Saturday, April 24, 2010

Just because it has to get out there more...

... and because it's timely, appropriate, and gosh-darned funny, here is Chris Ware's rejected cover for the Fortune 500.

Oh, and there's even a comment on China in the background, if you look hard enough. (Sorry, you've gotta click on the link to get the bigger version and get all the little jokes inside...)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Back alleys, Kanding

Incoming photos, that is. Just starting to upload some pictures of our recent Kanding trip to Flickr. Doing the math, two adults + two digital cameras + 3 kids + (mountains + temples + lakes) × Tibetan culture × five days = more photos than we can possibly keep track of. Check out the set now, before it gets so huge that nobody can possibly view it all!
(Or you can wait a day or two until we add captions and stuff if you're the picky kind of person that actually likes to have an idea of what you're seeing - your choice.)

Here are a few more of my faves so far:


Prayer flags, wind.  Paoma Shan, Kanding

Mugecuo Lake, Kanding

Monday, April 19, 2010

Back in town and doing fine


We've had a few people who have heard the news of the recent (last Thursday) earthquake in China write to us, wondering if we had been affected by the quake and if we were safe or not. For those of you who have the same idea of Chinese geography as we did before coming over here, (i.e., slim to none), we'd like to reassure everyone that the earthquake happened in Qinghai province, around 450 miles to west and slightly north of where we are in Sichuan, and that we are indeed safe and sound.

When the earthquake happened, we were coincidentally traveling in a Tibetan area of Sichuan, though, like I mentioned, quite distant from the epicenter. In fact, because we were out being tourists instead of watching TV or checking the internet, we didn't hear about the quake until Saturday night. Checking up on the new now that we're back, our prayers are going out to the people in Yushu and the surrounding affected areas of Qinghai.

Since we were away for what was essentially a long weekend, we're now plunging back into classes and lesson planning, but we'll be around more in the coming month or two and have a chance to catch up on this blog and contact with people Stateside. In the meantime, thanks to all for your concern - always good to know we're in people's minds. Also, if you're like us and feeling more connected to events in the world lately, Sichuan Quake Relief has people on the way to Yushu, and is a great place to donate if you'd like to make a difference.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A (not-so) small question

This has nothing to do with kitchen sinks, or life in China, (except that I'm on the outside looking in), but since when has political discourse in the United States been so venomous? Specifically, when did hatred and fear become the automatic responses to any issue? And how did talk show hosts become the new leaders of the Republican party?

The topic of politics has always been on my back burner, especially since I'm here seeing another system in action. It came closer to the forefront while getting together with other teachers from our organization over Easter weekend a couple of weeks ago. We cover a wide range of political and theological persuasions in our group, but we all have been noticing the hatred oozing out from the web and the talk shows, and we were discussing the various strategies we've been using to deal with it.

I very rarely (okay, let's say never) mention religion in my blog, but to borrow a line: What Would Jesus Do? I don't seem to recall the Good Samaritan too worried about if the man beaten up by the side of the road was sponging off of free government health care or not - didn't he just help the guy? And isn't there something Jesus said about "Blessed are the Peacemakers..." somewhere in there? Just asking...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Continuing with the Simple for a bit

everything and the kitchen sink

Behold, our kitchen sink! Interesting features include, starting from the upper middle:
  • A desk lamp, left by a previous resident, that worked for us for about three months before shorting out that we haven't gotten around to replacing or removing.
  • A string of dried persimmons (yummy!) given to us by a colleague shortly after Chinese New Year's. They taste a bit like Fig Newtons, and are great in oatmeal or on their own.
  • A hanging flower vase made from wire and a water bottle, made by a group of Jane's students as part of their "make something and describe it to the class" presentation assignment.
  • Dangerous looking electrical outlets. One of those cables powers our fridge, I think.
  • Dish rack, purchased from Ikea in our first month here and still going strong.
  • Post-It notes with Chinese vocabulary. (re, nuan, liang, leng - bet you can guess what they mean.)
  • One of our many reusable water bottles and a dirty dish or three.
  • Fruit and vegetable soap, for scrubbin' them watermelons! (and tomatoes and apples and...)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Thinking small

It just occurred to me that one reason I have a lull in blog posts from time to time (aside from the fact that, oh, I'm teaching about 380 students each week, am learning a new language in a new country, am a husband and father of three, and want to have a life as well...) is that things are often just Too Darn Big To Write About.

For example, on a 40 minute bike ride with Ysa just yesterday, I went past a percussion band made up of retirees wearing lavender polyester military-style uniforms that were marching in formation in front of a new cosmetics store, a Tibetan monk, seven or eight construction cranes, a neighboring culinary institute where all of the students seemed to be wearing blue jumpsuits, a brick wall built across the end of a road with rice fields beyond it, four or five guys pushing wheelbarrows full of wet cement at least 100 yards from any construction site, three abandoned farmhouses, an entire class of college students walking along a busy street with sketchpads and folding easels, and a lunch cart with a crazily wobbling wheel being pushed directly at me. Oh, and can't forget to mention the usual five or ten people yelling "Hello, Hello!" at us as well...

See what I mean? Where can I begin talking about a bike ride like that? (Don't worry, I avoided hitting the lunch cart.) I'm starting to realize another reason why so many of my blog posts are about food - at least I can passably describe a meal in a paragraph or two. Thank goodness for Maira Kalman. At the bottom of the essay that I linked to recently, after a long series of questions about the nature of immigration in America, she writes: "'Think small' is my new motto. It helps me handle the complicated too-muchness of it all." What, does that mean that I can't describe Every Aspect of Expatriate Life in China in two-or-three-paragraph blog posts? Preach it, Maira, preach it!

Herewith, therefore, a photo of a mop I saw leaning against the wall of a Buddhist temple that we visited while in Nanchong last weekend over Easter:

Mop, Quile temple, Nanchong

Pretty, isn't it? Have a look at the larger version here - you know you want to. More (or less, as the case may be) next post.