Friday, December 21, 2012
So quickly to find our life is not as adventuresome as the next person to pass by. Everywhere we travel their life is so unique and interesting but we no complain. Getting on our bikes this morning to look at local house rentals; we had heard a house goes for about $400 a month and who would not want to live here? We met a couple with a ten-year old girl traveling the world for a year on bikes. From Denmark they started last July coming down through Europe and the past several months biking through Asia. The father and girl have a tandem bike with the girl in front and all their belongings for a year with them. They are telling stories about how Cambodia is the poorest of the Asian countries they had been through. They told how large areas were just huge rubbish dumps and as they rode and air-conditioned tourist buses went by they were constantly surprised at the poverty and pollution. Of course we were those tourists flying around Cambodia on air-conditioned buses a couple of years ago. I had some relatives that were missionaries in Vietnam and Cambodia and growing up in New York I was drowned with their stories of poverty in those places. This couple with the child will be travelling for a year through Southeast Asia, Australia then South America. Maybe that is what I should have done with my kids. Next time I see the travelers I will grab their blog address and put it on here knowing their blog will be so much more interesting than mine.
It is quite the change from -15 C when we left Dalian last Saturday to spend winter break in Vietnam.
Hanoi was hot, like in the high 20s and I think around 32 the first day. That is centigrade not Fahrenheit. We stayed at the Green Mango which we did not like as much as last year’s place but breakfast was good and for only a couple of nights it was not the end of the world. Actually speaking of the end of the world; we have been in Hoi An for the past five days and every evening there has been end of the world movies. Last night we watched the ending of the Body Snatchers and the night before we saw some of The Day of the Locust and before that there was some desert thing and some climate and other snuff us out on the 21st of December tales. Tonight we were are watching Hellboys and Armageddon; unfortunately, I feel to sleep half way through Armageddon though Narda said Bruce Willis saved the world by exploding a nuclear warhead into an asteroid. Thanks Bruce for letting us live to see another day.
When I was in a cult order, 1969 – 1978, there was a lot of narrative about the Mayan Calendar. One of our leaders even wrote the pope to alert him of the end times saying it was vital to sync our calendars together to prepare us for when the shit hits the fan sometime in the future; in 2012 on December 21. Then as an astrologer during the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and up until 2003 (my son committing suicide put an end to such stupid belief systems) I believed in this nonsense. So what does one do after waiting for more than 40 years for an event to happen? Well if it was not for some bloody roosters in the backyard I would have slept longer but at 6 am I sat in a sort of naked state in front of my window and posted Facebook photos of our trip so far. Outside the window another beautiful day waiting for our exploration and as soon as Narda wakes up and we have another breakfast of fresh fruit and museli we will be off into the world around Hoi Ann. I think we will rent motorcycles today. We rode bikes every day so far, four days, and my butt hurts so something more comfortable will be great. By the way, today, the 21st, the world did not end. What this should tell everyone is that we can only live in the moment that no one has ever predicted the future and no one ever will because the future is based on what we do now and what we do now is always so changeable. Oh well such as life, insecure people believe in and hang on to non-realistic teachings. The whole human race is crawling forward at roughly the same speed and no one is really more evolved than anyone else so believing that someone does is really detrimental to one’s growth.
In Hoi An we are at the Orchard Garden Homestay for a week. It had top marks in trip advisor and we have not been a bit disappointed. We have a bungalow on the second floor.
Last night they gave a party to all the guests, about 20 of us. People across from us are from Adelaide, and just a suburb away from our home at that, some New Zealanders, Dutch – lots of Dutch here; Narda being from Holland and an Australian she got to be from the two main groupings in this town, and a couple from Poland and some folks from Brittan. We had a full meal and wine. The hospitality is really good.
So I found material I liked – to replicate a shirt I saw back in October when we spent a week in Yantai; a shirt of two materials doing alternate things, a plaid panel and a solid panel with opposite sleeves and cuffs and collar.
The tie I bought at a street shop for 60 dongs, about 3 dollars. I will make a series of them – suits my thinking; swatches of patches sewn into a non-coherent form making up a whole – it has always explained me now I can wear my personality on my sleeve. Next I will go to more colour and try for three then four swatches. “Clothes created from multiple thoughts – some which even are capable of co-inhabiting.
Narda has a different approach; she is more organized and fashionable and found her fashion in the same material market that I did.
She drew out both our set of clothes so I suppose in the Narda-Terrell slumber-assisted living over 65 sort of consciousness we possess she would be the designer.
Narda found some rock-the-boat material, designed it and showed the chic chick the three layers she wanted for her over 55 party-poser win.
Of course designing and having our clothes made does not take from our –its-good-for-the-economy purchasing sprees we embrace in the local clothes and jewelry markets. Not actually sure why I found 5 new shirts and some ties in my shopping party bag when I lighted home, one flowery shirt of which Narda claims if I wear she will not be privy to my existence, has taken my fancy.
Dongs are the trendy choice here though they will take the US dollar. 20,000 dongs equals 96 cents USA. We rented a scooter for a day for 100,000 dongs – five US dollars. Travelling roads the width of a footpath we stopped at little one room houses that had a shop front for our Vietnamese coffee. We have been drinking coffee this way for more than a year since last being here. At home a spoonful of sweet condensed milk is enough; here they put a lot more. We got our little metal drip coffee maker last time in Nam and not able to get Vietnamese coffee in China we get our beans ground just right to make pretty much the same cuppa. Of course the best coffee is supposed to be Weasel Coffee or ca phe chon. The coffee beans that have been carefully selected and digested by a weasel, then used to make coffee. Yumm!
We were at dinner a couple of nights ago, the only ones at the restaurant when we were asked if we were staying for the dancing. Of course we said we did not feel like dancing we had just come for dinner. Though somehow we were transferred from our balcony eating spot to the main dining room with a stage and being the only ones there we felt most self-conscious when the dancing started – cham dance, it is the ethnic Cham people, who are from this area who do these dances though we did not have enough knowledge to have a clue what was going on. . It went on for an hour – four girls, who changed customs four times showed us four dances. Another couple came in for a drink, from Queensland, of course it is mostly Australians here, then left after one dance so it was us wanting to leave but being too polite we stayed. I have no idea what the dances were about; one they had water pots on their heads, and two they had big umbrellas and another was something about a fertility dance that they seemed as embarrassed dancing as we did watching.
I did make a good contact with a local Water Buffalo, even making a video of him that I said would be on youtube which made him most excited but I deleted it by mistake and only have a portrait to show for my efforts.
Hoi An, like all poorer places in the world sees tourists as dollar signs. It is impossible to sit at a meal or have a coffee or even walk down the street without the parade of people trying to sell beads and trinkets. It is not as bad as some cities we have been to but it does wear on you.
We did go for an hour boat ride for 100,000 dongs, again less than five dollars. The driver was the same age as me, 65, and he did look the worst for wear making me realize that our lives are probably a bit easier in the long run. Narda drove the boat for about 20 minutes. At first the driver was not sure about her wanting to take over but as most males soon realize it is usually best to give her what she wants and after a few nervous moments the guy went to the back of the boat and relaxed as we went motoring down the river, Narda at the helm.
The big way to hustle tourists here is through friendly banter; ‘where are you from?’ of course we say China and some laugh and some walk away but we are from China – it is where my drawer of socks and jocks are so that is home. The second question is ‘do you have children?’ then if we are foolish enough to say yes and start talking about them out comes the trinkets, or maybe we would like a massage, or a boat ride or usually some clothes made. Already our suitcase is double what it was when we came here and we get too much made for us back at Campus Village as it is. My most recent big garment is a cape. The talk of the school. Even the guards stop and look and second graders say I look like Batman, Count Dracula, and etc. I wore it to a school dinner and fellow teacher, Pat Herding, asked if it was Narda’s – that hurt – for a half second – but I love it. It comes down to my knees, has a hood and is wool with silk lining and even pockets inside. With the material it cost $60 US. I will take a photo when we get back and post it.
Last weekend we were in Hanoi and we are going there tomorrow for Christmas then on to Sapa on the overnight train for a few days, taking the overnight train back to Hanoi for New Years and a couple of days later back to Campus Village to work on Standards Based lesson plans. Talk about taking the fun out of education and taking away creative learning. One thing I have done is change my classroom from a table learning space to a more comfortable interactive sphere of learning. I took out desks dragged in a couple of sofas – of course without asking because administration only knows how to say no, and put a rug in and a coffee table and I have a great space. I project on the wall some clips that references our learning – I am teaching video broadcast journalism in my high school course then we have discussions, and I bring in a laptop cart of utrabooks and some kids sit on the sofa and some go to a couple of tables I have in another area of the room and we get more done than we use to. I still have to take my class to the computer lab some days for programming work because the software is only on the desktops at this time but I feel the learning environment supports a student centred learning and I still manage to integrate the standards.
In Hanoi last week we were there to hang with Narda’s son Brendan and meet his girlfriend. The weather was great. Apparently it had been cold and raining then the days we were there it was so hot. It was all good. Now we get to spend Christmas with them. Usually we go to Australia for Christmas so this will be our first one in a while not there.
I have taken heaps of video and photos but my laptop stayed home and I do not have the programs on Narda’s so I will wait until we get back to do videos and make a webpage for this trip, probably. When I do everything will be at http://neuage.us/2012/vietnam after 6 January 2013.
Ferry from Yantai to Dalian
Youtube clip at http://youtu.be/gcx5Ll4V0iY
Yantai is a coastal city on the Bohai Sea in Shandong province. It’s located in the northeast of China near Qingdao and Dalian. Total population is about 6.5 million people. Yantai port is located in Zhifu Bay overlooking Liaodong Peninsula across the sea. The Yantai Port Passenger Transport Station is at No.155 Beima Road.
Ferry from Yantai to Dalian is advertised as six but it took seven hours. It is quite basic. Not finding anything on Google or Youtube that would tell us about it we chose the 8 berth room – they also have six and state rooms. I was able to use the electricity to use my computer and the room full of Chinese was fine except for some loud snoring. Walking around the ferry is good. Well worth the ride taking the day trip. We left at 9 AM and got to Dalian at 4 PM. The 8 berth was 210 Yuan about $35 US. We got a taxi for 7 yuna – a bit more than a US buck from our hotel, The Golden Gulf Hotel. In Dalian it was chaos and impossible to get a taxi to figure out what we wanted so we hoped the first bus which eventually got us to the light rail which we took home.
The people were friendly and as usual there was always someone wanted to get into a photo with us;
The ferry terminal in Yantai.
Back in Dalian it was total chaos getting off the boat. We were herded onto a bus which ended at the Dalian International Passenger Terminal. We wanted to go to Metro to get groceries but no one could understand what we wanted so we got on the first city bus we saw. It wove around the city and we could not get a grip on where we were. We forget what a big city this is – only 6.5 million but it is so spread out and every time we go to Dalian we find new areas. Eventually we saw the train station and walked to that. After the quiet city of Yantai being packed amongst so many people was quite trying. We did get to the light rail and eventually got a seat and home by 6.30 pm. Campus Village is our home – we forget this. With the café open and we could just order a meal sent up to our apartment it all becomes so easy. I doubt we would do this ferry ride again. The toilets were shocking and the room was really crowded with four bunk beds. Narda did fall to sleep and I spent about five hours putting together photos and five videos to post on youtube.
Today is Saturday and believe it or not I am looking forward to getting back to school and the routines there.
Next trip is in ten weeks to Viet Nam for three weeks for winter break, then to Australia in February for Chinese New Years.
Monday, October 01, 2012 Dalian Airport
I am not sure whether it is our airlines; OK Airlines, or the sign over the gate we are departing from that causes concern. Not that I am concerned, this is China, what could possibly go wrong? I am sure these local flights are up to export standards. Like our shoes. We were just commenting before leaving home that we both have Rockport shoes that have really gone the distance, made in China. Narda got a pair she still wears from the Lake George, New York, outlet store ten-years ago and she has worn them in India, Viet Nam, Cambodia, tromping around France, Australia, Thailand, China and of course the USofA and they are still in good shape though she put a bit of superglue on them this morning but the leather is good. My Rockports I got at the same shop in Lake George about seven years ago and they are still good. We have bought shoes, bags and etc. here in China that fall apart quite quickly, so there must be an export quality that lasts. I am hoping the same is true of OK Airlines between here and Yantai where we are off to for the Fall/mooncake Festival holiday. The reason we are going there is because no other destination seems to be available. Narda looked at one place we had thought of going to and the tickets to there have gone from $200 US to more than a thousand dollars in the past week.
They are so polite about their air services at the Dalian International Airport (think 1980s Albany, New York, or Adelaide Airport about 1985) they keep playing this loop “we regret to inform you that flight …. has changed gates…”. Usually the regret an airline would report is that ‘OK Airlines has run out of fuel and has landed on the freeway’. But that we are going from the gate for ‘Abnormal Flights’ seems something they should be regretting.
Not to worry, we are coming back on the ferry – about 6 – 8 hours. We looked it up, a huge boat, and there was a Google story about how a few years ago the same line had their ferry catch fire whilst between Yantai and Dalian and 22 people of the 300 on board survived. Now Narda is a bit nervous about the ferry.
We have been talking about disasters this whole holiday (well the first two days of it). We decided to climb to the top of our local hill which has a great view of the sea, our school and valley. This picture does not do our climb justice – it took us almost two hours to get to the top and we were so puffed out. In the distance is our school and behind the strange ship they built along the highway headed into our resort district.
Continuing with our disaster conversations we worried what to do if a poisonous snake crossed our path, then we worried about what to do if there was a forest fire and we got caught then we wondered if there were bear or other crazed creatures in the woods then we just worried. It took us another hour to get down and we ended up at the local spa but their prices were out of proportion to what we made as teachers so we walked home.
Here I am at the Five-Star Golden Pebble Tang Dynasty International Hot Spring Resort at the bottom of the hill – which was a mountain to us, with my mate, obviously a remnant of the Tang Dynasty. I told him I was a Leo but he didn’t seem impressed or to understand so we walked on in blissful ignorance of our un-importance.
And what is with the writing on the side of the plane facing my seat of where to evacuate? Evacuation Direction – damn… I never know what to do in those kind of situations. And there was no pre-flight speech about dropping down air masks and putting them onto the children last or is that first?
But those bloody Chinese cab drivers – ours give us the fright of our life all the way into town; weaving, and creating lanes where there was none and going way too fast and of course there were no seat belts in the back. I am always terrified driving in a cab in China but then again we did arrive OK.
We wanted to go five-star but not at a Western chain so we picked the only 5-star Chinese because we want soft beds and most hotels the beds are incredibly hard. We are staying at the Golden Gulf Hotel – an old hotel right on the shore. And what a great walk along the coast it is. We like this city – so far, the most of any we have been in. We even found the old area, a Hutong, right behind the hotel – kind of a Chinese New Orleans or old town in Barcelona.
not to worry – we got the buffet dinner and that was really quite good and now off to a soft bed and tomorrow is Tuesday and we do not have to go to school and write up bloody lesson plans or standards or whatever mind-numbing thing we are to do in the future. Why we can not be like the world’s best schools – Finland – where they start at age seven – that by the way is when I started at Shenendehowa Central School in Elnora New York in 1954 – the first year of that school – and look at me… well I left home at 16 – didn’t finish tenth grade – but at age 44 to 58 did every uni degree possible and now, like the Finnish schools I feel a academically OK – maybe I am an OK Air type of person after all.
July blog and some of June too
Sunday, July 29, 2012 PM
Spending this week at Bellbrae Country Club, five minutes from Bells Beach, an hour from Melbourne; 1992 my father came to Australia, he was 87, traveling alone, from upstate New York. I was with my two sons, Sacha age 11 and Leigh, 8.
We rented a large mobile home, collected my father from Sydney Airport and drove north to the Gold Coast and Brisbane, spent a couple of weeks getting back to Adelaide and parked in front of our house in Victor Harbor with our mobile home. I am not sure who was the most handful on the drive; my children or my father – they were all so demanding. Not only was I the sole driver, cook, sorting out three complaining humans but I seemed to be the unofficial happy person to keep everyone else the same. Bottom line, we got to Bells Beach a month after collecting my father in Sydney. Sacha said he would surf no matter what. We parked his surfboard in the toilet of the mobile home and I doubted the wisdom of bringing it from the get-go. We parked overnight on the beach in front of the ‘no camping’ sign. Sacha proclaimed the water too cold, and that was it for my eleven year-old surfing champ. The next day we dropped my father off at Tullamarine Airport, took our mobile home to the rental agent and flew back to Adelaide, with an unused surf board.
Twenty-years later we are back. A different configuration; my father and Leigh are dead and I am here with Narda. Sacha and his girlfriend visited for the weekend. We all went to a micro-brewery and the Jack Rabbit Vineyard. Sacha long ago left his surfing career behind and is happy with his life; working with and recording hip-hop, working with asylum seekers from Iraq and Afghanistan and etc. Sacha left a few hours ago to go back to work in Melbourne and we are watching the show Mad Men, waiting our next group arrival; Narda’s son Stu, wife, Claire and of course the seven-month old granddaughter, Maggie. The one who covers are fridge back in China.
This is now but this is just an add-on to what I was going to post a few days ago….
One month later than I was going to write. Not a long time but not on time to be current, except as reflections of then compared to now and long ago reflect in now like any normal hologram type of holistic comparisons. Then again one year ago today I was packing to move to China and that seems not too long ago; ten years ago I was packing to move to New York; twenty years ago I was doing my BA in journalism, something I never really used; thirty years ago I was a single parent living on a farm with my two boys and on it goes, all seemingly just moments ago. I wrote a book for my children, “Leaving Australia” (550 pages leather bound, two copies; one for the one who decided to stay on the planet and one for me) in which I listed everywhere I was at on Christmas for the years 1965 – 2005 (when I stopped writing it) and I had been in something like 35 places in those 40 years at Christmas.
Last Christmas I was at:
1965 – Key West, Florida, alone
1966 – New York City, with a girlfriend whom I cannot recall
1967 – New Orleans – have no memory of the day
1968 – Glen Ellen, California – living in a commune
1969 – 1970 Honolulu – in a religious Order with Carol Ann
(whose daughter I helped raise for a while and whom is a friend on Facebook 42 years later)
1971 – Clifton Park, New York with a girlfriend, forget her name
1972 – Clifton Park, New York at my parents
1973 – New Orleans with a girlfriend, not sure which either Rita, Chialeah, or Robin or Tamzon
1974 – Cheyenne, Wyoming – in a religious Order – trying to be celibate
1975 – Syracuse, New York – in a religious Order – failing celibacy at an alarming rate
1976 – Baltimore, Maryland- in a religious Order – failed again
1977 – Towson, Maryland
1978 – Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland – with a girlfriend, Beverly, who wrote recently that she did not want to be in touch with me ever again; after not being in touch for like 30-years, then finding me on-line and emailing me to say she did not want to be in touch again – why do females make so little sense?
1979 – Towson, Maryland with a different girlfriend than the Christmas prior, I think she was Lynn, who committed suicide – I think it is my Venus conjunct Saturn/Pluto all in Leo square my Jupiter that gets me with people who do these things… just my dumb luck to be born with Saturn conjunct Pluto in Leo, exact to the minute, and with Mars conjunct Uranus in the 8th house – no wonder….luckily I no longer believe in that crap! Especially since Mars and Uranus descendant go through where I live in northern China, where we return to next week – talk about weird; Uranus was at 25 Gemini when I was born and that is the degree and sign it was in when discovered in March 13, 1781. [I love this quote: The discovery degree of Uranus has been found to be primarily important in three categories of individuals. The first is writers, particularly those who achieve wide recognition during their lifetimes. The second is political reformers, and the third is astrologers. Ralph Waldo Emerson was born with Mercury at 24 degrees Gemini. Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle both had Jupiter at 26 Gemini and Aldous Huxley had his Jupiter at 25 Gemini, the discovery degree of Uranus. http://www.stariq.com/Main/Articles/P0000270.HTM%5D Of course I am living proof this is not true.
1980 – Honolulu with wife number one
1981 – 1982 – Adelaide, South Australia with wife number one and Sacha
1983 – Adelaide, with wife number one, Sacha, and Leigh
1984 – Clifton Park New York with my brother and parents
1985 – Clifton Park New York with my brother and parents and two children; Sacha age 4 and Leigh age 2 and a half – I traveled alone from Australia to New York with my children – not so easy
1987 – Mt. Compass, South Australia, with my children (three different
homes, a different one each Christmas. Uranus rules my 4th house and I have never kept a home for very lone)
1988 – Port Elliot, South Australia, with my children
1989 – Middletown, South Australia, with my children
1990 – 1994 – Victor Harbor, South Australia, with my children
1995 – 1997 – Hackham, South Australia, with my children
1998 – 2001 – Christies Down, South Australia, with my children
2002 – Clifton Park, New York, with my 97-year-old father, with Narda
and two of her sons
2003 – Round Lake, New York, with my 98-year-old father, Sacha,
Narda and her son, Stu.
2004 – Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, with Sacha
2005 – Paris, France with Narda
2006 – Melbourne, Australia, with Sacha
2007 – Crossville, Tennessee with Narda and her son Chris and his wife
2008 – Melbourne
To cut to the chase here I am for the tenth summer, actually winter in Australia, staying in our little apartment upstairs from the in-laws. For ten years it was part of our summer holidays from New York, this time it is our summer holiday from China. Nevertheless it is our last time in this house as the parents are moving out and a change once again is in front of us, except we get to spend our summer in winter once again.
Two weeks ago we got a taste of summer and that is really what I want to write about as it really does bring into memory so many decades. We left Dalian, China in the warmth and arrived in Atlanta with 40 C (104F) greeting us for the next two weeks. After driving off with Narda’s son Chris’ and his wife Jessica’s car we got off the interstate as soon as possible and in Mississippi stayed at a motel that looked not as bad as the ones next to it. Yes it is true that motels in the south are almost all run by citizens from India. A curious situation that has been reported (even a movie was made about it) in the NY Times – “According to the latest figures from the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (A.A.H.O.A.), slightly more than 50 percent of all motels in the United States are now owned by people of Indian origin.” And that was said in 1999, now I would believe from our experience over the years it is about 87.46 % though I may be off by a fraction.
I added “Life behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream” to my Goodreads Book list to read. Unfortunately the list is growing and the read for pleasure vs. the read because I am teaching the bloody subject (Adobe CS6, and too many other programs) is becoming a gap too wide for this year. Saying all that we stayed at this place either called the Motel Alabama or the Alabama Motel; usually we read up on a place first but we read after that people complained that there were drug dealers and prostitutes all over this place. Having watched five seasons of Breaking Bad I was up for an interesting night and kept looking out the peep hole in the door for interesting action but nothing seemed to be going on and suffice it to say we had a good sleep. The importance of a good sleep was that we were jet lagged to buggery and actually fell to sleep as soon as we checked in at 3 PM for a couple of hours with our bodies thinking they were still on the way to work over in China. No matter how many times we told our bodies it was 3 PM and not 3 AM they just would not pay attention.
Driving route 80 over to Selma we saw reminders of the 1965 civil rights walks. So much has changed since “Sheriff Jim Clark had issued an order for all white males in Dallas County over the age of twenty-one to report to the courthouse that morning to be deputized… Seconds later, the troopers began shoving the demonstrators. Many were knocked to the ground and beaten with nightsticks. Another detachment of troopers fired tear gas. Mounted troopers charged the crowd on horseback…” from Wikipedia.
We found a soul food restaurant in Selma and the food was good – the people there reminded us of our life in China, where everyone seems to stare at us like we are aliens. I suppose they do not get many of us type of people in their area. Back in 1965 we would no doubt have been beaten as sympathizers – hungry sympathizers who did not want to eat at McDonalds over in the white area.
Our end game was New Orleans. I had wanted to take Narda since meeting her eleven-years earlier and seeing her play saxophone in her big-band, the ‘Little Big Horns’ at a firemen’s ball in Adelaide. New Orleans is my favourite city in the world. Of course when I was a street artist in Jackson Square 40 years earlier life was a shade different; I was younger, I had not gone through the 40-years I just experienced, the world just seemed to be an easier and more liberal place in the early 1970s. There were only about two and a half billion people, now there are seven billion. But that was then and now my dream back then of being with a jazz saxophone playing female had come true. I have a photo of me in 1972 selling picture poems alongside Jackson Square at http://picture-poems.net/ and in my mind little has changed.
I never liked the first few blocks of Bourbon Street with its strip bars – not even when I was young and feistier than I am at 64 and eleven-months.
Further down the street, about @ St. Peters the music clubs take over and all that New Orleans is known for fills the air. Of course even the French Quarter changes over forty-years. I could not find the music clubs I loved in the late 1960s or the gallery I had further down Bourbon Street. It was called Tiphareth, after the Tree of Life – middle path on the Kabbalah. Tiphareth is the beauty sphere. I sold my art and a few other’s craft and art things there. It was at the end of an alley off of Bourbon that seems to no longer be there. I was in New Orleans in 1967 – 1968 with lots of journeys in and out; hitch hiking back to New York occasionally and once stowing away on a freighter bound for England which I got into heaps of strife because of. After a few years in a cult order (1969 – 1971) in Hawaii I was back in New Orleans 1972 – 1973 before going back to the order for another five years. It was those years in New Orleans I remember best; selling my pictures alongside the fence of Jackson Square with all the other artists; reading astrology charts and tarot cards for people; telling passing girls how well our charts synchronized, for personal gains I will not elaborate on here. I rented a large house at the end of Bourbon Street and because none of my hippy friends made money I paid the rent from my street art stuff. We could not find the house anymore – in its place there is something newish which is too bad. We did find some good music halls and listened to late into the night which surprised us as we usually are off to bed when the young people are going out.
New Orleans is the best. I still keep in touch with a few people from those days; Randy Dandurand who I had known since our days in Los Angeles and San Francisco during those days of fun at the end of the 1960s, then he got me involved in that Order in Hawaii in 1969 and that stuffed me up for a while, but I returned the favour getting him out of it in 1972 when he was in charge of some station in Nashville and we headed off to New Orleans. When we got there we were almost out of money and slept in our sleeping bags on the lawns of Tulane University out in the Garden District where passing students the next morning woke us and someone told us to piss off. I spent my last five-dollars on some water colours and art board and made a few pictures and sold them at Jackson Square; which became my source of employment for a couple of years. Randy now lives in Eugene Oregon and makes a living off selling old shit on EBay. I still keep in touch with Dell Crowther who went off to Guatemala during the Regan era because of his political disagreement with the US and he built a huge weird house in San Pedro la Laguna on Lake Atitlan. We visited him a couple of years ago; he is so depressed and quite ill but refuses to come back to the States. He is 70 now. We are the only people to ever visit him in Guatemala but I doubt if we can again. Guatemala is so dangerous and Dell is so difficult and it is all so far away from China and Australia. When we were New Orleans hippies we all looked up to Dell, he was just this really cool person. My how times change us all. And there is Shane who changed her name to Mariya —- and I keep in touch with her on Facebook but I have not seen here in person since 1994 when I took my two boys, age eleven and eight at the time on a trip around the world and we stopped in Louisiana to see Mariya, Los Angles to see Daniel Bushnell who I was in that Order with in Syracuse New York and Towson Maryland and I see on Facebook but we don’t seem to say much to each other, Hawaii to visit Randy, Indiana to visit Tamzon and New York City to see my brother who was dying of AIDS then we went to London, Paris, Germany, and Switzerland; it was a good trip. And there is Tamzon, she joined that Order from our days in New Orleans and seems to have had more favourable thoughts toward it. She befriended me for a couple of weeks on Facebook but was upset about what I had said about her in my Leaving Australia book which I had as a pdf on-line but I took it off to save some people embarrassment though I do not understand why some are so precious about what they did in the past. She seems to have dim thoughts of me now.
The only people I still know from four-decades ago are the ones I met in New Orleans; except for my first girl-friend from the early 1960s or was it the mid-1960s? who I keep up with on Facebook and who will hopefully one day sell our houses in upstate New York and Marta Waterman who I knew as a child and who is writing a book about my brother.
We liked the Treme series and drove around the area which has been re-done, for the most part. It is next to the French Quarter and the music is less touristy and more authentic some say. I have always liked the street musicians and there are still plenty of them about. See my youtube video —- http://youtu.be/QGzf4mQVNtQ
After a few days in New Orleans; and Narda loving the place too, though maybe she tired of so many of my stories from so long ago, we went south and stayed for three days at a bed and breakfast in the Bayou. We did the tourist thing of going on a swamp alligator airboat, it is on youtube @ http://youtu.be/hYxw0-T8O7c. Spent a couple of days wandering around to the tip of Louisiana and put our feet in the gulf where it was so warm but having forgotten to bring our bathers we did not plunge all the way in.
Leaving Louisiana we stayed somewhere in Alabama. It was so hot that we were in the motel pool within ten minutes of checking in and planned the next morning to be back in Atlanta by early afternoon.
As they say, ‘one never knows what is around the next corner’.
Narda was driving on the interstate rolling along at about 70 mph, 112 Kph, I was looking at something, probably at our new Nikon D5100; what a great improvement to the little digital camera we had been using, when there was a big bump, our car started swerving all over. We were in the middle lane. Narda said, ‘he hit me’ and I waited for the glass to break and the car to roll but when we hit the concrete block in the middle of the highway separating us from oncoming cars I felt everything would be fine. Narda said she was waiting for the pain to hit. When we came to a grinding halt and the car stopped Narda discovered she could restart the car and went off chasing the truck that hit us. I could not believe it but of course it is such a Narda thing to do. The back wheel was broken, we were in shock, and we are off. Luckily the truck pulled over and stopped. I took lots of photos and by the time I got out of the car Narda was already standing in front of the driver, ‘what was that?’ she demanded. Fortunately the truckie was a good bloke and rang the police and took full responsibility. He somehow did not see us when he changed lanes and clipped us sending us across a couple of lanes.
Luck was on our side that no one was in our lane or the next one over except for the truck that sent us on our merry way. The interstate was extremely busy and there was just this little break in the traffic when we decided to kiss the wall. And of course we were lucky to have the bloody wall as some places there is no dividing barrier which would have meant we would have been going across the lanes coming toward us too which would have killed us off for sure.
We stood in the sun, 104 degrees, 40+ c, for more than two hours watching the heavy traffic go pass us, waiting for a police then a trooper then a tow truck. Having been in three previous serious accidents and never getting a scratch I wonder what keeps me going. I survived the 1960s, car accidents, marriages and just so much and I am still full of gas – well probably that is not the correct analogy at my age… We rented a fire-truck-red Volkswagen and got our sorry asses back to Atlanta, though still in shock, by that night, Friday.
I said to Narda on Sunday as we boarded a plane to Chicago > Beijing that if we had been killed we would be having burial things done about then. We spent a night in Beijing and went on to Adelaide the following day. I said we had a great chance to re-boot our lives. Maybe we were killed out on the Interstate and now we can re-craft our new lives. It has been a rather liberating feeling – that we had this choice either to be dead meat or to keep on living and embrace every day anew.
At the moment I am writing this in Horsham, Victoria. We left this morning, 26th July, Thursday, and got this far on our way to Melbourne; doing another road trip. This is so different. Whereas driving Atlanta to New Orleans is filled with towns and cities and massive freeways and wild truck drivers; here is not really nothing, there is the outback, which at the moment is quite green due to so much rain of late, single lane each direction roads, with massive trucks – road trains they call them and instead of the single trailer they pull two and even three giving us the feeling that we truly would be cactus if they hit us.
Tomorrow we get to Melbourne and I am excited that my son will stay with us for the weekend, the one that is still alive; the other son visits too often, but in reality he is dead, and his visits freak me out. It is almost nine years ago since he flew from the Dodger’s headquarters in Vero Beach Florida to Sydney and went off of a 15-story hotel balcony when his girlfriend broke up with him. The Dodgers were looking for him and were concerned because he was acting strange the week leading up to then and he left without telling anyone. I had a dream recently that he had pitched a perfect game but of course that is not true at least not in my realm. I have been having dreams for all these years where he is in some sort of trouble and he asks me to help him get back on track to get back into baseball then I wake up and say ‘no you are dead’. I hate those dreams and I get them regularly month after month year after year. It is all so disconcerting.
Then I remember the 1960s and early 1970s in New Orleans when I had nothing and how simple it was. But then again it could be true that we died out on the Interstate a couple of weeks ago and all this is just some wayward thoughts coming through someone else. Just like my son asking me for help and I awake and say but you are dead, we may awake and someone will tell us that we died out on the Interstate. For now, I will go back to Leigh pitching a perfect game, somewhere in the universe; http://neuage.org/leigh.htm the perfect son.
If you are in the International Airport in Beijing near gate 33 there’s a machine that churns out wifi codes – just put in your passport – five hours worth so I am spending my last three hours in China on line and on Facebook (so banned in China – thank you Astrill VPN for a great year of service). So Narda collects me in about fifteen hours or more in Atlanta then we do our road trip, staying at one-star motels, through the south for ten days – goin’ find the real Amerika’ then to Australia and on and on. This was my 7th flight out of Dalian in my first year here (10 months actually) Four international (Australia x2, Thailand, USA) and three local (Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing) – Next school year we plan to travel more – old age come and get me ’cause I ain’t slowin’ down’. I can only say “Life is good”. And one of my goals for my 65th year is to get to visit North Korea – just up the road 200 miles – like going from New York City to our house in Saratoga Spring New York – just an afternoon drive.
September 11 2011
A brief scribble from my end of the desk in our office in our apartment @ Campus Village, Dalian American International School, No. 2 Dianchi Road Golden Pebble Beach National Resort, Jinshitan in the Dalian Development Area (DDA; Chinese: 大连开发区) in the Jinzhou District, Dalian, Liaoning province, China.
I thought I would have so much time today to write blogs, work on some 15 videos I have too many clips for, maybe even do some laundry instead of leaving it for the laundry woman to do; however, I am exhausted and it is not even eleven am. Luck that I even got here last night then until 1.30 AM I decided to twitter and google plus and Facebook; though I am finding Facebook really quite boring these days – too little worthwhile content and after a few years of hearing what people are unhappy about, who they are or should be or not sleeping with or how much they have drunk or what they are having for tea, do we really care? I was up all bushy eyed or is that bushy-tailed? At 6 AM after a solid four and half hour sleep I was excited to get into all that was presented at the learning2 conference in Shanghai. Of course I had probably less sleep the past few days keeping up with so much at the conference and now that it is almost eleven AM I am ready to sleep. I figured home alone for two days; Narda is in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province, a smallest town of eight million. She went with five other women – they hired two drivers for four days – and drove the six hours up. I didn’t spend any money in Shanghai at all thanks to our school, but Narda, what a worry. She said on the first day, couple of days ago, that she had done a bit of shopping. I figure those women will be coming back with a u-haul. Our shipment from the States was to be here last week but now of course it will be sometime in October so we are stuck with what we brought and the u-haul of stuff Narda has probably bought.
but basically… Spent the time at the conference because I have wandered around Shanghai several other times and I had a bit of a mandate from the head of our school to gather and gather I did. As far as technology conferences go there were a few things that were interesting and one actually new. The new was that anyone could have a un-conference meeting by signing on a board. There were several interesting ones. I found the keynote speakers did not have anything new to say and even at times not only me but others said ‘what?’ It was the overused ‘my four year old or six-year-old or whatever their child was on about using technology. There was a lot to the point of way too much of family in the presentations. We all have families most of us have children and grandchildren and yes of course they are using flip cameras and using the web and doing creative stuff from the earliest ages, so what? I have taught kindy and first grade and assisted 2nd graders in NYC with their hip hop YouTube videos. Come on presenters let us get away from hearing about your ‘special’ family and your ‘special’ life. We come to see nuts and bolts and integration from a cosmic level these days. Good golly this is not new rocket science. Cave people discovered with fire they could cook, read a novel, and create a weapon, stay warm and so much more to the point of their version of technology integration was much more organic than ours. Throughout history we have integrated. I have seen this, talk about how my 7-year-old can do this or my six-year-old buys LSD on eBay and on and on at conferences in New York City (CUNY Annual IT Conference) and at those groovy IT conferences at Mohonk Mountain House in the Catskills and heaps of other places. Are IT parents so needy they have to tell us about little Matilda and how she can waltz and blog at the same time? We learned about websites, none of which were new to me at least. Conferences are known as a place of heightened egos and claims of possessors of great knowledge but in today’s world the practical ‘this is how we are using something’ in the classroom is the important thing. I did learn from the InDesign class and the Moodle class and a few like that. The presentations in the main hall were just self-serving, ‘this is me, these are my children’ – forget it mate. Have at least one Raymond Kurzweil presenter to take us to a new place. The Kurzweil Educational Systems begun in 1996 shaped so much and his ‘The Singularity Is Near’ and daily blogs so surpass anything I saw at this pony show.
I think for me the most useful moment of the conference was taking a taxi to the airport at the end. Our main purpose was to learn about implantation of a one-to-one laptop program; see what others are doing, what platform, what was the process. I shared a ride with the middle school principal from the American International School of Guangzhou who had just started their one-to-one laptop program. In half an hour I gathered more than I did in three days at the conference.
Saying all that I am glad that I went and I believe the connections that I and the rest of our school team (six of us) made will be very valuable in our integration of technology. Because it is only at these conferences that we meet others doing the same thing; if I avoid the keynote speakers unless it is a Kurzweil or someone who really has something to say, I will be fine.
So back to getting home. Blimey talk about luck. Forty years ago when I believed such nonsense I would have said my higher Self was taking over or I would have gone on about a full-moon in Pisces back when I traveled the conference circuit yakking on about astrology (hey that is how I ended up in Australia) at the end of the 1970s. Now I am interested in spiritual-machines and the cybeSelf and SecondLife. Back to getting home… so I was told the plane left at 10.35. At 7 PM I thought to grab a taxi and head out to Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Firstly a couple of women want to share a taxi – can’t go wrong with that. Secondly they are the ones who have just started a one-to-one laptop program at the American International School of Guangzhou so I collected and collated the info I came to the conference to get. I get to the airport and figure I have a few hours but I saw the domestic China Southern section and figured I get lost so easy I would never find it again so I go and get in line even knowing I have three hours before my alleged 10.35 flight. I get my ticket and an emergency row seat which I always ask for so I can stretch and wander on. It is 8.15 PM and I happened to look at my ticket which reads 8.15 boarding time. Rushing through security and panting down to as is always the way the gate is the furthest away I fall onto the plane which is already boarded and they close the door and the bloody thing starts moving. It even left fifteen minutes early. The last time we were leaving Shanghai for Dalian, a long five weeks ago, the plane was delayed three hours. So I get to Dalian at 10.15 instead of 10.45 (even though I was told I was leaving Shanghai at 10.35 – a mix up of course and the apologies for my near heart attach have been placed) and there is my driver waiting for me and I have a lovely ride home. He doesn’t speak English and I forgot what my two words in Chinese were. He even played classical music and drove rather slowly instead of the 140 kilometers an hour our other driver taking us to the airport did.
First time I have no photos or video – did some with my phone, but I have so many photos and videos of Shanghai I will give it a miss. Think I will go take an afternoon nap then work on my educational blog.
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