Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Minute to Breathe

Where else but China are you going to hear people greet each other by saying, "Hey, wow, that's a cool filtration mask you've got!"

(That's just a cheap one but you can get all different colors and styles and filter types.)

Maybe you've read about the 5-day pollution emergency going on around Beijing. Nothing new, really; the other teachers say last year was a lot worse. In general November and December was pretty nice this year. (There were at least as many nice days as bad days.0

But for the last five days it's looked about like this:





Schools have technically been closed since the weekend, but since we're a boarding school outside of the city, quite a few kids ended up staying here. We just recently installed air filters in all the rooms, and mostly we've been sitting around with the kids watching movies. 


(A couple of my colleagues out enjoying cigarettes in the pollution emergency.)

I have to say, although I'm in general fond of the apocalyptic, after five days of this, I'm feeling pretty shitty. It's really one of the creepiest and saddest things I've ever seen -- people walking around bundled up like they work in an asbestos factory, the sun a little forgotten smudge in the middle of the opaque blanket of pollution. 



Of course I have an air filter in my apartment, and then I recently bought a hand-held pollution sensor which I have all kinds of fun playing with. (It goes off the chart if you fry bacon next to it, I found.) 

Here's the reading last Sunday, standing by an open window, about 12 times higher than acceptable levels:  



I noticed that my air filter can pretty much handle only one room at a time, so if you live in China you're probably wise to have one for each room:  


video

The main culprit is coal, apparently, which is used for most of the electricity generating, although the cars and industry certainly contribute. So all you Trump supporters eagerly awaiting him to gut America's environmental regulations, bring back industry and use coal again?  All this can be yours!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Requiem for a Poon Hound


I wrote about it briefly almost a year ago; the sad death of one of the guys I know back in Russia.

He was a minor characters in the book VODKABERG, referred to as the Venezualan. 

He wasn't really from Venezuala, although he was from South America. Half Russian on his mother's side, he was working in Russia as an engineer for an oil company, making about 4 times what we made as English teachers. 

(This is the only old blog entry about him I could find, but I think there were others.)

He'd left Russia to go to Mexico to work, about the same time I went to Saudi; we communicated on Facebook a few times and he said he was looking for a job in Dubai,as he didn't much like Mexico.

The last I remember communicating to him was asking him if Mexico was as dangerous as people said, and he said, "Oh yeah, there are murders around here every day." 

So he kind of slipped from my life after that; I thought he just disappeared from Facebook. I missed the post his wife and friends made about his death.  

Finally Crazy Bob pointed it out to me last year. 


His 2010 murder remains unsolved; he was gunned down in the parking lot of the office where he worked. One could assume it was related to cartel figures or guerillas trying to shake down his company for money; he was apparently the financial manager. It could conceivably have been a kidnap attempt.

But I wonder if it might have been a jealous husband.  

Because man was this guy a poon hound. 

He cheerfully fucked all the girls that worked at the oil companies he worked at, even though he was married and they usually were too. "Ah, the guys are always getting drunk with their buddies, I'm not worried," he said when I expressed the idea that he ought to be careful.



Crazy Bob was particularly upset to hear about this guy's death; their lifestyles were similar. We poured over Spanish language newspapers on the internet looking for news about it, and we were at least relieved that he didn't seem to suffer much. He got of his car, was approached by some men, and ran away and was cut down in a hail of semi-automatic weapons fire. 

He was apparently shot by at least three attackers, so that would tend to rule out a jealous husband, unless the jealous husband hired it out. 

But I think he'd have preferred to get killed by a jealous husband in a hot-blooded Latin style, rather than just be another statistic in the often impersonal and senseless drug and political violence that has contributed to the 165,000 homicides in Mexico between 2007 and 2014

He is survived by a Russian wife he'd just married and taken to Mexcio, with whom he had two children, and an ex-wife back home with whom he had had three children. 

Rest in peace, muchacho. I hope they have pussy in heaven. 

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Song Remains The Same: A Cartoon About Songs in Class

This is something that happened back in Russia in the 00s. It was a teacher who just couldn't seem to get along with his students, this big Canadian doofus who had formerly been an emergency medical services guy. 

I heard this from next door, 








Shortly after that, they all walked out of class and demanded a new teacher. 

I think he only lasted about 6 months at our branch, though he struggled through some other jobs at different branches in Russia for a while, too. 

I think the moral is just be aware that seemingly innocent and harmless things can end in disaster quite often in TEFL.