Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Bye Google

Crap crap crap.

Google has been talking for a long time about leaving China. Apparently there were censorship issues and other disagreements with the Chinese government. We all heard about it back in January but nothing had happened since. Until this morning.

Goodbye Google.com.cn. When I try to go to Google.com or use my toolbar google search I get automatically switched to Google Hong Kong. Weird.

Right now I can still get into my Gmail account and I can search in English using Google HK, but I am going to be up a certain creek without my paddle if China decides to block Google entirely. Not only do I use Google at least 10 times a day, that's where my e-mail account is. ARGH.

*grumble grumble*

Monday, 22 March 2010

Pay For The Funny!

I am pretty sure I mentioned before that I've been spending time with Zuloo Smack, an improv group (apparently the ONLY improv group) in Shanghai. I've been going to their weekly labs when I was available and have been in a total of three performances so far. The first two were at Bali Bistro and one, this Saturday, was at Sound Blue.

I did improv all four years in college and I was really excited to find an improv group here. I had done performances at Drew for mixed audiences in terms of size and reception. I still say the best show that I was in was the one we did as an opening act for a Thursday night comedy group in the Space (a hangout on campus). The two Bali Bistro performances had it's ups and downs. Two serious downsides were that the stage was TINY. I mean like the size of a large elevator. Try acting in that kind of space. The other downside was that the people there really didn't come to see improv but to eat, so it kind of felt like we were interrupting.

Saturday's show was the first time that I have performed in an improv show that people paid to see and it felt really good. The American Women's Club was doing a charity and we were the entertainment. The Sound Blue stage is a little bigger so we had more freedom and the people coming CAME to see improv. It was so cool.

I think one of my favorite parts of the night was the game Genres, where we act out a normal scene, then do it 2-3 more times in different movie styles. For example, the scene we did Saturday we did again as a chick flick, a western and a musical. I was in the scene with Matthew and Christoper. I've done scenes before where we have to sing, but this was the first time EVER we had someone actually playing the piano that we had to sing along with (think Whose Line Is It Anyway). I don't know if the fact that there would be a piano player for that scene was mentioned during a rehearsal and I just wasn't paying attention or what, but that was a HUGE surprise for me standing up there on stage when the music started. It went really well though, and someone from the audience later told me I had a lovely singing voice! :-)

It was a lot of fun doing improv for an audience that came specifically to see us. It was really cool to get a lot of compliments from people watching after the show. I love performing in front of people. It's a nice rush.

Afterwards, the actors all went to a bar called Bell and hung out a little while longer. It's a fun group of people. Especially Elizabeth! I'm hoping that she and I will go to Hanoi during a long weekend I have the first weekend in May. We'll see!

Much Love.
Teh Sprof

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Nice Guy Taxis

I've had my bad luck with taxis in China. Especially in Shanghai. I've had taxis that have purposely tried to rip me off. I've had to deal with such things as them messing with the meter, taking the longest way possible to get to my destination, getting "lost" or even saying they had no change when I tried to pay with a larger bill.

I've learned to deal with it. Usually with preventative measures. I always repeat where I want to go at least twice to make sure we are both clear. I bring a map so that I can point out exactly where I want to go. I will say in Chinese which characters the street names are or by which route I want them to take me. I always pay attention when they are driving and if I know they are going the wrong way I make a stink. I've gotten the fare reduced a few times because I know they were doing something wrong. Still, on occasion, I know I've been ripped off and there wasn't really anything I could do about it.

With that mindset, yesterday was a really nice change. TWICE yesterday I was taking a taxi and before we arrived at my destination they lifted up the meter so that I got a reduced price. The only time a driver has EVER done that for me before was because I demanded they did since they had taken the long way around. Both times yesterday when I asked why they did it the drivers said they did it because they had gotten a little lost. I had been paying attention and both drivers went maybe the TINIEST BIT out of the way. Nothing I would bother complaining about usually. Instead they both realized what had happened and just made sure I got the real price. I was shocked the first time it happened and beside myself when it happened the very next time I took a taxi.

It's a nice change to have taken a ride with an honest and kind taxi driver.


Monday, 15 March 2010

The Contents of a Woman's Purse...

Things at work continue to be crazy busy. I thought I would post something but since I don't have too much time to really get up to date I thought I would be silly and post something as a kind of window to my life. Last night I cleaned out 3 purses and 2 backpacks I had been using on and off because I was getting tired of not being able to find what I needed everyday. They say the content of a woman's purse will tell you a lot about them. Here is a list of everything I found:

2 Cameras
3 Greeting Cards
5 Packages of Wet Wipes
7 Packages of tissues
1 Pair of sunglasses
3 Chapsticks (all Burt's Bees)
3 Necklaces
2 Hairclips
1 Novel
2 Chinese dictionaries
3 Notebooks
1 Sudoku book
1 Chinese textbook
2 Maps of Shanghai
5 Containers of Doublemint mints (2 of which were empty)
11 Pieces of gum not in their packages
3 Partial packages of gum
2 Mirrors
1 Pack of Beijing Opera playing cards
81RMB in assorted bills and coins (and one British penny)
1 Container of floss
1 Pair of folding scissors
1 Wallet
1 Change purse
1 single journey subway ticket.

This subway ticket really bothers me for two reasons. One: I ALWAYS use my transit card. ALWAYS. and Two: You need to put the subway ticket back in the machine to get out. Did someone slip this thing in my purse thereby trapping themselves in the subway? I am really confused.

Also not mentioned was a PILE of receipts and empty gum wrappers which I tossed and a PILE of entrance tickets I was still carrying around from my trip with Mom and Bethany.

So what do you get from the list? The only pattern I see is that I live in Shanghai, am studying Chinese and care about dental hygiene.

Later taters!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Why Haven't I Posted?

"Why hasn't Stephanie posted?", you may ask yourself. The answer is simple. I am awash in responsibilities.

Apparently this semester is front loaded with craziness. I have been back at work for less than two weeks but have already had 4 meetings. The Extended Essays are due the end of this week and since I have two EE students I have to read draft after draft and give advice about them, as well as filling out supervisor forms and conducting interviews. Me, the worrier, is paranoid I am going to miss something important that will make them lose points so I have been reading all the IBO documentation about EEs that I can find.

CAS (creativity, action and service) is also winding down for the seniors. I have to have final interviews with each of my 5 CAS students by Wednesday next week, as well as reviewing their handbooks, filling in progress reports and giving final comments. I found out there was going to be another River of Hearts volunteer event this Saturday so I took the initiative to try and get some Pinghe students to go. I put up a sign up sheet, organized a meeting point and sent announcement reminders to the classroom teachers. This is the first time I am doing something like this by myself so I hope it goes well. I've got 20 students signed up already.

In the world of classes, right now I have my normal class schedule of 12 classes a week with grade 11 and 12. In about two weeks I am going to have an open class where my co-workers will observe me teaching (I get so nervous for those). After that I have about 6 weeks of TOK (basic philosophy) classes that I will be teaching on top of my normal workload. I am teaching my TOK class about Art I put together last semester for the grade 10 class 3, and doing a new section on The Power of Names for the other two grade 10 classes.

I also have a GIANT STACK of winter homework that I am trying to get through ASAP so it doesn't just sit on my desk and take up room. At least it makes for interesting reading since I tried to give them creative writing prompts that they could have fun with.

I hope all this doesn't come across as complaining. I would rather be awash in responsibilities than feel useless. I feel a lot more involved with my students and my school this year and it's nice to feel like what I am doing matters. And this craziness shouldn't last long. This is a relatively short semester (19 weeks), and once May rolls around my responsibilities with the 12th graders are pretty much over. They start their exams then and as soon as the exams are done they graduate.

In my life outside of Pinghe, I am still going to improv lab. We have a meeting on Monday to discuss some upcoming shows. I'm happy to be performing again. My Chinese classes will be starting up again next Tuesday at the same school but with a new teacher and a classmate! I hope the classmate and I get along and that the teacher is good.

I've been having fun hanging out with various people, but nothing really blog worthy. I went to a birthday dinner for a friend at a Turkish resaturant, met up with someone I haven't seen since high school who happened to be in Shanghai, as well as various dinners and nights out with coworkers. I have kept up my Sunday night baking tradition and brought some brownies in on Monday. I think next I shall make sugar cookies using a lovely heart shaped cooking cutter my friend Rose sent me.

Anyway, I am sorry for the delay and hopefully I will have something more interesting to post soon.

Much love!