Silent Sunday


Never Again

Today’s project seemed simple: Upload the $#@ job interview video and email a link to the university in Japan that wants this by Monday. Of course, my VPN isn’t working so I can’t upload to SkyDrive (now OpenDrive), Google, YouTube or Dropbox. I’m sure they’d accept a link to, though. After all, all they have to do is click the link and then click the play button.

What I hadn’t expected was that this video would take 13 hours to upload onto Youku. It’s only 9 minutes long! I started uploading at 4:30 pm and still have hours to go. I’d hoped that the 11 hour estimate was way off base and that it would be done in a couple hours. Oh, no.

Remind me to NEVER bother applying to a job that requires a video.

Interviews: Ugh!

It’s job hunting season. I believe in keeping my eyes open. Much as I’m content here, the pay is less than I’d get in Korea or Japan. (Though I’m far happier and better off in China than in Korea, where office politics always ran high.) I do believe I’m going to put in a certain number of hours and a certain amount of effort and creativity into a job wherever I am so I ought to be working at the school with the best package.

I’ve had three bites for my job applications.

  1. A summer job at a university in England advertised on TESOL, a site for ESL professionals located in the USA. While it’s an international organization, a great proportion of the teachers are American.

    While the dates weren’t great for starting a September job since they wanted teachers till mid-Sept. I was so eager to try living in Europe, I applied. I was selected for an interview and spent over 2 hours preparing two tasks they sent candidates.

    I was waiting for the call and it didn’t come. When I checked my email, they sent a message asking whether they had the right number (they did) and whether I had an EU passport.

    Like most Americans, and others who don’t live in Europe, I don’t. So the interview was cancelled. How aggravating! Often job notices specify such stipulations upfront. The website where applicants submitted their information had no question about this and the two emails prior to the interview didn’t mention this. It’s so basic. The school is highly ranked and any organization that has an HR department that prepares or at least reviews job notices, should know better.

    Since I’d already dreamed of adding a trip to Ireland or Scotland to this experience, I’m disappointed.

  2. I’ve gone on to stage two of the job hunt process with a university in Japan. Japanese universities have lately gone to only hiring people already in Japan, this was a coup. However, I have to make a video as stage two of this process. It’s become more of a hassle than any phone or Skype interview. Webcams can be tough to work with if you want to put your best foot forward. I spent two hours last night on getting myself ready, setting up lights — not easy in a land of florescent lights, and figuring out what to say. I even had my hair styled, which I wouldn’t have done with Skype. Since I have to submit a finished product and I know it doesn’t have to rival, I do have to make it good. I don’t want something where half my face is cast in shadows or I’ve garbled a sentence, which could be overcome in a live interview. Again a lot of work for the early stage of the hiring process. It’s aggravating that skills outside of the scope of the job may influence the decision.
  3. I’ve got a reply from a group of schools in Oman. They want a slew of documents, like a photo on a blue background. (What shade exactly?)

    I’ve got scans of me on a red and another on a white background. Can’t that suffice till a job offer’s been accepted? Yet I don’t dare not give them a blue background as it might be a means of testing who’s compliant. I wasted an our trying to change the white background to blue with Gimp, an open source PhotoShop sort of program. It’s just too hard to get around my hair.

    They also want documents like transcripts, degrees, and an application. All typical documents, but I wish I had a secretary to do some of this.

    One hiccup is that I noticed my undergraduate transcript is wrong. Page one of the three page transcript isn’t for me. It’s for a Susan E. Kelly, who was born a year earlier and studied Criminal Justice. (She got a lot of C’s and D’s her first year.) What a pain to get this corrected.

    Now I’m wondering whether Loyola’s made this error before and I just never bothered to read the transcript. Some jobs want a sealed transcript. If they read them carefully, they might see that the school made a mistake. If they just scan it, they’ll think the applicant is a poor student (or better than they were).

    In any event I’m already tired of this job hunt. The job in Oman doesn’t pay as well as I’d expected for the Middle East and they don’t seem to offer housing. I just prefer university housing so if there’s a problem with the electricity or housing the school has someone deal with it.

So Weird

As usual the Internet in China has been acting strange. This Thursday the strange change, one that caught me completely off guard, was that I had more access to sites rather than less.

I went to a coffee shop on Thursday afternoon and without my VPN I was able to access a YouTube video that was linked to in an email. I then tried searching for another YouTube video and I got it — no problem. I tested Facebook, WordPress blogs and Twitter and all these sites were wide open.

Was someone asleep? On vacation? Let go for some reason and wanted revenge?

All I can say is the phenomenon was short lived. I’m back today and the censorship is back to normal.

C’est la vie.

Sports Day 2015


This year was more serious, I think.

Originally posted on Jinan Daily Photo: The Sequel:


Marching for the Opening Ceremony of our spring sports day.

View original

Word of the Week

plonk, n. non-count, meaning wine. It’s Australian slang derived from vin blanc.

Sample sentence: I’ll bring some plonk to your party.

Go figure.

New Restaurant

Perhaps you remember that one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants, The Red Door Restaurant, was demolished a year ago. It was sad to watch it get knocked down day by day.

I’d hoped that they’d build a new restaurant, a bigger one on that spot, but alas they didn’t. The neighborhood got a cheap love hotel instead.

Well, last week I was walking home and bumped into the woman who seemed to manage The Red Door. Through pantomime I got her to write down her new place’s address and phone number. I got someone in our Foreign Affairs office to find its location on the Internet. On Saturday I convinced three Australian teachers to give the place a try.


I’d been told that the place was about a 20 minute walk and I only had a vague idea of where it was so I thought taking a taxi there wo uld be best. Good luck finding one. We waited by school and then by Di Kou Lu and after an hour were still waiting. (It’s always been hard to get a cab at dinner time.) We wound up walking. We zigzagged through the neighborhood right to the west of school, where parts are rather squalid. One friend kept asking whether I knew where I was going. She wasn’t used to the drab, old, concrete buildings in the little hutongs.

We eventually found the new restaurant, with the help of some Chinese people who lived in its neighborhood and had yet to try it.


We got the famed feng wei qiezi, a dish I’d hoped was spicy chicken with bread pockets, a spicy tofu dish my friends like and broccoli with garlic. The chicken was the only disappointment. I hope I just ordered wrong. My favorite version had pieces of cut chicken without bones. This not only had lots of little bones to be careful of there were chicken feet in it too. Everything else was as good as I remembered.

The familiar employees weren’t on duty that night, but someone must have called the owners because the woman and her not-so-little-anymore girl came to say hello. I’m sure this was the first time foreigners had crossed the threshold of this out of the way eatery.

I had my camera, but forgot to use it till midway through the meal. I do have to go back and see whether I can get the ‘right’ chicken with bread pockets and a few other old favorites. The street is far, but they seem to have a few good restaurants that might be worth a walk.

La Grande Illusion

b3_d__0_GrandIllusionI knew that Phil Jackson would show Jean Renoir’s La Grande Illusion  (1937) to his players before every season, but I wasn’t sure why. (I’m still uncertain as to what he wanted his team to learn, though the film has plenty of insights.)

I didn’t know what to expect. The DVD package promised a war film, which I’m never in the mood for, but if 3:10 to Yuma was good, perhaps this would be too. Starring Jean Gabin (whom I saw in Touchez Pas au Grisbi) La Grande Illusion tells the story of French POWs in World War I. Of course, if the main characters are stuck in prison, the film’s objective must be to get them out, n’est pas? Bien sur.


The three central characters are Gabin’s working class Maréchal, Pierre Fresnay’s blue blooded Capt. de Boeldieu and Marcel Dalio’s Lt. Rosenthal. When Maréchal is captured he’s put in a cell with de Boeldieu and Rosenthal, who shares the delicacies his family send him from France with all his comrades. Maréchal soon learns that the men have been digging a tunnel to get out. While other escapees get caught and shot, these men’s plan is thwarted as they are all moved to another prison camp just before they plan to use the tunnel.

de Boeldieu et von Rauffenstein

de Boeldieu et von Rauffenstein

The three are transferred and try to escape repeatedly till they’re sent to Capt. von Rauffenstein’s camp. Played by Eric von Stroheim, von Rauffenstein is a compelling character. Throughout the film, von Rauffenstein wears a full body cast and wears white gloves to hide his burned hands. He lives in a gothic chapel that he’s oddly decorated and made into an apartment. He prides himself on running a civilized prisoner of war camp for officers, whom he treats almost like guests.

Von Rauffenstein most connects with de Boeldieu as their family trees are most on par. While de Boedleu has come to see that the old social order is dying, von Rauffenstein’s blind to that. He also can’t fathom how de Boedieu can seen any value in the working class or nouveau riche, that’s his downfall.


From critic Peter Cowie’s essay on the Criterion Collection website:

Made just three years before World War II, it gazes back to a different era, and to a war, in the words of the director, “based on fair play, a war without atom bombs or torture.” Hitler had not appeared. “Nor,” says Renoir, “had the Nazis, who almost succeeded in making people forget that the Germans are also human beings.”

The film is simple, but compelling with fascinating characters I won’t soon forget. It unfolds effortlessly and haunts me days after I’ve seen it. I can’t wait to watch it again, next time with the commentary.

Silent Sunday

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 10.48.38 PM


Travel Theme: One Color




Each week Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack?  invites bloggers to contemplate and post on a specific theme. This week’s theme is One Color, i.e. monochromatic. Some art teacher engraved the notion in my head to look carefully at colors and note the variations. I’ll try to put that aside this week.

If you want to see more monochromatic photos, mosey on over to Where’s My Backpack.

To join the fun just:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: One Colour
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!

Previous Older Entries


Dear Fellows, The State Department has requested that any Fellows who maintain their own blog or website please post the following disclaimer on your site: "This website is not an official U.S. Department of State website. The views and information presented are the English Language Fellows' own and do not represent the English Language Fellow Program or the U.S. Department of State." We appreciate your cooperation. Site Meter

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 972 other followers

%d bloggers like this: