The number one tourist attraction in China is the great wall. I haven’t been there yet. I’ve seen several documentaries on the subject though, and I really enjoyed them because the physical investment is substantially less than actually going. I’ve done plenty of walking mind you. Perhaps I’ll have the opportunity to visit the wall before I go, but if not that’s fine too. I’m very content to have spent my time here as I have.

I’m at a very interesting time in my journey. Today is the day that “the customer” will decide if we are going to do business or not. I’ll find out if I have the opportunity to visit the other parts of China that I want to see, or not. It’s a very surreal time I assure you.

The past three months have come and gone so quickly. Perhaps too quickly! Now don’t get me wrong, I’m ready for a trip back to the states. I could really go for some real beef, milk, and mac & cheese right now. But at the same time I’ve found myself to be totally captivated by this place and the people here. And my new friends here would be missed should my adventure be finished. I feel like my daughter feels when she’s playing with her friends and it’s time to go home. No wonder she hates that time! Guess I’ve forgotten how bad it sucks!

I guess the point of this introspective is that I’m really glad I came. My life has changed forever once again. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed throughout the day until I get the decision. I’m sure you can read about the outcome here soon.

My country really is full of dumb asses! I weep for the future. (Note the date of this post… Obama just got elected…)

I just heard that some poor, pathetic, lifeless soles out there actually believe that I am in fact NOT in China and make it a point to spread this information like manure on a field. I’m relieved that they’ve figured me out. I’m even more happy to know that they have nothing better to do than think of little old me. I must apologize though, I have to get back to work. My new full time job is photoshopping my face into other people’s pictures of China. I sure enjoy my new job!

Well so much for keeping the blog up to date! Anyone who knows me knows that I would much rather go out and experience the world than write about it. Let this site serve as an example!

I’ve seen a great many things since the last update. Of those the most impressive so far was the trip to Nanjing. Nanjing is one of the oldest capital cities in China. The city also has so much history that one could spend years researching there. For the sake of time, you can learn more here at wikipedia.

Our main attraction for this adventure was a place called Purple Mountain. This is the resting place of Dr. Sun who is regarded as the father of modern China. It was an impressive site indeed. Many photos from the trip can be found here.

We followed that trip up with a second visit to Shanghai. I think we did it mainly to prove that we could get there ourselves. Besides, it’s fun to hang out with 18,670,000 people. I will get pictures of that adventure up ASAP.

I had the pleasure of meeting the parents of my cadet Emily also. They speak no English, so it was up to Emily to translate. They are wonderful people and very generous. I’ve been invited to their home town of Xi’an, which is the capital city of Shaanxi province. The history buff will know this as the home of the Terracotta Army. I think this will be one of my favorite trips yet and I’m very excited to have been thought of so highly.

This coming weekend we will have an exciting adventure as well. The owners of my company, Pierre and Patrick, along with Matt, Colin and myself will visit the town of Guilin. I promise some of the most amazing photographs yet from this trip. Any true geek will know that this location provided footage for the planet Kashyyyk in Star Wars III. (That would be the Wookie planet)

After that, it’s back to Nanjing and Shanghai. Then, we will head north to Beijing. In case anyone is wondering… no, I don’t get very much sleep here.

My study of the common language is coming along as well. I’ve learned to read just like the grade school kids and have build a solid foundation from which to learn. As with most things I learn, it’s starting to come much faster now that I have the rules down. I really can’t wait to go out for Chinese in the states and whip out my new skills!

Oh yeah… Work! Work goes well. No point in talking about the details here, but I continue to enjoy collaborating with the fine people at Caterpillar Suzhou.

Well enough of this for now. As always I hope everyone back home is in good health and enjoying life. Peace on earth and good will towards men. Potomuss out!

After two weeks of frustration, I’ve purchased a new camera. It seemed a waste to miss out on all the amazing sights and the little dude just wasn’t cutting the mustard. Picked up a nice Nikon D80 and an 8G card. Battery lasts forever and it holds about 450 shots at 10Meg each. Rock and freakin roll! The first set of results are HERE. Attempted several time laps shots among other things. You can also see our Chinese cadets trying Mexican food for the first time, as well as our latest meal. (And some people actually thought we were going to starve! I’m telling you… goose liver sauce is the bomb!!!)

We’re planning a trip to Nanjing this weekend, so I probably acquired the new photo rig just in time. No dead battery an hour into the trip this time!

Everything is going very well. It’s still hot as hell, but I’m slowly getting used to it. I don’t start sweating the second I turn off the shower anymore. Will update again after Nanjing unless something interesting happens!

Cheers!

This place is amazing. Jet lag is pretty much gone, although I do have some odd days when for no apparent reason I’m wide awake at 5am. I’ve seen so much and have gotten so far behind on my updates here. I guess there’s just been too much to do! So that being said, here is a quick summary for the main categories of my life in China.

Work

The people at the company we are here to work with are amazing. Everyone here treats us very well. Our meetings are very productive and I think they are learning as much from us as we are from them. We attended the celebration for the raising of the first pillar for the new plant. They had lots of fireworks of course. You can find pictures from that event in the gallery. We’ve gone to eat with several of the guys from here as well. Dinner is always a good time!

Living

I’ve gotten pretty good at getting around. I walk more than I ever have. Not because I have to but because sometimes it’s just easier. I’ve gotten really good at running the taxi as well. Did my first EMT service the other day when a girl on a scooter got hit by a car. I rolled up and there was an english speaker who also spoke good Chinese. I asked if she was an EMT and she said no. I did a quick assessment and determined that without a doubt that she had a broken leg. Said she didn’t hit her head. Leg was not compound, but deformed. They informed me that it couldn’t be broken because she stood up once. I told them not to let her do that again. Emergency medical care here would make any U.S. EMT cringe. Have a friend named Thomas who has been very kind about teaching me some survival skills. Got propositioned by several hookers. Tried a million different kinds of food. Had Burger King in Shanghai! I’m going to buy a new camera soon so my photography should take a major step forward.

Not a whole lot to cover really. Matt and I are planning a couple of trips in the future. My main goal right now is to do my job, learn Chinese, take lots of pictures and enjoy my time here. I believe none of that will be a problem!

Keep an eye on the gallery. I just put some more up today and will be adding regularly!

Peace out!

p0s


I boarded a plane from Peoria, Illinois for a two hour flight to Atlanta, Georgia. There I took a train from one concourse to another where I boarded a Delta Boeing 777-200 for the trip to Shanghai. This plane is huge. (Note to self… bring snacks next time!)  During the sixteen hour flight, I had the pleasure of meeting Becky and Emma. They are a mother and daughter traveling from Maryland to Becky’s home in China. Becky is a Chinese citizen who is married to a US doctor. Emma is a US citizen born in America. I had a wonderful conversation with Becky about differences between the US and China. Emma, upon first impression, is a shy five year old lady. Then I got to meet the real Emma who is by no means shy! Boy what a swell kid. She amazed me with her knowledge of her family which is distributed throughout America, Europe, and China. What a great opening to the trip.

Upon arrival in Shanghai, I had the immediate realization that I wasn’t in Illinois anymore. Of course the most noticeable difference being the fact that 99% of the people were Chinese. We passed through customs with no problems. Everyone seems to be very nice.

I’m noticing something else. The people working in and around the airport are all young and clean cut. It is apparent that the Chinese are very particular about who is representing them to new arrivals.

We meet with Colin Wong, our company asset in China. Colin and his driver are going to take us for a two hour drive to Suzhou. This is where the fun begins! For the uninitiated, driving in China is a whole new experience. I lost count of how many times I thought I was going to die. And those painted lines that denote lanes… more like a guideline than anything. Colin thought that next time we should have a drink at the airport before the drive to Suzhou. I agree.

We arrive at the hotel and are surprised (sarcasm) to find that the wire transfer from work has not come through. The next thought was that we will secure the rooms with our personal credit cards. Sorry, but I don’t think my daily limit is going to work for a three month hotel stay. Not even in China. Eventually Colin gets us taken care of and we get to our rooms. I don’t even bother to really check it out as I’ve been up for twenty four hours and all I really want is a shower. The water smells a little funny. It doesn’t feel dirty, just smells funny.

All cleaned up and time for dinner. Colin picks us up and we head across the street to the restaurant. There we meet Alan, Oliver, and Emily. These are our new company cadets. Alan is very quiet. I think Oliver has a permanent smile on his face. Emmy is equally outgoing and kind. So here sits the whole team for this adventure. I don’t think I could ask for a more wonderful group. Throughout dinner Oliver and Emmy were having a great time exploring the differences between China and America with me. Oliver really wants to work on his English, so we agreed that he would help me with Chinese and I will help him with English. Emily also helped me to properly pronounce schezwan. (As in schezwan beef) Although I found myself feeling very far from home, I also felt a profound sense of excitement and comfort. That this is going to be one of the greatest experiences of my life.

After dinner we stopped at a small store to get some essentials. I’ll have to go back and shop some more, but had a great time identifying US products with Chinese packaging. The good news is that they have my brand of toothpaste, soap, and shampoo here!

Next, Colin takes us for a quick drive around Suzhou. I will have to take the time to photograph this place, but let me assure you that this city as absolutely astounding. One word, lights. I could go on forever just describing what I saw in the next half hour, but I’ll just get some pictures instead. This place is truly amazing. I love it here.

Back home for sleep now. I’ve been up for at least 28 hours and have only slept for about an hour before leaving. Sleep comes quickly. Oh yeah, and the floor feels like its moving. You know, like the plane.

Pictures are in the image gallery.

Yeah… time just seems to roll on by these days! Since it’s been about a year since my last update, here it goes:

  • Passed all firefighter II tests and practicals and have been certified by the state of Illinois as such. Also passed HAZMAT awareness (9hours) and Technical Rescue Awareness (9hours). Since then, have completed several other trainings such as grain bin rescue, fire college, tactical smoke reading. Will be taking HAZMAT Operations in January. Yay! Once step away from being a glow-stick!
  • Purchased a new ham radio for the truck and have been playing some pretty cool ham games. I’ve got it dialed in now so I can tap into every spotter net in the area when bad weather comes. In addition, several of my fellow firefighters have stepped up and taken the spotter class. Dana never had this kind of storm spotter prowess before.
  • Haven’t been on the bike all summer. Too busy I guess.
  • Got divorced.
  • Still playing with the shake.
  • Working on getting a class B drivers license so I can legally drive fire apparatus.
  • Lost some old friends to the reaper.
  • Gained some new friends.
  • Still hate myspace.

Well, there you go! The year in review!

Man! It seems like time just goes right by these days! I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to update the site or write much, but here’s what’s been going on in a nutshell:

  • Passed Firefighter II mod A test. State tests suck for those who don’t know. I didn’t do as well as I wanted, but I did pass with a pretty solid grade so I guess that will have to do. I’m too old to actually use firefighter II certification to get a job anyway. I’m really just doing it for my own self and the quality of service of my local department. Although when I finish this and have the certification… I will frame it and hang it on the wall. Oh yes… I will. Starting mod B on Monday and I believe we don’t take another break until we’re done. That means Mod B, Mod C, and Hazmat awareness. Will keep you posted!
  • Used the ham radio to do some storm spotting. We got really lucky this year and had almost no severe weather. Good news for the general public, but pretty boring for a storm spotter. Either way I had fun and did storm watch duty several times this year. Looking forward to next season!
  • Burned down a house and had a mass casualty drill. Great training at the house and the drill involved a four car accident with hazardous materials on scene. Of course, I got contaminated so I never got to really finish the game. In case you were wondering, Andi is the one who put the organophosphate on the scene, so it looks like my own wife tried to kill me. Heh! Oh well, nothing new I guess. I did learn alot and I’m sure the experience will be with me for many years to come. Check out some photos in the gallery. (will get drill pics up as soon as I get them)
  • Still playing lots of shows with the Shake. Always a good time. I won’t put details up here about what happens though… you’ll just have to come out and see for yourself. You can find out where we are when at the Shake website.
  • Started shooting a movie with my friend Kenny. Working on the editing right now. Very cool stuff there. Will give you links to more information once there’s someplace to go.
  • Did fire prevention week for the kids. Had a smoke house maze, video, demonstration of gear and free hot dogs and drinks. I figure we educated about 50 kids in one afternoon. Got some good support from my fellow firefighters on that project which was really cool.

Well, I’m sure there’s more, but I’m about out of brain for now. Hope to see you all out at a show sometime! Peace out!

I’ve added an image gallery so I can share some photo’s online. It doesn’t work inside my wordpress script yet, but it’s functional as a separate entity. View here.

« Previous PageNext Page »