Monday, January 24, 2011

Marbury Year 2

posted by Alan
click on pictures to see them full size

As the 2010-2011 NBA season is reaching it's halfway point, so is the equally exciting Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). Ok, so it's not equa....ok, so it's not very exciting at all. As an avid reader of this website, I'm sure you remember my post last year about former NBA All-Star, Stephon Marbury, taking his talents overseas to the Middle Kingdom, instantly becoming the best and highest-profile athlete ever to grace the courts of the CBA. He embraced the culture and the people and was embraced right back. Marbury's success last season led the CBA to do away with salary caps on foreign players in the hopes of luring other big name stars to China to play. More-than-casual NBA fans will recognize names like Steve Francis, Ricky Davis, Mike James, Fred Jones, Josh Boone, Antoine Wright, Javaris Crittenton, Quincy Douby, Stromile Swift, Randolph Morris and Rafer Alston. Unfortunately, half of those guys started out here, but were cut by their teams within weeks. But Marbury has thrived and here's an excellent article from New York Magazine that explains how he's made it and why he WANTS to be here.
New York Magazine - Marbury

The part about the food and English add to my confusion as to why every player doesn't want to play for Shanghai. It's by far the most foreign friendly city in China, possibly all of Asia (Singapore and HK, I didn't forget you). Add the fact that we have an American coach and strength and conditioning trainer, plus Yao Ming owns the team.

Can you spot the NBA All-Star?

Anyway, we went to see Marbury's new team, the Fo Shan Dralions (yes, seriously) as they visited the Shanghai Sharks yesterday. Marbury dominated his way to 43 points, but his sorry team was no help at all. He's still got the quickness, strength and body control. I'm obviously rooting for more big names to come play in China. Watching world class athletes in person from the 5th row is a different experience than seeing them on TV. If Carmelo Anthony really can't find a place to play.....
Not-quite-balanced scoring attack from Fo Shan

To make up for this testosterone-filled post, heeeeerrreee's JANIE!
6-7 weeks

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


posted by Alan
click on pictures to see them full size

Before I get started, as I was gently rocking Janie back and forth in her bassinet today, I realized that "Rock-A-Bye Baby" is a horrific song.
The cold has come in Shanghai. The temperature here during the winter isn't as low as New York, but the cold is different. In New York, it's a dry, bitter, painful cold. In Shanghai, it's more like a damp, creepy, nagging cold. Fortunately, we've been blessed with a cozy apartment that stays much warmer than our last one. That plus the little one, have been the perfect excuses for staying inside over the past month. Not to mention the endless stream of friends who keep bringing us food so we don't even have to go out for that.

So, since Janie is pretty good and spends most of her time sleeping, so I'll fill you in on what we do to keep amused.

When my mom came to visit, she brought me The Book of Basketball by writer Bill Simmons. I'm also reading The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel and have Tony Dungy's book The Mentor Leader on deck. It's not too easy to find hard copies of American books here in Shanghai, but they can be found. There are even book carts that roam the expat neighborhoods that sell more popular titles for only a few dollars each, but to find new and unique titles, you gotta import.

In China, the internet is a different animal than it is in the US. Yes, the restrictions are annoying, but the lack of copyright infringement laws almost makes us forget all about it. Allow me to introduce you my good friends, Youku, Tudou and PPTV. These are the Youtubes of China, only with no time limits and no restrictions. Daisy and I just finished Season 1 of Modern Family and are now on Season 1 of Community, both of which we find hilarious. I just finished the HBO documentary series, 24/7 about two NHL hockey teams and it was awesome. I never thought I'd use hockey and awesome in the same sentence. HBO produces shows like no other. I just got started on Boardwalk Empire and I love it so far. After The Wire, The Sopranos, Band of Brothers and Rome, I have extremely high hopes for this one. Friday Night Lights, How to Make It In America and Entourage are also on the list to see next. I like to wait until the entire season is finished and then watch it all. PPTV is my answer for all live sporting events. Every game at the click of a mouse. Even past games are streamed, so I can go back and watch.; Split screen NBA games!

127 Hours on PPTV; UFC 125 on demand

Yes, I said shopping. This one, I saved for last. China is widely known for easy access to cheap goods. I don't know if they're fake, stolen or just mass produced, but you can find almost anything in China. And there is ONE place find it all. A magical land called It is Ebay on steroids. In fact, it is the reason that Ebay won't make it here in China. ANYTHING and EVERYTHING is available on Taobao. Things you would never imagine you could find in China. At incredible prices. And for about $3 USD shipping, it arrives at your door within 2 - 3 days. A short list of a few things we've purchased from Taobao in the past few months:
- Fire Extinguisher and Smoke Alarm
- Air Jordan 1 Retros/Nike Lebron Zoom Soldier III
- Huggies Diapers (our main source)
- MMA fighting gloves
- Motorcycle Helmets
- Snuggies
- Baking supplies
- Dr. Seuss Books (in English and Chinese!)
It is an online shoppers dream. I'm not sure if you can access it in the US, but give it a try and let me know. The site is in Chinese, but you can search using English brand names. Google translate also is a great help. The standard answer when one of us says "I want to get ______." is "Check Taobao." and some of the purchases we've made

Sorry if this post seemed mundane. But as this blog is about what we're doing out here in China, that's what I shared. Caring for a newborn is tiring, so it gives us an excuse to unwind when we can. If you guys have any recommendations on books, shows or movies that you like, let us know, I'd love to hear them.

Monday, January 3, 2011

1 Month Old (Finally)

posted by Alan
click on pictures to see them full size

The many faces of Janie

2011 is here and Janie turned one month old yesterday. I'm counting on the first month of baby being the hardest one, which is what most people have claimed. I'm ready for her to put on a baseball glove and start playing catch already.

Yesterday, a friend asked "So after one month, what is the best thing about being a father?" I had no answer at first. As I said in the last post, there wasn't much to enjoy about that first month. So my answer came out raw and real, with no preconceived planning: "Watching the effect that she has on other people." As I thought about it more and more, I think that will be the answer for the rest of my life. There will be nothing that can make me more proud of my daughter than to watch her bring joy to other people's lives. That is and will always be the best thing about being a father to me.
So, Daisy and I have been missing NYC lately. I think it's a combination of my mom being here, seeing and hearing from everyone over the holidays, and most of our friends here in Shanghai being away from the holidays also. I'm also in the middle of watching Wall Street 2. There is no replacing Christmas at home with your family and friends. Even when we played A Christmas Story on TV the whole day.

Janie's first Christmas

That being said, it was great to have my mom and my cousin George over here last month. Home felt that much closer.