Personal Time Off. All four of us have a week of it now, which we are spending together in Underhill. This is today’s view from the kitchen of our nearly-complete new house. It’s a gorgeous spring day, with Mt Mansfield in the background and some artifacts from our ongoing work in the foreground on the countertop.

Tomorrow Patty and Nellie will head back to Beijing, leaving Carl and me to host a poker game with friends, then proceed to Annapolis for a couple days before he returns to Beijing. I will stop in Denver to see my sis and her family, then visit the Brocade office in San Jose for a day of work before heading back to China myself.

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A Link in the Chain

Today Carl Chadwick Kolon was notified by the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland that he’s being offered a place in their class of 2018. Carl’s namesake grandfather and my father, Carl Stanley Kolon, graduated with the class of 1963.

This may seem a bit strange to some friends of our family. Patty and I lean to the left, and Carl has followed our lead in this sense, having become a committed Democrat and a proud, patriotic, intelligent liberal. How can this son of the People’s Republic of Vermont and citizen of the world even consider studying for a leadership role in what some people consider the USA’s “instrument of oppression”?

The foreign policy of the USA and the use of our military are important matters for the whole world. Living in China and being the travelers we are, I would say our family appreciates this fact more than many Americans do. So it’s a good question, and Carl gave it a lot of thought before deciding to apply. He answered it for the Navy while applying, and he may answer it publicly on his own site if he accepts the offer, or even if he does not. But for now, let me give a few of the reasons he and I have discussed, in the hope of informing (and perhaps convincing) our friends and family who might not understand why the USNA belongs with Harvard, MIT, and the other schools on his list. Continue reading

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Progress on Irish Settlement Rd

It’s cold as hell in Underhill, but here’s one outside and one inside shot. The latter shows the beautiful blue stain Patty picked for the ash floors. Stairs going in later this week and kitchen going in next week. We’ll need another series of shots for those!

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Even the strangest things begin to seem normal with daily repetition. But every now and then I become aware that the life we’ve built in China is pretty unlike our life in the US.

This is a quick scan of a paragraph of homework I found on the table this morning, concerning a Chinese food festival or 中华美食节. The dysgraphia I have fought all my life is not much a concern for Nellie!

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Fashionably Artistic

Patty has agreed to license some of her artwork to Zivarly, a new Beijing-based brand that’s trying to become a lifestyle force for millions of upscale Chinese consumers. Her first products are a line of silk scarves that carry prints of some of her recent paintings. These are available online at the Zivarly store, but this weekend her collection also opened at Upper Luxury, a store at the very fashionable 蓝色港湾 Solana mall near our home in Beijing. The picture above shows some of the scarves together with two of the small paintings from which their images are taken.

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More athletic triumph

At the risk of our family blog becoming only about the careers of two middle-aged athletes, I have to share Patty’s (and her friends’) team entry in the Phuket Laguna Triathlon two weekends ago. Patty, Abby, and Colleen did the same events as they did last year, and managed to not simply improve their finishing position, but also their finishing times (despite wind, waves, and sloppy conditions.) In fact, all three ladies had better results than last year. Here’s the tale of the timer:

Abby swam, Colleen rode, and Patty ran. A great performance, the only question is: What’s going to happen next year?

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Patty and Matt at the start of the 2013 Beijing Marathon

If you’re a inconstant runner like me, you’re unlikely to even consider taking on a marathon. But the encouragement of my lovely Patty (our family’s running stalwart) and a nagging sense that it should come off my bucket list sooner rather than never, prompted me to sign up with her this year for our home marathon in Beijing. We had intended to prepare diligently, but pollution levels have been high this late summer and fall (usually the clean-air time of year) and we were not in the best shape today.

In truth, the reason I decided to begin my marathon career in Beijing was because the odds were pretty good of a lousy Air Quality Index, and Patty had agreed with me that if it was over 100 we would bail. Of course, this morning came and despite numbers in the 200s all week, a strong wind Saturday had blown all the shit off to Tianjin, leaving us with a spectacular fall morning and an AQI of 55. Damn.

So through the mosh pit of a crowded start and hey, at 8km I feel pretty good! I’m trying not to get cocky, but think I might have a chance at my goal of 4:00, as I say goodbye to Patty and stretch out for the 2nd quarter of the race. I’m high on the crowd (jia you jia you!) the friendly fellow athletes, the lovely weather, and the continuing sense that I might not screw this up too badly. Continue reading

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It’s looking like a house!

I so wish I was in Underhill right now to see firsthand what Roy and his team are doing, but for now pictures like this one will have to do. Luckily Patty will be there around the end of October to poke around and – I’m sure – fall in love with the place.

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Painting Workshop with Qiang Huang

Today for the third time, on the PRC’s National Day, I hosted a workshop at my Huan Tie studio with Qiang, who is a Chinese-American artist living in Austin, Texas. Qiang is a very unique artist, a physicist who’s done work in holography before turning his talents to oil painting full-time.

Serving as our model was the very patient and portra-genic Carl. We were six painters in addition to Qiang, and while everyone had a great time and made beautiful portraits, I have to say that the one pictured here, by our youngest member Rachel Miles, is perhaps my favorite.

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Gay Marriage

Hello People! You might not believe it, but around 7% of the worlds population is gay. That means out of every fourteen people, around one of them is gay (think about your friends!). Despite that, there is still a lot of controversy concerning the right of gay people to get married to their partners of the same sex. My argument is that people should be allowed to marry the people they love, no matter what gender or sexual orientation they are, and here’s why.

Opponents of gay marriage often say that being homosexual is a mental disorder and that people should be treated for it. This is crazy. Gay people aren’t hurting anybody, so why do some people think we need to cure them? Studies have shown that it is almost impossible to “cure” someone of being gay, and if they aren’t causing anyone harm, why should we even bother? It’s a huge waste of time. In current society, we are forcing everyone to be straight and to think the same. Gay people are too scared of what might happen to them if they came out. There are millions of stories of kids that have gotten tormented and harrassed because they are gay. If we changed this law, people wouldn’t be scared to be who they really were and express themselves. It would make the world a more comfortable environment for homosexuals. Having this law wouldn’t affect anyone except the people it was benifiting, and it would definitely make a lot more people happy than unhappy. People in this world should learn to live with people who are different to everybody else.

Continue reading

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