02 March, 2014

Happy Anniversary

1 March, 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order to officially establish the Peace Corps.



23 February through 1 March was Peace Corps week. In addition, this week was the final first week of classes of my own Peace Corps experience. My final semester has begun. I'm trying to be mindful of this. I want to appreciate everything, and if you'll cue up Aerosmith, I don't want to miss a thing. (Don't click on that link; you know what it's going to be.)


It was a busy and frustrating first week (they always are) so I don't have anything to report. I wanted to acknowledge the anniversary, and share something China-related I read in the news this week:

Over at the Atlantic, James Fallows wrote a piece commenting on a charming video (embedded below) of people in Beijing dancing and singing to the song "Happy" by Pharrell.



The article has some good observations about Beijing. In addition, it pulls a startlingly-accurate quotation from a book written by James Fallows called China Airborne that I thought needed to be shared.

The plainest fact about modern China for most people on the scene often seems the hardest to grasp from afar. That is simply how varied, diverse, contradictory, and quickly changing conditions within the country are. 
Any large country is diverse and contradictory, but China’s variations are of a scale demanding special note. What is true in one province is false in the next. What was the exception last week is the rule today. A policy that is applied strictly in Beijing may be ignored or completely unknown in Kunming or Changsha. Millions of Chinese people are now very rich, and hundreds of millions are still very poor. Their country is a success and a failure, an opportunity and a threat, an inspiring model to the world and a nightmarish cautionary example. It is tightly controlled and it is out of control; it is futuristic and it is backward; its system is both robust and shaky.

01 February, 2014

Zen, part Two

When we last left our hero, he was brimming with optimism—the hope of a pleasant vacation to recharge the proverbial batteries and reboot the proverbial operating system on the horizon. (Is it obvious I recently had to take my computer to the Apple Store?) Alas, this happy ending was not in the cards…


That’s right. After writing about how low I had fallen during the fall, and writing about how optimistic I was going into the winter, I found myself crestfallen, perhaps lower and more downtrodden than ever before.

Why?

Well, I thought you’d never ask.

11 December, 2013

30 October, 2013

Aitch, Aay, Double El, Oh...

Another month, another six blogs I didn’t write.

Semester five is about halfway through, and at this point I’ve not written in an embarrassingly long time. Not that it is any consolation, but I have thought about writing. In fact, I have two half-written blogs from this month taking up space on my hard drive.

Not that any of that matters. What matters is what I publish. My lack of output is directly related to the amount of work I have this semester. I am teaching the PC-standard 16 hours per week. However, the overwhelming part is that of those 16 hours, I have seven different preps in a week. It is, in a word, yucky.

Despite having 553 things to do at all times, I have been feeling incredibly guilty due to my lack of updating. Combine that with a weird instance from last weekend and not yet writing a post about Halloween, here I am writing instead of grading the 120 midterms on my tea table.

04 September, 2013

Home and Back

See?! Weird!
One of the many lessons Peace Corps has taught me: America is weird. The Elkhart County Fair serves deep-fried butter... However, before I go on, I should back up…