Friday, June 27, 2014 how the time flies.....

I realize that it has been almost four months since I've sent an update!

First off, let me apologize to everyone for not being able to see everybody when I was back in April.  The good news is, I'm less than 60 days from my August trip home!
The other big news, is that I was promoted to the General Manager of the business unit.  The announcement was made internally in March and went public in April of this year.  I'm humbled and excited for the new opportunity!  We're incredibly busy here, and just booked an order that will keep us occupied till the end of 2015. 
I have had a lot of friends leaving China.  My friends Susan and WIll completed their stay and headed for Russia and then Europe. They were some of the first people I met here and I'm going to miss them a lot!  Fortunately, they have introduced me to some other expats that I'll get to know better as time goes on.  Their last day here, they bought me supper at the new Westin Hotel in QIngdao.  It was VERY nice inside!    My Yoga instructor and her husband will be leaving, and my other friends Jennifer and Conor will be headed back home too. 
Updates from me are fairly sparse, mainly because life is pretty 'normal' now here.  I went to a photography expo in late February of local photographers.  It was funny to see many people entering stuff that they took on an iphone, and once its blown up to 2'X3' how pixelated it becomes.  My friend Rita actually shot with a DSLR and won 2nd place! 

In March, I took the guys picking strawberries.  The cost was high and the strawberries have no flavor in China.  The weather has been 95 some days, and then we'll get a rain and it will be 60 degrees the next.  Its cherry season right now so Cherries are everywhere.  Last week on the hottest day, I bought 20 watermelons and took them back to the office and let everyone have some watermelon to cool down and enjoy a nice piece of cold watermelon to cool off from working in the factory.  I made a trip to Yantai about 2 weeks ago, and took half a dozen young folks from the office to show them the shipyard and let them see up close the products we build and what a drilling rig looks like.  Many of these guys never get the chance to go out and see for themselves, they are told what to do/draw/design and sit behind a desk all day.  Next weekend, I'm taking the guys to go paintballing.  In March, we organized a factory wide tug of war between different departments.  That was a lot of fun!
More updates later!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Back in the saddle!

Howdy All,
Thought I'd share with you guys my updates for 2014!

It sure has been a while! 

Since my last update, I was homeward bound, but I had to stop in Beijing and have the year end meeting and finalize our company budget for 2014 (very late I know!)
I ended up being in Beijing for almost 10 days and having to go to the office and wait on everyone else, as the officers wouldnt let anyone go till the budget was completed.
Back across the pond, it was great to land, go see my mom and stepdad and have some Taco Bell.  I'm glad I got to see many of you when I was home, but some others, I apologize for not getting to tag up.  It was a perfect storm of the holidays, seeing people, and trying to get the house back in order after the flooding from the summer!  I'll be back more in 2014, so let's make plans!
I arrived back in China in early January, and it was kind of sad getting back here, away from home and my friends, but after a few days of seeing Kody again and hanging out with my friends here in Qingdao, I've started to feel more normal again.  January was spent playing 'catch up' and visiting places in town, as well as taking my department out for Chinese new year activities.  We chose bowling and dinner.  Now, we all know how to act at the bowling alley right?  Everyone enter your name in the computer, take turns and bowl, consdering the person next to you before you throw your ball.  Not so much here.  We pulled up and as soon as i paid, all of my guys went up and started grabbing bowling balls and everyone was just going.  Doesnt matter whos turn it was, just throw the ball.  I had to explain to people that they needed shoes and put their name in the computer for scoring.  They ignored it and just went as they pleased.  Later at dinner, I found out for 80% of the people, it was the first time they've ever bowled.

I'm really happy that I have been learning the streets and now can go into the city and get around to places I normally go to, without the help of a GPS.  My friend Susan and I found a restaurant close to the ocean called "The Diner" that has excellent burgers and Pizza, as well as their own beer they brew in house.  We've gone a few times and it's been nice to have some decent western food.
Many of you know, that Chinese New Year (aka Spring Festival) has just finished here.  This was a 10 day holiday and I was able to do some exploring, as well as 'get out in the crowd' to see what the hustle and bustle is like.  Its very much like the holiday season at home.  Stores full, roads quiet, and people everywhere.  I enjoyed it, but it was also nice to stay home and sleep in late, take naps and stuff.  I did go venture out and do some road trips over the holiday,  we went to Jimo, a small town close to where I live, and went to the Hot Spring resort.  There are tons in the area, and they're mostly hotels with the resort side attached.  The resort consists of a series of rooms each with a large pool and smaller hot tub sized pools, and all the water is from the hot springs, so it was nice and warm.  We went early in the day, and while it was nice, it was very crowded by lunch time.  We were able to find a hot tub outside, where the water was 110 degrees (very warm!) and it was 30F outside.  By the time we left, the water didn't look so clean, but that was to be expected with the number of people that were there.  So travelers tip:
Go really early in the morning and shower well when you leave.
Kody and I also were able to climb the FuShan mountains with my friends Rita and her husband Franz.  IT was an awesome climb and nice to get some physical activity!
On Chinese New Years eve, my Korean neighbors invited me over for a traditional Korean dinner. We had chicken soup, and assorted Korean meats and other noodles. It was very nice!  Then the fireworks went on, pretty much for 4 days.  It got to the point where I was used to hearing them when I went to bed!

We were able to get the superbowl here, and I made a big pot of chili and some 'no knead' bread from a recipe my mom gave me from a few years ago.  It was nice to sit around and watch the lopsided game and have chili and bread.  It felt so 'normal'!

We were going to take a trip to Yantai to see the city and visit the wine museum, but guess what? We got SNOW!  QIngdao usually gets snow but very light.  We did not get ANY snow this season, but we were hit with two very nice snow showers that was just enough to coat everything with white powder and make everything look pretty.
The only new and exciting thing I have to report, is that I joined a crossfit group in China, as well as Yoga classes!   I love both, and it feels good to get back into the physical activity, especially with the cold weather and the early sunsets!  I'm starting to cycle again, so I can be ready for the MS150 when I'm back in April.
Take care and gig'em!