Friday, September 10, 2010

Shanghai | Yunnan gonna believe this | Sept 10 2010

It always surprises people - including myself - that I can troubleshoot technologies I don't even know better than people who have built their careers in that field. I troubleshoot better than you ** Maybe not quicker, but better. Get used to it. Case in point, my first night in Shanghai, I was awoken around 1:30am by what I can only describe as a single beep. By the time I woke up (this can be measured in milliseconds), it had stopped. Quickly I fell asleep again, only to be awoken by a very loud but short beep about an hour later. What the?? Did I hear that on my left or my right? Where did it come from? About another 45 mins later when it happened again, I moved the battery-operated alarm clock to the furthest part of the room. About a half hour later I moved the tv remote. Another half hour later I cursed and cranked up the A/C hoping to drown out the next beep. An hour later I tried to pretend I didn't hear it. The last thing I wanted to do was get dressed, turn on the lights, call, and wait for the graveyard shift engineering department to tear the room apart. In the morning, after I eventually had to do those things anyway in order to go to work, I called in an engineering request. In the evening when I returned home, there were no notes or any sign that anybody had been there. I changed to get ready to go to dinner, and stopped by the front desk to check on the status of my beep diagnostic inquiry. They told me to go back to my room and wait for an engineer. When you're hungry and tired, the last thing you want to do is wait for engineering. But the really last thing you want is to hear a beep at 1:30 in the morning. So I waited. Eventually engineering called - they had searched my room but didn't find the beep. Did they check the thermostat? "Not sure, but I can't have my engineer wait around an hour for a beep". Have you ever heard of this happening before? Could it be the tv? "Has it happened now while you were waiting in your room?" No but it only occurred between 1:30am and 5:30am. "I'm sorry sir, just call back if it happens again". Dammit!
Before bed, I searched under the bed, inside all the drawers, thinking somebody left behind a cell phone or battery-operated device. Nothing. Then I called in my wake-up call, and a few seconds after hanging up, heard something you would agree is a beep. It's not the ring the phone makes when you're getting your wake-up call. Apparently this phone also has a beeping device of some kind. Friends, I really wanted to know if this was the same beep, so I went to bed just as I did the night before. At around the same time, I got the same beep! Unplugging the phone and throwing it on the floor was not only satisfying, but also stopped any further beepage. In the morning, I swapped phones with one on the other end of the room because if I'm gonna school this hotel on how to track down beeps, I want to be able to tell them if it's the phone or the phone line. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion from beep central!

In this blog, I'm purposely not discussing my work - the business part of this business trip - but I do want to point out one thing. My entire company - all 50 of us - some more than others - have been working tirelessly for over a year to produce something in China that absolutely needs to succeed. In the end, it would have all fallen apart if I didn't drink a beer today. My buying a Carlsberg beer in a bar in Shanghai saved the whole project. I'm just sayin.

Today work wrapped up at 7pm on the lounge floor of a restaurant and lounge. If it sounds like all I do during my work and personal time is go to bars and restaurants, you're not too far off! My mouth was watering from the smells wafting from the kitchen and I couldn't wait to wrap up. It didn't take long to decide where to eat: one floor down at a Yunnan folk cuisine restaurant. It was a really spectacular experience, from the Yunnan vegetable spring rolls to the Miao Tribe prawns to the Yunnan pu-erh tea. Even the bathroom was a labrynth. A++

Tonight I decided to walk home from The Bund. I had a rough idea which direction the hotel was, and just started walking. I can tell you this recent phenomenon of bang ye is absolutely true. I passed no less than 6 older and somewhat bulbous Asian gentlemen with their shirts pulled up. And that's without looking around. 6 literally walked right past me.

Passed signage for a mall including 3rd floor Pearls City, 4th floor Porcelain Expo, and not to be outdone now or ever, 6th floor Future Store!! This I had to see! Took the escalator up to the 4th floor, walked up to the 5th, and asked around about the mysterious 6th floor. "6 floor closed" I was told. Apparently the future store is so exclusive you need either climbing gear or a time machine to get there. Stay tuned, I'll check on the continuing developments of this one.

Passed by Chamate, a sit-down tea restaurant invested in by my firm. Popped in to pick up some tea to bring home, but they no longer seem to sell their own brand of packaged tea. Decided to bring home a moon cake in honor of the mid-autumn festival that is coming up. There was a delay while they picked it up from their secret central kitchen located, apparently, 15 minutes away. Received a complementary palate cleanser (room temperature brown water) that the waiter confirmed is for drinking when I made a motion pretending to drink it and he nodded approvingly. As a follow-up to a blog post in 2008, some of my faithful readers will be able to sleep better tonight now that this has been solved once and for all.

Due to the hordes, the people watching, the Future Store detour, and the moon cake... after 2 hours I looked on a map saw I had covered only 10 blocks out of 30. Again with just a vague idea of where the hotel was, I boarded a metro train and was back at the hotel within minutes.

** somebody should contact Thinkgeek or CafePress and have a t-shirt made up


The other Olga said...

you're totally the best troubleshooter ever :))

mizzkg said...

You are the best troubleshooter -- you troubleshut our phones on the East Coast while you're in Calif!

Sooooooooooo, any more beeps?

Future Store? It's a store that's coming in the future, maybe. We would say: New Store -- Opening Soon. Check it out next time you come to China.

Dave said...

They certainly know how to get my attention. Here's a random store that will be opening in the indefinite future - we won't tell you who, what, when, why, how. stay tuned!

Phil said...

I think the future store is the venue of an episode of The Twilight Zone" from the past.

Also, now that you know the brown liquid is for cleansing your palate, are you sure you aren't supposed to spit it out after swishing?