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.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

She Was Like Family

There was a report the other day on Jean’s condition in the Chengdu Economic Daily that I thought I’d try to share with you all. For those of you who can read Chinese, you can go directly to the article or read below. Otherwise, here’s my (rather poor) translation:

An American-Born Professor Critically Ill, Sichuan University Students Raise Funds
Chengdu Economic Daily

A 58 year-old American Ph.D. traveled a long distance to teach at Sichuan University. Her promotion of environmental protection and her mindfulness and generosity towards those around her deeply moved her students and those who knew her. However, a sudden illness made this much beloved American-born teacher fall into a deep coma. After learning this news, more than ten of her former students who had already left Sichuan University’s Foreign Training Center for various fields throughout society began soliciting donations.

The Scene: Students Raise Funds for Critically Ill Teacher

Yesterday at eight in the morning, in front of Sichuan University’s Foreign Training Center, several 20-something male and female students were stationed with a donations box. “We really want to save her life.” Sitting beside the donations box was Mr. Wang, once a student of Jean’s. Tears cluing to his face. He told reporters that after arriving in February of 2002 Jean came to teach at Sichuan University’s Foreign Training Center as a professor of English and IELTS Examiner. In September of 2004, Jean left Sichuan to teach at Yunnan University. During January of this year, Jean suddenly fell ill and was taken to a hospital to receive medical treatment. Doctors determined she had multi-organ failure, though the cause was uncertain. Currently, Jean remains in a deep coma. In the coming days it is possible that she will be moved to Bangkok, Thailand to receive medical care.

“The transfer fee and medical expenses are enormous.” The Foreign Affairs Secretary for the Training Center, Professor Xiong, said that, upon hearing of Jean’s critical medical condition, they immediately contacted Jean’s former students and even began raising funds.

Yesterday alone, they had already raised more than 2000 yuan. One woman carrying her daughter immediately donated 100 yuan, saying that she had heard how kind-hearted Jean was from friends. “I wish her a speedy recovery,” she said. One young man donning a security guard uniform slipped a coin in the slot of the donations box, saying “I don’t earn much, but I want to express my gratitude.” He said that, although he had never officially met Jean, they exchanged pleasantries every day at work. “Her generosity earned my respect.”

Narrative: She Was Like Family

“She was like family to us.” Mr. Wang recounted that once, he had casually mentioned to Jean that he wanted to by some teaching materials published by Oxford, but that he couldn’t find them anywhere in China. In 2004, already having graduated, he received a package sent by Jean on his birthday. Inside were the materials he had been thinking about for a long time. “She had asked her son to purchase them for me.” Mr. Wang also said that he was by no means the only student to receive such special gifts. “Her salary was certainly not high,” said Ms. Mao, another of Jean’s former students, but as they witnessed, whenever there was a student in need, she generously contributed two or three hundred yuan.

“Jean’s desire to protect the environment was very strong,” said Professor Xiong. During the two years that she knew Jean, Jean always used her own personal behavior to influence those around her to help protect the environment.

Internship Reporters Deng Peiguang and Yu WenLong

美籍女教师病危 川大学子募捐




“我们真的好想留住她的生命。”坐在募捐箱旁的汪先生曾是Jean的学生,他的脸上还挂着泪珠。他告诉记者,Jean2002年2月来到中国后,便在四川大学出国人员培训中心担任英语老师和雅思考官,2004年9月,Jean离开四川到云南大学任教。今年1月中旬,Jean忽然发病,被送入昆明市一家医院接受治疗。医生判断她多脏器衰竭,原因不确定。目前Jean仍然深度昏迷。近期她可能被转送到泰国曼谷治疗。 “转院和治疗费用是一笔巨大支出。”该培训中心外事秘书熊老师说,得知Jean身患重病的消息后,他们立即与Jean原来的学生取得联系并发起了募捐.



“她对我们像亲人朋友一样。”汪先生说,他曾无意间向Jean说起他想买一本牛津大学的教材,却苦于国内没有地方卖。2004年,已经毕业的他在生日那天却突然收到了Jean寄给他的包裹,里面正是他想了很久的那本教材,“那是她托她在美国工作的儿子为我购买的。”汪先生说,收到Jean的这种特别礼物的同学远远不只他一个人。   “她平时的工资并不高。”Jean的另一名学生毛小姐说,他们看到,每次为失学儿童募捐时,Jean总会大方地捐助两三百元!


实习记者 邓旆光 余文龙


Tuesday, March 14, 2006


China is trying to kick me while I'm down, but they underestimate me! But then, nobody ever expects the Spanish Inquestition!!

Today we woke to discover google.com and gmail.com on the new list of unaccessible sites on our home internet. Presumably, we should be using google.com.cn in order to do our searching from now on...it being censored and all. Well, so, I played their game. I went to google.com.cn, googled "proxy servers out of China" and got a link that directed me to many public proxy servers that help me scoot around China's firewall!

Take that Chinese government!

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Random Acts of Violence

The news of an attack in the holiest city in India, Varanasi seems in keeping with this lousy week. Random violence always strikes a cord with me, whether it be 9-11, USS Cole, Madrid, Bali, Casablanca, London, Manila (the one that I was closest to), Damascus, or now Varanasi. After I went back to help with my friend here in Kunming, Chesa continued on around India and made a last minute trip to Varanasi, so it makes it feel more personal. Besides Bali and Damascus, I have personal connections to each of those cities and it just sickens me every time. Will this week get better yet?! Please?!

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Just one of those weeks…

Nothing seemed to go right yesterday, or really much at all this week. I suppose it’s inevitable to have weeks (months? Please not!) like this, but knowing that doesn’t seem to make things any better.

Yesterday my friend slipped back into a rather deep coma here in Kunming. We’re really unsure as to what caused this most recent relapse (heck, we’re still trying to figure out what caused her last downturn…oh wait, we still don’t even know for sure what caused her original problem!), and it could be anything. One of the potential causes could have been the fact that the Chinese nurses last night stopped feeding her due to bad diarrhea but forgot to stop giving her insulin…in case she didn’t have enough problems, they thought sending her into hypoglycemic shock might be fun apparently. Unfortunately, if this were the only cause, she should have pulled back out of a coma as her blood sugar levels increased to normal levels. This did not happen.

Regardless of whether that was the cause, it seems like the only realistic option at this point if we want to keep her alive is to get her out of this poor facility (the best hospital in the province, btw). That meant that yesterday was spent for me mainly on the phone with people anywhere and everywhere. I talked with her family back in the US, called hospitals in the US and Thailand, talked with the evacuation service, etc, etc. Thank goodness for Skype!

After that, it was off to the hospital to actually see how she is doing. She looked like she was sleeping peacefully, and I remember when seeing her in this state seemed like an improvement, but she was so active on Sunday and Monday. We had not just smiles, but full facial expressions including raised eyebrows. Seeing her so good and suddenly so bad is, to use and already over-used cliché, quite the roller coaster ride! I feel like there should be a point where she just gets better, but we’re clearly not there yet.

After the hospital, I came home and tried going to my local pub for a happy hour, 5 元 (US$0.75) Gin and Tonic. As I ordered, I thought to myself, ‘wouldn’t it be just about right if for some reason this wasn’t on special today like it has been for the last year?’ I turned to pay, handed them a fifty and got forty back. “Shouldn’t it be 45元?” I questioned. “Oh, normally it is, but because Dali beer is on special today, nothing else is. Sorry I forgot to tell you…”

So now we sit, wait, and grumble through. SOS (the evacuation company) is supposed to be contacting us with a plan soon, so there isn’t much we can do until then. Let me tell you though, this has been a logistical and financial nightmare. If there is any lesson I get from this experience, it’s that you MUST MUST MUST get insurance! Seriously! Get it if you don’t have it!

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Monday, March 06, 2006


I just watched some of the Oscars on CCTV (Chinese Central Television), as I love the show and wouldn’t miss it for the world. I was also waiting particularly to see what happened if (when, because we all knew he was going to when it) Ang Lee (李安) won for Best Director. CCTV had managed to edit the four+ hour show down to about two-and-a-half hours, so obvious cuts had been made to both filler and even some speeches, and though I they hadn’t been cutting the major awards, I had a feeling that if Lee (who is Taiwanese) won, there might be some edits.

Indeed there were. After listening to the broadcast, I went on-line to see what I missed. According to Oscar.com, the speech went something like this:

Wow. I wish I knew how to quit you. First of all, i want to thank two people who don't even exist. Or I should say, they do exist, because of the imagination of Annie Proulx and the artistry of Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. Their names are Ennis and Jack. And they taught all of us who made "Brokeback Mountain" so much about not just all the gay men and women whose love is denied by society, but just as important, the greatness of love itself. Thank you. Thank you members of the Academy for this tremendous honor. And to everyone at Focus Features, in particular, David Linde, James Schamus, thank you for your love and support. To Bill Pohlad, Tory Metzger, Ira Schreck , Joe Dapello, many thanks, and a special thanks to David Lee. And thanks to my wife, Jane Lin, and my boys, Han and Mason. I love you. On "Brokeback Mountain," I felt you with me every day. I just did this movie after my father passed away. More than any other, I made this for him. And finally, to my mother and family, and everybody in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. Thank you.

The first thing missing: the whole first part! The censoring bureau has actually banned Brokeback Mountain from showing in movie theatres (though it’s available in all the illegal DVD stores) due to its “questionable” content. Thus, all those references to homosexuality were gone. In other words, what the Chinese saw started from “Thank you. Thank you members of the Academy…” We stopped after “Han and Mason,” and cut back in as he said “谢谢大…关系.” The first part means “thank you everybody.” The last part was clearly bad editing as it doesn’t make any sense in Chinese. Unfortunately, what is found in the above transcript doesn’t have what he said in Chinese, because I’d quite frankly be interested to know what it was. I’ll have to try to find a recording, or I can hope we get it past the censors when we watch the un-cut version on StarWorld on Wednesday.

In any case, besides cutting out references to homosexuality, the other thing that was clearly cut was references to Taiwan and Hong Kong…of course, since they are both parts of China, why would he need to mention them separately?! Well, at least that’s the Chinese mindset.

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More on Ports

Normally I don't get responses to blog posts, but when I do, they're usually just tagged on the end by using the 'Comments' button. However, my dad had what I considered an interesting response that deserved more than just a tag. Who knew two guys from Colorado (or who have at least lived in CO a good portion of their respective lives) would have so much to say on ports :o). Anyway, here's what my dad had to say on the issue:

I read with interest your blog concerning our ports discussion.

It’s all politics on several levels.

First, the Bush administration has some responsibility to keep the Congress informed. Second George loves to tell the US how concerned he is with security issues. His administration never saw this coming. When the Brits started to divest themselves of this interest, the security issue should have been raised if one exists in the first place. It was at this level that the ownership issue should have been raised. Regularly, corporate ownership policies get taken care of during the divestiture process. Ownership in the US ports was just a small crumb in the scale of everything and the actual operations within the ports was insignificant as well.

The unanswered issue in the US really isn’t about Arabs owning a few terminal facilities, it’s whether their ownership allows them an inside into our security arrangements in our ports. Most wonder what firewalls exist to prevent the owners from finding out everything about how the US government intends to control port access. The UAE keeps bringing out their US COO of the ports who says everything is great. Unfortunately, in his public testimony, he leaves the impression that he cannot spell the word, port. Therefore, there is no great public confidence in his ability to build a firewall.

The Dems are just maximizing their political opportunity here. Mrs. Clinton is barking and her husband is giving direct, paid lobbying advice to the UAE. It’s pretty shallow. Yet, George keeps telling us about his version of world freedom and democracy as defined by the US. We, the US always know what’s right -- see our newly announced policy about equipping India’s nuclear needs to benefit our corporate entities. Somehow you would think that the rest of world should have an opportunity to offer their thoughts on the matter.

The other thing giving this port deal in our country some momentum is the UAE policy on Israel. Their official policy is negative. Yet, they play wink/wink when they deal with Israeli shipping including keeping their sailors on their ships rather than letting them visit the ports where they land. So, some of our politicians bring this up just to inflame the pro-Israeli side of the argument. And, the Bush response is to suck its thumb. Mr. Snow, their economics secretary, held a railroad company which sold some of its interest to the UAE folks. So, he is perceived as someone having a vested interest in the transaction.

Frankly, nearly everyone involved is a Johnnie-come-lately to the issue. Their knowledge is usually a mile-wide but only one inch deep. The discussion usually breaks down into name calling with little substantive ever discussed.

Everybody sees themselves coming out the winner with the 45-day cooling off period. Nothing will change; but,everyone will say they did something to better the process. With respect to anti-Arab bias, everyone in the US will continue with this position as long as they announce they are anti-Israeli and everyone fears the Muslim sense of religious freedom. Their definition of religious freedom has a close parallel to George’s definition of democracy. By the way, in Pakistan George lauded them as being an Arab country. What he apparently was citing was that they are a Muslim country and they are our friends. Things have changed greatly since LBJ went there and presented them a tank to show them our friendship. But, then it was still two separate land masses.

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Portal to Racism

I've been really busy starting up with the new semester and dealing with my friend in the hospital the last couple of weeks, but I have an issue on my mind that just won't go away--American ports. And since I just read an
Opinion article in the International Herald Tribune (IHT)
that basically expresses my feeling exactly, I thought it was time to deal with the topic.

A few weeks ago (or was it only last week) when it was announced that a Dubai-based, UAE-government owned company was taking over the operations of six US ports, Americans (or at least politicians) were up in arms. Vile rhetoric about security concerns abounded, and I found myself in the awkward position of not just agreeing with President George W. Bush, but actually being proud of him.

Americans should be ashamed of themselves.

First of all, I'm sure that if a poll was taken the day before the ports deal was announced that about 0.1% of the American population would be able to name the country Dubai is located in. I consider myself vaguely worldly, but had it not been for the fact that while I was in India last month I had a very Dubai-oriented train ride from Mumbai to Goa (the Irish girls sitting across from us stopped in Dubai on the way to India, and there was a huge back-page article in the IHT about Dubai and investment in the UAE), I wouldn’t have been able to either. Of course, why should Americans care about such trivia when a recent study indicated that only about 1 in 1,000 Americans could name all five freedoms guaranteed in the first amendment of our Constitution. Heck, about 20% thought the right to own a pet was in there…but I digress. My point here is, how do we know they’re terrorists if we can’t even figure out where they’re from (as if that’s a solid indicator anyway)?

This incident has been one of the most blatant examples of institutionalized discrimination in recent US history. Having heard that “Arabs” were taking over ports, fear mongers on both sides of the aisle seemed ready to stop the deal on this basis alone. Although I understand the need for security, implying that all Arabs are terrorists goes beyond ridiculous to just simply offensive and racist, especially considering that the ports were already owned by a foreign company!

In the abovementioned article, a comparison was made with the way the Japanese-Americans were treated during WWII. I think it’s perhaps a bit extreme at this point to compare the two cases, but I worry we’re moving in that direction. The only other comparison I can think of is when the US legislature moved to block the takeover of UNOCAL (a California-based oil and petroleum company) by the partially Chinese-government-owned CNOOC. There, it was a fear of Communism that prompted action. And yet, I’m somehow less offended by the action taken against China. Although I think it is a little paranoid to imagine that through an oil company Communism will penetrate the US, I feel the fear is somewhat more founded. It is generally accepted that the Chinese higher-ups are corrupt (I could offer ample evidence to this end, but then again, every government seems to have their fair share…can we say Thaksin Shinawatra?!), and the recent (within three months) peasant “massacre” in Southeast China are constant reminders that China is still not a free state.

Of course it begs the question: in a free, democratic, capitalistic society, should the government really be intervening in business dealings of this sort to begin with? And in any case, history has taught us that economic protectionism never is the right answer, so why start now?

For his part, Bush, for the first time in his presidency, threatened a veto of any bill that blocked the port deal coming from the legislature. Now, who’s to say Mr. Bush wasn’t inspired by back-room business deals to come to the defense of the takeover as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has hinted at. I do, after all, like to believe in the inherent evilness of his person, but my impression is that Mr. Bush stood up for what is right and good in this world for a change. My kudos to him.

Luckily I didn’t have to feel proud of him for too long as he was quoted shortly afterward as saying: “This deal wouldn’t go forward if we were concerned about the security of the United States.” Oh Bush, you just make it too easy!

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