Suffering a little from half frozen fingers here. But that is what happens when you start typing after cooking up a dinner of chilli-garlic stir-fried whatever was left in the fridge, in a freezing cold kitchen. However, given how cold the kitchen is, I am beginning to wonder if there was any call to have stuff in the fridge in the first place. And, given the price of vegetables went up another 8% yesterday, I am also beginning to wonder if it was such a wise idea to go and fry them all up in one go. Let me explain… I am in Jinan, Shandong, in the PRC. There has been a cold snap. Or whatever it is you call these things where the weather gets much colder than is at all civilised. And quite frankly, anything under about -5 is uncivilised in my books, which means the -18 that was recorded in some place I’ve never heard of in Jinan is just not on. The point is the kitchen is insanely cold. Even after this diatribe, my fingers are still numbish. And if it weren’t for the fact that I almost knocked myself out on the fumes from the Chinese seasoning alcohol that I used to cook dinner, my poor fingers would probably be in severe pain after making tonight’s feast.
And while still on the topic of bizarre weather and China, why is it that this kind of thing always happens wherever I go? When I first arrived in Wuhan, they had the coldest and snowiest winter in 50 (or 100, depending on who you listened to at the time and how much they were griping) years. Now, during my second winter in Jinan, we have just shivered through the coldest temperature ever recorded. Well, at least I think that is what the text message from Xinhua (news) said, but I’m not sure because it was in Chinese and I haven’t really been studying recently, so I am getting a bit rusty. Anyway, it sounds quite impressive, so let’s just say it is.
Right. So this is not exactly the best time to be writing my first blog entry on this thing, but you know…whatever, when is? I am, as I already so intelligently (not) just posted on my own wall, procrastinating. I am up to my ears in marking. Although not as up to my ears as I ought to be, since a bunch of my students seem to have not handed in some of their assessments. Rather than feeling gleeful about the reduction in my marking load, I am instead in full worry mode. I tend to do this a lot. Worry about other people not getting their crap together, that is, when I should be worrying about my own crap. My suspicion is that at about 8pm, my sense of responsibility will probably kick in and I will, both, start worrying about my own crap again and (at the same time) restart the whole marking thing. It is also my suspicion that my sense of resposibility will not let me be until about midnight-ish, just in time for me to go to bed and not quite get enough sleep before my class tomorrow morning. I really need to rethink my whole time management system. Or lack thereof.
Anyway, for this reason (I’m talking about the useless fretting over my recalcitrant non-handers-in-of-homework students, not the cold, although I’ll get to that in a bit), while I am not in the right frame of mind to write anything coherent at the moment, I am in the right mood to write. Writing tends to calm me down. I do it for fun. I do it when I am confused. I do it when I am pissed off. And I tend to favour a stream of consciousness style. Hurm… consider yourself warned!
So. Am I ticked off now? Yep, a little bit. But mostly at myself for getting my knickers in a knot over nothing (recalcitrants). Oh well, it will soon pass. The assessments will come in, or they won’t. The marking and the semester, will soon be finished. And I will, in the blink of an eye, be heading back home where the sky is huge and blue and I can watch the sun sink down over the Indian Ocean. A bit different from the here and now.
Speaking of here, I have heard a few pieces of rather troubling news today. One, 40 loads of coal (that were a part of the 10 day supply that would have kept Jinan operational electricity-wise) have frozen over (how exactly does coal freeze over anyway?!), or something like that (like I said, my Chinese is a bit rusty at the moment). Two, the uni is cutting the electricity all tomorrow morning (which I assume is a power saving tactic so that we don’t have to have it cut at night and freeze to death due to the no coal factor already mentioned above). Actually, to tell the truth, I am not much fussed about the whole no power tomorrow morning thing. Can’t possibly be worse than the time when I had to wash my hair in a bucket of boiled bottled drinking water (the water was not in the bottle when I boiled it, just in case you were wondering… which would be fair enough because that sounds like just the kind of nutty thing I would do) because we had no water in my building for 4 days. There was snow outside. I almost froze. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was so furious, I probably would have cried. I was furious not only about washing my hair in a bucket, but more because it is actually impossible to flush the toilet when there is no running water. Blah. So, who cares about no electricity for a morning? Can’t possibly compare with no running water for 4 days.
Of course if the last piece of news I heard today becomes a hideous problem, I might well be washing my hair in a bucket of boiled bottled drinking water again. Apparently some idiots have gone and spilt oil in the Yellow River and traces of diesel have been found in Shaanxi. Or was it Shanxi? I hope not because the latter is much closer to Jinan (which the Yellow River runs through) and much further away from where the spill first occurred. Jinan (as well as many other cities) gets a fair bit of its tap water from the Yellow River, so that just sucks. As well as being hazardous and seriously environmentally unfriendly, unsound and plain dastardly.
So that’s my life for the time being.
May yours be fantastic, or at the very least interesting!

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