Friday, February 27, 2015

One Day At a Time part 3

I took what must have been the shortest trip of my life on Wednesday. I flew out to Fuzhou Wednesday afternoon, spent the night and flew back to Hong Kong Thursday morning. Fortunately, it's only a two hour flight. Unfortunately, I stayed at Ryan's house. I've always said that getting a hotel is the much better option in Fuzhou, but during the New Year, getting a room is very difficult. Fuzhou has fewer hotel choices than a lot of Chinese cities and everything is more crowded and more expensive during the New Year.

I've actually taken shorter trips, but Hong Kong to Fuzhou is almost like going to a different country. I still have that American attitude that any trip to another country should be a long vacation. I'm not used to going through passport control one day and then leaving the next.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

One Day At a Time part 2

I have the day off tomorrow, so I'm going to Fuzhou. I have to work Thursday, so that means I have to fly out of Fuzhou Thursday morning. At least that gives us most of Wednesday. This probably isn't the best way to do things, but if we can take tiny trips more often, it might even out. One weekend a month was not the best way to do it either.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

One Day At a Time part 1

Rather than wait until we have more time off to see each other, Ryan & I have decided to do our trips a little differently. We all like it better when he comes out here, but that's not going to happen anytime soon. This is the busiest time of year for both of us and Hong Kong isn't the easiest place to fly to during the New Year.

I'm not going to have two or three days off in a row for a while, so we've decided that I should just fly to Fuzhou whenever I can, spend the night and fly back the next day. A full weekend is better, but even one day is better than nothing. The New Year just started, so this weekend is definitely out of the question.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Year of the Goat

The Lunar New Year starts on Thursday. Banks and government offices will have a long weekend from Thursday to Sunday. The festival continues long beyond the weekend, but only the first 3 days are legal holidays. Schools and some jobs take more time off, but most people only get the first few days.

I'll be working a lot more than usual. I always volunteer to work more during this holiday because it's the most important time for most of my Chinese colleagues while it means pretty much nothing to me. The more hours I work, the more time they have to visit their families and do all of the things they're supposed to do during their biggest holiday.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Technical Difficulties

I had to buy a new computer. The old computer was working perfectly – up until it wasn't. I was minding my own business, going about my day when I got a message from Windows telling me that the hard drive was about to crash and that I might want to back up everything before it all went south. I thought it was nice of Windows to let me know.

Fortunately, I always back up whatever I don't want to lose, so that part was never a problem. Unfortunately, I had to buy a new computer.

You might think that living in Hong Kong makes it easier to get things like computers. Hong Kong is well known for electronics shopping – as well as every other type of shopping. The problem is that a lot of the electronics in Hong Kong are crap. Most of it is made in China, and the cheap crap they make for export is a much higher quality than the cheap crap they make for the locals. There are plenty of Japanese brands around, but most of that is also made in China. Had I bought a new computer when I was in Tokyo last year, I could have gotten something better than what I can get here. But I didn't need a new computer then.

As it turns out, I know someone who works in electronics. Kevin works at a big electronics company on the island. That's one of the reasons I know not to put too much faith in Chinese electronics. He put me in touch with someone who builds computers for a living.

Ordinarily, I'd want something put together in a factory and not by some guy who considers himself an expert. Most of the self-appointed computer experts I've met don't know nearly as much as they think they know. But this guy put his money where his mouth is. He said that if the computer crashes or craps out in the next year, he'll give me a full refund. If a program or application doesn't work the way it's supposed to, he'll replace it for free. If he doesn't stick to his word, Kevin knows where he lives.

My old computer was a laptop. When you're an expat living in a strange country, a laptop seems like the way to go. You never know when you're going to be on the move. But the old computer never went anywhere. It stayed on my desk the entire time I had it. So I figured I might as well get a desktop. At least if something falls apart, it's easier to fix. Replacing something on a laptop requires finding a part that fits that model computer. Replacing something on a desktop is a simple matter of opening it up and swapping parts.

So far the new computer is working perfectly. It's faster than the old computer, but that's always been true whenever I've changed computers. What's state of the art today will be obsolete tomorrow. The most obvious change is that I'm now looking at a large high definition monitor instead of a small laptop screen. It seems huge to me now, but in a year or two it will be small.