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Posts Tagged ‘students’

What’s So Bad About a #1 Pencil?

A regular contributor to the Greenville Journal is a man named Barry Ray whose column "Barry's World" reminds us a lot of the style of Dave Barry. One of his recent columns about back-to-school trauma was hilarious. I searched high and low to find it online somewhere, but to no avail. I wanted to put a link on my blog to the column. Finally I decided to write to the e-mail address for Barry Ray to ask him if I could get a copy of his article somewhere so that I could put it on my blog. Within a couple of hours I got a nice reply that stated, "I am planning on putting some older columns online soon. Right now, the Journal likes being the only source and putting them online would hurt subscriptions, I suppose. I have attached a JPEG of the column for you to use on your blog. Keep reading and thanks!"

And so with Barry's permission I'm placing the picture he sent me below. What you see below is a picture of a printed page, and so the quality of the print is not the best, but it's definitely worth the extra effort to read this one!

What's So Bad About a #1 Pencil?

A few weeks ago my wife Becka saw a restaurant review in the Greenville News that caught her attention. One of the reasons was that the reviewers all gave the restaurant high marks - a rarity indeed! So our little team who taught in Asia last year went there with our friend Ruth as a farewell before her return to Asia. We all enjoyed our meal very much, proclaiming we'd definitely be eating there again. The food was scrumptious, beautiful and plentiful, and the entrees ranged mainly from only $7 to $10.

Last evening Becka and I returned there for dinner and were dismayed that we were the only customers during our meal. We would hate to see this place close its doors! The restaurant is Vietnamese, and it is as authentic as you can get. It's a family-run restaurant, and everyone who works there is Vietnamese - unlike some of the local Chinese restaurants with Spanish speakers doing the cooking! With delicious food and a dining area that is clean and pleasant, there's no reason this place shouldn't be packing in the people! ...except that I don't think they have much of a notion at all about advertising. As a result, other than the review in the paper, they get customers only by word of mouth or from people happening by and wandering in.

updated 20 Oct. 2007: I've learned that the restaurant has closed its doors. Very sad.

Below is their business card. Too bad they didn't make it. Thanks to all of you locals who tried it out and attempted to give them more business.

SaiGon River business card


In reference to teachers ... "We are not just data merchants." - Dr. Dan Olinger

=^..^= =^..^=

If the #2 pencil is the most popular, why is it still #2?

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Mathematical Relationships

On the cusp of another academic year, I thought I'd share some math that might make more sense than the math we all learn in school....


A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.

A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need.


A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.

A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.

A successful woman is one who can find such a man.


To be happy with a man, you must understand him a lot and love him a little.

To be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all.


Married men live longer than single men do, but married men are a lot more willing to die.


A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.

A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, and she does.


A woman has the last word in any argument.

Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.


This is Rob, the ivman, again.

One of my favorite forms of math lately is doing Sudoku puzzles. Here's a recent Pluggers that I found amusing.

Plugger Sudoku

Sometime recently I ran across a picture of a gift idea for that Sudoku fan in your life who has everything.

Sudoku TP

Since this post is about relationships, here are several relational things from this past weekend.

My wife Becka and I just had an extremely enjoyable weekend away from home before the new school year starts up for the faculty and staff this week. One of Becka's college roommates has been wanting us to get together with her and her husband, and we finally found a weekend that worked for us all. We had such a good time talking and laughing with Cathy and David and were utterly spoiled by their gracious hospitality at their home in the Raleigh, NC area, a place we'd never visited before. We all agreed that we're not going to let so much time go by before our next reunion, hopefully at our house next time so we can return the favor. Below is a picture of Cathy, David, and Becka.

Cathy, David, and Becka

Another nice part of the weekend was being able to attend the wedding of one of my students who just graduated. Below is a picture of Becka and me with Ethan and Sarah.

Loaches and Messiers


"Whoever wins the next election is supposed to win. God sets up and pulls down kings and rulers." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=

If the shortest distance between two points is a line, why does waiting in one take so long?

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Mindset of the Class of 2010

We all view life and the world around us from our own frame of reference. Older people sometimes have trouble keeping up with such rapid change in our technological age. But younger people often have trouble thinking beyond their comparatively limited experiences. It's not uncommon for a young person to say with complete confidence, "I'll never need this. Why do I have to study it?" I heard a wise, older teacher tell that his reply to such a comment is "You are not equipped to know that."

As yet another new batch of freshman has arrived on campus, it's good to be reminded of what is "reality" for them. One way to do that that is becoming a tradition is to check the beloit.edu site to read their listing of the "mindset" of this year's freshman class. What I'm sending today is an edited version of their list - the items I found most interesting. If you want to read their list unedited, you can go to their site given below. Bear in mind that what these 18 year olds remember probably did not happen until after they were 5 or 6 years old.



Members of the class of 2010, the freshmen entering college this fall, were mostly born in 1988.

For them, the Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is about as scary as the student union.

They have known only two presidents.

For most of their lives, major U.S. airlines have been bankrupt.

Manuel Noriega has always been in jail in the U.S.

There has always been only one Germany.

They have never heard anyone actually "ring it up" on a cash register.

They are wireless, yet always connected.

Thanks to pervasive headphones in the back seat, parents have always been able to speak freely in the front.

A coffee has always taken longer to make than a milkshake.

Smoking has never been permitted on U.S. airlines.

Faux fur has always been a necessary element of style.

They have never had to distinguish between the St. Louis Cardinals baseball and football teams.

DNA fingerprinting has always been admissible evidence in court.

They grew up pushing their own miniature shopping carts in the supermarket.

They grew up with and have outgrown faxing as a means of communication.

"Google" has always been a verb.

Text messaging is their email.

Mr. Rogers, not Walter Cronkite, has always been the most trusted man in America.

Bar codes have always been on everything, from library cards and snail mail to retail items.

Carbon copies are oddities found in their grandparents' attics.

They grew up in mini-vans.

Young women's fashions have never been concerned with where the waist is.

They have rarely mailed anything using a stamp.

Brides have always worn white for a first, second, or third wedding.

Being techno-savvy has always been inversely proportional to age.

"So" as in "That is sooooo New York," has always been a drawn-out adjective modifying a proper noun, which in turn modifies something else

They have always been able to watch wars and revolutions live on television.

Retin-A has always made America look less wrinkled.

Small white holiday lights have always been in style.

Most of them never had the chance to eat bad airline food.

They have always been searching for "Waldo."

They never played the game of state license plates in the car.

They have always preferred going out in groups as opposed to dating.

There have always been live organ donors.

They have always had access to their own credit cards.

They have never put their money in a "Savings & Loan."

Bad behavior has always been getting captured on amateur videos.

Disneyland has always been in Europe and Asia.

Beach volleyball has always been a recognized sport.

Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti have always been luxury cars of choice.

Television stations have never concluded the broadcast day with the national anthem.

Disposable contact lenses have always been available.

Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss has always been the perfect graduation gift.

They have always "dissed" what they don't like.

The U.S. has always been studying global warming to confirm its existence.

Richard M. Daley has always been the Mayor of Chicago.

They grew up with virtual pets to feed, water, and play games with, lest they die.

Professional athletes have always competed in the Olympics.


personal update...

Last week we had an all-too-brief visit from a friend I met in France in 1975 - Doris Gilbert, for those of you who know her. I hadn't seen her in 14 years, and it was wonderful to see someone whose life has had such an impact on mine. It was a huge blessing to see her continuing to minister to many, at age 83, long after she's officially "retired from ministry." She asked me if other seniors receive my iv's, and I assured her that there are a good number in that category on my mailing list. Since she had brought the age thing up, I told her that I wanted to ask her, since she knew him personally, if George Washington was a nice man. Without missing a beat, she said, "You must have me confused with my grandfather." We did talk a little about history, and it was neat to hear the perspectives of someone who has lived even more of history than we have.


To the assembled faculty this fall: "All of us are students, learners, sitting at His feet." - Dr. Stewart Custer

=^..^= =^..^= =^..^=

You know it's going to be a bad day when your teenager knocks on your bedroom door first thing in the morning and says, "Today is Nerd Day at school, Dad. Can I borrow some of your clothes?"

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Saturday Morning from This Side

Even though some of you may read this on Friday evening, it's already Saturday morning here. Our first week of classes has already ended. That's just amazing! The time is flying by! We all are enjoying our classes, and the students seem genuinely interested, for the most part. I learned from the parent of one of my students yesterday that most of my "middle school" students are the children of teachers here at Hainan University. In fact, she herself is an English teacher. She sat in on the last hour of my class, just to pick up some ideas and teaching techniques. The students in my class change from day to day - some don't show up, and new ones do. The other three teachers have had the same experience. Some of it is that the students go from one class to the next, seeking the level with which they are most comfortable. The reason I put quotation marks around middle school in describing my students is that they range from age 9 to 13. Below is a picture of my class taken early this week. They're really cute kids and some are really sharp!

my middle school students

Last evening (Friday) our Chinese doctor and his wife who is also a doctor came by to deliver our medicine. We were to begin taking it last night. Before I took any, my symptoms were already worsening. Then after the first dose I had a rough night of coughing and a seeming inability to clear my throat, even after having taken an expectorant I'd brought along. Once I finally got to sleep, I was fine, but it was a short night of sleep. This morning, though, I am having fewer symptoms, so we'll see.... Below is a picture of me after I poured out the first dose. I had not yet experienced the taste of the vile stuff, which, to be perfectly honest, was really not bad. Becka's hoping she's not going to lose that shiny image of "picture of health" - she began blowing her nose at bedtime last night and during the night. I'm sure after seeing everyone else's luscious bottles of Chinese medicine, she wants to share the experience. By the way, I have only 3 bottles to down in 3 days. Jean and Yvonne each have 7 bottles to down in 7 days. The dosages for all three of us is one-third of a bottle, three times a day (being sure to exclude the sediment at the bottom of the bottle). I have not spoken to either Jean or Yvonne since they went back to their apartment last evening. I'm anxious to learn how each of their medicines tasted to them. 🙂 On to the picture....


In an hour and a half, we are supposed to leave for our weekend down south. When I have the opportunity after our return, I'll share some of what we saw and experienced. Bye for now!

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Last Class and Some Goodbyes

Yesterday was our last day of class. Becka and I combined our classes for the last two hours so that we could do some things together. Becka dictated ten questions to the students in English. After writing them down, they had to answer them according to their lives and preferences. Then we set them about the task of finding other students who had the same answer for a question. The winner was the first one to have ten names written down - a different name by each question. At first the students were quite timid, but by the end they were mixing well and it was difficult to get their attention to end the game. Below is a picture of the students playing our game.

the students playing 10 questions

After the game we sang several American folk songs, several French folk songs, and one final song in English, French, and Chinese - Silent Night. Earlier this week we had both talked about holidays and their origins, and so singing this song was quite natural and thoroughly enjoyed by the students. The final hour was spent in a room with a ping pong table that was perfect for enjoying the cookies and Coca Cola we had brought for the students. They did not seem to know quite how to respond since they are not used to teachers doing nice or special things for them. We had a good opportunity to talk to some of them one on one. Many expressed appreciation for our teaching and several were interested in things that are vitally important to us.

After classes were over, we were treated to lunch at a fine restaurant in town. This special meal was going to be breakfast on Sunday, but for some reason it was moved to Friday noon, which was just fine with us. Almost all the same people present had been there in the same room for our welcome dinner three weeks earlier. Below is a picture of the dean and her husband.

the dean and her husband

On the menu was a special cold soup called YinYan Soup. This must be a challenge to make! In the plate to the right of the soup is something called "fish lungs."

YinYan Soup

This morning (Saturday) we were treated to breakfast by the parents of Ruth's helper, Carter - the little boy whom I mentioned in several earlier blog entries. The restaurant where we had breakfast was huge and there were hundreds of people having breakfast there early on a Saturday morning. Carter's parents have been wonderfully kind to us during our time here. Below is their picture.

the parents of Carter

Many of the items were wheeled by the little room where we were eating, and our hosts chose items for our breakfast. Below is a picture of Carter's father checking out the food "Ã la carte."

some of the food carts

We were *finally* able to try Hainan noodles, one of the regional specialties that, for the entire three weeks of our classes, our students had been telling us about and asking us if we'd tried. Here's a picture of the famed Hainan noodles:

Hainan noodles

One of the items on our menu today was the seemingly ubiquitous chicken feet. Becka and I somehow artfully dodged them, but I was able to snap a picture of Carter's mother's plate with an uneaten chicken foot and the remains of the ones she had already enjoyed. I have become shamelessly adept at making it look like I'm photographing one thing when I am actually taking a picture of something else. On to the picture of the chicken feet...

chicken feet - before and after enjoyment

After breakfast we did some grocery shopping to get the final ingredients for dinner at our place this evening. We are having our closest associates and friends here in for a meal together before our departure on Monday. The shopping trip was capped off with a trip home in one of the other type of taxis I showed you in a previous post. I would post a picture, but our driver would not allow me to photograph her and, at my most devious, I had no way of doing so clandestinely. Once again, the mind's images can be even more vivid....

Tomorrow if I am able to, I hope to post some final random pictures. If I'm not able to, I'm sure everyone will understand. Please remember us as we begin our trip home Monday morning. For those of you in the good ole USA, that will be Sunday evening your time. We will spend Monday in Hong Kong, before taking the long flight home on Tuesday. I don't know how I'll continue a blog after we're home. Our daily lives there are so drab in comparison to the colorful life we've lived this past month! But then, our experiences have been the result of our time here being a special event - the university officials and Ruth and some of her friends wanted us to experience as much as possible during our visit. Ruth's normal life here is nothing like what we have experienced, and we could not last for long if we lived year round the way we've lived this month!

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