Off to China

Another semester begins on Monday. While I’d love an extra week of vacation, I’m ready to start the new school year. It’ll be a shock to get to Jinan where the temperatures have been in the 90s. At home this summer they’ve been perfect, i.e. 75 – 80s.

My United credit card gives me tickets to their lounge. I will say it’s nice to relax in a quiet place with wifi, free beverages, snacks like fruit, cookies, cheese and crackers. What’s more there are comfy seats, free newspapers and clean bathrooms. Luckily, the club is adjacent to my gate. Before a 13+ hour flight a nice airport experience is savored.

I’ll have a few days to prepare for the new semester. It’s good to know what I’m walking into. Sure there will be new students, but I’ve worked with my two colleagues before and I’ve used this book before. I can anticipate the difficulties and side step them. I know there’s a 95% chance that the students won’t have their books for a couple weeks.

I am wondering about the new business teachers and the new Australian and British teachers. There’s a new British program with Worcester University and none of the University of Tasmania English teachers will be back (due to the questionable agency that runs that program. As I’ve said before, beware job ads from Yucui.)

About these ads

Pullman Cars

MMS Pullman 13-01-01 Box#16 Folder#723, Pullman Car Interior_w

If I could ride in one of these original Pullman cars, I’d do it in a minute.

Maybe I need to go on the Orient Express

Remarkable Story

A man on disability leave is living hand to mouth. He owns an old Navajo blanket and . . .

Watch to see what happens.

Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore

I offer this enchanting short animation for book lovers in particular.

Let me know what you think.


Swans with their six signets came into our backyard for breakfast this morning.

The Jungle

Friday I saw a marvelous play adapted from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Staged by the Oracle Theater, a cast of about a dozen actors brought the meat packing industry and Chicago slums to life. While The Jungle’s most known for exposing the terrors of the food industry, the book and the play both reveal how immigrants were swindled through bad real estate brokers and others trying to make a quick buck.

How on earth would you depict the slaughter of cows in a tiny theater? Or a big one for that matter. The Oracle did this with amazing creativity using large rolls of butcher paper, ink and woodblocks to imprint the cows before the audience. The paper also served as a screen to project the waves of Lake Michigan or a canvas for painting the bars of a prison.

The show offers much more than ingenious stagecraft. Every performer gave a compelling performance which featured lots of singing.

As if a good play isn’t enough, the price is outstanding. The play was free. The Oracle Theater models its finance on public radio where subscribers donate what they can on a monthly basis. If you can’t pay, that’s fine as The Oracle wants everyone to be able to see a good play.

I do hope they succeed and are around for years to come.

Tickets are available at Street parking is readily available.

Silent Sunday

Source: Library of Congress

Source: Library of Congress

Sepia Saturday


This week’s prompt led me to the National Library of Scotland’s digital archive which had these photos of WWI soldiers writing letters. All are circa 1918. What a war! It’s centennial has given us more opportunities to read and watch to learn about its devastation. I’m sure these letters home were such a relief and reassurance.



    Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

    1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced. 2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag. 3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

    Other great photos:

    Ragged Dick: Street Life in New York

    Cover of Ragged Dick by Horatio Alger

    I’d heard of rags to riches stories a.k.a. Horatio Alger stories, but I’d never actually read a book by Horation Alger — till now. I raced through Ragged Dick in two days, not just because it’s short, but because it’s funny. Alger reminds me of Dickens or Twain as he has jokes on every page.

    Ragged Dick is a 14 year old orphan, a shoe shine boy who must sleep on the streets in a box of straw or old wagon if he can find one. He’s got wit and pluck and amuses and impresses his well-to-do customers. Time and again he shows his hilariously funny, honest, kind and brave. Yes, it’s a morality tale and the ending is happy, but it wasn’t as pat as I’d expected.

    Spoiler Alert: Dick doesn’t wind up as a millionaire by the stories end. He does start out in actual rags which he explains he would get rid of but since George Washington and Louis Napolean (sic) gave him those close he felt he couldn’t.

    While Dick’s a good lad, he’s not an angel with a dirty face (though he does have a dirty face). The narrator and Dick tell us that he smokes cigars, goes to the Bowery Theater a lot, doesn’t save money and gambles. Yet he corrals his vices in due time.

    Much of the story consists of Dick showing Frank, a country boy who’s uncle is busy with business all day around the streets of New York, where there’s a con artist around every corner. Frank and the uncle get Dick a new suit for the day and suddenly Dick’s treated with great respect wherever he goes (well, almost) and a lot of folks don’t recognize him. Through Frank we learn that Dick’s in a jam. Because he’s so good and diligent about getting business, he makes $3 a day. If he worked at a counting house or store he’d just get $3 a week. He doesn’t pursue other work because that would mean a short term loss. Also, these clerk jobs tend to go to boys from in tact families. The book then is more than just a series of funny adventures, it does show aspects of 19th century urban America.

    Like Dickens Ragged Dick will appeal to readers of all ages.

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