Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Running Everyday is Bad For You

Finally getting around to updating. I think it actually takes me about a month to collect an adequate number newsworthy stories (or those that I deem newsworthy) in order to post an entry. Anyways, I find that living outside of the US is the best way to realize how American you really are. I recently was talking with a student who told me about her plans to start running again soon but that she needed to limit her running because running everyday is "bad" for you. When I asked her why, she pointed to her calves and said that it was because if you run everyday then your calf muscles get bigger. Oh my. That would be horrible to have toned muscular legs. Good thing I've been lazy in China so I only run once or twice a week which must keep my calf muscles in a semi-atrophied state. Ha, apparently this comment goes along with the Chinese mentality that the more waif-like you look (as in I could break some of these girls over my knee with one hand tied behind my back), the more beautiful you are. Another thing...Chinese women are fanatical about hiding from the sun. Yes, it is true that the sun can cause skin damage and give you wrinkles, especially in a place where it is so strong like Panzhihua...but I saw a woman taking this too far the other day. She was riding on the back of a motorcycle carrying an umbrella...that was open in order to hide from the sun. Hmm...somehow I think the risks of obstructing the view of the driver outweigh the benefits from 5 minutes of sun exposure. Isn't a bit of daily sunlight good for you anyways? How about that vitamin D? That wasn't the first time that I saw parasol/umbrella carrying to the extreme though...I've also seen people open their umbrellas while sitting on the bus in order to block the sun coming in the window. I'm just waiting for the day when I see someone carrying an umbrella while engaged in basketball or soccer. Oh wait, girls here don't play those sports. Ha, they already find volleyball too painful for their arms. What delicate creatures they are!

In other news, I said goodbye to the GMAT after I took the exam in Chengdu. I surprised myself with a good score so no more studying for me...which actually makes me feel empty in a way. Looking back I spent almost a year studying on and off for the exam so now that I don't have to study I need to find something else to focus my attention on...Chinese?

Also, I have been having major western food cravings lately. I am not sure why since I just came back from Chengdu less than two weeks ago where I had lots of Pete's and Bookworm but I have been thinking about barbeques lately. Something along the lines of a grilled chili dog and some potato salad would be good right about now. Add in some corn on the cob smothered in butter and salt and a nice kebab and I would be a happy camper. Also some sandwiches! Reuben or Cuban? Mmm... I haven't been too hungry lately because it's been too hot and the food around here isn't appetizing when it's so hot so I think I've actually lost a few pounds since the pants that I bought when I was in the US are actually a bit loose now. I have discovered that wide leg dress pants are the best thing for a summer teaching wardrobe, especially when worn with Chacos. And I think my students must have thought I was dressed well during class this week because during the break of one of my classes they wanted to have a photo shoot with me. This means they took random pictures of me by myself and then photos of me with them also. Plus I caught a girl taking a photo of me when we went outside for our Earth Day activity and I put on my "100% paper hat" (made in China, bought in Bolivia, brought to China). That hat has evoked responses of laughter (workers at the noodle shop) and comments from others that it is either a farmer's hat or an old man's hat but I refuse to give it up! Mark my words, I am a trendsetter and soon you will see everyone with floppy straw hats on!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Rat's Tale (har har)

Oh you know you love the puns. Here's something extra for you if you do! My favorite line -- 'I asked a friend of mine, an inveterate punster, whether he punned while on dates. “Sure, I pun on dates,” he replied. “On prunes and figs, too.”'

Anyways, moving on to the rat's tale. So recently C. was doing battle with a rat that decided to occupy her home. She noticed that bites of apples that she would leave out were missing so she called up the Waiban and had the maintenance people come in and plug up a hole in her bathroom that she thought the rat was coming in through. She was avoiding taking any major action (aka getting a cat or rat poison) because she was afraid of coming home with a dead rat body lying on her floor and was trying to avoid a bloody scuffle between a cat and her rat. BTW, you would normally think that it was a mouse occupying her home, but it was a confirmed rat because although its body was the size of a plump mouse, there was a "telltail" sign of a long rat tail! One day she came home and was going about her business making oatmeal in the kitchen when she turned around and was face to face with Mr. Rat. He was perched on her shelf where she keeps her food and just stared back at her. C. began to freak out so she called M. who took about 40 minutes to get there, the whole time C. stayed there staring at the rat, perched on a little stool (afraid that if the rat came down it would...uhh...bite her feet?), trying to scare the rat into staying put temporarily so that when M. finally got there they could catch him. C. managed to keep the rat in place and when M. finally arrived they managed to scare the rat into coming off of the shelf. M. then proceeded to sweep it (yes with a broom) towards the door to get it out of the apartment while Mr. Rat ran frantically in all directions bumping into things. So eventually M. swept him out the door...but this is the kicker...Mr. Rat attempted to run back INTO the apartment! Apparently Mr. Rat had been living there for quite awhile and decided that it was his home, not theirs and that M. and C. should leave. So M. continued to sweep Mr. Rat down the stairs (from the 4th floor that C. lives on I believe)as Mr. Rat kept on trying to run up the stairs to get back "home." Finally M. was sweeping Mr. Rat down the last set of stairs and landing to get him out and a student comes walking up. This student apparently had an expressionless face (I am picturing someone like Frankenstein that is not smiling) and was just stomping up the stairs. So M. is there with his broom and rat and is about ready to sweep the rat down and out of the apartment and decides to warn the student with some yells of "lao3shu3! lao3shu3!". The student completely ignores this and keeps on stomping up to the first landing where M. is there with the broom and rat. And then...the student keeps on stomping and with one big stomp squashes Mr. Rat under his foot! As a result, M. and C. (who was following the action) shriek and scream and run back upstairs to C.'s apartment without looking back for the dead squashed rat. And the student Frankenstein follows them and apparently is C.'s next door neighbor! So the day I heard that story, I discovered another cultural difference. When it comes to mice or rats, they are like any other vermin (e.g. cockroaches, spiders, etc.) just squash them under your foot to get rid of them. But I'm going to say one thing, that I was as grossed out as C. and M. by this because I can imagine squashing a fat mouse under your foot getting very messy...ewwwww. I guess Mr. Rat is no longer going to be bothering C. anymore due to the fact that he met an untimely death under the foot of a student.

Side note: the other night at dinner we (L., C., M. and I) were laughing about farting. Yes, I wonder if we will reach an age when bathroom humor fails to amuse. Anyways, the idea was that in Oral English class or at English Corner we always do impromptu speaking (basically draw a topic on a slip of paper from a hat and speak about it for 1-2 minutes) and that how hilarious it would be if we did crazy impromptu topics. Such as "My Biggest Fart"...oh we just got a kick out of imagining our students receiving that topic. Because there is definitely a culture here in China that farting in public is generally fine (M. told us a story of a man in the bookstore right here in our own Panzhihua that demonstrated this) so maybe the amusing part is all in the American mentality (but then again, L. who thought our discussion was amusing is Chinese). And as a final note, today's Chinese lesson. If you wanted to call someone a "Fart King" or "Fart Queen" (aka someone who farts a lot) you can use the term "Pi4 Wang2" (yes, as in fang4pi4 de pi4!).