Tuesday, 14 October: David speaks

Tuesday morning, I tried the fried egg with soy sauce, which David recommended—pretty good combination!

Back up at the Huang Hai, I signed us up for Thursday's full-day tour, which cost about $80 a head, cash only please, to be paid on the bus on Thursday. Thus forewarned, I hit the ATM in the lobby, so that we'd be equipped with sufficient cash on the day. I then worked in the lobby until the session that included David's talk, right after the morning coffee break.

The session included two half-hour invited presentations. Our friend Richard Warwick was scheduled first, to be followed by David. Richard had no sooner started speaking than the room was filled with the sound of loud, rythmic but tuneless drums and symbols, right under the open windows! What in the world? I thought it might be a protest march, but the drummers didn't get any closer or farther away. They just stood there and drummed for a good 15 minutes! It was very tempting to get up and cross the back of the room to look out the windows, but Richard was having heavy enough going without more distraction. He's a polished speaker, well accustomed to addressing, e.g., crowds of students, but this was ridiculous; even he was having trouble keeping his mind on his text!

Mercifully, the drums stopped for the last five minutes of his talk and his question and answer session, then held their peace through David's talk as well. As the time for David to speak approached, more and more people slipped into the room, coming from other sessions. By the time he stood up, the room was packed and it was standing room only in the back. This is often the case; he draws big crowds, and then, for the rest of the meeting, especially at the foreign ones, participants (especially nonnative speakers) come up to him all the time, thanking him for making such a clear, easy-to-follow presentation. You'd be surprised how many otherwise excellent scientists, even very senior and experienced ones, and even knowing that half the audience members struggle with English, talk too fast and too softly, mumble, use jargon and slang, and generally have no consideration for ensuring that their listeners get the point!

clams violins We had agreed to split up again for lunch, so I ducked out after David's talk and headed back to the Qingdao restaurant, where once again, I was seduced away from the sweet-and-sour whole fish, this time by "Fried cabbage with clam," which turned out to be the best dish of the trip! It was a mound of tender, green cabbage, stir-fried in oil with chunks of garlic and dried red chiles, and mixed with lots of tiny, sweet, tender clams, without shells, each about the size of my thumbnail. Outstanding!

I don't know whether Qingdao hosts meetings, conventions, and conferences at the same rate all year long, or if we were just there at the height of the season. At the right is the banner for just one of about four that came and/or went at our hotel alone, just in the seven nights we were there. It advertises the 4th China International Violin Competition. An equal number came and went at the Huang Hai.

golf shuffleball Before I went back to the Huang Hai to meet David, I took the opportunity to explore the hotel a little more. They really did have an indoor driving range (on the second floor above one of the pools). Their publicity photo shows five stands, from which guests can, for a fee, drive balls into a net hung in front of a large mural of a fairway. On exploration, though, I found that the stands had been reduced to three, to make room for treadmills, stair-steppers, and other modern self-torture devices. Each of three mahjong tables was enclosed in its own little room. The photo on the right is of a "shuffleball" table (I don't know how it's played), and to one side stood a billiard table under a cloth cover. I found the corner where you could rent golf shoes and balls, but I never figured out where the actual bowling lanes were.

vegetables Dinner again at the Qingdao restaurant. This time, we ordered the sweet-and-sour shrimp again, as well as the beef with green peppers. The shrimp were again excellent, but the second time, the other dish contained way less beef and way more peppers, and the peppers were way hotter! We had to leave most of them. On the side, we had "Mixed bamboo shoots and asparagus with shallot," which was served cold like a salad and was delicious.

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