Monday, June 25, 2007

UFOs in Shanghai

Check out a project my teenage English students did last weekend... UFOs In Shanghai!!

On becoming a Geek

It turns out that "Geek" is not just a word, but a virus. Something highly contagious but at the same time insidiously unassuming. It is the type of disease that lies dormant for years- all the years that you could actually do something about getting rid of it- until the moment when it has truly caught hold of you, and then it flares it's ugly head.

About a year ago, upon not being able to agree on a dvd to watch, I said one fateful line to Phil:

"Oh, ok, I suppose we can watch an episode of your Star Trek boxed set...."

[As an aside, even as I write now, I can't believe I am confessing this.]

What then followed over next year is something I can only describe as the slippery slope of addiction. Anyone who knows me would contest to the fact that I am just not Sci-Fi Fan material, and yet somehow I succumbed. Like any addiction, I kept thinking I could stop at any time, and yet at the same time I would be waiting anxiously for Phil to come home so we could put in the next disk. Aside from the fact that he would be highly unhappy at me watching episodes without him, and therefore forcing him to play catch-up before we could continue together, I was also working on the fact that- like with alcohol or cigarettes- if you only consume with someone else then it is still socially acceptable. One could say it was like being a social smoker.

It occurred to me about 3 months ago that I was addicted. It was about the same time that someone cut me off while I was riding my scooter to work, and I swore at him... in Klingon. It was the only word I know in Klingon, but it was Klingon none-the-less.

I managed to confess the addiction to a few friends, but only after swearing them to silence. My reputation was at stake afterall. Like many addicts, I even moved on a few times to become a dealer- lending out dvds to others. I can only imagine that I will feel the guilt of their ensuing addiction for as long as I live.

However the moment in which I truly realised the insidious nature of this "disease" came only a few days ago. I had accepted that I was an addict- a 'fan' if you will- however I still did not consider myself a geek. Yet on that fateful night Phil and I were watching an episode of 'Deep Space Nine', when two of the show's characters were sitting in a small space ship (a runabout) when they noticed something strange happening:

Character 1: "A ship is decloaking directly above us"

[The camera pans out to show a huge spaceship emerging from it's invisibility cloak above the small ship]

At that moment I gasped in horror and uttered "It's a Romulan Warbird!"

[The camera pans back in to show the original characters in their small ship]

Character 1: "It's a Romulan Warbird!"

Yes, I managed not only to follow the story line, but recognise a random spaceship and then announce it word-for-word before the character on the show did.

It's official- I'm a geek.

I hope they find a cure for this disease soon, but I think sadly it will be for the generations to come. I myself am a lost cause.

PS. The blogger auto spell check dictionary does not recognise British English spelling, and yet it recognises the word "Klingon"! The disease is spreading...

A Romulan Warbird

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

bad publicity

Phil brought home a bunch of 'I-swear-I-didn't-know-it-was-pirated-when-i-bought-it-officer!' DVDs the other day. Most of the DVDs we buy here for $1 don't have the correct covers or blurbs on them so you get to see some pretty funny stuff. This one for Get Rich or Die Tryin' had me laughing (don't blame me for the movie choice- Phil has been in China for so long that he is at the point where he'll buy anything) The front cover looked authentic but on the back was written:

"A tale of an inner city drug dealer who turns away from crime to pursue his passion, rap music. This movie is horrendous. The terrific directing cannot separate the fact that this movie is perhaps one of the worst 'I sell records, why not make an album?' movies ever. He cannot act, sounds like he is reading his lines from a textbook, and his feelings range from dumb to ohmygod! The visual style of this movie acts, and the whole film seems like a horrible stereotype developed by racists (of all colors) who see inner city blacks as nothing but criminals. It is a shame that nice movies set to an African American theme flop, but movies that showcase the worst in society that affect kids do so well."

Upon googling the above review I found it was copied and pasted straight from a comment on the IMDB site for this film.

Reviews like this, so obviously taken from the internet by someone who cannot read what they are stealing, are very common on the DVDs sold here. In fact I'd say I see one of these on about one in every ten DVDs- and in fact the actual rate is probably higher its just that only half of them are written in English, the others being in French, Italian, Spanish and a lot of Russian. It sure makes buying unknown DVDs interesting!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

catch up

I know, I know: long time, no see... or no post as the case may be. But I promise I have a really good reason, or at least some semi-decent reasons which, when combined together, are very convincing.

It all started when......

[Cue chimes and a mystical flash-back fade out into the next scene...]

First, my hard drive up and died one day. I walked into my studio/office and sat down at my computer one bright, clear morning. Ok, so this is me in Shanghai and if I'm honest that last sentence should have read: I liberally sloshed coffee on the old t-shirt of Phil's I was wearing as I staggered bleary eyed into the room that contains the flotsam and jetsam of my life, at about 1pm on a polluted Shanghai day. I sat down at my laptop and thought: "Hmmm, that's weird, it's turned off. I never turn it off. Although, I really should start doing that. Oh well..." and pressed the power button.


So, dipping into my deep well of IT wisdom, I did the only thing I could think of: I repeatedly jabbed at the power button screaming "Nooooooooo!" at the top of my lungs.

Still nothing.

The hard drive is only a few months old, and so Phil said he'd try to fix it. After two weeks of me leaving my coffee cups on his desk he got sick of me using his computer and tried to fix mine. No luck. About two weeks after that he took it to work and asked the IT guy to look at it. About two hours after that it was fine. It turns out that the thingy-ma-bob in the C whatsit was having troubles with the whatsy-ma-call-it and the something-a-rather thingy-ma-jigged it all up.

Yeah, I wasn't listening.

The documents have all been saved but all the programs have been wiped. Once they are re-um-put-in... re-installed! That's it!- once they are re-installed it will be ready to lock and load. Given past history this could take either two hours or two minutes depending on who does it.

Ok, so that is one reason. The next reason is that I started a new job. My sensible shoes give it away. No, I'm not a lesbian, or a librarian for that matter... I'm a nursery school teacher.

I started looking for monday to friday work a few months ago as I am totally sick of working weekends (as is the nature of part time teaching). I got offered a position at an English school but the schedule was evenings and all weekend, though the money was great. I decided that money wasn't everything, and at this point I wanted some weekend time. I looked at few kindergartens that were offering Mon- Fri work, with 8am-4pm days. The money wasn't great, but it wasn't too bad either. However the thing that kept putting me off was that they were all very dingy, with tiny play areas and when I walked in to each one I felt trapped. I kept turning down jobs, thinking that the right one will eventually come along, and lo and behold I got lucky. Really lucky.

I have just started working mornings only at a great international school with enormous grounds and facilities. And the best part is that they pay the same as the very first job I was offered, but working half the hours, no evenings, and no weekends. Working the mornings means that I will have time to paint in the afternoons- once I recover from teaching 17 two year olds all morning!

I started last Friday, doing substitute teaching for a teacher who had to leave two weeks before the end of term, and will officially start again in August. Nursery Yellow here I come! During the summer I will be teaching a summer course for the English school I part-time for now, which will pay the bills.

In the meantime I am still working weekends for the rest of this month, and some afternoons, plus the mornings at the kindergarten. Yes, that is every day of the week. Just in case you were wondering: this fact alone explains why the writing in this post sounds like I am either on crack or haven't slept in a very long time.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Photos of my new Nephew, Cooper Jye: