Thursday, February 28, 2008

Where In The World Is Ryan?

I was asked where, exactly, is Suzhou? Well, there it is - the big red dot near Shanghai. If you look really close you can see me waving at you right now.

Cleanliness Is Next To...

In a factory setting we like to keep things clean. One of the requirements is that we wear booties over our shoes. This makes sense, right? The process goes something like this:

Come into the front door, go through the lobby. From there you go behind a badge-locked door into that area. As soon as you enter that area you must put the booties on, and keep them on as long as you are in that area.

That area also includes every place you may go to during a day at work. It includes the company store. It includes the cafeteria. And it includes the restrooms (which could be the subject of an entry all to its’ own).

One co-worker asserts that it is to ensure dirt in that area remains inside that area, and dirt outside that area remains outside…

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Multiple Monikers

It is a common practice for the Chinese that frequently work with Western companies to choose a Western name. This typically works well. I work with Frank, Henry, Kerry, Cindy, Arthur, Davis, and other assorted folks.

Occasionally a name is selected that causes you to ask yourself Did I hear that correctly? I am currently working with a Gentleman named Lovefree Wang.

Sounds like a Hollywood Blockbuster in the making - My name is Wang, Lovefree Wang....

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Chinese Eats

I do not think it is possible to be in China and not have an entry on the food.

Tonight we went out for some classic Chinese cuisine. I have to admit it was actually quite enjoyable. Do you think I will be hungry an hour later?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sounds of Suzhou (or Suzhou’s Unfinished Symphony in C Minor)

As I sit in the hotel I am serenaded by the sounds of Suzhou. The cars, trucks, buses, scooters, and occasional mopeds below bellow a melodic symphony through their horns. The sounds are accented by a crescendo of fireworks ringing out like gunfire at a redneck wedding.

I am softly lulled to sleep to the roar of the fireworks outside, only to awaken the next morning to the gentle rhythm from the cars below.

As for the Smells of Suzhou, that is a topic for another day…

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Return to China

It seems like just last month since I was last here. Oh, wait, it was last month. My variegated recollections are here:

Variegated Recollections

Since the flight itself is not quite long enough, we get the pleasure of a two-hour drive once we arrive in Shanghai to get to our final destination of Suzhou. Last night I finally checked into the hotel around 11:00pm, a mere 27 hours from the time I left the house in Kentucky.

Although some fog is present, the fog that plagued our arrival last month (Arrival in China) is thankfully missing. Hopefully this is a good sign, and all will go well.

Stay tuned for updates. ..

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Plethora of Pink

Today is Rachael's third birthday. With only one child, and that child being a girl, we have an overabundance of pink impedimenta. Often this superabundance hinders my manly character.

Many may feel that I exaggerate my plight. I will allow you to extract the authenticity of my claims.

This morning when Rachael awoke I took her downstairs to savor the joy of a wooden train set. She enjoyed playing with it. I am so proud! But wait - are those pink Disney Princess pajamas? Could this be a harbinger of things to come?No - I am getting carried away. After all, she is a girl. She should have some pink. I made her a hearty breakfast of artery clogging bacon and eggs, dismissing the thought.

Later we went to the Newport Aquarium near Cincinnati. Here is Kristin and Rachael walking towards the water. Could that be a pink Disney Princess jacket she is wearing?

After our voyage through the Newport Aquarium we took Rachael to Build a Bear. She picked out the bear she wanted. What color do you think she selected?
She found the bear a nice princess dress and named her Cinderella.

Back to the house. After cake and ice cream we opened presents. Is that pink Disney Princess wrapping paper I see?

....and yet another Disney Princess movie?

Well we are almost done. Let's open the presents from Mom and Dad. What a pretty pink blanket. Oh, no - are those Disney Princesses on that blanket?

Finally the last present. What could it be? How fun! A pink Disney Princess Dance Pad! With vexatious dance instruction DVD included.

In the interest of full disclosure I must confess, for I have sinned the manly sin. I did buy Rachael a pair of (minimally pink) Disney Princess shoes for her birthday - is there a support group for this?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Valentine

It is Valentines day. I am not the mushy sort. But in the immortal words of Depeche Mode - Though things like this make me sick, in a case like this I'll get away with it...

This is my wife Kristin. This is my blog, so I can write about her. She is the greatest woman and wife a guy could have, and I love her very much.

We met in college. At the end of the year prior to Kristin coming to the Colorado School of Mines our institute director told us that a new (female) student had transferred from Ricks College and would start the next semester. I will never forget the powerful thought, nay, prompting that came over me at that time:

Oh crap, I'm going to end up marrying her!

Kristin started the next fall. Since I was not ready to be married, I avoided her. I had big plans - I was going to fish every stream in America. Of course, once I got to know her I realized she was way out of my league. I did not have to worry any more. I let my guard down.

We went to a group activity together on Valentines Day in 1994. We went on our first date 4 days later. From that point on I spent as much time as I could with her. I went fishing over Spring Break and thought as much about Kristin as the fish. A month later we were engaged, and we were married for time and all eternity July 29, 1994.

I am so glad that we are together. We will have been married 14 years this July and I am more in love with her than I ever have been. She is a wonderful wife and an excellent mother. I look forward to many more years.

I love you Kristin.

And I appreciate your tolerance for my fishing, your willingness to travel so that I can fish every stream...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Today's Topic for Discussion

If Barbie is so popular, how come you have to buy her friends?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday Flies

As I was sitting in church today I looked around and noticed not one, not two, but three women knitting during the service. That prompted some perspicacious pondering. If these women can knit during church services, should I be allowed to tie flies during this time? I imagine I could build up quite an assortment of Caddis, Renegade, even (dare I dream) Woolly Buggers during these weekly gatherings.

My wife (who is much wiser than I) postulates that this thinking is not sound. She is right. But my Woolly Bugger dreams will live on....

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Morning at the Cemetery

In Kentucky there are a lot of cemeteries. There were cemeteries in Colorado, but not nearly as old as the ones you find out here. Since we like to take pictures, and there are cemeteries nearby, we decided to put the two together. Here are some results.

Click the photo to see the full size version.

Richmond Cemetery:
This is Rachael looking up at one of the monuments. It gives you an idea of the size.

Today's Topic for Discussion

Why did we figure out how to put a man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Today's Photos

One of the nice things about living in Kentucky is the close proximity to so many fun places. Here are a few photos from our trip to Niagra Falls last fall.

Click the photo to see the full size version.

Horseshoe Falls:

Rainbow at American Falls:

Double Rainbow at Horseshoe Falls:

Horseshoe Falls at Night:

Horseshoe Falls at Night:

American Falls at Night:

Dressin' Up

Have you ever had one of those days where you just want to be comfortable? Tired of getting all gussied up to go out? You are not alone.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Gettin' Hitched!

We have come across the superlative wedding guide. Those of us in Kentucky feel downright warm hearted as we observe these intimate affairs. For those blessed with 500 channels of nothingness, turn your attentions to CMT. That's right, CMT. This is a station that I would typically avoid at all costs. But no more, I have found the reason for its' existence.

Set your DVRs to record My Big Redneck Wedding. From the CMT website:

CMT gives a whole new meaning to for better or for worse. After scouring the country to find the most down-home country couples, CMT documents their journey down the aisle, as outrageous and over the top as it might be. Each episode, hosted by Tom Arnold, will feature a different redneck wedding, each with its own rustic eccentricities, whether it is a four-legged best man, a romantic beer can canopy, a celebratory shotgun salute or a reception filled with mattress surfing and mud wrestling.

It is a touching look into the fragile lives of the sweet bride and groom as they prepare for and celebrate their nuptials. From the lively bachelor party (where apparently you celebrate by shooting each other with fireworks) to the heartwarming vestment selection at the Wal-Mart (did you know that Camo is this year's black?) the show will move all who watch.

I'll let you decide where it moves you too...

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Skunked - A term used to describe a day of fishing without actually catching fish.

That is what I was taught growing up. But did you know that Skunk also refers to a particularly odoriferous animal? Belle (our Yellow Lab) made this discovery last night.

We were sitting in the living room, Belle was outside. All of a sudden Kristin and I both detected a repulsive stench. Belle was nowhere to be seen. Shortly thereafter she appeared at the door.

We figured if there was a skunk outside, we should probably let Belle inside the house so that she does not get in trouble. This makes sense, right? WRONG!! Turns out, she had already investigated the pungent beast.

Did you know that skunks have a very different smell when fresh? That scent that impregnates the air when driving by a skunk on the side of the road is downright flowery compared to the putrid aroma that now permeates Belle and the house.