Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Fate likes to throw curveballs...recently anyway.
Monday was one of the worst days I've had in China. Most of my classes just sucked (general term there). And of course, my worst class didn't disappoint. I've tried being nice, I've tried being mean. Now I just don't care and they can sit in silence for the rest of the year. Bunch of spoiled rich brats whose parents sent them far away for school because they don't want to deal with them.
Anyway, as you figured out, I was quite angry. I drowned my sorrows with gong bao ji ding and Kingway. I was later accompanied by some other teachers. To top this all off, I asked around for good news or even for someone to give me a reason to stay and was greeted with only commiseration. That's not what I wanted.
I awoke Tuesday and checked my e-mail. There in my inbox was a letter stating that this woman had read my work on and really liked it. She wanted to offer me a travel writing job for a major travel guide. I was happy again.
One glitch. I replied to the e-mail and was greeted with an auto-response from hotmail saying that it was undeliverable.
So, now I must find this woman. I have the address of the main editor for the publication, but I can't find any names. I just have to hope that if I e-mail the editor with the situation, I will finally be greeted with kindness and a reason to leave the hell that is teaching rich brats.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Rosh Hashanah & Motion Sickness

Ok, so this post has two completely unrelated themes... so sue me. I dare you. I'm in China, so there's nothing you can do! hahahaha.
Anyway, first I'd like to wish everyone a happy Rosh Hashanah. I had a joyous experience with Chabad today and yesterday in Shekou. More showed up today though (about 30 people). It's nice to have this community around (they're also helpful if I need any advice or business connections as many have been here quite a long time). It's also a bit surreal. Hearing the rabbi read from the Torah and looking up at the Chinese decorations is not something I ever thought I'd see.

On to motion sickness. At least I think that's what's going on. China is motion sickness hell. Just get in a taxi or bus and you'll understand.
On my ride home late this afternoon, I experienced the usual sight on a bus (well, usual for me). The young woman who sat beside me looked healthy enough. But twenty minutes into the ride, she didn't seem so well. Fortunately, she had the foresight to get a plastic bag in which to vomit. This is a much more pleasant experience compared with the past.
Once on a ride home from Dongmen, I was lucky enough to sit next to a man who vomited directly on the floor of a crowded bus only half an hour into the two-hour trip. And yes, I was sitting right beside him.
If anyone has any other theories as to the why the Chinese enjoy puking next me, please let me know. I'm fairly certain that I'm not THAT repulsive.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Who says the Chinese can't drink?
I think this guy came pretty close to the coveted Darwin Award for the year. I'm impressed that he even made it to the zoo and was capable of paying admission after that much beer. My guess is, he probably even drove himself to the zoo after his drinking time at the restaurant.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Follow the rules

I forgot I had this photo. It's a sign in the ecological park in Shekou District, Shenzhen. For anyone wanting a pleasant day away from the noise of the city, this park is beautiful with views of downtown Shenzhen. There usually aren't too many people, so it's not too difficult to find a peaceful spot to relax, read, write, draw, etc.
However, please obey the rules of the park. Pay particular attention to number 6.
I'm still scratching my head, wondering how exactly one would practice feudalism in a public park. Would someone build a castle and then rent the public land to some peasants?
I've been thinking of getting a group of friends together and holding a medieval picnic. Everyone can dress as lords and serfs. Of course, the serfs would have to give half their food to the lords who would arrive with nothing because the serfs would pay for everything. It can be a fun day for the whole family. Abuse the peasants and eat their food!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

According to a short news blurb, Hong Kong had an earthquake. This is supposed to be a rare occurance. As you may know, Shenzhen is very close to Hong Kong. All I have to say is, "There was an earthquake?" Was that what I felt sitting, watching TV? Nothing fell, nothing broke. After an earthquake, I'm surprised the buildings in this area of the city are still standing considering they look ready to fall apart after five years of existence.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I was clicking through the news tonight (morning for those in USA), and I came across some articles about the primary elections around the country. Some were interesting as I got to know some candidates from states in which I've never lived.
But one article struck me as a little odd. I had to read the headline three times to understand that Captain Obvious was most definitely working in the newroom today. (Note to editors and writers: don't be this stupid when writing headlines.)
The headline read: "Arizona GOP Primary Won by Conservative"
Really? I was expecting a liberal to win the Republican nomination.

Monday, September 11, 2006

China Lotto

It was a long day today. After my late class, we had beginner Chinese lessons with the non-native speaking students of the international section. Damn, it was difficult. The first thing we had was in characters, Pinyin, English, and Korean. But then we got to the book and it was all characters. Our teacher only spoke Putonghua and the CD we used was quite fast. I understood very little and managed to get one out of six questions correct.
After that I went with Winnipeg to dinner at Green. We sat to eat and drink and discuss our classes and such. His girlfriend came by, as she works a few doors down at the lottery office. She spoke with Winnipeg about business and the new game she bought that was selling well. He gave her 10 kuai for ten tickets. He didn't win on any. I figured this was my opportunity to cash in. I gave her 2 kuai. I won 1 kuai. So I got another ticket. I won another 1 kuai. So I got another ticket. I won another 1 kuai. (Can you guess what happens here?) On the sixth ticket, I lost all my money. It wasn't all bad. Six tickets for 2 kuai is pretty good and pointless. I supposed I could've kept that money and spent it on a bus ride to Commie-Mart.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

myspace is good for something

I decided to go on myspace to check on my state-side friends.
On the main page they had the preview for the season premiere of The Simpsons. I was in heaven for five minutes. There is no Simpsons on TV in China! I just want to watch it in Chinese... I'm certain it'll help me learn. Alas, all I have is season 8 on the bootleg DVD. It's a good cure for homesickness. I'm just disappointed the Aussie girl left after last term... she had seasons 1-12. At least I got to borrow that set for a few weeks. Maybe one of these days I'll come across more sets of Simpsons on DVD.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


That wasn't the best news to wake up to.
Yesterday I was tempted to get my ass out of bed at 3:30 am to listen to the Penn State-Notre Dame game online. I rethought that plan after spending time talking and drinking with friends and our Irish ex-coworker. Sometime around midnight as I left the apartment, I decided I'd rather sleep. I'm probably better off not having listened to the poor performance of my Nittany Lions.

And to make things worse, Florida State came back late in the 4th to avoid the upset. But everyone knows that Joe Paterno is still the better coach.

With this loss, PSU really needs to beat Ohio State and Michigan this season. Those are the only contenders for the Big Ten. OSU will definitely be the tougher of the two after they proved they really are that good with their win over Texas.

Come on Morelli, lead the team!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Chinese musical experience

Last night we went out to New Face Pub in Bao'an District (not far from where I live). We had to walk there from the club that we thought we'd check out (that place was far too loud and wanted 60 kuai for the three of us to sit there on top of the price of drinks). Anyway, the first band there played a couple English songs for us. The first being some Green Day song. There was something else that I don't know the name or singer of. And lastly, they played Bon Jovi's "It's my life." I don't like the songs they played, but I must admit they sounded quite good.
The second band was a lot funnier. It was a three man band--a big Jamaican guy and two Chinese guys. They played some boy band song in a hard rock style... I couldn't stop laughing. And to top it all off, they played "It's my life."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

They can talk! But they can't sing.
My year 9 students had a productive day. I almost threatened them in a way. I told them that I taught little kids last year and I'd be more than willing to treat them as such if they didn't start talking or at least trying. I was about to have listen and repeat time with them. But I guess I won't have to as some of them are responding. And all of them at responded with a nod or some minor movement of the head.
It's better than a blank stare.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Where's my classroom?
I think I should have that printed on a sign and hang it around my neck. Yesterday was the first day of classes for me. I got to share the other teachers' classrooms. It was OK considering there were no scheduling conflicts.
Today was a little different. My first class went terribly. I asked about my class. "You don't have a classroom?" "No, I wasn't given one." This led to me going to the head office and being shown a closet with chairs. No, I can't have class in a closet--there's no blackboard. I was then taken to a large conference room. As I was getting set up in the conference room, I was told by my boss (the nearest boss anyway) that this would not be my classroom. I can just go to the class homeroom. Well, where is that??
By the time I arrived and the students arrived, we had a whole ten minutes of introductions. Fun times.
It didn't end there either. I had four more classes that were delayed by trying to find a suitable classroom. And that wasn't even the worst of the problems...
My grade 9s. What is wrong with these kids? I can't get a sound out of them. Not in English or Chinese. I had my Chinese co-teacher in the room today. She told me I was talking too fast for them. But I continually asked the question, "Do you understand? Yes, no, maybe?" I never got a response...not even a nod or shake of the head. These kids are lifeless. I've decided to baby them until they talk. I'm going to treat them like my year 1 students last year. I will hold up flashcards and word cards and have them listen and repeat as a class. And if they complain, maybe they'll start talking. I even wrote on the board today: "This is a speaking class. If you don't talk, you will fail!" That didn't get any response either. I'm so glad I have other classes with students who can communicate in some ways.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

It seems I'm having more difficulty studying Chinese these days. I was doing great during last term and through the summer. But it's not so good anymore.
I used to go down to my favorite restaurant, Lao Chongqing, for a couple beers and read my Chinese notes. This was quite effective. First, Liu is quite helpful, especially considering he wants to improve his English. Fortunately, he's not leaving the restaurant, but is quite busy most nights and cannot help me too much.
There was the Kingway beer girl. She was very nice and helpful. She obviously likes the foreign teachers because we consume a lot of beer and she gets paid based on how much of her beer is sold. She would always come over to me and help me study by asking questions that she thought I could answer. She understood my level of Chinese was equivalent to a retarded parrot. She tried to correct my mistakes and understood my nonsensical gibberish. Unfortunately, she has moved to the Red restaurant down the way and we really don't like that place because their service just plain sucks. (Case in point: Friday lunch, we were given three dishes we know we didn't order and they wouldn't take them back.)
Just before I left for my long vacation with the parents, there was a very kind young waitress who helped me almost as much as the Kingway girl. Two days before I left, she asked if I would teach her some English. I agreed, thinking that she would also help with my Chinese. As with all good things around here, it ended. When I returned from vacation she was no longer working at Lao Chongqing. There goes a nice student who could've helped me.
It also seems that some of the new staff have taken a great liking to the restaurant. The problem is, they go around the time I enjoyed most for studying. This interrupts my studies slightly with a distraction.
I suppose I could convince my girlfriend to return to our Chinese/English lessons again. She's always happy to teach me more. And maybe this coming week I'll get to take Chinese class with the Korean students. But I know that class will be difficult. I hope I don't slack off.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I made an interesting discovery today on a walk around the neighborhood with one of the new teachers.
We were specifically searching for small items that could be used to decorate classrooms. On the way back we stopped off in the local art gallery. I had never been inside, but I knew that the gallery provided art classes to residents.
After looking at the back wall of student work that was quite impressive, we heard a call from upstairs.
"Hello. Where are you from?"
"Wo men lai zi Meiguo," I responded.
The man walked down the steps and spoke with us. He was the owner and artist of the gallery.
He explained that this is only a branch gallery--his main gallery is in Vancouver. He's even a Canadian citizen.
We proceeded to talk about art and where we've been. He showed us articles and photos about his work and galleries around the world. I must admit, his work is quite impressive. If it wasn't so large, I might consider purchasing some. But what would I do with a painting that big? And how would I ever get it back to the U.S.?
Anyway, I've now discovered that there is a very friendly artist who is in the area part of the year. The fact that his English is quite good helps as well. The only other artist I know doesn't speak any English, so communication is difficult.