Wednesday, August 24, 2005

About time!

Canada has a love-hate relationship with the US. One of the more recent reasons to dislike the US: softwood lumber. We might finally take some action.

The pictures from Zhaojue arrived in the mail today. Thanks Dan! I don't have time these days to blog (still working the 72 hour weeks), but here's something to keep you guys entertained. :)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Oh... your notebook?

Hey guys, where's my notebook?

Your notebook?

Yeah, it's missing.

Uh, dunno.

/later to others

Hey guys, where's my notebook?

Your notebook?

Yeah, I can't find it.

Uh, not sure.

/at lunch, after finding the notebook

Oh, you were talking about your laptop!!!

What did you think I was talking about?

Your notebook!


So went my first day back at work. It's crazy these days. We're working 72 hour weeks, I feel too tired to do anything. I have a ton of e-mails I'm supposed to answer, but they will honestly have to wait. I can't do anything right now. Good night.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Late plane

So I'm in Shanghai right now, but our plane is delayed for several hours. So for the meantime, the airline is putting us up at a hotel. But it sucks because we have to stay in our rooms, they could call us to get on a bus for the airport any moment. I mean, how many times do I get to visit Shanghai? :p

While in Chengdu, I met a friend of a friend of mine that works for a really cool semiconductor company. Chee, wow. I might consider it later in life.

I chickened out on the rabbit head. They looked too much like rat heads and nobody else wanted to try. Next time. :)

Things that I'll miss:
  • Not needing to calculate tax and tip for whatever I buy.
  • The cheapness
  • The scenery
  • The people
Things that I won't miss:
  • Public squat toilets that don't have any sort of paper dispenser
I can't remember what else to write. Chengdu seems like any other city in NA. Zhaojue has this strip in the city that is based on a similar larger strip in Xichang. And Xichang's strip is based on a similar bigger strip in Chengdu. And Chengdu's is based on... ? Beijing? Shanghai? Hong Kong? Who knows. Will Zhaojue ever grow to a stage where people aren't just using the traffic lines and signs, but they have to install traffic lights as well? Will it ever be more than nice little mountain town? Time will tell. But I like the way it is right now too.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Hey, hey, good-bye

So I just finished writing up all my curriculum for my class, had been doing it the last few days. The YC wanted an outline of curriculum for future camps and wanted to use ours as a template. 19 pages, half of them appendices. I think I had the longest curriculum out of all the teachers. @@ Mind you, I also had the oldest class. :p

So tomorrow morning we are going to Xichang and then on a plane off to Chengdu. We'll be staying in Chengdu three days with our TAs. The soccer team will stay here, of course, to finish their camp. I will miss the BBQ stands here in Zhaojue, they are so fantastic.

A fly got scorched a couple of weeks ago. I was reminded of it yesterday when at a restaurant, as our host was explaining why they put candles on the table. It's to ward off the flies, they don't like they smell or the heat (I forget which). So a fly ventured near and got singed. Well, a couple of weeks ago, there was another fly and it dived straight through the candle's flame. Then it fell to the table and just lay there twitching. Ouch....

If you'll excuse me, I have a Monopoly game to try to dominate. ;)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Torches, torches, torches

Uh, this would be banned in Canada. Maybe. Maybe not?

The Torch Festival is like a big vacation time here. Last night, we checked out some of the festivities by seeing a Yi fashion show and then went to light some torches. For the fashion show, we got to sit right behind the judges! Oh yeah! :D Well, except, that the county leaders showed up and took our spots. So we sat behind them. Which wouldn't have been so bad except for all the cigs they smoked. But it was still very cool.

So the Torch Festival. You get these big bundles of sticks that are taller than I am and then light them up. Then you carry and wave them around. Everyone does this, even the 3-year-olds. It's like Pyro City. @@ We had to dodge so many torches. But it was cool. Then they made these huge bonfires and everyone danced around them. The town's target was to have 1,000 people out.

You can tell that things are changing in the town. For example, we now have lines and crosswalks on the streets, as well as street signs; they were painted while we were in Xichang. Mind you, nobody uses the crosswalks here. And very few drivers stay in their lanes. You can't really do that when there are people who fill the street everywhere. You know that old joke that Chinese are the worst drivers ever? After staying here and seeing our drivers in action (especially on the mountain roads), I'd have to disagree. Chinese may be the worst drivers ever if your standard is whether people drive according to the law. But in terms of pure skill the average driver here would outclass any North American driver. Well, except for maybe New York cabbies.

I finally figured out why my towels always smell so bad. It's because the water smells bad. Why'd it take me so long to figure out? And why is it that I'm the only one that seems to have this problem?

Things that we're asking daddy to help with.

The sponsored students here have graduated their programs and are now awaiting acceptance into university for med school. Hoping they all get accepted. But then after they get accepted, the org has to figure out which students to sponsor for med school. Those students who don't receive sponsorship must somehow raise their own funds. Tuition costs 20,000 kuai per year, if I heard right. That's a ton of money here. Daddy needs to pull through.

The YC was created to help the youth problem in the city. There's surprisingly little violent crime, but there is a d-trade. As well, kids here can start to smoke cigs from when they're as young as five. The smoking rate obviously goes up as the age goes up. The soccer guys experienced an example of youth issues in the city on the last day before the Torch Festival started. An 11-year-old was upset that his team lost a soccer game and so him and his friends started beating up a kid from the other team. When the soccer TA walked up to them, they all dispersed and ran away and the coaches thought they were just playing a game. But the next day (last before the Torch Festival), the same kids were making trouble, so they were sent home early. Then the troublemaker says to the same victim, "Hey, remember, we promised to fight you!" Then they go and sit down at the gate and wait for the day to be over. The coaches look at each other and wonder what's going on. So the other kids explain, say that the troublemaker is always like that at school whenever he loses at anything, and the coaches go get Camp Lady. As they all approach the group at the gate, the kids bolt. Coaches run after them and search all around the city. Finally, they find the kids swimming in their birthday suits in the local river. Chee, not a good situation if you're trying to avoid someone. ;) So they see the coaches and start putting their clothes back on and are about to bolt again. Fortunately, the soccer TA had circled around and caught them in a pincer, Splinter Cell style. Hehe. They brought the kids back to the YC and had a long talk.

Many of the kids here come from broken families, the fathers are in jail, or the parents are never home, leaving the kids to go do whatever, etc, etc. The result is we have many kids in the town who have no good role models to shape their behaviour. It's tough to see how we can build character and such in such a short amount of time. But amazing things happen. :) The soccer camp hasn't ended yet and will continue on Thursday, after the Torch Festival finishes. Ask for help for these kids. Also, the coaches are organizing a tournament. We are hoping it will go well.

We saw some horses race and some bulls fight each other today. A lot of things seem to happen here during the festival.

Chinese buns stuffed with meat: 0.5 kuai. :D

We can't read the shop signs here, so we've given all our favourite restaurants nicknames. There's the fried rice place, which we go to the most often, because it's closest, and the owners are friendly. There's the dumpling place, which is right next door. There's the noodle place, which serves a great noodle with bacon bowl. And there's the meatball place, which makes these great meatballs covered in egg.

Heard about the pigs here. But we're safe, don't worry. You're only in danger if you're working with pigs, cutting them up, and you have open wounds. We eat them cooked well done, so we're pretty safe. Except for the girls. People are for some reason always gutting and chopping up pigs right in the alley where their front door is. There's always pig blood on the ground there. Mind you, yesterday, they graduated. ;) I saw cow horns on the ground.

A local is really happy because her friend finally got some fruit. Asking daddy to help this new person. Yeah, it's really difficult for short-term tent people to get involved in that kind of stuff here. I think if you want to do more than quick sowing and watering, you need to be here more long-term for sure.

There's a Chinese lady here from the UK who was brought in to advise ZJ how the town can create tourism products and services. The area doesn't really have any natural resources in large quantities, so they're really trying to push their culture and stuff. So for example, the Yi fashion show was a big contest to get people to create Yi products that can be marketed in other parts of the world; she was a judge at that fashion show. Apparently, Germany is very into Yi for some reason. So is another Asian country, which we won't mention because relations are not optimal. She is looking for local input as to what the locals would want. Ask daddy to help her.

Good news. The LT who fractured her leg doesn't need surgery. So say the doctors in the other country we won't mention. But however, her estimated recovery time has been changed from two months to four months. She's a trooper, especially at her age. Keep her in your thoughts.

You use my credit cards, you pay the bills, pancake. You might as well use your own cash.