Sunday, October 21, 2007

He's my knight in shining armor.

Anderson Cooper is, get this, TOO BRAVE for his own good. Geeze, my boyfriend is the greatest!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Not convenient. At all.

ok, much to update from this summer, but I've been procrastinating because there's SO much to write about. Procrastinating for a few months now... so it's better just to jump in, fill you in on what's going on these days, and gradually I'll go back and fill in about this summer. So without further adieu:

I'm teaching more than last term, 14 hours a week at SDU with 5 additional hours at Shandong Normal University, the teacher's university in town. My introduction to the semester at both schools have been very good lessons in Chinese communication.

June, July, August: Asked repeatedly when courses will begin in September, told this was TBD.
Sept 1: Told by a fellow teacher that courses will begin Sept 10th.
Sept 8: Received class schedule. No mention of start date.
Sept 9: Told by a fellow teacher that classes have been moved to Sept 17th. Trusted said teacher, as noone told me otherwise, and there's no way they could have told me what classes I would be teaching 2 days in advance, right? Wrong.
Sept 10: Receive an email, asking why I was not in class, as today was the actual start date. Have missed the first day of class.
Sept 23: 10 pm, receive phone call. I'll be teaching an additional class, beginning tomorrow at 8am in Building 7. Asked where Building 7 was, but the woman who called me didn't know.
Sept 24: 10 minutes late for class, as Building 7 is nowhere near Building 6 or 8. Naturally.
Oct 8:
All afternoon classes which began at 2 will now begin at 1:30. Noone told me this, so I showed up half an hour late for class. Same class I missed the first day.
Oct 9:
10 pm, receive phone call. All afternoon classes which began at 2 will now begin at 1:30. Quite helpful, 2 days ago.

The past week has gone smoothly. Who knows how long that will last.

Shandong Normal University
June: A fellow teaching would be going out of town for part of July, asked if I would sub for her at Shandong Normal for 3 weeks. I said ok.
July: Received phone call that they no longer need a sub, but as she'll be returning to the states in September, they need me to teach her class. 1 hr, 1x/wk. I say ok.
Sept 15: Received a phone call. Since I'll be on campus anyway, perhaps I could tutor one student. 1 hr, 1x/wk. I say ok.
Sept 16: Met the student I would be tutoring. Oops, except 2, not 1! Oops, except high school students, not university students! My boss asked if I could also teach another student, a semi-important person working for Volvo who needs to improve his English. I say ok, as that one could be interesting.
Sept 23: New student is there, who is not a semi-important person working for Volvo, but a recent graduate who would LIKE to be a semi-important person working for Volvo. Teach my actual class for the 1st time, which is super boring, in which I have to cover so much material, I'm basically just reading the textbook to the students, as otherwise there's no way I can get through it all.
Sept 30 - Oct 7:
No class, Chinese Labor Days
Oct 14:
2nd class, both tutee groups canceled. Met with my boss, who asks me to teach ANOTHER student.

Listen. When I say he "asked" me, and I subsequently said ok, you have to understand, that there's basically no "No" in Chinese. If you want to say no, you say "I'm very busy" or "That is not very convenient." You never just say "No." So this is what happens:
"We have a student who wants to study with you."
"I don't have time."
"Oh but his English is very good. He's almost fluent."
"So... maybe he doesn't need the tutoring if he's almost fluent..."
"No, he needs the extra practice. He's a very good student."
"Well, I don't really have time."
"Maybe just once you could meet with him."
"I don't have time."
"Maybe for just 2 hours. He's very good. It could just be like having a conversation."
"2 hours? No, I don't have time."
"But you are here on Sundays. Maybe you could teach after the class."
"That's too late." (5:30)
"Oh so we can meet Sunday morning. I will tell him to come then."
"That's not very convenient. Then I'll be teaching all day Sunday."
"Oh, so maybe if we move your class to begin an hour earlier, then you can meet with him from 4:30 - 6:30. Then it's not too late for you."
"*sigh* We can try it next week, but only once, and only 1 hour."
"Well, maybe just once you can try 2 hours."
"Maybe just once I can try 1 hour."
"Maybe just once you can try 2."

DO YOU SEE WHAT HAS HAPPENED HERE? Eventually I typically give in just because I'm sick of arguing about it. And then I kick myself every week when I remember that what started as a 3 week sub job in the middle of summer has turned into working my ALL Sunday EVERY Sunday until January. Dammit.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

NYT: China Pollution II

New York Times' 2nd part of the series can be found here.

"China has about 7 percent of the world’s water resources and roughly 20 percent of its population. It also has a severe regional water imbalance, with about four-fifths of the water supply in the south...
'In Israel, people regard water as more important than life itself,' he said. 'In Shijiazhuang, it’s not that way. People are focused on the economy.' "
Most industrial areas are north-ish, most of the water is south-ish, people upriver are hogging/polluting the water so there's none left for those downriver, hell in a hand basket, etc etc.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Back to school, back to school

In my very 1st class of the semester, 1 of my students asked me, in front of everyone, what a crack whore was.

Another student asked if I ever get lonely in China. I said yeah, a little, but I have lots of friends here, and I talk to my friends at home, so it's not too bad. Then he says, "The next time you feel lonely, can I buy you a drank?"

Sunday, August 26, 2007

NYT: China pollution

New York Times is running a series on the pollution crisis in China. Check out Part I here.

"President Hu Jintao's most ambitious attempt to change the culture of fast-growth collapsed this year. The project, known as “Green G.D.P.,” was an effort to create an environmental yardstick for evaluating the performance of every official in China. It recalculated gross domestic product, or G.D.P., to reflect the cost of pollution.

But the early results were so sobering — in some provinces the pollution-adjusted growth rates were reduced almost to zero — that the project was banished to China’s ivory tower this spring and stripped of official influence."

It's an interesting dichotomy in China. The government recognizes that the environment is a serious issue here, but the businessmen often overpower state officials on a local level. An easy feat when the agency employs 200 people, versus the US EPA 18,000. Anyway, check it out if you're interested.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Hello to all of my beloved fans-
This is a temporary message to say that I haven't forgotten WCBF. Between a dead computer and preparing to travel for a bit, it's been nearly impossible to update. Check back soon, ya'll, I've got lots of backdated words of wisdom which I'll be adding asap.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The lord said to Noah, there's gonna be a floody floody

It rained yesterday. I didn't take any pictures, as I was busy sprinting across campus in a white t-shirt to make it to an appointment that was canceled for obvious reasons, but I lifted some pix off the internets. Yesterday was the biggest rainstorm Jinan has seen. EVER. Or at least since 1912, when they began keeping track. Depends who you ask, but anywhere from 30-50 people died within Jinan, who knows how many outside the city. Among the casualties was my computer, which had to be sent straight to rehab. In all seriousness, this totally sucked, and the city is a complete mess. 5 lane roads are completely torn up, there's debris everywhere, the biggest shopping center in town is basically completely destroyed, who knows how long it will take to fix everything.
This is the town square and underground mall, which flooded to the ceiling.

For more pictures set to some poppy Chinese music, fast forward to 0:25/-5:45.