Friday, September 7, 2018

We bought a piece of Land on Watauga Lake

In 1984, I went to see a piece of land on Watauga Lake. The real estate agent told me that a widowed lady had a big plot of land for sale. I asked the sales person to inquire if the lady would agree to sell me just a small part of it. I would be willing to pay for a new surveyor's expense. It was agreed, so I had it surveyed, and we mapped out a total of six acres, with about 150 yards of shore line included. I bought that piece of land with the small cabin on the property. Since the building was not winterized, we did not get to use it until spring of 1985, when the weather was warm enough and before we went on our China trip. We had quite a number of visitors and we certainly started to enjoy the water as often as we could be there. The pictures below are the early pictures taken of our visits there:

This is our cabin: 

 Our first cook-out:

On the water:

Many friends came to visit:

  The front of the cabin!

Our kitchen:

Our family all enjoyed
the place:

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Confirmation Service at our Church

Clearly, the biggest event for the whole family in 1985 was our visit to China. We had started to prepare for that  trip a year earlier, in the spring of 1984. Since it involved every member of the family, the planning part was quite complicated - beyond just applying for everybody's passport. If you have read my blog posts so far, you have seen that we really had a wonderful trip in China. Now let me report on an earlier event which happened in the spring of 1985.

Confirmation was an important ceremony in our Church. Unfortunately, in 1983 I stopped attending the Church, due to my dismay at the behavior of the minister at the time. The result was that I did not have pictures of the ceremony when Margaret was confirmed. However, by 1985, we had a new minister, Pastor Lyerly, who conducted the ceremony for Steven's class. It was quite a big group and Steven had two classmates from University School, Kelley and Kurt, who were part of the group as well. These ceremonies were both important and are worthwhile to be remembered.

 The group picture in 1985 was taken right in front of the Church door (Pastor Lyerly is on the left.):

The three classmates were in the church fellowship hall during a reception given by the Church:

 Both my father and Janice's mother came to this event, and we had a family picture taken together:

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A lot more places to visit in the area

We visited many places in the area on this trip. You can see more pictures at our webpage.(  In addition to the Monkey King's Famous Flaming Mountains, we went to the Nanshan area where there were many different kinds of animals and where we could rent horses. We  had a great time riding on the backs of these Mongolian horses  - they are smaller and love to run! We also walked to the beautiful water falls:

Monday, July 16, 2018

Small Part of the Silk Road

We got a glimpse of the old Silk Road this time, during our visit to Xinjiang. The University arranged a very nice small building in the Tianshan (Heavenly Mountains) area where we could stay. It was not very far from where we could see the beautiful Tianchi (Heavenly Lake). The following picture was taken in front of this building. Steven was playing a game with Professor Liu to see who could stand without moving longer than the other:
Of course, we took a cruise in the lake. As you can see from the pictures below, it was truly a very beautiful place!

We visited  Hami in the Turban area, where the famous sweet Hami melons are grown and sold. We were very lucky to be there during the right season and were able to taste some every day!
 The famous place called JiaoHe (or old city) (交河故城), was originally on the Silk Road but was destroyed by the invading muslims during the Tang dynasty. Unfortunately, our two young  children did not know enough Chinese history to appreciate any of the stories.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Urumqi - Beginning our Travel to Xinjiang

To visit Urumqi is as difficult for most Chinese as it is for anyone in the western world to visit the Antarctic. After my course was finished, Tsinghua University very kindly treated our whole family to visit there for almost a whole week. To save time, they made arrangements to fly us there instead of  using the rail-road. Furthermore, Professor Liu accompanied us for the whole trip, even though he was not even allowed to eat with us together at the same table! At that time, the government had many rules which seemed silly to us. We visited, not only Urumqi city, but also many nearby areas including Heaven Lake, Tianshan (including the Flaming Mountains,) Nanshan,  and Hami. In 1985, there were more "native" Uygurs than Han people in Xinjiang. That is no longer true! Our children were then relatively bigger than local children of the same age. This can be seen very clearly and dramatically in the picture below. However, there were very few differences in comparing me with people of a similar age:

While we were there, not only did we go to see one of their mosques, we also watched some local dancers and ate many local foods as well. The following pictures give you a feel for the flavor at the time:

Thursday, June 28, 2018

There are more places to visit in Beijing!

Both TsingHua University and the North China University of Technology tried to arrange for us to visit various places in Beijing. Our whole family was able to take advantage of these opportunities to see many sites in Beijing which few outside people had visited. I will give two examples of our trips that year in Beijing. One was to the former home of the elder Song Sister, who was the wife of Dr. Sun Yet-sen, as shown in our pictures below:

We spent a whole day with two administrators at the oldest temple in Beijing, which was built around 265 AD.  The name of the place has changed many times and it is now called the Tanzhe Temple (潭柘寺).  We fortunately have some pictures taken there too!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Physical Methods in Chemistry

This textbook title "Physical Methods in Chemistry" was one of the very popular, high level Chemistry textbooks in US graduate schools in 1985. The author of the book, Russel S. Drago, was an Inorganic Chemistry professor, who was teaching one of the large classes for all the first year graduate students (more than one hundred students) when I entered the University of Illinois in 1964. At Tsinghua University this course was what they wanted at the time. My four week course was totally devoted to this material. I had approximately fifty students in the class, a mix of  young faculty and graduate students. It was taught in a classroom  in the main building on campus, as  shown in the picture below. That building is also pictured below. After the course a brand new copy of the textbook was left there as a gift,  to allow the students to learn more details if they were interested.

I also interviewed quite a number of graduate students from both Tsinghua and other Beijing Universities during the four week period. 
And Janice gave some lectures about life in the USA and what to expect in a University in the USA. We were always very busy when we visited there!