Monday, March 31, 2008

Tidal Power for Vietnam?

Last Fall I was riding my bike along the San Francisco Bay and I was struck by an idea. If you look across the bay, you can see it's a huge body of water. Between high and low tides, an impressive mass of water is shifted by a meter or so. What if you could harness the movement of that mass? I thought about it and came up with the simple idea for generating electricity from this tidal flow. It turns out that there are a lot of folks who have had this idea. I did some searching around but didn't find any similar inventions, until I ran across these guys at Tidal Electric. It turns out they patented a very similar idea about 10 years ago. At least my idea was worth a patent, if not by me. If you're interested in the topic, they have a very nice history and some good animations of how tidal power generation works. My idea was basically this animation but with a turbine stuck in one of the walls to generate electricity from the flow.

I think that this kind of power generation would work well for Vietnam. The country is pretty much all coast. Building tidal power generation here seems like a good match. The country is growing like crazy, and there are regular power shortages, especially at the end of the rainy season when the hydro power runs out. Anyone know of any tidal power generation projects happening in Vietnam?

I seems the folks at Tidal Electric did some sort of deal with China back in 2004. I wonder how that is working out over three years later...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Madagui Tropy Video

Here is the video from the local TV. I'm in it with my partner Laurent at about 8 minutes in. We're crossing the bridge wearing our life jackets!

Thanks to the folks at for putting it up!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Vietnam Idol Montage

Just ran across this funny clip while searching around on Truveo.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Pocket Tweets: Twitter for the iPhone

Just bookmarked this baby on my iPhone. The interface looks sweet in my iPhone. Not sure what the star icon is for, but it looks nice.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

SMS Breaking Down

I've been having some trouble sending text messages lately here in Vietnam. At first I assumed my unlocked iPhone was just on the fritz. I spoke with several other people and they've also been having problems sending text messages.

Texting is very popular here in Vietnam. My guess is that the mobile phone infrastructure, like so many other infrastructures in Vietnam, is having trouble keeping up.

This country is very successful in many ways. Dealing with the growth that comes with success, brings its own challenges. Perhaps it's time to take the infrastructure spending up another notch.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Counterfeit Saigon Beer

When in Mui Ne I often head to Lam Tong for dinner after a long day of kite surfing. They have the big bottles of Saigon Beer for only 8,000 VND or about $0.50 US. I recently learned that these beers are often counterfeit.

The advice I got was to check the bottom rim of the bottle. If the rim is missing the raised lettering, then it's a counterfeit. I'm not sure if the opposite also holds. If the bottle does have raised lettering, does that mean it's legit?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Seuss Bash

During the winter my mother lives in Texas in a retirement community. This week they put together a Seuss Bash to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss. They had a party, fanciful games, and an amazing parade. It was covered in this local news article, complete with a video.

Last month I blogged about the joy of not working. I mentioned the Zelenski's Easy Rule of Life, this is a great example. Rather than sitting around doing nothing in retirement, these folks get busy doing some amazingly creative stuff! I'm new to retirement, not even old enough to live in their community, but I hope I'm this active when I'm 80!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Pig Brain Soup

I did a few days of mountain biking in Dalat recently. Mr. Long was my guide. After our first day we had lunch at one of his favorite restaurants. Here's a picture of him enjoying pig brain soup. I wasn't brave enough to give it a try.

Frog to Crab: "Let's be friends"

Recently we've discovered the Saigon night market. When Cho Bến Thành closes around 6pm they bring out the food stalls. They have a lot of interesting and really good food. Coconut snails is a favorite of ours.

In the photo below you can see that they keep the frogs and the crabs in the same tank. It's kind of cute how they wrap up the crab claws with cloth so they don't fight. Can't we all just get along?

We also tried the grilled shrimp, which was delicious. This guy was in charge of the shrimp. They rolled out the tanks before the electricity was hooked up so he was swishing the water around trying to keep it aerated. At one point he pulled off the hose from the air pump and was trying to blow through it. Luckily the electricity came on before too long.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's Billboard

I walked past this sign on Hai Ba Trung this week and had to snap a picture. I remember this sign from my first trip to Saigon in 1995. I seriously doubt the sign is going to last much longer, not because Arnold would disapprove, but because it seems so dated and the city is rapidly modernizing.

Huckabee for President

I'm not really following the primaries very closely, but I do hope that we don't end up with another crazy president. This cartoonist, Don Asmussen, cracks me up.