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Wednesday
Feb222006

22 feb 06

Ah, the vagaries of internet connections in China. I've been off line since the 13th due to a time lag in renewing my 6-month contract with China-Telecom. Smart teachers selected the year option last fall. I was dumb and figured at the end of the first six months it'd be easy; walk in, sign up for another six months, pay and no problem. Wrong-O. They said, "You have to wait ten days," as the paperwork moves through the system at glacial speed. Live and learn 101.

So, you laugh, breath, write, paint, draw, read, create dynamic lesson plans, ride the bike, enjoy the sun and forget about posting to the blog and web stuff.

Actually, it's a bit of blessing, as you can well imagine, like going cold turkey, no painful withdrawls, just letting it be. No painful memories or anxiety about the future. Like sitting in meditation. Present.

English "circle" started this week. We meet with students for 1.5 hours one evening a week. The formal name for the event is "English Corner," but I prefer "circle" harkening toward a more genuine form of complete dialouge encounter. A place without sharp edges. Where shy students can take a chance without fear of losing face. Where all levels can gather in a comfortable space away from a structured classroom environment.

One topic suggested by a student was "Friendship" and many people shared their opinions and thoughts on the subject. One girl said, "Friendship is a source of pleasure." Another added "Friendship is joy." Yes.

Thanks for your understanding and patience. Enjoy and peace.

Sunday
Feb122006

12 feb 06

The Chinese Lantern festival under a new full moon, the 2,000 year old legend and a short memoir excerpt are in podcast #13 for your listening pleasure.

The sky is on fire with red, yellow, green, orange and white tracers blasting from the mountains as people pack streets lined with lanterns and dancing dragons celebrating the end of Spring Festival.

Flowers of light.

And a good time was had by all, give or take a billion laughing humans. May your lantern guide you well. Enjoy.

Monday
Feb062006

9 feb 06

Greetings O wise travelers of the ether...

Here we are settling into the aftermath of New Year fireworks, screaming tracers as students drag their young lives along cement caverns of hope. The Year of The Dog.

Listening to Coltrane, "Live at Birdland." Pure sweet jazz. No past, no future. Present.

Teachers returning from distant lands inquire, "Where did you go?" referring to the holidaze. Truth is option #1. The truth is powerful stuff. They aren't expecting it.

"We went to the northwestern area of Afghanistan and Pakistan with friends from SOGGY looking for a guy worth $25 million. He missed his dinner engagement and our drone missed him. 18 women and kids paid the price. Mercenary business is not everything it's cracked up to be. Bad food, terrible living conditions, poor visibility. But it beats bagging groceries down at the 5&10 or cleaning toilets."

"After that little fictitious adventure we returned to Kuwait to see friends, members of the al-Sabah family and pay our respects after the death of their uncle, the Emir. As you can imagine, everyone wanted control of the city-state and the in-fighting was more ferocious than an insurgency in Mesopotamia. You see, it's all about tribal position and power. Influence."

"Then," the story goes, "I returned to China and sat in a meditation cave for two weeks staring at a wall. I descended to hear people talk about their personal experience. Where they revealed their insights and new visions with clarity. Where they practiced love and kindness. I read their faces hearing joy in their voices."

Then I witnessed 15,000 students kissing their folks goodbye as blaring horns and traffic jams melted dreams and they poured into the campus dragging their belongings, new textbooks tied with twine and economy sized packages of toilet paper to dorms. Essential material for getting down to business.

Lantern Festival celebrations extends from the 11th through 14th. Streets will be blazing with red dancing glowing light in the wind. Delightful. Peace.

Thursday
Feb022006

2 feb 06

Whew, that's a mouthful of words strung out like an addict's revenge...for those of you following the train wreak aftermath of Sir Frey, or is it Fry-em-Alive we share these bits and pieces.

For starters his agent Brillstein-Grey literary manager Kassie Evashevski dropped him. It's hard enough to get one as we know from personal experience and now he's alone in the universe.

She said, "I think the confusion over fiction vs. nonfiction may stem from the fact that early in the submission process, James raised the issue of whether he could publish it as an autobiographical novel--ONLY, he said, to spare his family undue embarrassment, NOT because it wasn't true. I told him I would bring it up with a few publishers, which I did, and the response was unanimous: if the book is true, it should be published as a memoir."

She added, "I have to wonder if there is such a thing as a "nonfiction memoir." One can fact-check facts, but how do you fact-check memory and perception? I'm less clear on whether or not I think publishers have a responsibility to carefully check nonfiction works of a journalistic nature. Ultimately, I feel an author should be responsible for his or her own work, but I leave that to the legal minds."

"In Hollywood, the culture allows people to dissemble and deceive and then they'll do another deal together. Those are the rules in Hollywood, but those are not the rules in publishing," says Morgan Entrekin, president and publisher of Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

"Contemporary publishing is a strange amalgam of art and commerce, as it has always been. But despite most houses now existing as pieces of big multinational companies, it is still an old fashioned business of gentlemen and gentlewomen," says Eric Simonoff, a literary agent with Janklow & Nesbitt Associates.

So, boys and girls remember to always tell the truth when you write about your life. Do not make anything up. Protect the weak and innocent. Change their names and identities. Inject truth serum into your manuscript.

James came clean and wrote a disclaimer to be included in his "revised" book. He said he needed the narrative story arc to create tension like all good novels do and how he played loose and fast with the truth for the sake of telling a good story.

One addict's addiction is another addict's salvation.

Wednesday
Feb012006

u$ed oil

(originally posted November 2005)
American oil executives met today with senators to justify $32.8 billion profits from July-September quarter while consumers paid $3 a gallon. "We had to respond to the market," replied Chevron chairman David O'Reilly, according to AP.

oil2.jpg

1 Feb 06 - "America is addicted to oil," said Bush in his State of Confusion speech. Duh?...crude's now at $67.5 a barrel on the open market according to OPEC in Vienna..."

Exxon Mobil reports $36 million dollar profit. In one measure of Exxon Mobil's wealth and influence, its revenue of $371 billion surpassed the $245 billion gross domestic product of Indonesia, an OPEC member and the world's fourth most populous country, with 242 million people.

Last fall, the Republican-controlled Senate passed a bill to extend about $60 billion worth of tax cuts over the next five years. Bush has threatened to veto the tax bill if it includes the tax on oil companies.

"We are not mixing politics with the economic decisions on this issue. We are not mixing oil with politics." - Iranian oil minister at Vienna OPEC meeting.