Archive | May, 2008

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“It’s The Thought That Counts” – Duty Free gifts

I’m on a packed 6 o’clock day-trip commuter flights back to London from one of the chemical hotspots of mainland Europe. Every seat is taken. Next to me, two men in suits are buying trinkets from the “Shop in Flight” magazine. STOP! What are you thinking of? Do not ever buy your sweetheart gifts from the on-board Duty Free. Don’t you know it’s the equivalent of buying plastic-wrapped flowers from the petrol station forecourt? Do you imagine that your partner never opens the in-flight magazine? If you can’t pick up something in the city you’ve visited or in the airport shops (and I know some of them are pretty barren, eg Frankfurt), it’s best to forget it altogether.

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Last year’s buzz words are banished

hope that by now all Blog readers have managed to slip the word “redakted” into a normal conversation, as recommended here during NPRA. It’s now time to banish some of the obsolete chemical buzz words of 2007. Top words which are now heading for their sell-by date must be: work/life balance, forward curve, learning curve, value chain, robustness, thought leadership. Use them at your peril. My colleague Linda is still aghast at “blue sky thinking”, but I think that harks back to circa 2006.

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Pizza and lubes in New York City

The Blog is very much looking forward to the next Pan-American Base Oils Conference in New York City. The US dollar may still be weak, and the euro ever stronger, but forget iPods, jeans, running shoes, Clinique and Victoria’s Secret. No, this is where I shall be spending my free afternoon. All aboard for the pizza express bus …

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Chemical Heritage Foundation exec in the news

An executive at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, US was in the news this week for re-enlisting in the US Army at the age of 55. Specialist Neil Gussman, now nicknamed “Hollywood” by his pals, was spotted in an article in LancasterOnline.com and sent in to the Blog by my colleagues Ivan and Joe in the New York office of ICIS Chemical Business.

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Julia scales the chemical heights

ICIS senior editor Julia Meehan has returned from a climbing trip around one of the great chemical plants of Europe with some spectacular photos. Modeling a fetching range of safety goggles, hard hat, earplugs and steel-toecapped safety shoes, Julia enjoyed a view of three different countries from the top of a cooling tower and then browsed around the storage facilities down below.

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Oil industry execs stick heads in sand – official

A report released by KPMG LLP’s Global Energy Institute on Friday said a majority of oil and gas executives interviewed did not believe global warming was caused by carbon dioxide emission. A huge 62% of these executives believe that it was just a natural phenomenon while 9% believe the world isn’t getting hotter.

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Shanghai’s royal flush

I am prepared to believe that Shanghai Pudong airport’s new Terminal 2 is the most beautiful and tranquil airport in the world. The soaring architecture, the serenity and the sparkling cleanliness of the place all play their part, but for the final astonishing touch, you have to see the washrooms in the Shanghai Airlines first class lounge. Here you have the last word in hi-tech toilets: heated seats, various angles and directions of water cleansing aimed at your lower torso, a choice of spurting or pulsing water jets, and such a variety of flush modes that I just didn’t have time to work my way through them all.

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Shanghai Skyline – two visions

It’s my last day in the Shanghai office, and I’m just taking a souvenir photo of the outside of the CBI building when I get an email from my colleague Nigel in London to say that he has been waiting all week for the Blog to have a picture of the Bund. And to balance this picture, here is one of the opposite bank of the mighty Huangpu River. I learn from Adam, the CIO of CBI, that the Chinese government wanted to construct on the Pudong a truly Chinese vision of the future, to face the colonial heritage of the Bund. They are both fabulous views.

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Surreal moments in Shanghai

Nothing can quite match the moment when a keen young reporter respectfully enters my office and hands me a printed copy of her report to critique, written throughout in Chinese characters but with a few numerals dotted throughout the three pages of text. We still manage a good session on the key points of good reporting practice, and I don’t think she finds it weird at all.

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I am a Shanghai commuter

Nothing beats the daily rush-hour commute on the Shanghai metro for getting the real flavour of working life in the metropolis. From the minute you step into the station – by-passing the teams of workers polishing the ground, the railings, the turnstiles – to when you drop your four yuan coins into the ticket machine, click through the ticket barriers and swarm onto the trains along with hundreds of other office workers, the whole experience is efficient, cool, air-conditioned and above all, to a seasoned London commuter, clean. It’s six stops to Songhong Road, at the western end of Line 2.

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