Monday, December 29, 2008

Great Wall


Back in November, Tom, Jack and Tom's parents went to the Great Wall. You can see what it is like where we go. We go up in a cable car, walk about 2 km along the wall and then take a toboggan down the hill. It is a lot of fun.



The Great Wall- November



This is the slide you can take down from the Great Wall section we frequent.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Things that make us go, "hmmm."

video (Zeke's first birthday, just for fun. Hard to believe he was born here 1 year ago.)

So here are some things that have made us go "hmmm" in the past few weeks...

Chef Bai used red wine, rather than white wine, in the recipe I gave him for chicken breasts, giving them a sickly, raw look. Good thing we didn't have any guests (unless you count my parents who are visiting from home.)

The toilet in one of our bathrooms didn't work well. It would run and run until we would, yes, shake the handle. We had it repaired by the maintenance crew in our compound many times since we moved in 2 1/2 years ago. The problem was that the chain would get kinked and the flap would not return to it's resting position. Eventually, after much shaking of the handle, the chain would break. Finally, Tom had reached the end of his rope, which you will see is ironic when you read what happened. He went up to the clubhouse of our compound to talk directly with management to complain. He explained that we have had the problem "fixed" 3o times since we moved in and now he wanted it done right. He was kind but firm and later that day a worker came to make the repair. When the work was complete, Tom asked the man if it was done well, and of course he was told it was. When Tom took a look at the workmanship he found that the chain had been replaced with a piece of twine!!!

You can imagine Tom's reaction, I am sure. I can tell you he was not pleased. He calmly explained to the worker that the fix was not acceptable and he told the man to tell his boss he wanted it fixed right. A manager came to our house and we were told that the toilet had not been fixed 30 times this year, only 9. (This does not include last year or the year before, of course.) After much discussion, the problem was solved when the inner workings were replaced with new parts. So far, so good!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Getting Ready for the holidays

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Jed's 2nd grade show

video
The second grade at International School Beijing did a performance of African music yesterday. Here is Jed's class, including Jed's solo.

Monday, December 08, 2008

China things


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Well, it's been several days since my last posting because our computer contracted 3 viruses in one night. The perils of living in China. The irony, or not, is that we had just updated our anti-virus software.

So, I phoned the computer teckies to help me. The rep showed up at my house, spent an hour or so working on the computer and then told me the problem was big and I'd need to bring the hard drive to the shop where they would remove everything from the hard drive and reload it.

5 days later, they phoned to say the task was complete and that I could come to retrieve the computer, which I did. I asked them to come help me set it up in my home, so 15 minutes later, a man showed up to do it. It was taking a while and then I heard him on the phone, speaking quickly. I could not understand everything that was said but I did understand the key words, "broken," "electricity," "none," and "I don't know." So, the hard drive went back to the shop where it was quickly determined that the problem was that the shop technicians had switched the power from US 110 to China 220 and forgotten to switch it back. So, with a quick flip of the switch, we were back in business. Back to my house we went, I in my car and he on his bike, and about 2 hours later, the computer was up and running. Total cost: 150 rmb, $22.06.

The photos above are unrelated. On a 5 mile walk last week, my friend and I discovered a pipe across this terribly polluted creek had sprung some sort of leak. The photos do not do justice to the image. The water is a terribly murky green black color and the pipe is streaming steam of some sort. Scenes like this one are not unusual, sadly. People hardly even notice them. On my way downtown on Sunday I noticed a huge power line drooping down along the side of a busy road. No one even looked twice at it as I stared from my car in traffic.

Sinterklaas


On Friday I attended a Beijing Military Attache Corps Spouse afternoon tea hosted by the wife of the Dutch attache. The highlight of the afternoon was the arrival of Sinterklaas. It was the attache dressed up and he was great.

These teas are hosted by a different country each month and they feature culture and foods from the host country. Attendance is usually between 50 and 80 women. English is the main language used but there are groups that cling together, speaking: Spanish, French (both from France and African nations) Russian, Japanese and Korean. Sometimes women from two different countries who do not speak one another's language will converse in Chinese.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Attache Corps Ball


On Friday night, we attended the Beijing Military Attache Corps ball. It was attended by over 200 attaches and spouses from countries all over the world. It is our third year here, third BMAC ball and first we have attended. The first year, Huck was in the hospital with Rotovirus, last year, I was 2 weeks away from giving birth to Zeke. We were very happy and relieved to be able to attend this year. We sat at a table with friends from England, Northern Ireland, Australia, The USA and Malaysia.