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 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.