Thursday, January 31, 2008

Handball Tournament

There are these great tournaments once a month or so called ISAC -- International School Athletic competitions. They have them in virtually every sport and for every age. This year Jacob has competed in cross country, soccer and handball, which was last Saturday at the Canadian School. He loves representing Dulwich and there is a core of boys who seem to be on every team.

Handball is an awesome game. Apparently, it is is very popular in Germany and Scandinavia. It is an Olympics sport. I'm not sure why it hasn't caught on in America. It is really fast moving and fun to watch and, apparently, play. It combines some of the best elements of soccer, basketball and dodgeball. The ball looks like a mini soccer ball. You advance by dribbling (very difficult) or passing; you can only take one step. As in basketball, ball movement, crisp passing and aggressive D are rewarded.

They stormed through the tournament undefeated, crushing the German School, who beat them last year. That was a grudge match. They stormed to the Finals, where they lost to Western Academy of Beijing, which is just down the road. we knew most or all of the kids on that team. It was basically the elite travel soccer team from our weekend league.

Afterwards, they have a big awards presentation and the kids thrilled to get a huge trophy -- second out of 10 or 12 schools is not bad, and they knew it. Best for Jacob, he and his boys Lucas and Max (pictured here) were the stars. Jacob played goalie mostly and the other two scored all the goals.

I am going to start a campaign to introduce handball to American schools. It's a great sport and you don't need a lot of equipment (a ball and two goals and some tape to mark off a field on bball court). Get ready to sign a petition.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Thanks to those of you expressed concern about us and the snow, BUT...

We have no snow! It's all to the south and west. A huge belt of China but not up here, where we usually get far more snow than the places that are being inundated. Not a drop here. But people's travel plans are all screwed up and huge swaths of people are stranded, even here, because trains and planes aren't running to there.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Beijing hillbillies

Did you hear the one about the two Southern guys who met and became friends in Beijing? One’s from Kentucky, the other is a native Tar Heel. One night they start arguing about who’s more redneck. It’s a little fuzzy now whether they were trying to out redneck or underredneck one another. Doesn’t really matter, but you have to assume they were going for the gusto.

One thing leads to another, they call each other the Beijing Hillbillies and the next thing you know one of them is turning 50 (hard to believe if you ever saw him play the rather unredneck sport of hockey) and the other is out searching for the ugliest, rattiest couch he can find in Beijing. You know, the kind of thing that a Kentucky hillbilly like his friend would have out on his front porch and the whole family would hang out on, night and day, winter, spring, summer and fall.

He finds it up the road, pays a good 13 bucks for it and then doubles it to get some poor Chinese guy to throw the thing on a back of a big tricycle and peddle it on down to hillbilly hollow. Then he proudly delivers it to his buddy and says something like, “happy birthday redneck.”

There’s a party and at about one am these two rednecks and a few of their foolish friends end up sitting on that dang thing right in the middle of the road, having a sip or two of Jose Cuervo. The famed Riviera security team pulls up in their little golf cart, but they’re mostly just confused.

Who can blame them?

Monday, January 28, 2008


There's a nice article here about the organization I did the writing workshops before. Check out the handsome guy teaching the ladies. m I becoming a media whore?

Dixie in his element

Just found this video that I never dealt with from last summer. This is Dixie Doc leading us on a nature hike to the rocks behind Maple Mountain in an absolute downpour. The virgin oak forest there is so thick we were only getting a bit wet at this point, but listen to the sound. It was pouring.

It's reassuring that some things never change, starting with that coat, which he may had on when he taught me to ski in 1971.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hulk Hogan Paul

Nephew Jesse Paul continues his rampage through the 103-pounders of Delaware. He recently won a big tournament, which I think is the source of this footage.

Honestly, I find this whole wrestling thing bizarre and somewhat disturbing on any number of levels. But I'm also proud of Jesse and fellow nephew Josh, who is also apparently doing well in the sport. That one i particularly hard to believe, because Josh has always been one of the sweetest boys round. How he goes out and grapples is beyond me, but more power to him.

Note on this footage that you can hear my brother David cheering his son on. He is quite restrained, at least here. I think it would be hard not to yell stuff like, "Kick his ass" or go wild when Jesse pulls a Hulk Hogan and slams the other kid as he does here. I wonder how many fights there are between fathers at these things.

Anyhow, Jesse is apparently coming here for an extended visit this summer. We have cooked up the excuse that he is going to be a soccer camp counselor but in fact The People's Liberation Army is hiring him to train their top gun assassins. Stay tuned for more info.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Anna day

Big day in Annaland yesterday. she had DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) day at school, otherwise known as pajama day. she was counting down the days all week and was jumping up and down. he has such a very, very sweet relationship with her teacher Holly. also pictured is Anna with her good friend "big Michael." I feel sort of bad for "Little Michael."

Then she had her second ballet class. After a two-year break, she hasn't lost a thing.

Friday, January 25, 2008

New column and NPR story

The NPR story is up here. It is surprisingly long and only a couple of moment made me crying, including the little intro on the blog that says we travel first class all the time. That's not true. Everything else seems on point. After all these years of listening to NPR, this is pretty astounding to me I have to say.

New column is up here.This one has generated more negetive email than most, by far. People writing in and saying we are selfish, we are destroying our kids, etc. It's a little disconcerting -- a word I unfortunately used about four times in that interview -- but I don't take it too much to heart.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Chair skating

One of the truly unique things to do in China in the winter is to go ice chairing, or biking. We went with a large group of friends last year, down to Houhai Lake in central Beijing. Sunday we decided to go again with our friends the Lattas (close readers will remember them from a column I wrote last September – they were the family with four kids who adopted the Chinese baby they were fostering).

Saturday night at a party I spoke to a Beijing native friend and she suggested we go to Beihai park instead, saying it was much more beautiful and peaceful. Beihai is right next to the Forbidden City and it is a really uniquely peaceful place, which Becky and I visited on our fitrt trip here and to which we have never returned.

Houhai is a big lake not far from there, which is now surrounded by restaurants and bats. We had a great time there last year but it is really nutty so the Beihai option sounded good – and it was.

Really, truly fun and the people there were much calmer and more civilized. When I mentioned this to my Chinese teacher on Tuesday she said, “Of course. You have to pay to enter Beihai.” And she was right.

It was more families and calm young couples and no wild young men. They also did not have ice skating and kept the ice chairs (pictured) and the ice bicycles on separate patches. Houhai is a free for all , and the ice chairs there include actual old rickety chairs with little sleds on t e bottom.

Even at the safer Beihai Becky said to me after a while, “I think I know why they don’t do this in the U.S.” It’s pretty wacky, sliding around with these big ice picks used to propel you. We were actually the wild ones Sunday, especially after we ran into the Loevingers (Dave is our sax player) and we all started having races. When it got boring, we raced through the middle of the ice.

Lots of fun.

Afterwards, the kids all had bing tong hoolus, candied crabapples on a pointy stick. Then they just got silly and I snapped away.

I was fun to do something fun in the cold because it has been damn frigid almost every day since we got back and the 730 am bus is just brutal in the morning.

These pictures are the first from my new camera, a Canon G9 strongly recommended by George Lange.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Photos are still coming....

Still catching up on pictures from the U.S. trip, now working backwards. Here's Anna with Aunt Carrie at the Newark Airport. They spent most of that last week together, while B was in meetings etc in NYC. enjoyed by all. Beck had a hard time moving all the luggage and Anna out in Beijing, where the usually bountiful redcaps were nowhere to be seen. So Anna just took a luggage cart and came walking out. I took the boys to the airport for the pickup and they were very excited. Jacob: "I call first Anna hug." It was sweet.

They've been back for a week now and everyone is just about back to normal. Beck was welcome back by a sinus infection, but she's on top of it and feeling better. We went chair skating in Beihai park near the Forbidden City today and it was great fun. we were with friends and ran into Dave, my sax player, and his family. I will post some pics tomorrow.

Also had out first 2008 Woodie Alan gig on Friday and it went really well. Played the Orchard to a good crowd, and with a bunch of friends sitting in, including a friend of Dave's on organ -- first keyboards with Woodie Alan. It shocks me really to hear us sound as good as do. It has exceeded my expectations already several times over. Didn't really get any useful video though.

I know that Carrie is going to want to buy some of these pictures. And many others have asked me about getting some images. Anything that is posted here goes up to Picasa (because Google owns both, as part of their global domination). Click on the link below to go straight to the pages.

The previous years' worth of photo is available at the lower link. If you care about the photos, go to the page, then bookmark it. (Or ask me for another link.)


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pictures -- Colorado

About 12,500 feet up. It feels like the top of the world.

I think this was after Dixie had already torn his right
rotator cuff falling while following me down KT
Gully, a double black diamond. Am I to blame?

Eli enjoyed his time with Helene.

"Jacob from China" took gold.

Only Dixie was more in love with Anna's teacher than Anna herself.
He ran into this photo quicker than Homer Simpson moving to
a free doughnuts buffet.

More Maplewood Photos

New year's Eve. Jon K can cook. Great meal.

Benson/Whitmire kid version

Benson/whitmire adults

Catching up pictures: Maplewood

My brother and I bought nephew Josh a belated
bar mitzvah present --a sweet guitar. Rule one:
would one of want it if he quits playing?

Paul cousins in south Mtn. Reservation

Jacob and best friend Gabriel. The famous first toothache
started right around now.

Anna really enjoyed having a gaggle of kids younger than
her around, a new development. She is so used to being
the little one. It was fun for her to be followed around
and worshiped by the kids of cousins Amy and Kenneth
and Danny (sadly absent) and Alisa and friends Rodger and Andee. Ripper!

Tombee, me, Ripper.

A classic of Eli in some sort of disguise (cousin Ben was similarly dressed)
and Joshua. Eli also enjoys having little ones round.
I love mom sniffing the diaper. Uh, the glamor of parenthood.
What to Really Expect When You're Expecting.

Aqui, aqui.

Sis in law Kathy and nephew Jesse, who is hopefully
China bound.