Tag Archives: Huilin

The Sino-American Space Program

My son Huilin loves Space, Rockets, and everything having to do with Space and Rockets. He’s logged many hours on my lap playing Kerbal Space Program. He’s been to Cape Canaveral and toured the Kennedy Space Center. He’s been to Washington, D.C. and toured the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. In short, he’s addicted.

So it was only natural that this past Christmas waiting under the tree, having been carefully acquired from the finest Chinese suppliers by an ever-thoughtful Santa Claus, was a model rocket kit.

My package delivery boy, like most Chinese men, was a big basketball fan.

Continue reading The Sino-American Space Program

“Master of Minnows” – Taking Huilin Fishing in Benxi

Fishing is part of being a Heath. I had a rod in my hands as soon as I could ask for one. But where we live in China the natural environmental condition is very poor. There are artificial fishing ponds, but sitting for hours in the sun hoping for a bite is no way to introduce a child to fishing. There will be plenty of opportunity to disappoint yourself when you’re older!

So these few years I had not made any great effort to take Huilin fishing. Eventually, however, he began to express an interest and so I asked my cousin-in-law Dandan to take us out when he had time. Dandan is a few years younger than me and an accomplished fisherman in the northeast Chinese style. The fish one typically catches here would be better classified as “bait” in America – they are truly that small.

But a fish is a fish, and fishing is fishing, and my son Huilin wanted to go fishing. So with thanks in our hearts, one brisk afternoon in October we piled into a borrowed minivan and drove out into the countryside. Continue reading “Master of Minnows” – Taking Huilin Fishing in Benxi

参观棋盘山的向阳寺 – Visiting Qipanshan’s “Sun-facing Temple”

In late June, when Spider was only three weeks old, I took advantage of a beautiful morning to drag the entire group – wife, M-I-L, son, and puppy – to the nearby Xiangyang Temple for some fresh air.

Xiangyang Temple (向阳寺), literally “Sun-facing Temple”, overlooks the southwestern reaches of Qipanshan lake. You can see the temple and surrounding area for yourself via Google Earth if you input the following coordinates in GE’s search bar:

41°55’52.75″ N, 123°38’41.75″ E

According to the temple’s own history, it was built around 500 years ago. I declare that unlikely on the grounds that this part of China was very sparsely populated during the time claimed. Things didn’t start really happening around here until the Manchus declared Shenyang their capital in the 1600s. Furthermore, whatever structures may have existed by the 20th century were almost certainly destroyed during the Cultural Revolution as part of the “Four Olds” campaign by the Red Guards and other associated geniuses. That all the buildings on the grounds look brand-spanking new (and probably are) does not in any way detract from the experience, however! The architecture is still lovely.

View of the main gate from the upper parking lot
View of the main gate from the upper parking lot

Continue reading 参观棋盘山的向阳寺 – Visiting Qipanshan’s “Sun-facing Temple”

Watching the Transit of Venus!

It’s hard to get excited about astronomical phenomena when you live in China. The air quality and light pollution are so bad that almost nothing of note is visible.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that 2012-06-05/06 was the last Transit of Venus this century, and that the next won’t occur until 2117 when we’ll all be quite dead!

For once, China was perfectly situated to view the transit.

I'm the red donut! "Entire Transit Visible" - yeah baby!
I’m the red donut! “Entire Transit Visible” – yeah baby!

And as this occurs during the day – about 0600 to 1200 for us in Shenyang – one needn’t have worried about light pollution. That left us with air quality and bad weather as the only limiting factors.

Unfortunately, the weather the entire preceding week was rain, even hail at one point! As late as 2200 the night before the weather forecast for Wednesday morning was cloudy and/or stormy.

But Drew was not dissuaded!

Continue reading Watching the Transit of Venus!

12 months, 13 faces

Huilin celebrated his first birthday today! The first year flew past much too quickly for his father, but I think his mommy is already counting down the days until he leaves for college… we shan’t criticize her though, she has been home with him almost every day since he arrived. Superbaby can wear anyone out!

To commemorate this occasion, here are 13 photos of HMH. Each photo was taken on or very nearly on a monthly interval. It’s fascinating how much his face has changed as he’s grown older!

Continue reading 12 months, 13 faces

Spring in Shenyang!


One year of Shenyang weather features Winter facing off against Summer, with a smattering of Spring and Autumn lasting about two weeks each. On Thursday all the peach trees around town started blooming. Spring had arrived! And about a week later it’ll be Summer! Quick! Better get outside and enjoy it right now!

So this afternoon Huilin’s maternal grandfather (“Laoye” in Chinese) came over and we went to the park!

Continue reading Spring in Shenyang!

Reflections on 7 Months of Life with Huilin

As my son marks 7 months outside the womb, it seems like a good time to look back over his first half year earthside.

When Huilin was born Ma Li and I were not fully prepared. We had the bare essentials, but we fell far short of the idyllic young couple that furnishes an entire baby room from floor to ceiling. However, our redemption, and the reason for our relatively painless transition into parenthood, was in being fully aware of just how unprepared we were. There was no hubris, no denial, just lots and lots of … shopping!

The one area of our preparations in which I personally fell shortest, and was also completely blindsided by, was muscles – specifically that extensive array of tiny muscles which fan across your shoulders, lower neck, and upper back. Huilin was only 3.5kg when he was born, but the constant lifting, bending, and leaning associated with manipulating a newborn quickly left my entire upper back in knots. The first few weeks were really quite painful, but by the end of the first month my back and shoulders had caught up with his weight, and from there I resolved to really start diligently exercising again to ensure I’d always be able to not only heft my little monster, but swing him about with ease.

Continue reading Reflections on 7 Months of Life with Huilin

Uncle Dave visits Huilin!

Liverpool Dave is the oldest friend I have in China. By oldest, of course, I mean longest relationship… though he is getting up in years (you reading this, pal?) – haha.

I met Dave only a few weeks after I arrived back in Autumn 2007. We were both on staff at the same university. We discovered mutual appreciation for football, good beer, and games… and that was that.

Since then he’s been my most dependable, steadfast friend here. He even served in my wedding!

3 years ago today!
3 years ago today!

Each year at Yuletide, Dave and I do a themed gift exchange. The theme is usually “things our wives won’t let us buy for ourselves, so we’ll give them to each other” like wargames and such, but for 2010 it was hometown team jerseys. Dave got me a lovely Newcastle United kit (“Liverpool” Dave moved to Newcastle when he was still a young lass) and I got him the always badass black Tampa Bay Lightning sweater.

Dave was back in England visiting relatives when Huilin was born, and finally had a chance to stop by to see the Heathspawn a few days ago.

Huilin snarls at the newcomer...
Huilin snarls at the newcomer…

But Dave wasn’t finished! During his swing through home he visited the Newcastle United shop and picked up a full kit for little Huilin, customized with his name and number – 2 being the day of May on which he was born.

Like father like son...
Like father like son…

Great uncle? or greatest uncle?

Daddy's lil' hooligan!
Daddy’s lil’ hooligan!

COD in the PRC

I like computers… a lot.

As a student, my lack of real income always prevented me from indulging in computational excess.

As an adult male, I have ample income for such frivolity, however I also have a wife. The outcome is the same.

Even so, occasionally I do get the opportunity to purchase this or that bit of Turing perfection; and like any good geek I head straight to newegg.

I love you!
I love you!

Moving to China, I was heartbroken that I would no longer be able to give newegg all my money. They don’t ship to China.

Why don’t they ship to China? Because they have their own special Chinese version!


newegg in China is called “xin dan”, which literally translates to “new egg”


Anyways, there are two quirky things about Xindan:

  1. they don’t sell the really bleeding edge hardware that’s readily available on the U.S. site
  2. they let you pay COD

The first quirk doesn’t bother me because my wife won’t let me buy I can’t afford bleeding edge hardware. I suppose they figure there isn’t much market for it? Too many Chinese wives in China? Average Chinese income too low?

The second quirk is worth a closer look!

Continue reading COD in the PRC