If you're a toilet, use the one on the right.
As some readers may know, about three weeks ago I was challenged on Facebook to do 22 press-ups every day for 22 days to raise awareness of mental health issues suffered by veterans. I decided to give it a go, with video of each effort posted onto Facebook. I only manged 10-20 in the first few days, but soon got up to the full 22 and yesterday was my final session. It was fun for a while, but I don't think I'll be carrying it on any longer!
I was throwing out some old lesson plan books the other day when I stumbled across this class list from 2008. There in the middle is mention of "Ava". Little did I know I'd be marrying her some three years later! It certainly wasn't love at first sight. I barely remember her, if I'm being honest. I recall she used to get lots of phonecalls in the lesson and have to leave the classroom to deal with them. I know now, of course, that to miss certain calls can cost her business a lot of money but at the time I thought it was all a little bit rude and distracting. (Looking at the list again, there were certainly some oddly named students in that class. Guess I'm lucky I didn't marry "Astor Eagle"!)
I had my first full day in the two new schools where I now work each Wednesday. Four morning lessons in a Primary School, followed by lunch in their Teachers' Canteen, rather memorably translated as the "Life-experiencing Room"! Then a short e-bike trip to a Middle School for three more lessons. (One of the Chinese teachers there said that I teach more lessons in one day than he does in the whole week). Today's lessons built up to a restaurant role-play, complete with props, which the students really enjoyed. Somewhat less interesting for me by the seventh lesson, mind you!
I spent yesterday in two schools, giving demonstration lessons with a view to teaching a one day a week (in addition to my day at University). In the morning it was WaiYu Primary School who were offering 2-3 lessons to classes of fifty or more 10-11 year olds. Between my two demo classes, I watched the students do morning exercises [see above] and eye exercises [see below]. The lessons seemed to go well and they later called me asking if I would commit to a regular four lessons a week.
In the afternoon it was the turn of Da Cheng Middle School and, after lunch in the school canteen, another three lessons there with students aged 13-14 years. It turns out this school is actually a converted hospital and I was later told my lessons were in the old mortuary rooms <insert your own joke here>!
These lessons also seemed to go well and I was signed up for a regular 3 lessons a week. So it's going to be a busy and tiring Wednesday, with 7 non-textbook lessons to kids of various ages in two distinct locations. plus dropping JD off at Kindergarten beforehand and picking him up afterwards. Along with my Monday's University teaching, it certainly provides a varied week of teaching, with students of all ages and ability levels.
I ran out of space in my bank passbook the other day so I popped into the bank today to get a new one. What a nightmare! My local branch compared my passport with their computer records and said that, as I'd changed my passport since getting the last passbook, I would have to bring in my old passport too. And I'd have to go to the actual branch across town that had issued the last book. Back home to get the old passport and off to my original branch ... which has since been demolished. So I headed for the main Kunming branch. Then an hour's wait on their automated queuing system, which prioritises "VIPs", to get to see a banker. She was quickly joined by 3 other tellers all looking puzzled. The supervisor was called. They explained that they couldn't just update my passport information as their records had my name in lower case and the new passport had my name in upper case!? The only thing for it was to close my account and open a new one with my current passport. This meant completing a total of seven forms, all in Chinese. I asked the teller to write my home address for me in characters, but she said that was illegal and I had to write it myself. I did. They couldn't read it. I showed them the printed address. They rewrote it for me. Another hour passed. Finally, I got my new bank card and was asked to type in a new PIN ("Not the same one, sir"). I then went to an ATM to try it. Rejected. The teller suggested trying the old PIN. Rejected. "Try the new one but more slowly". Rejected. And now the ATM says my card has been locked and confiscated to avoid fraudulent use. I leave for lunch while they try and retrieve the card and reset the PIN.
Half an hour after returning, I find myself the proud owner of a new, working bank card. Woohoo!
"So can I now finally have my new passbook?" I enquire.
"Sorry sir, we are phasing them out and new accounts no longer get one. You can do it all online."
"Not if you can't read the Chinese website" I reply, pretty angry by now. Why, you wonder, did she not mention that fact 3 hours ago??
The only positive was spotting a couple of "smashing" Chinglish signs [see above and right]. I could have done with some "loving care".
JD and I took Fireman Sam on the local train today. Before JD started Kindergarten we used to go on a weekday and the passengers would often be outnumbered by the railway staff, but weekends get packed with gradnparents taking their grandchildren out for the 40 minute each way trip. On today's journey, JD said, "I love going on the train, but it is so boring!". I can understand that. However, yesterday he told me his favourite thing about the UK trip was "looking for slugs" in my parents' garden, so who knows what goes on in that mind of his!
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