loren Eric Swanson: November 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

Hanging out in the capital for a couple days

We left Andy and Natalie's place and took a trainride to the big city. It's been so relaxing. Andy and Nat scored an apartel 24 floors above the city and we are a 5 minute walk from McDonald's where the coffee is excellent. Through the technology of Slingbox we all watched the ASU-USC game live (complete w/ nachos and salsa) via Andy's computer hooked up to the TV screen. Slingbox allows you to synch your computer with your TV back home so you can watch every channel you receive at home any place in the world...that has a high speed connection. While baby Jenda napped Andy and I caught a subway for the forbidden city. Sure enough, the city is laid out in a true North-South orientation. Then, last night we went celebrated Thanksgiving Diner at the Outback. It's been a short trip but a good trip--hanging out with Andy and Nat, bonding with baby Jenda. Today we go back to Colorado.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Everybody loves Jenda

One thing Liz and I noticed is that as cute as we think Jenda Zoe is, our admiration is matched by the Chinese. Everybody wants to give her a couple of hugs--especially the "nai-nais"--the grandmas. Occasionally, when at McDonald's, people give her votive offerings of fries or nuggets on her tray, hoping the little golden one will answer their prayers. Many rub her head for good luck. On the train to Beijing people gave her fruit and nuts!

Chinese Souvenirs

China has some great souvenirs. Wouldn't you love to have these in your back yard? Especially the last photo of the Communist Dream Team--Engles, Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao.

Innovations...so far

In the November 12, 2007 edition of Newsweek, there was a very interesting article entitled,

Google Goes Globe-Trotting; To train a new generation of leaders, the search giant sends young brainiacs on a worldwide mission. The story was about sending fourteen 20-somethings on a sixteen day worldwind tour of four cities around the world. "This sort of enterprise was exactly what Google was hoping for when it began the Associate Product Manaagers program five years ago. Earlier attempts to hire veterans from firms like Microsoft had awful results. "Google is so different that it was almost impossible to reprogram them into this culture," says CEO Eric Schmidt." One of their tasks was to shop and see what best innovative things they could buy for a set amount of money. The winners were awarded prizes.
This got me thinking about innovations as we arrived in China. The two things I have discovered are rather low-tech but clever ideas nonetheless. The first comes from McDonalds. Rather than putting drinks in those molded cardboard trays, which bend under the weight of a couple of drinks, the Chinese put softdrinks into narrow plastic bags so they always stay upright and are easy to carry.

The second innovation was something I saw last night when Andy, his friend and I went out for more wantons and then wandered across the street to watch the noodle maker. All the patrons of that restaurant were served with bowls that had plastic liners. This allows the restaurants to use the bowls over and over again without ever having to wash them. Admitedly this is a big gross and it sort of feels like "safe eating" but eating out of a bowl without a liner doesn't mean that the bowl is washed and sterilized between usings!
Another innovation--probably centuries old, are the thick quilts hanging at the entrance of the shopping center--to keep the warm in and the cold out. They would be slightly better if they were clear--like at the supermarket meat cooler because a lot of folks bump into each other but these quilt panels are as good as a revolving door.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wonton soup and shopping