03/01 Direct Link
This challenge is such a joy. This has got me back into writing just for the fun, not because I have an assignment to complete or a lesson to plan. Even if it is not possible to get to write every day, I do manage at least an entry for each day. Sometimes I am amazed when I read what I wrote weeks ago, I did not know that I could write like that. If you are tempted to read what I have spent my time putting down for posterity, I hope you enjoy it too. Thanks for your interest.
03/02 Direct Link
Did not go into Zhengzhou today. I just thought that I am getting too tired, and so I went to the local church. I was lucky. There was a visiting preacher who spoke standard Chinese and so I understood a reasonable amount. It is so good that people so different can all feel so much the same by worshipping together.
A colleague and I went to lunch in a little restaurant afterwards. It was not too bad, pretty cheap too. However, tonight my colleague has the runs. I told him he didn¡¯t eat enough, he let me eat most. Well?
03/03 Direct Link
Did you notice the date today?
You might write 03/03/03 or you might write 03.03.03, but either way, it is a repetition which we will not see again for 1000 years. Well, that is a silly thing to say. You and I will not see it again because we can safely say that neither you nor I will be around the next time this occurs. All those who did not notice it can keep a watch out for next year when the same sort of thing will happen in the month of April.

It is always important to observe details.
03/04 Direct Link
It should be Spring. We had Spring Festival in February didn¡¯t we?

Yesterday the forecast said that it would be colder today, even colder tomorrow with snow and a little warmer on the 6th. Well so far they are right. When I went out to eat tonight the snow was already falling. Watching the news a little later we were shown the many places where snow fell today. So here we are, in winter again! Tonight it will be pulling out the heavy woollens and turning on the electric blanket. Tomorrow riding the bike to class will be a challenge.
03/05 Direct Link
You know you are not in China if you can not either see a construction crane or you can¡¯t hear the hammering and concrete mixers. So it will not be a surprise to you that classes are these days constantly being interrupted by the construction of the new building, which has to be completed in time for the beginning of the new school year in September. It will be a big building. I know that that is relative. However, it is taking up a complete block on campus and will probably have no more than six floors. (to be continued).
03/06 Direct Link
(continued) If it were higher they would have to install an elevator and they don¡¯t usually like to do that. The cost would be out of budget.
During preparations they have put up concrete mixers and concrete holders which automatically fill the barrows as they are put under. It makes the work very efficient.
Imagine our surprise when we arrived one morning to see one of these concrete holders leaning at about 20o to the south. Now what? Is this an indication of what will happen when the building goes up. Will it lean too? We¡¯ll just wait and see.
03/07 Direct Link
A new mode of transport that is very convenient has become very popular. It is known here as the electrically powered bike. The thing is that in Chinese the word for bike is ¡°self propelled¡±, which of course is not possible if it is electrically powered.
The traffic code does not have any mention to them so there is a lot of debate as to what should be done with them. Some cities solve the problem by banning them. At over 2000 yuan each, that is an enormous loss. Others chose to ignore them. I just continue to use mine.
03/08 Direct Link
Riding on an electrically powered bike is really quite fun. You should not be able to exceed 20Km/ph and thus there are none of the registration costs or the dangers of having to compete with cars. You may ride safely in the bicycle lane.
When the weather is really hot, the speed gives a slight breeze to keep the body a little cooler and as there is no effort required there isn¡¯t any heat generated by your own efforts.
Generally, if you do not push the bike too fast, it is possible to get about 40Km out of one charge
03/09 Direct Link
Visitors from Oz today. How nice it is when people come from overseas to see how our group of workers here is getting on. It is uplifting and enables us all to speak fluently without having to worry about how we say it.
Here it is assumed that all westerners have the same culture and also that all English speakers speak the same. It is however a fact that when speaking to, especially Americans from the US, that the language is quite different. So even other foreigners are foreign. But when someone comes from home there is none of that.
03/10 Direct Link
It is just recently that I have forced myself to re-discover that age old pleasure of reading. Each night before going to sleep I force myself to read a few pages, and really enjoy it.
There are side benefits to reading too. Being an ESL teacher most of my time is spent speaking and writing simple English. Now I am getting some real English and finding that it is very enjoyable. And it is not to be overlooked how important the writing of this challenge is. It is really the only writing that I do at my own English level.
03/11 Direct Link
Sometimes waiting is the best policy. Some things look hopeless, but if you just wait it will come out in some way. It will be better than what you expected, and getting hot under the collar doesn¡¯t do your health any good either.
Got a call today that the money that I should have got last September, for my air ticket is going to be paid to me after all. Don¡¯t know how much yet, but will find that out when I have time to go and collect it. Could not today because I taught eight hours. Sleep well tonight.
03/12 Direct Link
Well, here we are. This is a predicament. I teach in this school and I do not think that it is a good place to work. There are so very many things which go against the Foreign Teachers. I was an ad put up by another person, not from the school, encouraging people to come to this school for the school year beginning September 2003. Should I put up a post and tell any prospective teachers what the place is really like?

After a fair amount of deliberation I have decided that I should. The next teachers really should know.
03/13 Direct Link
Well, here we are. This is a predicament. I teach in this school and I do not think that it is a good place to work. There are so very many things which go against the Foreign Teachers. I was an ad put up by another person, not from the school, encouraging people to come to this school for the school year beginning September 2003. Should I put up a post and tell any prospective teachers what the place is really like?

After a fair amount of deliberation I have decided that I should. The next teachers really should know.
03/14 Direct Link
The trees are sprouting leaves!

It is every autumn that the new students in the school become responsible for picking up the leaves that fall from the trees and thus keep the roadway clear. The current first year students did that job last autumn and are now able to admire the lovely soft green leaves emerging without having to worry about picking them up in the autumn. In the autumn they will be second year and the new students will have the job. This makes the trees more beautiful and easier to enjoy. Isn¡¯t that a selfish attitude. Human beings!
03/15 Direct Link
This book is about the period just after the second world war and is set in London. It is all about the aftermath of the Blitz on London. There seems to have been a cover up of some evil deed which was interrupted by the falling of bombs and the robbers became heroes as they rescued people in the blazing houses. Now there is an investigative journalist who wants to expose everything that happened. The people concerned are frightened and the community will change. What should he do?

The book: The Glory and the Shame, author Harry Bowling. Like it!
03/16 Direct Link
Second half of the month. In one more month I have to give mid semester ¡°exams¡±. It is good to get it prepared. We will not be officially told when it is on until the last minute. However I know. Let me be wise now. I do not want to spend 23 hours correcting papers again, especially as I will still be teaching my full load. This is how I will organize it. I will give the exam one evening so all the students can do it at the same time and I do not have to set two exams.
03/17 Direct Link
St. Patrick¡¯s Day!

I like St¡¯ Patrick¡¯s Day, No I am not Irish and I don¡¯t have any Irish blood in me. I have a very good reason for liking St. Patrick¡¯s Day. It tells me firstly that two and a half months of the year have gone. And then the most important. It tells me that a friend of more than 40 years and also a nephew, both have their birthdays. Is there a better reminder? Of course, when it was snail mail, it would always be too late to send greetings. Now with e.mail, they get it today.
03/18 Direct Link
They loved it!
This is a game to get students to use questions, answer questions and to get information. It is a lot of fun. I began by telling the students that the Dean¡¯s office was broken into and that a person in our class was the suspect. I then picked a student and told them all that she had two friends who would help to see whether she was in fact guilty or now.
They left the room and made up their story then came in one by one to be questioned by the rest of the class.
03/19 Direct Link
Without newspapers the internet is vitally important. Of course in 1992 when I first came to China, there were no such luxuries. We only had, what today is called, ¡®snail mail¡¯. It would take a good three to four weeks to get a letter home and back. Now I am not even dependent on them for my news, I just look up the newspaper on the net or listen to the BBC via the computer. It seems a whole world away.

Stopping to think how the early explorers, travellers and overseas workers got on even without mail, boggles the mind.
03/20 Direct Link
Spring is a wonderful time. It has days that are gloriously warm and nights that are comfortably cool. Dressing for the temperatures and keeping the home reasonably warm are the prerequisites. Students of course, don¡¯t see it that way. They will dress as for winter until there is a guarantee that there will be no more cold days and then they will change to summer clothes. This comes from the fact that most of them come from homes where there is either very little heating or none at all. In the school we are civilized, we have good central heating.
03/21 Direct Link
How good it is when you meet someone who knows more than you do. Especially when that person has a heart for the same things that are in your heart. So I spent this afternoon learning about the teaching of phonetics. I knew a little about it but he knows much more. He was very willing to give me information about web sites, books and how to teach the method. Now I will set about preparing next year¡¯s lessons in the new way. It should be very exciting. It will be very exciting. I can¡¯t wait for September to come.
03/22 Direct Link
It was still dark when I awoke. There wasn¡¯t a hope of getting back to sleep. It was beyond understanding. Yesterday I did not sleep in the day so I should have been tired enough to sleep through to the alarm.
Finally it was 5:30 and I decided to get up. Immediately it became clear. The heating has been discontinued. In bed I got cold and that is what woke me. Tonight I will use the electric blanket.
It should have gone off on the 15th March, but because of the cold snap it was left on a little longer.
03/23 Direct Link
Spring! What a joy to see the trees budding. After the long cold winter there are now tiny bumps on the branches of all trees and a hue of light green is covering the whole area. To walk among such beauty it really takes the mind to wonder how a plant, can suddenly come back into active life. Who tells the bark to give way and let the tender shoot of leaves through? Who is it that guides them to the spot and then helps them to break forth so that the tree is covered.

I do believe in God!
03/24 Direct Link
There was a degree of skepticism. I know that exercise is good and used to go to a gym whenever there is one available. However the claims in the book seem to be a bit over the top. Still, what did I have to lose? So I set to it again to do the ¡°Strong Women Stay Young¡± set of exercises. It is not a huge commitment; 20 minutes twice a week. Two months later I walk up to the classroom on the third floor without puffing. Follow the instructions and there are things that are able to be believed.
03/25 Direct Link
The month slips by and there are so many things to be done. There is the usual work load and then there is the going into town to see whether it is possible to get another job in this city for the next school year. It is interesting to walk into a school and just go and see the people concerned. They are all focused on getting people from overseas, and here is this teacher, right on the spot, here, now, willing to work for them, at least making enquiries. I will see where I go in a few weeks.
03/26 Direct Link
How awful it is to disappoint someone. Those dear students came around after class to do the cleaning as they do each week, just for some pocket money and to help their teacher out. Today I was not there, a very rare occurrence. Knowing that I do like to get my place cleaned, they returned an hour later when I had just got home and realized that I had forgotten. Oh, they thought that I had had an extra hours class. There wasn¡¯t any need for that when I had let them down. But they did. How generous of them!
03/27 Direct Link
The cloth is beautiful. It wasn¡¯t cheap either. It is an attempt to have the favourite skirt copied so that the style will still be able to be enjoyed. Is it really good to hold on to favourite styles, or should we move to embrace today¡¯s styles? This, I suppose depends on how you would answer the question of whether fashion is more important than comfort. For me it will be comfort all the time, so I guess I will hold on to the style that I really like. Now to find a good tailor who will copy the item!
03/28 Direct Link
Colour is such a wonderful thing. Who tells the flowers which colours to put forth? Who told the rape seed plants to be sunshine yellow? Who tells the trees what colour blossom to produce? It is the tremendous range that makes our life so enjoyable. No matter where we go we see colours. At work, at play, in transport and in shops. At home and at the gym. In school and even in the loo. We generally take all that colour for granted and do not even notice the beauty that is there.

My godson does not see ANY colours!
03/29 Direct Link
Culture shock can hit people at any time in any place. The latest, after all these years was at the hairdressers. With limited language it is necessary to use gestures and drawings. She understood my meaning and was sure that it would be done the way I wanted it. I doubted but she insisted so I allowed her to get on with the joh.

Job is finished. Does my hair look like I had envisaged it? ¡°The difference between a good and a bad hairdo is only a matter of time¡±. In the meantime I will look the other way.
03/30 Direct Link
OK! Who stole it? Who is the thief?
This was my question in class this morning. All looked at me in surprise and wondered what accusation I was labelling on them. It is because we have had a week of absolutely glorious weather and it is has been a joy to be around and outside. Then yesterday it changed and we are back into long underwear and heavy parkas to keep warm. It is raining and the cold goes through every fiber of your body. So all I wanted to know was who stole our spring?
Then they all laughed!
03/31 Direct Link
The end of another month. I have achieved it three times. However there is extremely sad news. The computer has so many problems that it is taking me hours to get this onto the web site. It is not proper to use so much of my time just in downloading my entries, and so it is with a sad heart that I have to put a pause to the joy of writing for this project. However, all is not as black as it may seem. A new computer must be around the corner somewhere, just don¡¯t know which corner yet.