Saturday, February 25, 2012
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Running Sightseeing in OsakaI am on my next RTW trip. I arrived in Asia and passed through Seoul and Manila, before I touched down in Osaka to stop over for the night before going on to Tokyo because it's a holiday here on Monday.
Despite only 13 hours of layover, I managed to get a good Sushi dinner, go dancing, go sightseeing in parts of downtown including Osaka Castle from the outside and get nearly one hour of exercise.
Apparently, I didn't sleep a lot, but the trick was to go running and sightseeing at the same time, which was fairly easy in the empty city at 5:30am on a holiday. I ran along a river (which looked greener than it really was - photo) and ended my trip on Osaka castle hill among early morning Taichi practitioners.
A great experience, and the adequate answer to the Japanese 'Europe in 7 days'!
Flying out from the new Kansai airport, build on an artificial island in the middle of Osaka bay, was also an experience, though I was a bit disappointed from the architecture by Renzo Piano, the terminal building was big, but somewhat dull and unexciting from the user experience, not the mention the standard grey of most Japanese infrastructure installations and the flood of painsaikingly colored signs everywhere.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
We started off in Maastricht where we staid with our friends Yuri and Steve and their beautifully renovated home. we learned about the history of Limburg, a small catholic enclave with their own language in the very South of the country, so small that if you start running you are crossing the Belgian border within some 15 minutes. We also saw a lot of very interesting pieces of remodeling of old cloisters, e.g. into a hotel, an archive or even a bookshop.
After stops in Eindhoven, Rotterdam, and Den Haag then some days in beautiful Amsterdam again. Meeting up with AC friends (Eric, Michiel, Mirenchu was there) and making new friends.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
It's Raining Men in Munich
Juan and I went to the beautiful 'Mueller'sche Volksbad', an Art Deco public bath similar to its famous sibbling in Budapest, but just a few steps away from John and Salih's place where we are staying. We went to the Roman-Irish steam bath and took a swim in the large swimming hall.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Back from a Terrific ReunionAtlantic College in Wales. It was great to re-connect with so many interesting and smart people from all around the world.
Attending together with Juan I also realized how privileged I have been to attend this United World College school in 11th Century, Hearst-upgraded St Donats Castle at the Atlantic seashore of the Bristol Channel.
Photostream is here.
Now on FacebookTriggered by the Atlantic College Reunion 85-87 I have joined Facebook. If you are on it and my friend, please let me know and us connect!
Monday, July 30, 2007
In Munich at John and Salih's Placenew course through the English Garden, starting right from Praterinsel opposite to our host's place.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
... and Back to EuropeI have been so bad in blogging, but I thought you might get tired of my travel stories, orbiting like a satellite around the globe. Since returning to the U.S. from England in May I have done another round the world trip (Asia/Europe) and now I am again on my way to Europe, this time for a few weeks staying and working from there, while seeing family and friends and attending my 20th year reunion of Atlantic College in Wales.
First stop is in Chicago (induced by the limited availability of free mileage flights in the peak holiday season), where we will hang out in Belmont tonight with friends.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Via Good Old Europe back to the US
Spending a nice weekend in London to see family and friends including a trip to the Kent countryside with my brother (picture: Canterbury Cathedral).
Before that, meetings in Madrid, Munich, Singapore, Beijing and Tokyo - all went very well and smooth. It was great to fell 'home' in most if not all of these places.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Finally on the road again, giving me an incentive to blog. With some problems, because blogger.com will only offer me a Korean UI while in Korea. Well, I gather it's a good way to learn Korean...
This time I had much better access to Korea, its market, people and culture than on my prior visits. Having figured out the basics, I could, with the right introductions, meet a host of interesting people who can help us to further our interests in this comparatively small, but thriving and attractive country. Attractive because it is similarly structured like Japan, where we have huge success - with the right connections and people on the ground.
Among others I enjoyed meeting with Eun-Chul Lee, who won a gold medal in riffle shooting at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. He was quick to point out that he never killed anything or anybody other than a spider that has crept into the target (in the light of the VT shooting).
I learned something very good from him: "He said you can shoot 10s if you learn to shoot tens. You'll shoot 9s, if you learn to shoot nines. Most people learned to shoot 9s. I learned to shoot tens." Consequently he set the olympic world record in riffle shooting.
I think this is a very profound statement and good guidance from him and his teacher.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Award NightAward nights with friends: a good show, surprises and lots of fun. Of course my ballot didn't win.
I had hoped that Babel made it best picture (you MUST see it, I loved it), while I wasn;t totally in love with the "Departed" which scored 4 Oscars incl. best picture and best director.
I am also happy that the Germans (rightfully) won an warad for best foreign language film with "The Lives of Others", a great, perhaps 30 mins too long movie about the spying of the East German police on its citizens. I watched it here in SF a week ago and it was great! Watch the trailer!
Monday, February 05, 2007
Race Season 2007 StartedThe KP Half Marathon opened my personal 2007 racing season, with a personal record in the 1:46hr. range. A great course through GG park (along the Japanese tea house and De Young museum - picture) and a long stretch along the Great Hwy (all the way from Lincoln to the SF Zoo and back).
A breakfast with co-running friends in Sunset before hanging out at a Superbowl party.
Next races that I am scheduled for are
- 10M Waterfront race on 3/4
- Bay-to-Breakers on 5/20
- SF Marathon (1st Half) on 7/29
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Silicon Valley Rises AgainThis eWeek article on the recent boom in Silicon Valley offers some amazing statistics:
- SV is an ethnically very diverse region (second only to Miami in the US)
- ...has one of the most global workforces, with 40 percent born outside of the United States
- 48 percent of the population speak a language other than English at home
- 40 percent of its population has a bachelor's degree (the most highly educated region in the US)
- Over half (55 percent) of its science and engineering talent was born abroad, well over double that of the United States at large (20 percent)
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Sundance 2007: Skiing, Movies, FriendsOK, it was maybe a bit too much of travels, but it was so much fun: Only 3 days after my return to CA we sneaked out to Utah to attend the Sundance film festival with Stanford buddies over a long weekend: 2 beautiful skiing days in Deer Valley (blue sky, sufficient snow, excellent service), 8 exciting movies and 15 friends!
My 2 favorite movies were:
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Hong Kong FinalsA peaceful day of sports and recreation ended my four week stay in Hong Kong and a busy and intense all-hands company meeting during the last week. After a long night of sleep, I went to run on the Happy Valley horse race tracks (photo), went to the gym and got myself a long massage. The final dinner in a simple, nice noodle shop somewhere on the East of the HK island with those of the company who were still around. I then hang out in Central and said goodbye to all those nice friends and acquaintances who have made this stay very memorable indeed. The return flight was only 11h short (thanks to tailwinds), uneventful and quite relaxing (due to emergency exit row seating).
Friday, January 12, 2007
db4o Meeting in Hong KongI think the intense, week-long meeting in Hong Kong from 1/8 to 12 was an important milestone in our company's history, building foundations for years to come. While we also discussed short-term planning such as the product roadmap 2007 and adaptations of our business processes to reflect our growth, the most important results were IMO the personal bonds which developed between the 25 participants from all 5 continents and the reinforcement of our core values openness, agility in the pursuit of quality and excellence, and diversity, especially with respect to other cultures.
Sure enough, it is quite time-consuming and exhausting to discuss many details in a full week of meetings, but I cannot think of any better way to get so much information out of so many relevant heads in such a short time, to make so many fundamental decisions while achieving buy-in, alignment, and motivation at the same time. And then: We only have meetings twice a year. I think every staff member in a conventional company easily spends more than a total of 10 days (80 hours) in meetings per year.
Above all, it is a real pleasure to work with all these bright people from so many different backgrounds, to learn from them and to see them grow. The local team members did an awesome job to make our visit in an already exciting city even more memorable.
Monday, January 01, 2007
Happy New Year 2007!A wonderful walk with friends over sunny Lantau island and a late and long lunch at the South African/Mediterranean Restaurant "Stoep" opened 2007. If this first day was indicative, it will be a great year!
2006 ended with food, party, friends and work-out at the gym in HK, the last minute being experienced at the HK convention center promenade waiting for a firework which didn't take place (it's just a Western tradition you know - wait for Chinese NY!)...
All the best to you, your family and friends for a healthy, prosperous and peaceful year to come!
Friday, December 29, 2006
Hong Kong HistoryWhile cut off the digital world (see below), I finally found some time to read the highly recommendable "Modern History of Hong Kong" by Steve Tsang on our sunny roof terrace in the midst of crowded HK Central.
The book is very well structured, well written and does a great job of keeping the academic stuff in footnotes at the end of the book to not disrupt the reading pleasure.
Staying in this amazing city with such a short yet turbulent history while reading about it was a great experience. It is a wonderful case how knowledge totally shifts your frame of mind, how you suddenly see the same things and people around you with totally different eyes, starting from street names to the faces of Chinese inhabitants, e.g. when you start to guess in which wave of immigrations did a given person come to HK which was just a barren island of 6,000 fishermen 170 years ago?
Also, it is amazing to see how deliberate history is and how much of it is, while driven by the balance of power between Britain and China, totally incidental and fragile.
Many of the founding and constituting principles of this phenomenon resonate very well with my own: Rule of law, entrepreneurial spirit, flexibility, global outlook.
All this certainly made Hong Kong more attractive to me, both through identification with (some of) its values as well as through familarity.
Taiwan Quake Freezes PixelsOld dependencies fade away, new dependencies arise for the mobile work and lifestyle: When the earth shook three times on the night of the 26th, making our building tremble and the wine gently swing in the glasses, we figured from earthquake watch that the epicenter of the 7.1 quake had been more than 500km away from our present location on HK island, so we didn't expect any further impacts - until I fired up my e-mail the next morning to take up my work after the Christmas holidays... Nothing. Opening websites? Nothing. Only local websites (and soon Google and some websites in Australia and NZ) were accessible.
Today, 3 days later, things have improved slightly but are still not normal (yahoo.com is still inaccessible, for the third day in a row). Blogger.com started to work a few hours ago, but I am not sure whether it is because the lines have been fixed/rerouted or whether the upcoming weekend has simply reduced the traffic within the limited pipes available.
The quake damaged 6 out of 7 submarine cables through the southern tip of Taiwan, which is apparently the lifeline to HK (rather than the PRC). News report that it may take weeks for the lines to be fixed, but rerouting was underway. Links to (westbound) worked considerable better (incl. db4o.com's own website) than (eastbound) U.S. based sites.
Well, the quake gave me a better understanding for the Internet's geography and better skills in surfing baidu.com. I didn't know that the web was so vulnerable by being concentrated in certain hotspots which intelligently enough also happen to be the most seismically active regions of the world.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Shenzhen FrenzyThe first week in Hong Kong has passed already and was concluded with a daytrip to neighboring mainland-China Shenzhen city, a 12M metropolis which used to be a fishing village only 30 years ago.
Though only 30km away from HKG downtown (unfortunately for the air pollution spillover) it is still a ~2 hrs. passage to take local transportation and the KCR trains or direct busses, because you have to cross both the HK and the Chinese border. Also, if you don't have it already, you need to obtain a mainland China (or a special 5 day Shenzhen only) visa at the border post, which costs between HK$ 300 (US$40).
At Shenzhen I had the pleasure to have lunch with our local team in a very nice seafood restaurant. We cheered on a successful launching year of db4o in China and were bullish on the opportunities for 2007.
Before and after lunch we went to some of the huge IT shopping malls (picture), where you can buy a lot of cheap commodity electronics but no "latest" gadgets (better to get those in HK, SIN or Taipeh). The visit was well worth it. You walked through never ending halls of little stands selling computers or - mostly - parts. One could get a fresh, cheap and assumingly illegal copy of Windows Vista directly from the copy station.
Like the entire city, it was full of people whereever you looked. Everybody was busy, and people's faces looked very tired (though it was a sunny Saturday).
We concluded the day with a relaxing massage in the Shangri-La Club, a very nice and clean facility with a big spa, body rub, 2 hrs massage, relaxation and food - a full afternoon pleasure for only US$20 per head.
Back in Hong Kong in the evening felt like coming home, though. So civilized and Western... compared to the Shenzhen frenzy.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Settled in Hong KongAs part of my personal globalization efforts I have moved to HK for a month to find out how it is to live here.
I rented a service apartment in a nice area in Central (Hollywood Rd), conveniently located to the major (OK, OK: expat) venues incl. the Central escalator, Lang Kwai Fong, California Fitness, bars and restaurants.
Yesterday an extensive walk up to the peak (some nice pics here).
So far, work is going fine, though, of course, the time zone is a bit inconvenient for me and my business partners in the US and EU.
Other than that, life is very nice. Meeting with several friends and acquaintances over the weekend, and making new friends. Tonight dinner with Stanford classmate JNO (it's his B-day tomorrow), tomorrow classical music concert, Friday another dinner with friends, Saturday lunch in Shenzhen with business friends, and so on.
The biggest preoccupation here is space. It is just extremely tiny everywhere and you constantly run into people (literally). I think if you can't afford a large apartment (and it has gotten really expensive again), you'll probably suffer claustrophobia, esp. when you arrive from the US, the supersize country.
Weatherwise we have been extremely lucky: Apparently it was rainy until we came, now we have 3 days of blue sky and temperatures around 18C (65F). And the moment we left SF, the temperature there dropped to the low 40s, I hear.
The air pollution is not so bad this time, but that's probably a function of the wind direction and can change any time.
The food is great, though I eat much less and less frequently while I am here. Also, the food doesn't lend itself so much to alcohol, so in fact, Saturday, though having been clubbing from 10pm to 4am in the morning, I have been drinking only one Gin Tonic (part of my admission to pp) and (my newest discovery) Tonic water and Chai for the rest of the entire evening. Very healthy!
The Internet connection is decent, though a little slower than in the Valley. Some websites seem to be particularly slow, e.g. a German banking site where we have the online banking of ODBMS.ORG. Perhaps they block/filter access from China?
I love the Octopus card/payment system - so convenient - and the ability to shop/eat any time of the day or night (downtown, that is, as opposed to 24 hrs. Safeway shopping in the urbs in the US).
Oh, and, of course, HK is the big shopping town. I personally prefer Singapore, but it is still great and I have replenished some of my wardrobe. IT shopping is still to come, I just need to wait for my next paycheck to clear... ;-)
Allright, I keep you posted about more insights of this concept trip "live in HK like the locals do".
Friday, December 08, 2006
Via Europe, back to US - ready to go to Asia!Last week in Europe, this week in the US, East and West Coast, all driven by the db4o 2007 roadshow which has now come to an end.
In Europe (Munich, Paris, Berlin and London) also meeting with friends and family, e.g. in the Grissini (picture).
On the East Coast OMG meeting in D.C. and roadshow in Boston. Cool but sunny.
On the West Coast several meetings and holiday parties before...
going to Hongkong on 12/15 for 1 month, enjoying Christmas there, working and attending the db4o Developer Meeting in the second week of January. This stay is part of my concept to live in several homes at the same time. Now trying out whether HKG is a good location to host the Asian one.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Friday, November 24, 2006
I am now wrapping up my 2 1/2 weeks of trip through Asia as part of the db4o Roadshow 2007 to present the new version 6.0 to users and customers and touch base with local communities and the press.
The first half week I stayed in Tokyo, Japan, where we had a roadshow event
and visited several customers - (more) interesting projects coming up there.
The second week I toured China with a short stop in Seoul, South Korea. In China we made three very successful roadshow stops in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, thanks to the excellent preparation of the local community. We also signed the contract with our first Chinese commercial customer to run the power grid of Shenzhen, the city next to Hong Kong, with a SCADA systen based on db4o.
The last week was focussed on India to meet our local team in Pune, to meet customers and users and to speak at FOSS.IN, India's premier open source conference. It was a well attended event and I spoke to some 500 attendees to "How we fix the software industry with open source". I also liked the Ghandi-style tents where we held our BOFs...
Next week in Europe to continue the roadshow in Munich, Paris, Berlin and London.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Running the Golden Gate Bridge
A beautiful run over GG bridge yesterday in early morning sunshine.
I achieved a new PR of 1:49:29, exactly 137 secs faster than last year (1:51:46). I post the pictures as I get them.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
SpeechlessAparently my last blog post on the pope in Germany has left me speechless...
But I am still alive. Getting ready to run the U.S. Half (over GG bridge) next Sunday, before leaving town to Tokyo on Tuesday, then through Asia (Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Singapore, Pune, Bangalore, Bangkok) and Europe (Munich, Paris, Berlin, London) back to the U.S.. 2 days later I leave again for D.C. and Boston, and it'll be only another week until I leave for 1 month to spend our Christmas Holidays (and the db4objects company meeting) in Hong Kong between 12/15 - 1/14. Oh, and when I am back I think I need to go to the Sundance film festival in Utah, don't I? Crazy? Of course! Fun? Sure enough!
Sunday, September 10, 2006
German OptimismPope Benedict has arrived in his (and my) home town Munich, Bavaria.
A frontline report from a friend back there:
"Munich is upside down. Those who love him are afraid not to be close to enough to him. The others, who show no interest for him, are irritated because the whole city will be out of control for 3 days."
It's really difficult to make Germans happy!
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Flickr now geo-taggedFlickr now allows geo-tagging pictures, cool stuff:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/christof/map/ (only available to friends & family)
Note that there may be several pages for a given map.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
49ers vs San Diego Chargers
It was helpful to have some native North Americans around, so they could help me to understand that there's no homerun in American football but only in baseball (oh, that's a different game?)
Oh, and I should have picked the red (49ers!), not the blue sweater...
The 49ers won anyway 23-14.
Thanks to Mark for the tickets!
Monday, August 28, 2006
Celebrating California - Wine Country
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Back in CaliforniaAfter over 7 weeks of travel in Europe and Asia I am finally back home in California. It was a great trip with lots of good business progress, and also fun, experience, good food, nice people, and the like.
I am thinking more and more about how one can live in a flat world, i.e., in several places, continents, at the same time. I am now trying to be regularly in a couple of "Hub" cities, tiered into 3 classes:
- Tier A: "Home" (where I have a physical presence)
- San Francisco
- Thinking of adding a city in Asia, probably Hong Kong or Singapore
- Tier B: Visit 3-4x a year, with friends, business, and basic infrastructure in place
- Tier C: Be there with little setup costs
- New York
- Beijing or Shanghai
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Pavements of Beijing
Evening visit to Beijing opera (finally - the first time it was closed due to SARS, the next time I was only one day in eijing), very nice.
Business meetings on Tuesday, and time out with Yan Zhu from Stanford, before leaving for Japan on Wednesday.