A spinoff in proper "Rhoda" style of my patented e-mail blastograms, this blog was created with the intention of keeping friends and family updated on and amused by my life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Now, as far as search engines go, I feel like Google generally does a good job sorting out the relevant pages from the riffraff. Yahoo, on the other hand, needs some more help. Recently, one of my blog entries has been receiving hundreds of hits. Which one? Well, the one that was effectively my first real post on this new website: Thanksgiving Madness. Why? Because it is coming in on the Top 10 for the search “Thanksgiving Fun Facts” (number 5) as well as “Fun Thanksgiving Facts” (number 8). Unfortunately for those unsuspecting surfers, that page has absolutely nothing to do with the history of Thanksgiving at all, unless you consider what I did last year to celebrate Turkey Day history. Now, I don’t mind the traffic, but I feel a little guilty that it has absolutely no relevance, so I just decided to edit the post to include the outline of my lesson plan for Thanksgiving. At least there’s some actual information in there. Also, I just found this website from the US Census Bureau, with some very interesting Thanksgiving Facts that I thought I'd share :o) .

But actually, this isn’t the first time I’ve had issues with search engines. For many years, I was one of the web’s leading experts on druidism. Yep, that’s right, druidism. When I was in NINTH GRADE I did my history report on druidism. At that time I was also exploring how to create webpages, and so, not having much else to post, I posted my report. It became popular in the neo-pagan circles as a good introduction to druidism. I actually took the page down years ago, and yet I’ve found it copied elsewhere, without credit mind you, and thus share with you the link. If this isn’t a lesson in using the Internet as a credible source, I don’t know what is!

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Bushie Comes to Town

The MSNBC/AP spin:

Bush brings human rights message to China
President attends church before meeting with leadership

Putting human rights atop his agenda, President Bush promoted religious freedom in this communist nation Sunday by attending church services before meeting top leaders.

Bush tried to send a visible message about human rights across this land of 1.3 billion people by worshipping at the Gangwashi Church, one of five officially recognized Protestant churches in Beijing. On a chilly morning, the president arrived at the church with his wife, Laura.

In the church’s guest book, Bush wrote “May God bless the Christians of China.”

Under the president’s inscription, the first lady wrote: “And with love and respect, Laura Bush.”

The State Department cited China this month as one of eight countries of “particular concern” for denying religious freedom. The White House urged China’s state-controlled media not to censor news of Bush’s visit.

The China Daily, the official English language newspaper in China, spin:

Bush's visit symbolic but still important

Anti-terrorism co-operation, nuclear stand-off on the Korean Peninsula and Iran, the Taiwan question, trade deficit, intellectual property rights protection, and bird flu.

The wide range of topics on the agenda during US President George W. Bush's visit to China shows that Washington and Beijing share more and more common interests, according to analysts.

This fact, they predict, will prompt Bush to sound a more positive note while outlining his administration's China policy in Beijing.

Now, I'm willing to give the China Daily the benefit of the doubt for now, I mean it is a daily newspaper, and this visit to church did just happen, but something tells me that the Chinese people are going to miss any comments Bush has to make about China's human rights...we shall see.

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Saturday, November 19, 2005


Well, once again it seems like it’s been ages since I’ve posted to my blog for real—posting someone else’s comic, not matter how perfect I think it is, hardly counts. My problem is not that I don’t have anything to write, but rather, that I have too much to write. The last three weeks have been so full of intrigue that it’s hard to figure out where to start. However, a lot of it revolves around a new friend, Y.L., so I suppose we can start there.

When did I become an embittered expat?

At the end of October, a friend who I had met several months earlier returned to Kunming from a trip to Japan. Originally from Singapore, Y.L. went to university in the US, and thus is both fluent in Chinese and English (he also studied in Paris, so we share French too actually). He had originally come to Kunming last spring (though I didn’t meet him at that time) as part of an art exhibition and to take part in a workshop at one of the art institutes here in Kunming. After a very successful workshop, they asked him to return this year as a digital media professor. Unfortunately, they really screwed up his visa…twice. “Typically Chinese,” I said to him one night over dinner.

The weekend before that was Halloween. That Friday I had decided to throw a big party for all of my students as well as the students of the other teachers at Yunda. This was probably my fourth or fifth big party I’ve organized here, so I felt fairly certain that I had things under control. I had reserved the cafeteria in the foreign students’ complex, I had spent an entire afternoon running around Kunming looking for round pumpkins (which I never was able to find, btw, with the exception of one for 400¥ [about $50], or about the average monthly salary in China…couldn’t help but get the feeling I was being cheated.), bought all the food and decorations, and had even found a costume. Despite the difficulties with the pumpkins, things were coming together.

That is, until 7 o’clock the night of the party (the party started at eight). I was just about to head out the door, decorations in hand, when Clara, the poor woman in charge of taking care of all the foreign teachers, gives me a call. “There’s a problem,” she says. I brace for impact. “Although I reserved the cafeteria on Monday from the managers of the compound, there is now a large group of Vietnamese students there having their own party…apparently when they asked on Thursday the managers thought they were part of our group. They told me this morning.” It was all I could do not to scream (although it was the first thing I did after I hung up the phone).

I explained as calmly as I could given the circumstances that, “I have spent over 500¥ organizing this party, have spent the better part of the last two days preparing for it, and have invited over 150 people. I’m not going to cancel it forty-five minutes before it starts!” And then we tried to come up with some solutions. My favorite idea included sending Chesa, who was dressed up as a soldier with a b-b gun to boot, into the cafeteria and scare all of the Vietnamese out. I would then follow up in my cowboy costume and lasso. We settled on sharing the space, though I was incredibly unhappy about it. Generally things went okay, but the Vietnamese insisted on spraying EVERYBODY with beer, even while we were attempting the limbo, and managed to spray Aaliyah in so doing. Now, I would mention that Aaliyah is a quite devout Muslim who doesn’t drink, and so being sprayed with a bunch of beer was quite an affront. Moreover, at that time we were still in the middle of Ramadan. When she got angry, they just laughed.

Needless to say, I was entirely frustrated with the entire situation, and couldn’t help but exclaim at several different occasions something to the effect of: “What kind of f*ckwit managers run this place?! This is so typically Chinese, and it’s not the first time they’ve screwed up. That foreigners’ compound is so mismanaged. Nobody checked with anybody, and even Clara, who knew about it since this morning failed to tell me until the event was about to start. If she had mentioned it earlier, we probably could have worked out a solution. But no, Chinese just have to avoid confrontation. It’s so irrational and so typical.”

“You know, these are the kind of things that frustrate Chinese people too,” responded several different Chinese people to whom I recounted this story. I was too absorbed thinking, ‘yeah, well, of course,’ to really notice what they were saying.

But YL pointed out to me at that same dinner how harsh I was being towards the Chinese as an entire people. He noted that not all Chinese are like that, and emphasized again that such situations also bother Chinese people. It was at that point that it hit me: I have become that bitter complainy foreigner without even noticing. I’m glad I had this realization though, for the first step is admitting you have a problem.

Of course, a couple of days later, YL turned around and said that all Americans are self-centered and he can’t understand why they have this urge, no this need, to make it known what kind of a person they are by form of short (or worse, long) declarations without real conversation. So, I guess it goes both ways.

And, that was a long enough story, so just know that I owe you the following posts:
Stereotypes in China
Fall in Kunming
Xiao Xiong’s GI


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

America the Great

I feel like this says it all!


Monday, November 14, 2005

In a word...

Found this description of me on a friend's blog and couldn't help but wonder if I could put it on my resume :o) :

Jeff: A lovable, sociable, and occasionally caustic man with glasses and a beard that make him look like a real professor. 23. Teaching for 2nd year at 雲南大學.