Sunday, November 30, 2008


Ideas for increasing awareness of an old, historic part of town that is in danger of getting torn down:

  1. Research and create a tourist map of interesting sites.
  2. Organize walking tour, with visits into homes and historic buildings.
  3. Hold a fair, market, or stage a performance on site.
  4. Hold a photography exhibit at a local museum that showcases photos of the area.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Interesting news, I'm not sure I'll be able to make it because I will have a busy summer that year:

THE Shanghai World Expo organizer will begin recruiting volunteers on December 5 to serve visitors outside the Expo site, an Expo organizer reported to the city’s top political advisory body today.

More details in the article itself, basically that not all volunteers have to work at the Expo site and that you'll be able to sign up by downloading a form off the Expo's official website and faxing it in.

Another interesting news item is this:

BOOKSTORES in the city are being hit by high rents and falling sales due to competition from online retailers, meaning many of Shanghai’s largest book retailers may shut down.

Dragon Books in Cloud Nine is the latest victim. To be honest I buy pretty much all of my books online these days. The only brick-and-mortar bookstores in Shanghai that I have any real feelings for are the used English bookstore on South Shanxi Rd and the artsy Jifeng bookstore at Jing'an Temple.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The parents are here.

'Rental units

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mom and Dad, take a look at these before you come over here this time.

Via Shanghaiist and Dan Washburn's Twitter.

"Because sometimes, taking a step back is a way to move forwards."

I think that, because my own childhood is lost in a faraway land, I am vicariously nostalgic through my friends and acquaintances.

Via Hecaitou.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New York Times, General Hints China’s Navy May Add Carrier:

Although he did not mention any country by name, his comments were clearly aimed at the United States, which has 11 aircraft carriers, including the George Washington, which was recently deployed to Japan. Of the handful of other nations that have aircraft carriers, including Britain, France, Italy and Russia, none have more than two.

Maybe if we sold one to China we could drive down our trade deficit a bit and stave of the recession.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dunkin Donuts, Shanghai, 546 Fuzhou Rd (near Shanghai Book City)

Grand Opening: November 20 (soft opening already passed)


Xinfang 60

I'm going to spew forth a stream of quick bits from the conference that I'd like to remember while they're still fresh. I'll write a couple longer posts on specific topics later.

literally running around school preparing for Parents' Day
rush hour on Line 2
sharing a black cab with a new friend
running into mountain at Hongqiao Airport, Gate A1
sharing a room at the Nanyaxing
late-night street-food dinner: delicious wonton and local bananas

getting lost with a couple Canto-accented Mandarin-speaking guys stickers
John B
David Feng
John Kennedy
lunch with Aether and Hecaitou
Adam Schokora
Isaac's "state of China" discussion
Slurpees at 7-11
Chinese-Arabic phrasebooks for sale on the overpass
dinner in Little Africa, corner of Xiaobei Lu and Huashi Zhong Lu
walk through windings streets of Uighur neighborhood

YUAN Mingli stumbling into bed at 3:50am
Jeremy Goldkorn
having my photo taken by a self-described eeePC fan (many at the conference)
being called on by Isaac at the 2018 education blueprint discussion
Andy Li
Tracy Feng
to Chen Jia Ci for dim sum at Chau Kee (周記茗點居)
riding the subway back to 杨箕
late to the closing speech
Alice Xin Liu

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Last night was a beautiful night (so was tonight).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This is pretty cool:

Untitled (Pudong, Shanghai) is one in a series of site specific billboards that responds to the proliferation of large scale advertising images upon the urban environment by indexing the social/political relevance of the billboard site itself. Here, images of workers within the barricade replace the commercial billboard. It is at once a testimony to the workers and their role in shaping China’s hyper modern environment as well as an attempt to neutralize the continual commodification of urban space. This project is part of Zendai Museum of Modern Art’s INTRUDE: ART and LIFE series The project was also made possible by the help of: DDM Warehouse Special Thanks: Zhu Tao, Daniel Traub, Sofia Wang and All the Workers of the Himalaya Center’s Construction Site! For more info on the billboard series please visit

The construction site involved is another Zendai (Big Thumb) project called the Himalaya Center. The best way to see it is to take Line 2 to the Longyang Rd station, cross the road to the north, walk east past the Decathlon and turn left up Fangdian Rd past the New Int'l Expo Center.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

CNBloggercon 2008 this Saturday and Sunday!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

This is certainly unexpected: my (now outdated) presentation on taking the bus in Shanghai was translated into what I presume is Persian.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

This evening I was pointed by a post on U Tech Tips to a couple of articles that gave me ideas on new things to try at school, and I thought they were worth not just Twittering but writing down as a way of thinking them through.

The first is an essay by Howard Rheingold where he talks about a concrete strategy for using critical thinking in class in combination with a wiki and websites to teach a course. This can be something I do with a series of chapters later this year in physics, and with an entire course in an upcoming year. A quote:

[Only] the three students on the teaching team were allowed to keep their laptops open. One kept notes on the wiki page for that class session. Another kept a lexicon on another wiki page. The third looked up appropriate sites in real time and projected them on the screen. Then, during the week after each class session, we followed up the classroom discussions in the forums, and each student who was not on the teaching team was assigned to edit the wiki — to add material that the teaching team had not put on the wiki, to flesh out sketchy notes, to define lexicon terms.

It would be a challenge to teach based on his model: he admits that teaching science in the same format would not be appropriate, and our school/classroom doesn't have the tech resources and connectivity that a college does. But I think that parts of his model could be carried over and take the students to a new level of learning: collaborative, critical, global, inquiry-based and resource-rich.

A second article I think would be useful to me is Beth Kanter's blog post "Working Wikily: The Secret Life of A Wiki Gardener - It Ain't Just Weeding", which details specific strategies for seeding and cultivating a successful wiki (community). Again, a quote:

1. Prepare your garden bed: The garden bed is the actual page or section on the wiki where you want to get people to contribute content or where you'll place it after you scoop it from the outposts. I create a page and it is a balancing act. You need to avoid filling it up with too much content because people will think the page is complete and they have nothing to contribute or get overwhelmed. On the other hand, if you give them a "naked" page - they won't have enough context to contribute easily - unless they are subject matter experts on the topic, have lots of time, and are highly motivated to contribute.

So far I've set up several wikis on Wikispaces and I've been OK about seeding them with starting info, but I've never had a coherent strategy or devoted enough effort to building a community of users. I think this article would give me the confidence to do so on my next wiki project.

Also, I've been thinking of starting a reading group at my school for teachers who are interested in Education 2.0 and related topics. I'm not sure what that would involve, but I'll be brainstorming it in the coming week or two and hoping for a start soon because second quarter begins next Monday.

Monday, November 03, 2008

(This post is a quick translation of LEMONed's "中文網志年會2008 廣州攻略"; all first person "I"s, "my"s, and "me"s are his, all mistakes are probably mine)

Chinese Bloggercon 2008 Guangzhou Intelligence Briefing

This year is the 2222th anniversary of the founding of Guangzhou and the fourth anniversary of the Chinese Bloggercon, following in the the footsteps successful meetings in Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing. Hurry up and register!

Thanks to Isaac, Shizhao, Tangos, lonsonlo, etc, for giving me the chance to work on the conference. I wrote this incomplete guide and I hope it's helpful.

Conference Location

Pingpong60 - located at 60 Xianlie East Horizontal Road in Guangzhou, it's next to the Xinghai Conservatory. It's built in an abandoned but renovated old factory, about 1/3 of the factory is devoted to a main hall, which will be the main setting of the conference; the leftover 2/3 has been turned over to several creative design businesses, with a feeling like Beijing's 798 district, it has a great atmosphere. There's lots of free parking just outside, a drink stand and small convenience store, as well as free potable water. Of course, we will set up wireless internet.

星坊60 #1 星坊60 #2 星坊60 #3 星坊60 #4 星坊60 #5 星坊60 #6

The location is about a one or two minute walk from the Xinghai Conservatory, where attendees who have already registered can use their meal tickets.

Conference Surroundings

Outside the conference grounds is Yongfu Road, the site of the city's biggest auto accessories market and as such nothing much to see, mostly KTV and internet cafes. Over towards Huanghua Ridge and the Zoological Gardens, things are a bit more lively. There's no shortage of places to eat, Hengfu Road has a branch of Guangzhou's famous "Dongfang Hongxing Seafood Restaurant", bars open late, spas, saunas, etc. For more entertainment I recommend heading not far to the Huangshi Road, Taojin Road area.

Conference Lodgings (tentative)

Nanyaxing Hotel, a three star economy hotel with a safe and comfortable environment, is about a 10 minute walk from the conference location. It has 50 rooms, 40 doubles (considering pairing up to save money), rooms with TVs, A/C, ethernet ports, 24 hour restaurant. If you indicate that you are attending the conference you can get the special rate of RMB 150/night.

南亞星酒店 #1 南亞星酒店 #2 南亞星酒店 #3 南亞星酒店 #4 南亞星酒店 #5 南亞星酒店 #6

How to get there

The conference location is down a little road, a bit hard to find, so read this part carefully.

On my Google Map there are also bus stops and routes marked, as well as some landmark buildings for your consideration. For more detailed and accurate information, please consult official sources.

How to get to the conference location and hotel after arriving in Guangzhou

  • Baiyun Int'l Airport - Get off the airplane and follow the signs to the Airport Express bus line ticket counter and bus stop. There's an official schedule, ticket price list and route information on the airport website. I recommend that you take Line 2A or 2B to Huayuan Hotel (Garden Hotel), it's the closest stop to the conference location but there's not direct bus line so you'll have to catch a taxi for RMB 20 or so.
  • Guangzhou Train Station - Don't exit the station, directly go to the subway Line 2 station and board the train. Change to Line 1 at Gongyuanqian station, and exit Line 1 at Dongshankou station. From there, take bus line 285 to Yongfu Road. You can also take a taxi from the train station and it will be faster but cost about RMB 40.
  • Guangzhou East Railway Station - Take bus line 271 to Shahe Road and follow these directions; you can also take line 60 to Hengfu Road and follow these directions. A taxi will only set you back about RMB 20.

If you can, try to get off at Guangzhou East Railway Station; it's best to avoid the main station. If you can't avoid it, please don't leave the station, if you walk around that area you'll run into trouble. Watch out for pickpockets, DO NOT buy anything, don't listen to offers of lodging or female companionship, and if you run into any trouble don't hesitate to call the police!

Guangzhou city public buses are RMB 2 per ride. Taxis start at a base fare of RMB 7, and after 2.3 km are RMB 2.6 per km, with an RMB 1 gas tax added on at the end, with the same fare 24 hr/day. The three largest taxi companies are Baiyun (blue), Jiaotong (red), and Guangjun (Yellow, all Guangzhou native drivers). Other taxis will be green, and one small company is gold. For your protection it's best to choose one of the three taxi companies. If you're from out of town and afraid of getting taken for a ride, confirm upon boarding the taxi that the driver will issue you a receipt upon arrival. This also increases the chances of getting anything back if you accidentally leave it in a taxi.

Guangzhou Subway (the closest stops to the conference venue are Yangqi and Guangzhou East Railway Station)

Taiwanese attendees should think about taking the plane to HK, and then from Kowloon's Hong Kan Railway Station take the train directly to Guangzhou East Railway Station. The journey takes about two hours, the price is HKD 190 (ordinary) or HKD 230 (first class), and there are about 10 trains leaving every day from 7:30am to 7:30pm. You can also take the HK MTR East Rail to Shenzhen's Luohu border-crossing (it's troublesome to take the subway from the airport, but passing through customs is much more convenient). After passing through customs, take the Guang-Shen bullet train to Guangzhou East for RMB 75 (ordinary) or RMB 90 (first class) in about an hour.

Guangzhou Weather

Guangzhou has a climate similar to Hong Kong's, so it won't be too cold in November. According to my experience, wearing two layers will be sufficient; don't bother with sweaters. Watch this space for notices about the weather; I don't recommend trusting pro weather forecasters...