Tuesday, June 30, 2009

on a very serious note...

I know this is a big departure from my normal design related rants and raves, but as a person who has experienced physical and verbal abuse, this subject is VERY important to me. I hope you will take the time to read this. And, if you know someone who is the victim of abuse, I hope you will pass this on...

Verbal Abuse and its Devastating Impact
By Patricia Evans

Verbal Abuse is insidious.
Verbal Abuse is endemic.
Verbal Abuse impacts millions of people.
Verbal Abuse and its denial are crazy-making
Verbal Abuse usually occurs in secret.

If you've heard,
"You're Too Sensitive"
you've heard verbal abuse.

Although many people have heard sticks and stones may break our bones but words will never hurt us, those who have suffered from verbal abuse know that words do hurt and can be as damaging as physical blows are to the body. The scars from verbal assaults can last for years. They are psychological scars that leave people unsure of themselves, unable to recognize their true value, their talents and sometimes unable to adapt to life’s many challenges.

Except for name-calling many people don't recognize verbal abuse—especially when it comes from a person they believe loves them or from a person they perceive as an authority figure; or when it comes from a person who is in a position of power, for example, one's boss, a family provider, one's parent, or even an older sibling that one has learned to look up to in childhood.

Unfortunately, when people don’t recognize verbal abuse for what it is, they may try to get the person who is putting them down, giving them orders, or “correcting,” denouncing, yelling at or ignoring them to understand them. Or, they may try to stop them by giving it back in kind. In other words, they may act out their anger.

The circumstances under which verbal abuse takes place make a real difference in how to respond to it. In the workplace, for instance, an appropriate response to a very abusive boss might be to prepare a resume or to read the want ads. On the other hand, a child can’t very well escape from an abusive parent and so we, the observers and relatives of the child must be alert and ready to speak up for him or her. Keeping a record and letting others know what is going on are often good first steps.

Since, in the majority of cases, people who indulge in verbal abuse are selective about whom they abuse, many people are surprised to hear that someone is experiencing on-going and periodic abuse from someone they know and have always seen as nice and friendly. “Nice and Friendly” is the persona of many an abuser. Although many folks are as nice and friendly as they seem, some are not.

- Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope you will pass this on to anyone who needs to see this.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Buddha Head Video Presents...

A night at the KTV

Later around 3am, I got Li off the bench, and we ended up having Chinese tea at his fathers shack inside the golf driving range. His father is a very nice man. It's was a very Chinese experience. Sipping home brewed tea. Three chairs under a beautiful tree. Two stones formed a table, and the breeze was so perfect. This was one of the fullest days of my life.◦

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Expats" Part 2 (Red Tape)

Living in a foreign country can be such a wonderful, and sometimes shocking experience. In China, Pampers haven't quite caught on yet. Babies wear split pants, and they take care of business right there on the street corner. Mom usually washes up the little bundle with her hand and the nearest water supply. You have to think of new things when you reach for the handle of the shopping cart in the local Chinese market. Navagating daily life in the heart of a culture so vastly different from your own is an amazing experience. China is a beautiful country full of wonderful people. For me, the daily discovery is so motivating and inspiring. Imagine waking up one morning and everything outside the window is completely different!

This also presents a huge challange. When my wife and I found out we were going to have another baby, we were very worried. There were a whole lot of things to think about. You can't just go to your local OBGYN, or the hospital that you know and trust. Should we leave the country to have this baby? Should my wife and son leave, and I stay behind to work and support the family? If they stay, where would we have the baby? Living in the south of China doesn't present many options for western medical care. But, we found our way through the whole process, and today we can look into the eyes of our precious baby daughter.

Now at this point she is a Chinese citizen. So another trip back to Guangzhou is in order, to visit the American Consulate. Things were easier when we lived in Shanghai, everything is right there. Once your baby is born, you have to go online and schedule an appointment. The appointment line was about four weeks out. So I clicked and made the appointment. I was returning from a trip to the U.S. two days before the date. When the day came, I kissed the wife and kids, and off I went to Guangzhou with Li, and my bulging folder of documents. After two and a half hours on the road, and passing about thirty pig trucks, Li and I arrived at the Consulate.

There was no sign at all on the building. After the second pass and a phone call to the Consulate's office we finally found it. Li had to wait outside, and I ran into the building. After identity and security checks, I finally got to the office and checked in for my appointment. Not too bad, only 30 minutes late, and then an hour wait. When I got to the window I was told there was one more form to be filled out! We read the website so carefully and studied all the proceedures in the process, but ok, there's one more form. So, after filling it out and waiting another 30 minutes, I was called up to the window again.

When I got back to the window and handed over all the documents, the clerk checked them carefully, and said "great...so where is the mother and the baby?

Back to Shenzhen...

To be contunued...


Friday, June 19, 2009

chillin in philly...

After running around like crazy all week, I decided to take a Friday chill. I really haven't stopped since I landed from China. It's been a great week! I love my hometown of Philadelphia. It's a city of great contrasts. A place where our history meets the future. A big city, with a small town feel, offereing world class arts, fashion, restaurants, cafes, and entertainment. Just a couple blocks from all the action are cozy neighborhoods with tree lined streets that throw you back to the times of old. This city is so full of warm charm and character. I love Philadelphia!!!

Today for lunch I had to have a REAL "Philly Cheesesteak". After skipping breakfast I was so hungry! So, a trip to Dalessandros was in order. As I opened the door of my car, I could smell the chipped steak and onions cooking on the grill inside. Ahhh the smell of home!

One of things that makes Dalessandros so great, not only are their cheesesteaks one of the "best of best" in Phlly, but you also get the best service. Margie, Carol, and the girls always greet you with a smile. And, chances are they will remember your name. They really make you feel like your home.

Thank you Margie, Trish, and Carol...it was delicious!!!

If you grew up in Philly, you know exactly what I'm talking about. It was that smell that drew the first cab driver in the 1930's to Pat and Harry Olivieri's hot dog shop in south Philadelphia. The cheesesteak was invented when the two brothers were tired of eating hot dogs and the same sandwiches everyday. One brother told the other to go to the store and buy some meat. The other brother chopped up the meat, and fried it up with some onions, and put it on some long rolls. When a cab driver pulled up for his usual hot dog, and smelled the beef with onions, he demanded one of the sandwiches. The "Steak Sandwich" was born. Later, another employee added cheese, and then the "Cheesesteak" was born.

Mmmmmmmm...can you smell the awesome goodness? Have a great weekend everyone.

- Robert◦

Thursday, June 18, 2009

how I miss Chestnut Street...

My wife and I loved living in "Center City" Philadelphia years ago. The city has come so far in the last 10 years. It's really a great place to live. Today I went back to the old neighborhood, and had lunch with Jeannine Loro Kelly. We were classmates all the way back in elementary school. Facebook is so great! Jeannine worked right around the corner from us, and we never bumped into each other. She's been with Boyds Philadelphia for 16 years. We went to Square On Square restaurant right on Chestnut Street. It was so great to catch up, and learn about each other's lives. Jeannine is so cool!

Jeannine Loro Kelly

Mmmmmm...the lunch was soooo good! Om nom nom nom....

The Boyds Philadelphia store is so amazing!! I love that old Philadelphia architecture. The store is so beautiful. What a great place! I met some really cool peeps there. What a scene outside the 1st floor bathroom. LOL! They know what I mean. Thank you so much Jeannine for spending your lunch hour with me, and then the wonderful tour of Boyds. I loved it!!!

It's been a really fun day :-)

- Robert◦

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Buddha Head Video Presents...

Lunch with Li

The Chinese are very shy by nature. My questions were not easy at all for them. My driver Li is the greatest guy. He took great care of my family and I. He's a very genuine and caring person. He was always there when we needed him, and was always a willing sherpa guiding us through the cultural maze. He really feels like a brother to me! This day he was proudly taking me to lunch with two of his close frinds, to a local Hunan restaurant. Hunan is a huge province in China where Li is from. It could be it's own country. After living in China for a few years, to you come to know the vast differences between the Chinese people from province to province. And, the food is one of them. The food from Hunan is VERY spicy. They use A LOT of chili peppers in their dishes. One of the most popular dishes of the Hunan people is spicy chopped frog (that's right! Not just the legs) And Yes, I did eat it on many occasions and it was actually very good! To my brother Li...wo xiang ni!


Monday, June 15, 2009

are you Dwelling in Philly...

I always like to highlight the cool places to shop for home furnishings. In Philadelphia, there's an awesome place to find real treasures for your home called "Dwelling Home". It's on Main Street in the ultra hip Manayunk area of the city. It's an amazing place for shopping, and then a great lunch, or dinner, or coffee, or cocktails. It's for sure the "In" place to be in Philly.

I've known Gary Gevurtz the owner of Dwelling for many years. He's always been on the cutting edge of home furnishings. What he's done with this store is so cool! You can find one of kind antiques, custom upholstery, bedroom, really unique accessories, and much more. The atmosphere in this renovated building on the river is completey swank. You feel so good when you're there, and you for sure want to buy something! Check it out for all things cool for the home...

The Address:

4050 Main Street
Philadelphia, PA 19127
Tel 215-487-7400◦

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Expats" Part 1 (Having a baby in China)

My wife and I have been so blessed this past March with the arrival of our beautiful baby daughter Julia Louise. We are so in love with her! Having a baby in China can be a scary and complicated thing. However, we did find a good hospital in Guangzhou that practices western medicine. But, it was two hours from our house! This was really the only choice except Hong Kong, but trying to cross an international border in labor was a risk we didn't want to take. The due date was March 3rd. I had our driver "Li" standing by in mid February, ready to go at a moments notice. They would go with or without me, because my work was two hours away in a different direction than Guangzhou. My plan was just to go straight there from wherever I was at the time.

Around the third week of February I got home from work one night, and as I walked through the door my wife said she’s pretty sure she’s starting labor! I called Li, and grabbed the big suitcase. As we head to the front gate to leave, the guard dressed in a green camouflage uniform jumped in front of me! He’s stopping us from leaving!! He was a new guard and he didn’t know us. Because we had a big suitcase, he thought we were vacating our apartment. And we had to be checked and have the landlord’s approval to leave if we were vacating. My wife is standing there in labor! It’s so obvious what is happening! But the rules say he should stop anyone with a large suitcase. This is China! I snapped a photo of the guard with my phone and another tried to take my phone away! It was a crazy scene. One we will never forget! I’ll write much more about these crazy things at a later point. I have so much to write about it’s quite ridicules. After about ten precious minutes standing there and getting ready to Kung Fu his ass, we finally got past all the guards that had responded, and off we went to Guangzhou….Finally!! We arrived at the hospital 2 hours later, and the contractions had stopped. After all that it was a false alarm. After a night in the hospital, they released her, and told us to go home. So, back to Shenzhen we went. The next day I went back to work and stayed nervous as hell every minute.

Finally about 10:00pm on March 1st, my wife went into labor for real. It was a Sunday so I was there…Thank God! Driver "Li" was still standing by, and was there within 10 minutes. This time he drove into the complex so we could avoid any scuffles with the guards. He's the greatest. I will write about him later. He will be my Chinese brother for life! Off we went to Guangzhou again! My poor wife was lying across the backseat of the car in great pain with contractions almost 10 minutes apart for two hours in that car! But, thank God we made there in time. The doctor and all but one nurse spoke no English. The whole experience was certainly a unique one, to put it lightly. At one point the nurse who spoke some English said “Don’t yell” to my wife. The Chinese believe in silent birth. And believe me, she was only complaining a little. And by the way, she insisted on going natural despite all my begging for her not to. And she did it too! What an amazing woman she is. I will forever be in awe of her courage and strength. About 4 hours later our beautiful and healthy baby girl was born! She was so amazing! So beautiful!!!

My wife and baby (Thank God) had no complications, and three days later we took her home to meet her big brother for the first time. The look on his face was so beautiful. It was a moment we'll never forget. He had wrapped up some of his teddy bears, and made her a book. Our son Marco is so special! Julia has the best big brother any sister could ask for. So, now that Mom and baby are home safe and sound, it's time to start the business of what country our daughter belongs to. At this point, she is a Chinese citizen. And, we have to start the process to declare her birth to the American government. My wife is an Italian citizen with an Italian passport. My son and I are both American citizens with U.S. passports. We basically could choose between U.S. and Italian citizenship for our daughter. We decided U.S., and they both can become dual citizens later. I had heard the process is pretty easy. The first step is a trip to the American Consulate. So I go online to get the information. Guess where the nearest Consulate is located….Guangzhou of course!

To be continued…◦

buddha in blue...

Decorating with Buddha is not a new thing, a lot of people are doing it! I found a really cool white stone buddha in Shanghai. The chest I found in a small shop in Shenzhen. The lamps I found on Tai Kang lu in Shanghai. A place I had written about previously. But, the magic happened with two little blue light bulbs. The lamp shades are actually white. But at night they look so cool in blue. Colored lights can totally transform a room, a corner, YOUR MOOD, and in this case the entry way to our flat. It's just so calming and cool.◦

Saturday, June 13, 2009

purple cool...

I found a really cool purple glass and iron krater on a backstreet in Shanghai. I really didn't know what I would do with it, but I really liked it. So, it sat in my closet for quite a while. Then I found a string of white diamond shaped lights. So, I carefully drilled a small hole in the bottom. wrapped a silk scarf around the base and....here's the result...

Rated 5 Stars on HGTV's "Share My Craft"


Friday, June 12, 2009


Last night I landed back in the U.S., and it's so great to come back home. To see my family and friends. Eat the foods that I miss. Drive down the old familiar streets. I'm breathing in the fresh clean air. And, I can actually see my own blog again. Home sweet home! I will add some entries as soon as I get adjusted after the 20 hours in the air,and 12 hour time difference...◦