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Well, tropical cycloe Pabuk turned out to be a bit of a fizzer. It's been quite a while since a cyclone came any where near us and I was genuinely looking forward to it. Despite the epicentre of the cyclone passing only 30km south of Hong Kong it only made it to Cyclone warning 3, which means winds of 41kph to 62kph. It didn't feel that strong here in Shenzhen. All we got was a bit of a breeze and some rain.

Oh well, I'm sure we'll get another cyclone some time soon.

In the Zone

Living so close to the border with Hong Kong poses one challenge in the form of mobile phone networks. Remember that Hong Kong and China are still 'one country, two systems' so the mobile phone coverage does not overlap between the two and all the carriers are different. Having to carry multiple SIM cards and swap them back and forth has the potential to be quite a pain.

So that users don't have to pay for international roaming and make international calls whenever they travel to Hong Kong, China Unicom and China Mobile both offer a dual zone SIM cards, which are rather neat. They automatically change number when in Hong Kong or Shenzhen and redirect calls automatically depending upon where they are at that particular time.

When I cross the border to Hong Kong I don't have to fumble around with changing SIM cards on the train or dropping them as I leave customs, like some others seem to do. I just simply use my phone like nothing has happened. )

Caveats: Make sure you get international roaming set up straight away. If you try to do it later it can be almost impossible. Most plans also don't allow sending of SMS from within Hong Kong.

External American

Yesterday a phone call went very late during lunchtime, with the end result being that I headed out to have lunch rather late on my own. Whilst having lunch at a familiar restaurant an American guy came and sat nearby. He was dressed in casuals and ordered a relatively inexpensive meal, both things which suggested that he'd have something useful to say, so I struck up a conversation.

A little background - this guy studied Mandarin at University in The States and has been working as a translator for the past year and a half in Guangzhou, China. That work has finished and he's now trying to decide whether to take up a new job in Korea or go back to California to a regular 9-5 job. The money abroad is good but there's no place like home. 

He had some interesting things to say about the US, especially as one who has lived outside the country. The first thing he said was that he hates most Americans. I don't know if this is a realisation he came to after leaving the US or it's one he had before, but he described most Americans as being insular and selfish. He did mention that the only area worth living in back in the US is California, however it's too expensive for mere mortals to be able to afford a house there. 

Apparently George W Bush's dis-approval rating has hit an all time high, with 88% of Americans no longer wanting him as their president. This guy was in the American Navy for about 7 years, where he got to see first-hand America's use and abuse of it's military power. Normally they have bumper stickers for things like "Hillary for President" or "Gore for President" however on his most recent trip home he saw a bumper sticker saying "Anybody else for President"!!!  lol

The number of Asian immigrants to America continues to rise, but apparently not as fast as it is in Canada. He said that on a recent visit to Vancouver it seemed like half the population was of Asian descent. 

He was absolutely gushing about Australia, having visited our east coast two times and loved every moment. He said that we had it made down there. I ventured that the majority of Australians are unhappy with John Howard's close relationship to George "Dubya" and he completely sympathised, saying that no good could come of it. 

An interesting observation that he made about Australians is that we're the world's best and craziest travellers. He's been to many places and has always found some Aussies there. He said that Aussies are much more willing to just plunge in to some crazy adventure and give things a go than people from other nations, more willing to get off the beaten track. He praised Australians for not being whiners and complainers, like many of the other foreigners he's encountered in his travels.

After sharing a few 'living in China' stories and some tips on good places to eat I bid my farewell. It's amazing what you can learn when you have the courage to ask.

Sink Drain

Have you ever noticed which way the water spins when it goes down the sink? Have you also ever heard someone proclaim that the water spins the opposite way when you cross the equator and spout off some technical-sounding sentence including the word Coriolis? Having now lived in both hemispheres I thought I'd comment on the subject. 

The Coriolis effect is, for those that don't know, the effect that makes cyclones spin counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. It is a real phenomenon. It is caused by the earth at the equator travelling forwards fastest, the earth at Helsinki (Finland) travelling forwards at about half the speed and the earth at the north and south poles not travelling forwards at all. The difference in forwards speed causes a rotational spin.

That's all fine for cyclones but it makes no practical difference to how your bath water behaves. The strength of the effect on a basin of water would be so small that an ant doing backstroke would have more influence on the spin of the water. This has been born out in my observations. Bodies of water in the southern and northern hemispheres have freely spun both ways, although often the same way in the same sink. The repetition of spin direction has been more directly attributed to other factors, like the shape of the drain, movements in the water, the shape of the piping, build up of rubbish and a partial blockage caused by the wife's hair ) . Northern or southern hemisphere has no impact whatsoever.

So, next time you hear someone talking about the spinning water in drains due to the Coriolis effect, politely correct them. If they resist, give them this website

Just for you, Dave

To quote Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson, we've been literally inundated with a letter to make a change to the blog. To celebrate my Happy Blogday in August last year I changed the website theme however the new theme didn't include previous and next post links when viewing a single post. To cure that ill, the single post view now has links to the previous and next posts. I've also taken the opportunity to freshen up the dynamic contents of the sidebar, which was never quite right, and add a Visitors page

Deja Vu

It seems like it’s been a week for discovering that people have referenced/used material from our blog. Someone from the University of British Columbia has created a Power Point presentation on Seminar Skills. On slide 9 (page 5) of their presentation the title is ‘Balance specialists and non-specialists’. The photo on this page is of yours truly, walking along a balance beam whilst on a staff team building exercise in southern China! They had the decency to provide the full link to the original image, unlike ‘mr myspace’. If you do a Google Image search then the image below comes up on about page 6 of the results.

Click here for a link to the pdf of the presentation.

Balance Beam

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