Month: April 2009

Generic post for a Thursday evening

It was another sunny day today, but it didn’t get that way until I was already on my bike and headed for downtown, camera-less. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are collectively a busy and stressful stretch of time, so by the time Thursday hits I’m in decompression mode. I didn’t want to stay at home, so I went to Xinhua bookstore to buy a new book, then headed to the basement-level grocery store at Isetan. For the first time, it was insanely crowded, probably because there was a sale. I picked up some olive oil for 50 RMB, Ferrero Rocher chocolates, and ground pork for dog and people food. Then I returned home and planned my business English class for this evening. Now that’s finished, and my work week is finally ended.

Only it really isn’t. I agreed to work this Sunday as a judge for the UESTC debate competition, which means hopping on the bus at the ungodly hour of 7:20 AM on Sunday morning. Oh, the sacrifices we make for the language arts.

For lack of a better common denominator, I’ll call today’s images “ordinary photos of ordinary places.” How’s that for unbridled creativity?


Finally – the sun

I was filled with ennui this weekend – part boredom, part depression, but mostly emotional letdown after a stressful week. My days were filled with classes, class planning, and preparation for a lecture and powerpoint presentation. My schedule is now busier, with a full schedule of University teaching and two evening classes in Business English. Then, on Friday afternoon I gave a lecture at Sichuan University to about 200 students on American Architecture: Styles and Influences.

I’m really not good at evaluating my own performance when I lecture. I’ve never liked my own speaking voice, and when I also deal with temperamental microphones, it adds to the frustration. The first mic gave off nasty, screeching feedback, so I was handed a cordless mic as a substitute. It had a slight delay, so as I was saying one thing my previous words would suddenly come bouncing back to me. I spoke slower and in shorter phrases, which made me feel like I was speaking underwater, and I started to get disoriented. Meanwhile, the students fanned themselves in the heat and looked sleepy.

When I was finished, I realized that I’d made it through 100 years of American building activity in just over 30 minutes. I’d given the world’s shortest synopsis of material that could easily fill 2 semesters of class. The students, though, had some really perceptive questions, and I was impressed that they’d picked up on some of my finer points. I guess it was a semi-success.

After that, my weekend was filled with movies and sleeping, but on a happy note, I made almost the perfect gong bao ji ding (kung pao chicken) on Saturday night. If you think I’m going to tell you how I made it, though, you’re mistaken, because it took me 3 years to figure it out, and I don’t give up my discoveries that easily. You’ll have to settle for this picture:


gong bao ji ding

After a night of rain, it was a glorious sunny day today (Sunday). I mean the real sun, the one you actually see in the sky, surrounded by blue atmosphere, with a warm feeling on my skin that was a welcome relief after a whole winter of cloudy skies. I took off on my bike to see Chengdu in the sunshine.

New computer


Here’s a picture of the new notebook computer I bought today, an Acer TravelMate 4730. It’s just what I need, at a comparatively low price. Isn’t it boo-tiful?

My next step is to figure out how to get my own internet access, as the University’s internet server is just too slow and unreliable.

It rained last night, which was comforting to listen to as I delved further into A Beautiful Mind, a superb biography of mathematician John Nash (I tried to watch the Major Motion Picture adaptation but couldn’t stand it). The air was clean today, but it had a heavy dampness that hinted at the summer to come. Rumor has it that I’ve agreed to teach summer school for 2 weeks; I guess “send me some information by email and I’ll consider it” translates as “YES.” Lord, I’m already thinking about summer, and I haven’t even lost those 10 pounds or started to assemble my wardrobe yet.