Blog News

1. Comments are still disabled though I am thinking of enabling them again.

2. There are now several extra pages - Poetry Index, Travel, Education, Childish Things - accessible at the top of the page. They index entires before October 2013.

3. I will, in the next few weeks, be adding new pages with other indexes.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

False Memory

(Posting to kill time while I wait for the horrible journey to begin.)

I was reading an article about false memories and how little, if anything, of what we recall from our childhoods, is actually true.
I have an story of what is certainly a false memory - though it's hard to say whose.

My brother and I both recall in detail an incident from early childhood. Near to where we lived there used to be a patch of waste ground and annually a travelling fair would arrive and set up there. One year we went along and one of us, neither of us can recall who, won a goldfish - fairgrounds in those days routinely gave away goldfish as prizes. Back home it was carefully decanted from the plastic bag into a bowl of clean water and we left it. A few days later, as fairground goldfish were wont to do it was lying belly up on the surface. We were both really unhappy and our mother, probably more to say she'd tried than in any expectation of success, took a drinking straw and started to blow gently into its mouth - giving the kiss of life to a goldfish. To everyone's amazement it started to swim around the bowl again, completely unaware that it had been dead.

Now that, I think you will agree, is so unlikely that it's probably a false memory but it might have happened that way. Possibly. Maybe.

We have told the story many times over the years and recall our mother more fondly for it. However a few years after my mother passed away her sister, our aunt, also died. At the funeral the vicar, in her eulogy, told a story that had been recounted to her by one of our cousins. It was identical in every respect to our story of the resurrected goldfish - with the sole exception that it was one of them who had one it and their mother that had performed the miracle rather than ours.

Now unlikely as it was to have happened even once, that it could have happened exactly that way twice is staggeringly improbable. But it seems that while my brother and I recall it one way, our cousins (three of them at the funeral) recall it the other way. No one is telling lies so someone has a false memory. I suspect that it never actually happened at all and all of us are misremembering.

Worst. Spring Break. Ever. Part 3

Slight change that's made it a little better.
Now it seems there will be about eight hours delay between my train arriving in Xi-AN and my plane leaving. They have promised me a hotel room where I can get a few hours sleep before heading off to get the plane.
And it seems I won't have to work until Tuesday, so a slight improvement.

And, looking on the bright side, this delay has given me a chance to watch the new Star Trek Continues episode - "Lolani" which was really rather good. Definitely true to the original series.

Worst. Spring Break. Ever. Part 2

They really want me to go.

And with that in mind, apparently they have a new plan.

Now keep in mind that I only got the plaster off my leg four days ago and that it stiffens up very quickly if I sit with my leg bent causing me a lot of pain.

Here's the plan.

1. Train at 8 pm to Lanzhou - 2 hours seated
2. Train at 11:35 pm to Xi-An - hard seat, no sleepers available - 8 hour journey
3. Car to Xi-AN airport - 1 hour - seated
4. Flight to Guilin - about 2 hours - seated
5. Car to Yangshuo - about 90 minutes seated

And then I take a walking tour of the town.

Walk? They'll be lucky if I can stand.

Worst. Spring Break. Ever.

This is now officially the worst Spring Break in the history of Spring Breaks. I'm supposed to be on the way to the airport now to fly down to teach in Yangshuo for two weeks but I'm not.
If you think that the reason is connected to my recent broken knee-cap - perhaps that the physio hasn't gone well - then you're wrong. The physio has gone just fine. Of course I've spent the last two months virtually housebound but since the plaster came off, just four days ago, I've been improving rapidly.
No the reason is that Baiyin is in the middle of nowhere. Most of the time I don't realise or think about just how isolated this damned city is. When it does choose to remind me it's a pain in the backside. It's just reminded me. 
It snows one day a year in Baiyin. Today's the day. And what that means is that on the one day when I positively have to get to the airport to fly down to Yangshuo for that training - which is supposed to begin at 9 O'clock tomorrow - the highway is closed because of bad weather. They won't, they say, be able to open it until Wednesday which means that I will probably now NOT be going down to do the training. There is, apparently, NO OTHER WAY to get to Lanzhou airport - no other way to get to anywhere, to get out of the city at all. We are trying to find out if there is a train: there is a station but when they run at all, it's once a day. That would then have to be followed by a taxi (if that section of the highway is open). The flight I would need to reschedule for tomorrow (if the airport isn't also closed by the weather).
Would you like to guess how much snow I can see from my window? Scarcely a light dusting. It shouldn't be enough to stop a skateboard.

And, the crowning glory for the holiday, there is a very good chance that I will soon be without a girlfriend again as she is fretting about whether we have any real possibility of a future because of our different backgrounds and the fact that neither of us wants to permanently leave their country. She's becoming increasingly distant as she tries to protect herself against the real likelihood that at some time I will be leaving and she will be staying. It's not making for a close relationship.  

Oh joy. Sometimes I wish I'd never left England at all.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Plaster is off

Well, that's the good news. After eight weeks the plaster is off and my kneecap is fully healed. Te bad news is that after eight weeks without bending my leg every movement is agony. I had my first session on the machine that alternately bends and straightens my leg for an hour and that was agony too. I have nine more sessions before I have to get on a plane and sit with my legs bent for two hours. I expect that will be agony too. Can't write too much now. I'm off for a cup of tea then the second physio session.