Friday, June 27, 2008

Bye-Bye Shoes

Thirteen Hours of Car Riding today, all to see a plant so bad I am literally throwing away my shoes tonight. I will include one interesting picture from today... So excited to come home tomorrow. I'll try and post a summary blog with pictures from the last couple of days tomorrow, or maybe when I get home.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

More from home

Okay, it looks like Pete must be doing some actual work on his trip now since we haven't heard from him in awhile! So, here's a glimpse of what we've been up to back home.

Parks, parks, and more parks (ah, summer!)

Simple pleasures

Brie has the coolest sprinkler ball thing

I think this might have been Daphne's first completely solo ice cream cone. I can't figure out if that makes me a good or a bad parent. :)

James' buddy, Granddad

"Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic"

Borrowed dog (the best kind?)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Just a quick post tonight as I only have a few minutes - we went and saw a chemical plant 40km outside shanghai today. It took us 3.5 hours to get there and FOUR AND A HALF HOURS to get back. That's an average speed of just over 5mph. Needless to say, traffic here is not so good. At one point everyone just spontaneously started leaning on their horns, I'd say about 50 to 70 cars all honking at the same time. Pretty interesting. Off to dinner!


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pictures this time...

I promise, no quasi-political rambling today. On to the pictures!

Today we did prep work for the show and our plant tours all morning, then headed out to see a Buddhist temple, and the old section of town which is now kind of a tourist trinket free-for-all.

The Temple was really, really interesting. It was actually a functioning place of worship, even with touristas (including me) snapping photos and the like. As long as they were making money, it didn't seem to bother them. I am beginning to understand that the vague sense we have as Christians that money is something dangerous, and not to be trusted is totally absent here. Remember, the "D.L." (Buddhist leader from a highly contested section of China that I don't dare mention when writing from here) is also a sharp and wealthy business man as well as a religious leader, and that's totally OK with them, not seen as a conflict of interest at all. Wow, sorry! I got off on another quasi-political rant and then mixed in religion. Bad form.

Exterior of the temple:

Me with lesser gods. These things were gigantic, gold plated, and very impressive. This temple was called "The temple of the Jade Buddha." I wasn't allowed to take a picture of the Jade Buddha, but suffice it to say it was very large and made out of jade. Very expensive.

This little Buddhist deity (even though Buddhists aren't really much for theism... I had to sort that one out on Wikipedia afterwards) reminded me of Daphne.

They had all kinds of antiques and religious items for sale at the temple, but one of the coolest things was not for sale - this mahogany wood carving took an artisan three years (about 300 years ago as I recall... not sure about that) to complete. It depicts the Buddha and a whole bunch of other characters, presumably deities of some kind or other.

After this we went to the old section of town and looked at trinkets. This was a cool looking section of town, with restored original Chinese buildings.

The obligatory street food shot - my cup of braised bean curd patties with soy and chile sauce on top... Delicious and only about $1.20! Allen was not impressed with my culinary discretion.

We had dinner on the top floor of our hotel. It had a glass ceiling (literal, not figurative!), and a cool building towered over us. Quite a flattering shot of me, I have to say.

Miss and Love you all!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


When we flew into Hong Kong, I was treated to a panoramic overhead view of the city. I got a real sense of the place, even before we hit the ground, and everything else about the city was framed in that context. Today we flew into Shanghai, and I was hoping for a similar experience - unfortunately visibility here is about 4 blocks due to the perma-smog that has developed here over the past few years. As we walked around the city my, eyes began to sting, and I wondered how the citizens could stand it. Then I suddenly understood - (warning, non-PC statement ahead) It beats the heck out of being poor.

These guys are firing up a coal power plant on the average of something like every five minutes. In the next couple years they will pass the US in total carbon emissions, and right now the yearly increase in carbon dioxide emissions from China is more than the yearly total output from the UK! If I seem a little more knowledgeable than usual, it's because I just finished a wonderful little book by Nigel Lawson (
Regarding this and other climate change issues. I don't have a lot of certainty about whether the Earth is heating up due to carbon dioxide emissions or other human activities (living with uncertainty, for better or worse seems to be one of my strong suits...), but Nigel expressed a couple of ideas I agree with but never hear mentioned:

1. We humans are pretty darned good at adapting to new circumstances, particularly slow environmental ones. Most of our energy ought to be aimed at how we adapt and thrive in response to any global climate changes. If the world warms up, some places (cold ones) will prosper, and some (hot/coastal ones probably!) will suffer, but on the whole it may not even be a net loss.
2. If Carbon Dioxide emissions really are the key, we're already screwed, because no matter how many Prius' we drive around, China and other developing economies make small reductions in the Western world irrelevant. What's more, even if we could convince them to drastically cut their CO2 emissions, we would be essentially condemning a huge percentage of the world's population that would otherwise prosper to continued abject poverty, and the accompanying misery, disease, etc. It's a pretty dicey ethical argument.

Anyway, check out the book, it is the first relatively sane and pragmatic writing I've read on this topic for a while. (Fran, it's by a British guy!)

So is the pollution worth it? It seems hard to say no, given the alternatives. Anyhow, sorry you had to sift through that. On to some pictures!

We rode the world's only magnetically levitated (mag-lev) train in from the airport, top speed 430km/hr (267mi/hr). Yowsers. Allen said it's a 30 min cab ride in from the airport, which we covered in about 7 minutes.

One refreshing policy in China - no trumpet players allowed.

In Culinary News (seems to be a popular subject)
Allen ordered some raw meat on an extremely hot block of stone - kind of like the opposite of cold stone creamery. You just turn it until you like the look of it, and away you go! I had the vegetarian version which was basically a mushroom the size of a football. Good times! The entrees were about $13-17, but compared to wages here, that is quite a ritzy meal.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hong Kong - the pictures

Hey everyone - Thanks for the comments! Here's some pictures of Hong Kong. We're leaving for Shanghai this morning, and I don't really have any reason to think I'll ever be in Hong Kong again, certainly not for business. It's really a unique place, and is notable in that it has the densest population in the world. There's over 7 million people here, and everyone lives in high-rise apartments that are just jammed together one after the other. Anyway, here's some pictures:

This is a good shot of what the apartement buildings are like - the entire city is like this. It's hard to describe how dense the population is here, but it is still safe and friendly. Got to love the former British Empire!

Allen admiring a bronze of Bruce Lee on the "walk of stars" (the waterfront in the Kowloon District looks out at down town Hong Kong). Jakie Chan lives here too, though I didn't see him taking any pratfalls or running up walls, etc. (or using either of his two facial expressions!)

Skyline by Day:

Skyline by Night:

I tried to have the "Hong-Kong-iest" breakfast I could yesterday. The result: Fried noodles and chille sauce, scrambled eggs, grilled tomatoes, hashbrowns and toast. This was one of the best hotel breakfasts I have ever had, and this plate turned out to be only round one... (needless to say I didn't have much lunch yesterday)

Ok, that's enough for now, see you in Shanghai!


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pics Pics Pics

I have not been particularly good about posting pictures. OK, well, I haven't actually posted a single one yet. So here we go... Here are some pics from my time in Singapore. I'll post some Hong Kong pics a little later.

Allen at a Mosque on "Arab Street" in Singapore

Me eating a bean-paste waffle from a street vendor in Singapore

A heart shaped design as the Singapore air force practices for an air show

Singapore skyline at sunset (they built a bigger version of the "London Eye")

Toast and Kona-Oh coffee from the "Toast Box" restaurant at the Singapore airport on our way out of town - Allen and I got a big kick out of that idea for a restaurant. Toast.

Night Night

Got up at 2AM local time. Now it's 8:30 local time. Must.... Sleep....

More later.


PS: Hong Kong is pretty at night. I'll try and get some pictures up tomorrow.
PSS: Someone please make a comment on my blog! I feel lonely!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

June 19, 2008: 05:41

Had the distinct pleasure of waking up at 3AM to catch a 6:40 flight this morning to Hong Kong. I thought while I was killing time at the airport, I’d summarize my thoughts on Singapore.

Singapore is really a wonderful place; tropical, prosperous, cosmopolitan, clean and orderly, safe. Everyone is friendly, and English is the language of choice, it’s almost a perfect place to do business, unless you are trying to buy a car or consumer goods (I looked up some car prices in the classifieds yesterday. An ’06 Camry was listed at 66k, an ’07 Mercedes at 89k, and even a ’92 Corolla was just under 10k….. wow). Almost a little too perfect actually…

Singapore is kind of like one of those science fiction movies where the protagonist (in this case, me) travels to another planet, or into the future, and when he arrives he finds a utopian society. Unfortunately for our protagonist, there is always a seamy underbelly of the “utopia” that ends up pulling him into an action packed adventure fraught with peril and romance. Thankfully I haven’t had any peril or romance during my stay here, but I can’t shake the feeling that this place has to have a seamy underbelly of some kind all the same. I suspect the gigantic jail complex that I mentioned earlier might have something to do with that. Also, the customs notice that “drug smuggling is punishable by death” on the back of the customs form is another subtle clue as to the nature of the ruling persons here.

See you in Hong Kong, my flight is boarding!



These days without Pete are just dragging by, but we're hanging in there (thank you, everyone who's helping me out!). On Sunday, I took the kids and my parents to the annual Tigard Balloon Festival a couple blocks from our house at Cook Park. You can only see the hot air balloons very early in the morning and late at night, so we missed out on that, but Daphne had a grand ol' time at the "Safety Safari" and the carnival (her first). Above, Daphne's inside a trailer set up for a fire safety demo. She walked in an said "I found a new home!" Here are a few more shots from the day:

The ultimate "time out." (She closed both doors)

Daphne donning one of many freebees

James chewing said freebee

By far, Daphne's favorite ride (decidedly NOT a freebee)

Note the name of this teddy bear -- so James made a cameo on this one in spirit! I didn't even notice until looking back at the photo.

Getting in Shape

June 18, 2008 - Day 5

I got ambitious this morning waking up early to hit the hotel gym for a little treadmilling. As I cruised through my warmup mile, I was amazed at how easy it felt, and at how little energey I was expending. I ramped up the speed for my next couple of miles, and before I knew it, I was reeling off consecutive miles at a pace that I hadn't achieved in quite some time. I was at a loss to explain my newfound athleticism. Extra rest? I have been stretching out a little more regularly, could that have been it? Then suddenly, I realized how I had achieved such speed and endurance....

The treadmill was set for kilometers, not miles.

Also, we did our first bit of actual work today, attending a meeting that we were expecting to be short and painful, but turned out to be short and very productive. Allen likes to say that it only takes "one thing" to make the trip a success, and this meeting probably could be considered in the "one thing" category.

We then went out to lunch on "Arab Street," a shopping area near a mosque (about a quarter of the population are Malaysian Muslims). It took us about 15 or 20 minutes to get there by cab, but that didn't stop us from taking a mini death-march back to the hotel in the rain after we were done. Allen and I usually take one death march per city. :)


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Singapore Tourist for a Day

Don’t feel sorry for me today… Here’s a rundown of my not-so-tough day.

1. Woke up at 9AM feeling great after 4 hours of sleep – really!
2. Went on a walk with Allen, proceeded to sweat through shirt almost instantly as it was about 85 with 95% humidity. Learned that a bike purchased on the main strip here runs you about 4000 singapore dollars (1.36 singapore dollars per US dollar, so that’s pretty insane!)
3. Took a swim back at the hotel and sat by the pool for a while… not hard labor.
4. Tour of Eastern Singapore (Allen was the second youngest person on the tour). Learned all kinds of interesting things about Singapore’s history pre and post WWII. Turns out the Japanese weren’t too kind to the POWs here. Also, red-bean paste waffles are pretty delicious.
5. Night time harbor tour/dinner cruise.

Two related take-home facts about Singapore, other than that it seems to be the hub of commerce between Asia and the western world:

1. It’s very clean and orderly, with no beggars or street people litter or graffiti.
2. There is a gigantic jail here, much larger than you would expect in a city this size.

We finally settled down to do some work this evening prepping for our meeting tomorrow. Not expecting tomorrow to be as pleasant as today was, but then again, I’m not technically on vacation either! I’ll try and post some pictures in this blog when I get a little more time. I also realized that I didn’t post the before and after travel pictures in the previous entry. Whoops.


Monday, June 16, 2008

update from Singapore and the US open

Day Three & Four

Well, we arrived in Singapore tonight at about 11:30PM local time (8:30 AM pacific) concluding a 24 hour journey from San Diego. It’s so weird flying this direction and losing a day. I didn’t get a Monday, and I’m not happy about it, though I suppose that trading a Monday for two Saturdays on the way back is a good deal overall. I’m pleased to say that after a day of traveling I still feel good, great even.

Singapore is very modern and appears very wealthy, if the modern airport, spectacular downtown skyline, and ritzy hotel are any indication. It is all very western/European feeling so far. Every one we have met speaks English, though I’ve been having way too much fun saying “xiea-xiea” (“thank you” in mandarin).

Thankfully, I’m starting to get sleepy, so it’s a shower and off to bed for me.

Pete (00:54, June 17 2008)

P.S. Family – I miss you!

03:45, (still June 17 2008) local time – Couldn’t sleep, so a few hours ago I flipped on the TV and unexpectedly found live feed of US Open Playoff, with a replay of the NBA finals on another channel! I thought I’d missed both of these! God bless satellite TV.

03:52 – Waiting for Tiger to hit his approach on 18 down one stroke to Rocco Mediate. Too bad it’s four in the morning or all of Singapore would probably be watching.

04:00 – If I was at home it would be 1PM on Monday, and I’d probably be getting sleepy. No such luck here so far. Tiger and Rocco are both on the green, Tiger with an eagle putt and Rocco with a makeable birdie.

04:02 – Rocco has a putt to become the oldest first time Major winner in history……. Nope. Now Tiger has a putt to put the playoff into extra holes (Double overtime? Sudden death?) This is the most continuous sports I’ve watched since Daphne was born.

04:06 – Tiger nails it. What a wonderful Father’s day present it was for my Dad and me to go to the tournament. Rocco has a four footer for extra holes… it’s in! Here we go, now to sudden death. Computer is running out of batteries….. and I don’t have whatever kind of adapter I need.

04:20 – Rocco is just falling apart on the first sudden death hole. You basically only get one chance against Tiger before he, as my Dad said, “Steps on your neck.” “Critical Battery” says my computer. It’s 50 cents per minute to use the internet, but I think I better try and post this before I retire for the “night.”

04:28 – That’s it! Tiger wins his 14th Major, mostly thanks to my encouragement on Saturday. Good night everyone! Attempt to sleep #2 is now officially underway.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tiger! (neeeeed to go potty!)

Trip Report: Day Two

I went to the US open of Golf today in San Diego with my cousin Steve, my Dad, and Randy B. I made only two goals for myself for the day:

1. Don't get dehydrated, even though water will be ridiculously expensive.
2. Watch Tiger Woods hit a golf ball.

Never did I anticipate that these two goals would come so directly into conflict.

My plan started well, as I purchased a water bottle early on and we watched the early starters (in golf, the leaders tee off last, the second place guys, second to last, etc.). As the day went on we eventually settled into the first row of the grandstands on hole 10. Tiger was still a few hours away, but it was a great location, so we decided to hunker down and wait for the greatest golfer ever to walk the planet to come to us, rather than chase him around.

In a related story, I was on my third bottle of water.

As Tiger neared, my discomfort slowly started to ratchet up, much to the delight of my cousin, who was only slightly sympathetic. Unfortunately, the longer I waited to leave my seat in the grandstands to find a "men's room", the more difficult it would be to get my prime seat back... After careful thought, I decided that one way or another, I WAS NOT LEAVING MY SEAT UNTIL TIGER HAD PASSED THROUGH.

Soon my growing discomfort had turned to genuine pain/panic. Visions of Daphne's accidents started to creep into my mind, and Steve started to make jokes featuring my soiled pants and national TV. After a few more groups played through at an agonizingly slow pace, finally it was Tiger's turn to tee off. The swell of people that accompanied him was astonishing, a wave of humanity focused on one demigod. Tiger finally, finally came through the 10th, making a routine par. I immediately excused myself in a mad dash to the port-o-johns, but I hadn't factored in Tiger's humanity-wave. I was stuck, and I had to go, worse than I have ever had to go. Probably worse than I have had to go since I was two or three years old, anyway.

Suffice it to say that I did eventually make it out of my dilema, and not only did I not get dehydrated, I also got to see Tiger.

Oh, by the way, after he left our stakeout on the 10th, Tiger went on to have what Sportscenter later called "the most memorable 18 holes of his career," and we saw a chip-in on hole 17 that will be on the "Tiger Wood's all-time highlights" reel someday, and which I will probably tell James about ad-nauseam when he gets a little older. (see link: ) But I'll also have the distinct and unforgetable memory of an even bigger struggle than Tiger vs. the field... Tiger vs. Pete's bladder.


PS - off to Singapore tomorrow

Friday, June 13, 2008

A different flavor of blog for a while

Hi everyone,

As some of you know I am going on a two week travel odyssey. I'm leaving today, and in the span of about two weeks I'll touch ground in San Diego, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Nanjing and Beijing. I'm a bit nervous and sad to leave the family for that long, and with the exception of San Diego (where I'll be attending the US open of golf with my Dad) this is most assuredly a business trip. When I get back I'll be able to tell you what chemical factories are like in various parts of Asia... if you are interested in that sort of thing. My travel companion in Asia will be my boss who goes every year, and knows the lay of the land, so I estimate my chances of landing in a Chinese jail as less than 15%.

I plan on using this space to keep a running web-log (blog... I get it!) on my trip, both for Rosie and Daphne, as well as anyone else you happens to be interested. Wish me luck, and if you are in the area, Rosie can use all the help she can get for the next couple weeks!



Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Parallel Play

James' new favorite thing to do is play "catch." You can tell he knows what he's supposed to do, and sometimes it kind of works out for him, but of course never quite as well when he's on camera. He finally gets in a decent toss at the end of this clip. I'm sure it looks completely accidental to anyone but us, but we're having a great time with it. Needless to say, his dad is thrilled about this developing skill. Daphne never was (and still isn't really) very interested in playing catch.

(Please excuse the setting of this video...we were killing time while Daphne was on the potty. And in case you're wondering, I'm pretty sure she's saying "nakedy poop." Such is life with a toddler.)

Here's another one with some foot action, if you've got some more time to kill like I did!

In contrast, Daphne was very interested in moving around at this age, and James is still working on that one. Just for fun, I thought I'd post a video of Daphne at around the same age...just a week or so older than James is now. This is a couple weeks before she really got it down.

How different they were/are...even at such a young age!