Here's what has been happening in my life these days:
- In a few of my previous postings, I mentioned that our neighbors had bought a pair of chickens. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I think our chicken friends have met their demise. They have yet to be seen or heard from in the last few days, so the assumption is that they became a meal. Chicken Little is now chicken noodle soup.
- My Korean students have some quirks in their English learning abilities. They are cute as all get out (most of the time, although sometimes they do act like the teenagers that they are) and try very hard to make themselves understood. They have a habit of adding an "e" to the end of many words--for example, they are always in competition with each other and will yell out, "finished!" when they are done with a problem or an assignment. But instead of saying "finished," it comes out more like, "finishedy." So yesterday we were talking about mayors, presidents and governors and I asked my students who the Presidents of China, Korea, Japan, England and America were. Their answer for America: "Bushy!"
- I tried updating my computer at school through the Windows website. I heard there was a new update released and I wanted to download it. Would it surprise anyone that apparently the copy of Windows that I'm running at school isn't valid? At least the Windows website doesn't think so. So I can't get my computer updated because I don't have a valid edition of Windows. It really does not shock me because it is possible to buy bootleg CDs of Windows XP off the street for like 2 dollars here, just like how it's possible to buy movies that haven't come out yet in the States.
- On my way to school there are a few things that are the same every single day. I must say it is difficult to distinguish individual people here because they all still look the same to me. I often wonder if the people that we ride by every morning at the bus stop are ever the same people from previous days. I haven't figured it out yet, but I do know one thing: On one of the first corners that I ride past, there is a middle-aged bald man who is always reading the paper. Sometimes he's squatting, sometimes he's standing, but ever since I noticed him, he's always been there. Closer to school, there is a manhole cover in the bike lane/sidewalk that apparently can be removed. Some ladies from the neighborhood figured this out and every morning they do their wash on the sidewalk. They pry off the cover and lower a bucket into the sewer line/water line/I-don't-know-what-kind-of-water-they-are-actually-using-but-they're-ok-with-it, so-I'm-ok-with-it. They even drag out a stool to sit on and then they throw the dirty water out into the street. It's kinda fun to have little things be so consistent--it gives me something to look forward to each morning on my bike ride to school.
- While I'm on the topic of consistency, let me mention that we only get one English-language channel, CCTV 9 (China Central TV). The various CCTV channels are the main source of Chinese TV, similar to the public stations of ABC, NBC, CBS, etc. in the States. CCTV 9 does a half-hour news program at 7 and I try to tune in whenever possible. They mostly report on the various state visits in Beijing and major world events. It's nice to get a Chinese perspective on the world, and my favorite part is the weather, when a crazy American with a bowtie does his best to summarize the weather for all of China in about five seconds. There are two commercial breaks and the same ads run every time--I practically have them memorized now I see them so often. I didn't watch much TV in the States and CCTV 9's World Wide Watch gives me an excuse to watch a half hour of TV here in China.
- I think I have set a new record, but I don't think it is the kind of record I should be boasting about. The repairmen from school have been to my apartment five times in the last eight days. Twice last week for the air conditioner and now three times this week for my washing machine. Sunday night I decided to do my laundry at like 10.30 while I took a shower. Bad idea! My washing machine spits out the water into a hole in the middle my bathroom floor and it gets water from a tap in the wall. The tap and the hose decided to not line up right and so mid-way through the cycle, water was everywhere and I was in the midst of showering. It was a rough way to start the week. Monday they sent the smiley security guard and the cook out to look at it. They decide that it's too complicated for them and that they will come back again. On Tuesday, they both show up again, armed with the guy that fixed my hot water heater and another guy. They fool around with the machine again--complete with the guy blowing on the hose with his mouth. The hose that goes in a hole in my floor, he put his mouth on it. Then they came back today (the same entourage) and fiddled around with it for about a half hour and pronounced it fixed. I hope nothing else in my apartment goes wrong this week, I would just feel terrible if it did!
- Dessert at school yesterday was a deep-fried red bean roll...not as strange as one would think. Red beans are used in a different way here and it was oddly sweet. If Snickers bars can be deep-fried, why not red beans, right?!?
- Yesterday we had s'mores and it was wonderful. Meg's mom sent a Halloween package that included graham crackers and marshmallows. So we made our own s'mores at home. We put the marshmallows on chopsticks and used the stove range for the fire. Only in China would one use chopsticks as skewers.