Thursday, July 30, 2009

An Open Letter to July

Dear July,
We need to have a talk. I feel like we've always had a good relationship, and in the past, we've gotten along just fine. I don't remember any quarrels or issues, and you have even brought me some joy. Remember all those BBQ's over the 4th? And fireworks! We had some good times. Plus, you bring with you the meat of summer, and along with that, summer vacation. One summer brought me to Ghana, and on the return trip, i spent the month of you traveling Holland and Belgium. That wasn't so bad, why can't you always be like that?

So what happened? What did i do to anger you so? This time around, July, it just seems like you aren't even trying. Worst of all, you seem to be going out of your way to make things difficult. My four largest projects at work were all scheduled to ship during you, yet you couldn't let me catch a break on any of them. Long, late hours at work every week, frustrations, set backs, multiple trips every week... seriously. What gives?

July- i'm done with you. See me next year and we'll try again, but you need to be over so i can get on with my year.

August, please be gentle.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Updated Cuteness of Turtles

So.... our turtles are really cute. There, i said it.

They are also living with us now, permanently. We decided it was too stressful on them to keep moving back and forth between classroom and our sweet pad. We are going to keep Sprink/Splish and Sprunk/Splash, and buy new ones for the classroom.

We have been reading about them a lot, and learning all about the quirks and habits of the Red Ear Slider. Did you know they are avid baskers and need a UV lamp and a heat lamp over their basking area? We didn't! Did you also know you need about 10 gallons or aquarium per inch of turtle shell? Us neither! We figure we have about 5 inches of turtle, between the two. Right now, we have a 10 gallon tank. This weekend, we will buy a 50 gallon tank, water filters, lamps, and some stuff to build a sweet basking area.

Some Red Ear Sliders are territorial and do not share space well. Ours do not have this problem.

Pretty soon we'll be feeding them minnows and other small fish or worms.

Right now they have a tequila bottle and some bricks as their accoutrements. They seem pretty happy.


Saturday, July 18, 2009


This has been a pretty exciting week so far, but Very hard work: new projects reaching their prime, a trip to tianjin, and long hours. But outside of work, i finally made a commitment to the Singapore tournament in August.

Beijing and Shanghai are (for the first time ever?) combining teams to send one China team. It's going to be long 6-hour haul to get there, but it should be worth it. I've cleared the time with work (thanks scarlet!) and i'm about ready to buy a ticket. I hear the tournament is great, and even though it's smack in the middle of monsoon season, it should be fantastic.

I also hear they are predicting rain.

I've been helping a little with the logistics too, in my spare time... settling up on-line polls to decide on a team name, helping with rosters, and designing the Jersey logos. I made two designs and let people decide which they wanted. Check 'em out:

People liked both of them so we are putting the sock on the light jersey and the chick on the dark. Awesome... thanks to Zahlen and Five Ultimate.

The team name is China United Ultimate Party, a throwback to the communist-era CCCP, PLA, or USSR. I've never made a jersey design before, but i'm pretty excited with how they turned out and i'm looking forward to my next project. I do a lot of photo touch-ups at work so i'm getting pretty good at it.

So yeah, three weeks til game time. I can't wait, i need a vacation.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Our Little Forest

This is a very belated post, almost two months old. Ace and myself went to an awesome plant market and bought plants for the new pad. Joining us were Chris, Angel, Jeff, and Joe. We all stocked up. The idea came to us from a very interesting TED video entitled, "How To Grow Your Own Fresh Air". In case you are unfamiliar with, here's a quick summary. TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, is a small nonprofit which holds conferences with the brightest minds in the world. They deliver brilliant, thought-provoking, insightful, or funny presentations, all of which are available to view for free on An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore was originally a TED talk. Check out the website; no matter what you are interested in, i guarantee you'll find something amazing.

Anyway, in this video, Kamal Meattle discusses how you can create clean, healthy air in your home with three different plants. In fact, you could be in an airtight bubble and these plants would keep you alive forever.

Taken from
  • The Areca Palm (or Chrysalidocarpus lutescens) is does great air cleansing work during the day. About 4 shoulder height plants per person should do the trick.
  • The Mother-in-law’s Tongue (or Sansevieria trifasciata) takes over by converting CO2 to O2 at night. You want about 6 to 8 of these waist high plants per person.
  • The Money Plant (or Epipremnum aureum) does the job of filtering out removing Formaldehyde and other VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds).
  • Turns out, these plants are everywhere in Beijing: Restaurants, shops, on the side of the road... even US/G has a few Areca Palms on every floor.

    Therese and I bought three Palms, 5 Tongues, and 4 money plants, which is almost what you need for one person. We figure it's better than nothing. The gigantic plant market we went to was possibly the most pleasant place in Beijing. The air is so clean, clear, fragrant, perfectly humid, refreshing... i feel like it's worthwhile to go there, buy some ice cream, and just walk around.

    Here i am, courtesy of Jeff's iPhone, totally blissed out on plant air, posing with our newly purchased foliage.

    Oh yes, we will definitely do that again.


    Saturday, July 11, 2009

    Still more Great Wall adventures

    As anticipated, ace and i went camping again over 4th of July weekend. This time we were blessed with Adie, Steph and Ken's 3 month old puppy. Ordinary activities are more enjoyable when puppies are involved. It's a fact. I don't believe this to be always true for dogs, but puppies: fact.

    Knowing this from previous experience, ace and i commandeered said puppy for the ride up. Adie took to me right away and slept in my arms for a good hour. Then we played.

    Over lunch we caught a rare glimpse of the inner workings of Lincoln's brain. Lincoln is one of the guides, and one of my teammates on Big Brother. He's a fun dude and has never had a negative word to say about anyone. Here's what goes on inside his head (this also happens to be his wallet, slight coincidence)...

    Even the rainbow has a freakin smiley face. I do feel bad for the house though, as it as not having nearly as much fun. Probably because it's face is melting off Picasso-style.

    On the wall, we enjoyed the clean air and peaceful surroundings. No Hatchet Man or Cooler Dude, although it did downpour for about an hour. A few random pictures to commemorate the event.

    All in all, another very relaxing time. Now we're ready for a weekend at home. This Saturday's agenda: tailor, haircut, and bike mechanic. Feel the excitement!


    Wednesday, July 8, 2009

    Random Pictures from the Past Month

    Posting has been sporadic lately. I've fallen behind and have only really been covering the big news. I have a few pictures that, alone, have not moved me to post. Combine them however, and they become more powerful than ever imaginable!!! Or at least worthy of their own post. Not that i got anything else going on.


    How this guy doesn't slip and fall from a great height onto the many tables and chairs below is beyond me. I was hypnotized. Is it really important to clean all the way back in that dark corner? Are step ladders not in the budget these days? Do you have workman's comp?


    We have turtles now. Sometimes. Therese bought them for her classroom at school. They come stay with us on weekends and holidays. We are their vacation home. We sing them songs in silly childish voices and they feed from our hands. It's really cute. They have names. Actually, multiple names. Therese calls them Sprink and Sprunk. I call them Splish and Splash. I'm not sure which is which.

    The Stone Boat

    Therese and i had an awesome Saturday a few weeks ago. We had no plans and spent the entire day together. We went to Chef 2 for breakfast, ran some errands, relaxed, and saw some live music. For dinner, we checked out The Stone Boat in Ritan Park. Beautiful setting, small and quaint, "floating" on a lake. The food was simple and the beer was great. We watched a three-piece gypsy jazz band, two guitars, one accordion. The pictures below were taken by a German couple we sat next to. They were visiting Beijing for two days after a 140 hour train ride on the Trans-Siberian railroad. The first picture is of us. The second picture is of us, after the guy took about 9 of the same picture by holding the button down. I'm caught mid-lunge for the camera.

    One more picture from inside Ritan Park.

    Blue Skies

    Last, an example of the many beautiful skies we've been granted in Beijing lately. We've been getting some rain, followed by glory.