1.21.2012

Did Rainn Wilson really die?

According to this website he did.



Does anyone know if this is true?

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2.21.2011

Information about living in Xian China

A reader sent me some good questions the other day and I wanted to pass them and my answers on to anyone who could use this information. If you have any questions about Xian, feel free to write me.


Enjoy this day,

Matt


1- Is there any kind of nursery school? In which language (English, French, Chinese)? At what age? At what cost? We have a one-year-old boy and we might stay in China until he’s 4 or 5.


There are a couple of school options for you. We send our kids to a small community center where they have classes 3 times a week in Chinese. It’s VERY affordable depending on how much your child goes it costs anywhere from 1800RMB to 3000RMB a semester ($265USD - $450USD). Our girls started when they were 2 1/2 , going twice a week.


There’s also an International School here where many foreigners send their children, it’s just quite a bit more expensive (I wanna say it’s like $10,000USD a semester).


2- Is it easy to get a nanny/maid to take care of the house and children? Does she have to sleep at home or is it possible not to have her sleep at home? How much does it cost?


Yes, it is very easy to hire a nanny to watch kids, cook and clean your house. And no, they DO NOT have to live with you. In fact, most do not live with the people who’ve hired them. It’s also very cheap to hire this kind of help. It’s changing a little bit right now, but you can find help for between 10RMB and 15RMB an hour ($1.50 to $2.30 an hour).


3- Are there some activities for little children: parks, other activities?


Yes. We have 3 kids (5 year old, 3 year old and a 8 month old) and we’re foster caring a Chinese orphan (she’s 3 ½) and there’s a lot to do with them. Not only do most of the apartment complexes have playgrounds, but also most of the grocery stores have bigger indoor playgrounds. Cleanliness can be an issue with some of these options.


4- Is it easy and cheap to buy some usual objects necessary for kids (childcare like strollers, car seats, …, clothes, furniture)?


I think it’s relatively cheap. For example we bought a stroller for around $75USD a couple years ago and it’s worked out well for us (and I’m sure there are cheaper options). There are plenty of children’s stores to get these kind of things at. Finding good clothes isn’t always easy. Before you come you should check out a website called taobao.com, it’s an online Chinese store that ships all over China. It’s very reasonably priced and a big selection. It’s in Chinese, but if you use Google Chrome it will translate it for you.


5- Do you both take Chinese lessons? If yes, how and what does it cost?


Yes. Both my wife and I go to school. I go to a private Chinese school and it costs me around $1300USD a semester for 6 hours a week of one-on-one. You can go to a local college to study Chinese for cheaper than that, but it demands more hours. My wife has a tutor -which is helpful for her and her schedule- and that costs 30RMB an hour (around $4USD). Having even survival Chinese can make life here so much more convenient and I would recommend getting even a little if you can.


6- Are there many foreigners living in Xian


Yes and no. For example, in Beijing you will see foreigners pretty often, maybe every time you leave your home. Here in Xian that’s not the case. You could be out all day and not once see another foreigner. But at the same time if you live in a nicer community and apartment complex, there’s a better chance of foreigners living around you. Also, there is a good ex=pat community here. Once you’re plugged in you will find many people to build friendships with.


7- Do I need a car for me to move around the city? Or is it easy to move with buses, subway, little cabs?


You can absolutely live life here without a car. I don’t know any foreigner families here who have a car and all of us use exactly what you mentioned, buses, taxis, bikes, even walking can get you to most of your errand locations. I personally would rather skip the hassle and instead use the public transportation.


Thanks again for the great questions, keep them coming.

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12.22.2010

12 Tips for Reading to Your Children

I haven't always been good at taking the time to read with my children. But recently I've turned over a new leaf and am trying to do it faithfully each day (even if it's only for a few minutes). So I came across this list of tips for reading to your children and thought I would like to pass it along. I hope you enjoy it!

When you read together, make sure to cuddle up with your child. Giving this physical touch is a great way to show your child that you love them as well as make them want to read more with you.

Take time between pages to look each other in the eyes. Giving your attention in the moment is incredibly important when spending time with your kids. So between pages or at a break in the story make sure to look into your child’s eyes.

Relax. If your child wants to skip pages or read the same story again, and again (and again), it’s okay. This is a good reminder for me, because many times I take control of the reading time, where it’s better to let my kids lead.

Ask your children to point out things in the picture, “Where’s the balloon?” This interaction will help teach them and keep them interested, reading books should be an interactive time.

Ask your child what’s in the picture and talk about whatever they answer. “What is this?” Then ask, “What sound does it make?”

Use the pictures to teach new words. This is a great way to teach your child about the world around them.

Use the story to start a conversation. Like, “Look at this beautiful butterfly”, “Remember when we saw were walking the other day and saw a butterfly?”

Ask questions about the story. “What are the butterflies doing in this picture?” and let your children make things up and stretch their imaginative muscles.

Act out parts of the story, this will keep your children entertained and wanting to read more. Don’t make reading time dull.

Do you have a long wait while running an errand with your child? Then bring a book along and take the time to read to them.

Talk about the books you’ve read when after you’ve read them. “Look! That squirrel is running up the tree, I wonder if he knows the squirrel from the story we read today”

Use a phrase or word from the book you read throughout the day.

Do you have any tips that help you read with your children? Please share them below!

Enjoy this day,

Matt

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11.25.2010

Love is the Killer App by Tim Sanders Book Review


A friend of mine recently lent me this book and I’m super glad that he did. I found it to be incredibly useful as it tackles the most important issue of all, relationships. It’s written specifically from a business point of view and how we can improve our business relationships.

The author makes three main points to improving your business relationships, add knowledge (read books and invest into your wealth of knowledge), add to your network (add people and then connect those people to other people in your network), and finally be compassionate.

I love this approach to relationships. In a world where “More me now” seems to be the dominating paradigm it’s amazing to see someone successful saying that there’s another way. By giving away what you know and championing others you can find success. It was a good read.

I did feel that the first 1/3 of the book was where I took most of my notes and that the rest of it wasn’t as impactful (but that was only my opinion). It’s a short, quick read and I would encourage anyone who’s in the business world, wants to be in the business world, or simply anyone who’s looking for a healthy way to relate to others, to pick this book up.

Enjoy this day,
Matt

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9.10.2010

Vikings at Saints LIVE GAME THREAD

The NFL season kicks off today! And what better way than a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game. As a Vikings fan, I have mixed feelings about this game. It makes me nervous to think of Brett Favre getting teed off on all game long, but on the other hand, we lost in overtime AFTER TURNING THE BALL OVER 7 TIMES! If a team can’t put a game away in 4 quarters after getting 7 turnovers, they’re not a good team. So if the Vikes can come out and play their game without the turnovers, I think we can win. My prediction:

Vikings 31 Saints 20

Post your comments below as we follow the game:

SKOL VIKINGS!

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9.01.2010

One Man’s Wilderness book review

One Man’s Wilderness is a book about Robert L. Proenneke and his adventures in moving to the Alaskan wilderness. It’s a work of non-fiction, which makes it so much more enjoyable. And although Robert successfully moves to the wilderness and lives for the last thirty years of his life; the book is mostly about the first year of him living there. How he managed to build his own cabin as well as how he sustains life in the wilderness, were things I loved reading about. What makes this remarkable true story even more amazing is that Robert moved to the wilderness and built his own cabin when he was 50 years old!

Things I liked about this book:
The adventure of Robert’s life was such an interesting thing to read about. I also loved seeing a person following their loves/passions even to the extreme measures of living in the wilderness, alone. Hearing how he did it was also something that I found fascinating and knowing that it was a true story made it a real fun read. I think part of the reason I like this book stems from my childhood love of “The Hatchet”.

Things I didn’t like about this book:
A lot of attention was given to building details that I can’t follow or envision so it left me lost. As much as I found it interesting that he built everything by hand, it was hard to follow the writer in his descriptions of the process. Also, not much background was given as to why Robert decided to make this his life’s goal. I really wanted to hear more about his experience and things he learned/gained from being there for thirty years. (Although a lot of this is addressed in a small section at the end of the book)

My favorite quote from this book was “I don’t think a man knows what he can actually do until he is challenged”.

I enjoyed reading this book. But I also realize not many people would enjoy reading about a guy living by himself in the middle of Alaska.

Enjoy this day,
Matt

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8.31.2010

Need Information about Xian, China

Are you coming to Xian on business, to study or see the sites? Are you looking for more information about this lovely city? Then check out this site http://talkxian.com/, which has lots of information and is a place to connect with local Chinese people as well as expats.

Hope that helps!

Enjoy this day,
Matt

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