Sunday, August 21, 2011

Minnesota Impressions (8/2011)

Brynne has graduated as a Golden Griffin and has become a Golden Gopher. That brings us to St. Paul, Minnesota, to the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.
The letter "M" for the university looks like an upside-down "W."
Snoopy is a big presence in St. Paul because Charles Schulz was raised here:

The people here in St. Paul, Minnesota are bigger than average. Tall, big-boned, and fair. (Now that's really a generalization!) They also speak funny.

Churches: We have seen one Presbyterian church, one Episcopalian, one Methodist, and we had to go downtown in Minneapolis to see St. Olaf's, so one Catholic church. Otherwise, all the churches we have seen, at least one in each neighborhood, are Lutheran. Lutherans are well-known for helping the immigrant population. We have seen many East African Muslims, Southeast Asians, and Middle Eastern Muslims. (Minneapolis-St. Paul has the largest populations of Hmong and Somalians in the U.S.) We have not noticed the mosques, but there should be as many as there are Lutheran churches! Don't worry y'all, later we saw a Baptist church next to a Lutheran church!

Restaurants and food:
We have seen many ethnic restaurants including Ethiopian, Himalayan, Hmong, and Indian and Mexican (one establishment with both).
There are also many cafes, which are the home cookin' joints. They tend to serve breakfast all day and have roast turkey, meatloaf, and Swedish meatballs. Lots of gravy. Lots of bread and butter.
We ate at the best cafe in the Twin Cities:
Looks like a diner in the 1950s!
Caesar salads come with tomatoes, purple onions, and olives.
Food tends to be salty.
Had "Mexican" one day: the chicken chimichanga came covered with thick chicken gravy!
Out in the suburbs, we ate in the Machine Shed:

The Mall of America: I don't think it is still the largest mall in America. It is the largest combined  retail and entertainment complex in the United States. The King of Prussia Mall in PA has more retail space and a mall in Edmonton, Alberta (West Edmonton Mall) is the largest retail and entertainment complex in North America. West Edmonton and the Mall of America were built by the same people.
When we visited the Mall of America many years ago, the amusement park in the center was called Knott's Camp Snoopy. Now it is Nickelodeon Universe:
The Lego Store has a life-size Transformer:

Menard's: Kind of a Home Depot on steroids. Two floors of your typical home improvement products, but in between are the groceries, clothing, school supplies, toys, etc. They also have the magnetized travelator between floors, where your cart stays in place on the moving ramp.
Just like in China! But China doesn't have a pianist playing tunes from iPad sheet music!

Streets and Roads:
The traffic engineers must have had brain freeze, as some of the transitions from one road to another are quite convoluted. Signage is often questionable, leading one to miss turns, exits, etc. Generally streets are straight and maintain the same name as they are interrupted by expressways, railroad tracks, and lakes. But if you cross a major street, your street may change it's name. Downtown there are numbered streets and avenues, in several directions. So you could have a 8th Avenue SE and a 8th Avenue NE, 8th Avenue N and 8th Avenue S, 8th Street N and 8th Street S and it could be on either or both sides of the Mississippi River...
However, some of the traffic mess is due to light rail construction.

Public transportation:
In several instances I have felt that China was ahead of the U.S., but it really is only ahead of Florida. Minneapolis-St. Paul has light rail and is adding lines, despite the government having had to shut down for a short period. So some priorities are right. They have articulated buses (which means they have the appropriate-sized buses for each route), hybrid buses, and a dedicated transitway between University of Minnesota campuses.
They have automated rental bikes, "just like in China."
If I had come here first, in China I would be saying, "just like in Minnesota."
Bike-friendly campus:

This is the state that elected both Al Franken and Michele Bachmann.

The University of Minnesota St. Paul campus student union has a bowling alley.

Weather: Having come from hot and humid, it is wonderful to come to not as hot and dry. Now if I put the back of my hot hand to my face, it is warm and dry and feels so good. No dampness or stickiness.

New Digs:
Having to build her own furniture:
Spacious bedroom (there is a large window to the left):
Large closet (must be 12 feet wide):
The closet again, well organized:
Bathroom, view 1:
Bathroom, view 2:
Bathroom, view 3:
Hall closet:
Birds' section of the living room:
Living room with sofa-bed:
Office part of living room:
Entry closet:
Eat-in part of the kitchen:
Kitchen, view 1:
Kitchen, view2:
Kitchen, with eat-in area:

Monday, August 1, 2011

Shanghai Museum, Two Tallest Buildings, Ocean Aquarium (7/29-8/1/2011)

Friday, July 29, 2011
Brynne and Tamiko went to the Shanghai Museum to visit the last section not yet seen, Ancient Chinese Sculptures. Sculptural art encompasses pottery and bronzesm which have their own halls. There were two pottery figures from the Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE-24 CE):
The first woman is dancing, and the second is making obeisance by cupping one hand in the other in front of the chest with draping sleeves.
Stone carvings began as animal and human figures:
Dog, Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 CE).
Figure playing "lute:"
Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 CE).
When Buddhism was introduced to China, sculpture followed with the influence of Indian styles:
Buddha, Eastern Wei Dynasty (534-550).
Stone statue of Sakyamuni (Buddha incarnation):
Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577).
A gilt bronze Bodhisattva (Buddha disciple) and Sakyamuni of painted wood from the Liang, Southern Dynasty, and a gilt bronze Avalokitesvara (a Bodhisattva) from the Northern Qi Dynasty:
One thousand Buddha Stele:
Northern Zhao Dynasty (552-581).
Detail of above:
Tang Dynasty (618-907).
A couple lions from the Tang Dynasty era:
These two are represented in larger size as statues outside the museum:
Watch out for that escalator!
Dinner was at Boxing Cat Brewery where Brynne had the fried mac 'n' cheese:

Saturday, July 30, 2011
You could see blue sky today, so we went into Shanghai's tallest buildings.
First the Jin Mao Tower:
Built in 1998 and designed by the American architect firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. At 421m/1,379' it became Shanghai's tallest building, until the Shanghai World Financial Center was built in 2008. Jin Mao still claims the highest hotel rooms in the world on floors 53-87. It is the 4th tallest building in China and the 8th tallest in the world.
For some reason, Jackie Chan was there near the ticket windows:
The elevator took us from the basement (-10m) to the 88th observation floor.
The Oriental Pearl TV Tower:
Brynne and Pearl:
A prayer or wish tree:
A view of the Bund:
Kent's office is just to the right of center in this photo...
Construction on the next tallest building in Shanghai:
Model of the Jin Mao/Golden Prosperity:
It is built to narrow in steps like a pagoda. According to the architects, the tower is a pen, the curved roof of the exhibition hall is the book, and the Huangpi River is the ink.
Looking up at the Shanghai World Financial Center:
A pearl shop on the 88th floor had harvested pearls:
In the center, you could look down into the Grand Hyatt Hotel's atrium:
We returned to the basement, took an escalator to the 1st floor, then an elevator to the 54th floor of the Grand Hyatt Hotel reception. We found another elevator to take us to the 56th floor, to see the 33-story atrium from the bottom:
The Piano Patio in the atrium:
Next, the Shanghai World Financial Center. The elevator went from the basement to the 95th floor, where there was a model of downtown Shanghai:
Took an escalator to the 97th floor, then an elevator to the Sky Walk 100, on the 100th floor. This is the upper edge of the hole in the building. Here we looked down on the Jin Mao Tower:
View from the 100th floor of Jin Mao and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower:
There were viewing windows in the floor of the skywalk. Directly below was the building itself (the bottom edge of the hole in the building), but at an angle you could see the Jin Mao:
Part of the Sky Walk 97 below:
Another view:
A viewing window:
View up the River Huangpi:
View towards Century Park:
Pricking a finger on the Jin Mao:
Back down on Sky Walk 97, a view up at Sky Walk 100:
Sky Walk 97:
Back on the ground, a photomerge of the Shanghai World Financial Center:
Otherwise you can't get the whole thing in a picture by itself:
The Shanghai World Financial Center was built in 2008 by Japan's Mori Company. It was designed by Kohn Pederson Fox. At 492m/1,614' high, it is, for the moment, the tallest building in Shanghai and the tallest building in China (if you don't count Taiwan). It is the 3rd tallest building in the world.
The Jin Mao exhibition hall (the roof is an open book):

Monday, August 1, 2011
Today Brynne and Tamiko went to the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium. It is the 8th largest aquarium in the world and has the world's longest submarine tunnel at 155m/170 yards long.
First a special exhibit of dangerous aquatic animals. Several of these pretty little fish are poisonous!
Yellow Ghoul Fish:
This one is a Rabbitfish!
We moved through South America, through Coral Reefs/Australia to Africa, and then Southeast Asia with the endangered Chinese Sturgeon:
The Chinese Giant Salamander:
A Chinese Water Dragon:
Through Cold Waters to the polar region, then Sea & Shore.
Brynne with an ugly Arapaima:
A Rosetta River Ray:
Then down an underwater escalator to the Deep Ocean:
A Japanese Spider Crab:
Schooling fish:
Green Sea Turtle:
Shark's teeth: