Saturday, October 9, 2010
This will probably be our last posting. Andy and I have returned to Evansville and he has seen two doctors to date. They have placed him on a month-long regimen of steroid treatment to gain control of the problem. Once they have it under control, they can then determine the proper course of action.
We are living in the lap of luxury in a downtown loft condo while we wait for Andy to get to the point where we can go more than an hour without a bathroom. Once we get there, we'll run down to Nashville and start looking for new housing.
Stay in touch via Facebook. We'll post pictures there!!
China was a wonderful, unique experience. We are ready to go back!!
Friday, October 1, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
Another drizzly day in Yantai but great jeans weather!
Gotta love the Chinese-way. We had money wired to BOC (Bank of China) on August 20 per BOC’s instructions. We were told it would take a week to get posted. Sure enough, on the 27th we got confirmation that the money had arrived with my name and customer number identified but since it didn’t have my account number, we couldn’t get the money. [FYI: joint accounts evidently don’t exist!] So another email was sent to our bank requesting they identify which account. That took yet another week! So today we got confirmation that the money is in my account. I STILL can’t get to it--it’s in U.S. dollars. We have to have our passports to switch money from USD to yuan. We went to the police station on the 26th to get our resident permits and they kept our passports. At 4pm today, we finally got our passports back. We got to the bank by 4.30 but it was too late so I have to go back tomorrow--yes, Saturday the banks are open. The moral of this story is--carry lots of cash!
Otherwise it has been an unremarkable day. We took Chang with us to the bank. In the event the money hadn’t been posted, Chang’s mother was going to go to bat for us. She is a force to be reckoned with! But, fortunately such last ditch efforts were not required. Instead we made arrangements to have dinner with Chang and Ping. Anqi was supposed to join us, too, but got caught at Jusco (shopping center) instead.
Some last minute scheduling changes occurred at school--does this sound familiar?? Andy’s schedule remained the same but I lost 2 oral English classes which were replaced by a 2 hour English writing class for the 2 (yes, 2!) students in the most advanced class. I’m in tears (of joy!) over this event.
We did make another stop at the local grocery knowing that we had money in the bank. Picked up some school supplies as well as peanut butter for Andy and a bottle of wine for me--not sure who’s cost less per ounce!!
I worked with Anqi tonight on prepping for her TOEFL (English as a 2nd language) test and Andy will provide another session tomorrow morning. While he’s busy with Anqi, I’ll be meeting with some parents about 3 middle school students who need an English tutor. That will keep me busy on Saturday mornings for a while!
That’s all the excitement one can handle for a day!! We will post more tomorrow and Sunday we have been invited to a 5 star restaurant here in Yantai (Chang’s mom strikes again!). Full report to follow.
I started my morning with yoga--now I can’t move! Maybe after tomorrow’s session, I’ll be better! Our neighbor is organizing sessions in the dorm hall--I am sure it would be hilarious to watch--but for now, it’s just painful to do!!
Andy and I got our teaching assignments yesterday and our books today. I have been informed I will not have one of my reading classes but will replace it with an IETL class (only 2 students!!--they are the most advanced). Still 5 class preps but small classes (15 maximum). The text are well arranged and basically tell us what to do when.
After our meeting, 5 old farts (well, one is only 23 but the rest are over 60!) were out playing frisbee much to the delight and amusement of the passing Chinese students. We quit when Andy’s arm refused to throw any more.
Chang called today and invited us to lunch Saturday. A friend of her mother’s had sent us wine already and now she wants to take us to lunch. We are sooooo spoiled.
We found the meat and vegetable market today. From star of anise to Helmann’s mayonnaise, they had it all. Eight kinds of rice, vegetables we couldn’t begin to identify and some meats we probably would have preferred not to know about! The chickens looked very fresh; gizzards and hearts were plentiful. We saw some pork loins I wanted to bring home! We got peaches yesterday; they are delicious!
For those of you have been worried: there are cold sodas on every corner along with ice cream. The Chinese love their ice cream.
Anqi was by today. She is the first to take her English exam for graduate school (10 days from now). She will visit with one of us for an hour each day for the next couple of days to do practice work. Both Ping and Chang have them scheduled for the coming months, too. All of the students are busy studying for the GMAT exams, too.
We went to the upstairs dining room of cafeteria #6 tonight. You order off a menu and are served [rather than cafeteria style downstairs]. The manager was a sweetheart! She found the English translation copy and walked us through the various options. After the meal, I showed her one of the dishes we were curious about and she sat down with us to find the name. We will definitely go back to see her again. We had a broth bowl with green vegetables, green onions, clear noodles, wheat noodles and shrimp (we asked that they leave the chili peppers out!). It was yummy but the vegetable dish was GREAT: sauteed pieces of eggplant and thin sliced potatoes in a brown gravy with green onions and garlic. We added fried rice to our order but were so full by the time it came, we brought it home. It has got to be some of the best flavored rice we’ve had.
All in all a great day in Yantai (weather cooperated, too!).
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
First, by writing this entry and dating it, I just realized that tomorrow is our anniversary. I am an incredibly lucky man. Also, Joan is an incredibly patient woman.
We had our second teacher’s meeting today and were given our class assignments. We both will teach a class called Interchange which is a basic communications class. I have the entry level kids and Joan has the second year, second semester students. In addition to this lass I will teach writing to second and third year students for a total of 4 preps. Joan also will teach reading to second year, oral English to second year, and world cultures to third year for a total of 5 preps.
A special note to those of you who have taught comp. classes:
Our director gave me only 18 hrs. of class instead of 20 like everyone else. He stated that teaching writing required extra grading time and that anyone who disagreed could trade me schedules. I was nearly stunned out of my chair. After 28 years of English, I’ve never had an administrator do this! There is hope!
Our faculty is having a discussion about electronic translators. We are divided on allowing them in the classroom or not. Remember, for all intent, these are foreign language classes. Some feel that the translators become a crutch. Others see them as a useful tool. Because students try to divide and conquer, we feel we need a united front on this issue. Your input is welcomed. Remember to email your response as we cannot see our blog site.
This also gives me a chance to thank our daughter, Berkeley, for updating our blog. We email her the text and pictures and she cuts and pastes them to our site. Thank you, BDA!
We haven’t posted pix for a while as we don’t always carry the camera on campus. I did see a couple of unusual things yesterday. I saw my first Chinese lawnmower. Usually mowing is done by sending six guys out with weed eaters. Yantai U. has a mower. I also heard this godawful noise and turned around to see a Harley. Up to now, we have seen small electric scooters and a few small engine motorcycles. This one was a Hawg!
If you want to Skype with us the best time is during your evening. During the U.S. morning, we are frequently thrown off the internet. There are 7,000 providers in the U.S. There are 3in China. Once this place awakens and gets going, internets fill up. Our skype name is jnalindauer
My two index fingers are now tired. I am a two fingered typist. Hope all is well in the states.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Today, you get a 2 part blog. Joan will write the second part about her adventure yesterday at the silk comforter factory. You get my regular drivel first.
Try to imagine yourself 12,000 miles from your home. Now add that very few can communicate with you. When they do, it is often: 1. How are you? 2. I speak English 3. How are you? 4. Do you speak English? Etc. To compensate for this, I am currently listening to Stevie Tyler wail “Walk this Way” If you are ever in this situation, try it! Stevie really helps. Just give us a keeeees!
This morning on my walk I met the manager of the multi-media center at the library. They just got a batch of computer white boards. If you are unfamiliar with them they are a combination of white, dry erase board and computer interactive board like you see on NCIS LA. He wanted to know if I knew how to use one. I guess I have that superior, hi-tech look about me. I explained that when I retired from the classroom I was delighted if the custodian cleaned my blackboard! Anyway, I wrangled an invitation to visit his area for a tour, access to their CD and DVD collection, and computer white board lessons. I also learned that his son was starting high school today and that parents are required to attend the first day with their child. Seems like a good idea to me. At some point during the visit the parent will sign the “You may hit my child” waiver. Often this is edited by the parent to read “You may hit my child OFTEN”, another wonderful idea to me! I am currently making a list of students from the US that I would like to transport back in time and bring to China for hitting. Some of you may feel a funny waive like action around you like in “Bill and Ted’s Most Excellent Adventures”. Be prepared to get hit.
The weather has changed from last week’s rain to sunny skies. The temperature is back up but not scorching or steamy like it was. We can run the A/C in late afternoon and at night and be comfortable. Also, we have met all our fellow teachers. There’s Kyle From-down-de-hall (I think this is a German name), Suzane, Mary, Lorne, and Randi. Joan and I complete the faculty. Lorne will also be the principle. I gave him Jim Sharp’s email address just in case.
I found that I can still pirate music on Limewire. I have Oklahoma! Recorded for my first day of class. I figure, start right in with real American culture. Or I guess I could play Aerosmith. Enough from me.
I also have a list of kids to add to the ‘hit me’ list—many of the young Chinese males we see running around. Discipline is not strong!
Yesterday afternoon Mei and her 9 year old daughter, Lily took me to a local silk quilt factory. The silk is stretched (harder than it looks!) and added to until the right ‘weight’ is attained. Then a plastic sheet is laid over it which made a slick way to get it into the coverlet. It takes about 1.5 hours start to finish to complete a quilt. We watched them make one and placed our orders. Lois & Marco Polizzi’s daughter, Paige, is getting married in October. Guess what she’s getting for a wedding present!?!?
Dinner was at our favorite “soup’ place in #8 cafeteria. You pick out the vegetables, noodles, meat, etc and pile them on a plate (7 cents US per item!). Tell them what spices (FYI boo la – means not spicey!), add peanut sauce and cook it in broth—yummy! Suzanne from Montreal (60 year old retired language teacher) went with us. With a bottled coke it cost us each less than $1 US for a great dinner.
This morning saw many of our neighbors off to the medical center for their physicals. Later this week they will go to the police station for their resident permits. The director and his wife (Lorne/Mary) and Andy and I are the only part-timers. The rest have committed to a full year.
The freshmen arrived on campus over the weekend. This week they are doing their military training which is focused on proper uniform, stance and saluting. Some physical fitness but mostly in the appearance. Both males and females go thru this for the first week and we see them marching, drilling, etc around campus.
First staff meeting this afternoon. More later . . .
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Another early morning. When Andy headed out for a walk at 6am, he ran into our newest arrivals: Mary & Lorne Little from Chatham, England. Lorne is going to be the director this year and Mary will teach. They had finally gotten in at 2am and were in need of toilet paper (no, it doesn’t come with the room!). Before Andy got any further, we were joined by Dennis (you heard about him earlier). We ended up going to Dennis and Randi’s room for an hour long visit. Very nice folks; they will be going with us this afternoon back to the hand art exhibition. We will find the paper cutting lady again and return the favor; she gave us 3 pieces of her work when we were there, we’ll take her one of Andy’s pens. But first we are meeting the 5 former FGCU exchange students and treating them to lunch. We will go to the Jusco mall and eat Korean!
More later. Have a good day (or night!) . . .
(Also including some additional pictures from yesterday!)
Up early this morning to meet Chang and Xiao (her boyfriend) for a road trip. We caught the #17 bus (1 yuan=15 cents) for downtown where we transferred to the Penglai bus (18 yuan or $2.62). A ride along the south shore of Bohai Bay landed us at the Penglai Aquarium, one of the largest in Asia with the world’s largest acrylic tank (see picture).
We were a little worried at first. After paying $17.50 pp, we entered a totally artificial rain forest: silk plants, faux rocks, etc. with Japanese koi in a pond. From there it only got better. Several large tanks of mixed fish transitioned into exhibitions of sharks, dolphins, rays, tetras, corals and some of the world’s ugliest fish! We even saw penguins and polar bears. We spent over 2 hours touring the facility; it was well done with faux wood ramps and hand rails, waterfalls and the never ending supply of ‘photo spot’ that added to the ‘rain forest’ motif they had elected.
We found a spot for lunch--seafood, of course, and caught the bus back to Yantai. Since the trip from Yantai to Penglai is about 2.5 hours, the day was fairly well shot by the time we got back. Also after all that walking, our knees were talking to us!
Sleep well . . .
Friday, August 27, 2010
Went looking for a wire transfer. Headed for China on the 20th and has arrived. However, even though Bank of China gave us the address and wiring instructions, we can't get the money because only my customer number and name were put on the letter and not the account number. So much for following directions! Another week to wait for the money. Welcome to China!
We went to cafeteria #8 (directly behind our building) for lunch. Anqi had told us we could get decent Korean food. Not sure if that's what we had, but it was good. Fish nuggets, green beans, rice, julienned sweet potatoes--moms everywhere would be proud!
At 2pm Mei (the Yantai accounting professor headed to Kutztown (PA) U in October) collected us for a hand art exhibition. You may have noticed a steel building on the distance of pictures from our window of the library. That building is the football (aka soccer) stadium. Behind it we discovered two more stadium-type structures: one is an indoor swimming facility and the other a shooting range. Going across the street south, you come to Exhibition Hall #3. As you can tell from the picture, it is awesome. Andy wasn't really excited about going to the exhibition but Chang told him he'd enjoy it. Boy, did he! The wood and woodworking were awesome. Andy was drooling. The embroidery work was exquisite; some even used human hair! One man was using clay to make 'pictures' of people; his end work was about 1.5 inches high! The detail was incredible. We met and had our picture made with a local 'champion' paper cutter; she's been doing it since age 6 and is probably 65 now. She kindly gifted us some of her work. We spent 3 hours roaming the hall oohing and ahhing. We will probably go back tomorrow since we don't think it'll be clear enough for Penglai.
We have new neighbors. The couple across the hall is from Redman, WA. She's the teacher (for artist) and he's a retired minister. Very nice and like wine, too! It's their first adventure in China, too.
Went back to #8 for dinner tonight. We definitely found Korean tonight--and an English major, too. We had a ‘bowl’: you pick out what you want in it and they cook it. Greens, mushrooms, ham (delicious), noodles, bean sprouts and cabbage with peanut sauce is wonderful!