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Poor Dwight and Morwenna

clowrance

Sunday’s Poldark episode began by showing the villagers poorer and starving. Yet, and this should come as no surprise, George had no mercy or compassion for them. He rounded up those he could and sentenced them to 15 years in prison.

Also, the program included the fastest, no fuss, birth I’ve ever seen on television. In one scene Demelza’s digging potatoes and a bit later she’s got her new daughter Clowance  in her hands.  I didn’t actually mind the abbreviated birth because the episode was packed with other events.

Dwight is stuck in a dank, dark, decrepit prison which rivaled the Les Misérables Paris sewers for hygiene. Yet despite the starvation and mental anguish of his imprisonment, heroic Dwight manages to perform surgery in his cell.

carpe diem morwenna

Carpe diem, Morwenna

Morwenna and Drake, both reserved by nature, tentatively get closer. Yet as Morwenna’s charge Geoffrey speaks up to George and is found to have gone to Clowance’s baptism on the sly, George and Elizabeth feel it’s time for her to marry. Poor Morwenna. The Warleggan’s don’t bother to find anyone at all suitable. They settle for the first slimy widower to come along, a much older and very greasy Rev. Osborne Whitworth. Morwenna should run for the hills! But there’s no one who can rescue her. It’s out of the question socially that she could marry Dwight who lives in a dark, old building with a dirt floor with his brother. Even Demelza thinks Morwenna could never marry down.

George doesn’t brook opposition, no matter how wise or how true. Thus he’s exiling Aunt Agatha to the dungeon of the coldest, darkest part of the house. He makes sure that she gets no letters, including Ross’ invitation to Clowance’s christening.

As so many people are starving Caroline and Demelza team up to get them grain. Ross finds a way to trick George so that he’s fooled into thinking the villages stole when in fact they were given grain through donations. Ross’ trick backfires as it prompts George to get even by closing his mine, which was once a Poldark mine just out of spite. The result is 70 breadwinners will be out of work and their families may starve, but George has no compassion and he doesn’t care. Be careful George, look what the French did to their upper class.

The episode was brisk and moved a long with lots of emotion and action. The hour whipped by and I didn’t want the show to end. We’re left hanging to see what will become of Dwight, Morwenna and all the others in this splendid cast. I find I like Geoffrey Charles more and more.

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Job Hunting

Since I always try to keep my eyes open for new opportunities, I don’t feel like it’s been ages since I’ve looked for a job, but this fall it sure feels like I’ve entered a new era.

When looking for jobs teaching English I rely on my network and two websites, tesol.org and chroniclevitae.com. These two sites have the better jobs. Dave’s ESL Café tends to have poor search filters and worse yet any fly-by-night English school can and does place ads there. I found the dreadful job at KNUE in Miho, South Korea on Dave’s.

This time around I’m branching out. I’m looking for jobs on library websites, which has been straightforward and I’m also using new services like Ziprecruiter.com. So far Ziprecruiter has been the best of the new internet services. Once you set up an account, you get suggested jobs that align with your skills, interests, education and experience. It’s quite tailored and several jobs have “One-Click” applications. Once you’ve applied, you receive emails about when the employer looks at your application and if they look two or three times. Each time the email tells you something like “only 17% of resumes are looked at three times,” which is encouraging.

I’m also testing out Handshake, which University of Illinois offers. Those jobs are relevant to my degree in Library Science. Handshake offers posts on other professions too.

Some other sites like Localwise.com clog your email with lots of unrelated jobs. For example I’ve gotten jobs connected to engineering or physics, areas I have no expertise in at all. Even worse, they sell your email address to anyone so I’ve gotten emails about “opportunities” to sell life insurance. So you have to be leery unless you want to spend your days unsubscribing to spam.

The Collection

I gave Masterpiece’s The Collection a try when it premiered on Sunday. It didn’t take long for me to grow tired of a program where the characters all seemed dark, greedy and selfish. I confess after 10 minutes or so I changed the channel.

The show is about a struggling fashion house in Paris after WWII. The man in the center of the video’s first frame is the jaded, selfish owner of a fashion house is asked by a government official to help France’s fashion industry rise again to its former zenith.  To his left is his reprobate brother who’s a talented designer who’s got substance abuse problems.

I’d much rather PBS brought back The Paradise, where the characters were flawed and faced obstacles, but the heroine was good, though not at all boring. Dark characters like those in House of Cards or The Collection aren’t necessarily fascinating.

If I got the show wrong, and should give it a chance by catching up online, let me know.

Neruda

Until I saw Neruda, I had no idea what a selfish jerk poet cum senator Pablo Neruda was. I just thought he wrote beautiful romantic poetry. He was also a senator for the Communist party and gave a controversial speech against the Chilean president. In response, the president orders Neruda’s arrest and the libertine churl goes underground.

The film isn’t exactly a biopic as it’s told completely from the point of view of  Oscar Peluchonneau, a police officer played by Gael García Bernal, who’s the Ahab to Neruda’s white whale. This police officer imagined that his real father was a legendary police officer and he wants to prove himself by capturing Neruda. Throughout the film the officer narrates and comments on Neruda and waxes eloquently on the pursuit’s significance.

I had no interest in Neruda who had no concern for his friends who were risking their lives to keep him safe. If he felt like a walk to the local brothel, he’d go no matter how that might expose both him and his friends.

I found the central character obnoxious and the voice overs were soon annoying. I so disliked Neruda, who was full of hot air in his political career, with little real concern for the poor people he grew up with that I’m not sure anything could make me like the film. However, it did win the 2017 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film so some writers did like it.

Taiwan

I had hoped to visit Taiwan this October since we have a week off, but because of the visa delay, and the further need to enjoy the Immigration services on offer in China where it takes about 4 months to get your visa done. Immigration has our passports for three weeks! So I’m not going to Taiwan, but can experience it on YouTube through Simon and Martina’s eyes and palettes.

I wonder what my friend Debbie, who’s from Taiwan thinks of this.

Hot Yoga?

On Monday Tara and I went to a yoga class down the street. Tara, who’s a big yoga practitioner and even does Acro-Yoga, had gone on the first Friday we were here.  Then she said the room was quite hot and the teacher was something of a task master, so I had no interest in a Friday class. However, she’d been told that the Monday teacher spoke better English so I figured I try this Monday.

“Hot” was an understatement. While this wasn’t called “Hot Yoga,” the teacher immediately shut all the windows in the fan-less room with no air conditioning. She was cheerful in her greeting and when we started there were 4 students. Later the class number doubled. In the next room loud rock music blared.

The start was fine, but soon I realized that the cycle of downward dog – cobra – warrior pose would just repeat more or less for an hour. Soon I was drenched in sweat and having no fun at all. I thought of just leaving and after 35 or 40 minutes I just stopped and sat with my legs crossed.

I rejoined the participants at the end for the “relaxation” when the quiet New Age music was drowned out by the rock.

A Long Day and a Good One

Week Two and we’ve started with two very different days. On Monday after lunch Tara and I had a surprising day. We knew that we’d have a different day as we’d been told that everyone would go to the main campus across town for a ceremony with the Rektor and Vice Rektor i.e. the university president and vice president. I’d hoped we’d have an earlier day than usual, but knew that there was no telling.

I was impressed by the large campus with stunning architecture. While the grounds were stark they, buildings were colorful and for me exotic.

As is not unusual, it took awhile for people to assemble, which is common for Indonesia. The ceremony was supposed to start at two and at 2:20 I wasn’t sure when we’d start. Then a woman holding two headscarves approached Tara and I. She asked if we’d wear headscarves so that “everyone could look the same.” I didn’t have much time to really think about it before we were whisked into a side room to put on headscarves. When we went to the big mosque on Saturday, we had to put on headscarves and take off our shoew, which I gladly complied with as it was a way of respecting a religion. Now I was caught off guard and not sure how to decline. This was just a meeting and some women in Indonesia don’t wear headscarves. This group did, but they also want to become an internationals school with students from abroad and the lecturers want to go to America to study. They’ll have to be around women without headscarves. Anyway, we went along and as soon as we put on the scarves, the woman who gave them to us told us we looked beautiful. It seemed awkward to be told that now that we had scarves on we were beautiful. I’m not sure what to make of that. Some of the folks on the planning committee were apologetic and I think embarrassed about this last minute headscarf thing. People have been so hospitable and gracious, but there still are some awkward moments.

Eventually the meeting started. First the head of the organizational committee spoke, explaining its goals (i.e. to prepare young lecturers to speak in international settings like conferences and to enable them to write for academic publication. It’s a loft goal since a lot of my students can’t write an outline let alone a solid paper. Also the Vice Rektor stated that within about 10 years the government wants all lecturers, not just assistant professors to have PhDs. Now 30% do. To top that off, this university wants to be in the top 500 universities in the world by 2030, which considering that the library doesn’t subscribe to many databases or have a collection of books needed to do the research needed to get highly ranked means it’s sort of a Don Quixote impossible dream.

We’ve got three weeks to teach or perhaps explain the main skills needed to write an article that would be published in an international journal. (I say explain because to me “teach” implies that at least half of the students can do at least a so so version of the taught skill. Here I think a lot will just be able to talk about it and will need more practice before they can apply what’s been taught.

The Head of the Language Center spoke and I was surprised how much of his talk was administrivia (e.g. we reserved the hotel for the teachers on July 16th, I’ll fill out the forms for their stipends on Tuesday, and things of that ilk, which we’d just handle through email or less formal meetings).

So all the department leaders, Tara and I and two students all spoke. One student included a lot of religion in his speech, which I doubt would have been included in a similar speech at a Christian university.

So the meeting finally ended and then people took a lot of photos before finally leaving.

We’d driven with an administrator named Fuzan and a lecturer and were going to return with him. But a very bright outgoing student offered to drive us to the hotel. Fuzan politely, but firmly said he would because he’d been assigned to. We thought we’d just go with whomever was less inconvenienced. There was quite a lot of back and forth and finally the program director intervened and had us go with the outgoing student. OK. Maybe he lives closer to our hotel.

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A Little Strange

Friday was the annual Sports Day here on campus. What was weird is that all the other years I’ve been here the university was intent on making sure all the International Teachers participated in the opening ceremony. This year we were invited to the event at 9:30am, after the opening ceremony had concluded.

What’s wrong?

Was our marching that bad?

Bad Teaching

My new library class got off to a bad start last week. It’s an online class in digital libraries. The professor has had three and a half months to travel the world for research and what not. (There aren’t too many conferences in the summer.)

He didn’t show up for the first class. If he had an emergency, I could cut him some slack but he didn’t plan on teaching the class. He just told the Teaching Assistant to take it and to just read us the syllabus. For undergraduate classes that’s common, but in grad school, the class hits the ground running.

The reason for the professor missing the class was that he was in China and he figured it would be too hard to get online. Since I’ll be taking all but two classes from China, I wasn’t convinced. At least try to give the class from China and have the assistant prepared to take over. Tape a class and post it on YouTube. Get a VPN or use the University of Illinois VPN.

My teacher from San Jose State, a lower ranked school, where they seem to take the teaching part of their job more seriously, gave classes when he was in New Zealand and I think Europe. Also, the course featured guest teachers from the Library of Congress, Denmark and top libraries in the US. These were in addition to, not in lieu of, the teacher giving the lecture.

I wouldn’t mind guest lecturers in lieu of the assigned teacher, but that wouldn’t work for the first class.

In addition to missing class, the teacher disappointed me by assigning 2 group projects. One’s horrid enough online. Two just makes me think he doesn’t want to spend much time grading. (Perhaps he needs to find a job where he doesn’t have to do all this annoying teaching-related work.)

I wish he’d learn from my rare books teacher, who was so down-to-earth and appeared to like teaching.

So far of the full time teachers I’ve had at UICU, one has seemed as though she didn’t mind teaching. They’re in stark contrast to my visiting professor from University of Indiana, and the profs from San Jose State or University of British Columbia. I think I’ve learned that students are best attended to by professors not working at a school ranked #1. Ironic and sad.

Disclaimer

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