Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year

Its a day or so early but I imagine I may not make it back to the computer in the next day or two. Alaska has been great. I haven't had to work much at all although I have put off some things that need handling before I return to California.
We have gotten more snow which has been nice and the nephews went skating the other day at the lagoon near my mom's house which was hilarious to watch. My older nephew got cross-checked by a girl about 3 years older than him playing hockey and my younger nephew did his best not to crack his helmet open while walking across the ice on his skates.
No substantial plans for the New Years celebration at this point. I imagine we will have an adult beverage and keep it relatively quiet. The Anchorage nightlife scene has become extremely highschool oriented. I'm getting old and young people are getting obnoxious.
Off for a walk with Kia's mom here shortly. Darjeeling Limited is playing at the local brewhouse theater so we are going to try and check that out at some point. I also want to see No Country for Old Men. These both beat Jay Chou movies... sorry Kun.
OK my mom is playing Kenny G or something I need to make her stop before I go ape-shit.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Cash Money Y'all

I played Monopoly with my nephew yesterday and built some high-rise hotels on Baltic/Mediterranean/Oriental/Vermont and Connecticut. Because my nephew is 6 he got the family rate on my luxury suites - $6 - Kia paid full price.... I lost.
Alaska is wintery. The snow is not so deep but it is cold and beautiful. Christmas is in full swing which basically means we are consuming large quantities of cookies and candy. We (Kia) finished most of the holiday shopping before we left so we were in good shape when we got here to just hang out.
At lunch the other day Sara expressed her concern that on my return to the states the blogging epic that is my blog would cease. Fear not. I will continue to write inane garbage on a semi-regular basis. I took some pictures here and will upload them shortly.
All-in-all things are good. Kia and I are sore from battling at Wii boxing and we are headed out for one of the many Christmas households we will participate in this year shortly.
I hope this post finds everyone well and you are all enjoying a bountiful Kwanzaa.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Country Rooooad... Take Me Hooooome...

OK, getting in the taxi for the airport in like 15 min. Printed out my ticket and said my tenth goodbyes - there will likely be one more. I am pumped to get home and down on leaving. Mostly because of the friends I have made here. I guess its a good thing to know that you will miss people rather than be happy to be leaving them. I owe a great deal to the people I have met here and those folks who have made me feel at home in a country which is so different from my own.
Off to the airport. I am going to make some of the team drink some Beijing liquor on my way out. Bad management....
See some of you soon, and some of you a little later....

Monday, December 10, 2007

I Can Be Sentimental AND Gangsta Right?

Here is the slideshow I pulled together for the team here in Beijing. It was too long to upload to youtube (10 min max) and the file was enormous. I used iMovie to make the slideshow because I was suckered in by coworkers who convinced me that it was the easiest way to build the movie. I think Windows MovieMaker would have probably been just as easy.
Only a couple more days here in Beijing. Very bittersweet. Excited to get home and spend time in AK over the holidays. Also going to miss a lot of things and people around here.
Lots to do before I leave. I may need to purchase another bag to haul home all of my crap. I also have to deal with my spectacular hotel and check out of that place (praise Jesus).
Enjoy the slideshow.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Analytics and Adwords

Boring topics maybe. I thought I would toss out some site stats. Kunan has been known to claim that the only person who reads my blog is my father (this may be true depending on your definition of "reads") but good ol' Google Analytics has a little different story to tell....

Since the beginning of my blog:
  • I have had 1,420 pageviews.
  • Visitors have averaged 1.48 pages per visit.
  • Average time per visit is 2:16
  • I have had 958 visits.
  • I have had 234 absolute unique visitors (probably based on IP).
  • 88.83% of my visitors visited using FireFox.
  • 83% of my visits have come directly to my site (not via another site)
  • 6% have come through my AdWords ads
  • 2% have come from Sara's blog
  • Top referring queries from Google ("matt lewis", "harry potter sucks", "", '"its the wysz son"')
  • Referrals have also come from Matt D.'s blog - who knew he had a blog? - and Nate's.
  • Top day for visits was Oct. 31st 2007 - I got 18 that day.
Yeah fine, that's kind of boring. So what, get off your high horse.
Oh yeah, and for those of you who don't know, I have purchased some AdWords ads on a few different keywords so if you forget the web address (really you should have my blog bookmarked) you can do a quick search like this and find some hilariously clever advertisements. Do yourself a favor and refresh the search results page to check out the ad variations.
Work is kind of ape right now. Only four more work days before I get on a plane. I have to do things like pack, check out of my apartment, clean my desk, blah blah blah. It almost just seems easier to stay. Then again.... Getting pumped to get back to AK for the holidays and see folks. I made a photo slideshow for my departure to play for the team. I will share it if I can ever get it to fully upload. My video compression skills are lacking.
Word 'em up.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Last One, I Swear

Good weekend in Beijing. Went out for Malaysian food on Friday to a little hutong (local) neighborhood. Food and company were good. Saturday was spent doing some shopping at some local malls. It was kind of cool going to the malls where there were no tourists. I realized though that things are just more expensive here in Beijing. Clothes, anything that even resembles a name brand, are roughly 20-30% more expensive than in the states and people will buy anything with a recognizable logo. Name brands are practically a national past time. Case in point on this is the prevalence of Playboy merchandise. On everyone. Grandmas, wearing Playboy shoes. Oh, and when did Pepsi start selling sneakers?
Whew, OK, photos of Tibet. The first couple are of pilgrims walking their route around the Jokhang. The outfits were totally awesome and the hair decorations on the women were pretty amazing.

This was the day we went to the Potala palace. It was the former residence of the Dalai Lama and there are a number of tombs of former Dalai Lamas there.

More pilgrims and decorations.

Some parting shots.

Thats it. I have more photos of Tibet but they will end up in the picasaweb album at some point not here. Sorry, I got a little obsessive with posting these.
Sunday (today) was pretty good too. I had to get up early for a basketball game. We played another company here in Beijing and won a squeaker. After flipping the lead for the majority of the fourth quarter we were up by one point with a few seconds to go. The other team fouled on the inbound and sent Allan to the line. He hit one of two and they couldn't get the ball inbounds and a shot off quick enough to contest the win. It was pretty exciting.
Going to bed early. I am putting off some work I have to do but hey, what are they going to do, deport me?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

OK, Now I'm Overdoing It

So on Friday it will be two weeks until my flight back to the US. Not that I am counting down or anything.... Actually I am.
Here are some photos of the Ganden monastery outside of Lhasa. Wifey and I took a day trip out to the monastery which is about 1500 meters higher elevation than Lhasa. My dad warned me that it was a bit rough up there and it was. We braved the elevation though and took a walk around the other side of the hill the monastery was on and it had some awesome views. The prayer flags were whipping pretty hard in the wind and it was pretty awesome. The road up to the monastery from the valley floor was this amazing series of switchbacks which looked insane from above. It was literally like 30-40 curves back and forth.

Huffing and puffing.

Sheep - there were long haired sheep which looked like mini-yaks. They were hilarious.
Transition to my replacement is in high gear. I also have a midnight meeting tonight combined with an 8am tomorrow. The running joke at the office is that I "used" to like my job. I guess I started that joke....
Meeting time.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Yeah, More Tibet

The day after Thanksgiving is not exactly a holiday in China. That said, the cafe staff in Beijing did make up for their botching of the holiday the day earlier by serving turkey with all the traditional trimmings. When I say traditional trimmings I mean thin pancakes, green onions and plum sauce. That's right, Peking turkey. The joke that I was making the day earlier came to fruition in the most literal way.
More Tibet. These photos are in Lhasa. This day we went to the Jokhang one of the most holy places for pilgrims in Tibet. It was pretty intense inside. Lots of pilgrims, yak butter and incense. After a quick look around we headed for the roof which was a little quieter and we were allowed to take photos....

That's right.


Things are busy getting the transition going for my replacement in Beijing but I did manage to fit in some video game time with Allan today and beat Halo 3. It was pretty rad. I also uploaded some photos to the picasaweb album of Laos today and some others from Cambodia the other day.
Off to bed.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Tibezzle Post 2

Happy Thanksgiving. I celebrated the traditional Chinese way of working all day and then eating Taiwanese food complete with boba milk tea. We were going to eat Peking duck but Kunan didn't want to. No turkey today in the cafe at work which was kind of a let down but they did have a knife cut noodle dish with meat. It was awesome. I ended up getting into a bit of a debate about turkey vs. chicken with some of my coworkers. Everyone who I asked - who had tried turkey - were happy to state that chicken is preferable. I reject this statement outright. While I do understand and appreciate the day to day utility of chicken and the ability to prepare it in a number of different ways, when comparing roasted chicken to roasted turkey, turkey wins. Debate over. (I actually said that in the office today after my discussion about turkey)
OK, more Tibet photos. These are from day 2 of our trip to Lhasa. We took a walk around the Jokhang which is a popular pilgrimage route and then took a trip to two monasteries which were right outside of Lhasa. One of them was closed, for, uh, repairs... the Sera monastery was open and buzzing. Photos below.

Pilgrims walking around the Jokhang - we went in the Jokhang a different day.

Monks engaged in debate. This is a daily activity in which they discuss Buddhist writings and clap their hands together to emphasize certain parts of the scripture. The guy below was feeling his section of the scripture.

This was on the main street of the city. I smiled at this kid and he banged on his drum for me. It was pretty loud. The "Tibet Power" signs that lined the street were money.

At dinner.
I went to the grocery store after dinner this evening to look for yak meat for my grandmother. For some reason my dad thinks that she will like this. I didn't find yak meat but I did find spicy duck tongue. Perhaps this will be a reasonable substitute.
Off to bed. Eat some stuffing for me.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tibet Post 1

OK, finally diving into the Tibet photos. A lot of them came out pretty great in my humble opinion. It is pretty hard to screw up photos of such an amazing place. I am breaking the photo posts down into days so that I can post a ton of photos. These are the photos from the first day we were there.
There are lots of rules for foreigners (non-Chinese nationals) traveling to Tibet. Its kind of a pain really. My dad basically convinced me not to pay for a big tour - that saved me around $1000. Thanks dad.

These are photos Kia took from the bus between the airport and Lhasa.

The Potala palace. This is basically where our bus let us off. Awesome.

Prayer wheels that go all the way around the palace for pilgrims.

Part of the park behind the palace.

A couple of shots from behind the palace. Lots more photos. Between Kia and myself we took around 600 in Tibet. That's going to max out my Picasa web album probably.
So things are cool here in Beijing. Cold really. Its been around freezing the last week or two. Thanksgiving is coming up so maybe I can get some Peking turkey hooked up. I'm not going to set my hopes too high for the office Thanksgiving meal but damn, I could go for some stuffing and gravy. I hope everyone eats and drinks too much.
Stay grimy.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ridiculously Cute Kids Wearing Clothes My Wife Designed

For those of you who don't know, wifey has been working at Tea Collection for the last year and a half or so. She works as the textile designer for the company which designs kids clothing in a pretty unique way. Every season at Tea they use a different country as inspiration for the clothing line so the clothes are fairly interesting. Because the company is fairly small and Kia is basically the bomb, she does the textiles for the company including prints, weaves, etc. and also does the knit design. I thought I would throw some photos in to give Kia some props. I'm proud of the accomplishments she's made and I am extremely happy that she gets to do what she enjoys and be creative on a daily basis.
The Tea Collection website has more information on the company which is pretty cool. They work with and contribute to the Global Fund for Children which is a rad group.
Stole some photos from the website which give a sample of some of the work that Kia has done with prints, weaves and knits.

I don't know where they find these kids but Jesus, those are some decent genes. Thanks for nothing parents.
Less than a month to go in Beijing. Its getting cold here and apparently it snowed in some part of Beijing the other day. It kind of reminds me of home, except, you know, its China.
(Updated the pictures to remove stuff that Kia hasn't worked on and add in some other stuff)