Archive for October, 2006

Oct
25

YiXing Visit

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The clay tea pot center of the world is a hundred miles plus north west of Shanghai in the small town of Yixing. The history of Yixing clay pots is reported to date back to the Ming dynasty when the special qualities of the clay found here were first appreciated. Archeologists have found pottery shards in the area of Yixing from as far back as the Neolithic age – thats about 5000 years ago. The mining of Yixing clay and the tradition of pottery making in this region is a very old one and rooted in the history of China. Most scholars attribute the founding of the Yixing tea ware to monks during the Song Dynasty (960 A.D – 1368 A.D.) while the art of Yixing pottery (tea pots) reached its peak during the Ming Dynasty (1368 A.D. – 1911 A.D.).

Over the centuries the technology of tea pot creation has changed very little but each generation of potters has built on tradition of those who have gone before. Currently the artistry of tea pot creation has evolved, become richer and more varied leaving the traditional forms which I love the best. At this time of individualizm in China the emphasis in clay pot creation is less technological and more artistic. The Yixing clay artists of today strive to capture a mood, idea or story in the simple lines of the Yixing tea ware. Of course there are production pots but my interest is with the Master artist level creations.

Today was a wonderful day and my first visit to this artist haven in Yixing. The full story will follow after a bit of research. I would not be guilty of passing out false information….hahahahah.

Our neighbor Zhou Zong Qi here in Shanghai has been an art collector and antique affectionado for many years. One of his passions has been the special Yixing Master level clay pots. As will be discovered there are many levels of clay pot production from consumer goods to grand Master works of extreme value. Just imagine a David Hockney original in your posession. Stirs the imagination doesn’t it a bit. The fortunate thing was that Mr. Zhou aggreed to accompany us in our quest of Yixing clay tea pots and took us to the Master artist Pan Jun’s studio in Yixing for a look see. Mr. Pan is a mid-level Master who has studied under his father and both of his in-laws – all considered high level Masters – not the highest but after 50 years are well known and their chops are respected. What we found was an impressive display of art work at prices that were manageable – high but manageable. I was able to purchase two wonderful pots while I lusted after several others as well from the Baba Master (Pan Jun’s father). Next year Jennifer says I can get a couple more. In fact our Master artist host Mr. Pan invited me to stay with him and his family for a couple of weeks to learn the basics of Yixing clay pot construction. What a gift that is. Next year when we return to Shanghai I will take a side trip to Yixing and spend a week or so with him and get up to my elbows in clay.

There are many links on the web that describe the special qualities of Yixing clay and report the history of these wonderful little pots. After collecting them haphazardly for the past 5 years now I am hooked on the higher level of these art pieces. Here are some of the links that I have found:
Holy Mountain

Sesational Tea

Yixing Blog

Another Yixing Blog

A couple more pictures from flickr are here.

Categories : China, Yixing Pots
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Oct
10

Kunming China

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Jennifer her brother and lovely wife Xiao Hui and I will be traveling to Kunming China in the morning from Shanghai. The several hour plan trip will end in the Southern provence of Yunnan which boarders Viet Nam and Burma. Cool territory. The city of Kunming was one of the origanal “Silk Road” towns in southern China. The following is a discription I found on the net at TravelChinaGuide.com/

Kunming and its neighboring areasKunming, capital of Yunnan Province, with a history of more than 2400 years, owes its importance to the fact that it was the gateway to the celebrated Silk Road that facilitated trade with Tibet, Sichuan, Myanmar and India. Today the city is the political, economical and cultural center of Yunnan and the provincial center for transport, science and technology and consequently has become the most popular center for tourism in Southwest China.

Kunming enjoys a pleasant climate and does its best to live up to its title of ‘the City of Eternal Spring’. Whenever you are planning to go, the temperature is always pleasant. With its convenient transport links in and out of the city, Kunming welcomes and sees off tens of thousands of tourists every day.

For first-time tourists Kunming city center is an attraction with its two squares and five interlaced roads – Jinma Biji Square, Dongfeng Square, Dongfeng Lu, Jinbi Lu, Zhengyi Lu, Renmin Lu and Qingnian Lu, among which Jinbi Square has the most eye-catching architecture. Qingnian Lu, Zhengyi Lu, and Renmin Lu are the main commercial areas in Kunming; the most popular pedestrian streets are Nanping Jie, Jingxing Huaniao Shichang, and Jinma Biji Fang.

Kunming - Local minority people, KunmingKunming is the focal point of Yunnan minority culture. Some 26 ethnic minorities such as Yi, Bai, Miao, Dai, Hani and more inhabit the region. Each group has its own featured festivals such as the Torch festival of Yi people, the Golden Temple Fair and so on. The hugely successful 1999 International Horticultural Exposition enhanced Kunming’s influence in the world resulting in a snowball effect upon tourism as more and more foreigners come to discover this enchanting part of China.

Kunming - Stone ForestIts alluring highland scenery, bewitching karst landform, varied and exotic habitats and customs and places of historical interest can be found at major scenic spots such as Dianchi Lake, Stone Forest , the Village of Ethnic Culture, Grand View Pavilion, etc.

Kunming has more than one hundred star rated hotels and a variety of a thousand or so guest houses. These provide tourists a wide choice of somewhere to relax after whole day’s tour.

Kunming - Panorama of Kunming CityKunming is also renowned for many delicious local dishes; the most famous ones are Across Bridge Rice Noodle and Xuanwei Ham. You can enjoy them both at local famous restaurants or the night market. In the night markets you will find many pubs, bars and cafes that serve good quality meals.

Lastly, do not forget to buy some locally produced souvenirs for your friends or family when you visit Kunming, such as ivory or wood carvings, minority tie dyings. You will find a variety of stores to meet your specified requirements.

We leave in the morning. Today we will be doing a little shopping here in Shanghai at the “undergound market”. Oooooh that sounds like fun. Here we get to wander amoung the thieves bandets and counterfiters of the Chinese underground. Well its not all that exciting really but we will see a lot of knock off stuff. Currently the market for the knock offs is down from what it was a few years ago due to the Central Government cracking down on the trade since China is now a member of World Trade organization and the copy write stuff…you know the story. The bottom line is that some of the knock off stuff is still available like the Guci purses and Rolex watches but much less than a few years ago. We just go to look. Mainly we pick up non name brand shirts underwear and socks for a good price. The quality of the clothing here in China is getting better every year.

Categories : China, Travel
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Oct
08

Hangzhou Valley

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Hangzhou China is the green tea capital of the world and the capital of Zhejiang province. . Maybe that is too much to say. Maybe another way to think of Hangzhou and green tea is to consider the Napa Valley and fine wine. Some of the greatest wines are now harvested and produced in Napa Valley north of San Francisco. In the same way the green tea know as Dragon Well or Longin comes from the Hangzhou valley. We were fortunate enough this trip to China to take a few days and revisit this enchanted place. Two hours by train and 180 kilometers later after leaving Shanghai we were greeted at the train station by Jennifer’s cousin Fung Fung. We spent the next three days and two nights entertained and dined to Hangzhou’s finest.

We took a trip to visit the Temple overlooking the Hangzhou West Lake were we again lit incense in gratitude for a great year and future bounty as well as to petition for health and recovery for Jo Ni Ni. Jennifer’s Uncle Jo Ni Ni at age 86 is again in the hospital for a recurrence of a bladder cancer that he has struggled with for the past 10 years. The Hangzhou valley proper is hidden among the hills and requires a trip up a winding road.

The day we visited the higher mountains the muggy air felt oppressive near the lake but up at the tea Chateau we have frequented in the past the air was cool and fresh. Chickens with their wings cut wander though the tea fields fattening themselves and running quickly lest the pot catch them. Our lunch at the Tea Chateau found one of them in a broth that was incredible. They say chickens fed among the tea bushes of Hangzhou are the tenderest and most delicious. I can not dispute this. Our lunch was finished with an outside fresh pot of Longin tea sweet and fragrant. I have to say that the last time we visited was nearer the spring and the fresh crop so the tea now in late fall is not as fragrant but still refreshingly wonderful. We are bringing back a few kilos of fresh Dragon Well from the Hangzhou valley. All of the pictures can be viewed at flickr.

Categories : China, Tea, Travel
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Oct
04

Passed Board Exam!

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Well its official. I passed boards. The notice of board results can be seen at the AANA web site under Certification Verification. After taking that crazy board exam I was perplexed as to how I actually did on the exam so its been a long ten days checking for results each morning at the AANA web site. We are precluded from discussing the exam itself but I can tell you that the board exam from the CCNA is very probing and examines your knowledge and understanding of physiology and the anesthetic implications at very sophisticated levels. My exam shut off at 90 questions. From what I have heard from other people this is either very good or very bad. The board exam is a test that learns from your answers what questions to give you tailoring each test individually selecting questions out of the very large pool. Each test is different if I understand this correctly. This has been a long and difficult road climbing this mountain but the view from the other side is terrific. Just take a look at the view.

Currently Jennifer and I are in Shanghai visiting her parents for the Chinese Moon Festival. Each morning I would get up first thing and turn the computer on and go to the AANA web site looking for the board exam results. I know that sounds nuts but I just could not wait for the mail and the end of our trip overseas to find out the results of the board exam.

So what can I now recommend as study preparation for the board exams you ask. First I would not put off any review for the board exam but to study daily the entire time while doing clinical rotations. A through review of medical physiology is a must. My choice is the LANGE publication by Ganong, “Review of Medical Physiology” as a must read. This is not a large text but dense and will require several months of careful reading and rereading to gather the appropriate understanding of the specific anatomy and physiology that is required knowledge to do well on the nurse anesthesia board exam. Maybe I could give you a general example of how specific the board exam is.

One of the favorite subjects on the board exam has been the endocrine system and the interactions with anesthesia. The pituitary glad as you may recall is located in the Sella Tursica, a cave like bony structure and is histologically divided into three sections. In humans the intermediate lobe section is underdeveloped and rudimentary. The posterior pitutiary or neurohypophysis is the site of excretion of ADH (vasopressin) and oxytocin which are structurally similar. It is interesting to note that oxytocin has antidiuretic qualities because of the structural similarity of these two hormones. I digress. The point I am getting to is that the source of the posterior pituitary hormones in from higher structures in the hypothalamus, specifically the supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei. Nerve axons project from these structures and descend out of the “Blood brain barrier” down to the posterior pituitary where they are released when physiologically stimulated. A full review of this and all of the physiology surrounding these structures and the actions of all of the hormones along with the anesthesia implications is highly suggested. Ganong’s Review of Medical Physiology and the Anesthesia and Co-existing Disease book by Stoelting are both highly recommended.

Brother, that was a mouth full. So which part of this do you need to know to pass boards? I am afraid that this is just a small example of the detail between structure and function that is requried. Its been overwhelming and the more that I study the more I realize that I know very little.

Good luck to all that are preparing for the board exam and don’t forget the small details. I guess it would be correct to say that knowledge at a superficial level will leave you really perplexed when you take boards while knowing the fine details will help you navigate your way through the questions. Again good luck.

Categories : Anesthesia
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Oct
03

Big Redwoods and Moon Festival

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While Jennifer and I are traveling in China during the Moon Festival others are traveling as well. After our excursing to Korea, coming back to China is really sweet. Its something about High brow vs. Low brow when comparing Korea to China. Jennifer says that Korea is China’s grandchild. If it is, in my book, they are the Black sheap of the family. Korea is not all that bad just different.
I received a note from Karyn and Mike that they had visited the RedWood’s up north. They were on a search for Big Foot but no luck there. They did have a great time and sent some pictures.

Here is her letter:

Hi all –

I am writing to send you pix of our trip this weekend to Northern California where I finally got to see the BIG TREES – I have been waiting years to see these trees and finally (now that school is over and I have a life again) I’ve done it. As you will see from the pix they really are huge – these are the California Redwoods and they grow to be over 2000 years old. I guess it is the fog in the area that supplies most of the moisture that sustains them. Really impressive!! However today I found out that they are considered small when compared to the Giant Sequoia trees that also grow in northern . The Sequoias are much bigger and have branches the size of the Redwoods – apparently some of them are so old they were growing when the Egyptians built the pyramids (no kidding!!) – they are up to 100 feet around and you could drive a bus through them. I will send you pix from that trip when I make it. We did not see “Big Foot” but we’re pretty sure he’s out there somewhere! Enjoy ps the last picture with me and Mark was taken at a place called “The Wedding Rock” – no there was no preacher with us – so it was just a dry run!

Karyn

The Moon festival is being celebrated here in China and all of the Asia countries. This year Jennifer and I are both here and will treat her family to a big dinner – ON US – for a change. I will start work next month and we will finally have some spare money to catch up with the debt collector.

This afternoon we are traveling a bit to Yang Zhan River for lunch and a boat ride. The camera is handly close by and will be put to a work out. So far I have not been able to up-load the pictures to flickr but I am still trying.

Here is a little about the Moon festival that I found on the web at Chinapage.com. There are some legendary stories for the Moon Festival.

1) The Lady – Chang Er

The date of this story is around 2170 B.C. The earth once had ten suns circling over it, each took its turn to illuminate to the earth. But one day all ten suns appeared together, scorching the earth with their heat. The earth was saved by a strong and tyrannical archer Hou Yi. He succeeded in shooting down nine of the suns. One day, Hou Yi stole the elixir of life from a goddess. However his beautiful wife Chang Er drank the elixir of life in order to save the people from her husband’s tyrannical rule. After drinking it, she found herself floating and flew to the moon. Hou Yi loved his divinely beautiful wife so much, he didn’t shoot down the moon.

2) The Man – Wu Kang

Wu Kang was a shiftless fellow who changed apprenticeships all the time. One day he decided that he wanted to be an immortal. Wu Kang then went to live in the mountains where he importuned an immortal to teach him. First the immortal taught him about the herbs used to cure sickness, but after three days his characteristic restlessness returned and he asked the immortal to teach him something else. So the immortal to teach him chess, but after a short while Wu Kang’s enthusiasm again waned. Then Wu Kang was given the books of immortality to study. Of course, Wu Kang became bored within a few days, and asked if they could travel to some new and exciting place. Angered with Wu Kang’s impatience, the master banished Wu Kang to the Moon Palace telling him that he must cut down a huge cassia tree before he could return to earth. Though Wu Kang chopped day and night, the magical tree restored itself with each blow, and thus he is up there chopping still.

3) The Hare – Jade Rabbit

In this legend, three fairy sages transformed themselves into pitiful old men and begged for something to eat from a fox, a monkey and a rabbit. The fox and the monkey both had food to give to the old men, but the rabbit, empty-handed, offered his own flesh instead, jumping into a blazing fire to cook himself. The sages were so touched by the rabbit’s sacrifice that they let him live in the Moon Palace where he became the “Jade Rabbit.”

4) The Cake – Moon Cake

During the Yuan dynasty (A.D.1280-1368) China was ruled by the Mongolian people. Leaders from the preceding Sung dynasty (A.D.960-1280) were unhappy at submitting to foreign rule, and set how to coordinate the rebellion without it being discovered. The leaders of the rebellion, knowing that the Moon Festival was drawing near, ordered the making of special cakes. Backed into each moon cake was a message with the outline of the attack. On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. What followed was the establishment of the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644). Today, moon cakes are eaten to commemorate this legend.

Categories : China, General, Travel
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