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Saturday, December 30, 2006

And yet Blogger still works?

I got no tubes!

I am , of course, referring to the internet; I've been without internet access for a couple of days now, and I've been using the metaphor of inept Senator Ted Stevens to describe my plight to, well, myself.

Basically, two underwater earthquakes off the coast of Taiwan on Tuesday severed some really important cables that keep North American internets connected to Asian internets. My usual sources of news are all unreachable now, because the data just can't get to China fast enough before timing out. Interestingly, Google and its associated programs (Gmail, Blogger, etc.) seem to be unaffected; most likely this is due to Google working closely with the Chinese government (that's right) and some of Google's stuff undoubtedly being hosted (cheaply) in China. So with a lot of the links on Google News connecting to hosts in the US, a bulk of my news has been incomplete two-sentence headlines that link to unreachable articles.

So Gerald Ford has been eaten by wolves as the senseless age of 93? And Saddam Hussein had his date with the hangman's noose? Along with James Brown, that should complete the trifecta!

It's Saturday afternoon, but I just finished classes. The News Years holiday was supposed to be just one day off, News Years Day (that is, January first ... this is not the fabled Chinese New Year, not yet at least). But some jackass with a lot of power decided he wanted a five-day weekend, so the order was handed down from on high: we'll have Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off, but we have to make up our Tuesday and Wednesday classes on Saturday and Sunday.


I've come to expect some insane shit here, but this is just beyond asinine. For most people, it just shuffles around the same three days off, while adding all sorts of trouble for those that actually do things on the weekend. Many of my students, for example, use their free weekends to tutor high/middle/elementary school students; so now they're income for the week is screwed because the weekend was effectively canceled.

A few deep, calming breaths; let's move on.

I've finished writing my exams, and I've been reviewing with my classes for the past week or so, so that they'll know what to expect come January. Even after all this time, I still can't understand some of my classes. Take today for example: two literature classes, a morning class (at eight) and a mid-morning class (at ten). My eight o'clock class is, consistently, fantastic. They always come prepared, they engage in the class, they laugh and talk and actually do something in class.

But then I'll show up to the ten o'clock class, same topic, same preparation on my part, and I will be faced with absolute silence and apathy. It's not a difference of ability; if anything, my ten o'clock class seems to have a better vocabulary and can express themselves easier (if they ever want to). They just choose to not do a damn thing in my class, they just leave me hanging for ten minutes at a time as a bunch of expressionless faces pretend to feverishly hunt for the right answer in the book.

I don't hate them, I don't even dislike them; they're a good bunch of kids, my ten o'clock, and I know they have all just transfered in to this school (despite being juniors), so they are still unfamiliar with a lot of things here. But dammit, it's been a whole term, and there is no excuse for them to be so tacit and shy. Their utter lack of effort seems to only make a hard course (literature in a foreign language) all the more difficult and boring.

So, New Years is ... well, tomorrow. Guess I should do something to celebrate. Nicki and I have talked all term about going to a bar in Xia Shan that has a rock-climbing wall; maybe we'll go there and celebrate the New Year with some of the other foreigners. I can't imagine a place like that staying open for more than ten minutes in the states before getting sued into oblivion, but then, having the (shall we say) more lax regulations of China does have its benefits.

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