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Showing posts from 2010

Gingerbread Cookies

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Fun With Gingerbread Cookies (via www.sidsavara.com)  THANK YOU, SID!



“The end of childhood is when things cease to astonish us.
When the world seems familiar,
When one has got used to existence,
One has become an adult. “
– Eugene Ionesco


Just some fun with gingerbread cookies today. Happy holidays!



P.S. Today is the last day to get a discount on the advance galley copy of How To Stop Wasting Your Time and Start Accomplishing Your Goals. You’ll get the full, updated version once I incorporate all your feedback – and by acting now, you’ll get it for less than everyone else =). Enjoy your weekend! http://www.sidsavara.com/

Happy Trails To You

Dale Evans and Roy Rogers. They are my kind of people. I love the comments with this song as well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcYsO890YJY    (The link to the song.) "They created memories that have roots in eternity. They were special on and off camera. I miss what they gave to all of us. A simpler time; a simpler way to live. And faith that we will all find a "Happy Trail"."
"At Roy's memorial service they released doves. His son Dusty turned to his brother and said "What do you think Dad would say about this?" The other replied "You take the ones on the right, I've got the ones on the left" :-)"

Sculpture Park on N side of Suzhou Creek near tourist boat launch

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My Musical Life

Today I played the cello with some friends I play chamber music with. We played piano trios of famous tunes from a number of Asian countries. 

Some colleagues and I were fortunate to have been able to buy tickets to hear Yo Yo Ma perform a Dvorak Cello concerto Friday night. We had a quick dinner beforehand and barely made it to the theater in time - every single seat was occupied and we were the final 4 seats as a man gave the final 10 seconds of a speech to dedicate a performance of Barber's Adagio for Strings to the victims of the terrible apartment building fire last week. It was a stunning concert, passing by in what felt like the twinkle of an eye.  We all looked at our watches at the end of the night thinking how on earth 2 hours could possibly have passed, but they had. 

Saturday night a friend and I went to a fantastic quintet of winds plus french horn playing a number of lovely single movement pieces in Shanghai Concert Hall. The performers were really at t…

composed by Dennis Ming Nichols

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Letter to the Boss: Thanksgiving Day "Work from Home" Dear Laoban,

Thursday, November 25th is Thanksgiving Day, a very special holiday for Americans. Even though I am (insert nationality), Thanksgiving still represents a time of gathering among friends and families and celebrating what's important, the food in our bellies and the people we share it with. As you may not celebrate this holiday in your Glorious Nation, you might be unaware of its importance thus not understanding why granting my request to "work from home" a significant gift. Please, allow me to share the history of this important holiday.

In 1620, some religious separatists ("The Pilgrims") left England in search for new land and religious freedom. They found themselves in present-day Massachusetts where they set up a town called Plymouth. However due to lack of experience with the foreign soil and a bad growing season, they spent the first year in h…

Conversation

I was recently a fly on the wall listening to a conversation between three men from three foreign countries. It went something like this... "How about all the company dinner banquets we have to deal with; how do you stand the constant toasting of 'baijiu' that horrible stuff!" "Oh that stuff is so nasty! It's not only bad to drink its bad effect stays with you the next day and it stinks too!" "I have found a way to get by and it works for me:  I will take a sip of the baijiu for one drink, and then take only red wine after that. I inform my hosts at the beginning that I will only have one drink of baijiu. This gets me through many nights of this torture!"

just lucky I guess

Two very nice things happened today--I actually received the tickets to Yo Yo Ma's "Bohemian" show that I ordered, with the price only gouged a little, and a friend offered me a ticket to Mass Ensemble concert tomorrow night. =-) http://massensemble.com/

Another For Real Place...

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Luckily, so far I have not needed to visit here. And I hope to keep it this way.

PanPuckingTastic...

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This is a real, paid advert I keep seeing.  Just every time I see it I think, man, for real?  But yup, that's China! :)

music for Austrians

50 reasons to love SH

Someone else did the work...great thoughts on this city of everything! http://http://www.cnngo.com/shanghai/play/worlds-greatest-city-50-reasons-why-shanghai-no-1-590704
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The kitchen will never be the same...I have made a new discovery...and perhaps
will never need to leave China again....(just kidding!!!)

Whilst thawing some cooked frozen rice in the micro, I smelled something odd
like something burning. I thought to myself, ok fine, these appliances never
last very long in China anyway, not a big deal and to be expected, right? 
Well...not! Actually this is a special microwave which came with a little metal
rack and one of the settings is for "grill."  Never tried it; at least I never
meant to; but tonight I accidentally put the setting to grill after I finished
using the "thaw" setting...and the thing was doing its grilling!  Really there is a grill
in the top of it!  So weird!  I always thought this microwave was a little
different and now I realize the inside is a special kind of enameled surface;
apparently this can withstand the (small) amounts of fire that the grill
produces.  I was so shocked at this feature I turned it of…

the kitchen

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The kitchen will never be the same...I have made a new discovery...and perhaps
will never need to leave China again....(just kidding!!!)

Whilst thawing some cooked frozen rice in the micro, I smelled something odd
like something burning. I thought to myself, ok fine, these appliances never
last very long in China anyway, not a big deal and to be expected, right? 
Well...not! Actually this is a special microwave which came with a little metal
rack and one of the settings is for "grill."  Never tried it; at least I never
meant to; but tonight I accidentally put the setting to grill after I finished
using the "thaw" setting...and the thing was doing its grilling!  Really there is a grill
in the top of it!  So weird!  I always thought this microwave was a little
different and now I realize the inside is a special kind of enameled surface;
apparently this can withstand the (small) amounts of fire that the grill
produces.  I was so shocked at this feature I turned it of…

a post birthday weekend

I was so tired from the week (and riding for a couple of hours to dinner and back on Friday night) that I stayed in bed most of Saturday.  But it was also to get my energy up for today; I went and met a gal who's leaving China today and she sold me her viola for a great price - it has a nice sound and looks nice too. Then I had to race back to the hospital to complete my health exam - I still needed the ultrasound test as here it is a routine part of the checkup.  The hospital's clinical areas close at noon.  I did that and then they said everything's fine--whew.  Then went home and had some soup from last night - corn and bean - it's really yummy - and took a rest. 
I went out and ordered a dress to be made for $11. It will be a strapless formal that I'm hoping will be fit for playing at the Austrian Pavilion when we play quartets for a special event in a couple of weeks. I have had this beautiful black dragon silk for about 5 years.  I finally decide…

weather

Well it's that time of year again - a typhoon is headed this way. From a satellite image I just saw it looks like Taiwan and Okinawa are getting slammed. We're off from school tomorrow.  The ministry of education called all the schools to tell us to have parents keep their kids at home tomorrow.  Fine by me as we have parent nights tonight and Thursday which is equivalent to an extra day anyhow! 

back in the USA

Once again I got to time-travel from Shanghai back to the states, arriving earlier the same day I left.  That makes for a long day. 

I truly appreciate the air quality up in the mountains of Washington state where my dad and I spent the day yesterday up on Rimrock Lake.  It took us a while to catch on to the day's game but after a few hours we mastered the fish and limited out with 16 Kokanee Salmon apiece. The lake was nearly glass, the sun was mostly out, the pine smell from the forest wafted across the clean lake below.  A water-soaked log floated down the lake and nearly slammed us but at the last moment it went to our left and stopped against the island we tied up to.  Eventually it started working its way out and we merely lifted up our rope and slid it back out into the lake, avoiding our boat and anchor ties.  Otherwise it could have been a disaster. It is so very pleasant to see the hawks soaring above, wild flowers sparkling in the sunshine and bullfrogs swimming around …

Livingston American School

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Someone recently made a condescending remark to me about why I teach at Livingston American School of Shanghai. First of all I have to say I was very surprised that the person would say something so unprofessional, considering he is in about the same position of another school, and considering his school was trying to recruit me.  This person actually put stock in some false rumors which have circulated around the expat community.   It's too bad this person holds the attitude that he does because I was actually considering working alongside him to help build his program.  There are a number of reasons I choose to continue to teach and to direct the music program at Livingston American School.  Number one is we have a very close, family-like atmosphere where every student is known and appreciated for who they are.  This allows students to shine and for the students to really have close relationships with their teachers and staff.  In an age of increasing technology and electronic c…

chamber music life

Sometimes I feel I lead a wonderfully wacky yet great life.  I can't play all of the wonderful quartet jobs that crop up during the gorgeous autumns of Central Washington but I don't mind helping connect event planners and couples getting married with players who are available.  Even from Shanghai.  Last summer I remember fishing with my dad on the Columbia river, discussing arranging "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey with a client for later in the summer.  I don't think I mentioned to her where I was when she called!  On the other hand maybe that was just not right to take a call on that beautiful, serene place; yet as I told dad it's hard not to take a call when someone is planning their wedding and we'd been playing phone tag already from all over the planet!  As an entrepeneur himself he understood very well. Lately I have been playing quartets with flute, violin, viola and cello here in Shanghai.  Everything from Bach, to Piazzolla to Turkey in t…
An actual conversation with a sixth grader... "My fish died"  "Oh, really?  Did you have to flush it?" "Nahh.  My turtle ate it."  "How is your turtle?" "Well I don't have it any more. It grew up and got big so my mom released it to the pond by our house."

Cost of Groceries

Here's a rundown of what things still cost...local and international.  Today I bought: a package of scrubber sponges, produce bags for the fridge, 2 boxes of 5-pack facials (rose and cucumber), 2 cans of Sprite, 2 boxes of liquid orangeate, a bottle of coconut yogurt, a bag of brown sugar and a bottle of hair conditioner for about $8.  Tomorrow I'll fork out about $40 for a bunch of organic and imported groceries to be delivered right to my apartment:  a can of refried beans, extra sharp Land O Lakes cheddar, Kraft parmesan cheese, organic red potatoes, organic carrots, organic purple onion, globe artichokes, beetroot, parsley, basil, canned salmon, organic cauliflower, organic green onion and fresh mozarella cheese.  My groceries are a mixture of imported luxuries and very reasonable local ingredients.  If I never bought the import stuff and only ate at home, I could eat extremely well on about $50 a week.  But I'm in Shanghai...where there's yomocoffee.com and http:/…

Shanghai Spring

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It has turned into the wonderful period of about 3 weeks of gorgeous, comfortable weeks of weather when finally we don't need the heat on and don't yet need air conditioning.  It's a very short spring but beautiful while it lasts.  Here are a few pictures from last weekend.  My friend was visiting and it always seems I take a mini vacation myself when friends visit and see all the cool things I'd like to see but never get around to.  So the first few photos are from Qibao Old Street, one of my favorite places early in the morning; the last are of inside the Expo.  We went on the third day of it and I do recommend this experience. It is truly amazing and extremely educational. I plan to buy a multiday pass because it is just too big to see in a day; we saw maybe 20% or less walking for about 6 hours. 

endearments

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Here are a few photos from my life as of late...couldn't resist posting these two postcards from Casino, NSW Australia that Kevin gave me.  Below them is my students' rock paintings; then a special octopus soup noodles new to the Ajisen Ramen restaurant's menu.  I felt it was my lucky day also because I happened across a repairman and had one of my favorite purses with me that needed some things stitched up; then I went to a cobbler I'm trying who's on the final stage of a pair of shoes for me.  It's my first try at custom shoes!  I'm planning to go back again to him to copy a pair of sandals I wore for about 12 years which finally broke in half after how many years of repairs...haha that's one thing I love in China is that I feel I can get shoes and bags easily repaired instead of just tossing them to the Goodwill. 
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A diverson from Shanghai...I went to Australia for one week!  Here are a few pictures from down under...the land of the Southern Cross which was clear as a bell, as was the milky way from our backyard.  I loved it. I could live there, no question.  So many butterflies! 

Last Day of Lunar New Year

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Almost everyone I know has been back to work for at least a week, but since today marks the last day of the spring festival it sounds like war out again...shotguns, cannons, mortar...but really it's fabulous fireworks, everywhere, between buildings, over the traffic, SO FUN!  I love it! Went out for tea with friends this afternoon...also enjoying a mountain of fluffy ice covered by sweet red beans!  :) 

Spring Festival

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I have mentioned before how we have nonstop holidays starting around Thanksgiving...well, the holidays are about to conclude with the end of Chunjie, or Spring Festival, also known as Chinese New Year.  Tonight at midnight is the festival to welcome the return of wealth.  Zoe, Jennifer, Ryan and I had dinner together just for fun; I made my own version of Hongxiao Rou or braised pork in a clay pot; roasted root vegetables with rosemary, mushroom brown rice and a fresh salad with my dressing.  I cheated a little on dessert and went with a chocolate mousse cake from Croissants de France; Zoe enhanced the dessert offerings by tartlets from Ichido.  I had been a little nervous to prepare this food as Ryan is a pastry chef having worked in the Phillipine presidential kitchen...knowing his president personally...but he was very down to earth and fun to talk with about his experiences, including his being guarded while on duty in the kitchen!  Turns out they all acted like one big family, th…

My First Dinner Party Hosting of 2010

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Enter Joo, Ivy, Zoe and Jin.  First thing...restroom and water.  Ah, Zoe darling needed a cup of coffee.  Next we break open a bottle of Jacob's Creek Shiraz Cabernet to go with an appetizer of pumpkin pizza.  Yeah I know it sounds weird.  Just go along for now.  Next course...no next course. I give the tour of my apartment and point out Suzhou Creek, Ctrip headquarters and Songhong Road.  We argue about my plants releasing carbon dioxide while I sleep...then go into the kitchen to finish up the rice dish.  I sauteed some mushrooms and zucchini, adding a bit of salt and instant chicken granules, then about 4 cups of cooked brown rice.  This is the side to slow cooked bbq pork ribs which the butcher proudly chopped exactly opposite of what I was looking for...never mind.  And made 1 clay crock of medicinal chicken, slowly baked in huangjiu, olive oil, carrot and celery with some dates and wolfberries added in for flavor.  One big salad with homemade dressing and voila...dinner was…

Eating Adventures

Once again I ate my way through a memorable culinary weekend.Lunch on Saturday was going to be at Element Fresh, but when my friend and I arrived it was already full so we made the executive decision to go to the French restaurant Salaya nearby instead. First came pieces of fresh baguette with an olive tapenade.Next came a lovely leek and potato soup to continue to whet my appetite.Finally my grilled seabass arrived with some sautéed carrot and green beans.It was so delicious my only regret was not to have enough room for the brilliant chocolate cakes freshly baked that all of the other customers were receiving. The next event came at dinner as my Malaysian Chinese friend Joo decided to host a dinner party.She had been cooking up a storm for 3 ½ hours for 9 friends.We greedily tucked into her fresh panko prawns, herbal soup with pork, braised huangjiu chicken, curry vegetables with tofu and lady fingers (okra in American English), and a braised lettuce dish; and for dessert were brown…

Year in Review

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I finally have come up for air - sometimes it helps just to remember to breathe once in a while.  Wow does it feel good!  I really did appreciate that crisp air of the northwest for a few weeks over the holidays.  That was a good little recharge.  Now we'll see how long it lasts... Now, this is not in any particular order, but a short list of some things I am proud to have accomplished in the past year.  I need to keep this list handy because I tend to forget the past quickly.  -made it to Okinawa and snorkelled for the first time with my brother -played some fantastic jobs this year including my parents' 50th wedding anniversary party and some outstanding weddings and parties, even here in Shanghai -arranged Journey's "Don't Stop Believin' " for the quartet -got to play with a wonderful young cellist who lives in my home region -caught a wild steelhead (and turned it loose) with my dad -spent a couple of quality days with my dad -experienced a great personal lo…