6:52 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

I Just Don't Feel Like Writing

I don't know what the problem is, but I can't think of anything I feel strongly enough toward to write any sort of diatribe. Of course, I'm still dealing somewhat with jetlag from my trip to China, as well as readjusting to the presence of my three-year-old. He's got a great deal of energy; as a result, I don't.

I guess you can say I've got the Blahgs.

I believe this blog term has never been coined before. I like it, and will use it when appropriate. I've seen other bloggers complain of not feeling like blogging for a few days, too, so I think it may catch on. If you decide to use it, I'd appreciate getting credit and a link to my website to help me recover some of the readership I've lost during my two recent blogless periods (after returning from my deployment and then almost immediately taking a vacation). Remember, it's "Nathan over at Brainfertilizer".

Thank you for your support.
|W|P|86345196|W|P||W|P|9:44 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Back Safely

I wish I had some really clever information or anecdote to share. I really don't. Here's some impressions:

"You dirty rat!"
"I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky."
"Play it again, Sam"

Okay, seriously now. I got out and did some shopping, and I practiced my Chinese with my parents-in-law as well as just about anyone I met on the street. We bought some movies and books; I got "The Forever War", "Ringworld", and all four books in the Hobbit/Ring series, all in Chinese. I've found it's easier to read Chinese when I already know the storyline.

China is growing richer all the time. Sure, there are places still in the grip of poverty. But they know have car commercials on TV. I can't express to you how much of a change that is. When I was there four years ago, no one owned a private vehicle.

My son, just over three years old, had spent the last four months living with his grandparents in Beijing. Before that, he understood but did not use Chinese much. He has now forgotten almost all of his English. If I ask him a question in English, he looks puzzled and asks me what I said. Of course, he'll lose the Chinese as soon as he starts pre-school, but we'll try to help him hold onto it as long as we can. And future trips to China will help him regain his abilities again.

The performance of "The Messiah" was only fair. It was possibly only as good as a mediocre college performance. At times it was downright ragged. But I still got choked up during the Hallelujah Chorus. And I'm not sure what kind of rehearsal time they had. They had scheduled a performance two years ago, and had sold tickets and everything, and the government closed it down 2 days before the first performance. Last year they were allowed to perform, and it was the first performance of "The Messiah" in Chinese anywhere in the world. It's possible the peformers did not respect the material, or rehearsal time was discouraged; it's impossible to know. It's nearly certain the conductor is Christian, based on what he wrote in the program; it's also nearly certain a sizable portion of his orchestra and choir were not Christian.

It's not fashionable to be Christian in China. Buddhism was as close as anything to a state religion for centuries, but the country has been officially atheist (and that theory was indoctrinated in school as well) for the last 50 years. These kind of habits and attitudes disappear slowly. But China's body of true Christians (as opposed to the opportunistic who use Christianity as a front/excuse for pro-democracy activism) is steadily growing. This performance was a positive step, I believe.

Labor is still very cheap. We encountered several people who were working in the city to earn money to send back home, where their childern are being raised by the grandparents. They only get to see their own offspring once a year for about a week; some had not seen their children for two years. But there were just no income possibilities back home.

In preparation for 2008 (when Beijing hosts the Summer Olympics), everyone is trying to learn English. Taxi drivers have been given books and tapes. But no classes. If they don't learn well enough to pass a basic English comprehension test, they lose their job. Most have no skills or other way to support a family, and most of the taxi jobs will be handed over to younger people. It's a rough life, but most people are still far better off then they were a few years ago.

I had a great time. I wish I could think of something else to say about it.