Christmas Tree Poem

Outside of 555 California, next to my office

Taken on my neighboring streets

From my iphone to your screen

Big and red or small and green

Merry found in every little thing

Big and Red

Small and Green -- on my way to work, corner of Bush st and Battery st

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and World Peace!


Jan 6th - my first event of 2010 -- China Environmental Movement

Terraces part way up the sides of the Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan, China (photo from Wikipedia)

If you are in San Francisco and are free from 6:00pm to 8:00pm on Jan 6th 2010, consider joining me for an event to learn about China's Environmental Movement.

I have become our Foundation's unofficial interpreter whenever we have important scholars or government officials visiting from China. This time, I am very honored to be the interpreter for Liu Jianqiang and to kick off 2010 this way!

China’s Environmental Movement - A Journalist’s Perspective

Speaker: Liu Jianqiang 刘鉴强
Co-sponsored by: Asia Society, The Asia Foundation, China Dialogue, Pacific Environment, and the Sierra Club
Free admission but you need to rsvp here to reserve a spot.

Event Introduction:

Please join us for a presentation on China's rapidly evolving environmental movement by one of China's pioneering environmental journalists. Liu Jianqiang is a research associate of the Peking University Center for Nature and Society and Visiting Scholar at UC. Berkeley. He also serves as columnist and associate editor for www.chinadialogue.net.

Liu was formerly a senior investigative reporter at Southern Weekend, China's most influential investigative newspaper, where he provided front-line and in-depth coverage of China's burgeoning environmental movement. Some of Liu's most influential articles include his 2004 expose on the controversial Tiger Leaping Gorge dams in Yunnan province. The story was personally read by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who then ordered the project to be suspended pending a central government investigation. Liu’s 2005 article on the Summer Palace lake reconstruction resulted in the State Environmental Protection Administration holding China’s first state-level public environmental hearing.

Liu was a 2005 nominee for the State Environmental Protection Administration's "China Environmental Protection Person of the Year" award. He received the SOPA 2008 Award for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment from the Society of Publishers in Asia, as well as the TNC-SEE Award for Environmental Reporting in 2009.

If you read Chinese, here are two posts from Liu's personal blog that I find particularly interesting:



Hope to see you then!


Greece Adventure - Day 6 - World's best view from a restaurant

Buffet breakfast by the hotel's swimming pool

I know this picture is beautiful, but no, this is not the world's best view from a restaurant I was referring to. This was just where we had breakfast on this day.

Requested by Albert, this day was our "riding ATV (4-wheel motorcycle) around the entire island" day. Sitting behind Albert, I was worried about our safety for the entire day; and from 10 am to 3pm, I was particularly concerned about my arms and face being exposed to the strong UV light, without any SPF protection. Oh well, now you know how much I sacrificed to make him happy.

Map of the island and a small picture of the ATV we rode

Our first stop was an ancient ruin site called Akritori. This place is known as one of the big well preserved ancient sites in Greece. We parked the ATV and followed some random signs and climbed up and down the hills for about 30 minutes to come to the conclusion that this site was closed to the public that day.

My frustration over this closed ancient ruin site

That night, I visited Akritori's wikipedia page and learned that the site was closed in 2005 when the roof collapsed and injured many tourists and killed one. It is still being rebuilt.

A couple of hours later, we came to the south east corner of the island, attempting to visit another ancient city called Thira (or Thera). This time we also failed to see the site in person, mainly because we were not prepared with water (and sunscreen!) to spend one hour climbing across the mountains under the heating sun. Here is one very important lesson -- the Greek ancient cities were all built in places that are hard to find, on purpose!

According to Dalai Lama, "Happiness is when what you want and what you can get are not too far away." When we heard from a returning visitor the site entrance was super far away, we quickly adjusted "what we want" to something reachable -- the destination then became a small white church located half way up in the mountains that was at least visible from the ground.

In the red circle is the little church we managed to visit by climbing along the side of the mountain.

Little church in the middle of that stone mountain -- I felt like a Kung Fu novel character resting at my secret temple!

By the time we got back on the ground, we were both starving and exhausted. This is also when we found "World's Best View From A Restaurant"!

View from our dining table


The food was surprisingly delicious, too. We both ate like pigs, so those pictures shall not be shown here. However, you have to visit Senor Zorba's website to see the panorama view from their dining room.

We arrived Oia hoping to see the so-called "most romantic sunset of the world". We found a perfect little table at a crepe restaurant waiting for the sun to set. However, due to the heavy clouds, the sky just turned dark and nobody saw the sun. Good thing we saw the sunset the day before from Fira already, so we weren't too disappointed.

Me at Oia, before sunset

More pictures taken from Oia can be found in this previous post.

Fira's city life sparkling in the dark, taken after we returned the ATV and ended this adventure

The nice thing about Santorini is that even if you don't get to see what you want to see, everywhere around is fresh air, blue sky and some kind of ocean or mountain view. Looking back at what happened, we didn't find most of the things we planned to see, but we enjoyed the journey along the way.

PS: Thanks to Ancient Thera's wikipedia page, I was able to see what we missed in the end.


Feel Good, Look Nice, and Shop Smart

Blogging from my new home! The internet connection is finally on. Sorry for disappearing for so long, my friends.

Filing magazine articles. Real Simple and Instyle are my favorite.

I counted, I have moved 10 times since I moved to Boston in 2000.

Every time I moved, I had to pack everything I own and bring it with me. Every time I move, I re-examine my belongings and donate, sell, give away as much as I can. And then I tell myself to not buy things I do not absolutely need, love, or want to carry with me for a long time. (and then forget about it soon after I am settled again)

A few weeks ago, I spent a few hours going through all the magazines I've collected since I moved to my previous place 2 years ago. Before the old magazines went into the recycling bin, I clipped and filed all the articles that I would read or find useful in the future.

View from my previous home's living room.

For girly magazines, I file them into the following categories:
Beauty/skin care -- good tips for now or later
Fashion -- all the classic do's and don'ts
Home decoration/design -- to get ready for my real home
Gift ideas --I love love love these gifting ideas!
Others, etc -- everything else

* As disorganized as I normally am, once in a while when I need to move, I become organized!

No 5 Law of CHIConomics -- the more you wear it, the more it is worth

In November 2008's Instyle, there was an article called "The Laws of CHIConomics -- tough times equal smarter shopping." I remember reading it and thinking -- recession is definitely here to stay.

Some interesting reminders to share with you during this holiday shopping season:

(1) Learn to spot quality: you can't go wrong with spending money on classic styles in basic colors and great quality.

(2) If you don’t absolutely love it, keep shopping: when it comes to big purchases and any major commitments in life, you really need to love it with all your heart.

(3) The right mix of pieces is the key to a rich wardrobe: black and white always look more expensive than colorful clothes. Good shoes and bags and maybe a nice pair of earrings can change the entire outfits.

(4) The more you’ll wear it, the more it’s worth: Super important to keep in mind! This is such a fun "value calculator" for nerds like myself.

Use these 10 questions to calculate whether if something is worth to you or not. Starting with a value of 100, add or subtract as you go:

1. Does it go with more than three things you own? YES (+5); NO (-10)
2. How many seasons can you wear it in? ONE (-5); TWO (+0); THREE (+5); ALL FOUR (+10)
3. Would your boyfriend, boss and glammiest girlfriend all approve? YES (+5); NO (-5)
4. How often will you wear it? OFTEN (+10); SOMETIMES (-10); ONCE (-15) --unless many important people will see you in it, such as your wedding dress, then +20
5. Does it need dry cleaning? YES (-5); NO (+5)
6. Does it need tailoring? NO (+5); JUST A HEM (-5); A LITTLE (-10); A LOT (-20)
7. Will it transition from day to night? YES (+5); NO (-5)
8. When was it last in style? WHEN WASN’T IT? (+10); FALL 1981 (-10)
9. Do you need to lose weight for it to fit? YES (-50); NO (+5) -- this one is the killer rule for me.
10. Will it still fit you if you gain 5 pounds? YES (+10); NO (-10) -- especially important when you plan to eat some big meals with this outfit.

50 and below – Purchase at your own peril.
50 to 95 – Proceed with caution.
100 to 120 – You love it. Buy only if you can really afford it.
121 and above – Bravo: you've just found your new uniform!

Click on the picture to read these shocking stats

Last but not least, here is a shocking page that shows you what else you can get for the cost of a super fancy CHANEL rare alligator bag.

1 month's vacation in Bora Bora or an alligator bag?
9 months education at Harvard University or an alligator bag?
25 years of monthly flower deliveries to your home or an alligator bag?
31 kids in a third world country going to school for 4 years or an alligator bag?

No offense to people with alligator bags, but instead of this bag I will ask for 1 week's vacation in Bora Bora, plus 3 month's education at a great university, plus 5 years of monthly flower deliveries for my friends and families, and sending 8 kids to middle school for 4 year in a third world country. That ought to make me feel so good that I don't mind just using paper bags to carry my things around.