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The Man in China Archive, July and August of 2011

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Picture: The panorama view from Sheila's contemplation spot overlooking Peachland and Okanagan Lake.  B.C., Canada

Chinese Word of the Day:  旅游
(lǚ yu "travel" + "swim") v./n. tour; tourism

August 23, 2011 Life Goes On

My sincere appreciation to all of those who have sent messages of condolence following my mother's death.  Since I do not believe that the soul can exist as something separate from the body, no more than a whirlpool can exist separate from the river, for me there is no afterlife.  I don't think that my mother is in heaven, nor has she "gone to a better place".  I believe that my mother has simply ceased to exist.  Some people find this belief harsh and cold, but it is the temporary nature of our relationships with those we love that make them so very precious. I will always miss my parents, now that they are both gone.  Life goes on.
     Between my mother's death on Saturday and her memorial the following Friday we covered a lot of territory.  First there was the family get together, that had been in the planning for weeks and was only slightly dampened by mother's passing.

Picture:  We don't get together often enough to be polished performers, but we sure do enjoy a good jam.  Darlene and Ken's place in Ruskin, B.C., Canada
                                                                                    - All pictures in this post are by Ruth Anderson.

Picture:  Good food.  Everywhere.  Darlene and Ken's place in Ruskin, B.C., Canada

Picture:  Performance time.  Darlene and Ken's place in Ruskin, B.C., Canada

Picture:  Horseshoes at Darlene and Ken's place in Ruskin, B.C., Canada  Picture:  Picture:  Horseshoes at Darlene and Ken's place in Ruskin, B.C., Canada

Monday morning we were off to Kelowna for a visit to my former brother in law, Tom and my amazing nephew Ean. 

Picture:  The amazing Ean in Kelowna, B.C. Picture:  Panda and my former sister in law, Sheila.  Peachland, B.C.

We spent Monday night in Peachland as guests of my former sister in law, Sheila. The next morning we did a short walk along Sheila's ridge, then headed on up to Williams Lake to introduce Panda to my cousin Colleen. 

Picture:  Cousin Colleen and Jerry, Williams Lake, B.C., Canada   Picture:  Colleen and Jerry's dogs romp in the river.  Williams Lake, B.C., Canada

We were back in Maple Ridge in time for mother's memorial service on Friday.  Sunday was spent on the Fraser River, as guests of my second cousin, Scott. 

Picture:  Panda holds the leash, which is not the same as holding the dog.  Picture:  Launching at the Mission boat ramp.  Mission, B.C., Canada

Picture:  Axel the boat dog gives me a kiss on the Fraser River between Mission and Maple Ridbge, B.C., Canada Picture:  Axel the boat dog.  Fraser River, B.C., Canada

Picture:  Panda had her turn at the helm on the Fraser River, B.C., Canada

Picture:  I think she was having fun.

Picture:  Panda on a sand bar on an island in the Fraser River, B.C., Canada

Picture:  Panda decoded tp get of the boat.  The Fraser River, B.C., Canada  Picture:  Ruth went for a drag on the tube behind the boat.  The Fraser River, B.C., Canada

Then a very pleasant evening with Tony and Donna, who had met Panda when they toured China.

Picture:  Tony and Donna's magnificent back yard.  Mission, B.C., Canada

After a day of recuperation we were off to Gibsons to touch base with my old friends.

Picture:  Skip in a contemplative mood.  Gibsons, B.C. Picture:  Pavelka, the artist, and her mom.  Gibsons, B.C., Canada

Picture:  Panda with a sculpture by Pavelka.  Gibsons, B.C., Canada  Picture:  Hand prints of the whole family in concrete beside the house we owned in Gibsons Landing, B.C., Canada.

Picture:  Sandy husks the corn.  Gibsons Landing, B.C., Canada   Picture:  Group shot with Sandy and Bruce.  Gibsons Landing, B.C., Canada

Picture:  Panda with one of the crabs that my friend Don gave us during our visit to Gibsons Landing.   Picture:  Stack of crabs from Gibsons Landing, B.C. Canada.  A great feast for breakfast.

And for a final wrap up to the summer, took a day trip to Britannia Mines and Whistler, 

Picture:  Panda with the hard rock miners, or facimile thereof,  at Britannia Mines museum, B.C., Canada

Picture:  Panning for gold at Britannia Mines museum,  Britannia Beach, B.C., Canada  Picture:  Panning for gold at Britannia Mines museum,  Britannia Beach, B.C., Canada

Picture:  Shannon Falls, B.C., Canada

Picture:  Panda takes in the view on the Sea to Sky Highway, B.C., Canada

Picture:  A butterfly on my finger makes me feel like I'm in a Disney animation.  Shannon Falls, B.C., Canada Picture:  Ice cream at Cows, Whistler, B.C., Canada

We took the ferry over to Nanaimo for the second time to connect with my daughter.

Picture:  Panda and my daughter, Reba, explore a tide pool.  Courtenay, B.C., Canada   Picture:  Reba in her cozy cottage on the beach near Courtenay, B.C., Canada

Picture:  So great to get a day with my daughter at last.

Picture:  Reba rents half of the duplex cottage in the background for an amazingly low price.
Reba has found an amazing place to live, for very reasonable rent.

Picture:  Smokies over an open fire on the beach.  Life doesn't get better than this.
Smokies on an open fire on an open beach.  How tough can it get.

Picture:  an impromptu jam session with a talented young violinist while we wait for the ferry.
I found this talented young violinist in the ferry lineup on our way back from Nanaimo.

On the way back to Maple Ridge we stopped in at White Rock to visit Karen and Bruce. 

Picture:  Karen and Bruce in Whiterock, B.C., Canada

The next day we took Panda into Vancouver to show her Chinatown.  Our way of easing her back into her own country.

Picture:  Panda in Chinatown, delighted to find this sign.  Vancouver, B.C.  Canada

Followed by dinner with Sharyl and Dennis.

Picture:  Dinner with Sharyl and Dennis, New Westminster, B.C.

So that's the end of another amazing summer.  I'm so filled with gratitude for the hospitality and generosity of my friends and family.  If any of you are reading this, please know that I love you all dearly and appreciate you beyond what words can express. 
     For a more complete pictorial history of our summer, be sure to visit Ruth's Flickr site.  Today we are tidying up, washing the car, erasing our tracks in my sister's apartment, and getting ready for the flight back to China.  Tomorrow.  Yikes.  My how the summer has flown by.  I'm feeling very reluctant to leave this beautiful weather, and friends and family here in Canada.  But I'm also excited about getting back to Wuxi, and picking up the projects I let drop during this extended vacation.
I'm also excited at the prospect of new courses to teach and new freshmen to meet.  It's been a great summer.  Now it's time to get back to work.

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Picture:  Sunset over North Vancouver,  Canada

Chinese Word of the Day:  去世了
(q sh le literally "leave" + "world") pass away, die.

August 19, 2011 Mother is Dead

My apologies for not making more frequent updates to this site.  It's been a busy week.  My mother passed away last Saturday evening.  Sunday there was a large family gathering at Ken and Darlene's home.  Monday, Ruth, Panda and I set out for the interior to visit Tom and Ean in Kelowna, Sheila in Peachland, Colleen and Jerry in Williams Lake.  It's been a lot of driving, and some great "face time" with relatives.  Today, Friday, there will be a memorial for my mother at the Maple Ridge Baptist Church at 1:00pm, an hour and a half from now.  I'm snatching these few minutes to do this preliminary post.  Pictures to follow.

 

 Elsie Dorothea Scott, ne. Bromfield
Thea
August 17, 1923 - August 13, 2011

Picture:  Elsie Dorothea Scott, ne. Bromfield, Thea, 1923 - 2011

Born in Kowloon, China, she was a beautiful Manila debutant who survived three years in Santo Thomas Internment Camp, married the Canadian "farm boy" against her mother's wishes, raised five children, and lived a full and complete life of dedicated service to family and community.

She read to her children.

She inspired a love of literature, art, history, music and beauty.

Now she's gone.

Mother, you will be missed.

I held mother's hand for the last few hours of her life.  Hers was a difficult death, and it was a relief when she finally slipped away.

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Picture:  Martin shows his grand daughter where Panda came from.  Maple Ridge, B.C., Canada
Martin shows his grand daughter where Panda lives when she's not visiting Canada. 

Chinese Word of the Day:  很忙
(hěn mng)  very busy

August 10, 2011  More Train Pictures

While we are on vacation, these posts are for my friends and students in China who may be interested in the adventures of Panda in Canada.  For a more complete set of pictures, be sure to visit Ruth's Flickr site.
     Somebody commented that the view from the train is better crossing the prairies than through the mountains, even though it is the mountain trip for which they put on the special dome car.  We found this to be true.  The prairies are far from empty and featureless.  There's always something to see, and always a clear vista rolling by giving time to appreciate the view.  The mountains, by comparison, gives flashes of incredible views.  But if you blink twice you've missed it, and all you see is more trees.

Picture:  Who says there's nothing to see on the prairies.  A deer seen from the window of Via Rail.   Picture:  It's not the vast herds of yesteryear, but we still see bison from the window of Via Rail.  
Somehow a deer on the open prairie is more exciting than a deer in suburban Nanaimo. 
And it is still possible to see bison on the planes.

 Picture:  Who says there's nothing to see on the prairies.  View from the window of Via Rail.  

Picture:  Panda had the upper berth.  Via Rail.
Ruth and I had lower berths.  Panda had an upper.

Picture:  Panda enjoys the view from the dining car.  Via Rail.

Picture:  A beaver lodge as seen from the windows of Via Rail.
Canada also still has beaver, as this beaver lodge attests.

The train stopped in Jasper for forty-five minutes while they washed the windows.. They had added the panorama car in Edmonton.

Picture:  Ruth and Panda alight from Via Rail in Jasper, Alberta, Canada  Picture:  Jasper, Alberta, Canada 

Picture:  Workers wash the train windows in preparation for the mountain views.  Via Rail, Canada

The observation cars had collected a pointillism abstract of bugs on the evening run across the prairies.

Picture:  the totem at the Jasper train staion.  Via Rail.  Picture:  Workers wash the train windows in preparation for the mountain views.  Via Rail, Canada

Picture:  Ruth and Panda in the panorama car as we head into the mountains from Jasper on Via Rail.

Picture:  Pyramid Falls from the window of Via Rail, Canada 
Here's one of the aforementioned spectacular views that flashed by.  Pyramid Falls.

Picture:  Breakfast a six in the dining car, Via Rail, Canada
We were scheduled to disembark in Abbotsford at 7:05am, so we were first in line for breakfast in the
dining car, and managed to wolf down a great omelet before our stop.

Picture:  View of the Frazer River from Via Rail.

Picture:  Breakfast in the dining car at dawn.  Via rail is a great way to see Canada.

  Picture:  The sign says Abbotsford, but really this is Matsqui, B.C.   Picture:  Sister Sue met our train at Abbotsford, B.C.
Sister Sue met us in Abbotsford.  We were expecting a train station, but they let us off beside the tracks.  The station, with its attendant personnel, is gone now.  We were lucky that Susan could figure out where to pick us up.

 Picture:  My sister Susan managed to find the right place to meet us when we got off the train.  Thanks again, Sue.  Matsqui, B.C.  Canada

Mother is Dying

On Wednesday morning we went straight from the train to Susan's apartment.

Picture:  We were up early to get off the train, and Panda needed this nap.  Maple Ridge, B.C.
Panda caught a quick nap with the opportunist Chihuahua joining her on the couch.

Then to the hospital.  Mother has been in the hospital for the entire time we've been in Canada this summer, which added a tension to the Winnipeg and Saskatoon portion of our vacation.  It was good to finally get in to see her, though the circumstances I found her in can only be described as a horror show.  Mother was delirious when she was awake at all. There were three other patients in the room.  The cleaning staff made no attempt to subdue their voices.  Doctors would come in and shout questions to the elderly patient in the next bed.  Mother would wake up in a panic.  She didn't know where she was, why she was there, who we were, sometimes even who she is.  At one point a large elderly man escaped from his restraints and was stumbling around naked, catheterized.  Mother thought there was a monster in the room.
There were a few priceless moments of near clarity.  "Do I have any children?" mother asked at one point.  "Yes, five." she was told.  "Oh my goodness,"  she said with a chuckle. 
     When I was shopping for groceries with Panda and Ruth, my mobile phone rang.  It was Catherine calling to tell me that I should return to the hospital, if mother hadn't gone already. I rushed off, only to find that the crisis had passed by the time I got there.

Picture:  This picture doesn't convey the true horrors of mother's hospital room.  Maple Ridge, B.C.

Thursday morning we learned there was a room available in the hospice attached to the hospital.  What a relief.  Sudden serenity.  No rules about visiting. Mother is in a spacious room with a couch that turns into a bed.  Somebody can be with her twenty-four hours a day.  We could decorate her room with her favorite pictures and keepsakes. Best of all, pets are welcome. 

Picture:  At the hospice, mother revived enough to enjoy a visit from Jeordie, her Yorkshire terrior.  Maple Ridge, B.C.
With the peace and quiet, mother revived briefly.  She was awake for a visit from her dog,
and for my brother Ed.  Unfortunately she didn't know who Ed was.

Picture:  Mother on her death bed.  Maple Ridge, B.C.  Picture;  David and Ed in mother's hospice room.  Maple Ridge, B.C. 

There is no treatment here,  no attempt to prolong life.  Mother has cancer that has eaten away her lower jaw and invaded her esophagus.  Without the drugs the pain would be unbearable. She has no mobility at all.  There's no quality of life left.  We have vowed to keep her pain free, and to always be there if she wakes up.  But there will be no attempt to prolong her life, which would merely be prolonging suffering.  Now we wait, and watch in case she wakes up.

Adventures in British Columbia

I spent a night in mother's room at the hospice, but with sisters Catherine, Susan, and Mary all taking turns to watch over mother, we had time for some visiting.  Reta and Martin had met Panda when they toured China, and provided a letter of support for her second visa application.

Picture:  Charlie gets a tummy rub at Martin and Reta's place, Maple Ridge, B.C. 
Panda loves big dogs, and Charlie obviously loves a tummy scratch. 

Picture:  Martin and Reta's place, Maple Ridge, B.C.  Picture:  a three hour old bull calf on Martin and Reta's place, Maple Ridge, B.C.
Martin has a horse that will give him a kiss and a bull calf that was three hours old.

Picture:  Cousin Reta reunited with Panda in Maple Ridge, B.C.
Cousin Reta with Panda and salmon for dinner.  Delicious.

We were a little disappointed that Reta and Martin had not unwrapped their pool, due to the cool wet summer.  But we brought the sun with us from Winnipeg.  We took Panda up to Kanaka Falls for a splash in the cold water of Kanaka Creek..

Picture:  Panda forages for thimble berries on the path to Kanaka Creek, Maple Ridge, B.C.  Picture:  Panda in Kanaka Creek, Maple Ridge, B.C.

Panda was surprised to hear her name called in the supermarket.  Ken and Darlene also met her on their tour in China, and recognized her in the store.

Picture:  a chance meeting far from home.  Darlene and Ken recognized Panda in the shopping center.  Maple Ridge, B.C.

 We went into Vancouver to catch China's entry in this year's fireworks competition.

  Picture:  Festival of Fire, Vancouver.  We got there early enough to find our spot of grass from which  to watch the show.  Picture:  China's night to show off at the Vancouver Celebration of Light.
A spectacular display of pyrotechnics by China, the global home of fire works.
Congratulations, China.  This year's winner.

The next day we went back to Vancouver to watch the Pride Parade.

Picture:  the Work Safe float at the Pride Parade, Vancouver 2011
The Pride Parade began as a statement of  gay liberation, but has evolved into a celebration of diversity, with participants from a huge number of official groups and causes, from police and firemen to church groups, atheists and political parties.

Picture:  Ruth and Panda among spectators at the Pride Parade, Vancouver 2011
The good vibes were intoxicating.  This is the way the world should be,
protesting in favor of something instead of against something.

 Picture:  Panda with a spectator at the Vancouver Pride parade 2011.  Vancouver, B.C.  Panda with a   Picture:  Stilt walker at the Pride Parade, Vancouver 2011  
Panda, in typical Chinese fashion, wanted a picture with the blond bombshell.


 Picture:  At first I thought these were two young men.  Not so. Spectators at the Vancouver Pride parade 2011.  Vancouver, B.C.  Picture:  Spectators at the Vancouver Pride parade 2011.  Vancouver, B.C.
Picture:  Panda in False Creek, Vancouver, B.C.  Picture:  David and Panda on the False Creek ferry.  Vancouver, B.C.
After the Pride Parade we still had time to visit Grandville Island and take a harbor tour
on the little ferry that plies False Creek.

Picture:  a seal checks out the Chinese visitor in False Creek, Vancouver, B.C.  Picture:  The Chinese visitor checks out the seal from the little False Creek ferry.  Vancouver, B.C.
Panda can add a harbor seal to the list of wildlife she has seen this summer.

Picture:  We can't reach half way around this old cedar.  Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
After Granville Island we took a walk around Stanley Park where we found this giant cedar.

Vancouver Island

Picture:  Panda in Nanaimo harbor, Nanaimo, B.C.  Canada
Panda against the backdrop of Nanaimo harbour.

With mother sedated but stable, we took a few days to get over to Vancouver Island to see my children and grand children.  For the seventh year in a row I'm indebted to my high school best friend, Clint L'Heureux, and his wife, Linda, for putting us up and treating us like family.

Picture:  Panda, Goody and me in Cedar, B.C.  Patti Grand, Panda, and me.  Nanaimo, B.C.
At times I worry that Panda will tire of meeting old....uh.... people of my generation.  Here she is with my friend Goody by a lake, and my friend Patricia in a restaurant.

 Picture:  Nurse Sadie off to work on her big Yamaha.  Nanaimo, B.C.  Picture:  Nurse Sadie off to work on her big Yamaha.  Nanaimo, B.C. 
Sister Sadie rides her big Yamaha to her job at the hospital where she works as an ICU nurse. 
I think Panda was impressed.

Picture:  Panda with my friend Madeleine's hand painted terra cotta warriors.  Nanoose, B.C.
My friend Madeleine imported these terra cotta warriors from Hong Kong and painted them herself.

Cathedral Grove: The really good pictures are up on Ruth's Flickr site.

Picture:  This tree eats Chinese women.  Cathedral Grove, B.C., Canada   

Parksville

Picture:  Panda emerges from the ocean at Parksville Beach, B.C., Canada
             "It's salty," Panda complained on first tasting ocean water.

Picture:  Marjorie Cullerne gives me my annual violin lesson.  Parksville, B.C., Canada
My violin teacher, Marjorie Cullerne, generously gives me my annual lesson.

Saltspring Island

Finally, Ruth meets the grand kids.

   Picture:  Ruth with Kiri on Saltspring Island, B.C., Canada
Ruth managed to skip parenting and jump straight to grand parent.

  Picture: Kiri pulls my chest hairs just to hear me squeal.  Saltspring Island, B.C., Canada
My grand daughter has discovered that pulling chest hairs makes grampa Dave squeal.

  Picture:  My grand daughter with the family pet.  Saltspring Island, B.C., Canada  Picture:  a bearded dragon, the family pet.  Saltspring Island, B.C., Canada
Somebody in the family is allergic to cats, so the family pet is a bearded dragon.

 Piper's Lagoon

 Picture:  Panda explores tide pools in Piper's Lagoon, Nanaimo, B.C.  Picture:  Panda explores tide pools in Piper's Lagoon, Nanaimo, B.C.
This was Panda's first chance to explore tide pools, and see the fascinating creatures that inhabit them.

Manual Labour

With the news that mother's condition is unchanged, I decided to delay one more day on the island and give my son, Victor, a hand with pouring concrete foundations under one of my ex-wife's houses.

Picture:  D.J., David and Victor celebrate the completion of a section of hand mixed concrete wall.  Nanaimo, B.C.  Picture:  David with eldest son, Victor.  Nanaimo, B.C.
This was the first heavy manual labor I've done in years, and it felt good.  If was also good to find I could keep up to the kids in the crew.  I did most of the wheel barrow work, while Victor mixed concrete and D.J., the hired help, distributed each load.

I'm well aware of leaving people out of this account of our visit to the island.  We had a great evening with Doug Dodd, a nice morning with Ingo, and I do enjoy ALL my grand children, not just Kiri.  I haven't included any pictures of Clint and Linda, or Gordon and Ursula, or for that matter my sister Catherine.  I hope nobody's feelings have been hurt.  Again, if you want a more complete pictorial account, please visit Ruth's Flickr site where she's posted pictures of our summer so far.

  Picture:  Panda on the B.C. ferry.
And so, back to the mainland.

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 Picture:  They washed the prairie bugs off the dome car windows and sparkled up the side windows in Jasper, ready for the trip through the mountains.

Chinese Word of the Day:  火车
(huǒ chē literally "fire" + "vehicle") n. train

July 26, 2011  Heading West on Via Rail

There's been too much happening to keep up with, and my camera has decided that it needs servicing.  So to get the whole story of our summer vacation, visit Ruth's Flickr siteBriefly we've been busy with the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, Ruth and Panda had a day at the Manitoba Museum.  Doug generously lent us his car, so we got out to Lower Fort Garry and then to Oak Hammock Marsh. We had a day on bicycles exploring Assiniboine Park.

Picture:  The view across the river from Lower Fort Garry, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Picture:  Panda takes a break on the grass, with Lower Fort Garry in the background.  Winnipeg, Canada Picture:  The blacksmith at Lower Fort Garry in his recreated shop.  Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

 Now I'm writing this just downhill from Jasper on Via Rail.

Picture:  Ruth and Panda shortly after we board the via rail for the west coast.   Picture:  Panda and Ruth in Jasper, Alberta.

The train ride is wonderful.  We have lower berths, and Panda has an upper.  Meals are included, and they are gourmet quality served on white linen with elegant china and silverware.  The crew is friendly, Between wine tasting and prairie talks and movies and reading books on the iPad, this trip will not be long enough.  Two days and two nights just isn't enough.

Picture:  Dinner in the dining car on Via Rail as we cross the wide prairies.  Saskatchewan, Canada
                                                                                                          -Jojo (the dining car maitre'd) photo

The views have been incredible. I just freshened up with a shower.  Life is good edging on decadent.

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Picture:  We ran into these clowns on the street between Fringe Festival shows.  Winnipeg, MB, Canada
                                                                                                                                -Ruth Anderson photo

Chinese Word of the Day:  表演
(biǎo yǎn) v. perform; act; play

July 16, 2011 We've Been Fringing

Since the summer in Winnipeg is so short, the city crams all kinds of culture into the available months.  Right now the Fringe Festival is in full swing.  We've been catching three or four shows a day.  Some clearly need work, but some are brilliant and show the years of development it took to grow them to maturity.  One such show is "This is Cancer".

Picture: Panda with Bruce and Emma, stars of "This is Cancer" at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival.
We found ourselves in line for "Houdini's Last Escape" (another excellent show) behind the stars of "This is Cancer", Bruce and Emma.  Great show.  Great people.

You wouldn't expect a show about cancer to have a lot of entertainment value and fun.  But in this case you'd be surprised.  The show had its origins in the cabaret clubs of Toronto, way back in 2004.  It's been growing, refining, and developing since then, and the maturity of the production really makes it stand out among the other Fringe Festival shows.  Brilliant and touching. 
     One of the performers in two different Fringe Festival shows came by the Bhigg House.  Shelby does a show called "Cowboy Max" which includes a whip act. He was quite impressed with my new kangaroo leather whip, the longest whip he's ever tried to crack.

Picture:  Shelby throws himself into cracking my sixteen foot whip.    Picture:  Shelby and Vinnie perform as "The Magnificent Humble Boys" at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival.
Coincidentally, the first Fringe show we caught was "Everything you wanted to know about sex but were afraid to text.",  featuring "The Fabulous Humble Boys", Shelby and his partner Vinnie, in a lively hour of comedy and music.  Partial improv, they ask the audience to keep cell phones on and text in questions.

 One of the joys of "Fringing" is the conversations with audience members and performers between shows.  We compare notes and exchange lists of those shows not to be missed, and those to be avoided.

Picture:  Two days of living on smokies is not really a good idea.  Winnipeg Fringe Festival.  Picture:  My motto - Better to have a clown nose and not need one than need a clown nose and not have one.

Picture:  Waiting for our order to be delivered before watching "Every Story Ever Told" at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival

Picture:  Panda tries on my sun glasses and a pouty expression.  Picture:  The one man show, "Curriculum Vitae".  Good performance but we couldn't relate to the character.  The Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Picture:  Panda tries on my sunglasses and her normal expression.

That was yesterday.  Today an old friend of Ruth's took Ruth and Panda up in a private plane for some sight seeing.  Everybody is knocking themselves out to show Panda a great time in Canada.

  Picture:  Panda and Ruth pose with the plane.  Winnipeg. Picture:  Panda and her pilot.  What a generous offer, a free sight seeing flight over the Manitoba countryside.

Picture:  Panda looking at cows that look like ants from this height. Picture:  The view from the air over Manitoba near Winnipeg.

That was the morning.  We spent the rest of the day at the pilot's home, enjoying a great BBQ dinner and wonderful family life.

   Picture:  Panda and the eldest daughter bonded quickly.  Picture:  Scott's daughter and David jam.

Picture:  The pilot tends the barbeque.  Picture:  A traditional Canadian dinner - bbq hamburgers- with a traditional Canadian family.

Picture:  The eldest daughter hangs a spoon on her nose.  No glue.  No hands.  Picture:  The eldest daughter hangs two spoons on her face.  No glue.  No hands.  Picture:  The grand finale - three spoons.  No hands.  No glue.
The four year old (and a half) entertained us with her unusual spoon hanging act. 
I'm sure she'll be in the Fringe Festival soon.

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Chinese Word of the Day: 吸尘机
(xī chn jī literally "suck dust machine") n. vacuum cleaner

July 13, 2011 Back in Winnipeg

Today's Chinese word of the day was inspired by vacuuming the borrowed car before returning it.  Donna and Terry's gift of a modern automobile to use for our visit to Saskatoon added immensely to our trip.  It sat for most of the time while we visited Ruth's mother and sister's family, but it gave us the freedom to meander on our way home.

Picture:  The bone was headed for the garbage when I diverted it.   Debbie is a great cook and we enjoyed many fine meals during our visit. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
We had a great visit and many fine meals with Ruth's family in Saskatoon.

Picture:  Panda admires the canola and the Saskatchewan sky.
But finally it was time to head back to Winnipeg through the endless miles of canola fields.

Meander we did.  We drove from Saskatoon to Elrose where, some twenty-seven years ago, Ruth was part of a Katimavik team that built the adventure playground.

Picture:  Ruth revisits her Katimavik work project in Elrose, Saskatchewan. Picture:  Panda enjoys a slide on the playground equipment Ruth helped build twenty-seven years ago.  Elrose, Saskatchewan
Ruth helped build this playground, never thinking she would revisit it with a Chinese friend twenty-seven years later.

On our way into Moosejaw we noticed signs advertising the Moosejaw Tunnel Tour.  There were two choices - the Al Capone/Chicago connection and the Chinese immigrant story.  We chose the latter, since we want to give Panda some connection to Chinese history in Canada. 

Picture:  Panda poses with the actress and guide for the Tunnels of Moosejaw Chinese immigrants experience.  A good show, but a sad reminder of Canada's racist history.
Panda with Amanda, the actress and guide for our tour of the Moosejaw tunnels.

The tour took us into the underground laundry where Chinese immigrants spent literally years without seeing the light of day, working to pay off their passage to Canada, the head tax, and the coolie broker fees.  While most immigrant groups suffered incredible hardship on first arriving in Canada, the racist treatment of the Chinese stands out as a particular blemish on the Canadian conscience.

Picture:  The Rouleau elevator, renamed Dog River for the CTV sitcom, "Corner Gas".  Picture:  The set for the CTV sitcom, "Corner Gas" near Rouleau, Saskatchewan.
We were delighted to find ourselves in the fictional Dog River, location for the CTV sitcom "Corner Gas".

Driving from Moosejaw to Wilcox, location of a movie I directed back in 1980, a date I will never forget because my eldest son was born while I was making the film, I noticed "Dog River" on a grain elevator that should have read "Rouleau" and realized that we had stumbled onto the shooting location for CTV's "Corner Gas", one of our favorite Canadian sitcoms.

Picture:  the Tower of God in Wilcox, Saskatchewan.  Built like the legendary brick outhouse.   Picture:  I don't call true believers stupid, but it's hard to avoid the word "gullible".  Pieces of "the true cross" in Wilcox, Saskatchewan.
Inside the Tower of God is a tiny room with a low ceiling, buzzing fluorescent lights,  and religious aphorisms cast in bronze on all four walls.  Quaint.  Charming in its own way.  But not my idea of inspirational.

And in Wilcox I got to show Ruth the Father Athol Murray's Tower of God, a structure that most resembles a forty foot tall brick privy and my vote for the most tasteless religious monument in the world.  But really, wood of the true cross in Wilcox, Saskatchewan.  Who'da thunk it.
     We got back to Winnipeg at three in the morning, and were up again at nine for the last day of the Winnipeg Folk Festival. 

Connie Kaldor in concert with her "record producer and co-producer of my backup band" husband.  Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Nostalgia continued as I caught Connie Kaldor in performance with her family backup band.  I directed the Saskatchewan movie for Expo '86, and Connie's amazing voice and lyrics set the mood for that film.  I bought two of Connie's CD's for Panda to take back to China and we stood in line to get them autographed.

Picture: Fred Penner, Connie Kaldor and Trout Fishing in America on stage in the Shady Grove at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
That's Fred Penner, Connie Kaldor, and Trout Fishing in America on stage at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Picture:  the Baggiecon music circle on the final night of camping at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
Dave Clement sounds like Stan Rogers, only better.

After the day of performances at the festival, we gathered around the Baggiecon* campfire for a music circle, finally leaving for Winnipeg at three in the morning again. 

*So named because the group grew out of SF fandom conventions, and camped during stormy weather in huge "baggies" made out of tarps.

Picture:  Fred Penner and Dave Clement contribute to the music circle at the Dead Mouse Party, Winnipeg
Fred Penner joined Decadent Dave Clement and some talented amateurs for the Dead Mouse music circle.

So Monday was a day of recovery until the "Dead Mouse" party* at the Bhigg House, another music circle lead by Decadent Dave Clement with special guest Fred Penner, one of Canada's best known folk singers and children's performers.

*Okay, long story:  Those who camp with the Baggiecon group at the Winnipeg Folk Festival are known as the country mice, while those who crash in the Bhigg House are city mice.  This originated as a password for entrance to the big house, with unrecognized visitors being asked whether they were a city mouse or a country mouse. After the festival, all mice are dead tired, hence the Dead Mouse Party to wind things up.  Ruth has introduced me to a whole new culture.

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Picture:  Panda and Rascal share a nap.  Panda is still dealing with jet lag, and we're exhausting her with tours.

Chinese Word of the Day:科学
(kē xu) n. science; scientific knowledge

July 08, 2011 Circle the Electrons

Yesterday, Kim Mysyk, a geologist by profession and husband of Ruth's scientist sister, used some heavy personal 关系 (guānxi - relationship) to arrange a tour of the Canadian Light Source Inc. Synchrotron Our tour guide and host, Jeff Warner Ph.D. took time out from his vacation to explain the workings of the facility.  It was a bit like a Sheldon Cooper (from "Big Bang Theory") guided tour, minus the arrogance and vanity. Dr. Warner has a knack for using clear English, leaving me with the impression that I can understand how this thing works.

Picture:  Dr. Jeff Warner introduces us to the synchrotron.  Beyond impressive.  Picture:  Canadian Light Source synchrotron.  Incredible complexity.

"The Canadian Light Source (CLS) is Canada's national synchrotron research facility, where intense beams of light are generated to probe the nature and structure of matter." 
                                                       -
from the "Meeting the Needs of Business" brochure

That sounds simple enough but it's the scale that is impressive.  This is a facility where over thirty Ph.D.'s from various disciplines are at work burning through two million dollars worth of electricity each year.

Picture:  A scientist at work, lost in the profusion of wires, tubes, valves, ducts, things beyond comprehension.
A research scientist at work surrounded by the complexity of the synchrotron.

The only facility of its kind in Canada, one of only 25 in the world, this place is BIG science.  A highly ordered rats nest of wires, tubes, pipes, ducts, steel-and-lead-sandwich-walled rooms, with price tags of about twenty million dollars, added to a base cost of over 200 million for the facility as a whole, with here and there a dewar flask boiling off liquid nitrogen.  It would take a science degree just to understand what everything is for.  Our poor Chinese visitor confessed to understanding very few of the big words, and we had to comfort her with the knowledge that we didn't understand much more.
    
So, what does a Synchrotron do.  As I understand it, electrons are injected into a tube that runs in a large circle, steered around this circle by very expensive magnets and induced to send off very high energy photons that can penetrate materials, creating interference patterns and images that can be used to explore the nature of everything from horse bones and cancer cells to geological mineral samples.  It all gets much more complex than this, but that seems to be the basic idea.

Picture:  Dr. Jeff Warner explains the details and workings of the synchrotron.  Picture:  Despite the complexity of his work, Dr. Warner managed to explain things very clearly.

  Dr. Warner is the perfect tour guide, a poster boy for smart people.  He brushed off our gratitude for taking his vacation time by explaining that he was escaping for a couple of hours from his three year old and two year old kids.  What we understood of his tour was fascinating.  I came away with the impression that the culture of science is complex, integrated, formalized, and quite healthy.

The Geology Department Tour

As mentioned above, Kim Mysyk, Ruth's sister's husband, is a geologist, and one of the authors of a slim book about the stones used in Saskatchewan architecture.  He took us on a tour of the geology department of the University of Saskatchewan.

Picture:  Touring the University of Saskatchewan, we checked out the physics building.  Picture:  Touring the University of Saskatchewan, we checked out the gothic lines of the physics building.
First stop was to admire the gothic lines and limestone construction of the physics building.

  Picture:  Most people look at the dinosaur.  Kim, the geologist, directed our attention to the fossils in the stones the display was standing on. Picture: Panda beneath the T-rex. Touring the University of Saskatchewan Geology department. Picture:  A small Chinese woman beneath the T-rex.  Touring the University of Saskatchewan Geology department.
It's hard to appreciate the scale in a photograph, but the T-rex was huge.

Picture:  Touring the University of Saskatchewan Geology department. Picture:  Careful, Pat.  You could lose an arm here. Touring the University of Saskatchewan Geology department.
                                                                                                 Careful, Pat.
 Picture: A prehistoric crocodile like creature.  Touring the University of Saskatchewan Geology department.

The Mysyk family has been coalescing from the four corners of the earth, and this was our second trip to the airport to pick up a returning daughter.  Heather has just returned from two years away in New Zealand, Australia, South East Asia, London, Iceland, and Toronto.  She and her sisters are off to the Okanogan to pick cherries.  I think Panda has been impressed by the mobility and adventurousness of Canadian youth.

Picture:  The Mysyk family welcomes Heather home after a two year long tour.

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Picture:  We stopped on our way from Winnipeg to Saskatoon to let Panda pose with the canola field.

Chinese Word of the Day:  古董
(gǔ dǒng) n. antique

July 06, 2011 Panda on the Canadian Prairies

We left Winnipeg in our borrowed car for a very pleasant drive to Saskatoon.  The weather has been glorious, and we managed to skirt all the thunderstorms, though Ruth says she drove through rain for about a minute while I was sleeping.

Picture:  First you tell me that your dog ran away.  Then you tell me it took three days.  Right.  Sure is flat in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Beautiful weather.  Sure is flat on the Canadian prairie.

Picture:  Ruth, Pat, and Panda above the street in Boomtown within the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon.
Panda got a warm welcome from Ruth's mother, Pat, and the rest of the family. 

Picture:  Ruth hams it up in front of an antique car with Panda at the wheel.  Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada  Picture:  Panda at the wheel of an antique car in Boomtown within the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon.
Hamming it up in Boomtown, within the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon

They've been keeping Panda and me busy, with delicious dinners, good company, and an afternoon spent at "Boomtown" within the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon, the most complete display of the pioneer lifestyle and farming culture I've ever seen, with all kinds of antique cars, an entire (huge) steam locomotive, a sod cabin, rows of antique tractors and farm machinery, and free samples of home made ice-cream. Just one of the best museums I've ever explored.

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Picture: Panorama of the glistening Shanghai airport.  China.  We're heading home for the summer.
                                                                                                                              -Ruth Anderson photo

Chinese Word of the Day:  飞机场
(fēi jī chǎng "flying machine field") airport

July 04, 2011 Home for the Summer

This year our friend Panda asked if she could come with us to Canada for the summer.  She is multiplying the fun of traveling by a factor of ten at least.  We left China on July the first, Canada Day, and arrived in Vancouver before we left. I always smile when I hear people complain about waiting at an airport.  For me it's just a good time to relax and practice my guitar or violin.

Picture:  Guitar practice in the Shanghai airport.  China  Picture:  Panda hams it up on the moving sidewalk.  Shanghai, China
                                                                                                                                 -Ruth Anderson photos

This was Panda's first time in an airport, and of course first time in an airplane.  It's so much fun to experience the thrill vicariously, and it reminds me of how jaded I have become.  For me an airplane ride is like a bus ride, though more comfortable.

Picture:  First view of Vancouver.  Panda was suitably impressed.  Picture:  Panda enthralled by her first view of Canada from the air.
                                                                                                                                        -Ruth Anderson photos

We were delayed getting into the air in Shanghai, which meant we missed our connecting flight in Vancouver.  No problem.  The chief steward reported that we were "protected" on another flight to Winnipeg.

Picture:  Panda in her seat on AC flight to Vancouver.  Picture:  The Panda has landed.  Panda in the YVR airport.
                                                                                                                                     -Ruth Anderson photos

Picture:  Fatigue and a huge lineup at customs could not dampen the mood.  Panda approaches immigration in the Vancouver airport.
                                                                                                                                   -Ruth Anderson photo

Even with the delay, we arrived in Vancouver before we left Shanghai due to crossing the date line and the time change.  Unfortunately there was a huge lineup at customs.  So much for protection.  By the time we got through to the Air Canada clerk, our rebooked flight had gone without us.  So it was several hours in the Vancouver airport before our re-rebooked flight to Winnipeg.

 Picture:  Sunset on the flight from Vancouver to Winnipeg.  Picture:  The novelty hasn't worn off, but exhaustion has definitely set in.  Panda sleeps through "Temple Grandin" on the Vancouver-Winnipeg flight.
                                                                                                                                   -Ruth Anderson photos

Ruth and I watched "Temple Grandin" (great biopic about the autistic designer of most modern slaughter houses) on the Shanghai -Vancouver leg of the flight.  Panda took our recommendation and tried to watch it on the Winnipeg flight.  That didn't really work out.

 Picture:  Winnipeg fom the air.  Picture:  Panda glued to the window as we approach Winnipeg.
                                                                                                                                   -Ruth Anderson photos

Picture:  David Rivers and Doug Shewfelt met us at the airport in Winnipeg with two cars.  So nice to be met on arrival.
                                                                                                                            -helpful stranger photo

Picture:  The gang at home in the Bhigg Houise, Winnipeg. Left to right - Dave Clement, Panda, Donna and Terry, Doug, Elizabeth, David.  Picture:  Dave sings.  I try to add tasteful fiddle licks, sometimes successfully.
                                                                                                                                 -Ruth Anderson photos
Great to be with friends in Winnipeg again.  Dave Clement is a fantastic folk singer with a voice that sounds like Stan Rogers only better.  There's no greater pleasure for me than a session playing fiddle to his singing.

     Picture:  The jet lag finally catches up to Ruth.
Jet lag gets to us all sooner or later.

Donna, Ruth's 8th grade teacher, and her husband Terry drove in from their country home to visit us.  That led to an invitation to go with them to their home and return to Winnipeg in their car.  So we had one night in the country.  Panda got to see a deer, and roar around like a typical Canadian maniac on an overpowered ATV.

Picture:  Panda was very enthusiastic about driving an ATV. Picture:  Panda at the controls of an ATV.  And she was wondering whether she'd have any fun in Canada. 
How can you tell she's having a good time?  Count the bugs on her teeth.

Picture:  Panda on the old railway bridge, now a pedestrian bridge, with the Bridge Drive In background.  Delicious hot fudge sundaes.
On the way back into Winnipeg, we stopped at the Bridge Drive In, a Winnipeg summer landmark and favourite, for hot fudge sundaes.  It's a good life if you weaken.

  Picture:  Someday I'll learn the names of all these flowers.  Winnipeg is in bloom. Picture:  Someday I'll learn the names of all these flowers.  Winnipeg is in bloom. Picture:  Someday I'll learn the names of all these flowers.  Winnipeg is in bloom. Picture:  Someday I'll learn the names of all these flowers.  Winnipeg is in bloom. 
Winnipeg is in bloom.  The weather is fabulous.  We have a late model borrowed car in which to drive to Saskatoon today.  That's eight hours on good highways through beautiful country. 
The summer begins very well indeed.

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Picture:  The China we know.  A row of bicycles, a basketball court full of young soldiers in training, and the gymnasium and library in the distance.  Says it all.  Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China

Chinese Word of the Day:  游客
yuk (travel + guest) n. tourist; sightseer

June 30, 2011 She's got a Ticket to Ride

On Wednesday morning I got a call from Panda.  She sounded bleakly disappointed when she told me she had heard from the Canadian visa office.  She's a good actor.  She really had me going for a minute before she revealed, with some squeals of delight, that her visa had been granted.  Whew.  But we fly Friday morning.  Yikes.

Picture:  Panda shows off her Canadian visa.  It took a major campaign by my friends and family to get it for her.  Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China

I sent off a panic email to my travel agent, asking if she could get Panda on the same flight as us.  But by Wednesday evening I hadn't heard.  So I got on the Internet and went directly to Air Canada.  Wonder of wonders, there were still twelve seats available on our flight to Vancouver, and also some empty seats on the Vancouver to Winnipeg leg.  So Panda is booked.  The panic is over, and the excitement builds.  Panda has never flown before. Now Ruth and I can discuss custody.

Our Last Visit to Shi Tang Cun

Picture:  The street food stalls on Shi Tang Jie.  Wuxi, China

Picture:  Fish ball entrepreneurs on the streets of Shi Tang Cun, a village now part of Wuxi, China Picture:  We're always fascinated by the way they make these into perfectly round balls without an actual mold.  Wuxi, China

Picture:  We love the textures and life on the streets in our little village.  Wuxi, China

Picture:  A huge pot of tasty snails, just one of the many street foods in Shi Tang Cun.  China  Picture:  I find the crawfish too picky to be worth the trouble, but thousands disagree.  Street food in Shi Tang Cun, Wuxi, China Picture:  The shadows paint Chinese characters on the street.  Shi Tang Cun, part of Wuxi, China
This is really Ruth's discovery.  The shadows of the characters stopped her in her tracks.

The little village to the north of our campus is slated for the wrecking ball, no doubt to be replaced by soulless and characterless high rises and modern shops. 

Picture:  The main street of Shi Tang Cun, the little village near our campus, the next victim of urban renewal.  Wuxi, China
Everything at the end of this block has already been reduced to rubble.

We went for our last meal at the Duck Restaurant. That's not its real name, but that's one of its specialties.  We ate in the room where we had our wedding party last September.  Our wedding decorations lasted until this visit, but now the room is stark and bare.  It's sad to think that by the time we come back from our summer at home, our favourite restaurant and the street it sits on will be gone.

Picture:  Panda, Devan, Ruth and Jin Bo at our table in "the Duck" restaurang in Shi Tang Cun
旧的不去,新的不来 - Old not go, new not come.

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Picture:  TEDx Jiangna University banner.  A lot of work went into organizing this even.  Wuxi, China

Chinese Word of the Day:  讲演
(jiǎng yǎn) v/n. speech; lecture

June 26, 2011 Wallowing in the Warm Glow

I'm now a TEDster.  Or at least a TEDxster, 

Picture: TEDx Jiangnan University, just like the main event.  Picture: TEDx Jiangnan University, just like the main event.  Picture: TEDx Jiangnan University, just like the main event.  The organizers did a great job.  Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China

The organizers of TEDx Jiangnan University did a great job of putting the show together. 

Picture:  Chris Anderson introduced the show, but not in person.  TEDx Jiangnan University.  Wuxi, China
A thrill to have the show introduced by Chris Anderson, even if he wasn't there in person.

Picture:  The audience at TEDx Jiangnan University.  Wuxi, China.  A full house.

We had a sold out crowd, and aside from some very stress inducing technical problems, my talk went over very well.

 Picture:  My TEDx talk.  I'm just getting warmed up, after sining my theme song.  Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China

I'm not really happy with my talk.  It was too scattered.  I tried to say too much in too little time.  Changing the world, having fun, what China has given me, making bull whips, language discoveries, and our new language learning program.  Too much for a twenty minute talk.

Picture:  My TEDx talk.  Blowing up the cows at Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China

Picture:  My TEDx talk at Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China

Picture:  My TEDx talk at Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China stressing the need for bicycle helmets.

Picture:  My TEDx talk at Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China.  Introducing the vocabulary learning game.
                                                                                                                 -Ruth Anderson photos

But I sure enjoyed the instant audience feedback.  What a treat.  What a great audience.  I feel so supported and appreciated by these young people.

Picture:  instant audience feedback at TEDx Jiangnan University. Wuxi, China

Actually, that's an understatement.  What a wonderful audience.  I'm not worthy.

Picture:  instant audience feedback at TEDx Jiangnan University. Wuxi, China

Picture:  instant audience feedback at TEDx Jiangnan University. Wuxi, China
                                                                                                              -Ruth Anderson photos

But I don't want to give the impression that TEDx Jiangnan University was all about me.  They had a great lineup of interesting speakers.  Vicki, in the picture below, introduced her animation company and showed their promotional video about Wuxi.  A very interesting award winning design student gave a great talk, and we heard from a student who had spent a semester at sea aboard a cruise ship.  All in all, a great lineup and a great show.

Picture:  Vicki introduces us to Angel Animation, her company and its product.  TEDx Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China

During the break, the organizers asked us to perform a couple of songs.    I always have a problem with the technical stuff with this kind of performance.  It's really hard to perform with no stage monitors and a human microphone stand.  But this is the world's most forgiving audience.  So we just had fun.

    Picture: David and Ruth perform during the break at TEDx Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China

After the TEDx show, the organizers and speakers all went out for the traditional Chinese feast.  A great end to a great day.

Picture:  TEDx Jiangnan University organizers and speakers go out for the typical Chinese feast after the show.  Wuxi, China
                                                                                                                             -Ruth Anderson photo

Picture:  TEDx Jiangnan University organizers and speakers go out for the typical Chinese feast after the show.  Wuxi, China   

On Another Subject Entirely:

Before we fly back to Canada at the end of this week, Ruth and I wanted to get our teeth cleaned again.  I managed to convince Panda to have hers cleaned too.  That wasn't easy, but a worthwhile argument.

Picture:  I held Panda's hand while she had her teeth cleaned.  The least I could do. Wuxi, China. Picture:  I held Panda's hand while she had her teeth cleaned.  The least I could do. Wuxi, China.
                                                                                                            -Ruth Anderson photos

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Picture:  Freshmen take their military training in the pouring rain.  Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China

Chinese Word of the Day: 推迟
(tuī ch literally "push" + "late")  v. postpone; defer, delay

June 23, 2011 Prototype of the Language Learning Tool

At last we have a prototype for the drag and drop vocabulary learning tool (Okay, let's call it a game and make it sound like more fun). This was inspired by the map learning game I posted earlier, the game that took me from knowing vaguely where the countries of the Middle East and Eastern Europe are to being able to place them on the map with 100% mastery. 
     Thanks and congratulations to everybody involved, primarily Wang Xu, who did the programming, Ruth Anderson, Chen Fu (Frank Chen), and Wang Xuan (Panda) who joined me in recording the voices for the audio.

Click on the picture above to take our Chinese vocabulary board for a trial run.  The way to use this is NOT to treat it as a test.  It isn't a test.  Just place the words on the board by trial and error as fast as you can, then refresh the board and do it again.  The positions of pictures and words will randomize with each refresh, so you will have to try to associate words and characters with pictures rather than locations.  See how long it takes to get to the point where you can place them all without making a mistake. 
     Once you have words on a square, you should see two icons, a male and a female.  Click on either and you should hear an audio file of the words.  There may be a delay before it plays, depending on the connection speed.
     You may need to allow your browser to run Java script for this to work.  If you drag a word onto the board and it just sit there, that's the problem.

If you have a child who's learning to read, or a Chinese child who is learning English, have them click on the English version.  See how long before they can place all the words without making a mistake.
     The next step for us is to develop a web based platform to let anybody create a vocabulary board and add it to the community resource without needing any programming skills.  Stay tuned for that.

   

Graduation and Military Training Season

I always feel sorry for our freshmen.  They have to go through two weeks of military training, which I'm told consists mostly of learning to march.  This year it's being done at the end of the second term, rather than in the Fall, because too many of the military were tide up with Expo.

Picture:  Freshmen hold umbrellas during military training.  Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China
At least they were allowed to carry umbrellas. It was pouring rain for the military training.

Graduation Ceremony

We were actually on our way to take a look at the graduation ceremony when the soldiers in the rain caught our attention.

Picture:  This year's graduates completely fill the gymnasium for their graduation ceremony.  Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China
The graduation ceremony was strictly for the grads themselves.  There was no room for friends or family to watch.

Thanks for the Dinner

Our Chinese teachers, Chen Fu (Frank Chen) and Carolyn insisted on treating us to a dinner. 

Picture:  Left to right, David Scott, Chen Fu, Ruth Anderson, Carolyn.  Our wonderful Chinese teachers.  Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China

Chen Fu and Carolyn have been great teachers, and good friends. With their help we've made a lot of progress.  We're so sad that they won't be available next term.

A yellow blossom on the campus of Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China

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