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Michael Armella :: Blog

August 03, 2009

another week here in beijing. This weekend I visited Xiang shan which translates to fragrant hills. This is a park in the far west end of beijing about an hour by bus from tsingua.This place is supposed to be very beautiful in the fall due to the foliage but in the summer it is just hot. It was an grueling and hot trek to the top of the hill, or mountain whatever you would like to call it. The peek was listed as 800 meters or so above sea level so it is really just a big hill but to get to the top you must climb a long stairway that winds through the hillside, because it is not really just one hill but a range of hills that extends the entire western side of beijing. So after taking a 2 hour trip to the top you are so tired you just want to sit and rest at the top and could care less about the view. Then you realize that you have to go back down. Luckily by this time it has cooled and it becomes much easier on the way down only taking 1 hour but still being tired you just want to head home on the 1 hour bus journey.



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July 26, 2009

The solar eclipse happend last week but the weather was quite poor in beijing. It was only going to be a partial eclipse here in beijing, the total eclipse was only visible in the central and southern parts of china, but I really didnt even get to see the partial eclipse due to the bad weather. It was completely overcast and I was not able to see any of the eclipse, you could tell the eclipse had started because it began to get very dark outside. I had all but given up and seeing the sclipse but just as i was on my way to work there was a brief break in the clouds. For brief moment I was able to catch a glimpse of the partial eclipse as the sun broke through the clouds. As I set my gaze upon the heavens I was able to see a crecent sun dimly lighting up the morning sky. As quickly as this awe inspiring sight came into view it quickly faded behind the cover of the foggy beijing sky. While I viewed this only for a few second I felt as if I was lucky to have even caught a glimpse of what was or will be the longest eclipse of the 21st century. Here is a picture of the eclipse taken unfortunately not by me but someone in the southern part of china where the total eclipse was visible:

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July 10, 2009

So I am here at the end of another week in Beijing. Things have settled down now and I am over the initial culture shock of china. When you start to accept the way thing are here in Beijing you start to realize that is not all that different from life in a big city in america. You start to get used to the large crowds and packed subway and buses, well maybe not get used to but you accept that is the way things go here. My daily trek to work takes my pretty far from campus so I do get a chance to see what parts of Beijing outside the university area looks like which is nice but the 30 min commute is not. I must take a bike, a train, and then a bus in order to get to work every morning. Every morning is like a little adventure, altough lately it is starting to become a little more mundane as the view from day to day never changes.

The one thing I have learned from my journey to work everyday is few key characters in chinese which I will now share for any future students who make there way to IBM.  The subway stop I get on at is wudaokou which is 五道口 and I must get off at 西二旗 from there I must walk down to the street and get on the bus to go to IBM. This would be simple as it is a bus for only IBM employees to take them to the IBM building but there is one small problem IBM decided to build to separate buildings in the corporate park named z-park one for corporate headquarters and one for the research labs and these are on opposite ends of the park. So there will be a handful of IBM buses parked on the side of the road with signs in the window that say where they are going. Again this would be a non issue for a china person as they would just look at the sign and see which building the bus was going and get on the right one. Instead it is quite a challenge because of course the sign is in chinese and just looks like a bunch of scribles to me. So I have learned that the name of the building I wish to go to is the diamond building, so named because apparantly the person who named it though it was shaped like a diamond but it is not not even remotely, the other building is called the ring building and it does look like a giant doughnut so I guess that name makes sense, but I digress the chinese word for diamond is 钻石(zuanshi) so I just memorized how to write the last character which means stone because it is only 5 strokes and fairly easy to remember. Everyday I must look at all the signs and find the one that has the character for stone on itand makes sure to get on that bus or else I end up at the other building and must walk a good 15 mins to the correct building. So I guess the lesson in this is that you must adapt to your new surroundings or else perish.

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July 06, 2009

The first thing that came as a surpise for me here in Beijing is how early the sun comes up. It was quite disorienting to see the room fully bright at 5 o'clock in the morning. The food here has been suprisingly good so far, maybe a little too spicy for some people though.

At IBM things have been going well, I have already made some progress toward my project. The project I am working on seems to be a good fit for me. I am probably the only westerner in the entire building though because I have already been asked by the user experience team to make an english recording that they can use to test a progarm they are developing for english transcription.Over all everything has been going quite well here in china so far, hope that continues.

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