Keeping warm; of course this is Australia and warm is the in thing to be. Like 30C lots and on Sunday – New Year’s Day it will be a mere 40 C (yes 104 Fahrenheit). What is so interesting about that? Well on Tuesday we fly to Harbin China ( now -28C; -18 Fahrenheit – definitely a warm streak compared to what is expect next Tuesday when we arrive) to hang out at the ice festival for a few days before going back to work in warm Dalian which now is -10 a plus 14 Fahrenheit; 18 degrees below freezing. The last couple of weeks in China was interesting with me being a judge at the 10th 21st Century CASIO National Elementary/High School English Speech Competition for Liaoning Province. Of course at 43,746,323 people it is only the 14th most populated province in China but still a lot of folks to choose the best from. What was most amazing was that the contestants spoke perfect English whether 7 or 18 years old. They gave great speeches. The younger ones tended to give speeches about how much they loved their mothers and fathers. The older ones how much they loved China or a great invention they would create. After they gave their 3-4 minute speeches I asked a question that they had to answer. That is when they became unstuck. Most of them did not have a clue of what they had said. If I asked, what have you done lately for your parents or a question about their ‘invention’ they would have no idea what I was saying. Like China they could imitate and copy. It reminds me of my iPhone 5 – it looks like the real thing, if there was an iPhone 5 but it does little. It says 64 gigs on the back but really has like 24 kilobyte memory. Actually I got our real iPhone 4 unlocked yesterday so hopefully that will put me in the real loop next week back in China. Back to the speeches; so there I was on the stage with the winners, “from Australia, professor of speech at universities in the United States and in Australia, Dr. Neuage.” I did this for four weekends and the last one was televised so after five months in China I make it on TV. The whole bloody thing was televised, eight hours of it – not sure who would watch it but in a province of close to 44-million I am sure someone saw it. I am expecting to have a contract for TV appearances when I return next week.
My goal is to be on a sit-com; I would be the silly Yank who thinks he is Australian (well I do have an Australian passport and I am an Australian citizen but just yesterday a woman said to me, ‘oh you are from New York right?’ bloody hell, I am an Australian why can’t people see that?); the foreign English-speaking buffoon. I did get some bright red folder with a document signed by some person of note. It was very cold when we left Dalian on the 17th of December so we were fine being in Melbourne. I enjoyed spending a few days with my son and I am working with him to make a webpage for his music so I am happy about that, keeping me up-to date and even a bit trendy. Narda is all gushy about being a grandmother, I am just happy to be making webpages and preparing my Flash animation classes for two weeks from today. And that is it.
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?