Wednesday, August 31, 2011

So long

by Dan at 18:10
English Goodbye
Español Adios
Deutsch Auf Wiedersehen
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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Perspectives & Beyond

by Ricardo at 18:18
Perspectives

So the other day I was speaking to a Chinese and he started talking about his next job, that he was going to work to Shangai. He tells me "I really don't like big cities. Shangai is too big. I come from small small town. I don't like too many people." So knowing the chinese I ask him where he comes from. "Oh, I come from very small town up north." Well, could you please define small? How many people in your town, I asked. "Oh, very small town. Only 3 million people." :-) I rest my case...

Old Resting Position

China is a country of many and very old traditions and so, I wonder what is the common resting position for the chinese? I was amazed when I saw it but it's really the common way, and they just assume this position like when you go to the woods and there is no WC around, and you really have to go leave a present to mother nature, this is a normal resting position. I've tried a few times to copy it, but I can't hold it more then 5 minutes, but here they stay 30min to 1 hour. Incredible. Just try it... you'll see it's not easy.

Military anyone?

So this week the freshmen (18 years old) started coming to University. The the first thing they do is a 2-week military training course, with no fooling around, plain hardcore, with discipline (imagine 5 thousand military guys going around the university, shouting, parading and running from dusk till dawn). After their initial training, they send them to a camp for learning how to shoot and fight. Remember how many persons in China??? Imagine this country's army, where everyone has to do military. :-0

Cheers,

Ricardo

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What a Great City...

by Ricardo at 15:32

So here I go again, this time with another round of great new Chinese methods of doing things differently:

Seat Belts: As i told you, there guys are crazy during driving, crossing the road, riding the bicycle or anything that assembles a moving motion and a human being. So, after the first experiences of near crashes I decided that the best is not thing about it and just relax and put the seat belt. That's where my plan just went to the garbage. Although taxis have seat belts, 90% of the times they don't work. Don't ask me why but I tried dozens and got very few to work. And when I ask the taxi driver, they just look at me and start laughing. And then put their seat belt... yes, because theirs works. :-(

English: Although the taxi drivers don't speak english, the Taxis are all equipped with a little recording in English that they just turn on when arriving to the destination. Now, due to the huge push in the economy, most of the cars have the instructions in english because they come from european brands or american. No wonder they drive like that. The car says "Hand Brake On". Saying that or "The soup is served" is the same. ;-)

Suzie Wong: Now, don't tell me this is not typical name you would expect in a multicultural place like Beijing. It's a disco, and with that name it could only be good. You just feel attracted by the name. You think about the story of the name and just return to the past and seem to live in a completely new world. To go if you pass by Beijing.

Transformers: Now, if anyone has ever seen cartoons in the 80's, I'm sure you remember the "Transformers" and because Manga is also very big here, I went to the cinema with a few of the ISU people to see these great machines in action. The difficult part was that I went there after the rest, without knowing where the cinema was, and nobody speaking in english. Best advice in China: find a person that speaks chinese and english, get their mobile phone number, and never lose your mobile. It can save your life.

So eventually I got to the movie 5 minutes late, but because the noise was so big, I could not hear on the phone where the rest of the people were. And because it was the Premiere of the movie in China, the movie was in every room. There was 5 rooms in 3 different floors. I went to each one in the dark, went in, tried to look around to find them, seated, saw the movie was in chinese and got out. I managed to find them in the 5th room. Now, try to do this talking to people that do not speak english, plus I had no ticket so I needed to convince the employees to let me go in without ticket and by mimics. Uff, hard but I finally managed.

The movie was great, if anyone likes the typical american movie of action, explosions, shooting at everyone and everywhere, babes, fast cars, and of course Robots...

One little detail about taxis: they always tell you that they know the way where you want to go, but most of the times they don't. So they just stop in the middle of the street when the feel they are lost, leave the car running with the clients inside and go ask in the next cafe where is the way. I really like this city ;-)

Tjai Tje,

Ricardo

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Little Details

by Ricardo at 13:40

Hello again,

so after a few more days of studying and going around Beijing, I have collected a few more experiences to share with you:

Money

In China they use yuans has money, where you will find almost everything is done with bills/notes, almost no coins. (10 yaun = 1 Euro) and you will find the bills go to 1 yuan or even 50 cents of yuan. So you have bills of 5 cents of euro. Incredible number of bills brings something to the market: Counterfeit.

We received the following message after a few days here. "Counterfeit notes are a problem in China. Very few Chinese will accept a Y50.00 (5 Euros) or Y100.00 (10 Euros) note without first checking to see whether or not it's a fake. Notes that are old, tattered, or torn are also sometimes hard to spend. You can exchange notes for new ones at the Bank of China. Counterfeits, however, will be confiscated. Local Chinese have a variety of methods for checking notes, including checking the watermark, the drawn lines (more distinct in fake notes) and color (more pronounced in counterfeit notes). The texture of a fake note also tends to be smoother than authentic notes. Examine large denomination notes if they are given to you as change by street vendors; they could well be dumping a forged banknote on you. One note: There have been cases where even the cash machines can also give counterfeit notes".

Toilets

I don't know if you've ever been in China, but they mostly only have holes in the ground when you need to go to the bathroom. When I say almost, it's because 1 in 100 toilets is a normal seating toilet. Now, the other day I asked a chinese where to find the normal (for me) toilets. He brought me a chair with a hole in the middle. :-)

I could only smile. You've probably seen the image Dani has posted a few days ago with this chair.

Sun

On sunday was my first sighting of the Sun and the Blue sky. The city is very polluted and some days it's difficult to breath due to the extreme temperatures (about 35 degrees every day) and extreme humidity, which has put everyone in here sick at one point or another. The sky is grey most of the time, and yesterday I was reading the local news (no, not in chinese) and the estimate is 3.5 million cars in Beijing by beginning of 2008. The government wants to stop traffic for 2 million cars on the last month before the Olympic Games, and clear the skies. Now that will be a challenge.

Driving

If you ever used a bicycle, and suddenly was put in your hands a car but you would continue using the rules of bicycles, I would say you have just arrived in china. There are no traffic lights although they are there, there are no zebra passage for people although they are there, there are no blinking lights for change of directions, because they don't exist in bicycles, and the size of a car must be the same size of a bicycle in the minds of the chinese taxi drivers, because I always think we are going to crash, normally against buses. But in all this mess, there is a normality. Don't ask me to explain. It just works.

Tjai Tje from Beijing,

Ricardo

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

by Dan at 17:21

Thank you Mamen, James, Marc, Cameron, Ricardo and thank you everybody else! You made me blush

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Tomorrow I will have noodles for breakfast...

by Ricardo at 07:36

Hi Everyone, here I am again. :-)

Ok, so for those of you who hope to get a really nice breakfast in China, I tell you, these guys eat a lot of noodles in the morning. It looks great, but my stomach did not see the joke and complained a bit this morning. :-(

And I have been tempted to buy these crepes they make here on the streets, but because normally you find puppies and rabbits being sold next to it, I have not fully taken the courage to ask.

Ah, I also learned my first chinese words with the students around here. So repeat after me:

Ni Hao - Good Morning
Ni Hao Ma? - How are you?
Che Che - Thank you
Tchi Tche - Bye Bye
Cha - Tee
Ye - Salt
Po Hue - Portuguese

I also went the center of Beijing and I can tell you, do not enter the subway on rush hour. It's 40 degrees inside, people sweating, all really next to each other, like a sandwich, I felt like I was the ham or something, and the 50 guys next to me were bringing the bread. But I really like the city. It's dirty and hot and foggy and dusty, but at the same time it's vibrant, active, shows power and brut force to win and they really want to show their best. Ask something to a chinese and they will go to incredible lengths to help you.

I found a part of Darmstadt in here: Next to the university there is... imagine what is big, has a lot of products inside, comes from the land of Bush and normally in Germany locates itself next to an army base... Yes, it's Walmart.

I have been already 3 times to Tai-chi at 6 in the morning. I have to go at that time otherwise the chinese disappear at 6h30. So after that, I go for a little run because Tai-chi is really not very active.

Another thing is that it must be because they only eat noodles and veggies and no really big hard food like in Germany, and so I have seen a lot of nice girls, but a bit small so it's getting hard finding a girlfriend around here, I guess I'll just have to concentrate on my studies and let life take its course.

Work is starting to push, the lectures are now only in the morning, after lunch we have our project, I have chosen "Space Traffic Management" since it is not my area and it touches a lot of issues that I never had time to study or work in. Basically it focuses on Space Debris, De-orbiting of satellites, Space Tourism, Space Weather and Mitigation issues on satellites. If any of you has any good information to share on any of these points, now is the time to say :-)))

After the project time that finishes around 18h, it's dinner time... at 18h until 19h. half an hour later starts the panels, basically a group of people talking about a certain subject. The other day it was Space Entrepreneurs: Creating New Markets. And we had 5 entrepreneurs: one canadian for laser pointing products on satellites, one british for registration for launches of geo-stationary satellites, one chinese for satellite launching (56 launches, 0 fails), one american astronaut from NASA that now started a company for orbital-flights for space tourism, and one american that sends ashes of famous dead people to space and started this 25 years ago, and has a contract with NOAA to send satellites to L1 for prediction of Solar Winds (space weather).

And that's it.

Tchi Tche,

Ricardo

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

First Impressions

by Ricardo at 11:45

First of all I want to thank Dani for letting me write on his great blog and report on my experience here in Beijing. He's been a great friend and don't forget, tomorrow it's his birthday :-)

So a few days ago I landed on this chinese city by the name of Beijing. And here are my First impressions.

The city is huge, full of life everywhere, and you can sense a dynamic on the economy that is not normal, it's like if everyday something big was happening in town that elevated the status of the economy.

One of the first myths to be broken: Bicycles. Yes it's everywhere, yes there are millions of them and most of them are quite old, rusty and dirty, but the most amazing is Cars. It seems like everyone in this town wants one. The ads are everywhere for cars, even elevators, toilets, ice cream shops... There are now around 3 million cars in Beijing, and the growth is at 2 thousand new cars on the streets everyday. Yes, everyday.

The organization of ISU has been great, we are in the Beihang University, one of the top Universities in China and we are staying in the dorms of the Athlete's Village, 10 buildings of 15 stories each. I'm on the 10th floor. It's good conditions, and we are 3 in each room. But now the chinese students are also here with us, but instead of 3 in each room, they are 12 in each room. I mean, they can really squeeze chinese people everywhere.

Another curious thing about the dorms is that all the beds are high on the ground, so like a beliche (portuguese word) but without the lower bed, only the one on top. And for I don' t know which reason, everywhere there are Big signs saying "Warning: Don't fall from bed". Even the campus director told us this today. :-|

Another figure is the Campus. It is enormous. Yesterday I went for a run around the campus in the morning and saw how big this thing really is. Not only all the facilities of the University are here, but the dorms as well. And there are at present 40 thousand students here now. Yes 40. But the biggest number is not that. It's that this University is only for related subjects of Aeronautics and Aerospace. Needless to say that the Chinese Space Agency (CASC) here in Pekin has 70 thousand employees. And that 300 thousand chinese work directly on the Space Industry. Now imagine this country's Space Industry in 5 / 10 years time. :-0

During my run, and this was at 6 in the morning, the life outside was already at full speed. The temperatures are around 35 everyday and the humidity is huge, so it's hard to do most of the things, that's why life starts early. I don't even want to imagine August. That's going to hurt. But during my run, I found hundreds of old people doing exercise everywhere. They have all the facilities here, most of it is brand new. They do all kinds of sports, running, walking, volley, ping-pong, badminton, but specially Tai-Chi. I did 5 minutes just to try, but I have to learn the moves first. After 5 minutes they took out swords, so I thought it was time to move to another place.

Our facilities for the classes are all brand new, we are the first people in, and are really amazing. The main building is so big and so tall that you feel really tiny when you enter it. The way of the chinese of saying "We are here to conquer"

The people are extremely friendly, although it is not easy to find people speaking english. Since I arrive, I feel like a rock star. The chinese are always starring at us, the foreigners, and never look away. Then they come and ask if they can take us a picture, or sometimes, they just take a zillion pictures. Then they come with friends to show what they have just discovered, this tall guy with a funny face, coming from this distant planet called Portugal. The best way to react, to give them your biggest smile. :-)

And one last story to finish my first report of events, is that there are no restrictions whatsoever, except one: That all men cannot walk with flip-flops, or show the fingers of the feet. That's forbidden. :-( So I can't use my Hawaiian Flip-Flops.

Cheers to all and send some news please,

Ricardo

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Anonymouse!

by Dan at 11:28

Finally could see my own blog today, thanks to Anonymouse, Ricardo passed me the link. Have not been able to upload many more photos yet, so no posts for a while, but just wanted to mention that people all over the world are going out to the streets to demonstrate because no-one is actually commenting on the blog nor on the photos, see what you are doing?

Mas comentarios en el blog! (idea and photo by txyko)

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Saturday, June 30, 2007

The campus...

by Dan at 17:35
Here there is a little map and explanation of how our campus looks like and how it is organized (if it works, again I cannot see it from here)

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Practical engineers...

by Dan at 16:05

In our rooms we have normal toilets, but people were complaining that in the East Wing library the toilets were... just a hole in the ground (not really, just the typical old style toilets, that one may find in military camps, some schools, or other places, plus they are clean and new). So the Chinese found a solution for us... dunno how many people are going to use it though, me not...

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More classes

by Dan at 09:37

This photos are from several days:

-History of Rocketry with Kerrie Dougherty, archaeologist, star-trek/starwars freak and expert in space and society topics

-An entrepreneurs panel, with founders of several companies dedicated mainly to space tourism.

-A cross-cultural negotiation workshop, we were lucky to have a really multicultural group (India, Japan, China and Turkey are discussing on political systems and term of office durations on the right end of the table)

-Our first Chinese class, the teacher was not very prepared but only because she had not expected to give class alone: there were three teachers for the same class, but we were so many that they had to separate us in three groups.

-Our first class meeting, to complain, make suggestions, give announcements... basically to complain, some people are so... spoiled! They are complaining that they have already run out of electricity for the month (it is limited to a certain amount per day) and that now they don't have for the two days that are missing of June. I don't know what they do, I spend 30-40% of what it is allowed per day. They told them to keep their air-conditioners off during the day when they are not there. And they say that they can do whatever they want! (sad part is that the guy is 40 years old or something). Well, I was not even expecting to have air conditioner, look at the poor guys in ESOC!! And it is not so warm in the room, I only connect it in the mornings to refresh the air, but at night I have it off and of course during the day... Normally 4 people live in that room, if one alone spends more than 4 Chinese...

-Lessons on the solar system and the Sun by Green (works for NASA in interplanetary missions, has worked in Goddard, in HQ, JPL... I think he has even worked with the Voyager 1 and 2 missions)

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Athlete's village by night

by Dan at 22:01
This last couple of days we have made a habit of meeting in the central... playground? park? patio? between the buildings of the Athlete's village (10 buildings, we are lodged in buildings 1 to 5 I believe). It is quite nice, many people around. First night Jose and Maximiliano made a little improv theater, it was hilarious... but only because it was sooooo bad... well, but it was fun.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Me with astronauts...

by Dan at 21:16

Don't worry, haven't turned into an ISU fanatic (yet) but I have to admit I ended up making myself photos with the astronauts we've had here:

-Jeffrey Hoffman, already mentioned him, photo was taken after our first Chinese class, he also joins

-Leroy Chiao, NASA astronaut, 6 times EVA, flown with Shuttles, with Soyuz, more than 6 months on the ISS... He came for a panel of entrepreneurs of space tourism, because he has signed up for a company (Excalibur Almaz) that will make orbital tourism...

Actually we have 4 or 5 more professors that have been astronauts, Tuesday we will have here the first Chinese taikonaut, Yang Liwei

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

In the park

by Dan at 23:12

We went to a little park with a lake at night for a talk... nice, but waking up the day after at 5.45 has killed me (to go do tai-chi, next time I go I make photos)

This is the same park during the day.

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Couple of photos

by Dan at 21:10

Wizards of bike-transportation... I will get better ones, they are everywhere, carrying everything!

Rose Wong's family...

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On the metro

by Dan at 19:06

Went to the silk alley...

What a stress!!! Bargaining so much makes me sick...

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Monday, June 25, 2007

First classes

by Dan at 11:58

The Space perspective with Jeffrey Hoffman (besides having flown 5 times in the Shuttle, he is also an astrophysicist and MIT professor, the photo is actually him repairing the Hubble)

Policy rationale for space activities, with Hoffman too

Economic rationales for space activities, with Cohendet (world-renown economist, professor in Strasbourg and Montreal)

I like the way we take notes: no paper (save trees!!), but writable PDF files (thanks Jorge for Acrobat 7.0)

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Reception

by Dan at 23:37

I did not take many photos... as soon as I get more form other students I will hange them

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Team projects presentations

by Dan at 14:33

Already happened Sunday morning. We have to choose between:

  • A lunar archive (with Burke, from JPL/Caltech, really old but one of the most intelligent persons I met, I think he has worked a lot in lunar projects)
  • An earthquake integrated prediction-preparedness-intervention system+policy
  • An on-orbit servicing of satellites project
  • A space traffic management project

I was doubting but at the end I chose the Earthquake one. Good thing is that each of the people from ESOC chose a different one...

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Beihang university

by Dan at 10:29

Formerly known as BUAA (Beijing University of Aeronautics and Aerospace)

Introductions to the regulations: do not drink too much!

Introductions to the regulations (II): do not fall from bed... does it happen very often here?

This are the computer labs in the East Wing library, that is where I am now, and so fa r the only place where I can connect to Internet. They are really new. Good thing is that it is wifi, so it is not limited to those computers but we can connect in the whole building with our laptops.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

First night beers

by Dan at 23:04

One bucket with ice and seven beers 6.5 euro, and that is expensive here...

Street posts selling fruit any time of day

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Introductions...

by Dan at 19:00

(this actually happened on several days)

Of the students that took the one week extra English course before our arrival

Of the staff, the guy standing in blue is NASA astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman

Of all of us, yeah, it took a while

In case you wonder, yeah, this Hello Cafe is the place where we eat. Will talk about the food some other day.

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The athlete's village

by Dan at 15:57

It is not the athelete's village for next year, it is one built for the university olympics in Beijing in 2001

Normally 4 students would live here! So I have 4 beds, 4 tables 4 wardrobes (tiny)... Nice landscape view is on the courtain, my window leads to the entrance of the building actually, ground floor

They are worried about our safety... (this sign is actually on our beds)

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On the bus

by Dan at 11:54
Toll booth's chinese style / IKEA in China

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Frankfurt-Beijing

by Dan at 10:46

On the airport, before Mamen's hysteria

Satisfaction poll at customs: “Greatly Satisfied” (big smiley face), “Satisfied” (sober smiley face), “Checking Time Too Long” (moderate frown) and “Poor Customer Service” (severe frown.) Cannot find a photo though.

At arrival, we met Marrieanne from Norway wh had travelled on the same plane as us

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Friday, June 22, 2007

YGT farewell

by Dan at 13:31

Portuguese sekt at Hugo's

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Thomas Reiter and friends

by Dan at 10:59

Astronauts in ESA

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