Archive for July, 2008


On July 16th, my family and I all went to Calistoga, embedded in North Wine Country. It was beautiful there, and when we looked out the windows of our car, there were rows and rows and even more rows of grape vines. Grape vines in a plain, grape vines on a hill, grape vines everywhere! It really is Wine Country and it lives up to its name. We had lots of fun there, going to the Mountain Home Ranch, where we stayed during the trip. We dwelled in the cabin “Grandma”, with “Grandpa” at its side. There was a massive orange tree right outside our door, and a little cherry-like fruit tree down the narrow paved path. The food was delicious, especially the breakfast fruit. They were truly at its freshest, sweetest point.
We also went canoeing on the Russian River, and many other places. Here are some of the pictures that we took there:

Russian River

We canoed across the Russian River, for 10 miles and 4.5 hours. The scenery was very beautiful, and there were many fish, small islands, trees and campers we encountered during the trip.
On an island
On an island beach amidst the river
Ready to take off!
Ready to take off from the island!
The View
The beautiful view from the Russian River.

Mountain Home Ranch

We stayed here, at the Mtn. Home Ranch, and had a barbeque, played pingpong, ate, and explored the library here. Pretty big, with two pools, a small gazebo, and quite a number of rooms, it was more like a cabin-and-cabin kind than a hotel. No big giant building, no casino. Just a small, quaint, ranch.
Emily feeding the big white horse
Emily feeding the big white horse
David feeding the brown horse
Me feeding the brown horse

Petrified Forest

In the Petrified Forest, almost all the trees you see are stone.
After a couple hundred million years ago, Mt. St. Helena exploded, and all of its volcanic ash fell on this area. Then the water came, and flushed away the volcanic ash, and slowly replacing the wood into stone and quartz, cell by cell. They then became the giants you see today there.
Emily and I with the petrified Mama Bear
Emily and I with the petrified Mama Bear
The Queen
The Queen is a very large petrified tree. It is the one on the ground, fallen, and not the one where the sign is posted on.

Sterling Vineyards

We went to a vineyard of Wine Country. It is on the top of a small hill, so that you have to ride a gondola to get to the factory. It is built in the style of Greek architecture, and There are many gigantic barreles and fermentation chambers. They gave lots of info there. I didn’t even have the thought that wine would take that much time and effort!
The Sterling Vineyard factory, on top of a hill.
The Sterling Vineyard factory, on top of a hill.
The view from a gondola going to the factory.
On the deck of the building.
Wine tasting at Sterling.
The vineyards at Sterling.



LiShui is a magical place. It is where my Dad was born, where he would help his dad on the farm. The scenery is beautiful, with the graceful lakes and quaint little towns. I have been there a number of times, and I loved it. I loved to chase the chickens about the cobblestone tracks. Every time I went there was a great, fun memory.

LiShui is composed of one city, seven counties, among one of the counties made up of the Shè group. They all have towns, and they all are lovely. Among the towns is XiaoXi, or ‘little river’. That is where my dad was born. They all speak LiShuihua - Language of LiShui – instead of Mandarin. They taught me a little, like how to say ‘I am a LiShui person’.

LiShui is about the same size as the Bay Area. It is on the south-western side of the ZheJiang province and it tilts up from the south-western side to the north-eastern side, where the mountains are plentiful. There are not as many people in LiShui as in the Bay Area, though. The lower population density offers more land for building, farming, etc.

LiShui has a great big amount of trees. In fact, it has gotten the nickname “The Foliage Ocean of ZheJiang.” Every time I went there, I always marveled at the great green mountains. It also has much running water, so that many waterpower stations can be built. It 600 current waterpower stations has a potential waterpower of 2M Kilowatts. Then, LiShui will have more than enough energy to keep people going.

LiShui also has a ton of precious rocks and minerals, such as gold, silver, lead, zinc, etc. The 500 mines full of these rocks and minerals give it national acclaim. They use the abundant trees, rocks, and minerals to make traditional handiworks, like wooden toys, small electronics, gold pens, etc. They are very famous throughout ZheJiang and beyond.

LiShui is also a great farming capital. It makes teas, edible fungi, vegetables, and nuts, anything you can imagine. Foods such as Xiang Gu Mushrooms, bamboo shoots, etc. are known throughout ZheJiang.

As you can see, Lishui is a wonderful place in scenery and farming, and its trees and lakes only add to the charm. It has been a wonderful experience for me, from seeing my Dad’s old house to picking oranges from an orange tree. Its scenery is amazing, and I hope you will go there sometime, too!

David Xie


The Better One: Stienway or Yamaha?


The Yamaha Corporation has been going for about 110 years. The founder, Torakusu Yamaha, started liking making instruments when he was told to fix a neighbor’s organ. He soon developed Nippon Gaku Ltd., which made organs. It expanded to Pianos, Harmonicas, then to motorcycles, etc.

Yamahas have a wide range of price. Small, upright, 44” ones may cost about $3,400, while large, grand, and 50” C and S series ones are $12,000. Most of them are about $6,500.

Sound Quality
The tone of sound is moderate. It is soft, and very responsive, so that even if you touch it softly, it will make a nice sound. Unfortunately, Grand pianos might sound “brittle”.

There are many different kinds of pianos, with electric, acoustic, upright, and grand. New kinds allow you to record yourself, and play with yourself. You can also play with a CD. Their technology and time put into the pianos is great.

Unfortunately, Yamahas’ durability is not so good. The wood that they use is naturally hard and not of top perfection, so a 50 year old Yamaha is not so healthy.

On a good tone, it is a pretty good piano, and many people use them. On a harder tone, it is quite less than its reputation.

Yamaha Dikslavier Grand
Yamaha Dikslavier Grand

Yamaha P121NT Upright
Yamaha P121NT Upright

Yamaha YPG535 Electric Keyboard
Yamaha YPG535 Electric Keyboard


Steinway was founded by Henry Steinway in 1853, in New York. He already had made 482 pianos before starting the company, which let him make bigger, better ones.

The Steinways are very expensive. Large and luxurious ones might even go up to $168,000!
The lowest average price would be about $19,500 for a 48” upright piano.

Sound Quality
Very deep and rich, and the pedal provides a great smoothing sound instead of ‘mushing’ sound, as the other pianos have. It is truly a great sounding piece of furniture.

There are many types, electric, grand, upright, but also special edition ones from around the world, re-makes of historic ones, and other pianos that no other company has. Yet they all have the unique, full sound of the Steinway.

Steinway’s durability is very good. They may last up to a lifetime, maybe even two. This definitely compares to the Yamaha, with only about 30 years of beautiful melody.

Very nice sound, very nice looks, very nice durability. The Steinway is simply the best in pianos and people take pride in playing one. One thing: the price is a bit too high, though.




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这故事好像真实又象虚幻的情境。——by 五月天《时光机》

Some photos about Xiaoxi.

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It was July 4th, Independence Day. On this day, but in 1776, 40 signatures appeared on the Declaration, 39 from the members of the Colonial Congress (3 from each of the 13 colonies) and one from the President of the Congress. The thirteen colonies were one that day, united as America. They had to go through a hard and perilous war to come to this point, but it was worth it. They were free of British Rule, red-coated soldiers invading, and taxation without representation.

Now, 232 years later, we still celebrate this heroic day. Parades weave through the town, the stars and stripes waving at almost every house. Little shops sell little souvenirs. I got a little dragon from one of the shops. But the most famous, the most traditional, the biggest, the best part of 7/4 is the Fireworks!

I had seen many fireworks on TV, but this is the first time I remember seeing them live. They were AWESOME! Red, blue, gold, silver, every color in the rainbow was blasted in to the air. In the beginning it was cool, but as luck would have it, the thick SF fog came in hard on Berkeley, where we were, and the fireworks were completely engulfed with the clouds. Then, all you could see was the sky light up with one color, then another, but not really the fireworks. After about 15 of the 30 minutes of fireworks passed, most people were heading for their cars. It ended up being a he traffic jam that kept us sitting in the car not moving at all for about an hour.

Still, I had a wonderful time. My favorite firework was a series of small but loud explosions going off simultaneously. The result? A series of loud car alarms going off simultaneously. It completely cracked me up. This is to be a Fourth of July to remember!

For more info about FIREWORKS, click here.
For more info about INDEPENDENCE DAY (7/4) click here.

David Xie
July 7, 2008



Swimming is such a wonderful sport. Its tips and turns are tricky and many people can be made rich and famous by it. It can also be a relaxing kind of activity, lying on the warm water, feeling the soft little waves rock you side to side. Yes, it is comfortable, and it can also bring good health, as it exercises the whole body, from the tips of your fingers to the points of your toes.

There are four different kinds, or strokes, of swimming: Butterfly, Backstroke (back crawl), Breaststroke, and Freestyle (front crawl). Each one looks different, feels different, and goes a different speed.

Butterfly is tiring, as your arms have to heave over the water and bring your body up as your feet are kicking together rhythmically. But once it has been perfected, it looks a lot like a butterfly on the water.

Backstroke is the only stroke on your back, while your arms enter and exit the water in a circular motion, one at a time. The feet kick separately, so if one foot is kicking up, the other is kicking down. It goes quite fast, and is also relaxing.

Breaststroke is based on a frog, as it looks like. Your arms pull back as your head comes up, then shoot forward as you feet are doing some kind of ‘scissor kick’. It is not as fast as the others.

Freestyle is the fastest stroke of all. It is pretty much backstroke on your belly, with you feet kicking furiously, and your arms are swinging your head. There is always a love for freestyle in everyone, because of is speed and easiness.

Races might occur often if you are on a team. I love them, as they let you show how much you improved during the time between. The heat of the race pushes you on, urging you to go faster. When you finish, you might be surprised at the awesome time you made, or, unfortunately, dismayed. But that is that, and there are many other things to be happy about. The food is great, and my favorite is the Cup of Noodles, which are convenient, fast, and tasty. There might be some other games gong on, and I like a lot to play with my friends. They are always such a lively group!

Practice usually happens daily, for lengthy periods of time without practicing may seriously hurt your performance. It might be tiring at first, but with me, it gets better afterwards. I especially like my coach, Coach Michelle, because she is funny and likes to make jokes a lot. Now that I don’t see her anymore (it is summer break) I feel kind of sad. The Coach is often a big part of the practice.

Swimming in the ocean is very different than swimming in the pool. The colossal waves might splash you away, but it is still very fun. Also, since it is saltwater, it lets you float even higher and easier, so that it would be easier to swim. But you always have to be careful for your mouth. The water is very salty, with various bacteria in it, so you always have to be careful. Still, it is a very fun experience to enjoy.

So, however you like it, competitive or fun, or if you are lazy or active, swimming is certainly just for you! It gives you a full body workout, while you can still relax. With all these wonderful things about it, swimming is sure to come up on your to-do list!

David Xie


The Math of an Egg

Here are some questions dealing with a normal hen egg.
1. What is the volume of the egg?
…How do you figure it out?
2. What is the surface area of an egg?
…How do you figure it out?