Friday, October 26, 2007
Breast Cancer Awareness
The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman.
It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on 'donating a mammogram' for free (pink window in the middle). This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising.
Here's the web site! Pass it along to people you know. http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Various Asian Weirdnesses
One of the most difficult things in Asia for a Westerner to get used to is the "squat toilet". What's a squat toilet, you ask?
As you can see at right, there's no relaxing on one of these babies. You simply crouch over it and let 'er rip. Of course, if you don't get your trousers out of the way properly, they'll be in the toilet. But I guess you learn to deal with it.
Another kind'a weird thing about the Asian scene is their enjoyment in Cosplay. Cosplay means "costume play". It's just like with little kids playing dress up ("I'll be the doctor, you be the patient.") except that they're adults doing it. One of the most popular cosplay's in town was the Cosplay Cafe where all the waitresses were dressed up like sexy French maids. Dylan would just love this place.
I guess the Hooter's Girl isn't enough. The waitress also has to be stereotypically subservient too. Go figure. One maid (called Meido in Japanese) took about 5-10 minutes to stir this one dude's tea. He was loving every minute of it. Normally, waitresses do not get tips, but they do at Meido cafe's - good tips.
Evidently, they do all sorts of obsequious things for their customers like squeeze the ketchup onto the plate. On the other hand, that might be someone's idea of great service, but don't ask me. I think it's a little odd.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
is such an amazing city. It's unique in very many ways. It is both multi-lingual (English and Chinese are both official languages) and mutli-cultural, with Chinese, Malaysian, and India populations plus Europeans. Chinese is the majority ethnicity, but I didn't meet a single person, from cab-drivers to business people, who didn't speak English. In fact, most people watch American television programs and listen to American pop radio. (The view from the Quest Software offices at right.)
It's an extremely wealthy city with modern high-rises everywhere. (I sometimes wondered if it's wealth could be traced back in any way to its enthusiastic consumerism. In Japan, most goods are still sold in small mom & pop shops. Japan's not very consumer-oriented and its economy has been stagnant for decades. In Singapore, there's a huge mall on every other block, complete with a Gap, Benetton, Starbucks, etc. And they're packed!)
Yet it is also a very tiny city-state that takes no more than 45 minutes to drive from one end of the island to the other. Basically, it's a country about the size of Nashville.
Although I was there for only a few days, I had the chance to see some really interesting things, entirely due to the effort of my colleagues at Quest to take me touring. Thanks Clara and Jo Lee! I was able to see the temple section of town where there's a big Hindu temple, an ornate Buddhist temple (notice the reverse swasticas in the earlier picture? they are still a holy symbol in the orient), and a large Christian church all in a row. It's very interesting to pass by the Hindu and Buddhist temples where people are actually making offerings and praying to their gods' idols.
As the picture at left shows, there's a right way to pray and a wrong way to pray. The right way to pray is to clasp the incense or flower offering in both hands and then raise it to your forehead while standing erect. As you repeat the prayer or go through the various elements of your prayer, you raise and lower your hands throughout. The bigger the prayer, the more incense or flowers you should be offering.
The Singaporean government controls things through prices. Don't want a lot of cars you say? How 'bout a double-the-price tarrif! A Nissan Maxima costs $80,000 there.
We had two big presentations while I was there and, I hope, brought in a lot of new leads to the sales team there in Singapore. It was great meeting the team there and I hope to go back some day.
They've already suggested that I might come back next year and also speak at our other big offices in Asia - Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and Bangkok in Thailand. Well, if that happens, then I plan on taking asome vacation when I'm there!
Labels: Experiences, Travel
Saturday, October 13, 2007
The Aussie Bush and other various plagues
After Sydney, I headed out to speak at Charles Sturt University in the teaming metropolis of Wagga Wagga. It's about the size of Pulaski Tennessee and in the middle of BFE, in other words, the Australian outback aka "the bush".
The airport at Wagga (they don't say it's 2nd Wagga for some reason) shown at right is about as big as a large IHOP or Shoney's and attended by the same sorts of people. In the picture at right, you can see a BOGAN
kid in the foreground wearing the uniform of his favorite Aussie Rules team
and the big Aussie rules football. It's a fun game to watch and, much to my surprise, I found out that even the fans don't know what the heck is going on most of the time. And I thought it was just me...
As I mentioned, Wagga is in the middle of the bush. It's pretty country out there and, being October, means it's early spring. The nights were very cold and we nearly ran over "roos" or "skippies" every night. They're a lot like deer in that the Aussies put up Roo Crossing signs to remind you to be careful not to run one of 'em over as your cruising down those lonely roads on a dark night.
Everything was just starting to bloom and that included the insects. I learned about the "Aussie Salute" there in Queensland. The Aussie Salute is when you have to constantly wave your hands around your face to keep all the flies off. These are no ordinary North American fliest that buzz off once swatted at. These Aussie flies are drunk, hooligan soccer fan flies that go straight for your eyes, nostrils, and mouth AND WILL NOT LEAVE. The fact that we were having a big Australian-style bar-b-que only encouraged them to bring their friends and family to pester us too. There'd be literally 100's of these black demons buzzing around and, heaven forbid you should slow down in your stride, because they'd settle in on you in droves. For some reason, they seemed to like dark clothes better than light clothes. So I stuck to the lighter colors.
There were about 200 people at the event in Wagga - 50 for the security sessions and 150+ for the SQL Server sessions. There were a couple dozen sessions and ALL of the Aussie SQL Server MVPs were there. I, personally, had two sessions - one was early on day one and the other was the very last session of day two. Consequently, I couldn't get away from the little town to do anything touristy - not that Wagga has a lot of tourist attractions.
I did enjoy the opportunity to sit in on other speaker's sessions and to learn some new things about SQL Server. I also enjoyed getting to meet a fellow named Rob Gurr. Rob showed me the ropes of rural Australia and introduced me to some fine Aussie brews, as well as an excellent Aussie candy/mint called, well, Minties. I'm bringing a bag home for the girls. I also resolved to get Emily a top quality Aussie hat called an Akubra - the keep the flies off and are incredibly durable.
I'm also very thankful to Greg Lowe and his wife Mai for organizing the event and inviting me to come speak. I didn't realize it at the time, but I turned into the celebrity speaker and, when the local TV news crew came down to report on the big IT event in their little rural town, I was the one who they interviewed, all the while trying to keep the flies from eating my head. LOL!
One thing that was interesting about Wagga was, even though it was a tiny town, it had 5-8 very active pubs with live music and big crowds. All the Aussies tell me that country life revolves around the pubs. And the pub is where most everyone goes to relax and enjoy time with other folks.
Well, it's time to run. Best regards,
Labels: Experiences, Travel
World Famous Sydney
Everyone recognizes the world famous Sydney
opera house. I consider myself a lucky duck to have taken a harbor ride right next
to the darned thing. The only thing that could be cooler than seeing a world famous landmark is to see a world famous landmark in the arms of someone you love. (sigh...)
I was really fortunate to be able to dine with several friends from Quest - James Delve, Prasant Moorthy, and Vanessa Barcellona. We road a JetCat from the pier right next to the Opera House out to Manly, a very posh suburb of Sydney. There, we ate at a very good restaurant called "Ribs & Rumps" where I was tasted "roo" for the first time. (And NO, despite what the name might make you think, Ribs & Rumps was NOT a strip club!) The kangaroo was cooked medium and was heavily covered in sauce, which was a good thing considering how dry the meat was. It's an incredibly lean meat with a bit of chew and a somewhat stringier texture than beef. It reminded me most of venison.
Someday, I'll be able to explore the city at a leisurely pace and enjoy all that Australia's first city has to offer.
Labels: Experiences, Travel
Brisbane, the Gold Coast of Australia
As Florida is to us Southerners, so Brisbane is to Australians. It's the fun, sunny, beach-laden place to go for a vacation. It's also hot and humid as can be.
was one of the original penal colonies that the Brits set up to house convicts from England back in the day. Now, it's a beautiful and thriving city. To the left is a picture of the Story Bridge, one of only three bridges of this size that can be walked across on the very top girders (with a tour guide and carabiner lines for safety). You can also make out the "CityCat" high-speed ferry boat that's plying the river.
I only had about 24 hours in the city. So after getting checked in to the hotel and dropping off my bags, James Delve and I strolled down to the riverfront area by the Brisbane River to enjoy a meal. Of course, Australians don't tip their waiteres and waitresses. Consequently, the service is terrible. But the views were spectacular.
The river also has some very nice paddle boats, called River Queens, that ply the waters. Strangely, Brisbane can go from sunny and clear to raining and chilly in very short order. It started sunny, clouded over and rained, cleared, and then rained again all in one day while I was there. I hear that in summer the weather is more stable.
I've heard that the women of Brisbane are the most babe-tacular of all Australia. Unfortunately, I didn't get to check it out at the beaches where all the action happens. But just walking down the street is certainly a great experience. (grin)
Labels: Experiences, Travel
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Canberra, The Capital of Australia
I had the pleasure of flying in to the rather quiet and small of capital, Canberra, on a sunny and warm spring day. (Don't forget that the seasons are reversed south of the equator. That means spring is in October and fall starts in April.) Upon arriving, I got to see a one person protest that Australia hadn't yet signed the Kyoto Accord for global warming as well as the buildings of state.
The following morning (today), I spoke to a a crowd of about 50 about SQL Server performance tuning, benchmarking, and best practices. I really enjoyed the folks there and met many interesting people. My Quest colleagues tell me that a crowd of 50 is extremely good for Canberra, since everyone is usually hard at work and won't take time off for seminars or workshops.
While I've taken many photos of the city myself, I noticed another photographer who did the city justice in his photos. Since I was a business traveler and not as much of a tourist, my photos were rather hurried. Take a look at the slide show to get an idea of what the city is like.Canberra, Australia - The Scenic Capital of Australia
Labels: Experiences, Travel
Friday, October 05, 2007
Off to Australia
Tomorrow, I leave for almost two weeks of business in Australia, the land Down Under. I be delivering a series of seminars about SQL Server in most of the major cities around the country.
After about 20 hours of travel, I arrive in Melbourne and then make subsequent stops in Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney, Wagga Wagga, and then back to Melbourne. After these stops, I visit Singapore for two days and then return home via Tokyo, Japan. Whew! I'm tired just thinking about it.
If you're looking for a sense of scale, the country is very nearly as large as the lower 48 states of the USA.
Labels: Experiences, Travel
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Is this the face of a Murderer?!?
One of Emily's friends hosted a murder-mystery party where one of the guests did the "murdered" another guest and everyone at the party had to figure out who the murderer was based upon the clues that each guest brought with them.
It you haven't guessed, the party was set in the 1920's and Emily was a flapper/cigarette girl. She was also a total knock-out. Hey, Emily, do me a favor and don't look so grown up, ok?
Monday, October 01, 2007
All of the kids have enjoyed having their fall break these past couple weeks. I had to work and, not being able to entertain them, had to deal with constant complaints of "I'm bored!" Anna Lynn had the funny experience of going in for an adjustment to her braces, and one of her teeth popped out. The tooth-fairy had to give her a little extra since the tooth had extra "bling" attached to it for her braces.
The girls were also really excited to get a chance to see Conner's chinchilla, Marty. It reminds me of a pikachu, a very nervous pikachu. Naturally, the girls love it and want one of their own. On the other hand, that doesn't prevent our own little pet hamster from being the cutest darn critter on the planet.
I'm not sure if I ever saw the hamster's cheeks so full!
Labels: Experiences, Kids