New Orleans – Food, Music, and Culture

This weekend, I spent a few days in New Orleans to participate in the future leader’s forum. Of course, no visit to New Orleans can be complete without experiencing the food, music and culture that the city has to offer. After arriving at MSY around 6AM, I rode an airport shuttle that took me directly to the Intercontinental Hotel, which was a convenient location to visit the French quarter.

Our first stop took us to Mother’s, an restaurant that locals call an institution of New Orleans. They are most famous for their Po’ Boys, which is a traditional sandwich from Louisiana that contains sloppy roast beef with some history. Originally known as a “Poor Boy”, the sandwich uses french bread and roast beef that has been seasoned with beef stock for several hours until it falls apart, then simmered some more to absorb the flavor.

A Po’ Boy at Mother’s, near the French Quarter

Of course, I also got a chance to try some real southern grits, which is hard to come by in California:

A southern breakfast isn’t complete without some grits!

The flavor of the grits reminds me a little of cornbread with a neutral taste; It’s meant to be used as a vehicle for other flavors and condiments. Typically, salt, pepper, butter, and hot sauce is provided to allow patrons to enjoy grits to taste. I ended up using copious amounts of their in-house hot sauce on mine. Definitely not my go-to, but I can certainly appreciate.

Walking further into the French quarter, we pass into the Marina and ended up at Cafe Du Monde, an icon of New Orleans and the uncontested place to get the best Beignets. This was when I began to understand the style of the food here in New Orleans; The powdered sugar stacked high screams of a decadence that few other cuisines can boast. The dessert was merrily enjoyed and the coffee was a great pick-me-up amid the hot summer day.

The original cafe du monde
The original cafe du monde

During our trip, the conference also provided a dinner party on a boat; we had a chance to enjoy a trip down the Mississippi river on the Natchez, an authentic steamboat that has been repurposed for entertainment. We were able to visit the engine room, as well as take in some of the local Jazz music while on the boat.

Jazz Band on the Natchez, going down the Mississippi river

The conference also took its attendees to Mardi Gras World, the warehouse where all of the parade floats are kept each year, and where some of them are made.

Not creepy at all if you don't have a fear of clowns
Not creepy at all if you don’t have a fear of clowns

There was actually a venue at the back of Mardi Gras world that is very reminiscent of the Blue Bayou; A southern night scene with a faux plantation style house in the background.

Overall I had an amazing trip this summer to New Orleans; I was very glad that the conference incorporated many of the city’s offerings, and have found the people there to be quite friendly and the food delicious. I’m looking forward to visiting again during the food and wine festival in February!

Topics in Leadership – Circles of VICtory

Got something I’m super excited to share about!

So Jonathan Chew and I have been collaborating on a speaking engagement for IEEE in a new event they’re calling the Future Leaders Forum. In it, we were tasked with creating a “Lab” on creativity, particularly as it pertains to leadership. Having had experience in both from our roles in IEEE and Walt Disney Imagineering, this was the perfect role for us to stretch our creativity muscles in a positive way.

We started brainstorming about the idea of Creativity and Leadership and soon delved into the relationship of what Leadership is made out of. Soon enough, we came up with this awesome diagram:

Initial concept of VIC
Initial concept of VIC

We realized that Leaders can be described in two ways; The things they do, and the things that are.

The diagram above succinctly describes the relationship. To become a better leader, you must first become better at the individual components, then do the various things that leadership requires.

We’re super, super excited to be debuting this new concept very soon at the FLF conference in New Orleans…stay tuned for the Prezi!

Eye-Fi upload fix: how to get past hotel logins

Having been living in Shanghai for some time and travelling all over Asia, it finally occurred to me that I would be well served with a WiFi-enabled SD card in my Canon D100; Imagine! The wonderful convenience of having to never remove the SD card again, simply uploading pictures through the ether as I return from another adventure.

The beginning, middle, and end of all my problems.

Having been convinced of this glorious future, I convinced my buddy Lee to get one for via on Amazon and deliver it to me when he came to visit. I could barely contain my excitement when I finally got the SD card of my dreams.

However, actually setting it up turned out to be a lesson in frustration. It seems that despite the Eye-fi being marketed as an on-the-go device, wifi networks with splash pages are not supported. It even says so on their customer support page. This is certainly a problem when a huge majority of public places use splash screen like this:

And hotels would often have pages like this:

Basically, any page that forces you to login or click a button before giving you access will NOT work with the eye-fi cards.

Being frustrated won’t help, however; Afterall, my own home wifi uses a similar setup and right now I was about to admit I spent $60 on a glorified SD card unless I came up with a way to bypass this issue.

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China – Huangshan (黄山) Part 2

To start from the beginning of the trip, Click here

Once we were at the top, we found the mountain to ourselves; To our delight. we discovered that since Christmas is not a widely practiced holiday, Winter is by-and-large considered a low season. Lee (Our ever helpful tour guide) told us that we were saving almost a third of the cost compared to if we were to visit during the summer.

After a 30 minute hike from the cable car, we arrived at the most famous of the ten pines of Huangshan, Ying Ke Pine (迎客松).

Looks like the pine is welcoming visitors!
Looks like the pine is welcoming visitors!

Our tour guide told us that this is a common location for foreign VIPs to take pictures while in Huangshan, so of course, we had to observe tradition:

We're friends!
Look! We’re friends!

We continued on for a few more hours, climbing up to Beginning-to-believe Peak and marveled at our luck, as the clear weather afforded us amazing views of the entire range and plains below.

Continue reading “China – Huangshan (黄山) Part 2”

China – Huangshan (黄山) Part 1

Back in December, I had the amazing opportunity to travel with my wife and our friend Senai to the famed 黄山 (Yellow Mountain). We had planned to make this one of our must-see trips while staying in China, due to its relative proximity to Shanghai, as well as being close to Hongcun (宏村), another beautiful UNESCO heritage site in the Anhui region.

Rocky granite as far as the eye can see

There were a number of options getting from Shanghai to Huangshan; A 6 hour bus ride, an overnight sleeper, and a daily flight. We choose the sleeper since none of us have ever tried it, and the price was quite reasonable (~$40 per person)

Senai, looking contemplative as the train rolls through China's countryside.
Senai, looking contemplative as the train rolls through China’s countryside.

The sleeper turned out to be an excellent option, as it was a very comfortable way to travel for the price. We arrived in Huangshan city in the next morning, ready for adventure.

Continue reading “China – Huangshan (黄山) Part 1”