Archive for July, 2006

Armchair Travel

27 July 06

I really am truly, very busy in my new position as ESL manager, but I do occasionally take a few moments to read articles online, and this caught my eye:

The Frugal Traveler – Around the World in 90 Days

From the NY Times, Matt Gross is spending 3 months traveling as cheaply as possible around the world. I want to join him! Currently he is in Kyrgyzstan – do you know how long it took me to get that spelled correctly? – and I must say it sounds like a destination I would like to head to. Actually, it is closer to me than Europe! (It borders with China, Kazakhstan, and according to the map supplied by the NY Times, some other unnamed Stan.) Looks like I will have to be an armchair traveller for now, though.

It’s Alive!

27 July 06

It works! It is not just a paperweight!! <ssssiiiigggghhhhh>

All is right in the world again,* my laptop is functioning and should be back on my desk by Monday.

*Sorry, it appears that all is not right in the world, what with several wars occurring, children starving, the scourges of AIDS, tuberculosis, polio, etc., and the general apathy over many of these problems.

Computer Woes Continue

25 July 06

It appears that I am now the proud owner of a very expensive, shiny, silver Mac paperweight.

It has been delivered to the Apple store to see if anything can be done to either resurrect it or reclaim the data from the hard drive.

I’m trying to put this all behind me and pretend that I am over it, but it is a difficult thing to have so much one day, and so little the next.

Let this be a warning to you all —— Back-up, Back-up, Back-up. Do it now. Do not risk losing your data, files, photos, music, ebooks, etc. as I may have done.

On a more positive note – today it was 20 degrees in Shijiazhuang! Just like fall. We’ve had tons of rain so everything is very green, too. I enjoy a green, lush environment with fog and mist, but it is not too conducive to flying, and I fear that within all that fog and mist lurks a bevy of chemicals and smoke particles. NICE!

We Miss You!

21 July 06

The Great Danes… We miss you very much!! Best of luck to you in BVI!

The Danes

Computer Sadness

21 July 06

Friends, please join me in a collective, mournful vigil as I await the fate of my dear, beloved Mac G4 Powerbook, which inexplicably and tragically, decided to dowse herself in water. I know she is strong, powerful, and full of irreplaceable data, but I fear that she may not be long for this world. Only with your thoughts and prayers, and an extended drying-out period, will we overcome this period of doubt and fear.

In the meantime, I shall have to suffer through the slow, inefficient ways of the PC. Thank you for your support.

And no, this was not a clever ploy to get one of the new, improved, recently released Mac laptops.

Smiley

Oreos (Or something like that) in China

16 July 06

Has to be seen to be believed!

Oreo Chinglish

Chinese Fauna – the Horror

16 July 06

Huu-Hu-Huu-Hu

??

Imagine the above being sung by an extremely loud, obnoxious Chinese bird, very close to your window, starting like clockwork at 4:30 AM every morning. Imagine the bird continues to sing freely and proudly all day long. That is the hell that we must endure here at the airport. I know, it’s terrible. Thanks for you thoughts and prayers.

Slow Travel

16 July 06

I’ve just spent the morning reading some electronic magazines. I love e-books and e-magazines. They are such a great idea for world travellers who can’t lug books and mags across continents. Anyway, I’m reading a US News & World Report issue from a few weeks ago that discusses Summer vacations. Evidently, Americans only take about 8 days of vacation per year, while Europeans take 20 to 25.

Americans!! My people!! What are you thinking??? This American has taken….hmm…it’s kind of embarrassing…42 days, and the year ain’t over yet.  Smiley (Sheepish grin) Of course, when you make the decision to live overseas – perhaps in a developing or third world country – frequent trips is just a part of the package, a way of surviving in environments that are not always about luxury, comfort and joy.

I understand the worth ethic in America. I have this affliction myself. When I am working – I am working. Which inevitably leads to a great deal of stress. I don’t like stress. I must de-stress. Thus the need for frequent vacations. It actually leads to better health and improved productivity. I saw some statistics recently in Foreign Policy magazine which demonstrated that Japan – where the people work like 18 hours a day, had low productivity. And, are you ready for this America? France had higher productivity than America.

So, in an effort to increase productivity and improve health in America, can I suggest to all you Americans out there, take a vacation. But not just any kind of vacation. You need to practice Slow Travel! (Kind of like the slow food movement.) I love this movement. I have fully embraced slow travel and I think you should, too. According to this Slow Travel website, this means that you should stay in one place for a week, rent a house or apartment, or at least base yourself in a hotel room, and explore leisurely the surrounding areas. No group travel. No “It’s Monday it must be London” type travel. Don’t stress yourself out more on your vacation – vacation is a time to relax. (And no, relax is not a dirty word!!)

So that is my rant for the day.

ESL Teacher Nearly Drowns in Freak Torrential Downpour

13 July 06

That is what I think the China Daily headline should read for today, because, yes, I nearly drowned yesterday, standing up, walking on the streets of Shijiazhuang.

My first mistake was wearing my adorable and comfortable Spanish Espadrille sandals to the city. Basically, they are made of hemp and rope and they are now swollen and bloated with all the water they ingested. My second mistake was leaving my umbrella at home. (Not that it would have helped much.)

So what happened? I went to the city, under threatening, overcast skies, to entertain the most basic of womanly needs – shoe shopping – sales shoe shopping. Half-way to my destination, it began to rain. Not too hard, not too bad, nothing to be overly concerned about. I arrived at the department store and began my purchasing. Satisfied with two new pairs, (Well, I could have bought ten, but I didn’t want to be excessive.) I decided to head back down the main road towards a popular mall where I could buy some Western groceries. That was my third mistake. I should have just stayed put.

I bought an umbrella before leaving and made my way down the road. It seemed to be going okay when suddenly, the sky opened up and hellfire and brimstone seemed to be raining down. Or it could have been cats and dogs. All I knew is that I was having problems staying upright because of the wind. Lesser sized Chinese girls were being carried away all around me. Thank god for my hips!! I jumped between two columns in the front of a shop and tried to compose myself. I was standing in front of a tea shop and it wasn’t long before the girls working inside convinced me to come in and sit down. They plied me with hot green tea for 30 minutes before the apparent typhoon passed. I ended up buying some kind of green tea oatmeal in appreciation.

Fortunately, one pair of shoes that I had just bought were a plastic/leather combo that would hold up well to all the water, so I switched out my ailing espadrilles and headed to the streets, which had become more like mini-rivers. If you have ever spent any amount of time in China, you’ll understand how disgusting these rivers were. (In Shijiazhuang, the sidewalks are covered in human spit and who knows else what kind of funk.) I really had no choice but to just wade through, because every taxi was taken and all the buses were crammed full of people. (With that kind of humidity and heat, the last place I wanted to be was on a crowded bus.) By the time I arrived at my destination, my toes were pruney!!

I survived, but looks like the espadrilles are going to need a lot of TLC and the new umbrella is already a twisted piece of metal and fabric.

Actually, it turned out quite nice, because when the sun went down, the air turned cooler, bringing tons of people out to walk on the sidewalks. I always feel the most camaraderie with Chinese people in the evening when they come out to walk, dance, sing and do Tai Chi in the streets. I suppose it is because  everyone is more relaxed in the cool air and away from the stress of the day. People are more free with their smiles. Walking along with a group of Chinese grannies, I felt content with the companionship, even if we were dodging lakes of water and they were all probably chatting away about me in Chinese.

Looks like we are definitely in the midst of the rainy season. We can expect similar downpours for the next two months.

Embarrassing Lack of Blog Entries

11 July 06

You cannot imagine the guilt I feel on leaving this blog update-less and uninteresting for almost 2 weeks.

In my defense, I will say that my epic journey across China left me feeling a bit overwhelmed and tired. Honestly, I began to worry about how I was going to share all that I saw and learned over the trip, seeing as how I didn’t take any notes. So then I just procrastinated and got really busy at work.

So forget the long, drawn-out descriptions of China. I’m going to post an overview, with thoughts and photos, BUT, I don’t know when I will get to that.

I’ve got a new position at PanAm, as the ESL manager – which means a lot more work for me. That’s right, I’m now a manager. (Well, not officially, I’m still waiting for the official word from upper-management.)

So, this blog is not dead, the owner just continues to be lazy. It is summer, though, isn’t that when we are all supposed to slack off and do nothing?! It sure feels like the dog days of summer here. Hot, humid, the occasional rain shower.

Check back this weekend, I just might surprise you!