In the aisles.
I’m allegedly meant to be at a top school in Jiangsu Province. Well, a top school in Wuxi, perhaps. Yesterday was the school’s open day when hordes of parents [insert slight pause here] and teachers from other schools came by the coach load to observe classes throughout the school, including ours. I was expecting a few people to turn up to the AS class, but ended up with them right along the back wall, right alongside the windows down to the front of the class, and about half way down the aisle beside the doors. People took pictures and a cameraman appeared at the back door briefly at one stage.
Obviously people had heard of me and wanted the chance to see Mr Bamboo in action.
[The truth is somewhat different. The pupils in Colin’s class told their parents to go to Mr Bamboo’s class, hence Colin had no observers during the course of that lesson. –ed.]
Dave, who can only be described as a dozy prune who sits at the front of the class, got dragged out of the room by his mother, much to everyone else’s amusement. It was interesting that Dave then started participating in class, knowing that his mum was there somewhere in the background.
I got to the end of the class and gave the little darlings their homework only to then be informed that they were sitting their SATs this weekend, which put paid to their homework – for the time being. The AS class are going to have to get used to writing essays in English, although to them longer means anything over 200 words.
Danwei II has an interesting piece about the experience of a foreigner banged up in a Chinese jail (A foreigner’s life in a Beijing jail.) Prison life sounds every bit as dull as I’ve heard it is. No idea what he was in for or where he was from.
This picture won the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award for 2009. (BBC story.) It’s a great image and yet I thought it lacked any personality because there’s no interaction between the wolf and the viewer or the wolf and anyone or anything else unlike, say, your typical big cat shot where the lion / tiger / jaguar looks at the camera and makes eye contact. It contrasts with the pictures of the squabbling yellowhammers because there’s action and drama in that picture, and the same can be said of the picture of the cat seeing off the fox. I’m sure that I could devise some pretentious interpretation of the picture of the leaping wolf, but I think the picture is merely what you see – an impersonal moment in the life of a Spanish wolf. [02.12.13. I know there was some controversy over the authenticity of this picture, but can’t recall whether it was proved to be fake or not.
Meanwhile, Madagascar, which I had thought was one of those places which seldom features in the news, has been in the Guardian a couple of times recently. The previous story was, I think, about the island as a travel destination while today’s story is about the effect of climate change on the country (Ravaged by drought, Madagascar feels the full effect of climate change). As you can see from the story, the southern parts of Madagascar have some serious environmental problems which are not being helped by the current political situation.
Is it really twenty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall? Blimey. I know that when I was young, I couldn’t imagine such a thing ever happening, or the reunification of Germany, or the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Windows 7 is out and, it seems, an improvement on Vista even if it’s what Vista ought to have been (or even Vista 3.0). I think I’ll see about getting an upgrade the next time I go to Hong Kong. I was never happy about having to buy a laptop with Vista on it, but because I needed a new machine about a year ago, I won’t be due to buy a replacement for this machine for another couple of years.
Speaking of computers, I see my hit count has dropped dramatically this week (about a fifth of what I’ve been getting on average for the past few months) and my visitors are back to coming almost exclusively from searches. Then again, I haven’t been posting here so frequently because there’s been little worth mentioning. The PAL classes give me no cause for concern; the AS1 class is still behaving like a less bad version of any of the Senior 2 classes I’ve taught since I came to China. Caleb told me that we’re going to be moving to another building in December while the building we’re currently in is actually going to be demolished. I thought that we wouldn’t be moving until the very end of the term and that the building was merely being refurbished.
Lunchtime has arrived, after which I’m off to check out a DVD shop which Rob recommended to me. I’m hoping to get the 4th series of Weeds and that there’s other stuff worth getting.
Once again, Mr Bamboo is greater than the sum of his parts. No, I didn’t grow an extra head.
I was the epitome of diligence this morning and would’ve won a prize for it if they were awarding them. I wrote the lesson plan for class this afternoon (all right, there was some cutting and pasting involved), and the one for the AS class tomorrow; marked the AS class’s vocab test and recorded the marks, and decided at that point that I wasn’t going to sit around at school playing chess against Shredder 3 (although I did and defeated it using the Dutch Defence; I’m getting a bit bored with Shredder play 1. d4 when it’s white because it’s a rather vague sort of opening; it seems Shredder has been trying to play the London System; I did try playing a King’s Indian Defence in another game, but it ignored my efforts).
So I came home, did a little more work cataloguing the openings in the various pgn files I’ve got because the name on the box is not an especially accurate representation of the contents. For example, a file called Nimzo4Nf3.pgn has 58 different openings and not just from ECO E00-99 (which includes various and numerous Nimzo openings).
But I also thought that I ought to go and do some shopping while Carrefour might be a little deserted since the place is an utter nightmare on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
I went to Gizma for tea the other night for the first time in ages. The area outside Walmart was actually comparatively empty, although when I came out of Gizma, the usual hordes of rollerblading children were out gliding across the paving. As I was heading down 青石路 there was the inevitable traffic jam. This one, though, was not the product of the usual discourteous motorists but caused by a small mob of people who had gathered around a police car. I’m guessing that Plod had nicked some nefarious local villain and the mob wanted to see what a nefarious local villain looked like. Meanwhile, black cars being driven by far worse villains were passing by.
I finally finished off Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy, a series of three [I think the word “trilogy” gave that away. –ed.] novellas with an existentialist theme a couple of days ago. Then last night I put an end to A Bottomless Grave, which is an anthology of 19th horror stories published by Dover Books. I’ve read them slowly over rather a long period of time, but if I remember rightly, I’d classify one or two as ’tec fic rather than horror. The final story in the collection was about a vampire mummy; but from what I read in The Guardian just recently, zombies are the new black (though only if you’re a boy). Can’t say I think much of zombies, which are too dull-witted to be of interest. Hmmm, rather reminds me of my little darlings from the other programme.
And pgn files.
I haven’t done a lot this weekend. I went for a brief adventure yesterday only to confirm that in Wuxi you’ll end up back where you started your journey sooner rather than later. I did see a drunk man who seemed to have been causing a commotion at a bus stop. He was red-faced and unsteady, but the policemen who were there when I passed through didn’t seem to think it was a big deal. Perhaps it was a despondent droning-top man, who was back in action today after a prolonged absence. As I think I suggested, he was probably advised to be quiet because the last thing a corrupt official wants is a tired, irritable concubine. [01.12.13. I haven’t heard a peep out of droning-top man in quite some time. Either he’s moved on or the police moved him on.]
Meanwhile, it appears that work might be resuming on the half-built buildings on the island. Fences have gone up, blocking access, and someone set off a barrage of fireworks from the empty ground on the far side last night.
It’s been an uneventful weekend apart from Mr Bamboo pursuing his nerdly activities. I’ve been using ChessBase Light to have a look through the pgn files I’ve downloaded from the pgnmentor site and finding that they seem to have been compiled inconsistently. At best, they contain sets of related openings, but the method I was using for generalising the opening I suppose was the common theme of each file was merely producing the most frequently used opening without revealing the others.
And just to muddy the waters further, in the course of my investigations I’ve found that there appears to be some inconsistency from one source of openings to another. Perhaps. Not every opening necessarily follows the standard order, but I wonder what the correct answer is when an Old Indian Defence (thus ChessBase Light) is classified an English, Smyslov Defence (thus 365Chess.com). The openings have two moves in common and the Old Indian could become the Smyslov Defence.
I don’t suppose I’ll ever know or even ever really be that bothered. Nonetheless, my inclination for classificatory rigour is disturbed by the apparent casualness with which the pgn files have been compiled. One opening, one file, kids.
I’ve also come to the conclusion that when an opening is rather vague, the following move is whatever.
I finished watching the first series of Mad Men the night before last. I’m not sure whether it’s really doing anything different or whether the setting – conservative, sexist, chain-smoking America of the early 1960s – is merely disguising the same old human drama. It’s entertaining enough, although the revelation that Don Draper is not who he claims to be ended up being a damp squib when the firm’s senior partner declared that it didn’t matter.
- e4 d5
- exd5 Qxd5
- Nc3 Bg4
- Nxd5 Bxd1
- Nxc7+ Black resigns. 1-0
- e4 e5
- d4 exd4
- Qxd4 Nc6
- Bg5 Nxd4
- Bxd8 Nxc2+ White resigns. 0-1