...and other misconceptions I made 06-12-23
2006 Dec 23
July 13th 2014
I think I have too many hobbies…

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… but how bad can it be to add just one more?

This video was taken with a GoPro attached to a Blade 350 QX quadcopter… the “wobble” effect that you see in a few places (especially in the last segment) is caused by rolling shutter – sadly there are no reasonably priced CCD action cameras that actually have decent image quality…

The embedded video is rather low resolution, if you click on it and go to YouTube you can watch it in HD – the original is actually in 2.7k resolution, so 2704×1524 pixels…

Oh, and if you are worrying about the very end of the video… not to worry. That last bit was from yesterday (you can tell by the blue skies / sunshine) the first clips were from earlier today. The quadcopter “landed” in the tall pine tree about 70-80ft (~23m) above the ground – and got seriously stuck there, beeping sadly for hours. After talking to the fire department (who didn’t have a long enough ladder to get there) K2 suggested the old “sling shot, lead sinker, fishing line” trick. So I bought a sling shot, 250m heavy duty fishing line and a selection of lead weights and started trying to shoot the line up into the tree and over the branches on which the quadcopter was sitting. Which turned out to be incredibly hard. Three of us tried and after at least 50 missed attempts I finally managed to position the line where I wanted it. But the fishing line had too much stretch and we were worried of having it snap. So we used it to pull up a much sturdier nylon line. That was only 150ft long which turned out not to reach all the way up and down (given the horizontal displacement). So in desperation I tied a heavy duty outdoor extension cord to it. Once that was in place two of us jointly shook the branches like crazy. Finally after several minutes we managed to dislodge the quadcopter. It fell from branch to branch down to about 25ft / 8m. In the process the GoPro got knocked loose and it miraculously landed in a net that we had put up – unharmed. With a long ladder a friend of ours was able to get close enough to use a long pole to push the quadcopter from its new resting place and it again tumbled from branch to branch until it stopped about 5ft above ground.

Miraculously it was basically unharmed. I have lost the battery compartment door (no idea where it landed) but except for a couple of small scuffs and green smears it appears to be in perfect flying shape (as the videos from today would appear to confirm).

What an interesting and exciting start into this new hobby. Did I mention that the 350 QX, the GoPro and the transmitter all arrived yesterday, so this was day one of flying it? Yeah, right. Oops.

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June 26th 2014
Almost home

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staying awake

The long flight is behind us, we’re at SFO, waiting for our flight to Portland. The girls, as usual, were excellent travelers so far. They each slept about six hours on the flight from Beijing and have been reasonably cheerful and remarkably cooperative. Everyone is tired and exhausted. We had an amazing trip but now we are ready to be home…

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June 25th 2014
Beijing – our last 28 hours in China

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… for this trip – because I’m sure we’ll be back.

After saying goodbye to many friends at the airport in Guilin we took a morning flight to Beijing. I wasn’t able to get tickets back home for today (the downside of traveling on miles sometimes), so we have one more night at the Lido Park Hotel and are flying home tomorrow instead.

We enjoyed wonderful dumplings for lunch and instead of doing anything big and touristy decided to walk a couple of blocks to a very cute neighborhood park, Si’de Park (四得公园). It has a sports theme with a 900m running loop and some fun activity equipment which the girls of course had to try…

Girls in the Olympic Rings
leg workout
Ellipse trainer

The park is very well maintained with beautiful flowers – and was surprisingly empty. Very few locals around. We had the girls walk by themselves which clearly worried a grandma who started running after them – until we managed to explain to her that they were with us.

A Lilly in the park

I always take lots of pictures when traveling with my family. I’ll close this sequence of posts about the Homeland Tour for our girls with a picture of the most wonderful woman in the world. K2 did 95% of the planning, organizing, packing, managing… basically everything on our side of the trip. The organizers did a great job setting this up for all the families. But the reason this trip was such a huge success and so much fun for our family is simple. My wife is amazing.


June 25th 2014
Back in Guilin

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The next morning we took the bus back to Guilin. After a stop at the “Pearl Museum” (meaning: pearl factory shopping opportunity) we checked back into the Bravo Hotel (this time for more than 7 hours) and then headed to Elephant Trunk Hill – one of the “must visit” places in Guilin.

To be perfectly honest, it seemed like an OK photo op and not much more. But hey, I’m not complaining about those… It was a good chance to get another family photo (among others).

Family at Elephant Trunk HillS2, L, and H2

The girls also attended one more cultural enrichment class – this time Chinese drawing. The teacher was a very talented artist, I’m not sure just how much of that he was able to convey to the girls, but they seemed to enjoy the class. And I can see why the Chinese organizers of this tour wanted to add it.

Chinese Drawing Class

Finally, yesterday evening, we had the Farewell Dinner. Local kids ages six through nine performed some entertaining music and dance numbers – quite impressive given their age and clearly showing lots and lots of hard work. Some of our guides sang songs for us (displaying remarkable skill at singing) and some of the groups put together performances as well.

We sat with our friends from our adoption trip and had a wonderful evening. We delayed the “goodbyes” until this morning as all three families headed to the airport for different 8am flights.

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