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San Francisco, USA

 

The International Development of China

(Repost of my comment about the preface of The International Development of China by Yat-sen Sun as part of the course world of Creating Modern China on edX.)

Reading Sun's aspirational development plan for the China has aroused me. For an ancient empire in long and deep decay, Sun looked beyond the victimhood from the Qing era. To develop China and improved the livinghood of Chinese people is of utmost importance. But Sun's vision is even beyond that. In his words, "China (is to) be developed internationally under a socialistic scheme, for the good of the world in general and the Chinese people in particular".

In line with all the humanistic thinkers before him, the development should be socialistic one for the benefit of the people. The development of China is not in exclusion of foreigners. Instead, there is an ocean of prospects that has room for both Chinese and international interest. In fact, the need for development is so vast that it necessitates international participation.

The specific development idea may or may not still be the best when viewing with 100 year of hindsight. While I think it is putting too much emphasis on centralized economic plan, using state led infrastructure projects to stimulate development is still a good strategy today. Peculiarly, Sun's vision is becoming realized by the Chinese communist government today. The infrastructure is developed in a breakneck pace. For the first time in the modern era, there is a remarkable and broad based improvement in Chinese people's livinghood. Chinese is even pushing this development model aboard to Africa and parts of Asia. One might hope that this will bring development and prosperity beyond China to other parts of the world.

Perversely, the populist's movement in today's Western world is pushing for an opposite model. In their view, the individual nation states are each for itself. Perhaps not unlike China in the past century, during stress, some people adopt an xenophobic view in reaction. For more than a century, they were resisting change, hoping for a return to the glorious past in futility. Sun's vision is an aspiration for China to build itself. Let's hope it will also be a vision for all to a better future.

2019.09.28 comments

 

Is it not a blessing

This afternoon I was laid off by Uber. After taking care of a few things, I went out for a walk. I wandered in Golden Gate Park and checked out shops on the 9th Ave. I walked into Green Apple bookstore to browse. A short book by Thich Nhat Hanh caught my attention. His writing is easy yet insightful. I found this story about "Good Luck or Bad Luck", a parable about fate is often not what it seems. A misfortune can well turn out to be a blessing. I was familiar with the original story 塞翁失馬,焉知非福, which has made it into a proverb in modern Chinese. How fitting it was to my apparent bad luck today. How lucky I would come across this when it was most relevant. I looked up the original story and shared it here.

近塞上之人有善术者。马无故亡而入胡。人皆吊之,其父曰:“此何遽不为福乎?”居数月,其马将胡骏马而归。人皆贺之,其父曰:“此何遽不能为祸乎?”家富良马,其子好骑,堕而折其髀(读音bì,股,大腿)。人皆吊之,其父曰:“此何遽不为福乎?”居一年,胡人大入塞,丁壮者引弦而战,近塞之人,死者十九,此独以跛之故,父子相保。故福之为祸,祸之为福,化不可极,深不可测也。——《淮南子·人间训》

I was sipping boba tea in a neighborhood shop and reexamining the old classic text. I felt contented.

2019.09.14 comments

 

Mock Suit Case Accident

Mock Suit Case Accident

2019.08.02 comments

 

Uber IPO

IPO Bell Ringing
IPO Bell Ringing

I was so excited to see Uber go public last Friday. On the NYSE podium were our CEO and longest serving executives. We were also joined by a few drivers and business partners. I felt quite sentimental of the moment. Many of us has gone through all the trials and tribulations for so long. Among the team is our CTO Thuan, whom through all these years have been the inspiration and driving force for the engineering team. Together we build the technology platform from the ragtag system that constantly fails into the much more stable and sophisticated platform we have today.

The stock market reception since the IPO is humbling. Much more is still needed to be done to prove ourselves. I look forward to the exciting work ahead of us.

2019.05.13 comments

 

Transit News

This morning I have received three transit news update, one good news and two bad news.

Richmond to San Francisco ferry service has began. First riders are cheerily. Ridership of the new line seems promising. This is the latest addition to Bay Area's resurgent water transit.

The bad new is Chariot shuttle service to shut down. They provides customized bus commuting to San Francisco and other city since a few years ago. But the business is not sustainable after all. It was an interesting option to other mode of transport. Sadly the experiment is coming to an end.

The second bad new is Skip announced a 60% price increase. I already find its current price too high for regular use. Under the new rate schedule, a 15 minutes rental now costs $5. A small convenience does not worth $5 for me. Looks like I'm done with Skip. With the other company Scoot essentially unavailable, the scooter phenomenon is practically ended in San Francisco again.

2019.01.11 comments

 

Clear Sky

San Francisco Clear Sky
San Francisco Sky

The air was super clear on the New Year's day. From the mountain top, I saw Point Reyes, Farallon Islands, Mountain Diablo, San Jose. Everything was in clear view.

2019.01.01 comments

 

Skip Scooter

Last week, I have tested Scoot, Jump Bike and Muni. Today, I got a chance to try the other scooter provide Skip. Sign up was quick. You will need to enter your credit card number and let them take a picture of your driver license using the app. Skip's app is bare bone. The only function is to show you locations of nearest scooters and to unlock one in front of you by scanning the QR code.

Disclosure: my employer Uber owns Jump Bike.

The first step to use Skip was to hunt down one. The app has no reserve function. There is no option to have them start charging money and hold it for you. You may need to walk one or two block to pick it up. Then it runs a risk that it will be taken when you get there and you would have wasted your time. During my trip, I stopped at a shop. I intended to keep it to get back. There is no lock function. You either leave it on or you end the ride and make it available to others. In that case, I had to bring it into the stop with me.

  • Time: 25 minutes (w/8 minutes stop)
  • Distance: 3.2 mile
  • Cost: $4.75
Skip Scooter

Skip's top speed gets up to 18mph. It is plenty of speed to get around town, easily beating private cars or Uber (assuming there is a scooter available for you). The ride quality in SOMA street is bad because of uneven pavements. It shook my brain out riding over it at 18mph with the scooter's tiny wheel. I even questioned its stability in such environment. This rough experience resembled the one I had with Scoot last time. For this reason I still strongly prefer bikes. I suspect most people like electric kick scooter only because it needs zero exertion.

Mobility Service pricing

I spent almost $5 for an half hour of use. This is not at all a bargain. Don't be mistaken by the $1 starting price. I did some research and compare it to other mobility services. Kick scooter's pricing scheme actually makes it the most expensive for all but the very short trips. You can see from the chart above, after about half hour of use, it cost exceeds even the motor scooter with $4 starting price. Jump Bike stand out with a most reasonable price scheme.

2018.10.26 comments

 

Bike vs Scooter vs Bus

The electric scooter come back to San Francisco street this week. The two companies that's licensed are Scoot and Skip. Today I needed to make a shopping trip to SOMA. Scooters seemed ideal. I was excited to try them out.

Disclosure: my employer Uber owns Jump Bike.

Muni Bus

Unfortunately, there was no scooter available near me. No shared bikes either. The bane of shared vehicle is that they are often not available when you need them. Instead, I hopped on a Muni 83X that was coming my way. It was an express bus that drop me off in two stops. Unfortunately, the downtown traffic was horrendous as usual. It only needed to make two right turn into and then out of Market Street. But it was bogged down by endless traffic and a continuous stream of pedestrians. I was stuck on Market St street for a long time. At the end, Muni got the job done. But the average speed was dragged down to mere 6mph.

  • Time: 9 minutes
  • Distance: 0.9 mile
  • Cost: $0 with FastPass
Scoot Kick Scooter

After I was done with my first shopping, I was delighted to find one scooter available on the other side of Brannan St. There was no way for me to just hold on it without starting the trip. I didn't want to risk someone else took it. So I rushed across the street to claim it.

Brannan is not a fancy street. It is barren and lined with industrial style buildings. There was no bike lane. I rode in one of the two traffic lane. The scooter felt very slow compares to cars. Only later when I checked the Strava record did I confirm that it gets to a top speed of 15mph as promised. The other thing I have found out is that Brannan has horrendous street paving. The ride was extremely jarring over the rough concrete, cracks, pot holes, and poorly done patches. The tiny scooter wheels did nothing to absorb the jolts. It was bad enough it felt dangerous at times. The street surface got better on Potrero Avenue. The uphill incline slowed it down somewhat though. The best part of the scooter trip was I stopped right in front of Sports Basement's door. There was no hassle of parking or long walk from bus stops. I ended the trip right there and then walked into the store.

  • Time: 9 minutes (from when I turned it on via the app)
  • Distance: 0.9 mile
  • Cost: $2.35
Jump Bike

When I walked out of the store, the Scoot was already taken away. A Skip scooter was left in its place. But I had bulky purchase. I decided a bike was better. So, I snapped a Jump Bike two blocks away.

The electric assisted Jump Bike is awesome fun to ride. However, the electric power can be somewhat inconsistent. I felt the boost does not turn on reliably when I need it. This one, however, was an energy bunny. I just paddled a little bit and the motor kicked in automatically. I was actually not able to gently cut off the boost unless I brake. The road surface in SOMA seem no better than Brannan St. The metal basket rattles a lot the whole time. But unlike the bone jarring ride on a scooter, the large wheel and wide tire allowed me to take it in stride. I got back to Union Square comfortably and in no time. Jump Bike is my favorite among the three.

  • Time: 13.5 minutes (includes walking time to bike)
  • Distance: 2 mile
  • Cost: $2.17

One more issue about the scooter I want to bring up is its pricing. So far every company charge the same price, $1 plus 15 cents per minute. People pay attention to the $1 number and believe it is cheap. But 15 cents adds up quickly. It is actually the bigger part of the final cost. If you make a 30 minutes trip, it set you back $5.5. This is hardly a bargain.

Follow up (My experience with Skip).

2018.10.18 comments

 

No More Tempered Glass Screen Protector

I have finally removed the tempered glass screen protector from my phone. Shortly after I installed it, I noticed a fine crack appeared. I did not drop my phone. The touch surface remained smooth and there was no problem to use. But the crack looks unnerving. I wasn't sure if the crack is on the protector or on the screen beneath it. [more...]

2018.07.22 comments

 

SF Hill Run 2

I took on the San Francisco Hills again this morning. Besides the usual assualt of Twin peaks and Mt Davidsion, I added Buena Vista Park and Edge hill. The uphill sections are half run and half walk. I chickened out of Mt Sutro. I don't know if I have the stamina to tackle it next time. My legs were on the verge of clamping toward the end. It was a fun morning. [more...]

2018.06.03 comments

 

Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities

The pace of technology-driven innovation from the private sector in shared transportation services, vehicles, and networks is rapid, accelerating, and filled with opportunity. At the same time, city streets are a finite and scarce resource. [more...]

2018.03.23 comments

 

REI stop selling major outdoor brand with NRA ties

REI, Mountain Equipment Co-Op, stop selling major outdoor brand with NRA ties. It announced that it would no longer be ordering CamelBak, Bell, Giro or any other of the 50 Vista Outdoor brands to sell in its stores. [more...]

2018.03.03 comments

 

Long Now Member

Long Now Member

I have been meaning to do it for a while. Now I finally become a paid member of Long Now. [more...]

2018.02.16 comments

 

Awesome Jump Bike

I made my first trip with JUMP bike last night. Their bikes are AWESOME! I'm a hardy bicyclist. I ride all over the city and charge up hills with gusto. I own another electric cargo bike myself. It makes it practical for me to carry my child to Presidio and conquer the hill in the middle. [more...]

2018.02.02 comments

 

Reading Backlog

books

I gathered a whole stack of books in front of me. These are a selection of books I have bought but have yet to read. There are also a handful of books I want to re-read. My new year resolution is to make significant deduction of them in a year. [more...]

2018.01.06 comments

 

Anti-intellectual

Here is a great quote from Bertrand Russell. His target is the French philosopher Henri Bergson, but it just as applicable to anyone from the anti-intellectual fraction. [more...]

2017.10.08 comments

 

2017 SF Marathon

5am on Embarcadero, the still dark boulevard was bustling with athletics preparing for the run. It took 30 minutes for my middle wave to propagate to the starting line. There the bell ringer ringed the ceremonial cable car bell. Ding. Ding. Ding. Off we go. [more...]

2017.07.29 comments

 

Street life abound in Mandalay, so long if you aren't killed by traffic

I have taken a short walk in the streets of Mandalay. The busy street were full of activities. Open air food stalls are all over the place well liked by locals. The streets are lined with all kinds of small businesses. Motorcycles crisscross the streets carrying people to all the places. [more...]

2017.06.14 comments

 

Sleeping in hotel

When I go to vacation, I usually packed the days with activities. I spend all these time and money to go to a faraway places, I want to make the most of my time. I usually use the hotel mainly for sleeping. [more...]

2017.06.09 comments

 

Presidio Heights Development

With CPMC’s California Hospital Campus at 3700 California slated to be shuttered and relocated to the new Van Ness campus, TMG Partners is pushing forward with plans to redevelop the campus at Presidio Heights into residential. [more...]

2017.04.06 comments

 

past articles »

 

BBC News

 

Venice floods: Climate change behind highest tide in 50 years, says mayor (13 Nov 2019)

 

Hong Kong protests: Students fight police with petrol bombs, bows and arrows (13 Nov 2019)

 

'Berlin rocks,' says Elon Musk as he chooses European factory (13 Nov 2019)

 

Australia bushfires: Fresh warnings in Queensland and New South Wales (13 Nov 2019)

 

Secrets of the largest ape that ever lived (13 Nov 2019)

 

Ebola vaccine approved as second jab trialled (13 Nov 2019)

 

Israel-Gaza fighting continues for second day after militant's death (13 Nov 2019)

 

Greta Thunberg to sail to Spain climate summit with YouTubers (13 Nov 2019)

 

New Zealand to hold referendum on euthanasia (13 Nov 2019)

 

Saudi Arabia apologises for video labelling feminism as extremism (13 Nov 2019)

more »

 

SF Gate

 

Is some of Calif.'s .3 billion in unclaimed assets yours? Here's how to find out (13 Nov 2019)

 

Ship traffic, November 13 (12 Nov 2019)

 

Disney’s ambitious streaming service is here. And cable feels the force (11 Nov 2019)

 

Stocks slip as uncertainty reigns in US-China trade talks (11 Nov 2019)

 

Apple co-founder says Goldman’s Apple Card algorithm discriminates (11 Nov 2019)

 

Ship traffic, November 12 (11 Nov 2019)

more »


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