Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What is my Job Description?

So I realized that I haven't really explained what it is I'm doing here in the Red Kingdom. Basically my job is this. 

My job is to help graduate students, and PhD hopefuls continue their English studies. I do my job in to ways. I have a 2-hour lecture class where each week I have a topic to talk about. I use clips, audio and various media to explain the topic. The point of the class is to get them speaking in English, so I choose topics that will be thought provoking or something rife with philosophical questions for them to answer (This isn't always the case though, one class I talked about the College student's diet for 2 hours straight, not good times.)  The other way I teach the lemmings is through a 1-hour situation class, where the students are given a dialog over a situation and then I divide them into teams or pairs and make them create their own dialog inspired by the original situation. Recently I've acted as a car salesman who was trying to sell my students cars and they were coming to me with their various requirements. It gives them an opportunity to speak with each other in English more than they normally would get a chance to.

As we approach the end of the term it is becoming more and more difficult to teach full classes. So when I'm forced to teach a 2-hour class at 7pm to 9pm and I don't have a full class, not the happiest time for yours truly.

But as the end approaches so does my vacation!!!

BTW. Because I probably will not have a chance to say it... Happy New Year (a few days early)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmakwanzakah update

I hope you've all had a merry christmakwanzakah. I've been dealing with terrible internet here so this is the first chance I've gotten to make contact. I was able to have a semi-good christmas; we had a foreign professors christmas dinner including chicken, mash potatoes and lamb curry (quite the ecclectic pairing.) I lucked out on the night of Christmas, they showed Love Actually, in English for a change. It got me thinking about my favorite Christmas movies. So in no particular order, here is my Top 10 Favorite Holiday Movies

  1. Die Hard
  2. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
  3. Love Actually
  4. A Christmas Story
  5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  6. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
  7. Babes in Toyland (The old school Lauriel and Hardy movie)
  8. A Charlie Brown Christmas
  9. The Santa Clause
  10. Die Hard 2: Die Harder
  • (Honorable Mentions) Bad Santa and Trapped in Paradise
So we're inching closer and closer to the new year... and a new decade as well. How shall I be ringing in the new year in China... Well, you'll just have to wait and see. 

Oh BTW (and Spoiler Alert),,, I may be coming home soon... more on that later...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Have a Chinese Cell Phone Number

So I finally got a phone while I was here in China. The total cost for a Sim card and a crappy phone I ended up paying 740元. To put this into perspective, I have in all spent 600on a of my food over the past month and a half. It's only about 100 dollars. Now the mission is to get a nicer phone, I'm thinking Blackberry. So anybody out there with any last minute gift ideas...

I love how crappy cell phones are advertised as having great features. The cheapo phone I got is this little Nokia without a camera or anything like Interwebs. It's great features are that it has an English dictionary (ooo ahh!!!)  and a Flashlight on the tip of it... Which is so nice, one dim LED lightbulb in the tip of a phone smaller than the iPod Mini... 

I was toying with the idea of releasing my phone's number but I thought better of it after I spoke with my parents. I talked with my parents for over an hour or so and the used up all of my international minutes... So we'll just have to wait till I can get a laptop and Skype.

All for now... The plan for Christmas is I'm going to go to a foreign teacher's potluck dinner. I'm not sure about new years but I think I might go to Shanghai? Maybe, stay tuned...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Things I Haven't Been Able to Talk About Since I've Been in China

Here's just some of things I've needed to rant about since I've been in China.

  • Once again My eyes are onslaughted with beautiful babies with split-pants pissing in public. Watching that is about as bad as watching a dog drop a big steaming crap. I understand the functionality of spilt-pants, easily accessible for the weeniest of weewees and vajayjays. But seriously do you have to let them do that in public? And in the storm-drain for crying out loud.

  • There is a guy that works the front desk at my office who must have the worst sinuses I have ever encountered. His mouth seems to be locked in an eternal pre-loogie death hack. Everytime he passes my class he makes this awful guttural sound that makes me want to shit my pants with laughter and vomit at the same time... The question is which of us is actually going to vomit first.

  • Life is terrible without Internet porn. I love the freedom to look at all kinds of smut on the web. Not saying I'm watching it, but it's like a security blanket. I rest better at night and have peace of mind in the daytime because I know it will always be there. But with this Great Firewall of China porn and anything somewhat illicit is blocked. I'll tell you what it's like; it's like a trapeze artist doing a crazy midair flip without the safety of a net below him.

  • Now I have many nerdy tendencies, but since I have come close to ghetto black man rage on some people:
    • Anybody who gives me the stink eye (I hate mean mugging.) Specifically the guys who continue to stare at me even as they pedal their bikes ahead of me. I just wish one time that they would crash into somebody and get the crap beaten out of them. I am not a lion and this is not a zoo.
    • There is no sense of queue... not at the bus or at the local MickeyD's. People just boguard and crowd and get in the way. Now I'm a big guy and I have had to fight the temptation to push the little industrious fellows aside, but I'm getting there. But there's nothing more satisfying than successfully boxing out that random guy who tries to cut in line for that last good seat on the shuttle bus.
    • Seriously guy, personal bubble.
    • And another thing, hygiene. That's all I have to say on that one.

God it felt good to get that out.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Worst Student I Have Ever Encountered

So a few days ago I ran into what may have been the worst student ever. He was like an amalgamation of every 80's high school scalawag cliche there was. He was loud when he wasn't supposed to be talking and interrupted me on a couple of times over the 3 classes I had with him. But most recently he went above and beyond his standard douchebaggery. So far so that the story needs telling.

So let's get an image of this guy. First off, he's Chinese... who'da thunk right? Second he's got to be in his 40's, he's lost about 2/3 of his hair and has entered the combover phase. He dresses like he could be Mr. Rogers or Gilligan. And the capper is he wears a leather carryall with a strap. HE WEARS A PURSE!!!!

Anyways, so he comes into my afternoon class on the Source of Life. The two hour class covers a myriad of personal and philosophical topics like Intelligent Design vs Evolution, The moment of human life in infancy, and the meaning of life... all thought-provoking questions that were getting a good amount of discussion, except for him. His lips could have been spot-welded shut all class until the moment when I said I believed in both God and the Big Bang. He made one of those sounds with his lips and teeth that made me what to jump over the table and drop bombs about his forehead.

Well, at one point I divided the class for in depth discussion on a topic, and when I went to see his group he was nowhere to be seen. So I went into the little boys room for a wee and there he was in a stall smoking a cigarette. It pissed me off, this isn't Fast Times at Ridgemont High (If it was I would totally be Spicoli.) But I let it go until I brought the groups back together and then to my complete lack of surprise he didn't come back with his group. He was just wistfully wandering the halls outside of my class. I was listening to my student with one ear as I focused all my energy on mugging him.

I got to believe he was the worst student this side of Lean on Me. (Yah smoke crack don't yah!?) 

If I can't whip him into shape I'm calling Morgan Freeman.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Top 10 Movies of 2009

I got to see a lot of movies this year, and eventhough I'm doing this from China and will miss some of the late additions to the year, like Sherlock Holmes and Avatar, I'm pretty confident in my list. Note: I didn't get to see District 9 or Precious before I left so they're off the list.

Top 10 Movies of 2009
  1. Inglourious Basterds

  2. Star Trek

  3. Red Cliff

  4. The Hangover

  5. In The Loop

  6. Zombieland

  7. Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut

  8. The Boat That Rocked (Pirate Radio)

  9. 2012

  10. Drag Me to Hell
Top 9 Upcoming Movies of 2010
  1. Iron Man 2

  2. Shutter Island

  3. Kick-Ass

  4. Inception

  5. The Expendables

  6. Jonah Hex

  7. The A-Team

  8. Machete

  9. The Book of Eli

Friday, December 11, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

So here is the tale of how I made it to China...

It's quite simple really. After graduation and summer classes I moved back home with my parents while I searched for a job. I signed for for websites like Careerbuilder and but got nothing. Somewhere around the end of May I sent my resume to The University of Science and Technology of China who was looking for an English Teacher to help facilitate English conversation in Graduate students. I sent off my resume and heard nothing from them throughout the summer. Come the fall I could not find a job for family reasons. My mother had surgery done in August to improve the circulation in her leg as a result of living with diabetes for most of her life. After she came home I basically acted as her nurse by proxy. I gave her her pills and meals and helped to move around. That didn't help me in the job department.

So comes the beginning of November and I get a call from some guy in Philly. He asks me if I would be interested in working at a school in China... The same school I applied to half-a-year earlier. They desperately needed a teacher to come and finish out the semester. It would require me to leave immediately. So as a result all of my plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas were cancelled. My brother was going to come in from California and that would be the first time I would see him since May; he left for Cali two days before my Graduation. They dickered around with me for two weeks about when I would leave and how I'd get there. Tickets to and from China are expensive and the visa costs 160 skins... After getting incredibly frustrated with them I told them unless they buy my ticket and fly my out there I would not be going.

So here I am... Next time I'll describe what it is I actually do.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Live From China

I am coming to you live from Hefei, China... It's 6:15 in the Pm on Wednesday, for you in the states it's still the am... Moving on

Seeing as how blogging from the Red State has become increasingly difficult to do I'm forced to have to lump alot of things together... Many of the things I've been experiencing since I've returned to China I have been talking about through emails... I'm going to be uploading them whenever I get the chance.

Here's one from Nov. 16th titled I'm alive... somewhat:

Greetings from the opposite end of the world. I've been in the Shanghai Terminal now for a couple of hours and found free interwebs so i thought I'd let you know I'm alright. I'm waiting for my final flight from Shanghai to Hefei which is at 9pm my time, 8 am your time. I got into Shanghai around 4pm... So here's a top gear top tip, if you have to have a layover of more than 4 hours... get a map, drop off your luggage and go do something. Hindsight's twenty-twenty. I sat next to the most aggravating man from Mexico. When EVERYONE on the plane wanted to sleep, including me, he kept opening the window to look outside (it's Russia what's there to see but snow.) I also was asked by the most antsy Chinese man I've ever met to change seats on the plane with him, because he wanted to use the jack in my seat to charge his computer when in actuality he was pissed because the volume on his in-flight enternainment was busted. Sucks to be you sir, tough noogies.

Overall this trip was fraught with perilous layover, something to keep in mind for the next trip.

Once I get there and go through the meet and greet with the masses of school people I am crashing. I'm running on fumes. I'll try to talk to you as soon as I can get to another computer or a phone.

Here's something I just found out that may be of some consequence to my fragile little state here, NO TWITTER, NO FACEBOOK, and NO accessing my own webblog. If I wanted to give everything up interwebswise I would have applied to be a professor in Tibet.

Hopefully I'll get without them... for two months.

Just had my first feel[meal]... Some roasted pork in a General Tso'sesque sauce. I got a little on my shirt which made me made. I survived O'Scare and a 14 hour flight clean as a whistle and now I get something on it. Don't worry that's why God created Tide to Go. I board my plane soon.Talk to you all very soon


Thanks to craftiness and technosavvy I have been able to circumvent a few of those things. I can now see faceybook but I'm like a ghost; I can't make comments or check incoming messages. I've got twitter as a result of some "Great Firewall of China" underminings and have minimal access to the blog... thank giddyod for copy-paste.

Here's another email from the 19th titled Hello Hello

Hello all. So I'm guessing you guys did not see my email... I sent it during the middle of the night... Check your emails. More often than not I will be sending them from 8pm to 7am your time. Well, I'm alive! Yay. I've hunkered down and am starting work today. My topics for today are Dealing with stress and talking about sports... As much as I like to spin yarns about myself I have to try my best to get them all talking about sports... could be fun

So I've had a chance to scope out the surrounding area. There are a crap ton of computer stores around... Including an Apple store which is hilarious. I walked about ten minutes north of my apartment and found a KFC and a MickeyD's. If you had to choose between a Chinese KFC and a McDonalds I'd suggest a MickeyD's (how hard is it to screw up an order for a big mac?)

So I saw that the Colts beat the Pats by 1 point and at the last minute to boot, and what's this I'm hearing about Jenson Button going to Mclaren?

It has been an interesting couple of days. For the most part I've been sleeping five hours at a time, falling asleep at 8pm and waking up around 1 and watching late night American movies with Chinese subtitles (last night or should I say this morning I watched The Glimmer Man w/ Keenan Ivory Wayans and Seagal.) The problem is when it gets dark and there's nothing on TV in English except Asian news I get incredibly sleepy. Something I have to work on by Friday, I teach bright and early at 8:30 on Friday.

Well, I try to send you either some pictures or a video of what the apartment looks like soon, when you see it you'll understand why they're tearing it down soon. Well, off to catch up on some missed TV watchings before my first class of the day. Laters

Snack for the day: Squid Jerky

Maybe next time I can blog I'll actually explain How I got to China