Another conference now history another system of notes to integrate into my life another direction to life; all for the forward thrust of evolution for those who come next; the children so I am told. I have been to conferences. Mostly in New York (the best being NAIS’ ‘New York State Association of Independent Schools’ in Mohonk at the Mountain House – in New Paltz in the Catskills) – and recently in Asia: Bangkok, Shanghai (twice), Shenzhen… well that is all. The Asian ones are quite different in that the term networking is overused and really means ‘is your school better than mine and if so can I get a job there?’ In Australia or the States with unions and accountability and ethics in schools conferences really are about listening to new information or in my situation as technology dude, learning about new programs. One learns about another person’s school not because they want to leave their current school post-haste but because they are genuinely interested in how another school runs, especially in their topic. I am always surprised at how many people are disgruntled with their school and it is always the same complaints which centre around administration. Stuff that would never happen overseas happens with reckless abandon in Asia where teachers report micromanaged lives to the point of dictatorship. I try to avoid the tales of woe and for the most part did.
This was a great conference for me for the very reason a conference should be great for anyone. I met three great dudes that are doing wonderful things with film – my new baby. The best, for me, workshops were the ones centred on film. Breen O’Reilly, from Beijing International School, and David Gran from Shanghai International presented Asia through film; http://asiathroughfilm.wikispaces.com/ The trick will be to find the same films with English subtitles – they exist because the clips that Breen and David showed had subtitles. What I will miss will be all their narratives about the films and the directors of them. One movie in particular will be my first target to find is “Mardi Gras: Made in China” (2005). The writer, David Redmon wondered where the Mardi Gras doubloons came from – well we all know that don’t we? So he went and investigated and found a factory in China where they were made. The people at the factory had no idea who would want such things. I am really into this as I lived through several Mardi Gras in New Orleans and I have a large poster from 1978 –made by a friend and I have had this on my wall in many homes in many cities and three countries (Australia, China, USA) over the past 35 years. Here it is on my wall in Dalian, China. I collect things from my past – my wife says ‘hordes’ things from my past and yes I still have two of those made in China’ Mardi Gras coins – that I have in my wallet some 35 years later. Gosh.
Apparently ‘Made in China’ was made with one camera and done in imovie – the poster below is from Wikipedia
David Gran introduced and showed clips from the EARCOS Shanghai Asia Film Festival http://www.shanghaifilmfest.org/. I was lucky to spend lots of time with him; Breen O’Reilly and Joshua Sternlicht at this conference which I hopefully will be able to work with in the future to kick start our film courses in Dalian American International School.
My synchronous moment of Saturday, the last day of the conference was sitting at a table with two others at a film workshop. One is from Albany NY – wife to David Gran and the other, Joshua Sternlicht, from Schenectady NY, the filmmaker now at the International School of Manila – two towns next to where I grew up – we all went to neighbouring schools – and we are all doing film at our schools; one teaching in Manila, one in Shanghai and me up north where it is still cold and we are going back to in a couple of hours. Maybe I should make a film of this… or is it just four planets in Aries now and Saturn in 13 Scorpio exactly square my Pluto/Saturn conjunction; a waxing square. And true enough projects I started on at my Saturn return seven years ago are changing now just like it is said in astrology. Yesterday I walked into a class door and almost knocked myself out – luckily I don’t believe in astrology or I would say there was linkage. Speaking of which, I was an astrologer for 40 years and even met my first wife on an astrological trip to New Zealand and Australia in 1980 – I was living in Baltimore at the time. I stopped astrology in 2003 due to events in my life (Leigh) but for whatever reason I downloaded the app ‘Celeste’ onto my iphone. It does a complete chart. This is something I wish I had back in the 1960s – 2000. I use to do charts all the time for everything but always using an ephemeris and by hand. This is so instant I can always know where everything is. Not that I care anymore but the planets positions for when I walked into a glass window really did explain it –every planets relationship to my natal chart said ‘you will walk into a glass window’ – damn. No wonder I don’t want to see this – especially after the fact.
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.
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….
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;
Youtube is not playing in China along with Facebook and Twitter and heaps of other sites so I will post on my own.
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