Life lately

I teach my history classes in an extra classroom. When I arrived for class I discovered two students there before me. One of them was changing - taking off his long underwear. I guess he was too warm? I can't ever remember wearing long underwear when I was a kid, and certainly never three or four layers of pants. The Chinese do, however! They'll probably wear more than one layer into May, even when spring is well underway. They think I'm crazy for wearing one layer all winter!

That student should have kept his long underwear on, because while temperatures hit hit the upper 70's two weeks ago, they're back down to the 40's or 50's during the day. The only problem is that the government turned the heat off on March 15 so us laowai need to pile on the layers at home because our apartments are cold! I've been sleeping under five blankets at night and the forecast for tomorrow says snow.

Here are a few happenings of late.
  • I helped out at a new English corner on Tuesday night. It's held in a dental clinic for the employees to better communicate with their foreign patients. We practiced scheduling appointments, accepting new patients, and calling and leaving reminder messages. I love my students, but it was a nice treat to work with adults. The facilities are really nice and we should get some free or discounted cleanings at some point.
  • I studied Noah during a meeting this week and then saw a rainbow splayed across the wall the very next day.
  • The McDonald's on our corner has a new walk-up ice cream window that serves chocolate soft-serve and four flavor twists: mocha, green apple, strawberry, and grape. Mountain Dew is now available at your favorite corner drink shop for the same price as a Coke. You left Beijing too soon, Mark!
  • Up until this point I've learned Chinese by listening, studying a little on my own, and using language CDs but Anna and Andrew and I are going to begin taking Chinese lessons soon. Soon = when we stop procrastinating and go take our language placement exam.
  • Beijing met it's blue skies target for 2008 on November 30. Beijing has a big pirating problem, and I don't just mean DVDs, fOakleys, and North Fa(r)ce. Government statistics should be taken with a healthy dose of MSG, if you know what I mean. Even so, I think I've seen more blue skies lately than when I first arrived. We haven't seen any sandstorms yet this spring, either.
  • We are beginning plans for our massive annual Easter egg hunt. Last year we hid somewhere in the range of 3500 plastic eggs that the students could redeem for candy and money.
  • Anna and I are excited to visit Sichuan Province with the Joel, Mary, and baby Jacob at the end of April. We'll be visiting Mary's parents in Chengdu and her hometown of Nanchong for five days.

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