Tag Archives: Audi R8

The Saturday Ramble

Waffle with everything.

It’s been a long time since I wrote one of my rambling, ephemeral Saturday-morning posts, but for the first time in a while, I don’t have to concern myself with other business – typically something school-related.

The monthly tests were last week, although it feels a longer time has passed. A week ago I was marking AS1’s reading tests; on Wednesday, I ploughed my way through A2(1&3)’s reading tests; and on Thursday, A2(2)’s got the same treatment. Because we had students away doing SATs during the tests, there were a couple of strays to be dealt with, but unlike quite a few of my less fortunate colleagues, I don’t have these things hanging over my head this weekend.

However, lest it be thought that this situation is all silver lining and no cloud, I had the A2s write their embedded interviews yesterday, and AS1 write its reviews of The Social Network. The former had had all week because it was the last round of the interactive orals this week and I’d set them the task of writing the embedded interview while I was otherwise engaged. Some had completed the task, and quite a few had rewritten the transcript interview, which is a text type we did last year; but I insisted that they should finish the writing partly because they’d had all week to do it. I had AS1 write their reviews immediately after they’d watched The Social Network because when last year’s AS classes did the same exercise as homework, they plagiarised other reviews en masse and I abandoned the whole thing. However, these things can wait. I’m having my weekend.

I’ve been keeping half an eye on the trial of the Grillo sisters, who have just been acquitted of committing fraud against Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson. This is not because I have any particular interest in the case, but because the embedded interview was part of the food-themed section of English class. The task for the A2s was to write up an embedded interview with a celebrity chef. Lawson comes into the story because I happened to use a couple of interviews with her as additional examples.

My contract has been renewed and I’m even getting a modest pay increase. I thought that those days were over because I’d hit the top of the pay scale.


The new toy.

After Linda replaced her stolen phone recently, I decided that it was about time I did the same. This was not because the phone was ailing, but because it was ageing. Since Linda had bought a Nokia Lumia, I decided to do the same, and headed off to Suning Plaza, which is just across the lane from Parkson. They may have been having a sale because the phone I bought, a 920, was ¥2,399 here, but in the shop in Chengdu, Linda said it was ¥3,000.

The Lumia 920 is a WindowsPhone running WP8, and where I think W8 (or its derivatives) is a dumb idea on a laptop or PC, it works on a phone or tablet, although not everything is obvious. For example, there’s a screen view which shrinks the screen and allows you to swipe through recent places. According to the manual, you hold down the left arrow key, although I have no idea how I’ve done such a thing because I’ve only managed to bring up that screen by accident on previous occasions. The screen also rotates from time to time, but that seems to be a matter of holding the phone in the upright position and turning it sideways. It does happen at odd moments, though. Nothing in the manual about this function, which I assume is a more recent addition to the device.

The phone came with the usual Nokia apps such as maps, music, etc. Because of the link with Microsoft, the phone came with the mobile version of Office home and student edition. One Note has a separate tile, which is probably sensible since it’s apparently the phone’s notebook. As far as using Office productively goes, I’d say that it’s wishful thinking. It’s all right for reviewing documents in Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, but the size of the screen and limited functionality of these programs makes creativity awkward – something done out of necessity. In addition to these apps, I’ve also installed Adobe Reader, Kindle (hurrah! And the text is much better on the phone than it is on my Kindle), and Google, which seems to have some kind of built-in browser although I can’t get Chrome without being redirected to the Chinese Nokia website – any attempts to get Chrome from elsewhere get blocked. I’ll just have to tolerate IE10.

It was fortunate that I already had an MS account when I got the phone and that I happened to have the password with me. Office comes with SkyDrive, which is not a service I use half as much as I ought to, although there are still quite a lot of pictures there from the days when my blog was on Spaces.

The phone also forced me to buy a wireless router about which I was a little wary because I expected to find that I should be coughing up more money for a second connection to the outside world. As it turns out, that wasn’t the case. Nor was the router exactly expensive. I was expecting the price to be several hundred 元, but it was a mere ¥100. The first problem to overcome was the installation because the instructions were only in Chinese; but after a little guesswork, I found that the first part was irrelevant because it was to do with setting things up through Control Panel. The other part involved going to the router’s IP address and setting things up through a page which, I assume, it embedded on the device. This, too, is solely in Chinese, but I overcame that as well, and have had WiFi ever since. It became clear that I needed it after I found that the Nokia Suite software for my old phone didn’t interact with the new one.

There was also an app allowing PCs and laptops to chat to the phone via a USB connection, but it has very limited functionality. For once, Bluetooth seems to be a better option.

I opted for the 920 over the 925 because the reviews suggested that the former was better value for money while the latter was expensive and added little. So far, I have no real complaints about the phone apart from its occasional bursts of quirky behaviour when I do something with it that I wasn’t intending to do.


0 to the far side of the intersection faster than an Audi R8.

I’ve already had one run-in with a tardy Audi R8, and now I’ve had another. I was waiting to cross the intersection to Baoli. On the other side was a black Audi R8 Coupé oozing coolness. The light went green and I dashed off. It was not until I was nearly on the far side of the intersection that the wide boy in the Audi decided to rev his engine, which made a considerable amount of noise, and out-accelerate everything else – embarrassingly late. Perhaps it was turbo lag.

While we’re on the streets of Wuxi, the 中山路-县前街 intersection remains a mess. The road surface is wet and uneven, and heavy metal plates, which bob up and down as vehicles pass over them, remain strewn across the road. There’s no sign of anyone doing any work on it at all.


The winter solstice.

Today’s Google doodle claims that it’s the first day of winter. Where? Where is it the first day of winter? It sounds like a Hallmark anniversary. It is the winter solstice, though, and bloody cold to boot.

Hello, is that 2011?

It’s Mr Bamboo here. Come and get your bloody awful weather back.

As far as I can recall, summer last year, which was largely overcast, gave way to an autumn which was largely wet and overcast. We seem to be enjoying the same weather again this year, and today, true to form, it had to get worse while I was out shopping and buying lunch. A year on and the drains still function at Han Dynasty levels of efficiency, viz. they remain completely dry while the water accumulates everywhere else.

I went back to archive.org and downloaded the Kindle versions of Morris Jones’s Welsh grammar and also Johnson’s 1917 grammar of Old Persian. However, I can’t recommend either because the texts have been lifted straight from the pdf and are riddled with monstrous errors. Because of this, I’ve taken the text from Johnson’s grammar and have been editing in it Word to fix it and thus give me something to work on over the next few weeks or months. The aim is to create a pdf version of the text which can be read easily on a Kindle.

A new version of Freegate popped up this morning, replacing the previous version, which was only about two weeks old, which replaced the previous version which didn’t seem to need replacing at all.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s chief party boy has dropped plans for the Territory’s school children to be brainwashed. I also saw (in brief) a story that the imperial government had cancelled the plan to allow Mainlanders from Guangdong to enter Hong Kong willy-nilly. There were apparently 3 million Mainlanders in Hong Kong in July – another reason not to have gone there this summer.

The latest runabout sighting was a white Audi R8 a couple of days ago. I managed to configure one on the Audi website for about £143,000, which can only be described as eminently affordable for a second car. [Ooh! Is this sarcasm again? –ed.]

The worst feek

And it is feeking worst.

The first week back at school seems to have outdone itself this year, being more tiring, it seems, than any other commencement to the first term that I can recall. I can’t even blame jet lag. My timetable seems to have got worse with classes at the beginning, in the middle (inconvenient for buying lunch) and at the end. Fridays are especially bad with teaching all afternoon.

PAL 2 seems quite promising [Initial impressions aren’t always reliable. –JH 13.12.12], but PAL 1 seems a little more diffident [Again, initial impressions. –JH 13.12.12]. Fred and I have split the AS classes into HL and SL for English B and, I think, so long as there’s no EAP flying about, things may well be a bit better this year. There aren’t so many new AS students, and the majority of them seem to be all right, but we have one who can barely string two words together and ought to be in, well, a school where he understands the language. He can’t even be shifted to PAL because there are students in those classes whose English is already a few parsecs beyond his.

Today a bunch of books turned up. These would appear to be books I ordered a couple of years ago, but they’re now mostly of no use because of the delay in their arrival. I’ve tried to avoid ordering books which will never be used, but two years ago, it seemed that more copies of the teacher’s manual were likely to be useful. As it is, unless we get three PAL classes again, the manuals will languish on the shelves in the library. We also got the CDs for North Star 3 Listening and Speaking, but I don’t think we have the book itself and I don’t think I ever ordered either item.

Speaking of books, I discovered that it’s possible to get a copy of Morris Jones’s (1913) Welsh Grammar. I have a old, old photocopy of the part on phonology, but this is the whole thing. I found it via Lexilogos via archive.org. I always grab the pdf, but such files can’t be read on a Kindle as I found recently.

I saw an Audi R8 today, which demonstrated just how fairly wealth is divided among imperial citizens. Speaking of cheap cars, I saw pictures on the Wrecked Exotics site of the F430 spyder which crashed in Beijing a few months ago. This story has just popped up again because of the demotion of one of the emperor’s allies.

Anyway, I see it’s time for me to take my F430 out for a turn around the park.

For 10.5 mid-range EFL teachers

You can have these two marvellously expensive cars.

A Porsche 911 Turbo S and an Aston Martin Rapide
This is what 10.5 mid-range EFL teachers will buy you.

A couple of days ago I was just leaving 远东百货 and spotted a very new Aston Martin (sans reg. plates) parked along the street. Today, I turn up outside the same building, and there’s a white 911 Turbo S.

Did I mention the violently yellow-green Audi R8 I saw a couple of weeks ago and which took about 100m to catch up with me after the lights turned green? I can’t remember, but you’re not misreading that. I, self-propelled and on two wheels, out-powered an Audi R8. Of course, dear reader, you should remember that imperial citizen either start before the light turns green, or spend a few seconds after it turns green before it registers with them that they should go. The Audi did come blasting by, but the driver should’ve been ashamed to have let me get so far ahead of him.

Where people have strange-shaped heads

And they speak an unknown language.

After a degree of dithering, it has been decided that the start-of-term conference will be in Chengdu. Now, when I say “in Chengdu”, I’m being rather generous. “Near Chengdu” would be more accurate and about as accurate as “Wuxi is near Chengdu”. I suspected that we might get dispatched to 石室的 North Lake School, which, I’m informed, is a long way from anywhere; and it seems that my fears were right. We may be in a five-star hotel, but it’s a five-star hotel out beyond the fourth ring road, which places us so far out of the city that I think the area is known as, er, Tibet.

Although the conference won’t give us much time for larks and frolics regardless of our location, I was hoping at least to make the pilgrimage to High Fly, but it seems that the heathens have deprived the faithful of such a chance; and anyone who was hoping to see the sights of Chengdu won’t be seeing much at all.

The weather had reached that uncomfortably humid phase as it goes greenhouse on us. Yesterday morning the cloud was grey but thin enough to reveal the disc of the sun and let the heat through. By some time in the afternoon, the cloud had thickened along with the haze, and the light had turned a dull yellow. It’s done something similar today although at the moment the dullness is less extreme. I’ve decided to go to Ajisen for tea tonight and will not be surprised if it starts raining around the time of my departure. It’s the sort of weather which makes me feel like snoozing.

Recent supercar sightings include a white Lamborghini Gallardo parked down outside the Olympic Museum yesterday, and an Audi R8 on 解放路 at lunchtime. What joy there is in my heart to see such a gross disparity in the distribution of wealth in the Empire. Now I know for sure that it is “the advanced nation”.

The exchange rate is improving again as the cost of music downloads from Presto Classical falls slightly, and the price of some downloads from the Classical Shop or Hyperion Records is getting quite competitive as sterling sinks alongside the Euro. Even so, I’ve stopped buying music for the moment partly because of the price and partly because I’m trying to assimilate what I’ve bought so that I’m not always thinking, I know I’ve heard this before, but…

They knew it was going to be all over

It is now.

Finally, the term has ended. Well, not exactly. It officially ends on Monday, but we don’t have to go in for one last and enormously pointless day.

Looking back on this term I can say that the PAL classes have done much better than I was expecting, but the AS classes I teach, especially 3, have been disappointing, and the syllabus isn’t really working with them. The problem is that they were supposed to do IELTS and TOEFL before some were supposed to move onto SATs next term. It hasn’t worked like that. Students have been going off and doing IELTS or TOEFL just as they please, which makes a mockery of what we have been trying to do.

The weather (to reduce this post to an even more mundane level) has been comparatively mild so far. The ice on the duck ponds outside has only slightly frozen once or twice, and the January plunge has yet to arrive.

Meanwhile, the cats of Jinma are facing hard times as the wheelie bins are encased in locked containers which prevent them from scrounging. I wonder whether this has come about because some woman has decided (as many of my students’ mothers do) that cats are dirty and must be discouraged. I assume that the cats are more beneficial than harmful because they keep down the rodent population. This new measure is also preventing some of the elderly residents from scrounging in the bins themselves for anything they can sell as scrap.1 I’m surprised there hasn’t been a mass incident involving cats and geriatrics protesting about this imposition on their livelihoods.

The latest supercar sighting just recently was a matt-black Audi R8, possibly the same one I saw being parked outside the brothel spa next to Jinma a few weeks ago.

Notes

  1. Since Jinma isn’t exactly Peasant Hovels™, it might seem a little strange that any of the elderly residents would be bin diving, but they do. I guess that a lot of them are put up here by their first-gen corrupt offspring, who can afford flats in Jinma. 父母 are still peasants at heart and think “vulgar” might score some decent points in Scrabble if you can place it on the right squares. Wuxi may be a quite opulent place, but it lacks the sensibility to raise it from the rustic depths.

Video: A collection of supercars courtesy of the China Sportscar Club – Top Speed

Video: A collection of supercars courtesy of the China Sportscar Club – Top Speed.

Last week, I saw a live Audi R8, which was being parked outside the brothel spa which is on the corner of the lane to the side gate of Jinma. The only other R8 I’ve seen here was on display in Baoli alongside a 911 Turbo S.

The R8 on this occasion was a matt black and white car and had the SCC badge on the back, but I had no idea what it stood for until I saw the article above on Top Speed, and the video.

The irony is, of course, that the video itself isn’t viewable inside the prison walls – at least not on YouTube. Mind you, the video is from Youku (优酷).