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A day in the life...

My days are usually full of emails and trying to respond to the threads of interest here on the forum, trying to keep my databases current with the latest costs for the many SD items, worrying over the inventory levels of the distributors and what we will eat for lunch and why fish is so expensive...
But sometimes life throws a twist and Mother Nature has her own ideas how to best screw with me.

We have had very heavy fog for the last 3 days and most airplane flights have been cancelled; just at the time when I need to go to Hong Kong to refresh my Chinese visa. From my city, Yangzhou, I usually take a bus to the provincial capitol of Nanjing (westerners may know it as NanKing) to get a plane to Shenzhen to exit into Hong Kong. I pass through, get the entry and exit stamps in the passport and its done. Sounds simple, right? It is and its not because it involves queueing in 4 separate long lines after getting a taxi (a separate long queue) to take you long-haul from either the train station or airport terminal to the border. Each queue can be 10 minutes (if lucky) or more than an hour (if unlucky) depending on the hour and the day you arrive and that is dictated by your plane or train arrangements. Earlier is better if it can be arranged but early train arrival is not possible and early flight arrival is always delayed until the afternoon so welcome to my world of nothing-goes-according-to-plan-ever. (Then Harley gets pissed at me right in the big middle of all the chaos and some guy in Batswannaland suddenly needs a single alcoholmeter to stay alive while the kitchen light goes out and that particular florescent bulb is very difficult to find).
While wanting to upload the latest videos to the forum but I feel self-conscience about because I'm not so good at public speaking and the videos do suck. And my pet bird, a talking Myna and a very real pet in all regards, has some rare form of epilepsy that causes him to lose consciousness and trash about uncontrollably causing us great concern and sorrow.

And all flights from Nanjing airport were cancelled yesterday and of the hundred or so scheduled today only one made it out. Many, many thousands of souls have been left stranded in the airports across China in the last few days. The bus from Yangzhou to Nanjing could not safely travel the highways and even that was cancelled.
So now I'm forced to take a train to insure that I get my visa stamps in time so no violation is incurred. Overstaying the visa is serious and I've already done it once and if its done again there is risk that my China visa could be revoked. That would be seriously bad for me and for SD.

Curses be upon us, 24 hours and 17 minutes by train each way! and I cannot get back to the train station in time to catch the train returning to Yangzhou the same day so I'll need to stay a night in Shenzhen. Instead of one day to get this done by air travel it is now going to be three days to do it by train.

If you don't get a reply from me for 3 or 4 days starting Wednesday it doesn't mean I don't love you, it means mother nature is pulling the strings and when I return there will be a pile of emails to wade through.

It has been a long time since I made the journey by train but a couple of years ago, and on the very same train where the slow rhythmic monotony soothes the brain, the fully modular concept was born. Not saying lightening will strike twice but it won't hurt to take along a notebook.

Thinking I'm talking myself into believing that slo-mo train travel could be a good thing.


  • What? No wi-fi on the train? :-O

    Then indeed some time to relax, read a book, think of new ideas. Good luck and a safe trip.

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  • Yes but you have street food. All we have is a kebab at 3 in the morning.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • Wow a talking myna! thats awesome. Sorry to hear he is sick. Pets are kids too. His cage is not to close too the parrot? :P

    Its great to read a day in the life of. I provide a service, and I can honestly say that these days, more customers than not are generally obnoxious and over demanding.. I think they forget that others have a life beyond their own little world.

    I need to take a leaf out of punkins book. I dont know where he finds the energy. You can ask this bloke the dumbest questions and he will respond with an essay of an email. The email probably took 15+min out of his life to write. I personally would have just deleted the email:)

    Sorry Lloyd but punkin needs to sell real estate. He would make a million bucks in commission within 12 months.

    but yeah...everyone has a life. The more we acknowledge this, the happier the planet will be:)

    Safe travels mate.

  • Thanks for the kind words CF. I find that 99% of my customers are top people who treat me with great respect. I do deal with a lot of tyre kickers but they get the same attention that the guy who says he is ready to buy gets, even though it may be 12 months of emails and phone calls before they purchase if ever.

    I believe i am in a service business, not a retail business and i think the difference shows. I have to thank Lloyd for a lot of my business model and his continual boot up my arse to put it all together and take risks b-(

    I have gone from a business where i sold a couple of VM's a year to holding over $70k worth of stock thanks to his drive, not mine.

    Enjoy your train ride Uncle, do the two of you good to get away for a few days. Take her shopping in Honkers.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • Dont argue punkin! Your service is extraordinary for anyone living outside of Tasmania. :)

  • @Moonshine no wi-fi on the train but sometimes there is power available to plug in to recharge a phone or laptop.
    Because of the slow rhythm of the train I can usually read about 3 pages of a book before falling asleep.

    @punkin train food is worse than hospital food if you can imagine that.

  • Yes, i always used to live on beer on train journeys.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • @Lloyd - they (trains) gotta be better than the trains in southern India ?!?

    Hopefully, they are less "populated" than those I rode outa Chennai...

    Safe travels.

    Hobby Distillers Association Member - Join us today!

    The only sillae question is the one you don't ask folks...

  • @DistilliTraK said: Lloyd - they (trains) gotta be better than the trains in southern India ?!?

    Hopefully, they are less "populated" than those I rode outa Chennai...

    Safe travels.

    I've never been to India and have only seen the movies and pictures but the trains here are not usually crowded. I say usually because during major holidays they do get over-crowded as the entire nation suddenly decides to go from one place to another.
    They actually sell 'standing room only' tickets for a 36 plus hour train ride! The aisles are packed with people and luggage and its almost impossible to get to the toilet.
    This is usually only done on the old, slow K trains but I haven't seen that done on the modern high speed bullet trains. My little city is slated to get high speed train service perhaps as early as next year and if so that will be wonderful.
    Slow train to Shanghai is about 6 hours for me but high speed train would cut the time down to about 2 hours or so. And the high speed train is more like an airplane on the inside and everything feels fresh and new. The K trains, all old and tired, will disappear someday but they have something the high speed trains will never have - a bed.
    One of our favorite trains is a G train, also old and tired, (I think the G means direct or non-stop). We can board it about 6 PM and have a restful sleep and wake up in Beijing the next morning.

    The weather forecast predicts a favorable day for air travel this Thursday so I'm going to risk it and try to take the airplane. Fingers are crossed because if my flight is cancelled I may very well be one of those 'standing room only' people on the slo-mo train from Nanjing to Shenzhen because I'd need to get the train ticket at the last minute.

    @cunnyfunt, lol, Bird loves to help me distill. Its hard to make a distilling video without his constant "feedback". Deep down I know I am smarter than he is even if he speaks better Chinese than I do. And yes his name is Bird but when he says mayo shuai la (more exactly mei you shui le) he is lying because he is not out of water.

    @punkin, I could not have done any of this, and would not have wanted to, without you, @Smaug, @Law_Of_Ohms and Tan. There are no small voices in this choir and when we all threw in together I'd only sold a few EZ flanges. We have been blessed with customer's insights that have guided product development and improvement. ReddoorDistillery comes to mind for prodding the 8" Crystal Dragon development and his ongoing improvements to it. Myles and Olddog for insights and out-of-the-box thinking. The list of Thank Yous is endless but the journey has just begun; we have no finish line to cross and no place to stop and say, "This is it, its perfect, we stop here". We explore, try, fail, try again, improve and innovate.

    Without StillDragon there would have been no Sight Glass Kits, element guards, bubble caps and plates, downcomers, gin basket kits, brass and copper ferrules, modular stills like the Dash, Crystal Dragon, DragonFire alcoholmeters, ported bends, thermowell reducers, torpedo reducers, SS parrots, filter disks, and the hundreds of bends, pipes, reducers and adapters. There would have been no-one for the copycats to steal from.

    None of this was created by me alone. It was - and always will be - a group effort. And that includes YOU the reader of what I'm writing - your ideas are sometimes developed into very real distilling products so always feel free to chime in.

    Are we perfect everytime? No. We make mistakes because we are on the edge where others fear to follow until we show them that it is safe and proven. About then the copycats start to take notice because we've blazed the easy path for them.

    I'm particularly thankful for my brief association with VB of ArtisanDistiller for his incredible ability to see the big picture.
    But no one has kept me grounded and productive as Punkin so its difficult to give him the proper thanks that he deserves.

  • Tan and I will be away for the next 3 days to travel and inspect the next round of 26 big boilers going out and to visit a distillery in Changzhou.

    I'll try to check in here but internet and travel is not always very easy to do.

    With so many sea freight shipments going on we can't stay away any longer than that but our spirits want to escape and play. Thinking in a month or two we might disappear for a couple of weeks.

  • Mmmm..... Big boilers..... Have fun and enjoy! Say hello to mine while your there I'm getting anxious!

  • Well that was interesting.
    The distillery was actually a distributor and he let us in on how it's really done here.
    There are a few, very few, giant distilleries in China and they do not sell finished spirits; they sell 65% ABV low wines to their major distributors who then re-distill to knock out most of the heads and tails. They then sell 55 to 65% ABV -now known as G grade- to their sub-distributors by the 10,000L tanker load. The sub-distributors re-distill, repackage, blend, water down however the local markets have a call for and this booze is call GA grade.
    So we didn't get to see any distilling as that was many miles away and the giant distillery was 3 provinces away. All we saw was hundreds of large containers full of different kinds of booze.
    The sub-distributor has a region that he vends to that would be like 4 to 6 US counties and he supplies many, if not most, of the Mom and Pop booze shops in that region. Really big bucks are involved.

    The boilers look good but one of the insulated 380L boilers has a pucker in the outer skin where the sight glass was welded. They explained this was common when dealing with an insulated boiler but I didn't like it. I let it ship out - it was a snap judgement call that had to be made - I wasn't sure if it was spoken for or not but if it was that customer would need to wait at least 6 months to get another.

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