Sunday, September 30, 2012

30 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date Sunday, 30 September 2012

first Pay Day! • beginning of vacation time • put together week-long schedule of activities for people staying in town and distributed it • went to Joy City in Xidan to get iPhone 4S • so, finally, I would have two much needed items: a camera and a phone – not having both of these items has served as a constant issue for me for the past month • arrived at the Apple store at Joy City – one of two official stores in Beijing – to find it literally swarming with people just like every other Apple Store in the world, and no one even knows when the iPhone 5 will be available here • I am elated to be able to purchase an iPhone 4S as I have been wanting an iPhone since the first one was released and this is five generations in • I am prepared to pay a princely sum of 4488 CN 元 ($714.65) for it – which isn't too bad for an unlocked iPhone • little do I realize however, that there is a deal to be had at the Apple Store or so I am told by Aries, my friendly, English-speaking, Mac Specialist • I didn't know there were 'deals' at the Apple Store, ever!

How to Get a Deal on an Unlocked iPhone 4S from the Genuine Apple Store in Beijing without Really Trying - or - How Reverse Credit Works in 中國 / Zhōngguó

Aries, my friendly Mac Specialist, takes me and my passport down to the second level of the gigantic Joy City, Xidan Apple Store. On the way, he helpfully explains to me that I can get the iPhone 4S 16GB for 999 CN 元 ($159) with a two-year contract from China Telecom. Naturally, I have no idea how this is possible or how I would be able to get a two-year cell phone contract in 中國 / Zhōngguó. Therefore, I am very suspicious. Then, however, it dawns on me how it works. It works like every other significant purchase I have made in 中國 / Zhōngguó of any lately. Of course, then Aries explains that you just pay the contract up front. I call it reverse credit; and frankly, I don't know why this idea hasn't been exported to America, or maybe I do. Anyway, the way it works is that you given China Telecom the money for two years of service, and they sell you the iPhone 4S discounted down to a quarter of its original price. Then you get 600 minutes of talk, unlimited text, and 1 GB of data service per month. The iPhone 4S is smart enough to use your own wi-fi whenever possible, even for phone calls. So, unless you have to download movies on the road away from wi-fi, 1GB a month is really pretty good. The cost of this whole package is about a 1000 CN 元 less than the normal price for just the iPhone 4S without any service. You would have to be really silly not to see the beauty of this deal. Yet, you also would have to have 3600 CN 元 of available cash to even enter into the deal which is probably why most people in 中國 / Zhōngguó cannot manage to swing the deal. I, however, was up for it, but after two hours of trying, Aries and three other helping specialists could not get my information from my passport and person to activate the phone. So, sadly, they sent me up the street to the China Telecom building to get my iPhone. They gave me a couple of cards that would ensure (a) I got the same price as they were offering and (b) the person would know what I was there to purchase.

Once at the China Telecom office, I got a young woman to help me set up the entire thing. In under 35 minutes, I walked out with the new iPhone 4S and a sim card to activate it once I got home. More importantly I had a phone number!!!!!! I had a camera!!!! I had a way to text and communicate with my local pals!!!!!!

What's in a Telephone Number in 中國 / Zhōngguó
Most telephone numbers in 中國 / Zhōngguó are 8 digits with a 3-digit number like our area code. Cell phones are a little different here in that they have 8 digits after a 3-digit cell phone area code that can be anywhere in the country. It was kind of a smarter way to do it than we did it in the USA where cell phones were crammed into existing area codes quickly wiping them all out for the people with local landlines. Clearly, the telephone companies here learned from our mistakes. Just like in the USA, I was given a long list of phone number from which to choose. I picked my favorite one only to find out that it would cost an arm and a leg as it was a so-called special number. So, I asked the agent to tell me which ones were "not special" which left me a choice between two equally non-descriptor numbers. I picked the one that ended in 0875 because, for some reason, I thought I would be able to easily remember that much of it.

hopped back on the train and headed home • lost so much time at the Apple Store that I was running about 10 minutes late • just barely met up with Katie and Derick who showed up for the first day of our week-long activity list with today being to go to see the movie Looper and have dinner at Wanda Plaza • took the 308 bus up to Wanda and waited about 35 seconds before deciding no one else was showing up – people waiting were supposed to be in front of Pizza Hut by 2:30 pm • went up, picked a show time and seats, and ate dinner at a very nice restaurant • Katie and Derick and I each enjoyed our meals •  had a very nice open face grilled chicken • did not have my iPhone ready, or I would have taken a picture for this blog • we went to the movie • after the movie, we went to Carrefour for shopping • I purchased milk, cereal, and Xiong Mao snack cakes • we rode the 308 home • I spent the rest of the evening testing out my new phone! • texted almost everyone I know in China and gave them my number • had an hour-long phone conversation with Lena about our plans for the week • I texted back and forth with 大 Jarrod and found that I had just missed him, Niall, and XJ who were waiting at Wanda to go to the movies with me for an hour • I felt very sad about that indeed as I knew I wasn't going to seem them during the break as they were all traveling to various far away places from Xi'an to Shanghai • finally, fell asleep after missing countless Skype opportunities with my family to talk during the weekend

Saturday, September 29, 2012

29 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date Saturday, 29 September 2012

walked to school • that's right a full day of school • advisory meetings were held in the afternoon followed by one more class for poor 大 Jarrod • said goodbye to all 10th graders and wished the 12th graders well on their SAT • after school, a group of 20 teachers from International Department A-Level and AP programs went to Wudoukou for pizza at Pyro Pizza followed by ice cream at Häagen-Dazs • strictly my opinion, but the pizza was not so good • after pizza we all kind of split up into smaller groups • and 大 Jarrod and I had ice cream at Häagen-Dazs after I apparently embarrassed him by yelling out, "冰淇淋在哪裡? " (Bīngqílín zài nǎlǐ? – which is one of the few expressions we used on my second and third trips to 中國 / Zhōngguó) until some local people finally stopped and agreed to direct us to the shop • Meagan and Steph went on a mission to check out Charlie Brown Café next door • soon we were all next door ordering hot chocolates and coffees with the face of Charlie Brown and Lucy drawn into the whip on top • so cool

talked and had a lot of fun before deciding to take a cab home to campus • arrived at some cosmically coincidental time as to have us run into XJ, Niall, Robbie, James, Abbey, Liz, and Liz K • again it was very cool! • talked in a big circle for a long time, until, one-by-one, people started to peel off and disappear into the night that was the eve of the start of the Harvest Moon Festival and then National Day on the 1st of October • these two holidays combined with our make-up day of school today will afford us an 8-day break • my only qualm is that I'm really not far enough along into the school year to need such a long break, however, I plan to enjoy it nonetheless

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

25 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Official Resident Permit for a Foreigner in the PRC
Woo-hoo! I received my official resident permit for a foreigner in the PRC today pasted onto page 11 of my passport.  This, along with my foreign expert certificate, I believe completes my necessary document drama to be an officially welcomed person to live and work in the PRC!  This was a lot of work and a long-time process, and certainly one that took many more hours of paperwork and processing behind the scenes at BNDS than I will probably ever know.  I am very grateful to the excellent staff at BNDS who have handled the lion-share of the work to accomplish these procedures and tasks on the behalf of all of the new international teachers of which there are 8 AP teachers, two babies, and 4 new oral English teachers for a total of 14 people to process and this is just in our department.  I have no idea how many other foreign teachers are employed by the National Program, I just know there are quite a few.  I was informed by David, our Chinese colleague in charge of the expert certification of foreign teachers, that most of this work only has to be done the first time, and the next time, it is a matter of re-application which is apparently very simple in comparison.  

Warning: Political Commentary Ahead
In any case, when I reflect upon this process and think about the way the Chinese government and people have welcomed the people with foreign experiences to fill job needs they have, because remember they do not have a shortage of people to fill jobs, it is really quite remarkable that this opportunity even exists.  It is one I certainly do not take for granted and feel both honored and privileged to have received.  I also believe, which I feel may be an unpopular idea with some people in the USA, that there is much we might learn about giving people with skills our country needs and jobs that need workers the opportunity to obtain credentials to live and work in the USA without becoming citizens if they either do not want to or are not needed in the long-term.  The work permit could be a nice intermediate step for many who work illegally in the USA but whom those who are willing to admit it are needed for particular jobs.  Rather than treating these people like criminals, there are alternatives.  I, for one, will be a tax paying person in the PRC where 15% off the top of my wages will go to taxes.  There will be no tax refunds for which to apply.  There are no tax loopholes nor havens for me to utilize.  I will pay 15% of my earning to the government to pay for roads, schools, jobs, housing, etc. of the workers like myself.  You can think of it as a tax, or you can think of it as an investment in the country and, in a way, in myself.  

Occasionally I think this aspect of taxes is lost on Americans particularly those who work to try to avoid paying them by paying accountants to find loopholes and deductions.  Paying taxes in a country is investing in it.  It is a different sort of investment, but it wasn't a private company that paid to build the bulk of the interstate highway system, it was the US tax payers who made a gigantic investment in our nation's infrastructure.  This is but one of thousands and thousands of examples of investments made in our nation by tax payers.  Clearly, you can work to avoid investing your money in our nation and you can believe that private companies or public ones would or will do better than the government ones.  But, there is not only no evidence of this, there is must evidence to the contrary.  Look at what happened when Mayor Daley sold the parking meters to JP Morgan.  Ask Chicagoans what they think of that decision to privatize the parking meters.  If you live in the east and drive on the interstates paying huge tolls every other mile, you may have a different take on them than westerners who have no clue what a toll road even is.  When private companies get involved and want to charge you and nickel and dime you all along the way, rather than building and turning it over to the people, you get years, generations of payments and interest.  You wouldn't own your school building, you would be paying rent on it forever.  Your school might get evicted in a lean year and so on.  In the USA, we have a nice balance between expenditures for the common good and investment by private companies.  But to say that taxes are evil and we are better off paying as little as possible and allowing private companies to do their jobs is just plain ludicrous.  

- - - - - - - - - - - End of Political Commentary - - - - - - - - - - -

arrived at school • got passport back • proctored 11c homeroom • administered first bio test for fre-AP 10s • worked on vacation and break homework for 10-11 • very rainy today • no desire to walk to dry cleaners or lunch • snacked on candy and Xiong Mao (Panda) cakes •  met with Todd • chilled with 大 Jarrod, Cameron, and Phil • left school at 6:30 and walked to pharmacy

Chinese Pharmacy
Back in the USA, were I sick like this, I would be thinking to myself, "I think I need antibiotics, but I don't want to go to the doctor for $125 and two-hour wait to be given a prescription for an antibiotic. Well, here in 中國 / Zhōngguó you can skip the whole doctor step. That's right, you can walk into any pharmacy and but pretty much over the counter at cut-rate prices just about any medicine you can think of.

Hey, America, you want to save money on health care?
How about letting grownups buy antibiotics without having to go through the motions with a physician's asst. and a co-pay to an insurance company only to be denied because you haven't met your deductible yet -- a fact you won't find out until the second bill and the subsequent application of the late fee, now at $25, for an antibiotic for a bacterial lung infection? You let people buy cigarettes -- a substance known to Surgeon General to cause lung cancer and emphysema but you won't let us touch a prescription antibiotic for less than $25 not including the cost of the medicine. Well, not so in China. I walked into the pharmacy, found the amoxicillin. I walked out literally five minutes later with 20 250-mg doses of amoxicillin for 36 RMB ($5.73). That is less than most USA hospitals charge for 1 aspirin!

walked to McDonald's for McNuggets • went home to eat and take antibiotics • watched season premiere of JJ Abrams new sci-fi allegory, 'Revolution' which I downloaded for free from iTunes® – I thought it was pretty good though a lot seemed right from the pages of The Hunger Games right down the bow-wielding heroine.

Monday, September 24, 2012

24 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date Monday, 24 September 2012

felt better this morning • got to school • observed Monday Morning assembly in stadium with flag raising • it is Term Break for 11th and 12th graders • regular Chinese school in homerooms for 10th

Break Week at BNDS
Apparently this week last year was very poorly attended by 11th and 12th graders whom, instead, stayed home to study for the SAT. Therefore, the administration decided to change the format for this week and have no classes for the 11th and 12th graders. Instead it would be quiet self-study in school all week. The 10th graders would have normal cases. Therefore, for teachers who teach only 11th and 12 graders it is a week of babysitting – just sitting in your classroom and watching them. For people like myself who teach both, it would be a combination, and for poor people like 大 Jarrod who teach only 10th graders, well, not difference – I really felt bad for my pal.

Broncos lost to Texans • went to lunch with Phil • went to dry cleaners to drop shirts for ironing

Thriving Street Vendor Economy
So, the past few Mondays I've headed to the dry cleaners down Restaurant Row. Along the street outside on the sidewalk, there is a booming economy of street vendors that survives on BNDS students. They can buy anything from cotton candy to crepes to DVDs. It turns out that every one of these vendors is breaking the law as they are all unlicensed, but the amount of money to be made and the small fines to be paid if caught make it worth it for the vendors. In a way, however, it is kind of cool to see the kids interacting with the vendors and watching this baby form of capitalism at work.

did not go to Café Serendipity for first Monday in a while due to feeling too tired and weary as day wore on and sickness was clearly not gone • 大 Jarrod made cookies and best brownies I have eaten in many moons •  wrote Pre-AP Bio test • went to Mandarin class • stayed at school until 8 pm getting recs for YCDS students done • chatted with their new director of college counseling and asst. head of upper school • walked home

Wonderful Surprise from my Neighbors
I arrived home to find my front door decorated with a beautiful moon cake package from my neighbors in 901 along with thank you note for the fruit -- not sure how they knew the fruit was from me. Their note read, "Dear Neighbor: Thank you very much for your fruits! This Sunday is Chinese Middle Autumn Day. We all eat moon cakes. These are some moon cakes for you. Welcome to our apartment! Yours Sincerely, 901 Family." Wow! That was pretty thoughtful.

Moon Cakes
Now, not to lessen the gift from my neighbors nor the intention which is truly special especially since I have not even met these people. I guess they know enough to know I am not from around these parts, but I have heard that the moon cakes are kind of the Chinese equivalent of the fruitcakes in the USA and are often gifted and re-gifted many times. I am not saying these were not purchased by the family in 901 specifically for me, I am just saying that sometimes Chinese people who receive these gifts do pass them on and on a few times. I was also told that usually you only give them to people you want to be in your family, so I don't know exactly how to take this gift. I also do not know the protocol. Should I give them the box of moon cakes BNDS gave me? I think theirs is actually a bit of a more expensive box because each cake is beautifully and expensively wrapped. Or should I wait until Thanksgiving and give them some turkey and stuffing? Will there be turkey and stuffing this Thanksgiving? I do not know. I personally do not have an oven. Anyway, I will have to ask around to find out the proper response to this thoughtful gift. I will also have to find out what to do with all these moon cakes. Right now, I am in possession of 14 of them.

the meter reading today brought me news that I have 345 kw of electricity left • time for sleep

Sunday, September 23, 2012

23 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date Sunday, 23 September 2012

woke up to concrete drilling next door at 8:30 am that stopped around 9:00 am • watched "Haven" episodes nearing the end of season 2 • did a load of laundry • napped • read the newspapers online • watched the season 2 finalé of "Haven" and wondered if there would be a season 3 • researched and found that there will be a season 3 airing on the syfy channel this fall – good news is I would be left hanging to find out what happens, bad news is I will have to wait a long time to watch it, I think, though I haven't tried to get syfy shows downloaded here • speaking of which, my brother reminded me that I might be able to download USA tv shows using iTunes® which I might try to download episode 1 of "Glee" season 4 tonight! • felt suddenly very sick to stomach • ate nothing unusual today • end results not so good but felt better later • walked to Chao Shi Fa for snacks and sundries • got 20 McNuggets at McDonald's for 25 CN 元 and fries and a Coke® for dinner • walked home • felt tired but ok • unpacked all the groceries • did the dishes • distributed little bags of three kiwis each to each of my neighbors – not sure what else to two with the two dozen kiwis from New Zealand which I received as a gift from BNDS this week along with the six elegant moon cakes for the upcoming Lunar Festival • worked on my journal entries

Saturday, September 22, 2012

22 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date Saturday, 22 September 2012

woke up early to the sounds of construction cranes working at a break-neck pace • it's not a horrible loud noise, more of a slight nuisance • glad I don't have to go to the ministry for foreign experts today like last Saturday • found out yesterday that we will be having a regular day of school next Saturday as a make-up day for a holiday at some point in the year • so, again, glad I am sick today and maybe not next Saturday • feeling really quite horrible this morning • read two editorials in the paper and got inspired to write in my journal • am sitting here now realizing I need to go back and lie down as I am getting light headed • Skyped with my family • watched "Big Brother" finalé – my favorite, Ian the science nerd won! • did two loads of laundry •  took a nap • watched a few more episodes of "Haven" on DVD • Skyped with my sister • fell asleep

Friday, September 21, 2012

21 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date Friday, 21 September 2012

quick early walk to school • arrived at 7:15 • wrote quiz for 10th grade biology • gave first tests to honors AP bio students • gave first test to bio 11/12 students • grabbed quick lunch from school wu-mart • ran into Sarah (Humanities Chair) and then ate lunch with her in her flat while relieving her Nanny for a lunch break • rushed over to teach AP Chem • met with wonderful national students who are just a complete joy to teach – a lot like my advanced chemistry students at YCDS last year only fewer of them • hurried back over to teach my 10th grade bio C class • graded quizzes • started to realize I was not feeling well • a terrible nagging cold has been going around through the faculty for three weeks, and it looks like I have it now • I went home around 6:30 feeling just awful with headache, fever, coughing, sneezing, and runny nose • the good news is I have the weekend to recuperate • the bad news it I won't get to enjoy the weekend quite as much

Thursday, September 20, 2012

20 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date Thursday, 20 September 2012

got to school • worried about sufficient time to get tests for Friday written • taught all of my classes • ate lunch in the office • spent after school time chatting with dept. head and getting tips on learning more Mandarin and working on some joint projects with math and bio this year • planned to go to dinner with Niall, XJ, and Robbie and were joined by James (Dept. Head of Oral English Program), Liz Korkos (BNDS's own female version of "Glee's" Will Schuster), and Liz (Oral English) • had awesome time at the Jiao Zi restaurant • have to mention that Niall waited all through the meal patiently for his favorite fried dumplings, relied too heavily on his hand-eye coordination in failed attempt to ensnare two with his chop sticks and lost them both to the table • after just telling me about their Oral English Program initiation task which involved them eating skewered grilled, baby, black scorpions, he would not eat these off the table • I told him we need to start bringing our own table clothes to these restaurants as we are too messy and too unskilled with the chopsticks to continue to lose great food to the table (of course I did eat off the table once at a different outdoor, but nearby restaurant, and I am still alive) • 大 Jarrod and I returned to our next door offices to work, and I ended up staying past 11:00 o'clock to get my tests finished and copied • then I went home to sleep

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

19 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date Wednesday, 19 September 2012

got to school • planned to spend most of day writing tests • instead wrote college recommendations that are due soon • taught the AP Chem national kids • department meeting • took minutes • learned how to ask for an official receipt as required by the school for reimbursement which must be stamped and have silver coating • went to "Beginners +" Mandarin class • went to dinner with 大 Jarrod as the two of use were working late and getting hungry • went home but was too tired to work on anything and went to sleep early

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

18 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date Tuesday, 18 September 2012

school on time • taught classes • waited for XJ, Niall, Steph, and Robbie for Lunch they were all no shows – must have been miscommunication as I still have no phone and it is starting to really impact me • returned to HQ to teach one class and then finish PPT for AP Chem • taught AP Chem • returned to HQ to find beautiful box of very expensive moon cakes and a huge box of very expensive imported kiwis from New Zealand – just a way to thank the teachers for being us again! and celebrate the upcoming Autumn festival and 60th anniversary of our school • went home and changed • first solo venture on subway to a new unexplored place called Joy City one of the biggest malls in Beijing in the Xidan shopping district which looks like a mini Times Square • has real Apple Store • mall is 12 levels • top few floors have just restaurants and places to socialize with your date (they actually call them date floors) • movie theater on top with 13 screens but seems to be playing only five movies (Prometheus, Spider-man, Dark Knight Rises, Expendables 2, and White Plain Deer) • Mr. Pizza • KFC • phone scouting • right now iPhone 4s is 4488 RMB everywhere and will probably stay as such until 5 actually ships • will wait to buy when we get paid on 30 September • really need a phone badly • scouted all over the mall • they even have a Gap • Burger King • Starbucks • Daytime Donuts for Phil • entire floor dedicated to every kind of cell phone, like an auto mall for cell phones, with show spaces for every company on earth • cannot wait to bring back pictures and put them up with this post but, again, need phone for that! coming soon • subway back • got on opposite direction train, looked up, realized mistake and hopped off before door closed • waited for next one going opposite way • monitor says it will arrive in 3 minutes

hopped on and rode 8 stops back to my stop Yuquan Lu • walked to Chaoshi Fa to see if it was open • it was • shopped for TP, deodorizers, snacks, food, peanut butter, etc. • walked home • unpacked everything • installed all the deodorizers • got to sleep around midnight • construction continues day and night • woke up in the middle of the night

Strangely Vivid Dream
Had incredibly vivid dream including full slate of cast from my LSC forensics coaching days. I was coaching an all-star team of speakers who must now travel to Beijing to represent the USA. Maybe I shouldn't have eaten dinner at KFC twice in one week? • couldn't sleep • emailed with Dan, our admin contact in the states, about bringing Pony Beads and Pipe cleaners to build molecules and wondered why we cannot buy things made in China in China somewhere • got stuff ready to write college recs for two students from last year including one from China who was an exchange student that stayed on for a second year • went back to sleep

Monday, September 17, 2012

17 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date Monday, 17 September 2012

almost late to school • teaching 4 classes in a row • then had personal time • had lunch with Phil and Jeff • went to cafe Serendipity with Phil for hot chocolate and coffee • picked up ironing • shopped at school Wu-Mart for snacks • prepared for our first Mandarin (beginners level) class after school • found out that optional classes won't start until second week of Oct and decided I was somewhat relieved • went to Mandarin class taught by Tenny – class was all intro Pin Yin • got home and was super tired • fell asleep during PPT (what PowerPoint presentations are called in China) design on history of atomic theory for AP Chemistry class • spent some time thinking about my awesome Advanced Chem students from last year and missing them and wondering how they are doing in college and wanting to talk to them •  finally realizing I was deliriously tired and went to sleep at 8:45 pm

Sunday, September 16, 2012

16 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date Sunday, 16 September 2012

Sleeping In Sunday?
Ok, this is going to sound like a complaint. But, here's the thing. In a few months, maybe longer, I will live next door practically to a new hotel and shopping mall. I have no idea how really big this thing is going to be. They have put up two cranes to finish building the part that will be above a massive 60-ft. deep hole. There is supposed to be a grocery store and all kinds of shops. As a person who loves malls, I would be the last person to complain. All, I am going to say is that cranes are expensive and cost by the hour, so they are running the cranes day and night with giant lights to illuminate the work site. One of the cranes is so close to my building, I swear it will smack into us if the operators misjudges, but the perspective I have being so close is obviously askew. Also, all I will say, is that a construction site can hardly be expected to be quiet. So, if you need to sleep in, or even peacefully, that might be a big expectation without ear plugs that might prevent you from hearing your cell phone count down timer. Meanwhile, the illumination outside for nighttime construction might also confuse your sleep cycle into thinking it is morning and you are late to school, when really it is just 2 am! But, again, I am not complaining. Eventually, we will have a shiny new mall on the edge of our block. We are all hoping it has a coffee place. Me not so much, but for the others in my group, yes!

Skype TV
Well, I don't know if Microsoft, which bought Skype a couple of years ago nor the Television networks in USA would like to know this, but until they catch on, I plan to continue watching a tv show each week with my family in central Illinois. First, it is fun, and second, it is free, and third, my brother fast forwards through the commercials for me. So, I got up this morning to watch "Big Brother" and see who got voted out of the house as our favorite summer show winds down. I also then got to talk with my mom for a while as the rest of the family left for breakfast at Steak 'n Shake.

• graded quizzes • did laundry • cleaned house • day-dreamed about pay-day and going to IKEA for lights and a mattress • organized things • got ready to meet up with 大 Jarrod

Going to the Movies in Beijing
So, for my first time ever going to the movies in Beijing, I went to see "The Dark Night Rises" with 大 Jarrod. It was his first time seeing the film and my third. The first time for me was the weekend after the Colorado incident, and I happened to be in Colorado at the time. The second time was in Central Illinois with my brother. Well, I can tell you that the experience in Beijing was very, very different than either of those two times for a lot of very interesting reasons.

So, 大 Jarrod and I took the bus up to Wanda (not pronounced like the name of the woman in the fish movie, but rather like Wa-ahn Dah) Plaza. This plaza is named after and may be owned by the Wanda corporation which, you may or may not know, recently successfully purchased the AMC Movie Theater chain of North America making it the world's largest movie theatre chain. It also means a majority of movie goers in America who are not at Regal / United Artists theaters or a tiny local chain are probably in a Chinese movie theater. It will be interesting to see what impact this eventually has on both sides of the Pacific. When we arrived at the plaza, we took the escalators to the third floor of the mall and then entered the gigantic cinema.

The smell of freshly popped kettle corn permeated the entire space – that's correct, kettle corn. Much like in the UK, the popcorn in movie theaters here is all kettle corn. We waited in a tightly controlled queue system for our chance to pick the film, time, language, subtitles, seats, and food. It's one stop shopping, and yes assigned seats! After receiving our very official looking tickets, and food voucher, we realized we had time to go to KFC for dinner but not enough time for a more authentic Chinese restaurant. So, KFC it was. KFC is all the rage in my diet right now, so I was thrilled.

Then we returned to the theatre to get our food and drinks from the concession stand. Oh, a note about pricing. In China, things are reversed at the theatre when compared to the USA experience: tickets are outrageously highly priced (80 CN 元 or $12.73) and food is dirt cheap (two drink and popcorn combo for 39 CN 元 or $6.21).

We went into the enormous theater just as the film was about to begin. I don't know if we missed coming attractions or not. Our pre-selected seats were filled with people, so we sat next to them. They promptly jumped up and moved across the aisle looking rather embarrassed. So, we moved over into our pre-assigned seats. The sound system and projection system were top of the line, and the movie literally roared off the screen. I was super excited because I hadn't been to the movies in a very long time. After the movie, which is a long one, 大 Jarrod and I talked about it, and I recommended he see it a couple more times to really get every hidden gem planted by Christopher Nolan who has to be one of my favorite directors ever since M. Night Shymalan has been unable to make another really, really great movie.

Bus to Nowhere Fast
We walked over to the bus stop area to catch a bus, and 大 Jarrod selected one off his list on his iPhone notes. We got on and after a block of heading east, the bus unexpectedly turned south. After what seemed like eight or nine blocks, I began to lose faith, not in 大 Jarrod, but in this bus driver. I felt like we were going further and further away from our destination and without a gigantic loop back, it would never take us to our destination. After a while, we got off and walked back to another bust stop and took a bus back to Wanda Plaza. There we waited for my regular 308 bus and just as it was arriving, we decided instead to hop in a cab and rode the few blocks home. Fortunately, cabs in Beijing are cheap, cheap, cheap. Sorry, if I sound a bit like Eloise. We don't really know how to tell the cab to go to my apartment complex, but 大 Jarrod does know how to say, "go straight", "stop", "turn here", etc. So, I was back home in about 5 minutes. When I got home, for some reason I was really, really hungry for Jiao Zi. I checked some emails, wrote some of my journal, and hit the hay or futon in this case.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

15 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date 15 September 2012

up at 7 • at school by 8 • one person was very, very late causing our colleague and foreign teacher expert, David, as well as us, for we were worried about her health and safety, a great deal of consternation • she finally arrived nearly 15 minutes late, and we traveled 45 minutes by shuttle van to the Beijing Ministry for Foreign Experts and Students • once there, we completed the final stages necessary to obtain our residency visa (the equivalent to a green card / work visa in the USA) • to be fair, David had completed many, many hours of paperwork prior to our arrival at the ministry; and, for that, we owed him a tremendous debt of gratitude • once our processing was completed, we had the opportunity to return to school or stay in the area and make our own way home via cab, train, or bus • Derick and I were eager to return to the Silk Market to try on our tailored shirts, while Lena and Kevin were anxious for coffee • we split up • Derrick and I arrived at the Silk Market approximately 20 minutes later after taking two subway lines • we found our tailor shop but realized we had left our claim tickets at home • the manager was kind enough to allow us to thumb through her ledger book until we found our names and orders handwritten into the book • they tailors then located our shirts and we tried them on • they turned out amazingly well, and I immediately decided I was going to return in the near future to order more shirts and a couple of pairs of black slacks • we paid off our balances due and headed to the China World Mall for Fat Burger lunch • Derick stayed in the restaurant and read his book while I shopped in the import grocery story for cereal from Belgium, Italy, and 中國 / Zhōngguó • took the subway home • worked on my journal the rest of the day trying my best to back fill stories and days and remaining hopeful that pix will be coming soon

Friday, September 14, 2012

14 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date 14 September 2012

taught classes and gave weekly quizzes • lunch on the run • dropped off clothes for ironing • taught national chem class • zipped home to change • Bowliong (bowling) with the International Department A-Levels vs. APs – it was a lot of fun • I really cannot bowl when people watch • when I convinced my team to turn away, I bowled two strikes and a spare • while watching I bowled about 20 pins and 4 gutters • had dinner with Todd at KFC in the middle of the bowling tournament • went back for results • afterward most people when home and a few decided to enjoy additional Beijing nightlife • I went home because I had an early morning already planned for me

Thursday, September 13, 2012

13 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date 13 September 2012

wonderful day of school and classes • everything, however was building up to the evening's large-scale event

New Teacher Banquet and Party
As is tradition at BNDS, each fall all of the new teachers are officially welcomed and inducted into the faculty at a big gala event worthy of Hollywood royalty. We were instructed in advance to be prepared to be dressed up for the occasion, but we really had no idea until we arrived via the elevator to the 6th floor banquet hall. It was all decorated like a Hollywood event party with balloon arches and official name tags and table upon table of decorated dishes for quenching any appetite. The only thing missing was a dragon ice sculpture and the swag bags containing $25,000 in gifts such as a new iPhone. The only way you could have been overdressed for this would been to be dressed up as a Royal. Tuxedos would certainly have been fine, though most of the men were in coat and ties. As the event began, the new teachers and staff members were divided into three groups and then each member of the first group was introduced. The administrations had met with the students of each teacher and asked for words to describe their new teachers. Hearing these kind things read out about you at such an early point in the year was really quite amazing. As your name was called, new teachers would walk up on stage and sign their name on one of two wall-sized welcome banners with a big magic marker, therefore symbolically inserting oneself in to the fabric of the school. At the end of each group, there was time to eat, play games, and talk with colleagues. Then there were several time of spot entertainment such as a beautiful song sung in Chinese or a flirtatious routine where teachers had to sing in English and Chinese to each other. It was all pretty amazing and, again, overwhelming, especially since this was our second banquet of the week.

stayed at the party quite late • eventually got stuff together and went home

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

12 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date 12 September 2012

arose late • no time to make lunch • spent most of the morning prepping syllabi for next week and getting quizzes ready • had lunch with Todd in student cafeteria enjoying his favorite meal of a rice bowl topped with strips of boiled beef • left school for home at the usual time but this time knowing that a water delivery was in the making • I awaited the illumination of my flat's what I call the squawk box – it lights up with video and sound a person below tries to get you to buzz them in • as I was watching it, all of the sudden it came to life with its black and white, Big Brother-style image of a person shouting something in Chinese • I assume it is the water delivery • moments later there is a knock at the door • I open it and the water guy rushes in, swaps out my old empty with a new bottle and then hands me a bill for 139 CN 元 • I hand over the money and he hands over a stapled set of coupons each freshly stamped

he then points to the book and indicates that I am supposed to give him one of the coupons for this first delivery • at first I am confused and then I realize that I am paying for ten bottles of water and there are ten coupons so he needs one back rather than him giving me 9 coupons and a bottle of water • clearly this has to do with the very precise inventorying and accounting conducted by the Chinese people for virtually every certified transaction • as soon as he was gone I filled glass after glass of water and drank nearly half the bottle

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

11 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date 11 September 2012

starting to get into a bit of a welcome routine • arose early • prepared • made sack lunch • walked to school • thought a lot about 9/11 and realized it was something I had not thought about at all this year and while being in 中國 / Zhōngguó – it was kind of a surreal feeling being here, and I wondered what the Chinese people thought about that entire event • brought in jiao coins to use for an adhesion / cohesion activity with my classes

was greeted in my office by a student in my AP Chemistry class from the national program who gave me instructions on where to go that afternoon to teach the class • ate lunch in my office and prepared for my national class

Teaching AP Chemistry in the National Program
Well, I am teaching five classes in the International Department at a load of 4 periods per week with one period each being taught by my Chinese colleague, Brian. Therefore, technically, I am underloaded as per my contract. The solution is to find me another course to teach. Fortunately, there is a group of 12th graders in the national program seeking to take an AP Chemistry course. They asked their principal if he could get them a teacher, and so, I was asked to teach the class. I had no idea what to expect. When I arrived, I met Jack, Zoe, Phoebe, and Michael. We talked about their goals and dreams. Each wants to major in chemistry in college.

The Science Building for the BNDS National Program

They already have taken two years of chemistry in Chinese, and they mainly need help in learning chemistry terms in English. They are incredibly motivated, and their English is excellent. Many of their peers have done a year abroad in America or Canada. They are truly wonderful and warm students who welcomed me to their classroom. They arranged everything. I tried to envision this ever happening in the USA. It was kind of an interesting thought experiment. It was like kids setting up an independent study AP Chem class. I concluded it had probably happened in American a time or two. The next class we dove right into an activity designed to get them thinking about the source of measurement and the meaning of math in chemistry. They were very pleased with the lesson. I found them to be as engaging and delightful as the students in the International Department. It seems like it will be a great year!

decided that since Brian teaches my most of my classes on Wednesday giving me a lighter work-load, I might as well enjoy Tuesday evenings a bit more • took the 308 up to Wanda Plaza • ate dinner at the McDonald's • shopped for cereal at the Carrefour • bought a lot of cereal! and a bottle of water • took the bus home • worked on my journal • went to sleep

Monday, September 10, 2012

10 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date 10 September 2012

10 September 2012 is National Teacher Appreciation Day in 中國 / Zhōngguó
arrived at school to many decorations and cards • found a wonderful laminated celebration card on my desk which on one side lists all of the kinds of teachers and on the other thanks all teachers for their service to the profession and the education of the children • also on my desk I received three very special moon cakes (one of the most rare and special of the Chinese pastry-style delicacies: one cherry, one blackberry, and one with sweet nuts) • kid after kid arrived with carnations and gifts across the spectrum including such things as special chop sticks to porcelain wireless mice for your lap top • also many cards were dropped off on desks • it was pretty amazing • in class, the students all stood and thank the teachers – many gave hugs and high fives all with most sincere gratitude • this day is very overwhelming for teachers as it is the entire country's way of thanking the people who have committed their lives to educating children which, due to the wonderful life of the great teacher of 中國 / Zhōngguó, Confucius, are respected as much or more than physicians, attorneys, and rich business men • it is an incredible feeling and outpouring of adoration from a nation to those who empower their children who, in turn, grow up to empower their nation – I hope it will be well received by my readers in the USA, but this is just one of the many areas from which we can learn from the Chinese.

went to lunch with 大 Jarrod • went to the Serendipity Café with Derrick and Phil for our free teachers day hot beverage • picked up my ironed shirts during my personal time

Serendipity Café
Three years ago, an entrepreneurial young student got the idea to start up a full-fledged coffee house on campus. After much searching and much expenditure of favors, no doubt, she founded what was called Café La Ren – sort of a pun of a name as Ren means people in Chinese. She organized her classmates and got a wonderful space on campus. I was invited by two 11th grade students in my Honors AP Biology class to come for a free drink in honor of teachers day at the pre-opening of what was now to be called the Serendipity Café La Ren since my students were so enchanted by the new word I had taught them in class, "serendipity" when I was teaching them about how most of the world's greatest scientific discoveries have been made. Derick and Phil were also invited, so we went over together. There are so many amazing things to describe about this café, I barely know where to begin. First, it is located in the underground world of the campus of BNDS which, until this day, I had not known existed. It is sort of like being a muggle and stumbling across "Diagon Alley" in the Harry Potter world. The entrances are all over campus and are made of glass. So, for this reason, they are sort of invisible to the untrained eye. Heading down the stone stairs into the bowels of the campus gave me a bit of nervous apprehension. Yet at the bottom of the stairs a whole enchanted world opened up. There was a room that closely resembled the Harvard club in NYC. This, we were told by our guide, Loise, was the VIP room reserved for teachers and honored guests. There were wonderful chairs, sofas, coffee tables, dining tables, and board games. All it lacked was a fireplace with crackling logs. Our barista, Shirley, took our orders while Loise instructed us to make informational posters to help advertise the café along with our own testimonials. The café has its own professional espresso machine and equipment that would make the average Starbucks® envious. Moments later, we were treated to exceptional hot beverages. I ordered, of course, hot chocolate. It was divine. The other two had high end coffees like machiatto and some such things. We then traveled out to see where the non-VIPs would sit and found they had their own antechamber connected to the huge underground bookstore I never even knew existed. So, now a bit more about the café. So, the proceeds from the Café all go to the student scholarship fund. It is entirely run by students who are learning in a practical sense everything you need to know to run a business in China. There is no faculty advisor or sponsor. Therefore, the results and successes are entirely their own. I was pretty impressed by their operation.

National Teacher Appreciation Day – The Banquet
After school, the entire faculty of BNDS International Department migrated by bus, bike, or taxi to a wonderful restaurant located to the west of school towards the mountains. There, in the spectacular banquet hall located on the second floor, we were organized into tables mixing up people from different programs and disciplines. Our Deputy Principal, Mrs. Betty Wu, made a speech thanking us all for dedicating our lives to teaching and the education of the children. She toasted to us and then she spent the rest of the evening circulating from table to table making sure each teacher was thanked personally by her. It was a rare and meaningful experience of gratitude from a school leader who really made us feel valued. The dinner was an impressive many course meal with dish after exquisite dish being placed on the rotating platform in the center of each table. Each item had been chosen for the occasion many to signify the diversity of those in attendance with regional dishes from all over the country as well as some cross-cultural forays. My favorite of the latter of these was a dish decorated with Pringles® potato crisps. At the end, we all felt warm, welcome, appreciated, and satisfied before we returned home to prepare for our next day of classes.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

9 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date 9 September 2012

woke up early and Skyped with family • went over to school and graded quizzes I had left at home and prepped classes for next week • went to Korean BBQ restaurant for first time for dinner with Da Jarrod had a really fun time • went home and wrote and got ready for next week • oh, and I am completely out of drinkable water, just so you know

What is Korean BBQ You Ask?
Well, we don't have any restaurants like this in the USA. It may be because they are incredibly dangerous. They don't worry about being constantly sued in 中國 / Zhōngguó, so this is just fine here. The way it works is that you go to a station and mix up your own sauces and seasonings. Then, you order meats and vegetables off the menu. Much like a fondue restaurant, the stuff arrives cut up on plates. But, instead of cooking in a relatively safe pot of hot oil, you cook on an open grill set into the middle of your table. It is 'powered' heat-wise, by a large flaming hot ceramic brick the staff loads into you grill and then covers with a metal grill. Then you start the cooking. Dip your meat and throw it on the grill. Add veggies. Make a shish-ka-bob if you want. It is very creative. You take turns cooking and eating. The chicken and beef were delicious. It took way to long to cook the veggie slices of carrots and potatoes. It was a lot of fun and very delicious. The sauce I mixed up was quite tasty. If only I can reproduce it next time. Much like American fondue, it seems like you do all the work, but the place costs a lot more than other restaurants. Interesting.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

8 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date 8 September 2012

slept in a bit • despite still feeling sad, went with friends on planned trip to China World Mall • ate at Fat Burger® • went to Starbucks® • checked in with Foursquare™ and got some much needed points • met Chinese artist teachers who took me and Santosh across the street to see their studio and sell us art • they painted our names in calligraphic ancient Chinese script, and we made a small donation to their scholarship fund •  went to new silk market • bought the SyFy Channel's adaptation of Stephen King's "The Colorado Kid" turned into the series, "Haven" Seasons 1 and 2 and got a free movie • picked "Journey to the Center of the Earth 2: The Lost World" because I enjoyed it in the theaters but only saw it once • was measured for and then ordered 3 tailored shirts for 200 CN 元 ($31.85) each with my own choice of fabric • went back to Qin Shan Shui via subway and watched movie at home • Skyped with my brother • fell asleep

Friday, September 7, 2012

7 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date 7 September 2012

normal school day • gave first set of quizzes •  BNDS gave us our choice of beautiful house plants to take home to our flats or to keep in our cubicles • as well as three special moon cakes in anticipation of National Teacher Appreciation Day next Monday

Sad News from the USA
Originally, I had plans to go to the movies after school, but those plans evaporated unfortunately because I waited too long to solidify them and have no way of communicating with my colleagues to make alternate plans happen, therefore I went home, which is unfortunate because then I fired up the www and accessed my Facebook® account only to find out that one of my former students had died a few days earlier. This made me instantly depressed. It is a long and complicated story best reserved for those who know more details than I wish to share or dwell upon. Suffice it to say that it was devastating news, the kind one prefers never to receive. Of course, finding out via Facebook® makes one want to instantly delete the account. Who cares, in this case, if one shoots the messenger? On the other hand, apparently, I might never have found out any other way. So better this way. Better to know then to not know, and yet knowing is so painful and sad. There is only one way forward, and that is to stop and contemplate all of the good in his life and not to dwell on the events in between. Which I did, and I tried to sleep and to keep the good memories alive.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

6 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date 6 September 2012

very exciting days ahead • got to school filled with excitement despite dehydration • taught classes, reviewed for quizzes, made up inspirational quotation of the year, and prepared for Friday • ate lunch in cubicle

Inspirational Quotation of the Year
Well those of you who were my students know that I like to put an inspirational quotation at the top of every quiz and on the cover page of tests. I usually agonize over these to ensure they convey just the right meaning, perhaps unbeknownst to anyone but me. Today, however, one of my great 10C sophomores asked me a really great question.

Great Questions Inspire Great Questions!"
--Martin S. C. Thompson as inspired by He Katherine

One that, in the old, old days of my teaching career, would have been worthy of a Scooter Pie – which, incidentally, here are called Orion Cakes.

The question inspired me to, as I do on occasion, make up my own quotation, "Great questions inspire great questions." So, I then planned to use the quotation for the next batch of quizzes. Those of you who know we too well, also are aware that I disdain it when the word 'quote' is used in place of 'quotation' – one is a verb and one is a noun.

prepared quizzes for Friday • went to Restaurant Row for dinner with Xiao Jared and Niall – awesome fun and first time I really got to talk to them in a while • home for the evening

Restaurant Row
What is restaurant row? Well, it is what we call the series of restaurants on our main E/W street that has a whole series of restaurants of varying degree of price and quality of food. One of the most unusual things you will see on this row is people preparing food for customers on an outdoor prep station and finishing the cooking of the meat with a hair dryer. I am not making that up.

Given my brother's knowledge of health code laws in the USA, when he visits, I think I will probably steer clear of taking him to most of these establishments. Also, what ever you do, don't drop your food on the table and then think you are going to scoop it up with your chop sticks. 20 sticks of fury will fly out knocking if and a chorus of reminders not to eat off the table.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

5 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date 5 September 2012

arrived early • taught a Bio • got school lap top set up for ethernet internet service • taught classes • found out that mystery notice taped to door is a water bill that will be paid when bill collector comes to school to get money from all teachers – mine was 48 CN 元 ($7.64) which seems high and probably includes charges left over from the previous renter • was advised just to pay it rather than wasting the time it would take to get it fixed which would probably not be worth the difference • brought sandwich for lunch – much happier • shopped at campus store for bread and snacks • taught classes • met with biology colleagues and Chinese teacher counterpart, a wonderful man named Brian who was educated at Boston University, regarding plans to best team teach our courses • taught classes • had first after-school faculty meeting of year • as I may have mentioned, school days last until 5:10 pm, so the meeting was over promptly

BNDS Santa Claus Strikes Again
So, I returned to my cubicle this after noon only to find another present! This time we each received a gift of two large porcelain tea cups specially commissioned by BNDS to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of our school. As I was admiring the artistry and the cool logo, while also imagining how wonderful it will be this winter to fill them with hot chocolate, my eyes practically bugged out of my head. These weren't just any old fancy tea cups with lids for steeping, they were also imprinted with our names! Wow! How cool!. Such a wonderful keepsake to remember this celebratory year and how I was a part of it. I am so lucky.

walked home • ate sandwich for dinner • worked on class preparation and journal • did laundry • noticed that I am nearly out of drinking water

Drinking Water Tank & the Beijing Water Supply
So, right now, I am perilously close to being out of drinking water. Ironically, the last time I was in Beijing, all of the guide books said it was safe to drink the municipal tap water in Beijing and not to waste money on bottled water any more than would in the USA. This time, however, everyone says not to drink the tap water without boiling unless you want a sick day. If I wanted a sick day, I would try it because I am not a big fan of bottled water. I am especially not a fan of bottled water that is rationed to me. So, the way I have to get water is...Well, first you have to have 137 CN 元 ($21.82) up front. This buys you 10 water coupons. Then you call up the water company and via your cell number in their computer they know where to deliver it. When they deliver your water, they take the empty and a ticket. As I have no phone, I am not in the computer, and I cannot call and order water anyway. I also don't have 137 CN 元 to spare right now. So, my plan is to have a friend who already has gotten water and has the tickets, to call and order a bottle.

Then I would pay her for one bottle and get by until I can afford 10 tickets and a phone. Unfortunately, as is often the case in these situations, when she called to order the water, she was asked why she needed one so soon after just getting the new one. She was probably drinking her water too fast or using to to wash dishes or something. No, she then admitted it was for a friend. She explained I was going to buy the water from her and carry the jug over to my house from hers. Well, no, no, that wouldn't do, they jugs are way too heavy for teachers to carry. They probably weigh 25 pounds. I couldn't possibly manage it, she was told. So, instead, I was told to be home by 7 on Wednesday and that the water would be delivered. Since this was to be my delivery, I would need the whole 137 CN 元 up front in cash. This was not exactly how I had hoped things would work out. It also demonstrates how attentive the Chinese business persons are. They knew my friend had just bought water. They probably doubted the water was for her, and they really wanted another person to hand over 137 CN 元. Ingenious!

went to sleep – thirsty!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

4 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date 4 September 2012

taught classes • was asked to sign certificate book by several more students • had lunch with 大 Jarrod • taught all classes • after a day of intro and course policies, I am now actually teaching!!!

Unexpected Gifts
Of course, last year, I kept hearing about a nearly unending supply of gifts being showered upon the BNDS faculty. Well, this morning, I arrived back from class to find a huge bag of office supplies in my chair. The bag contained: file boxes, notebook, highlighters, tape. binder clips [light blue, pink, pale yellow, sea foam green), glue stick, liquid glue, smiley-face magnets, mini pencil sharpener, red and black Uniball® fine points and red refill, paper clips, post-it notes, soft eraser, staples, and a pencil. It was really quite amazing. I am not used to such fantastic treatment. It was like a birthday present for the person setting up their new office. It was just so much fun!

Lap Tops for Teachers
All last week there was a rumor that we were going to receive brand new lap tops from the school to use. Well, today, the rumor became a reality as they distributed a brand new Lenovo lab top to each teacher! Given that I have been iPad (exclusive) for a few years, I barely knew what to do with it, but it will be great to have it and use it at work since I can plug into the ethernet more reliably than running my iPad over the wireless network.

met with and coordinated with my Chinese counterpart, Brian who will teach four of my classes on Wednesday and one on Thursday in anticipation of the students preparing for their Friday quizzes • I found out that I and others would be teaching in the National program, I AP Chem • on the way home, I ran into compatriots at little sidewalk cafe across from Qin Shan Shui • stopped and shared a sweet iced tea with them • went home and found notice taped to door – no idea what it says or means • played Draw Something via VPN • worked on journal • prepped for classes • went to sleep

Monday, September 3, 2012

3 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date 3 September 2012

The First Real Day of School
I woke up in kind of a daze, for I knew that this was the first day of school. The first real day of work. The day that for some teachers in some schools with some students, either makes or breaks you. The First Real Day of School. I ate cereal with milk, showered, fixed my hair – with a blend of two kinds of hair product, and got dressed. I loaded up my back-pack and rolled over to school wanting to be there very early. I unpacked all of my remaining stuff for my cubicle. Then I copied all of my first-day of class documents. My first class was at 8:00 am Beijing time – which means when most of my friends back in the USA were getting ready for dinner or bed on Sunday night, I was starting the first real day of my new adventure. It seemed like I was totally unprepared, but after being in the classroom for all of thirty seconds or less, I was ready to go.

The students could not have been nicer or more well-mannered if they had come from, pardon the Harry Potter reference, Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. I asked them to fill out a seating chart and then provided them with an introductory form to help them learn more about myself and my history. The students were charming and delightful. I asked them to include their English name and Chinese name in both Pinyin and Characters so I could get a better idea of who they were. After each class, several students approached me to ask if I would sign their certificate books, which I did. It was a little like being a celebrity. Also, almost every single student thanked me on his or her way out of class for a wonderful experience and for coming from the USA to be their teacher of biology. It was very cool and certainly unlike anything I had ever experienced. I had four classes in a row before entering what is known as my personal time.

Personal Time During the Day
So, arranged into the schedule of each teacher's week are four periods of so-called personal time. You see, when we are at school, our work day technically begins at 7:45 am and ends at 5:10 pm. When we have periods in our schedule that are unassigned, we are to be available in our office (as in office hours). Therefore, we are given 4 periods a week during the day to accomplish errands and and other tasks off campus if we so choose to go off campus. They are all assigned by the principal. Mine are not at the most ideal times. There are several people who have the last four periods of the day on Friday, for example, or the first four on Wednesday allows them to go home early or come in late. I have three periods next to lunch on Monday, and one next to lunch on Tuesday. I can use mine to go to the dry cleaners – which is close by.

Lunch in the Teachers' Canteen
Well, all I can say is that I was very confused about what food was what. Room temperature was around 37°C. The rice was abundant, so I mostly ate rice and drank water. The Teachers' Canteen, initially, does not seem like a viable option for me in the long term, when it comes to eating lunch daily.

returned to school and taught one more class • after school, walked to the Chao Shi Fa for food for the week • found microwave popcorn and maybe it is not Kettle Corn (darn, it was despite being called "Natural Butter Taste" • withdrew money from the bank and am nearing the end of my RMB supply • Skyped with my family until early in the morning my time • went to sleep

Sunday, September 2, 2012

2 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date 2 September 2012

arose early to work on my journal and prepare for classes • at around 10 o'clock, Skyped with my family & watched two episodes of "Big Brother" with them • finally got to talk with my mom with whom I've had no contact since I called her from SFO • also got to see the results of my niece's latest science experiments from school involving magic water beads • after that, and everyone but me and my sister-in-law falling asleep during the show, got to work again on opening day documents for my classes even though I do not believe I will be able to print and photocopy them by class time tomorrow as there will be insufficient time in the morning • worked on starting to get my journal entries published on line to a blog • the blog posts for the first two days were eventually published, but there is obviously a lot more to go! • answered a few emails from students asking about the summer homework assignment – yes, we were required to give them a huge summer homework assignment to complete by the first day of class • assembled the garment steamer given to me by BNDS for my apartment • gathered all of the stuff I wanted to take to my office and put it in a rolling suitcase so it would be ready for tomorrow • listened to music on my iPad for a while while I worked on class documents and my journal some more • had a piece of cake and a peanut butter and honey sandwich • am hoping that we will get our cafeteria service smart cards tomorrow, and we will get to eat lunch at school • got ready for bed realizing that I needed to be fresh and well-rested for the first day of school! • Only my niece probably knows what I am going to dream about tonight!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

1 September 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date 1 September 2012

Awoke and got dressed in fancy clothes in honor of the Beijing National Day School's Opening Ceremony – this annual tradition marks the coming together of the school's more than 4,000 students and over 500 faculty and staff members to commence another school year • This year was all the more special because BNDS is celebrating its 60th anniversary since it was nationalized by the new government and named the Beijing October 1st School to recognize the day of the Chinese revolution

What's in a Name and Logo of the Beijing National Day School
The school used be called the Beijing October 1st School, but the name was changed three years ago after much consideration, to the Beijing National Day School as too many people outside of the country were confused by the school's name, and the school aspired for greater international acclaim and recognition. The school's name in Chinese characters had included the Chinese characters for 10 and 1 which also resemble a + and - sign which is why the logo seems to the untrained eye to look like a + and - sign set in an infinity loop made of a circle and a square. The symbolism of this logo, however is actually meant to bring the + and the - together as they represent the ebb and flow of forces in the universe the yin yang if you will. The circle and square also have symbolic meaning as joined in the infinity loop as they represent the window to the mind and the endless pursuit of knowledge.

The Beijing National Day School 2012-13 Opening Ceremony
I was told the ceremony would be like a miniature version of the opening ceremony for the Olympics, and the rumors were only slightly exaggerated. The ceremony began with all of the students lined up by grade and program on the field of the soccer and track stadium. Teachers were positioned just behind each row of their students. The stadium seating, which was all decked out, was packed with parents and dignitaries alike. Six, red Chinese lantern balloons (one of each decade) were floating high above the stadium with banners rolled up below. A welcome greeting and speech was made and flashed upon the school's two-story jumbotron mounted to the side of one of the six story dormitory buildings.  The 中國 / Zhōngguó anthem was played and the 中國 / Zhōngguó flag was raised on the middle of three flag poles located at the south end of the stadium on an elevated dais made of white marble. Loads of dignitaries were introduced including two Chinese 2012 Olympic Gold medalists. A lottery was conducted with numbers flashing on the jumbotron and winners revealed. Then, all of the sudden, the banners beneath each Chinese lantern were unfurled unleashing thousands of air balloons and treats on the crowd of students and teachers below. The messages on the banners were the six basic principles of the school. After much fanfare, but no fireworks, the ceremony concluded and the students were released to their respective buildings for introductory meetings.

students and faculty of the International Department gathered on the 6th floor of the BNDS International Department HQ building in the banquet room for introductions of the faculty • it was a very straightforward affair • the students each possessed a small certificate book rather like a passport with pages for notes and signatures to collect in remembrance of the occasion • I had a lengthily meeting with a colleague regarding our curricular objectives for our various levels of biology being offered this year • I returned home to change into comfy clothes before venturing out into the rain storm to acquire dessert for the evening's pot-luck being held at Kevin's (Physics and Calculus) flat

Is there a Bakery in Beijing?
Well, yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and it is called Wedomé. It is a euro-style bakery less than a block away from Qin Shan Shui. I had previously investigated it and found it to be full of delicious treats, cakes, cookies, and pastries. There are some items that are as unlike anything I've ever seen like bread bearing a large hairdo made of pork fibers and others that put you right at home, like bagels. I purchased two black forest cake log rolls to take to the potluck for a total of 79 CN 元 ($12.57 USD) that would have cost at least $30 in the USA.

Bakers working behind glass window
some sort of little rolls
the cake prep kitchen
the cake case
the cold dessert case
pan left
pan right
the breads
a special kind of bread

I then returned home and worked on my journal and apartment organization – I did all of the dishes and unpacked all of the mini appliances such as the toaster and coffee maker • I got dressed for the party, took my desserts out of the refrigerator, and grabbed two chairs to take to the party • virtually every one of the new people and our support teachers and administrators were in attendance • there was music, great food, and lots of laughs • I headed home around 11:30 pm feeling the urge to get home and to sleep so I could Skype with family in the morning