Saturday, August 19, 2006


China, to which I soon return, is not an open society. Freedoms of speech, self-expression, and travel are distinctly limited. People ask me why I do not discuss this on my blog. It is because I come to China as a teacher and guest. Criticizing their system is not my job and doing so might interfere with my purpose. In this blog, I focus on cultural practices and daily life. At times, I allude to China's political climate, but I not in depth. I come as a linguist and teacher.

Above: a street musician in Suzho. Below: child on a scooter in the public square.

The Hometown

I return to China in less than a week. I hadn't visited my hometown in close to five years, and I'd been wanting to do it.

In population, New York and Los Angeles are the biggest cities here in the U.S. But size is relative. Nanjing, where I was this past summer is the same size as New York and at 7 million is considered medium sized over China. Beijing is considerably larger, and Shanghai at 15 million is over twice Nanjing's size.

Above: view of the Chrysler building from UN Plaza. Below: Newsstand by a midtown subway stop.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A number of things

Travel and preparation for travel make us extremely aware of the wonder and diversity of this planet earth.

Robert Louis Stevenson said it:

The world is so full of a number of things,
I ’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.

Above: my son Michael in the evening lights on Times Square. Below: globe sculpture at the United Nations.


Major religions have admonitions on the treatment of strangers. It's because outsiders are so vulnerable to exploitation. When I visited New York this past week, I wore a sun hat and carried a back pack, and I didn't look like a native.

At La Guardia Airport, a taxi driver from a non-registered company offered to drive me to my hotel in midtown for 50 bucks. It should cost 30 dollars at the very most and with a generous tip!

In large population centers, there are always individuals seeking to make money off unsuspecting newcomers. The Beijing Airport is notorious for this. Every American I know was ripped off in some way on first arrival. Religions have rules on treatment of strangers because we make such tempting targets.

Above: With my hat and backpack, I pose at the Simon Wiesenthal Tolerance Center, which does diversity training for various groups. Below: legitimate taxis in midtown Manhattan.

Alien life forms

While in China, I did some research When I filled out a form for the IRB (Institutional Review Board on Research), I had to say if I was working with ethnic minorities. My subjects were Chinese schoolteachers. Are they a minority? Not in China they aren't. There are are several billion Chinese people over in Asia.

Growing up in New York, I saw there were all different kinds of people. While New York has changed since I was a girl, it is still very diverse. Yesterday, I visited my "hometown" with my son Michael. Above: Michael with an alien life form we met in the theater district. The robot addressed Michael as "Yellow one." Below: a portion of a mural at the United Nations, reading : "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."

Monday, August 14, 2006

I love her rocks and rills

We live in a beautiful corner of the world. I had forgotten how beautiful. Above: a field near my
house. Below: the entrance to the College of Education.

The fatal fork

Sorry to have been out of touch for a few days. We were, as they say, experiencing technical difficulties, and I couldn't post any pictures. My good friend Dennis Cope fixed the problem. Many thanks!

To my great surprise, I lost 10 pounds while in China. As many of you know, I have trouble losing weight, and this is a source of great frustration. Here's what I did differently in China:

  1. I walked a tremendous amount. It's what people there do.
  2. I ate Chinese food, which is full of vegetables and fairly low fat.
  3. I used chopsticks. If you eat with chopsticks, you invariably lose interest in whatever you were eating, long before you finish it.
Now that I can use either, I prefer chopsticks to forks. Forks are much too efficient. Above: my new, improved but far from perfect figure.
Below: chopsticks and bowl.

What does tomorrow mean? It is 5:30 pm here, but at home it’s 5:00 in the morning. I leave Weihai tomorrow and make a stop in Beijing. ...