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CRYPT KEEPERS

China Through My Eyes Crypt Keepers Changzhou cemetery#9 China: Through My Eyes on WGBH

In the ninth episode of the China: Through My Eyes series on WGBH, Ava and Sofie journey to an historic cemetery where Western travelers of long ago are buried. Changzhou Island is the home of the Huangpu Military Academy, and team exercises still occur.

But on another corner of the island, Ava and Sofie come across the Foreigners Cemetery. Walking amongst the graves, they find people from back home in Massachusetts who died in China, including the American ambassador and man of letters Alexander Hill Everett.

Then it is off to the Metro for a subway ride back to into town. Time to jump on the bus and bid farewell to the ancient city of Guangzhou!

Watch CRYPT KEEPERS on WGBH Kids site here.

Running weekly through the fall, Through My Eyes is the centerpiece of WGBH's Kids site.  This elementary education travel series follows these two Cape Cod girls as they visit China's Pearl River Delta in the run up to Easter. Through My Eyes is a production of Thunderball Entertainment Group, the Cape Cod Community Media Center and WGBH Boston. Learn more at www.wgbh.org/tme.

Many thanks to EBSCOCapeKids clothing store and Air Canada for their generous support which made this episode possible. 

CapeKids Clothing

Boston's WGBH is PBS's single largest producer of web and TV content (prime-time and children's programs), including Nova, Masterpiece, Frontline, Antiques Roadshow, Curious George, Arthur, and The Victory Garden. Learn more about China: Through My Eyes on their Facebook page at facebook.com/tmeyes.

What?s A Recovery Look Like?

Overheard in the post office the other day: “You go on unemployment this winter?”

“Nope. Don’t need to.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, things are picking up.”

With the ongoing mild weather this winter, reminiscent of the one following 9/11, I have been wondering about its effect on the economy. On the one hand, many people count on plowing work to pay for Christmas presents, heating oil and other necessities to get them through the winter. If you can’t swing a hammer or dig clams because of snow and ice, at least you could run a plow or shovel a walk.

But there’s been no snow. Does that mean people are hurting?

Especially in this economy, is the lack of a natural inconvenience (if not natural disaster) a cause for concern?

On the other hand, if you have spent any time outside these past few months, you may have heard something.

If it is between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., as long as it is a weekday and not raining, step out the door and listen. Hear a thump-thump-thump?

Roofers. Nail guns.

Now granted, roofs are not really negotiable. You have to have one, and if it is leaking, you must fix it immediately. It is not something that can be easily worked on with half a foot of snow on it. But if it is an emergency and you’re hurting for money, you patch the worst of it and hope it makes it through another winter. Full replacement is a more serious investment.

It is somewhat like a car. You can do without one, but it is pretty difficult. At least without a car those who live in a city with decent public transportation can get by rather well. Perhaps on the scale of MUST SPEND MONEYON, a roof ranks just above a car. Then what did I hear on the radio not long after the overheard conversation above? The average age of a car in America is approaching 11 years old. Automakers are expecting a major upswing this year, with all that pent-up demand.

First, I begin to wonder what is next on that scale, after new roof and new car? New phone or television or other electronic gadget? No, they seem to be going gangbusters all through this bad economy. We seem to be able to find the money for those things easily.

Then again, a new roof or a new car have an extra zero or two after their prices as compared to a new smart phone. What’s next? What do we have pent-up demand for that is slightly less important than survival or mobility? New furniture? Orthodontia?

But then I approach the more important question, the touchier question: is this a recovery? Having avoided a double-dip recession just barely this past year, it feels too early to talk about things looking up. I do recall however, with a weak economy over the past couple years, every snowstorm heralded even more lost productivity and earnings. They were rabbit punches to an already reeling fighter.

So now snow removal budgets across the northeast have been barely touched. That is certainly a help at a time when states and municipalities are strapped for cash. Less pressure to cut other services or raise taxes.

For parents who earn an hourly wage, the lack of snow days means no extra expense for last-minute childcare, or not staying home and missing a day’s pay.

These things begin to add up, like physical fitness. You don’t need to vault into a marathon. Just walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Skip dessert. Many small adjustments can start showing results.

Things are picking up. These are the words of someone who otherwise would be getting a check for half their normal pay and thus having to economize for at least a few months out of the year. Wherever that extra income goes, it will buoy the economy.

Is this what a recovery looks like? Does it begin with a lack of a negative?

 

Read this and Andy's other columns online at The Cape Cod Chronicle

PANDA-MONIUM! #8 China: Through My Eyes on WGBH

Giant Panda on Through My Eyes on WGBHLargest Safari Park in Asia hosts Cape Cod's Travel Girls

In the eight episode of the China: Through My Eyes series on WGBH, Ava and Sofie climb into another Chinese taxi and travel with a guide to the Chime Long Xiangjiang Safari Park, the largest animal park in Asia and home to over 20,000 animals, including giant pandas and over half the world’s population of white tigers.

A visit to the tiger cub nursery with litters of gamboling striped babies is an experience that will never be forgotten. Sofie and Ava view creatures from around the world from the Safari Train, winding ever-closer to the piece de resistance: The bamboo-munching giant panda.

White Tiger on Through My Eyes on WGBHThe giant panda is animal ambassador from China to the United States since pandas Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing were given to the U.S. by the Chinese government in 1972 following President Nixon’s historic visit to China, a bit of history as ancient to the girls as China’s gift of pandas to Japan in the Tang Dynasty.

Watch PANDA-MONIUM! on WGBH Kids site here.

Running weekly through the fall, Through My Eyes is the centerpiece of WGBH's Kids site.  This elementary education travel series follows these two Cape Cod girls as they visit China's Pearl River Delta in the run up to Easter. Through My Eyes is a production of Thunderball Entertainment Group, the Cape Cod Community Media Center and WGBH Boston. Learn more at www.wgbh.org/tme.

Many thanks to CapeKids clothing store and Air Canada for their generous support which made this episode possible. 

CapeKids Clothing

Boston's WGBH is PBS's single largest producer of web and TV content (prime-time and children's programs), including Nova, Masterpiece, Frontline, Antiques Roadshow, Curious George, Arthur, and The Victory Garden. Learn more about China: Through My Eyes on their Facebook page at facebook.com/tmeyes.

 

GUANGZHOU HO! Ep #7 China: Through My Eyes on WGBH

Ava at the Zhenhai Tower in Guangzhou Through My Eyes on WGBH

Cape Cod's Travel Girls Hit the Mainland of China

In the seventh episode of the China: Through My Eyes series on WGBH, Sofie and Ava board a train for the 100-mile journey to Guangzhou, Southern China's largest city. Entering Mainland China for the first time, they notice how it differs from Hong Kong and how things compare to their familiar surroundings back home in the United States.

Soon after, the girls are off to visit the Guangzhou Museum, located within the Zhenhai Tower.  Known as the Five-Story Pagoda and originally built in 1380, it lies in the heart of Guangzhou’s Yuexiu Park. Ava and Sofie have fun with a three-dimensional model of modern day Guangzhou, make their own unique child’s-eye observations on 2,000 years of Chinese history, and enjoy a view of the city from the fifth floor balcony.

In the hillside park, Ava, a violin student back home, observes a musician playing a similar-looking traditional Chinese stringed 

Sofie atop the Five Story Pagoda and the Guangzhou Museum China Through My Eyes on WGBH

instrument in an outdoor performance. On their way back to their hotel, they stop off in one of the many exercise parks designed to keep people of all ages in the city fit.

Watch GUANGZHOU HO! on WGBH Kids site here.

Running weekly through the fall, Through My Eyes is the centerpiece of WGBH's Kids site.  This elementary education travel series follows these two Cape Cod girls as they visit China's Pearl River Delta in the run up to Easter. Through My Eyes is a production of Thunderball Entertainment Group, the Cape Cod Community Media Center and WGBH Boston. Learn more at www.wgbh.org/tme.

CapeKids Clothing

Many thanks to CapeKids clothing store and Air Canada for their generous support which made this episode possible. 

Boston's WGBH is PBS's single largest producer of web and TV content (prime-time and children's programs), including Nova, Masterpiece, Frontline, Antiques Roadshow, Curious George, Arthur, and The Victory Garden. Learn more about China: Through My Eyes on their Facebook page at facebook.com/tmeyes.

 

BEACH DAY! #6 China: Through My Eyes on WGBH

BEACH DAY #6 of China Through My EyesWGBH Kids Travel Girls compare the beaches in Hong Kong to Cape Cod

In episode six, Ava and Sofie head on over to the other side of Hong Kong Island, to the resort town of Stanley. First they visit the temple of Tin Hau, the Sea Goddess. Then is off to a secluded beach on beautiful Stanley Harbor, where the girls feel like they've landed on their own tropical island.

After a lunch on the Stanley Promenade, it is time to visit the Hong Kong Maritime Museum.  Inside they see all sort of models of ships that visited Hong Kong over the centuries, and get to try their hand at steering a cruise ship in Victoria Harbor -- in the museum's ship simulator.China Through My Eyes on Victoria Peak Hong Kong

Wrapping up their day, the girls take a steep ride up the historic Peak Tram to the top of Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak, the highest point on the island, at over 1,800 feet.  The panoromic views give them time to reflect on their visit to Hong Kong.  Tomorrow, it is off to the mainland of China!

Watch BEACH DAY on WGBH Kids site here.

Running weekly through the fall, Through My Eyes is the centerpiece of WGBH's Kids site.  This elementary education travel series follows these two Cape Cod girls as they visit China's Pearl River Delta in the run up to Easter.

DiscoverHongKong

Many thanks to CapeKids clothing store, Air Canada, the Hong Kong Maritime Museum and the Hong Kong Tourism Board for their generous support which made this episode possible.

Boston's WGBH is PBS's single largest producer of web and TV content (prime-time and children's programs), including Nova, Masterpiece, Frontline, Antiques Roadshow, Curious George, Arthur, and The Victory Garden. Learn more about China: Through My Eyes on their Facebook page at facebook.com/tmeyes.

 

YIPPEE TAI O! - #5 of China:Through My Eyes

Sofie and Ava of China Through My Eyes on WGBHWGBH Kids Travel Series Takes Cape Cod Girls to a Chinese Fishing Village

In the fifth episode of China: Through My Eyes, the girls journey to Tai O, a 300 year-old fishing village on the western side of Lantau Island.

In Tai O Sofie and Ava playing alongside fishing boats, practice some moves at the Shao Lin Wu Shu Culture Centre, meet the God of the Southern Ocean at the Hung Shing temple, hunt through the village market for exotic treats and learn about the city’s long relationship with the sea.

Running weekly through the fall, Through My Eyes is the centerpiece of WGBH's Kids site.  This elementary education travel series follows these two Cape Cod girls as they visit China's Pearl River Delta in the run up to Easter.

DiscoverHongKong

Many thanks to CapeKids clothing store, Air Canada and the Hong Kong Tourism Board for their generous support which made this episode possible.

Boston's WGBH is PBS's single largest producer of web and TV content (prime-time and children's programs), including Nova, Masterpiece, Frontline, Antiques Roadshow, Curious George, Arthur, and The Victory Garden. Learn more about China: Through My Eyes on their Facebook page at facebook.com/tmeyes.

 

More Tech = Less TV

Gilligan's Island on Amazon.comMuch to my great satisfaction, Friday night is Papa-and-Sofie Movie Night in our home. This may sound traditional, but not exactly.

When she was born in Germany, our media consumption was based primarily on theArmed Forces Network, the Children’s BBC and local stations. No commercials was nice, and there was the always-popular videocassette of Mary Poppins.

When we moved back to Chatham, our home for a year had no cable television. Next was our present home, which had expanded basic cable – but that came to an end with the transition to digital.

We owned no HDTV, and Comcast’s additional charge per month for a converter box hardly seemed worth it. So we downgraded our bill and our service to extreme basic.

Even when we found a decent deal on an HDTV for the living room, picking up a few of WGBH’s channels like Create and Kids, we tended not to watch too much. As much as anything, the DVD/ VCR on the old standard definition TV in my bedroom got the workout. Movies from the Eldredge Public Library provided almost all of what we would watch.

Not that I’ve had much time to watch. That surprises people. After all, I have been producing a historical travel series for the past couple years now. But that doesn’t mean I watch television. Honestly, I find less and less that draws my attention. The major networks lost me when they started broadcasting game shows and talent contests in prime time.

Amazon.com Prime

This is not the sort of thing I grew up watching – the sort of stuff that had me glued to the tube for hours and hours.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise what happened when I stumbled upon – belatedly – Amazon’s video streaming service. Included as part of a Prime membership (which I picked up for the free two-day shipping), the video service gave us access to a variety of movies and old television shows. We watched kids’ movies and old Dr. Who episodes…and then they brought on the full run of Gilligan’s Island.

Words cannot convey how much my daughter loves this show from my youth. Good, clean fun and over a hundred episodes to watch. I remember watching these in re-runs through the ‘70s. Now, in the time slots one might have found shows like this on local stations are either vapid talk shows or infomercials. No thank you.

The only drawback is that we have to watch on my laptop. Sure, the picture is fine. But lying in bed with a laptop perched on your stomach is not entirely comfortable.

Apple TV

So it was rather enticing, too, to learn that for a hundred bucks we could pick up a box to stream all these shows and movies from Amazon – and other online providers – directly to our television. That is less than our yearly cable bill, but providing a wider variety and better selection of whatwe actually want to watch. That we choose the time when we want to watch makes it even more attractive.

But then we recently ran headlong into the opening rounds of what Farhad Manjoo recently called in Fast Company “The Great Tech War of 2012.” The coming battle between Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon entered into my 8-year-old’s life in a way I would have never imagined at that age.

Given a new PC laptop recently, we considered its value. As I edit video, I have to use an Apple. So sharing popular programs, for creating music or photos, would be impossible. So we headed to the store it came from to see about trading it in for an iPad. Then we learned that the iPad would not run any of the popular online kids games like Disney’s Club Penguin. That’s always been more fun to Sofie than watching television.

Google TVBut the Motorola Xoom and other Android-based tablets would access these sites just fine. With an interface almost exactly like my Droid X phone, but bigger, they were easy for Sofie to understand and work.

We were just about to make the jump, and then we learned that devices running Google’s Android system were blocked by network-run sites like Hulu over payment issues. Amazon Prime movies are out as well. Until and unless this is resolved those neat little Android tablets are off the table.

And then comes the Amazon’s Kindle Fire. At less than half the price of an iPad or Android tablet, it streams all those great episodes from Gilligan’s Island in a size you could easily watch on a couch, under a tree or in bed. Plus check e-mail. Plus play games online.

We could have gone that route, but the Kindle Fire won’t be out for a few weeks yet, and we needed to exchange our PC right away. As it turned out, she decided 

Facebook

to stick with her laptop. It does have one big advantage – being an honest-to-God computer, it has a pretty decent-sized hard drive. That means it can hold many, many movies should we take a long trip somewhere far from streaming capabilities of WiFi. For now, old school Microsoft wins.

But having been pushed to re-examine yet again how we want to consume our entertainment yet again, I find the landscape changed. The issue has gone far beyond Comcast and what overpriced, overloaded package we want. Rather, it is how I want to consume the media I choose. I can watch on my laptop, my phone, my television or perhaps a lightweight tablet that can easily go anywhere. All for much less cost than a silly service that demands I meet its schedule.

Which brings me to another revelation. Knowing that we don’t have to rush home to the set to catch a favorite show means we feel we can put it off until we really want to. So lately we are doing other things entirely. Like living.

 

Read this and Andy's other columns online at The Cape Cod Chronicle

BRUNCH BUNCH - #4 China: Through My Eyes on WGBH

Flowers in Hong Kong with Ava and Sofie of China: Through My Eyes

In episode four, Ava and Sofie travel on a scenic ferry ride to meet Castor and Pollux, a sister and brother, and their family for lunch Hong Kong style.

The girls enjoy many interesting new foods, followed by some one-on-one conversations with their new friends. It turns out that the children have a lot in common: both Sofie and Pollux study martial arts, while Ava and Castor both play the violin. All of the children love to draw pictures and read.

Running weekly through the fall, Through My Eyes is the centerpiece of WGBH's Kids site.  This elementary education travel series follows these two Cape Cod girls as they visit China's Pearl River Delta in the run up to Easter.

DiscoverHongKongMany thanks to CapeKids clothing store, Air Canada and the Hong Kong Tourism Board for their generous support which made this episode possible.

Boston's WGBH is PBS's single largest producer of web and TV content (prime-time and children's programs), including Nova, Masterpiece, Frontline, Antiques Roadshow, Curious George, Arthur, and The Victory Garden. Learn more aboutChina: Through My Eyes on their Facebook page at facebook.com/tmeyes.

 

 

A Brick's Journey

Brick from American Whalers at Port Egmont, Saunders IslandThe brick measures roughly two inches by seven inches by threeand- a-half inches. Typical red, well-weathered and with a couple chunks taken out around it. It bears the stains of having been submerged in the sea at times, which is only right because of the location where I picked it up.

The flight from Port Stanley Airport was in a two-engine, eight-seater puddle jumper. From the capital of the Falklands, we skimmed around the eastern edge of the islands in the far South Atlantic and west across the treeless open country and rocky outcroppings from field and water.

Ever since arriving here a few days prior, our crew of Hit and Run History kept remarking how cinematic the landscape was. But that was from ground-level. Now, from a couple hundred feet up, we could grasp the immensity of the place. West Falkland is about the size of Rhode Island and has maybe 90 people. Fewer trees. More cattle. And tens of thousands of sheep, at least.

Hit and Run History boards FIGAS flight from Port Stanley to Saunders Island

The journey to Saunders Island in the remote west of the Falklands took less than an hour, giving us the time to separate from the coziness of our experience back in Port Stanley.

We were able to witness the sort of treacherous waters that our subject had encountered two centuries hence.

Never having sailed these waters, John Kendrick led the Columbia Expedition - the first American voyage ‘round the world - here in February 1788. Having left Cape Verde a couple of months before, the ship Columbia and sloop Washington sought a respite before the treacherous round of Cape Horn. Port Egmont, on the eastern edge of Saunders Island, offered one of the finest harbors in the world according to British explorers.

Touching down on the grass strip on Saunders, we were met by two Land Rover Defenders. The Pole-Evans family owns the entirety of Saunders, which comprises about the same land mass as the city of Boston. They told us the regular population is six. With the addition of our crew of five, we nearly doubled the population.

Over West Falkland copyright Hit and Run History

Soon after getting settled into our cabin, David Pole-Evans, who has lived on the island all his life, showed up to offer a ride to Port Egmont. It was just over the hill from their settlement near Sealers Cove.

Within a couple hours of boarding our flight from Port Stanley, we were standing amidst the tumbledown ruins of Port Egmont. Although the Brits had established a settlement here - their first in the islands - in 1765, the Spanish had forced them to evacuate within a decade, and eventually demolished the place. But due to the natural protection of the topography and abundant fresh water, game birds and anti-scurvy greens, Port Egmont remained for decades a popular place for sealers and whalers from both England the U.S. to use on a seasonal basis.

In the early months of 1788, Kendrick, who grew up on the shores of Pleasant Bay, felt his way toward Port Egmont. Unfamiliar with the area, he overshot the entrance and instead ended up in Brett Harbor, on the backside of Saunders. No one was here.

Port Egmont, Saunders Island, Falklands

Making the best of it, they took on the supplies from the countryside they desperately needed. Several of his officers took the chance to make the short trek overland to Port Egmont. We were walking literally in their footsteps.

Having thoroughly documented our time all over Saunders, ranging across to Brett Harbor and down to the natural dry dock where they would have landed their water casks, we were doing what historians need to do. Getting out in direct contact with our topic. If Kendrick was the first American here, we were the first to follow him here to tell his story.

In the Age of Information, one can easily view documents from libraries across the world, or sample photos of an area. But the smell and touch of the place, and the chance to talk with a man like David Pole-Evans right on the shores of Port Egmont, is of a completely higher order. We could see where the warehouse was right on the waterfront, the dock nearby where boats would have landed, and the spot where the tripots were set up for the grisly work of boiling down seal carcasses for oil. The shore, in fact, was littered with cobblestones and the remnants of bricks.

Surveying the area together, David mentioned the bricks here were not of the same dimension as British bricks. Those are flatter than those made in the U.S. It had been determined these bricks were from American ships. Knowing that the American whale and sealing fleet had originated mostly from New England ports like Nantucket and New Bedford, we realized yet again that our path had circled back to home.

Andrew Buckley of Hit and Run History and David Pole-Evans at Port Egmont, Saunders Island

This is just the kind of discovery that we feel honored to share with our series on WGBH. This kind of natural storytelling is in the blood of Cape Codders who for centuries, like John Kendrick, ranged across the world. We are happy that we have inspired a new generation as well in the China: Through My Eyes series which premiered a couple weeks back to great public acclaim.

Bringing back stories is one thing, however. Filming our discoveries brings the story of Columbia to a global audience. But before we left Port Egmont, I asked David if I could have one of the bricks. He owns the whole island, after all, and he agreed. The most intact example traveled back 8,000, via Santiago, Chile, and JFK, home to my bookshelf on Cape Cod.

Hit and Run History on WGBH

It is possible we could find out where this brick was made, and we're looking forward to sharing it with the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Cape Cod Museum of Natural History and the United States Merchant Marine Academy. This simple amalgam of mud, stones and sand has gone more places than most people have. It has an amazing story to share, and we're looking forward to finding it out.

Read this and Andy's other columns online at The Cape Cod Chronicle

 

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LAN AirlinesHit and Run History is the centerpiece of WGBH's History page.  Their forthcoming Falklands Ho! series is the third installment following the voyage following John Kendrick and the Columbia Expedition around  the world. Hit and Run History thanks LAN Airlines, Turismo Chile and Ocean State Job Lot for helping make this possible.

SKIPPING SCHOOL: Through My Eyes on WGBH

Skipping School: China Through My Eyes on WGBH

WGBH Kids Travel Series Showcases Chatham Lightfoots

In the third episode of China: Through My Eyes, Sofie and Ava head to one of the many bakeries in Hong Kong for breakfast. Along with the delicious treats, they discover the different money used here.

Then the girls visit a jump rope competition and accept an invitation - from a coach named Monkey - to visit jump rope practice at a nearby high school.  There Sofie, who is on the Chatham Lightfoots team back home, receives some one-on-one coaching in the fine art of skipping rope.

Running weekly through the fall, Through My Eyes is the centerpiece of WGBH's Kids site.  This elementary education travel series follows these two Cape Cod girls as they visit China's Pearl River Delta in the run up to Easter.

DiscoverHongKong

Many thanks to CapeKids clothing store, Air Canada and the Hong Kong Tourism Board for their generous support which made this episode possible.

Boston's WGBH is PBS's single largest producer of web and TV content (prime-time and children's programs), including Nova, Masterpiece, Frontline, Antiques Roadshow, Curious George, Arthur, and The Victory Garden. Learn more about China: Through My Eyes on their Facebook page at facebook.com/tmeyes.

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