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.


How many people out there are proud to be Americans? You can say Trump this and Trump that, but Trump is not the problem. It’s those millions of healots (see the film “Meet John Doe) out there that are the problem. If Trump was a joke as most of us thought he was, then he wouldn’t be the nominee. I never belivied I would prefer a man named “Baseball glove” or Mitt to a man named Donald.

Trump is an arrogant idiot and a dangerous man because of his ability to find all these pathetic losers who support him. As John Kennedy famously said, “Ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for you”. Okay, maybe he didn’t say that exactly but you get the idea.

My mother, who can be a wise woman, told me if I didn’t like what people had to say, ignore them. But few ignore Trump so he keeps spewing on. What if no one commented? What if newspapers didn’t print his hate filled drivel? Would he disappear? Probably. Why does making a buck mean more than having a proper leader?

I don’t love Hillary. She’s hard to love. I think even Bill thinks that based on his affairs record. She is flawed like most of us. The Donald is beyond being flawed, he is evil. However, she is smart and she is competent and she cares about her country. Sure she cares about herself (as we all should), but unlike Trump she does not believe she is the be all and end all of Presidential politics.

The closest political leader to Trump from the 20th Century is Adolf Hitler. C’mon you think it, you whisper it to your friends, why not stand up and shout it. I don’t think I’ve ever had such appalling feelings about a candidate. Nixon or Trump? Give me Nixon.

The man is unqualified and is only out for himself and on an ego trip. And there are millions of Americans who are riding along. There must also be millions who are ashamed of what their country has become.

I’m not a zealot but just a sort of normal guy. I am ashamed and disgusted to see how many “losers” support this chicken-shit piece of garbage. He’s a fraud, a liar, irresponsible, and many other negative things. What he is not is a good man to lead a country (unless you’re looking to take a long drive off a short pier). “Oh let’s get him on message”, and “he will turn around” and after that look up in the sky, I’ll be flying.

Americans are teaching millions of others around the world to hate them. America was built to stand on freedom. Freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of others and not built on hate. So go ahead and take the Donald. I’ll tell you, if he wins, you all deserve to sit there and watch your country actually descend into the toilet.

I lived about 13 years in total in the U.S. I always stood up for it. I didn’t always agree but it’s okay to not agree. But this goes beyond not agreeing. This goes toward racism and hatred and damn ignorance. And if Americans choose to be stupid then they choose to no longer be “the leaders of the free world”.


March 1 was my last post. That’s more than 3 months ago and I guess I’m not ready to throw in the towel. Blogging on a regular basis is tough. I used to do it daily but that was mostly bitching. Now I do it about once a week (until now) and that’s more normal. I have stories that aren’t complaints and occasionally I have important things to say. (Important to me anyways).

This post will be in 3 parts. Part one is what I’ve been up to (and Shujie too), part II is a little bit about the “greatest”, Muhammad Ali. Part III is about the U.S. and the thing whose name I won’t repeat.

My well-paying job in Beijing didn’t exactly work out. The money was good but work was like “work”. I didn’t come here to work. I came here to share knowledge and not feel like I had a job. If I wanted a job I could have stayed in Canada and worked I.T. and made big bucks. I didn’t have to come to China to make little money and be annoyed. However you never know how school will go until you go there.

I didn’t think I got along well with the people whose jobs touched mine. I found the principal to be a HUGE liar (“I have no say in who is hired or fired”). Who is he kidding? The vice-principal was useless,. Some of the other teachers in the same department were rude. I know a Chinese teacher has it much harder than a foreign teacher, but I forget things sometimes, and other times I’m never even told. It takes a minute to answer a question, but it maybe takes a little longer to tell me that you’ve told me before, insinuate I’m an idiot, and walk away. You know those things you might have heard about how Chinese respect their elders. It’s a lie. I also think Grade 7’s and 8’s are too young for me.

The course was crap. I taught history and their projects always seemed to be group posters. (Or you had 2 days to teach WWII). Who knows who did the work in the group? What is with these posters? I don’t get it. In fact, I didn’t get the whole program. It’s an IB program (International Baccalaureate) . What is that? Beats me. You can look up how brilliant it is because it teaches students to think, but I always thought any decent teacher helped students to learn how to think. I just don’t think they really cared about what they were delivering as long as the money comes in. These “International” schools in China are big business and if you have money, you can get your dummy kid who doesn’t give a damn into a school. They’re not cheap and this was a pretty school but I learned that a lot of teachers were going to leave at the end of the semester because they had had enough.

I made it to the end of my probation (2 months). I have a big mouth at times. I was happy to be let go but I could have used the money. We lived on the edge of nowhere and I wasn’t having any fun (it’s important to have fun). So I was terminated and I really wasn’t offended and I really didn’t care. There are better places to be annoyed.

We came back to Baoding (had to go somewhere) and Shujie keeps busy. I mostly just sit in the apartment reading or finding things on Netflix to watch (I’m in season 4 of Dexter and I love it). I’m bored beyond belief but this is what I sowed, so I am reaping it.

Shujie seems to find places to go all the time but I really don’t tag along because her friends only speak Chinese and I don’t and there is only so long I can sit there and smile. If she’s happy, that’s good.

We are heading to Toronto in less than 3 weeks to see family, then we’re going to N.Y. for 3 days to see Elana and then we’re going to Kalamazoo because who doesn’t want to go to Kalamazoo. We made a friend a few years ago so it will be nice to see her. She’s put China in her rear-view mirror so we’re happy about that. I can’t wait to blow this pop-stand.

We have jobs for Sept. 1 working at an “International” high school in Nanchang. The money isn’t great but there is a job for both Shujie and I, which is great. They’re thrilled to be hiring a couple so maybe they are smarter than the average bear. It’s high school and I might like it. Shujie will like it because it’s new to her and she wants to learn about running a school so she can build her education empire here in Baoding. She’ll be a home room teacher and teach English to those having problems. When she returns to Baoding to build her empire, it will serve bagels, be a bar, and do schooling. I wish her luck. If you’re going to dream, dream big.

So that’s where we are now. Now on to my next topic.

Muhammad Ali is dead. That is unbelievable to me. I think he first became a part of my consciousness in 1962 when I was 7. I knew nothing about boxing but I knew that Sonny Liston was going to destroy him. There were 2 sure things in my world. My parents loved me and Sonny Liston was going to kill Cassius Clay.

I guess 1 out of 2 isn’t bad. My parents loved me every day but Clay beat Liston. He then declared he was a Black Muslim. I don’t think I even understood that, but it didn’t matter. If he wanted to call himself Howdy Doody that was okay with me and it was none of my business.

Most people have an opinion about boxing. It’s interesting or it’s evil. Why should 2 men try to destroy each other? But the whole idea of Muhammed Ali isn’t about how great a boxer he was (and he was). It was that he did what very few of us would have done. He walked away from millions of dollars, which I doubt few, if any, of us would have done.

When Michael Jordan, probably the greatest basketball player ever, had a chance to endorse a candidate to be the Senator from North Carolina and defeat the racist Jesse Helm, Jordan showed his true colours by stating, “Republicans wear running shoes too”. You can do something for your people, or you can count your money. We all saw what was most important to Jordan.

Now the American army wanted to draft Muhammad Ali to fight in Viet Nam. Originally he failed the exam to determine whether he was eligible for the draft. Then they changed the rules and now he was eligible. It seemed like he had 2 choices. He could go fight the Vietnamese or he could go to jail for not killing these people ½ way across the world who had nothing to do with him or his life. Of course, if he chose not to fight he could go to jail and he could pass up millions of dollars in paydays. How many of us would make that choice? Honestly.

“I got nothing against no Viet Cong. No Vietnamese ever called me a nigger.”

“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality.… If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”


“I strongly object to the fact that so many newspapers have given the American public and the world the impression that I have only two alternatives in taking this stand: either I go to jail or go to the Army. There is another alternative and that alternative is justice. If justice prevails, if my Constitutional rights are upheld, I will be forced to go neither to the Army nor jail. In the end I am confident that justice will come my way for the truth must eventually prevail.”


Those are the words of a man. A man of beliefs who understands the difference between right and wrong. And to walk away from all that money and the best 3 years of his sporting life is beyond amazing. How many people do you know who would do that? The answer is probably zero.

Sure he had his flaws. He could be cruel and mean and insulting. He fought bums for a payday. He screwed around on his wives. But on the BIG thing, he was a true man who stood up for his beliefs. This, more than anything else amazes me.

It is this one act that made Muhammad Ali truly a great man. It is this one act that has always gotten my respect and made me an Ali fan. Sure, I like boxing, and I thrilled to many of his fights. But nothing was as thrilling as standing up to the government and doing the right thing. As I get older, I appreciate what he did more and more.

In many ways he was what he said, “The Greatest”. He wasn’t the greatest because he was a great boxer; he was the greatest because he was truly a man of his convictions.

The world is truly a little poorer without him.

And now for the one who shall remain nameless. I’m a Canadian, as most people know. Many people think Canadians are Americans Lite. We are different from Americans. Many people around the world hate Americans but very few hate Canadians. I always said that the reason people hate the United States was because they were jealous. The United States was formed on some pretty decent principles (which aren’t always followed), has a good form of government (which doesn’t always work), and most Americans I have always found to be pretty decent people.

Now something has come along that has made Americans (for lack of a better word) insane. In the thirties in Germany many said, “let’s vote for this guy Hitler. He’ll get things done and he doesn’t really mean it about the Jews”. Six million Jews died but he was a good guy to vote for because he would get things done.

Now the Americans have a choice. Many of them are angry about how the government is working but electing an insane lunatic to be President is not the answer. I don’t believe he’s a Hitler, but the whole thing is operating on the same principle.

The one who shall remain nameless is a self-absorbed piece of s shit (and that’s the most positive thing I can say about him). Let’s kick out the Muslims and the Mexicans (maybe it’s the letter “M” that bothers him). Sounds very Hitler like to me.

He campaigns by complaining about judges who are hearing a court case against him because they are Mexican. Geez, I must be stupid but I thought they were American. He is evil and can only bring bad times with him.

But what is saddest of all, are the people who support him. First off, you have the lowlifes who like to hate others because it makes them feel better. They are pathetic. But then it gets worse. It’s okay for Democrats to not like Republican values and vice versa. I thought that’s why there were elections. But people I personally don’t agree with have no balls (man or woman). Paul Ryan (who I am no fan of) was not going to give his support to he who shall remain nameless. Now he is. Oh, he’s not so bad. I heard Hitler wasn’t so bad either. You have all these people who were dead set against this poor excuse for a man say, “We won’t support him”, and one by one they decide “he’s got to be better than any Democrat”. What’s wrong with having principles? If the Republicans hold on to the House and the Senate, it kind of limits what a Democratic President can do. The Supreme Court is there to balance things out. It’s called a system of “checks and balances”, not a system of weak-kneed pour excuses for Human Beings.

I remember when John McCain was someone who you could respect. You might not agree with him, but he was worth listening to. Now he’s just another one of these morons who can’t see beyond being elected. Are you really going to lose your election by standing up for yourself and your principles? If you are going to fold to a group that supports he who shall remain nameless, then maybe you should lose and shouldn’t be running for government.

I see the Bushes (even George W.) are not supporting he who shall remain nameless. Maybe George W. is a little bit better than we all thought. Paul Ryan had a chance to show his balls, but I guess they got caught in his zipper. Chris Christie is a whore just like McCain and the rest of them.

When you run for President, you run to represent certain beliefs. It seems to me that he who shall remain nameless is running on his own personal agenda. It’s not to make America “great again”. Everyone who runs says that. It’s so he can have all the toys to play with.

When all this started most people thought it was a joke that he who shall remain nameless was running. No way could he win the nomination. I guess they thought that about Hitler too. Guess what? You were all wrong. The joke that was him, was us. Let’s beat up the people who don’t agree with him. Maybe he can start his own Gestapo. It looks like there are a lot of people out there auditioning for the job of Himmler. Don’t kid yourself; nothing is so awful that it can’t happen.

I’m ashamed to have believed in the United States. There are too many evil people there. There are still plenty of good people, but there are just a bit too many evil people for my taste. And yes, if you have no balls, you are evil. John McCain is evil. He’s like Michael Jordon. Even Arizonans have their own haters and we must pander to them. Shame on you!

I’m sickened by what is happening and I would never have believed it. Stupid me. Hitler gave the world a great lesson but it seems it didn’t quite take. I’m not saying that he who shall remain nameless is just like Hitler, but the idea and lack of principles are the same.

So I’m back.


harper face

First things first. This is a picture of my gorgeous granddaughter Harper. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover. She’s not dolled up and she looks insane. Wait, maybe you can partially judge a book by it’s cover. Leah (my daughter) was the funniest person I ever knew. When she was a kid she had me in stiches. She could make up the craziest things and I loved watching her. It’s almost spooky how much Harper is like her mother. Leah hasn’t been crazy for a while and she didn’t teach Harper to be crazy, but Harper is a riot. She’s loving, she’s thoughtful, she’s funny, she’s creative, and that’s just a bit.

Our trip was a HUGE success. It was the best money I ever spent. Leah and I have sort have been on the outs for a while and I thought I better go to Austin to try and help fix things up. You can’t really fix things when you are so far apart. It was wonderful. We all got along. I didn’t nag Leah (or at least I hope I didn’t). I gave her space and wasn’t demanding. Leah washed my clothes without complaining (except that I always had laundry which is the same complaint that Shujie has). I met Leah’s new significant other and both Shujie and I were quite delighted. I think the relationship has helped put Leah in a good place. She has Harper and now she has two. I’m thrilled by it.

Harper made asparagus the first night eating at Leah’s, she set the table, and she washed the dishes. That’s at the age of six. I hope Leah enjoys it while it lasts because I’m sure it won’t be forever. Harper called me Martin and called Shujie, Shujie. She remembered Shujie’s name much more easily than mine. I agree with Leah’s reasoning on that: we all called Shujie by her name, but Leah would call me Dad. I don’t mind what she calls me as long as she treats me like family, which she did.

We ate, we bowled, we watched Leah in her skeeball league, and we ate, and we met some of her friends (wonderful people), and then we ate. It took us almost 3 hours to find our hotel from the airport but after that it was no problem. We took a break in the middle of the visit to give Leah some time off and we went to Dallas to see the usual sites. Texas Schoolbook Depository—check. Perot museum of Science and Technology—check. NHL hockey with the Dallas Stars—check. IHOP—check. Denny’s—check. Einstein bagels—check.

All in all it was a fabulous time. Wanting to be a world traveler like me, and having family who I love all over the world is quite the dilemma but cannot really be solved to everyone’s satisfaction. And no one wants to visit China. I don’t get it.

From Austin we went to Florida to see my Mom and her significant other. It was great to see her but my goodness, it’s so boring down there.   I liked being warmer than in China and I liked seeing my mom, but that’s it.

We came back to Beijing and started moving into the “cubbyhole” apartment at the school. We got here Friday, Shujie went back to Baoding on Saturday to get more stuff, her son drove here on Sunday to drop it off, and then Shujie went back to Baoding. It should be a few more days until she comes for good.

We are literally in the middle of nowhere. I heard Beijing and I thought lots to do and see. It’s 35 km. to the center of the city but we can take the subway. We went to the local Walmart in the small town shopping on Friday night. I hated it. The school runs trips to better places on the weekend so we’ll check them out.

I am just sitting in classes this week and next week I begin teaching. I will teach Grade 7 and Grade 8 history. Grade 7 is Chinese history so let’s get the Canadian to teach Chinese history in China. You figure it out because I can’t. The people I’ve met so far seem fine (on a “hi, how are you” basis) so we will reserve judgment on students, teachers, staff, and all else for a couple of weeks.

I hope Shujie finds something to do. I worry but she says she can handle everything. I think she needs to think more about herself. We really are in Nowheresville. Who knows what the future holds? And how many times have I written that.

It’s March. The Semester finishes July 14th and then we’ll go to Canada for about 4 weeks. Elana should be living in NY by then so we would like to go visit and see the big city.

The school has a dress code (no jeans, etc.) but today I saw a teacher in jeans. I asked him about it and he said it’s against the rules but no one has said anything to him. I think I will dip my toe in those waters next week.

So hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go. I would really like to be in a different country but no one wants me. I’m old (or so I’m told). There’s always Tomorrow and you can be your bottom dollar that Tomorrow is only a day away.

Chinese puzzle:

  1. A game where you have to solve the problem of fitting many different pieces together especially boxes inside other boxes.
  2. A situation that is complicated and difficult to understand.

3..An intricate or ingenious puzzle.

So what happens when everyday life becomes a Chinese puzzle? Do you throw up your hands and concede the match? Some do. Do you fight and try to solve it? Some do. Do you ignore and present an override? That might be the answer.

Such is life in China, a series of Chinese puzzles.

I haven’t written in a long time. November 21 to be exact. Some of the few of you who read what I write might have thought I was dead. Perhaps you were right. I was facing a dilemma and choosing not to face it. The school business was nowhere near what I expected. I expected a variety of students who would flock to learn with a foreign teacher. I was wrong. Mr. Foreigner wants to be paid more than Mr. Chinglish and a lot of these pathetic Chinese parents don’t want the best for their kids, they want the cheapest. Why should I charge the same as someone with poor pronunciation and a weak ability to put together sentences?

It wasn’t going well. Chinese people appear to want something for nothing. Guess what? I’m not giving something for nothing so I’ve been job hunting. I was told that 60 was the cutoff age but it’s China and every province has their own rules. It might help if they enforced National Rules, but I guess that would require some work.

Sometimes Shujie would say it’s not working and other times she’d say, “give it time”. I just heard the 2 minute warning and it said, “get out of town”. Boading has some advantages for Shujie such as being close to her mom and close friend. Although I often tease her about taking off to see them, I know it’s good.

I on the other hibernate in our apartment and read books. It’s kind of cold outside and this is a boring place. I like that Shujie has family and friends to visit but she tells me it’s no big deal. We’re different and there are some things beyond my understanding and I accept that.

I wasn’t depressed, just bored.  I was under the impression it was almost impossible to be hired once you hit 60.

I had to travel to Changsha to do a demo for a man who thinks he’s brilliant but I don’t trust. He has a “system” to teach English and I don’t have much faith in systems. While we were there he watched my demo for 3 minutes and declared me fine. He told Shujie that he really wanted hire her (to help run things) and I was the excess baggage he would take. Am I hurt? I think you have to respect someone for their words to hurt you. I don’t trust him.

I gave him a deadline to have a contract with me, and he missed it. I don’t care. So now we’ll see how much Mr. Bigshot wants Shujie. He can hire her without me. She can work in his office in Beijing or from home. I don’t think anything will come of it and I hope I’m wrong. However, if I’m right, I don’t think Shujie will be crushed because she really doesn’t trust him either.

There was another school that was interviewing. It was an IB school (International Baccalaureate) whatever that is but it sounds good. They teach many courses in English and they pay more than any job I’ve had in China I would be teaching History (my version) and it’s a 5 day a week job. Living in Beijing means the occasional decent restaurant and the occasional decent Bloody Mary. It’s like a suburb of ½ million people about 35 km. from downtown Beijing. We are not too far from the Subway so if we want to hit the big city, it should be no big deal.

Shujie says now that she wouldn’t mind tutoring younger kids in English. I think she would do a great job. I think she should call this jerk about this phantom job (my opinion) and as usual, make out for herself. I feel bad but I make much more money so in a way you have to go where the money is.

I accepted the job to begin when we return from the U.S. We leave for Austin on Feb. 4 and return Feb. 25. We are psyched. We’ll see Leah and my granddaughter Harper in Austin, and then we’ll go to West Palm Beach in Florida to see my mother and her boyfriend. My mom has her moments and she can be grouchy but she’s a good mother and if I can’t deal with the occasional grouchiness then I’m a worse son than I thought I was.

I have all these food cravings that I know will disappear once my plane touches down. I’ve lost weight because I usually eat one meal a day and don’t snack. I find I have the same low energy level I’ve always had but I do seem to come alive in the classroom.

I’ll be teaching grade 7 and 8’s and I would have thought that wouldn’t work for me, but when I did my demo in Shenyang to Grade 7’s, it was fun. I’m good in some ways and can relate to students at their level. I never talk down to them or treat them like idiots. Now that I’m in an expensive private school some spoiled brats may suffer my subtle wraith.

I work 5 days a week, Monday to Friday, which is okay. We get a free apartment on campus. We get health coverage. The apartment is too small but maybe I can get Shujie to stop telling me how expensive everything is and to actually look online and see what things cost. She is the expert (maven) of all and it’s hard to tell her she isn’t.

Will this work out? Who knows? The contract is until July 1 of 2017, which is good. I thought the hiring age in China was 60 max. but yesterday I heard it’s 62. I don’t think anyone knows. I need a special Z visa but the school is willing to wait until I return from Canada in the summer for it and we’ll just keep quiet for it for now. It might work out and it might be fun teaching history.

Shujie may come up with something. This whole new adventure starts the end of February when we return fro the U.S. I’m looking forward to it and I hope Shujie finds something good that respects her ability and doesn’t penalize her for being over women’s retirement age in China (50).

Every day is something new. We look forward to leaving for Austin in 8 days and all the things Leah has been planning for us. If she gives up photography she can be a party planner,

I look forward to the salary and I look forward to being in front of a class entertaining them. I look forward to teaching a subject other than English. It should be interesting.

And yes, they teach piano and horseback riding.  (www.huijia.com/english).

Check it out.  Maybe you want to send someone there.  I think it’s about $35,000US a year.  I’m sure it’s a bargain at any price.  (See, no change, still the same attitude.)




October 2nd and it’s now November 22??????? WTF? Why haven’t I written? There have been many times when I’ve felt like it, but I never seem to make it to the computer to share my valuable (and not so valuable) thoughts with y’all. I could try to analyze this but you know what? Who cares? Does anyone you know care? Hell, even they don’t even care. My life sucks, my attitude sucks, my sucking sucks, and I’m tired of Chinese people.

I think it’s always good to get out of town a year before your “due date”. Looks like I’ve blown it again. The train left and I wasn’t on it. I am actually starting to hate my life and the only one I have to blame is me. I guess I can point a finger or two at Shujie, but when all is said and done, the culprit is me.

I hate my job and hate just isn’t quite strong enough a word. Opening a school was one dumbass idea. I’m pleasant and friendly and I’ve gotten Shujie to come in and teach with me, with some of the younger kids. The parents don’t like that. They’re paying “big bucks” for the foreigner and that’s the important thing. It’s not what they learn but if they have a foreign teacher.

I like most of the kids; I just don’t want to be their teacher. They’re too young. I have no discipline (it’s not my strong suit) so having her in class helps and they like her. But to hell with the kids, lets make the parents happy. Some of them are nice people but clueless.

I’m tired of people coming in to “check you out”. That would be fine except they know before they come that they’re not paying the money. The occasional one tells the truth (it’s too expensive) and that’s fine. And then there are those who say, “my daughter says it’s too expensive”. This is coming from a mother who is sending her daughter to Toronto for high school and University. Did I miss something? Am I not from Toronto? What do they want? They want FREE but guess what stupid, it’s not free. It’s better you spend thousands and thousands of dollars on your kid whose English is lacking than spend a couple of thousand dollars learning English and culture from someone from there.

Some come to see you for an “interview” to see if the kid likes me. Guess what, I know what I sound like here, but fuck them all, the kids like me. They tell Shujie, “we’ll call you” but leave out the part that goes, “when pigs fly”. Why is lying the national hobby here? (That was a rhetorical question). What’s wrong with saying, “you’re too expensive” or “we can’t afford you”. That is a reasonable excuse. I am so sick of them of the liars.

Shujie (the marketing director) is useless. She assured me that this would be no problem. I think I mentioned this but her idea of marketing is to sit in her friend’s tea shoppe hanging out. Almost every day. We really can’t discuss this because it will lead to a fight and she’s basically happy here with her mother and her best friend. I sit in the apartment most of the time because I have no friends here and no desire to learn Chinese. I don’t think I like Chinese people. They’re loud. Too loud. There are some nice ones who are kind and honest, but I would say more than 50% of them closely resemble the scum that rings the bathtub.

Do I sound bitter? I think so. I hate it here, I hate that at 60 I’m ‘over the hill’ and can’t really get a job. I went to a primary school last week to talk about a job (they need a good foreigner) but I only want to work mornings. They are going to check out what they can do. They asked me to do a short demo with Grade 6 students and it went very well. I can do that demo blindfolded. Kids like me. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m nicer than I think I am. Life is a circle of mysteries.

We are waiting to hear back from them. I think they won’t be able to beat the age thing (and I think if you really want to you can), or they won’t cough up the money, or any other excuse. I’m not going to them begging for a job, I’m just looking for something to do. I mean, who really wants classes of 63 students? You do? Then please, come here.

Maybe we’ll hear the no tomorrow (Monday) or maybe they will never call back because they are Chinese and the best way to say “no” is to ignore someone.

I am looking online for jobs and have my standards dropped. One was in Costa Rica (I’ve made it to the 2nd round) and it pays $600 a month. As my friend Jan says (and she’s right), money isn’t everything. I’ve also made the 2nd round in India. Yes India! A country I’ve never wanted to visit and just the thought of it makes me want to gag. Billions of people love Indian food. Not me who doesn’t like anything. But I’d go. I need to do something and I enjoy entertaining (and sometimes teaching) classes. However, the shoe would then move to the other foot. What about Shujie? Not only is she jobless, but she can’t talk to anyone in Chinese. Well, no one has offered me a job yet so we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. But India???? That rings of desperation to me.

The weather is starting to get cold here. These are Celsius but this week the high is supposed to be below zero. That’s to ensure that except for my 45 second walk outside to our “school”, I’m going nowhere. I guess I’m a real “Nowhere Man”.

I try to think of what I can do to end this endless cycle of depression but I don’t know. I’d like to teach University but I’m too old. I’m not really old, in fact I’m much younger than many “younger” teachers. So what. It’s the number on your passport where it says, “birthdate”, that counts. I really have no ideas. Having my own school with just a few customers who are primary students doesn’t exactly float my boat. If I was making money hands over fist I think I could live with it. But this is one cheap, lying town full of bags of shit. (I have to stop being so nice). You might think that me writing things like that gives people the wrong idea, but I am so nice in front of other people. I just don’t work for free. No one does. However, these ridiculous excuses for people seem to expect that. I have to vent at times.

I hate my life at the moment. However, tomorrow is another day. We are going to Texas and Florida in February to visit my youngest and my granddaughter in Austin, and then to Florida to see my mom. I can’t wait to eat something different. Oh, and I want to see these people too.

Que Sera Sera. I keep saying that to myself. It doesn’t help but so what. Nothing helps. I am just sinking deeper into a funk and that’s not good. But what choice do I have and I just keep plugging away waiting for the tide to change. It has to, doesn’t it?