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Beijing Duck

A group of about 12 Dak people and family members went to a restaurant that specializes in Beijing Duck. It is so good! We ordered about 100 dishes as usual and were stuffed before the duck arrived. It was a nice place and even with drinks, it only cost about $10 per person. We actually got a certificate with the number of our duck on it.

Scorpion was on the menu so we all wanted to try it! It actually doesn’t taste like much – just crisp and crunchy.

Chairman Dan

Abram created a banner to put on the back of a display. In his words:
It’s not propaganda, its art. Behold our herald leader! Chinese translation: Da Ke zui hao (Daktronics is the best).
Dan is the greatest leader of Dak Shanghai. And since Dan leads Daktronics in China, he has looked to the Great Chinese Leader, Mao, for guidance. In return, it appears that Mao has somehow blessed Dan with a similar appearance. ;)

Dan is the GM here. Abram used the above photo from the Dak “stalker pages” to create his art, along with images he found online.

Jin Bei

The Jin Bei is the company van. It’s a knockoff of a Toyota. It has a Toyota engine, so apparently that enables the company to use the logo on the van. :-) It’s a luxury Jin Bei though, so is pretty nice. The AC works great, which is a neccessity since we load it up well beyond capacity when we have visitors from the US and people in for sales meetings. We can fit 12 people plus Mr. Huang, the driver. (Probably more if it was skinny Asian people instead of fat white guys!)

This morning we saw a knockoff Jin Bei, called a Yun Bei!! It’s pretty sad that there’s a knockoff of a Chinese knockoff.

There are nail places everywhere here, and they are so talented. I had these flowers hand-painted on my nails. And the best part is that it’s very cheap.

Saturday Outing

After our bedroom furniture was delivered, we went to the Fabric Market. It’s four floors of hundreds of small shops that custom tailor anything you’d like. Here Jon got 3 shirts, for 125 yuan each. He also had a summer suit made and I had a traditional Chinese-style shirt made. We also got a duvet cover. We pick them up next Saturday.

Next we went to People’s Square to check out the new LED display that a competitor put in. It is really horrible. The color is very bad, the modules all need to be calibrated, and their control system can’t control the whole thing. BUT – it’s cheap. Jon is texting Dan about the display here. The building in the background has terrible feng shui, and we heard that it’s had many deaths and suicides!

Soon we got caught in a downpour! This is right after it. We went to Haagen-Dais to enjoy some ice cream while we waited for it to let up. People’s Square is the Times Square of Shanghai. Many things are still neon so there’s a huge market for LED displays.

So I be a Hooter’s girl (actual lyrics)

Monday and Tuesday all of the sales people were in Shanghai for sales training. Everyone went to Hooters for some wings and beer. The Hooter’s girls dance here – they stood up on stools and did the YMCA, they did the chicken dance (with some of the guys at the table, only they sang “I don’t wanna be a chicken, I don’t wanna be a duck, so I be a Hooters girl”), and they danced to “Keep Your Hands To Yourself ” by the Georgia Satellites (the Chinese girls were very impressed that Dan sang and played air guitar to the whole song.) The slogan is: Hooters makes you happy.

Since they do the embarrassing birthday thing, everyone said it was Larry’s birthday…

Aileen, Louise, Judy, Lin Lin, Kelly and Grace having a good time singing to Larry.

Quaker Square

Yesterday morning, I flew into Columbus, Ohio with another account manager to meet with Clear Channel Outdoor. They currently have a digital network in Cleveland, and ones are going up in Columbus and Akron too. It’s been nice to meet the people we will be working with daily.

Jon is a Priority Club member, which means he earns hotel points at the Holiday Inn and affilates. He is platinum so we get any available upgrades. Last night I got a jacuzzi suite and tonight I have an executive suite. The hotel here in Akron is really cool – it was a mill for Quaker Oats, and they’ve turned all of the silos into the hotel! Everything is round. You can see some photos here. The Clear Channel Office is about 2 blocks from here so it is very handy. I like being in a downtown area; they are usually pretty interesting.

V7000 Training at Shreveport

Tuesday through Thursday I was in Shreveport, LA. Their new convention center purchased a ProAd (pictured for those of you who aren’t up with Dak products) and two ProStars (video boards.) I trained Michael (advertising) and Chuck (IT) on the displays and our Venus 7000 software/control system. I really like getting out of the office and meeting clients. These guys were super nice and they loved the displays. Comments they wrote on their training surveys included: Everything was clear, concise; Great job! Very professional – an asset to the company; Emily was very knowledgable about the system and explained things in a logical progresion.

It was SO warm there! Beautiful. Shreveport seemed to be known for the casinos – there were several big ones there and everyone kept asking me if I was going to try my luck. (No, not really any time for leisure.) I did go to the Lousiana Boardwalk one night for dinner at a place called Sushiko. I sat at the sushi bar and talked to the chef and a guy named David from Taiwan who owned a deli here. Somehow we got talking about traveling and David was absolutely amazed that I’d backpacked. He said he’d be too scared. Well… he moved here from Taiwan! I thought it was kind of funny he’d be intimidated by traveling in Europe. The sushi was really good, but I did order one thing that I didn’t really like. It was salmon eggs (the big kind, not the tiny ones) and quail egg. Somehow when I ordered I didn’t realize how big quail eggs are – the chef cracked them open like chicken eggs and they sat on top of the other eggs, bright yellow yolks and all. Lots of big raw eggs. I won’t be ordering that again. The eel was the best I’ve ever had though; I think eel is my favorite!

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The Always Cafe


Ritchie and a beer girl. We’ve seen these girls in various bars – they dress up in short skirts and tall boots and promote their brand of beer. Most of the American guys are quite a bit larger than the Chinese girls….


Ritchie thought it was funny that Jon was still working.


Jon and I – check out the new pearls!

(photos courtesy of Ritchie Hart – thanks!)

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Wednesday – Hangzhou

This morning Dan, Jon and I boarded the train to Hangzhou. The south railway station is extremely modern – very clean, spacious, and beautiful. It cost 44 RMB for a ticket for a two-hour train ride. Of course everything but the numbers are in Chinese, but we managed to figure out that we were on car 1, seats 54, 55 and 56. We thought that car one should be at the front of the train, as we passed 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2. At car 2, we were told that car 1 was between 8 and 9 though. Lesson learned – just show someone your ticket right away.

The train was not as modern as the station. It had two levels and every seat was full. There was this curtain by me that had mildew or dust or something that I was allergic to in it. I didn’t want to breathe. You see people wearing surgical masks around occasionally. I was told it was to help filter the pollution, or to prevent them from spreading their cold. I wished I had one then. In the US you would get hundreds of stares, but here it is fairly common.

In Hangzhou, we took a taxi into town. Grace sold her first large video board there, and it was being fired up. Once in the taxi, Dan called Grace and had her tell the driver (in Chinese) where to go. This also is very common, among Chinese as well as foreigners. All businesses have a map to their location on their business card or any other printed material.

We met Pete Johnson, Stephanie, Grace, Gary Gregg (US tech), Larry (Chinese project manager), and William (Chinese tech) there. The sign was almost totally up – two blocks of modules were out, but William replaced a power supply and fixed some wires and it was totally up and running. We only have one standard animation for China – it is the Chinese flag rippling. It looks good but we just need to have more variety.

The display is on a building still under construction. It will be an entertainment complex, with discos and KTV (karaoke). It is owned by a very important man, Mr. Lu (I think). He actually saw our displays in Macau and sought Daktronics out because he was impressed with them. We are also proposing a ProAd display for the other side, so a couple hours were spent discussing this proposal, pricing, etc. Mr. Lu met us at the hotel in the afternoon. We sat in booths looking directly at the display and discussed the possibilities for it, along with content creation. He did not speak any English so Grace translated everything. There are actually two other owners, who came later, but he is the decision maker.
Mr. Lu owns several restaurants throughout the city. He took us to one near the hotel. It had a waterfall flowing down two stories of smooth rock, with a glass staircase going upstairs. We were shown to a private room. There were a couple of special dishes that would cost hundreds of dollars back home. One was abalone, and the other was some type of mollusk that have to be alive until the chef cut it up, minutes before it was served. Another interesting dish was whole smelt fried. It was hard to get the meat without getting bones using chopsticks. Many of the dishes with fish have the entire fish including head and tail.

We also drank several bottles of sweet, warm wine. It was used for toasting with the miniature wine glasses. I learned there is a certain way you must toast with important people. The non-important person must always keep their glass under the important person’s glass as they toast. So, when Mr. Lu toasted Dan, they clinked their glasses together, Dan’s under Mr. Lu’s. Mr. Lu then made his lower, then Dan did, etc. Basically, the important person is lowering the glass trying to say they are not important, but the other person insists that they are.

The only time Mr. Lu wasn’t the highest glass was when he got up from his seat and toasted Gary Gregg. He said Gary was very important and he must be very smart (referring to him helping put the display up.) Mr. Lu’s driver then took us to the train station.

The 8:30 train was sold out, and the next one was at 10:00. A group of people with red shirts said, oh, the busses are this way. They led us to a group of mini-vans! We said no way and started to leave. They started bargaining with us, and we said we’d pay 400 yuan for a ride to Shanghai if they had a big van. They showed us, but wouldn’t give us the price we wanted.

So we went back to the ticket counter and discovered only hard seats were left on the late train. These people kept trying to bargain with us and get us to take their transportation. We said we’d only take a real bus.

Somehow they managed to find a real bus. We agreed to the ride for 60 yuan each and left at 9:10. It was a charter bus that probably took a group of tourists from Shanghai to Hangzhou, and the driver was going to make a few bucks on his way back to Shanghai. Dan said the vans they were trying to give rides in were probably company vans and they were basically stealing from their employers.

Photos from dinner Tuesday

Emily, Maggie and Sai

Jon eats the duck head – not only fish are served with the heads here.


Judy, Dan and Ning

Tuesday

Jon and Dan went on a business call together. The hired driver got them lost so they were delayed in getting there. They sent the car back for Sai, Maggie (the HR/Office assistant here) and I to go look at furniture for our apartment. Yes, we have decided to move here. Maggie translated prices and such all day for us. She is so cute – she giggles frequently and covers her mouth while doing it. That is quite common among the Chinese women. She and Sai LOVE to shop. It was a lot of fun. We had lunch at Papa John’s. It is the most popular pizza place here. KFC is the most popular fast food, followed by McDonald’s.

Furniture here ranges from cheap to outrageous, just like anywhere else. I didn’t find anything that was really soft – most of it was modern and hard cushions to sit on. We did find a couple Slumberlands and a Serta dealer, so we will be able to get a soft mattress. I saw a couple of western recliners and couches, and they were about what you’d pay in the US. Everything else was about half of that.

Sai bought a huge hand-made vase. It was priced at 830 RMB and she got it for 400 RMB ($50). You have to bargain and walk away a few times and usually they will follow and barter more. Even meals are negotiable – Grace (Dak Shanghai saleswomen) won’t let up if she thinks she is not getting a fair price. When we buy furniture, we will pick it out first and then let Ning or another Chinese person go bargain for it later. The assumption is that all foreigners are rich and we will definitely get ripped off.

I got my nails done again – they glued on acrylic nails, painted them pink and then painted three tiny flowers on each nail, with glitter for a center. It was 50 RMB ($6.50).

The three of us met Dan, Jon, Ning, Judy and two guys from Dak Canada (Ritchie and Gislain) at Lu Lu Restaurant. It was another huge meal! I don’t believe I explained how the meals are served. In the middle of the table is a huge round piece of glass on a turntable. The dishes are set, one by one as they are ready, on the glass and people turn it slowly throughout the meal so that every is able to sample every dish. With the ten of us, probably 20 to 25 dishes were served. One course is always soup, although it is hard to count courses since the food just keeps coming and is not taken away until the dish is empty.

Dan bought a bottle of Maltese, which is traditional liquor that is quite strong. It is poured into a decanter, which is used to fill what look like tiny wine glasses. You drink them like shots. Our group managed to finish off the whole bottle, although I didn’t try it.

After that we went to the Blue Frog for a couple drinks. It was a very modern bar, although it was very smoky. 80% of the men in China smoke, and China consumes one-third of the cigarettes produced world-wide. People smoke everywhere. In one of Jon’s sales meetings, the guy chain-smoked in a conference room. The lobby of every building has people smoking… really, anywhere it is permissible, it seems. The Dak office is non-smoking though.

The Big News….

…. is that Jon and I are going to Shanghai, China in a week.

We leave about 6 PM on Thursday. We’ll arrive in Shanghai at 3 PM the next day, and it is 14 hours ahead of Central Time. Trying to figure out actual travel time has thoroughly confused me. United.com says that the flight from Chicago to Shanghai is 14 hours and 35 minutes. Definitely the longest flight I’ve been on.

Daktronics has an office there, and Jon’s old boss Dan Chase is the manager. He has been living there for a year with his family. He’s been recruiting Jon to come over and manage/build the Chinese sales team. I’d be able to work for Daktronics too. (or maybe I’d be a women of leisure and spend all of my time wandering the city taking photos. Probably not though.) We’re going to go to decide if we want to do it for sure. We’d be there for 2 years.

If it’s a go, we’ll sell our house, put things in storage and go! How exciting.

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Minors at the Falls…


Marcie, Caleb, Lilly, Chance and Chris at the falls. Posted by Picasa


We also went to the Beef Unit at SDSU for some photos. Posted by Picasa


I took portaits of Charlie Thompson today for the SDSU Alumni magazine. He did the website for the Opportunity Farm.  Posted by Picasa


More photos from the bike trails yesterday. Very nice trail, don’t you think? Posted by Picasa


I love the texture in leaves. These leaves were huge. Posted by Picasa


Light at the end of the trees… Posted by Picasa


Jon and I went for a 10.67 mile bike ride today. (We got a bike mount for our GPS to see exactly how far we go.) Today I took my camera to capture some of the fall colors. This is one of the many bridges on the bike path. Posted by Picasa


Pretty fall colors reflected in the water Posted by Picasa


Shed with the fisheye lens Posted by Picasa

Bumble Bee


When I was lying on the green taking the photo below, this bumble bee landed on the clover. Perfect timing! Posted by Picasa

Golf


This is at the Newell golf course. It’s so dry west river; the course is partially green where they try to irrigate and the rest is dried up brown. Posted by Picasa


We watched fireworks from the side of the road west of Sioux Falls – as did the rest of the town apparently!!! It was bumper to bumper traffic all over. Very unusual for SF. Posted by Picasa


Happy 4th of July!!! Posted by Picasa

Our friends Hanna and Henrik have been visiting the last 9 days from Sweden. I have been taking hundreds of photos, even though I haven’t been posting them. I promise to make it up. Scroll down for highlights of our vacation! Posted by Picasa

Wine Tasting Group


Crystal, Carl, Lura, Shon, Hanna, Henrik, me and Jon. Posted by Picasa

Grapes


We did a wine tasting at the Wilde Prairie Winery in Brandon. Very nice people and very fun! Posted by Picasa

Roughlock Falls


Another of the falls in Spearfish Canyon Posted by Picasa

Bridal Veil Falls


We climbed over the river and to the base of the waterfall – very cool!! We’ve seen it several times but had never gotten right up to it before. Posted by Picasa

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