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It’s all done with mirrors

I’ll be your mirror Reflect what you are, in case you don’t know I’ll be the wind, the rain and the sunset The light on your door to show that you’re home When you think the night has seen your mind That inside you’re twisted and unkind Let me stand to show that you are blind Please put down your hands ‘Cause I see you I find it hard to believe you don’t know The beauty that you are But if you don’t let me be your eyes A hand in your darkness, so you won’t be afraid When you think the night has seen your mind That inside you’re twisted and unkind Let me stand to show that you are blind Please put down your hands ‘Cause I see you I’ll be your mirror – by Lou Reed; performed by The Velvet Underground and Nico   A gilded room, a shimmering waterfall of glass, a soft glow of reflected shapes…. Salon, Hotel de Soubise (French National Archives), Paris, 1980

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Future tense

Published on March 28, 2009, by in Teaching.

UESTC building It’s semi-official. I will be teaching next year at Sichuan University, in the Intensive Language Training Center. I’ll be saying goodbye to UESTC after 3 years. I will sign my new teaching contract in May, and the increased salary and benefits will be very welcome. Onward and upward. My moods and my dreams have been affected lately by my allergies. In addition, I started reading The Historian, a novel about searching into the past for details about the historical ruler Vlad the Impaler, aka Dracula. The book incorporates real-life modern vampires, so it gets a bit spooky at times. In a bizarre dream last night, I was dead, or at least semi-dead. I was laid out atop a medieval stone slab in some sort of crypt, the kind of tomb that is topped by carved effigies of those buried beneath. In the dream, instead of carved figures, I was lying on the stone structure in the midst of a cluster of my own long-dead relatives. Periodically we would get up, walk around, talk among ourselves, or even make comments about the mourners who came to visit us. Even more strange, we were in some kind of “theme park” cemetery along the lines of Forest Lawn in Los Angeles, and the burial chambers were fixed to a kind of elevator device that would carry us upward to be displayed among the living, then rotated back down beneath the earth. I have to admit, it was original. I also need

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Let’s do it again … backwards

Published on March 23, 2009, by in Teaching.

  But if, baby, I’m the bottom You’re the top! -Cole Porter, You’re the Top Don’t go getting any funny ideas about today’s post: it’s about essay writing. Today I felt like I was almost back among the living. I made it through my two morning classes after getting up at 5:30 AM to catch the school bus. I explained to my students that I was suffering from allergies and that my voice might give out at any time, but as luck would have it, I ended up talking more than I usually do. That’s not always a good thing. The topic today: the topic sentence. It’s always a tough one to teach, because a truly kick-ass topic sentence is notoriously difficult to write; I should know, because I’ve struggled with enough of them myself. My mistake in the first class was in talking too much about the topic sentence and its virtues, instead of just letting it evolve through student practice. By the time the bell rang for the mid-class break, the students’ eyes were glazed over. If it continued like this, they would be catatonic by the time I got to discussing essay writing. It isn’t that I lacked a good beginning. After all, I started with my favorite analogy: the sandwich model of essay-writing (good stuff in the middle, introduction and conclusion on the top and bottom). It’s not original, but it’s better than using the “cheeseburger” simile that I’ve seen in others’ lesson plans. I then

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A short post for Friday

Published on March 20, 2009, by in Architecture, Teaching.

  This is the first time I’ve ever had my name on a poster. I gave a presentation on “American Architecture” – actually, just Los Angeles buildings. The actual title of my presentation was “crazy L.A.” It’s been an interesting evening. I watched the film Milk, with an amazing performance by Sean Penn. Then, I got locked out of my apartment when the key broke in the lock. I sought refuge in the apartment of two other teachers, who called another teacher, who then called a locksmith, in Chinese. I’m now obviously back in the apartment, or else I wouldn’t be blogging. I’m also sick. It’s the allergy time of year, and it’s getting worse instead of better. Thank goodness for books, DVDs, and YouTube. And bed. I’ve watched an endless procession of old British TV programs – Fawlty Towers, The Avengers, and such.

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Jinli Street – Saturday

Published on March 14, 2009, by in Architecture, Chengdu.

Boy and fish, Jinli Street Jinli Street is ultra-touristy, a fake “ancient” street next to Wuhou Temple. Still, on a partly-sunny Saturday afternoon, in the company of two friends, it was a pleasant place to spend a few hours, sit and drink coffee, and see the sights.