Tag Archives: China

How to Display Stones in Earthquake Country

Sea Lily crinoid fossils Scyphocrinites elegans from Morocco on wall plaque

Displaying stones can be a challenge, especially in California where we regularly have earthquakes. If you are lucky, a decorative stone will come with a suitable base. Or, if the stone is small, a store-bought plastic stand may work. However, for large, heavy stones custom design and fabrication are needed for the best presentation. If you are handy like my husband John, you can make stands and pedestals yourself.

Here is what we are avoiding. This is a large cloisonné metalwork vase John and I bought in China which was flattened in an earthquake when it fell to the floor:
Chinese cloisonné vase smashed in an earthquake

Example 1: Small Fool’s Gold Sphere

iron pyrite, fool's gold sphere 1 Aug 2016

Basic hoop: My son Paul gave me this pretty iron pyrite (fool’s gold) sphere along with a clear plastic hoop for a stand.  The hoop keeps the sphere from rolling but it is only held in place by gravity. In an earthquake, this heavy sphere will probably smash something.

Example 2: Ruby Crystals on Quartz

Ruby Crystals on Quartz on a stand, from China
Simple pedestal: John brought this rock to Paul as a present from China some years ago.  It is ruby crystals on quartz, on a custom pedestal. The quartz has been carved away from the crystals to show them off. You can see in the photo below that the pedestal it came with has a trough or fitted hole carved into it the exact size and shape of the stone.
pedestal or stand for a rock

Example 3: Zimbabwe Shona Sculpture

Large fitted pedestal: I carried home this Shona sculpture of carved serpentine for John when I was in Zimbabwe with the 2016 TechWomen Delegation. I asked the sculptor, Martin Chirenda, to sign it before before wrapping. The sculpture weighs over sixty pounds and is top-heavy. We were concerned that it would break or hurt someone falling over in an earthquake. John made a low oak pedestal by carving a trough and then filling it with epoxy to fit the stone exactly. The stone is fixed to the dried epoxy with a thin pour of Karo (corn sugar syrup). Using Karo is a museum display trick that does not damage the art but keeps it firmly attached to its base.

Martin Chirenda 2015 Shona Sculpture Zimbabwe Harare, 26 Feb 2016 . Martin Chirenda 2015 Shona Sculpture Zimbabwe Harare, 26 Feb 2016

Martin Chirenda 2015 Shona Sculpture Zimbabwe Harare

sculpture stand

Martin Chirenda 2015 Shona Sculpture Zimbabwe Harare on pedestal 10 July 2016

Example 4: Sea Lily Fossil from Morocco

Mounted on a Plaque: We bought this ancient double Sea Lily or Crinoid fossil at Consolidated Rock & Mineral in Vacaville for our anniversary. It was found in Morocco originally. The stone is heavy but the fossil itself is fragile. We wanted to display it so that it could be admired but not broken. John just finished making this wood plaque with hooks. The plaque is mounted to the wall with a French cleat.  These are the best flowers John has ever bought me!
Sea Lily crinoid fossil from Morocco

Sea Lily crinoid fossil from Morocco on wall plaque

Sea Lily crinoid fossil from Morocco on wall plaque

Sea Lily crinoid fossil from Morocco on wall plaque

Sea Lily crinoid fossil from Morocco on wall plaque

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right).

Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

Leave a comment

Filed under Home & Family, News & Reviews

Watching New Cities Grow


I grew up in San Francisco and live in San Jose, California, two relatively-old cities – for the American west. SF was founded in 1776; SJ was founded in 1777. Both were incorporated in 1850. I have recently returned from an Everwise business trip to run a Mentoring Design Workshop in Brasilia (Brazil).  Brasilia was founded in 1960 and had a population of 2.8 million in 2013. A few years ago, I worked for Huawei in Shenzhen (China).  Shenzhen was founded in 1979 and had a population of 10.4 million in 2010.

Besides being new cities, Brasilia and Shenzhen have in common that their quick creation is associated with a great leader. I was last in Shenzhen in 2010, the 30th anniversary of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. During that time, there was much honoring of Deng Xiaoping. Deng lead China 1978-1992. In Brasilia, we stayed at the Kubitschek Plaza hotel – whose name honors Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira, Brazil’s President 1956-1961.

Both Brasilia and Shenzhen are still in a skeletal stage of civic development. That is, I saw big buildings and well-developed districts like good bones providing form and identity but also large areas of open land that were marked with actual or virtual/mental “Under Development” signs.

My son and son-in-law like to play the virtual land development game Minecraft together. Minecraft in multi-player survival mode has the concept of identification/ownership “waypoints” to mark areas someone plans to build on – even if nothing is there now. I think Brasilia and Shenzhen are full of waypoints where development is under long-term consideration. It will be fascinating to watch the flesh of mature cities grow up over the coming decades around their lovely young bones.



Images Copyright Katy Dickinson 2010-2014

Leave a comment

Filed under Home & Family, Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews

Leaving Huawei


Almost my whole Futurewei “Enterprise Global Competency Center” Operations group was laid off yesterday, effective next week. I am leaving Huawei Technologies after 2-1/2 years. It has been interesting working in the Silicon Valley for a company based in China. The first time I was called a “foreign expert” it was a shock – since I was within 50 miles of my birthplace and the person speaking was about 10,000 miles from his hometown. I have learned a great deal about China and Chinese culture – both good and bad – and I will miss many of my soon-to-be-former co-workers.

I look forward to my next professional adventure. Please keep track of me on LinkedIn and on this blog.



Images Copyright 2012 by Katy Dickinson


Filed under News & Reviews

Most Valuable Innovation Project Award – Cloud Storage


I am very proud today! My husband John Plocher and his development team won Futurewei Technologies’ 2012 Most Valuable Innovation Project Award for their Cloud Storage project. John’s boss, Jim Hughes, is traveling in China so John (the Software Architect) made the acceptance speech at today’s big event.  The team will split the award bonus.


Image Copyright 2012 by Katy Dickinson


Filed under Home & Family, News & Reviews

Last TechWomen Day at Huawei


Today was the last day at Huawei in Santa Clara for the three TechWomen mentees during their visit to the Silicon Valley.  There are still some San Francisco Bay Area events before they travel to the the Grace Hopper Celebration and then the US State Department in Washington DC next week.  The Huawei team held a lunch and gave each of our emerging leaders a certificate signed by Futurewei President, Guolin Wang, and by the TechWoman’s mentor or mentors.  I was also treated to a surprise birthday party this morning and Huawei held its annual Moon Cake and Chinese harvest festival party this afternoon.  A busy day!


Images Copyright 2012 by Katy Dickinson


Filed under Hopper - Anita Borg Institute, Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews

TechWomen Dinner at Home


The Huawei TechWomen mentors and mentees gathered in my home for a potluck dinner tonight. My husband made a halal chicken curry with rice as the entree.  There were women from at least seven countries around our table: China, Egypt, India, Iran, Lebanon, Morocco, and the USA. The guests had fun visiting my office in WP668, our backyard caboose. The food was interesting, plentiful, and delicious. My mother and husband joined the party.  What a delightful group of new friends!


Images Copyright 2012 by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher


Filed under Caboose Project and Other Trains, Home & Family, Mentoring & Other Business

John’s Trip Home


My husband John Plocher is flying home from his most recent two week trip to China, on business for Huawei. I have received an interesting series of text message emails as he worked his way through the weather and mess of a typhoon from ShenZhen to the Hong Kong airport. So far, his flight is about two hours late.

  • On way to airport – roads flooded, slow traffic, not worried – looking forward to seeing you SOON!!
  • Typhoon coming in to south of us in morning… More info as I find out,,,
  • Coming->came…
  • Only 1 route to hk open, ferry closed, shekou bridge closed, luohu closed, trees down across only road open.. Glad we have several hours b4 plane leaves
  • At hk airport
  • Flight delayed (no surprise).checked in ok
  • On board! Good seat

Later… John arrived home safely despite Typhoon Vicente, only two hours late.

Photo Copyright 2012 by John Plocher

Leave a comment

Filed under Home & Family, News & Reviews