Thursday, March 28, 2013

Adventure Day - Part 1

We loaded into the Loser Cruiser and set out for Badaling Great Wall.
It seemed like the right thing to do to since the boys had the day off
from school; moreover, the real chance exists that we may be outta
here in July, the rest of the family had never seen Badaling before,
and I think we all feel like you can never get enough of the Great Wall.

Just a few kilometers from home, we decided this trip would certainly
go better on a full stomach, so we flipped on left turn signal and...

...I screamed...we all cringed in preparation for impact.

I just caught the flash of the black car on our left as we were
beginning our left turn. He was speeding around us in the lane
normally used for oncoming traffic - ON OUR LEFT. The absurdity of
this pass may seem unbelievable to any stateside readers, but it
actually isn't too shocking for Beijing driving. The next few seconds
though, a bit shocking indeed.

Although we had only inched across the yellow lines before seeing him,
apparently our pending left altered his course too much. His reaction
- non existent. He didn't swerve back onto the road, he didn't lock
up his breaks, heck, he didn't even tap his breaks. Instead, he drove
his car directly into a brick wall located just off the left shoulder
of the road. The bricks crumbled over his hood and into his
windshield as the momentum carried the nose forward through the wall.
A final crunch and the tail end of the car flipped upwards as the nose of the
car plunged into a roadside creek bed.

We - still blinker on in the middle of the road - sat in shock. "What

"What do we..."

"Should I..."

"Call 9-1 - wait, no, what the..."

Chins dropped in amazement, we finished our turn and came to a stop in
the parking lot of the Iron Horse, our first destination on our day of

I hopped out of my door and rushed toward the crash. As I did, the
door flopped open hard with the assistance of gravity due to the car's
inverted position. I actually thought he might have been killed, but
when the door opened, I was relieved to know that he was alive. I
expected a bloody face as I shouted, "Are you alright?"

What I got in return was a man, visibly angry, poking the screen of
his phone, and then looking up to me with a wagging finger. He was
speaking far too fast for me to understand his Chinese, but it was
pretty clear that the gist of his message was that his accident -
"his" as I maintain that we were not in one - was my fault.

The foreigner's burden of fault no matter what the circumstances is
certainly folklore among expats in Beijing; moreover, many people we
know have found themselves in interesting driving predicaments. This
dude was driving like a psycho(I wish I had only called him a psycho
while my children were listening), and he clearly paid no attention to
the road ahead of him.

Everyone was safe, he had a phone to call a lift, and I wasn't
sticking around to get hit with the blame.

Sent from the iPad of
Paul R. Koch

Thursday, March 21, 2013

#SBJDynastyMS #SBJDynastyES

> As a solid team we will control the following 9 elements of the game.
> As a great team we will dominate them.
> #1 throw strikes
> #2 run a high motor behind the plate
> #3 field routine ground balls and fly balls
> #4 execute "normal" bunt coverage
> #5 execute "normal" 1st and 3rd play
> #6 throw fielded ball ahead of the baserunner
> #7 understand and execute quality at-bats
> #8 compete on every secondary lead
> #9 use red lights and green lights

Sent from the iPad of
Paul R. Koch

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The First Time

"If you get the chance, go," I said softly as Chris took his lead from third.  
Creep, creep, p-shew.  He took off.  

A variety of shouts interrupt the moment. "Step off," yells the third baseman among others, but in my memory his voice is slow and long like a video tape in slow motion.  Ev-ry-thing-is-slooooww.  Then my focus is right back on the play.  I feel a swell in emotion and possibly the noise, but I'm too locked in to hear it; hands raising slowly in a symbol of victory over my head.  Chris takes his last two steps with dusty wisps kicking up behind each cleat, then starts his slide toward the inside of the plate, hooking, hand outstretched, slapping the plate.  The catcher comes down, ball in hand, hand in glove, slamming his mitt down on Chris' shoulder blade, but already the umpire reaching his hands out, mask in hand, yells, "Safe, safe!"

"Jeaa," I fist-pump! Looking to the crowd, elevating a cheer.

Stealing home may be the single most intense play in sports, and on that day I felt like I had been a part of something pretty neat as a coach - you know, a first time.  In fourteen years of coaching there aren't many days when something happens that you haven't seen or done once before, but straight stealing of home, on that night, was one of them.  

We won that game, I can only guess that teams who steal home successfully don't lose too often, it is sort of a confidence play, and I think teams with confidence tend to win.  

After the game, my buddy Luke called me, "Hey bro, how 'bout we go to DeEtte's for a party tonight."

"Bro, I'm good, just gonna chill I think, I'm kind of tired, got some stuff to do around the house."

"C'mon man, six girls, two guys, good odds!"

"Well, I guess if you put it that way."

We arrived, knocked, and the door swung open.  "Sorry boys, I was just putting on some make up, be ready soon, c'mon in," said a sultry-voiced, blue-eyed blonde I had never seen before.

Apparently, with six girls in the house, mirrors are a hot commodity and the ones in the bathrooms, the hallways, the foyers, and in this case, by the front door were all booked up with DeEtte's female house guests preparing for the night out.  

I am none too proud of the next moment in time.  Quite possibly what transpired is the single most pathetic, yet influential, phrase ever uttered from my lips. The cheesiest of  pickup lines.    

"Hey girl, my name is Paul, and you don't need any makeup,"  I said, giving that caricature hey baby winky-eyed look that in some distorted way I thought looked cool.  


She reddened, giggling at the absurdity of such a statement.  I think Luke snort laughed, pressing his hand on my back to move me past her and into the room.  I wanted to shrink up, hide; I shouldn't have come - my confidence, shattered.  I felt flushed, yet tried my best to play it cool and act as if I was calculating every action and phrase.  I'm such a loser!

My first chance with a babe in months and I mushmouth the cheesiest of all pickup lines.

I stand in the center of the room as DeEtte emerges from the stairwell, "hey boys, you meet Joanne, yet."

"Uh, yeah, thanks," Luke says.

I still look for a shadow to slink into, but turn and acknowledge her. "Yea, thanks."

As I turn back, Joanne is is standing in front of me, blue eyes looking into mine, a broad white smile spreading across her lips.  "Hey, can I get you a beer?"   

"Yeah, that would be great, and uh, hey, sorry about that-" flipping my thumb towards the door where we had our first encounter moments ago.

She holds a hand up to stop me, "It's fine baby, I thought it was cute."  She walks off toward the kitchen, I guess to get the beer.

"Jeaa," I fist-pump!

Paul Koch (@pkoch9999)
+151 1692-2787

Monday, March 11, 2013


What a celebration! Friday Joanne threw me a party for my birthday - I guess 40 is a big one and party worthy.  It was a blast, and this week the celebration continues.  I will make Joanne a nice dinner for HER birthday this Wednesday, and I can't help but think how lucky I am to have met her 14 years ago that day, at her birthday party, at DeEtte’s house in Richmond.

We have quite a bit to cheer about over those 14 years, and one of the Joanneisms that stands out to me is her cheery phrase, “woo-woo”.  It isn’t very loud, in fact it is kinda soft and sweet - just a little “woo-woo”, and maybe a tiny little fist-pump accompanying it.   I am not sure where it originated from, maybe ordering celebratory Woo Woo’s, the sugary sweet vodka cocktail, in some college bar in Arlington or Fairfax, or maybe it goes further back to cheering her friends on in sporting events at Woodson HS.  In any case, I am pretty certain that it predates our relationship, but it has certainly been there as long as I have known her.  She usually utters the “woo-woo” in celebration of any worthy achievement.  A “woo-woo”, when one of the boys gets a hit, scores a basket, or now, earns a try on the rugby pitch.  She even gives me a “woo-woo” when I follow her question, “did you guys win tonight?” in the affirmative.  

Yesterday Bennett got his rugby uniform. I looked it over thinking, well, this is the first one of these we’ve had.  I mean, we’ve done football uniforms, basketball, a brief run at soccer, team handball, and of course we are practically the distributor of now-too-small baseball pants in the neighborhood.  But the first rugby jersey,  woo-woo.

I looked over the field of Rugby footballers; 5 and 6 year olds(Bennett’s group) chasing the ball at one end of the stadium, 8-12 year olds practicing tackling and passing in the middle of the field, and the older boys - high schoolers - working on coordinated attacks across the width of the pitch. The uniforms were similar for all of the kids.  Black shirt with broad red stripes on the body, yellow highlights along the sleeve, a Sports Beijing logo on the chest, and a number - some in recognizable numerals, others in Chinese, on the back.  I looked at Bennett’s shirt, two Chinese characters - 五五.

“Parks, what do those characters mean on the back of Benne’s shirt.”  

“That’s woo-woo dad, he’s number 55.”

Happy Birthday baby!  Woo-woo! And I think that’s my new favorite number.

Paul Koch (@pkoch9999)
+151 1692-2787