Category Archives: Home Life

Catching Up – It’s been too long!

I really can’t say what exactly led to the decline in my social media postings and blogs, but since September 2016, I have done exactly no blog posts. I have managed to post some Gorn photos – that lasted until December, but even then my Instagrams and Tweets have declined dramatically.

Looking back it was a confluence of work and other things happening in real life that get in the way. At work, I was deeply involved in a project which inherently makes me not want to talk about what is going on – it helps that I actually can’t (LOL). My project ended at the end of May and I have slowly been easing back into regular work routine. As for the rest of life, the change in political climate and the complete deluge of 24/7 news and information made it difficult to focus on any particular thing. Let us also not forget how powerful laziness can do.

However all is not bad several great and amazing things have happened in the last 9 months:

Kris visits – Kris and his family were down for his wife’s performance at the Skirball Puppet Festival. Was so great and felt so good to see him and finally meet his son!!

Jean Michel Jarre – after having yearned for decades to see him live, my dream finally came true in May when I saw him at UC Berkeley’s Greek Theater and the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The show did not disappoint and I was so, so happy to see him. As a bonus, I actually met Jarre earlier in February when I won a Facebook competition to go to a Q/A panel in Hollywood. It made up for the fact I missed him when he was signing at Amoeba Records. Sometimes living in the OC is a disadvantage to quick reactions to things. Of course my Social Media malaise was partly to blame since I rarely check it at work so didn’t know about the appearance until it was too late. But all was right in the world when we met. I think a separate detailed blog post with photos and such about my Jarre geek out this year is required.

Twin Peaks! – It has returned after 25 years and boy oh boy am I loving it. Its been a long wait and nothing is as thrilling as re-visiting the world. Tonight is episode 8 which is almost the halfway point of the 18 total episodes of the season. Its been typically Lynch paced which can be frustrating because you want the payoffs to come, but it has been so good that I am willing to wait. As much as I want to just binge watch the whole thing, I am glad its released weekly so we can all analyze and re-analyze what the hee-haw is going on and that makes it that much better.

The Z3 – I still can’t believe that I went out and got a Z3 over Labor Day weekend last September. I know I posted a photo when I took delivery, but the whole experience is again worth its own blog post.. 9 months later I am still loving it. I have of course got a few dings here and there and had to repair some of the smaller items but nothing dampens my enjoyment of driving the car I have wanted since the late 1990s.

Shanghai Disneyland – It’s been a year since it has opened and I am glad that I have kept in touch with the people I have worked with there. It truly is a special time and so grateful I have kept in touch with my friends. I still miss the bill free existence and the glamour of living in a major international city, but I am also so, so glad I can see my family on a regular basis.

Travel – Other than the trip to Colorado in August, Daniel and I really haven’t been able to go anywhere other than camping with my Mom. We are hoping to go somewhere in October (likely Tokyo where else) and I am likely heading to the Caribbean in December on my first ever cruise. The Gorn is a bit antsy so hoping we can get to some new places soon.

Podcast! – Daniel has started the Room 396 Podcast and I have appeared on the first 5 episodes to date. If you want to know what I actually sound like take a listen and tweet me your feedback!

That is it, we are all caught up and look for some more details on the Z3 and Jarre coming up. This week is the 27th anniversary of Club Josh so hoping to do some refresh items here and there (Lots of Jarre items to add!!) and hopefully re-start the blog a day!

Change Again

It’s been a little over a month since I’ve returned back to the USA and have been getting settled back into my old routine. It’s been quite the shock to the system to come back to the States and part of me feels like I had a stroke and had a feverish dream about China. Then I look back on all my wonderful photos and am glad that it was real and I really did get to experience something as wonderful.

I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the past year and the future and would not change a thing about what I did. Such a great experience and I hope I get asked to do something like it again. Back in reality, I’ve been getting used to my old job which honestly is just like the job I was doing in China, just with more English. I am glad I am fortunate to go back into a comfortable place to ease back into things. I do miss my friends and life in Shanghai. It was much simpler (no bills and no worries) and my friends were great people who really made living overseas so much better. I hope our paths will cross again and I am glad we have been able to keep in touch.

On the homefront, it only took 5 days for Daniel and I to find a place to live and so far we are loving it. It’s not as close to work as we used to live, but its nice and quite and the apartment, even though its smaller, still feels big. I’ve decided to keep most of my stuff in storage and will start pulling things out as needed (I urgently need a toaster!). It also gives us plenty of storage for the extra stuff we have no place for until we are able to finally buy a place in the future.

In the car front, it’s been a rollercoaster ride. I’ve now been without a car since the end of May 2015 – the longest I’ve ever been without a car since I got my license. The first few weeks were the toughest, but honestly it hasn’t been that bad. We’ve been carpooling everywhere and its been fine. We’ve had a few pain in the rear end days where schedules or what have you haven’t worked out and that really got me thinking about what kind of car I really need. I honestly don’t need an everyday car, just something that I can use a couple times a month.

Thinking about the future and not wanting to have car payments – I’ve had them since 1996 – I made the decision that I should get a used car. Me being me though, I’ve also decided I don’t need a boring practical car, but I should get something enjoyable. Nevertheless, it has led me down a crazy road and my next post will be the complete story (I hope) about me getting the car of my dreams.

Stay tuned!

12 Down, 2 To Go..

It’s been a year since I relocated to Shanghai for work and my assignment is slowly coming to an end. I know its cliche to say it, but it is hard to believe that I’ve been away from the US for so long. Much like when I left, I am anxious about what is to come as there is much uncertainty about where I am going to live as well as what car am I going to get and so forth..

I did manage to sneak in a quick solo trip to Singapore last week. It was the first time since February that I really was able to get away from Shanghai and China and just relax. Unlike Sanya, Singapore was full of all the modern conveniences and I had such a great time. It’s a nice fusion of east and west with lots of malls containing trendy Chinese stores and Western ones as well. And let’s talk about how fast the Internet was. Woo Hoo! Not since my trip to Japan in January have I been able to surf at high speeds. I think I enjoyed it more in Singapore since I was so busy in Japan, I didn’t really need to look at anything. In Singapore I had ample time so I got the most out of it.

While I was in Singapore I managed to see the Botanical Gardens, the famous Marina Bay development, and the Sentosa Island Resort area. In between that I squeezed in some historical buildings and shopping all while walking all around the place. It’s nice and compact so everything was easy to see. I really did need another night so I could have made it to the Gardens by the Bay, but ultimately the heat and humidity did me in and decided to rest and shower before my overnight flight back to Shanghai.

I’ve now got two months left here. There’s a grand opening to attend and some follow up work to be done over that time, but I am still working on whether or not I can squeeze any more travel in before I leave. Right now it’s up in the air, but the fiscal responsible side of me is duking it out with the have fun and travel side of me. We shall see who wins!

I do hope I get motivated to write more about my experiences and post more photos, but between the slow connection to the world and the joy of living the experience it has not been easy!

Ever Busy, Ever Traveling

It’s been 4 months since I wrote a traditional blog post so let’s get caught up with what I have been doing since December:

I’ve mentioned my desire to visit 10 countries in Asia while I have been in China for work and I really haven’t had a chance to go anywhere internationally – more of a lack of pre-planning due to the nature of my work I usually only get 2 weeks or less notice before I think I can take some time off. So my trips have been short but sweet.

In December, I had my assignment extended from December to May and as a result I had to go through the visa renewal process which marooned me here in Shanghai until the last week of December. Too late to plan a New Year’s trip, but I did manage to get places in January.

First up was Harbin – home to the famous Ice Festival. it was the coldest weather I have ever experienced, but it was a great time with some co-workers and certainly a bucket-list item that I wanted to do while I am in China. The photos I posted were just a small sampling, and I should really be better at posting photo galleries.

Next up: Daniel made a return visit to Japan and we rendezvous at Narita airport and spent a great long weekend together. Japan is truly a place that belongs to us and I can’t separate the two because they will always be linked. We went retro and inexpensive and stayed at our old hotel Kazusaya. She was looking a bit worn but there was something familiar and fun about being there. We visited Tokyo Disney resort of course, but the highlight was a visit to Aokigahara, the Sea of Trees, at the base of Mt. Fuji. It made me miss our road trips and I look forward to the day when I am able to just hop in the car and go somewhere.

The last trip I took was at the end of February to Sanya on Hainan Island in Southern China. It was a quick weekend trip to someplace warm. I had Sanya, Taipei, and Seoul on my short list of quick weekenders to check off some countries and for that weekend it was the warmest. Sanya is a beautiful place and I am sure there is a lot more to see than what I got to see in my two days, but I was glad to see the 4th largest statue in the world.

Besides those trips, my life has been working long hours on my project which can be tough, but thankfully I really love what I do so it is that much easier to get through. I have been extended once more to the end of July, so I hope I can keep going after my country count. Three places that I really want to see are Singapore, Thailand, and Cambodia – and that might be what my end of assignment trip is – unless I can get there sooner.

As for Shanghai life, my good friend Eric has made the trip out the Shanghai to work for a few months, and that has improved the quality of life dramatically. I am happy to have his company along with the others who have made this journey worthwhile.

Now that I truly have a for-sure end date, my thoughts turn to the future and I am excited to think about what lies ahead. New car, new home, and there is a Jarre concert tour coming up in the fall – will he finally come to the US? I doubt it, but I did some serious contemplation about making a trip to see him in concert!

New Year’s 2015

Did you think I would forget? I am a bit spoiled now as my last two New Year’s Eve have been spent in foreign countries. Who knows where I will be in 2016..

Its my list of things I have done on NYE over the years..
1990-1995 Disneyland
1995/6 Universal CityWalk
1996/7 Disneyland
1997/8 Club Universe
1998/9 Dad’s House
1999/2000 The crazy disco Hollywood sign affair
2000/1 Santa Barbara
2001/2 Working at Disneyland
2002/3 Working at Disneyland/Horrible Club in Hollywood
2003/4- Quality Time at Home
2004/5 – Sick at Home
2005/6 – Working at Buzz
2006/7 – Quality Time at Home
2007/8 – Quality Time at Home (I’m certain I was asleep well before midnight)
2008/9 – Working at Disneyland/Long Beach Bar with Nathan and Daniel
2009/10 – I worked until 10 at Disneyland then raced home to watch CNN.
2010/11 – Got off work in plenty of time, but sat at home and watched CNN, fell asleep at 12:05
2011/12 – Attempted to see New Year’s Spectacular at Disney California Adventure, but by 10pm it was so foggy you could barely see the top of Mickey’s Fun Wheel. Headed home where I watched a History Channel show on what happens after a pandemic, and then CNN.
2012/13 – Hanging out with Eric and Arthur at Disney California Adventure. Much libation and a great time was had by all!
2013/14 – A repeat of last year, but with more people along for the ride. Eric and Arthur invited some of their friends and we were up to 10 people at the peak. Note for next year, if repeated, take the bus!
2014/2015 – Funchal, Madeira with Nathan and Mark at the Vine Hotel watching the spectacular Fireworks show.
2015/2016 – Double the countdown: Hanging out in a Shanghai Club for midnight local time and then hours later, getting to watch Anderson and Kathy on CNN.

A Busy Time Indeed

Looks like I have fallen back into my pre-2014 habits in a bad way. It’s been two months since I’ve blogged about anything and there has been a whole lot that’s happened. As you know, I am currently in China working on a project and this has thrown most of my normal life in a loop. Similar to other times in my life where I’ve been mega-focused on work, the blog tends to get a bit thin. Thankfully, my Instagram photos are mirrored here so there is at least some semi-normal content that hints at what I have been up to lately.

In travel news, My mom and Gary visited China for my birthday back in October and we headed off to Xi’An, Beijing, and the Great Wall of China. It was so nice to have them in town and we had a great time seeing some great bucket list tourists sites. Unfortunately I did not take many notes like I did for Daniel’s trip in September, so I doubt a Trip Diary will ever be written. After their week visit, they headed back to the States and I only had to wait a few weeks for my latest visitor – Nathan.

Nathan came from the UK and we spent time in Shanghai and Hangzhou before headed off to someplace I never would have imagined I’d travel – Borneo! When Nathan said he would come visit, we scoured the region to come up with a list of places to visit and landed on Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. While there, we visited Brunei as well as Survivor Island (where the first season of Survivor was filmed), and the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center. We had three amazing adventures in the 5 days we were there and I am glad that I was able to see him for the second time in less than a year (I think this is the first time since the 1990s Europe trips that this happened!).

We are hoping to be able to meet up sometime next year before I head back to the USA, but there is a lot still up in the air before we can make it happen. I did take some notes for the Borneo trip so perhaps one day I will post a diary.

Now that Nathan has been gone for a week it has really hit me that I have no one planning to visit me until the end of my assignment. Part of that is the uncertainty of when I will actually return to the US, so I am hoping it is just a few weeks before I can plan on being reunited with Daniel in Japan or Nathan somewhere else.

In the meantime, I will try and catch up on my movie reviews (San Andreas, Jurassic World, and Spectre – three movies I loved!) as well as some random thoughts on what’s happening here in Shanghai. It’s starting to get cold here, so I am thinking I might have some more time indoors with nothing to do so I am hoping to write more.

Whirlwind Asian Tour

Trying to recover from Daniel’s first visit to me in China. We had a lot of fun and managed to visit Japan, Hong Kong, and Macau as well as Shanghai – all in 9 days. Along the way I took some notes, so I hope to transcribe them to a formal travel diary on one of my off days. In the meantime here are some highlights:

Beautiful weather on the Bund in Shanghai
Getting to Japan and finding a sim card and a train into Tokyo in the wee hours
Super nice hotel and matching pajamas
Rain from a typhoon in our one full day of Tokyo
Revisiting some of our favorites
Our tree
Tokyo Disney Sea
Getting caught up on all the new attractions
Fastpasses for Tower
The adventure of flying NRT-PVG-HKG with a long layover in Shanghai
Nice hotel in Hong Kong
Visiting Macau
Hong Kong Disneyland
Losing my camera
Fast walking the various street markets in Mong Kok
Two days of relaxation in Shanghai

Such a memorable trip and I hope that Daniel and I will see each other before I get home next year.

Next up: Mom and Gary visit for a trip to Beijing and Xi’An. Gotta start planning now!

Telecom in China

Now that I’ve gotten my resident permit in China, I finally taking care of some administrative business. First up, I am getting a China Mobile Phone account on one of the big networks in China. The good news is that I will finally be able to Periscope and Live Tweet from around town and the rest of China. The bad news is that I had to pay off my US Mobile account. It looks like I will be able to press pause on my US account with no issues for about 6 months and then resume paying my normal account fees. I might just keep the line active for now and see how this China account goes as I do not want to end up not having a working phone anywhere…

Of course there is a massive language barrier at most of the telecom places so this could end up being entertaining. When I tried to get my iPhone 4 to work on China Unicom, I spent an hour and got nowhere as it would not activate on the network. I should have better luck with my 6 and I have a few different options for carriers. I just want the one with the most data possible (especially for Periscope, Instagramming and iMessages).

Other than my rather limited social media interactions, things are going well here in China and the other day, I had a better idea of where we were going than the taxi driver. I am also looking forward to my first trip. Looks like it will either be to Macau or to Kyoto Japan. I’m leaning towards Macau since it’s technically country #32 and it’s much cheaper. Certain flights to Japan from Shanghai are just as expensive as they are from the US. That’s messed up since Japan is only about a 2.5 hour flight.

Relocating to Shanghai, China

Welcome back!

I’ve been mostly absent as I get adjusted to my temporary new life and I am just know to the point where I can sit down and write about what has happened. Earlier this year, I was selected to help work on a project for my employer that involved me being relocated for up to a year in China of all places. As you have noticed, this has completely turned my life upside down..

The last two months have really been a whirlwind. Starting with going to see my family in Arizona the first weekend of May, it was non-stop packing and stress as I put all my worldly possessions save three bags into storage. This process lasted right until the very minute – 3am the night before I was to get on a plane. I really wanted to be done before then, and I should know better by now that I needed to take the last week of work off to fully get stuff done on time.

There are regrets I have about the whole process (such as not procrastinating, but I really should know myself by now and accept it), but I am glad that I was able to see all of my friends either at a party, going to the movies, or having a family dinner. Even so, it did not make it any easier to get on the plane for the long trip to China. Even now, I look back and it seems weird that I have no car and no apartment to return home. It seems like my home is in a storage facility. Thankfully, this opportunity will allow me to see a whole new portion of the world that I would otherwise not have. Also a plus is that I know many people working on the same project so it is nice to have a bit of familiarity.

The first three weeks have been spent acclimating and getting adjusted to my new surroundings. My apartment is great and I have been actively looking for things to personalize and bring some of home to it. I am glad work is full of challenges and keeps me busy and the weeks have gone by fast. I’m currently waiting for my passport to be returned from the government as they process my resident permit. Once I get it back, let the weekend getaways commence!! In another post, I will try and do a quick summary of the fun activities I have done over the first three weeks. I’m also thinking maybe a monthly summary at the minimum, but hopefully more frequent. Ideally, I’d be able to do daily posts again. Just something I need to get back into the habit of doing.

So here is to my China adventure, and the year ahead. I hope to get through my backlog of posts – I have a notepad with a list of topics to work through when it get slow (like during laundry time).

Quick Hits May 2015

A lot has been going on here and I have had zero time to post and do anything web related.

I missed posting and talking about the Nepal Earthquake
Big Changes at home: Selling Car and Moving everything out of my apartment
New stuff at work: Being Relocated to another part of the world!!?!
San Andreas: Looks like an awesome cheese fest and I can’t wait to see it!
Club Josh at 20: It’s the 20th anniversary of the web site and I gotta do something!
Jean Michel Jarre: My favorite musician has been releasing singles and has a forthcoming album for the first time in 7 years
Twin Peaks: The show is returning in 2016 (how will I be able to see it in China?)
Periscope: My latest app obsession and some great people to follow.

That is about the last month or so in quick hits. I hope to expand on the topics in future updates over the next few weeks as I get settled in my temporary digs.

Thanks for sticking with me and see you on the other side of the world. My plan is to go back to a daily update starting with June 1. Should be a doozy!

PS – fun thought, maybe I should do a trip diary for the time I am overseas. That would be one heck of a long update!