Saturday, October 17, 2009

Miscellany

There's really nothing terribly interesting to report here, but since it's been a little while since I have written anything about Life in Beijing, I thought now would be a good time to do just that. Since we got back from South Africa we have been blessed with pleasantly cool temperatures, and though the skies were initially rather grey and unattractive, they have since turned blue and gorgeous, almost as blue and gorgeous as they were in South Africa. This has meant that we have been able to trot out our leather jackets that we had a leather tailor make for us in April or so, just as it was getting too warm to wear them, and I have to say, they look great! I even got a compliment on the one I had made for myself from some stranger on the street last week!

The dogs are doing very well, and after our return they have been even more lovable and attention-seeking than ever. In fact Ivan, our new Sheltie puppy, has turned a big corner during absence, it seems: whereas prior to our trip he was prone to having accidents in the house, since we're back he has not had a single one, and he makes sure we know when he needs to go out. What a good boy! Now he's not just cute, he's smart, too!

Just before we left on our trip I decided to trade in my old indoor rowing machine for the Rolls Royce of the rowing world, a Concept 2. I managed to sell the old one on line through one of the expat bulletin boards, and place an order for the new one through the distributor in Shanghai. Sending a bank transfer from Beijing to Shanghai was a real test of my patience (though it was nothing compared to the difficulty I had sending a hotel payment to the place where we stayed in South Africa--sheesh, that was hard!!), but it worked, and sure enough they delivered it the Friday after we returned. It's a beaut, too! Not only is it nice and smooth, but you can connect it to your computer and upload your results to a website to track your progress, compete with other users, and play games. I love it!

We have also resumed our "Alphacise", of course. A number of new clients have signed up with the gym, and Alpha is now going to Chengdu twice a month to train some personal trainers out there in how to use his system. This means we have to adjust our schedules somewhat, since he tends to leave Saturday night and return Monday morning, but it's not that disruptive and he seems to enjoy it a lot.

In really exciting news, I have spent part of today going through my pantry to take stock of all the stuff that I have in there, since I am tired of finding that I rebuy the same things over and over again, resulting in my having loads of couscous and dried chickpeas. I'm also trying to use up the older things, which explains the proliferation of bean dishes that we enjoyed this week with our grilled chicken breasts and flank steak.

We have been enjoying several new shows of the fall TV schedule back in the US. In particular we really like Glee, Community, Modern Family and Cougar Town, and since it has the word "vampire" in it, J2 also likes The Vampire Chronicles. I'm still on the fence on FlashForward, but it might have potential. And of course I'm watching the new Amazing Race, which is hands-down my favorite reality show.

This past week we had our company midyear review meeting, which was just about the best one we have had in my memory. It's been a good half so far this year, and things look very promising for the rest of the year. I also attended my first HR conference, which I found very interesting, and which even vindicated having a non-HR guy running a company's HR function (as I'm doing). So, very useful!

I think that brings you up to date on our exciting lives. Keep those comments coming so I know what you're interested in hearing about!