Crazy Meetings & My New Baby (Computer)

Trip Start Jan 01, 2005
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Flag of China  , Shaanxi,
Thursday, November 26, 2009



Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

So what else have I been up to besides mopping up water from my apartment floor?

A few Fridays ago Alisa and I headed to Xian on a mid afternoon bus and as the snow had somehow damaged the new freeway we had to go the old way which though is several hours longer it is also extremely beautiful at the same time. We made it to the outskirts of Xian without a worry but once we hit the outskirts of the city the bus driver was either completely drunk or had no idea where he was going as what should have taken an hour in Friday night traffic took nearing three hours.  I did end up feeling sorry for him as he had half the bus screaming at him and some even got off and caught cabs  the rest of the way.  I had nothing planned until the following morning so Alisa and I sat there watching the amusement that was going on around us and she got to practice her English by explaining what everyone was yelling at him.

Thankfully I found out that her 'bad language’ vocabulary was almost non-existent.
Very much the same as my Chinese ‘bad language’ vocab which is sitting at Primary level.

And I think I would like to keep it that way as life does get frustrating here with all the pushing and shoving etc so Iwould hate to blurt out some extreme obscenities with out thinking about it first.  I think this is the more respectful and safer mode to live in when you are living away from home, your friend, your family and your local police department.

When we finally made it to the small rural bus station (not far from the long distance bus station across from the train station) I walked Alisa to her parents place on East Street and after I grabbed a hotel room I headed across to the hostel for dinner.  I had a wonderful night and far too many beers with Dhugal Fletcher (a huge Couch Surfer host from Perth) an Aussie guy I met sitting across from me.  I was chowing down a Club Sandwich and he was blogging.  Dhugal is a wonderfully well travelled guy and his photos from his travels around our homeland almost made me want to head back home.  He has been in China for I think four months (or was it four weeks?  I can’t remember, sorry mate) and has been bouncing around the place on a personal ‘Three Kingdoms’ tour. 

Simply put, venturing from famous places to unknown places that were written about in the book. 

If one wishes to understand China, one must have some familiarity with the history of the Three Kingdoms and with the lore that surrounds it. Above all this is true story on the middle and upper Yangtze where it seems every bend in the river leads to another site associated with this epoch and to the stories that have grown around it like the layers of a pearl around its grain of historical fact.   If the events seem complicated and the stage crowded with unfamil1ar actors that too is part of China's reality. One might as well seek to know the Greeks without the Trojan War or the English without Shakespeare.

Personally I haven’t read The Three Kingdoms but over the past nearing five years I’ve actually visited quite a few sites that have been associated with it and watched countless hours of it on television so I’m thinking it might be time to piece it altogether and actually read the three books. 

But then again that may take away much of the confusion in my wonderfully crazy life.
I might take another year or so to ponder this question.

So after waking well hangover Saturday morning I ventured off with my buddy Frank (he’s the Backlands guy for this part of China and a wonderfully helpful guy too) on a computer buying adventure as this was THE day.  My deadline had been reached and my patience levels with the schools computer completely depleted and by mid afternoon I had not only found but ordered my new gizmo that (as promised) would have English VISTA Ultimate and English Office 2007 on it when I returned to collect it the following day.

Along with that would be a 500 GB hard drive (up from 250 GB).  This of course goes against me deciding on buying a MAC from listening to both Dhugal and ScottWoz.

My reasoning simply being the fact that no one in any of the places I have lived and taught have ever used MAC’s and as I have always used Windows I can get help from the schools ‘Computer Dudes’ within minutes of me asking for it.  They all seem so cary around tiny hard drives filled with ‘Fix It Things’ and usually my computer is up and running within seconds even with English XP running.  They know the system and the symbols so it is easy for them to figure it out.  I wouldn’t like to imagine what would happen if I was to come home with a MAC Book.  I would have to wait several weeks or even a month or two before I could head to a mega city that could deal with a MAC Book.  So even though I did want the experience of buying a completely new environment I thought it best to stick with what the ‘Mr Fix Its’ know best. 

Sorry MiolmukkaWozz & Newmate MukkaDhugal but I was actually 99% sold on MAC!

Saturday night of course was spent back at the hostel sharing several too many amber ales and swapping travel stories with a small group from England who were out on their first big adventure out and about away from home so they were full of all the same questions I was full of ten years ago when I first went solo in Hanoi Vietnam after a month travelling with a friend.   I always make sure I take the time and of course the extra beers to sit with the newbie’s and do my best to answer any questions they may have be them important or not so important because most of the time it is the not so important or silly questions that are actually the more important ones.

Along with that,  give me a new country and I’m back to being a ‘newbie.’
So as we all know, what comes around actually goes around!
Well I hope we all know this!
We do don’t we!

As was Saturday morning, Sunday morning began with a nice hangover that seemed to freeze somewhere in my head (and never seemed to go away.  Is this normal in snowy conditions?) during the nearly two hours  I waited in the snow trying to flag down a cab to take me back to the computer store to collect my new baby and thankfully when I finally did make it my computer was exactly as it had been promised it would be. 

I ended up with the latest TOSHIBA QOSMIO F501.

Qosmio, meaning "my personal universe"
Originating from the combination of “cosmos” for the “universe” and “mio” for “my”.

If you could invent a dream machine, what would it be able to do? When Toshiba conducted focus groups and survey research to find out the answer to this question, the resounding response from prosumers (technologically savvy consumers) was “everything.” Specifically, prosumers imagined a single mobile hub for TV, digital entertainment, home networking, and mobile computing. “Convergence” was the main message: the best in entertainment and information in one system. The “dream machine” would offer high-quality TV, Internet access, digital playback and recording capabilities, surround sound, wireless Internet, and more. Moreover, it would be fun and easy-to-use, simplifying one’s life so Toshiba set out to fulfill this dream by developing the Qosmio.

I was going to go the X500 but I’m not a huge gamer so for me it was a waste of money and what I have before me is the latest Centrino 2 & NVIDIA GeForce 9700M GTS, 500gb Hard Drive & 4gb Running and a 15inch crystal wide screen along with Digital TV (very close to anyhow, the 18 inch comes complete with HD TV) & FM radio and one hell of an awesome Harman / Kardon speaker system.  If you haven’t heard of them they have been the world’s first in many things and also created Apples ‘Soundsticks’ and now supply for BMW, SAAB, Harley-Davidson and Subaru to name just a few.  So my computer comes complete with a Subwoofer and Bass speakers on the bottom and two beautiful speakers that include tweeters on the dash. 

Needless to say the schools computer speakers and my MP3 player have been packed away. 
Here is an advertising picture of my new baby!
Here is a review of my new baby!

HOW DO I FIND VISTA & TOSHIBA?

As I’m a computer user that does a million things at once and blindly allow my fingers to fly over the keyboard I actually love VISTA Ultimate.  I’ve never used VISTA before and I have honestly only heard bad things about it but so far I actually like it more than XP.  It always stops and asks me if I am sure I want to open or do something (stupid things on my behalf more often than not) and I love its layout and feel.  Most of what many have complained about such as the renaming of certain things I actually find more suitable and user friendly. 

As for all of the software that Toshiba has added I also love that and find it so easy to use and practical.

 When I read about the added ‘stuff’ that came with a Toshiba I was a little worried but right from first start up I have loved it.  Also being a huge music lover I would advise anyone to go Toshiba due to the Harman Kardon speaker system that comes in built.  I spent several weekends testing uncountable laptops and nothing I found compared to the Harman Kardon speaker system.  The latest models such as the X500 do not come with the subwoofer and bass speaker but their speaker system definitely compares to what I have. 

So obviously after my endless search the QOSMIO F501 was the winner over everything else I tested.  Add to Harman Kardon the Dolby Control Centre and you have one hell of an entertainment machine.  BUT I have reverted to WinAmp as my music player as nothing I have used compares.

Beers N Noodles toya…..shane

PS:      Thanks to Aussie Dhugal I can now be happily found back on Facebook.
PSS:    As always all photos can be found beneath the information on The Three Kingdoms.
PSSS:  I added the following a week after starting this blog and how’s this for an awesome happening

So a few weeks ago I sat across from an guy in the hostel in Xian City (Dhugal above) and after saying hello we both realised we were Aussies so we ofcourse said G’Day and proceeded to have much beer followed by a night full of chat on travel, life and computers.  Sometime early in the morning we said Catchya Later Dude and then several weeks later (several days ago) I got a Facebook invite from him.  He found me as he is a huge host for ‘Couch Surfers’ in Perth and one of my very close Travelpod buddies ‘ScottWoz’ stayed with him many years ago and they've been communicating ever since.  Since Facebook is banned here in China ScottWoz and I have been communicating via email and as I have just sneakily got back onto Facebook last Friday we've been using Facebook again.  Aussie Dhugal noticed 'eddakath' was writing to Scott and figured that it had to be the guy he had a beer with a few weeks prior at the Xian Hostel.

WOW, how totally small the world really can be hey! 
What are the chances of that happening again…. hahahaha!
So big thanks to Dhugal for the shifty information on how to get back onto Facebook!
___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by The Butterfly Effect
The album was the beautiful ‘Imago’
____________________________________________________________

THE STORY OF THE THREE KINGDOMS

 If one wishes to understand China, one must have some familiarity with the history of the Three Kingdom and with the lore that surrounds it. Above all this is true on the middle and upper Yangtze where it seems every bend in the river leads to another site associated with [his epoch and to the stoics that have grown around it like the layers of a pearl around its grain of historical fact. If the events seem complicated and the stage crowded with unfamil1ar actors that too is part of China's reality. One might as well seek to know the Greeks without the Trojan War or the English without Shakespeare.

Lyman P Van Slyke, Yangtze Nature, History and the River, 1988.

By AD 150 the Han dynasty (206 BCMD 220) was already rotting from within, the result of a series of weak emperors. The uprising of peasant rebels known as the Yellow Turbans (AD 184) gave three strong warlords (Cao Cao, Liu Bei and Sun Quan) the opportunity to amass their own independent armies. They gradually set up rival territories within the Empire and fought it out for the control of China. The history of their struggle formed the basis for the l4th-century popular novel The Romance 0j the Three Kingdoms, a compilation of fact and fiction taken from the repertoires of l2 centuries of storytellers. It is a rambling saga of heroism and treachery, of larger-than--life heroes and villains against the backdrop of the dying dynasty. Tales from this eat ate also the subject of many Chinese operas.

The Three Kingdoms were:

The Kingdom of Wei: North China, comprising the Yellow River basin; the base of the Qin and Han dynasties. lts ruler was Cao Cao, Duke of Wei, characterized in the novel as the archetypal Chinese villain, a bri1liant but ruthless general. 'Speak of Cao Cao and he is there' is the Chinese equivalent of Talk of the devil'.

The Kingdom of Shu: the area that is now called Sichuan. lt was established by Liu Bei, pretender to the throne by virtue of being a distant relation of the Han emperor. Although a rather weak and insignificant peTsona1ity himself, his royal blood attracted gifted followers, the most famous of whom are Zhuge Liang and Liu's two sworn blood--brothers Zhang Fei and Guan Yu).

Zhuge Liang was Liu's premier strategist and has been held up as an example of military genius ever since. There are numerous stories of how he defeated Cao Cao's larger armies by guile and bravado rather than strength. For instance, there was the time he was staying in an unprotected city when Cao Cao's army arrived unexpected1y. As the troops approached, they saw that the city gate was wide open and that Zhuge Liang, accompanied only by one young servant boy, was perched on top of the city wall calmly playing the harp. Convinced that they were about to walk into an ambush, the enemy withdrew.

 Guan Yu was so revered for his loyalty that he was gradually turned into a god. Given the honorary title Guan Gong, and also known as Guan Di, God of War, Justice and Righteousness, until recently neatly every large town in China had a temple dedicated to him. His statue can be recognized by its distinctive red face, signifying bravery and goodness.

The Kingdom of Wu: The rich and fertile lower Yangtze region, as far as the sea. This was controlled by the treacherous Sun Quan, whose family was the most influential in the region.

 Between Shu and Wu was the middle Yangtze basin, a no--man's land of marshes and lakes. From here one could threaten either Shu or Wu and it was here that some of the most crucial battles took place. On the run from Cao Cao's army, Liu Bei took refuge in this area and Zhuge Liang persuaded Sun Quan, the ruler of Wu, to ally with them against the powerful Cao Cao. Although their combined forces were still far less than Cao Cao's, together they routed him in the critical battle of Red Cliff (see page 89), at a site upriver from modern Wuhan.

 Now it was Cao Cao's turn to flee for his life. Although Guan Yu actually cornered him and could have killed him he let him go, as Cao Cao had done the same for him in an earlier encounter.

But the alliance between Liu Bei and Sun Quan did not last long. Sun Quan tried to persuade Guan Yu to betray Liu Bei and join him. When Guan Yu refused, Sun had him beheaded and sent his head to Cao Cao, hoping for an alliance with him. The grief stricken Liu Bei ignored Zhuge Liang's advice and launched a disastrous campaign against Sun. Before the fight even began, his other sworn brother Zhang Fei was murdered by two fellow officers who planned to surrender to Sun. Liu was ignominiously defeated and Retreated to Baidi Cheng, where he died a few years later.

Cao Cao also died without achieving his ambitions. Although his son succeeded in conquering the other two Kingdoms, it was a short-lived triumph, as he was toppled in a coup d'etat. So none of the three realized their dream of ruling over the whole of China.
 
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