Archive for August, 2010

My scooter

Do you know how hard it is to get this thing on its stand?

It’s red and it’s fast (probably) and it’s super super terrifying!  And cute.  Mostly cute, since it’s not the scooter itself that’s scary, but rather the other people on the road.  However, I took a ride to the bank last week and that was no problem, even the driving up on the curb to park bit.

And since I know my dad is curious, it’s a KYMCO 100cc Idol.

And Kelly, the picture’s for you!  You can see my helmet isn’t red, but it looks pretty badass and intense, right?!

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My favorite days are test days because I teach a lot less.  Better even than test days are days when the oral test and the paper test are in  different lessons, since I get the ease of a test day, but don’t have to grade the test.  Before you turn away in disgust at my laziness and declare me unfit to be a teacher, let me try to redeem myself.  Oral tests are also my favorite days because I get one-on-one time with students (two-on-one time for the higher levels).

It’s a great time for me to see how they’re doing and offer more personal encouragement and congratulations.  It’s also a good time for checking and correcting pronunciation (and trying to make it stick), but sometimes, it’s just a good time for practicing my poker face.

The oral test I had on Wednesday was in my oldest normal class, whose theme for this level has been technology, which means a lot of futuristic spacecraft and food pills (as well as the atrocious “intelligent” pill).  I called Jeff and Eric out as the last oral test pair, and as they looked at the prompt picture, they asked each other questions according to the forms below it.  The answers were free-form, and as with anything, the more you put in, the more you get out.  These two are some of the best students in the class, and when Jeff asked “What is the astroman doing?,” I knew I was going to get a good answer.  Eric responded by telling us that he was repairing the spacecar, and I had to regretfully inform them that he was an astronaut and it was a spacecraft.

Those are the kind of answers I love, though: both of them understand what the word means and and are working with the compound nature of those words.  If I may be technical (and possibly wrong) for a moment: they’ve grasped the morphemes and how they relate to the meaning, and when they can’t call the actual word to mind, they create a (phonetic and semantic!!) approximation.  I get the feeling that this is what most of my Chinese is right now: close and logical, but not quite right.

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Downs and ups

Today I rode my scooter alone and unsupervised for the first time, and right off the bat I crashed as I tried to brake but instead accelerated right into two ladies and their minivan.  I went down onto my side, so I didn’t hit either of them, but I scraped a little paint off their car and scuffed my foot.  They were very kind to me, and kept telling me how lucky I was and to be careful.

Then the scooter wouldn’t start, probably because I knocked the oil line loose, but I took care of that, the loose throttle, the faulty speedometer, and what was probably a smog check all for the low, low price of $10.35.  My mood was good again!

I slowly rode out to the empty streets north of my place, and practiced driving for a little.  My confidence is now higher, but I still had to turn back at the main road and forgo the bank for today.  It’s a one lane road for about a block, and it’s an access road to the freeway… I didn’t feel like dealing with that after my earlier experience!

Hopefully I’ll be able to get a picture of my scooter soon.  It’s red and adorable and I have a repair shop for it right across the street.  What more could I ask?

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French Wal-Mart

Today I went to a going-away party where I had my first experience with the South African barbecue tradition (braai).  It was delicious and I’m a big fan.  I also had fun getting to know the new teachers, but this post is more about my subsequent trip to Carrefour to stock my new refrigerator.

I saw some interesting things and probably missed great deals because I still can’t understand even enough characters to read a newspaper (something I’m reminded of nearly every morning as I wait for my 蛋餅 at the breakfast shop), but some things need no words.

However, since I only have a cellphone camera, let me help clarify that picture a little: that’s nearly a million kinds of mushrooms.  A mountain of mushrooms.  More mushrooms than you can shake a stick at.  It had no price on it, though, and I had already bought some unfamiliar vegetables (edible rape, anyone?  I really did buy it; how could I not?), so I refrained and decided to try it another day.  I did wind up buying some of those abalone mushrooms, though!  I’m excited to try cooking them all up tomorrow.

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That castle on the right is an elementary school.

My current bank is a 30 minute walk north past an immense elementary school and through some large green fields.  They’re quite lovely, although the humidity increases exponentially the closer you get to them.  Recently, I discovered that the bus can get me there in 5 air-conditioned minutes, but most of the time, I just walk.

The last time I went, it had just rained and the snails were out.  Or rather, THE snail was out, and it was huge.  I took a picture for you.

Genus: Massive. Species: Snail.

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