Tuesday, July 29, 2008

One Week to Lift-off

Nihao (Greetings),

The trip is getting closer now. I have most of my widgets and gadgets working to make posts and I am calling AT&T to add an international data and text package tomorrow. Most of my students have responded to the invitation to "befriend" me on Facebook and I have found long lost friends and family I haven't spoken with in too long (thanks, Evie).

I've been doing some research. The Chinese are a very courteous and giving people. There is an understanding that if a gift is given, a gift is given back to show reciprocal appreciation and gratitude. We are bringing gifts to show gratitude and based on the host's ideas. We would not go there empty-handed and we may as well bring what they could use or wanted. Jeans, cargo pants and shorts, logo t-shirts, especially with coca-cola on them, quarters of the states (minted in Colorado or Philly), chocolate, and knives made the short list (can you fly with knives?). It is also a status symbol to have alcohol from the US, even empty bottles. I have two bottles to bring. One for them, one for me...both full.

We also have more tickets to events. Track and field, softball, and of course volleyball. Some of our hosts stood in line for hours in 90 degree weather to score tickets for us. And now, the 2008 Beijing Olympics is officially a sell-out. The first ever believe it, or not.

As for food, I will post a few pictures of the delicacies that can be found in and around Beijing. A warning...they are not for the faint of heart. I had also heard that horse has been approved for selling as meat in China during the Olympic Games, but not dog. Whew!

There are a few things I know about the first few days...Friday, August 8th will be a free day to acclimate ourselves and tour the local street merchants and then, of course, watch the opening ceremony fireworks from the condo. On Saturday, we have a VERY busy day. Starting early A.M. we will be transported by a cousin to the Great Wall and possibly Ming's Tomb. We'll return to the condo early afternoon to freshen up for a special dinner at one of the most famous Peking Duck restaurants in Beijing. Then, we'll be dropped off at the Center for Performing Arts for the Cincinnati Orchestra at 7:30PM. Yes, we are going to China to see the Cincinnati Orchestra at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_National_Grand_Theatre
After the performance, we will stroll through Tiananmen Square and down the famous Changan Jie. (Long Peace Street). This is the largest square and widest street in the world. From there we can take a taxi to either one of China's bars, a disco bar, or home.

As you can see, the people who invited me to join them have been very helpful and one is a Chinese National who speaks the Mandarin language. It is her family that is hosting us in Beijing including letting us take over their condo and transporting our small group to the Great Wall, Forbidden Palace, etc. We do have homework and that is to watch the movie The Last Emperor. "It is a dramatic history of Pu Yi, the last of the Emperors of China, from his lofty birth and brief reign in the Forbidden City, the object of worship by half a billion people; through his abdication, his decline and dissolute lifestyle; his exploitation by the invading Japanese, and finally to his obscure existence as just another peasant worker in the People's Republic." Written by http://www.imdb.com/SearchPlotWriters?Martin%20H.%20Booda%20%7Bbooda@datasync.com%7D

It is "a biography of Aisin-Gioro "Henry" Pu Yi, who at the age of three was named the Emperor of China, and dies as a gardener at the Botanical Gardens of Peking. The movie is told in an interesting flashback/flashforward style, we learn of Pu Yi's childhood, the time he spent imprisoned in the Forbidden City, his term as the emperor of Japans Manchuguo, and his eventual release back to public life in 1959." Written by mailto:%7Bcst@imdb.com

Okay, time to go. Talk at you all later.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Helpful Friends

As the time to fly to Beijing draws near, some people who have been to China or heard about life in that country have been trying to give me pointers. Everything from sights that shouldn't be missed to advice about bartering with the locals, all the food and drink to avoid while never being caught without bottled water, the lack of personal space issues, the fact that China will be fully 12 hours opposite of Ohio on EST (midnight there is noon here). So, the bigger suitcase (yes, I broke down and hauled it out of the attic) now houses Pepto Bismol in tablet form, sleep aids, ear plugs, antibiotics, first aid kit, more Carribeaner clips that I have stuff to clip on, enough microfiber clothing to open my own travel shop, and all the lastest music on my IPod including a downloaded audiobook that will provide me with 11 hours of listening (unabridged) and that's just a sample.

But perhaps the most valuable pieces of advice involved basic survival techniques. The newest and larger suitcase now houses a shoebox full of food. Tuna pouches, granola bars, M & M's (plain and almond), poptarts, and cheese crackers. Nestled right next to that box is my own stash of flushable Charmin wipes. Clear necessities in a land that has different priorities apparently. If you saw my post on Facebook, you would have seen the Chinese Squat Toilet. I will repost here so you don't have to go searching. I am hoping that all the trudging around my yard mowing grass and moving 50 bags of mulch this summer will give me the leg strength (if you will), should I come across this little slice of Chinese life.

Maybe I need two suitcases...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Celebduck Fundraiser

Just wanted to mention that my friends at Game Day Communication dragged me to the Celebduck fundraiser at Newport on the Levee. This is a fundraiser to help the Freestore/Foodbank which is a very worthy cause in Cincinnati. I understand they raised approximately $20,000 that will feeed hundreds of families in the coming year. It was great fun and of course that's where I bid on and won Madeleine Albright (1st woman US Secretary of State) and Bronson Arroyo (Red's pitcher who they are shopping around...and he's won what...5 games in a row? Last, but not least, Twitter is working as is my MMS for mobileBlogger where I can upload photos. So far...

Be careful out there! And if you have any other items, bring them to the Freestore. It is always appreciated!

NBC Olympic News and Videos

Great site for info on USA and international athletes

Exclusive Summer Olympics news & widgets at NBC Olympics.com!


Okay, some things are falling in to place. I finally got Twitter to work but visualTwitter has been frustrating. Blogger.com has a mobile media tool so I may work with that too. I should be able to link to this blog as well. One of the questions has been internet access in Beijing. I'll get my answer soon enough (after getting to the condo 14 hours later). Some folks have said to text the blog on my cell phone. Are you kidding me. It takes me 10 minutes to write 1-2 sentences. You figure out the math.

On the upside, our new Sport Management faculty member, Dr. Don Lee put his Chairperson on his reference list. It turns out that Dr. James Zhang is managing the Basketball venue at the Wukesong Culture and Sports Center. He will give me a behind the scenes tour and I will post the pictures next to this post. I also got back in touch with a former volleyball colleague, Bob Gambardella Director, Sport Partnerships, United States Olympic Committee. He was formerly at West Point until his various involvements with USA Volleyball and the USOC. I already have tickets to some of the volleyball matches and will see him there. Most recently, I met Dr. Brad Vickers from Mississippi State via the University of Georgia (doctoral work) and he is doing a study on Self-Presentation Strategies of the USA Men's and Women's Olympic Teams. The purpose of this project is to gain a better understanding of self-presentation strategies utilized by elite coaches during a global competition to more effectively perform their duties as a coach. The hope is that this information will enhance our understanding of the ways in which elite coaches portray themselves in order to gain access to information from athletes and other coaches. I get to do the literature review and he gets to do the fun stuff. I'm going to try and get in to the venue to say hi and if I can help him. Security is usually very tight the first few days and then will relax a bit.

I spoke with Jeannette Bryson, the Mounts Media Relations Manager, and she is trying to pitch a story to the Cincinnati Enquirer. You know...local prof doing the techie thing from Beijing. Nobody said it HAD to work.

I find it interesting how anonymous this blogging experience feels except everything written and posted can be seen by ANYONE including my employer (the Mount) and future contacts and career poosibilities. My rule of thumb is not to say anything I couldn't say to my mother. She's pretty cool but she could still wash my mouth out with soap...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Nation's Capital

Washington, DC was very different from the last few times I was there. The National Mall was trampled from the 4th of July celebrations and I lamented the fact that you can no longer climb the Washington Monument (my brother and I did waaaaaaay back when and it took around 45-60 minutes to get to the top if I remember correctly). But walking the 5 mile Mall loop was very cool at dusk. You can stand in front of the Smithsonian and see the Capital to the left and the Washington to the right. We then walked past George's spot and the Reflection Pool to the World War Monument that represented every state and had tons of fountains. It was beautiful. Behind there to the right is the Vietnam Memorial and then the Lincoln Memorial back to the left. Past Lincoln is the Jefferson Memorial. You have to do this trip at least once. Impressive is an understatement.

I was actually there for the NASPE (National Association for Sport and Physical Education) meeting. This was my first official meeting in what wil be a three year stint. The next one will be in Tampa at the AAHPERD national convention. There are folks from all levels of sport and physical education helping to identify issues and needs in this area of education. My role is in youth coaching education. We wrote some position statements, nominated individuals for national awards, planned convention details, and networked. The Mall loop walk was a bonus for getting lots of work done and getting out early on that day.

Actually before the walk marathon, we dropped by the Verizon center (where Georgetown, the NHL Capitals, and WNBA Washington Mystics play. The Mystics were playing the Detroit Shock. It was a blow-out with the Shock up 26. We left at the half and started the walk.

All in all, a very productive weekend... Then I got home, reality set in and I cut the grass.


Here is the NBC link to the Olympic Games.

Exclusive Summer Olympics news & widgets at NBC Olympics.com!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Windy City

First of all, Chicago isn't all that windy. I think it actually ranks 14th or so but who am I to change their name. Maybe 'Big Lake City' or 'Tall Buildings City'. At least more emphasis on the 'City of Big Shoulders'. That has a nice feel. It was great to go back through the Field Natural History Museum where 'Sue' the 67 million year old T Rex found in Faith, SD is housed that was found in 1990. She's named for her discoverer, Susan Hendrickson.

There is a pretty cool Egyptian exhibit and an Amercas exhibit that has one of the finest Anasazi pottery (Southwest Native American) collections. The kids were bored with that of course but they were pretty impressed with 'Sue' and the two huge taxidermied mammoth-sized elephants as you walk in the front doors. Everyone is also blown away by the sheer numbers of dead, stuffed animals both big and small in the animal exhibit. Many were collected in the 20's and 30's and still there. Haven't moved since I was a kid. I don't think you can do that anymore given that some of the species are lost forever. I heard recently (on NPR of course) that more than one and one-half million species exist on the earth today. However, recent estimates state that at least 20 times that many species inhabit the planet. AND, 1000 species in the world are endangered. Other thousands disappear every year never to be seen again. Okay, so now YOU are bored.

Then it was off to the Museum of Science and Industry the next day. We went into the coal mine and watched the chicks hatch. That place is more kid friendly. The Cirque du Soleil was fabulous and a must see for anyone in proximity. Some of the stuff they do makes your mouth hang open. Not very attractive, but unavoidable.

Finally, Monday was down in my hometown of Joliet which is about 30 miles south of Chicago. My brother gave us his front row third base side tickets. I put my beverage on the dugout and enjoyed the Joliet Jackhammers who lost in 12 innings 6-3. I even brought my own glove. The Jackhammers are kind of between an A and AA league and I found out that there GM left for the Florence Freedom so SHE is now in this neck of the woods.

One of the big questions answered was my packing. I think it's going to work. I have feeling that schlepping my bags aroung Beijing will be a pain so packing less clothes and more deoderant sounds good.

Friday, July 11, 2008


I'm in Chicago experimenting with my new widgets. I ran to Sam's Club and bought the FLIP. I took some video at the Museum of Science and Industry and am heading out the door for the Field Natural History Museum. Then it's Cirque de Soleil at the United Center (go Bulls!). So lots of stuff going on. I sent facebook invites to the Mount Sport Management majors and then some... Not surprisingly, most were already registered. I'll try Twitter while I'm out today. VisualTwitter is still a bust. User error, I'm sure!

The packing thing is going pretty well. I got everything I need in that little suitcase. Now I will have to fit my computer in there. I guess I will have to do with a few less outfits. Are two enough for 11 days?

On the upside, our visas are in and that will get us in the country. The question is...can we get out. I'm not LOL.

Monday, July 7, 2008


I stopped by Dick's Sporting Goods to look for inground basketball systems for my son and ended up with 2 new pairs of shoes and lots of microfiber clothing for me. The basketball thing will have to wait. So I have this vision of dragging luggage around a very crowded Beijing and through the narrow corridors of their streets. The vision also includes miles of walking. My goal is to pack in one small carryon and carry my computer and gadgets in the one other item I am allowed. That will be a backpack for cameras and adapters, Flip, microphone and IPOD accessories. I have already spent about 10 hours loading new music and playlists. That was fun. I'm a bit OCD with that stuff. If I even think I might want to listen to a song, I have to find it and sync it. I also spent awhile on the phone with my phone carrier AT&T. In addition to upgrading my text package, I'll need an unlimited web browser package and right before we leave, I'll add the international data and text package. Sheesh. Glad I started a few weeks ahead of time or I'd be SOL.

I've been watching all the footage for the qualifying meets and trials that I can find. I was really impressed with Dara Torres and Michael Phelps and am glad that Tyson Gay will be back in time from his inury to compete. I have a few contacts working some of the venues over there. Maybe I can talk them into a facility tour or a pass especially for swimming. That is a really fast-paced and exciting sport that I haven't seen firsthand at the Olympics.

The visualTwitter is still causing me trouble. Hopefully, after visiting my tech savvy brother in Chicago this week, I will have that bug worked out. In theory and on paper, I'm in good shape. Reality however, usually throws curveballs and changeups.

Friday, July 4, 2008

First Steps

So...I have been spinning my wheels trying to figure out how to do what I said I was going to do in China at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. That is; blog, podcast, post video and photos. Let me just say that it pays to have nice friends. In the course of an hour or two, and at the cost of two bottles of wine, I have a brand new spanking FACEBOOK page with podcasting applications and photo capabilities, a video, 4 new friends, and a brother who have joined. I'm tired now but in case you missed it, Chestnut won the annual hot dog world championship. It should be an Olympic sport...