Early this month, robins and wax wings were thick in the trees as they feasted on the gradually ripening holly berries.
San Francisco Bay Area
Bruce and I drove to Palo Alto, CA for his annual checkup at Stanford. His doctor, Harcharan S Gill, MD from the Urologic Oncology Program, commented: “Excellent!” Dr. Gill credits Bruce’s great attitude for much of his outstanding recovery. Bruce had a chest X-ray and blood test at Stanford before leaving. We still have to get a CT scan up in Mt Shasta to complete the tests. Bruce will have to continue with these annual checkups for ten years. One down, nine to go. J
The Penrod northern California family has suffered the loss of beloved Vera, wife of Jay and mother of JP (Jay Pierre), Brian and Trudy. The beautiful memorial service was arranged by Trudy at the Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Castro Valley, Vera’s neighborhood parish. At the beautiful and inspiring service in the vast sanctuary with stained glass windows glowing like jewels, it was interesting to see the many friends and family from Vera and Jay’s sides of the family.
Afterwards, we gathered at the Willow Park Golf Course event center, also in Castro Valley. Flocks of ducks were busy ducking and swimming in the pond near the putting green when Bruce, Parker (my young cousin and son of Michele), and I drove up. Again, Trudy arranged the dining room settings and buffet of fruit salad, cheeses and basket of breads, escarole salad, rotini and grilled chicken. I got to meet Vera’s exercise group; she led the class only two weeks before her passing. A young cousin made a slide show of many images of Vera from a young woman in bathing suit to bride to grandma, set to music like Frank Sinatra singing “My Heart Belongs in San Francisco.”
Tuesday night Feb 12, I drove to Palo Alto from Livermore where Bruce and I were staying with cousin Michele Hively and son Parker. At Renzo's I met members ofBayCHI, a group dedicated to the human element in computing. About fifteen people, half men and women, shared an excellent meal before the main program. I met many interesting younger people who had worked with the speaker, Jason Kunesh, on the successful Obama social networking digital campaign. I had Sicilian Chardonnay with stuffed sautéed calamari and minestrone soup.
Jason was the first director of user experience in US Presidential campaign history. He flew from Chicago to meet with BayCHI. He sat next to me at dinner. He’s very outgoing and an excellent communicator, as were all the BayCHI members I had a chance to meet. He says, “He takes very seriously his efforts not to take himself seriously. SERIOUSLY!”
After dinner, we met at PARC (Palo Alto Research Center formerly known as Xerox PARC) in their comfortable auditorium seating about five hundred. At the start of Jason’s presentation, "True Believers, Geeks and Kool-Aid Drinkers: Tall Tales of Design Chicanery from Inside Obama for America HQ", he asked “How many people here are looking for work?” I turned in my seat near the front to see maybe a dozen hands out of a group of about three hundred. Next, he asked, “How many people here are looking to hire?” Twenty-five or thirty hands show. I had heard that the tech industry had unfilled positions. This is the first time I witnessed that fact.
Returning home after the long visit in the Bay Area, all the berries are gone as well as most of the snow. I gardened a couple of days in the sun, trimming roses and planting dark red grasses, miniature conifers and Japanese maples in two large pots near the front steps in the sunny weather before the next passing snowstorm. My friend Linda is having a big sale at the Boxcar Gallery.
James sent me a darling picture of granddaughter playing with the puzzle we got for her at the McCloud Mercantile.
Snapshot: One Year Later
Over the Spring Festival holiday, I heard from many of my friends in China, young people I met in 2011 while I was working at Tsinghua University. We had cooking parties, visited the art district 798, and painted huahua.
I met Bruce at the lotus pond at Tsinghua while I was brush painting one Saturday in late summer. He was in Beijing doing an internship year at Beijing University in the Total Immersion Program. He is an instructor in the program and is called LaoLi or Teacher Li. He has a BS in molecular biology from Shanxi Agricultural University. We gave Bruce a sendoff when he left Beijing for his hometown where he planned to start his own English Language School. Jerry was in graduate school at Beijing Language and Culture University, studying to be an English teacher.
I wanted to know if Jerry was doing anything fun for the holiday. He answered:
“Yes, I went to Atlanta see the dolphin show, St Augustine, Miami the south beach, Key west sunset, Orlando the Disney world, have a great time there, it's very different from where I live in Kentucky, and this helps me have a overall understanding of America. Hope everything goes well, I miss you.”
Jerry has spent the past year in Bowling Green, KY, teaching Mandarin through the Confucius Institute. He writes to me:
“I'm happy staying in touch with you, too. Now I have met a nice student teacher in my school， we are having fun get together every weekend with some other friends, playing desk games and I go to church with them on Sunday. By the way, is Eunice coming to US this year?”
Eunice shared her holiday with us:
[Eunice’s hometown is Gan zhou in the southeast of China.] “The climate is very good, we have very short winter, just a week ago it reached 82F. These days it's about 60F, but soon the temperature will go up. Unlike big cities like BJ, environment in my hometown is among the best at least in China, my city has the title of garden city. Since we have good climate and good geological location, we can grow many things, every time I go back home I will be fatter, many yummy food can't be found in Northern China.
Today is Chinese New Year's Eve, the most important festival in China, tomorrow will be the first day of 2013 in lunar calendar. I hope everything goes well with you in 2013, big sale of your book, wish you happy and have good health^_^. Love you!”
Eunice and Claire were graduating seniors at the Beijing Language and Culture University in Wudaokuo, classmates of Jerry. She wants to study in the US, but for now she is studying for an English translator test in May. If she passes, my boss at Tsinghua said she would hire Eunice to help translate my novel into mandarin. I understand it is very difficult test.
I asked Jerry: “What about our other friends? Claire and Bruce?”
Jerry writes back: “Claire is now in South Carolina Confucius Institute the same work as me. Bruce is now running a small English Training Company with his friends in Taigu , a county in Shanxi Province and they are doing now much better than the beginning. There is a photo of him.
“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Petty tai tai : )”
Snapshot: Dustin Song Tao Zhu
One of my first friends at Tsinghua was a young man my department found for me through the Student Organization. He and his friends in the Chemistry Department met with me several times for dinner or to have a cooking party in my apartment. I was very happy to hear from Dustin over the holidays. After graduating with a BS in Chemistry, Dustin is altering his educational course, pursuing a degree in finance for his MS.
Dustin wrote to me: “Hi , Petty: It's a long time not to talk to you.
“These days is the biggest festival in China, and I have come back to my hometown in Jiangsu. Today is the first day of new year, I wish you good luck in new Chinese year of snake! GONG XI FA CAI(Chinese old saying: wish you make much money in new year)
“I am still studying finance, and will graduate [from Tsinghua with MS] in 2014 summer. The first picture is one of my photos which was taken when I was an host in our new year festival. I find to be a host was so interesting. And the second one is shot when I participated in the concert and I was dressed in ethnic costume. These ethnic clothes look so beautiful.”
Snapshot: Chinese dumplings jiasuo
Li Zhang and I met at the coffee shop on campus near where we worked. Li was a research assistant for my friend Sara Sterling in the Anthropology Department that year. Li accompanied me on a trip to the Beijing Botanical Garden to translate for me and photograph the penjing collection. Li taught me a lot about Chinese cuisine. She wrote to me this holiday from her hometown in Jiangsu Province, near Shanghai.
“Happy Chinese New Year! I took some photos of Jiaozi made by my grandfather and parents. It's my family's tradition to make dumplings on the New Year Eve. You can see my grandfather's hand in the picture.”
Snapshot: Book Corner
My philosopher friend Daniel A Bell (see Thanksgiving Nov 23 breakfast letter) crossed my radar last week. I want to share the link to this recent Huffington Post article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-a-bell/chinese-nationalism_b_2603116.html
New Ways to visualize and Make Sense of Data
By Hunter Whitney
I met Hunter at the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of ACM (Assoc for Computing Machinery) SIGCHI (Special Interest Group on Human-Computer Interaction) dinner at Renzo’s in Palo Alto, on University Avenue, before the program. This book is an in depth and at the same time broad reaching compendium of ideas relating to visualization of data ideas, including some diagrams by Hunter such as Figure 6.2 Data analysis, the Yin and the Yang.
310pp with many illustrations on every page in black and white and color. You can find this jewel of a book at Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Data-Insights-Ways-Visualize-Sense/dp/0123877938/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1361406540&sr=1-1&keywords=data+insights
See you later