Linda O

Linda O
Glamorous Me

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tomorrow--home!



Well, it's not REALLY tomorrow...although it will be tomorrow here. then, somehow, through the magic of man's concept of time, I fly for more than a day and arrive home on the same day I leave. How quickly 11 days goes by when you are so busy you can hardly think! The days have flown by. Today, we have our remaining two professional meetings and a farewell banquet. I hope the banquet is over early...we have to leave for the airport tomorrow at 5:15 am!!! YIKES. I just looked at my schedule, and realize that we have to have our check-in luggage out at 11 pm tonite. Guess I'll have to restrict what I use for my morning routine--I usually put most of my makeup, etc., in my checked luggage! Oh well...I'll worry about that later.


This morning, we visit Accenture--the new name of what was once Arthur Andersen--I think. Then, we have the visit to HP, where I'll finally meet the team of writers that loosely report to me. I'm really looking forward to that.


Last night, seven of us on the delegation met with 9 folks working in techcomm who live and work here in Shanghai. Susan Wu, who has a blog at shanghaitechwriter.com (if that doesn't work, just google her!), brought some colleagues from National Instruments. One of the writers from HP was here, and an STC retiree who lives in Shanghai, Jim Edgcomb, came along with one of the native Chinese who sometimes works with him. My good friend, Melanie Flanders, joined us with her friend Sammy Huang who owns a translation company. The weather was rainy and all of us on the delegation were exhausted, so we stayed and ate at the hotel's buffet.


At the beginning of this post you can see a picture of all of us (minus Jim and Charles). It was great to talk to folks who are actually doing our work here in a country that doesn't quite understand what it is we do.
Well, gotta run. So much more to say but not time to do so now...maybe on the plane!
Luv & hugs to everyone,
Linda in Shanghai

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Update from South China

First wake-up in Guilin. We're only here a couple of days. One day culture; one day professional visits. It's a small, sleepy town compared to Beijing. And it feels just like HOUSTON! We are right across the street from a beautiful river walk. The pace feels slow, and the atmosphere is very laid back--as long as you don't think about the traffic. There's nothing like pedestrian right of way here...every time you step into the street you put your life at risk!

We're scheduled to take a river cruise today. Then, we visit a small village. First, breakfast here in the Sheraton. It's a western hotel and has a beautiful central atrium with restaurants, lobby, etc. I'm in room 2311, which will please my daughter. 23 is a good number for us! And, here, everything is about superstitions and numerology. People pay extra money to get certain numbers in their phone numbers!

It's been a whirlwind. No time to really do the blogging I had hoped to do. I barely made it to the bus in time to leave our first few days. Breakfast was me running into the restaurant and grabbing a roll or chocolate croissant and taking it to the bus. On the second day, I found the cheese, so I got something a little more substantial. The idea of sitting down to the breakfast buffet was impossible. No matter what I did, I was usually bringing up the rear. Not good for the leader of the delegation.

As many of you know, we've been having a lot of trouble getting into our livejournal blog. John Martin, who set it up, says that there's a lot of traffic on the internet about it. Apparently, the Chinese gov't has blocked it. We can access it through VPN lines, but not directly from a browser. So, the blogging there will be sketchy. Never fear, we all plan to catch up when we can!

The role of delegation leader has been amazing. I am truly the focal point of all the professional visits. Much of the time, the leading hosts will only speak to me during their speeches! They don't look around the room, they don't even act like others are in the room. It's unnerving at times. On our second day of meetings in Beijing, we visited CRD--whose definition escapes me at the moment (it's just barely 8 am Sun here & I have to be breakfasted and at the bus by 8:30).--anyway, they brought the province vice-mayor in to see me! SHE stayed only a few minutes to shake my hand and welcome us, but the event was covered by the media! I wish I knew how to find out where and how it was presented to the public--if it was. So much was incredibly formal. Lots of thank-yous and lists of accomplishments. We have had our photographs taken more this week than all the photos taken of me for my whole life. Lots of smiling and bowing and shaking hands and saying sheh sheh!

So, I have so much more to share, but as i said, I'm on a tight timeline. I'm hoping that these two days in Guilin will be a little more laid back than the first 4 in Beijing!

I'll add photos later. they take too long to upload now.

Luv,
LO

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This time I'll press Save

So, I've been in China for more than 24 hours. I wrote a blog last night and although I thought I saved it, it wasn't there this morning, so I must not have. I was pretty tired from the trip, so I'm not surprised that I lost it. Maybe the whole thing was a dream...I did doze off a few times trying to write it.

Well, the techcomm.livejournal site just isn't working for me over here, so I'll just write in my own personal blog.

Yesterday was a long day. I think I was traveling for about 32 hours. That includes waiting time. I think standing in line time should count double, but I'm having enough trouble trying to convert $USD to RMB (yuan). We flew from LAX to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific. Service was good and although the seats were uncomfortable, I did manage to sleep a little. Great movies were available. I watched two: Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Visitor. Both were good in different ways.

Thirteen of us at the same time & on same plane. In fact, People to People had two other delegations (nurses AND ground water) leaving LAX at about the same time. Groundwater folks were on our plane. Service was good, and the time really did go quickly considering that leg of the trip was 17.5 hours long! Capt said that there was a major headwind blowing from the west, so we were diverted way north. We flew across the Int'l Date Line. Surprise! (No one cared or was pinched or got a certificate, or anything!) But there was lots of room. sherry and I were at the opposites of a row with two empty seats between us. Sweet!

We got to Hong Kong at about 5:30 am on Tuesday morning (left San Diego Sunday pm). Hong Kong airport was almost deserted. Shops were closed and relatively few folks were around.

I think I went through at least 4 security checks during the day. This new knee sure gets me a lot of attention in airport security lines. Thank goodness it is doing very well!

Although the left one complained today, I was really putting it through a workout! Why?Because today I climbed on The Great Wall! What a thrill. Unfortunately, it was hazy, foggy, and even a little drizzly, so our pictures aren't as great as we would have liked. I have to download them and go through them before I can send any to you, but I'll get to that in a day or two.

I'm drifting off to sleep again...guess I need to sleep. Tomrrow is our first set of professional visits. I give the first presentation. We'll be at Peking University.

Be well and stay tuned.
BTW: Our other blog isn't working right, so this one might be all you get!

Blessings,
Linda

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Twenty-two hours to go!

Yep, just 22 short hours before I get on the first plane to head to Beijing! Let's see, SAN to LAX to Hong Kong to Beijing. I leave San Diego at 6:05 PM on 19 October, and arrive in Beijing at 11:25 am on 21 October. That whole international date line thing is a bit weird. I have no idea how long I'll actually be flying. The time changes make my head spin. But, what's even weirder is that when we come home, we leave Shanghai at 8:40 am on 31 October and I'm home in San Diego at 4:46 pm the same day! Guess that's how I get the day back that I will lose on the way over...

I remember when I used to date sailors (those details another day, another blog), they told me that crossing the international date line was reason for celebration and/or hazing...or was that the equator??? Hmmmm...goes to show how long ago that was! I can't even remember it right.

Well, I'm not ready. And, I've found something else to do to procrastinate just a little longer. Lots of things are done, but the packing is still far, far behind. I'm doing laundry. Can't pack it 'til it's clean, right? I have some piles of things all over the guest bedroom. That's my staging area and I'm hoping that by 3 o'clock tomorrow, when I have to leave for the airport, that I will be calm, cool, and collected, knowing that I have it all done and that I've forgotten nothing. Yeah, right!

I've cleaned out all the likely-to-go-bad food from the fridge, I've paid bills through the end of the month, I've got instructions ready for the dog sitter, and I think I have my traveling money figured out. I'm still putting files on my new laptop so that I'll have everything I need while I'm there. I got the car washed, and I had a mani/pedi, and I have my rides to/from the airport set up. Wish I had packed. But, nonetheless, I'm ready. Not literally...but mentally. The literal part will come.

The next time you hear from me, I'll be in China!

wan an! (good night)

Monday, October 13, 2008

L'hotel Linda and a new blog for the China trip

I'm blogging because it's been a week. A quick week! And still so much to do before I leave for China. I learned from Mary Wise, who also blogs (http://bozoette.typepad.com/red_nose/), that lists work in blogs. So, here goes:


  • Two great STC friends visited with me and stayed at L'hotel Linda on Saturday night. They had just taken a cruise to Mexico and had a 24-hour layover in San Diego before they returned to the east coast. It was fun to give them the speed tour of San Diego. Because of the Santa Ana conditions, the view from Pt. Loma was clear enough to see all the way to Arizona! (or so it seemed)
  • Had about 15 folks over Saturday night for a BBQ with the friends above plus Cheryl (my BFF) and her family and another couple who were visiting her! Ahhh, the spontaneity of life!
  • The China delegation has begun a blog just for the trip. So, if you're following this blog, you might also want to look in on http://techcommchina.livejournal.com/ from time to time. That's where we'll be posting daily journal entries about the trip. I won't be writing that one by myself, but will be one of 20 or so who will take turns being the group scribe. Should be fun. We promise to upload pictures and be as interesting as we can be!
  • Had a quiet day on Sunday. Took my buds to the airport, then had lunch with my sister, then came home to make lists. Didn't really accomplish much on any of the lists, but I did make the lists. Does that count?
  • Last night I went to the 99-cent Store. That's always fun! Had to get materials appropriate for presentation of our gifts to our Chinese hosts. I found some nice gift bags, a lot of tissue paper, and several spools of ribbon. Now, I need to figure out how to use all that to wrap 30 thumb drives, yet not take up much suitcase room. One of my duties as delegation leader is to collect gifts from all the delegates (once we get to Beijing), and combine them into gift packs that will be presented to each of our professional hosts. So, I bought gift bags for that, too!
  • I want to let all of you know about a great website that our delegation found: http://www.onebag.com/ . If you travel anywhere, anytime, you'll find something valuable at this site.
  • A few things that I have left to do: get a voltage converter; buy dog food; update instructions for pet/house sitter; gather papers, maps, journals, etc.; get SDG&E to turn on heater (it will probably get cold before I get back); go to the dentist for one last filling; tie up tons of loose-ends at work; and PACK!

So, that's it for now. Headed for work. Glad you stopped by!

Linda O

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My dear, most longest-time friend


Yesterday I had a long-overdue visit with Jean-Marie and Vicky Cercley. Jean-Marie was one of five boys who lived next door to me in a little courtyard at 13 Rue de la MaMora in Pt. Lyautey, Morocco, from 1954 until 1956. He and his twin brother, Claude, were about 4, his older brother Guy, was 5, his younger brother, Alain, was 3, and Patrick Tom was born in 1956, I think. I was the older woman next door--I was 6 in 1954. The picture to the right is of me, my mom, and my dad when we were in Pt. Lyautey. (I can't find any pix of the boys right now, but I will and I'll post them in an upcoming blog.)

My mom and dad were in their twenties and they found life-long friends in the parents of the five boys...Maurice and Hughette Cercley. At that time, Morocco was Maroc, and it was still a French territory. The city of Pt. Lyautey is now Kenitra, and I have no idea if the French/American air base where my dad was stationed is still an airbase at all. It's certainly not French or American! When the Arabs won their independence from France--I think it was in 1958 or 59, the Cercleys, like so many Maroc-born French, had to leave Morocco. They settled down in a suburb of Paris and missed Morocco every day for the rest of their lives.
Yet, somehow, the connections of that 2-year friendship have lasted long past the lives of our parents. Two years ago, I visited France and visited with Guy and Alain and their families. Patrick Tom passed away a few years ago, but the other four sons are hale and hearty and with the exception of Claude, I have seen all of them now in the past couple of years. Jean-Marie and Vicky live here in California--but north of San Francisco in Santa Rosa, and it just isn't as easy to see them as I would like. But it's definitely easier than seeing the other three in France!

So, yesterday's visit was heartwarming, information-packed, and fun. All of my family collected (my brother and his son, my sister, and my daughter) to visit with them, and although neither my brother nor my sister were born until we returned to the states, they met various members of the Cercley family over the years during visits and through letters. My mother and Hughette were sisters of the heart and loved each other as much as two sisters could love--even though they only saw each other twice after my family left Morocco. They died just a few months apart, and I like to think that they found each other wherever it is that they are now.

They both struggled to write to each other over the years. Hughette never did learn English, but my mom managed to learn enough French to translate her letters and with painstaking precision, she would share as much of our lives with Hughette through her letters as her French dictionaries would allow. In those days, trans-ocean phone calls were exhorbitantly priced, and there was no email for them to use. Airmail was their main connection with the very occasional phone call allowed for special events such as deaths, births, and announcements of upcoming visits.

My mom took me to France in 1978--three years after my dad died. We stayed with the Cercleys for several days. The stories around the dinner table were mostly about my father and the events of those precious 2 years in Morocco. Anyway, that family has always played a part in who I am and I know that I am better for them. So, Jean-Marie and his three living brothers are truly my oldest-time, dearest friends...I've known them longer than anyone else still on this planet in this plane of living. And, it fills my heart to know that they are still part of me.