Rugby Fields Forever

Chongching lost three of their players with no subs, at the half, so two of us Pandas put on the blue, me included,

and their strongest woman joined also. Chengdu won, plus I got my first try (touchdown) in competition for the Chengdu side, so

my new hobby is on track.










No Heavy Lifting

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I teach a section of Academic Writing at Sichuan University, and this activity is rather interesting…

I’m convinced that many of these students, going for Masters in Translations and Interpretation (MTI), will be faced with endless requests to translate and edit Bio-Med articles. I’ve been grappling with a few of those lately.

So, I wrote a “sample essay” about a disease on the full screen – on rabies, something which I know about, having been given the shot treatment for a cat bite in Mexico. I wrote the essay as a model, but of course prompted the class to come up with certain words like “incubation period” (they got it) and others… Buhler? Buhler? (They got that, too). But everyone also appreciated that these were serious topics.

Then, I wrote out the names of no less than 40 diseases (or conditions) and placed them in a hat. Each student picked out one, tasked with writing a short essay, complete with a section on causes, transmission, symptoms, and treatment. These included Parkinson’s, Scurvy, Diabetes, Syphilis, HIV, Ebola, Mad Cow Disease, Malaria, and the list goes on. For fun, I even threw in Restless Leg Syndrome.

Next, we get to edit them all on the big screen, always a fun process. Seriously, teaching Chinese students is a luxury, as they combine studiousness with a great sense of humor.


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Fan from Tadjikistan


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Top left to bottom right, representing: UK, Australia, UK, Samoa, USA, Holland

UK, China, Vanuatu, China, USA (& Panama)



Scandal. That’s my latest binge, great for relaxing.  I suppose it is a bit like West Wing, but a bit more salacious, more scandalous. Quite similar to House of Cards, but sexier: Olivia Pope played by Kerry Washington will take care of that.

The scandals of the past few decades are compressed into one administration of Fitzgerald Grant: vote-rigging scandals, sexual scandals, assassination scandals, supreme court scandals, and the like, complete with references to the Patriot Act and the rest of it. Lots of political grandstanding. Lots of Heavies walking up and down the Halls of Power, bloated with self importance.

Amazingly, just as in House of Cards, the characters in Scandal conspire with one another over cell phones, implicating themselves in endless felonies, blissfully unaware that every word is being recorded by multiple intelligence agencies at home and abroad. So it’s all quite ludicrous but still good entertainment.

Post-Game Pics










Guest Posting

“Baseball in China”   By: Paul Schifilliti

The Peoples Republic of China is the world’s most populous country and recently has become the world’s largest economy. Since the economic reforms of 1978, this land of 1.35 billion people has obtained an exceptionally quick growing economy. This has opened bottomless possibilities in a myriad of markets, ranging from construction to agriculture, and everything in between. Among all of the emerging markets in China today, one that stands out to me personally is baseball.

After its creation in 1839, baseball slowly spread to the rest of the world, increasingly towards the beginning of the 20th century. This is even true when considering the communist nation of China, where today baseball is understood by few. In 1873, government officials of the Qing dynasty had sent 30 students to study in the United States, in attempt to gain knowledge on the western learning style. However, they would return with much more than merely our learning style, they would return with America’s past time. During their time at Yale, three of the Chinese students established Yale’s Chinese Baseball team. Upon their return home, they brought the game with them.

Again in 1895, baseball had made more congress at the Huiwen Academy of Classical Learning in Beijing. However, the first official game wasn’t held in China until 1907. Yes, baseball has been of existence in this foreign land for over 100 years, yet if you were to ask a random local citizen about the game today, chances are you would receive a puzzled stare.

What went wrong? There are many ways to go about answering such a vague question, but one must first take into consideration the ideals of Mao Zedong. Prior to the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, baseball was a part of the national games. Although the game showed potential for progress, it had not yet caught the baseball fever as America had.

With the reforms of the country underway, Mao Zedong lead the communist nation. Beloved by most of China’s people, Zedong’s words were very powerful. When the subject of baseball was brought up, Zedong declared it was a symbol of the imperialist west, and should not be played in China. His feelings for basketball were much more sympathetic, explaining how it has become one of the more popular sports in China. The communist leader should not be held entirely responsible for the decline of baseball in China; it does not help that the game requires more land than other sports.

Back in those times, many Chinese considered the game as imperialistic, but times have changed. With an economy growing as fast as theirs, China is no stranger to innovation. Big business is constantly looking for the next big thing, but what if the next big thing has been here all along. Baseball represents a world of opportunity for China, as it has for Japan and South Korea.

Some Americans have claimed that the talent simply isn’t there when considering Chinese ball players. That’s like handing the average American athlete a willow cricket bat and expecting them to be a superstar.

The game needs time to develop in China before players of the country can be comparable to that of a nation that has consistently played the game for over 150 years and turned the sport into a multi-billion dollar industry. That was done in a nation of 300 million people; imagine the potential in a nation of a whopping 1.3 billion people. I know this may sound cliché, but the possibilities are endless.

Results are In

Our class (US and Chinese students) deployed a survey (in Chinese) to over 100 people in public areas of Chengdu. Some of the questions are listed below.

The self-reporting was from 1 (minimum) to 5 (maximum), with the average responses (most aged 18 – 30) shown below for male and female respondents (of which there were more than 100 combined):

How important is it to care for parents in their old age?

Male     4.60             Female 4.54

How much pressure do (or did) parents place upon you to get married?

Male  3.53                Female 4.37

How much self pressure do (or did) you place upon yourself to get married?

Male  3.66                Female 3.86

How important is it for a couple to be romantically in love for marriage?

Male   4.38               Female 4.25

How important is it for children in China to learn English as a second language?

Male   3.86               Female 4.11

How present is western food and entertainment in your life?

Male   2.98               Female 2.98

Should the man be the breadwinner in a relationship?

Male  3.75                Female 2.89

How much say or power should a family have over a person’s career?

Male  2.75                Female 2.63

The Long Way Home






Heaps of Photographs


I took a ton of pictures yesterday and today, so might as well put them up: If being a tourist is worth doing, then it’s also worth overdoing.

Fortunately, in Old Manila I met two Chinese women, like-minded goofballs. Automatic common ground, with my living in China…

Someday will spend five years writing a history of the Manila Galleon, the Spanish colonial shipping line that ran across the Pacific Ocean between Manila and Acapulco, Mexico, from about 1510 to 1810 (that’s dedication).
































So, my visa for China is good for 1 year, but I have to leave and return every 120 days. Otherwise I’d have to change from the F visa to a residency visa, which is more complicated.

Most people in my position go to Hong Kong for a few days and return – which, oddly, is for these visa purposes considered a separate country, as in not the mainland. Hong Kong has its own immigration process and its own money, so the situation is obviously complex. Going to Taiwan does not count, as it is considered the same country under these circumstances, a renegade province.

Some people fly from China to Bangkok to maintain their visas. Many Chinese tourists also go to Thailand, since there are no real visa requirements. Few Chinese tourists come to the Philippines, although I did see a group of determined women shoppers at the mall, which is accessible after going through metal detectors and a gender-specific pat down.

As obvious by now, I booked a cheap flight to Manila, the Philippines. First, I took a train from Chengdu to Chongching, to catch the flight. Being October 1, the start of national holiday, masses of people were at the train station. It was a sea of humanity.

Second, I took a long metro from Chongching (the next day) to the airport for a flight to Shanghai. But then I had to change airports, about an hour apart on the shuttle bus.

Third, I got on the flight from Shanghai to Manila, landing in the Philippines at 3 am. No wonder it was a cheap flight. It’s too late to get a hotel, in terms of wasting money for a few hours, and too early to check in. So I slept on some chairs in the airport until the day really started.

At last, I am in the tropical land of mango rum and pleasant scenery, and natural surroundings are also nice.

I’ll be uploading photos of Manila, probably Old Manila, the Spanish headquarters for their almost 400 years of colonial rule.