I'm going to buy a new Christmas decoration for our home each year (this year was twinkling lights for the plastic tree) and I make a new Christmas resource for school use, too. This year I drew and coloured in 5 x A3-size pictures and 1 x double-A3, depicting the nativity scene ("not-if-it-is-seen"). I used them in my lessons last weekend and was surprised at how capitivated most of the students were with the story and how little most of them knew about it already. A recurring questions was, "So, where was Santa?".
Gutted to hear yesterday of the death of my childhood hero, Gerry Anderson. My love of his sci-fi puppet shows started in my early teens, I think, when I started to watch repeats of the early shows and collect the memorabilia. I still have an attic full of annuals, action figures, toy vehicles and assorted gems. I was a member of Fanderson too, Gerry's
official Fan Club, for a decade and once met the man himself at a convention. He was gracious enough to sign a photo, while I was too dumbstruck to say much more than "Errr...I'm a big fan...". Although most famous for Thunderbirds, I was a bigger fan of Captain Scarlet, whilst also happily watching Joe 90, Stingray, UFO, Space 1999, Terrahawks, etc. He's been such a big part of my life. FAB. RIP.
The photo above right from Bangladesh appears in my Christmas Newsletter this year. But as my UK friend Jo pointed out, it's not the first picture of me on a boat she's received. The one on the left was taken some 15 years ago in China. I don't think I've aged too badly, although the boatman seems to have!
For anyone who didn't get my Christmas Newsletter 2012 e-mailed through to them, do click below to download a copy.
Ava and I joined a dozen others for a fantastic Christmas meal at my boss's house yesterday. One of our foreign teachers is an ex-professional cook and spent 7 hours preparing the meat (a huge turkey and a ham), 6 veg (including my favourites - brussel sprouts - shipped in from Shanghai!) and 2 desserts - all done to a very high standard. Having played badminton in the afternoon (first time in a month - I'm feeling a lot healthier at the moment), I told myself that my overindulgence was almost justified!
Happy Christmas all!
My school did a really good job this month on the Christmas front. Different crafts and activities were on offer each week - some free, some paid for - including paper angels [see photo, left], suggested by me, having been shown the simple technique by my UK friend Victoria. There were cakes, candies, hats and reindeer antlers on sale. Santa had his own little grotto [see photo, right], and visited each class with gifts. Christmas songs played at the front desk while a nearby screen showed Christmas movies. There were Christmas quizzes on the walls and balloons shaped like bells hanging form the ceiling. It all went remarkably (and unusually!) smoothly and the kids were enthralled.
[..the sun didn't explode yesterday! Phew!!]
Nothing to do with life here in China, but I found this story fascinating:
This is Fredrik Saker from Sweden. The face on his driving licence [see photo] doesn't look unusual, but it is. Have a guess why, before clicking on the "Read More" button below to find out...
Ava was told by one of her customers today that "candles have sold out in Kunming" because so many Chinese believe that the sun will explode on 21st Dec 2012 (...a Mayan myth spread by the Hollywood movie, "2012"). While I guffawed, Ava started searching the internet for online candle shops! Of course, I won't be laughing as much if we are indeed all vaporised tomorrow. But then who will still be around to mock me?
I noticed this statue opposite my school the other day. I must have passed it 100 times without really looking at it properly before. It is smaller than it looks, to be fair. So, perhaps it's time for a blog update on our baby - due on April Fool's Day next year! Time is flying past.
Ava and I spent over 18 hours in the hospital, spread over four days, last week. Chinese hospitals are a frustrating mix of inefficiency, confusion and manic queues. Thankfully, we have friends of friends who help us to skip the odd queue, get fast access to experts and to phone for advice. Pity the poor countryside farmers who spend all day trying to work their way through the system - you queue early in the morning for a ticket to see a doctor, then queue to pay for the visit. Then queue to see the doctor and queue again to pay for any medicines. Another queue to hand in your prescription and a final queue to collect it. You get the idea. Ava's important 6-month scan took longer than expected too, as the baby wouldn't settle in a suitable position to view the heartbeat. It took us four attempts (interspersed with short walks, stair-climbing and jumping up and down, to try and shift the baby around!). Thankfully this test, as with all the others we've done, showed no problems at all. Ava was also keen to find out the sex of the child (for shopping purposes, you understand). Our doctor friend explained that in China it is forbidden to let parents know the child's sex (for fear of female infanticide), so technically she couldn't tell us HIS gender. We got the hint.
Despite us fast approaching Winter, we've been enjoying some chilly but sunshine-filled days here in Kunming recently. Barely any rain for weeks though, which leaves us fearing more water rationing before too long.
Jiajia has been making sure Dorta enjoys the sun though, placing her on our balcony every morning, resting on her banana bed and sporting some fashionable shades. (Is there a more broody pregnant woman out there? I doubt it!!)
I was really sorry to hear of the passing of Sir Patrick Moore today. I had some contact with him in my youth and he was a really generous and humorous chap...
...I used to have an odd thing for ferrets in my teens (...bear with me on this!) and, when a friend of mine at school who was into astronomy told me he had Patrick Moore's home address, I decided to write him a strange letter asking him if it were true that "the earth was actually held in orbit around the sun by a long line of hand-holding asbestos ferrets" (...I kid you not!). To my amazement and great delight he sent back a signed photo saying "Yes, your theory is stoatily proven". What a cool guy! I wrote a couple of more sensible letters after that and had two further replies back (I have kept them all) typed, personally and very badly, on his trusty typewriter [see photo]. I met him briefly too. I spotted him walking towards BBC Broadcasting House and, wanting to boast that I'd met him but not knowing what to say, I bounded up and asked, "Excuse me Mr Moore, do you know where BBC Broadcasting House is?" He looked at me and replied patiently, "It's right there, behind you". A genuinely kind man and an excellent scientist too, of course. RIP, sir.
I thought I'd rustle up a little surprise for the wife's return (from buying shop stock in ShenZhen), by throwing up some simple Christmas decorations in the lounge. As ever, the festivities in Kunming are sparse (...outside of our school, that is. Robert's School has gone to town on decorations this year, and in good time, too). However, the newsagent's shop near my bus stop, which has had a sign up all year wishing people a Happy Christmas, is finally legit again!
I've just won my 500th game on Lexulous, an online Scrabble-like game which I play with three UK friends. We play "e-mail" games because of the time difference, making our moves every day or two. It's great fun - improving one's vocabulary and honing the skill of playing the right word in the right place. As you can see from the stats, I tend to win about two-thirds of the games I play. Wanna challenge me? Just sign up (click here, it's free) and search for me as "oceanofmorality". See you there!
I spotted this poster during my latest hospital visit last week. "Hommization" looked an odd word alongside the others, and not one I'd heard before. The Chinese characters mean "human nature". Googling "hommization" I found that (a) the word does not exist in English, and (b) regardless, it's a word used widely in Chinese websites that have been auto-translated into English. So this means there is a word which appears in most Chinese electronic dictionaries, which is not actually an English word! How weird is that? Which bored dictionary writer decided to make it up? And what exactly is it supposed to mean? Answers on a postcard...
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