Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Manly Day

Monica's off to Pennsylvania to join her mother for a day of shopping at the Grove City Factory Shops, so I have the place to myself today. Just me and the dogs. So I decided it was going to be a manly day. After we get back from China I probably won't have too many of those.

My big project for the day: brewing. First I transferred my British ale (a clone of Spitfire Premium, which is hard to come by here in the States) to the keg. After a few weeks of CO2 it'll be drinkable. Then I started a new batch. This one's a lager; a clone of Tsingtao, which I'm brewing in honor of our little girl, of course. It should be ready by early spring, so we can serve it when we throw a party for Stanzi's Baptism.

Funny thing about Tsingtao, though--it has a Chinese name, and it's brewed in China, but there really isn't anything Chinese about it. The Tsingtao Brewery was founded in 1903, not by Chinese but by Germans. That part of China had actually been under German rule since 1900 (as it would be until 1914, when the Japanese chased them out in the early months of World War I). As a result, the beer that's brewed there is basically German lager. Of course, I love German lager, so that's just fine with me.

So life is good. And manly. The house is filled with the scent of hops and malted barley, and the sounds of Maroon 5 are coming from my iPod (okay, I guess Maroon 5's music isn't particularly manly, but I like it anyway). In a little while I'm going to work out, then this evening I'm joining a couple of my department colleagues for drinks and cigars down at City News in Mansfield. I think I'm in the mood for an Ashton tonight. Or maybe an H. Uppmann. Decisions, decisions....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fourteen Inches

That's how much snow is on the ground in my front yard right now. There were probably about four inches left over from the last snowfall, so that means another ten fell between roughly 5:00 pm yesterday and 3:00 pm today. All classes were canceled at the university (and that hardly ever happens), and Monica's office was closed as well. So we had a snow day. I remember when the prospect of a snow day was the most wonderful thing in the world. I'd be glued to the radio praying to hear that school was canceled. It doesn't hold the same charm these days. It meant shoveling the driveway (twice) and thinking about all the work I have to do at the office.

So, we leave for China two weeks from tomorrow, and we're both freaking out. Monica spent the day baking cookies to keep her mind off the enormity of what's about to happen. And, of course, we don't want to keep a bunch of cookies around the house, so we took them around to the neighbors.

The photo on the right shows what the street next to our house (Duff) looked like at around 5:00 pm today. Of course, by then the plows had been through. Before that it was a mess; no fewer than four different cars got stuck on it over the course of the day. One of them was ours!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Back to blogging

We haven't posted anything in nearly a week, not because nothing's going on, but because our home computer was being serviced. Seems we got a trojan horse--two of them, in fact--and while our anti-virus software (AVG) alerted me to their presence, it was powerless to do anything about them. And when I e-mailed AVG's customer support I got this in response:

"We would like to inform you that the reported message is from the"Resident Shield" component and not from the scan. That means that the detected objects have been removed at the moment of detection. According to the scan result you provided, you computer is virus free and protected."

Ummm, not so, as evidenced by the fact that strange DOS windows kept popping up. Even stranger, at regular intervals the computer was channeling voices from beyond! Well, from somewhere, anyway. At one point I heard a commercial for MALL COP; at another point it was someone speaking French. AAAHH! My PC was possessed! So I shut everything down, disconnected it from my cable modem, and took it to the university's IT department for service. And now everything seems to be in good shape.

No thanks to AVG. Guess who won't be renewing his subscription?

In other news, we've purchased our airline tickets for our trip to China. We leave on Thursday, February 12, and return exactly two weeks later. We'll be getting our daughter on the 16th.

For those who are interested, the weather forecast for Beijing calls for temperatures in the 30s and 40s; in Nanchang (where we get our little one) the temperature will be in the 40s and 50s, and in Guangzhou it'll be in the 60s and 70s. Okay, it ain't exactly Florida, but it's sure better than the freezing temperatures we've had in Ohio in the past few weeks.

Monica had her second shower--the one with family--on Sunday. I'll let her blog about that, because I wasn't there. Instead I hung out with my nephew Dan. We had a great time making root beer. Then that evening we had the joy of watching the Steelers whomp on the Ravens. Tampa, here we come!

Friday, January 16, 2009


First the bad news. It's cold. Very cold. The highs are only supposed to be in the single digits today. This morning my car's thermometer read -12.

So, on to the good news. It's been confirmed that we'll be leaving on February 12 and returning February 25. We've already purchased our plane tickets, and yesterday we applied for our visas.

Wow, this thing is starting to seem like it's real....

Yesterday I drove down to Columbus to do an interview for WCMH, the NBC affiliate there. My name showed up on a blog that listed historians who would claim that the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression. Well, Ashland University's Public Relations office decided to promote this, and arranged for me to do this interview. They also got me to write an op-ed that may be appearing in a Cleveland newspaper next week. It's about the good and bad that FDR accomplished, and how President-elect Obama can accomplish the former and avoid the latter. Anyway, is you live in Columbus and you're interested in hearing me prattle on, watch the news on Channel 4. We're not sure what time yet. It doesn't much matter to me, because we don't even get WCMH in Ashland.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


It started early yesterday afternoon, and continued intermittently all through last night and this morning. There are probably four to six inches on the ground right now, and we're likely to get at least a couple more before all is said and done.

I just came in from shoveling the driveway (fortunately it's a short one, so it doesn't take much time). But just as I got out there the "wintry mix" began. That's, of course, what the Weather Channel calls it. It sounds so festive; like something you'd put out when guests drop by unexpectedly during the holidays. But we know what it really is--that snow/freezing rain/sleet crap that makes you wish for honest-to-goodness snow.

But it's cool. Monica and I have no reason to leave the house today. Maybe not tomorrow, either. And tomorrow the Steelers take on the Chargers in the AFC Divisional Playoffs! HERE WE GO.....

I leave you with a short video I shot of Lotte and Ruby playing in the snow. Until we get the baby, the dogs are the most interesting video subjects we have.

Friday, January 9, 2009

TAs are here!

Monica got a call from our agency at around 4:15 yesterday afternoon. The travel authorizations have arrived! It's about 95 percent likely that we'll be leaving on Thursday, February 12. That'll have us in China on the 13th, and we'll likely be getting our little girl on the 16th or so. We'll be celebrating both Valentine's Day and Stanzi's first birthday (the 20th) in China! And that would have us coming home around the 28th of February or the 1st of March. But we're still waiting to hear about the scheduling of one big appointment, and that could shift our travel plans by a day or two. But still, things are looking pretty good!

In other news, yesterday Monica's co-workers threw her a baby shower at Linder's, one of our favorite local haunts. Thanks to all of them for the generous gifts, and the wonderful company!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

TAs on the way?

There's a rumor in the air that the TAs for our group are on the way! That likely means that they've learned that they're due to get a package from China. They can't be sure what's in it, but the TAs are the only things they're expecting. So it's by no means definite, but it sure sounds promising.
By the way, this is the photo that Kim from European Adoption Consultants took of us on the big day that we got our referral.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Stanzi's Room

There hasn't been a whole lot to report in the past couple of weeks. The holidays were fairly relaxing, spent in the company of family and friends both in Ashland and in Western Pennsylvania. I got to play around with my new Flip, although I've run into a little glitch that prevents me from adding titles to my movies. Tech support is working on it, or so I'm told.

The break did give us a chance to get Stanzi's room in shape. The room has been painted and furnished for nearly two years now, but as the wait for our referral dragged on the "nursery" rapidly became a dumping ground for clutter. Last weekend we organized our storage room in the basement, freeing up space to put all the stuff that was in the baby's room. That allowed us to add the finishing touches.

We're still waiting for our travel authorization (TA), which will tell us when exactly we'll be heading to China. Our best guess is that we'll be going early in February, as soon as the Chinese New Year festivities wind down. But we won't know for sure until we get the TA--once that happens we can apply for our visas, and then make flight arrangements.