I had a serious computer failure a few of days ago. I may have lost email addresses from some of my friends. If you are one please send me an email to re-establish contact.

I've been working since the failure to rebuild my setup and install whatever I can to return the system to a useful state. It's lots of work and some things will remain lost.

I'm learning to use a new camera; a Fujifilm HS50EXR. It's the only camera of its type that I have found. The features that make it appealing for my use are numerous. It has a single manual zoom lens (24-1000 mm [35mm equivalent]) with ⌀58 mm thread for lens filters and adaptors, quick auto setting, somewhat manual focus capability, macro focus, 120°, 180°, 360° sweeping panorama, full HD video, articulated viewfinder and most of the features of any other digital camera in a single unit that isn't too heavy for an old man of my age to carry while travelling.

This picture was taken from the front deck of home this afternoon
(Click for full size). The sweeping composition feature minimizes the distortion introduced by knitting together large images as is done by older panoramic methods.

My next trip to China is booked for 12 February, 2014, returning to Kelowna 8 April. I'm expecting to go to either North Korea or Vietnam during that period, depending on whether I'll be invited to teach English in the DPRK.

Lindea and I are planning to go to Arizona for rock hounding and visiting family in January.

For the past couple of weeks I've been building a workbench and shelves in our garage so that Lindea can make space for me to work on my hobbies and I've been updating the web sites for the 1120 Rock Club of Kelowna and the Vernon Lapidary & Mineral Club.

I'm writing this while attending the 2013 China (Xuzhou) Construction Machinery Fair as a guest of the CCPIT.

Among the large display of a wide variety of construction machines was one which I have not seen before. An excavator with articulated suspension. It was demonstrated as capable of climbing up onto a platform more than 4 feet above ground level. Obviously it is made for working in rough terrain and difficult situations.

The industry presentations were simultaneously interpreted into very good Chinglish; slightly lacking in the finer details of the best language, but the most understandable translating and interpreting I've yet experienced at such an event so far in China. Having a good background in technology, trade and international development helped me fill in the details to acquire a good perception of the presentations from top national, provincial and local officials and industry speakers.

The accommodation and hospitality are also among the finest I've ever been invited to enjoy. It is a wonderful way to prepare for the future as I pass my last few days on this trip to China.

I've been back in Nanjing since 23 August following my wonderful trip to Xinjiang. The experience talking with people seems to get better with time. Yesterday I went to an office where there were about 20 students 19-23 years of age. I was invited to talk with them while they were waiting for an interview. Many of them had no idea why they were told to go there and I am no more the wiser. However, I spent more than 2 hours talking with them. I am always surprised at how deeply students and others at English Corners express their appreciation for the time and effort that I spend with them. I went to Gulou Square English Corner for the evening and spent more than 3 hours there. It got quite cold so I left a little earlier than normal. It's a long ride home on the electric scooter and I felt a little chilled when I arrived.

Hotan (Hetian) was a great experience for me for the 3 day visit that I had. I felt an almost compelling urge to just stay there and look for some way to teach English. It's only a dream but the young people there sincerely want to learn and are very attentive and committed to getting a good education. I was surprised at how lush Hotan is and how rich the people there are. I bought a few pieces of jade and hope I got a good deal. I have almost no ability at evaluating jade. No idea why one piece is priced at many thousands of yuan and a similar piece to my eye is 80 yuan.

I then went to Kashgar (Kashi) for a little more than 2 days. I met friends from my spring trip and bought some more lapis lazuli for Lindea. I like Kashgar also but it is very busy and the traffic is challenging while walking. I had the best teaching and consultation experience of my life talking with a Uyghur (also Uygur) man who is soon going to Norway to get his PhD. I find the Uyghur people are delightful to spend time with.

I have yet to hear from my contacts in the DPRK following the meeting in Beijing 28 September.

Today I completed the purchase of the train tickets for my journey to the west.
The first leg begins Tuesday on train K560 from Nanjing to Xi'an where I stay a night, then Thursday on to Tulufan (Turpan) on train K169 where on Saturday I change to train 5827 to Hetian (Hotan) arriving on Sunday evening.

I intend to stay in Hetian from 13-17 October to do some learning about the famous jade mined in the area, social exploration and sightseeing. Then return to Kashi (Kashgar) on train 5828 and stay there 17-20 October for renewing friendships and making new ones and adding some lapis lazuli shopping.

I return on train K9788 to Wulumuqi (Urumqi) where on 21 October I get train T54 which arrives in Nanjing 41 hours and 54 minutes later at 11:05 AM Wednesday, 23 October. I should be there in time to rest for my son Rob's 29th birthday, 24 October.

I'm not sure how to know when and how to buy tickets most conveniently in China. It isn't a clear straight forward process.
Tickets first go on sale electronically (phone/Internet) 20 days in advance. Sleeper tickets don't allow berth level to be chosen so you may get middle, lower or upper. Next the tickets go on sale 18 days in advance (my experience indicates they become available in the afternoon) at ticket offices. Now you can select lower, middle and upper berths. Finally they go on sale at stations. I'm not sure but 7-14 days in advance. Choose the station option as a last resort. The lines are long and the saving of 5 Kuai isn't worth the wait unless you are poor (really poor) or you need the next available train (OK for high-speed trains or remote stations).

Today I bought a ticket for Kashgar to Urumqi 20 October at a ticket office in Nanjing, but couldn't get one from Urumqi to Nanjing 21 October. At the second office I tried I was told to wait until next week for that ticket. It seemed to be taking too much of a chance to wait so long for a route with only one train per day.

Before leaving Canada I set up an account on the official China Rail ticket site (I have a Chinese bank account with ICBC). I couldn't get it to work for buying tickets from Canada, but thought it might work now I'm in China. I went to a hostel where I knew a few of the staff to say hello and they suggested I use their computer. I logged in to my account (with a helpful young Chinese man that told me which clicks to make) and actually got a ticket for the train I wanted. I needed my USB key to pay but it was in my computer bag at home. Fortunately the helper offered to pay with his bank card and I gave him the cash. He said to take a picture of the screen on my phone to get a copy of the number required to pick up the ticket at a ticket office. I went to another office and picked up the ticket. I got a middle bunk (wanted a lower) but at least I now have all my train tickets for the journey.

Went to the Nanjing International Auto Show.

From the information I see on the Internet, this is the 3rd Nanjing International Auto Show this year.

Mac and I had a wonderful meeting with our contacts from the DPR Korea at the Beijing Marriott Hotel, City Wall, on Saturday morning following the frustrations of Friday when most every plan went haywire. We discussed the possibility of our help for obtaining vitamins and minerals to be used in the production of poultry feed, sanitation chemicals for disinfecting the poultry environment and the likelihood that I teach in North Korea for up to 3 months following the Lunar New Year celebrations of 2014. The three representatives from the DPRK and I continued our relationship building over cups of cappuccino after Mac left for another appointment.

I arrived in Beijing just after 10 am Friday on the overnight T66 train in a lower berth and checked in to the hotel which is a short walk from the main train station. Mac arrived in the afternoon. Mac had a friend arrange for a hot pot supper on the north side of town. We spent more than 2 hours and almost 100 kuai for the taxi to the restaurant. While we were on our way to supper I finally got the call from Mr. Kang that he was in town and hoping to meet us. The Beijing traffic between the DPRK embassy and the restaurant was so bad that taxi drivers refused to bring our guests, so we rearranged the meeting for Saturday morning. When we got to the restaurant the food was very good but the sound level from all the people in the room made communication very difficult. After supper I returned to the hotel by subway and it took little more than 30 minutes.

I returned to Nanjing by high-speed train Saturday afternoon and arrived in time to go to English Corner on my bike. I have lost track of how many times I have been to English Corner at Gulou Square, but it is more than 150 times and may be closer to 200. The only time I have missed attending that English Corner while in Nanjing was once due to illness back in 2006.

Today I bought tickets for my trip to Xinjiang. I leave Nanjing 8 October for Xian where I stay one night and then travel to Tulufan (Turpan), I must wait until tomorrow to buy the next leg of the journey.

The jumper on the fuse of the electric bike opened again and as I was about to fix it myself on the street near a bike repairman, he intervened and cut out the fuse holder, spliced and taped the wires for a permanent fix. He wanted nothing for the work and I could only coerce him into taking 5 kuai. (I wonder how much longer I'll force myself to endure the vagaries of travelling alone in countries where I am blind, deaf and mute to the language. Where even simple tasks are great challenges and small difficulties appears as Herculean burdens.)

Got the bike fixed near home. Charged it enough to reach Roger's place near Gulou Square but it died suddenly about 500 m from his home. Took it to a repairman near there and found a blown fuse. He bypassed the fuse with a wire. Plugged it in while I went to English corner.

It died again about the same spot on my way home so I corrected the fuse jumper myself and got home safely. It took me about 1/2 hour using my nail clipper file to undo the battery screws to get at the wiring.

Bought an electric bike and then went to meet Mac for coffee and plan our trip to Beijing. Gave him the goodies I brought for him from Canada.

The bike proved to have defective wiring and ran out of charge before I got back to Rob's. He came and towed me from near Fuzimiao to home.

I arrived safely in China on my flights from Kelowna to Vancouver to Shanghai and went by subway line 2 to Hongqiao Railway Station where I caught the train to Nanjing. I went straight to Xinjiekou and bought a prepaid 88 plan SIM card for my HTC Desire C android phone so that I could get in touch with my son Rob and find out where I would be staying.

We met at #4 exit from Xiamafang subway station and took a taxi to his home. All's well.

I and a Chinese business associate, a commercial property developer in Nanjing, are scheduled to meet with a member of the DPRK "Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries" in Beijing, China, 27 September.

Anyone interested in being involved with me in the development of social and economic projects in North Korea may contact me with an expression of interest.

While we were traveling this summer a bearing on the trailer wheel burned out. Lindea wants to carry more rocks home with us so after we got home I took the opportunity to replace the axel with one which will carry more weight.

Here I'm finishing the welding to hold on the new one rated at 7000 pounds (an increase of about 3000 lb).

It took a couple of weeks of study, the good fortune of finding just the right axel that a dealer had mistakenly obtained in the wrong size a few years ago, and planning for how to mount it. I got it at a good reduced price and he finally got some money for it.

It fits just right and will likely work longer than I will.

I see a report that suggests the Government of China is considering a carbon tax.

I think it is necessary for people to understand principles of administration that uphold the well-being of human society. The first is that taxation should be limited to those means that are equitable and enable social benefits.

There should never be a tax that increases the cost for the necessities of life. How can a tax provide a social benefit greater than meeting the needs of life? A tax on carbon consumption will create a greater burden for the poor than for the rich. Therefore it is inequitable.

Any necessary regulation of carbon consumption should be done by means that are equitable to all, rich and poor alike. Not where the rich can afford to disregard the cost and where the effect on the poor is an unfair burden. This idea is not only for China, but I believe that China is in an evolutionary period where new principles of civilization can be more easily understood and adopted.
~10 August, 2013.

It is far more desirable and civilized to make friends than to defeat enemies.
~ 7 March, 2013

I've just noticed on Google Earth that I'm now farther west than New Deli, India. I'm hoping that I can carry my belongings back to Canada. I've added 10.75 Kg of Lapis Lazuli from Afghanistan (smallest piece about the area of my hand, right) to my luggage to take home.

Traveling by train from Pyongyang, DPRK, sure gives perspective to the length of the journey which includes a couple of days crossing the Gobi Desert. I've heard that China Rail will soon provide high speed service all the way so that one may travel between any 2 places in China within a day. Probably not true but the planned extent of the high speed rail system appears to be vast.

I've enjoyed the most extensive philosophical discourses in my life during the past 3 days in Kashi. It brings to mind the delight a sage must feel in visualizing the benefits of sharing truths.

I had an amazing second trip to the DPRK. The events and relationships that developed during the 10 days were so different from the expectations of most everyone I meet that I find it necessary to just keep them private.

My pictures from the trip were lost when my hard drive was damaged.

2 Girls miming a tea ceremony in a tea shop window in Beijing near the Forbidden City.

See .MP4 video.

Lindea and I have been working together to finish the hardwood floors in Juhlie's and Patrick's new house.

Lindea and I enjoyed the Chinese New Year celebration presented by the Okanagan Chinese Canadian Association at the Parkinson Center.

Young dancers at the New Year Celebration.

Norm Letnick, Provincial Minister of Agriculture and I enjoy the social atmosphere at the Chinese New Year celebration in Kelowna, British Columbia.

Ladies dancing group at the New Year celebration.

My wife Lindea was honoured with a lifetime membership in the Central Okanagan Teachers' Association for her outstanding service during her career as a teacher for School District #23.

I have booked a tour to North Korea 13 April.
I am planning to be in Beijing for 2 days before the trip to the DPRK to confer on business possibilities.

I have booked a trip to China for 3 April until 3 June, 2013. I'll likely book a tour to North Korea in April.

I have started the year of 2013 at home in Kelowna.

Error is not defeated by violence, but rather with the truth.
The greatness of a country can be seen in the living conditions of the poor and the greatness of a person can be seen in one's relationships with poor people.
Wealth is the product of social relationships and effort. It is not the sole result of any individual. Those who accumulate wealth should understand that the wealth they possess comes from society and therefore they must be made to understand their responsibility to ensure that the health of society is not compromised by the degree of wealth they accumulate. Even the poor can participate in establishing this principle as common knowledge.
As the obviousness of the failure of the world's economic systems becomes more acute and the living conditions of the masses becomes more dire, I dwell on the issue of the changing of hearts and minds that is required to inspire the wealthy and powerful to establish global relationships that will lead to an agreement to create a more just balance between rich and poor. The poor are powerless to do this! It can only be done by people of means.
The present economic state reminds me of these lines from "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner ":
"Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink."


Money, money, every where,
Nor any penny to spend.

~... David Ellsworth