December 2014

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December 2014

Highlights of December 2014

See what we were reading in December 2014

Autodesk University

At Autodesk's annual user conference, Autodesk University, Jon's team helped with a number of events, including the Leadership Forum, for our top customers.


Brunch at Doug and Anh's

We had an early December brunch at our friend Doug and Anh's with Vietnamese cooking and Care visiting Titus, their dog.

Aquarium of the Bay

Jon's team held their holiday lunch at a restaurant near the Aquarium of the Bay. After lunch we toured the aquarium and a couple of the team became aquatic wildlife entertaining the rest of us.


The week before Christmas, Jon was scheduled to speak AUx Dubai. Care accompanied him for a quick mini-vacation in the Middle East. We flew an Emirates A380 on a direct flight over the pole. It was Care's first trip on the A380 and all the amenities made the 16 hour trip pass quickly.

Photos courtesy Autodesk Middle East
The Conrad Hotel was a nice metropolitan experience including its central location and a fabulous pool. While Jon was busy with AUx Dubai, Care wasted no time and started exploring Dubai.  Since Dubai is not a city made for walking, her main means of transportation was the RTA Metro.  The station in front of the hotel was perfectly situated for initiating her travels about town.

December 16.   After a relaxing breakfast, it was time to visit the old city of Dubai clustered around the Dubai Creek.  The Dubai Museum (Al Fahidi Fort) and the neighboring buildings including the sites of the Heritage Village are some of the oldest parts of the city in the Al Fahidi Historic district

Care hailed a private boat to cross the creek and visit the souk markets: spice and gold.

December 17. As any good visitor to Dubai would do - its time to visit the Malls.  (Isn't that what the locals do?)  First stop is The Dubai Mall, the world's largest shopping mall, over 1000 shops, and an entertainment complex. Shopping malls are the entertainment centers in Dubai.    Within the mall, is the ice ring, the aquarium and underwater zoo.  Construction is every where.  Next stop was the Mall of the Emirates, another mega-mall with 520 stores and an indoor ski-slope.

December 18. Prior to changing our hotel to the beach, Care visited the only local mosque permitting non-Muslims visitation, Jumeirah Mosque.  It provides cultural tours for those who want to learn more about the Muslim faith and its practice.

The Mosque architecture is an example of modern Islamic design built in 1998.  The tallest minaret is determined by how far the call to prayer (5 times daily) is to be heard. 

Prior to entering the mosque, we received a demonstration of the body cleansing required.

Prayers are conducted in the Mosque where Muslims pray on a traditional mat toward Mecca.

Returning to the Dubai Mall the following day, Jon and I spent time exploring the exterior and outdoor spaces. Our eyes are  drawn to the Burg Khalifa - the world's tallest building. The view from the 148th floor was pretty impressive.

Our eyes are  drawn to the Burg Khalifa - the world's tallest building. The view from the 148th floor was pretty impressive.

We then checked into the new Four Seasons on the Persian Gulf.

While enjoying the beach and pool, we also had the opportunity to attend the grand opening of the hotel's ultra-trendy rooftop bar with its spectacular nighttime view of the skyline.

December 19.  Friday is the start of the weekend for the Emiratis. We spent the afternoon visiting the Madinat Jumeirah, a beachfront complex themed as an Arabian souk.  There are 2 anchor hotels, lots of shops and a canal for Venice style cruising.  The view of the Burj Al Arab is stunning. 

We topped our day off with dinner at the Buddha Bar, a well known watering hole and night spot.

December 20.  We made arrangement at the Burj El Arab for high tea.  Completed in 1999, it is an exclusive all-suite hotel with a helipad on the 28th floor and a restaurant at 1,053.  The vocabulary of the exterior form is a billowing sail of a traditional dhow. 

The interior surfaces are bathed in gold leaf with a maize of geometric patterns.   Since our visit was pre-Christmas, the hotel was decorated for the holidays.  


Back in the USA....

Among the nicer gifts Jon got, was a Bauhaus chess set by Josef Hartwig. It is beautifully crafted from hardwood and very modernist. Each chess piece is very simple and it reflects the kinds of moves one can make. It came in a wooden case and the arrangement of the pieces is designed, too.

See our Holiday Card

Ai Weiwei

Right before New Years, we went to Alcatraz for an art exhibit by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. It was an interesting juxtaposition of the prison and his art - which was mostly about political prisoners the world-over. The exhibit was in areas of Alcatraz that are customarily closed to the public - New Industries Building, Cellblock A, and the Hospital so, in addition to the exhibit, we saw new parts of the prison.

@Large Ai Weiwei On Alcatraz.  A special exhibit of work that is both art and activism.  Weiwei, an active critic of the Chinese government has personally been detained in his homeland for tax evasion and criticism of the government.  Ironically,
Weiwei worked closely with the FOR-SITE Foundation from his studio in Beijing, creating the site-specific installation in a location he could not visit since he is forbidden to travel outside of China.  The exhibit expresses awareness of those people around the world who have been deprived of their freedom of beliefs as has Weiwei.  There are four main areas of the exhibition. In the New Industries Building, "With Wind" greets visitors in the form of a traditional Chinese Dragon Kite, themed with quotes regarding freedoms. 

In the same building is "Trace".  The faces of over 175 people from around the world who have been detained for their beliefs or associations are represented in over 1.2 Legos.  The stark contrast of the prison walls and the vibrant color of the artist's work is noteworthy. 

"Refraction" situated on second floor of the New Industries Building is viewed from the gun gallery, the walkway in which the guards patrolled the prisoners from above the work area.  The room  contains a massive sculpture of a bird's wing.  Feathers are reflective panels used on solar cookers in Tibet while Tibetan teapots are perched atop of the joints.   The flight metaphor is within the prison confines.

Cellhouse - A Block, another new visitation area, featured sounds of music, poetry and spoken words of those who have been detained for their beliefs.  The Cellhouse Dining Hall housed
“Yours Truly” an area that invited visitors to select a postcard to an individual prisoner and have it sent through the exhibit management.  

The Cellhouse Hospital housed "Blossom"  the fragile, beautiful porcelain flower parts displayed in the most utilitarian of locations.  "Illumination" used sounds of Tibetan and Hopi Native Americans to express their long term repression.

It was a cold, windy day on the bay, so we had to dress warmly. Care wore long underwear and the rat hat. 

Happy New Year! On to an even better 2015

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