Steve's China Blog

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Parts... more or less (geek warning)

I think I discovered the problem with my motherboard...

I am trying to use two sticks of Corsair TWIN2X2048-6400C4 memory in a dual-channel memory configuration. When I purchased my memory I had looked at Corsair's Qualified Vendor List (QVL) and it says that my motherboard supported it, but yesterday I took a closer look at ASUS's QVL for my motherboard. The QVL of the P5N32-E SLI now says that it supports TWIN2X2048-6400C4 memory in either 1 stick in a single-channel memory configuration or 4 sticks as two pairs in a dual-channel memory configuration, but not 2 sticks in a single dual-channel memory configuration.

This leads me to a few options...

  • I can continue to use just one stick of memory (but it seems like a waste to leave the other unused).
  • Wait for ASUS to come out with a new bios to support 2 sticks in a single dual-channel memory configuration (if they ever do support it).
  • Buy another pair of memory here and see if I can get 4 of them running as two pairs of a dual-channel memory (of course, if I want to run 4GB of memory I think I will need to upgrade my OS to Vista or something 64bit. That will most likely present a whole bunch of new problems).
I wonder if 2 sticks would work if I used the oldest bios I could find. I think 2 sticks was supported back then. I will try that after I get back from my trip.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Lots to do!

Most of my long support work week is done. Working 14 hours a day for 7 days straight is not as bad as I thought it would be, but the system I am supporting is pretty stable so we do not have a lot of problems to deal with. The hardest part is staying awake after lunch. Luckily the weather has finally turned nice in Dalian, and I do get a chance to get out of the office and take a little walk every once in awhile.

One of the things about working so early is that I seem to want breakfast. I don't usually eat much of a breakfast... most days it's a handful of granola and some orange juice, but now I started going to the cafeteria in our office building for a Chinese breakfast, and it's pretty good. Today they had some thing that was a little like bread filled with curried bacon and vegetables. Yum!

The May holiday is almost here, and I need to start getting ready for that. On Tuesday I will be flying to Shenzhen to visit Phyllis. I also found out that Jackie will be there that day to attend a friend's wedding, so I get to see two of my best friends in China there that day! Here is the current plan for the rest of the May holiday... On Wednesday Phyllis and I will take a 10 hour bus ride to Yangshuo and visit there for a few days (Yeah, 10 hours on a Chinese bus will be an interesting experience... not sure what I was thinking when I agreed to that). On May 5th we'll head back to Shenzhen and the next day we'll take a ship to Macau for a day. Then I fly back to Dalian on May 7th.

I found out this week that there is a project in ChengDu that wants me and they want me to start on or before June 1st, so it looks like I will be going to ChengDu soon! Now I just have to finish up my current project and figure out my relocation plans and all of that. Lots to do! Lots to do!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Chili recipe

Some of my friends who came over to the Super Bowl party wanted my recipe for chili, so here is how I make it here in China...

Ingredients -

1 jin* lean ground beef
1 medium yellow or white onion, finely chopped
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
15 oz. tomato sauce
1 can (14 oz.) red kidney beans
1 teaspoon oregano
2 to 3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons salt
1 heaping tablespoon black pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons pure chili powder (depending on how spicy you want it)
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (optional - depending on how really really spicy you want it)
1 to 2 tablespoons Sichuan hot chili sauce (optional - depending on how little you need your mouth and stomach)
Beer (not dark beer... used as thinner when needed)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese (optional)

* 1 jin = 0.5kg or 1.1 lbs.

In Dalian I can usually find most of the ingredients at Metro, and the rest I can sometimes find at MyKal.

Directions -

1) Prepare all of the ingredients that need shredded, minced, chopped, or finely chopped and set them aside.

2) In a big pan cook the ground beef until almost browned. Drain excess grease, but save a little in the pan for the onion and green pepper. Add chopped onion and green pepper to beef in pan until beef is browned and the onions and green peppers are soft.

3) Add tomato sauce, oregano, cumin, salt, black pepper, chili powder, and jalapenos (optional). Simmer for 1 to 4 hours. The cooker I use does not have a low setting to simmer, so I usually have to stir it a lot and turn the heat off and on during this time. If it starts to get a little too thick or too hot you can add a few ounces of beer every once in awhile.

4) Add garlic, Sichuan chili sauce (optional), and kidney beans. Simmer for 30 to 60 minutes. If it starts to get a little too thick or too hot you can add a little beer every once in awhile.

Thickness is a matter of taste. Some like it thin like a soup and some like it so thick that your spoon can stand up in it on its own. I usually prefer a medium thickness and tend to make it thicker when the weather is warm and thinner in the winter. Of course, that might be because I drink the beer more when I'm making it in the summer, so there is less thinner then. ;)

Note: If it burns a little while cooking that is ok. Be sure to scrape the burnt bits off the pan before emptying it and stir them into the chili mix until they dissolve. There's a lot of good flavor locked in those burnt bits.

Variations -

You can use ground pork instead of, or along with, ground beef. Ground pork will generally produce more grease while browning, so you will have more to drain.

You can use red salsa instead of tomato sauce.

You can use Montery Jack cheese instead of Cheddar.

Sometimes you can find Chipolte pepper sauce here and can use that instead of the Sichuan chili sauce if you want a more Tex-Mex authentic tasting hotter than hell chili. If you're feeling suicidal you can use them all!

Serving options -

Pour in a big bowl and serve as is.

Crush up some crackers and put them in it if it seems too thin (or too spicy).

Serve on rice or pasta. You may or may not want to cook it with beans if you serve it this way.

Serve with some cheddar cheese and/or chopped onion on top.

Serve with a side of corn bread. The corn bread here in China is a little sweet, but I still like to put honey on it for a dessert.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Long weekend before a long week

On Friday night I took a friend of mine named Ally out to dinner at Paulaners, and then afterwards she took me to JDs for some dancing. We ended up dancing until about 1:30 in the morning. The next day I was suppose to go to a picnic, but I was kind of tired after dancing all night and the weather seemed a little cold for a picnic, so I stayed home during the day and relaxed.

On Saturday night I was going to take Jessie to a party that some Japanese ladies from Dell had told me about, but we could not find the party. We ended up going to Noah's Bar. We ate pizza and watched a band play there. Jessie wore some nice high heeled shoes that I had not seen her in before. She thought they were too high (she's tall), but I told her I thought they looked great on her. You decide...

Noah's Bar is underground and it seemed really cold there after awhile, so we left there to go to my place. We ended up watching a Korean TV show that is sort of like the dating game, but you have five or six men and five or six ladies playing. It was pretty funny. Jesse had to go home early, so it turned out to be an early night. Sunday was spent playing on the computer and watching Poirot.

I had Monday off but I had to go to a meeting around lunch time, so I had lunch with some co-workers and then went to the meeting. After the meeting I left the office and went to the bank. If you've been reading my blog for awhile you know how much I hate dealing with the banks here. The branch of Bank of China that I regularly go to use to be run by a lady named Shuang, and she was really great. She got promoted a few months ago and no longer works at the branch I go to, so the service there is not so good any more.

I had two things to do at the bank... exchange some currency in my account, and pay my Visa card bill. I could do the currency exchange I needed to do, but the bank would not let me pay my visa bill there. When I told the lady there who could speak a little English that I had been paying my Visa bill there for over a year, she said maybe there was a change to what they could do, and I told her maybe it was because they were lazy and did not want to do their job... a frequent problem here. Anyways, I had to go to another branch to pay my Visa bill. A frustrating waste of two hours.

I had yesterday off since I am going to be working a long week this week. Also the long week I am working ends when the May holiday begins, so I get two extra days off at the end of the holiday. I am looking forward to the long holiday and the chance to visit Phyllis in Shenzhen. We are planning on visiting Yangshuo for a few days and a day in Macau.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Super Bowl Party ver 1.0

Saturday night I invited a few friends over to watch the Super Bowl that I have on DVD. It was only about a third of the people that I wanted to invite, so I will probably do some more Super Bowl parties. The turnout was pretty international... We had a four Americans, seven Chinese (plus two children), someone from Holland, someone from France, and someone from Japan.

The menu was typical football game fare... pizza, chili, and snacks. I wanted to serve chips and salsa, but could not find corn chips anywhere that day. I went to four different markets that sometimes carry them, but all were out. We had to settle for pretzels and salsa, which didn't really work.

Here are Dave, Kaoruko, David (behind Kaoruko), Nellie, Rob, and Ivy chatting and snacking before the game starts...

Dave and Cici watching the game and Kaoruko, Nellie, Jasmine, and Maggie loading up on pizza...

Sander, Florien (behind Sander), Sean, and Rob chatting, drinking beer, and watching the game...

Kaoruko and I...

I think everyone had a good time. I spent most of the time making sure everyone had enough food and drink. Kaoruko was a big help! Only the Americans and one of the Chinese had ever seen the game played before. Special thanks to Dave for helping to explain the rules of football to the others.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pizza night

Last night I went out for pizza with a group that is made up of mostly expats. The expats here in Dalian usually have get togethers each week for coffee, pizza, etc... Pizza and Pasta Tuesdays was at the Olive Garden restaurant before, but we tried a new place last night called Didi's Pizza. The pizza there was much better than the pizza at Olive Garden, but they did not have lasagna. Anyways, it was a lot of fun and a lot more people showed up than was expected.

I also finally met Ally. She's from Dalian and works for one of our competitors here. A co-worker of mine gave me her online address awhile back, so I have been chatting with her online for the last few months. It was a real pleasure to meet her in person. She joined me for pizza at Didi's and was wonderful company.

Less than three more weeks until the Labor Day holiday. I am going to be working support the week before (7 days - 14 hours a day), so I will definitely be looking forward to having a week off. Right now the plan is to go to Shenzhen for a few days, then a few days sightseeing around Yangshuo, and then go to Macau for a day. The plan has changed a few times already, so we'll see if it changes anymore before now and the holiday.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Lunch effects

Not a whole lot has been going on lately. It is still kind of cold when it's windy, and it's always windy. On Sunday I went to lunch with Laura at a place near where I live and decided to walk home afterwards. Big mistake... I thought my ears were going to fall off they were so cold. A nice hot shower and a two hour nap, and my ears and I felt much better.

On Monday I went to lunch with some co-workers to a place near the office and had dandan mien, which is spicy ground pork in a rice noodle soup with some vegetables and some peanut sauce. It tasted really good, but I got food poisoning from it and was sick all day Tuesday.

As far as I can tell there are no health inspectors that inspect food or restaurants here. It seems they take a laissez faire approach to food quality here... if a restaurant sells bad food then people stop going there and they might go out of business. I guess with such a large population having a few people die from food poisoning every now and then is not that big of a deal. Of course, if they had inspectors I do not think it would do much good since the restaurant owners would just bribe the inspectors to stay open.

Update: Interesting article from ABC News that has a tie in with the recent pet food problems in the US...

Tainted Pet Food Could Be Sold in China

The tainted wheat gluten underscores China's dismal food-safety record. Mass food poisoning cases are common in the country, many blamed on cooks who disregard hygiene rules or mistakenly use industrial chemicals instead of salt and other ingredients.