A Pocketful of Music..

Trip Start Aug 05, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Flag of China  , Zhejiang Sheng,
Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Haha!  After bragging about my 600 entries for each of the past two months,  the spigot went dry.  Prolly has something to do with Halloween and the early part of the week but DAMN! ONLY 5 VIEWERS IN 3 DAYS?  (was getting 20 viewers a day on average)  I do tend to think too much and over analyze everything so I will take this as an anomaly.   And how much does the world really need to know about Xiasha...?

 I have merely scratched the surface about this city my friends,  or at least about living in the Zhejaing Province of China,  and I have much more to convey about the subject of what it's like for a westerner to live in China.     Yes,  reading this drivel can be a lesson against verbosity.

I see many more things on a daily basis that don't stick long enough for me to include.   I write in favor for the big impressions and tend to neglect the beauty of the subtleties that I experience daily.   For instance the 4.5 foot tall, fruit selling lady that always grins when I frequent her shop, as she grabs that hard core looking "cane knife"  and peels and chops up the cane with a huge smile on her face.  I completely make her day by paying a dollar and ten cents,  because she knows that HER fruit stand is where I buy my "Cane" supply.    She takes pride in this.   Maybe it's because I am a giant fat bald guy or something.  I know she's not flirting since I see her kids.  But here in China.... The locals who get the "Fat, Bald, Guy"  to grace his/her store, react like they have been blessed.   And me being a loyal customer; will buy all my cane from that ladies shop for now on.   I also have my favorite noodle place,  the dumpling place, cigar place, hardware store,  veggie, butcher shop;  and about three coffee shops.  I might buy melon from another store down the street perhaps:  but all my cane and most tangerines I buy from her exclusively.   This is not a money thing because I really don't buy much fruit compared to the locals.   It's a very deep spiritual, superstitious, belief that some occurrences are blessings.   Doubtful there will be any great blessing affect in the long run,  but I do wish them well,  and they bless me just as much.    Shopping here is a much deeper experience than I am used to in the West.   When I feel a certain amount of joy by merely entering a shop,  buying something, then leaving,  a return visit will be in order.   Of course there is the occasional miserable lout who runs a shop,  but this is very rare here.    After three months in this neighborhood of hundreds of shops,  I rarely get quoted a price that is higher than what the locals pay.    

Today the heavens let the water pour from the sky my friends.   Nothing like a stormy Texas "Gullywasher",  but a couple inches fell,  and most of those fell on my way to work.   I did wear my wind breaker and a giant blue raincoat that came with my scooter. The ridiculous appearing pancho  really came in handy.  Its designed to drape over your handle bars and the clear window shaped part, drapes over your head light.   Of course when you're walking down the road wearing this there is a big square window to one's crotch,  which could be funny if you forgot to unzip or something.   I just leave the giant rain pancho over the handlebars of the bike so the water can't work it's way down into the wiring around the lights and switches.    

I do love the rain,  and even driving in the rain,  but there is a problem with soaking feet.   My "Nike Free" shoes,  are not anything like leather shoes or galoshes which would make more since in the city/rain environment.    I come from Texas,  where the rain only happens once a year, but when it does,  just dont go out in it,  or wear your cowboy boots.   Nike Free's   get wet just by riding in the humidity.    Sadly enough my wet nike's are what I must wear..    I have many pairs and types of boots at home in storage...   I will try to locate a rubber weaver to make me some overshoes (galoshes  to everyone younger than 50 who didnt live in the north east).   

Sat out on the porch much of the night,  just  listening to the cool rain fall with some Leonard Cohen music playing from my phone and reading a book from an Ipad clone.  Sadly enough,  I am dependent on a few electronics.   All music plays from a two hundred dollar device (I have the cheap blackberry)  and can also take pictures, make phone calls,  send messages,  and even surf the net if I need to.   All this for two hundred bucks...oh yes,  I forgot to mention the video games since I like soduku and poker.   What a device.     I also like the E-Readers as long as your not stupid enough to pay more than 200 bucks on one.   I can download thousands of tons of classic writing on one and then be able to read it easier than print.   I only used one for a week but I'm sold.   "Project Gutenberg" is the free website that has all the classics for free downloading. 

Of course All devices can  also  be replaced with a pen, paper, human memory,  and guitar if needed.   I'm still a big fan of the chalk board and use one 4 days a week.  I wouldn't touch a white marker board if you paid me!   Chalk is the stuff of Lincoln, Einstien,  and Yours Truly.   Incidentally,  my Chinese classrooms often have both types of boards but most Chinese prefer the old school technology of the chalkie,  which has been used for centuries.

Nearly half way through the semester so I started figuring out grades this week.   I had the students write 6 sentences from a topic,  split the kids up into groups of 3,  they would write six sentences (3 for and 3 against) the topic which was abortion.  As usual they had many insightful replies.   I just wanted to hear each student speak a couple sentences so I can figure out a pronunciation grade.   I plan to do this again next week just to make sure of accuracy,  then either add or subtract participation points.   My first class of non-English majors are pretty low in the oral English department.   Most of my troublemakers are in this class and I plan to fail three of them at Midterm unless they start doing something.   As in most colleges half the freshmen should not be in college at all,  but the Chinese system generally keeps them around for tuition fees,   we are discouraged from failing anyone,  but I plan to fail these three.   Hopefully failing them at midterm will cause a change in their classroom habits and allow them to pass at the end of the term.   But these are minor problems even when compared to the best behaved classes in the states.   The Chinese parent makes sure their kids conduct themselves in the classroom,   very few will argue or talk back they do seem to respect their elders.   Since discipline is often the most time consuming task for American teachers,  it is nice just to be able to "Teach" for once without having to teach basic manners to the kids.   At this point I fully plan to spend many more years teaching in this country.  I plan to stay in Xiasha at least another year or two provided I get treated well.  So far so good I suppose.    

Money matters:   I tend to blow money whenever I want and have the nasty habits of tobacco, coffee and wine drinking which are not cheap.  I rarely drink in public here.  I got paid 5500 this month and only seem to spend 1000 RMB per week.    I should be able to save 1000 rmb per month ( which is only about $150) but this is without even trying.   I know I can double that; since I finally bought all my housewares, spices, cooking utensils, bathroom, utensils, shelves, hangers, plants, fish, ect... Now that I am able to live on a 1000 rmb budget,  I plan to cut it to 800 next week and actually think about saving.    Unlike many expats,  I eat cheaply.   No processed foods,  no expensive Western style restaurants (my meals are always between $1.50 and $3.00) unless I cook at home which costs much less.   I don't travel to Hangzhou or Shanghai,  since I prefer local exploration and expanding the boundaries of my beloved City of Xiasha.  I don't go to bars. Those things eat up money worse than the cigar and wine habits,  so I hope to save $300 per month so I can have plenty of travel money for the summer,  and buy gifts for the family ect...    I still blow about 4 dollars per day hanging out in the coffee house, but that is time well spent!   University teachers work 1/3 the hours of high school teachers,  so much qualified teachers should be able to make far more than I if they are willing to work more. I am burned out so I choose the low salaries of teaching at the university level.   I wouldn't have it any other way. The University pay is fair when considering your hourly wage and free place to stay.

More personal stuff:  My weight is now 295 or 25 pounds less than when I got here 3 months ago!  One of my pairs of long pants that barely fit (so I didn't wear them) is back to normal now. So now I have two pairs of pants I can teach in.   My foot and ankle problem has nearly disappeared and I can fit into my "Madden" dress boots now which is a relief since my Nike's have seen better days.   This diet and running up and down 20 flights of stairs per day, is very good for Yours Truly. My work week ends today and I plan to head for a foot massage.  The foot massages have really helped my foot pain and swelling,  but you have to go once a week until your feet are cured.   My feet were numb at the bottom from lost circulation which is scary,  but this has improved.   No more getting sick from the food.  I will stop now with the personal stuff.   I should have soon new China experiences to convey soon.   Sunday I'll be taking a larger group of Chinese students across the river and over to the temple and that's always worth some news and pictures!   I enjoy their company on outings like this.

Tonight is another rain event which is beautiful.  Unlike Wednesday this is a warm rain from the South China sea.   We are near the East China sea which has about the same weather as South Carolina.   Although we get a little snow each year,  many species of palm trees to grow here.   This is my ideal climate.  Tropical enough for a few palms and banana's but too cold for orange trees.   I like it to freeze every year.  Kills off more insects.   But the winter here is more like London with it's constant fog and chill.   It's already November the 4th and it's still t-shirt weather.     The rain still is a constant.   Today I rode to my favorite dumpling place in the rain with just a thin dress shirt on.    Just a little drizzle at the time.   Now I'm wanted to go to the foot place but the drizzle is a constant light rain and I don't like to mix my Electric Bike with the idea of Water.    So far the water hasn't been an issue,  but once a little water hits those electronics??????????? The Bike will be unoperational.    Plus,  I am enjoying the rain too much on my porch than to go gallabanting (is this a word?) around town looking for a foot massage.  

I would much rather sit on the porch and listen to the great Jazz singer: Cab Calloway tonite.   I like ole Cab "Minnie the Moocher",   because of his graphic humor.   Cab knew about the times and always managed to point out the hypocrisies that he noticed...Alot.   The man was brilliant and came from an upper class family in New York I believe. I love Cab, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Lady Day, Mingus,  and sweet Louis Armstrong especially.  Sad that most Americans know nothing about the fantastic careers and talents of these Jazz artists.   They were the cultural history of the first half of the 20th century.  Little that the music companies trowel out now can compare to these folks.   Now,  it's all about image and "guangxi" (who you know),   back then..... it was about who had the most talent.  

The rain continues and has almost became the air I breath.  Living on the coast is all about various degrees of humidity.  This is nearly maximum humidity to where one doesn't really need to drink water anymore.   The next degree will involve gills,  but I haven't grown those yet.  I would love to have them though.   So I will continue to sit on my porch and examine my new fern plant who has been in a state of ecstasy due to this weather.  I "who has lived in the Utah desert climate for 4 years"  is also in a similar state and has become a brother to the fern.   With a pocket full of music from my blackberry and a bottle of decent Chinese wine.  I will spend the next few hours watching the soft rain as it washes my city clean of the dust and the noise. 


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albarnes on

The Chinese are very involved with their kids and grandkids, but the Hug thing isn't as profound as in Western Society. They will put the kid back on the horse rather than hug away his/her fears.... At my level there is no human physical contact between teacher and student,, but often the students walk down the hall with an arm around their best friend, even holding hands with friends. It's all so innocent.

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