Tuesday, January 28th, 2014. "Relaunch"

An extended trip to the dear old PRC has prompted a relaunch of my blog. I used to be able to update Facebook from MyYahoo! there, but the new MyYahoo doesn't allow it. As no Western blogging sites are accessible there, I need a back-up plan for disseminating my own personal propaganda in case I either can't afford or don't want to shell out for the VPN services. For historical reference, the blog title comes from the days when Friendster ruled the world of social networking, circa 2004. I updated it sporadically up through the days in the Peace Corps, but since the site became a gamers' promotion and ceased to have profiles (or blogs), most of that content has been lost. If I find any old posts from the archive, they'll end up here eventually. In the mean time, I'm pretty sick of losing content whenever a site goes under (Friendster) or decides that only pre-existing/sponsored subjects can be entered in particular fields (Facebook), so surely this will be far closer to eternal! Apologies for lacking any technical ability to make this more user-friendly (i.e. organized & searchable). It's here on the old "Movie" page b/c it was the shortest both in terms of the link on the home page and amount of content.


In order to mitigate the impending disaster of being unable to post things, I need to add a recent photo. Also, a link to the top of the page should follow every post. New posts should be at the top.


Monday, January 27th, 2014. "Plans for 2014 up to Sept."


Here's a clearing house edition of my plans until Sept.

My goals for 2014 in general, or resolutions if you prefer, are to be financially independent again and replenish my bank accounts, which have been depleted to almost nothing since returning from Asia last summer. Getting everything ready to be legally employed in China has itself cost close to $1,000, but I'm confident that I'll be back in the black by summer. I hope to do this with my position at Changzhi University, by tutoring on the side, and by teaching at summer camps after my contract ends in July. I've been told that I'll be teaching English majors (for the first time, this is exciting!), that class hours will total 18/week, that classes can be concentrated on only two days per week to allow for the rest of the week to be used for research, tutoring, or recreation. We'll see if that actually pans out.

Changzhi University is located in Shanxi Province, closest to large cities in this order: Xi'an, Beijing, Shanghai. For readers of Chinese, its website is here . Here are details about the city. School officials tell me the air is not as bad as the rest of the province (which is coal country), and it's also the richest prefecture in Shanxi. Oh, and it's got half a million more people than Chicago. I've been in close contact with an employment agent and school officials there since Oct., and they seem competent, well-connected, and fairly friendly. Online descriptions of the school are not impressive, but it appears the people in the foreign affairs office people didn't like are not the ones I'll be dealing with.

This Fri. we've got one more karaoke party in the Newport Beach apt. Hannah will be staying there with us until then, and Aaron is soon to move in permanently, out of his place in North Hollywood. On Sat. I'll fly out of LAX at 8:17am via SFO to Shanghai, arriving at 6:45pm on Sun. the 2nd. I'll need to figure out how to get internet and cel phone service there on my own, as Nathan & Sharon will be at Sharon's parents' place in Xuzhou, Jiangsu. I'm expected to join them there after a day or two in Shanghai to get over the time change.

The earliest I can get into the housing provided by Changzhi University is Feb. 15th, rather close to my first day of class on the 17th. I expect to stay in or around Shanghai until then.

This week I need to visit as many UCI professors as possible, to see where I stand on required papers to re-enter the program after my leave of absence ends in fall. I currently have a draft of a qualifying paper submitted to a professor who taught a class on Just War Theory. If he and another professor sign off on it (probably after more revisions), I will have fulfilled the requirements of UCI's political science program to get another Master's degree. To get back into the program in good standing and continue toward a Ph.D., I will have to have a second paper signed by two professors by Sept. For this, I can either revise the one I presented for UCI's Center for the Study of Democracy conference last year, which has been through seven or eight editions and found little or no approval from my advisor or anyone else, or I can write the paper for which I received funding last summer. The latter path would probably be more difficult, as I won't have access to an academic library in China, but I do not relish the task of revisiting the Chinese democracy paper, which has also been rejected by at least two other professors in sociology and political theory.

While in China, and especially if I continue on to a Ph.D., I will work on getting my Chinese up to a level where I can read the newspaper and possibly academic articles. Learning to navigate Chinese cyberspace (esp. online discussion boards) is another academic/personal/social goal. I also hope to be very comfortable interviewing people in Chinese (almost there already) and (re-)establish contacts there with whom I'll stay in touch from the U.S. Too often on these shorter summer trips, I've not maintained contact afterwards with anyone but Lena.

By the end of June, Grandma and Harabugi will have decided whether to renew the Newport Beach apartment. Aaron, Nathan, and I have proposed a few alternatives for caring for Dad, and we await their response. In any case, my state of residence and address depend largely on whether I'm back in UCI or moving on. I'll be leaving most of my valuables in my office on campus, but if everyone moves out of the apartment or out of SoCal, I apologize in advance to Aaron for having to move my stuff while I'm away.

I will attend Nathan & Sharon's wedding in Jiangsu on Sept. 6th. We are working on how to get Aaron and Mom to attend; money is the major impediment to this right now. By summer, there could also be job conflicts.

My return flight is scheduled to leave Shanghai directly to LAX on Tues., Sept. 9th, at 8:10pm, arriving three hours before I left, at 5:05pm. Soon after arrival, I will either need to move most things out of my campus office in preparation for classmates moving in with me (no other students currently use my office, but on average there are five per office...everyone either doesn't use mine, has recently graduated or has dropped out) or clear out entirely if I'm not back in the program. I should know whether or not I'm back in well before my return to the States, and if I'm not I'm sure I'll have several prospects lined up for where to move, while again having enough money saved to do so.

Please let me know if you've got a harebrained scheme or other master plan. If I'm not going back to UCI in the fall, I'd love to collaborate on something.  Lots to do.