands or suck-outs.....I did crack AA once the other day when I caught my set on the turn when he slow played the rockets on the flop and then tried to milk the table post-flop for a small bet. Caught the set for cheap on the turn and made him pay for his slow-play with check-raising on the turn and then a pot-size bet on the river which he reluctantly called. I did see a guy catch a straight flush on the river when his 6-7s caught an OESF draw that he called down to the river to see his straight flush connect on the river and crack KK and 10-10. They gave him hell for it, but they didn't start betting at the pot until after the turn and he had odds to make the call with his outs.

Only other notable hand was a joker that called my $3 pre-flop bet (I had JJ) from the BB. Flop of 2-6-9 rainbow....called my half-pot bet. 10 on the turn...he tried to check raise my $5 bet, I pushed my $25 into the pot and he called, showing 77 and missing his outs on the river for a nice $40 profit on the one hand. Not sure why he would risk the cash on a gutshot straight with mid-pair....I was betting like I had an overpair to the board, so he had to know that he was drawing thin.....but then again, he dropped $70 into the table over 20 minutes by playing every hand and getting run over once we figured him out. Walked away with about $20 to the good....my stats showed I saw 38 hands, winning 2 for the profit....so happy to get away from a cold table with a profit at all.

I'm keeping an eye out for using my free tourney entry on poker.com from the BPT. I believe I get a free entry into a grand finale tourney, which is typically a $200+ buy-in tourney that awards a WPT/WSOP type seat for the winner. May be just the ticket for an evening while I'm travelling over the next few weeks if I can catch the right tourney.

Anyway, the blog will most likely be a travel log for the next couple of weeks as I travel overseas....take care all.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Goodbye Grandma...you'll be missed

Farewell on the other side. You'll always be in our thoughts.

Thelma Ullom - 11/16/18 - 1/17/07

Nothing else compares to this news....will post more when things get back to normal.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Year, New Post

Hey all....been awhile I know....the last two weeks have been full of highs and lows....

first off...the poker tourney didn't end the way I had hoped. I busted out in 18th place after going on tilt after PureChaos pushed into my top pair, top kicker with bottom pair and promptly hit his outs for two pair and the pot. Congrats for going on and winning the whole thing. While I admit that you have to get lucky to win any tourney at times...PureChaos seemed to defy the odds by winning at least three hands that have been posted on the various blogs when he was behind when all the money went into the pot. I really feel that I would have gone far in the tourney if not for that hand, as it made the difference from me being in a nice chip lead on a tight table to being a short stack at the same table. I ended up busting out a few hands later in the tourney when I pushed with paint pre-flop , got called by mid-pair with a big stack and missing everything.....but I now have an entry into a WSOP qualifier tourney, so I'll have to see if I can work some magic there.

Haven't had time to play much other than an hour session on poker.com (.25/.50 NL) yesterday for a $0.19 profit.....considering I was as low as $13 ($50 buy-in) and made my way back makes the profit a bit easier to swallow....better than a loss. No amazing plays...I was in the hole fast as I called an all-in post flop after having a nut-flush, royal flush, straight draw with overcards (KJs, board A-x-10)...called a $12 all in (pot was at $5 pre-flop I believe) with all my outs and lost to A-10. Next hand lost another $15 when my flopped set of 9s (again called a short stack all in) hit his flush draw and my boat never materialized...so 2 hands, down $27....wheee. Sat at $15-27 for most of the hour, then hit a nice 3 way pot to get back up to $48 when my AKs flopped an A and turned a K to beat A-J and KQ that called my 1/2 pot bets to the river. Happy to get the money back into the account after all was siad and done.

And for once......no BlackJack for me....yeah.

The holidays were pretty good....the kids were recipients of a very generous Santa (other than Ashley, who has not received all of her gifts after we found out she had been hunting for them in the basement. She has to earn those presents that she found through good behavior over the coming weeks.....still had plenty of gifts to open though.

Made the trip to Toledo three times over the past 12 days....Jen's family party, took a dining room table to my dad, then back to Dad's for my family Christmas and New Year gathering. Won't get into the drama from the New Years Weekend....suffice to say that we won;t be having any more gatherings where my diviorced parents will be present at the same time.

Alan has been fighting the cold that I have just gotten over (mostly). Poor kid can't breathe well and it wakes him up when he is sleeping, which makes for rough nights for Jen, as she tries to let me sleep so I can work and such....ended up staying at home yesterday while she slept til noon or so after being up all Monday night....last night was better, so hopefully Alan is on the way to rebounding.

Trip to CA next week may get canned, as we can't get enough business meetings and audits scheduled to make the trip worthwile....may end up out there in later Jan or possibly late Feb/March....will wait and see.

Enough for now....back to work...ttfn.