Monday, September 17, 2007

I got a big box in the mail today and look at what it was!

I've just been published in Swindle Magazine!

A story I wrote about Joan Hinton, the American physicist who joined the Chinese Communist Revolution in 1948 after working on the Manhattan Project (she is 86 now), was included in the latest edition of the magazine, the "Death and Fame" issue.

And here is what the story looked like (if can get a copy of the magazine, the story is on page 58)!

Greg Basdevant, whom I met while doing some work for him at Colors Magazine, took the pictures. Rather unfortunately, they only used one of the many excellent photos he took on our trip to see Ms. Hinton.

The story was mostly interview, and much to my surprise, it ran the length of two pages.

And I already got the check in the mail! Woo hoo!

If you want to see more about the magazine, check out their Web site at

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Living with Dad is not easy. Or perhaps, living with me is not easy. Either way, Dad and I have finally found something of routine for living together. The most important part of this routine is getting his compression socks on in the morning, and then taking them off at night. Dad is mostly wheelchair-bound and with limited mobility on his left side, as the result of a stroke he suffered almost five years ago, it is next to impossible for him to put on socks or shoes. This is especially true in the case of his compression socks which are designed to minimize the effects of gravity by squeezing the legs tight enough to keep fluids from swelling in his feet. With two good hands, getting the damned things on him is a challenge for me, also.

So the other night, I was tired rather early, and noticing that Dad was going through his normal before bed routine, I announced my intention to also go to bed. "Good," he said, "me, too." I waited in the kitchen for him as his took his night-time pills. He looked at me. I said nothing. "What do you want?" he asked. "Nothing," I said, "I'm just waiting for you to go to bed so I can take off your socks." "Oh, I see." So, he swallowed his last pill, wheeled himself into his room and got himself into bed. I got his arms and legs situated (he has to really work at adjusting himself to get into bed properly), then I yanked off the socks and left them hanging over the foot of the bed.

"Do you need anything, Papa?" I asked, as I always do before turning off the light. "No, no, I'm fine." So, I said "good night", switched off the light, then went to bed myself.

Not long after I got into bed, but before I fell asleep, I heard the creak of Dad's bed (it's a motorized hospital bed). Then shuffling. Then the click of the light switch and the squeak of the wheelchair. This was all followed shortly by the sound of water running, a toilet flushing, teeth brushing and more water. Then a pause. Then wheelchair clicking, shuffling, squeaking, light switch, and settling. Then nothing.

My only explanation for this was that the old man didn't want to ask me to wait an extra 10 minutes so that he could finish his routine before getting into bed, possibly irritating me or preventing me from a few more minutes of sleep (not that I would have been annoyed). So instead of just telling me he wasn't ready for bed, he played along, went through the motions, then sat there in the dark waiting for me to fall asleep before getting himself back up to do what he had to do.

What nerve!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

This is amazing. While most foreigners travelling through Asia must learn to cope with the squat toilet, here is a company in New Zealand bringing the discomfort home! You can learn more about this handy device, and the small fortune you would have to pay to have one of your own at

(In fairness, the company argues that squatting allows for healthier evacuation, and after having lived in China for three and a half years, I wouldn't discount that there might be something to it.)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

My first job in China was at the Dalian Institute of Light Industry; this was about four years ago. One of my responsibilities at the university was to give intensive spoken English lessons to a group of students preparing to go to the University of Swansea, in Wales. Of that group of 10 or so, just a couple actually made it to Swansea. Others however, went to Australia to pursue a masters program. I kept in touch with one of the students--he wound up near Sydney--and recently I have received word that he has just graduated!

Here he is!

At the risk of sounding schmaltzy, I am a very proud teacher!