TheBlogcast – Episode 7 (repost) – June 30, 2009

A Canada Day show.  All Canadian bands/artists.  Some recognizable, some iconic, and some that you might barely remember.  On the bright side, no Justin Bieber.

 

TheBlogcast – Episode 5 (repost) – June 5, 2009

Another re-release episode of TheBlogcast as I lead into the show’s relaunch.  It’s a bit dated.  Microphone audio is better.  Plus, I think I was still trying to find my “voice.”  Listen at your own peril.

TheBlogcast – Episode 3 (repost) – May 9, 2009

As I wait for my new mic to show up, I’m beginning the process of reposting all my old episodes of TheBlogcast™.  I apologize for the sh*tty microphone audio on this episode.  It was before I actually had a solid condenser mic.  They do get better along the way.  For the most part.

The gatherers.

I want you, the reader, to consider something.  Have you ever questioned, or even wished, that immigrants would learn how to join into Canadian/American society instead of congregating together within their own cultural/ethnic groupings? I’ve been guilty of this transgression.  I’ve also seen many of your Facebook feeds, so don’t try and deny that you have as well.  Hell, some of you are would openly stand behind these thoughts instead of doing the polite Canadian thing and just think about it to yourself.  At least you’re honest about it.

Now that is all said, I want you passing that judgment on to me and pretty much 99% of the expats that I meet here in China.  The majority of us English speaking white folk only hang out other English speaking white folk (there is a large disparity between white and non-white English speakers, but that’s a whole different topic).  Sure, we may befriend a couple of locals, but even when we do we are speaking English instead of learning the local language.  The hypocritical nature of us expats teachers probably doesn’t even occur to us.
So now that we’ve made it clear that I am guilty of this crime, I can also honestly comment on why it happens.  The reason is quite simple really.  In order to avoid the loneliness of being the other, we seek others on the outside of the majority.  The human species is lazy by nature and seeking out others who are similar is far easier than trying to join the majority.  Even if we do speak the same language of the majority, we are also the physical minority– a minority that stats out in a visually homogenous country such as China.  Regardless of speaking abilities, expats will always be the other here.

Applying this to Canada, I am almost certain that the process is the same there.  Children and grandchildren will adapt as first and second generation Canadians, while the landed immigrants will do the hard work of trying to establish themselves economically.
One of the benefits of being a traveler is that it opens the eyes and presents opportunities to alter pre-conceived notions and biases.  It’s these kinds of thoughts that pass through my head when I have a ten-day staycation.

Goosebumps in sub-tropical weather.

Like many, I enjoy a pleasant surprise.  I’ll back up a little bit.

I was trying an exercise with my students where an audience benefits from watching an actor practice while giving them chances to make suggestions, meanwhile the actor gets the chance to have someone see them perform and receive feedback.  My approach was a bit of a flop.  And by a bit, I mean that if I had been sitting in that class, I would have spent my time been trying to memorize pi to two hundred decimal places.  It was brutal.  After the break, I altered the approach, and it made the process much less… painful.  That’s not the pleasant surprise part.
After the exercises, they were to apply everything that the exercises covered and apply it to a monologue–and perform it.  Specifically, they were applying changes of pace in movement, speech, and change in vocal tone to create emphasis and meaning.
And they performed.
Despite the fact that these were second language learners; despite having a drama class twice in one day; despite the fact that this was their last class on a Saturday afternoon; the performers nailed it.  Even Brad (an alias), who although has a solid technical knowledge of English, has some fairly significant pronunciation issues.  The performance of his monologue was entirely unexpected, as he completely changed the direction of what we had discussed.  I had goosebumps.  It was probably one of my happiest moments in teaching.

I gots paid this week.  Why so early?  I’m guessing because October 1 is the beginning of the Chinese national holiday.  A holiday where I will have no classes for eleven days.
Yes, I said eleven.
Now, it’s not the fact that I got paid or that I wanted to gloat about a holiday after only one month of teaching that I want to get into.  It’s more about what happened after the fact.  I am now officially hooked on mobile payment systems.  I’ve talked about them before.  There are two her, WeChat Wallet, and Alipay (a service provided by Alibaba).  With money in the account, I figured it would be appropriate that I give TheWife™ some cash.  My first instinct was to go to a bank machine.  We both headed out to a local supermarket and I figured I’d stop by an ATM on the way back.  We were wandering around the store when it dawned on me that a trip to the ATM was no longer necessary.  First, from my phone, I topped up my Alipay account with some cash.  I then asked TheWife™ for her phone.  “Why?” she asked.  “Just give me your phone,” I replied.  I opened up her Alipay app, scanned her QR code with my phone, and passed the money over to her account.  Mission accomplished.  I gave her back her phone which happily displayed a more significant balance then the zero in which it was just moments before.
While there are certain aspects of mobile payment systems that creep me the F out, I must admit, the convenience of it is just too easy to ignore.  I hope Canada catches up soon–I’m officially over pulling out my bank card for all my transactions.  That’s so 1994 (yes, that’s when using Interac debit transactions became a thing).

I up ‘n gots me a new Johnny

Well, not quite yet.  The plumbers are installing it now.  I actually had no idea this was coming.  You see, earlier in the week, the toilet kept running on and the stopper wouldn’t seal in the reservoir.  I contacted, for lack of a better term, our property manager, and someone was sent the following day.  TheWife™ was out and about when he arrived, and I thought we communicated okay.  The problem appeared to be solved, except for a small, but constant flow of water into the bowl.  This has always been the case and thought it was intentional, as it was happening from the moment I moved in.  There were also a couple cracks in the ceramic, but I thought nothing of it.  This morning, the plumbing people show up with a new toilet.  Surprise!  The porcelain God decided that a new altar was be bestowed onto us, for delivery if its sacrificial sacrament.  There’s a downside to our shiny turd collector; it can’t collect golden showers or chocolate hostages for a couple of days.  If I need to go, I now have to run to the public toilet in my building– which is down a flight of stairs, and a half-way across the building.  I’d call this a first world problem, but for some reason, I don’t feel as though I can classify this as one of those.

Oh yeah, I also started teaching this week after a 12-year hiatus.
And yes, it went well.  I commented earlier this week that it was like riding a bike, and I still stand by that.  I fell back into the process with relative ease.  The only issues I’m having is timing vs content.  Each class is two periods of 45-minutes each.  Under and overfilling that time slot is a bit of challenge.  Class sizes vary from 12 to 22, which means that the length it takes to finish an activity can drastically change from one class to another.  I’ll get it figured out, I’m sure.
Something else I kind of forgot about was the charge to the ego that teaching can bring–which I think I’m far more aware of this time around.  I think I can thank time and experience, and over a decade of self-reflection for this.  I’ve noted before that there’s a fairly strong reverence towards teachers here, and it really demonstrated itself on Friday.
Before my classes started, a couple of classes got moved, with on being changed to 4:30 on Friday.  Fine.  Come Friday, I show up for my class thirty minutes early.  I was surprised to find one of my student’s waiting for me outside of the classroom.  We chit-chatted a little, and she told me that a lot of students might not show because of the change.  Not everyone got the message.  Apparently, they did get the message, but the messages were different by two hours.  The coordinator gave me the wrong schedule.  The interesting part about this is that not a single one of the students who eventually showed up (only eight of what should have been close to twenty), every said anything about.  Just assumed my time was right, and their time was wrong, or just didn’t want to speak up about it.  If this had been a class back in Canada, there’d at the very least be questions of what happened.  Not here.

Oh, and one last thing.  The new Foo Fighters dropped this week, and it is awesome.