Carl and Nell have each been having their share of triumph lately and I want to brag, so here goes.
Nellie has gracefully and successfully negotiated our move to Tokyo with all the class you’d expect. She attends the American School in Japan (ASIJ) and takes seven classes, four of which are AP, and including both Chinese (where she’s at the top of course) and Japanese (where she’s just a smart beginner.)
She’s also playing volleyball again and has become one of the captains of her team, is the owner of a stunning serve that got her 11 aces in a row in one game, and is a great leader who is improving all the time. I’m so proud of her!
Carl is back for his 2nd year at the Academy, a so-called “youngster” now. He’s got a packed academic schedule too, but the most impressive outward sign of his development is his place in the USNA Jolly Rogers – the academy’s silent drill team. He auditioned, was accepted, and qualified all last year, and this year he’s performing with the team nearly every weekend. I went to Annapolis on a recent trip to the US and had time to see them perform, and it blew me away. Here’s a video from the weekend before. If you’re only watching for him, he is most easily visible at about 5:15. But watch the whole thing, it’s excellent.
Hi Folks. For most of you this will come as no surprise, but I suppose this quasi-official register of our family activities should reflect that we no longer live in Beijing. That’s right, at the end of the summer Patty, Nellie, and I packed up and moved to Tokyo.
We’ve all spent time here before, especially I, who ran various aspects of Juniper’s and Cisco’s Japan businesses in 2012 and 2013. We all love it, too – it’s weird and new all the time, and as different from China as you can imagine – except when it’s not. Different: language, customs, weather, and vibe. Similar: stultifying Government bureaucrazy, suspicion of the other 京, and lots of rich people.
We live in a neighborhood called Kamiyama-cho, in the north part of Shibuya, which is also new to us. Previously I had an apartment in Shinjuku (where Juniper is based) so I got to know that neighborhood well, but Shibuya has been a mystery to me that’s only now giving up some of its secrets. The same goes for Patty’s studio in Motoazabu and Nellie’s school way out in Chofu. My office is in Kasumigaseki.
So that’s a lot of change. Nellie’s a junior in a new school, Patty is painting in a new studio, and I’m going to a new office – except when I’m flying to the same set of Asian capitals I’ve been visiting for the last ten years and more.
Lots of furniture assembly to keep Nellie happy!
As I did a couple of years ago, this year I made a summer calendar to track the various comings and goings of our family. It’s pretty insane – everybody has their share of travel, with something like 15 flights and at least six countries for the four of us, although we aren’t exactly sure where Carl’s ship will be going so it could be a few more.
Carl is just about to leave his first cruise while Nellie will be visiting U.B. and his family, and attending volleyball camp for a week in Malibu. So there are many different elements here, but I’m most looking forward to the last week of July and first week of August, when all four of us will be in Underhill and together for the first time since December. Below you can see a map of all these wanderings, courtesy of Karl Swartz’s awesome Great Circle Mapper.
You might notice that Patty, Nellie, and I are not winding up back in Beijing at the end of the summer. That’s a whole ‘nother story which I’ll write about when the Grand Schlep is complete.
Patty has a solo show at the Being 3 Gallery opening this Thursday in Beijing. Below are two pieces of advance collateral – the invite itself and a beautiful profile video!
We’re all really thrilled, excited, and nervous waiting for the big day.
Speaking for myself, I an unutterably proud of what Patty has done for this show. It’s the strongest work of the 25 years I have been watching her make art, and it continues to impress her artist colleagues and the community at large here in Beijing and around the world. I know we’re headed for a very successful show, opening this Thursday!
Almost every year at this time, I spend a few days in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress. So this month’s insane road trip takes me from Beijing to the US, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India, and Spain before returning home to China. Fourteen flights in thirty-two days, and 29,560 miles all told.
The map above is from Karl Swartz’s unspeakably cool Great Circle Mapper. If you remember your conic sections from calculus, a great circle describes the shortest distance between two points on a sphere(oid) like the Earth. This is often not exactly how the plane flies — some countries’ airspace are best avoided, and in the summer, flights from North Asia to the US often use a much longer route over the Northern Pacific to take advantage of summer tailwinds. But gcmap.com is a great way to realize how thinking in Mercator Projection terms since school days has distorted our consideration of geography, making the shortest distance between two points appear as a curve.
Many Americans dream about traveling the world. I have been wandering around the non-US world pretty constantly for more than a decade, always feeling authentically American but also feeling like I was perhaps missing something about where I come from.
I’ve traveled around the US a lot, but mostly in my long-ago 20s. There are so many places that I haven’t seen in years, that were important to me in the past but that I only saw long ago. Of course, there are also many places in the US that I have wanted to visit but haven’t. So I’ve been dreaming of a trip I want to make.
I’m thinking an anti-clockwise circle, beginning and ending in Vermont. I don’t have a date yet (well, I have some ideas) or even a car (well, we could take Patty’s Subaru) but it’s still exciting to dream. Now I just need to convince Patty to spend a couple of months cruising around the flyover states with me, connecting with America the James Dean way, or the Kerouac way, or the Easy Rider way, or the Simon & Garfunkel way, or something romantic like that.
Last weekend I met Patty in Singapore to attend the installation of three beautiful new paintings of hers in a private home. In this case, the owners are good friends of ten years whom we met when we all lived in Hong Kong. Having recently relocated to Singapore, they finally had the chance to commission some new works from Patty. They own a few other works of hers but this is their first commission from her.
As you can see from the picture, the paintings look just spectacular. I’ll have a link up to the “official” page for them over on Patty’s web site as soon as it’s posted.
Because of a lucky ripple in my work travel schedule, for the first time in three months I was able to stop in Annapolis this weekend. I met Carl at The Yard on Friday night, and we had dinner at the Navy Club with Bruce Webb USNA ’63, a classmate of my dad’s who very generously gave us his football season tickets for Saturday.
The next day, Carl and I saw the Navy Midshipmen utterly destroy the Georgia Southern Eagles 52-19, on a lovely but very cold afternoon at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Even more impressive than the victory was the march-on of the midshipmen, the culmination of which resulted in the formation you see at the top of this post. I’ll let you find Carl. Here’s a hint, he’s at the bottom right…
Luckily he was able to get a chit to sit with me in Bruce’s seats, rather than with the rest of the mids as he usually does. After the game and Navy Blue and Gold (traditionally sung by the whole crowd and players after every game) we were off to Washington for a night on the town and a late morning.
On Sunday we ate a huge hotel buffet breakfast and then went to the Newseum, which is a pretty cool way to spend a couple of hours. In particular, the relationship between the constitution, the press, and the military stood out strong but silent as we walked through with Carl in his uniform.
Then of course, it was over, much faster than I could stand. After not seeing him for three months it was hard to say goodbye, but I’m consoled by the facts that 1. Patty will see him for Thanksgiving in less than two weeks, and 2. xmas is only six weeks away. It’s not shopping days I’m counting.
Nellie and her Harrow U19 teammates have had an amazing couple of weeks. First, there was a Netball tournament in Beijing which they won. Then just this weekend, they lost a squeakingly close final game 28-30 to end up 2nd place at the ACAMIS Volleyball tournament in Su Zhou.
If you’ve never heard of Netball, that’s probably because you’re American. It’s a popular sport for (mostly) women and girls played in England and commonwealth countries. Nellie is not really on the team, but being a helpful and multitalented sporty girl means she gets drafted sometimes. When she does, they win tournaments!
The Harrow girls volleyball team – of which Nellie is most certainly a central member – has had a truly remarkable year. They squashed rivals, came from behind, rallied, and won more games this season than ever before. If you know volleyball at all, you’ll appreciate that with a final score of 28-30, that last game was a killer.
I’m so proud of Nell and all her friends – who are almost like family members at this point – for having matured into the great team of athletes they are now. Even more importantly, they’ve become truly first-class sportswomen too. You can see this in the way they win and in the way they lose, as rare as that is. Neither is this only my observation, because in addition to taking home the 2nd-place trophy from the tournament, they also won the team Sportsmanship award!
Last week in San Jose, next week in Singapore – where to spend the weekend? Underhill, of course! I was happy to find that while I didn’t make the fall foliage at its height, there was still a lot of leafy color to be seen, as well as a bit of alpenglow on the slopes of Mt Mansfield. This view is from our front porch. The one below is the house on the day I arrived. A week earlier and it would have been more spectacular, but I’m not complaining.