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Just another weekend in China

Just another weekend in China though with a different set of events/thoughts/wanderings….

  • Chinese Visa Office
  • 11th Annual Dalian International Walking Festival
  • Soggy day
  • ‘Famous French and English Bands’ at the Chateau du Vin Bordeaux
  • Beatles concerts
  • And so much more

Actually this is more than a weekend memory of what-we-did as Thursday and Friday is just as much of this extended weekend at least in my memory as Saturday and Sunday is. Of course Thursday and Friday were work days. With my job as technology coordinator however I am always on the job as I read technology and educational blogs and updates whether I am at school or on the shopping bus, sitting on the loo or waiting in a dentist’s office. Saturday whilst Narda was in the dentist chair for more than an hour I took enough notes from what I had found to be potentially useful stuff for possible integration or to-try at school that I will be spending days engaging with it. There are so many blogging-filming apps now that I am looking forward to what I can do with my classes next year that are specializing in multimedia, and film specifically. This is an exciting time to be developing a film program in a school. Helping students to become always-journalist will be one of the most important lessons for them. Journalism has not changed but the delivery and sharing has. When I was doing my journalism degree at the start of the 1990s I concentrated on radio-broadcasting, helping to start the community radio station E-FM (Encounter FM) in Victor Harbor, South Australia. My part of the radio station needless to say was news and children’s radio (CAR = Children’s Australian Radio – my little contribution to Australian community radio) where my children managed to star on.

I am teaching broadcast journalism along with filming.  Merging these with social sites and story development and sharing more than ‘we had pizza last night’ will greatly assist students. I am having them blogging using their phones as well as filming and bringing it into the classroom for editing. Next year I will collaborate with the English department (write the story), music department for backing tracks as well as my classes for filming and editing.

The next big shift in schools is from integrating technology to integrating film in every department. Students are already doing this in their life outside of school putting clips onto whatever site is their favorite at the moment. Students are self-branding all the time and assisting as well as providing time and space to do this will improve their self-image i.e. self-brand. We have been putting a lot of emphasis on student portfolios lately but social sites are there real portfolios and I feel that is the area we need to develop. Employers are looking at social sites as part of their investigations of potential new hires and if the social site has wonderfully crafted video-blogs and short films this becomes a living-portfolio. This area has not been very well addressed and it is an area I will be working on next year so students will have their shared-online-lives crafted to look like mini-film-festival. ‘The Festival of Me’ – it sounds so Leo and having five planets in Leo I feel qualified for such a category of instruction or for at least me. In my middle school publication class I have students making a magazine in InDesign titled ‘About Me’ where they create a whole newsletter/e-zine about themselves. Their initial reaction is that writing more than fifty words about themselves is impossible becomes more engaging when they write about their favorite video game or movie and get to insert photos (Creative Commons only of course) and interview each other and write up a commercial and on and on.

We have been corresponding with a school in India to do a collaborative on-line real-time film project and we have the assistance of a film producer in Los Angeles who recently had her film accepted into the Sundance film festival in Utah. Our class has been Skypping her and we have been discussing their individual projects for this quarter as she ‘looks over our shoulders’. My neighbor, Frank, and his wife are moving to Yangon, Myanmar to teach at an international school next year. We have been putting together a plan to do a collaborative film project which in my little world is quite exciting. I am thinking of his and my students writing a script together – back and forth then having our individual classes create and edit the script and have them playing side by side as one film with two interpretations of the same story. His students are mostly Myanmar citizens and mine are a collection from around the planet which would make this a very global endeavor.

To emphasize my integration of film in the student’s life where most of their daily short clips are posted to social sites from their smartphones..

An Australian filmmaker has won first prize at the Sundance London Film and Music Festival with a short film shot entirely on a Nokia Lumia 920 smartphone. The film explores the influence of hip hop, which started in the Bronx, on the indigenous communities in regional Australia and how it helped youth reconnect with tribal elders and tell stories using this style of music.

http://www.techguide.com.au/menu-news-by-categories/mobiles/1817-aussie-wins-film-festival-with-movie-shot-on-nokia-lumia-920-smartphone

see it on youtube at http://youtu.be/W8Lewbdm8lg

Last Thursday it was Narda’s elementary student concert, ‘All you need is love’ that put us into a Beatles mood. She has been doing a lot of work on this for the past months and I have been filming little segments as commercials for our school’s video-news show, DAISlive. As Narda’s biggest fan the past twelve years I would say this was up there with her best work. Of course it is not the same as when she did a Beatles tribute at Albany Academy in upstate New York a decade ago but that was with high school and there was dance involved as Albany Academy for Girls has a strong dance program. Being in a Beatles mood we are off to see the Beijing Beatles next weekend who are playing in Dalian. Carolyn, Narda’s sister and her husband are visiting from Australia then so they can too see what China has to offer to the musical past. One of the Beijing Beatles is from Australia so they couldn’t be that bad. The name of the show is We do like to be beside the seaside – tour to Dalian.

Friday we needed to collect our passports so we could go to the U.S. Consulate in Shenyang this coming Tuesday. Narda has to sort out some stuff with the Yanks and I have to go along being the Yank of a sponsor. As always these things are so complicated; whether to keep a Green Card – problem is being out of the States for the past two years, surrendering it is an issue and becoming a citizen is another kettle of fish. We just hope to be able to sort it out in one trip. With less than four weeks before we leave for the States she is now in no-man’s land. They won’t give her a visitor’s visa without tossing the Green Card and she may not be unable to renew the Green Card and now with the recent Boston problems the Yanks are all the more tighter about stuff. When we first went to the States in 2002, shortly after 9-11, we had a terrible time. According to many phone calls we had everything in order. When we arrived in Sydney – with our flight booked for the next day to New York, not only were they very rude to us but they said in the photos of Narda her ear was not showing enough and we would have to re-do the photo and come back in a week. At the time we were homeless, having sold Narda’s home in Adelaide, and storing away all our belongings we were left to cancel our flight with no idea when we would be able to get Narda with a visia. We were not going for a usual visit, we were moving there. I had been out of the country for 20-years so they said something about not having domicile and as a sponsor of Narda who, like me, had jobs in the States; she was at Albany Academy for Girls and me at the State University of New York at Albany, and my father was 97 years old waiting to see me before he left the planet. After three days of abuse by the wankers at the US consulate in Sydney I contacted my cousin Fredrick Miller who knew Congressman Sweeney and Sweeney sent a congressional letter to the consulate in Sydney. All of a sudden they were nice to me, and said I could come in right away and we could fly out in the evening. There was a period we thought we would never get in to the States. Now after living there for more than a decade, owning three homes and Narda having a son living in the States married to a Yank (I started the trend in her family of marrying non-Dutch people). Before I came bopping along Narda and her three sisters and all their relatives had only ever married Dutch people, having migrated to Australia from the Netherlands in the 1950s. Since me one son has married a Yank and lives in Atlanta, Georgia and another son has married a POM – prisoner of Mother England, and her third son now in India, has a pommie girlfriend too so I changed their directions. They had all been staying in the Dutch genetic pool for five-hundred plus years; so they must be thankful to me. To make a too long story short about going to New York my father hung around for another five years and we were happy that Sweeney was able to get us in. Fortunately for us this was before Sweeney got into a bit of trouble: In September 2006, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released its ‘The 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress’ and Sweeney was one of the 20.

Our visit to the Chinese visa issuing place was much different than the one to Sydney. We had one of those Chinese moments where everything takes longer and goes slow compared to what us Westerns want but after a couple of hours, chatting about stuff like the price of wine in Australia and how many children we had and lots of smiles and interpretations we got our passports with our official work-visa to July 31st 2014. Being past 65 this is a big deal for me as in most provinces the work-visa limit is 60. I believe from our conversation at the visa office that Chinese retirement is 60 then I think they get a pension which puts away the thought that china does not look after their people.

What we are finding is that a lot of stuff we have been told in the Western media is quite different than the China we see on a day-to-day basis. People; whether authorities or folks in the street are really quite friendly. They stop and stare like we are from another galaxy but with five planets in Leo it does not bother me. They are generally a very curious lot and want to know about Westerns.  We are curious too; and of course I am very curious about their fascination with all things French as I will show in a moment.

Saturday was the big 11th Annual Dalian International Walking Festival. We signed up before realizing we had a dentist appointment at 11 AM. We figured we would walk for an hour then catch a cab into town. As things would have it, in a town that does not see much rain fall, all day Saturday it rained. I put on my waterproof ‘Tommy Hilfiger’ trendy coat (even old people like to look stylish) and we took the school van in a dozen or so other ‘walkers’ from school.

Tommy Hilfiger’ rain coat

Tommy Hilfiger’ rain coat

There were a lot of people, like many thousands, all with their umbrellas up headed out on the 5 – 30 kilometer walk going along the Coastal Road, “Bin Hai Road”. We had intended to do just the first five. Actually we did the first few blocks then disappeared up a side street and caught a cab to the dentist.

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At the start of the race is Dalian Castle Hotel, a 6-star hotel (300 rooms) due to open December 1, 2013.

Dalian Castle Hotel

Dalian Castle Hotel

It overlooks Xinghai Bay, 星海广场 and of course a million or so walkers in May, rain or shine.

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Of course it is the statue in front that I find even more interesting than a walled castle being constructed in the midst of a city;

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Definitely my kind of hotel if I could afford a six-star hotel, I did not even know they had such a ranking.

After the dentist we took the light rail (轻轨, qing gui) to Kaifaqu. Normally we take the shopping bus and get our groceries but we missed the bus. Harbor Deli is one of our stops as it is near the Kaifaqu qing gui station which is the Five Colour City stop and they have Western crap; cheese, cereal and that which we cannot otherwise find. Of course the rain was ever present as we took a bus (for one RMB = 15 cents US) instead of walking to the green-door – not the name of the place but we have no idea what the sign says – and loaded ourselves down for the week.

We figured we would take a cab home but after a couple of cabbies said no and another said two-hundred RMB (30 bucks) we realized the only way home for us was to call Jack – our regular driver who came and collected us and took us for 70 RMB – about 1/3 the cost of a taxi. Of course it was not Jack himself but one of his mates – we call them all Jack. If this was Australia we would just add an o to the end as Australian’s do and call him Jacko but we don’t and we won’t.

We were so exhausted by the time Jack came as will as wet we were ready to go to sleep on the sidewalk. This is one of the most difficult things with living at Campus Village; the transportation is almost too difficult.  This is the second time we spent an exhausting Saturday and got ourselves stuck. If there is a lesson we are not learning it except that we should stop shopping anywhere but our local Long Shan Village.

We received the invite; ‘Famous French and English Bands’ at the Chateau du Vin Bordeaux in our school email. Chateau du Vin Bordeaux, which was called, last year, Chateau De Bourdeux, across the street from us – I can see it from my balcony. (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTioCA7Ct44&feature=share&list=UUzGrI_yggI56Gpp2ZyNQAXw, a year ago) has been another castle dreaming of France but this one you can live at as they are  The Dalian Haichang Group is building 400 luxury villas in this style. We toured the place last year and when we asked why they had not sold any we were told because they were too expensive, like a million dollars plus. The Haichang Group have been purchasing lots of chateauxs in France – see The Chinese Chateaux In Bordeaux for the down-and-dirty. Of course we are hoping this will mean cheap French wine locally.

Some of my images for this afternoon visit to almost France – China style.

The first one is a view of our apartment from the local million dollars plus flat.

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 Chateau De Bourdeux

Chateau De Bourdeux

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 Chateau De Bourdeux

Chateau De Bourdeux

china likes putting these kinds of ships around the place - this is a view from Chateau De Bourdeux

china likes putting these kinds of ships around the place – this is a view from Chateau De Bourdeux

A Chinese miracle

A Chinese miracle

airport

Just to prove that miracles are not the sole (soul) domain of the Western religious-philosophers-‘we-are-the-chosen’ we discovered that even in China miracles do occur. I am defining miracle as that which is outside the ‘normal’ realm of our flitterings through life; those events that happen with some possible intervention beyond some dim bats occasional form of self-interpreted helpfulness. I grew up (really I did) with the notion that according to the Methodists anyway that China’s communist darkness would never allow in a sliver of light that would guide a couple of lost Westerns who were not lost until the Chinese directed them toward a path that could have led directly to disaster – disaster in the sense of experience deprivation of wanted experience, not a disaster of impending doom.

OK! The story.

We left Campus Village all excited about getting our sorry asses to Adelaide in time for Narda’s sons and one of their 30th birthday parties; one son flying in from Atlanta, Georgia, one from Hanoi and birthday boy at home in the Adelaide Hills with granddaughter in tow; and us popping in from China just for a party. We booked our flight six months in advance knowing that everything would be booked for Chinese New Years. We got to Dalian Airport three hours in advanced knowing how they have a tendency to stuff things up. We had gotten an email the night before saying our flight was on-time and wishing us a great journey or ever what they say, in Chinese. At the China Southern counter, ‘flight canceled’! After recovering from the shock of that news we were informed that another flight to Guangzhou was leaving in a few hours, which of course would be too late to hop onto our flight to Melbourne.

These are the same people, I am sure, at least it is the same airline, who lost our Piggly Wiggly umbrella – see  the previous post https://neuage.me/2013/02/01/a-piggly-wiggly-story/ after it made the journey from Atlanta, Georgia to NYC to Melbourne > Adelaide > back to Melbourne to Guangzhou – then somewhere between Guangzhou and Dalian China Southern managed to lose it – the umbrella.

After finding someone with some English to understand that we could not miss our flight to Melbourne they said they could fly us to Shanghai then put us on another airline, China Eastern – which we hate, but we had to get to Melbourne by the next afternoon to continue our flight on to Adelaide to get to Narda’s son’s birthday party in the Adelaide Hills. We had even taken two days off from work without pay to do this. Plus Narda surely wanted to be at her granddaughter’s christening – which a fellow worker wondered how we got two days leave to attend a pagan festival – which is Sunday. We had to get to Australia.

We got ourselves OK to Shanghai and ran through the airport dragging too much crap as we do, getting into line – body blocking aggressive Chinese passengers trying to pass us in the queue and collapsed in front of the ticket counter as we tossed out suitcases of too much crap onto the weighing machine. ‘Flight full – no seats, take your bags off’. Holy guacamole – did they really say that? We told them about China Southern saying we could switch airlines – we had our vouchers but they said to go and wait at the standby counter. Narda was fighting back tears, I was trying to keep us from annihilation, and the crowding people around us all looked like enemy foo fighters – whatever that is.

At the standby counter they said the flight was overbooked and already full. Narda said we had to get on the flight to get to Adelaide for her son’s wedding. Me, never being good as a spy or secretive person said whose wedding, which of course upset Narda all the more because I am a bit of an idiot in these situations.

They said we would be moved to the top two if any seats were opened which would only happen if there were two no-shows, the chances we none to slim. We looked at the options which would be to try and get to Guangzhou the next day and hope we could get onto the next night’s flight which too was booked full and we would miss Narda’s party which was the whole idea of this trip we had planned for months.

At 7:30 the flight was closed and at 7:32 we got the call to the desk with a simple ‘passports’ and that was it. We quickly got our suitcase onto the conveyor belt and got our boarding pass plus a sticker to put on our clothes that indicated that we were to rush through lines like customs and passport control and all those other things the Chinese like to check us out with. These things always tax me – running through airports with camera bag, computer bag, things falling out of my pocket – it is easier for Narda – she is organized with stuff in one bag, and she is seven and a half years younger than me and I get out of breath trying to keep up with her but of course what man could keep up with such a vibrant chick on a very focused mission of seeing her sons within 24 hours? Puffing and panting, waving off potential heart-attacks, leg cramps, a very real stomach ache, and head ache I followed her through the VIP lines and somehow we got to the gate panting and puffing to find the flight was delayed by an hour.

We use to fly through Shanghai on China Eastern as part of round-the-world fares with Star Alliance and every time, this would be at least four if not five times, the flight from Shanghai to Melbourne was hours late. Now our concern was the flight Melbourne to Adelaide which Narda said left Melbourne at 11:30 AM and we were due to arrive at 11 AM the next day. Thirty minutes to get through baggage, customs and get our boarding pass at Qantas domestic which is a long hike from the international terminal

Bottom line was that we were on a plane finally though 20 rows apart but at least on the same plane. I told the first hostess that I saw about our changed flights and that I had to have vegetarian. Two reasons for that is that one I am a vegetarian two even Narda orders vegetarian because the meat meals on Asian airlines are shockingly horrible and taste worse – so I am informed. I was told there were no vegetarian meals but she would check first class and lucky there was. I asked to trade my economy seat for a first class meal to a first class seat but her English was not good enough to understand my request, or else she thought I was not funny, or possibly just stupid, nevertheless, I did get a good meal for din din and again for brekky.

We got to Melbourne at 11ish and the impossible task of getting the next flight loomed. We discovered the best thing about being the last onto the plane meant our luggage was the first down the chute at the end of the trip. ‘The last shall be first’ of my Methodist upbringing was actually realistic. Now I wish I had listened to more of their fairy stories. Whilst waiting for the baggage we changed over some 26,000 RMB that we had stored away and got about $3700 Australian for it, a bad deal by hundreds but we were not fretting now. It was good to have some real currency again. The passport line was long as several flights arrived in Melbourne at the same time. For the first time ever we tried using the kiosk for checking in with our passports because we had the new ones with electronic chips in them and it worked saving us another long line. At baggage inspection the line was incredibly long and Narda pleaded with some official type and we got sent through a very short line and no one checked our bags which is very unusual coming into Australia we had saved about 45 minutes so far but we only had 15 minutes to get to the gate so again we ran through the airport panting and puffing and collapsing at the counter pleading to get onto the plane leaving at 11:30, it was now 11:15. The counter person said there was no 11:30 flight that in fact our flight left at 12:10 so for the first time since leaving Campus Village 24 non-sleeping hours earlier we actually had enough time to walk to the gate and sit and wait.

So that is our miracle.

Arriving in Adelaide Narda’s three sons, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter were all waiting… of course Maggie burst in to tears – probably not of joy – of seeing us. Ooops

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But she made good a few moments later for a good family photo

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And we got to Stu’s birthday party, worse for wear, and even stayed until about 11 PM last night. Now, the next day, Saturday, we are booking my flight to Melbourne next Thursday for me to see my son, Sacha and his partner, Georgia, for a couple of days before going back next Saturday to arrive Sunday night in time to be at work Monday morning. And tomorrow Narda and sons are all excited about baby Maggie’s christening.

A fun week we will have next week. We have rented a sea side place for Narda’s three sons and a couple of wives, granddaughter and us for four days; Pt. Elliot, which is where I use to live with my two sons back in the 1980s when I was a single parent wondering what would become of my life. And now I know thirty years later, married, living in China with one son left to share it with and my new great family.

In general I must say life is good.

Christmas Day Hanoi

25 December 2012 Christmas Day Hanoi

As I forgot to add this URL the last blog I scribbled out whilst dashing to a plane in Hoi An here it is http://blog.travelpod.com/members/3bybike We met this couple and their about ten-year old daughter at our hotel. They left Denmark last June and rode through Europe, Thailand, Cambodia and now Vietnam on their way to Australia then to South America on a year-long trek. I traveled with my two boys back in the 1992s but we took planes and trains from Australia through the States, England, France and Germany. They were 8 and 10 at the time and I was a single parent trying to keep track of us; I should have taken a bike built for three and trekked around with them instead of going the comfortable, but by no means easy, way.

After days out in the thicket of humans, and an evening in, after finishing the Book Thief and receiving yet again Shantaram for Christmas – I had read the first hundred pages a year ago and didn’t like it, I will give it another go. But not being in a reading mood I will try and blog. Not sure why I do, I get something like three maybe five hits when I blog so I know I am not writing for anyone else. Nevertheless – to remember, I tell myself – take notes.

Christmas Eve, how does a city get so crowded? It was not a weekend, and do communists even care about Christmas – wait they do; why give up an opportunity to sell just because of beliefs?

We decided to purchase a Christmas Tree and have Brendan and his girlfriend over for The Day. There was more Christmas crap than in the States at a Christmas store bankruptcy sale…

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It was a bit of a chore but we did get a little tree with stuff on it for about three US dollars and a string of blinking lights for another buck; 20 dongs which now sits blinking crazily away in our house.

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Our house is a three stories affair. The first floor is a bit of a garage for us, Brendan parks his motor scooter there when visiting and there is a bit of a bar or coffee area there. It was or sometimes maybe, a café; we don’t know, we are renting it through airbandb (https://www.airbnb.com/) as we have in other cities (Melbourne, and Harlem in NYC). The lounge/living space is on the 2nd floor with a kitchen and the bedroom is on the third floor. We have balconies overlooking Truc Bach Lake and West Lake (Ho Tay). The narrow house is on Nguyen Truong To and easy walking distance to the old section, easy if you are not us. We managed to take over an hour to walk the 20 minute walk getting lost all the way last night, Christmas Eve. Of course with so many people out it took more than an hour to get home.

The house is good though with a few things that would have been better; they did not leave a quilt or blankets and we huddled under sheets and bath towels and we ran out of cooking gas the first day and the shower doesn’t work but there is a stove in the café downstairs that we were able to fire up. We had a candlelit dinner on the balcony on Christmas Eve with Brendan, girlfriend and us…

dinner-resized

Life is good here; a combination of hustle and fast and slow. On the way back from Brendan’s house this afternoon the taxi driver tried to tell us the 72,000 dong fair was 72,000,000 something like going from $3.50 to $35. When we purchase fruit, mango being our favourite, the price really jumps. This is a cheap place but sellers quickly change prices. Often though the price is like 10,000 dong more, like fifty-cents, and in our world vs. their world to us it is not much but to them….

Last night we ate at a local-like place, meaning there were no other westerners in the place and they had a menu with various ways to have your dog prepared. Grilled and boiled were the most popular. I like dogs but I cannot imagine eating one. But I don’t eat any animals and it is for the same reason, I like animals and I am not going to eat something smarter than me. It all started out for religious/spiritual/metaphysical reasons back in the 1960s but even then I think I thought eating an animal was a bit barbaric without the other reasons. I have never come at it since. I believe I have gotten rid of every fiber of religious/spiritual/metaphysical bits out of me so not eating meat is not based on beliefs as I basically don’t have any; though of course every thought is a belief of some sort. I suppose just the image of killing an animal to eat it is too gross for me to contemplate eating one. (perhaps this is why no one reads my blogs, I am too opinionated – of course no one reading my blogs does not prove this because if no one reads my blog then no one would know I may be too opinionated.

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I shot this photo on the way to the shop this afternoon. Who could possible want to kill them and eat them?

What I often wonder is how people seem so happy when surely they are not making big bucks? A lot of people have so little. A lot of people walk around all day selling stuff from what they carry. For example I watched this woman with her fruit and nuts and she walked down our street a few times with no one buying anything. After a while she stopped and chatted with some folks for a bit then picked up her baskets and went on. She was always smiling or at least not appearing too gloomy. Of course she did not know I was tracking here with a 300 mm lens on my pricey Nikon camera from the comfort of my balcony drinking my overpriced flavoured soy-milk.

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We have had a good stay. We did not go to any tourist stops this time in Hanoi, we did a lot of that last year. We just had a little living here time. Tomorrow we are off to Sapa on the overnight train for almost a week then back here for New Years a couple of days then back to cold Dalian, China to work enough to get our sorry asses to Australia in February. Life is good and if it really did end back on the 21st as so many believed it would then whatever dimension we are living in is quite good.

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We’re Back

We are back at school from a summer of travel to the States and Australia which I have gone on about in previous blogs. We have about 18 new staff and at least ten who have left after last school year to teach in schools in India, Istanbul, Brazil, the Middle East, and many other places. In my broadcast journalism course I will be doing a lot of global-video-collaborative projects and look forward to our expats from here syncing with us from their new schools. I will continue my educational blog as soon as school starts on the 16th of August http://neuage.us/edu/blog.html

Here is where our school is – in the fun area of Dalian

 (from http://www.chinatouristmaps.com/travel/liaoning/dalian/dalian-transportations.html) Discoveryland is not shown but it is a bit off this map or a ten-minute bike ride away – the Chinese tacky version of Disneyland. We either walk (20 minutes) or ride our bikes (7 minutes) to the beach before school each morning except when it is too cold to ride then we rug-up and walk.

Today, Sunday, we were going to take the light rail into Dalian but it rained all day and we didn’t get out of the house until almost 10 AM. We took the school’s shopping bus into Kaifaqu, did some shopping and took the light rail home. Not much of an eventful day except it is so good to be home. The States and Australia were great and catching up with family is the best but being back here is tops. We really are not ready to settle in the west. I loved the fact I could turn 65 a couple of days ago and be happily teaching and exploring. That teachers are swept in the dustbin in so many countries is awful. My last school in New York City retrenched us over 55 year olds – eight of us, and hired 20 plus year-old teachers. The school was closed down the next year as one of the worst in NYC – Ross Global Academy.

We are reminded of the constancies of life – when I got into the taxi from the light rail to home I tried to put on my seat belt and the driver waved his hand saying no. Wow, we got a $300 ticket a couple of years ago because Narda had taken off her seat belt for just a moment in a small town in Australia. And I was happy to get soy milk and tofu from my favourite tofu shop in Kaifaqu so all in all it was a great first day back in town shopping even in the rain.

We have moved apartments and the one we have now has great views of the Yellow Sea with a stretch of three balconies to walk out onto from the bedroom, lounge and office. See photo below – a rainy day but off in the distance is the sea. In front is the incredibly tacky new housing development going up across the street from us.

And this is another view slightly to the right showing the hills view with the guard stations and entrance to Campus Village.

And this is looking down the row of housing known as Campus Village.  The blue roofs at the end are the swimming pool and gym of our school.

And here is the actual road distance from where we live (A) to where we are going (B) – see we are surrounded by seas.

And here is the actual road distance from where we live (A) to where we are going (B) – see we are surrounded by seas.

Back Home

What a long trip this has been.

The last time Sacha and I were asleep in the same house in New York was in March of 1992. We were visiting my father and brother in Clifton Park. Mum had died several months earlier and the last time we were together with her was in 1984. It is a long way from Australia so the visits were not frequent. My brother Robert was dying of AIDS. We stayed in his upper east side apartment for a week before going to Clifton Park and staying with my father. He would come to visit us in October of that year, age 87. The boys and I rented a mobile home and with dad in tow we drove around Australia for a few weeks. Those were great times. Leigh was nine years old and talking about pitching for the New York Yankees. Sacha, now asleep in my lounge here on Albermarle Road, Brooklyn, was eleven and as worldly as an eleven year could be. We had already traveled together between Australia and New York a couple of times and we had ‘done’ France, Germany, Hawaii, California and New York along with too many places in Australia.

I just got back last night from Holland. Sacha and Georgia came over from Melbourne to stay at our apartment. I left for Tennessee the day after they got here for new step-son Chris Moreman’s wedding. Then three days later Narda and I were off to Holland for the parent’s 80th birthday celebration. That went for ten-days. If it weren’t for the in-laws there would only be Sacha and I left. Marrying Narda gave me three step-sons and a large family of sisters and parents and lots of relatives in Holland and in Australia. I have my own step-sister and step-brother who I have met once – in Hawaii – but outside of them there is no one left in the States for me.

Since Sacha and I prowled New York back in 1992, my father has died (last year 23 January – three weeks after I started a new teaching job at The Dwight School), Leigh – the tragedy I can not shake – killed himself soon after turning 20 – after achieving his goal to play professional baseball but there was something wrong with him that neither the LA Dodger’s psychiatrist could fix and I did not know about – he went to Sydney then left the world August 16th 2003. Brother Robert died in 1992 soon after our visit.

Now I have three days with Sacha before he goes to Thailand for a week then back to Melbourne. I get to see Sacha often, we spent a few days together last July and in August in Melbourne and I manage to see him each August since Leigh died but always in Australia. This will probably be our last time together ever in New York or even in the States. Sacha was born in Hawaii and then we moved to Australia soon after. I will see him this coming July-August in Melbourne and again on Christmas Day 2008 as we already have our ticket. It has become easier flying back and forth to the point that I do it about twice a year.

I miss seeing Leigh. I have no idea what the future holds and of course no one really does but as long as I have memory, Sacha’s visit this week to NYC will be one of my favorites. We have gone a long ways since the two boys and I lived together in South Australia (Hackham, Mt. Compass, Victor Harbor, Middleton – we lived in ten houses in ten years). I always thought that by this time I would be watching Leigh playing baseball but that died. I did get my PhD after seven years of too much work and sorrow and Sacha is an happy adult of 27. I have been married for six years and that has been good and has given me a connection to Holland and many other places. But I am still the same person of the 1980s that had great dreams and believed that my two children and I would have an incredible trot on this planet. We were so poor and our life was so rough but there was a good quality and depth to it. I enjoyed living and playing with my children in Australia with the great plan of us all living in the USA one day. Here I am living in NYC and Sacha is visiting. It is as close to my dream of the 1980s that I will ever come to.

got to tell ya about this

was me

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yesterday perhaps before