Friday, November 14, 2008

Greetings from Louisville

On Thursday Michael, Marcus and I went to Portsmouth. Today we got My parents an early Christmas present. Her name is Rosie. After getting everyone settled in, Marcus and I went on to Louisville where he has a conference and I am just tagging along;)

We had Dinner at Amerigo where I had a marvelous salad and Marcus had a great pork tenderloin. It was strange to get to eat in a place that doesn't have a huge kid's menu or anything else kid related. It was strange, but kinda nice.

Now we are settling in because Marcus has to be on the shuttle to the conference at 7:45am. Tomorrow, Marcus will go to the conference and I get to wander around Louisville. Marcus has ironed his clothes all up and I am going to shower and hit the sack. More soon.... Heather

Monday, October 6, 2008

This is Chuck, Jan, Felicia, David and Hugh (huey)
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This past weekend we were in Ohio again for my cousin Felicia (and new cousin David)'s wedding! This is a picture of my parents with our beautiful Bride and handsome groom! I will post more pictures here shortly but this was one that I wanted!
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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

GREETINGS From Legoland

Today we visited Michael's Elysium Fields. O.k. so we are still alive BUT as you can see he was pretty happy with the entire event.
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Greetings from Legoland

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Look what I brought home from Legoland

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Its always Sunny in Southern California!

Greetings all from Sunny California!!!! Marcus, Michael and I arrived at LAX, bought sunglasses and drove down from LA to the Encinitas. (5.4 miles from Legoland) We are settling in the hotel room and getting ready to hit the pool and then some dinner.... its feels like 8pm but its only 5.... that's going to be difficult.

Pictures will be forthcoming! more later!

Heather et al.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Almost done in Singapore

I'm sorry for not posting more regularly while I've been here in Singapore -- I've been busy much of the time, and haven't had much chance to catch up on things. But it is now Saturday evening here (Saturday morning back home), and I have some time to share what's been going on.

I mentioned having gone to Sentosa, and posted a couple of pictures from there. On Thursday I was able to catch the ferry to Bintan, Indonesia, and go to a resort there and get in some snorkeling. I remembered to bring my waterproof camera, though unfortunately I was only able to get 200 film, so the pictures came out a little less clear than I had hoped. But I got to see some types of fish in the South China Sea that previously I have only been able to see in fishtanks, and that was a lot of fun. I also had some unexpected free time, because the morning snorkeling trip was canceled due to lack of people for it, so hmmm... what to do? I know! Get a 2 1/2 hour massage in a tropical resort, with the birds and the sea breeze and the warm air... THAT was an excellent idea.

Indonesia also helped out on my quest to fill up all the pages in my passport before it expires, in that it is the first place I have gone where I had to purchase a visa, and it filled up one entire page, so thanks for that, Indonesian Immigrasi!

I've been doing my best to eat good local Chinese, Indonesia, Thai, or other regional food while I am here, and today I had sweet and sour pork, which was excellent. Not at all like the thick sticky sauce we often get at home, but something very light, and extremely tasty.

There is one more day of class left, and I think it has gone pretty well. We've covered a lot of important topics, generated a lot of discussion among the students about how their organizations respond to various staffing issues, and a lot of cultural issues that arise in that situation, so I feel like they've come away with some useful things. Tomorrow, our last day of class, will be largely filled with student group project presentations, and the students have really worked hard on them, and I think will end up doing a great job on them.

Sunday will have to be an early evening, as my flight departs at 6:00am, and I'll need to be at the airport by 4:30am. So no last night carousing for me, I think. I've really enjoyed my time here, and will certainly hope to come back, but I think I am ready to get home and see the family, and see how the new house is turning into a new home.

That's about it for n0w -- I've done some good shopping, but some of you won't see the results of that for several months ;)

Love to all.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


OK, Singapore... I left on Wednesday afternoon, and flew to Tokyo. We waited on the tarmac for a while in Detroit, but ultimately landed in Tokyo only about an hour late, which left me plenty of time for the next flight. So I spent 13 hours in the plane on the way to Tokyo, had a 2-hour layover, and then another 8 hours on the plane to Singapore. We landed at about 1:30am local time, and I was amazed that no one asked me a single question at immigration or customs, so I was in the hotel and headed to bed by about 2:45am. Class started that evening at 7:00pm, so I didn't do much that day other than rest, find the class room, go over my files, and get ready for the class. I did go to a mall close by when I realized that I had brought a shirt with a stain on it -- fortunately, this month is "Singapore on Sale!" where everything everywhere is on sale. I got a couple of dress shirts inexpensively, though I did feel bad for the woman helping me. The shirt size she picked out for me was too small, which embarrassed her, but it wasn't surprising, given that the shirts are cut to fit an Asian population which is typically thinner than a North American population, and is certainly thinner than me!

Saturday and Sunday were both class all day. The class is really interesting -- there is a tremendous diversity of experience in the students, much moreso than I have wrestled with before. Some of the students are brand new to Human Resources, and really need to go over the basics of how you do Staffing (which is the topic of the course). Others are HR executives who have been doing this for many years, and no longer do the basics because their subordinates do that work now, and they want to talk about much more advanced topics. So I am re-working the classes for the final three days, and will try to find a point that works for everyone.

Sunday evening, I left class a few minutes early, and went over to the Presidential Palace, which is 5 minutes from my hotel. The first Sunday of every month they do the changing of the guard, and so that was interesting. Lots of pageantry, one military band playing as the new guard came in, another playing as the old guard went out. The MPs did a routine that was very complex, but also seemed to border on a dance routine at times. It was well-done, no doubt, but didn't seem to quite fit my idea of what MPs ought to do. I was looking around for an Indian, a cop, and a construction worker to go with them.

Singapore is a relatively large city (4.5 million), but a very small country. The class has several Singaporeans in it, but also Brits, Aussies, Indonesians, Vietnamese, Indians, Americans... it is very diverse, which is both fun and challenging. There is a tremendous variety of food available, and I've been doing my share of sampling it, including getting food from the "hawkers" who sell on the streets. These are very common and very popular, and typically extremely good.

Yesterday I went to Sentosa, which is essentially a resort island that is part of Singapore. They have all sorts of attractions, including the beach, animal shows, rides, etc. It reminded me of Paradise Island in the Bahamas. It was fun, and I got to see some neat things. There were macaques with babies on their bellies, peacocks, and I got a picture of me with a large parrot. There is also a large mer-lion at Sentosa -- the mer-lion is the symbol of Singapore, and it is half-lion, half-fish. To get to Sentosa, I took the Sentosa Express, which is a monorail from one of the jillions of malls here, and on the way back, took a cable car over the water, which gave a nice view. While at Sentosa, I went to the Southernmost point of the Asian Continent, which was nothing fancy, but just sort of cool.

This afternoon I had lunch with the staff who are coordinating my visit here, and we had excellent Thai food, including some really spicy things, and some things that I have no idea what they were. I also dropped my laundry off at the Washy-Washy, and will pick it up this evening. As soon as I am done with this entry, I am going to the Night Safari, where you get pretty close to the animals. I am planning to either go on a day trip to Malacca, Malaysia (a historical area), or to Bintan, Indonesia (a resort for good snorkeling), depending on which I can get to (trying to figure out the advance reservations needed).

So far, I am having a great time, though I feel horrible about leaving Heather and Michael and Heather's folks behind to work on the new house. "Hey, we have a new house, you all paint it while I am gone!" I really appreciate what they've done while I've been away, and look forward to seeing them and it in a week or so.

Monday, June 2, 2008

OK, I'm a bad person for not posting while I've been traveling, so here are a couple of quick catch-up posts. I did in fact go to Amsterdam and stay at The Bridge Hotel, next to the Skinny Bridge, and I think the talk there (part of the Distinguished Speaker Series at the Business School of the University of Amsterdam) went well. I got to spend some good work time with my colleague Deanne Den Hartog, and really enjoyed meeting with the graduate students, as well. It was a quick visit -- I left on a Saturday night to arrive Sunday afternoon, and then returned home on Tuesay morning -- but I think it was well worth it.

I really enjoy Amsterdam as a city -- it is so pedestrian-friendly, with tons of bikes and scooters, and walking paths, and a great public transit system. I have been there a few times, and always enjoyed it there. I could see living there someday, or at least doing a longer stay of a several weeks, and really enjoying it. Great museums, and just a neat place all around.

I got home on Tuesday, we did the walk-through for the new house on Wednesday, and closed on Thursday. Our water problems in the new home began on Friday... I think now they are mostly resolved, but we've gotten to know the local plumber much quicker than we had expected to. So we started having problems, and then I promptly left for Singapore, and left Heather behind to resolve the problems, and I have to say she is coming through like a trooper. I am really proud of her, and grateful to her for helping so much with everything.

I am going to try to do a post with pictures about Singapore (which is where I am right now), but it may not be tonight, as bed time is approaching. Love to all, and I hope to see you soon! (Come visit our new home!)


Monday, May 19, 2008

Marcus is in Amsterdam

Marcus is in Amsterdam and left on Saturday.... actually he comes back tomorrow and we have tickets to go see Eddie Izzard (He is sooo funny)

I don't know much about Amsterdam and he is supposed to take pictures but this is where he is staying. It is called The Bridge Hotel.

And this is why! "The Bridge Hotel is located on the beautiful Amstel River next to Carre Theatre, at a walking distance from Rembrandt Square and Waterloo Square." so the listing says... we will have to hear from Marcus about that.
He gave his talk, which from what I have heard of it, was very engaging, and a bit less cranky then his sabatical talk. (IMHO) A little more upbeat and a lot more positive by his own reckoning. NEver the less I will encourage him to add a little more. However, this will prove a very busy week.
Tues- Flight back
Wed- Walk through the new house
Thurs- Close on the house
Fri- Oh... my the fun begins
And we have to have soooo much done because the 28th Marcus leaves for Singapore....
Exciting.... scary.... busy...
much love,

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

On the road again!

Marcus flew out this morning for San Francisco. Hopefully, he will take some pictures and remember to post, but being as he is at a conference that might be doubtful. So, I will be happy to post in his stead! SO more soon I hope!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More Travels!

Dr. Dickson has been invited to speak in Amsterdam so he will get to post pictures from Singapore and the Netherlands. Exciting stuff! Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Leavin' on a jet plane

Leaving on a 747, in fact. It's about 4:45am, and we're getting ready to go check out of the hotel, get in a car, and head Chiang Kai Shek Airport, where we'll fly to Osaka, and then on to Detroit. We'll arrive in Detroit (through the wonders of a revolving Earth) earlier than when we left Osaka -- our flight leaves there at 1:30pm, and we arrive in Motown at 11:40am on Monday.

When we get back, we'll wrap up this journal, including a description of our adventures at "very famous dumpling restaurant" on our last night here. But for now, it's time to pack up the laptop, and say good-bye to the warm weather, the culture, and the friendliness of Taiwan.

Xie-xie for following us on this adventure, everyone!


Marcus here -- Class is over now

First of all, be sure to look all the way through the blog -- Heather and Pei have caught up on some delayed entries for the blog, and put the entries in correct chronological order, so you'll need to scroll all the way through to see everything!

We wrapped up class today, and it was a good class. The topic was Organizational Staffing, and covered things like Recruiting, Personnel Selection, Performance Appraisal, Employee Retention, Cultural issues affecting Staffing, and linking Staffing to the Organization's Strategy. Fifteen students in total, including several people with a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience in HR and Staffing, and several others with really no Staffing background. It made for an interesting class, trying to balance the needs of both groups. (I'll post a class picture once I get a copy of some of the ones taken today.)

The last part of class is always a group presentation of a project they've worked on all week, and the presentations today were all really good. I was very impressed with the level of effort and understanding, and it was fun to see how they integrated the class topics into their own workplace situations. We also had lunch at Schwarzwald, a local German restaurant, which was a lot of fun.

I learned while I was here that the Baruch HR Executive Master's Program is ready to launch in Singapore, and I am scheduled to teach there the first week of June. I'm already starting to learn about the country, and to prepare for that trip. Apparently the Russia program they had been working on fell through (the partners in Russia were apparently unsavory folks), but I'm excited about the Singapore opportunity.

Tonight is the last night for us here, and we're not yet sure where we're going to dinner, or how we'll spend the evening. Heather did all the laundry, so we're pretty much ready to go. So we'll find something fun to do to wrap up our Taipei adventure and Heather's first trip to Asia, and Pei's initial trip anywhere.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Chung Cheng Park

Blogger takes a really long time to upload pictures. So I will be posting a few digital scrapbooks for you to enjoy. You can- (if you feel inclined) print them as scrapbook pages. So... this is the first part of yesterdays trip- to the coast. Our first stop was Chung Cheng Park. The park includes two "temples" one to Milefo and one to the Goddess of Mercy. There were several buddhas that I did not post pictures of. The entire 22.5 meter tall statue of the goddess is surrounded by the various buddhas that one might ask for help with different aspects of life. More about that later... for now enjoy the show;) - love Heather
Click to play Chung Cheng Park
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Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Message from Pei- TALLL BUILDING

Today was supposed to be rainy BUT instead it was sunny and over 70 degrees. We finally made it to the Taipei 101 building. It is very tall, but not as wide as most buildings. In the center of the building there is a damper system which is comprised of many pillars and one HUGE "damper baby" Damper Baby is 660 ton steel weight which hangs in the center of the building to help absorb the sway of the building. They are really proud of the damper giving it a super hero character named Damper Baby. They even display the Damper. We EVEN got our picture taken with the damper. The viewing area for the damper is on floor 88. To get up there you take a superfast elevator. It was like half a minute to go from the 5th floor to the 89th. Our ears were popping!

On floor 89 there is an observation area which is all enclosed and has a shopping area. They had a display of the Taipei 101 and Marcus showed me where we were at in the building. Then we got to look ou the windows. You could see the WHOLE city. Even though there was a little bit of fog you could still see the mountains in the distance. The entire building has windows all around it. Heather and Marcus wondered how they cleaned the windows on the building. Marcus said they might have a system for it and that sound like a good idea. Then we saw these guys. Heather decided that she doesn't do windows! I don't think any of us wanted to volunteer to be part of the window cleaning crew. To get to the outside viewing area you climb a set of stairs. We went up three flights of stairs to reach the 91st floor. Then we got to go out side to look around. The view was awesome. The sun was nice and warm but it was still windy.

After we looked around we went back and saw a video about the building being built. The end of the video had a section on the 2008 new year celebration where they shot fireworks off of the building. That was sooo cool! Before we went down, we sat at a little table and had some ice cream- Marcus had mint chocolate chip (Michael's favorite, boy I can't wait to meet him). Then we got BACK on the super fast elevator and shot back down to the shopping mall that is in the first several floors of the building. There was a McDonalds there and we got French Fries (mmmmm yummy) We also got Michael a present, but I can't tell you what it is. What a fun day!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I wasn't feeling great yesterday, but this morning I am some better. I put this together, these were taken yesterday on the tour of the Northeast coast and Chiufen Village. About an hour's drive north of Taipei.

Click to play Northeasterncoast
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Marcus again

Heather's going to catch up on the blog for Pei, but right now, she's a little worn out. We had a long but fun day, and it was rainy and wet, so she's taking a bit of a nap before we grab some dinner.

We had planned this morning to go to Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world (or at least, it is depending how you measure!). You can get a great view for miles around from the indoor observation deck on the 89th floor, or from the outdoor deck on the 91st floor. (There are, you guessed it, 101 floors in all.) However, we took a look from our hotel, and saw that this might not be the best day for viewing the view from 101 -- you can see the building looming over everything else, but the top floors, including the observation decks, were hidden in the clouds. So we thought we'd wait until another time to use the world's fastest elevator (84 floors in 37 seconds!).

What we did do today was go on a tour to the NorthEast coast of Taiwan, and to Chiufen Village. The NorthEast coast is very rugged, with stone beaches -- very little sand at all. The waves were running high today, and crashing on the shore. Both Heather and I took little spills as we walked out onto the rocks jutting into the North China Sea, and discovered that some of those rocks were very very slick.

Chiufen Village (by the way, also spelled Jioufan Village, just to make it interesting on the map) is the site of what was essentially a gold rush town in the early 1900s. The gold is long gone, but the village remains, apparently mostly as a tourist location. It is high on a mountain, up a VERY long and twisty road that made me think that even the roads in Pittsburgh are straight compared to this road. At the top, we went to see the local temple, and to wander through the many, many shops of food, clothes, souvenirs, and who knows what else. I had some sausage grilled right there, and also a sort of ice cream in which they put a scoop of what seemed pretty close to sherbet onto a sort of rice tortilla spread with peanuts, add in some parsley, and then roll it all up like a burrito. It took a little to get used to, but was actually pretty good.

Tomorrow will probably hold the Taipei 101 trip, even though the weather doesn't look a lot better. We'll also probably go out after my class is over to participate in the Lantern Festival -- the conclusion of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Lunch at the Grand Hotel

Today... I felt REALLY awful- But we did manage to get out and about to the Grand Hotel. Jenny, from Leadchief took us to lunch there where we had dim sum. So many really wonderful dishes. My favorite was the seafood soup, (no wheat!) Marcus seemed to prefer these little bread wraps with bbq pork inside. I felt really bad and I didn't take pictures. However, I pulled some stock photos so you can see the place. Sorry, I know I have subjected you to a lot of slideshows and digital scrapbooks but here's another one;)

Click to play Grand Hotel Taipei
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Here is more about the hotel:

"After Chiang Kai-shek's retreat to Taiwan in 1949, Chiang felt it was difficult to accommodate foreign ambassadors, as there weren't any five-star hotels in Taipei. Thus, he wanted to build an extravagant hotel to treat foreign guests. His wife Soong May-ling suggested to build it on the old Taiwan Hotel on Yuanshan Mountain, the site of the ruins of the Taiwan Grand Shrine, a Shinto shrine during the Japanese rule. Chiang decided on a Chinese palace-style architecture to promote Chinese culture to the West through its extravagance. Taipei-based architect Yang Cho-Cheng was responsible for the design of the new hotel.

The hotel was established in the May of 1952, but it was expanded several times before it became the landmark as it is known today. The swimming pool, tennis court, and the membership lounge were constructed in 1953, and Golden Dragon Pavilion and Golden Dragon Restaurant opened in 1956. The Jade Phoenix Pavilion and Chi-Lin Pavilion opened in 1958 and 1963, respectively. In 1968, the hotel was rated as one of the world's top ten hotels by the US Fortune magazine. And finally, in the Double Tenth Day of 1973, the main Grand Hotel building was completed, making it an instant Taipei icon.

In June 1995, a disastrous fire broke out on the roof during necessary reconstruction and refurbishment, and because neither ladders nor high pressure pumps could reach the fire, the roof and the upper floors were destroyed. Not until 1998 did the hotel recover from the damage and became fully reopened to the public. Following the fire, the two dragon heads on the roof were rotated 180 degrees to point inwards. As dragons are traditionally a symbol of rain and water, this was intended to symbolize preparedness against a future fire."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Of Cabbages and Kings....

Today Pei, Marcus and I went to the National Palace Museum. Here we learned alot about Chinese Calligraphy. I was of course interested in seeing the art and figuring out its influences. One of the things I thought was so incredibly striking is that if there is a great piece of art that it often copied. In fact copying great works was looked upon as a GOOD thing. The more closely copied the more honor you did the artist. This is very much counter to the ideas of the western world that prizes art as individual expression.

I had to put together a slide show from the Palace Museum site. When Marcus was there last he was able to take pictures. WE however were not. So I gathered pictures of some of MY favorite things. I was there on Sunday with a quick tour group. Then again today with better company;) Sadly though, I am beginning to really feel under the weather.

The National Palace Museum Slideshow-

Click to play National Palace Museum
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After the National Palace Museum we made our way to Longshan Temple and finally the market-

The original was built in 1738by settlers from China. The temple has since been destroyed either in full or in part by earthquakes and fires and in 1945, it was even hit by American bombers who claimed the Japanese were hiding armaments inside. Taipei residents rebuilt it as soon as the war was over. Determine no? Longshan is seen as an emblematic example of Taiwanese classical architecture. At the site one can worship Buddhist, Taoist or even folk deities like Matsu.
But here is my slideshow for it:

Click to play Longshan Temple
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Sunday, February 17, 2008

A message from Pei- Sightseeing and lots of Lions!

Today is Sunday, February 17th, 2008 but if you are in Taiwan it is also the local year 97.

Today we went traveling around the city in a van to see all of the sites. Of course we could not see all of them in a day, not even in a week! Taipei is a very large city! Taipei is actually from two words Tai-which means Taiwan and Pei which means North. (So my name means north). The first stop was at the building once called Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (It is being called Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall- Heather will give you more about that later.)On the left you can see the Memorial hall with 89 steps each step is a year in the life of Chaing Kai-Shek. Here I am getting ready to go in the main hall.

There in the main hall there is a huge bronze statue of Chiang Kai-Shek. There in the hall there is a also a display of "kites of freedom." Some of the kites are really cool and some are almost a little scary. From the Memorial Hall we hopped back into the van and drove a few minutes to a Taoist Temple-

This particular temple is called the Bao-An Temple. This is one of the most popular temples in Taipei. The largest temple is called the Lungshan Temple and we will go see it tommorrow. The Bao-An Temple is primarily a Taoist temple though it is certain also for Buddists. Many of the temple's visitors come to pray for health, fortune and to see to it that the ancestors are taken care of. There were lots of inscence sticks and burners. There were also lots of lions used in the decoration of the buildings the way some places uses gargoyles. Chinese lions/Taiwanese Lions have scary expressions on their faces and their mouths open to protect the people and ward away evil and bad luck. I am not sure I would make a good guardian lion, yet. I will keep practicing! We watched people make offerings to the gods and keep the memory of the ancestors. Finally, we got back into the little van and continued our journey.

Our next stop was the Martyr's Shrine which is a war memorial- the brochure says this: The Martyrs Shrine is dedicated to approximately 330,000 men who sacrificed their lives to the overthrowing of the Ching Dynasty before the establishment of the Republic of China in 1911, and who fell during the Sino-Japanese war (1938-1945) and the Chinese Civil war (1945-1949). Plates of these brave and loyal martyrs have been inserted into the four walls of the main building in testimony of their heroic deeds.

Here at the gates there are guards that stand perfectly still until the changing of the guard. This place was very solemn. Heather got some video of the changing of the guard but I was busy practicing my chinese lion stance. Do you think this is any better? After my practice, it had started to rain so we were happy to climb back into the van for the long drive to the National Palace Museum. We didn't get to take any pictures there because it is now forbidden to take pictures in the museum itself. We saw the ivory ball in a ball in a ball in a ball and the jadite cabbage. Marcus has pictures of this stuff because you could take pictures the last time HE was here. So we can use them. We were in a rush and Heather and I decided we would come back tomorrow!

On the drive back, the driver dropped everyone else all, but because we are Americans he drove us over by the Taipei 101 so we could see it. He was really a fan of the US. It made us feel really good to be from there!

As we drove by, traffic was stopped by a light and we snapped this rainy window picture. Tomorrow Marcus, Heather and I will go back to the National Palace Museum. So, more from me after that!