Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Gray Fog

I don't know if it is my imagination but there is a gray fog in the air. Wonder if it is fog or smog...


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China, Day 2

I am a day behind. Seriously. I hate it when that happens because I am posting in the past and for some reason that really bugs me. Anyway...

Yesterday was a full day of sightseeing. I am happy to say that I know how to get from one end of Tian'anmen Square, through the Forbidden City, and through the maze of vendors and beggars on the other end without mishap. I can also tell you which toilets are where and what they are like. Yes. Too much coffee in the morning.

Susan the Guide was funny. On the way there, she told us about all the street vendors and how they cheat you, pick pockets, and counterfeit change that they give you if you are not careful. She finished off with, "better to save your money and wait until a later stop." LOL. Hmmm. Needless to say, we became experts at saying "Don't want" in Chinese!

Tian'anmen Square is huge. HUGE. And crowded. But it seemed highly organized. We saw a lot of groups, each of them led by a guide. The guides were identifiable because they carried long thin poles with colored flags and the groups they led had the same-colored baseball caps that everyone wears. I don't know where they were from but lots of people dressed in black with red, yellow, green-capped heads bobbing along from a distance. And people wore a lot of black. A. LOT. A New Yorker would be comfortable.

And I discovered that a Korean Woman can be universally identified. If you see a tallish, thin, stylishly dressed woman with a Burberry scarf, a Coach pocketbook, a cell phone plastered to her ear, she's Korean. I thought, "good grief, she looks Korean." And sure enough, as I passed her, she was blabbing away on the phone in Korean. Hmmm. I have a perfect record going.

The Forbidden City is HUGE. There are 9000 rooms. 200 acres. And only the emperor and his family lived there. An emperor could have up to 3000 concubines. Hmmm. The Last Emperor was the only movie to ever be made in The Forbidden City. If a baby was placed in one room at birth and taken to every room to spent a day, he would be 26 years old before he made it through all 9000 rooms. I was disappointed we spent so little time there. I would have loved spending time roaming through all the exhibits.


From there we went to The Great Wall. It was about an hour drive. The approach was amazing. A thin line shining bright snaking through the mountains. It became less menacing as we got closer. Let me say that the Wall is steep. With LOTS O' STEPS. LOTS!!! And it's STEEP!!! As in NOSE-BLEED STEEP!!! With lots of steps that are crooked , uneven, and differing heights. OSHA would have a field day. In America, the place would be condemned to save the public, after thousands of families sued the national park system for broken ankles, vertigo, and the occasional idiot falling off the mountain. Of course, the Chinese people put us to shame. I never saw so many senior citizens (and I mean OLD senior citizens) wending their way up and down, laughing, talking, and having a ball. Not a single twisted ankle among them! And yes, they put ME to shame. I didn't make it up too high due to fear of heights. The signs posted were pretty funny. "If you have heart or brain condition....". LOL! Translation is a funny thing.

We had lunch halfway to The Great Wall at a government run tourist stop complete with restaurant and a huge shopping floor. We managed to make it out with full tummies and without going bankrupt.

We got back to the hotel and with no plans for dinner, we decided to venture out. Hmmm... After a U-turn, we entered the first restaurant. No one spoke English. None of us spoke Chinese. Ok. So, maybe we knew enough. I managed to tell them that we didn't speak Chinese. And when one woman asked if I was Chinese, I managed to say that I was Korean. And they said they had a menu board, and I managed to say Photographs! Thank you to our Chinese teacher, Li Laoshi!!!

We ended up at some pseudo questionable Japanese place but ended up ordering Chinese with the help of the only person there that spoke any English! I got soup. Phew!

So today starts a new day in China. And it might be The Day.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

In China - Finally...

There are four of us in this travel party - me, Joseph, his Mom (Mom) and my friend H who is of Chinese descent but born in New Jersey and raised in Ohio by immigrants who fled the Communist tide.

China is 12 hours of ahead of Boston. This weekend, when the clocks are turned back, we will be 13 hours ahead. Which always begs the question of WHY OH WHY do we still manipulate our clock times? Especially when you consider that in spite of having 4 or 6 time zones, China uses only one. But I digress.

The flight to China was uneventful. We landed yesterday and took a long bus ride to the hotel. It looked like we drove on a non-descript highway with non-descript traffic in almost-any-town,USA. A guide named Susan and a driver met us with a chartered bus at the airport. It was a long drive to the hotel.

At the hotel, the guide collected our passports, just like every other tour I've been on, and checked us into our rooms. The Presidential Hotel Beijing is a typically American looking hotel with typically American looking rooms on the small-ish side. I guess it's expected since Chinese people are on the smaller side of the American norm.

The room was good, but no cot! In fact, there was a crib. GAH! 8 year olds do not need cribs. However there was no coffee maker! What the heck?? But there was an array of teas and a hot water boiler pot which boils water in nanoseconds. Amazing! We brought the VIA instant coffee from Starbucks with us. All they have here is Nescafe. I didn't know they even made it still!

Last night after checking in, we were road worn and tired. So, we had dinner at a restaurant called Sophia's here in the hotel. We can tell right away how different Chinese Chinese food is compared to American Chinese food! It was fabulous! Mom (Joe's) did great with the fried rice and an array of vegetable stir fries. :o) That is after my friend H tried to tell her what to order which I could tell annoyed the hell out of Mom. And then we told her to stop and she got all bent out of shape. Well, Joe's Mom is a very capable person and she knows what she wants and doesn't want. And No.... she does not come barefoot out of the hills, nor is is ignorant! Anyway, I chocked it up to everyone being tired.

In a single day, I could tell you the party line. The Chinese people look at me and speak Chinese. They all look at Joseph and speak English! LOL! I was very proud to have helped one woman in the group ask the bellboy where the bathroom is. Thanks to Li Laoshi and all her hard work in making us remember our tones! LOL! That "C" sound in Chinese is very hard!

So, the flight was uneventful other than my confirmed suspicion that coach class sucks and next time, were upgrading to business class. :o) Yes. There is going to be a "next time."

Today is sight seeing day.
And I will take lots of pictures!
I love my camera.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bringing Home Baby

Ok. Not a baby. He's eight. But might as well be a baby since he will be our first. As in Child. Yup.

We are going to China at the end of the month to bring him home. We've been in the process since 2006, and while we are waiting for a baby, we decided to bring home a big brother first. And after much of this and a little of that, it finally is happening and, well, we are bringing him home.

Kinda weird. I haven't had time to anticipate it much. All that waiting and then we were told the date of travel, it was all a bit anti-climatic. And for us, I think that keeping busy with work had a lot to do with not obsessing over every little second that went by. Joseph and I lead a full, rich life so sitting by idly and waiting for something to happen is just not in our genes.

So, we did things while we waited. And when they say you are never ready, they are right.

And this is a brief note to say that we are going to China and we will bring our son home.


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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Another Reorg

Turns out that it is definite that half the organization that came to me two months ago is now leaving to go to another group.

Thank Goodness!

Too much work, too many issues, too many people, too many things to freekin clean up!!!

Now it's another group's problem.
Might as spread it out because I can't fix everything, nor can I save the world.

I hope the people are ok, though. The people are always my first and foremost concern.

Now I can concentrate on my domain of expertise - data.

But we are instruments in the stepping stones of life. In the last 6 weeks, I've been told that I have given this team "hope." That they feel important and things seems to be looking up for them. I have managed to get the spotlight on a tireless and incredible manager that everyone should be supporting and celebrating. I have infused in them, along with my old management team, a new way to question, look at things, permission to ask "why?", and encouragement to ask "why not." Instead of blindly following a Pied Piper, the likes of which got them to this point in the first place.

And most importantly, we have gained relationships with some really good people and our lives are richer for it.

When I get back from China, we have to finish this up. After China, I will be working only part time but it will be good to have a much needed "slow-down" from the mayhem and fury of work to focus on the nitty gritty of what is important instead of just just blindly making everything a priority. And not sweat the small stuff.


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Sunday, October 18, 2009

SO. DAMN. BUSY!!!

This new reorg at work is killing me. I told my new boss the other day that since joining his new organization, my workload has quadrupled and I am not sure I can tell him why.

He said, he understood (since he is also relatively new to the company) and said there was just too much work happening because no one did the right thing before and we are cleaning up from years of ignorant activity. Ok. He didn't say that last part. I am editorializing.

So, I have to go to China for 2 weeks at the end of the month and I am working up a frothy frenzy trying to get work out the door! And it's the worst time of the year- budget, billing, forecasting, business planning and reviews, performance reviews for staff and bonus recommendations - it's insane!

I am living through the proverbial "pour" because the rain spout opened and I am being deluged.

Anyway... I am also having to plan for the China Trip.

Hmmm... Ok. Haven't mentioned the China Trip too much here. It's a Big One.


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Friday, October 16, 2009

WebMD article on Women Living Longer - which is not a bad thing...

Normally I properly and legally attribute articles but I wasn't diligent enough to record all the info this time. I am hoping for forgiveness beacuse I thought this article was pretty inreresting.
"Women's Weight Tied to Healthy Aging
Study Shows the More Weight Gained From Ages 18 to 50, the Lower the Odds of Being Healthy at 70


By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Medical News Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
Sept. 29, 2009 -- For women, the odds of being healthy at age 70 are best for those who don't gain a lot of weight between ages 18 and 50 and who aren't obese at 50.

That news appears in the "Online First" edition of BMJ.
But millions of middle-aged women are overweight and obese, and they can't go back in time to change that. Researcher Qi Sun, MD, of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, doesn't want those women to give up on the possibility of healthy aging .

"The key message from our paper is that to enjoy a healthy yet long life, women need to maintain a healthy body weight throughout adulthood," Sun tells WebMD in an email. "Meanwhile, I believe it is never too late to take initiatives to lose weight (in a safe and healthy way) to maximize the probability to achieve healthy survival," Sun writes.

Sun points out that being physically active, at any weight, is a healthy habit.
"The bottom line is women who are already age 50, no matter what [their] current weight is, can still benefit from physical activity to increase their odds of having wonderful health at later life," Sun writes. "Of course, the best way to maximize the probability of healthy survival is to maintain at least moderate levels of physical activity AND a healthy body weight throughout adulthood."

Tracking Healthy Survivors
Sun's study focuses on "healthy survivors." That's the term Sun and colleagues coined for women they studied who lived to age 70 without any of the following:

Cancer (except nonmelanoma skin cancer)
Diabetes
Heart attack
Coronary artery bypass
Congestive heart failure
Stroke
Kidney
failure
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Parkinson's disease
Multiple sclerosis
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease)
Major impairment of mental skills
Major limitation of physical function
Mental health that's less than good (based on scores from a mental health survey)

Data came from a long-term health study of 121,700 female U.S. nurses.
The women answered questions about their height, weight, health, and lifestyle every two years for decades, starting in 1976, when they were 30-55 years old.

About 17,000 women were still alive, with enough data for Sun's team to study, at age 70. Only 10% of those women qualified as healthy survivors.

Weight and Healthy Aging
Women who were obese at age 50 were 79% less likely than women with a normal BMI at that age to be healthy survivors. What had happened to the women's weight between age 18 and 50 mattered most.

Women who were overweight (but not necessarily obese) at age 18, and who gained at least 10 kilograms (about 22 pounds) by age 50, had the worst odds of becoming a healthy survivor. Only 18% of those women became healthy survivors.

The more weight the women gained between the ages of 18 and 50, the less likely they were to become healthy survivors. The study doesn't prove that the women's weight affected their survival. Observational studies, like this one, don't prove cause and effect. And it's possible that the nurses in the study don't represent all women.

However, the results held when the researchers adjusted for these factors: women's age upon enrolling in the study; level of education; marital status; husband's level of education; hormone use after menopause; smoking ; various diet patterns; family history of heart disease , diabetes , or cancer; and physical activity. "
Seeing as how I gained so much weight my first semester of college, I'll probably die at the statistical lower norm of 60. PFFFT.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Fall or Winter??

It is cold.

I'm wearing my cashmere scarf.
It's my winter scarf.
A THICK one.

And now I wish I'd worn my gloves, too!

GAH!

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