Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Immigration Editorial

Immigration Editorial

A lady wrote the best letter in the Editorials in ages!! It explains things better than all the baloney you hear on TV.

Recently large demonstrations have taken place across the country protesting the fact that Congress is finally addressing the issue of illegal immigration. Certain people are angry that the US might protect its own borders, might make it harder to sneak into this country and, once here, to stay indefinitely. Let me see if I correctly understand the thinking behind these protests.

Let's say I break into your house. Let's say that when you discover me in your house, you insist that I leave. But I say, "I've made all the beds and washed the dishes and did the laundry and swept the floors; I've done all the things you don't like to do. I'm hard-working and honest (except for when I broke into your house).

According to the protesters, not only must you let me stay, you must add me to your family's insurance plan, educate my kids, and provide other benefits to me and to my family (my husband will do your yard work because he too is hard-working and honest, except for that breaking in part). If you try to call the police or force me out, I will call my friends who will picket your house carrying signs that proclaim my right to be there.

It's only fair, after all, because you have a nicer house than I do, and I'm just trying to better myself. I'm hard-working and honest, um, except for well, you know.

And what a deal it is for me!! I live in your house, contributing only a fraction of the cost of my keep, and there is nothing you can do about it without being accused of selfishness, prejudice and being an anti-housebreaker. Oh yeah, and I want you to learn my language so you can communicate with me.

Why can't people see how ridiculous this is?! Only in America.

Under GOD

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Illegal Immigrants in Mexico

Illegal Immigrants in Mexico

The following is from a director with SW BELL in Mexico City.

I spent five years working in Mexico.

I worked under a tourist visa for three months and could legally renew it for three more months. After that you were working illegally. I was technically illegal for three weeks waiting on the FM3 approval.

During that six months our Mexican and US Attorneys were working to secure a permanent work visa called a FM3. It was in addition to my US passport that I had to show each time I entered and left the country. Barbara's was the same except hers did not permit her to work.

To apply for the FM3 I needed to submit the following notarized originals (not copies) of my:

1. Birth certificates for Barbara and me.

2. Marriage certificate.

3. High school transcripts and proof of graduation.

4. College transcripts for every college I attended and proof of graduation.

5. Two letters of recommendation from supervisors I had worked for at least one year.

6. A letter from The ST. Louis Chief of Police indicating I had no arrest record in the US and no outstanding warrants and was "a citizen in good standing."

7. Finally; I had to write a letter about myself that clearly stated why there was no Mexican citizen with my skills and why my skills were important to Mexico. We called it our "I am the greatest person on earth" letter. It was fun to write.

All of the above were in English that had to be translated into Spanish and be certified as legal translations and our signatures notarized. It produced a folder about 1.5 inches thick with English on the left side and Spanish on the right.

Once they were completed Barbara and I spent about five hours accompanied by a Mexican attorney touring Mexican government office locations and being photographed and fingerprinted at least three times. At each location (and we remember at least four locations) we were instructed on Mexican tax, labor, housing, and criminal law and that we were required to obey their laws or face the consequences. We could not protest any of the government's actions or we would be committing a felony. We paid out four thousand dollars in fees and bribes to complete the process. When this was done we could legally bring in our household goods that were held by US customs in Loredo Texas. This meant we rented furniture in Mexico while awaiting our goods. There were extensive fees involved here that the company paid.

We could not buy a home and were required to rent at very high rates and under contract and compliance with Mexican law.

We were required to get a Mexican drivers license. This was an amazing process. The company arranged for the licensing agency to come to our headquarters location with their photography and finger print equipment and the laminating machine. We showed our US license, were photographed and fingerprinted again and issued the license instantly after paying out a six dollar fee. We did not take a written or driving test and never received instructions on the rules of the road. Our only instruction was never give a policeman your license if stopped and asked. We were instructed to hold it against the inside window away from his grasp. If he got his hands on it you would have to pay ransom to get it back.

We then had to pay and file Mexican income tax annually using the number of our FM3 as our ID number. The companies Mexican accountants did this for us and we just signed what they prepared. I was about twenty legal size pages annually.

The FM 3 was good for three years and renewable for two more after paying more fees.

Leaving the country meant turning in the FM# and certifying we were leaving no debts behind and no outstanding legal affairs (warrants, tickets or liens) before our household goods were released to customs.

It was a real adventure and if any of our senators or congressmen went through it once they would have a different attitude toward Mexico.

The Mexican Government uses its vast military and police forces to keep its citizens intimidated and compliant. They never protest at their White House or government offices but do protest daily in front of the United States Embassy. The US embassy looks like a strongly reinforced fortress and during most protests the Mexican Military surround the block with their men standing shoulder to shoulder in full riot gear to protect the Embassy. These protests are never shown on US or Mexican TV. There is a large public park across the street where they do their protesting. Anything can cause a protest such as proposed law changes in California or Texas.

Please feel free to share this with everyone who thinks we are being hard on illegal immigrants.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Why learning English is so difficult.

Why learning English is so difficult…

1. The bandage was wound around the wound.

2. The farm was used to produce produce.

3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4. We must polish the Polish furniture.

5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present

8. I did not object to the object.

9. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

10. They were too close to the door to close it.

11. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

12. How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

13. I shed my clothes in the shed.

There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in a hamburger; neither apple nor pine in a pine-apple. English muffins weren't invented in England, nor French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that bakers bake, but grocers don't groce? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth?

One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? We ship by truck and send cargo by ship?

Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which our house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on. English was invented by people, not computers and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn't a race at all ).

That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

And finally, how about when you want to shut down your computer you have to hit "START".

Conservatives and Liberals: A definition.

Conservatives & Liberals - A definition

Humans existed as members of small bands of nomadic hunters and gatherers. They lived on deer in the mountains during the summer and would go to the coast and live on fish and lobster in winter.

The 2 most important events in all of history were the invention of beer and the invention of the wheel. The wheel was invented to get man to the beer. These were the foundation of modern civilization and together were the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into 2 distinct subgroups: Liberals and Conservatives.

Once beer was discovered it required grain and that was the beginning of agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented yet, so while our early human ancestors were sitting around waiting for them to be invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That's how villages were formed.

Some men spent their days tracking and killing animals to B-B-Q at night while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known as "the Conservative movement."

Other men who were weaker and less skilled at hunting learned to live off the conservatives by showing up for the nightly B-B-Q's and doing the sewing, fetching and hair dressing. This was the beginning of the Liberal movement. Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into women. The rest became known as 'girliemen.'

Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the domestication of cats, the invention of group therapy and group hugs and the concept of democratic voting to decide how to divide the meat and beer that conservatives provided.

Over the years conservatives came to be symbolized by the largest, most powerful land animal on earth, the elephant. Liberals are symbolized by the jackass.

Modern liberals like imported beer (with lime added), but most prefer white wine or imported bottled water. They eat raw fish but like their beef well done. Sushi, tofu, and French food are standard liberal fare.

Another interesting revolutionary side note about liberals: most of their women have higher testosterone levels than their men. Most social workers, personal injury attorneys, journalists, dreamers in Hollywood and group therapists are liberals. Liberals invented the designated hitter rule because it wasn't "fair" to make the pitcher also bat.

Conservatives drink domestic beer. They eat red meat and still provide for their women. Conservatives are big-game hunters, rodeo cowboys, lumberjacks, construction workers,firemen, medical doctors, police officers, corporate executives, Marines, athletes and generally anyone who works productively. Conservatives who own companies hire other conservatives who want to work for a living.

Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to "govern" the producers and decide what to do with the production. Liberals believe Europeans are more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals remained in Europe when conservatives were coming to America. They crept in after the Wild West was tame and created a business of trying to get MORE for nothing.

Here ends today's lesson in World History.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Is it ever OK to paint the dogs?

Is it ever OK to paint the dogs?

We had a small incident last Thursday that I can laugh about now (sort of), but it’s not like its resolved or anything. You see all of our dogs are still painted red. I have to take my fair share of the blame because I was supposed to be in charge – keeping track of the children and doing what fathers do. I failed pretty badly (and it’s definitely not the first time).

The day started off bad. I went to bed at roughly 3:15 a.m. the night before (I’ve been working lots of overtime to pay for medical bills and Christmas) and I slept through the loud 7 a.m. alarm. My theory is the music from the alarm became incorporated into the dream I was having. Anyway I woke up at about 7:30 a.m. and I had to get Leah and Alex ready and up to the bus stop (by our mailbox) by 7:48a.m. This would be impossible – add to this the fact that I felt laterally like I was walking in mud (I was exhausted). Motivated by my one-track-mind which only wanted more sleep I decided to call the school to tell them that Leah & Alex weren’t feeling well and they wouldn’t be coming to school today. Then I went back to bed – big mistake – huge mistake. I thought I would be OK because the kids are still asleep at this time.

Leah is our oldest child. We try to give her some responsibilities befitting her statue as the oldest which is sometimes to watch over her younger brothers and sister for short periods of time. Cheryl and/or I are within shouting distance if something should go wrong (as they sometimes do). So far more often than not Leah becomes part of the problem and not part of the solution. On this morning everyone was up but Jenna and I. Leah was doing who knows what and the boys (Alex & Ben) decided that now would be a good time to crack open a couple of cans of spray paint (one red and the other light blue) and proceed to paint our three dogs who were helpless in their kennels. They probably tried to paint our cat too but he is free to escape and does so. Cubby got it worse – a full sustained blast to the face with red paint. Pretty much the front 1/3 of his body (including all of his head) is now red. Cubby is now red and black – he looks like some kind of weird mythological creature – a half red, half black little fox like looking thing. Teal’C (our Golden Retriever) just got some red paint along one side of his body. Our black’n’brown hound dog Libby also got some red paint to the face and a bit on his body as well. All three of their kennels are painted, and they also decided to paint our push mower, power washer, parts of our riding mower, parts of the garage floor, the garage space heater, and even Midnight (the cat’s) kennel (which thankfully was unoccupied). Oh yeah – must not forget about the door going into the house (kitchen) and part of the kitchen floor – also painted red. Now this is bad enough but Ben decided to also spray some OFF mosquito repellant on various places in the kitchen. I suspect that Ben was the OFF sprayer and Alex was the paint sprayer because Alex decided to spray Ben a little as well. So when I finally get up and come toward the kitchen I smelled a strong smell of what I at first thought was fingernail polish. Turns out it was mosquito repellant sprayed on the counters and floors in the kitchen, and then I proceeded to the garage…

Well I became pretty mad and the boys spent a real long time in time-out listening to me yell a lot, but I do have to take my fair share of the blame.

I should point out that this isn’t the first time Alex and Ben have went crazy with spray-paint. They decided that the rims of our Durango SUV and Dodge minivan needed to be painted blue one day last summer. It took me several hours of hard polishing with rubbing compound to fix that mess.

Maybe we should hide all of the paint and put it up on a very high shelf.


Good Advices

Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.

Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.

Eat a live toad in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.

If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others. Never buy a car you can't push.

Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you don't have a leg to stand on.

Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

The early worm gets eaten by the bird, so sleep late.

When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

Birthdays are good for you; the more you have, the longer you live.

Ever notice that the people who are late are often much jollier than the people who have to wait for them?

If ignorance is bliss, why aren't more people happy?

You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.

Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened.

We could learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different colors ... but they all have to learn to live in the same box.

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

Happiness comes through doors you didn't even know you left open.

Fourteen Things Learned in 50 Years


by Dave Barry

1. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

2. If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be "meetings."

3. There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."

4. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.

5. You should not confuse your career with your life.

6. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

7. Never lick a steak knife.

8. The most destructive force in the universe is gossip.

9. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight savings time.

10. You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests that you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.

11. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age eleven.

12. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.

13. A person, who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person. (This is very important. Pay attention. It never fails.)

14. Your friends love you anyway.

FINAL Thought for the day: Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.

Time Flies

Time Flies

I was thinking today about how much time flies when you have children. It doesn’t seem like very long ago that Leah was a baby, laying on her back in our living room using her legs to scoot across the floor – riding on her shoulders and the back of her head. She did this enough that it actually gave her a bald spot on the back of her head. I remember she didn’t like me much at first and wouldn’t really ever let me hold her for long, but I remember the night it changed. We were in her blue bedroom and I was lying on the black leather reclining chair with the ottoman and I had put on a lullaby CD that someone from our church had given us. Leah was lying on me & went to sleep as I was holding her and the song “Little Traveler” was playing. I was so happy I was crying. I remember the old Cadillac commercial that had the music of the Led Zeppelin song “Rock’n’Roll” – if Leah was watching she would get up and start dancing. She was between 1 and 2-years-old then. I remember after her second eye surgery when she was one – how afterwards her personality completely changed from a somewhat fussy, slightly confused & bewildered baby to a happy, laughing, and loving child. I remember when our home addition was being built I would video the progress with our camera, and Leah would follow me around saying “me see Leah – me see Leah”. Then I would turn the screen around to where she could see herself and she would get so excited and start laughing and jumping up and down. She was between 2 & 3-years-old then. I remember also around this time that Leah would sing the C.S.I television show theme “Who are you – who who – who who”, and also Queen’s “We will - we will rock you” along with me doing the rhythm “boom boom crash – boom boom crash”. Leah was (and still is) such a cutie girl. She will always be special to us because she is the one who first made us parents.

I remember when I was in Korea to receive Alex how the first night I received him and he left his foster mother & father he just cried and cried so hard for 4 – 5 hours straight. I was in room 401 in Holt’s new guesthouse in Seoul, South Korea on February 6, 2004. I tried to console him, but finally I just let him cry on the bed as I sat and tried to watch Korean television. The next day we were at the Seoul-Incheon airport on our way home, and Alex saw a young lady listening to a walkman. He walked up to her looking at him with his puppy-dog eyes and the lady took her headphones off and put them on Alex’s head & ears. Soon Alex started dancing like a pogo stick – it was hilarious – the lady, Alex’s foster mom, and I were all laughing. Later in Japan as we were waiting for our next flight Alex spied another young Japanese lady eating an orange. Alex walks up to her looking at her with those same puppy-dog eyes and she gives him a slice. Then she gives me a whole orange to feed him. I remember as Alex and I were walking through the airports we were becoming buddies, and Alex would be carrying his stuffed pikachu that his foster mother gave him. At O’Hare airport in Chicago they thought pikachu looked suspicious so they put it through bomb detector machine. Alex has the smiling eyes – his eyes look like little smiles. No woman can resist him. Alex punched our church pastor the first time he met him, and he punched just about everyone else including us, but he thought it was fun. Alex always loved to ride on my shoulders and he still does to this day – but he’s getting so big that it’s becoming more difficult for old dad. He always loved for me to throw him up in the air and catch him as well. I have done this many times and have never dropped him.

Our Benjamin the strong boy - the one who they though might have cerebral palsy, but really has a wrestler’s physique and a lot of energy. He has a belly laugh that is so funny that you can’t help but laugh with him. Ben has a serious set of pipes on him and he knows how to use them in his attempts to impose his will. He lived with his foster family in Seoul which consisted of the mother, father, a 27-year-old sister (who spoke English) and a 25-year-old brother. We got to visit their home and to see Ben in his home environment and it was pretty clear they all adored him, and they were so sad when they had to say goodbye. Ben was sad for about 15 minutes, then he was playing with us and exploring Holt’s old guesthouse where we were staying. Ben loved to take baths and blow bubbles, and he has always loved to play with cars, trucks, and trains. Alex was our hitter / puncher, and Ben was our biter. He could bite and bite hard to defend himself, or if Alex or Leah took a toy from him. Our boys hitting and biting had to be unlearned, and they were for the most part – the frequency of each has been greatly reduced. I remember one of the first English words he learned was “moon”. Ben was fascinated by the moon and was always pointing it out to us whenever he saw it. Ben later loved to point out to us each train, bus, tractor, heavy equipment vehicle, etc. just to make sure we wouldn’t miss them. Ben is always so curious and he asks us so many questions. He told us just today that he was going to be a doctor when he’s bigger. A weird word that Ben would sometimes say (that nobody knows what it meant) was “godygodygodygody”. Leah would say “ahqwee” – nope, don’t know what it means. Alex would say “pikachu” a lot. He continued to carry around and sleep with his pikachu for a few years until it finally got worn out, but he has others that he still sometimes hangs out with. Alex believes we threw his original pikachu away (because that’s what we told him), but pikachu #1 is actually cleaned and stored away in a plastic bag. He even takes his newer pikachu’s to kindergarten for show & tell.

Our little pixie-girl Jenna (Xiao, Wen Xin) has been with our family now for a little over 4 months, so I don’t have to remember back too far yet. The first time we saw her at the Changsha Civil Affairs Office in China’s Hunan Province she walked up to me and I picked her up and held her in my arms. She is so beautiful – she has the prettiest eyes and smile. She attached to Cheryl very quickly but for me it took a month or so longer. Jenna lived her life in an orphanage and probably had little (if any) exposure to men. Once Jenna lived a couple days on the outside of the orphanage with us – receiving lots of attention, food, her every need met by us, she had no interest or desire to return to the orphanage. We did visit her orphanage and her finding place (the park where she was abandoned when she was 1 ½ months old) and she seemed mostly withdrawn (not happy) to return. I will never forget that day. Jenna is such a happy, funny, and yes spicy girl, and it’s obvious to us that she loves being in our family. Jenna had chronic ear infections for who knows how long, but we would never know it based on her sunny disposition. She must be pretty tough because you just know it has to hurt. She has been examined by several doctors. They feel that as a result of these infections her hearing has been distorted which has affected her speech. Jenna has since had tubes put in her ears and is now receiving speech therapy. The fact that Jenna has a repaired cleft palate has also affected her speech. A follow-up exam on Jenna’s ears showed definite improvement. Poor Jenna even had to have 3 cavities removed at the dentist by the drill & fill of some of her molars. She is a little trooper for sure. One day I had all four kids with me and I was taking them to a Pizza Ranch for lunch. I opened our driver-side van door to get Jenna out of her car seat. Once she was free of the car seat she ran up to the driver’s door (teasing me by running away). Leah was there to receive her as she was leaving that door, but just as Jenna was jumping into Leah’s arms Leah got distracted (Ben punched her or something). Leah didn’t catch her and Jenna’s face hit the pavement. Her nose was badly scraped and her mouth was bleeding a lot. I thought I was going to have to take her to emergency, but I was eventually able to stop the bleeding. So we went in and ate lunch, but Jenna looked pretty rough thereafter for a week or two. What an absolute joy this little tough but pretty China girl has been for our family. She is easy to care for and easy to please. She is almost always in a happy mood, and tries to be helpful in anyway that she can. I can’t wait until she starts talking a lot because I bet she has a lot to say that people will want to hear.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula

The two Koreas, still technically at war having never signed a peace treaty at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, have clashed several times over the western sea border in the past several years.

Attempts at reconciliation have met numerous setbacks, but talks continue.

June 25, 1950: North Korea launches a surprise attack against South Korea triggering the Korean War. U.N. troops defend the South, while China counterattacks in support of the North. Seoul changes hands three times over the next three years.

July 27, 1953: The war ends with nearly 3 million dead and North and South are separated by the most heavily guarded border in the world.

1961: After a brief period of democracy in South Korea, Park Chung Hee, an army general and veteran of the Japanese imperial army, stages a military coup and takes power.

August 15, 1974: A North Korean agent attempts to assassinate President Park but kills the first lady instead.

October 1979: Park is assassinated by the head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency.
December 1979: The South Korean army seizes power and attempts to crush ongoing student and labor protests.

May 18, 1980: Protesters seize control of the South Korean city of Kwangju, the army retaliates with unprecedented ferocity. Hundreds of protesters are injured during the nine-day uprising and the official death toll is 240.

1983: North Korean agents plant a bomb in Burma killing 17 members of a visiting South Korean delegation, including four Cabinet ministers.

1984 - 1985: Me (Brett) stationed in Seoul at Yongsan Army Base as a satellite & microwave systems repairman for the 362nd Signal Company, 41st Signal Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade. I later became the TMDE (test measurement & diagnostic equipment) coordinator for the 362nd Signal Company, which was spread throughout South Korea.

1987: A bomb explodes on a Korean Air Lines jet, killing all 115 on board – North Korea is held responsible.

1988: The South Korean government allows trade with North Korea.

September 1990: Prime ministers of the two Koreas hold a meeting.

July 1994: Kim Il Sung dies and is replaced by his son, Kim Jong Il. Conditions in the North continue to decline, with an estimated 2 million starving to death in the 1990s.

September 1996: A North Korean spy submarine runs aground off South Korea's east coast. 13 South Korean soldiers and civilians and 24 North Korean commandos are killed in the massive manhunt that ensues.

1998: Former dissident Kim Dae-jung is elected president of South Korea.

June 2000: The North and South Korean leaders hold a historic three day summit in Pyongyang. They sign a pact making a commitment towards reunification and allow reunions of families separated during the Korean War.

September 25, 2000: The defense ministers of South and North Korea meet for talks.

October 2000: U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright holds talks with Kim Jong Il in North Korea.

August 8, 2000: Kim, Jang Mee - (Leah Lorraine Foley) is born.

December 2000: South Korean President Kim Dae-jung is presented with the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his efforts to establish relations with Communist North Korea.

March 2001: South Korean President Kim Dae-jung meets with US President George W. Bush. North Korea cancels ministerial talks with the South after Bush states the North poses a threat to the region and cannot be trusted to honor agreements.

May 31, 2001: Kim, Jang Mee arrives at Des Moines, Iowa airport and is received by her new parents (us).

October 2001: North Korea postpones plans to hold reunions of families separated since the Korean War, citing a "warlike situation" in Seoul since the terrorist attacks in the United States.

January 2002: In President Bush's State of Union address he names Iran, Iraq and North Korea as states promoting terrorist activity, calling them "an axis of evil."

February 2002: Bush visits South Korea and stresses his support for diplomatic efforts to bring North and South Korea closer but expresses opposition to "a regime that tolerates starvation."

March 2002: Twenty-five North Korean asylum seekers storm Spain's embassy in Beijing in an attempt to defect to the South.

April 1, 2002: Choi, Jung Wook (Alexander Matthew Foley) is born.

April 2002: North Korea says it will resume dialogue with the United States, but warns it will call off any future talks if Washington "slanders" the communist country again.

June 2002: A violent skirmish between the Koreas navies on the Yellow Sea leaves at least four South Korean sailors dead and at least 19 others injured. An estimated 13 North Korean sailors are killed when the South returns fire.

July 2002: North Korea issues a statement of "regret" for the Yellow Sea naval clash. South Korea accepts the apology.

August 2002: North and South Korea hold ministerial talks in Seoul. The two Koreas agree to work on cross-border road and rail links.

September 2002: Hundreds of separated Korean families meet for the first time in emotional reunions.

October 2002: North Korea surprises the world by admitting that the secretive communist state continued a secret nuclear weapons program after agreeing to freeze it in 1994, creating tensions with the international community.

December 2002: Roh Moo-hyun wins South Korea's presidential election. President-elect Roh -- who champions President Kim Dae-jung's 'sunshine policy" -- vows to ease tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program through dialogue.

January 2003: North Korea announces its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty with immediate effect.

February 2003: North Korea threatens it will abandon the 1953 armistice if the United States continues its military buildup in the region.

July 12, 2003: Huh, Min Jae (Benjamin Jae Foley) is born.

February 2 - 7, 2oo4: Brett travels to Seoul to receive our new son Choi, Jung Wook (Alex) who is now 22-months-old. I stayed at Room 401 of Holt's new guesthouse during my stay.

May 19 - 26, 2005: Brett & Cheryl travel back to Seoul to receive our new son Huh, Min Jae (Ben) who is now 22-months-old. We stayed in Room 201 of Holt's old guesthouse during our stay, and also visited the home of Ben's foster family.

Note: personal family information added because I can do that - it's my blog.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

How much did your child cost?

This is a question that we (as parents who have adopted our children) sometimes get asked. It really offends some adoptive parents and makes them very upset. I however see things differently and here's why...

Let's look at this question from a different angle. When we pay money to our adoption agency (and all other related agencies) we are not buying our children - we are not putting a dollar amount on them so to speak. We are paying for the services that our adoption agency provides related to adoption such as orphanages, social workers, foster mothers, child care, health care, agency overhead, birth mother counseling, etc. which ultimately bring our children to the point where they come home with us. These adoption agencies are not getting rich from the money we pay them. This is similar to the fact that you don't buy a biological child from the hospital where he/she is born. The child's parents (or insurance) pay their bills for the services that the hospital provided during the birth, and hospital stay for both mother & child. This is what I will explain to my children when the need arises (when they are old enough to understand). I think they will be pleased with the way this adoption fee money is used, and will understand that you can't put a dollar value on any human life - whether it be a biological, or an adopted child. So when someone asks "how much did adoption cost", they don't mean what dollar value do you think your child is worth. My children will be able to make this distinction, and your children could as well if you explained it to them.

Speaking of stranger's adoption questions in general - there are still in this world more children who need forever families than there are families who are willing to adopt these children. This is despite the fact that millions of fetuses are aborted (killed) each year. Since this is true why not (when given the opportunity) say something positive (or informative) about the adoption process when someone asks you a question about this subject? I mean this person could take this information you gave them and look deeper into adopting a child themselves. Maybe they will even eventually adopt a waiting child that nobody else wanted. Maybe they will pass this information you gave them along to someone else who will use it as the foundation for a similar journey. This is how things like this get started - as an idea. You could provide fuel for this idea and make it grow.

I know that it is in everybody's best interest that every child that needs a family will eventually find a family that wants them, raises them, and loves them

America's View - World Map

How some Americans view the world.

GOD Exists

God Exists

A man went to a barbershop to have his hair and his beard cut as always. He started to have a good conversation with the barber who attended him. They talked about so many things and various subjects. Suddenly, they touched the subject of God. The barber said: "Look man, I don't believe that God exists as you say." "Why do you say that?" asked the client. "Well, it's so easy, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God does not exist. Oh, tell me, if God existed, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't think of loving a God who permits all of these things.

"The client stopped for a moment thinking, but he didn't want to respond so as to cause an argument. The barber finished his job and the client went out of the shop. Just after he left the barbershop he saw a man in the street with a long hair and beard (it seems that it had been a long time since he had his cut and he looked so untidy).

Then the client again entered the barber shop and he said to the barber: "You know what? Barbers do not exist." "How can you say they don't exist?" asked the barber. "Well I am here and I am a barber." "No!" the client exclaimed. "They don't exist because if they did there would be no people with long hair and a beard like that man who walks in the street." "Ah, barbers do exist, what happens is that people do not come to me." "Exactly!"- affirmed the client. "That's the point. God does exist". “What happens is people don't go to Him and do not look for Him, That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world.

Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

China Story

I said in an earlier entry that I was going to put the 50 page story about our trip to China to receive Jenna (last July 11 - 26, 2007) on this blog. I decided not to do it #1 because of its length (and this was the version without pictures. Also #2 because I have sent a copy to several people - some of whom said they wanted to read it. Feedback received = zero. I'm somewhat disappointed because it took a long time to write, and I put some work into it. Maybe people are too busy or maybe it just isn't worth reading for anyone except us and hopefully Jenna, so I won't be asking anyone else if they would like to read it - I will just keep it to ourselves. I suppose it is a little like asking someone to watch a vacation video, or to look at vacation pictures, but I thought it was something more. Maybe not.


UPDATE: This story is now in its own blog, including pictures and commentary. It can be viewed by clicking here.
The Law of the Garbage Truck

by David J. Pollay

How often do you let other people's nonsense change your mood? Do you let a bad driver, rude waiter, curt boss, or an insensitive employee ruin your day? Unless you're the Terminator, for an instant you're probably set back on your heels. However, the mark of a successful person is how quickly she can get back her focus on what's important.

Sixteen years ago I learned this lesson. I learned it in the back of a New York City taxi cab. Here's what happened.

I hopped in a taxi, and we took off for Grand Central Station. We were driving in the right lane when, all of a sudden, a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his breaks, skidded, and missed the other car's back end by just inches!

The driver of the other car, the guy who almost caused a big accident, whipped his head around and he started yelling bad words at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean he was friendly. So, I said, "Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!" And this is when my taxi driver told me what I now call, "The Law of the Garbage Truck."

Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it. And if you let them, they'll dump it on you. When someone wants to dump on you, don't take it personally. You just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. You'll be happy you did. So this was it: The "Law of the Garbage Truck." I started thinking, how often do I let Garbage Trucks run right over me? And how often do I take their garbage and spread it to other people: at work, at home, on the streets? It was that day I said, "I'm not going to do it anymore."

I began to see garbage trucks. Like in the movie "The Sixth Sense," the little boy said, "I see Dead People." Well, now "I see Garbage Trucks." I see the load they're carrying. I see them coming to drop it off. And like my Taxi Driver, I don't make it a personal thing; I just smile, wave, wish them well, and I move on.

One of my favorite football players of all time, Walter Payton, did this every day on the football field. He would jump up as quickly as he hit the ground after being tackled. He never dwelled on a hit. Payton was ready to make the next play his best. Good leaders know they have to be ready for their next meeting. Good parents know that they have to welcome their children home from school with hugs and kisses. Leaders and parents know that they have to be fully present, and at their best for the people they care about.

The bottom line is that successful people do not let Garbage Trucks take over their day. What about you? What would happen in your life, starting today, if you let more garbage trucks pass you by?

Here's my bet. You'll be happier. Life's too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so... Love the people who treat you right. Forget about the ones who don't. Believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, TAKE IT! If it changes your life, LET IT! GOD didn't say it would be easy... HE just promised it would be worth it!
I haven't posted for awhile. Cheryl tells me not to post any personal information about our family on this blog (other than what I already posted) so I will just post an occasional story or observation. I will sometimes post jokes or political or maybe even religious e-mails or information. See if you can guess where I stand.

This is of course dependent on whether I don't forget about this blog like I have for the past couple of months. You may not always agree with me - but maybe I can make you think.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Leah & Jenna photo

Here is a picture of Leah & Jenna.
This post is going back in time - I wrote this message around July 25, 2007 while we were still in China. I didn't keep a blog while we were in China but I made notes in a outline form and then I wrote the story afterwards. The next several entries will be our China blog - only written after the fact - one month later. The entry for today is...

Comparing China - South Korea - U.S.A. (my observations)

I am writing this now that our trip to China is finished, and we have experienced our whole reason for going there – which is to receive our daughter Xiao Wen Xin (Jenna). These are just some random observations and comparisons…

Just about everywhere we have been in China (Beijing, Changsha, and surrounding area within the Hunan Province, and Guangzhou) has interesting things to see. The architecture of all the buildings in the cities, watching the cars navigate their way through traffic and playing chicken with each other. The daily life going on in the villages, the agriculture and farming in the fields, and of course the several majestic tourist attractions that are rich with ancient history and excellent architecture. Also the different types of art that you see in so many places Рpainted & embroidered pictures, ceramics, cloisonn̩ figures and vases, jade jewelry, statues, and monuments. Just about every ancient tourist site we went to sells books and/or postcard packets and I bought some from everywhere we went. The pictures you see posted throughout this post are birds-eye view pictures from postcards of these places. They are much better pictures than any of the pictures we could take.

I can tell that the Chinese are very hard working and ingenuitive (just like Koreans). The Chinese know how to make the best of what they have. Sherri our guide in Beijing told us that most of the Chinese just started driving since 2003 when automobiles became more abundant, therefore allowing the prices to come down so more of the common folk could own one. We asked her about auto insurance and she said that they must have insurance to drive, and their vehicles must pass periodic inspections to be deemed roadworthy. She also told us that the Chinese rent houses, or buy apartments (which is kind of the reverse of what we generally do in the U.S.). Imminent Domain is alive and common in Beijing – the government forces many to move out of one story homes to make room for more efficient housing (or whatever they deem necessary) and Sherri says they are usually compensated fairly (I wonder – I have read that they rarely are fairly compensated). She says what usually happens is these people have to move farther away from the center of Beijing into more expensive housing, and they now also have to travel farther to go to work or school (hence another reason for more vehicles on the streets). The fact that the population of the large cities is exploding, and there is way more vehicles on the streets are obviously taking its toll – at least in Beijing. Beijing’s skies are gray, hazy, and polluted. It reminds me of how Seoul S. Korea often was back in the mid 1980’s when I was stationed there. Because of the 2008 Olympics being in Beijing the people are really working hard to make improvements to the city and there is a lot of construction happening about everywhere you go. They are planting a lot of trees and flowers along the roads and highways and they have things looking pretty good right now. New buildings and stadiums are being built and many existing buildings are getting facelifts and renovations.

Fuel for vehicles generally costs about $1.70 per gallon currently. Our driver in Changsha took us on a trip to our daughter’s orphanage and finding place. It was a round trip of more than 220 kilometers (roughly 136 miles), and he only charged us 280 Yuan (about $37 dollars). I thought that was an absolute bargain. By the way the current conversion rate = 1 dollar = 7.55 Yuan. A good tip here in China would be 10 Yuan ($1.32) or 20 Yuan ($2.65). These amounts seem inadequate to us for the services we receive, but for the Chinese they seem happy with these amounts. In the U.S.A. we tend to be more cavalier and careless with our money, whereas the Chinese value their wages more. Sherri told us that you can buy a Toyota Camry in China for about 120,000 Yuan (roughly $16K dollars). A short taxi ride usually costs 10 - 20 Yuan. I can buy 2 cans of cold coca-cola for 5 Yuan (66 cents). In Changsha a couple of times we bought a Pizza Hut large pepperoni pizza and had it delivered to our room. This cost 200 Yuan – which includes the price of the cab that delivers it to the Hotel. If you buy a meal at the hotels the prices are comparable to prices we are accustomed to. Overall though just like in South Korea, the dollar can go a long way. In the cities they only seem to like crisp new dollars. In Beijing a lot of the street vendors will sell you what they are selling for 1 dollar. They all know how to say “one dollar!” Someone told me once that what they really mean is 100 yuan ($13.25). I told him no – a few times I handed some of these vendors an actual dollar bill and they accepted it gladly for their goods. In fact I bought a couple of the post card packets that these pictures came from with 1 dollar bill. In Beijing the street vendors are very aggressive – they often will not take “no” for an answer and therefore force you to be rude (like them). Around Beijing the street vendors and many store keepers will bargain with us. It is hilarious to see their reactions when you lowball a price. One day we went to a Pearl Market in Beijing (near the Temple of Heaven) that had 4 floors full of just about any souvenir you could think of – jewelry, clothes, rugs, crafts, cameras, you name it. It reminded me very much of the Techno Mart in Seoul, though the prices of the items in this Pearl Market were negotiable. Sometimes you can negotiate really low prices here.

Counterfeiting seems to be a bad problem with the renminbi (Chinese currency). Their smaller bills have like a rough raised area on the right front (sometimes rear) of each bill that you can feel to make sure the bills are real. The 100 Yuan is a common bill ($13.25) that doesn’t always have this rough patch, but our guide here in Changsha (Shirley) says that 100’s usually are not counterfeited. If an employee accepts a counterfeit bill as a payment for goods or services they are deducted from their wages – so they usually check each bill they receive carefully. If you want to use traveler’s checks – use American Express. Some one in our group used Visa Traveler’s checks and last I heard is having trouble spending them. They accepted Visa everywhere I tried - except the Wal-Mart in Changsha - they wouldn’t take Visa.

In some elevators I noticed they don’t have a 14th floor button. They will go from 13 to 15A to 15B. We asked our guide Shirley why and she said 14 is an unlucky number that is associated with (or sounds like) death. I told her that we just view death as a part of life. The numbers 6 & 8 are lucky numbers in China. That’s why the 2008 Olympics in Beijing are set to start on 8/8/08 at 8:08 p.m. On this very day our oldest daughter Leah will celebrate her golden birthday – she will turn 8 on this day. We asked our guide Joyce (in Guangzhou) about the meaning or symbolism of the lions. Many buildings have 2 lion statues on either side of their entrance. One is usually calm and the other is snarling. Sometimes both lions are calm and sometimes they are both snarling. She didn’t know the significance. I also asked her once if car rental companies in China would let an American like me rent a car from them. She thought this was funny and said that you have to be skilled to drive in China. I told her that I could do it for sure because I used to drive everyday in Seoul S. Korea for 1 ½ years and they drive just as crazy over there as they do here in China.

Korea (South) and China are very similar in so many ways. A few times I have actually forgotten that I am in China – thinking momentarily I’m in Korea. It is obvious that they have a lot of influence on each other (you can add Japan to this mix as well). Their characters and alphabet are similar and therefore their street signs look similar. The architecture of their ancient buildings, temples, and palaces are very similar. A lot of the artwork is similar. At night in the cities there are lots of colorful neon lights – even more so than in the U.S. In general there is just more color in China and S. Korea than there is at home. Seoul is much cleaner than Beijing, but Beijing is probably cleaner than Chicago or New York City. Seoul is more Americanized than Beijing, but there is evidence of the U.S. influence in Beijing. Beijing has KFC’s and McDonalds. They also have Wal-Marts. Apparently they also have Pizza Huts (I haven’t seen one yet – but as I mentioned earlier we ordered pizza from one in Changsha). Our guide Sherri told us that in the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s the U.S.S.R. had a heavy influence in China, but now the U.S.A. has become more of an influence there. Both Beijing and Seoul have large malls that have many American style shops for clothes, software, music, and they are very popular with the younger generation. In Beijing piracy is rampant – they have knock-offs of just about every brand name you can think of items from all over the world. One big difference between Beijing & Seoul is the subway systems they have. Seoul’s subway system goes everywhere in Seoul (except up Namsan Mt.) and surrounding areas. Beijing’s subway system isn’t comparable as far as the number of lines it has (and therefore the area it covers). Beijing and Seoul are also similar in the respect that in both you will see more Caucasians peoples. They might be Americans, British, Germans, Russians, or any others. But the further you get away from these capital cities the fewer whites you will see, and the less English you will hear (especially in the provinces). This means the more looks we get for being the minority that we are. Since China is so much larger than Korea (China and the United States are almost the same size in area) they clearly have more diversity, more different kinds of weather, more different races of people, more just about anything. South Korea, because they are an actual republic (and not just pretending to be one in some respects like China) is more prosperous than China, mainly because their economy has been capitalist longer, but China is really booming right now economically (and population) wise.

Two things that several people said to us related to the Great Wall and where our daughter was adopted. They would ask if we climbed the Great Wall and when we said yes they would tell us that we are heroes (according to Chairman Mao). When people would ask where Jenna was from and we’d tell them Hunan, they would say “oh spicy girl!”

Shamian Island on the Pearl River in Guangzhou was the last place we stayed before we left for home. We stayed at “The White Swan”. It is very fancy and obviously a hotel for the rich (what were we doing there?). It has very upscale shops for clothes and art – the artwork that is everywhere is amazing. Shamian Island is very touristy, but it is also very impressive. It has a lot of old-style English buildings with impressive architecture. It is a very colorful place – the river is lined with neon, and even the ferry boats are colorful neon. On Saturday nights there is a green laser light show over and across the Pearl River to go with all of the neon. We had a river view from our hotel room. There are souvenir shops everywhere which sell clothes, jewelry, arts and crafts, pictures, portraits, you name it. The people working in these shops are very friendly and often speak good English. They seem genuinely interested in where we are from and about the adoptions of our children – not just Jenna who is with us, but also of our children from Korea. The subject would come up because often we were looking for souvenirs for our other children. The prices are generally cheaper than an equivalent item would cost here in the states. We attended a Christian church here and went to a Buddhist temple (but skipped the blessing – it was interesting to watch). I took a weird video as we were climbing up & down the Liurong Pagoda. We also took a taxi to the Guangzhou Zoological Gardens - a zoo that was pretty impressive. We just felt that everywhere we went was more for us than for Jenna so we wanted to go one place she might enjoy. Catherine and Phoebe mentioned to us a few times that The White Swan will be closing this December and Holt is looking for other options to use as a host hotel for adoptive families in Guangzhou. They seem to think that the White Swan will no longer be available for them whenever it reopens. Several of the shops outside of the White Swan are trying to sell their shops because they know they will be losing business – but who would want to buy?

It is weird to read this now a month after I wrote this stuff down. I am now in the process of writing the story of this trip to put in Jenna’s journal that I keep for her. I have done this with our trips to Korea to receive our sons as well. Basically while I am on the trip I keep an outline of each day so I can remember details and not spend a lot of time writing. Then when I get home I write the story. It works OK this way and it takes a few weeks of typing here and there.


Thursday, August 16, 2007


We are Brett, Cheryl, Leah, Alexander, Benjamin, and Jenna . This is our first blog - going to see if we can ever write anything interesting that others would want to read. We live in Iowa, and along with 2 adults and 4 kids we have 3 dogs - Cubby, Teal'C, and Libby. We have one black cat named Midnight, and 2 horses named Thunder & Shilo. Leah, Alex and Benjamin were adopted by us from South Korea. Jenna was adopted by us from China. Jenna is new to our family, we just brought her home from China last month.