It’s been a whirlwind two weeks for me. I left early last Wednesday for a quick business trip to Taiwan and China. I got back late this past Wednesday night. As with any trip, I always seem to come back with a story or two about my adventures. This time I seemed to have a few more stories than normal. Given they are mostly funny (or at least somewhat informative), I thought I’d pass on some highlights of what I learned or observed this trip for your reading enjoyment.

No Bullets Allowed — My wife didn’t bother to inspect her backpack before she went through security with me at the Northwest Arkansas airport. That meant she didn’t bother to remove the two boxes of 22LR ammunition we had purchased the Saturday before at Academy. The good news — it was an honest mistake and we had the option to take them back to our car. The bad news — we were already late and we chose to leave them for disposal. Life lesson: always treat your backpack as if it’s loaded!

Does Voltage Matter? — After arriving in China, one of my first chores is always to setup my laptop, check email, and charge whatever devices I have with me — usually an iPhone and a tablet. Most electronic accessories are designed to work with 240V circuits that are common overseas. But, from time to time, some after-market accessories you buy online (for cheap) don’t always have the 240V option. In this case, my knock-off wall charger must have been rated only for 120V. The good news — I found out that fire shooting out of a Chinese outlet looks very similar to fire shooting out of a US outlet. The bad news — my finger was black for two days. Life lesson: always check your voltage!

Where’s the Beef?  — The day we arrived in China coincided with a massive beef and chicken recall for all McDonald’s restaurants in China. (I later learned the US-owned Chinese meat supplier was accused of re-labeling expired meat with new dates and reselling it.) After being in China for a day or two, my stomach typically starts getting homesick. The good news — there are a lot of McDonald’s restaurants in China and they taste just like our local McDonald’s on the Boulevard. The bad news — when there is a beef and chicken recall, you’re left with a choice of a Filet-O-Fish, a Filet-O-Fish, or a Filet-O-Fish. Life lesson: don’t assume US food safety standards always work outside the US!

Snores and More Snores — On my third day of traveling in China, I settled in for a two-hour van ride to see a new factory. My wife and I sat in the very back with two factory representatives, a driver, and my uncle filling the remaining seats in the van. Given the heat (it was around 95F that day), bad air conditioning, and jetlag, I quickly dozed off — half reclined and have upright in the seat. As a youngster, I often made fun of my dad when he snored. Forty years later, I’ve become my dad in a number of ways. As I would later learn, like my father, my snoring can be rather loud. In this case, it was loud enough to wake me up. The good news — I stayed awake the remainder of the trip. The bad news — my snoring also woke up the two Chinese ladies sitting in the middle seat ahead of me.  When my eyes opened, they were leaning over the seat staring at me with big smiles on their face. Life lesson: snoring with strangers in the car can lead to an embarrassing and awkward moment!

As much as I enjoyed my trip, it is certainly good to be home. While no country is perfect, nowhere else compares with the US of A in terms of the personal freedoms and liberties we enjoy. As to the life lessons from this trip, I certainly won’t forget them. And given my uncle Richard has perfected my snoring sounds, I expect no one else at the office will be forgetting them either…at least not in the next few weeks.

Until next time: stay the course, keep the faith, and may God bless Neosho!

Richard Davidson is mayor of Neosho.