Poem of the Week

Hearing a Flute on a Spring Night in Luoyang

From whose home secretly flies the sound of a jade flute?
It’s lost amid the spring wind which fills Luoyang city.
In the middle of this nocturne I remember the snapped willow,
What person would not start to think of home!

Li Bai

Silent Sunday

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Sepia Saturday

2015.05W-16

This weeks prompt inspired me to search for photos on dancing or dances, as in the sort where men in suits tripped the light fantastic with women in gowns. Flickr Commons came through with photos of graceful couples. Such grace and style.

Source: Library of Congress

Source: Library of Congress

Source: National Library of Australia

Source: National Library of Australia

Source: Library of Congress

Source: Library of Congress

Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken

In Zhujiayu

In Zhujiayu

Red Door Restaurant

Red Door Restaurant

I find this quite disturbing. At Baoxing Temple, Wencheng

I find this quite disturbing. At Baoxing Temple, Wencheng

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 posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other great photos:

Walking Around the Muslim District

South Mosque, Jinan, China

South Mosque, Jinan, China

South Mosque, entrance

South Mosque, entrance

Yesterday my friend Dianne and I had a nice walk through the Muslim District in downtown Jinan, She’d never been there. We had a lovely talk, mainly in pigeon Chinese with lots of gesturing, with two women at the women’s mosque.

Oliver on Standardized Testing

I learned about this segment on John Oliver’s HBO program. Oliver goes to town on every facet of standardized testing: the silly ways schools try to psych students to take the tests, how confusing some questions are, how Pearson education pulls in big bucks while paying test graders they find on Craig’s List peanuts to score high stakes tests and how opaque the whole game is. He didn’t address how corruption can creep into the process as seen in Atlanta, but he hit all the major problems with testing.

Though I sort of liked standardized tests, which I realize is a bit bizarre, I see their limits and believe the current system is too expensive and nets few benefits.

Kudos to the kids who refuse to take them. As the Grumpy Old Teachers wonder: Why don’t more students opt out?

A tweet about Grumpy Old Teachers led me to the Oliver report cum lambast. I am sort of hooked on this podcast. Basically, it’s what it says two veteran teachers skewering and whinging about the more ridiculous aspects of teaching. They digress a lot, but sometimes they’ll edit out (and tell listeners when they have) discussions of basketball games or of Costco hauls. Grumpy Old Teachers have got me thinking of joining the tech-oriented teaching organization ISTE. They’ve got global and student rates, which fall within my budget.

Watching the video and listening to the blog made me thankful that I’m not teaching in the US K-12 world. Now I’m not happy about the social promotion we have here in China, but from what I’ve seen there’s little anxiety about testing here. Heck, if the kids don’t pass the CET-4 (College English Test, band 4), they take it or a watered down version till they do. No pep rallies for a test, just an assembly and cash prizes — for teachers and students.

Word of the Week

philtre | philter, n.
[‘ A potion, drug, or (occas.) charm supposed to be capable of exciting sexual attraction or love, esp. towards a particular person; a love potion. Also, more generally: any potion or drug having supposedly magical properties. Also fig.’]
Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈfɪltə/, U.S. /ˈfɪltər/
Forms: 15– philter, 15– philtre, 16 18 filtre.
Etymology: < Middle French, French philtre (1381 in sense 1; 1611 in sense 2 (now obsolete in this sense); also as †filtre (17th–19th cent. in sense 1) < classical Latin philtrum philtrum n. Compare Spanish filtro (1549 in sense 1; also as philtro), Portuguese filtro (16th cent. in sense 1), Italian filtro (1598 as philtro in senses 1 and 2). With sense 2 compare slightly earlier philtrum n. 2.
1. A potion, drug, or (occas.) charm supposed to be capable of exciting sexual attraction or love, esp. towards a particular person; a love potion. Also, more generally: any potion or drug having supposedly magical properties. Also fig.?a1563 W. Baldwin Beware Cat (1584) ii. sig. Ciii, To make a Philtre to serue for my purpose.
1586 T. Newton Tryall Mans Owne Selfe 91 By any secret sleight or cunning, as drinkes, drouges, medicines, charmed potions, amatorious Philters, figures, characters, or any such lyke paltring instruments, deuises or practises.
1616 B. Jonson Epicœne iv. i, in Wks. I. 567 Trv...If I should make ‘hem all in loue with thee afore night! Dav. I would say thou had’st the best philtre.
a1618 J. Sylvester tr. Fracastorius Maidens Blush (1620) sig. C5v, The hellish Philtree made of Stygian Wave.
1621 R. Burton Anat. Melancholy i. ii. i. iii. 72 They can make friends enemies, and enemies friends, by philters.
1686 F. Fane Sacrifice i. ii. 28 Good Gods, what Charms! Her very Frowns are Philtres.
1700 S. L. tr. C. Schweitzer Relation Voy. in tr. C. Frick & C. Schweitzer Relation Two Voy. E.-Indies 347, I threw all over-board, for fear some trick or philter should have been play’d with them.
1731 E. Thomas Pylades & Corinna 273 Those called Witches..do secretly..learn strange poisoned Philters and Receipts, whereby they do much Hurt and Mischief.
1788 S. Low Politician Out-Witted ii. i. 16 Why you are positively the arrantest love-sick swain that ever had recourse to a philter.
1805 R. Southey Madoc i. i. 6 Some philtre..to lethargy The Briton blood, that came from Owen’s veins.
1830 T. Flint Shoshone Valley I. vi. 211 She spoke of philtres and medicated drinks, that..she had been taught..were of potency to inspire corresponding love in the man or maiden, who should drink of them.
1868 Tennyson Lucretius 16 A witch Who brew’d the philtre.
1900 J. Conrad Lord Jim iii. 20 They carried his soul away with them and made it drunk with the divine philtre of an unbounded confidence in itself.
1936 Amer. Home Feb. 42/1 Cloves were used by the Persians, Greeks, and Romans as the base of many of their love philters.
1989 W. Weaver tr. U. Eco Foucault’s Pendulum xxxvi. 231 When you feel that need, you have to watch your step: like having drunk a philter, the kind that makes you fall in love with the first thing you meet.
2002 N. Drury Dict. Esoteric 218/1 Monkshood was used by medieval witches in flying ointments and ‘love philtres’, but is one of the most poisonous and dangerous of all magical herbs.

†2. = philtrum n. 2. Obs. rare—0.

[categories words, OED]

Mr Selfridge, Season 3, Finale – Part One

In the US, we got episodes 9 and 10 together for our finale. So I came to them with great anticipation. We’ve known that Nancy’s a con artist and that Loxley’s scheming to get even with Harry for helping Mae, his ex-wife, though Loxley’s so one dimensional, it annoys me. The less screen time he gets the better. Many viewers have read about Harry’s life in Woodhouse’s Shopping, Selfridge and Mr Selfridge and we know that after Rose died, Harry’s life began to unravel as he became more indulgent and reckless. So far this season we haven’t seen too much of that — yet.

Harry’s got a lot on the line as he’s started a price war to make good on the promise to his board to get them a 10% dividend. Loxley’s circling the waters hoping to bring Harry down. As for romance, Harry’s proposed to Nancy completely unaware that she’s a con artist. Granted she seems to be falling for Harry, but she’s still too cunning for my tastes. How I wish Mamma Selfridge or Princess Marie would go to the Information Bureau and have her looked up! Or Violette. She seems to have her suspicions.

This season isn’t the program’s best. It feels like they’ve gotten new writers to take over and they don’t have a sense of what viewers like me want. The episode begins with Harry showing everyone a warehouse of goods that they must sell so he can keep his board members happy. Everyone rises to the occasion, which does show a devotion to the game of retail and to Harry himself. It reminds me of The Paradise and I would get caught up in the glamor of shopping and sales. There was an art to this business, which is sadly fallen by the wayside.

Loxley, who’s name must be synonymous with unctuous, has a fit when he reads in the paper that Lady Mae, his ex-wife is going to get married. The scene came off as rather over-the-top in terms of emotion. Loxley is meant to be a character your hate, but mainly he’s become a caricature. He then calls a meeting with two board members who for some reason see him as worth listening to. Why? The man’s clearly unscrupulous and was losing money himself until he started profiteering. Harry stops a supplier from overcharging Nancy who’s buying lumber for houses she didn’t plan to build. In the car to the store she admires his bargaining prowess. He’s saved her. Swoon. Then things go pear-shaped as the car approaches the store. Protestors outside pelt Harry and Nancy with eggs. If you don’t like a business practice, boycott the sale. There’s no reason to get nasty. But this barbarism results in Harry deciding he needs a new head of security and since George needs a new job . . .

More

Mr Selfridge, Finale – Part 2

Though I’m glad Nancy Webb’s identity and motive were revealed, there was so much I couldn’t abide in the last part of the finale.

  1. Why, oh why, does Violette feel doomed to marry Jacques, the aviator? She can do better. Anyone could. She hasn’t tried to find love other than Victor.
  2. Why did Victor send Violette away? Just last week he was frolicking with her in the grass waxing eloquent about wanting a nice home.
  3. Boy, did Rosalie get little to do this season. Sergei got a bit more, but in the end wasn’t much.
  4. Why do we have sequence after sequence where in one scene someone mentions how a person must fight for their love, and the next scene shows a character doing just that. Can we get a bit of sophistication with our drama, please?
  5. The ending emotion and music was soooo flat-footed and heavy-handed it bordered on schmaltz if I understand Yiddish correctly.
  6. Miss Mardle plans to move all of a sudden. If she want’s to quit fine, but why leave a nice house? London’s big. She wouldn’t have to see Grove.
  7. Oh, then I saw it – Miss Mardle, who was a tower of strength for most of the episode is now back with Grove because he held a sit in in her foyer. Really? It wasn’t the least bit romantic, just stubborn and pathetic. She could do better. Now she’ll have to mother his brood? Or will she just be his mistress again?
  8. And, of course, after confronting Nancy, who begs for a reconciliation, which I was at least glad she didn’t get, Harry heads to Victor’s club, which we can now see was converted to a gambling den just for this purpose. Dun, dun, dun, dun–enter the Dolly Sisters with so much make up you can guess they used spatulas. Ladies and gentlemen, who’ve read Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge, we all know that these women will be nothing but trouble for Harry. His downfall must come, but so soon? And with bald, in your face music and dialog? Don’t the writers know that Masterpiece viewers are a sharp bunch that can deal with subtlety. We thrive on it.

Silent Sunday

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