Tuesday, March 29, 2016

65th Birthday Party

We interrupt our blog series to post pictures from my 65th Birthday Party last Saturday.  We held the party at Pappo in Alameda and they did a fabulous job, including serving octopus family style.  Laura and I met with Chef John Thiel of Pappo last month and he sat down with a blank sheet of paper, asked us what our favorite foods were and explained that he likes to use local, seasonal, sustainable ingredients.  This was not at all like being given a banquet menu to check off the options we wanted -- we designed the menu with him to offer passed appetizers at the initial cocktail party, then the octopus and three 1st course options and 2nd course choices.

First Course
Cream of Asparagus Soup | Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Caesar Salad:  Little Gem Lettuces | Creamy Caesar Dressing | Garlic Croutons | Parmesan
Organic Garden Lettuces | Cara Cara Oranges | Toasted Almonds | Manchego Cheese

Second Course
Slow Braised Leg of Duck | Garlicky Chinese Broccoli | Soft Polenta | Tangerine-Duck Jus  
Steak Frites:  Filet Mignon of Beef | Herb Fries | Sauteed Red Russian Kale | Truffle Butter
Local Seasonal Cod | Spring Onion-English Pea-Potato Hash | Lemon Beurre Blanc  
Roasted Mushroom Risotto |Grilled Asparagus | Leeks | Pecorino Cheese

And, for desert, Profiteroles for all, accompanied by Vin Santo!

What a great meal, and a great experience meeting with Chef Thiel and creating it!

And, yes, after a grand introduction by Laura, I gave a speech:

Thank you all for coming to share this celebration with me.  I hope it’s not contagious, as John Glenn noted, "There is still no cure for the common birthday."

But, birthdays are good for us. Statistics show that the people who have the most birthdays live the longest. 

Dave Barry brings us another insight into birthdays (and he requests that we follow this logic carefully), "Unless you die, you will continue to get older."  He notes that such insights that are one of the key things that separate a professional writer from a person with a real job.

With typical British confidence, and the ability to use 20 words when 5 will do, the author G.K. Chesterton declared that, "The first fact about the celebration of birthdays is that it is a good way of affirming defiantly, and even flamboyantly, that it is good to be alive."

Luckily for me, I’ve made it 65, married Laura, met you all, received my Medicare card, and have everyone here to help with the affirmation.

George Carlin on his 65th noted that, “Today I’m 65 years of age, that’s 18 Celsius”.

In a similar vein, James Thurber, on his 65th birthday, said, “I'm 65 and I guess that puts me in with the geriatrics. But if there were fifteen months in every year, I'd only be 48.”

And what’s the best thing about turning 65?  No more calls from life insurance salesmen.  But, inside every 65-year-old is a young person, peering our and wondering what happened.

So, I’m not 65, I’m 35 with 30 years experience

Thank you for coming and sharing this event with me.  I truly look forward to many more good times and great adventures with you all.

And, everyone had a great time!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Morning Walk in Shenzhen

Arriving in Shenzhen at the new terminal, which was opened in 2013, is stimulating experience.  There are great displays on the walkway from the gates to baggage claim and remnants of the Chinese New Year decorations scattered around.

 Art display on the way to baggage claim

 Chinese New Year decorations in the airport

Although it's February in Shenzhen, the weather is warm and sunny, quite a contrast from Shanghai.  People are out in the morning, exercising in the parks, just as they were in the Shanghai colder weather.  Shenzhen has a subtropical climate and winter is very short and mild.  However, on the other side, Shenzhen's location at the estuary of the Pearl River makes is susceptible to typhoons, generally between July and September.

 Morning exercise groups in the park

 Morning badminton in the park

There are still holiday and New Year decorations scattered around town.

 New Year and holiday decorations

But, the plantings are definitely tropical and the tropical plants are alive and thriving down here (not like in Shanghai, where they were dying). 

 February flowers everywhere

 Tropical plants are thriving

It's early, and the shops are setting up for the lunch crowd that will come soon.

Rows of restaurants getting ready for the lunch crowd

 I head back to the hotel and over the the Free Trade Area in Shekou (just up Nanhai Avenue from the Shekou Port and Ferry Terminal) where the medical and telecommunications companies with which I work are located.  It's sometimes odd going there as there are very few foreigners in most of the areas where I wander, but the Shekou district has a large population of foreigners working there and out and about in the streets, shops, and restaurants.  I take the Metro over to the Sea World Metro Station (45 minute ride, changing lines at the Window of the World Station, 4RMB or 61 cents).

 Free Trade Zone

Lunch for three in Shekou

We meet, head out for a good lunch and that winds up today.  I'll wander more tomorrow.