It's Friday morning here in San Francisco and I'm back from a 2-week journey to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. I'm glad to be back, for many reasons, but don't have a lot to report disease-wise. But, if you're interested in a short travel report and impressions of China, read on after the short California disease update.
On the Great Wall sporting a goofy tourist pose and my Northern California Golf Course Association Bootcamp Pullover
What's Shaking in California
As I posted 2 weeks ago, rapid blight started to pop up in California, and it's still been the biggest problem we've seen throughout the state for the last 2 weeks on annual bluegrass greens. Although we've been having some fall showers, the rainfall in most parts of the state hasn't been high enough to drop sodium levels in greens, and the mild weather is perfect for this disease to develop if you've got salt issues.
Although John reported some brown ring patch activity in the east; we haven't seen anything pop up yet here in the lab at UCR.
Travel Report from China
In all honesty, it was 100% a family vacation and I spent little time looking at turfgrass and most of my time visiting family and trying to avoid getting run over by a moped or bicycle in Shanghai or Beijing! Being my first time there, it was hard to know what to expect.
Hong Kong was a very easy city to get along in, and a soft landing for adventures to come on the mainland. I kept on thinking that it was a lot like San Francisco but with a lot less Mexican people (e.g. San Francisco's significant Chinese population is mostly from southern China and cities like Hong Kong and Canton, and there were definitely no Mission District style taquerias to be found ). Being a former British colony, English is pretty common there and being in southern China, the local language is Cantonese (which was what my grandparents and mom & pop speak). Although Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, it's considered a "Special Administrative Region" (the other being Macau, the nearby ex-Portuguese colony) and has been allowed to retain a high level of it's autonomy and not subject to all of the rules of the People's Republic of China.
On the other hand, Shanghai and Beijing were completely new experiences. It was pretty impressive to see how mainland China is developing. The activity in these cities was amazing, and the rapidly changing economic and social landscape was reflected by modern shopping centers next to centuries old buildings and brand-new BMWs and Mercedes Benzes pushing their way through bicycles on the crowded local streets.
Mandarin is the primary language spoken outside of the Cantonese-dominated southeastern corner of the country, and since I failed to get past lesson 1 of Rosetta Stone, I was completely at a loss for understanding anything spoken in Shanghai and Beijing. On more than a dozen occasions, the locals pointed me out as if to say "that guy looks Chinese, but can't speak any Mandarin, what is he retarded or something?"
Although you can see free-market-wheel-and-deal Capitalism everywhere in the mainland, I was reminded that it's still a Communist country when I tried to "google" things on the internet and access sites like Facebook. No dice. No Turf Disease Blog update either! China's got a ways to go regarding free speech, but this trip overseas was a reminder that we have something pretty special here when it comes to our freedom of speech and information.
All in all, I'd really encourage folks to visit - it's eye-opening to see what's going on over there. China's in an exponential growth phase both economically and socially, and getting a better understanding of our biggest trading partner is a good thing.
Ok that's it for this week. Signing off from the left coast.....