Christmas break has been and gone with cookies and nog and creamy adult beverages. We had some great meals and much to be thankful for, say nothing of Christmas morning. Bill and Sharon were in town and part of the festivities was a trip south to Maryland to see (meet!) relatives there. We also enjoyed a day out in the valley and a bit of relaxing at home. Rachael from b-school was up from DC, too, so we saw her twice including a tour of 5815.
Today was back to work(ish) though very few of my coworkers were there. In some ways that was more productive but the office lacked the buzz that I've been feeding off the past few months.
It's been an interesting week to say the least. My body is finally getting its internal clock sorted, so 3am mornings and 7:30 evenings have come to a close. Despite best-made flight plans - the trip east was rougher than I had anticipated.
Something that I had not anticipated about the trip west was my seat: 19A. No biggie on the A321s and B737s that shuttle eastern Americans hither and yon, but on a KE 744 that's upper deck, left, exit row. I've never flown on a private plane but that's how I imagine it. Quiet. Fantastic service. Nobody else around. No luggage, no overhead bins, nobody who hadn't showered. I've always looked up those stairs and wondered... now I know that up there is valhalla for business travelers. A quiet valhalla from which ground staff seem very, very small.
Wednesday evening we trekked to WAHS for the Christmas chorale, choir, and orchestra concert. It was good; the thing that stands out is the tradition of a senior soloist rendering "O! Holy Night" with the backing of the entire choir and all alums present. It makes a rousing finale and we were still humming when we pulled back into 5815.
Finally home. I enjoyed the last few days of the trip in and around Shanghai with more supplier visits, oft followed by dinner with same. Shanghai delicacy hairy crab on Thursday and a special slow-roasted pork on Friday were hosts' finest offerings. Saturday was the long trip home; 25 hours of travel in five calendar hours left me weary and worn down last night and today.
While I was gone Jenelle transformed our house into a Christmas wonderland. From the little pine in the front yard to the loft, everything is warm and inviting and ready for holidays. Today we found, erected, lit, and decorated a wonderful balsam in the living room. It feels like Christmas is nearly here and we're ready.
My final thought is the blogifying of thoughts I've shared with others about skyscraper architecture in Shanghai. Towers there are impressive and varied and spread throughout the city, which gives an unusually nice vantage point as Ark pointed out. The tallest few really grew on me this week after initially seeming a bit odd. Despite my enjoyment of the international and post-international towers in NYC and Chicago, Shanghai's have experimented outside the 'extruded rectangle' form (see Aon Center in Chicago) and I really dug the curviness. There's also a certain feminine quality that makes them more approachable, though as I mature the vertical fortress aspect of skyscrapers is diminished in my mind. Feng shui principles dictate openings near the top of the structures to 'let in the light'. In practice this leads to very interesting treatments which stray some what from the HVAC cupolas that seem to be de rigeur in the west... from actual openings to one hotel with a series of mobius strip-like elements connecting the sides of the building. Anyway, hooray architecture.
Resting my feet on the 20th floor of my block above Ningbo City after a long walk around town. I've wandered some main drags, some back alleys, and some parks. It's a beautiful and lively city and has a most accessible feel - the old big city/little city trade-off.
My bus ride down was a very interesting way to spend three hours. The route out of Shanghai led through some incredible suburbs (ever wonder where a billion people live, actually?) and past some incredibly huge factories and incredibly tiny farms. We then crossed the Hangzhou Bay Bridge, which spans 36 kilometers and better than halves the trip.
Yesterday was Shanghai. Some taxi hijinx (put it this way: if I'd been in the other cab it might have been even harder to get my roll-aboard back) delayed things a bit but I had much of the second half of the day to skim the city. I started at the Bund, above, with the old architecture at photographer's rear and Pudong through the lens. Then down NanJing Road, the equivalent of Fifth Avenue, to People's Square, north to Tomorrow Square, and west west west back to the hotel. Probably too much walking but I think that will wane when official business starts in a few hours.
'Taking departures' as they said on O/S NY back in the day. I'm in a lounge watching planes depart into the night, waiting to get on one to do the same. In the meantime - work. I left a bit early today to finish packing and go on a walk with Jenelle, but instead it was spectacularly poor weather for walking so we had a quiet meal together and enjoyed the company of the boys and then my car arrived and I departed. There's something magical and exciting but still slightly melancholy about leaving a warm house with three warm bodies to fly around the world to work as hard as you know how and "give 'em hell" as Mike said on my way out the door. But that'll be my motto for the next few days, I suppose. It feels like a corporation depends on it.
posted at 9:52 PM - comments
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
This could be the last post in awhile - I'm headed east tomorrow evening for nine days of supplier quality management in China. Several very capable and more experienced Knoll people will be there, too, and I'm looking forward to working with them and seeing the progress we've collectively been working towards.
Over the weekend we spent a day along Wissahickon Creek, hiking towards Village Green Inn and enjoying sandwiches on a bench along the creek once we got there. Later in the day we hit the Institute of Contemporary Arts at Penn for a little more than an hour of culture followed by Cosi.
The week has flown; we got the air hockey table we inherited refurbed and upright and patched and painted some spots around the ceiling in way of recent projects.
In closing and because it's been awhile and he's growing up so darned fast, a snap of Jay: