&
archives

2011

This category contains 19 posts

my new iPhone 5

It comes in a nice looking box. iPhone 5. There is even an information guide and all the places in the world to contact Apple. If there was a real iPhone 5 then this would be somewhat of a clone but since there is not it is just the China iPhone 5 idea thingy that looks like an iPhone though the software is a bit lacking. I paid 300 Yuan about $47 USD in the street stall or actually table in downtown Dalian. I saw it later for 288 Yuan but what is a couple of dollars amongst friends? It says 64 GB on the box but I think it is more like 64 mg as it says no more memory after two photos. I took one with the front and one with the back camera – both are crap. Now there does not seem to be enough memory to save a phone number. But not to worry as a phone it rings loudly and the time is right whereas my Google Android phone is tired and needs replacing. It does have TV which is quite fuzzy and foreign, I will try it in Australia in December. I do not think it is getting 3G or 4G or any G though I will wait until I get to school and ask one of the locals what all the Chinese writing is about. There surely is no App Store or iPod as it shows on the box.

To activate my real iPhone I have to wait until we get to Australia for winter break to unlock it as no one can do it here – they say it is too new. But I felt trendy for five minutes and that is the purpose of a clone or, well it is not a clone, I actually have the iPhone 5. Now if I could clone a younger me I could feel trendy for even longer. The iTerrell 5 available in downtown China (the software is not up to snuff; lacking memory, short circuits, aged…).

We had a great day, riding the light rail into Dalian with about ten others from school. We went to a fabrics & textiles market; about six floors of just too much material. It was much more organized than the one we saw at the beginning of October in Hanoi. That one was a bit of a mess though cheaper and actually more interesting. I bought some wool for a suit coat and some tricked-out Asian material for the lining and for the lining of another vest. I am getting into vests as I found one of our locals who works at school has a husband who makes clothing and I can get really trippy looking things made. I bought material in Hanoi a couple of weeks ago and those vests came out good now I am going for more. I may have to wait as not only are a lot of others getting things made but too many children are having Halloween customs made for next week. Narda got a lot of material for winter clothing and she has a new dress or skirt or whatever those things women wear is called from material she got in Hanoi. So between getting some new threads and an iPhone 5 that really does little more than rings loudly which is really all one needs in a phone it was a good day.

As always we were not the only ones headed into town. My problem was I really really needed a loo and it took a long time to get to a WC and as in everywhere in China people push and shove but I am bigger than them and I had to pee and I was a bit aggro so I pushed and used my arms more than I normally would have. What is so kool here is that I can have a go at saying things to people I would never say if I thought they knew English. In the States they would just shoot me – here they don’t have guns. Not even the police, the few that are visible. Then you see the heavily armed police in American cities and you wonder which system is really working. I know the foreign press really make China look bad, maybe it is – after all they block Facebook and Twitter and my 400 videos on Youtube and that is really quite evil but I think I see more happy people here than in the States. Especially young people, there seems to be a lot of mirth and carrying on amongst them. Last weekend we took a day bike trip around our area and found a quiet fishing village. It was quite a contrast to all the construction for the million dollar French style homes going up across the street from us. And as teachers tend to do we noticed a bit of a spelling error – I tell you someone is not going to be getting an A anytime soon. We may have found a place more suitable for us than Campus Village next to the Dalian American International School – why are we living where we work? It may be a bit drafty with the cool air starting to kick in but it looks cheap and we would have a nice sea view – out there in back of us we would be able to see China test its new aircraft carrier to; like prime time journalist. And it is really only a good boat paddle away over to North Korea. I want to go over there and have a bit of a sit-down conversation with them and get some education happening.

And that is it for this week. Nothing more… just odd things like next Monday the electricity will be shut off for all of the Golden Pebble Beach area from eight AM until five PM. It will be interesting for me teaching my computer courses. Luckily it is the day I have my class in publication and we are working on morning announcements, something I started at the beginning of the school year; DAISlive, a video show we do. It is fun and the students love it. I am finding that even my EAL (English as an additional language – formally ESL, English as a second language) students who have English as a second or third language are embracing it. So far it is only played in the school but my idea is to someday have it as a WebTV broadcast. We don’t need electricity for it this Monday, just our video camera and the announcements and some stories and I have a backup battery for my computer so I can edit and have it ready to put live for the school the following
morning. We did not have electricity for a day a couple of weeks ago and my web design class made sketches and storyboards for their web pages. So all in all we don’t really need electricity. This is China, we learn to live with whatever we are presented with. Though now I am a bit annoyed that I cannot get onto Facebook or Twitter or Youtube even with a VPN; what is with that? But it looks as if my wordpress account (neuage.me) works and so does my account at blog.neuage.info and I think wordpress sends an announcement to my twitter and facebook accounts so no one can read it which is the nature of my life. I suppose having five-planets in Leo was too good of a thing; no one notices me.

Last night teachers got together and showed slides of places they have taught or lived the past few years. What an interesting group of people from Borneo to throughout the Middle East, Africa, South America, Europe and Asia teaching in international schools is really the top employment to have and we sort of wish we had started a couple of decades ago but we didn’t and though it is safe, except for the drivers on the road, here we still would like to have taught in some of the places other teachers have. I think any teacher who had taught in the States and had taught in Libya, Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, or across Africa would never go back to teaching in the States I know we couldn’t or back to teaching in Australia either. We signed up for the teacher’s conference in Bangkok for next March this week – the start of spring break, so once again we will meet international teachers from around the area. Any one who is young (under 60 I think is young) teach in an international school and your life will be changed. We barely watch news from the States anymore – is anything of interest going on there, really?

Narda moved her blog from blog.narda.us as she was unable to update it to http://blog.travelpod.com/members/nbiemond

What happened to capitalism and what happened to communism?

At first we thought it would be a luxury hotel. Then someone said it was going to be a winery still others said a display home. Whatever was going up at such a rapid rate was looking quite interesting. It was going to be kind of French as there is a large development going on across the street called ‘Chateau de Bourdeux’. By the large scale developer Haichang Land Limited. They were over in Paris at a wine festival recently pushing our neck of the wood’s wines.

It was all a mystery until today when after two months of watching this thing being built it looked rather complete and we decided to have a look-see. The person at the front door of the mini-castle, built in a few months, was very friendly and invited us in. The fact he could not speak much English and our Chinese has yet to kick in did not matter. It also did not matter that we looked pretty scruffy. I had not shaved for a few days as it is Sunday and I slum it on the weekend and Narda was not dressed for a party either. We live in Campus Village across the street and have been watching the building from our window.

We really did not expect what we saw. It was like one of those USA Michaels arts and crafts retail chain store had dumped all their most tacky plastic stuff into one place for a showcase; Michaels on steroids. In the main area of the showplace thingy there was a pretend bar where we were served coffee. Wine bottles were everywhere as well as wine barrels. They do not sell or serve wine, it is just for looks. We asked to go on a tour of a display home and Peter (his Western name) Chinese people take on Western names because us simple people cannot pronounce their Chinese names. I know this is good at school, especially in my class where there are four people with Kim for a surname and Korean names I am unable to pronounce for their given names. The Chinese names are even more difficult to say, at least for me. In our office at school, Snow is the one that keeps us surviving in this environment and Sunshine works in the front office too.

So Peter shows us around the ten-million RMB house (about 1.2 million US). It is four-story and looks as if someone read a child’s picture book of France and threw in a bunch of made-in-China things, oh wait! This is China.

They are building 700 of these homes across the street from us. These are summer homes for the wealthy, mainly from Dalian. So far, according to Peter, no one has bought one because they are too expensive. But the idea is they will be lived in for four weeks a year as holiday homes. The rest of the time our neighbourhood will be empty except for us teachers.

We wanted at least a new restaurant or pub or some shops put in but Peter does not think that will happen.

What happened to capitalism and what happened to communism?

There is a video on youtube at http://youtu.be/dTioCA7Ct44

And that is where we live – in the back to the left of Narda on the third floor facing the castle for the rich Chinese and us school teachers get to live at Campus Village but we are happy and that is what matters.

Funny that I happened to be wearing my Tour De Francetee shirt today from when we were there last year in the real south of France. Those cranes to the right of me in the back are where they are building the 700 new homes as part of Chateau de Bourdeux. Go figure!! The blue roof in back of Narda is the school’s new swimming pool. In the hills to the left is Blueberry Farm and a great restaurant we all go to on Friday after school.

A new ‘old’ French Village’ in China

The end of another week though a short one at that; a short work-week actually, with the Moon Festival school closure Monday. School as always is an amazing place to be. I had students in my after-school-activities group perform their first newscast that we aired throughout the upper school the following morning. Next week we start doing one for the elementary school too. I named it DAISlive and everyone; students and teachers alike, are onboard with great ideas and contributions. I also got a bit of a promotion to an academic technology coordinator position and though it is a lot more responsibility and I will be here for an extra week at the end of the school year whilst Narda will be going back to the States five days earlier than me, to stay with her son Chris in Atlanta and I have to be back a week earlier at the end of the summer, Narda will hang with her new grand-daughter and family in Adelaide for that week, I am excited about it all. Being an unemployed teacher back in NYC was not fun, thrown out onto the ‘you-should-retire’ heap when the US government is saying we should be working later in life; with what job? one would ask, I am most lucky to be able to use the past decades of work for this perhaps my last hurrah. Working with ESL students with a handful of English words in my computer classes is a challenge – I will go on about this in my educational blog ~ http://neuage.us/edu/blog.html

Our first cooler day after lots of nice hot days. We need to appreciate and ride our bikes as much as possible. We usually go for a bike ride in the morning before school. Everyone says winter is brutal here and goes from November until about March.

Playing the money market, again. Today the US dollar is strengthening against the Aussie dollar. In the past four minutes the US dollar has gone from .96 to .98 cents. Of course when it was worth .60 cents before the US dollar went belly up a couple of years ago we were in better stead; but we will take what we can and today we have to transfer before the US dollar dives again. It is all quite nerve racking. The China Yuan just stays the same day in day out. We get paid partly in Yuan and partly in US dollars. If only I had paid attention in math class some fifty years ago I would be able to figure out whether I should purchase soybeans by the ton in China or in the US or in Australia. Of course why would I do that is beyond reality – my favourite place to exist.

The building in our area is still going on at a frantic pace. The major project is starting to take shape – it looks like something straight out of Southern France; believe it will be a winery. The main building, looking like a cathedral has ornate sides/windows/panels all happening. And the buildings at Chateau Bordeuax across the street are starting to have some rooftop shapes that look French. We may end up with a French village across the street. Of course it will probably be empty like so much of the buildings are in China. Someone told me at the conference in Shanghai last week there were about five million migrants in Guangzhou building – with most of the buildings left empty. Here we have large housing tracks, beautifully finished with no one living in them. China has about zero unemployment because there is a building job for everyone. Of course people cannot afford them so they stand empty or investors purchase them and leave them empty. It is like they are building ghost towns. Hard to imagine there are more than a billion people in this country with so much emptiness.  Perhaps if they started building at a frantic rate in the States there would be zero unemployment too.

We are booking our tickets to Atlanta and back to Beijing then on to Australia for next June – August with something in South America after Atlanta for a week. A nice Saturday to spend money.

Here are some photos I took out of our hall window here at Campus Village this morning:

Our new winery – a touch of France here in China. Across the street this was taken from our hall here at Campus Village, Pebble Beach National Resort in Jinshitan, Dalian China

View out of the hallway window

In the distance one of many large housing tracks with few if any one living in them, this particular one is Yosemite, and we ride our bikes to there to go to the Kangaroo Bar and the Busy Bee shop which is similar to a 7-11 store in the States and Australia only with Chinese products.

Looking toward the hill where Blueberry Cafe – our favorite Friday night dinning place. On the right the blue roof over the new swimming pool

A Chinese Wedding

The Wedding! Someone else’s style.

Finally taking a weekend off from our full-tilt life. I think we took a weekend off several months ago in NYC and since then we have been on the go throughout months in Australia and now for a month in China. Today is five weeks since arriving on a Saturday morning at 2 am. We were so excited arriving in Dalian and meeting our new boss and entering our new home for the next couple of years. Since then we have had few stopping moments. It is after 8 on a Saturday morning and Narda is still asleep. I was up, as usual, before six. Every other weekend we have been off to Dalian or Kai Fa Qu on the school’s shopping bus. During the week? Well we work and after school we are off to Kai Fa Qu on the shopping bus or riding our new bikes to the Jinshitan market, or walking to Golden Pebble Beach in the morning before school. It is not just us, half of the teachers are where we are too. Last night we walked the five-minutes over to the Blueberry Farm. The food is really very good there. It came out to be about $12 USD for Narda and I with about seven dishes, about one vegetarian. The eggplant and sweet potato are my favourites.

The exciting new news is that we have found out what a big project going up across the road from us is. We have been watching a few French-type buildings go up and it does look like southern France. This is across from the large development called ‘Chateau de Burgundy’ which I spoke about in my previous blog http://blog.neuage.info/?p=34 it is a winery that will be selling wine from the new Golden Pebble Beach Grape Valley vineyards, just a bike ride away. This will surely make the school day end that much more pleasant. Actually we found an Aussie pub, The Jinshitan Kangaroo Bar, (read about it on the Dalian Expat Page)  a fifteen minute walk away on Jinshi Road at Jinshi square near Discovery Kingdom and the sprawling over the top Yosemite housing area for the Intel and other wealthy non-teacher types. Yes there is a Disney-like-theme-park just down the road along the beach from us. Narda and I will pop in someday when we need a break from whatever it is we would need a break from.

According to a blurb I found online about the Yosemite development; “The resort area is located approximately 40km away from the Dalian central city. Tourist attractions already established at the Golden Pebble Beach include: Golden Pebble Golf Club (on the top ten best in the world list), Golden Rock Park, Waxwork Museum, China Martial Arts Hall, Mao Zedong Badge Exhibition Hall, Model Art School, and the International Hunting Club”. Oh yes there is a hunting club nearby – between the constant fireworks, the 24 hour a day building across the road and the hunting club nearby this gets to be quite the noisy place. It is a different noise than New York City – I have gotten use to it, though I do wake suddenly when a lot of fireworks are set off. There is a university – an art school, a technology college (this is China’s Silicon Valley) and a fashion school – nearby and those students love their firecrackers. Another piece on Yosemite says “The “Oriental Yosemite” is the biggest comprehensive tourism project in the Golden Pebble Beach State Tourism Resort. It is created by the Dalian Luneng Realty Co., Ltd. with 15 billion Yuan investment. A few days ago, another two projects were started. They are the Golden Pebble Commerce Centre and the Golden Pebble Ocean Hot Spring.” 15 billion Yuan is 2,349,580,000 USD, so it is nice to know they are spending some money on housing in our neighbourhood.. There is a bigger project than Yosemite nearby and I will put that into a video I am doing of this area soonish.

Other news: I got a soy milk maker for my birthday – and even though the instructions are in Chinese somehow I got the thing to make me a cup of milk from a cup of soybeans – seems like quite an effort but I know it is not going to have lots of other stuff in it. Another item to add to my tofu site at http://tofu.neuage.us  It was more than thirty years ago when I started making soy milk and from that, tofu for eight years, in Adelaide and now I am in China with my little soy milk maker all these years later. Tonight I am bringing tofu burgers to our neighbour’s birthday bash.

School is great – I will have some news about stuff regarding that in a couple of days. I am writing up on my educational blog http://neuage.us/edu/blog.html later today or tomorrow or sometime soon.

Life is so different here at Campus Village. We seem to have lots of instant parties. Someone’s birthday and we swarm – beer is so cheap (though I am told not very good) here. Tonight it is actually a planned party, and I am making tofu burgers – seems I am stuck in my ideas of anything new. I never lived in a college dorm but I am told life in them is similar to this; a cross between a college dorm and a timeshare apartment. It seems we are on a permanent holiday.

This blog is not really about all that is above. It is about the wedding we went to last Sunday. Our first Chinese wedding. Aside of leaving Sunday morning on the ‘shopping bus’ to Dalian at 7.30 Am when all we wanted was a big sleep in we were most entertained. The groom was one of our IT staff. The first part was having a toast in the couple’s house. Marriage in China is a long drawn out event. They were actually married two months earlier, but the presentation or whatever it is – like coming of age or something was last Sunday. First of course was the fireworks – I will start my video off with that, which I hope to post tonight in between parties – after all we have that dorm-type of life with stuff always happening in our building. The teachers all live in this building, and the administration and couples with children live in the next resort like building. We have two floors of living, then the lobby and a restaurant and in the basement, the gym and recreation room. Like all couples here we have a two-bedroom apartment, so when you come to visit we can put you up; single people either get a one-bedroom apartment or a loft. People tend to not like the lofts; they are two-story with an open floor plan. I think if I was single I won’t mind, especially if it was in Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, New York City or wherever there was a city. We are out in the country, about an hour from Dalian or half an hour to Kai Fa Qu which is a city-suburb and fifteen minutes from Jinshitan but Jinshitan  is not really an expat type of area. There are about 16 apartments per floor here at Campus Village and I think only a couple of them are empty. There is a guest apartment for when one of us need a place to put visitors – in-laws and people like that (down the hall and not in our apartment – just kidding mum/dad). There is a huge shopping mall being built not far away so that could make shopping easier though we prefer to go to the local Jinshitan market and haggle for already cheap as can be fruit and veggies. Then before long there will be the new city they are building, supposed to rival Hong Kong they say. There is a model of it which we keep meaning to slot in time to go see that is really quite impressive. With the new city there will be the new China movie industry headquarters. They have been building the infrastructures for years with huge freeways (everything done in China is huge) and lots of land clearing including the leveling of three large hills that I spoke of a few blogs ago. It will rise up between Kai Fa Qu and where we live here at Golden Pebble Beach. There will be a world-class yacht arena too. I think we are mid-way through a ten-year plan for that.

After the fireworks the groom comes in then the bride all dressed in drag (no not New York City drag) but wifey just married drag (OK so that could be NYC too). Then lots of stuff is said in Chinese. There is a table with bowls of fruit and a plate of cigarettes – they love their cigarettes here. And some stuff is drunk. Then a little boy jumps up and down on the couple’s bed – this is too bring good luck and a male child, then they throw nuts on the bed, not sure why, but perhaps that too is in hopes of a male… then flowers are tossed on the bed and well us males from the school kept our hands to our self, and then the couple closes the bedroom door for a while and us male teachers as well as most of the female all have our thoughts and try to keep them in check. The parents have a bedroom too as the trip here is that the parents get together and buy a new apartment for the couple and I think when they get old one set of them gets to live with the kids. Not sure how that works out, perhaps they throw dice or arm wrestle to see which couple gets to do the old age thing with the couple. It all seems quite awkward with this one kid policy they have in China.

At some point we all take off the slippers that were given us when we entered the apartment and head out to the bus and go to the reception. The reception was in a huge banquet hall with about eight people per table. I end up with about four other couples from our school and we just were plain silly. The beer was flowing and so was something that was about 60-proof, and it was only ten in the morning. There was lots of food and of course a plate of cigarettes on the round thing that the Chinese love to put on tables and that us westerns just spin around. I guess I broke the silly barrier when they put the lone chicken head on the plate on the revolving table and I stuck a cigarette in its mouth and sent it for a bit of a spin. It is in the video – you’ll love it. I also like the part where the bride-chick comes around and puts a chocolate or a cigarette in each person’s mouth (though she missed the chicken). That too is in the video. Overall we were there for several hours and got home late in the afternoon wishing we had another day to the weekend.

Today, Saturday, Narda went off to Kai Fa Qu shopping and I had a day home puttering around. She came back with a printer/scanner, lots of food and bags of stuff. It is still hot here though I think it will cool down soon.

Narda will be writing in her blog tomorrow, forgot what but I know she has said a few times of the past couple of days, “I am going to write about that in my blog”, so don’t miss that at http://blog.narda.us

Next Thursday I am off to Shanghai for a few days for an IT conference and Narda is taking a four hour drive with several of the women here to some really cool city north of here for a few days. It is a long weekend, with Monday some sort of national holiday. A lot of the people are going north to Dandong where the China-North Korea Friendship Bridge is. I really wanted to go but couldn’t fit it. It is only a couple of hours away so Narda and I will go up in the near future for a weekend.  And that is all from here for today.

Dalian Days and Dalian Nights

Three weeks? I thought it was just a few days ago that I wrote a bit of a blog. It has been such a full-on section of life with non-stop everything. I look out the window and see (and hear) the 24 hour a day building across the street with eight cranes in one area and several a block away along with jack hammers, lines of trucks, and just so many workers and just like life in China it just does not stop. On the way to nearby Kai Fa Qu, Dalian counted 41 cranes working on buildings in the 25 plus story range – apartment buildings, then I saw as many a few kilometers further. And there is the new city they are building nearby that will not only host the new China movie industry but will have a yacht marina and housing for zillions or so people. The area across the street from us will be million dollar homes (yes this is China) in a walled-in area called ‘Chateau de Burgundy’ and a block away what they are building is identical to where we were touring a year ago in southern France. It is even being built to look old. french chateau next to Dalian American International School
french chateau next to Dalian American International School

As I sit here trying to get caught up from the past three weeks I hear the fireworks. It is 6.30 AM Sunday. This is China – fireworks and more fireworks. They love their fireworks. Anytime of the day or night there will suddenly be a barrage of them. Whether here in the countryside, or in downtown Kai Fa Qu or along Golden Pebble Beach, downtown Dalian, or where we shop locally in Jinshitan (which is also Pebble Beach – go figure) there will be smoke and ashes and noise of the fireworks.

The water to Pebble Beach (Dalian Golden Pebble Beach National Resort is the first National Resort approved by the State Council of P.R China, the main function of which is for hosting foreign guests) was turned off for a couple of days. We filled our bath tub and every bucket we could find but since it was Friday we decided to go into Dalian City (about an hour away) for the weekend when school let out. Two other couples went with us. We took a car in (our driver we call Jack, not that we know who Jack actually is, we just all have Jack’s phone number on our phone and we ring Jack wherever we are and a car soon arrives and we are taken where we want to go. It is often a different driver each time. We just go up to the car and say Jack? and they nod and off we go. We try not to look out the window when in a car. It is the scariest thing you could imagine. Where there are three lanes marked, ‘Jack’, or the shopping bus, or whatever we are in, often makes a fourth lane. Drivers rarely signal and everyone goes really fast, beeping horns and coming so close to constant disaster. I had to go into Dalian for some medical stuff last week and my driver was easily doing close to a hundred coming back – it was a van. We came to a blocked area of the freeway so instead of patiently (there is no patience in our neck of the woods) he made a sudden turn off the freeway up a dirt construction road around a hill and got back on the freeway further up where there was no traffic jam. It was absolutely terrifying. Oh, and he was on his cell phone most of the time. I suppose he felt he had to have me back at school as quick as possible so I won’t miss any work. And of course there are no seat belts.

So this past Friday, with no water into our building or the whole area we went into downtown Dalian. Outside of too many dealings with government officials to get my working visa finally through we had not been in Dalian, except for one night we had a school trip to Brooklyn, the expat pub and pizza diner in downtown Dalian. Once our driver fought his way through the heavy traffic going into the city (we went in two cars for eight of us, four couples, and six of us ended up at the same hotel) and dumped our bag in our rooms we went out in search of a meal. Our Chinese lessons begin next week so for now we depend on our electronic translator. We went into a restaurant that covered several stories. When we made enough gestures to prove without any doubt that we were starving we were sent up to about the fifth or sixth floor. After being herded into a small room the food started coming out and we cooked it in boiling somethings on our table. I have a video (and photos) that I will post soon on my Dalian Page http://dalian.neuage.us/ that shows what would be too difficult to explain. Needless to say the food was really good and we had some of the best laughter up to that time.

So after dinner everyone seemed to be in the mood for a drink (it is difficult to keep people over 55 from partying) and we went off into the night. Near our hotel was a 30+ story hotel with a name very similar to ours (so we initially thought we had booked into the wrong place) and we were riding up and down the elevator
looking for a pub type of area and on the fourth floor saw a sign that seemed to mean a place to have a drink. We barged into a room that had a bar and lots of alcoholic bottles on the shelf only to instantly be met by about a dozen women with tight red dresses. Realizing that we must be in the wrong area we looked into another room with the same response. (I have a video of this too but I think we were laughing so hard – damn rude Westerners, that it may be a bit shaky – it will soon be on my Dalian page in the video section). The third room seemed better as no women in red tight dresses greeted us. We sat down at a long table on comfy sofas and hoped that someone would soon be in with the drinks menu. Instead two people came in and started handing out microphones and put on the large TV screen, we realized then that this was actually a karaoke bar/room and Shawn, one of our traveling mates/teachers/new found friend, said that we had a friend downstairs waiting for us and off we went into the night again. We never did find a place to drink. Like pirated DVDs prostitution is illegal in China and like pirated DVD’s they are everywhere. We saw girls with flashing neon badges dressed to the nines and signs that read ‘sex’ with large arrows.

The next day, Saturdaywe headed to Zhonshan Square and had lots of fun shopping, hopped on a falling apart bus because we were so tired to go to the Ikea store outside of downtown Dalian. We showed the driver an Ike shopping bag and he held up three fingers so we paid the three yuan (47 cents USD, 45 cents Australian) and as all drivers he made his own lane which in our case was the opposition direction lane. Somehow he squeezed back into the lane that was our direction as cars came racing toward us and next we knew there was Ikea. I wanted to go see the aircraft carrier that China is building which is only a few blocks in back of Ikea but with all the bags of stuff we had purchased and five tired old people trailing behind me it was not going to happen. We ended up just buying lots of Swedish food because we need a change from Chinese food and then Narda and I went to the Decathlon sports store next to Ikea and bought really good bikes and helmets an locks and etc. which will be delivered in a couple of days. Hopefully we won’t get killed ridin our bikes on these incredibly dangerous road ways. We plan on doing lots of riding. Then we took the light rail, so crowded that we barely got in – New York City subway you hold nothing on a crowded Chinese tram.
[dudes with hats]
our new red-star hats

The shopping bus leaves Campus Village (where we live) on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday morning. It stops in Kai Fa Qu on the way into Dalian. We use to go in during the week but after a day at work we just go in on Saturday to Kai Fa Qu. Two weeks ago we walked the hour hike to the light rail that starts in Jinshitan (there is a planned station for our school but it may be another year or two before it happens) and took the 4 yuan half hour ride and fortunately got a seat in and after buying way too much stuff we took the shopping bus in the afternoon back home. Home is great. It is like living at a four star (five star for China) resort/hotel. We are sparsely furnished but it is OK– our heap of junk we shipped from NYC won’t be here until October. We have a two bedroom apartment with a balcony (there is or will be a video in our video area of my Dalian site) for some photos see http://dalian.neuage.us/photos/Aug%2012%202011/ (sorry about the URL will fix it sometime). We have a gym on the first floor, it is not the New York Sports Club which I took a liking to for the past five years but there are some machines and heaps of free weights so I get to stretch and groan every day. Then there are the guards. Not sure why. It is safer here than most places we have lived. The whole property, Campus Village and the school have a large fence all around and there are guards at every entrance and every building. Twenty-four hours a day. They are not the doorman they are guards usually dressed in army uniforms. Whether they are protecting us or being sure we do not suddenly move out I am not sure but they are friendly and we have learned to say ni hao (hello) but I said hee haw for the first couple of weeks – probably means something not nice.

Narda and I found a small shopping area twenty minutes walking away. It is so local, and so cheap. We both got haircuts for 15 yuan – about $2.50 both haircuts look quite Asian.

School so far is great. After teaching at the NYC Charter school, Ross Global Academy (the Courtney Sale Ross, widow of Steve Ross, the former C.E.O. of Time Warner, experiment in education which was closed down by the city of NYC for its momentous failure) this is such a contrast. The kids are behaved, want to learn and we are having a great time. I make big mistakes such as asking if anyone could speak Korean as my student was not following me at all only to be told by a Korean student that ‘he is Chinese’. And names? Forget it. Most of the Asians have taken on names like Tony and Oscar. Our life-saving secretaries, Snow and Sunshine keep things rolling. I still have not had time to set up a VPN so I can get on Twitter and Facebook and post my new lots of video on youtube but I have an eighth grade student who has found a Japanese VPN that he is setting up on my machine. I have several students whose parents work for Intel nearby. Campus Village not only houses the teachers for DAIS but for the big overseas companies that are moving into this area which is kind of a Silicon Valley of China. They live in townhouses and we live in apartments so there is a difference but we are not complaining. Narda likes having a maid and getting our house cleaned and clothes washed and ironed but I am not sure – though it is cheap, it seems a bit unnatural to me.

The building around our area makes me dizzy but in the midst of it all, across the road, five minutes away, is the Blueberry Farm. A very large area with a pub, tea rooms, lake, streams and a great restaurant. Nine of us trekked up to the restaurant a couple of Fridays ago. Nothing was in English, fair enough, this is China. I managed to get across I was a vegetarian and the first eight or nine dishes that came out were so amazing, some of the best food I have ever have had. There was so much food, and beer, and soda and at the en it came out to about eight dollars USD each. I have a couple of photos http://dalian.neuage.us/photos/BlueberryFarmDAIS/ and will put a video soonish in the video area of my Dalian page.

We rarely watch the news. There is just too much going on here. We get about 35 channels, mostly Chinese but we do get HBO, BBC, CNN and an Australian channel so I have gathered some of the males over to watch Aussie Rules Footy. It looks pretty grim in the States. I know we have lost about 15% on investments in less than a month and we have no intentions of selling houses. We are becoming quite removed from the rest of the world and we are happy with that. We have a two year contract which we may or may not renew or maybe they won’t want us. It does not matter now. We feel like we are on a holiday and life is just great. We have begun planning our trip to Hanoi for our October week break. Everyone here, being from the States, or in our case, Australia-States, the talk of travel is the number one conversation (after the academics of course – hey we are working) and where everyone is going is compared and shared. We are off to Australia for Christmas than to the ice festival in Harbin in January and maybe India for spring break then the States for a couple of weeks for summer than on to Australia then back here. I am so happy I managed to stay alive this long. There were some very rough years and for now life is great.

Well Narda is off with some ‘girls’ to get a foot massage in Jinshitan. They have rung ‘Jack’ and several cars are on the way to collect them. Me? I am finally having a bit of time to myself, think I will work on so many dozens of videos I have started and perhaps do some lesson planning for next week and edit some photos, go to the gym, take a walk, take a nap – it has been such a full-on three weeks, make tofu burgers for din din and try to figure out how to use my soy milk maker that Narda bought for my 64th birthday eleven days ago.

Next weekend we have been invited to a Chinese wedding so that will be fun. Apparently it is a good thing to invite or have westerners at a Chinese wedding and these are big events here.

Narda has a great blog – well she has posted some and more is waiting to be posted after her foot massage today. blog.narda.us
tri color city in Kai Fa Qu
just a pub in Kai Fa

My China Links

I grew up surrounded by bits and pieces and stories from/of China. Clifton Park New York in the 1960s  was/is a long ways from anywhere.

Clifton Park New York

route 9 & 146 Clifton Park NY. Now there is a shopping centre here.

I left ‘the farm’ when I was about 16 or 17 – there was a blurring effect toward the end of the 1960s. Firstly I went to Orlando Florida then Key West then New Orleans then San Francisco for the summer of love and New York City in between then on to Oregon and to Hawaii, and on and on with so many places and memories between then and now.

Growing up in upstate New York I heard the stories of my relatives who were missionaries. Some in Cambodia and Viet Nam and some in China. I still have a suitcase of silk robes and bound-foot wear from the 1930s before the missionaries were shown the way out of China.

We have been packing all year – that is eight months. Firstly it was our house in NYC and sending a 7X6X5 foot crate to Dalian and leaving a house of furniture then renting it out. Then there were the two houses in upstate New York with more stored stuff and now rented out so we can forget those belongings for the time being. In a long round-about route we ended up in Clifton Park in 2002 to look after my father who lived to three months short of 102 for four years before grabbing some teaching gigs in New York City for these past five years.

But it is here in Adelaide, South Australia where I lived for twenty-years the largest pile of the past has lived. A shed full. Now that the in-laws are in their 80s and moving into a smaller home we had to move our shed of crap to Narda’s son’s house in the hills.   There were more than one-hundred boxes of the past and in one was the passport of my aunty from my childhood who went to China – in the 1930s. Now we are going to Dalian China for two years, not as missionaries – well missionaries of capitalism I suppose, but as school teachers. We have been to China four times in the past: Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. We never thought of living in China, we had planned to move to India but all these years after living in a house with a lot of items from China we are off to there in six days. I will take my aunty’s passport with me and perhaps leave it in China. I have spent a few hours on this chilly Saturday 23 July reading about missionaries in China in the 1930s. An interesting study but sorry mate and my family’s past but I left those beliefs behind back in the 1960s except for a seven year period (1969 – 1978) in a cult order that I would like to leave further behind than Clifton Park. 

My aunty's Chinese passport 1934

My aunty's Chinese passport 1934

passport 1934

Just another American to China My aunty's Chinese passport 1934

colour

For decades I could not understand why fashion houses were not beating down my door for advice and why Narda for so long has thought (and mentioned) something about my colour coordination not being up to snuff and today my doctor said I was colour-blind. Something about not seeing stuff in the blue-green spectrum. I always thought those two were two shades of gray– blimey.

Integrating technology within a new environment

Integrating technology within a new environment has many facets.

1. What is available:

hardware, software, knowledge of staff, time to learn and integrate more, finding commonality – this can be the largest task; one favours Mac or PC, Android, Ubuntu, Windows, Open Source, Microsoft, Adobe, laptop, Zoom, iPad, Blackberry, Firefox, Opera, Explorer, Open Office, Safari, Flash, and on and on. I have hundreds of programs on my computer, I have hundreds of video servers and web servers. I have highlighted a few that should be useful in a school environment at http://neuage.co/tabor

2. Keep from over/under whelming others –

this is first and foremost with integrating technology.

3. And all those social sites –

I have more than fifty I subscribe to (see http://neuage.org for forty or so) and blogs – again I use six main ones and a handful of others I am having a go with to see what may be useful. OK so I was adopted, and I am a Leo with five planets and my MH in Leo but even without those little annoyances I still would be investigating all this so as to be the best educator I can be.

4. The environment – China –

from being in Shanghai last week I know Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and about 25 other services I have tried are not available in China. I will look at building our own in-house social media site as I want to have a webTV service for our school as well as collaborative events available with several schools; St. Luke’s School in NYC definitely wants to be apart of us. Skype education is good for this and I am sure we will find the best way to broadcast and set up a small webTV for our school. I will follow David Truss (http://davidtruss.com) and his blogs as he was the principal of our neighbouring school in Dalian for the past few years though now he seems to have left. But he is very much into integrating technology and having done this in Dalian will give me a lot of guidance.

That is the general stuff….

Each day that I am able to I will jot down what I am exploring/working with. I need to go to Melbourne and collect visas for China and we will be doing family things but most days I should be able to look at useful stuff. I will list each day also what web sites I have followed that day that may or may not influence my thinking in educational technology.

It has been such a hectic time

packing a crate to send to China back in NYC then dragging five overweight suitcases to Adelaide and now dwindling that down to one suitcase each to take to Dalian that I have not had much time to work on this. Plus getting renters settled in three houses; two in New York and the other in New Jersey. And of course we have to go through a shed of our stuff here. We went to New York for a two year working period and to look after my father who in his middle 90s was getting old but he lived to 102 and we stayed in New York for nine years. Now the shed of our stuff in Australia is in pretty bad shape and all that has to be sorted out but there will be time to blog on setting up technology for China.

Today – 25th June –

started this tech educational blog for China (http://drupal.neuage.us) though I will post it elsewhere probably. Going though the new Fireworks 5.1 to see changes. DAIS has Adobe CS4 but I want to do e-books (like my tofu e-book – see http;//tofu.neuage.us) and teach this to others and inDesign CS5.5, just released, should be useful for this. But today it is Fireworks I am working with and Dreamweaver CS5.5 and reading David Truss’ blogs to get familiar with Dalian.

Melbourne Again!!!

Now I am really really upset with China Eastern. It is not bad enough they have the worst food of any airline I have ever been on (and I have been flying internationally for 40 years with many airlines). As we are leaving the States for good (except for our three houses there which somehow keeps us attached) and moving way too much stuff to China and storing way too much in Australia for someday when we are settled in one place we have five overweight suitcases and several carry-on bags with us, I thought putting Leigh’s ashes into my checked-in luggage would be fine. Not only did they break open the box to see what was inside (there is a label on the box clearly stating “the remains of…”) but the box, which had also been inside a plastic bag, was left to spill all over my clothes and other articles. Since Leigh died in 2003, throwing away a successful career as a LA Dodgers’ pitcher for a girl, I have had his ashes with me. I was bringing them back to Adelaide with the thought of someday putting them somewhere. It is a traumatic thing to begin with now China Eastern has made my life a bit more difficult. Sacha has some ashes too and he does not know what to do with them. For now they are in his recording studio because he too wants to keep Leigh nearby.

It is so cold in Melbourne, a rainy winter storm night. A few days ago it was 98 degrees in New York City now I realise my winter clothes are in storage on a dock waiting to be shipped to China.

It is five AM, Narda is happily asleep probably dreaming of someplace warm and I am wide awake, shivering (they do not have central heating in houses in Australia) thinking it is 5.00 PM the evening before this morning. ‘Hey body clock get with the program.’ But it is great being here. From 1980 to 2002 Australia was home. I was poor with two children in tow  those years. I am still poor but I get to fly around now instead of taking buses. So much has changed but decades changes everyone. Back in the 1980s I had a tenth grade education (that is why my syntax is still budget often); then for some strange reason at 43 years old, that would be 1991, I thought I would try and educate myself as it was obvious I was not going to become a well loved, sought after poet with no learnin’. I applied for, tested for, was accepted for a BA program at Deakin University in Melbourne. I thought, sure, easy, two kids, a failed tofu business, almost homeless, I can get a degree. Well I worked really hard and four years later I had a BA in literature and journalism. Then I thought, hey maybe I am smart and capable and applied to do an Honours degree, did that, and went for a Masters, did that and went for a PhD, which almost killed me and took seven years on two continents, but after 14 years I had gone from a tenth grade drop out to a doctor something. So I taught at university in Adelaide and then in New York then became a high school computer teacher then a middle school computer teacher then a primary school computer teacher and then it seems I was too old for any school in the States to want me so I went and got my teacher’s certificate from Darwin University. I did that off-campus whilst living in NYC watching Narda go off to work everyday, teaching. I did my ten-week practicum at Torrens Valley Christian School in Adelaide last July – September and lived upstairs from Narda’s parents whilst she was happily teaching in NYC. Got the teaching degree then got hired by Dalian American International School, Dalian China to be the middle school computer teacher and technology integrator. I am so excited. And sitting here, shivering in the dark, so as not to wake Narda, not even 24 hours back in Australia I realise what an interesting trip this has been. Not sure why I never did well with schooling in the States and Australia I do so much. Perhaps it is because my Mercury passes through Adelaide, like if that matters.

I suppose I am not a Yank anymore. After fleeing the States of the past 9 years I am totally using my Aussie passport. Lived here 22 years, and the States 41 years but now my China work visa says Aussie. ‘Hey World I’m OK.” Yet everyone says I sound like a Yank. Just don’t get it.

Sacha is doing so well, so maybe a little bit of my parenting rubbed off. His new DVD is so good but of course it seems everyone is doing a new DVD (except me – I am just writing an e-book on tofu – tofu.neuage.us). And yes Facebook/Twitter/youtube was blocked in China but it seems my blog links show up in Twitter and Facebook even if I don’t see them in China.

This is our second home in airbnb. In Harlem we lived for 17 days in Penny’s pad, we learned a -lot about her from her photos and poems all over the walls. In Melbourne we are at Imogen Manins’ studiom http://elwoodstudio.com.au/ which is only a few blocks from Sacha’s house. From the posters on the wall we learn that Imogen, http://www.imogenmanins.com/about.htm, is a cellist with lots of awards.

Staying in airbnb places http://www.airbnb.com/ is so much better than hotel rooms.

Now it is 6.30 AM, still dark outside, mid-winter and all, and I am ready to go back to bed. But I am starving and all we have is a loaf of bread. See I am wealthy.

Shanghai Still!!!

We had a good stay at the Grand Mercure with a special interest in the loo: heated toilet seat, massage/vibrate, spray wash in various directions – dry; if this was not China (blocking youtube) and not the Shanghai Airport (blocking my uploads to my server) See the video clip, not of anything more than the toilet control box. If you are unable to view it, well you must be in China.

We popped into a cell phone shop to see how much a new Google phone would be. Unbelievable,  there were eight floors of cell phone stalls, mostly iPhones and Android – OK what is left? There were a few Blackberry stalls. The building was packed with 20-year-olds. We must have looked strange; tall, not-Chinese, old – and confused. There were hundreds of cellphone stalls on each floor. I was unable to decipher the price. I thought we would be trampled by the youth of China – all 1.2 billion of them, in Shanghai to get the latest phone on the same day we just were having a look-see.

So another flight is delayed. We are not having a good time with China Eastern and probably rarely have. The food they served between JFK and Shanghai was so bad we could not eat it. I had the vegetarian slop which I could eat, barely, but Narda’s chicken was uneatable and her scrambled eggs – we have no idea what they were but they not only smelt revolting but we both spit out the first bite. But we have learned that China Eastern has the worst flight food of any airline we have ever been on.

OK so at 8 PM (our boarding time was 7.30) not only was there no check-in people but there was no plane in sight. At 8.30 someone appeared and said the flight would probably leave at 11.55 PM. If after midnight then we would have to wait until tomorrow. My son has taken a day off from work in Melbourne to meet us. Luckily I was able to Skype him and say at this point it looks as if we will be four hours late. The last time I saw him Virgin Airline had a computer problem and I was stuck at the Adelaide Airport for twelve hours and I got to Melbourne at 1 AM. Sacha collected me at the airport but he had to be at work that morning so there was no visiting time then. I suppose I am unwittingly getting him back for all those years during his adolescence when he… well all those nights of worry….

We were told we would be fed as it was a four hour delay. Sounds good, we are starving and tired, and jet-lagged frustrated.

The ‘meal’ was a pack of cookies and bottle of water. When it comes to China Eastern and food forget it. Why do we fly China Eastern? It was about a thousand dollars cheaper than any other airliners to get between the States and Australia and after a few trips, times two people, we have saved enough money to eat a proper meal every once in awhile, and stay at a nice hotel. And the staff have been good. We know it is not Singapore Airlines and we know they are at the bottom of the world-flying heap but hey….

The workers have been good to us. For example, we ask for exit-row seats and usually get them. No other airlines does that for us as they always get some young fit looking people sitting in exit-rows ready to rescue the passengers if the plane gets into strife. Not China Eastern. They have never asked us to read the safety card, or whether we were willing to help passengers through the exit if the plane lands in the Hudson. Actually they never talk to us. Being the tallest on the plane I suppose makes us look like able candidates. We love the extra leg room and the fact that no-one sitting in front of us will push back and there is no one in front of us in the exit-row. Of course we have had some better luck on other airlines such as Lufthansa upgrading us to Business between Bangalore and Frankfurt two years ago and an upgrade to business from Seoul to Singapore a few years back; both times for various reasons such as overbooking or being late and us complaining so much.

And our luggage. Shanghai airport has some good stuff: free wifi, storage facilities (we checked in three overweight suitcases last night and headed into downtown Shanghai), free baggage carts (JFK charges five dollars for the use of a cart with no-return funds) and there are probably some other good things. Back to our luggage; five well overweight suitcases and there was not a blink, they just went through, both at JFK and at Shanghai. We were charged $130 at JFK for an extra suitcase and at Shanghai we showed the JFK receipt and they did not charge us. So all our worries of the past few months of getting so much crap to Dalian is past. Our shipment was like 800 pounds overweight and they tried to charge us an additional $600 but we managed to wangle out of that and now we have more.

When at Shanghai Airport eat in the domestic terminal. The food is reasonable, if not almost tasty, and cheap. In the international terminal the food is very overpriced. We just bought two sandwiches and a coffee for 195 yuan ($30.29 USD) and the coffee was absolutely terrible.

Announcement ‘the Shanghai – Melbourne flight has been delayed. We will announce information’ – OK that was two-hours ago.

Let me be clear, we are not complaining; love China, happy to be moving to Dalian, looking forward to seeing family in Australia, loving traveling – just keeping track as we forget stuff so easy or get one trip meshed into another. We have finally left the USA after nine years and about fifteen return trips between the States and Australia with lots of countries explored between.  Hopefully we will explore a lot more of the world over the next section of time.

I normally would write a short blog but being stuck at an airport for half a day brings out these musings in me….

Shanghai again

We left a few hours late from JFK. At one point they said the airport was closed due to rain and lightening. By the time we got to Shanghai at 10 pm 14 hours later we were pretty stuffed. Fortunately the airport has storage lockers and we were able to leave behind three large suitcases and with our remaining two we got an hour taxi ride into town. Grand Mercure hotel is listed as a five star place. The beds were so soft and it would have been a long night sleep if we hadn’t slept for a few hours on the flight over. We were in bed by one am and wide awake @ 4.30, starving. We are clock watching for when the buffet opens at 6.30.

Just returned from such an excellent breakfast, one of the best we have seen in years anywhere in the world. With a little bit of energy left and too much food inside we are headed out for a couple of hours walk and will take a nap before flying on to Melbourne tonight.

A short clip of flying over the poles;

http://neuage.us/travel/2011/NorthPole.html
Youtube is not playing in China along with Facebook and Twitter and heaps of other sites so I will post on my own.

The ‘to-do-list’

It is one of those moments when one realizes the suitcase is still ten-pounds overweight, the last-minute list has few things crossed off of it: ‘Go to Hoboken and change the insurance policy from home-owner to four young computer guys from India are renting our house’, ‘redirect mail to Australia’ which would be fine if the post office actually redirected mail. Since having redirected to our apartment in Harlem from our home in Jersey City 15 days ago we have not received one redirected piece of mail and I am now off to meet up with one of the Indian dudes who is bringing all our non-redirected mail into Manhattan to save a trip to Jersey City – though it does not save us a trip to Hoboken because our insurance company said they will not send our policy or any correspondence to Australia or to China, then that pesky ‘last-minute-list’ of Narda’s (she has been hanging last-minute-lists on doors and walls for the past 11 years, as we always seem to be packing and headed to an airport somewhere): close T-Mobile – we hate that company, return scales to school – probably because we are always over weight, not us, just the baggage – and to think the shipment to China which was like 800 pounds over weight is waiting for a ship that won’t sink to drag it over to Dalian, mail packages – that is because we are overweight so we are posting stuff at $58 per 12X12X5 inch box, book town-car for Friday, good golly that is two days away then we are off to JFK, cancel New York Sports Club – which I can’t get to today because of this damn last minute list, something about changing something with the airlines, order my vegetarian meals for China Eastern – oh no – they take out the meat and give me an extra serve of sticky yucky white rice, purchase excess luggage from Melbourne to Adelaide… and I just do not want to read on. I just wanted to go to the gym and work on my six-pack-not and biceps and those other saggy 63-year-old bits.
So what does one do when they get overwhelmed by ‘yes we are leaving the USA after nine-years, hoping renters in three-houses will behave and pay rent and not party too hard, and all those things we were going to do in NYC and the rest of the USofA and never did and all the people I was going to look up and say hi-bye to and all I did was get nine-years older with yet another to-do-list in front of me? Well what I do in these situations is work on my webpages and blogs and think OK I will give the gym a miss and this list will just get done through some cosmic virtual abstraction.

Just looked in the mirror – something I usually avoid – and saw two grey hairs – oh no! I had planned to wait until after 65 for that… This is what leaving the USofA has done to me.

145 Blocks

Narda and I left at the same time, 7.15. She got to St. Luke’s School at 8 I got there at 11.30. She took the train I walked which proves the subway is faster than walking 145 blocks.

this is a youtube clip which of course does not work in China – where we are at the moment so if below is blank with no video you are in China

And just the day before we wandered over to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, an easier twenty-minute walk from home.

Seven More Days

I started keeping track with 19 weeks to go.

We were hired via Skype whilst in Shanghai on our return from Christmas in Australia; 31 December 2010, we left New Year’s Day 2011 for NYC. When we heard those last words ‘we would like to hire you both’ we jumped up and down on our bed like children learning their parents had run away with the circus. What a way to end one year and start another one.

Being a teacher in New York City is good. Watching the City delete teachers is not good. Of course the last school I was at, Ross Global Academy was closed by the city’s education department for being about the worst school in NYC. It was not me, I only was the computer guy, it was those running the school; like with seven principals it its six year history, and the love of hiring teachers straight out of college (a cost saving) who had no experience dealing with an inner city public school or any school for that matter.

From their homepage “RGA is committed to providing a holistic education to enable students to develop a global worldview and the skills necessary for success in the 21st century. RGA prepares students to think critically and creatively, understand and respect different cultures, become leaders, use technology, live healthy lives and develop a passion for learning.

Aside from using technology I did not see the rest of their ideals happening. RGA was a battlefield. But I am not knocking RGA, I enjoyed my working there and I set up some innovative projects such as our live musical interactions between RGA and the overly talented music teacher at St. Luke’s School (oh wait that is other one off to Dalian with me to teach, who was jumping on the bed at the end of December with me in Shanghai).

Seven days from now we get the local limo out of Harlem and head to JFK for a meal or two on the way to Shanghai for a couple of days then to Melbourne to see one son for a few days and off to Adelaide for six weeks to see more of the family. Narda is excited about her grandchild which is incubating in the Adelaide Hills. We will miss that birth, November, but we will be back for Christmas with an armful of strange baby things from China.

In the past 19 weeks we have managed to reduce our belongings to one seven by five by six foot container, collected a few weeks ago and sitting near some wharf to be tossed aboard some float-able device headed for Dalian. And two overweight suitcases and a few bags disguised as carry-on camera bags for our flights. We have gotten a painter for our houses in Round Lake and a new tenant for one of our houses up there and four Indian lads in their 20s renting our house in Jersey City. I think we are almost ready to go.

Of course we still have a few stray bags and boxes which we have to either wear or discard as they just won’t fit on the plane.

After nine years in New York we are out of here.

We came for a year or two in 2002 to look after my then 97 year-old-father, who shuffled about until a few months shy of 102. Now we are headed to China. We have one week left to explore and do all those things in New York City that we may never get to do again.

Tofu homepage

Created a tofu homepage to accompany my misguided e-book desire to share not only tofu recipes but a whole lot more. Like why was I making tofu in a foreign meat-eating country to begin with. So yes there are stories, including the day a herd of cows broke through a fence and ate my tofu burger mix. There is philosophy and so much more than what to do with tofu or what I did with tofu.

Oh the homepage for this is http://tofu.neuage.us/

Harlem

like all moves, it was not easy, until it was over, then it seemed easy… by comparison. It was the lead up to moving that was the long process ~ a mere six months. A lot longer than eleven years ago when Narda helped me move out of my home in Christies Beach, South Australia on a 41 C (that is over one-hundred Fahrenheit) day and it seemed I had no concept of de-cluttering @ the time.

Eleven years later I know the concept but the reality has failed to integrate. Back in 2000 we just shoved it all in her father’s van and trailer and headed to Adelaide. Now after nine years in the States, the last three in Jersey City it was time to move on. We packed our main collectables and had a freight company pick them up a couple of weeks ago to ship to Dalian, China. I just received an e-mail that said we went over our 2500 pound agreement and now we need to pay $600 more. What??? our precious little collectables weigh more than 2500 pounds? “But dear they were just a few souvenirs I picked up along the way on our travels of the past decade

This particular move, once the 2500 pounds + memorabilia was ready to sail the ocean blue across the great Atlantic (as we wish to avoid the Great Pacific Garbage Patch) Was OK. We have rented our house in Jersey City to four chaps from India who say they will take good care of our home. They are in their 20s and computer people. Of course they will keep our home tidy. They may even have some mates come visit from India time to time – I suppose if 0001% of the 1,155,347,700 population over there are coming to visit that would be 11553 friends … oh dear!

We shoved every thing in the car including Brendan and me, dropped off the Comcast cable stuff and drove to our new apartment (for 17 days) in Harlem – a really nice place I might add. Once Narda met us we dragged our meager belongings (minus the 2500 pounds waiting its turn for hijacking off the coast of somewhere). Same day we sold the car, well we sold it two days before but the buyer needed to wait to get insurance, nerve (he has never owned a car before) and the what-nots so I was there for him later. OK he did not get all his bits and pieces on Tuesday so on Wednesday he fronted up with insurance papers, license plates and the what-nots of a proud first-owner-car owner. Of course he had not realised it was a stick shift (our almost new 1995 Honda Civic with some rust as proof we lived in the snowy northern parts of New York for years) and he had not really driven a whole lot, but he did have his driver’s license. SO I drove the first leg of the journey of one of life’s great explorations (teaching someone to drive on a crowded Harlem street). “Be sure the clutch is in (this is the clutch) when you shift gears and slowly let out…” – I think that is what I said. I explained the speeds one should be at whilst in first, second and all those other gears. I showed reverse, the blinkers and said that Narda favours having the emergency brake on when stopping on a hill. Of course I never do, I mean what is that bloody clutch there for anyway? But knowing how horrified she gets with my hill stops and she is always right (she tells me that so it must be true) so I passed on some form, howbeit probably a bit abbreviated, of the etiquette of hill stops.

Then it was his turn, Tommy, the new car owner. Blimey! We lurched and ground and stopped suddenly and took off quickly and made darting turns down one-way streets (the other directional one-way) and I told him to ignore the cars beeping in their out-of-tune fashion (now there is a job for Narda; tune up the horns of NYC drivers so that they sound…. well, in-tune, I suppose) and just get comfortable with the driving experience.

Somehow we managed to get back to our new address in Harlem. I was so in shock that I muttered something about he was doing well and it is really a practice thing until driving becomes intuitive and I thanked someone I was still alive (I was so in shock it was probably god as there was no one else around) and collapsed on the bed of our new abode. Of course then I realised I had left our New Jersey license plates on the back seat and I would have to see Tommy again. I texted him and he wrote back that he loved the car (which dispelled any lingering doubt whether there is some higher protective good force looking after the Tommys of the world) and of course it meant he got back home to his wife (she has never driven before) and their child (oh dear is the baby going to drive this car?) and that he would get the plates back. This is Thursday afternoon and I suppose I should ring and find out when these plates will arrive, but I am afraid he may have missed a turn or forgot my handbrake lesson and is at the bottom of the Hudson.

And that is this week’s move.

We get to explore this really groovy looking area of Harlem – 145th street and Saint Nicholas (the gift giving dude). I got to the local gym and of course everyone looks so much more fit than me and they play hip hop (well this is that kind of area) but I will look good by the time we leave in 16 more days, flying over to Australia with way too much stuff then on to China where hopefully some of our boxes float to shore.

Tofu E-Book Cover


Having been a tofu manufacturer for eight years in South Australia gave me some wisdom, crisis, regrets, insanity, good products, sense of success, sense of failure, and now more than twenty years after making my last batch of tofu commercially I still wonder what it was that I was doing. It was not being a single parent (male single parent at that) in rural Australia as a foreigner (USA citizen) trying to have enough money to survive, fighting in court with a mother who seemed to just like fighting in court, bringing vegetarianism to a meat loving country but there was something enjoyable about the experience. I wrote a tofu cookbook, sold tofu throughout Australia, had dozens of products, even more dreams/illusions than there are soybeans in a 50 kilo bag and somehow managed to stumble through a weird set of years. Well that was the 1980s. Now in 2011 the only thing left to do is create an ebook about tofu. A combination of recipes, stories of survival (we moved our factory seven times in those eight years from a purpose built factory in the city of Adelaide to finally ending up in a dairy shed on a farm in Mt. Compass), tips on how to make kids think the tofu they are having for dinner could be meat, and some general philosophy. After all I did earn not only a BA, but a Master’s Degree, and finally a PhD so I suppose I should have something to philosophize about.

This is my cover – perhaps a messy cover but it was a messy experience;

cover for e-book tofu again?

First Steps to Dalian

After being interviewed via Skype in Shanghai 31 December 2010 for jobs at Dalian American International School – we flew to New York the next day – first of January 2011 – we have taken the for-real step of getting there. Today, almost five months later, the shippers collected our many boxes, about 40 of them, a desk and a chest, and drove out of Jersey City to put our belongings in storage to ship to Dalian.

We have spent months sorting and getting rid of nine years in New York of accumulation. Then when we thought we were finished we were told to take out any DVDs, CDs, Videos, Tapers and hard-drives, computer parts and a lot of other things. We just spent three days doing that. Then as they were loading the boxes this morning we received a phone call saying everything had to be counted. We had labeled each box describing content such as clothes, books, dishes and etc. Now they want the number of everything: ten pairs of socks, 12 new pairs of jocks, 17 tee-shirts, and one embarrassing box says 16 pairs of shoes (that would be Narda’s, not mine). And not only that, but whether the sheets were wool, cotton, linen… good golly what are getting ourselves into?

But now the house has one empty room. The rest of the house, all three-stories, is full of furniture and belongings. Fortunately we were able to rent it to four lads from India who are happy with a furnished house. Including a lot of electric goods, a well supplied kitchen, beds, blankets, cupboards, lamps…. Then there are the two houses in upstate New York, both rented out and both with our belongings in places, like the attic, basement and even a part of a shed. We will never get out of the States. Then there are all our belongings in Adelaide South Australia and our house there.

Maybe someday we will just give it all up and be happy with nothing and teaching/living/learning in a third world country.

Now with seven days left in this house we have to get ourselves packed with what we will drag to Australia. In one week we are moving to Harlem for 17 days as we rented this house from the first of June.

Back to Dalian…. yes we are excited. I have started making a list of what I want to teach. I will get to that tomorrow. Today we managed to see our belongings begin their journey.

Move To Dalian

Five more weeks

Continue reading

got to tell ya about this

was me

wordpress stats

yesterday perhaps before