Friday, August 29, 2008

Ex-Schenley students try Reizenstein on for size

Ex-Schenley students try Reizenstein on for size: "The squat, 33-year-old Reizenstein building in Shadyside may lack the architectural majesty of the historic, triangular Schenley building in Oakland.
But Reizenstein has new furniture, two student lounges and ample space for playing sports outside.
The district just planted trees in the big field to the east side of the building -- knocking out a band practice field, if not more.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

United Airlines/News - FlyerWiki

United Airlines/News - FlyerWiki: "United Airlines Teams Up with Apple
As part of United's plans to upgrade its international first and business class travel experience for customers, United and Apple have teamed up to add iPod connectivity to United's inflight entertainment service. This connectivity will enable customers to plug-in and charge their iPod, watch movies and TV shows on their iPod using United’s big-screen monitors, as well as listen to their entire music library on United’s noise-cancellation headsets.
“There is significant value in offering a superior inflight entertainment experience to our first and business class customers during their international flights,” said Graham Atkinson, executive vice president and chief customer officer. “We are identifying what matters most to our premium customers and then delivering the right products and services – like the iPod connectivity – to meet those needs.”
United announced earlier this year that it will upgrade its first and business class products and services beginning next year and reconfigure the entire international wide-body fleet throughout the next two to three years. Current plans include overhauling ground and onboard products and services to enhance the entire premium travel experience – from when customers check-in to when they arrive at their destination.

The Pitt News - Ron Paul loves you, Pittsburgh

The Pitt News - Ron Paul loves you, Pittsburgh From the polls, it looks like many people aren’t going to vote me president of these United States of America. I guess many people don’t support freedom, and they’re free to believe what they want. I’ve got one more trick up my sleeve, though, fellows.
BTW, the Pitt Libertarians are starting up the new year too.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

County solicitor rules against drink tax opponents

County solicitor rules against drink tax opponents: "Allegheny County Solicitor Mike Wojcik has determined that the petition by the group Friends Against Counterproductive Taxation, which seeks to cut the county's controversial drink tax from 10 percent to 0.5 percent by referendum, is legally insufficient.
We do NOT need anyone to protect us from our own democracy.

Ballot access is important.

Democracy is simple. Politics is messy. From time time the process gets messy and simple.

2008 November General Election Candidates

The election in Texas, for President of the United States, has been determined. The Libertarian is the only one who filed in time. No D and no R, so says the Texas Secretary of State on this web page.
2008 November General Election Candidates 2008 November General Election Candidates

Copyright and China

CCTV International China to host 2008 international copyright forum in October
Source: Xinhua | 08-27-2008 17:06
BEIJING, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Beijing is for the third year running to host the International Copyright Forum in October, the National Copyright Administration said here on Wednesday.
Sponsored by the administration and the World Intellectual Property Organization, the two-day forum, slated for October 27, will feature forums on 'copyright creates wealth' covering issues in software and media development fields.
Would love to soak up this session. There is much to be said about 'open source software' and 'public domain' for art and beyond. However, much of that is also with a copyright.

To stick around for the Paralympic Games will make for many interesting contrasts too. Just as a copyright session would.

Pittsburgh 5th poorest big city, census shows

Pittsburgh 5th poorest big city, census shows: "Pittsburgh residents are making slightly more money than last year, but they still live in one of the poorest large cities in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
City residents have the fifth-lowest median household income among residents of larger cities around the country, at $32,363, according to a report the bureau released yesterday. Pittsburgh was seventh-lowest in the 2006 figures, at $31,779. Unlike some other poor cities, however, Pittsburgh contains affluent neighborhoods such as Shadyside, Squirrel Hill and Point Breeze, potentially skewing the results to make the city look wealthier than it truly is.
Reactions welcomed.
The city is poor now. But, after the retirement and pension funds from all the governement workers run dry, we'll be much worse than now.

Urban Redevelopment boss Pat Ford resigns

Urban Redevelopment boss Pat Ford resigns Urban Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Pat Ford issued a strongly worded resignation letter today, alleging a 'culture of deception and corruption' and saying he will no longer 'support the actions of what I believe to be a failed administration' nor seek to 'return to a position where I will again be forced to serve as a scapegoat for the inappropriate affairs and activities of others.'
There is an expression in China that fits: "Bye bye."

To be fair to the Chineese, they would not give months and months of salary without any work. Nor would they let him off without a division between head and body.

The boss of the FDA of China faced capital punishment this past year. Furthermore, a front page story talked about how the secret lovers of the corrupt officials would not get off either.

No doubt, the administration is not anything to be proud of. But, it fits just what came before it. Ford rose through the ranks in that pool. Somethings float.

BBC SPORT | Olympics | China targets more golds in 2012

BBC SPORT | Olympics | China targets more golds in 2012 China will target sports including cycling, athletics and swimming to increase its gold medal haul at the 2012 Games, China's sports chief says. China will target sports including cycling, athletics and swimming to increase its gold medal haul at the 2012 Games, China's sports chief says.
Rot woo, says Scooby.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pittsburgh Police Chief Wants To 'Invest In Kids' To Prevent Violence - News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Police Chief Wants To 'Invest In Kids' To Prevent Violence - News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Police Chief Wants To 'Invest In Kids' To Prevent Violence
Except, it seems, that the way the police invest in the kids is to craft cameras around town to watch them. Then to make road blocks and build curfew centers to contain them.

Mayor Tom Murphy was the worst -- as he did not allow our groups to invest in kids and put computer labs into the city's rec centers. Many rec centers, to this day, have empty computer rooms. They have had the furnature and the little signs on the doors -- but not the computers.

Perhaps this news is a change of heart. Let's hope so.

Not only will the increase in graduation rates drop the number of murders, but I've got some more insights.

Holding AM Swim Practice, say at 5:30 or 5:45 AM -- even slackers are in by 6 -- does a great deal to insure that the students are in bed and sleeping by 10 pm, if not 9:15. Go figure.

Student athletes get better grades than students who are not in interscolastic athletics.

Student athletes have better graduation rates -- and have better chances of getting into college, being recruited into college, getting college scholarships, staying in college once they arrive, getting tudors while in college, getting coaching, mentoring and postitive peer pressure, and staying fit.

Sadly Mark Roosevelt is just as bad as Tom Murphy in terms of killing sports and community participation in wellness activities in the city. Murphy killed the city's marathon and The Great Race. Plus he closed the rec centers and swim pools (all 30+) of them. Meanwhile, Mark Roosevelt took swimming out of the public physical education programs in all the schools, is building new schools that will not have sports programs by design, and allows the city league to be laggards equal to the opportunities girls were presented with in the 1940s.

Wanjiru becomes 1st Kenyan to win men's marathon - 2008 Olympics -

Wanjiru becomes 1st Kenyan to win men's marathon - 2008 Olympics - "Wanjiru negotiated the 26.2-mile course through the Beijing streets in bright morning sunshine in an Olympic record of 2 hours, 6 minutes, 32 seconds.
So much for the bad air theory.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Pittsburgh Comet: Monday: They'll Sell You the Whole Newspaper, But You'll Only Need the Edge

The Pittsburgh Comet: Monday: They'll Sell You the Whole Newspaper, But You'll Only Need the Edge Swimming in political data for years already, having grown acclimatized to it, having followed several election cycles and even having developed some healthy coats of cynicism, there is now a new political animal on the scene -- the 18 year-old veteran organizer. There are creatures in high school, incapable of voting themselves, who nonetheless possess the motivation and the sophistication to evangelize 100, 200, 500 or more voting-age individuals to the polls. Often as not, they do it face-to-face, no Internet required.
I'm with you Bram -- but not buying your story in whole.

The Pittsburgh Comet: Monday: They'll Sell You the Whole Newspaper, But You'll Only Need the Edge

The Pittsburgh Comet: Monday: They'll Sell You the Whole Newspaper, But You'll Only Need the Edge: "Just for fun, can we start comparing who has the most LEED silver, gold and platinum certified buildings? (P-G, Mark Roth)"
For fun? Well, Pittsburgh would be sorta like India -- getting one gold every 100 years. China is blowing the doors off of Pittsburgh in terms of buildings that are energy wise.

Michael Phelps Returns Home

Michael Phelps Returns To His Tank At Sea World | The Onion - America's Finest News Source Michael Phelps Returns To His ...

But, we spent much more for places for our fish to swim in -- Pgh Zoo and Aquarium -- then for our children.

A taxi- cab breakthrough - Kelli Anderson -

A taxi- cab breakthrough - Kelli Anderson - "I took a lot of taxis in Beijing; we all did.
Think again. You all did. We didn't.

We took one taxi and that was because the USA soccer game ended with a very late gold medal award presentation that forced us off of the subway because it was closing. At 1 am, we didn't want to ride our bikes the OTHER way home. So, we left them locked at the Workers Stadium and were going to take the subway. But, it is four lines away from our apartment. When you hear in the first subway platform that this is the last train -- we were smart to bolt for the street exit.

Then we burned too much energy at the day, getting to the game, and waiting for the handout of the gold medals to bike home from 1 to 2:30 am with a 10-year old, 13-year old and me. Hell, we've seen street lights go off, yet alone the closing of the subway.

Our taxi ride that night was one of the rare times we aimed to get into a cab. We were one with the bike lanes and able to navigate these games and this city just fine without the car. We took a bus or four. We took the subway a bunch too.

Mind you, we watched the taxi situations -- as our goals included them. We didn't want to get hit by anything on the roads -- most of all -- the taxi.

Our fun as the games come to a close

The 17 days of the Olympics have ended. We watched the closing ceremony last night on China TV. Not once did we see a soul from the USA throughout the entire show. What's up with that?

Early in the day we went out of our apartment and down a small stretch of road -- about from 107 Pheasant to Joan Drive, -- and saw the men's marathon go past. There were a bunch in the pack when we saw the opening hour of the race -- and then when they went past us there were three in the lead by 2-minutes or so. The guy from Kenya won in the end. They got their medals in The Bird's Nest (stadium) and it seemed as if the guy that got 2nd, Morocco runner, was having a hard time lifting his leg to get onto the podium. Glass eyes too. They must have wanted a nap.

In the final day of competitions -- we were lucky to get into the final water polo session. We saw a preliminary game -- Spain and Croatia. Then the bronze game where Serbia beat Montenegro. Both were on the same squad a year ago. Then we saw USA vs. Hungary. Great first half. Then Hungary, winning its 3rd gold in a row, got more goals than the USA team. The fans and cheers from Hungary was wild to witness.

The skys have been blue -- but the smog is going to return, we expect. From our apartment we could see in the distance the fireworks in T-square. We biked there last week -- took about 1 hour or more. The flood lights from the Olympic Green are able to be seen from a hallway window. Our apartment is on the 13th (top) floor of a new building in a neighborhood in Beijing's Silicon Valley. A massive computer mart is 15 minutes away on bikes.

We took lots of photos and video. But, I've not uploaded them. Just waiting. NBC was cracking down on pirated videos. I don't need that hassle.

We all have bikes and are doing well on them. We expect to take a train to The Great Wall on Tuesday. Our flight to Chicago is Saturday.

We will pick up a few more treats -- but -- we spent a good deal on the final water polo tickets. Tickets were hard to get and scalpers were out of hand. But, we paid good / fair prices.

We have some new crafts... Got CD of music used in the games. "beijing welcomes you" is a song we've enjoyed.

Got to meet a number of Olympians. Many of their parents and siblings. Lots of fun people from many nations. The Hungarians were known for storming the doors to the water polo venue -- getting 7 or so tickets but seeing 50 or so get past the gate(s). They got wise to them by finals. Don't mess with China -- unless you are from Hungary.

Erik and I have been going to a 5-star hotel where we joined their health club for a month. We lift and swim. Catherine and Grant to a local university and park where there our outdoor badminton courts. We got more rackets (4) and a net. We're going there again tonight at 5 to play with local boy and his mom, our friends now.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Omega finally releases Phelps photo sequence - 2008 Olympics -

Why did it take so long to release the photos, Omega?
Omega finally releases Phelps photo sequence - 2008 Olympics - "FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu had been pressing Omega, one of Phelps' sponsors, to release the images for several days.

Catching Up With The Water Polo Team : NPR

I hate articles that start with such a big negative.
Catching Up With The Water Polo Team : NPR One of the nation's best chances for an Olympic gold medal this summer is in a sport relatively few Americans watch, even during the Olympics — women's water polo.

BBC NEWS | UK | British athletes 'to get honours'

The rest of the world is investing more and more into sports, fitness, wellness and being competitive on personal level on the global stage.
BBC NEWS | UK | British athletes 'to get honours' 'And as we move up to it we want more and more young people in Britain interested in sport, and that is why we will be investing more in sport in our schools, as well as for our elite athletes.' 'And as we move up to it we want more and more young people in Britain interested in sport, and that is why we will be investing more in sport in our schools, as well as for our elite athletes.'
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Public Schools is pulling the plug on its past investments into sports -- and those were pitty sad to begin with.

Cuban taekwondo athlete banned for life after kicking ref in face - Olympics -

The coach is not the athlete. Dishing out a lifetime ban to a coach, for the acts of the athlete, is wrong.
Cuban taekwondo athlete banned for life after kicking ref in face - Olympics - 'This is a strong violation of the spirit of taekwondo and the Olympic Games. The sanctions are the following and are effective immediately: Lifetime ban of the coach and athlete in all championships sanctioned by the (World Taekwondo Federation) and at the same time, all records of this athlete at the Beijing Games will immediately be erased,' said the announcer, reading a WTF release'This is a strong violation of the spirit of taekwondo and the Olympic Games. The sanctions are the following and are effective immediately: Lifetime ban of the coach and athlete in all championships sanctioned by the (World Taekwondo Federation) and at the same time, all records of this athlete at the Beijing Games will immediately be erased,' said the announcer, reading a WTF release.
To re-write history is something that I am not fond of either.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

We Got Hope. We were there! Workers' Stadium, Beijing: USA women win gold in "football"

Are you ready for some great football news?

The USA women's football team -- in western PA its called soccer -- beat Brazil in the gold medal game at The Workers Stadium here in Beijing. And we were there and have lost our voices to prove it.

The day was filled with rain, breaks in rain and tears of joy for a few different teams around town.

We were hoping for gold in the softball -- but Japan beat the USA team, 3-1. Last night we saw Japan tag Australia for the bronze medal game. The victor, Japan, got to play the favorite, USA, for the gold. Oh well.

The other big game on the schedule today was in women's water polo. USA played The Netherlands. The Dutch won by one point.

Today's early hours were filled with heavy rain. Without tickets to the open water swim, and with the rain -- we blew it off. We had the alarm set for 5:45 AM. Got up then and checked the puddles and punted. Back to bed. We knew we'd be up late for the soccer game later.

Very little was on the television too.

We got a swim in ourselves (Erik and I). And we watched the women's volleyball team beat Cuba. We also saw the USA women win the beach volleyball. The women's hard-court spikers advance to the gold medal game against Brazil.

Grant and Catherine played some park badminton and we at the last of the leftover Pekin Duck for lunch.

Then the boys and I headed out on the bikes to the double-header football games. It was a 90-minute bike ride. We locked up the bikes on the street between the Worker's Stadium and Worker's Gymnasium. These facilities look to be a bit older, but nice. I'm not even sure what is played at the Worker's Gymnasium. But there was a lot of activity on the streets around the venues.

The first game of soccer tonight was for the bronze medal and it featured Japan vs. Germany. To the end of the game, Germany scored twice. Then there was a 1-hour break and the gold medal game at 9 pm.

The game was hard. Great for the USA -- our goalkeeper, Hope Solo. She was not going to let anything past here.

The game ended in a tie -- 0-0. Then the game has two 15 minute periods. The USA squad scored in the first session and turned back a number of good opportunities including plenty of corner kicks.

The audience was mostly locals -- some from each of the four teams. But there were 51,000 in the stadium -- with few empty seats. Some, but not many.

Outside, tickets were being sold at face value and below. That's a good sign for going to the men's gold medal game or perhaps to soccer.

We got our helmets off the bikes and headed to McDonals. It was packed and we didn't get anything. Ran to the subway at 12:30 pm and was told this would be the last train. We needed three to get home and were worried about a transfer and getting stuck without the bikes. It took two cab rides to get home.

In the AM, we'll need to get back to pick up our bikes.

Good night.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Yet to come at Olympics

A big day is slated for USA Women's Softball. The team has a leg up with rest as the team from Japan had to get past Australia in a long game tonight.

But we'll be pulling extra hard for the women's USA Water Polo team in its gold medal match.

But we'll be in the stands for the USA vs. Brazil women's gold medal football game -- if all goes well with the ticket delivery. They're be playing football -- also known as soccer to a small percentage of people in the world.

U.S. softball beats Japan in extra innings 4-1, into final - 2008 Olympics -

We were there.
U.S. softball beats Japan in extra innings 4-1, into final - 2008 Olympics - "After losing in the morning to the U.S., Japan beat Australia 4-3 in 12 innings to secure a spot in the gold medal match. The Aussies were left with the bronze.
The pitcher from AUS is Tonya Harding. She is a UCLA grad. I helped to lead a cheer in right field for her. U-C-L-A, U.C.L.A., UCLA - go Tonya!

On the way home we peeked into the baseball venue and the score was still 0-0 late in the game.

The basketball venue, like the Water Cube, changes colors.

In the morning, we are up early to get to the 10-K open water swim for the men.

In today's women's 10K it was a Russian and then two Brits. The Brits have been impressive in the swimming events.

Beijing has the first ever 10-K open water swim races in Olympics. Well, if you don't count when the regular swimming was in the open water. These will be the longest races.

I predict that the USA guy swimmer will be on the podium in the 10K swim.

Examples of pulling rank play out at the Olympics

Examples of pulling rank play out at the Olympics 'The Olympics are a great festival of human beings seeking rank, and that's OK,' he said. 'We all seek high rank, and we rather enjoy watching other people seek gold medals, and we applaud the victor and feel sorry for the loser.'

Problems arise when rank holders abuse their power.
No kidding.

Cyclists observed wearing USOC-issued masks upon arrival

Cyclists observed wearing USOC-issued masks upon arrival 'They should have
taken more responsibility -- maybe publicly supported us and behind the scenes
slapped our wrist,' Lea said of top U.S. Olympic officials. 'It's hard to say
what kind of a toll that could have taken, but, for sure, our first five days at
the Olympics were terrible.'

It has been worse for Friedman, an outgoing sort who is accessible
because he has a blog. He estimates he has received more than 15,000 hate
e-mails from around the world.

I still do not understand. The guys show up in Beijing wearing masks. Then they feel like they were targeted for being foolish. So, now they are done with the competition and have a statement. But the statement they make is full of additional vile and goes to prove that they were foolish. Now the slant is their burden because the USA Olympic Committee did nothing to prevent them from playing the part of a fool.

If I'm missing something -- let me know. I don't think Shelly Anderson is such a reporter as to have twisted things like a soap opera script. But, perhaps I'm wrong.

John Challis, a great athlete, RIP

John Scott Challis / Teen delivered message of hope with cancer
: John's two-year battle with liver and lung cancer ended
yesterday afternoon, when he died at his home in Freedom, Beaver County. He was

Playing street games with Beijing's twist of friends and activities

Talking about the words in Chinees and English -- of each sport.

Some morning exercises for Grant and Erik, with a leader.

Jump roap.

We had a great time yesterday playing some traditional games of Beijing with some new friends.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania announces its 2008 candidates

Libertarian Ticket offers political choice in Pennsylvania

Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania

3915 Union Deposit Road #223

Harrisburg, PA 17109

For Immediate Release: August 18, 2008 Contact: Doug Leard (Media Relations) orMichael Robertson (Chair) at 1-800-R-RIGHTS / Harrisburg, PA

The Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania (LPPa) today announced its candidates for the November 2008 elections. LPPa Chair Michael Robertson said, “The Libertarian Party offers Pennsylvanians political choice. That choice is a first step in restoring public confidence and fairness to a political system poisoned by the unfolding criminal allegations of the Bonusgate scandal.”

Libertarian candidates for public office in Pennsylvania include:

Statewide Offices:President - Bob Barr (

Vice President - Wayne Allyn Root (

Attorney General - Marakay Rogers

Auditor General - Betsy Summers

State Treasurer - Berlie Etzel

U.S. Congress:District 5 - James Fryman

State Senate:District 21 - Mary Lea Lucas

Representative in the General Assembly:

District 35 - David Posipanka

District 63 - Michael J. Robertson

District 64 - Vance Mays

District 180 – Erik Sanchez

Ballot access for Libertarian Party candidates didn’t come easy. This year Libertarian candidates for statewide office collected 51,345 ballot access signatures to insure a challenge cushion. Throughout Pennsylvania, the threat of being “Bonusgated” was clearly evident by the tally of uncontested races for other offices. The current tally has two uncontested Congressional races of 19, three uncontested state senate races of 25, but 101 uncontested state house races of 203. The Bounsgate revelations didn’t come soon enough for the 2008 election season.

“Our Libertarian candidates represent a return to the fundamental principles of American government; individual liberty, personal responsibility, and limited government,” indicated Robertson. “They offer a real choice for voters in a time of ever increasing government authority."

The Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in Pennsylvania and the United States. More than 200,000 people across the country are registered Libertarians, and Libertarians serve in hundreds of elected offices. Please visit or for more information.

Beijing is a big city -- but it is really fun to ...

We love being in Beijing and running into friends on the street.

We've seen a few folks on various days at various settings.

Our phone(s) has a number of different names and numbers now stored within the "phone book." And, we've called to keep in touch and make future play dates.

People are seeing us on the streets too. Our good friend in China gets updates on our travels from people in his company who see us zoom past while on our bikes.

Another point of smiles is seeing people we've seen and some who we know on TV as they show the crowd shots on TV.

We picked up some new bike shirts at a bike shop today. And, we got a badminton net and more shuttlecocks for our play in the park. Our friends, Simon and his mom, had tickets to weightlifting, so we only played with them for about 10 minutes then they had to depart.

Up soon, a visit to the Beijing Exhibition Hall for an Olympic showcase with all sorts of Olympic stuff. Might get photos.

Had fun going to the computer mall again today. Want to get a new battery for the video camera yet. But, got some disks.

The cheering in all the stadiums from the locals sounds like, "Chi-go" or "Guy-go" or a ChGuy-go. Its literal meaning is 'Add fuel.' As in 'get oil.' Use your energy. Burn baby burn. Then they often say, "China" (but in Chineese) in the off beats.

We want to sign up for "Team Sabrina." She is an Olympian from Canada. Rower.

Hawaii Palace Usurpers Can't Find Throne - Decision 2008 News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh

Hawaii Palace Usurpers Can't Find Throne - Decision 2008 News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh: "Most of the protesters were charged with criminal trespass and released on $50 bonds."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Twitter in China -- changes from the UK

I'm sending you this note because you registered a mobile deviceto work with Twitter over our UK number. I wanted to let youknow that we are making some changes to the way SMS works onTwitter. There is some good news and some bad news.

I'll start with the bad news. Beginning today, Twitter is nolonger delivering outbound SMS over our UK number. If you enjoyreceiving updates from Twitter via +44 762 480 1423, we arerecommending that you explore some suggested alternatives.

Note: You will still be able to UPDATE over our UK number.

Before I go into more detail, here's a bit of good news: Twitterwill be introducing several new, local SMS numbers in countriesthroughout Europe in the coming weeks and months. These newnumbers will make Twittering more accessible for you if you'vebeen using SMS to send long-distance updates from outside the UK.

Why are we making these changes?

Mobile operators in most of the world charge users to sendupdates. When you send one message to Twitter and we send it toten followers, you aren't charged ten times--that's because we'vebeen footing the bill. When we launched our free SMS service tothe world, we set the clock ticking. As the service grew inpopularity, so too would the price.

Our challenge during this window of time was to establishrelationships with mobile operators around the world such thatour SMS services could become sustainable from a cost perspective.We achieved this goal in Canada, India, and the United States.We can provide full incoming and outgoing SMS service withoutpassing along operator fees in these countries.
We took a risk hoping to bring more nations onboard and moremobile operators around to our way of thinking but we've arrivedat a point where the responsible thing to do is slow our costsand take a different approach. Since you probably don't live inCanada, India, or the US, we recommend receiving your Twitterupdates via one of the following methods. works on browser-enabled works on browser-enabled works on email-enabled phonesCellity [] works on java-enabled phonesTwitterBerry [] works on BlackBerry phonesTwitterific [] works on iPhones

Twitter SMS by The Numbers

It pains us to take this measure. However, we need to avoidplacing undue burden on our company and our service. Even with alimit of 250 messages received per week, it could cost Twitterabout $1,000 per user, per year to send SMS outside of Canada,India, or the US. It makes more sense for us to establish fairbilling arrangements with mobile operators than it does to passthese high fees on to our users.

Twitter will continue to negotiate with mobile operators inEurope, Asia, China, and The Americas to forge relationshipsthat benefit all our users. Our goal is to provide full, two-wayservice with Twitter via SMS to every nation in a way that issustainable from a cost perspective. Talks with mobile companiesaround the world continue. In the meantime, more local numbersfor updating via SMS are on the way. We'll keep you posted.
Thank you for your attention,

Biz Stone, Co-founderTwitter, Inc.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Zealand Swim News

Curtain falls on two fine careers
The curtain came down on two fine swimming careers at the Olympic pool tonight.

Helen Norfolk and Dean Kent, who have become the first New Zealand swimmers to attend three Olympics, announced their retirement from the sport.

Norfolk, who turns 27 later this month, has represented New Zealand since 1997. She won a bronze medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and at the 2005 World University Games, she scooped a New Zealand record three silver medals.

The medley specialist was extremely emotional in announcing her retirement. “It’s an emotional moment,” she said. “Swimming has been my life.”

Kent, who turns 30 in November, is believed to be the oldest swimmer to represent New Zealand at an Olympics. He made his New Zealand debut in 1999. One of his career highlights was his 200m individual medley silver medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Neither swimmer went out the way they’d have liked tonight.

Kent, swimming in the 200m individual medley, ended up only 21st fastest of the 46 starters, and his time of 2min 01.12s was about a second outside his best. He had estimated – accurately as it turned out – that he would have needed to duck under 2min to make the semi-finals.

Norfolk led off for the New Zealand 4 x 200m freestyle relay team which was travelling well until it was judged that fourth swimmer Natasha Hind had entered the water too fourth-hundredths of a second too soon – swimmers are allowed three-hundredths’ grace.

It was a pity because the New Zealanders – Norfolk, Lauren Boyle, Hayley Palmer and Hind - swam about 7min 57.3s, which would have chopped nearly seven seconds off the national record.

Burmester fourth as Phelps wins
Kiwi medal hope Moss Burmester's Olympic dream was put on hold on this afternoon as he finished a heroic fourth behind the phenomenon Michael Phelps in the men's 200m butterfly final.

Phelps, racing in his signature event, won in 1:52.03, setting yet another new world record in the process.

Getting away to a fantastic start Burmester was in the lead at the 50m mark by 0.03 seconds ahead of Phelps.

By the time they returned to the starting end, Phelps had stolen the lead back by a fraction but Burmester looked on course to push him all the way. Both swimmers were on pace with world record time.

The third length saw the field closing in on Burmester but he looked set to resist them and deliver New Zealand's high point of the Games.

As Phelps powered on in the final 50 metres, Kiwi eyes were on the man in lane one, but it unfortunately became clear that his fantastic effort looked likely to fall just short of earning a medal place. Sure enough Phelps touched first and Burmester, with a new New Zealand and Commonwealth record time of 1.54.35, couldn't quite get there ahead of Hungarian Laszlo Cseh and Japan's Takeshi Matsuda who claimed silver and gold.

Burmester admitted he had left everything in the pool.

"It hurt. I turned at 100 metres and I knew I was right up there. I was hoping to go a bit quicker but I couldn't have done anything more" he told TVNZ.

The Kiwi had been suffered from a stomach bug in the lead up to the race but said he wouldn't be using that as an excuse for his performance.

Soon after Phelps collected his fifth gold medal of the Games in the 4x200m freestyle relay to clock up his 11th Olympic gold.

Meanwhile New Zealand are still left waiting for their first medal.

Burmester should nevertheless be delighted with his performance, being the first New Zealander to reach a swim final since Danyon Loader in 1996.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fantastic day -- unreal

What a day.... USA Swimmers were hot. Erik and I were there. Meanwhile, Catherine and Grant were at the men's team gymnastics where China got first, then Japan. The USA was so excited and happy to get third.

Then we went to see the whitewater canoe and kayak races -- a 70-minute bus ride outside the city.

I've got lots of photos. Plus, video. But, they'll have to wait. I'm going to crash. And, the story as how we got there was a bit of a tale as well.

Spartans keep Schenley name - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Another sign that Pgh Public Schools cares little about sports. Fumble.
Spartans keep Schenley name - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "High schools have dropped football programs before. But to have a program without a school, well, that's as rare as a Chicago Cubs World Series win.
Next week they'll tell us that Fifth Avenue High School is the favorite to win the city league title and South Vo Tech hopes to be .500.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Beijing Olympic 2008 opening ceremony giant firework footprints 'faked' - Telegraph

Beijing Olympic 2008 opening ceremony giant firework footprints 'faked' - Telegraph: "The fireworks were there for real, outside the stadium. But those responsible for filming the extravaganza decided in advance it would be impossible to capture all 29 footprints from the air."
this is why I love 'sports.' Sports are not fake. Meanwhile, entertainment can be -- and is.

Sports are games of time, space and relationship. In the world of entertainment, the space and lines between space and time are not real.

One can watch a movie and have the exact presentation over and over again -- without a worry of time. Same too for space. Watch the movie in a cinema or at a home in any city -- and it is nearly the same.

No so with sports.

I am not worried about the fireworks being 'fake.' However, we must be certain to never let our sports become 'fake.'

Now, it is off to artistic gymnastics -- a sport more sporting than professional rassling.

new adventure -- getting more money onto our China Net Account

In Beijing, you can buy access to the internet on a card, like a phone card. These are sold at news stands. When you get the card -- you need to call a number and have them activate the credits to your account based upon your home phone nummber.

The IP address is tied to the phone account.

You pay for internet by time. We don't know the rate.

I did this all today, with a good bit of help from the guy at the news stand and the fellow from the hotel that walked with me to help me buy the cards.

The people of Beijing are wonderful.

The volunteers at the university who were returning from tennis were "worn out." Long days for them, for sure. The bus ride is more than an hour. I've been most impressed with the university students.

Only one in eleven who applied to be a volunteer got 'hired' for these no-paid jobs. They get a shirt, one meal a day and a fanny pack. Some get slacks with zippers to make into shorts. They are trying to navigate a complicated network of events and venes that are the Olympics.

It rained all night last night. Some into the day. Today was 'puddle day.' Some rain returned tonight at 8 pm.

Yesterday it rained as we came home from water polo. We were soaked. No problem.

Our bikes might rust to nothingness in another week. Cerain bolts and bits of the bike are not as sturdy as others. Went to my new best friend to get a new bike seat and bike seat post so it can be raised. I don't like to pedal with my knees under my chin. But now I'm high and can't touch the road while seated at a stop. Comfort wins. I'll make a bigger drafting wake for Grant to glide within.

Talked to a guy at the 'bike shop' who was in Pittsburgh two months ago. Small world. He was here to serve a deligation of folks that visited CMU to talk about ways to better manage computing and community elements. How one person's comments can be tracked to the various conversations. Go figure. That group also spent time in the state of Washington at Olympia. They were here as the Arts Festival was in town.

Our swag rocks. More on that with another post. We are keeping a list of who gets one of our gifts.

Twitter had tip about Wolf Wigo's film showing and Stanford.

Softball's #2, batting 3rd, is a fried of a friend.

By the way, water polo was amazing. I'll need to dedicate that to its own post too. We talked with all the team's players and their families. Photos, etc. They are such a nice group of people.

We saw USA beat China in the opening game of the pool play. At one point, the game was tied 3-3. Great USA Goolkeeping throughout.

Both Erik and I were able to lift today. Working out on weights at a local 5-star hotel. Didn't swim as we didn't bring our swim caps. But, Erik and I both had a bit of tummy troubles too. Won't get any more dumplings from the street vendor.

Good night.

Quick Update from the end of week one

We lost the internet for a couple of days. Sorry about that. Guess I shouldn't go to rouge video sites sorta like Utube-ish.

Out of the blue, Grant crashed on his bike (again). A bit of road rash is on his leg and arm. We've started a list of all the things that Grant has crashed into. I got really mad at him today as we started out and he did the old classic -- "Look mom! No hands." But he doesn't know the joke. The jokes on us. Ouch.

Catherine and I were headed to WalMart on foot to buy a little table for our meals and playing cards -- and we ran into two women who were looking for the weight lifting venue. They had just taken the subway here and were turned around. We walked them to the venue, knowing a short cut even. And, they had two extra tickets. But, most of the session had already happened. Anyway -- we got to see some weightlifting -- on a lark.

They were headed next to the canoe venue and I just got some great suggestions on getting there. Our tickets are to canoe in the afternoon. We have three tickets in the moring to Artistic Gymnastics. Trouble is -- it takes more than an hour to get to canoe. And, we live in the North East/Central, while artistic gymnastics is south west and the canoe is past the airport at the north east.

One tip was to take the subway (train) to the airport and then get a cab to the canoe venue. Most of the cabs don't want to drive all the way to the canoe venue. The charge is about $70 from airport and $120+/- from Beijing at the end of the subway line.

Needless to say, we can't bike to the venues tomorrow.

Swimming Success - #2 gold for Michael, thanks to Jason

We were screaming with great might -- in our apartment. I think the entire building could hear us. What a race. What a finish.
Great summary from another blog:
It appeared though that the best was yet to come. The men’s 4X100m freestyle was spectacular. The Aussies kicked things off, as Eamon Sullivan pipped Phelps in the first leg with a world record time of 47.24. It was the French though who gained control after stunningly consistent swims. Alain Bernard was a length ahead with 25m to go, and it looked like Phelps’ attempt at eight golds was undone on day two of finals. Jason Lezak had other plans.

Swimming Success Swimming with a style that looked like he was trying to climb on the back of Bernard and drown him, he produced a superhuman effort that defied hydrodynamics and dragged himself into contention. It all came down to the touch, and the American got there 0.08 secs quicker. The world record time was an obscene 3:08.24 min - 4.93 seconds quicker than the winning time in Athens 2004!

The 4X100m freestyle is one of the two events in Athens where Phelps failed to win gold. His celebrations at the end, flexing his torso, suggests he knew this would be tough. If he goes on to make history, he’ll be forever indebted to the powerhouse Jason Lezak.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Contact Us - Beijing Traffic

Contact Us: "Please send your suggestions, comments or questions, as well as messages for the Director General and other Beijing Traffic Management Bureau officials, to
Asking them about cycling competition today.

off of the Olympic site.

'Beijing Tour' Special Media Outings Registration Form
Updated: 2008-08-04 09:45:46 "Beijing Tour" Special Media Outings
Registration Form
Name Nationality
Mobile E-mail
Please mark √ to choose the tour line: 1 2 3

1. Route of City Bus Tour: The city sightseeing on tour bus
Date: August 5, 2008 Departure Venue: News Desk of MPC
Departure Time: 1:30 p.m. Return time: 6 p.m.

2. Route of Museums: The Capital Museum, The Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall
Date: August 6, 2008 Departure Venue: News Desk of MPC
Departure Time: 1:30 p.m. Return time: 6 p.m.

3. Route of Cultural Heritage: The Great Wall—Badaling
Date: August 18, 2008 Departure Venue: News Desk of MPC
Departure Time: 1:30 p.m. Return time: 6 p.m.


* Above tour service provided for the registered journalists for free.

* Ten or more registrations are needed to form a group; otherwise, tours will be cancelled.

Contact with:

Yang Wen 13601338207 or Amily Sun 13381068163

FAX: 86 10 84371065
Wonder if the folks there would handle non media on a tour for a fee?

Judo became more of a story

Suddenly, men's heavyweight judo became much more exciting: Georgia's Lasha Gujejiani, Russia's Tamerlan Tmenov are both medal contenders.
Figures the media is going to be all over this like white on rice.

USA Swimming hosting parties around USA for Olympics

USA Swimming - Lanelines: "Ten major parties:

IRVINE – Monday, August 11, 9pm-12am PST

BALTIMORE – Wednesday, August 13, 8 pm – 12am ET

MIAMI – Sunday, August 10, 9pm-12am EST

CONCORD – Monday, August 11, 12pm- 1pm PST

HOUSTON – Saturday, August 16, 12pm-1pm CST

INDIANAPOLIS – Saturday, August 16, 9pm-12am EST

CHICAGO – Friday, August 16, 9pm – 12 am CST

SAN ANTONIO – Monday, August 11, 8pm – 12am CST

WASHINGTON DC – Friday, August 15, 9pm – 12am ESTTen major parties:

IRVINE – Monday, August 11, 9pm-12am PST

BALTIMORE – Wednesday, August 13, 8 pm – 12am ET

MIAMI – Sunday, August 10, 9pm-12am EST

CONCORD – Monday, August 11, 12pm- 1pm PST

HOUSTON – Saturday, August 16, 12pm-1pm CST

INDIANAPOLIS – Saturday, August 16, 9pm-12am EST

CHICAGO – Friday, August 16, 9pm – 12 am CST

SAN ANTONIO – Monday, August 11, 8pm – 12am CST

WASHINGTON DC – Friday, August 15, 9pm – 12am EST"

Battle erupts over Georgia rebel region - Russia-

Battle erupts over Georgia rebel region - Russia- Battle erupts over Georgia's breakaway region
Russia troops reportedly move into separatist capital amid attack by Tbilisi
Wars are to end, not begin, when the Olympics are held. Did they not get the memo?

[412] Hello from Beijing, China -- the Olympics are here and this city is buzzing

[412] Hello from Beijing, China -- the Olympics are here and this city is buzzing: "I'm sitting with my wife and sons in our August 2008 apartment in
north central Beijing. We had another great day on our bikes learning
about the city and the cultures of the world. This is so exciting.I'm sitting with my wife and sons in our August 2008 apartment in
north central Beijing. We had another great day on our bikes learning
about the city and the cultures of the world. This is so exciting.

So weird to live blog Opening when the content is invention of paper

Live blogging -- really will put it all on Twitter.

Meanwhile, China invented paper.

Scroll unfolds....

dots get typed.....

Pinch me when life gets any better.

List of swim pools in Beijing where we might workout

A new friend from Mexico sent along a list of swim pool for our consideration. We need a place to swim and do our workouts. Grant, Erik and I would love to have a 90-minute workout once a day.

I'm offering to teach or coach for 30 minutes as a trade our admission to the pool. I could come earlier or stay later -- or even do it within the 90-minute time block.

Friendship Hotel
Friendship Hotel, Baishiqiao Road, Haidian District
6849-8888, 10 am-11 pm, 30/2 hours

Fragrant Hills Hotel
Fragrant Hills Park, Haidian District
6259-1166 x 3243, 10 am-1 am, 30

Sino-Japanese Youth Exchange Center Swimming Pool
40 Liangmaqiao Road, Chaoyang District
6466-3311 ext. 3185, 1-9:45 pm, 50

Dongdan Swimming Pool
A-2 Dahua Road, Dongdan, Dongcheng District
6523-1241, 10 am-10 pm, 30

Overseas Chinese Village Swimming Gymnasium
Inside Overseas Chinese Village, Jianwai Avenue, Chaoyang District
6515-0615, 10 am-8 pm, 50

Tiantan Swimming Pool Gymnasium
4 Tiantan East Road, Chongwen District
6701-7562, 12 pm-1:30 pm, 7:45-9:15 pm, 10

Yingdong Swimming Pool
Inside Olympic Stadium, Chaoyang District
6491-0468, 11 am-11 pm, 30
Perhaps we'll go to them all. Thanks for the pointers Carlos. If anyone else wants to go or meet us, call. Email might be okay too. Our local phone numbers are listed in the blog below.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

8-8-08 is here and we're headed out on our bikes

I picked up a few others to follow on Twitter.

Putting on sun lotion for the big day. Will spend some at "Car a for" a French owned mega super market. This is near the electronics mall part of the city -- North West corner. The torch may be there at noon-ish. Will try to confirm with an Information booth (so nice).

Unraveling the mystery of the Hamm twins. - By Josh Levin - Slate Magazine

Unraveling the mystery of the Hamm twins. - By Josh Levin - Slate Magazine: "The 2004 Olympics
Are Paul and Morgan Hamm identical twins? Their parents say no. Science says yes."

Both are out of the Olympics now. Are their injuries identical or fraternal? (stolen line from twitter)

Amanda Beard's Olympic PeTA campaign cancelled | The News is

Amanda Beard's Olympic PeTA campaign cancelled | The News is "Amanda Beard's Olympic PeTA campaign cancelled"

Surface to air missles sit between Birds Nest and Water Cube. Welcome GWB

US President, George W. Bush, is now in Beijing. His father had
already arrived. Perhaps we'll see W on a bike ride in the morning.

CCTV (China Television) reported that there are two surface to air
missles on the Olympic Grounds next to the major outdoor stadium, the
Bird's Nest. It is also very close to the Water Cube.

Seems that because the world has GWB, it might also have the other.
Are they linked?

In the run up to the games, they said that there would be no 'kites."
I'm not sure when and where there was a kite ban. But today, we saw
two. One was very high.

How in the world do you use Twitter from cell phone in Beijing

I really could use some hand holding on getting my twitter to accept
my updates from my cell phone.

I think it can be done. I must use text messages to a phone number.
They they get re-displayed. Thanks for the help in the comments or
with a call later.

Group Protests Taser Death Of Swissvale Man - News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh

Celeste gets in the news.
Group Protests Taser Death Of Swissvale Man - News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh Investigators are waiting for autopsy results to determine if it was the jolt from the Taser that killed Thomas or a medical condition.

Protesters said they are bothered by how Thomas might have died. Shouting slogans and displaying banners, they called for prosecution of the police for their use of Tasers.
'I'm not saying the other ones aren't important, but there's something about this one that's bad,” said protester Celeste Taylor.

As the group gathered outside the borough building, reinforcements were called in from other municipalities and some Swissvale residents, fearful of retaliation, found courage to speak up.

But the protest wasn't just on the streets of Swissvale. Neighbors voiced their concerns to borough supervisors at a regularly scheduled meeting.
She and they take it to the streets -- and into the halls of government. That's the one-two message that must happen. Don't just whip the people into a frenzy and cause street theater. Go those extra steps to hear from and demand behaviors of those who emply the police and their superiors.

Beijing Olympic Games 2008 » Beijing haze getting inside swimming center

Beijing Olympic Games 2008 » Beijing haze getting inside swimming center Some United States and Australian swimmers have reported seeing haze even inside the Swimming Center or Water Cube.
“[Monday,] they said it was the worst it’s been,” Erik Vendt, a member of the American 800-meter freestyle relay team, said yesterday. “It was horrible. It was almost laughable, it was so bad. I came into [the Aquatics Center] and I didn’t know if it was my eyes, but I definitely saw something. It was definitely hazy in here.”
Some swimmers including Grant Hackett however, have said it is not a problem.
“If people start coughing and sputtering all over the place, it will be an issue, but hopefully not,” Hackett said.
Hackett has it right. Don't be a cry baby. Get up and go. And, do it with your mouth shut.

There are a number of dimensions to report and blog about this.

First of all, we were there this morning. We didn't get inside the Olympic Green where the Water Cube and Birds Nest are. Bowever, we were able to see the outside of the buildings from a block or two away. We could see em -- but -- the view was milky. Right. It is hot, hazy and humid. Sultry was the word used by one broadcaster.

In our apartment, with the air on -- it is wonderful.

But we biked for four hours today -- and didn't hurl blood. We lived.

It was great seeing some of the other joggers too. There is an Olympic Forest just north of the Olympic Green. We biked along both the east and west roads that go into the venues. Plus the sixth ring road. I think it was sixth. There are two roads that cars can NOT go on -- other than police and officials, plus the buses.

This place is tighter than a drum with security and monitors and police and everything. There is a show of force like I've never seen. I wasn't there in the days after 4 were killed in O-Hi-O. But that was about tension and National Guardsmen at every parking meter in Athens, Ohio -- and elsewhere. This is epic too.

The information booths are packed with volunteers. The colors on the shirts of workers are everywhere. The banners are all along the fences. No barbed wire. No armored guards, generally. But the place is covered with layers and layers of people on duty. They are doing well. They are ever present.

We passed a few Olympic athletes out for their morning runs. One coach on roller blades while the female athlete ran. No masks. None needed. I told our line of bikers (family) that we'd do a U turn the next time we saw a training run that looked interesting.

We were a sight to be seen as well. I was generally at the front of the line -- wearing the bike helmets and gloves, as are the boys. Plus I put on the green and yellow Phonak bike suit to keep my bottom from shredding. Plus, I'm on a no-geared pink local bike with a narly black basket on the handlebars. Its seat is way, way too low -- so I ride often standing on the pedals.

A Canadian biker -- perhaps a BMX guy -- went past us while we were stopped. I didn't notice him until he was 20-meters away and departing quickly. But Catherine did notice him -- and he was doing a triple take of me.

The atheles are generally wearing their national colors.

I do not know what it is like at the rowing or canoe venue. There it would be impossible to see the majority of the course. That is 30-k away from the center city.

The roads are like Christchurch, NZ now. Think of Pittsburgh roads on a typical Sunday morning. Some drivers -- but often the side lanes are empty with only a few cars every few moments. There isn't gridlock even at the height of the morning rush hour. Heavy traffic on the ring roads, of course. But not bad at all.

Beijing is also a 9-5 (err, 9 to 9) city. The song says New York never sleeps. Well, Beijing does. At night the lights are out and the people are too. Not that I'm at the night clubs and discos. But the neighorhood streets are quiet and empty. Even by 6 am, things are still sleepy.

The Olympic Village was very cool to see. I know Erik and Grant got a kick out of biking past that part of our trip today. We could see the 6-story buildings, all new, all with many flags hanging from the windows and mini-balcony. All types of flags. People walking and playing beteen the buildings. Kicking balls, hitting badminton, stretching.

In a way, to me, it felt as if we were biking past the zoo before it had opened and we could see the interesting wildlife on the other side of the fences. Here, other than zoo with small cages, think of a wildlife game preserve. We were on the outside, glances to the side to look in.

The other side of the road has other buildings, generally much taller and filled with residents. They were greated with guards and lots of issues with 'parking' and 'auto use' I imagine. They too had come out to peek at us and others. Many were headed to work.

It must be a pain to live next to the Civic Arena -- and/or new Pens Arena. Heinz Field neighbors, well, the North Siders are on their own for complaints. These folks have to live next to the Olympics for the next 18 days. Ouch. Unlike Woodstock, there are plenty of places to park the buses and use the port-o-johns. Grant hit one, and it was the hold in the ground style.

I'll try to get photos going in the next day. Then you can see the haze yourself.

We've been perfect as to our systems and food. The bag of Twizlers helped on day one when we couldn't tell if we were hungry or just in a jet lag funk. Then we didn't have a refrig that worked either. So, we were not keen to buy groceries.

Boxes (mid sized) of Cheerios were found at WalMart -- for 17 RMB. Too costly. I could knock that off in 2 sittings. Rather our breakfast sandwich place locally has them for 2.5 RMB. Egg and pork and outside bread-like / bagle-like top and bottom. They don't eat cereal. I swear by it. I'm going gold turkey (slag) so far. Hong Kong had decent choices / selections of cereal. Not so much in Chengdu, other than in the gift show of Grandma's Kitchen. And, we saw a Beijing Grandma's Kitchen -- right next to the Olympic Venues. I didn't know it was a chain.

Good night.

Recent blog -- err "journal" entries are on paper and via my wife

My wife is keeping a journal and she has been logging lots of pages there -- on paper. Her stuff isn't crafted for the world to see, as mine flows.

But, another stream that she manages is email to those at home. When she is in a good mood and when I've been good (as I am generally), she'll CC me the messages for my awareness. Re-use, not so much.

Some snips from her about our recent days, edited some by the blog master, (me).
It is Thursday afternoon here (5am for you). We finally have email - it wasn't working at first. Actually, I'm not completely sure how we got on this time, so we'll see if I can get back on tomorrow! We are all settled in. The flight was easy and the driver met us at the airport. We were on a plane with many NBC reporters, USA Today reporters and quite a few athletes. It made for a very festive atmosphere.

We came right to our apartment. Grant started a nap that would last through the night. Mark went out and started to get to know the neighborhood (which includes a really nice WalMart!). He bought a bed (like one of the chairs that we take to the pool, but it stretches out to a long, canvas bed). We need this for Erik. Grant has the coach at night. Bedroom (room 2 of 2) has queen size bed.

Everyone is sleeping well. The apartment is great - very modern with lovely light wood furniture. Mark also got us phones the first afternoon which is great. ... You can call us if you like. (#s below / scroll down)

In the morning we ventured out into our neighborhood and found the little shops that have food cooking. We found a great place for "breakfast sandwiches". The people got a kick out of us - no other foreigners around this little neighborhood behind were we live. We've been there for breakfast each day and they know us now and are very friendly.

We spent part of yesterday buying bikes. We are great on our bikes. (Got plenty to say about bikes later.)

(She is wise to say little about the bikes until our return to keep worries at bay. But, she is right. We are great on the bikes. Erik and Grant are excellent. The New Zealand bike trip made them strong and wise. Here we are even on the right side of the road. Plus China has much less of a problem with drunks than US. Here the bike lanes a wonderful.)

- found the electronics district yesterday. When we went in to the "electronics mall" (largest in Beijing) some people were shouting at us and pointing us away from where we were going. We actually were with the landlord of the apartment and he just kept going, so we did, too. I couldn't figure out what was wrong and why he was ignoring them. On the next level, more of the same. Then I heard what they were shouting - "Dell", "Sony". These were all salespeople trying to guide you away from the competition and to their product. It was unbelievably noisy and visually busy. Pretty exciting. The boys want to go back to check out IPods and flash drives.

(Catherine said later that she was a bit scared upon our entry into the shops/mall. We went to the 4th floor, zip, zipping along. We (white folks) were ignored, helmets in hand. But our leader, a local, got the brunt of the 'welcome.' Catherine felt as if they were telling us to exit as something urgent and bad had just happened. Why would you want to go there -- in -- when a cyclone just ripped the top floors off this building or some other horrible news and gloom await just ahead. We dove in. I had a much better understanding of what was happening and wasn't at all perplexed. The boys and I had been frequent visitors and shoppers at the electronics mart in Chengdu. This one was very, very similar. Tip: this isn't like Best Buy in the states.)

This morning (Thursday) we set out at 6am (since we woke up around 4am) to ride our bikes to the Olympic venues to check things out. It took about 45 minutes (maybe a little less) and we were at the Bird's Nest - really exciting. It was really hazy here today - it will be interesting to see how all this weather turns out for the events. We rode bikes for about 4 hours checking out different venues - very exciting.

Back to Wal Mart today for shopping now that we have a working refridgerator (the new one didn't work when we got here). The boys met one of the medical trainers for the U.S. Diving team and a manager from the U.S. Field Hockey team. They were very nice (buying fans) and gave the kids Olympic pins.

(The apartment / bathroom has a single unit, pint sized) washer with a special supper spin cycle which partly dries clothes. Then clothes are hung in the window area (like a big bay window) and they are dry by morning. It's great to have laundry. (Catherine got it all to work -- despite the electronics / instructions being only in Chineese.)

We are on the 13th floor of the building (top floor). (No worries here about 13 being unlucky. That # is 4.) You'd never see a 13th floor in the U.S. It is neat to look out at dusk and into the night at the big buildings (neon and Chinese letters). We live right behind the big Microsoft China building.

The opening ceremonies are tomorrow. Everyone is very excited to see how it will go. There will be fireworks all over Beijing. Our first tickets are for waterpolo on the 10th. ...

Fireworks at 8-8-08 at 32 landmark spots around Beijing

The fireworks for the Olympic openings will also be sent off at 32
spots around the city.

Calling to China

The 011 = US exit code. It must be dialed first for all international calls made from the USA or Canada.

86 = the country code for China.

The city code the region of Beijing is 10. But, for a cell, that does not matter.

In China they have area codes of 2 to 4 digits.
In China, the phone numbers are from 6 to 8 digits.

Area Codes:
Anshan 412
HuaiYin 517
Tianjin 22
Beijing 10
Jilin 432
Weifang 536
Changchun 431
Jinan 531
Wuhan 27
Chengdu 28
Nanjing 25
Wuxi 510
Chongqing 23
Ningbo 574
Xi'an 29
Dalian 411
Qingdao 532
Xiangfan 710
Guangzhou 20
Shanghai 21
Yangzhou 514
Hangzhou 571
Shenyang 24
Yantai 535
Harbin 451
Suizhou 722
Zaozhuang 632
Huaibei 561
Tai'an 538
Zibo 533

To dial to China from USA, as we have a cell, I think, dial:

011 + 86 + 13520815205

My blog is working from within China. Wiki won't. We are here! BG08 excitement!

This blog post comes to you from our apartment in north central Beijing, just one long block north of the 3rd ring road. Microsoft's headquaters is just the next building. Many high tech universities are around.

Our phone numbers in China are:




To call us from outside of China, you'll need to enter the country code -- and I'm not sure what to tell you about that. We also can accept text messages. But, we might not reply as charges are steep and the dollar isn't like it used to be.

The travels and apartment is fine. Some stories will come in due time.

Beiing is sultry, to say the least.

Two suface to air missles are between the Water Cube and the Bird's Nest. Former President Bush is here already. We've seen a dozen or more athletes and dozens of others (managers, medical, IOCers, etc.) in our bounces around town so far.

The biggest news from us comes from Wal Mart. We have navigaged the city on bikes for two days and we are all still with all our limbs. We purchased three bikes. The fourth is ours on loan. Grant did wipe out over by the archery venue -- clipping a parked bike and taking a spill -- but going along at a slower speed.

With the bikes, it is as if the city was shrunk by a factor of 20. However, the city is about a gazillion times bigger than Pittsburgh.

Now -- to catch up on the rest of the email and the other blogs.

We do not have NBC TV here. So, where in the world is NBC's Today Show setting? Where is Matt Lauer? Updates welcome.

This city is buzzing. The place is exciting. We are having a great time. Stay tuned for more insights.

Tip on the opening on 8-8-08 at 8 pm: "Grand does not need to be long." Furthermore, the lighting of the cauldron isn't going to be such a big deal. Other, more important elements are going to be showcased.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Bruce Kraus is working on sound polution stuff

Bruce said the other night at the public meeting that he was not only trying to crack down on litter that fits under the windshield wipers and telephone poles -- but he is going to attempt to tackle 'sound pollution.'

Motorcycles. Trucks. Music from autos.

Watch out.

Well, I have one bit of advice. Send me the draft legislation before you go to far with the ordinance proposal. There is someone that lives in city council district 3 that is a worldwide expert in all things about hearing, noise, and hearing health.

You don't need to give the email to me -- nor post it in the message of this blog -- but that would help. You could just post it to the Director of Audiology at UPMC's Eye and Ear Hospital.

Suit yourself.

Travel on a budget to Beijing

From Mark Rauterku...

Getting to Beijing has been expensive.

The passports for the boys needed to be re-issued. You can't enter China unless you've got more than six months of valid time still on the passport. The boys, because the children grow so fast, need to get their passports renewed more frequently than adults.

Then there are charges for the visas. A service helps by standing in lines and speeding the process that might otherwise be impossible. Our passports, after getting stamped by the local post office, went to Miami, Florida, then to either Boston or New York. I forget. Then they came back to Pittsburgh.

All four of our passports went out in one envelope. But, they came back in two. First the boys then the adults -- about five days apart.

The cost for the kids was $505.00. The charge for the adults, $990. Plus, there were two or three overnight envelopes to pay for. The helper required the kid's original birth certificate and not a photocopy as had been presented earlier.

The visa and passports for China allow us one entry into China between now (July 28) and January 1, 2009. We get to stay for no more than 30 days.

Furthermore, the paperwork we needed to show included our round trip airline tickets. They want to know you've paid for your flight home. And, the home bank account information to prove that there is sufficient money in your home bank. Plus, we needed to show a lease as to where we would be staying while in China. Not just an address or a statement we'll be staying with friends. No, we provided a lease. And, with the lease a copy of the passport of our host and friend in Beijing.

In Beijing, I expect we'll need to check in with the local police department. That has been the case in the past. We'll also swing by the USA Embassy -- just to let them know we're in town. Nice to have friends.

The 'red tape' is easy to witness. But, we've got nothing to hide. We don't need to worry about going into or out of the country with more than $10,000. Not even close.

We've got a weekly budget. We know what we spend in the US for a weeks worth of food and groceries. We'll stay within 3-times that amount per week and will be on budget.

To make budget, we won't be going to McDonald's or KFC -- much. Those are expensive places.

When we went in the past, the US Dollar was much stronger. Europe is way worse. But in the early trips we used a factor of 1:8.1 RMB. That was $1 US dollar to 8.1 of the Chineese currency, called either 'yen' or 'RMB'. Now, it is much worse. We're in the 1:5 or 1:6 range.

In Pittsburgh, PNC Bank does not even hold onto the foreign currency from China. But many other money is available there. However, there is an exchange window in the Pittsburgh International Airport. They had an "olympic special' if you cashed in $1,500 USD. We'll had time to kill in D.C. before our plane left for Beijing. That's where we did the first wave of money transfers.

We've also got a bit of money tied up in travelers checks now.

China didn't take much plastic on our other visits. Visa is a sponsor -- and we are not to leave home without it. Yeah, right.

You've got to watch out so as to not get some bad money. A bank setting is going to be trusting for our comfort. However, there was only one bank in Chengdu that would cash our travelers checks.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Who will water the wiki while I'm away? Will you?

We worked throughout the summer to build a new wiki, It has grown to more than 1,000 pages. However, it needs some attention in the days and weeks to come.

Can you lend a hand and plug in a few comments and content mentons on existing or new pages there?

Use the search box. Read, edit, cut-and-paste pointers, expand.

I'm not able to see the wiki while in China. So, I'm going to be plugging away, but keeing the content local. Plus, I want to do more with photos and video. Less time for text.

Thanks for the help.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Carlynton Happenings saga is far from over

The saga in Crafton, Carnegie and R.Farms is far from over with the access to the facilities within the school.
Carlynton Happenings One director tells us how it is.....
“To think that limiting the debate on the issue would have somehow changed the outcome of the board’s vote is wrong.”

So says Carlynton director Patty Schirripa in a statement she circulated regarding her decision to push through the new facilities policy.
Check out that story.

Same on Marty Griffin of KDKA radio for not doing a segment on this subject after he had it already slated for three weeks ago. Marty! There is a tie in to local sports (swimming, baseball, soccer, gymnastics) and world affairs.

China has its hang-ups on power. And so do local school boards in the good ol US of A.

By the way, these blogs are not illegal school board members. Rumor has it that they were looking to 'sue' or 'shut down' the site(s) as they've become so frustrated with others knowing what is going on there.

We're at the starting line of our travels

We're on our way. Beijing, China, here we come.

This is our 4th trip to China. Our 5th over the Pacific. Or, around it. To get to Beijing, we'll fly to D.C. Depart early Monday. Then around noon we'll fly to Beijing, direct. The flight path goes over the North Polo. We've never gone from D.C. before.

On the way home, we'll fly to Chicago. Stay a day or two. Then come home. That will be in September.

Did I mention, again, that we have house sitters.

The photo above is on a running track outside a stadium in Chengdu. It is in the common ground area there. Imagine that around PNC Park and Heinz Field. Why not have a 'running track?' Golly. Kids could get some exercies. And, adults too.

China has had the Olympics on its mind for some time. They have put effort into hosting the games -- by making these tracks and fitness elements a part of the parks and landscape. We can learn a lesson about that. Around our stadiums, we're looking for more ways to serve beer and that's about it, if you overlook the casino.

We leave on the 4th. We'll get there on the 5th. The flight to Beijing is as long as four movies and a good long nap.

I've got my iPod loaded with some Free Talk Live radio shows. And, I've got my ear plugs. The kids and Catherine have those soft comfy neck pillows.

Last trip Catherine and I took was to Amsterdam in the spring. We flew in business class. Ahh. Those were the days. Now it is 'coach.' Love that name, coach.

Photos from the other vacation have arrived

From violin-gang

See the photo captions in the Picasa album for more details.

Erik Rauterkus and Amy Carol Webb jam at SUUSI before hundreds and get a standing ovation.

FWIW, are not bringing nor buying violins in China on this trip.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Olympic ticket scam dupes Australian, US and European fans | Herald Sun

Olympic ticket scam dupes Australian, US and European fans | Herald Sun Olympic ticket scam dupes Australian, US and European fans
Every party has a pooper. So sad.

China in China

China is getting set for 8-8-08. We are too. The boys are packed and at the park shooting hoops. Then it is off for some ice cream.

I'm trying to slay the dragon of digital dust.

Heard on some site (if one can do the 'hearing' via a posting) that there is a chance of rain on either 8-8-08 or 8-9-08. We'll have none of that as the world watches the kick off to the Olympics. So, it remains to be seen if the weather altering measures are going to be deployed by the authorities in China to insure that there will be no rain. You don't want to rain upon the parade. Literally.

There are ways that the China government has to bump the weather by seeding clouds and such. Wild, but talked about, if not proven.

The image above is a zodiac chart on a plate. I took the photo as it was for sale in an art market.

Now I'm dealing with a lot of round objects and trying to clean them up. Digital dust on the CDs, DVDs and mini-CDs for the campers and computers.

Then I called Curtis with the Ozanham Basketball program, all excited to say that Holder was listed in the Russian vs. USA basketball game box score. He already knew. He watched the game the other night at 3 am. Someone had tipped him off to the game time. Holder did start. He played some in Wilkinsburg then went to a private school for later in high school.

I'be been telling folks that the Olympics are going to be on the air via NBC for 212 hours a day, given all the various networks. You'll be able to see more of the games here, sitting in front of the TV than I'll be able to see in Beijing. That prediction came true even before we departed town as the games are being watched -- and I'm missing them to pack.

If you can -- set up a time for my and/or me and my boys to come to your school, your team or your neighborhood open house to present our views of the Olympics and Beijing upon our return in September.

Beijing, China - Basketball - Russia vs United States of America

Breaking Olympic News with a Pittsburgh twist: J. Holden, basketball player from Western PA, is playing for Russia in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
ESPN - 2008 Summer Olympics - Beijing, China - Basketball - Russia vs United States of America: "J Holden 37 7-17 1-7 2-2 2 5 7 1 2 0 5 2 17"
I finally got a peek at the box score and there he is. He didn't start. But, he scored 17 points in the game against the USA.

Want to know more about J Holden -- search my wiki.

We'll be looking for you to give him a big Ozanham hug!

Right direction: Roosevelt has made the tough calls for city schools

Original from July 28, 2008. Updated below.

Let's re-hash the P-G editorial on the boss of the Pgh Public Schools, Mark Roosevelt.
Right direction: Roosevelt has made the tough calls for city schoolsRoosevelt has proven that he knows how to make the tough, fiscally sound choices it takes to start solving the district's pervasive problems.
Roosevelt has made tough choices. These are choices that did NOT need to be tough. He made them very, very difficult.

Roosevelt has also proven that he is keen on not taking on the real problems: Oliver, Westinghouse, Langley and Peabody are the high schools that have been called 'drop out factories.' Nothing is being done with those schools -- that we can say is 'tough.'

Mr. Roosevelt choices do not start to solve the district's pervasive problems -- rather -- they work to terminate the district's successful schools. Frick Middle School has been a very good school. Schenley High School was the districts best school in some areas, and near the very top in other areas. Rodgers Middle School is another great school that is getting a whole different location, less access to theater spaces, less room for students, staff and programs. Likewise, Rodgers CAPA High School, the best performing school in the district should be expanding and it isn't.

Roosevelt is not dealing with the problems as much as killing the successful schools.

One problem was too many schools. Now Roosevelt is opening more schools.

One problem was schools with few students. Now Roosevelt is making smaller schools.

One problem was the capital expenses for school buildings. Now Roosevelt is putting high school kids into buildings designed for middle school students -- and making temporary schools (Reizenstein) that don't clear long-term locations.

Roosevelt has made tough choices -- because they are not logical. Reasoned leadership is absent.

We agree that the most significant buzz is the Pittsburgh Promise. That promise is but a 'cruel joke' as 20-percent of the kids from Pittsburgh that go to college stay in college. The rest flunk out. The promise isn't about the mission of the PPS -- to eductate kids from K to 12. It misses the mark with a lot of sizzle.

One way to narrow the racial achievement gap is to cause an exodus of those with the capability to depart the district to do so. To close the gap by subtraction isn't a victory in my book. Families are departing the city. That's the benchmark to measure again. Think again, PG editors.

To be specific, the district didn't release the numbers on the math and reading scores -- in full. We are still waiting for them. The raw numbers are hidden, just like the school board can't see the newly updated 'dashboard' that computerizes the results. Still in the dark and waiting. Watchdogs don't generally fall for that -- except the P-G.

Update: Since there was some discussion as to the source of the comments I made, here are a few photos from that event. Video might need to wait for a month.

From people & vips

From people & vips

CEO of Pittsburgh Foundation, Mr. Grant Oliphant, was the prime speaker to for Wireless Neighborhood annual meeting.

Woops. Sorry. I said that he was with the Heinz Endowments in the messages on this thread. Perhaps he worked there in the past.

former header info:

Ranked as high as the third most influential political blog in Pennsylvania. (September 2007).

Politics, sports and life with "running mates" and Mark Rauterkus.

Stood for public office in 2007 for Pittsburgh Controller and City Council (district 3).

The Reality Check covers Burgh: Specter Of Liberalism Haunts Pittsburgh

The Reality Check � Blog Archive � Specter Of Liberalism Haunts Pittsburgh: "Pittsburgh is being haunted by liberalism and the city is still spending money it does not have. A little couple weeks ago Mayor Luke Ravenstahl (D), the boy wonder, was concerned and fretting because many of his hopes and dreams were pinned to revenues projected from a new casino (being built by Don Barden) on the North Shore. This project had not only fallen behind schedule, but is now in the process of being transferred to new owners and delayed."

This is not the Water Cube

This is on Pitsburgh's North Side. It looks a bit like the BJ Water Cube in the background.

The World - Why China Has the Torch - 2008 Olympics and Human Rights -

Feature in NY Times about the Olympics and China.
The World - Why China Has the Torch - 2008 Olympics and Human Rights -“One World, One Dream,” is the official motto of the Beijing Olympics that open Friday, but the world has become considerably more complicated since the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2008 Summer Games to China seven years ago.
What do you think? I'm sorta busy packing and cleaning up my digital dust.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Plenty of pick-up trucks circle Reizenstein -- and those holes in the middle of the field!

On Friday we drove next to the Reizenstein School. Seems like we spent two days there in one mid-day crawl of traffic. The construction is happening at Baker's Square. The pick-up trucks, personal cars of workers, circle the Reizenstein Middle School.

Well, it is now going to be a high school -- except for 9th graders. But then it will be a middle school again, plus a high school. But then again, it is only a temporary school. So, I'm still not sure what to call it -- Schenley, Reizenstein, I.B. High.

But the sight of all sights was the digger out in the middle of the expansive side yard at Reizenstein. A boring machine was drilling one-foot wide holes into the grassy turf. These were digging the foundations for a row of trees that were being planted a few holes prior. The trees are 10 to 15 foot tall now -- and are smack dab in the fickin middle of the practice field for the sports team(s).

The bastards have gone and planted trees to obstruct sporting opportunities at the school site.

No softball there. No football practice there. No soccer practices there. No frisbee -- Bram! No hope for kite flying there with the Ben Franklin Electrolights either.

Are those trees in the middle of the field necessary?

Please explain.

Five gold medals. Today's swim meet recap

Erik, 13, got 3 golds and Grant, 10, got 2 golds and one silver at today's Citiparks Swim Meet. It is the championship meet for the City of Pittsburgh. The local team, the South Side Serpents, got 3rd place. More than 300 swimmers and 12 teams were part of the competition that stretched from 8 am to 3 pm at the 50-meter Highland Park Pool.

All in all, I was very impressed with the swimming from both Erik and Grant. All of their times were very close to best times.

Erik: 1:10 100 free (okay); 2:54.56 IM (38, 48, 48.8, 39.2 splits); and 1:30 100 breast.

Grant did a 44 50 back; 3:35.16 IM (54, 51, 104, 44.2 splits); and 50 in the 50 fly. Grant has made great strides in the fly tempo throughout the summer.

At the meet we got to talk to many parents from many different parts of the city. One nice conversation was with city councilman Ricky Burgess. His daughter was in the meet.

The team did get t-shirts!

From ormsby-serpents

The Ormsby Pool Team at Highland Park in 2008, called the South Side Serpents. The coach, M, is in the middle of the photo. Grant is far left. Erik is far right.

Next meet -- the Olympics.

Hot, new trick-or-treat costume: Fuwa

Beijing Olympic Games 2008 � Spare a thought for the fuwa volunteersSpare a thought for the fuwa volunteers
The first person to show up at our door for Halloween's Trick-or-Treat, that isn't a NBC employee, in this costume, gets a prize.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Last year we had t-shirts. Going to Citiparks Swim Meet on Saturday

From ormsby-serpents

I get to go to two more swim meets this summer. Tomorrow morning is the Citiparks Swim Meet at Highland Park Pool. The photo above was from last summer when the team had t-shirts. They are not expected this year. Oh well.

The next meet, the 2008 Olympics, also called, Games of the XXIX Olympiad.

Swim coach David Salo once told me that the Olympics is just another swim meet. He's right.

Good luck city swimmers. Hope all are able to finish the races.

Grant and Erik will swim three events each including the I.M.s.

This is a weird summer if not year in one dimension. Both of the boys have gone all year without being on a single relay with their club teams. Not one in the winter, summer nor the Citiparks meet. That's sorta sad. Last year there were plenty of relay splashes with the summer club team at Crafton and in the winter with Carlynton. Oh well.

For the sake of total honesty, this past winter, Erik was on middle school relay teams. Grant didn't swim a relay with his elementary school team.

Testing, 1, 2. Testing. Is this blog and wiki visible in China? Please ping me Peking!

To the best of my knowledge, neither this blog,, nor the wiki,, is able to be viewed in China.

In the recent days, some of the restrictions on various internet sites have been lifted. What about these sites?

Help if you can. Leave a message in the comments or send email to me,

Peace to all.