Tuesday, February 28, 2006

If your Chow Chow has had too much chow...

From Reuters: A Chow Chow exercises on a treadmill while a passer-by looking at its meter on a side road in Nanjing, China's Jiangsu province February 28, 2006. The specially designed treadmills are now available for the overweight pets in Nanjing.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Austin, TX adoption story

Finding a Family: Chinese Adoption - Kolyma and Abbi are all American girls. Austin, Texas is home, but they were born in China. They're among the hundreds of Chinese orphans adopted each year. Their parents, Martin and Alexa Hinds, have adopted from China twice. "We knew there was a child waiting. And we kind of just felt led to go to China."

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Foreign adoptions bring home love

This article in the Kansas City Star has a nice profile of a family who adopted two daughters from China:
It doesn’t matter a bit to Maggie and Katie McKain that they don’t look like their parents.

All that matters to Katie, 2½, is that she can nuzzle up to Mommy when she wants a safe, familiar place to cuddle. For Maggie, 4½, few things are more important than tugging at Daddy’s hand and leading him to the dessert that beckons in the refrigerator.

The fact that the girls were born in China and their adoptive
parents hail from Michigan and Kansas means nothing.

Also contained in the article are various reasons some families choose international adoption as well as a discussion on adoption trends. While there were over 20,000 children adopted internationally last year, there were over 100,000 children adopted domestically in the U.S.

SF Chronicle article on Guangzhou

Today's San Francisco Chronicle contains an article by David Armstrong, who traveled to Guangzhou and wrote about the city formerly known as Canton:

Historical impact meets modern verve in Guangzhou

Of course, you can't write about Guangzhou without mentioning the adoptive parents who travel there to visit the U.S. Consulate:

At the western end of the river promenade looms the modern tower of the 850-room White Swan Hotel, nicknamed the "White Stork Hotel" after the adoptive American parents of Chinese children who typically stay there. The U.S. consulate is next door, and the parents-to-be file their adoption papers there, clearing the way for a wavelet of new Chinese immigration.

Nearly all of the adoptees are infant girls. Given the traditionally low status of girls in China, you have to believe they will have better lives in their new homes. It is a novel sight to see dozens of American couples pushing prams and shopping together in the streets around the White Swan. Indeed, a commercial ecosystem has sprung up there, with the ground floors of old buildings given over to shops that sell new baby strollers, baby clothes -- basically all things baby.

That's a pretty accurate description of the cottage industry that has emerged in the vicinity of the White Swan, which does offer the parents a sense of comfort knowing they can find things like formula and diapers right around the block.

Hunan baby trafficking case

One of the more heinous stories to come out of China last year was the report that an orphanage director, along with many accomplices, was charged with buying abducted babies and selling them to another social welfare institute. The orphanage director and nine others were sentenced to prison for their part in the case.

This is exactly the kind of thing that gives foreign adoptions a bad name and you hope it is not very widespread. The following quote from the article should give prospective adoptive parents pause:

People involved with the adoption of Chinese children by foreigners have long worried that parents might unknowingly receive children abducted from their families.

They worry that baby-trafficking accusations could lead officials to limit or stop giving homes to thousands of children who might otherwise grow up in orphanages.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Signs of the end times, 2

Well, former major league baseball player Darren Daulton thinks we're almost there.

This is just plain bizzare.

All I can say is, don't make plans for December 22, 2012.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Valentine's dinner

Valentine’s Day dinner was cooked last night by yours truly. In the past, my wife and I have gone to a fancy restaurant for dinner, but this year we decided to stay home and try our hand at duplicating some of our favorite dishes. While my wife handled the dessert (quite well, I might add), the dinner was my job. When we were on our honeymoon in Mexico, we had Steak Diane prepared at our table one night at dinner. We were quite impressed and we’ve each tried to prepare it since that time. Here’s the menu:

Steak Diane
Garlic Mashed Potatoes

1998 Nervi Gattinara (Italy)

Dessert (made by Lauren):
Flourless Chocolate Raspberry Cake

The wine was a Nebbiolo (90% of this varietal), which paired perfectly with the steak and the chocolate dessert. The Nebbiolo grape produces big, powerful wines full of tannins that almost beg to be aged. I still have my 2000 Barboursville Nebbiolo and now I’m convinced to hold on a little longer before opening it.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Dr. Ellen Kempf

I have an updated link for Dr. Ellen Kempf's blog. She, along with her 13-year-old son Ben, is visiting several orphanages in China and recording her observations.

Visit Dr. Kempf's blog.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

More snow pictures

So I’m here at the casa, hunkered down. It’s not that I can’t get out. The street’s plowed, the driveway is shoveled, the car (a Subaru for crying out loud) is de-snowed. I’m just chillin’. Ally has had her fill of snow fun for today. I swear she’d stay out there until she was frozen solid if she had her way. Here she is making snowballs:

I’m watching the Olympics. Most of it is on tape delay. Naturally, I want the USA to win every event, but I’m somewhat pleased that jerk Bode Miller finished out of the medals. He solidified his jerk status with his comments about “skiing drunk” and accusing Lance Armstrong of juicing. Ski sober, Bode. Don’t accuse your athletic betters of doping. I’m also a big Michelle Kwan fan and I’m sorry to see her have to drop out. A lot of folks on Long Island were angry that she petitioned to get on the team ahead of Emily Hughes. Hey, Emily wasn’t guaranteed anything by finishing third at the U.S. Championships. Only the winner (Sasha Cohen) was assured of a spot. And besides, Kwan was bumped in ’94 when Nancy Kerrigan was whacked in the knee by Tonya Harding’s goons. You have to go with the more experienced skater. It would have been nice, though, to give Emily a little more notice. Now she’s snowbound on Long Island and who knows when she’ll make it to Turin.

So far we have three medals. Two of them are in half pipe snowboarding, a sport I’m convinced was added to give potheads slackers from the U.S. a chance to score some hardware. “Dude, an event for us!! Cool! I’m so stoked!” Congratulations, guys.

The great thing about snow is that it looks great in black and white. Here are a couple more pictures from the neighborhood:

Snowed in

Like most of the northeast, we had a fair amount of snow last night. The timing of the storm forced cancelation of church this morning, so I have time to work on my novel. So far, all I have is "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". Hopefully, I'll be inspired to write more, but right now I'm feeling a bit of cabin fever coming on...

Ally has been waiting for it to snow this year. We told her last night that when she woke up, there would be lots of snow. She won't be disappointed. It was the first thing she mentioned when she woke up. They just plowed the road, so now I can shovel the driveway and make a path to the playground across the street. Here's what it looked like this morning, all tranquil and still: Maybe I'll get out later and take more. We don't get many opportunities like this.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Doctor to tour Chinese orphanages

Doctor to share lessons on adoption in a blog

Dr. Ellen Kempf is getting ready to travel to China for what she calls the ``ultimate continuing medical education.''

And she plans to share the lessons on international adoption that she learns with readers worldwide through the Web.

Kempf, a pediatrician who heads the Oak Adoptive Health Center at Akron Children's Hospital, leaves today for a nine-day trip to tour Chinese orphanages. While there, she'll also meet and follow families who are in China to adopt children through Oregon-based Holt International and Family Adoption Consultants of Macedonia.

She plans to journal daily about her experiences on a blog that will be posted on the hospital's Web site, www.akronchildrens.org.

It will be interesting to see what kind of access she gets. I'll certainly be checking her blog this week.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Signs of the end times

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Chinese New Year Parade - DC

We went to DC's Chinese New Years Parade today. It was Ally's first and we're glad we got a chance to take her. The weather this time of year is always a factor but today it was rather mild for February. We got there at the tail end of the parade. That's Ally trying to pull off my toupee.

You can't have Chinese New Years without dragons:

And you can't do anything in DC without Mayor Anthony Williams showing up:

If there's a guy from the hazmat team pulling something out of a garbage can, you know something good is about to happen. He's pulling a string of about a million firecrackers out of that can and connecting one end to a crane hook. The crane then pulls the string about four stories into the air.

Who better to light the string than hizzoner, The Mayor:

Once the crackers started going off, the crane slowly lowered it so that the exploding end stayed on the ground. The dragons proceeded to dance around the firecrackers:

Overall, we had a pretty good time and saw a lot of other families with adopted daughters from China. I was worried Ally would be afraid of the firecrackers, since we were so close, but that wasn't the case. I wish we could have stayed and done some shopping, but there was some football game on later so... maybe another day.