What was I up to in August 2000?

Yes, my blogging can reach back to the year of the Sydney Olympics, thanks to the Internet Archive.

Thursday 31 August 2000

Fourteen days to the Olympics as of tomorrow. Moore Park, near where I live, has been in a state of destruction/reconstruction for the past two years, mainly due to an airport tollway built on its perimeter. The tollway is done, but the park is still mountains of topsoil. Interesting, as the pedestrian access to certain Olympic venues (according to the official map that arrived in my mailbox yesterday) goes right through it. Hmmmm.

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Just finished The Boy in the Lake by Eric Swanson; I swear I didn’t know it was a gay novel when I borrowed it from the library, but it is, and it is very good indeed. A rather slim novel, American, it explores relations between present and past, issues of adolescent sexuality, and guilt,love and betrayal. Here is a review, and a few other books which I haven’t read thrown in. Remarkably uncliched, and humane first and gay second–if you know what I mean.

Monday, August 7 2000

I thought people might find this amusing and interesting. It is a report I have written for our school newsletter:

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Hangzhou

Chinese students

Last Saturday the visiting students from Hangzhou returned to China. On Friday morning at a morning tea in their honour all five students spoke eloquently (in English) of the kindness they had experienced with their host families and here at our school. Two indeed wrote poems in English for the occasion; as these are to be published elsewhere I cannot use them here. In keeping with the multicultural nature of the occasion, I congratulated their teacher, Mr Xu, in very brief and halting Mandarin, on the students’ skill in English. Here are some more examples of the students’ writing.

Differences between Australian culture and Chinese culture

“1. The Chinese don’t show their feelings to others. There are no kissing or hugging. For example, a Chinese boy will do lots of things for his girlfriend, but he won’t say ‘I love you.’

“The Australian people are quite different. When you see an Australian people, you can know his feeling, happy or unhappy. It’s very easy. When someone disagree an idea, an Australian will say: ‘You are wrong.’ A Chinese will say, ‘Maybe you are right, but I have another idea.’

“Family is important to Chinese. A Chinese can do everything for family, even to die. The most familiar people is his wife, son, then his friend.

“I think the most important thing for an Australian is himself. When he is 18 years old, his father is his friend, not a father again. I find there are a lot of people have pet, a dog or a cat. That may be because he don’t have a child. The pet is his child.

“In all, there are many differences between the two cultures.”

–Duri

“2. (Australians) think if you like it, you should say. And if you hate it, you should let him know. But people in China do something different. For example, a guest wouldn’t say any of the meal is terrible, though it really is. He would force himself to eat it and try not to show his embarrassment. Because he think it is the custom.

“Second, Australians respect a people’s ideas more than people in China do. Parents wouldn’t let children to decisions to their own business. But in China parents would do more decisions for children, no matter if their children like. If you have a choice, the Australian would let you make it yourself, but Chinese people would give you more suggestions and even decide for you.”

— Robert

Wednesday, August 9 2000

Just back from the dentist–not too bad.

Yesterday a Singaporean-Australian student I taught a few years ago at my school brought me a copy of an anthology entitled Shades of Grey in which he has a piece published. In a very flattering inscription addressed to “one of the best teachers I had” he outlines the purpose of the collection: “to encourage a greater understanding of ethnic Australians and the community, and share and raise awareness of the thoughts and feelings of ethnic Australians,” especially the youth.

This is directed to all Australians, but also to Asian youth in relating to the older generation and their cultures. It is a splendid little book with poems, essays, memoirs and stories by a range of young men and women, particularly Vietnamese, but also Greek, ABC (Australian-born Chinese), and Chinese from various countries. The group behind the anthology has a website you may like to visit.

Monday, August 28 2000

Looking at the ergonomics of my setup here, and I will have to do something–experimenting moving stuff around. Partly this is some bad aches and pains in the neck and shoulder region. Maybe also the cold snap recently, or some flu-like thing. Who knows? The doctor seems almost as vague as I am about it. Get my neck x-rayed on Wednesday: maybe an old car accident? I had one or two.

Nothing like a few aches and pains to make one feel a bit of a relic, especially at my age. And the TV series Four Corners on ABC-TV (Australia. that is, still blessedly non-commercial and not to be confused with American ABC!) was on 21st century sweatshops known as “call centres”: I must say it made me more sympathetic to the people I sometimes deal with after going through the “Press 1, Press 2, Press Star” routine. Here I am on a computer right now–but I’m still a technophobe or pre-hi-tech romantic dreamer at heart. Ah me!!!

Interesting line in the program from a Phil Ruthven: “It’s not our values we have to change; it’s our habits.”

Most apt, as another aspect of my present health thing is my blood pressure was way up on its usual normality: so the ciggies must stop (again) and have today. God I stink! So does the apartment. If you don’t, guys and girls out there, DON’T SMOKE! Take it from me–nothing to recommend it, and a bastard to give up–for me anyway.

Promise to be more cheerful next time 🙂

I didn’t finally quit smoking until 28 February 2011! And that x-ray did uncover a one-time broken neck!

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