Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Journal #2

So, it's Day 2 of not going to work (weekend not included). Grandma and Grandpa got into the holiday spirit yesterday at the Pearl market, driving hard bargains and mastering the art of the walk-away. Many gifts were purchased, as were some "me" items. Sunglasses, a couple DVDs (who knew "Howard the Duck" would be available?!), some personalized mahogany name stampers for the boys, and a lot of etc. Cold weather couldn't stop us--it was like 35 degrees and windy. Sarah and the grand's branched off to buy antiques whilst I stalked the aisles of Movie Shop (where I am now a VIP member), then separate cabs home for a great dinner by Lyn (glass noodles with cabbage, peppers and chicken) and a screening of Toy Story. The 10th Anniversary remastering looks superb, BTW.

Today we're hanging out, playing with Star Wars figures, maybe go run around the school gym. Dinner downtown tonight and then sneak some more presents under the tree after the boys conk out.

Fun times!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Nobody Else Here Looks Like Us

Last weekend we went to Yu Yuan Gardens, which is not very garden-y, but still fun.

gotta go. more later

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Erica

There once was a woman named E----
'Twas no wackier funster than she
If you heard her laugh,
You would swear she was daft
Then you'd start to laugh til you pee

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Brad Brown

I used to joke that December 7 really was a date which will live in infamy. But now I see that the world is better for having Brad in it. Especially since he's now a dad, and not just a rock and roller and a loyal friend.

For those of you who don't know Brad, sorry.

More updates soon, including one on last night's Annual Winter Ball downtown.

Friday, December 5, 2008

because i'm online, here's a photo to enjoy

Big man needs a haircut, sutre, but it's fun while it lasts. I think the symmetry between tree and hair is prize-worthy. Feel free to send a prize of your choosing. (hint: Belgian dark chocolate!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Holiday Journal #1

Before I start the Holiday Journal, here are some long overdue zoo-day photos. As you can see, by the end of the day, the boys needed some coaxing to pose together.

To help with keeping spirits bright during this dark season, we are in full Christmas mode. Fake tree (look for it during the upcoming sequel to the apt. tour video), real wreaths, carols on the iPod radio (BTW, The Temptations do a great Rudolph), and of course, timely parental references to “you better not pout, cry, shout, etc.” Which segues nicely into story time...

On Thanksgiving night, Desi was not cooperating with Mom. Dad was off playing basketball at school, and when he came home, Mom looked unhappy. A bit later, as I spoke with Desi at the dinner table about what had happened that night, he asked, “Are you guys still gonna give me presents?” I replied that sure, we would, because we still want to make you happy even though sometimes you do bad behavior. (SUCH a great dad!) Playing a hunch, I asked if Mom had said otherwise. Desi said no, Mom had not said that, but “I just feel it.”

If I’m not mistaken, this is what psychologists call a “conscience.” Woo hoo! My boy has a working conscience. This is going to be way easier than we thought.

Sorry for the paltry output of posts lately. YFB (Your Favorite Blogger) has been sick since Sunday. Lung junk, sore lower back, lethargy are the only symptoms, so I have not missed work. Nor have I infected others, as I am washing my hands dutifully and I have no cough. Entering Day Three, I think it’s time to consider going to the doctor. I hope that trip is uneventful enough to miss the cut for the blog.

Possible causes: Playing basketball on Thursday night, then biking home in the BITTER cold. Then SAS Turkey Bowl on Friday, again in the cold. Teachers won (undefeated several years running) but I failed to dress/ warm up properly. Then Saturday and Sunday running around with the kids at the school field/playground. By Sunday night, not feeling so great. Maybe this is a sign I’m getting old. I should be able to run around a bit without knocking myself out of commission, right? Of course, germs could be involved too. I hear they make people sick.

Time for me to go make French toast. Sarah has gotten up early all 4 days this week to go running, so I will make her a special treat. 

Bye for now. Take care, and remember, if you’re in Shanghai on Inauguration Day, you’re welcome at our party.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Rock 101

Every kid's musical education should start with this song.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

quote of the day (Election 2008 edition)

For fans of the Desi singing video from a few weeks ago, here's a pic his teacher sent. He looks how we felt on Election Night. Even weeks later, I'm so proud that 63 million voters made the smart choice. Ya gotta love America. And if you don't, we'll invade your country (or one in the vicinity) and hide you in Cuba so we can torture you!

As Emmett and I sat together reading online news on Thursday, he spied a photo of Obama and asked "Can we Skype Obama?" side note: This hat was actually made by Desi, but I rather think Emmy pulls off the look smashingly.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

zoo part 2

PANDAS! We saw 3, and if you understand Chinese, you'll learn a lot from the panda-ologist auidble in the video. My favorite part is when he/she scratches the butt on the ladder.

Warning: if watching with children, turn volume down for the end of the lion part. Some foul language by the narrator as he serenades the lion with gangsta rap. 

zoo video, part one

as promised, here's part one of zoo trip video. youtube is being funny right now, so if the video won't play here, go straight here and try it.

pandas are in part 2, so check back soon!

It just got cold here, also, which is fun because it's also dry, so I can wear my puffy jacket. fun.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

check me out on NYTimes

So our shipment came today. woo hoo. so i'm blogging on our nice 20" desktop iMac. feels like home...

on an unrelated note: being in china means i'm on lunch break when posts the next morning's editorials. so in my quest to get the first post, i've become a frequent commenter. i'm proud to say my comment (#15 in the list) on my fellow Oregonian Nicholas Kristof's education column was chosen as an editor's selection. check it out and feel free to click "Recommend" after reading it.

beautiful day here today. probably 78 degrees for the high. no joke. clear as skies get here, which means some blue, some grayish brown soupy parts. 

boys are both sick w/some virus. i have not yet succumbed, but sarah is worried she's next. send anti-viral thoughts.

and if any of you will be in our neck of the woods on Jan. 20, we're having a big "End of an Error" party at our place. come one, come all.

oh, and the zoo video will be up soon, i promise. 

Sunday, November 9, 2008

2 new posts in one day=Blogger of the Year

Two more Halloween shots. Photo credits to Jeff Dungan, father of the lion and the spread-legged bad guy from BenTen. Props also to all the teachers at SRC who stayed home to hand out treats.

Below is the crew at the post-Trick or Treat party. Bars allow children here. Not that we make it a habit, but that was a fun night. Taxis also allow open containers, so I had a Corona (and an Oregon beer!!) on the way downtown last night. Mexican food and massages. Living right, I tell ya. 

(King) Emmett dressed up, too

Here's Emmett doing a guest spot at his big brother's Elementary School parade on Halloween. I got the costume in Inner Mongolia, so he's actually Khan for a day. But he preferred to say "King." Whatever--he's the khan.

In other news, of course we're psyched Obama won. Not that we get tons of crap for being Americans, but it will be nice not to have to wonder if people who first see us (in all our obvious Americanness) are thinking "Did THOSE people vote for Bush?"

And we hit the zoo today. Much video to edit, so expect that (not) soon. 3 giant pandas, tons of big cats, giraffes. And open, green space. Bright, if chilly day. Fun times. Peace out.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Here's hoping Election Day is less scary than Halloween

Don't call the Pulitzer people. These photos will win no awards. And the best one of them was taken by Cliff, father of Desi's classmate. Please enjoy the fun anyway. The boys paraded through the elementary school, instead of all over campus, because it was raining. We trick or treated after school over at the Racquet Club. Then it was off to the pre-Grand Opening of The Thirsty Monk, where we ate chicken nuggets and pizza and fries and carrot sticks and drank 2-for-1 bevs. Then we walked home, crashed in bed, and slept late. Fun all around.

Here's Desi, He borrowed his ninja suit from the Leipold family (thank yous!).

I got Emmett's khan outfit in Inner Mongolia back in September. (Our Halloween stuff is sitting in our shipment, awaiting customs clearance at the Shanghai airport. We're going on 17 days now at 35 bucks a day for storage fees. ugh...) I couldn't get him to wear the hat for the photo, but I did get the full costume on film. I'll post that soon. Here he is with our neighbor Mia the Lion. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

it's all over b/w Desi's singing video

What a bummer that baseball season had to end this way. Two one-run losses knocked the Eagles down to 4th place of 6 teams. We had early leads in both games, then errors and a lack of "big" hits doomed us. The boys were in good spirits, considering 2 hard losses. I'm proud to call myself their coach. They are a great bunch of guys. I appreciate that they accepted me as a rookie coach, even though most of them had played together for years under the previous coaching staff. I'll hang onto nothing but good memories from this season.

To celebrate the sudden increase in free time, I began reading Caleb Carr's The Italian Secretary this morning. So far so good.

As promised, here is the video of Desi's performance.

Friday, October 24, 2008

the golden helmet stays here, part 2

Whole lotta baseball this weekend. The Eagles are in a good position at the APAC tournament. 3-1 after 2 days. Beat Beijing today to retain the sacred (not really) Golden Helmet.  Big day tomorrow, need to win one to get in the championship, then take care of business on the home field. Our games are live blogged here. (We are abbreviated SAS PX.)

In non-baseball news, Desi's class wowed the crowd this morning at the elementary school assembly with a song about the continents (all 7!) and then a modified version of "I've Got the Whole World in my Hands." Desi wore a hat featuring an amply sized American flag. Suffice it to say there's some glitter that wound up on our floor after hat came home. Video to follow soon.

also, a random quote that got left off the last funny quote list:

At dinner, Mom pointed out to Desi that his brother Emmett has a cute face. Desi scoffed at the notion. To which Emmy said: "My face is great."


Monday, October 20, 2008

niiiiice goat . . .

Field trip! Emmett's daycare went to Shanghai Organic farm on Friday.

I tagged along.

Good fun pulling leeks, feeding goats, and generally just walking around seeing a whole lot of greenhouses.

Loaded up on veggies at the farm store, then napped all the way back to town.

In an unrelated incident, Desi pointed to my book about Genghis Khan and said "You know what? He was the government of the whole world." After I replied Wow, Desi, you're right, he kind of was there for a while, Desi added that Genghis Khan...
1) was God's brother and
2) ruled outer space.

Hold off on spreading that news. I have searched the index but was unable to verify either claim.

In other news, custom-made bunk bed and parental bed arrived yesterday. Both very nice. And there was much rejoicing. Pics to follow in next couple days.

Our shipment lands at the airport today. Customs should take 2-3 weeks, then we get to play with Star Wars figures again. It's been hard, these 3+ months without them.

Weather is ideal, but pollution getting worse this time of year. No rain means nothing to clean the air. Will be buying a fancy air filter after we pay off the shipment. No pictures to follow.

Bed now. And oh, muchas gracias to the Tampa Bay Rays, a team I otherwise care not a whit about, except for the fact they toppled the Evil Empire II today. Red Sox BLOW--always have, always will, even if they try to buy championships Yankee-style.

And please send thoughts and prayers to Albert Pujols' elbow, as it recovers from surgery

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

the Golden Helmet stays here

Back from baseball in Beijing. The Eagles ended on a high note, demolishing ISB 16-2 on Sunday. Saturday had started poorly, with a sloppy loss to Hong Kong, but improved a bit. The early loss was followed by 2 games in which we led but gave up big hits at bad times. So third place in the tournament, and we brought home the Golden Helmet, which goes to the winner of the SAS-ISB game. We'll have our shot at revenge next week when HK visits for the BIG tourney at our field.

In other news, weather here is amazing. Cool, sunny, blue skies, red sunsets. 

Also got our residence permits and work visas, which are HUGE because now we can receive our shipment. 

We voted yesterday and FedEx will overnight them for FREE. Thank FedEx. Oregon has some real stinkers for ballot measures this election, so all you loyal readers there, please take the time to wade through all of them. My personal least favorite is the one that would base teacher pay and retention on "classroom performance," and then fails to define what that phrase means. hmmm....

To quote The Who, the kids are alright. Dad will be chaperoning E's field trip to the Shanghai Organics Farm on Friday. Weather should be perfect for planting/picking/romping. Dez is still kickin' it in soccer every Sunday and hittin' it in tennis on Wednesdays. Emmy runs around the edge of the court and plays his own little games with the ball, and with Mia, whose older brother is in Desi's lessons. Quite cute. I'll try to remember my camera for tomorrow.

Sarah is counting down the days until the beds arrive. We had some custom made, and we saw them 2 weeks ago at the factory. Looked great. Only 2 minor changes needed, but still no sign of them. As they say in Liberia, "Slowly, slowly, catch the monkey." Once the bunk beds are here, we're hoping that Desi sleeps in HIS bed all night. Not ours. Oh, that will be so nice.

Looking forward to Halloween. Usually a big party here at SAS. If our shipment gets here on time, we'll have all our stuff--pumpkin lights, carving knives, costumes. If not, we can be nudists or something.

I'll leave y'all with that image. Toodles!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

more funny things boys said, plus haircut photos

dinner seems to produce the most funny quotes. which should be no surprise, seeing how both of us parents have fond memories of uproarious laughter at our childhood dinner tables.

anyhoot, last night we had tilapia, Filipina style. lil' ginger, a slightly sweet was good. it was served with the head on and all, and it had some cool spikes along its dorsal area. Sarah asked Lyn if most Filipinos eat the head. She said some do, but Emmy said "I'm not eating fish hair!"

At another meal, when we were having pasta and veggies, Sarah noticed Desi eating with his hands. Lyn had told us that in the Philippines, that's how people usually eat. But, as Sarah pointed out to Desi, broccoli and bowtie pasta is NOT Filipino food. Never one to take it lying down, Desi says, "Lyn, do you eat broccoli in the Philippines?" No, it's too expensive, she replied. "Do you eat noodles in the Philippines?" Yes, of course. At which point, Desi picks up a noodle, looks at Sarah, says "Filipino style!" and pops it in his mouth. 

We're screwed.

Life's good here. Desi ran hard during tennis lesson today. Lyn took my recent cooking lesson to heart and made some good spaghetti sauce for dinner. Sarah is catching up on the Harry Potter movies. I did some paperwork related to receiving our shipment (I can't wait for all my Star Wars figures--I mean "Desi's toys"--to arrive). 

I'm off to Beijing for baseball this weekend. Won't have much time for tourista stuff, but maybe we'll sneak over to gawk at the Olympic venues or Tienanmen (sp?) Square (where no events of historical importance have taken place--I'd only go because I like looking at big squares).

Oh, and if you thought that photo above is cute, you're right. But here's Emmy pre-haircut. duuuuude....

sand sledding is fun, and a bit scary

i love my hat w/strap!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Just think how many chevying injuries we could avoid...

Rule #3 on our local playground:

this one is a store at the mall in trendy Xin Tian Di:

If you like these, you'll love It's kind of racist, but fun nonetheless.

funny things desi said

In response to my saying "Good Lord!" in exasperation, Desi told me it was rude to say Lord. When I asked why, he said "The Lord is God's brain."

This morning, while watching "Meet the Robinsons," I pointed out to Emmett that the characters had just traveled to the future (pointless, I know). Desi said "That's where God lives."

And just an hour ago, during dinner, Desi got a kick out of balsamic vinegar. Say it out loud, with strong emphasis on the "bals" part, and you'll see why.

Also, while laying on the floor, refusing to get up, Emmett said "I'm having a moment."

more to come in the days ahead, I am sure.

Friday, October 3, 2008

back from the edge...

...of northern China.

Gary here. I've been home from Inner Mongolia for a week, and have had the last 3 days off work. So why the lacuna (stick THAT in your Funk'n'Wagnall's) in blogging? Don't know, because Lyn has been here most days to help with the kids. No excuses--I've had time, but just haven't done it. Too busy listening to debates and reading baseball box scores. Sorry to be out of touch. (and "sorry" to any Cub fans reading this. boo hoo for another 102 years)

The trip was fun. I rode a horse and a camel, I saw lots of open country, grasslands, high desert, actual like Middle East-looking hard core sand dunes. Saw some expert horse riding, danced around (and almost fell into) a raging bonfire, ate *lots* of lamb, and other grilled meats, had some milk fresh out da cow. You're probably conjuring up mental images of all this, and that will have to suffice for now. You see, I LEFT MY CAMERA AT HOME. (I did remember to bring my iPod, you'll be happy to know, so I got to watch the free episode of The Office that I got from iTunes. quite hilarious, but i digress...) So I have to rely on mooching photos from the ones that other travelers will post to the school yearbook's server. I'll get some blogged here before I leave for Beijing (Friday?). I promise I'll bring my camera, but we'll be either playing baseball or sleeping the whole time, so I'll see very little of Beijing.

Back to my story--I was chaperoning (along with 7 other teachers) the 60 SAS sophomores on this trip, and one day we visited a local Chinese school near Bao Tou. That was a fun exchange. We played tug of war, and despite my urging our kids to let the hosts win, our kids gave it their all and took 2 out of 3. I even signed autographs for the kids. They'd walk up with their notebooks and ask in good English, and even though I'm not famous or even all that interesting, I have to say, there's something very flattering about being asked for your autograph. So I signed 10 or 12. Hang on to 'em, kids. When I get huge as the interpreter for the first mainland Chinese major league baseball star, put that notebook on ebay and count your mwuhnny.

Anyhoo, since getting home last week, it's been IKEA, tennis, swimming, a couple student-less work days, sofa-bed shopping, a fun night out on the town last night with Sarah (mmm....sweet and sour scallops), and hanging with neighbors. Which reminds me, time to wake the boyz from their Ridiculously late naps and head over to the Dungans' place. 

mmm...dinner I didn't have to cook

Go NU Wildcats!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

now this is more like it...

I don't have any pics to add, but you get the idea of what the boys look like, and really, Gary and I look the same as you remember~  I must tell about my day.  Now, after firing crazy nanny from hell, we have entered a new era...I will call it the time of SUPERAWESOMENANNY.  Gary and Des left for the sporting goods store, and I left Emm at home with Lyn, our new nanny (she's Filipina, speaks quite fluent English).  I went to Starbucks (only the 2nd time since I've been here) and got an ice coffee, and sat outside, reading my book.  Then I went to the fancy spa at the Shanghai Racquet Club, got a pedi and a leg wax.  Came home to a peaceful, clean house and a happy kid.  After naps and dinner, Gary called a massage service that comes to your home.  Shirley showed up at 7...I spent an hour on the bed, and Shirley kicked ass.  Run for your money, Chrissy, except I'm worried about this baby smells really weird.  Gar switched places at 8, and I took over reading to the kids. the way, the awesome hour-long massage delivered to our door?  90 RMB, around 13, 14 bucks.  Tip:  come visit us in China.  You'll be tired after the long flight, but you'll really like Shirley.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

call the Pulitzer people...more cute photos

more photos from life @ home.

tonight is kindergarten open house. our new nanny, Lyn (from Philippines...speaks English, ka-ching!) will be staying late to watch the boys while we meet Desi's teachers and wander the halls. 

on an unrelated note, let us pause to mourn the Cardinals' season. Best of luck to the ... (I struggle to actually type this) .. . . Cu...b...s. ugh 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

don't get fooled again

they look so cute, sweet and innocent. but put a guitar (OK, it's a tennis racket) in their hands, and look out, music fans...

here it is

Friday, September 12, 2008

you can't stop the cuteness. merely contain it.

this photo is a few days old, but it captures a lot. the sweat, the excitement, the brotherhood.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Getting in touch with my Inner....Mongoila

yes, the rumors on the internets is true...I am the father of Bristol Palin (sorry Sar!). To escape the ensuing media crush, I'm off to Inner Mongolia for 4 days (again, sorry Sar!)

In all seriousness, I'm actually chaperoning a trip that starts next Sunday. No school for 2 weeks, woo hoo! (After we get back, it's national holidays)

Itinerary is viewable as a MSWord file here.

Anyone been there? Feel free to post a comment w/some travel tips/souvenir requests. Remember--it's not regular Mongolia, it's the one inside China. (insert political commentary here, if you don't currently reside in China)

here we are

i need a haircut, i know. but the rest of us are cute.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Soccer Mom

Too bad I don't have a picture of me with a Starbucks in my hand...I've got the rest of it! Gated community in the burbs, private school, soccer kid...who would have guessed? And boy am I having problems with the hired help, don't get me started...had an impromptu ginandtonic happy hour in the community after work, you all know how it is, don't you?

Today was a good day, a fun day, when stuff got handled and living here wasn't too hard. Talk to me tomorrow, or some day next week. Got a 7:15 meeting in the morning, so I gots to go to bed. Luckily it takes me approximately 5 minutes to walk to work. Last year I had Des dropped off by 7!

Hi Peeps. We love and miss you. Happy mid-Autumn festival. Go have a mooncake and think of us. The ones with the egg yolk in the middle are gross, but the ones with the beans inside are growing on me.

I will now attempt to attach the long-awaited soccer video. Calm down. It really is not that interesting, but it is live video of Des and other assorted 4-6 year olds running around.

Love, Sarah

Sunday, September 7, 2008

here's what i was talking about the other day

check this out, then make sure you're registered to vote.

so much for the soccer video

I can't seem to get it to work. Uploading bringin' me DOWN.

So I recorded myself instead. Better than nothing, I hope, for the folks back home.
view it here


we're not in kansas anymore. soccer, anyone?

the big guy began soccer today. now that we live in a gated community, the only piece missing for Sarah to become a soccer mom was for one of her kids to play soccer.


let's hope this video works. for now, here's photos. they are mostly of the little guy and our neighbors/friends' kids.  (note the attitude evident in the bottom photo, with his Michael Johnson gold shoes on)

the big brother was just moving too quickly for this photog to keep up with. only video can do his speed justice.

PS--Eagles baseball won both games yesterday, 7-0 and 22-3. who needs suspense?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Let's Play Two!

Baseball season is upon us here in China. Big doubleheader today against the Shanghai Rangers. Buncha old guys. We'll see if they can hang with our youth, speed and guile. Recap to be posted later today.

Big kid starts kid soccer tomorrow. That means 2 things: shinguard shopping today, and watching a huge roving mob of kids surround the ball tomorrow. Fun!

Weather has definitely cooled off. Like we flipped a switch when August ended. It's been downright nice here. 3 thunderstorms (one huge) since we've been here are apparently a lot. Average is more like one a year. Let's hope it's not evidence of an angry God! 'Cause I'm doin' the best I can here.

Hope Labor Day weekend was fun for all our USA readers. You'd think China would get into a holiday like that, what with communism and all. But no. There is a moon festival on Monday the 15th, so no school then. The big one for us in October--National Day. The PRC turns 59! Almost old enough to collect Social Security. ha!

In other news, Gary and 6-7 other teachers will soon be accompanying about 40 students to Inner Mongolia for 4 days. China Alive! is the name, and it involves all 9th and 10th graders. Several different trips, mine will involve horses, sand surfing, sleeping in a yurt. Many details and photos to follow, no doubt.

Little is crying, better go fetch him out of bed. Take care and Go Eagles!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

the chicken (flesh) has landed

Diet update: Desi is no longer a vegetarian. The other day he reported eating chicken flesh at school. Liked it, even. Today he had fish. Mom asked if he meant "fish flesh," and he looked exasperated and said "No, fish BODY."

Beautiful weather here in the SHang. Eagles' first babseball game on Saturday. Go Eagles.

Going out both nights this weekend. Went out twice this week. We are social creatures!

hope all's well wherever on the planet you are...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

It's September. Can I talk about the election now?

So I've avoided politics on the blog up to this point. And I'm not a fan of APATT (all politics all the time) like your American capitalist running dog TV channels seem to be. But Labor Day has come and gone, and it's an even-numbered year (Olympic, not World Cup) and that can mean only one thing:
It's time again for Gary to make wildly inaccurate prognostications. Look it up, folks, it means future telling. 

To wit: Yesterday, in a fit of wild glee, I told one of the other baseball coaches that I'd buy him a pizza if McCain wins ten states. I've since looked at a map, and there are way more than 10 fairly backward states. So, OK, I got a bit excited. (Part of me was hoping Sam would say he doesn't like the pizza at our Papa John's here. But no) 

In my defense, though...pregnant veep daughters and the beauty queen mayor's lobbying for earmarks that brought in $1000 for every man, woman, and (non-unborn) child in lil' Wasilla, AK? That's manna from heaven for salivating Obama-ites like me. We can't trust McCain to vet his VP choice, after having 6 months to do little else besides work on it, but we should put his brittle, trembling, possibly cancerous finger on The Button? 

Before you accuse me of being a partisan hack, you should know that I have met John McCain. Twice. Once was in 8th grade, on a field trip to DC. Marc Walker, Peter Ranger, Jenny Van Loo, and one other kid stopped by the Senate. McCain's secretary went in to his office and told him some young Arizonans were here. He came out and chatted us up. Even gave us some Senate swag. Lapel pins for our Izod shirts, dont'cha know. (Marc Walker's Izod was pink, if I remember correctly, and no doubt he was popping his collar.) Is this who we want as President? Someone who fritters away precious work time glad-handing middle schoolers? And spending untold cents of taxpayers' paychecks on lapel pins to try to win (future) votes? Enemy of pork, indeed.

Second time was summer 1990. McCain spoke to us at Boys' State, which that year was held at Northern Arizona University (Go Lumberjacks!). If you haven't heard if it, Boys' State is a 3 or 4 day mock government camp, it brings in boys from all over a state. Sponsored by the American Legion, so it's very traditional and patriotic. (Except that all we wanted to talk about was what BS music censorship was. 2 Live Crew had clearly made an impression on us white boys) There's also Girls' State, and it's sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution sucks. They don't let them do anything fun. It's like a gulag. (a girl-ag?) 

We got to make friends and order Domino's and stay up pretty late and compare notes on what the girls back home were willing/eager to do, or not. Not to repeat adolescent male bragging as historical fact, but ... on second thought, I'll not repeat it at all. 

Anyway, it's 6 am and I need to start my day. So I should get to my point: McCain is a crazy American. He told us this story (which is now standard stump material) about his cellmate in Hanoi. Mike Christian sewed an American flag inside his shirt, then got beaten quite badly when the guards found it, then started sewing a new one that night, even though his eyes were practically swole shut. As I heard it then, and as I reflect on it now, this story has many possible morals: 

1. Never sew.
2. Watch where you're going, especially when bombing North Vietnam.
3. Flags are neato.
4. McCain CRAZY.

I'm going with 1,2 and 4. Keep in mind, the audience is all 16 and 17 year old boys, and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait happens about a month after this speech. And what does McCain want us young men in the flower of our youth to know? That WE'RE NUMBER ONE! Chant with me now, folks, U-S-A! U-S-A! 5 years of torture, and he concludes that allegiance to one's flag is where it's at? Apparently, yours is not to question why we're bombing North Vietnamese civilians who couldn't find the US on a map, yours is to do or die, or, failing those 2, sew.

War hero? Sure. Better than most of the deadbeats in Congress? No doubt. But a thoughtful decision maker he is not. Soon, voters will see this. They will either stay home or Gobama. Mark my words.

On a side note, that scrawny cat is stopping by nightly, meowing thru the door at me. There's actually like 3 of them. I've started a cat-watch, so the next time we see one, we'll get a picture.

check for updates!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Dare I make an entrance?

It's Sarah! I don't have any cute pics to add because all the cute pics are sleeping. I'm watching some awful Wayans family sitcom on Star TV because it's in English and I understand it. And 8:30 is too early to go to bed...

ok, if I can figure it out, I will post a pic of someone cute. We have shuttle buses that leave the compound to the grocery store, downtown, etc. I had Emm in the backpack during a shopping trip last week, and he fell asleep, so I just left him in there.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Chinese Corn Flakes

It's time to make lunch here on Sunday afternoon, but for those faithful readers who love photos, here's one:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

coooling off

Shame on me. I realized I haven't really set the scene by describing the basics of our living situation. So, especially for the most of you who have not been to Shanghai, here goes....

We are a couple hours' drive from the beach, at roughly the same latitude (31 N) as famed US metropoli El Paso, San Diego, and Montgomery, Alabama. When we first arrived this month, we had a lot of Montgomery-type days. Swampy. Lately it has been beautiful-- warm, sure, but clear skies and not so humid. A cross between the butt-ass dry heat of El Paso and the "vaguely damp but still pleasant" of San Diego.

Word on the street is that many factories were shut down for the Olympics (we had soccer here in Shanghai Stadium) so maybe we're seeing an artificially nice atmosphere. Oh well. I'll be sure to compare next August's weather and I'll get back to you.

We live in a gated community. (feels weird saying that) We are guarded 24-7, from what I'm not sure. Everyone we have spoken to here (even if only a "ni hao") has seemed very pleasant and not at all interested in jacking my $110 bike. BUT ONE CAN"T BE TOO SURE. So we have uniformed dudes all around who lift the big striped bar-thingy for us to walk under, and who peek into our taxi when we're driving in to confirm we're residents.

So our walk to work involves only 10 seconds of being unguarded as we cross the street that separates home from work, because the school is patrolled also. Better safe than sorry, I guess.

As for the natural enviro: cicadas were buzzing like crazy when we arrived, but maybe they were just crazy from the heat, because it's been days since I've heard them. Or maybe they were just promotional cicadas for the Olympics? The dragonflies have continued unabated, but don't get your hopes up to catch one. They have this amazing ability to stay away from people. I wish the mosquitoes had that. We have to stay indoors around dinnertime, or risk being their dinner. But most times of day, there aren't many out.

Only other wildlife to speak of is this wretchedly scrawny cat who wanders around, foraging. Yesterday he rustled up what (I hope) was his worst meal ever--a used diaper. Ahhhh! Our nanny (feels weird saying that) got in a bus accident, so she's home for a few days. The boys both had some stomach issues yesterday, so I stayed home. Dutiful house-husband that I am, I had been cleaning up and had put a bag of trash on the porch for later transport to the communal trash can. Couple hours later, I walk into the kitchen and the big kid is all agitated, looking through the porch door. "Dad! It's a catandhe'stryingtoeatadiaper!" Trash strewn all over, including one of the little guy's diapers, which (mercifully--see "stomach issues," above) had not come open. Still, gross. So I banged on the glass, but the cat cared not. I pegged him with a peanut, but rather than flee, he seemed grateful. At this point, the 5-year-old is exhorting me to "Kill it!" I talked him down and we put shoes on to go make peace with our emaciated intruder. By then, the poor wretch had lost interest in shelling the peanut and he slinked away. Man Vs. Wild, indeed. That's what passes for high adventure in the Pearlz house these days.

In other news, we found a grocery store that's actually not too overwhelming: Metro. Lots of stares and curiosity about the boys in our shopping cart (who I tamed with some Sesame Street on the iPod--thank you, Steve Jobs) but no touts aggressively demo'ing the latest mop, like at the Carrefour in GuBei. yikes. Metro has stuff in bulk, and when each trip eats up half a day, bulk is niiiice. One of these weekends, we'll actually be tourists, but so far it's been all shopping.

Last Saturday, on our way home from the store, I snapped some photos to give y'all a sense of the changes going on here. Our neighborhood is on the west edge of town, and construction is everywhere. Our friends downtown joke that we're out in the country, and it's kind of true. But not for long. Everywhere there are cranes, piles of demolished walls, trucks and carts full of building materials. And the occasional dude relieving himself on a wall.

I'm excited to hear from more of you. Thanks to all who made me happy by replying to the plea for email. Take care...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Kountdown to Kindergarten ended yesterday

So the big boy began kindergarten yesterday. After a one-day orientation on Thursday, he found out who his actual teacher and classmates are. Mom walked him home at 3 and heard all about it. By the time I got home at 4:30, he wouldn't say boo about it. Oh well. We are excited and will both get to stop by his classroom periodically during the year. It is about 20 yards from Mom's office and about 200 yards from mine. So nice to be so close.

As for little, he started at the Wonderful World of Learning on Friday. He'll go for half-days, then home with ayi (nanny) in the afternoon. His teacher seems very nice, energetic, fun. Soon he'll be hearing nothing but Chinese in class. Only 10 kids in class, and 2 of them are kids of nice people we know from SAS.

We have been quite busy of late, with work, fun and reading/watching Olympics with the boys taking up most of our time. And don't forget shopping! With the generous resettlement allowance school gives us, we have money to set up our kitchen, maybe get some nice beds made, find soy yogurt somewhere in Shanghai (we did! Carrefour). So each Saturday so far has seen us hitting one or more stores. We have bikes now, a toaster oven, blender, dishes, towels, you know, stuff a family needs if it is to eat, shower, be healthy, have fun. No luck finding baseball gear though.

Which I mention as a segue into announcing that I am the assistant coach of the SAS Eagles varsity baseball team. I know what you're thinking: Why not head coach? I'm excited, tryouts start tomorrow, and our China Cup tournament this year will be in Beijing. So I'll get to see the capital, the Olympic aftermath/hangover, and the fam is likely going to join us. 

So Go Eagles and check the blog starting in 2 weeks for score updates. I'll try to create a page within the blog just for baseball. We play on Saturdays, and several of our opponents are teams of Chinese men, like 40-year-old guys. How cool is that? The umpires speak only Chinese, I think, so we'll need our players to translate if there's a rhubarb or dustup of any sort.

What else is going on? On yeah, work. I finally got to meet my students. Half of them Thursday, half on Friday. Seem very nice and capable. I have 2 study halls, all ESOL sophomores. And I see those same 18 or so students in other periods, in their history class when I "push in." So I work with 3 other teachers, and see about 5-7 of my kids at a time in a given History course. I've got a US History since Civil War and 2 Modern World Historys, which is basically 20th Century blood and guts, plus le French Revolution (don't ask). I'll also man the high school's Writing Centre for a few periods a week, editing papers, etc. I'm reading The Crucible so that I know what I'm talking about. All 10th graders read it and have to (get to?) write a paper about it. Devils, sex and witches, so far so good in Act One.

I hate to stop, now that I have my blog mojo ("blojo"? working, but it IS 11:11 pm and the USA women are done whuppin' the Aussies, so it's bedtime. I'll be better about updating, and you faithful readers (all 4 of you) would really brighten our day if you'd fire off an email every now and then. My dad gets the prize for writing lately, and Larry wins for Skyping the most. If only that dang camera would work better...

Photo above is from 3 hours ago. 2 sweaty boys after partying at the annual welcome back to SAS barbecue. Lots of fun, best weather day since we've been here. Can't wait for it to cool off.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

happy birthday dad

you are a gold medalist in my book.

Monday, August 11, 2008

apartment tour video, still not uploading

Hi all. The slowness of my youtube uploading has reminded me that there are some tech challenges to living in China. One of them is that my emails to you might get flagged as spam. So please check your junk folders to see if any of my emails have ended up there. 

Also, on the off chance you have not seen Flight of the Conchords, check these guys out:

IKEA, part 2

So we began our IKEAttack inauspiciously, getting stuck in the front door. They were the kind they have at Portland airport, which automatically rotate and when the gap comes open, you shuffle in and try not to get run over. Well, a bunch of people were trying to cram in, and it just stopped. So we're standing there, with a 2-foot gap left behind us, and no way to go forward. Thankfully, people stopped squeezing in when they saw it was stuck, or else I could have been headed for a serious claustro-freakout. We backed out, and tried the other door, but it was stuck too. A couple minutes later, they started up and we went in. We proceeded to the starting line.

Keep in mind, the store is not yet open at this point. They let you in the lobby, but the showroom floor is still roped off. We've arrived this early because any later in the day, it's apparently a nuthouse. So at about 9:59 we get the green light and the race is on. With my little cart bag-holder thing, I feel like Richard Petty. I'm trying to cruise ahead and put some distance between me and the masses, but Sarah's like "chill out." And taking the curves too fast is bad for Desi because the cart seat is way too small for him. His body weight was being supported largely by his crotch. But he was a trooper.

Anyway, we bought most of what we needed. Plus some of what we didn't. Made it thru the maze unscathed and still civil to one another. Had to fight off several touts pushing delivery or taxis, and of course bag up all our stuff. As of June 1, stores in China were forbidden to give out plastic shopping bags for free, so we sprang a buck for 2 *HUGE* IKEA bags. We got all our stuff together, we roll outside, and I see our bus rolling away. The school had taken us there, so I tracked down a school person, and they called the driver. Meanwhile, the security guy was trying to tell me I couldn't take the cart outside, and his buddy (a relentless tout) was trying to "help" me with a cab. Once the bus finally came, I ignored them both and loaded our junk in to the bus. Then the 2 dudes helped me return the carts. Even the people hassling you are nice here. 

Sunday, August 10, 2008

IKEA? Next time, youKEA.

So we have been nesting lately, which has meant lots of shopping. The school has been thoughtful enough to organize bus trips to megastores on weekends. These are places I habitually avoid at home, but here and now, when we need dishes, kid furniture, clocks, towels, spatulas, etc., where else to go but IKEA? There is Carrefour, kind of a French Fred Meyer/WalMart place, which sells imported food and housewares in addition to lots of local stuff. But our needs dictated a trip to IKEA, so Saturday morning we got on the bus. Having been told by our friend Leo, who lives downtown, that he'd rather be shot in the head than go to IKEA on a Saturday, we were prepared for the worst.

boys are awake. more later...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

no more long commutes

I don't think we'll be buying a car.

Watch the video to see why.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Greatest Nap of All Time--

We all laid down at 1:00 pm Tues. for a nice post-lunch nap. Well, it's 11:20 pm and the 3 of them are still asleep.

now it's 11:40...

It seems like now is the quietest time of day. We live in a place called Westwood Green, which is on the western edge of Shanghai. So noise is definitely not a problem. Coming from our very quiet house in Portland, though, we just notice ANY noise. So the steady rumble of trucks and a few honks per minute is fast becoming white noise to us. So at midnight, as I sit here on the couch, pondering Earth's time zones and wondering how long of a massage to get tomorrow after the nanny arrives, the relative silence is a nice treat.

I'll keep y'all posted on how long of a massage I decided to get. :) (Hey, summer break ends in 2 days. Teachers gotta get the most of our time off).

Here are the promised photos, including one of Keller, who is the son of Leo (college friend) and his wife Sue Ann, who flashed her Jedi skills with our electric mosquito swatter the other night. The photo of me is of the flusher for the toilet in our half-bathroom. It's got a small flush and big flush. I love having options. 

UPDATE: It's Wednesday night now. Desi just went to bed after being up for 20 hours. Emmy and I woke up at 3 am, and he got a nap today, so Desi and Sarah are the big winners of today's no-sleep contest. So maybe tonight's our night to get normal... 

By the way, no massage today. Maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

the eagles have landed

we are here in shanghai. zhudi town was jumping on a saturday night as our bus rolled into Westwood Green, our new gated community. (never thought I'd write those words).

flight was fine, kids were great, Benadryl was used sparingly, iPod was not. 

we all woke up about 2 in the morning, after 4 hours of sleep. our place is nice. all the people we have met have been nice. including the 2 security guards who came to turn off the alarm Emmett activated. there's these red panic buttons on the wall, right at kid height. surprise, emmy pushed one.

we are mostly unpacked, and tired, but very excited. Desi had already befriended one of new neighbors here at WWG before we even left the San Fran airport. another family new to the school was on our flight.

photos soon. i'm low on battery (my computer is too)


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

T-minus 8 days and counting...

Hi all. We are scrambling around, cleaning up, and looking forward to our great adventure. We leave August 1, and our cell phones will stop working that day around lunchtime. Our home phone will be useless before that, and email will be at work/cafes only for our first few days in Shanghai.

All this is my way of saying: We'll be in touch, but not quickly or easily. We are shipping our computer and won't have it a for a couple months. We start work on Aug. 7 (my birthday) and we'll email/blog from there. We'll resume Skype-ing once our iMac arrives around Oct. 1.

So watch the Olympics, check the blog, and know that we miss you when we are far away.

the Pearlz fam

Monday, June 30, 2008

Sunny Beach!

Good times were had by all. 
Here's proof.

What: Beach reunion
Where: Pacific City
When: late June 2008
Why: People are goin' places in life
Who: (see photo)

Friday, June 20, 2008

birthday photos, better late than never

Here's some cute ones from the party in the park last month. The puppet show was a big hit. Support Penny the Puppeteer!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Here's my speech

BHS graduation rocked, as always. Here's video of my speech (phone quality):

There's also a higher-quality version: 

I had fun, and as far as I could tell, all 400 seniors were paying attention. Now, all that's left is for them to always follow every word of advice I gave them. Forever.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

proof, part 2

After buying the iMac, few funds remained with which to buy eye patches. Luckily, pirates are nothing if not resourceful.

proof that computers do not make America more efficient, part 1

Tell me I'm not the only one who thinks that PhotoBooth alone justifies the $1x00 I spent on this shiny iMac? Are ya with me, people?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

...staff, parents and the Class of 2008: (what do I say next?)

Hi to all (meaning both) readers of this blog. I need your help. The Beaverton High School graduating class of 2008 has voted me as their graduation speaker. I have less than 2 months to prepare. I have little idea what I'll say. Do you remember any good things about any of the commencement speeches you've heard? Quotes, style, gimmicks, topics--I'll draw inspiration from whatever I can get my hands on. My goal is to be 1/1200th as good as Conan O'Brien was when he delivered this one at Harvard in 2000:

email me any help you can...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Greetings, future Pearlzes/fans

From Earth year 2008, I say "hello." The purpose of this blog is to document (for the benefit of our descendants, friends and future Earth historians) the lives of the 4 known as the Pearlz family. Updates to follow as frequently as our travels and wild partying permit.