I’m in Hawaii now. The plane schedule was easily the most grueling I’ve ever had. I got up at 4.30am Nanjing time to start off for the airport at 5.30, getting there at 7 and taking off at 8. The flight to Beijing was 2 or three hours, and the layover was another five hours, until 3 pm. Then I took off for SF – an 11 hour trip. At SF I met up with my family and we had another 4 hour layover. Then we got on a plane to Kaua’i which took 5 hours. In total, the process took 30 hours, and I’ve been jet-lagged for two days. The most surprising thing to me is how American the island is, in spite of its distance from the mainland. The only hint that it is a different place is in the local dialect, which is maybe about 1/4 discernable English. Of course there’s some tourists here, but we’re in Kaua’i, the northernmost island which is pretty small. We have more hiking options here and the beaches aren’t as crowded as on other islands. As advertised, the environment here is among the best in the world. The air is not just clean, it’s perfumed with pollen. Public places have sucessfully banned smoking, and all restaurants, bars, and areas within 100 feet of doors have no smoking. I only saw smoking at the beaches, which still are littered with the occasional cigarette butt. The water was pristine, but I did find two pieces of trash. Like a good boy I picked them up and threw them out ("leave it better than when you got here"). All the roads, like continental America, usually lack a sidewalk and never have a bike lane. We went to have "authentic Chinese food" two days ago, and the owners were a couple from Fujian. They were mainland Chinese in every way, we spoke standard Chinese together and I ordered my food that way. But the food, yet again, was some terrible combination of bastardized vegetables and American rice, which is the worst rice in the world. I would have been murdered by my food-obsessed mother, but thankfully I didn’t chose the restaurant. But don’t get the impression that I care. I could have that every day and I’d be happy. We’ve had other meals here which are mostly American in style (including pizza and mexican). I’ve had a lot of cheese since I’ve got here, and subsequently have had some strapping, brown baby children. I was concerned that I might actually have too much food, as it is very American to eat in large quantities and snack between meals. But I’ve been a good boy mostly and my body is hanging in there. Seeing my family has been wonderful. My mother of course is an important connection to me, but unexpectedly, over the last few years, I’ve also been very close with my sister Emily. We exchange emails every week, have a phone call about every month and mostly talk about family matters and personal issues. After some years of conflict with her, we’ve converged on most of the basic issues. We’re pretty conservative and logical. So it’s also been very important for me to have quality time with my big sister. Her husband, Ray, is a pretty quiet guy. I tried for a couple days to make him laugh, but he just doesn’t. He’s really serious about everything. He’s smart like my sis. Though I’ve never felt close to him, I’m glad he’s Emily’s husband. They’re very good with the baby, and they’re all business. And yes, the baby Veronica is a darling. I’ve played with her, read books to her, and entertained her. She still doesn’t talk or walk, so everything is done with body language. I have a step father and a step sister here, too. The stepdad #2 is Bob, a truly positive and nice guy. He’s great for my mom, and he’s very easy to vacation with. His daughter Tessa is a teenager who likes her earphones and is learning how to surf today. I’ve been on the computer too long already today, but it should be understandable. Here the internet is faster, and I can get to the information and videos that I want to see more conveniently. Just that using my sister’s Apple computer doesn’t allow me to type in Chinese, my "native" tongue. I’ll leave this online as my one English blog, lest I feel strange in that strange land I call my home.