Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Victorious Anticlimax

Several semi-secret meetings later.
Meetings with the Chinese public school, that is.
Who's attempting to sway us teachers to the Red side of the force.
And they just may come up with a big enough wad of cash to do so.
And there was some rather hard to believe updates from our own school.
Like, "Oh, it turns out we're not going (to the new location) after all."
Then getting a super rare email from one of the owners:
"7/10 chances that we're going."
Then we had more meetings w/ the Chinese school.
Our own employer undoubtedly aware of them.
And when we finally got back to asking our own school what the sitch is,
they said the school's not doing a middle-of-the-term switch to the boondogs
after all.
Because they asked parents and parents weren't keen.
Even though the last report was that they asked parents
who were supportive of the switch
(um, yeah right).
Highly doubtful that any parents were ever notified about the situation
and highly likely that they reconsidered when us teachers kicked up such a stink.
Me, far from being the instigator on that count.
i really oughta be less passive.
This is GREAT news for teachers and students.
We finish the year w/out dividing the student body,
or fucking everything else up royally.
And in fact
it kinda leaves us teachers in a better position than we were in before
'cause now we've got 2 schools giving us options for next year.
We expect a peek at the public school contract in a wk or so.
but it'll have to look pretty darn good
if it's gonna tempt us to take on the risk and stress of a new uncertified school.

But it would be, at least, downtown.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Another Gig

Last week was another of Yuqi's gigs, and he asked me last week to open. i admit i was hesitant, since in fact i got kinda stressed last time and didn't dig it too much. Anyhow i consented to play "3 or 4" songs since i'd have no time to practice that week.

Day of the gig i finally chose a handful of songs to play, and practiced for a little while.

Then come performance time, i made oodles of mistakes from my get go intro piece (on the piano: ha!), and throughout. But i really didn't care that much about it. Pbly helped a bit from the beer previously consumed, but also, the bar was full of people just hanging out for a drink, as opposed to paying for a ticket.

Anyways it was pretty fun. After the band played me and Yuqi sort of jammed a bit (and i'm a shitty jammer), later joined by the keyboard player. It was cool, even if it dind't all sound so good.

There's no denying i sing off key way too often.

I should mention that Yuqi invited me to actually join his band. This is pretty crazy considering that he and most of the band are, like, professional. He said i could play a little Korg keyboard or something. "But you already have a keyboard player." "But James is a professional player, who's studied music a lot. You're an untrained Canadian indie musician. It's totally different." Well i guess there's something to that.

I figure i shouldn't be a chicken shit, and be intimidated out of the kind of music opportunity that rarely avails itself to hacks like me. So anyhow, I'll talk to him soon about it.

Also, Epiphone gave him a super sweet (and pricey) guitar which he offered to sell me for 1/2 of what its worth. I wonder if getting a rad guitar would actually entice me bk into songwriting fervor, or would it mostly just gather dust like my present guitar does? (I usually just play my xylophone these days. Really.)

Anyhow, for those interested, here's one of Yuqi's videos, so you can get a feel for his flavour.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Potential Job Upheaval

For the record, i'd just like to say that it's disturbingly true. It's all about money.

There's not really any moral higher ground in choosing my school or the Chinese school. It's a scrap. Both sides have the gloves off.

You know i always have said that $'s not my key thing, but now i'm part of a group and money is the key thing. Because it'll be a shit show either way, but people will be more willing to put up with a shit show that pays, seeing as how people have already put up with shit shows w/out proper pay.

So i find myself in the boat where dollars and cents will be the closest approximation i can get to respect, freedom, and happiness.

That feels kinda wrong, don't it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Smartest Guys In the Room... Maybe.

CRRRAAAZY times at work.

1st, staff of us 4 teachers are informed that we're being "pushed" out of the Chinese public school, and will relocate. In like 2 weeks. To a beautiful new school which is in Beijing, but definitely NOT downtown Beijing. Students and parents not yet informed. Expectation that some will follow us out to the boonies. Not a word about compensation, no apology, no direct word from our employer or anything. Told to keep our mouths shut about this. Prepare for the impending midnight run.


It didn't really add up. How were we being pushed out? Why?

Oh, the public school, which is responsible to pay our wages was withholding payments, and so my employer the private school had to pay out of pocket? That was right good of them.

But that doesn't add up either. Why was all this info withheld? What's the reason behind the public school's actions?
particularly badly
Much to our employer's displeasure we called a meeting w/ the Chinese public school admin, where we found out they have completed all payments, and are mostly interested in hiring us teachers directly when the present contract expires in June.

Our present employer is using the students as pawns and forcing students, parents and teachers all into a pretty fucking unpleasant situation of a mid-term relocation, sure to break the student body in 1/2, and screw things up tragically for the grade 12ers who've been preparing for final exams for 3.5 years now. The school is doing so to force the kids into the new school, build the new school culture and (imo) slap the Chinese public school in the face.


Once us teachers figured this out, we realized that there's a fight going on over students and TEACHERS. So now us 4 teachers have called private meetings with the public school to see if we can actually wrangle a better deal and future contract. And we gave a list of demands to our present employer, who is doubtlessly pissed OFF.

Note: all teachers have at most scant traces of respect for present employer, and we all feel (even me) that we each have a bad relationship w/ her, and feel a real lack or respect from her.

Although to be fair, there has been no shortage of problems caused by the Chinese school either.

Anyhow, it's pretty exciting to be in a situation where we fought to figure out what was happening and squeezed ourselves into a better position.

Or we could all lose our jobs and end up with nothing.

But there's definite power in being a unified core, and knowing that many students would consider that WE are the school, not whatever f'ing name or company it's under. And knowing that we have already proven ourselves, improving all aspects of school life and exam marks to boot. And a bit scary knowing that we do have the ability to make a choice which could royally fuck our employer up the ass, potentially stealing the entire student body.

Sadly however, my principal who has worked her ass off for her teachers has fallen somewhat into our bad books as she perpetuated her employers lies, lying through her teeth herself.

Anyhow, there's still loads of unknowns and boring details that i won't get into. All of which somehow make for a divisive and stressy atmosphere at school, which has made it hard for teachers to muster up enough focus to organize another 90 minutes of instruction.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Sorry this is a tiny bit old, but if you haven't seen the above yet, then, there ya go.

Ok ok you all know that the Chinese govt censors some things. Fine, that's the way it is. China, love it or leave it. But if you DO live in China, then maybe you should at least understand the way it works around here. If you don't like (for example) something like censorship, then is it wise to post a video like the one above on the Chinese internet? That's just giving the Chinese govt all the justification they need to make sure that super strict surveillance of people's surfing habits is required.

The fact that the video is a cute cartoon is proof that it's intended to appeal to young and impressionable minds, opening ripe possibilities of creating revolutionaries.

People in China need to be a little bit more f'ing SENSITIVE to the dangers that less than purely communist ideas could spread.

If you know people in China, please let them know how to behave respectfully in order to create a harmonious society for all Chinese citizens, young and old, for all China, Asia, and the world!