Thursday, August 07, 2008

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. ...

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