Exciting news for BISS

I mentioned last week that Judy taught a “model lesson” last Friday.  No one was exactly sure why.  Today we got the “lowdown”.  I’ll try to post the notice the school sent out to staff and parents today.

BISS@OP announcement

I’ve also included a few extra pictures taken of Judy while she was teaching the lesson.  She got several great comments at the Monday morning faculty meeting from the administrators that attended.


A mixed group of 2nd graders from BISS and 1st graders from the new school. Lots of adults checking her out.

Jteach2 Jteach1


Embassy Excitement, 3/25/14

Haircut time today!  I go over the Marriott early to swim, and then walk the ½ mile down the street to the salon.  This is the embassy neighborhood, and I pass the American Embassy, also France, Israel, and India.  At an intersection between the Indian & Israeli Embassies, there are LOTS of police gathered around, getting instructions.  I can’t stop now, but I’m gonna check it out later.


After the haircut, I head back up the street to the embassy area.  Many more police around, as well as cameras.  I take up a position across the street, just curious.  It’s not too long before they start moving us down the street.  I see all kinds of busses at the other end of the street, and it’s taped off.  Ambulances are pulling in and parking, like they’re getting ready for something.  We keep getting encouraged to move down the street.  Finally, a group comes into view from the other end.  They’re carrying signs, but they’re in Chinese, so I still don’t have it figured out.  They turn off the main street.  When I check out Google Maps on the iPad, I notice the Malaysian Embassy is down that street.

Protest3 Protest2

The story is that the protesters were surviving family members of the Malaysian plane disappearance.  They were told last night, officially, that all data pointed to the plane crashing, and they should accept the fact that their loved ones weren’t going to return.  They met this morning at the Lido Hotel, where they had been staying and attending update meetings.  They loaded buses for a trip to the Malaysian Embassy.  The busses were blocked from departing the hotel by the police, so the families decided to walk.  It’s about 4 kilometers.  They walked down a very busy street, shutting down traffic, and turned onto Embassy Row.  Before they arrived, another 3 bus loads of police arrived and unloaded.  We’re so far away by now that I can’t see much, but all the excitement is interesting.  I’m curious how the police would handle crowds like this.  They did a good job.  Everytime I was “encouraged” to move, they were polite.  The only problems I saw were when people tried to push past them.

BLOG #200 (whew)

Blog #200!!!!  I never expected to get this far.  Some days, it’s really tough to try and make something interesting out of a boring day.  The longer we’re here, the more mundane it will become.  I’ll try to kick my life up a notch or two if it really begins to drag.

I’m determined to find a fan today.  Lilly is coming around 9:30, so I plan for an early swim, followed by lunch, and a trip to Sundan in Sanlitun for a fan.  I’ve bought lots of electronic items in the past at Sundan (our clothes dryer, etc.)  They’ve got everything!   WRONG!  They don’t have fans.  They tell me they’ll begin to arrive in a month.  I’m beginning to fear for Judy’s sanity if I can’t find a fan, soon.  We’ve got 80’s in the weather forecast for this week.

While I’m at Sanlitun, I noticed some kind of activity in the square.  There’s a big elaborate set-up for the new Captain America promotion.  There are signs touting an appearance by Chris Evans.  After a google search, I find out he’s the “stud” in the movie.  Not sure when it all happens, but there is definitely a crowd waiting for something.


One of the fans actually has a shield?


Check out the two cleaning staff hand polishing the stage on the far right.


I head into the Yashow Market next door, looking for a couple of items.   Judy has been discussing my lack of a decent “light” jacket”, and she needs a small computer rolling bag for airline travel.  I find several rows of luggage shops.  It seems I can buy any TUMI bag I want for around $24, and that’s before I start negotiating.  I put everyone off by telling them I’m not buying today, until my wife sees the bag.  This isn’t Walmart.  There are no returns.

I find the floor with all the men’s wear, looking for jackets.  I see a few that aren’t bad, stopping at a shop with lots of Polo and Armani jackets.  I’m trying to figure out what kind of price I can get.  She says 300rmb (divide by 6 for dollars).  I tell her I’m probably not buying today, and she forces me to quote a price (jamming the calculator in my hand).  I tell her 100rmb and I ‘ll buy today.  She whines and moans, and moves down to 150.  After 5 minutes of her whining and me trying to move away, we settle on 120 rmb, so I’ve got a new coat, after all.

Back home I head out to Metro and make my grocery run for the week.  This should get us through our Hong Kong trip next week.

In search of a fan, 3/23/14

Judy needs a fan for her upstairs classroom.  We also need a few groceries, but most can wait till I make my Metro trip on Monday.  I haven’t checked Carrefour for a fan yet, and I know they had them last fall, so we head down the street.  Carrefour is a really big store with lots of imports aimed at western expats (that us).  It’s also a little more expensive than Metro, so it’s not one of my regular stops.

As we’re walking (about ½ mile), Judy reminds me she’s never been inside.  I hadn’t even realized it.  We get inside and sure enough, there are no fans.  We take a tour of the rest of the store (two floors), getting the items we need and then head to checkout.  Usually there are long lines, but we’re early enough that it’s not too bad.


Spring is popping out!

Back home, we snack a little (yeah, never go the store when you’re hungry), and watch a few “Lost” episodes.  We’re pretty far into the 2nd season.  Judy’s been trying to get a package (non-prescription meds, etc.) delivered from Courtney.  We had to complete three forms to clear customs.  Now we’ve been told they couldn’t read them, so please submit them again.  This is a lot of trouble for one little box. 

Lease signing, 3/22/14

Today, we sign our apartment lease for next year.  One of the “horror stories” we’ve been hearing about from everyone is the problems that occur when it’s time to renew for the next school year.  I’ve been dreading the negotiation process, but if we had to move, we needed to begin planning now.

I contacted our agent, Lisa, asking about the renewal process.  She got back to me a few days later with the news that our landlord would renew at the same price.  This is great news!  Everyone else we’ve talked to is getting an increase.

Our landlord arrives, on schedule, but Lisa is late.  While waiting, I find out our landlord is an opthamologist at a local hospital.  We discuss and compare various medical profession comparisons between China & the US.  Finally Lisa arrives, saving both of us from the strained conversation.  The lease signing takes place, and they leave.  Outside of the pained conversation between myself and our landlord it was a successful visit.

The rest of the day is spent with schoolwork and “Lost” episodes.


Mindy, the BISS Athletic Director, has dog named Izzy. It has several outfits. This is the St Patrick’s Day attire.

Foot massage, like never before, 3/21/14

TODAY IS THE MODEL LESSON!  After teaching her regular morning load at BISS, Judy gets on the bus with all her gear, the 2nd graders from BISS, their teacher, Roger, Shannon, and several BISS administrators.  They arrive at the Chinese school, and Judy hits the ground running.  There are 12 students from BISS, 16 students from the school, the BISS adults, and about 15 adults/faculty from the Chinese school.

Shannon reported later that Judy did a great job.  (Surprise, surprise).  All the kids had a great time, singing, and playing boomwhackers.  Apparently, BISS and the Chinese school are working on a merger of sorts.  The Chinese school is near the Olympic Center, and is a tennis academy for less-privileged talented students from throughout China.  BISS will have access to their sports facilities, and the academy would have access to observation and training for their academic teachers.  They want to adjust their curriculum more toward the IB style of education used by BISS.

After school, it’s time to celebrate/relax/recover.  Judy joins Shannon at Lily Nails in Sanlitun, her new favorite destination.  I decide it’s time to create a little of my own excitement, so I walk to a neighborhood foot massage spot Deb and Graham pointed out to us Wednesday night.  I tried the 1-hour foot massage (68rmb, or about $11).  It started like any other foot massage with a soak, and then some really aggressive rubbing.  Then came the excitement!

The masseuse left and returned with some glass bulb looking things, and some large metal rods with a swab at the end???  She lit one of the swabs, stuck it inside one of the glass bulbs, quickly pulled it out, pressing the bulb to the bottom of my foot, where it suctioned.  She pulled it off, and ran through the sequence several more times.  After 8-10 rounds, she left it stuck on and moved to the other foot.  She eventually had both bulbs stuck on my feet, and walked out.  Welcome to cupping!  I had heard a little bit about it, but certainly never experienced it.


Thought a picture might help the explanation. Man, I have some ugly man feet!

She returned after 5 or so minutes, bringing a couple of large rubber mallets.  After she removed the bulbs from my feet, she started hammering on my calves with the mallets.  When it was all finished, my feet and calves felt great.  I wish she could do for my knees what she did for my feet.

Dom (Shannon’s husband), and I taxi over to Sanlitun later and meet Judy & Shannon at Homeplate BBQ.  Last time here, I had some really good ribs.  This trip, I try out the BBQ half-chicken.  I don’t know why I seem to prefer food that is destined to end up all over my face and hands.  We sit and talk till late in the evening, finding out more about life in Australia. 

Thursday, 3/20/14

Judy has a busy day ahead.  Besides teaching her regular classes, she is traveling with Kyra, her principal, over to the school where she’ll be teaching her “model lesson” tomorrow.  Shannon suggested Judy would the ideal teacher to work with groups of 1st and 2nd graders from BISS and the other school for some kind of demonstration lesson.  No one seems to know why she’s doing this.  Maybe some answers will come Friday.

Today’s trip is to find an appropriate place at the school to meet the class, and make sure there is a projector and screen available.  Naturally, there are issues finding the school, finding the correct entrance, and then finding a room that would work.  Mission accomplished, Judy and Kyra head back to the school, just in time for Judy to teach a class or two at the end of the day.  Yea!

My day at BHSFIC gets busy at noon with the Guitar Club, and doesn’t stop until the Orchestra Club finishes at 5:45.  This was almost like work.  The weather is really nice for the walking segments.  The trains are really crowded.  My morning commute on Thursdays is late morning, so the crowds aren’t too bad.  The evening commute is prime time rush hour, and I get a real taste of the Beijing Subway. 

A Little Local Cuisine, 3/19/14

When Judy gets up, the soreness from the all the stair work on Tuesday is speaking very loudly.  She eventually gets out the door and off to school.  I broke my phone case holster yesterday, and my job today is to replace it.  I use it as an excuse to go to the Apple Store at Sanlitun.

I eat a little lunch, right before Lilly arrives to clean, and then walk to the train.  I find a good case & waist holster for my phone.  I ask around about how to purchase more data for the iPad.  My questions answered, I head back to the train and travel to the Marriott for my swim.

After my swim, it’s back to the apartment to meet Judy for dinner.  Deb & Graham, our friends from Australia have found a new place to eat in the neighborhood, and want to show us.  We meet, and they walk us down a small road right outside our apartment complex (actually more of an alley) to a small diner.  We place our orders for noodles, soup, and some dumplings and some bottled soft drinks.  It cost us less than $4.  It was actually really good, and we were both full as we left for the short walk home.  Deb & Graham are teaching in Phnom Phen, Cambodia.  We’re going to miss their adventuresome spirit for finding food in the local eateries. 

Electricity goes bye-bye (for awhile), 3/18/14

Today started with some excitement.  In the middle of Judy’s shower, all the electricity shuts down.  We paid into our electric account two weeks ago, so there should be plenty of money left on the meter.  When I go out to check the meter, it’s blank, and the elevator is also off.  Looking around, I begin to realize the electricity to our entire building is out.  Judy has wet hair and there are many stairs between our apartment and the ground.

She pulls on a wig she bought in Arlington for emergencies like this, throws her hair dryer in a bag along with some other things, and heads out the door, and down 24 flights of stairs.  We have no clue when, or if, the electricity will be coming back on.  For all we know, there may have been signs posted (in Chinese) telling us that it was going to be cut off today for some repairs or something else.  I’m watching her as she gets a taxi and drives away.  About a minute later, the electricity comes back on.

As it worked out, she had a lot of travel up and down the stairs at school today.  When she gets home, her legs are feeling it.  My day was the usual regimen of computer prep for my classes, and swimming.  A few episodes of “Lost” finish off the evening.

Tax time nears, 3/ 16-17 / 2014

SUNDAY, 3/16/14

Today is a lazy day.  The weather is gorgeous.  Kids are out everywhere.  I’m doing a little work on US income tax, via Turbo Tax.  Later in the day, Judy heads over to Capita Mall to do a little shopping.  I make a trip to the Marriott for my swim.  When I get home, I place a delivery order for a pizza from Kro’s Nest.  There are lots of delivery options available around town.  Almost every restaurant has delivery in place.  Now that I have an online site that has our correct delivery address, it’s too easy.  We spend the evening watching more of season one of “Lost”, and enjoying a really good pizza.

MONDAY, 3/17/14

I’m so close to finishing our income tax, everything else comes to a halt.  I continue to work on deductions, trying to get to a point where maybe I won’t have to pay much more tax.  I don’t think there’s a refund in our future, but “tax owed” is coming down.

Our ayi, Lilly comes in today.  She mentions that the heat is off.  What she means is that the Beijing government has turned off all the heat in the city.  Because of our location, floor to ceiling windows that face the full sun most of the morning and early afternoon, we never had a problem with heat.  I actually had turned off all the radiators in the apartment back in November.  The sun, combined with heat radiating from apartments below us, kept us too warm most of the winter.  Most days, I had to open one or more windows to cool us down.

I get in my daily swim, and return to the apartment.  As I’m settling in to my chair to do a little computer work, I lose my balance, and fall comfortably into the chair.  However, a leg of the chair splits, and I end up looking at the ceiling, although still seated.  When Judy gets home, I make sure about which chair (colors, etc.) I need to buy.  I head out to IKEA to purchase a replacement.

As I walk into IKEA, I can’t help but think about all our previous visits.  We needed maps, and special instructions for the taxi drivers.  We didn’t know how to communicate and ask questions in the store.  We always struggled to figure out where to get the bigger items.  Checking out was sometimes confusing (again, a language issue).  Getting home was confusing because of the lack of a direct route.

Now, I can direct the taxi myself, I know where I’m going in the huge store.   I’ve figured out how to communicate at checkout, and I can verbally give directions to the taxi driver to get me home.  It’s such a different mentality than it used to be.  I used to dread a trip to IKEA.  Now, it’s as easy as going to the grocery store (which is also much easier than it used to be).