Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Round 2!

Here we go again! Della is having her tonsils and adenoids removed on Tuesday, December 4th. I am dreading it and am excited for it all at the same time. Is that possible? It will be hard for about 2 weeks, but then we should start seeing improvements. If you scroll down to the x-ray you can see how swollen and enlarged her tonsils and adenoids are and just how small her air way is. Della snores, wakes up several times a night from sleep apnea, gags on food with any kind of texture, and is constantly congested. I will be glad to see her rid of those things. I am a little nervous about the whole Christmas shopping thing. I guess I will do it all online! Anyway, please remember her in your prayers on Tuesday. The rest of the pictures are just for fun.
The white mass is her inflamed adenoids.

That is her airway, it should extend to her adenoids. The Dr. said her airway is the width of a linguine noodle.

Wearing Papa's glasses.

Archer doing his "new boot dance." Best $10 I ever spent. This morning we were all teasing each other over breakfast and Archer said "Daddy wears a dress and beads!" Hilarious in the world of a 3 (almost 4) year-old.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Day-Trip Reviews

We have gone on a few day-trips lately and I thought I would post my opinion of what I thought of them. We visited the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana and Archer was much too young. I would wait until he was at least 6 or 7 years old before we tried going again.

Inside the cube.

In front of a real space shuttle.

While Chad was gone we went to The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. We had so much fun and it was really kid friendly. I would even venture to say that kids as young as 18 months to 2 years-old would be fascinated by being so up close and personal with marine life. I made the mistake of telling Archer that there was a sting ray petting zoo. He would look at nothing else until he got to pet a sting ray, and that is exactly what we did. After getting up close and personal with rays and sharks, we were then able to see an 8 foot octopus (no pun intended), giant crabs, jellyfish, sea horses, etc. Archer also claimed to have seen Nemo and Dori! This visit was well worth the money and if you buy your tickets online you get $2 off each ticket.

The sting rays' stingers were clipped and were safe to touch.

Practicing the 2-finger touch.

Got one!

Yes, he is wearing two different shoes and no, it was not an accident. I have learned to pick my battles.

Petting sea cucumbers, sea slugs, star fish, and anemones.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

China Trip

Last week I took another trip to China for work. I visited 8 Cities in 7 Days racking up 58 hours on planes, buses, and cars. It kind of sucked a little bit.

After landing in Guangzhou, Percy (my friend in China) picked me up from the airport and we headed to the hotel. The weather was nice. We ate traditional Canton noodles at my favorite noodle house and spent the remainder of the day recovering from the flight.

I spent some time with Percy at his factory. We went over some minor changes and discussed new products. In the afternoon, I headed back over to the airport to catch a flight to Wenzhou.
On the flight, I sat next to two young boys who were pretty excited to be sitting next to me. They spoke only a few words of English. Luckily, there was a young girl behind us who's English was good enough to get through some minor conversations. On the plane, we played games that didn't take too much explanation like tic-tac-toe, the game with the grid of dots and each player takes turns hoping to form a square, and another game they knew. We didn't have much paper so we were using the barf bags to draw on. With the help of the girl behind us interpreting, I learned that the boys were on their way back from Shenzen. They were Latin Dancers and they had participated in a competition there. They told me that they didn't win because their partners messed up.
I landed in Wenzhou and was picked up by my factory. They drove me to their city (which I don't recall the name of right now) which was an hour north of Wenzhou.
From my hotel, there was a lot of activity in the streets below. Younger guys were driving up and down the streets on Honda scooters with blasting music as the girls stood on the sidewalk. And, every hour on the hour, the sky would fill with fireworks. This went on until 1am.

Starting at 6am, I heard singing with an occasional noise that sounded like a sort of muffled popping. I went over to the window and saw a bunch of women dancing in the square below. As they danced, they would quickly open and close large hand fans. I could see across the square, the men were doing slow-mo karate with lots of jumps and turns.
At 7am, the fire works started up again. They were still popping off when I left the hotel at 9am.
In the car, I asked my friend why the fireworks were going off. He told me that either there's a marriage or a funeral. Or both.
There, I visited two factories. I took this picture while walking to the second factory.

After the factories, I went to a restaurant for lunch. I personally don't like going to restaurants in China. It's tough because, the factories are stoked you're there and they want to show you a good time. The problem is, in the restaurants, they want to get expensive food. Which translates to exotic. The protocol is always the same. You walk into a room full of live animals and uncooked food. You then pick out what you want to eat. At this restaurant, snake was on the menu that day.
No, I didn't eat it.
That afternoon, I caught a 3 hour bus ride to Ningbo. No bathroom on the bus.

I knew that in the afternoon, I had a 6 hour bus ride with no bathroom. And after doing a practice 3 hour bus ride the day before, I thought it best not to eat too much and not to drink anything before getting on the bus. Unfortunately my Ningbo factory treated me to one of the best meals I've had in China. It was small and simple, prepared by some local women.
Afterwards, having used the bathroom 3 times within the space of 10 minuets, I boarded the bus for Nantong.
The trip wasn't too bad. On the way, I had another chance to see some of the beautiful China countryside.
I got in the shower at my hotel and read this sign: I thought it an excellent example of a typical English sign in China. Nantong is a beautiful city. I'm sorry that I didn't think to take any pictures. I was larger then I expected with rivers running all through the city. With each river, there were these ornate bridges with carved stone fences. There were also large fountains in the rivers with beautiful lights coming out of the water. It made me think of pictures I'd seen of St.Petersburg or some other beautiful Russian city.
I spent the morning at the glove factory. This was my first visit to this factory.
In the afternoon, the factory offered to drive me 3 hours back to Shanghai. On the way, we had to cross a river. The crossing took about 30 min.From Shanghai, I caught a plane to Zhengzhou. The flight was nice but what I didn't know until we went to land was, there was a huge storm in Zhengzhou. As we came through the clouds, the plane started swaying back and forth. The plane was rocking so badly that I thought the wingtip would hit the runway before the wheels had a chance to touch down.

Zhengzhou was freezing. Of course, I didn't have a coat. The factory drove straight to a second hand store and bought me a Chinese Army coat. It was really warm.

When in Zhengzhou, I always stay in the Presidential Suite. Why not at $30 a night. I had a little more time the usual so that factory didn't want to pick me up until 9am. That morning, I started to get bored waiting so I decided to do a series of photos of me in the hotel room.

At the factory, every one had a good laugh at the irony that I was wearing a Chinese Army coat and the factory's engineer, Dr. Mamoun was wearing an American Army coat. That's just what he wore that day I guess.
That afternoon, a car came and picked me up to take me out to Changyuan County. I wasn't feeling very well - plumbing wise. If you haven't had the opportunity to use a toilet like this one, you're really missing out. In my case, I am not accustomed to squatting for long periods of time. So, when ever I have an extended visit to the restroom, it's necessary for me to remove all clothing from the waist down because I have to squat, feel the burn, stand. Squat, feel the burn, stand, etc. Another interesting note, in China there usually isn't any toilet paper. Everyone there carries those little blocks of travel tissues. Pray you don't run out.

During the trip, we came across the Yellow River. The bridge was new and beautiful. You'll notice from the picture that there are no cars on the road. I've noticed that about China. Unless you're in the city, there are very few cars on the road. However, everywhere in China, they're busy building these massive highways. Very similar to the United States. In fact, having come from a back ground of road construction, it's interesting to me that the roads are built exactly the same using the exact same machinery. It's a very familiar sight in a very non-familiar place.

In Changyuan County, we were traveling at night and we came across this beautiful section of road. the street lights were like illuminated flowers. They were beautiful. I was told that this particular section of the city is where the government buildings are located.
Saturday I had no factories to visit. I was finished although I was still very far from home. I had a little bit of time before my car came so I decided to take a walk around the city.

You know that you're deep in China when no one at the hotel speaks English, the people nearly crash their bikes, scooters, cars, etc. because they're staring so hard, and no bank in the city can exchange RMB to U.S. Dollars because they don't have any. Once the car came, I began my trip home which was;
3 Hours by car, 4 Hour wait, 2 Hours by Plane, 2 Hours Wait, 13 Hours by Second Plane.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans' Day

The past few years I have attended the Fullerton Veterans' Day Parade. The city council, ROTC units, the Fullerton High School marching band, police, firemen, and of course veterans walk down Chapman Ave. about a quarter mile to the Hillcrest Park War Memorial. A service is held there every year and some elite member of the armed forces comes and speaks. Then, as a lone trumpeter plays "Taps", a wreath of flowers is laid at the base of a monument bearing the names of Fullerton residents who have lost their lives while in the service of their country. There are names from every major war from the 19th and 20th century. Today I took both of my (sick) children to watch the procession. I can't describe how overwhelmingly emotional I get as I see the elderly gentlemen proudly wearing hats commemorating their service. The men and women in the parade vary in every way imaginable. Some were white-haired and could hardly shuffle down the street, some were unshaven with long gray hair, and some were young in new uniforms. It was easy to distinguish who fought in which war. Those who wanted to participate in the parade but were unable to do so because of age or injury rode in army Humvee's. Halfway through the precession two P-51 Mustangs flew over the route leaving trails of white smoke.

There were many veterans that lined the street in wheelchairs and the soldiers marching in the parade would stop and salute them and then shake their hand. We sat next to one such gentleman. He was a WWII veteran who sat in a wheelchair that was being pushed by his daughter. As he saluted those marching by, tears poured down his face and by the end he was openly weeping as his daughter hugged him around his shoulders. After watching a few hours of the PBS documentary called The War I could not help but think of the the atrocities that he witnessed and the friends that he lost.

I am so thankful for our country and our Constitution. I believe that freedom is a gift from God, not a privilege granted by a government. I hope that one day all people will be able to enjoy the freedoms that I often take for granted.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pumpkins (A Little Late)

We invited Anne over to carve pumpkins with us and this is what happened...

Archer wearing what he calls his "serious face."

Finished pumpkins from left to right; Caitlin, Anne, Archer, and Chad.

Archer's "Monster Pumpkin."

Chad's heavy browed mustached jack o' lantern.

Anne's 4-eyed creation.

I took this in the midst of Archer singing "Trick or treat, smell my feet!"