I love the friendliness and quietness of South Dakota!  We were getting some new vinyl for Grandma’s Creta’s bathroom which is being remodeled, when I noticed this sign.

The hardware store is big, like many other places.  We were the only customers in there the whole time.  Just give a little shout and the friendly men will help you with whatever you need to find.

Lots and lots of home-building/remodeling materials.  It makes me excited to build a house when we get back to the US.

On the other side of the world

Last night, Jon and I were driving his dad’s big pickup truck down the empty highway underneath a sky full of stars, listening to country music.

I couldn’t help but think of what we might have been doing in Shanghai.  We’d be squished in the back of a taxi, veering around hundreds of other taxis underneath the city lights and skyscrapers, listening to the blaring of horns and some loud Chinese yabbering on the radio.

I’m pretty sure that not many people have “homes” both in a city of 22 million and outside of a town of 200.  Each of our homes has upsides and downsides.

More photos from flying

Some of my blog’s features weren’t working properly, but an upgrade fixed that.

Here are the rest of the photos I took when flying all around Howard in Jenny’s “Stinson Flying Station Wagon.”

Flying over the farm

When I was home, mom’s friend Jenny took me up in her airplane (and even let me fly!) Here are a couple of photos from the flight.  More to come tomorrow!

IMG_0454_smThe farm, seen from the East.

IMG_0431_smJason and Emily’s farm, from the South.

Ultrasounding cattle

This is probably my last post from South Dakota photos for a while! (Until October, anyway.)

When I was home, Jason and dad spent a couple days ultrasounding cattle. Not to check if they were pregnant, but to determine their back fat and marbling and the date they would be ready to sell.

favorite photos

Flowers Dad and I got mom for Mother’s Day and dad’s boot.  Dirty, cracked leather…  I like it!

Auto-steering tractor

Everytime I go home we have some fancy new-fangled thing. 
This new tractor has auto-steering.  It has a computer and GPS in it.  Dad needed to turn the tractor at the end of the row, get it about where he was supposed to start planting the next row, and the auto-steer took over.  It drove the tractor in a straight line until Dad took over to turn around.
This computer/GPS also keeps track of things like what variety of corn was planted, what time, which field it is, etc.  At harvest time, the computer is put in the combine, where it records moisture, bushels per acre of yield, etc.  Dad and Jason can now keep incredibily detailed track of everything about a field.

Planting Corn

Dad planting “Round-up Ready” corn.

birthday cake

This is the cake I made dad for his 60th birthday.  It’s a retro-colored cake.
(Really, the frosting was supposed to be white, but mom didn’t have any white shortening.  So it turned out yellow.  I decided to tint it slightly blue, but the blue combined with the yellow to make green.  So I kept adding blue until it wasn’t green.  Not exactly what I had in mind!)

photos from South Dakota

Here are some more photos from my trip home – one night we went to look at the cows and their new calves with Shannon and Chloe. Chloe kept saying “Hi Baby Cows!” in a super cute 3-year-old voice. 

The town, Vilas, is a few minutes west of Howard.  Yes, that is a population sign, and yes, it does say 19. 

When people in China say “I’m from a small city, only 2 million people” we can’t quite comprehend what is small about that.  I think our whole state has a population of 800,000, with a population density of 1 person per 1.7 square kilometers.

Toastmasters in China

I gave a speech at the District 78 Toastmasters Convention while I was at home.  Here is a link to it.

China has blocked Blogger, which I use to publish my blog.  Posting will be slim for a few weeks.  I can post via email, but then I can’t edit it.  Everyone seems to think the block will be lifted after the anniversary of a certain incident in Beijing involving a certain square.

I don’t think photos will come through either.  If there is no photo with this post, I can’t post photos and probably won’t post until the block is lifted, unless I just host the images on my own server…  Anyway, hopefully this test post works!


Align Center

I just LOVE my Canon 5D MarkII!!

South Dakota

Fixing Fence

Canvas prints

Last week at the photo mall, we printed a couple photos on canvas. It cost 120 RMB ($17) for a 30 x 40 inch print. It actually cost more to get it stretched across a custom-made frame.

I took this photo near the Minor farm outside of Nisland.


Jon’s birthday is March 12 and mine is March 13. (Yeah, what a coincidence.) Our co-workers surprised us with cakes and singing, and featured us in the employee newsletter.

October 12 – Bridgewater

Jon and Megan invited us to Bridgewater to sit by the fire and drink beer.

I definitely was missing America….

And what will they think of next? Budweiser came out with lime-flavored beer. Maybe they are trying to compete with Corona (which is the beer that should always have a lime in it.)

This is Blaze – she’s a really sweet Rottweiler.

Jon got a new camera, the SD1100IS. It has a pretty good macro mode and also takes time lapse videos. (I will post some eventually.)

John and Megs

Back to blogging

It’s been a month since I updated, and two months since I actually wrote anything substantial. I will make an attempt to get back into it a little bit. Please do keep coming back…

My friend/co-worker Steve who is moving to China said his mom checks my blog daily. Hi, Steve’s mom! I see my counter is still going up so I guess some people are still interested. Steve said that my blog was a reason some of his friends and relatives had a realistic view of what Shanghai is like. That was pretty much my purpose in blogging – to share some of my experiences with everyone back home.

The bad news is that my blog is blocked in China again. What a bummer. I hosted it on my own domain ( instead of because blogspot used to be blocked. The only thing that I can think of is that I said “p r a y e r service” in a post about Jared. I can’t think of any other reason that the internet censors of China would find my blog suddenly a threat to the Chinese people. My whole domain is blocked so no one can get to either.

October 5th – Wiener dog races

Deadwood was holding their annual Oktoberfest celebration that weekend. It included Wiener Dog races!

First there was a costume contest:

Then the race! There were several heats. Most of the dogs didn’t care too much about being the first to the other end – they were more interested in each other.

This guy won! He’d been in a few competitions before. His owner’s secret was to have a T-bone in his pocket, let him smell it right before the race, and hold it so the dog would race to the bone. It worked!

October 4th – Gambling in Deadwood

Before we moved to China, we went to Deadwood with Jon’s parents, brother and sister-in-law. We cashed in some hotel points for 3 king suites. We decided to do this again. Typically, I hate to gamble. I can’t even put in a whole roll of nickels before I get tired of throwing the money away. This time, I got lucky though!!

I’d put in just a few nickels when I hit it big! (OK, so it was about $40. But that’s a lot when you are betting 5 cents!) So, I cashed out just to hear the hundreds of nickels clinking out of the machine. The sound of winning!

This made me a bit braver to put in some more money. I still liked cashing out the best though. Jon also made some money playing black jack. Seriously, we came out over $100 ahead on gambling. That never happens. We decide how much money we are going to allow ourselves and when it’s gone, that’s the amount we traded for an evening of entertainment.

Whenever we go home, we buy a few dollars worth of scratch off lottery tickets. It helps pass the 6 hours it takes to drive from Jon’s parents house to my parent’s house. This time, we bought 6 tickets and 4 of those were winners! Most of them just covered the cost of the ticket, so nothing special. We really liked the design of the Crazy Cat tickets though – it reminded us of the paw-waving cat that you see in about every shop in China.

American Food

One of the best things about being home is the FOOD! Jon said, “Even the bottled water here taste’s better.” (I agree.) Things I have really enjoyed so far:

  • A thick steak grilled to medium-rare over a charcoal grill, along with corn on the cob (thanks Dave!)
  • Mussels, crab, and calamari at The Fransiscan in Fishermans Wharf
  • Blue Moon beer (enjoyed in the sun at a restaurant overlooking the harbor in San Francisco)
  • Broccoli cheese soup in a breadbowl at Quiznos
  • A turkey-swiss with ranch croissant at a local coffee shop
  • Chicken strips with ranch & BBQ sauce, a baked potato with cream cheese, and cottage cheese
  • Indian taco (that was Jon’s)
  • Wheatables (crackers)
  • Milk! (non-tainted)

Fun with Airport Codes

Sept 26 – PVG to SFO
Sept 28 – SFO to DEN to RAP
Oct 5 – Drive East
Oct 13 – BKX
Oct 17 – FSD to LAS
Oct 19 – LAS to SFO to PVG

See many of you in the USA soon!


I’ve always loved getting mail. Today I got a package with a elephant stamp from Thailand. Something about the writing, elephant and baht made it seem quite exotic to me (hence worthy of a photo). Thanks Esther!

On our farm, the mailbox was located on the gravel road at the end of the driveway, which is typical in the midwest. I heard a story once that my cousin John had a girl from California visiting the farm. Apparently she had never been in such a desolate area (said sarcastically by me) because she said to John “You really get mail out here?”

To which he solemnly replied, “Actually, it’s just for looks. The Pony Express does come by once a week though.”

more rooftop photos….

Esther saw my photos from the roof so wanted to take some of her own. That challenged me to get some better ones!

Fisheye view from the roof

We went up to the roof to watch the sunset. It didn’t actually sink behind the buildings, but quite aways above them where the smog covered everything. The fisheye captures 180 degrees but distorts everything. It can have some cool effects.

Steve and Jon looking out to Zhongshan Park.

The guys were debating if they hit golf balls from the roof, could they land on the track at the girls’ school below? Things soon got into discussions of trajectory and such… engineers….

Another time lapse

Yet another one… I think maybe they are all too similar!
But I still really like the view of Shanghai from our balcony.

Happy 4th of July!!

Well, it’s the 4th and all of our friends back home are probably grilling, drinking and playing lawn games. *sigh* Wish I was there too!!

Dan and Wendy came over tonight and somehow we started talking about Schoolhouse Rock. (YouTube has about everything you can imagine on it, so we jumped on to show them some clips.) It just so happens that each of the things we played were pretty patrotic.

Enjoy the trip down memory lane!

and one of the most popular ones…. Conjunction Junction!


I’m sure you’ve heard about the earthquake that hit China this afternoon. It was a 7.8 on the Richter scale and located around Chengdu. They confirmed about 7,000 dead and rising. Go to for the latest news.

Aftershocks were felt all over the country. Jon was in Beijing and it recieved some of the worst aftershocks. Fortunately, they weren’t that bad and no one has been reported killed by them. He felt the shaking and everyone in the Dak office ran down all of the steps and out of the building.

After I recieved a call from him, I got a call from my boss’s wife, Sai. She was on Nanjing Lu and felt it there too. At Dak Shanghai, we didn’t feel anything, but they felt it in Hongqiao too.

I just wanted to let everyone know that we are OK-la!!


I discovered the Photomerge tool in CS3 – it is pretty sweet. It does an excellent job of stitching together photos! The image above was made of 4 photos taken off our balcony. A couple weeks ago the sky was actually blue, so I had to capture it.

trip home

Jon’s grandmother passed away this week. We found out about midnight Tuesday and were on a plane Thursday. We’ll be in Nisland for about a week.

The plane from Denver to Rapid City was probably the smallest commercial plane I’ve been on – just 32 seats. Jon has taken an even smaller plane in Australia that was a really rough ride.

Leon has had four sets of twin calves already, and he’s only about halfway through calving! This is a twin who’s mother left her, so he’s been keeping her in the shop and feeding her with a bottle. All of the kids were pretty excited to feed and pet her.

I helped make a collage of photos of Grandma Sadie. The service was today and it was really nice. Jenni really made the service the way Sadie would have liked it – from the old country music to the chili pepper cloth and cactus on the coffin. She also wrote an eulogy that really showed Sadie’s character; she had family members smiling through their tears at some of the stories that captured the essence of her personality.


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