Thursday, March 29, 2007

Checking in From Sichuan

We are only on day two of this trip to sichuan and it feels like we've been gone a lot longer. I am typing now from an internet cafe up a dark alley in a little mountain town. The place is packed, seemingly moistly with young guysplaying either very violent or very silly/childish games. Strange.

I came here to finish up some edits and a redeback on my column, which will be up in a few hours. I hope it's ok. I sort of lost track of this one with everything going on and am a little nervous about it.

Sichuan is very beautiful and kind of wild and rough around the edges. the food is delicious, spicy yes but not insane. Chengdu (capital) is a very nice, green livable-feeling city. We drove many hours up the mountains today and are now in a little town placed hard in a very narrow river valley between three big mountains. We are in a Tibetan autonomous region and that influence is strong here though not as obvious yet as it was in and around Shangri-La area.

Today we came out of a 4 km tunnel and bam there in the distance was this huge peak. It was a 7,756 meter mountain whose name escapes me. That is something like 23,000 feet. It is the Eastern edge of the HImalayas as far as I understand and it was a spectacular sight. Our guide had never seen it because it is usually fogged in.

we have 28-seat bus for 9 of us plus two guides. Strange, but makes it easier to do long drives with the kids.. and today was along drive.

More soon.. probably not until I get back to Beijing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Aunt Judy in the house

So Aunt Judy is here, with Hal and Ruth and Jenny. And she's loving it, having a great time. I think her biggest obsession though is my Vonage phone. She just keeps calling Royal Oak and Huntington Woods, Michigan and saying "I only have to dial 1-248!"

It's been a nice but fast visit here. Tomorrow morning, we take off early, early (7:50 am flight -- 6 am pickup) for Sichuan Province. We'll be back MOnday but they go on to Yangshuo and Shanghai without us. I will update with pics and tales from Sichuan when I can, maybe from there, maybe not until we're back.

The kids have been so excited to have them here. They love visitors and I think will be quite sad to come back and have them gone already.

I am very excited to eat Sichuan food in Sichuan.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Wild Great Wall Hike

Becky's parents, little sister Jenny and Aunt Judy arrived yesterday afternoon. They are only in Beijing for a few days as we are all leaving for Sichuan early Weds. morning and they are then continuing on without us. So it's been whirlwind. We went out to dinner last night and headed for the Great Wall today.

Becky, Judy and Ruth took the boys to Mutianyu, realtively tame section, we have been many times, and then on to the Schoolhouse, which we had heard was a great new restaurant and art gallery nearby. I wanted to take Jenny to hike from Jinshanling to Simatai, a pretty well -known, reputedly quite rugged unreconstructed wall hike I've wanted to do since we got here. I knew Harold would insist on coming and he did despite our efforts to steer him away.

I hired a car and we drove out to Jinshanling, which i about two hours away, in Hebei Province. We hiked up and got onto the Wall, trailed by a bunch of young woman carrying satchels of T shirts, posters, etc. Two of them ended up following us for a long time, through some difficult, treacherous terrain (which they didn't even notice), and it worked. We bought a poster from the young girl after she had followed us for about an hour and a half. She was kind of pleasant actually.

Anyhow, it's about an 11-k hike. I had not been on it but had been told it was tough and by several people not to bring anyone with a fear of heights out there. We got started and there were several extremely steep uphills.. some ramp-like, most up stairs, some of which were crumbling. It was difficult and Hal was sucking wind badly. I was thinking it was big mistake for him to be there. One of the ladies said to me,"Baba lai-la" ("Daddy tired") and it was clearly true. But we pushed on slowly, and he gained strength and eventually it levelled off a bit. It never got easy but the first third to half was the most intense. There was more downhill on the second half, which had its own difficulties, tough on the legs and you had to be very careful not to go down.

It ended up taking us about four hours and it was really beautiful out there today. You could see for miles, and you certainly have a good feeling of accomplishment when you walk into the Simatai parking lot and grab an ice cold Yanjing beer. Doe anything taste better than the first sip of a cold, well-earned beer on a hot day?

Meanwhile, the other crew also had a great day. If one of them coughs up photos, I will post away.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Woodie Alan gig video

The gig was a big success. I was suprisingly not nervous. Which is to say I was nervous but not freaking out. We had a huge turnout. Dave lives right around the corner from me and word definitely spread around that two guys from Riviera were playing at the Orchard. So in addition to most of my friends, a whole bunch of neighbors and acquaintances and friends of friends came.

wW started at a little after 8, played to 9, took a break and played from about 9:30-11:15. During the first set, there were several tables of random diners in front . By the second, they had left and a large group of Riviera people who had been in the back of the restaurant in a different room came down and sat right in front of us, and peole were milling around and it was really just a party.

It all felt pretty good. I have never fronted a band for a night and the challenge of being the only guitarist with no rhtyhm section was greater than I thought.. greater than the challenge of singing, which is I was much more worried about. I was the rhythm section and chordal structure of every song. I think what I was most proud of was keeping my head and rolling through errors instead of tripping on them.

I loosened up a lot in the second set, let it belt a little more, partly because I turned off my monitor which was blasting my vocals in my face the first set. We had some really nice jams. I am ready to take this electric and become a full-on jam band. We really missed a drummer on a few songs. The video I captured was pretty random. I had a video on a tripod running for most of the night.. tape ran out at some point, but it will take me a while to get that video onto my computer, then compressed and formatted. This is what I captured on my camera.

Bits of "Soulshine" and "Monkey On My Back"

The Harder They Come

Sleepovers and such

Full house here on Friday.. everyone had a friend over.. Anna's friend Lauren slept over and they were busy busy from the second she arrived until the second she left the next morning. Jacob had his classmate Harry Sha here. Also very happy.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Woodie Alan

Here you can see the very first photos of the mighty Woodie Alan. Photos from our third and final rehearsal last night, at the Stone Boat in Ritan Park, a great little bar. we were there past midnight hammering some stuff out and enjoying the icy draft Tsingtao.

Unfortunately, saxman Dynamite Dave couldn't make it. He called when I was on my way down. It's hard to find good help these days. Here, just three days before our gig a key band member backs out just because of some so-called six-party talks. Says he got pulled in, can't leave. Whatever happened to priorites? Luckily, Dave's the least of our worries. Hopefully, he'll be able to be there on Saturday but he is now officially pulled into a riptide.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Hmmm, cupcakes

Luckily, they have Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines here.

Last week's column

A lot of people got error messages trying to read ths one. I have no idea why. Anyhow, here it is. I've gotten a lot of response, email and on forum, from this one.

Drop by the forum and shake things up a bit.

How the Internet Shrinks
The Distance Between Us

March 16, 2007

Living 7,000 miles away from home ain't what it used to be. My parents moved from New York to Sitka, Alaska in 1964. I was born in Anchorage two years later. Their extended families were some 3,500 miles away in Pittsburgh and New Jersey, but my folks might as well have lived on the moon.

They spoke to their parents every other Sunday for five or ten minutes at a time, and occasionally had my brother and sister speak onto reel-to-reel tapes that they parcel posted back, so the grandparents could hear the kids' voices. The rest of the time, they existed in a sort of radio silence. That's just how it was when you lived on the other side of the world, until very recently. Now the tide has turned in some very profound ways. We live twice as far away but the distance is much smaller.

Not only do I talk to my parents and anyone else as often as I want, but a host of technologies allow us to live in China with one foot in America. My parents had to struggle to stay connected to their friends and families while we battle to unplug from life "back home" and live a fully engaged existence in China.

The linchpin of this shrinkage, of course, is the Internet. Everything else flows from those fiber-optic connections. When a December earthquake off the coast of Taiwan cut Internet service for millions of Asian residents, including countless expats, it highlighted both the fragility and the essential nature of this connection to the world. We were in America for the winter holidays and though service was restored by the time we returned, it was painfully slow for more than a month. The inability to watch videos or download podcasts and music was a bit of a wake-up call about how high my expectations have risen.

I spend virtually all day online. My Internet phone allows me to talk to anyone, anywhere for as long as I want, for about 25 bucks a month. Many people, especially those over 50, just can't understand how they can dial 10 numbers and reach me in China. I sometimes feel like a spokesperson for Vonage. I maintained my New Jersey office-phone number, so my calls include B-list publicists hawking obscure bands and awful products, telemarketers selling membership in the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police and wrong numbers, usually looking for New Jersey Plumbing Supply. (These calls have plagued me for nearly a decade -- the company once printed stationery with my number on it.)

We have regular Webcam chats with my folks, as well as select aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, nephews and nieces. Anytime I open instant-messaging software someone appears, eager for updates on life in China. This despite a regularly updated personal Web site which allows those who care to know far more about my family's daily life than ever before, when we lived in America.

Podcasts have also altered the expat experience. One American reader living in Switzerland wrote me about driving along Lake Geneva listening to U.S. newscasts on his morning commute. I know the feeling. Why struggle to listen to Chinese radio in my car, when I can listen to podcasts of my favorite NPR shows? Why practice my Chinese with a cab driver, when I can catch up on American politics or culture?

Why? Because it is wonderful to be so plugged into all things American, but it comes at a cost. As Robin, an American expat living in London, emailed me, "A downside to all these options is that being an expat has lost some of its allure. You can be anywhere and still be local with communication options, TV, and the Internet. I think the experience is devalued."

It is easy to envelope yourself in a virtual world and be blind to what is happening right outside your door. A virtual existence can never be as satisfying as real life. Reading a book review can't replace reading a book, watching the Food Network is no substitute for cooking and eating a great meal -- and simulating a fully lived American life can't compare to putting both feet on the ground in China.

That's why I usually leave my iPod at home and talk to the cabbies. And it's why I have thus far denied myself the beautiful, brilliant, insidious Slingbox. Slingbox allows you to watch a distant TV on your computer. I first learned about it from several readers when I wrote about the difficulties in watching Pittsburgh Steelers games here4. My friend and fellow Steelers lunatic, Eric Rosenblum, signed up last fall and watching games at his house has whet my appetite. A subscription is particularly appealing this week -- with the NCAA Tournament kicking off, I will be compulsively scanning the Internet for scores and updates. I fantasize about Slingbox and the round-the-clock basketball I could be watching. And that's why I need to avoid it.

One of the very best things about living here has been the sharp reduction of my entire family's TV-viewing time. In the case of nine-year-old Jacob, the change is remarkable. He was a zombified TV addict in the making in the U.S. We had to set strict limits on his viewing and he tested them daily. He never, ever turns on the TV here, absent his beloved (and our despised) Cartoon Network, which is the main reason we have shunned more expansive satellite options. Seeing me watch football and basketball, he would quickly realize that Yu-Gi-Oh lived in the same box.

I have avoided even learning more about Slingbox, because I know it wouldn't take much to seduce me over to the dark side. I am afraid to look into its eyes. Robin's email helped convince me that my instincts were right. He has Slingbox and wrote, "I find that instead of exploring London at times, I'll catch up on "Lost" or "The Shield.""

Robin says he's happy to have the option, but for now, I'm pleased that I don't have it. Technology is only as good as the limits you place on it – for example, the BlackBerry that frees you from your desk also ties you to your job -- and I know my own weaknesses. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll ride my bike over to the little restaurant around the corner and dig into a plate of dumplings.

How has technology shrunk your world? Do you see any downsides to being more connected and plugged in? Were you an expat in earlier, more remote times? I'm looking forward to hearing from you. Share your thoughts.

Write to Alan Paul at or join the online discussion.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Beijing Museum of Natural History

We finally made it to the Beijing Museum of Natural History yesterday. We had been told it was pretty good and it was.

Before I get to the museum, let me address the parking. If that seems odd, The museum is situated in South Beijing, just on the west flank of the Temple of Heaven, which is a really, really nice park and interesting historical site.

That part of town has been less torn-down and rebuilt. Not too many high rises and lots of low rise, buildings where real people work and live. Or it was like that. I haven’t been therein a bit, and I was just shocked driving around the North and then west flank of Temple of Heaven Park. There were blocks and blocks of hutongs being torn down, in various states of crumbling disrepair.

You get used to this in Beijing, but this really sort of stopped me in my tracks. Or it would have if I wouldn’t have been rear-ended by a trolley bus if I had actually stopped. We found the place and had to park down a bumpy rutted road with lots of garbage pile dup, a trolley bus stop across the way in this sort of narrow alley. and right up against some of the buildings being torn down. That’s what these pictures show. It was really striking.

There re still a few places open amidst this rubble, and no doubt folks still living in there. It’s sad. Anyhow, we walked on past all this and into the museum.

We haven’t really had a good outing somewhere new downtown as a family in a while and it was good to do so and or the kids to have a fun time surrounded by Chinese families, which is sadly too rare of an occurrence. Anna said to me today, “all the peoples at the museum only speaks Chinese” and she was really surprised. I think that’s really sad.

The museum felt pretty old and dated in parts but really pretty nice. They had a decent dinosaur exhibit.. not great in the real bones. But they had a “Jurassic Park” with moving dinosaurs eating each other… a little cheesy but the kids loved it. They also some pretty cool holographs displays of dinosaurs in their environments.

On the way out, we bought the kids ice creams, and as we headed for the car, we saw we saw “the Hall of Human Body.“ I had heard they had real human bodies in formaldehyde but someone told me they removed them under some pressure. So I didn’t look that hard, but there it was, in a little building outside the museum, right in front.

We walked in, past the “No photos please” sign, which I oddly obeyed, and there was a full human male hanging in glass jar. Along the wall were brains and some organs. Continuing on, they had more body parts, in cross section, including the male and female reproductive systems. Jacob said, “Ha ha! A penis! Why didn’t you tell me about this place?!”

They all loved it and were surprisingly not grossed out – even by the baby. Yes, baby, floating formaldehyde. In fact, Eli opened up his Mr. Banana ice cream and was chomping away as he looked at all this stuff in a small and dingy room.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Fresh from my camera to the blog, on an early saturday morning. We're having Jacob's birthday party this afternoon, pushed back from last week because of his illness -- which turned out to be salmonella. Ironic that he would get it, by far the least likely member of our family to eat anything odd.

They all go to Super Moverz, run by our friend Wyatt, who is also doing Jacob's birthday party today. Hard to explain how excited they are for this.

Practicing their Super Moves.

"I'm going to take one like Chinese people do. I'm a Chinese people."

I finally almost captured the full cuteness and Curious George nature of Eli and his missing tooth. It's hard for me to not laugh every time I look at him.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Debut gig next week

So I have a new band, Woodie Alan. The name is explained below. We have our first gig next Saturday, March 24 at the Orchard, near our house, same place we had our 40th bday party. I was getting nervous because I invited almost everyone I know to my favorite restaurant to hear me perform and I am singing almost everything. No hiding. But we rehearsed tonight, in a mostly empty bar downtown, and I'm feeling pretty good. My secret weapon is the addition of my sax friend Dave. Woodie also rocks.

More details to come.

Here's the email I sent out.


Hello Beijing friends.

I am performing at the Orchard next Saturday, March 24. I have a great musical partner, the wonderfully named Woodie Wu. We had no choice but to call ourselves Woodie Alan.

We’ll start around 7 pm and play some blues, some Dylan, anything else we can manage to remember. It should be fun.

It is our first performance, so please make sure to have a few drinks with dinner. It is also an open mic following our performance, with people invited to join us or take over the stage for a song or two.

So please come. Leave your rotten tomatoes at home, but bring along that mandolin, guitar, bongo or fiddle that’s sitting in the back of your closet.

Hope to see you there.


Alan Paul

WHERE: The Orchard
WHEN: Saturday March 24, 7ish
WHAT: Debut performance of acoustic duo Woodie Alan

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Murray Ave. Parts Two And Three



If Murray Avenue means anything to you...

Then you have to watch this. It is actually just part one of three. Together, they are pure gold, a documentary of lower Murray Ave circa 1980. Featured business are Silberberg Bakery, Eddie's Newsstand and Fogels' Kosher Butcher. Anyone who grew up in Pittsburgh with me, or earlier should remember them all well.

Eli's toothlessness

I finally got some toothless grins but not the money shot yet. The look that he gives me where I can't not laugh, no matter what is going on.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sichuan video

Great Music site

I strongly urge everyone to check out

I read about in a WSJ story a while ago and finally checked it out recently. It is really quite brilliant. They have something called the Music Genome Project, which has broken music down to its essential elements. Basically, you enter an artist, album or even single song you like and they put together playlists they think you'll also dig. Then the music plays and you give it a thumbs up (adds it to a playlist) or thumbs down (axes it and moves on).

It is really a great, great way to freshen up your music listening. I have discovered or rediscovered some great, great music. Artists I like but forget to listen to.. or songs by them I didn't know, or only barely. And also a bunch of new artists for me. I really recommend this in the strongest possible terms.

I have been playing and listening to the Dead's "Sugaree" a lot for instance. I entered that song and they start streaming music from Uncle Tupelo, CCR, the Who, Paul McCartney, Stray Cats, some I didn't know (the Only Ones, Hefner).. and I really like a lot of it. It's very cool. This single service will probably lead me to buy/download more music than anything else has since I was 15 and reading Rolling Stone and rushing to buy whatever guys like Dave marsh said I should like.

I'm curious to try some more esoteric choices, like Doc Cheatham or Ruby Braff or Ben Webster.. maybe some hip hop.. and see what comes up. It is pretty uncanny.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Jacob gets his silver

They have a merit system.. you get 15 and you get a bronze certificate , 30 you get a silver and so on... jacob recently got his silver, very proudly.

Classic picture

A friend sent this along. She took it on her way home. Good to see that despite efforts to replace the insanely translated English, some things will never change.

We were sad to see the signs for the "Children Pleasure Garden" taken down in Ritan Park, replac ed by, gasp, "playground." Somethng seemed lost. But in the bathroom there, the handicapped stall still reads "for deformed man only."

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Last week's column, with pics

Buying a New Year's Day sugar cane.

Anna and friends. Notice how bundled up they are.
Chinese people think we are committing child abuse
to have an open coat like this.

Fireworks stand near our house. There were many of these.

Experiencing Chinese New Year
For the First Time in Beijing

March 2, 2007

It is truly exciting to be here for Chinese New Year. The holiday is like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's and Fourth of July wrapped up into one holiday that celebrates family, nation and a love of food and fireworks. Before moving to China, I had only a vague awareness of the holiday, which barely extended beyond understanding that each year was named after one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac.

Here, a palpable buzz was evident about two weeks before the actual holiday, which fell on Sunday, February 18 and runs for 15 days, ending with this Sunday's Lantern Festival. Our kids enjoyed learning about the zodiac, with this being the Year of the Pig, and each child participated in a Chinese New Year's play at school. They understood that something was afoot, but all of us had only an inkling of the holiday's true significance.

Gift boxes of fruit and candy began appearing in large stacks in grocery stores and at little fruit stands all over town. Cartoon pigs and other decorations went up everywhere. Fireworks stands sprouted like mushrooms in a cave. Though they go off randomly year-round, the volume noticeably picks up day by day as the holiday grows near. The explosions rattled my nerves at first -- I had a bit of a fireworks phobia before moving here -- but I began to barely notice them.

By the first week of February, the parking lot of the local market up the street4 filled with New Year's lanterns and red decorations of every shape and size. On the busy Jingshun Road, people trailing overstuffed suitcases packed onto long-haul buses heading back to their hometowns or villages for holiday visits.

Chinese New Year is an especially momentous holiday for the millions of migrant workers from rural provinces who fill the country's booming cities. They often work in grueling conditions, living in unheated dorm rooms with no running water, while their entire families are left behind. The holiday marks their annual trip home, where they are expected to arrive bearing the fruit of their labor.

A couple of months ago, reporter Mei Fong profiled Wei Zhongwen5, a Beijing worker from the northeastern Jilin Province (which is close to Harbin). Several readers were moved to contribute money and I attended a ceremony at Beijing's Legal Aid society where Wei and 10 other workers gratefully received about 10,000 yuan (US$1,292). That night, 10 of the 11 were boarding a special migrant worker's train home, leaving at 2:30 am for an 18-hour ride that costs 60 yuan. They were particularly happy to have some extra cash to bring home.

Wei, their leader, spoke with an eloquence that surprised me. "Thank you from the bottom of our hearts," he began. "Though the money is not big it is very heartwarming for us that people pay attention to our lives. Having a voice in society is very important to us."

Those final words really moved me and prompted Rebecca and me to give some small gifts to some of the guards and other employees at our compound. Most of them are very young migrants and they stand duty all day and night in any and all weather. I thought it was important to acknowledge that we see them as people.

On the day of New Year's Eve, we put 10 yuan into 20 envelopes and the kids and I rode our bikes around and gave them out, along with oranges, which are said to represent good health and long life. Jacob enjoyed handing out the gifts and I reminded him to say "chun jie kuai le" ("happy Spring") each time. The guards seemed surprised, touched and a little nervous -- I don't think they're supposed to accept presents.

We then drove downtown to Ditan Park, where a temple fair was kicking off, as were thousands of similar ones all over China. Because tradition calls for families to gather on New Year's Eve for a large meal, most people were at home preparing. The roads were amazingly empty, the fair uncrowded in sharp contrast to the throngs who would flock there the rest of the week. We watched a traditional lion dance, which excited the kids initially but couldn't hold their attention. They were more interested in the previous performance, which featured young children dressed up as emperors and empresses, and most interested in the carnival games.

We blew a lot of yuan to win three stuffed animals, stopped in the peaceful temple to light some incense, then headed home. Friends joined us and we all enjoyed gorging on mounds of jaozi (dumplings), the traditional New Year's food we asked our ayi (housekeeper) to make the prior day before giving her the afternoon and following week off. Later, we all drove down a nearby country road to set off some fireworks. The pyrotechnics scared me but it was thrilling to be outside on an isolated lane, listening and watching as the horizon lit up and booms reverberated in the distance. I wondered just how much it could pick up at midnight and appreciated the no-fireworks rule within our compound, which made it an island of calm.

By the back gate, a crowd of onlookers watched two American men smoking cigars and lighting Roman candles in the middle of the road. Nearby, two young Chinese men lit huge chains of fireworks while their dates held their ears. An old man rode up on a flatbed tricycle and loaded the large cardboard boxes that littered the street. We hustled the kids home and off to bed, as more cars pulled up to participate and watch the action.

At midnight, Rebecca and I watched a truly awesome fireworks display that filled the sky in every direction. Remarkably, it made everything that had come before seem tiny. All fireworks exhibitions I have seen in the past were municipal events with definitive boundaries and established beginnings and ends. This was all the result of uncoordinated individual launchings, which continued on for hours.

In the morning, the acrid smell of gunpowder hung in the air as we drove over to the apartment of our Chinese friends, George and Jen, to welcome the Year of the Pig. George's parents were ensconced in the kitchen, cooking up endless mounds of jaozi, which they added to the piles of food on the dining-room table. A bucket of KFC chicken sat amidst the traditional Chinese fare.

On our way home, we tried a shortcut and ended up on a busy, clogged little lane. We were in the shadows of the Beijing airport, but could have been deep in the country. We stopped to buy sugar cane from a fruit hawker, who took out a machete and started peeling a seven-foot stalk and cutting it into 18-inch sections. A crowd gathered and I urged Jacob and Eli to pass some of the sugar cane out to other kids. They did so happily and I didn't have to remind them to say "chun jie kuai le."

Not much...

Well, it's been a rough few days. Becky in Taiwan, Jacob laid out with stomach flu and Eli staying home from school because of a fever. He should have gone in today, though. He was fine, and bored. Anyhow, Jacob is slowly getting better, I think, and Becky is coming home tonight, a day early. In the meantime, I am in some sort of weird time warp. I think I forget how to type.

These situations are tough. I couldn't figure out how to advise B about travel.. when he seemed better, it seemed foolish for her to come back.. then he took a turn for the worse and it seemed foolish for me to not tell her to come back. Finally, I hoped that Murphy's Law would kick in and the mere act of her getting on a plane would trigger a recovery so that by the time she got back it seemed unnecessary. Seemed like a good plan and it may actually be working. He ate a little dinner for the first time in three days.

In the meantime, Eli lost a top tooth which is totally adorable. I will get a picture of that and get it up ASAP.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Malaysia pictures -- Langkawi

This guy is actually feeding a giant stingray on a floating fish farm out in the mangroves.

We had three of these through the mangroves.

Becky and Theo

hermit crabs everywhere

Eli and his dawg Hugo

Wow. Looking at these pictures again makes me realize just how nice it was there. I worry about spoiling these kids.. not so much with material goods as all this fabulous travel. It may be time for a house-building jaunt or something.