I live in China. China used to be a reviled country in much of the world. Today I think it’s just reviled somewhat because I don’t really believe people care. Most people don’t care about mass genocide going on in some place in Africa. I find it easier to understand how the world stood by and permitted the Holocaust.

I think some people still hate China. I think prejudice is just a normal part of many people’s makeup. And if we are not all out and out prejudiced against someone or something, we let little things slip that are not overt signs of prejudice, but are indicators of it.

“Some of my best friends are Jewish”. Many of use the “exception rule” to show that we are not prejudiced. “Jews are moneygrubbers BUT some of my best friends are Jewish”. See, not prejudiced. What’s my point and do I even have one? Will some people accuse me of stupidity because of what I say? It’s possible but I don’t give a flying fuck. Even if it’s not flying, I still don’t give a fuck.
If I rant about something I tend to use generalizations. That is stupid. I never thought it was stupid but a lot of people don’t always understand that I don’t mean everyone. Americans elected Trump President of the U.S. and he’s a moron and so are the people who supported him. Does this mean that all Americans are morons? No. I assumed that people know I’m just referring to those who voted for him or supported him are morons. I know not everyone supported him. I do not mean that all Americans are morons. If we just review the popular vote it would seem that the majority of Americans, regardless of who won the election, are not morons. Is the American system of determining a winner of an election stupid? Yes, I think so. I think if Candidate 1 gets 1,000 votes and Candidate 2 gets 1,200 votes, then Candidate 2 should be the winner. It works like that in most countries. However, that’s not how it’s done in the U.S. In the supposed leader of freedom and democracy in the world (except if you’re black or Muslim), then the Candidate with fewer votes can become President. Hence we have Donald Trump and had George W. Bush. And that’s just within the last 20 years. There was a reason for the Electoral College and the method of electing a President that was probably quite valid 240 years ago. The 2nd Amendment (the one about being allowed to carry a gun to a baseball game) was valid when it became an amendment because of the times and the war to leave Britain but times change. As times change, then laws need to change.

My students have accused me of hating China at times. I might say something in China is “dumb”, so that means I hate China. I don’t hate China and these are kids whose English is not their first language, so I’ve modified my mini-rants in class. I don’t say “dumb” even though something might be dumb. I say “different”. It gets me off the hook and no one can think I hate China if I say “different”. Of course I have been living here for most of the time since 2011 so I don’t think I would live in a country I hate because I’m lucky and I have a choice about where I live.

So I’m still here. The school I work at this year is the “North China Electrical Power University” in Baoding. They also have a Beijing campus. The name is a mouthful and when doing a little research on this place, I saw it ranked as the 91st best University in the country. For a country with thousands of Universities, that’s pretty good. After last year my high school days are over. I don’t get paid enough to be annoyed. This school pays crappy but the students are reasonably pleasant with decent manners. It’s the best school I’ve worked at. You’re left alone to teach what you want because no one could be bothered to design a school curriculum for English. So I do my thing, which isn’t so much teaching English as displaying better ways to behave, letting kids use the washroom without asking me if they can go, ken showing them that thinking is a good idea instead of memorizing (a Chinese specialty), learning how to ask questions, and giving them room to use their brains if they want to. I don’t tell them every little thing to do. I want them to use their own minds. It works with some, and others just don’t give a damn. If a student of mine doesn’t care to put in any effort, that’s fine with me. I tell them I’m not their mother or their father and I don’t want to be. The ones that aren’t that interested stay quiet and don’t bother their classmates, which is fine and a new experience for me.

How you get into a certain college here is different from the Western world. I am only talking about public schools here because when it comes to private schools, it’s money that wins that game. Every student at the end of high school takes a HUGE exam. Think of the SAT in the U.S. but multiply it by 10,000. This exam determines much of the rest of your life. Depending on your score determines which University (if any) you can go to. There are dummy schools and there are first-rate schools. The school I work at is for people who excel in the sciences and would probably make good Engineers. They get the best grades to get here. Et tThere are also other majors here. You can be an English major but you won’t have scored as well as the ones accepted as Engineering majors. There are “Translation” majors, which is lower than being an English major. (I think being a translator is very hard but they just don’t know where to throw these people.) You can be an accounting major but your high school finishing exam will have a lower score then the Engineering people. There is no interview to attend. There is no exam to write about how brilliant you are, and no one cares that you volunteered to help the handicapped (or whatever). It’s this exam and as we all know, some of us aren’t good at exams. It’s not the best way but there are 1½ billion people in this country so perfection is not an option.

I don’t sleep so well anymore. If I make it to 4AM I’m happy. I pee and shower, test my blood sugar, take my pills, and have a little breakfast. I go on the computer to have a look at my online subscription to the NY Times. Now I get depressed. Things seem to be bad all over the world, and they seem to have never been worse in the U.S. in my lifetime. Maybe they have been but I don’t recollect it. I don’t understand wanting to get rid of “Obamacare” when you have no plan to replace it. I don’t understand why you would vote against a law that would help people because the other party suggested it. I don’t get it. Now the President has taken away some of the provisions of the already lousy health care in the country and replaced it with something worse. Why are there so many people who want others to suffer? The American health care system is disgusting. There seems to be no “care” in health care. Is it greed? “I don’t want to pay higher taxes so some disgusting black guy can have decent health coverage”. I think I understand greed. You don’t have to love your neighbor. But it seems like the rich want the poor to suffer. I don’t get it. I don’t understand the police killing unarmed people who are usually black. What? Is that unarmed black guy you just pulled over going to magically pull a gun out of his ass? I was raised to respect the police. No one is perfect but can’t they recognize the psychos when they apply?

I get depressed every morning by the state of the world, especially the U.S. that I always loved. I have to wait until 2020 and hope things get better then. You can’t get rid of Trump because there is a long line of idiots who can succeed him led by that poor excuse of a human being named Mike Pence. When the only thing you have going for you is that you look the part, then there is a big problem.

The Chinese government is no picnic. There is corruption although Shujie tells me there is no corruption since Xi Jin Ping took over. We don’t talk politics because it’s just an argument. The Chinese are the weirdest people I’ve ever met. Some of them are just rude and ignorant pigs while others are the finest people I’ve ever met in my life. It is confusing for a simpleton such as myself.
So I’m still here. I’m still standing, but barely. Life is basically boring because it might sound exotic living in China, but when you live someplace I believe it just becomes the new normal. I still get grouchy. People still annoy me but I try to be nice and tolerant. I like my students, which is a good thing. There have always been some students to hate but this year I don’t have any students to hate. I hate not having anyone to hate. Shujie is happy because this is her home town and she never really wanted to live here before, now she is ready and enjoying it. She likes seeing her son fairly regularly and he phones her every day. She teaches a little at a training school (a school that students go to after school so they can learn more. I can’t walk far because my legs hurt too much. I think my heart is working because I’m sitting here typing this. We have an apartment in a hotel here on campus. It’s small but it’s clean and fine. I show a movie weekly to students who care to show up. I have students that we just sit and talk on Thursday afternoons. It’s not rock and roll heaven, but it’s not hell either.

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I know, I know, it’s been a while. Sometimes I think I’ll do it and then the feeling disappears. However, as you can see, I am making a post. We leave Nanchang in 4 days for Toronto and I can’t wait to get out of here. Shujie told me I always say, “this is the worst year ever”, but I don’t agree. However, THIS IS THE WORST YEAR EVER!

How bad was it? I took early retirement. Not really but I finished at the school the end of April. They are such idiots. There are 3 grades, which are 10, 11, and 12. The grade 10’s went to the U.S. the end of April for 6 weeks to go to a school there and learn English. They were supposed to go to California (cool!), but of course that changed. Where did the lucky ducks go? Mansfield, Ohio. I have nothing against Mansfield and in fact I don’t think I’ve ever been there, but I think they could have done better. So that’s 1/3 of the students missing. They knew this when they hired all their teachers but naturally, being China, they had no plan for it.

The Grade 12’s finished the end of April. So now 2/3 of the students are gone. You have all these teachers you are paying and not enough classes for them to teach. However, it’s not my problem and not my money. I didn’t like the Grade 11’s enough to stick around. Shujie was sick of most of the students. So we offered to leave the end of April and take May’s salary (which meant only giving up June’s salary) and our plane fare money.

Doesn’t anyone here plan in advance? The answer is very few people. If I ask Shujie to book something a few days in advance, she tells me it’s too early. You should book one or two days in advance, or just show up. I still haven’t adjusted to that.

I didn’t really like most of the students. There were a few I really liked but not enough for me to have warm feelings about this place. I decided to graduate from High School so I’m off to University the 22nd of August. It is (according to rankings somewhere), the 87th best University in China. That is good as there are over 10,000 Universities and Colleges in China. It is hard to get exact numbers. There are over 20 million students in these schools. It has a world ranking somewhere but it depends on who ranks it. What it comes down to is it sounds like a serious place.

Every high school student in China takes a standard test before finishing high school. Depending on your score, you know where you can apply. Don’t apply to Beijing University unless you aced the test. So in theory, no dummies allowed.
Of course my experience tells me to expect nothing. Maybe I’ll get a nice surprise. I will be teaching some form of English (to be decided later). Never teach American History in a Chinese High School. I won’t make that mistake again. It sounds promising but that means nothing. Wait and see.
Shujie is developing an English course. She will start by trying to get students to tutor. I am not involved. Will she succeed? Don’t ask me because what do I know?

The name of the University is North China Electric Power University. It has 2 campuses. One is in Beijing and the other is in Shujie’s hometown of Baoding. We are going back to Baoding where Shujie has family and friends. It will be nice for her. We will be living on campus, which we don’t mind because you can sometimes hang out with some nice kids. The big negative with all this (and isn’t there always a big negative), is that Universities pay terrible. They figure because they have no office hours and not a lot of teaching hours (but a lot of high schools are the same as that), they don’t have to pay much. I will be earning about $1,000 US dollars a month. The lower the grade, the higher the pay. This is a weird place but I’m sure I mentioned that before. If I were in North America teaching at a University I’d be doing okay. However, my peace of mind matters to me, so it’s off to University I go.

We hope to visit New York City and my eldest daughter this summer as well as Philadelphia where I have a cousin who has kindly offered to put us up. We will be returning to China on July 26 and school starts August 22. The positive is they reimburse you for your plane fare here after one month at the school, and they buy your ticket home at the end of the year. Some schools are getting terrible with airfare reimbursements. As the cost of a flight gets higher, what you get here gets smaller.

We will be able to go to my Aunt’s 80th birthday party and I’m really excited about that. She was my first babysitter. We will go and see our nephew Steven (Chinese nephew) graduate from McMaster University. Shujie’s brother and sister-in-law will be here for that. It will be nice for Steven having family watching.

So where are my political comments? I hate to disappoint those who choose to be offended. I am not an American but I recognize and respect the United States place in the world. Every day I have a minute or two of fear worrying about what that moron will do or say. He’s an idiot and that’s fine. But what’s with all these people who follow him? I think the follower’s are worse than the big idiot. And please, don’t talk about impeachment. Pence would be quieter, but no brighter. I’ve heard about Americans who still say, “I know he’s lying but I don’t care”. It’s beyond my comprehension how you can be satisfied with an inferior product. If you bought a can of soup and it was bad, you’d complain and return it. You get a bad President and some people can just ignore that. It is beyond my area of comprehension. And that’s all I can say because all the moaning in the world won’t change anything and there is no one to replace Bozo with.

So that’s it. I will return sometime and I hope if you are reading this, you’re well and fine and all that. YEAH, ESCAPING CHINA.

I last posted on January 29th. I ended offending 2 people so badly that one decided I was such a horrible person that they didn’t with to talk to me anymore. The other was my cousin who flew off the deep end and said a lot of horrible things.

I was commenting on the disastrous American election and I said the Americans elected that bozo, Donald Trump. They must do things different in the U.S.A. In Canada, Justin Trudeau was elected Prime Minister. Even if you didn’t vote for him, he is who the country voted for. In the U.S. it seems people want to be segregated. So, if I say Trump was elected, I should list the people that voted for him. I should name the millions that voted for him and absolve the ones that didn’t vote for him. It sounds weird to me.

I’m told that the majority of people voted for Hilary and I don’t doubt that. But in the U.S. you use the Electoral College and I have no idea why they don’t just trash that. I had people write me about problems in China so I had no right to comment on the U.S. Yes, there are problems in China. What does that have to do with the price of eggs in Peoria?

When you say a country has elected a politician I always thought it was understood by the rules of the election, that the majority (however that is figured out), chose the winner. If you supported the losing team, you are not absolved and you are not all of a sudden a non-American. You can be angry and upset but you can’t decide that regarding the election you are not an American.
The world is a weird place. The few readers I get mostly come from Facebook because if they are interested in reading what I write for whatever reason, if they don’t see it on Facebook, it doesn’t exist. I left Facebook after the last post because it got ugly. I will re-activate myself for a bit and see how it goes.

I read an article in the paper a few days ago and some bozo from Ohio (I think) said he knows Donald Trump is a liar but he doesn’t care. He makes things interesting. So you have some Americans who care so little about their country that they support a healot just who will entertain them. Who’s next, Jerry Lewis?

China goes on. I’m looking for a position for next year. Once you’re over 60 it gets a little harder. I’ve had a few interviews, I’ve been rejected a few times, and I’m waiting to hear back on others. I am getting a little tired of the teaching game because this year has been the worst. The school has idiot students (not all, but most), they don’t care about their students, and the operation is poorly run.

We found a good rib place here. It’s a European American chain. The means it’s European copying the American style. The ribs are good, the Onion Rings are fantastic, and they even have Bloody Mary’s.

We are leaving Nanchang soon (I hope). This was not the finest year but you take a chance when you accept a job, just like the school takes a chance on you. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose and sometimes the people you thought were friends and allowed those they know to have their own opinions doesn’t always work out.

So let’s try this again. I can leave if it is so desired or if people get on my nerves. I’m just trying to get along. I’m entitled to my own opinions. I believe others are entitled to their own opinions. (Adolf Hitler wasn’t).
The world is made up of many different flavours. We can’t always all agree, but we can get along. At least, that’s what I believe. And if I say something that offends you, I assure you it wasn’t meant to. I just look at things a little different than you do.

I know, I know, it’s been a long time since I posted. Does anyone really care beyond the few people I entertain? No. Should more people read what I write? Maybe, I think I can be humorous and entertaining. My life is a little different from yours and I’ve been living outside Canada for 8 years. I’ve spent most of that time teaching in China (University, High School, Middle School) and a year in Oman where perhaps I was the only Jew in the country. They say variety is the spice of life and there is some truth to that. Some people think it must be hard to live in a foreign culture and almost impossible to get along, but it isn’t. You adjust. You learn. Sometimes you learn some really good and useful things, and sometimes you think you are living in a basket of shit.

So what has prompted me to finally come out of my shell and write something? To be honest with you (and why wouldn’t I), I’ve always been an admirer of the United States. When people would talk it down, I would stand up for it. I thought on the whole it was a good country with good morals. It wasn’t perfect because nothing is, but it was one of the best countries in the world.

Times change. All Germans from 1933-1945 were not Nazi’s. There were some wonderful Germans who fought quietly to do the right thing. However, in recent history the Germans of the Nazi era were the worst and most evil humans (if I can say “human”) in the world. After fighting it off for a while I am not pleased to announce my choice for the 2nd worst race since the year 1900. The winner (or loser) is the United States. I’ve defended them, admired them, respected them and all that but those days are gone. The Americans are an evil race.

I know many of you are saying, “who? Not me!” but just because you didn’t vote for Trump and Co. or didn’t put up a lawn sign doesn’t absolve you from your guilt. It’s your country and although there are a lot of crazies everywhere in the world, this time all Americans must take the blame. You didn’t stop this! Today I see the NY Times and all these people who waited years to come to the “greatest country on earth”, were turned away. What’s with this alt-right? Where I come from it’s called lies. How can there be so many stupid people living in one place without one iota of generosity or grace? It’s nice to be a Canadian and hear about Syrian refugees being let into Canada. Gee, they haven’t done any harm yet.

Who was the worst terrorist in the history of the U.S.? We can’t say Bin Laden because he wasn’t American. Remember Timothy McVeigh? How do you keep a Timothy McVeigh out of the U.S.? You can’t, he’s a born and bred American. There are some evil people everywhere in the world and bad things do happen all the time, but to paint a whole country as “Islamic Terrorists” is insane. What happened to, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”? The Americans let it go. The land of the free is no longer a true statement. The land of the bigoted and ignorant is more close to the target. I know many of you say, “wait, that’s not me”, but look at your country. Look what it represents today? Look at what’s happening. It’s depressing and breaks my heart. I know some of you are good people, but you let this happen. You thought, “It can’t happen here” (read the book), but it can and did. The U.S. today is worse than any of those crazy Mid-East countries because we all knew they were crazy. However, we didn’t know that Americans were evil.

Everyone thought it was a big joke when Trump ran for President but look who’s laughing now. If George Bush the elder weren’t in the hospital would he have gone to the inauguration?   I like to think he would not have. I know you are supposed to go if you are a previous President but does that mean that Bill Clinton would go to the inauguration of Adolf Hitler? When is enough, enough? Sometimes it is not right to follow customs. Customs are nice, but you have to draw a line. You have to stand up and fight against the evil that is overtaking your country. It’s only been one week and I’m sure it will get worse. Spend your money on a wall with Mexico; after all it will end the drug problem, won’t it? No more rape, no more pillaging, just let it happen and it will be so.

When is the line crossed that make people stand up and do something? Can not some clever and caring people bring Trump down? It’s ridiculous to have to think like this, but this is what it has come to.

Where are those 3 million illegal immigrants who voted for Hillary Clinton? If we know that there are 3 million of them, why can’t they produce 100 of them? If you tell the same lie over and over and over, does it become truth? I guess the American answer to that is yes.

Go on your marches, dig up Phil Ochs to write some really clever songs, preach to the stupid to get into power and there you go. Welcome to the USA (version 2016). Just 8 years ago you had the miracle of a black man becoming President. Was there anything wrong with him? Really? No, not really. He wasn’t perfect and now his legacy is some incredibly stupid man who has found other incredibly stupid people to work for him. It’s embarrassing and you need to fix this. Now. No excuses. Don’t wait out the 4 years. I am sure that there are ways to fix this. And that doesn’t mean impeach Trump and get that moron Pence in charge.

All this depresses me. Obviously. But one lone Canadian living in China can’t fix your problems nor should I have to. You (Americans) made this mess and it’s up to you to fix the problem. Now. It just gets worse and worse. Why is 1984 the number one selling book today? Maybe you should read it.

As for life in China, I think I’m getting tired of it. I don’t like my job (still) and the city we life in is boring. The apartment is nice and I don’t mind the people I work with, but most of the students are useless and a lot of them are dummies. They hate history so I keep changing what I’m teaching. In an effort to be realistic, I’m teaching religion now. I think it’s important to have some idea of what religion is and since there really is no religion here and very few know what it is, I’m doing that. It’s okay with the school (I checked) and I will do mini-topics on things related to what they might experience if they make it out of China. I actually care and do want to be of use, so I have to figure it out since the school won’t.

A larger number of students seem to be more interested now, but still many aren’t. Are they stupid? I don’t get it. Was I this dumb at 17? Maybe. It’s not fun and we were supposed to turn in a curriculum at the end of the semester. I told them there would be no curriculum from me but I would be happy to send them my thoughts. So I did and I didn’t mince words. Then the head (or owner) or whatever of the school took Shujiie and I out for tea. We discussed things and he says that he agrees with me and perhaps there could be a job for Shujie and I communicating with the parents (at this school or in the province because he is a “big-shot”) and explaining how school and life works in the west (where they want their kids to study). Naturally we are interested but I highly doubt anything will become of this. He says he wants to get together again after the holidays (yes, it’s holidays now) and talk about it. We said sure but I doubt anything will happen. Everyone is a big shot and has great ideas, but when it comes time to do something then they are too busy.

So we are in Baoding visiting family. I am going back to Nanchang on Tuesday after 1 week here and Shujie will stay another week. I’m bored but I want her to have a good time and see the people she wants to see. It was a battle getting her to agree to stay. She thinks I will fall apart if she’s not here to take care of me. Crazy, but I guess it’s better than her hating me.

So I vented now. I’m glad to get it out. I’m sure it will build up again and I’m sure nothing good will happen. It’s so sad.

 

I admit I get confused at times. Back in the 1971 I loved the song “Ball of Confusion” by the Temptations. It’s now 45 years later and things have changed but not really gotten better. Am I getting old and grumpy, or just unhappy about how the world is such a bleeding mess.

I’ll stay off politics here because I’m either preaching to the converted, or trying to convince people too dumb to understand that they are promoting a racist, lying, cheating, pig. I can’t win. However, in one of my history classes one of my students called Donald Trump, “insane”. I fell in love.

School caries on but I believe I’m getting tired of the teaching game. I don’t know what to do. My skill set is either non-existent or out of date. It’s perplexing. The students don’t like American History (and most of them don’t like history). They have told me (and I appreciate the honesty) that they will only do the bare minimum to pass the course. So that is 55. I have one student whose English is terrible and understands very little. But every class he’s listening and trying. If I were grading just on ability, he’d be a sure failure. However, because he makes a futile effort, he will pass. How can you fail someone who sincerely tries?

We had a parents meeting with one of the classes last week. I told the parents not to punish their children based on what I say. I told them that 4 hours a night of homework is crazy and 1 hour would be better. I just said what I felt. This was a class of 7 where 3 are delightful and I would gladly execute the other 4. It was funny because I was the only speaker that no one had any comments or questions for. Why? My guess and I hope I’m right is that you can’t argue with someone who is telling you the truth.

I think I’d like to move to Austin. It’s a nice place with a lot of variety of things to do. However, I need a job. Help me if you can.

I went to the glasses store to look for new glasses yesterday. They have an optician on site (that’s how things work here) and she was a nice young woman. After my eye test I was looking for frames but Shujie had kept an old pair of my frames, which were still nice. However, I noticed a brand I’d never heard of.

helen-keller

Who in the hell would buy “Helen Keller” glasses? I’m holding out for the Stevie Wonder brand. I don’t get it. Helen Keller was brilliant and intelligent but she was known for being blind, not for her eyesight. I may have mentioned this before, but this is a strange place.

I wish I had more to say but other than burning up at American Politics and becoming disillusioned with teaching, I really have nothing to say. It’s a good thing I love to read and buy a lot of books. I still download films and occasionally even find some I’ve never seen before. I’ve seen so many movies.

I guess I should have saved money when I was younger so I could retire and complain about that. Working is probably better but I need a new challenge. I’m like old man river, I just keep rolling along..

 

I’m back. My last post was August 31, before school began, before there were any Presidential debates, and before the baseball season ended.

My condolences to Jan and her feeble Pussy-Cats (Tigers). Maybe next year.

We love our apartment. We don’t live at the school, but not far. It’s a 2-bedroom, brand new place. It’s clean and the area doesn’t seem filled with filthy people. It’s not far from school. I only have 10 hours a week (I guess they are respecting the old), and Shujie has 16. I teach American history to Grade 11 ad Grade 12. I think it’s the hardest course (outside of American government which Shujie has). A vast majority of these students know nothing about U.S. history (which is to be expected) but since they are going for an America high school diploma, they need it. So let’s have the Canadian teach American History and the Chinese teach American government. Don’t ask, it’s China.

I had a great textbook (The American Patriot) but it was too difficult for them. I am using U.S. History for Dummies that is not as bad as it sounds. I have very few good students. The majority of students don’t care, they don’t try, and they make no effort. It’s sad. I try to make it interesting but it’s not easy. I loved American history but here it’s so foreign to them. If you teach a subject there is usually some comparisons you can make (like math, science), but American history when vote has no meaning to several students makes it hard.

Shujie teaches American Politics, which is stupid, but no one wanted that job. So she tries to stay 1 day ahead of her students. She has to figure it out and then pass it along. Her job is not easy.

I gave my students an essay and it’s not easy to mark. You want to give them some slack because English is a 2nd language, but they are supposedly heading for University outside China, so you can’t give them too much slack. Many will go based on lies (they raise the grades the teachers give) but they will be back within 6 months. But you need money to go to this school and Chinese think money buys everything. Eventually they will learn it doesn’t.

They do all this American stuff because their high school diplomas will come from an American High School. Even if they want to go to University in Australia they need that American diploma. The students are basically stupid and lazy as if they think their family having money will give them whatever they want. It’s sad. I have a few students I really like and respect. I have a student who is at the lowest level in Grade 11 who would be the 2nd best in my Grade 12 class.

They tell me to mark as I want and I can do what I want but I think that’s because they will raise poor grades. It’s bad for business if you fail a bunch of students but since they don’t care, I will give the marks they feel they deserve. I cut them sasome slack on their use of English, but not too much. After all, they are heading West when they finish here,

We are on a one-week holiday here. We go back on Saturday because its really a 3-day holiday (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday) so they give them Thursday and Friday. However, we work Saturday and Sunday to make up for Thursday and Friday. I hate that but I have no say in the matter.

They are constantly letting off firecrackers and fireworks here. It can be noisy and annoying and though we live on the 20th floor, you can get a good whiff of the fireworks.

I will manage and I seem to get along with everyone (Chinese and foreigners alike). We have teachers from Serbia, Madagascar, Brazil, and some other places. If you run an International School, your teachers should be native English speakers, but the pay here sucks, the people aren’t exactly beating down the doors for jobs. You can dress as you choose (big plus for me) and you don’t have to be at school 9 hours a day. You can do your classes and if you have no appointments then you can leave. It’s not hell. I’ve been to worse.

I must admit I am getting a little tired of teaching. I thought doing American History would be great, but I didn’t realize they knew nothing. It’s not their fault but it is their fault if they don’t work hard. Life goes on and we manage as best we can.

The baseball playoffs started yesterday and I could watch it on the Internet. The American VP debate was yesterday and I watched that on the Internet at the same time. I loved the baseball and the American debate was about what you expect a VP debate to be. Because Pence isn’t Trump, he won, but it makes no difference. I actually expected to wake up and find he was fired for outshining his boss. How do you respect yourself when you can’t say what you think and have to buckle under to a knucklehead like Trump. I think after the Sunday debate we can pack our bags and go home. It’s a “town hall” setting so will he be looking people in the eye and telling them they are fat or stupid or idiots. America has gone to hell allowing Trump being the standard bearer for the Republicans. He lies, he denies the lies, and then he repeats the same lies. He tweets at 3AM that a Miss Universe (or America) was fat. I guess that’s more important than Nuclear War. I am so disappointed not in Trump (an idiot is an idiot) but those who follow that idiot are worse.

So I have my baseball playoffs (games are usually at night) and I am 12 hours ahead so I can watch them in the morning. Same as the debates. I watched the World Cup of Hockey and enjoyed that. So the Internet helps and I download a bunch of movies. I read a lot (most of my disposable income goes to books) and Shujie is constantly preparing classes. I just basically have an idea and wing it. I sit on a desk in class and the students don’t seem to like it, but I’m getting old so if I’m just talking (or lecturing) it’s okay to sit.

It’s a life. I think I don’t have a plan to try another career. I don’t miss computer stuff but I’m getting tired of teaching. I’m not sure what I can switch to at 61. Any ideas would be appreciated. I’d like money but I guess I missed the money boat. My kids had a good childhood and my money was for them to do things. I don’t regret it, but I’d love some money and to be able to travel more before it gets too late. My health isn’t great. I have leg and breathing problems and probably others but there are too many to remember. But I work through it and like that Old Man River, I just keep rolling along.

That’s it. Keep those cards and letters coming in (that was a joke). I want to go to Finland to teach, but I haven’t seen any jobs there.

It’s the evening of August 31st and here we are in Nanchang, still living in a hotel in a room the size of a box. At least it’s clean and we’ve been here a week now.   I can’t live on the 6th floor of the dormitory so the school is putting us up here. We are going to live outside the school (they pay) and supposedly we are moving on Saturday. However it’s China, so who knows?

My visa expires in 3 days. You are supposed to get a residence card within 30 days of your arrival. It seems the school never got my foreign experts certificate yet, which I need. I spoke to the principal yesterday and he assured me he would make it happen before Friday. Supposedly I will get it tomorrow (Thursday). The girl in charge of it has only had about 3 months to do her job but apparently she is worse than useless. Everyone thinks so and they can’t understand why she is still employed. However, the principal likes her and I guess she gives a great blowjob so that explains everything. What a place!

Everyone we’ve met here so far at the school seems nice and pleasant and easy to get along with (except BJ girl). We’ve rented an apartment that is brand new and the school is paying for it even though it costs more money than they are allowed to give for an apartment allowance. I suppose because they didn’t do their job, they are paying the penalty.

We have a couple of teacher’s here without their foreign expert’s certificate yet. One of the teacher’s only has a tourist visa. Whenever this topic comes up he looks like his head will explode. There are 2 American teachers, 1 British teacher, and me the Canadian. We have teachers from Germany, Madagascar, and other places. It should be interesting.

I only teach American History (because I’m the Canadian) and Shujie teaches “Study Skills” and American Government. She will admit (and I will agree) she knows less than nothing about American Government. She has seen some of “House of Cards” so I guess that counts for something.

I don’t have to hang around between classes like you do at most high schools so that is good. All my classes are on the 3rd and 4th floor, which is not so good. It seems every place I go to in China, some new disaster strikes. Usually it’s the living accommodations, but this time it’s the visa. Why do I it? That’s a good question and if anyone knows the answer, please let me know.

The pay here for an International School is terrible but they had a job for Shujie so that was good. They screwed up her contract and put return airfare to Toronto in it so they will pay that. Chinese teachers never get that so I’m not complaining. I’m happy she’s working and I’m sure she’ll do a good job.

We’ve found 1 good restaurant so far. It’s overpriced but I have to eat. Their bread is as good as any at home, so I’m happy.

The first day of school is tomorrow and we had a meeting Monday, which told us we would be having opening ceremonies on the field at 7:20 on Thursday. Today we learned that we don’t have to go. It’s China. One of the speakers only spoke Chinese, but at the end he said that by the end of the year we should all be speaking English. I can’t figure that one out since this is supposed to be an International (English) school.

The official language of Madagascar is French if you didn’t know that. Now you do!

The German teacher lives with his pregnant girlfriend. We asked him what she did for a living but he said he didn’t know and she wouldn’t tell him. It’s a strange place.

They have to take me to the kitchen in the hotel every night so I can get my Insulin out of the fridge and inject myself. No mini-bar here.

What’s the curriculum and syllabus? When I make it up, then I’ll know.

We’ll see how it goes. It’s my plan (as it always is) to last the year out. As long as they don’t annoy me too much, and they treat Shujie well, it can be done.

There is a business card from a prostitute company under our hotel room door every evening. We haven’t called yet, but we might soon if we don’t move.

Summer was good. It was nice to see family, to go to New York and see Elana and Les Miz for the 5th time. Elana says she’s done after 7 times seeing it. She still loves it but she figures there are other things to see.

We visited Jan (who we worked with in Baotou) in Kalamazoo. It was quiet and restful. We enjoyed it. Next summer we hope to hit NY again and also Austin (because it’s hotter than hell and we’re crazy). It was in the 40’s when we got to Nanchang but now it’s the low 30’s. (This is Celsius). There is no dress code at the school so we (or I should say “I”) can wear shorts. That’s good.

So another year in China begins and just when you think you’ve seen it all, you see more. Not necessarily a “good” more, but let’s just say more.