Decisions, Decisions

I guess it’s been two weeks since I got a job offer to teach in China. On the one hand, it would be so nice to return to China, but I do want to make more that $2,000 a month. Australian and British schools pay more than US ones and that gets to me. I have applied to a job working for a British university’s China program, but they won’t even interview anyone till after May 12th. I really feel I should decide on my job offer on Monday.

Aside from the pay, I’m concerned about the climate. One response to a listserv query told me that it’s very cold there. This woman said when she lived in this city walking home from a store one block from her house, a bottle of Coke ™ would freeze. That’s right freeze.

I have seen photos of the faculty apartments and they’re much better than the dirty hovels Korea National Univ. of Education (KNUE) had their staff in. I liked the department director and it sounds that there’s concern for quality. Academic quality. That’s novel. I sure didn’t see that at my last job.

One good thing about the job is that the interviewer was intelligent and on the ball. That’s certainly not always the case. A friend who’s in a really bad job was asked only one question in his interview: What will you do when all the women fall in love with you? Yep, asked with a straight face.

Yet, I’m a mid-career professional, not entry level. I have a feeling $2,000 a month is the salary for someone with no experience or someone with several years experience.

Is this bird in the hand worth two in the bush?


Royal Wedding

I’m a sucker for British Royalty. I did wake up for Diana and Charles’ wedding and felt I should get up for William and Kate’s. And I’m glad I did.

My 4:15 alarm did not go off, but I woke up anyway at 5, just in time to see the vows.

She was stunning and he was dashing. We don’t get much pomp and circumstance in our lives and this event hit all the right notes. From the sermon was touching and inspiring. The couple seemed both elegant and approachable.

The grumpy bridesmaid was so real.

My mother put together a fitting breakfast of biscuits, lemon curd, and royal cookies.

With all the depressing news going on, it is nice to indulge in something beautiful and romantic.


I did it, 107 pages in 30 days. I don’t count the cover page.

Now for the rewrite. In other words, the hard part. As Raymond Carver said, “Writing is rewriting.”

A lot of Act One Writers finished. That’s a big part of the fun, writing with others.

I’d Overlooked This

Sexual attacks on journalists

Sexual attacks on journalists: Why foreign women are seen as fair game.

Sunday’s 60 Minutes will have a piece on this.

Japanese Print Test

You Are an Individual

You are a master of logic and reasoning. Emotions don’t color your decisions.
You thrive on action and always want to be moving forward. A lot of your action is internal.

You have some loner tendencies – and you’re totally okay with that. You like to do your own thing.You’ve always felt a little different from everyone else. You are a true individual.

The Japanese Pattern Test
Blogthings: 100’s of Fun, Free Quizzes and 3 Stupid Ones

Solo Travel, 2011

In Nepal I really never felt on my own. It was so easy to meet people at every stage. At the farmstay, people just clicked and I loved learning about their treks and travels. Also I met some people with very interesting jobs like the Aussie woman who works designing and implementing environmental law and Katie who’s an architect specializing in green architecture. Some of the sustainable architecture is just mind blowing.

Then at the conference it was easy to meet people as my previous time in Japan was a tie in. Finally, on Sunday I took my computer to the lounge for cocktail time and got talking with a man from Kentucky and his Thai companion. I gained lots of insight into Thai politics, at least from the Red Shirt angle.

In Beijing I shared a hostel room with a woman and her daughter from New Zealand near Christchurch. Their home suffered no damage, they’d learned and they did give someone permission to let others with housing problems live in their home. The daughter was adorable, about 10 years old. She was writing a fantasy novel and read out several of the 12 pages she had so far. The mother had lived in Japan, mainly in Tokyo and was a Japanese translator. Her work brought her to China and she decided to make the trip extend beyond her conference.

For a Chuckle

One of the funniest things I’ve read on higher education for a while:

By Kerry Soper

Let’s be honest: Most of us are never going to see one of those red-hot chili peppers next to our names on Who knows why? Certainly it couldn’t be that extra 15 pounds, rapidly graying and/or receding hair, weird teeth, or consignment-quality wardrobe. We may get raves about our senses of humor, our knowledge of an arcane field, or our ability to be “fair” in our grading, but most of us will never have the satisfaction of being considered caliente.

It is unfair that only the few youthful, freakishly good-looking faculty members among us get all of those chili-pepper accolades. So I propose that the following consolation icons be included on the site’s menu:

The Pizza Slice. This is for faculty members who make an effort, however misguided, to appear youthful and hip after passing the 40-year mark. Students are saying, “Yes, it is embarrassing to observe a middle-aged man (or woman) in expensive jeans, funky shoes, and trendy shirt, but it seems to make you happy—so go for it. Better that you be delusional and cheerful than depressed, grouchy, and fully aware of how old and pathetic you actually look.”

The Espresso Cup. The student here is saying, “I can see that you have a coherent style going on there: an array of black and gray clothing that has a vague, critical-theory hipness to it. And good job on finding the right kind of severe glasses and retro haircut to fit the look. Personally, I find this aesthetic dull and pretentious, but it is fun to see you strike self-conscious poses at the whiteboard, like some kind of morose poet in a Sears catalog for existentialists.”

The Lump of Tofu. With this icon, the student is suggesting: “I gather from all of your references to vegan dietary ethics and your frequently expressed contempt for the eating habits of our fast-food nation that you’re taking good care of yourself nutritionally. That internal health may not be reflected in your sallow complexion, bird’s nest of unkempt hair, and lethargic demeanor, but I’ll take your word on this one, nevertheless.”

The Half-Eaten Protein Bar. This is a student’s way of saying: “You may not be an especially attractive human being, but it does appear that you spend a lot of time at the gym attempting to get into shape. Good job, in other words, for trying. Yes, you may have weird hair, lame clothes, for more


Interesting Back and Forth

I’m mulling over some reactions to a Facebook link I posted. I saw an article that countered the now famed “End of Men” article in The Atlantic. In a nutshell, the article points out that except for the highest tiers in business and politics, women are outperforming men in school and work. The old style manly man isn’t faring well in a post-industrial society that’s valuing thinking and communicating over say heavy lifting and bravado. Of course, this is the kind of article that gets people to buy magazines and I’m not so sure that all its claims are true, though a lot are.

Anyway, on Facebook, a friend commented on how boys’ poor academic achievement is due to a girl-oriented curriculum. Hmmm. I know from my graduate school training that the original American public school curriculum was designed for boys’ development. It’s also designed for farm kids and others who need to work and exit school at 8th grade, hence the need to insure that everyone’s studied the U.S. Constitution and founding then. It’s not bad to learn American history in junior high so why change that even though most students will stick around for 12 years of school.

While one can debate these ideas, many people, experts and lay observers, agree that girls tend to be strong in language, so if the books chosen for reading and writing are based on what the boys can read in each grade, it stands to reason that girls and boys with a talent for reading will breeze through them. Moreover, girls have been considered weaker in math and science. There’s been a lot of research and commentary on that. Schools have tried to address this by changing how math is taught and understanding how teachers may do a disservice to female students by not asking them tough questions or by expecting little of them. Many teachers have worked to change this gender gap.

Math curriculum has changed in that it now introduced algebraic concepts and statistics at earlier ages. Writing instruction has changed in that we don’t teach grammar and spelling as much (neither would be strongholds for boys anyway) and there’s more attention to the process of writing. As for reading, there is less phonics taught in the early years. These pedagogical changes are significant, but I don’t think they’ve made school easier for girls. I do think society’s changes, that it’s acceptable for girls to achieve and even outpace boys, matters. Decades ago, girls were supposed to let the boys win.

If my friend’s contention that boys are doing poorly because the curriculum has been “girlified” seems weak. For example, changing math curriculum so that it’s more accessible to girls, who are supposed to be worse at math, should have resulted in more boys excelling in math. Conservatives, like my friend, believe that not teaching phonics and grammar weakened the curriculum, (I do bet that boys learn reading better with phonics). Well, if the weaker curriculum is what boosted girls in this area where they are strong anyway, wouldn’t that show a rise in boys’ achievement? You can question whether removing phonics had an adverse effect, but I just hope to show that the thinking behind this criticism isn’t logical. Moreover, my hunch is that if my friend had his dream K-12 schools, the girls would adjust and achieve in them too.

I’m hard pressed to blame the curriculum as I do think that social and technological changes play a greater role. I’m not all that worried about boys. Given their leadership at BP, Goldman Sachs and the like, I’m not sure I want them at the helm so much anyway. Also, I have this feeling that boys realize and expect a place at the table and that they will continue to fare well and get breaks that women and minorities will still have to fight for.

It bothers me that girls’ achievement alarms anyone. As the article from “In These Times” which I posted on Facebook states, it’s a win-win for families and society.

Le Meridian, Chiang Rai

The first few days I spent in Chiang Rai Resort I stayed at the delightful, chic Le Meridian. It’s outside the town center, but there is regular shuttle service to the town and outlying art centers.

The rooms are beautifully designed and the lobby, fitness center and pool area are sleek and soothing as is the spa. They have a lovely library with free wifi and lots of windows to let in the tropic breezes.

I was able to use my points and pay $30 for my room. Quite a good deal.

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