Monthly Archives: December 2014

Miscommunication Shao Cha

烧〔燒〕 – literary burn
PY shāo
香肠〔-腸〕- this is the dictionary word for sausage.
PY xiāngcháng

It sometimes happens that I ask for something in a restaurant and get something else. Despite the waiter repeating my order and we both agree that’s what I want. That’s because different local dialects use different pronounciation, tone or words.
In my dialect (version of Hakka) hot tea is Shao Cha. But in some other dialects they say warm tea instead of hot tea.

Once, at a Nanning railway station Chinese fast food outlet, I asked in putonghua if they have Shao Cha. Without hesitation and with a look of “why do you need to ask”, the counter man said “yes, sure”.
I was wondering why the menu on the wall behind him listed all drinks except hot tea.
The picture shows what I got.
It was Shao Chang. Or roast sausage in noodles. Their speciality.


Memory jogger when you are out

It is an irritating and stressful thing to forget keys, bags and other small items when you are going out or going from one place to another.
Now I look around up and down whenever I stand up at a table, before leaving a restaurant etc. I also ask myself “what is the next place I’m going to immediately now. What will I do to get there or when there”. This makes me look for keys etc before I leave.

The logic or illogic of ceiling fans

Logic may not always be correct when applied to different situations.

Ceiling fans are something that have always intrigued me. In their use. The idea is that the propellor blades hung from the ceiling (usually roofs) will drive the “cool” air on top, to the heads of the people sitting below.
That happens a lot where I live at the moment – in sunny Malaysia. I have given up telling friends who lunch with me at hot hot hawker centers. It’s amazing how it is that all one has to do is to move ones stool two feet away and test the temperature in order to be convinced about the real effect the fan has, in an environment with low ceilings and a battery of fans beating the hit air from the zinc roofs down onto tables underneath.

Yet, hot air rises. So, is it hot air that is being driven down onto the heads of the people sitting below, when it’s a hot day inside a hot food court?
Yet almost everyone declares that fans are supposed to cool us and so they choose to sit directly under a fan.

I think the height of the ceiling and the length of the fans arm has something to do with the cooling or heating effect.

Most of the fans I come across on the US have a little switch that you can flip to make the fan blades revolve the other way. Hence, in low ceilings and on a hot day, you can get the fan to pull the hot air up away from the top of your head (hopefully replacing it with cooler air from the surrounding). The reverse side of the switch can be used, on cold days, to push the warmer air that naturally rises to the top of the ceiling, down towards the person sitting beneath the fan. Quite logical.


Static evidence for dynamic situation needs care with assumptions

Static evidence for dynamic situation needs assumptions.

Near looking over a picture I took recently, on a sidewalk LA to capture the feeling of Autum. The fallen/falling leaves, golden on color, tells me hat Autum is here and winter is approaching.
But is that always necessarily so when I see golden leaves on the ground? are there other possible reasons and implications that can be drawn from this view, that leads to a different sort of conclusion?


Time is needed to refocus

Having looked at a computer screen, it takes a while for the eyes to refocus when you look away toward a distant scene outside your window. (Hopefully you have that window looking over some distant scene, if not, try to have something further away, that you can turn around to look at. A picture on the wall, behind you, a flower vase across the room, for instance).

The reverse also applies. If you have looked at a bright, distant object and then shift focus to a book, your eyes will take time to adapt.
The brighter the first object viewed, the longer it takes to acclimatize to the new object.

This applies to tasks we carry out when we are multitasking. Hence the ability to multitask with minimal inefficiency is due in part to the “brightness” or mental intensity of the different tasks we are juggling. Generally, I try to avoid multitasking, but that is not always possible to avoid in today’s complex life.


Guidance it’s benefits and limits

Guidance provided in self help books and in formal publications and methodologies should be interpreted in the context of the intended audience and the actual situation that you are in.
Some guidance are meant to be rules of engagement. If not followed it has a negative impact on the coordination within the team or organization that it was intended for. Definitions of terminology, and protocol, for instance.
In other areas, guidance is meant to be flexible. It says what might be expected in a given sphere of operations, or life, etc. But it cannot be all encompassing or strict in rules because the environment for which it is intended is always in a state of flux.
An example of the former, where rules and definitions are essential to be followed with few exceptions are in project management methods where an objective has to be achieved within a relatively short timeframe and with little scope for variation. This is akin to the army where the rank and file has to follow orders without question.

An example of the second type of guidance with a lot of flexibility within a framework is Portfolio or Programme Management. This is akin to an army’s strategic level, where for a given objective, the path the actions take will have to be constantly modified to fit actual circumstances. The strategy itself may also eventually have to be modified to fit the external or internal situation.

When adopting any guidance, you have to be aware of the type of guidance it is. What the author says it is and what it really is, in your own circumstances may also be different.

Common sense lighted street signs

It’s shameful how some local authorities allow brightly lit advertisements that drown out the words on road and street directional signs, (which are often unlit at night) posing a serious danger to motorists who have to make a decision on which line to get into to exit a side road. For out of town pedestrians too, it is a nuisance to have to walk up close beside a road sign, mobile phone in hand to light up the sign.
Therefore I was thrilled to see lighted street signs on this trip to Kunming, China.
Common sense finally.

Sunrise sunset intrigues people and other animals.

There’s something in our makeup that attaches a lot of importance to the sun and the moon. On a vacation tour, we dash off in the early hours of the morning to witness a sunrise in some far corner of the world. (The sun frequently not obliging and hiding behind some cloud till noon). Not realizing that the sun or the moon is the same entity that rises and sets in our own home.
Here is a picture of a Photographer who waited in the cold, by a lake, in order to photograph the sunset.

Exhaustion we have been there before

It’s a Fact of life that at some point in our lives we would have been caught in a situation that was continuously demanding of our physical, mental and spiritual being. At those times it seems that the agony will never end. Perhaps it is physical work, or mental work or just a situation that is deathly boring but that we feel compelled to continue.
Perhaps it is a situation of hopelessness. Arriving in a strange town expecting to find a job but stranded with no job no hope and nowhere to turn to for help.
If and when that happens to you again, remind yourself that it is never a permanent situation because nothing is permanent. Not bad things or good things.
Take heart that there is always a way out. It is a matter of time that you have to wait for the situation to pass or for you to find the escape door.
I’m reminded of a quote from a book I have forgotten the title of. Goes something like “we are trapped I’m a gilded cage we built ourselves”.