Apr 14, 2012

Another night in China

I've been living in China since early August.   I have been unable to access my blogspot but I have extensively blogged at this site: http://www.travelpod.com/dashboard/entry/1/1306011319    Many entries to read and many hundreds of China pics if you care to check it.

I finally found a way to escape the daily grind of American life which I lived for 30 years.   After working like a dog and enduring stress related medical problems I decided to become an Oral English teacher in a Chinese University.    I work three part time days per week and get a free place to live with bills taken care of.  My pay is 800 dollars per month which allows me to save a couple hundred.   Holidays are paid.   Life is great.   I miss the states but the expectations and work kept rising every year (from the standpoint of a public school teacher)   and I took a year off in order to learn more about China.

   Working in China is a better deal for me so I believe I will stay here for a while.     I still plan to retire in my truck camper but I will put this off for another 15 years hoping that I will receive some sort of pension.

Please go to www.travelpod.com  and search "albarnes" to see my current blog if you care to keep in touch.    I plan to continue my blog here in the near future.   But for now just go over to Travel Pad to check it.


Al Barnes

Mar 15, 2012


I found a way to access Google.   Yes I'm still in China and loving it here.   I'll try to ad a long story here real soon

Jun 28, 2011

Oh shit it is time to leave here... June 27th, 2012

I have six days left in the valley that I have came to love.   Yes,  I made the decision to leave due to age old longings of teaching in the far east.   I know that I am choosing the correct path yet my emotions are making this more difficult every passing day.    June in Cache Valley is a spectacular time and I have enjoyed my forth June here most thoroughly.    So now on to store my stuff and make a temp-move to Dallas for a month,  then off to China,  and all points in-between!  Vegas will be hit in mid July as my daughter and grandson accompany me for a three day weekend at the Circus.   A three year old on his first plane experience will make his ticket price more than worth it.   My daughter hasn't been able to fly much either,  and I know they will enjoy the lights of Vegas,  a city that I have never been as well.

Ar this very moment I am trying to sit through some Robert Altman film,  which is one of the films that Paul Newmans website does not promote or mention a whole lot.   After witnessing many lame futuristic movies from the 70's,  this one is really no surprise.  

The place is looking a bit lonely now since I have moved and sold much of the arrangements.   Tomorrow more of the heavy stuff will be going,  but I plan to save the TV and the couch for last.   It almost feels like I am in the last days of the losing side of a war and plans and goals are happening all at once.   The place needs to be clean and vacant by this very Sunday,   and there is still a million things to do. I have a snake that needs a home,  and a small aquarium that needs to be vacated.   My bikes will be safe,  (motor and pedal) and many things still need to be purchased on ebay in the next two days and then I will send them on.   Like the fall of Saigon it seems,  cept the survivors won't be jumping from my roor onto helicopters.   And I must leave the place clean for my kind land lady.

Mail has got to be handled,  people and entities need to be paid,  and some need to pay me.  The doctor has to fill out my Chinese "Foreign Workers Exam",  give me shots,  then prescriptions for a year in advance,   then I have to gather the reciepts and send them to  the place that will reemburse me for the expenses,  which is really a cheesy annuity corp which I opted to pay into rather than having first class insurance.   Its more complicated,  but its cheaper unless I happen to get really sick,  then I know those weasel-fucks will squirm their way out of paying anything of major expense.

I will write and post pics very soon...

Jun 12, 2011

Only passenger on plane

--Sent from my Virgin Mobile!

Sent from my Virgin Mobile

Only passenger on plane

--Sent from my Virgin Mobile!

Sent from my Virgin Mobile

Jun 7, 2011

June 7th, 2011

Got my 1981 Honda CB 900 Custom running well,  inspected, registered,  and washed/polished!   She runs like a bat and is begging me for a road trip.    Thinking about heading north to Montana,  then half-way across the state to the East to Billings.   Then 100 miles directly South from there is "Buffalo, Wy." where my son lives.    I plan to take it easy and ride for three days.   Still not a definite plan but soon might become one.  I'm looking forward to a road trip actually.     I also would like to head from Buffalo to Sturgis, South Dakota,  and way on down to my home state of Texas.   That trip would be about 2500 miles and take a week and one-half.    I do worry to try for a long trip as the bike is 30 years old,  but the engine is smooth as silk and the mileage is only 20,000.     This bike has 100 more pounds capacity than my last bike, a 2000 Kawasaki Concourse.   I wasn't a big Concourse fan,  and when I got home to ride the Honda,  I instantly put the newer bike up for sale.    To be fair,  the Concourse wasn't set up correctly and had some major death issues at cruising speeds.   I kept her down below 70 and managed to live!  LOL!  

Thats about all I have going on,   still practicing the sax of course and improving daily,   did manage to send off a giant baritone sax and build a very odd but strong box for it.   The sax is going to Germany after all.    I still have a couple other things to send out tomorrow.   EBAYing is nice when you get the money,  but sux when you have three bulky things to box and ship and fill out customs and postal forms and crap.    I still manage to ship all merchandise within 2 days of payment.   Its good for business.   I can't wait to get to China and buy up some cool stuff wholesale from the source,  then flood EBAY with the stuff.   Found out that the earliest I can move into my apartment in China is August 20th,  so a long bike trip should be a way to pass the time.

Jun 4, 2011

June 3rd, 2011

One week into summer time and its been fun!  Partying a bit more,  watching half the episodes of "Cheers" in one week,  playing boring classical arpeggios in the morning while drinking tea and blowin' out some cool Jazz in the evenings while drinking Dark and Stormies (1.) and Gin and Tonics.

  Tonight I just obtained a superior Jazz mouthpiece, a Rosseau 6*,  which has a wide as hell opening and a much bigger inner chamber than I am used to.    I usually play a very old but well sounding Selmer C* mouthpiece with my ancient 1938 King Zephyr, which is a true, famous, professional Sax.
  I love the Selmer mouthpiece for it's sexy quietness,  and the dark sounding tones that it makes.  But this Rosseau is a true Jazz mouthpiece.   Ya got to bite down and bend the reed hard.   Since my chops (embrouche) is strong now;   I can bend and play all sorts of nuances to my sound.   I also bought a cheap old " Buescher 400" for next to nothing.   This old "400" was once a highly respected Jazz horn,  but when the Jazz age stopped with the rock n roll and the British Invasion.  The once proud Sax makiing companies like Buescher, King, and Martin,   all started making band instruments for companies like Selmer, Leblanc,  and others.     Turns out that I found a 75' "Selmer Signet",  that is totally a "Buescher 400",  in everything but the name.   This old sax really rocks!   Has better action than my old King Zephyr, which is worth 5 times the price of this old Signet.      I plan to take the Signet to China,  since I have little money into it. But  I will keep the great antique King Zephyr at my parents house for safe keeping.  

Tonight I experienced the Rosseau mouthpiece with the "Signet" (which is an intermediate and not a professional horn),  but I rocked the Logan canyon with it's incredible tone.   I blowed the G scale and created various Jazz songs which were completely improvised.   We reached the hight of Sax playing ecstasy!,   while the sax kept speaking louder and more confident.   She was quite the singing angel,  whose many incredible voices permeated the air with her unique prowess and ability.   I never want the sweet Signet to leave me,  but if she does,  I'll just pay the bucks for an original Buescher 400.
The two hour long jam was indescribable.  I was a life changing experience to say the least.

   Last night my friend Mike and I went to an open Mic night at the local bar "The Beehive" (yeah the name needs help),  and took turns with the host playing guitar and singing.   I haven't performed in front of people in over 15 years, but since the environment was low key,  with most patrons at their tables lost in conversations,  I managed to play and sing for about 20 minutes without stressing too much.  I haven't play guitar in a few months,  so I let my voice do most of the work.  I'm not ready to perform on the sax yet,  but should be ready once I hit the Chinese coast.   I'm in touch with a few musicians there and I plan to practice with them and take it from there.   My goal is to play in Shanghai's  famous "Cotton club",   but that might take a while.   I am fully content just playing alone as I have done for the past 15 years.

Today I finally got my ass on a bike for the first time in a week,  the weather was nice and I managed to do a few errands then do some fish tank maintenance in my classroom.   Ran into 4 of my best students and the old Persian man who bought my Volvo a few years back.   The guy "Hamin"  still loves the car and has gotten a couple speeding tickets due to the cars' need for speed.  He got busted doing 110 mph on his way to Salt Lake one day,  it's a wonder they didn't put him in jail.   But Hamin is a nice old man with a gift of gab so he got off cheaply with a $450. ticket!

Again:  This was the best night of my Sax playing career,   I will soon go to sleep and dream about all the beautiful sounds that my new horn and mouthpiece have allowed me to play.

May 28, 2011

May 27th, 2011 (last day of school)!

Put snakey up for sale.   I really want to find her a good home,  She's over 9 feet and weighs around 40 pounds,  the money isn't important just the future of "Snakey"  the nameless boa constrictor..

God I'm going to miss Logan, Utah.   This is one of the best places to live in the U.S.A.,  and I've been to most of the country.   I believe I previously mentioned that Logan has the lowest crime rate in the country for Metro areas over 100,000 population.   Its because most of the kids have two parents at home,  and they are very dedicated to raising them with respect for others.   Most of the local populous are LDS or Mormon folks.   Although,  I am a hard drinking Texan and a Taoist/Buddhist/Christian,   I find that the Mormons follow Christ's teachings better than many other so called Christians.   I won't say they are perfect,  but most are kind hearted and accepting of others.  Their kids are a delight to teach.   No one really discusses religion to me unless I bring it up.   I am glad that the Mormon Church is growing,  and I attribute their success to their overall good and positive karma.

I love this place so much that I decided to stay for the entire month of June and get to know the local scenery a little better.   This will include hiking in the mountains as well as bicycling everyday in order to get in better shape.  The cool climate up here invites exercise in the Summer and discourages it in the Winter.    After this long winter... I noticed that I  am quite the fat slob,  and will hit the bikes tomorrow morning.   Once in China,  I will have to climb 5 floors of stairs just to get into my apartment,  not to mention the 20 minute walk to my classroom,  where more stairs beckon.

Been Jammin on the Sax like a fiend of late,  and plan to get in with the Chinese blues and jazz scene on the weekends,  which means I need to gain a lot of talent in a short amount of time.   I still remember my old skills,  but Jazz/Blues is another subject altogether.    Once in China I plan to jam on the roof of my building late at night and really enjoy myself.

Tonight I am making my Chinese Hot and Sour Soup,  which usually calls for copious amounts of tofu,  but I am substituting with chopped up hot dogs and mushrooms.   I've done this before and it completely rocks!   Learned this hotdog trick from the "Pho" Vietnamese restaurants down in Hawaii.

Here are a few pics I took off my front porch of the local mountains which came out nicely due to the sun and cloud event we had this evening.



May 21, 2011

May the 21st, 2011 (the day of the rapture)

Ok,  so the damned rapture never materialized.   In fact,   I didn't even see one single angel.   I feel short changed.  Deluded Bastards, making all these promises and not keeping them.   Imagine how stupid their followers feel?    Nuts like these make all religions look bad.

Glad to see that my fellow Buddhists and Taoists don't support cults like these,  nor do they condemn non-Buddhist/Taoists to hell,  nor do they kill non-Buddhist/Taoists because they are not the same religion.
We believe that after a couple thousand life-times your souls will come around to our way of thinking!

School has one week left,  things are going good around the school front.  Since I received my "Level 2" Utah teaching license this week (I had to jump thru many hoops and spend many bucks),  this happy camper will be welcome back in his adopted state upon return from the orient.   Actually,  as long as I get back by 2015,  I will be welcome to work in this great State.

John Coltrane  my main influence.

The only thing that occupies my mind anymore is playing the Sax.   I can't explain it but can only describe it as "being driven".    Although I have been a musician for years and years,  I have never practiced as much as I do now.   I don't read, watch movies,  or do anything I used to do...  Just practice, practice, practice...   I love it.    I've been practicing the sax for 2 months now, 2-3 hours per day and the results are apparent to me.   I can sight read and play slowly even the more difficult pieces,  and spend lots of time just making up my own stuff using different blues scales.   My intonation is sounding almost like a voice with all its nuances and inflections.  These last two concepts were things I wasn't taught while playing in the high school marching band.    I'm getting bolder and playing on my front porch for all the passers by and they seem to enjoy it,  although I play quietly due to shyness.   I need to gain some more skills before I get to China,  so I can play freely in the parks and on the rooftops at night.   I am even considering starting or joining a small time jazz band for weekend fun at the jazz clubs in Shanghai or even my new home city.   (Jazz is still catching on in China,  most prefer American cheese music they can practice Karaoke with). The upscale Chinese are discovering the idea of Jazz,  which has been the most popular and played music of the 20th century by far.    I can hardly stand to listen to anything else but Jazz anymore.  From ancient "Ragtime" to "Swing", "Bebop", "Fusion", "Modern Jazz",  I simply love and appreciate it all.

Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong  the greatest jazz player of them all!

May 14, 2011

May 14th, 2011

Friday was a short day at Logan High,  we were dismissed at 12:10 to watch a spectacular don't drink/text and drive presentation given by the local law enforcement officers.  They had wrecked cars, simulated drunk and dead teenagers,  and the other survivor gets medic-evaced by the helicopter that lands on our football field.   The temperature rose to a blistering 78 degrees in the bright sunshine.  The students in the audience were acting like they were dying of heatstroke..... Sissies!   Even the slight cool breeze didn't keep them from bitching and moaning.   Most were busy texting on their "cellies"  while the police spent over an hour presenting a very excellent, realistic crash situation with sad music, sirens, 911 calls etc.    I was enjoying the show, save for all the moaning of these heat abused students.
Notice the snow on the mountains in the background?  Two weeks ago we had a three day snow event here....in May!   Mountain weather is very interesting to me.

Gotta love the last two weeks of school, especially when one isn't going back for at least a year!

I came home around 3PM and found out that my friends Chuck and Melissa were coming to stay for the night,  all the way from Northeastern Wyoming!   I was happy to hear the news,  but I really wasn't ready for it.   No biggie,  I had an extra room ready and let my landlord know that two of my friends were bringing two large, well trained, dogs into my house for the night.

  I managed to squeeze in a half hour of sax practice,  although I've been playing two -  three hours per night since my downstairs neighbors moved out.   The improvement one makes while practicing this many hours is apparent.   Music that I couldn't touch two weeks ago is easy to play now and I need to update my music library,  for more challenging pieces.   I really enjoy just playing blues scales and creating my own songs, especially after a few beers and I can let it loose.    Been alternating between my old Tenor "King Zephyr and my new 1949 vintage King Zephyr alto sax,  that I picked up on EBAY last week for only $500 bucks.    I can't imagine all the parents that buy crappy student instruments on payment plans,  when they could go out and buy a true professional horn for a third the money.  

   I took Chuck and Melissa (and dogs),  up to the trailhead of "Dry Canyon",  which is an excellent place to throw the ball to the dogs.    Lots of uphill climbing for the puppies,  which makes them much mellower when visiting my house later on.    We watched a gorgeous sunset which my camera failed to really capture.  This is all I could get out of it:

Then we all went to Chile's,  and finally got a chance to sit down and shoot the breeze.   Saw my friend "Mike" and his Chinese wife "Nina?" who looks like a model.   They are both excited by me teaching in China next year.   We came back to the house and watched a couple episodes of "News Radio",  which promptly put my tired self to sleep.   I fell asleep leaving my guests with nothing to do,  so I guess they went to bed.    Overall,   another day in paradise..

May 7, 2011

Saturday, May 7th, 2011 China!

Busy week,  taking care of getting my Utah teaching license renewed is more bullshit than I can imagine.   But it's nearly done,  so I will have the option of returning to my school district,  in 2012.

I received 4 job offers at Chinese universities this week,  and finally accepted a Job!    Yes Folks!  "Yours Truly" is going to be a "Foreign Expert" at a major Chinese University next year and possibly longer.   It sure is nice that my school district is allowing me the option of returning.   It was dam hard leaving a 50 thousand per year job.   I know thats not much in this day and age,  but it is far more than I've ever earned in a year and I'm proud to be a middle class citizen of the US of A!     Only problem is that they tax the living shit out of me so I can't afford much.     In China I will get a free apartment, all bills paid, and $750 for spending money....   Which means,  that I can travel by train every other weekend,   eat all meals at restaurants and still have a couple hundred left over.     I've talked to those that are doing this.     And instead of teaching 25 hours per week,  I will be only teaching 12 with few office hours to keep up.    This is a part time job.

I plan to see as much as China as I can in a year.   I want to learn to speak the language,  and enjoy the Chinese culture as much as possible.    I like most Chinese folks,  they have a good sense of humor.  Sure there are bad points and trade-offs,  but I am only looking for the good.    Plus I can learn more about my Buddhist and Taoist roots,  hang out with some Monks.    Pee wherever I want!   And travel cheaply on China's extensive train system,  which means I don't have to drive a fucking car everywhere I wish to go.   (I do want a small motorbike,  so I can explore the countryside of course).

China really is a great place to live.   Much safer than our democratic nation that allows people to get away with murder,  because we don't want to infringe on their "freedom".   Hell,   I want the "freedom" to walk the streets without getting mugged or killed.     I want my kids to have the "freedom" not to have drugs shoved in their face whenever they go to a party.   China works smoothy and simply.   Sell drugs,  you get taken to a judge,  who sentences you to death,  and your jailers take you out back and shoot your
sorry ass!   Justice served...      When the Country announces a 50 mile bullet train from one city to another,  it gets done within a year.   No bullshit,  no bond elections,  no labor unions.   DONE!
I think this is the only form of government that can get shit done.   Period.      Teachers actually have rights in this country.   Kids are responsible for their behavior or they are expelled permanently.   They don't dick around with hearings,  where the liberal lawyer defends the poor crack baby against the mean teachers who won't let the child express himself with a knife whenever he wants.   He just gets expelled and his crack momma gets life in a penal institution where prisoners must work for their room and board, and their relatives must provide them with food.    China is a very free country by comparison of what I am used to.     All Democracies work well at first,  but eventually degenerate into tyrannies.    Read your History folks.   I still love America with all my heart and soul,   but nothing gets done around here,  the rich get richer and the poor no longer has respect for the law,   they don't have much choice.   It's impossible to be a poor man and a law-abiding citizen.     Back when I was dirt poor I frequently drove illegally w/o insurance or registration.   Couldn't afford it.     This country used to be for the middle classes,   that was then this is now.    I'm going to China for many reasons.   I've just described one of them.    

Apr 30, 2011

April 30th, 2011

After many days of playing hard blues scales and practicing arpeggios and learning new notes.   After countless hours of listening to the blues and jazz greats, testify as they enter a new zone of timelessness.
I play exercises repeatledly and smash thru the book breaking new blues ground then covering the same ground over and over.  I can understand and hear jazz and blues quite well since it's all I really listen to anymore.   But I am faithfully following someone elses music and adding each inflection as the music tells me like some tape recorder set on the "unoriginal" button.

But tonight was magic.    First a steady stream, then a full chorus,  then ten thousand ideas fell out of my being and created sound-waves that were impossible to me just a few weeks before.   I felt as a bus station for the blues, which  passed  thru my horn in 4 different scales, each one telling a different story.
Blasting out original prose for the very first time in my saxophone history,   shutting off all cognitive thought and just letting it all flow.   This was like baptism gone right.

Today started as the basic Logan Utah Saturday,  when me and my old buddy Larry having breakfast and talking very little.  Larry used to be my pool shooting, drinking pal, but now I don't do that shit anymore.   So he tells me about the current events at the pool hall,  and I bore him with whatever comes to mind.   Larry had been a good friend and currently my only friend in this Mormon city.   He dropped me back off to my place at 9:00 while the snow was still falling.   I watched a bit of TV and dosed for a while... Boredom started to creep into my soul at this point.   The Saxophone and the Country of China are presently on my mind at all hours.

Begin more research on which Chinese town and school would most likely fit,  and decided to search for the places less polluted than some of my job offers have been,   Finally tired of the house and with the sun out, yet cold, I drove my trusty little Spanish scooter to the neighborhood grocery store.   I opted for the ramen and a few veggies to chop up into a great concoction of healthy lunch which couldn't have cost more than 50 cents.   I did add a chopped up hotdog like the Vietnamese do when they serve their "Pho",  and added an egg as well.   Damn I can live cheap when I wish to!   I made enough for two of course,  so I threw the rest into the toilet and hopefully it to will nourish something.

Did more internet research, applied to a few more places in the few non-polluted towns in China,  and read some amazing things such as:  I had to explain what a rainbow was to my students, and that there are millions of stars and not just a few bright ones,  to those who live in most of the Grey polluted Chinese cities".    I also read a few horror stories, but I doubt that China equals this country in "horror".

 Every hour or so,  I spent 20 minutes playing blues scales and new songs.   I would repeat this everytime my King Zephyr would call to me.   And lately its been calling me all the time everyday.   Two weeks ago,  my instructor showed me a new plastic reed,  and suggested I combine it with the old neglected ancient mouthpiece that I haven't been using,   Now I can play as quiet as a whisper and can control my sound till it sounds like voices from the great beyond or something.   I can still scream it out loud when needed, but its nice that its not always loud as hell.    I am getting along well with the Zephyr and its beginning to make beautiful sounds,  and even talking or screaming when I want it to.   I started out with just a generic honking noise.  

When darkness fell I stepped outside for a few,  and could hear the college kids howling and screaming about something,  this is the farewell to the school year weekend,  which explains the big polynesian guy staggering across my lawn looking for a place to piss while I was leaving to breakfast.   Spring is finally here in Logan town,  and things are beautiful again.    

Apr 21, 2011

April 21st, 2011

Is it already 2011?   Crazy!   Had an excellent day today.  Antibiotics for the past week finally seems to have kicked the "Walking Pneumonia" that I have been stricken with since January.   My voice sounds normal after three months of nasal/throat/lung infections.    This happened last year at the same time too.  This valley is so polluted during the winter when the heavy air has us sucking pollution for weeks at a time.   But now its spring time and I'm a happy camper once again!

The day went particularly well,  I had a lot of energy and the students were grateful to see me back to my old self once again.   Rained most of the day but I did manage to get out and go to my first Saxophone lesson in over 30 years!!!   My instructor, who is an old jazz musician, agreed to take me on, but wasn't so sure about my level of playing ability.   I did struggle through some sight-reading trials,  but he was convinced that I am at the upper intermediate level and started me with some hairy complex jazz scales and routines to work on before my next lesson.    I am so happy that he didn't start me off playing mundane shit like "greensleeves" (which is a nice song but easy).    He also helped me with choices of mouthpiece/reed/ect...   and technical crap that I needed to know.   I was worn out after an hour with this dude,  but he is one of the best sax players in Utah,   and I'm lucky to have his input and training. "Dan" was the band director at my school, but retired about two years ago and now plays professionally.

My Tenor sax is an old "King Zephyr",  which is a great old Jazz players Axe of choice,  but since it was built in 1938,  there are a few adjustments that the player has to allow for.   The sound is still incredible!   My Soprano (little clarinet looking sax),  is a 2010 model Chinese made "E.F. Durand",   and plays in tune and very accurate considering the low price I paid for it.   Many sax players are including the better Chinese horns into their stables.   They are far from perfect like the Japanese "Yanisagawa" brand,  but at one/tenth the price for a very playable horn.....   I prefer my Chinese Soprano,  and I play her everyday.    The big Tenor and the little Soprano both play in the B flat key so I only have to buy music for one instrument!   I play both horns about an hour each every day and within a year,  I hope to be incredible!     I used to tell me guitar students that "they will be incredible with just two hours per day of practice,  and it's always proven to be true."   I have no professional ambitions,  I just want to testify my sound loud and clear and preferably somewhere up in the mountains where the sound rings far and the critics aren't near.   But yes I am happy with the way my first lesson in 30 years went.   I used to feel that I had to play, but now I just want to play and improve.
And the teachers faith in my abilities gave my confidence a boost like I have never experienced before!  Therefore I must practice and have all these scales down by next Thursday or else!



Apr 19, 2011

April 19th, 2011 (day after TAX DAY)

First day in a month I was able to ride the bicycle to school.  It was warm enough not to have ice on the roads but still cold enough to pedal fast.   Any day that begins with a workout seems to go smoother.   I love the freedom of speeding thru town on my bike,  running red lights, hopping up and down curbs,  driving down the wrong lane when no cars are there,  just maximizing my bicycle efficiency, since the last thing an urban cyclist wants to do is come to a stop.  

I have so much to do in the next 6 weeks.   I have to sell most of my possessions,  get people to take over my fish tanks and snakes,  get the truck serviced,  and many more things.

Still not sure what direction to take.   I'm seriously thinking about hanging out in Wyoming and Texas this summer then taking a University job in China for the next year.   Chinese Universities start classes in August and I'm seriously considering spending some time working there.   I would like a few more fun travel experiences so I can have fascinating things to think about while I spend my final days as a hermit.
The pay sux,  but being on an adventure would more than make up for the lack of pay.  Plus all my housing needs would be paid for by China's communist government.

But I have made the conscious decision to QUIT THE MIDDLE CLASS.   Its just not worth it.   The middle classes get taxed to death,  have shitty health care, etc..  I can't afford a new car,  I can't afford a house,   yet I make more than the average family in this valley.   What happened to the middle class?   Hell,   lower middle class folks back in the 60's could buy a house and a car.    I don't have any debts,  don't go to bars/movies/restaurants,  don't have kids,   why can't $50,000 a year provide a good living?   I do admit I spend a lot of money on flying out of Utah (I've flown out of this state 4 times  in the past 9 months),   but still.    They tax me at 25% which is ten percent more than I was taxed when I made $34,000.   The richest only pay like %34 percent,  but have enough tax loop-holes to where they wind up paying nothing.    So why bust one's ass working in a high stress job for fifty grand per year?   My health is going down hill,   my stress levels are killing me,  I'm getting nothing in return for all this.    I would much rather live in a truck camper,  work part-time doing labor,  maybe make a few bucks from the internet.   And minimize all the stress factors that are doing me in.      I have quit the middle class,   the benefits don't come close to the sacrifices.  
           Sorry for ranting,  but the middle class is getting squeezed worse than ever before.   I quit.   Maybe keep catastrophic health insurance with a huge deductible,  in case I get in a bike wreck,  but I would pay far less per visit, if I didn't have insurance at all.    I remember seeing poor people paying $40 a visit to doctor back in Texas,   while, I (who had insurance),  had to pay $80 per visit.    Seems like only the rich and poor benefit in todays America.   Hell,  the money I would save not teaching 37 kids per class and the stress that involves,   would probably keep me from the doctors office all by itself, not to mention the sicknesses involved by having way too much human contact each day.  I'm done here.

          The University jobs in China I mentioned,  involve 12 - 18 teaching hours per week,  reasonable class sizes,   free room/board,  all bills paid,  free food, 2 months vacation plus plane fare.   And no paying income tax to the US,  who will use my hard earned money to buy bombs or feed crack whores,  or give subsidies to Fannie Mae,   or some other bullshit.  (Damn I'm still ranting)....

          Advice to young folks:   Make a plan to be either Rich or Poor,   nothing in between is worth wasting your time.   Think big or small.   Only those two extremes are worth your while.     Your politicians no longer care about you unless you are rich or poor.   Better yet,   go buy some swamp land and learn to live off it!   No one is going to give a hard worker a fair shake anymore.

Apr 12, 2011

April 12th, 2011

(photo by "usd.edu)

I'm back in Logan and my daily grind.   The trip back from Sheridan was fun since I had the airliner all to myself on the leg from Sheridan to Denver.   The steward recognized me from my trip there and asked me if he had to demonstrate the safety features again.    Pretty fun being the only one on a 30 passenger plane; I just sat in the middle of the back seat and enjoyed the luxury.

To follow up on my earlier observations about Wyoming,  I am still as impressed with the people as I was on the first day I was there.  Didn't encounter any rude person,  no one asked me "Where are you from",  I could walk into any establishment and felt treated as well as the locals.   I've never experienced this before, except down in Mexico or a certain chain of Islands in the Pacific.

Tough going back to school on Monday.  I just went through the motions has I have been doing all year long,  but I did talk to my Principal about taking a year off.   I plan to move to Wyoming and "LIVE IN A TRUCK CAMPER",  which has been a dream of mine for many years now.   I will have three monthly paychecks to live on ($10,000),   so I won't have to hit the ground running.  There are plenty of jobs in the hotel and education industry at the moment,  so finding a job should be easy.   I might start taking donations via Paypal (send money to my account at "albarnes707@yahoo.com"  if you are so inclined.     If this experiment should fail I plan to go back to my old job the fall of 2012,  unless the Mayans are right about things.    I also might teach in the orient should Wyoming become boring,  but I doubt I'll get bored in the first year.      I also want to spend the winter at 8000 ft in the Bighorn mountains on land accessible only by snowmobile or snowshoes.  I am full of ideas,  and I usually get around to fulfilling them.    My number one goal is to get healthy,  which is hard for me to do under a full-time stressful job.   I want to live a much longer life than this current lifestyle will allow.

Bought one of those Chinese saxophones off EBAY and had it shipped to the Mountain view Motel where I spent last week.   I have read good reviews about this horn and I must agree.  Being a Tenor sax player I was warned about the difficulties in playing the Soprano sax (which is about the same size as a clarinet).    I had little problem learning to play it and plan to play the Soprano many years into the future.
The case is 1/4 the size of my Tenor,  and can play notes so high it can wake the dead with little problem.   The Soprano is in the key of B flat just like the Tenor,  so I can play the same music on both horns.   I can also play trumpet music with it and hit the same high notes.

After being sick for the past month I finally acquiesced and went to see my doctor,   turns out I have "walking pneumonia" which will soon be kicked after a 10 day regiment of horse pill sized antibiotics.
He also included a bottle of Codeine cough syrup,  which is kicking my ass as I type.  Never mix two beers with two teaspoons of this shit!   My cough is gone,  so no more codeine for me tonight.

That's all for now,


April 12th, 2011

I'm back in Logan and my daily grind.   The trip back from Sheridan was fun since I had the airliner all to myself on the leg from Sheridan to Denver.   The steward recognized me from my trip there and asked me if he had to demonstrate the safety features again.    Pretty fun being the only one on a 30 passenger plane; I just sat in the middle of the back seat and enjoyed the luxury.

To follow up on my earlier observations about Wyoming,  I am still as impressed with the people as I was on the first day I was there.  Didn't encounter any rude person,  no one asked me "Where are you from",  I could walk into any establishment and felt treated as well as the locals.   I've never experienced this before, except down in Mexico or a certain chain of Islands in the Pacific.

Tough going back to school on Monday.  I just went through the motions has I have been doing all year long,  but I did talk to my Principal about taking a year off.   I plan to move to Wyoming and "LIVE IN A TRUCK CAMPER",  which has been a dream of mine for many years now.   I will have three monthly paychecks to live on ($10,000),   so I won't have to hit the ground running.  There are plenty of jobs in the hotel and education industry at the moment,  so finding a job should be easy.   I might start taking donations via Paypal (send money to my account at "albarnes707@yahoo.com"  if you are so inclined.     If this experiment should fail I plan to go back to my old job the fall of 2012,  unless the Mayans are right about things.    I also might teach in the orient should Wyoming become boring,  but I doubt I'll get bored in the first year.      I also want to spend the winter at 8000 ft in the Bighorn mountains on land accessible only by snowmobile or snowshoes.  I am full of ideas,  and I usually get around to fulfilling them.    My number one goal is to get healthy,  which is hard for me to do under a full-time stressful job.   I want to live a much longer life than this current lifestyle will allow.

Bought one of those Chinese saxophones off EBAY and had it shipped to the Mountain view Motel where I spent last week.   I have read good reviews about this horn and I must agree.  Being a Tenor sax player I was warned about the difficulties in playing the Soprano sax (which is about the same size as a clarinet).    I had little problem learning to play it and plan to play the Soprano many years into the future.
The case is 1/4 the size of my Tenor,  and can play notes so high it can wake the dead with little problem.   The Soprano is in the key of B flat just like the Tenor,  so I can play the same music on both horns.   I can also play trumpet music with it and hit the same high notes. (the Soprano is the little sax at the bottom of the photo)  [photo by USD.edu]

After being sick for the past month I finally acquiesced and went to see my doctor,   turns out I have "walking pneumonia" which will soon be kicked after a 10 day regiment of horse pill sized antibiotics.
He also included a bottle of Codeine cough syrup,  which is kicking my ass as I type.  Never mix two beers with two teaspoons of this shit!   My cough is gone,  so no more codeine for me tonight.

That's all for now,


Apr 6, 2011

April 5th, 2011


I simply love this windy state.   The mountains,  hills, plains, all conspire to amaze me everytime I come here.   The best thing about Wyoming is the people who live here.   They are pretty much straight forward and real.   I'm sick of people with artificial veils,  who have hidden agendas,   who have no real idea who they really are...  Most people I meet in Wyoming are the real deal.  Ask them how their day is and the answer you get is sure to be honest.  They seem to expect the same in strangers,  and are very welcoming to the strangers who they percieve to be like themselves.   "How are you doing?"  I asked someone today... "Shitty day but things could be worse" she said..  We both had a good laugh about it and the day was brighter.   The weather here seems to be windy and abyssmal for the most part, but with frequent hour-long breaks of windless sunshine.,    I just wear a windbreaker and lean forward as I walk.  Haven't been knocked down yet in the three weeks I've spent here in the past year,  but I'm sure it will happen.   Currently I am visiting my friends "Melissa and Chuck", up in Buffalo, which is located in the North Eastern part of the state,  close to the Dakotas and Montana.   My son "Logan", moved here in early January, I plan to move here on June 1st.   I learned alot from living in Utah,  but I need some new stomping grounds.  The Orient will be next!   The west is still calling me and China will probably be where I spend the golden years.

Yesterday, Chuck took me on a tour deep into the lovely "Bighorn" mountains,  which are a bit taller than the "Wasatch" range that I am used to.   We stopped at the pass at 9600 feet for a photo shoot, but the winds and clouds prevented much success in that arena.   I was also dressed in shorts and a bowling shirt,  which made the restroom break a study in fortitude as the below zero chill factor worked it's way deeply into all parts of my exterior being!     This last photo was taken as we approached the Big Horn range,  but the huge peaks were obscured by the clouds.   Tomorrow we are going out again and taking the snow mobile,  and we plan to take Logan with us as a token snow boarder!


Mar 24, 2011

March 24th, 2011

I checked my blog views today.  We are now averaging 16 views per day!   A massive hit compared to a year ago and only my mother looking at it.    I feel I owe my small audience more blogs and better quality in each blog.   I am now taking all pictures myself, unless it calls for something I can't do.   I will also add more recipes since I am a brilliant cook and only show you kind folks a tenth of what I really cook.   I will also force myself to write much more:   You readers patronage,  should spur me on much further than I've been able to spur myself.  And lastly:   I will try to whine less.  Sure I have disgust for my boring and meaningless existence,   but I will try to keep the depressing parts out,  so you can enjoy your lifeless re-runs you call lives, without me making it more sad and lacking. 

So on a scale of one to ten this week started out as a zero.   Three of my students turned on me the past Friday.   A coworker is on a war campaign against me.    My girlfriend (I never liked),  tried to up the relationship and failed miserably,  so now I have no one to hang out with.   My 3 month sinus impaction doesn't allow much sleep (feels like a train is wrecked in there).    And I spent another shitty weekend feeling sorry for myself.

Monday sucked as usual,  but the students were non-verbally apologetic.   Tuesday was ok cept I drank four gallons of coffee due to the lack of Monday nights' sleep.   I had to take a hot shower and drink a bucket of Chamomile tea in order to relax enough to crash at midnight.   Wednesday was better,  and I had my classes doing "fun for them" easy work such as collages and wire wrapping jewelry,  plan to keep up the non-instruction until Spring Break is over and gone.   I also slow cooked a lovely two pound round roast on the stove,  while I went out to play trivia at the local pub.  Nice to get out for once in the past two weeks.     I didn't have carrots,  and my potatoes were old,  so I put three onions in the pot, after browning the beef,   added some celery, wine,  and a beef bouillon cube,  and made a heavenly creation.   The best part about the roast is that I left the house and ate at the pub therefore;   I had to refrigerate the roast for a night and let it sit in the soupy, onion, wine mixture for a day before re-heating it all.    I did toss in a bit of salt and pepper,  Worcester,  and more black pepper.     The result was pure ambrosia of the beef gods.    Since the ample liquid made a perfect au jus sauce,  all that was required was the addition of a secret ingredient in order to pull things together.   CATSUP!   Only a couple tablespoons were required,  but this au jus made the beef (which I broke up and sliced, then returned to the pot for 30 minutes),  the best beef sandwich I can remember.   Since all I had were toasted small hamburger buns,  I only had three of them.  I will dream of this for years to come.   Remember:  Screw the potatoes,   put in one pound of onions to two pounds of beef.   I did throw in a stick off celery and was happy I did.  Needs no other veggies than these.

Tomorrow is Friday and the train-wreck in my nose has finally broken,  due to snorting a mixture of sesame seed and Melalueca oil (the latter is a strong natural antibiotic),   and has shifted down to my throat and lungs but appear to be on the way out.   Thanks to my friend "Maurice" an old Mormon artist, for recommending it to me.      Friday smells like a great day,  and I will try to write more.

Peace to all of you,


Mar 19, 2011

March 19th, 2011

Very busy week,  went on a field trip on Tuesday to Springville, Utah;  to view the Utah State High School Art show,   afterwards we got some lunch and went up to Ogden, for the Weber State High School Art show.   I had students in both of these exhibitions.   The three hundred mile round trip was long but fun,   dropped early that night only to wake at 6:00 A.M to do it again.

Today, I managed to get on the bicycle and sprint into town, to check my mail and pick up some provisions.   Had an excellent Japanese lunch at "Happy Sushi",    I had the "Lunch Box",  which consisted of grilled Salmon, tempura fried vegetables, 4 cali rolls,  salad,  and miso-soup.   A three course meal for less than 10 bucks.   I love this little place and the owners;  the decor makes  you feel like you're in another country, which is where I long to be.

Drove another 3 miles to Walgreens,  and headed back home.   Unfortunately I didn't wear enough layers,  and the cold wet incoming storm caused me to stop at the transit center,  and take the bus the last 3 miles to my place.  Hell,  6 miles is a pretty good ride if your pushing it hard enough and hitting hills.   I found that if I don't work out at least three times a week my circulation and mood suffers.   I'm a fitness addict for the rest of my life;  although I should work out more.

Its nice that Logan City has a nice transit system,  I do think they should charge a dollar per ride or something,   but the convenience of hopping on a bus instead of driving is always a nice option.  The bike carriers on the front of the bus are nice as well.

Came back to my place to write, compute,  and practice the Saxophone  (See the blog last fall,  bragging about my "1938 King Zephyr" Sax).  I asked my neighbor to pound on the ceiling if I get too loud,  she says she enjoys hearing me practice,  but I have no idea why?    Let's just say I have much practice to do before performing publicly LOL!


Mar 13, 2011

Odds and Ends from the recent trip to San Francisco

Feb 5th: 2011

Feb 5th, 2011:   Hanging out in Saint Francis by the bay for the first time.   This is one of the three nicest cities in the U.S. if not the best of them.   Boston, New York,  and Chicago come to mind,  but there is a freedom of the city by the bay that speaks out most forcefully.   Sure they pay to live here and deeply they will pay to do it.    And the cars, bicycles, skateboards,  walkers,  and cable cars continue to bring people here and there,   "hither and thither",  while planes cover the sky and the sailboats and ferry's criss-cross the bay with a certain urgency.   People are moving around in San Francisco.  They don't sit still because they need to be movin' in order to pay their ridiculous rents.  When you spend more than half your income on rent,  then you generally have to keep moving around,  generating that next months rent.   Again and again. 
What do these poorer people do when they get old and can no longer hustle to make ends meet?

Hanging out in the bar next to my hotel was like a step back in time.   Jack London and Mark Twain fully described this place,  and the place's intensity remains as it was 100 or more years ago.   People here live for this day.   They all seem to be content to be here and making it happen with little thought for the distant future.   Perhaps,   they will all make it big before they get caught in the government home trap,  or in other traps that are far worse.   This is truly a city of opportunity.   I don't think anyone can really starve here.   It's like a dream world that never gets cold,   never goes hungry,   never will die,   and never needs to sleep.

Mar 12, 2011

March 12, 2011

Had a great (near perfect) day.   Woke at 7:30 and went to breakfast at Angies with my old pal Larry,  where we discussed beautiful waitresses and fixing bikes and stuff.    Went home and slept off the pancakes, eggs,  and the rest.

Noon,  I re-awoke.   Made some tea,  lounged about,  did computer upgrade work, took a well-needed shower, then off to the grocery store, which I haven't seen for at least two months.   I have been avoiding buying groceries, while eating up much of my old dry beans, potatoes, stored meat, and whatever.   Now my cupboards,  needed some shopping.    I only spent $85 bucks,  but I am stocked for another month at least.    Amazing how cheap one can eat if one cooks for himself.    I only cook for Artistic (and lousy local restaurants),   reasons,  but it is quite economical, if one avoids expensive stuff that is usually bad for you.

Drove the scooter around the "Island",  the part of Logan City that I live in.  (Used to be a real Island between rivers many years ago).    Has some of the coolest places in town to live,  but since it's at the bottom off a wet canyon,   it gets damned cold.  My little 50cc "Derbi" scooter,   scooted my big ass around just fine,  and passed 40 MPH at one stretch.  This bike was modified,  and crazy  fast for a 50 cc, and sounds like an angry mosquito.  It was about 45 degrees out and refreshingly chilly.

Came home,  made a pot roast, which is still simmering in the pot as I write 4 hours later.  One should never hurry while cooking!  Play some music, have some wine,  let the food do it's thing,  just keep the heat low and check on things from time to time, tasting each checkup.

After much talking with many loved ones, via phone or facebook, while drinking a bit of wine and surfing old websites,  I started getting a bit nostalgic about a few old poems I wrote,  now deeply buried on Myspace,  which I plan to rescue, re-write and send over here for safe keeping.'

Here's one that I rewrite every couple years:

  • Ok,   that's one.   And it was first written in 1995,   I did a few more changes here in 2008,  and most recently today in 2011.

    Here's another written back in Spring 2008...

    May 2008:

    Observations of the Night:

    Copyright A.Barnes 2008


    I love the night,
    I love it's quiet, rich, subtle, clarity.
    I feel it's deep, all-knowing, beauty, and light.

    so still, so perfect...

    The depths of peace can only be fathomed at this time.
    Late at night,  is a journey through ideas and mist,
    when every smell and sound has it's own meaning.
    The night is a perfect time to wander and think.
    The quiet is formless, home of the organic things.

    The idea of death, and it's awful glow, often stab the air,
    with sirens of panic and angst.   Burning and fighting can always be heard...
    along the flashing streets midst nights of neon and wire.

    This is the pain of ignorance.
    This the pain of the daily riot.

    But this gorgeous fair night quickly returns to peace...

    Night-time, is a lovely black angel, full of good-will, and power.
    Her benevolence and humor are known to all who will listen.
    Her happiness and joy are felt by those who come clear.
    Her sweetness is almost beyond our perception.
    Her movement is silence, impossible to hear.

    Night!   You gorgeous black beauty...Please stop by and speak to me.

    Night!   You bringer of wonderful dreams...Speak to me!

    Night, O' Harbinger of the chance cards of the future...
    You cast out the wild dust;
     which emanates from the chaos of the day....

    All I ask, is that you continue to "speak to me" and never leave,
    and I will always hold you dearly!

    Lovely night angel, deliver us from this terrible world of daylight,
    bring us all hope from this sun's oppressive destruction.
    Lead us to all the dark secrets that you possess:
    Then wake us up gently,
    in the morning's silent creeping waves of light.

    And I will miss you deeply when you're gone.
    I will dream of your prowess, while crawling through the fiery day.
    As I struggle for thirsty existence, I will remember your peaceful beauty,

    When my work is done and all this shit is over,
    I shall return to you with perfect faith,
    and admire your timeless grace.

    A. B.  3/2011

    Mar 11, 2011


    --Sent from my Virgin Mobile!

    Sent from my Virgin Mobile

    Feb 25, 2011

    Feb 23rd, 2011

    Framing this one!

    Took the winners of the annual Utah Statewide Art Show to the Capital, to be honored by the Legislature, Senate, and Governor.   Had to meet each entity at different times, so it took most of the day to attend the meetings.   The State Capitol building in Salt Lake City is one of the finest, most ornate Capitols, in the country in my opinion.   This is mostly a photo blog,  since little else was interesting particularly.   I would like to mention that only about one out of seven entrants get their artwork exhibited in the show.    Only three of my students were allowed to enter their pieces,  ALL THREE WERE CHOSEN TO EXHIBIT IN THE STATE SHOW.  ONE WON AN AWARD OF MERIT!!!   NO OTHER JEWELRY PROGRAM IN THE STATE HAD THREE STUDENTS IN THIS SHOW!    Our school had more artworks actually make the show than just about all the other schools in the state.  Our school kicks ass in the Art Department.  Does any other public school in the nation have 3 full time visual Arts teachers?  We're talking Painting, Sculpture, Drawing, Photo, Ceramics, and Jewelry.  Band and Choir are not visual arts.

    I am proud to work with such excellence,  sorry that it will soon come to an end.   But it is time to go elsewhere,  stagnation and boredom are setting in.   I am no longer mentally stimulated by this place,  I have few friends, no family, the winter lasts 7 months,  and the air pollution is the 7th worst in the country. Time to move on..

    February 5th-11th, 2011

    I'm putting this one in a frame!
    Hotel Carlton Lobby

    View from hotel window

    Hall in the Carlton ($70 bucks a night)

    Inside the Hyatt

    Teachers milling about.

    Muir woods.. 
      I spent nearly a week in San Francisco, from the 5th  through the 11th of this month;  while attending the International School Services conference at the Hyatt (Embarcadero Center).   Stayed in an excellent old hotel on Sutter & Larken known as "The Carlton",  which I learned about from the "Trip Advisor" website.  This old hotel was built a hundred years ago, yet has been modernized just enough to enjoy it.  Every night they had free wine tasting with a jazz playing keyboardist (who also doubles as the concierge),  and the hotel guests would actually get to know each other.   I love this concept,  I was able to meet strangers from all over the world for an hour, while drinking a couple glasses of free California wine!  For a lone traveler like myself, getting to meet other guests is half the fun of being at the location.  The rooms were small, with thin walls,  but for only $70 per night?  In San Francisco!    After wine tasting,  I'd go the the "Fly Bar" next door and have dinner.  The "Fly", is located a few blocks from the worst ghetto in town (Tenderloin),  and a few blocks from the top of  "Nob Hill"  (where one can rent a crappy studio apt. for $2500 or more),  so the crowd is as diverse as it gets--great place for people watching.   The excellent, healthy food,  and the low prices, tend to attract all kinds of people.   Unlike the wine tasting,  I didn't socialize much at the Fly;  I would mainly go there and eat,  then go back to my room and be dead to the world by 9PM.   The conference wore me out.

    The first day I arrived it was 5 PM,   and I mainly stayed in my room doing research about the area and making plans for Sunday, which was my only day to play tourist.   I did manage to walk a few blocks (straight up a steep fecking hill) do buy a few groceries.  This old downtown grocery store,  located at the ground floor of an ancient skyscraper,  looked like something out of Seinfeld,  yet they had everything one could possibly need.   The kind store owner (who looked identical to Saddam Hussein),  was very happy that I bought "babaganoush" (eggplant/hummus dip),  he told me how to make it at home,  and why it is so healthy etc, etc..   Most middle easterners seem to be like this store owner.  Went back to my room,  feasted on "Babagonoush",  drank some strong California wine with a lizard on the label,   made my tourist plans,  and hit the sack.   5 years ago,  I would have partied to at least midnight, but that was then: now I'm old.

    Sunday 2/6  6:AM:   Called the tour company for a 1/2 day trip to see the "Muir Woods",   and have lunch in Salsalito.    We also stopped near the base of Golden Gate bridge for some photo opportunities.   It was nice to see and smell the ocean again!    Muir Woods,  is one of the last remaining Coastal Redwood forests in the San Francisco area,  and it seemed more interesting to me than the usual touristy sights.   We got to spend an hour walking through the forests of huge trees, ferns, etc... very magical indeed.   Afterwords, we went to the Artist, boating community of Sausalito,   where I spent an hour watching the sailboats do their maneuvers, while dreaming of my own past sailboats and experiences.  I would love to live in the bay area someday, but probably not in this life time.  After all:  The Bay Area ain't Texas is it?

    Monday 2/7:  Got to the Hyatt at the Embarcadero center at 8:00 AM,  after a screaming cab ride through the city. Once I arrived things got faster, I got my I.D. tag,   schedule of events,  international school directory,  and other stuff.   Sat down and circled each scheduled school presentation that I wanted to see.    Senegal, Sri Lanka,  Malaysia,  were at the top of my list.   Egypt, Saudi Arabia,  and Kuwait,  were at the bottom.   Lot to consider when looking at international schools.   Some like "The American International School in Shanghai",  pay very high salaries,  excellent benefits,  insurance,  and more;   with students from many different countries:   others are not so great.  For example: One of the schools in Bahrain, where  they payed little, offered mediocre benefits,  were owned by Bahraini nationals,   who were known to treat their staff like cattle;  all students were spoiled kids from the host country and could do whatever they want.  If the teacher doesn't like it,  out goes the teacher.  There are many bad international schools like this.  In order to choose the best schools for teachers I subscribed to a site called "International School Review", or I.S.R.,   to get the low down on these places from the reviews of past teachers and staff.   Hours of research were involved,  but I can discuss the conditions for teachers in at least 50 schools from all over the world.  Really made my scheduling easier,  but did cause me to cross many of the schools in attendance, off the list completely.  Gratefully so!

    Tuesday was the big day.   From 8 AM till 10 AM all the schools had interview sign-up tables in a large hall,  and over 1000 teacher candidates were unleashed upon the scores of  tables where the recruiters sat,  each teacher trying to score as many interviews as possible.   They would only give you a real interview if you met all their criteria, so they asked a few preliminary questions.   I went from school to school, often waiting in lines, only to hear, "Do you have any International Baccalaureate, experience"?  My reply of "I would be happy to take the three day course this summer",  didn't impress many,  so most of the History job opportunities,  blew by me like yesterdays blizzard.   After two hours,  I did manage to schedule 4 interviews.   I was a little bummed about it,  until I talked to a few other teachers who only landed one or two.   Turns out that 4 interviews was pretty good,  but not great.   The rest of the day,  I interviewed with 4 different schools,  2 in Shanghai, 1 in Kuwait,  and 1 in Senegal.   I didn't like the Kuwait idea at first, but I did want the interview experience,  and I did like the director of the school.   I got home way after wine tasting time,  so I had a beer at "The Fly",  ate a bowl full of greens and hit the bed by 8 PM.   In S.F. many restaurants serve "greens" instead of french fries.  I loved it!

    Wednesday was easy but important, because we were all hoping to hear good news from our interviews.  Much of the morning was sitting around the lobby, talking to other teachers,  and hearing the cheers of the ones who were offered jobs.  Seems that about half the candidates did get hired.  One older guy said that he had been to three other job fairs before he got his new job,  and he had international experience.   I was assured by the Superintendent of the best school in Shanghai,  that I was the man for his Art position during the interview,  but if one of his recruiters found a math teacher with an Art teacher spouse,  I would be squeezed out.   This is exactly what happened.    I didn't want the Kuwait job,  I turned down an interview with an Egyptian school.   So I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't have a high pressure job at an international school this year (of course,  all the schools have access to my resume and transcripts,  so I could hear back from places, as other teachers leave the schools).    I really want a lower stress job like University teaching in China,  where you only have 14 class hours a week,  but still get free housing and a small paycheck.   To get those jobs  you have to be in China to apply,  I plan to leave in early June.   Many people without teaching certification and Masters degrees teach in Chinese Universities,  the jobs are plentiful and few qualified teachers want to work for low pay.   I just want 3 or 4 day weekends so I can write, travel, and do research of whatever interests me at the time... History probably.

    Since I had no call backs or interviews,  I didn't go to the Hyatt on Thursday morning,  just had a nice breakfast at the Carlton Hotel,  walked to the Arab store to buy some tobacco.  Took out the big camera and did a bit of street photography,  then went back to my hotel and waited for the shuttle to whisk me off to the airport and back to the land of ice and snow.   It was one hell of a nice trip and I plan to hit SF again someday,  when I have a bit more time to see things.   I did enjoy the heck out of criss-crossing the city each day, running to appointments; while meeting other teachers who work in fascinating places, meeting  International school directors,  hotel personnel, cabbies, street-bums, shop keepers,  tourists and locals.

    San Francisco is one of the most interesting places I've ever had the chance to visit.    SEE MY NEW POST WRITTEN MARCH 13TH FOR MORE ABOUT THE SF. TRIP.