Monday, February 11, 2008

Education City

The New York Times features a write-up on Qatar's Education City, which houses Carnegie Mellon's business and computer science programs in Qatar.

Our former Regent Square neighbors (we left, they didn't) just returned from a fall semester of living and working in Qatar that they captured in their blog Monroes Abroad. (Wait until you check out the house that they lived in!) It is an interesting read that captures some of the culture clash that you read about in the article.

I find the Education City model, and the participation of American Universities very interesting. It is kind of like the food court at your local mall. You know, the Orange Julius, a chinese place, a mexican place, a cheese steakery, a pretzel shop, but with universities and majors:

Carnegie Mellon offers business and computer science
Virginia Commonwealth offers fine arts (including fashion design, can't wait for Project Runway Qatar)
Georgetown offers foreign service
Cornell offers medical related majors
and Texas A&M offers engineering fields, including petroleum.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Commodity Knowledge In Your Food Section

The "Food & Flavor" section of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is usually the last place you expect to find coverage of global supply coverage, but today, Gretchen McKay brings together environmental sustainability, farm raised fish and the high protein diet in the closing paragraphs of her early-lent homage to fish:

"...because fish is an excellent source of protein, and also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that benefit heart health, groups such as the American Heart Association still recommend eating up to 8 ounces at least once a week.

The government and other groups track fish with highest levels of mercury, a list that includes swordfish, tilefish, shark, orange roughy and king mackerel. (For a complete list, visit

"As with anything, you just need to do it with moderation," says Ms. Liu. "The benefits still outweigh the dangers."

Then again, with fish prices going the way of gasoline, it's probably not too hard to cut back to acceptable levels.

A boom in ethanol production has caused many farmers to plant fewer soybeans -- a key feed for many species of fish -- in favor of more corn. That, in turn, has sharply increased the cost of raising fish. Fuel costs for fishermen and product that is flown or trucked in has also increased. Cod, by way of example, has nearly doubled in price since the late '80s."

There you have it. Higher demand for ethanol, higher demand for corn, higher production of corn, lower production of soybeans, higher soybean prices, higher fish food prices, more expensive fish.

Post Gazette: "Caught in a rut? Lent doesn't have to be the same old cod and tuna"

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Spoiled Under 30 Crowd

Received this by e-mail from a friend today, and it resonated a little bit more than I would like, especially as I look at my hummus eating, DVR watching, "wet wipe" using kids...

If you are 30 or older, you will think this is hilarious!!!! If not, send it to your parents! They'll think it's funny!

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were when they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning ... Uphill BOTH ways ..Yadda, yadda, yadda

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in heck I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!

But now that I'm over the ripe old age of thirty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today. You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to
my childhood, you live in a dang Utopia! And I hate to say it but you kids today you don't know how good you've got it!

1. When I was a kid, we didn't have the Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the dang library and look it up ourselves... In the card catalog!! (Do you even know what a card catalog is? Didn't think so!)

2. There was no email!! We had to actually write somebody a letter... With a pen! Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox and it would take like a week to get there!

3. There were no MP3's or Napsters! If you wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the dang record store and shoplift it yourself! Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and mess it all up!

4. We didn't have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called they got a busy signal, that's it!

5. And we didn't have fancy Caller ID Boxes either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your mom, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, a collections agent, you just didn't know!!! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

6. We didn't have any fancy Sony Playstation video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600! With games like "Space Invaders" and "asteroids" and the graphics were horrible! Your guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! Just like LIFE!

7. When you went to the movie theater there no such thing as stadium seating! All the seats were the same height! If a tall guy or some old broad with a hat sat in front of you and you couldn't see, you were just screwed!

8. Sure, we had cable television, but back then that was only like 15 channels and there was no onscreen menu! You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! And there was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I'm saying!?! We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons!

9. And we didn't have microwaves, if we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove or go build a fire ... Imagine that! If we wanted popcorn, we had to use that stupid JiffyPop thing or a pan with HOT oil and Real popcorn kernels and shake it all over the stove forever like an idiot.

10. When we were on the phone with our friends and our parents walked-in, we were stuck to the wall with a cord, a 7 foot cord that ran to the phone - not the phone base, the actual phone. We barely had enough length to sit on the floor and still be able to twirl the phone cord in our fingers. If you suddenly had to go to the bathroom - guess what we had to do..... Hang up and talk to them later.

That's exactly what I'm talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You're spoiled!!

You guys wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in 1980! But before you go running your mouth or making fun of us, just remember......We are the ones that invented all of these things for you guys!!!

The over 30 Crowd

By the way there are 15,400 links to "The Spoiled Over 30 Crowd" on Google, including:

A Day in The Life of a Houston Social Butterfly
Living Life Abundantly

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Ambushed in the parking lot...

If you watch the local news in Pittsburgh (and if you live in Pittsburgh you know you can't pass up the steady diet of fires, urban and rural shootings, threatening weather and sports reports approximately 25% of which include at least one person wearing one item of Steelers attire) you may have seen gsully on Channel 11.

To respect her privacy, I will not go out and find a link to the video to the report where she expressed a deep sense of fear about the contents of our hand lotions.

I will tell you that she felt ambushed by a Channel 11 reporter (who did not appear in the story as it aired) who approached her in the parking lot of Waterworks Mall as she was loading groceries into the car. She was asked if she was concerned about a report she knew nothing about and really had no opinion on. They then took her reaction and edited it into the report as if she had been made aware of the whole thing, and used her natural expression of concern as a mother to tease the story promising potential fear.

I guess we feel a little exploited, which makes sense because we watch the local news because of the way it's put together is often like The Daily Show without intentional comedy writers, presenting news that is often literally not fit to print since many of the stories don't even make the newspaper the next day.

By the way gSully was not wearing ANY Steeler gear, and in my very partial opinion, looked fantastic. I was creeped out a little by a woman in a parka who seemed to lurk behind her left soldier.

P.S. It's been an interesting couple of months for Sully's and the local media, more on that later.
P.S.S. I have not been in China since early October. I've just been busy.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007


Riding to work in yet another VW Vanagon yesterday, while talking to G on the phone, our drive nearly hit a bicyclyst at an intersection. It should be said that we were in the middle of the block, the bicyclyst and some pedestrians were crossing in traffic, and the vanagon was inching along through traffic.

The bicyclyst was angry and proceeded from glaring, to standing in front of the windshield yelling, to coming over to the driver's side window. The driver shut off the engine and proceeded to have a heated argument with the cyclist for ten minutes in the middle of the road with cars and pedestrians, including a few police officer proceeding by us.

Then suddenly we were on our way again. By the way, I ate duck stomach last night.

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Lady Liberty Guarding The Entrance To New York Mall in Taipei

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to drink a double venti, sugar-free hazelnut, non-fat latte.
Home to McDonald's, Mr. Donut, Cold Stone Creamery and, of course, Starbuck's.

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Little Mister Sunshine

I spent 3 hours yesterday riding in VW Vans, the slightly newer version than the microbus featured in Little Miss Sunshine. The time spent "en bus" was part of a 12 hour odyssey to travel from the Grand Hyatt in Taipei to the Sheraton in Shanghai.

After leaving the hotel at 7:30 AM our 10:10 Cathay Pacific flight was delayed by Taiwan's "Double Tenth" day celebration show of military might.

Because of certain...let's call them tensions, one can not travel from Taiwan to mainland China directly without first going "someplace else." In our case the someplace else was a connection in Honk Kong for a 2 hour layover.

After landing in Shanghai, the fun really began, a 2 hour 20 minute, 45 mile drive to the hotel in excruciating traffic in a hot and uncomfortable VW Van, just in time to throw our bags down and keep our 8:30 PM dinner reservation at The Grill on the 56th Floor of the Grand Hyatt Shanghai, where mercifully we missed the fire drill.

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