One of the hazards of taking (or teaching) logic is wondering about things from a particular, possibly idiosyncratic, perspective. No one else seems to care about the paradox (antinomy?) of the Vatican Museum: as mentioned before, what if everyone buys a “jump the line” ticket? Similar kinds of questions keep appearing: since the Fulbrighters had their Pre-Departure Orientation (PDO) in North Carolina, what was the orientation called in Beijing; the Departure Orientation (DO)? And, if what I learn from Twitter is true—and it undoubtedly is—is it true that nobody uses the phrase “it is not the case that” unless he or she has taken logic? Also why, in the civilization that invented paper, are the napkins so small? Finally, is the rule for left turns when driving in urban China that there are no rules? There is only one pizza that can help with these conundra:
We spent most of the Orientation hearing presentations, including two good student presentations about their expectations of teachers, particularly foreign (American) teachers. We also were told some technical information about ID, crime, and how to avoid rabies: standard kinds of things you think you don’t need until rabid you shows up at the hospital having just been pickpocketed, only to discover you have no ID.
We also heard from the professionals about politics and economics. Bottom line? It’s complicated. The word of the day to describe the Trump Administration was “interesting,” which I have come to discover can be said in a virtually infinite number of ways. The payoff for this was to eat Western food and hang out with the US Ambassador to China, former Iowa governor Terry Branstad. I asked, but he was unwilling to state a preference for Hawkeyes vs. Cyclones. Hey, he’s a politician. As you can imagine, no one discussed politics.
The next day was Fun Day. We were taught by the fabulous Michelle Tang, the Pride of New Zealand, how to make hand-pulled noodles (along with a basic tomahto sauce). The two surprises, given it was a bunch of academics cooking? No injuries and the food was not just edible, but good. I sense Michelle was largely responsible for this success, and I highly recommend checking out The Hutong if you ever get to Beijing. (You could check it out if you never get to Beijing, but that would be fairly pointless.)
We also got a great tour of a Hutong from Jeremiah Jenne, the Pride of New Hampshire. My dad used to refer to people as being so smart that they needed two heads to carry all of it around in. Jeremiah might need three heads. He is also connected with The Hutong, if you want to get the inside skinny on Beijng.
And we finished off the fun day with . . . beer. (Wise King Serge stuck with water.)
Then off to catch the bullet train (fast, clean, reasonably priced, efficient, on time: US politicians might consider how US transportation . . . ah, never mind) to Suzhou.
I had a very helpful tour of, and informative welcome to, Suzhou University, from Jill and Tianyu (aka Jairo).
Then it was off to some of my old haunts: Zemos, Costa, Blue Frog.
And the week concluded with a magnificent banquet with the Dean and several other administrators of Suzhou University, as well as a couple of other people whose lawyers insisted I leave nameless. It was a great evening, with many toasts and a little bit of food: it made me feel very welcome. 干杯!
Finally, some China weirdness. I saw this mug and had to have it: there is no love deeper than Elk Love, as is clear from the phrase “Heart to the Distance.”
And, yes, I thought I was buying some Kleenex™.
I came home to discover I purchased a package of 卫生护垫 (panty liners.)
The packages look pretty similar, but I have been told I sometimes don’t pay attention.