Gan En Jie Zai Beijing


Thanksgiving 2005 was a surprising success. Linda purchased a 9 kilo (19 pound) frozen turkey from a Canadian man. We invited friends to our apartment, cooked the turkey, and then ate the turkey. The next day we went shopping and ate leftovers. We are still eating leftovers. Just like home, except there was nowhere in the whole of either Beijing or Shanghai to buy a can of those dried onion things for the green bean casserole.

Our House in Beijing

Dean and I have an apartment in Beijing now. It is a three bedroom, with one of the bedrooms used as a den.


Some advantages of this apartment compared to the one we had in Shanghai include:

Dishwasher – in the US, it is hard to imagine a home without a dishwasher, but in China, hardly anyone has one.

Separate washer and dryer – in China, most people have one machine that does both or just a washer. Most people here prefer to hang their clothes out to dry. Ironing is also very common as many people wear cotton clothes, especially in Shanghai. It is always easier to iron clothes that have not been dried in a dryer. My Scottish friend reports that dryers are one of the most energy sucking machines possible and suggests maybe dryers are an American thing.

20th Floor View – here in Beijing, we live in apartment number 20C. We lived on the third floor in Shanghai.

Pantry – I have never had as nice a pantry as the one I have here – great big with excellent storage including drawers and shelves.

Beijing as a City

Also see my Beijing visit page.

jindiWe are regularly asked for a comparison between Beijing and Shanghai.

Beijing is historic in a different way than Shanghai. I think Shanghai is a great place to visit for the history of western influence in China. It is a fascinating city of interesting architecture, and a city of neighborhoods, like Chicago.

Beijing has important historic and government sites for China. You visit Beijing to go to the Great Wall, one of my favorite sites in the world. You can also visit the Ming and Qing dynasty temples and palaces in Beijing. Beijing is the capital, with Tiananmen Square at its center.

Food is also very different in Beijing and Shanghai – I’ll write more about this later as food is always one of my favorite topics. Simply said, people grow and eat different foods in the North of China than the South – just because weather is different.

Shanghai is an easier city for walking, though Beijing may be a good walking city too, I just may not know any good routes.

Would I like Beijing as much as Shanghai if I lived here? I don’t know. Shanghai is vibrant, so is Beijing, but in a different way. Beijing is a center of Chinese culture, Shanghai of international culture – they feel different when you visit.


2001 Tignanello

Delivered safely by UPS and locked securely in our wine cellar by the fine folks at The LockUp. Linda confirmed delivery and said she didn’t drink any. I will double-check in December.

In the original post, I also failed to note that our wine cellar is not new to the Antinori family. Several bottles of Antinori Peppoli (a Chianti) happily reside with us, too.

Text / HTML Editor

This post was written using the free version of NoteTab. I plan to upgrade to NoteTab Standard for US$9.95. The standard version basically adds a spell checker. The text editor functions are fine – it has a nice tabbed interface which is useful for keeping open multiple documents.

There is also an HTML library with a ‘highlight and click’ function to quickly add HTML tags (i.e. text formating and such). I formatted most of this post directly in NoteTab as opposed to the WordPress text editing facility.

Thumbs up.

Ayi or Ayis

Still not clear so, for the purposes of, ayi is both the singular and plural form of ayi.

According to my tutor, my initial analysis of the different ways to describe a collection of ayi in Chinese was generally correct. My tutor, Fan Hang Ying, agreed that the ‘few’ or ‘many’ structure was acceptable (few ayi or many ayi) and also suggested the concept of an ayi ‘group’ – ayi men.

My building has a group of ayi = ‘wo de hao lou you ayi men.’

There has been much discussion about the fact that my ayi is male and therefore not technically an ayi. Fu wu yuan (kind of like helper, I guess – used most frequently for a waitress / waiter) and nan ayi (male ayi). Opinion seems divided, so since he introduced himself as ‘ayi’ I will call him ayi.

Cascading Style Sheets

I still have not received my CSS / XHTML book – I expect it this week. My vision for the photo page layout needs to be explored further. From the WordPress Codex (aka help guide), I have educated myself to the point of waiting for the book.

A WordPress page is made up of ‘parts’ – a header, a body, a footer, etc. Within a broad set of rules, you can have many different parts, all of which are highly customizable. Each part is basically a file (*.php) that describes layout and formating rules. The parts are ‘glued’ together by a style sheet (style.css) – I previously edited my style sheet to allow for basic picture formating.

To do what I want, I just need to (a) add a new part called something like picturepage.php, (b) figure out how to set the layout and formating rules I want for the new part, (c) add this new part to the style sheet, and (d) identify the rules for how to tell WordPress when to use the picturepage part versus the regularpage part.

It’s all about parts.

I estimate my chances of doing this successfully at about 50%. I did learn how to back up my WordPress site, so if I mess everything up I should be able to just start over. Again, that is a theoretical exercise at this stage, so I suggest you read everything now just in case.

Windows Error Messages in Haiku

I had a little disagreement with my laptop this morning. As usual, I lost out. After rebooting, I dug these out of the archives. Here is my latest contribution:

Meaningless message:
A memory exception
has occurred. Work gone.

Haiku poetry has strict construction rules – each poem has only 17 syllables; 5 syllables in the first, 7 in the second, 5 in the third.

Post new entries in the comments section.

The Web site you seek
Cannot be located, but
Countless more exist.

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.

Program aborting:
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask far too much.

Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.

Your file was so big.
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.

Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.

A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone.

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.

You step in the stream,
But the water has moved on.
This page is not here.

Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.

Having been erased,
The document you’re seeking
Must now be retyped.

Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.

2001 Tignanello

I am planning for my return to the US. I don’t know exactly when that will be, but naturally, one of the first items on the list is to make sure the wine cellar is stocked.

In Chicago, we have a wine cellar. Capacity is about 8 cases of wine, which is held at perfect temperature and perfect humidity. At the moment, I think the cellar is thirsty – it contains only about 5 cases of red wine. The cellar is provided by The Lock-Up, a self-storage center that converted their basement into a collection of wine cellars. We have a smallish space – some restaurants or serious collectors have spaces the size of a small room. You can have your cases delivered directly to The Lock-Up facility and they will put them in your personal cellar for you.

Linda and I returned to the US from China for Christmas 2004. Our first stop was Las Vegas. It was only a 2 1/2 week trip back to the US, so we thought it best to spend 3 days to shock our systems back to normal quickly. Plus, if you have jet lag and can’t sleep, Las Vegas is a good place to be.

Over these 3 days, we consumed massive amounts of medium-rare beef, slow baked potatoes and red wine. None of these items is available in either quality or quantity in China. One bottle we particularly enjoyed was a 2001 Antinori Tignanello, shared in the steak house at Bellagio.

Ironically, a few months later I joined a colleague in Shanghai for a wine tasting dinner at an Italian restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton complex. My colleague ate at this restaurant frequently enough for us to be seated at the head table. Also seated at our table was wine hostess Alessia Antinori, I presume (after investigation) to be the youngest daughter of Marchese Piero Antinori. She looks better in a red cocktail dress than squatting in the vineyard (second from right).


We had the opportunity to taste a variety of Antinori wines, including the Tignanello from multiple vintages. All very nice, including the 2001. I was not able to try the red cocktail dress. I have never met Antinori Senior, but do have a suspicion about his daughter’s role in the business.

tignanello To commemorate both a fantastic Las Vegas dinner with my beautiful wife and an evening with Alessia Antinori in a red cocktail dress, I ordered a case of 2001 Tignanello over the weekend. The 2001 Tignanello is a blend of 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc.

Click here to track UPS delivery status.

I have instructed Linda to (a) confirm delivery, and (b) leave the wine cellar unadulterated. I am skeptical – my wife is sometimes an adulteress – and may get a red cocktail dress for Christmas.