Monday, October 23, 2006

Lack of inspiration? Maybe too much.

My posts keep getting further and further apart. Part of the reason is that by the time I get done checking emails, replying, checking other internet things, and getting to my blog website, I don't really feel like posting something new anymore. It's the curse of the internet. Too many distractions on the way to your destination. But more than that, whenever I think about typing, I either think that it's all too boring or I don't know where to begin. I'm in some sort of weird limbo between normalness here. But mom kindly reminded me that I should blog even if I think it's boring because what is boring to me here is a good read for everyone there. So let's put some new life into this thing, shall we?

My classes have been going well. My Monday night class is the worst because it's three periods long instead of two. That one extra period gets me everytime. Angelyn and I teach that class at the same time in two different rooms, so we always try to plan together for it. Last week we decided that we didn't want to plan so instead we watched Chronicles of Narnia. If we started the movie at the beginning of class and played straight through all the breaks then we would have 10 or 15 extra minutes for checking roll and answering questions. The plan was for me to set up the movie on the projector screen in my classroom and then Angelyn would bring up her class after she called roll. Well I got to class and started setting up the computer and screen. By the time the computer turned on and I figured out which button to push to get the screen to come down and everything, I could hear Angelyn's class coming down the hall. Good timing. Then I discovered that the movie wouldn't play on that computer. What? I knew that we had played movies in those classrooms my first year at this school, so I wasn't sure what to do. Well luckily I had brought my own laptop as a backup. So I get out my laptop and plug in the S-video cable to the back of it so I can plug it into the classroom computer. Even though I had seen an S-video outlet on another computer in the building, this computer didn't have one. At this point I was starting to sweat because Angelyn's class was filing in the door, the movie wasn't working, and we had two and a half hours of class time to fill. Well the classroom setup has the red-white-yellow RCA video plugs, so I figured we could plug my laptop into that. So I put an adapter onto the s-video cord and plugged yet another cord from that into the yellow video plug on the classroom computer. Only the plug wouldn't fit because this computer is the only one in the WORLD whose yellow video outlet is a different size. So I run down to the first floor, get the key to open the computer in Angelyn's classroom on the second floor, and see that the video outlet is the right size. So I get my computer and stuff from the fourth floor, take it to the second floor, and start plugging it all in there. I got it all plugged in, but the video still wasn't showing on the screen. No one knew why, of course. At this point the students are all coming down from the fourth floor and filing into the second floor classroom, the video isn't working, and I'm starting to sweat a lot. The only other option is to plug a monitor plug from the classroom computer into the back of my laptop, but the monitor plug is the wrong size. It's too wide! After some frantic rummaging and a blessing from God, we managed to find the right cable stuffed behind the classroom computer and we plugged it into my own laptop. It worked! Great, so now we can watch the movie and everyone is happy. Oh, wait a second... what about sound? The movie is playing on my laptop now, so the audio is coming from the little speakers on the side. Not good for watching a movie in class. Well, every class has a microphone. The standard lapel mic that you see everywhere in America. The only thing we can do is turn up the volume on my computer and set the microphone directly on the speaker. The quality wasn't the best. Or near the best. It would have been better if I had an audio cable with me that I could plug from my headphone jack to the audio port on the computer console. But it didn't occur to me that I had a cable like that in my apartment, so we made due with what we had. Of course, after the movie I remembered that I had that cable. Oh well. Whatever. After all was said and done, instead of having 10 or 15 extra minutes after the movie, the movie actually went 10 minutes past the last bell. It was exciting, though. But now I know how to watch a movie on those computers. Bring my laptop and the audio cable, the rest is taken care of.

Last weekend there was a sports meeting here on campus. It's funny because everytime there is something going on, the foreign teachers are told about it about an hour before it happens and everyone is surprised that we didn't already know. "But it's posted all over campus!" In Chinese, of course. Anyhoo, we knew that there was a sports meeting that would begin Friday morning. We knew that it began at 9:00. But we didn't know that every student was required to attend so all Friday classes were cancelled. Yeah. Nobody bothered to tell me. I was getting ready for my 8:00 class when a Chinese teacher in the English department told me there was no class. Hmm, fine with me. Around 9 I went down to the sports field to see what a Chinese sports meet looks like. It looks something like this.
As you can see, there's not much organization to a Chinese sports meeting. Everyone just stands all over the track. They do have people with whistles and red flags to clear the track before the runners start a new race, but that's about as organized as it gets. They had races ranging from 100m to 5k. They had long jump, triple jump (which was more like a heave and then some tripping and then running some more because you haven't jumped far enough to reach the sand and then jumping into the sand), high jump, and shotput. Those are all of the events I noticed.

A few things that I loved about the sports meet: 1) The students had drums and gongs that they had to hit as quickly as possible while a race was in progress. The amount of cheering is apparently directly proportionate to your patriotism. I included a picture of some of our freshman friends with a gong. 2) It looked like every student in the bleachers was doing homework and turning it in. They were in fact required to write three "cheers" that would then be read over the loud speaker. My favorite cheer was "Our eyes look out over you now as you prepare to run this race. May you draw strength from our gazes as our hopes for you go up to the heavens." 3) Since we're foreigners then we're extra special. Apparently a cheer is powerful if WE read it over the loudspeaker than if a Chinese person does, so we were invited up into the press box to read things over the mic. Of course, Derek had a blast. We got to come up with our own cheers, so we combined the American and Chinese styles and said "Our hopes are with you as you run this race today. Now, ladies and gentlemen, let's get ready to rummblllllllllllleeeeeeeeeeee!" All the students started cheering, it was great. Derek was also fond of "Go big or go home!" but the students didn't ever seem to grasp the concept.

If you're wondering about those pictures, the first two are just of the general atmosphere at the track. The third is of our friends with a gong. The last one is of the girls who got to time the runners. They would lean out, hoping to hear the starting pistol, start their stop watches, and then stop them when their assigned runner finished. There were two girls assigned to each lane, so I guess they just averaged the two times.

Well, I really should be getting ready to go meet some peeps for lunch, plus I've typed a whole lot today. I'll try to keep up with things more often so you'll know every exciting detail. Just the exciting ones, though.


Grams said...

Welcome to the world of Audio Visual mishaps in the classroom :)

Looks like things are going pretty normal where you are!!

guymc said...

Post more pictures of you with your posts.... that would help the visual readers who visit your blog. Okay, also, it would just be cool to see you in your environment.