Web-log entries from 2006



...Means Merry Christmas! In Pinyin it’s written Shengdan kuaile, pronouncing the es as short “uh” sounds. It’s fine weather for it: about 20C (70° F?)... more



Evidence that I am gradually becoming a different person: I have started to carry a murse. Or a man-purse, if you prefer.I’ve taken to hauling... more



Lately it seems foreigners are everywhere in Xiamen. We’ve only been here four (five?) months; how is it possible we missed all these foreigners already?Maybe... more


Weather Report

Cool and clear, mid-50s F, windy. Pollution levels are near zero, especially after the heavy rains last week. Altogether it feels very much like a... more



One of our British friends generated an algorithm for determining the time to complete any given task in China:“Imagine the longest possible time you think... more


“You’re the First Foreigner I Ever Met”

This past weekend, while walking Bismarck through Huweishan Park, I met my first Chinese who was meeting her first foreigner. Other expatriates had similar stories,... more


What’s to Like

Learning the language Discovering that the Chinese name for most James Bond movies uses the phrase “Brave Escape” The food, duh Take-no-prisoners kitchen appliances, like... more


Like Oregon, But Not

Hey Transplants to the Pacific Northwest! Remember your first winter in [Oregon | Washington | British Columbia | SE Alaska]? Remember how, after about 60... more



Was it only three weeks ago that Jenny twisted her ankle? Because today she went for her second run since the accident. My wife could... more


Black as Midnight on a Moonless Night

Jenny’s mom is visiting from Oregon for about 10 days...and while the highlight of her visit is the, y’sknow, visiting, part, we’re sorely glad for... more



Minutes out of the shower yesterday our house phone rang. Jenny and Bismarck were out for an early morning jog, and I was a little... more


Welcome Back

I’m given to understand culture shock comes in stages. I don’t know what those stages are and I’m kind of loathe to find out. But... more


Unexpectedly Homesick

Jenny was out of town this weekend for a swim meet in Beijing. (She coaches the XIS HS swim team, such as it is. And... more


Dust and Construction

Life is slow and frustrating in Xiamen lately. Warm and dusty. I’ve about had it with nothing working right, shoddy design, and everyone basically being... more



We’ve been back in Xiamen for a week now. This set me to thinking about my own peculiar notions of what constitutes “home.”First (and this... more


Don in Tha House

Jenny’s dad was in town for the weekend. He arrived about two hours after we got in from Singapore, so we just waited at the... more


Back in Xiamen

Jenny and I returned to Xiamen yesterday on remarkably uneventful flights. The meal they served (at 9am) was actually (gee I hate to say it)... more


Singapore Insomnia

So I was lying awake in Singapore, thinking about a post-to-be-created that ran something along the lines of “why the summer of 1988 was so... more


Malaysia Dispatch

We're back in Singapore after a couple of days in Malaysia, specifically Tioman Island. I have only the vaguest sense of where Tioman Island is... more


Sentosa Island, Original Sin, Night Safari

A lazy day yesterday but also, perhaps, the most touristy. I slept late and in the afternoon Vicky took me (and Nima) to Sentosa Island,... more


Black and White

We are staying in Singapore with Jenny’s friend Vicky (and her dog Nima), who grew up here, in a family typical for this environment: her... more


Singapore Dispatch

Singapore is the anti-Xiamen. Leaving China necessitated two forms, two passport reviews (and stamps) four lines, and more than an hour of waiting and paperwork.... more


Damn that last post was long

Wasn’t it?Today was just like that, except last night we were up all night crazy itching because of mosquitos. I foolishly left the windows open... more



I think I’m entering the phase of culture shock where daily life has become mundane. It is no longer surprising or fun to ride with... more


East-West (东西)

The Chinese name for House (the TV show with Hugh Laurie) is “Hooligan Doctor” (流氓医生, Liumang Yisheng). Alias is “Double-Faced Spy Woman” (双面女间谍, Shuangmian Nujiandie).A... more


Good and Bad

Good Bad Slightly sweet popcorn Slightly sweet beer Owners of small dogs Small dogs Old guys doing inexplicable Chinese exercises like walking backwards uphill while... more


Weather Report

The heat finally broke this weekend, but the humidity didn’t. Taiwan helpfully dispersed a typhoon, but Xiamen has been receiving a steady dose of light... more


Doggy Play Date

Yesterday we met with Megan, the former ESL teacher at XIS, and two of her friends at a beach south of the university. (We had... more


I Can’t Believe it’s Been a Month Since I’ve...

driven a car eaten a burrito bought a book listened to a radio ridden a bicycle drank a draft beer seen my family read a... more


Clothes Shopping

I’ve been clothes shopping lately, trying to fill my wardrobe with school-appropriate clothes. Before we left Portland I thought myself to be “about the size... more


Rain; School; Intestines

I'm delivering this post from a cybercafe, so apologies for the brevity. We've had two days of rain and the weather has cooled pretty substantially.... more


I’m Surprised by Many Aspects of Xiamen

The smell of XiamenI was completely unprepared for the novelty of odors in Xiamen. I knew it might smell "bad" or "strange" but couldn't have... more


Arrival: Xiamen

After about 25 hours of transit we are finally in Xiamen. Flights were all smooth, after a delayed departure from Portland. The delay actually worked... more


T-Minus 48h

48 hours until the plane departs...and we're having to cancel last-minute goodbye breakfasts with old friends because every hour is now accounted for. Problems have... more


Ditch Digging

In late 1998, I had a vision about energy. This was at my last archaeology job, in Southern California. I was "monitoring" a large construction... more


(Financial) Success, As Portrayed in Movies

The audience knows the female lead is a Successful Person because she works in a busy, brightly-lit office in the cool part of town. The... more



We are literally hip deep in the process of deleting all our stuff in preparation for the move to Xiamen. The office is hardest hit:... more


Thoughts on watching Drugstore Cowboy and its “Making-Of” featurette on DVD

Portland probably changed more in the 17 years between 1989 and 2006 than in the 18 years between 1971 and 1989. You couldn't film a... more


The Meditative Properties of Commuting

I rode the bus in today early. I get a lot of thinking done on the bus, but it's languid, unfocused thinking. Conscious dreaming, but... more


Anchor Babies

So the Washington State Republican Party declared its hostility to the 14th Amendment. They have gripes with the part that reads "All persons born or... more


Story Problems

“Basically I took the client's email with all the requirements and turned it into a workflow diagram. It was like doing a story problem. That's... more



About twenty years ago, my family took a vacation to the Pacific Northwest. This was the first time I had ever seen the ocean (age... more



...or rather, free ice cream. Today was "free ice cream" day at Ben and Jerry's, apparently a phenom of some sort. [sidebar: the local Ben... more


Born in the Twilight

Today's Salon features an interview with William Easterly, who criticizes U.S. foreign aid as stuck in a top-down model that hasn't worked since the 1960s.... more


Wires and Code

I love when a site unexpectedly shows me a little bit of code. I found this one on wired.com, of all places, in an article... more



In 1934, a swim coach at the University of Iowa speculated that breaststroke swimmers could gain a significant time advantage by bringing their arms and... more


Reading about bicycles is like...

...swimming about thirst...thinking about dreaming...baking about penguins...dancing about airplanes...sitting about jumping  more


Barbers ≠ Surgeons

Once upon a time, barbers were surgeons. This offends modern sensibilities but there’s a logic at work here: after all, they use approximately the same... more


The Better Airline Ticketing System™

Why can’t we book airline flights the same way we route TCP/IP packets? An airplane ticket is kind of like a guarantee. You tell the... more