Only a few days left in 2005. For those of you thinking about last minute tax deductions for charitable contributions, the Foundation that we set up for our parents can now accept credit cards:
The Foundation is growing very quickly and we all look forward to giving our first scholarship to a young student in 2006.
Thanks for your generosity! And look for more Foundation news next year. Angie and I may be setting up a fundraising event or two. Should be a fun way to meet people and give to a good cause.
The other night a friend asked about the baby and if they were eligible for Chinese citizenship. Angie and I were a bit surprised. We'd actually never considered it. Of course, the idea would be to try to get some kind of dual citizenship, but the interesting thing to us was that everyone else who had asked this question had asked from the perspective of ensuring that the baby would be a US citizen.
I always tease Angie about our Shanghai-born baby's ineligibilty to become President of the US (Article II), but I'd never seriously thought about it the other way. Can I imagine a lifelong future for the baby here in China only? Could I dream for the baby to be in the Chinese Politburo?
I definitely see a future for us and our family that includes China to a large, large extent. Of course our careers, our personal experiences, etc... have much to gain from that, but Angie and I are also devoted to the idea of giving back to China in some way. To helping China find its way into a bright future. To helping shape that future with the civic (and ethical and moral) gifts that we were blessed with in the US and from our own families.
But for now, there is still a long way for China to go. The rule of law, protection of individual rights, certain human rights and freedoms, are only on their way. I do believe that the current government recognizes that these types of reforms are inevitable for true, long-term stability, but the short-term may not be, and in fact has not proven to be, a straight path.
Simply put, given that our baby can't have dual citizenship (US & China wouldn't recognize it), besides the fact that it would seriously jeopardize my hopes of the little one becoming a US (elected) public servant, could you imagine us choosing Chinese citizenship only over US only? There may be a time when that is a much more difficult question to answer, as China continues to ascend, and sadly, if the US continues to descend (see the recent Bush-Cheney efforts to concetrate power in the executive vis a vis the NYTimes recent series on China's strengthening court system), who is to say that our grandkids might not want more than anything to be born Chinese citizens?
I've been working on this post for a few days, and it's getting unwieldy. I'll just chunk it out and try to follow up with more posts in the near future:
I'll spare you the China start-up and new venture jokes, and just say of all the decisions that Angie and I have made one of the biggest has certainly been where to have our baby. Of course, the decision wasn't an easy one, but after much deliberation, we've decided to have our first child here in a Chinese hospital. [please note I didn't say we "labored" over the decision]
With everything that's happened over the last few months, being closer to family has certainly become an even bigger priority for Angie and me. Right when we lost Dad and everything was turned upside down, Angie and I thought it might be best to move back to the US right away. Certainly there was some altruism in this potential move. We thought we could really help the family through this tough time, but another part was selfish too. We missed everyone and just wanted to be "home" again. Of course part of that had to do with just missing Dad, something that moving back to the US might even make worse, but another part was a feeling of not wanting to waste any time that we might have spent together, since time now felt so fleeting.
But things have been going well here for both Angie and me. Our careers have certainly developed in new and fascinating ways (in our day jobs and beyond), we've made a lot of great friends, and we've found a growing affection for Shanghai and for China. And deep down we thought about the sacrifices that our parents and whole families made to get us to the point in our lives and our careers where we stood. We both talked about how this move to China made us understand our family histories of immigration better and more deeply. Would we be throwing things away by heading back in haste?
A week later, when Angie and I found out we were pregnant, everything changed. Besides another shift in priorities and considerations, being pregnant and the choice of having the baby here in Shanghai or in the US brought a host of practical points into focus. Here's a brief word on a few of them:
Pollution: the pollution here is terrible. Bad enough for us before, but with Angie pregnant, she's even more sensitive. The filthy trucks and buses spewing out black smoke. The noxious smells emanating from random buildings. The lack of smoking courtesy as people smoke in elevators, taxis and nearly every restaurant. Add this to questionable hygeine and safety standards and it makes for a tough place to be in our 30s even moreso for the baby's less than zeroes. Unless this place shapes up, and quick, I can't imagine raising a healthy baby under these conditions.
Healthcare: the hospital we found, Huashan. Is of reassuringly high standards. At least the foreigners service side is. The local side seems like something out of an old Zhang Yimou movie: proletarian, dark and rough around the edges. Huashan has an OB/GYN clinic called American Sino and it's where a few friends have had their babies. The birthing center, in the main hospital, is clean and everyone there is friendly. A fold-out couch in each room testifies to the kind of thoughtfulness not seen in that Zhang Yimou movie. Plus they recently opened a beautiful new pre-natal clinic down the road. It's got a "internet cafe" waiting room and as Angie calls it design out of the W Hotel chain.
The year is winding down. Still quite busy at the office as the CEO has more cycles to work with the team. We've had an average of three meetings a day all week. Mostly drilling down into a couple of financial models we've been working on. No big deal.
But Angie and I are in this nervous period that is a run-up to our next doctor's appointment. Like the few days before our last appointment, we're getting anxious to see the baby again. But these next six days are a bit more loaded, because we have every expectation that this next appointment is the one where we'll find out the baby's sex. Yoiks.
Actually we should've found out last visit, the doctor said the baby was big enough, but he/she had his/her legs crossed during the ultrasound. Maybe shyness?
links for 2005-12-27
links for 2005-12-26
As Christmas catches on here in China, it's interesting to think of the cultural, social and economic forces that are at play, as they were in the US at earlier times.
Rule of law or of men. Shame that the US is no longer the explemplar it once was in this debate.
FWIW, we get more excited about Chinese films than Hollywood films these days.
Sorry the posts have been few and far between lately. Here are the few reasons, which I hope to not list as excuses, but as springboards to future posts:
1. Work: busy with a couple of new projects at work; reasonably interesting stuff. A new project related to our recently announced solar energy project and a new project related to our CMOS image sensor joint venture from last year. Both early stage deals.
2. More work: I've been working with a few great guys on a side venture that we're officially launching soon. We've been consulting with Chinese based start-ups and helping them with raising funds from venture capitalists. Similar functionally to what I do during my days, but a nice balance since most of my SMIC stuff is hardware-related and with multinational or international companies. With this stuff, I'm getting more exposure to Chinese start-ups and entrepreneurs. Plus the guys are a lot of fun. We're calling the group Shanghai Venture Partners. More info to come certainly.
3. Sick: ack, ack. I've been nursing a bad infection. The doctor at Huashan Hospital said that it was viral, but it felt like previous bouts of tonsilitis for which they gave me antibiotics. I roughed it for about four days before taking some home prescribed amoxycillin. Getting better now, but not quite done.
4. Bschool: lots of studying, lots of homework. Phew.
5. Baby: and of course, the big, big news. As hinted at previously, Angie and I are pregnant. So loads of reading, doctor's visits, talking to friends and family, and lots of planning. We know our world will change completely, but we really don't have a clue to just how true that statement will be. But also lots and lots of fun and excitement! Thinking of baby names, researching sick cameras to splurge on, etc...
Ta-ta for now. Christmas day and my pregnant wife beckon!
Angie and I started our Christmas weekend with lunch at one of our favorite restaurants in town, Vegetarian Lifestyle. Then it was on to Dragonfly for two hours of massages, a trip to Shanghai's biggest baby mall, a quick dinner at home, and then the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra at the Musical Hall. A silly and fun Christmas concert. Then home to exchange gifts. Angie got me a wonderful sweater and hat, made me a matching cashmere scarf, got me a pile of cool Bruce Lee postcards, and two really neat picture frames. Great gifts from the heart.
Today is Christmas morning and we're hoping for calls from the family soon. We awoke to the familiar sounds of our neighbors upstairs drilling into the floorboards. It's been two weeks of drilling, nailing, sawing, etc... When I say our neighbors, I mean our neighbors. The construction crew that is doing renovations is living in the empty apartment while they work seven days a week from 8am to 8pm. That's pretty typical. Especially around this time of year with everyone trying to make a few extra yuan before the new year. Seems a lot of friends are going through the same these days. The downside of growth I suppose.
Well, Merry Christmas to everyone who is celebrating either a holy Christian day or an All-American secular day of family and giving.
links for 2005-12-23
links for 2005-12-15
The War on Christmas put in its place