Morning Meeting

If your brain had a morning meeting what would it look like?

This woman needs her own TV show.

Poem of the Week

A poem for Labor Day


by Langston Hughes
Clean the spittoons, boy.
      Atlantic City,
      Palm Beach.
Clean the spittoons.
The steam in hotel kitchens,
And the smoke in hotel lobbies,
And the slime in hotel spittoons:
Part of my life.
      Hey, boy!
      A nickel,
      A dime,
      A dollar,
Two dollars a day.
      Hey, boy!
      A nickel,
      A dime,
      A dollar,
      Two dollars
Buy shoes for the baby.
House rent to pay.
Gin on Saturday,
Church on Sunday.
      My God!
Babies and gin and church
And women and Sunday
All mixed with dimes and
Dollars and clean spittoons
And house rent to pay.
      Hey, boy!
A bright bowl of brass is beautiful to the Lord.
Bright polished brass like the cymbals
Of King David’s dancers,
Like the wine cups of Solomon.
      Hey, boy!
A clean spittoon on the altar of the Lord.
A clean bright spittoon all newly polished—
At least I can offer that.
      Com’mere, boy!

Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea

I highly recommend animator Guy Delisle’s graphic memoir Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea. Deslisle, a French Canadian, had to go to North Korea for two months to supervise the animators his French employer contracted (for their ultra-cheap rates). As you might expect the landscape and city are dreary, dark at night save a lit up portrait of the Supreme Leader. He recounts his dull, ever-present translator and guide. The food is bland and the restaurants dirty. Foreigners are separated from the People. So Delisle’s only companionship is a go-between at work, and other foreigners at the hotel or in the NGO compound, which has parties on the weekend.


It was interesting to read about the approved responses Capt. Sin, Delise’s handler would give to his queries about the country and to learn of the pervasive propaganda. One “high” point was a visit to the Museum of American Oppression, which was two stories of images (three photos and many paintings) of Americans doing atrocious things to the North Koreans. There are paintings of US soldiers forcing motor oil down the throats of children and other forms of torture including the use of the rack, which seem quite dubious even if you acknowledge that yes, unfortunately, and shamefully, sometimes American military has resorted to torture. Capt. Sin was very disappointed that Delise didn’t react as he’d expected to the museum trip.


delisle_guy_pyongyangThere are plenty of anecdote’s of the usual the translator isn’t around when Delisle needs him so rather than wait for hours Delisle goes out on his own through the streets of Pyongyang in search of a gift for his godson. “What’s to buy in the DPRK?” you might ask. Delisle did return empty handed as he couldn’t even find a cheap kitsch. Poor North Korea, indeed. Delisle made me feel like a friend he was sharing his tales of North Korea with. I felt his treatment was fair and thorough. I sure wouldn’t want to stay in Pyongyang a minute past two months. If you do have to go, even for a weekend, Bring food. What they offer seems dreadful.

Based on this book, I’m planning to read his books on Shenzhen and Jerusalem. The later I’ve already ordered from the library.

WPC: Awakening


Awaken with Cappuccino, Taipei


Awaken Pancakes, Jinan

Not many signs of spring here yet, but everyday I like to awaken with some coffee and breakfast.

1. Each week, WordPress will 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 Wednesday 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.

Just a few wonderful posts:

And Another Semester Begins

Tomorrow I return to China and school will begin on the 7th. The fall is usually easier because we just have one course so there’s less planning to do. I’ve got a good schedule with Thursday’s off. I think I’ll have one class from the spring and they were a good group.

The day before departure’s always hectic. I’m more or less packed, but I have to go to the bank, get a flu shot (optional), have lunch with a friend and then tea with another, attend an online class, and I hope find time to see my aunt, who’s still in rehab. I’ll probably make one more trip to the grocery store.

Lots of rushing around, but it would be weird to just spend the day lying about.


A week ago Friday we learned that there was a hold up with getting our tickets back to China. The Chinese consulate rejected our applications because some “unspecified” paperwork was missing. I figured things would work out since the Chinese government approved this program and the students need teachers.

We had a week of waiting and sometimes I thought well, maybe, the government doesn’t care that students need and paid extra for international teachers. However, Monday our employer got our visas and by today we’ve got our passports in hand and airline reservations made. We’ll arrive in China on the 4th and start teaching on the 7th.

I’m looking forward to this semester and the warmer weather I’ll find in Jinan.

Bad Part of the Day

After a wonderful day, I was about to start doing some school work and checking my emails, when I felt a drop on my head. How strange as I’m indoors.

I looked up and saw:


 Oh, no.

I call our liaison. No answer. I text. No answer. I turn off and unplug all the electronics nearby. I call again. I go to one of my neighbors as I’m getting antsy waiting and need to tell someone.

Thirty minutes later, I get a text saying someone else will come over.

Ten minutes later help arrives. We all go upstairs to the empty apartment. There doesn’t seem to be any problem. We call my neighbor across the wall, but he’s out. The Foreign Affairs helper goes to get the key for the empty apartment next to the one above me. There she discovers his radiator has burst. She turns off the water somehow.

Meanwhile my neighbor returns and finds all sorts of belongings are soaked. He’s got more water damage than I do.

Well, it was an exciting end to an otherwise good day.

By the way, that’s the fifth water problem we’ve had this year.

Travel Theme: Belonging

mango & sticky rice belong together

mango & sticky rice belong together

Friends belong together, Jinan

Friends belong together, Jinan

This man felt he belonged here, - he lost that battle

This man felt he belonged here, – he lost that battle

Each week Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack? challenges bloggers with a creative prompt. Last  week we were suppose to post photos inspired by “Belonging.”

What arches have you seen? If you want to join the fun, follow these steps:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Arches
  • 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!

Check out Where’s My Backpack for more photos interpreting “Arches.”


Yesterday I went to the local dentist. I was curious and decided in February I’d wait and get my teeth checked and examined here. I tend to have no problems so it wasn’t like I was taking a big risk. A few colleagues have gotten dental work done here and have been satisfied.

In many ways it was like going to a barber.  No appointments, no records. Just come in. Sit down and we’ll serve you.

So my student assistant’s friend took me to the neighborhood dentist. They’re fairly new to the neighborhood and the office was clean. The equipment was all new and looked up to date. It wasn’t as sophisticated or expensive, but everything seemed up to snuff. I didn’t have an appointment and I don’t think most patients make them. The two dentists were there. No receptionist or assistants.

They had me take a seat and the assistant explained what I wanted. Just an exam and cleaning. No one took my name or medical history, no dental history. They explained it would be 60 rmb ($10) in a way that made it sound like they wondered if that was too much.

I got a good cleaning, though not as thorough as I get in the US. The dentist polished my teeth and then said I had some problems with my teeth. I have absolutely no pain and my last appointment in late August, I had X-rays that showed no emerging problems. What’s more, the dentist hadn’t looked all that carefully at my teeth and I experienced no pain while she was cleaning my teeth. I tend to think that was a bit of a ploy to make the exam more “productive.” I just said I’d take care of any problems back home. I really doubt there are any because she never mentioned exactly what the problem was or which tooth it was. Typically a dentist shows you.

Still I’m glad I got my teeth cleaned. They feel good and I did save a bundle, though I’ll keep my American dentist.